As much as Jim wanted to drop his forehead to the bar beside Bones and drink himself into into oblivion with the world’s best partner for encouraging alcoholism, he was a grown ass man, not a child. He was trying to convince the Center that he didn’t need a Sentinel babysitter to keep psionically safe while he was out on a five-year mission, and getting wasted the second things didn’t go his way wasn’t going to prove his point. Naively, he’d thought his three-year stint on the Farragut had been enough to prove to the Center that he didn’t need a minder when he was out doing his damn job, but the Center got to be fickle and no one on the entire planet wanted to call them on it.
“I take it your meeting didn’t go that well?” Bones asked, not bothering to offer to share his drink.
“They offered their full support behind my posting to the Enterprise, with a few stipulations.”
“And what would those be?”
Jim rolled his head over on the thankfully clean countertop just enough to look up at Bones. “You have to stay on as my doctor and if you leave the Enterprise or get incapacitated then I have to be treated by someone else with your level of experience. If that’s unavailable, I come back to Earth.”
Bones looked irritated at how reasonable the demands were. “There’s not many people in the Fleet with my level of experience with Guides, and frankly the interfering bastards should be more worried about you getting treated by someone who’s got less experience with your allergies than I do, but that’s not bad.”
“It’s not. And them wanting a live chat any time we can get a connection isn’t too bad either.”
“What’s the problem then?” Pike asked. And really, for a guy who psionic abilities were supposedly off the charts, Jim couldn’t understand how Pike could sneak up on him like that. The man popped up between them at the bar, waving the bartender away with a smile so charming the lady nearly tripped over her own two feet at the sight of it.
When Jim had complained about Pike sneakiness to some of the other Guides – and that for as much as Jim liked sex it grossed him the hell out to see Pike flirting with people – they had theorized that Jim could pick up on the unadulterated, paternal love Chris had for him. It meant that psionically Jim knew Pike was safe, so he didn’t try and stop himself when the truth came spilling out. “They want me to bond, Chris.”
Pike stiffened like he was ready to turn the Enterprise’s guns on the Center. “That shit’s illegal, Jim.”
Jim psionically soothed him with the mental equivalent of running his fingers through Pike’s hair before he could run off and blow Starfleet’s relationship with the Center all to hell along with his career. “Not a full bond, just like training wheels.”
“You hated that shit when you were a teenager and actually needed it, why would they think you need it now?”
“It’s a five year mission to the ass end of uncharted space, Chris,” Bones interrupted. “I’ve been going over everyone on the crew manifest and seeing if any of them might be good for Jim to ground himself on if shit goes wrong.”
“Why? You said you’d be fine, Jim.” Shit like this was why Jim let Chris fuss over him when anyone else he would’ve ripped to pieces for asking. The poor man sounded so genuinely concerned, both for Jim’s health and that Jim might’ve been lying to him about potential trouble.
“I will be, Chris! Bones is just being paranoid.”
Bones rolled his eyes. “I’m the CMO you idiot, it’s my job to paranoid about the kind of shit that you people can get into when you’re running around uncharted planets, catching all manner of diseases and getting into shit from your own stupidity.”
Jim just gave Chris a look, and though he pursed his lips, the Captain nodded. “Yeah, so a little fussy but not outside the realm of possibility.”
“Look, I’ll admit that I might need to take a day off for meditation every now and then, but it’s no different then when other people get colds. It won’t affect the running of the ship.”
“Yeah Jim, because that’s what I’m concerned about. My schedule.”
Jim had the grace to blush. “It’ll be fine and I’ll be fine, Chris. I’ll talk the Center around to something less stupid. I mean, the Sentinel they proposed has never even been off Earth and they’re trying to send her on a five-year mission? I’ll spend all my time keeping her senses balanced and not doing my job.” Judging by Chris’ expression he thought that was exactly what the Center intended, and his opinion only would’ve gotten worse if he’d seen the leggy blonde they were trying to force on Jim. (And yes, he’d been tempted to sleep with her for the fun of it, but no, he wasn’t stupid enough to stick his dick in someone who would probably move heaven and earth to lure him into a bond.)
“Didn’t Bones just fake an illness for you to get you on the Farragut?” Pike grumbled.
“No, Bones actually infected me with the Bolian Flu. Nobody argues with a doctor when their patient has hands the size of hubcaps.”
“So do that again.”
“OK, as nice as it is that you think my immune system can just bounce back when Bones gives me shit like that, the S/G Center won’t accept that a second time. They didn’t do any follow up on me because I was listed as in Bones’ medical care, which they assumed was the two of us drinking. By the time they realized I wasn’t on Earth anymore the Farragut was in a firefight, we lost the Chief Tactical Officer, and I’d been promoted on a ship dealing with border disputes with the Romulans. It takes a special confluence of events to get Starfleet to tell the S/G Center to fuck off, and that was one of them. If I hadn’t been good at my job Starfleet might’ve sent me back anyway just to shut the Center up.”
“But you were good, and that’s why I want you.”
Praise from Pike always pinged hard at the pleasure center of Jim’s brain and he gave the man a grateful shoulder squeeze. “Don’t worry, Pike, I’ll work it out.”
“You know, if you really someone to ground your emotions on out there Jim, I’ll find someone who’ll fit the bill.” Pike went on to explain that pretty much anyone could be made useful on a starship, even if it was just helping out in the commissary or cataloguing things for botany, and even the world’s most useless person would be worth getting Jim on his boat. They were all really nice words and some part of Jim logged them down to say thank you later, but the rest of Jim’s brain was really more interested in the Vulcan who just walked in the door.
He was tall and lean, with pretty little points to his ears and hair that Jim wanted to bury his fingers in so he could mess it up. All that pretty wrapping was just a plus, because the Vulcan’s mind reminded Jim of the lake where he spent a summers when he was a kid, smooth as glass. Or maybe it was like standing in the middle of a corn field at dawn before the wind started to blow, or the time he drove into the desert on his bike, nothing but endless sky above him and the silent earth beneath his feet. Either way, Jim wanted to roll around in that mind and poke into every nook and cranny until he had the perfect words to describe it, then find out more and realize it was all wrong and start over again. It would be a lifetime of study that Jim was looking forward to.
Right in Jim’s ear, and in a voice not nearly quiet enough, Pike said, “That would be Spock. He would be the only Vulcan to ever join Starfleet and I want him for my Chief Science Officer. He hasn’t said yes yet, Jim.” Pike didn’t tell Jim to keep it in his pants, but his tone mean he didn’t want the dramatic aftermath played out on his ship. Though a Vulcan probably wouldn’t try and set Jim’s apartment on fire the way some of the other ex’s had. Jim had the ability to make even the most well-negotiated one-nigh-stands go haywire, but that wasn’t going to be a problem here. There would be no awkward morning after because this Vulcan was going to be the rest of his life.
Jim left Chris behind to his sighs and didn’t even have to lure the Vulcan away from Number One as she tried to usher him away from the sea of boisterous, half-drunk future Enterprise crew Instead, Spock responded to Jim’s single-minded attention with a raised eyebrow. Jim was pretty sure he was supposed to feel judged by that expression, but really, it just made Jim want to climb into Spock’s lap and see if the Vulcan could remain as impassive when Jim was grinding against him.
Jim recognized that Number One was introducing him with the dry sort of exhaustion she always assumed with people who got her captain in trouble, but it was Bones shoulder-checking him that brought Jim out of the fantasy playing full screen in his head. “You’ll have to excuse Jim, he’s an idiot. Leonard McCoy, I’ll be the CMO on this stupid little adventure.” Bones lifted his hand into a perfect ta’al and Number One waived them towards towards a side table where Spock could observe the crew she was trying to convince him to join while not getting any messy uninhibited emotions all over him.
Spock broke eye contact long enough to find his way into a chair and went straight back to staring at Jim, even though his words were for Bones. “To describe a five-year mission into uncharted space as a ‘little adventure’ is inaccurately diminutive.”
“If Bones pretends it’s like a jaunt down the street then he’ll be less terrified of going.”
“If the Doctor is displeased with his assignment on the Enterprise there is an appeals process to avoid assignment.”
“Spock,” Jim stepped leaned and took Spock by his clothing-covered forearm. “Bones just likes to complain.” Spock was pure muscle, and it took Jim a moment to realize the reason he could feel it was because Spock had seized up at the touch. “Sorry.”
“Apologies are unnecessary. Your touch was simply unexpected. You are a Guide.”
“You can feel that through your clothes?”
“Each telepathic species has a different psionic profile, as I am sure you are aware. Even when you are not actively projecting, your species is easily distinguishable from average Humans”
“Sentinels and Guides are Human.” Bones said, offended on Jim’s behalf.
“If we’re being technical, I’m a sub-species, Bones. Did you know, there was actually a big debate in the 20th century about whether or not Sentinel and Guides really were a different species from the rest of Humanity? It was tangled up in those arguments people were making about different races being different species and all that stupidity.”
“It is my understanding that many of the members of the terrorist organization, Earth First, have espoused a similar rhetoric regarding Sentinels and Guides and their value to Earth’s society in what is characterized as the struggle against other members of the Federation and their influence on Terra.”
Even if Spock hadn’t been so fucking pretty, Jim would’ve wanted to kiss just for even knowing about the Earth First movement, and even more for having the guts to call them terrorists. Starfleet was still calling them ‘protestors’ and it made Jim want to scream. “Those bastards value Sentinels more than Guides. They want us to go back to when Guides were just slaves there to keep Sentinel from getting lost in their senses.”
“Presumably the arrival of technology that could perform all the same tasks as a Sentinel’s heightened senses would render Sentinels of less value than a properly calibrated scanner.”
“Exactly. Our importance as Sentinels and Guides kind of leveled out when Terrans were still planet-bound, but technology was everyplace so heightened senses could be convenient when they weren’t crippling, and Guides still did what they always did. But then we started interacting with other species with their own mental gifts. They say Betazoid almost refused to join the Federation because the Guide in the pairing their Ambassador interacted with was actually unhappy with the match but had powered through since they were genetically perfect for one another. The Betazoid ambassador considered it psionic abuse and it nearly broke their relationship with Earth. Betazoid still isn’t thrilled with us because Sentinels and Guides so rarely leave our home world.”
“‘Thrilled’? Is that what we’re calling it now, Jimmy?” Bones interrupted. He grabbed Jim’s shoulder and pulled him back against the chair, away from where he’d been leaning all up into Spock’s space. “When we were on Tellar Prime the Betazoid Ambassador crawled into your lap. Captain April had to pull out his Dad voice to get the man off you.”
Jim glared at Bones, because stories like that were not going to help the cause here. Bones just grinned and took another mouthful on bourbon. Apparently if Jim was going to lose his mind and hit on a Vulcan, then Bones was going to make him work for it.
Spock tilted his head and gave a little nod. “Though illogical, the Ambassador’s actions are understandable. I find your psionic profile pleasing and my telepathy is only conveyed through touch. Your presence must be infinitely more appealing to a people who constantly share mental space.”
Jim blushed. “You think I’m pleasing?”
“It would be illogical to assume that you have reached this age without realizing that your presence is psionically pleasurable. I do not understand your surprise.”
Bones cursed under his breath and kicked at Number One at the other side of the table to join him in leaving.
Spock finally looked away from Jim to watch them depart in obvious exasperation. “I have made Doctor McCoy and Commander Uvoh uncomfortable.” Jim bit back the urge to reach out and rub his thumb over the Vulcan’s wrinkled forehead.
“No,” Bones grumbled. “I just don’t want to watch Jimmy eye-fuck you over the table.”
Bones grabbed his bourbon and took hooked Number One’s arm through his like he was a gentleman and not a bastard. Jim kind of wanted to kick Bones in the ass for destroying any chance Jim had to ease into things, but the man wasn’t wrong. Bones had years worth of ammunition in precisely what Jim looked like when he wanted to bed someone, so Bones was probably being kind when he didn’t tell Spock every. single. thing. Jim was thinking about doing to the Vulcan.
Really, via Bones wasn’t the way Jim wanted Spock introduced to his debauchery.
Guides liked sex. It was kind of Guide 101 and part of the reason why so many people had used to and still did consider Guides to be the weaker part of the pairing. (And part of the reason why other species were so chill with the concept of Guides when dealing with their rather Puritanical-in-comparison Human counterparts, and why they were so miffed that Sentinels and Guides never really left Earth.) Considering that Jim had no idea how Vulcans felt about sex – other than it probably happened, but not even that he could say definitely considering their science was good enough to produce gestational tanks that removed messy biology from the whole process – he didn’t really want to start tossing around shit like that until he had some more information.
Spock watched Jim scramble for words that wouldn’t be out and out lying, then nodded at some internal discussion. “I believe it would be most efficient to share that I am unsure as to whether it is in our mutual best interests to abide by the sociocultural constructs of Terrans regarding interpersonal interactions or of Vulcans. I confess that I am not familiar enough with Guides to tailor my behavior to your specific subspecies.”
“Like a Vulcan, please.”
“Very well. While I find you aesthetically and psionically appealing, I am aware enough of your subspecies to know that you are incapable of forming any sort of lasting bond outside of Terra-strain Humans. While I appreciate your conversation and believe we would find physical interaction and intercourse mutually gratifying, I have no inclination to indulge in the Human custom of a one-night stand.”
Jim leaned across the table and paused before he dragged Spock into a kiss like instinct said he should. He knew the moment he and Spock met skin to skin that higher brain function was going to shut itself down in favor of impulse. Before he dragged his Vulcan into acting like a Human, he deserved the chance to object. Jim hovered there, a breath separating the two of them and in the space between their lips he murmured, “How about one lifetime? Want to indulge in that?”
“No, I do not believe that even that would be sufficient.” And Spock bridged the gap.