First Uhura's putting a hand to her ear and squinting as she listens to the voice amid the static, wondering if she hears the man correctly. Then she's interrupting a whispered conversation Kirk is having with his science officer, who is so exultant in Kirk’s presence he’s almost smiling. She’s seen that look before, but it's been years. It was the look the captain always wore—admiral, she corrects herself—around his former first officer, and now that former first officer is wearing the expression for his former captain. She has to shake her head and look away from the two of them, because their infatuation is so obvious it’s embarrassing. Everyone has heard about what happened in sickbay from Christine, and everyone is thrilled since it's been eight years in the making and the general consensus among the crew is "get on with it already." She has to roll her eyes at the fact that Kirk is trying to pretend he’s not three seconds away from stripping Mr. Spock right here on the bridge. She'd like to tell them "everyone knows" but it might be a bit much for Mr. Spock's Vulcan sensibilities.
The Enterprise is warping back toward Earth now that V'ger's probe has merged with Decker—Ilia and Decker aren't casualties, she reminds herself, just missing—and she hasn’t seen Kirk this giddy since he first took command. He's settled into his shoulders, grin almost lovesick. Part of it is due to standing on the Enterprise's bridge again as her commander, she knows, but Uhura served with Jim Kirk long enough that she knows which expressions are owed to his lady and which are owed to his favorite Vulcan. Fingers flying over her console, she adjusts settings to clean up the signal until the static is greatly reduced, and she's positive she has heard the voice correctly.
"Admiral," she says, and he regards her impishly, hazel eyes lively, corners of his mouth curving into a lazy smile. He's only half listening to her. "I'm receiving a transmission from someone identifying himself as the Creator. He wishes to speak with you privately. Should I put it through to your quarters, sir?"
"On screen," Kirk orders jovially, turning on his heel to face the front of the bridge. His science officer stands wordlessly at his shoulder, gazing at him with ardor.
"It is a voice transmission," Uhura amends, watching the two of them attempt stoicism, though it's apparent from the way Kirk keeps smiling over his shoulder like it's Christmas that the last three years, when the two of them were apart, must have about killed him. "...but I can put it on speaker."
"Yes, thank you," Kirk acknowledges, stepping away from the science station toward the center of the bridge. Spock's eyes follow almost playfully, and Uhura has to look away because she is blushing. She is a professional. She won't intrude on this moment any longer.
A low tone indicates the connection has been made, and Jim snaps into command mode. He raises his chin and speaks.
"This is Admiral James T. Kirk, commanding the starship Enterprise," he says. "To whom am I speaking?"
"Greetings, James T. Kirk," the voice booms over the speakers. "My name is Gene. I am your creator."
Kirk shoots a look at Spock over his shoulder. Spock makes an aborted shrug, and it's so human, Jim bites back a grin. He holds Spock's eyes for a beat, then returns his gaze forward to the blank screen.
"My creator?" Jim repeats.
"I understand that might be hard for you to believe," says Gene.
"When you say 'creator,' you mean...the creator of man?"
"No, Jim. I am the creator of your franchise."
"I am not a part of any franchise," Jim says matter-of-factly. "We are members of the United Federation of Planets."
"I am the creator of the Federation as well. In fact, your whole world is my creation."
Scowling, Jim sinks into his chair. "You believe yourself to be God?"
"Not God, no."
"If you truly are the creator," Jim says, "surely you can offer some sort of proof."
"I should have known this would be difficult for you to understand." Gene’s voice is muffled, as though he is rubbing a hand against his mouth. "Is Spock there?"
"This is Spock."
"How do you know my science officer?" Jim asks, frowning.
"As I told you," Gene says. "I am your creator."
"Yes, of course..." Jim says to placate him.
"You are a being of logic, Spock," Gene says.
"I am," Spock confirms.
"Would you agree," Gene continues, "that when you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
"I know your thoughts, Spock."
Jim watches a single eyebrow rise. "Indeed?" Spock says.
"You are familiar with the concept of t'hy'la," Gene says, and Spock tenses. Jim frowns. "It is why you returned to the Enterprise."
"How—" Spock begins.
"There is a rumor," Gene says. "A rumor I wish to discuss with you, Admiral Kirk. Get your take on it."
"Rumor?" Jim says. "What rumor are you referring to?"
"Are you certain you wouldn't rather discuss this in private?"
"Admiral," Spock begins, voice carrying a hint of distress, but Jim cuts him off with a wave of his hand.
"You will tell us this rumor," Jim says. Gene sighs.
"On Earth, there are people who follow your exploits in space. For arguments sake, we'll call them fanatics," says Gene. "These fanatics have speculated about many aspects of life on board the Enterprise, not the least of which is a rumor that you and your science officer are...well, there's no delicate way to put this."
"Jim—" Spock implores.
"Lovers," Gene finishes.
Spock flushes green.
The bridge goes silent, and Jim can feel eyes boring into the back of his neck. Before him, Sulu has gone rigid, hands frozen over the console. Chekov stares at Spock with a slightly open mouth, which only makes the flush across his cheekbones burn hotter.
Lovers. That wasn't what Kirk was expecting to hear. An amateur gourmet? Yes. A bibliophile? Certainly. He and Spock lovers? Only in his fantasies when he was a few drinks in with Bones. ("Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a matchmaker.")
"Ah," says Jim. "I’ll get back to you momentarily."
He coughs loudly to cover his surprise and presses a button to silence the intercom.
"I'll take the rest of this transmission in my quarters. Mr. Spock, you have the conn."
"Admiral," Spock says, and he steps forward with his arms clasped behind his back, speaking to Jim in a hushed tone. "As this rumor involves both of us, perhaps it would be prudent for me to accompany you. As it is a personal matter, I request the right."
"Yes," Jim says after a beat. "Quite right, Mr. Spock. Mr. Sulu, you have the conn. Uhura, I will alert you when I've reached my quarters."
In the turbolift, Jim stares at Spock, who stares at the turbolift doors as though able to open them by will. Jim is repeating the word in his head. Lovers. He is intrigued by the idea of Spock as his lover. They have always enjoyed a close relationship. The three years during which Spock was gone were difficult, and Jim often felt uncertain without Spock just over his shoulder. Seeing Spock again on the bridge caused such a flurry of emotions, he felt like he’d explode out of his skin. And to see Spock lying unconscious in sickbay, the possibility that he might be lost to Jim again...they moved past friendship long ago.
Lovers. Yes, he supposes they are.
His gaze falls to Spock’s mouth, tense and pressed into a line. Spock’s arms are at his sides, his hands balled into fists. His back is locked straight, nostrils flaring with each breath. The idea of them together physically is clearly distressing to Spock, and Jim finds himself disappointed at the loss of something so soon recognized. Still, he remains glad to have Spock back in any capacity. He places a hand on Spock’s arm, and Spock tenses further. Jim squeezes.
"We’ll clear this up," he says. "No one on the bridge will say anything."
Spock shakes his head.
"That word he mentioned," Jim continues. “What does it mean?"
"It is a Vulcan word," Spock says slowly, not raising his eyes. "It is the closest approximation we have for friend. Friendships such as ours are not common among Vulcans, outside of marriage bonds. Our situation is most...unique."
"So it means friend."
"That is one meaning. It also means brother," Spock says, and a green flush creeps up his neck and spreads across his cheekbones. "And lover."
Jim's heart begins to race, but he fights to keep the excitement from his voice.
"That's how you think about me?" he asks.
"You've never called me that before," Jim says.
"I have not, but I have allowed myself to think of you using that term."
"How would he know that?"
"That's...how I feel about you as well."
The turbolift reaches C Deck, and Spock grips Jim's arm as the doors slide open, regarding him warmly. Jim gives him a firm nod and a smile, and they walk briskly to Jim's quarters. He resists the urge to pull Spock against him and pushes the button on his intercom. Spock stands at a polite distance with his arms clasped before him, but on his face is the hint of a smile.
"Patch through that call," Jim orders.
"Yes, sir," Uhura says through the speaker.
"Creator," Jim addresses in his formal captain’s voice, "you claimed to know Spock's thoughts. Tell me, how are you aware of this Vulcan word?"
"I invented it," says Gene. "I invented you, but you have become autonomous, in a way."
"So you’re saying we exist in your...imagination?"
"Fascinating," Spock says.
"Spock," Jim says, covering the microphone. "Is there any way he could have...guessed?"
"I estimate the possibility to be statistically insignificant."
"So you think it’s possible that what he says is true?"
"I do," Spock confirms.
"You mentioned a rumor," Jim says into the intercom again. “A rumor that made Mr. Spock and me lovers."
"You said you wished to discuss it."
"I would like your input," says Gene.
"Your formal response to the rumor, if you'd be willing."
Knitting his brows together, Jim looks from the intercom to Spock and back to the intercom.
"If you will give me a minute," he says finally, "I will record my thoughts and send them to you. Will that be sufficient?"
"Yes," says Gene. "Thank you for speaking with me, Admiral." Jim presses the button to hold the call, and he walks to his desk. Taking out a blank tape, he inserts it into his computer. He straightens, clears his throat, and hovers his hand over the key to begin recording, but he doesn't press it. He draws the hand back.
"Spock," Jim says, turning his head to look at him. “Have you ever heard of this rumor before today?"
"I see," Jim says. "More than once?"
Spock's eyes rise to the ceiling, and Jim realizes he's beginning an actual count of events catalogued in that methodical brain. He waves a hand in Spock's direction.
"I’ll take that as a yes," Jim says. “You've never said anything."
"It did not bear repeating. Our personal relationship is not the business of the crew."
"Did they ask you directly?"
"How..." Jim begins, frowning. "How did you react?"
"I merely gave them the expression I give you now." Spock raises a perfect eyebrow.
Jim thinks for a moment, pursing his lips. With the flick of a finger, he begins the recording. He clears his throat and begins to speak.
"I was never aware of this lovers rumor, although I have been told that Spock encountered it several times. Apparently, he had always dismissed it with his characteristic lifting of his right eyebrow, which usually connoted some combination of surprise, disbelief, and/or annoyance."
He releases the button and turns to Spock.
"I assume it's safe to say you love me," he says.
Spock's voice is quiet. "Yes."
"That's what you meant in sickbay by ‘this simple feeling.’"
Chuckling softly, Jim sighs and rubs his head.
"Why did it take us so long to get to this point?"
"It was always my intention to pursue the discipline of kolinahr," Spock says haltingly, lowering his eyes for the first time since entering Jim's quarters. "I had no wish to enter into a marriage bond with you, knowing I intended to purge my emotions a short while later. It would not have been fair to give you false expectations for a future with me when I saw none."
"Marriage bond?" Jim repeats.
"Surely you understand the depth of my regard for you."
Jim bites back a smile, and his gaze falls to Spock's mouth, then up to his eyes. "I believe I am starting to, Mr. Spock."
He holds out a hand, and Spock hesitantly takes it within his, coming to stand between Jim’s legs. Jim slowly rubs the web of skin between Spock’s thumb and forefinger, and he watches Spock’s eyes fall closed, a quiet moan escaping his mouth. Jim rubs harder and resumes the recording.
"As for myself, although I have no moral or other objections to physical love in any of its many earthly, alien, and..." His eyes rake over Spock's body. "...mixed forms," he continues, smiling devilishly, "I have always found my best gratification in that creature called woman."
A growl starts in Spock's throat and breaks free. He leans in, his musky scent overpowering Jim's senses. Jim inhales and squeezes Spock's hand tighter.
"I will endeavor to change your mind on that point," Spock rasps into Jim's ear.
"Also..." Jim's tone is deceptively light, belying the shudder that passes through him at Spock's words. "I would dislike being thought of as so foolish that I would select a love partner who came into sexual heat only once every seven years. Kirk out."
He flips off the recording switch as Spock pulls him from the chair, pushing him roughly onto his back along the desk, eyes alight.
"You are mistaken," Spock whispers as he mouths the shell of Jim's ear. Jim thrusts up against him. "Vulcans can copulate whenever we choose."
"That’s our business," Jim says. "And if all that talk of marriage bonds earlier was a proposal, I accept."
"Jim," Spock says reverently and slips his hands beneath Jim’s tunic.
"I should remind you that we have another two hours and forty-three minutes left on this shift."
Spock's voice is a filthy, breathy whisper that goes straight to Jim's cock.
"Then I will endeavor to provide you with unmatched satisfaction this evening."
"Of that, Mr. Spock, I have no doubt."
Somewhere in an alternate universe...
"Captain..." Spock says, peeling Jim's fingers from the blue fabric of his tunic where they knead circles into his sides as Jim sucks at his throat. "I implore you to stop. Nyota informs me the alpha shift got what she termed 'an earful' yesterday when you insisted on a private...meeting with me."
Jim sighs and slumps against the turbolift wall, panting. "Damn. I should have known this thing isn't soundproof."
"I did advise silence." Spock straightens his uniform. Not thirty seconds earlier, he'd been gripping Jim's ass with his eyes blown wide, cheeks flushed green, and an impressive bulge in his regulation pants. Now, Jim marvels at the almost instant transformation from horny half-Vulcan boyfriend to no-nonsense first officer of a Federation starship.
"I need my own ready room," Jim complains.
"You need to exercise discretion."
"Oh, shut up. It's not like we're setting a precedent."
"Indeed not. However, you are the captain of a starship, and your behavior must be an example. A location with the guarantee of privacy would be preferable. I offer my quarters, though yours are in closer proximity."
"Why, Mr. Spock, is that the Vulcan equivalent of your place or mine?"
"That is what I just said, Captain."
"I like when you call me 'captain.'"
An eyebrow rises. "I had come to believe you prefer it when I call you Jim."
"I also like when you call me Jim."
"Captain," Nyota's voice fills the turbolift. There's a slight edge to her tone, and Jim can't blame her for being a little irritated with him. He's never been quiet while in flagrante, and she has sensitive hearing. If anything, Jim swears he's even louder now that he's been officially dead and resurrected, 'cause it blew his passion for Spock wide open. Vulcan kissing through glass pretty much confirmed the attraction was mutual, and Spock was there when he woke up in the hospital, gripping his hand as if in a vise.
They hadn't stopped sucking face for days. Bones hadn’t been happy the time he overrode the door lock and strode into the hospital room to find them in the throes of passion, Jim chanting Spock, Spock, Spock, oh my fucking god... Must've been the super blood. When he first woke up, he could go for hours, plus hospital gowns are easy access.
"There's a private communication for you. Should I put it through to your quarters?"
"Who is it?" Jim asks.
"He identified himself as the Director."
"The Director," she repeats.
Shrugging, he says, "Pipe it in here. I'm still meeting with my first officer."
Uhura grumbles something he can't make out (though it might have included immature and asshat, but he really can’t be sure), and then an unfamiliar voice fills the turbolift.
A light hits Jim’s eyes from nowhere. He squints.
"Yes, this is James T. Kirk, captain of the starship Enterprise. Who is this?"
"Hi, James," the voice says, and the voice sounds unnaturally friendly. "I'm J.J."
"J.J.," Jim repeats, deadpan.
"Riiiight," Jim says. "My director."
"I wanted to speak with you," J.J. says, “to get your answer to a question. A rumor, that involves you and your first officer. We're having a little trouble with the screenplay."
"For the new Star Trek movie."
"Star Trek movie."
"Yes," says J.J. "We're chronicling the events of your past year in dramatic form."
"For what purpose?" Spock asks, frowning. "Is this project sanctioned by Starfleet?"
"You know, it doesn't really matter," J.J. says quickly. "There’s an argument among the writers. I just need to check on something I've heard."
"What's that?" Jim inquires.
"That you and Mr. Spock are...involved."
"Involved," Jim repeats. He blocks another flash of light. "Seriously, what's with the fireworks?" he mutters to Spock, who shakes his head.
"What I mean is…" J.J. says, "I need to know whether you and Mr. Spock are..." He pauses before finishing, and Jim can hear him swallow loudly. "Lovers."
"Lovers?" Jim says, grinning. "You bet, though we prefer the term space husbands."
"It's got a nice ring to it, don't you think?"
"If you want to scan my brain for a marriage bond, be my guest. Nurse Chapel can hook you up."
"Oh." J.J. pauses. "We'd written her off the ship."
"Well, that's ridiculous. What would Bones do without her?"
"So Mr. Spock isn't involved with Lieutenant Uhura any longer?" J.J. asks.
"Are you serious?" Jim quips. "I think Scotty would have a fit."
"Yeah...Mr. Scott. They're like a serious item."
"I didn't realize," J.J. murmurs. "And regarding Carol Marcus..."
"My weapons specialist, or as I like to call her, the future Mrs. Leonard McCoy?"
"Yes," J.J. says. "Have you two ever…?"
"They have not," Spock says sharply.
"How do you know that?" Jim turns to him and blinks.
Spock taps Jim's meld points.
"Oh," Jim says, grinning. "You know, it's kind of hot that you've been in my head."
"I..." J.J. stutters. "I think that's all I need. Thank you for your time, Captain."
"No problem," Jim says as the transmission ends, and he pulls Spock in for another kiss. "Wow, that was weird," he says as he bites Spock's lower lip. "People are so nosy."
"Indeed," Spock murmurs as Jim sucks the bite mark in apology.
"Probably just Cupcake and Chekov dicking around with the intercom system again. Remind me to discipline them later."
Jim attempts to transform his first officer back to hot-and-horny boyfriend. If Spock's hands sliding into his pants and grabbing his ass are any indication, it's working.
"Screenplay," Jim snorts. "That's such an antiquated word, anyway. Think my answers will feed the rumor mill for a while?"
"Yes," Spock says. "However, you lied. We are not fully bonded."
"Well," Jim laughs, "not yet, but I'm looking forward to the sex marathon."
"I will not be gentle."
"I hope not. It's called a blood fever, for god's sake. There'd better be some kinky shit."
"Jim..." Spock says with reproach.
"Spock, seriously, shut up and kiss me."