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and in the silence of the night (i could have loved you forever)

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The shower was hot enough to take the edge off the day's work. Diplomatic missions were always tiring- hours of making small talk, endless tours of endless landmarks, piles of paperwork to be filled in. Every action had to be thought out, every step taken with care. Kirk had only been on Lunviri IV for 5 hours, and he’d already nearly started an interstellar war- his translator had malfunctioned, and he’d found himself unwittingly insulting half of the council members. Spock had calmly, efficiently set the mistake to rights, and saved his job -and his life- once again.

Spock. How much more indebted could he be? How much more could he owe his first officer?

Spock. There was a moment, earlier in the day, half way through the tour in the ice-crystal caves, when the light had reflected and refracted and lit his face in a way that made him look like he was speckled with star light, like his eyes were carved from the sky itself, and Kirk had felt like he could hold the whole universe in his hands, if only he reached out and touched him.

Spock. He’d showered first, and had swept out in a Vulcan robe, the edges of his fringe curling as they dried, and was now probably getting changed to sleep. Would he sleep? Kirk had shared a room with him before, but this time, they’d been confronted with one double bed. Unless one of them was going to lie on the floor, or there was a pull-down bed hidden in a secret compartment somewhere, they were going to have to share; a situation which brought a whole new set of problems. If Spock meditated instead, Kirk would be left with the whole of a double bed, which would feel too empty after all his years of sleeping on a single. The prospect of lying next to someone he loved so much, in such desperate unrequitedness, for two whole nights was something he couldn’t bring himself to think about. Instead, he poured far too much shower gel into the spray dispenser, and rubbed it into the sore part of his back.

When Kirk finally dragged himself out of the warmth of the shower and into some trousers, it was almost half an hour later. Spock was dressed in the regulation plain black Starfleet pyjamas, reading through the day's notes.

“Anything of interest?” Kirk said as he made his way to sit on the bed, rubbing his damp hair with a towel. Spock looked up, and flicked his eyes over Kirk’s torso, raising an eyebrow at his lack of shirt. Logically, Kirk thought, he would have been used to this by now. Kirk lost his shirt every few days, or it got ripped in combat, or fried by a laser blast. Come to think of it, he should probably talk to Starfleet about sturdier uniforms. He threw the towel in the vague direction of the bathroom, and lay back.

“Nothing of direct importance,” said Spock, “But I would like to run some computer simulations once we are back onboard The Enterprise.”

“Ah.” said Kirk. The silence stretched out. He wanted to say so many things. He wanted to say let’s not go back to The Enterprise until I get a chance to kiss you and I’ve heard the sunsets here are beautiful and you must be cold, are you cold? I’m cold. and come lie down and we can talk for hours about everything and nothing and hold me until the world stops turning and the stars fade out because you’re here and I’m here and that’s all I want at the moment and Maybe if I’d said that when I wanted to all that time ago then right now we could be huddled under these blankets looking at the sunset instead of making polite conversation when all I want to do is fall in love with you again and again and again.

Instead he said nothing, and flicked through the messages he’d missed. Scotty had asked him to bring a bottle or two of Lunvirian whisky, which was rumoured to leave the drinker unconscious before they had even taken a sip. Uhura had replied to his earlier, panicked message about the mis-translation with calm, concise instructions on how to remedy it, and prevent it from happening again. Bones had sent four words: ‘Don’t freeze to death.’ Kirk could almost feel his glare all the way from The Enterprise.
The sun was setting, and night brought with it the kind of heavy coldness that made you forget how it felt to be warm; so Kirk pulled on a shirt, and dragged the blanket around his legs. Spock had already put on a jumper, a grey, frayed thing that made him look gentler, somehow. It sent a pang to his chest of something that wasn’t quite painful, but hurt nevertheless.

He yawned, and rolled over. He was lying close to Spock’s chair, on the left side of the bed, and he didn’t intend to move. He was suddenly, achingly, tired. The cold had taken the energy out of him, and even the heavy thermal blanket wasn’t enough to keep him warm.

“Spock,” he said, fumbling for the button that would turn the lights off. “Come to bed.” Somewhere in the recesses of his mind, warning lights were flashing, and air-raid worthy sirens were trying to break through the haze and force him to back track, but before they could surface Spock had already made his way across the room, and sat next to him.

“You are aware that in sleep, the barriers that prevent accidental telepathy are weakened, meaning we may exchange images during the course of the night. I could, if you wish, meditate instead, but at these low temperatures I am at risk of entering a state of hypersleep that will be difficult to wake from. As such, I recommend that we maintain a distance between us of at least 15 cm, to prevent transferral of unwanted thoughts, moreso, I suggest the we-” Kirk had finally found the lightswitch, and the lights went out suddenly, cutting off Spock and leaving the room in half-darkness.

“It’s okay,” said Kirk. “I’ll..keep my distance.” He shut his eyes, and felt the weight of Spock settle into the mattress beside him.

“Goodnight Spock,” he said, and somehow through the mists of semi-consciousness he was acutely aware of how far apart they were, yet how close together. It seemed that all that existed was him, and Spock, and the endless unseen miles between them. He rolled over so he could see him, and found that Spock was facing him, cast in shadow, eyes half-closed.

“Goodnight,” said Spock, and Kirk smiled at him through the weight of the frozen darkness that was the night. As he let himself drift, he felt the layers of responsibility and worry fall away, leaving him sunk deep into the peace of knowing that although tomorrow may be bringing a fresh set of problems, for now he would sleep undisturbed. Spock was warm by his side, and the world was silent, and outside everything was still under the forgiving sky.

 

‘The night hath been to me a more familiar face than that of man, and in her starry shade of dim and solitary loveliness I learned the language of another world.’

Kirk had never heard the words before, yet he had spoken them from well rehearsed memory. He was standing on a planet without a moon, gazing up at millions of unfamiliar stars. He had never been here before, but he walked the path along the front of the still sea from memory. This was his home, the planet he knew and - not loved, exactly, but something easier, something more clean-cut that made love seem so much more messy, more vibrant. It was his home, and he valued it exactly for what it was.
His walk took him to a little pier, where he sat down in a fragile-looking boat, picked up some strangely shaped oars, and rowed. He stopped only when the land was invisible against the sky, only for the silhouette it left where stars were obscured. There, he lay back, and looked up. He was alone, held in the space between two infinities, and all the stars were reflected in the depths. He was the only gap in the perfect serenity, the only thing that marred the rippleless ocean, forever the outsider. He belonged not to the sea, or the sky, but of some nameless space between the two. His nature meant he could never belong in the silent turmoil of the deep, or reach the loftiness of the impersonal, unfeeling stars.

Alone was all he had.

He stood, rocked backwards on his heels, paused for one, lasting second, then dived down into the darkness.

 

Kirk woke to feeble sunlight. He lay between asleep and awake, content to stay drowsy and warm for at least another hour, maybe even more. The feeling ebbed back into his body, and with it came the awareness that he was clinging onto something warm, something with a heartbeat that was pressed into his hand. It was Spock, he realised disjointedly. He was lying with his head on Spock’s chest, his arms around him, their legs intertwined, the rise and fall of his breathing slow and calm under him.

Kirk was suddenly wide awake, aware of every part of himself against every part of Spock. At some point, he thought, he would have time to think about this, to remember every detail a thousand times, dream up a thousand alternate endings, wish he had done a thousand things differently. Right now, he had to untangle himself from the grip of his first officer, and get on with his day. Maybe if he left now, they could pretend this hadn’t happened. They could shy away from the only bit of intimacy the universe had to offer them.
He got up slowly, trying not to wake Spock, but as he moved his legs slowly out of the tangle of limbs he felt him stir, pulling himself upright and dislodging Kirk entirely. If they tried, they could still pretend it had never happened, Kirk reasoned with himself. He could bury all the yearning, the hoping, the wanting more than anything to wake up like this every morning for the rest of his lifetime.

“Jim?” said Spock, in the softest voice, and all his resolve melted away.

He had seen Spock near death. He’d seen him possesed, seen him tortured, seen him mind controlled. He’d watched him lose control of his carefully maintained emotion, watched him laugh until his sides hurt, and cry until his eyes were red. He’d fought with him, both by his side and against him. He had seen his first officer in the calmest meditation, and deep in the frenzy of blood fever.

But he had never seen him like this. Nothing in the world, no amount of Expect-The-Unexpected style training, could have prepared him for Spock in the morning- still half asleep, hair messy, eyes bleary; all soft, frayed edges and almost-smiles. It was like nothing Kirk had ever seen before -he was like nothing Kirk had ever seen before- and oh, the universe was so kind and so cruel to do this to him, to let him wake up with Spock for the first time but not in the way he wanted to.
It didn’t mean what he wanted it to mean, seeing Spock yawn and blink at the first sunlight, but as he pulled himself into a sitting position, and leant back against the headboard next to Spock, he couldn’t think of anywhere he’d rather be.

The last of the sunrise was bleeding in through the window. Lunvirian sunrises were famous for their beauty; the ice crystals were said to sparkle like fallen stars, or crushed diamonds, and the sun was known to stain the sky every colour imaginable- and some that could not even be dreamed up. Today’s sunrise was the softest pink, with wisps of purple and blue cloud moving and swirling until the whole sky looked like rippled water. Spock watched with something close to wonder, and although Kirk felt strangely obliged to take in all the sights that Lunviri had to offer, he didn’t think he could stop looking at Spock if the world was ending. Time seemed to stretch forever, turning seconds to minutes to hours to infinity. Nothing existed outside of themselves, outside of the bubble of their world, the sunrise and the softness and-

-and then it was over. The moment had passed, and Spock unfurled, and got out of bed, with nothing but a glance and a raised eyebrow at Kirk, who quickly removed his stupidest, most hopeless smile from his face. It had crept there without him realising, and he could only imagine how ridiculous he must have looked to a vulcan.
The moment had passed, and Spock could never know the way he looked in the sunlight; and Kirk could never tell him how he made him feel everything, all at once; and Spock would never love him back because everything inside of him was ruled by logic- and there was no logic in loving someone this desperately, this much.

They ate breakfast in a silence only broken by the computer’s runthrough of the day's events. They wouldn’t see each other until later that evening- Spock had to go to the labs, to oversee the manufacturing processes used, and Kirk had things to do, paperwork to fill in, and people to meet. They parted in silence.

‘People’ turned out to be the local Ambassador and his daughter, Iklih, a woman who was only two years younger than Kirk. She was a researcher who specialised in preserving life forms through cryogenics; blond and slim and pretty and exactly Kirk’s type. It was less than two hours before they were alone together, in a canopy of ice crystals, gazing out over the world. Kirk was wrapped in layers of thermals, but Iklih had lived forever in the freezing cold, so she stood leaning against the rails of the balcony, the wind snatching at her hair. They talked about science, about the ideals of immortality, about life and death and eternity; and Kirk tried to forget the way Spock’s hands had felt on his skin.

Iklih had turned to walk over to him, and was saying with a half smile, “I’ve spent so long looking for forever, but I don’t think I’ll ever get a chance to see it.”

“I could show you forever,” he said. “If you want.”

She was beautiful. So, so beautiful. Spock was beautiful too, beautiful in the half-light, beautiful in the sunrise, beautiful in a way that made everything else seem unimportant. But this girl, she was beautiful, and she was smiling, and her hands were on his face, on the back of his neck, and their lips were so, so close, and she was saying:
“Show forever then, Captain Kirk. Show me forever.” He kissed her slowly, like every movement hurt. Her skin was cold against his, her lips ice. His mind brought back the warmth of Spock, the heat of his skin, and he kissed her harder, kissed her until they ran out of breath, kissed her until he could almost forget about Spock.

Almost.

When they pulled apart, she said, “Forever is wonderful.” She had ice crystals in her hair.

“So are you.” he said, and kissed her again.

 

He got back to his quarters late. Spock was already sitting on the bed in his pyjamas, a blanket over his legs. He looked up when the captain walked in.

“Anything I should be made aware of?” asked Kirk, pulling off his layers of thermals.

“Everything seemed to be in order at the labs. I trust you successfully completed the files?”

Kirk nodded. “Have you eaten yet? I didn’t see you in the food hall.”

“I chose to dine alone.” said Spock abruptly, and Kirk knew better than to ask questions.
By the time he’d showered, and got dressed, the lights were dimmed, and Spock was lying down, under the blanket. As Kirk lay down, he flicked off the lightswitch. The blankets were heavy round him, and the cold air still.

He felt Spock move almost imperceptibly closer to him, and smiled. The cold must have been getting to him, because when Kirk shifted so that he was tucked into Spock’s side, he didn’t flinch away. Through everywhere they touched, Kirk felt the softest static, and a kind of melancholy fondness uncoiled at the back of his mind. To love someone who could never love you back, simply because it was not part of their nature- that was the self-made purgatory Kirk had chosen. And he was content there- he was content to spend the rest of his life dashing between planets, between thin, polite blonds with ice behind their eyes, never staying long enough to let them fall in love with someone they could never truly have, because part of his heart would always be home to this moment: the quiet darkness, Spock beside him, all around them the soft hum of quiet movement, hushed conversation from people in the neighbouring rooms.

He could love Spock like this forever.

Between the warmth and the slow rise and fall of Spock’s breathing, sleep claimed him in minutes.

Kirk was deep in the water. His hair flowed around his face like a cloud, and although he had been under the surface for hours, he did not need air. Under the water, he could not feel the weight of the sky on his shoulders. He did not feel at home here, in the unfamiliar darkness, but at least he was no longer alone. Strange shapes brushed against him, pale flesh glinting in the dark water. There was a coldness to them, the coldness of death, and he shuddered away from every touch. As he swam up to the surface- not for air, he needed no air, but out of some vague compulsion that burned deep in his core- the shapes around him stopped drifting, stopped brushing, and instead latched onto his limbs, pulling him backwards into the abyss. They would make him one of them- he knew that now. He could not stay here, but the shapes dragged him deeper into the water, and he let out a scream that trailed soundless bubbles.

Then it was gone. The darkness, the panic, the water. He was back on the surface, back on the boat, back under the disapproval of the stars. But this time, he was not alone. There was someone tucked into his side, warmth around him. He took a breath of the night air, and felt for the first time in his life what it was to be home.

Kirk woke up to a grey sky, and Spock wrapped around him almost entirely. In his waking, Spock must have come around too, because as Kirk blinked in the light he felt Spock stir beside him.

“Morning.” he said, his speech broken by a yawn. It was difficult to tell where he stopped and Spock started. The blanket covering them was tucked under his side, and Spock’s arm was around his waist, hand pressed against the sliver of bare skin where the fabric Kirk’s shirt had twisted. Every fingertip pressed the softest sparks into his skin, and he could almost feel the hum of electricity through the spaces between them.

“Ha’tha ti’lu” said Spock, and Kirk realised all at once that he was wrong to think he had loved Spock all he could. There were a thousand ways more, a thousand ways. He wanted to map every one of them, run his fingers over the faded parchment, breathe in the ink. He pressed his face into Spock’s shoulder and smiled.

“Spock,” he said. “I’ve no idea what you mean.”

“Good morning,” said Spock. “In the New Vulcan dialect. Most words are phrases from other languages, translated into words with similar meanings. It is logical to maintain change in language, as new factors are introduced.”

I love you, thought Kirk. Is there a Vulcan term for that? Are there words that describe how this feels, how my chest aches at you? No. All the words in all the worlds there are could not explain it, least of all for Vulcans, who couldn’t even begin to understand what this is. God, I love you. Let that mean whatever you want it too. The word is yours, yours to hold, to shape, to keep close to your chest, to shield from the light or scream to the universe.

“Yes,” he said. “Logical.” The sky outside had broken, and something similar to the rains of earth was drumming a steady pattern onto their ceiling.

The silence between them was well practiced, comfortable. Kirk let himself drift in and out of sleep, treading the line between dreams and reality. He did not dream of the sea. He did not dream of the boat. He wondered for the first time if these dreams were not his own- if somehow, they were the fringes of Spock’s consciousness. The thought dissolved before it could be fully formed, because he knew that vulcans didn’t dream- and if they did, they could never dream of such loneliness, such terrible solitude as he had felt.

When he woke for good, it was without Spock- he was sitting up, pulling on his boots, already dressed. Kirk changed quickly, and they ate together. They were set to leave within an hour- The Enterprise had already radioed down to let them know that they were ready for a signal. It was unusual for a diplomatic mission to go this well, and Kirk got the feeling that everyone was eager for it to be over; after all, the longer they stayed, the more opportunities for them to get trapped in a secret lab, or kidnapped by bandits, or mind-controlled.
Also, their next stop was a sunny little planet made almost entirely of beaches. It was an infamous tourist trap, and the crew was due for a shore leave. Kirk smiled at the thought of lying on the sand next to Spock, warm and lazy, with nothing in the world to worry about.

All they had to do now was sign off the trade deals, and then they could beam back up to The Enterprise. They left the room without so much as a backwards glance, and walked the length of the corridor side by side, their hands not quite touching, but not quite not touching either. Kirk felt the edge of Spock’s fingers brush against his and suppressed a smile. It was almost ridiculous, how giddy Spock made him. He hadn’t been like this since he was a teenager; so completely wrapped up in someone that even standing close to them sent fireworks through his chest.

Then Iklih rounded a corner in front of them, and Spock snatched away his hand, clasping it behind his back. Kirk glanced at him. Although his face was still the picture of calm, of impersonal logic, the tips of his ears had turned green.

“Jim!” said Iklih, as they met. “I thought I’d missed you!” She pulled his face into her hands, and smiled up at him. “Thankyou for showing me forever.” she said, and kissed him. It had none of the promise of the kisses in the ice caves- it meant: goodbye. It meant: I'm sorry. It meant: it was good while it lasted, wasn’t it?

“Goodbye.” said Kirk, as they parted. “It was a pleasure meeting you.” She grabbed his hand as she walked away, and let go slowly, fingers hanging on until the last moment, touching only by their very tips- and then she was gone.

Kirk didn’t turn to watch her go, because he would have had to look at Spock. He didn’t want to look at Spock- he didn’t want to know whether it mattered, he didn’t want confirmation that to him, the kiss was just a kiss, another one in the hundreds he would witness, and not something more. And what if it was something more? What if Spock had- not loved, but at least cared for him, and now he had blatantly proved that he didn’t care enough in return. There was no logic in kissing pretty girls if you loved a pretty boy. So Kirk kept walking, and he didn’t turn to watch her go, and he didn’t make even an attempt at conversation, and he didn’t look at Spock as they beamed up, but while they were scattered into atoms, somewhere outside of time and space, he tried to remember what the world was like before he loved Spock, and found the sensations were almost the same- untethered, unmoored, broken into the smallest pieces and cast to the stars.

He was scattered- but then he had The Enterprise, and he had Bones, and Scotty, and Uhura, and Chekov, and Sulu, and Spock, and he found the atoms of himself drifting back together.

And somehow, between the near-death experiences and the chess games and the fights and the desperately clinging to each other as they fell apart- he had fallen in love with Spock.

Straight-faced, logical Spock, with his raised eyebrows and his sarcasm and his overbearing sense of right and wrong and his ears and his almost-smiles and his hands and his skin and the way he hated touch but was so brutally starved of it. He couldn’t be further from the girls Kirk usually liked- clever and pretty and sweet, or the men he sometimes went for- broad-shouldered and passionate and wild at heart. Spock was none of those things. He was reserved and quiet and utterly, utterly fascinating.

When they re-materialised back on The Enterprise, they were hurried off in different directions, Spock to the labs and Kirk to The Bridge, where he directed a course to their shore leave planet. He spent the day on The Bridge, overseeing minor adjustments and doing endless training exercises and making a point of not thinking about Spock, because the diplomatic mission was over and so was whatever closeness they had found in the two nights they spent side-by-side.

Kirk only allowed himself to think about it when his day was over- and then, it was all he could think about.

He could usually find sleep within minutes, but that night it slipped his grasp, and he lay staring at the ceiling, wishing Spock back to his side, wishing that waking up with Spock once meant he could wake up with Spock forever, wishing that he could be back on that lonely boat, trapped between two infinities, with Spock holding him tightly enough that he could not fall apart again- no, tightly enough that he could fall apart easily, fall apart into his arms, be safe in his brokenness.

He got up, and turned the lights on to their lowest setting. It was past midnight now, and sleep was still far away. He reached the door in three steps, then stopped abruptly. What was he doing? He couldn’t just turn up to Spock’s quarters in the dead of night. What was he going to do- knock on the door and beg Spock to let him in? It was foolish; worse, it was illogical. Kirk sat back down on his bed and buried his head in his hands. He had tried so hard to pretend he didn’t love him, then he had tried so hard to pretend he didn’t want him to love him back, and now, he was trying to pretend that he could live without telling Spock that he loved him.
It was too much. It was too much to face this alone. He wanted to tell someone. He considered McCoy, but all he would do was smile begrudgingly and offer Kirk a drink. Uhura would understand- he knew Uhura would understand, because Uhura had already swapped with Spock for countless duties with Kirk, and smiled knowingly whenever she caught them standing close together. But it was almost one in the morning, and he couldn’t wake her up just to make unnecessary confessions. He could tell her nothing she didn’t already know.
He unpeeled his face from his hands. He could tell Spock. He could tell Spock now, and be done with it. He could tell Spock now, and in the morning, they could pretend it hadn’t happened, but Spock would know, and Kirk would know that Spock knew, and if Kirk died the next day, or the day after, or the day after, at least Spock would know that in all of human irrationalisms, there was space for him to be loved.

He stood, and walked falteringly down the corridor, every few steps pausing to second guess himself. Was it worth it? Was it important enough to wake Spock up for? Then he felt the ache in his chest and knew that if he went back to bed now, he would never tell Spock. It would never matter to him this much again- the pain would numb, would dull and fade like an old scar, and although it would hurt, it would never again burn like this.

And now he faced Spock’s door, and in a sudden upwelling of courage, knocked.

What was he doing? What could he say that would mean anything? He considered turning round and going to his quarters, knocking back a few whiskeys and taking a few of those little red pills that McCoy was so fond of, and passing out. He took a few steps back down the corridor. He felt torn into halves- and half of him would always be Spock’s. He faltered again, and as he stepped forward, Spock’s door opened.

“Jim?” Surprise was a human emotion, but nothing else could be used to describe the expression on Spock’s face. He looked more awake than Kirk felt, and the brightness of the light that poured through the gap in his door suggested he had not yet gone to sleep. “Come in.” he said, and before Kirk could change his mind, he stepped through the door and into Spock’s quarters.

The computer was on, and racks on test tubes littered his desk. The smell of incense clung to everything, and as Kirk sat down he noticed that Spock had not even unpacked from their mission. The case was thrown onto Spock’s bed, half open, with Vulcan robes flung next to it. Spock was obviously engrossed in his research, and Kirk felt a pang of guilt at disturbing him like this.

“Captain.” said Spock, again, softly, turning to face him. They were so close that Kirk could see every shade in Spock’s eyeshadow, count every individual eyelash. They were almost breathing the same air. “What brings you to my quarters so late?”

Time had slowed down completely; and Kirk could hear every heartbeat echo in the walls of his chest. The world was coming apart around him, reality fading out, and all he could see was Spock, looking at him with a mix of concern and something else, something almost imperceptible. Kirk smiled slightly. This, he realised, was the moment where whatever trust he had built up with Spock ended- the moment he went back to impassive and cold, and stopped letting the light show through the cracks in his Vulcan side.

“You.” said Kirk, in a voice that was barely a whisper.

Spock’s eyes widened slightly, and in the space inbetween breathes Kirk leant forward and kissed him, gently, just enough to say everything he couldn’t put into words.

“I’m sorry.” said Kirk, when he let go. “I’m so sorry.” He turned back to the door, desperate to leave, to go back to his room and scream until his chest didn’t hurt so much, but before he could reach the exit Spock grabbed his arm, and spun him back round, pressing the ends of their first two fingers together. A Vulcan kiss. Kirk’s heartbeat stuttered, and something close to hope flickered in his chest.

“Jim,” he said. “Jim.” softly, hesitantly, like the word was fragile in his mouth. He cupped Kirk’s face in one of his hands, and pulled him close by his waist.

“Jim.” he said, and kissed him, and all Kirk could think about was Spock, him kissing Spock, Spock kissing him back, and everywhere they touched, sparks of memory, flashes of emotion, until the roaring in Kirk’s ears was so loud he could hear anything and he could see the boat, himself through Spock’s eyes a thousand times, in the caves where the air was made of ice, on The Bridge in his chair, smiling from the other side of a chess board, over and over and over and all the while, Spock’s mouth was moving on his, and he was clutching at Spock desperately, like he was the only thing keeping him whole.

When they pulled apart, Spock was gazing at him with almost the same wonder as when he had seen the sun rise over the ice. “You love me.” he said, and it wasn’t a question.

“Yes.” said Kirk. “yes.”

“Yet you still kissed her,” said Spock, with his almost-smile.

“I didn’t know..” Kirk trailed off. “I didn’t realise that you…”

“...loved you” Finished Spock, and Kirk’s world spun again. He loved him. He loved him. In spite of everything, the Vulcan blood in his veins, he loved him. The ache in his heart had turned to a glorious warmth that made everything else seem insignificant. He let his head fall forwards into Spock’s chest, and took the first, few, shaky breaths of the rest of his life. Spock’s arms were looped round his waist, and Kirk slowly, slowly, unbunched his hands from where they gripped the back of Spock’s shirt.

“I didn’t think you loved me.” he said, and lifted his head to meet Spock’s gaze. He was looking at him with the same eyes he wore when he had found a particularly important equation- he was looking at him like he was the only thing in the universe that mattered.

“That,” said Spock, “Is illogical.”