I still don't own Star Trek. Really. Hard to believe, hu?

… .. . .. … … .. . .. … … .. . .. …

"Ni'droi'ik Nar-tor."

Jim felt like he was going to faint. Spock was staring at him, eyes blown wide. He was close to hyperventilating, because Spock hadn't acknowledged that he said anything. Jim sincerely hoped that he hadn't misremembered that, because the only thing worse than Spock just not acknowledging his apology would be him completely flubbing it and saying either incomprehensible gibberish or some manner of insulting thing. He was hoping for gibberish, because then he could at least claim he was tongue-tied. Tongue-tied might qualify for pathetic and cute enough to get his apology accepted.

"I was unaware you knew any of the Vulcan language." Spock seemed stunned.

Jim was too, but his mouth seemed desperately to want to be of use. "I asked Uhura. I wanted to apologize right and I didn't know what to say and I thought maybe things would go better. And I thought I was speaking gibberish when you looked at me like that and I'm sorry. I really hope I said that right and I don't know-"

"You are rambling." Spock told him.

Jim flushed. "I know."

Spock hesitated a moment, before stepping aside, gesturing for Jim to enter. He hadn't accepted Jim's apology yet, and that was making him incredibly nervous. Jim started pacing as soon as the door shut, thumb rubbing nervously over his collar, through his shirt. The mark there stung, but it was a little grounding. Spock reached out during one of his passes, catching his wrist easily. Jim spun around from his own momentum, nearly over balancing and having to catch Spock's shoulder to keep from falling.

Spock stared at him a little longer, before glancing away. "I too should apologize for my actions. I am sorry Jim."

Jim patted his shoulder awkwardly, smiling tightly. "So...are we...better?"

Spock raised an eyebrow. "I do not believe we have finished our discussion...however, we are...better."

Jim shrugged a little, smoothing the fabric of Spock's turtleneck. And wasn't that interesting. He almost missed it, because it seemed perfectly normal for Spock to wear something like that, and it was black. A smile, a real smile, crept up his face though, because he knew why Spock was covering his neck. Spock cocked his head to the side, not at all understanding the shy, amused look he was receiving.

"I'm gong to make an important and logical argument now." Jim mumbled, eyes dancing with mischief. "If you're willing, we can try to talk about this like adults. Though maybe we keep our clothes on?"

Spock raised both eyebrows, unimpressed. "That should not prove to be a difficulty."

Jim grinned and moved over to the couch. Spock followed, and only hesitated a moment before taking a seat next to him. It wasn't quite as comfortable as it should be, but Jim could tell, they were going to be alright.

"Okay...so..." Jim straightened himself, let himself sink into negotiations. "I say we scrap any conclusions we've come to at this point. We were working with erroneous data. We should start all over, do everything from the start. Compile data, run experiments, everything. We don't allow any preconceived notions or external cataloging interfere. We just gather the data exactly as it, in every capacity, and we draw our conclusions from that at the end. No trying to influence the outcome, no holding back."

Spock furrowed his brow ever so slightly, the barest hint of a pout in the corners of his lips. "I do not understand. What experiment are we conducting?"

"Our relationship."

Spock stiffened, but allowed himself to consider it long enough that a thoughtful look crept up in his eyes. "You are suggesting we act in whatever manner we desire, until we have composed enough correlating evidence to allow sufficient identification of our wants and needs in relation to each other."

"Exactly." Jim leaned back, letting his knee bump against Spock's, waving one hand almost dismissively. "We don't care about what labels are normally attributed to what we do, we just diligently record it and later we can sort out what it might mean. I mean, you sort of suggested it first. I'm just saying we take it a little more seriously."

"That is logical." Spock acquiesced quickly. "There will be some difficulty due to the crews perceptions, but it is unlikely to be consequential. Our behavior in solitude is more likely to show relevant findings."

"Awesome." Jim grinned. "So...uh...how are you doing?"

Spock gave him the entirely unconvinced eyebrow raise, before wrapping his hand around the back of his neck and pulling him over for a kiss. Jim groaned happily, shifting himself on the couch so he was half draped over him. He clamped his mouth shit tightly, when Spock started to tickle him, to keep from laughing. This proved entirely ineffective when Spock tugged on his lip with his teeth. Jim burst out laughing, and was silenced with a warm, wet kiss. Jim tugged Spock's hand out from under his shirt and settled into his lap so he could, with both wrists in hand, pin Spock's arms above his head. They were both keenly aware of how little good that would do if Spock decided he didn't like the position anymore.

"Mm." Jim pulled back a little, trying to talk through fluttering little kisses. "This...mm...this definitely...definitely...works for me."

"I find you are ubiquitously prone to superfluous verbosity and prolixity at inopportune times." Spock puffed out an annoyed breath against his lips.

Jim threw his head back laughing. "You just accused me of talking to much?"

Spock scowled at him behind his indifferent mask for a good minute. "Affirmative."

Jim grinned. "Shut up and kiss me."

Spock obliged him. Jim shifted how he was sitting so he could feel Spock's heart beating against his stomach. There was something about the rapid, fluttering tempo that made him a little light headed. Spock didn't seem to mind the way he arched against him, letting his fingers gently knead into the arch of his back. Jim felt him massage his muscles like that, and he squirmed. He wasn't even sure when he had let go of his wrists.

"Okay." Jim breathed out shakily. "You can take your shirt off now."

Spock raised an eyebrow. "You indicated a desire for our clothes to remain on."

Jim thought maybe Spock was trying to kill him with that teasing. "During the discussion. Discussion 's over now."

"Indeed." Spock jerked Jim's shirt up and off in one swift motion.

Jim laughed. "I think you've done that too many times during missions."

It was true, too. Jim was well aware of how often he got corrosive, poisonous, or otherwise troublesome liquids on his shirt. Spock had always been pretty quick to get him out of it, too. All things considered, it was a surprise that nothing had really gone wrong during their little exploration camping trip.

Spock wasn't really listening to Jim, eyes riveted on the bruised, reddened skin of his collar bone. His breathing had taken a slightly harsh turn, eyes incredibly hard and steely. It made Jim warm and uncomfortable, so he made an attempt to pull Spock's shirt off. Spock was frozen in place though, so he only got so far with the motion before he had to give up. Jim scowled, slapping his hand over the mark to cover it. Spock snapped his head up, a momentarily dangerous look in his eyes that he quickly reigned in. Jim fought down the grin at the deep green blush all over his face, fixing an annoyed look in place.

"Are you going to take your shirt off or am I going to have to enjoy a little me time?"

Spock nearly busted him in the nose he moved to get his shirt off so rapidly. Jim rewarded him by dropping his hand. He needed it anyway. The green bite on his throat was tinged with dark copper bruising and Jim grinned. Jim didn't get very far with his explorations, however, because Spock stood, nearly dumping him on the ground.

"I believe the bed would be better suited to our needs." Spock told him primly, but damn was his voice rough.

Jim felt an entirely too familiar curl of heat between his legs and nearly panicked. That wasn't supposed to happen. Jim fought the panic down, told himself it was just a reaction to some entirely too familiar words. Not even his First Officer's deep, commanding, sharp, penetrating voice could change the Pavlovian response he had to an invitation to bed. Honest. It wasn't going to go anywhere near that kind of activity. Spock had their forefingers looped together and was already leading him back. Jim gave him a wide, encouraging grin when Spock glanced back at him.

When Jim couldn't quite push aside his alarm, he distracted himself with something else.

Specifically, he distracted himself by dragging Spock's hand up to his lips. Spock watched him with close interest, but said nothing. Seeing he got no reaction from the simple kiss, Jim decided experimentation was in order. He darted his tongue out, rubbing the pad of his finger languidly. Spock cocked his head to the side, apparently a little more interested in finding out where Jim was going with that. So Jim nipped at his fingers, scraping teeth against the sensitive skin there. Spock took a deep breath, eyes widening a little, but made no other move. Jim swirled his tongue around a bit, deciding what to do next, when he heard a soft growl from Spock. Apparently that felt a little better than the kisses they'd been experimenting with previously.

Jim grinned around his fingers, enjoying the almost embarrassed look on his face. That didn't last long when Spock took Jim's fee hand and began placing kisses along his fingers. It didn't feel as good, but there was a deeper intimacy to it than Jim was wiling to scrutinize. Then Spock did something with his tongue that sent entirely too many filthy ideas to one of the traitorous parts of his brain and Jim shut that shit down immediately by shoving Spock onto the bed and crawling on top of him...okay, so maybe he was still trying to shut it down a bit. Spock's mouth was more than happy to provide a distraction though. Linguists.

Spock pinned him to the bed, perfectly willing to use a strength and weight advantage to keep him where he wanted him. Jim was also minutely reluctant to dislodge him, because he would have to roll his hips up to do that, and that was a little too close to his usual activities in a bed for his comfort. The fact that he wasn't comfortable with it meant he wasn't cheating on their experiments, so he didn't have to mention that the thoughts were floating around in the back of his head. No melds though.

Jim did take the opportunity of their positions to dig his fingers into the muscles of that ass that he'd spent the last month not staring at. It was prudent to ignore the way that caused Spock's hips to grind against his. Spock either didn't notice or, more likely, didn't mind, because he never paused on his mission to replace every mark on Jim's chest.

It was over an hour later when the chime for Spock's door interrupted them. Jim groaned, throwing his head back onto the bed and sighing. Spock headed for the door, and Jim tilted his head a little to watch the muscles of his ass flex as he marched over there. Spock hadn't bothered with a shirt, that was probably going to make for a highly embarrassed ensign. Jim flopped back on the bed, catching his breath. He couldn't even remember the last time he'd hand an honest to god make-out session that lasted that long, let alone with everyone keeping their pants on.

Very distinctive and familiar laughter filled the room when the door opened and Jim sighed. When he stopped laughing, Bones was probably going to kill them both.

"Doctor." Spock responded stiffly. "You are interrupting my evening."

"I bet." McCoy sounded like he was grinning, so Jim heaved himself off the bed and headed towards the door. "You haven't eaten in a day, though, so I'm going to hypo you and encourage you both to have dinner. I'm sure you need your energy."

"Hey Bones." Jim called, leaning into Spock's space and noting the disapproving glare McCoy was giving the marks on his chest.

"For gods sake, remember to use protection." McCoy sighed.

Jim went scarlet, and he could see a deep green blush from the corner of his eye. "We don't have that kind of relationship."

McCoy raise an eyebrow. "I don't care how monogamous you are, use protection."

"Not that!" Jim croaked out, aghast. "I meant we aren't...we won't..."

"Uh huh." McCoy looked them over skeptically. "As your doctor, I'd like to know what kind of relationship you do have."

"We are currently conducting experiments to determine that very fact." Spock informed him curtly, arms actually folded over his chest, and it was incredibly distracting. "You will be informed if it becomes relevant in any way."

"Right." McCoy reached over and hypoed him. "I think I need a drink. Eat something. Not each other. God I need alcohol. Good night."

Jim blinked blankly at Bone's back as he hurried off. "That was weird...Uh...I guess I should get dressed if we're going out."

He glanced over at Spock, and saw that Spock was glancing over at him, lips a tight line, stern, eyes deep enough Jim wasn't sure there was a bottom to how far one could go. He also noticed something he really should have previously. Specifically, the dark, course facial hair Spock was sporting, more like a five day shadow than anything else, but actually fully visible and rugged. It made him look incredibly dangerous. Apparently when he actually started growing facial hair, it grew fast. Vulcans, he concluded, are weird.

Jim hadn't realize that the dangerous, fascinating, handsome creature that was staring him down had made him weak in the knees until he slid part way down the wall he had at some point leaned against. It was only a little way down, but it was enough that the mutinous voice was gleefully chanting something about swooning. Jim was kind of having a hard time getting the parts of his brain to fully communicate just then. Spock made a soft, contemplative sound in the back of his throat and Jim sincerely hoped this wasn't going to be a thing, because he liked his knees. He didn't want to have to get rid of them for being mutinous bastards.

"You should also shave." Jim's mouth offered helpfully, because apparently he was never going to see that filter of his again.

Spock raised an eyebrow, moving away from the closed door. "I see."

Jim followed quickly. "Not that it's a bad look, because it isn't. It's great. Really great. Like holy shit great."

Spock whirled around, kissing him swiftly to shut him up. "Then I do not understand why you desire that I should shave."

Jim grinned, enjoying the feel of the scruff now that he really noticed it. "Remember how I didn't want you to wear casual clothes in front of other people?"

"Affirmative." Spock shifted so he could nuzzle behind Jim's ear.

It was tickling him and he tried not to laugh. "It's like that. That and I don't think I'd ever get any work done. You're kind of distracting."

"Indeed?" Spock rubbed his hands up and down Jim's back, almost possessively. "I will shave before leaving for my shift tomorrow. I would suggest, however, that we have food delivered if you indeed find my appearance so appealing. You may even retrieve the food if you do not desire for any crew member to view me in this state."

Jim's eyes widened. "Why the hell didn't I think of that? Yes!"

Spock obliged him by sending an alert to Rand. He then spend the next fifteen minutes distracting Jim while he attempted to get a shirt back on. Spock reasoned, not incorrectly, that Jim could be properly postponed by the sensation of his facial hair against sensitive skin. Jim didn't hesitate to slap him away when the door alert went off though, and Spock had to stop him and give him his shirt because he'd almost walked off without it.

Rand's look went from cautious to positively beaming when he answered the door. "Captain! I wasn't expecting...I should have...ah...here's your food."

"Thanks." Jim murmured, accepting the tray.. "Uh...yeah. I...might not see you tomorrow, Bones didn't seem really keen on letting me get back to work, but I'll be back soon. So...uh...thanks?"

She chuckled, smirking a little. "You're welcome Captain...enjoy your night."

Jim flushed and wanted to protest, but she was already gone. Somewhat grumpily, he turned around. Fantastic. They were going to presume strange sexcapaeds were happening, and he was really hoping to avoid that. He stepped into the back area and spotted Spock lounging on the bed. He couldn't help the goofy grin that just crept up on his face, so he presented the food with a flourish, pretending Spock wasn't the sole cause of it. Spock shifted himself into a sitting position and Jim knelt next to him, setting the tray between them.

"Don't get used to this dinner in bed routine." Jim warned playfully. "I'm a social creature and you can't possibly fulfill all my needs."

Spock gave him a challenging, dark look, that brought Jim back to the beginning of this whole thing. "We will see."

Jim focused on the food, because he couldn't keep the blush off his face. It was something vegan, which really wasn't all that surprising. Jim was starting to wonder if maybe the crew wasn't trying to send him some kind of message. That or she thought Spock ordered two meals for himself because he hadn't eaten all day. He wasn't going to speculate on that. It wasn't like he had to have meat. Jim chuckled, the memory coming unbidden. Spock glanced over at him, eyebrow raised.

"Sorry, it's just..." Jim chuckled again. "I just remembered that my mom went through this phase, when I was seven. Everything meal was hand made, vegetarian, and super fresh. And then I joined Starfleet and most of the quiet restaurants near campus were ultra-vegan. A better crowed than the bars for studying anyway. I still don't know how to grill a steak or how to tell when chicken is cooked, but I can make some amazing things with black beans or sweet potatoes. Don't tell Bones, but sometimes I look at the chicken burgers he has me eating and miss the shaved root vegetable salads my mom used to make around the holidays. She kept that tradition up, even when meat and replicators came back into her life."

Spock watched him thoughtfully for a moment, before he offered a micro-expression of a smile. "My mother often took extreme measures, going so far as to celebrate holidays not native to her or my father's culture to create a celebratory pie composed of apples, sweet potatoes and cranberries."

"Harvest pie." Jim grinned. "That I can make."

"Fascinating." Spock gave him an indulgent eyebrow raise, before continuing with his food.

Jim shook his head. "Seriously, don't tell Bones though. Because then he'll switch my diet over completely and I would rather eat replicated chicken than replicated root vegetables. They can never compare to the real thing."

"I believe the phrase you are expecting is 'your secret is safe with me'?"

"Mm." Jim leaned forward, giving him a quick kiss before he returned to his meal. "Thanks."

When they were finished, Spock left the tray on his desk and returned to lay on the bed next to Jim. Jim was more than happy to drape himself over him and draw squiggly lines on his chest. He briefly considered writing the one thing he knew in Vulcan, but considered that a discussion he was not ready for yet. Spock caught his hand finally, trapping it where someone would normally find the human heart. Jim didn't find himself missing it in its absence.

A distinct thought managed to worm its way into his brain and he turned it over, wondering why he never had pressed for an answer. "Hey Spock, you never answered my question."

He could tell by the way Spock's shoulder shifted that he had raised an eyebrow, and since when was that a whole body movement? "To what question are you referring?"

"Are you Bi?" Jim glanced up to catch the genuinely bemused look Spock was giving him. It had been well over a month since he asked.

"I assume you are inquiring about my sexuality on a somewhat one dimensional and ambiguous scale." Spock twitched an eyebrow when he shrugged. "Given my own observations, and those of close and trusted individuals, I exhibit preference for one gender with predominantly incidental tendencies towards members of my non preferred sex."

Jim immediately decided teasing was in order. "I guess I can't blame you, after all, you did make out with me and Uhura. I was just wondering, because wouldn't it be illogical to have a preference? I mean, since you all don't think it's illogical to like guys because that's separate from 'procreation' then why have a preference?"

Spock exhaled softly and Jim was going to assume that was a sigh. "It would be far more illogical to fight one's biological imperatives to the point of distraction. Preference is acceptable when some decisions are made, as long as all decisions that stem from them are logical in nature. They are expected to be set aside for the sake of most decisions, but as I have previously explained, the Vulcan mating drive is a complex and dangerous process."

"Explain." It was still a question, spoken so softly.

Spock shifted so he didn't have to meet his eyes. "Logic is driven out completely by the plak-tow. The blood fever. The sickness leaves no shields, no control, only raw emotions. It is considered highly embarrassing by my people. If one does not already have a bond mate to whom they are mentally familiar, it is preferable that they be sexually appealing so that they are not considered to be competition for a viable mate."

Jim was floored by the openness, and the information, for that matter. "But as long as you have the bond and it isn't shielded, it'll be okay?"

"Typically, yes." Spock hesitated. "Often because the other partner is capable of expressing their consent and interest through the bond telepathically."

Jim snorted, because somehow that was really funny. "Try not to strangle me to death if I'm ever around when that happens."

Spock tensed, because it was not that funny to him. "Jim-"

"Hold on." Jim sat up, frowning. "I'm not trying to insult you, okay? I get that it's a big deal, that's why I'm teasing you. No matter who you're bonded to, no matter what happens, I want to be there for you. Even if all I'm doing is telling funny stories to your new wife about our missions, I want to be there for you when you need me. It's what friends do. I'm teasing you because, no matter how big a deal it is, it will never be big enough a deal to chase me off, okay?"

Spock pulled Jim into a tight hug, burying his face in his hair. Jim wrapped his arms around his waist, hugging back fiercely. Spock placed a soft kiss in his hair.

Jim opted to diffuse the slight tension that had developed over the line of questioning with a quick kiss. Spock was clearly alright with the change of...topic...because he proceeded to fervently kiss him back. A small part of Jim wanted to have the bond open, but he knew that could probably skew their actions a little, so best not to. And he didn't want to risk Spock being in his head when it thought something mutinous and getting the wrong impression. And Jim knew that weird thoughts were going to crop up, because some parts of his brain apparently liked cuddling.

… .. . .. …

"I must get ready Jim." Spock murmured, attempting to extricate himself from his captain's embrace.

Jim pulled him down for another kiss, enjoying the feel of scruff against his skin. "Mm. You do. I don't. I could do this all day."

"I am curious how you intend to do such without me." Spock managed to get himself mostly standing, but Jim was placing kisses on his stomach, holding him firmly in place by his hips.

Jim chuckled. "Mm. I could keep you here. Executive order or something. Tell Bones I need to keep you. He might just let me do it. I can think of worse things than spending an entire day in bed with you."

"Indeed?" Spock raised an eyebrow. "I am gratified that my presence is not the most horrific, dangerous, or otherwise off-putting experience that you currently have knowledge of."

Jim pouted, pulling him down for a kiss. "Aw. You know I didn't mean it like that...In fact...I don't think I can think of a better way to spend the day...except in the command chair."

Spock smirked into his lips. "I am willing to accept that your command is of the utmost importance to you."

"Mm." Jim leaned back. "I bet we could get away with making out on the bridge. Our crew likes us. That would be great."

"It would be highly unproductive." Spock informed him. "I must still get ready Jim. Unless you would prefer I am both late and unkempt."

Jim sighed, flopping back on the bed. "Okay. Okay. Go shave."

Jim had more than a slight hint of pleasure, when Spock finally left for the bridge. He was late, but clean shaven. Jim had to admit, as nice as he looked 'unkempt' he was sharp and striking when he was neat. Jim could really learn to like Spock looking neat. And that was a horrible sign, because Jim prided himself on wanting to mess up his too neat look.

Jim managed to relax for all of half an hour before he started wandering around. It wasn't like Spock's room was all that much of a mystery to him, but he was going to wander around and snoop anyway. First things first, he was going through his drawers. Uniform. Uniform. Non-uniform black pants. Non-uniform black shirt. Ooh. Non-uniform blue shirt. Regulation issued Starfleet undergarments. Jim shut that drawer quickly. He also found his selection of vests. Apparently Spock liked the look. Jim couldn't exactly blame him, because he completely rocked that style.

Jim wandered over to his desk. It was immaculate...except for the bottle of hair gel hiding behind the monitor. And that, just sitting there, having never been cleaned up, made Jim have to lean back in the seat and cover his mouth. He ached, hurt from feeling too much. It was baffling, how that little indicator, that simple sign between them could bottom out his heart and make him nearly numb from emotion. Was this what it was like? Feeling so much that it overloaded you, that the only way to keep thinking was to feel nearly nothing? Was that how Spock experienced the universe? Jim hadn't thought that, when he got the barest hint of emotions through the bond, hadn't though that when they were ensconced deep within a meld, but now, he couldn't help but wonder.

It scared Jim, to think of emotions being that strong. His mother had gone numb, once, before Jim could talk or walk or start trouble, from too much emotion. Jim had seen men in blind rage, ravaged by their own savage heat so that only hollow shells remained. To imagine that there were people who could experience every emotion, every second to such an exponential degree...Jim shuddered. Were Vulcans so afraid of the immensity of their emotions that they would rather the numbness left behind? A numbness of an oversensitized nature, the very presence of which dictated the emotion they were feeling.

He wondered if Spock ever wished he could feel emotions like humans. Did his contact with Jim's emotions make any difference? Splash across the numb landscape of his mind and soak into the cracked dirt of an emotionless desert like a freezing rain? Or were his emotions no different, lost to the numbness, evaporated before they even touched? Or maybe, and here Jim felt a moment of guilt, were his emotions like rain on the ocean, causing churning tempests that crashed through floodgates as though they never existed? He sincerely hoped, in an aching echo of emotion, that it was the first. That Spock could experience his emotions as a new, refreshing, wonderful thing that he didn't have to fear.

Jim absently opened one of the drawers on the desk, looking for some distraction from his emotional overload. That proved, a second later, to have been the exact wrong action as he found a little red stone nestled among data chips, left there as though it were the safest place it could ever be.

Jim bit down hard on his fist, struggling with the overflowing sense of being wanted. He could already feel the pinprick of being tipped beyond, the numbness gone and his emotions wanting to escape however they could.

The chiming on the door ripped him from his feelings before he could be emotionally compromised to the point of crying. Jim stood quickly, shutting the drawer with a snap. He glanced down at himself and was momentarily glad that he had thought to shower after Spock left.

A few quick steps and he was greeted by a highly contemplative Yeoman. "Rand...how can I help you?"

"Commander Spock requested I check up on you." She dipped her head slightly in acknowledgment, an amused look on her face. "He didn't really specify what I was supposed to be checking on, but I hope to deliver a satisfactory report."

The bond. Jim knew Spock's shields on it were crap when it came to Jim's stronger emotions. He'd probably worried when he got a confusing blast of world rocking emotion. Well, it was that way for Jim. Who knew how it felt to Spock. Apparently it was enough, no matter how they felt, that he decided Jim needed checked up on. A faint ache in his chest reminded him that he was wanted, cared about, but it died like a lone ember and Jim felt like he could breath again.

He smiled politely at her. "I'm alright. I was just thinking about going to get brunch, actually. Can you join me or are you too busy?"

Rand pursed her lips, genuinely thinking about it. "I wouldn't mind, Captain, but I have work. I also doubt Commander Spock could be convinced I was simply ensuring your well being."

Jim laughed softly. "I'll convince him, you run."

She gave him a conspiratorial smirk. "Tempting. But no. I should be working. Will you be wandering around the ship much, or do you plan on returning here after you eat?"

He hadn't really though about it, but he was considering it now. "Well, I don't know. I'm not too keen on staying locked up in one room all day."

"Of course." Rand dipped her head slightly, her look turning somewhat mischievous. "It isn't nearly as much fun without someone else there to keep you entertained. I could of course alert the Commander to a...pressing level of emotional compromise. Nothing, I assure you, that our CMO would need to attend to."

Jim realized, with a start, that she was offering to send Spock down to spend the day with him. He shook his head with a laugh, incredulous. She had always seemed so shy, if not completely efficient. There had been occasions, where she had seemed bold, but only in her line of duty. Now he was seeing a sharp, funny, intelligent woman. He thought maybe, if he had met her in a different life, under different circumstances, he could have genuinely had a crush on her. Now, he just marveled at his new and conniving friend.

"Tempting." He mimicked lightheartedly. "But I won't keep him from work. Besides, I'm not so bored yet that I'm having emotional problems. I don't even have to do any paperwork."

Rand's eyes dropped with her smile, and she shifted awkwardly. "Permission to speak freely Captain?"

Jim frowned. "Of course. What's wrong?"

She bit her lip, almost reconsidering it. "Captain...This isn't my place to say this...but I'm relieved that you're doing much better." Jim's shock must have shown, because she kept going. "There was a while there...with no disrespect meant to you or your position, where I was genuinely worried for your health. I...well, I can't help but notice the change, since our leave at the Starbase. You seem so much better, so much more alive and happier..."

"Rand..." Jim didn't know what to say, didn't expect that any of his crew had noticed.

She beamed at him. "I'm glad that you and the commander got together. Your relationship has been good for both of you. I'll take my leave now."

Jim could only gape at her, unable to protest as she whisked herself away. She knew. He had absolutely no doubt in his mind that she knew. She had already put the pieces together and decided they hadn't been dating before the incident on the Starbase and she knew and she wasn't telling anyone because...well, that stumped Jim, but he was sure, whatever the reason, she didn't care that their relationship was built on a lie. Such a devious woman.

… .. . .. …

Jim ended up back in Spock's room after lunch, mostly because he didn't have much to do. He ended up lounging on the bed with a PADD, looking up the scale Spock had mentioned previously. It was ambiguous, because there were several scales he could have been referring to. It wasn't all that important.

But then Jim got on a tangent, and he couldn't help the monumental curiosity he was feeling. After a few minutes of struggling to talk himself into it, he did an image search.

He immediately slammed his PADD down, cheeks burning. Jim felt like a thirteen year old boy looking at porn for the first time. Embarrassed, paranoid that not only would someone burst in immediately and call him on what he was doing, but also that everyone in the star system would know what he had done, and more than a little ashamed of himself. He tried to rationalize that he was a grown man and could look at whatever the hell he liked, but it was like trying to tell a cat to balance a treat on its nose; a bit more than an uphill battle.

He finally forced himself to look, and couldn't peel his eyes away. It was utterly fascinating, and yes, still embarrassing. Jim wasn't sure how he felt about it.

He could stop. Tell himself that he was uncomfortable with it, so he didn't need to look at it. He could, but he wouldn't. He knew how uncomfortable he was, but, more importantly, he knew how uncomfortable he wasn't. The awkward, embarrassed feeling he had was nothing. He'd had that feeling the first time he kissed Spock. It hardly counted for anything. His curiosity was far more significant and he wasn't really one to deny it.

Jim relaxed back on the bed, equally fascinated and nervous. Until he spotted one picture that reminded him of a dark haired, incredibly strong Vulcan. The nervousness momentarily disappeared under a wave of...interest. Jim tried desperately to tamp that down with alarm, and was moderately successful because that was deeply alarming. It didn't quite win out, however, against the somewhat autonomous parts of his body. Jim was absolutely mortified, throwing the PADD down and burying his head in his hands.

That wasn't supposed to happen. Jim was happily straight. He didn't think about things like that, let alone about someone he worked with. And certainly not a certain tall, dark, stoic male Vulcan who he depended on for his life. It didn't matter how good his shirt stretched across his chest and shoulders, or how well his regulation slacks fit, especially when he was bent over, or how easily he could lift Jim up and hold him with one hand, or the way he...

Jim threw his head back, groaning. That was not helping. Not in the slightest. Nor was the scent of Spock, all over the room, now that certain mutinous parts of his body were thinking for themselves.

Jim bit his lip, reasoning with himself. It was an experiment, just an experiment.

… .. . .. …

McCoy had called Spock with about fifteen minutes left on his shift, telling him to leave the bridge and collect Jim for a physical. It was a formality before Jim was released for duty, but Spock suspected that he had an ulterior motive. Otherwise, he had no reason to pull Spock from his work. He could wait for his shift to end, or he could have gotten Jim himself. No, Spock had very little doubt that he was planning something.

Spock didn't think to ask permission to enter his own quarters. He probably should have.


Jim bolted up right, flinging himself off the bed. Spock had his back turned to him, and Jim couldn't blame him. It wasn't like he had been expecting to walk in on his captain. Jim fumbled with his pants, pulling them up. He felt incredibly clumsy as he did, like he had flippers instead of hands, for lack of dexterity. Clearly that wasn't true, because Jim had just been exploring his dexterity. He felt like he was flushed and completely drained at the same time, probably violet in color.

"I..." Jim croaked, coughing to right his voice. "I can explain."

"That is not necessary." Spock ground out, voice hoarse. "The adult human male often seeks sexual release as a means of-"

"Oh my god!" Jim yelped. "Please stop!"

Spock snapped straight, barely even breathing loud enough to make sound. Jim thought he was breathing enough for the both of them. He was almost hyperventilating. How the hell could he have just done that? And on Spock's bed. Jim stood shakily, running his hands through his hair.

"I am so sorry." Jim whispered. "I swear to god I didn't intend for that to happen. I wouldn't have...I would never...I mean..."

He could hear the audible swallow as Spock gulped, uncomfortable. "It is of little consequence."

Jim cleared his throat unsuccessfully. "I'm...uh...dressed now. And I'll change your sheets. God. I am so sorry."

"Do not concern yourself with it." Spock said a little too fast.

Jim knew he had embarrassed him. Not even a Vulcan could pretend otherwise. Still, Jim wanted badly to fix this. Not that there was much he could do to fix his First Officer, best friend, and semi-boyfriend walking in on him. Jim dove for the PADD quickly, shutting it down before Spock could think to pick it up and look at what he was pursuing. Spock twitched, but didn't turn. Which sent off alarm bells in Jim's head, because he was acting highly suspicious, was dressed, and didn't attract an ounce of attention from Spock. Or rather, Spock apparently deemed that whatever he was doing wasn't worth turning around for.

Jim inched over toward him. "You...uh...you're early."

Spock's hands flexed in and out of fists at his side. "The Doctor requested I retrieve you for a health inspection."

Jim stepped closer, and Spock bristled. That was actually a bit insulting. "Damn it Spock. Either it is a big deal or it isn't. Don't tell me it's nothing and then act like every word out of my mouth is hydrochloric acid and is making your ears burn."

Spock tensed. "I believe there is an earth saying used to denote such a sensation when one is blushing."

Jim's eyes snapped to Spock's ears, or what he could see of them, and immediately caught the dark, impossibly green color there. Jim slowly rounded on him, eyes locked on his ears and face. He looked like he was going to bruise from the force of his blush. Something he was clearly struggling to control. Jim couldn't even imagine how he must look, flushed from exertion while he-Jim's brain frizzled out with a pop and he felt the blistering heat in his cheeks. He though maybe if he ever wanted to stop being embarrassed and blushing, he would have to stop dating Spock, because he was the start of all that nonsense.

Jim opened and closed his mouth a few times, looking for any words he could say. "Bones is probably upset." He finally muttered lamely.

It worked, though, because Spock quirked an eyebrow, slowly, almost hesitantly. "The statistical likelihood of Doctor McCoy being upset is 84.376 percent."

Jim sputtered quietly, not even really sure if that was funny or not. "I'm not sure how you measured that percentage, but seeing as you agree, we should probably head down there."

Jim reached out to clasp him on the arm and Spock stepped back quickly, eyes widening. "Do not touch me before you have washed your hands."

He yanked his hands back with a swear. "Sorry. Sorry. I'll just...uh...clean up. Yeah. Then we can go."

… .. . .. …

"You're late." McCoy called, not even looking up from what he was doing. "Bio beds, now."

"Doctor, I do not-"

"You're getting a check up too." He cut Spock off. "This one by order of some stuffy old Vulcans."

"I have already had my most recent required exam and therefor decline." Spock told him primly. "If the high council has requested my medical records, they sure have given you some explanation as to the nature of their need for them?"

"Just that some Vulcan healer was interested in seeing how your vitals have changed since the bond has settled." McCoy waved it off, turning to Jim, who was actually waiting quietly on a bed. "If you don't want to do it, you can tell them you refuse. Don't drag me into this political bull."

Spock blinked, glancing over at Jim in consideration. "I see. As bonds with non-telepathic species are uncommon, it is understandable that they would wish to determine the effectiveness of the bond. Given the necessity to introduce genetic diversity into the remaining population of Vulcans, it is imperative that our scientists determine the most effective route. I will submit to a physical, doctor."

"Was the explanation necessary?" McCoy snorted, running a tricorder over Jim.

Spock simply quirked an eyebrow in response. Jim squirmed a bit, feeling even more awkward at the mention of their bond. What if it hadn't helped anything? What if it had made Spock's vitals worse? If it had proven to be a problem and Spock was just keeping it from him because he didn't want him to worry? They'd take Spock away. They'd cut the bond completely and find someone else for him. And it would all be Jim's fault.

Spock set his hand on Jim's neck, gently. "Jim, what is wrong?"

He looked down at his hands, because he wasn't keen on meeting anyone's eyes. "Nothing."

"Move your hand hobgoblin." McCoy ordered. "You're messing with my scans."

Spock reluctantly withdrew his hand. McCoy returned to his scans, and immediately gave Jim a confused and suspicious glare. He ran the tricorder over him again, sneered and turned immediately to Spock. Spock raised an eyebrow as the tricorder was waved over him in a mildly disconcerting and threatening manner. McCoy promptly swore at what he was reading and slammed his tricorder down on the medical table by the bed.

"Do you think this is funny?" He snarled, eyes darting between them.

"What?" Jim frowned, glancing at Spock. "Bones, what?"

He narrowed his eyes at him, poking him roughly in the chest. "Now see here. I'm not going to but into your personal life any more than necessary." Jim scoffed. "But! But, I'll be damned if I let you waltz in here late for a mandatory check-up because you were knocking boots with the pointy eared computer."

"Excuse me, WHAT?" Jim yelped.

Both of Spock's eyebrows disappeared up his forehead. "Doctor?"

"Don't you doctor me." McCoy hissed. "I can read a damn tricorder. I know what these hormone levels in you both signify. God damn it Jim. Can't you have at least kept it in your pants long enough to let me do my physical first?"

Jim was gaping at him, flushed. "That is not what happened! I swear. I was just...and then Spock...we didn't...wait...did you say...both?"

Jim darted a surprised look at Spock, who stiffened, a mortified look passing behind his eyes. Jim's jaw dropped in surprise, mouth falling open. Bones glanced between them again, well aware that he had just stumbled into something he really didn't want to be a part of.

"You were..." Jim whispered, positive he had just accidentally been pushed into a different dimension.

"Let's finish this, shall we?" McCoy muttered quickly. "We need to get it taken care of. Then you can have extremely awkward discussions without me."

Bones did just that, among immensely awkward glances and extreme tension. The tension was what bothered him the most. And while he couldn't quite deny the curiosity he had over what the hell was going on between them, he had a pretty good idea that finding out would probably cause some form of mental scarring. He was all too happy to release them from Sickbay, muttering something about sending off a report on Spock's health to the Vulcans when he got a chance. Spock stormed out of there a small step below running, and Jim followed after, tense.

Spock didn't turn to look at him when they entered his room. That, Jim thought, was just like him.

"Is that why you weren't looking at me?" Jim snapped. "Because you were..." He gestured wildly with his hand, not that Spock could see it from behind his back.

"It is of no consequence." Spock paused when Jim made a somewhat strangled sound of anger. "It will not occur again."

"You think?" Jim hissed. "What even...I mean, I thought you were straight."

Spock hesitated, for a very, very long time. "You were incorrect in your assumption."

"I what!?" Jim shrieked. "You mean to tell me this entire time you've been attracted to guys?"

Spock turned to regard him coolly, one eyebrow raised. "You may be surprised to find Captain, that you are not the definitive factor for determining if someone is attracted to the male gender. My predilection towards the male gender does not equate to a desire for you."

"Bullshit." Jim snapped. "Don't even pretend this wasn't relevant just because you hadn't thought about me like that before. You're...you know...and you didn't think to maybe tell me that when you were leaving hickeys all over my chest? It didn't occur to you that maybe your sexuality was skewing things with me?"

"I will remind you that I attempted to end our physical relationship." Spock narrowed his eyes, glaring at him. "It was you who insisted that, with no concern towards sexual preference, we continue our interactions."

Jim sputtered. "That was before I knew you liked men!"

Spock gave him a wry, almost disgustedly amused micro-expression. "I do not see what relevance that has."

"You know what I mean." He snarled a bit, flustered. "You didn't even...Jesus. You knew I thought you were straight and you just let me keep on believing that. I should have figured it out when you didn't actually use gender specific terms to refer to your sexuality. You were actively keeping it hidden from me. Why?"

"Is your reaction now not enough justification?"

"I'm pissed off because you didn't tell me!" Jim slammed his palm against the wall. "I makes a difference and you know it. The fact that there was ever a possibility you could end up attracted to me, especially while you were pretending to be my boyfriend is important."

"Then you would side with the crew and believe my actions were motivated by some ulterior desire beyond your well being?" Spock's voice could cause ice burn, it was so frosty. "I did not inform you because we were not engaged in a relationship, nor were we going to be. My sexuality is private and of no concern to you. Further, I did not wish to cause you distress, knowing your illogical phobia of-"

"You did not just accuse me of that!" Jim cut him off, storming into his space. "I am not homophobic!"

Spock didn't get to respond immediately, because Jim was kissing him, but he pushed him back forcefully. "Kissing me to prove a lack of fear or hatred in my sexual preferences is illogical Captain. I am not interested in engaging in such activities with you."

"Really?" Jim folded his arms over his chest. "Because that certainly wasn't how it seemed this morning. Or when you walked in on me. Were you thinking about joining me? Pinning me to your bed and-"

"Enough!" Spock snapped. "You will cease insulting me in such a manner. I do not desire you. Nor would I attempt to initiate any such relationship with you. I am aware that we are not sexually compatible. It would be grossly inappropriate and inconsiderate to attempt to pursue such a relationship if I were ever to become interested in such a thing with you. Further more, if we were legitimately bonded and pursuing a relationship I would not engage in sexual behavior with you until such a time as it was appropriate for the nature of our relationship."

Jim snorted. "That is such a load of bull."

"I do not understand why-"

"Bullshit." Jim snapped. "Don't pretend for even a second that you wouldn't take me if I was open to it. You said it yourself. I belong to you."

Spock snarled. "You do not understand what it means to belong to someone. You have never belonged."

Jim bristled, eyes stinging, the heat gone from his voice. "You're right there. I've never belonged anywhere."

"Jim...I did not mean my statement in that manner." Spock reached for him, but allowed his hand to drop when Jim flinched. "It is...painful...that you think so lowly of me as a person or friend. You question my morals and you-"

"I didn't mean that." Jim interrupted, staring down at his feet. "I wasn't...I'm just confused, and a little hurt that you didn't tell me. I...why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you trust me enough to know that? Didn't you think that I'd stay? Nothing, nothing will be a big enough deal to chase me off. But that fact that you can claim you thought I was your friend, but you would think that something like that would change my opinion...I did this to help you. I know...I know that you started this to save my life. For no other reason. I know that. And I offered to help because I didn't want to loose you, because I didn't want you to be hurt and forced into something you didn't want."

"I am sorry." Spock placed his hands at his back. "I had believed you would be...upset. It was an erroneous conclusion, with no merit. I had nothing to base this assumption on. It was illogical of me. I was...afraid of your response."

Jim stepped forward, reaching up hesitantly to place his hand against the side of Spock's neck. "You don't have to be afraid of me."

Spock relaxed ever so slightly, though his eyes were still tight. "I understand Jim."

Jim hesitated, glancing away before giving Spock a small smile. "Can I...uh..."

Spock raised one eyebrow very slightly, barely enough to even be noticeable. "You may do whatever you find necessary."

Jim took a deep breath, and leaned forward to place a soft, chaste kiss on his lips. Spock froze for a moment, before gently returning the gesture. It was almost sweet, and Jim felt his tension ease. Spock ghosted his hands over Jim's biceps, before gripping him softly. Jim kissed a little harder, pressing himself flush against him. He could feel Spock's muscles tense, and attempted to sooth that with careful ministrations. Spock slid his hands down to clasp together behind Jim's back, resting at his waist. Jim moved his hands down to loop them at Spock's waist.

Spock pulled back first, eyes wider, less tense. "Jim...that is...not the most logical action."

Jim shrugged, his chest rising and falling against Spock's. "Seemed like a good idea at the time."

He leaned in again, for a slightly less chaste kiss. Specifically, he bit his lip. Spock let him direct their movements, not willing to make any presumptions about Jim's actions. He was completely compliant, however, when Jim walked him back to the bedroom, before pushing him into a seated position on the bed. Spook peered up at him silently, curious about Jim's next move.

"Stay." Jim ordered, wide grin splitting his face.

Spock raised an eyebrow, but complied. Jim walked over to the computer desk and Spock could just barely see him leaning over. Jim came back with his hair gel, and Spock gave him a resigned look. Jim was quick to take his position in Spock's lap, smirk firmly in place.


"Hands." Jim ordered.

Hesitantly, Spock offered his hands, palms up. Jim squeezed some of the gel in Spock's hands, watching his eyebrow wince at the awkward texture and temperature. Jim tangled his fingers with Spock's, spreading the gel around in what was probably the most awkward and messy kiss they'd had to date. Spock flushed, watching their fingers with awe.

"Now..." Jim purred. "Run your fingers through my hair."

Spock complied quickly, arms tangling awkward with Jim's as he ran his own fingers through his hair, directing him. "What is the purpose of this exercise?"

"I want you to do something of your own." Jim hummed. "Make me look how you want me to."

Spock hesitated. "I do not wish to change how you look, Jim."

He rolled his eyes. "That's not...Spock, I'm trying to give a little ground here. Just...work with me. I'm trying to make this less awkward."

"You are seated in my lap, on my bed, after an extended discussion on my sexuality as it may or may not pertain to you." Spock huffed. "I believe it is something commonly referred to as a moot point. Further interactions of a solicitous nature are not likely to be conducive to alleviating this situation of tension."

Jim sighed, wiping his hands clean on his shirt. "Spock, please. I'm trying to fix things between us."

Spock pulled his hands back, looking at him imploringly. "Why must something be wrong?"

"Okay." Jim acquiesced, placing a soft kiss on the corner of Spock's mouth. "In that case, we're playing. Now help me relax a little."

Reluctantly, Spock straightened Jim's hair into something of his normal look. Jim sighed, rolling his eyes again. With a long suffering sigh, he shoved Spock down onto the bed and moved off of his lap. Spock craned his neck to watch Jim as he headed to the bathroom. A moment later, he shifted, pulling the PADD that had been discarded on his bed out from under his back. Curious. Why had Jim been interested in a simple PADD during their interactions before leaving for Sickbay?

Jim glared at his hair as he washed his hands. He wanted to fix it, to do something better, but Spock had done it so he wasn't going to change it even a bit.

He left the bathroom to see Spock's back. He was sitting up incredibly straight on the bed, tense. Jim looked him over, wondering what had happened, when something clicked. The PADD was missing.

"What are you doing?" Jim snapped, yanking the PADD out of his hands as he rounded the front.

Spock looked up at him, pure, honest shock on his face. "You..."

Jim flushed, making a horribly garbled noise as he realized that yes, Spock was looking at what he had been looking at when he walked in. "Do you realize how much an invasion of my privacy that was?"

Spock stood, putting himself chest to chest with him, and raised an eyebrow. "I do not believe you have been completely honest with me."

"It was just an experiment. It didn't even interest me." Jim snarled. "I wasn't even hard until I started thinking about you."

Jim froze when he realized what he had just said. Spock also froze, looking like it was taking considerably more effort to process that statement than it should have. Jim placed a hand over his mouth, backing up and shaking his head, horrified. Spock caught his arm, and Jim silently cursed that he chose now to start taking liberties with him. He didn't try to pull away though, just staying at arms length. At some point the PADD had fallen discarded to the ground.

"You were sexually aroused by the thought of engaging in intercourse with me." Not a question, so Jim wasn't going to answer, not even with a negative.

"I'm not homosexual." Jim attempted to counter, but Spock just gave him a look.

"I am beginning to doubt the validity of your own assessment." He looked far more amused, with those eyebrows raised, than he had any right to be.

Jim flushed, rubbing the back of his neck and darting his eyes away nervously. "No. Seriously. I'm not. I don't even do that kind of stuff with girls."

Spock blinked. "I am positive that you are aware of the definition of homosexuality and am therefor unable to provide any explanation for how you could preform homosexual acts with a female."

"You know what I mean." Jim ground out, making vague gesture with his hand.

Spock's eyes lighted with recognition, and then pure amusement. "Captain."

Jim winced, because the use of his title just then was almost condescending and far more teasing than he'd ever heard. "Yes Spock?"

"I find it quite difficult to believe that you are indeed this poorly educated." Spock informed him. "You are, however aware that not all homosexual males desire or enjoy anal penetration, are you not?"

Jim had gone cranberry from blushing. "Oh."

"Captain, was this your only basis for determining that you had no sexual inclinations towards the male gender?"

"No!" Jim yanked his hand back. "I...I mean, of course not. I'm not interested in guys. I've never been."

"And yet you were capable of sexual arousal while engaged in suitable thoughts about my person." Spock raised a challenging eyebrow.

Jim squawked, wrapping his arms tight around himself and tucking his hands under his arms. "That's not...That was a one time thing. The first and last. It doesn't count. It's an anomaly."

"Perhaps further experimentation in this matter is necessary." Spock's lips quirked ever so slightly. "I will not be offended if you choose to consider me during your investigations."

"You think this is so damn funny, don't you?" Jim snapped, gripping himself tighter. "Well, I'm not exactly having a wonderful time here."

Spock's look softened and he tilted his head to the side, regarding Jim with some level of fondness. "Jim, I am not attempting to be derisive. I had believe that humor would be effective in diminishing your tension and expressing comfort and a willingness to be of any assistance necessary. It would appear I am not adept at this method of interaction."

"You..." Jim gulped, confused and nervous and still antsy. "You were? Okay...Okay. I need to think."

"It may please you to know that your rooms have been decontaminated now and you are free to used them."

Jim gave a small, appreciative smile at the fact the Spock was offering to let him have his space. "Yeah...Thanks. I'll...just get my stuff and go."

"Very well." The stood staring at each other for a moment before Spock glanced away. "It would be understandable, in light of your current need for contemplation, if you did not, but the crew has expressed immense desire for you to visit the rec room. I believe they...miss you, Captain."

He nodded. "Okay. I've got plenty of time. I'll go check up on them...thank you...uh...do you want to come with? We can play chess."

Spock gave him a surprised glance, before nodding once, warmly. "That would be very pleasing, Jim. Thank you."

… .. . .. …

At some point Spock had gotten caught up with crew members, so Jim seated himself on a couch in the rec room where he could watch him. Uhura plopped down next to him, smiling in greeting. Jim nodded to her politely, before returning to his admittedly favorite hobby. Spock was standing perfectly straight among a gaggle of science personnel, explaining something. He could her him using his lecture voice, though he couldn't quite make out the words.

"How are you feeling, Kirk?" She asked finally.

Jim glanced over, smiling awkwardly. "I'm alright, figuring it out."

Uhura nodded primly. "Need any help with that?"

He gave her a surprised look, before conspiratorially checking to ensure everyone in the room was preoccupied and no where near overhearing them. "Well, I do have one question...about you and Spock."

She raised an eyebrow, but nodded. "Okay. Sure."

"Is the reason you broke up because he's not attracted to women?"

"He what?" She hissed, eyes going wide and glancing at Spock. "What do you mean?"

"You didn't know?" Jim blanched. "Shit. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything. I just thought...I figured you would have known. Crap. I just totally violated his privacy. Please, please don't tell him I said anything."

"How the hell did you find this out?" A second later some conclusion clicked and her eyes widened. "Oh my god. Are you two-"

"No!" Jim whispered quickly. "It's not like that. I just...look, can we forget I said anything. It was stupid."

Uhura was staring at him though, breathing a bit too quickly. Jim awkwardly sank back into his seat, looking anywhere but at her. Which meant his eyes fell back to Spock. Spock was going to kill him. There was a difference between the crew assuming things because of who they thought he was dating, and his actual friends actually knowing. There was the small positive, though, that Spock's ex-girlfriend didn't even know, so maybe he really didn't think to tell Jim.

"We broke up because I was frustrated." She responded softly, looking at Spock instead of him. "I felt like I was some...blank screen that he just projected his emotions onto. It made me uncomfortable, upset. He let me express everything. It was like...it was like he was using me to humanize himself. Like he needed me to be human so he didn't have to be. It made me sick. And that's not fair to him, because it isn't his fault that that's just the way he is. He's never going to be some deeply romantic, incredibly sensitive and secretly playful kind of guy and I shouldn't have tried to push that on him."

Jim glanced away guiltily. Spock was...well, everything she could have possibly wanted. He had an amazingly sharp wit, a playful and teasing side that was so carefully constructed that it was near impossible to detect, a suspiciously romantic though process in an entirely alien and wonderful way, and he had so much more to him than just human behavior. Jim felt sorry for her, that she could never see that about him. It wasn't that Spock needed her to project emotions on to, or that he was using her to make his own human aspects seem less noticeable.

Spock was Spock. He didn't need someone to show emotion to, he had it in spades. Jim laughed because Spock was funny, smiled because he was kind and smart and sweet on occasions. Jim reacted to Spock, because Jim could see everything he was putting forward. Spock wasn't relying on him to act out the emotions he was expressing. Those conspiratorial glances, a look that said Jim saw what he'd done there, was all it took. It didn't matter, to Spock, if others ever knew what had happened, because he had expressed himself just fine. He had humanity, yes, but he showed it fairly, not as some separate part of him, but as another aspect, intrinsically entwined with his Vulcan heritage and upbringing. Spock didn't have to say a word, or make some big production of it, he said it all well enough by saying nothing, but doing instead. It was the little moves, that counted the most, and if Spock chose to express himself in some larger method, something more emotionally revealing, it had nothing to do with the person he was projecting on, but rather the depth of the emotions he was projecting.

Understanding him now, from what little he had seen of their relationship, Jim felt his chest ache at the realization of just how much Spock loved Uhura. Still loved her, in some way.

And he hurt, not just for Spock, because his love had been rejected and pushed aside, but for Uhura too. It wasn't often, that someone got to be loved like that, to feel that kind of devotion and affection. It was something that everyone deserved to feel, to know and understand at to allow it to heal them. But she never knew, would never know. And while he had no doubt she would find a love just as good and strong in her own time, he still felt for her.

Even without the bond, Jim had understood the kind of devotion Spock was capable of. Coming to know his heart and soul as well as he did just cemented that fact.

The realization struck Jim like a blow and he stood sharply, wobbling. Spock glanced over, but made no attempt to extricate himself from his discussion. Uhura stood beside him, offering a steady hand, which he refused. He needed to leave, needed air. He started towards the door, offering her a quick good bye. He gave Spock a reassuring nod, and could see the easy relief in the way he turned back to his discussion without a single thought. To think that someone else would have found that gesture dismissive or rude.

Jim walked blindly to his quarters. It seemed strange going there, like he was somewhere he didn't belong. It was funny, because Spock would probably insist he stop sleeping in his room when their relationship became official...Jim didn't really have the energy to be upset, so he decided to be amused by the fact that his mind decided it was inevitable. It probably was anyway.

The sight of a small, green rock sitting on his nightstand brought tears to his eyes and he sat heavily on his bed.

"You are in love with me."

Spock had been teasing him.

"You need not be ashamed."

Just because other people were bad at reading them, didn't mean Jim couldn't understand himself. It was the little things that showed so much, and the bigger displays...they spoke of ineffable depths. Jim turned the stone over in his hand, a soft smile playing on his lips. No. It really wouldn't be so bad. And, that little champion of awkward in a corner of his brain reminded, what the hell did love have to do with sexuality anyway?

… .. . .. …

Jim glanced up smiling from the PADD he was currently inspecting for the Admiralty when Spock stepped up next to his chair. "Yes Commander?"

Spock presented him with a new PADD. "The reports on our exploration mission and the summarization there of, as you requested Captain."

Jim grinned, brushing his fingers against Spock's as he took the PADD. "Thank you Mr. Spock."

Spock's eyes twinkled with amusement as he returned to his work. He glanced back in time to catch the sidelong look Jim gave him, indulgent smile unchanged. The barest hint of a nod said more than enough. The slightest widening of his smile, the faintest crinkling of his eyes in amusement; Jim could feel the little, involuntary expression. Spock's lips pressed together just a little more tightly, an acknowledgment. And no one had any clue.

When their shift ended, Spock headed straight to his side, still at something close to attention. Jim gave him a little nod and a bright smile in acknowledgment, and they were on their way. Spock didn't question where they were going, just followed patiently. Jim lead him to their observation deck. He was ready to talk, and it was a pleasantly private place, more often than not. This time was no different, the room deserted except for the wide expanse of space. Jim didn't mind if the stars played witness.

Spock moved to stand next to him by the window, watching them streak past. It was a comfortable silence, that Jim was almost loath to break, but no matter how well he might be able to say it without words, he wanted to voice his conclusions.

"I've come to my senses." Jim said conversationally, noting the slight confused tension his words brought. "I thought it was only fair that you should be the first to know."

"Indeed? I do not know to what you are referring."

"Oh, right." Jim turned, smiling. "I'm in love with you."

Spock stiffened, eyes going wide. "Forgive me the complexity of human pranks-"

"Are nothing compared to Vulcan ones." Jim chuckled. "I'm not joking Spock. I really do love you."

"I..." Spock let his mouth hang open for 2.54 seconds before snapping it shut, speechless.

Jim waved a hand carelessly, trying not to show his nervousness. "I still don't know about this whole sexuality thing. That's going to be a work in progress. But...I do know that I love you."

"Jim." Spock whispered, taking a step closer.

"You don't have to love me back. You don't have to anything." Jim assured him quickly. "I just thought you should know. If you want to break the bond or something, then I get it."

Spock cocked his head to the side. "Vulcan's have no used for love, Jim."

Jim glanced up sharply from where he had let his eyes wander to the stars, not daring for a second to believe.

"However...I find if I were given the choice, it would be quite logical to be in love with you."

Jim felt a goofy grin light his face. "And what are Vulcans if not completely logical?"

"I do not know." Spock raised an eyebrow. "However, I am only half Vulcan, so therefor am somewhat less dictated by logic than my peers."

"A shame," Jim hummed. "That your human side can't be convinced with logic."

The silence they shared then was conspiratorial at best, and down right devious at its worst. Half of his heart may be using the excuse of logic to love him, but the other half didn't need it. Jim thought, more than any kiss or touch they could ever share, the look between them just then was the most intimate thing they could ever have.

Jim could feel it, not from the bond, but just from Spock himself, that he was being true and honest. He loved him back.

"I hope you realize I'm not going to bother changing our anniversary." Jim grinned.

"Indeed. The paperwork would prove quite difficult." Spock turned back to the observation window. "You do realize that, with the exception of those who were aware of our deception, it would be redundant to re-announce our liaisons, correct?"

Jim smirked. "Yeah, probably...But then...we never did confirm that news story." Spock gave him a sideways look and Jim grinned. "I'm counting that as a laugh."

"Illogical." Spock informed him.

"You could always chuckle at something I say." Jim admitted with a shrug. "But I've caught on to you. Just because I can't hear it doesn't mean you aren't laughing."

"A laugh is an audible expression of amusement."

"Then I'm counting every time you say fascinating or illogical when you find something I say funny as a laugh." Jim countered.

"...You are unorthodox in your methods."

"That counts too."

"As you wish Jim."

"So you're just going to give in?"

"I am merely behaving in a logical manner."

"...I love you too."


"Also, we're discussing the Vulcan poetry you were writing on my abdomen."


"Spock..." Jim gave him an uncertain smile. "Is this something you really want?"

"It is." Spock gently brushed his fingers across Jim's temple. "I am quite amendable to the suggestion of forming a life long bond with you Jim. If our relationship is never to become physical, then I will go a lifetime without such frivolities."

Jim rolled his eyes. "First of all, you know I'll still make out with you. Don't even start with that propriety junk and tell me that we shouldn't because our relationship is new."

"I would not presume to do so. What is your second declaration?"

Jim bit his lip, glancing away nervously. "Well, sexuality aside, I hope you realize I'm not going to let anyone else sleep with my fiance to save his life."

Spock bristled. "I would not force myself on you during-"

"We can have this discussion after I've figure out my sexuality." Jim countered. "Right now, I kind of want to go tell everyone that I'm in love with you."

"Such a display is illogical."

"I'm an illogical human. It would be more logical to just indulge me, rather than argue."

"Indeed." Spock smirked. "I believe it should not prove difficult to gain access to the ship intercom, or to send statements to the numerous news groups within the Federation."

Jim grinned, leaning in for a kiss. It was a little hard to believe, that his first real relationship, and his first time dating a guy, would be his last, but Jim couldn't imagine wanting to spend all of space time with anyone else. And, as Spock placed his hand in the small of his back and returned his kiss, he felt like he was ten feet tall. And he felt like a weight was lifted from him, because for perhaps the first time ever, he had found something honest. Not a single thing about the sparks between them was a lie.

It had taken him one year and a handful of months, but he knew he was on the right track now. In the grand scheme of things, that was only a little while. He had a long time to tell the truth.

… .. . .. … … .. . .. … … .. . .. …

Yikes! That was one heck of a chapter.

I still don't know how I feel about an epilogue. Part of me doesn't know where I'd even take it after this. Part of me says I could at least offer a clip chapter, showing everyone's reactions to finding out and so on and so forth, as well as a little tidbit about Jim having figured everything out. I think everyone already knows the foregone conclusion there though.

All in all, I'd be too afraid of screwing up the story by adding an epilogue. I'm afraid it would take away from the impact of their successful relationship and seem dull in comparison to ending it on this supreme high note.