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The Genetic Soap Opera (or, One of the Less Dignified Royal Weddings)

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Jim swung his feet back and forth as his fingers curled around the edges of the exam table. "We done yet, Bones?"

"You got places to be, kid?"

Jim scratched his head and looked around Sickbay absently. "Well, I am the captain of a starship."

"You're off for the night," said Bones, his voice flat with disinterest. "You have no plans except watching porn and going to sleep early. That's why we're doing your physical now."

Jim huffed. "Well... maybe I want to make sure I have enough time to jerk off before I go to bed. I need my rest, you know."

Bones' response was to attack him with a hypo.

"Jesus fuck!" Jim rubbed his neck. "What did you inject me with now?"

"A little vitamin mix we like to call a 'liquid banana'." Bones was poking at a PADD and frowning. "Jim. You didn't lie about your date of birth, did you?"

"Did I produce a fake birth certificate when I joined Starfleet? Did the hospital get the date wrong when they put it together? You know, it's almost February and I still want to put the year as 2259 on stuff, so I couldn't really blame them, but I was born in the middle of March and hospitals are professional, so I don't think that kind of mistake happened."

Bones sighed. "So many words and so much sarcasm, when all I wanted was, 'no, Dr. McCoy, not even I would stoop that low'."

"I'd never call you Dr. McCoy. Not in private, anyway, baby."

"I have another banana hypo and I will use it," Bones hissed. "So, you're not quite twenty-seven."

Bones was frowning at the PADD. Jim crossed his arms.

"Jim, the results from this physical match every physical you've had logged with Starfleet for the past five years."

"So that's good, right? I can leave, right?"

"It's like you're not aging, not even gradually," Bones said mostly to himself. "You haven't got diffuse leprosy. I checked twice."

"Well, that's good news."

"I'm thirty-two," Bones went on. "You pull up my Starfleet medical records, there's a gradual but clear change signifying the effects of aging over the past five years. I have a typical work-up for a thirty-two-year-old male."

"Even with the stress and love of booze?"

Bones threw a stylus at him, which Jim dodged. "I'm not an alcoholic, I don't even drink on a regular basis."

"I never called you an alcoholic!" Jim protested. "And I see you're keeping silent about the stress thing."

"My point," said Bones loudly, "is that while I have typical physical health for someone in my age group, you have the physical health of a twenty-year-old. And you can't blame stress for aging, because you got shot at three times in the past two weeks," he snapped as soon as Jim opened his mouth for rebuttal.

"My family has been known to age well?" Jim tried instead.

Bones frowned at him some more. "I'm suspicious."

"That sucks for you," said Jim, making to hop off the exam table. "If we're done here, I might go bathe in the blood of infants to retain my youth before my bedtime jer--"

He was halted by a hand on his sternum. "You stay," said Bones.

"But we're done," protested Jim (he was not whining, no matter what Bones liked to say about that particular tone of voice).

Bones shook his head and went to a drawer by the exam table, pulling out a fucking hypodermic needle. Jim recoiled.

"What the fucking fuck is that for?" he yelped.

"I want to do a genetic work-up," said Bones. "I need DNA."

"Take a cheek swab then!" yelled Jim, scrabbling back on the table without looking away from the needle.

"I want to be sure I have lots of genetic material," insisted Bones, menacingly grabbing Jim's arm and man, was he secretly strong. "I'm going to test the shit out of it."

"This is medieval. I'm firing you," said Jim, looking fixedly at the far wall of Sickbay as he felt a pinch at the inside of his elbow.

"Chapel would replace me," said Bones peaceably as he sucked Jim's blood from his arm like a sociopathic vampire.

Jim thought about that. Chapel had fixed him up the last time he got shot, and there had been a lot of dirty looks and hyposprays that hadn't seemed medically necessary. But mostly, she didn't come sit by his bedside to do paperwork at the end of shift.

"Fine," he said. "Keep your stupid job."

"We're done here," said Bones, whisking away Jim's blood and patting him briskly on the shoulder. "Would you like a candy, for being so good?"

Jim glared. "I doubt you really have any candy."

***

Jim must have successfully blocked out the memory of the incident, because when Bones crashed a chess game with Spock two weeks later to wave around his PADD and declare that he had the test results, Jim had to spend a few seconds figuring out what he meant.

"Oh," he said, "that gene test you stole my blood for. Did it confirm that you're a lunatic, or do we need more blood for that?" He moved his rook into check and basked in the flicker of rage that passed over Spock's face.

"I believe that character references are all that would be needed to institutionalize the doctor, should you feel prepared to take such action," said Spock as he glared at the chess board. He glanced up for a second. "I would be pleased to provide one."

Jim laughed over Bones calling Spock an asshole.

"Calm down, Bones, let's have it," said Jim.

Bones brought the PADD over and showed Jim a bunch of graphs of medical gibberish. "I ran it four times to be sure--and put up a red flag at Starfleet Medical in the process, but whatever, I've practically got carte blanche for research--and it looks like either you do have diffuse leprosy and I just haven't found it yet, or you're part Vulcan."

"My money's still on leprosy," he added into the ensuing silence.

Spock had frozen with his queen in hand. "Gentlemen, you told me last year that this annual practical joke festival you humans celebrate occurs in April, not January."

"The only thing he's kidding about is me having leprosy, because I don't have it," said Jim absently. His mind was working overtime and Bones was giving him a look of growing horror.

"Huh," Jim said finally, feeling oddly calm. "How about that. It was true."

"What, seriously?" asked Bones.

"What is going on?" Spock demanded.

Jim sat back in his chair. "My grandma Rose told me when I was little that one of my great-great-great grandmas on the Kirk side was Vulcan. I asked my mom and she said it was bullshit." He shrugged. "Mom generally only says things are bullshit when they are, so I believed her."

"Jesus Christ," said Bones.

Jim glanced up at Spock, who was looking down at the table with his head in his hands. He seemed to be massaging his temples. "Are you suggesting that you have Vulcan ancestry?" he asked, his voice muffled.

"Bones is doing all the suggesting here," said Jim. "My grandma, god rest her, wasn't known for her sage wisdom. She used to insist that a shot of warm vodka with pepper in it would cure colds." Jim smiled fondly. "She also used to claim she got a lot of colds."

"Oh my god," said Bones faintly, his eyes dancing. "Jim Kirk is Vulcan. A species' secret shame." Then he started laughing.

Jim glanced over at Spock, who looked extremely stony-faced, and then down at the chessboard, which he considered briefly before deciding to go for the knight move he had available. "Check," he said again.

Spock huffed, knocked over his own king, and stood up quickly. "I have something I must attend to," he said before sweeping out of Jim's quarters. Jim could almost see the trail of frustration that followed Spock out.

"He's livid," said Jim thoughtfully. "I think you broke him."

"How can you tell?" said Bones, most of his attention on his PADD.

Jim glanced at the chessboard, at Spock's king that had rolled into Jim's knight. "He never forfeits."

***

"Father, I thank you for taking my call," said Spock, sitting tensely at his desk.

Sarek said, "It is no trouble. I was merely about to select a book to read this evening. What is your purpose for calling, Spock?"

Spock took a steadying breath, attempting to calm his agitation. "I have learned some... interesting news. Apparently Dr. McCoy has performed some genetic testing on our captain, for unknown but likely ethically dubious reasons. In the course of his analysis, he discovered that Captain Kirk has vulcanoid ancestry, which the captain then supported with anecdotal geneological evidence."

Sarek looked surprised; his eyebrow arched. "Interesting indeed, Spock. To whom does he trace his lineage?"

Spock had known Sarek would ask and felt irritated that he could not offer a satisfying answer. "I do not believe he knows. If the anecdote he provided was accurate, then it was a Vulcan female, probably resident on or in proximity to Earth five human generations ago. Between one hundred and one hundred fifty years."

Sarek looked down, pondering. "I believe that may be enough to ask T'Pau or consult the clan records. I will contact you later when I have discovered something of use. Will you be at liberty for the next several hours?"

"It is evening on the ship as well, and I am off-duty."

His father nodded. "Very well." He showed Spock the ta'al briefly before disconnecting the call.

It was fortunate that it only took an hour and a half for Sarek to call with information, as Spock found himself unable to be productive in that time period. He pressed the button to receive the incoming call with perhaps slightly more enthusiasm than was appropriate.

"I spoke with T'Pau," said Sarek without preamble.

"And?"

"She could not summon up memories of her own and was forced to consult the record databases, but there was only one female known to be on Earth in that time period. Her name was T'Sala and she was from a significant branch of the House of Sakonna; she arrived on Earth with a diplomatic envoy one hundred and seventeen Earth years ago and did not return to Vulcan with the party."

Spock quietly absorbed this information. "Why did she not return?"

"It is not in the records T'Pau examined. It was not terribly uncommon at that time for some among our people to pursue other opportunities available to them on new planets, after taking time to examine their surroundings and deem them acceptable."

"I see," said Spock. "So it is entirely plausible that T'Sala of Sakonna is in fact an ancestor of Captain Kirk. It does seem illogical to me, given the struggle you and Mother endured to conceive me, that a Vulcan on Earth a century ago would have been able to bear a half-Vulcan, half-human child."

Sarek shrugged minutely. "Earth had some talented geneticists at that time; they eradicated several genetic diseases in the twenty-second century. The mother being the Vulcan parent may have also been a factor. Suffice to say that T'Pau believed it entirely credible. You may inform your captain of his heritage and invite him to contact T'Pau at his convenience, should he wish to learn more or make any arrangements."

Spock froze. "Arrangements?"

"Spock, use your reason. If James Kirk has a traceable Vulcan ancestry, he may claim the right of citizenship if he chooses. He is also heir to the House of Sakonna, as no one else survived."

"Of... of course," said Spock. "Thank you, Father. Please relay my gratitude to T'Pau for her assistance."

Sarek nodded amiably and they exchanged the ta'al again; Spock spotted a book in his hand as Sarek reached to terminate the call.

Spock leaned back into his chair, hearing it creak as he stared up at the ceiling of his quarters. Jim was the heir of a major clan's assets and could claim Vulcan citizenship; Spock was not confident he would survive this event unscathed. He pondered keeping the information to himself, but if T'Pau was aware of the nature of his enquiries then all was likely lost; she might contact Jim herself at some point and then Spock would endure her disfavour. Possibly for the remainder of her days, based on testimony from others of her ability to hold a grudge. Spock blinked up at the ceiling and envied Jim a moment for having a grandmother who simply found excuses to drink.

***

"So you were totally wrong," said Jim. He relished anytime he got to say that, because those times were disgustingly rare with his mom.

Winona smirked. "Really? I can't wait to hear all about it."

"You remember when Grandma said Dad's family had Vulcan blood and you told me she was a batty old drunk?"

"I don't think I called her a batty old drunk."

"You really, really did. I remember."

"You were seven."

"I remember," Jim repeated. "Anyway, turns out that she was right."

"Even a stopped clock, Mini-Me."

Jim talked over her. "So Bones did a gene test on me because he was suspicious of my youthful vigour, and it turned out that there are actually traces of Vulcan characteristics in my genetics."

He was expecting more of an argument from her but she was just staring at him calmly from the viewscreen, her brow furrowed a little. When her brow furrowed, she was usually figuring out how to take apart or destroy something (sometimes it was Jim's life). The skin prickled at the back of Jim's neck and he felt an insane urge to duck. If ducking would help, he'd have done it a long time ago.

"Huh," she said finally. "You know...."

Jim braced himself.

"You and your brother were born almost seven years apart."

The implication took a moment to sink in but when it did... he couldn't possibly have braced himself enough for that. He clutched at his head in agony. "Mom! Goddammit!" he shouted.

"What?" she said. "The fucking stork didn't bring you, Jimmy!"

Jim had his eyes squeezed shut to block out the horror. "But if I would rather believe that it did, then you can't stop me," he said desperately.

"Anyway," she went on, "you probably have a case for Vulcan citizenship. That's neat. Being part-Vulcan also makes you and your brother and your dad make more sense than I'm sure I'm comfortable with."

"Right," said Jim, "because you're the normal one."

"He gets a captaincy and thinks he can sass his mother. I'll tell Chris to demote you so you'll learn your place." She glanced offscreen and shifted in her seat. "Look, kiddo, I've got to catch a shuttle in a couple hours and I haven't packed yet."

"I don't know why you even unpack in the first place," said Jim. "Where are you going now?"

"Rigel IV. There's a space yacht out there that belongs to an admiral. Been stuck in dock for weeks because of some electrical issues."

"Since when do you do favours for admirals?" asked Jim.

Winona smiled devilishly. "Since he's gonna owe me for fixing his ship. I'm not even charging him full price for my time."

Jim sighed. Half of Starfleet was going to owe her favours if they didn't already. And then he suspected her master plan would be ready for the next step. Jim guessed that it had to be galactic domination, but Winona did have a gift for misdirection.

"Love you, Mini-Me. Let me know if you end up with dual citizenship; I'll tell George Jr. all about it next time he calls, if you want."

"Cool," said Jim, and they nodded at each other before disconnecting.

Jim stared at the black screen for a moment, exhaled loudly, and then levered himself to his feet and went to make a post-Winona drink.

***

Two days later, Jim was contacted by a truly ancient-looking woman named T'Pau, who he recognized as one of the elders Spock had rescued from Vulcan. She stared at him stonily and made his spine straighten itself out even from dozens of light-years away.

"Captain James Kirk?" she said.

"Ma'am."

She seemed to be looking him over, but her face was so utterly devoid of expression that he couldn't tell what she thought of him, if he measured up to some standard. "It has come to our attention that you have Vulcan ancestry in the House of Sakonna, through your ancestor T'Sala."

"I guess," said Jim, his back still tense.

"Do you wish to acknowledge your connection to this ancestral line and claim Vulcan citizenship?"

Jim thought for a second. "Can I keep my Earth citizenship?"

"You may hold both simultaneously."

"All right," he said, "why not?"

She seemed to frown at his flippancy, except he realized that her expression still hadn't shifted. Disapproval just emanated from her like a wave. "We shall transmit the appropriate documents to your vessel," she said. "By accepting citizenship you will also accept your claim as the heir of the House of Sakonna."

Jim blinked a few times at that. He was going to inherit things? That couldn't be right. "But I have an older brother," he said. "Shouldn't he be the heir?"

T'Pau glanced off to the side for a second, and he realized she was consulting something when she turned her attention back to him and said, "George Samuel Kirk? Your inheritance may be contested by him, should he also wish to claim his birthrights. Do you anticipate this occurring?"

Jim thought. Sam had been on Deneva with his wife and kid for ten years, talked to Jim the week of his birthday and that was it, called their mom around the new year to show off how big the kid was and keep her from coming to Deneva to make sure he was still alive. He didn't really like acknowledging his human heritage, let alone any other species that might come into the mix. "I think we're probably fine," Jim said. "Anyway, there can't be much to inherit, right? If there's no one left in the family tree except me and him in the first place?"

T'Pau arched an eyebrow a few millimeters. "Many clans of Vulcan possess wealth in off-planet holdings," she said. "Sakonna is a distinguished family with many investments in mining operations in the Rigellian and Vegan systems, although their considerable holdings on Vulcan were of course destroyed." She glanced at her crib notes again. "The current estimate of the clan holdings we possess is valued at approximately forty-six million credits."

There was a short silence, both in the conversation and inside Jim's head. "I'm sorry," he said after a moment, and then had to clear the scratchiness out of his voice. "I think I misheard you. Can you repeat that?" He could have sworn she'd said forty-six million credits, but that couldn't be right at all.

She glanced at the corner of her screen. "There is no error in the connection," she said. "Your clan inheritance is currently forty-six million credits. But the Rigellian investments are seeing significant growth."

"Oh," said Jim, bracing an elbow on his desk as he rubbed hard at one temple. He squeezed his eyes shut. "Okay. And you're saying this money is mine?"

"There are no other surviving members of your house. It belongs to you and your kin, once you have accepted citizenship. You may also fill the Sakonna seat on the High Council, should you wish."

Jim looked up sharply. "Pardon?"

T'Pau's disapproval waves took on a sharp edge of annoyance. "Sakonna is a major house of Vulcan and has held a representative's seat on the High Council since the Enlightenment. While it is not imperative that you fulfill your role as the head of the house by taking the seat, particularly given your current career, it exists. The Council simply requires some indication of your intentions to occupy it or not at this time."

Jim looked up to the ceiling like he thought he'd magically find some kind of help up there. As usual, he was on his own. "Yeah," he said slowly, "I think maybe right now's not a good time. I can retire from Starfleet in about twenty, twenty-five years, though."

"That would be acceptable," said T'Pau. "Unless you have inquiries at this time, I will take my leave and we will transmit your citizenship documents momentarily."

"I think I'm good," Jim said faintly.

***

The immediate effect of Jim's newfound lineage was that he had something new to annoy Spock with that always brought him results. First, Jim sat in the officer's mess with Spock to fill out his citizenship papers, insisting that he needed Spock to translate all the Vulcan on the forms and filling things out very slowly while Spock looked around desperately for Uhura (whether to save him from Jim or throw her to the wolves wasn't clear). She was probably entertained by his pain, though, because she steered clear, and it likely said volumes about Spock's problems that he kept surrounding himself with people who enjoyed emotional torture like the command crew of the Enterprise.

Once the papers were filled out and submitted, there was still the joy over the next few weeks of continually reminding Spock of his horror. Jim would tell random crewmembers (who already knew, but what the hell) and even foreign dignitaries about how he was recently found to be part Vulcan, and then chit-chat would ensue variously about how cool that was, or how nice it was for interspecies relations for the Vulcans to have a Starfleet captain from Earth as a citizen. Sometimes Spock's teeth would grind audibly. It didn't stop there, though; Jim declared that he was taking his unique opportunity to learn all about Vulcans and kept asking Spock questions about Vulcan culture and his new clan ties, asking Spock for Vulcan lessons since Uhura was both mean and not a native speaker....

Finally, one day over dinner Spock hissed that he was going to depose Jim as captain and take over the Enterprise. Jim glanced at Bones, who was laughing into his food, and then smirked. "It's cool," he said, digging into his potatoes, "if that's what you think is best. I guess I can retire early from Starfleet and get going on my career in politics."

"What," said Spock flatly.

"Oh, you didn't know?" Jim asked innocently around a mouthful of food. "T'Pau offered me a seat on the High Council." He shrugged as Spock stared and Bones began to wheeze. "I mean, I can't do that and be a captain at once, but it sounds pretty interesting...." He trailed off.

Spock seemed a little paler.

"Spock? You were saying?"

Spock got up abruptly and stormed away with his tray, muttering something that sounded like, "I cannot believe you."

Jim grinned as Bones slapped him on the back heartily, still laughing.

***

It was a Tuesday, and Jim woke up feeling antsy. Bones was on the bridge when he got there, talking to Lt. Breen about something, and Jim slapped his ass impulsively on the way by. "Morning, Bones," he said in answer to the squawk Bones let out. Then he winked at Uhura when he walked past her station.

She tilted her head at him. "Someone ate his Wheaties this morning," she drawled.

Jim blinked and then processed what she'd said. "Uhura, no one understands or cares about your nerdy 20th century pop culture references."

"Wow, Jim," she said, because it wasn't 0800 yet and the unspoken rule between them said she could still be mildly insubordinate. "You're almost as big a liar as you are a Michael Jackson fan."

Jim glared at her. The next few volleys in this argument were well-established: he would innocently comment on how hacking one's captain's personal files was actually good for time in the brig and charges, and she'd counter that with an observation that he was the only living being who had learned to do the Moonwalk unironically. But they were on the bridge and Jim was too itchy under the skin to go through that this morning, so he just cleared his throat and loudly said, "Anyway! Who's got the time?"

"It is 0758," said Spock, who was mostly ignoring the proceedings.

"Lt. Uhura and her sass are making you all get to work two minutes early," Jim declared.

"You're a tyrant, Captain," she said, twirling her chair to face her station.

Jim watched the whip of her ponytail behind her, mesmerized. "Yep," he said, and ignored Bones' strange look.

***

By Thursday, Jim was in Sickbay of his own free will.

"I think it's a fever," he said as Bones stared at the tricorder. "Did I catch the flu epidemic?"

"That's a good hypothesis, Dr. Kirk," said Bones, not looking up, "but we'll wait for my trusty little friend here to tell us what's up. Also, there's no bug going around the ship right now. Unless you caught something at the last starbase and it wasn't on your junk for a change, you're just special."

Jim opened his mouth but the tricorder trilled and Bones was instantly consumed by the readout. "Your body temp is up a couple degrees," he said, "and your heart rate and blood pressure are higher than normal." He finally looked up. "It's probably nothing, though. Maybe you are fighting off a bug. Eat properly and sleep once in a while, and let me know if things get worse."

***

"Jim," said Uhura on Friday, "my eyes are up here."

"Hmm?" said Jim, coming out of a trance where he thought he might have been staring at her rack, but he wasn't sure. "You smell great," he blurted.

Amazingly, she blushed. "Three words," she said, sticking a long-nailed finger in his face. "Sexual. Harassment. Seminar."

Jim blinked, and the corridor shifted about twenty degrees clockwise before settling back to where it was supposed to be. "I think I need to lie down," he said faintly.

"Jesus," she said, and he was absorbed by the nice feeling of her body heat as she crowded him into the closest turbolift. "Try not to pass out in the hall," she said with a look of actual concern before the door slid shut.

***

"Captain," said Rand over the intercom before using her override to get into the front room of his quarters. Jim had successfully made it to bed--well, on top of the covers--and passed out for maybe an hour before she arrived.

"In here," he called through the closed bedroom door. "I'm decent."

The door slid open and she poked her head through it. "Report to Sickbay," she said.

Jim rolled onto his back and rubbed at the bridge of his nose. "Says who? My mother's in the Rigel sector."

"Says your ship mother, Dr. McCoy," chirped Rand. "Apparently Lt. Uhura went to see him with concerns about your well-being."

Jim hauled himself up into a sitting position, feeling muddled. He actually hated naps and didn't know why he'd even taken one. Looking at Rand, he was transfixed by all the leg showing between her skirt hem and the top of her boots. "That was nice of her," he said absently.

"So, Sickbay, Captain. Can you get there by yourself? The doctor said something about dragging you if you wouldn't go willingly."

Jim blinked up at her face and saw her raised eyebrow. She knew where he'd been looking. Rand was like nineteen, dammit. "Uh," he said, "give me a minute. I'm a little...." He waved his hand in the air a little, hoping that conveyed how he felt.

She backed out of the doorway. "I'll let him know you're on your way, sir."

Jim gave it five minutes for everything in his vision to quit shifting around queasily, and then he got up to go to Sickbay.

He woke up in a biobed with no idea how he got there.

"Bones?" he called.

Chapel leaned over his bed. "Captain," she said. "He's on the bridge."

"What, how," he managed. He was so hot he wondered how the gown didn't burn and crumple off of him, and his nerve endings were searing with pain. He winced.

Chapel frowned and poked at the machine he was hooked up to. "A midshipman found you collapsed in a corridor on Deck 12 half an hour ago."

"Deck 12?" said Jim. That was four decks out of his way to Sickbay from his quarters.

"That was almost an hour after Ms. Rand called in that you were on your way here," said Chapel, who was still studying his monitors. "You've running a fever of almost 40 centigrade and your BP and heart rate are climbing to unstable levels. Did you come into contact with something you're having a reaction to?"

"I've felt off for a couple days," Jim said, feeling faint. Chapel was wearing perfume or something; he couldn't focus. "Flu."

"It's not the flu," she said, and gave his shoulder a quick squeeze before turning to leave. Then she froze. "Captain, let go of my wrist."

Jim blinked and squinted and then saw that he had grabbed her wrist. "I'm trying," he said. He couldn't seem to tell his hand to let her go.

"Captain," she said, and then, "Jim, you're hurting me."

"I," Jim started, and then pulled her wrist until she fell forward, over the bed with her free hand braced on the mattress to keep from landing on him. All of her short, blonde hair swung into her pink face over his and her lips parted. Jim leaned up to kiss her and then the panic button beside his bed went off; she'd slapped it, and two orderlies came over to haul her off of him.

Jim stared through a haze as Chapel backed off several steps, behind the orderlies, still flushed and raking her hair back out of her face. "Get Dr. McCoy," she said. "Now, right now."

***

Jim was on the good drugs and trying to tear his way out of restraints by the end of alpha shift, because his skin was on fire. The curtains were pulled around his bed, had been for hours, and when they twitched aside to admit someone into his sterilized hell it wasn't McCoy looking ten years older, or Chapel keeping her distance, it was Spock, looking solemn.

"Lt. Uhura said you were in Sickbay," he said calmly, and his voice was like a cool cascade over Jim's fever. "She was very concerned but Dr. McCoy has limited your visitation." He looked Jim over. "I understand his reasons."

"What's wrong with me?" Jim rasped. Words were hard to string together but Spock's presence made it a little easier.

"Lt. Uhura and Dr. Chapel described your symptoms as high fever and 'an urge to hump the leg of any available female'. That is a direct quote from the Lieutenant," he said unnecessarily. He took a step closer to the bed.

Jim looked at Spock, traced his gaze along the points of his ears and studied his blank face and moved his eyes down the strong planes of his chest under two layers of clothing. "You know what's wrong," he realized out loud.

"Vulcan males occasionally experience a strong fever, accompanied by... impulses."

Jim tried to scrape thoughts together. "Pon farr?" he asked.

"How do you know about it?"

"I hear things." God, it hurt to speak. He wished Spock would come and touch his face and they could think at each other instead. He wanted that soothing, cool voice right inside his brain.

"Pon farr is a mating drive. It can be fatal."

"For who?"

"You, mostly. Satisfying the urge will cause it to dissipate. For a while."

"A while?"

"Years," said Spock, and he was standing beside Jim's biobed now. Jim's nearest arm pulled against his restraints but couldn't move.

"Someone's gotta nail me?" Jim asked. "I can deal with that."

Spock's face tightened a little at the choice of words. "Normally it is someone you wish to remain with," said Spock. "For Vulcans. For you it may be different but I would not dare assume."

"A Vulcan?" asked Jim.

Spock shrugged.

Jim reached with his mind for Spock's coolness and raised his hand as high as it would go in the restraints, seeking. Spock looked at Jim's hand and then took it loosely in his, and Jim knew that normally Spock felt warm but not right now. Right now, it was like he'd touched cool water, or maybe ice, and the coolness was traveling up his arm and straight into his brain. Jim sighed and closed his eyes for a second, and then suddenly he could think again. He cracked open one eye and peered at Spock.

"Tell me, would your clan be marrying down, or straight across? How's your dowry looking?"

Spock looked suddenly tired. "Marrying you is most likely marrying down, regardless of finances," he told the ceiling.

"I meant for me," said Jim, cracking a grin. He tugged at Spock's hand to get his attention again; he basked in Spock's attention every time it was on him. "Hey," he said.

Spock stared at him for a long time while Jim tried not to panic, tried to tread water above the crazy red-hot oblivion he'd been drowning in ten minutes ago, sedatives be damned. Then Spock's shoulders relaxed and his expression shifted subtly, and most importantly his thumb traced over Jim's knuckle in a caress that sent Jim cold and then hot all over.

"You will infuriate me every day until you die, anyway," said Spock.

"You may as well get my money," Jim agreed.

Spock squeezed his hand and then let it go, and a line of worry smoothed out from his forehead whose existence Jim hadn't noticed until it vanished. "I have arrangements to make," he said. "Attempt to rest, and also endeavour not to behave in a predatory manner toward any female crew. Or Dr. McCoy."

"I'll do my best," said Jim, squeezing his hand around empty air briefly as he watched Spock move back to the curtain. "I meant it about the dowry!" he said as Spock left him.

***

Spock didn't have a dowry or take Jim's last name, which was all very disappointing, but once Jim was back to normal and only flirting with Uhura on purpose, things settled down to a new equilibrium that he liked: a bigger bed in his quarters with a very warm body in it, regular sex, a refreshing change in repertoire from Uhura and Bones in the teasing department, and best of all, lots of one-on-one time with Spock.

"I do not understand why you are incapable of putting your laundry in the chute rather than on the floor all around it," Spock complained, tossing Jim's gold shirt at the open chute.

"I pay Rand to clean the place," said Jim over his book.

"Starfleet pays her to conduct duties as your personal assistant, which include maintaining your schedule and correspondence among other things, but amazingly housekeeping is not among those."

Jim looked over at Spock, who had pretty much cleared the floor with free-throws at the laundry chute. "Well, you keep up the good work, then," he said, and got a dirty sock in the face for that one.

He was still laughing when he got off the couch and shoved past Spock to toss the sock in the laundry chute with its dirty brethren. "Look, I know you only married me because I was dying and because your dad will live forever and you want to steal my High Council seat," he said as he turned around again, kicking the chute closed with his foot. "If you can't give me a damn dowry then at least you can pick up my clothes, dear."

Spock crossed his arms and Jim snorted.

"That is not why I agreed to marry you."

"Uh huh," said Jim, deadpan.

Spock stepped into Jim's personal space and put a hand on the back of his neck, tugging until their foreheads touched. "It is not," he said softly.

Jim's heart felt warm. "Yeah. I know." He leaned in and kissed Spock gently, smiling into it when Spock kissed back right away.

"But you still want my seat," he said when they separated.

"You have no idea how Vulcan politics work," said Spock in frustration.

"I'll learn," said Jim cheerfully. "In fact, maybe I'll retire right now and go do just that."

Spock grabbed his arm. "You would not dare."

"Try me," said Jim with his eyes narrowed, although really, he was looking forward to a lot more years of this before settling down on the dirt again. Didn't mean he had to let Spock know that. Not right away.

 

THE END