He was definitely not someone to exploit his privilege and excessively take advantage of luxuries only available to higher ranks in the chain of command, but sometimes, just sometimes, there were undeniable benefits to the accoutrements of captaincy, specifically of the captain’s quarters and the ensuite bathroom.
Being able to take a good old-fashioned water-based shower instead of having his body cleaned by sonic pulse vibrations was one such luxury, and by God, he was going to enjoy an unnecessarily long and steaming hot shower tonight that was sure to tick off the conservation and recycling manager in Operations.
Kirk smiled to himself as he entered his quarters and stripped off his boots and uniform without delay. Just the anticipation of the hot water pounding his back and shoulders, washing off sweat and grime and the beginning symptoms of a stress-induced headache, was already balm for his soul. Maybe some much needed self-care would even restore his mood and courage enough that he could invite Spock for a spontaneous game of chess and a nightcap later. Kirk had grown to enjoy his company immensely over the past few months, and what was true for their smooth and efficient work as command team, was even truer for their private rapport. Something about his allegedly so logical and sober first officer — something felt just right, intimately right, and this was so much more than just an intellectual kinship. Spock had proven to be a good friend, a great listener, and honestly wonderful and entertaining company, no matter what prejudices others had about Vulcans. The man even had an unequalled dry sense of humour and coruscating wit, if one only managed to get to know him better. And Kirk would give much, he had to admit to himself, if he could find a way to deepen this knowledge even more.
With a new spring in his step despite his exhaustion, Kirk crossed the sleeping area to the ‘fresher and set the control panel to “water, 42°C” before opening and entering the stall in one swift motion — and bumping into the body of his first officer.
The very wet body of his first officer.
The very naked body of his first officer.
Kirk’s musings came to a screeching halt as he found himself chest to chest with the Vulcan under the hot spray from above. Chess — nightcaps — dry humour — Spock —
“Captain,” the everything but dry Vulcan acknowledged him with a stiff nod. And no one, Kirk thought with the part of his brain that was still functioning but hysterically grasping for the most irrelevant aspect of his current situation, should look that dignified with their soaked fringe plastered to their forehead.
“Your hair is wet,” Kirk blurted out, finding his voice and immediately regretting it.
There seemed to be the tiniest spark of amusement in Spock’s eyes that he certainly did not imagine, not with their faces so close to each other.
“This is a feature of a Terran style shower, not a fault,” came the reply. And then, after taking a deep breath as if he needed to steel himself, and with an air of formal solemnity, Spock said, “Let me express my felicitations on the occasion of this important day, Captain, and my hope that it will further our friendship.”
“Happy April Showers is the correct phrasing, if I recall correctly. Dr McCoy informed me that the holiday of April Showers is a matter of utmost importance to many natives of Terra, and that it is especially important to you. Age-old custom requires one should share a shower with the being to whom one feels closest, so that the relationship shall bloom in May.” Spock inclined his head slightly to one side in his typical inquisitive way, but there was a shadow of insecurity crossing his face. “I hope I did not err in my judgement.”
“Happy April Showers,” Kirk could only repeat, mildly light-headed, and making it sound somewhere between a question and a confirmation, before his brain caught up with the rest of Spock’s words. “Closest. Our relationship. You once said you were ashamed when you felt friendship for me.” His head felt much clearer all of a sudden. “And now, are you — ?”
“Our friendship is important to me. You are important to me. There is honour in this — feeling for you.”
There was a gentleness and vulnerability in his voice that finally pulled Kirk out of this stupor. How difficult it had to be for Spock to speak about his feelings, about such private matters! Instinctively, Kirk reached out and laid his hands reassuringly on Spock’s upper arms. It should have been a chaste and friendly gesture, but the wet skin-to-skin contact only served to highlight their current situation, a situation absurd enough to drown out any awkwardness, and yet a situation that felt surprisingly right. Spock’s skin felt right under his hands.
“You did not err in your judgement, Spock,” Kirk said and held his gaze, trying his best to read the silent storm of emotions in the depth of these eyes. “And I hope neither do I.”
He leaned in and closed the small space between them, his lips meeting Spock’s in a cautious, gentle kiss, a kiss phrased liked a question but imbued with earnestness. If there was even the slightest chance that he was the one to misjudge the —
And then Spock kissed him back, his lips coming alive under Kirk’s, and he felt a pair of two strong arms on his back, pulling him closer into the Vulcan’s embrace, and Kirk felt enfolded in the hot rain from above, and in the presence of Spock before him and around him and on him and even inside his mind in a most curious way.
Kirk had to summon all his willpower to finally pull away from Spock’s mouth, because no matter how wonderful this development was, he still had to put one thing right first.
“Spock,” he began and could not help lowering his gaze and looking for clues on the tiled floor of the shower stall, “I’m afraid I need to tell you that the good doctor has pulled your leg with this one. And trust me, I will give him a stern talk. It is indeed the first of April in the Terran calendar, and the only sort of holiday today is April Fool’s Day. Pranking friends and colleagues has an infamous tradition, I’m sorry.”
He looked up again with trepidation, anxious what he was going to find in the Vulcan’s eyes, and fully prepared to deal with the possible disappointment.
But there was neither regret nor anger, only a sudden abashed shyness, while Kirk noticed with relief that the arms around him had not loosened their hold on him one bit.
“Jim, I am afraid I need to tell you that I have known all along.”
Kirk could not say what was more powerful, the wide, happy smile he felt form on his face, or the urge to kiss Spock once more, but he found out that the two went together quite well. Eventually, he also found out that a starship can run out of hot water, but this really did not matter much at this point.