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You Could Call It Love

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He tried to keep his smile friendly but politely distant, warm but not suggestive at all, and it was much more difficult than he had thought. He knew the woman wanted to kiss him. He saw it in her eyes. Okay, once or twice when he had been younger he had tried to talk to Bones about how he could somehow tell from a woman’s eyes if they wanted to kiss him, and Bones had glared at him and claimed that he thought every woman in the galaxy wanted to kiss him, dammit Jim. But he was older now and possibly slightly wiser too, and he was absolutely certain that the fourth princess of the planet Galogonia wanted to kiss him.

He kept his distance. Once or twice during their meetings he slipped to the smile he used when he really wanted someone to kiss him, but he corrected his mistake immediately every time and tried his best to look like he had been smiling at the wall instead. He was doing quite well. And it was infuriating because the mission itself was the worst, exactly the kind he hadn’t missed even if he had missed everything else from their first five-year mission. It meant endless dinners and diplomatic discussions and he had a vague feeling that if he only could have kissed the princess, the whole thing would have been solved in no time at all.

When they finally got the diplomats out of the ship, Jim took a few deep breaths and then spent almost two hours in the gym until he felt far too hot in his red exercise pants. He walked through the corridors back to his quarters hoping so much that the next mission wouldn’t include diplomats, and preferably not beautiful women of any sort. The door opened and he almost walked into Spock, who was standing in the middle of the room, hands folded behind his back.

“Spock,” he said and tugged at his red pants. He really needed to get to the shower. “You look serious. Is something wrong?”

“Negative,” Spock said and blinked, “Jim. You did not kiss that woman.”

Jim sighed. Spock really looked like he was going to talk about this and preferably right now. “No, I didn’t.”

“She attempted to signal you that she was willing to kiss you. You interpreted her signals correctly. It would have been sufficient for our mission if you had kissed her as she wished.”

“Well, you’re probably right about all that.”

“Also, you wished to kiss her.”

“Spock –“

“You refrained from it because of me.”

“Well,” Jim said and stepped closer. He wished he had been wearing his uniform for this conversation, or at least a shirt of some kind, but then again, he had proposed to Spock without pants. “Yeah, I did it because of you. I married you so that we can be here, together. I’m not going to go kissing other people and ruin this.”

“I would not get transferred to another assignment even if you did kiss someone else and, as you might say, get caught.”

“No kissing,” he said and took a hold of Spock’s arms so that Spock would stop subtly avoiding his gaze, “I’m not going to go kissing people behind your back. And not in front of your face either. You know that.”

“Jim,” Spock said in a rather low voice, “you enjoy kissing.”

“Well, I enjoy this more,” Jim said and let go of Spock’s left arm so that he could gesture vaguely at both of them.  Spock raised an eyebrow at him. “Us. I enjoy us more. Can I go to take a shower now?”

“There is no apparent obstacle for that, Jim,” Spock said. “However –“

Jim sighed deeply. He had already taken a few steps towards the bathroom. “Spock, I’m sweaty all over and I’m wearing my exercise pants. You can’t possibly want to keep me from that shower.”

“I do not mind your outfit nor your current state, Jim. I only wish to state that…”

“Yes?” Jim said when Spock was still staring at him and not speaking. Maybe Spock had finally realized how ridiculous Jim looked at the moment.

“It would be… highly illogical to ask you to refrain from something that clearly gives you enjoyment,” Spock said in a concentrated tone.

Jim rubbed his eyes and then regretted it when he got sweat into his eyes. “So, do you want me to kiss other people?”

Spock frowned at him in a way that hinted the man really disapproved of Jim asking that. “No, I do not. However –“

“It’s so practical that you can’t lie, Spock,” Jim said and tilted his head. “Come here.”

“Here?”

“Just do it,” he said and watched as Spock took a few steps towards him and stopped right in front of him. He placed one of his uncomfortably sweaty hands on Spock’s shoulder and one he kept lingering in the air right beside Spock’s face. “May I?”

“Specify your question,” Spock said with wide eyes, “please.”

“Would you mind if I kissed you, Mr. Spock?”

He saw Spock swallowing. “Captain, I am not familiar with the procedure.”

“I am,” he said. “I ask that you step away now if you don’t want me to… well, you know.”

Spock held his place. Jim placed his right hand gently onto Spock’s neck and Spock flinched but still stared at Jim like daring him to believe that absolutely nothing was going to make Spock walk away right now. Jim leaned in and kissed the corner of Spock’s mouth as gently as he could.

When Jim pulled his hands away and stepped back, Spock was watching him, one eyebrow raised and mouth slightly ajar.

“That was,” Spock said and swallowed, “that was a highly illogical line of action, Captain.”

“Well, you were talking about kissing,” Jim said, “and now I really have to get to the shower.”

This time Spock didn’t stop him. He walked to the bathroom, pulled away his pants and let the water run over him, and then he realized that he had kissed Spock. Fucking hell. He had kissed Spock. He had kissed Spock. He pressed the tips of his fingers onto his mouth and then drew them away, because damn he had absolutely no idea why he had kissed Spock and it wouldn’t help at all that he was tracing the line of his lips with his fingers and trying to remember what the kiss had felt like. Spock had been surprised, of course, or maybe logically confused or something like that, and hadn’t inched under Jim’s touch, but also Jim was pretty sure that Spock hadn’t minded. Well, he had tried to ask Spock. And Spock would never lie to him. And Spock wouldn’t stay in place and let Jim kiss himself if he didn’t want that. Surely he wouldn’t.

Oh fucking hell. Jim showered as quickly as he could and then realized he didn’t have the guts to go back to the room where Spock would be waiting for him, probably wanting to know what the hell Jim had just done and why. He leaned against the cold bathroom wall until he was getting very cold himself. Then he wrapped the towel tightly around his waist and opened the door.

Spock was standing right where Jim had left him.

“Spock,” he said and cleared his throat.

“Jim,” Spock said. Jim drew a deep breath. At least Spock wasn’t angry, he could tell that from the man’s voice.

“Listen,” he said and walked to Spock, and when he got there, he took a step back so that Spock wouldn’t have to worry about him kissing the man again out of the blue. Spock tilted his head to the right and looked like he was desperately trying to calculate the pattern of Jim’s actions. Jim opened his mouth and tried to say something, anything, but he couldn’t figure out what the hell that could be. He had kissed Spock.

“Jim, I believe that you are concerned about my reaction,” Spock said finally in his calm, considering voice that made Jim immediately feel slightly better. “I must say that I fail to see the logic in your previous act. However, if I was asked to guess, I would estimate that perhaps you were trying to somehow reassure me considering the subject we had been discussing. Your way of communication is, as I very well know, often illogical but fascinating.”

Fascinating, Jim thought and swallowed, Spock wasn’t calling the kiss fascinating, surely he wasn’t, Jim was just tired and confused and a little bit angry with himself because he had just kissed Spock. “So, you aren’t upset with me, are you?”

“Negative,” Spock said, watching him, “Jim.”

“Good,” he said and breathed out, “good. I think… I think your guess was quite good.”

“Jim, you are badly repeating yourself.”

“I know. I don’t know what to say. I was... a bit out of line.”

Spock raised an eyebrow.

“I’m worried that… it wasn’t a nice thing that I did. To you. Earlier. When I…”

“When you kissed me.”

“Yes,” Jim said and almost laughed out. He was really bad at this whole talking about kissing with your husband kind of a thing they were doing. It was probably good that he was alone with Spock and Spock would never tell anyone how clumsily his captain had addressed the topic. “Yes, that’s what I meant.”

“I am not certain whether nice is the right word,” Spock said, “but I trust that you acted out of kindness towards me as you always do. Jim, is there a problem with your mouth? Do you require medical care?”

Oh shit, he was tracing his lips with his fingers again. He drew his hand away as quickly as he could and then grabbed his own wrist so that he wouldn’t do anything like that ever again, not tonight at least. Spock looked almost amused but perhaps it was because of the light.

“No,” he said, “definitely not. I’m really… not in my best shape today.”

“I have no objections,” Spock said infuriatingly calmly.

“If you don’t mind,” Jim said, “I would like to go to bed now. Maybe sleeping will fix this.”

“I am rather certain that sleeping will not fix your personality, Jim, and I am glad about that.”

“I didn’t mean that,” he said although that was exactly what he meant. Maybe he would wake up the next morning being a complete different person, preferably someone who didn’t go kissing their first officer and now also husband without a warning. Although he had actually warned Spock. And Spock hadn’t objected. But he wouldn’t think about that now, definitely not, nor would he think about how brief the kiss had been, he had barely touched the corner of Spock’s mouth – fucking hell he was thinking about it again.

“Jim?”

“I need to get to the bed,” he said and realized he still had the towel wrapped around his waist, and Spock was watching him. There was no chance that he would go naked right in front of Spock’s face, not now. “If you could excuse me –“

“Would you like that I go elsewhere?”

“Of course not,” he said quickly, shit, “just stay where you are. I’ll just go to the bathroom and –“

“I assure you that if you do not wish me to see you, you only need to tell me. As a Vulcan, I am fully capable of refraining from taking a peek as you might say.”

Jim opened his mouth, closed it and walked to the bathroom as fast as he could. When he got back, he felt slightly better. Spock had changed into his full-body underwear that covered pretty much everything besides his head, and Jim stared at him and then at anything else and then again at him, because surely Spock’s outfit had always been that tight. He must have noticed it before. There was absolutely no reason why he should realize only now that he could actually see the shape of, well, the shape of everything that was underneath.

“Okay,” he said and turned around. He definitely couldn’t be trusted today. “I’m just going to… good night, Spock.”

“I find myself rather tired, too, Jim,” Spock said, “so if you do not mind, I will join you.”

Jim breathed in and out. “You want to go to sleep? Now?”

“Is there a problem?”

“Absolutely not,” Jim said and climbed to the bed. He lay down where he always did, only usually Spock was still meditating or even elsewhere researching something when he went to bed.

“Fine,” Spock said and lay down beside him. He held his breath. Spock glanced at him and then turned his back at him, and he realized he was squeezing the sheets into his fists. This was really bad. If sleeping didn’t fix him, he would have to go to Bones and ask if there was something for impossibly stupid behavior around your own husband.

“Good night, Jim,” Spock said when Jim was still trying to steady his breath and stop being an idiot. It wasn’t going very well.

“Good night, Spock,” Jim said and closed his eyes.


**


“I kissed him,” he said and wondered why Bones didn’t look more surprised. He thought he had said it clearly. “I kissed him, Bones.”

“Yeah,” Bones said and sat down in his chair, “I heard you the first four times.”

“I kissed him,” Jim said and then took a deep breath. “I really kissed him, Bones. I kissed Spock.

“Well, all things considered I think you could have chosen worse. I don’t know if you remember but you two are married.”

“And I don’t have a clue why I did it,” Jim said and sat down, “absolutely none.”

“Well,” Bones said, “you’ve always been kind of an idiot.”

“I thought I had a reason. I really did. It had something to do with proving a point. I was trying to make a point, like… he was asking me why I didn’t kiss that woman.”

“The fourth princess? I’m glad you didn’t kiss her. She was eyeing you like she wanted to have your brown-eyed babies and that might have caused a diplomatic conflict.”

“I think I tried to show him that kissing isn’t that important,” Jim said, “because he was being guilty about me not kissing other people, he said I enjoy it, and I tried to… what the fuck did I try to do, Bones?”

“I honestly don’t know, Jim, so there’s nothing new under the sun.”

“Or perhaps I tried to tell him that I could kiss him. But it can’t be that, because I didn’t marry him to get to kiss him, I married him so that no one could separate us.”

“Jim,” Bones said, “you seem really stressed about this. Maybe I should check your pulse.”

“There’s nothing wrong with my pulse,” Jim said and then bit his lip, “Bones, my heart is beating pretty fast.  Maybe I’ve caught something. I just hope it isn’t a flu because I don’t want to go sneezing around.”

“Jim, your heart is racing because you’re panicking,” Bones said, “calm down. You managed to marry him with only panicking a little in the shuttle when we were getting there. There’s no reason for you to realize now what kind of a mess you’ve managed to build up.”

“But I kissed him,” Jim said and breathed in. He had managed to live through his shift being only slightly anxious. He had kept glancing at Spock and Spock had stared back at him with a calm face that didn’t seem to imply at all that Jim had just done something very weird. He kind of wished that Spock would have panicked a little so that he himself wouldn’t have felt so stupid about it. And then his shift had been finally over and he had walked straight to the sickbay and asked friendly and not desperately at all Nurse Chapel to please go somewhere else while he would talk with the doctor.

He really wasn’t talking, though. He didn’t know what there was to say. He had no idea why he had done it and the only thing that he was sure of was that he had kissed Spock. And perhaps he hadn’t really listened to what Bones had said to him in the last five minutes.

“Bones?”

“I’m glad to see that you remember I’m here,” Bones said and sighed deeply. “So, what does Spock think? And did you just kiss him and surprise him or did you ask him first?”

“I asked. I’m pretty sure I said that I’m going to kiss him and asked that he would kindly step away if he didn’t want me to.”

“Okay,” Bones said very slowly, “so Spock wanted you to kiss him.”

“No,” Jim said and then frowned.

“No?” Bones repeated. His eyebrows looked very frustrated.

“Well,” Jim said slowly, “I can see how it could look like he did. But of course he didn’t.”

“Did he object?”

“No,” Jim said, “although he really didn’t kiss me back, he just –“

“Dammit, Jim, don’t you dare to tell me what Spock did when you kissed –“

“He didn’t do anything.”

“Well, that sounds like Spock,” Bones said and crossed his arms over his chest. “Jim, I will regret this as soon as I do it, but as your doctor, I just have to ask you. Did you like kissing him?”

Jim blinked. “You can’t ask me that.”

“I can,” Bones said, “and I did. Now tell me.”

“I just kind of touched his mouth. With my mouth.”

“Sounds like a kiss to me.”

“But it was very brief. Maybe he didn’t even notice.”

“Jim, for fuck’s sake,” Bones said, “you’re even more out of control than you usually are. So, you kissed him and liked it. It could be worse.”

“I didn’t say that I liked it.”

Bones sighed and raised both of his eyebrows.

“It was over so quickly. I couldn’t possibly know if I liked it or not.”

“Fine,” Bones said, “I’ll just say this very slowly. If you wanted to kiss Spock and Spock wanted you to kiss him, there’s really no problem except that you’re a bit surprised about what happened.  Maybe you could now go to talk to Spock or something.”

“I can’t talk to Spock about this.”

“Just get out of my sickbay already. It’s like you’ve been here for hours.”

“Fine,” Jim said and stood up, “but Bones, can you believe, I kissed Spock –“

“I actually can,” Bones said. “See you later.”

I don’t know what I’m doing, Jim thought as he walked through corridors towards their quarters where he didn’t dare to go right now because Spock might be there. Then luckily Uhura called him from the bridge and said there was an unidentified object floating in space and he went to the bridge and found that Spock was already there. The object turned out to be a very imaginative holiday shuttle and they realized quite soon they didn’t want to know more about it. Jim kept sitting in his chair for another hour just to be safe until Spock stopped beside him.

“What is it, Mr. Spock?” Jim said and tried very carefully not to look at him.

“You are not on a shift nor am I. There is currently no reason for neither of us to be on the bridge.”

“Something could happen,” he said and waved towards the space that seemed totally peaceful and non-surprising at the moment.

“Captain,” Spock said in a low voice, “I ask that you accompany me to our quarters.”

Jim swallowed. Sulu and Chekov changed a quick glance but it was so subtle he wasn’t going to mention it. It had been quite clear for some time that his crew was going to keep glancing at each other and there was nothing he could do about that. “Mr. Spock, I am needed here.”

“You really aren’t, Captain,” Uhura said from behind his back. “Just go with him. You two clearly need some alone time.”

Jim definitely didn’t want to be alone with Spock. He was going to tell Lieutenant Uhura that her job didn’t involve commenting on the captain’s love life but luckily he realized on time that he couldn’t say the word love when Spock was standing right beside him. Also he had apparently blushed.

“Captain,” Spock said.

“Fine,” Jim said, “fine. I’ll go.”

He walked to the turbolift. Spock followed him. Uhura was surely watching them with a smile that was far too curious, but Jim wouldn’t think about that now. He had more urgent problems like the fact that he was now standing in the lift and Spock was right there.

Spock didn’t say a word until they were on the deck five. Jim walked to their quarters and then took a deep breath and froze again, because of course Spock was still with him. He walked to the nearest chair, sat down and covered his face with his palms.

“Captain?” Spock asked in a somewhat worried voice.

“It’s about the kiss,” Jim said and stared at Spock. “I can’t believe I kissed you. I’m freaking out.”

“That,” Spock said, “is completely unnecessary and also –“

“Illogical.”

“Yes.”

“But,” Jim said and swallowed, “why did I do it? And why did you let me?”

Spock frowned. Jim let his hands fall into his lap and straightened his back. Spock was watching him with a patient look in his eyes, like there was absolutely no chance at all that Jim would have done something so stupid it couldn’t be fixed. Jim breathed in and tried to concentrate. It was kind of incredibly lucky that he had Spock with him, really, because no one else could have been so calm about getting kissed out of the blue.

“Jim, I have considered your questions and I find them surprisingly difficult to answer.”

“What questions?” he said and then remembered. “Oh. Of course you don’t know why I did it. I don’t know either. Maybe I was just curious.”

Spock raised an eyebrow at him. “That indeed is a distinct feature in your personality, Jim.”

“I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“I believe you are more upset than I am.”

“You’re right,” Jim said, “of course you’re right. You’re always right. Spock, could we just forget this?”

“I do not intend to forget what happened,” Spock said in a serious tone, “but I am willing to refrain from addressing the topic if you wish so. However, I wish that the next time you are experiencing a distressful emotional outburst regarding something that considers the two of us, you would discuss it with me.”

“I didn’t know how to. Sorry. And I didn’t want to… bother you with it.”

“You are welcome to, and I quote you with this, bother me,” Spock said and then paused, looking concentrated like he usually did when he was considering something very scientific and very difficult, “because I like you, Jim.”

Jim blinked. “You what?”

“I wish you would not make me repeat myself,” Spock said, “as you know how culturally difficult it is for me to make a statement like that. I was barely trying to comfort you in a way that I believe is customable for humans.”

“Of course,” he said and stood up. Perhaps he should squeeze Spock’s shoulders just to show that everything was going to be alright. “Sorry. It worked really well, though. I was so surprised that I forgot what I was so upset about.”

“You were upset because you are uncertain of why you kissed me.”

Jim laughed out. Spock looked a little disapproving but didn’t seem to mind when he walked to the man and placed his palms onto Spock’s shoulders. “Well, thank you for reminding me, Mr. Spock. Would you like to play a round of chess?”

“Affirmative,” Spock said eyeing him carefully.

He took a step back. “Great.”

He almost managed not to think about kissing Spock when they were playing. When Spock declared that he had just won, Jim realized he was currently tracing his lips with the tip of his tongue. He pressed his mouth tightly shut and Spock watched him with that patient, fairly amused but also quite gentle look that he only had when he was looking at Jim. Maybe it was because Spock liked him.

“Mr. Spock,” Jim said a little later, when he had somehow managed to play himself into a quite good situation and Spock was considering his next move, “I like you.”

Spock blinked and stared at him. He smiled. He also won that round.


**


He knew it was a trap but he was too comfortable sitting exactly where he was, watching Spock’s subtle hints of frustration or amusement over the table as someone in the rec room one said something exceptionally illogical. Also, he was pretty sure that their shoes were touching under the table. He didn’t want to move his feet to check if he was right, because then Spock might have pulled his away.

“Captain,” Uhura said with a smile that surely was a warning sign and sat down next to Jim. Spock raised an eyebrow at him. He stared at Spock and tried to tell the man silently that yes, he knew he should go right now and no, he wouldn’t, because really it couldn’t be that bad.

“Yes?” he said and turned to look at Uhura.

“Since none of us is on a shift right now,” Uhura said and winked, oh shit this was a mistake, “I was just wondering if you wanted to tell the whole story.”

Jim swallowed. “The whole story of what?”

Spock looked like he couldn’t believe how oblivious Jim was.

“The whole story of you and Mr. Spock,” Uhura said, “you know, it’s been seven years since our first five-year mission began, so we’ve been waiting for the two of you to get together for seven years. It would be very nice to hear how it happened.”

Jim took a deep breath and looked at Spock. Spock tilted his head to the right.

“That is a logical question, Captain,” Spock said.

Jim cleared his throat. “Excuse me, Mr. Spock?”

“Of course,” Spock said, “you may very well state that whatever happened is, how should I say it, private. However, I suppose it is logical that they are curious about the proceeding of... happenings.”

Jim tried to tell Spock with his eyes that later he would kill Spock for this, or of course he wouldn’t kill Spock but he would wear his best captain look and stare at Spock until the man flinched or something. And the he would beat Spock’s ass in chess, possibly multiple times. But Spock was almost smiling at him now, in his completely serious manner of course. Jim should probably consider the possibility that maybe Spock enjoyed seeing him sweating in his suddenly very tight shirt.

“Well,” he said and breathed in and out but everyone was still waiting, “it is private.”

“Oh, Captain,” Uhura said, “we aren’t asking what you do in that pretty room of yours. But if you wanted to share something with us, like, maybe your first kiss?”

Jim was blushing. It was absolutely unfair. He was thirty-nine years old and a starship captain and he was blushing, and Spock was sitting right in front of him and would surely notice, as would everyone else in the room.

“Our first kiss?” he asked in a surprisingly weak voice.

“Lieutenant Uhura,” Spock said in a perfectly calm voice, “my observations seem to imply that the topic you have required is making the captain quite uncomfortable.”

“I knew it would,” Uhura said and smiled at Jim, “sorry, Captain. It’s just that we all care so much about you two.”

If you cared about me, Jim thought a little bitterly, you’d let me get the hell out of here and bury myself and my blushed face into my own bed. But he really shouldn’t have thought about his bed because that was where he slept beside Spock every night, and wasn’t that weird, except that it kind of wasn’t anymore.

“As the captain is seemingly occupied considering something,” Spock said, “probably something that affects the safety of this ship, maybe I might answer your question, Lieutenant.”

“Of course, Mr. Spock.”

Spock was looking at Jim. Jim was looking at Spock. Everyone else in the room was probably looking at them, although Jim couldn’t be sure because he didn’t dare risk glancing around.

“Our first kiss,” Spock said in a tone that would have been perfectly fine for discussing the physics of time warps, “occurred in circumstances quite surprising and sudden. As you all might estimate to be highly probable, the captain made the first move. I believe that is a correct human term. The whole occurrence was quite fascinating.”

Jim blinked. Spock raised an eyebrow at him. He opened his mouth and tried to say something but found that he couldn’t. Also, the whole room had gone silent.

Oh,” Uhura said finally. She sounded like she was going to either laugh or cry but couldn’t decide. “Oh, Spock.”

“Yes,” Jim said slowly, “oh, Spock.

“Captain, if I may now ask you to accompany me to our private quarters,” Spock said.

Jim stood up. His knees were still steady so this is was actually going quite well, all things considered. He nodded at Uhura who was still smiling. He would find something that would make her drop that smile, he totally would, maybe he could make up a new language and then ask Uhura to translate it. He followed Spock out of the room and then took a deep breath the second they were in the corridor.

“I’m blushing, aren’t I?”

“Yes, you are, Jim,” Spock said, staring straight ahead, “badly.”

“You didn’t just -,” Jim said and then bit his lip, because surely he couldn’t say you didn’t just tell them about our first kiss.

“It is, as I said, logical for them to be curious. However,” Spock said in a tone with a hint of worry, “I wish you are not angry.”

“No,” Jim said, “I’m not angry. I’m just… you just told them.”

“It seemed to be a logical thing to do,” Spock said. He sounded subtly relieved.

“There’s nothing logical about this and you know it, Mr. Spock,” Jim said and then sighed. The corridors were empty and he was pretty optimistic about that his crew wouldn’t eavesdrop their captain’s private conversations through the monitoring system. “You made it sound like a real kiss.”

“Define a real kiss, please.

“I can’t define that, I’d have to show -,” Jim said and then placed a palm onto his mouth. Shit.

“Jim?” Spock said and stopped in front of their quarters. The doors slid open.

Jim walked straight in. “Nothing. Just nothing.”

“You were about to define a real kiss.

“No, I wasn’t,” Jim said and swallowed. “You’ll know. Or maybe you won’t, I don’t know, though actually I think I should know because we’re… married. Stop me, Spock, I don’t know what I’m saying.”

Spock raised an eyebrow at him.

“Maybe you’re right,” Jim said, and he was getting all blushed again but what the hell, Spock wouldn’t mind anyway, “maybe you’re right and it was a… real kiss. I surely spent the whole next day panicking like a teenager who had just, well, kissed someone for the first time. So, that should mean something, shouldn’t it?”

“Jim,” Spock said in a calm tone, “I haven’t researched the subject. I would not know.”

“Could we just play a round of chess or something?” Jim said. “Please?”

“That is acceptable,” Spock said.

Jim had to take his shirt off because he was still blushing and still too hot and certainly it was because the room was so warm and not because Spock was watching him over the chess board. He undressed his undershirt as well and Spock didn’t seem to mind. Soon after Spock went to pick up the duvet from the bed and got himself wrapped in it. Jim wondered if he might help with that but it seemed impolite to ask. They played four rounds of chess and probably were quite happy.