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It was a funny story, how James T. Kirk became a prostitute on Vulcan.  Not that any Vulcan ever asked how a farm-raised Terran ended up in a very selective line of work.  His clients, predictably, weren’t much for pillow talk.

But it was a funny story.

Jim enjoyed the work.  He preferred the term prostitute, a straightforward and honest word, which one would think his hosts would appreciate. The Vulcan term loosely translated to “adept of the arts of pleasure,” or there was the more poetic phrase “unexpected winter rain in the burning desert” if one preferred. He was proud of the work he did and not many had his particular skill set.  Over the last five years he’d earned the right to dictate his schedule and design how he spent his time. He was finally the captain of his own ship, in a sense.

His home was the rau-nol, one of the oldest standing structures in ShiKahr, built within the walls of the mountain that overshadowed the old East District.  An adept of Gol, centuries before, had established the rau-nol, or the Keep, and her tenants guided its practice to this day. Fun bit of trivia they never mention to the visitors: her katric ark was still housed within the Keep, under the Singing Gardens. The Keep’s unassuming entrance didn’t indicate the type of business being conducted, and neither did any of the employees, but it was an open secret all the same.

Jim’s clients came from all walks of life: scholars, politicians, scientists, artists. He once had a very pleasant yet unusual contract for a week on Risa once, hosted by a trio of Vulcan tenors.  After the “desert fires had been sated”- all three of them, at once- they treated him to a week on the pleasure planet and promise a pair of tickets at any of their performances in the Alpha Quadrant.  But he mostly kept his business within the Keep.

Which is why the newest request was so intriguing.

“Where will you be sending me?”

“Undetermined.”

“How long?”’

“Unknown.”

“And when?”

“Also unknown,” Head Adept T’Grih repeated, still dressed in her light, flowy salmon colored robes she typically wore to receive official visitors. She must have requested his presence immediately after her meeting with her mysterious visitor. “I would handle this matter myself, but I think you will agree that you are significantly more suited for this situation.”

She handed him the data rod and waited for him to open it.

“Starfleet?” he asked, surprised by the (heavily redacted) personnel file that hovered on the screen.

“High ranking officer on one of the flagships.”

Jim’s eyebrows raised.  He had no idea any Vulcans had pursued that particular line of work.  He read the rest of the profile avidly, trying to figure out what about this particular case called for his unique set of skills.

Some simply admired his exotic qualities such as the Human eyes and pink skin. Others preferred his manner, emotive and amiable to a fault, which was refreshing for many during the Burning. However, he was Human and breakable.  Fortunately, he had other talents.

After a few pages, while never specifically stated, it was obvious to Jim why he was specifically request for this client. It didn’t come outright as say it, but if one knew how to look for the lack of details...

“He’s only part Vulcan?”

T’Grih nodded silently. “And very young. Not yet thirty-five.”

Jim frowned in thought, the dots slowly connecting. He wasn’t a social butterfly, but even he knew the broad outlines of ShiKahr’s prominent families. Many of them had been in his bedchambers. He knew only one family that could possibly arrange such a contract with T’Grih. “His mother-”

“- will not want to worry her son about the explicit details of our private arrangement.”

Jim’s eyebrows shot up.  He wasn’t sure what he was more surprised by: that the client’s mom was arranging this on behalf of her son and the son was a bit of a prude, or that this had to be the son of Dr. Amanda Grayson.

“We have arranged a tentative contract,” T’Grih continued, waving her hand toward the data rod. “and Starfleet and the Enterprise has agreed to host, although alternate arrangement can be made on Deep Space Three.” Jim made a face. Space stations managed by Starfleet uniformly had the worst quarters, and his clients had very specific needs, needs that could not be met with a shoebox containing a latrine and a bunk bed.

This is why he and his colleagues insisted on working in the Keep. At any point there were less than ten working adepts, and the Keep would host no more than seven clients at a time. The atmosphere of the rau-nol was maintained to be sterile and calming, in every physical and psionic sense. That could not be had on a starship, and Jim said as much.

T’Grih looked unimpressed, but Jim didn’t take it to heart: she was always unimpressed. “If you wish to decline, I should inform them immediately.  It will be difficult to find a suitable alternate arrangement, and that will take time that they may not have.”

She wasn’t saying that to tug at his heartstrings, but it worked nonetheless. The man was much too young to experience his first time alone, and he needed an expert touch, literally. Jim glanced again at the profile, worrying his lip between his teeth in thought.  Dammit.

“Fine.”

--

Three weeks later, all contracts were signed and filed in triplicate. Not once did the client, Spock, attempt to contact Jim or request his records, but T’Grih sent them all the same to Starfleet Medical, and one of their senior officers would assist in arranging the proceedings.

Jim boarded a shuttle to rendezvous with the USS Enterprise.  He arrived with slightly more pomp and circumstance than he was typically used to. Three officers and a yeoman stood outside the shuttle doors to receive him, but not any Vulcans.

“Mister Kirk,” the tallest said, holding out her hand in Terran greeting.  “Welcome aboard the Enterprise.”

“Sorry,” Jim said, waggling his fingers apologetically in her direction. He hadn’t had casual contact with his hand in quite some time. “Saving these magic fingers for someone special, you know?”

The lieutenant’s eyes widened, but the two ensigns chuckled. Jim flashed them all a wink and followed his hosts. He adored it when people got his sense of humor.

--

Commander Spock was indisposed at the moment, he was informed by the shortest ensign, and instead of showing him to his room, Lieutenant No-First-Name Uhura of the Communication Department and colleagues led him to the sickbay. The doctor himself received him, med scanner at the ready.

“I’ll take it from here,” the doctor acknowledged, his voice an unusual southern drawl.  “Mister Kirk, I am Doctor McCoy.  Please have a seat.”

Alone in the med room, Jim looked around skeptically. “What is this, a physical?”

“Yes, one of our many complimentary services aboard the Enterprise.  Please remove your shirt.”

“I receive a monthly physical, which was sent to you,” Jim explained, still obligingly stripping for the surly doctor hovering over him. “My license to practice is up to date. I’ve never had any infractions or misconduct on record, including illness or injury.”

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean beans on this ship with this Chief Medical Officer. Arm out.”

Jim extended his arm and gave his blood sample and passed his hand over a scanner to measure more vitals. Another scanner rested against his spine, taking psionic readings. Jim imagined there was only one other person on the ship who necessitated that equipment.

“Everything matches from your last records,” McCoy noted absently.

“Was there any doubt?”

“Just one thing-” and Jim squealed as the hypospray landed on his neck. “Ebolian flu. You’ve never been inoculated.”

Jim glared. “Is it catching on this ship?”

“Everything looks good,” McCoy said, ignoring his question, flicking a finger across the medical scanner.

“Oh, goody,” Jim snarked, grabbing his shirt.

“I have more questions.”

Jim rolled his eyes, raising his hands in defeat.  “I have questions too. Do you have pizza here?”

The doctor blinked.  “Pizza?”

“Bread. Cheese. Sauce. Toppings. Have you heard of it?”  McCoy nodded warily. “I am in need of some. Take me to your pizza, and I will answer your questions.”

“I can take you to your quarters, which has a replicator.”

Jim nodded, gesturing for the doctor to lead on.

--

Jim’s temporary quarters were small but very comfortable for a starship. The living area had an observation window, sitting area, and a replicator, with a full bathroom and sleeping quarters off to the side.  Much better than anything he imagined on Deep Space Three.

McCoy showed him his personally recommended program for tavern style sausage and mushroom pizza. Jim replicated an extra large and headed to the small dining table where McCoy had poured two tall glasses of synthale and started helping himself to Jim’s pizza without asking. Jim wasn’t sure if he was amused or homesick for Vulcan.

Fortunately, it only took McCoy a minute to really get to the heart of what he really wanted to know.

“You’ve been doing this long?”

“Sex work?” Jim asked bluntly.  McCoy didn’t flinch at the outdated Terran term, and Jim’s esteem in him raised. “A few years.”

“I didn’t expect Vulcan to send a Human.”

“I’m the only licensed non-Vulcan on the planet.” Jim smiled into his synthale. “Yeah, I know. It’s a funny story.”

“Why exclusively Vulcans?”

Jim finished inhaling his second slice of pizza.  The replicators on Vulcan never could get it right and they were going to have to roll him out to the shuttle when this contract was over.

“Why not?” Jim said around a mouth of melty cheese.

McCoy looked nonplussed, but Jim felt a pang of pity for the man who knew the codes for the first decent pizza and beer he’d had in three years.

“Because it’s good work, pays well, and there’s no bizarre expectations.”  McCoy looked even less impressed.  “Oh, you mean…”

“Yes. As you might imagine, the medical information privy to even senior Starfleet officers are very limited.”

“I’m afraid I can’t be much help there.”

“Can’t or won’t?”

Jim inhaled another slice without comment, staring down the older man.

“Just tell me this, will Spock be all right?”

He paused, considering. “Do you have a reason to think he won’t?”

Several strange emotions flickered over the doctor’s face.  Concern. Doubt. Suspicion.  “He’s a private person. You’re going to have a hard time getting him to trust you to do… whatever it is you do.”

Jim filed the doctor’s alongside the other suspicions he had in the far recesses of his mind.

“Relax, doctor.  I’ve never lost a patient.”

--

After Doctor McCoy excused himself from Jim’s guest quarters, he wasted no time unpacking.  His extensive wardrobe and personal items had been delivered separately with very specific instructions and he was pleased that the yeoman had provided a meditation lamp and area to his specifications.  Jim sighed with content as he eased himself to the floor, ready to start his daily ritual.

It was not meant to be, as there was a hail at the door as soon as Jim’s eyes closed.  He pursed his lips in annoyance, but perked up when he saw who it was.

Lieutenant Commander Spock was the strangest Vulcan Jim had ever met.  Half-Vulcan.  Half-Human. Whatever.

“Live long and prosper, Spock, son of Sarek,” Jim intoned in perfect Golic, his hand raised in ta’al. Spock replied in just-barely polite reciprocation and accepted Jim’s eloquent invitation into the guest quarters, but answered in Federation Standard instead. Jim mentally shrugged, it made no difference to him, and switched to Standard to offer him a beverage.

Spock was dressed in his uniform blues, his hair in a functional cut that left his forehead covered in a perfect line of bangs. His boots reflected the light in the room, and his stance was parade rest perfect. Jim imagined that if he traced his finger anywhere on the officer, he could get a paper cut and a demerit for conduct unbecoming of a Starfleet guest.

In contrast, Jim wore his hair longer, blonde waves allowing a bit of the tantalizing roundness of his ear to poke through. He hadn’t worn his adept clothing while traveling, but his feet now bare and the tunic was still open at the chest, revealing some sparse hair below his collarbone. He could have stepped out of an intimate scene of a Stylok fresco and been dropped into the aseptic ‘Fleet quarters.

“It will be unlikely that I will be in need of your services any time in the near future,” Spock said without preamble, his voice tense and commanding.

“As you say.” Jim’s immediate acquiescence certainly took the wind out the other’s sails. The adept had anticipated mood swings and unusual behavior, so it was easier if he didn’t sweat the small stuff this early into his contracted service.

Spock’s eyebrows threatened to disappear into his bangs. “Then you will understand that I will not be asking you to join me in my quarters tonight.”

Jim waved his hand dismissively, taking a seat and gesturing for Spock to do the same. “What is outlined in the contract is merely a rough outline of expected behavior.  You are free to rearrange it, as specified in section delta and epsilon, as you wish. Your time is your own, Commander Spock.”

Perhaps Jim’s use of his title made Spock ease a bit out of parade rest and he finally took a seat.

“However,” he added, “anything in the first section of the contract is non-negotiable.” Jim extended a hand out to the Vulcan.  Spock stared at it, unmoving.  “Commander, please. I promise to make it as painless as possible.”

“My concern is not pain.”

“Of course not.”

A beat more, and Spock took Jim’s hand in his own, allowing Jim to trace his fore and index fingers across Spock’s briefly, sending waves of psionic energy back and forth.  The brief contact was like using a meat thermometer into Spock’s mental state.  Jim sensed the furthest corners of Spock’s mind were frayed and fires would be upon him soon. It was early, but he wouldn’t have been surprised if the Commander hadn’t noticed yet.

In a few moments it was done and he withdrew his hand.  Jim smiled blandly and made no comment, while Spock gazed unseeing in front of him for several seconds.

“All seems as it should,” Jim commented finally.  “You will want to prepare tonight.”

Spock visibly startled. “So soon?”

The adept nodded solemnly, trying to take some pity on the exceptionally prickly half-Vulcan.

“It will be easier if I prepare with you,” Jim gently suggested.

Somehow Spock’s spine became stiffer. “I will have no need for your services until the appointed time.”

Jim made a distasteful face. “It’s not all naked work, you know.”

Spock gave him a bland look.

“The job of an adept is to anticipate your needs, the things you don’t even realize you crave.” Jim pushed off the chair and sank down to the ground, adopting more typical Vulcan position on the floor, half lotus, his fingertips trailing across Spock’s chair. He didn’t miss how Spock’s gaze followed them. “Some crave recreation. Others, indulgent food.”

“You cook for them?” Spock asked, drier than Vulcan itself.

Jim smiled coyly. “I make a chocolate mousse you’ll never forget.”

He looked up to Spock through his lashes.  If he moved a little further forward he could rest his head on Spock’s knee.  Jim waited for the question, and could almost see it forming on the young man’s lips.

Unfortunately, it never came. The jarring chirp of the comm interrupted their conversation.

“Commander Spock to the ready room.”

Spock looked uneasily at Jim, hesitating to answer.  “Go ahead,” Jim assured him. “I’d guess you’ve got at least twelve hours until you’ll require anything from me.”

“What will you do?”

Jim sat down heavily on the long couch, tucked his hands behind his head, uncaring.  “I have plenty to amuse myself, don’t worry about that.”

Spock frowned.  “I am not… worried.”

Jim smiled.  “Good.”

--

Jim was two third of the way through his meditation routine when he was interrupted again.  The door chimed and Jim unfolded his legs and stood up to answer the door.

Whatever he expected to find, it hadn’t been a rattled woman, covered in soup.

“Mister Kirk? Nurse Chapel. I’m sorry to interrupt you, but I think you’re needed in Commander Spock’s quarters.”

Jim blinked, not processing what that had to do with who was at his door.  “What happened?”

“He’s not himself,” the nurse hedged.

Jim glowered. “Did he do this to you?” He gestured to her, where something that smelled distinctly like plomeek soup was dripping down her med uniform. “That’s not acceptable. I’m a professional and trained to deal with these types of situations.”

The nurse looked even more alarmed, verifying Jim’s suspicions that Spock was trying to hide his condition, or at least understood less about the Burning than he should. “He left the bridge an hour ago, claiming he didn’t feel well.”

Jim sighed. Stubborn, naive, half-Vulcan idiot. “Wait there, I’ll grab my things.”

Jim turned on his heel and grabbed a duffle bag filled with his tools of the trade. He hoisted it over his shoulder and followed Nurse Chapel to the turbolift and down two corridors until she stopped in front of Commander Spock’s door.  Her initial attempt to hail Spock failed, as did the level one security code. Jim could feel her vibrating in annoyance as she plugged in the multisequence for an emergency medical override of the Commander’s personal quarters.

Jim rocked on his heels as Nurse Chapel worked at breaking down the door, grinning as passersby, giving them a jaunty “good afternoon” as they eyed him. A few moments more, and the door was finally open and Jim could step inside.

He walked a few steps into the room-- the temperature was set on sweltering, something Jim had finally gotten used to on Vulcan-- and Nurse Chapel stood at the door, looking in warily.

“Thank you, I can handle it from here,” he said.

“Are you sure?” she asked, probably scanning the room for flying bowls of soup.

“Positively,” he assured her, patting the duffle bag on his shoulder. “I will alert the medical staff if I need assistance. Please inform your captain that the Commander will be on medical leave, effective immediately.”

Now he was alone, and in his element.

He peeked his head into the bedroom, relieved to see that Spock was passed out face first on his bed, still in uniform.  Good.  It would not be long.

He set his duffle bag onto the bathroom counter and started to remove his tools and equipment. The kohl and oils, the scarves and beads. A medical tricorder. Protein bars. A PADD filled with his library of books and music. Sex toys. Incense. Slippers. Twelve tranquilizing hyposprays, set to only be administered by Jim.  He began the process of distributing the items of where he thought he might need them, lighting the incense and painting his eyes with kohl.  He had changed out of his traveling clothes into the soft teal robes that cinched at the waist with his ceremonial belt.

Jim spared another glance at the prone half-Human, fingering the belt and considering.

It was as he said to Spock, just hours before: it was his job to anticipate the things that were never spoken, not even in the mind.

On a whim, Jim removed the belt.  He thought about removing the dark lines around his eyes, but decided he liked the effect. He didn’t tie the scarves around his wrists, nor did he wear the jade and amber beads. Jim suspected Spock desired something else entirely.

When Spock finally stirred from his bed, Jim was lying casually at the foot of the bed, reading his PADD.

“Good to see you awake,” Jim said softly, setting his reading material down. “How do you feel?”

The other man squinted at him, and then finally admitted, “I burn.”

Jim hummed soothingly, reaching for Spock’s hand. “Yes, you do. You’ll be fine. I’m here to help.”

“I-” Spock swallowed. “I don’t know how…”

In any context, Jim never said the words. Pon farr. Plak’tau. Plathau-fam i’dnu. The words that had a special weight and power, they struck dread into the heart of the Vulcan cultural subconscious. He was trained to use the poetic phrases. The Burning. The final fire. To quench a thirsty ground without a garden planted. But this was Spock, and he needed something slightly different. He needed to feel whole, to feel accepted in all aspects. Jim needed to slake the thirst of Spock’s Vulcan biology while feeding his Human needs.

When Spock took Jim’s hand, Jim didn’t allow for any transference. His weak psionic ability allowed for that much, at least. He got up on the bed, fingering the bottom of Spock’s uniform shirt.

“I think you’ll feel better with this off.”

Spock nodded, sitting up to take the shirt with trembling hands and started to undo his pants.  Jim stilled the hands at his waist. “Wait. Let me.”

He leaned forward and gave him a tentative kiss.

Jim was professional enough to not acknowledge Spock’s flinch-- probably because Jim startled himself a bit too.  It had been years since he had given anyone a Human-style kiss. It was just as he remembered: intimate and gentle and a sure sign of trust on his part, putting his face against a hormone-ravaged Vulcan’s teeth.

He studied Spock, aware he was being studied in kind. Jim licked his lips and leaned down again, gratified when Spock opened to him to gently explore his mouth. Spock’s hands tentatively rested around Jim’s neck, the tips of his narrow fingers inching into his hair.  Jim groaned, pleased when Spock started to reciprocate and almost didn’t catch the moment Spock decided to brush his hands against Jim’s psi points.

The initial full connection was always intense. To draw into a Vulcan mind during the first stages of the Burning was like understanding a chess set while it was being thrown out an airlock. Chaos came at Jim in pieces, recognizable as Spock, but the forces that ruled it made no logical sense.

Jim was Human. Modestly psionically gifted, he had very little to recommend him as an adept, aside from the necessary skills performed while naked. However, he posessed one very unique talent: his emotions were exquisitely vivid.

He once made a governor of a Vulcan province weep with delight over nothing but Jim’s thoughts. A civil engineer spent most of her Burning laughing until her sides ached. In one emergency, he coaxed a Vulcan from the dangerously enraged depths of the final burning to a quiet, contemplative melancholy, saving his life.

He had meditated for hours, trying to find the perfect emotion for Spock. He had but one chance to create the cornerstone to guide him through his Burning.

Jim slipped his own fingers around Spock’s, holding them, as he stared at Spock and then stared at the wide observation window behind him, to the stars rushing past them.

Spock gasped, tightening his grip on Jim’s skull. “What?”

Jim smiled, remembering and tying the emotions of those memories as the keystone to which Spock would order all his thoughts, in place of a marriage bond. Jim thought of his first trip outside his solar system. His first hike into the caverns of Mount Selaya. He found Spock’s memories, and tied them to mental anchor, pleased when the emotions lit and fused easily, as a Human’s would. He could pluck the chaotic memories, reading them as easily as he could read his own: the first time Spock deciphered a genetic sequence. His first time falling in love. The first time he held a newborn sehlat.

Spock made a noise, as if being punched, and melted back into the bed.  Jim gentled the fingers away from his face and started to go to work on Spock’s pants.

“What?” Spock repeated.

Jim gave him a cheeky grin. “How do you feel?”

“I am not sure.”

“This is just the very beginning. It will get worse before it gets better,” Jim cautioned. “You’ll not be leaving this bed for a while.”

“What did you do?” Spock asked, sounding more confused than accusatory.

Jim tugged at the black legs of the pants, urging Spock to lift his hips. “You don’t know?” he asked, drawing the legs down and off, leaving him a completely naked Spock for his perusal. Jim didn’t bother to fight a look of not-so-professional appreciation.

“Wonder.” Jim nodded. “You are using my feelings of wonder. Why?”

“I thought the emotion would resonate with you. You’re a scientist and an explorer. I suspected you chase after phenomena and want to be in the presence of the miraculous.”

It wasn’t a very Vulcan value, but it fit Spock. Jim smiled, throwing a leg over Spock’s thighs, resting astride him. Spock’s expression had not changed.

“I did not know.”

Jim smiled, a bit of professional pride in himself. “It helps to acknowledge aloud. Giving tongue to your desires helps facilitate the process.”

Spock rose one eyebrow. “Is that so?”

Jim grinned, wiggling a little on Spock’s bare lap. “Are you inferring a pun?”

“No. I’m anticipating an opportunity.”

Jim laughed, knowing he’d add this memory their emotional cornerstone as well.

--

Many many hours later, Jim stared up on the ceiling, panting, with a grin plastered across his face.

“You okay?”

Spock lifted his head from where it was buried in Jim’s shoulder, his expression dazed but alert.

“Yes. Are you well?”

Jim adjusted the pillows underneath him with one hand as the other teased patterns across Spock’s spine. Spock stretched into it like a cat. “I’m great. You did great.”

“Jim?”

“Hmmm?”

“Is it always like this?”

He paused, considering the ease of the Burning, the natural way he took to Jim’s emotional responses and guidance. “For you? I don’t know. Maybe.” Spock continued to stare at him, his eyebrows quirking at an angle that even Jim could decipher the unspoken question written upon his brow. “It was exceptionally pleasurable, even by human standards.”

Spock put his head back down, oozing satisfaction.

“Don’t be so smug.”

“I find I cannot.”

--

Three days later, Jim sat at Spock’s table, finishing the last of the pasta florentine he had made.  Spock insisted that he didn’t like tomatoes, but Jim considered that his garlic cream sauce would combat the acidity he claimed he disliked nicely. Considering both bowls were now empty, it was a success.

“I’m glad you could enjoy my other great talent,” he said fondly. “It’s not often I have the chance to share it.”

Spock nodded, his mood suddenly turning quiet, almost morose. Jim could almost see the other’s mental hourglass sand distressing low as Jim was due to leave soon.

“Do you get shore leave to Vulcan often?” Spock shook his head. “That’s too bad. I would love to cook for you again.”

“You could,” Spock said, and then clammed up immediately, as if he had said too much in two syllables.

“Oh?”

“You could stay.”

“Stay?” Jim repeated, not sure if he had heard correctly.

Spock was turning an alarming shade of mottled green. “I would be remiss if I did not offer. As you said, the desires burn less when spoken.”

Jim looked around at anything that wasn’t Spock. Oh boy. Leave it up to this assignation to go off script and beyond contract, a highly un-Vulcan thing to do. He wasn’t meant to be a kept man, in any case. He was no pet, and didn’t think Spock meant to offer such a thing.

“What would I do on a starship?”

“The mess hall is in dire need of a chef.”

His eyes snapped back, blue meeting pleading brown.

“Chef, huh?”

“Replicators are inefficient and crew morale would benefit from your skills.”

Jim quirked a smile, refrained from the obvious but one of them already has, and made an unconvinced noise. What did a starship have that Vulcan didn’t?

Adventure. People with senses of humor. Comfortable climate. Pizza. Prickly, adorable commanding officers. Oh boy. Way off script and off contract. Perhaps it was time to retire.

“I suppose I could start there,” Jim said, delighting in Spock’s shy half-smile. “I’d like to see what the benefits and staff support are. I have a really excellent vacation package in my current line of work.”  He took Spock’s hand, enjoying the gentle warmth that he willingly shared. “You never know, I could work my way up to captain over time.”

It would be a funny story how he got to be on a starship, at any rate.