When James Kirk was a toddler, his mother, Winona Kirk, remarried to a Terran male named, Frank. But Frank hadn’t lasted long for he was physically abusive and one day, Winona caught him beating George Samuel, Jim’s older brother. They divorced and while Jim was staying with another relative, George Samuel—Sam—to Jim…left. No one knew where he went as Sam wouldn’t say.
Then one day, when Jim was ten, Winona arrived to announce she would be marrying again, this time to a Vulcan called Salok. Salok had two daughters, T’Pring, and T’Dar. Winona explained that Salok’s daughters were quite beautiful and would be Jim’s older stepsisters. His mother never explained how she met Salok, Jim just imagined it had been during her scientific work.
He hadn’t been particularly happy about having sisters, but Jim put on a brave face and went with his mother to the planet, Vulcan, where Salok and his daughters lived.
Their house was located in a province of Vulcan that was by Lake Yuron. Ten year old Jim had been excited to find a lake there because he had believed it was nothing but desert. As his mother and he arrived at the house, Salok waited for them just outside the front door. Next to him were two Vulcan females slightly older than Jim. One had very short hair, especially in the back, and the other had longer hair that had been dressed into braids and twisted to her head.
Salok was older than his mother by quite a bit, Jim imagined, though she hadn’t said, and he didn’t dare ask. He was very thin with graying hair and a pointed nose. He looked very severe as he gazed down upon Jim.
“This is my son, James Tiberius,” his mother said, gently prodding him forward. “This is my husband to be, Salok.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Salok,” Jim said in a small voice.
“You will address me as Sir at all times,” the Vulcan replied imperiously.
Jim stared at him. “Um. Okay.”
Salok arched a brow.
“Jim,” his mother admonished.
“These are my daughters, T’Pring,” and here he gestured to the one with braids, “and T’Dar.”
T’Dar murmured, “James Tiberius.”
T’Pring merely stared down her nose at him.
Jim was given a very small room in the back of the house that was very warm and had no windows. It had only enough room for a small uncomfortable cot. Salok had assured Jim’s mother that the accommodations for Jim were only “temporary” and eventually he would be given a larger room when it was ready.
Once his mother married Salok, she stayed on Vulcan for only a very short time before she had to leave to join her science vessel. Jim was left to live with Salok and his daughters.
As time passed, Jim’s “temporary” room became permanent. Salok never explained and Jim never felt as though he could ask.
Once his mother was gone, Salok and his daughters ceased to pretend any acceptance of Jim whatsoever. He was made to do all the household chores, rising every day before anyone else, and staying up late into the night to get everything done. T’Pring and T’Dar barely spoke to him and Salok usually only spoke to him to give him another order.
Jim was like a slave there, in his own home, though he never truly felt like it was his home at all. He found himself longing for Riverside, something he never thought he would do.
His mother contacted the sporadically, mostly she contacted Salok, who would tell Jim that his mother asked about him and Salok advised that Jim was fine.
Jim was not fine.
But this-this was his life.
For seven years.
Seven years later
Jim looked up from the book he was reading with a frown. He thought about ignoring it. He’d just gotten settled in, finally finished with his chores.
Jim looked at the Sehlat at his feet. She belonged to the family but she didn’t really like anyone but Jim. A source of extreme irritation for his stepsisters who were constantly telling their father they should get rid of her.
“I suppose I can’t just ignore her, can I, Lulu?”
That was another thing that annoyed his stepfamily. Jim’s insistence on calling the sehlat, Lulu. And now she would answer to nothing else.
Lulu’s tail sort of thumped in answer.
“James Tiberius!” Louder still.
Jim sighed and set the book down, sliding off his cot and reaching for the shirt he had discarded earlier. He pulled it on and went out the door of his room and down the hall to her room.
T’Pring had a much larger room than Jim did with a large bed big enough for probably three people, a dresser, end tables, and a walk-in closet. Oh, and a work desk and with a computer terminal as well.
She lay on her bed on her stomach and she stared imperiously at him.
“Didn’t you hear me calling you?”
“I must have since here I am.”
“Are you speaking back to me, James Tiberius?”
She straightened up and leaned back against the headboard of her bed, legs straight. “My feet need massaging. See to it.”
Jim barely kept the grimace off his face. If he showed such an emotion he would only regret t later. T’Pring would see to it.
He pulled up the little stool he was made to sit on while attending to her feet and sat, reaching for her right foot first.
“Where are your oils?” she asked. “I want my feet to smell nice.”
Jim bit back a sigh and returned to his room for his essential oils. When he returned, her eyebrow shot up again.
“You took your time.”
“Sorry,” he mumbled, and retook his seat on the stool. “Which scent did you want?”
He opened the bottle and poured a little of the oil into the palm of his hand and then reached for her right foot. He began to rub the oil in. T’Pring closed her eyes and leaned back.
There was something kind of weirdly sensual about this act which Jim pretended there wasn’t. But more and more T’Pring demanded it of him and for longer periods.
T’Dar suddenly appeared in the doorway.
“There you are, James Tiberius. I went to your room and all that was there was that useless sehlat.” T’Dar folded her arms in front of her. “She growled at me.”
“She doesn’t like you,” Jim replied.
“Because you turned her against me. You are a terrible boy.” T’Dar came fully into the room and plopped down on her sister’s bed.
“What did you want?”
“I wished for you to make me tea.”
“The tea is in the kitchen,” he told her.
“I am certainly not going to make it myself. That is what you are for.” She stared at him massaging T’Pring’s feet. “How long is it going to take?”
He shrugged a little. “I just started.”
“Make my tea.”
Jim stopped his massaging. “Okay.”
T’Pring’s eyes flew open. “You are not finished.”
Jim stood. “I’ll be back. I’m making T’Dar’s tea.”
“Do not take long.”
Jim left the room and crossed the entire house to where the kitchen was. He had to past Salok’s study on the way. Salok sat behind his desk and looked up when Jim was passing by.
“I hope you are seeing to the needs of my daughters.”
“I will be going away for a few days to ShiKahr. I have been summoned there by our monarch, King Sarek.”
“When do you leave, sir?”
“Tomorrow. You will see that all your chores continue to be completed as well as seeing to whatever it is my daughters require while I am gone.”
Jim nodded. “Yes, sir.”
Salok dismissed him with a wave of his hand and Jim continued on to the kitchen. There he made T’Dar’s tea and also picked up some sweet bread he knew she would likely demand anyway.
“You took a long time,” T’Dar said with a sniff as he handed her the tea and sweet bread.
“Your father stopped me to advise he would be going to ShiKahr tomorrow.”
Jim resumed his seat on the stool and reached for T’Pring’s foot.
“ShiKahr?” T’Pring repeated. “Will he see Prince Spock while there?”
Jim was aware that just about everyone had something of a crush on the royal prince of Vulcan, his stepsisters included. Jim couldn’t deny the prince made his pulse race as well, though he would not admit it to them.
“Perhaps. He mentioned seeing King Sarek.”
“I wish he would take me with him,” T’Dar said somewhat wistfully.
“You?” T’Pring rolled her eyes. “I am the elder. If anyone is going to be presented to Prince Spock it will be me.”
They continued to argue between themselves and Jim zoned out, wondering when he was going to get to go back to his room and his book.
The Royal Prince Spock was bored. He had just completed an experiment that went exactly as he expected it would. This should offer him some comfort but he found it more frustrating than satisfying.
He stood up from his desk and I-Chaya, his sehlat, stretched beside him.
“There is no need for you to disturb yourself,” Spock told the animal. “I am going to the kitchens for some refreshments.”
I-Chaya laid back down and closed his eyes.
Spock left his suite of rooms and acknowledged the greetings of palace guards as he passed by, his boots clicking on the tile floor as he headed for the kitchen.
He pushed open the swinging door and immediately the chatter of the servants ceased and they turned as one toward him.
“Your Royal Highness.” The head of the kitchen staff, Arev, hurried forward.
“Good afternoon. I am here to get tea,” Spock said.
“You should never come to the kitchens, Your highness,” Arev replied, appearing to be vaguely scandalized.
“Except that I desire tea.”
“You must summon one of us to bring it to you. The kitchens are not the place for Royalty. Please return to your suite and tea will be brought to you,” Arev informed him. “Would you like something to break your fast to go with it?”
Spock left the kitchens and headed back toward his suite, but has passed one particular chamber, he heard the sound of his parents arguing. Since they never argued, Spock became curious and approached the open door.
“This would not have happened had we bonded Spock to another when he was a child,” King Sarek told his wife, Queen Amanda.
“We agreed that it was not the path for him and that he would be allowed to choose his own bondmate.”
“Yes, but he has not done so. He has not even indicated that he will begin to consider it any time in the near future.”
“He is still young, Sarek. There is plenty of time.”
“He will need to be mated when his time comes, Wife.”
His mother sighed heavily and dramatically. An emotional display his Vulcan father would never employ, but his mother was human.
“What do you propose?” she asked.
“Yes. A formal ball where all my subjects attend and are on display for Spock. There will be dancing and entertainment. A feast. Perhaps the ball can be more a festival. Yes. A festival. For three days.”
“Hmm.” His mother sounded intrigued. “A three day festival. That does sound like it could be most fun.”
“And Spock will no doubt find a suitable Vulcan woman he will approve to be his mate.”
“Yes,” his mother agreed. “At the end of the festival, surely someone will have won the prize of Spock’s heart.”
“As long as he finds someone he compatible with, the state of his heart is not my concern. You are far too emotional.”
Spock stepped away from the doorway and continued onto his suite of rooms.
Already a pot of tea waited for him on a small table in the antechamber.
I-Chaya came out from the other room and gazed at him.
“I am, it would seem, to become a piece of meat to be displayed for all interested parties.”
I-Chaya made a sort of growly sigh.
Spock nodded. “Yes, my sentiments exactly.”
Jim stood in front of the house, facing Salok while he got ready to leave for ShiKahr. T’Pring and T’Dar were also outside waiting to bid goodbye to their father. T’Pring wore a large hat made out of straw to shade her face from the heat whereas T’Dar’s short hair was covered by an elaborate green and blue scarf.
“I will be gone for two days,” Salok informed him. “Make sure that all your chores are done.”
He glanced at his daughters. “I will know if they are not.”
Jim nearly said his chores were always done and there was no need to remind him, but he had no doubt Salok would find this response insolent. He’d find some particularly unpleasant task for Jim to do as punishment.
“And scrub and polish the floor in the main room all the way to the stairs,” Salok said. “I can no longer see my reflection in it.”
Jim bit back a groan. “Yes, sir.”
Salok looked like he wanted to find more for Jim to do, but finally he turned toward his daughters. “I will come back with presents.”
They both brightened considerably at this, though T’Pring tried to hide her excitement more than T’Dar did.
“Father, is it true you will be seeing King Sarek?” T’Dar stepped forward to ask.
She glanced at her sister. “And the prince?”
Salok shrugged slightly. “It is quite possible. Perhaps on my next visit, you may come with me.”
They both nodded rapidly and Jim barely refrained from rolling his eyes. As if Prince Spock would want either one of them. They were pretty enough but they were incredibly vain and unkind. Jim couldn’t imagine the prince would want them.
Salok got into the hover craft where his driver waited and they soon left, headed toward the main city.
“I want the oatmeal you make that comes from Earth.”
Jim shook his head. “We ran out of oatmeal.”
T’Pring crossed her arms. “Then go and get some. Did you not purchase it in the store near the Asuvuh Mall?”
“Yes, but that’s clear across the lake and will take at least a couple of hours to go there and back.”
“And?” she asked with her eyebrow raised.
“I have chores. Including the floor in the main room to clean.”
“Then I suppose you had better leave now as you have a long day ahead of you,” T’Dar said imperiously. “And take that awful Sehlat with you. No one wants to deal with her.”
“But-but she can’t ride the transport and it’ll take even longer!”
“Quit whining, James. It’s unbecoming,” T’Pring said. “You have your orders. Now see to it. We are hungry and it is ridiculous that we will have to wait.”
“Yes, you should have purchased an additional supply of the oatmeal before we ran out,” T’Dar put in.
Jim went into the house after his stepsisters. He went to his room where he grabbed his hooded cloak which he would use to block the more severe rays of the sun. Lulu stared up at him from where she lay on his bedroom floor.
“Come on, girl, looks like we have a long trek ahead of us.”
Her ears flattened back.
“I know. I’m not thrilled about it either. But it is what it is. Come on.”
Even though he knew he’d likely be turned away, Jim stepped up to the platform for the transport train with Lulu in tow.
A very large and muscular Vulcan stared at Jim blankly. “Just what do you think you are doing, Human?”
“Riding the train.”
He flicked his thumb in the direction of the sign behind him. “No Sehlats. Do you not know how to read, boy?”
“She’s well-behaved,” Jim insisted. He knew the animals were banned from the train after an incident three years before where two sehlats had fought in the middle of the aisle, injuring passengers.
“That is what they all say. Out you go.”
With a sigh, Jim turned with Lulu and stepped down from the platform.
“Damn it’s hot,” he said to the Sehlat. Lulu had no answer.
He made it for half an hour without stopping, but then his breathing was labored and he could not continue without resting. He perched himself on a wall ledge that was under about as much shade as one could get in the area. Lulu curled up under his feet.
Jim glanced around, trying to recognize the place, and when he realized where he had stopped, he smiled.
“The doctor lives just over there, Lu.”
Lulu thumped her tail.
“Hey Doc! Doc!” Jim called.
At first there was no response. But after Jim yelled out a few more times, the door of a nearby dwelling opened and a grumpy human ten years or so older than Jim came out.
“Whaddya want kid?”
“Just to say hi. Going to Caspar’s Shop down by the mall today.”
“Hmm. Your skin looks too flushed. Be right back.”
Jim smiled down at Lulu as the doctor disappeared into his house. He returned a minute later holding his medical bag.
“Too hot to be out on a day like this,” he grumbled as he neared Jim. He took out a hypospray and the smile slipped from Jim’s face.
“You want to breathe or what?”
Jim grimaced as the hypospray was jabbed into his neck. “Ouch. Not so rough, Bones.”
“You and that dumb nickname,” Bones grumbled. “What are you off to Caspar’s for?”
“The girls want oatmeal.”
“The pampered princesses you mean.”
Jim snorted. “They wish. They’re dying to be the prince’s bride.”
Bones smirked as he put away his hypospray. “They may yet get their chance.”
“Rumor has it that the King and Queen are going to throw some kind of festival. And the prize at the end is their son.”
Jim laughed. “What?”
“It’s supposed to be a way to find him the lady of his dreams.” Bones shrugged. “Or so I hear. Don’t look at me. I don’t want to be his bride.”
Jim laughed again. “Well, I don’t know about being his bride. But he is cute.”
“Forget it, kid. Princes of Vulcan don’t choose lowly types like you.”
“I know. But I can dream, anyway?” He sighed. “I’d better get going. I still have a ton of chores to do, not to mention make the oatmeal once I get home.”
“Good luck. And take that beast with you. She’s growling at me.”
Jim glanced at Lulu who was eyeing Bones quite suspiciously. “She’s harmless.”
“In a pig’s eye. Go on. And if you have trouble on the way back, stop here again.”
“Thanks, Bones. I owe you.”
“You always owe me.”
“Put it on the account of Salok, please,” Jim told the shopkeeper as he rang up two containers of imported oatmeal. Jim glanced toward the window to see what Lulu was up to. He’d had to leave her outside. Coming through the door was a tall Vulcan wearing a similar hood to Jim’s only made of obviously much finer fabric. He pulled a sehlat in with him.
Jim frowned. “How come he gets to bring his in here and mine has to stay outside?”
Caspar, the human shopkeeper, glared at Jim, before looking past him to the Vulcan and sehlat. “No sehlats in here!”
The Vulcan lowered his hood, raising a brow.
“Oh. Um. Of course. Of course you can bring him in. My apologies,” Caspar stammered. He thrust Jim’s package at him. “Here you go, boy. Be on your way.”
Jim rolled his eyes and left the register, which brought him closer to the tall Vulcan and sehlat. And that was when he realized.
“S-sorry,” he stammered, giving Prince Spock a wide berth. “Don’t mean to be in your way.”
The prince spared him a brief glance before moving aside out of the doorway. “You are not. Have a good day.”
“Thanks,” Jim stammered, feeling as though he was surely blushing. Just as he reached the exit, Lulu came charging in. “No! Lu!”
But Lulu headed straight for the prince and his sehlat. Jim grabbed for her, and lost his footing, falling to his knees.
Prince Spock reached down and pulled him to his feet easily and all Jim could think about was how cool it was that Vulcans were so strong. And so…hot.
When the prince arched a brow, Jim realized he was staring. He blushed more. “Sorry. Um. Sorry. My sehlat—”
“Appears to be enamored of mine. Yours is a female, yes?”
Jim swallowed “Yeah. I mean, yes, your-your highness.”
“She may be getting ready to go into heat,” Prince Spock said matter-of-factly. “I recommend you isolate her unless you wish to have younglings.”
Jim nodded frantically. “Yes. Yes. I’ll do that. Yes. Thank you.” He tugged at Lulu’s leash. “Come on, Lu.”
Finally, he got the lovesick sehlat away from Prince Spock’s sehlat, who had seemed only mildly curious about Lulu. He escaped the shop, his heart beating fast in his chest.
“Holy crap, Lu,” Jim whispered. “God, he’s so cute.”
He patted her head.
“We’d better go. I have so much work still to do.”
Jim hurried away, pulling Lulu with him, but at the end of street, he looked back towards the shop and noticed the prince standing in the doorway, gazing back at him.
Jim was out of breath as he ran into the front room of the house having ran the last several miles. “I’m back,” he called out.
After a minute or two, T’Dar emerged. Her arms were crossed in front of her chest. “Where have you been, James?”
“I went to get the oatmeal you demanded.”
She arched her brow. “Do watch your tone. You are becoming downright surly with me. You wouldn’t want me to tell Father, would you?”
“No, Mistress T’Dar.” Jim jiggled his package. “Shall I go make the oatmeal?”
“You took so long to get it I no longer want it.” T’Dar sniffed.
“What? I went all that way and—”
“Nothing,” he mumbled.
“Your chores are waiting, James. Including this front room floor as I recall. You are getting such a late start, I do wonder if you will get any sleep at all.” She pointed at Lulu. “And get that horrible beast away from me. She smells.”
Jim watched T’Dar go back through the doorway from where she came. “Lulu isn’t the only one.” He glanced down at the sehlat whose hair stood on end. There was a low growl emanating from her. “Stop. You’ll only get us both in trouble. Don’t forget she could get you thrown out and maybe thrown in a sehlat fur factory.”
Lulu whined and laid down on the floor, giant paws covering her face in fright.
He sighed. “That won’t happen, Lu. But you can’t antagonize T’Dar. She hates you.” He bent down and scratched behind Lulu’s ears. Then he sunk down beside her. “The prince was really something, huh?”
He leaned his head against her side. “Even better in person than in the pictures and vids I’ve seen. I don’t know, Lulu, do you think someone like that could ever like someone like me?”
Lulu thumped the nub of her tail.
“Yeah? I don’t know. He’s so…suave.” She made a noise. “It means smooth, polished, sophisticated. Basically everything I’m not.” Jim snorted. “Really? Who am I kidding? Why would the prince be interested in a nobody like me? No one wants me. Hell, even my mom abandoned me on this planet to be little more than a servant for people who hate me.” Jim straightened. “And I’ve got a ton of work to do. I’d better get busy.”
“Captain Pike, it is good to see you again.” Spock brought his tea to the small table big enough for only two. He tied I-Chaya up next to the table.
Christopher Pike, a member of the Federation military force, Starfleet, had already seated himself and held what Spock believed to be an iced Kalarian tea. “Your highness. Thank you for agreeing to see me on such short notice. I wouldn’t have bothered you but I couldn’t get an audience with the King.”
“My father rarely meets with members of the Federation, Captain. It is not personal.”
“Isn’t it?” Pike smiled. “Isn’t he afraid I’ll try to talk Vulcan into joining the planets of the Federation?”
“Afraid?” Spock shook his head. “I do not believe it is logical to fear the Federation.”
“A figure of speech, Spock. And in truth, that’s exactly why I’m here. To make my yearly visit to plead our case.”
Spock took a sip of his tea. “You have made the trek in vain.”
Pike shrugged. “Likely. But I like to visit the planet and my superiors do insist I at least make an effort.”
“If your purpose was to persuade me to influence my father, you have failed. He rarely listens to me and I am not certain joining the Federation is the way for Vulcan to go either.”
“At least I can tell the president I tried.” Pike drank for him cup. “What is this I hear about a festival?”
Spock frowned minutely. “Is it getting around already?”
Pike chuckled. “Definitely. And not just on Vulcan. I just came from Rigel 4 and the shops were filled with those shopping for festival attire. So, you are to seek a consort, eh?”
“I do not want a consort.”
“No?” Pike leaned back, rubbing his chin. “I’ve heard about a Vulcan’s time. Aren’t you—”
“We do not speak about such things with outliers,” Spock said sharply.
Pike held up his hands. “I apologize. I just thought, if what I hear is true, won’t you need a consort at some point?”
Spock glanced away toward the other patrons of the shop. “I am only half Vulcan. There is a chance I will never be faced with the dilemma.”
“But there’s an equal chance you will.”
“Yes,” Spock admitted.
“I suppose your parents mean well.”
Spock eyed Pike. “Do they? Have you ever been held up as the prize to win?”
“No,” Pike replied. “But to be fair, I’m not a highly eligible royal prince. I’m a simple military man married to a fellow officer. She sends her best by the way. She couldn’t make it this time.”
“Understandable. Will you be staying for the festival?”
Pike grinned. “Wouldn’t miss it.”
“Your majesty, are you quite certain this festival is even required?” Salok asked, as he tore into a hunk of Kreyla.
Sarek raised his eyebrow. “Specify.”
Salok warmed to his topic as he joined the king for a midday meal. “I have two extraordinary daughters, T’Pring and T’Dar, either of who would make an excellent consort for Prince Spock.”
“I see,” Sarek said with a nod.
“They have many qualifications as I can certainly share with you. I believe the Prince would be well satisfied without the need for pomp and circumstance.”
Sarek reached for a bowl of Saffir. “Perhaps, however, my wife, Queen Amanda, is quite looking forward to the festival.”
“Well, certainly it should go forward then, but perhaps we can merely announce that a match has been made and the festival can be a celebration of that.”
“The invitations have already gone out to other planets, Salok. It has been made quite clear that the festival is to choose a mate for the prince.”
Salok barely refrained from a show of frustration. “Then others besides Vulcans will be considered?”
“Affirmative,” Sarek replied. “As well as both females and males.”
“I do not understand.”
“Our son has expressed a prior interest in both, therefore, we thought it wise to allow him a variety of choices. Since my own wife is Human, it hardly seemed logical to only include Vulcans.”
Salok was horrified but he could hardly show it to the king. “This is most unusual.”
“If you must allow the prince a choice of male and female consorts that is one thing and so be it, but surely we do not wish to further dilute the royal family with non-Vulcan biology?”
Sarek merely shrugged. “The choice will be Spock’s. Whomever he chooses, will be his consort. If one of your daughters is his choice, I will be pleased to welcome your family to ours.”
“Very well, Your Majesty. Perhaps I could show you pictorial representations of my daughters?”
Sarek nodded. “If you desire. But it will provide no influence as I am not the one who is to choose.”
“I understand,” Salok murmured. Somehow, one of his daughters would be the prince’s consort. Salok would make certain.
Jim climbed to the top of the tree, ignoring the whines of Lulu below, and looked out at Lake Yuron from the upper most branch. Well, the one that could handle his weight anyway. He was half tempted to sleep there tonight, safe from the demands of his stepsisters, but somehow, Jim suspected, they’d manage to find him and make his life hell. Since Salok had left a couple of days before, they’d made him their constant slave, really. He’d had to give T’Pring massages and paint T’Dar’s toes. All the while cooking, cleaning, and doing his chores.
He looked up at the sky. “To think I once dreamed I’d be up there. Stupid.”
Who he was talking to, Jim didn’t know.
“Now I’m stuck on this rock, servant to two spoiled brats and their bastard father. I’ll probably die a virgin, too.”
Jim looked down at Lulu who gazed mournfully at him. Really his only true friend was a sehlat. And he thought he had a chance with a prince?
He heard the approach of a hover car. Jim squinted with his hand over his eyes. “Great. Stepdaddy’s back.” He hooked his leg to the trunk and shimmied his way down.
Salok was standing in the hallway talking with his daughters when Jim entered the house.
“Where have you been” Salok demanded.
Salok barely contained his sneer. “Take my bags to my room.”
“Yes, sir.” Jim reached down and picked up Salok’s bag and started carrying them away.
“Now, as I was saying, the festival will be a three day event.”
Jim stopped, put the bags down, and turned to face them. “A festival? There’s going to be a festival.”
Salok raised his brow. “Indeed. King Sarek and Queen Amanda are having a three-day festival.” He focused his gaze on T’Dar and T’Pring. “At night, on each of the three days, there will be grand balls with dancing with ample opportunities to dance with Prince Spock. During the day, there will be tournaments and shopping booths.”
He said this last part with no little disdain.
“I look forward to the balls,” T’Dar said. “But what is the point of the rest? Will the prince attend those events?”
“I do not know.” Salok sniffed. “That was all the doing of the queen.”
Jim folded his arms across his chest. “Why do you say it like that?”
“Because, James, she’s one of your kind.”
Jim didn’t wince at the distaste, but he did say, “So is your wife, if you’ve forgotten.”
“Of course I have not. She’s the reason I must put up with you. Now, as I was saying, you’ll need gowns for the balls, of course. And I believe we should stay in ShiKahr for all three days. I will make the arrangements.”
T’Pring nodded. “Yes, that is wise.” She turned her gaze to Jim. “First thing in the morning you will accompany us shopping so that we may have gowns purchased and altered for us.”
“And we will need shoes dyed to match our gowns. And accessories,” T’Dar said.
Salok looked satisfied. “Yes, all of that. Spare no expense. If one of you is to marry the prince—”
“Marry the prince?” Jim asked.
Salok sighed. “Yes, James. The purpose of the festival is to find a suitable mate for Prince Spock. The King and Queen are tired of waiting for the prince to choose one voluntarily. So everyone on Vulcan is to attend so that Prince Spock may choose.”
Jim looked down at Lulu who lay down at his feet, looking rather impatient. “That means I need to find something to wear too.”
Salok, T’Dar, and T’Pring all turned as one to stare at Jim. So hard, in fact, that he felt himself flushing red.
“Whatever do you mean” Salok asked after a heavy pause.
“You said everyone on Vulcan,” Jim pointed out.
“I meant everyone of importance, James. Certainly not you. How absurd. What would the Prince of Vulcan want with a snively little servant boy like you?” They turned their backs on him then and began to walk into another area of the house, all the while making their plans for the festival.
Jim left Salok’s bags in the hallway and headed for his own room, Lulu on his heels. When he got there, he lifted his thin lumpy mattress and pulled out the pouch he kept there. He sat down and poured out the pouch, counting his coins.
“Let’s see. Tomorrow when we’re shopping, if I can just sneak away for a short time, I can get something to wear.” He finished counting. “Um. Second hand.” He bit his lip. “Third hand.”
Lulu wagged her tail.
“It’s better than nothing, right? To get to see Prince Spock, again? He’s so hot.”
“James! My bags!”
Jim grimaced. “His bags.” He huffed out a breath and went back to get Salok’s bags.
“Over here, James!”
“Hold this for me, James.”
“Hold this. Carry this. Stand in line for this. Go ask the shopkeeper.”
All day long. Constantly. From all three of them.
By the time they made it back to the house, Jim’s head was spinning and his arms were hurting from the heavy bundles he carried of their purchases.
Then he was made to pack everything for them. They would leave for ShiKahr in the morning. Without him, of course.
“You are to stay here the whole time,” Salok informed him. “No wandering. And keep the house spotless while we are gone.”
“Yes, sir,” Jim mumbled.
Jim saw that they were fed and off to bed and then he went to his own room and slumped down on his bed. He tossed the pouch of unspent coins down too.
“I never did get the chance to slip away to get something,” he told Lulu. She merely stared at him. “I know you aren’t the least bit surprised.”
Jim sniffed himself. “I stink. I smell like the perfume T’Dar bought. Yeah. She made me spray it on myself.” He leaned back. “I guess I better get a shower.”
Lulu jumped on the bed and Jim reached over and patted her.
“I guess on the bright side it’s three whole days without any of them here. Huh, Lu?”
He straightened and got up from the bed to look for his pajamas to wear after his shower.
“Do I want you because you’re wonderful—?” Jim started to sing as he got into the bathroom.
“James! Stop that singing! I’m trying to meditate!” T’Pring shouted.
Jim closed his eyes and sighed. The morning couldn’t come soon enough.
As soon as they departed in the hover car, Jim took Lulu to the lake’s shore. Yeah, Salok had said to stay at home, but Salok wasn’t there and at the moment Jim didn’t care what Salok had to say about it.
“Bite me,” he said out loud.
He picked up pebbles and threw them into the lake.
“When am I ever going to get off this rock?” he asked Lulu. Well, he directed the question to her anyway. She had no answer for him.
“Finally! There you are!”
Jim turned at the sound of Leonard McCoy’s voice.
“Bones, what are you doing here?”
Bones had his hands on his hips and a scowl on his face. “I’m looking for you, kid. Why aren’t you at the house?”
“Well because…nothing. You’re wasting time. We have to get busy.”
Jim frowned. “Busy doing what?”
“Getting you ready to attend tonight’s ball, of course.”
Bones sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m a doctor, not a fairy godfather.” And then he sort of smiled. “Wait. Actually I am a fairy godfather.”
“Wait. What? A fairy what?”
“Just come on. Back to the house with you.”
Bones turned and began walking back toward Salok’s house. He stopped to urge Jim to follow him, and after a moment, Jim ran to catch up. Lulu did too.
“Am I really going to the ball tonight?”
When they got to the house, Bones just walked inside so Jim followed in after him. He went straight to the main room, where to Jim’s surprise, on the sofa was a blue satin pair of pants and a matching jacket with gold braiding.
“What you’re going to wear.”
Jim’s eyes bugged out. “Me? But where—”
“Just put it on, will ya?”
Jim went to the clothes and picked them up. Feeling them. They felt incredibly luxurious. “This is fine stuff. I can’t afford this.”
Bones eyed him with a sort of glare. “Don’t worry about it.”
Jim bit his lip. “Did you steal it?”
The doctor guffawed at that. “No. And stop worrying about it. Just put it on.”
“But where did you get it?”
“Put. It. On.”
Jim smiled a little. “Okay. But, um, turn around.”
“Oh for Pete’s sake. I’ve seen what you got, kid.”
Jim sniffed and waved his hand. “Still.”
Bones raised his eyes heavenward but turned around as Jim pulled off his old clothes and dressed in the blue satin clothes.
He ran his fingers over it. “God it feels so good.”
Bones turned around. “You look breath taking.”
Jim grinned. “Yeah?”
Bones looked away. “Whatever. Now the boots.”
Jim sat down to pull on the black suede boots that went almost to his knees. When he was finished, he went to a nearby mirror.
“The blue matches my eyes,” he whispered.
“I’m not an amateur, kid,” Bones told him. He came over to where Jim stood and straightened his collar. “Now, we need to get you transportation.”
“You aren’t planning to walk, are ya?” He shook his head. “Outside.”
Jim followed Bones outside but when they got out there he didn’t see anything.
Bones had his hand on one elbow and he was looking around the yard. “This is a pickle.”
“Never mind.” Bones stared down at Lulu. “All right. Yeah. You’ll do.”
“She’ll do for what?” Jim demanded.
Bones shook his hand and removed a phaser from his waistband. It didn’t look like an ordinary phaser and was studded with jewels. Jim had never seen anything like it and certainly not from the doc.
“What are you—?”
Bones fired the phaser at Lulu.
But instead of stunning the dog, as Jim watched, unable to believe his eyes, Lulu suddenly stretched and morphed into a glittery gold hover car.
Bones grinned and gestured to the glittery car. “Your transportation.”
“Oh, she’s fine. Now listen, kid. There are rules.”
Jim tore his gaze from the hover car. “Rules?”
“Yep.” Bones handed him a satin blue mask that was the type to tie around your head. It covered his upper cheeks and some of his forehead but had holes for his eyes. It was bejeweled with what looked like sapphires. “You gotta wear this, so you have a disguise. And no telling anyone who you really are, the prince included. You only get to go to the three balls. Nothing else. And you have to come back here every night. At midnight.”
“Yes. When midnight strikes leave the ball and get in your hover car. You have only just enough time to get back here before the sehlat becomes herself again. Tomorrow, when it’s time to leave, she’ll become a hover car again, and the next night as well. Any questions?”
“Will it hurt her?”
“No, no, I told you, she’s fine.” Bones looked around. “We need a driver.”
“I can drive—”
“You have too many other things to worry about.” Bones spotted a bug crawling along the side of the yard. “That’ll do.”
As Jim watched he fired his phaser again and the bug morphed into what looked like a human male, dressed all in a black uniform.
“Well, hello there,” the bug man said.
Jim glanced at Bones. “Is that an accent?”
“My name’s Scotty. And who might you be?”
“Uh. I’m, uh--”
“Never mind that. Your job is just to drive him to the ball each night. And back again at midnight. Got that, Scotty?” Bones asked.
“Aye, sir,” Scotty said with a nod. “Well, then, why don’t you get in, and we’ll be on our way.”
Scotty got into the hover car and waited.
Jim licked his lips. “Why are you doing all of this?”
“I told you, kid. I’m your fairy godfather.”
“But-but good things never happen for me,” Jim whispered.
Bones grabbed Jim by his biceps. “About time they did then, huh? Get going. And knock ‘em dead, kid.”
Dazed and thinking maybe this was just a dream, Jim got into the gold hover car and clung to the side as it whisked away from home and to Shikahr.
“Spock, you aren’t dancing,” Mother admonished as she came to his side.
Spock was currently leaning against the right wall of ballroom. He’d been fending off requests for more dancing for an hour already.
“I am currently, as you would say, Mother, taking a breather.”
“But you’ve hardly danced at all. How are you to find a mate that suits you if you will not dance?”
It was hard for him to not give her the side-eye, but she was his mother so he refrained. “Mother, how will dancing with some ill-mannered individual with no skill convince me to take a mate?”
She sighed. “You are grumpy.”
“Hardly. I just do not see the point of these festivities.”
As he turned toward her, a man appeared at the top of the stairs leading into the ballroom. The man wore a particular shade of blue satin jacket and trousers and knee-high boots. His blond hair was swept up high as though he were perhaps some Terran model. And Spock could swear the man’s hair sparkled with gold.
Spock had never seen anyone as beautiful.
Almost against his will, Spock took a step forward, his fists clenching at his sides. He waited for the footman to announce his new guest but the announcement never came. The man simply smiled at the footman, and Spock had a moment of illogical jealousy at the footman, and began his descent down the steps.
Spock walked away from his mother and waited for the man at the bottom of the steps.
When the man reached him, Spock was short of breath, for the man was even more stunning up close. His eyes were the exact match to the blue satin he wore. His teeth were white and straight, his jaw chiseled, and yes, there were gold sparkles in his hair.
“I am Prince Spock.”
The man smiled, finally turning it on Spock, instead of the footman, and Spock felt the flutter in his heart. “I am aware, Your Highness.” He bowed at the waist.
Spock reached for and took the man’s hand as he straightened. There was a strange warmth at their touch. He ignored it for the moment. “And you are?”
“Where are you from, James?” Spock persisted.
Spock frowned slightly. “Is that a class M planet?”
“Yes,” James replied. “Some distance away from Vulcan.”
“I see.” Spock nodded. “And you are the prince there?”
His smile widened. “Yeah, sure.”
Spock studied his guest. “Would you care to dance, James?”
James hesitated just a moment, but then nodded. “All right.”
Spock swept him up in his arms for the waltz and led him onto the dance floor. Spock found his arm around James’ waist was very pleasing.
“Have you ever been to Vulcan before, James? There is something…familiar about you.”
James stumbled a little, stepping on Spock’s foot. “Sorry. I’m sorry.”
“It is fine,” Spock said. He could not keep his gaze off James’ face. He had never reacted this way to anyone. “Have you?”
“Been to Vulcan before.”
“Well. I don’t get out much,” James said. “I have a-a number of duties.”
“I would imagine. But your father, the King, would he not do most of them?”
“Oh, sure, but I don’t have a father.”
“I mean, yeah, I had one once, obviously, but he died,” James said, turning a dark shade of red. He licked his lips.
“Then are you not the King?”
James looked away over Spock’s shoulder. “You’d think so, huh?”
“It’s a long and tragic story,” James replied. “My stepfather is king. My father died when I was very young and they decided I was not capable of being king then.”
Spock nodded. “That makes sense.”
“Yeah?” James smiled again. “I mean, yes. It does. I won’t be king until I’m twenty-one.”
“How old are you now?”
Spock stopped at the door that would take them out onto the balcony that overlooked the city. His hand on James’ arm, Spock led the younger man outside. There were others outside but as soon as they saw Spock, they scurried back indoors, no doubt to allow Spock and his guest privacy.
James looked up and then all around. “This is nice. Pretty.”
Spock watched James. “Yes. Very pretty.”
“Do you come out here like this often?” James put his hands on the stone edge of the balcony.
“This is the first time tonight, but there have been other times.”
“I think I’d spend all my time out here if I were you. The view of the city is amazing.”
“I have a similar balcony attached to my bedchamber.”
“I bet. I think I’d probably move my bed out to it and just sleep out there,” James said wistfully. “Where you can see the stars.”
Spock moved closer to him. He leaned against the stone wall, but he faced away from the city view, and instead kept his eyes on James. “I have never met anyone like you, James.”
“I’m no one special,” James said softly.
“I cannot agree.” Spock took a chance and touched two fingers to James’ that rested on the wall. He stroked along them. “Do you know what this is?”
James’ breath hitched. “A Vulcan kiss.”
“Indeed,” Spock murmured. He curled his fingers around his, relishing the warmth wherever they touched.
Spock watched as those blue eyes widened, their gaze falling to Spock’s lips. Anticipation pooled in Spock’s stomach as he leaned in toward James.
“May I?” Spock asked, his mouth close to James’.
As Spock pressed his lips to the other man’s, James’ lips softened on a gasp, parting ever so slightly, and Spock boldly thrust his tongue past them and into the, hot, moist mouth, touching his tongue to James’.
James startled a little but did not pull away. In fact his hand rose to rest on Spock’s chest and even through the material of Spock’s own jacket, he felt this young man’s heat. His head was suddenly spinning. This…simple feeling.
A distant chime rang.
Suddenly Spock found he was no longer kissing James and in fact James was now leaping over the wall of the balcony and sliding down it.
“James! James, what are you doing?”
“Sorry, Your Highness. Gotta go.”
“What? Wait. But you—”
James disappeared altogether.
For a moment, Spock considered going over the balcony after him but that would be entirely illogical and dangerous, so he ran back inside the ballroom, ignoring his parents who called after him, and up the stairs. Then he went back down the other stairs that would take him down below until he reached the exit. He rushed outside.
There was no sign of James. Not anywhere.
Spock hurried to a guard. “Did you see where he went?”
“Who, Your Highness?”
“The young blond boy in blue.”
“I did see a golden hover car leaving. Could that have been him, Your Highness?”
“It is likely,” Spock said, turning away to hide his frustration.
Finally he had found his mate.
And he was gone.
Before he’d met James, Spock had not looked forward to the Festival at all. In fact, he could be said to have dreaded it. But last night had changed everything about the Festival. And even Spock himself.
His mother had asked him to attend the daytime festivities as a representative of the Royal Family. Spock had done so out of his sense of duty. But no matter where and how often he searched through the crowds, he never saw James.
Since James’s ill-timed disappearance, Spock had attempted to learn all that he could about the planet James was from. Marlborough. But he had not found any indication of its location or any details about it. Most curious.
When the time for the evening festivities approached, Spock changed into appropriate attire for a ball and waited. He was approached by many hopeful guests hoping to engage him in conversation or even a dance, but he had no desire to spend any of his time with them.
A pretty female from the planet, Earth, dressed in a mauve gown, came up to him as he leaned against the wall. Her long dark hair was piled high on her head in ringlets. She curtsied before him.
Spock looked past her to the stairs and the entrance of the ballroom. “Miss.”
She straightened. “My name is Nyota.”
He merely nodded at this information.
“Dance, Your Highness?”
At that moment, the doors above the stairs opened and Spock took a step away from the wall, holding his breath. The very existence of the woman in mauve disappeared from his mind.
“James,” he whispered.
James came through the doorway into the ballroom. He wore the same blue satin he’d worn from the night before. His smile just as radiant. And Spock…
Was just as captivated.
“Excuse me,” he said as he moved through the guests, intent only on reaching James.
James had made it halfway down the stairs when Spock reached the foot of them. If anything, as if it were even possible, the smile he gave Spock because even more beautiful. And full of an intimacy that made Spock lightheaded.
He grasped James’ hand when he reached Spock. He pulled the young man instantly onto the dance floor, swinging him into his arms.
“Was I not supposed to?”
Spock inclined his head. “You are the only attendant I care about.”
James stared at him with impossibly blue eyes that seemed to glow from within. “I’ve looked forward to this all day.”
“As have I. You did not attend the daytime festivities. At least that I could locate you.”
James shook his head. “I cannot.”
“It’s-it’s hard to explain.”
Spock was aware that all eyes were on the couple, especially his parents no doubt, and Spock found that he wanted nothing more than to be alone with this intriguing young man. “Come.”
He took James’ hand in his and led him outside, this time to a balcony that he knew had a set of steps that would take them into gardens and the hedge maze his father had created for his mother as she had a fondness for them.
James came with him without argument and soon they reached the gardens which were lit with white orbs of light.
“Wow, this is so amazing,” James said, his gaze flitting from the orbs to the archways covered in vining flower plants. “I’ve never see anything so beautiful.”
His gaze on James, Spock said softy, “I have.”
James looked at him, his cheeks faintly pink.
“You are like no one I have ever known,” Spock said. “Will you come with me into the maze?”
“Within it, at the middle, is a gazebo that includes a porch swing. Father designed it for Mother as she had something similar on her own planet. Please?”
He did not let go of James’ hand. Could not bring himself to do so. In fact, Spock thought he would never want to relinquish hold of this man. He navigated his way through the hedges, aware that James watched his every move, and they finally reached the middle with the white gazebo.
“Spock, this is incredible.”
James followed him up the wooden steps into the gazebo that was surrounded by the same orb lights and also Earth roses and carnations, Mother’s favorites. In the middle was the swing. He drew James down into it, sitting him as close to Spock as possible.
“Sometimes I hide here when I do not wish to be found,” Spock admitted.
“Why do you hide?”
“The duties of a prince. Well, you must know yourself. On Marlborough.”
James smiled. “Yes. I forget actually. It’s been a while since I’ve been home.”
“I tried to find out more about your planet.”
“Did you?” James dropped his gaze. “I should have realized you would.”
Spock touched his fingers to James’ chin and raised it up. “I do not mean to pry into something that is painful for you.”
“It’s not that. Exactly.”
“I wish for you to be mine.”
James’ breath hitched. “Yours?”
“The festival was orchestrated so that I may find a mate that suited me,” Spock told James. “I did not imagine that I would ever actually find one. And you are so much more than suitable.”
He silenced James’ words with his lips on James for he could not resist his desire to kiss the young man even one more moment. The kiss was sweet and pure, like a fairytale kiss, and not at all enough.
He trailed his lips down James’ jawline.
“I desire to know every inch of you,” Spock said, his voice turning hoarse with desire. “I-I have never felt such unbearable need for anyone.”
James pupils were blown wide. “Unbearable?”
“Is it wrong to want to pleasure you?” Spock moved his mouth to James’ ear. “Have you ever been with anyone, ashayam?”
James shivered. “No. No, no one.”
“Then I will be your first.”
“Your only,” he said gruffly.
He pushed James down to lie underneath him on the swing. There was barely enough room for the two of them, but Spock had no desire for there to be any space between them. With the hand that was not cupping James’ face, as he devoured those plump pink lips, Spock closed his fingers over the prominent bulge between James’ legs.
James keened up, his mouth opening on a cry as Spock’s tongue slipped inside.
He flicked his fingers against the buttons that would open James’ satin breeches and they came undone with ease. He thrust his hand inside, pushing aside James’ underthings to reach for his thickening penis.
James eyes closed, a ragged moan pouring from his mouth, as he panted against Spock’s mouth.
James was young and inexperienced. Spock was fairly certain he would not last long before he would find his release. He slid his curled fingers along James’ shaft, his thumb rubbing the oozing pre-come along the tip of James’ hardness.
“Oh, God,” James gasped, his whole body shaking and rising with Spock’s ministrations. He made a sort of mewling sound as he desperately grabbed at Spock. And then Spock felt James’ ejaculating fluid coat his fingers. For several moments, James continued to quiver in Spock’s arms.
Spock removed a handkerchief from the pocket of his coat and wiped his fingers before carefully tucking James back into his pants, doing up the buttons.
There was simply no way he could ever let this man go.
A chime sounded in the distance.
James stiffened and sat up suddenly. “What-what was that?”
“It is nearly midnight,” Spock said lazily. “There is no need to move yet, James. No one will bother us out here.”
“Oh crap.” James scrambled off Spock’s lap where he had been resting and off the swing. “I have to get out of here.”
“Now. Oh fuck me.” James turned and ran from the gazebo and into the hedge maze.
“What?” Spock got up, willing his own very hard member to go down. “James! James, wait.”
Jim ran faster than he’d ever ran and reached the golden hover car in what surely must have been a universe record.
Scotty was holding open the door. “You cut that a wee bit close, lad.”
“Yeah well.” He got into the car. Scotty got in too and began to speed away from the Royal Castle.
“You’re breathing a wee bit heavy like. Are you okay then?”
Jim licked his lips and leaned his head back against the seat of the car. “No. No, I’m not. I’m fucked.”
“There’s only one night left,” Jim lamented as he stood in the courtyard of his home. “And then it’s over. I’ll probably never see Prince Spock again.”
“Aye, probably not,” Scotty agreed. “But at least you’ll still be human. I’ve got bigger problems, lad. I’ll be a bug again.”
“Oh.” Jim glanced at Scotty who sat on a nearby rock. It was close to one in the morning now but Jim wasn’t sleepy at all. Lulu had returned to her form but sure enough Scotty was still a man. “Why aren’t you a bug right now?”
Scotty shrugged. “I don’t know. But I’m no’ complaining.”
Jim had never heard of a bug with a Scottish accent, but well, this wasn’t like anything Jim had ever known, was it? And he hadn’t really thought about poor Scotty.
“Do you like being a man?”
“I wish I could stay this way forever,” Scotty replied. “Don’t have to worry about someone stepping on me and squashing me. I can speak and think and feel things I never could before. Tonight I tasted something called a sandwich. Have you had one then?”
“Uh, yeah. Sure.”
Jim crouched down beside Lulu and scratched her behind the ears. “I wish there was a way you could be real, Scotty. And I wish I could really be with the prince. I can’t believe it’s almost over already. I wish…”
“What do you wish?” Scotty prompted when Jim didn’t continue.
“That I never went to the ball at all. Before I knew how handsome and noble Spock was but it was all just a dream, you know? But now I’ve kissed him and we’ve touched and…how will I ever go back to this?” He gestured to the house. “To them. As if my heart isn’t broken.”
Jim felt a poke in his shoulder and he turned to see Bones standing there, looking down at him and looking anything but pleased. “Hi, Bones.”
“Don’t ‘hi Bones’ me, kid. I gave you this wonderful gift and all you can do is complain. I’ve a mind to cancel your third night.”
“What? No. Please? Don’t do that.” He sat down heavily on the ground as Lulu attempted to crawl into his lap.
“Well, don’t cry or anything,” Bones grumbled. He glanced at Scotty, who had gone quiet, and then sat on the ground next to Jim.
“It’s just…now I want things I never thought about wanting before.”
“You went and fell in love with him, didn’t you?”
Jim’s bottom lip trembled. “How could I help it? He’s wonderful. There’s no one like him. And his kisses—”
“Kisses? Did you have sex with him?” Bones demanded.
Jim shrugged. “I think he had sex with me.”
“It was supposed to be fun and flirty, Jim. You weren’t supposed to get serious.”
Jim bent across Lulu and rested on her. “I never do what I’m supposed to do, Bones. I thought you knew that.”
Bones ruffled Jim’s hair. “You should get some rest. The last ball is going to be something you’ll really want to be prepared for.”
“So I can still go?”
“Of course you can. But the same rules apply. Out by midnight.”
“And Scotty?” Jim whispered.
“He’s an insect, Jim.”
“But he doesn’t have to be.”
“I only have so much magic, kid. Now get that rest.”
Spock waited for the arrival of James. He only hopped the younger man would show up the last night of the festival. After his departure the night before, Spock was concerned that he had done something against his will.
If James did arrive and all was well between them, it was Spock’s intention to not let him leave as he had done the two prior evenings. He was determined to make James his mate. When first his parents had suggested the festival as a means to just that, Spock had been skeptical at best. That he had, indeed, found the one he wished to bond with had been as much a shock to him as anyone.
But now he would have no one else but James.
If he did not attend the ball, Spock would spend all resources to find him and make the claim.
When the trumpets blared, Spock held his breath. He was aware of the approach of a female he sort of recalled from the night before. She was pleasing in appearance and would likely make someone other than him a fine partner. He took a step forward and waited.
James appeared at the top of the stairs as he had the prior two evenings. He was decked from head to toe in resplendent sparkling gold. Spock heard the gasps from those around him as James began to walk down the staircase.
This magnificent creature would be his, Spock vowed.
His smile was radiant as he took Spock’s hand and Spock once more swung him onto the dance floor in a waltz struck up by the orchestra.
“You remove my breath from my lungs,” Spock said softly.
“You truly have no compare.”
James smiled a little.
“I feared you would not come.”
Blue eyes met his. “I feared the same.”
“Then you did consider it.”
“Not really. Just…circumstances.”
Spock let out his held breath. “If my behavior last evening in any way made you uncomfortable—”
“No. No.” James shook his head. “It didn’t. You didn’t.” His tongue traced his lips. “I loved it.”
Relief and hope blossomed in Spock’s side. “Yes?”
“Yes,” James whispered. “In fact, I…” He looked away, his cheeks turning a most becoming pink.
“I feel the same.”
James’ eyes came back to land on Spock. “You do?”
“Affirmative. If you…will permit me, I would like you to accompany me away from the festivities.”
“To the gazebo again?”
Spock shook his head. “To my bedchamber.”
James’ eyes widened.
“Is that too forward?”
Lips curved into that radiant smile. “Maybe. But I don’t care. Lead the way, Your Highness.”
Spock took James’ hand and placed it on the sleeve of his arm as he made his way through the revelers and to a corridor that would take them away from so many onlookers. At the end of the hallway was a private set of stairs and Spock tugged Jim up them at a fast a pace. He went down two additional corridors and another set of stairs until he finally reached his private bedchamber.
“You can still hear the orchestra from here,” James commented as Spock closed the door.
“Indeed,” Spock agreed. He took James into his arms again. “Would you like to continue dancing?”
“Yes.” James had a look of wonderment on his face as they swayed to the music. “I had no idea Vulcans were so romantic.”
“I suspect some of it may be my mother’s influence.”
“So your dad isn’t like this?”
“I do not know for sure but it is doubtful.” Spock inclined his head. “Then again I was not around when he courted my mother to be his mate.”
James smiled. “You make it sound like you’re courting me to be yours.”
Those blue eyes widened again. “Spock—”
“James.” Spock stroked his thumb across James’ bottom lip, thrilled when James shivered. “You are so responsive to me. Do you not feel our connection already growing?”
“Yes, but I—”
Spock kissed him, closing his eyes as James’ lips sweetly softened under his. His hands slid down James’ back, drawing him close.