They've been in space for more than a year before Jim finds out that Spock likes dudes—no—prefers dudes.
"No shit!" he says, collapsing back on the hard metal bunk in the cell adjoining the interrogation room and making a mental note to tell the Federation to open a trade relationship for some of that truth serum as soon as he and Spock find their shoes and escape from the underground prison where they're being held and questioned because they're evil wizards or something. He kind of stopped listening because they were hitting him so hard.
Spock's jaw moves minutely: this means he's freaked out, which is even more interesting.
"That question was irrelevant," he says.
"You could have mentioned you didn't want to be set up with girls," Jim says.
"I did," Spock says, "on many occasions."
"Yeah, but I thought you were still sulking about getting dumped."
Spock opens his mouth and then closes it. "Perhaps we should turn our attention to the matter at hand," he says.
"Okay, what's the plan?" Jim says, hoping Spock has one, because he's been pummeled enough today and they're forty stories underground in a cell made of electrified metal bars.
"We should remain alert for the chance to evade our captors," Spock says, which means he has nothing. His toes are really hairy.
"In that case, maybe I'll just nap to pass the time until someone wants to smack me around some more." Jim stretches out on the bunk and pillows his cheek against the cool metal.
"I don't believe that is wise," Spock says, and he's suddenly right up close next to Jim. There are bruises on his face and his upper lip is a little swollen. Lips, Jim thinks, he's about to get kissed. "I believe you may have a concussion," Spock says.
"I'm fine," Jim says.
"Captain, you must not fall asleep; I am sure that Dr. McCoy would—"
"I'm not staying awake unless you tell me how many dicks you sucked," Jim announces.
"Sorry," Jim says hastily. He would have been more diplomatic about it except his head hurts, queasy pulsating pain in his temples, crawling up his spine. "I'm a diplomat." It's dark and quiet behind his eyes—
"Jim," Spock says. There's an unusual note of urgency in his voice. Jim's tempted to slide up an eyelid and check the situation but doesn't. "It is imperative that you remain awake."
"I'm on a break," Jim says. What happened to that kiss, he wonders. "You can be in charge."
"I have not sucked any dicks," Spock says. Jim blinks.
"This information was a condition of your staying awake, correct?"
"Yeah, but—why not?"
"There is no one single reason," Spock says after a thoughtful pause.
"If you really liked guys, you'd have sucked a dick or two by now."
"I have not had sexual intercourse with a woman," Spock says, "and yet—"
"Did I hit my head?" Jim says.
"If you do not remember, the damage may be greater than I initially surmised."
"I remember," Jim says. "I just thought—I mean—you were dating Uhura!"
"This was the case," Spock says.
"But you didn't—um—" Jim says, suddenly feeling like he should be a bit delicate about it.
"We did not," Spock says.
"So you only like guys and were using her for cover," Jim says doubtfully. It doesn't sound much like Spock.
"No," Spock says. After a pause he adds in what might be a mumble for anyone else, "It was my first romantic relationship. It was prudent to progress slowly."
"Yeah, but—really?" Jim says, opening his eyes to check, but Spock still has a nice body and a handsome, solemn face under his dorky-looking bowl cut, although Jim has to assume Vulcan chicks don't mind the hair.
"Yes," Spock says.
"I guess that's why you work out so much," Jim says, because Spock's always in the recreational facilities, running hard on the track or doing intimidatingly difficult strength training.
"It is important to maintain peak conditioning for off-world missions," Spock says. "And despite your apparently innumerable romantic encounters, I often see you in the gymnasium."
"Yeah, but—man, these abs don't happen by magic," Jim says. "I get fat if I don't work out. And we're not talking about me."
"The details of your sexual history are undoubtedly more interesting, however," Spock says.
"But I'm not conflicted about liking dudes."
"Neither am I."
"Everyone's conflicted about liking dudes at first," Jim says confidently. "They don't have boobs."
"It is generally a poor approach to generalise one's own experience to explain another's behavior. By Vulcan standards, I have embarked on a romantic life very early." You didn't have to be a counselor to hear the stiffness in Spock's voice.
"I take it your p—your pop didn't approve."
"Humans achieve biological maturity much earlier," Spock says.
"You don't have to justify it to me," Jim says, "I lost my virginity when I was fourteen."
"I was merely stating a fact," Spock says. "Fourteen is quite young."
"Is that so," Jim says. Spock's sitting next to him on the bunk, close enough to touch and they're talking about personal shit and it's getting kind of sexy until Jim turns his head too fast and pukes all over Spock's leg.
Spock's cool about it, of course, cleans himself up and gets Jim cleaned up while he flops around making useless apologies. It's not the most suave situation, so it's kind of a relief when the guard shows up to beat him up some more, except this time, the guy's careless and Spock punches him in the face.
Jim throws up again about halfway up the spiralling, endless stairwell.
"Perhaps it would be prudent for me to carry you," Spock offers, while Jim swipes his mouth with his sleeve and stumbles up the next flight of stairs.
"It wouldn't be," Jim says. "Because you need to punch people and everything." Spock's punched a commendable number of guys in the last twenty minutes while Jim has focused mostly on remaining upright. "It's fine, I can keep up," he says.
He falls twice before they get out, but he's the one who steals the car, so it all evens out.
"Let's see," Bones says, "skull fracture, broken nose, a couple cracked ribs, second degree electrical burns on your hands, and these scrapes are infected with alien fungus. Also, you smell god awful. Mr. Spock," he says, turning to where Spock is sitting on one of the sickbay benches.
"The captain's injuries are far more severe," Spock says. "I suggest you treat him first."
"I was going to say that you're fine. You can leave as long as you make sure to get an ice pack on that hand."
Spock nods, stands, and then doesn't go. "He will recover," he says, not quite a question.
"No, he's dying!" Bones says, "and I'm standing here flapping my gums at you just for the heck of it. He'll be fine."
"I believe he has a concussion—"
"And you're a science officer, not a doctor. Go get some sleep, you look lousy."
Spock nods. It isn't that he hesitates in leaving or looks over his shoulder—he doesn't—but it seems to take more time than strictly necessary for him to leave.
"What's the age of consent for Vulcans?" Jim says on the next away mission Spock and Bones let him go on. They've formed an incredibly annoying alliance which involves constant violations of doctor-patient confidentiality and Spock reminding him that it's time for his pills on the bridge in front of everyone, but since they're getting along, Jim's decided that—even with Chekov's muffled giggling—it counts as a success in leadership. And it's not as though Spock and Bones couldn't use a few more friends; it's nice to see them sitting together at lunch, scowling at each other.
"That concept does not exist in Vulcan culture," Spock says.
"Sure it does," Jim says. "Vulcans don't go around having sex with kids."
"No," Spock says.
"Right." Jim says. "So when do you guys start having sex?"
"I fail to see how this is relevant information," Spock says, which hurts. Jim sort of thought they were working on something here with all the cocksucking talk and the number of times Spock dropped by sickbay to keep him apprised of the situation on the ship.
"Is it irrelevant?" he says. He's never gotten anywhere by playing it safe. Spock meets his gaze squarely and he knows Spock's about to blow him off when Spock's gaze falters a little, slides away.
"Typically, Vulcans embark on sexual relations in their fourth to fifth decade," he says, clipped and textbooky.
"Aren't you thirty-one?" Jim says.
"So—shit," Jim says, getting it, suddenly. Spock's still holding hands and sitting at the same lunch table and having to get his mom to drop him off at the movie theater—or joining the math team to meet girls, whatever Vulcans do—and Jim's the jackass hanging around and pressuring him for sex and if Spock's mom were alive, she'd probably have him arrested and this is what happens when there's a single lousy useless paragraph on Vulcan sexuality in the database no matter how creative you get with your search string, fuck.
"Sorry," Jim says, "I'm sorry. I never meant—anyhow. Sorry."
"I do not require an apology," Spock says. He opens his mouth to say more but Jim finds someplace his diplomacy is urgently required and leaves.
He leaves Spock alone after that, but not really alone, as though the only thing he wanted was sex. They still eat lunch together before alpha shift and play chess and all that, but Jim hadn't quite realized how much time he spent getting Spock alone in the turbolift so he could stand too close to him.
Luckily, Spock either thought he was incapable of not acting like a total horndog and didn't take it personally, or he didn't really notice Jim checking him out because he was a decade from being ready to get it on. That's what Jim thinks, relieved and embarrassed and incredibly glad he didn't put his hands down Spock's pants that time they were sparring, until he shows up in his quarters and finds Spock sitting on his bed.
"Hey," he says.
"I would like to have a sexual relationship," Spock says and then when Jim doesn't say anything, adds "with you."
"Oh," Jim says. "ah—"
"You indicated that you found the prospect of interest."
"That's—yes, I did, but—"
"Please state your objections."
"Why do you even want to get involved with me anyhow? Don't Vulcans mate for life or whatever? You can't think I'm a good prospect there."
"I do not," Spock acknowledged.
"It's been brought to my attention that there are certain experiences I should pursue in advance of marriage and I—" he hesitates, uncharacteristically. "I had thought you would be amenable."
"Well, there you are," Jim says, relieved, "you shouldn't just do it with a guy because he's there, you should, you know, care about him."
"Is that the principle you follow?" Spock is sitting up very straight, staring at him.
"No," Jim says, "but you shouldn't follow my example, you should find someone—"
"I have chosen you."
"Oh God damn it, you know what I mean, your first time should be special."
"As yours was?"
"And you regret this."
"Nah, not really."
"I understand," Spock says. "It is not necessary to spare my feelings if you are not interested now that you know of my lack of experience."
"It's not that," Jim says. "I'm interested, but it's your first time and you're too young and I'd be taking advantage—"
"I am partially biologically human."
"We could confine our activities to those I have already experienced."
"What, you want to make out?"
Spock blinks. "That is acceptable," he says.
Spock is a pretty good kisser. He doesn't quite know what to do with his hands, but his mouth is nice, lips closing softly over Jim's bottom lip.
Maybe he's a little tentative, but it comes off as gentleness, and Jim finds himself being gentle in return. Kissing Spock's ears doesn't do much for him, but there's a spot on his jaw that lights him up, makes his hands tighten very slightly on Jim's shoulders. He angles his head to catch Jim's mouth and when Jim rubs a thumb along his cheekbone, he sinks a little more deeply into the bed, not quite sighing into Jim's mouth.
Jim keeps it all firmly above the waist and wraps it up before it gets too out of control. Spock looks like he wants to fight him on it when Jim pulls back and says he has an early morning tomorrow, but he doesn't, just smooths down his rumpled shirt and thanks Jim politely.
"You're welcome," Jim says. "I had a good time."
Spock nods and says goodnight and Jim goes to take a shower and jerk off.
"We shouldn't do that again," Jim tells Spock at their morning meeting, sandwiching it between the personnel reports and the science update.
"That statement is not specific enough for me to respond," Spock says.
"We shouldn't, uh, kiss again," Jim says. Spock doesn't say anything. "It's just—fraternization."
"It is not against regulations," Spock says.
"I know, but—" Spock is silent, waiting for him to finish. "It's not that I don't want to," Jim says awkwardly. The thing about being a captain of a starship is that you forget how to break up with people; the starship is a gigantic, unmistakable clue that you're probably not sticking around.
"Sometimes humans are unable to adapt to non-human body odor," Spock says.
"This isn't about B.O.," Jim says. Spock has a pleasant, vaguely metallic smell, like licking the monkey bars at the playground.
"You believe I am too young and inexperienced to be of interest to you sexually."
"No. What? Of course not."
"I have little to offer given your sexual expertise—"
"You have plenty to offer," Jim says, painted into a corner. Spock wins that one and later, he whips him at chess and then touches Jim's knuckles and says,
"How is it that your hands retain so many scars? Did you not have access to dermal generators on Earth?"
"Didn't care enough to use them," Jim says. "I was a kid; I thought it looked tough. Girls liked it."
"It is appealing," Spock says, licking his lower lip and that—that right there, is the reason that Jim ends up underneath him, kissing him slowly and sliding his thumb along the nape of his neck and not letting him take his shirt off.
Jim keeps telling himself that Spock is fully grown and ten times smarter than almost everyone in the universe and can undoubtedly handle his sex life himself, but then Spock will act so much like a idiotic teenager, finding scars sexy or flinching in surprise when Jim touches him in some new way and refusing to admit that he's uncomfortable that Jim thinks—better him than anyone else to press Spock down into the bed and peel down the collar of his uniform shirt enough to lick the hollow of his throat, feel the hot flutter of his pulse.
There's not too much Jim doesn't know about desperate stupid horny teenagers, about how easy it is to fuck them up, on purpose and by mistake.
"Aren't you two chummy?" Scotty says, bursting around the corner and finding them hunched over a warp modulator array, recalibrating by hand.
"No we're not," Jim says automatically. Spock consults his PADD and then makes a minute adjustment. "I mean," Jim says, "it's a two-person job."
"Yes, well," Scotty says, shifting on his feet. "Let me know when you finish it up, then." They work in silence for more than ten minutes, long after Scotty's shambling footsteps have faded away, and then Spock says,
"Are we not chummy?"
"Yes," Jim says. "I mean, that's not really the word I would use but—"
"I hold you in high regard," Spock says, not looking up from his calculations.
"I—me too. I hold you also in—high regard," Jim says. He sounds like a jerk, but Spock just nods.
Jim knows that what he should have done—what he should do now—is gently turn Spock down and maybe try to hook him up with someone who hasn't ever made (and won, obviously) a bet that he can bone a different person every day for a month and simultaneously destroy the curve in Warp Core Physics III, but he can't quite bring himself to do it. He figures: how long can it really go on before Spock stops looking at him so—well, not eagerly exactly, but with keen interest and Jim likes him a lot, in the way that you like someone after you figure out mutually that you don't hate each others' guts.
He likes Spock and he likes rolling around on top of the covers with him, likes the way Spock touches his hair, the diligent way Spock presses his mouth against Jim's ears and collarbones before returning to his mouth and then patiently letting Jim take a turn kissing his throat.
"This is temporary, right?" Jim says, when they're necking one afternoon in Spock's quarters, sprawled on his bed. He pushes himself up off Spock, trying to break up the action and distract himself from his hard-on. "I mean, you have to go repopulate Vulcan or whatever, right?"
They probably have a girl all picked out for Spock, someone gorgeous, with crazy long legs and a super-genius mind. Spock will fall for her immediately and they'll spend the next 100 years pretending to be in a dutiful arranged marriage, all the while having hot kinky sex and admiring each others' intellects and having a thousand chubby implacable little babies.
"I have no such plans," Spock says.
"I thought all Vulcans were being encouraged to—" fuck like weasels, Jim wants to say, but that doesn't really strike the right tone about the number of Vulcans who still exist, fewer than the population of one of the older starbases, the ones that need some life-support upgrades to be able to support a full crew complement, fewer people than the nowhere county he grew up in, miles of cornfields, more cows than people.
"I am only half Vulcan," Spock says. His voice is very even. "My contributions are not required."
"It is more accurate to say that I have inquired and been—actively discouraged."
"Oh," Jim says, "well, look, I—"
"Thus I am free to continue my investigations in this direction."
"Okay," Jim says and then, because Spock is just sitting there, unwanted by the shitheads who matter most to him, Jim pushes him back down on his bed and gropes him a whole bunch, sliding his fingers under his shirt, along the soft skin of Spock's back and ribs, touching his nipples, kissing him open-mouthed, because what do you say to a guy who can't have the mess of Vulcan babies he so clearly wants?
Crap, Jim thinks, after he leaves Spock, who is working on a PADD, looking content, with a sallow blush just fading along the edges of his jaw and throat. So now he's halfway to fucking a virgin who's depressed as hell after being rejected by his whole civilization, which is a monumentally bad idea, even for him. Jim has never had any objection to being a rebound screw, but only if everyone involved knows the score. Spock is the kind of serious person who will convince himself it's more than it is and then hate himself once he wakes up and realizes what Jim isn't.
Be careful, Jim thinks, when Spock brushes up against him in the corridor, shoulder bumping his, and asks if he would like to review the specs for the engineering upgrade over dinner, when Spock looks at him with fierce, solemn delight at moonrise over an archaeological ruin of stunning significance, when Spock falls asleep on his bed in the early afternoon after monitoring an experiment for 72 hours straight, stars zinging by the window.
But they hook up a lot anyhow. Jim's not a robot and deep space is really, really lonely. They never really mentioned that in class, or—they did, but they made it sound tough and badass and nothing like the long hauls between star systems that can mean days of the void and realizing how impossibly fucking insignificant you are. Sometimes after almost getting their asses blown up or having to negotiate a peace treaty between a bunch of people who hate each other or getting beaten or tortured or discovering yet another planet where awful things happen and they can't fix it because of the prime directive, it's nice not to end up alone in his quarters, contemplating getting drunk, pathetic and alone.
"Nice hickey," Bones says, digging his thumb into Jim's back right where it hurts the most from the poison rash.
"Thank you," Jim says.
"Commander Spock give that to you?"
"He told you?" Jim says.
"Yeah, and he begged me not to say anything, which I've done up until now because, unlike everyone else in this room, I respect boundaries."
"Spock begged you," Jim says.
"He made a strongly worded request," Bones says. "He seemed to think you wouldn't appreciate us talking about how you're banging him."
"I'm not banging him," Jim says. "We just fool around."
"Okay," Bones says.
"What did he say?" Jim says. Bones just shakes his head and runs the scanner down Jim's chest.
"Are you guys buddies now?" Jim says, betrayed. "Are you talking about me behind my back?"
"You're the one who's fucking him."
"First, I'm not, and second, he can take care of himself, he's just experimenting, that's all it is," Jim says.
"You know I just hate to see my friends disappointed and lonely and miserable," Bones says.
"Spock will be fine," Jim says.
"And that's who I was talking about," Bones says and then stabs him really unnecessarily hard in the neck with a hypospray.
Uhura is unbelievably beautiful, Jim thinks, watching her on a diplomatic mission first simultaneously translating between two local dialects she just happens to know and then, later, when things inevitably go bad, shutting down a couple guys with a conference room folding chair to the groin. There's no way Spock's really over her.
"Why'd you dump Spock?" he asks, on the transporter pad.
"I really have to—" Chekov says, and practically falls out the door.
"That's none of your business," she says sweetly, brushing a crushed danish off her sleeve.
"I know," Jim says. "Right. But you guys were so—I mean, you can't do better than Spock. No offense."
"I am not discussing this with you," Uhura says. "It's weird."
"Not that any man shouldn't be devastated by losing me," Uhura says, "but I think he's okay."
"Yeah, he's—really good," Jim says. "Totally fine."
Spock is a formidably patient guy, so it's surprising how annoyed he gets when Jim won't fuck him. Even more surprising is how obvious it is, even though Spock never raises his voice or says anything more urgent than "It is illogical for you to make such arbitrary distinctions about our activities." when Jim says no blowjobs.
Spock will wise up and decide he likes girls or has to get married or find a boyfriend soon enough and in the meantime Jim does half of his admin work on Spock's couch with his feet up and has someone to snuggle up with when they have to remodulate the shields for some local astronomical phenomena and it sucks so much power that the ambient temperature on the ship drops twenty degrees and stays there for six weeks.
Uhura wears pants.
Jim relaxes the standards on dress code a little, just so they don't burn more power from everyone replicating regulation cold weather gear. Spock toughs it out for a week before wearing a sweater—pale grey, bumpy, uncomfortable-looking. Sulu's wearing an orange parka and Chekov's wearing a huge bright green sweater with the sleeves rolled up four times and a pair of fingerless gloves. They haven't run into anyone for weeks, though, so it doesn't matter that they've started taking coffee breaks during shift, just to get the feeling back into their fingers. Spock drinks some awful dirt tea, of course. Chekov drinks hot chocolate with marshmallows because his grandmother told him coffee stunts your growth.
"You are welcome to sleep in my quarters," Spock says, noticing Jim shivering through their chess game even though he's wearing a jaunty scarf Scotty knit for him. "My body temperature would be quite comfortable for you."
"You'll be too cold."
"The ambient environment on board the Enterprise is unsuitable for Vulcan body temperatures even in standard operational mode," Spock says. "And your company would be satisfactory."
"Okay," Jim says. "No sex, though."
Spock lets out a little huff of breath, barely noticeable. "Very well," he says.
They kiss, though, and it's different, underneath Spock's thick covers, the strength in Spock's body somehow more apparent beneath the thin, loose-fitting pajamas he wears to bed.
Jim scrubs his hands through Spock's hair and slides one knee between his thighs, kissing him softly, and Spock kisses him back, hands restless on his shoulders. He pulls Jim up on top of him, his hands tight on Jim's hips, the small of his back. It's the warmest Jim's been in weeks.
"Will you stay again this evening?" Spock says the next evening, over dinner.
"I don't know," Jim says.
"You did not find it advantageous to share warmth?" Spock says.
"I—yeah, sure," Jim admits.
"I would not attempt sexual contact with you as you slept against your wishes," Spock says, stabbing his fork at a pile of greens.
"What? Of course not," Jim says. "I know that."
"Do you?" Spock says stiffly.
"Yes," Jim says. "Of course. Spock—"
Until they fix the heat, Jim spends most night at Spock's. Spock is surprisingly cuddly, a spooner in his sleep, his warm cheek tucked up against the back of Jim's neck. They talk a little, late at night, climbing into bed. Mostly about ship business, this or that personnel issue, what to do about the viral lichen that won't stop growing on some of the warp core components. Then Spock reads, sitting up against the headboard, his posture relaxed but still perfect, shoulders low, spine elongated, chin lifted, not exactly graceful, but effortless.
Jim has never not fucked anyone as fuckable as Spock; he's never thought much about sex before this. He has it when it's on offer and he feels like it and doesn't worry about it too much otherwise. What he's doing with Spock is more or less the complete opposite.
"Perhaps we could go back to the residence," the Kartougian Prime Minister says, leaning forward so Jim gets an eyeful of her cleavage. There are some very interesting articles of the Federation in my study."
"That sounds edifying," Jim says, "But I—" he nods his head at Spock, meaning ‘a little help, here'.
"Articles of the Federation are of particular interest to Captain Kirk," Spock says. "He does not often get an opportunity to examine them in the original."
The prime minister trills a laugh and her hand drifts further up on Jim's arm.
"Yes," Jim says thinly. "There's really nothing I would enjoy more, except that I have an early morning and I—" he loses track of what he's saying, but the Prime Minister is smiling and not looking in the least offended, so he must be doing a good job.
"You were supposed to help me out back there," Jim says in the launch on the way back.
"I thought that was what I was doing," Spock says.
"She wanted to have sex with me," Jim says.
"I am aware of that," Spock says placidly. "I thought you enjoyed short term romantic liaisons. She was very attractive."
"But I'm—but we're—"
"We do not have sex," Spock says. "And it would be," he looks out the view screen. "I would not be offended if you were to seek it out elsewhere."
"No," Jim says. "This is what I have been talking about. You would be offended and I wouldn't. You shouldn't let me."
"I would not be offended."
"Yes you would," Jim says insistently, "you should be. You can't just go around letting people use you for sex, do you understand that?"
"But we don't have sex."
Jim slams the launch into the docking bay hard, where it's caught by the inertial dampeners and drifts gently into its designated bay before locking into place.
"You are angry," Spock says, following Jim down the hall, half a step behind him.
"Yep," Jim says. In his quarters, he rips his dress uniform shirt off over his head and chucks it on the chair, gets his boots off. "We're having sex," he says. "Get undressed."
He wants it to be shitty and awful; he just wants the whole thing over, he thinks Spock can hate him after and that's fine as long as he never lets anyone else hurt him after this. It turns out a little different when Spock's underneath him, clutching at his hands, his eyes dark and shocked when Jim puts his fingers in his mouth.
Fuck, fuck, fuck, you fucking asshole, you scumbag, Jim tells himself in the morning, hiding in the bathroom. The guy's planet got blown up, his mom died, his girlfriend dumped him, he's not thinking straight, he's making bad choices, you didn't even make it nice or romantic, you're going to screw him up so bad.
Spock is dressed when he comes back in, smoothing down the bedclothes overly carefully.
"Good Morning," Jim says cautiously.
"I have an early meeting," Spock says calmly. "Perhaps we can meet for dinner, if you are available."
"Sure," Jim says, and then, "Shit, no, actually, I have a teleconference with Admiral Pike."
Spock nods. "Of course," he says.
Spock, Jim realizes, watching his door slide shut, expects exactly nothing from him.
Spock wants to have sex again; Spock wants Jim to bend him over the back of the couch and do him but Jim makes him sit back on the bed and blows him and then coaches Spock through jerking him off, leaning up on his elbows to watch the usual stuff—the tense muscles of his shoulders, the dark sweep of his eyelashes, and the slightly uncertain grip of his hand around Jim's cock.
"Are you certain you wouldn't rather have anal sex?" Spock says, in the middle.
"I like handjobs," Jim insists.
"But next time," Spock says. His hand is still moving, slowly but with a strong grip, and Jim falls back on the bed, gasping,
"Yes, yeah, sure, yes," so the next time he does everything he should have done the first time and kisses Spock a lot and fingers him and tells him how great he feels and Spock arches up underneath him, grabs at him, gasps out his name.
How you started out mattered: Joey McKendrick's little sister had dated this complete jagoff who'd messed her up so badly she'd flunked out of school when he dumped her for the next girl and ended up working at the creamed corn factory doing bot maintenance even though she'd been so fucking smart in school—three years younger than Jim and in half his classes. She'd been headed for better things before that son of a bitch got his hands on her.
"You are concerned about my career," Spock says.
"No, obviously not," Jim says, punching his pillow into shape and lying back down.
"Maintaining mechanized robotic factory components can be a challenging and rewarding profession," Spock says.
"That's not the point."
Spock frowns, thinking. "I do not find creamed corn unappetizing," he says, finally.
"Don't eat creamed corn," Jim says. "Just, please don't ever do that."
"I hope you know what you're doing," Bones says.
"I think it's abundantly clear that I don't," Jim says. "Why are you even friends? How do you have things to say to each other?"
"He is just delightful company," Bones says.
"Now you're making things up," Jim says.
"He's happy," Bones says. "Don't even ask me how I can tell. I think space radiation might have rendered me able to read minds."
"That's great," Jim says. "Just great."
May as well give him the full ride, Jim thinks, so he and Spock do everything he can think of everywhere there's a vague expectation of privacy. Spock has an unbelievably good body and a beautiful face and is kind of freaky, which Jim was not expecting.
"Acceptable?" Spock says, almost clinically, after blowing Jim in a Jeffries Tube between shifts and then wiping off his mouth with the edge of his hand.
"Yeah," Jim says, still breathless. "You want to fuck me?"
"Yes," Spock says, already reaching for him.
Nothing happens to make it change. They find a bunch of new cool stuff and keep some folks from getting blown up and almost get killed a half a dozen times, but it's not really close or anything. He gets naked with Spock, he makes him eat waffles, they go on an incredibly weird sort-of double date with Bones, he reads too many scientific periodicals so he can at least know what Spock's talking about, the weeks just pass. It's easy; it's too much.
"I'm going to break up with you now," Jim says.
"I understand," Spock says.
"You have always been scrupulously honest about the fact that our relationship was to be temporary," Spock says. "Based on your past history, I also assume you would wish to pursue casual liaisons with a variety of people. I would continue to have occasional non-exclusive sexual contact with you if you wanted."
"No," Jim says.
"Very well," Spock says. "I would assume that we could meet to play chess as your schedule permits."
"That's not—Spock, I won't just fuck you on the side, unless—is that what you want?"
Spock says nothing.
"Is it?" Jim says. There's a hot olive flush on Spock's cheeks by the time he answers, but his voice is calm.
"I only ever requested sex," he says. "That you persisted in showing me substandard earth films and accompanying me to meals and the moonrise on Gelad IV—it was kind, but unnecessary."
"Fine," Jim says. "You can date someone who shows you good movies, then."
"No," Spock says. "I don't plan to do that."
Spock looks away.
"You're not in love with me," Jim says, stomach sinking.
"No," Jim says. "Stop it."
"It's my understanding that love is generally not a fully voluntary response that can be controlled."
"Oh my god," Jim says faintly. "I didn't really think this would—I mean, you, of all people. I thought you just had grudging respect for me and thought I had a hot body."
"Are we broken up now?" Spock asks.
"No, no, no, no," Jim says, "I can't be responsible for breaking your heart on top of having creepy underage sex with you. Maybe you're just confused."
"Unlikely," Spock says. "I am not often confused."
"Yeah, but, shit," Jim says. "You can't just go around falling in love with people—this is probably why Uhura dumped you in the first place."
"She was frustrated because I would not have intercourse with her."
"What?" Jim shouts.
"At the time, I believed it was because I was not biologically ready," Spock says. "However now I believe it is because I am homosexual. And while I felt affection for her, I did not love her as I feel for y—"
"Shhh, shhhhhhh, shhh," Jim says frantically. Spock obediently quiets down; the only noise in the room is the frenetic pounding of Jim's headache.
"I'm sorry," Jim says, after he takes a few deep breaths. "I don't know where you got the idea that I could—"
"You said you should be in love with the person you first have sex with."
"I didn't mean me," Jim loudly.
"Perhaps I misunderstood," Spock says. There's a crease between his eyes, something like worry; it makes Jim feel sick. "I did not mean to put you in an uncomfortable position," he continues. "Please disregard my earlier statements. Dr. McCoy recommended that I make you aware of my feelings—"
"Did he," Jim says.
"—and be vaccinated for various sexually transmitted diseases. And not to blame him if my penis fell off, but I believe that last was rhetorical, as I have completed extensive research and not yet discovered any sexually transmitted diseases that make penises fall off."
"Oh, was that all?"
"He also said you believe you have no romantic worth beyond your physical beauty and your exceptional sexual abilities."
"However, as he was intoxicated and we were watching a marathon of melodramatic holographic video programs in which I believe he is overly invested, I did not think it necessarily an accurate observation."
"He's full of shit," Jim says.
"If I might offer some empirical evidence, I have found you to be an exceptionally considerate and thoughtful in our relationship," Spock says. "And while it is true that your physical appearance is distracting—"
"Distracting from what?"
"From my work, from—many things," Spock says. "My romantic attachment is based on your actions and behavior, however, not your remarkable physical appearance and sexual stamina."
"I've been with a lot of people," Jim says.
"I am aware of this," Spock says. "Are we finished breaking up? If so, I would like to take my leave—"
"We're not breaking up," Jim says.
"You can do better," Jim says, at the same time that Spock says,
"If you wish to pursue other sexual partners at the same time, that would be—"
"No, no, no, does no one on this ship listen to a word that comes out of my mouth?" Jim says.
"That would not be acceptable," Spock amends.
"That's more like it," Jim says.
"I would become quite jealous," Spock embellishes. "I might provoke an angry scene."
"It is doubtful."
"How many of those holovids did you guys watch?"
"It was unjustly cancelled before the sixth season," Spock says. "And we do not watch the second half of season four."
Even things that start out kind of fucked up can turn out okay in the end, Jim tells Bones. Everyone deserves some happiness.
"Yup," Bones says.
"I'd never thought he'd want—"
"Are we talking about Spock again?" Bones says.
"Ah, yeah, Spock," Jim says. They're both pretty drunk, but still. "You know, that guy we're talking about?"
"Yup," Bones says.
"You don't know enough about this to have an opinion," Jim shouts, in one of the zillion fights they have about it that always seem to end in Jim slinking back to their quarters to say he's sorry.
"Your counterpart seemed to have no problems sustaining an emotional relationship with me for many years," Spock snaps, in the fights that end up with him hanging in the doorway, shoulders held rigid, apologizing.
Jim knows they're not going to stay together forever, working together, sexing each other up, throwing each other down out of of the way of phaser fire on a hundred planets and gunning it around the galaxy, finding amazing shit, cherishing each other in their secret hearts; that's kid stuff. But Spock believes it, and it turns out Jim loves him too much to let him find out that it's almost definitely never going to work out that way.