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“You should take her out.”

 

Spock looked up from his lunch to fix his commanding officer with a questioning look. “Sir?”

 

“Cadet Uhura,” Captain Pike clarified, waving the sandwich he held in the general direction of her retreating back. “Take her out sometime. She’s obviously got it bad for you.”

 

Spock took a moment to decipher that particular tangle of Human phraseology. “You are encouraging me to escort Cadet Uhura to a social engagement, because you believe that she has developed feelings of a romantic nature towards me.”

 

“Got it in one,” Pike grinned, and took a generous bite. “We’ll have you speaking Standard like a native yet.”

 

“With all due respect, Captain,” Spock said, “I am not certain that is a wise idea.”

 

“Sure it is. Gotta understand idiom if you’re going to be living primarily among Humans for the majority of your life.”

 

“Sir, that is not the subject to which I was referring.”

 

“Yeah, I know; it’s just fun to mess with you from time to time.” He shook his head and took a drink of his coffee. “She’s not your student anymore, Spock. It’s above-board. And I think it’d be good for you to get out once in a while. You’re either teaching, or in your office, or in the labs, or going over ship’s business with me. You need to take some time just for yourself, even if it’s just an hour every day. It would be good for you to go out, and it would be even better for you to go out with Nyota Uhura. When you’re around her . . . well, it’s the most Human I’ve ever seen you.”

 

Spock raised an eyebrow. “There is no need to be insulting, sir.”

 

Pike laughed. “My apologies,” he said, but then his face sobered. “I’m gonna say something now that you’re probably not going to be wild about, but I’m trusting you to remember that in addition to being your superior officer, I’m also the closest thing to a friend I think you have.” Blue eyes locked intently on brown. “I know how important being and acting Vulcan are to you. But you should remember that you’re half-Human, as well. Human enough to be here instead of at the VSA. I’m not trying to say you should reject your Vulcan half; but maybe think about giving your mother’s contribution a little bit more consideration.” He sat back. “And that’s more than my fair share of meddling for the month.”

 

Spock was unsure exactly how to respond, and for several long moments they ate in silence. He knew that if he wished it, the subject would be dropped completely. And there was a part of him that very much wished to do just that—to pretend that such an uncomfortable topic had never been broached and simply finish his lunch before moving on to ship’s business. However, he held a great deal of respect for Captain Pike, and could not bring himself to so casually disregard his advice.

 

“If I may inquire,” he said a bit stiffly after a moment, and waited for Pike to gesture for him to finish. “What, precisely, makes you so certain of her regard?”

 

 

*****************************
 

 

The first thing that Spock noticed about Catspaw was the smell of smoke. The acrid sting of Terran cigarettes mixed with the slightly sweeter scent of Andorian tobacco and the unmistakable earthiness of Betazoid cigars, all of it layered over the stale remains of several decades’ worth of fumes. Surprisingly, Spock found that the odor was not as unpleasant as he might have expected. It reminded him, in fact, of his father’s study: though Sarek himself had never smoked, many of the politicians that he met with did, and he allowed them to indulge themselves within the confines of that one room. Thoughts of Vulcan and his father always carried with them a certain amount of regret, but Spock found that on the whole he was gratified to be reminded of the place he had called home for the first eighteen years of his life.

 

Once the olfactory sense of the place had been determined, his attention turned to the other aspects of the establishment. The ceilings were high, a legacy of the grand ballroom that the building had once housed. That ballroom had long ago been split down the center into two smaller apartments. The side that Catspaw occupied was just large enough for a bar, a scattering of tables, and a small dance floor. Opposite the bar was a modest stage, and Spock was surprised to see a live band seated there, what he believed was referred to as a jazz quintet. The music they played seemed to float quietly through the room; Spock was seized by the sudden irrational thought that were he to look up, he might see the notes trapped against the ceiling.

 

Clearly he had been living around Humans for far too long.

 

It came abruptly to Spock’s attention that he was simply standing in the doorway, as though reluctant to take that final step into the establishment; foolish when he had come this far already. Yet his mind insisted on remembering the myriad of more useful activities that he might be pursuing. There was an experiment running in the secondary Science Lab that might benefit from his observation; he had a thick stack of term papers from his Interspecies Ethics class that he had yet to mark; there were final adjustments to be made to his proposal for adaptations to the Kobayashi Maru exam. The responsible thing to do—the Vulcan thing to do—would be to turn around, go back to campus, and engage in any one of the more efficient uses of his time.

 

It was that thought, and the fact that he could hear that recommendation in the voices of the Vulcan Science Academy Admission Panel, that let him straighten his shoulders and finally step inside. He had defied them once, and while it may have taken him just over seven years and several light-years, he was ready to do so again now.

 

Though it was early in the evening, the tables were few enough that they were filling up quickly. Rather than occupy one by himself and deprive a larger group of a place to sit, Spock chose a seat at the bar. It was, he found, less than ideally comfortable, but within acceptable parameters. He sat, back stiff and straight, as the bartender meandered his way towards him.

 

“What’ll you have?”

 

“Your advertisement on the networks indicated that you serve Pyrellian ginger tea,” Spock said, and though the man’s eyebrows raised he nodded.

 

“Yeah. One Pyrellian ginger tea, coming up.”

 

Spock allowed himself to relax slightly when his drink arrived, savoring the tea’s bite and the underlying hint of sweetness. This particular drink was difficult to come by, and had been one of the major deciding factors in his choice of locations. He was pleased to find his choice justified. The music, he realized, was remarkably pleasant as well, and he added another notation to the pro/con list that he was keeping in his head.

 

He was savoring his second cup of tea when the door opened for the first time since Spock had sat down. He glanced up in mild interest as a young man clattered his way down the short flight of stairs and made his way, grinning, to the far end of the bar. The man hopped onto a stool in front of the bartender and received what seemed, to Spock, to be a fond smile in return.

 

“Hey, Jimmy,” the bartender said, setting down the glass he held and tossing the rag he had been using to polish it over one shoulder. “Usual?”

 

“No, I have work later, and Aylin will have my hide if I turn up with hard liquor on my breath. I’ll just have a glass of the House red.” Though Spock’s gaze had turned politely back to his tea, he could feel the stranger’s eyes fixed suddenly on him. “Hey.” He had lowered his voice, but not enough to go undetected by Vulcan hearing at such a short distance. “Who’s that?”

 

“A customer,” the bartender said in unmistakable exasperation. “You think I get everyone’s name who sits down for a drink?”

 

“He’s all by himself.” A pause. “Maybe I should go find out his name, since you can’t be bothered.”

 

“Jimmy.” This in a warning tone. “You know how I feel about—”

 

“Relax, Johnny. I said I have work later, didn’t I? I’m just going to go introduce myself. And hey, I haven’t even had a drop so far, so I’m still capable of taking a hint. I won’t lose you a customer.”

 

“You’re damned right you won’t. He’s on his second cup of that expensive imported tea; I’ll throw your ass out if it looks like you’re bothering him.”

 

“Said with all due love and affection, I’m sure.”

 

“Whatever. I’m keeping an eye on you.”

 

Spock sipped calmly at his tea as he heard the man move towards him and settle on the next stool over. His throat cleared softly, but Spock found himself speaking before the other man could manage a word.

 

“What precisely do you plan to do,” he asked calmly, attention still on the cup in his hands, “if you are unsuccessful in obtaining my name?”

 

There was a startled silence, and then a laugh. “Make one up for you. I’ve gotten pretty good at it; I strike out more than I’d like to admit.”

 

Spock looked over at last and froze in the face of a brilliant smile and the brightest blue eyes he had ever seen. It was an arresting sight, but he recovered quickly and managed to raise an eyebrow. “Strike out?”

 

“Yeah. Look, I’m sorry for coming up to you out of nowhere like this; I’m not trying to be a creep, I swear.” The smile dimmed slightly, became wry and somehow winsome. “I’m just cursed with this insatiable sense of curiosity.” He shrugged. “I come in here a lot, and I’d never seen you before. I’m Jim, by the way.”

 

“I am Spock.” He waited, half-expecting Jim to stand up and leave now that he had achieved his objective. Jim, however, merely sipped at his wine and smiled again.

 

“Spock,” he repeated. “Nope,” he said, shaking his head, “nowhere near the name I would’ve come up with. Then again, I’ve never actually met a Vulcan before, so my range of experience is limited to say the least.” He considered Spock for a moment. “So why are you sitting at the bar?”

 

“Is there any particular reason why I should not?” Spock asked, nonplussed.

 

“You’re not the barstool type,” Jim said easily. “I worked as a bartender for a year and a half; I can tell the difference. It’s all in the body language,” he confided. “So, there are tables open, you’d rather be sitting at one . . . why are you sitting at the bar?”

 

There was something distinctly discomfiting about being so easily analyzed by a complete stranger, but Spock saw no reason not to provide a straightforward answer.

 

“It seemed rude for a single person to occupy a table when a larger group might require its use.”

 

Jim blinked at him at him once, twice. “It seemed . . . rude . . .” A slow grin began to spread over his face. “Well, there’s two of us now. What do you say we go grab some more comfortable seats? That is,” he amended, “if you don’t mind my company for a while longer.”

 

Spock considered. This man was, without a doubt, as boisterous an example of Terran humanity as Spock had ever encountered. His casual insistence on conversation with a complete stranger would be considered profoundly rude on Vulcan—not at all within the accepted parameters of polite interaction. However, Spock reflected, most Vulcans would also frown on Spock having entered this sort of establishment in the first place. Metaphorically speaking, of course; Vulcans did not frown.

 

“I would not be averse to a change in location,” Spock answered after several moments’ consideration, watching the other man carefully.

 

He expected Jim to smirk with triumph, or perhaps even to turn to his friend to exclaim his victory. Neither reaction would have been outside of the realm of Spock’s experience; in his first months on Earth, attempting to speak with the Academy’s only Vulcan had been regarded as something of a sport. Had Jim done anything of the kind, Spock would have left without a second thought. Instead Jim simply grinned and rose to his feet, picking up his wineglass and gesturing with a nod of his head for Spock to follow.

 

They seated themselves at one of the smaller tables, and Spock, no longer feeling as though he were somehow on display, felt tension he had not acknowledged slowly drain from his shoulders.

 

“So.” Jim settled easily in his chair and took a leisurely sip of his wine. “You’re Starfleet, huh? What’s your focus?”

 

Spock blinked and glanced down at himself, confirming that he had, in fact, remembered to change out of his uniform. Sure enough, he was wearing a set of his warmer robes against the early-autumn chill. “May I ask how, precisely, you were able to come to the conclusion that I am a member of Starfleet?”

 

“Oh, I can spot ‘Fleet a mile away.” Jim’s eyes sparkled even in the dim light. “It’s a natural talent.”

 

Spock raised an eyebrow. “An oddly specific one,” he remarked mildly, and Jim laughed.

 

“Are you implying that I’m being less than forthright?”

 

It took a moment for Spock to place the tone in Jim’s voice. He recalled a conversation with Captain Pike, however, all stiff confusion and amused explanation, and came to surprising conclusion that Jim was teasing him. Another shocking liberty, and another unsettling realization when Spock realized that he did not object.

 

“I merely question the probability of a person being genetically predisposed to recognize Starfleet personnel on sight. However, I confess that I am equally at a loss to explain why and how someone not native to the area would have developed such a skill.”

 

There was something cool in Jim’s eyes by the time Spock finished, and his smile looked somehow tight around the edges. “Let’s just say that my oddly specific skill set isn’t always appreciated by the ‘Fleet’s fresh-faced recruits. I’ve found it’s generally easier and more pleasant to avoid them altogether.”

 

Spock hesitated, suddenly unsure. “Have I said something to give offense?”

 

“No.” Jim’s smile began to thaw. “No, you haven’t. I just . . . hey wait a minute, how’d you know I wasn’t from San Francisco?”

 

“Your diction and inflection,” Spock said immediately. “The length of your vowels and the pattern of your opener components indicate a Midwestern origin, though your speech is overlaid with the presence of enough inconsistent monophthongs to indicate that you have likely lived in this area for several years.”

 

Jim blinked, and when he laughed again the last traces of his displeasure had vanished. “Well, I guess that answers the question about your focus.”

 

Spock lifted an eyebrow in response. “In fact, my focus was in computer programming. I do, however, teach advanced phonology as a part of my current officer training.” He drained the last of his tea and fixed Jim with a thoughtful look. “May I ask a question?”

 

“I certainly haven’t held back so far,” Jim said agreeably. “Go for it.”

 

“If you make a habit of avoiding Starfleet personnel, why did you approach me?”

 

“Ah. Well.” Jim chuckled ruefully. “My sense of self-preservation is occasionally overruled by curiosity. Like I said, I’m in here most every day and I’ve never seen you before. Hell, I’ve never seen a Vulcan in person before at all, much less sitting in a bar.” He grinned. “I just couldn’t help myself.”

 

“I see. Vulcans are not generally given to patronizing drinking establishments; it is unsurprising that you have never encountered one here before.”

 

“So why are you here, then?” Jim asked, leaning forward. “If you don’t mind me asking, that is,” he added when Spock hesitated, unsure of exactly how to qualify his intent.

 

“I am here for research purposes,” he said at last, and interest made Jim’s eyes impossibly brighter.

 

“Huh. Like an anthropological study? Observing Humans in a natural habitat? Or at least, an artificial one that’s so firmly established that it’s treated as natural. That sort of thing?”

 

Both of Spock’s eyebrows lifted then in surprise. “That was not my meaning, but it is an interesting hypothesis.” He resisted the urge to follow that fascinating line of thought in order to answer Jim’s original question. “I am considering the possibility of inviting a woman of my acquaintance to accompany me on a social engagement.”

 

“Ahh,” Jim said with a grin, leaning back in his chair again. “That kind of research. I’m guessing you probably don’t really get out too much yourself.”

 

Spock took another drink of his tea in order to clear his throat. “I participate in and supervise various extracurricular activities at the Academy. And I will be taking part in several training missions as part of my teaching duties. However,” he acknowledged, “I spend the majority of my time furthering my studies. It is my goal to attain the rank of Commander within another year.”

 

“Lofty aspirations.” Jim glanced around. “So why here? What made you choose Catspaw for your . . . ah, research?”

 

“I have been given to understand, from the conversations that I overheard among several groups of cadets, that an appointment to meet for drinks is considered an appropriate first foray into Human courtship.”

 

Jim’s lips pressed together, and Spock waited for a witty rejoinder. “Eavesdropping, Spock?” Jim asked at last, his eyes alight with mischief. “That hardly sounds like conduct becoming an officer.”

 

Spock felt a flush trying to rise to his cheeks and ruthlessly forced it back down. “Vulcan hearing is twice as sensitive as Humans’; it is hardly my fault if I overhear when people speak at an inappropriate volume in my presence.”

 

Jim laughed again; Spock found his attention caught on the way his eyes crinkled at the corners. “You’re right,” Jim said with a gracious nod. “My mistake. So, what else did you accidentally overhear? There must’ve been something to make you choose this place.”

 

“They had posted their menu online.” Spock glanced down at the nearly empty tea cup on the table in front of him. “I have a fondness for Pyrellian ginger tea.”

 

“Huh.” Jim sipped at his wine, his eyes thoughtful. “There must be other places around town that serve that, though. You picked a bar,” he pointed out, “not a tea house.”

 

“It was implied that coffee or tea was generally regarded as unacceptably ambiguous,” Spock admitted.

 

“Something that you might suggest if you only wanted to be friends, huh?”

 

Spock blinked in surprise. “Yes. I believe ‘just friends’ was the term I overheard. Is this a common Human understanding, the association of different beverages with varied levels of emotional intimacy?”

 

“Pretty much,” Jim agreed. “You’re definitely on the right track. But . . .” He hesitated. “This is a young girl we’re talking about here, right?”

 

“She is twenty years old; five years younger than I am,” Spock confirmed. “Is that significant?”

 

Jim visibly hesitated again. “Not necessarily. Just that this place . . . it has more of an appeal for an older generation. Not a lot of cadets choose to come here. If you’re looking for someplace geared more for people our age I’d try The Ion Storm down by the waterfront. I used to bartend there; it gets a pretty good crowd on the weekends.”

 

“I am . . . not overly comfortable in crowds,” Spock admitted. “And I find that large groups of Academy cadets, in particular, tend to generate a great deal more noise than I generally prefer.”

 

“Fair point,” Jim conceded. “And hey, I don’t know this girl from Adam; I could be totally off-base.” Spock raised an eyebrow, but was prevented from inquiring into who Adam might be by the sound of an alarm that shrilled from the watch on Jim’s wrist. His companion seemed as startled by the sound as Spock was, and glanced at the time with a frown. “Shit, I have to get to work.” He drained the last of his wine and offered Spock a smile as he stood. “Sorry for prying into your business like that; I did warn you about my curiosity. And hey, if you do decide to bring your girl here, I’d make it a little later. The band has a singer that performs with them sometimes, but she doesn’t come on until seven-thirty or eight.”

 

“Thank you,” Spock said, at something of a loss. “Your insight has been helpful and most appreciated.”

 

“No problem.” Jim paused for a moment, then shook his head and smiled again. “Like I said, I’m in here for an hour or two most every day. It’s been good talking to you, Spock; I hope I see you around again soon.”

 

“An agreeable possibility,” Spock replied, and Jim smiled one last time before he left with a small wave over his shoulder.

 

Only when he had been sitting by himself for several minutes, debating the idea of staying for another cup of tea, did Spock realize that he had never gotten Jim’s last name.

 

 

*****************************
 

 

“Hey, Ruth.” Jim leaned against the Velocity reception desk and winked at the pretty blonde sitting behind it. “Messages for me?”

 

“Always,” she said with a smile, and opened one of her meticulously organized file boxes. “Mostly references, but there’s a couple in here who called off of your card.” She handed him several slips of paper that he took with a grin.

 

“Gotta love that extra commission. Maybe I’ll get enough this month to take you out in the style you deserve.”

 

“I wouldn’t count on it,” she replied wryly, “considering it would have to be on another planet entirely. Ms. Morganth would kill me if I tried to take up an entire evening of your time.”

 

“She’d never get rid of you; no one else could ever learn your system. But speaking of my valuable time, do I have anything down for tonight? I was still open when I checked this morning, but I’ll bet I could reel in one or two of these if I need to.”

 

“Let me see.” Ruth punched a series of quick commands into her screen, then double-checked against the pen-and-paper log. “Nope, it looks like you have a last-minute booking. It’s in-house; I’m sending the details to your PADD now. Lucien Venning again.” She quirked an eyebrow at him and the expression on her delicate face nearly made him laugh. “This is, what, the sixth time this month?”

 

“You’d know better than I would,” he said with a pointed look at her logbook. “And I happen to be very personable.”

 

“I suppose that’s—” She cut off, a frown furrowing her brow as she sniffed suspiciously at the air. “Jimmy. Tell me you haven’t been smoking.”

 

He pointed at her. “You have no faith in me. I haven’t been smoking; I just stopped in at Catspaw for a little while. One glass of red wine,” he said before she could ask, “I promise. It’s good for the heart, and I’m gonna need it if you keep breaking mine.” He winked at her again and she snorted as he headed for the elevator.

 

“It’s a very simple system, you know,” she called after him, and this time he let himself laugh.

 

Jim glanced over the information that had appeared on his PADD. It was all pretty standard; Lucien was one of his regulars, and it didn’t look like he was looking for anything out of the ordinary. This was a job Jim could do in his sleep—possibly literally, he thought with a smirk. He wouldn’t, of course; Jim prided himself on his professionalism, on giving every job his best. It was one of the things that made him so popular, and in a company filled with people who had no trouble bringing in new clients he had more regulars than any three of his coworkers combined.

 

Still, that was something he wouldn’t have to worry about just yet. With an hour or so left before his appointment, he keyed in his access code to his preparation room, stripping down as soon as the door clicked shut behind him. As he stepped into the shower he let his mind wander back over the last couple of hours at Catspaw. He never would have thought that a Vulcan would have been so . . . what? The intelligence hadn’t come as a surprise, but Jim hadn’t anticipated the ease with which they’d fallen into conversation. He was willing to bet Spock hadn’t expected that, either, and Jim thought with a laugh that he’d really been phenomenally lucky that Spock hadn’t taken offense at Jim’s nosiness.

 

It really wasn’t like him to pry so bluntly into a stranger’s business; a large part of his job, after all, was knowing when to shut the hell up. It might have taken him a while to learn that lesson, but after four years at Velocity he knew it now by heart. Still, the ease of conversation with Spock had caught him off-guard; he’d almost felt like he was seventeen again, flirting with no more incentive than a pretty pair of eyes.

 

And yes, Spock did have pretty eyes, Jim thought with a grin, drying himself briskly. But he hadn’t been flirting. Well. Maybe just a little; it was second nature for him, and something he’d never felt the need to curtail. But, he reminded himself, it hadn’t been flirting with intent, which made all the difference. Still, he hoped he’d see Spock again. He too seldom got to talk with anyone about anything other than work.

 

It was time to focus now, though, and Jim pushed those thoughts to the back of his mind. He stuffed his street clothes into a duffel bag and dressed instead in the pants from his best suit and a simple white button-down, open at the collar to bare the hollow of his throat. Once his hair had been carefully styled, every strand in place, Jim ran his hands through it briskly, considered his reflection and did it once more. While many of his clients preferred him freshly and immaculately groomed, Lucien always liked it best when he could pretend that Jim had been sitting around all day, waiting for him.

 

The suite had already been prepped, so all there was left for Jim to do was open the champagne chilling in a silver bucket near the window. He was pouring the second glass when the door opened and Lucien walked in.

 

“Jim.” Pale green eyes crinkled in a smile, and he reached up to push his dark hair back from his forehead. “As always, you are a sight to behold. There are none like you in London, and believe me, I searched high and low.”

 

“You’re not looking too bad yourself,” Jim answered with a smile, and handed over one of the flutes. “You still haven’t gotten that haircut,” he murmured, lifting a hand to let his fingers sift through the thick dark strands. “I like it; it makes you look a little bit dangerous.”

 

“It makes me look unkempt,” Lucien countered, but his obvious pleasure was reflected in his eyes. He took a sip of his champagne and reached out to pull Jim into a loose embrace. “Or possibly disreputable, if Ruth is to be believed.”

 

“She didn’t give you a hard time, did she?” Jim smirked, tugging lightly at a lock of hair. “That’s my job.”

 

“Oh, Jim,” Lucien groaned, even as he laughed. “That was terrible. Really, really awful.”

 

“Better shut me up, then.”

 

 

When their mouths finally met, Jim allowed himself a brief moment to wonder if Lucien had been born in London, and whether or not Spock could give him an answer simply based on how the older man formed his words. Then the kiss deepened, and it was quite a while before Jim allowed himself to think of anything at all.



 

Chapter Text




Spock paused at the door, suddenly hesitant, though he could not have said why. His decision to return to Catspaw in order to confirm his initial impressions had been a logical one. Standing in the doorway, however, blocking foot-traffic and letting the climate-controlled air leech out into the street, was decidedly illogical. He was not accustomed to questioning his own decisions once he had made them; the fact that he was doing so now was highly unsettling.

And he still had not moved.

Chiding himself for his own foolishness, Spock stepped inside. It was strange to find that the scents and sounds of the establishment already seemed familiar to him. A ridiculous notion—he had only been there once before, and a single visit could not have engendered so deep a connection.

“Hey.” The same man was running the bar, and though he raised his eyebrows he did not seem displeased to see Spock again. “The Vulcan with the tea. Same thing?”

“Please,” Spock said, carefully masking his own surprise. After all, he was likely the only Vulcan to have ever dared to enter Catspaw at all; it was hardly unreasonable for the bartender to recall his drink preference.

“I have to say,” the man caught Spock off guard by saying as he set about brewing the tea, “I’m glad you like this stuff. I think you’re the first person to order any in a month; I was afraid we were gonna be stuck with the bags we bought until Judgement Day.”

Spock recognized the practice of ‘small talk’ as one commonly practiced in Terran society, and though he had never excelled at it, as an ambassador’s son he understood the value of accommodating other cultures wherever possible. “It is not a popular drink?” he eventually asked in return, subduing his confusion as to whom or what might be coming under judgement.

“Nah,” the man answered. “We get mostly Humans in here, and this stuff is way too bitter for most of them.”

“The Vulcan spice tea to which I am accustomed is actually a great deal bitterer than this. In comparison, I find this tea to be pleasantly sweet.” He paused, considering. “I confess to some surprise that you do not receive more patronage from non-Terrans. As the seat of Starfleet Command, this city has no shortage of extraterrestrial visitors and citizens.”

“Well, we’re a little too quiet for the tastes of most Academy cadets, and that’s where most of the non-Terrans are centered in this neighborhood. So we get mostly locals, and around here that means Humans. Hell, my boss only put this stuff on the menu in the first place to try to class the place up a little.”

“I see.” In truth, he did not. He had found that Humans were given to speak in what seemed at times to be a deliberately obtuse manner.

“Well, I guess it sort of worked. Never seen a Vulcan in here before, after all.” Another patron walked up at the other end of the bar, and the man gave a final nod. “Enjoy the tea, and let me know if you need anything else.”

Spock quickly decided that he would claim one of the open tables now, and simply be prepared to relinquish it should the need arise. He settled with his tea and a PADD, unlocking the sequence that would allow him to access the code he was working to modify. The music was rather livelier this evening than it had been the last, but Spock found that it did not impair his concentration as he may have anticipated. He was deep into the third subprogram when he looked up, for no logical reason that he could discern, in time to see Jim making his way up to the bar.

Though he was too far away to hear what was being said, Spock clearly saw the bartender nodding in his general direction as he deposited a beer in front of his friend. Jim turned, curiosity clear on his face. It faded into a smile when he saw Spock, and a hand lifted in a friendly wave. Spock nodded his acknowledgment and, unsure what else might be expected, turned back to his PADD.

It was, then, with no small amount of surprise that he glanced up again to see Jim walking his way.

“Hey,” Jim said, stopping beside the table. “I didn’t expect to see you here again so soon.” He glanced at the PADD in Spock’s hand and paused, brow furrowing for a moment before smoothing again. “So, is she here?”

“I . . . my apologies. To whom are you referring?”

“Your mystery girl, the one you were thinking of asking out. Did you bring her with you this time?”

“Ah.” Spock inclined his head. “No, I have . . . not yet determined if that would be a desirable course of action.”

“Oh. Well, in that case.” Jim nodded to the empty chair beside his hip. “Mind if I sit?”

“No. I would be pleased with the company.”

Jim grinned and sat. “So. You’re here by yourself.”

Spock raised an eyebrow. “Clearly.”

“Well . . . yeah.” Jim laughed sheepishly. “But it’s unusual, you know?”

“You appear to be unaccompanied as well,” Spock said.

“Fair enough. But I didn’t bring reading material,” Jim answered with a pointed look at Spock’s PADD. “Can I ask what it is?”

Spock swallowed the urge to correct the Human’s grammar—he had learned quickly that this tendency was often seen as pedantic at best. “I am modifying the code for a program I intend to submit for use at the Academy.”

“Yeah?” Spock was fascinated to confirm that Jim’s eyes did, in fact, grow noticeably brighter when his interest was caught. “What kind of—wait, you’re sitting here working?”

“Is that considered unacceptable?” Spock asked, only barely resisting a frown. “If I have committed a social misstep—”

“No, it’s not—it’s just . . .” Jim laughed. “Unusual,” he said again. “That’s all. Most people come to a place like this to get away from work. To unwind; relax,” he clarified.

“I do not enjoy idleness,” Spock admitted.

“What about conversation? Does that qualify as idleness?”

Spock lifted an eyebrow. “I believe that would depend on the conversation.”

Jim grinned. “Well, let’s see if we can’t raise the bar a bit, shall we? You’re working on coding. Can you tell me anything about it, or is it classified or something?”

“It is a training program. I am designing it as part of my final practicum. It is not classified, as such, but . . . I believe I would prefer not to share the specifics.”

“Yeah, that’s understandable. Back in high school,” Jim said, settling back into his chair, “I was doing a project for the school’s science fair, right? I was working with high-yield grains; genetic splicing, you know, engineering something that would produce the greatest possible yield without leaving it vulnerable to the diseases and infections that those strains are prone to. Anyway,” he said, waving the subject away, “I had a good chunk of research stored on the school’s database. Someone hacked in and stole all my work, passed it off as his own.” He gave a self-deprecating sort of laugh. “All of which is my long-winded way of saying that I can certainly respect a bit of healthy caution.”

Spock’s brow furrowed, and for once he made no attempt to correct the emotional display. “That is quite a severe transgression. It hardly seems logical to risk expulsion for the sake of an amateur scientific competition.”

“Maybe not,” Jim shrugged. “To be fair, though, it wasn’t too big of a risk. I didn’t exactly have the best academic track record, after all, and I was too concerned with maintaining my image as an apathetic badass to want to spread the news that I was even entering. Hell, I was only doing it in the first place because the grand-prize winner got two hundred credits. There was this bike—a motorcycle, not a velocipede—and I figured that would be the easiest way to get the money for it.”

“I do not understand. Are you saying that the perpetrator was not punished?”

“Nah. I didn’t have what you might call concrete evidence that the research had been mine to begin with. Bastard won the contest with it, too,” Jim laughed, to Spock’s utter bafflement. “I got into computer programming after that; my personal accounts are the next best thing to unhackable these days.”

“And you simply allowed him to steal your work without seeking any type of charges against him?”

“Well. Sort of.” Jim grinned. “I did beat the crap out of him, though.” He shrugged again. “It was a long time ago. I actually haven’t even thought about that kid in years.”

Spock considered for a moment, taking another sip of his tea to cover his hesitation. He wished to pursue this baffling revelation, but it seemed that Jim wished for the subject to be concluded. “If I may ask,” he said at last, “what prompted you to choose such a subject for your research? It seems an unusual topic for an adolescent project.”

“Well.” Jim took a long swallow of his beer. “Had to pick something, I guess. Hey.” He nodded towards the stage. “Looks like they’re about to start up. Did you stick around to hear them last night?”

“No,” Spock said, allowing the obvious subject change to pass without comment. “I had work that I was required to complete.”

“What about tonight?” Jim asked, turning to gesture oddly in the direction of the bar. His motions were met with a nod by the bartender, and Jim’s attention returned to Spock. “Do you have plans for the rest of the evening?”

Spock thought of more code to write, of papers to evaluate and mark, of experiments to conclude and reports to file. “Nothing of pressing importance.”

“Me neither,” Jim said brightly. “I actually have the night off for once. You should stick around; if you haven’t seen Gaila do her thing, you’re in for a treat. Hey, thanks, Caly,” he said with a smile for the young woman who had approached their table with a large tray loaded with a full glass of beer and a fresh pot of tea. “On me,” he said when Spock shot him a questioning gaze. “Sort of a ‘welcome to the neighborhood’ thing. If you don’t mind,” he said belatedly.

Spock searched for the appropriate social script, and after a moment inclined his head. “Thank you, Jim. This is a thoughtful gesture.” He pulled his hands back from where they rested on the table, tucking them into his sleeves as the waitress cleared away the cold pot and dirty cup.

“My pleasure.”

“I . . .” Spock waited until his tea had been poured and they were left alone again. “I am unaccustomed to forming new acquaintances in this manner,” he continued hesitantly. “I seem to be encountering things out of their usual order, so I must ask for your understanding if it is inappropriate at this time to request the information—”

“Spock.” Jim looked somehow amused and exasperated at once. “I promise not to take offense. What is it you want to know?”

So much, Spock realized. He felt a sudden burst of intense curiosity about this near-stranger who sat before him, this man who had somehow put him more at ease in their short acquaintance than anyone had managed since Spock had first come to Earth. The lights dimmed before he could marshal his thoughts again, however, and he blinked his confusion.

“An electrical malfunction?” he wondered aloud, and Jim laughed softly.

“It’s for atmosphere. Ambiance. The show’s about to start. C’mon, you’ve got me dying here; what was it you wanted to ask?”

Spock snapped back to himself then, straightening his shoulders. “It has simply struck me that I have yet to inquire after your last name.”

Jim blinked once, his mouth opening and closing without making a sound. For a moment, faced with Jim’s obvious hesitation, Spock feared that he had indeed crossed one of the obscure lines that defined the bounds of polite Human interaction. Then Jim’s lips curled just slightly, and he said, “Rivers. I’m Jim Rivers.” He glanced quickly towards the stage. “How ‘bout you, Spock? Do Vulcans have last names?”

“We do,” Spock said slowly, his mind flying back to his parents’ faces, his father cold and remote as he turned away from his son, his mother’s streaked with tears as she followed. “My family name, however, is unpronounceable for most Humans. Even my mother has difficulty—”

The musicians abruptly began to play again, and Spock cut off with a mingled sense of gratitude and dismay. It had not been his intention to reveal such a thing. For the second time that night he wondered at how easily this Human was able to draw him from his normal reticence. He could tell, by Jim’s wide eyes, that the meaning of his aborted statement had not been lost on him. It was, however, a concern that would have to be addressed at a later time. At the moment a sweet, sultry voice had started singing, commanding their full attention.

The twinge of suspected recognition had been a momentary distraction for Spock when Jim had mentioned her name earlier. Now it blossomed into certainty as he took in the woman’s green skin and vivid red curls. Starfleet Academy’s only Orion was, after all, every bit as recognizable as its only Vulcan.

Spock turned to Jim with a single eyebrow raised. “You are acquainted with Cadet Vro?” he asked quietly, and Jim blinked back in surprise.

“Yeah. We met a while back, but we didn’t really get to know each other until she started here a few months ago.”

“I see. It would seem, Jim, that your avoidance of Starfleet officers and cadets is not quite so stringent as you might have others believe.”

Jim laughed softly. “Yeah, well. There are just a few notable exceptions to that rule.”

Spock glanced at the smile on Jim’s face and back to the stage again. It was certainly easy enough to see why Jim might have been inclined to make an exception for Cadet Vro. There was hardly a single person—and Spock noticed suddenly that the small bar had grown quite crowded indeed—not drinking in the sight and sound of her, and it was clear that she was thriving on the attention.

Again, Spock found himself torn between two conflicting emotions. The idea that Jim was friendly with Cadet Vro was somehow unsettling to him. Logically, as a San Francisco resident there was a high likelihood of Jim meeting many Starfleet personnel. There was nothing unusual about it. Yet somehow Spock was disquieted by the realization that this new area of his life was connected, however shallowly, to what had come before.

At the same time, however, he could not deny an odd sense of . . . pride, perhaps, at the knowledge that he, too, was one of Jim’s exceptions. It was a disturbing combination, and Spock resolved to meditate upon the matter that night.

For now, he turned his attention back to Cadet Vro. The sight of her struck him with a sort of cognitive dissonance, startling but not altogether unpleasant. This was the same girl who sat in his Advanced Interspecies Ethics class, who took rigorous notes and whose paper on the Klingon conquest of several small planets in the Vani system was one of three he had chosen to recommend for commendation. She stood now in the center of the stage, smugly sultry with a shimmering, slinky green dress—not bare skin, thankfully, despite his first near-panicked impression—in place of her cadet reds.

Fascinating.

The song was one with which Spock was unfamiliar, but he found it pleasant enough; it suited her voice and the atmosphere of the small bar well. All told, he felt that Cadet Vro performed admirably. It was not the sort of performance that Spock would ever have seen on Vulcan, and Spock found that he enjoyed himself all the more for it. As the final notes sounded he glanced over and found Jim grinning at him again expectantly.

“So? What do you think so far?”

“Her talent is not inconsiderable,” Spock replied. Jim’s grin grew wider.

“Woah, don’t go overboard there. No need to get so effusive.”

Spock merely raised an eyebrow, and Jim laughed as the next song began.

It was, Spock discovered to his considerable surprise, a pleasant enough way to spend the evening, albeit far different from the many formal concerts that he had attended. Silence was not expected here, it seemed, as chatter among the patrons ebbed and flowed. He even found himself in conversation with Jim at once point, describing the prominent musical styles on Vulcan and his experience with their presentation. He was gratified by Jim’s attentive interest, amused against his better judgement by the story Jim related of setting off the automated fire prevention system in his high school to avoid being forced to sit through a concert very similar to the one that Spock described. By the time the final song ended Spock was surprised to realize that several hours had passed, hours in which he had been atypically unproductive. Still more remarkably, he was not in the least bothered by his own idleness.

“I’m gonna say hey to Gaila real quick,” Jim said, rising to his feet and looking mildly surprised when Spock did the same.

“If it would be permissible, I would like to accompany you.”

“Well, okay, but you’ve gotta promise me you’re not going to gush all over her and cause a big emotional scene. Try to show a little restraint.”

After a moment’s shock, Spock realized that Jim was not serious. “You are teasing,” he said at last, and heard Jim laugh.

“I am.”

“Most people would find it impolitic to tease a Vulcan.”

“Yeah, well. I’m not most people.”

“Indeed you are not,” Spock said quietly, and followed Jim as he made his way through a small door at the side of the stage. Spock filed away this new information, another small clue to the enigma of this singular Human male.

“Jimmy!”

A blur of green and red appeared out of seemingly nowhere and flung itself at Jim, who laughed again and caught the Orion girl easily around the waist. Spock stood stiffly nearby, looking on as Jim lifted her from her feet for a moment as they embraced. Spock was still, after several years, uncomfortable when witnessing such effusive displays of Human emotion. It was a difficulty, he noted, that Cadet Vro did not seem to share.

“Great job, gorgeous.” Jim was grinning as he set her on her feet. “The dress is a nice touch.”

“I know! It’s perfect, isn’t it?” she beamed back at him, smoothing her hands over her hips and twisting so that the sequins in the fabric caught the light. “It’s thanks to that video you sent me, the cartoon?”

Jim looked as though he were valiantly holding back laughter. “Jessica Rabbit?”

“That’s the one! Exactly what I was going for! Of course, red’s not really my color, but I think the homage still stands nicely.” She paused for a beat, then rolled her eyes. “Well, if you’re not going to introduce me to your friend I’ll just have to do it mys—” Turning at last to fix her full attention on Spock, her eyes widened and her face turned ashen as she cut off with a strange squeaking noise. Frivolous dress aside, she snapped to full attention so swiftly that Spock was briefly concerned for her spine. “P-Professor Spock! Sir.”

“Cadet,” Spock acknowledged with a shallow nod. “My congratulations on your performance.”

“That—I mean, I—thank you, sir,” she said. The mortification on her face did not ease, however, and Spock willed back his confusion.

“It is fortuitous that I have encountered you here,” Spock went on, taking the opportunity that had presented itself. “I wished to speak with you regarding your recent paper on the Klingon incursion. If it is convenient for you, would you come to my office tomorrow morning? My office hours begin at 0900.”

The panic and embarrassment on her face faded slightly as her jaw clenched. “I can assure you that I haven’t been neglecting my studies, sir.”

Spock raised an eyebrow. “It had not occurred to me that that might have been the case.”

“Oh,” she said weakly. “But then . . .” She pressed her lips into a tight line and drew her spine straighter still. “That was 0900, sir?”

“I will see you then, Cadet.” Satisfied, Spock turned to Jim. “If you will excuse me, I believe that I will ascertain that our table has not been commandeered by another,” he said, and with a departing nod to them both turned and strode back out into the crowd.

As it turned out, the waitress—Caly, Spock thought, recalling the name with which Jim had addressed her—assured him that she had defended their seats ardently. Sitting alone at the table, Spock was left to ponder why she would have gone to such lengths, certainly taking the risk of reducing her own gratuities for the evening. That it had been for Jim’s sake he had no doubt. Yet Spock had been able to detect no undercurrent of intimacy to their action that might explain such illogically preferential behavior. He was calculating the likelihood of his ever coming to understand Human behavior—less than four point two five percent—when Jim returned to collapse in the other chair, depositing a plate loaded with steak fries on the table in front of him.

“Damn, Spock,” he said after a moment. “You must be one scary bastard of a teacher.”

Spock straightened his shoulders, reminding himself that Vulcans did not take offense. “I can assure you,” he said stiffly, “that my parents are legally wed by both Terran and Vulcan custom, and were certainly so at the time of my birth.”

“At the . . . shit.” Jim scrubbed a hand over his face. “I’m sorry. It’s an idiom, Spock, it . . . doesn’t translate well, obviously. I didn’t mean to imply—I’ve just never seen Gaila freak out like that before.”

That was an idiom with which Spock was familiar. “What has caused her to ‘freak out’?”

Jim looked surprised for a moment before he said, almost gently, “You did. She wasn’t expecting to see you, or anyone from the Academy. She’s at Catspaw for the same reason I am: Starfleet hardly ever comes here. I didn’t know you were actually one of her professors, or I never would have . . .” He shook his head. “She kept going on about the Academy’s reputation and conduct unbecoming. I think there was even something about court martial at some point.”

Spock lifted an eyebrow. “She has hardly done anything to warrant such concern.”

Jim sighed and steepled his fingers in front of him, regarding Spock seriously. “All right. Look, she’d kill me if she knew I said any of this, but fuck it. There’s nothing more important to that girl than her position at the Academy. She knows that there are certain stereotypes about Orions, and Orion women in particular, and she works very hard to avoid playing into them. And now, tonight, she feels like she fulfilled pretty much every last one of them in front of someone who’s pivotal to the future of her career. Someone she respects. Do you understand?”

“I believe I do,” Spock said slowly, steepling his own fingers in unconscious imitation. “I am . . . not a stranger to the assumptions that might be made based solely on one’s genetic background. However, what I have seen tonight has been in no way enough to cause a logical extrapolation of unacceptable behavior on Cadet Vro’s part. Her mode of dress is certainly unorthodox for a cadet, but as she is not currently representing the Academy in an official capacity I have no authority to censure her for it, nor would I wish to. Her academic record is exemplary, and her insight is remarkable for one in the beginning of her second year.” Spock sat back, satisfied that he had made his point. “I confess that I find my opinion of her unchanged, beyond the additional knowledge that she has a remarkably pleasant singing voice.”

“Well then.” Jim was smiling again, his previously rigid posture relaxed. He picked up a fry and took a bite with obvious enjoyment. “Would you mind if I told her that? It might go a ways towards getting her to forgive me for nearly giving her a coronary.”

“By all means,” Spock permitted with a nod, “if it would ease your relationship with her, I have no objections.” He paused. “Forgive me, but there is a question that has been weighing on my mind.”

“She and I are just friends,” Jim said immediately, and Spock’s eyebrow winged up again.

“Indeed. However, that was not the question to which I referred.”

“Ah.” Jim cleared his throat. “Sorry. So what was it you wanted to know?”

Spock leaned forward, unable and unwilling to conceal his curiosity. “Did you ever obtain the motorcycle you desired as an adolescent?” he asked, and found himself gratified by Jim’s laughter.

Chapter Text

Title: Streetlight People
Author: [info]ladyblahblah 
Artist: [info]cannedebonbon 
Mixer: [info]jouissant 
Beta: [info]ninjaboots 
Series: STXI/Reboot/as you will
Character/Pairing(s): Kirk/Spock; minor/implied McCoy/Gaila, Uhura/Chapel, Pike/Number One, OFC/OFC
Disclaimer: I own everything, but only in my fevered dreams.  Man, my dream!royalty checks are EPIC.  My payment for this in real life, however, is nonexistent.
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: prostitution, mentioned childhood sexual abuse, mentioned genocide, implied violence
Summary: AU. Strangers waitin' up and down the boulevard, their shadows searchin' in the night.  Streetlight people, living just to find emotion; hiding somewhere in the night.
Author's Note: I just want to say that I know way, way too much about the backstory for my random OCs.  It's a little unsettling.  And on a completely unrelated note, super special bonus points shall be awarded to anyone who can spot the Firefly reference.

 

 




Part 1 | Part 2

 

 

 

 

“Carrot sticks?” Jim made a face, though it didn’t stop him from picking up a handful. “Your refreshments are going downhill.” He mock-glared. “This isn’t a subtle hint that I need to lose some weight, is it?”

 

Aylin’s black eyes sparkled and there was a soft creak of leather as she leaned back in her chair. “Jimmy, when have you ever known me to be subtle?” She smiled at the laugh that got her. “Actually, it wouldn’t hurt you to put on a couple of pounds, but you’re well within acceptable bounds. But this is about the results of your last physical. Your cholesterol’s a bit on the high side.”

 

“Haven’t had any complaints about it so far.”

 

“That’s because your clients aren’t paying you to get a peek at your medical chart.” Full lips quirked ever so slightly. “Not most of them, anyway. Well, don’t be shy. Tell me how things are going.”

 

“As well as ever.” Jim reached for another handful of carrot sticks and smirked. “Miss Kinjo’s proving to be a bit of a handful.”

 

“The woman Paul asked to be transferred off his account.” She tapped at her screen, calling up the proper file. “Anything I should be concerned about?”

 

“Nah. She’s just . . . enthusiastic. Too hard, too fast for Paul; you know he likes a slower build-up.”

 

“Personality mismatch; that’s your professional opinion?”

 

“I’d say so. She’s very quiet until the door’s locked. Almost timid.” He grinned. “It’s cute.”

 

“Given her proclivities, ‘cute’ isn’t the adjective I would’ve expected.”

 

“To each their own, I guess. And it comes and goes with her. She’s always very solicitous afterwards, concerned that she might’ve hurt me.”

 

Those black eyes fixed on his again. “Does she?”

 

“That’s what we have safewords for, right?”

 

“It is. Something that you’ve been known to overlook in the past,” she said pointedly.

 

“And I’ve learned my lesson,” Jim said, holding up his hands. “Promise. She’s rough, but she’s not malicious. Never anything that a dermal regenerator can’t take care of.”

 

“And you’ll tell me immediately if that changes.”

 

Jim wasn’t so foolish as to interpret that as a request. “Yes, ma’am.”

 

Aylin winced. “You know I hate it when you call me that,” she complained, and pointed to her hair. “Red, not gray. Until that changes, you keep your honorifics to yourself.”

 

Jim laughed. “As if you’ll ever allow your hair to go gray.”

 

She lifted an eyebrow at him. “I believe that may have been part of my point. Now, any other concerns I should know about?”

 

“Nope. Everything’s going smoothly.”

 

“Good.” She sipped at her tea as she called up Jim’s schedule again. “No long-term engagements planned, I see.”

 

“Nothing longer than a day,” Jim confirmed.

 

“Good,” she said again. “I have a job I’d like you to take.” A few more deft commands sent the file in question to the screen on Jim’s side of the desk. “A personal request from Dama Aneera Moisabi.”

 

Both of Jim’s brows rose as he perused the information in front of him. “A Verinite?” His glanced at the stripes that rose from the woman’s collar up the sides of her neck, dark enough to put her solidly into later mid-life. “I wasn’t expecting to see one of those anytime soon. Verin Prime just joined the Federation, what, last month?”

 

“They did, indeed. However, as the wife of the Verinite ambassador, Dama Moisabi has now found herself in our fair city in her time of need.”

 

“Right.” Jim cleared his throat. “Not to be difficult, but I thought Verinites had a tendency to be a bit, ah . . . territorial when it comes to their lifemates. I feel like this would be a good time to mention that her husband would be covered by ambassadorial privilege if he decided to kill me in a jealous rage. You know I don’t mind rough play, but I’m gonna go ahead and say that would cross the line, even for me.”

 

“Smartass,” Aylin said fondly. “And so little faith in me. The request isn’t for her; it’s for her son. Dalanin Moisabi.” A new file loaded onto Jim’s screen, this time with a picture of a fair-haired man, youth evident in the slightly spare frame and the stripes just barely dark enough to be visible. “Thirty-five Verinite years of age, which translates to about seventeen years in terms of Human-based maturation. It’s Verinite custom to be initiated into sexual congress at that age by a trained pleasure slave, provided by one’s parents. However, as the Federation prohibits slavery they’re having to adapt a bit. Dama Moisabi found us highly recommended, and has decided that this will be a good compromise between their old way of life and the new.”

 

“Hmm.” Jim took a drink of his own tea, gone nearly cold now, as he thought. “I don’t know,” he said at last. “The idea of standing in for a slave isn’t a particularly comfortable one. You’ve met him?”

 

“Of course. I also made the position of our employees’ autonomy quite clear to both him and his mother.” She fixed Jim with a mildly chastising look. “I do, as it turns out, know what I’m doing.”

 

“I know you do. Sorry.” Jim projected his regret as best he could, relaxing only when she did. “So. What did you get from him?”

 

“Excitement,” she said thoughtfully. “Along with a considerable amount of anxiety. He’s quite nervous about the entire prospect. He didn’t experience any arousal at the more advanced services we provide, though he does seem to have a bit of a submissive streak in him. And when he saw your holovid, he blushed. It was . . .” She grinned. “Cute.”

 

“You think you know just how to get to me,” Jim teased. “What do you think you are, an empath?”

 

Aylin laughed loudly at that. “You’ll take him on, then? There are one or two others he expressed interest in, but his reaction to you was by far the strongest.”

 

“How long?”

 

“One week. Off-site, and only nights; your days would be free while he attends to his family’s political obligations.”

 

“A week?” Jim frowned. “I have a few regulars who aren’t going to be thrilled about that.”

 

“You only have one client who’s that regular, and I imagine he’ll be somewhat distracted by the block I’m putting on his account.”

 

What?” Jim sat bolt upright at that. “Damn it, Aylin—”

 

“Jim, must we have this conversation every time?” she asked wearily. “Lucien Venning is getting far too attached to you, and you know it. It’s not a full block; he’s more than welcome to book any of Velocity’s other employees. But I’m sorry, he won’t be seeing you for at least a month.”

 

“A month.” Jim scowled. “I’ve worked damn hard to build that relationship.”

 

“I know you have. That’s precisely the problem,” Aylin pointed out. “Mr. Venning is interpreting your professionalism as legitimate affection for him. He’s made offhand remarks at least twice to the effect of desiring you for his permanent, exclusive use. Are you going to try to tell me he hasn’t approached you with that proposition?”

 

Jim clenched his jaw. “What do you want me to do, start being cold and perfunctory with my clients?” he demanded, ignoring the question. “The warmth that you’re complaining about is exactly what keeps them coming back. It’s what makes me good at my job.”

 

“Yes,” Aylin said impatiently, “and you have a larger client-base than any other three people here put together, so quit whining about temporarily losing one. This isn’t up for discussion, Jim. It’s my responsibility to ensure your safety, and that’s precisely what I’m going to do whether you like it or not. Are we clear?”

 

Jim glared for a moment longer before throwing his hands up. “Fine. Fine. But next time you do this you really ought to have better snacks.” He glanced at the chronometer. “Are we about finished?”

 

“Am I keeping you from something?”

 

“No,” he shrugged easily. “I was just going to see about meeting a friend for a drink.”

 

“Oh?” Her eyebrow rose. “A friend?”

 

“Yeah. A friend. You know, someone whose company you enjoy? Someone with whom you voluntarily spend time without the need for monetary compensation.”

 

“You’re so snippy today,” she said mildly, and a moment later Jim felt a light brush against his mind. His shields came down immediately and Aylin frowned. “It’s really very annoying when you do that, you know.”

 

“You’re the one who taught me how,” he pointed out.

 

“Yes, in case you booked an empathic or telepathic client,” she countered. “Not so that you could shield yourself from your employer.”

 

“My body works for you, Aylin,” Jim said quietly. “My emotions don’t.” He stood. “Is there anything else?”

 

She regarded him thoughtfully before she sighed and let one corner of her mouth curl upwards. “I’m thinking of changing my hair, maybe going a bit more blonde. What do you think?”

 

Jim stared for a moment, finally rolling his eyes and allowing himself a small smile, as well. “I think Ruth would cry,” he said bluntly.

 

“Well.” Aylin’s smile was broad now, and unmistakably pleased. “We can’t have that, can we?”

 

 

*****************************
 

 

“Professor?”

 

Spock looked up from his work, blinking twice before his eyes adjusted to the switch from the screen of his PADD to the reality in front of him. Cadet Uhura was smiling fondly down at him, though she schooled her features a moment later. She was always careful with the expression of her emotions in his presence, cautious of overwhelming him. It was a consideration that few Humans thought to offer. Certainly her behavior was markedly different from—

 

“Professor?” she prompted again; had Spock’s control been any less he might have flushed at this evidence of his lapsed concentration.

 

“You are free to call me by my name,” he reminded her instead, his voice cool and calm as he placed his PADD on the desk in front of him. “I am no longer your instructor.”

 

“No, you’re not.” The look she gave him seemed rather pointed, but he found that its significance eluded him. She let out a quiet breath then, and some of the previous affection returned to her eyes. “But I had a formal request for you, Professor. I think that we might be able to boost the reach of the long-range sensors without sacrificing signal integrity. I’d like to do a test run with some of the equipment from the lab, but I need faculty approval before attempting any modifications.”

 

“I see.” Spock lifted an eyebrow and folded his hands on the desk in front of him. “Have you been withholding information to this point concerning your own latent engineering skills?”

 

“No sir,” she answered with a spark of heat in her eyes. “I haven’t had my acoustical engineering classes at this point in my studies. However, my roommate has an engineering focus; she’d be assisting me.” Cadet Uhura set a PADD in front of him. “She’s highly qualified. I’ve included a summary of both of our relevant skill sets, as well as a detailed outline of what we plan to do.”

 

Spock glanced at the PADD and felt both eyebrows wing up in surprise. “I had not been aware that you shared quarters with Cadet Vro,” he noted.

 

“As I said, she’s very qualified,” Cadet Uhura responded, as the heat in her eyes seemed to transfer momentarily to her voice.

 

“Indeed.” The mild censure in Spock’s tone had her bringing her emotions once more under tight control. “I will review your proposal and give you an answer by the end of the week.”

 

“Thank you, Professor. Spock,” she corrected herself with a small smile, and her body language shifted subtly to something more casual. “So, do you have plans for the rest of the evening, or are you at loose ends like I am?”

 

“Vulcans rarely find themselves ‘at loose ends’,” he said, only half-seriously. “There is always something productive that one might do.”

 

“Of course.” A small smile was playing around her mouth. “If you were planning on working in the lab I could stick around,” she offered. “Give you a hand?”

 

“I have no plans for such work tonight.” Spock let the idiom pass, focused as he was on the intent behind Cadet Uhura’s invitation. “But your offer is appreciated, Cadet.”

 

“You know, if I’m going to call you Spock then you really ought to call me Nyota,” she offered. There was a brief hesitation, and then, “So . . . do you have other plans for tonight, then?” She was expressing a wish to spend time with him, Spock realized; now that Captain Pike had made the observation, Spock found that it was impossible to mistake the hopeful encouragement on her face. Spock swiftly reviewed the facts in his head.

 

He was currently unbonded, and he recognized that he would, at some point in the future, be required to rectify that state. Cadet Uhura was remarkably intelligent, decidedly attractive, and possessed of a personality highly compatible with his own. While he was not, at this time, willing to undergo the commitment that a bond would entail, he acknowledged that she would make a fine candidate for his future bondmate. The logical thing to do, then, would be to initiate a courtship procedure by inviting her to accompany him to Catspaw and spend the evening in his company. And yet . . .

 

And yet, Spock reminded himself, there were other factors to consider. He had hoped to meet Jim there this evening, and he was all too aware now of Jim’s admission that he frequented that particular establishment in large part to avoid Starfleet personnel. The thought of inviting Cadet Uhura there now seemed almost like a betrayal; he could not justify acting in a way that he knew would cause the other man discomfort.

 

Then, too, there was Cadet Vro. Had Jim not explicitly said that she, too, wished to avoid her fellow Starfleet officers and cadets? Spock had no way of ascertaining whether or not Cadet Uhura was, as her roommate, already aware of her . . . musical inclinations; that Cadet Vro appeared not to have passed on news of meeting Spock in such a setting, however, led him to believe that this was not so. In that case, it was certainly not his place to do anything to draw Cadet Uhura’s attention where it was not desired.

 

“I have an appointment to meet an associate,” he said a moment later, satisfied with his decision. A quick check of his time sense had him swiftly placing his PADDs into his satchel. “An appointment for which I will be late if I do not leave immediately.”

 

“I see.” Her disappointment was quickly mastered. “Well. If you don’t need me for anything, then I guess I’ll take Christine up on her offer of a girls’ night out. Dancing, probably,” she said to Spock’s raised eyebrow, and her eyes sparkled with amusement. “I’d say that if you finish with your appointment early you’re welcome to join us, but I’m pretty sure The Ion Storm isn’t really your scene.”

 

“Indeed not,” Spock confirmed. He hesitated then; he did not wish for her to believe that his unavailability tonight indicated that he did not value her company. “Have a pleasant night, Nyota,” he said at last, gratified when her answering smile was too wide to be suppressed.

 

 

*****************************
 

 

Jim was late.

 

No, Spock reminded himself, he was not. They had not, after all, arranged to meet at a specific time. Indeed, they had not arranged to meet at all. It was, therefore, impossible for Jim to be late, as an appointment did not exist.

 

Spock was . . . unsettled.

 

Spock was not worried, precisely. There had, after all, been several nights in the past month and five days when one or both of them had been unable to meet the other. Indeed, there had been a week-long span in which Jim’s work—sales, he had explained, though he seemed reluctant to go into greater detail—had claimed all but a brief hour of his time in the early evenings. Still, the instances in which either of them had been otherwise occupied had always merited at least a casual acknowledgement the preceding night. That Jim had given no such acknowledgement this time seemed out of character.

 

Spock may have been slightly concerned.

 

He did not, he reminded himself, have any true claim on Jim’s time. He could not expect the other man’s presence simply because he himself had an evening free. He had, however, been eager to see Jim tonight in particular. Their conversation five nights prior had turned to the advances being made towards quadrotriticale development, and Spock had recently obtained a copy of the Biogenetics journal that contained the article he had mentioned. He was eager for Jim to read it and offer his opinion. It was, however, hardly a matter of dire urgency. He had been remiss, he knew, in his failure to investigate alternate social settings appropriate for furthering his relationship with Nyota. With Jim absent, this would be an excellent opportunity to undertake that search.

 

Spock resolved to do just that once he had finished his tea.

 

He was deep into modifying the code for a fourth subroutine on the Kobayashi Maru program when someone flung themselves quite suddenly into the seat across from him. He looked up, ready to issue a sharp reprimand, when his eyes met a pair of familiar blue ones.

 

“Hey, Spock,” Jim grinned tiredly, sprawled in the chair in a show of loose-limbed weariness. “God, what a day. Thought I’d never get out of there.”

 

Spock let his eyes take in the man in front of him. A pale linen jacket and pants, along with a simple white button-down open at the collar, had replaced Jim’s usual jeans and t-shirt. His hair, though ruffled, looked as though it had once been carefully styled, and unfamiliar scents clung to him. Sun and the salt of the ocean and the faint, lingering traces of perfume over an unfamiliar musk. Spock lifted an eyebrow.

 

“I take it you were detained by work?”

 

“Yeah.” Jim stretched. “I’d almost forgotten how much a day on the water takes it out of you.”

 

Spock was distracted from asking what, exactly, had been taken out of him by the sight of a large, livid bruise over Jim’s collarbone, visible when the gap at his collar widened as his shoulders shifted. “You are injured,” Spock said, immediately sitting forward in concern. “Do you require medical attention?”

 

“Medical . . .” Jim frowned for a moment before realization and something Spock did not recognize spread over his face. His fingers lifted, brushing lightly over the bruise once before tugging at his collar until it was covered again. “No, I’m fine.” He seemed to search Spock’s eyes for a moment. “It’s nothing,” he said at last. “Just need a couple of minutes with a dermal regenerator, that’s all.”

 

“I see.” Reluctantly, Spock sat back again. “If you are certain . . .” His equanimity thrown, he cast about for something to say. “It is unusual for you to work during the day, is it not?”

 

“Not unheard of, but yeah, it’s not exactly common, either.” Jim glanced around with an exaggerated sigh. “Well. I can’t wait for Caly to work her way over here; I’m gonna go get that beer I’ve been thinking about all day.”

 

“You seem fatigued. I require a new pot of tea,” Spock said, stifling the strange sense of awkwardness that wanted to surface in him. “If you wish to remain seated, I would be willing to bring your drink back along with my own.”

 

“Oh.” Jim blinked in surprise, then shot Spock a grateful smile. “Yeah, thanks, that’d be great. I owe you. Here.” He reached into a pocket and pulled out his wallet, offering it to Spock. “Take this with you. Your tea’s on me.”

 

“That is not necessary.”

 

“Neither is you getting up to get me a drink,” Jim pointed out. “C’mon, I insist.”

 

The look on Jim’s face was well familiar to Spock by now, and he conceded defeat with a mental sigh rather than combat that single-minded determination. He reached out to take the wallet, only to pull back with a startled flinch when his finger accidentally brushed against Jim’s. The contact lasted only a fraction of a second, not enough for him to get more than the faintest impression of Jim’s thoughts. It was enough, however, for a jolt to travel from his fingertip all the way up his arm, as though he had touched a live wire rather than Human skin. He turned away immediately, Jim’s wallet still clutched forgotten in one hand.

 

“Hey,” Johnny said with a nod in greeting, his hands flying over bottles and taps. He spared a quick wink at the two female customers waiting for their drinks before turning his attention to Spock. “Another round?”

 

“For myself and for Jim,” Spock confirmed. “He asked for a beer.” His eyes traveled over the half-dozen taps and his brow creased. “Though he was unspecific as to a brand.”

 

“I’ll just get him his usual. Caly’s on her break, but she’ll be back by the time your tea’s finished brewing. You wanna wait on the beer, too, or take it now?”

 

“I would prefer sooner rather than later.” Johnny handed the women next to Spock their drinks and they moved away; a relief, as the blonde had been edging uncomfortably close to Spock’s personal space. Spock glanced at the wallet in his hand. “I do not believe—”

 

“I wouldn’t,” Johnny warned casually. “If Jim wants to pay, he’ll pay. He’s stubborn as hell, and sneaky with it, too.”

 

Any answer Spock could have made would have been superfluous, so he simply gave another silent sigh and opened the wallet. “Very well.” With a quick glance at the contents, Spock pulled out the appropriate amount of money, handing it over with a raised eyebrow. “However, I would be appreciative if the next round were to be put on my tab.”

 

Johnny grinned as he slid the glass of beer across the bar. “You got it. And hey, tell Jim—” He cut off suddenly as he glanced over Spock’s shoulder, his own shoulders stiffening abruptly.

 

“Is there a problem?” Spock inquired, and looked back to find that the women who had been standing beside him earlier were now hovering beside the table where Jim sat. One of them seemed to be speaking to him, smiling prettily.

 

“Damn it, Jim,” Johnny muttered. “Don’t you freakin’ dare . . .”

 

As they watched, Jim reached inside his jacket and pulled out a small slip of paper. The smiling woman took it, and even from where he stood Spock could see her eyes widen and a flush creep across her features. Unsure if Jim might require assistance, Spock started back across the room. The women saw him approaching before he could pick up the sounds of their conversation and quickly fled with wary looks in his direction. When he reached the table, however, Jim’s smile was easy and relaxed.

 

“Hey, thanks again.” He held out a hand but Spock, wary of another accidental touch, simply set the glass and Jim’s wallet on the table in front of the other man. “Where’s your tea?”

 

“It is being brewed.” Spock sat and regarded the other man. “May I ask a personal—”

 

“Seriously, Spock.” Jim rolled his eyes, but the corners of his mouth were quirked in amusement. “You don’t have to get permission every time you want to ask me something; just ask.”

 

“Very well.” Spock quelled his embarrassment by drawing himself up straighter in his seat. “I was merely curious . . . I have found myself on occasion unable to discourage unwanted romantic interest. However, the method you used to dissuade the young woman who was just speaking with you seems to have been quite effective.”

 

“You know, it’s funny you should put it like that,” Jim broke in with a grin. “She actually came over in the first place because she wanted to know if I’d introduce you to her friend.”

 

Momentarily thrown, Spock simply blinked. “Her friend?”

 

“Yeah, the cute little blonde one. She’s more my type, to be honest, but she only had eyes for you. She was nervous about approaching a Vulcan, though, so her friend asked if they could get an introduction.”

 

“I see.” Spock raised an eyebrow and chose to state the obvious. “They did not remain to obtain that introduction, however.”

 

“Well, I told them that regrettably your attentions were already engaged elsewhere.” Spock felt a flash of alarmed confusion until Jim raised his own eyebrow and said, “Though to be honest, I’m not sure I believe this girl is real anymore. How come you haven’t brought her around yet?”

 

“I am still . . .” Spock abruptly recalled what he had seen and gave Jim’s jacket a dubious glance. “It is doubtful that you have had a statement to that effect printed, and more so still that you would carry such on your person.”

 

“Yeah.” Jim took a long swallow of his heretofore-neglected beer. “I haven’t. Because really, how creepy would that be?” He cleared his throat. “No, I ah . . . see, Anna—that’s the brunette’s name, Anna—was expressing an interest in me, and I’m off the clock. So I gave her my card and told her she’d have to call my agent to make an appointment.”

 

“Your agent.” Spock frowned minutely. “She required your professional services?”

 

Jim’s laugh carried a faintly hysterical tinge. “I guess you could say . . .” He took a deep breath and another long drink. “Look, this is . . . if we’re gonna have this conversation, we really can’t have it here. I live just around the block—that’s why I’m in here so often. I know you haven’t gotten your tea yet, and I’ll owe you one, but would you be all right with going back to my place to talk?”

 

Intrigued, Spock nodded his agreement, and they waited only long enough for Jim to drain the rest of his beer before standing and leaving the bar together. It was, as Jim had promised, thankfully only a short walk. Still too early in the year for the worst of the fog to set it, the night was nevertheless misty and cool, and Spock was eager to be indoors again. They took the lift in silence, Jim apparently lost in his thoughts and Spock willing for the moment to let his own curiosity simmer.

 

Jim’s apartment, Spock decided as soon as the door was unlocked and they stepped inside, was an admirable reflection of his personality. Located on the top floor of a seven-story building, the height was put to advantage with a large picture window that dominated one wall. The furniture was of good quality but well worn, the walls decorated with a handful of brightly-colored prints. However, it was the books that caught and held Spock’s attention. Real bound paper books crowded several large bookcases and sat in scattered piles on every level surface. He found himself having to fight the urge to pick them up, and tucked his hands behind his back.

 

“I don’t want you to think—” Jim said suddenly, the first words he had spoken since they left the bar. “I mean, I didn’t invite you up here to . . .”

 

Spock waited, but Jim seemed unlikely to continue. “I confess that I am uncertain as to why you have invited me here, and I will likely remain so until you enlighten me,” he pointed out.

 

“Yes. You’re right. Do you want something to drink? I don’t have any tea, but I could make some coffee, or there’s water—”

 

“Jim,” Spock said quietly. “Why are you distressed?”

 

“I’m not. Exactly. I just . . .” He sighed and perched on the arm of the couch. “I probably should have told you this earlier, before we started hanging out so much. I wasn’t sure how you’d react though, and . . . that’s no excuse. I have to tell you about what I do.” He reached into his jacket and pulled out a business card, carefully offering it at with his fingertips so that Spock could take it without accidentally touching him again.

 

Velocity,” Spock read, taking note of Jim’s name and a second, unfamiliar one listed as the proprietor. “I am unfamiliar with this company.”

 

Jim shook his head with a rueful smile. “Of course you are.” He inhaled deeply, and when his eyes met Spock’s they were calm and steady. “Velocity is an escort service.”

 

Both of Spock’s eyebrows lifted. “You told me before that you worked in sales,” he said, and Jim winced.

 

“Technically true. It’s just that what I sell is . . . sex. Not in an ‘I’m in advertising and I use provocative images to push my products so I’m actually selling sex’ kind of way, but in a ‘people pay to engage in sexual intercourse with me’ kind of way.”

 

Jim stood abruptly, stepping around a high counter that divided the living room from the kitchen. Spock followed, watching as Jim filled a kettle with water and set it to boil, then pulled a small silver bag from the freezer. Jim transferred several spoonfuls of coffee grounds into a glass beaker and replaced the bag.

 

“I replicate most of my food,” Jim said when he caught sight of Spock standing there, a moment before moving to do just that. He set the sandwich that appeared on the counter between them. “But no matter how many upgrades I get, replicated coffee is still shit. You hungry?”

 

“I am not.”

 

Jim nodded. “Okay.” The kettle began to whistle, and he turned away to pour the boiling water over the coffee grounds. “So,” he said, his back still turned as he stirred the concoction and affixed the lid, “just how pissed off are you?” He glanced over his shoulder with an apologetic smile for Spock’s confusion. “Angry. I need to know how angry you are with me.”

 

“Vulcans do not experience anger.” The response was automatic, and not entirely accurate, but it would serve for now.

 

“No? You’re not upset about . . . anything?”

 

“What is, is,” Spock said calmly. “An emotional response will not change that.” Jim turned to face him fully then, and Spock admitted, “Though I would not have expected you to make your living from selling . . .”

 

“Yeah, well.” Jim pushed away from the counter. “There is more to it than just sex. Velocity offers full escort services, and Aylin’s managed to make a real name for it over the past few years. I do a lot of standing in for executives or politicians who have to attend an event, but for whatever reason can’t or won’t arrange a real date. I’ve been to almost every embassy in town at least once,” he said with a wry grin. “But when you get right down to it, yeah, about ninety-nine percent of my appointments involve sex at some point.” He nodded at the stool on Spock’s side of the counter. “You can sit, you know,” he said, and smiled when Spock did so. His smile faded after a moment, however, and he fixed Spock with a serious look. “I wasn’t sure . . . I mean, I don’t have the first idea about typical Vulcan views on this sort of thing. We’ve never had a Vulcan client that I know of.”

 

“I should imagine not. Prostitution is legal on Vulcan, as it is on all Federation planets,” Spock said, steepling his hands in front of him. “However, the establishments are limited to the major spaceports, as they cater theoretically exclusively to non-Vulcans.”

 

“Theoretically exclusively?” Jim seemed amused as he took a bite of his sandwich and turned to pour the brewed coffee into a pair of mugs.

 

“I am unable, of course, to definitively say that no Vulcans avail themselves of the opportunity for casual sexual release. However, if their activities were discovered, they would be severely ostracized.”

 

“It’s not generally approved of, then.”

 

“Not for Vulcans.” Spock sipped at the coffee Jim had offered him and found it surprisingly pleasant. “We believe that the mind should control the body. While engaging in sexual activity purely for pleasure is not unusual between bondmates as a means of increasing intimacy, to visit a prostitute would be an admission that one’s physical desires had overpowered one’s mental control. To do so once might be excused under extenuating circumstances; however, repeated transgressions would almost certainly lead to a shunning by the community at large.”

 

“Right.” Jim added milk and sugar to his own coffee, and took a deep drink. “So not really something that’s socially acceptable.”

 

“For Vulcans, no,” Spock emphasized. “However, there are many species within the Federation, and most consider sexual gratification to be of extreme importance to ensure their physical and mental health. To impose Vulcan norms and values on them would be highly illogical.” He considered the man across from him. “Why did you not simply tell me the truth, Jim?”

 

Jim shrugged as he took another large bite, his face assuming a mildly sheepish case as he chewed. “It’s not really the sort of thing that tends to come up during your average barroom introduction,” he said after a moment. “And then after a while . . . I enjoy your company. I guess I didn’t want you to think less of me because of my job.”

 

Spock lifted an eyebrow. “I fail to see how it is relevant. Your work is both legal and, for a species as preoccupied with pleasure as Humans are, quite logical. In the course of our acquaintance I have found you to be an intelligent and pleasant conversational companion. Neither of those things are changed by my gaining knowledge of something that has been true as long as we have known each other.” Satisfied that he had made himself clear, Spock reached down to the satchel at his feet and withdrew the copy of Biogenetics he had brought with him. “I have located the article on quadrotriticale that I mentioned last week, if you would care to see it.”

 

Jim blinked as he picked up the journal from where Spock had set it on the counter. “So . . . that’s it? No storming out in disgust, no lecture on the wickedness of my ways?”

 

Spock raised an eyebrow again. “Do you require one?”

 

“No, I just . . .” Jim stared at him for a moment, then shook his head with a laugh. “No. All right, then.” He flipped the journal open to the page Spock had marked. “Let’s talk science.”




>>Part 4

Chapter Text

Title: Streetlight People
Author: [info]ladyblahblah 
Artist: [info]cannedebonbon 
Mixer: [info]jouissant 
Beta: [info]ninjaboots 
Series: STXI/Reboot/as you will
Character/Pairing(s): Kirk/Spock; minor/implied McCoy/Gaila, Uhura/Chapel, Pike/Number One, OFC/OFC
Disclaimer: I own everything, but only in my fevered dreams.  Man, my dream!royalty checks are EPIC.  My payment for this in real life, however, is nonexistent.
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: prostitution, mentioned childhood sexual abuse, mentioned genocide, implied violence
Summary: AU. Strangers waitin' up and down the boulevard, their shadows searchin' in the night.  Streetlight people, living just to find emotion; hiding somewhere in the night.
Author's Note: You didn't really think I'd leave him out, did you?  Of course not. -_-  Another minor character turning up now; TOS fans should have a good idea what's coming.  There's also another illustration for this scene!  Revel in its glory!  REVEL, DAMMIT!  (I laughed for about five minutes straight the first time I saw it.  For reals.)

 

 




Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

 

 

 

 

“Shit!”

 

A quick lunge saved Jim’s PADD from slipping from his fingers, only to jar the earpiece loose from his ear and send a gush of coffee spilling from the top of his cup over the back of his hand. The headset he managed to catch between his chest and his chin, and he winced through the pain as a few more bobbles had everything stable again. He glanced around and, spotting the concrete rim of a raised flowerbed, set his coffee down before any more damage could be done. He sat, as well, for good measure, and replaced his earpiece to hear his name being called repeatedly.

 

“Yeah. I’m here. Fuck,” he hissed, examining his hand. Not serious, he decided quickly, and lifted his PADD to see Ruth smirking back at him.

 

That’s no way to talk to a lady, you know,” she said, not bothering to hide her amusement.

 

“Sorry,” Jim offered. “Had some trouble holding on to everything.”

 

You know, that wouldn’t happen nearly so often if you weren’t always trying to do three or four things at once.”

 

“Bite your tongue! What do you think makes me so popular with our clients?”

 

Funny,” she said dryly.

 

“No, really! Tell you what, my night’s free so far; say the word and I’ll keep it that way so I can take you out and show you myself. Pick you up at eight?”

 

Ruth nodded to her right. “Ms Morganth is standing right here, you know.”

 

“So don’t mention what I’m actually saying.”

 

Actually, I have you on speakerphone.”

 

“You’re a cruel woman, Ruth,” he laughed. Two passing cadets glanced over at him, and he shot them both a grin and a wink.

 

I get that all the time. But I presume you didn’t call just to tell me that?

 

“No, I actually wanted to check my messages. Can you connect me to my inbox?”

 

You don’t need me for that; you can access it yourself.”

 

“Sure, but if I did that then I wouldn’t get to hear your sweet voice.”

 

Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “You forgot your passcode again, didn’t you?

 

Jim winced. “I might have.”

 

Jim—”

 

“Hey, if it didn’t keep changing so often—”

 

It’s basic security!” she said sternly. “Every three months, you know that. Hell, you’re the one who upgraded the system. You know, I ought to make you come in to get the code in person; maybe then you’ll remember it next time.”

 

“C’mon, Ruth, you’re not really going to make me do that, are you? I’m halfway across town.”

 

Where are you, anyway?” she asked, squinting a little. “It looks bright.”

 

“Just wandering around outside. It’s too nice a day to stay cooped up indoors.”

 

You really think it’s a good idea to rub that in when you’re asking the girl with a desk job for a favor?

 

“Probably not, no.”

 

You’re not nearly as charming as you think you are, you know.”

 

“I know.”

 

She sighed. “Fine. Fine, I’ll put you through, but only because you’ll keep tying up this line if I don’t.”

 

“Thanks, Ruth. I owe you.”

 

Yeah, well, I’m not doing it again.”

 

“I understand.”

 

I mean it this time.”

 

“I know.”

 

Good.”

 

Jim grinned and picked up his coffee for a quick sip as Ruth’s face disappeared and the connecting signal appeared. After a moment his inbox menu popped up, alerting him that he had ten new messages, including one from . . . his eyebrows lifted when he saw Spock’s name in the queue. But surely . . . Spock’s attitude might not have changed in the week since Jim had come clean about his job, but after Spock’s explanation about Vulcan views, the last thing Jim had expected was for him to call for an appointment. Stomach clenching oddly, he tapped on the message to pull it up.

 

Spock’s eyebrow was already raised as the message began, which made Jim grin. “Your recorded greeting is quite . . . forthright,” Spock began. “I wished to inform you that my presence is required tonight at Dr. th'Zarath’s presentation on his newest theory in warp physics. Should you still wish to read it, I have obtained a copy of his latest article.” His mouth twitched as though it wanted to frown, and the faintest of lines appeared between those upswept brows.

 

Though why you should is a question that I admit lies beyond my ability to fathom. His failure to grasp even the most rudimentary concepts of his chosen subject leads me to question the competence of the university that awarded him a doctorate, to say nothing of whatever regrettable clerical error allowed him to receive so much as his original degree. I question, in fact, whether he should truly have received a passing grade in his studies as far back as his clearly sub-par elementary education.

 

I will bring a copy with me tomorrow night, in any case, if for no other reason than that it will assure you that my concern over the Federation’s current educational standards are not unfounded. If you plan to visit Catspaw yourself tonight, please extend my regrets to Gaila that I will be unable to attend her performance this evening. You may assure her, however, that I will certainly be in attendance tomorrow. Spock out.”

 

By the time the message ended, Jim’s grin had grown impossibly wide. The utter disdain that had colored Spock’s voice had been the most entertaining thing his inbox had ever recorded, and given the sort of messages he usually received that was saying quite a bit. He hit the ‘save’ button; no way in hell was he erasing this. Still, he made a mental note to give Spock his private number, if only to spare him further exposure to Jim’s “forthright” message prompt.

 

He felt oddly lighter all of a sudden. He hadn’t realized, apparently, how much he had still worried that Spock might have some sort of a delayed reaction to Jim’s revelation. And he was finding—to what he felt was his justifiable concern—that Spock’s opinion mattered to him. For the first time since he had started work at Velocity, Jim had found himself actually concerned about what someone else might think of him.

 

Of course, he mused, this was also the first time he had become friends with someone first. Everyone else, aside from Johnny, had been fully aware of what he did for a living by the time they started spending time together. It was far easier to dismiss someone else’s opinion of you when you’d only just met, and he knew how lucky he was that Spock had been so understanding. Jim would never have been able to forgive himself if he’d driven away the only person he could talk to about transwarp beaming and engineered grains and dilithium trading rights all in the same conversation.

 

A sudden flurry of activity around him had him glancing up, and he quickly stowed his PADD and his earpiece in his bag. Draining the last of his coffee, he headed for the rumpled, exhausted-looking man who had just separated from a gaggle of white-coated and equally exhausted-looking cadets outside of the doors of the Starfleet Academy medical clinic.

 

“Bones!” he called, breaking into a grin when the older man jumped in surprise. Jim jogged up to where the man had stopped and blinked at the bags under his eyes. “Hey. Damn, you look like hell.”

 

“Jim.” Bones blinked once before a scowl broke over his brow. “Goddamn it, no. I just got off shift; you’re gonna have to find someone else to fix you up, because I am done for the morning.” His eyes, though, were already scanning Jim from head to toe with a narrow, professional gaze. “Doesn’t look like you’re bleeding, at least. Any sensitivity?” he barked. “Dizziness?”

 

“Oh, Bones you old softie,” Jim teased, earning himself a glare. “I didn’t know you cared. I’m fine, I’m not here for a checkup; I don’t need one today.”

 

Bones visibly relaxed. “Well. Good to know you’re not entirely brain dead. But what the hell are you doing here, then? Thought you never came on campus if you could help it.”

 

“Made an exception. I knew you had the graveyard shift before an early class, so you won’t have a chance to head home and rest. Thought you might want a cup of coffee instead. My treat.”

 

“Your—wait, how did you know I was working the graveyard shift last night?”

 

“You mentioned it.”

 

“No, I didn’t.”

 

“No?” Jim’s eyes sparkled. “Huh. Weird.”

 

“Damn it, Jim, you hacked into my files again? I swear to God, one more time and I’m reporting you.”

 

“You don’t know that’s what happened. Maybe my latent psychic abilities finally manifested.” He nodded towards the street. “C’mon, let’s caffeinate you before you fall down.”

 

“Gonna need a hell of a lot of caffeine,” Bones grumbled, but fell into step beside Jim, smothering a yawn.

 

“We’ll see if we can get you some kind of a vat for your coffee. Maybe an IV drip.” Jim eyed his friend warily and shifted his stance slightly, ready to catch the older man if he actually did fall. Luckily the coffee shop they both preferred was only a couple of blocks from the clinic, already in sight as they rounded a corner. “Your hours are insane, you know. Couldn’t pay me enough to be a doctor.”

 

“Believe me, they don’t pay me enough,” Bones grumbled. “I haven’t been run this ragged since med school.”

 

“I know the feeling,” Jim said, holding the door open for Bones to walk through first. He leered as they approached the counter. “Of course, in my line of work that feeling’s also generally accompanied by a nice rush of endorphins.”

 

Bones simply snorted. “Thanks for that, kid.”

 

“My pleasure. Now go sit down before you topple over. I’ll get your coffee.”

 

Though he looked for a moment like he might argue, eventually Bones just shrugged and stepped away. “The biggest size they have,” he said warningly. “And none of that fancy latte crap you get; just plain old coffee.”

 

“Man, I’ve known you for two and a half years, I think I know what kind of coffee you drink.” Jim waved him off. “Go, sit, I’ll be right there.”

 

“What am I now, a dog?” Bones grumbled, but walked off without further comment.

 

By the time Jim made it to the table Bones had chosen, not five minutes later, the older man was already falling asleep over a PADD and an open textbook. “Wake up!” Jim shouted, turning heads all over the shop and making Bones jump so hard he nearly fell out of his chair. Jim’s beatific grin didn’t lessen the glower that got turned his way, but the grotesquely oversized paper cup he waved in front of his friend’s face managed to provide a suitable distraction. “You can never, ever lecture me on my caffeine addiction again,” Jim declared as Bones attempted to down the full thing in one long drink.

 

“I know this is bad for me,” Bones growled. “But it’s the lesser of two evils right now compared to crashing and burning after I worked my ass off to get admitted to Starfleet in the first place.”

 

“It couldn’t have been that hard,” Jim said dryly. “I’ve seen some of the braintrusts that have enlisted, remember?”

 

“Yeah, and if you want to just enlist that’s fine. But you’ve gotta be a cut above if you want to do anything even remotely important, and for some reason they seem to think that their medical personnel falls into that category.” Bones closed his book and wrinkled his nose at Jim’s drink. “Ugh. God, I can smell the sugar from here. How in the world can you drink that?”

 

“Maybe my tastebuds just aren’t as matured as yours,” Jim shrugged, and smiled as he broke off a chunk of the blueberry muffin he’d bought along with the coffee. “Of course, you do have a head start.”

 

“Yeah, I’m all of six years older than you,” Bones said dryly. “One foot practically in the grave. Now what do you want?”

 

“Want?” Jim frowned. “Can’t I just want to have a cup of coffee with a friend?”

 

“You don’t drink coffee, you drink coffee-flavored sugar,” Bones shot back automatically. “And if I were paying I wouldn’t be confused.”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“It means you’ll agree to pretty much anything if it means getting a free meal,” Bones said bluntly.

 

“Hey, that’s—” Jim considered, frowned. Shrugged. “Well, yeah, that’s pretty much true. Still, you work hard, and you’re my friend. Is it really that suspicious for me to want to do something nice for you?”

 

Bones stared at him for a few moments, his eyes narrow. “No,” he said at last. “No way, not again.”

 

“Not what again?”

 

“I’m not walking you through whatever alien sex crisis you’re having this time.”

 

“Excuse me,” Jim said, nearly choking on his coffee. “I do not have alien sex crises.”

 

“Last time you treated me to coffee you were practically in traction the next day, and that was with all the information I could give you on Andorians,” Bones reminded him.

 

“And just think where I’d be without that information! Come on, you’re just sitting here anyway, why not talk to me a little bit?”

 

“See? I knew it.” Bones scowled for another moment, rolled his eyes and sighed. “What do you want to know about?”

 

Jim hesitated for just a moment. “Vulcans.”

 

Vulcans?” Bones hardly seemed to notice when more heads turned their way at his outburst. “Are you out of your freakin’ mind? How the hell did you even find a Vulcan to—”

 

“It’s not like that!” Jim protested, horrified to find that his face was heating. “I’ve just . . . I met a Vulcan, and I’d like to avoid horribly offending him if at all possible, but I don’t really know anything about them.”

 

“And I’m the only person you can ask about this?” Bones groaned.

 

“I tried doing my own research, but all Starfleet Medical could give me was basic anatomy. Entertaining, but not really what I’m looking for.”

 

“Starfleet Medi—goddamn it, Jim.” Bones pinched at the bridge of his nose. “Tell me you didn’t.”

 

Jim shrugged. “I was checking your schedule anyway, it was barely even out of my way.”

 

“So much for your latent psychic abilities.”

 

“Yeah, I got a psychic premonition that Starfleet security is for shit. Don’t worry, I didn’t poke around in anything classified, I just accessed the basic informational banks.” He lifted an eyebrow. “So? You’re not going to leave me hanging, right?”

 

“Why me?” Bones groused. “Don’t you have in-house experts for this sort of thing at Velocity?”

 

“Yeah,” Jim said reluctantly, “but this isn’t for work. Besides, we’ve never even had a Vulcan client, so I don’t think they’d really be of much help.”

 

“You mean you’ve never had a Vulcan client, so your boss would know this wasn’t for a john she was going to be able to bill later.”

 

“’John’?” Jim rolled his eyes. “Who even says that anymore?”

 

“This from the guy whose nickname for me stems from the fact that I’m a sawbones.”

 

“I’m retro, and you’re a prude.”

 

Bones stiffened. “I am not a prude just because I happen to think that you’re cheapening yourself with your chosen profession.”

 

“Look, do we have to have this same argument again?” Jim asked wearily. “You don’t approve, I know you don’t approve, you know I’m not going to let that stop me. If you want me to just pick up all my information on Vulcans on the street . . .”

 

“Oh, for heaven’s sake.” It was Bones’s turn to roll his eyes now. “Does everything have to be so damned dramatic?” He sighed. “Fine. I’m not an expert or anything, but what do you want to know?”

 

Jim beamed. “Thanks, Bones.” His bag suddenly began to ring, and he fished out his PADD with a wince. “Sorry. It could be work . . . nope, private line.” He thumbed the screen, rerouting the call to his inbox, and set the PADD on the table. “Okay, well, I was wondering about his hands.”

 

Bones blinked. “His hands?”

 

“Yeah. They seem to be sensitive, or off-limits or something. The one time I accidentally touched a finger he about jumped out of his skin.” Jim took another bite of muffin. “So are we talking cultural taboo or something physical?”

 

Bones sighed heavily and muttered something under his breath. “Probably both,” he said eventually. “Vulcans are touch telepaths. They tend to avoid physical contact for that reason—initiating mental contact, even accidentally, is something they’re skittish about.” He snorted. “As much as those stone cold bastards get skittish about anything, anyway. Limiting mental contact means, by necessity, limiting physical contact too.”

 

“So that’s the cultural aspect,” Jim mused. “The physical?”

 

“Nerve clusters. They’re more densely grouped in Vulcans at all of the psi points, but especially in the fingers. Makes their hands especially sensitive.”

 

“So a friendly handshake’s probably not the way to go.”

 

“Probably not, no.” Bones drained the rest of his cup. “If we’re gonna have this conversation I’m gonna need more coffee. You want anything?”

 

“Another muffin,” Jim said around his last mouthful. “Thanks. When you get back, we can talk about ears.”

 

Bones walked off, muttering under his breath, and Jim smirked as he picked up his PADD. Might as well see who had called. The list of possibilities was a short one; he could count the people who had his private number on one hand. It obviously couldn’t have been Bones, and Aylin would have tried his work number first, so . . .

 

Despite everything, Kevin’s name had probably been the last one that Jim would have expected. He fished his earpiece from his bag and quickly keyed in the command to play the message. He had almost finished listening to it when he was nearly startled out of his seat by a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Sorry, sorry.” He looked up to see Lucien Venning smiling down at him. “I saw you and just wanted to say hello. Didn’t mean to startle you.”

 

“No, it’s fine.” Jim gave an unsteady laugh. “Karma’s a bitch, I guess.”

 

“Karma?”

 

Jim shook his head. “Never mind. You’re looking good.” He smiled. “Finally got that haircut, I see.”

 

“Two, actually, since I saw you last. It’s been too long,” Lucien said meaningfully.

 

“It has.” Jim pursed his lips thoughtfully and watched the other man follow the movement. “What, three and a half weeks?”

 

“Something like that. I understand you’ve been booked solid.”

 

“Busy as the proverbial bee,” Jim confirmed. “But as it happens, I’m free late tonight.”
 

Several minutes later Bones returned, tossing a bran muffin in front of Jim as Lucien walked away. “They were out of blueberry.” He was scowling as he dropped into his chair. His jaw worked for a moment before he sighed irritably. “I have clinic hours again tomorrow morning,” he growled. “Stop in and I’ll look you over.”

 

“Thanks, Bones. I really—”

 

“Don’t,” Bones glared. “I’m only doing this because I know you’re stubborn enough to go without any treatment otherwise. So just . . . don’t.”

 

 

*****************************
 

 

“I must have suffered some sort of brain damage to have agreed to do this,” Bones growled, jamming a hypospray into Jim’s neck with unnecessary force.

 

“Ow! Wasn’t this your idea?” Jim winced. He reached up to rub at the spot, but let his hand fall back to his lap when Bones simply glared at him.

 

“Not originally. You’re the masochist who decided you liked the doctor who wouldn’t let you pull your usual bullshit.”

 

“You were blunt; it seemed like a nice change of pace. Maybe I’m the one with the head trauma,” Jim muttered.

 

“Funny.” Bones jabbed him again, ignoring Jim’s protests. “I really should be reporting you.”

 

“Yeah, but you won’t,” Jim countered. “Because you may be a sadistic bastard, but you’re still my friend, and you don’t actually want to see me do jail time.”

 

“One of these times you’re going to catch something, and I’m not going to have a choice. You doing this is a health risk, you know that.”

 

“I’m careful. I only take on clients who’ve already passed the screens at Velocity—”

 

“Screens for physical health,” Bones interrupted, picking up the dermal regenerator with a pointed glance at the bruises bracketing Jim’s hips. “The rest of it you don’t seem to care too much about.”

 

“You’d be amazed what people will pay an independent contractor to do that’s not allowed at your better service companies.”

 

“And what, you’re so desperate for funds that you’re willing to set yourself up as somebody’s punching bag?”

 

“Stop exaggerating,” Jim frowned. “Lucien just likes it a little rough. I’ve had worse before and you know it.”

 

“It’s the worse I don’t like,” Bones snapped, and Jim snorted.

 

“You don’t like any of it. Hey.” He kicked at Bones’s calf with the side of his foot. “I’m fine, okay? Stop being pissed.”

 

“Stop letting people treat you like a damned blow-up doll and I’ll stop being pissed. Why do you do this, Jim? Why do you let people—”

 

“Because I’m good at it,” Jim said quietly.

 

Bones scowled. “You’re good at other things, too. Can you honestly tell me you don’t find this . . . demeaning?”

 

“No,” Jim sad. “I don’t. It’s just my body, Bones. Tell me, if I were working in . . . let’s say construction, would you find that demeaning?”

 

“That’s not the same—”

 

“It is the same thing! Either way, I’m being paid to make use of my body. Only at Velocity I get paid to have sex instead of haul concrete. Why is the one any worse than the other?”

 

“Because sex should be . . . more!” Bones said, tossing the dermal regenerator down with a clatter. “It should mean more.”

 

Jim laughed. “It’s just sex, Bones. It’s fun, and it feels good, but it doesn’t always have to be a deep, spiritual connection. Hell, it doesn’t ever have to be. Come by Velocity sometime; I’ll bet I can get you some sort of friends and family deal. Jane does this thing with her—”

 

“You finish that sentence and you’re getting infected with something nasty,” Bones warned, and Jim laughed.

 

“Okay, fine. Come to Catspaw tonight, then. Going out will do you some good, and we haven’t had the same night off in a while.”

 

Bones sighed. “Well, I guess I could—wait, how did you know I had tonight off?”
 

“Lucky guess?”

 

Damn it, Jim!”




>>Part 5

Chapter Text

Title: Streetlight People
Author: [info]ladyblahblah 
Artist: [info]cannedebonbon 
Mixer: [info]jouissant 
Beta: [info]ninjaboots 
Series: STXI/Reboot/as you will
Character/Pairing(s): Kirk/Spock; minor/implied McCoy/Gaila, Uhura/Chapel, Pike/Number One, OFC/OFC
Disclaimer: I own everything, but only in my fevered dreams.  Man, my dream!royalty checks are EPIC.  My payment for this in real life, however, is nonexistent.
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: prostitution, mentioned childhood sexual abuse, mentioned genocide, implied violence
Summary: AU. Strangers waitin' up and down the boulevard, their shadows searchin' in the night.  Streetlight people, living just to find emotion; hiding somewhere in the night.
Author's Note: Here I start to take some liberties with Gaila's character, which is totally JJ's fault anyway since we only get a teeny bit of her in the movie.  TRAGEDY.  Also, warning: drama-bomb ahead.  (Bonus: find the LotR reference!)

 

 




Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

 

 

 

 

 

“Oh, come on,” Jim laughed, “it couldn’t have been that bad.”

 

Spock simply raised an eyebrow. “You did read his article, did you not?”

 

“Well. Yes.”

 

“Then I must ask you to imagine two hours of hearing that man speak while surrounded by a room full of otherwise intelligent men and women who, for reasons surpassing my understanding, seemed universally disinclined to question even the most preposterous of his findings.”

 

Jim winced. “Well . . . was there food, at least? Just trying to find the silver lining,” he said to Spock’s bewildered blink, and laughed, forestalling Spock’s attempt to inquire after his meaning. “So why’d you have to go to this thing, anyway?”

 

“Dr. th'Zarath is, despite his regrettable lack of competence, a respected professor at the Academy. As a prospective graduate on the Science track, my presence was expected.”

 

I see.” Jim took another sip of his wine, casting a thoughtful look Spock’s way. “And do you always do what’s expected of you?”

 

Spock’s heart thumped strangely in his side, but he kept his face calm even as he made a mental note to schedule himself for along-overdue physical. “No,” he said at last. “I do not.” Jim looked surprised, and Spock indicated the room around them. “My presence here, I assure you, is far from expected.”

 

“Fair enough. How are you able to spend so much time here, anyway? What happened to your ‘various extracurricular activities’?”

 

“I have resigned my position in some,” Spock admitted. “I felt that it was time I expanded my social horizons past what the Academy offers.”

 

“And you didn’t take any flak for that?”

 

“My captain was in agreement that I may have been overextending myself. He supported my decision to limit my involvement to an extent. As far as my supervisory commitments are concerned, I feel confident that the chess club will be more than capable of finding a new advisor.”

 

To Spock’s surprise, Jim’s eyes lit up. “You play chess?”

 

“You’ve done it now.” Both men looked up to see that Caly had arrived with a fresh pot of tea, and she winked at Jim before she turned her attention back to Spock. “He’ll never leave you alone until you play with him.”

 

“Thanks for the insight,” Jim said with a frown. “You make it sound like I make a habit of pestering people to play with me.”

 

“You know he tried to convince Johnny to institute a chess night here?” she said as if Jim hadn’t spoken.

 

“Hey, he was the one who asked for suggestions ‘classing the place up.’ Chess is classy!”

 

“I do not believe that a bar would serve as an entirely appropriate place for a chess match,” Spock interjected. “However, I would be pleased to play you in a more suitable location.”

 

“Really?” Jim asked with clear excitement. “God, that’d be great, I haven’t played in ages! The only other person I know who plays is Aylin, and I have a firm rule about never playing against an empath.”

 

Spock lifted a brow again. “You are aware, are you not, that I am a telepath?”

 

“But a touch telepath, right? So as long as we’re not touching I’ll be safe.” He glanced up at Caly, who was still clearing away the dirty tea things. “What are you smirking at?”

 

“Nothing. You need anything else, Jim?”

 

“No, I’m good.” He glanced after her as she left, shaking his head. “She’s in a weird mood tonight. Anyway.” He turned back to Spock. “You really don’t mind playing chess with me? I don’t want you to feel like you have to if you really don’t want to do, you know.”

 

“I am not in the habit of making offers that I will be reluctant to fulfill,” Spock said mildly, and took a sip of tea to clear his throat. “In that spirit, I wished to ask you. There is a conference—”

 

He broke off suddenly. Over Jim’s shoulder, he could see a man standing by the entrance and glaring in their direction. His pause had Jim following his gaze, and to Spock’s surprise Jim’s face lit up as he gestured the man over.

 

“Bones! Man, I was starting to think you weren’t gonna show after all.”

 

“Yeah, well. I didn’t really have anything better to do.”

 

“Again with the sweet talk. C’mon, sit down! Bones, this is Spock. Spock, this is Dr. Leonard McCoy. He—”

 

“Is leaving,” McCoy growled, and turned to go only to be stopped by Jim’s hand on his arm.

 

“You’re not really going, are you? You just got here! Have a drink with us; just one drink won’t kill you, will it?”

 

“Look, Jim. You’re gonna do whatever the hell you wanna do; I know that by now.” He threw a hostile glance Spock’s way, and Spock had to fight the urge to frown. “But I’m not gonna sit around and watch you do it. I have better things to do with my time than watch my friend deliberately self-destruct. My shift starts mid-morning tomorrow; I’m sure I’ll see you then.”

 

Spock stiffened at the man’s blatant hostility, but Jim seemed merely baffled. “Bones.” He stood, his hand still gripping the older man’s arm. “What are you—”

 

“I can’t believe you,” McCoy hissed. “It’s not bad enough I have to patch you up after your little misadventures, but you have to invite me here to meet the newest bastard in the flesh?”

 

“I can assure you,” Spock began stiffly, only to cut himself off when Jim reached out and dealt an open-handed slap to the back of McCoy’s head.

 

“Sit down,” Jim said irritably, “and stop being an ass, Bones. Spock isn’t a client, he’s a friend. Why does everyone have such a hard time comprehending this?”

 

“If he’s just a friend then why the hell were you asking—”

 

Sit down, Bones,” Jim gritted out, clamping a hand on the older man’s shoulder to propel him back towards a chair. “Have a drink, my treat, and shut up.”

 

“Well, you can’t exactly blame me for assuming,” McCoy groused, but sat. “You’ve done dumber things before than solicit a Vulcan, and that’s just in the time I’ve known you.”

 

“Didn’t I tell you we’ve never had a Vulcan at Velocity before? So he never would have been screened, and I believe we already established that I’m not suicidal and why are we still talking about this?” he asked with a disgusted sigh. “How about we start over, since you’ve managed what might actually be the worst first impression in the history of social interaction. Bones, this is my friend, Spock. Spock, this overbearing jackass is my friend Dr. Leonard McCoy.”

 

“Thanks, Jim,” McCoy said dryly. “I’m sure that’s cleared our first impression problem right up.”

 

“You should just call him Bones, though,” Jim said as though McCoy hadn’t spoken. “All his friends do.”

 

“You’re the only one who calls me that, and only because I can’t get you to stop.”

 

“Like I said, all your friends do,” Jim teased. “Chris doesn’t count; she’s paid to be nice to you.”

 

“Wish you’d tell her that. Go get me my drink, brat. Whiskey sour.”

 

“So bossy. But I’m not going home with you tonight, Bones, no matter how much you flirt.” McCoy simply rolled his eyes as Jim stood with a grin. “You need anything, Spock?”

 

“I have all that I require at the moment.”

 

“I’ll be back in just a minute. You two play nice; talk about science or something.”

 

“So.” McCoy turned to Spock as Jim walked away. “I, ah . . . sorry for that,” he said sheepishly. “I shouldn’t have just assumed you were one of the assholes Jim has a habit of picking up.”

 

“No, you should not have.”

 

McCoy blinked at Spock’s bland agreement, then snorted. “Yeah, well. Jim can be kind of an idiot. Which wouldn’t be so bad if I weren’t always the one to have to patch him up. Why the hell he insists on keeping this damn job in the first place has always been sort of a mystery to me, but if he’s not even earning enough to keep from having to take stupid chances then I don’t have the faintest idea why he’d ever do it.”

 

“If I may inquire,” Spock began, and waited for McCoy’s nod before continuing. “You seem quite opposed to the idea of Jim’s occupation. Why then have you taken such a position?”

 

“‘Such a position’?”

 

“You are Jim’s physician, are you not? It had been my understanding that such establishments keep their own in-house medical staff. The logical conclusion, therefore, is that you too are a Velocity employee.”

 

“Ah. Well, sorry to burst your logic bubble there, but I’m not associated with that place at all. I do clinic hours over at Starfleet Medical; Jim comes to see me when he—”

 

“Still talking about me?” Both men looked up to see Jim set McCoy’s drink in front of him and settle in his seat again. “I know I’m fascinating and all, but really.”

 

“You are also a member of Starfleet?” Spock asked, his brow lifting.

 

“Yeah, I—wait, ‘also’?” McCoy paused with his glass halfway to his lips. “Are you . . .?”

 

“Oh, shit,” Jim winced. “Sorry. Should I have introduced you as Lieutenant Commander Spock? God, military protocol is such an enormous pain.”

 

You’re Starfleet’s Vulcan officer?”

 

“I am.” Spock lifted his tea for a drink. “Is that a problem?”

 

“Why the hell would it be? Just didn’t know it was you, is all. Don’t think I’ve ever actually heard your name before.”

 

“Indeed, my race is often considered more noteworthy than my name,” Spock said dryly. He turned to Jim and fixed him with a considering glance. “I am beginning to think that you have been dishonest with me.”

 

“What?” Jim blinked. “How?”

 

“You claim to avoid Starfleet personnel whenever possible. However, there now seem to be at least three such people with whom you converse on a regular basis.”

 

“It’s not three.” Jim frowned. “Is it?”

 

“Myself, Cadet Vro, and Dr. McCoy makes the third,” Spock said mildly. “I am uncertain, however, why you would deliberately conceal your preference.”

 

“Hey now, three people out of several hundred hardly constitutes a preference.”

 

“Really, Jim,” Spock reproached, “a certain fascination is quite understandable.”

 

“This is your bad influence,” Jim accused, turning to McCoy. “He’s never been half this snarky before.”

 

McCoy lifted his hands in defense. “I’ve been here ten minutes!”

 

“And obviously you work fast.”

 

“Shut your mouth, brat, before I shut it for you.”

 

“You will not threaten him with physical violence in my presence.” Spock’s voice was quiet, but even with the noise around them both men turned to him in surprise. Spock locked his eyes on McCoy’s, letting him see the steel beneath. “I will not permit it.”

 

Jim and McCoy regarded him for a moment, shock clear on their faces, and then to Spock’s surprise they both began to laugh. “Oh man,” McCoy gasped out after a moment. “Jim, you should take him with you to meet new clients.”

 

“Yeah, Aylin would just love that,” Jim chuckled. “He’d scare them all away.”

 

“Kind of my point.”

 

“And there it is!” Jim made a show of checking his watch. “Thirteen minutes. Not bad, but not your best time.”

 

“What the hell are you talking about?”

 

“I’ve decided to start keeping track of how long it takes you to get to the ‘Give up your day job, Jim,’ speech. Two minutes fifteen seconds is the time to beat, if you’re wondering.”

 

“You’re hilarious, you know that?” McCoy grumbled. He took another drink and sat back with a scowl. “Well, you should,” he burst out a moment later, and Jim groaned.

 

“Do we really have to have this same conversation every single time we see each other? C’mon, I thought the timing bit derailed this whole thing pretty well, don’t you?”

 

“I just don’t understand how you can—”

 

“I know you don’t,” Jim said. “And that’s why having this conversation for the thousandth time is pretty much useless.”

 

“That’s because you don’t listen.”

 

“No, it’s because I don’t agree; there’s a difference. Back me up here, Spock.”

 

“Are you seriously trying to appeal to a Vulcan in your argument in favor of prostitution?” McCoy asked in disbelief.

 

“Come on, Spock,” Jim encouraged. “Tell him.”

 

“Actually, I find that I must agree with Dr. McCoy.”

 

“See, he—wait, you what?” Jim demanded, sitting up straighter as McCoy nearly choked on his drink. “What happened to the importance of sexual gratification for physical and mental health?”

 

“Do not misunderstand; in the abstract, I find a certain logic behind the profession. Furthermore, I have no legal or moral objections. However, for you specifically I can not endorse a career as an escort.”

 

Jim threw up his hands. “Why the hell not?”

 

“Because you are quite clearly capable of more,” Spock said calmly. “While I do not doubt that you are capable of excelling in this field, your chosen profession fails to incorporate your full range of attributes. You have an enviable intellect, Jim, and a gift for fluid thought that make you suited for a variety of work. To ignore those gifts and allow them to atrophy in favor of work that focuses primarily upon your body is the height of illogic. Furthermore, if you are acting in a manner that makes your physician concerned for your safety, I must conclude that you should not be put in a venue where you are allowed to make such foolhardy decisions.”

 

“You know,” McCoy finally said with a coughing laugh, “I think I like this guy.”

 

“I never should have introduced the two of you,” Jim grumbled.

 

“Aww, Jimmy has his ‘I’m being bullied’ face on. You guys didn’t start without me, did you?”

 

“Gaila!” Jim’s face lit up, and Spock quelled an odd twinge in his side. “Hey, gorgeous, come be on my side.”

 

“But if I’m on your side I can’t pick on you with everyone else,” she pouted, strolling closer to their table.

 

“I can’t believe you came out here in that dress. Johnny’s gonna kill you for starting a riot.”

 

“Well, I saw a table full of handsome men and I was afraid that if I took the time to change you’d all be gone by the time I came out.” She turned a bright smile on McCoy. “Leonard! Did you finally show up in time to see me sing?”

 

“Miss Vro.” Spock noted with fascination that the doctor’s face was flushed. “Sorry, no. Just meeting Jim for a drink.”

 

“And Professor Spock,” she noted. “Looks like everyone’s getting to know everyone else.”

 

“May I ask,” Spock spoke up, “how you know each other if you have never been to see Cadet Vro’s performance? To the best of my knowledge, the Medical and Engineering tracks rarely cross.” Jim threw him a grateful look, clearly glad for attention to be kept away from him, and Spock nodded his acknowledgement.

 

“Actually,” Gaila grinned, “Leonard patched me up when I had that accident during my Engineering practicum. I’m good as new thanks to him. See?” She slid her left foot out of her shoe and lifted it to rest on McCoy’s knee, the slit at the side of her dress parting to reveal a long expanse of bare green leg. “Not even so much as a scar!”

 

“Cut it out, Gaila,” Jim chided with a grin. “You’re gonna give the poor guy a coronary.”

 

“Am not. If I were trying for that, I’d do something like this.” With no more warning than that, she lowered her leg and spun swiftly to settle herself crosswise in McCoy’s lap. “See? Now he has that vein throbbing in his neck,” she laughed.

 

“I’m not going to have a heart attack,” McCoy growled. “And there’s still a free chair right there, y’know.”

 

“Thanks, I’m good here,” she said breezily. “This is what you get for never coming to hear me sing.”

 

“Spock and I have both missed your show a dozen times,” Jim pointed out. “You never sit yourself down in either of our laps as punishment.”

 

“You don’t blush as nicely as he does, and . . .” Her cheeks momentarily flushed a slightly darker green. “I can’t sit in my professor’s lap, that would be sexual harassment or something.”

 

“It’s sexual harassment when you do it to me,” McCoy complained, and merely rolled his eyes when everyone continued to ignore him.

 

“Allow me to assure you, Cadet,” Spock said, “I would have much preferred coming to see your performance than attending the event that required my presence.”

 

“You know, you really can call me Gaila when we’re not at school, if you want to.”

 

Spock opened his mouth, considered, and shut it again. “I am not entirely certain that that would be appropriate,” he said after a moment. “However, if you would be more comfortable referring to me solely by my given name, I would have no objection.”

 

“So I could just call you S . . . um . . .” She flushed again and settled deeper into McCoy’s lap. “Okay, I think I see your point. So! Which of you gentlemen would like to buy a young lady a drink?”

 

“Hell, I’ll get the next round for everyone if you promise to stop using me as a chair.” McCoy waited a moment for a response. “Well?”

 

“I’m thinking!”

 

“Oh, you’ve gotta be—”

 

“Okay, fine, fine.” She rose and resettled in the remaining free chair. “Jack Daniels for me, please,” she said, and smirked at McCoy’s surprised look. “Problem, Dr. McCoy?”

 

“Ah. No, no problem.” He glanced at Jim and Spock. “What about the two of you? Want anything?”

 

“Another glass for me,” Jim said. “Anything with a decent burn to it. Spock, you need any more tea?”

 

“Tea?” McCoy asked.

 

“Vulcans do not traditionally consume alcohol,” Spock explained.

 

“Then . . . well, no offense, but what the hell are you doing hanging out in a bar if you don’t drink?”

 

“Research,” Jim said, his eyes sparkling as he shot a quick grin Spock’s way. “He’s got a girl he’s thinking of asking out.”

 

“Is that appropriate information to be sharing with other people?” Spock asked stiffly.

 

“Oh, sorry,” Jim offered, though he was still grinning unrepentantly. “Was it supposed to be a secret?”

 

“A girl, huh?” McCoy’s gaze was curious, and far too shrewd for comfort. “I didn’t think Vulcans were really the dating type.”

 

“We are not.” Spock focused on his breathing, on the steady beat of his heart in his side, and strengthened his shield against the emotions that were attempting to rise in him. “However, I am only half Vulcan. Courtship is a Human ritual with which I have little experience, despite having a Human mother, but one about which I wish to learn more.”

 

“Uh huh.” McCoy leaned forward. “And this girl . . . you like her, right?”

 

“What the hell are you going on about, Bones?” Jim asked.

 

“I am not certain that I understand your query,” Spock said, meeting McCoy’s unflinching gaze.

 

“I’m asking if you like her. You’re attracted to her? How would dating even work for you, anyway? Vulcans are all about emotional repression, aren’t they?”

 

“Bones!” Jim said with a scowl. “You’re being an ass again.”

 

“Control,” Spock corrected calmly. “Vulcans prize emotional control, not repression.”

 

“What’s the difference?”

 

“Leonard.” Gaila’ voice was sharp and chiding. “Professor Spock’s emotions or . . . lack thereof aren’t your business. And I still don’t have my drink. Maybe you should get on that.”

 

McCoy flushed. “All right, I’m going. Bite a guy’s head off just for being curious,” he muttered.

 

“Sorry about that,” Jim said, watching his friend stalk towards the bar. “He’s not usually this . . .” He shook his head. “I guess everyone’s in kind of a weird mood tonight. Bet that Vulcan emotional control’s looking pretty damn good to you about now, isn’t it?”

 

“Indeed,” Spock said dryly, allowing himself a small smile when Jim laughed at his ready agreement.

 

“Professor,” Gaila said abruptly, and shot Jim an apologetic glance. “Sorry, Jimmy, I know you hate it when we talk Starfleet in front of you, but I’m afraid I’ll forget. Just this one thing and then no more, I promise.” She turned back to Spock. “Cadet Uhura and I are getting started on our project, and we were hoping you would take a look at our progress before you leave on your mission next week. We have the lab booked between 1800 and 2100 hours for the next three days, if you could find a moment to stop by.”

 

“Mission?” Jim asked.

 

“Yes,” Spock confirmed. “I was about to mention it when Dr. McCoy arrived. With the start of the summer term I will be taking part in several short training missions aboard the USS Potemkin. The first starts next week and will last for ten Earth-standard days.” He turned back to Gaila. “I will come to the lab tomorrow, if that is convenient.”

 

“Yes, that would be fine. Great, actually,” she beamed. “All right, official business over; now we can go back to talking about how pretty I am.”

 

“We weren’t talking about that,” Jim said, amused.

 

“But don’t you think we should be?”

 

“Should be what?” McCoy asked as he returned, setting a trio of drinks down on the table.

 

“Talking about how I’m pretty,” Gaila said helpfully, and McCoy snorted.

 

“That’s a little bit like talking about how the sun’s sort of brightish, isn’t it?” He glanced up and shifted uneasily at the slow, delighted smile that was spreading over Gaila’s face. “What?”

 

“Bones, don’t tell me you’re actually trying something other than whiskey for once,” Jim said deliberately, nodding to the third glass McCoy had deposited, swirling with an unlikely combination of colors.

 

“That’s not for me; it’s for Spock.”

 

“Bones—”

 

“Hey now, you’re the one who said I was being an ass. Can’t I try to make up for it?”

 

“While the sentiment is appreciated,” Spock said, “as I said, I am perfectly content with my tea.”

 

“That’s all well and good, but you’re not gonna just order tea when you ask your girl out, are you?”

 

“She is hardly my girl—”

 

“And she’ll keep being not your girl if you don’t make an effort. She’s Human, I’m guessing?”

 

“She is.”

 

“Well then. Let me give you a little bit of free advice: most Humans aren’t going to be comfortable if they’re drinking and their date isn’t. It creates a disparity between the two of you. I’m not saying you should drink all the time, or even that you have to drink if you go on a date. Bit if you care enough to ask her out, you’d care about her being comfortable, right?”

 

“I can’t decide if that’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard, or the most brilliant,” Jim laughed. “Gaila? A woman’s perspective?”

 

“Well,” she said, glancing reluctantly at Spock, “it does make some sense. It’d be one thing if you were at a coffeehouse, or even a restaurant. But if a date took me to a bar, I’d probably feel sort of weird drinking if he didn’t. And if neither of us were drinking I’d wonder why we were even there in the first place.”

 

“I see,” Spock said thoughtfully.

 

“You know,” Jim mused, “I don’t think I’ve ever actually asked before, but why don’t Vulcans drink? Are we talking about some sort of a cultural or religious taboo?”

 

“No. However, alcohol has only a very mild intoxicating effect on Vulcan physiology, and I have never cared for the taste. There simply seems to be very little point in consuming it.”

 

“Well there you go!” Jim slapped his hand down on the table with a smile. “We just haven’t found your drink! Okay team, that’s our goal for tonight. Don’t worry, Spock, whatever you don’t like the three of us will finish off,” he added with a wink.

 

“That’s the spirit!” McCoy said. “If you’ll pardon the pun. All right, we’ll start you off with this Cardassian Sunrise here.” He nudged the glass towards Spock. “Give it a try.”

 

Spock hesitated, but three pairs of eyes locked encouragingly on him and with a silent sigh, he conceded defeat. “Very well.” He picked up the glass and, with a last distrustful glance at the swirling contents, took a sip. He considered for a moment, then set it back down. “No.”

 

“Mine!” Gaila called out immediately, and moved the glass to sit in front of her. She looked around the table with a grin. “This is going to be a fun game!”

 

They made it through more than half of the drink menu before Spock finally found something that appealed to him: a drink composed primarily of kanar and bitters, rather bafflingly dubbed a “Corbomite Maneuver”. Despite his assurances that he was unlikely to become intoxicated, the others insisted on purchasing Spock one after another while they worked their way through the drinks he had rejected, and he bowed to their wishes. It was well past midnight—far longer than Spock had ever stayed at Catspaw before—by the time Gaila stumbled to her feet.

 

“I have a class,” she said vaguely. “Tomorrow . . . in the morning? I think.” She burst into laughter, which Spock found unexpectedly amusing in its own right. “Gotta get back to my room.”

 

“I’ll walk you there, darlin’,” McCoy grumbled; unlike the others, his mood did not seem to have improved with the consumption of an unwise amount of alcohol, though his accent had thickened noticeably. “You’re in no fit shape to see yourself home.”

 

“You’re trashed too,” she accused, pointing a finger in his direction.

 

“Not half so much as you are. Take a look at the table there, sweetheart.”

 

She squinted and blinked and appeared to take in the glasses still scattered around her spot at the table, nearly twice as many as anyone else had. “Well. ‘S not my fault you kept trying to order him girly drinks.”

 

“This from the gal who started the evenin’ with a Jack Daniels. C’mon, let’s get goin’. Steady now, steady.”

 

“I should change.” She stared down at herself for a moment and laughed again. “Did I really keep this dress on all night?”

 

“You did.” Jim seemed to be fighting off laughter as well. “But I’ll bet you have a change of clothes in the back, don’t you?”

 

“I do!” she declared brightly. “I should put them on.” She went docilely as McCoy guided her along by the elbow, pausing only to lean against him for a moment. “Mmm, Leonard. You gonna help me change?”

 

“She’s gonna have him in a body bag by the end of the night,” Jim laughed as they left, and peered across the table at Spock. “How are you doing? You feelin’ anything at all?”

 

Spock gazed down at his hands; his fingertips had indeed begun to tingle slightly by the time he had finished his seventh drink. “I believe that the alcohol may have begun to affect me, yes,” he said in mild surprise, and very nearly smiled when Jim began to laugh again.

 

“Man, we’ve gotta get you to cut loose more often. Hopefully when there’s a drinking contest going on; you’d clean up.” He rose to his feet, noticeably if only slightly unsteady on his feet. “I should head home, too. Might take a walk first, though; fresh air.”

 

Spock smoothed down his robes as he rose as well. “Would it be permissible for me to join you?”

 

“Hmm? Yeah, of course!”

 

“Do you require assistance in keeping your balance?”

 

Jim actually seemed to consider it for a moment before shaking his head. “Nah, I think I’m good. Could use something to eat, though,” he murmured absently, and headed towards the door. Spock paused only to close out his tab with the bartender before following him.

 

The air was cool though summer had technically already begun, and Spock tucked his hands into his sleeves as he approached Jim, standing on the pavement with his head tipped back and his eyes closed. As Spock stepped up next to him he lowered his head and opened his eyes with a smile. They began to walk without speaking, moving towards the bay, in the opposite direction from Jim’s apartment.

 

“You know,” Jim said abruptly after they had walked several blocks in silence, “hanging out with you has been really good for business. I hadn’t expected that.”

 

“In what way?”

 

“Well, once people find out what I do they tend to assume that anyone I’m sitting with is probably a client. And I hang out with you so often.” He grinned. “Apparently people figure I must be really amazing in order to keep a Vulcan coming back for more. You remember those girls who were talking to me the night I told you . . . what I did? They actually pooled their money together for a night with me.”

 

“I see.” Spock considered for a moment. “But which of them actually spent the time with you? Or did they divide the night between them?”

 

Jim looked at him in what may have been surprise and began to laugh again. “Sorry,” he gasped out, “sorry, really. It’s just . . . they, ah, were both there. Together.”

 

Spock blinked. “I see,” he said again. He was still trying to imagine the mechanics of such a process when Jim chuckled and veered abruptly towards an all-night replimat.

 

“It costs more, of course,” Jim was saying as he punched in his order, “but it’s definitely worth it if you do it right. Ahh, perfect!” He took the sandwich that had appeared and bit greedily into it. He glanced at Spock and shrugged apologetically. “I’m not embarrassing you, am I?”

 

“Vulcans do not get embarrassed,” Spock said stiffly, and watched Jim’s mouth curve slightly in response. “In fact,” he continued as they began to walk again, “I wondered if I might ask you something.”

 

“Go ahead.”

 

Spock took a moment to consider, waiting until they had walked another half of a block before he spoke again. “I have been considering something that Dr. McCoy said this evening. Jim . . .” He hesitated. “You have a license for your work. But it only covers the work that you undertake at Velocity, does it not?” Spock paused, but there was no answer. “Dr. McCoy insinuated that you were taking on clients outside of your capacity at that establishment. Is this true?”

 

“Spock . . .”

 

“Jim.” Spock stopped, and pulled Jim to a halt beside him as well. “You may always be honest with me. You are . . . my friend,” he managed at last.

 

Jim glanced up at him, a slight smile playing around his lips. “Wow. That was really hard for you to say, wasn’t it?” he laughed softly. “Okay.” He took a deep breath, scrubbed the back of his hand over his mouth. “Come on,” he said, and started to walk again.

 

“Jim?”

 

“Not here,” Jim said shortly, all traces of humor gone. “Just . . . follow me, okay?”

 

“Very well,” Spock agreed, and fell into step beside him.


 

>>Part 6

Chapter Text

Title: Streetlight People
Author: [info]ladyblahblah 
Artist: [info]cannedebonbon 
Mixer: [info]jouissant 
Beta: [info]ninjaboots 
Series: STXI/Reboot/as you will
Character/Pairing(s): Kirk/Spock; minor/implied McCoy/Gaila, Uhura/Chapel, Pike/Number One, OFC/OFC
Disclaimer: I own everything, but only in my fevered dreams.  Man, my dream!royalty checks are EPIC.  My payment for this in real life, however, is nonexistent.
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: prostitution, mentioned childhood sexual abuse, mentioned genocide, implied violence
Summary: AU. Strangers waitin' up and down the boulevard, their shadows searchin' in the night.  Streetlight people, living just to find emotion; hiding somewhere in the night.
Author's Note: So, I'm sure most of you realized this was coming.  Please, heed the warnings.  Sort-of spoilers for the TOS episode The Conscience of the King.  If the drama gets too heavy, though, check out the UNBELIEVABLY GORGEOUS ILLUSTRATION of this scene. *swoons*

 

 




Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

 

 

 

 

 

“I love the ocean.” Jim took a long pull from the bottle of water Spock had procured for him along the way. He leaned his forearms against the railing at the park’s edge, his eyes on the waves rolling in. The breeze off the bay ruffled his hair and filled Spock’s nose with the scent of the ocean. “I found this park the first day I came to San Francisco. Stayed here all day just watching the waves.”

 

“It is an arresting sight,” Spock agreed. “There are no oceans on Vulcan; I have found that proximity to one has made a fascinating change.”

 

“Yeah.” Jim inhaled deeply and dropped his eyes to his hands. “I don’t know where to start, exactly. I’ll be honest with you, I’m probably only telling you this at all because I’m still pretty drunk.” He took another drink. “There are things about me that I never wanted you to know. Never wanted anyone to know. I’m not exactly the person you think I am. Shit,” he snorted, “you don’t even know my real name.”

 

“Kirk,” Spock said easily, “James Tiberius. Formerly of Riverside, Iowa; son of Lieutenant Winona Kirk and Captain George Kirk, deceased.”

 

“How?” Jim asked hoarsely, his eyes wide now and locked on Spock. “How the hell did you know that?”

 

“You keep your Starfleet Medial card in your wallet on top of your credit chip; I saw it several weeks ago. Though it was never my intention to pry, I do have an eidetic memory . . . and a great deal of curiosity.” He regarded Jim with the full force of it now. “Why do you not want people to know who you are?”

 

“That’s . . . it’s complicated. Shit.” Jim turned to lean back against the railing. “I should be pissed as hell at you right now. Why aren’t I pissed as hell at you?”

 

“I do not know,” Spock said, “but I am grateful, no matter what the cause.”

 

Everyone knew me back home,” Jim said, almost to himself. “Riverside isn’t a big town, you know. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbors, where you grow up with the same kids in all your classes right up through high school. Still, no one knows everyone; but because of the shipyard, because of my dad, everyone knew who I was.

 

“It wasn’t so bad when I was younger.” He shot Spock a wry look. “I always did love attention, after all. And I had . . . aspirations of grandeur, I guess. My father was a big military hero, and I was gonna follow in his footsteps. Drove my uncle crazy. My mom was off-world a lot, and we lived with him. Me and my brother. Hell if I know why; Frank couldn’t stand either of us. Drove Sam off when he was about thirteen. And when I got to be about the same age he decided he was sick of having me around, too, sick of everyone telling him how proud he must be to be raising George Kirk’s son. I had some distant relatives on one of the newer space colonies, and he convinced my mom to send me there. I was on Tarsus IV for . . . I think probably about eighteen months total.”

 

A sick, hollow feeling began to build in Spock’s stomach. “Jim . . .”

 

Jim looked at him and then quickly away. “Yeah. I guess you know what happened there, then.”

 

“I studied the events there in several of my ethics courses. Jim, I do not . . .”

 

“Anyway.” Jim took another drink and cleared his throat. “When I got back . . . things were worse. Being the center of attention wasn’t quite as fun anymore. Everyone wanted to talk to me. What happened; what was it like? Did I ever actually see Kodos? Did he look like a monster? I wouldn’t talk about it with anyone, but Frank . . . he knew. I don’t know how he figured it out, and I don’t think he knew everything, but he knew enough. I wasn’t living with him anymore, but every chance he got he’d track me down somewhere public and ask me about Tarsus. He’d ask me if I’d been a big damn hero, just like my dad, and when I looked at his eyes I could tell that he knew.

 

“I’m nothing like my dad.” He pushed away from the railing and began to pace. “And everywhere I went in that town it was like I could feel him watching me. I felt like I’d disappointed him, let him down, and he wasn’t anything more than a goddamned ghost. George Kirk was all over that town; so as soon as I could I got the hell out and never looked back. Headed out to California because . . .” He stopped and laughed, turning back to Spock. “Because I guess that’s just where you go when you run away from home, right?”

 

Spock remembered leaving his own parents’ house, his Starfleet acceptance letter clamped tight in his fist. “That would certainly seem to be the case,” he agreed.

 

“Johnny had been friends with my older brother. He was already out here, and he got a lead on a job for me. I spent about a year tending bar at The Ion Storm. Then one night this redhead came in; sat at the bar for a couple of hours, didn’t talk to anyone, just watched me. Did this four nights running, and I wasn’t complaining because not only was she totally hot, she was also a pretty damn good tipper. Anyway, on the fourth night she introduced herself as Aylin Morganth, gave me her card, and said that if I wanted to meet her for lunch the next day she had a job proposition for me.”

 

“And so you began work at Velocity,” Spock concluded. “Though you already had employment?”

 

“Tending bar isn’t exactly a lucrative career,” Jim said dryly. “I needed more money, and Aylin was offering me much more.”

 

“As easily as that? Was it truly such a simple decision to allow others the use of your body in such a way?”

 

“It really was.” Jim leaned against the railing again, and once more his eyes refused to meet Spock’s. “I was already sort of used to it, after all.”

 

“Used to . . . I see. No,” Spock said after a moment, “I actually don’t believe that I do.”

 

“That was the only halfway decent thing to come out of Tarsus. Or maybe not decent. Useful.” When his eyes lifted to Spock’s at last, Jim’s gaze was steady. “I’ve known my body was a commodity since I was thirteen. I wasn’t part of the favored half of the population on Tarsus. I hid from the execution squads, and I stole food when I could, but when I realized that there were people willing to give me food just for letting them use my body for a couple of hours? That was the easiest decision I’ve ever made. It sounds awful, but really it wasn’t so bad. Sometimes it even felt good. And after a while I figured out that the more they enjoyed it, the more food a half-hour of my time was worth. Instead of spending two days casing a house to steal half a ration bar, I could get enough to feed all of us for three, four days in no more than an hour.”

 

“‘All of us’?”

 

“Five total. Me, Kevin, Mina, Tommy and Sasha. I was the oldest. I’d go out and get us food whenever I could. I couldn’t always find someone willing to pay me, so we still had to go out on raids occasionally. Sometimes I’d take Kevin; he was little, and fast and quiet. We were out when Kodos’s men finally found our hideout; they were waiting for us when we got back. Mina had managed to hide, but the other four of us got taken in to see Kodos himself, to have him explain to us why our deaths were regrettable but necessary, how our continued existence was putting the entire colony at risk. They’d found us because of the food we’d stolen, you know. Tracked us back and had been watching us for days, just to make sure there were just the five of us.

 

“We were scheduled for execution the day after the Starfleet ships ended up arriving. There were five adults there too when they let us out of our cell. Kodos’s men had never found Mina; someone did, I hope, but they never told us. Split us up and shipped us back to our families. Kodos was dead, they said, and his guards imprisoned. It was all over and we could just . . . go back to our lives.”

 

Spock lifted an eyebrow. “That seems like an unlikely proposition.”

 

“Yeah, no shit,” Jim laughed softly.

 

“I must confess to some remaining confusion. I would think that you would be eager to avoid a profession that must remind you of your time on that planet.”

 

Jim laughed again. “Believe me, Spock, once things started to go bad on Tarsus, selling myself was the least horrendous thing that happened to me. It’s what kept all five of us kids alive for so long. And now . . .” He shrugged. “It’s fun. I have control over my client list and what I’m willing or not willing to do. I’m very, very good at my job, and it’s something I actually like to do. I mean, I get paid for having sex. Where’s the bad in that? Man.” Jim twisted to look out over the bay again. “That’s . . . way more than I actually meant to tell you. You know, I think that whole control thing you’ve got going on actually helps? I know you’re not gonna make a big emotional scene no matter what I say. Makes it easier to keep talking, I guess.”

 

“Indeed.” Spock waited for him to turn to look at him before continuing. “You have, in fact, explained everything to me except for the specific thing that I asked about.”

 

“Ah. Yeah.” Jim reached up, rubbing at the back of his neck. “Noticed that, did you?”


“I will not demand an explanation of you,” Spock said slowly, “if you do not wish to give one.”

 

“It’s not that . . . hell, I’ve come this far, right?” Jim took a deep breath. “This job pays well. Way better than any other job I’ve ever had, let me tell you that. It’s plenty to support myself on, even enough that I can have a few things just because I want them. I got lucky.

 

“I managed to track down a couple of the others. Tommy’s actually here on Earth, getting ready to start on his master’s degree in bioengineering; we talk every couple of months. Kevin I only found a couple of years ago. His parents died on Tarsus, and he got himself emancipated from his grandparents’ custody when he was fifteen. Keeps taking on odd jobs, planet-hopping every year or so.” Jim shook his head. “He’s convinced Kodos isn’t really dead; he’s usually fine for a few months, but then he starts getting paranoid that he’s being followed, watched. I can’t talk him down from it. It takes everything I have just to convince him to tell me where he’s headed next. But all that moving around, settling down somewhere new . . . it’s not cheap.

 

“He never asks for money,” Jim said, his eyes and tone abruptly sharp. “It’s not like that; I don’t want you to think that he’s like that. But I worry about what he’ll end up doing if he has to find the money on his own. He lived through hell, and I’m not going to see him get slapped with criminal charges because it left him running scared. So when he contacts me I get him to sit tight for a couple of days, and I take a side-job. I don’t have to share a cut with anyone else, the money’s under the table so it’s not traceable back to me, and you’d be surprised how much people will pay you to let them do things they don’t want anyone else to know about.”

 

Kroykah,” Spock hissed, turning away from Jim’s shocked expression to gaze out over the bay himself. “The things that you are paid by these people to do,” he said at last, when he had regained his hold on his emotions. “They are dangerous? Is that why you must see Dr. McCoy afterwards?”

 

“Not generally.” Jim’s voice was gentle, soothing, and made Spock grasp the railing in a punishing grip. He did not wish to be soothed. “Sometimes a client will want to do things a little rougher than what Aylin’s comfortable allowing, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. Mostly I see him to fix any superficial damages—bruising, bite marks, that sort of thing—and to get checked for any diseases, just in case. Really, it’s just a precaution. I’m always safe.”

 

“None of what you have described sounds particularly safe.”

 

“Look,” Jim said quietly, “you know everything now. I’m breaking the law every time I accept a client without going through Velocity. Bones is the only other person besides the clients themselves who knows about this. If you want to report me, that’s your decision to make.”

 

Spock barely repressed a sigh. “You knew before you told me that I would do no such thing,” he chided. “Do not pretend to be unsure now.”

 

“I didn’t know. I hoped.” Jim laid a careful hand on Spock’s shoulder, just a moment’s contact. “I trusted. I’m glad I wasn’t wrong.”

 

“Do not mistake my silence for approbation,” Spock warned. “What you are doing is phenomenally foolish.”

 

“So I hear.” Jim considered him for another moment. “So. We’re still friends, aren’t we?”

 

“I would hardly be keeping your secret if we were not.”

 

“Right. Good.” They stood for several long moments, shoulder to shoulder as they gazed out over the water. “I’m sorry, Spock,” Jim said quietly at last. “I know keeping quiet about all of this is . . . well. Against your better judgement to say the least. It’s not a decision I ever wanted you to have to make.”

 

“You believe me to be very strictly bound by rules and regulations, do you not, Jim?”

 

“I suppose I do.” Jim glanced over at him, a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “Aren’t you?”

 

“Perhaps,” Spock admitted. “But perhaps not.”

 

“Now you’re just trying to be even more mysterious,” Jim laughed. “That’s hardly fair.”

 

“‘More’ mysterious?” Spock tilted his head, genuinely surprised. “I have always believed myself to be quite straightforward.”

 

“Oh come on, you can’t really believe that. Practically everything about you is a mystery. You’ve never even told me how you ended up in Starfleet in the first place.”

 

Spock lifted a brow. “You have never asked,” he pointed out.

 

Jim simply regarded him quietly. “And if I’m asking now?”

 

“I applied to Starfleet as a second option if I was not admitted to the Vulcan Science Academy. I was as close to certain of my acceptance as it was possible to be, but absolute certainty was impossible. It was logical, therefore, to cultivate multiple options.”

 

“Spock, I’ve read some of the papers you’ve published. I can’t imagine you didn’t get in.”

 

“Your confidence is appreciated. And not unfounded; I was indeed admitted.”

 

“So . . . what happened, then?”

 

“By the end of the final interview it had been made quite clear that I had earned my spot despite the unfortunate handicap of my Human blood. I had spent the first eighteen years of my life enduring a society that believed me to be genetically inferior, and I realized quite suddenly that I had no wish to prolong that experience. I declined the board’s invitation. Quite rudely, I am afraid; I temporarily lost control of my emotions.”

 

“Well.” Jim’s lips were twitching oddly. “I’m sure that happens to every Vulcan sometimes, right?”

 

“It is not unheard of, but it is extremely rare. Our emotions are extraordinarily intense. Only through kya’shin—the supremacy of thought over emotion—were we able to move beyond the violent impulses that governed our race for millennia. Were it not for my mitigating circumstances, I am certain that my outburst would have merely confirmed the board’s belief in my deficiency.”

 

“Mitigating circumstances?”

 

Spock paused, uncertain how much to reveal. However, he found that he could not answer Jim’s honesty with any less in return. “At the age of seven, Vulcan children are linked in the Telan t'Kanlar with the one who will later become their telsu. Their bondmate. It is . . . something more than a betrothal, but less than a marriage. One month before I sat the Academy’s entrance exam, my koon’ul-veh—my . . . intended—was killed in a cave-in. That I managed to take the exam at all was considered remarkable, and I believe that my subsequent score despite such duress was the deciding factor in my admittance.”

 

“Spock. God, I’m sorry.”

 

Kaiidth,” Spock said simply. “Regret will not change what is. We were not close; though her death and the severance of our bond was painful, it was not affecting on an emotional level. My father, however, believed that I was mistaken in that belief. One of the many benefits of a bond is the stabilizing influence that it can have on our emotions. This is regarded as especially necessary for young Vulcans, whose control is not yet perfected. He saw my outburst as further evidence that I should rebond as soon as possible.”

 

“Well, that does seem . . . ah, logical.”

 

“Perhaps,” Spock said again. “However, it was a prospect that held no appeal for me. I had acknowledged my bond with T’Pring as an inevitable necessity. To submit myself to another, however, when I was certain that it was not the imperative my father believed it to be, was intolerable. I flatly refused, and when he told me that the board would likely be willing to overlook my previous behavior if I were to acknowledge my mistake, I assured him that I had no further desire to attend that institution.”
 

“I’ll bet he took that well.”

 

“I believe that I was, once again, more expressly emotional than was entirely wise or appropriate. In the end he told me that if I persisted in my willfulness I would no longer be considered his son. I have not spoken to my parents since I left their home in Shi’Kahr. Instead of bonding with another with whom I shared nothing beyond the most basic mental compatibility and entering the VSA, I came to Starfleet.” He allowed one corner of his mouth to rise the barest fraction. “Because California is, apparently, where one goes.”

 

“I guess so,” Jim laughed. “Looks like we have more in common that I’d thought. Just a couple of runaways, you and me.” He drank the last of his water and recapped the bottle. “Thanks for telling me all that, Spock.”

 

“Sharing information about oneself . . . that is something that friends are meant to do, is it not?”

 

“It is. So I guess I’m glad, then, that you consider me your friend. Spock . . . I’ve never told anyone else about Tarsus before. Bones doesn’t even know; that part of my record is sealed under about a dozen different classification levels. I’d, ah . . .”

 

“It was something told in confidence,” Spock assured him. “I will tell no one if you do not wish it.”

 

“Thanks.” Jim took a deep breath and released it on a heavy sigh. “Shit, I want waffles. You hungry?”

 

“I would not object to eating at this time. However, I must ask something of you first.”

 

“I’d say you’ve earned the right. Shoot.”

 

“Do not take any further appointments outside of Velocity. Before you object,” he said when Jim opened his mouth, “allow me to finish. I am concerned for your safety, Jim. If you need additional funds, come to me. I would be more than willing to make a philanthropic donation to bring your friend Kevin here to Earth; perhaps he would feel more secure in such close proximity to Starfleet Headquarters. Or, if you object to my direct contribution, allow me to aid you in raising the money in some other way.”

 

“Spock . . .”

 

“Please, Jim.” He reached out and, feeling remarkably bold, settled his hand briefly against Jim’s arm. “Let me help.”

 

Jim opened his mouth, closed it again. “If I say no, you’re just going to team up with Bones on this too, aren’t you?”

 

“The likelihood seems high, yes.”

 

“This isn’t your battle, Spock.”

 

“Neither is it yours. But that does not stop you from wishing to help your friend.”

 

“You know, for a guy who claims no interest in emotions, you’re pretty damn good at manipulating them to get what you want.” He sighed. “Okay. I promise, I’ll come to you first.”

 

“Thank you, Jim.” They turned together and began to walk towards the path that led to the park’s entrance. “You are aware,” Spock said after several silent minutes, “that I am leaving next week for a training mission.”

 

“That’s the rumor,” Jim confirmed.

 

“There are a series of lectures being given at the Academy during that time; I will be away for most of them, but the final one is scheduled for the day after my return. Dr. Oani will be presenting her latest paper on terraforming and engineered foods. I wondered if you might be interested in attending with me. It is scheduled for the evening of the fifteenth,” he clarified.

 

“I’ll have to check my schedule, but I don’t think I have anything booked yet for the fifteenth. If it’s free I’ll keep it that way; it sounds like that’ll be interesting.”

 

“Dr. Oani is one of the leading researchers in her field; it should be a fascinating presentation. If there is sufficient time, she will even be taking questions after her lecture is concluded.”

 

“You sure know how to show a guy a good time,” Jim said with a laugh. “C’mon. I’m starving.”




>>Part 7

 

Chapter Text

Title: Streetlight People
Author: [info]ladyblahblah 
Artist: [info]cannedebonbon 
Mixer: [info]jouissant 
Beta: [info]ninjaboots 
Series: STXI/Reboot/as you will
Character/Pairing(s): Kirk/Spock; minor/implied McCoy/Gaila, Uhura/Chapel, Pike/Number One, OFC/OFC
Disclaimer: I own everything, but only in my fevered dreams.  Man, my dream!royalty checks are EPIC.  My payment for this in real life, however, is nonexistent.
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: prostitution, mentioned childhood sexual abuse, mentioned genocide, implied violence
Summary: AU. Strangers waitin' up and down the boulevard, their shadows searchin' in the night.  Streetlight people, living just to find emotion; hiding somewhere in the night.
Author's Note: Cluebat #1 makes an appearance!  I almost feel bad for how mean I'm being.  Then I remember how fun it is, and the feeling passes.  Mother Theresa I ain't.

 

 




Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

 

 

 

 

 

“Aylin,” Jim said sharply. “I put in the request nearly two weeks ago. You approved it. I have the fifteenth off, and I’m not giving it up. Why are we still talking about this? I’m sure you can find Miss . . .” He glanced at the display in front of him. “. . . Henneke someone else to entertain her.”

 

“She asked for you specifically, Jim. Won’t you consider rescheduling your other plans? Miss Henneke is fantastically well connected, and she always books with Scarlet Orchid. But apparently a friend of hers raved about you—”

 

“Who’s her friend?”

 

“Tosha Gath.”

 

“Ah. Yeah.” Jim didn’t even try to hide a smug smile. “She would have raved.”

 

“So pretty, and modest too,” Aylin said dryly.

 

“Modesty is for people who don’t have anything to brag about.”

 

“But you do, so use your powers for good. One evening, Jim, that’s all I’m asking. What happened to your pride in your reputation? She asked for you by name; doesn’t that mean anything to you?”

 

“It does, so try to book her for another night. I’d be more than happy to show her a good time, on any other night.”

 

“That’s a great idea. Of course, in the meantime, the party she needs the date for will be over and done, and all of the potential new contacts she could bring in for us will be long gone.”

 

“So send someone else for the party!” Jim said in exasperation. “I can name a half-dozen other guys who’d fit the bill. Three of whom look enough like me to be frankly kind of creepy, I’ve actually been meaning to mention.”

 

“You’re the best we have and you know it,” she said flatly. “She doesn’t just want Velocity, Jim. She wants you.”

 

“Then convince her that she doesn’t. Come on, Aylin, you can sell anybody on anything. This’ll be a cakewalk for you.”

 

“You think you’re charming when you flatter me like that, but actually you’re just annoying.” She sighed. “Fine, okay, you won’t take the job. What am I supposed to tell her?”

 

“Whatever you want. Tell her I’m sick; tell her I’m already booked; hell, you could even go crazy and tell her the truth: that I’m an employee, not a sex slave, and I have the right to a damned day off.”

 

Aylin blinked and sat back in her chair. “Take a deep breath, Jim, and calm down. You know full well I won’t try to make you do anything you don’t really want to do.” She pursed her lips. “You’re very testy lately.”

 

“Yeah, well, repeating yourself for about twenty minutes straight will have that effect on most people.”

 

“And if you really expect me to believe that’s all that’s going on, you must believe I recently suffered some sort of debilitating head injury. You’ve been off for days.”

 

“What are you talking about?” Jim asked uneasily. “Has someone put in a complaint?”

 

“No,” she assured him, “your feedback from clients has been as glowing as ever. This is coming from me. I’ve known you for close to four years now, Jim; I know what your moods look like.” She regarded him cautiously for a moment. “You haven’t let me get a read on you in months. You know you’ll have to submit to a reading at your yearly physical, don’t you?” Jim didn’t say anything, and she sighed again. “Maybe we’ve been overbooking you. You’re the best I have, but I don’t want to work you into the ground. Do you need to cut down on your appointments for a while, take a breather?”

 

“No. I don’t want to stop working, I just . . .” He sighed, as well. “It’s just a mood. It’ll pass.”

 

“You know, it might help if you went out once or twice. Your friend Gaila says she hasn’t seen you all week. She must be pretty worried if she’s calling here; I know having any contact with this place makes her nervous.”

 

“How did you know Gaila’s called? Did you talk to her?”

 

“No. Ruth told me she’d left a few messages.” Aylin lifted an eyebrow when Jim scowled. “Don’t give me that look. If you want to keep things private, why don’t you have her call your personal line?”

 

“She doesn’t have the number,” he muttered. “I don’t really give it out. And I’m fine, I just haven’t felt much like going out lately. I have reading I want to get caught up on, anyway, so I’ve been staying in a lot.”

 

“Well.” Aylin made a notation on her screen. “You have tomorrow night free so far, and I’m gonna keep it that way. Go out, have a drink, see your friends. Snap out of this mood you’re in.” She looked him up and down for a moment. “Anything else you want to talk about, Jim? Anything I should know?”

 

“Just that . . .” Jim paused, shook his head. “Just that I’m gonna be late for my appointment tonight if I don’t get a move on.”

 

“Mr. Venning again, right? He certainly didn’t waste any time once we let him book with you again.”

 

“That’s the idea, right? Keep ‘em coming back for more.”

 

“Hmm. You’ll tell me if there’s trouble there, won’t you, Jim?”

 

“Of course.” Jim stood. “Gotta go get ready.”

 

“Okay.” Aylin began tapping at her screen to call up new information. “If Penny’s already out there, tell her to come on in, will you?”

 

“Sure thing.”

 

Penny was idly braiding her long blonde hair in the waiting room outside of Aylin’s office, but she abandoned the task with a smile when Jim stepped out. She hopped up off of the couch and slipped past him with a wave, heading inside before Jim could say so much as a word. He let out a relieved breath as she went; he wasn’t really in the mood to talk to anyone, anyway.

 

The public shuttles would be shady at this time of night, and he thought for the dozenth time about retrieving his motorcycle from storage so that he wouldn’t have to bother with it. For now, though, he would just use the company’s facilities to get ready and book one of the cars to meet Lucien. He keyed the request into his PADD and headed for his prep room.

 

Jim tried not to think too much about what Aylin had said as he stepped into the shower. The truth was, he knew full well that he’d been in a touchy mood for the past several days. It was why he’d stopped going to Catspaw; he was in no state for casual socializing. Besides, it wasn’t the same anymore without Spock there to hang out with. Jim was no longer content to simply sit alone and drink, or to strike up a conversation with people he didn’t know. Even Bones, on the one night he’d managed to talk Jim into going out, had commented on Jim’s strange behavior. God knew it must have been bad if Bones was calling him antisocial.

 

It wasn’t like he had the time to go out anyway, Jim reminded himself. He’d been spending the past several days tracking down Dr. Oani’s previous papers and reading up on her research. Spock had seemed already familiar with her work, and Jim already had to work to keep up with him on his best days; he didn’t want to show up at this lecture at an obvious disadvantage.

 

Of course, he thought sullenly, reading the articles he’d found was only serving so far to make him even more irritated by Spock’s absence. There were so many points of Dr. Oani’s research that he wanted to discuss with his friend, and the fact that he wouldn’t be able to do so for several more days was driving him crazy. He’d taken to highlighting passages that he wanted to discuss, and had eventually started making notes on his thoughts as he read. Jim snorted. It was almost like being in school again, and though he was reluctant to admit it there was a part of him that took genuine enjoyment in the practice.

 

He shook himself out of his thoughts and turned off the water. It was time to focus on his work; he would have plenty of time to sulk over Starfleet’s training schedules later on. Though in all honesty, he still thought that ten days seemed a bit excessive, especially for the year’s first mission. If it was the year’s first. Why hadn’t he asked more questions when Spock had told him about this?

 

Not that it mattered, he told himself sternly. He could curse his own lack of interrogation skills afterwards.

 

Jim finished getting ready and turned to leave, hesitating as he looked at his bag. He wouldn’t really need it; Lucien hadn’t paid for a full night, so after they finished Jim would be going back home. Of course, he reasoned, if he left it here he’d have to stop back by Velocity instead of going straight to his apartment. It was practical, really, to take it with him.

 

His transport had hardly pulled out of the building before he had the journal article and his PADD out of the bag. It was a twenty-minute ride to the apartment that Lucien kept in the city, after all; he’d just read a page or two and then get his head back in the game.

 

“Jim!” Lucien greeted him at the door, a warm smile on his face. “Right on time, too, bless your punctual heart. Come in.”

 

“Mmm.” Jim stepped inside and into Lucien’s personal space, smirking slightly when the older man closed the door behind him but made no move to step away. “You smell good. New cologne?”

 

“A gift from one of my clients,” he murmured as his arms slipped around Jim’s waist. “She was at the charity event I attended tonight, so I made a point to wear it. You like it?”

 

“It suits you.” Jim brought their lips together in a light, easy kiss. “Enough that I might actually forgive you for not inviting me to your fundraiser.”

 

Lucien laughed. “It wasn’t my fundraiser, beautiful, I was just there. And I’ve told you, I can’t take you out with me while you’re working for Velocity. If one of my clients or competitors recognized you, I’d never live it down.” He slid his hands down Jim’s arms until his fingers were loosely linked around Jim’s wrists.

 

“Ahh, not tonight.” Jim pulled away gently and stepped back, fixing Lucien with a chiding look. “This is an official visit, remember? That means nothing the boss lady wouldn’t approve of.”

 

“If she wouldn’t approve of me holding your wrists I can’t imagine what she’s going to think of what I plan on doing to you next,” Lucien said with an exaggerated leer.

 

“Don’t play dumb now; you know that’s always how you start.” Jim lifted his eyebrows as he backed towards the bedroom. “Remember last month? I know I do.”

 

Lucien groaned, but followed without complaint. “You’re a horrible tease, Jim.”

 

“I know. That’s why you like me so much.”

 

In the bedroom Lucien caught up with him again, tugging him into his arms and sliding the strap of Jim’s bag off of his shoulder as he pressed a line of kisses along Jim’s jaw. “I’d like it even better if you’d consider my proposal,” he murmured. “I’d be happy to take you with me then to any events you wanted to attend.”

 

“Such a tempting offer,” Jim grinned, and set to work removing Lucien’s jacket. “But I do have a contract at Velocity, you know.”

 

Lucien made a dismissive sound against Jim’s skin. “I break contracts for a living. I’d take excellent care of you, Jim. This apartment could be yours; you’d never want for anything, I promise.” He nipped at Jim’s exposed collarbone as he slowly unbuttoned his shirt. “I hate that I have to share you.”

 

“You’re not sharing me tonight.” Jim brought their mouths together again and moved back towards the bed. Lucien followed, but as he stepped forward his foot slipped on something and he had to scramble for his balance.

 

“What the—” Lucien leaned down and picked up the glossy journal that had fallen halfway out of Jim’s bag when it fell. “Ah, the pages are bent. Sorry.” He flipped it over idly, and his brows shot up when he caught sight of the front cover. “Biogenetic Ethics?” He grinned and tossed the journal onto the nightstand as he resumed his stalk towards the bed. “A bit of light reading, eh?”

 

Jim laughed, hoping that it didn’t sound quite as uneasy as it felt. “Something like that. Come here.”

 

They came together again, shedding each other’s clothing with single-minded intent now as Lucien pressed Jim back onto the bed. His hands were warm, his mouth wet, and Jim did his best to clear his thoughts of everything beyond the moment. It was usually easy for him, a simple matter to focus on nothing but the physical sensations of sex. But for some reason now his mind kept returning to the sight of the half-crumpled journal in Lucien’s hands, the worry that the pages with the article hadn’t been badly damaged. Determined to get his thoughts back on track, he rolled them over and began to trail his mouth down Lucien’s body, focusing on the pleasant feel of warm skin and firm muscle beneath his lips. He’d barely begun, though, when Lucien groaned and rolled Jim onto his back again.

 

“We have the rest of the night for slow,” he rasped, and seized Jim’s mouth in a hot kiss. “I need to have you first. Now.”

 

“Yes,” Jim breathed eagerly, “yes, now.”

 

Lucien grabbed the lube that was set out on the nightstand and Jim rolled to his hands and knees, lowering his head and arching his back the way he knew Lucien liked. His reward was another deep groan and a warm, strong body draped over his back. Teeth scraped against the back of his neck, making him shiver and press back eagerly against the teasing pressure. Lucien laughed lowly and began to worry at the skin there in earnest, his fingers sliding and slicking their way between Jim’s legs. Then one finger pushed into Jim’s body and wrung a moan from both of them.

 

“Always so tight,” Lucien murmured, working that finger in and out for a few moments before adding a second one. “I could almost come just from the thought of how you’ll feel around my cock.”

 

Jim was fully hard now himself and pushing back against the fingers filling him, his thoughts scattering as he finally lost himself in the moment. “More,” he demanded hoarsely, and felt the vibrations of Lucien’s chuckle cascading down his spine.

 

“Already desperate, just from my fingers.” He added a third, and Jim dropped his head with a gasp. “I’m tempted to see if you can get off like this, with nothing but my fingers. We’ve never done that before, have we? Mmm, maybe later, when I’m not about ready to explode.” Jim couldn’t hold back a whimper. “Ah, you like that thought, don’t you? Shouldn’t surprise me, as fixated as you are on hands.” His teeth caught at Jim’s earlobe. “Didn’t you say that was the first thing you noticed about me? Big, strong hands with long fingers?”

 

Jim was panting, so focused on his breathing that he couldn’t manage more than a nod. It was true, he’d always loved big hands on a man, always found himself drawn to the thought of a strong, wide grip and elegant pale fingers. Fingers that would feel so good buried in him just like this, and oh god, to see Spock’s face when he felt Jim squeezing tight around them—

 

Shock stole his breath for several long seconds. He didn’t . . . he hadn’t just . . . he had always thought Spock had great hands, of course he had, but . . . he lost his train of thought again as those fingers pulled out and gripped Jim’s hips instead. Then Jim was being filled again, strong hands gripping tight to hold him still, and he could see them in his mind’s eye, pale and perfect against his darker skin. Trembling, he dropped to his forearms and let his forehead rest against the bed, his hips already moving back against each heavy thrust.

 

The floodgates were open now, and he couldn’t stop. It seemed that he could feel the heat of Spock’s skin, the brand of his mouth as it traced over his spine. Spock inside of him, and Jim wanted, he wanted so desperately, already skirting the thin and shaky edge. Warm breath against his skin, sharp snaps of strong hips. A deep, desperate groan when Jim tightened helplessly as his pleasure built.

 

He was suddenly lifted, pulled back to straddle the body that knelt behind him, arms like steel bands across his chest and stomach. Jim began to ride with no prompting from his partner, spurred on by the pressure growing tighter and tighter at the base of his spine. Then his hips shifted, the next thrust grazed his prostate, and Jim was coming with a shout without his cock ever being touched.

 

He was hardly aware of the way those arms tightened and the hips jerked harder, or the shuddering groan an instant before Jim felt his body filled with liquid heat. He was, in fact, still dazed when he found himself laid out on the bed, sheets draped over him to the waist and Lucien smiling down at him with a smug sort of wonder.

 

“That was . . .” He laughed softly and leaned down to press a warm, chaste kiss to Jim’s lips. “I’ve never seen you let go like that,” he said with a smile. “You’ll have to be patient with me now, though; I don’t know how soon I can go again after that.” Another quiet kiss. “I’ve never felt anything like it.”

 

“Yeah.” Jim took a deep, unsteady breath and tried to smile. “Me neither.”

 

 

*****************************
 

 

Jim had been pounding on the door for nearly five minutes straight by the time it jerked open so that Bones could fix him with a murderous glare.

 

“Jim.” Sleep-blurred hazel eyes sharpened as the passed in an instinctive scan over the length of Jim’s body. Apparently finding him at least outwardly hale and hearty, the scowl returned full force. “What in the name of—hey!” He stumbled back as Jim moved past him into the small apartment, already heading for the couch.

 

“Hey, Bones, you’re still up? Good!”

 

“No, I’m not still up. I’m up again because you wouldn’t stop pounding on my goddamn door. Do you have any idea what time it is?”

 

“Quarter after two. Or at least it was when I got here; I’m guessing two-twenty, two-twenty-five now? You took forever to let me in.”

 

“That’s because I was asleep. It’s what normal, sane people are doing this time of night, especially when they pulled a double shift at the clinic the day before and have an exam the next morning! Wait a second.” He followed Jim, still scowling. “How the hell . . . okay, Jim, I know you don’t have a lot of respect for the confidentiality of Starfleet records, but you’re veering uncomfortably close to stalking at this point.”

 

“What the hell are you talking about?”

 

“It’s where you got my address, isn’t it?”

 

Jim looked at him askance. “Okay, do you really not remember or has your brain just not entirely woken up yet?”

 

“Huh?”

 

“I’ve been here before, Bones.” The baffled look on his friend’s face nearly made Jim smile. “Actually, I’m not surprised you don’t remember; you were pretty wasted. That’s why I had to haul you back here—there was no way you’d have made it home by yourself. I brought you in and force fed you some water before you passed out.”

 

“What? When?”

 

“About . . . three months after we met, I think?” Jim said, thinking back. “It was the night after you got that letter from Jocelyn’s lawyers.”

 

“Oh.” Bones’s face shut down, and he shuffled awkwardly from foot to foot. “I, ah . . . yeah.”

 

“Well, get ready for some déjà vu. Glasses, we need glasses.” He shucked the paper sack off of the bottle of bourbon he had carried in and glanced up when Bones didn’t move. “Bones, you have about twenty seconds to get some fucking glasses before I start drinking straight from the bottle, and once I start doing that I’m not sharing. Glasses. Now.”

 

Bones looked startled, but he nodded and headed for the kitchen. “All right. Good lord, man, just take a deep breath and calm down.” He came back a moment later with two short glasses, holding them out while Jim poured. “Okay. Now sit your ass down and tell me what has you freaking out.”

 

Jim didn’t sit so much as he collapsed, his legs gratefully giving up on the task of keeping him upright. He took a deep breath, tossed back his bourbon in one swallow, and let out an explosive breath. “I’m in love with Spock.”

 

The sight of Bones choking on his bourbon was almost worth the panic currently clawing at Jim’s gut; he poured another drink to try to drown the feeling. “Are you trying to kill me?” Bones wheezed at last, eyes red and watering as Jim held his glass in unsteady hands.

 

“It all makes sense,” Jim muttered instead of answering. “Shit, this must’ve been building for weeks. Months, maybe. Fuck, since I first met him for all I know.” He downed his second drink in as many minutes, relishing the way the liquor burned its way down his throat. “How did I not see this coming? How did I not notice the clues? All that was missing was a big flashing neon sign that said, ‘You’re in love with Spock, you braindead moron.’”

 

“Okay, slow down.” Bones lowered himself into the chair across from the couch, regarded his own drink for a moment before knocking it back as well. “Okay,” he said, reaching for the bottle. “Start again from the beginning.”

 

“It all makes sense, doesn’t it?” Jim snatched the bottle from Bones’s hands. “You know Aylin spent almost half an hour today trying to convince me to take on a new client? Gorgeous older woman with deep pockets and dozens of rich friends she could’ve recommended Velocity to. She asked for me specifically. I turned it down, and do you know why?”

 

“I honestly couldn’t begin to guess.”

 

“Because the night she wanted to book is the night I’m supposed to go to a lecture on terraforming and the application of genetically engineered food. With Spock. I’ve refused all bookings for that date for the past two weeks because of that.”

 

“Well, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything,” Bones protested as Jim poured another drink. “It’s not like you don’t have any interest in the subject, right?”

 

“Oh, no, I have plenty of interest. Enough interest to have spent the past eight days reading up on all of this woman’s research. I’ve barely been outside my apartment for anything other than work in more than a week.”

 

“Well, there, you see—”

 

“It doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m reading!” Jim exploded. “Well, okay, maybe a little; it really is interesting, and she’s made a lot of really good points I’d love to talk about, but . . . right! That! You see?”

 

“Not even remotely. You’re gonna have to drag me along here, Jim.”

 

“All this time, all I’ve been able to think about is talking to Spock about what I’ve read when he gets back. I’ve actually been counting the days he’s been gone; I haven’t gone to Catspaw because it’s not the same anymore without him there. I’ve been . . . I’ve been freaking pining!”

 

“Well . . .”

 

“I’ve opened up to him the way I haven’t to anybody else. He knows things about me; I’ve told him things about me. He knows about my past, my family. He knows my real name, for fuck’s sake. And I gave him my personal number!” He took another long drink. “Do you know how many other people have that number, Bones?” he said through a gasp as he lowered his glass. “Three. Gaila doesn’t have it, Ruth doesn’t unless Aylin told her; Johnny doesn’t even have it and I’ve known him since I was four years old.”

 

“So Spock’s a good friend. That doesn’t necessarily mean—”

 

“That’s not the worst. Tonight I . . . I started thinking about him during sex. With a client. God, how fucking unprofessional.” He scrubbed a hand across his face and glared at the smirk Bones was doing a piss-poor job of hiding. “It’s not funny,” he snapped. “It’s a damn good thing Lucien didn’t realize what was going on; I could’ve lost one of my best clients.”

 

“Too bad you didn’t,” Bones murmured, and then suddenly snapped to attention. “Wait, Lucien? Goddamn it, Jim.” He got to his feet and Jim frowned.


“Where are you going?”

 

“To get my bag,” Bones growled. “I can’t do a full work-up on you here, and I’m not on duty tomorrow so you’ll have to get someone else to give you the hypos you’ll need. But I can at least patch you up, so just sit still.”

 

“No, I—Bones, sit your ass back down. This was a legitimate job, I don’t need you to do anything. That’s right,” he snorted. “How could I have forgotten that part? I’m not taking any side jobs anymore. I promised Spock I wouldn’t.”

 

Bones paused, his eyes fixed unblinking on Jim. “You promised Spock you wouldn’t?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“I’ve been trying to get you to quit that idiotic, self-destructive behavior for almost a year. You know him a couple months and he gets you to do it? What, does he have some sort of compromising evidence on you or something?”

 

“No.” Jim stared down at the drink in his hands and shrugged. “He just . . . asked.”

 

“Shit.” Bones sat back down. “You’re really serious, aren’t you?”

 

“I can’t stop thinking about him,” Jim said despondently. “I mean, it’s not like I didn’t always know he was hot. If he’d hired me I’d have had a hell of a good time with it. But now . . .”

 

“It’s an all-the-time thing now, huh?” Bones said sympathetically. “I remember when it was like that with Jo, back when we first met.”

 

Jim nodded, finishing his drink. “I jerked myself off twice in the shower tonight thinking about him.”

 

“Oh, hell, Jim,” Bones winced, “that’s just not something I need to know!”

 

“And that was after I got home from Lucien’s! That shouldn’t be physically possible, should it? I shouldn’t have even been able to get it up, much less—”

 

“You finish that sentence and I’m throwing you out.”

 

“I’d just start thinking about his hands again, and then . . . god, they’re perfect. Have you ever taken a really good look at them? Like half the wet dreams I had as a teenager come to life. Just imagining how it’d feel to have them—”

 

“Damn it, Jim, I’m not kidding, just st—” Bones stopped, blinking. “Hands? Really?”

 

Jim glared again. “What, are you going to mock my kinks in the middle of my crisis?”

 

“Sorry,” Bones grinned. “It’s just that . . . well, that seems so tame for you. It’s almost sweet.”

 

Jim groaned, burying his face in his hand. “This is a disaster.”

 

“Oh, come on, a little hand kink isn’t so bad.”

 

“Are you trying to be funny?” Jim demanded, his voice half-muffled by his hand.

 

“Not especially.” Bones took a thoughtful drink. “But is it, really?”

 

“Is what really what?”

 

“Is it really a disaster, you being in love with Spock? Seems to me like the two of you might actually be good for each other.”

 

Jim sat up again. “Are you kidding me? What part of this doesn’t have disaster written all over it?” He shook his head. “Do you know the first thing they teach you when you start working in this business?”

 

“Thank god, no.”

 

“Don’t fall for your clients. It’s the first commandment of the escort trade. Aylin told me that when I started at Velocity, and I laughed. I don’t get love and sex confused. Ever. Most of the time I don’t even think they have anything to do with each other.” He laughed now, and it sounded hollow to his own ears. “So the one guy I finally fall for is one I’ll never be able to have a physical relationship with.” He raised his glass to his lips again. “Is that irony,” he wondered, “or is it just what happened? I can’t tell anymore; I’m pretty fucking trashed.”

 

“Jim—”

 

“Be honest, Bones,” Jim said quietly, his eyes never lifting any higher than the drink in his hands. “Do you really think it’s possible for this to end in anything other than disaster? For all that Vulcans claim to have total control over their emotions, you know as well as I do how proud they can be. Do you think Spock would actually want a man who makes his living selling his body, flaunting the idea of physicality over everything else?” He shook his head. “Hell, do you think he’d want a man at all? I’m pretty sure he’s only ever been romantically involved with two people before, and they’re both women. For that matter, do gay Vulcans even exist? Wouldn’t that be illogical, indulging in sex for nothing more than physical pleasure?” He finished off his bourbon and set the glass on the coffee table with a heavy thunk. “The deck is so stacked against me it’s ridiculous.”

 

Bones finished his drink, as well, and they sat in silence for a moment. “Have you mentioned any of this to him?” he asked at last.

 

“No,” Jim said emphatically, panic clawing at him again at the mere thought. “No, no, no. He can’t ever know about this.”

 

“Don’t you think—”

 

“No. I don’t. That kind of emotional declaration? It’ll freak him out, maybe badly enough that he won’t be willing to even see me anymore. No,” he said again, shaking his head. “At least this way I’ll still be able to be his friend. Just that much seemed like a huge step for him; I know how lucky I am. I won’t do anything to risk that.”

 

Silence fell again for several minutes before Bones sighed and put the cap back on the bottle. “It might be a good idea to take some more time apart from each other. Sort out your feelings a bit.”

 

“Yeah,” Jim said quietly. “Yeah, I probably should.”

 

“But you’re not going to,” Bones said shrewdly. He sighed again and stood. “You aren’t in any shape to get yourself home; you can crash there on the couch tonight. C’mon, lie down.” He stepped over and pressed at Jim’s shoulder until he complied, reaching down to pull Jim’s shoes off before he walked off, returning with a blanket and pillow that hit Jim square in the chest. “Get some rest. I’ll leave a hypo for you, but you’ll still need to drink as much water as you can stomach.”

 

“Thanks, Bones.” Jim’s eyes were already drifting closed. “Y’re a good friend.”

 

“Nah. Just an old romantic fool.” The light clicked off. “Things’ll look better in the morning,” was the last thing that Jim heard before sleep took him.

 

He hoped like hell that it was true.



>>Part 8

 

Chapter Text

Title: Streetlight People
Author: [info]ladyblahblah 
Artist: [info]cannedebonbon 
Mixer: [info]jouissant 
Beta: [info]ninjaboots 
Series: STXI/Reboot/as you will
Character/Pairing(s): Kirk/Spock; minor/implied McCoy/Gaila, Uhura/Chapel, Pike/Number One, OFC/OFC
Disclaimer: I own everything, but only in my fevered dreams.  Man, my dream!royalty checks are EPIC.  My payment for this in real life, however, is nonexistent.
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: prostitution, mentioned childhood sexual abuse, mentioned genocide, implied violence
Summary: AU. Strangers waitin' up and down the boulevard, their shadows searchin' in the night.  Streetlight people, living just to find emotion; hiding somewhere in the night.
Author's Note: A random TOS cameo, and me making excuses to address some issues I have with XI-canon.  Because what's the use of writing fanfic if you can't use it to bitch about the things that don't make any damned sense?

 

 




Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim was never entirely comfortable on the Starfleet Academy campus. There were too many people who might notice how much he looked like George Kirk; too many who might recognize him from his early days at Velocity, before he’d learned better than to accept any invitations to Starfleet functions and started giving the personnel a wide berth. His father was everywhere here, just as he had been in Riverside, as though the buildings and grounds had somehow absorbed a part of him when he died. Unless he was coming to see Bones, Jim usually avoided this place like the plague.

 

God, being in love was a pain in the ass.

 

Spock had been gone for ten days, he reminded himself, even as he checked the map he had pulled up on his PADD and headed for the Admiral Maxwell Forrest Memorial Building. Surely Jim could stand to wait another hour and a half and simply meet Spock at the lecture hall. He should turn around right now. Go grab a cup of coffee; a drink; a sedative, maybe. He was a grown man, there was really no excuse for acting like a lovestruck teenager with his first crush.

 

He heard Spock’s voice as soon as the door to the classroom opened and had to take a moment to banish the idiotic grin that sprung to his face at the sound. If he could fake romantic attachment on a regular basis, after all, surely he could manage to fake the opposite easily enough. Still, he took a moment to admire the shine of Spock’s hair as he bent over his console, calling up an image on the viewscreen that stretched across the front of the room. Jim took advantage of his distraction to slip into the room unnoticed and take an empty seat at the back beside a familiar face.

 

“Did I miss anything good?” he whispered.

 

Jim?” Chris Chapel stared back at him like she thought he might be a hallucination. She glanced around as if to confirm that she was in the right place herself, and turned back to him. “What are you doing here?” she hissed under her breath.

 

“Just taking in a show.”

 

She looked as though she might want to say more, but she simply shook her head with a quelling glance his way and turned her attention back to the front of the room. Jim quickly followed her example.

 

It was the first time he had seen Spock in anything other than his Vulcan robes, and Jim spent several long minutes simply drinking in the sight as he listened to the sound of that deep, measured voice. Spock’s body was as long and lean as Jim had ever imagined, broad shoulders and slim hips showcased to perfection by the Academy blacks he wore. He moved back and forth across the front of the room with controlled, graceful steps, hands firmly clasped at the small of his back. Watching him, Jim wondered what it might take to relax that rigid posture. He had a few ideas.

 

It wasn’t until he realized that he’d somehow entered his usual mindset when dealing with a new client, and had already come up with a dozen ways to make Spock come without even using his hands, that he decided he probably ought to snap out of it. With a rapidly warming face he straightened in his seat and focused his attention.

 

“—certain moral absolutes,” a cadet at the front of the room was saying, and Spock tilted his head fractionally.

 

“Expand.”

 

“Some things are just wrong, no matter how you look at them. There are ten dead from the Vorth’s last bombing alone. That’s murder, no matter what name you stick on it. We all know the neani bushes have some sort of religious or cultural significance to them, but the preservation of their culture can’t justify taking those lives; nothing can.”

 

“Bullshit.”

 

Nearly every head turned to Jim then, Spock’s included. One eyebrow hitched a fraction higher, but otherwise he betrayed no reaction to the sight of Jim sitting comfortably at the back of his class.

 

“Mr. Rivers.” Spock took a step forward. “You have a dissenting opinion?”

 

Jim felt himself flush slightly; it hadn’t been his intention to speak, but now that he had he wasn’t going to back down. “Yes, sir,” he said with a hint of a smirk. “My opinion is that Cadet . . .”

 

“Finnegan,” was the belligerent response from the front of the room.

 

“Right, thanks. It’s my opinion that Cadet Finnegan is talking out of his ass.”

 

“I see,” Spock said over the mingled sounds of outrage and amusement that filled the room, his eyes locked solidly on Jim’s. “Expand.”

 

Jim’s heart gave a hard thump, but he straightened gamely in his seat. “There’s no such thing as a moral absolute. There can’t be in a galaxy this big, with so much we don’t know about yet. Saying that there is never a justification for a loss of life is naïve, and certainly not a belief that a Starfleet officer can afford to hold.”

 

“So what,” Cadet Finnegan demanded, “it’s fine and good for the Vorth to kill as many of the colonists as they want? Those are the lives of Federation citizens being lost; you think that’s acceptable, do you?”

 

“I think it’s necessary,” Jim answered sharply. “The colony was established as a dilithium mining operation; that’s fine, the Vorth aren’t even interested in reaching space at all, much less in becoming warp-capable. But the mining process itself is altering the chemistry of the soil in the surrounding area.”

 

“Yes, and the neani bushes around the mines are dying,” Finnegan said, clearly impatient. “We all know this. But the Vorth wouldn’t be living in those areas anyway; it’s all land they’ve handed over to the colonists. The only dead zones that are being created are in places they wouldn’t be staying, anyway. I know it’s unfortunate, but it’s hardly enough to justify this sort of ecoterrorism.”

 

“I’m sorry, were you dropped on your head as a child, or were you born this stupid? Haven’t you noticed that all the bombings have been suicide bombings? That’s hardly necessary, considering that their goal in every case has quite clearly been to destroy the mining equipment itself, usually at hours when there’s just a skeleton staff present on-site. The dead areas aren’t just offensive to them on a cultural basis; they’re actively toxic. The symbiosis between them and their environment looks to be greater than anyone had assumed, and it seems to be specifically tied to the neani bushes, as well. And speaking of the neani bushes, what about them?”

 

“What about them? The areas of deforestation aren’t any larger than what might occur in order to clear adequate space for grazing livestock, which means that the colonists are still within their rights according to the standard settlement treaty. And it’s not as though this is the only place on Tanean III they grow; you can find them all over the southern continent, so the colonists also haven’t broken the terms of ‘not driving to extinction any distinct life form.’ You can’t seriously be arguing that a few hectares of shrubs and grasses are worth the dozens of sentient lives that the Vorth have taken.”

 

“That’s almost a good point, except that your information is about three months too old.”

 

There was a pause, then, “What do you—”

 

“There’s evidence now that suggests the neani bushes are actually sentient. The readings that research teams took before the Vorth became hostile suggests that they and the neani are symbiotically linked, and that they might actually be in either telepathic or empathic communication. Killing the neani, in addition to being physically and psychically painful to the Vorth, is murder in and of itself. The Vorth opened up their planet to a strange new species, and the colonists responded with mass murder. It’s not just idealism and cultural significance that has them resorting to violence; it’s survival. Or is sentient life only valuable when it looks like you?”

 

“The land that has been cleared,” Spock said into the stunned silence that followed, “represents some several hundred neani bushes. Dr. Aydi’s article on the phenomenon draws the comparison of renting out a room to a promising young applicant, only to discover upon your return one month later that they had slaughtered every person within a five-block radius.”

 

He turned back to the front of the hall, talking as he went. “As it seems the only person in this room to have read the assigned article is the one not actually enrolled in this course, I must conclude that the acquisition of knowledge for its own sake has provided insufficient motivation. I will, therefore, expect an essay from each of you, of no fewer than ten-thousand words, detailing your own views on the situation on Tanaen III. Those not on my desk by Monday morning will not be counted. And for those of you who have done the reading,” he said, turning again to cast an unyielding gaze on the assembled students, “remember that participation in my class is mandatory. Perhaps next time you will feel moved to add to the discussion. Class dismissed.”

 

“Well,” Jim said as he and Chris rose amidst the discontented grumbles and bitter glares of the other cadets fleeing the scene. “I think I just made a whole classroom full of fans, what do you think?”

 

Chris snorted. “You’re lucky you’re not an actual cadet. Finnegan doesn’t tend to react well to people making him look stupid. Which is a little odd, considering how often it happens.”

 

Jim laughed. “Looking for someone?” he asked a moment later, and Chris’s eyes whipped back around from where they had been scanning the cadets near the door.

 

“Sorry. My friend is supposed to meet me here after class, so . . .” Her gaze fell on the front of the room again and she sighed. “She’s quick, I’ve gotta give her that.”

 

Jim followed her gaze to see Spock talking with a stunning female cadet, all long limbs and sleek hair and dark, smooth skin. “That’s your friend?”

 

“Mm-hmm. I’m pretty sure I’m just her beard right now, though. She doesn’t have a class with Professor Spock anymore, so she has to work at it if she wants to find an excuse to talk to him. Which she always does.” She stared down at them, and there was something on her face that was wistful and sad and, to Jim’s consternation, newly familiar.

 

“Don’t tell me you have a thing for him, too,” he teased gently, and Chris flushed.

 

“No! Well . . . maybe a little. That’s how it is with Professor Spock, though—either you’re in love with him or you’re terrified of him. Sometimes both,” she amended. “Ny’s the only one I know who’s brave enough to keep seeking him out.”

 

“Ny?”

 

“Oh. Um. Uhura. Ny’s a nickname, but don’t tell her I mentioned that. She’s a little weird about it; I think I might be the only other cadet besides her roommate who actually knows her first name.” She smiled, a little sadly. “They look good together, don’t they? Anyway.” She made a visible effort to pull her eyes away from the two of them and back to Jim. “What are you doing here, besides making more work for everyone?”

 

“Picking up Spock, actually. We’re going to see Dr. Oani present her paper.”

 

“Oh.” Chris’s eyes went wide. “I, um. I wouldn’t have thought that Professor Spock would . . . um . . .”

 

“He wouldn’t,” Jim laughed when he caught on to her meaning, ignoring the way his heart seemed to be trying to seize in his chest. “Actually, I’m pretty sure he’s interested in your friend there. He and I are just . . . friends.”

 

Chris considered him for a moment and paled. “God. Am I that obvious when I talk about her, too?”

 

“Like recognizes like, right?” He gave another uneasy laugh and considered for a moment. “I won’t tell if you won’t.”

 

“Deal.” She began to head down the stairs, and Jim followed. “I’m going to be furious with you later, by the way. I’m probably going to have to cancel our night out to finish the essay you just got us assigned.”


“Poor baby.” He slung an arm around her shoulders. “Do the reading next time.”

 

“An excellent recommendation,” Spock commented as they drew close. His eyebrow lifted slightly, though whether it was in response to Chris’s blush or Jim’s arm was anyone’s guess. “My apologies again,” he said, turning back to his previous conversation. “We do not seem to be catching each other at opportune times.”

 

“No,” Uhura answered, casting her own sidelong glance at Jim and Christine. “We don’t.” She smiled then, and Jim could see without a doubt why Spock would have fallen for this woman. “Another time?”

 

“That would be quite agreeable.”

 

“Good.” When she turned to face the other two Jim thought to introduce himself, but before he could speak a word she glanced from his arm to Chris’s face and said, “You ready?”

 

“Yeah.” She slipped from under Jim’s hold and sent him a little wave. “Don’t take it the wrong way when I say that I hope I don’t see you soon, Jim.”

 

“I won’t,” he grinned, and watched in unabashed appreciation as the two women walked away together.

 

He was in love, after all, not dead.

 

“So.” He turned back to Spock with an expectant look. “Was that her? It was, wasn’t it?”

 

“Could you possibly be more specific?”

 

Jim rolled his eyes. “The girl, the one you’ve been thinking of asking out. Uhura, right? Was she asking you out just now?” He was pleased when he managed a smile that hardly felt fake at all. “You should’ve gone if you wanted.”

 

“I considered . . .” Was it Jim’s imagination, or had Spock’s cheeks developed a faint green tinge? “But we had planned to attend this lecture since before my departure. And I have been . . . anticipating it.”

 

“Okay.” Jim couldn’t have helped the smile that spread across if he’d tried. “As long as you’re sure. Welcome back, by the way. Did the mission go well?”

 

“It was uneventful,” Spock said mildly. “I had not realized that you and Cadet Chapel were so well-acquainted.” He cast a speaking look Jim’s way. “Your claim becomes less believable all the time.”

 

“Hey now,” Jim protested. “She works with Bones at the clinic sometimes; she’s the only one who can keep him in line. And Gaila I met when she was tending bar at a Starfleet party I was taken to when I first started at Velocity—that’s what she was originally hired for at Catspaw, actually: working the bar when Johnny had the night off. But don’t worry, Spock,” he grinned. “You’re the only one I’ve picked out myself.”

 

“Indeed,” Spock said, though his expression was still clearly doubtful.

 

“I figured I’d say hi to her when I saw her here. I, ah . . .” Jim cleared his throat nervously. “I hope I didn’t screw up your class too much just now.”

 

“Not at all. In fact, you saved me the trouble of addressing many of the points you raised.” He began to pack away his things. “If I may ask, what prompted you to read that article?”

 

“Couldn’t very well come to class unprepared, could I? That would hardly be responsible.”

 

“Jim.”

 

“I was reading up on Dr. Oani,” Jim shrugged. “She cited Tanaen III when she was discussing potential problems with terraforming, and it sounded interesting. I tracked down some other articles about what was going on there, and I found Dr. Aydi’s work.”

 

“I see. And how would you recommend the situation be handled?”

 

“Am I going to get graded on this, Professor?”

 

Spock fixed him with a level gaze. “Perhaps.”

 

“Right. No pressure, then.” He settled into one of the front seats and considered. “The colonists have to be pulled out immediately,” he said after a moment. “That much is obvious. I know a lot of people are opposed to that; we’d be abandoning a pretty rich dilithium deposit, and it might come across as bowing to terrorist actions. But if they’re left there, all that’s going to happen is the loss of more and more of three different forms of sentient life. Recalling the colony is the only thing that’s going to stop the attacks at this point.

 

“After that . . . well, I hate to say it, but the Federation’s relationship with the Vorth—and the neani, for that matter—is pretty well screwed. It’s gonna take years to repair, and even that’s probably an optimistic estimate. All that can really be done in the short-term is to try and keep something like this from happening again. The original survey team fucked up; they relied too much on the Universal Translator, and they never went in-depth enough to notice the discrepancies. Most of this is all down to a translation error—the Vorth weren’t talking about a species when they demanded a promise not to kill of distinct lifeforms, they were talking about individual, sentient beings. A team like that needed a communications specialist, and they needed to stay for longer than one week. A month, bare minimum, I’d say.”

 

“Why do you believe a week to be insufficient?”

 

“A week is plenty if all you’re doing is securing trade or settlement treaties. But people are still on their company behavior one week in; they’re not going to be giving an accurate depiction of their lives or their language. A month is a little better, but it really probably ought to be more like three. The Universal Translator won’t cut it on its own; there are bound to be words or phrases whose meanings are dependent on tone, body language, that sort of thing. Exploratory missions like that, you want the best you’ve got.”

 

“A reasonable and well-considered opinion,” Spock commented.

 

“So does that mean I pass?”

 

“It means that I am more convinced than ever that you are ill-served by your current means of employment. Have you never reconsidered your decision about joining Starfleet?”

 

Jim blinked, completely thrown by that. “Um. That was just a childhood fantasy, Spock. I’m not . . . that’s just not me anymore.”

 

“I do not believe that is accurate,” Spock said simply. “Therefore, it is my responsibility to help you reevaluate your opinion.”

 

“Reevaluate my—Spock, you can’t just wave a magic wand and make me suddenly decide I want to protect and serve.”

 

“I do not believe in the existence of magic, nor do I intend to wave a wand of any sort at any point in the foreseeable future. Do you believe that your position is weak to outside influence?”

 

“No, of course not, that’s my point.”

 

“Then you have no reason to fear my attempts.”

 

“I don’t fear your attempts—”

 

“Excellent. We still have one point three five hours before the lecture begins, and I have not yet eaten my evening meal. Would you be amenable to accompanying me?”

 

“I—” Jim shook his head and sighed, smiling despite himself. “Yeah, sure. I’d be amenable.” He stood again, reminding himself to be annoyed at his own malleability later. “After you.”

 

 

*****************************
 

 

Spock was not nervous. In addition to being an unacceptable emotional weakness, nervousness would imply a lack of confidence. His program was fine work; he was certain of that. He had merely invited Jim to his office to examine it for the benefit of a second pair of eyes. And if Jim did find something that required correction, that would be nothing to incite an emotional response, either.

 

He refocused his attention on the essays he was marking and pointedly did not think of how long Jim had been examining the coding for the Kobayashi Maru.

 

“Man.” He looked up to see Jim set aside his PADD and stretch, back arching as his arms lifted above his head. Spock watched, fascinated by the shift of muscles beneath Jim’s clothes. “How long did it take you to write that?”

 

“Six months, eight days and fourteen point seven three hours. Intermittent with other work, of course.”

 

“Of course,” Jim grinned, and his smile only widened as Spock fought the urge to squirm at Jim’s failure to continue.

 

“Jim, must you make me ask?”

 

“Maybe,” Jim grinned, but relented. “It’s good. Sort of scary-good, actually. Tough to say how well it’ll do without seeing it in action, but the coding’s gorgeous. There were just one or two weak spots that I could find.”

 

“Weak spots?” Spock asked, firmly ignoring both the warmth that had built in him at Jim’s praise and his current disappointment.

 

“Yeah, two of them. Here.” Jim picked up the PADD again and scrolled through several screens before setting it back on the table, turning it to face Spock. “That’s one of them,” he said, tapping at the screen with a stylus. “The code’s a little looser there. Not much, but enough. It’s possible to go in and insert a whole new subroutine here. Just barely possible, but it can be done. There’s one more spot like that early on, too. Believe me when I say that general Starfleet security is crap; you don’t want to rely on it.”

 

Spock considered as Jim picked up his coffee and took a drink, immediately wincing. Unsurprising, Spock mused; it must have gone cold hours ago. “I see the weakness in the portion of code you have identified,” Spock said at last, “and I understand the need to correct it for the sake of completing a task to the best of one’s abilities. However, I confess that I fail to see why Starfleet security is a concern.”

 

“That’s because you’re just not devious enough.” Jim turned his attention to the pastries sitting between them on Spock’s desk, and Spock allowed himself a flare of satisfaction that he had not purchased them in vain. “The way I understand it, the point of the test is that it’s unbeatable, right?”

 

“Oversimplified, perhaps,” Spock chided mildly, “but not inaccurate.”

 

“Then that’s what I’d do,” Jim said simply. “And you’ve gotta figure there are gonna be at least a few people taking this test who hate being told they can’t do something as much as I do.”

 

“You would tamper with an academic test?”

 

“Hell yes,” Jim said easily. “I’d tamper the hell out of it if I thought it was unfair.”

 

Spock’s brow wrinkled slightly. “I will repair the weak points, then,” he said, and Jim nodded.

 

“Yeah. You could do that, sure,” he said slowly.

 

“You have an alternate suggestion?”

 

“Well.” Jim took a bite of pastry, nodded again. “Yeah, I do. To be honest with you, Spock, this test kind of bothers me. I mean, what’s the point of taking a test when you know going in you can’t beat it? Where’s the motivation to do your best? If the outcome’s predetermined, why even bother to try?”

 

“The purpose of the test is not to measure the student’s aptitude for strategy,” Spock said, “but to serve as a means for him or her to demonstrate an ability to command even in the face of certain defeat.”

 

“Why can’t it be both?” Jim demanded, leaning forward. “Because it doesn’t work like that in real life, does it? Starfleet doesn’t send ships into hopeless, kamikaze situations. And if they do, I’d suggest that maybe it’s a case of the fish rotting from the head, which is a bigger problem altogether. Look, you can leave the code as is, tighten up those parts and run it like that. Or . . .” He shrugged. “You can try to get a little devious.”

 

Spock glanced from Jim to his PADD and back again. “What would you recommend?”

 

“Leave the holes in. They’re not easy to spot, especially if you’re going quickly, which means they’re not obvious traps. Then you hide a new command sequence within the existing code.” He stood and came around Spock’s desk, leaning over next to him and scrolling through. “Here,” he said after a moment. “It’ll be a lot more work, but believe me, it’ll be worth it to see the look on some cadet’s face when they realize that all their hacking has done is open up a whole new series of existing subroutines.”

 

Spock lifted an eyebrow. “You want me to spend months rewriting code in order to facilitate a practical joke?”

 

“No,” Jim said patiently. “Make one or two of the new options winnable given the right commands and actions.” He straightened, only to lift himself to perch on the edge of the desk. “It keeps people from viewing the test as nothing but an exercise in psychological torture and encourages . . . ah, creative thinking.”

 

“I see.” Spock steepled his hands and leaned back in his chair, finding that he was better able to marshal his thoughts with a bit more space between their bodies. “And if a cadet discovers the masked coding and alters that, as well?”

 

“Then you try your hardest to get them to switch to Computer Sciences,” Jim grinned, “because they’re obviously being wasted in Command.”

 

Spock did not laugh, thought the temptation was great. “Is that the field that would most interest you, Jim? You have considerable skill with computers; the department would benefit from your enrollment. And I confess that I would be quite interested to know how you would fare against my standing scores.”

 

“For the hundredth time this week, I’m not enlisting in Starfleet.” Despite the words, Jim’s tone was mostly amused. “How long are you going to keep on about this?”

 

“Until I convince you of the superiority of my argument. Your theoretical hacker is not the only one wasted in his current position.”

 

Jim made an irritated sound and hopped down from Spock’s desk. “You’re impossible,” he muttered. “I like what I do,” he said, pacing away. “Is that so hard to understand?”

 

“It is not. However, is that sufficient?”

 

Jim paused. “What?”

 

“I excel at chess, and take pleasure in our games. However, I do not believe that I could achieve long-term satisfaction were I to make my living playing for profit.”

 

“Cute.” Jim sighed. “What is it you want now? Out with it.”

 

“Meet me for lunch tomorrow and speak with my captain. He was also my academic advisor when I entered the Academy. Merely listen to what he has to say.”

 

Jim made a face, but he didn’t reject the idea out of hand. “Lunch, huh?” he said eventually.

 

“Tomorrow.”

 

“You’re paying?”

 

“Of course.”

 

Jim sighed and scowled. “Two conditions. First, if I go to lunch and hear this guy out, you have to lay off the Starfleet propaganda for at least two weeks.”

 

Spock considered. “Acceptable,” he decided after a moment. “And the second?”

 

“I’m so going to regret this,” Jim muttered, and sighed. “Okay, fine. Second: no vegetarian menus this time. If I’m going to sit through this, I’m getting a cheeseburger out of the deal.”




>>Part 9

 

Chapter Text

Title: Streetlight People
Author: [info]ladyblahblah 
Artist: [info]cannedebonbon 
Mixer: [info]jouissant 
Beta: [info]ninjaboots 
Series: STXI/Reboot/as you will
Character/Pairing(s): Kirk/Spock; minor/implied McCoy/Gaila, Uhura/Chapel, Pike/Number One, OFC/OFC
Disclaimer: I own everything, but only in my fevered dreams.  Man, my dream!royalty checks are EPIC.  My payment for this in real life, however, is nonexistent.
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: prostitution, mentioned childhood sexual abuse, mentioned genocide, implied violence
Summary: AU. Strangers waitin' up and down the boulevard, their shadows searchin' in the night.  Streetlight people, living just to find emotion; hiding somewhere in the night.
Author's Note:  Edging up on 40,000 words, it's about time for Cluebat #2, don't you think?  Yeah, I did, too. -_-

 

 




Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I have to say, Spock, I’m a little excited.” Captain Pike sent a smile to their waitress that made her blush and nearly spill the coffee she was pouring. “The way you’ve talked about this kid, he sounds almost too good to be true.”

 

“I assure you, he is quite real.” Spock sipped at his tea and suppressed a sigh. It was too sweet, as ever, and he set it aside in favor of his water glass. “I should warn you, however, that he was reluctant to agree to this meeting. There is a good chance that his attitude will be . . . less than genial.”

 

“So he’s not perfect after all.” Captain Pike lifted an eyebrow and relaxed back into his chair. “That’s a relief, actually; I don’t know how to deal with perfect.”

 

Spock’s brow furrowed slightly. “Is that the impression of him that I have given?”

 

“Pretty close. I was half expecting to have to try to recruit Superman.”

 

“Superman?”

 

Captain Pike opened his mouth, paused, and closed it again, shaking his head. “Look it up later.”

 

“Very well. I will apologize if I have unjustly colored your expectations.”

 

“I’ll hold you to that. Though you know what might have helped me form accurate expectations? If you’d actually told me his full name.”

 

“Had I done so, would you have run a background and current employment check?”

 

“Of course I would, Spock; that’s standard operating procedure. You know that.”

 

“Indeed.” Spock steepled his fingers, considering the best way to explain himself. “Jim is, in some ways, an intensely private person. I find myself uncertain as to what, if any, of his personal information I am at liberty to share.” He paused. “Additionally, he professes a certain . . . wariness of Starfleet personnel. Bearing that in mind, I have chosen to leave the decision of what he may or may not wish you to know in his own hands.”

 

“I see,” Captain Pike said thoughtfully. “Well, in that case I suppose I’ll have to do my—”

 

“You’ve gotta be freakin’ kidding me.”

 

Spock looked up to find Jim standing a short distance away, staring at the two of them in blatant disbelief. At a loss to explain his friend’s reaction, Spock got as far as a puzzled, “Jim?” before disbelief turned to irritation.

 

“This is a hell of a way for you to expand your sense of humor.” He glanced back and forth between Spock and his captain. “Is this for real?”

 

“Jim, what are you—”

 

“I’m talking about him!” Jim said, jabbing a finger at Captain Pike before Spock could even finish his question. “You’re not seriously telling me this guy is your captain, are you?” He turned his attention away from Spock to glare at the older man. “How long, huh? Was that the real reason Spock went to Catspaw in the first place—because you told him to? I swear, if this new push for me to join up is your doing—”

 

“Believe me, son,” Captain Pike interrupted, a grin replacing the shock that had spread across his face moments ago, “if I’d known you were the one Spock’s been going on about, we’d have had this meeting a hell of a lot sooner. Try not to be so paranoid; Spock’s been acting entirely of his own volition.”

 

“Indeed I have,” Spock said reproachfully, but eased his own irritation down when Jim sent him a quick, apologetic glance. “I had not been aware that the two of you were already acquainted,” he continued uncertainly into the charged silence that followed. “Jim, are you going to sit?”

 

“I don’t know if it’s such a good idea to eat with the guy who stalked me for six weeks,” Jim said, still glaring at Captain Pike, and though his words were light he made no move to sit.

 

“Now, ‘stalking’ is such a harsh and . . .” Captain Pike cleared his throat with a rueful smile, “not entirely accurate word.”

 

Jim snorted, some of his tension seeming to ease. “You showed up at Velocity every day for a week until Aylin banned you from the premises,” he said, but sat down. “Sounds like stalking to me.”

 

Spock could feel his spine stiffen as he grew suddenly and profoundly uncomfortable with the direction the conversation had taken. “Captain Pike, I had not realized that you—”

 

“Never thought I’d have to tell you to get your mind out of the gutter, Spock,” Captain Pike said mildly, though his eyes were stern. “I’ve never hired Jim, or anyone else for that matter. I happen to be a happily married man.”

 

“Yeah, you’d be surprised how many of those I end up with on my client list.” Jim offered a loose-shouldered shrug, but something—something hidden by his posture, his expression—hinted at a sharp underlying tension. “He’s not one of them, though,” he assured Spock. “I met Pike at the last official Starfleet event I attended before I learned better. He’s got some sort of a military mancrush on my dad—”

 

“I hardly think that’s an accurate—”

 

“—and managed to figure out who I really was. He spent the next six weeks harassing me—”

 

“Again, harassing—”

 

“—trying to convince me to enlist in Starfleet. It was like his own personal crusade or something.”

 

“I may have gotten a little . . . focused,” Captain Pike admitted. “But with good reason. Have you seen his test scores, Spock?” He shook his head, still clearly astounded. “They’re practically off the charts.”

 

Jim was prevented from responding by the reappearance of their waitress. When they had all placed their orders he turned to her with a slow, appreciative smile. “Could I get mine in a to-go box, gorgeous? I can’t stay long.”

 

“No problem,” she said with a slightly dazed smile. Spock watched her narrowly as she left, not entirely certain that she was capable of safely traversing the length of the restaurant while throwing such frequent glances back over her shoulder.

 

“You are not staying, Jim?” he asked with a frown a moment later, turning back to the situation at hand.

 

Jim hesitated, but shook his head. “Sorry, Spock, but two weeks isn’t worth two hours of hearing how I’m not living up to my father’s example.” He turned to Captain Pike. “You have until my food gets here. Once it does, I’m gone.”

 

Captain Pike sent Spock a wry glance. “A ‘less than genial’ attitude, huh?”

 

“It would appear to be justified under the—” Spock began to defend, but his captain held up a hand to stop him.

 

“Relax,” he said, and turned his attention to Jim. His face turned as serious as Spock had ever seen it, authority settling around the older man like a cloak. “Now, you seem to be laboring under the misapprehension that the only reason I’m interested in recruiting you is because you’re George Kirk’s son. That about right?”

 

“Oh no, I’m sure I’m exactly the kind of recruit the Academy always looks for.”

 

“If you were talking to anyone else in Recruiting, they’d turn you down flat,” Captain Pike admitted bluntly, his eyes never lowering from Jim’s. “An that’s why I want you. Starfleet is a good organization, an important one, but it’s stagnating. We need new blood, new ideas, new drive. You have the potential for greatness, son, and I think you’re exactly what Starfleet needs.”

 

“Overselling it a bit, don’t you think?” Jim muttered, clearly uncomfortable, and Pike simply fixed him with a considering stare.

 

“You know,” he said thoughtfully, “you and Spock are really a lot alike.”

 

Spock glanced at Jim, unsure, though he found that being compared to Jim in such a way made him feel oddly proud. “With due respect, sir, I am not certain . . .”

 

“Don’t see it?” Captain Pike smiled, leaning back in what Spock recognized as a deceptively casual pose. “You’re both brilliant, driven, and stubborn as hell. And you’re both bound and determined to be more than just your fathers’ sons. You’re right, Jim; I see a lot of George Kirk in you. You’re not your father,” he said more softly, “any more than Spock is his. But that doesn’t mean you should reject everything that he was. You may have taken a path with your life that he never would have so much as considered; still, that doesn’t mean it’s excluded the possibility of a place in Starfleet if you decide you want one. In fact, I think it may have particularly suited you for the job.”

 

Jim stared at him in frank disbelief. “Because the new policy is to screw our way through the universe? Or because this way if I got fucked over by the admiralty at least I’d be used to it?”

 

Captain Pike’s lips twitched, but he didn’t laugh. “Is that all there is to your work, then? Just letting someone use your body while you lie back and try to enjoy it?”

 

“Cute.” Jim rolled his eyes. “So there’s a bit more to it than that. It doesn’t mean—”

 

“Diplomacy,” Captain Pike interrupted, leaning forward now as he ticked points off on his fingers. “Adaptability. I imagine you know how to . . . let’s say creatively interpret orders. And you know how to make people believe in you. Now, all together those things could probably make you the best damned escort on the West Coast. For a while, anyway. Or you could do something more. Travel; explore; help people.”

 

“What makes you think I’m interested in helping anyone besides myself?”

 

“Like I said,” Pike answered quietly. “I see a lot of your dad in you.”

 

“Spock.” Jim turned doubtful, pleading eyes to him. “Back me up here. You’re not actually buying into all this crap, right?”

 

“You are asking if I believe you to be an exceptional being, one whose choice of occupation is both a disservice to his abilities and unfulfilling in the long-term?” Spock didn’t quite give in to the smile that tried to lift his lips at the faint flush that touched Jim’s face. “I am afraid that I am most decidedly ‘buying into it.’”

 

“And here I’d always thought you were so smart,” Jim muttered.

 

“All right!” Their waitress appeared again, startling all three of them and beaming as she balanced a tray heavily loaded with food. “Club sandwich, large house salad, and a cheeseburger to go.” Her smile faltered slightly at the subdued atmosphere, and she took a hesitant step back. “Enjoy, and, ah . . . let me know if you need anything else.”

 

She retreated swiftly, leaving Spock to eye Jim’s take-out box, and the contact information that the woman had scrawled on the top, with stern disapproval.

 

“Well.” Jim cleared his throat. “I’ll be going, then. Gentlemen, enjoy your lunch.” He glanced quickly at Spock and then away. “I’ll see you later.”

 

“Will you be at Catspaw tonight?” Spock asked before Jim could rise, and watched his friend hesitate.

 

“No. I, ah . . . I have an appointment tonight. But I don’t have anything set for tomorrow until seven-thirty, so I can drop by for an hour or two then.” He nodded and stood. “Later, Spock.”

 

Spock watched him leave, unable to quell the hope that Jim might yet change his mind and return to their table. Only when he disappeared through the front door did Spock turn back with what was not quite a sigh. “I am afraid this may have been something of a tactical error,” he admitted, picking up his fork.

 

“I don’t know if I’d go that far,” Captain Pike mused. “He calmed down quite a bit by the end. And if nothing else, I’d say it was definitely educational.”

 

“Educational, sir?”

 

“Come on, Spock. You can come clean with me, you know,” he said, a smile beginning to tilt up the corners of his mouth as he picked up a section of his sandwich and bit in.

 

Spock considered, pondered, and came up empty. “I am uncertain to what you might be referring. There is nothing pertinent that I am keeping from you.”

 

“Nothing pertinent, huh?” Captain Pike snorted. “All right, I get it. But if you ever need to talk about it with anyone, I’ve got a willing ear.”

 

“Sir.” Spock set his fork down again, a strange unease growing inside of him. “I can not discuss a matter with you when I am completely unaware of what that subject may be.”

 

“You don’t—” Captain Pike sat back again and studied him for a moment, a frown slowly spreading over his face. “You’re not kidding are you? I know,” he said, holding up his hand before Spock could answer, “Vulcans don’t kid. But . . . look, Spock, I understand if you don’t want to talk about it, and I’m not trying to force your hand here. But I need you to at least acknowledge that you know what I’m talking about; I’ll drop it after that, you have my word.”

 

“As I have stated twice now,” Spock said, keeping a tight leash on his irritation, “I do not know. Perhaps I would, however, if you would simply state yourself plainly.”

 

For another long moment Captain Pike simply stared at him, measuring. Then he sighed and folded his hands on the table in front of him. “I’m talking about you and Jim,” he finally said. Spock’s irritation did not lessen; nor did his confusion.

 

“Might I ask you to be more specific, sir?”

 

“Sure,” Captain Pike said easily even as his gaze held steady. “Specifically, I’m talking about your feelings for him.”

 

“My . . .” Spock trailed off with a frown. “I . . . do consider him a friend—”

 

“Spock.” Captain Pike’s voice was sharp, but his face had softened. “Are you telling me you honestly don’t know?”

 

“I must confess, sir, that I am uncertain how many more times I must be required to say just that before you choose to believe me.”

 

“Lord,” the older man groaned, scrubbing a hand over his face as he sagged as though under a sudden weight. “And here I’d always thought I was lucky to not have any kids so I’d never have to explain about the birds and the bees,” he muttered. “No, instead I just have to try to explain emotion to a Vulcan.”

 

“Sir, I hardly see—”

 

“Spock.” Captain Pike’s voice was as gentle as Spock had ever heard it; inexplicably, that fact only increased his unease. “I’m pretty sure—about as sure as I can be without being in your skin—that your feelings for Jim go beyond something as simple as friendship.”

 

Spock drew up straighter in his seat. “May I ask what makes you—”

 

“You were jealous of the waitress.”

 

“Vulcans do not—”

 

“Well then, you were doing a pretty damn good imitation. You didn’t like that she gave Jim her number, did you? Didn’t like it when he smiled at her?” Spock could not deny it, and so he stayed silent. “You’re concerned for him; you believe in him; you talk about him like he hung the damn moon. And the way you look at him . . . well, it all points pretty conclusively in one direction.”

 

“What . . . if I may ask, what direction is that?”

 

“You’re in love with him,” Captain Pike said quietly, and Spock felt his heart seized by something that felt like terror.

 

“I do not—”

 

“Spock. You’re normally excellent at concealing whatever whispers of emotion manage to sneak past your control, but not this time. I’m guessing it snuck up on you, right? Maybe it built up so slowly you didn’t even know to guard against it. And now . . . I’m sorry to tell you this, but it’s all over your face when you look at him. I thought that I’d seen you Human before, but that was nothing to what I’m seeing now.” He paused, and a wry smile tugged at his lips. “See, you’re not even pretending to be insulted at being seen as Human. That’s a pretty good indication, wouldn’t you say?”

 

“I . . .” Spock looked down at the table, realizing suddenly that he had never felt less hungry in his life. “My apologies, captain. I seem to have lost my appetite.”

 

“It happens. This must be a lot to absorb all at once.” Captain Pike glanced at his watch. “You have a while before your class starts, right? Why don’t you head back to your place, meditate for an hour or two.”

 

“Yes.” Spock stood, feeling dazed. “Thank you, sir, for your time.”

 

“Try not to let this freak you out too badly, Spock. People fall in love from time to time; even Vulcans, I’d wager.”

 

Spock nodded without truly hearing and began to make his way out of the restaurant, trying not to focus on the fact that he was retracing Jim’s path. He would take his captain’s advice and meditate. He did not, however, believe that an hour or two would be sufficient.

 

He would sort out his confusion, he determined, and decide for himself the truth of Captain Pike’s assumptions. He simply required . . . time.



>>Part 10

 

Chapter Text

Title: Streetlight People
Author: [info]ladyblahblah 
Artist: [info]cannedebonbon 
Mixer: [info]jouissant 
Beta: [info]ninjaboots 
Series: STXI/Reboot/as you will
Character/Pairing(s): Kirk/Spock; minor/implied McCoy/Gaila, Uhura/Chapel, Pike/Number One, OFC/OFC
Disclaimer: I own everything, but only in my fevered dreams.  Man, my dream!royalty checks are EPIC.  My payment for this in real life, however, is nonexistent.
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: prostitution, mentioned childhood sexual abuse, mentioned genocide, implied violence
Summary: AU. Strangers waitin' up and down the boulevard, their shadows searchin' in the night.  Streetlight people, living just to find emotion; hiding somewhere in the night.
Author's Note: Time for random bonus pairings!  Also, me being really mean to the boys.  Because I'm like that.  *wanders off, cackling evilly*

 

 




Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim.”

 

He lifted his gaze abruptly, a slight flush staining his face when he saw Aylin glaring at him. Her eyes flicked pointedly down to the PADD in his hands and a sharp, terrifying smile lit up her face.

 

“I’m so terribly sorry. Is my pesky little meeting distracting you from more important matters?”

 

“Sorry,” Jim mumbled. “Sorry, I just . . . point taken.” He slipped the PADD into his bag. “What were you saying?”

 

“All right, that’s it.” Aylin tossed her stylus onto the desk and leaned back in her chair, frowning at Jim in mingled annoyance and concern. “You’re acting strange again. What’s wrong? A straight answer please, Jim.”

 

“Nothing.” He shifted in his seat. “Nothing really major. It . . . I got a letter from an old friend. He’s had some problems, and I guess I’m just a little worried.”

 

“I see.” Her frown deepened, but it softened as well. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you mention anyone from your past before. Not even your family.”

 

“He practically is. We knew each other when we were kids.” He took a calm, deliberate breath. In and out. “Things were tough.”

 

Aylin looked like she wanted to push, but visibly fought back the urge. Jim didn’t even feel her mind against his, which was more restraint than she usually showed. He wondered just how upset he looked.

 

“Is there anything I can do?” she asked, catching him completely off-guard. “Any way that I can help?”

 

“I . . .” His hands twitched for a moment, but he kept from reaching for his PADD again. “Thanks, but I have it covered.”

 

“All right.” She picked up her stylus, set it back down. “If you change your mind, you just have to let me know. Really, anything that I can do to help.” She sighed and waved him off. “Well, you’re no good for a progress meeting like this; you’re too distracted. You have the rest of the day off, and I’ll call down to Ruth to let her know not to book you for anything tonight either.”

 

“Okay. Thanks.” Jim stood and grabbed his bag, hardly registering the words. “Um. Should we reschedule? Tomorrow?”

 

“Day after. My day is all booked up for tomorrow already, and you’re a mess. Go on. Go and work this through.”

 

“Right. Thanks.”

 

He headed out the door almost before he had finished speaking, feet already pointed towards the lift and on to the reception desk. Ruth glanced up in the midst of the call she was taking and held up a hand to ask him to wait. While he did, he checked his PADD again, trying to keep calm when there was still nothing in his inbox but Kevin, talking quickly with quiet panic in his dark eyes.

 

“Hey, Jim,” Ruth said at last, pulling his attention back to the here and now. “Nothing for twenty-four hours, huh? Is everything all right?”

 

His hand tightened around his PADD. “I’ll let you know. Are there any messages for me?”

 

“Don’t tell me you forgot your passcode again,” she chided, already tapping at her screen.

 

“No. But, ah. You keep hard copies of everything that comes through here, right? So even if a message got erased somehow, you’d have it?”

 

“That’s the idea,” Ruth said brightly. “I have them all here.” She flipped through her file and pulled out a sheaf of paper slips, handing them over. “Did something get erased from your inbox?”

 

Jim’s stomach sank further and further with every slip that didn’t have the name he was hoping for. “No,” he said eventually, handing them back. “I guess not.”

 

 

*****************************
 

 

“Hey, Spock. Haven’t talked to you in a couple of days, and I . . . well, I know you’re busy, but just . . . I nee—I wanted to talk to you about something. Call me back as soon as you can.”

 

Spock erased the message immediately, profoundly relieved that Jim had called when Spock had been unable to answer. Simply seeing his face on the message screen was enough to loose a torrent of confused emotions from beneath Spock’s tattered control, and he knew from experience that attempting to actually speak to Jim through that was very nearly unbearable. He required more time to sort through the tangle. More time to define precisely what those emotions were.

 

He would speak with Jim soon. But not now.

 

For the first time in years, he nearly gave in to his desire to send a message to his mother. The Human perspective that she could provide could very well be invaluable. And if he did decide to pursue Jim, she would perhaps be able to offer him further insight into the best way to convince a Human to accept a Vulcan’s suit. His hand actually strayed towards his PADD for a moment before he thought better of it. She may have been distressed by Sarek’s decision to disown their son, but she had never attempted to contact him in all the years since. It was a wound he had only recently become willing to acknowledge; he was not yet prepared to forgive.

 

A knock at his door pulled him back to himself, and he straightened to attention before he hit the override for the lock. He had expected one of his students with a question about a lesson or an argument about a grade. Instead, Cadet Uhura strode purposefully inside and fell into an easy parade rest in front of his desk.

 

“Cadet.” Spock had not expected her, but was distressingly aware of his own recent lack of focus. “Did we have an appointment?”

 

“No, sir.” She paused, opened her mouth, closed it again. “This isn’t actually about Starfleet business. Should I come back later, or—”

 

“That is unnecessary,” Spock said, letting his own posture relax slightly as he gestured to a chair. “Have a seat, Nyota.”

 

She relaxed as well as she accepted the invitation. “Is everything all right with you, Spock?” she asked without preamble. “You seem . . . distracted lately.”

 

“I am well,” he assured her. “There is simply a matter that has required a great deal of my attention and consideration.” He sent her a quizzical look. “Was that all you wished to speak with me about?”

 

“No. I wanted to make sure you were okay, but no. I . . .” She took a deep breath. “Okay. You’ve said before that we don’t seem to be catching each other at opportune times. But the thing is, it seems like I’m the only one actually trying to do any catching. And maybe . . . well, I haven’t wanted to put any pressure on you, but maybe I’ve been too subtle. So I’m going to be very plain here, and all I ask is that you answer me in the same manner. I’d like to invite you to dinner tonight, Spock. Just the two of us. As a date.”

 

“I . . . see.”


Spock considered Nyota carefully. She was beautiful, intelligent, kind. Patient enough to accept his confusion over many Human customs; strong enough to refuse to allow him to use that confusion as an excuse to withdraw. She was a fine match for him, with none of the uncertainty or unsettling loss of emotional control that he had felt over the past several weeks when contemplating his relationship with Jim. She was eminently suited for him.

 

How illogical, he thought, that her very suitability should be the deciding factor.

 

“I am afraid that I must decline, Nyota,” he said, feeling curiously lighter as the words passed his lips. “My attentions in that regard are already engaged elsewhere.”

 

To his surprise, she smiled. “Yeah, I thought they might be. But I had to try, or I’d have spent the rest of my life wondering.”

 

“You are not . . . upset?” he asked carefully, and her smile softened.

 

“Rejection’s never exactly fun, Spock. But I’ve thought this might be coming for a while now; I’ve had the chance to get used to the idea. I’ll talk to Chris about it. We’ll go out dancing and drown my pain. I’ll be fine.” She started to stand but hesitated, sat down again. “Your friend, the one who came to your lecture a while ago. He and Chris . . .” Spock watched in fascination as a faint flush rose to her cheeks. “Do they know each other?”

 

“Indeed.”

 

An odd expression passed over her face and was gone in an instant. “Are they—” She shook her head. “He’s not her type, you know; she doesn’t really go for slick. So you can tell him from me that if he tries anything with her I’m reserving the right to kick his ass.”

 

Had he still been in any doubt, the swift burst of possessiveness that shot through Spock then would have clarified his feelings quite nicely. He did not care for the idea of Jim ‘trying anything’ with Cadet Chapel any more than Nyota seemed to. Fascinating.

 

“I assure you that I will do everything in my power to prevent him from incurring your wrath.”

 

Something about that seemed to surprise her, and for a moment her gaze sharpened on him. She seemed poised to say something, but a small smile curved her mouth instead as she sat back in her chair.

 

“See that you do.”

 

 

*****************************
 

 

“Hey, Spock.” Surprise was clear on Johnny’s face as Spock approached the bar. “Haven’t seen you here in a while.”

 

“I have been occupied,” Spock said mildly, allowing himself to enjoy the way his pulse was slightly accelerated even as he took care to conceal any outward signs of excitement and anticipation. “Has Jim been in today?”

 

“He’s in now, actually, unless he snuck out the back. He and Gaila went backstage about fifteen minutes ago.”

 

Spock nodded and immediately turned in that direction, excitement abruptly turning to something uncomfortably like unease. Illogical. Jim and Cadet Vro were friends, but nothing more; he was certain of that. Very nearly certain. And whether they were or not, he reminded himself sternly, he had no claim on Jim as of yet. Eager as he might be to change that, he was resolved not to behave prematurely.

 

That resolve was tested at the sound of Cadet Vro’s bright laughter as he passed through the doorway that led backstage. She was smiling down at Jim where he sat in front of a lighted mirror, her face alight with humor. When she glanced up her eyes went wide, but the pleasure didn’t fade from her expression.

 

“Professor Spock!” Spock did not miss the way Jim stiffened slightly before he turned at his friend’s exclamation. “I haven’t seen you in here in weeks! This is perfect; you can keep Jimmy here company so that I don’t feel guilty about abandoning him here all on his own.”

 

“I’m not staying long, Gaila,” Jim protested. “Actually, I should probably—”

 

“What are you talking about?” she frowned. “You came in to get a drink and I shanghaied you before you could even get to the bar. You’re not in that big a hurry, are you? Besides.” Her frown turned to a grin as she hopped down from the dressing table. “I’m sure Professor Spock didn’t come here just to see me.” She glanced at the clock on the wall and her eyes widened. “All right, I have to go or I’ll be late. You’re sure, Jim? The blue?”

 

“He’ll love it. Go, have fun. Try to make him have some, too.”

 

“I’ll do my best,” she said with a wicked little grin. “And back at you.”

 

She was gone before either of them could respond, leaving the two of them alone in the quiet of the otherwise empty dressing area. Spock took a brief, guilty moment to drink in the sight of his friend after nearly three weeks. For the first time, Spock realized that his fingertips were tingling at the sight of him, the urge to brush them against Jim’s own an almost physical ache.

 

“Hey, stranger,” Jim said abruptly, his eyes meeting Spock’s at last as he rose to his feet. “Long time no see.”

 

“Yes, I have been . . .” Unable to bring himself to speak the full truth, Spock simply trailed off. “Cadet Vro mentioned that you had not yet obtained a drink. Would you care to—”

 

“No.” Jim was glancing around the room as though searching for something he had misplaced. “I’m not really in the mood to . . .” He took a deep breath and smiled, though it seemed slightly strained. “Bones finally got up the nerve to ask Gaila out. They’re both really nervous about it; it’s sort of sweet.” He glanced around again. “Look, I really probably should go. I don’t want to be late, either.”

 

“You have plans tonight?” Spock had not meant it as a question—after all, Jim had already said as much—but his surprise could not be helped. “Then . . . perhaps afterwards—”

 

“I’m probably gonna be pretty worn out. I have a job tonight.”

 

Spock’s brow furrowed. “Ruth had informed me that your calendar was clear.”

 

“It’s not—” Jim finally looked at him then, a frown growing over his face. “Wait. You called Velocity?”

 

“I was attempting to ascertain . . . you had not answered when I called your private line.”

 

“Yeah.” Jim crossed his arms over his chest as his expression cooled. “I guess that’s something that’s been going around.”

 

Spock nearly—very nearly—winced at that. “I do apologize, Jim. I am afraid I—”

 

“Look, you don’t owe me any explanations—”

 

“I do,” Spock insisted. “My behavior was inconsiderate and—”

 

“Okay, fine, apology accepted, don’t worry about it. Now, I have to go.”

 

“Go?” Spock frowned, and Jim visibly gritted back a sigh.

 

“I told you, I have a job. I have to go meet my client.”

 

Spock stood silent for a moment as the clues that he had been unwilling to accept pointed to one unavoidable conclusion.

 

“You were not simply saying that to be rid of me.”

 

Jim’s jaw tightened. “Not just for that, no.”

 

His words struck sharply, wounding Spock as deeply as those he forced himself to say next. “You have taken another appointment outside of the bounds of your employment at Velocity.”

 

“Kevin’s moving on again. He said he’d be willing to give Earth a shot for a while. That was a good idea, by the way. But I can’t scrape up the kind of money he needs for that on a moment’s notice any other way.”

 

“You gave me your word, Jim,” Spock said shortly, anger trying to rise in him at the thought of what Jim planned to do. He pushed it down, brought it under control, walled it off behind cold reserve. “You had only to tell me—”

 

“And how the hell was I supposed to do that?” Jim exploded, all fiery anger in the face of cool Vulcan distance. “I left you messages, Spock, and all you ever answered back was that you were busy, occupied, no time to chat, call you when I get a minute. I haven’t heard from you at all in over a week, and I had no way of knowing when I’d see you again. Hell, if I’d see you again.”

 

“You are being unnecessarily dramatic. Had you mentioned the circumstances—”

 

“Oh, so you’d have come running if you knew it was a matter of keeping me from whoring myself out again, but for something like plain old friendship you just didn’t have the time?”

 

“That is not what I am saying—”

 

“It is what you’re saying! Why did you even come here tonight, Spock? Did you hear about this somehow, decide you had to come stop me before my precious prospective Starfleet career was blown?”

 

“I simply . . .” Despite his practice, despite his desire to say them, to declare himself to Jim, Spock could not force the words past his throat. “What you are proposing to do is dangerous, and illegal, and cheapens you in addition to risking your health and safety,” he said instead, dimly aware that those words were wrong even as they were undeniably true. “That you are unwilling to abandon your plan despite the offer of another, clearly superior option, seems to imply an unwillingness on your part to accept an offer of friendship over a self-destructive, self-indulgent lifestyle.”

 

Illogical as such an emotion might be, Spock regretted his words instantly. He had never seen Jim’s face go so cold as it did then, never imagined that such iciness was possible from one whose presence in Spock’s mind and heart was marked with such warmth.

 

“I’m leaving,” Jim said quietly. “Next time you decide you want to see me, make an appointment. I know you know the number.”

 

 

*****************************
 

 

Jim was shaking, furious, and sincerely regretting leaving Catspaw without having a drink. He could use one about now. Could use four or five, actually. It had been years since he’d felt this way, since he’d last wanted to get filthy, stinking drunk for no other reason than that it would stop him thinking. Years gone since he’d let someone get close enough to hurt him so he’d want to.

 

His job had always been fun before, a delight, something that he could never quite believe he was getting away with being paid for. Fun, and natural, and while he might not have advertised what he did he’d never been ashamed. Paid sex worker or not, Jim hadn’t felt like a whore since he was thirteen and sucking off the well-connected man who’d enjoyed using that word.

 

He felt like one now.

 

There was a part of him that wanted to turn back around, head back to Catspaw and find Spock. Scream at him for making him feel like this. Ashamed and dirty and hurt because that’s how he was seen by the man he’d been stupid enough to fall in love with. Love like this ought to be surgically removable. Maybe he’d ask Bones to look into it.

 

His steps faltered as he realized that he was, even now, headed to the clinic. Pure autopilot; Bones was seeing Gaila tonight, which meant that he’d be at his apartment now, getting ready and trying to talk himself out of taking this chance. Jim hesitated, poised to turn. He wanted to talk to Bones about this. Needed to, because if there was anyone who would understand someone you loved making you feel the worst of yourself like this, it was Bones. He’d be sympathetic and angry for Jim, snarl out slurs against Spock and understand when Jim protested. Because he also knew how it felt to still love someone who didn’t, couldn’t love you back.

 

In the end, though, Jim couldn’t do it. It had taken Bones months to admit to his crush on Gaila, and months beyond that for him to beat down his own demons and work up the nerve to do something about it. He deserved tonight, and Jim couldn’t bring himself to ruin it for him.

 

He’d been walking—stalking, really—for close to an hour when he realized that he’d ended up in front of Lucien’s townhouse. He was more than an hour early, still dressed in his street clothes, a little smoky and sweaty from the bar and his walk. He rang the bell anyway.

 

Lucien answered the door himself, which meant that he’d already dismissed his staff for the night. That was good. He looked surprised but not displeased to see Jim standing there, and that was good, too.

 

“Jim! You’re early. Come in, you look a mess.”

 

“Yeah. Sorry.” He ran a hand abstractedly through his hair, and Lucien tracked the movement with intent, unreadable eyes. “I was in the neighborhood. I didn’t want to wait.”

 

Definite pleasure on Lucien’s face then. “Well then.” He took Jim’s hand and gave it a single possessive squeeze, and Jim’s heart picked up its pace when Lucien let his grip slide up to Jim’s wrist. “I’ve only just started setting up, but I suppose most of it can wait.”

 

He led Jim upstairs to the room they always used. It must have been his own bedroom after all, Jim thought, a question of long-standing now answered. The room was empty of the toys and tools that Lucien usually preferred for these clandestine meetings. In fact, the room looked jarringly normal except for the set of heavy, manacled chains attached to the headboard. That was more than enough for now, though; Lucien preferred to get Jim off once before the heavy play began, in any case. At the moment all they needed was the bed, and Jim wasn’t even particularly set on that.

 

“The champagne hasn’t been chilling long,” Lucien began almost apologetically. Jim shed his jacket, letting it drop to the floor.”

 

“Fuck the champagne,” he bit off, and Lucien’s eyebrows lifted at the unexpected crudeness. “Let’s just get on with it.”

 

Lucien looked as though he might argue, but as Jim unbuttoned his jeans irritation changed swiftly to lust, and by the time Jim yanked him into a hard kiss Lucien was clearly more than willing to oblige.

 

Jim didn’t make it easy for him. He wrestled off their clothing as quickly as possible, fisted his hands in Lucien’s hair and grasped his hips tightly, seizing control every chance he got. And each time he made Lucien fight a little harder to get it back, until finally he was flung onto the bed with a snarl, chains rattling and a hard, heavy body covering him an instant later.

 

And yes, god fuck yes, this was what he wanted, he thought as Lucien bit savagely at his chest and Jim arched into him. A fast, hard, angry fuck. Sweat and heat and a little bit of blood. Strong hands holding him down as a thick cock shoved into him with only cursory preparation and a thin coat of lube, and Jim’s anguished, triumphant shout ringing through the air. He locked his legs around sharp hipbones and bucked up into thrusts that were just shy of savage. He was almost there, so close so fast but he didn’t want it to end, almost didn’t want the pleasure crashing through him because this must be what it was like and he wanted more, wanted—

 

Spock.”



>>Part 11

 

Chapter Text

Title: Streetlight People
Author: [info]ladyblahblah 
Artist: [info]cannedebonbon 
Mixer: [info]jouissant 
Beta: [info]ninjaboots 
Series: STXI/Reboot/as you will
Character/Pairing(s): Kirk/Spock; minor/implied McCoy/Gaila, Uhura/Chapel, Pike/Number One, OFC/OFC
Disclaimer: I own everything, but only in my fevered dreams.  Man, my dream!royalty checks are EPIC.  My payment for this in real life, however, is nonexistent.
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: prostitution, mentioned childhood sexual abuse, mentioned genocide, implied violence
Summary: AU. Strangers waitin' up and down the boulevard, their shadows searchin' in the night.  Streetlight people, living just to find emotion; hiding somewhere in the night.
Author's Note:  Fallout.  Speaks for itself.  (At least, it's meant to.)

 

 




Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10

 

 

 

 

 

Spock had read the same line of the same report three times before he gave it up as an exercise in futility. He was unable to concentrate on his work, as he had known he would be when he had first entered his office. It had been illogical to make the attempt. And yet he found that it was still preferable to focusing on the events of that evening and the thoughts that were attempting to force themselves to the front of his mind.

 

Again, illogical. Without thinking things through he had no chance of repairing the damage he had managed to cause.

 

His words earlier that night had been cruel; he was aware of that much. Though it had not been his intent . . . but no; if nowhere else, he must at least be honest in his own thoughts. He had been hurt by Jim’s words and wished to inflict pain in return. An unacceptable emotional lapse for a Vulcan, but to a Human—he had to hope—understandable. Perhaps forgivable.

 

He refused to consider the reason for that emotional lapse, but imagined images still attempted to surface in his mind: Jim wrapped eagerly around his faceless, nameless client, lost in physical pleasure. Spock forced the images down again. He had no hold on Jim, he reminded himself almost savagely, no right to do as his blood was screaming for him to do: to tear Jim from this other’s arms, to destroy any being that might presume to touch him, to take and claim him as his own. No right to do any of it, and none to feel as though he might go mad if he did not.

 

He unclenched fists he had no memory of forming and focused on control.

 

A verbal apology would be a necessary first step, he knew, as an initial sign to Jim that he was truly sincere in his regret. Spock considered the possibility of some small gift—a common gesture, he had been given to understand, in Human society—but concluded that something of that nature might be considered premature. He would have to rebuild Jim’s trust in him before he was able to move on to courting him as he had planned.

 

Spock picked up PADD and stylus, ready to take down notes on his thoughts. Though he was not well-versed in the ways of Human courtship, he was both aware of his current abysmal ability and very willing to learn better methods. It would require a great deal of research—were courting methods different when they occurred between two males? He made a note to inquire.

 

Of primary importance, however, was to remember that Jim was not Vulcan. A facile thought, but the one that was most likely to impede his progress. Spock must remember to maintain the control that he had fought so hard to win, the control that would keep him from frightening Jim or driving him away with the force of Spock’s buried emotions. It would be a fine, difficult line to walk between the reserve that would keep him from overpowering his intended, and enough of an emotional display to satisfy his Human needs.

 

Again, Spock found himself wishing for his mother’s counsel.

 

Spock very pointedly did not think of what Jim was doing at that very moment, or of what he would continue to do until Spock could convince him of the merits of his suit. Instead he turned his focus to what he could affect, the ways in which he might make amends. He refused to lose Jim over this. Over anything.

 

When the call came through, he nearly ignored it. It was through his private line, and therefore not official business. He glanced at the number out of longstanding habit, however, and his heart leapt hard in his side when he saw Jim’s name. He snatched his PADD from his desk and took a deep, deliberate breath.

 

“Hello?” he answered a moment later, satisfied to find that his voice was tolerably steady. “Jim?”

 

“Spock. Hey.” Spock frowned as the screen remained stubbornly blank but for a flashing notification that the incoming communication was voice-only. “Ah.” Jim laughed, but it sounded flat to Spock’s ears. “I . . . how are you doing?”

 

Spock blinked and attempted to collect himself. “I am well, Jim.” He paused, weighing and discarding potential phrases. Should he begin his apology now? Uncertain of how Jim might take it, he finally settled for something that seemed reasonably innocuous. “I was not expecting to hear from you so early.”

 

“I’ll bet.” Jim sounded strange; for a moment Spock feared that he had spoken poorly, after all. However, a moment later Jim continued. “I, um. I know you probably don’t really want to see me right now. I mean, we didn’t exactly . . . but Bones is out on his date, so I don’t want to interrupt, and if I go to the clinic they’ll probably insist on reporting it and—”

 

“Jim?” Something dark was rising in Spock’s chest, a hot, sick swirl of panic and rage.

 

“The job I was on sort of . . . things went bad,” Jim said, and though the quaver in his voice was almost non-existent, it seemed to latch onto the dark thing inside of Spock and make it howl. “I could use . . . god, I’m sorry, I hate to ask you this, Spock, but I don’t know who else—”

 

“Where are you?” Spock was already at the door to his office, barely even remembering to shut off the lights as he went. “Are you at your apartment?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Stay there. I am on my way. Do you require emergency medical attention?”

 

There was a pause that Spock did not care for in the slightest. “No,” Jim said at last. “Just a little first aid, if you can—”

 

“I can. I am coming, Jim.”

 

“Good. Thanks. I just . . . thanks. I’m gonna clean up a bit; you remember how to get here? Do you need the address?”

 

“I remember. I will be there soon.”

 

Jim’s careful, grateful words were lost on Spock as he very nearly ran out of the building. The call had been disconnected, he realized after a moment, and jammed his PADD into a pocket as he went.

 

Fog was rolling in from the bay, thick enough to keep Spock from running as he was unable to see more than a meter ahead of him. He wanted to tear at it, to snap and snarl and rend at this thing that was slowing his progress towards Jim. Illogical. Fog was an atmospheric phenomenon. Water vapor clinging to dust; formless, mindless, meaningless. Illogical to want to harm it. Illogical, irrational, and foolish, and Spock could not possibly care less.

 

Were they already bonded, he would be able to use Jim’s mind as a guide, to follow the pull of his thoughts until they brought him to his mate. Without it he had to rely solely on his memory of the surrounding streets, and nearly walked headlong into a deep hole in the pavement, construction that had not yet been started when he last walked from the Academy to Catspaw. Nevertheless, a short twenty minutes and fifty-three seconds after he had rushed from his office, Spock was waiting impatiently for the lift to reach Jim’s floor.

 

Calm, he reminded himself again. Control. It would not be easy with Jim injured, but it was what would be required. The last thing that he would wish in such a situation would be to frighten Jim even further.

 

He found that resolve tested almost immediately when he buzzed for admittance to Jim’s apartment and was not immediately granted entrance. He buzzed again, calling out Jim’s name, his mind already awash with thoughts of Jim fallen, broken, unable to let him in to help. Spock was in the process of reaching for his PADD, fully prepared to break through the door if Jim did not answer, when the door finally slid open.

 

Far simpler, Spock found then, to maintain his mantra of calm and control without Jim standing in front of him, a bruise forming beneath one eye and an eyebrow split by an ugly gash, a bloody towel still gripped in his hand. Spock was through the door without waiting for an invitation, and Jim stared wide-eyed as he backed up to allow him in. Then Spock’s hands were on Jim’s face, gently cradling his jaw and turning him so that Spock’s fingertips could ghost over the damage at his eye. He could feel the barest whisper of Jim’s mind there so near his meld point, and it took all of his focus to keep from spreading his hand and sinking deep to sooth and calm and claim.

 

“The cut is not deep,” he said at last, once he had managed to focus again on the situation immediately at hand. “And the bleeding seems to have stopped.”

 

“Yeah.” Jim’s eyes were wide, his skin flushed but still relatively cool beneath Spock’s touch. “It wasn’t too . . . sorry, I just—are you reading my mind right now?”

 

Spock dropped his hands immediately and stepped back, grasping desperately for some semblance of his usual reserve. “I had shielded my mind from yours, but your point is well taken. My apologies; I should not have touched you without your permission.”

 

“No, that’s not what I meant.” Jim sighed and leaned back against the wall. “I probably ought to just stop talking altogether. I’m really grateful you came, Spock. I don’t want you to think otherwise.”

 

“Not at all.” His hands itched to be back on Jim, but he kept them firmly clasped behind his back. “I presume that you require assistance with more than what is currently visible.”

 

“Yeah. I was actually just about to jump in the shower when you got here; I didn’t think you’d make it so quickly. Um. The first-aid kit’s in the closet in my bedroom if you want to get that out in the meantime.” He took a step back and his legs threatened to buckle; Spock’s hands were at his arms, holding him steady before he could give it a second thought.

 

“Do you require assistance in bathing?” he asked, and though he did not precisely regret the offer he did immediately hope that Jim would decline. To stay detached and clinical in that situation would have been impossible.

 

“No,” Jim said to his relief, carefully easing out of Spock’s grip and standing with gratifying steadiness. “I’m not that hurt. It’s mostly just shock, I think.” He moved away again, and though Spock watched carefully he kept his hands to himself when Jim remained steady. “I’ll just wash up and be out in a minute. I guess . . . make yourself at home?” He opened his mouth as though to say something more, but closed it after a moment to turn away and walk towards what Spock presumed was the bathroom.

 

Spock, meanwhile, took a moment to sink into a nearby chair, his own legs suddenly too weak to support him. He had been able to smell blood on Jim’s body, and the salt of sweat and semen from another unfamiliar source. Now he wanted nothing so much as to hunt down the one who had done this—Human, male, wealthy enough to afford an illegal tryst with someone of Jim’s already high rates; the list could not be terribly long—and tear him apart with his bare hands. To wreak vengeance on the one who had dared , and return to take and claim and ensure that Jim would never again go to any other than Spock. He was on his feet and halfway to the door when he came back to himself, forced his steps to turn to the bedroom and the closet Jim had indicated.

 

Vengeance could wait. Jim was here now and required his assistance—that was of primary importance.

 

The first-aid kit was a large one, and in addition to the customary collection of disinfectants and bandages also contained a small dermal regenerator. Why Jim would feel the need to own such a thing did not bear considering. Spock simply checked the charge and arranged it on the bed with the other items he thought likely to be needed. He closed his eyes then, falling with some effort into a light meditative state. He needed to reinforce his shields; it would not do to have them falter while he was tending to Jim.

 

Spock had managed to tighten his focus enough that he did not hear the water shut off, or Jim’s footsteps as he entered the room. The feel of a hand coming to rest lightly on his shoulder, however, had his eyes snapping open. Jim’s hand was already retreating, nerves clear on his face.

 

“Looks like you’re all prepared,” he said, nodding towards the neat rows that Spock had assembled. “Where do you want me?”

 

Spock’s gaze scanned Jim’s body. His button-down and trousers had been discarded for loose, soft pajama pants and a thin gray t-shirt. No obvious damage presented itself, however, so Spock let his eyes meet Jim’s again. “Can you sit?”

 

“Yeah,” Jim said with a faint flush.

 

“Do so,” Spock requested with a nod to the open space on the bed next to him. He watched with outward dispassion as Jim settled and reached up to strip away his shirt.

 

Inside, Spock was raging.

 

Livid purple bruises formed an angry patchwork across Jim’s chest and shoulders, dotted here and there with the unmistakable impression of strong Human teeth. A long red line curved its way around Jim’s right side; Spock had barely opened his mouth to tell him to turn when Jim did so. More bruises darkened his back, oddly long and each with those same red lines at the end where blood had been drawn. It was clear that he had been repeatedly struck by something. Something long and relatively thin, with something sharp at the end.

 

A belt, Spock’s analytical mind supplied. The majority of the bruising appeared consistent with a long leather strap, and if he had been struck by the end with the buckle—

 

“I think the ones on my back are the worst,” Jim said, interrupting his train of thought, “and I can’t reach them on my own. Everything else I should be able to take care of myself.”

 

Spock reached for the gel that would prepare Jim’s skin. “May I inquire as to how much of this was consensual?” he asked, steadfastly ignoring the low buzz of pleasure that started in his fingers as they spread the cool gel over Jim’s skin.

 

“That’s personal,” Jim said, his voice a shade tighter than normal. “I don’t discuss the details of my appointments.”


“I see.” Spock wiped his hands clean and took up the dermal regenerator, distantly satisfied when it hummed easily to life. “Then perhaps I might inquire as to whether this sort of damage is usual after an appointment such as this?”

 

“That’s barely a different question and you know it.” Two of the cuts on Jim’s back had been healed by the time he spoke again. “No. It’s not. Lu—this client likes a little bit of pain, but this is extreme.”

 

“Why did you allow it?” Some of Spock’s distress was beginning to color his voice, but he found it difficult to bring himself to care.

 

“What the hell makes you think I did?” Jim demanded. “I’m not the only one who left that room limping, you know. Well. I’m assuming he left eventually; he was still pretty much down and gasping when I took off.” He shook his head. “This is my fault as much as his, though.”

 

“No.” The word was sharp; it felt as though it had ripped its way out of Spock’s throat. His hands remained gentle, however, as he turned Jim to face him again. “You are not to blame for this.”

 

“No?” Jim laughed softly, a low and ugly sound. “No offense, Spock, but how the hell would you know? I went in without having my mind fully on my client. I let personal concerns distract me, and I did something to piss him off. It was an amateurish mistake. I knew better than that.”

 

“No matter what your actions, they do not excuse what has been done to you.”

 

“I know that,” Jim said, rolling his eyes. “I’m a whore, Spock, but that doesn’t make me a slave. That’s why I beat the shit out of him when he didn’t understand that distinction.”

 

“You should not have been in a position where it might become necessary to do so.”

 

“It’s a hazard of the trade. If you’re any good at what you do, there are bound to be some people who start thinking of you as their own personal property.” He smiled, all teeth and no feeling. “And I’m very good at what I do.”

 

Spock hadn’t realized that his hands were still gripping Jim’s bare shoulders until his fingers tightened. Hadn’t realized his intention to lean in and take a Human kiss until their lips had already met. Hadn’t dared to entertain the thought that he might be allowed to do so until Jim’s arms wrapped around him as he kissed Spock back.

 

Spock could quite suddenly see the appeal of this style of kissing. It felt as though he were stealing Jim’s breath, stealing his voice, silencing all of the ugly things that he was saying. Jim was clinging to him, pulling Spock closer as though to fuse them together, and everywhere their skin touched Spock felt the greedy thrum of Jim’s mind pulling at him as surely as his body. His hands lifted to cup the back of Jim’s head, guiding the angle of the kiss and holding Jim there as he sank in even deeper.

 

Reason and control became dim, distant concepts as Jim’s taste filled his mind. All that mattered was Jim, his mate, his chosen, k’diwa, wuh’kin-kur, taluhk nash-veh k’dular. Spock pressed forward, bearing them down together, sensing the pain in Jim’s thoughts and the more, please more that accompanied it and relishing them both in equal measures. Jim’s legs parted around Spock’s hips, cradling them eagerly, his arousal hard and warm against Spock’s own and clearly revealed by the loose, draping material of his pants.

 

Jim’s thoughts were a confused jumble, jumping erratically and too swiftly for Spock to follow in his current state. He only understood that they felt as greedy and desperate as his own, and welcomed them because of that. The sounds that Jim was making, moans and cries muffled by Spock’s mouth, sent his blood burning hotter in his veins, and the needy scramble of Jim’s hands at his back as he sought a way beneath Spock’s Academy blacks drew an eager growl from his own throat.

 

Spock.” Jim pulled away to gasp his name and Spock, thoroughly pleased with the sound, left Jim’s mouth free in order to taste the stubble-rough skin along his jaw. “Please.” Confusion and uncertainty bloomed alien in Spock’s mind alongside desire, and Jim’s voice dropped lower. “What do you need me to be?”

 

The words, and the foreign memory of them said a dozen times before, washed like ice water over Spock’s skin. He pulled back and away, easily breaking free of Jim’s hold as the reality of the situation reasserted itself. Jim lay beneath him, eyes blown wide with confusion and desire, lips swollen red from Spock’s mouth as the question he asked of every new client hung heavy in the air between them.

 

“Do not.” Spock’s own voice sounded harsh in the sudden silence, and he was unsure if he had spoken in Vulcan or Standard until he saw understanding cross Jim’s face. He pulled away completely, leaving Jim to scramble backwards until his back was came to rest against the headboard. “I will not be another of your clients, Jim.”

 

“I wasn’t planning on charging you, if that’s what has you worried,” Jim snapped, and immediately pressed his eyes closed. “Sorry. I . . . sorry. I don’t understand what you’re thinking, Spock, and I can’t . . . pull me along here.” His eyes opened again, lost and unsure and unbearably blue. “If it wasn’t because . . . why did you kiss me?”

 

A part of Spock briefly wished that he had never met Jim Kirk, had never had cause to release the blocks on his own emotions if it meant suffering this nearly crippling surfeit of them. The thought was quickly discarded, however. Jim was worth this. Worth anything.

 

“Is your knowledge of your own worth so damaged?” he asked quietly. “Did it not occur to you that I may have kissed you simply because I wished to?” He balked, but only for a moment. “Because I have wished to for some time?”

 

Spock fervently hoped to never again cause the astonished, wary disbelief that overtook Jim’s face. “Then why’d you stop?” he blurted out, and Spock was certain that his ears and face must have flushed bright green, as hot as they currently felt.

 

“There are several contributing factors that . . .” He struggled to collect himself again as he took in the sight of Jim’s tongue darting out to wet his lips. “I acted impulsively. This is not an appropriate time for such advances for several reasons, first amongst which is the fact that you are still injured.” He reached for a bottle of disinfectant, but Jim snatched it up before he could take it.

 

“Not that badly,” Jim protested. “And it’s not like I haven’t fucked in worse condition.”

 

“It would be advisable for you to refrain from reminding me of that fact,” Spock said tightly. His face was stony as he took the bottle from Jim’s unresisting grasp. “I would also suggest that you sit still and let me care for you, as I intend to do so even if I must tie you down in order to accomplish it.”

 

“Kinky,” Jim said unsteadily, and immediately held up a hand. “Sorry. Again. Force of habit; ask Bones, I don’t—hey, it’s okay. Really, they’re not that bad.”

 

Spock only distantly realized then that the distressed sound ringing in his ears had come from his own throat. His focus was all on Jim’s hands currently cradled in his own, the knuckles scraped raw and bloody. The dim, faint voice of logic was reminding him that Human hands were not as sensitive as his own; that such damage was surely painful, but not the crippling injury that it would be for a Vulcan. Intellectually, he knew all of that very well. It did not stop him, however, from being filled again with a paralyzing rush of terror and rage.

 

“It’s okay. Hey, Spock.” He gradually became aware that Jim was speaking softly, soothingly, his fingers stroking softly along the side of Spock’s palm. Spock shivered at the intimate touch, his surge of guilt at profiting from Jim’s ignorance not nearly strong enough to make him pull away. “Talk to me, okay? You can talk and patch me up at the same time, right?”

 

“Yes.” Spock gathered himself, but allowed a single greedy, illicit stroke of his fingers across Jim’s before he reached again for the disinfectant. “Do you wish for me to speak of anything in particular?”

 

“Yeah.” Jim shifted, but to Spock’s satisfaction made no move to pull his hand away as Spock carefully swabbed at the broken skin and began to coat it in the clear, soothing preparatory gel. “I want to know about these reasons of yours. Because to be brutally honest with you, Spock, if I’d had any idea you were open to the idea I’d have jumped you months ago.”

 

Spock said nothing for several seconds as he reactivated the dermal regenerator and began to pass it over Jim’s hands. “Were it in my power at this moment,” he said at last, his eyes still averted from Jim’s, “I would kill the one who did this to you.”

 

“Wow. Okay. Well, not exactly a clear answer, but I guess it’s a start. Though at the risk of putting my own life in danger, I should probably tell you I did this to myself.”

 

“If you are going to insist again that—”

 

“No. No, I don’t mean in a tangential, indirect way; I mean in the way where my fists connected repeatedly with the guy’s face, and this is the predictable result.”

 

Spock’s heart beat hard with dark, savage satisfaction. “Good.” He wanted very much to leave it there, but while Vulcans were—contrary to rumor—capable of lying, he would not willingly deceive Jim. “I would kill him in any case.”

 

“Because he hurt me.” It was not precisely a question, but Spock answered anyway.

 

“In part.”

 

Jim held out his other hand when the last of his skin had knitted back together. “What’s the rest of it, then?”

 

“He is a pi’tak,” Spock all but hissed. His control was evaporating, and he took a moment to marvel at the realization that yet again, he hardly cared. “A thief.”

 

“He’s not,” Jim said, his voice surprisingly gentle. “It’s not thievery if you pay for what you take.”

 

“And you believe that the payment was sufficient?” Spock demanded.

 

“It’s the going rate.”

 

“That is not—” Spock cut himself off; he would not win his point by simply protesting. He was not proud of what occurred to him next, but he did not allow that to stop him. “When you were on Tarsus IV,” he began, and took it as an encouraging sign when Jim stiffened but still did not pull away, “did you encourage the other children to sell themselves for food, as well?”

 

“I—” Jim’s face had gone quietly, coldly horrified. “No. No, of course I didn’t. God, Spock, how could you even ask that?”

 

“Why not? It would have been a logical choice; had more of you made the attempt you might have appealed to a greater number of people, and thus increased your earnings.”

 

“Not enough.” Jim’s hand was fisted and trembling, but still held in Spock’s careful grip. “Nothing would ever have been enough to justify that, to compensate for . . . nothing.”

 

“And yet it was enough for you?” Spock asked quietly. He released Jim’s hand at last, fully healed now, and sat back. “All of them, Jim. Any being who has taken your body and believed they had the right, who thought that any price could be enough. I would do battle with them all in your name, and see them fall as the thieves that they are.” He did not let his gaze falter, but kept his eyes locked on Jim’s astonished blue ones. “I will not share you. I can not. It has been difficult enough to watch you when I had no claim but that of friendship. To taste your body, however, and afterwards watch you go to another . . . impossible. It would unmake me, Jim.”

 

“That’s quite the claim.” Jim scrubbed an unsteady hand over his mouth. “Is that sort of possessiveness a Vulcan thing?”

 

Spock thought of the things that he could not yet bring himself to explain, not even to Jim. Desire and madness and fire in the blood. “Perhaps,” he allowed. “Though I can not presume to speak for my species as a whole. I can assure you, however, that I personally have shown an unanticipated tendency towards that particular trait.”

 

“So it’s you or my job? That’s my choice?”

 

“Jim. You are the first person I have ever named as a friend; the feeling that moved me to do so will not change,” Spock assured him. “In that respect, I will be yours no matter what your decision. I would not presume to dictate your future to you; however, I remain hopeful that I may yet convince you of the virtue of my suit.” He stood, taking refuge from his emotions in the familiar structure of a military bearing. Oddly, he felt almost physically lighter now that he had made himself and his intentions clear. “I should warn you that I can be quite persistent.”

 

Jim blinked up at him. “Are you seriously going to, like . . . woo me?”

 

“Indeed. I am pleased to see that we understand each other.”

 

“But . . .” Jim shook his head. “I don’t . . . this is hardly fair to you, Spock. I have no intention of quitting my work at Velocity, and I can’t let you—”

 

“You would not presume to remove my choice in the matter, would you?” That sent Jim’s mouth snapping shut, and Spock nodded in satisfaction. “I did not believe so.”

 

“Look.” Jim sighed, shook his head again. “I can’t think straight anymore tonight. Could we maybe pick this up tomorrow?”

 

“I am afraid not; my next training mission begins tomorrow at 0800 hours and will last for two weeks.” Spock allowed a trace of his regret to show on his face. “It had been my hope to inform you of my intentions tonight—though admittedly in a rather less dramatic fashion—and obtain an indication as to whether or not my advances might be welcome.”

 

“Your plan was to drop that bombshell on me and then disappear for two weeks? Seriously?”

 

“As a military tactic, it is not without merit,” Spock said, slightly sheepish. “And it seemed an effective method of ensuring that your thoughts would remain with me in my absence, as mine will remain with you.” His face and voice softened. “I can assure you that my love will not falter in two weeks’ time, Jim. Give some thought to what I have told you.” He smiled very slightly and watched Jim’s eyes track the movement. “I look forward to hearing your reply.”



>>Part 12

 

Chapter Text

Title: Streetlight People
Author: [info]ladyblahblah 
Artist: [info]cannedebonbon 
Mixer: [info]jouissant 
Beta: [info]ninjaboots 
Series: STXI/Reboot/as you will
Character/Pairing(s): Kirk/Spock; minor/implied McCoy/Gaila, Uhura/Chapel, Pike/Number One, OFC/OFC
Disclaimer: I own everything, but only in my fevered dreams.  Man, my dream!royalty checks are EPIC.  My payment for this in real life, however, is nonexistent.
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: prostitution, mentioned childhood sexual abuse, mentioned genocide, implied violence
Summary: AU. Strangers waitin' up and down the boulevard, their shadows searchin' in the night.  Streetlight people, living just to find emotion; hiding somewhere in the night.
Author's Note: Final part but one.  Really, you could stop reading at the end here if you wanted; all that happens after this is some sexytiems and Jim running around like an idiot.  No one's really interested in stuff like that, right?  You can content yourselves with the final illustration for this story!  Awwwwwwwww, lookit 'em! ^_^

 

 




Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Thank you again, sir,” Spock said, handing the PADD back to Captain Pike who took it with a shrug.

 

“It’s a good cause. That means good publicity, which means the people I talked to were more than willing to listen to the suggestion.” He shook his head. “Anyone who survived that nightmare on Tarsus deserves all the help they can get. I’m inclined to think this is still too little; hopefully it won’t be too late.”

 

“A hope I most emphatically share.” Spock glanced at the PADD now resting on Captain Pike’s desk. “You have managed to rally a great deal of support in a very short amount of time.” His eyes fell to his hands were they were steepled in front of him. “I only hope that my own actions have not proved to be in vain.”

 

Captain Pike’s gaze narrowed fractionally. “What actions are those?” he asked, and Spock stifled the urge to flush guiltily.

 

“I have taken matters into my own hands with one of the survivors, though I included him on the list of those requiring assistance in case it may be necessary in the future. I have reason to believe, however, that time is of the essence in his case.”

 

“Are you telling me that you funded someone out of your own pocket?” Captain Pike demanded, and Spock straightened fractionally.

 

“My personal funds are more than sufficient for my own needs, and certainly enough to spare what is necessary to support a worthy cause.”

 

“I see.” Captain Pike glanced at the information in front of him, scanning the names as though he might be able to work out which was the one receiving Spock’s personal support. He sat back in his chair and looked up at Spock thoughtfully. “This ‘worthy cause’. An acquaintance of yours?”

 

“No. He is . . . an old friend of Jim’s,” Spock admitted. “I gave my word that I would help him in any way I could.”

 

“Ah, I see.” Spock was quite afraid that he did; Captain Pike was regarding him shrewdly now, and with no small amount of amusement. “I’m sure he’ll be grateful. I’m sure both of them will be. Have you spoken with Jim since—”

 

“We spoke last on the night before my departure, as I have already informed you.” Spock was questioning the wisdom of having done so now, though in the moment it had seemed entirely logical to seek advice and assistance from the man who had mentored him for years.

 

“You haven’t commed him once since then?” Captain Pike asked in ill-concealed surprise.

 

“I do not have the privilege of—”

 

“Don’t even think about hiding behind a lower rank, Spock,” the captain frowned, pointing a finger. “My wife and I managed even when she was just a Lieutenant Commander, because it was important. Hell, I’ve offered before to let you use my channel if there’s a need for it, so don’t try to give me some weak-ass excuse. You’ve chosen not to talk to him.”

 

“Indeed,” Spock confirmed after a moment.

 

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that what got you into this situation in the first place?”

 

“That was a different situation,” Spock said stiffly. “He is aware that I am off-planet and will not be expecting communication. It is logical to give him space; he has a great deal to consider after the last time we spoke. I am giving him the chance now to give his full consideration to what I told him, rather than rushing him into an answer.”

 

“You’re scared,” Captain Pike countered, leaning forward, “and you’re hiding. What are you going to do if he uses this time you’ve so graciously given him to decide he’s not interested?”

 

“Then I will endeavor to convince him otherwise.” Spock lifted an eyebrow. “That I am willing to give him space now does not mean that I will consider abandoning my suit. I am prepared to do everything in my power to win Jim as my bondmate. I am also fully prepared to be . . . tenacious, if necessary.”

 

“Well.” Captain Pike sat back again, fingers drumming lightly on his desk. “I’ll wish you luck, then. And if you manage to move past that load of bullshit and deal with the fact that you’re terrified he’ll reject you out of hand, the offer of my personal channel still stands.”

 

Spock could not entirely contain the flush that darkened his skin this time.

 

“Understood, sir.”

 

 

*****************************
 

 

Spock stared at his PADD, Jim’s name already called up on the screen. All he needed to do was to connect the call. He had, after all, been back on Earth nearly a full day; it was entirely reasonable for him to wish to speak with his friend. More than friend. Yet less than bondmate, less than lover.

 

His hand pulled away from the PADD yet again.

 

He needed a more decided and detailed plan. He could not afford missteps or confusion as to the precise nature of their relationship. Dealing with Jim required forethought.

 

Tomorrow would be soon enough to begin his campaign in earnest. For now, he would draw up a plan of action.

 

He was deep into the second-week projections when a knock sounded at his door. While it was unusual for a professor to be sought out so soon after an active mission, a quick glance at his desk chronometer showed that his office hours were technically still in effect. He thumbed the lock override for his door but did not look up as he heard it slide open.

 

“One moment,” he said, a distressingly imprecise statement, but one he knew was widely used among the mostly Human cadets.

 

“No rush,” an amused, familiar voice said in response, and Spock’s eyes shot up to see Jim standing at attention on the other side of his desk.

 

Jim, wearing a hint of a smirk and a red Starfleet Academy cadet uniform.

 

“I just had a couple of questions for you, Professor,” he added, and Spock was on his feet before he was aware of making the decision to move.

 

“Jim.” There were dozens of questions circling his mind—two and a half dozen, to be precise—all centered around the general ideas of how and why. None of them managed, however, to find their way past his lips. He could only stare, struck with the wholly illogical and ridiculous idea that if he moved or spoke Jim would vanish like an apparition.

 

“You seem . . . surprised,” Jim said more hesitantly after a moment. “You didn’t know about this?” He seemed to sense Spock’s confusion, and he brought himself up a bit straighter. “Sorry, sir. I’d thought that Captain Pike would have informed you of my enrollment.”


“Captain Pike?”

 

“He was the one who sponsored my admission and fast-tracked the whole thing.” Jim’s chin lifted a fraction higher. “Are you of the opinion that he was wrong to do so, sir?”

 

“I suppose that depends on the circumstances, Cadet. Jim,” he said quietly, and watched blue eyes flicker briefly over to him. “Why?”

 

“Permission to speak freely, sir?”

 

Spock’s lips twitched despite himself. “At ease, Cadet.”

 

Jim’s posture relaxed, and when he turned to fully face Spock again he was once more the Jim Spock recognized. For a moment they simply drank in the sight of each other. “The thing is,” Jim said at last. “The thing is, you made me an offer. And I guess this is my answer.” He shifted his weight nervously, lifted a hand to tug at his collar. “Working at Velocity was never exactly my dream. Yeah, I was good at it, and I enjoyed it, but when it came right down to it . . .” He sighed and offered a hesitant smile. “You told me before that I was worth more than anyone could manage to pay. It took me about twenty-four hours after you left to decide that I could say the same about you. If it comes down to a choice between you and that job . . . well, it’s probably the easiest choice I’ve ever made.”

 

“And Starfleet?” Spock took a cautious step closer. “I hope that you know I did not require—”

 

“I do know,” Jim interrupted. “And when I told Aylin I was quitting, I didn’t . . . it was all sort of rash and sudden, but in the end I just did what I should have done years ago,” he said with a quiet laugh. “I took my dad out of the equation. When I’m not thinking about being like him, or not being like him, this is where I want to be. Who I want to be. I’ve always wanted to see the stars. And I know it sounds sappy and cliched and . . .” He took a steadying breath. “I’d like to see them with you.”

 

Spock’s heart was hammering in his side, and his body felt inexplicably light. “That would be most agreeable,” he said, and Jim’s answering smile was very nearly blinding.

 

“Good. That’s . . .” He laughed. “That’s really good. So then, um . . . I thought maybe, if you . . . oh, fuck it.”

 

At that he lunged forward, framing Spock’s face in both hands as their mouths came crashing together. Spock’s body reacted without hesitation or indeed even consultation from his higher thought processes; his arms wound around Jim to bring him close, then closer still until he nearly marveled that they did not simply merge into one. He was intoxicated on the taste and feel of this Human in his arms, on the sensation of full lips parting beneath his until a warm, wet tongue slid out and sought his own.

 

He lost track of how long they stood there, his time-sense abandoned in the glory of memorizing Jim’s taste. Likewise, he had no clear idea of how he had come to have Jim pressed against the edge of the desk, one strong leg wrapped around Spock’s hip as clever hands worked at the fastenings of his uniform.

 

“Jim,” he pulled back to gasp, eyes fluttering briefly shut again when Jim leaned up to press his lips against Spock’s temple, teasing the psi points there. “Wait.”

 

“Don’t worry.” Jim’s mouth traveled to the tip of Spock’s ear, nipping and sucking until Spock hardened even further in response. “I know how these things go on and off now,” he said, and proved himself by easily working Spock’s collar open.

 

“Not here.” Spock had to exert an extraordinary measure of will to pull entirely out of Jim’s arms. “This is not—these offices are open to staff and students. Not here.”

 

“Come on.” Jim stepped close again, eyes wild. “Your door locks, and you have this nice wide desk right here. You can’t honestly tell me you’ve never once imagined bending me over this thing.”

 

Almost unbearable heat surged in Spock’s blood. “Not until this moment, no.”

 

Jim blinked. “That sort of innocence really shouldn’t be such a turn-on,” he said, mostly to himself, and reached for Spock again, groaning when Spock easily caught his hands. “Please, Spock. I haven’t had anything but my own hand since the last time I saw you; I need this.”

 

Spock could not have helped the pleased, possessive growl that escaped him if he had tried, an effort he did not bother to make. “I will be pleased to see to any and all of your needs that you feel have been neglected. At great length, for as long as you can remain conscious.” He tightened his hold slightly and felt Jim’s pulse leap in response. “But not until I have you in bed. My bed.”

 

“Oh.” Jim licked his lips, and Spock’s will nearly broke. “Why didn’t you just say so?”

 

Spock released Jim long enough to put his clothes back to rights. “If you require narration of the obvious, I am willing to oblige. I understand that it is not uncommon to derive sexual excitement from such measures.”

 

“Did you just offer to talk dirty to me?” Jim asked, blinking in surprise. “You did, didn’t you? Shit.” He let out an unsteady laugh and drew a hand across his mouth. “I never would have survived you actually wooing me.”

 

Spock raised an eyebrow and reached down to brush his fingers lightly against Jim’s. “What, precisely, makes you believe that I have abandoned my plans to do so?”

 

“What—Spock,” Jim grinned, “you don’t have to win me; I’m already won. I’m yours.”

 

“There are things we still must discuss,” Spock said carefully, despite the breathless thrill that shot through him at Jim’s words. “Things about me that you must know before I can accept that as your answer. Additionally,” he admitted, tangling their fingers together until he sent tremors racing up and down his own spine, “I find that wish to give you something that no other has before.”

 

“You’ve never lost a debate, have you?” Jim murmured, a smile that Spock had never seen before curling up the corners of his mouth. “Okay.” He squeezed Spock’s fingers, and something in his eyes made Spock suspect that he somehow knew exactly what he was doing. “Tomorrow.”

 

Spock did not resist as Jim reached up for one more kiss. “Tomorrow will be an excellent time to begin.”


>>Epilogue

 

 

Chapter Text

Title: Streetlight People
Author: [info]ladyblahblah 
Artist: [info]cannedebonbon 
Mixer: [info]jouissant 
Beta: [info]ninjaboots 
Series: STXI/Reboot/as you will
Character/Pairing(s): Kirk/Spock; minor/implied McCoy/Gaila, Uhura/Chapel, Pike/Number One, OFC/OFC
Disclaimer: I own everything, but only in my fevered dreams.  Man, my dream!royalty checks are EPIC.  My payment for this in real life, however, is nonexistent.
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: prostitution, mentioned childhood sexual abuse, mentioned genocide, implied violence
Summary: AU. Strangers waitin', up and down the boulevard, their shadows searchin' in the night.  Streetlight people, living just to find emotion; hiding somewhere in the night.
Author's Note: The end!  I hope you've all enjoyed the ride.  (That's what Jim said?)  I just couldn't bring myself to let this story go by without Jim and Spock ending up in the sack at least once.  Thus, I give you: the Sexilogue Epilogue.

 

 




Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12

 

 

 

 

 

The first thing that Jim registered when he woke up was the realization that he wasn’t in his own bed. That was unusual, if not unheard of. He didn’t usually spend the night with his clients. It wasn’t until he’d managed to wake up a bit more that he remembered that he didn’t have clients anymore, and hadn’t since he’d realized that Spock . . .

 

Spock. He was in Spock’s bed.

 

Alone.

 

Jim sat bold upright in an instant. His immediate, instinctual first thought was that he had overstayed his welcome. He was sure that Spock had things to do, and wouldn’t need Jim hanging around and getting in the way. Having convinced himself of the wisdom of his interpretation, Jim was about to throw back the covers and start hunting for his clothes when the door slid open.

 

“You are awake,” Spock said in evident satisfaction, stepping forward enough to let the door slide closed again behind him.

 

“Yeah.” Jim swallowed. Spock had donned a bathrobe and apparently little to nothing else, and it was taking all of Jim’s self control to keep from launching himself at him from across the room. “I was just about to get dressed and get out of your way.”

 

Spock raised an eyebrow. “You are quite far from being in my way.” He stepped over to the side of the bed and handed Jim the mug that he carried. “You have remarked on several occasions that you are never properly awake until you have had your morning coffee.” Spock’s hands fell to the tie of his robe then while Jim, who had automatically begun to drink, set the mug down and stared in helpless fascination. “And I very much desired you to be fully awake.”

 

“Is that a fact?” Jim’s insecurities subsided slightly and his heart was racing, his mouth dry as a smile crept its way over his face. He hadn’t felt this giddy about sex since . . . actually, he didn’t think he ever had. It was, he was discovering, a surprisingly pleasant feeling. “Because you didn’t seem too sure of things last night.”

 

Spock’s eyebrow lifted higher and Jim, remembering just what had happened the night before once Spock had gotten them both naked, flushed. “Not with . . . I mean the sex was . . . oh god.” He buried his face in his hands. “No wonder I’ve been avoiding relationships for years. I suck at this.”

 

A moment later he felt Spock’s hands close gently over his, and draw them away from his face. “I did warn you,” he said, settling on the bed next to Jim, “that once we had been physically intimate I would no longer to be able to consider our relationship in a casual manner. I do not wish to demand more than you are willing to give, but if it is a question of what I wish from you, rest assured that the answer is no less than everything.”

 

That giddy feeling was back. “Whatever you want from me,” Jim said, lacing their fingers together, “it’s yours.”

 

Heat flared in Spock’s eyes. “Have a care,” he warned, and moments later Jim found himself pinned to the bed beneath a hot, inhumanly strong body. “I may very well hold you to those words.”

 

Spock kissed Jim before he could respond, groaning needily when Jim began to tease Spock’s fingers with his own. Jim released his hands eventually to push Spock’s robe off of his shoulders and bring their bare skin together. Spock was sure and certain in his kisses, his touch, reading Jim’s desires as easily as his own, and it wasn’t long before Jim found his thoughts scattering helplessly beneath the onslaught. He was half hard already and wrestling with the covers that were keeping their lower bodies separate, greedy for more of that super-heated skin against his.

 

“Do you wish to finish your coffee?” Spock murmured against his lips, and Jim nearly growled.

 

“Fuck the coffee; I’m awake.” He finally managed to kick away the covers and pulled Spock’s hips between his legs with a needy groan. “Spock. Fuck, please.”

 

“Please what, Jim?” Spock’s teeth scraped over a spot he had already marked and made Jim buck in reaction. “You must be more specific.”

 

“Must I?” Jim grinned, even as his eyes rolled back in his head. “You seemed to get what I wanted pretty clearly last night.”

 

“Your desires were considerably more focused then. You are currently envisioning several different scenarios at once, not all of which are compatible with the others.” Spock reached down almost lazily to wrap a hand around Jim’s cock, all blazing heat and carefully checked strength. “I have also had the opportunity to clarify my own desires. All together, it is . . . distracting.”

 

“How do you manage to make that sound hot?” Jim demanded. “That’s not even dirty talk, it’s just . . . fuck.” Spock squeezed him carefully but firmly, and Jim couldn’t choke back a whimper. “Anything. Please, anything, just don’t stop touching me.”

 

“A most illogical fear of yours,” Spock murmured against his skin, and Jim huffed out a laugh.

 

He lost himself in the moment then, all of his attention focused on touching as much of Spock as he could reach without interrupting the magic that Spock was working with his own hands and mouth. By the time he felt Spock press a single slick finger inside of him he was already ridiculously close to the edge. He managed to hold on through several minutes of feeling Spock working him open, thinking of those fingers inside of him and feeling Spock shake and gasp as Jim gripped tight around him. Then his half-formed plans fractured and splintered along with his mind as Spock’s fingers pressed against his prostate and Jim came with a surprised shout.

 

Spock collapsed on top of him, shuddering and gasping for breath along with Jim. Jim felt something damp against his leg, and a hazy smile broke over his face.

 

“Did you just get off on fingering me?” he demanded, slurring his words slightly and completely unable to care.

 

“Yes,” Spock said simply. And then, a moment later with something that may have been a smirk in his voice, “Was the experience as pleasurable as you had imagined?”

 

Jim laughed, far too steeped in afterglow to be embarrassed. “It really was. But y’know, that might’ve been a fluke. We should probably try it again, just to be sure,” he said, and would have sworn that he felt Spock smile against his shoulder.

 

“It would hardly be a statistically significant finding otherwise.”

 

Jim laughed again, but then something in Spock’s words tickled at his memory. “Statistically . . . shit!” He sat up, leaving Spock to stare up at him quizzically as he searched for a clock. “What time is it?”

 

“0831,” Spock answered immediately. “And thirty-seven seconds, as of the time of your query. What—”

 

“SHIT!” Jim leaped out of bed. “I have a class in less that thirty minutes! Shit shit shit shit!” He ran into the bathroom and nearly cheered when he saw the sonic shower. “I’ll just be a minute,” he shouted over his shoulder as he jumped in and switched the shower on.

 

He poked his head out of the bathroom door when he had finished to find Spock donning his robe again and managed a moment’s distraction before he shook himself out of it. “Sorry,” he said. “Hey, is it going to gross you out if I use your toothbrush?”

 

Spock’s eyebrow lifted. “Considering where my mouth has been on your body in the past fifteen hours, I can not imagine a single logical reason why it would,” he said. Jim grinned madly and threw him a wink before disappearing back into the bathroom.

 

“I completely forgot that I have classes on Saturdays,” Jim said around the brush when Spock came to stand in the doorway. He spit and rinsed, and Spock moved out of the way in time for Jim to barrel past and begin to throw his uniform back on. “Have to if I want to make it through in three years. I promised Gaila I’d graduate with her.” He sent a mad grin over his shoulder. “And can you imagine the look on Bones’s face if I make it through before him? Priceless.”

 

“Indeed,” Spock said, his eyes nearly—very nearly—smiling. “Are you available this evening?” he asked, and something in his tone made Jim pause.

 

“I . . . yeah.” He smiled, fastening the button on his collar. “You have an idea?”

 

“I thought that we might eat dinner together.” He paused. “And there are things that we must discuss.”

 

“Sounds good.” Jim gave his uniform a final tug and smiled. “No need to worry, Spock; I’m practically the dictionary definition of ‘adaptable’.”

 

Spock’s eyebrow quirked. “I am well aware,” he said, and Jim’s smile widened.

 

“You haven’t seen anything yet. I hope you have your calendar cleared tomorrow, because I’m not going to be inclined to let you out of bed all day.”

 

“You will be late, Cadet,” Spock said dryly, and Jim laughed.

 

“All right. I’ll meet you at Catspaw after my last class? I’ll be the dashing young Starfleet cadet. Tough to miss.” He leaned forward and pressed a quick, light kiss to Spock’s lips, letting the tips of their fingers graze as he did so. “I love you.”

 

Taluhk nash-veh k’dular, k’diwa,” Spock murmured in return, and moments later Jim was out the door.

 

He wondered, smiling, how Spock would react when he discovered that one of Jim’s Saturday classes was Vulcan Languages.