It was dark. The only light filtered in from passing stars and emanated softly from the emergency strips around the door.

He loved the Observation Deck though he would never admit it in so many words. It filled him with a sense of calm to be near velvety, fascinating space; the siren call he'd felt sing in his very blood, like the drives of old before Surak's teachings.

The stars reminded him of his mother. She loved to take him outside into the clear Vulcan nights, a time when she could more easily bear the temperatures, and look for shapes in the scattered placement of the celestial lights.

They would stand close together at the top of the hill behind their home, his mother's familiar scent wafting faintly, soothingly, from the fabric of her clothes. Refuge from the warring of his divided psyche and others' prejudiced judgment was always found by her side. Love flowed between them, unspoken on his part, but still palpable.

"See Spock? Over there? No, about two degrees higher. It's just like a lion!" Her voice was crystal - high, clear, beautiful - as she bent to check his view.

His father frowned upon his wife's activities, but Spock secretly delighted in her occasional frivolous, whimsical fancies. She was typically a very logical Terran, but there was a definite romanticism, a burning curiosity in her nature.

Pain lanced through him at the memory of Amanda. Her kind eyes, her warm laughter, and the comfort of her steady love. It was a duller ache now though than it once was. As of tomorrow, it would be two years since her death.

Perhaps the rest of the crew believed him to be seeking solitude in remembrance of her. It was not implausible. Indeed, last year he had needed it; had sent away all those who wanted to offer comfort, even Nyota, who looked up at him with a hurt expression and said, "I'm never really going to reach you am I?"

That their romantic relationship's termination was imminent struck Spock then, as he stood looking into her dark eyes and saw only unhappiness reflected there. He never wished to cause Nyota pain, but he just could not respond in the ways she needed. Could not hold her, could not love her.

Standing in the door of his quarters, he had watched her walk away from him, knowing that he would never call her back, that he would let her go. He would allow her to depart from him. Everyone he cared for disappeared from his life eventually, leaving behind them mere trace impressions and ghosts of emotions.

Only one person had managed to stay that day. Despite Spock's many attempts to eject the captain from his quarters, the man had proved most stubborn. For every reason the Vulcan had for him to go, the human had two reasons to remain; for every attempted distraction, a deflection of his own. They spent an entire hour in argument over the exact interpretation of Resolution 1239, subsection C, and whether it gave the captain the right to remain in his rooms. Spock was unused to being matched in regulatory conversations. Or any conversations for that matter. That a simple discussion could tax his considerable mental facilities so was unexpected.

"C'mon, play me in one iiiitttty bbiiittty game. It'll be awesome, I swear. I think I'm good enough to take you. Shit, I'm probably great enough to just beat anyone else."

The man's wheedling tone and arrogance seemed to grate on the half-Vulcan's very skin nerves.

Eventually overcome by the sheer human frustration he felt, Spock had acquiesced to his demands, finally agreeing to play Kirk in chess. Of course, this was after obtaining the wily captain's promise to leave once the game ended.

With a clap and a bound, Jim carefully cleared his small meditation table and set up the board, taking white for himself and leaving Spock the black pieces.

Expecting easy victory, he had played by carefully memorized patterns, not fully attending.

He moved pieces by rote, hardly even pausing as his graceful fingers maneuvered the soldiers across the contrasting field. The anticipation of Kirk's departure was forefront in his thoughts. Once the Terran had been dispatched, he would be able to meditate and drown in memory uninterrupted.

Jim checked him.

His mind was called back with an unpleasant bump, and looking at the board, Spock realized that giving the captain less than full attention was a dangerous business. Through a combination of surprising skill and illogical maneuvering, he had the Vulcan trapped.

Two moves more, and he was mated.

It seemed impossible. Five shifts ago, he had bested Ensign Checkov, a top ranked Federation player, in twelve moves. Captain Kirk was not even ranked and beat him in ten. Curiosity smoldered to life within him. Where had Kirk learned such tactics? What were his play patterns? Could he duplicate such a feat again?

Impetuously, Spock demanded a rematch, and proceeded to shed his grief in the twists of Jim's game.

He should have known then that he was doomed.

But he did not, and so, unwittingly, rushed headlong into his own torment.


He observed Captain James Tiberius Kirk.

Watched him talk, laugh, smile, and cry.

Saw the entrenched loyalty he had for his crew, the lack of care he had for himself.

Saw his respect for all living things, the tireless efforts he made for others.

Saw the way those others responded to him, showing open faces and devotion, like sunflowers following the path of the Terran solar star.

Saw his shining intelligence, even when he sought to dim it.

Saw his ability to bend events to his will; sometimes by obstinate force, more often through sly twistings of fate; like the installation of a subroutine into life itself.

And finally, he simply saw Jim.

Eyes that sparked, sending messages from him to Spock without a word.

A mouth most mobile, always moving, whether pursed in thought, pressed in anger, wide in a smile, or open in laughter.

Teeth that flashed like pearls.

Laughter that floated iridescent.

Skin running like burnished gold; smooth and peppered with traces of past hurts. It covered a powerful form, stretched over taut muscles. A teasing voice that caught Spock staring, breath tangled in his throat.

Hands, strong and large, with long tapering phalanges and clean, rounded fingernails, but crossed with scars that spoke of dirt. They were kind hands – experienced ones – but none the less kind for their journey. He remembered each time those hands had touched him in perfect painful clarity.


Spock could not precisely say when he became aware of being in love, but he could estimate it to the time when Jim had been unconscious for 7 days, 9 hours, 12 minutes, and 31 seconds recovering from a severe allergic reaction that would have liquidized his internal organs if not for the quick-thinking ministrations of Doctor McCoy.

Spock did not like feeling grateful to the irascible man, but he would have pleaded with Nero himself for Jim's life, so he decided to think of it as an agreeable alternative.

Despite having been assured of the captain's imminent recovery time and again, the Vulcan spent the entire week in a wound up state of agitation, listlessly performing standard protocol Starfleet missions that Jim called "milk runs" and calling Sickbay every tenth minute. He vowed Jim would never again go planetside without his accompaniment.

Spock loathed to be on the bridge without his friend's sanguine voice, his humor that dispelled monotony, his companionship that glowed steadily, easily felt emanating from the command center to the Science Station. Spock refused to sit in Jim's chair, choosing instead to stand by it, absently resting his hand on its back.

The crew did not think it amiss or out of character for the Acting Captain. They treated him with respect, but also with the certain caution one has with an invalid. Now, Spock recognized that all knew what he had been too blind to see until then.

Love.

His love that burned for the captain. A fire of hottest flame that scorched him even as it gave meaning to his being. A hopeless thing that roared on without fuel.

Spock knew that he had found his partner, his match, a man that made him feel as though being of two worlds was a beautiful thing. A man in whose presence he found solace from the quieter, but still raging battles inside himself. A man who stopped any negative statements about Spock's half-breed status, a still sensitive subject, oftentimes before they even fell from the offender's lips. A man equal to his mother.

He had thought it sufficient to stay by the captain's side, as his friend, as his First Officer, as anything Jim needed him to be. That it was enough. That to carry on with this unrequited passion would sustain him so long as Jim was living and near.

A foolish, vain notion which was shattered when he saw Jim and Nyota, freed from their relationship, entering the smiling captain's quarters.

Pain lanced him again, this time fresh and keen. Anguish.

Nyota had mentioned the captain's infatuation with her at the Academy.

Three days ago she stated, "He iiiissss handsome. I have to give him that," with a suggestive glance in Spock's direction.

A glance he pretended not to see, a comment he chose not to hear.

And the captain had certainly never been averse to her physical beauty, as noted by Spock on several occasions, both during him and Nyota's relationship and after.

Though the First Officer did have reason to believe the two shared less than congenial relations, he should never have believed it enough to keep the attractive Terrans apart. He knew from studies that Terran coupling did not rely on life partnership – or a romantic relationship at all.

Numb and unseen, he had aborted his trip to Jim's quarters for their nightly chess game and come to the observation deck.

There Amanda's son sat in silence and thought, cursing himself for loving an impossible being. He was stupid, illogical, wretched. Should not he know by now that they all left him behind? He squinted his eyes, forcing back the tears that hovered threateningly in his ducts.

Light sliced across the darkness, splintering Spock's thoughts.

Only one person could override his code on the locked door.

Jim.

He stood in the door, haloed by the cutting light, enfolded in its golden caress.

Spock's heart squeezed painfully at the sight.

Jim moved forward, blinking rapidly as his eyes adjusted to the dark. Spock noted that he wore more comfortable civilian clothes; soft black pants and a faded grey shirt beginning to show threadbare at the seams. Had he changed…afterwards?

"Hey! What's up? You never showed for our chess game! I had a new strategy of illogic prepared."

His voice exposed a glowing mood – perhaps the very same post coital glow Spock had read about. He longed to growl.

"If I wished to squander my valuable time on such a frivolous pursuit, you would have found me there Captain. However, fortuitously for you, Nyota certainly seems a suitable substitute."

Verba volant.

Spock wished to take back his bitter tone, sharp expression, everything that betrayed his treacherous feelings, but knew he could not.

Jim's face fell from its cheerful perch. Confusion knotted his brow.

"Uhura? What? Why would I play anything with her? I know you guys broke up, but she's not who I – wait a second…."

Two of the things Spock loved about Jim were his keen perception and brilliant mind. At this time however, he could do nothing but rue his beloved's sharp intellect as the pieces of his actions snapped into a complete puzzle for Jim to understand.

"You saw me and Uhura in the hall. Are you holed up in here because you're jealous?"

Incredulity painted the captain's tone and face.

"Jealousy is a human emotion," Spock sniffed.

"So you admit it by omission. Spock, I would never move in on Uhura, or any other crew member for that matter. Sure she's smokin' hot, but she isn't y- my type anyway. And she really just wanted to tell me… something….something that I know can't be true…"

And now another sentiment filtered across his expressive face. It was sickly, stricken, sad, jealous, and tender all at the same time. It was almost exactly how Spock felt, how he imagined his face would look if he gave it free reign. But it was gone, replaced in a flash by Jim's fake grin, the hollow one he used when he hid his true self. If his First Officer were not so attuned to him, so used to observing Jim microscopically, he might not have seen the puzzling change at all.

"Look, if you want to get back together with her, resume your 'romantic relations' or whatever, don't mind me man. You're my friend. I won't stop you from getting the girl. Honor and all that means I won't mess with her, which I totally didn't do tonight. You've got my word."

Surprise exploded in Spock's brain, shock holding him unnaturally still, even for his father's race. His mind raced, finding a new question each second: Jim believed him to be desirous of Nyota? He himself didn't find her sexually attractive? What had Nyota said to him? Why was he barricading his feelings behind his insolent façade?

Before Spock could process anything fully, Jim turned on his heel and strode back to the door. But he paused, turning his head to say cheekily over his shoulder, "Just let me know if you want me to score ya anything on the side."

Jim should have remembered that he who hesitates is lost, because in that moment, as Spock stood looking at Kirk's back, watching him leave, he came to the conclusion that the captain would not be permitted to do so. Spock would not let Jim go, would not allow him to seek out another, or to abandon his rightful spot beside him. The captain was his. Had been his for quite some time. The universe had taken much from the half-Vulcan in the way of love, but it would not touch what he felt for Jim. There would be no passive, stoic acceptance this time.

And if the foolish man could not see that already, then Spock would make it clear.

A pneumatic hiss announced the observation deck's door opening, but there was not an emerging figure to accompany it. Jim, who would have been the figure, had he moved more quickly, found himself instead pressed against the cold glass wall of the observatory, almost as far from the portal as possible.

Unfettering his full Vulcan speed, Spock had grabbed Kirk, carried him across the deck and, ignoring his small shocked yelp, settled his feet to the floor. Spock's limbs formed a prison of flesh, holding Jim, keeping him upright against the translucent wall. The inky darkness of the sky streaming by accentuated the human's light coloring, his Hellenic silhouette. Space is a good backdrop for Jim,he thought admiringly.

Spock had always appreciated the juxtaposition that the captain and space made – one bright, shining gold, the other dark, glimmering silver – but each needing the other for completion.

He could not think of a better place to kiss him than under the faint starlight. But first, a confession.

"I have no further interest in Nyota Uhura. My envious emotions were not for you for being with her, but rather herbeing with you." His voice was rough, almost the growl he had so wished to produce earlier. "I love you, have loved you, and will always love you." Jim's eyes fluttered even wider, all lingering evidence of his mask blown away by the disclosure. His voice was husky, gentle, "Uhura was trying to tell me that you would say that." Then he smiled his real smile, the one that made the synapses in Spock's brain misfire, and pulled the Vulcan's mouth to his own. It was a wordless declaration, one that Spock responded to well.

Light. Love. Fire.

His arms were full of Jim, holding him closer still until even air could hardly pass between them.

His hands were full of Jim, one cradling his neck, fingers spread into the back of his soft hair, and the other interlocked with the human's hand, sending jolting pleasure up his arm.

His mouth was full of Jim, tasting him, sweet, pure, molten light, feeling his smooth tongue, the minute spaces between his teeth.

Jim filled his mind, the fiery sensations of his free had sliding up Spock's shirt and the telepathic impressions he sent through his skin.

Light. Love. Fire.

They slid to the floor shedding clothes and inhibitions.

I love you too.

And Spock was lost, consumed by the flames within him as they towered ever higher. His lips curled in a smile against Jim's throat. In losing himself, he gained something infinitely better.

Jim.

It was dark on the observation deck, but Spock was no longer alone.


Why yes, I did just fade to black...

Hello, this is my first one shot. I hoped it wasn't too angsty. I really didn't mean for it to be, but love is the greatest torture of all right?

Thanks for taking the time to read this, I hope you enjoyed!