An exuberant knock rattled the door to Spock’s quarters. Spock took his time in shutting off his PADD and stood to straighten his uniform.
The door whizzed open; in the entryway stood a tall man in science blues, his lips curled in a smirk. He swaggered into the room as if he knew Spock – which, to be clear, he did not.
“Commander,” he said with a slight nod. “Bones sent me to detain you for a physical. Apparently you’ve been dodging the draft.”
Spock could only deduce that ‘Bones’ was Dr. McCoy. He had difficulty, however, recognizing the bright blue eyes before him. That in itself was unusual, as this crewman had quite... extraordinary features. Spock blandly inspected the medical officer and betrayed none of his initial curiosity. This was not difficult as his trepidation at being corralled for a physical was most prominent in his mind.
“I will report to sickbay when I have the spare time, Ensig –“
“Nurse,” he corrected firmly. “Nurse Kirk. You can call me Jim, though. Everyone else does.”
“Nurse Kirk,” Spock amended with a narrowed look. He did not appreciate being interrupted. “My physical should be considered low priority. As First Officer of this vessel, I have duties that are of far more import than an unnecessary trip to sickbay.”
Kirk’s gaze never wavered from his face. “Nothing is more important than your health, Commander.”
Spock folded his arms across his chest. “I am in perfect health.”
Kirk rolled his eyes. “Mantra of the Vulcans, if you ask me. You know, wishing it so doesn’t actually make it so.”
“I did not insinuate anything of the sort.”
The nurse mirrored Spock’s stance and took several deliberate steps closer. Spock recognised this as an intimidation tactic and refused to be moved. Kirk searched Spock’s face in silence for three-point-seven seconds, before a slow smile illuminated his features.
“Mr. Spock,” Kirk drawled in a deceptively warm tone. “Are you aware that ear infections are the number one health concern in modern day Vulcans? That – despite your exceptional ability for physical self-awareness – it's virtually impossible to detect the early onset of otitis media until it becomes extremely uncomfortable? Were you also aware that should such a trivial infection go undiagnosed, it could lead to mastoiditis? And that, Commander, can lead to deafness, blood poisoning, meningitis – and in extreme cases – brain damage. Now, either submit to a twenty minute physical, or potentially risk deafness and a subsequent drop in your work proficiency.”
Kirk looked up and flashed a flawlessly white smile, which Spock assumed some people would consider charming. Of course, Spock was beyond such labels. And he was far too perturbed with the situation to take notice of the wrinkles splaying from the corners of the nurse’s eyes.
Nurse Kirk cocked his head to the side at Spock’s prevailing silence. “Come with me, Commander.”
Spock could only fully comprehend that he had complied when he found himself inside a private examination room. He sat on the bed in his undergarments and mutely watched Nurse Kirk snap on a pair of latex gloves. His hands looked particularly large in them; Kirk’s fingertips strained against the material until it was nearly clear.
Kirk noticed him watching and grinned. “This’ll dull any transference between us. You might receive some residual emotion from me, but I promise to only think happy, kinky thoughts, okay?”
“I would prefer your thoughts remain on the task at hand,” Spock replied tightly.
“Well, you’re my task at hand, Mr. Spock.” Kirk practically purred his name, and Spock noted with displeasure that his flesh prickled in response. ”Hence the happy, kinky thoughts - Oh!” he exclaimed, hovering a hand down Spock’s arm, without making physical contact. “You must be freezing with your nearly-naked self sitting here. Hold on.”
Kirk buzzed around the room and grabbed a tall, floor-length lamp from the corner. He brought it over and flicked a switch. Immediately, Spock was bathed in warming light. No Human doctor or nurse had ever thought to utilise a heating lamp during Spock’s physicals. The medical facility was often set at a lower temperature from the rest of the ship and consequently warded off Spock’s Vulcan physiology. Of course Spock could adjust his internal body temperature, but Kirk’s gesture in itself was logical.
“You appear to –” Spock nearly stuttered when Nurse Kirk proceeded into the examination without another word. Spock allowed his right eyelid to be pulled up as he stared directly into a light. “Be well-versed in Vulcan –“
“Look down. I am.”
“Where did you gain –“
“Look to the right, please.”
“Vesht Ah’rak. To the left.”
Spock restrained a shiver. Past Vulcan.
“Did you receive medical training there?”
“Not really. Close your inner eyelid for me.”
“How is it you are aware of my –“
“Would you please close it, Mr. Spock? Thanks.”
Merely ‘not really’ in reply? Spock frowned faintly and remained silent and meditative as Nurse Kirk inspected his other eye, as well as his throat and ears. It was highly unusual to come across a Human with an extensive knowledge of Vulcan biology. Fascinating.
“Well, you’re all clear there,” Kirk announced as he turned away to grab a particularly complex medical tricorder. “You’ve got fantastic eyes, though. Inner eyelid aside, they’re completely Human. You’ve got tear ducts and everything. Awesome genetic anomaly you’ve got goin’.”
Spock’s face stiffened. “I am aware of my deficient anatomy, Nurse Kirk.”
Kirk returned to his place in front of Spock, standing between his knees. His brow furrowed slightly and his smile was slow and slightly befuddled. “Spock, you have beautiful eyes. I understand that a good majority of Vulcans are closet ethnocentrics, but fuck ‘em if they can’t accept a unique and special being like yourself.”
He sounded like Spock’s mother, despite the additional vulgarity. Spock parted his lips to speak, but resolved that he could not formulate a proper reply to such a speech. Nurse Kirk did not appear to take offense, as he began to run the tricorder along his body, stopping every three to five seconds to check a reading.
“Okay, cool. Could you lay down for me, Mr. Spock?”
Spock complied, his thoughts still attempting to piece together the growing puzzle of Jim Kirk. Unfortunately, Spock found himself rather disconcerted by the physical contact of the moment. Fingertips hindered by thin, cool latex pressed firmly here and brushed there, and counted each individual rib with a drag of thumb.
Rather than unravelling the curiosity of this nurse who reverently spoke of Vulcan in the decimated planet’s native tongue, Spock found himself cataloguing other intriguing factors. Namely, the scar on Kirk’s chin – his thick, pale lashes and the freckle beside his nose.
He had not realised he had said, “You do not exude emotion through touch like an average Human,” until Kirk paused, hand on Spock’s heart, and rose both eyebrows in a lofty look.
“I’m not average,” he replied with simple aplomb. He gently prodded a spot beneath Spock’s heart. “This uncomfortable?”
“Negative,” Spock murmured, although his heart had done a curious flip in his side.
“Well,” Kirk said with an easy smile and a brusque tone. “You’re done. You can get dressed.” He patted Spock’s thigh once and then shifted to pick up a PADD. Intent on making notes in what Spock assumed was his medical records, Kirk chatted while Spock dressed.
“Taking into account the inevitable curiosities of your genetic construction, you’re basically in the peak of health. Blood pressure’s on the low spectrum for a Vulcan, but that’s to be expected. I expect you’ve noticed before that your healing rate is below average for a Vulcan as well,” Kirk added, looking up as Spock slipped on his tunic. Spock banked the inevitable self-deprecation he experienced upon hearing he was different and did not reply.
That languid, knowing smile crossed Kirk’s expression once more. He continued on with his previous commentary. “Which is fine. You’re still super-humanly bad-ass. I’m just saying, don’t run into needlessly dangerous situations or else you and me will become fast friends.”
“I cannot promise you that.”
Kirk chuckled and made another note on his PADD. “Didn’t expect you to.”
Spock squared his shoulders, looked Nurse Kirk in the eye and nodded. “Goodbye, Nurse Kirk.”
Once more, those crinkles in the corners of his eyes appeared. “Bye, Commander.”
A calming vision of tranquil blue irises and dishevelled sandy hair wavered and blurred in Spock’s line of vision.
“Hi,” a warm, familiar voice said quietly. “Not exactly the way I’d hoped to see you again.”
Pain tore at his side and Spock’s eyes rolled up in his head. Faintly, he heard Dr. McCoy barking orders at his attendants. Then there was silence.
The next memory that enveloped him was that of blissful weightlessness – then seeping discomfort – and finally, the harsh fluorescent glare of artificial light pressing against his gritty eyelids. Each stage of consciousness dragged on for an indeterminable span of time, and when he awoke, well – he was surprised to find he awoke at all. Spock eyes fluttered open and for a moment the world was portrayed through a disorienting fisheye lens.
Spock squinted and focused on the voice.
“Idiot. You’re lucky I was here, y’know. Bones was totally clueless about your fuckin’ healing trance. Everyone thought you were flat-lining. I was gonna slap you awake then and there, just to prove a point.”
Spock wet his lips with the tip of his tongue. “It –” His voice was hoarse from disuse. His internal chronometer told him he had been in meditation for two days, three hours, and seventeen minutes. “It was a light trance. Implementing physical force to rouse me would have been unnecessary.”
“Don’t you think I know that?” Kirk snapped. “Duhsu.”
Spock wondered if it was the pain medication in his system that caused his lips to twitch. “I am not a fool.”
“Only fools step in front of Klingon fire.” There’s a sigh and a shifting beside him. “I’ve got shit to do, now. Glad you’re feeling better, Commander.”
Then it was quiet. And for the first time in his life Spock realised he was not fond of the silence.
Spock had definitively concluded that there were too many fair-haired men on the Enterprise. On nine occasions in the past month he had experienced that same arrhythmic heart palpitation at the distant flash of dark blonde hair. When he came to realise it was not the person whom he had initially assumed, his mood was soured for the entirety of the day.
Naturally, he would not purposely injure himself for the sake of visiting sickbay. Absolutely not. But he did not argue on the three occasions in which he was sent to the facility after a mission gone awry.
Never on any of these occasions did he see Jim Kirk. In the end he would be uncomfortably mended by a muttering McCoy, or overly-handled by Nurse Chapel’s insistent hands. This also left him with a wrathful disposition for the remainder of his day.
It was all highly illogical and increasingly detrimental to his mental discipline.
For example, it was sheer lunacy that Spock was currently indescribably pleased to have broken his arm. He serenely allowed Nurse Kirk to adjust his injured limb beneath the regenerator, where bare, capable hands shifted at his elbow, his wrist, his shoulder.
“Were you taught Vulcan at Starfleet Academy?” Spock asked. He only realised he had wished to know this fact until after he had spoken. “Your accent is not like that of Standard-speaking students.”
Spock caught Kirk’s amused glance and held the eye contact.
“Thanks. That’s quite a compliment coming from a Vulcan.”
Spock brows drew together. “You did not answer my query.”
Kirk hummed under his breath and nodded. With one final check on the regenerator, he wiped his hands on his hips and shrugged. “I lived on Vulcan for a while.”
Taken aback, Spock could only blink at the nurse. “What length of stay constitutes as ‘a while’?”
“Nine years from when I was ten? Give or take – maybe a little more.” Someone called for Kirk’s attention, and he threw a glance over his shoulder. When he looked back, his smile was slightly apologetic. “I gotta go. See ya around, Commander.”
Once again, Spock was abandoned. He stared at the retreating back of a man who continued to make less and less sense.
“Based on the time period in which you resided on Vulcan, it should have been possible that we crossed paths in the past.”
Kirk breathed a soft laugh through his nose. His face was so close to Spock’s temple that he could feel the cool gust of air against his skin. Kirk continued his delicate ministrations on repairing Spock’s ear. Phaser fire had nicked the tip and required a dermal regenerator the size of a stylus.
“I doubt that. You grew up in Shi’kahr, right? I was in Dahhanakahr. Close, but not close enough that we’d have had a chance to meet. Although I’m sure you wouldn’t have liked me if had you met me at the time.”
“Why? Despite your generally informal and occasionally crude demeanour, you are an adequate individual.”
Spock tucked away the ping of pleasure he experienced in his chest when Kirk chuckled.
“I was a dick of a kid – asshole of a teen. When my mom deemed my life on Earth unsuitable and dangerous, she decided to throw me into a totally foreign culture and continued to whisk herself across the galaxy. Apparently the logic behind it was that Vulcan was closer to her Starbase, and Vulcan learning institutions would be more challenging for me.”
Kirk’s thumb slid against his earlobe and Spock finally felt a brand of emotion imprint into his flesh. Amusement – bemusement – melancholy.
“Guess so,” he replied shortly. “I don’t regret my time there, at least.” Kirk quieted, and Spock could feel the intensity of his gaze upon his neck. “I was there, y’know. Evacuating kids and doctors from the children’s hospital I was volunteering at.”
“As was I,” Spock murmured. He recalled the last time he would ever reach out for his mother, with the knowledge of the inevitable in her dark eyes. The smell of her perfume lingering on the transporter pad; a ghost of a memory engraved on his heart.
A cool hand cupped the back of Spock’s neck – affection – and Kirk’s hushed voice in his ear – compassion. “S'ti th'laktra.”
I grieve with thee.
Spock shut his eyes, and thanked him. “Shaya tonat.”
They were silent for the remainder of time. The rhythmic thrum of connection from the steadying hand at Spock’s nape felt more intimate than any moment he could recall from his past. Then Kirk’s fingers were slipping from his skin, and gone.
Kirk smiled and Spock could only helplessly stare back.
“Vulcans don’t give thanks. Just stop injuring yourself.”
How else would I see you?
“I shall endeavour to do so.”
Kirk rolled his eyes. He patted Spock’s uniform-clad wrist. “Sure you will. Now get back to your post, Commander.”
His shin seared as if it had been shattered into pieces. And to some extent, it had. Spock stared down at the fibula that jut through the skin of his shin and bit back another wave of nausea.
Their captors had known that he, as a Vulcan, would not perish from a break such as this; but it would hinder him from attempting to rouse a plan of escape. Spock’s body went into a short convulsion as he watched the cell floor stain green.
“Spock – Spock! You need to look at me.”
“Jim?” Yes, Nurse Kirk. He had come on the mission; filling in Doctor McCoy’s spot while the CMO devised an antidote for the mysterious affliction that plagued his crewmembers.
Warm hands on his face – warm? Spock was cool. Possibly cold. He swallowed the thick lump of bile in his throat and followed that firm voice to its owner. “Jim.”
“Spock, listen to me very carefully.” Kirk’s eyes were steady and earnest. His fingertips dug lightly into Spock’s scalp. “They took my medical supplies. I’ve staunched the bleeding from the knee, but there’s nothing I can do for the pain.”
“Yes,” Spock gasped, knocking his head back against the well and looking to the dank ceiling. “Somehow I had an inkling of that.”
Kirk’s laugh was more of a hoarse cough. “Shut up, Mr. Spock.”
Soothing hands caressed his mind-meld points; a gentle pressure. “I’m going to ask you to do something, and you’re just gonna have to trust me.” Spock did not have the will to nod or shake his head and Nurse Kirk continued on without pause. “You need to let down your shields for me, Spock. You need to let me in.”
Spock lurched forward, his eyes snapping to Kirk’s.
“Stop that – don’t move. You need to do what I say. I’m just a Human, I can’t meld with you, or even look into you. But I can help – let me help.”
Much to Spock’s distant dismay, his breathing grew laboured and shallow. Pain seized his body, radiating from the marrow, to his hands and eyes and hair follicles. Kirk snapped his fingers before his face, and Spock’s blurring gaze darted around, following the movement.
“Let me in, Spock!”
Finger pads pressed and implored his temples and jawline.
Spock let go, and Kirk was there as if he always had been; enveloping him like a blanket.
His voice was quick-fire in Spock’s ear. “Remember enok-ka-fi, Spock. Enok-ka-fi. Pain is only in the mind. It’s neurons and brain waves and signals to a corporeal body that you have complete control over. Pain is conjecture. Don’t forget. Conquer it, Spock. Come on, ashal-veh.”
“Darling,” Spock murmured, before the pain abetted and he promptly lost consciousness.
When he regained his senses, it was with a familiar scent in the air. Sickbay. And a strange sound – snoring. Kirk was folded awkwardly in a chair, his legs hanging over the arm.
Spock warily shifted in the bio-bed. A sharp sting shot up his leg, but nothing unbearable. A jingle from one of the monitors announced his improving health, and Nurse Kirk’s eyes snapped open as if he had not been sleeping at all. His face was bruised with fatigue.
“Hey Commander,” he slurred, offering a slow smile. “How’re you feeling?”
“As if I have recently broken my fibula.”
Kirk dragged a hand through his hair and snorted. “You’re a lot funnier when you’re injured, you know that?”
“I do not see how that is possible.”
“Maybe you just let your guard down,” Kirk supplied; but his grin faltered. Plausibly, he was reliving the same moment Spock was.
“I would have endured considerably higher amounts of pain had it not been for your expertise.”
Kirk shrugged. “It’s my job.”
“Indeed. You perform the task adequately. However, you disregarded a risk in pursuing close contact with my mind during such a... chaotic moment. I could have psychically incapacitated you by accident.”
Another shrug as Kirk got to his feet, his joints cracking. “Necessary risks.”
Spock wished to inquire how long Nurse Kirk had remained at his bedside. Instead, he said nothing.
Kirk laid a hand atop the blanket, resting upon Spock’s uninjured knee. He squeezed lightly. “It’s good to have you back, Mr. Spock.”
His cheeks warmed. “I did not go anywhere.”
“Let’s keep it that way.”
One month, eight days, four hours and twelve minutes had elapsed since Spock had last encountered Nurse Kirk. He was unsure when he had begun defining the quality of his life by the length of time he spent in the man’s company. Nonetheless, it was an alarming discovery.
The past weeks had involved a series of peaceful, diplomatic missions that in no way required Spock to visit sickbay. And although no one would question his presence there (perhaps McCoy, but he could be ignored), Spock knew he would feel as if he were neglecting his duties as First Officer by pursuing a member of their staff for personal gain.
Spock had meditated extensively on the conundrum of his growing attachment to Jim Kirk. His sleep cycle had suffered for it. And perhaps when Captain Pike mentioned he looked a bit wan, Spock had suggested rather hastily that he see a doctor. Just to be prudent over his health, of course. Pike had appeared bewildered but had nodded his assent and waved him off.
Unfortunately, it was Dr. McCoy who took note of his presence.
“Why’re you lurkin’ around my sickbay, Spock?” the doctor demanded with narrowed eyes.
Spock paused and chose his words with care. “Captain Pike suggested I report for an examination. Please direct me to Nurse Kirk.”
“He’s not available.” McCoy’s eyes darted towards his office and back to Spock. “Nothin’ that I can’t help you with, I’m sure. What’s up?”
“I would prefer to speak with Nurse Kirk on the matter,” Spock enunciated slowly. His gaze locked on McCoy’s door as he spoke. “Although your expertise cannot be rivalled in Starfleet, Nurse Kirk’s knowledge of Vulcan ailments makes him the ideal primary consultant for my needs.”
“That’s a dandy speech you’ve prepared, but I just don’t give a shit,” Dr. McCoy groused. “Either tell me what’s eatin’ ya, or get outta my sickbay. You’re not seein’ Jim.”
Spock stamped down on the growing anxiety writhing in his stomach and managed to appear utterly bored of the conversation. “Is there a particular reason Nurse Kirk is not at his station?”
“Well, I reckon that ain’t any of your business,” he drawled. “Doctor-patient confidentiality and all.”
“As First Officer of this ship it is, as you say, my business.”
Spock clenched his jaw. “Doctor McCoy, you will either elaborate upon Nurse Kirk’s whereabouts or you will stand by as I utilise my override code to enter your office. You may choose either option, as I have no preference.”
For a tense eleven-point-two seconds, they stared at each other. Spock did not blink. Eventually, Dr. McCoy approached him too closely and hissed, “I wouldn’t expect someone like you to know this, because it’s not like you give a flyin’ fuck about the little people down here – but it happens to be Jim’s birthday today.”
Spock’s eyebrows rose in silent question, and McCoy sneered. “Smart guy like you never made the connection? The first Narada incident with the U.S.S. Kelvin ring any bells? The man who sacrificed himself to save the entire crew, including his wife and son?”
“Kirk,” Spock murmured with growing realisation. “George Kirk. His father –“
“Died today, so many years ago,” McCoy finished. “So I’m sure even a machine like you can get why I ain’t letting anyone near him. Kid’s a mess.”
Spock calmly inspected McCoy and made a demonstration of straightening his back and nodding stiffly. “I understand, Doctor. I do not require your medical services at this junction.”
The doctor flashed him a look of suspicion, but merely grunted, “Good,” and stalked away.
The moment McCoy was out of his sight, Spock headed directly to the office door. His fingertips briefly hovered over the keypad. What could he say to Jim? Spock, too, had lost a parent. But their circumstances spanned across widely different spectrums. McCoy had been correct in saying that Kirk should be of no concern to Spock. Yet he was, and that was the only conclusion Spock could focus on.
Inhaling a single, bracing breath, Spock keyed in the code and slipped into the room. The spacious office was cloaked in shadow and indirect light from a dim lamp in the corner. He could smell disinfectant and bourbon and – Jim.
Slouched on the sofa in an awkward sitting position was Nurse Kirk. His chin was tilted up, his head resting on the back of the couch. Wedged between his splayed thighs was a half-empty bottle of amber alcohol. Kirk was snoring softly from his nose - a slight wheeze.
As Spock took in the prone form before him, the tension in his body began to melt away. If it had simply been Kirk’s thoughtful bedside manner and sharp intelligence that had drawn him in, then it would not be so relaxing to exist in the nurse’s company while he was simply resting.
In that moment, Spock had come to understand that there was more to his affinity for Kirk than he initially assumed. The man was unconscious, and yet he still held sway over Spock. Even in slumber, Spock felt quieted by his presence.
Gripping the bourbon bottle by the neck, Spock carefully removed it from between Kirk’s legs. He placed it on Dr. McCoy’s desk and turned to study the man who did not fit in any mould Spock could devise. Kirk consistently demonstrated vitality and vigour in his speech and tactile gestures. Asleep – or, was it unconscious? – his face and body were still.
Spock had never encountered the opportunity to stop and examine him. He found it curious; Kirk appeared more youthful and immature when he was awake and loquacious. Asleep, he resembled a mature man. Despite the soft contours of lips and lashes, there was something strong and solemn about the lines of his face. A dependable nature.
This was an invasion of both Dr. McCoy and Kirk’s privacy. He should depart.
Spock frowned and sat down beside Kirk. The seconds ticked by on an antiquated chronometer on Dr. McCoy’s desk. Spock counted three-hundred and forty-seven clicks before he finally leaned back into the cushions, with his shoulder a mere inch from Kirk’s. Swallowing a lump in his throat, Spock braved a look at the face so close to him. Jim’s breath smelled of acrid alcohol, but his scent was reminiscent of the cinnamon and apple tea his mother had once been so fond of. Spock barely averted the urge to simply nuzzle his nose against Kirk’s unshaven jaw.
Flicking a look from the door, to Kirk, and repeating the gesture once more, Spock found his control shuddering beneath the weight of his desire. No, not merely desire. The emotion Spock experienced was foreign and complex. A protective form of affection, perhaps. Unwarranted, yes; uncomfortable, certainly. And as much as Spock pivoted the feeling in his mind and studied it from all angles, he could ascertain no way to dislodge it from inside his chest.
When Spock pressed a delicate kiss to the birthmark beside Kirk’s ear, it took every remaining ounce of restraint not to lavish attention on each fascinating freckle he had previously noted on Kirk’s face and arms and hands. With a shamefully human groan, Spock sunk back into the couch. He shut his eyes and refused to look at the man beside him. Deep breaths soothed his frayed control. Each inhale brought the calming aroma of Jim; the exhale expelled his nerves. Sinking back into the seat, Spock allowed himself to drift.
Spock only realised that he had fallen asleep – although, when had he lain down? – when his hand nestled in the soft, thick hair of whomever was lying atop him. With the bleary realisation that it was Jim cuddled against him, Spock murmured his consent and floated back into blissful respite.
No. Spock shot up from the couch, his body and mind on full alert.
Unfortunately, his reaction time had been woefully delayed. To be exact, his lag had been twenty-seven minutes in error. Nurse Kirk was no longer sleeping on the couch, or on him. He was no longer in the room at all. To the end of his days, Spock would swear that his heart ceased to beat.
He had no idea how to proceed. This was a deeply regrettable situation. It had not been his intention to engage in any intimacy with – no. That was fallacy. He had desired to encourage the underlying affinity between them. Spock had come to offer his own ineffectual brand of comfort, and in turn, find solace in the knowledge that he could help Kirk, as the nurse had been previously able to aid him.
Instead, Spock had reacted in a shamefully Human fashion. His baser red-blooded emotions had seeped to the surface and stained his judgement. Now Nurse Kirk would know of Spock’s aberrant regard for him; no doubt he was disturbed by this revelation. There was no other explanation for Kirk’s soundless escape.
Spock was being avoided and this was for the best. Nurse Kirk should also be avoided at all costs.
With that conclusion encasing his heart, Spock stood and brushed himself off. He did not linger in the room that screamed of his transgressions but slipped through the doors and out of sickbay, utterly unnoticed.
Plains of verdant green skin stretched thin and angry across Spock’s outstretched palms. He could still feel the lingering sizzle of the Horta’s scalding hide embedded past the first sensitive layer of his fingertips. The creature had not been the only one experiencing pain, but Spock had been required to fulfil his duties, regardless of discomfort. It had been his ingenuity and mediation that had settled the problems on Janus VI. If the Horta’s boiling epidermis had seared off a delicate layer of Spock’s hands – well, he had not joined Starfleet expecting his own safety.
Hunched slightly on his bed, hands turned up and resting on his knees, Spock mused over his subsequent course of action. Sickbay was not an option. Doctor McCoy would be engrossed in the two officers who had been rescued from a collapsed mine, and that left one other qualified medical practitioner. Spock had competently avoided Nurse Kirk for five weeks, four days and seven hours. First-degree burns would not be enough to coax him into meeting Kirk’s deceptively lazy gaze – not following the mortifying incident of Nurse Kirk’s birthday.
Spock had an emergency first aid kit in the fresher. He could heal the excess damage and wait until the next day to visit McCoy. It was a reasonable option. That was what Spock told himself.
The door buzzed and Spock went ramrod straight. He stood and gripped his hands lightly behind his back. “Come.”
Spock’s eyes widened minutely as Nurse Kirk swept inside with his med-kit in hand. Kirk scrutinised Spock with a blank professionalism had Spock wordlessly bristling.
Kirk’s voice was flat. “Pike sent me.”
“He is an attentive captain, but I am confident that my unscathed condition is apparent.”
“I’ll make that decision. Have a seat.”
“I am already in possession of several chairs, thank you.”
Kirk’s eyes did not flicker. Underlying steel lurked beneath his hushed tone. “Let me help, Mr. Spock.”
Something pinched uncomfortably in his chest and Spock primly sat at the foot of the bed. He folded his throbbing hands atop his knees and stared drolly at Kirk. “I must admit that I cannot surmise the purpose of your visit, Nurse Kirk. It is plain that I am in adequate con –”
“Stop attempting to bullshit the bullshitter, Commander.” The chill had abated from his voice, but his movements were brisk and clinical as he set the kit on the floor and sat beside Spock. The mattress groaned, and Spock’s body gravitated toward the concave created by Kirk’s solid weight.
“I have never been accused of subterfuge under any circumstances,” Spock stated, rather aghast.
Kirk shrugged and leaned forward to pop open the container at his feet. “Yeah, well, I have that effect on people.”
Spock felt his Adam’s apple bob, as the creamy skin at the small of Kirk’s back was exposed by the nurse’s movement. He swallowed quietly and concentrated on the disarray of Kirk’s hair instead. “Of what effect do you speak?”
“People are different around me.” He came up with a medical tricorder and began to scan the length of Spock’s torso. “For better or worse, they’re always different.”
“That is a rather illogical theory.”
The tricorder glanced past Spock’s hands and Kirk frowned at his readings. “You’re wrong – it’s your statement that’s illogical. If my theory is just that – a proposed explanation whose solution is conjectural – then there is no such thing as an illogical theory, unless proven as such. And after it’s been debunked, it ceases to be a theory anyway. Show me your hands.”
Spock’s heart was tumbling as his mind reeled. “My hands are easily viewable from this position.”
“Spock.” Kirk’s gaze was steely. “I’m going to make you extremely uncomfortable in about five seconds if you don’t comply with my orders.”
“I fail to see how you might accomplish such a thing.”
Kirk’s eyebrows jumped and his lips curled. “You want me to kiss you? I do know how Vulcan hands work, you know.”
Spock uttered a strangled noise and obediently presented his scorched palms. He could not tell if Kirk was speaking in earnest, but he did not wish to be enlightened.
With the revelation of his damaged skin, Spock had expected some form of admonition other than the utter silence that engulfed the room. Every previous instance of injury had conjured an utterance of disapproval or a strict reprimanding, or even a teasing word. In this case, he was met with suffocating quiet.
Spock pondered if it was Kirk’s time on Vulcan which accounted for the vacancy of the nurse’s expression. His features were still, with eyes dispassionate and dark as twilight. Chapped lips thinned as Jim looked away and discarded his tricorder for a pair of latex gloves. The sharp snap of plastic to wrist was more a slap in the face than Spock had ever received.
Nurse Kirk retrieved a tube of cooling regenerative salve and squeezed a blob onto his fingertips. Eyes downcast and intense on Spock’s injuries, Kirk took one of Spock’s hands in his own.
“This’ll be uncomfortable,” Kirk rasped, and lightly slid his slick fingertips down the centre of Spock’s palm.
The gel was a blessed oasis in the dry, desert heat of Spock’s skin. Delicate chills echoed up his fingers, and Spock’s eyelids fluttered at the dulling pain and swelling pleasure radiating from the centre of his palm. Spock reflexively angled towards Kirk, giving him free reign to enfold Spock’s hand in both of his. Both of Kirk’s thumbs artfully massaged the chilly salve into sensitive mounds of flesh and up towards his fingers. Small, gentle circles rubbed the length of each digit with diligence and care. Every glide of Nurse Kirk’s fingers against Spock’s sent fissures of bliss rocketing straight to his core.
Spock bit down on the inside of his cheek, and purposely fisted his other hand. The flash of pain that seized his arm reminded him of his place and self-control. Relief and regret swamped Spock’s stiff frame when Kirk released his hand with a self-satisfied nod.
Finally, finally he met Spock’s eyes. Kirk’s pupils were dilated, his lips flushed. “Your other hand.”
The casual tone of Kirk’s voice had Spock’s spine straightening, and his need to match the nurse’s nonchalance increased. Voiding his face of expression, Spock held out his other hand with an air of disinterest. Unfortunately, as soon as Kirk’s dedicated ministrations recommenced, Spock found his nerves eroding. A barrage of shivers cascaded across his arms and thighs and Spock grappled for some semblance of reason.
“It is uncommon that I experience no residual emotion from such close physical contact, despite the barrier of latex.”
Spock felt his cheeks heat at the unexpected frustration he had detected in his own voice.
Nurse Kirk’s fingers twitched against Spock’s hypersensitive skin. “From what I hear, you should be thankful. Apparently my untrained mind had been too dynamic for the close company I kept with Vulcans.”
Spock focused on Kirk’s words, rather than the rhythmic slide of soothing fingers on flesh. “Your mind cannot be too dynamic, although I am able to understand why a vibrant Human among Vulcans would cause minor upheaval.” Before he could eradicate the thought, Spock wondered just how compelling Jim Kirk’s mind truly was. “How were you able to cope?”
“I met with a specialist once a week. He taught me a thing or two about reining myself in – which I completely ignored until I returned years later, and started volunteering at the children’s hospital through Starfleet. Sometimes there’s no opportunity to slap on gloves, and in that case you can’t let your panic or doubt seep into a distressed kid’s psyche, y’know?”
Spock nodded silently, and once again felt bereft as Kirk’s hands slipped away from his own. Spock laid his hands upon his thighs, palms up and watched as Nurse Kirk peeled off his gloves and dropped them into his med-kit. He wiped his hands on his trousers and offered Spock his first grin since he had arrived. “So, uh, that was an awkward make-out session.”
“Pardon?” Spock suppressed a scowl. There were times when Humans genuinely spoke a separate language from Standard.
Amusement glittered in Kirk’s eyes. “Never mind. How do your hands feel?”
Spock flexed his fingers tentatively. His joints were stiff, but the pain had diminished to a dull, thrumming ache. “I am recuperating sufficiently.”
Jim's jaw flexed. “I'm not going to ask you to be more careful. Just... every time you're about to do something ridiculously dangerous, remember that the Enterprise needs you.”
“I will endeavour to do so.”
The only word Spock could recall that fit the following beats of silence was awkward. Kirk leaned forward to pack up his belongings, and Spock edged away from his close proximity to the nurse. Kirk straightened, his lips weighted down. When he didn’t speak, Spock did.
“I thank you for your –”
“Are you going to admit that you like me, or what?”
Kirk wore a distinctly stubborn look that Spock recognised with a spark of panic. What could he say? There was nothing that would not paint him as a fool. Under the circumstances, silence was the most logical option.
No - Spock was attempting to fool himself. Silence was illogical at this time, but he could not find the words to express his attraction, or his confusion and embarrassment.
After several seconds of unblinking eye contact, Kirk bit off a, “Fuck, Spock,” and pinched the bridge of his nose. Kirk dropped his hand listlessly, his expression intent. “Vulcan has made me sick and tired of avoiding and repressing every fucking thing. It’s a lot easier to just spit it out than dance around the issue like we were in some Victorian novel.”
Despite the confident candour to Kirk’s voice, Spock could see the tension around his eyes. Perhaps Spock was not the only person repressing his anxiety.
Jim shifted on the bed, with his brows drawn together. “Are you gonna say anything, Spock? I mean, if I’m wrong and you don’t like me or are in a relationship or something, you can just say so. I may be a nurse, but I’m not delicate, all right?”
“Jim, I - ”
“You don’t need to be embarrassed about before,” Jim rattled on. “No one’s actually ever just, um, stayed with me. Bones always kind of avoids me, but lurks in the outskirts to clean up the chaos I leave behind. But waking up that day,” Jim’s eyes flicked up and away. “Well, it made me forget for a second why I was trying to get obliterated in the first place.”
Spock could feel his entire face going up in flame. “Jim, I –”
“You’re thinking that this can’t possibly work, right? I can’t blame you. Every Vulcan I’d ever felt some kind of an attraction for shot me down before I could even prove myself as something more than an obnoxious Human. Thing is, though – I am an obnoxious Human.”
Jim’s hands were now gesticulating wildly, his movements growing sharp at the edges. “And I’m done trying to prove myself otherwise. I don’t like or want to control myself most of the time, and I think with my heart, dick and mind in equal parts. I’m just a guy. But I think I could – I mean I know we could –”
Spock silenced Jim with a tentative kiss. He was unsure if he was going about this correctly, but prudence and sensibility had apparently evaporated.
The kiss was brief – more accurately, a brush of Spock’s lips against the corner of Jim’s open mouth. But the way Jim’s breath hitched and his eyes darkened to cobalt had Spock concluding that he had chosen the correct course of action.
“You kiss like a Human,” Jim said, looking rather bewildered.
“It quieted you, if only for a moment,” Spock replied dryly.
Jim laughed – a short, breathless lilt as he dragged a hand through his hair,and stared at Spock with a grin. “Sorry, I’m just a little – I don’t know what to think. I mean, I know you’re not like any other Vulcan I’ve met – and I love that. But you’re... you’re not like anyone else.”
“I should hope not,” Spock found himself saying. That was a curious experience. All Spock had strained to attain in his life had revolved around integration into the Vulcan culture. Of course, joining Starfleet had not supported his goal; but it had been the one selfish act in Spock’s lifetime, and worth the consequences.
Now, sitting beside Jim, Spock did not feel the need to be anyone else but himself. It was novel and invigorating and terrifying.
“I must apologise for intruding on your privacy on that day,” Spock added, almost as an afterthought.
Jim nodded. “Mmm.” His hand slipped atop Spock’s knee. Jim leaned in, lashes lowered so Spock could only make out a sliver of electric blue. “It’s fine – as long as you stay in my privacy from now on. Then you’ll never have to intrude.”
“Logical,” Spock murmured, and cool, plush lips slid into place against his. Delicate tremors skipped across his skin. Jim’s tongue tasted the seam of Spock’s lips, softly tracing until Spock could only helplessly open to him. Jim sighed into Spock’s mouth, and the sound went straight to his stomach.
And then one angle was not enough. Spock needed to experiment - felt compelled to taste and sample Jim in every way his lips could offer. Spock’s hands gravitated to Jim’s face; smooth skin around the flushed shell of his ears. The rough scrape of stubble on the sharp jut of his chin. Soft, downy hair at his temples.
Spock dislodged from Jim’s tongue and whispered against his swollen lips, “Jim, let me in. Please.”
He had not realised how strongly he desired – craved, wanted, needed – to know Jim’s mind. The bare glimpse he had received so many months ago had only incensed his curiosity. Now, it devoured him. More than anything, Spock needed to know Jim Kirk.
Jim’s gaze flickered with doubt. “You’re sure?”
Spock nodded dumbly, his thumb brushing away the uncharacteristic frown pulling at the corner of Jim’s mouth. Jim hummed softy, tilting into Spock’s palm; turning his head just enough to catch Spock’s thumb with the edge of his teeth. The smooth, moist tip of Jim’s tongue flicked at the pad of Spock’s digit, followed by a delicate nip.
Dormant nerves flared beneath Spock’s skin, his every finger feeling singed anew. In that same moment, Jim released his mind and Spock was hurled into the hearth. Caught in the wave of tangled desire and affection that cascaded off Jim’s psyche, Spock tilted his head back and mutely gulped for air. A needy whimper seized Spock’s throat as Jim lapped softly at his thumb.
This was not a mind meld, Spock realised as his fingertips dug into Jim’s hairline. This was the unnatural force of Jim, a new element in himself. Jim was consciously projecting his mind, specifically saturating his emotions and painting Spock’s body with them.
Spock was hardly cognisant of his hands reaching around to fist in the shirt hairs at the nape of Jim’s neck; not until the dull ache of freshly healed wounds protested deep in his joints. Spock found that he did not care in the least. Not with Jim swinging forward and straddling Spock’s lap. Not when Jim’s hips ground against Spock’s erection in a low, lazy roll.
Coherent thought was carried away when Jim leaned forward and rasped softly in his ear, “Wanna fuck you, Spock. Want you to fuck me. You have an idea of just how much now. But I can wait, if you need me to. I can try to stop.”
Spock’s only reply was a snarl he had never heard from his mouth before, as he latched on to Jim’s neck and sucked a bruise to life. Jim’s cry of surprise only spurred him on. Spock reached for the hem of Jim’s shirt but his fingers were batted away, with Jim murmuring, “Your hands,” and stripping them both of their tunics.
Spock took a moment in the frenzy to admire Jim’s partially nude form. Muscle rippled smoothly down his arms in bunching slopes and curves. A light curling of hair trailed down a flat stomach, his diaphragm heaving with each shallow breath. Spock spotted a dark freckle on Jim’s chest and his restraint promptly burnt out.
Silence fractured into what was definitely a giggle from Jim, as Spock picked up his negligible weight and flipped him on to the mattress. Spock coaxed Jim into silence with his mouth, although he could still feel the smile that Spock could not account for.
This was not akin to the few kisses he had shared with Nyota; not in the same solar system. There was nothing gentle or serious or poised about this experience.
Tongues lashed and curled against each other; tasting teeth and lips and all the smooth contours in between. An unspoken race ensued to strip each other of clothes and logic and breath. Clumsily explorative strokes and grabs and squeezes ignited fires on the skin and in the blood. The most fascinating aspect of them all was the laughter.
Jim yelped, glee and arousal tangled in the sound, when Spock grazed his teeth down one taut, pink nipple. He laughed in obvious delight when Spock put his strength to use, manoeuvring and tossing Jim around the bed as he saw fit. There was a curve to Jim’s lips before they enthusiastically ravaged Spock’s.
Rolling from Spock’s grip, Jim playfully grappled with Spock until they were both sitting up. Jim situated himself on Spock’s lap, straddling his thighs. Spock sucked in a calming breath when his aching erection grazed Jim’s and rasped against the soft hairs at Jim’s stomach.
Head bowed, his damp air plastered to his temples, Jim sought out Spock’s right hand by the wrist. Spock settled his free hand on Jim’s waist, his thumb lightly caressing the smooth skin of his side. Jim met Spock’s unsure gaze, his own eyes sparking with mirth. He brought up Spock’s hand between them and placed a delicate kiss on Spock’s pointer finger. Spock’s blood began to simmer, his erection twitching against Jim’s stomach with interest.
Jim’s voice was a low gravel, with a whisper of amusement teasing his tone. “You like that, don’t you? I figured you would.” Jim kissed Spock’s middle finger, the tip of his tongue caressing the pad for an instant. “I’d only ever heard rumours about Vulcan erogenous zones, even in med school. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out once you search for the signs.”
A kiss to Spock’s ring finger. This time, with an edge of Jim’s teeth catching the tip. Spock’s jaw dropped, his face going hot and his skin boiling. Spock snapped his mouth shut before a whine could escape.
Jim grinned and dragged his bottom lip up the length of Spock’s pinkie, his mouth suckling the end of his digit for a blistering second. Spock couldn’t abort the quivering of his thighs beneath Jim’s legs.
Jim brought Spock’s palm to his lips, where every exhale, every word from his mouth released a burst of fire from his hand to his groin. “The moment I saw you I wanted to do this.”
Spock was certain a moan escaped as his other hand dragged down Jim’s hip to stroke his lightly furred thigh.
“There was something about the way you glared at me - all sharp lines and straight spine. But your eyes,” Jim paused to stare meaningfully at Spock. A shiver of recognition skittered across Spock’s skin. Jim smiled, but the intensity of his gaze did not fade.
“They’re very Human. They tell me that you don’t want straight lines and perfection. You want to be touched.” Jim licked a cool stripe from the thudding pulse at Spock’s wrist to the tip of his middle finger. “You want to be shaped and bent and broken.”
Jim swirled his tongue around the tips of each finger and decadently suckled each pad with an errant scrape of teeth. Every ministration had Spock’s muscles coiling tighter, like a spring about to snap. Jim swallowed down the length of Spock’s middle finger and came up with a wet pop. Spock’s eyes nearly rolled to the back of his head.
“Wanna know how I know?” Jim gasped, as Spock’s free hand slipped around to trace the dimples above his buttocks. Jim darted his tongue into the dip between his pinkie and ring finger. “’Cause I want it too. How about it, Spock?”
Jim dropped Spock’s hand and draped his muscled arms over Spock's shoulders. Jim scraped his teeth across the pulse at Spock’s neck and then gravitated toward his ear. His breath was moist against the tip. “Do you wanna bend me?”
Spock’s reply consisted of banding his arms tightly around Jim’s waist, and pulling him in to plunder his mouth. Jim’s body went pliant, while his lips grew increasingly insistent. Spock huffed wetly into Jim’s mouth. “You speak too often.”
A silent laugh caressed Spock’s cheek. Jim’s hips jerked, beginning a slow rut against Spock’s aching erection. Bundles of nerves gathered and fizzled and popped between Spock’s thighs, and he was distantly aware that if Jim continued sliding against him with such wanton abandonment that he would not last much longer. Having Jim’s slick, toned body rocking atop his lap was more than Spock had ever imagined possible.
Spock took him by the waist and chucked him back on the bed, ignoring the distant twinge in his hands. Jim’s uninhibited groan as he was tossed around left Spock drunk and staggered and uncaring, but for one goal. He was engorged to the point of pain and his mind screamed for the solace of Jim’s body. Spock dragged his attention to Jim’s face, and the dark, hungry look he received was all the encouragement he required.
“Do you have –”
“In med-kit.” Jim appeared to be unable to form coherent sentences. Spock hoped he had hid his dazed smile when he turned, and laid on his stomach to reach for the kit. He had the tube of lubrication in his hands when a sharp bite to his posterior sent his thoughts scattering, and hands fumbling.
“Jim,” Spock choked out in alarm. Jim sunk his teeth in again and soothed the afflicted area with his tongue. Spock squeaked, desperately attempting to rein his reaction. He fumbled for the tube he had dropped once more and hastily flipped to meet Jim’s wolfish grin.
“I’m not letting you forg –”
Spock slipped in a slick finger up to the first knuckle, and Jim’s eyes crossed. Spock leaned forward, bit down on Jim’s lower lip and pushed in the remainder of the way. The rush of pleasure that circulated between his tightly clamped finger, and the electricity Jim was projecting was utterly staggering. If Spock had any doubts that he was doing this incorrectly, Jim’s emotions blatantly assured him otherwise.
Spock hypothesis that the slow, deliberate minutes he took opening and spreading Jim would give his body time to recuperate was faulty. When his fingertips grazed Jim’s prostate, Spock’s world went technicolour. His body tightened and trembled in time with the spasm around his sensitive fingers and his erection throbbed anew against Jim’s quivering thigh.
It had to be now, or Spock would truly go mad.
Biting down on the inside of his cheek, Spock settled between Jim’s thighs and made a single, shallow thrust that had Jim’s hands clenching the sheets. It took the remaining scraps of Spock’s sanity not to plunge right in to Jim’s tight, welcoming depths and pound him into the mattress. But illogical as it was, it seemed like Jim had read his mind. With a hiss that trailed off in a deep growl, Jim encircled Spock’s waist with his thighs and impaled himself in one deliberate stroke.
Spock’s mouth opened in shock, but no sound would render. Jim’s lips were a soft, pink ‘o’, his damp chest heaving. Spock slapped his palms over the firm mounds of Jim’s rear and lifted him up to drive in once, hard, down to the base.
Jim’s back arched and flew off the bed, his arms flying up to fist in the pillow above his head. His eyes were thickly lashed slits as he looked to Spock. The corner of his lips twitched and he thrust his hips up slowly and invitingly. Spock felt a pressure grow deep and tight in his centre and Jim’s long grinding motions were stretching his resolve very thin.
Then Jim whispered ashal-veh, almost unintelligibly, and Spock felt his cage crumble. He leaned forward and folded Jim at the waist. Jim’s hands flung up to yank at Spock’s hair and pulled him down for a kiss that was more akin to the slashing of tongue to tongue. Spock pumped into Jim’s slick entrance with increasing urgency, every primal instinct within him howling.
Each thrust pushed a tiny desperate noise from Jim’s throat; a cry that grew into unabashed moans as the slap of their hips thundered in Spock’s ears like erratic heartbeats. Spock did not know the time, the day, or his full name as he pummelled Jim into the bed. All he could feel was Jim – Jim hurtling with him over that sharp bright zenith. Spock reached between them and flicked his thumb across the tight cluster of skin below Jim’s head.
An explosion rippled through Spock the likes of which he was unable to comprehend. Jim bucked beneath him, nails and fingers branding Spock’s shoulders and back; pulling Spock in a free-fall that he wished would never end. Jim’s spasms and raw, throaty gasps rode Spock dry, until he was nothing more than a shivering mass that collapsed atop Jim.
Calm was something that seeped in quietly; slowly cooling the skin and soothing the mind. After long moments of nuzzling each other’s necks, Jim’s fingertips glanced over Spock’s ear.
“Note, Vulcans are denser than the average Human.”
“Are you attempting to allude to a point, Jim?”
“You’re heavy. Get off me, fatty.”
“I am certainly not overweight,” Spock informed him with no heat. But he rolled off Jim, his arms coming around the man to pull him onto his chest. Jim made an mmm noise and shoved his face against Spock’s armpit. Spock restrained a smile.
Jim’s lips tickled the sensitive flesh of his arm when he spoke. “Er, I forgot about your hands at some point. Sorry. You okay?”
“I am not in pain.”
“I’ll put more salve on when I can feel my limbs.”
“I would enjoy that.”
Jim uttered a husky sound of agreement. His muffled voice perked up after a time. “So, are you gonna admit you like me, or what?”
Spock kissed Jim’s hair. “I like you, Jim.”
“I like you too, Spock... Now, about next month’s physical?”