So when Star Trek: Into Darkness came out, I went and saw it. And I was not prepared for how much I was going to love it. So now I'm kind of drowning in Star Trek fandom and this fanfic has been in the works for the past couple of months.

I do not own anything Star Trek. The title of this fic is not mine, it is Anne Sexton's.

It is beta'd by a friend of mine, and has been waiting to be finished for a while now. Here it is.


There is pain; blinding hard pain behind his eyelids and his limbs feel light, as though they do not belong to him anymore. He pulls himself up against the door with the small remnants of his energy, and opens his eyes as a change of light registers behind his eyelids. Spock stands there, a small twitch of his control contorting his face into something unfamiliar and feeling. Jim wants to feel the muscles under his palm as they stretch and create a new expression that makes something inside of him burn but a different kind of burning then this. No. The burning for Spock begins slow-simmering in his veins and turns his blood into a boiling current that his heart responds with a thundering sound in his ears.

Spock turns away for such a long while, his hands curled into fists and his stance rigid and demanding. Scotty is talking and his deep brogue barely brushes through the glass. Jim closes his eyes again and feels his eyes so heavy in his skull and this strange calling for rest rest rest; like Bones is somewhere in his head telling him to calm down. But Spock. Jim opens his eyes and Spock is there with a crushing amount of emotion in his eyes. It's going to take him dying to see this in the end. And he is so scared.

"How can you choose not to feel?" he asks.

Something in Spock's eyes breaks, "I do not know. Right now I am failing."

And Jim sees it again, the hard loneliness that is placed like a promise somewhere in Spock's eyes. He will be alone again after this. Jim remembers seeing a picture of Spock's mother while they played chess in the privacy of his First Officer's quarters. They share the same, very chocolate brown, very human eyes.

He knew this would happen and he needs to explain. Explain about the older Spock and the mind meld and the moment he knew what they were to each other. What they would be. Could be. He tries. He tries so hard to tell him. His head is light and he can barely keep his eyes open, but he sees Spock through a blur of tears and sweat dripping down his forehead. He breathes and it hurts. It hurts and burns and not the good burn but something striking and molten. Would Spock have felt this heat in the volcano where Jim had almost lost him again? He doubted Bones was right when he said Spock would leave him to die.

"I wanted you to know why I couldn't let you die like last time," Jim takes a breath and the air scorches his throat, "why I went back for you."

And he wants Spock to understand what he is saying. Even now he knows that this was supposed to be different. But he would die to save what he can. He saw through the rushed and emotional mind meld that the older Spock gave to him, saw everything that should have (would have) happened. He knew it couldn't happen this time. Because Spock is not allowed to die and be lost like last time.

Spock lets a single tear fall and says as though he understands, "Because we are friends."

And Jim wants to laugh and wants to cry and so he lets something like amusement shine through the pain for a moment. His heart is beating so fast and his limbs feel like lead (when did that happen god damn it) but he raises a hand against the glass. He knows what this means because he saw it bleed through the memories and the loss in Ambassador Spock's mind, between a different Kirk and a different Spock. But it means the same and he wonders if he can make him understand. Spock mirrors him, the Vulcan salute natural to his long fingers. The glass is so thick but Jim likes to imagine that he can feel the overly warm body and he tries to tell him this way.

No. Not friends. Never just friends.

Friend. Brother. Lover.

What had the older Spock said when they had melded? It was a whisper; a simple and thoughtless recognition of their minds connecting.

He takes one lasting look at his First Officer behind the glass, and he doesn't want to close his eyes. He does not want to lose the sight of Spock's eyes (who with every blink is losing control of his emotions) because what a beautiful sight. And then he remembers and breathes in so harsh and final that it twists something inside of him.
He is safe this time.
And then there is nothing.

When he wakes Bones is there and Khan is locked away, frozen while the echoes of his short rebirth slowly reverberate through Starfleet. Khan's blood is amazingly regenerative to the point where Jim no longer feels like he is going to burst out of own skin. So that's a good thing, right? He leans against his pillows and knows that if he was feeling stronger he would hate this. But there was so much to this fight that he gave, that he would have given gladly, and now he's fucking tired.

He thinks back to the moment behind the glass, with Spock kneeling where he could not reach. The feeling of the glass, cool on his skin, while his Vulcan First Officer places a shaking Vulcan kiss hard against the glass as if hoping he could burst through somehow.

And then Spock is there in the room, and he remembers something so much different than this. He remembers the crack in the usually stoic features of the half-Vulcan. There were tears, he's sure. He remembers the way they were touching somehow, but not touching. Spock's face behind the glass and the blue flashes of pain are still burning somewhere in his memory. The tears and the slight tremble in Spock's voice are so embedded that it feels strange looking at the steady expression on his face. He wonders if Spock understands what Jim could not say in that moment. What he regrets not saying. But the Vulcan is the same. He stands over Jim's bedside with a controlled expression, relief shining through his eyes that Jim drinks in like water.

When Spock is gone, Bones looks down at him with amusement, "You keep looking at him like that and he'll figure it out."

Jim tries hard not to look at him, but smiles easily, "You're delusional, Bones," he says.

"I'm a doctor, man, not your god damn matchmaker," Bones squawks. "All I know is Scotty said the hobgoblin lost his marbles down there. And from what I heard from Uhura, that Vulcan held back all he could to keep Khan alive just to save you in the end."

Jim looks up at him, "Held back?"

Bones laughs and it's so normal after everything that Jim's features twist into confusion. The doctor pats the edge of his bed and before he leaves the room he hypos something into his neck that makes the room blur and his body turn heavy.

"You're both idiots."

The last thing Jim tries to imagine before he sleeps is Spock fighting Khan for him. He tries to imagine Spock breaking bones like Khan never said he could and smiles because Khan was wrong and he lets that feeling lull him away into the fog of sleep.

He dreams about the telescope his mother got for him before she left for the stars again. It took him less than an hour to set it up and place it against the front of his window, brushing the dirt from the sill as though it would somehow taint the new toy. Jim becomes obsessed with space. He wants to travel to the origin of those stars, to escape the fields of Iowa and look up at the sky on planets in other galaxies, where he can calculate the differences-see the sky change so that he knows he's actually moving.

When Sam leaves, he crashes his dad's old car into the quarry and his mom sends him to Tarsus IV. His Uncle knows how to plow fields and how to look at the sky like the stars mean something more than the planet he lives on. Jim learns about Class M planets and solar systems that have yet to be discovered and he imagines being the first one to step into an atmosphere so similar and yet so different from Earth and Tarsus. When everyone he knows dies, he spends his night looking at the stars and holding a stolen phaser to his chest while the snores of those he could save surround him in the silence. Jim knows the constellations from Tarsus like his own hands; like he knows how to kill men in the ruins of houses- food just a dead hope but worth the search.

Jim dreams about the stars and how they've taken so much from him and given him so much and knows he has to keep moving, because there are so many different skies to see and he might burn up and disappear altogether otherwise.

They are on leave until the Enterprise can be re-christened. After the warp core's extensive damage, and Jim's haphazard way of fixing it, the repairs are not only to the power running the ship but to the exterior as well. Scotty looks at him differently now; respect is swimming in his eyes (as always) along with a strange fear. Jim thinks that it must be strange for him to understand what a captain would do for his crew. And no matter what he thinks, it all sums up to what he can. And for James Tiberius Kirk, well, that is a lot.

They have a year of leave, which Jim spends in physical therapy that he does not need and therapy for his mind which he's had before and insists barely works anymore because he knows all the tricks damn it. He doesn't see Spock at all. Scotty tells him over beer that he travelled to New Vulcan after breaking up with Nyota in order to undergo some weird Vulcan meditation that extensively heals the shields of a telepathic mind or some shit. Jim just likes to think he's mourning the end of a relationship with space, but Spock is a Vulcan so of course there is only logic in re-assembling cracks in ones telepathic walls or something. He doesn't know.

A few months later, when he asks Uhura about it, she looks down at her lap and takes another sip of her drink. "We just didn't really see it going anywhere," she says.

Jim lets it be and decides he needs to get incredibly drunk and very thoroughly laid before he has any more thoughts about Spock. He focuses on the feeling of an Orion girl against him in a shitty club, pheromones bleeding from her skin that make him feel like he's already fucking her before they are back at his small apartment and actually against the wall. Jim kisses her and she is moaning against him and he forgets for a few moments about the Enterprise and Spock and the overwhelming emptiness and he just feels.

The next morning he wakes up and she is gone and his comm. goes off with a message about missing his 'paid-for-by-Starfleet' therapist's appointments. Jim groans into his pillow and throws the comm. somewhere he won't see it for the next few hours as he gets ready and showers away the throbbing in his head from the alcohol and the leftover buzz of sex.

His therapist is a short woman with black hair who tries to get him to talk about how dying may have affected him and his crew. She wants him to understand the cost of his own life to himself and others and that putting oneself at risk for such a thing is selfish. Jim rolls his eyes. Being a Captain of a ship does not mean sitting back and letting everyone else die when someone who is willing to be responsible and knows how to fix everything could fix it, dying or not. He mentions this and she changes the topic to Tarsus IV.

Jim remembers Tarsus because he bears the memory like a brand. It is there underneath his skin like his own blood, only it feels foreign and he likes to imagine it happened to a different Jim, one that believed his mother would come save him. A Jim that finds the night sky of a rotting planet to hold some promise while those he tries to save die, bones visible underneath their dirt stained skin as the morning sun rises.

He wants to avoid the topic, and she lets him talk about Frank (whom he's sure convinced his mother to send him to Tarsus in the first place) and the session is over.

Jim walks out while the sky is slowly turning dark and the moon rises above the city. He walks back to his apartment thinking that he's been out there, on planets so far from earth that the stars are burnt up and missing in the sky. He looks up and wonders how long it will take for Earth to have visible clumps of black nothingness in the visible space above them. He wonders what the sky from Vulcan might have looked like and if Spock ever misses it. He wonders if any of it is really worth it when planets might become black holes and eventually solar systems disappear into that great expanse of nothing. Just like the ruins of the ship his father died in to protect his crew. Either way, Jim knows that the universe is brutal and broken in so many ways and sometimes he wonders how he can bear to look at it.

Spock comes back when there are three weeks left of leave. He's there when Scotty announces that the Enterprise was left to dozens of shite engineers and Jim is used to it and he laughs at this and promises that there will be enough time to get everything how they had it before starting their five year mission.

Spock is there at the re-christening where they all have to look formal and accept awards for their bravery as well as announce their five year expedition. After the ceremony, they all go out and Spock joins them; a rare occasion. He sits in the corner and drinks water as Jim just continues to get drunk and stupidly glance in his direction, trying to be subtle but knowing he can't be. Not with Spock. Never with Spock.

When he finally has enough liquid courage to slide into the booth next to the Vulcan, he smiles stupidly and leans on his elbow over the table.

"How was New Vulcan?" he asks.

Spock looks amused, something shining in his eyes that was not there before and fuck Jim does not know if he can handle knowing that Spock is amused with him. Is he going to start noticing every emotion the Vulcan will try to control because he knows where to look now after all this time? "I am glad for their progress. Though it is not the Vulcan I knew, it is suitable for building a new life for those who wish to remain there." Spock says.

Jim squints at him, "And do you not want to stay there? Get married? Have little Vulcan babies that run around with serious faces?" Jim's joke makes Spock's eyebrow quirk. He likes to think that means a laugh, or an, oh Jim you are such an amusing human, you are.

"I do not believe I will ever contribute to my race. My father and mother had…difficulties bearing children. It is only logical that I would suffer under similar circumstances." Jim is sure he sees a flicker of something in the honey of Spock's eyes.

"The bearing children part sure sounds like something you'd have trouble with, my friend." Jim laughs around his drink. An eyebrow raise makes Jim's chest feel like he's lost his center of gravity and he is so fucked.

"Besides, my duty lies with the enterprise," Spock returns that fierce brown stare back to Jim, "And its captain."

Jim swallows around the dry feeling in his mouth and takes another sip of the terrible tasting beer in his hand. He smiles his at Spock, the one that is all teeth and cheek while something underneath his skin shivers at the thought that this is Spock and was that Vulcan flirting or is he being serious. He decides to test it, and wonders if he is sincerely on his way to wasted or completely reckless and stupid.

"Well, I am on my way to being fantastically drunk. Everything I say from here on out, just don't listen to me." Jim says, stupidly spinning his bottle so that the brand faces him.

"Humans find this enjoyable do they not? This loss of control and higher chance of regrets?" Spock says into his water.

Jim laughs loud and booming, and a few heads turn to them. Spock is eyeing him warily, but there is still a gleam of something in his eyes. Jim lives for that small twitch in Spock's features.

"It's a loss of control, I guess. It's thrilling. Like being stranded on a planet made out of ice and full of monsters that want to eat you," Jim pauses and sips his drink, "Sort of like that, yeah."

"Delta Vega consisted of a 24.567 percent chance of danger if you remained within the pod. Has not a suitable amount of time passed for you to, if Terran vernacular does not escape me, 'get over it'?"

Jim laughs again and he notices a slight twitch in Spock's lips, something smug residing in the corners of his mouth. A hungry feeling bubbles within him and he suddenly wants to lick those corners. He swallows more beer and looks away from Spock sitting next to him because he does not know what he is doing. They sit in silence for a while, watching the small remainders of their crew as they navigate the bar. Jim feels content here, next to his First in a silence that does not mean anything or create anything between them and Jim really wants to get used to this feeling.

Suddenly all Jim can think about is how they are going to be together on a ship for five years. He sighs down at his drink, almost forgetting Spock is next to him.

"So is that what you feel now?"

Jim turns and looks at Spock, who looks slightly tinted green in his cheeks despite his otherwise straight face. Vulcan's blood is green, Jim knows from the many wounds he's seen Spock obtain in their few months of travel, so he realizes crushingly that Spock is blushing.

"What?" Jim asks.

"A loss of control. Is that what you look for?" Spock asks.

Jim finds his chance and lets himself ease into the smile he reserves for his lovers and his eyelids flutter low so that he can almost feel his eyelashes touching the tops of his cheeks. Spock draws in a quick breath and Jim smiles wider, watching the green blood grow darker and travel to the tips of those pointed ears in the low light of the bar. Before he even thinks about anything, he is sliding forward, quick and smooth, Spock sitting there with a watchful gaze as though Jim is some kind of experiment or algorithm. As though Jim is fascinating.

He soaks it up for a long moment, simply looking at the Vulcan and smiling lazily into this exchange that is building in heat and intensity between them. It stretches and pulls in the few inches between them so that Jim is eventually pushing his hand towards those long pale fingers. He pauses for a moment, wondering if this is taking things too far. But he wants. Jim wants to lose himself in this Spock's memories and body and he realizes now that if he were a braver man in matters of the heart, he would kiss his First Officer right here in this booth. But that is too human and Jim is drunk and he knows that despite the other lovers he's had, being with Spock would be different. Spock was bigger, somehow, than all of them.

"I don't know, Spock." Jim runs two of his fingers across the skin of Spock's hand so lightly that he wonders if it could be considered touch at all. Spock clenches his hand to a fist underneath of Jim's fingers, however. If it were possible, Spock blushes harder. Jim suspects he sees lips part and a wild haze appear in the Vulcan's brown eyes.

"You are rather controlling, don't you think?"

"Captain." Spock warns as Jim reaches to run another line softly up his arm.

"Vulcan's are touch telepaths right?" He asks nonchalantly as Spock just lets him touch. Inside, Jim is roaring in triumph.

"James." He warns again.

Jim shivers at his name, not even just Jim, and leans in closer so that he is breathing in Spock's scent of incense and something earthy, like the smell of mountain air in the heat of summer. He lingers, knowing that they have spent too long this close. Touching and yet not touching. Feeling and yet not feeling. He knows that they were meant for this.

"How in control am I feeling right now?"

And something breaks between them because Spock is pulling his hand away and Jim is backing out of the booth so that there is space between them. Spock moves to leave, almost pushing Jim out of the way with the force of his body. Jim stands and backs away, letting Spock leave the confines of the booth. When Jim looks again at the Vulcan's features, they are schooled into apathy, and he sighs longingly at the small loss of control that had escaped from them just seconds ago. Jim is dying to see him undone and so utterly incoherent and opposite of everything he is just so Jim could put him back together again. He wants to put Spock back together himself, breathing shaking kisses to bare skin and whispered words against those pointed ears that Jim knows have to be sensitive and fantastic. He watches Spock nod to him, a simple gesture that he recognizes as a dismissal and he watches as Spock leaves the bar.

He is standing there a while, he guesses, because Scotty comes up to him and wraps a heavy arm around his shoulders. There is a thick smell of whiskey that hovers over him like a cloud and Jim knows he is well and truly shitfaced. He offers him a shot, and Jim takes it without hesitation.

"The way 'e looked at you through 'at glass 'at day, Captain," Scotty says. "I swear'n me life I ain' ne'er seen a more broken 'art."

Jim wants to believe him, so he takes another shot.

He sees Spock again at meetings where they plan the shifts of every crewmember, but they don't talk about what happened at the bar. He tries to be professional and not think about his first officer seated next to him, radiating desert heat and creating something buzzing underneath of Jim's skin. The meetings last for a few days and the last one leaves him finding an excuse to smooth things over with Spock before they have to leave on the Enterprise with the promise of space at their fingertips for five years.

"Commander Spock, hold on. I wish to speak with you about the mission." Jim says as the officers file out, Spock quickly trying to join them.


"Spock," Jim says as the last remaining officers leave. "Please."

He tries to project his honest intentions and his apologies anyway he can, and something shifts in Spock's eyes, making him step further into the room. Jim stands from his chair and starts sorting through the large amount of paperwork in front of him to resemble something neat and organized. Spock is waiting for him to say something, the strong line of his body is standing near the end of the table and he is trying very hard not to look at Jim.

"I'm sorry for the other night at the bar. It was out of line." Jim says.

Spock shifts uncomfortably. Jim notices the simple adjustment of the hands behind his back and the subtle shift in his stance, so familiar that Jim smiles when he sees it.

"You were rather intoxicated. It is illogical to think that I am in any way offended by your actions that night, Captain." Spock tells him.

Jim sighs. "Will you look at me, then?"

Spock turns his head almost automatically, eyes finally meeting Jim's. He still knows that Vulcan's feel stronger than humans. He could see it in the way Spock lunged for him after Delta Vega. He saw it as Spock gripped his throat with strong hands. He saw it in the Vulcan's eyes as he was held down, overwhelming grief and rage and loss so blatantly obvious that Jim had been mesmerized enough to stop fighting back.

Now Spock is looking at him and Jim feels like he should be saying something, but he does not want to avoid this because Spock is really seeing him. And there is something like grief in his too-human eyes that is nothing like that day on the bridge. Jim wants to understand. He wants Spock to understand.

"You know, I don't do this to be a hero," Jim says. "I love space. I don't want to be like my dad."


"No. Listen." Jim orders. Spock quirks an eyebrow. "What I'm trying to say is, people make these assumptions about me and a lot of them are true. People want me to be like my father and they get disappointed. And I hate it."

He thinks about all the times he has compared both Spock's. His reasoning is that one universe should be better than the other because there are so many ways to change what's happened to the other Spock (the one who knew Jim Kirk as T'yhl'a) and who lived without him for years.

Spock cannot change like the night sky. They are what this world has made them, spinning and shattering but whole and alive nonetheless. And together, damn it. They found each other again in this universe and Jim knew that they were a constant. They would not change.

"I keep comparing you to him, and I know I shouldn't. I'm expecting too much out of you." Jim explains.

An understanding passes over Spock's features. "You are speaking of my older counterpart." His brow narrows slightly, "I am not him. We differ in our experiences and-"

"Hey, I know, okay? I know. I've just been thinking a lot about that day in the engine room. And it wasn't supposed to happen like that, but I'm glad it did happen like that and I just wanted to tell you-"

Spock's brow narrows even further, and Jim can see him clench his jaw. "You melded with him. You have his memories."

Jim tenses at the glowering stare Spock throws at him. "Some of them. I mean, the important ones. He and his Jim were close. I don't think he meant to open up that much. He seemed glad to see Jim; well me, again." Jim shrugs.

"Either way, entering into a meld with an unwilling participant is incredibly invasive and frowned upon in Vulcan culture." Spock steps closer, around the edge of the table. Jim's eyes focus on the washed over creases of his jeans, his eyes lingering. "Was there any other transference?"

Jim thinks about the overwhelming feeling of loss that ran through him during the strange process of the meld. The Ambassador had not meant to, but the emotion was fresh and strong and it hummed through him like a loud echo. He wondered what it was like for this Spock, to have watched Vulcan crumble around him- to see his mother disappear in front of his outstretched fingers.

"Grief," Jim says simply. "Tushah nash-veh k'odu."

Spock is silent at this, and Jim wonders if he has surprised him. He remembers the strange connection of his mind and the Ambassador's -the easy way his thoughts enveloped Jim's; covering the corners and crevices with warmth. Something must have shown in his eyes, some kind of want he could not keep reigned in, and Spock straightens considerably.

"Nemaiyo, Jim." Spock says suddenly, and then quickly grabs his paperwork and walks out of the room.

Jim watches him leave, the Vulcan word lost on him.

"-and he just left! I don't even know Vulcan, Bones." Jim slurs.

The heavy weight of alcohol surrounds his thoughts and he loves it. Everything is a little hazy. He is looking at Bones, who is a lot less drunk and looking severely annoyed. Jim leans across the table, arm extending to pat the doctor reassuringly on his hand.

"Jim, I can't believe I'm saying this, why don't you just get him out of your system?" Bones scoffs and shifts away, fingers reaching for his scotch.

Jim laughs, giggles, into the next shot. It does not even taste like anything anymore. But he's the fucking captain of a ship and they are leaving in two days and he won't be able to get drunk for a while so he might as well wallow and complain about pining to his best friend while he still has the chance. Pining. Ugh. He's thought about getting Spock out of his system. Vulcan's don't do casual sex, he knows, but this isn't just about the sex. This is about the late night talks into a chessboard and the way they work together like a well-oiled machine. This is about how Spock looks when Jim appears on the bridge at the beginning of his shift and how Spock looked behind the glass as Jim felt like his molecules were burning alive.

He looks up at Bones, the sudden turn of thought filling him with a longing he does not know what to do with. Bones is staring at him with a surprised expression, eyes wide and teeth gritted like those days at the academy where he'd pass a test without studying the night before.

"Shit, Jim. Really?"

The words fall on him heavily enough to make him slump in his chair and his hand becomes limp on the table. Fuck. This wasn't supposed to happen like this. Maybe the hope of having Spock should have died with him that day in the engine room. The hope of having him and being his- a mutual exchange that Jim wondered was even possible for them in this universe. He sighs at the wood of the table, the hard surface sobering him for a moment before he feels hands lifting him from under his shoulders.

"C'mon, let's get you home." Bones says, wrapping a steady arm around his waist.

"See, this is why we're friends Bones."

"Why, so I can listen to your little girl problems?"

"So that I don't get wasted by myself," Jim smiles into his friends shoulder, "And so you can walk me home."

The walk to his apartment is long and the cool night air is calming enough to make him look up, letting Bones guide his feet so long as he keeps making them move. After they leave the brightly lit buildings behind them, the sky is easier to see. Bones is grumbling something quietly and Jim ignores him in favor of the stars above them. It is slightly cloudy, but the stars peek through nonetheless and Jim is still smiling.

"You know Bones, at least I'll always have the stars to look at." Jim spreads his arms up and shouts.

"Shut up, you're heavy," Bones growls as he grapples his arms down.

They reach his apartment and Bones knows all the security codes so he gets in quickly. Jim stumbles up the stairs with the doctor behind him. "Did you see the Orion constellation, Bones? That's my favorite from Earth, you know."

"Jim…" Bones steadies him as they reach the top of the stairs and there is a warning in his voice.

"My apologies, Doctor McCoy. I simply wished to meet with the Captain about affairs before the start of the mission." Spock is there, standing tall and put together next to his apartment door.

Bones scoffs loudly, "Talk to him?! Damn it, I'll let you talk to him after you tell me what the hell you did to him."

Jim blinks tightly, still trying to understand that Spock is standing there. After this whole night, the subject of his complaints and bemoaning is standing there without any indication that he cared what was going on.

"I assure you, I did not do anything to Jim to make him achieve this state of inebriation." Spock's tone is clipped.

"Bones, cut it out. Leave him 'lone." Jim feels tired. He leans heavily into his friend, closing his eyes because he is so drunk and Spock is standing right there.

"I will assist you if you wish it."

Bones is saying something, and Jim is being half dragged into his apartment- quickly placed in his bedroom down the hall. His bed is soft underneath of him, and he nuzzles into it. The sheets are cold on his heated face. There are muffled voices in the hall that Jim knows are speaking about him, but he does not care. He should be allowed one night, damn it. Eventually, Bones' voice dies away and a door shuts outside. Footsteps enter his room after a few minutes and stop near his head. He opens one eye, seeing Spock set water and two pills on the stand next to the bed. Jim groans.

"It will be best, Captain, if you rest." The Vulcan informs him, leaning down to speak in that low voice of his.

"Mm, it's Jim." He reminds his First Officer. "We're off duty."

He closes his eyes for a while, knowing Spock hasn't left. There is something comforting about this, he thinks. There is darkness beckoning in the back of his eyelids that he wants so desperately to fall into, but he opens his eyes again to look at Spock. He is peering down at him, a puzzled look on his face that Jim smiles at.

"Jim." It is almost whisper, that rough timbre of a voice.

"Spock." Jim replies. "Are you going to leave?"

"I must, ashayam."

Jim giggles. "I don't know Vulcan, Spock. You said it so much in my head when you were older, but I don't remember half of it. There was one word, though. T'hy'la."

He sighs at the sudden warmth on his forehead. Spock is touching him, warm fingers brushed against his forehead, and he closes his eyes at the feeling though it is slightly dulled by his exhaustion and the alcohol. He thinks about the way this feels, and how he felt earlier in the night with the whiskey burning down his throat at first but slowly easing its way down and settling warm in his stomach. That comfort is gone now, and the bed sheets are warming underneath him until he is cradled in that deep darkness of sleep.

When he wakes, sunlight in pouring in through the window and it is bright against his eyes. His head is pounding, and he sighs loudly into his pillow. His stomach feels heavy as he pulls himself up to look at the time. His alarm clock says 1100 hours and Jim groans before taking notice of the water and pills on his nightstand. Reluctantly, he grabs the glass. The room is not so bright when he opens his eyes next, and he decides to take the pills with a slow sip of water. His stomach sloshes uncomfortably.


It all comes back to him in pieces. Fragments of the night, of Bones' face when he realized Jim was seriously pining, Spock's face in the stairwell and the later feeling of his warm fingertips on his forehead. He presses his palms to his eyes and takes a deep breath to steady his train of thought because Spock was in his room and he does not remember being so miserably drunk before in his life and Spock probably knew it was because of him and Jim clenches his hands into fists.

"Fuck!" He cries out again.

There are footsteps coming down the hall and he looks up at his door in surprise right as it opens. Spock stands there, looking put together (as always) and…concerned?

"Jim?" He asks.

"Spock, what-" Jim blinks hard and screws his eyes shut. "What are you doing here?"

"You did not wish me to leave, and Doctor McCoy insisted I stay to watch over your…condition." Spock explains.

Jim sighs very loudly and brings his knees up so that he can bury his face in the soft sheets covering them. His head is pounding and Spock steps further into the room. "If you require further assistance…"

"I'm fine."

"If I may, Jim, you seem to be under great distress and I would like to assist you if I may."

"…I'm sorry you had to see me like that last night."

"As I said before, humans in their inebriated state seem to find much regret in the experience. May I ask why you felt the need to indulge in this last night?"

"Didn't Bones tell you?" Jim asks bitterly.

"I assure you, the doctor did not inform me about anything other than your tendency to vomit unless placed in the proper position while sleeping. I simply followed his instruction and stayed in your living area for the night in order to ensure your safety."

Jim takes his face out of his knees and looks at Spock, who stands stoic against his door frame despite the shielded concern in his deep brown eyes. "Thank you."

"Of course. Now that you have awoken, I will leave you to the rest of your day."

A panic sweeps through Jim's chest and he feels his heart pound wildly in his ears. He stands, in his clothes from the night before smelling terrible and clinging awkwardly and wrinkled to his skin. "Wait. Last night you said that you needed to discuss something with me?"

"It can wait, I assure you-"

"How about tonight?" Jim asks him. He is desperate to make something out of this. If he cannot have Spock that way, than he can surely keep him as a friend. "We can play a game of chess if you're up for it."

Spock stands still and silent for a long moment before nodding his head in agreement. "Would your apartment suit you better, or mine?"

"Either. I mean, I can come to yours. I'll bring dinner?"

"Yes, that sounds…adequate. I will see you at 1800 hours, then?"

Jim nods and the moment is so awkward that Jim almost regrets just letting him leave. They stare at each other for a moment too long, Spock uncharacteristically staring and Jim fidgeting under his gaze. Then, Spock murmurs a goodbye and the doorway is empty. Footsteps are followed by his door shutting, and Jim sits on the edge of his bed in exhaustion.

He leans against the brick of Spock's apartment building, waiting for the door to open while he holds steaming vegetarian take-away and a possibly overly casual expression. Jim knows Spock is neat, and the cleanliness of the apartment isn't a surprise. What he is surprised at, is that they are nice. Like rich as fuck nice and Jim wonders how much Spock pays a month when the door opens and Spock is standing there in civilian clothes, normal clothes. Jim stares a little too long at the dark pants and shirt that look a lot like regulation blacks (but Jim is sure those are jeans), and Spock is letting him inside so he draws his gaze back up to the face of his first officer and smiles brightly as he steps inside.

"Bones chewed me out so hard when I went to see him earlier." Jim says as he steps in, taking note of the sterility of the apartment. There aren't too many decorations, not like Jim's apartment at all, and the walls are white and bare. It contrasts his quarters on the Enterprise, where he keeps many Vulcan artifacts and Jim is reminded the Enterprise is home to more than just him. Even the temperature is raised a little to make it more comfortable for the Vulcan's higher body temperature.

"Not surprising considering his penchant for the dramatic and your rather self destructive display last night." Is Spock chiding him?

Jim laughs. "They say Vulcan's aren't funny. But you're god damn hilarious, Spock."

"It must be my human ancestry." And there is the slightest bit of amusement in his voice that Jim catches and smiles at.

"Must be." Jim holds up the food. "Vegetarian Chinese. Those two words together sound super wrong, just so you know."

He makes his way further inside and finds the kitchen easily. The bags are placed on the counter and Jim withdraws the vegetable lo mein for Spock and his own separate Moo Shu Pork. Spock stands curiously next to him, looking at the dishes with interest.

"Don't tell me you haven't had Chinese." Jim won't believe it if he says yes. But the Vulcan surprises him and raises an eyebrow.

"Of course I have experimented with human cuisine within the boundaries of my own dietary needs and found Chinese to be satisfactory. However, I have never had a dish like this." Spock says.

He leads Jim to the dining room and they sit at a small table raised high off the ground, with chairs that Jim finds annoying to get into. They eat slowly and Jim takes the moment to look around. He sees nothing super Vulcan, and he wonders if Spock has anything representing his culture in his human apartment.

"I find no point in having excessive décor when most of my time is spent on the Enterprise. It is illogical to purchase these things." Spock informs him as he bites into a piece of broccoli.

"You reading my mind?" Jim levels a joking glare at him.

"Of course not, Jim. Vulcan's are touch telepaths and to think-"

"Hey calm down. I was joking. I know."

They sit in silence for a while, a brooding look appearing in Spock's eyes. Jim knows what he's thinking about. He wonders how many times Spock has thought about the mind meld he shared with his older self. He wonders vaguely what Spock knows.

"You were supposed to die that day." Jim says, hoison sauce sweet on his tongue.

Spock says nothing, his bowl of noodles lying unfinished and neglected for a while before Jim had said anything. He wonders if this is the right time to tell him. If this is what he should be doing when he knows that they can only be friends now.

"And I suppose my counterpart survived considering his current presence in the Vulcan High Counsel?" Spock's tone is curious but also there is something deep in his voice that feels bitter and choking.

"Something about katra, look Spock, things didn't happen that way because I couldn't let you die again." He puts his hands down hard on the table, food forgotten.

"Better my continued existence to your death? Captain, you mistake the importance of such things."

"Mistake-in…Spock!" Jim's words bubble from his mouth in shock. He stands and looks straight at Spock, anger rushing through him. "Your life is important just as much as everyone else's."

He stares hopelessly and tries to find what he can say because Spock does not understand. Spock stands to match him, and there is anger pooling in his eyes as well. It is familiar, much like the moments before he was spread over a console on the bridge with strong hands around his throat. There is adrenaline pumping through him and he edges forward, to the side of the table.

"This meld my older counterpart forced on you has obviously caused you to make dire decisions concerning your life. I find his actions to be quite irresponsible and illogical."

"Fuck logic, Spock." Jim raises his voice. "Fuck everything else too, because it saved your life."

"And I was to watch you die."

Jim feels as though he has been slapped. He steps back silently, the shock surely written all over his face and his eyes wide with the realization that all that changed was that someone different risked their life for the warp core. Someone else died, and it was not Spock, but Jim wondered what it must have been like to watch him die behind that glass in that universe. Jim took in a shaking breath.

"Jim-," Spock rounds the side of the table so that he can be closer to something, and Jim steps back. He does not know if touching Spock will be able to keep him under control. He wants so badly to just feel him.

"When he connected to me, I heard him whisper through the link." Jim says. "T'hy'la."

Spock's breath hitches and he steps closer to Jim, his body heat suffocating. It makes him slightly dizzy. Jim knows what the word means. It was whispered affectionate and comforting; the whisper of a mind coming home and laying to rest. Friend, Brother-

"You know this word." It's a statement, a breath.

"So do you, and here we are." Jim says.

"We are not them, Jim."

"No, we aren't."

And Jim doesn't know who moves first because suddenly they are kissing. He wraps a hand around Spock's strong neck, keeping him placed firmly against him. Their lips are urgent and dry and Jim leans back to lick his lower lip, Spock chasing him with eyes closed. He is shoved against the edge of the table, one hand steadied on the top as he is held in strong arms. The kiss becomes desperate and Jim lets out a small moan at the slide of Spock's tongue against his lips. It is overwhelming, the heat of Spock against him, and his nerves are bursting against his skin at the feel of it.

Spock is there and sturdy against him. How long has he wanted this? He tries to think of it, of the moment when touching Spock became more than casual, more than necessary. Was it in the very beginning, with Spock standing over him with his hands tight around his neck and shattering eyes glaring into his own? Or was it in the chess games in the rec room after shifts, where they would talk casually about anything and everything? Was it against the glass, dying, wanting nothing more than to touch the hand beyond it and give everything he could? Spock makes a strange noise in his throat and Jim remembers touch telepathy. Spock's hands travel to his cheeks and he is held there against him, against the heat and not ever wanting to leave it.

He bites lightly at Spock's lower lip and his First is panting, the heat smoothing over the planes of Jim's face. Suddenly, Jim wants to touch, needs to touch, and he skims his hands up sinewy arms and down a hard chest. Spock does something with his tongue that makes Jim gasp and now it's sliding against Jim's and he tastes like spice and summer- Oh god if this is kissing.

Suddenly (too soon) they part, and Jim keeps his eyes closed because he cannot open them and see if this was a mistake. He does not want to open his eyes and see that it wasn't real, because he needs this more than anything. Spock kissed him, and fuck- Spock was actually good at kissing-Jim runs a light touch down the back of the Vulcan's hands, still resting on his cheekbones, and feels him shiver.

"Fuck." Jim groans. "We are so fucked."

Spock sighs, his warm breath once again creating a heady mixture on Jim's skin. He angles his head and presses his lips lightly on the skin of Jim's neck. "I find…" Spock mumbles, and Jim has never hears his voice like this before. So unguarded. "That there is…no such thing happening…just yet."

Jim groans. "Oh god. We're still in here?" He puts an urgent hand against Spock's arm. "Spock, we're still in your dining room."

"Then we will leave." Spock states in his Jim-you-are-an-idiot voice.

"So all I had to do was say that word and you'd jump my bones? Just like that?" Jim laughs.

Spock looks up and stares fiercely into his eyes, "My counterpart should not have melded with you. I find the thought extremely unpleasant. You are not his James Kirk."

Jim shivers. "Then whose am I?" He grins cheekily and feels those long fingers trace the new lines in his face.

There are lips against his ear then, and a warm tongue tracing the shell of it. Spock lets out a sigh of air that brushes down as far as his upper neck and Jim almost collapses against him in shock, his knees buckling under the sudden intimacy and the fact that this is Spock, standing in front of him hard and hot. He wants to lead him to the bedroom, run his hands up Spock's lean stomach, dip his fingers into those fucking jeans. He wants to lie in the simmering aftermath of it all and breathe and know.

"T'hy'la," Spock whispers softly, and the words create a roaring surge in his stomach that steals his breath.

"Do you understand now?" Jim murmurs, leaning his forehead against the side of the Vulcan's cheek.

"To what are you referring?"

Jim sighs out a cool breath on Spock's skin, "That day, in the engine room…"

Spock growls low in his throat and Jim feels the arousal pool in stomach at the possibility of that sound. There is something else too, the way Spock shifts minutely to be closer to Jim and the sudden nip on the skin below his ear. "Do not speak of that. I find it to be…" The words are lost somewhere on Jim's skin and as he grips Spock closer, something inside of Jim breaks a little.

"Spock…" Jim moves so that he is facing him. They stare at each other and Jim wonders what Spock is thinking. He wonders if this is logical at all. He sees the same look in those brown eyes as that day; the shattering of a beautifully crafted shield.

"My recent leave to New Vulcan was meant to re-establish my shields after the ordeal with Khan." Spock began. "Your…death-it caused me to lose control. I did not know myself, Jim. The only thing I envisioned as I ran him down was your body against that glass."

"Hey," Jim calls to him, his hand heavy on Spock's cheekbone. "Hey. I'm alive."

"Obviously." Spock deadpans.

Jim laughs and kisses him again. It's playful, but he feels the sudden shift when it happens; when playfulness turns to desperation and need. When Spock shoves him hard against the table and Jim's legs spread, Jim feels heat in the apex of his thighs. He doesn't know how this man can keep from feeling all of this and he knows he feels -Jim knows because he felt the grief and the love that his older counterpart let seep through their link. He is panting into Spock's mouth and fuck they need to get off of this table and into a bed.

"Come," Spock grabs his hand and gently pulls him through the kitchen and into the hallway.

When they reach the doorway of the bedroom, they kiss, slow and sweet and full of something like a promise. Jim falls into it easily, letting Spock gently kiss him in the entryway, lips soft and slightly warmer underneath his own, cherishing. His hands skim over the broad chest in front of him, and feels the curling of Spock's fingers into his hipbones. Jim laughs, running a hand down Spock's stomach and resting it gently above his belt. Spock shivers at the touch, and Jim pulls away from those soft lips to look.

Through half lidded eyes, Jim sees dilated black pupils in deep brown and keeps staring as he uses practiced fingers to unbuckle the belt. "We're just going to do this, then." Jim states.

"Whatever you wish, Jim."

Everything turns to a blur of skin and hands and feeling so that by the time they are in the room, Jim's shirt is half unbuttoned and Spock is running a hand runs down Jim's arm and soft fingers are mapping the palm of his hand. Jim catches them, and he slides his hand against them so that Spock is leaning into the touch. He wants this more than he has wanted anything and the feeling of Spock against him and pulling at the buttons of his shirt creates a fluttering in his chest that turns into a deep heat low in his gut.

Spock presses his lips softly against the top of his chest, licking at the contours of his chest as more of it is revealed underneath the unbuttoned shirt. Jim feels the wet heat of Spock's tongue and curls fingers into the scalp that is slowly going lower and lower until Jim feels lips against his lower stomach. Teeth now, nipping at the skin as though it could taste and tear him apart. And he is falling apart.

"Spock." Jim breathes, and the Vulcan is looking up at him. His lips are swollen and his cheeks are a deep green, flush with want and staring at him as though interrupted from something important and what could you possibly want, Jim?

"C'mere." Jim says, drawing him up so that they are kissing again and he can curl his fingers around dark brown hair. So that he can drown in everything that is Spock, the taste and the smell of him so addicting that he wonders how he can never have it again. Jim trails his lips across those flushed cheeks and towards the pointed ears that he licks the edges of. Spock makes a small noise at the base of his throat, Jim smiling because that was 100 credits Scotty owed him about those damn ears.

Spock pushes the shirt off of Jim's shoulders so that they are bare and he is reverently touching his shoulder blades, smooth underneath that pale skin. Jim feels the contrast and tries to memorize the difference, the feel of the long fingers against his bare skin that make him shiver against them. This slow exploration makes him feel so very fragile underneath the Vulcan's hands, like is Spock presses too hard he might break. He presses against Spock's stomach, tugging his shirt high enough to feel the smooth skin underneath that is awash with heat.

They pull away from each other for a quick moment, Jim never looking away from the reveal of Spock's skin underneath his skin as he shifts the fabric up up up and off. Jim lays his hand against that pale hip, the thrum of a heartbeat so hard and fast that the echoes of it reach that far. Separated only by skin, he thinks.

Spock's eyes are dark and consuming, looking down at him and gently pressing him onto the bed so that Jim is sitting and staring up into the fathomless eyes that seem fully Vulcan, now. His hands are shaking as he unbuckles Spock's belt, and then he fumbles with the fastenings of the jeans (he was right the sneaky bastard was wearing jeans and god they look good he should wear them more often) and they part to reveal the growing hardness underneath, straining against fabric. Jim pulls them down and Spock steps out of them fully so that he is left only in simple regulation issued briefs.

Jim takes one of Spock's hands in his, fingers intertwined and looks up as he leans into the hardness front of him. He sighs and feels Spock strain even more against his cheek. Spock tightens his grip on his hand and moans as Jim mouths softly at his cock through the briefs. The other hand rests heavily on Jims head and he wants nothing more than to taste him, to press his nose into the concentrated smell of Spock and simply breathe and taste and feel the man shudder from his mouth. So he tugs the briefs down because he is so fucking impatient.

His cock is tinted green and leaking pre-come at the tip, which Jim licks at first to simply taste. Spock ruts against his mouth and Jim smiles at the lack of restraint. He runs a practiced tongue down the length of him and twirls his tongue around the head before engulfing it entirely. Spock arches into him and Jim uses his free hand to stay Spock's hips from frantic motion. He loosens his grip on Spock's hand and runs a soft line across the palm and towards each finger as he sucks lightly on his length. The gasp of pleasure from above him makes Jim hum along his cock, and Spock is pulling his head away and pressing him back onto the bed. Jim takes in a gasp of air as he is stripped fully and efficiently before being ushered up so that his head hits the pillows. He watches Spock crawl up to him, long limbs engulfing him.

Jim stares at the determined gaze above him, making him shiver in anticipation. Spock kisses him, licking the inside of his mouth, and Jim knows he can taste himself and he groans because fuck that is hot. The heat is building so that Jim is sliding against Spock's skin as he bucks into the friction in the contact between their hips. His cock is almost painfully hard against his stomach as shamelessly ruts into that heat while Spock looks down at him, fascinated by his need.

"What is it you want, ashayam?" Spock whispers to him, his voice rough and deep in the quiet of the room.

"What does that mean?" Jim asks frantically. He wants it all. He wants to burn up with this man and their ashes to mix and float away together so that they are no longer distinguishable, one from the other.

"It means you." Spock quietly murmurs into the skin of his shoulder.

"I want you Spock." Jim whispers reverently. "I want you inside."

He knows how that it could be interpreted both ways, and he tries to convey that he wants both as Spock tightens his grip on his hands. Jim is spoiled in this moment, so spoiled with Spock's bare skin against his and that Vulcan attention all focused on him. He is dizzy with it. Spock looks down at him with searing eyes, seeing him burning with lust and love and want and need.

"Are you sure of this?"

"Fuck yes, Spock."

They kiss hard and the slow exploration turns into an explosion of touch and desperation. Their teeth clash under the force of their passion and Jim nips at the bare skin that finds itself under his lips. He could swallow this man whole and not ever be sated. The thought of never being tired of this makes him grip Spock tighter against him, and he finds the friction in the clumsy movements of their hips sliding together so fucking good. Yes oh god yes Spock.

"Jim. Please," Spock sounds like he is breaking and Jim claws at him because he needs to see. "I am not familiar with the needs of the human anatomy during this particular activity."

Jim laughs, "Do you have lube?"

Spock quickly crawls to away and Jim feels a sudden unwelcome cold creep over his skin. A drawer opens and Spock is there with a bottle in his hands. Jim takes it from him and studies it before pressing it back into his hands. He wraps a hand around Spock's neck and brings him down to kiss him thoroughly, Spock following his lips until he is once again on top of him.

"You have to prepare me." Jim settles so that his legs are extended out and around Spock's hips, so that his entrance is more accessible. "Or I can, you know, to make it easier." He reaches for the bottle but Spock pulls it away.

"Let me, taluhk." Spock extends a hand, the intention of a meld in the position of his fingers. "Show me."

Jim reaches up and pulls the hand to his face, and Spock adjusts so he is against the meld points and it is like they fall into each other. Where the Ambassador was a force of nature, tearing through his mind and leaving it breathless and full, so full of information; Spock is different in that he settles, boneless, into every part of his thought and awareness as though he were there all along. Jim imagines, showing the thoughts he would think in the security of his room and bed by himself. He lets the imaginary feeling of Spock's hands against and inside his body fill their thoughts. Through the meld, Jim feels Spock grow aroused at Jim's fantasies.

"T'hy'la." A voice whispered before they were once again outside of each other, and Spock is staring down at him with dark eyes and they are so close that their noses are touching.

Then Spock is touching him, a single finger against his perineum and then stroking down and they both gasp at the same time and Jim remembers those sensitive fingers and he pushes against them, drawing another hitch of breath from the Vulcan. It is slow, and Jim is grateful because he has not done this in a long time. Spock stretches him slowly and eventually Jim is shaking and grinding himself on those fingers. A sudden flex of Spock's hand changes the angle and hits his prostate and Jim feels his vision go a little white around the edges as Spock leans up and presses his lips to his chin and neck as if answering his pleasure with yes I have you.

"Spock, please." Jim cries out.

"What is it you want, Jim?" Spock asks him, fingers still slowly stretching him.

Jim moans. "You, Spock. Fuck. F-fuck me. P-please…oh god."

Spock spreads his warm body on top of Jim's and kisses him slowly, making the roaring heartbeat in his ears loud and reminding him that it is still there. The heat between them makes Jim grip every inch of skin he can reach because he needs Spock to fuck him now.

"How in control are you feeling right now?" Spock asks him, breath spilling onto his cheek.

Jim arches his neck and groans at those words, "Oh god, Spock."

Spock withdraws his fingers and opens the lube once more to apply a generous amount to his fully hard cock. It is too long of a moment before he is teasingly pressed against Jim's entrance. They exchange breaths, their mouths touching as they take in the feel of each other. Jim rolls his hips so that Spock is pressed harder against him because Jim needs something. There are hands holding down his hips hard into the mattress and Spock enters him slowly. They exchange panted breaths, Jim unable to look away from the fierce stare Spock fixes on him.

When Spock is fully inside of him, Jim twines his legs around lithe hips and tightens his grip on Spock's shoulders. Then Spock is moving, his hands not leaving his hips and the slide of their skin together makes everything so good and Jim is sweating so it is a slick of bodies undulating against each other. Spock rests a hand next to his head to keep himself upright and the feeling of him inside makes Jim a panting mess underneath of him. He feels his prostate hit again and he lets out a noise he did not know he could make.

Spock growls low against his neck and suddenly Jim is gripping the sheets as Spock thrusts into him, quick and hard and hitting that point almost every time.

"S-Spock, please…oh god. The..meld. Please." Jim cries out between thrusts.

Spock obliges after a moment, taking in the glow of Jim's body underneath of his and then he straightens and reaches a hand out to find the meld points on Jim's face. It is like tumbling into space, dark and slow and dazzling. The colors of their minds and thoughts are blending and Jim can feel the possessive mine of Spock's mind and the overwhelming reverence that the act is creating within him.

Jim, oh, Jim. Ashayam you are one with me.

He does not know who starts or ends where and he feels the distant pleasure of their bodies beyond the pleasure of their minds joining. Spock is murmuring into Jim's ear and their thoughts blend so that they are spinning into one string of ecstasy. When they come, it is almost simultaneous, and Jim feels his mind go white and calm and no longer empty, never empty- not anymore. Spock breathes hard into his skin and Jim lets his hands wander down the strong back above him.

Reluctantly, they separate. They are lying entwined and panting, a mess of fluids between them. Spock pulls away and Jim does not move as he hears him leave and walk down the hall. Jim flings an arm across his face and smiles at the ceiling. Spock comes back lowers himself to the bed and pulls at his arm, kissing those smiling lips as he takes the towel in his hand and cleans up the mess covering his stomach and below.

"Well, that happened." Jim says, and his voice is rough and sated. He smiles again as Spock puts the towel into a laundry basket near the closet.

"Your logic is sound, Jim."

"And they say Vulcan's aren't sarcastic." Jim jokes.

Spock lies next to him and Jim spreads himself against his side, wondering what constitutes as cuddling for a Vulcan. Do Vulcan's even cuddle?

"You are thinking loudly." Spock murmurs close to his ear.

"Our mission starts tomorrow," Jim begins. "Deep space, Spock. I'm going to explore deep space. With you."

Spock actually smiles and Jim stares hungrily, noting that Spock after hot sex was definitely more pliant and human than Jim had ever seen him. He raises a hand to that pale face, still flushed slightly green, and traces Spock's cheeks lazily. Spock stares at him, eyes wide and brown and full of so much that Jim wants to know it all. He wants to know all of Spock, even if it takes more than a lifetime, he wants to submerge himself in the existence of JimandSpock instead of just being Jim because this is so much more.

He feels the connection between them, like a chord stretched out into the spaces where they do not touch. And yet they touch in the most intimate of ways. Spock's amusement is light in his head, and he smiles as though the emotion has become his own. Perhaps it has.

They settle into each other, and Jim folds easily underneath Spock's arm. He presses himself softly into his Vulcan's chest and the hot breath against the nape of his neck makes him sigh contentedly into his pillow. They lie quietly, and eventually Jim feels the low buzz of Spock's mind become muted and his breathing evens. Jim thinks of the mission beginning tomorrow, the five year mission into space to discover and learn about new planets with entirely new species and skies. He feels the heavy weight of Spock's arm around his torso and he feels the hum of that mind lulling him into sleep.

Eventually, they have to wake up. The Enterprise waits for them above the earth, ready to fly them where none have gone before. As they ready for warp, the familiar hum of the ship underneath their boots, Jim looks out into the vast darkness of space. Tiny pinpoints of light permeate through the black and he feels the rush of exploration in his blood and the command is easy and familiar under his fingertips. As the ship shifts to warp, and the stars blur together into one broad expanse of light, Jim looks towards his First Officer and they exchange a glance full of promise and exhilaration. Despite the differences of this universe to the one Jim was shown so long ago, before his captainship, he knows this: He will always love the stars and he will always stand with his First Officer on a new planet and stare at those new stars in that new sky. Jim always thought he would burn up fast and fizz out quickly like a small star; but together they move through galaxies, burning up slowly in this shared existence.

Thanks for reading!