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“You are most welcome, Jim.”

Their eyes meet and hold, and Spock forces himself to straighten his spine and mentally recite the bones of the Vulcan axial skeleton so as not to smile. Jim is looking at him, his face so open and pink and alive, and Spock feels something inside of him crack. All at once he wants to sit down.

On the other side of the bed, McCoy busies himself removing Jim’s IV, occasionally shooting a glance in Jim and Spock’s direction. It seems to Spock that he takes more time than is strictly necessary, but Spock is not a medical professional and is frankly not in the mood to be reminded of such, which will doubtless be the result should he bring it up.

Spock stands by Jim’s bedside for a full five minutes. Jim’s eyes dart from Spock to McCoy and back to Spock, and at last Jim clears his throat and says, “Thanks for everything, Bones, but if you’re done, I’m pretty beat. Think I’m going to try and get some sleep.”

“Smartest thing I’ve ever heard you say,” says McCoy, moving toward the door.

Spock furrows his brow. He is uncertain how to proceed. He thought...but no, if the captain is tired then it is logical that he should rest. Spock will go. If he feels the slightest bit deflated, it is surely coincidental. Perhaps his blood sugar is low.

“You coming?” McCoy says to Spock from the doorway.

Spock takes a step toward the door.

“Wait,” Jim says. “I. Uh, that is, I have some questions, Spock, about--”

“Questions, Captain?”

“Yeah, questions about the timeline for the refit.”

“I believe that information is synced to your personal account, accessible via your--”

Jim gives Spock a look that he is at a loss to interpret. “If you wouldn’t mind just going through it with me one more time--”

“Oh for Christ’s sake,” McCoy says. “Get a room already.”

“Well, that’s convenient, isn’t it, Bones,” Jim says, gesturing at the biobed and its sterile environs. McCoy snorts.

“If I find one new scratch, you’re going to be laid up right next to him in a hot second,” he says, jabbing a finger at Spock. “No, wait, he’d enjoy that too much. You’re going to be in an isolation ward very, very far from here. Don’t tempt me, Spock.”

“Noted, doctor,” Spock says crisply. McCoy mutters something under his breath and steps into the hallway. “For the love of God, lock this door,” he says, shutting it behind him with a click.

It’s as if McCoy’s departure has sucked the oxygen from the room. Spock suddenly finds himself at a loss, as if the sheer magnitude of all he wants to say and do, the measure of it, is too much to put into words.

“Bones,” Jim says with a shrug. “He worries, you know?” Jim’s lips are chapped; the stale hospital air is too dry. His tongue darts out reflexively, a wet flash of pink, and that’s what breaks Spock in the end.

“You were gone,” he says, nearly whispering. He loses the hard set of his shoulders, muscles giving in. He sways a little on his feet and the room begins to swim sideways.

“Shit, here,” Jim says, wincing as he scoots over, making room on the narrow biobed. Spock feels a hot pang of embarrassment and nearly demurs, but then Jim reaches out and takes Spock’s wrist and Spock half-falls onto the bed next to Jim, bracing himself as well as he can to avoid jostling.

He leans over, resting his forehead against Jim’s. “You were gone,” he repeats against Jim’s mouth.

“Spock,” Jim says, and Spock kisses him. He sits up slightly, hands on either side of Jim’s face, fingers in his hair. Jim moans into Spock’s mouth, sucking at his lower lip until it bruises, and Spock feels a small and secret thrill at the thought of going away from this grey place with that sweet ache to worry at like a sore tooth.

They part, gasping, and Spock runs his hand over Jim’s face, tracing his nose, the swell of his lips, the rasp of stubble on his jawline that sets Spock’s nerve endings jangling. He is struck with the urge to touch every inch of Jim, to catalogue his skin such that he might one day be able to recreate all this from memory.

“I”m not going anywhere now,” Jim says, as if he can sense Spock’s thoughts. “I’m not.” He kisses him again, pulling Spock down on top of him. “Ah,” he gasps, shifting under Spock’s weight. Spock stiffens reflexively.

“You’re not well,” he says, trying to sit up. “Jim, perhaps it would be more appropriate if--”

“Shut up, Spock,” Jim says, tracing Spock’s cheekbone with his thumb. “Just try not to break me.”

Spock finds it harder than he should. Jim’s body is a minefield of tender places, and Spock tries, oh how he tries to stay clear of them on the narrow sliver of a bed. But Jim is here, here, and he does not know how to be gentle with him when a not-so-small part of Spock wants to crawl inside him and never leave.

Eventually, Spock curls around Jim from behind, face buried at the juncture of his neck and shoulder. Jim makes a comment regarding the convenience of hospital gowns as Spock undoes the ties at the neck and waist with fumbling fingers, and something in the ease of that remark cuts Spock to the bone. His shields are tattered; nothing about the past two weeks has been conducive to rebuilding his emotional controls. He freezes, sucking in a ragged breath.

“Spock?” Jim shifts, half-turning toward Spock, and what Spock might have been able to deny with Jim’s back to him is laid bare.

“You’re shaking,” Jim says. “Spock--”

Spock kisses him again, messy this time, a clash of tongue and teeth. Jim tenses as if to break their contact but Spock holds him close, kisses and kisses until the phosphenes flare behind his eyes and they break apart for want of oxygen.

Spock traces the beat of Jim’s pulse with his mouth, down his carotid to his clavicle, coming to rest at the knob of bone at Jim’s shoulder. His skin tastes of salt. Spock traces Jim’s hipbone with his right hand, splaying his palm across the flat of Jim’s stomach and pressing Jim’s body against his. There are too many layers between them, and Spock is suddenly frantic to feel. With his free hand, he undoes his flies and jerks his uniform slacks and briefs down as best he can, which isn’t very well at all. But now they’re skin to skin, at least, and Jim is laughing a low scrape of a laugh as he feels Spock hard against his ass.

“I’ve never seen you desperate,” says Jim.

“You have been in a coma for the past thirteen days,” Spock replies, kissing Jim’s shoulder. He slides his hand down to Jim’s half-hard cock.

“Mmm,” Jim says. “I think I like it.”

“If you never have occasion to experience it again, I will count it a victory,” Spock says.

He can’t resist now, Jim is so close, so warm against him. He thrusts up into the cleft of Jim’s ass, simultaneously fisting Jim’s cock. Jim moans, backing up against Spock. Spock cannot fully know Jim’s thoughts this way, but there is a low current of consciousness that feels as if it’s sidling up against his. It seems to seep into Spock and soothe the knot of pain he’s been carrying since the moment he stepped onto the engineering deck.

“I need to feel,” Jim says suddenly. “I need to feel you, okay?”

“Yes,” Spock says.

“I don’t--I don’t have anything. Oh, hold on...the drawer there, can you--”

Spock sits up awkwardly, leaning over and opening the drawer on the bedside table. Scrabbling against the bottom, his fingers find a small tube. Spock resettles next to Jim on the bed, holding it out to him with a querulous expression.

“It’s lotion,” Jim says. “I think. I saw it there earlier.” He makes a face. “I mean, beggars can’t be choosers, right?”

Spock sighs. “This is ill-advised,” he says.

“Gah, Spock, please,” Jim says. “I’m fine, I’m going to be fine, I just...I need...” His voice cants upwards on the last word, and Spock makes an executive decision to take Jim’s assurances at face value. He kicks off his boots and pulls his pants the rest of the way off, wadding them into a ball at the bottom of the bed, already forgotten. He runs his hand up Jim’s thigh, over the map of healing bruises. Spock wonders which of these is which- the flight through the debris field, Khan’s ferocity, capillaries weakened by radiation. He thinks about the ship wheeling out of control, about impact.

He opens the tube, squeezing its contents out into his palm, and reaches around to stroke Jim’s cock to hardness. He trails his fingers down the small of Jim’s back, scraping fingernails over his coccyx, down into the cleft between his cheeks. Another time, perhaps, Spock will linger there, or lean down to taste. But today he finds Jim’s hole with deft fingers, slicking it with lotion. Jim gasps, arching his back as if to get closer to Spock’s fingers. Spock bites at Jim’s shoulder as he presses his forefinger inside.

“Is is true--ah, is it true what they say about Vulcan hands?”

“It is,” Spock says.

“That’s so hot,” Jim gasps. “Tell me.”

“You feel...you feel tight. And hot, ah--” Jim has shifted himself backwards onto Spock’s finger. Spock presses a second finger into him, unable to resist rocking his hips forward. “Jim...”

“I want you,” Jim says. “C’mon, I want to feel you fuck me, Spock, please.”

Spock can’t suppress a moan at the baldness of Jim’s request. He presses his cheek against Jim’s shoulder as he reaches down and jerks himself, lubricating his own cock. He glances down, lining himself up, and his stomach drops as he’s hit by the full realization of what they’re about to do. He wants so desperately to let go, to push inside of Jim and feel the hot pulsing life of him, but when he closes his eyes all he can see is a handprint left on glass, Jim slumped limp and cold to one side...

“No,” Spock mutters, shaking his head slightly in an attempt to dispel the troubling images. No, you are not there. You are here. He is here.

“Spock,” Jim whispers.

Spock cries out, one hand white-knuckled on Jim’s hips. With the other, he guides himself inside.

“Oh god,” Jim says, shuddering. “Oh, fuck...”

“Am I hurting you?” Spock murmurs into the nape of Jim’s neck.

“Ah--kind of, but it’s...it’s good. Don’t stop, I’ll be okay in a minute.”

Spock stills. It’s not a hardship, exactly; Jim is impossibly tight around him and Spock is already unsure how long he can last. Jim pushes back, slowly and carefully, and the litany of sounds he makes as he does so threatens to send Spock over the edge all by itself. And then Jim’s body is flush with Spock’s, and he’s entirely surrounded.

He gasps into Jim’s skin, turning his head this way and that in a vain effort to ameliorate the sensations that threaten to swallow him up, doubling back on themselves as a result of their proximity.

Jim glances back at him, huffing a little laugh that makes his body shake, and oh...

“Are you okay?” Jim asks gently. Everything about you is warm, Spock thinks.

“I am...overwhelmed,” he says, his voice unsteady.

Jim laughs again, softly, and reaches for Spock’s hand. He holds it to his mouth and presses a kiss to the palm. “Me too,” he says, breath hot against Spock’s hand. “You feel...you feel so good, fuck, I can’t believe this is happening. Spock, I’m just warning you, I might still be dreaming...”

“I assure you...ah, Jim...I assure you I am very much awake,” Spock says.
Some of the tension has melted out of Jim’s body, and Spock tentatively begins to move. He slides his hand free of Jim’s grip and moves down to his cock, imagining what he cannot see. He finds his mind wandering to the future, a future he finds himself hoping for with dangerous fervency. He imagines an impractically large bed and an impractically free schedule. He imagines taking Jim in his mouth, tasting him, taking all of him the way he’s taking Spock now.

Jim moans as if he knows Spock’s thoughts, grinding back against him. “Can you...”

“What do you want?” Spock asks, mouthing at the shell of Jim’s ear.

“More,” Jim says, and Spock obliges him, all thoughts of frail health and warp cores abandoned. He grips Jim’s hips and holds him as if afraid he might float off, unmoored. Or perhaps it is Spock who requires an anchor; he does not know. All he knows is the snap of his hips, the wet sound of flesh on flesh, and the way Jim’s breathing has turned fast and shallow. Spock closes his eyes again and allows himself simply to feel. There’s no room on the bed, no room for Spock to pull out and fuck back into Jim with the long, deep thrusts he craves. But the frustration with their position seems to manifest as a delicious tension, building and building as he moves in Jim.

“Yeah, yeah, that’s so good,” Jim gasps. “I thought...I thought we would never get this,” he says, his voice hitching. Spock’s throat feels tight at the thought, at the knowledge of just how improbable it is that they should be together this way after...after everything. Jim is working himself in time to Spock’s thrusts, and Spock reaches around to place his hand over Jim’s, careful to match Jim’s movements.

“I wish to learn you,” he says in Jim’s ear.

“Fuck, yes,” Jim says by way of reply, and then they’re both lost, speech forgotten in the hot rhythm of their bodies, and the tension rises like a wave. Their bodies slide together slick and sweaty, and Spock grips Jim’s hips tighter for purchase. He has the vague thought that it’s too hard, hard enough to bruise, and a small dark part of him takes a measure of satisfaction in the prospect. To have his own mark on Jim’s body...Spock shudders at the thought. Jim quickens the pace of his hand on his cock, giving a high-pitched whine. He’s close, they both are. The electricity in the air is unmistakeable, and Spock suddenly wants more. He considers for a second, then brings his hand up to Jim’s face, resting it against his cheek.

“Spock, I’m going to--”

“Please,” says Spock raggedly, fingertips already poised at the meld points. “I want...I want to see.”

“Do it,” Jim says, and Spock does.

It’s chaos, and any other time Spock might have been disconcerted by that fact, but now he cannot bring himself to care. Because it’s Jim, he’s in Jim’s mind, and now he can feel Jim’s hand on his cock and the stretch and burn of Spock buried deep inside him, filling him up and he feels, he feels, safe and whole and loved loved loved--

***

“This bed is not designed to hold two beings,” Spock says later. Jim just laughs, twining their fingers together. He wipes at his eyes with his free hand.

“Emotional transference is--”

“I know,” Jim says. “That’s, uh, that’s not what this is, though.”

“I see,” Spock says.

They lie quietly for a time--six minutes and thirty-five seconds, though Spock is only half paying attention--and then Jim turns toward him, lifting himself on an elbow and wincing slightly at some hidden pain. Jim’s face is so open, eyes so wide, and Spock can see the violent blue of warp signatures fading into space, five long years boldly going, and he thinks he could lose himself here forever, that he already has.