A/N: protip: kalamata olives are awesome snacks
Kirk has been having a horrible time of it. The apps—all of them, somehow—are due by Friday, Scotty stole all of the eggs to make a quiche, Professor Nero gave him a D+ on his term paper, and he has apparently run out of socks.
"I just," says Kirk, rubbing the cool side of the Coors Light against his forehead, "really, desperately need a break."
Spock, one hundred percent composed as usual even though he's taking twenty hours—all writing courses and two grad classes even though he's an undergrad—sips his chai tea almost daintily. Kirk hates him deeply. "You need to finish your personal statement," Spock says.
"Are you done with yours?" Kirk asks.
Spock makes a sort of motion with his eyes that heavily implies eye-rolling. "Jim, I submitted my applications last Sunday."
Kirk closes his eyes. There is a motherfucker of a headache building above his temples. "Do you have any Advil? I would murder someone for some Advil."
Spock shrugs. "I only take Tylenol."
"Of course you do," Kirk sneers. "Of course you do. Listen, I am going to go home and continue self-medicating. I may even work on apps." He finishes the Coors Light in an impressive swig—he really should have rushed freshman year—and tosses it eight feet to the left and straight into a recycling bin. "I will see you later, Spock."
"Best of luck, Jim." Spock raises his chai to him. Kirk, as usual, is utterly torn between kissing him and punching him, so he just leaves with resigned sigh.
Obviously, it's raining outside, and Kirk has chosen this day to wear the only jacket he owns that lacks a hood, and also not to put in his contacts, so he has to duck his head down so far that he is probably going to be hit by a car. It's eleven at night—actually, he's shocked that Spock was willing to go drinking with him this late, if you can call drinking going to the coffee place down the street that happens to also serve three (count 'em) kinds of beer. The streetlights are looking noirish in the silvery, slanting sleet, and the deserted roads are shining. It would be gorgeous if Kirk weren't so ugh.
Moody, feeling fourteen instead of twenty-two, Kirk plugs his headphones into his phone and vacillates between 30 Seconds to Mars (perfect angsty rain music) and putting Teardrop on repeat (love, love is a verb…). On top of everything, he still wants to grab Spock and shove him up against a wall and kiss the composure out of him. He trips over a crack in the sidewalk while he's thinking about this. Fuck the composure out of him, really. But Spock isn't interested. Spock wasn't interested when they were in elementary school, middle school, or high school, and now the chance is over. They're going to grad school. In half a year, Spock will fuck off to fucking Harvard or Yale or some shit, and Kirk will probably get into at least Duke, maybe, God forbid he has to go to a fucking state school in the Midwest or the fucking rust belt, and they'll see each other at Christmas when they're both back home, and in five years Kirk will find himself introduced to Spock's fucking wife, undoubtedly, and then—tiny fucking Vulcan babies. He wants to be sick.
Scotty is playing Call of Duty, eating a sandwich, and petting a cat when Kirk barges into their apartment ten minutes later. "Oy!" Scotty yells, tugging off his headset, upsetting the cat, and actually putting down the sandwich. Kirk is tearing his soaked jacket and shoes off in front of the TV. "Move your arse, Jim!"
"You ate my eggs!" Kirk yells at him. "You ate my fucking eggs, Scotty! I was going to have an omlette after my ochem final, but then I come home and guess fucking what? NO FUCKING EGGS, SCOTTY."
"Ah am in th' middle o' a very important campaign—" Scotty tries to protest, but Kirk has stomped into his room and slammed the door.
Bones pokes his head out of his room and makes a "the fuck's up with him?" face at Scotty. Scotty just shrugs and unpauses. Kirk's been weird for a while now. Nobody knows what's up.
Kirk throws his iPod on the bed and rips off his clothes with equal rage. He proceeds to take an angry shower, which is weird, but he knows in the back of his mind that he needs to calm down. He shampoos his hair roughly. Calm down. At least the water is hot, feels good, wraps around him. He grins at his abs. At least he's got some redeeming qualities. Calm.
By the time he's toweling himself off, he's ready to focus. There are snores coming from Scotty's room. Kirk carries his MacBook into the living room, where he finds Bones asleep on a organic chemistry textbook. It's midnight, and Bones has been slaving over the MCAT for at least a year now. Kirk eats some olives and opens the Word doc that contains his personal statement. He stares at it for a while. The confidence he had built up in the shower drains away like so much dirty water. Then he sighs, bowing to the inevitable, and gets on Facebook chat.
Obviously, Uhura is on. "As a Communications major," she once told him, "I am obligated to be on Facebook at all times." Thus: yo, Kirk types.
yo yoself, Uhura replies. heard scotty stole your eggs
Kirk can't even manage a joke. yeah. and i'm not going to get in to grad school and my life is going to fail and
He presses enter and hesitates and then just says it,
and spock is never going to love me
There is a really long pause. Kirk is too depressed to worry about it. He gets up to get some more olives, and by the time he is back, Uhura has replied
Kirk thinks that about says it. yeah, he replies.
Uhura says, okay like what oh my god when how long does he know are you gay how gay are you on a kinsey scale of one to six even though the kinsey scale is so fucking heterosexist i just what oh my god jim oh my god
yeah, says Kirk.
i swear to jesus christ lord in heaven i will get on my bike and drive through this rain to your apartment and stab you in the eyes if you say yeah one more time, says Uhura promptly, which makes Kirk laugh. They go on for about twenty minutes, Kirk hashing out the story. Uhura often interjects with extremely appropriate questions like but gaila keeps telling me you fuck like a stallion and really though have you put anything up your ass yet?
Kirk remembers that time, long ago, when he thought Uhura was not a fucking perv. Gaila is such a bad influence. He gets up again for a Coke and when he comes back Uhura's most recent reply is sitting there like a locked gate in his path.
so obviously you gotta tell him
"Fuck," Kirk says out loud. It's a visceral reaction. He feels the anxiety of telling Spock rush up his spine like ice water. For a moment, he is choked with fear.
And then the moment passes. Because he is James Tiberius fucking Kirk. And James Tiberius fucking Kirk is not afraid of anything.
Kirk has never felt like this in his life. He stands up, bright fire burning up the dreadful ice in his insides. He puts his laptop aside bravely. Then he grins because he never thought you could heft a computer bravely, but there you are.
It is clear to him now what has been happening. All of the worry and dread associated with the Future had settled on him like an ugly fog. Anxiety clouded his mind, blocked his bold synapses, stilled his strong motions. Grad school, finishing his degree, recommendations, internships, scholarships, requirements—all of it had laid upon him like bricks. And now he had burst through without even knowing the wall was there.
sorry, i'll be right back, Kirk types hurriedly to Uhura. He runs back to his room, grabs his jacket and his phone, and runs back for the door, waking up Bones with his footfalls. There's a sleepy "Jim, wha—?" from the table, but Kirk is already jogging down the stairs and through the complex's front doors.
He calls Spock, breathless. He's not even nervous as he dials. Well, his fingers are shaking, but it's from a combination of adrenaline and determination. "Hello?" Spock answers. Just his voice makes Kirk shiver.
"Hey, are you still at the café?" Kirk asks, turning on to the next street. He realizes it's still raining when a car drives by on the other side of the road and splashes a bus stop bench. The water that falls on his hot arms seems to evaporate into puffs of vapor.
"Yes," says Spock slowly.
"Okay, just—stay there, okay?" Kirk says, trying to keep a pleading note out of his voice. "I gotta talk to you. I'll be right there."
"Yes," says Spock, and it is only because Kirk knows him that he can hear the confusion in Spock's voice.
Knows him. Kirk presses end. Knows Spock. The rain is still falling. Remembers the day when that little black-haired kid, shorter than everybody else, came silently in to the noisy classroom and stood there, his hands behind his back, his posture perfect, his eyes straight ahead. "Everybody," their teacher said, "This is Spock. He's new, so be nice to him." And Bones had whispered to Kirk—they were friends already, had been friends since their mothers were in Lamaze together—Bones had whispered to Kirk, "He doesn't look afraid," and Kirk had whispered back, "Yes, he does."
Chemical rainbows floating atop puddles; cannonballs of raindrops on the smallest scale. In middle school when those older Vulcans wouldn't stop teasing Spock and Kirk, though he was younger and smaller, tried to teach them a lesson and got a broken nose for his trouble. Spock sitting in the nurse's office with him, handing him gauze to staunch the blood, touching his hand and for the very first time ever, giving Kirk the smallest, tiniest, sweetest smile.
The letter. Even now Kirk hung his head. Enterprise University was a fantastic public school. Spock, admitted to seven (count 'em) honors programs there, had been honored to accept, and Kirk had felt the same even when he had received a small and unenthusiastic pamphlet rather than Spock's huge admissions packet, complete with flash drive, lanyard, notebook, and (weirdly) a silver and blue EU bowtie. But on the last day before waitlists started, Kirk got a small letter in the mail stamped with blue.
Dear Mr. Kirk,
We are delighted to offer you a place in the Yale undergraduate class of 2013…
Kirk remembers the texture of the paper. He remembers the signature, in blue ink, at the bottom of the page.
He never showed the letter to anyone.
And that's the first thing he says to Spock.
"I got in to Yale," he says, having dragged Spock onto the café's balcony, under a sloped awning. The bright lights of the city glowed beneath them, veins of road pumping along red-yellow traffic. "For undergrad, I got in to Yale. But I'm the biggest idiot on the planet, did you know? Yeah, you knew."
He's watching Spock's face closely. There is surprise there, confusion, and something else, but Kirk can't focus on it now. He has to say this.
"I did this thing where I thought—what if I keep to familiar things instead? What if I went with my friends to college, what if I got a nice comfy degree in something I loved rather than something that challenged me? What if?"
Kirk drags his hands through his hair. Spock is a few feet away, and his body has gone so still that Kirk can barely see the pulse in his neck, normally so strong.
"What if," Kirk continues, voice raw, "what if I finally got you to l-like me, to date me, to fall in love with me? What if? I couldn't have that at Yale. I could have a career and money but I couldn't have you. And I sat there through college being terrified that I had made the wrong choice. That your love wasn't worth what I had given up. I was terrified. I was so afraid."
He can't look at Spock at any more. He is staring out at the city blindly, feeling the strings of his past and present and future tighten on this one moment.
"I know I'm burdening you," Kirk says. "But I've known you for sixteen years. I've known you for eight elevenths of my life. You're sort of my everything, Spock, and I'd appreciate knowing if I'm yours too. I don't see how I can be, since I haven't given you any opp—"
Spock kisses him.
The rain stops.
Spock pulls his lips away. "We make our own opportunities," he says, husky. "You will never be a burden."
And as he leans again, Kirk swears that he sees, for the second time, a smile on those lips.