“You’re actually taking shore leave, Spock?” Jim looked up from his list of shore leave participants in surprise.
All right, so it wasn’t as though Spock never took it. There was the time that Uhura had taken him with her on Risa, but they were still together then, and there’d been others when they were still together that Spock had refused to indulge in. In fact, Jim had heard Spock refer to his unpleasant time on Risa as one of the reasons he had refused others.
Spock looked at him over the rim of his teacup across the table from Jim and Bones where they say having breakfast “Indeed, Captain. It was fortuitous that Lariania, where our shore leave is, happens to be having an important geological symposium I was interested in attending.”
Bones raised both eyebrows. “Fortuitous? Do you expect us to believe it just happens to be a coincidence that the planet picked for shore leave has some fuddy duddy science convention?”
“It is a symposium.”
“I say tomato, you say tahmato. You’re ignoring my point.”
“Do you have one, doctor?”
“I do. I believe you chose the location for our shore leave, didn’t you?”
“Bones.” Jim shook his head. “I approved the choice of Lariania. And believe me, you won’t be disappointed. I’m glad there’s something of interest there for Spock.”
“Thank you, Captain.”
Bones grumbled under his breath. “There better be. Because I sure as hell don’t want to go to some rock convention.”
“The symposium is at a different hotel than the one you and the captain have selected, doctor.”
“Yeah?” Jim leaned back in his chair so that it was only on two legs. “What hotel are you staying at, Spock?”
“It is the Larianian Hilton, Captain. They have a conference center large enough to accommodate the symposium.”
“Ah, interesting. I’m not quite sure where that one is located.”
“Does it matter?” Bones asked. “Ours is conveniently located right by the turquoise Sea of the Fairies. Spectacular views. Amazing restaurants. Exciting nightlife.”
“You sound like you are reading their brochure, doctor.”
Bones grinned. “I am. I picked it myself. Not only do Jim and I have rooms there, but so do Sulu and Scotty.”
“I am hardly surprised.”
Jim rolled his eyes at Bones and turned back to Spock. “Where’s Uhura staying? Same place?”
“I am actually not privy to her plans, Captain. Indeed, she might be staying at the same hotel with you and the doctor.”
“Bridge to Captain Kirk.”
Jim flipped open his communicator. “Kirk here. Go ahead, Mister Sulu.”
“We expect make orbit with Lariania in less than an hour, Captain.”
“I’m on my way.” Jim rose. “Well, gentlemen, I hope you’re packed for four fun-filled days of shore leave.”
“Spock’s not going to have any fun,” Bones replied, falling into step with Jim. “But I sure as hell am. See you down there, Jim.”
Jim shook his head and then turned to Spock, who waited for him as they headed to the turbolift that would take them to the bridge.
“Captain, if you would have preferred that I not take shore leave—”
“No, no, Mister Spock. I approve. Absolutely.”
Yes. He approved.
“Where’s your shadow?”
Jim glanced at Bones as he sat next to his best friend at the bar of their hotel on Lariania. “Shadow?”
“The pointy-eared bastard.”
His friend sighed. “Your Vulcan.”
Jim shook his head. “Doesn’t belong to me, Bones. And he’s gone to that Science Symposium, remember?”
“Yeah, I know. I just thought he might join you here afterward.” Bones rolled his eyes. “It’s no wonder he and Uhura broke up.”
“Why they broke up is not our business.”
“I know that too. Anyway, he’s always around you, so I thought he might come along.”
“He doesn’t pick up girls.”
Bones smirked. “Is that what we’re doing?”
Jim glanced around the room. “There’s two really hot ones right over there. You want the Orion or the Caitian?”
“I’m allergic to kitties, so I’ll take the Orion.”
“Think you can handle those powerful pheromones?”
“Watch me.” Bones slid off the stool and put his hand on Jim’s arm. “Come on.”
Jim smiled. “Go on ahead without me. I have to pee.” He gestured toward the bathroom with his head.
Bones frowned. “You want me to wait?”
“No, no. You go on. I don’t need a wingman. It’s all good.”
“If you’re sure—”
Jim laughed and pushed Bones. “Go on.”
He watched his friend walk away and head in the direction of the Orion and the Caitian. He headed for the bathroom and waited for what he hoped was an appropriate amount of time. Sure enough, Bones and the Orion were gone and the Caitian sat by herself sipping a drink.
Jim approached the bar and used his credit chip to clear the tab for himself and Bones. Then without another glance at the Caitian, Jim slipped out of the bar and started to walk down the street.
He paused in front of the Hilton when he reached it. With his luck, Spock would have already gone to bed. Maybe he should use his communicator to contact him? No. He wanted to be spontaneous. Thank God, he’d been able to get rid of Bones. Talk about shadows.
Spock, of course, being the efficient first officer he was, had given Jim his hotel room number, so Jim rode up in the lift to floor nine and then down the hall to room 996.
With a deep breath, Jim knocked on the door.
It took longer than he wanted it to take for Spock to open the door, but when he did, sure enough, he wore his sleeping robe. Jim only knew this because he’d spotted Spock wearing it a time or two. Confusion flashed across Spock’s face for just a moment before disappearing.
“Spock,” Jim said, pushing past Spock into the hotel room. It occurred to him belatedly that things could get very awkward if there was someone else is Spock’s room with him, but he was relieved to see there was not.
“Captain?” Spock questioned again.
“Spock, can I stay here with you?”
Jim nodded. “There was a fire at my hotel.”
“A fire? Captain, are you all right?”
“Yes. Fine. I was just about to, well, anyway, an alarm went off and we had to evacuate. Total chaos.”
“I see,” Spock replied. “Surely, you will be allowed back to your room once—”
“It burned down.”
Spock stared at Jim, eyes wide. “Burned down?”
“Uh-huh. And, well, there are no other hotel rooms available. Everything’s booked up. Do you mind?”
“No. No, I do not mind. Of course you can stay here, Captain. Was Doctor McCoy also displaced?”
“He’s with someone he met,” Jim said with a smile.
“I see,” Spock said again.
“Were you sleeping? I’m sorry to disturb you.”
“Not yet. I was preparing to go to bed after meditating when you arrived. Your belongings—”
“That is very unfortunate. Tomorrow morning you will have to contact the ship to have something beamed down to you.”
“I will. Definitely.” Jim looked toward the bed. “Looks plenty big for both of us.”
“Go ahead and get into bed. I’ll just, um, I’ll strip down to my underwear.”
He thought he noticed Spock’s cheeks turn a light green but he’d probably imagined that. Spock dutifully got into the bed, pulling the covers up to his chin. Jim couldn’t help but smile. He was so damn cute.
Jim pulled off his shirt, noticing that Spock kept his gaze carefully averted. And really, Jim supposed he could kill the lights and still undress without any issues. But okay, he kind of loved the idea of Spock trying to avoid looking at him.
He sat on the edge of the bed, removed his shoes, and then shimmied out of his tight pants. Then he stood up just wearing his boxer briefs.
“Just get into bed, Captain.” Spock’s voice sounded strained.
“Oh. But I haven’t brushed my teeth.”
“You can replicate a toothbrush in the bathroom.”
Jim walked to the bathroom much slower than he probably needed to, and he couldn’t really turn around to see if Spock looked, but well, he certainly hoped so.
Then, having taken care of the important stuff, Jim exited the bathroom. Spock was facing away from him, unfortunately. He patted over to the bed.
“Need anything before I get into bed, Spock?”
Jim pulled back the covers and slipped into the bed next to Spock. “Computer, lights out.”
And the room was shrouded in darkness.
“Are you certain you are all right, Captain?”
“Uh. Sure. Yeah. Why?”
“You sound…rather cheerful for someone who has just experienced a traumatic fire.”
“Oh. Well. Everyone got out, you know, so it’s not, it wasn’t so bad.” He moistened his lips nervously.
“Ah. Yes. Good.”
“How is the Symposium?” Jim asked, desperate to keep Spock talking while he worked up some nerve.
Spock turned over in the bed to face him, and even though it was dark, Jim could see the outline of his face. “It is interesting.”
He smiled. “Not fascinating?”
“It has not yet reached that level, but there is much more to come.”
“Yeah? I, uh, I thought maybe I’d go to some of it, maybe, with you, if you wanted, or I mean, didn’t mind.”
There was a long pause.
Then Spock said, “I believe you would find it of value. You have always liked to learn.”
“Liked to learn?” Jim scoffed. “I was top of my class at the Academy!”
“Yes, you were an adequate student.”
Jim laughed. “Adequate. Don’t bowl me over with the compliments, Spock.”
Spock shrugged. “You were indeed an adequate student. Excepting of course your foray into obtaining a passing grade on the Kobayashi Maru through unethical means.”
“Of course,” Jim said dryly. “Am I an adequate captain too?”
Jim sighed. “There aren’t any tests and stuff at this symposium, is there?”
“Negative. Lectures and demonstrations. You would have enjoyed one such demonstration done earlier today where they demonstrated the explosive quality of rocks native to Delta Nova.”
“That does sound cool,” Jim whispered. He scooted closer to Spock and then quite deliberately touched Spock’s hand. His breath hitched when, instead of pulling away, Spock curled his hand around Jim’s until they were holding hands in the dark. “Spock?”
He leaned in closer until their lips almost touched. “There was no hotel fire.”
“I suspected as much.”
Jim swallowed. “I came up with that as an excuse to come here and seduce you.”
“There was no need to go to such elaborate methods and you did not need to seduce me.”
“An indicated interest would have been sufficient.”
“Oh, I’m interested.”
“Yes,” Spock murmured. “I surmised.”