The first thing Jim noticed when his mind stumbled back into the world of consciousness was a funny taste in his mouth. It wasn't quite as bad as the taste of a morning hangover or after getting into a fight, but it was still pretty foul. He tried to remember why or how it could have gotten like this, but he honestly couldn't recall eating anything bad last night.
They had attended a celebration hosted by the Pylondians. Two weeks ago, the inhabitants of the planet Pylond had sent out a distress signal when their home suffered with planet-wide seismic and volcanic activity that greatly increased the sediment and temperature of their oceans. These changes caused harmful algae blooms that produced large amounts of neurotoxins, killing most of their marine life, the main food product of the planet. While the Pylond was not a member of the Federation, the Enterprise chose to request permission from Starfleet to help. They arrived 36 hours later and used ship phasers to destroy most of the algae. It took almost a week to finish, as they needed to be careful not to heat the ocean anymore than it already had been with the concentrated energy being shot at the water.
While they could do little concerning the current food supply, as the Enterprise was not equipped to feed a whole planet, they did provide medical support. The inhabitants were extremely grateful and requested they stay for a banquet. Jim would have refused, seeing as the Pylondians were in no shape to be holding a feast, but Starfleet insisted as the planet had great strategical value and they needed to create good relations with the Pylond Council.
Maybe he had eaten some rotten fish?
Yeah, Jim needed to brush his teeth now. He scrunched up his nose and sat up. He roughly rubbed his face before moving his hands up and through his hair, and…
Wow. His hair felt really soft. Not that it wasn't usually soft, but man, not this much. He threaded his fingers through his hair again. Maybe it was this planet's atmosphere. Or the fish. He heard fish was supposed to be good for your heart, but maybe it helped your hair too. And left a horrible taste in your mouth.
Brush his teeth. Right.
Jim stood up with a groan. Man, he felt stiff. He stumbled over to the overnight bag he had brought down to the planet and opened it to grab the standard Starfleet toiletries kit. His eyebrows furrowed as he found that the only item in the small duffle was the toiletry kit… which was empty. Huh. He certainly hadn't unpacked earlier. He stood before glancing around the room. Maybe the natives put everything away for him, like in fancy hotels. Which meant his clothing would be in the dresser and the toothbrush and toothpaste would already be in the bathroom.
He spotted and walked over to the open bathroom door. He flicked the light switch and was blinded by the bright light. He grimaced and tightly shut his eyes as he fumbled around the sink before reaching for the mirror and found that he could open it to reveal a cabinet behind. He squinted and allowed his eyes a moment to adjust before opening them wider.
All of the toiletries were there. He grabbed the toothbrush and toothpaste, which felt strangely light. Damn. Starfleet was cutting costs by making these supplies out of cheaper material. He opened the toothpaste and positioned the toothbrush but before he could even squeeze the tube, he heard a snap. He looked down in astonishment to see that the toothbrush had just snapped in half in his hand.
Where the hell did Starfleet get toothbrushes this cheap?
Jim shook his head in disbelief as he applied the toothpaste. While he brushed cautiously with a shortened toothbrush handle, he made a mental note to send a complaint to Pike. Once he made sure the only flavor in his mouth was toothpaste, which had tasted a little weird and he began to wonder if Starfleet bought expired toothpaste for a discount price, he recapped the tube and put it and both halves of the broken toothbrush on the side of the sink to repack later when he probably needed to return to the ship soon.
Jim closed the mirror and was scared to death when he saw Spock standing behind him. Jim jumped and yelled in surprise. He gripped one hand on his chest over his stammering heart and the other to the edge of the sink as he ducked his head to stare down. "Jesus, Spock! What the fuck?" he scolded as he looked behind him to give his First Officer a glare for sneaking up behind him like that.
But there was no one there.
He stilled before slowly turning back to the mirror.
There was a strong knock at the front door. Before Jim could even really think about it, he rushed out of the bathroom, knocking everything into the sink. He ran across the room and yanked the door open to find his own face blankly staring back at him.
Jim brought his hands up to feel the pointed tips of his ears. A strange wave of pleasure rolled through him.
"Stop smiling, Jim." Bones snapped.
"What? I thought you were always saying Spock should smile more," Jim said as he lowered his hands. He sat on the edge of the biobed, his legs swinging from a strangely large supply of pent up energy trying to burst out. He didn't know how Spock stood so still all the time. Jim felt a bit like a kid, which was weird since he was pretty sure Spock was a little bit taller than him.
"Just– stop it. It's distracting and creepy."
"Aw. Hey, Spock!"
Spock looked over from his own biobed. He was in Jim's sexy body all right, wearing the sleep pants he had gone to bed in as well as a white shirt Spock must have put on. By the slight cant in his (Jim's?) eyebrow, Jim assumed he was trying to raise it. Unfortunately that just wasn't going to happen. Jim had tried that in the mirror many times after they met and his brows just wouldn't do it.
"Bones is full of shit; he likes you better when you're emotionless," he said with a grin.
"Shut up, Jim," Bones snapped.
Jim just continued grinning.
"Well, each of your bodies is healthy even if your minds are switched. Luckily it seems only your higher brain functions have been messed with. Each of your medulla oblongata seems to be left untouched."
"Our medusa oblong what-now?" Jim asked.
Bones rolled his eyes. "Your medulla oblongata. Your brain stem, or at least part of it. It controls your autonomic functions like respiration and heartbeat. Didn't you take anatomy at the academy?"
Jim smirked and wiggled his now-slant eyebrows. "Yeah, I guess you could say that."
Bones just glared and roughly stuck a hypo in Jim's neck.
Jim flinched on instinct, but the pain that usually followed didn't come. "Wow," he said amazed. "I barely felt that."
Bones grumbled under is breath as he made a notation in his PADD, obviously upset his favorite form of torturing Jim was now left ineffective thanks to thick Vulcan skin. "Well, without it, you'd be dead, or hooked up to machines that controlled all that for you for the rest of your lives."
"What? No! Your medulla oblongata."
Bones rolled his eyes to the ceiling. "I swear. Some times, Jim…" he muttered, but seemed to decide to keep his homicidal thoughts to himself. He put down his PADD on the bed next to his tricorder. "So, do either of you have any idea how this happened?" He asked, folding his arms in front of his chest.
Jim looked over to Spock because he had absolutely no freaking clue.
"I have contemplated, and I believe I found the cause," he said as he stood and walked over to them.
"Care to share?" Bones asked in a tone that demanded he'd better start talking or he'd castrate him.
Oh no. He was in Jim's body!
"Yeah. Share," Jim urged.
Spock looked to Jim. "Do you remember the discussion we had in the side chamber last night towards the end of the Pylondian celebration?"
Jim had to think a moment before his eyes narrowed. "Yeah, discussion. You were yelling at me because I was talking to the ambassador's wife."
"I do not yell. I was merely cautioning you–"
"To keep my dick in my pants, as if I needed to be told," Jim snapped.
"What does this have to do with anything?" Bones asked with a scowl.
Spock glanced to Bones. "Jim's voice became raised–"
"You were shouting too," Jim argued.
"Our voices became raised," Spock corrected placatingly. "The Pylondians approached us with concerns, to which we assured them that they were no way in fault and had been more than accommodating."
"Yeah," Jim said, realization suddenly hitting him. "They insisted we settle our differences and share that happy juice."
"I believe it is more correctly translated to mean 'Friendly Nectar', although it is an impossibility that a fruit or its juice can be friendly–"
"Skip to the actual drink, Spock," Bones said exasperated.
Spock twitched Jim's eyebrow. "I found it very distasteful but did not voice as much."
Jim grunted. "No wonder I had a horrible taste in my mouth this morning. I had thought it tasted pretty good." He looked up at the smooth ceiling thoughtfully. "What was it they said when they handed it to us? It sounded recited." Having been through way too many alien rituals, Jim could tell when a speech had been passed down through the generations or was just spoken because the person liked to hear their own voice.
"I believe it was, 'May your differences be resolved walking one week with the other's feet'," Spock replied.
The three men glanced among themselves for a long moment.
Bones rolled his eyes and shook his head as he headed towards his office. "You guys are complete idiots," he muttered under his breath. "I'm in a tin can in the vacuum of space and there are two morons calling the shots."
"Tin happens to be a pretty resilient metal, Bones!" Jim called after him.
"That may be, but it would not be an effective base metal for a starship," Spock commented.
Jim snorted as he brought Spock's hand up to examine it. He had looked at Spock's hands before, but never had the opportunity to look so closely. It was lithe and free of calluses, of which Jim's hand had many, with only the faintest tint of green if you stared at it. He glanced at his own hand that Spock had hanging next to his hip. He suddenly got an idea. He grabbed Spock's (Jim's?) arm, which he found surprisingly cool, and concentrated. Nothing happened, and he frowned. "Why don't I have telepathy now?"
Spock snatched his arm back. "You may occupy my body, but your mind is still your own, and therefore it is still psi-null," he said as he began standing in his default stance, back straight and hands clasped at his lower back.
"Don't stand like that. You're making my back hurt just looking at me."
"There is a high probability that it is your slouching that is making your back hurt. I request you do not bend it in such a fashion."
"I'll straighten if you get that rod out of my ass and relax instead of standing there stiff at parade rest."
Spock looked like he was about to lecture Jim either on the detrimental effects of bad posture or the nonexistence of anything in his ass, but he thankfully seemed to think better of it. Spock looked down, and seemed to take a great amount of conscious effort to unclasp his hands to hang at his sides and drop his shoulders.
In the spirit of diplomacy, Jim put his shoulders back and straightened up.
They both lasted about one silent minute before both slowly reverting back to their initial postures.
Jim looked over to himself. Or rather Spock. Man, this was totally going to get confusing. "Yes, Spock?"
"May I make a proposal?"
Jim glanced down. "Going to get married in my body, Spock?" he asked, deadpan. "Getting me hitched to keep me from flirting with everything? Trust me, it won't work."
Spock gave him a flat look that told him he was not amused.
Jim grinned. "Yeah, go ahead."
"I propose that we both agree to treat each other's bodies with utmost respect."
Jim felt a frown pull at his lips as anger flared in him. "What do you think I'm going to do with it?"
"Nothing with ill intentions," Spock assured him, and his truthful tone placated most of Jim's anger. "Because as a Vulcan I am far more aware of my body, or at least the body I occupy, I will always remember this is not my body and will be able to prevent myself from any action I do not believe you would approve. However, human brains often adapt and therefore, after some time, you may temporarily forget you are not in your body and do something that may seem acceptable to you, but would not for me. I merely ask that you attempt to constantly keep in mind that your body is not your own."
Jim nodded. "Okay. Other than the obvious, what don't you want me doing in it?"
"First, I would appreciate if you at the very least attempted to correct your posture."
He smirked. "Alright. But I don't know if I'll be able to keep it up long."
"I am sure if you practice, you can grow accustomed," Spock replied dryly. "I would also prefer if you restrained yourself from your usual tactile nature of interaction. You have a tendency to touch others when you speak, and I would rather my body continue to touch as few people as possible, whether I am in it or not." Spock glanced down at the body he was occupying. "Are there any conditions you wish to implement?"
Jim shrugged. "Not really," he said before smirking. "Actually, since I'm only going to be allowed to eat vegetarian food while I'm in here, you have to agree to eat some meat. My body runs on the blood of dead animals, and you better give it its quota or I swear I will run through the halls of this ship naked as the day you were born."
"Wow. You know, I would not have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself."
Both Jim and Spock looked over to the door to see Uhura standing there in black sweats and a white sleeveless tee, which was weird until Jim realized that while it was morning on the planet, on the ship it was well passed Alpha Shift's bedtime.
The thought suddenly came to Jim's mind that if Spock and Uhura had still been together he could have totally pretended to be Spock tried to tap that. Not that he would ever actually do that in a million years; he wasn't a total asshole no matter how many dirty looks got shot his way or what people thought of him, but it would have been an interesting prospect regardless.
Jim smirked. "I know that Spock's an enticing perfect package for you now, what with that emotionless personality you like so much with my great looks and sexy ass, but I would have to be there to monitor my body if you guys decide to hook up again. For Spock's sake, of course. I know you'd like to abuse me, and I wouldn't want you take it too far and hurt him."
If it had been a year ago, Uhura would have glared and shot venom into his face, but as it was now and most of their easy rapport consisted of him hitting on her, she smirked in return. "You know it doesn't count if you're not in the body, right?"
Jim shrugged. "It's close enough. It'll be my body that gives you an amazing night you'll never forget. If Spock uses it right, anyway."
"This conversation is distasteful and discomforting," Spock said suddenly voiced his displeasure. "I request it ceases."
She ducked her head and hid a smile. "Sorry, Spock."
"May I ask why you are here?" Spock asked politely.
"Grapevine's fast. Even when everyone is asleep," she said with a grin.
"Grapevine?" Spock asked.
"Gossip," Jim said. "Rumors. Hearsay."
"So how long is this supposed to last?" she asked.
"Spock said they said a week, right? So we'll just switch back in seven days?"
"Captain," Spock spoke. "A week on the Pylond planet is eight days."
"Okay, so eight days. Then we switch back."
"Captain," Spock spoke again. "A day on the Pylond planet is eighty-five hours."
Jim winced. Shit, he forgot about that. "How long does that make a week? Like, four weeks?"
"Eight Pylond days is the equivalent of 28.33 Standard days," Spock confirmed.
Jim cursed and rubbed his forehead, Spock's black hair brushing against his hand. "Well, this is going to be an interesting conversation with Pike."
The first thing Jim did was have Uhura contact the council of Pylond, who explained body-switching was standard practice for delegates on their planet who can't agree to disagree. They also confirmed that it would last for 'one week' and then they would be back to normal. Spock requested a sample of the drink, but the council members refused. So any hope of it being reversed sooner was out, especially since Bones couldn't detect any foreign bodies in their systems to be counteracted.
The communication with Pike at Starfleet Command was as awkward as Jim thought it would be. Especially since he kept looking at the body the speaker usually owned because he apparently couldn't safety wrap his head around both listening to and watching 'Spock' call the Pylond council douchebags. Starfleet decided that they should continue their duties as if the switch had not occurred, although their assigned missions would not include anything directly involving diplomacy, which honestly was perfectly fine with Jim. He should switch bodies with people more often.
"You look better in blue," Jim decided as he smoothed down the gold uniform shirt with Captain stripes that his yeomen had replicated for him in Spock's size. "Me in blue, however," he said as he looked over to his body already in Spock's Science blue. "I've got eyes for blue."
"As I did not choose my career based on the color of the uniform, it is irrelevant," Spock concluded.
Jim smirked. "Just a lucky coincidence?"
"Indeed," he replied, although it was more to appease than to agree.
It was a weird first day. Jim had explained the situation in a ship-wide announcement, even though he was pretty sure everyone already knew, but everyone kept blatantly staring at them. It was an awkward shift on the bridge. Not only was everyone confusing themselves when they kept asking questions to the wrong person, but Jim was still getting used to his new body.
No, he did not molest Spock's body. Oh yes, he really, really wanted to with every fiber of Spock's being, but he had enough respect for his First Officer and sort-of friend to keep his hands off. It didn't stop him from admiring it though, briefs on. Jim had the suspicion Spock was sexy under that uniform and he was not disappointed. Lean muscles and black body hair and the green hue of his skin becoming darker in some areas than others. Jesus, did he want to touch. But he didn't, and honestly he was pretty damn proud of himself for having the self-control.
He didn't know how Spock could possibly survive on this ship. It was so freaking cold all the time. After the first day of fighting off shivers the entire time he spent in his Captain's chair, he started putting three black undershirts and thick leggings on before he even touched his uniform. Spock, who had looked to be sweating at the science station the first day, began wearing fewer layers and seemed to enjoy the ship temperature now. And while Spock adjusted the climate of his room to match that of the ship, Jim's room was now set to Vulcan standards, which meant Bones wouldn't go anywhere near it for their weekly drinking nights, so Jim had to trudge all the way down to sickbay, which he usually liked to avoid.
Oh. And alcohol? Absolutely no effect on Vulcans. He tried to grill Spock for a few days on what would get him drunk, but the stubborn Vulcan… eh, human… no, Vulcan refused to tell.
Spock's diet didn't give Jim too much trouble, and he was rather delighted to find that veggies actually tasted really good as a Vulcan. He ended up retrying all of the Vulcan food he had tasted before but thought was too bland. He was amazed to find that Spock hadn't just been bullshitting when he said the tastes were merely subtler. Although he found he still hated plomeek soup. Spock seemed to be finally appreciating the taste of bacon cheeseburgers since Jim swore this was the third day in a row Spock ordered it.
Spock's heightened sense of hearing was awesome and also not-so-awesome. It was cool to be able to hear other people far away really well, not that he was an eavesdropper but still. Of course most of the whispers that were going around were about how disturbing Spock looked with a smile and Jim looked without.
The most trouble Jim had was adjusting to Spock's strength. He'd broken almost every stylus he picked up, cracked his personal PADD screen and he was sure he gave Bones a hand-shaped bruise when he forgot and slapped him on the shoulder earlier. He ended up imagining everything was made of tissue paper and that if he pushed too hard, he'd poke a hole through. So far, this method has worked pretty well, and he doesn't think he has done too much damage.
Spock on the other hand always looked like he was imagining everything was made of concrete. He was always pushing far harder than was needed. Jim didn't mention anything for a while, but he was soon getting the impression his fingers were going to be aching when he got his body back. His patience ran out with two weeks behind and before them during a game of chess (an occurrence that seemed to be happening more frequently to Jim's quiet delight) when it looked like Spock was trying to throttle his king when he picked it up.
"Spock. Seriously. I want my fingers intact when I get them back."
"I do not know to what you are referring, Captain," he replied finally putting the poor piece down. "Check."
"You're overcompensating for my strength." Jim countered the check. "Humans aren't as strong as you, but it doesn't mean you need to grip everything so tightly."
Spock hesitated as his hands hovered over a pawn. "I will admit I am having some difficulty adjusting to your physiology. I find your lack of strength unnerving," he said as he picked the piece up.
Jim sighed. "Well, your first indication that you're gripping too hard is when my knuckles are going white," he said as he shot his hand out to grab Spock's.
Spock stiffened and immediately let the pawn go to clatter to the board.
Jim didn't know why Spock is so rigid since he's pretty much just touching his own body. Then again, Jim was touching his own body with Spock's body. Whatever. Jim suddenly frowned and grabbed Spock's arm, rubbing his thumb on the cool skin. Spock tried to pull his arm away but Jim merely tightened his grip. The fact that he was stronger than Spock now was extremely satisfying.
"You've only been using the sonic shower, haven't you?" Jim asked.
His eyebrow canted. "Of course. Have not you?"
"Me? Yeah, because your thick skin doesn't dehydrate in the sonic shower, but you can't use that all the time on my body, Spock. My skin and hair gets all dry. You have to use a water shower every so often."
Spock blushed, which was something Jim always wanted to see happen, but it kind of lost its effect when it was really just his own face flushing. "Are you truly aware of what you are suggesting?" he nearly squeaked.
Jim paused and thought about it. Ah. In a sonic shower, you just stand there and let the pulse vibrations remove all the grime. In a water shower… Well, Jim had no problems with Spock touching his body. He wasn't very shy about it or having people touch it. He knew it looked good, so he had nothing to be embarrassed about. Not only that, but Spock touching his body was kind of a fantasy of his. Of course the fantasy was kind of ruined considering he wasn't going to be in his body to feel it.
Jim finally shrugged.
Spock shot him a glare. "You are far too flippant with your body."
"So you have told me many times," Jim said, rolling his eyes. It was something Spock liked to point out anytime he hit on someone. "It's not like it's the body of some untouched virgin. I know you're not going to abuse it."
"I would prefer not–"
"Spock," Jim said flatly. "I thought we agreed that we were going to respect each other's bodies and return them in the same condition he got them. I know you just proposed that because you thought I would masturbate or have sex in yours."
Spock blushed. "I–" he started but Jim interrupted.
"But you have to keep up your end of the bargain, and you're not."
Spock looked down at his arm, seeming to consider it.
"If you're that uncomfortable, I can get into the shower with you and we can clean each other," he suggested with a sultry smile.
Spock glared, and Jim allowed him to yank his hand back. "That will not be necessary." Jim didn't think it would work, but it was worth a try.
"Have you ever taken a water shower before?"
"Of course," Spock said, slightly defensive.
"Why don't you take one now?" Jim suggested. "You can get it out of the way so you can take sonic showers the next two nights."
Spock hesitated before finally agreeing.
Jim led him into the bathroom. "You said you'd taken one before, but I figure there's no hurt in explaining, right?"
"Very well," Spock said stiffly. Jim was surprised he didn't argue.
"Okay. This is the shampoo and this is the conditioner. Not too hard, since the shampoo cap is at the top and the conditioner cap is at the bottom."
"It says it on the bottle," Spock pointed out flatly.
"Uh, yeah. That too," Jim said with a grin, glancing over to his body that Spock stood horribly stiff in. "Shampoo my hair and scrub my scalp with your finger tips, but not your nails. Rinse and then condition it, letting the conditioner stay in for a couple minutes before you rinse again."
"I am aware of the steps required to shower," Spock interjected, annoyance lacing his tone.
"You agreed it didn't hurt to review, remember?" Jim said with an amused grin. "As for my skin, you take this," he picked up a bottle of shower gel, "and put a dime of soap into this," he said and picked up the blue sponge from the side tray on the shower wall to show to Spock.
Spock grimaced slightly in disgust as he cautiously picked up the sponge by the very tip of a corner with his thumb and index finger. "This looks extremely unsanitary."
Jim gave him a flat look. "Use it."
Spock dropped the sponge back into Jim's hand. "I will not," he said stubbornly.
Jim frowned. "Spock, it absorbs the soap well and is coarse enough that you don't need to scrub really hard to keep my skin soft. Trust me, I've been washing my body for most of my life. I know how to keep it clean."
"This… sponge is most likely covered in mold," Spock pointed out.
Jim was beginning to loose his patience. "Then soap it up and rinse it with hot water before using it."
"There are many types of mold that are resilient to heat."
Jim gave Spock a pointed look. Okay, now Spock was just being an obstinate jackass. He sighed heavily. "Okay, okay." Jim put a hand up in false surrender and slowly retracted the hand with the sponge. "Fine. If instead of scrubbing my body with the sponge you would prefer to caress my wet skin with your soapy hands, you're more than welcome. I don't mind."
Jim was sure he'd never seen his own face so red as Spock suddenly snatched the sponge back. Jim just grinned at the glare he received after Spock realized the trick just pulled, but instead of saying anything he briskly herded Jim out of the bathroom and shut the door with a click of the lock.
"And you'd better stay in that shower at least fifteen minutes!" Jim shouted through the door. "No just jumping in and out."
Spock's only response was turning the shower on.
Jim hadn't noticed the shower had been running for almost forty minutes until he finished his forth report and checked the time. He had been afraid that Spock would only be in there for a minute, but figured he'd stay in for exactly Jim's minimum requirement of fifteen.
Shit, did he fall and crack his skull open? Jim sat up. Spock said he had taken water showers before who knows how long ago that was and maybe he underestimated the slipperiness of wet tile.
Jim sat back in his chair. No. That seemed unlikely. Just because Spock was in Jim's body didn't mean he lost all his genius powers. He could probably recite the amount of friction of his feet on the floor and the probability that he would slip. Then the force required for his skull to be fractured if his head hit the tile.
Jim fiddled with his stylus as he tried to get back to his report, but was distracted by his worry. He sighed and put the stylus down as he got up. There wasn't any harm in checking just to make sure. For his body's sake, of course. Just worried about his body.
Jim opened the door to the bathroom. He couldn't hear anything other than the constant sound of the water. He walked towards the tinted glass of the shower door. Shit, he couldn't see anything. Reaching forward, Jim quickly slid open the door.
Spock jumped in shock and his heels slipped on the tile. Jim shot out a hand and gripped his bare arm to keep him from falling. As soon as Spock caught his balance again he quickly grabbed a towel, covering his groin.
Jim snorted. "Not anything I haven't seen before."
Spock shot him a glare. "Is there a reason you have come in here?" he asked as he turned the water off.
"You've been in here for over forty-five minutes. I thought you slipped and fell," Jim said glancing down at his wet body. Yeah, he'd do himself. "Isn't embarrassment of nakedness illogical or something? Especially since I already know what it looks like?"
"I see nothing illogical about wanting privacy," Spock said, adjusting the towel.
Jim put his hands up in defeat and backed out of the room again.
It was only five more minutes until Spock emerged from the bathroom in the regulation black Starfleet pajamas, something Jim never wore. His hair was messy, but Jim decided not to comment. Spock had managed to style Jim hair well after sonic showers; he could do it again.
"So what were you doing in there?" he asked suddenly feeling curious as he sat at his desk.
Spock sat across from him, looking as calm and composed as ever. "As you had expressed displeasure in your body's upkeep, I decided it would be best to shower extensively in attempts to reverse any damage that was done."
"Oh," Jim said. "I mean, it wasn't damaged. Just dry."
Spock nodded. "Nonetheless, I determined that future washings could be shorter if I was thorough this first time." He hesitated before continuing. "I also found myself examining it," he admitted.
Jim stared at him, surprised he would admit something like that. He was going to make some facetious comment about Spock masturbating, but he was too curious for the actual truth. He knew if Spock said 'examine' he meant he actually studied his body like a particularly interesting piece of alien technology. Or maybe a plant. "What? Really? Why?"
A small frown pulled at the corners of Spock's mouth. "I noticed some scar tissue, which lead me to become aware of more."
Jim shrugged. "Yeah, I got a few scars. You've seen how much shit I manage to get myself into."
"Indeed, but there are more than a 'few'," Spock said, placing his hands in his lap. "Some are quite old. Given your age, medial technology had already progressed to effectively prevent scarring by the time you were born."
Jim sighed and intertwined his fingers behind his head. "Let's just say my childhood wasn't exactly the best." He rarely talked about it. Not that he was ashamed; he had been a smart enough kid to learn that all that shit wasn't actually his fault. People just tended to have more pity in their eyes when they found out. Which was impressive considering most already had a lot because of his father.
Spock said nothing. It was obvious he was curious, but he was a man who valued privacy, and he wasn't going to pry.
Jim frowned. Spock was a guy he could trust. He never had pity in his eyes. "I had a stepfather who liked to hit me and my brother when I was younger. Abusive parents don't take their kids to a doctor or the hospital unless they're really hurt; it looks suspicious. So the more superficial injuries get healed the old fashioned way."
Spock tilted his head. "Why would a parent treat child so cruelly?" he asked, confusion plain on his face.
"I don't know. Maybe he was compensating for a tiny dick," Jim muttered bitterly. "I usually didn't try to justify what he was doing."
"What of your mother?" he asked quietly.
Jim winced. "She was still in Starfleet so she was off-world a lot. We told her about Frank, and I think a part of her believed us, but she was in denial because she didn't want to… deal with it, I guess."
Spock was still and quiet.
Jim looked over to his own face. His stomach lurched. It was weird to see it so solemn and contemplative. He never liked to look in the mirror when he was depressed. It was so… well, depressing.
"I do not believe I could imagine my childhood without the support of my mother," Spock finally spoke softly.
Jim gave a small smile. "She had to be one stubborn woman. No offense but I can't stand being down on the colony for more than a week before I want to scream."
"I would not hold it against the inhabitants to feel the same way after a week with you," Spock said.
It took him a moment to actually process what Spock had said. Jim stared at him a long moment before a large grin spread on his face. "Did you just tell a joke?"
"Of course not," he said, his nose pointed upwards slightly in feigned snobbery. "Vulcans do not joke."
"Oh yeah?" Jim asked, motioning towards him. "What about humans?"
Spock regarded him stoically, but humor twinkled in his blue eyes. He gave a mock of Jim's gesture back at him. "A Vulcan would not ask such illogical questions."
The mess hall emptied out slowly until Jim was the only one left, his dinner long since dumped in the trash receptacle. The lights dimmed, indicating it was well into ship night. Damn, how long has he been sitting here?
He didn't know why he found it depressing that today was the last day they would be switched. He should be happy to go back to his own body. Don't get him wrong; he was. Spock's body had its perks (many of them), but he still liked his own. He really was glad things were going to go back to normal. And yet, he knew he was going to miss this. Lately, Spock had been willingly spending a lot of time with Jim, who usually had to really push to receive any of his First Officer's off-duty time. Sure, at first Spock had probably only done it to keep an eye on his body, but Jim was sure he started to enjoy himself.
Would that change? When Spock no longer needed to watch out for his body's wellbeing, would he go back to being that stubborn Vulcan who seemed to sigh in defeat every time he agreed to hang out with Jim?
Jim was lost in his own world until he suddenly had a chocolate bar placed in front of his face. He jerked back before looked up questioningly to see Spock, stoic and standing beside him. Jim raised an eyebrow and took the candy. "What's this for?"
Spock sat down across from him, placing a glass and a mostly empty bottle of bourbon Jim recognized from his stash on the table. "You had previously inquired as to what substance caused inebriation in Vulcans."
Jim couldn't keep the laugh in. The sound was strange to his ears; he never thought he'd hear Spock's laugh. "Chocolate? Seriously?"
Spock tilted in the affirmative.
Jim snorted, glancing down to the bourbon. "I guess you decided to join me? You sure you want to jump straight into the hard stuff?"
"As I am in your body, which is quite tolerant to alcohol, I see no foreseeable problems."
"Well then!" Jim said with a grin as he opened the bottle and poured Spock a generous amount of bourbon into his glass. "I don't suppose you have much tolerance for this though, huh?" Jim asked as he unwrapped an end of the bar of chocolate.
"Indeed. I have never eaten chocolate," Spock revealed as he eyed his glass. He swirled the bourbon and sniffed, grimacing slightly at the smell. "Is there a human ritual to imbibing alcohol?"
"Uh, first, we toast." Jim held up the chocolate and Spock followed suit with his glass. "To… What should we toast to?"
"Is there a standard topic in which to toast?"
Jim shrugged a shoulder. "Family and friends, health and good fortune are the most common, I guess. You usually try to make it personal or relevant to the occasion, though."
Spock hesitated. While Jim knew he would never admit it, he noticed Spock was often nervous to attempt human customs. Participating in weird alien rituals for the sake of diplomacy was no problem. Do a complicated trust dance with the ambassador's wife? Doesn't practice once but does it perfectly. Jump up and down on one foot, patting his head and rubbing his tummy to promote health to the King's children? Without hesitation. Make an informal toast while drinking with a friend? Only after contemplating for ten minutes; then there was still only a fifty-fifty chance he'd do it.
"To the Enterprise," Jim declared with a grin. "The most beautiful girl in the universe."
"To the safety of the Enterprise," Spock agreed as the candy bar's foil wrapper crinkled against the glass. Spock took a tentative sip and Jim bit off a large piece of the milk chocolate.
Jim's eyebrows shot up. While the underlying taste was undeniably chocolate, there was a strange tingling on his tongue and palate as if the candy had been filled with sour Pop Rocks. As he let the piece of chocolate melt in his mouth the tingling quickly spread up to around his eyes, then down either sides of his nose before it suddenly began on the pads of his fingers and toes.
As for Spock: he didn't exactly grimace, but his face muscles tightened considerably to prevent it. "I had postulated a theory that while alcohol was unpleasant to the Vulcan tongue, it would taste better for a human. I find it is incorrect."
Jim gave a sloppy grin. "There's alcohol that tastes good. You usually don't drink hard liquor straight for the taste unless you're used to it. It just makes you feel better quicker."
"The only thing I feel is a burning in my sinuses and the back of my throat." Spock wiggled his nose slightly. Jim could have called it cute, or even adorable, but he would never use either of those words to describe his own face. He was handsome. Suave. Manly. It was a manly nose wiggle.
"Give it a little time," Jim said, motioning towards the liquor still in the glass. "Alcohol for humans doesn't work nearly as fast as chocolate apparently does for Vulcans. Have another sip, a bigger one. You'll start to feel more relaxed soon."
Spock did as he was told, although he didn't look happy about it.
Jim examined his bar of chocolate before taking only a small nip since Spock's body was such a cheap date. He wasn't looking to get plastered tonight. The bit of chocolate melted and fused into his tongue. He propped his head up on his arm. He felt himself grin lazily, the tingling having already begun to travel up his limbs. "This feels really fucking amazing. It's a good think I'm not a Vulcan; I would be a complete chocoholic. I would never not be drunk."
"I am told it becomes more pleasurable with time."
"Good to hear," Jim said grinning. "Yanno, I originally thought this body switching stuff was a fucking horrible idea, but after a month, I'm surprised it actually worked really well."
Spock gave a nod. "It is a very interesting and unique method of resolving differences. Unexpectedly effective." He tilted his head to the side slightly and suddenly raised his glass. "To Friendly Nectar?" he suggested slightly uncertain.
Jim grinned like a fool at Spock's sudden voluntary toast. "To the friendliest nectar in the universe!" He took another large bite of chocolate, and then…
Jim's eyes half lidded and he couldn't help a groan from passing his lips.
Spock looked like he was hiding a smirk. "I assume the tingling sensation has reached your ears."
Jim moaned again, dropping his arm to the table and closing his eyes. He had a powerful urge to lie down across the bench. "It's like I have penises on the side of my head, and they're getting blown."
Spock paused before he said slowly but humored, "I do not believe I have ever heard it described as such."
"Please. Please tell me this lasts forever," Jim begged.
"No, it will not," he said, and if Jim didn't know any better he actually sounded apologetic. "It will fade in approximately 3.35 minutes."
Jim hummed disappointment at such a short amount of time. They both remained quiet to allow Jim to enjoy the tingling in the tips of his ears until it all began to fade just as quickly as it started. Soon the only evidence that any of it had ever existed was the dull pounding of a headache at the base of his skull. He winced and rubbed the back of his head.
"My estimation was correct," Spock said, and Jim couldn't help but hear some smugness.
Jim carefully opened his eyes and was glad to find that he wasn't photosensitive, although he could probably thank Spock's inner eyelid for blocking out the harsher light. "The hangover kicks in fast, but that was completely worth it."
"I have always found humans' judgment that minor pleasure outweighs major torment fascinating," Spock commented.
Jim smirked. "You find me fascinating?" he asked.
What Spock said didn't get passed Jim's headache for a long moment. He felt his face redden– uh, greenen before he tried to hide it with a smirk. He leaned in over the table. "You do, do you?"
Spock did not pull back. "Indeed," he confirmed with a sincere twitch of a smile that was somehow so undeniably Spock, it make Jim's heart jump.
Jim didn't know if it was because he was still feeling effects from the chocolate, but he did know he had been longing to do it for months. He leaned over and connected their lips.
The kiss wasn't exactly a slow, passionate joining that seemed to go on forever. Actually, it was short and chaste. A firm pressing of their lips that ended as soon as it started. It didn't speak of undying love or any such ultimatums. It was a confident action stating his strong, growing affection. Jim pulled back to give Spock space and allow him room to choose how to respond.
And it only took a second before the reply was given just as confidently, though slightly more lingering. Jim couldn't help but notice his lips weren't as chapped as they usually were.
As soon as Spock retreated back to his side of the table, Jim ducked his head and huffed a laugh. "Is it just me or is it a little creepy that we both pretty much just kissed ourselves?"
Cool fingers touched Jim's chin and tilted it back up towards Spock.
Jim looked at the face that had belonged to him for 26 years. It had a shadow of its usual smirk on its lips. It was so naturally familiar and yet seemed to grow more and more foreign to him with everyday that passed while it belonged to Spock.
"While I admit it was rather unorthodox," Spock said lowly, "it does not matter to me which body you possess, as my affection is not directed toward your body, but your mind."
"Wow," Jim said. "That sounded like the Vulcan equivalent of a declaration of love if I've ever heard one."
Spock tilted his head. "While love is an emotion, I believe that is essentially correct."
Jim couldn't help but notice that Spock didn't deny feeling it. He grinned broadly. "Yeah. I've got a confession to make."
Spock nodded to confirm he was listening.
"I'm only into you for your looks."
Spock's eyes widened in surprise before Jim's mischievous smirk seemed to give away that he was joking. Spock gave him a flat look. "Beware your narcissism, or you may find yourself dying of thirst by a pond."
Of course, when they found themselves comfortably in their own skin again the next morning, Jim had no problems kissing Spock again.