To be honest, Jim wasn’t a morning person on the best of days, and though time in space didn’t quite feel the same as it did on Earth, Monday mornings were still unequivocally the worst of the lot. And really, spending the better part of the previous week locked in a holding cell with a number of his fellow Bridge crew hadn’t exactly been a walk in the park. The stressful last few days combined with the shitty universal constant that was a Monday morning had just made it all the more difficult for Jim to drag himself out of bed in time for Alpha shift.
The blearily nodded salutes from the rest of the bridge crew and the yawned “Keptin on ze bridge” from Chekov told Jim that the rest of the team would also prefer to be resting after the last four and a half days. Sulu was bent possessively over a cup of black coffee so strong the smell alone made the hairs on the Captain’s neck prickle. Uhura, even with the fading bruises on her jaw and eye, looked the most put together; but Spock – who was usually a very close, very polished second – looked worse than the rest of them combined, despite not actually having been a prisoner himself.
The Commander hadn’t beamed down with the other senior members to meet with the officials of Axilay 9. Instead, he had stayed behind to work on an experiment in the science labs, and to watch over Beta crew as they got in some practice time at running the ship with their supervisors away. This of course had meant that when the slightly panicked com came through that the away team had all been taken prisoner by a renegade militant group, Spock and the Beta team were the ones to mount a rescue.
The Vulcan, being the senior most officer on ship, had taken command and – as Jim had learned upon finally returning to the Enterprise late last night – literally hadn’t rested until the rescue mission had been a success.
Jim sat in his chair, rubbing absentmindedly at his knee which had a phantom ache – one of the renegade Axilayans had stomped it on the second day held in the cramped prison, and though Bones had been able to heal it quickly once they were back on the Enterprise, the memory of the pain hadn’t yet faded.
As he sat, Jim let his eyes glance over Spock. The Vulcan had the faintest green bruises under his eyes, the only outward appearance of tiredness that would be visible to the casual observer. But it had been years since Jim could call his friendship with Spock ‘casual’ and he could easily tell that Spock’s shoulders were slouched the tiniest bit – unimportant on anyone else, the miniscule slump was a sure sign of exhaustion in his first officer.
“Mr Spock, report” Jim said, breaking the drowsy quiet of the morning.
“We left orbit around Axilay 9 yesterday evening at 2100 hours, Captain. This morning at 0200 we received new orders from Star Fleet and are now making our way to the Sharleei Moon colony in the Drieht system to deliver the medical supplies we obtained from Starbase L’apann two weeks ago.”
Jim nodded as he flicked through his PADD, glancing quickly over the screen to check he had received the orders. Above the message flagged ‘Starfleet’ in his inbox sat Spock’s report from the last few days – the ‘received’ time stamp read 03:43am. Had the stubborn idiot really stayed up until quarter to four in the morning just to finish a report that could have easily waited another few days? Judging by what Jim knew of his first officer, combined with the slowed cadence of Spock’s speech and still slumped shoulders, Jim was going to guess ‘Yes’.
“The journey should only take us twenty-eight or so hours.” Spock finished his report – he hadn’t turned around as he spoke, instead appearing to read straight from the screen in front of him.
Jim raised an eyebrow.
Twenty-eight ‘or so’ hours? Usually the Vulcan had everything calculated to the nth degree and memorised perfectly after a single read through. The lack of specificity combined with the early time stamp on Spock’s report (to say nothing of his apparent reliance on his computer for notes) only added to Jim’s worry, and he sighed gustily as he stretched his back and felt it crack. Normally he wouldn’t call Spock out in front of the other crew members, but Jim’s concern for Spock’s health currently overrode his concern for his friend’s professional pride.
“Spock, are you sure you should be working? You’re exhausted – maybe you should go rest.”
“That is unnecessary. I am fine, Ashayam.”
Jim frowned in confusion just as there was a gasped “oh my God” from the corner behind him, and he looked over his shoulder to see Uhura staring at Spock in shock. Everyone else on the bridge had stopped what they were doing and were sharing confused looks – what had the Commander called the Captain?
There was an aborted movement to Jim’s right and he turned back to see Spock had frozen, his hands now unmoving on the buttons in front of him. The slump in the Vulcan’s shoulders had disappeared, replaced with a rigidity that made Jim feel tense just to look at. It took him a second to realise what else had changed about his first officer, but after a moment Jim was startled to realise that Spock’s pointed ears had flushed a deep green.
Was he- was Spock embarrassed?
“Sorry, what was that Commander?”
Spock jolted at his Captain’s voice breaking the increasingly awkward silence, and the Vulcan did the unexpected – he stood from his post and turned to face Jim. The usually sharp cheekbones were softened by the same green blush as his upturned ears and his eyes refused to meet Jim’s, instead staring a little to the left of his Captain’s face.
“I believe you may be correct after all, Captain. I am not currently performing at optimal levels – I request permission to retire to my quarters. I shall arrange for ensign Lopez to replace me.”
“Of course you can go rest Spock, but what-”
“Thank you, Captain,” Spock spoke over Jim hurriedly and then, without waiting to be dismissed or even giving a salute, he turned and walked swiftly from the room.
There was a long silence that was broken only by the swish of the closing turbolift doors shutting closed behind the fleeing officer, the quiet continuing for a few more moments after he’d gone.
“What the hell was that about?” Jim wondered aloud, and none of his crew responded. Everyone shrugged and returned to their jobs, murmuring quietly amongst themselves, all equally confused.
At her station, Lieutenant Uhura bit her lip indecisively before sighing quietly and bringing up a piece of code.
She knows exactly what she’s changing, has had this particular piece of cipher memorised from two weeks into her second xenolinguistics paper. Her assistant professor had lifted an eyebrow at her and said “excellent work Cadet Uhura” in a measured tone, approval shining quietly from his eyes. It hadn’t taken long for her and Spock to become friends (even if it’d taken much longer for them to become more) and soon Uhura had convinced him into regular social meetings. They hadn’t been dates – not at that point, anyway – and conversation had remained strictly academic for the first few weeks. Fairly early in their acquaintance they had met at one of the cafés on campus and his Starfleet duties – those other than teaching – had come up. They’d talked for hours; she’d had coffee and he’d had green tea.
A rush of remembered fondness quickened her hands, and it only took Uhura the better part of an hour to finish the edit; it was a quiet morning on bridge and coding wasn’t her specialty – but it was a language of a sort nonetheless and eventually the patterns and rhythms flowed similarly. She was pleased with the result, and glad that she was done before Kirk could notice and ask her what exactly she had been changing in the Enterprise’s translator database.
Uhura clicked back into a recording of the away mission on Axilay 9 and settled back into her official work, secure in the knowledge that there were now only three people on the whole ship who would be able to find the Vulcan to Standard translation of the term ‘Ashayam’.
The end of Alpha shift eventually rolled around and Jim followed his yawning crew to the Mess hall for some food. After grabbing some replicated tomato soup and toast, Jim made his way over to where Sulu and Chekov were chatting animatedly. Uhura sat with them, but was ignoring their antics to focus on her meal.
“Keptin!” Chekov said excitedly as Jim sat down. “Ve vere just vondering – do you speak Vulcan?”
Jim took a second to parse through the heavy accent before shaking his head.
“Afraid not – I know some Klingon and enough French to get me by, but spoken languages were never my specialty.”
Sulu gestured to Uhura, who was still determinedly ignoring their conversation as she chewed on her food methodically.
“Uhura won’t help us. Says to mind our own business and if we’d been interested in knowing Vulcan then we should have picked up a class while at the Academy.”
Jim raised an eyebrow as he dipped his toast in his soup.
“Oh really? What, you won’t even tell me?”
Uhura finished her mouthful and patted her mouth delicately with a napkin before answering.
“Is that an order, Captain?”
Something about the overly calm way she spoke grabbed Jim’s attention, and he stared at his Lieutenant. The corners of her mouth had turned down ever so slightly, and she was uncharacteristically refusing to meet his eye.
She was uncomfortable, he realised. It was a strange look on the normally self-assured communications officer, and so Jim forced his curiosity aside to laugh off his question.
“Na, don’t worry about it Uhura, I’m not that worried.” Jim turned to Sulu and Chekov, who both looked slightly disappointed that they weren’t about to learn the translation of the mystery word.
“It’s probably just Vulcan for Captain or something and Spock got embarrassed that he slipped up. It happens when you’re tired – Chekov you slip into Russian sometimes yourself. It’s no big deal; nothing overly exciting guys, I’m sure.”
Chekov nodded reluctantly, but Sulu looked between Uhura and the Captain shrewdly, having picked up on the tension in their exchange. After a moment, however, he too nodded, the conversation changing tracks as they started to discuss the colony they were heading towards as they finished their meals.
Jim spends the early evening sparring in the gym, and despite the absence of his usual partner it’s only after he steps out of his sonic shower that he decides to check on Spock. His curiosity and concern have been sitting in the back of his mind since that morning, and after quickly pulling on some clothes, Jim makes his way out of his quarters and down the hall to Spock’s door.
There’s no answer when he knocks, and after a brief internal debate in which Jim ignores the sensible voice in his head that says Spock’s fine and instead listens to the whiney voice that demands he find out what is going on right now, he quickly pins in his override code and the door opens with a near silent swish.
Jim loves being Captain.
The room he enters is warmer than the rest of the ship, in deference to Spock’s preferences as a desert dweller; this isn’t unusual. What is unusual is that the room is dark, and Jim can only make it a few steps into the room without worrying that he’ll knock something over. He can just make out the silhouette of someone lying in the centre of the bed, apparently asleep.
Good, Jim thinks with no small amount of satisfaction. He really ran himself into the ground these past few days.
The simple fact that Spock hadn’t woken – either when Jim knocked or when he entered the Vulcan’s rooms – proved just how tired his second in command was. It was just another tell added to the list.
Jim stood just inside the doorway and frowned as he considered Spock’s behaviour that morning on the bridge – in particular his slip up.
It was killing him, not knowing what that word meant. Uhura’s reaction, both to Spock’s saying it in the first place and at lunch time, simply flamed the curiosity burning inside him. A flash of inspiration hit at the thought of his communications officer, and Jim decided then and there that he was going to get to the bottom of this – after all, he had official translation systems at his disposal. Why not use them?
With one last fond look at his sleeping XO, Jim left the Vulcan’s quarters, his shoulders set in determination. It wasn’t prying; not really. It was simply concern for his officer; a passing interest into the culture of one of his closest friends.
And Spock was one of his dearest friends, Jim had realised some months ago. The three and a bit years they had spent together exploring space had certainly seen some changes in their relationship. At one point Jim had thought that Spock would be, at best, a rival – at worst, an enemy. And while they certainly still competed against one another (Jim knew Spock kept a running score of wins and losses when they played chess) their interactions had mellowed over the long months.
Perhaps ‘mellowed’ wasn’t quite the right word. There was still the tension between them that had at first manifested as negatively as possible – anger, resentment, contention. But as time passed that tension had transformed, and suddenly rather than fighting against each other they were working in tandem so effectively that the Brass at Starfleet often joked the two were reading each other’s mind. Over time the intense dislike Jim had felt for Spock had slowly but surely changed into a deep-seated respect and a half-intrigued, half-exasperated affection. Their relationship had… settled – into what it had always meant to be, if the late Ambassador Spock was correct (and he usually had been, Jim thought with fond remembrance).
As it was now, the two of them rarely spent free time apart – looking back, perhaps Jim shouldn’t have been so surprised when he learned of Spock and Uhura’s split. Near the end Spock had spent more time with his Captain than he had with his girlfriend – that was always going to be a bad sign, Jim thought ruefully. Thankfully the two had remained friends; he didn’t quite know how they managed it so seamlessly, going from a relationship back to a friendship – but they had, and Jim was grateful his top of the line command team hadn’t fallen apart alongside their romantic relationship.
Thinking about Uhura and Spock reminded Jim of his purpose in returning to his rooms, and he quickly made his way over to his desk and, more importantly, the computer he kept there.
It didn’t take him long to load up Starfleet’s Translator software.
“Computer, translate from Vulcan to Standard: Ashayam.”
“No results found.”
Jim paused, confused. He was sure he had pronounced the word exactly as Spock had that morning, and the ‘fleets translator software was the best known to man and alien alike. A sudden thought occurred to him.
“Computer, translate from Old High Vulcan to Standard: Ashayam.”
“No results found.”
“Dammit,” Jim sighed, running a hand through his hair. The familiar excitement of a puzzle was settling into the back of his mind – the association with Spock made him briefly think of the Kobayashi Maru and he smirked. It seemed Spock would yet again be the source of a conundrum that he wouldn’t be able to let go. Maybe he would have to tackle this puzzle from a different angle, like he had the unbeatable test. After a minute’s thought, Jim brought up the software history logs.
And there it was. In the Enterprise translations library history:
Last Edited: Stardate 2263.97, 0837hrs Ship Time.
Edited by: Lieutenant N. Uhura.
That sly minx. Jim hadn’t even noticed his communications officer messing around behind him during Alpha – judging by the timestamp, Spock had barely left the bridge before Uhura had started meddling in the Enterprise’s translation archives.
Information protected, the computer said – but there was no request for a password. His Captain’s override wasn’t going to help him here. He almost thought he should have a stern word with Uhura about that, but honestly he was just too impressed.
Jim grinned and cracked his neck. Looked like he was doing this the old-fashioned way. It only took him a few clicks to bring up the source code for the translator software and Jim settled more comfortably in his chair, familiarising himself with the encryption. He was on his second skim through when he realised that, actually – he didn’t need to familiarise himself with the security measures Uhura had implanted into the software; he already knew it. But why would Uhura use the same code that Spock had designed for the Kobayashi Maru – it was common knowledge that he’d hacked the test, and Uhura was smart enough to know that he’d be able to get around the coding again, even if it was implemented differently to account for the differences in software.
Unless she meant for him to break through.
But that didn’t make sense – if Uhura wanted Jim to know the translation, why hadn’t she just told him earlier at lunch? Why hide the information away in the first place – though, if she had truly wanted to keep the edit a secret, why not erase the record of her interference?
The only conclusion Jim could come to was that Uhura had locked the translation away not from Jim, but from the rest of the crew – and thinking back to the enquiring gleam in Sulu and Chekov’s eyes at lunch, the curious murmurs that morning as Spock had left the bridge… maybe Uhura had done so with good reason. The fact that she had chosen to leave the trail of breadcrumbs for Jim to stumble upon, the use of code that she knew he was familiar with; it all suggested that while Uhura hadn’t wanted anyone else to know the translation, she thought that Jim should know what it was Spock had called him.
That was as good an invitation as he was going to get, and Jim got started editing. It was delicate, detail heavy work, but he knew this code and for someone who hadn’t specialised, Uhura’s programming was clean and easy to work with – if you knew what had to be done. It took him a just over half an hour, but eventually he once again had full access to the translation archives, and Jim sat back and stretched smugly.
“Computer, translate from Vulcan to Standard: Ashayam.”
“Ashayam: meaning ‘beloved’ in the Vulcan language. Used as a term of endearment.”
Jim felt his jaw drop and he stared at the screen of his computer in dazed disbelief. His ears were buzzing and his tongue felt dry and clumsy in his mouth.
No wonder Uhura had locked the translator.
“Bones! Bones!” Jim banged on the door of his Chief Medical Officers rooms, barely waiting for the doors to open fully before he was barging past his friend.
“Jim I swear to God if this isn’t an emergency I will sew your mouth shut and knock you out in that order.” McCoy growled as he answered his door. “It’s getting on one in the morning and after this past week I’d appreciate a little shut eye!”
Bones’ pyjamas weren’t regulation; they were blue and white striped flannel, and Jim bit his tongue to stop a comment about the old-fashioned sleepwear escaping – he wouldn’t make that mistake again. Instead he waved his hand apologetically at the doctor, seating himself on the bed.
“I know, I won’t take long Bones, I just- I’m freaking out a bit.”
McCoy eyed his Captain shrewdly, crossing his arms.
“This is about the hobgoblin.”
“Says who?” Jim replies immediately, and McCoy groaned as he tiredly ran a hand down his face.
“I am not paid to be your damn marriage counsellor Jim.”
“That!” Jim said, jumping up and pointing. “That’s what this is about! Um – Spock. You’re always making jokes about me and Spock. Why?”
“Because you’re idiots, that’s why. Seriously Jim, what’s this about? Really.”
Jim paced the room a bit and McCoy watched his friend; the blond was almost manic with motion, tugging a hand through his hair, picking up the odd ornament and fiddling with it.
“You know Spock’s fine, right? He comm’d me this morning to let me know he was off duty – for the records, y’know. But I checked on him earlier this evening; he’s fine Jim. Just needed some rest.”
Jim nodded, but his pace slowed a bit.
“Did- did you hear about why he left the bridge?” Jim asked and McCoy snorted.
“Course I did. This ship’s got more gossip in it than a county church on a Sunday. He called ya something in Vulcan. Dunno what, don’t rightly care – ‘less he insulted ya,” McCoy added as an afterthought. “He always does have the best insults, particularly when it’s your giant head that needs deflating. Anything good this time?”
Jim scowled and resumed his seat on the bed.
“No, thank you, he didn’t insult me. He-” and here Jim trails off, and if McCoy hadn’t seen it himself he might not have believed the blush that spread across his Captain’s cheeks.
“Bones,” Jim says, desperately confused, “Spock called me ‘beloved’. Ashayam.”
McCoy stares at Jim for a full minute in silence, before he raises his eyebrows.
“Jimbo is this supposed to surprise me or something?”
Jim gapes at his MCO.
“What? Yes! He basically called me sweetheart! What do I do with that information Bones?! Was he just tired? Did he mean it? Or is it like when you accidentally call your teacher ‘Mom’? What if-”
“Oh my God.” McCoy interrupts and grabs Jim by the arm, dragging him off the bed. “That’s it. Out. I am too damn tired to deal with your love life, Jim. Honestly, you come in here banging on like it’s the end of the Goddamn galaxy or something,” the doctor shakes his head disparagingly as he pushes his friend out the door. “When really you just need to get your head outta your arse and talk to Spock. Honestly. Why’re ya panicking about this? Bugger off back to your room and get some sleep!”
The doctor leans against the doorway, blocking Jim from entering again. The blond stares at his friend in frustration.
“I’m not panicking,” Jim corrects with exhausted, slightly wild eyes. “I am- I am seeking advice. Obviously I shouldn’t have tried asking unhelpful, grumpy old men like you!”
Bones sighs – Jim’s comebacks get weaker the less sleep he’s had. He needs to send his Captain to go rest before he’s having to take Alpha shift off to sleep as well. Lord save him from these two idiots.
“Jim. This is all very simple. You have three questions to answer, alright? One: Do you like that pointy-eared git? Two: Does Spock like ya back? Now, these first two are, in my professional opinion, pretty damn easy – because going by the way you two idiots moon over each other, I’mma guess that’s a big ol’ ‘Yes!’. This last question’s the important one though. Question number three;” Bones leans forward with a sly look on his face. Jim leans in to hear what his friend is going to say and jumps back when the doctor reaches out and buffs him upside the head. “Why are ya still at my door?!”
Jim swears and shoots a look of mock betrayal at his supposed best friend, who simply sighs at him before grabbing at his shoulder with a gentle shake. “Seriously Jim. Go to your rooms and sleep – this will all look simpler in the morning. Doctor’s orders!”
And with that Bones briefly squeezes Jim’s shoulder and steps back into his room, the door shutting behind him. Jim stands and stares at the closed doors for a few moments before he turns and starts making his way to his quarters.
Maybe Bones was right, Jim thought as he rubbed his head where the doctor had gently slapped him (so much for ‘do no harm’!).
Maybe he was overreacting.
Yeah, Jim thought as he got ready for bed.
It’d all look simpler in the morning.
It didn’t look simpler in the morning.
If anything, Jim felt even more confused about what he was going to do. Spock had turned up for Alpha shift that morning looking much better rested, but he had studiously ignored Jim all morning, addressing any comments to his monitor. This was fine by Jim, who had spent the morning in his chair barely noticing the regular reports he received from the crew as they made their way towards the Drieht system. He really should have been focussing on the upcoming delivery mission, but it was a simple drop and go – nothing overly strenuous. It didn’t help that he was overly aware of Spock sitting to his right; every movement and sound the science officer made seemed to resonate in Jim’s head. It appeared that the rest of the crew could sense that the tension between the Captain and his first officer hadn’t abated, and there were a few subtly raised eyebrows across the room. Eventually Jim had cleared his throat pointedly at Sulu to put a stop to him and Chekov whispering indiscreetly at the front of the bridge – honestly, the two of them were worse than a pair of old ladies the way they nattered on!
Sulu had shrugged apologetically and Chekov had meekly turned back to his equations, a pink flush staining the young navigator’s cheeks. Jim sighed and mentally turned back to the questions that had been bugging him ever since Bones had asked them.
The first: did he like Spock? Well, obviously, he liked him – Spock was one of his best friends. But did that- could that translate to something more? Could Jim want Spock romantically? Sexually? And, perhaps more to the point – did Spock really feel that way about Jim, or was it all just some huge misunderstanding. Spock had been tired – maybe it really was a genuine mistake.
Jim didn’t know where to begin with figuring it all out. There was feeling there on his part, to be sure. Honestly, that was one of the reasons this was all so confusing. He didn’t often do the whole emotional connection thing; usually if he found someone attractive, he would make a move and – if successful – take them to bed for the night. Gaila had been the last person Jim had been with for anything more than a one-night stand, and though he had adored her, it had only ever been a bit of fun for him.
He wouldn’t be able to be like that with Spock; their friendship was too important to Jim for him to mess up. From what he knew of Spock, and of Vulcan relationships in general, they weren’t exactly down for the no-strings attached kind of fling he was used to. If Jim was going to try anything with Spock, it would have to be serious. He would have to be sure.
So; how would he figure this out? It’s not like he’d had many examples of happy, healthy relationships in his life to compare them with. His Mom had loved his Dad, Jim knew that – but she had all but fallen apart after his death. She could barely look at her own kid, and as he had grown older and started to look more and more like his late father, Winona had spent more and more time off planet. But then, maybe that wasn’t such a bad place to start – after all, if you loved someone that much, had so much of yourself invested into one person, was it really surprising that, if you lost them, you lost yourself a bit as well? According to Uhura, Spock had basically gone insane after Jim had died in the reactor chamber. The Vulcan had, to be blunt, beat the absolute shit out of Khan. That had to mean something. And, before that whole mess, when Spock had been trapped in the volcano…
Jim shuddered, remembering the sickening dread he had felt that day at the thought of losing Spock. He had known that day – and many days since – that he would do anything it took to keep the Vulcan by his side.
That had to mean something, too.
So, what about romance? Sex, even. Would Spock be interested in that kind of thing? Would Jim?
The Captain let his eyes wander over to his science officer and considered.
Spock was good looking – that was obvious at a glance. The Vulcan was tall, and lithe. His arms were powerful, and he had long, clever fingers. His hair – while completely ridiculous – was clean, and the dark strands looked soft. Spock’s ears tapered off sharply, the contrast between the lightly green flesh and black hair was nice to look at. Jim wondered if those ears were sensitive at all. His mouth was expressive, if you knew what you were looking for, and Jim realised bashfully that he did indeed know those lips quite well – if only from a distance. A swooping sensation rolled through his stomach at the thought of knowing them from closer up. How would they feel against his own lips? Warm? Dry? Would Spock be cautious in his kissing, or would he nip and bite until Jim’s lips were red with their kisses? Would the Vulcan whisper ‘Ashayam’ as they kissed? The Captain felt his breath hitch at the thought and gave himself a shake.
Kissing Spock was apparently something he could go in for; that was established, time to move on before things got awkward. Jim dragged his gaze away from his commander’s lips and up, taking note of the straight, Romanesque nose before moving onto the strangely human eyes. Spock’s irises were a deep brown, and his intelligence shone through as the Vulcan stared back at him-
As the Vulcan stared back at him.
Jim startled, realising he had been caught out. So much for not being awkward. He gave Spock an apologetic grin; the Vulcan raised an eyebrow and his lips twitched ever so slightly upwards, which the blond tended to count as a smile. His heart stumbled slightly in his chest and Jim almost groaned. Okay. Yeah. He found Spock attractive. Exactly how had he not noticed this? How long had this been the case? Was it this whole Ashayam thing that had sparked it off, or had it been there all along?
Bones was right – he really was an idiot.
“Keptin,” Chekov said with the slightly too patient tone that suggested he’d already tried and failed to get Jim’s attention. Jim reluctantly turned away from Spock and faced his navigator, realising that Spock hadn’t been the only one who had caught him gazing at the Vulcan. The entire bridge crew was staring at him, watching the interaction between their two commanding officers, and Jim threw up a practiced grin that said ‘Ignore what just happened, everything is fine’. His rather genius crew deciphered the signs, and turned back to their work as Jim answered the young Russian.
“Ve have arrived in ze Drieht systeem Sir.”
“Oh, right. How long until we reach the colony?”
Spock spoke up from his station, and Jim turned back to his science officer.
“Thirty-four minutes Captain.”
Jim nodded and stood up, stretching before wandering around to lean against the back of his chair – he forced himself to focus on something that wasn’t the way Spock’s eyes followed his movements, and instead turned his attention to the upcoming delivery.
“Uhura, can you please hail the colony when we are fifteen minutes out to establish contact. Sulu, you know the drill, arrange docking and do your thing.” Jim looked over at his first. “Spock, have we organised a drop team?”
The Vulcan met his eye for a moment before blinking and turning back to his station, apparently checking information that Jim was certain Spock had already memorised.
“Affirmative Captain, we have a team of five transporting the goods and Doctor Chapel will also be accompanying them to assist the colony’s medical personal sort through the supplies. Delivery and organisation should take at most four hours, Sir.”
“Alright then – this should be a fairly simple case of drop and go then.”
It was nice having such a competent crew. If only the rest of the galaxy was so obliging, Jim thought in exasperation as he sat back in his seat, watching with pride as his crew did their jobs effortlessly.
They had been docked at the colony for nearly twenty minutes and Jim was again gazing absently at his science officer as he thought. He was just considering handing the bridge over so he could go check on the transportation of the medical supplies when Spock stood abruptly and moved to stand at his shoulder.
“Captain, might I have a word?” Spock asked briskly and Jim felt his stomach jolt nervously. Stop it, he told himself firmly. He was being ridiculous; nothing had changed. It was still just Spock, regardless of Jim’s recent realisation.
“Of course Commander. My ready room? Sulu, you have the conn.”
The Vulcan stood and followed Jim off the bridge and down the hall to the Captain’s ready room. Jim surreptitiously wiped his suddenly clammy hands on the inside of his pockets before turning to meet Spock’s gaze.
“Yes, Mr Spock?”
“Captain, we have not yet received orders as to our mission following our business on the Sharleei Moon colony. If I may, Captain – I suggest that we use the downtime in order for the crew to refresh after the circumstances of last week. Sharleei is a federation friendly colony, with a variety of-”
Jim grinned, and leaned against the table as he cut off his XO midsentence.
“Wait, you think we should take some shore leave? You, Spock, want to suggest we take a break from work?”
Spock’s eyebrows twitched in what Jim recognised was the Vulcan refusing to let himself frown.
“Rest is an important factor in performance Captain, and I believe it only logical to take advantage of the situation at hand, while we have the opportunity. Humans in particular benefit from short breaks in schedule and-”
Jim almost couldn’t believe his ears, but Spock had a point. It’d be good to have a couple of days to rest up before the brass sent them back out into uncharted territory or off to the next civilisation in need of rescue.
“Alright, alright, I get it Spock. And honestly, it’s not a bad idea. I’ll put the request through and fingers crossed we’ll be granted a few days to chill out. You’re right; God knows we could use it.”
Spock nodded, his lips twitching into that non-smile he did when he was pleased.
Jim felt his eyes being caught by those lips again and after a few seconds jerked his gaze back up to meet Spock’s. The Vulcan was still standing in front of him, staring right back at his Captain, the brown eyes intense under the elegantly severe brows. The two of them were quiet, neither looking away. Jim could feel his heart thudding loudly in his chest, and was just about to break the silence when Spock blinked and looked away. Jim coughed, and tried to fill the silence.
“Well. I – I suppose we’d best get back to it. Make sure Sulu isn’t planning on stealing my ship.” he joked weakly, and moved to step past his officer.
“Captain,” Spock’s hand shot out and grasped his arm, and Jim, already on edge, jumped slightly at the contact.
Spock immediately removed his hand, stepping back and away from his Captain, his mouth turning down at the corners as he looked away. A pale green flush stained his cheeks.
“Sorry,” Jim said dumbly. “You- startled me, is all. What is it Spock?”
Once again the deep brown eyes were refusing to look at him, and the Vulcan was quiet for so long Jim didn’t think he was going to answer. He was just about to give up waiting when Spock finally spoke, addressing the table he was still staring at.
“Captain. You have not mentioned my… my error, yesterday morning. I wished to apologise; I meant no disrespect in not addressing you correctly.”
Jim felt his mouth go dry and he shrugged a shoulder.
“Nothing to apologise for Spock; it was a genuine mistake. Easy to slip back into your native tongue when you’re exhausted.”
The Vulcan nodded, though he didn’t look particularly satisfied by Jim’s response.
“I find myself surprised,” Spock continued, determinedly not meeting Jim’s eyes, “that you haven’t asked me for a translation. It seems out of character for you.”
The blond ignored his galloping heart and attempted to give his Commander a teasing grin.
“Are you calling me nosey, Spock?”
“I am simply trying to understand why the most curious human I am acquainted with would not ask for clarification upon being called a term he does not understand.”
The Vulcan turned to face his Captain and stepped forward into Jim’s space.
“It indicates the following possibilities. One; you no longer care what I have to say, regardless of language. While it is true you do act against my professional advice more often than I am comfortable with, you do not often ignore it completely and this does not mean you find no value in that guidance, or that you do not enjoy our other conversations. This first possibility seems unlikely to me; which brings us to number two.”
Spock paused, seeming to brace himself as he stared his Captain down, his hands clasped firmly behind his back. “You have not asked for a translation because, inquisitive as you are, you have already found one.”
Jim felt the breath leave him and he opened his mouth to speak, but Spock cut over him, turning and stiffly walking the length of the room as he continued talking.
“Based on my calculations and your reaction, the latter is almost certainly the case. Thus, I must ask myself: why have you not addressed my error? Again, a number of reasons present themselves. One: you are aware of the implications of the term ‘Ashayam’ and are uncomfortable with being addressed as such; you decided to ignore the occurrence and hope it does not repeat. This scenario is unlikely; you do not turn away when uncomfortable. The Captain I serve faces trouble head on.”
The Vulcan turns back and stares Jim down as he continues to talk; all Jim can do is stand and let Spock’s increasingly rapid reasoning wash over him.
“The second reason is more likely: you are aware of the translation, but are not bothered at all. You are an attractive human male, and it is no secret that you are sexually active – proficient, even, if various rumours are to be believed. It is statistically likely that you would have experience in being desired by someone who you yourself did not desire in return; whether because they were male, or alien, or-”
“Hey!” Jim finally found his voice, pointing a stern finger at Spock. “If you know me at all Spock, then you know that I am not fussy about who I take to bed. No- no, wait,” the Captain continued at Spock’s sardonically raised eyebrow. “I just mean; male, female, alien, humanoid. So long as there’s attraction and consent there, I’m not exactly fussed about the rest.”
Spock paused, before nodding and stepping forward so he was once again in front of Jim, who had shifted to sit fully on the table as he watched his friend pace.
“There are two more reasons that appear most likely. The third, Captain, is that you did not wish to make me uncomfortable. As I am Vulcan, this is not applicable- I do not become uncomfortable.”
Jim’s breath hitched as Spock continued to move towards him, and he couldn’t stop himself pointing out “Spock, you practically ran from the bridge yesterday. You blushed. Your ears were green.”
“But I was not uncomfortable, Captain. I was- embarrassed. By my blunder. By my lack of control. But what I called you- what it implies. That does not make me uncomfortable, Jim.”
And Spock was right there, right in front of him. Jim had to look up slightly to meet his gaze from his spot seated on the table. The Vulcan’s eyes flickered over Jim’s face, and seemed to find something there that encouraged him to finish. He took a swift breath; in, and out, before continuing.
“The fourth reason. You learned the translation. You know what I called you, and you like it.” Spock moved forward one last time, coming to stand almost between Jim’s legs where he sat on the table. The Vulcan’s hands stirred as though to grab hold of his Captain, but stopped, hovering slightly just above the blond’s hips.
“Jim,” Spock said quietly, his usually smooth voice rough. “You’ve been staring.”
“Fuck, Spock,” Jim whispered and the Vulcan collapsed forward as though he were a puppet with his strings cut, his hands falling to brace either side of Jim.
“Am I not right?” Spock murmured, his breath skittering along the shell of Jim’s ear. “You were staring, Jim. All shift, your eyes have been on me. I could feel them.”
Jim gulped in a breath, and nodded.
“Yeah. I- I hadn’t realised. I’m an idiot. But yeah, Spock. You’re right.”
One of Spock’s hands came up to cup Jim’s face and there was a rush of emotion that Jim didn’t think was his own, though it mirrored the terrifyingly intense swell of feeling in chest all the same. The hand on his cheek pulled his head up so that their lips could meet. Something in the Vulcan resonated ‘finally’ and Jim moaned quietly as an ever so slightly rough tongue met his own, Spock pulling him forward until they were flush – Jim found himself wrapping his legs around Spock’s waist and they broke the kiss with a gasp.
“Shit,” Jim breathed heavily, and Spock smirked lightly before leaning down to taste his Captain’s lips once more – one of his hands had moved into Jim’s hair and was pulling ever so slightly, and the other had moved up the side of Jim’s thigh, was sliding under his arse and Jim just had a moment to think, ‘oh hell no, Spock was not going to-‘ before he was being lifted, Spock carrying Jim easily with one lone hand under Jim’s arse as he turned and walked them across the room.
“Spock,” Jim said, part outrage, part incredulous delight at Spock's daring, “you’re fucking kidding me, do I look like a goddamn damsel to you, shit you’re strong, that shouldn’t be so hot.”
Spock only pressed Jim against the wall next to the door, the blonde’s legs still wrapped around the Vulcan’s waist, and bent his mouth to his Captain’s neck where he nipped and kissed his down to Jim’s collarbone. Jim felt himself arching into the contact, which only pressed his hardening cock against Spock’s body, and he couldn’t help but circle his hips a bit, desperate for more contact. Spock moaned against Jim’s neck at the sensation, grinding back up against the blonde, and shit, Spock was grinding against him, when had this become his life?!
Jim was feeling a bit light headed. This was insane – not only what they were doing, because oh God, this didn’t happen to him, he didn’t get overwhelmed like this, but Spock was just everywhere, a hand on his arse and in his hair and teeth and lips against his again now, biting and so, so good as they moved against each other and Jim felt himself give an honest to god whimper, what the actual shit.
When they were interrupted by the door sliding open, it was almost a relief. Or, perhaps it would have been, if Spock had jumped away from Jim like anyone else would have done.
As it was, Bones walked in and stopped short at the sight of his Captain, no doubt looking thoroughly ravaged, with his First Officer standing between his legs. Spock and Jim turned to look at the Doctor, Spock still holding Jim up against the wall with a hand that wouldn’t stop squeezing his arse, dammit Spock!
McCoy turned a worrying shade of red, turned around and immediately left the room, shouting back over his shoulder “for fucks sake go back to your quarters, or at least learn to lock the bloody door!”
Jim hid his grinning face in Spock’s shoulder, and the Vulcan looked down at his Captain and, unable to see his expression, ran a hesitant hand through the blond’s hair. His tentative movement was in complete contrast with their actions just a few moments ago, and Jim pressed a gentle kiss to Spock’s neck as the Vulcan slowly lowered him back to a standing position.
“Jim. Are you... well?” Spock’s cheeks were flushed a pretty shade of green, and his expression was cautiously fond. Jim nodded with a slightly bashful grin; his lips felt bruised and arousal still thrummed sweet and heavy in his bloodstream. His stomach swooped pleasantly as he looked up at his second in command.
“Yeah. Yeah, actually, I’m pretty damn great. You?”
Spock’s eyes softened and he nodded.
“I am… very well, Jim. But Doctor McCoy is correct. I- we perhaps should wait to continue this… discussion, in a more comfortable environment. Perhaps my rooms after dinner?”
The Vulcan’s eyes were dark, and Jim felt a frisson of nervous excitement run up his spine as he agreed.
“Sounds good to me. I think we’ve got a few things to.. discuss.”
“Excellent. I shall see you later then,” Spock says quietly before reaches forward and lets the forefingers of his right hand drag along Jim’s. The blond’s breath hitches: from the glint in Spock’s eye the Vulcan knows that this, at least, won’t be lost in translation.
To be honest, Jim wasn’t a morning person on the best of days, and waking up to Spock curled up warm and naked against his back isn’t exactly making him want to get up and get ready for Alpha shift. But they’ve had four days of shore leave, four wonderful days to get used to this while the rest of the crew enjoy some well-earned rest, and now it’s time to get back to work. Spock won’t join him on the bridge until after he inspects Lab C, which had a slight incident involving one of the biology ensigns and an expensive piece of equipment, so Jim kisses Spock ‘good morning’ and then again ‘see you later’ before slipping out of bed and into the bathroom to prepare for the day.
It’s just over half an hour later the young Captain is taking his seat on the bridge. Sulu is drinking his coffee, and Uhura is delicately covering a yawn as she checks something on her screen. Chekov is mapping their course to watch a star in the Plsaik system die – Jim has just finished his write up of the shore leave (very quiet, for a change) when the doors open and Spock enters the room.
Jim looks up at his gorgeous – whatever Spock is to him, they haven’t had that talk yet, it’s too big too soon to put a name to but a voice in Jim’s head says ‘t’hy’la’ and he doesn’t quite know what that means but it feels like ‘forever’ and ‘mine’ – but enough of that, the point is that Jim looks up at Spock as he crosses the room and without thinking the blond says, “hey sweetheart.”
The room goes deadly quiet, and Jim thinks (perhaps uncharitably) that his crew would get probably whiplash if they all kept turning around to look at him so dramatically.
Spock has frozen next to Jim on his way to his station, but after only a moment he relaxes, and his lips quirk in that special not-smile that seems to be reserved for his Captain alone.
“Good morning, Ashayam,” Spock murmurs quietly, though in the silence the whole bridge crew hears him perfectly.
There’s a curse from the front of the ship, and everyone turns to see Sulu despondently transferring some credits over to Chekov’s account.
“How the hell did you know the Captain and the Commander were together,” Sulu is bemoaning, and Chekov grins happily.
“Some theengs are more than vords, Hikaru. Some theengs do not need a translation.”
Jim quirks an eyebrow and turns to glance back at his First Officer, who is looking back at him with such open affection that Jim feels the ridiculous muscle in his chest skip a beat and he thinks; yeah, okay. Chekov might be onto something.
Some things truly are beyond words.