When Jim wakes, head pounding from the blow he'd received, night has fallen, and the moon hangs heavy and swollen over the horizon, larger than any he's ever seen on Earth. Some bizarre chemical compound in the planet's atmosphere has given the night sky an ominous red haze, and Jim lays for a long while in silence with his eyes fixed on the moon, rough-hewn and yellow like an old bone, waiting for the pain in his skull to ease.
There is a strange smell in the air, thick and cloyingly sweet, like rotting flowers. He frowns, rolls to his side to ease onto his knees, and stops.
The ground around him is strewn with the dismembered corpses of the species native to this planet, blood gleaming lurid and yellow, organs and limbs scattered as far as the forest, some thirty odd meters away. The odd smell is their blood, he realizes. He shoves himself to his feet, takes a step towards the forest. The ground squelches beneath his boots. His stomach heaves.
What could have done this? he wonders. Just as important, where's Spock?
He looks around wildly, hoping for some sign. The rest of the landing party lie broken on the ground behind him, all dead. Strangely, Ensign Prado's uniform has been stripped off, although his pack is still sitting at his side. Jim swallows, heart thudding in his ears.
"Fuck," he whispers, and stoops beside them, doing his best to ignore the glazed empty eyes or the way Ensign Tomasi's guts have fallen. He has limited supplies, and as much as he hates to do this he needs what they've got.
The bodies are cool as he strips them of their packs, and he glances around again, frowning. It's been long enough that whatever had done this would have come back if it intended to, and he looks down at the security detail again, chewing his lip.
To leave them like this would be a shame he could never bear.
The moon is rising towards its zenith by the time he finishes burying them. He strips the natives of what belongings he can identify and use, and for lack of better prospects follows the trail of bodies to the forest. He has no idea of where to go, so strikes out at random, adjusting his direction as his instincts urge.
Everything is quiet. Presumably there is wildlife native to this forest, as well; the lack of noise is both encouraging and foreboding.
Moonlight, thin and sallow, filters in thin slices through the treetops, illuminating the path before him in flashes of light that leave him half-blind in the darkness. The trees are thin and scraggly, silver-barked and peeling, what vegetation he can see in strange eldritch hues. Somewhere in the far distance he hears the hesitant return of bird call. In his vicinity there is nothing.
Jim walks for almost two hours before he finds any signs of life. Something catches his eye as he passes through another moat of moonlight, a splash of color he does not expect. He stops, dropping into a crouch, and eyes the blot of green with trepidation. Then he takes a deep breath and reaches out to touch it with a single finger, brings it further into the light, and stares for a long moment.
Blood. Vulcan blood.
He settles back on his heels and feels something like relief unfurl in his chest. It's only a tiny drop, and he spotted it because he was lucky.
It raises another question, though. Why would Spock have gone on without him?
From there it's like following bread crumbs.
Spock leaves very little to follow, but Jim knows how he moves in stealth, can see where Spock has paused, where he's darted eel-like through the trees. What's more troubling, and far easier to follow, is that something has clearly been stalking Spock, and whatever it is has made no attempt to conceal its trail. Several somethings in fact, if Jim's reading the trail properly.
Fuck, fuck fuck fuck.
He reaches the edge of the forest to the sound of fighting. He pauses just out of sight, listening, every muscle tense. There is a strange noise, like something is growling, and then a sound like someone has torn something thick and wet, and the meaty, wet snap of what can only be bone.
Then there's just the screaming.
Jim jerks, startled, heart beating wildly. He edges forward, careful not to make a noise or move too quickly, and peaks through the undergrowth.
Spock, wearing what can only be Prado's uniform, covered in gore and the faintly luminous yellow blood of the natives.
Spock, lips pulled back in a bestial snarl, tearing through the horde of natives with hardly any trouble. Spock, ripping them apart with his bare hands. As Jim watches, Spock tears open their stomachs, crushes their skulls, rips off an arm, a leg. He never blinks. He never stops, or makes a sound, or seems to hold any of his typical regard for life.
It's over in minutes.
Only then does Jim realize the strange growl he'd heard is Spock. His breath catches in his throat.
Spock's head rears up like a greyhound's, swinging around, eyes wild and feral, fixed on his exact position. Jim freezes. It takes one look at him to realize Spock's not really there, anymore.
There is a long moment of silence in which they're at an impasse. Then, knowing Spock could move and Jim would have no hope of reacting anyway, he moves slowly to his feet, hands up to show he has no weapons. Spock cocks his head to the side, like a raptor, curious and wary-eyed. Taking a deep breath, Jim steps slowly out of the brush, swallowing heavily.
Spock slinks towards him, slow and predatory, eyes heavy-lidded and burning in the darkness. Jim closes his eyes, breath rocketing in his chest, and tries not to tremble.
The Vulcan presses right up against him, pushes his face into Jim's throat and inhales deeply. Breathing fast, Jim makes a low, helpless noise. Spock's hands settle at his waist, and he forces himself not to flinch as he feels the ichorous blood seep through the cloth and into his skin. After a moment Spock moves back slightly, and then there is a dry, raspy tongue lapping at the wound on his forehead.
He starts, takes a shuddering breath, and very deliberately does not move despite his confusion. He asks, quiet, "Spock?"
Spock starts making a deep, nearly subsonic noise, almost like a purr, hands moving up and down Jim's sides in what he slowly realizes is an attempt at comfort. He finds himself relaxing gradually, tongue flickering across his lips. Before Jim realizes what he's doing he's leaned entirely into the contact, Vulcan warmth searing him through their clothes, at once both familiar and entirely new. He's felt this heat on numerous occasions -- missions gone awry, or peering over Spock's shoulder on the bridge -- but he's never been quite this close, before. He swallows, throat clicking.
They remain like this for an indeterminable space of time, and then Spock backs off, looking like nothing so much as a satisfied panther. There is still a predatory gleam in his eyes, but he seems less wary as he glances around. Then he cocks his head at Jim, studies him for a moment, and turns, loping away, toward the east.
Bewildered, Jim can do little else but follow.
They walk almost until daybreak, Jim breathless and struggling to keep up. Spock glances over his shoulder at precise intervals to make sure Jim is still with him, but does not slow his pace. As the enormous moon sinks slowly beneath the horizon Spock veers sharply to the right, and Jim, startled, follows him along a natural path through the arm of the forest they've been following. After almost an hour an enormous shelf of rock looms abruptly before them, towering so high above them Jim cannot see the top. Behind them, the sky is turning pink.
Spock stops, head swinging back and forth as though hunting for something, then drops to all fours and creeps through the underbrush, stopping at a deep shadow in the cliff face. He glances back at Jim, seems to ponder for a moment, and then disappears into what must be a cave. Jim stands and waits, rubbing at the back of his neck. A shrill squeal from the cave makes him jump, and there is the sound of a brief scuffle and a minute later Spock emerges triumphantly from the shadows.
Jim takes a deep breath, pauses long enough to pull and light a plasma lamp from one of the packs slung across his shoulders, and follows Spock into the darkness. The tunnel is deeper than Jim expected, and after a full five minutes of walking the walls open sharply into a large cavern. Water drips cool down the walls. There is a nest of leaves and grasses on the far side, and Jim very carefully does not think about what Spock might have done with the body of whatever creature had lived in here.
He's exhausted. He's been walking for hours. Jim shuffles over to the nest, lowers the packs to the ground, and collapses onto his back in the mess of leaves and grasses. He has enough presence of mind to extinguish the plasma lamp before he falls asleep.
As he slips under, his last thought is to hope that he isn't allergic to anything.
He sleeps soundly, waking at one point to find himself on his side with Spock curled around him, the sound of his breathing accompanied by that strange almost-purr, and sleeps again.
He wakes hours later with heat curling through his bones, still tucked into the curve of Spock's chest. He shifts slightly, trying to work out how to escape Spock's grasp without waking him. Behind him, Spock rouses enough to make a low, warning rumble in his throat. Jim falls still, blood pulsing in his ears. He forces himself to relax, hears a contented sound in his ear. Hot air brushes against the back of his neck; Spock's breath. He shivers, and falls into sleep.
When he wakes again there is something different about the air, and he knows without knowing how that night has fallen again. Spock is prowling the cave, and Jim can smell blood, rich and metallic. He sits up in alarm, and Spock glances briefly at him, then at the animal carcass on the floor.
It takes a moment for the concept to sink in.
Spock went hunting. Spock, the strictest vegetarian and pacifist Jim's ever met, hunted food for him.
Okay, then. He can-- He can work with this. He moves to his feet, crosses the cave to where the carcass is still leaking blood into the floor. His gorge rises before he can help it, and he has to turn away for a moment to keep from gagging.
Fire, he needs fire. To cook. Which means he needs firewood, and he's not too pleased with the idea of using pieces of the nest bedding; he has a feeling they'll be here for a while. With that in mind, he moves towards the entrance of the cave.
Spock is by his side before he's taken his second step, a low noise of warning vibrating in his chest. Jim meets his eyes, ignores his shaking hands, and takes another step. The Vulcan is clearly unhappy, but he follows Jim all the way outside. As Jim scowers the nearby forest floor for fallen branches and twigs, Spock hovers close by and glowers. Jim glances at him a couple of times, and chills run down his spine at the way Spock's eyes glow in the darkness, the way he never strays further than a meter or two away. Watching over him, he thinks. Protecting him.
Once he's collected enough firewood to last a few days he heads back to the cave, Spock stealing from shadow to shadow in his wake. The way he moves raises the hairs on the back of Jim's neck, as graceful as he's always been but with a far deadlier edge. Jim's just thankful Spock doesn't see him as an enemy. He'd have been dead the second Spock first sighted him.
He spends about ten minutes nosing around the cave, finds a smaller cavern further in, and discovers what appears to be a fissure in the rock that leads all the way to the surface. He transfers the firewood he'd found into the far cavern, piles up a small amount of it, and sets it alight with a fire starter he'd found in one of the packs. As he'd hoped, the smoke flows out through the crack, and Jim heaves a sigh of relief.
Finished with that, he drags the carcass over to the fire, pulls a knife out of his boot, and sets out to skin and cut it up. More than once he has to return to the main room and gulp the cool air, breathing slowly in and out to ease nausea. This is nothing like living on a farm.
Halfway through cooking his meal -- he makes a note to scavenge some plant life for food, he'll need more than meat if he doesn't want to get sick -- Spock appears in the entrance, head tilted to the side. Jim jumps and stares, wide-eyed, for a long moment. Then he pointedly returns his attention to the fire, where he's rested a good-sized block of flank on a stick across his knee.
"You don't understand what I'm saying, do you?" he asks.
Spock blinks, head tilting further, like a curious puppy. He slinks into the cavern, settling on the far side of the fire, and watches. For hours, as Jim sits basking in the warmth of the fire, Spock watches him, the flames dancing in his eyes. Jim tries to ignore how it makes him quake inside.
It doesn't really work.
Time passes, and very little changes. Jim spends his nights scrounging up weeks worth of food; tubers, mushrooms, berries, fruit, a strange vegetable that looks like a radish but tastes vaguely salty. Spock is never more than hearing distance away, and whenever Jim returns from his hunts Spock appears beside him, small carcasses slung over his bare shoulders. Jim's never figured out why, but somewhere around the third day Spock lost the uniform shirt, skulking about in nothing more than a pair of low-slung trousers and boots. It absolutely does not make something hot flip over in Jim's belly.
The days are spent asleep on the nest, which grows more comfortable with each passing day. He sleeps in the shelter of Spock's body, hot breath against the back of his neck and a hot arm slung over his waist. Jim will often wake in the early evening, before the birds fall silent with sleep, and he'll lay for what feels like hours, dozing lightly in the sweltering air, Spock breathing huge and heavy behind him. He can't remember the last time he was this content.
On the second day he finds a nearby stream, and every day he washes, gritting his teeth against the icy shock of spring water. He strips naked every couple of days and washes the clothes in the stream. As the clothes dry on the cave floor he lounges in the nude, drowsing in the warm wash of the fire.
Spock watches him always, eyes burning, dark and possessive.
Every day, shortly after he's finished eating, Jim pulls out the communicators from every pack and tries to hail the Enterprise. He tries every frequency, takes them apart and puts them back together, and tries again. So far he's received nothing but static.
Bones has to be frantic, by now.
Spock takes to settling flush against his side as they eat, often going so far as to eat from Jim's food or attempt to feed Jim his own. It leaves Jim feeling a little lost, a little confused. Something strange is making itself known within him, an unfamiliar hunger slowly working its way to the forefront. Jim does his best to ignore it, smiling at Spock when he does something incongruously thoughtful. Spock will touch his mouth, fingers tracing the crease of his lips, casually possessive. His eyes sear Jim to the bone.
He wakes sometime during the day with Spock burning against him, snuffling at the back of his neck. His dick is hard against the small of Jim's back. Jim shivers all over and lets out a low, shocked moan. Behind him, Spock makes a hungry noise that Jim can feel vibrating in his bones. His heart thuds against his ribs. Something in him shifts, rearranges itself. He realizes, quite suddenly, that he is hard.
Spock rumbles against his skin and rolls him onto his belly, settling heavy atop him and pressing Jim into the mound of leaves and grass. He pushes his dick urgently into Jim's backside, and Jim makes a broken noise, dazed by a rush of lust like nothing he's experienced before. He lies and shivers as Spock strips them both of their clothing, and then Spock sinks into him, cock made so slick by some natural lubricant that there is no pain.
Jim gasps for air, split open to the core, an ache heavy at the base of his spine.
There is a hot gush of air against his shoulder blades, and then Spock takes the back of his neck in his teeth and fucks him. Jim goes crazy with it, clawing desperately at the cave floor, wailing with each thrust. Spock fucks him for a small eternity, until Jim's voice is ragged and destroyed. His breath comes in shredded pants, catching high in a whine.
He comes in a white roar, and lays limp beneath Spock until he finishes too.
They sleep until nightfall.
Jim wakes as the birds fall silent. Beside him, Spock is still asleep, eyes twitching beneath the lids. His eyelashes are thick and dark against his cheekbones, and there is the faintest green flush to his skin, delicate like the flesh of a melon. Jim's breath hitches. Heat washes over his skin. He'd always noticed, academically, that Spock was attractive. This is different. He knows what Spock's dick feels like, knows how the blanket of dark fur on his chest feels when it scrapes against Jim's back.
Things will never be the same. He has already been irrevocably transformed.
For now, Jim will let it rest. He rearranges them, Spock on his back, slides down so that he can rest his head on the Vulcan's chest. It rises and falls beneath his cheek with every breath. Spock's arm, wiry with muscle, is a brand against his skin when Jim slings it over his back, and superheated fingers curl unconsciously around the jut of his hip.
He lays awake for a long while, fingers tangled in the dark curls at Spock's belly, and waits for him to wake.
With each day that passes they venture a little further from the cave. He sits one day on a rock overlooking an enormous canyon, a river roaring miles below him. Behind him, Spock crouches low in the bushes, moonlight dappling nebulous traceries across the sharp angles of his face. As Jim turns to watch, Spock falls unnaturally still, nostrils flaring, and pounces. There is a piercing screech, a frantic rustle of leaves, and then a thick crunch, and Spock rises to his feet, unfurling like a fern, winding his way through the underbrush. Something vaguely resembling a rabbit hangs limp in his hand.
They cook it over a small fire in the shadow of the rock, eating with their fingers. Jim can't really remember, now, why the sight of Spock eating meat seems so odd.
Spock is almost outlandishly beautiful in the red dark of night. His eyes blaze in the shadows, dark as the unsounded reaches of space. Jim burns for looking at him. Want thumps in his gut. Something about the look in Spock's eyes as he watches him makes him shiver, excitement rising in his throat. He can hear his pulse roaring like the ocean in his ears.
They finish dinner, and Spock reaches for him. Jim acquiesces eagerly, struggling out of his clothing, falling roughly to his hands and knees. Spock mounts him from behind, and heat flares across his skin. It wrenches a crumbling moan from his chest. His body opens greedily before the onslaught, and then there is just sensation and the frantic need to move.
He falls from ecstatic heights and back into his body, feeling a thrill in his gut as Spock ruts against him, breath rough in his ears.
Spock collapses atop him, and they fall asleep like that, waking only when the sun rises to return to the cave. They fall into the nest, fuck again, fierce and wild, and sleep.
Some few days later (Jim cannot recall how many, has in fact forgotten to count), they travel further than they ever have, far enough that the sky will be light upon their return.
The creatures find them as they rest in an open clearing, roasting a not-rabbit over the fire. Spock's head snaps around, eyes intent, nostrils flaring. He growls a warning, deep and low. Jim freezes. The hairs rise on his arms.
There are eyes in the forest, eggshell white and globular, about a half dozen pairs of them.
Spock moves to his feet, and there is a brief hesitation, as though the world itself has paused. There is nowhere to hide.
The creatures step into the firelight, huge, covered in dark fur, spider-like eyes glittering. There are seven of them in all, and though they pause as Spock's threatening growl raises a decibel it doesn't seem to cow them. Spock glances quickly at Jim, and the message in his eyes is clear: Don't move.
Then Spock throws himself forwards, so fast he seems almost to disappear. There is a bloodcurdling squeal, and intestines spill from a wide hole in one of the creatures' stomachs. It falls, a cloud of leaves and dust mushrooming from where it lands.
There is a brief pause.
As the creatures mill around uncertainly, Spock darts forward again, crushing a skull in his hand, the body dropping like a sack of grain, cracks another's arm off like a crab leg. Bone spears from the still bleeding flesh, and Spock whirls and shoves it through a fourth creature's face. He rips through them in about a minute, and while the last one, the one whose arm he tore off, thrashes screaming on the forest floor, Spock punches through its chest and jerks out its heart. The screams die on a gurgle.
Spock holds the still beating heart in his hand, chest heaving like a bellows, rage turning his eyes to coals. He brings the heart up to his mouth, and Jim stumbles forward, falls to his knees at Spock's feet.
"No," he whispers, and starts at the sound of his own voice. "No, Spock. Don't."
Spock's other hand whips around, grabbing a fistful of his hair, pulls until Jim's eyes fill with tears. His face is twisted in an inhuman snarl, eyes wild.
"Don't," he says, voice cracking. "Please, Spock. Don't do that."
For a long moment Spock's eyes glitter, eddies of rage searing across the skin of Jim's scalp. Then something clicks in his expression, and the grip on Jim's hair loosens, turns to light petting. He makes a noise, almost inquisitive, distress flickering from his fingertips to Jim's skin, and he feels the tension leave him in a rush, lets his head fall to rest against Spock's stomach. "Thank you," he whispers, and closes his eyes.
It's light out when they return to the cave, and Jim is exhausted. He lets himself fall face first into the nest, and is instantly asleep.
He wakes and it is bright, painfully so, florescent white lights agony on eyes that have adjusted to the dark. He cries out, flinches, and there is a voice that he knows but does not recognize. It says things to him, things he doesn't understand, and then something cold pinches the side of his neck and everything is black again.
The next time he wakes the lights have dimmed, and he is aware again, as he has not been in weeks.
Struggling into an upright position takes more energy than it rightfully should, and he gasps for breath as he looks around. Bones comes through the door as if summoned, looking irritable.
"Welcome to the world of the living," he says, scowling. "Finally. What the hell did you eat, down there?"
Jim shrugs wanly. "Meat? I don't know," he says. "Some plants, whatever I could find." He shrugs again, glances down at his hands, white-knuckled in the sheets. "How long was I down there?"
"You're damned lucky you didn't have an allergic reaction," Bones grunts, glowering at whatever readouts are on the screen of his tricorder. "You were down there for four weeks."
Jim boggles. "Four weeks? What--" He stops to swallow, tongue thick and uncooperative after so long without speaking. "What took so long?"
Shaking his head, Bones says, "Hell if I know, I'm a doctor, not an engineer." He taps some commands into the machine at Jim's side, hrms thoughtfully, and shrugs. "Something about the native minerals, I think," he says. "Interfered with our readings. Couldn't get a signal."
He licks his lips, heart beating wildly in his chest. Bones actually takes a moment to glance uneasily at his blood pressure readings. Jim says, "Where," has to clear his throat, "Where's Spock?"
"In containment," Bones says, and Jim's heart lurches. "He was too violent, we actually had to tranq him and throw him in." He smirks, looking far too amused. "He's been sick on and off for the past day and a half."
Jim takes a deep breath. "That's probably because he spent four weeks eating meat," he says, trying not to sound too offended on the Vulcan's behalf.
Bones quirks an exaggerated eyebrow at him. "The hobgoblin? What the hell made him do that?"
"He wasn't really-- himself."
"Hm," says Bones, skimming through some readings on the tricorder. "That could be explained by the elevated hormone levels." Then, casually, "Got some unusual readings off of you, Jimbo. Somethin' you want to tell me?"
Embarrassment is a hot flush to his cheeks, and he hunches over on the bed. "He didn't do anything I didn't want," he finally mutters. "Can-- Can I see him?"
"Oh, hell no." Bones is scowling again, voice rising. "Jim, his readings are off the chart. Far as I can tell some chemical compound in the atmosphere interfered with his hormone receptors and his wires got crossed, but he's been volatile since he woke up and there is no way in hell I am letting you into that room with him, pouting be damned."
Jim slumps back into the pillow, rubbing the back of his neck. "Bones," he says, soft. "He was-- He was fucking scary down there, I'll be the first to admit that. Ripped things' arms off like it was nothing."
"Oh, right," Bones says, "obviously that's going to convince me--"
"But," he says, loudly to be heard over McCoy's objections. "He never hurt me. Not once."
That shuts him up. He heaves a sigh, sits on the edge of Jim's bed. Frowns. "Dammit, kid," he says, "why're you always pulling this kind of shit with me?"
"I don't like this," Bones says. Jim rolls his eyes. "I don't like this at all."
"Bones," he says, "you don't like anything except complaining. This is not a surprise."
The doctor scowls at him. "You're just trying to distract yourself," he mutters, which, yeah. Bones has always been a little too observant for most people's comfort.
Jim takes a deep breath and nods reluctantly. "I'm a little nervous," he admits, but shakes his head as Bones starts to speak, to give him a way out. "No," he says, "I have to do this. We need Spock back, and I'm the only one who can get close to him."
"I really don't like this," Bones grumbles, but exhales sharply and nods, punching the access code into the panel.
Neither does Jim, but he says nothing.
The door slides open with a hiss, and Jim steps inside, taking a moment to look around. The room's small and entirely bare; they removed everything when they tranq'ed him, afraid Spock would hurt himself or someone else. He is curled up in the far corner, asleep, looking a little pale, a little sickly.
Jim swallows and says, softly, "Spock."
Spock comes instantly awake, and between one second and the next has crossed the room and pushed himself into Jim's space, snuffling at his throat. Jim shivers, relaxes deliberately, and reaches up to bury his fingers in the fine hairs at Spock's nape, stroking gently. "Shhh," he murmurs, eyes turning heavy-lidded. "It's okay, I'm fine."
There it is, the purring. It rumbles through him, electric in his bones, and Jim feels himself just melt, makes a low noise in return. Spock pulls him over to the corner and eases them down to the floor, and for a long while Jim is content to sit astride his thighs, allows Spock to rearrange him as he will. The scent of him, thick, musky, wreathes through his senses, washing away the awareness that's returned. For a long time he drifts, the rhythm of his breath in tandem with Spock's.
Eventually he rouses himself, shivers at the feel of Spock's waist between his thighs. God, he wishes they'd fucked like this. He knows it won't happen, now.
Spock makes a questioning noise as he shifts away, slightly, settling back on his heels. Jim soothes him with a few more little shushes, stretches and pets the back of his neck. He settles, rumbling softly, and Jim smiles. Something fizzes warm in his belly when Spock raises a hand to trace the shape of it. "I'd almost forgotten you did that," Jim says, idly.
He reaches back and pulls the hypo out of his pocket. Another sedative, Bones had said, mixed with a drug that will negate the chemical that's interfering with Spock's hormone receptors. He pulls Spock's thumb into his mouth, leaning forward to nuzzle at his temple, listens breathlessly to the low groan. God, he wants. But no. Once he's sure Spock's distracted, he presses the hypo to the back of his neck and releases the trigger.
Spock rears back, makes a noise something like a squeal. There is a brief flash of panic in the dark eyes, something scared and a little betrayed, and he falls limp. Jim swallows heavily around the tightness in his throat, presses a ragged kiss to his temple. "I'm sorry," he whispers.
There's a strange look on McCoy's face as he lets Jim out of the containment room. "Are you--"
"I'm fine," Jim mutters, ducking his head, and he crosses the sickbay to his private room, one of the few privileges he gets. He curls up on his side facing the far wall.
"Jim--" Bones sounds worried.
He curls tighter under the covers, pulling them up to his ears. He says, "I'm going to sleep, Bones."
He can't, not really. It's too cold, now, no superheated body behind him. The mattress is strange, smells all wrong. No leaves crinkle beneath him when he shifts, and there is no heavy breathing on the back of his neck.
Bones visits him in his quarters, the day Spock is released from sickbay. "He's made a full recovery," he says, leaning against a bulkhead.
Jim feels relief expand in his chest, and he lets out a long breath, nodding. "Good," he says.
And it is good, even if things never return to the way they were down on the planet. He needs Spock, the ship needs Spock. The Enterprise would never make it if Spock remained as feral as he'd been. Even if want is a desperate ache in Jim's gut. It'll pass.
Bones is watching him. "You want to talk about it?" he asks, and doesn't even seem like he's kidding.
"No," Jim says, snorting. "There's nothing to talk about."
"Uh-huh," says Bones, dubious. "Of course not. I'll just leave you to your paperwork."
The door hisses shut behind him.
Right. Paperwork. Jim looks at the enormous stack of paper sitting on the corner of his desk. He's already gone through at least two hundred pages of paperwork, and still there is a pile on his desk up to his eyes. Payment for disappearing for a month on a primative planet.
"I don't see why I should be punished for that," he grumbles, and gets down to work.
The comm pings an hour or two later. Not looking up from the paperwork, he says, "Come in."
"Captain," Spock says.
Jim jerks and slams his knee into the desk and yelps. He stares for a long moment at Spock in front of the door, wide-eyed, taking in the crisp uniform and the raised eyebrow. "Jesus, Spock," he says, pulse raising. He slumps back into his chair, shaking his head. "I haven't heard your voice--" He stops, licks his lips. It belatedly occurs to him Spock probably would not like to be reminded of his tremendous loss of control. "It's been a while."
"Thirty-seven point five three days," Spock says precisely, head cocked slightly. Jim sees it overlain with an image of him naked, wild-eyed and bestial, and shivers.
"Well." Jim clears his throat, turns and starts fidgeting with his paperwork. "Is there something I can do for you?"
"Yes," Spock says, and moves a little closer. Jim watches him warily from the corner of his eye, every muscle in his body tense almost to snapping. "It seemed prudent to discuss what occurred on planet XG3-5."
Jim very carefully does not flinch. "Of course," he says, and fakes a truly pathetic smile. When he looks up Spock is right next to the desk, less than an arm's length away from him. He could reach out and touch him, curl a hand around his hip. He doesn't. "What would you like to discuss?"
"I was given to understand," says Spock, "that we spent the majority of the four weeks on XG3-5 together."
"That would be correct." Jim swallows, caught in the intensity of Spock's stare. He should really be used to this, now, he thinks, slightly dazed, but it's entirely different. Spock is different.
For a long moment Spock watches him. "Perhaps I have mislead you," he finally says. Then, voice measured, as though he is attempting not to scare him, "I retain all memory of what occurred."
The air leaves Jim's lungs in a rush. "What?"
Spock doesn't repeat himself, but he doesn't really need to.
Jim swallows, takes a deep breath, closes his eyes. He feels as though he's been rudely awoken in the middle of a dream. "So, what now?" he makes himself ask. His voice is rough, like he's swallowed gravel.
When he opens his eyes again Spock has moved into his personal space, eyes dark and intent. Spock strokes the back of a hand across Jim's cheek, and Jim moans, choked, as the heat sinks into his bones, sets his whole body alight. Spock says, "I would not be opposed to further pursuing our relations."
"Oh, god," Jim says, utterly shattered. "Please."
They are not elegant in their haste to get to the bed. Jim almost trips over himself, pants caught around his ankles where he'd forgotten to take his boots off first. Spock, normally so orderly, tosses his clothing this way and that, and when they reach the bed he takes Jim by the arms and tumbles them to the mattress.
They roll around like dogs for a moment before Jim settles eagerly on his back, moaning wildly at the feel of Spock above him, the trim hips that settle in the vee of his thighs. He arches to feel the scrape of dense chest hair against his nipples, his belly. Spock tangles his fingers in the hair at the back of his skull and jerks his head back, baring his throat; he whimpers, pushing his belly out in submission, cries out weakly at the sharp nip to the base of his throat.
"I wish to have you like this," Spock says, voice shaking, breath hot and wet against Jim's ear.
"Oh god," he says, hands skimming over Spock's shoulders, the line of his spine, muscles shifting delightfully beneath his fingers. "Yes, please, anything--"
Spock shifts backwards a little, rearranging their hips, and then he thrusts and his dick splits Jim open and he can only sob, clawing at Spock's shoulders as he is spread wide, fire igniting in his blood, and then Spock just goes for it. They slam together, hips colliding, and Jim knows he will be bruised in the morning and does not care. Fragments of thought and emotion skitter across his skin. Lust, ecstasy, excitement. Something unnervingly like love. He whines, hooks a knee around Spock's waist. Something dark and primal flashes in Spock's eyes, and he jerks the hand in Jim's hair, sinking his teeth into his shoulder, growls.
Jim makes a noise he's never heard before, high and thin and frail, a submission all the way down to his core. All at once he is back on the planet, near mindless with weeks unending, Spock such a huge possessive presence that Jim surrenders himself to it, lost in Spock's grasp. Here, now, Spock suckles at the mark he's made like something enormous, a predator. Jim bleats like a small animal in his excitement, and all the while Spock fucks him, bestial and savage. The low thrum of Spock's growl vibrates through every fiber of his being.
Together they spiral high, high into orbit, minds bleeding over into each other, transcendent, and as Spock takes possession of all that Jim is, climax tears a sob from the core of him. He shakes in orgasm, eyes wide and unseeing, and Spock follows directly on his heels, smothering a strange noise in his throat.
He wakes, cocooned in warmth, Spock's breath steaming against his cheek. He doesn't recall falling asleep.
Behind him, Spock shifts, rolling onto his back and taking Jim with him. Still drowsy, Jim turns onto his belly and curls up on his chest, the familiar feeling of the coarse hair carpeting Spock's abdomen lulling him into a kind of half-sleep. Vaguely, he is aware of a hand settling on the crown of his skull, fingers stroking unhurried shapes into his scalp.
He lets his mind wander, thinking half of the way Spock feels against him, skin to skin, and half of ship things, missions, paperwork. Outside, he thinks, they will function as they always have, if not wholly professional then at least the best pair of commanding officers in the 'Fleet, totally in sync. Within these rooms, though...
He knew, long ago, in the beginning of all this, that things would be different. He is different, changed in some intangible way, somehow felt but never fully recognized.
Whatever their lives together would have been like, before, there is no way of knowing.
"Jim," Spock says. His voice is soft, rolls like water across Jim's skin.
When Jim says, "I'm glad you're okay," what he really means is, I can't live without you.
And he can't. Not anymore.
Spock is quiet for a long while, fingers soft in Jim's hair, flashes of contentment dazzling immaterial across his skin. Finally, in what could be an answer to both, he says, "And I, you."