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“You’re not getting it!”

 

Jim is gesticulating in an excitable manner that fails to add any useful information to what he’s saying. Somehow, he’s also stood in Spock’s bedroom at 5:02am, garbed in full dress uniform, despite Spock’s attempts to Jim-proof his apartment security.

 

This sentence is the first thing that Jim has said after rudely awakening him, which leaves Spock at an even greater loss. “...I don’t understand,” he finally says, which elicits an extravagant eye-roll and sigh from his trespasser.

 

“What I was saying, the other day,” Jim says like it should be obvious, and then he moves across the room to Spock’s dresser and starts messing up the neatly folded clothing within. Despite his claims of Vulcan superiority, the utter bizarreness of the situation has paralysed Spock and he can only watch from where he’s sat upright in bed as Jim makes a face at the clothing he finds. “Dull block colours are never off-trend with you, huh,” the human comments, and proceeds to throw a black pullover and standard pants at Spock.

 

“Jim,” Spock says.

 

Red flushes across the Captain’s face and he turns to face the wall studiously. Privacy was not, in fact, what Spock was about to ask for, although he does not object to it. Clarification as to this unprecedented break-in was his goal, but resignation overrules his need to know. Jim never does do the logical thing, after all.

 

Ten minutes later, after having harassed Spock with multiple “do you really need to clean your teeth right now” and “do Vulcans not have superspeed then?” and “ Spock Spock Spock", the Captain leads him past a smoking door panel (“no time to hack, explosives were easier” “ Jim - ”) and into the dark morning. The streets are silent, as they should be at this time, and they encounter no one on their trek to the beach.

 

Full clarity and fullness of thought only really returns to Spock as his boots slip over the sand towards the crashing waves. This is, he thinks with a healthy dose of disgruntlement, due to the jarring nature of his wake-up call, and the fact that it is only 0530 in the morning.

 

His companion shows no sign of still wrestling his way out of sleep’s grasp, which is odd. Spock has, since the whole Admiral Marcus/Khan debacle, had to wake Jim numerous times for various meetings, and the Captain is almost always reluctant to arise, and in a moment of rare insight from Dr McCoy, “resembles a pouty zombie”. Jim’s currently bright eyes, rumpled clothing and general alertness suggest, then, that Spock is not dealing with a recently-awoken Jim Kirk. More likely, he is dealing with one which has not slept at all.

 

“Okay,” Jim says suddenly. He stops abruptly and drops into the sand, cross-legged and looking expectantly up at Spock.

 

Spock realises he is supposed to mimic the man, and with a barely noticeable eye-roll, follows suit. The sand is slightly damp and gritty against his hands. It’s uncomfortable.

 

They sit face-to-face, and despite the early hour the beach is alive with noise - the waves rolling and crashing on the shore only metres away, the crying seagulls overhead, a faint roar of traffic from the road behind them.

 

“What am I not getting?” Spock says at last, after Jim fails to speak at all.

 

The Captain exhales deeply and pushes a hand through his mess of blonde hair, no doubt filling it with sand. All his earlier levity and bravado is gone, and his face is open, vulnerable. His hands are linked in his lap and he seems almost as helplessly entranced by the twisting of his own fingers as Spock is. Still - he looks up after a short silence and pins Spock with those piercing blue eyes.

 

“I’ve been saying it for a long time,” Jim says, sounding defeated. “I just - I didn’t get it myself, y’know, until after the whole dying thing, and I know you don’t like me talking about that but it’s when I worked it out.” He blows out a breath. A second later, Spock feels it faintly passing over his own face. “And what I was saying, the other day, when I thought - ” he breaks off, looking pained. “You’re important to me, Spock. Possibly more important than anything I’ve ever known in my whole life.”

 

“Jim,” Spock says, because suddenly he knows.

 

And oh, the rush of vicious, burning love that rises up within him as Jim bites his lip and looks away - because Jim Kirk doesn’t believe that his sentiments might be returned. Somehow, Jim doesn’t know that Spock’s entire universe revolves around him; that Spock would move planets and enter black holes just to be by his side for as long as Jim will have him. Somehow, through some twist of luck, or destiny, Jim would do the same for him.

 

Spock moves. He crawls across the short distance between them to place a hand delicately on Jim’s cheek and bring Jim’s head back up so they can make eye contact once more. Tenderness guides his every movement and he feels it coursing through his bloodstream, overpowering. “ Jim,” he breathes again.

 

The tiny space between their lips could be infinite galaxies, and yet Spock would view it in the same way: just another obstacle between he and Jim that he must surmount. And he traverses that space with the same determination he’d use to traverse those galaxies, pressing cool lips to cool lips and skin to skin.

 

He feels Jim’s breath of relief against his face, stronger now they’re so close, and then Jim is pressing forward with a slight whine, hands coming up to grip at the shirt over Spock’s shoulders, his lips moving softly against Spock’s. His mind thrums beneath Spock’s hand and it would be so easy -

 

Spock allows a few more seconds of this, of Jim’s sea-salt kiss, before he pulls away from the temptation of that bright, enthralling mind. Jim’s eyes flicker open as he withdraws, and his mouth twists slightly at Spock’s retreat.

 

The pout almost draws a smile from Spock as he says soothingly, “Do not worry, ashayam. There will be plenty more opportunities for that.”

 

“You - ” Jim says, and then seems to have nothing more to add. For the first time in their acquaintance, Spock is witness to a speechless Jim Kirk, and he is grateful for his eidetic memory.

 

“I love you too,” Spock says, just because he takes special enjoyment in the way Jim’s flabbergasted expression grows, like he can’t honestly believe what he’s hearing. “I assume that is what you were attempting to tell me,” Spock continues. “Although you were hardly articulate in doing so.”

 

Jim reaches for him then, that wide Kirk smile lighting up his entire face as he presses his face into Spock’s shoulder and laughs. Their legs are touching, almost overlapping, and if this were New Vulcan then this would be public indecency. Spock does not care.

 

The laughter subsides and the human moves back into his sitting position, hands dropping to rest on Spock’s calves. Gleaming blue eyes fixate on him. The lips Spock kissed only seconds before turn upwards into a smirk.

 

“I love you,” Jim says, “you smug, self-centred dick.”

 

Spock raises an eyebrow.

 

Hardly articulate? Good luck getting another ‘I love you’ out of me, asshole. My self-confidence is forever bruised.”

 

“I’m sure your ego will survive, Captain,” Spock says dryly, and the look of adoration he gets in response is worth everything.

 

“God, I love you,” Jim says again, and looks like he might say more if it isn’t for the wave that suddenly soaks through their pants and shocks them both half to death with its coldness. With a few choice swear words, Jim struggles to get up in the shifting sand left behind by the wave, until a thoroughly amused Spock, who has not had the same difficulty, offers him a helping hand.

 

The touch, chilled as it is by the seawater and gritty from the sand, shocks through Spock’s system like electricity, and Jim looks like he’s felt the same thing, because his mouth forms a perfect ‘o’ and his fingers spasm slightly in Spock’s grip. It’s like a gate opens, slowly, because Jim’s state of being begins to trickle through the point of contact and into Spock’s mind - the cold dampness of his clothing, the ebbing adrenaline from his previous nervousness, a hint of arousal at Spock’s strength, the sheer and utter joy of being allowed this with Spock. It all filters through, layers and layers of Jim, and nothing had ever felt this good.

 

Jim flexes his hand slightly, his breathing heavy, and before Spock can even voice his fear that this mental contact might be too much, he waves the concern away. “God, Spock.” His voice is raspy, like it’s been dragged roughly out of somewhere deep within him. “I - you - ”

 

“You chose the beach because it is significant to you,” Spock says, and loosens his grip on Jim’s hand slightly to slightly diminish the link.

 

“Uh - yeah,” Jim says, and shakes his head slightly as if to bring some kind of clarity to it. His eyes are still unfocused. “I like the sound of the waves,” he says in a more hushed tone, like he’s imparting a secret. “It quiets my brain. Washes out the chaos and purifies. Figured that might come in handy if you shot me down.”

 

Spock can feel that there’s more to it than that - through their tenuous mental connection he can feel Jim’s spiralling thoughts on the ocean, how the seaside is a meeting of opposites and he is only a fleeting piece in nature’s playground. How that grounds him, keeps him cognisant of the wonders of the universe and everything out there; the planet Jim calls home despite everything it’s thrown at him. But he doesn’t say anything. Jim can already feel his understanding seeping through their tangled fingers.

 

“C’mon,” Jim says finally, and with a hint of reluctance, lets go of Spock’s hand to turn and start walking back towards the city. “Let’s go back to mine. No one’s blown my door panel off, so the door will actually lock. And you can tell me about how monogamous and deadly serious Vulcan relationships are, and I’ll reassure you that you’re everything to me, and then you can fuck me hard til neither of us can see straight.”

 

He glances over his shoulder to catch Spock’s gobsmacked expression (a twitch of his eye, a millimetre parting of his lips), and smirks. “I’ve been in your head, Mr Spock. Don’t play coy with me.”

 

The sand gives way to the concrete promenade and Jim increases their pace accordingly. Spock moves to walk side-by-side with his Captain, his ashayam, his t’hy’la, their hands brushing slightly as they walk.

 

“No matter how much I irritate you,” Jim warns him, joy barely contained in the smile he shoots Spock’s way, “you can’t take an ‘I love you’ back.”

 

Their hands brush again and Spock cannot resist linking their little fingers together. “Never, ashayam,” he murmurs, that jolt of connection, of belonging, pulsing under his skin, “never.”