The Omitted Admission-- Stumbling into Love 3/3, Kirk/Spock, Kirk Spock Advent 2010, PG-13
Title: The Omitted Admission—Stumbling into Love
Beta: Thank you to my husband, who actually beta-d this one.
Word Count: 16,274.
Summary/Prompt: For the prompt “Spock gives Kirk a meld for Christmas; Spock sees more than Kirk intends him to.” Except it kind of turned into a mini-big bang, and the meld precedes Christmas by just a bit. It's your classic h/c with the "can they get it together before it's too late" thrown in for good measure. Because tropes are fun at the holidays
The captain could always focus, his concentration and energy during times of crisis not manic—just extremely intense and hard to keep up with. So it was with Jim; within three hours of the conversation in which he learned that he and McCoy had been unable to isolate a cure, Jim had conferenced with Admiral Pike, then met for with his yeoman before calling Spock. It had been an effort not to pace, or fidget, or simply interrupt.
Jim determined that they would stay on their current schedule to Starbase Fourteen; McCoy had determined that Jim’s condition was steady but his pain receptors were completely unreliable, such that he could not be allowed on an away mission. But he was correct that there was time to complete the medical and agricultural business with these rarely-seen outposts. He also re-organized his calendar so that the most pressing internal matters on which his opinion, rather than Spock’s, might be required were dealt with, and determined not to mention his illness to the majority of the crew, not at the outset—though Nurse Chapel and Dr. M’Benga knew of necessity, now that McCoy was spending so much time in the laboratory, continuing his research.
“He lost his dad,” Jim explained, sipping some milk and picking at a plate of cheese and some apple slices during their planning meeting, “found the cure two weeks after he died, and I didn’t tell you that,” he continued, then chewed thoughtfully on some cheese. “So if he’s been snippy toward you or gets all growly and shit, cut him some slack.”
The confidence required no comment more than a nod, which Spock freely gave—“I am rather fond of the doctor and his informal ways.”
Jim snorted. “I’ll keep your secret, he’ll probably decide you have a crush and run away every time you turn the corner, either that or decide he has to let you down gently, and won’t that will be horribly awkward.”
Since Spock was at that moment musing on the fact that that the milk mustache on Jim’s upper lip was illogically endearing—an inappropriate thought, and yet-- he could not but agree. “Awkward indeed.”
If Jim seemed more intent and serious than normal, well, the rest of the crew beyond those on the alpha bridge shift simply suspected some unrevealed mission. In those first two weeks, in between experimental treatment sessions with McCoy, some of which left Jim vomiting or sleeping for hours and Spock in no position to protest despite his dismay, though he could see—McCoy felt it too-- Jim insisted that Spock meet with those senior department chiefs with whom Spock rarely engaged.
Though he was technically responsible for overseeing every department, Jim liaised far more often with several departments with which he had more interest and aptitude—not just Medical, though that, of course, had always been his purview. But Jim also oversaw Engineering, Tactics and Weapons, Security and Commerce, as well as the Mess. Only now did Spock realize how little he had knew about these departments, merely scanning the operational briefs.
Jim seemed intent to “cover all the bases”, and at the very beginning of the third week, as he followed Jim and Chief Engineer Scott through the main engine bay while the two of them discussed the improvements to be completed at Starbase Fourteen after Jim left, Spock … realized wasn’t the word to describe what occurred, because he had been meditating—and avoiding meditating on the subject ever since Jim had pushed him out of the way of that reptiloid those several months ago and he had gotten that brief, tantalizing glimpse into Jim’s inner mind, that glance that had left him-- yes, yearning for more ever since and squashing the urge because it was simply inappropriate to lust and long for someone whom one had once tried to strangle.
He had never thought of Jim as anything but bright, even if he had wrongly believed him at first to be a self-involved liar, not a benign trickster—but even then he’d admitted Jim was brilliant to have cracked his Maru. But the sheer volume of information the man dictated as they made these urgent rounds, not just schematics, statistics, departmental idiosyncrasies and upcoming needs, but first and last names of crewmen, their families, birthdays, allergies, interests—Spock felt his eidetic memory growing full as Jim pressed onward, relentless, determined that Spock know everything so that there would be nothing to “fall through the cracks” when Jim handed over command.
When Jim handed over command.
One week, six days, and eighteen point seven hours from now, Enterprise would rendezvous at the Starbase with Asclepius, a high-speed medical courier. Jim would take that ship back to Earth, while Enterprise underwent its retrofit and let its crew celebrate shore leave and the traditional Earth winter religious and cultural holidays. It was not satisfactory. Jim’s travelling alone, without the distraction of a starship to run, would not be beneficial to him—and yet, there seemed little choice. Even with bright cadets being rushed through the Academy and promising officers being promoted, there were still too few starships and not enough crew to man the hulks still being built in the yards.
Just then, Jim stumbled behind him, the force of it surprising a squawk of warning from him just seconds before he collided with Spock, the two of them hitting the floor with Spock on the bottom. Then their physical contact registered with his mind.
that should have hurt shouldn’t it gotta get this stuff done formulae for the impulse revisions astral map of their current destination ETA at their current warp longing ache love used to this stop it was so foreign bright welcome overwhelming he did not realize what was happening until Jim had rolled him over and hauled him up to sitting, his back braced against the narrow corridor they had been traversing between the impulse engines— the man was right in his face, long narrow fingers bracing his shoulders, and the whirl of emotion and thought he sensed from his captain, his Jim oh shit Spock geez buddy breathe arrive at 2257.63 at 13:34 and 46 seconds if we move up to warp 6 oh my God don’t touch him you asshole he’ll find out shut up shut up warp mechanics needs their budget approved Rand’s gonna kick my ass if I miss this meeting in 15 minutes PAIN oh fuck there it is Jesus you asshole stop touching the telepath upcoming trade delegation to Tellar got to be moved not enough triticale aboard for the last two colonies need Botany to replicate more Bones is going to kill me if I let Spock pass out on me LOVE shut up shut up think of did I finish editing that paper for Chekov so he can submit it for publication — and then Jim was slapping him hard, once, looking him straight in the eye and saying “Breathe, Spock, okay, in and out, just like this, watch me, okay?” and he registered Chief Engineer Scott talking to McCoy on the vidscreen on the wall saying “… crashed int’ him an’ Jim’s got him up but if I didn’t know better I’d say he was havin’ a panic attack…” and then, yes, Jim slapped him again and that was the sharp focus he needed, the sting of Jim’s palm on his cheek but there was another moment’s glimpse into his mind, so very bright, so many thoughts, like a fractal, bursting and layered and fast, so beautiful and Spock just wanted to watch it collapse and reform, figure out the pattern beneath suppose I should call my mother and tell her I’m dying or something border protection passwords Fleet Intel on Ambassador Qu’nos itching fucking bees under my skin did Environmental ask me for those filtration systems alone finish that for Cochrane’s Quarterly coordinates for Dad’s explosion to Sam he might wanna visit even if that data’s classified can’t court martial a dead man itches FUCK THAT HURTS maybe I should cancel those book orders come on Spock LOVE my crew needs you to take care of them another Christmas alone if I make it that far what the hell is wrong with him where’s Bones ACHE oh fuck Christ Jesus all alone all alone all alone he’s still not breathing right don’t do this to me not right now Spock I need next week’s menu damned Chef forgot it’s Hannukah and there’s all happening at the same time as he realized.
He was having a panic attack. Because… because …
“You cannot be serious about returning to Earth on your own, Jim,” was the first thing out of his mouth as Jim reared away, startled, and he insufficiently authoritative given this brilliant barrage of Jim-- who shot a look at him, quelling and something else as layered and complex as the fragmented, rapid-fire, painful thoughts Spock had detected because humans in stress and pain had no shields at all. Sternly, Jim said “Spock. Just concentrate on breathing with me, okay?” This time, he kept his hands to himself, his blue stare willing Spock to submit to the attempt at modulating his breathing. His eyes were incredibly blue. Like a dying gas giant. Jim, startled, stepped further back.
Had Spock said that aloud?
And then M’Benga and McCoy were there, and Jim’s overwhelming presence was replaced with M’Benga’s well-cultivated shields, his mind and voice both repeating the same mantra of inhale and exhale and then with that focus he could finally breathe. At which point he looked up and saw Jim was gone and M’Benga had his hands on his face as he crouched before Spock, and Spock couldn’t help it as he pushed Geoffrey away and reached to clasp his hands over McCoy’s. It was the first time in his life he did not know what to do—so he shoved the indigestible, burning hot lump of thought and emotion he’d picked up from Jim into McCoy’s mind. The doctor sat heavily onto the floor staring at Spock, their fingers somehow intertwined as he absorbed the impact of what little Spock knew.
“You’re tellin’ me you didn’t know the boy had the hots for you?” was the first thing that came out of his mouth. “And you didn’t tell him, of course not, fuckin’ repressed goddamned Vulcans. Probably court for seventeen years before you get to first fucking base. I told him.” And then McCoy blinked like he had a horrible headache—he most likely did, Spock had not used finesse in the meld—it was more of a mind-dump-- and Dr. M’Benga looked highly disapproving at Spock’s chosen means of communication. “That little lying shit. He told me he wasn’t in pain.”
“Indeed,” Spock replied. The acute flashes of physical pain in between Jim’s inadvertent admission of interest—no, more than interest—Jim had denied on all occasions that he was in any discomfort except for being somewhat tired after some of McCoy’s treatments.
“I’m gonna cure him and then we’re gonna take turns killin’ him, though I’ll let you go first,” McCoy growled under his breath, voice quietly furious.
“There will be no killing Jim,” Spock growled in return, though he knew that McCoy was being hyperbolic—but he nonetheless felt possessive as all of the varying ramifications of what he had been avoiding suddenly became totally clear. “Excuse me. I must go find the captain.”
McCoy huffed a tired laugh. “He’s probably in Observation Deck Three or one of the medical shuttles if he didn’t ditch his meeting with Rand. Go get him, cowboy. Geoff, I got a helluva headache…”
Jim looked up from patting his tearful Yeoman on the shoulder in his ready room when Spock entered the room. “Mister Spock,” he said, “it’s customary to knock.” His tone tried to be stern, but it was clear that between their confrontation in Engineering and now Miss Rand’s apparent knowledge of the captain’s condition he was not in the most emotionally stable condition. And the circles under his eyes bespoke deep physical tiredness.
“It is also customary to conclude conversations once they begin,” Spock replied, amazed that his voice remained even. “Yeoman, it appears that you are upset by the news of the captain’s understandably concerning condition. Would you like to reconvene your meeting at some other time?”
Miss Rand nodded, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. “I would. Thank you, Commander. Captain,” she said, then took her things and excused herself from the room. When the door closed, Jim’s shoulders slumped and for the first time, Spock saw the full measure of stress and exhaustion—and yes—pain—that Jim had been hiding.
“Look, I’m sorry, okay,” Jim said, his whole face burning red. “And I know you can’t unsee—whatever—and I’ve always tried to be respectful and keep my distance and stuff, keep it professional and all on the level, I was just distracted today and then I was worried that you’d gotten hurt and I’m just… I’m really sorry, and I hope we can pretend like it didn’t happen at least until we hit the Starbase, and then I’ll be out of your hair.”
McCoy’s remark about Vulcan courting habits came to mind—that and a remark once made by his mother, that sometimes, with humans, one had to be direct and just show them what it was he was feeling, despite logic and manners—and then other thoughts about his attempts at humor with Jim and the fact that he had thought he had made it clear to Jim that he thought they were friends, moreso, even, someone with whom he enjoyed spending time…
“You do not understand,” Spock replied. “I would show you, if you will allow it.”
He sat in the chair next to Jim—rested his hand atop Jim’s where Jim was always so scrupulous with avoiding contact—felt Jim’s shock through the contact, began to explain the process of a meld.
Jim turned red. “Yeah—um—Old Spock—uh, other you? He, uh…”
“He used it to explain the concepts in a condensed manner.” Spock suppressed a small surge of jealousy. So far as he knew, Jim and the Ambassador were in occasional contact, but no more than that.
Jim nodded, still clearly expecting the worst. “So I get it… um, go ahead with… whatever…”
Spock took a moment to order the door locked, then applied the fingers of his other hand to the traditional psi points, all the while not relinguishing Jim’s hand, a gesture that brought with it feelings of surpriseworryhethinksI’mgonnaboltI’llprobablytripovermyfaceanyway and that made Spock’s hearts clench a bit.
He composed his myriad thoughts, tried to put them into order, then carefully let himself into Jim’s mind.
Yes. I know. But stop. Your worries on one part are incorrect. And then he released the whole of his recollections, his feelings, his guilt and growing respect—fascination—yes, growing love interest in Jim since he had met him, the whole spectrum of thought and emotion as he tried not to let himself be drawn in by the bright order/disorder/reordering fractal that was Jim’s mind, though it had taken him long—almost too long-- enough to identify his interest and fascination and panic at Jim’s illness as love.
I am not very experienced in these matters, I am afraid. He could feel the whole of Jim's regard-- love-- for him-- and what had he done to deserve such, merely doing his job?-- but did not delve into those thoughts, not at this time.
Jim’s verbal laugh broke the tension. “Because I’ve got such a great track record.”
Spock disengaged from the meld, loathe though he was. “You should cease from such self-deprecation. It serves no logical purpose.”
Jim turned red, but he chuckled. “I’m still captain for another week, I’ll have you know. Bossy.”
Spock, still holding Jim’s hand, could feel seeping pleasure. “I did use the word ‘should.’ You are tired. You should nap. And I believe I require rest as well. I would accompany you if you would allow.”
Jim turned red, but his smile was small and quiet. “Yeah. That’d be good.”
Two days later at lunch, Jim was reading Engineering updates in between eating his steak and ignoring his rice as McCoy debated the most recent failed round of research with Spock. As he usually did when he was having trouble with research, he was attempting to return to first principles, verbal pedantry that was clearly frustrating McCoy, judging by the tic in his jaw.
“We know the damage occurred because of the ergot. We know the ergot occurred during the drought. But we have not figured out how to reverse the damage to the genes, and we do not know why the drought happened, even though Tarsus was supposed to be a veritable paradise, resistant to what eventually did occur.”
Jim looked up and blinked.
“The sun went unstable. The radiation …” he murmured. He punched something into his PADD, pulled up his stylus, worked silently for two or three minutes, then McCoy and Spock’s PADDs’ buzzed simultaneously. “They knew why the drought occurred, they just didn’t say because it’d raise holy hell in all the Fed colonies, though you can be sure they went and re-assessed and resettled the ones that were at risk. The initial survey team missed a massive fluctuation in the sun’s radiation, and it fried all the crops, brought out latent diseases that weren’t supposed to occur. Those of us who survived had to be treated for melanomas in addition to malnutrition and … all that other shit.”
Spock looked down at his PADD to see an encrypted file.
“Saul HaTarsi,” Jim murmured, a quirk at the edge of his mouth. McCoy was already typing in the password and scanning the data, punching through until he found—ah, the astrometrics report in a classified file Jim had apparently hacked at some time. Radiation was a very old-fashioned treatment, but perhaps the cause might indeed be the cure.
“See you guys later, I’m going to finish up this report,” Jim said, waving a hand as McCoy rose from the table. Spock felt torn—he wanted to bear Jim company still, but this might indeed… Jim looked up and mouthed “go.”
“Please finish your steak. And your rice,” Spock requested. Jim looked to protest, but Spock, relieved, excited and daring, kissed him on the lips before he could say it aloud.
Across the mess, Commander Scott hooted. Something about Lieutenant Sulu and a case of Glenfiddich, whatever that was. He would explore the matter in more detail—when Jim was better.
The Asclepius contained not only the newest medical equipment to supplement that at Starbase Fourteen, it also contained machines most would consider archaic, since as a specialized courier it was often dispatched to assist starships with planetwide plagues and other strange outbreaks.
“We’re pretty much ready for anything,” explained their CMO, a highly competent woman named Beatrice Crusher to whom Dr. McCoy seemed to have taken an immediate liking. “And we don’t have to jury-rig something like you folks, because all we have to carry is medical gear.”
So it was that she and McCoy coordinated a schedule whereby the medical courier would berth adjacent to Enterprise and delay its departure three weeks so that they could determine if the (indeed jury-rigged, but successful) radiation treatment and targeted gene therapy and carried out on some of Jim’s tissue would work when done in the confines of Asclepius’ ancient, but working condition twenty-first century radiation machine.
“Th’admiral’s aren’t happy, but I told Barnett to bite me, an’ besides, we needed more shore leave,” McCoy said, one night in his office, sipping from a bottle of what he told Spock was “scotch, and damned good scotch, thanks to you.”
Spock decided it had something to do with the betting pool run by Lieutenant Sulu—he did not pursue further, determining it would be poor for crew morale at this or any other time.
“If this does not work,” Spock felt obligated to mention, though the thought did not make him happy. Jim was sanguine; the thread of his thoughts, though he would not say them aloud, was that he'd always figured he would die young, one way or another.
McCoy nodded. “I know, but I think it will. Bea’s team is good, she’s had good results with those old techs. Between the three of us, I think we’ve got it.” His words seemed confident, but his brow remained furrowed.
“Four, but perhaps you are correct,” Spock felt compelled to add, minded of Jim’s confidence regarding the man’s father. “Jim had the answer…”
McCoy nodded and took a thoughtful sip of his scotch. “Scary, that, just took askin’ the right question to jog it loose. All the shit that boy’s got locked up in his head. The admirals better keep on keeping him happy, ‘cause if he ever decides to go rogue…”
Spock nodded, although the random image of Jim in pirate garb, rakish and with the weight he had at the start of the mission… he shook off the notion. They had continued to share naps, a selfish bid on Spock’s part just to share Jim’s physical space—not to mention occasional human kisses, something Spock actually had always enjoyed—but given Jim’s illness, he found himself not wanting to push any further.
“Jim will be almost done with his treatment for today, I will speak with you tomorrow.”
McCoy gave him a small salute with his glass, swiping his unoccupied hand over his PADD to resume reviewing the work he had been doing when Spock had first entered the room.
After seeing a tired Jim—paler and thinner, too, plagued with the side effects of nausea and no appetite as predicted—back to his quarters and sitting with him, reassuring himself by lying with Jim until he fell asleep, Spock let himself out and headed toward the bridge. Once there, he was met by Lieutenant Matthews.
“Commander,” he began abruptly, standing up from the tactics station he was manning. “I know you probably don’t celebrate Christmas and all of the Earth holidays but … the crew, well, everyone’s noticed that Jim, well—everyone know’s something’s up, and if he’s going to die on us we want this to be a Christmas for him to remember. I … uh … used to stay at the Academy myself during breaks and I … know he wasn’t one for going home either. He even asked me out for drinks on Christmas first year with him and McCoy, but I was still pissed about the Cupcake thing and … kind of punched him.” The man flushed red abruptly, even though the two men got along well now, even shared a book club with Ensign Chekov and a few other crew members. The faces of everyone else on the bridge bore full agreement.
Spock sighed—Jim had wanted this to be private, though he and McCoy had told him it was clear enough he was ill. “Excuse us.” He beckoned the man into the captain’s ready room, then said—“Jim is not dying, or at least Doctors Crusher and McCoy do not think so. We have been working on a treatment, one that is rather taxing, but we believe it is beginning to work, and…”
“The captain doesn’t like talking about himself for all that he babbles sometimes.” Matthews nodded. “He still looks like shit.”
Spock felt the quirk of a smile edge his mouth at the man’s no-nonsense assessment. He was sure Jim would find it highly amusing.
“He is very tired,” Spock conceded.
Matthews nodded. “Well, that doesn’t mean we can’t do a holiday thing, I’ll figure out something for all the different religions and stuff-- it’s been a while since we’ve had a party.”
Spock had no disagreement—it had simply not been a priority, though perhaps it should have been—the crew had been doing an excellent job.
He then recalled one of Jim’s betraying thoughts during his inadvertent admission of love in Engineering--Spock was extremely glad Jim had stumbled that day.
“I thank you. It would be most welcome.”
Matthews nodded, leaving Spock to his thoughts.
“Spock,” Jim mumbled, pushing him away lightly with his hand. “M’tired. N’hungry. G’run m’ship, ‘kay?”
Jim looked better, a week after the conclusion of his course of treatment. He had more appetite, though he had not yet begun to gain weight, but he still claimed exhaustion and slept up to fourteen hours in a day. Spock was perfectly content to accompany him during some of those naps, and Lieutenant Sulu and Commander McCoy, as well as Nyota, were content to smile and sit a few hours’ extra command time on the bridge.
“Jim,” Spock repeated himself, reveling in the ability to touch the man’s shoulder, brush against the slumbering mind, feel the coolness of his strange human body.
“Stop thinkin’ so loud, y’r wakin’ me up,” Jim grumbled, rolling over and blinking one eye open at Spock. “An’ I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to think shit like your boyfriend is weird.”
There was a fleeting hurtknowIlooklikeascarecrow to Jim’s thoughts before he focused on what have I got to get done today-- Spock did not stop himself from pulling Jim up into a human embrace.
“Strange and welcome to me,” he clarified, because Jim was all too aware that the uniforms he was currently wearing were the same size as Chekov’s, a testament to the physical recovery he had yet to make and the worry he felt-- though unshielded as he was, Spock could feel him push those thoughts down. He would have to discuss with Jim his tendency to over-mimic the Vulcans when it came to verbal and emotional omission and repression.
“Very welcome to me,” he continued, and pressed a kiss to Jim’s temple. Jim huffed a laugh and hugged him back after a moment, kissed the side of his neck, then sat up in bed and blinked.
“Alright, I’m up. What’s going on?”
“There is a holiday social gathering that we should attend.”
Jim looked offended. “You organized a party without me?”
Spock corrected. “The crew organized a holiday social gathering—not I. As you will recall, I have been busy being the logical mother hen to the doctor’s fussy one, as you will say. But it would be ungracious not to attend, and you have had ten hours of sleep.”
Jim blinked again, then nodded, taking in Spock’s attire. “You’re not wearing your uniform.”
Spock shook his head. “It is an off-duty occasion.”
Jim laughed. “Alright, alright.”
With a small grumble and heave, Jim crawled from the bed. Spock stayed in his seat on the edge, watching as Jim puttered and looked for clothing. He pulled out the newer pants and black undress shirts he had requisitioned, then shook his head—“Guess I’ll leave it at that,” he said, looking over Spock’s new dark green sweater. “All my sweaters are going to be huge. That’s a nice one.”
Spock shook his head, highly amused. “Perhaps you should have resume drinking your coffee. Doctor McCoy manufactured a similar garment for you, you have walked by it three times since you woke.”
Jim blinked and took in the light blue sweater on top of his console. “Oh.” He shook it out, held it up to himself, then smiled widely. “Awesome,” then looked more closely at Spock. “Bones knit you one too?”
Spock nodded. “Although he shoved it at me with a warning that if I ever told anyone that he knew how to knit, he would infect me with the only Vulcan sexually transmitted disease known in the annals of medicine and destroy the cure.”
Jim snorted. “Gotta love him, can’t airlock him.”
The party was in full swing, as the humans might say, when he and Jim made their entrance into the largest recreation room on the ship. It was therefore somewhat of a surprise when everything stopped so people could clap—holler and whistle as well. And then Commander Scott called for a speech, one that Jim, slightly wet eyed, had to clear his throat and take a sip of the punch pressed into his hand before he could begin.
“To family and friends distant and right here in this room, to new loves and old, and to many more years of this truly, truly horrible holiday punch with the best crew in the ‘Fleet.”
He raised his glass and everyone toasted and drank—Spock took a cautious sip and agreed—the punch was indeed edible but utterly execrable.
Fortunately, there were many empty flat surfaces nearby.
Spock was not sure then who called for a kiss-- perhaps Lieutenant Matthews-- but McCoy, standing not far away with his arm around a smiling Dr. Crusher, pointed up, over their heads.
“You’re standing under the mistletoe, man. Bad luck to flaunt tradition, and it’s not like everyone doesn’t know about you two already.”
Jim shrugged and smiled, and more people picked up the call for a kiss until people were clapping and chanting in time. “Gotta give the people what they want,” he said.
“A happy crew is a productive crew,” Spock deadpanned.
“Very logical, Mister Spock.” His eyes glinted, indicating he knew Spock was joking this time.
As Jim’s fingers slid against his—he must have been doing research, they had not discussed Vulcan kissing—a thrill shot through him as he furthered the kiss with its human equivalent. He was fairly sure there were crew members cheering, but he was too engrossed in the laughter bubbling like a red-gold firework inside Jim’s mind to care.