Always (A Star Trek TOS oneshot)

Rated: T

Pairing: Kirk/Spock

Summary: Set right after "Amok Time." Jim makes sure Spock understands just how deep their friendship is, and how much deeper it could be. Slash.

Posted 14 January 2012

Jim walked quickly back to his quarters, Spock right at his side. There were some things he needed to discuss with his First Officer, things they needed to discuss in private.

He sat on the edge of his bed. "Have a seat, Spock," he invited softly. Under normal circumstances he would have had him sit at his desk area, but this was a personal discussion between friends, not a cold, sterile meeting between Captain and Officer.

If Spock could look uncomfortable, he would have in that moment. But seeing the tired joy in Jim's eyes persuaded him to sit next to him. "Jim, I-"

"Wait a moment, Mr. Spock." Jim said softly, gathering his thoughts. "There are a few things I'd like to say first. If you don't mind, that is."

"Certainly." Spock nodded.

Slightly amused, Jim continued. "Thank you. Spock, we've been friends since we started this mission together. We've been through a lot... and I'm proud to have you as part of my crew. I know there have been... issues between you and other crewmen in the past. I know that some people can't seem to understand the way you are... but I have never doubted your loyalty, your integrity, or your ability to lead."

"Thank you, Captain."

Jim shook his head with a little smile. "I'm not finished yet. I don't... the things people say about you... how they feel about your emotionlessness... I never really interfered because I know you're a strong man and you don't need me to rescue you from worthless gossip... but I need you to know that I will interfere if you want me to."

"That isn't necessary-"

"Yes, it is, if it makes you uncomfortable. I know you would never say anything about it because that would be admitting you've had an emotional response, but... Look, I know you have complete control of your emotions, but the fact remains that you do have them. And while I'd never ask you to show them or even admit that they exist... I just need you to know that you can. To me. And Dr. McCoy as well. The old devil can say what he wants, but when you get right down to it, he considers you one of his closest friends."

"I am aware of this." Spock admitted. "I too feel a great sense of friendship for the both of you."

"Good." Jim smiled. This was a step in the right direction. "And I hope you know that when we tease you... we don't actually expect-"

"I do know, Jim." Spock interrupted him, seeing that he was having trouble saying exactly what he meant. "I assure you that I understand your 'teasing' is good-natured, and I must admit that if you and the good doctor stopped that behavior, I would become suspicious."

"Are you saying that... you like when we tease you?"

Spock raised an eyebrow. "You are free to interpret my statement however you wish."

"I see..." Jim tried to find the words. "Spock... I want you to know that I don't feel any ill will toward you for what happened today. I... I'd gladly die for my friends and my crew, but... I'd die again and again for you if it was possible. I'd make it possible."

"Jim-"

The Captain couldn't let him interrupt just yet. He knew his Vulcan friend might not appreciate it, but he reached out and grabbed his hand anyway. "There's just one more thing..."

"Go ahead." Spock allowed him to proceed. He wanted to hear everything he had to say before he shared his own thoughts. He did not remove his hand from Jim's.

"Regardless of what other people think of you, I could never see you as anything less than a great man, Spock. You didn't ask to be born half-human, and I don't resent you for your choice of following the Vulcan way. It was your right to choose how you wanted to live your life, and no one has any business judging you for that. Emotional or logical, I respect you."

"I... thank you, Jim."

He gave Spock's hand a little squeeze, relieved that he didn't seem to be bothered by the intimate contact. "You're welcome."

"Jim... I must admit that it is difficult to know that certain people feel I am unfit for this position due to my Vulcan nature. However, it has been made easier with the knowledge that I have your trust and... faith."

"You do, Spock."

"Captain, I would like to tell you something highly personal."

Kirk's smile widened, welcoming whatever Spock wanted to share with him. "I won't repeat anything you say to me in confidence. I wouldn't betray your trust like that."

Spock nodded and spoke quietly. "I am usually able to maintain a sufficient balance between my human half and my Vulcan half. Although many people, human and Vulcan alike, have always suspected there was a great conflict within me, it has been surprisingly easy to manage. I have, in a sense, always been at war with myself. But in the end, I have had less trouble than expected."

"I'm glad to hear that."

Another slow nod. "My humanity has allowed me to feel quite close to a few of the people I have spent time with in my life. But I can honestly say I have never had a friend before you."

Jim's face fell slightly. "I'm sorry."

"It is not your fault. I must confess I never felt like I was missing out. But developing a friendship with you and Dr. McCoy has proved to be one of the experiences I cherish most. And I am quite certain that it will remain that way for the rest of my life. I... do regret that I cannot express that as openly as you or he would,-"

"We wouldn't ask you to, Spock." Jim insisted. "Like I said before, both of us understand that this is how you are. What kind of friends would we be if we condemned you for being yourself?"

"I am very fortunate to have the two of you here with me." Spock answered. "But especially you, Jim. Most of the people I've worked with in the past used different techniques to deal with me. Some have simply tried to ignore my use of logic, others have tried to rationalize it and dismiss it. Many have attempted to research the culture more in order to understand why I must not let my emotions show. Even Dr. McCoy, who I know prefers me as I am, took a while to 'warm up to me' as he would say. But aside from my mother, you are the only person who accepted me as I am from the moment we first met. You are, as you would call it, my best friend, Jim."

Jim couldn't help but feel a little saddened by that even though he was also proud of himself. He didn't understand why everyone found it so difficult to see what he saw in Spock. But he may not have had the chance to be this close to him otherwise. "I'm honored."

"The emotions of a Vulcan..." Spock started, logically reasoning that explaining it to the Captain was the best course of action, "are volatile. Dangerous. We employ logic to give us control, rather than have us be controlled by emotions. It is a choice we make, and admittedly a difficult endeavor for me considering how my human side compels me to rely on my emotions. I would never reveal this even to another Vulcan, but I have found that I have better control if I allow my emotions to slip out every once in a while, in small amounts of course."

"Of course."

"I am able to mask it to a certain degree, and I am relieved to see that if anyone does notice it, they do not generally discuss it. But if I am to be completely honest, I feel no need to hide my emotions from you, Captain. Even the doctor to an extent. That is why I allowed myself to behave as I did when I saw you alive. Although, I'm not sure I would have been able to contain it completely if I had tried."

Jim smiled, remembering the unabashed joyfulness on his friend's face. "And you're... comfortable? Telling me all this?"

Spock nodded, placing his other hand over where his and Kirk's were joined. "I am."

"I'm glad."

"As am I." Spock said without hesitation. "Jim, if you'd like... I want to tell you how I feel."

"I'd love to hear it, Spock." Jim said quietly.

"I was... frightened, when I realized I was entering pon farr. I was unsure if it would affect me, due to my partly human biology, but I knew right away what it was. And though it called me home, I did not want to leave the ship. I attempted to control it by logically determining that returning to Vulcan would ensure I did not hurt anyone. That, and I was in a highly aggravated state, something I wanted no one to see from me."

"Except for me, of course." Jim winked.

"I knew I would have explained it to you eventually. I knew that I could trust you to understand."

"You always can."

Spock nodded yet again and continued. "Even when I was overcome by the plak tow, I was concerned for your safety..."

"I know."

"It was the emotions you elicit from me that allowed me to control myself during that time. Also... I had a highly illogical vision, a hope that you would survive despite it being a fight to the death."

Jim's eyes glistened. "I really have been rubbing off on you."

"Indeed you have."

"Is there more?" Jim asked, subtly inviting Spock to share the rest of his perspective.

Spock nodded. "When T'Pring chose the battle, I was... confused. It is true that I was not looking forward to marrying her, but I had always thought I would."

"Did she tell you why she chose to go that way?" Jim didn't understand why anyone would choose another over Spock.

"She did. I am well-known on Vulcan, due to my unique heritage and my choice to enlist in Starfleet. She explained that she wanted no part of that."

"You believe there to be another reason." It wasn't exactly a question.

"I do." Spock told him. "The point in any marriage is, of course, reproduction. With Stonn, T'Pring will produce purely Vulcan offspring. With me, however, she would not."

"Oh, Spock." Jim's eyes softened. "That's just..." It made him sick. To think that someone would turn him away simply because of his human blood.

"It is of no matter. I am relieved I did not have to marry her. A Vulcan marriage is intimate and emotional, I do not believe we were compatible despite others saying otherwise. It is logical for me to assume I would require someone more open. Perhaps even more open than myself."

"Sounds logical to me," Jim agreed.

"I do not recall what happened when I fought you. When I came out of the fever... and saw you lying there, motionless... I was... angry. A level of anger I had never felt before. And the fear from earlier returned. I could not stand to even think you might be dead. But when the doctor announced that I had killed you, I was overcome with sadness, regret, and an unnameable pain that I still cannot find the proper words to describe it with. I cited my crime as my reason for resigning and turning myself in, but in truth I was not as concerned with that as I was with the fact that I had murdered the very man who had first showed me compassion." He moved his thumb to stroke Jim's hand, hoping the action would not offend him. Jim said nothing about it, so Spock continued. "And Jim, I am not ashamed to tell you I was happy to see you alive."

Jim sat silent for a moment, taking it all in. It was a lot to process, all the emotion inside himself mixing with the words he'd heard from his friend's mouth. "Thank you for telling me that."

"You deserved to hear it."

Lifting his free hand, he slowly reached out to touch Spock's face. His lips twitched up slightly as Spock made no move to remove him. "Spock, I have a question for you."

"I may have an answer."

"You don't have to answer if you don't want to... but, what would you say if I told you I feel... a bit more than friendship for you?"

Spock's eyes may have appeared emotionless to anyone else, but Kirk could see the amusement in them. "I would say you are not being completely truthful, as 'a bit' may not be enough to accurately measure your feelings."

"You'd be right, then." Jim said, smirking lightly.

"I would also say that... given the intensity of our affection for one another, and the comfort and trust we have in each other, I would welcome a more intimate relationship with you, Captain."

Jim chuckled at the use of his title. "Spock, don't you think, in light of the circumstances, you should address me less formally?"

Spock shook his head, moving one of his hands up to hold the one touching his face. "No. Jim, I feel close to you in a way I have felt with no other. I can say without doubt that even if we are somehow separated in the future and I serve under another, or if we leave Starfleet someday, you will always be my Captain."

"Spock, I-" Jim was both surprised and moved by Spock's words. If there was any doubt in his mind about whether this would work, it was eradicated by that statement. "I..."

"You do not need to say anything. I can tell what you're thinking. What you're feeling. You have strong mental shields, but it seems that they do not keep me out."

"Why would I ever want to keep you out?"

To Jim's surprise, Spock let a microscopic smile cross his lips. "I should inform you that prolonged contact between our minds could form a link..."

"A bond?"

"Most likely." Spock said, unable to be anything but honest with him.

"I... I don't think I'd have a problem with that, Spock."

"Are you certain?"

"Absolutely." Jim nodded. "I just need to know... I am human, after all. I don't know if... I can give you everything a Vulcan could..."

Spock shook his head and pulled Jim slightly closer. "I don't want anything a Vulcan mate has to offer. May I tell you something else?"

"Of course, Spock."

"It is rare for a Vulcan to have to seek out his own mate. The decision is not made lightly, and..."

"I understand, Spock. I don't see this as a temporary relationship, if that's what you're getting at."

"How is it you are able to understand me so easily?"

Jim didn't quite know how to answer this question with words. But he could do it with actions. He leaned forward and closed the small remaining distance between their lips. "Spock, I care about you a lot. And I will always be here for you in any way you could ever need me. And we can go at a pace you're comfortable with, I won't rush you into anything. You have my word."

"I believe I have much more than your word, Jim."

"That's true enough." Jim said with a smile. Then he stood, looking down at Spock with bright eyes. "How are you feeling now?"

The Vulcan stood with him, searching Jim's eyes as if they held the answer. But soon he found it within himself. "I still feel fear, Jim." he said calmly.

"What are you afraid of?" Jim asked, knowing that Spock understood he wasn't required to answer.

But Spock wanted to answer him. "It is... illogical, yet I still fear losing you."

Jim understood. "It happens to the best of us. But I may know a way to help, if you'll allow me..." He hesitated, waiting for Spock to nod his consent before extending his arms.

Spock was unsure of what Jim intended to do, but felt a bit of surprise when he recognized the action of arms being wrapped around him, Jim's head tentatively resting against his chest. A hug. He didn't need to think about it as he instinctively returned the gesture, tightening his hold as the fear seeped out of him.

Satisfied with Spock's reaction, Jim pulled back slightly and smiled. He saw relief in Spock's eyes, but still felt the need to ask, "Better?"

"Yes. Thank you."

"Well, now that that's taken care of, I think I should get on the bridge. Care to accompany me?"

Spock released him and resumed his usual pose with his head high and his hands behind his back. "Always, Captain."