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Damn – he wanted a drink. 

It wasn’t the most comforting thought to Kirk as he shifted in the captain’s chair, fingering the edge of the hand rest anxiously, wishing it were a glass. There was a problem with using alcohol as a coping mechanism for boredom when you were the captain of a self-contained ship – and it wasn’t just that alcohol wasn’t all that common light years away from a well stocked port of call. It was that he was supposed to be better than that. But he wasn’t. He was human. 

Uhura caught his eye as she signed off for the night, giving him one of her patented half-smiles. He nodded back, feeling exhausted, sure that she could see it in his face, but still. He committed. 

It wasn’t that Kirk didn’t appreciate Spock and Uhura, because lord knows he did , it was just that... The longer they were stuck out here, the weirder it got. There was strain between Spock and her now, strain Kirk didn’t feel he needed to add to. It was hard out here. Each day blending endlessly into the other until it didn’t even feel like they were doing anything at all. Of course a relationship would be tested under those circumstances – even between two seemingly level-headed people like Spock and Uhura. 

Kirk hung out a few more minutes, watching shifts switch and his command crew filter out. They still had forty-six hours until they reached the next planet. None of their missions were exactly what Kirk would call thrilling, but the hours between missions were definitely worse. At least there was the promise of interacting with someone or something off this damn ship when they got to a new planet. 

“Headed out,” he announced to the nearly empty room, getting a few half-hearted nods as he left. 

He had always made a point of checking in at different stations across the ship before officially retiring for the night and he performed that round now. Engineering, Medical, Security, Maintenance... It was so second nature – every inquiry met with a perfunctory “aye, sir” that barely registered – that he felt like he was running on autopilot, his mind elsewhere, though he didn’t know where. 

Kirk wandered back into his room, showered, brushed his teeth. Went through the motions. It was the only thing he knew how to do. And he knew a whole damn crew was looking at him constantly, watching him, watching to make sure he was okay, to make sure he was still going through the motions. He really didn’t feel like he was capable of being that responsible. At least – he didn’t feel that way now. 

He walked down the hall to Spock’s quarters, knocking on it, and Uhura opened the door. She was wearing a simple cotton dress, her hair twisted up in a bun. It was amazing to him how graceful she looked even dressed down like this. Of course, he had always thought she was beautiful. 

“He’ll be out in a minute,” Uhura said as the door slid shut behind them and she twisted a loose hair at the nape of her neck with her fingers as she walked back to the small dining area. 

Kirk sat down at the table, visually perusing the salad, the alien bottle of wine that was probably shit but he wasn’t going to judge too hard, the all-too-familiar plates with disinterest. Honestly, he wasn’t even hungry. He was just tired. Bored. Just the idea of sitting through this meal was miserable even though he knew in reality it wasn’t going to be bad it was just... 

Tofu. Again. Stilted jokes. Again. Vulcan music. Again. 

Suddenly Uhura’s hand was on his where it rested on the table, squeezing, and he looked up. Kirk had the distinct impression she had been talking to him and he had been ignoring her but still, she smiled. A tight, strained little thing – but still. 

“You’re not the only one having a difficult time,” she said quietly and Kirk looked away, embarrassed. 

“I know,” he mumbled as she released his hand, moving back to the kitchen to get some glasses. 

I’m just the only one who’s not supposed to show it , he finished bitterly in his head. 

Spock entered from the bedroom, looking as blank as ever, and honestly? Kirk envied that. He would never admit it in a million years, especially not to Spock himself, but that didn’t mean he didn’t try to emulate that, try to hide his own feelings of frustration and boredom behind a carefully sculpted inscrutable mask. 

“I trust your evening rounds went well,” Spock offered as a means of conversation as he sat, taking the glasses Uhura brought over and pouring the wine though he, of course, only had water.

“Yeah,” Kirk sighed, shifting in his seat and settling into an extended conversation about nothing. 

He ate without tasting, conversed without thinking, watched the undercurrent of tension between Spock and Uhura. It was nothing obvious, but he knew them well. Her pursed lips and sharp stares, his little chagrined moments of silence. Watching them was the most fascinating problem his brain had encountered today – and it wasn’t even that interesting. It was a problem he’d worked at for weeks now with no solution.

Kirk swallowed the remainder of his wine, dropping a half smile at the subtle joke Uhura cracked at Spock’s expense as she picked up his plate to take to the sink. He watched her for a moment then dropped his eyes to the glass on the table as he twisted it in one hand and Spock’s fingers reached for his other, holding it in a similar way to how Uhura had squeezed it earlier. 

Carefully Kirk looked up to meet Spock’s dark eyes, uncertain. It had been easier when his relationship with Uhura was good. He felt less guilt. But... it wasn’t like Kirk could suddenly go back in time, erase what the three of them had shared between them, make it so he wanted it less.

In reply, Spock opened his hand, spreading his fingers, letting Kirk slip his own between them. It was subdued but intimate – like everything with Spock – and Kirk couldn’t help but smile a little, more genuine than before. 

Uhura walked back to the table, noting their hands and running her own along Kirk’s shoulders as she headed to the bedroom, throwing a glance back over to him, a clear question there – are you coming? – but she didn’t wait for the answer. Kirk’s smile widened as he looked back to Spock and leaned in to kiss him. Spock complied easily, warm and soft beneath his lips. 

Even now, Spock didn’t seem to exactly understand kissing, not growing up with it as it wasn’t a particularly Vulcan way of showing affection, and he was distant even when willing. But over time with what Kirk knew was careful study, Spock had become a very good kisser, even if he was rarely fully present in it. 

Kirk pulled away after a moment, releasing Spock’s fingers and tilting his head towards the bedroom with raised brows. Spock nodded and they walked in together where Uhura was tightening her strap-on beneath the short shift dress she wore, the fabric bunched up around her hips, and the vision lit a fire in Kirk’s veins, the first real thing he’d felt since the last time he stood in this bedroom. His half-hard dick twitched with anticipation as he moved behind her, putting his hands on her hips, beneath the fabric as he kissed the back of her neck. 

Wordlessly Spock moved in front of her, stroking the backs of his fingers down her cheek, and Kirk watched the intimacy between them with only a little jealousy. Although they had done this many times, Spock always made a point of letting her know that she was the most important person in his universe. And Kirk respected that. Despite the fact that they always treated him as an equal, Kirk knew his place was as the third wheel, and in return for their kindness he respected their relationship and gave them their space... even when he wanted more. 

Spock’s hands met Kirk’s at her hips and they moved their hands together up her body, sliding them along her skin, pulling her dress up over her head. As she leaned in to kiss Spock again, Kirk pressed his lips across her shoulders, unfastening his pants. 

Kirk was used to being vocal in bed. Hell – Kirk was used to being vocal everywhere, and that certainly didn’t preclude bed. But with Spock and Uhura it was different. They were quiet, speechless. They all knew their parts and seamlessly fell into their roles with practiced ease and there was something about it that Kirk found strangely comforting. He didn’t have to try, he didn’t have to think. He didn’t have to direct . While going through the motions left him feeling empty during the day, at night, with them, it made him feel whole. 

He stripped off his shirt, his pants open across his hips, and he pressed himself up against the warmth of Uhura’s back, his dick hard against the curve of her ass, his hands on her hips, holding her close. Kirk breathed in the scent of her shampoo – never the regulation stuff – as he nuzzled his nose against the nape of her neck and her hand reached out to touch the back of his, running her fingers across the back of his head, stroking at his hair. Although their relationship had started out rough and they still didn’t always see eye to eye, when they were together like this he was vulnerable and she was gentle and he needed that from her more than he’d ever admit.

With her other hand, Uhura tugged at Spock’s shirt and he pulled it off in one even motion. Kirk gazed over Uhura’s shoulder at him, contemplating, not for the first time, how much softer and less severe he looked than other Vulcans. Even though his physiology was in so many ways more Vulcan than human, the human was what stood out to Kirk... including the increased sex drive, which Kirk was more than thankful for. 

When Spock was free of his pants, she pulled him in against her body and he reached behind her for Kirk, his hands on Kirk’s ass, moving up his back, holding him close, sandwiching her between them. Kirk managed to get his own hand between them though, unfastening the hooks on her bra, moving his hand across her shoulder blade to gingerly slip the strap from her shoulder. Spock stepped back as she discarded it from her body but before he could reach back to touch her again, Uhura pushed his chest lightly back towards the bed.

“I didn't put this on so I could be the center of attention,” she teased, reaching back for Kirk's shoulder and pulling him forward towards Spock. 

He laughed, falling into Spock intentionally, pinning him to the bed with his weight and his knees. He kissed across the soft dark hair on Spock’s chest, laving his tongue along a nipple until Spock was forced to exhale and Uhura stepped up behind him. She placed one hand on his hip, steadying him, and as he leaned down into Spock’s lips she slid slick fingers into him. 

Kirk hissed, pleasure spiking through his gut, and he could feel Uhura’s nails in his hip and Spock’s hands on his face and it was easy to fall, easy to slip into the feeling of it and forget everything else. 

As soon as he was ready they moved into bed together, an amorphous tangle of limbs, tucked up against one another, side by side. Kirk was pressed up next to Spock’s body, kissing his face, his lips, his neck, and Uhura was pressed up against him, her lips on his shoulder, her breasts against his back, her strap on buried deep in his ass. It was bliss being caught between them – it was the reason he kept coming back for more.

Kirk’s hips slid slowly back against Uhura’s, groaning at the sensation of silicone sliding against his prostate. She was good at this now and every time he moved back she moved in to meet him, making him moan against Spock’s mouth, the slow, steady rhythm making it so that he felt every inch of friction. 

The hand that wasn’t caught beneath Spock’s head, cradling his neck, Kirk slid down his back, feeling the disconcerting lack of sweat despite the extreme heat of his skin. Being both Vulcan and human his physiology was dominated by his Vulcan genetics, but Kirk knew all the places where he was undeniably human. 

Kirk’s hand slipped between their hips, fingers brushing roughly against the length of his hard dick, positioning it against his own so that each thrust of Uhura’s hips against his had him pressing himself into Spock’s hips, expanding the warmth between them as the friction of their flesh made him moan. Spock’s open lips quivered against Kirk’s mouth, and restrained as he was most of the time, it made Kirk want to fist his hand in his hair, jerk back his head, and utterly devour him. 

But Kirk knew there was only so far he could push and the intimacy of their mouths against one another, of Spock’s hand on his knee, pulling it over his own hip, holding him close to his body, was so much more than he had ever hoped for since the first hesitant time they kissed holed up together in the Captain’s meeting room, unsure how the other felt but both certain of their own emotions.

Kirk wrapped his hand around them both, slowly pumping them up and down together, savoring every quiet gasp and sigh, every tremor and shake of Spock’s body, every bit of trust Spock had extended to him when he invited him in – into his quarters, into his relationship, into his confidence. He wasn’t cheesy enough to pretend this was love or whatever – maybe he wanted to be but the past few years had taken a toll on that kind of romanticism. But it didn’t really matter because what Kirk felt for him – for both of his partners – was enough. 

Spock’s tongue grazed his lower lip as he got close and Kirk loved to watch his face – the way his eyelids closed, the wrinkle across his nose, the way his legs began to shake. That moment of ecstasy when he was truly gone, when he lost all control – Kirk felt privileged to see it. 

Kirk cursed under his breath, knowing he couldn’t last much longer either, the relentless assault on his body from both sides more than he could bare. He felt Uhura’s teeth at his neck and he heard the shaky little pants Spock couldn’t help and he pressed his sweaty forehead against Spock’s and groaned as electricity rolled across him, dragging his orgasm from him slowly and delightfully, making him moan and shiver and sigh.

It took a moment before he realized Spock’s hand was on his own, keeping his pace a moment longer before reaching his own climax and Kirk was mildly amused as he basked in the beauty of Spock’s own orgasm, remembering the months it took before Spock felt comfortable enough to touch himself in front of him, pleased to see it now.

He watched Spock’s face as it relaxed, his breathing hard, and Kirk kissed at his upper lip, moved down his chin before turning to look as well as he could at Uhura. There was a sheen of sweat on her face and she leaned up to kiss his cheek, then watched his with a quirk of her lip at his quick intake of breath when she pulled out. 

But Kirk knew what she really wanted and he grinned at her, hoping it didn’t come off too sad but feeling like he failed, and avoided looking at Spock as much as possible as Kirk slid out from between them to wash his hands and rinse his face. He heard the strap on hit the floor and the shift of bodies along sheets and the little stifled moan and he could imagine the way her back arched as Spock went down on her without having to turn around to see it at all. 

There was a looseness in his bones as he ran his hands beneath the water, conscious of every second of water ration he wasted even though it would be cleaned and regenerated. And in the same way he could never shut his brain off, he couldn’t help but feel that dragging feeling, pulling him back down – this momentary distraction a thin candle against the violent blackness of his self-doubt and angst. If he could just figure out what he wanted he could – 

Yet that wasn’t really it, was it? He knew what he wanted. He wanted more adventure, more fun , and less responsibility – but he still wanted to save the day. He wanted the place his father’s name had in history, the grandeur and the glory – but he didn’t want to be forced to compete with his legacy. He wanted Spock and he wanted him unconditionally, wanted him on his terms – but he wanted him to be happy. He wanted – 

Well, that’s always the way it was with him. He wanted what he couldn’t have and what he wasn’t willing to take. So there was nothing to do but swallow it down, swallow it hard, and do what he was willing to do – the right fucking thing. 

Kirk splashed water on his face, pink from exertion and sweat, and turned his eyes down and the water off so he didn’t have to look at himself. He glanced out the door, tried not to let his heart seize watching how Spock whispered softly to her, their hands entwined just beneath her breasts, an easy smile on her lips. Of course it was easy – for her. 

He took a breath and steeled himself, determined to get his clothes and leave, get back to his room and pass out for a few hours before it was back to the bridge. But somehow Uhura was up before he even had his pants at his waist, and her hands on his wrists, kissing his still and expressionless face, gently, on the chin. 

“Stay here tonight,” she murmured and he could feel her eyes studying him, asking him to look at her instead of being the giant stubborn baby he was trying to be. “I’ve got work I need to finish – it’s okay.”

Hesitating only a little, Kirk brought his eyes up to meet hers, trying to gauge whether she was really comfortable with that or not. And although he saw a touch of unease, more than anything he saw exhaustion, that same soul sucking exhaustion that he felt constantly, and he realized then that she understood. 

Uhura’s eyes flicked to the bed in a movement that took half a second and even more quietly she repeated, “it’s okay.”

Kirk let his pants fall and the back of his fingers brush against her cheek as he leaned down to graze his lips against hers. And then she was the one gathering her clothes as he slipped his feet out of his, discarding his pants where they lay to join Spock in bed.

It wasn’t right how good it made him feel to tuck himself up against Spock again and know he had him all to himself. He tried to ignore the grin on his face as he pressed it against Spock’s ribcage, knowing Spock wasn’t really a cuddler but also knowing he’d put up with it right now. 

Uhura stepped back to the bed once dressed, stroked through Spock’s hair a couple times, rested her hand on Kirk’s upper arm for a moment. Kirk could see the way Spock looked up at her – he wondered if it were even possible for someone to look at him like that. Surely if Spock did, he would see it. Kirk had seen it so many times now, surely he would know.

“You boys be good,” she teased as her hand slipped away and she left them together for the night. 

Kirk’s fingers sought out Spock’s, slipping them between his, squeezing them, waiting for Spock to apply pressure too before closing his eyes, kissing his lips softly, tasting Uhura on them like she was still there but he’d tasted her before and he didn’t mind. Spock was her’s still, it was right that she was there. 

He appreciated that Spock said nothing, didn’t try to comfort him, just let himself be the comfort Kirk needed simply by being there. It wasn’t what he wanted, not really – none of this was. But when Spock looked at him, those eyes, just a touch of that look... it all kinda seemed worth it.