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The Many Forms of Thirst

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There is a verbal sleight of hand that takes place each time Spock speaks of emotions, one that those closest to him have slowly begun to pinpoint. Words such as "control” and “discipline” utilized as a form of distraction while the actual answers are slid up his sleeve. One answer, in particular: Do you even feel?

Jim had been the first to decipher the code or, perhaps, simply the first one with the courage to expand on his findings. It had seemed to snap out of him, asked after a mission gone horribly wrong left the commander holding the near-lifeless form of a promising science cadet while Doctor McCoy demonstrated his irreplaceability for at least the third time that week. Afterwards, Spock had been attempting to explain to Jim why a display of relief from him would not serve the general population as well as his restraint would, his own speech in no small part a reminder to himself of the same, when he was cut off with a sharp look on the captain's otherwise tired face.

Restraint — Tell me Spock, logically, how do you cage something that doesn’t exist?” It was only a question in a grammatical sense. Asked in the same manner that a human inquires whether their child has cleaned their room. A statement of fact, a chance to ‘come clean,’ as the Standard phrase goes, and a warning not to lie all in one.

Spock had been unwilling to relent so far as to admit the actual truth and yet his lack of argument had been more than enough to lose the blanketing debate, causing a shift in what he chose to deny to Jim from that moment forward. It was a small compromise to make, though arduous to implement, the difference between not feeling and choosing not to. He knows, still, that he does not have Jim fooled. Each day he can nearly feel themselves working their way to his next, much more honest, confession: the difference between choosing not to feel and choosing not to express it.

Accepting that a life around Jim would always be one that evoked emotion, Spock's energy had been refocused on keeping the compulsory feelings from wandering too far from the source, his responses around his captain fed through a series of filters before ever seeing the light of day. He had never trusted his instincts less but, until now, Spock had considered the practice to be a success as far as his ambition to maintain a vague sense of dignity.

That is, until a soaking wet Jim Kirk was the stimulus for a reaction.

A rainstorm had been the instigator for his first experience with the phenomena. Jim and he finding themselves caught in an unforecasted one midway through their, at that juncture, opportune latest mission.

While the Class-L did have a systemic history of fronts moving in and out hastily, causing them to maintain a sense of unpredictability, the planet also boasts a stable atmosphere which left the rain categorized as only an inconvenience, the only threat the unlikely possibility of hypothermia with long term exposure. Despite the clear absence of danger, anyone observing the dramatic display of gymnastics that the captain performed in his scramble to find them a form of shelter may have worried for their safety or, more accurately, their sanity. Spock had thought it best not to comment on the obvious waste of energy, following a less… obstacle filled path towards a denser area of foliage.

No sooner had Jim declared, “Well then, this oughta work,” had the downpour began, Spock nearly making concessions on the existence of luck as the water worked its way through the layers of leaves, searching them out like a homing beacon.

A drop hits the ground only half a meter away, then another, and another, one landing on the toe of his boot before he loses count with the rapidity. Spock sits, granting agitation full access to his facial muscles until uncharacteristic flinch snaps the reprimand in his expression, elicited by wetness splashing onto the tip of his nose. Jim, for his part, makes little attempt to conceal his enjoyment, clearly considering the ordeal a vessel for his personal entertainment.

“I do hope you can handle a little rain,” Jim chuckles. “Not that I have a plan B to offer you.”

Spock allows himself a centering breath, denying permission for the shudder that taps at the base of his spine when a raindrop drips its way past his collar, making it six centimeters before being absorbed into the fabric of his uniform.

“It is not an ideal circumstance.”

Jim hums next to him, a grin slowly staking claim of his face before song-singing, “Maybe you just need a lesson in embracing the situation?”

Hair already damp and shoulders soaked, Jim pushes himself away from the trunk he was just leaning against, a smile thrown over his shoulder as he suddenly dances his way past the curtain of rain. Spock remains seated as a small heat sparks in his chest, watching Kirk’s gyrating hips and his comically lewd facial expressions as the water quickly plasters his uniform to his skin. The cloth seems to tighten, vacuuming against the sculpted planes of Jim's body, revealing a shape the First Officer is plenty acquainted with. Sparring has landed Jim under his hands and between his thighs, the Starfleet issued gym wear not leaving much in the way of unknowns but issuing plenty for an imagination to toy with. There were also the occasions in which their missions had demanded a change of wardrobe, the luxury of privacy not always included.

Though, in those circumstances, Spock had always been permitted enough of a warning to raise his shields and lower his eyes, making them dissimilar to the frequent mishaps that sharing a bathroom with a human who seems incapable of remembering the purpose, or existence, of door locking mechanisms appear to cause.

Knowing Jim Kirk has forced him to relearn the very meaning of control, and Spock vows he has been an earnest student.

Though here, shirt clinging to the defined torso and droplets of water being shucked from his hair as he shakes it to his own silent tempo, streams forming down the curvature of his cheeks and neck as the captain tilts his face upwards towards the open sky, pink tongue stretching out of his mouth like a man dying of thirst — Spock wonders if his lessons were thorough enough.

“Captain, I believe you are experiencing a bout of mania. Perhaps we were inaccurate in our testing of the chemical makeup of this planet’s precipitation and it is, somehow, acting as a form of hallucinogenic,” he states without conviction. It is a worthy wager, that Jim will stop if he is made to believe that he has accomplished his goal of comprehensively annoying Spock.

Instead, Jim only barks out a laugh, joy sparking on his face as he bends slightly at the waist with the force of it.

“Oh, come on, Spock. We’re going to get drenched either way, there’s a certain appeal in taking charge of it,” Jim teases, his breathing still shaking with the remnants of mirth.

A novella lives within the patterns that the water running down his face form, the perilous shine in his eye and hook of his mouth setting a captivating stage to read it from. Spock is still staring, unsure if the action is a voluntary one, when Jim pulls out his personal communicator and fills their surroundings with classical music a moment later, the fervor of his hips renewed at having been given a beat to follow.

The chorus only runs through once, a man boasting of all the merits of dancing with oneself, when Jim’s dancing brings him closer to where Spock still sits, growing ever soggier under the insufficient refuge. A look from Kirk, playful eyes with a determined mouth, has the Vulcan moving to stand before he even thinks to. Noticing, all at once, the protectively wide stance the autopilot of his body has seemed to think necessary, he attempts to casually move out of it, aiming for something that will read as relaxed. The captain notices, of course, fluent in body language, but even that only seems to encourage him. A shift occurs in his expression, or more accurately a swap, as the corner of his mouth lifts in amusement while his head dips, staring at Spock through widened pupils with a decisive gaze. It is, by far, a much more dangerous combination than the previous one.

There is no room between them left for Jim to seize when he decides that he must finally hit his mark, less than a third of a meter away, still swaying on the balls of his feet as he licks the wetness off of his own mouth.

“Do Vulcans have something against dancing?” Jim asks, using the same tone he always does when he wishes to summon a response, provoking with an air of challenge.

It takes far too much effort for Spock’s gaze to be held to Kirk’s eyes, compelled to his wild hair and rain tight trousers, but he manages to keep his focus on the greener flecks of Jim's irises.

“My people have many traditional dances, each reserved for their own occasions. However, I have not witnessed anything quite like your movements on my home world.”

An alarming gleam forms in Kirk’s expression as his smirk gives way to an all too pleased grin. Spock holds his ground, forcing his muscles taught as if fighting against a gale as Jim leans in, minutely closer.

“I’m choosing to take that as a compliment, Mr. Spock. And since we’re technically on the clock — that’s going on the record.”

“That is entirely your choice, Captain,” he answers, an emotion like surprise springing up in him at the status of his own vocal chords. “I have no desire to deny it.”

A droplet falls from above them, finding its place of landing on Spock’s forehead, clinging momentarily to his skin. Gravity takes over and Jim, proving once again his hostility towards subtlety, tracks its passage down the side of Spock’s nose and the crest of his mouth, to where it settles in the crease of his lips, falling away only when the Vulcan relents and parts them.

“How bold of you,” Jim laughs, more than says. “But are you bold enough to dance with me?”

His eyes earn back Jim’s with an honest, “I do not believe I would make a worthwhile partner.”

“You’re an academic sort, aren’t you?” Kirk’s voice raising in the most delightful way as his eyebrow mirrors the tone. “Believer in trial and error, champion of the scientific method, lover of empirical evidence?”

The words on their own make sense, the lines of duel context blurring as Jim's hair falls into his eye with the tilt of his head. Spock becomes all too aware of his hand where it hangs at his side, of the possibility of running it through the longer strands of Jim's normally flipped hair. He could push them out of the way, the water squeezing out through the valley of his fingers as he grips a handful of blonde at the base of Jim's skull.

He fights the urge to physically shake the thought away, nodding instead to whatever trap Jim has cast in his question.

"Your hypothesis is principally lacking," Jim declares, ignoring the droplet that forms on the side of his jaw — growing larger as the water follows the new angle of his head — until the weight of it forces it forward, sliding along the sharp cut of his mandible before dripping off where the jut of his chin meets it.

"What do you say, Spock? Care to kill some time testing a theory?"

Time, Spock realizes at once, has been lost to him. A remarkably odd sensation spurning inside of him, he realizes he has not even an estimation for how long the two of them have been staring at each other when he finds himself, incredibly, nodding again.

Jim’s eyes grow impossibly wide, his smile dying in an ‘O’ of shock, before he grabs Spock’s sleeved wrist too tightly in a wrap of his fingers, obviously not willing to risk the Vulcan changing his mind. Spock allows himself to be pulled, feet seeming to stumble forward into the rain after Jim by their own will, his concentration set on forcing the shiver out of his muscles as the full force of the cool water soaks into his tunic.

The synthetic noise is cut off, followed by Kirk’s murmur of, “Let me just find something for us —” that Spock is unconvinced is even meant to be heard.

“If Chekov asks, you have to promise to tell him I picked something by Tchaikovsky,” Jim says, his voice not faring any better with intentionality applied as his hands find their perches on Spock’s shoulder.

The Vulcan’s mind is still battling between the illogical nature of the amateur being chosen as lead and appeal of having a rational excuse for his palms to know the warmth of Jim’s waist as the sound of piano flows from the device on Kirk’s hip.

“I don’t bite. Put your hands on my —”

A flash of lightning fills the dark purple sky, illuminating Jim’s face as the light reflects off of his wet skin, the rest of his sentence lost in a clap of thunder that follows, so powerful that the planet below them seems to shake with the force of it. Unreasonably, neither immediately move into the safety of a crouch.

“Captain, I believe we should contact the —”

“I know Spock, I know,” Kirk cuts him off, the reply sounding more like frustration than acceptance.

Hands sliding lower on the blue drenched shirt, Jim’s palms cup the curvature of Spock’s prominent collar bones. Jim’s expression exists in a state of turmoil, eyes attempting to blink away the rain, the water falling into his open mouth as his face remains tipped up towards Spock’s despite the obvious impairments it is causing.

Spock’s own hair has been pulled away from his skin, hanging away from his forehead with the downward pitch of his neck, creating yet another cascade in his vision. He counts the seconds between the next flash and its accompanying growl, noting that the safety of distance is dwindling. An urging is forming on his tongue — though whether it is encouragement for Jim to speak what he clearly is still considering saying or a more compelling plea that they start their search for proper shelter, even Spock is not entirely sure.

Jim’s lips press closed with his eyes, both springing open more widely than before, the conviction of earlier earned back as a, “Spock, I —” which dies with the notes of MacDowell’s love song, cut into by the chirp of his communicator, Mr. Scott’s voice making a lack luster replacement.

“Things a lookin' a tad worrisome doon there, Kaptin. N’ scans say th' warst is yit ta come. We're locked onta if ya think it best to beam outta there now.”

Kirk’s face collapses and then instantly rights itself with only a half sincere smile. His hand pats the warm patch it has created in the wet fabric of Spock’s shirt twice before gripping it tight enough to ring out some of the moisture, only for it to resoak in their absence when his fingers fall away. They skim down Spock’s chest, a few inches, before moving towards his comm, removing it from its holster.

“Yes, Mr. Scott, that’ll probably be for the best.”

The transport back to the ship creates physical distance between them as the process sends them to their own pads, the hum of the ship replacing the roar of the storm.

Jim turns to him, smiling ruefully as he offers a, “We’ll get you dancing yet, Mr. Spock.”

Spock watches him go, horrified at his own reaction to the sight of Jim’s back, the trench of his spine between the bugle of his defined trapezoids. Eyes falling to the delicate way his waterlogged pants cling to shapely form of his —

“We shall see, Captain.”