"Hi," Jim says stupidly when he's reached the spot on the club's dance floor where Gary's swiveling his hips for a crowd of admirers.
A flare of doubt flashes through Jim when Gary looks him over and grins. Like he told Gaila, he didn't exactly think he'd be rushing to hang out with Gary Mitchell any time soon. But it's a crowded club, and Gary can't really pull anything if Jim doesn't want him to. Plus it's kind of nice, after dealing with Spock's glares of sheer disdain, to run into a guy who looks all kinds of pleased to see Jim.
"Hey, gorgeous," Gary says in his ear, pushing his cheek up against Jim's to make himself heard. Out of the corner of his eye, Jim watches some of Gary's hangers-on back off reluctantly when Gary pulls Jim closer so they can dance together.
"Hi," Jim repeats, and rolls his eyes when Gary laughs. Jim sways into his arms a little, still feeling a bit off kilter from the alcohol. Luckily Gary steadies him, hands gripping Jim's shoulders.
"Lucky me, running into you again. Fuck, you look great tonight." He runs his hands appreciatively down Jim's arms. Jim can't tell if what he's admiring more, though: Jim or the designer shirt Scotty loaned him.
"You too," Jim says automatically, though just like back at the alcove with Gaila, he barely notices how Gary looks. Because despite his best efforts to distract himself tonight, Gary is definitely not the one Jim's looking for. He shakes his muddled head, trying to clear it.
"That's it," Gary says encouragingly when Jim stumbles and they end up torso to torso. It's almost like their friendly back-and-forth during at the NoHo Threads shoot, except they're both still wearing shirts. "Friendly tonight, huh? I like it." He grins, all teeth. "Hey, maybe you want to take me up on that offer I made last time?" The last word is barely past his lips before Gary moves in to mouth Jim's neck and nibble his earlobe.
When Jim jerks back with a frown and brings his hand up to shove Gary away, Gary laughs and catches his wrist in a playful clasp. "Kidding, I'm totally kidding! Don't get so upset, buddy. We're just looking to have a little fun on the dance floor, am I right?"
Jim nods, relieved, and smiles when Gary turns the dance into something a little less clingy. It's still kind of grind-y. But; that's just the way everyone's dancing all around them as near as Jim can make out, so Jim goes with the flow. The last time he danced with anyone was with Bethany Hobart in a high school gym, after all; he's obviously out of the loop with how it's supposed to go down in real dance clubs. This scene, and everything in New York, feels worlds away from Iowa, high school, and all that Jim left behind when he boarded that plane to New York City. He should probably feel a little self-conscious about how out of place he was when he got here, how out of place he still is, really. But Gary's appreciative looks and the alcohol do wonders to help Jim forget his insecurities and slip into a languid haze of music and movement.
Before too long, the two of them are surrounded by admirers who seem thrilled whenever Jim slings his arms carelessly around Gary's neck or Gary skims his hands over the seat of Jim's jeans. The song changes seamlessly from one to another as the DJ keeps the music going, and Jim loses track of how long he's been out here, with Gary's thigh pushed up between his legs, and Gary's hands steadying the small of his back.
"You two are so hot together," one girl moans near them before she drapes herself over another guy nearby.
"We put on a good show, right, baby?" Gary tells Jim, yanking him closer in a possessive grab.
"Just for fun," Jim reminds him automatically.
"Well, we'll see if you change your mind about that later," Gary says, clearly amused as he moves his hands along Jim's hips.
Before Jim can raise his eyebrows and tell Gary he's not changing his mind anytime soon, someone trills, "Hey there!" in Jim's ear a second later.
"Gaila?" he asks in confusion, because she's somehow made her way out next to him and Gary.
"I fixed your phone," Gaila yells proudly.
"Huh?" He edges away from Gary so he can make a grab for his phone in her hands. "Did I leave it at the table?"
"You did!" she shouts over the music, clearly way too delighted about something. "See, I worked it all out for you. When you have problems texting a certain number, you should always test it out again another time! You know, to make sure the messages are going through."
Jim plucks his phone from her hand and looks at the conversation she's showing him. His jaw drops.
Because Gaila "tested" his phone by sending Spock photos of Jim and Gary going to town on the dance floor.
And Spock? Has texted back.
I fail to comprehend why you have directed this image to me, the text from Spock following the first snapshot reads.
Whatever reaction you wish to provoke in me, I can assure you that you will not receive it, follows quickly on Gaila's second photo, of Jim throwing his head back, his eyes closed almost as if he's in ecstasy, fingers combing through his sweaty hair. The way Gary's leaning forward in that one makes it seem like he's about to lick Jim's neck.
Yet I feel compelled to note your behavior is foolhardy and likely to involve you in troublesome circumstances, the next one states (arriving just seconds after an image that's zoomed in to focus on Gary smirking as he's tugging Jim close, his hands about to cup Jim's ass).
Wish you were here??? Gaila's answering text reads, an archly winking emoji Jim totally doesn't remember downloading following her words. Her next text is simply the club's address, accompanied by a shot of the street outside of the venue.
There's a gap of several minutes before Spock's next words, a terse Very well.
Jim numbly tries to scroll down, but there's nothing more in the conversation.
"What?" he asks her in shock. "You sent all that to Spock?" He's starting to feel decidedly dizzy, but he's so stunned that he barely feels Gary's arm snaking around his waist. At least the unexpected support keeps him from reeling.
"Don't get mad," she says with a pout. Her eyes flick to Gary and she gives him a simpering, obviously fake smile when he flashes an arrogant grin at her. "But you really ought to put a lock on that thing," she says in a lower voice that Jim can barely make out. Her face is suddenly serious as she glances again at Gary. "You wouldn't want someone who isn't looking out for you to get a hold of it."
"How is this looking out for me?" Jim shouts. "I told you Spock's already mad at me." Even with music blasting all around them, people are starting to stare at him yelling at Gaila. "Why would you do all that? He's going to think I'm the biggest jerk now!"
"Hey, relax, okay?" Gary says in his ear, voice sibilant and smooth. He's waving off the bouncer hovering nearby who seems to have been drawn to the scene, crowding behind Jim and pressing up against his ass. "Ignore her, baby."
"Jim, wait," Gaila entreats, looking conflicted. "It's not like you think -- I didn't mean --"
"Forget it, Gaila! I don't want to talk to you right now," Jim snaps, his voice hoarse and harsh.
The look she gives him is both worried and repentant. But the crowd around them soon swallows her up, and Jim doesn't have the energy left to feel badly about the way he yelled at her.
"Ugh, she's a total drama queen. Stay away from her if you know what's good for you," Gary advises. He leans in, nuzzling Jim's neck.
For a moment Jim sags against him, feeling overwhelmed. And that's when Gary's fingers slip down to palm Jim through his jeans, rubbing slowly.
"Get off me," Jim says, suddenly startled into sobriety. He tries to push Gary's hands away.
"Come on, you liked it a second ago," Gary answers. He sounds annoyed, and his breath is hot and tinged with sourness against Jim's cheek. "You're not going to act like a total tease again, are you? You've been spending all night winding me up."
"I mean it," Jim warns him. He turns around, pulling his wrist out of Gary's tight grip. "I told you before this wasn't going anywhere. You agreed when I said it; it was supposed to be just for fun."
"Yeah, right," Gary huffs. The stormy expression on his face tells Jim that Gary Mitchell isn't a guy who hears it when someone says no; he only hears not yet.
When Jim looks around in exasperation, he realizes he can't see Gaila or Sulu or Scotty anywhere. He's in the middle of a throng of writhing dancers in a hot steamy club, but between the shock still washing over him from Gaila's stupid idea of a joke and Gary being utterly unwilling to take a fucking no for an answer, his skin feels clammy and cold.
"Let's get out of here," Gary says to Jim, his voice again playful. He smiles beguilingly, probably to cover up for how demanding he sounded seconds ago.
"Absolutely not." Jim forcibly shrugs Gary off when Gary tries to sling an arm around his shoulders. "Don't make me knock you out, because believe me, I will if I have to!"
"Jim, hey. You know, you're kind of testing me here," Gary says, grinning to take the edge off the icy insistence threading through his words. He reaches out once again, trying to entwine his fingers with Jim's even as Jim jerks his hand back.
"I said no," Jim tells him furiously.
"You have heard his request. Unhand him at once," someone intones, voice carrying clearly to Jim's ears above the thrumming of the music despite not being raised to a yell.
"Hey, this has got nothing to do with you, so fuck off," Gary snarls to the recent arrival.
And that's when Spock -- for it is Spock who's speaking, standing unexpectedly at Jim's side -- reaches out coolly and does some kind of secret ninja ju-jitsu to Gary's neck. Whatever the move is, it makes Gary's eyes roll back in his head just before he crumples to the dance floor.
Gary's hangers-on, who never quite melted away, are soon exclaiming over Gary and hefting him to his feet, so Jim can't spare a second to worry about what Spock just did to the guy. Besides, it's hard to find the time to wonder what the fuck is going on when Spock's got Jim's bicep in a firm hold and is quickly maneuvering them through the club.
"Okay, what the hell?" Jim bursts out when they emerge through a heavy door and find themselves outside in a damp chilly alley. He wraps his arms around himself, shivering. "I don't know what you think you're doing, but I can take care of myself, all right?"
"Perhaps you have better demonstrated your skills in that area on other occasions," Spock tells him stiffly. He hasn't let go of Jim's arm yet, even grasps tighter when Jim goes to shake him off. "As of this moment, you seem to require aid and guidance. Despite my unwillingness to involve myself in such situations generally, I find I am compelled at this moment to step in due to your naïve blunders."
"I don't get you!" Jim yells in frustration, finally shoving Spock off and thumping against the wall when he staggers away. "First you act like maybe you want to get to know me better, like there could maybe even be a thing between us. Then you blow me off! You act mad every time you see me, and the way you talk to me, it's obvious you think I'm a complete fuck-up." Jim can feel his cheeks flushing hot as he keeps right on ranting. He doesn't know exactly where he's going with this, but damn it, he's going to make sure Spock hears what he has to say. "Why do you care what I do, anyway? It's not like you're my agent, or my dad, or even my friend! We barely know each other. And you made it pretty fucking clear in all kinds of ways you don't want anything to do with me ever again. So what makes you think you can just show up and --"
But Jim doesn't get to finish, because the next moment Spock is crowding him against the wall, kissing him frantically.
All the earlier posturing and grinding on the dance floor with Gary dissipates to nothing in comparison to this, to Spock's desperate sound as he captures Jim's mouth with an intensity that makes Jim's knees go weak.
Jim can't tell if he's trembling because of the cold night air or because of the way Spock's holding him. He's got one hand clamped almost iron-band tight around Jim's waist like he'll never let him escape, the other hand cradling Jim's jaw gently like Jim is something precious that must be protected at all costs.
Jim's been kissed plenty of times, though he's never made out with another guy before. But that's not the newness his brain gets stuck on -- it's how he's never been kissed even remotely like this, like Spock is staking a claim that no one, least of all Jim, will ever be able to deny. The way Spock's mouth moves over his, lips brushing fervently before deepening the kiss, tongue sliding deftly inside while Jim gasps through the onslaught and tries to hang on to whatever parts of Spock he can grab -- it feels like Spock's delved right into his thoughts, surged inside him to figure out exactly what will make Jim come apart.
Jim trembles, pushing closer, shoving his hands under Spock's shirt to touch feverish skin at his waist. He can't help but flex his fingers compulsively, dazed at feeling smooth skin over straining muscle, before he slides his palms up to skim along Spock's shoulder blades.
Everything between them, all the confusion and misunderstandings and arguments, has been leading up to this second; anything that's happened to Jim in the past weeks was merely a distraction and obstacle to getting as close as possible to Spock again.
"Oh god, I want to feel you, feel all of you," Jim mumbles, his words muffled against Spock's lips as he hungrily massages his fingers over Spock's toned back.
For a second Spock goes still. Jim starts to open his eyes, worried he's pushed a little too far.
Then there's a strange sound Jim can't process at first, almost like fabric shredding. "What --" Jim mutters, muffled against Spock's lips when he feels the yank of fraying cloth on his body. It's only when cool air breezes over his skin that his brain recognizes Spock has really and truly ripped Jim's shirt open. He doesn't even tear his mouth away from Jim's for a second, just pulls the material until it gives easily gives way under his strength. As soon as he has access, he runs a hot hand over Jim's chest with a proprietary, rough caress.
Just the thought of Spock using that strength so effortlessly makes hot need unfurl and pulse through Jim's entire body. They should go somewhere else, Jim thinks wildly as he surges as close as he can against Spock. Feeling hot press of Spock's thick erection against his belly is making Jim pant faster every second, and he's so hard his cock seriously hurts as it strains against the zipper of his jeans, the thin fabric of his boxer briefs no protection at all. They can't -- whatever's going to happen -- right here, can they? But no, even if it sounds nuts to keep on going in this weird misty alley, there's no time to leave for anyplace better, because Jim can't imagine letting go of Spock for a second.
Spock's hand at his waist loosens so his fingers can skim up and down over the swell of Jim's ass, increasing pressure on each go until he's actively kneading each cheek with ardent appreciation. Jim has to stop avidly sucking on the searing thrusts of Spock's tongue so he can throw his head back and let out a needy whine. The sound Spock makes in his ear in response is a straight-out growl, and Jim's cock throbs in answer.
When Spock frees one hand to stroke possessively down Jim's exposed neck, a beat later Jim makes a barely audible high-pitched sound: excitement, surrender, submission. Spock's teeth scrape down Jim's throat, leaving a raw tingling trail that he soothes with quick rasps of his tongue. They're undulating against each other, a wild twisting and thrusting that has Jim struggling to keep it together just for a little while longer. Because he needs something more, he needs everything more -- he just wants whatever Spock can give him right this moment. And it's like Spock really can honestly read Jim's mind, because immediately after, each of Spock's hands slip down from Jim's buttocks to his thighs, urgently lifting and supporting. With a shaky exhalation, Jim squirms, starts to wrap his legs around Spock.
Suddenly some vehicle's brakes screech in the street a few yards away. A man hollers, "Watch what you're doing, you fucking moron!" Car horns blast, and angry yelling follows. "Goddamn idiot!" and "For cryin' out loud, you dumb fuck!" echo back and forth in the small alley space.
"I --" Spock licks his lips, his eyes darting over Jim. With a slow and steady inhalation, he sets Jim down with care before he takes a step back and draws himself up. "I apologize."
"Huh?" Jim slumps against the wall at his back, trying to figure out what Spock's talking about.
"For my actions," Spock says to clarify, though to Jim's way of thinking, he still has no clue what Spock's asking forgiveness for.
Jim smiles at him crookedly. "You've got to be kidding. You've got nothing to be sorry for." He holds out a hand, his fingers twitching to feel Spock's skin again. "Come on, get back over here, okay?"
Spock's lips tighten. "I must not."
Jim waits, but there's no more explanation forthcoming. "Seriously? You're going to have to give me more than that." He knows Spock wants the exact same thing he does, wants it with every fiber of his being. To see Spock just step away from it, as though it takes no effort at all to stop -- it makes his head spin more than it did from all the drinks he downed earlier tonight.
"I have already determined my self-possession is threatened from being in close proximity to you. This impacts my ability to make the most appropriate decisions in your presence. I should never have allowed myself to --" Spock stops abruptly, his features going rigid in an expressionless mask. "It is unpardonable for me to force myself on you."
"Okay, maybe stop talking like a crazy person, and let's look at how I wasn't the tiniest bit unwilling through any of that," Jim rushes to say. When Spock's jaw tightens and he looks away, Jim moves forward quickly, trying to think what the hell he can say to stop Spock from wrecking this moment. But he pulls up short when Spock takes another deliberate step back.
"You remain partially inebriated, and therefore unable to grant appropriate consent," Spock says hollowly. "It is not logical for us to continue."
"You've got it all wrong," Jim protests. "Yeah, I had a couple of drinks tonight, but I haven't had a sip of anything since I headed out to the dance floor with--"
The flash in Spock's eyes exposes how Spock's already guessed what Jim had stopped short of saying -- since Jim headed out to the dance floor with Gary.
"Listen," Jim says urgently.
Spock's eyes narrow. "Furthermore, based on clear evidence of your dealings with others, you have displayed a lack of judgment in such situations previously." From the way his upper lip curls derisively, it's pretty clear what others he's got in mind. "The tendencies of your impetuous nature, in combination with these facts about your behavior and your current state of intoxication, make it unlikely that you are electing to undertake informed choices at the moment."
When Jim interrupts with, "Oh my god, give me a break," Spock holds up a hand to halt him from saying anything else.
"Additionally, such repeated conduct on your part throws into doubt your overall facility for judging what decisions are suitable in similar states of affairs. Thus, I cannot allow such interactions between us to continue, not only at this time, but at any later juncture."
Jim gives a hollow laugh. "You know, for a smart guy who keeps talking about evidence and logic, you sure are making a lot of assumptions about me. I don't think I like you forging ahead and deciding everything for both of us without letting me speak up even once about what's really on my mind."
"Your choice to goad me into attending the activities at this location speaks volumes about what is 'on your mind'," Spock tells Jim sharply.
"Hey, no," Jim protests. "For some reason Gaila thought it would be funny to send you those pictures. But I didn't tell her to take those photos, and I had no idea she was texting them."
"I see," Spock says after a pause, and somehow his stance is even more inflexible now. "I had assumed --" He breaks off, and before Jim can reply, Spock's ushering him toward the mouth of the alley to the street beyond.
"Stop guessing you know what's in my head," Jim says in irritation. He's trying to drag his heels, but Spock's stupidly strong and adamant. "You keep thinking you know what's going on, but come on! We barely know each other, so there's no way you can just automatically know. Wouldn't it be better to ask me what's up?"
Spock does pause at that, though the forbidding expression on his face isn't exactly promising. "It is true that, as you say, we do not know one another very well. That is all the more reason that such intimacies between us are inadvisable. I am not aware of your experiences or the possibility you might be misled by me into performing activities you do not truly desire. I cannot allow myself to continue this -- entanglement under such circumstances." He forcibly takes Jim's arm once again, escorting him with clear insistence toward the curb.
"Look, if I wasn't willing, I would sure as hell say so," Jim says, getting more and more annoyed at Spock herding him around. "You might not have figured this out already, but I'm not exactly shy. And I do -- listen, I like you," he says roughly, finally managing to side-step Spock's steering arm and bring them to a halt on the sidewalk. He's doing his damnedest not to blush like a kid confessing a schoolyard crush. "Maybe we don't know each other enough, but I want to, you know. Get to know you a lot better. I think we should hang out. Um, go on some dates. Maybe it sounds crazy because we haven't spent a ton of time together, but I keep thinking there's a real connection between us. That seems worth finding out about, right? Look," he tries again desperately when Spock's face goes from skeptical to blank, "All I know is that I've never felt this way about anyone before. Even if it's weird to feel so drawn to a guy I don't know much about, I don't want to miss out on what we could have if we try."
When Spock doesn't reply, instead making a sharp motion with one arm as if he's utterly fed up, Jim rolls his eyes and tries to grab him to get his attention. "What do you say? If we don't know each other enough, we can fix that. Don't you want to try this out for real?"
But Spock is way too freaking deft. He wasn't just gesticulating a minute ago; he's already somehow hailed a cab on this quiet street. Now, before Jim can figure out Spock's next defensive move and counter it, Spock has already draped his sleek black coat around Jim's shoulders (discreetly covering Jim's torn t-shirt and bared skin) and bundled Jim into the taxi's back seat.
"Again, please accept my apologies," Spock starts as soon as he's shut the vehicle's door. He looks like he wants to stalk away, but Jim's already lowered the window. Apparently Spock feels like the situation merits one last killjoy pronouncement.
Jim huffs out a frustrated noise and ignores the driver asking him where he wants to go. "You know what? Stop saying you're sorry for what we just did!" There's determination thrumming through Jim's body as he waves off the cabbie's repeated inquiries and leans out the open window to look Spock right in the eye. At this very second, despite all the misgivings and crises of confidence about Spock along the way, Jim has never felt more certain about anything. "You know what you should feel bad about?"
"I assume you are about to inform me," Spock says, his face an eerily expressionless mask and his body rigidly erect.
"You should apologize because we both know there could be something fantastic between us. And instead of doing whatever you can to grab on to that, to something people search for their entire lives, you're running the other way. I think you're incredible, and I think we could be pretty amazing together if we give it a try, but right now? You're acting like a coward."
Spock's eyes go hard at that, and he pivots on his heel to move off at a brisk pace. He doesn't look back once, just disappears around a corner.
When Jim can't see him anymore, he rests his hand flat on the glass of the window and tries to breathe. His heart feels like it's going to explode in his chest.
"Where to?" asks the cabbie again indifferently, as though the world hasn't just ground to a halt on its axis.
It doesn't matter, part of Jim wants to answer. Now it's not just a hypothetical scenario, Spock rejecting him. He's actually turned his back on Jim, walked away from what they could be together.
If Jim was smart, now's about the time he would throw in the towel. He could do his level best to forget about Spock. He could even get the hell out of New York, tell the cabbie to take him to J.F.K. and head right back to Iowa like his mom and everyone else he knows probably expects. It's not such a crazy idea. After all, Jim never thought this modeling thing would last as long as it did. Maybe Sulu and Scotty would miss him once in a great while. Maybe Bones would shake his head when he finds out and say it's a damn shame that Jim never followed through. But really, would it matter to anyone else?
Instead Jim crosses his arms and glares at the spot where Spock was only moments ago. "It does matter," he says aloud. It matters more than anything he's ever gone after in his entire life. Jim Kirk isn't going to back off from a challenge without fighting for what he wants.
"Kid, you've got to figure out where you're headed next," the man at the wheel says in exasperation.
"Yeah, okay, I've got it," Jim mutters. He rattles off his street address before he starts thumbing through his list of contacts on his phone. Maybe Spock feels like there shouldn't be anything between them, but Jim's going to prove him wrong.