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It must be the shuffle of covers and the heavy weight lifting off the bed that wakes Jim. He’s aware it’s early in the morning, way too early to be up, and of a bone-deep lazy sort of satisfaction that he associates with one thing and one thing only. He can’t hold back the smile as the memories of the previous night come flooding back to him: the finality of Spock’s heated gaze meeting his, their bodies colliding in an explosion of need and desperation and familiarity and novelty, scorching touches and whispered words of love in between frantic kisses, frantic lovemaking, frantic joining of minds and then… union. Rightness. Oneness. Separate yet always together, always touching, always one.

 

Jim’s eyes flutter open and he’s greeted by a sight he will never forget.

 

Spock is awake and standing, gloriously, gloriously naked, heading for their shared bathroom. He must sense Jim is awake too, because he turns partially to Jim with a look that’s barer than his skin, brown eyes warm yet suddenly, instinctively guarded. He stares back at Jim as the Human takes him in, cannot avoid taking him in.

 

Long, ridiculously long legs lead to that perfectly shaped ass of which Jim now has a perfect, slanted view as Spock twists his body three fourths of the way, exposing the curve of his soft cock, a long-fingered hand resting close by, twitching as if ready to shield him in sudden coyness. Lean, skinny hips melt into a flat stomach, slightly less flat hairy chest and broad shoulders straight with tension.

 

Spock swallows, a tantalizing bob of his Adam’s apple, and Jim locks his eyes on the bruises of lips and teeth on the strong lines of the jaw. Jim left those marks there. He still can’t believe it. He watches with wonder the deep, dark shadow on Spock’s jaw and chin, around his mouth, a fair dusting of unfamiliar black stubble on those handsome, beloved features. Cheeks tinge a deep green and an eyebrow raises, undoubtedly at Jim’s inner growl of beautiful and mine and taketaketake, and Spock’s make-up is a little smudged and his hair is in disarray, and Jim did that and Spock needs to come back to bed, now.

 

Jim’s voice is rough as he gestures for him to do so and simply says:

 

“Hi.”

 

“Good morning, Jim.”

 

Spock comes back to him, for which Jim is very thankful, one large hand settling on his shoulder, the other finding one of Jim’s. Jim’s other hand rises, cupping Spock’s cheek, barely pulling. Spock bends down for a chaste but drawn-out kiss, then pulls back. Their fingers entwine, warm affection spreading from the Vulcan. Jim chases the coolness of those lips and the feel of thick, rough stubble -Spock’s!- against his comparatively smoother chin.

 

“There is an experiment I must oversee,” Spock can barely murmur as Jim lips and noses that incredible hint of a beard. Gorgeous. Tempting. Enticing. He places wet kisses along that much-desired jawline.

 

“Must you?” he asks, hopeful though he knows Spock wouldn’t mention it if it weren’t extremely, painfully, mournfully relevant.

 

A shudder, fingers tightening on his shoulder and in and around the grip of his fingers.

 

“Indeed.”

 

Jim groans. Just a moment longer.

 

His mouth reaches the lobe of one of those lovely pointed ears. He tongues the spot below it thoroughly, so that Spock will remember, he nips there and revels in the gasp that follows. He would move further up, to the hard pointed tip, suck there like he has done the night before, but then Spock might make that tiny scandalized and turned on sound he made yesterday and Jim would absolutely not let him up from this bed today, this week, this month, ever. So he retraces his steps instead, kissing back down to Spock’s throat, memorizing the feel of that stubble which Jim has hardly seen the equal of on his ordinate friend and certainly never felt, dreamt of feeling under his lips.

 

He kisses Spock’s chin, then his lips. Again and again, little breathless kisses because Jim can’t breathe when he thinks he’s allowed this and more now, that the press of Spock’s lips will return some time soon, eventually, and the press of his mind will always be there, never go away, always burn against his like this with a want that matches his and enough love to fill Jim once and twice and again and on repeat, forever.

 

“What time is it?”

 

“0349.”

 

It occurs to Jim then that Spock mentioned an experiment that could wait until morning when Jim suggested chess the previous evening. Spock was willing to wake at this ungodly hour for what he must have thought was only a chess game. Was only a chess game, only Jim had been unable to hide his feelings any longer when their eyes met and their fingers touched accidentally over a pawn.

 

“It’s early,” he whines.

 

Which explains why he isn’t already all over Spock-- mostly. Even a captain needs sleep. He closes his eyes and caresses Spock’s back with the hand that isn’t exchanging soft Vulcan kisses, feeling the powerful muscles shifting beneath the skin and the ghost of a memory of touching the same spot yesterday in the heat of passion. Spock pulls back and their eyes meet.

 

“I did not mean to wake you,” he says, moving his hand so that they are palm against palm in the tal’al. “Please, rest. My bed is yours for as long as you wish.”

 

A soft grin blooms on Jim’s lips.

 

“How ‘bout… forever?”

 

Voice deep, rumbling, overcome. Eyes glowing with warmth only Jim knows.

 

“That would be acceptable.”

 

Spock kisses his lips for a long moment, no heat to it even though Jim’s cock has been and still is somewhat interested in the proceedings. Spock rises again and Jim delights in discovering he isn’t the only one who is half hard.

 

Too awake to go back to sleep just yet but too cosy to get out of bed, Jim moves to lie on his side, leaning on one elbow, resting his head on his palm, and treats himself to the sight of Spock in this new yet familiar-feeling setting. Walking barefoot, stark naked, perfect ass on display. Jim’s morning could only be better if it was a little later and he could take the time before their shift to make slow, gentle love with Spock. Still, there is something incredibly precious about this intimacy and the cautious ease that comes with Spock, who is such a private person, being this comfortable with being naked around Jim.

 

Spock looks like he’s about to close the door to their bathroom, but he leaves it open instead, watching Jim with a fascinated look, as if he’s studying what Jim will do next. It translates as permission to enter anytime, share, but it sure also looks like permission to watch and Jim is more than content to keep doing just that, learn this side of Spock he hasn’t been allowed to until now.

 

The Vulcan disappears from view while he relieves himself, then is back to the visible side of the bathroom to lean against the sink and remove yesterday’s make-up from his face with a wipe. He carries his shampoo and conditioner from the little cabinet they share to store all their hygiene-related products as he enters the shower.

 

Spock soaps up quickly and efficiently under the sonic waves, from his shoulders downwards. He then washes the soap away from his feet upwards carefully, gracefully. Jim can tell he’s stealing glances now and then even through the thick, blurring glass of the shower.

 

Spock is never self-conscious or shy in public, they’ve been down to nothing but a loincloth on more than one mission, but he’s different when in private, when he can choose, and Jim has noticed that he does prefer to cover up if he can. He’s proud of how he looks, of his generous Vulcan genes, but he does care about what others think of him much more than he will ever admit. Jim could tell earlier that night, after he had undressed him for the first time with impatient hands and Spock had straightened up as though waiting for his judgement, had only relaxed after hearing Jim’s awed words,

 

“Beautiful.”

 

Spock is very thorough in making sure he’s completely clean of soap, then lathers his hair in what Jim knows is a fancy herbal shampoo that smells warm and exotic. Hey, they share the same cabinet; Jim had to open the bottle and check out what it smelled like. For science, of course. While he values his friend’s privacy greatly, he is a curious man. That’s how he knows Spock also uses a thick, cream-like, scentless conditioner. When that’s washed away by the sonic waves too, Spock exits the shower, completely dry but with a lovely green flush all over his body.

 

Much to Jim’s disappointment, Spock puts on a thick robe before methodically preparing his shaving and make-up products. Jim tries to commit to memory what Spock looks like with no make-up on. While he has seen him like this a couple of times everything seems to look different now that they are… bonded. Jim still struggles to even think it. Every time he sees Spock feels like the first time, like he’s falling in love again and again. It’s breath-taking.

 

Spock watches Jim with the corner of his eye.

 

“Do you intend to continue staring at me rather than rest as you need to?” he asks quietly, facing the mirror but throwing side-glances at Jim.

 

“You’re better than any dream, Mister Spock,” Jim replies with a smile. He loves to flirt with Spock, tease him, and now he feels even freer to do so.

 

Spock purses his lips, combing his hair neatly. “I was not aware that you held such fascination with my morning ablutions.”

 

“Everything about you is fascinating.”

 

Jim breaks into a grin, and Spock does face him now, a warm smile in his eyes. They lock eyes for a long moment, something of an exchange happening between their minds too: mutual comfort with each other, deep affection. Jim feels like they’ve had a lifetime of mornings together.

 

Back to facing the mirror, Spock applies shaving gel and uses an old-fashioned razor to tame his stubble into a clean, smooth jaw that Jim makes a mental note to kiss later. After he has washed his face, Spock’s fingers shake slightly when he touches his neck and jaw delicately. It takes Jim a moment to realize he must be noticing all the love-bites now for the first time. He’s worried for a moment that Spock might be upset before he’s hit with a sharp lash of approval and belonging, tainted with a shame that Spock rapidly represses. Jim relaxes into the mattress and smiles almost languidly at Spock when he looks over, reassuring him.

 

‘It’s alright to want to--‘

 

‘Indeed.’

 

Spock touches the green marks with what can only be described as fascination for another minute before covering them up. Jim isn’t upset about it really, he will also be covering his own later and it would be unprofessional not to do so. After all, he and Spock will know the marks are still there.

 

Jim yawns, sleep coming back to him as he watches Spock slowly go through contouring his cheekbones, applying eyeshadow and eyeliner and lipstick. It’s strange. Jim never thought of watching this curiously something he himself does almost everyday, but Spock really makes an art out of it. He makes it all look so natural and it fits him so well there’s not really much difference whether he’s wearing make-up or not: it’s like it reflects the way he normally is while absolutely accentuating his beauty.

 

Also, Jim has never before realized how erotic the gestures are. Maybe it’s because they’re coupled with stolen glances between them, impressions shared through their bond, half smiles and soft eyes, but it is beautiful to watch nonetheless. It has something to do with the care Spock puts into it, the attention, the passion. Actually, Jim has never noticed how similar it is to making love. He looks forward to mornings where they’ll wake up at the same time, share the shower, shave together and maybe do each other’s make-up. It’s a warm, soft thought, like a large part of his thoughts of Spock.

 

Drifting in and out of a near-asleep haze, Jim blinks at Spock putting on his uniform, catching a last look at his body before lying back in the small bed and closing his eyes, just listening to Spock’s movements. He’s almost as silent as a cat. Jim huffs out a short laugh: Spock is very cat-like… he purrs when-

 

“Jim.”

 

“Hm?” He opens one eye at his First Officer and smiles, remembering to reach up to kiss his shaven skin. “Time to go?”

 

“Indeed. It is a time-sensitive experiment. Afterwards, I will join you on the bridge for alpha shift.”

 

Jim nods, then caresses Spock’s hair gently, careful not to ruffle them.

 

“I love you.”

 

“And I you, Jim.”

 

Jim laughs softly, light-hearted like he hasn’t felt in ages, and kisses Spock’s lips lightly. Spock pushes back into it a little before letting his own hand fall on Jim’s head for a caress, then to Jim’s fingers in a Vulcan kiss.

 

“Rest now, t’hy’la.”

 

Jim falls asleep smiling.

 

~oOo~

 

Later, much later, after Jim’s alarm and after he’s gone through his own morning routine with a grin on his face, he makes it to the bridge craving coffee but with a spring in his step. The regulars -Scotty, Uhura, Chekov and Sulu- are already there, and they’re joined by Bones, Chapel and Rand, who hands him his coffee. Spock gets off the turbolift after Jim.

 

Jim sits down on his chair, pleasantly sore, and wishes everyone a good morning with a spontaneous grin that goes from ear to ear. He feels himself blush at the knowing looks his crewmen exchange then, Sulu elbowing Chekov, Bones muttering something like “about damn time” and Jim and Spock both being due a physical, Scotty looking like he’s just married off his firstborn. Jim might as well have walked on the bridge announcing it, because he knows he looks like the cat who’s caught the mouse, because he’s never again going to look like he doesn’t want to shout to the universe that yes, he made love with Spock last night and he feels on top of the world about it. He turns to his right and Spock lifts an eyebrow at him, warm complicity in his eyes, and bends over his scanner with a deliberate, teasingly slow motion.

 

It’s going to be a long, long day.