“Captain, as your First Officer it is my duty to inform you that the course of action you propose is a dangerous one.”
Moments like these are why he has a First, why he needs someone like Spock in his corner. Moments like these, when he’s about to do something stupid because his gut tells him it’s right, are when he most needs that calm voice of reason whispering in his ear careful, careful, that light touch on the back of his hand steadying him. Usually, he listens. But not always, and not when Spock’s words are matched with that slight quirk of his right eyebrow, the one that says but I will not tell if you will not and gives him the only permission he needs.
“Dangerous,” he repeats. It isn’t a question. More like a dare.
Bones tells him that he’s getting reckless, and doesn’t even try to be careful as he treats Jim’s latest scrapes and bruises. “You keep this up, and you could get yourself killed,” he says. He sounds like a father, angry and worried, the worry acting like an amplifier for the anger, and Jim doesn’t tell him that he doesn’t need a parent, he just needs something to dull the throbbing sensation in his ribs. He doesn’t need a lecture, either, just an hour or two of quiet rest to get himself together.
“I’m serious,” Bones is saying. “You’re crossing a line, Jim. This isn’t bravery. It’s not even endearing recklessness anymore. This is just plain old-fashioned stupidity.”
Jim considers asking Bones if he’s planning on sending him to bed without supper, but decides against: it’s best not to be a smartass to the man who’s poking and prodding at your bruises.
“The ship can’t risk losing you,” Bones continues. His voice flirts on the edge of softness, but if Jim didn’t know him so well he almost wouldn’t believe the tone. “As your CMO, I’m ordering you to stay on the Enterprise the next time we send a team down. Spock can be in charge. I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but I just can’t trust you right now.”
Jim’s always been an adrenaline junkie. It’s in his blood; it’s deep embedded in his DNA. He knows it’s in Spock’s, too. Sometimes Jim wonders how his First got this rep for being so put together, for being so careful. Jim knows very well that he isn’t, not always, that he has a deep uncontrollable streak in him, too. He needs excitement and danger and risk and he can be wild, too, and stupid. Oh, so stupid, they both are, really, he thinks as he puts one hand to Spock’s cheek.
“Captain Kirk? Might I speak with you for a moment?”
“What? Oh, yeah, Spock, sure. Come in.”
“I have the list of crewmembers I would like to take down for the exploration mission.”
“Seven, counting myself.”
“Your best people?”
“Good. You’re dismissed, Spock.”
“You do not want to know who—”
“No. I trust you.”
“Jim, are you angry that Dr. McCoy—”
Jim has an old and worn reputation as a flirt, and he can’t seem to shake it. Sometimes he almost thinks it’s funny. He hasn’t turned his attentions on anyone, anyone but his right hand, that sharp and fluent and uncompromising and inquisitive man he would kill for, since the ship took off. But still everyone knows what that Jim Kirk is like. And no one notices Spock. They don’t notice his knee against Jim’s under the table at dinner or hear that certain low note in his voice when he whispers words only Jim is meant to hear. They don’t know what his fingers feel like unknotting aching muscles, and they’ve never wondered where the line is between friendly favor and invitation, have never turned over and over in their minds that moment when Spock could have pulled away but didn’t, when he let his touch linger.
Before Starfleet found him, long before, when he was just a kid building up the big dreams he’d later knock down and forget, he had a certain way of daydreaming. He would draw planets in his imagination and then grab them. It was a childhood spent in his own mind, a childhood spent in the outer reaches of space, dancing on the edge of the frontier, then stepping over. He had no limits. He knew no rules. He discovered the most beautiful parts of the galaxy, and he stepped back to view them from afar and then stepped close to hold them in the palm of his hand. He was all seeing. He was awed.
So he is awed, still, now, at the sight of this green jewel of a planet. It looks like something out of one of his old dreams. He wants to reach out for it, and see it revolving and revolving in the palm of his hand. He wants to take in every last detail of it with his hands and his feet and his eyes and even his tongue, if it will let him. It is a gorgeous thing, a worthy thing. He stares at it for too many long moments. He forgets, for a moment, that it isn’t for him.
It’s plenty dangerous, this—this touch, this leaning, this ghosting of breath against cheek, against lip. That’s why, part of why, he wants it so.
“You and Spock aren’t subtle at all, you know,” Bones announces suddenly, over what’s passing for breakfast today. The time in Earth hours is unreasonably early, and he’d hate it, if he were on Earth, but he doesn’t attach much importance to Earth time anymore. The numbers are only numbers. He does not feel them.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he answers.
“Your relationship,” Bones clarifies. “It’s pretty clear what’s going on.”
“Nothing’s going on. Trust me, Bones. I wish I could tell you I was lying, but I’m not.”
His friend is frowning at him, half disbelieving, half disapproving, and Jim considers telling him just how much he wishes he could say, yes, I seduced him, yes, we’re fucking, yes, at the end of the day that man is in my bed with his hot, hot skin and his sweet, sweet lips. But it hasn’t come to that, not yet. Bones sighs that certain sigh he has that sounds like grumbling.
“Yeah, well if you ask me—”
“You should keep it that way. I can’t even name the number of ways that you and Spock would be bad news.”
Jim trusts Bones’s judgment more than almost anyone’s, but in this case, Bones is wrong. He and Spock would be brilliant. They’d light up the deep dark of space like a supernova.
He leans in and Spock doesn’t stop him. He just stands, all straight back stiffness (Jim wants to take him apart, wants to unwind him, undo him), his eyes scanning back and forth across Jim’s face until he is too close, and Spock becomes cross eyed, trying to watch him. Jim puts his hands on Spock’s shoulders. He leans so close they are almost touching lips to lips and still Spock doesn’t move away. The moment is torturous and slow and sweet, until that second that mouth touches mouth and then, then they are fierce. He has Spock pinned by the shoulders against the wall and Spock’s hands are at his hips, holding him just so, body against body. The kiss is good like few first kisses are, as if their mouths were meant to fit together this way, their bodies meant to move together this way. Their rhythm is perfect, each movement matching each movement like choreography, and he runs his hands down from Spock’s shoulders to his arms to his sides and then around to his back and hugs him close, as if he could lift him, as if that were possible, and carry him away.
It’s over all too quickly. Suddenly Spock is pulling and pushing in all of the wrong directions, untangling their limbs, catching his breath. Jim had been ready to let his own breath get utterly taken away from him. He’d been looking forward to it.
“Something wrong?” he manages, his voice a little shaky on the words. He has his hand up his to his mouth as if Spock had punched him there.
Spock shakes his head, but Jim isn’t sure if he’s denying that anything is wrong or simply denying, denying the kiss, denying the spark between them.
“You know that we cannot, Jim,” he is saying now, voice low and quiet and sorry, Jim would say, actually apologetic. He knows what being let down gently sounds like, though, he’s heard it before and he’s said it too, and this isn’t it. This is a denial. And he really doesn’t know what to say to that. He could ask why not, but there are plenty of reasons, and he’s already thought through and rejected them all. Deep down, he’s just a hopeless romantic, and he can’t believe there’s any reason to say no to a connection like this.