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This With Thee Remains

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“How long has this rice been in here? Actually, don’t tell me. I’ve decided I don’t want to know.” Bones grumbles as he drops various takeout containers in the recycler. “Do you have anything in here besides old takeout and beer? Good god, man!”

Jim groans and reaches over to shut the fridge before Bones can get any more crotchety. “Bones, you promised.”

“What exactly did I promise?” He asks, the annoyance in his voice obvious.

“We made a deal that if I stay a good patient and I quote, ‘don’t pull any asshole shit in the office’, you stay just Bones when we’re hanging out and don’t go all ‘Doctor McCoy’ on me.”

Bones frowns at him and argues, “Well what am I supposed to do when you seem to be adamant about not keeping yourself healthy?”

“A bit late for that.” Jim says snarkily. “And you know what I think the people in your office would love? That picture of you when you got pantsed at the pep assembly senior year.”

“I’m your doctor, Jim.” Bones says helplessly.

“You’re also my friend.” Jim pats him on the back and steers him toward the couch. “My best friend, actually. Have been for ten years.”

Bones opens his mouth to fire back but Jim shakes his head and smiles at him.

“Sorry, Bones, but I win. You promised.”

The doctor deflates and allows Jim to push him down on the couch. He grabs his previously abandoned beer from the coffee table and settles back to watch whatever crap is on TV. “Remind me to bring my own drinks next time. This beer sucks ass.”

Jim gasps in mock horror and takes a sip of his own beer. “How dare you speak ill of this splendid beverage? It’s practically the nectar of the gods!”

He struggles not to wince when he takes an exaggerated gulp. It’s shit, he knows it is. He can afford much better but there’s something familiar and comfortable about shitty beer that keeps him buying it.

About half an hour into an action movie with too many explosions and not enough plot, Bones puts his empty bottle down and sighs significantly at Jim. “You’re going out of town soon.”

“What? How do you even know about that?” Jim asks, shocked at this bit of information from Bones. He’d hoped to keep it from him and his worrywart ways.

“Please. You’re being brought in as one of the most anticipated speakers at one of the biggest lit conferences in the Federation and you expect me not to know?” Bones asks incredulously.

“So what you’re saying is Janice told you.”

“When are you leaving for Chicago?”

“Tuesday.” Jim admits, not looking at Bones. He knows he should have told him as soon as he found out and not only five days before his departure.

“Tuesday.” Bones exclaims and rises from the couch. He stalks over to the fridge and wrenches it open forcefully, grabbing another beer. “Dammit, Jim! I know I promised not to nanny goat you, but you’re sick, dammit!” He punctuates his exclamation by slamming the fridge door shut.

Jim’s stomach sinks and he stares at Bones over the back of the couch, feeling almost glued into his seat. “Bones, I was going to tell you. I just knew you’d react like this. I didn’t want it to be a big deal.”

Bones sighs and scrubs a hand over his face, leaning against the fridge in defeat. “I’ve got an old friend from school out there, Jacob Reynolds. He teaches at University of Chicago and he’s one of the best out there.”

“Besides yourself, of course.”

“Damn straight. Now, if you have any problems, any problems at all, you go to him.” Bones points at him sternly. “I know your fool ass likes to play it fast and loose but just know that I will kill you if you do anything stupid.”

“Highway to Hell, Bones.” Jim winks and holds his beer up in the air, toasting some uknown entity. “Highway to Hell.”

Bones does not laugh.

-

Spock is grading his students’ midterm papers at a small café when a man distracts him by walking up to his table and stopping. He looks up to find that this man is someone Spock definitely recognizes.

“Mind if I sit here?” James Kirk asks despite the fact that there are many other empty tables in the sparsely inhabited coffee shop.

He is already sinking into the chair before Spock can say, “You may.” But he says it nevertheless.

“Thanks.” Kirk says with a lopsided grin. He takes a sip of his coffee and does not take his eyes off Spock, who raises an eyebrow. “You know, I don’t usually see many people our age hanging around these conferences.”

“I am not ‘hanging around’. I am attending the conference to present a paper.”
“Fine, I don’t usually see many Vulcans attending these conferences.” Kirk grins even wider and puts his cup down with a teasing tone to his voice. “So you’re presenting a paper? What about?”

“The evolution of humor in post-warp Terran literature .”

Kirk giggles at that and Spock merely raises an eyebrow. Kirk notes this and puts his hands up as though surrendering. “I’m sorry, it’s just that you don’t really expect a Vulcan to write about humor, you know?”

Spock nods solemnly and moves to pick up his padd and stylus once more. “I see.” He goes to continue grading but is prevented by James Kirk grabbing his wrists and guiding them back down to the table.

“Hey, I’m sorry. That was rude.” His alarmingly blue eyes are most earnest while he speaks. “I’m always going around putting my foot in my mouth. Can I try to start this over?”

Spock holds his gaze for a moment before nodding in acquiescence. This brings back Kirk’s grin quite effectively.

“Alrighty then, uh…hi, I’m Jim Kirk.” He does not offer his hand as many humans are wont to do, a fact for which Spock is extremely grateful.

“I am Spock. And I assure you, Mister Kirk, I was already aware of your identity.”

A light pink flush appears on Kirk’s cheekbones and he takes another sip of his coffee. “I assume you attended my presentation?”

Spock nods and briefly ponders upon the possible cause for Kirk’s apparent embarrassment. As far as he is concerned, there is no need for him to feel such a way. “I did. I found it quite engaging.”

“After I had to reschedule it.” Kirk mumbles and Spock thinks back to the events of two days previous, when the audience had been abruptly informed that the presentation would take place the following day—a mere twenty minutes before it was scheduled to begin.

“Which, sorry if it messed up your plans. I had some…things to deal with.” Jim apologizes genuinely.

“It did not affect me negatively.” Spock assures him. “It was an easy adjustment to make. And quite worth it, Mister Kirk.”

“You can call me Jim.” He says eagerly and leans forward on his elbows. “And really? You liked it?”

Spock nods and shuts off his padd finally. “The excerpts from your next novel show a considerable amount of promise.”

Jim looks down at his hands and back up through his lashes. “Wow, thank you.”
Spock tilts his head to the side questioningly. “You seem surprised to hear this when you are a widely acclaimed author with a remarkable talent.”

“It’s different hearing it from someone who’s obviously so well educated and intelligent.” Jim leans forward on his elbows and Spock finds him once again trapped in that intense gaze. “So you’re…familiar with my work?”

Spock nods and answers, “Quite. I am a professor of literature at Georgetown. Your first novel is part of my curriculum.”

A flush of excitement passes over Jim’s face and he bounces slightly in his seat. “Wait, no shit?” He asks quite earnestly and Spock nods, becoming quickly confused at Jim’s mercurial attitude. “I live in DC, too! Got a little place in Mount Pleasant.”

“I was unaware of your place of residence.” Spock says solemnly. “Had I known, I might have asked you to come in and talk to my class.”

“That sounds like a great idea! I’d love to!” Jim exclaims. He checks his watch quickly and frowns, pushing his pink lips out into a pout. “You know, I would love to sit here and talk to you all day if I could, but I actually have a meeting with someone. Do you have anything you want me to sign while I’m here, since you’re a fan?”

Spock is sure that his question is mostly joking, but he pulls his copy of Desert Lemons out of his leather messenger bag nonetheless. “If you would not mind.”

Jim’s face lights up and he grabs the copy almost greedily. “Oh, I’m so glad you have an actual copy! This paper substitute stuff is awesome and not enough people appreciate it. Do you have a pen?”

Spock hands him a black pen and Jim takes it, quickly scribbling on the title page of the novel. He hands it back with a grin and a wink before standing up from the table and departing without a word.

Spock opens the cover and reads the inscription. “Thanks for letting me sit with you! xxJim Kirk. PS, call any time!” and below it, seven digits which Spock doubts could be mistaken for anything but his communicator frequency.

Spock takes a deep breath, sips his coffee, and smiles slightly. He will have to be sure to thank Nyota for suggesting that he attend the conference.

-

“Your white blood cell count is way down.” Jacob Reynolds remarks, not looking up
from the readings on his tricorder, which has a vial of Jim’s blood inserted into it.

Jim laughs slightly and nods his head. “You say that like you’ve never dealt with Tarsus-Forge disease before.”

Reynolds flinches at the name, the way so many people do. When Jim was first diagnosed he felt the same way, but now he cannot bring himself to feel that fear and loathing of that place. He could not go on running from what was coursing through his veins. “Hardly anyone has dealt with Xenoerythematosus, Mr. Kirk. It’s a fairly new problem in the medical field.”

Jim nods understandingly and marvels at how defensive some doctors get when you question their credentials even in a joke. He had the same problem with Bones when he first graduated from med school, but he got over it when he remembered how Jim teased even his literary idols, though he never understood that particular habit of his best friend’s.

“Yeah, sorry about that.” Jim apologizes halfheartedly. “Can I go now?”
Reynolds eyes Jim with a look of mild shock. “Wow, Leonard wasn’t lying.”

“What does that mean?”

“You really don’t care about your health.” Reynolds remarks far too casually.

Jim bristles and crosses his arms. From Bones, he would know that the other man was joking but from this stranger it rubs him in all the wrong ways. Jim can’t help but feel defensive and insulted at the assumption. “I care plenty, thanks.”

“Well then will you slow down and allow me to finish the exam thoroughly? Your assistant Janice haddid have to run you in here the other day because you collapsed, remember?”

Jim remembers. He had to push back his big presentation a whole day because of it. The convention executives were less than pleased at his lack of explanation on the matter but adjusted nonetheless, as Jim was a highly sought- after guest. He hated to readjust his life because of the disease, but at times like that, when he had been in such intense pain that he had passed out, it was unavoidable.

“I know my limits, all right?” Jim insists, temper rising. “So can I go or not? Cuz there’s a presentation I’d really like to make it to.”

Reynolds looks over his readings once more, hands Jim a bottle of pills, and nods. “Yeah, you can go. Just take two of these daily. It should help with those pains you’re having. I already ran the ‘scrip past Leonard.”

Yet another bottle of pills to cover up symptoms. Jim mentally adds it to the impressive list of pills he has had to take every day for the last few years of his life.

At this point, he’s pretty sure he ingests more pills thant food.

Jim takes the bottle from Reynolds and pockets it. He hops off of the bed and throws his blazer on over his shirt, sleeves still rolled up still rolled up sleeves. “Thanks, Doc!” He says cheerfully with a mock salute before dashing out of the door, lest he be burdened with even more drugs or tests.

Janice is waiting outside with a car and Jim marvels at how she could have possibly appeared so quickly between the time he texted her that he was done with his examination and the time he reaches the lobby of the university hospital.

“I don’t know how much of the presentation you’ll be able to catch.” Janice says while she ushers Jim into the car. Jim scoots across the bench seat and buckles in as the car starts moving. Janice is on her padd tapping away and probably scheduling yet another of a million things for him to do.

When he started writing, he never thought that it would lead to all of this. He wrote because he loved it, not because he wanted to be paraded around at signings and conventions and the like. He loves what he does now, but it is nothing like what he imagined it would be.

They arrive at the conference center and Jim practically launches out of the car and runs to the room that the convention guide indicated. He can hear the click of Janice’s heels behind him, going at a clipped pace just like always. Unlike Bones and his mother, she does not yell for him to slow down or wait, simply follows with the knowledge that eventually he has to stop.

Jim curses Doctor Reynolds aloud when he reaches the room and sees that Spock’s presentation is over and that people are milling about shaking hands and doing whatever it is that they do at these things. Jim elbows his way up to the front to stand in front of Spock. He smiles and hopes that the flush of sweat he feels is not too noticeable. “Hi.”

“James. You attended my presentation?” Spock raises an eyebrow in what Jim assumes is surprise. Spock may be more expressive than any Vulcan he has met thus far in his life, but Jim still has trouble reading him. “I will admit I am flattered.”

Jim frowns and stares at his feet before looking back up at Spock with apologetic eyes. “I actually just barely missed it because of a prior engagement but I really wanted to make it. I practically ran across town.”

“Then I am flattered by your efforts.” Spock concedes and Jim could swear that there is half of a smile present there.

Jim grins and claps Spock on the shoulder cheerfully. “As you should be. I’m in high demand, you know.”

Spock’s eyes flick briefly to Jim’s hand and he wonders if he has made some great faux pas in the contact but Spock says nothing of it, so Jim allows himself to relax.

When Spock looks back at him, it is with a completely unreadable expression. “So it would seem.”

Jim shifts his weight from side to side and removes his hand from Spock’s shoulder. He ran all the way here and pushed his way up to the front but now that he’s here, he finds himself at a loss for words. It is a completely new experience for Jim, whose very profession depends on having words.

“If you do not mind my asking, was your delay today related to the one which caused you to reschedule your presentation?” Spock asks and takes Jim completely by surprise.

“What?” He blurts out, a bit more harshly than initially intended. “Why would you think that?”

Spock raises both eyebrows and seems quite taken aback by Jim’s sudden outburst. “I merely assumed that since you are in Chicago, you might have a professional obligation in town that was demanding your time.”

Jim releases a breath of relief that he had not realized he had been holding. “Yes, professional responsibilities. There’s always something in every city I go to, it would seem.”

It’s not a lie. Staying alive to finish his next novel could be considered a professional responsibility. Jim is fairly sure even Bones would back him up on this one.

“Popularity does have its drawbacks, it would seem.”

“Yeah, but I wouldn’t give it up for the world. Writing is the only way that I have of putting the universe at large into perspective, you know? It’s like once I start writing, the words just pour out and things make sense.”

Jim catches himself rambling like a little school girl, so he stops himself before he starts gushing even more. His face grows hot and he twines his fingers together anxiously. Surely a Vulcan must find his emotionalism off-putting.

“That is a beautiful sentiment.” Spock says and Jim is either officially going crazy or there is some amount of warmth beneath that trademark monotone. “It sounds as if you drew on your own emotions to create your main character, Alma’s, feeling of being lost regardless of her location.”

Jim rubs the back of his neck and shrugs in what he hopes is a noncommittal fashion. “Yeah I mean, what author doesn’t include personal experience from time to time?”

“To my knowledge, all of the authors whose works have stood the test of time drew from their own lives.”

The implications of those words makes Jim stand straighter and try to appear more confident in his skill. “Thank you. That…that really means a lot to here.”

“It is of no consequence.” Spoke responds smoothly. “Your works speaks for itself and it is no great leap to believe that it will stand the test of time.”

Jim’s heart swells and he fights to keep himself from absolutely bursting with glee at Spock’s comments. For some reason, the opinion of this professor that he met just the other day holds more weight than even those of newspapers which are typically held in high regard. “Wow. You know, I was serious about coming in and talking to your class. You should seriously call me or get in touch with my PA, Janice, and set something up. I would love to help out however I can.”

“I will be sure to be in touch.”

It all suddenly feels very personal and Jim becomes hyper aware of the academics milling around them, some of whom are probably even listening in. Jim folds his arms across his chest and grips his elbows. He finds himself suddenly filled with the desire to speak to him in private, to go somewhere with Spock and hear the opinions of this professor he met just two days ago on everything from literature to advanced warp theory.

It’s ridiculous and probably a result of the over-romanticized author’s brain but Jim finds himself missing this scenario that he has never experienced.

Just as Jim is about to say something about this daydream of his, Janice’s hand appears on his shoulder and saves him from saying something that he would most certainly regret. “Jim, Leonard is calling.”

Jim quirks his mouth into an apologetic smile in Spock’s direction and he raises one shoulder. “Sorry, I have to take this. Professional commitment.”

Spock nods once in acquiescence and turns to one of his colleagues to speak to them.

Jim grabs the comm from Janice and walks out of the room with Janice in tow. Once he’s in a fairly deserted hallway, he takes a deep breath to prepare himself for what is most certainly going to be “Doctor McCoy” and not Bones. “Hey, what’s up?”

“Jim, I just got the report from Reynolds.” Bones sounds…off, even for being distorted through a comm.

“Bones, what is it?”

“Jim, I think you need to come home as soon as possible.” Bones says and Jim’s stomach drops to his feet. Bones is a worrywart of the worst kind but he would never tell him to come home unless…

“Is something really that wrong?” Jim starts walking for lack of anything to do to occupy himself. “What is it?” His hands are starting to sweat and his knees suddenly feel weak.

Bones sighs through the comm and Jim can practically hear the pursed lips. “Your white blood cell count is really low, Jim. I don’t know what it means but it can’t be good. You’ll probably be fine but I’d really rather you were here where I can keep a closer eye on you.”

Jim nods rapidly and runs a hand through his hair before remembering that Bones cannot actually see him. “Yeah. I’ll have Janice get me on the next flight.”

He makes eye contact with her and Janice nods before turning back to her padd with renewed purpose.

“I’m sorry to cut this trip short.” Bones says and it sounds like real regret.

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll be home soon, Bones. See you then.”

-

A few hours after his presentation and second conversation with Jim Kirk, Spock overhears some others professors discussing the fact that James Kirk left the conference two days early. They express indignation over the fact that the author was intended to do a large signing session which has now been cancelled.

Their remarks are those of annoyance at the seemingly constant need for rescheduling when it comes to James.

Spock wonders at what sort of professional commitments Jim could have which require so much of him at any given time.

 

~*~

Jim is jumpy the whole shuttle ride home. He bounces his feet and only stops when Janice shoots him a particularly murderous glare. “Sorry.” He mumbles and tears into a package of skittles, sorting them into piles by color.

“Everything is going to be fine.” Janice says finally after watching Jim eat his way through the purple and green piles. She even gives him a soft pat on the shoulder and a smile. “Leonard is an amazing doctor.”

Jim nods and swallows the candy with great effort, considering how dry his mouth is. He only really partially believes her, but the words are more than appreciated. Janice has been working with him for long enough to know that he works himself up far too much. “You’re right. I’m overreacting.”

“You’re probably not overreacting, given your situation, but you do need to let yourself calm down.” Janice responds. She goes back to tapping on her padd but Jim can see the sideways glances that she gives him every few moments.

He tries to lighten the suddenly suffocating mood in the shuttle by chuckling and remarking, “Bet you didn’t think you were signing up to be a babysitter when you got this job, did you?”

Janice rolls her eyes and humors him with a puff of air through her nostrils. The corners of her eyes crinkle slightly, which is about as close to a full-on grin that Jim knows he can get from her at moments like this. “I was actually a nanny in college, so I’ve got plenty of experience.” Janice quips back easily. “Now shush, I’m working.”

“Well, while you’re planning my schedule or whatever, can you set me up on a date or something? ‘Cause I haven’t gotten any in months.”

His crass remark earns him narrowed eyes from Janice and she even puts her padd down before her expression shifts to something considerably more devious. She taps her perfectly manicured nails against the screen innocently. “Are you sure you don’t have anyone particular in mind?” She asks.

Jim frowns and tenses. “No, what do you mean?”

Janice’s smile widens and she reaches up with one hand to adjust her already perfect hair. “Oh, nothing. Just that you and that professor seemed to be quite chummy.”

Jim gapes at her and hopes to god that his neck isn’t too red. He has blamed sudden fever before and he will do it again if he needs to. “I-We weren’t chummy. We only spoke to each other twice!”

“And you raced across the city to make it to his presentation.” Janice finishes with an expression that clearly says, “Seems awfully chummy to me.”

Well, damn. That is some pretty good evidence against him. “I just thought he was an interesting person.”

“The sort of interesting that you’d like to do further research on.” Janice responds, “Perhaps the sort of research that takes place in bed?”

There are times when it’s good that Janice knows him better than perhaps anyone else (Bones aside). She knows what he needs before he does and never fails to get him where he needs to go. Hell, he would probably be dead by now if it wasn’t for her reminding him of his appointments approximately three times a day.

=This, however, is not one of those times. He really does not need a personal assistant who thinks she knows everything about his romantic and sexual interests. He was (mostly) joking when he asked her to set him up on a date. And whatever this stupid crush is or will turn out to be, he doesn’t need her interfering.

Or telling Bones about it.

“You know I don’t do relationships and he’s a Vulcan, Jan. There’d be no way around it. They don’t make for the best fuckbuddies.”

“You gave him your number.” She says in a way that suggests that she does not believe a single word he’s saying.

“Yeah, so he can get in touch and I can help out with his class!” It’s weak but it’s all that Jim can come up with at the moment. It was a dumb move and he knows what it implies.

“You could always try a relationship.” Janice suggests. “You know, just for funsies.”

Only Janice Rand could say Just for funsies and have it sound completely serious and like something that he should consider. Her face gives away no hint of sarcasm or joking, though Jim assumes that she must be. She knows how Jim feels about relationships and how pointless it would be for him to have one, as it could never become the long-lasting sort of thing that people typically are interested in. The sort of relationship that Jim knows he would want.

“It’s not for me.”

Janice accepts this with a shrug and turns her padd back on. The lines of her face speak to how much she disagrees with Jim, but she does not press the issue further.

Jim leans his seat back as far as it will go and gathers the blanket that Janice always packs for him on shuttles (the complimentary blankets are too thin for someone who gets cold as frequently as Jim does). He closes his eyes and lets himself drift off into a sleep marked by dreams of sloped eyebrows and the curve of pointed ears

Once the plane lands, Janice drags Jim into a car and it’s not until they’re all of one block away from the hospital that Jim realizes they’re not even going to stop at his house. So he ends up sitting on a hospital bed for the third time in five days with Bones Glaring at him, capital G and all.

“I’m not going to say I told you so.” He says and somehow manages to deepen his frown even more. “But I may or may not have said that going out of town was risky.”

“In my defense, this probably would have happened regardless.” Jim holds up a finger and smiles smarmily at his best friend. Sarcasm and getting Bones to cave into the purity of friendship is pretty much his only defense when it comes to medical situations. Especially ones in which Jim may or may not have massively messed up.

Bones grumbles unintelligibly under his breath and stabs a hypo into Jim’s neck with questionable finesse. Jim winces away from it and half-shrieks in surprise. “Jesus, Bones.”

“Your white blood count has been fluctuating for the last few months but right now they’re so low that you’ve managed to beat your personal best.”

“Congrats to me.” Jim says with mock cheer as he throws a hand into the air.

“I know how you feel about adding pills, though, and since you’ve just started a new pain medicine, I’m just going to stick with bimonthly injections.” Bones holds up the hypospray.

“My favorite.”

“But since your immune system is especially weak, I am going to give you a hypospray that you’ll have to inject yourself with every day for the next two weeks until your next appointment. That one is just unavoidable.” Bones looks almost apologetic for it. “And the hypospray times how long it’s been between injections, so I will know if you’re doing it.”

Jim glares halfheartedly at Bones and feels that same itch he felt under his skin when he got his diagnosis. It’s an itch to run and fight and lose himself somewhere. The pressure of being sick becomes too much all at once and Jim just wants to get out.

He did run away when he was first diagnosed. He had barely just turned twenty-one and he got on the first shuttle to San Francisco and spent a few days wandering around and blowing a fair amount of the money that Starfleet gave them yearly because his father died in a fiery explosion to be remembered throughout the ages.

That was one of those time Jim was jealous of George Kirk.

It took his mother four days to find him then and she rained down all the wrath she could muster until Jim broke down and allowed her to bring him home.

Running again would only mean having her and Bones on his case about recklessness and after five years of being sick and getting lectured, Jim is just too tired.

“You need to start taking care of yourself, Jim.” Bones says and puts the hypospray down on his desk.

“I do take care of myself.”

“You know what I mean.” Bones gives him a look. “You live all alone in that house. Janice is great but she’s not exactly what you need when it comes to companionship.”

Jim boggles at Bones and wonders when he started playing counselor. “So, what? Should I get a dog? A cat?”

“I was thinking more along the lines of a girlfriend or boyfriend or whatever. Someone you can connect with.”

“Are you saying I need to get laid? Is this an actual medical order?” Jim grins lecherously at Bones. “Can I get a written prescription on that one?”

And apparently Jim is well enough for Bones to cuff him upside the head before the doctor grumbles, “Infant. You don’t need to get laid, you need to find someone you can connect with emotionally and who can be there to support you when you need it. A real adult relationship.”

Jim actually laughs aloud at that. “You’ve been talking to Janice too much.” He says with a shake of his head. “What’s ridiculous is that you both know me well enough to know that I don’t want that at all. It’s a terrible idea.”

“It’s not a terrible idea. Having someone there for you when you’re in the state that you’re in is not a bad thing.”

“But leaving them behind is.” Jim counters. Bones acts as though he has not spent endless hours considering this, like they haven’t had countless conversations to this effect. “No one can have a serious relationship with me and I seriously think that people need to get off of my case about this.”

He isn’t angry at Bones as such but he is sick of others forcing their will on him when he already feels out of control in his own life. He’s been saying this for five years and all he wants is to be heard.

Bones puts his hands up in surrender. “I’m sorry, Jimmy. I don’t want to see you close yourself off, it’s unhealthy. But I won’t push it.”

“I appreciate that.” Jim relaxes once more and rubs at the spot where Bones jabbed him as if some phantom pain lingered there.

-

Spock is dragging his spoon across the surface of his replicated plomeek soup when Nyota drops her fork on her salad plate with a clatter. “Was sending you to that conference a huge mistake?"

Though it is not logical, her voice sends a jolt of surprise though Spock as though he had forgotten her presence, which he of course had not. He looked up at her with curiosity. “What do you mean? I have expressed no regret over my attendance, Rather, it was a most pleasant experience.”

“Then what’s your problem?” Nyota demands, “You’ve barely said three words to me since you got back last night.”

It is untrue, he has said much more than three words, but the human expression is not lost on Spock. He knows that he has been noticeably non-conversational. “I do not have a problem.” Spock says calmly. He pauses to take a sip of his previously untouched soup before continuing, “I did, however, meet James Kirk.”

Jim’s name feels like it holds more weight than it perhaps should for someone that he only just made acquaintance with and with whom Spock will likely speak again, despite possessing his contact information. The few encounters he had already had with the other man had already induced such illogical feelings in him that further contact could only be detrimental.

“James Kirk?” Nyota makes a small choking sound in surprise and her eyes go wide. “You mean that author that you have a weird boner for?”

Spock’s ears grow hot and he glances around them to ensure that none of their fellow professors in the cafeteria heard Nyota’s words. “I do not have a ‘weird boner’ for Jim."

“Oh, so now he’s Jim?” Nyota teases and goes back to eating her salad.

Spock takes a deep breath and fights the slight urge to roll his eyes at his friend. It is a very human instinct, but one that he sometimes finds quite necessary to indulge in. “That is what he requested I call him.”

“Oh, so you didn’t just meet him, you actually spoke to him.”

Spock thinks back to the events of five days previous in the coffee shop in Chicago. “Yes, he sat down with me in a coffee shop, as I had an extra seat.” He knew that he was making it sound as though the café was so crowded that there were no other seats and that that was not the case, but what he said was not a technical lie. He did have an empty seat at his table. “I found him to be rather fascinating.”

This causes Nyota to smirk at him unabashedly. “So you have a huge embarrassing crush on him now.”

“I said nothing of the kind.”

“Oh but you did.” Nyota’s smirk only deepens and she even winks at Spock. As the one person he could consider a ‘friend’ here on Earth, she is often more reserved and logical than how she is behaving at the moment and it makes Spock uneasy. “You called him fascinating.”

“I do find him to be rather interesting. He is intelligent and mercurial and one might find him aesthetically attractive. These things do not equate to a ‘crush.’” Spock explains in the hopes that this will put the subject to rest.

All it seems to do, however, is increase the amount of entertainment that Nyota derives from the situation. “You totally have a Vulcan crush on him. A giant Vulcan boner for James T Kirk, award winning author. Did you get his number?"

Spock closes his eyes and takes a deep breath to try to ignore the first half of Nyota’s statement. The latter half, however, he has no problem responding to. “Yes, he gave me his communicator frequency.”

“So call him!” Nyota insists. “What are you waiting for?”

Spock shakes his head. Calling James Kirk when they hardly know each other would doubtlessly be a mistake. “I am certain he gave me the number so that I might ask him to come speak at Georgetown some time.”

“Sure.” Nyota remarks skeptically and takes a large bite of her salad. When she next speaks, it is with a mouth full of lettuce and croutons. “I’m sure he gives his personal number out to everyone that he wants to have a strictly business relationship with.”

“With whom he wishes to have a business relationship.” Spock corrects for lack of anything better to say.

Nyota sticks her tongue out at him. “I am not going to give you a linguistics lecture, Grammar police. Call him.”

-

Spock holds his communicator in his left hand while he grades papers with his right. He tries to keep from glancing at it frequently but finds himself failing incredibly.

He knows Jim Kirk will not call him, as he does not have Spock’s number, but Spock still finds himself wishing that he would. It would certainly make this task much easier, as he is experiencing an odd amount of anxiety over the prospect of contacting the author.

He sets his stylus down on the desk and taps on the screen of his communicator to pull up the contact list. He stares at Jim’s name for a moment before finally tapping it.

There is a few seconds of ringing before finally, “Jim Kirk.”

Spock takes a deep breath and tenses slightly. “Hello, Jim, this is-“

“Spock? Is that you?” Jim interrupts suddenly. “Wow, you actually called!”

He sounds pleased. Spock relaxes his posture ever so slightly. “Yes. Did you expect me to not contact you?”=

“No, no, it’s just…I don’t know.” A raspy chuckle comes through the line and Spock imagines Jim running a hand through his golden hair, a habit that Spock noticed in their few interactions. “I’m glad you called.”

“I was hoping that we might be able to talk again.”

There is a pause on the other end of the line and for a moment Spock wonders if Jim does not wish to see or speak to him, if his pleasure was merely a ruse. “Yeah. That’d be cool.”

“I am free on Wednesday at two. Would you like to join me for coffee?” Spock asks. He knows that it sounds like a ‘date’ but does not want to bring attention to it, as it may scare Jim off.

“Yeah, that sounds great. There’s a little place near campus that has really great caramel lattes. Do you know Katey’s?”

“Yes, I happen to frequent that particular establishment.” Spock enjoys spending spare time at Katey’s as it is not often occupied by undergraduates and their raucous laughter. It is small and has a plethora of comfortable chairs in which he is able to sit and enjoy a cup of exceptional coffee that, despite it’s lack of strong effect on him due to his Vulcan heritage, is quite pleasant. Nyota often joins him on his trips to the shop.

“Oh, cool! So…two?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll see you then, I guess.” Jim says and Spock detects a slight tremor in his voice which alarms him. “I actually have to go now but I’ll talk to you then, all right?”

Spock clears his throat slightly and says, “I look forward to it.” With all of the sincerity that he can manage.

After he ends the call on his communicator, he picks up his stylus and pauses for a moment to consider the fact that Nyota would be proud of him for his efforts.

-

Jim is stupid. He has been told this many times throughout his life, but this is the first time that he genuinely believes it. He is utterly and completely, without a doubt the stupidest person on the planet.

He has what seems an awful lot like a date with Spock. The very same Spock who Jim spent a ridiculous amount of time convincing Janice that he does not want a relationship with. Because he doesn’t want one, really. Jim does not need that in his life.

Yet despite knowing what he wants, Jim for some reason agreed to go get coffee with Spock. Jim can’t remember the last time he ‘got coffee’ with someone and it didn’t end up in sex.

Thus, Jim’s miraculous stupidity is revealed.

As Jim paces his living room, he justifies that it does not necessarily have to be a date. It could very well simply be two acquaintances going to get coffee and chat. Jim does that with Janice and Carol all the time. This thing with Spock could very well be exactly the same. Jim just has to stay far away from flirting territory which should not be too hard when your conversation partner is a Vulcan.

A very handsome Vulcan with brown eyes that are some of the most expressive that Jim has ever seen in his life. And with a body that is all hard long lines that Jim has spent too many nights dreaming about.

Jim shakes his head in a half-assed attempt to clear those kinds of thoughts from his mind. It’s wrong and Jim should not be thinking like that. Spock is a friend and nothing more. Jim can remain professional and friendly and perhaps come out of this without falling head over heels.

He can, he wants to, he has to.

~*~

The interior of Katey’s is warm and comfortable. Its worn out leather chairs and shelves of books free for reading by customers are familiar and put Jim’s nerves at ease while he waits for Spock to show up.

He is sitting in the back of the shop in the arm chair that he has been sitting in regularly since he first moved to D.C. and was crashing on Bones’ couch, not long after he was first diagnosed.

He has not been back in a few months but still everything seems to not have changed a bit. It still smells the same, looks the same, the same barista works behind the same counter. Jim smiles to himself and wonders at the consistent nature of places like this.

“Jim.” A voice interrupts his thoughts and Jim looks up to see Spock standing over him, hands clasped behind his back. “You are early.”

Jim checks his watch. 1:45. “So are you.” He responds with a quirk of his lips.

“I did not wish to be late.” Spock concedes with a nod.

“Neither did I.” Jim stands up and claps Spock on the shoulder. “Come on, let’s go order.”

One they both have their drinks (caramel latte for Jim, blueberry tea for Spock), they settle into the chairs. Jim notes that Spock looks out of place and at home all at once in the mahogany colored chair. He looks regal and Jim catches himself wondering if Vulcan ever had royalty because Spock must be descended from it.

“It is nice weather today.” Spock says suddenly and very stiffly.

Jim stifles a giggle at the attempt at small talk and nods. “Yes, it is rather warm for September. Although, I have to say that I like it when it’s colder, get to wear sweaters more often.” Jim says despite the fact that he is in fact currently wearing a cable-knit sweater that Bones’ mother made for him.

Spock nods in agreement and does not mention Jim’s attire. “While summers here are at most times tolerable, I find temperatures even such as today to be quite cold.”

“Oh, that’s right.” Jim bubbles up and nods, “What was that like, growing up on Vulcan?”

Spock’s jaw twitches slightly and relaxes just as quickly so that Jim might not have noticed had he not been paying such rapt attention. “It was very different from Earth. The deserts of Vulcan are very hot and very dry at all times of the year and there is very little greenery.”

“I hear Vulcan schools are crazy strict.”

Spock nods, “They are rather intensive. It is expected that students center their lives around their education. In Vulcan culture, there is nothing more cherished that knowledge and learning.

“I did, however have the opportunity to visit Earth at least every other year due to my father being the ambassador. I found the experiences to be odd but educational.”

Jim chuckles and takes a sip of his piping hot latte. It burns his tongue. “I can imagine it would be.” Suddenly, what he said sinks in, “Wait, you’re the ambassador’s son? So that makes Amanda Grayson your mom?”

“Yes, my mother is the lady Amanda Grayson.” Spock nods with the corner of his mouth quirked upwards.

“I had a few linguistic major friends in school. They all essentially worshiped your mother’s work with the universal translator.” Jim leans toward Spock without noticing and puts his chin in his hand.

“She is rather remarkable.” Spock admits. “It was a good experience, being raised by her. When I chose to attend an Earth university rather than the Vulcan Science Academy, she was remarkably supportive.”

Jim sits back in his seat. He hadn’t considered what that might have been like for Spock but there is a particular gleam in those brown eyes that says it was far from easy. “Why did you choose that?”

“I am a child of two worlds.” Spock begins, “I had trouble reconciling those sides for quite some time, and while it was first my intention to turn completely toward the Vulcan way and studied at one of the many universities there, there were some viewpoints brought to my attention which spoke to the fact that it was impossible for me to do so. I could never be completely Vulcan, much as I can never be wholly Human. The choice to study linguistics and then later switch to literature came from my mother’s influence, though I briefly entertained the idea of enlisting in Starfleet.” He finishes and takes another sip of his tea, giving away very little as to his emotions.

Jim wracks his mind for what he could possibly say to that. He knows how it would affect him, he would be completely wrecked by it, but Spock is something different altogether. He’s cool and has the ability to keep himself separate from his feelings. “I can’t even imagine going through that."

“It was difficult.” Spock concedes, “But the Vulcan genes in me are dominant and the control of my emotions allotted by those genes have allowed me a great amount of serenity.”

Jim thinks back to every rough moment of his life; thinks about every memorial service, every moment of hunger, every time he has felt like tearing his skin apart, every hospital visit. He wonders if those moments might have played out differently had he had even a drop of Vulcan blood in his body allowing him to feel peace.

“You are incredible, Spock.” Jim finally says with a grin that he could not stop if he wanted to. He shakes his head in disbelief. “Seriously, you’re half human, literally the only one of your kind. And being half Vulcan makes that so much harder, I imagine.”

“You too are remarkable.” Spock counters with a raised eyebrow. “At the age of twenty-six, there are very few humans who have achieved such mastery of their craft such as you have. Your writing has depth and intricacy that is rare and despite having read it many times, your novel still manages to…surprise me."

Jim feels his face grow hot at the praise and he ducks his head. “I never aimed to surprise anyone.” Spock was so forthcoming with the details of his life that Jim has no qualms about pushing ahead with, “I only really ever aimed to leave something here when I’m gone. Even if the book hadn’t made any mark in the literary world, it would have been something for people to remember me by. And because I love writing, of course.”

Spock considers the words with an odd and almost unnoticeable expression on his face. “I stand by my statement that you are remarkable.”

Jim grins and holds his cup up in a sort of mock toast. “To admitting that maybe we’re both sort of awesome.”

Spock, ever the good sport, taps the rims of their cups together. “Hear, hear.”

-

“How was your date with Spock?” Janice asks idly while she sits at Jim’s counter, his schedule in hand.

Jim chews and swallows the bite of the sandwich he was devouring and raises his eyebrows at her. “I thought we were prepping me for an interview, not jumping right in with some investigative journalism.” He gestures toward the padd in her hand, “And it wasn’t a date.” He adds as an afterthought.

“You got coffee and chatted for two hours.” Janice responds, “Either that’s a date or I’ve been doing this whole romance thing all wrong.”

Jim shakes his head firmly at her. “It was just two friends getting coffee, nothing more. I promise it wasn’t a date.”

“You don’t need to make a promise. I wouldn’t be mad at you for dating.” Janice hands over the padd for Jim to look at and steals a chip from his plate while she’s at it. “In case you didn’t notice, that’s what I want.”

“Well you’re not getting it.”

“I think we should wait a while before you say something like that.” Janice smirks at him and flips her hair which is hanging down around her shoulders for once. “I’m going to the bathroom and when I get back we need to talk about that interview with Gleana Dumas."

Jim gives her a two-fingered salute and watches her waltz off to the bathroom. His communicator buzzes in his pocket and he fumbles for it quickly, thinking that it must be Bones or his mother and is surprised to see Spock’s name on the screen. “Hello?”

“Jim, hello.”

“Spock, what’s up?” Jim asks and takes another bite of his sandwich, attempting to chew silently so that Spock won’t hear.

“I was calling to say that I rather enjoyed speaking to you yesterday.” Spock says like a lead up to something more.

“Yeah, I did too.” And Jim waits for whatever’s coming next.

“I was wondering if you would be amenable to seeing each other again.” Jim might be imagining it but Spock sounds almost nervous through the line.

Jim grins in spite of himself and rubs the back of his neck with his free hand. “Yeah, that’d be great. Do you want to have dinner at my place on Friday?” Jim figures if he keeps it on his turf, he’ll be able to control this attraction that he feels for Spock.

Meeting him for coffee was almost definitely a mistake if Jim wanted to keep himself from falling for Spock. If he had simply stayed away from the Vulcan from the start, it probably would have been much safer, but now Jim is in this friendship and he can’t very well back out without turning Spock down so rudely.

“That sounds agreeable.” Spock says, not giving away anything and it is beginning to drive Jim crazy. “Although I should inform you that I, as with all Vulcans, am a vegetarian.”

“Noted!” Jim chirps as Janice walks back into the room. “I guess I’ll see you Friday!”

He hangs up as Spock is saying goodbye and tries not to look guilty while he smiles at Janice. “So, how about that interview?”

“You know, it’s my job to know who you’re seeing when.” Janice says as she sidles up to the counter and steals the other half of Jim’s food. “So, who were you on the phone with that you’re seeing on Friday?”

Jim waves a hand dismissively and forces a light laugh out. “Oh, just a friend. We’re just having dinner.”

Janice puts her hand on Jim’s cheek and narrows her eyes at him. “Your face is hot and you haven’t stopped moving this whole time.” Jim tries to still under her intense gaze and does not meet her eye. “You’re having dinner with Spock.”

“What? No.” Jim drags out the vowels of the words and shifts away from her subtly. “Why do you care?”

“I think you should admit to yourself that you’re dating a Vulcan and you two are going to have adorable hybrid babies.” Janice says casually.

Jim gawps at her and shakes his head rapidly. “That’s not even possible. I’m ninety percent sure neither of us has a uterus.”

Janice points at him with the sandwich. “But only ninety percent. I mean, how much do any of us really know about alien anatomy?”

“Oh my god.” Jim snatches his food back and stalks off to his living room, Janice’s heels giving away the fact that she’s following close behind. “I’m paying you to help me keep my life together but this is so not what I meant.”

“I don’t really have much else going on in my life, honestly. I need this.” Janice answers with a shrug as she throws herself onto Jim’s couch.

“How’s Heather, by the way?” Jim asks in hopes of distracting her. “Things getting serious?”

Janice shoots him a look that clearly says she sees right through him, but she smiles nevertheless. “We’re good. She’s really fun and killer in bed. Thanks for setting us up.”

Jim grins and gives her two thumbs up. Heather was one of Jim’s more frequent fuckbuddies until she decided she wanted to try a serious relationship (She specified that she wanted it not with him). And because Jim is the best employer in all of Washington D.C., he decided to set Janice up with her.

A month later and Jim has gotten far too many texts from Heather about Janice’s body. He brought it upon himself but really he never wanted to know his assistant that well.

“That’s awesome. You should take Friday off and take her out on me.” Jim suggests with an innocent grin.

Janice rolls her eyes with a half smile. “I see what you’re doing but I’m not going to turn it down. And we’re definitely going to spend the shit out of your money.”

-

Jim loves food. His mother taught him to cook in high school when he was going through a particularly rough patch in his life. In college he would cook and bake for his roommates when he got stressed out.

He never thought that cooking could stress him out quite so much until he starts cooking for Spock. He finds himself having to put the knife down multiple times because his hands are shaking.

Despite the heat of the stove, Jim finds himself shivering while he makes curry and has to go back to his room to grab a sweater.

Jim is just getting back to his cooking when there is a knock on the door. He checks the clock in a panic, thinking that maybe he miscalculated the time, only to find that Spock is definitely not supposed to show up for another hour.

When he does get to the door, Jim is met with a wonderful surprise in the form of Leonard McCoy in worn out jeans and a flannel shirt. “Hey, kid. What’s that smell?”

Jim glances back over his shoulder and bites his lip. “Oh, I’m making dinner. Having a friend over in a bit.”

Bones shoves his hands in his pocket and frowns. “Oh. Should I leave?”

Jim hesitates for a split second before stepping aside and gesturing for Bones to come in. “No, there’s always room for one more.”

It is probably exactly what Spock is not expecting but Jim can think of nothing better to keep the evening strictly platonic than having Leonard McCoy and his ever-present scowl present.

“So, what brings you to this neck of the woods? You’re usually with Jo-jo on Fridays, aren’t you?” Jim asks and adds a dash of coconut milk to the curry. Bones is pulling apart a piece of naan and Jim swats at his hand with a spoon.

Bones scowls at him deeply. “Guess who decided that she absolutely had to have Jo with her at a gallery opening?”

Jim turns around and gapes openly at Bones. “Jocelyn can do that? She can just take Joanna away when you’re supposed to have visitation?”

Bones shrugs dejectedly and Jim is overcome with how much he really needs to learn to fight for himself when he spends so long fighting for others. “I guess. Joanna said she wanted to go so if I didn’t let her, it would have made me the bad guy.”

“I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit.” Jim spits out, “Joanna loves you. She could never hate you, she’s such a sweetheart.”

Jim is rewarded with a rare smile from Bones at that. “Yeah, she’s a great kid. Sometimes I can’t believe I actually made that.”

“Neither can I.” Jim jokes and sticks his tongue out at Bones.

Bones goes from grinning one moment to concern the next and he rounds the island in the kitchen to peer at Jim. “You’re looking awful pale, are you feeling alright?” He places a hand on Jim’s forehead in concern and the wrinkles between his eyebrows deepen exponentially.

Jim steps away and waves Bones away petulantly. “Come on, Bones, I’m fine.”

“No, Jim, you’re flushed and you’re obviously cold, with that giant sweater you’ve got on.”

Jim looks guiltily at Bones’ t-shirt and then down at his own bare feet. “Bones, I’m fine.” He says more harshly than intended and clenches his jaw in regret.

Apparently it’s enough to make Bones back down. He steps back and holds his hands up in surrender. “Okay, I get it. No doctorin’ when we’re here as friends. Just at least take some cold medicine and if you’re not feeling good tomorrow make sure you come in and see me.”

Jim feels bad for his outburst, knows that Bones only wants to keep him alive, as annoying as it can be. “Yeah, could you go grab some from my bathroom? You know where it is.” Jim waves him off toward the master bedroom and turns back to his cooking.

He tries to lose himself in the act of stirring and adding spices and everything that his mother spent so long teaching him. He’s interrupted once more by Bones thrusting two bright orange pills and glass of water at him, which he takes without putting up a fight, feeling oddly compliant tonight. “Can I drink after taking these?”

Bones chuckles and claps him on the back. “Yeah, you can. Always got your priorities straight, I see.”

“Would you rather I never ask?” Jim suggests with a tilted head and pursed lips.

“No, you’re right. I trained you well.”

Jim huffs in annoyance but continues with his work, finally able to cover his curries and turn them on low to simmer. “There. Food’s done.”

Just then, Bones’ stomach growls loudly from across the kitchen. “When is your mystery guest supposed to get here? I didn’t even know you had friends other than me.”

Jim squawks and smacks his best friend with a spoon. “Hey! I have plenty of friends! Janice and Gaila are my friends!”

Bones opens his mouth to shoot back a likely snarky and rude response but the doorbell ringing cuts him off. “I suppose that’s one of your many friends.”

Jim whips his apron off and runs his hands through his hair nervously while he walks toward the door. Bones stays in the kitchen, thankfully, so that when Jim answers the door, it’s just him and Spock.

“Hi.” He breathes.

“Hello, James.” Spock greets him and takes a step forward, making Jim gasp until he realizes that Spock is most likely expecting to be let into the house and not trying to kiss him. He steps aside and lets him in. “It is pleasing to see you again.”

“Yeah, nice to see you too.” Jim knows that he sounds just shy of breathless and wants to punch himself for it. He distracts himself by taking Spock’s black pea coat from him and hanging it in the hall closet. Spock holds his scarf out as well and Jim takes it with an airy laugh. “Wow, you weren’t kidding about Vulcans getting cold.”

Spock quirks the left corner of his mouth upwards and inclines his head slightly. “Indeed. Despite having lived here for several years, I still find myself unaccustomed to the climate.” He holds out his right hand and Jim notices for the first time what he is holding. “I was informed that it is proper to bring wine when invited to dinner.”

Jim wonders what friends Spock could possibly have and thinks vaguely that whoever it is that suggested the wine must be very similar to Jim’s own meddling friends. “Wow, thank you. I think I actually forget to get wine earlier so you’re a godsend.”

“Regardless of whether I was sent by any deity, it was only polite to bring. Thanks are not necessary.”

Jim shakes his head at the oh-so-Vulcan response and guides him toward the kitchen. “You could at least say ‘you’re welcome.’” He teases.

“You are welcome.”

Jim is grinning to himself when they reach the kitchen and the scowling Bones inside. The sight of his friends snaps Jim out of his giddy daze and brings him back to Earth and what he should be feeling toward Spock. “Oh, hey. Bones, this is Spock. Spock, this is my best friend, Doctor Leonard McCoy, who I call Bones.”

Spock looks mildly confused, whether by the nickname or by Bones’ very presence, Jim is not sure. “It is…nice to meet you.”

Bones looks at Jim like he is not entirely sure that this is happening. “Likewise. Now, Jim, are you going to tell me where on Earth you found a Vulcan and how you got him to not hate you?”

“Jim is interesting and engaging. I fail to see why I would hate him.” Spock raises an eyebrow at Bones and Jim feels something warm flood through his stomach and out through his limbs.

“Yeah, Bones.”

Bones keeps up his expression and shakes his head slowly. “I don’t know what your deal is nowadays, kid.”

Maybe it’s the cold medicine, but Jim is feeling more relaxed and slightly giddy than he has all day, so he laughs genuinely and waves Bones off. “Come on, let’s eat.”

Nobody has spoken since they started eating at Jim’s small and rarely used dining room table. Jim is busy tucking into his curry and alternating stealing glances at Spock and laughing at Bones’ reactions to the spicy curry. Spock apparently notices this reaction to Jim’s cooking because he finally speaks up, “Are you all right, Leonard?”

Bones coughs and takes a gulp of milk before scowling at Spock. “I’m fine. Jim just made this curry so god-damn spicy.”

“I found it to be pleasantly warm. Perhaps your taste buds are not developed enough to detect the intricacies of flavor present.” Spock answers coolly.

Bones’ responding scowl makes Jim snort around his mouthful of curry. “Ow, fuck! Curry in my nose.” Jim wipes at his eyes and runny nose with a napkin and attempts to hide his blush in the same motion. Of course he would end up snorting curry up his nose.

“Are you all right, Jim?” Spock actually looks concerned and he leans in so that Jim could easily reach out and touch him.

Jim leans back in his chair and nods rapidly, waving his hands. “Yeah, I was just laughing at Bones and ended up snorting some curry.”

“Typical.” Bones grunts. His comm dings shortly after and he fishes it out of his pocket with some additional grumbling under his breath.

Jim and Spock watch him read the message slowly and Jim notices the way his scowl melts into something softer and much happier. “I’m sorry, Jimmy, but I’ve got to go. Apparently Jocelyn doesn’t enjoy having a six year old at her gallery opening.”

Jim mock pouts. “Oh no, don’t leave, uninvited dinner guest.”

Bones flips him off before exiting and leaving Jim and Spock completely alone in the house. It suddenly feels so formal and intimate to be eating in the dining room, rather than it just being a convenient place for three people to sit and eat. Jim clears his throat and smiles tightly at Spock. “Do you mind if we move into the living room? I’m more of a casual sort of guy, really.”

Spock pauses for a moment as though deep in consideration before nodding. “Yes, I believe I could be amenable to that suggestion.”

Before Jim even has a chance, Spock stands up and grabs both plates, leaving Jim to grab the yet unopened wine and two glasses and lead the way to the living room.

The change of setting does not calm Jim’s nerves very much at all and he finds himself nearly mirroring Spock’s posture sitting on his brown leather couch. The ramrod straight spine looks natural on Spock and must feel the same, but on Jim all it is is uncomfortable.

In hopes of alleviating his nerves, Jim reaches forward and takes the bottle of wine in hand. “Why don’t we get this party started.” He mumbles and pours two glasses of the dark red liquid.

“This is not a party, but one could argue that it ‘started’ when I arrived forty-two minutes ago.” Spock quips but takes the offered glass of wine all the same. “I should warn you that Vulcans do not become inebriated as humans do by ingesting alcohol.”

Jim eyes Spock and cannot help but think that this whole night is not working out to his advantage. He’s nervous and hopped up on cold medicine and knowing himself, is probably about to get drunk in front of a Vulcan that he has a crush on. “You could have at least brought something to even the playing field.”

“The only equivalent that I can think of is chocolate, but the effects of it on my system are not quite as strong as those of alcohol on yours.”

Jim shakes his head and stands up from the couch. “I’ve got some chocolate chips in the kitchen.”

Maybe it’s stupid and impulsive, but Jim actually grabs the yellow bag of chips from his kitchen and throws it down on the coffee table. He then grabs his cup of wine and sits cross legged on the couch, angled slightly toward Spock. “Now we’re even.”

Spock raises an eyebrow at him and Jim at least has the good graces to blush. “Yes, I suppose we are.”

-

Jim Kirk is odd. Spock had the thought when he first met the author and he buzzed about from topic to topic and left suddenly, but sitting on the couch and watching him drink and talk as though speaking every word that goes through his mind, Spock is sure that he is one of the single most peculiar humans he has met.

The suggestion that Spock eat the chocolate chips to ‘even the playing field’ with Jim might have originated as a joke but he takes it to heart. Once he has finished his excellently prepared meal, he eats a few of the chips and feels the familiar looseness fill his bones. Jim is beginning to look increasingly inebriated after three and a half glasses of the wine that Nyota suggested he bring. The other man’s cheeks are an attractive shade of pink and his eyes seem unusually bright.

He is babbling on about the work of astrophysicist Montgomery Scott and Spock finds it increasingly difficult to follow his words. He instead finds himself distracted by the motion of his hands and the sheen of wine on his pink lips. It is highly uncharacteristic of Spock and he finds it disturbing.

The feelings that Jim evokes in him are completely unfamiliar. Spock does not believe that he has ever felt something such as this in his life and it makes him feel even more off-balance than the chocolate does.

“See, and if we can harness that, starships will only become more efficient and they’ll be able to go even deeper, possibly indefinitely, barring damage to the ship itself. But really, this discovery is monumental! I just wish I could be here to see it.” Jim speaks as though what he is saying is of the utmost importance to him, all while maintaining eye contact with Spock and not spilling his wine despite large gestures. “It’s amazing, what they’re doing out there.”

“You seem to be very passionate about the subject. Did you ever consider pursuing a career in Starfleet?” Spock asks. Jim is certainly smart enough to have been an engineer or even a captain and it is common knowledge that he studied Physics in university. By all accounts, his current occupation makes no sense.

Jim’s face falls slightly and he shakes his head. “I almost did, actually. Both my parents are pretty involved in it, my mom’s an admiral for goodness’ sake, but in the end it just wasn’t right for me.”

Jim is leaning forward on the couch so that he is invading Spock’s personal space. If he focuses-no easy task-Spock believes he can feel Jim’s warm breath across his nose.

Impulsivity has very rarely been an aspect of Spock’s character, but there is no other word available with which to describe the act of placing his hand on the back of Jim’s neck and pressing their lips together. Spock hardly thinks at all, simply presses forward as if searching for a way to interpret these emotions.

There is a split second’s hesitation before Jim presses back, wrapping his hands around the back of Spock’s neck and kissing him with more passion that Spock has ever experienced. He rises slightly up onto his knees so that he is above Spock and brackets his face in his hands. Spock is left with nothing to do but hold on and move his lips in counterpart to Jim.

Just as suddenly as the kiss began, it ends with a gasp from Jim and hands against Spock’s chest pushing too roughly. Spock stares at Jim in mild shock while Jim runs his hands through his blond hair. “Shit.”

“Jim, I-“

“I’m drunk!” Jim exclaims, cutting Spock off. “I’m drunk and not thinking straight and you’ve been eating chocolate chips so you can’t be…” Jim trails off, looking distressed. “What was I thinking?”

Spock realizes his hands are still outstretched toward Jim and he pulls them back toward himself in a jerky movement. Jim is right. They are both clearly under the influence, there is no other explanation for Spock’s actions. His judgment must be impaired, otherwise he would never allow himself to be governed so strongly by his actions that he would do something so rash…so human.

Spock rises from the couch and clasps his hands behind his back, locking his posture. “Forgive me, James.” He implores, “I was not thinking clearly.”

Jim shakes his head and runs a hand through his hair. Spock can tell that his hands are shaking even from where he has walked backwards to. “It’s fine. Let’s just make sure it doesn’t happen again.” He offers a shaky smile.

There is an unfamiliar sinking feeling in the pit of Spock’s stomach as he nods in response to this. It is only wise for him to agree, as Jim clearly did not want Spock to kiss him and found the experience disturbing. Were Spock in his right mind, he would in all likeliness feel the same. As it stands, he feels shame for his actions but notes that he in no way found it unpleasant.

The situation is highly unusual and Spock finds his mind to be in such disarray and it leaves him discomforted. “I should leave.”

Jim’s face shifts to something more earnest and he stands from the couch quickly, wavering slightly on his feet. Spock fights the urge to reach out and stabilize him. “No, don’t go. We can just forget that happened.”

Spock shakes his head and turns away. “I need to meditate and you are quite inebriated.”

Jim’s face falls and it only serves to increase the unpleasant feelings that Spock is experiencing. He turns on his heel and walks toward the front door of the house. He ignores the sound of Jim pouring another glass of wine behind him.

He walks to the end of the sidewalk and looks around himself, realizing he does not know how to get home and does not trust himself to attempt the journey alone. He orders a taxi with a few taps and in no more than two minutes, a black car with a white sign on top of it pulls up at the curb and opens its doors.

Spock is dropped at his doors sooner than he thinks should be possible, but he does not protest as doing so would be illogical. He simply transfers some credits to the driver and exits slowly.

Jim Kirk is strange, of this Spock was already aware. From the very first exchange they shared to now, he has known all along that James T Kirk is no normal human. But what before seemed only to be eccentricity now displays itself as serious instability. His actions were contradictory tonight and left Spock feeling unbalanced.

Spock folds his legs on his mat and does not bother lighting his usual meditation candles. He rests his hands on his knees and breathes in deeply, releasing the breath more slowly than he took it in. He does not attempt to clear his mind as he usually does, rather he allows the thoughts and feelings of the night to flash over his consciousness like sharp bursts of color.

This leaves his hands shaking and he takes a deep breath, instead changing his tactic to one of viewing his emotions as physical objects. It is a meditation technique that was taught to him by his mother, one which was not particularly encouraged by Sarek. Spock picks up each emotional object in his mind and pictures himself running his fingers over it, feeling every aspect of it and then placing it in a box to organize and understand it.

It is an effective technique until Spock comes to the moment with Jim on the couch. He sees the clear image of him with bright eyes and a cheerful smile as he drinks his wine. He looks…beautiful. Spock runs his fingers over the memory and tries to evaluate what it was he was feeling in that moment before he made the mistake of leaning in and staking a claim to Jim’s lips.

It feels warm in his memory, glows gold and pink and every color of memory which he has never experienced. He knows logically that Jim could not have been shining quite so brightly, but in his memories of him, Jim seems to be the only source of light in the room. It makes no sense.

Spock mentally pushes the images of Jim away and focuses instead on his lesson plans for the next week.

~*~
“Looks like you managed to not die in the past two weeks. Congratulations.” Bones puts down his tricorder and pats Jim on the back softly. “You should be proud of yourself.”

Jim grins at Bones and pulls his shirt on to cover up his body that is growing thinner by the day and which has some blueish bruises near his ribcage. “Thanks, I worked really hard to not catch any more deadly diseases.”

Bones rolls his eyes and walks over to his computer, dictating the changes and plugging in the tricorder to do the rest of the work. “Well you did a bangup job. And your white blood cell levels seem to be back at a safe level, so that’s good. Your iron is a tad low, though, so make sure you eat more iron rich foods or I will put you on another supplement.”

“Whoopee.” Jim says sarcastically. “Did you ever get any info on that weird cold I had the other night?”

“You mean the one when Spock was over?” Bones asks with a raised eyebrow. “I think it might have just been a bad night. You know how you have those sometimes.”

Jim nods seriously. “Yeah. That one just came on so suddenly that I didn’t even realize it was happening.”

Bones frowns and taps a note into his computer. “Well, I’ll make a note of it and be sure to include some extra tests when we do your bloodwork, but I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. Wash your hands plenty and you should be able to minimize.”

“Brilliant.” Jim says sarcastically and he slides off of the biobed. “So am I free to go?”

Bones nods absently before suddenly snapping back and pointing sharply at Jim. “Now you listen up. Anything like the other night happens again, and you call me. There’s nothing too small to contact your doctor about in your situation, because you know how fast your state can change.”

Jim bites his lip and nods. “Yeah, I know.”

-

Eight days and Jim receives no contact from Spock. He thinks that he has finally put this to rest and is now in no danger of doing anything idiotic in regards to him anymore.

Something idiotic like kissing him, for example. When Jim woke up the morning after that night, hung over and with red rimmed eyes, he had hoped it was a dream.

Hoped, but knew that it wasn’t. Spock probably hates him after that stunt and while Jim should be happy that he does not have to be on guard at all times, trying to avoid romantic entanglements on his way out.

Still, Spock’s absence in his life is oddly tangible. Jim grew far too used to his presence in his life, the quick occasional messages, the way he cam somehow manage to sound so passionate while he speaks in that still Vulcan tone.

Jim shakes his head to clear his mind of those thoughts and focuses on the task at hand: making sure he looks presentable for this ‘party’ (the term being used very loosely) that he’s been invited to by Bones’ hospital.

He reties his tie for the fifth time and sighs at his reflection after shrugging on his navy blazer. He hates dressing up like this but at least it’s not another white tie charity ball where Jim is being made to speak and be paraded around as a ‘donor’ and not one of the hospital’s most important terminal patients. At least he has his privacy at these things, though. He is certain that the hospital would love for him to go public about his illness and would love to exploit him for it, but so far he’s simply been presented as a very generous donor to the hospital’s research center.

Which he can’t really argue with, he’s essentially donated his body.

He rolls up to the hotel ballroom half an hour late to find Bones standing on the curb, arms crossed over his chest and with a sour expression on his face. Jim grins and salutes him cheekily only to receive an eye roll. “Hey, Bones. Nice to see you too.”

“You promised you wouldn’t be late. My boss is up my ass thinking you’re going to bail.” Bones gripes and grabs Jim by the elbow.

“Geez, Bones.” Jim stumbles along beside his best friend, who seems like he’s about two seconds from bursting his ulcer. “I’m here, can we calm down?”

Bones just sighs and shakes his head in annoyance. Despite this, he does slow his pace minutely and loosen his grip on Jim’s arm. “My boss wants to kill me. There are a lot of important people in there.”

“Like, important important or rich important?” Jim pauses before entering the ballroom to fix his tie.

Bones shakes his head. “Both. Got the usual donors that we’re trying to get more out of and some ambassadors and stuff who are interested in the work.”

“Good, good.” Jim says absently. He rolls his shoulders and cracks his neck. “I assume I’m here to charm the pants off the rich ones?”

“Of course.”

With that, Jim gives a single nod and pushes into the ballroom with his press-face on. He grins and waves at a few people who stop and stare before winding over to the bar to get a much needed whiskey sour. If he has to charm people into giving money so that he can be maybe but probably not be cured, he’s going to need to be more drunk.

“James Kirk,” a voice croons from behind him and Jim turns around to find Aazstha, an Andorian socialite grinning at him lasciviously. “When will I get to steal you away from one of these things?”

Jim laughs hollowly and shakes his head. “Come on, Aazstha, from what I’ve heard about you, I would be a bore.”

They grin back at him and Jim feels a shiver run through his body. “Oh, don’t worry about that.”

Just as Jim is about to run for his life from that absolutely predatory look, a green hand appears out of nowhere and saves Jim. Gaila turns Aazstha away from him and smiles at them. “Dear, I do believe Captain Green was looking for you.” She says with a saucy wink and sends the Andorian on their way.

“Thank you.” Jim sighs and nearly kisses Gaila right then and there. He settles for winding an arm around her waist. “You saved me, babe."

Gaila giggles lightly and shakes her curls out. She smiles at one of the many very reserved older millionaires who’s staring at her in her glittering and figure hugging gold dress on the arm of James Kirk. The rumors that the two of them are together are very popular, he knows.

“Jimmy, you have to stop seducing these poor people.” She teases.

Jim squawks in protest and pinches her waist. “You know I don’t do it on purpose. They just find me.” He shudders and frowns at several of those same socialites and millionaires. “This is how I’m going to die.”

“Probably.” Gaila muses as she plucks a champagne glass off of a passing tray. She doesn’t sip it, just holds it mostly for looks, Jim knows. If Gaila is going to drink, it’s going to be something sweet and alien, not the sub-par champagne they serve here. “By the way, what’s up with the Vulcan ambassador’s kid over there? He was staring at you like he ate a lemon earlier.”

Jim’s stomach drops to his feet as he looks over at where she was gesturing and finds Spock sitting alone at a table but he recovers quickly with a shrug. “I think Vulcans look like that normally.”

Gaila shakes her head and frowns even deeper. Jim wonders if she could make it more obvious that she’s staring at Spock. “No, this is different. He looked genuinely upset.”

Jim steers her away from staring at Spock and shrugs again. “Come on, I find it’s best not to dwell on what Vulcans are thinking.”

Whether she agrees with him or can see that he simply does not want to talk about it, Gaila goes along with Jim and smacks a kiss on his cheek. “Oh, Jimmy. No wonder all these people adore you, you’re so sweet.” There’s an edge of sarcasm to her voice.

“Shut up.” Jim says but laughs anways.

The next hour of Jim’s life is spent with some of the most financially influential people in the federation, trying to get them to really care about the causes at hand and essentially reaching in their pockets for the money the hospital needs. Jim thinks bitterly that they should just donate without him flirting with them but he knows that’s not going to happen any time soon.

Gaila, thankfully, stays by his side the whole time. She accepts the pats and pinches that might otherwise have been directed at him and she even pulls a few glares at anyone that gets a bit too friendly.

“Gaila!” A clear and pleasant voice comes from behind the two of them and Gaila pulls away quickly. Jim turns to find his friend in an embrace with an older woman with headscarves on. She has warm eyes and a smile that speaks to more mischief that she would probably ever admit.

“Lady Amanda!” Gaila says once she’s pulled away and is grinning at her friend. “It has been too long! What brings you out here?”

Lady Amanda smiles and adjusts her scarves to cover the wisp of gray hair that has fallen out. “Oh, Sarek has to spend a short while on Earth and I decided to get away from that desert for a little while. I must admit that I’m finding it oddly cold, though.”

Gaila smirks at her and shakes her head. There is a sharp contrast between her and her revealing dress and curls, and the woman who is dressed so conservatively and beautifully that she looks almost Vulcan.

As soon as the thought passes through Jim’s mind, he knows who it is that Gaila is speaking to. He should have recognized from the name Amanda, if not Sarek, but somehow Jim managed to ignore those signs.

He wonders if Spock has told his parents about their acquaintance, about Jim’s obvious crush on him, about the fact that they kissed. He thinks dimly that this could come to a very awkward end if he does not leave before the two women remember that he is there.

He almost moves to leave but finds that Gaila is turning toward him with an outstretched hand. “This is my dear friend, Jim Kirk. You may have heard of his novel and short stories. Jim, this is Lady Amanda Grayson of Vulcan.”

Jim smiles at her unsteadily and Amanda puts a hand over her heart. “Oh my goodness, of course I know who you are! Your book is only the most popular thing in the federation at the moment. I absolutely adored it.”

A swell of pride balloons in Jim’s chest but is tempered by anxiety at getting to know Spock’s mother. “Thank you so much. It’s not often that one hears such high praise from someone from Vulcan.”

Amanda waves him off. “Oh, I’m not from Vulcan. I’m from San Francisco originally. I only married into Vulcan. My son, however, loves your book.” She glances around as though looking for said son and Jim briefly prays that there’s a sibling that Spock never mentioned.

“Oh, where is Spock? Gaila, have you seen him?” Amanda looks to the Orion, who shrugs. “Well, let me go find him. I’m sure he’d love to meet you. Don’t stray too far!"

She’s off before Jim can say anything and he’s left with a sense of despair at the inevitable meeting he’s about to have, lest he take the rudeness route. “How on Earth do you know the Vulcan Ambassador’s family personally?” He asks Gaila.

Gaila tuts and shakes her head. “My dear Jimmy, Earth had nothing to do with it, of course. We met at a gala for the Tellarite-Andorian treaty.”

“And you, being the social must-have of the federation, were invited of course.” Jim rolls his eyes at her and she grins in response.

“Yes, sir! It wouldn’t be a party without Gaila. You know that by now."

Another kiss gets smacked on Jim’s cheek and he can’t help but smile at his friend. “You want to come over tonight?”

Gaila pats his ass and nods casually. “Sure, what else do I have going on?”

“I’m so glad that sex with me elicits such an enthusiastic response from you, really.” Jim deadpans.

“Sleeping with you is always great but we’ve been doing this for long enough to not have to play that game, Jimmy. You just asked me to come and sleep with you with absolutely no seduction whatsoever. I can be less than super thrilled and turned on.”

“What if I say you can use the strapon?”

Gaila grins sideways at him. “Now that I can get excited about.”

Before the conversation can get anymore inappropriate for a hospital fundraiser, Amanda shows up again, this time with Spock in tow. “James Kirk, this is my son, Spock. He’s an English professor at Georgetown. Spock, this is that author you love.”

“Mother, it was you who introduced his work to me.” Spock responds and does not look at Spock.

Amanda laughs and waves her hands in front of her face. “Oh, bother, Spock. Can you at least appreciate that your mother was kind enough to bring you along tonight and you got to meet one of your favorite authors.”

“Thank you.” Spock says finally, his words accompanied by something that sounds an awful lot like a sigh. “I have, however, already made the acquaintance of Mr. Kirk.”

The formality stings uncomfortably but Jim can see the confusion on Amanda’s face, so he jumps in with, “We met at the conference in Chicago a few weeks ago.”

Amanda nods but glances between the two of them as if she expects that there is some omission to this story. Neither Jim nor Spock say anything, though, and Jim hopes that the subject will drop. “Well I’m sure you two are glad to see each other again, then.” Amanda says slowly.

Jim nods at the same time Spock inclines his head. “It is pleasing.”

Jim wonders if that rumor that Vulcans can’t lie is true. Part of him hopes so while the more rational part of him thinks it would be easier if it wasn’t. “Likewise.”

The silence that follows is pregnant and Gaila, being herself, saves them all from it. “Spock, how is Nyota? Is she still with Christine?”

Spock looks almost relieved to have this distraction. He angles his body toward Gaila and away from Jim. “She is quite well. Miss Chapel is moving in with her this weekend. If you would like to speak to them, I believe they are over by our table.” He gestures behind himself toward a table where an elegant dark skinned woman and her blonde counterpart are standing.

Gaila nods excitedly and takes hold of Amanda’s arm. “Come with me to go talk to them, won’t you?”

Jim curses his friend’s retreating back as she walks away and leaves him alone with Spock. Jim stares at his slightly scuffed black loafers next to Spock’s own perfectly polished pair. He considers how rude it might be if he just walked away right now. Spock would at least pretend to not be insulted, or worse, follow.

“James, I must apologize for my actions last week.” Spock says finally and it completely surprises Jim. “It was inappropriate.”

Jim gapes at him and snaps his jaw shut. “What? No, Spock, don’t apologize. We were both a little bit drunk. I’m just sorry that I freaked, it’s just that I’m really not looking for anything romantic right now.”

“Understandable.” Spock says finally, with an unidentifiable glint in his eyes. “I do hope that this does not come in the way of our acquaintance. I find that I rather enjoy conversing with you.”

It’s pretty high praise coming from a Vulcan, so Jim grins and nods. “Of course, Spock. I enjoy conversing with you as well.”

“How have you…been?” Spock asks as though uncertain that this is the correct phrase to be using in the situation.

Jim lets a small chuckle escape his lips and he takes a sip of his drink. “I’ve been busy. And yourself?”

“I have been agreeable.”

Jim stares into Spock’s dark eyes and suddenly the ballroom, grand and spacious, feels too small, too lacking in privacy. Jim swallows thickly and glances over toward the doors leading outside. “Do you want to go out to the balcony? It’s sort of stuffy in here.”

It’s a perfect temperature for a Vulcan, and Spock probably should deny him this when Jim just made such a big deal about avoiding romantic situations, but he nods nevertheless. “That is fine with me.”

There is a slight chill in the late September air as the wind whips across the balcony. Jim crosses his arms across his chest and leans on the railing, overlooking the large expanse of grass. The hotel is at the edge of the city, by a golf course, and the view is more empty than one an usually find in this century.

Spock lets out a breath and stands next to Jim, not leaning but rather keeping his posture carefully perfect. Jim turns to look at him and sees that he has his hands clasped behind his back in an almost militaristic stance. Jim wonders if that is a natural thing for Vulcans or if Spock is making an extra effort to control himself for some reason.

“Are you cold?” Jim asks for lack of anything to say.

Spock raises an eyebrow at Jim. “It is considerably more cool than the temperatures of Vulcan, but it is not unbearable.”

Before he has even finished speaking, Jim is shrugging his jacket off and holding it out to his friend. “Here, take this.”

Spock looks like he is about to deny the offer, but his fingers curl in the fabric, so close to Jim’s own that he thinks briefly that he can the feel the heat coming from the Vulcan. “Thank you.”

Jim feels his cheeks heat up and thanks the lord for the dim lighting outside. “It’s not a problem. What are friends for?”

The corner of Spock’s mouth lifts and Jim feels that same swooping sensation in his stomach that he did a week ago, but he reigns it back this time. He means it when he says he does not want a relationship, and he’s going to stick to that.

Spock puts the jacket on and it looks rather strange when paired with his formal Vulcan robes, but it makes Jim grin nonetheless and Spock makes no move to remove it.

“So, how’s work?”

“Good. I do have a freshman class and they are rather excitable but their enthusiasm when directed toward the works at hand is greatly appreciated.” Spock allows and the small expression on his face makes Jim laugh. “What?”

“I don’t know. I guess I just can’t imagine you dealing with a room full of eighteen year olds.”

“It must be a very amusing scene to imagine.” Spock says, “But these young adults are some of the brightest in the federation, as Georgetown has upheld its academic reputation throughout the centuries.”

Jim shrugs and faces the green again. “Yeah. I always wanted to go somewhere like there or Archer University on Rigella X but I was sort of a trouble maker in high school.”

“I find that hard to imagine.” Spock admits. “You seem to be quite mature.”

Jim laughs emptily and shakes his head. “That only really happened when I was about twenty two. When I was a kid…I was known to ruffle quite a few feathers.”

“In what way?”

Jim bites his cheek and looks out of the corner of his eye at Spock. He doesn’t know why he’s talking about this with Spock. He hardly ever talks about his childhood even with Bones, and he was there for part of it.

“Breaking rules, running away, getting in fights, and on a few occasions, convincing other kids to join me.” Jim tries to keep his voice even and unreadable. “A few barfights as I got older.”

“I would argue that some of the responsibility could be put on the adult who was meant to be in charge of you.”

“Some things are unavoidable.” Jim says with a shrug. Desperate to change the subject, he asks, “What were you like as a child? Just as stoic?”

Spock shakes his head and the smile on his face becomes slightly more noticeable. “No, I am afraid that compared to other Vulcan children, I was rather wild.”

“Oh?”

“My father especially did not appreciate it when I took to drawing Le-matyas on the living room walls in jam at age four.” Spock says with that same cool demeanor, but still with enough humor to make Jim laugh aloud. “It is only humorous now.”

“I can’t even imagine you as a kid. I just see like a shorter version of you now.”

“If I had a picture, I would show you.”

Jim glances back toward the ballroom. “I guess I’ll just have to get one from your mother.”

Spock nods solemnly and nearly sends Jim into yet another fit of giggles at his stoicism. Instead, he settles for looking at Spock with one hand propping up his head and smiling.

“How is your writing going?” Spock asks with genuine interest.

“It’s good, I guess. The novel is going to happen eventually…probably.” Jim says absently. He’s actually doubting whether he’ll actually be able to finish it before…

Before he loses.

“What is it about?”

“An uphill battle.” Jim answers surely. “This guy literally has no way to win and he has to decide what exactly it is that he’s prepared to sacrifice to make things right.”

“It sounds compelling.” Spock remarks, “What troubles are you having with it?”

Jim sighs and rubs a hand over his face. “The main character…he’s sort of selfish, you know? And I’m not sure what he really wants to do. He’s trying to protect all these people but it’s not really helping anyone.”

“Is he protecting himself?”

~*~

“I don’t particularly like your new friend.” Bones remarks while he pokes at the eggs in the pan. He frowns at them like they have personally offended him. “The Vulcan one.”

Jim snorts and frowns at Bones. “I don’t remember asking you if you liked Spock.”

Bones turns off the burner and loads the eggs onto two plates, piling jalapeno slices and cheese on top of them. He sets one in front of Jim. “Still, when I said you should find someone, I meant someone with feelings.”

“First of all, Spock isn’t someone, he’s my friend. Second, he totally has feelings.” Jim lists off with a mouthful of eggs. Bones frowns deeply at him and Jim wipes his mouth with his sleeve, which only elicits a deeper frown.

“Are you sure the two of you are just friends? It always seems like you camp out around each other and never pay attention to anyone else. It’s like you two are in your own little world.”

Just at that moment, Gaila comes strutting out of Jim’s room wearing one of his old University of Iowa shirts. She yawns and stretches her arms above her head. “He’s right, Jimmy. You and Spock sure do act a lot like a couple.”

Jim frowns at her and gestures to her partially clothed form. “Did you miss the part where we slept together last night? Where we’ve been sleeping together pretty regularly for the past few years?”

Gaila shrugs and steals his eggs right from under his nose. “I don’t know how your relationship works.”

“Oh my god.” Jim mutters under his breath before looking seriously at his friends. “Look, I know that you guys think I should be in a relationship, but I’m telling you it just wouldn’t work. I would only be hurting whoever the sorry soul that fell in love with me was, and I really don’t want to do that.”

Bones and Gaila exchange a look but nod all the same. “Okay, Jimmy.” Gaila says softly, brushing some hair away from his forehead as she does so.

“And Bones, I honestly don’t even know why you’re here.” Jim says lightheartedly, referring to the fact that his best friend let himself into the house this morning and started making food.

Bones shrugs and purses his lips. “I was bored.”

“Maybe you should get a girlfriend.” Jim suggests teasingly.

“Very funny, shithead.”

The rest of the morning follows in relative peace once Jim realizes he’s never going to get his food back and has to settle for eating jalapenos directly out of the jar since he’s too lazy to make more eggs.

At some point, he ends up with Gaila’s legs on his lap while she sprawls out on his couch watching TV and forces him into the corner of the couch. Jim rests his hands on her calves and absently traces circles onto the skin. He wonders vaguely what all the people who know Gaila only as a socialite and glittering star of the federation would think if they saw her now, with unwashed hair and no makeup, a beauty much softer dressed in Jim’s shirt and a pair of black shorts.

It’s so comfortable to be here, to just relax with people that he feels so comfortable with, and it makes Jim wish he could have a guarantee that none of it would go away.

He presses in slightly and watches the skin under his fingers turn a slightly darker shade of green as the blood rushes to the area, not a bruise by any means, just a change in color. “What’s on your mind, Jim?”

“Nothing, why do you ask?” Jim raises an eyebrow at his friend. “Don’t tell me this is another one of your plots to get Janice’s number.”

Gaila laughs delicately and sits up. She ties her hair into a ponytail while she responds, “No, if I’m going to get that, it’s going to be on my own terms. I was asking because you were doing that weird thing where you give me a footrub or something when you’re thinking.”

“I don’t do that.” Jim says defensively.

“Yes you do.” Bones chimes in from the other side of the room where he’s reading a medical textbook, of all things. “It’s frankly disturbing.”

“Well I’m not thinking about anything.” Jim snips. “Maybe I was just being a good friend.”

A harrumph from Bones before he goes back to hiding behind his text is all that Jim gets. Gaila, however, does not seem quite so convinced, and since it’s essentially his friends’ job to pester him, she presses further. “Are you sure there’s nothing wrong?”

Jim shrugs and twines his fingers together. “I guess I was just thinking about what it’s going to be like when…you know. Are you guys still going to hang out?”

Gaila glances to Bones, who looks at her like ‘you can deal with this one’ and Jim feels guilty. “Jimmy, you’re obsessed with this.”

“It’s sort of the biggest thing happening in my life, in case you hadn’t noticed.” Jim remarks. He knows he talks about it too much but what else is he supposed to think about?

“Well, don’t worry about us, Jimbo.” Bones chimes in. “We’re going to be just fine, eventually. We just want to make sure you don’t waste the time you have left.”

Jim looks down at his laced fingers and clenches his fists, making the thin white scars across his knuckles stand out sharply. He lets out a slow breath and blinks back the sharp tears behind his eyes. “You guys have fit your whole lives to mine. You’re going to have to adjust a lot.”

“And we’ll do it when we need to.” Gaila assures him. She reaches out and places a hand over his. “But not a second sooner. We’re here with you whether you like it or not."

“You shouldn’t have to be.” Jim mumbles under his breath but doesn’t move away.

A grunt comes from Bones across the room and the rustling of paper signifies that he has set down his book. Jim winces slightly but covers it up by running a hand through his hair. A sideways look at Gaila tells him it didn’t work.

“She might not have to be, but I do. Does ‘doctor’ mean anything to you?” Bones points a finger at him sternly. “And don’t go sayin’ you’d get a different doctor, ‘cause I’m the best there is when it comes to this and you ain’t getting anything less.”

His southern accent is thickened in the way it always is when he’s upset and it makes Jim’s spirits lift slightly that his friend could get so worked up over his health. “Wouldn’t dream of it, Bones.”

“Damn straight.”

Gaila grins at Bones and turns a softer smile on Jim. “And I’ve been here since we were fourteen. I’m not going anywhere.”

Jim can’t help but let the grin break across his face at that and he picks up Gaila’s hand to kiss it gently. “You’re the best, you know that?”

“Oh, she knows.” Bones says with a heavy sigh and an exaggerated eye roll. “Have you met our lovely miss Gaila?”

Gaila preens and nods rapidly. “I’m sort of awesome.”

“I was talking about both of you.” Jim says, knowing that Bones knew full well what it was that he was implying but was pulling his regular modesty nonsense. “Even if Gaila is the more fabulous of the two, obviously.”

Gaila flips her hair once more and returns to her stretched out posture on the couch. Jim smiles faintly and goes back to rubbing gently at her calves. “You really should give me Janice’s number, though.”

-

Jim’s hair shines almost golden in the sunlight while he struggles under the weight of his bags full of books while he makes his way back towards Spock’s car. He had called him this morning, saying that he owned no vehicle of his own.

Spock stays a few paces behind Jim and tries to keep himself from studying his form quite so intensely. There is no logical reason to do so, yet Spock cannot seem to refrain from tracing Jim’s slender form with his eyes.

The weight of the bags seems as though it should be too much for the young author. His arms are almost alarming thin and the bags are large, but he does not once ask for help from Spock, who is only carrying one novel himself and who could easily carry all that Jim has and more.

“Come on slowpoke!” Jim says with a note of panting in his voice, and Spock is tempted to offer his assistance, but as Jim has not asked, he refrains. Jim would surely make it known if he needed Spock’s help.

Spock increases his speed slightly to come to walk beside Jim, rather than behind him. Jim’s breath comes out in measured puffs much like those that athletes are trained to take. “James, are you quite all right?”

“What?” Jim looks at Spock with wide eyes that are so mixed that Spock cannot tell if he is surprised or frightened by Spock’s question. Neither makes much sense to him but Jim is the very essence of humanity, an essence which often escapes Spock’s comprehension. “Yeah, I’m fine. Why do you ask?”

“Your breathing has become quite labored, and as it is not hot and you have not engaged in any strenuous exercise, I am concerned.”

Jim smiles broadly but it does not reach his eyes. He shrugs minutely, as the bags weigh down his arms from doing any more. “Don’t worry about me, it’ll be alright.”
-

“As per your request, I asked Christine about McCoy.” Nyota says as she enters Spock’s office, a coffee mug in one hand and a smirk on her face. “And let me tell you, asking someone about their boss during sex? Real mood killer.”

Spock releases a breath out of his nose and inclines his head to indicate that she should get to the point. Nyota rolls her eyes at this and flips her hair over her shoulder.

“Anyways, she says he’s not a nutjob.” She says nonchalantly. “Despite what you seem to think about him, he looks like he’s a really upstanding kind of guy.”

Spock steeples his fingers and stares at his friend over them. “Still, I do not understand why Jim spends so much time interacting with him. James is intelligent and interesting while Leonard McCoy is irrational and mercurial. Their friendship does not make sense, by all accounts.”

Nyota sighs and sips her coffee with a pointed look at Spock. “You should just ask him on a date. Kirk, not McCoy, obviously.”

“I would not do that.” Spock says simply. It is true, what he feels for Jim is complicated and he does not believe that ‘asking him out’ as Nyota suggests could serve to alleviate any of those feelings. He tries to put them aside and finds success in meditation some nights, but it seems that even those small successes do not last and that he must find some other way to put this off.

Regardless of whether Spock could solve his problem by engaging in a romantic courtship with James Kirk, the man in question made it quite clear that he does not want to participate in such a relationship.

Nyota is studying Spock intently when he once more raises his eyes from his intertwined hands and she has a rather peculiar expression on her face. “You know, I have never seen you like this. You aren’t the type to be unsure.”

Spock disagrees with her internally but does not offer any protests. He simply tilts his head to the side and purses his lips. He is confused and finds himself often feeling like he is standing on uneven ground in this situation. “I know what my decision is. It is what Jim wishes and thus it is what I must desire as well.”

Nyota does not say more, though Spock can tell that she likely has a speech prepared in her mind.

-

“Run, dammit! Run!” The sound of feet pounding against dry and unstable ground echoes through Jim’s head while he pumps his legs beneath him. He looks over his shoulder to find some of the younger kids struggling to keep up. “Come on, run!”

He turns back against all of his better instincts and grabs the hands of two of the younger children. He drags them along beside him, unable to pick them up with his too-thin, too-weak arms. He can hear the sirens behind them growing fainter, the more distance they put between themselves and the warehouse.

It was supposed to be abandoned. There wasn’t supposed to be anything there besides a few scraps and maybe a few other refugees. There wasn’t supposed to be-

“Stop those kids, shoot if you have to! He doesn’t care!”

Jim sits bolt upright in bed, sweat beading on his forehead. He wipes an arm across it and it comes away nearly soaked. He closes his eyes only to have the visions of his dreams appear once more, and they fly open again. He rubs at them with a fist in an attempt to rid himself of those horrible memories to no avail.

The chrono beside his bed reads 0637. An hour and a half before his alarm would usually ring, but Jim gets out of bed anyways. He wouldn’t be able to sleep again after that kind of dream, anyways. He never does.

He isn’t sure if it’s just his exhaustion, but Jim finds it oddly difficult to grip the handle on his bedroom door. His body seems to be dragging even more than usual but he pushes it aside as simply being tired and up too early for someone who does not have anywhere to go until noon.

Jim is nearly out of breath by the time he walks across the first floor of his house from the guest bedroom (turned into the master last year) to the kitchen. Jim places his hot palms against the cool granite countertop and he bows his head, attempting to regulate himself once more.

He isn’t sure what’s happening. He hasn’t felt this awful in months. Bones’ voice echoes in the back of his head telling him to call but Jim brushes it off. He just woke up far too early after a nightmare. The confusion and weakness is probably from that. His therapist once did say he has PTSD, and that’s probably all that it is.

Jim sets about making coffee in his absolutely ancient and rare coffee maker. It’s the type that they used in the 20th and 21st centuries and there is something about the routine of making coffee rather than simply pressing a button to do it is very calming to Jim.

Not to mention that it tastes better.

Once Jim has finished his first cup of coffee and is feeling a tad bit more chipper, the comm unit on the wall of his kitchen beeps. ”Call for James T Kirk.” the female voice says.

Jim presses the button without looking at the screen to see who it might be and mutters. “Hello?”

“Jim, I must admit that I am surprised that you are awake.” The voice says coolly.

Jim furrows his brows, trying to place the voice. “I’m sorry, who is this?”

There is a pause on the other end of the line. “It is Spock.”

It seems so obvious now that Spock has identified himself. Hardly anyone that Jim knows of has a voice like that, and Jim had thought that he would have been able to pick out his friend in a crowd. “Oh, hey, Spock. Sorry, I’m just really tired.”

“Did I wake you?” The Vulcan sounds almost concerned and it makes Jim bite back a smile.

“No, Spock. I’ve been up for a bit. What do you need?”

“I have a favor to ask of you.”

Something twists inside of Jim’s stomach and he nods to himself. “Shoot.”

“I have had a cancellation by a guest lecturer and I was wondering if you would like to come in and speak to two of my classes? I could reimburse you if you wish.”

Jim nods again before realizing that Spock cannot see him. “Yeah, sure sounds good. What time?”

The sound of tapping on a padd comes through the comm. “Would you be able to come in at two o’ clock and stay until five?”

“Yeah, that sounds-ah!” Jim cuts off with a shout as a sharp stabbing pain shoots through his side. He pants and bends nearly completely in half, clutching at the spot.

“Jim, are you all right?” Spock sounds genuinely alarmed and almost human.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Jim pants. “I’m just-ah!” Another wave of pain shoots through him and he crumples to his knees. His vision starts narrowing at an alarming rate. “Spock…”

His vision narrows until there is nothing.

Chapter Text

Typically, when waking up in the hospital, Jim is greeted with one of two things:

1. An empty room
2. The scowling face of Leonard McCoy, MD

Neither of these are particularly pleasant, but Jim would choose them both in a heartbeat over the concerned Vulcan that Jim might be in love with who is currently asleep in a chair beside him.

Jim blinks blearily at the figure and tries to ignore the sinking feeling in his stomach. He has no idea why he’s here, has no idea why Spock is here, but he knows that there’s no way he can hide this anymore. Spock has to know that he’s sick now and that means that soon the whole federation is going to know.

He can’t be Jim Kirk, author, anymore. People are going to find out and soon he’ll be Jim Kirk, author with a Terminal Disease.

Author who was on Tarsus.

He never wanted to be that person. He never wanted to be anything like this, and he certainly never wanted Spock to know about it.

“Jim, you’re awake!” Christine Chapel sounds more cheerful than usual as she strolls into the room, padd in hand. Spock jolts awake in the chair.

“Hello, Chris.” Jim smiles at her. “Looking lovely today, aren’t you?”

“Well, obviously you’re feeling fine now.” Christine says and shakes her head, but Jim can see the slight smile tugging on the corner of her mouth. “Doctor McCoy will be in here any minute now.”

Jim relaxes his body and pointedly does not look at Spock. Christine records the measurements being taken down by the biobed and thankfully does not mention the presence of Jim’s visitor.

Once she has left, Spock shifts in his seat and Jim tenses in preparation for the inevitable questions. There is no way that he can brush this one off. Jim remembers collapsing. He knows that it was probably incredibly dramatic and that Spock has to have figured it out by now.

“Jim, I am glad that you are all right.” Spock says slowly. “I was most worried when I heard your exclamations over the communicator.”

“You sleep with your mouth open.” Jim says for lack of anything better, “You look…not Vulcan.”

Spock tilts his head to the side and raises his left eyebrow. He does not raise a hand to fix the bit of hair that is sticking up on the side of his head. “I am not Vulcan. I am half human.”

Jim rolls his eyes at him but is thankful that Spock did not see through his transparent attempt to change the subject. “Still, it’s different than how I normally see you.”

Spock looks significantly at Jim and he finds himself blushing and squirming under the attention. It feels like he’s a bug on a slide under a microscope and Spock is trying to figure out where he comes from and what’s going on with him.

Bones, ever Jim’s best friend in the whole world, enters the room and interrupts whatever moment was happening there. “It’s about time you woke up, dumbass.”

“Love you too.” Jim mumbles and settles back into the pillows. He turns his head in Spock’s direction and asks neutrally. “Would you mind giving me a moment with the good doctor?”

Spock opens his mouth slightly as if to say something to the contrary, but he snaps his jaw shut and inclines his head instead, “Of course.” He stands and turns to Bones, “You will ensure that he is cared for.”

Bones’ face colors and he clenches a fist. “Of course I will! What do you think I am?”

“I am merely concerned about your ability to remain calm and impartial.” Spock says with a raised eyebrow, hands clasped behind his back.

Bones makes a growling noise deep in his throat and purses his lips. “If you would leave me and my patient alone.”

Jim watches Spock go and waits until he is totally out of sight before turning on Bones. “What the hell is going on? Why is he here?”

“He heard you collapse while the two of you were talking, Jim. If it wasn’t for him, you’d probably be dead.” Bones fixes Jim with a significant glare. “He’s been here since he brought you in, and I just didn’t have the heart to turn him away.”

Jim bites his lip and looks down at himself. He hates the way his body looks in hospital beds: so small and much frailer than he used to be. “What happened? Does he…know?”

Bones shakes his head with a sad smile. “No, Jimmy, I didn’t tell him. Even if it wasn’t illegal, I’d still think that it was your right to divulge that sort of thing. All he knows is that you suffered sudden kidney failure.”

The diagnosis makes Jim’s heart drop. He knows that Bones probably fixed it, medicine has come too far to let something like kidney failure beat him, but it foretells something far worse. “Shit.” He breathes out.

“It doesn’t mean that you’re going to die tomorrow.” Bones reads his mind and attempts to soothe him.

“But it’s not good.” Jim finishes for him. “I mean, everyone else didn’t last much longer.”

“Kevin lasted three years.” Bones supplies but it doesn’t help Jim feel better to think about the friend he lost at the beginning of the year. “And Mara is still kicking.”

Jim nods and sucks his lip further into his mouth. “Spock’s gotta be wondering what’s wrong with me. People’s kidneys don’t suddenly fail for no reason.”

“I won’t deny that he has seemed rather curious, the bastard.” Bones snorts and shakes his head. “I’ve had to practically kick him out of here a fair few times over the last three days.”

Jim closes his eyes and shakes his head. “Three days, I lost three days.”

“I know it bothers you, Jim.” Bones puts a hand on his shoulder comfortingly. “But you lost three days in a situation where you could have lost all of them. You came out on top here, and it’s all thanks to that boy out there, who I think might be sweet on you somethin’ terrible.”

“Thanks for that, Great Aunt Lenora.” Jim rolls his eyes and folds his arms across his chest.

-

The plot of Desert Lemons is one which captured Spock’s attention immediately. Rather than the usual dystopian society novel with a heroine who rails against the government, Jim’s novel told the story of a young woman, Alma, living on a barren planet with a corrupt government, who sought only to care for her own family, choosing in the end to focus on them rather than the ‘greater cause.’

Many critics thought that Alma was too complacent in her situation, but Spock disagreed. Her story was one of hating the world in which she lived, but having priorities in order which caused her to focus on much ‘smaller’ problems. She was willing to die for her family, doubting her own worth to them as equal to their worth to her.

Spock read the book for the first time two years ago. His mother sent it to him with an excited message, claiming that it was fantastic. He read it to humor her at first, but soon became enraptured. James Kirk’s writing style was casual and poetic at the same time, finding a perfect balance between the two to paint a beautiful world and complex characters. He immediately added it to his modern Terran literature course.

The struggles of the characters in the novel seemed to be simple fictional. There were some similarities between the story and some historical events, but never once did Spock think that Jim might have faced anything similar to them.

Spock looks into the window of the hospital room to see Jim laying there speaking to Leonard McCoy. Perhaps Spock was mistaken.

-

When Spock re-enters the room at Bones’ bidding, Jim almost wants to send him away again. He swallows the terror in his stomach and forces a grin onto his face. “Hey there, sorry for sending you out into the hall.”

“It was no problem, you would obviously like to speak to your physician privately.”

“I bet you’re wondering what’s wrong with me.”

“I do not believe that there is anything ‘wrong with you,’ as you say.” Spock starts, “But yes, it is true that I was wondering what it is that is ailing you physically.”

Jim stares at him with wide eyes and steels himself, trying desperately to build up the courage. He has to tell Spock what’s wrong with him. The guy sat by his side for three days, he deserves to know. “I’m sick. Like, really sick.”

Spock moves to sit in the chair once more. His face flickers with something that is devastating to Jim. “Jim?”

“It’s Xenoerythematosus.” For once in his life, Jim does not feel that using the colloquial name of the disease is the right course of action.

“Tarsus-Forge disease.” Spock supplies with an exhale.

Jim nods. “You know it.”

Spock continues looking down at his hands and does not make any physical gesture to confirm this. “It was first found in the animals of the Forge region of Vulcan and was believed to have been carried over accidentally by some of the first researchers on Tarsus IV.”

“And nobody knew humans could get it until after that whole fiasco.” Jim lets out a humorless chuckle, though his chest feels empty because Spock won’t look at him.

Spock finally raises his head and Jim notices that his eyes are shining oddly. “Fiasco seems to be an understatement.”

“I was there, I know it’s an understatement.”

It hangs in the air between them, almost tangible in the sterile hospital air. Spock stares at Jim openly and for once, Jim does not feel uncomfortable under the scrutiny. He has finally been honest with Spock about what is going on with him. Now it’s up to Spock whether he wants to leave now or later.

“I had no idea.”

Jim laughs aloud at Spock’s simple response. “Of course you didn’t. That was the whole point of keeping it a secret. I mean, honestly, do you think that I would want to be the Tarsus poster child?”

“No, of course you would not want that.” Spock hurriedly corrects. “I simply meant to say that this comes as quite a shock to me.”

“And if that wasn’t bad enough, I had to find out seven years later that I’m dying because of it. It’s been a blast, honestly.”

Spock appears taken aback by Jim’s sarcasm and he can tell that the Vulcan does not know what to say in response. It is a human action that requires a human response and Spock has never been talented at coming up with those. “Jim, I hope that I can be a source of support for you.”

This sets Jim off balance. He stares openly at Spock and frowns. “What?”

“I expressed that I wish to be able to offer you support in this time of great need.”

“So…you’re not leaving?”

Spock pauses and studies Jim’s face intently. “I do not believe that I could.”

“Don’t promise anything that you can’t be sure of.” Jim snorts and closes his eyes against the tears that threaten to flow. This is the end, whatever Spock might believe right now.

Spock reaches out and surprises Jim by resting his hand on top of Jim’s. Jim feels a shock of warmth radiating from the spot and he almost draws away from it. “Jim, I do not understand it, but I find myself to be quite devoted to you. I cannot leave.”

“That doesn’t sound very Vulcan of you.”

Jim watches as Spock’s mouth turns up slightly and his eyes color with warmth. “It is not anything that I was taught on my homeworld, but it is true, and to deny the truth is the height of illogic.”

Jim can do nothing but stare. “Everyone leaves me, Spock. Everyone that I have ever loved left me and what do I have then? Nothing.”

The words that Jim denies so vehemently hang in between the lines and Jim is sure that Spock heard them loud and clear. Jim loves Spock. He knows that he loves this man who has so often been labeled a child of two worlds, never to fit in anywhere, but who seems to be perfectly made for Jim’s.

Jim does not know if he can resist that pull anymore.

-

“Jim, you scared the shit out of me.” Janice is, of course, already speaking while she walks into the room. She has her padd in her hand and does not need to look up while she moves across the room to sit in the chair that Spock had previously been occupying.

The Vulcan left an hour ago and Jim is still reeling from their conversation, unsure of what to believe.

“So you do care about me.” Jim focuses his attention on his assistant. He grins at her and bats his eyes. “I thought this day would never come.”

Janice rolls her eyes and continues tapping away at her padd. “I was worried about my job security. If you die now, I’m out in the cold.”

“You know that you’re in my will, dear.” Jim teases, though it is true. He has arranged to leave Janice a considerable amount of his estate. He has not informed her quite how much, for fear of incurring her wrath.

Janice looks up through her lashes suspiciously and purses her lips at Jim. “You probably did something really stupid there, but I’m not going to ask.”

“That’s probably for the best.”

“Idiot.”

“I pay your bills.”

“Rich idiot.” Janice counters easily and smirks at Jim’s frown.

Jim shifts in the biobed, already feeling far more energized than he did when he woke up confused and lost. “You really don’t have to be so cruel.”

Janice raises an eyebrow at him as if not entirely sure whether he’s joking or not. She puts her padd down in her lap. “Can I get Gaila’s number?”

Jim’s jaw drops open. Gaila has been chasing Janice since Jim hired her, and he never would have expected Janice to be the one to make the first real move. “What happened to Heather?”

“Decided that serious relationships really weren’t her speed.” Janice says with a shrug. From any other girl, Jim would think that she was covering up her real feelings, but with Janice, Jim knows better. “I think it’s time I gave our girl a chance.”

Jim grins broadly at her. “I knew you were holding out! I knew you liked her!” He shrieks and claps.

“Shut up.”

“I am the best boss ever, setting you up with love.” Jim draws out the ‘o’ of ‘love’ and makes Janice roll her eyes once more, much to his glee. “I should give myself a raise.”

“Speaking of love,” Janice starts and Jim groans at what he knows is coming. “What happened with lover-vulcan?”

“He’s not my lover.” Jim mumbles. “But yeah, he was here when I woke up. And we…talked.”

“And he knows now.” Janice finishes for him. “And he isn’t pulling a Ruth.”

This is probably one of those reasons to never get drunk with your employee. On Jim’s birthday, Janice brought over a bottle of vodka and some cranberry juice and she, Bones, Gaila, and Jim all got drunk together and Jim spilled the story of his college girlfriend who he thought was going to marry him, but who left because she couldn’t deal with being with someone who had an expiration date.

He doesn’t blame her in the least for taking care of herself, but it gave him the biggest warning possible: that people don’t want to be with someone who is falling apart.

“How do you know that?” He asks genuinely. Never has he felt more unsure about anything.

Janice brushes the hair from Jim’s head and doesn’t even cringe at how greasy it inevitably is. “Oh, Jimmy. How can you not see how in love with you that poor man is?”

Jim flushes and picks at his cuticles. He shakes his head. “Don’t do this, Jan. You know it’s only a matter of time.”

“I’m still here, Leonard isn’t leaving, neither is Gaila. I think it’s time to consider that maybe Spock wants to stick around too.”

~*~

Spock lets Jim hold his elbow while he crosses the threshold carefully. He seems unstable on his feet, but Spock supposes that it is one of the side effects of laying in a bed for multiple days.

He knows that he should not be as concerned as he is for Jim, as the man has certainly had experience dealing with his illness for far longer than Spock has known about it. Jim has known about this for five years, has been sick for twelve. Spock only learned of it yesterday.

Still, he cannot help but reach a hand to rest on the small of Jim’s back to assist him however he can.

Jim stops once they reach the kitchen and sniffs audibly. He wrinkles his nose and lets a low growl out of the back of his throat.

Spock takes a sniff but finds nothing unpleasant in the air. If anything, it smells of lemon. “What is the problem?”

“Gaila.” Jim says darkly. He separates himself from Spock and goes about opening his fridge and cabinets, all of which are immaculate. “Every time I end up in the hospital, she cleans my whole house and-“ He opens the freezer, “Yea, there are the casseroles. She’s always trying to mother my and fix me.”

Spock watches as Jim stalks around his house, wrenching open drawers and frowning at his newly organized bookcase. Never has Spock seen someone so upset over the fact that someone took the time to clean and organize their belongings for them. He would say that it is human, but he knows that is not quite true. It is…Jim.

“She’s been doing this since I was fourteen.” Jim takes some books off of the case and puts them on the table, with no clear intention of reading them at the moment. “It drives me crazy.”

“I was not aware that the two of you had been friends for quite so long.”

Jim flicks his head toward him as though surprised at his presence. “What? Oh, yeah. We’ve known each other longer than I’ve known Bones.”

Spock tilts his head to the side. It seems an unlikely alliance to make so young. “How did the two of you meet?”

“Well, you know how Gaila is so open about her history.” Jim speaks as he goes about creating small messes. “She was a slave who stowed away on a starship when she was a young girl, and when the man who owned her found out-“ Jim shudders as he speaks of the ownership of his friend. “It wasn’t good. So that captain, who still hasn’t been named, actually bought her and set her free here on Earth, and she got adopted by a very wealthy family, which gives us the fabulous Gaila that we have today.”

Spock nods in agreement. “She is a rather remarkable anti-slavery activist, as well as being very beautiful.”

Jim grins. “I know, she’s so awesome. But anyways, when she was first freed on this Earth, she was put into a group therapy thing for teens. And guess who had just gotten back from Tarsus and needed serious mental health?” Jim smiles tightly and points at himself. “Yeah, well, we met there and sort of bonded, because we both were uncomfortable with the situation. And I haven’t been able to shake her since.”

Spock feels something twist in his chest. “That sounds like it was very difficult.”

Jim shrugs flippantly and does not look up from where he is messing up the pillows on his couch. “Yeah, it was hell. But we got through it, didn’t we? And Gaila’s awesome.”

“Did the other children in the group know why each of you were in there?”

Spock can see Jim’s back tense up slightly. “No, we didn’t have to tell if we didn’t want to, and I didn’t really trust anyone, so I didn’t.” He grips the pillow in his hands more tightly. “But some of them…I knew them. I recognized them, recognized the circles under their eyes, the way their bones would jut out even under baggy clothes and thick sweaters. And I knew that they knew me too.”

Jim pauses and takes a shaky breath. “We never spoke to each other.”

This surprises Spock. As withholding as Jim can be, Spock had thought him to be the kind of man to share his feelings with those having similar experiences. “Did you speak to any of the other…survivors?”

He loathes using that word in relation to this man. It almost seems like he is reducing him to something less than what he is.

Jim nods and sits down on the couch. He looks up at Spock and his eyes are glistening. “Yeah, Kevin Riley was this little kid who I sort of adopted on Tarsus. He was a sweet kid and a great friend. I used to talk to this girl Mara for a while but we’ve lost contact.”

“Was?” Spock cannot help but note the past tense in relation to the friend.

Jim holds the pillow closer to his chest. “He was like me, one of the two-fifths of the survivors that got the disease. He died in January.”

Spock can think of nothing appropriate to say to heal those wounds, so he settles for placing a hand on Jim’s back and rubbing circles, much as Amanda used to do for him when he was a child and lost control of his emotions.

“Fuck, I still can’t believe he’s gone. He had so much going for him, you know? Smart as hell and so handsome. He could’ve been something great, always wanted to join Starfleet, but he never got the chance.” Jim shudders and arches his back so that he is pressing into the touch Spock offers. “I used to sing him to sleep. He was so small and so afraid. He just wanted his parents, but they were gone, so I sang to him every night.”

He curls in toward Spock, so that he is nearly sitting on his lap. Jim’s knees are pulled up until he can rest his chin on them and Spock winds his arm around so that he is holding him against himself tightly. Jim’s body shakes lightly and Spock can tell that he is trying to hide his tears. “There is nothing you could have done.”

Jim nods against him and Spock feels it more than sees it. “I know. That makes it worse.”

It is not surprising. Jim Kirk has shown himself to be stubborn and determined. For anything to be outside of his control must be extremely frustrating. The Vulcan concept of Kaiidth would be incredibly difficult for him to grasp.

There is no bond between them and no meld is taking place, but Spock does all that he can to focus his energy on sending waves of calm and peace into Jim’s mind. He focuses on his own most peaceful memories and attempts to transfer those emotions to Jim.

He believes that it must work, because Jim’s breathing evens out slowly and he ceases shaking. His fingers grip into the front of Spock’s tunic gently and a few more sniffs come out. “Sorry about that.” He mumbles into Spock’s chest.

“Apologies are unnecessary.” Spock responds surely. Never before has he felt so comfortable with intense displays of emotion, but Jim brings something to life inside of him that he has never before felt. He wishes only to assure that Jim does not hurt for longer than necessary.

Jim pulls back and looks at Spock with wide shining eyes. Spock becomes hyperaware of the fact that they are scant inches apart. Jim licks his lips slowly and blinks. Spock watches the way his thick eyelashes fan over his cheeks.

“I feel safe with you.” Jim admits in a whisper. “Please don’t leave.”

“I have already told you that I cannot.”

With that, Jim moves forward to press their lips together in a soft kiss. He moves slowly against Spock, who reacts in kind. Jim’s grip on his tunic grows stronger and he presses himself toward him. Spock licks across the seam of Jim’s lips by pure instinct and Jim opens his mouth with a gasp.

Behind Spock’s eyelids is an explosion of color the likes of which he has never before experienced. Jim’s presence is strong in his mind and seems to be desperate to get closer to Spock and desperate to never let him leave. Spock pushes back thoughts of devotion as he covers Jim’s hands with his own.

The light behind his eyes glows gold and Spock cherishes it for as long as he can before Jim must pull away for breath.

Jim’s lips are swollen and pink and there is a faint blush high on his sharp cheeks. He moves to twine his hands with Spock’s. He rubs his fingers against the length of the Vulcan’s and Spock shivers. “James, are you aware of what you are doing?”

Jim’s smile is nearly devious as he nods. “I have some idea.”

Spock leans down to capture Jim’s with his own, this time with more force. He keeps one hand connected with Jim’s and cups Jim’s face with the other, tilting his head into an angle at which he can get his tongue deeper into his mouth. Jim gasps under the attention and quickly sets about sucking on Spock’s tongue.

When they finally break once more, Jim is grinning. “Stay here tonight.”

Spock’s mouth falls open. “Jim, I do not wish to move too quickly.”

Jim chuckles and shakes his head. “That’s not what I meant. Just…stay here. Stay with me.”

~*~

Jim wakes up with a cool body wrapped around his own. He traces the knuckles spattered with dark hair and smiles to himself. These are Spock’s hands. Spock is in his bed.

They didn’t sleep together. As much as Jim would like to someday get there, he knows that neither of them are ready for that. There is still so much to talk about.

But last night was amazing, for lack of any better word. They talked all night and kissed and Spock held Jim until he fell asleep. It was everything that he had when he was with Ruth, and more. It is so much more.

Spock is safety and devotion. Being with Spock feels dangerous and like crossing all of the boundaries that Jim set so carefully for himself, but it also feels right. Jim burrows further into Spock’s arms and hums contentedly.

“You are awake at last.” Spock murmurs softly into Jim’s ear.

Jim smiles and laughs. “How long have you been up?”

“Three-point-four-five hours.” Spock responds and makes Jim laugh again.

“You’ve been up for three and a half hours? And you didn’t move?”

“I did not want to wake you.” Spock says as if it should be obvious.

Before Jim can turn around and kiss the breath out of Spock, his bedroom door opens, making him scream and jump out of bed.

“Well, look what we have here.” Janice says with an obvious smirk. “I wish I could say I was surprised.”

“Oh my God.” Jim groans and flops back down onto the bed, careful not to elbow Spock on his way down. “I forgot you were coming over this morning.”

Janice walks into the room and primly sits on the edge of the bed. “Well, as you are paying me to stay upstairs and make sure Spock here doesn’t need to race over again, yeah. I’m here.”

Spock raises an eyebrow. “She is living with you?”

“Yeah, she’s going to be staying in the guest room so that I don’t have another collapse when there’s nobody around.” Jim rubs a hand over his face and waves at Janice. “So here she is, ruining my life.”

“That’s what I’m here for, dear.” She pulls a tube of chapstick out of her purse and tosses it at him. “Here, you’re looking chapped.”

Jim knows exactly what she’s implying and he huffs loudly. “Geez, Mom you’re embarrassing me.”

Spock remains silent through the interaction, though he does look mildly amused. Jim turns the frown on him just for good measure.

“I’m going to get donuts. Make sure you’re decent when I get back.”

“We’re decent now!” Jim shouts at her as she walks out. He lays back and shakes his head at the ceiling. “I need a new assistant.”

-

“We didn’t sleep together.” Jim tries to make it sound nonchalant while he and Janice are in his kitchen together, Janice chopping onions because Jim is too much of a wimp to do it himself. Spock left hours ago to go teach and now all Jim has to do is watch Janice do things.

Janice stills her movements and nods. “I know. You were both totally clothed, and you may be a slut, but you’re not that much of a slut.”

“I really care about him.”

Janice hums and nods again. “I know. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t have been so careful for so long.” She taps Jim on the forehead with her pointer finger. “You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.”

“You are truly ancient.”

Janice shrugs and returns to chopping her onions. “How are you feeling, by the way?”

Jim leans forward onto his arms and shakes his head slightly. A slight yawn escapes his lips. “Tired. Weak. The usual, you know.”

Janice glares at Jim with heavy scrutiny, like she knows that he’s understating everything just to get her off his back. She thankfully does not say anything about it.

“Jim! You already messed up your house!” Gaila’s voice echoes through the house. “I spent a whole day cleaning.”

Jim tilts his head back and stares imploringly at the ceiling. “Gaila, you don’t live here.”

But Janice is smirking and Jim knows what’s probably about to happen, so he goes along with his ridiculous life for once. “We’re in the kitchen.”

Gaila enters and hesitates for a split second when she sees Janice. She smiles shyly and waves with her fingers. “Hey, Jan.”

Janice smirks and jerks her head in greeting. “Hello, Gaila dear.”

“So you spoke last night, I’m assuming.” Jim interjects if only to break up the middle school flirting that is happening. He looks between the two girls, who are both beaming at each other and blushing. “Goodness gracious.”

“Shut up, this is what we had to deal with with you and Spock.” Gaila flaps a hand in Jim’s direction to silence him. “But yes, we talked.”

Janice inhales deeply, rolls her shoulders, and walks over to Gaila determinedly. Jim watches as she gathers the other woman’s face in her hands and pulls her in to kiss her.

Gaila makes a surprised sound and wraps her arms around Janice’s shoulders, finally melting into the kiss. Jim starts to feel uncomfortable watching, so he slips off of his stool and slides out of the room hopefully unnoticed.

His plan apparently fails, however, because it’s only a few seconds before Janice yells, “Don’t worry, food’ll be ready soon enough!”

-
She walks in when Jim is just about to finish answering questions and wrap up this guest-lecturer gig. He keeps his smile plastered on his face even as the totally intimidating woman enters the room and leans up against the wall with a smirk on her face.

He finishes and watches the students file out of the hall, there were so many in there that some had to sit on the ground, and he still does not look at her.

He sits heavily on the stool near the front of the room and smiles at the last few students. Spock comes up behind him and hands him a water bottle. Jim rests his weight with a hand on his knee. “Thanks.”

“How are you feeling?” Spock asks, a note of concern in his voice. He must have noticed the way Jim was wavering near the end of the hour.

Jim sighs and wipes at the slight sheen of sweat on his forehead. “Tired. How did I do?””

Spock holds his two fingers out to Jim. “You did wonderfully.”

Jim smiles and presses his fingers to Spock’s. Out of the corner of his eye he can see the scary woman approaching them. “So, this is the famous Jim Kirk.” She remarks with a grin.

Jim nods and pulls his hand away from Spock’s. “The one and only.”

“Nyota Uhura.” The woman extends a perfectly manicured hand. “I teach linguistics here and am Spock’s best friend. I’m the girl who’ll kick your ass if you break Spock’s heart.”

Jim’s stomach drops to his feet. He can’t help the fact that he’s going to break Spock’s heart. There is no avoiding the fact that someday soon, Jim is going to die, and if what Spock feels for him is anything like what Jim feels for Spock, it can only hurt.

“I’ll try not to.” He says with fake cheerfulness and a grin. Spock’s hand is still on his back, grounding him.

“Nyota, there is no need to terrify my beloved.” Spock chides his friend. She responds with a grin and by flipping her ponytail.

Nyota Uhura is apparently afraid of no one. “Please. It’s basically my job. He should know that if he ever hurts you, he’s a dead man.”

“Nyota.” Spock says with a warning tone to his voice. “I am telling you to stop.”

Jim holds his breath. He should not be here. He shouldn’t be causing strife between two people who are obviously very close. Nyota is right, nobody should hurt Spock. He deserves someone who will love him for years to come

He deserves more than what Jim is able to offer. “I should go.”

Spock raises both eyebrows and turns his full attention to Jim. “Why?”

Jim stands from the stool and hides the way he wavers by holding onto Spock’s bicep. He doesn’t think it works on Spock. “I’m tired. And I was gong to try to get some work done.”

Nyota narrows her eyes at Jim. “Well alright then. It was nice meeting you, Jim.”

“And you as well.” He responds with an easy grin and a wave. “You’re the one who’s dating Chapel, right? We should double date.”

Nyota responds by narrowing her eyes and nodding slowly. “Sounds like fun.”

She turns on her heel and marches out of the room, skirt swinging around her legs. Jim feels a strange feeling of impending doom.

Spock clears his throat. “That was interesting.” He says slowly.

“I think the word you’re looking for is ‘fiasco.’” Jim supplies helpfully.

Spock nods in agreement. “Yes, I do believe that is fitting.”

Jim smiles sadly at Spock and grips his bicep more tightly. “I’m sorry I messed that up.”

“It is not solely your fault.” Spock says thoughtfully, staring down into Jim’s eyes. “She was acting rather emotional.”

“She should. She’s your best friend.”

“She should support me.” Spock counters easily. “She has never been quite so hostile to any of my previous romantic partners.”

“Previous romantic partners?” Jim clutches a hand over his heart in mock shock. “You mean I’m not your first love?”

Spock shakes his head and cups Jim’s face in one of his hands. “I did not say that.”

For once in his life, Jim does not fear for his life when his heart flutters.

-

The last time that Jim Kirk drank wine in Spock’s presence, he told him that they should not kiss again. He pushed Spock away and told him that they would never be anything.

Tonight, Jim is smiling softly at him and keeps brushing their fingers together across the table. He even goes so far as to trail his fingers up Spock’s wrist, pushing up the sleeve of his sweater (a necessity in the DC fall for a Vulcan).

“Jim.” Spock says finally, and the other man looks up at him with wide false-innocent eyes. “You know what you are doing.”

Jim closes his mouth slowly over his spoonful of Tiramisu and nods. He closes his eyes and hums at the taste. “I think we should go home.”

It makes sense, once Jim has admitted it. Human males are known for having high libidos and Jim appears to be no different. As they have been engaged in a romantic relationship for two weeks and have yet to consummate that relationship, Jim must be feeling the tension from being ‘horny’ for so long. Spock smiles. “Do you not wish to stay and finish your dessert?”

Jim groans softly and shakes his head. “Rather have you for dessert.”

A shiver of arousal runs down Spock’s spine as he watches the way Jim’s pupils are blown and he feels the way Jim drags his nails across Spock’s knuckles. “Very well.”

The drive to Jim’s house is tense, with Jim looking at Spock constantly and licking his lips. Spock can feel his own arousal growing under the attention.

Once inside the door, Jim pushes Spock against the wall and sets to work devouring his mouth. Jim moans wantonly into his mouth, causing Spock to push him away in surprise. “Are you not concerned that Janice might hear us?”

Jim shakes his head with a lascivious grin. “She’s not here. I told her that you would be here to watch me.” He says simply before diving in to suck at bite at the juncture of Spock’s neck and shoulder. It makes it quite difficult to think straight.

“Is that why I am here? To watch you?” Spock asks.

Jim pushes away and leans up against the opposite wall of the hallway. “Only if you want to.” He trails a hand down his body and grips at the bulge in his dark pants. He lets out a moan that causes warmth to rush to Spock’s groin. Jim continues grinding into his own palm. “Feels so good.”

Spock’s mouth falls open as he watches the display but Jim soon stills and his eyes open slowly. “Would feel better if it was you.” He grabs Spock’s hand and presses it to his erection. “So good.”

Spock moves forward quickly to press Jim against the wall with his entire body. He grabs his hands and slides them up until they’re above both of their heads, their fingers entwined. The feeling of Jim’s fingers rubbing against his own is almost enough to drive Spock absolutely to distraction, but he maintains his composure long enough to grind down into Jim and take complete control.

“Bedroom.” Jim gasps out between kisses and pushes them both away from the wall. He moves quickly to pull their fingers apart so that he can grab Spock’s tie and drag him to his bedroom. Spock follows willingly, completely enraptured by Jim and the feelings he evokes in him.

Jim ssinks to his knees once they are in his room and wastes no time unbuckling Spock’s belt. He rubs the bulge in Spock’s pants with a grin. “Want you so bad.” He murmurs while he pulls Spock’s pants down over his legs and Spock steps out of them helpfully.

He nuzzles into Spock’s underwear, mouthing at his length through the black cotton boxer briefs and moaning softly so that Spock thinks he might go insane. “Jim.” He croaks out, just barely hanging onto his control. “Please.”

Jim finally, finally hooks his fingers in the waistband of Spock’s waistband and pulls them down quickly. Jim sits back on his heels for a moment as though to enjoy the sight of Spock’s erection. He licks his lips slowly and smirks up at Spock before reaching forward and taking the tip in his mouth.

He suckles and licks there for a minute before Spock finally grabs his hair and tries to thrust forward to get deeper, but Jim stops him with a tight grip on his hips. He pulls off with a pop. “No, I want you coming in me.”

Spock hauls Jim onto his feet and only lets him stand there for a moment before lowering him onto the bed. Jim looks surprised as Spock takes off his pants and underwear at the same time. He wastes no time in stripping Jim of his clothes, using his superior Vulcan strength to lift him and maneuver him how he needs. Jim, once he’s stripped completely, wraps his hands around Spock’s shoulders and sucks bruising kisses into his neck. Spock knows that it will certainly leave a mark, but he does not care.

“Lubrication.” Spock manages to say at least that in his compromised state. Jim nods and fumbles at the drawer of his bed side table. He throws the tube at Spock and leans against the pillows and lets his legs fall open.

Spock can tell that Jim is self conscious about how thin he looks, can see it in the angles of his body, so he takes a moment to kiss his chest and murmur, “Beautiful.” Jim relaxes under him then and Spock feels a rush of joy.

He captures one of Jim’s nipples in his mouth while he sinks a slick finger slowly into Jim’s hole. Jim whimpers under the attention and arches up into Spock’s mouth when he crooks his finger to find that nub inside of him.

“More. Need more.” Jim gasps and Spock responds in kind, pulling out and this time sinking two fingers in. He scissors them slowly and watches Jim’s face as he writhes in pleasure. Spock feels himself hardly holding on by a thread when he feels Jim’s sides flutter around his sensitive fingers. It is almost like he is inside Jim and himself at the same time, and he nearly loses himself in the feeing.

Once he has worked three fingers in, Jim seems to be absolutely falling apart under the attention. He gasps and grabs at Spock’s arm tightly. “Please. Need you.”

Spock pulls his fingers out and Jim whimpers at the loss. His whimper turns into a long moan when Spock lines his member up with Jim’s hole and sinks in slowly. He grips Jim’s hips tightly and loosens his grip to marvel at how thin and seemingly frail he is. He slows his movement slightly.

Jim finally groans frustratedly and takes control by grabbing Spock’s hips and pulling him in to the hilt. “I’m not going to break.” He says firmly. “Don’t worry.”

Spock gives him a moment to adjust before he follows Jim’s instructions and not holding back when he pulls out and snaps his hips back into Jim. This causes the other man to scrabble and grip at his shoulders, finally raking his fingers down his back.

Spock lets out a guttural moan at the feeling of Jim around him and pushes as deep into him as possible. Without thinking, he raises one hand to Jim’s face and arranges his fingers onto those familiar points. He pushes forward until that golden light seems to be enveloping them both.

He realizes that he is forming a meld and gasps, going to pull away, but Jim’s hand covering his own stops him. “Do it.” Jim commands, looking him in the eye.

With that consent, Spock pushes once more until he is inside Jim’s mind. He is suddenly filled with arousal, desire, pleasure, and desperation all at once. It is nearly overwhelming for him to feel but it is also addicting. It feels like penetrating and being penetrated all at once, and the dual sensations send him into a frenzy, pounding into Jim with abandon. He reaches down with his free hand and grips Jim’s cock, amazed at the burst of pleasure that radiates from that.

He thrusts in and Jim clutches at his shoulders, lifting himself off of the bed and holding onto Spock like a lifeline. Spock thrusts once more into Jim before feeling himself release inside of him. He pumps Jim’s member a few more times before he is coming over his fist and painting their chests with his release.

Spock almost doesn’t hear him gasping out, “Love you.” As he rides the aftershocks, and Spock drops his hand from his lover’s face in surprise. He leans down and kisses him soundly.

His entire world has shifted to revolve around this man, and it threatens to overwhelm Spock completely how much he loves James Kirk.

~*~

There is no taking back what Jim said last night. He lays staring up at the lamp on his table and feels the cool skin of the man wrapped around him. The man that Jim loves with all of his heart.

The man who Jim did not mean to tell.

He loves Spock, he really does. Loves him so much that it scares him. Spock is everything that Jim has ever wanted and is far more than he deserves. When he looks at Jim, it is with so much passion behind those unreadable eyes that it sends shivers down Jim’s spine. It’s everything.

Someone who can show that much devotion and passion deserves someone who can love them for a long time and who can match that passion. Jim’s entire life revolves around being sick, though, and he knows that he can’t give Spock what it is that he deserves. Jim will never be enough because he will only hurt Spock in the end.

When Jim dies, he knows that it can only hurt Spock. They’re in too deep at this point to avoid Spock being hurt by the inevitable. It isn’t logical, and it isn’t fair.

Jim ruminates on the words of Nyota Uhura as he slips out of Spock’s embrace and looks down at his sleeping face. If Jim hurts Spock, he’s a dead man.

If only she knew exactly how true her words were. She probably wouldn’t have said them. Nobody ever wants to speak the truth to a dying man. Jim learned that the hard way.

If he gets out now, he can probably spare Spock the pain. Jim turns the dial of his shower almost all the way to the right. Leaving the relationship before he gets so sick that he can’t will surely save Spock the pain of watching him die. It will hurt, but Spock would thank him in the end.

When he’s already gone.

But does he really want to leave Spock?

Jim looks at his thinning frame in the mirror. It seems like every day he’s getting thinner and paler, and he hates it.

Jim is in love with Spock. He’s happy with Spock. Jim finally understands what the doctors mean when they say that he doesn’t care about his health. He thought that he used to be good about caring for himself and that he did not need to do anything more than passively going to appointments. Now that he’s with Spock, he doesn’t want to just keep functioning, he wants to try to live.

Spock is good for Jim, but Jim is irrevocably bad for Spock. Jim can see it in every flicker of emotion that passes Spock’s face, the way he speaks like he could never turn his back on Jim. These aren’t normal things for a Vulcan, as far as Jim can tell. It isn’t natural for Spock and that cannot possibly end well.

Jim is standing under the steaming hot spray and almost misses the sound of the bathroom door opening. Before he can say something around the lump in his throat, Spock is already climbing into the shower with him. “You should have woken me.”

Jim clears his throat and hopes that the few tears that slip across his cheeks are masked by the water of the shower. “You looked so peaceful.”

Spock wraps his arms around Jim’s waist and slots their bodies together in the tiny shower cubicle. “I am at peace here.”

-

“You and Jim kirk seemed to get along quite well at the gala.” Amanda says with that maternal twinkle in her eye that Spock knows means she is not saying all that she suspects.

Spock takes a deep breath. He planned this lunch with his mother to tell her about his relationship with Jim. He did not plan on her bringing up the man in question so early on into the meeting. “Yes, James and I do…get along well.”

“How well?” There is no fooling Amanda Grayson. She knows Vulcans well.

“We are currently engaged in a romantic relationship.” Spock admits, if only to avoid more ‘beating around the bush’ as his mother calls it.

Amanda smirks at Spock and takes a sip of her water. “I know.” She says cheerfully. “You are so like your father. You think that you’re being so discreet when you’re actually more obvious than most humans.”

“There is no need to be insulting.” Spock says in what he knows is a petulant tone. His mother has quite the habit of bringing up how human Vulcans can be, and while xenophobia has never been the goal of most Vulcans, there is little Spock can do to avoid some annoyance.

“So why don’t you seem totally satisfied?” Amanda asks suddenly, her demeanor having shifted to something far more serious.

“What do you mean?”

“There’s something about this relationship that’s bugging you, I can tell.” Amanda explains and rests her chin in her hand. “What is it?”

Spock inclines his head slightly to the left. “How do you know?”

“A mother knows, Spock.” Amanda offers as explanation. “I’ve known you your whole life, I know when you’re upset.”

“I am not upset I am…concerned.” Spock explains. “There is something going on with Jim that is causing me a measurable amount of distress.”

“What is it?” Amanda presses.

Spock weighs the consequences of telling his mother. He knows that telling her without Jim’s consent is not fair to him, but Spock absolutely needs support from someone, and he knows that Amanda can be trusted. “Jim has tarsus-forge disease.”

Amanda’s eyes go wide and she covers her mouth with her hand. “Spock, that’s a terminal disease.”

“I am aware.” Spock says with a nod. “And what worries me the most is not that my time with him is limited, but that that fact causes Jim considerable distress. I believe that he thinks he is hurting me.”

Amanda takes another sip of her water. “Is he? Will his death hurt you?”

Spock considers this. He attempts to not think too much about that moment, but has never considered why he does not wish to think about that. “Yes. But that is unavoidable.”

“Is it?”

Spock nods once. Of this he is sure. “The only thing that could hurt more would be to be apart from him.”

Amanda smiles and her hand twitches as though she wishes to reach out to Spock but knows better. Spock wishes he knew how to ask her for that contact for at this moment he wishes for some sort of support.

His mind flickers over to the previous day, when Jim touched his fingers to Spock’s while they were watching television together. There was nothing to incite that affectionate display, nor was there anything said about it afterwards, only a small smile from Jim and feelings of warmth from him. It was not Vulcan, made Spock’s mind race away from all logic and order, but he has found himself repeatedly going back to that moment in his mind.

“Spock, it isn’t easy.” Amanda starts with a sigh. “Being in a relationship is not easy. Not for me, and certainly not for your father. It hurts, sometimes it seems like it hurts more than is worth it. Believe it or not, your father struggles with it more than I do. Vulcans don’t like to talk about what they feel, especially when it comes to bonding and romance, and that has made it so much harder for him and for me.”

Spock raises an eyebrow, “Mother, I do not understand.”

“The point is that it’s worth it.” Amanda continues. “Even though it is so hard and it hurts you, it’s worth it. The happiness and peace that your father and I get from our relationship makes up for all of the pain.”

Spock stands and Amanda watches his movements with a raised eyebrow. Spock steps around the small kitchen table in his father’s Earth apartment. He takes a deep breath and flexes his fingers out beside his body. “Mother, I believe that it would be appropriate to request a hug.”

Amanda releases a surprised squeak and stands up from her chair. She stands on her toes to wrap her arms around his shoulders and pull him close.

-

“Jim?” Leonard enters the waiting room to find Jim sitting there with Spock by his side. Jim is laughing and Spock has that look on his face that Leonard has only ever seen in relation to Jim.

He wonders if it bothers Jim that Spock doesn’t laugh. Jim is a performer at heart and Leonard cannot imagine him reacting well to a dead crowd. Not for the first time, he doubts the health of this relationship.

Jim looks up, grin still spread on his face like a tattoo. “Yeah, I’m coming.”

The last few years have been hard for Jim, there is no denying that. One could argue that Jim’s entire life has been hard, but Leonard knows that seeing the inside of a hospital more than the inside of his home has been taking a toll on his best friend. Leonard is no psychiatrist, but he could always see it taking a toll on Jim in the way that Jim would sit on the biobed slumped over.

Today, however, Leonard almost does not recognize the man smiling to himself and swinging his feet. “Alright, Bones. Tell me what you gotta.”

Leonard quirks an eyebrow at Jim and shakes his head in disbelief. “You’ve been taking all your meds?”

Jim nods enthusiastically. “Yep, every morning and night.”

Leonard nods to himself and marks that off on his padd. He internalizes exactly how weird he finds it that Jim is so chipper.

Well, not weird so much as shocking since it constitutes as a complete turn around in character. Leonard remembers when Jim was hardly willing to live.

“Jim?” Leonard let himself into Jim’s house with the spare key he demanded. He stepped over haphazard piles of books as he tried to make his way to the living room. “You had an appointment five hours ago, where were you?”

The air smelled vaguely of body odor and stale pizza. Leonard cringed and made a mental note to shoot a message to Gaila later. “Jim?” There was still no response.

Leonard finally reached the living room to find Jim’s frail figure wrapped in a blanket with an empty pizza box in front of him. Leonard knew that Jim had been trying to eat fatty foods to make himself gain weight. Jim could see the bundle’s breathing pick up, a clear sign that Jim was awake and knew that Leonard was there, but he did not move to greet him.

Leonard say beside Jim on the couch and poked at his side. “Hey, if you’re dying, the least you could do is to call me.”

“Very funny, Bones, but I actually am dying.” Jim deadpanned. He lifted his head to look up at his best friend before heaving a sigh and sitting up.

It felt like a punch to the gut to Leonard. Jim kept making jokes and being blatant to hide himself but Leonard could see right through it to exactly how scared Jim really was by his disease.

“Jim, come on. Take a shower, get dressed, and then we’ll clean this place up.” Bones stood up and tried to pull Jim to his feet, but was met with strong resistance.

“I talked to Kevin today.” Jim started with a forced smile. Leonard already knew this wouldn’t be good. “He’s not going to last much longer. Has been hospitalized for the last few weeks.”

Leonard sat again. “Shit, Jim. I know the two of you were close.”

Jim shrugged noncommittally. “He isn’t going to let himself go slowly, though. Apparently some of the other survivors have been getting some help from their doctors, and he’s going to do the same.”

Reading between the lines of that wasn’t hard and it makes him want to throw up. Jim was implying something so dark that Leonard can hardly start to consider it. “Jim, I can’t deny you that right but I can refuse to do it.”

Jim looked at Leonard desperately, eyes dull. He looked smaller than ever and it kills Leonard to see that he’s apparently finally given up. “I don’t want to be in pain, Bones. I don’t know if I can stand another hospital stay just barely hanging on.” He took a deep breath, “Please.”

Leonard shook his head and wants to crawl away but knows he has to stay here for Jim. “I can’t, Jim. You know I can’t. Not ever again.”

Jim paled and Leonard knew all at once that he had forgotten entirely about David McCoy. Jim’s hands shot out from under the blanket to grip Leonard’s forearms. “Bones, I’m so sorry.” He sounded almost like he was begging. “I can’t believe I would even think of asking you that. Shit shit shit.” He buried his face in his hands.

Leonard wrapped an arm around Jim in an attempt to show strength that he certainly was not feeling at the moment. “I gotcha, Jimbo. I’m here. Just hold on for a while longer.”

Jim followed that advice and for once, Leonard might have been right about something.

-

“Lasagna.” Jim states proudly as he sets the dish down on the table. He wipes at his forehead. “Four hours of my life creating this absolutely perfect Italian dish for you, since you insist that you wouldn’t like Italian food.”

Spock raises and eyebrow and Jim just sighs and gestures back toward the kitchen. “And in case you’re right, which you won’t be, I’ve got some plomeek soup in there that I picked up on my way home.”

Spock relaxes at that point and gestures toward Jim’s chair. “If you would join me.”

Jim grins and sits down heavily. “Okay, but I’m telling you, you’re not going to need that soup. I am awesome at lasagna. Even vegetarian lasagna.”

Jim watches anxiously as Spock takes his first bite of the saucy, cheesy, beautiful dish. Jim even took the time to make homemade pasta. If Spock doesn’t like this, Jim might just throw in the towel on this whole cooking thing.

Spock chews slowly, only serving to build the anticipation more. He swallows and takes a sip of wine. “It is quite delicious.”

Jim crows in triumph and punches the air. “And that’s ten points to Gryffindor!”

“A reference to ancient terran literature.” Spock concludes. “I read those books when I was young, at my mother’s insistence.”

Jim grins at Spock and feels that same giddiness that he has come to relate with Spock. “First, it’s 20 and 21st century, hardly ancient. And they’re absolutely a work of art.”

“Of course, ashayam.”

-

There is a particular chair in Jim’s living room that seems to be almost holy. It is worn and the fabric is pilling, but it is still the most comfortable and valued piece of furniture that he owns.

This chair was one that Jim found at a flea market and bought without a second thought, the first thing he bought when he moved to Washington DC. It is his favorite place to write, to watch TV, to do just about anything that he can do sitting down.

Spock once made the mistake of sitting in this chair and was subjected to a glare of epic proportions from his beloved. He has since learned to not make such a mistake.

Jim is currently sitting in his chair while Spock brews tea in the kitchen. At first, Spock heard the tapping of Jim’s fingers on his laptop but the sounds have since ceased. Jim has most likely decided to do some editing, he assumes, or has fallen asleep as he often does.

Spock adds a teaspoon of honey to Jim’s tea and a spoonful of cinnamon to his own, stirring both slowly in the counterclockwise direction.

The steam swirls out of the steaming hot tea and he smiles faintly to himself. It has become rather cold in this early December, and Spock is looking forward to drinking the beverage which will surely serve to warm him.

Just as Spock predicted, Jim is asleep in his chair, fleece blanket draped across him and laptop balanced at a precarious angle. Spock sets the mugs down on the table and removes the laptop from its possible demise. It does not wake Jim, which is surprising to Spock as his beloved is usually a light sleeper.

“Jim.” Spock nudges Jim’s knee lightly to attempt to wake him up, but there is no response. Spock is momentarily glad that Jim is sleeping deeply, but finds himself alarmed at the difficulty he is facing waking him up.

Spock reaches out with both hands to hold Jim’s face. “T’hy’la.” He says at nearly a shout. “Please, wake up.”

Jim’s skin is alarmingly cool to the touch. Spock is used to Jim’s skin feeling hot, almost burning, but now it feels no different from Spock’s own temperature. Were Jim Vulcan, there would be no need for alarm.

But Jim is not Vulcan. His skin should not be this cold. Spock’s heart rate picks up and he shakes Jim more roughly than he should. There is still no response.

“Janice!” He yells out to the woman who is upstairs. “Jim has collapsed!”

Spock scoops Jim up into his arms, blanket still wrapped around his limp form. Jim is incredibly light, so light that it nearly takes Spock’s breath away. He regains his composure and rushes out to the car. He takes car to not hurt Jim as he places him in the backseat and buckles him in.

Janice rushes out of the door with no shoes on and her hair pulled into a haphazard ponytail. “What’s going on?”

Spock gestures to where Jim is laying across the back seat. “Please, drive while I sit with him.”

Janice nods distractedly, sparing only one last glance toward Jim before sitting in the driver’s seat.

Spock rounds the car to sit in the other back seat. He lifts Jim’s head and rests it in his lap, one hand immediately going to wind itself through those blond strands the way that Jim always enjoys.

As Janice drives, Spock attempts to keep his eyes off of his lover’s still form. He presses two fingers to the pulse point on Jim’s neck and finds that reassuring pulse, the only thing keeping him grounded.

“Leonard?” Janice shouts out suddenly and Spock realizes that she has called Doctor McCoy. “Hi, we’re heading in with Jim.”

“What happened?” Leonard’s voice comes through the speaker system of the car. “Is he alright?”

“He collapsed again.” Janice explains quickly. “We’ll be there in two minutes.”

“His skin is remarkably cool.” Spock adds.

A pause on Leonard’s end. “Shit. Okay, I know how to fix this, I’ve worked with this on other patients.”

It does not sound good to Spock. It cannot be good if it is making Jim this cold, with a sheen of sweat on his forehead. “We will be there as quickly as possible.”

Once they arrive at the hospital, Spock picks Jim up and rushes him over to where Christine Chapel is waiting with a gurney. “Come on, we’re going to be using one of the emergency rooms until we can get him stabilized.” She helps Spock secure Jim on the hover gurney and sets off at a brisk walk toward a room where Leonard is waiting.

Once Spock is no longer in control of the situation and Leonard is working on Jim, he sinks into a chair in the hallway, as the room in which they are working is to small to allow him inside. Janice sits beside him and lets out a shaky breath. “Shit.”

“Indeed.” Spock agrees as he studies his shaking hands. The adrenaline running through his system is starting to wear off so that he is now feeling exhausted. He knows that he will not be able to find rest until he knows that Jim is unharmed.

“He’ll be alright.” Janice assures him carefully. Spock can tell that she does not believe this. Still, he accepts it graciously.

“Thank you. I hope that you are correct.”

The next half hour passes in relative silence, save for the sound of the machinery in the hospital. Spock is awakened form his dream-like state by Leonard coming out of the room and whipping his gloves off of his hands. “He’s going to be fine.” He states finally without looking at Spock and Janice. “He might be a little slow for a bit, but he’ll be fine.”

He sits on the floor opposite Spock and Janice and rests his head against the wall. “Shit. I remember when it would be nearly a year between collapses. It’s been, what? Three months?” He sighs and shakes his head. “It’s unfair to that kid.”

Christine pushes the gurney with Jim aboard it out of the emergency room into the hall and Spock wants to stand but she gives him a sad smile. “Just give us some time. We need to get him washed up and in place upstairs.”

Spock nods and relaxes as much as he can. Christine walks away with his love. “Three and a half months.” Spock says. “I cannot imagine my life without him, this has been rather shocking for me.”

Leonard gives Spock a surprised look. “You’re different than I always thought.”

“I will take that as a compliment.” Spock says slowly.

“As you should.” Leonard nods and finally pushes himself up from the ground. “I should go check on some of my other patients and put the record for this in.”

Janice and Spock watch him go, his body hunched over and exhausted.

It is another twenty minutes before Christine comes down to tell Spock and Janice that they are allowed up to see Jim. “He’s not in the ICU, but you still need to be calm and quiet up there. He should wake up in a few hours.” She explains with a small smile.

Janice shakes her head and pats Spock’s arm. “I’m gonna go home and get him some food for when he wakes up.” She smiles sadly at him and Spock nods gratefully.

“Thank you.”

Spock is lead to Jim’s room and finds him lying there, so much more color in his face than earlier. It allows something tight to loosen in his chest. Spock sits and takes Jim once more warm hand in his own. “Jim.” He whispers to hopefully.

He rests his head on the mattress beside Jim’s torso, and finally Spock finds rest.

Chapter Text

AC: I think everyone in the English department here at Georgtown has read your book a million times.

JK: That’s really great to hear! I think all authors want to know that we’re making a mark, and it’s really rewarding to hear about it when it works.

AC: Anything you can tell us about future projects? I’ve heard rumors about a possible new collection of short stories.

JK: I don’t know who you heard that from, but I am actually working on a new novel. It’s a bit different from my last one, but I think that people will enjoy it. I’ve actually had the chance to draw from a lot of personal experience with this story.

AC: Speaking of personal life, if you don’t mind me asking about it, I know that you and Professor Spock are…involved.

JK: Yes, that is very true. You guys over there are lucky to have someone as amazing as him as a teacher. I’ve got some great people in my life.

AC: One of those people is Gaila, the socialite and legendary trafficking activist. Are you going to be involved in any way with her new program to help find housing for survivors?

JK: I will be helping out as much as possible, but I’ll actually be involved in my own bit of activism, actually.

AC: Oh? And what is that?”

JK: It’s something that I’ve kept quiet about for a while now, and it’s been pretty hard for me, but I’ve actually been suffering from Tarsus-Forge Disease for the last few years.

-

Spock has developed the habit of sleeping draped around Jim’s thin frame with his hands wrapped around Jim’s wrists. This not only affords him the closeness that he so desires, but it allows him to know the very moment when Jim begins to awaken.

Jim’s pulse will pick up minutely as his eyes flutter open. Spock has become strangely reliant on that pulse and cannot help but reach out for it at all times.

When Jim wakes that morning, Spock immediately tightens his grip on his beloved, pulling Jim closer to his chest. “Good morning.” He says softly and feels Jim let out a happy breath against him.
“Good morning.” Jim rumbles in response, voice husky from sleep. “How did you sleep last night?”

Spock kisses the back of Jim’s neck and wonders how Jim can always be so concerned for his wellbeing. “My rest was satisfactory.”

It is true, more so than he is willing to admit to Jim. Since engaging in a relationship with the other man and developing the habit of sleeping beside him, Spock has found his rest to be far more peaceful and satisfying than at any point in his life.

Jim turns in Spocks arms so that they are chest to chest. “I’m glad. I slept well too. You make it so much easier.”

“Easier?”

Jim laughs and grins. “Yeah, easier. Before…I would have a lot of nightmares. Now, I still have those, but it’s so much easier to forget all that. You make it easier.”

The emotions that flood through his system threaten to overwhelm Spock, so he leans in to kiss Jim. Jim reacts by moving to run his fingers along Spock’s, kssing him in the Vulcan tradition.

“Are you prepared?” Spock asks once they break apart. “The article in ‘Inscape’ is going to be published today.”

Jim nods and bites his lip to hide his smile. “Yeah. I mean, I’m terrified, but I’ve got you. And that makes this whole thing a lot less scary.” Jim rolls away to sit up. He runs his hands through his hair, serving only to make it look more disheveled.

The effect is not aesthetically displeasing.

Spock sits up and reaches out a hand to take Jim by the arm and pull him closer. “Come, lay with me.” Laziness is not usually part of his routine, but Spock finds on this particular winter morning, with the sun filtering in through Jim’s cornflower blue curtains, that staying in bed just a bit longer is not an undesirable course of action.

Jim laughs and allows himself to be pulled into the embrace. “Okay, Spocktopus.” He giggles and kisses Spock’s neck. “What has gotten into you lately?”

“I am trying only to express my love, T’hy’la.”

Jim pulls back slightly and furrows his brow. “You keep using that word. What does it mean? Should I be offended?”

Spock’s chest swells with affection for this man and he shakes his head. “No, it is an ancient term of endearment among my people. Most simply, it translates to “friend, brother, lover” but at its core, it describes someone who completes you. It is a word for they who are so compatible with you that it seems as though you were not whole before meeting them.”

Jim smiles softly and traces a finger down from Spock’s temple to his jaw. “So…like a soul mate?”

Spock chuckles and nods his head in concession. “Yes, I believe that is the closest human equivalent.”

“Who knew Vulcans could be so sappy?”

“A T’hy’la is not always romantic, but they are rather rare, even amongst Vulcans. It is a bond often spoken of in legends.” Spock explains. “I did not know it at first, but when my mind joined with yours that first time, I knew that you are that for which I would wait forever.”

Jim smiles softly and presses his lips to Spock’s with a smile. “You are quite the romantic.”

“Melding with you was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.” Spock admits slowly. “I wish to be with you for as long as you will have me.”

An odd look flashes across Jim’s face and his body tenses slightly. Something alarming chimes in Spock’s mind.

“Still, you sort of lost the soul mate lottery.” Jim flops over to lay beside Spock, a bitter smile on his face. “Sorry about that.”

Spock is confused by Jim’s words. He frowns at the ceiling. “What do you mean?”

“I’m going to die soon, Spock. It’s only a matter of time.” Jim says with a breathy sigh. “I’m already on IV treatments twice a day. I don’t even know how you manage to put that needle in for me. I could never do it to you.”

“I did not lose any lottery.” Spock assures Jim, and rolls onto his side to look at the profile of his beloved. “You are more than I could have ever wanted. It matters not how short our time together may be.”

“You say that now.” Jim says with a snort. “But who knows how you’ll feel in a few months.” He rolls to his side so that his back is to Spock. His posture is marked by tension. “I’m sorry.”

Spock reaches a hand out to rest between Jim’s shoulder blades, half expecting the other man to flinch away from the contact. Jim does not move, however, but rather relaxes slightly into it. “Jim,” Spock whispers, “You must not let yourself feel guilt over this. It is out of both your control and mine. Kaiidth.”

“What is, is.” Jim translates for him. “How can you feel like that? How can you rid yourself of those feelings?”

The truth, Spock knows, is that he cannot. Despite his greatest efforts, he cannot separate himself from these feelings of impending loss and grief. Jim will die, he will leave Spock, and there is nothing he can do to right that great wrong of the universe. “It is not easy.”

Jim sighs and curls tighter into himself. Spock reaches out and uses his superior strength to pull Jim close to him. “I care for you. There is no reversing that fact.”

Jim sighs and spreads his fingers across Spock’s chest. He tightens his hand until he has a fistful of Spock’s shirt in his hand. He presses his lips fiercely to Spock’s, as though afraid that this will be their last kiss.

Spock rolls them over so that he is hovering above Jim, who is looking at him with very open and raw emotion in his eyes. He lurches up, presumably for another rough kiss, but Spock holds him back with a hand in the middle of his chest. He then presses his lips to Jim’s softly, keeping the pace slow even though he can feel Jim itching to speed up.

“You are beautiful.” Spock whispers before kissing gently down Jim’s bare chest, as he typically sleeps in only his boxer briefs. He stops to gently suck one of Jim’s nipples into his mouth and relish in the whimpers that Jim cannot hold back.

Spock kisses down his lover’s body until he reaches the waistband of his briefs, which are damp from Jim’s pre-ejaculate and through which the outline of Jim’s erection is quite visible.

“I cherish thee.” Spock whispers as he presses kisses to Jim’s member through the fabric.

-

It feels like Jim is going to shake apart, the way Spock is kissing him gently and brushing his hands over Jim like he really is something to be treasured. Jim bites back the tears that threaten to stream from his eyes.

Spock kisses his cock through his underwear, and Jim bucks up against his own will, fists balled in the sheets. “Please.” He begs, for what he isn’t sure, but begs all the same.

Spock looks up at Jim with those god damn eyes that are so expressive and so deep that it kills Jim sometimes. Now, they are filled with passion and affection. Jim squeezes his eyes shut. He’s only going to cause that chocolate brown to be marred by pain.

Jim wants to be with Spock, wants to give himself over completely, but he can’t make himself do it. He’ll only hurt Spock and himself.

What if Spock realizes that this relationship is pointless and leaves?

Jim’s thoughts are cut off by a hot mouth enveloping his cock and sinking down until Jim feels like all of him is surrounded by that wet heat. “Spock.” He chokes out.

Spock pays him no mind, simply goes on with his ministrations. Jim finally grabs him by the shoulders and pulls him off. “I want you in me.” He tells him, and Spock’s pupils go even wider than before. “Need you.”

Spock preps Jim slowly, staring into his eyes the entire time. Jim writhes and shakes his head, tears forming in his eyes as Spock whispers endearments.

“Ashayam. I love you.”

Spock removes his fingers and replaces them with his cock. He sinks in slowly and Jim grabs at his back desperately. Spock’s back will be covered with scratch marks tomorrow. Jim can’t bring himself to care.

“T’hy’la.” Spock says reverently as he rolls his hips and Jim lets loose the tears, crying openly and clutching Spock close to his chest, until Spock hardly has room to thrust. “My beloved.”

“Spock.” Jim cries out as he comes. He goes completely boneless after his orgasm, hardly registering it when Spock comes inside of him and pulls out. Spock gathers Jim in his arms and wipes at his cheeks.

“I am here, ashalik.” Spock assures him. “There is no need to shed tears.”

-

“Jim’s birthday is in two weeks.” Janice says as she pops a grape into her mouth. “I think you should do something for him. Plan a party.”

Spock raises an eyebrow at her. “Is that not your responsibility as his PA?”

Janice sighs and shakes her head, her braids swinging with the movement. “Jim usually hates having people do things for his birthday. But I was thinking that since he’s in love with you, he wouldn’t mind if you did something.” She explains emphatically, waving her hands around. “I mean, he deserves to have a day where he celebrates his life.”

“I cannot argue with that.”

Janice grins and tosses a grape in the air and catches it in her mouth. She grins at Spock’s surprise. “Jim taught me how to do that. Jim taught us all a lot of things. That’s why we need to throw him a birthday party. It’s totally selfish.”

Spock thinks this over. He has noticed that humans display the tendency to need to publicly show their gratitude for others. Large gifts and parties are the typical way of expressing their love. It is nothing like the more private exchanges that Spock prefers. It does seem to be rather important to these people who Spock has come to call friends, however.

“I will assist you in whatever way I can. I cannot guarantee that I will be much aide to your success, however.” He adds on as an after thought. Janice grins in response and eats another grape.

This woman is obviously very close to Jim. She sleeps in his home most nights and has more access to his schedule and other details about his life than anyone. If Spock wanted to ask anything about Jim undetected, she would be the one to ask. (Doctor McCoy is another good option, but there lies the risk of being ‘tattled on.’)

“Janice,” Spock begins his inquiry slowly, “Have you noticed Jim being rather…mercurial lately? He has been most distant toward me for no apparent reason.”

Janice lets out a deep breath through her nose and shakes her head again. “It’s nothing personal. Well, it is, but it’s not your fault.”

“I do not understand.”

Janice bites her lip, as though unsure of whether to continue, but apparently decides Spock deserves this information. “Jim loves you. He loves you more than I have ever seen anyone love anyone. So much that its…well it’s not killing him.” She tacks on with an apologetic grimace. “I’ve honestly never seen anything like it.”

Spock’s confusion only grows. “I do not understand. Why does that translate to his being distant?”

“He doesn’t want to hurt you, doesn’t want to deal with the fact that he has to leave you.” Janice explains with a shrug. “So he doesn’t deal with it. He shuts himself off. And trust me, he doesn’t want to be doing it. He can’t really help it.”

“I see.”

“You should try to pull him out of it, though. He’ll only burrow deeper, and none of us want to see that again.” Janice face goes serious and she shakes herself out of it. Spock watches the emotions flicker across her face rapidly. It is obvious to Spock that they have had to deal with Jim’s depression before, many times.

Spock does not wish for Jim to remain in this state. “Does Jim believe that I will leave him?”

Janice’s responding silence is enough answer. Spock nods to himself absently.

“When is his birthday?”

-

Some very intense knocking on his front door wakes Jim from one of his many daily naps. Grumbling all the way, Jim shuffles across the house, blanket draped over his shoulders. He feels like a cranky old man, to say the least.

“What do you-“ Jim cuts off in the middle of wrenching the door open. “Nyota? Spock’s not here, he’s at work.”

“I know that.” Nyota says as she pushes past Jim gently to get into the house. “Besides, why would I look here? He doesn’t live here yet.”

Jim gapes at her as she walks through his house like she knows the way. “Well then, can I help you?”

“I didn’t like you when I first met you.” Nyota says idly as she walks into his living room and sits on the couch primly. “I thought you were cocky, brash, a pretty boy jerk.”

Jim laughs awkwardly and rubs at the back of his neck. His blanket slips off of his shoulder. “If you’d met me six years ago, you’d’ve been right.”

Nyota shifts her hands in her lap and stares at him still standing in the entrance to his own living room like a stranger. “But that’s not who you are now. You’re actually a nice boy.”

“I do try.” Jim says slowly, unable to believe that he’s actually having this conversations, and very much confused as to its origin. “Do you want some water or something? Tea? Beer?” Jim offers awkwardly.

Nyota actually smiles at him then and shakes her head. “No, I’m quite alright. Sit down, won’t you? You look pathetic standing there in your blanket.”

Jim nods awkwardly and shuffles over to his chair, the exhaustion that should have been eschewed by his nap making his blood feel like lead. He sinks into the soft chair and lets out an involuntary sigh. “So, what brings you here? Going to threaten me with death again?”

For the first time, Nyota seems to be genuinely uncomfortable. She shifts in her seat and smiles tightly. “No, I wouldn’t do that.”

Jim frowns at Nyota and waits for her to continue, despite the fact that she’s clearly uncomfortable like this. “I came to apologize. I’m very protective of Spock, but what I said was out of line. Had I known…”

“You read the article, then.” Jim surmises with a sad smile. “And now you know that I am going to hurt Spock, and I’m going to be a dead man.”

Nyota raises her eyebrows at Jim and purses her lips. “Have you not be on the net all day? You’re the biggest news there is at the moment. The Georgetown lit mag has never been quite so popular.” She huffs out a small laugh.

“Well, I do try.” Jim says sarcastically. He settles into his chair and pulls his blanket more tightly around himself. He’s obviously in for a ride here, and might as well get as comfortable as possible.

“I’m sorry.” She finally blurts out.

“For what? For being protective of Spock? Honestly, Nyota, I probably would have done the same thing.” Jim shrugs and smiles sadly. “Spock is amazing.”

“No, I’m not sorry for that I’m sorry because you’re…you know.” Nyota cringes at her own words.

“Because I’m dying?” Jim finishes for her and flashes a genuine smile at her. “It’s not your fault.”

Nyota stands and straightens her skirt. “Look, I just want you to know that I don’t know you very well, but I am here if you need it because Spock is one of my best friends in the world, and I don’t want to see him hurt. I’d like to be a friend to you.”

Jim gapes at her and then breaks out laughing, unable to control it as it bursts out. He clutches his side and waves a hand at Nyota. “I’m sorry, but that’s one of the most terrifying proposals of friendship I’ve ever experienced. No wonder you two get along so well.”

This brings a genuine smile to Nyota’s face and she shakes her head, ponytail swinging. “I think I’ve known him for too long, honestly. He’s rubbed off on me an awful lot.” She pauses for a moment, as if unsure of what to say next, “He’ll treat you right, if you let him. Just make sure you do the same in return.”

-

“I’m so tired, I don’t know how I’m going to be able to do this tonight.” Jim mumbles into Spock’s shoulder. Spock tightens his grip on him and allows Jim to burrow in even deeper.

“Oh no.” Janice says from the kitchen. “You and your bundle of blankets are not backing out of this, buddy. It’s New Year’s Eve! You have to have at least a little bit of fun.”

Jim frowns at her over the top of his duvet and shakes his head. “I know, I’m just saying don’t be surprised if I fall asleep at ten.”

Janice brings a bag of tortilla chips and a bowl of guacamole over to the coffee table. “I know, that’s why we agreed to start this whole thing at seven, rather than ten, when real people usually start things.”

“Oh to be young and healthy.” Jim muses dreamily.

“You’re 26.” Janice says tightly. She walks back into the kitchen, presumably to get more food, and Jim can’t help but notice that she looks rather uptight. Then again, when does she not?

“Okay, so I’m young. That doesn’t change the fact that I get tired really easily.” Jim says with a yawn for effect. “These IV treatments are killer.”

“Sorry, kid. I’ll see what I can do about it.” Bones says as he walks out of the bathroom, wiping his wet hands on his jeans.

Jim looks around, completely confused by what his life has become. “Wait, when did you get here?”

Janice laughs at him and Bones rolls his eyes. “Your lovely assistant let me in just a few minutes ago, while you were busy kissing lover boy’s neck.”

“And you didn’t even say hi?”

“I had to pee.”

Jim rolls his eyes at his friend and moves over just before Bones sits on the couch beside him. Jim finds himself pressed even closer to Spock, who looks slightly alarmed by the intrusion of the doctor.

“Leonard, are you aware that there is another couch and two arm chairs in this room?” Spock asks with a pointed look. Jim covers up his grin with his hand.

Bones shoots a glare at Spock and settles more firmly into the couch. “Well, I think I want to sit here.”

“Jim does not require any medical observation at this moment. It is unnecessary to be so close.”

“I’m his best friend, dammit!” Bones exclaims and shoves Jim’s blanket away from him. “And it’s not like you two are on the loveseat, this couch is big enough for four people.”

Jim stretches his legs out so that his feet are on Bones’ lap. He flexes his toes and yawns again. “Yeah, and you’re a good footrest.” He wiggles his right foot under Bones’ nose.

Luckily, he takes the hint, and Bones shoves Jim’s feet away. He gets up and sits in Jim’s chair smugly. He knows how possessive Jim is of his chair, and is probably relishing in the opportunity to sit in the worn thing.

“Boys.” Janice scoffs and sets down the final bowl of snacks on the table. She throws herself onto the loveseat and sighs loudly. “It’s one of those days that I’m really glad I’m a lesbian.”

“I’m glad too.” Gaila calls from the entry hall, followed by the slamming of the door behind her. She walks into the living room and crawls into the space beside Janice on the couch. “I mean, I’m just glad you like girls in general. You could be bi or pan or whatever just as long as I get a piece of that sweet ass.”

“Oh sweet Jesus.” Janice groans and ends with a laugh. “You are all losers.”

Jim sticks his tongue out at her and watches as Gaila sneaks her hand up to squeeze Janice’s left boob. Janice shrieks and shoves Gaila off. “Good lord! Am I safe nowhere?”

“Definitely not.” Gaila says cheerfully. “I’ve been waiting so long to have you, baby. I’m not going away any time soon.”

“No sex on my couch.” Jim warns good naturedly.

Despite his earlier insistence, Jim does manage to stay awake past ten. At ten-fifteen precisely, Nyota waltzes into his house, looking slightly buzzed but certainly not as drunk as every adult outside of Jim’s house tonight.

“What took you so long, Ny?” Jim asks cheerfully. He can practically feel Spock’s surprise beside him. Jim hadn’t made it exactly well known that he and Nyota were friends now.

Nyota grins and sits in the free arm chair. “Oh, I was just at the Georgetown faculty party. Left before the chemistry professors started getting crazy.”

Jim jolts up in surprise. Surely Spock had been invited to that party, but he had not even mentioned it briefly. Jim wonders if Spock had wanted to attend but felt obligated to spend the holiday with Jim and his illness. “Why didn’t you go?” He asks his partner curiously.

Nyota snorts from the other side of the room. “Please, Spock has never gone to the party. He thinks that celebrating the fact that the earth continues to revolve around the sun is illogical.”

“I do, however, see the merit of celebrating the time that I have had with you.” Spock remarks, his words rumbling in his chest against Jim’s back.

“We never were enough for you to celebrate, Spock.” Nyota teases with a smarmy grin. “Who knew all we had to do was sleep with you?”

Spock sighs and tickles the back of Jim’s neck with his breath. “You know that Jim is much more than that to me.”

Jim preens under the praise and nods enthusiastically. “Yeah, Nyota. I’m so much more.”

-

Jim stays awake for another half hour after Nyota arrives at his home, much longer than Spock had thought that he would. Somewhere during the pleasant conversations and holovids playing on the screen, Jim drifts off into sleep against Spock.

Spock slips his hand down to loosely encircle Jim’s wrist, with his fingers on his pulse point. In this way he has become able to tell when Jim’s body is in distress and when he is merely sleeping. The act also affords him the intimacy which he so craves with Jim at any given moment. A craving which was alarming at first, but which Spock has come to peace with.

Nyota looks over at where Jim is sleeping with his back to Spock’s chest on the couch and smiles softly at them. “Does he get tired easily?”

“He spent most of the afternoon sleeping in preparation for tonight.” Spock offers as evidence of Jim’s near-constant state of exhaustion.

“Are you going to wake him up for midnight?” Janice asks from the couch, eyes still trained on the holoscreen. “Give him a little smooch?”

Spock frowns in confusion and looks at the other humans in the room. “Is this a tradition with which I am unfamiliar?”

They all laugh at him and Spock feels his cheeks grow warm under the attention. “Spock, it’s earth tradition to kiss your sweetheart when the new year changes.” Leonard responds helpfully.

“I was unaware.”

“Well now you know, so you should wake him up soon. It’s 11:58 now.” Nyota says cheerfully.

Spock raises an eyebrow and supposes that perhaps his friends are correct. He shakes Jim’s shoulder gently to wake him. Jim responds by turning and nuzzling into Spock’s chest more tightly. He lets out a soft hum but otherwise does not awaken.

“Jim, it is nearly midnight.” Spock says, only to receive another hum. It becomes clear that he will not be waking Jim up any time soon.

Spock presses a kiss to the top of Jim’s head as the clock strikes midnight and their friends cheer loudly.

-

Jim rouses from his little nap with some reluctance. He blinks his eyes open blearily to find his friends scattered about his living room in various states of wakefulness. Gaila has fallen asleep completely ontop of a very awake Janice, who has resorted to playing solitaire on her padd. Bones is nursing a bottle of beer, and Nyota is examining the ends of her hair idly.

Jim remembers falling asleep with his back to Spock and is surprised to find that he has turned so that his face is buried in Spock’s chest. Jim smiles to himself and looks up to find his boyfriend looking down at him curiously, but clearly pleased.

Well, clearly to Jim, who has become rather talented at detecting the Vulcan’s emotions. “What time is it?”

“It is One-seventeen.” Spock responds easily. “You have been asleep for two and a half hours, approximately.”

Jim shifts and sits up on the couch. He stretches and feels his back pop and release the awkward tension from the position in which he fell asleep. “Damn, I missed the new year.”

“As I understand, it is tradition to share a kiss when the new year comes.”

Jim pouts and folds his arms. “Yeah, and I missed it.”

Spock leans forward and hooks a finger beneath Jim’s chin. “I believe the saying is ‘better late than never’.”

Jim hardly has any time to register this before Spock presses his lips to Jim’s. It takes him hardly any time before Jim can react and surges forward, wrapping his arms around Spock’s neck and kissing him enthusiastically.

“Get a room.” Nyota says sleepily, and Jim throws up a middle finger in her direction. “Disgusting.”

-

“I’m so glad that you could make it this afternoon, Jim.” Amanda says with a smirk over the edge of her wine glass. “I know it must have been weird getting an invite to lunch from your boyfriend’s mother.”

Jim can’t help but grin at the woman who clearly gave Spock his sharp wit. The wrinkles around her eyes deepen as she watches him smile. “I have to ask, Lady Amanda, did Spock put you up to this?”

Amanda raises a surprised eyebrow and adjusts her headscarves. “Why on Earth would you think that?”

“Well, it’s my birthday and I’m pretty sure Spock and my assistant, Janice, are planning something.”

“Ah,” Amanda says and takes a final sip of her wine. “Well, I can honestly say that I have nothing to do with whatever they’re cooking up. I wouldn’t be too worried, though. Spock wouldn’t want to make you uncomfortable on your birthday.”

Jim thinks on this and another smile creeps it’s way across his face. “Yeah, he’s great like that.”

“And happy birthday.” Amanda says with a grin. She holds her glass up in toast. “Here’s to many more.”

Jim bites his lip and stares down at the table. “Yeah, right.”

Amanda gives Jim a stern look and touches his hand in a contradictorily soft gesture, “Don’t go getting all sulky on me. You should be living life to the fullest. If not for yourself, then for my son.”

“I’m trying to, I promise.”

“I know you are, dear.” Amanda’s tone shifts once more and she smiles again. “Why, the change you’ve brought on in my Spock is monumental.”

Jim says nothing in response, not really sure what he can say to that, so Amanda continues, “He was always so shy as a child, even for a Vulcan. And yes, he chose a more human path with his career but emotions have never been easy for him. When he’s with you, he seems more free, more willing to open himself up.”

Jim frowns in confusion. Jim never saw the person that Amanda is describing, except perhaps for a moment in that coffee shop. “He’s always been pretty open with me.If anything, it’s been me who has the problem with openness.”

Amanda shakes her head and sighs. “I don’t know what it is, Jim, but you and Spock match. You’re a study in contrasts, surely, but you have made him into a different-and better-person. Trust me on that one.

“And as for your being closed off, I doubt Spock holds that against you very much. You have good reason for it. Spock told me about Ruth.”

Jim stares in shock and a flood of embarrassment washes through him. “He did?”

Amanda can apparently sense his shame at still holding feelings for someone so long gone, and pats his hand reassuringly. “Oh, don’t worry. We all have people that will always be ‘what-ifs’. I was engaged before I met Spock’s father, in fact, but he broke it off.”

“Are you and Sarek like me and Spock? Are you…you know?” Jim asks earnestly. He leans forward in his chair, hoping that maybe Amanda can relate to him and slight confusion he’s feeling over this connection between him and Spock.

Amanda gives Jim an understanding look and tilts her head thoughtfully. “That’s a complicated question. If you’re inquiring as to whether Sarek and I are T’hy’la, then I believe the answer is yes. But we didn’t realize it quite as quickly as you two did, and every relationship that can be defined by that term is extremely different. So yes and no, I guess.”

“That’s…confusing.”

“And not very helpful, I imagine.” Amanda agrees with a laugh. “Don’t worry. I was the first human that I know of to fall in love with a Vulcan in the way that we have, and it was hard being alone and adjusting to that. I’ll try to help you as much as I can.”

“I just feel terrible because I know that Vulcan relationships are supposed to be long lasting and fulfilling but I don’t have very long left. It’s not fair to Spock.”

“What isn’t fair to Spock is you holding yourself back and keeping your distance when he isn’t capable of doing so. Spock isn’t like you or me, or even Sarek. His emotions run strong and he’s always struggled with controlling them. When he loves, he loves deeply. And I’ve never seen him as overtaken as he is with you.”

Jim thinks on this, feels the warmth of the words wash over him and fill him pleasantly. “And it doesn’t hurt him, feeling those emotions?”

Amanda laughs and waves a hand at him. “No, dear, that’s just a rumor that people who don’t understand Vulcans made up. Despite the fact that most will deny it until their dying day, emotions are a large part of what makes up Vulcan culture.”

Jim opens his mouth to respond but it is just at that moment that the door to Amanda and Sarek’s small DC house opens and Jim hears the voice of Sarek, one of the most famously stiff and unrelatable people in the universe, if the universe is true.

A man who Jim has never met.

“Amanda, I am home.” It’s a stiff reflection of the age-old ‘honey I’m home’, but it’s something. “I assume Jim Kirk is still here as well.”

“Yeah, I’m here. But I can clear out if you need me to.” Jim answers with only a slight hint of nervousness in his voice.

“There is no need.” Sarek says as he steps into the small dining area of the house.

Jim shoots out of his chair and stands to greet Sarek. “Oh, hello, Ambassador. It’s nice to finally meet you.”

“It is pleasing to make your acquaintance as well.” Sarek says with a nod. Having apparently greeted Jim sufficiently, he turns to Amanda. “It is most pleasant to see you, my wife.”

He extends two fingers and Amanda smiles and presses her fingertips to his in a simple gesture. Jim sinks down into his chair with the feeling that he might be intruding on a more private moment between the couple.

Amanda apparently senses this, because she turns to Jim and shakes her head. “I see that’s one more rumor you’ve heard. While touching fingers is often called a “Vulcan kiss”, it’s not exactly the same as the human equivalent.”

“My wife is, unsurprisingly, correct in this matter.” Sarek agrees with a quirk of his lips that reminds Jim so much of Spock. “The action can be modified with movement to induce pleasure, but in cases such as this, it is symbolic of the bond between the participants. Vulcans are touch telepaths, as you know. The act of this simple touch connecting two people who love each other, and allowing them to share their thoughts, creates a semblance of the bond that the two share, or will someday share.”

“Oh…wow.” Jim says slowly, mulling over the significance of every time that Jim has touched his fingers to Spock’s. It threatens to overwhelm him, but it mostly brings a warm feeling to the pit of his stomach, something like longing and happiness. “That’s something to think about.”

“And I might suggest that you think positively about it. You have proven to be an excellent match for my son.” Sarek says sternly. “It is satisfying to see him with someone so perfectly made for him.”

Amanda beams brightly first at Jim, and then gives her husband a softer expression. Sarek returns the sentiment with a softening of his eyes.

“I love your son, and all I want for him is happiness,” Jim says confidently, “But are you sure that I’m really the one who can do that for him?”

“Yes. I am quite certain you are.”

-

Jim often feels pathetic, relying on Janice to drive him places. He never much enjoyed driving himself when he was healthier, but now the fact that he can’t in good conscience without running the risk of collapsing in the driver’s seat makes him itch to drive himself.

Still, he’s nervous as they pull up to his house. He is almost certain that she’s gone with her plan of many years to throw him a surprise party, and Jim just is not up for it in the slightest.

Janice leads him to the front door, allowing him to rest a hand on her elbow in case he needs her support as they trudge through the thick snow. She opens the door and gestures for him to walk ahead of her.

“Jan, I know your intentions are good but-“

“Shush. Just go.” Janice cuts him off with a wave towards the door. “I promise, you won’t hate me for this.”

Jim sighs in resignation and nods. He takes a few steps into the house, bracing himself for the chorus of ‘SURPRISE’ that’s surely coming his way.

Instead, he’s met with the scent of curry coming from his kitchen and the lights dimmed. Jim follows the rose petals on the ground toward the dining room, heart in his throat. “Spock?” He asks timidly, voice cracking, “What is this?”

The man in question is standing in the dining room wearing a form defining dark grey suit with a slender blue tie holding a large bouquet of roses and wearing an expression that is wide open and happy. “Happy birthday, Jim.”

Jim looks at the table set beautifully with plates of Indian food and candles. He covers his mouth with his hand in shock. “You did all this?”

Spock nods. “I had some assistance from your friends, but the idea was mine.” He extends two fingers in Jim’s direction. “I wanted you to have pleasant memories of your birthday this year.”

Jim nods, the lump in his throat growing and tears prickling the backs of his eyes. He finds himself to be quite overcome with gratefulness and love for the other man. “This is amazing, and so beautiful. Thank you, I love you.”

Jim touches his fingers to Spock’s, mind going back to Sarek’s words earlier. He presses his fingers more firmly to his love’s. Jim steps forward and cups Spock’s face with his free hand. He presses their lips together in a kiss, effectively crushing the roses between them.

“Come, sit.” Spock says when they break apart. He seems almost excited as he pulls Jim’s chair out for him to sit in. Jim gives him a curious look but obliges.

They eat accompanied with pleasant conversation, as they do most nights. Still, Jim notices that Spock doesn’t seem to be totally invested in the conversation, even when Jim starts dissecting Ravoux Garan’s most recent novel and its references to Oscar Wilde.

“Spock, what’s wrong? You haven’t calmed down this whole meal.” Jim asks finally as he sets his fork down. “Is something wrong?”

Spock shakes his head and adjusts his tie. “No, there is absolutely nothing wrong.” He reaches across the table to hold Jim’s hand in his own. “You make me happy, Jim.”

Jim laughs awkwardly and runs a hand through his hair. “You make me happy too, Spock.”

“On Vulcan, it is tradition as I’m sure you know, for couples who complete each other in such a way that we do to bond. This means a complete connection of their minds and souls, so that they might be forever entwined. Jim, I wish to bond with thee.”

Jim’s breath catches in his throat.

Spock reaches into his breast pocket and pulls out a small velvet box, which he places on the table. “To use the human expression, will you marry me, James Kirk?”

Jim’s hands shake as he pulls them both in toward his chest, leaving Spock’s hand empty upon the table. “Isn’t the purpose of being bonded to be never parted?”

“Yes.”

“Then why would you want to bond with me? I mean, Bones says I probably won’t make it to my next birthday. Doesn’t that make the whole ‘never parted’ thing a little pointless?”

Spock’s countenance closes off briefly, before turning to one of yearning. “Jim, I wish for my mind to be connected to yours for as long as we have. It would bring me such great joy.”

“And then such great pain.” Jim finishes for him. “Spock, when I die, you’ll be alone. I’ve read about Vulcans who lose their bondmates, and it’s not fun. I could never make you hurt in such a way.”

“Jim, I am certain that this is what I want. I wish to feel your presence in my mind. I wish to be able to provide strength for you through that bond. I cherish thee, t’hy’la.” Spock reaches out to cup Jim’s cheek with his right hand. Jim covers it with his own before slowly moving it away.

“Spock, you don’t need to put yourself through that for me.”

With that, Spock is out of his seat and rounding the table to stand by Jim. He looks down at Jim, clearly agitated by Jim’s actions. He grabs Jim’s face tightly and tilts his face up towards him. “James, I must insist that you cease this.” He kneels down so that their faces are nearly level and does not let go of Jim’s face. “If you truly do not wish to bond with me, then I understand, but I believe that it would bring you happiness. I know that it would bring me incredible joy to have you.”

Jim stares into Spock’s chocolate brown eyes that have never looked Vulcan, always shown so much human emotion. Those eyes that Jim has been trying so hard to keep from bringing any amount of pain. Jim squeezes his eyes shut.

“I don’t want to marry you.”

Spock’s hands fly from Jim’s face and Jim can’t bring himself to open his eyes. He knows that Spock is probably so hurt and open and Jim can’t look at him and know that he is responsible for that. “What?”

Jim forces out a hoarse laugh. “Spock, we’ve only known each other for, what? Five months? Of course I don’t want to marry you.”

The words burn in his throat and Jim wants to grab them out of the air and take them back, but this is what’s right. This is what Spock deserves.

Spock deserves to live happily ever after, and Jim can’t give him that.

There is a rustling of Spock’s clothes as he stands up. Jim opens his eyes finally to find Spock standing ramrod straight, with a completely blank expression across his face. “Very well. I believe that it would be most prudent if I went home at this time.”

“Yeah, you should do that.” Jim concurs while staring at the floor. “Go back to your life.”

-

Spock’s home is unfamiliar to him. He has rarely had cause to sleep in his own bed for the past few months that he has been with James. For all intents and purposes, Spock was living in the other man’s home, keeping this house only as a formality.

“Lights, fifty percent.” Spock commands as he walks into his dark home. It smells of cleaning chemicals, a sign that the crew that he hires has indeed not ceased coming by every Saturday. The air is cold in his home, and Spock gives an involuntary shudder.

Spock walks up the carpeted stairs toward his bedroom upstairs. The plush brown carpet is soft underneath his shoes. He toes them off when he enters his bedroom, picking them up and placing them in their place at the bottom of his closet. Spock examines the few shirts he has hanging. He must ask Janice to retrieve his clothes from Jim’s house.

Spock slowly removes his clothes much in the same manner which he did before he met Jim. He carefully gathers each article in his arms and places them in the laundry hamper made of dark wicker that matches the dark wood of his bedframe and other furniture.

Clad now only in an undershirt and a pair of boxers, Spock climbs into bed beneath his dark blue sheets. The queen bed feels incredibly large and makes Spock feel colder than usual.

He had been so certain that Jim would agree to marry him. Spock had so desperately wanted to bond with his beloved that he had not thought it possible that it might not be what Jim would want.

Spock loves Jim, and now Jim has said that he does not want him. Spock thinks vaguely that he now knows what humans are talking about when they speak of love hurting.

Unable to find rest, Spock resorts to a method used by him frequently. He pulls his padd out and taps a few buttons until he has pulled up the video chat app.

“Spock? Why are you calling so early? How did it go?

Spock relaxes at the sight of Amanda on the small screen. “I find myself in need of comfort, Mother.”

-

The ringbox that Spock left on Jim’s table sits untouched on the dining room table. Jim passes it often as he walks his house the morning after his birthday, but he refuses to give it a second chance. It’s better this way.

Spock will be happier in the long run without Jim there to hurt him in the long run. He’ll find someone else that he wants to bond with, someone who has the chance of living just as long as himself.

Still, Jim cannot ignore how empty his home feels without Spock occupying it. Since October, Jim had managed to grow rather used to Spock slowly inhabiting more and more of his life. Now that the other man was surely gone for good, Jim was not sure how to adjust to the life he lived before.

Jim has just settled into his chair to continue work on the novel that keeps changing shape before his eyes when Janice walks in. From the sound of her footsteps, she’s clearly upset with him. Jim braces himself.

“Jim, are you alright?”

Jim is surprised. Janice sounds genuinely concerned for his wellbeing. “Uh, yeah, I think so. Are you?”

Janice comes into the living room and sets down her bag, collapsing onto the loveseat. “Honey, you broke up with the love of your life last night. I’m doing awesome but that’s not really important at the moment.”

Jim sighs and puts down the padd and stylus that he was holding. He runs a hand through his hair that really needs a wash and shakes his head. “It sucks. I mean, I know it was the right thing to do considering, but it sucks.”

Janice offers a small smile and reaches out to take Jim’s hand in her own. “I know. I can’t even imagine what you’re going through, but it cannot be fun.”

“I’ll be fine eventually.”

Janice nods and Jim can tell that she’s holding back from what it is that she really wants to say. Jim squeezes her hand and sighs. “Come on, what do you really want to tell me?”

“It’s not very nice.” Janice admits quietly. “I’m trying to be a supportive friend for once.”

“I appreciate it, but I hired you because you’re a hardass.”

This brings a genuine grin to Janice’s face. She squeezes Jim’s hand in return. “Jim, I love you dearly, but you’re an idiot.”

“There it is.”

“That boy loves you and you love him. What you share isn’t something that everyone gets, so you should cherish it and not throw it away. You dumping him like you did, because yes, I talked to Spock, was an asshole move. If you didn’t want to hurt him, that certainly wasn’t the way to do it.” Janice has to pause to actually catch her breath.

Jim stares at her, not totally shocked that this is the lecture that his assistant has been holding back. “What do you propose I do?”

“Marry him, asshole.” Janice says like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “I know you think you’re being noble here, and the sentiment really is beautiful, but the only thing you’re doing here is making yourself miserable.”

“It’s just to avoid making Spock miserable in the future.” Jim says. “I just want him to be happy.”

“Well he’s not without you.” Janice says simply. “You two complete each other. Give yourself a chance.”

With that, Janice slaps Jim lightly on the shoulder and leaves the room to go up to her bedroom upstairs.

Jim spends the majority of the rest of the afternoon sitting in his chair struggling with a portion of his story that he for some reason cannot figure out. After about twenty minutes of struggling, Jim figures that he isn’t going to get anywhere with it.

For the first time in a long time, Jim finds himself unable to sit still. He paces a rut in his living room rug. He goes into the kitchen and studies the contents of the fridge for a good twenty minutes, finally choosing to replicate himself a bowl of sugary cereal.

He refuses to accept that he’s wallowing in self-pity. Jim refuses to accept that what he did is causing him any pain, because he knows that what he did was right.

Or, he did before he met Spock.

Before Spock, Jim knew exactly what he wanted. Jim was sure that he would be alone for the rest of his life, that he would spend the last bit of his short life alone because he’d always been alone and Jim didn’t want to rope anyone else into his pathetic life.

After Spock, Jim finds himself questioning everything that he said he wanted. He has been happier than ever in his life since he made the leap that he denied for so long. Jim can’t help but wonder if he might be happier if he made this final leap.

Jim sits at the table, mind whirring away at a million miles an hour. It’s a huge commitment and Jim knows that leaving Spock alone will hurt him, but the hurt that Jim is feeling now, without Spock here, is a pain that makes Jim wonder if it will ever leave.

He can’t just walk away, not now.

Jim reaches out to grasp the small velvet box that was left on his table last night. He runs his fingers over the soft fabric before finally taking in a deep breath and cracking it open.

Jim exhales sharply as he gazes at the ring. He picks it up gingerly and turns it over in his hands. It’s brushed platinum with a row of square diamonds that shine more than any that he’s ever seen embedded in the band going all the way around.

Inside the band is golic script that Jim doesn’t recognize and can’t read. He wishes in vain that he had taken that Vulcan course in college. Jim runs a finger over the thin script, feeling the thin lines under his skin.

Without thinking, Jim slips the ring on his left ring finger. It fits perfectly and Jim laughs in spite of himself. Of course Spock would know his exact sizing without even having to ask.

Jim really doesn’t deserve him.

The ring not only fits perfectly physically, it feels right on his hand. Jim cannot help but feel like it belongs there, like he never wants to remove it.

Jim decides right then and there.

-

Spock kneels on the mat that his mother wove for him when he was fourteen years of age. The edges are fraying and the colors fading, but it cushions Spock’s knees as he kneels to meditate just as well as it did when he first acquired it.

Spock’s hands rest on his knees lightly so that the touch is nearly imperceptible. He breathes in until his lungs feel fit to burst, then releases it suddenly in a whoosh of air.

He was behaving absurdly. Spock let his emotions control his actions for too long and the consequences had been most unpleasant. He should have considered the fact that Jim would not want to marry him. After all, James had been reluctant to engage in a romantic relationship in the first place.

It should have been so obvious.

Spock breathes deeply once more and tries to wash the unpleasant feelings away. Spock is better without Jim, he must be. He cannot allow this unfortunate happening to influence the rest of his life for the worse. Spock must follow the logical path of moving on.

He considers moving back to Vulcan to engage in a less human way of life. He could join a research team that works with Pre-reform literature and employ his time in that way. He does not doubt that his mother would be happy to have him back.

Spock is so deep in his meditative state that he does not hear the door to his home open. He does not hear the footsteps coming up the stairs and into his room. It is not until someone kneels beside him that he realizes he is not alone.

Spock opens his eyes as a hand covers his own on his knee. Spock knows the presence before he sees Jim sitting beside him. “James.” He breaths out.

It seems to Spock to be almost like a dream. Part of himself is questioning whether or not Jim is actually sitting beside him. Spock blinks in a very human attempt to verify that Jim is there.

“Spock.” Jim says, a slight smile playing across his lips. “Why do you keep believing me when I lie?”

Spock raises an eyebrow at Jim. “I do not understand.”

“I lied, Spock.” Jim says plainly. “I was trying so hard to keep from hurting you, I didn’t realize how blind I really was. But I know now, you are my t’hy’la.”

Spock is still uncertain as to what it is that Jim is implying with his words. An irrational part of his mind attempts to come up with possibilities, but he ignores those suggestions fervently. Spock will not be hurt again. “I informed you of this some time ago. However, it is of no matter now.”

Jim’s face falls before turning to an expression of increased earnestness. “No, Spock, that’s what I’m trying to say. It matters so much. I didn’t get it before, I thought that it would be better to be apart from you, but I was wrong. It hurts so much more to be apart from you, knowing that you’re so close than it does to think about leaving you behind. If we can be together, we should be.”

Spock simply stares at Jim, sensing that he is not yet finished.

“I guess what I’m trying to say is, will you marry me, Spock?” Jim asks with a shy smile. He holds up his left hand and Spock sees that Jim is wearing the ring that Spock left at his home the previous night.

“I made my opinion on the matter quite clear last night.”

Jim grins and shoves at Spock’s shoulder lightly. “Come on, Spock, ruined your proposal last night. Please let me redeem myself. Will you marry me?”

“Yes.” Spock replies and feels the corners of his mouth twitch up at Jim’s antics. Spock muses that he will always behave irrationally when it comes to Jim. “Of course, Ashayam.”

A laugh escapes Jim’s lips and he grins so widely that it seems to illuminate the room. He launches himself forward at Spock and hugs him tightly. “Oh, Spock. I’m so sorry.”

Spock wraps his arms around Jim and exerts quite possibly too much strength in crushing him to his chest, but Jim does not complain. Spock cannot help the waves of emotion that wash over him and through him as he holds Jim once more. He had truly been thinking that he had lost Jim forever over a miscalculation, and to have him in his arms once more is overwhelming.

Spock is happy.

-

Jim wakes up to find a Vulcan and three blankets wrapped around himself. Jim smiles and burrows further into the warmth. It had not taken Spock long the previous night to realize that Jim had come over in the snow with nothing more to protect him for the cold than his sweater, and that he was thus absolutely freezing. Spock had insisted upon Jim wearing a pair of his warmest pajamas and several blankets when they went to bed, both of them too tired to engage in some of the activities that Jim wanted to. Still, Jim learned something very important about Spock last night.

Spock loves creature comforts.

This bed is one of the top five beds that Jim has slept in in his entire life. The sheets and blankets are all incredibly warm and soft. Jim chuckles to himself at the thought of Spock shopping for bedding, running his sensitive fingers over the fabrics until he finds something acceptable.

“Jim.” Spock says slowly, voice scratchy and hoarse. “You are awake quite early.”

Jim turns in Spock’s arms so that they are facing one another. He smiles sheepishly. “Irregular sleep patterns. You know how it is.”

Spock smiles softly at Jim and traces the contour of his cheek. “It is most pleasing to see you in my bed.” He presses an insistent kiss to Jim’s lips.

“Good morning to you too, Professor Spock.” Jim giggles against his lips and grinds his hips forward at the Vulcan’s very obvious hard on. “By the way, this bed? I’m totally stealing it. This is like sleeping on a cloud.” He flops over onto his back.

Spock follows him, pressing kisses to his neck. “Jim, please.” He whines.

Jim smirks up at Spock, unable to resist the urge to be a tease. “Please what? Do you need something? Food? Water?”

“I need you.” Spock growls out as he sucks bruises into Jim’s neck and makes him gasp and buck upwards. Spock smirks deviously. “And it would seem that the feeling is mutual.”

“Are you suggesting we have torrid engagement sex?” Jim asks, “Cuz if so, I am so in.”

Spock rolls on top of Jim and raises and eyebrow. “I had assumed that was quite obvious.”

“You’re such a little shit.” Jim laughs and pulls Spock down into a messy kiss.

Jim can’t help the happy giggles that escape his lips as Spock grinds down on him, punctuated by broken moans and whispered need. Just when he can tell that Spock is getting close to losing control completely, Jim hooks his legs around Spock’s back and rolls them over. He reaches down to grip the base of Spock’s cock, unsure of when exactly he lost his pants.

“Jim.” Spock whines brokenly, attempting to buck up under Jim’s weight.

Jim tsks and shakes his head. “Patience is a virtue, dear.”

He shimmies out of Spock’s pajamas and reaches over to the drawer of the bedside table to grab the bottle of lube that he so hoped would be there. Jim reaches behind himself and opens himself up slowly while he leans forward to kiss Spock slowly. Once he’s finally ready, he pulls back and gives a slow smirk. “Are you ready?”

Spock nods fervently and grips at the sheets as Jim takes Spock’s cock and lines it up with his hole. He sinks down slowly, moaning in a slightly performative manner as he makes his journey down.

“Jim.” Spock growls and flips them over again.

Jim giggles at the aggression, covering his mouth as he does. “I’m sorry.” He gasps out, causing Spock to still his motions.

“What is wrong? Would you like me to stop?” Spock asks.

Jim shakes his head and grins. “You’re so sweet. No, I’m fine. I’m just…really really happy.”

Spock’s countenance softens and he leans down to kiss Jim softly. “I too am very content at this moment.”

Jim grins and moans happily as Spock thrusts into him slowly.

Spock comes only moments after Jim does, pulling out slowly and collapsing beside him.

Jim rolls over and wraps his arms around Spock. “You know, it’s still pretty early.”

“I believe a little more time in bed could be beneficial.”

Spock finally manages to get Jim out of bed about four hours later under the insistence that he eat something that day. Jim sits at the island in the beautifully appointed kitchen that looks exactly like Jim always imagined Spock’s kitchen would look.

“What does the engraving say?” He asks idly, turning the ring around in his fingers.

“Tahluk nash-veh k’dular.” Spock answers as he flips the omelet in the pan. “It is Vulcan for ‘I cherish thee.’”

Jim grins broadly and slips the ring back on his finger. He slips off of his stool and walks over to wrap his arms around Spock’s waist. “You, Professor Spock, are a total textbook sap.”

“I protest that accusation on intellectual grounds.” Spock responds, but Jim can hear the humor in his voice. “It is logical to adorn beautiful things. You are beautiful, thus it was logical to design an equally beautiful ring for you to wear.”

“Hmm,” Jim hums and tightens his arms, “I call bullshit. Tell me more about the ring that you apparently designed.”

Spock flips the omelet onto a plate and turns off the stove. He guides Jim over to the small kitchen table and makes him sit to eat before finally speaking. “The ring was made by the same Vulcan jeweler who crafted my mother’s wedding ring.”

Jim resists the urge to ‘aw’ at the sentiment.

“I designed the ring myself with the help of Amanda.” Spock takes Jim’s hand and studies the ring intently. “The band is platinum from Earth and the diamonds are from the k’dira region of Vulcan.”

“No shit?” Jim asks with a squeak in his voice. “K’dira diamonds? Those are some of the most valuable in the world. No wonder they’re so fucking bright!”

“You deserve the best.” Spock states simply as though it is the most logical thing in the world.

Jim twists the ring on his finger and observes the way the diamonds catch the light and reflect it brilliantly. “It’s incredible, Spock, and it’s perfect. You always know just what to do.”

“I thought that I had lost you forever.” Spock admits, seeming almost bashful. “To have you here with me is incredibly satisfying. I love you dearly, and I am glad that you have agreed to bond with me.”

Jim slides his fingers against Spock’s lightly. “I’m so sorry I behaved like an idiot. I shouldn’t have tried to push you away like I did. But I came to a realization: I’m dying, yes, but I’m not dead yet. I should be taking this time to live rather than waiting for death.”

Spock’s mouth quirks up and to Jim it looks like a full-blown grin. Spock picks Jim’s hand up and kisses his knuckles. “I am most pleased at this realization. “

“I figured you would be.”

Chapter Text

Jim was surprised to find that Janice did not throw a party for him on his birthday. He is not, however, surprised to find that she throws him a party on the Saturday after his birthday, complete with his mother flown in from Iowa and Chris Pike from California.

“You know, I’m so glad to see that Jim has settled down finally.” Pike says to Spock with a grin. He winks at Jim and continues, “When he found out he was sick, he actually ran away. Did you know that?”

Spock raises an eyebrow at Jim. “He mentioned it briefly.”

Pike laughs. “Yeah, well, he tried to join Starfleet and everything. I had to gather him up and talk some sense into him. I thought this kid was going to be so reckless that he’d kill himself before TFD even got a chance.”

Spock stiffens slightly beside Jim, and Jim wraps an arm around his waist. “Thank you, Christopher. You’re just as polite and tactful as I always remembered.”

Jim steers away from the Captain and slumps slightly against Spock. “I love that guy to death but good lord.”

“I’m sure people would understand if we chose to sit and allow others to come to us rather than making a grand tour of your living room.” Spock suggests as he guides them in the direction of said couch. He forces Jim to sit down. “I will go get you a glass of water.”

“What a gentleman.” Jim grumbles good-naturedly. He watches as his fiancé strides off into the party to get him some water, and likely one of the finger sandwiches that Janice prepared for the occasion. Jim smiles to himself.

“James Kirk.” Jim looks up to find Sarek and Amanda standing in front of him. Jim coughs and clears his throat, which is suddenly dry as parchment.

He doesn’t know how much they know about the whole engagement story. “Hello, sir. Ma’am.” He inclines his head slightly.

He doesn’t stand, knows they don’t expect him to, but offers the small sign of respect that he can and definitely sits up straighter.

“Relax, dear.” Amanda says with a soft grin as she sinks onto the couch next to Jim. “We’re not mad at you.”

“You’re not?” Jim croaks out. Where is Spock with that water?

Amanda shakes her head and places a hand on Jim’s shoulder. Sarek inclines his head where he’s standing. “Indeed, James. We are in fact quite glad that you have chosen to be bonded to our son.”

“As odd as the journey might have been.” Amanda finishes for Sarek with a twinkle in her eye. She bats Jim on the shoulder lightly. “Even though you did break our son’s heart for a moment there.”

Jim sucks his bottom lip into his mouth and stares down at his lap once more. He narrows his eyes at the ring. “I wish I hadn’t done that.”

“We all do things we wish we hadn’t.”

Jim looks hopefully up at Amanda, who is still smiling softly at him, her lavender headscarf framing her kind features ethereally. She nods her head slightly, as though able to read his mind and see the questions therein. “I almost married another man before Sarek. Vulcan rituals scared me enough to make me deny my feelings for him. You have been quite brave, dear.”

“Indeed.” Sarek agrees. “Most beings are not so eager to be involved with a race which values permanence in relations such as ours.”

“Not to mention that pride of theirs.” Amanda says with a wink. “Not that they’ll ever admit it.”

Jim laughs and feels something relax in his chest. He hadn’t realized how nervous the prospect of speaking to Spock’s parents had made him until he finally had confirmation that Amanda wasn’t going to kill him.

“I spoke to Spock the night he proposed.” Amanda says solemnly. “He was absolutely crushed at the time, but I told him that I didn’t think this was the end between you two. You have no idea how glad I am that I was right.”

“You so often are.” Sarek adds.

Jim looks between the couple and watches as Amanda extends two fingers to touch Sarek’s. Amanda grins inwardly and Jim gets the sense that there’s another conversation going on here. One that he is not a part of.

“I’m so glad I have you two as an example of sorts.” Jim admits.

Amanda waves him off. “Oh, we have our problems, I assure you.”

“Still, you are a very strong couple.”

“Thank you for the sentiment, James. Now, I believe that Admiral Pike wanted to have a word with us, and it would be most prudent if we made our way over there now.” Sarek says, extending a hand to help his wife off of the couch.

“Happy birthday, Jim.” Amanda says with a grin as she is swept away. Jim watches them go for a moment. He can’t help but wish he had some hope that he and Spock could be like that someday. Jim wants nothing more than to give that to him.

Jim’s longing is interrupted by his frazzled assistant rushing up to him.

“Jim, we might have a small problem.” Janice says, a note of rarely heard panic in her voice as she sits beside him on the couch.

Jim turns to her with a small smile. “What is it? I’m sure it’s fine if not everything is perfect.”

Janice shakes her head hurriedly. “No, that’s not it. It’s just…someone who was definitely not invited showed up.”

Jim has just begun to ask who it is when a loud voice comes from the entry hall of his home.

“What do you mean I shouldn’t be here? He’s my kid brother!”

Jim turns to Janice with wide eyes and she responds with a grimace. “It’s your brother.”

Jim starts. He hasn’t seen his older brother since he was ten years old. Sam walked out of Jim’s life and Jim has had no idea what happened to him since then, nor does he really care.

That is, he didn’t care until George Samuel Kirk Jr. showed up on his doorstep. Jim stands up, ignoring Janice’s protestations. “Sammy?”

“Jim!” Comes a call from the other side of the house. “Can you tell your scary lady friend to let me in?”

Jim rounds the corner to find Nyota standing in front of a man who looks very much like Jim with broader shoulders, with her hands on her hips and looking very much like the intimidating woman that she is. “Ny, let him in.”

Nyota looks around in surprise. “Janice told me not to under any circumstances.”

“Well, I own this house, not Janice, so I say let him in.” Jim says definitively. He folds his arms across his chest as he takes in the sight of his brother standing in front of him for the first time in seventeen years.

“Jimmy.” Sam says with a grin on his face and he steps forward to fold Jim into a hug. Jim stiffly returns it.

“Sam. I don’t mean to be rude, but why are you here?”

Sam steps away and grimaces. He rubs the back of his neck and sighs. “I heard the news. It’s been all over the place since you announced it.”

“What, that I’m dying?” Jim asks bluntly and takes a small amount of pleasure in the way that Sam winces. “Sam, we haven’t spoken since I still wet the bed.”

Sam frowns and mirrors Jim’s posture. His tan jacket is stretched across his broad shoulders and Jim can’t help but wonder if he’d look more like Sam had he never gotten sick. Jim tries to imagine himself with broad shoulders and without the dark circles under his eyes, more like what he looked like in college.

“Jim, I should have contacted you earlier, I know.” Sam says with a note of desperation in his voice. “But I was so busy on Deneva with my family and-“

Jim holds up a hand to stop him. “You’ve been on Deneva? You have a family? Sam, can’t you see how insane this is?”

Sam steps forward to grip Jim by the shoulders. He shakes him a little bit and Jim’s eyes go wide before Sam realizes what he’s done and stepps away, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Jim, I know it’s insane. I know that I shouldn’t have walked away from you, and I can’t be sorry enough. It must have sucked being alone all that time.”

“I went to Tarsus because of you.” Jim snaps suddenly and steps into Sam’s space. “I’m sick. You can’t just show up and expect me to want a relationship.”

“Jimmy!” Winona’s voice comes from behind him and Jim looks around to find that most everyone has cleared out of the area save for Bones and Spock, with his mother just now entering the scene. “You can’t blame him for all that.”

Jim turns on her, feeling like fire is coursing through his veins. He’s been playing nice all these years, and now he feels like he can’t do that anymore. “And why not? If he hadn’t left me alone with Frank, I wouldn’t have gotten sent there. I wouldn’t have had to watch our family die.” He takes a deep breath and shakes his head. “I wouldn’t be dying.”

Jim clenches his hands into fists, his nails digging into his palms until he fears he might break skin. He takes a deep breath and leaves the room, heading toward his bedroom. He feels more energetic than he has in a long time.

“Party’s over, everyone get out.” He hears Bones call behind him, as well as the soft footsteps of Spock trailing him.

Jim reaches his room and waits for Spock to enter behind him and shut the door before Jim collapses onto the bed, laying on his back with his legs hanging off the edge. “Before you say anything, I know that was illogical. I know it makes no sense to blame him for everything. I know.”

Spock sits beside Jim and Jim can feel the waves of calm coming off of him. “I was not going to say that.”

Jim opens his eyes in surprise. “Really?”

“It is unfortunate that your brother has only chosen to reach out to you when your illness became highly publicized.” Spock says smoothly. “It was….unfair of him to expect you to welcome him back.”

“It really is.” Jim agrees. He reaches over to place his hand on top of Spock’s. He strokes their fingers together lightly and relishes in the warmth and affection that comes through that contact. “I don’t know what to do, Spock.”

“I do not believe it is your job to do anything. I believe that it is your brother’s responsibility to mend whatever relationship you might have, since he is the one who broke it.”

Jim sits up with some effort and looks at Spock, their fingers still twined together loosely. He searches his partner’s face and Spock looks back with evident emotion in his eyes. “You think so?”

Spock presses his lips to Jim’s lightly. “It is only logical.”

-

“Sort of a Kirk family reunion, huh?” Sam says with a nervous laugh as he joins Jim and Winona at the table in the small café.

Jim purses his lips and bites back the insult that he so wants to throw in Sam’s direction. “I’m here because Mom insisted I be here, and since I don’t actually want to tear the family apart, I came.”

“Jim, perhaps you should apologize to your brother for what you said at your party.” Winona suggests nervously. Jim side-eyes her. Never in all his years has he heard Winona Kirk sound anything less than absolutely sure of herself. Jim almost feels bad for being so stubborn.

Almost.

Jim keeps his mouth shut and his arms folded tightly across his chest. He probably looks like a petulant child, but he has every right to act this way, he knows.

“Should we order?” Winona suggests after waiting a beat for Jim to say anything. He does not.

Jim shakes his head. “We’re actually waiting on someone.”

“Oh, is Spock coming?” Winona asks with a small smile.

Just at that moment, Bones walks up to the table, looking just as tired as usual. He sits down across from Sam and smiles. “Sorry I’m late.”

“I invited Bones. You said this was a family lunch, and Bones is my family.” Jim explains with a smirk. “He’s been the best brother figure I could ask for.”

He’s baiting Sam. Trying to provoke a fight, and all eyes are on Jim as he stares down Sam, waiting for a response.

All Sam does is reach into his pocket and fish out a wallet. He opens it to reveal a picture of himself with a woman and two children. “This is my family. My wife, Aurelan, and my kids, Peter and Mary.”

Winona lets out a slight squeal and grabs the wallet. “Oh, Sam, they’re beautiful.”

“Yeah, they look great. And so grown up.” Jim says in a deadpan voice. “Peter looks like he’s about ten? So it’s been a whole decade that we haven’t known about him.”

“Jim,” Bones says warningly. He raises an eyebrow and tilts his head toward Sam. “I’m sure your brother has had his reasons.”

Sam nods and smiles. “I mean, I heard about you and all your success and I just figured that you didn’t really need me in your life anymore. You did so much without me.”

“What choice did I have?”

“I’m proud of you, Jimmy.”

“So, what? You’re here to take part in everything I’ve done? Gunna be that big brother that everyone will just love?”

Sam sighs and shakes his head. He looks desperately to Bones for assistance but receives only a grimace and a shrug in response. “Jim, I’m here because I should’ve been here a while ago.

“I know that I should say that I wish I never left, but I can’t. Leaving meant meeting Aurelan and finding myself. But I do wish that I’d come back earlier, or at least written a letter.”

This shuts Jim up. He still feels a stir of bitterness in his stomach, still can’t help but blame Sam for his being sick, but something inside of him pulls to forgive same at least for a moment. “Look, just don’t lose contact again. I mean, you could’ve at least called Mom.”

“I know.”

-

Jim is masculine. He is comfortable in said masculinity. He also understands, however, that said masculinity is overrated and he should be able to wear a yogurt face mask and shape his nails without judgement.

“I’m so glad we decided to have a girls’ night.” Uhura sighs out from beside him on the couch, leaning back with her feet on the coffee table, cucumbers covering her eyes. Janice hums her agreement from Jim’s other side.

Jim snorts and shakes his head. “I object to that name on moral grounds. It’s not just girls who can do this stuff.”

“But the majority of us here are girls.” Janice fires back. “And you’re pretty Jim. So you count.”

“The prettiest.” Uhura agrees.

“And don’t think you fooled us with those exfoliating hand treatments, pretty boy.” Janice says with a smirk in her voice. “We all know that was for Spock’s benefit.”

Jim’s face grows hot beneath his mask and he wrinkles his nose slightly. He could tell from the looks on the girl’s faces that he’d been caught the moment he suggested it. “What are we getting for dinner?” He asks in a desperate bid for a subject change.

“I don’t know but you’re paying.” The girls respond in unison before dissolving into giggles.

“Should we order enough for Gaila and Bones?” Jim sits up and grabs a warm towel from the table and begins wiping off his face.

“Well, if Gaila’s thing for the good doctor has kept up, they might be hungry when they get back.” Janice remarks much to the surprise of the other two. “What? I don’t care who she sleeps with, so long as I’m the only one she makes cheesecake stuffed French toast for the next day.”

“I feel a lot better about ogling her breasts the other day, then.” Uhura says with a grin as she wipes off her mask.

Janice chuckles and shakes her head. “You’re not exactly subtle, you know. It’s adorable.”

Uhura sticks her tongue out at Janice and throws a cucumber slice at her, which gets lodged in Janice’s hair.

Jim gets off the couch before this turns into an all-out war. “Okay, so I’m gunna order some thai food, enough for Gaila and Bones too just in case they sleep together.”

“Right on.” Janice says with a thumbs up. “And don’t wimp out on the spice. I like it hot.”

“Is that so?” Nyota winks at Janice and grins lasciviously before shaking herself and running her hand through her hair. “Wait, never mind, I’m a married woman.”

In the kitchen, Jim drops his comm with a clatter. “What the fuck? You’re married?”

Nyota looks at him coolly and nods. “Yeah. For about a month now. Christine and I went down to city hall and had it done. Very low-key.”

Jim gapes at her and shakes his head. “No fucking way you did that without inviting any of us.”

“Spock was our witness.” Nyota adds with a smirk like she knows exactly what she is doing to Jim and his poor heart at this moment. He clutches his chest and leans against the counter.

“Spock!” He calls out suddenly.

The speed at which Spock is in the room is alarming. Jim eyes him, wondering how quickly he must have dropped his work to rush out here. His fiancé obviously thought that Jim was in trouble and Jim can’t help but feel guilty.

“Don’t worry. Everything’s fine.” Jim waves him off before remembering why he’s angry. “Except for the fact that you were the witness when Chris and Ny got married and didn’t even tell me.”

“I did not think it necessary. The women involved asked that I keep it ‘under wraps.’”

“Oh my god.” Jim puts a hand to his forehead and leans against the counter. “I can’t believe this. What if we just eloped and didn’t tell anyone.”

“You’re too much of a diva for that.” Nyota responds, popping a grape into her mouth.

“Not true.”

“So true it hurts.”

Jim pouts at Spock, who simply raises an eyebrow that tells Jim all that he needs to know. The traitor is siding with Nyota on this one.

“Traitor.” Jim grumbles under his breath with an exaggerated frown. He quickly schools his expression into something more calm, it would kill him to prove everyone right about his diva attitude.

Nyota laughs and shakes her head slowly. “So, when are you two tying the knot?”

Jim purses his lips and glances at Spock nervously. “We were thinking late February?”

Janice coughs and holds a hand to her chest. “So you’re telling me I’ve got a month to plan this thing? Jesus H Christ, I’m going to need more gin.” She heads off to the liquor cabinet in the dining room, muttering under her breath the whole time.

“Vulcan marriages do not require quite as much planning as human weddings do, as the traditions are far stricter.”

Nyota nods slowly. “So, you’re doing a Vulcan bonding ceremony and not a human wedding?”

“Indeed. We both thought it most frugal to do so. We will, however, be hosting a small reception for our closest friends and family afterwards.”

Jim’s cheeks flush and he smiles shyly. “I know we should have told you guys earlier but we’ve only been engaged for about two weeks and it’s been sort of crazy.” He explains sheepishly. “Honestly, it’s a tad overwhelming.”

Janice comes back into the room with a refreshed glass of booze. “I’ll get right on the catering and decorations for the reception. Is your family going to be setting up the Vulcan half, Spock? ‘Cause I honestly would have no idea what I was doing there.”

Spock nods his assent. “Yes, my parents are currently engaged in arranging the necessary facets of the ceremony. They have already informed T’Pau of her necessary travel arrangements.”

“T’Pau?” Jim says, completely shocked. He knew who she was, anyone who knew anything about the politics of the federation did. For her to be attending their wedding…. “Exactly how important is your family?”

“T’Pau is the matriarch of his family.” Nyota says with a smirk. “Didn’t know you were marrying royalty, did you?”

“Holy fucking shit.” Jim rubs his temples and leans against the counter. “This wedding is actually a big deal, isn’t it?”

“I will ensure that it is not more stressful than is necessary, James.” Spock assures Jim with a steady hand on his back. “The importance of my family is widely known, yes, but this is to be a strictly private affair.”

Jim glances up at Spock through his fingers. “You’re sure?”

“Of course.”

Just to his right, Jim hears Nyota and Chapel making fake retching noises.

-

Jim is curled up in his chair, laptop in his lap, writing away on a Sunday afternoon with the dim February light streaming in through the window. He pulls his blanket tighter around himself and sighs at the smell of it. It was a gift from Amanda, one that she weaved herself, and Jim vaguely thinks it smells like he imagines Vulcan might.

Spock comes to sit in the armchair next to his but first sets two cups of spice tea on the table between them. “How is your work progressing?”

Jim smiles and grabs one of the mugs, relishing in the way the heat seeps through the ceramic and into his palms. He takes a long slow sip. “It’s good. I think I might actually be able to finish in the next few months.”

“I assume it would be futile to ask after the plot of the novel.” Spock remarks with a slight smirk. Jim’s stomach flips and he files it away as one of the many things he loves about Spock.

“No, but I will read you an excerpt.” Jim says brightly. He sits up and adjusts his reading glasses before scrolling to the part in the story he intends to read to Spock.

“I stood at the edge of the bridge and stared down at the rushing river beneath me. I knew that at that moment, there were two distinct paths that my life could take. I could lean over the railing until gravity won and I fell head over heels into the rushing water, or I could straighten and move on as I always had. There was no third option in this. There was only the bridge, and me.

“I looked into the steely gray water and up at the sky that matched its gunmetal perfectly. Small whitecaps appeared occasionally. I rolled onto my toes and stayed there, leaning over the fragile wooden railing at a precarious angle. My fingers gripped the splintering wood until I almost could not bear it for another moment. Just as I was about to let go and become one with the water, a third option presented itself to me. A hand brushed my waist accompanied by his voice saying, ‘You’re not dressed for water that cold.’”

-

“He was probably the best-kept secret in this city until he decided to tell the world about his disease without consulting us first.” On the stage, Bones grips the microphone tightly and sounds slightly bitter as he introduces Jim. Jim pulls at his collar awkwardly offstage and grimaces at Spock.

“This is going to suck, isn’t it?”

Spock raises an eyebrow and places a hand on the small of his back. “You will be fine. Do not be afraid of well dressed people looking to make a donation to your cause.”

Jim takes a deep breath and rolls his shoulders back. “Okay. I got this.”

A polite laugh comes from the attendees of the benefit as Bones continues his speech. “Now, please join me in officially welcoming our guest of honor and my long time friend, James T Kirk!” He extends her arm toward Jim, who plasters on a broad grin and mounts the stairs to the stage.

He glances over his shoulder at Spock, who quirks up one corner of his mouth at him.

Ahead of Jim, Bones is waiting on the stage with a rarely seen smile and open arms for a hug which Jim accepts stiffly. “Good luck, kid.” He whispers into Jim’s ear as he pats him on the back.

Jim sighs gratefully and steps away toward the podium set up for him. He pulls the notecards he wrote for absolutely no reason at all, since he couldn’t have had this memorized better if he tried. He stares out over the sea of glittering dresses and sleek suits and robes and tries to calm himself. He’s an experienced public speaker, he can do this.

Even if he’s never spoken about his disease before.

“When I was twenty-one, I was hit with the worst thing that I could possibly have imagined: I suffering from a terrible disease which had already gotten some of my close friends. My fate, it seemed, was sealed.” Jim began. He felt as though a slight tremor was in his voice, but he caught sight of where Spock had moved to at the front of the crowd and felt something cool his nerves just slightly.

“But that wasn’t the worst part for me. I know it might sound strange to hear that my guaranteed death was not the worst part of this situation, but believe me, there was something much larger on my mind. You see, what lead to my friends and I being afflicted by this terrible disease is the fact that we were caught in a situation where we were yelling and nobody could hear us. The tragedy that all of us had thought that we left behind was following us. We had survived, but at a great cost.

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t consider suicide a few times those first two years.” Jim admits, and pauses for the gasp from the crowd that he knew would be coming. “I felt hopeless and lost. I felt as though I had no one. Disease, more than just killing us, made all of us feel alone.

“But luckily, I made a family for myself out of the most amazing friends I could ask for.” Jim smiles out at the faces of his friends among the crowd. “And I have been blessed with the most amazing fiancé that I could ask for. Spock is more than I deserve and honestly, I don’t know what I did to get him. But even though I have this amazing support system, most of us don’t.”

Jim pauses and took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Behind his lids, he could see the faces of Kevin, of Mara, of everyone that had already died. His mouth goes dry. Behind him, he can hear Bones standing, but Jim shakes his head and reopens his eyes. “Which is why I’m here before you today. Not only to raise money for research for diseases such as Tarsus-Forge, but to give people like me a voice, and to remind them that we are not alone.

“The only way to truly overcome tragedies such as the one that occurred on Tarsus, is to face it. If we reach our goal tonight, we will be able to fund psychological assistance for those who suffer from terminal diseases, and be able to remind people that tragedies like this have lasting damage, not only the immediate deaths.”

There is an uncomfortable ripple in the audience that Jim is familiar with. Bringing up the Tarsus Massacre is touchy with most people, as they cannot imagine being in a situation like that.

“I know that some of you are uncomfortable with talking about what happened on that colony and what Kodos did, but facing problems head-on and being open about tragedies is the only way to ensure that they don’t happen again, and that victims receive the care that they need, physically and emotionally.

“So please, join me tonight in helping those who need it most. I may be a lost cause to this disease, but there are so many that you can save.”

Jim finishes his speech with a slight smile as the lights turn up and he is met with a wall of applause. He holds up a hand in a slight wave and nods at the crowd for a moment before turning toward Bones to make his way off the stage. Bones offers him a thumbs up and a sad smile.

Waiting at the bottom of the steps for him is Spock, holding two glasses of champagne. “Your speech was powerful. I believe you will have no trouble meeting your fundraising goal tonight.”

Jim smiles and takes one of the flutes from Spock. “Thanks. It felt good to be finally actively doing something to help.”

“Oh Jim!” Gaila’s voice came only a split second before she threw herself at him and wrapped her arms around his neck. Jim stumbled back slightly only to have Spock catch him with a single hand on his back.

“Gaila, I believe you may want to asses the amount of force used when displaying affection.” Spock comments coolly.

Gaila steps away, her cheeks colored a slightly darker green than usual. She wipes at her eyes and laughs a watery laugh. “Sorry, it’s just that I’m so proud of you. Gosh, I promised I wouldn’t cry at this thing.”

Jim chuckles mildly and wipes at her tears for her. “Please, you’re way better at this stuff than me.”

“I mean, I totally am, but still! Wow, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.” Gaila fans at herself and shakes her head. “You really killed it.”

“It’s weird being the face of this disease.” Jim admits with furrowed eyebrows. He looks around at the group waiting to speak to him personally. “But I know that it’s really going to do some good.”

“Damn straight, kiddo.” Bones claps Jim on the shoulder and sighs.

“Hey, old man. You did great introducing me up there.”

Bones frowns and loosens his tie. “Shut up. You know how much I hate these things. How’re you feeling. You looked a little hot up there.”

Jim waves him off with a laugh. “Don’t worry about me. I’m sure it was just nerves.”

“Jim,” Bones says warningly, but Jim cuts him off quickly.

“Look, if anything is really wrong, I’m sure Spock will whisk me up to your office in a split second. Just, chill for a second.”

Bones backs off and crosses his arms across his chest. Jim considers it a victory that he’s not getting more grumbling. He steps into the fray with his publicity grin on. He’s welcomed by claps on the back and concerned hands on his shoulders.

For the next hour, Jim is swept up in a flurry of too-rich people asking him personal questions about his life and saying that they were just so touched by his story. Jim loses Spock at some point, which is mildly alarming, but he knows that he can handle this on his own. After all, he got through six years without having a Vulcan by his side at all times of the day. He can handle one evening.

He finally extricates himself from the crowd and leans against the bar, exhausted. His breath comes out in short puffs and he finds it extremely difficult to get a full breath. “Hey, can I get a water?”

“Sure thing, Mr. Kirk.” The bartender salutes him lazily and produces a glass of water with perfectly cubic ice cubes a moment later. “That was a great speech you gave. Makes me wish I could afford to donate.”

“Well, we accept anything we can get.” Jim said quickly, still trying to catch his breath. “Even if it’s just some of your time.”

“Are you feeling alright?” The bartender asks with a note of alarm in his voice. “You look like you just ran a marathon.”

Jim wipes at the sweat on his forehead and is alarmed at how cool his skin feels. “Yeah, I’m probably just tired out from all this socializing. Most days I just sleep and write.”

“Well, why don’t you sit down for a bit.” He motions to the barstool near Jim and doesn’t seem convinced that Jim is completely okay.

Jim sits down with a plunk and leans his elbows against the bar. He’s starting to feel alarmed. Not even the cool water is helping him catch his breath and stop sweating. “Hey, would you mind finding Bones-er-Doctor McCoy for me?”

The bartender nods quickly and scoots off to the communicator behind the bar. “Can we get Doctor McCoy up by the bar?” He murmurs urgently into the communicator.

Bones and Spock show up a few mere seconds later, both looking extremely concerned. Bones jumps into action as soon as he sees Jim’s face. “Dammit, Jim! We need to get you seen, now.”

He grabs Jim by the arm and barks at someone near by to get a stretcher. One appears a few seconds later, accompanied by Chapel and Uhura, both clad in evening gowns. “Come on, Jim, let’s get you upstairs.” Chapel says calmly as she helps him onto the hover stretcher and starts pushing him toward the emergency lift quickly. “Doctor McCoy, what should I tell them to prep for?”

“Looks like respiratory failure.”

“Will he be alright?” Spocks’ voice sounds like it’s coming through a tunnel as Jim’s vision narrows.

“He’ll be fine, just stay down here. We’ll bring you up as soon as we can.” Bones’ far away voice responds.

The last thing Jim sees is the inside of a lift before the world goes fuzzy.

Jim comes to with a gasp that thankfully fills his lungs as he attempts to sit up in bed. A hand presses him gently back to the mattress, shushing him. “It’s okay, Jimmy. You’re okay.”

Jim looks wildly about the room. He tries to speak but soon realizes exactly why he’s having so much trouble. He looks at Bones with wide questioning eyes.

“I know, it’s old-fashioned, but you were going down fast for a bit there.” Bones says with a frown, “The ventilator was the quickest way to get you breathing again. Don’t worry, it’ll be out in just a bit. Chapel’s on her way up to help.”

Jim turns his head to his left to find exactly what he expected: Spock sitting in a chair beside him. He attempts to let out a sigh of relief but it only turns into a choking cough against the ventilator tube.

“Yeah, you’re fighting it, we get it.” Bones says distractedly as he types on a padd.

Jim reaches out his fingers to brush against Spock’s. He seems to relax at the contact from Jim and holds his hand gently. “I thought that I might lose you.”

Jim nods slightly and through some amount of sudden inspiration, attempts to say “Me too” in his mind so that Spock can hear it.

“I am relieved that you are well.” comes Spock’s voice into Jim’s mind. “But I am surprised that you have discovered our rudimentary bond before I did.”

Jim’s eyebrows shoot up. “So, we’re bonded?”

“It is not permanent yet, but it appears that we are.”

“Alright, stop making googly eyes at each other.” Bones butts in and breaks Jim out of his nearly dizzy state. “It’s time to get that tube out.”

Christine, who Jim had not seen enter the room, places a hand on Jim’s shoulder. “Okay, let’s get you sitting up.” She says calmly and helps him do just so.

“On the count of three, I’m going to need you to cough, Jim.” She instructs confidently. “Okay, one, two, three.”

Jim coughs as best as he can and tries to keep from wincing as he feels the tube sliding out of his throat. He coughs several more times once it is removed and wipes at his watering eyes. “Jesus H Christ.” He croaks out around a sore throat.

“There we go. Good as new.” Bones says and hands a nasal cannula to Jim. He hooks it behind his ears expertly and feels the trickle of air flood his breathing. “Good job.”

“What happened, Bones?”

“I wasn’t thorough, is what happened.” Bones says bitterly. “Most of your problems up until now have been with your kidneys, so we assumed that the disease was targeting them, but it’s been working on your lungs while we weren’t looking. It’s been breaking down the Endothelium of the blood vessels in your lungs and you experienced what we like to call “shock lung”. We’re going to have to monitor your lungs more closely for the forseeable future.”

“Until I die.” Jim fills in the blanks for him. Spock hands him a glass of water upon hearing his scratchy voice, and Jim drinks greedily. “So, did you fix my endo-whatever?”

Bones nods and scratches at his head. “Yeah, we were able to attach you to a vascular regen. It took a whole 36 hours to do, but we did it.”

Jim sighs and smiles gratefully. “Thanks, Bones. You’re the best. How long am I going to be here?”

Bones nods slowly like he can’t quite believe Jim is actually thanking him for this. He shakes it off quickly, though, and goes back to frowning. “We’re keeping you here for two weeks. Well, I’m going to go look at some of your test results.”

He bustles out of the room with Christine in tow and Jim lets out a sigh, finally letting the tension out of his body. He turns to Spock and attempts to bite back the tears that sting at the back of his eyes.

“What is wrong?” Spock asks, glancing behind himself toward where Bones just left. “Are you in pain?”

Jim shakes his head as some of the tears roll down. He grips Spock’s hand tightly and shakes with tears. “I’m fine. It’s just…for the first time, I really thought I was dying. I thought I was dying and I was so scared, Spock. I was so scared that I was going to die without getting to tell you everything.”

Spock says nothing, simply tightens his fingers around Jim’s. Jim isn’t sure if it’s real or if it’s the tears flooding his own eyes, but he thinks for a moment that he sees sadness in Spock’s eyes, those eyes that have always looked so human.

Jim sobs outright, hiccoughing and shakings his head. “I don’t want to die, Spock. I don’t want to go. I can’t leave you.

“You are everything, Spock, and you need to know that. I adore you, I love you, and you deserve so much better than me but I swear on my life, I am not letting you go.” He laughs wearily and attempts to blink away the tears that come so easily. “I love you. I need you.”

Spock blinks twice before looking around the room. “Since you are scheduled to be in the hospital on the date of our planned nuptials, perhaps rather than postponing the wedding, we could do it here.”

Jim can’t help the grin that breaks across his face at Spock’s words. “Spock, that’s the best idea I’ve heard in weeks. Let’s do it. When do you think would work?”

“T’Pau arrives tomorrow. I would say that we should attempt to do it as soon as possible.”

-

“My baby boy is getting married.” Winona gushed and cupped Jim’s face in her hands. She planted a kiss on his forehead, one wet with tears. Jim pushed her away gently and shook his head.

“Ma, stop. Just help me get into my robes.”

Winona sniffled and waved her hands in front of her face. “Look at me, I’m a mess.”

Jim laughs good naturedly and turns to Gaila and Janice, both of whom seem to be stifling giggles. “Can you help me out here?”

Gaila smirks at Jim and saunters up to where he is sitting on the edge of his hospital bed. “I can’t really blame her. None of us thought you’d ever get married.”

“I know, I know, but maybe the waterworks could be held off for a bit?”

“It’s your wedding day, how can you be so cool?” Winona sniffles and laughs bitterly. “Men. I swear, your father was exactly the same on our wedding day.”

Jim rolls his eyes and holds his arms out to Janice for her to hand him the first part of the intricate wedding robes. “A little help, person I’m paying?”

“But of course.” Janice responds with a smile. “Here, it’ll be easier if I just help you. Arms up.”

Jim obeys the order and soon Janice slips the impossibly light and silky material over his body. It ends just at his ankles and shimmers a light blue. Janice helps him button the fastenings on the high collar on the left side of his neck.

“You are so lucky Amanda gave me a lesson in this, or I would be completely lost.” Janice murmurs as she sorts through the mess of fabric on the bed. She finally seems to find what she’s looking for and cheers.

What she was apparently looking for is a long charcoal vest with white embroidery that hangs down to his knees and which has silver fastenings from just below his belly button up to his neck. Jim allows her to put it on him and adjust it so that it lays correctly. Before he even has a chance to lower his arms, she wraps a wide sash the same blue color as the first piece. She smiles at her handiwork and puts her hands on her hips. “Go me, you look amazing.”

“He’s not done yet, dummie.” Gaila chimes in with an affectionate eyeroll. She produces a long slightly sheer piece of charcoal gray fabric. “Tilt your head up, Jimmy.” Is all the warning Jim gets before she starts draping the fabric over his head and around his neck and shoulders in practiced motions.

“Geez, how long did you guys spend with Amanda last night?” He asks as Gaila attaches a delicate silver chain to the scarf to hang across his forehead.

“Hours. It was awesome.” Gaila answers with a grin. “There, now all we need is the cloak and you’ll be perfect.

Jim steps in front of the mirror as Janice affixes the cloak around his shoulders. He almost doesn’t recognize himself in the mirror. He looks regal, almost like royalty. He wonders if the colors are traditional or if someone picked them out, because he must admit they go with his eyes rather well.

He looks to his mother and smiles. “Okay, you can cry now.”

Winona lets out a fresh sob and nods. “I would hug you but I don’t want to get tearstains on your clothes.”

-

Spock stands by his parents at the front of the conference room which the hospital graciously allowed them to use for this purpose. He stands ramrod straight and attempts not to show how it is that he is feeling at that moment.

If he is being honest, Spock feels…nervous. His heart seems to be beating rapidly and he attempts to regain control over himself. It is unbecoming of a Vulcan to be so emotional before his bonding ceremony.

Amanda rests a hand on his shoulder and gives him a warm closed lip smile. “Don’t worry, Spock. I know that everything will work out perfectly.” She turns to look at Uhura. “Isn’t that right, dear.”

“Of course.”

T’Pau nods, surprising Spock sufficiently. “It is true. I have watched thee and James interact and the bond that thee share is strong.”

Spock feels gratitude toward the matriarch fill his body, but he simply offers a nod in response. He turns to his father, who has yet to say anything. “Father, did you experience any anxiety before bonding with your mother.”

Sarek glances at T’Pau and then at Amanda before responding carefully, “While I did not experience the human nervousness that many grooms are rumored to feel, I must admit that I did have some…apprehensions.”

“We are so proud of you, Spock.” Amanda assures her son with a squeeze to his shoulder before removing it.

The door to the conference room slides open and Janice and Gaila enter, followed by Jim’s mother and brother. All of them are dressed in simple Vulcan robes.

To say that time stops when Jim enters the room would be illogical, but Spock finds himself with no other way to describe the sensation he feels upon seeing Jim in his marriage robes that are so much more intricate that Spock’s own black with white embroidery.

Jim reaches the front of the room and stands in front of Spock, smiling shyly. “You look amazing.” He says softly.

“As do you.” Spock responds honestly.

“Kneel.” T’Pau commands and they do so, reaching out to touch their index and middle fingers together.

“I love you.” Jim sends across their weak bond with a smile.

“And I, you.”

The rest of the ceremony is unmemorable to Spock, save for the way that Jim’s eyes look as they stare at each other as T’Pau bonds their minds together, until Jim’s mind is twined comfortably with his own.

It is then that they are one.

-

“God I’m so glad we got away from all those crying relatives.” Jim mumbles as he presses a line of kisses along Spock’s neck.

Spock chuckles as he works the final buttons of Jim’s tunic loose and pulls it over his head so that finally they are both disrobed. “That was your mother.”

“I know, but still.” Jim mumbles and sucks a bruise into Spock’s collarbone. “Okay, no more talk of mothers until after you fuck me silly.”

Spock hums his agreement and gently lifts Jim off the ground to deposit him on the hospital bed. He was promised that nobody would bother them tonight unless it was an emergency. Jim lays out against the pillows, chest flushed and heaving, cock erect and standing proudly against his stomach. “Fuck, Spock, need you.”

Spock can feel exactly how much Jim needs him, feels it with every pulse of his blood through his veins, feels it in his mind and through his body. It has the power to drive him insane if left unfulfilled.

He kisses down Jim’s chest and presses a chaste kiss to the tip of Jim’s cock, tasting the small pearl of precome that has already formed there. “You are beautiful.”

“Spock, please.” Jim whines.

Spock manhandles Jim’s legs apart and over his shoulders so that he has better access to his entrance. He circles it with one finger before raising an eyebrow at a whining Jim and dipping his head down to lap at the puckered hole.

Jim arches off the bed and Spock feels pulses of pleasure rush through their bond. To say that he feels self-satisfied would be an understatement. He continues making increasingly tight circles around Jim’s hole before finally plunging in. He fucks his tongue in and out, feeling as Jim loosens around him and hearing his bondmate moan.

Bondmate. Something primal fills Spock’s veins as he thinks about that word. Jim is his and he is Jim’s and it will not change. He thrusts his tongue deep into Jim once more before pulling away.

“Spock,” Jim pants out with a smile, “Please.”

Spock retrieves the bottle of lubricant from the bedside table and coats his fingers in it. He thrusts two fingers into Jim’s loosened hole and scissors them, watching intently as Jim’s mouth opens in a silent scream when Spock brushes against his prostate.

Spock adds another finger, careful not to go too fast in his growing impatience. He pumps until he feels that Jim is ready and removes them to yet another high pitched whine from Jim, quickly cut off when Spock lines his cock up with Jim’s hole and begins to press in slowly.

“Tahluk.” He sighs out once he is fully seated in Jim. “T’hy’la.”

“Yes.” Jim responds breathily. “Your T’hy’la. Yours, always.”

Spock rocks into Jim slowly and gently, finding new peace in the slowed pleasure as he places his fingers on Jim’s face to deepen their contact and connect them completely. Their pleasure is shared between kisses and in colors and broken phrases as he rocks into Jim.

His hips stutter in their pace as he nears his climax and he thrusts once, twice, three times into Jim before releasing his load just as Jim coats their bellies in his own release.

Spock pulls out carefully and smiles down at Jim, who looks blissfully ‘fucked out’ in Jim’s own manner of speaking. There is a healthy pink flush to his cheeks and his eyes are brighter than Spock has seen them in ages. Jim giggles under Spock’s stare. “I can’t believe I just came without you touching my dick. God, that was amazing. We should get married more often.”

“Illogical.” Spock purrs as he wipes Jim’s ejaculate off of them and settles in the place beside Jim on the bed. He twines their fingers together and kisses Jim’s knuckles. “I love you, James Tiberius Kirk.”

“And I, you, S’chn T’gai Spock.”

Spock drifts off to sleep with his husband by his side, hearts beating in tandem, as illogical as it may be.

Chapter Text

“You are not doing this! Don’t look at me like that!”

“Jim, it is time. I have consulted Doctor McCoy, and he believes that-“

“Oh, Bones can go suck a fuck for all I care, I am not letting you do this.”

Spock watches as Jim’s face is colored pink as he grips the counter and shouts at him, the way the vein in Jim’s neck bulges slightly under the stress of argument. It would be fascinating and quite possibly arousing if the anger was not directed at Spock. “I fail to understand the logistics of how one would ‘suck a fuck.’”

“You fucking know what I meant, don’t change the subject.” Jim responds with a groan and an eye roll. He stalks around the island and stands in front of Spock with his arms folded across his chest. “You aren’t taking a leave of absence from work. Not yet.”

“Yes, I am. I am informing my department head tomorrow afternoon.”

Jim clenches his jaw and breathes out heavily through his nose. He shakes his head and looks away from Spock’s eyes. “No, you can’t just do this and not give me a say in the matter. We’re married, Spock. That means that we’re partners and we make decisions together.” Jim drops his arms to his sides as he speaks.

Spock sighs and reaches out to brush his fingers against his bondmate’s. “I am aware of this fact. I am also aware of the fact that you get in the way of your own well being from time to time.”

“I don’t need a babysitter.” Jim finally sighs, sounding defeated. He links their fingers together and leans his head against Spock’s chest.

Spock rests his free hand on Jim’s back and rubs small circles. “I am not attempting to babysit you, I merely want to be with you when you need it.”

“I have Janice here to watch me and make sure I don’t die.” Jim mumbles against Spock’s chest petulantly.

“You misunderstand.” Spock says as he pushes Jim away from his chest so that he can look into his eyes. Jim’s eyes are watery and it is apparent that he is on the brink of tears. “I wish to look after your physical wellbeing, but my main idea in staying with you is to be by your side as I promised I would be when we were bonded. It pains me to say that you do not have much time left, but that is the truth.”

“I know.” Jim frowns and steps away a step. He looks down at his feet and mumbles, “I know.”

Spock skates his fingers along Jim’s jawline. “And I wish to spend every moment that is available by your side. There are…things that I will miss when you are gone.”

Jim smiles softly and tilts his head to the side. “Why, Spock, are you suggesting that you would rather spend your days getting some sweet lovin’ rather than teaching classes?”

“That is not what I said.”

“Oh, but it so is.”

“No, it is not.”

“So…you don’t want to have sex while we’re just laying around the house together?” Jim says with a wink as he puts his hands on his hips. “Do you not find me attractive anymore?”

“Right now I am finding you annoying.” Spock retorts flatly, though his pulse has already been raised by Jim’s actions and he knows that ‘it is on’ to use Jim’s vernacular. “Jim, we should discuss your needs in the next few months. This is not an appropriate time to engage in-“

Jim presses his hands against Spock’s chest and leans in so that his breath is hot against Spock’s ear. “Come on, Spock. It’ll be fun.”

“Jim, there are important tasks at hand.” Spock protests weakly. He has to put up at least a semblance of a fight before giving into Jim’s flirtations completely. It is pointless, as Jim can likely feel his consent through their bond, but it does allow Spock some semblance of pride knowing that he can resist his husband.

“I will be informing my superiors of my leave tomorrow.” Spock says with a note of breathiness in his voice.

Jim frowns slightly but nods all the same. “Fine. I know I can’t convince you otherwise, anyways.”

“No, you cannot.”

-

“So, how’s the whole domestic bliss thing going?” Nyota asks as she munches on a pretzel and flips through a magazine. “Spock’s been off work for about a week now, has he driven you insane yet?”

“We’ve been married for a month and a half, Ny, I think we’re still rocking the honeymoon phase.” Jim responds cheerily. He leans forward in his chair and swipes a pretzel before returning to revising the chapter he’s working on. “But it is a little weird not being alone all the time, I have to admit.”

“Good weird?” Nyota asks without looking up from her reading.

Jim types out a few words and shrugs. “Yeah, I guess. I could never wholeheartedly complain about having Spock around, but it is certainly different.”

Nyota pauses in her crunching and Jim looks up to find her staring at him with a tilted head. “What?”

“Spock said almost the same thing. It’s like…you two are so normal together. It just makes sense.”

“What do you mean?”

Nyota sighs and runs a hand through her hair. “You just fit. It hardly took any effort at all, it seems like. You two have to be like soulmates or something.”

“T’hy’la,” Jim fills in for her with a smile. “We’re t’hy’la.”

Nyota smiles at him softly and shakes her head. She lets out a soft chuckle. “Yeah, I suppose you are. Disgusting lovestruck idiots.”

“Like you have any room to talk. You and Christine are throwing a wedding reception five months after you got married.” Jim snarks back at Christine without missing a beat.

Nyota shakes her head and rolls her eyes. “At least we had to work a little to get together.”

“We’ve had to work. I was kind of a dick in the beginning.”

“That you were.” Nyota says with a knowing nod. “But you two are happy now, so everything’s good. And you’ll have long and happy lives together.”

Everything in the room seems to freeze for a moment. Nyota stares at Jim with wide eyes as she realizes the mistake of what she’s said. Jim’s fingers hover over the keyboard of his laptop as they both wait for the moment to be gone.

“Oh my god.” Nyota says finally. “I’m so sorry, I can’t believe that I just said that, oh my god.”

Jim sighs and shakes his head with a sad smile. “It’s okay. I don’t think any of us can be afraid of it anymore. We have to accept that I’m probably not going to make it to twenty-eight.”

Nyota looks away from him, toward the floor. She’s clearly uncomfortable and Jim regrets it except for the fact that she truly does need to accept this. Jim isn’t going to be around for much longer, everyone knows it.

He looks down at his oxygen tank and traces the cannula in his nose with a sigh. He hasn’t had to wear it every day since Bones said that he would need it from time to time, but on mornings when Jim wakes up feeling particularly breathless, he is reminded of the fact that he can hardly live with only the help of his own body anymore. No, Jim is dying.

And now, he has a pretty good idea of what it is that’s going to kill him. Before, they could only guess what it was that was going to do him in finally, what the disease might do to his body to finally silence him, but now they all know that it will be his lungs unless something particularly dramatic happens.

There’s something particularly depressing about a specific death sentence.

“Jim, I’m going to miss you.” Nyota admits with a frown. “When I met you, I didn’t really like you, but you’re a good person and you don’t deserve this.”

“I don’t think anyone deserves this, good or bad. Though I can’t say I haven’t wished it upon Kodos a few times, as illogical as it might be to wish death upon the dead.” Jim admits with a humorless chuckle.

“Your husband is rubbing off on you.” Nyota remarks with a quirk of her lips. “And you’re rubbing off on him.”

“Am I?” Jim sits up and can’t help the small grin that splits his face at the thought of changing Spock (hopefully for the better).

“He’s more relaxed, happier. It’s good.” Nyota says thoughtfully. “And he’s more willing to drink a cup of hot chocolate every now and again” She grins wickedly at that point.

Jim rolls his eyes and laughs. “Yeah, thanks for bringing my husband home last Saturday completely smashed.”

Nyota inclines her head and flourishes an arm as though bowing. “You’re very welcome. How is drunk sex with a Vulcan, anyways?”

“Fun, but weird.” Jim laughs and runs a hand through his hair. “He kept saying sorry until I just told him to lay there and let me do the work.”

“I would say TMI, but I kinda asked for it.”

“Yeah you definitely did.”

“Still, sex with a Vulcan sounds fun and I would be jealous if Christine wasn’t total dynamite.”

“How’s the baby process going, by the way?”

Nyota sighs and flops back against the back of the couch dramatically. “She’s only got another four days of hormone treatments before they try to put a baby in there. I would say thank god but it’s only supposed to get rougher from there. If we both didn’t really want kids, it wouldn’t seem worth it.”

“Fantastic. You two are going to be great parents.” Jim beams, but feels a slight pang at the knowledge that he’s probably never going to get to meet their child. He imagines that it’ll be a little girl just as sweet and fiercely ambitious as her mothers.

Even he never gets the chance to spoil her to the ends of the Earth, he can find comfort in the fact that she will be loved by the little family that he and Spock have built up around them. No doubt Spock will love the child in his quiet way, and Gaila and Janice will shower her with presents and adoration.

Still, the ache persists. Will she even hear about him?

“Of course she’ll hear about you, Jim.” Nyota responds, revealing the fact that Jim must have said that last bit out loud. He bites his lip in embarrassment. “That is, if it’s even a girl.”

“Well, that’s what you both want.” Jim responds absently.

“Whatever our child is, we’ll love them. And our child will know that they are loved by everyone and they’ll know how much you wanted to know them. Maybe you’ll even make it long enough to.”

“Unlikely.” Jim says with a frown. In his mind, he makes a note to change a part of his will, not for the first or likely the last time. “But make sure they know that I love them. Even if I never meet them.”

“They’ll know.” Nyota says with a small and slightly sad smile. “Of course they will.”

-

Bones’ face is decidedly gray as he reads the results of Jim’s most recent batch of tests. Jim swallows the lump stuck in his throat. He’s never seen the good doctor looking quite so grim. “What is it?”

“It’s killing you, Jim. I don’t know how much longer you’re going to have before you have to be hospitalized full time, but it’s going to be soon.”

It’s July and Jim has an expiration date. He grips Spock’s hand and tries to find comfort in his bondmate’s mind. Spock returns the pressure and floods Jim with a feeling of calm. “Is there anything I can do?”

“You can keep keeping yourself healthy. Eat well, take your medications, get plenty of rest.” Bones ticks off. “It might not be a bad idea to take a wheelchair around to relieve the stress on your lungs.”

“A wheelchair? I’m already on the supplemental oxygen almost every day now!” Jim protests. He knows that Bones only wants to help him live as long as possible, but the thought of not even being allowed to walk on his own makes Jim feel so…helpless.

He thinks back to nearly a year ago, when he was able to go to Chicago with only Janice as assistance when he needed it. Now, he can’t leave his house without someone pushing him around. It makes him feel that selfsame anger that he’s been fighting to quash for the past few months, but from which he cannot seem to escape.

Bones sighs and puts down his padd. “I know, Jim, and I’m sorry. You don’t have to use a wheelchair, but it’ll allow you to get around more if you do, and will save you a lot of pain.”

“I will, of course, never object to pushing your chair.” Spock adds calmly, moving his hand to rest on Jim’s back. Jim can feel that Spock thinks that it’s for the best, but he still feels a longing to be as independent as possible. A longing that is pretty much pointless at this point. Jim needs other people to help him, and that is a fact that he can no longer deny.

“Fine, if you think it’s for the best, I can’t fight you on it.”

Bones, of course, has the audacity to actually look impressed. He folds his arms across his chest and considers the two men in front of him. “Well, I’ll be damned. Marrying the hobgoblin is actually helping you.”

“I cannot take the sole credit for Jim’s maturity, doctor.” Spock remarks.

“No, but you are helping him have something to stay alive for. Isn’t he, Jim?”

Jim’s face grows hot and he looks down at his hands bashfully. He knows that he shouldn’t be embarrassed by the fact that his husband has influence on him for the better, but he can hardly help it. “Yeah, you’re right, Bones.”

“Damn straight.”

Jim looks up at Spock and feels himself grow calmer when he sees the face of his husband, looking just as composed as ever. Spock meets his eyes with a softness that Jim knows is solely for him. “Are you alright?”

Jim nods and quirks up the right side of his mouth. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just a little bit nervous, is all.”

“Nervous?”

“It feels like I’m nearing the end, you know? Death can be a little bit intimidating, if I’m being honest.” Jim admits with a slight chuckle in an attempt to lighten the mood.

The softness behind Spock’s eyes shifts ever so slightly and Jim can feel the reserved sadness through the bond. He reaches out to hold Spock’s hand gently. Spock does not respond, except to shut his eyes and release a long breath. Jim finds himself wanting nothing more than to wrap himself around Spock and never let go.

“I’ll give you two a moment.” Bones clears his throat and backs out of the room, clearly uncomfortable. Jim thanks whatever deity there might be that the doctor still has some semblance of bedside manner.

Once alone in the room, Jim turns to Spock, concern etched clearly across his face. “Are you okay?”

“I am…struggling.” Spock admits slowly, eyes still closed. “I must meditate once we reach home.”

Jim purses his lips softly and looks down to their joined hands. “Look, you know the deal. If this is too much for you…you don’t have to stay. I couldn’t bear the thought of hurting you. Just say the word, and you can go. I’ll understand.”

Spock’s eyes fly open and he shakes his head fiercely. “Jim, I could never leave your side. The cost would be my soul.”

“Don’t think that you’re trapped with me because I’m dying, is all I’m saying.”

“Do not think that I am staying for any reason other than the fact that I love you more deeply than I thought possible.” Spock assures Jim. He brings their joined hands to his mouth and kisses Jim’s knuckles.

Jim feels his breath catch in his chest for a moment as he watches the small gesture. Months of marriage, and he still cannot believe how deeply he is loved by Spock, how little he deserves what life has given him. “Spock, how are you real? How are you mine?”

“For this purpose was I born.” Spock whispers.

“Are you quoting scripture at me?” Jim lets out a watery giggle. “Surely you don’t believe that your only purpose in the universe is to care for me?”

“No, but I believe that being by your side has been and always shall be my destiny.”

-

 

The middle two letters of life are if. It is something that seems to have dictated Jim’s entire life and something that he is reminded of every time he feels his breath catch in his chest or feels too weak to pull himself out of bed on a May afternoon with his husband beside him. His life is a series of ifs.

If he wakes up the next morning.

If Spock doesn’t decide that loving him is too much work.

If Jim can keep himself happy enough to keep going.

If his lungs decide to keep working one more day.

It’s the kind of uncertainty that has haunted him for years. Remembering it makes Jim feel as though he’s on unstable ground without fail. There is simply no avoiding the fact that Jim might not be here if just a few things went wrong.

He lived for routines and some semblance of certainty before Spock. Before meeting his husband, every surprise that was thrown at Jim was a bad one, every left turn led to his momentary downfall, every left turn got him lost.

Laying next to Spock and observing the way the light skated across Spock’s sharp cheekbones and the way his hair was mussed after a night of sleep, Jim is glad for chance.

Jim hesitates for a moment before reaching out and combing his fingers through the silky black strands on his husband’s head and smiling when the Vulcan turns and presses into the touch ever so slightly, rousing slightly but not waking.

His chest tightens. He’s so beautiful.

For once in Jim’s life, the if worked out in his favor, and he can hardly believe it.

He extricates himself from the bed to go into the bathroom, turning around slightly to look at Spock again and smile to himself.

Once under the harsher lights of the bathroom, Jim squints at his pallor in the mirror. He hates the way he looks in the morning, so sick and pale and deathly. He picks up his pill box and empties the slot for Wednesday into his palm.

He fills a glass and swallows the handful of medicine as quickly as he can. He cringes and takes a few more gulps of water to rid himself of the feeling that some of it might be sticking to his throat.

He loads up the hypospray with his daily dose of pain medicine to keep him going through the day and presses it to his neck with a slight cringe. He doesn’t think that he’ll ever get used to that.

His morning medication routine done, Jim returns to their bedroom and crawls under the warmth of the covers, wrapping himself around Spock and letting himself drift off into sleep once more to the lullaby of his husband’s breathing.

When Jim wakes up the second time, it is to Spock rubbing spot between his shoulder blades softly. Jim turns onto his back and smiles up at his husband. His stomach flips like it always does when he realizes that he is married to Spock and he grins in spite of himself.

“Good morning, honeybear.”

“Honeybear?” Spock raises an eyebrow, but Jim can see the smile behind his eyes.

“Yep, cuz you’re cuddly like a bear and sweet like honey.” Jim responds with a shit-eating grin. He wraps his arms around Spock’s shoulders and holds him to his chest. “Now come on, I’m not done with you.”

Spock allots Jim a small chuckle as he settles into the embrace. “You are lucky we do not have plans this morning.”

“We never have plans.”

“You have a meeting with your editor tonight.”

“Fuck.” Jim murmurs into Spock’s hair.

“I think it is your eloquence which people find most charming about you.” Spock says flatly, with only a hint of sarcasm in his tone.

“And it’s your warmth that people love about you.”

Spock looks at Jim with a challenging glare and Jim holds his breath for a moment before grinning wolfishly and flipping them so that Spock is pinned beneath him on the bed. “You know, you could easily overtake me.” He says before leaning in and pressing a devouring kiss to Spock’s lips.

When they break apart, Spock’s face is tinged grin and he is smiling slightly. “What would make you believe I wish to?”

Jim rocks against Spock and feels the hardness growing beneath his husband’s boxers. His own erection is slow in coming, has been ever since his health ever started going really downhill, but he can find a good amount of pleasure in bringing Spock off.

He rocks against Spock until Spock is panting slightly and gripping Jim’s biceps. A high pitched whine comes from the back of his throat. “Jim, I must request that you move faster.”

“How are you so eloquent and so desperate at the same time?” Jim says with a shit eating grin as he slows down his movements slightly. He sits back on Spock’s thighs and relishes in the groan of loss that comes from his husband. “Shh, patience is a virtue.”

“There is hardly anything virtuous about what we are currently doing.” Spock responds with a slight keen as Jim tucks his thumbs in his waistband and drags his boxer briefs down slowly. His erection springs free and Jim makes sure that Spock is watching as he licks his lips.

Jim leans down and licks a long stripe up the underside of Spock’s cock before swallowing it down nearly completely and bobbing his head, watching Spock through his eyelashes the whole time.

Spock winds his fingers through Jim’s hair and he moans around his mouthful, fully enjoying the way that Spock reacts to the vibrations.

It doesn’t take long to bring Spock off in the lazy morning light. He swallows the load and wipes a drop off his lips with a grin. Spock looks about as amazed as a Vulcan can look.

Jim crawls up and settles ontop of him, grinning down at Spock. “I love you, by the way.”

“You have not been brought to completion.” Spock notes.

“Yeah, not really getting there this morning, you know how it is. Just wanted to make you feel good.”

Spock looks at Jim like he cannot quite believe it. “You are incredible.”

“You’re not so bad yourself. But I will protest at the fact that you didn’t say it back.”

Spock furrows his brow in confusion. “What is it that I did not say?”

“You didn’t say that you love me too.” Jim points out with a wry grin. “How am I supposed to know if you don’t constantly remind me?”

“You,” Spock kisses Jim on the nose. “Are a brat.”

Jim smirks and rolls out of bed for the second time that morning. He stretches for a moment, knowing that Spock is looking him up and down as he does so. He’s nothing if not considerate of his husband’s needs. He glances over his shoulder at Spock and winks. “You want anything? Coffee?”

Jim can feel Spock’s mild annoyance at him through the bond and it only makes him smirk wider. Spock, to his credit, does not roll his eyes. “A cup of tea would be satisfactory.”

Jim, lacking the emotional control of a Vulcan, does roll his eyes before donning a robe (Spock’s) and heading downstairs. He doesn’t bother tying his rob, but finds himself wishing he had when he sees Janice and Gaila sitting at the counter sipping coffee and eyeing him oddly.

It’s not the way he used to be eyed by Gaila, and he knows it. Before, Gaila saw his body as it was: something that he worked on and could take pride in. Now, he knows that Gaila sees him for what he is: sick and thin and falling apart.

He ties his robe quickly and stares at the ground. Gaila and Janice say nothing about his appearance, about his pale skin and obvious veins, but they stare at each other like they’re saying so much.

“Good morning ladies.” Jim says in an attempt to clear the air.

“Good morning, Jimmy.” Gaila chirps back cheerfully. “You and your lover having breakfast in bed?”

Jim laughs and shakes his head. “If by breakfast you mean coffee and by lover you mean husband.”

“Oh of course, however could we deign to devalue the dignity of your boning.”

“Yeah, seriously.”

Janice snorts and sips her coffee. She has the same expression that she always does when listening to Jim and Gaila bicker, like she can’t quite believe that she’s so close with these two people. Jim grins at her and winks. “Speaking of boning, how was your big romantic dinner last night?”

“Fantastic, and thank you for paying.” Janice says with a tip of her mug in a mock salute toward him. “And the boning was great, too.”

Jim smiles tightly at her and nods. “Great, now I should get back to that coffee, I suppose.” He turns away and starts rummaging through the cabinet for his favorite mug.

“Wait, Jim.” Janice says suddenly with a frown. “Can we talk?”

Jim closes the cabinet door with a sigh and nods. “Yeah, sure.” He faces the women again, this time with no guise of joking. The time for that is obviously done. “What is it?”

“How…are you?” She asks with obvious trepidation. “I mean, I know that you’re not fine, but are you okay?”

Jim deflates slightly and shrugs. He folds his arms across his chest and stares Janice in the eye. “Honestly, I am. I’ve been heading toward this for five years, you know? I’m about as ready as I can be to die.”

Janice looks down at the counter and shakes her head slowly, like she can’t quite believe it. She, surprisingly, doesn’t flinch like she used to. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Jim reaches out and covers her hand with his own. “You’re going to do what you always do: you’re going to kill it. You’re going to go on to be some famous journalist and you and Gaila are going to live on the money that I leave you, and you’re going to forget me eventually.”

“I couldn’t forget you.”

“You have to.” Jim smiles sadly. “I mean, sure, I’ve helped you get through college and you’ve been working for me for three years, but eventually I’ll stop being an important part of your life.”

Janice openly gapes at him and Gaila wraps an arm around her shoulder. The latter smiles sadly at Jim. “As if you could ever stop being important to us. Jim, we know that we have to lose you, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be lost.”

-

“Look, I know it’s unconventional and sad and…a little bit weird, but it’s what I want.” Jim says with a hint of desperation in his voice. He leans forward on his elbows with an expectant expression aimed at his editor.

Sulu shakes his head and runs a hand through his hair. “Jesus Christ. Yeah, I think I can pull this off. Jesus H Christ.”

“That’s the seventh time you’ve used that particular expression.” Jim teases with a shit eating grin.

Sulu gives Jim an exasperated look and takes a gulp of his coffee. “Well yeah I fucking have. I mean, Jesus Christ, Jim. Waiting to publish your book until after you’re dead? It’s morbid as fuck.”

“I’m just following in the footsteps of the greats, dying early. Besides, sales’ll be way up after my death, you know that, and it’s built in marketing. And It’s for the best. I want this book to be my final testament, my last words. Does that make sense?” Jim asks nervously.

Sulu sighs in defeat. “Yeah, I guess. Has your husband read the book yet?”

“No,” Jim shakes his head definitively. “I haven’t let anyone see it besides you.”

“It’s your best work.”

“You can thank him for that.” Jim says with a smile that he attempts to hide behind his mug. “Falling in love gives a guy a sort of…emotional clarity.”

Sulu nods understandingly but also gives Jim a look like he can’t quite believe that Jim is saying this. Jim knows that the other man must think him ridiculous, after years of friendship and Jim saying that love would only fuck everything up. “I’ve been telling you for years. I mean, after I met Pasha, everything changed.”

Sulu’s entire demeanor shifts when he mentions the name of his boyfriend of two years. He looks more serene and like he can’t hold back the smile that spreads across his face.

“I’m really happy for the two of you.” Jim says honestly. “You guys click like I’ve never seen before.”

“You and Spock are two peas in a pod, too, you know.” Sulu says with a grin. “How’s he handling this whole thing?”

Jim quirks an eyebrow and frowns. “The end of my life, you mean? He’s amazingly strong, but I can tell he’s hurting.”

Sulu shakes his head and furrows his brows. “How can you tell? I mean, I’ve met the guy and he seems like a totally blank slate.”

“I don’t know, it can be tough, but he’s not that hard to read.” Jim reasons, “Maybe you just have to know him like I do.”

“Meaning that you have to be mentally bonded?” Sulu asks incredulously. “Doesn’t seem that easy to read.”

Jim shakes his head and rolls his eyes at Sulu. “No, nothing like that. It’s just…we understand each other on a fundamental level, I guess.”

“And you deny the grand sweeping love story of it all?” Sulu asks with a snort. “Yeah right.”

-

“You know, these hybrid cherries trees are so much better than the real thing.” Jim says mildly as he pulls his sweater more tightly around himself. “I mean, the old ones were just as pretty, but they only really hit peak bloom in late March. But look at this, July, and they’re totally vibrant.”

Spock hums behind him as he pushes Jim’s chair. “Yes, it is quite beautiful. The weather is especially warm, as well, which makes for a much more enjoyable viewing experience.”

Jim snorts and folds his arms across his chest, tucking his hands beneath his armpits. “Speak for yourself. I’m a little cold.”

“Do you require my sweater?”

“Well, I know you just wore it for my benefit, so sure.” Jim says with a grin back towards Spock. He knows his husband well enough to know that Spock can operate perfectly well without a sweater in this temperature, and that he’s also a worrywart when it comes to Jim.

Spock hands him the thickly knit pullover and Jim pulls it over his head, relishing in the way it smells warm and spicy, just like Spock. He tucks his hands inside the sleeves and settles back into his chair.

It’s taken some getting used to, but he’s finding he’s enjoying the fact that he doesn’t have to wind himself walking a short distance anymore.
“Where’d you get this sweater?”

“My mother knit it for me two years ago.” Spock says lightly. He stops walking and pushes Jim into position beside a bench, which he sits on. “It is rather becoming on you.”

Jim smiles bashfully and reaches his two forefingers out to Spock. “Why thank you, it makes me feel part of the family, or something like that.”

“Jim, you are my family.”
-
“Promise me something?”

“Anything.” Spock says, looking up to where Jim is perched on their bed from his seat on the floor, organizing their bookshelf.

Jim holds his gaze for a moment before taking a deep breath and instructing, “Don’t hold onto my stuff forever. Don’t be that guy who holds onto their dead spouse for longer than is healthy.”

“Jim,” Spock starts slowly, looking surprised. “What is bringing this on?”

Jim shrugs and stares down at his clasped hands. This is the first time that he’s really spoken frankly about what he wants Spock to do after he’s dead. They acknowledge the fact that he’s going to be gone soon, of course, but they speak in abstracts, never really stating what needs to be. “I know you’ll want to remember me, and holding onto one or two things isn’t a terrible idea, but don’t keep my clothes in the closet and all that. Clear some space out for something new.”

Spock looks like he might protest the very idea of meeting someone after Jim, but Jim cuts him off quickly. “Look, I know that T’hy’la is once in a lifetime or whatever, but I couldn’t stand the idea of you being alone forever, just staring at the remnants of my life. You have to exist outside of me, I couldn’t stand it if you didn’t.”

Spock nods solemnly and turns back to organizing their books. “You are wise, Jim. I will respect your wishes.”

“Don’t use that voice.”

“This is my regular speaking voice.”

Jim sighs and rolls his eyes at the stubbornness of Spock. “No, it’s not. It’s your ‘I hear you, but I’m not going to listen’ voice. Promise me that you’ll at least put my stuff in storage eventually. Or give some of it to our friends, or charity.”

Spock looks back to Jim and raw emotion flickers through his chocolate brown eyes. Jim is reminded of the fact that Vulcans are a deeply passionate race. “Yes, of course, ashayam. I cannot guarantee that I will not struggle with the task, but I will complete it, if it pleases you.”

“It does. Now come up here, I wanna nap together.”
-

“Lincoln was always my favorite president.” Jim muses as he stares up at the large stone figure in front of them. Spock stands just behind his chair and rests a hand on his shoulder.

“His actions toward ending slavery in the United States were remarkable. Although, I must say that I am fond of our current Federation president.”

“Oh yeah, Althea’s great. I met her once, you know.” Jim says with a smile, “I convinced Bones that I slept with her, it was hilarious.”

Spock raises an eyebrow and appraises Jim. “Was this a habit of yours?”

Jim shrugs and laughs, wheezing slightly at the tail end. “Bones liked to judge my conquests back when I was young, and he thought I had no limits. I had to take advantage of it.”

“Of course.” Spock says in a tone that most would translate as ‘annoyed’, but Jim could tell that Spock is actually quite amused by the antics of Jim’s past. “I can safely assume that you did not, in fact, sleep with the president, can I not?”

“You can.”

Spock hums and grabs the back of Jim’s chair to help push him away from the monument. “Is there anything else you would like to do today?”

Jim bites his lip and thinks on it. This is likely one of his last times to do his favorite things in DC, and so far they had already hit the Art Museum, Museum of American History, and the Lincoln Memorial. Jim can hardly think of anything else he’d rather do than curl up with Spock and enjoy the lovely September night from within the comfort of their own home.

“We could pick up some tomato soup from that little French country place and then go home. I’m pretty beat.” Jim admits with a yawn.

“That sounds perfect.” Spock says and pushes them towards where their car is parked.

Back at home, Jim cuddles up next to Spock in their bed, enjoying the warmth of the soup in his belly. He hums as Spock wraps his arms around his shoulders and holds him close to his chest. “Today was good. I’m glad we could do that.”

“It was rather enjoyable.” Spock says calmly, switching off the tv in their room. He turns to face Jim, pressing a kiss to his head on the way. “I am most grateful to have you in my life.”

Jim curls into Spock’s chest and hums softly, tracing patterns on his chest with his forefinger. “I’m so lucky.”

Spock wraps his arms securely around Jim and he can feel the vibrations in the Vulcan’s chest as he speaks, “I do not believe luck had any say in the matter.”

Jim falls asleep curled up against his husband’s chest, glad that even if he has only a short time left on this planet, at least he has Spock by his side.

There is nothing that can wake a man up in the morning quite as well as excruciating pain.

Well, morning sex might run a close second, but pain is really what it takes to get Jim up and out of bed as soon as possible.

It’s also good for getting his husband out of bed, even though it’s usually not too difficult to get Spock up. So when Jim wakes up gasping for breath and smacking Spock in the chest, it’s only a few moments before Spock is alert and takes the emergency hypo from their bedside table and presses it against Jim’s neck, and from there it’s only a few more moments before Jim can breathe again.

“Jim, come, we must get you to the hospital.”

Jim nods silently and allows himself to be carried out of the house and placed shotgun in their car. He knows he’ll be fine on the short ride to the hospital, but fear still grips him as they speed through the city.

He vaguely registers the sound of Spock speaking to Bones on the phone, but cannot seem to make out what it is that they’re saying. He coughs into the crook of his arm and jolts back when pink is splattered on his skin. “Spock,” he croaks out brokenly.

Spock turns to see the blood and presses harder on the gas pedal, not bothering to follow any semblance of traffic laws. “We will be there in approximately 1.4 minutes.” Spock says, presumably to Bones on the phone.

Jim breathes carefully, trying for all he’s worth to get his lungs to fill completely, but finding every time that he just can’t quite get there. He reaches across the hub between the seats of the car and grasps Spock’s hand desperately. He breathes as deeply as he can, trying to force the pain away from himself.

Spock is alarmed, Jim can feel it, but he keeps a still face as he drives. He does not look at Jim.

They arrive at the hospital and Jim is gasping for breath as Spock helps into one of the hospital’s wheelchairs with Chapel, who immediately rushes him off, Spock keeping up with them at a light jog.

“Spock.” Jim gasps out desperately.

Spock looks at Jim as they stop in front of the elevator and Jim sees his demeanor crumble into one of despair and worry. “Jim.”

-

“Jim, this is it.”

“I know, Bones, I know. How long do I have?”

“Indefinitely, if we hook you up to a ventilator, but that’s no way to live.” Bones admits sadly. “We’d just have to keep adding machines as your conditions worsens until you couldn’t do anything.”

Jim barks out a humorless laugh. “Modern medicine, huh?”

Bones smiles sadly and nods, tucking Jim’s chart under his arm. “I suppose. What do you want?”

Jim sighs and sinks back into the pillows of the hospital bed. He’s glad Spock had to leave briefly, or he wouldn’t be able to say this. He couldn’t look at his husband and consign himself to death. “I’m tired, Bones. Don’t pull the plug, per se, but don’t go to extreme measures. If it’s going to happen with what I’m hooked up to right now, just let it.”

Bones looks for a moment like he won’t be able to, but he meets Jim’s eyes with determination. “You probably only have about a week or so with that.”

He’s trying to convince Jim to stay a little longer, but they both know that’s not an option that Jim can accept and be happy. Jim smiles sadly at his best friend of so many years. He shifts up as much as he can on the bed with all the tubes and wires attached to him, and tries to hide his wince at the pain he feels. “Bones, it’ll be okay. We’ve all been preparing for this for a long time.”

Bones shakes his head and sighs in defeat. “Doesn’t mean that any of us are ready for it.”

-

It’s the first time that Jim has really seen Janice cry. Strong, independent, capable Janice Rand has been a rock in his life for years. She might be only twenty-three, but she’s been ages older than him for the entirety of the time that he’s known her.

Now, that same strong, independent, capable woman has been reduced to tears because of him. He swallows the self-loathing that it causes in him and reaches out a pale hand to touch her hair gently. “Hey, it’s okay. You’re going to be okay.”

Janice sniffles and wipes at her smudged eye makeup. She shakes her head and grasps Jim’s hand. “I can’t believe this is happening. I wasn’t ready.”

“You mean you weren’t done with me yet?” Jim attempts to crack a joke and make her smile, but all he receives is a slightly withering glare from Janice.

“It’s just not fair.”

Jim nods in agreement. He finds himself still thinking that in the middle of the night or any moment that he has alone. He never did anything to deserve this fate, or anything that happened to him in his life, but he was dealt it nevertheless. And he can appreciate what else he’s been dealt: people who love him so much that it almost hurts him.

“Jan, you’re important. You know that, right?” Jim says softly to her. She nods quickly, tears still streaming from her eyes. “I could never have gotten through these last few years without you.”

“I know, you’re a disaster.” Janice laughs wearily. She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear and sits up straighter in her chair. “I kept it all together for the biggest disaster in the galaxy.”

“And now you’re finally allowed to cry, so just let it all out.” He says with a sad smile.

Gaila enters the room looking more quiet that Jim has ever seen her. Her skin is a paler green than her usual emerald and he feels a pang of guilt for doing that to her. “G, hey.”

“Jimmy.” Gaila says with a broad grin. She sits in the chair beside Janice, placing one hand on her girlfriend’s back, and one hand on Jim’s arm. “How are you feeling?”

“Can’t quite catch my breath and almost everything hurts.” Jim responds cheerily. “The usual. Or, at least, the usual this week.”

He doesn’t mention the fact that he can almost feel himself dying slowly, like the end of his life is rushing at him like a runaway train. He doesn’t mention the fact that he can feel Spock’s pain and wants nothing more than to get better for him.

Gaila nods seriously and rubs small circles into his skin with her thumb. “You know, I’ll never forget the little boy that I met in therapy. He was so quiet but so scrappy.” She giggles softly. “I remember how worried about me you were the first time you saw me cry.”

“I sorta freaked out.”

“You kept talking to me until you finally made me laugh.”

Jim smiles and shifts so that he’s hold her hand. “You still have the best laugh. Janice is a lucky girl.”

“Nah, I’m the lucky one.” Gaila says with a soft smile at Janice, who smiles back weakly.

“I’m not sure which one of you to threaten.” Jim jokes, “You know what? I’m actually going to go with Gaila. Gaila, if you hurt Jan, I will haunt the fuck out of you.”

Janice laughs in spite of herself and shakes her head. “Jim, you’re the least intimidating person I’ve ever met.”

“Fuck you, I’m plenty terrifying. Especially as a ghost.”

Janice and Gaila both dissolve into a fit of giggles at that and Jim feels his heart swell at the way they lean on each other. Janice grips Gaila’s arms and grins at her like she’s her entire world, a world that will and has to keep spinning without Jim in it. He’s almost jealous of the people who will get to see what these two will become.

Their laughing fit is interrupted by Spock appearing in the doorway holding a bowl of soup with a cover on it. Jim grins at his husband and beckons him to the chair on the other side of his bed. “Come in, I’m starving.”

Once Jim’s tray is adjusted and the soup set out properly, Spock finally relaxes marginally into his chair. Jim can feel him watching him like a hawk for any sign of struggle. Part of him wants to be incredibly annoyed at the mothering behavior.

The rest of him knows that Spock needs to care for Jim possibly more than he needs to be cared for himself. He’ll worry himself sick if he hasn’t done everything in his power to make Jim comfortable.

“Do you require more blankets?” Spock asks right on cue.

“Have you slept?” Jim counters with a raised eyebrow that he hopes mirrors the intensity of Spock’s.

“I do not require as much sleep as a human.”

“Don’t make yourself sick on my account.”

“I assure you, I am of adequate health.”

Jim sighs exasperatedly. “Adequate isn’t good enough. You need to rest.”

“I will rest later.” Spock responds as he adjusts the blankets across Jim’s lap. “When I have time.”

-

Jim supposes it’s fitting that seeing his mother is what it takes to get him to fall apart. Not Janice or Spock or Bones, but Winona Kirk in the flesh standing in his hospital room.

He doesn’t start out crying. No, he greets his mother with a smile and makes some idle chit chat until Winona says,

“Oh, Jimmy, I’m going to miss you.”

 

Jim crumbles. He starts crying in spite of himself and grips Winona’s hand as tightly as he possibly can. “Mom, I can’t do this. I thought I was ready for this, but I’m not. I can’t leave all of you behind.”

Winona smiles softly at Jim and pats his hand, her own eyes looking a tad wet. She sighs and rolls her shoulders. “Jimmy, you’re so strong. You’ve been so strong for so long. You don’t have to be anymore.”

“I have to be for Spock. I’m leaving him, I need to be strong for him.” Jim says certainly, tears still streaming down his face. Of this fact he is certain: Spock is far more important to him than any sentiments attached to staying alive. Crumbling in front of his husband would surely only cause both of them unnecessary pain.

Winona tsks at her son and strokes her free hand through his hair. “Jim, have a little faith in him. Spock knew he was getting himself into this when he married you. Let him help.”

Jim bites his lip and leans into his mother’s touch with a grateful sigh. In that moment, it is almost as if he forgets all the moments of his youth when he felt nothing but anger toward her for abandoning him for long stretches of time. For what is likely the first time in his life, Winona Kirk is his mother, and nothing else matters to him.

“Mom, I’m sorry for…everything. I was cruel to you for so long and you didn’t deserve it.” Jim says softly, his voice cracking with emotion. “I’m sorry it’s coming too late, but I do love you, mom.”

Winona looks for a moment like she might burst into tears with Jim, but she holds her head high and looks on him with kind eyes, hand still carding through his hair. “I know, Jim. I probably did deserve a good part of that anger, but your forgiveness means the world to me.”

Jim nods slowly, suddenly feeling incredibly tired. He settles back into his pillow and smiles at his mother softly. “Can you stay here for a while? I finally convinced Spock to go home to sleep and I really don’t want to wake up alone.”

“Of course, dear. Get some rest.”

When Jim wakes from his nap, it is just past eleven at night. He looks beside himself to find Spock slumped in the chair, hands folded across his abdomen. Every few seconds, his eyebrow twitches upward, a tic which Jim has come to know means that he is sleeping fitfully.

Jim looks to his other side out the large window that makes up the majority of the wall of his room. Someone must have opened the shades earlier that day, because he can see out into the night sky.

The lights of the city drown out many of the stars, but Jim can still easily pick out the constellation of Orion as well as a smattering of other stars. He sighs and thinks back to when he was first diagnosed: twenty one and given a death sentence.

He hadn’t even waited twelve hours before he had jumped on his motorcycle and driven straight through on pure adrenaline until he reached Starfleet headquarters in San Francisco.

He spent that night stargazing and first thing in the morning, went to the recruitment office to join up, desperate to get off the planet as if that could take him away from his problems. He got so close before they received his medical records and sent him packing.

Even now, Jim can feel it taking what is left of him, and a spike of anger shoots through him for a split second.

Jim was raised with tales of Starfleet told to him at bedtime, the stars were his dream for as long as he could remember. He was in school to get an engineering degree that he could use in the ‘Fleet when he was diagnosed. It was his future for the longest time.

It took an hour and a half of testing to erase it from his life completely. An hour and a half and a stoney faced doctor to steal his future from him, to tell him that he’d never touch the stars like he’d imagined. He had hardly thought about it since then.

Looking up out of his hospital window, literally on his deathbed, Jim see exactly what he used to see when he was twelve years old and on Tarsus, back when the disease coursing through his body was hiding. The stars were potential, they were a yet unexplored frontier that spelled freedom and adventure and everything that was stolen from Jim when he was too young to understand what was being taken.

Jim will never live among the stars, there was no getting around it now. He isn’t going to make some miraculous recovery and take his rightful place as a captain of a sleek and beautiful starship. He will never be more than what he is at this moment: a writer with people who love him and care about him around him, and who will remember him for a short time.

His story is done.

-

Spock awakens in the middle of the night to find Jim staring out the window, presumably up at the stars. He says nothing, simply watches the love of his life watch the stars, only a small portion of his face visible in the dim light of the moon.

The expression on Jim’s face is one that is unfamiliar to Spock, and one that he is likely not meant to see. It is one that looks to be a mix of contemplation and some amount of peace. Jim looks more serene that Spock thinks he has seen him in the entirety of their relationship. Gone are the markers of constant stress on his face, the only thing present is the way that Jim’s eyes appear to produce their own light and the small smile on his lips.

Spock wonders what it is that Jim might be thinking of, if he is contemplating the afterlife as many do before death, or if he is reviewing his past, another habit of humans.

In Vulcans, it is said that death should be greeted with acceptance and grace, with no extreme emotions. Spock, not for the first time, finds himself disagreeing drastically with the teachings of Sarek. Death is loss, and no loss can truly be met with apathy. He suspects that most Vulcans feel emotion far deeper than even Humans when faced with their own demise.

The truth will never be known until it his own time, but Spock suspects he is feeling a fraction of it, watching Jim die in front of his eyes.

Spock shifts slightly in his chair and draws Jim’s attention away from the window. His smile grows and he blinks slowly at his husband. “You’re awake.”

Spock nods and holds out two fingers to Jim, who meets them with his own. “What were you thinking about?” He cannot help but ask.

Jim blinks again and traces his fingers along Spock’s softly. “I’m ready. I have become what I’ve become, and I’ll never be anything more. For the first time in my life, I’m okay with that.”

Spock’s breath catches in his throat for a moment when he realizes exactly what it is that Jim is ready for. Jim seems to sense Spock’s unrest and shakes his head at him.

“Look, I know it’s going to be hard for you, and I wish I could fix that, but don’t focus on this.” Jim says warmly. He stares at their joined fingers and twines them so that they are holding hands. “Focus on what we are, now. You changed me, Spock, and I know that I changed you. Maybe not for the better completely, but what we shared can’t be lost. It’s going to remain.”

Spock nods slowly, no longer able to hold back the very human tears that escape his control. He squeezes Jim’s hand marginally more tightly in his own. “You changed me completely, James, I could never forget that.”

“Bonds are forever, right?”

Spock nods.

Jim sighs and smiles sadly. “Then a part of me will always be with you, won’t it? Some small part of me will remain.”

Spock thinks on it. The legends of bonded t’hy’la are vague and few. There is no guarantee that he will have Jim with him until he is no more, but the thought brings him comfort.

Jim looks up to the ceiling and smiles. “There’s a sonnet by Shakespeare that I always loved, and I think it applies.”

“Which one is that?” Spock inquires softly.

“Sonnet 74.” Jim says with a smile, “You don’t have to read it now, but you should, after I’m gone.”

Spock nods and files it away as one of the few things that Jim has instructed him to do after he is gone. A list that he does not think of often, but which he knows he will have to complete in the extremely near future.

“Spock, if I could somehow keep myself from leaving you, I would.” Jim says softly. “I love you more than life itself, but I’ll never be ready to leave you, and I have to go sometime.”

Spock nods solemnly, despite wanting to burst out in despair. It is not fair that Jim Kirk is allowed to die when so many live on without the knowledge of the man who Spock considers to be the best to ever live. They live without feeling the absence that Spock will likely never forget.

He knows that Jim wants him to accept his passing, and Spock wants that for himself, but there is a large part of him that is aware of the fact that he will likely never truly be able to come to terms with his husband’s rapidly approaching fate.

“You know I love you, right?” Jim asks, “Truly, deeply, more than I ever thought possible. You completed me, Spock.”

Spock leans forward and kisses Jim’s lips, which feel cooler even than his. He cups his husband’s face in his hands and kisses him like he cannot bear to let go.

He cannot bear to let go.

Jim pulls away with a smile. He traces the path of one of Spock’s tears down his face with his forefinger.

“I love you most ardently, Jim, and shall until I am nothing more than the earth in which I am buried.”

-

It happens two days later, while Jim is asleep. The monitors attached to Jim start making rather alarming noises which wrench Spock from his own nap to find Jim’s body shaking slightly, his face draining of color as Doctor McCoy and Chapel rush in, attempting to keep Jim alive without disobeying his wishes of no more machines.

It is five minutes before Doctor McCoy strips his gloves off of his hands and declares with despair in his voice, “Time of death, 5:43 pm.”

Christine Chapel closes Jim’s eyes and turns off the machinery attached to him.

Spock finds himself frozen in his chair, gripping the armrests, as he stares at the figure of the man who was everything in his life for only a small while more than a year.

If he focuses, he can almost convince himself that Jim is sleeping, but the emptiness in his mind tells him that it is not that case. Jim is gone, never again to return to him.

Doctor McCoy looks far more shaken that Spock has ever seen any man. He sinks into the chair on the opposite side of Jim’s bed and scrubs over his face with his hand. His stubble and the deep dark circles under his eyes are clear signs that he has been kept awake by Jim’s case, just as the rest of them have been.

“I’m so sorry I couldn’t save him, Spock.” He finally says. “I’m so-“ He cuts off and shakes his head, lips pressed together tightly.

Spock says nothing, simply stares at him and then back at Jim’s body.

“Fuck, he didn’t deserve this. There aren’t many good people in this fucked up galaxy, but Jim was one of them.” Doctor McCoy continues. It is clear to Spock that the other man’s emotions translate into words.

What feels like an eternity later, Christine enters the room with a padd for Doctor McCoy. “Sir, the death certificate.”

She is, to her credit, incredibly professional. Spock can tell from her tense stance that she is not emotionally whole, but she keeps a straight back and commences with the duties required of her.

Doctor McCoy signs the document with shaking hands and thrusts it back toward Christine before leaving the room quickly. She then turns to Spock. “I called Janice, she will be coming by shortly to pick you up.”

“I drove myself here.” Spock says in a hollow voice.

Christine smiles sadly at Spock and shakes her head. “Let her drive, you’re in no state to do it yourself.”

“Vulcans do not become incapacitated by emotion.”

“You’re not entirely Vulcan.” Christine counters. She places her hand on Spock’s shoulder gently. “Now, come on, let’s get you out of here.”

Spock resists momentarily, eyes still transfixed on the form lying in the hospital bed. A body which might have been Jim once, but now seems to be nothing more than an empty shell. He allows himself to be guided out of the room by Christine.

Janice hugs Spock as soon as she sees him, stepping back suddenly as if only then realizing what she’s done. “Sorry, I know how Vulcans are about touch.”

“It is of no matter.”

They drive home in silence, Gaila sitting beside Janice, and Spock in the backseat of the car. The silence might be considered uncomfortable by others, but none of them seems to be truly capable of articulating the grief that seems to fill the car completely until he can hardly breathe.

Doctor McCoy arrives at Jim’s home only ten minutes after Spock, Janice, and Gaila do. Spock assumes the doctor must have taken off for emotional compromise.

“Doctor McCoy,” Spock greets coolly, “I would like to thank you for your actions in ensuring Jim’s health.”

Doctor McCoy stares at Spock openly and nods. “Call me Leonard.”

They take their seats in the living room, Janice producing a bottle of red wine from the kitchen, and filling glasses.

None of them sit in Jim’s armchair.

“To Jim.” Janice says with a shaking voice and hands as she raises her glass. All of them respond in kind.

“Oh Gods, I can’t believe he’s gone!” Gaila exclaims suddenly, bursting into silent tears. She buries her face in her hands and her shoulders shake as Janice rubs circles between her shoulder blades.

Spock’s own emotions are mixed. His last conversations with Jim revealed to him that Jim was ready, and that he should not cry over his death, but Spock finds himself filled with a grief that is nearly numbing in its effects.

They sit in silence drinking wine and avoiding the obvious emptiness of the home for another eternity before Janice gasps suddenly and rushes out of the room. She returns after only a few moments, holding a package wrapped in brown paper, which she hands to Spock.

“It’s his book.” She explains softly. “I think you should look at the dedication.”

Spock studies the cover. It is a print of Monet’s Water Lilies with the title “The Bridge” scrawled across the front in mauve font. He opens the cover.

To Spock, who gave me forever. It reads, followed by a poem.

“It is Shakespeare’s seventy-fourth sonnet.” Spock says aloud. “Might I read it aloud, if you don’t mind?”

The others in the room nod their acquiescence and Gaila wipes her eyes to look up at him.

“But be contented: when that fell arrest
Without all bail shall carry me away,
My life hath in this line some interest,
Which for memorial still with thee shall stay.
When thou reviewest this, thou dost review
The very part was consecrate to thee:
The earth can have but earth, which is his due;
My spirit is thine, the better part of me:
So then thou hast but lost the dregs of life,
The prey of worms, my body being dead,
The coward conquest of a wretch's knife,
Too base of thee to be remembered.
   The worth of that is that which it contains,
   And that is this, and this with thee remains.”