Jim's life was comfortable these days - actually, it had gone well past comfortable into really amazing. They'd gotten past 'comfortable' a few years back, in fact, during the first five year mission. The couple years off since had been incredible too. Jim had moved up a rank, but he'd said he'd only agree to it if Starfleet allowed him to continue on with the Enterprise. Unsurprisingly, given his track record aboard the ship and the glowing testimonials from her crew, that was acceptable.
The Enterprise and her crew - that was another part of what made life so comfortable. All of them, but one specific officer in particular had caused the quality of his life to skyrocket.
An incoming transmission caused the monitor at his elbow to blink, and Jim smiled a little as he looked up from the datapad, because he was pretty sure he knew who it was. And as usual, he was right.
But also kind of wrong, because the face that appeared on the monitor was not the face he'd expected, even if they shared everything else, including DNA.
"Hey, old friend," Jim greeted the elder Spock, as he usually did these days. It was how this Spock addressed him, sometimes, and all things considered, he'd found he really liked the idea. Something about someone having known him for a really long time and still not having gotten sick of him. "Long time no see. Literally speaking." They'd been having plenty of text-based conversations while the Enterprise was in deep space, but getting a decent visual connection was a little more difficult.
"Indeed," Spock agreed, with a slight nod. There was a hesitation, while Spock just looked at him, and that made Jim hesitate as well. Was he missing something? But then a slow smile spread across Spock's face. "It is... unspeakably good to see your face again, Jim."
Jim's grin softened. He couldn't really blame Spock for being a little sentimental, after all he'd been through. Was his universe's Spock really ever going to be that comfortable with smiling, or expressing affection? That was something they were still working on, but seeing what his Spock could become someday gave him hope. But he, on the other hand, was a cocky bastard - and from what this Spock had shared with him, he probably always would be. "Hey, who wouldn't be glad to see this face?" he teased. "So what's up? That last message you sent said you had something to ask me, but I never got a reply. Did you not send one, or did it get eaten by that space monster that swallows interstellar frequencies?"
That made Spock arch an eyebrow. "Are you joking, or have you encountered such a creature?"
"We'll probably meet it someday if it does exist," Jim said with a shrug. "So...?"
"...So." There was another hesitation, and Jim watched as Spock leaned back in his chair a bit, folding his hands before him thoughtfully. "You are on Earth now, are you not?"
"Close enough - Mars colony," Jim told him. "The other you knew a scientist he wanted to consult here - to help with the agricultural issues on New Vulcan, actually. Some kind of expert on... light, or something like that. So we'll be here a couple weeks while they're running some accelerated growth experiments."
"Excellent," Spock murmured. "Any progress would be greatly welcomed."
"If it works out," Jim pointed out, "we might just be able to stop by and see you in person. Or I would, at least," he amended. "I think you think it's a little unnerving to come face to face with yourself. And most humans, let alone Vulcans, would say that talking to yourself is illogical."
The joke didn't seem to lighten Spock's expression any. Not that jokes ever worked on his Spock, but this Spock had had over a century longer to lighten up. Now that Jim was paying attention, aside from that warm smile - which had been hesitant, he remembered - Spock seemed preoccupied, and not in the usual 'my mind is solving a dozen problems at once, seven of which your human brain could not comprehend' way. He almost seemed worried. "Spock?" he asked again. "What's going on?"
Spock's eyes, downcast, lifted to regard the monitor with great gravity. "Jim... my old friend... I have a tremendous favor to ask of you."
"Sure," Jim replied automatically. "What is it?"
"And by tremendous favor," Spock added, "I mean only that I would understand, assuredly, if you were to say no. It is not something to be asked lightly, and it would be no trouble for me if you decline. I simply believe..." Spock paused, thinking. "...that if I do not ask, I will wonder, always, if you might have said yes."
Jim furrowed his eyebrows, curious. "Alllll right, so this isn't one of those 'can you pick me up a case of something on your way back' requests, I take it."
Spock shook his head. "No, Jim, it is not."
But he didn't elaborate further, and Jim grew more curious. "What's going on? I mean, you know you can talk to me about anything - you weren't even this bad when you explained what pon farr was."
"Actually," Spock began, and now he looked distinctly uncomfortable, "that was what I wished to discuss."
Jim frowned. Spock - by which he meant his own universe's Spock, the one that was currently off exposing plants and soil to various wavelengths of light - hadn't been acting funny lately. Which was a good thing, because as he understood it, pon farr was supposed to be a seven year cycle, and it had only been five years.
...Well, for that Spock.
"Ohhhhh." He thought he understood now. "I take it you're - damn, I haven't had to ask anyone if they were 'overdue' since high school," he muttered. "But-"
He stopped there, because following parallel lines of logic, he thought he'd just answered his own question.
Jim cocked his head. "...Wait. Are you trying to ask if... uh..." Though he was all too comfortable with proposing absolutely filthy things to the other Spock, the most he could manage was a finger, pointing nervously from himself to the monitor and back again. Talking to this Spock was kind of like talking to somebody's grandfather. A grandfather who gave excellent sex tips - Spock had been really surprised when Jim knew exactly where to put his fingers without even being told - but still. He couldn't actually ask the guy something like that.
"I will make other arrangements if you decline," Spock told him, "so do not feel you are obligated. Saying no does not condemn me to death."
"Well... that's good, at least." Jim would have kind of been on the spot there.
"But... and Jim, I do not tell you these things to arouse your sympathies," Spock added, "but only to explain my logic. I am old by Vulcan standards. Beyond elderly, by human standards. My medical examinations show that my body's functions have begun to slow. I will not likely survive another seven years; this will be the last pon farr. And it seems logical to me," even if his voice wavered in a most emotional way when he said it, "that since the universe has seen fit to bring me together with my t'hy'la once more, after so long, that it would be a shame to waste the chance to be with him in this way - if there is any chance to be found."
Jim nodded slowly. "Don't worry, I understand." And even if Spock hadn't been trying to arouse his sympathies, he had. "I'd want the same, if it were me." There had been moments, over that five year mission, when he'd believed he was never going to see Spock again. And then there were moments when he had seen Spock again, and the only reason he'd been able to stop himself from jumping on the guy immediately was because half the crew was right there too. "Now that I think about it," he added, peering at the monitor, where Spock continued to sit with his hands folded, looking down at them. "I'm kind of surprised you hadn't propositioned me before now. If our positions were reversed, you'd have been on your back on the floor of that cave on Delta Vega in five minutes."
Incredibly, Spock's shoulders shook slightly, and the nervous expression was gone when he looked up to the monitor again. "If that were so, you would have been in the same position in roughly two-point-two-seven seconds, courtesy of the nerve pinch. You may recall that you hadn't the slightest idea who I was, or what we would become to each other."
"Okay, you got me there," Jim admitted with a laugh.
That seemed to have diffused at least some of the tension, and Spock was looking at him again while speaking. "Anyhow, Jim, I was aware that you did not know me, and that it would take time - and also that you should know me as a young man, a friend and partner, rather than an old man speaking about things that may or may not come to pass. As well, I know how much value humans place upon physical attraction," he added, with an apologetic nod. "I know that I am not so much to look at, while you - Jim, just look at you," he murmured. "You're nearly the same age now as you were when we first met, you're in the prime of your life."
Jim frowned a little. "You know, that's kind of insulting," he pointed out. "You don't honestly think I got with you because you're attractive, do you? Not that you aren't, but there are plenty of attractive beings in the universe. I've met a lot of them."
Spock sniffed faintly, perhaps remembering his own James T. Kirk. "Assuredly. I apologize."
"I'm interested in you because of who you are," Jim continued nonetheless. "Not because of what you look like. And you and the other you are both you." He was actually a little surprised it was so simple, considering his earlier thought about how talking to this Spock was kind of like talking to somebody's grandfather.
"The pon farr, of course, requires more than the physical act of joining."
Right. Jim and his Spock hadn't gone that far yet. "...The other you and I have talked about it, a little," he admitted. "It's kind of a big commitment. We figured we'd decide by the next time it comes up... Either he bonds with me, or he finds himself a wife." The thought made Jim feel a little self-conscious, and he crossed his arms over his chest. "I like to think he's leaning towards me."
"The customs have changed among Vulcans," Spock informed him. "Though the telepathic link is still required to fulfill the pon farr, such bonds do not hold couples to any further agreements. There is no kal-if-fee, no fight to the death, unless one is bonded against one's will. And among Vulcans, who would refuse the bond? It is logical - more than logical, imperative," he corrected himself, "that we must continue to mate, must bear more children. But it is also imperative that the bond does not tie one down. Anyone who is willing may bond with multiple partners, for the sake of fulfilling the requirements."
"Well, that's useful to know. Both for him, and..." Jim was a little confused on one point, though. "What if I do this now, with you? Am I automatically bonded to him, because you're the same person? Or..."
"I doubt that anyone has managed to test such a thing," Spock remarked - and his eyebrow raised, his curiosity apparent. "It would be... an interesting experiment, to be certain."
Jim felt a little spark of something at how much this Spock abruptly looked like his Spock when his attention was piqued by the thought of research. ...How exactly, he wondered, had James Tiberius Kirk managed to fall so absolutely and completely in love with the biggest nerd in the universe?
He took a moment to just look at the elder Spock in the monitor, just to think about it. Yes, there was no denying his age showed. There were deep creases in his face, and there was a certain shaky fragility to him, unlike the sturdy strength of his Spock. But that was only a little factor, compared to the warmth that shone in Spock's eyes as the two of them looked at each other, and their eyes met. Even his own Spock didn't look at him like that, like he was the only good and perfect thing in the universe even though he knew damn well that Jim was anything but.
Right that moment, Jim thought, he would have said yes.
But there was, Jim recalled, someone else to consider. Sort of. "...I should talk to, er, you about this," he said, feeling kind of silly as he gestured in the general direction of the research compound from the housing complex they were staying in. "Just to make sure you don't mind."
Spock breathed a sigh of relief. "I don't believe I will, but you are correct. So may I assume...?"
Jim nodded. "Can't make any promises yet, though. When is it going to start?"
"I am already beginning to feel the imbalance, the restlessness," Spock told him. "It must be done within eight days. Preferably sooner."
New Vulcan wasn't too far from Earth, with a decently equipped starship. It shouldn't take long at all once he had his answer. "I'll probably be able to let you know tonight."
"Jim... I thank you for even considering it." He took another deep breath, but his voice trembled again. "You cannot conceive of what you have done for me already."
Jim thought about this for a moment. "...No, I probably can't," he admitted. "But someday I'll have a better idea." Spock nodded, closing his eyes, and Jim smiled faintly. All this time, and it was clearly still so hard for him. "Take it easy till I call back, all right?"
"I will. Thank you, my friend."
"No problem. Talk to you later."
The transmission ended, and Jim stared thoughtfully at the monitor for a few moments longer before he saved his work, turned off the datapad, and left the room.
As expected, his Spock was still in the labs, and easy enough to find - all he had to do was ask after the guy with the pointy ears. An intern directed him to the correct area, where he found Spock inside a small room with a large window, looking out into another small room covered with plants. The room he was in was lit normally, but there was something not quite right about the light coming through the window. Something besides the fact that it had reddish overtones. Jim supposed that was why there was glass between them.
Spock, in the meantime, was standing by the window, turning a dial slowly. "Hey," Jim greeted him lightly - Spock would have heard him coming, and if he was in danger of disrupting anything, Spock would have said so already. "How's it coming along?"
"Slowly but steadily," Spock replied, his eyes flickering between the dial and the computer's readout, adjusting as he went. "We have isolated the atmospheric elements that were causing interference, and are close now to isolating the wavelengths that we will need to produce artificially until the phenomenon has passed."
"I see. Good." This was Spock's idea of small talk: important, never useless, but largely meaningless in the moment. "...So I just got a transmission from you."
Spock glanced back at him then. "I do not recall-"
"Other you." Jim enjoyed teasing him. But then, this was a fairly serious matter. "Can you... do whatever it is you're doing-"
"I am adjusting wavelengths."
"Can you adjust wavelengths and listen at the same time? Or should we talk later?"
"This task requires little of my concentration, and no harm would be done by my momentary distraction," Spock replied, "if that is what you are asking."
"Good, because I'd rather talk now." Jim remembered what Spock had been like, the first time he went through this pon farr thing. He didn't want any version of Spock to have to endure more of that than he had to. Spock nodded, though his eyes were still on the readout, and so Jim continued. "Basically, the other you is going through pon farr."
Spock looked up sharply. "That is not something to be discussed. Particularly not in public."
"We're not in public," Jim reasoned. "We're in a lab. Alone. And while I think there are better things to do when two people are alone than talk, in this case I think we have to."
Spock's obvious tension didn't quite leave, judging by his occasional glances over his shoulder towards the door, but it did ease as Jim explained the conversation with the other Spock. Surprisingly so. In fact, when he told Spock what the other Spock had asked of him, Spock's voice was perfectly nonchalant as he answered. "I see no reason why not."
He was so nonchalant, in fact, that Jim was slightly taken aback. "You're... strangely okay with the idea of me running off to sleep with someone."
"Even if jealousy was not already illogical," Spock observed, "it would be particularly illogical for me to feal jealous over you being unfaithful to me with myself."
"You have a point." Jim considered. "But then, there's another thing. I'd have to form that telepathic bond thing with him for it to work."
"And he's you," Jim continued. "It's not as if Vulcans go traveling through time on a regular basis, so we don't know what will happen. We might wind up bonded."
"If it were so, that would be acceptable."
Jim gave him an incredulous look. "But isn't that basically..."
"It is not quite the same as marriage - particularly with the current customs on New Vulcan, as I apparently explained to you. But it is similarly significant."
"I thought you weren't ready to make that kind of decision." They'd been in agreement about that, for that matter, though Jim had come to like the idea.
"I am not," Spock replied. "However, if the decision is taken out of my hands, and it does indeed come to pass, I would not find it distasteful."
"In other words, you're okay with it."
His Spock was almost frustratingly blank compared to his more relaxed older self, and Jim could have ripped his own hair out. "You never told me you were okay with it."
"After we had agreed to come to a decision before the next time it became a problem," Spock said simply, "we never spoke of it again."
Jim groaned. "Okay, so at least that part's cleared up."
"Is there anything else about which you require clarification?"
"Not really." Jim thought for a moment, just in case he was missing something. "Except... you're not mad at me, are you?"
"I am not."
"So you really, honestly don't mind?" Even if he had just basically said he'd marry him, Spock's lack of reaction kind of reminded Jim of every girl who'd ever given him the cold shoulder.
"Jim." Finally Spock turned away from the console and faced him, and all Jim's concerns slipped away as Spock placed his hands on his shoulders, meeting his eyes soberly. "I do not mind. If anything, I find it... reassuring, to think that you will always be willing to assist me in such a manner. And that you are willing to bond with me, any incarnation of me, so intimately, gives me pleasure."
That was the thing about his Spock, Jim thought, smiling wistfully at him. No matter how cold his mannerisms were, all he really had to do was look him in the eye, and he'd see that warmth. Not so deep yet as the older Spock's - his Spock was still so guarded - but it was there. "I'm glad. I'm glad you decided that the bond was all right, too." And he had been wondering... "...By the way, is this something you'd want to come along for? Because I can't help but feel a little bit like this is cheating, even if it's technically not. Maybe if you were there..."
Spock shook his head. "I expect that 'I' would prefer the privacy of simply the two of us, without distractions. And as you so carefully avoided pointing out, the other Spock likely has little time remaining. You and I are still quite young, and will have plenty of time."
"You're right." Jim hadn't said it, because he didn't like thinking about it - and having someone tell you that you were in the process of dying seemed like it would be even more unpleasant than thinking about someone you cared about dying. But Spock was right, and he reached up, taking one of Spock's hands between his own, stroking the palm with his fingertips. "We'll have years to enjoy each other."
Spock's eyes had half-closed at the caress, his jaw set. "...Jim, this is a laboratory. Your behavior is highly inappropriate."
"No one else here to see it," Jim pointed out with a smirk, his fingertips brushing down to the wrist, finding Spock's pulse. "And even if there were, no one else would even recognize it as inappropriate."
Spock shook his head, opening his eyes again. "I have work to do, and you have a response to send."
He did, however, lean in to kiss Jim, very lightly, before freeing his hand and turning back to the console. That was good enough for Jim, who felt much lighter as he returned to the housing complex.
"So you've spoken to 'me' already," the older Spock queried, after Jim had made the connection.
Jim nodded. "As usual, you get straight to the point." Except when it involved pon farr, of course. Those conversations had always been slow and confusing.
"Will you come?" Spock asked.
Feeling more in his element now, Jim gave him a devious smirk. "That's up to you."
Spock just looked blank. "My, uh, other self didn't fill you in on vulgar slang, I take it," Jim said sheepishly.
"Apparently he did not cover everything."
"Never mind. I'll pack a few things and head out tomorrow morning, okay?"
Jim could probably have been there that night - there were no ships going directly from Mars to New Vulcan, but there was a Federation starbase only about an hour away by standard transport vessel, and though there wasn't a lot of civilian traffic to New Vulcan, the Federation still had an active hand in assisting the new colony. With his rank, it wouldn't have been difficult for him to secure a ride. But it seemed awfully rude to propose an off-planet rendezvous to your partner, and then just run off as soon as he okayed it (especially just after he'd said it was all right if they wound up half-married), so he was going to take one more night to enjoy the Spock he had with him.
This plan fell through somewhat when Spock refused his advances that night, citing a need for conservation. "You have not been with a Vulcan in this state," Spock told him, rolling Jim back down onto his own side of the bed. "It would be wise not to exert any unnecessary energy beforehand."
"...Huh." Jim pondered this, as he wrapped his arms and legs around Spock's warmth; if they weren't going to have sex, he was at least going to get a good cuddle in. "Sounds like I'm in for a more interesting time than I thought."
Their mission statement had been suitably dramatic and pompous. To seek out new life, and new civilizations... "And have sex with them," Bones had ad-libbed under his breath the first time he heard it. Jim supposed he deserved that, considering how he'd spent his spare time at the Academy, but he was a captain. He was going to act responsibly. And indeed, he'd merely made out with the vast majority of the aliens he met on their five year mission. He hadn't actually been flying across the galaxy for sex.
Until now, anyway. And now that he was doing it, it made him feel just a little weird. Maybe because he was trying to look professional while doing it - he was hitching a ride on another Federation starship, after all, and had to look like he merited being there. Using actual luggage that was beamed aboard for him, instead of hauling a spare set of clothes around in a backpack. Being greeted and chatted up by the captain, getting a tour during the brief journey instead of just boarding and settling down to look out the windows. It was just as well - the few moments he was left to his own thoughts left him wondering if the whole thing was a little sketchy.
He knew it wasn't, really. All he was doing was taking a couple of days to spend some time with his boyfriend, who needed him. Even if he'd never actually slept with this particular version of his boyfriend. Or did Spock (either one?) count as a fiance now, he wondered? They didn't actually have plans to get married in any conventional way, but the parallels were there. And considering that he was feeling kind of sketchy over this, when he probably wouldn't have thought much of flying off for a weekend of totally anonymous mindblowing sex some years back if someone had asked him, he did get the feeling he was in this for the long haul. It didn't hurt to know that in another time, he and Spock had been lifelong partners.
Which made him feel a little better as he grabbed the handle of his luggage and had a look at the directions mapped on his handheld before heading out into the heat. Maybe when he got back, he'd start making some moves that way, even if his own Spock didn't get linked to him secondhand. He wondered if Spock would think he was nuts if he got them rings - just something simple, tasteful. He had the credits these days. He could even get something Vulcan in design... if Vulcans actually made appropriate rings. If they made rings at all, Jim expected they'd be pretty dignified.
By the time he was knocking on the door, he wasn't feeling anywhere near as self-conscious. There was probably no way for it to not feel awkward when the door opened, though, and he was face to face with a man he hadn't seen in person for six years. Who he was going to have sex with.
Not to mention that even though he was a Vulcan, he looked like he was about to cry at the sight of Jim. Jim was pretty good at taking whatever strange things the universe threw at him, though, so he just gave Spock a properly cocky grin. "Good to see you, old friend."
"It is, my friend," Spock replied, his voice low and nearly broken, as he just stared at Jim with those glittering, haunted eyes. "It is..."
He didn't make a move, though, and so Jim was the one who stepped forward, wrapping his arms around the older man and hugging him tight. Spock reciprocated easily for a change, embracing him in return without hesitation, resting his head on Jim's shoulder - right there in the doorway, too - taking deep breaths as if he could inhale Jim. "It's okay," Jim murmured. He got the idea. "I'm here now."
Spock nodded against him, taking another, deeper breath and letting it out in a sigh as he stepped back. "Thank you, Jim... Please, come in."
Jim nodded, reaching back for his luggage and glancing around as he entered. Spock's home looked an awful lot like Spock's room on the Enterprise had looked, just larger. If not much so - Spock was still living in one of the housing projects that the Federation had set up on New Vulcan. They were designed primarily for quick assembly, so the Vulcans would have somewhere to stay while they began constructing buildings more to their own tastes and needs. Despite the generic, mostly Terran origins, Spock had clearly made it his own; the smell of incense, now familiar and comfortable (and sexy, in an associative sort of way) to Jim, filled the air. There weren't so many luxuries or personal items, but there was a chess set on a small table, and Jim had to smile. It wasn't quite the same as his own Spock's, but it was nice to see.
Although Jim had heard the faint sounds of string music through the door when he knocked, it had continued when Spock had answered the door, and the lute he'd expected to find was hanging on the wall. Sure enough, Spock raised his voice slightly. "Computer, cease playback."
"You don't have to turn it off," Jim assured him as the music disappeared. "I've started to kind of like Vulcan music. More so when you're playing it yourself, of course." There was something really hot about seeing his Spock's fingers move so quickly across the strings, for some reason.
"It is no trouble - I had it on only because waiting in silence was adding to my tension." Spock lifted a hand, and his fingers were trembling. "Yet I could not play myself, not in this condition. Not this time."
Right - Jim remembered when his own Spock had started going through this. The shaking of his hands had been the first obvious clue that it wasn't just a bad mood, that something really was wrong with him.
"Knowing that the trip would be tedious, I have acquired refreshment for you," Spock continued, passing into a smaller room off the central living room. "If you would care to be seated..."
Jim bit his lip, and followed after him rather than sitting down. "Spock..."
"I have no intention to inebriate you," Spock added, returning with not only a bottle but a small plate of fruit and bread, "but I thought you might appreciate having one of your preferred drinks available. Though it seems odd, the thought of you drinking Saurian brandy in my company alone, without Dr. McCoy."
His voice was almost as shaky as his hands. Jim accepted the bottle and the plate, but only to set them down. "Spock. You're in no condition to be waiting on me. You sit down."
Spock shook his head faintly, but let Jim guide him to a chair. "You are my guest," he protested weakly.
"And you're my friend. And I'm feeling fine, while you're obviously feeling like ass." Jim pulled up another chair across from him, and realized what he'd just said. "...So to speak. And I can do something about that."
One shaking hand covered Spock's face helplessly. "I was aware... this would be awkward, if we... if we moved too quickly. I thought that first we could talk... catch up..."
"It's going to be awkward no matter what," Jim told him. "So don't worry about it. I didn't come here to have you play bartender for me - I came here to help you."
And it was awkward. There was no denying that it felt really weird to just get off a starship, waltz into the home of a guy he'd only ever spoken to in person a couple of times, and suggest that instead of having a bite to eat and a couple of drinks, they should just get straight to the sex. But now that he was there, things were different. Seeing how he decorated the place, his taste in music, the smell of his incense - the incredibly irritating way he just kept trying to make things okay for Jim even when it was making him miserable... it was all that much easier to see that this was Spock. Despite the wrinkles, the age spots, the slightly gnarled fingers and the lightening of his hair, this was the same man he'd fallen head over heels in love with, the man he wanted to marry, the man who loved him back even when he had to fight against himself to admit it.
And right now, that man was suffering. He had never been good at watching any of his people suffer, but especially not when it was Spock.
Jim brushed his left hand through the grey hair, pulling his chair closer with the right. "If you're anything like the Spock I left back on Mars," he said firmly, sitting down, "you've spent a lifetime doing anything I needed or wanted you to do. So right now, let me do what you need me to do."
"Everything I have done," Spock murmured, catching Jim's hand before it came to rest on the back of his, his eyes painful and bright, "you have reciprocated. More than reciprocated, Jim. I was... so stubborn, before I came to realize..."
"So I did reciprocate," Jim repeated, curling his fingers around Spock's. "Good. That means we won't have a problem here, will we? Everything's perfectly normal."
"There is nothing normal, or logical, about what has come to pass." But even so, with his eyes meeting Jim's, holding his hand, Spock seemed to calm. "However, I am not inclined to argue."
His eyes were narrowed, tight with anxiety, but underneath was a look that Jim had seen before, from his own Spock. Deeper, though, and without any hint of reluctance. Spock wanted him, needed him, more than his Vulcan nature would let him express in words.
And Jim couldn't be sure if it was just that, or the beginnings of the telepathic contact between them, but he was startled by just how much he wanted Spock too. "...Good," he repeated.
Spock caught his breath as Jim's fingertips grazed the back of his hand, and no wonder - it was one of the things this Spock had told him was likely to impress his Spock. Jim's hand was released, so that he could stroke further, up to the knuckles and back down to the bones at Spock's wrist. He felt different, his skin not so warm or so firm, but Jim didn't care. Spock's wrist turned, and he did the same; even though touching each other's hands wasn't nearly so intimate for Jim as it was for a Vulcan, he'd always found it erotic just by the way it so obviously turned Spock on, and this was no exception. He could go for a little bit of his own kind of eroticism, however, and leaned in, reaching up with his free hand to guide Spock's face towards his own. Spock nuzzled against his touch for a moment, placing a kiss on Jim's fingertips before turning to kiss him on the mouth. That too was different, but not in a bad way - this kiss was more tender than those he was used to from Spock, less passion and more reverence. Jim was intrigued, and he caught the thought flitting past, I never was able to tell you how much, and smiled against Spock's mouth for an instant. He could get used to hearing things like that on a regular basis, if that's what this bond meant. Five years in charge of a starship, and it was still hard to believe anyone really thought he was a decent human being.
Spock pulled back after a moment, breathing heavily. "Jim, we must..."
Jim nodded. "Tell me what to do. I'll do it."
"Like this," Spock instructed him breathlessly, drawing his hand back, his palm finding Jim's, pressing against it with fingers spread in that gesture of his, the one that Jim was only just getting comfortable with, but his fingers were enough guidance for Jim's to fall into place. They almost tingled where his skin touched Spock's, and the sensation was enough to make a warmth settle in his groin, his head spinning like he had a particularly pleasant buzz.
When Spock slowly rubbed their palms together, Jim actually groaned. "Yes," Spock murmured. "My t'hy'la... parted from me, and never parted..." Jim nodded faintly, pushing back against Spock's touch, and Spock's other hand came up to stroke his face. That tingled too, and there was something like a rush of gentle heat, a warm breeze that made his eyes close in bliss. "Never... and always... touching, and touched."
He wasn't sure if Spock had said it aloud, or if it was another thought he'd caught on its way by. "I choose always," he murmured, or maybe he didn't, and he felt the laugh that Spock definitely did not voice aloud as his fingers came to Jim's lips. This was something else he'd been tipped off about, and Jim reached up with his own free hand, taking Spock's wrist (and it was so thin, he was momentarily concerned) and keeping it there, so he could take two of those long fingers into his mouth and suckle them gently. This time he wasn't sure if it was Spock or himself who groaned; he felt... outside himself, overlapping where they touched, as if a part of himself was inside Spock and vice-versa - and in a more literal sense, that was exactly what Jim wanted. He was so hot, and not just because Vulcans preferred it that way. He felt Spock's need, his burning, but behind it the grief and the jubilation at being with him, again, and like this, after having lost so much.
There was an emptiness within him that terrified Jim, but the part of him that was moving into Spock was...
He was filling it. Everything that was Spock, everything aside from his physical body, was wrapping itself around him, holding him, telling him you're here, you're here, stay with me, I can't lose you again. Jim moaned something incoherent; the only sensation he could compare it to was something like a full-body blowjob, and they were barely even touching.
Except for their hands, and Spock's fingers threaded through his. "It is done," Spock whispered aloud, but there was no need. Jim could feel it, he could feel Spock's joy and his desire surrounding him, invading him. Despite his own notably impressive libido, his need was nothing compared to Spock's now, and the need to sate it was just as great.
Jim swallowed hard, only barely stopping himself from just sliding off the chair and going down on him right there. "I think we should move to the bedroom." Spock agreed, and despite his age and condition, he was the one who led Jim, stumbling and dizzy.
He was worried; Jim had obviously been affected by the link more than he'd expected. "The physiological symptoms you are experiencing are due to the pon farr - it is taxing even for Vulcans, as you have seen. I had not thought of the effects on a human for a long time - I should have warned you."
"'M okay," Jim insisted, sitting down on the bed unsteadily.
Spock looked intense, but not convinced. "Do you need..."
"I'm pretty sure what I need is you," Jim mumbled, as Spock laid him back on the blankets. "But, gotta say... sure glad I didn't have any of that brandy."
He had no idea Spock was capable of smiling like that.
He also really wanted his clothes off.
It was kind of nice to know that if Jim happened to somehow still be around in a hundred and fifty years, Spock would still be capable of practically ripping his clothes off. It hadn't occurred to him that even a comparatively frail, elderly Vulcan would still be stronger than the average human. The way Spock was intercepting his own fingers - now shaking as badly as Spock's had been - and swiftly acting on his behalf to unfasten clasps and zippers would have been a little disconcerting, except that Jim knew how badly Spock wanted him, and he knew that Spock knew that he wanted him too. There were no more questions to be asked, no inquiries about whether or not this was all right, no concerns about second thoughts or cold feet. Moments of surprise, sometimes, when Spock was not quite the Spock he was used to, and he was not quite the Jim that Spock was used to, but those moments were bubbles in a flood of comfortable familiarity and wonder, and burst almost before they reached the surface, because both of them knew.
Without conscious thought, Jim's hands were on Spock and Spock's were on him, stroking and groping desperately as Spock settled at his side, and if Jim hadn't known why, it would have been scary just how well Spock knew what pleased him, how he liked to be touched. He wondered, vaguely, if it was due to the link or just the fact that Spock had spent longer in Jim's company than Jim had even been alive yet. He wasn't quite that good, fumbling and clumsy both physically and psychically, and besides - damn but Spock was good with his hands, no one could ever be as good as Spock was. Too good, maybe; Jim almost came before he even managed to get on top of Spock, but Spock drew his hands back, gripping Jim's forearms, head tilted back in pleasure. The sight almost finished the job, and an overwhelming dizzy spell caused Spock to draw him back down, pushing him against the mattress instead. And of course, because it was Spock, everything they needed had been prepared in advance - those long Vulcan fingers pressed into him, stretching and preparing him, and Jim was so overwhelmed he wasn't even sure for a moment that he'd survived all of it so far. Was he still breathing?
Alive, Jim. Most certainly alive.
Jim wasn't sure which was greater, Spock's need or his joy, but they combined indescribably well with the rhythm of his cock pounding into him - and this was supposed to be old age, Jim thought incredulously. His Spock hadn't been kidding about not wasting energy. And he was sharing in that power, his hips rising from the mattress to meet every thrust, moving on instinct, drifting in a sea of ecstasy both physical and emotional, so great that he didn't even realize at first when he came - what he'd been experiencing for the last several minutes was far better than any orgasm he'd ever had before.
He was still breathing, it seemed, or at least he was trying, his chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath. It didn't help that he hardly felt any different than he had before; Spock had come too, he could tell now, but once wasn't enough in his current state. His need was almost as great as it had been before. Before Jim could say anything at all, Spock was moving, sliding down on the bed to - all Jim could do was clutch helplessly at the blankets, his eyes rolling back in his head, as Spock practically swallowed his cock. He loved a good blowjob (Jim always loved it), but his Spock was reluctant (I learned to enjoy it, it made you feel so good), and this Spock was outright enthusiastic (for you). He was hard again in no time, and Spock was still hard when he moved back to his previous position.
But then, now that some of the urgency was gone, now that he was getting used to this, Jim was feeling more playful. With a swipe of his arm, he knocked Spock off-balance and used the momentum to roll them both over, landing on top of Spock with a grin. The grin abruptly turned to a laugh, because Spock was laughing in his heart; there was a time that Jim had done the same, insisting he was in as good shape as he'd ever been in, even if humans did age faster than Vulcans - and pulled a muscle in his back, ending any further activities for the night. One of many, many memories that Spock could bring to mind as easy as breathing. Possibly more easily. Starlight, sunrises, sunsets, wet jungles and rocky canyons, passing too fast for Jim to comprehend, but always made that much better when a golden figure was spotted among them. Close calls, nights spent awake in watch, alone in captivity but for each other - always a comfort, sometimes the only comfort. The sights and scents of dozens of worlds and sterile starships, the sound of hearts beating - and teasing about where to find that sound, eyebrows raised in mock offense. Greying hair, clothing that no longer was a passable fit for them both. Death, rebirth. Goodbyes, and hellos. The expectation of another hello - because there had always been another hello, and surely there must always be - lingering for years and years, fermenting and turning to poison.
"You were a part of me," Spock murmured up at him. "Losing you was... losing a limb, losing my sight."
Jim didn't know what to say, abruptly sobered. He had forgotten in the moment, but this Spock, the one he was looking down at now... It was a good thing there were two Spocks in this universe.
Spock sobered too, of course knowing his thoughts. "...I'm sorry," he told Jim, "for placing you in this position."
"Was it worth it?" Jim asked him.
Spock nodded. "Undoubtedly." He reached up to smooth Jim's hair back. "Vulcans suppress their emotions because they recognized them as a double-edged sword. It is only logical that the man who showed me how wonderful emotions could be... also showed me their bitterness."
The emotions he was feeling now were intense enough even to rival the pon farr, just let me look at you, just look at you and feel you, you're here, but Jim shook his head and took Spock's hand, clasping it. "Then it's worth it." And right now, he was determined to focus on the good. To prove the point, he ground his hips down against Spock's, and kissed him just like he would have kissed his own Spock, hard and hungry. Spock kissed back just as hard, as if he was as young and strong as the Spock Jim knew.
There was so much between them, so much in Spock's mind, that Jim couldn't think about the balance of his weight, about hands and knees, where to touch and when to pull back. He was seeing himself, and someone else who was himself, through admittedly biased eyes - even he himself had never considered James Tiberius Kirk to be that important. But he was everything, in that moment, and it barely even mattered when he came again, because the desperation remained, pumping through Spock hotter and faster than his blood. He knew Vulcans had stamina, but this... (the pon farr, but only in part; I shall have no more regrets, Jim).
They must have gone on for hours, for the room was dim when Spock finally settled, the candles having burned down, the incense burner empty. Spock could have gone on longer, Jim could tell, but Spock had chosen to stop. It had been enough, and Jim was starved and exhausted. So starved he nearly inhaled what Spock provided - even if Spock hadn't gone out of his way to get things he'd like, he would have devoured anything set before him at that point - and so exhausted that the single glass of brandy put him to sleep almost before he fell back on the bed. His dreams were scattered, filled with things that hadn't happened and might never happen at all.
When he woke up, he could tell even before rolling over that Spock was there beside him, watching him. It was like being wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket, that sense of peace and gratitude that was placed over him, but it sparked like static (a near-perfect representation of well-developed human abdominal muscles) when he yawned and stretched.
Jim laughed out loud at that thought - he was in an extremely good mood. "You're always so clinical," he teased, propping himself up on his elbow to regard Spock with a grin. "You could just say 'nice abs', like a normal person."
Spock said nothing, just smiled faintly, and Jim just looked back. Spock's age was more apparent this morning, or maybe he was just more in a state to notice these things. The hair on his chest was white, and he was so thin... At least Jim didn't have to worry about Spock thinking he didn't find him appealing or anything like that. Spock knew better. It was just...
"Yes, Jim..." Spock's smile faded with his own. "It's over."
It was just the realization that this really was the beginning of the end. It had been easy to forget yesterday, when they were both wrapped up in Spock's memories and the rush of the pon farr, but the need was sated. The past was the past again, and the future was going to be at least partly different. This Spock wouldn't have been able to relive it even if everything had remained the same.
Jim's smile returned, a mischievous little quirk at the corner of his mouth, as he lifted his hand in that Vulcan salute and offered it. "It doesn't have to be."
Spock raised an eyebrow, a little skeptical, but touched Jim's fingertips with his own, and easily responded to the careful seduction that followed. Which was good, because he'd taught Jim some of it in the first place. It wasn't as hard and fast as the sex the day before had been, but slow and gentle was pretty good too.
Besides, Jim was definitely sore. But it wasn't so bad. He didn't want Spock to have any regrets either - and he didn't want any of his own.
Spock told Jim to go ahead and bathe first, and take his time. Jim was tempted to take him up on it, given all the various aches he had, but he knew Spock. And more worrisome, now he could feel Spock, too. He knew about the pain in his lower back and his joints, the limp he refused to let show, the hands that still trembled even after the pon farr had ended. He took his bath quickly, and relinquished the washroom with a cheerful "All yours, go ahead" that fooled neither of them. Spock didn't call him on it.
He'd already been making breakfast, and this telepathic link thing was convenient, Jim thought. He could pick up right where Spock left off while Spock was in the washroom. Which took longer than Jim would have expected, and he fought the urge to go help Spock out of the bath once he was done only because Spock was radiating stubborn. He seemed to be just as bad about being self-sufficient as he had been about being emotionless once upon a time, and Jim knew him well enough to know that he'd give in when and if it was logical to do so.
He already had breakfast on the table when Spock returned, wrapped in a thick robe in addition to his clothes - he's cold, too, Jim realized - and settled gingerly on one of the two chairs. Just so it would be absolutely clear, not just some temporary idea that Spock might have already picked up through their link, he offered aloud. "I could stay with you for a while. The other you is probably going to be by in a few days anyway. And I don't have anything pressing going on right now, they're still adjusting and confirming crew for the next mission. You know how it is - even though pretty much everyone wants to stay on, Starfleet still has to process all of it. It'll take time."
Spock shook his head. "I'd rather you did not stay, Jim."
Jim was going to argue, but it was more than just stubbornness that he was feeling from Spock. There was a sense of sorrow, but a resigned, peaceful sort of sorrow, and that sense spiked when Spock lifted his head, addressing Jim's unspoken curiosity.
"You are not quite my Jim," he said simply. "And I am not quite your Spock. I thank you, deeply, for fulfilling my one last wish - but you belong elsewhere. With a young, healthy mate, rather than an old, feeble one."
"Do you think I care if you're 'old', or 'feeble'?" Jim asked him with a frown. "You're Spock. And if you really don't have very long left, I can stay. I don't want you to be alone."
"Your species fears mortality," Spock observed. "Vulcans do not. Particularly not I - I have lived a long life, I have seen many things. I have even died once already," he pointed out, with a knowing rise of his brow. "And among the things I've seen..."
Jim could feel the pull that meant Spock wanted him near, and he set the silverware down. "...You and I have said goodbye many times," Spock explained, taking Jim's offered hand. "I never came to terms with the knowledge that there would never again be another hello, even when I knew it had been too long, that it was impossible. It is time now that I must finally reconcile the impossibility. I will be honest, Jim - my wish is that you would go, and never return to me again."
"But-" Jim began to protest.
"Because when you have left me," Spock continued patiently, "you will return to your Spock. Through the bond we now share, I will feel your happiness - and if he has been bonded by proxy, as we theorized, I will feel his as well. And in that moment I will know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that James Tiberius Kirk will be with me, even after I have ceased to exist. That knowledge is the most comfort I could ask in my final days."
Jim wished he could say that that was dumb, that it didn't make any sense. But instead... "That's... logical," he admitted, squeezing Spock's hand, giving him a little, forced smile.
"Do not think of it as leaving me," Spock told him earnestly. "Think of it as the beginning of our lives together, as they should be lived - for that is what it is."
Jim just looked down at him, at their clasped hands. After a moment, he nodded. "But just one thing."
"I'm definitely not leaving you until I've had breakfast." Removing his hand from Spock's, he made himself grin. Never mind that he kind of felt like there were splinters in his heart. "Do you have any idea how much of an appetite I worked up, thanks to you?"
Spock had to feel those splinters too, but the two of them made themselves eat, made themselves talk about inconsequential things. Funny how even though they couldn't possibly have any secrets between them now, there were still topics they avoided, places they just wouldn't go. Jim considered asking if there was anything coming up that he should know to prepare for, but he had gotten the impression he'd handled things pretty well left to his own resources. Except that some of the memories he'd seen through their bond were more vivid than others; he'd already decided that Khan bastard was never going to get the chance.
An inquiry told him that he could hitch a ride back towards the starbase in the early afternoon, so until then, he stayed at Spock's, talking some and thinking more, drinking a little. When it was time to go, he leaned in for a kiss, and gave Spock a smile from the doorway.
Of course his friend's hand raised in that familiar gesture. "Live long and prosper, t'hy'la," Spock told him softly.
Jim nodded. "I will, old friend. And I'll make sure you do too."
But he had to turn and walk away at some point, and so he did.
The vague smile he left Spock's home with was still intact when he reached the starship, even if it felt like more of a grimace, but the officers that took him aboard didn't seem to notice. He considered excusing himself from the offer of a look into their engineering section during the ride, but decided it was better not to sit and think about any of this too much. Spock was right - he needed to be where he was supposed to be, and he knew where he was supposed to be.
It was late when he got back to the complex at the Mars colony, and his Spock was in their room already. He stood when Jim entered, and then was taken slightly aback when without a word, Jim greeted him by just throwing his arms around him and holding him tight.
After a hesitant moment, Spock lifted his arms to reciprocate. "You are... strangely distraught."
"You know," Jim mumbled into his shoulder, "after all those arguments you and Bones had about the relative perks of humans and Vulcans, I'd kind of like to apologize for being a human right now." He could feel the curious tilt of Spock's head against his own, and elaborated. "You're going to be around a lot longer than I am, and I've seen firsthand how much it's going to hurt you when I go."
Spock said nothing for a long time, but simply let Jim hold onto him. That was fine - that was all Jim really needed. Just to be there with Spock, and have Spock there with him,
"...I suppose," Spock said finally, "that reminding you of the risks inherent in active duty with Starfleet, and the chance that my demise might come early, would be of little comfort."
Jim snorted as he backed off, hands on Spock's shoulders, trying to ignore the stab of fear; Spock didn't even know that he'd seen that, too. Not to mention that Spock had come close to dying more than once during their first mission together, and that was almost as bad. "Why do you even say things like that?" he asked incredulously. "Of course it's not."
"I have considered such things myself, and your potential reaction," Spock explained. "I found that doing so increased my sense of self-preservation significantly - except inasmuch as the will to protect my own life would negatively impact my ability to protect yours, for I also considered the inverse scenario. I found it to be quite unsatisfactory."
And that was just so Spock that Jim found himself laughing. "So basically, neither of us is going down easily if you have anything to say about it. Same goes for me, you know."
For once, Spock didn't give him an exasperated look, but simply looked him in the eye as he told Jim, "Such a conclusion is so logical, I did not believe it merited discussion."
Somewhere within him, yet faint as if it were far off in the distance, Jim was feeling a small bubble of warmth, familiar and soothing. He knew where it came from - and behind what was left of his Spock's barriers, Jim could see the beginnings of that same warmth in his eyes.
Spurred on, he pulled the Spock that was there with him now, the Spock who was going to be there with him through everything, down into a kiss. From the puzzled look Spock gave him when they parted, Jim supposed that the bond hadn't included him, but that was all right. They had time.
Getting back to the Enterprise was good for Jim. Everybody back in their usual places, with a few exceptions here and there. This was the life Jim was supposed to be living, not attending endless meetings and waiting to be called up if there was an emergency. He was young and strong - he was supposed to keep moving, keep exploring. After a couple of weeks back, it was like he'd never left his ship. After a couple of months, he'd almost forgotten he ever had - except for that quiet, non-intrusive presence that was always with him. That was different... but it had always been pleasant, unnaturally natural, and somewhere along the way it worked itself into his definition of normal.
He was on the bridge, signing off on the obligatory reports of a brief, not-particularly-hostile encounter with some Romulan traders, when he abruptly felt a sharp pain in his side. Or maybe it was his stomach - somewhere around there. He managed only to wince as he finished what he was doing and handed the datapads back to the yeoman, but it grew stronger rather than passing, until he was practically slipping out of his chair, doubled over. Spock was there to catch him, Chekov was already paging Dr. McCoy to the bridge, and in a flash Bones was by his side with a scanner, asking him what was hurting, how it hurt. Jim gasped out that he didn't know, he hadn't pulled anything, and there weren't any significant organs there that should feel that squeezing kind of pain...
Not in a human body, at least.
He had wondered why a sense of relief had been present too. That was slipping away, along with the pain. "It is not physical trauma," Spock was telling Bones, "but psychic. He is feeling the pain secondhand."
"Why?" Bones was demanding. "Whose pain is he feeling?"
"To put it simply," Spock responded, "mine."
Bones looked back and forth, between Spock and Jim, who was still dazed and panting. "Both of you to sickbay, now," he ordered, and Spock did not argue, helping the doctor lift Jim to his feet despite his protest that he was okay, just winded, he just needed a minute to catch his breath.
It wasn't every day, after all, that you felt a heart attack kill you.
He had his breath back by the time they reached sickbay, and sat down on the biobed under his own power, but Spock and Bones were still eyeing him warily, like he might fall apart at any moment. "You all right, Jim?" Bones asked him.
Bones knew about that telepathic link - Jim kind of had to fill his personal physician in on that sort of thing, even if Bones wasn't his best friend besides - so Jim figured he'd probably figured out what happened pretty quickly. "Yeah," Jim said with a nod. "Just kind of..."
It wasn't his physical health they were concerned about, that was fairly obvious. And he supposed he understood why they'd gotten him off the bridge, because... well, his partner, his bonded lifemate, was dead. And that was the kind of thing that could make a man break down.
Jim wasn't quite sure why he wasn't breaking down. He acknowledged the loss, of course, but it wasn't so much upsetting to him as just mildly bittersweet. He supposed it had been a long time coming, and they had already said their goodbyes. Maybe it was because everything had gone the way Spock wanted it to go, and he knew Spock had been at peace in the end, but he still would have expected something more than this wistfulness. He didn't even feel any sort of emptiness, the way Spock had felt empty when he was gone.
Of course, Spock was right there in the sickbay. That little bubble of warmth that Jim had always associated with the older Spock was still there, now that he took a moment to consider how he felt - and he looked down to see his own Spock's hand gripping his tightly.
Jim smiled a little, and reached out the other hand to drop it around the doctor's shoulders, tugging his friend into a quick hug. "I'm okay, Bones. Really."
"...All right, if you say so," Bones agreed reluctantly, giving him a pat on the arm. And then added more dryly, after seeing the way Jim had looked to Spock after letting go, "Should I leave you two alone, maybe tell Chapel to stay away for a while?"
Jim shook his head. "Not necessary. There's no reason I can't get back to business."
"I would prefer that you reconsidered," Spock spoke up. "We are now in transit through Federation space. The odds of an incident which requires your authority or expertise are extremely slim."
"Yeah, everyone on the bridge thinks you're not feeling well already," Bones pointed out. "Nobody would say anything if you took the rest of the night off. Probably be more surprised to see you back so fast."
Jim glanced back and forth between the two of them. "I'd expect this from you," he told Bones, then turned to Spock. "But you? Are you two trying to team up on me?"
Spock ignored the question, looking to Bones. "I believe he would rest easier in his own quarters than in sickbay." Bones raised an eyebrow thoughtfully, and then nodded.
"This really isn't..." Jim began to protest, but... Ohhhh. Spock's hand in his own gave him insight into one side of this conversation. "...the most restful place in the world," he agreed, hopping down from the biobed. "All right, you two, I'll take it easy." Ordinarily he wouldn't want to, he'd rather keep busy and not think about it too much, but Spock definitely had something on his mind.
Spock kept Jim's hand in his own on his way back to the turbolift, pausing it just before it reached its destination on their own deck. At first he looked as if he was going to say something, but he didn't seem to know quite how to say it. Or rather, he wasn't certain it was necessary, which it wasn't. Not when he was still holding Jim's hand.
"I'm going to miss you when you let go," Jim told him finally. "I've gotten used to having a Vulcan in the back of my mind all the time."
That broke the ice somewhat. "Shall I find you another?" Spock inquired, perfectly deadpan.
"Oh, I think I know where I could pick one up," Jim remarked. "Not just any will do, you know. I can be awfully picky."
"I made my decision some time ago - during your visit to New Vulcan, in fact," Spock explained, somewhat belatedly. "I was merely concerned that your rudimentary telepathic capabilities, as a human, might be overwhelmed or disrupted by the duality."
No more danger of that. "Then let's do it," Jim told him. "Soon as we're alone." Then a thought occurred to him, and he gave Spock a wink. "Of course, we're alone right now."
"It could be done quickly," Spock affirmed, "but this does not seem an appropriate place."
"Your quarters would probably be more appropriate than mine. Vulcan ritual and all, and you've got the decor." Jim tapped the display, causing the turbolift to proceed. "But who would have guessed you were a romantic at heart?" he mused. "Right here would've been fine by me."
"I was assuming," Spock pointed out, "that you would want to have sex afterwards."
"Who said I didn't?"
"Not in the-"
The turbolift doors began to open, revealing a curious yeoman, and they dropped each other's hands, Jim turning to meet Spock's raised eyebrow with a grin. He was really looking forward to years and years of teasing Spock like this.