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The Passing of Fire Into the Blood

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--

For all of McCoy's bitching, their dress uniforms weren't all that bad. The material was slick and insulating, which meant your main danger was overheating, but it could have been a lot worse. Jim had seen some of the ornate robes and contraptions some planets considered finery.

Sulu was handling the dress uniform about as well as Bones would have. He kept tugging at the neck whenever he thought no one was looking. Jim kept tamping down on a smile at the harassed look on Sulu's red face. He couldn't afford to look anything other than cool and collected, but all Jim wanted to do was raid the bar -- the toast was about to start, or he might have tried. Official functions were boring as sin, and no one could claim he was blessed with patience.

Spock was busy making the rounds, and he had no problems looking cool and collected. Lucky for him, Vulcans didn't sweat. He might even have been enjoying the stifling temperature in the dining hall. Antoc was a desert planet, not unlike the former Vulcan and its new incarnation, but at night it plunged into freezing temperatures. The inhabitants ran gigantic indoor heaters once the sun went down to keep comfortable. Apparently they'd made allowances for their humanoid guests, but if this was an allowance, he shuddered to think what the usual temperature was.

The Antoc ambassador wove his way through the crowd toward Jim. Most of the evening so far had involved avoiding the man's overly-effusive overtures and continuous questions about the hospitality ("is sir enjoying the music? Would sir like a human beverage? Is there anything I can bring sir?", so earnest his antennae quivered). Likely it was an etiquette lesson gone wrong, because Spock was having no problems, but then again, he was clearly Vulcan, and it seemed like the same rules didn't apply.

Jim was saved by the shrill clang of the dinner bell. He gave the ambassador a regretful smile and a shrug, moving off to find Spock and Sulu for the seating. His two security officers followed, bookending Jim, Spock and Sulu's trio. They had to stand in front of their place settings until the Antoc leader, Otlhan, walked to the dais at the front of the room. After an elaborate contortion of a bow, he sat at his table and everyone else followed suit.

Eventually chatter started to fill the silence. Jim leaned over to Spock. "How many courses are we going to have to sit through this time?" The winning number was fourteen, on Taresia, which took the better part of a day to sit through. Everyone on the away team spent the night in sickbay to recover.

Spock's reply was low enough Jim had to lean even closer to hear it. "There are six courses with an optional seventh, usually comprised of native fruit and palate cleansers."

Jim did rough mental math. "So we're stuck here for a few more hours?"

"It would seem, Captain." Spock leaned away and resumed his rigidly perfect posture.

There were glasses and pitchers of water sitting in front of them, but Jim wasn't about to touch them; on some planets, serving yourself was a punishable offense. Uhura's dossier on Antoc hadn't included anything on dining other than instructions for the toast and how to use the cutlery. Jim looked to Spock for guidance, but Spock just sat there, staring straight ahead. Resigned to staying thirsty for the foreseeable future, Jim did the same.

He didn't have to wait long; a small army of servants appeared in order to begin serving. One of them branched off to approach the head table, carrying a pitcher of wine. This was the hard part, all things considered; the toast was the precursor to speeches, one by Otlhan, and one by Jim. The speech was well-memorized, but diplomatic nuance wasn't his biggest strength. He wished Uhura could have done it instead, though that was never going to happen. Spock could have done it. He was first officer, so rank was there, and nothing ruffled him. Antoc stuck to ceremony so severely that any small deviation would be taken as a personal slight, and ceremony said the highest ranked gave the speech. Unless Jim found a credible way to bump Spock to acting Captain, the duty was his.

Otlhan was served wine first, and then Jim, and then Spock. The servant continued down the line to Otlhan's second, passing Sulu -- Helmsmen didn't high rank enough to merit the honor, according to Uhura.

Otlhan stood, looking swamped by cumbersome robes. Antocs were so tall and skinny they looked like they walked on stilts. Otlhan's pale arms looked stick-thin where they protruded from the cloth. He swept a hand up to call for silence, and you could have heard a pin drop. As it was, Jim only heard Sulu's strained breathing. Poor guy must have been roasting.

"Greetings, honored guests and noble assembly." Otlhan's voice was deep and booming, a sharp contrast to how frail he looked.

Jim tuned out the rest of the speech, focusing on running through the beginning of his own. It didn't matter how much he prepared and rehearsed; he kept revising and second-guessing up until the moment he actually opened his mouth. At the Academy, he usually ended up tossing the whole thing and winging it. He couldn't pull a speech out of his ass this time; Uhura had gone over it with her usual exhaustive precision to make sure the translation wouldn't snag on any potentially insulting double-meanings.

Otlhan was surprisingly brief. Jim caught something about planetary peace and striking alliances to last through the ages, and then it was over but for his toast. Otlhan raised his wine glass, elbow and arm crooked at almost a perfect forty-five degree angle. He drew the wine toward his mouth and took four measured sips.

Jim waited for him to set his glass down and took up his own. The wine was sticky-sweet and a little gritty. Uhura told him both the food and drink would be on the sweeter side, but the taste was a shock anyway. Jim felt stupid with his arm sticking out, but he took his four sips and set down the wine. Spock went next, arm so perfectly angled his elbow could have cut glass, and then it was Otlhan's second in command.

The wine had a nauseating aftertaste. Jim took a long gulp of water to wash it down, and then another when it didn't help. Down the table, Sulu was putting him to shame; a servant was refilling his third glass. Jim was starting to feel the heat, finally. The dress tunic was constrictive and irritating now that he wasn't able to move around. He finished his water and waited for it to be refilled. There was only a minute or two before he had to stand and deliver on his speech.

He was sweating by the time Otlhan held up his hand again for silence. Jim's stomach gave an anxious pang, and the taste of the wine still coated the back of his throat. He stood up, bumping the table and jostling his water glass precariously. Both he and Spock reached to steady it, and their fingers brushed. Playing it off, Jim plastered on a smile and turned to face the Antocs. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Spock fold his hands in his lap.

"Thank you, Otlhan and people of Antoc, for your gracious welcome. The Federation has a deep respect for your noble culture, and I'm honored to be the one to establish a treaty between us."

Jim thought this part was laying it on a little thick, but Antocs appreciated laurels, and a little extra bowing and scraping couldn't hurt. He wasn't worried about the speech being well-received as much as the sudden and distracting tingling in his scalp. His lips felt numb. He licked them.

"As you know, the United Federation of Planets has a long history of wholehearted inclusiveness. We would like to extend to you the rights of trade and emergency aid." Dear fucking God, his scalp was itching now, and it was becoming hard to breathe and keep his voice even at the same time. The wine was an unpleasant warmth spreading everywhere, even down to his fingertips. Jim struggled to remember what came next. "Furthermore, any of your people are welcome to visit Earth as our honored guests."

Jim was pretty sure half of what he was supposed to say didn't make it in there, but it was taking every ounce of his willpower not to fall down or start frantically scratching at himself. Uhura was going to kill him if he screwed this up, or maybe Starfleet. They'd been angling for a trade agreement with Antoc for months. "We – hope that this treaty will eventually lead to the admittance of Antoc into the Federation. Until such a day, uh, we will enjoy –" oh shit, that wasn't anywhere in the speech, and Jim couldn't see Spock, but he had the feeling Spock was staring at him. "We will enjoy peace and prosperity between... between our..." Mortified, Jim blinked sweat out of his eyes and swayed unsteadily.

Whatever was in that wine, Jim was fucking allergic to it. He had a moment of intense regret that Bones wasn't there with one of his ever-present hypos, but the Enterprise was in orbit above the planet and the atmosphere meant they didn't even have beaming capability. Fucked. The Antocs had specifically postulated that no more than five come down to the surface, and Jim didn't know what would happen if they disobeyed. Double fucked. And he still had to get through it.

"I –"

The last thing he registered before vomiting and slumping over the table in a dead faint was a sudden staggering and painful erection.

He woke up on his back, propped up by something soft and pillowy. Spock hovered above him, impassive but for the small furrow between his sharp eyebrows. He was holding a tricorder, and Jim woozily saw the Antoc ambassador fretting behind him. A quick inventory of his body let him know he wasn't going to able to move on his own for a while, and that the freaking hard-on hadn't gone anywhere. That wine was poison.

"Is there anything I can bring sir?"

Spock didn't look away from the tricorder. "You may bring me my personal communication device that was appropriated upon our arrival. I need to contact the Enterprise's physician."

"But sir, we have our own doctors," he dithered.

"My Captain is very ill. You will bring me the communicator."

Good old Spock. No one could resist obeying that tone. Jim dropped his head back to the padding beneath it; it hurt too much to hold it up any longer. "M' hot," he said, surprised at the slur in his voice.

"Your temperature reads one hundred and six degrees Fahrenheit."

"Shit." He had a fever that bad as a kid, and his mom had rushed him to the nearest hospital when the medication she kept in the house didn't bring it down.

"I will contact Doctor McCoy and request that he take a shuttle to the surface."

"Good luck with that," Jim mumbled. He twisted uncomfortably; the fabric of the bed or whatever he was laying on was warming to his overheated body temperature, and he could feel sweat pooling behind his neck. "Can you – help me get my shirt off?" It was cooking him alive, and he bad a feeling there was vomit on it.

Spock was silent for a moment. "Certainly, Captain."

The tricorder was set beside him, and Jim closed his eyes against the sensation of vertigo as Spock got him into a sitting position. His arms were carefully extracted from the material, and the cool air that touched his skin was like a slap. A welcome one, but still; his skin raised in goosebumps. "What happened?"

Spock finished wrestling the dress shirt off his head and let him flop onto his back. "You appear to be allergic to Antoc wine. After you fainted, I moved us to guest quarters. The ambassador was unable to tell me the exact properties of the wine. I anticipate Doctor McCoy will be able to treat your symptoms when he arrives."

"Did Otlhan freak out?" Jim wiped sweat from his forehead and tried to fight back a shudder. He hoped Spock hadn't noticed the erection, but it was pretty much impossible to miss. This was not even remotely how he envisioned having a hard-on near Spock would have gone.

"No."

Huh. "You think maybe –" he squirmed around, trying to unstick from the fabric. "You think it was intentional?"

"I am unsure, but the evidence suggests it was."

Jim heard the sound of a door opening, and then two distinct footsteps. "Sir, I have brought your communication device."

"You will leave us." If he'd been frosty before, he was downright scary now. The ambassador didn't say a word as he left.

"Commander, how is the Captain?" Sulu. He sounded pissed off and concerned under a thin veneer of professionalism.

Spock ignored him. "Spock to Enterprise."

Chekov's cheerful voice came over the line, slightly distorted by the atmosphere. "This is Chekov, Commander."

"Inform Doctor McCoy that he is needed on the surface. The Captain has had a reaction to native wine and needs immediate medical treatment."

There was a pause, and when Chekov replied, it was far less cheery. "Sir, I do not believe that is possible. Antoc –"

"I am well aware of Antoc's instructions." Jim might have been delirious, but he thought he detected a note of irritation in Spock's voice. "Protocol must be breached in an emergency situation."

"Do you think you can bring him back to the Enterprise?" Chekov asked, sounding worried.

"I must speak to Doctor McCoy before making any such decision."

"Of course, Commander."

There was another pause, and then Bones' harassed voice filled the silence. "Jim's sick?"

"I believe it is a reaction to Antoc wine. He has a temperature of one hundred and six point two. He has vomited and collapsed, and is also in a state of persistent hyperarousal."

Jim winced. So much for his dignity. His dick was a burning, swollen line in pants that were stretched uncomfortably taut; he would have ripped the damn things off if Spock and Sulu hadn't been standing there.

Bones swore. "I'll talk to Chekov about getting down there. We're probably going to have to –"

"There is a chance we are being monitored."

"Yeah. I'll talk to Chekov. In the meantime, Spock, you need to get his temperature down. A fever that high is damned dangerous."

"Of course. Spock out." The communicator closed with a snap. "Mr Sulu, I require ice."

"Yes, sir."

"Are you armed?"

"No, sir." He sounded put out, and Jim approved; he felt uneasy about going to the surface with two measly security Ensigns and having his phaser confiscated, and that was before the suspicion that he'd been drugged.

"Very well."

The idea of ice made Jim shiver in a mixture of anticipation and dread. He was starved for cold, sweating so much he felt disgusting, but the idea of bitingly cold ice cubes made him want to throw up again. He bit down hard on the inside of his cheek to keep from making miserable noises. He felt like shit.

"Captain." Jim tried to form words to let Spock know he'd heard him, but nothing came out. "Jim."

He opened his eyes to find Spock alarmingly close. For him, his face spoke volumes; lips pursed and brow furrowed in concentration, and Jim knew it had to be bad to elicit that kind of look.

"I need to bring you to the tub."

"S' fine."

Spock's hands curled around Jim's biceps and hefted him up. Compared to the sweaty and itchy blankets, Spock's hands felt like a dream. They lurched and stumbled their way into the adjoining bathroom. If Spock hadn't half-carried Jim, he would have ended up on the floor in a jumbled heap of limbs.

His shoes and socks were already off, small favors, but Spock still had to remove his trousers. He made quick work of them after pushing away Jim's feeble attempts to undo the zip, and somehow lifted both of his legs out of the fabric without Jim toppling over in the process. He had to use Spock's bony shoulders to stay upright, but Jim was so far gone he didn't remotely care about boundaries. Spock apparently did, because he left on Jim's shorts. The appearance of modesty. It would have been appreciated if it hadn't meant that his dick was even more visible. He wasn't sure, but his briefs felt sticky with precome. Or sweat. Hopefully sweat.

"You must control your breathing, Jim." He tried. Every breath was a chore. Spock's hands went to his waist and steadied him, too tight a grip. "Meditation may help your body--"

"Can't meditate," Jim groaned, "I'm gonna die. Or my dick's going to fall off."

His feverish brain caught up with his mouth, but it was a little late to worry about his dignity. Spock gave up with the suggestions and somehow managed to muscle him into the tub. It was filled with cool water, and Jim sucked in a breath at the sensation of it hitting his skin. His head lolled on his shoulders and the light above him seemed to explode into patterns. Not good. He shut his eyes.

"I'm going to pass out now, y'don't mind," he slurred, doing just that.

--

He was still in the tub when he came to. The water wasn't very cold at all, but it was enough of a difference that he was shivering. There was a cold, bumpy weight on his forehead; an icepack. Rivulets of freezing water trickled down his face, stinging like pinpricks and catching on his eyebrows. Another pack was tucked behind his neck, held there by the rim of the tub.

Jim opened his eyes. Spock was busy dragging a freezing cold cloth over his neck and jaw, leaning over the side of the tub with his sleeves rolled up. It felt awful, but in a way that eclipsed the burn in his blood. Jim resisted the urge to arch into the touch.

"How long was I out?"

"Approximately five minutes," Spock said. He adjusted the icepack on Jim's forehead when it started to slip.

"Temp gone down?"

"To one hundred and five point six," Spock replied. "You must drink."

Spock wrung out the cloth on Jim's chest and dropped it into a bowl of ice-filled water that rested on the tub ledge. He leaned forward to slip a hand behind Jim's shoulders. His touch was careful but insistent, making sure he sat all the way up.

"Drink," he repeated, picking up a glass of water he'd procured from somewhere. Probably Sulu.

Spock's communicator chirped just as Jim was finishing the glass, and he gently lowered Jim back down before responding. The tub was far less gentle than Spock's hands.

"Spock here."

"McCoy. How's Jim?"

"Not much improved. I have reduced his fever by a marginal amount, but there has been no other change. He is still in a state of hyperarousal."

What a polite and detached way to talk about the Captain's embarrassing and inexplicable erection. It was unnerving; the longer he sat in the cool water and his senses came back to him, the harder it was to ignore. It was distressing and gross to feel like he needed to come while his body was on the verge of passing out. It made him want to squirm, but he didn't have the energy.

"It's damned odd. No wine documented has that side effect. It's got to be a drug."

"That is my thought as well." The cloth was back, sweeping along his collarbone. He was glad Spock was staying away from his stomach, because he didn't think he could handle the proximity to his dick without making some sort of noise. "How shall I proceed?"

"Manage the symptoms as best you can until we get Jim out of there. See if Sulu can wrangle information out of them."

"He is already attempting to do so."

"McCoy out."

The communicator closed with a snap. Jim reached up to adjust the pack on his forehead and felt only tiny slivers left. Fuck, he was melting his way through ice in minutes. He hoped his brain wasn't cooking itself inside his skull. "I need more ice."

Spock plucked the cloth from under Jim's hand, and their hands brushed. The sensation, along with the knowledge that this was pretty much the most skin to skin contact he'd had with Spock ever, slammed a bolt of nauseating adrenalin straight to his cock. He squeezed his eyes shut, and Spock's hand stalled.

"Jim."

He managed a noise that vaguely resembled 'yeah'.

"I -- with your permission, I believe I may be able to manage one of your symptoms."

Spock never stumbled his way through anything, and Jim started to open his eyes to figure out what was going on, but the light had a personal vendetta against him, so he slammed them shut again. "How?"

"I would not suggest it if I did not believe it would be beneficial in combating the drug's effects."

He was sure it was a drug, now. Great. Jim wasn't a stranger to recreational drugs, or hadn't been, but nothing he'd taken had involved an unwanted erection and vomiting as the resultant high. "What're you talking about?" He was already waist-deep in water -- short of wizardry, there wasn't anything else to try. If Spock suggested meditation again, he was going to kill him.

"It is possible that the drug is designed for a specific purpose," Spock said. "The symptoms suggest a sexual component."

"So, what? The Antocs decided I needed some twisted roofie?"

"I doubt it is so simplistic. Antoc has historically dealt in the trade of contraband drugs, consisting mostly of psychotropic and dopamine compounds. It is possible they have created something the Federation has not encountered before."

"Great. I hope I don't die."

"Unlikely." A pause. Spock touched the cold cloth to Jim's cheek and he couldn't suppress a hard shudder. "It is also unlikely that they would utilize such a drug when its side effects are so disastrous. Have you previously experienced adverse or allergic reactions to medication?"

"I--" Spock had to stop expecting Jim to think. "Yeah, a few times." A few instances when he was a kid, but most memorably Bones' ingenious plan to smuggle Jim onto the Enterprise. That went well.

"Potentially, your reaction was not intended. Or, alternately, that all humans are allergic to the drug."

It was nice knowing that the Antocs might not have intended to make his life hell, but it still begged the question of why they drugged him in the first place. Jim looked forward to Bones fixing him up so he and Spock could interrogate the fuck out those bastards. Spock had made members of three different species cry to date. Four was a nice even number to aim for.

"As I said, I have a theory as to how the drug may be combated. It may be designed to initiate and amplify the release of neurohormones. It is possible that sexual release may trigger drug inactivation."

Jim's fever wasn't high enough to fry his brain beyond comprehending that, unfortunately. "You're kidding."

"No, I am not."

"This is the best day of my life."

Bones had better have a hypo and some sort of IV drip to flush the drug out of his system, because he was not going to jerk off in the middle of sickbay. Or let Bones jerk him off. Or Chapel. She was cute, but never in a million years.

Spock kept quiet, running the cloth over Jim's chest and checking the ice pack behind his neck, which had long since melted away. He was refilling it when Jim heard the door open. He wanted to look up and see if it was the ambassador, because he didn't want that fucker to see him half-naked in a tub with a raging boner, but it turned out to be Sulu.

"It's a drug," he said shortly. "They use it in ceremonies. One of their physicians is transferring the details to sickbay." Jim idly wondered how many faces Sulu had to punch in to get the information, but Spock placed a fresh ice pack behind his neck, and the thought drifted away.

"Thank you, Mr Sulu."

"Otlhan extends his deepest apologies to Captain Kirk. He apparently had no idea the drug would result in," Sulu cleared his throat uneasily, "this."

Jim huffed a pathetic laugh. "Tell him to shove it up his ass."

"I'll do that, sir."

"Is Doctor McCoy cleared for landing?"

"Yes, sir. ETA three minutes."

"Escort him through the building. Do not admit anyone but Doctor McCoy." Either Spock was concerned for his virtue, or he still wasn't convinced the drug reaction was an accident on the Antocs' part.

The minutes passed in relative silence. Jim tried to relax, but his body was hypersensitive; every breath caused a tiny ripple in the bath water, and it sloshed against his skin in waves, oddly ticklish.

When Bones arrived, Jim could hear him bitching furiously even through the door. The familiar sound brought a rush of relief; Spock was amazing in a crisis, but he wasn't a doctor, and Bones had pulled him through too many scrapes to count, and if you were to believe him, saved Jim from certain death at least five times.

"Lieutenant Bell, stay posted at the doorway. I don't want any of those overgrown stick-bugs getting in here." In seconds, McCoy was at Jim's side, a cool hand on his shoulder. "Jesus alive, Jim."

"Nice to see you too."

Bones didn't bother with a reply. He jammed a hypo in the side of Jim's neck between one breath and the next, and then another. "Help me get him out of this tub."

"My strength is sufficient to carry the Captain without assistance."

"Great, pick him up." Bones' tricorder whirred over Jim's face.

Spock wasn't kidding. He lifted a dripping Jim out of the tub like he weighed nothing and maneuvered until Jim was tucked against his chest. He would have preferred a fireman's carry over feeling like a bride on her wedding night, but he wasn't in a position to complain. Spock started moving, and Jim gritted his teeth at the bile rushing to this throat from the jostling.

"The shuttle's outside the building," Bones said. "Chekov threatened to blow holes in their planet if they didn't let us land. Good kid."

"I think I can walk," Jim said. He was aware that some of his crew and any nearby Antocs could see him being carted around by Spock like a small child. In his underwear.

Bones laughed humorlessly. "Sure you can, Jim. Spock, hold still a second."

Obligingly, Spock stopped. The reprieve from being rattled around was nice, but being still and flush against Spock when he wanted to grind his dick into something wasn't. Spock smelled really good, clean and sharp. It didn't help.

The jab and hiss of a hypo, and Jim felt himself starting to pass out again. He had half a thought that it was getting old before there was only blackness.

--

Bones' frowning face eclipsed the light shining behind his head. Jim blinked twice and tried to figure out how he felt. The answer was like hell; his head was throbbing, and his body felt wrung out and weak, but he wasn't within two seconds of throwing up all over Bones' shirt, and his temperature seemed normal.

"Would it kill you to smile?" he asked, then had to clear his throat around unexpected hoarseness.

Bones frowned even harder, but diverted his eyes to his tricorder and started scanning. If he knew Bones, it was the tenth time since he'd gotten back to the ship. "Yes."

The steady beep of his vitals sounded like an obnoxious lullaby. Jim stretched carefully and moved his foot out of the blanket draped over his legs. He had no desire to be warm anytime soon, despite the clamminess of his skin. "What's my prognosis?"

"You're going to be fine, but for the fact that I'm going to be stuck to you like a Siamese twin on every away mission from here on out."

Jim groaned, but inwardly he was amused, mostly at the image of Bones having to brave the transporter on a regular basis. "So. What was it?"

"A drug. A designer aphrodisiac, used pretty casually – which is disgusting when you think about it, those stick people having sex. It was in all the wine, and your special snowflake self is highly allergic."

Pretty much what Spock had deduced, and what Jim would have too if he'd been capable of higher thought. "You're sure it wasn't malicious?"

"Hell if I know. I haven't talked to them. Ask the Vulcan; he's been questioning them since we got you back to the ship."

Bones' cool fingers pressed against his wrist, checking his pulse. He didn't always trust instruments to do their jobs; he sent them to maintenance for recalibration every other week. Jim waited out the minute staring at the ceiling, trying to keep his headache at bay. The lights in medical were mild during night shift, but right now they felt like beams shined directly into his eyes.

"Got anything for a headache?" Jim asked, once Bones had released his wrist.

Bones snorted. "I'm not giving you anything. I've flushed it out of your system as best I can, but there's a chance it hasn't been fully metabolized and I'm not tempting fate. The headache's probably from dehydration. I'll have Nurse Chapel bring you some water."

"Wow, water, that's tremendous. How will I ever repay you?"

He ignored Jim, big surprise, and went off to presumably find Chapel, or attend to some other poor bastard who had the gall to get sick on Bones' watch.

A few minutes later, Jim hadn't managed to shake the headache, and Chapel came by with a cup of water and a sympathetic expression. She adjusted the biobed until he was sitting up straight and passed over the cup.

"Don't drink too quickly," she advised, watching him like a hawk as he sipped.

"Thanks." He wasn't even thirsty, but if water got rid of the headache he had no complaints.

She grabbed a PADD lying on an empty biobed and took a seat next to Jim. It was probably a book or something else distinctly not related to charts and lab reports. Sickbay was micromanaged to maximum efficiency and got pretty dead at this hour – and Jim would bet half his credits Bones wasn't letting anyone else handle Jim's treatment. It was a wonder he allowed Chapel to do so much as bring him the water.

"When do I get out of here?" he asked.

She glanced at him and went back to her reading, mouth pursed. "When Doctor McCoy clears you, Captain."

Jim sighed and pressed the button to bring the bed back down some. "Next week, then."

"Funny, Jim." The worry lines between Bones' eyebrows had smoothed out some. Jim knew Bones abhorred the idea of drinking on shift, or he would have suspected two or three generous fingers of Saurian Brandy.

"Seriously, Bones, when do I get to leave?"

McCoy shooed Chapel out of her seat and took it for himself. "Not until tomorrow at the very least."

"That's ridiculous. I'm fine."

"How's your headache?" Bones asked pointedly.

"Fine, you sanctimonious prick."

"Your dopamine levels aren't back to normal yet. I'm waiting until all your tests are clear before unleashing you on the bridge again."

"I'm taking Alpha shift, and you can't stop me," Jim said, as stern as he could manage to be while propped up like an invalid. "I feel better already; no fever, no vomiting, no socially awkward erection. I'll go sleep the rest off in my quarters."

"Nice try, Jim." He reached over and condescendingly patted his arm. "I'm going to get something to eat. If I hear one word about you disobeying medical orders--"

"Yeah, you'll castrate me, I get the picture. Go eat something, Bones."

He favored Jim with another frown and hesitated -- Jim didn't blame him for the distrust -- before finally leaving.

Jim cursed. He wasn't getting any sleep cooped up in sickbay, no matter how tired he felt. The beeps and whirrs of monitors, the antiseptic smell, the constant watch. It rubbed his nerves raw on principle, and it didn't help that most of his memories involving hospitals were some of his worst in general. Tarsus IV, and how after they had to sedate him to get him to close his eyes, to stop seeing Kodos' face. His most recent visit to sickbay, aside from routine immunizations, was after the destruction of Vulcan. The blank shock on everyone's faces wasn't fading from memory anytime soon, either.

Chapel came by and checked on him about twenty minutes later, and he tried to see if he could cajole her into conversation, but she just took some notes and moved on. There were one or two other people in sickbay, as far as he could tell, and both of them were in the ICU. He wondered if Spock was done interrogating the Antocs yet, but Bones had probably banned him from sickbay, and Jim wasn't exactly excited to see Spock after they'd gotten up close and personal. He had no illusions that Spock would be excited to see him, either.

Another few minutes passed, and he busied himself by counting tiny imperfections in the ceiling. He'd have to get maintenance down to sickbay to fix it; the ship was new, rough missions notwithstanding. Cut-corners and shoddy workmanship pissed him off.

Sudden commotion ripped him out of his reverie. Chapel made a beeline for the ICU ward, and if the rapid noises coming from the monitors were any indication, someone was crashing. He sat up and craned his neck, trying to see across the distance and past a partially drawn privacy curtain, but the ICU was well sequestered from the rest of sickbay. Jim was halfway over there when Bones came barreling through the doors.

"Don't even think about it," he barked, and Jim fell back like a good little patient.

Bones jogged to the ICU, and there was a flurry of activity at his arrival, mostly him shouting instructions, and Chapel and the other nurses hastening to comply. Jim sat on his bed and tried not to worry about the fact that a member of his crew was in serious peril. He had the utmost faith in Bones, but even he couldn't perpetually work miracles. Five minutes went by, and they were still at it.

With nothing to do but wait, Jim's restlessness steadily grew. If he couldn't sleep before, no way was he going to be able to shut his eyes against an emergency some forty feet away. Hanging around and worrying wasn't an option he particularly fancied, either.

There was always Plan C, which he traditionally employed when his back was against the wall. Jim cocked his head and regarded the control panel near the doors. It, among other things, monitored entrances and exists from sickbay. Bones had in all likelihood rigged the thing to go off if Jim tried to sneak out, but Bones didn't have Jim's storied jaunts into borderline criminal enterprises, nor his skill with computers. He got up, peered down the length of sickbay to see that Bones was well and truly occupied, and walked over to the control panel.

Jim tried a simple override, not wanting to get fancy if he didn't have to, but Bones had the foresight to block that avenue, or to get security to do it for him. Starfleet had a tendency to streamline their designs; it meant easier access for repairs, and far less nuts and bolts and unwieldy tools. It meant that all Jim had to do was stick a thin data card under the seam and the whole front cover popped off. A simple wire switch disengaged the security command. Easier than hotwiring a hoverbike, that was for damn sure.

It was late enough that he only encountered one Ensign on his way to the turbolift, and she had the good sense to nod and look away. He looked foolish wandering around in his medical gown and nothing else, but sickbay didn't keep spare uniforms hanging around.

"Deck five," he instructed, leaning heavily against the side of the turbolift.

The corridor on deck five was a ghost town, and he made his way without scaring another unfortunate crew member.

Just the sight of his stark, dimly lit quarters after the over-stimulation of Antoc and sickbay made him feel better. He pulled off the gown and yanked on a pair of sleep pants, leaving the former in a heap on the floor and picking up a PADD. He had a hard time dropping off without doing something to unwind first, and obviously a round in the gym was out, so paperwork it was.

There was nothing from Starfleet, just duty rosters waiting for approval. He scribbled his name and flicked through other reports, signing off on a request Scotty'd put in for Engineering. This was usually designated as Spock's job, but Jim was perfectly qualified and had time to kill.

He felt vaguely guilty for sneaking out and doing the equivalent of a walk of shame through the ship, but he'd be getting better rest outside of sickbay, and Bones had to have known it. In an emergency, his absence wouldn't be noticed for a while. By the time it was, Jim hoped to be long asleep, and Bones would wait until next shift to berate him. Hopefully. If he had a soul.

Around the third performance report, his eyes started to blur. Jim switched off the PADD and dropped it to the floor near his head where he wouldn't be in danger of stepping on it. Getting the right amount of covers arranged around him was tricky; he didn't want to wake up freezing, but staying cold over warm was definitely a good idea.

"Computer, lights off."

He had a blissful five minutes of stillness, the only noises the muffled hum of the ship and his own breathing. Nothing that good could last. The sound of the door chime made him twitch.

"Enter," he groaned, happy that at least the crewman was stable enough for Bones to come chew him out. "Lights to forty percent."

Only it wasn't McCoy. Spock didn't hesitate at the threshold like usually did. "Captain," he acknowledged, hands clasped behind his back. "I am glad to see you recovered."

Jim kept mum on the fact that – technically, officially – he wasn't. He sat up and moved until he was perched on the edge of the bunk and facing Spock. The memories (a little hazy, but not hazy enough) of Spock carefully running the cloth over his bare skin, the smell of him up close, the faint lines of what must have been a concerned frown around his mouth, they all replayed in his head like a goddamned holovid. Jim tensed and shied from eye contact.

"How did your little tête-à-tête with the Antocs go?" he asked, rubbing his temples.

"It was inconclusive. I will forward my report to Starfleet before taking any further action."

"Great. I'll submit mine in the morning." Once he wrote it. It wouldn't take long to compile; most of his involvement took place from inside of a bathtub.

"That would be wise."

Spock was watching him. To distract himself from the awkwardness, Jim stood to get a glass of water. He tried to, anyway; the momentum of trying to walk on unsteady legs sent him headed face-first to the floor. Or it would have, if Spock hadn't been there to catch him. Now that he wasn't feverish, the difference between them was huge; Spock's hands on his biceps radiated heat. Jim's skin prickled into goosebumps. Their proximity made him distressingly dizzy, and even worse, warm.

"Jim," Spock said urgently. Jim had to forcibly remove himself from Spock's grip -- his fingers were like clamps, and he wasn't in a hurry to let Jim go anytime soon.

"Just need some water," he muttered.

He high-tailed it to the head and tried not to let his unsteadiness show in his walk. The water from his tiny sink was cold, and he splashed some on his face. Spock trailed him to the bathroom and watched Jim from the doorway.

"You are not fully recovered."

"Caught me." A few mouthfuls of water didn't make him feel any better. Spock's nearness was sandpaper dragged over his nerves. He thought he could smell him again.

Now was not the time for another humiliating hard-on. Alarmed, Jim's head jerked up, and he could see himself in the mirror, eyes wide and face flushed, with Spock in the shadows behind him.

He switched off the tap. "If that's everything, Spock, I'm going back to bed." Remarkably, his voice stayed even, and he schooled his expression into something other than panic. Or arousal.

Jim really, really hoped jerking off would solve the problem. He didn't think he could handle being that sick again, not so soon. His heart was pounding, his breathing shallow, and he still had a bitch of a headache, but other than that (and the uncomfortable fullness of his dick), there weren't any of the more troubling symptoms. He was flushed, sure, but not feverish.

No way was he walking around at full mast under Spock's watchful gaze. He made a show of turning on the sink and filling up the plastic cup he kept there.

"Jim, you are aroused."

He choked on his water. Somehow he managed to fumble the cup into the sink and turn around. Spock knew, fuck, and Jim didn't want to have this conversation with the goddamn mirror. Spock took a step into the bathroom, and Jim instinctively pressed himself back against the sink until his hips were flush with the ledge.

"How did you--"

"I believe our physical contact reactivated the drug. Are you feverish?"

"No," he said warily. "Bones said he flushed the drug out of my system."

"He has treated your symptoms, but I do not believe the chemicals have been eradicated completely. You may recall I hypothesized the drug is only inactivated when you achieve sexual climax."

"Jesus, Spock, this conversation--" He tried to laugh, but what came out wasn't very convincing. Spock kept staring at him. "So you're telling me I should go back to sickbay?"

"Not necessarily. Do you think you will be able to achieve climax manually?"

"I... yes?"

He assumed Spock was talking about masturbation. Which was nowhere on the figurative list of things he'd like to have a chat with Spock about. On the list of things he'd like to experience with Spock, sure, in a pipe dream sort of way. Coldly discussing his need to achieve climax to get that godforsaken drug out of his system for good was about as enjoyable as picturing his mother naked.

"I see." Spock looked away from Jim then, the first time since entering his quarters. "That should be sufficient. I will -- leave you."

He turned on his heel and walked away stiffly. Jim followed, embarrassed but reticent to see Spock out on such a bizarre note.

"Listen," he said, before the doors opened and they'd be doing this in full view of anyone wandering by. "I wanted to thank you for, you know, what you did."

"I merely did my duty," Spock said, but when he turned to Jim again, he didn't look quite so stiff.

They were standing barely three feet apart. The closeness was distracting; his dick was achingly rigid, throbbing in time with his pulse. Jim was extremely glad Spock was the last person in the galaxy who would be tempted to look down. He pulled a wavering smile from somewhere and shrugged. "Still. Not everyone would have handled it as well." The smile turned wry. "And I really doubt anyone else would have been able to carry my ass out of there."

"Perhaps not." Spock turned to the door.

"Night, Spock."

He headed to his bunk, in a hurry to get the fucking ordeal over with and fervently pretend it never happened, but the swish of the doors opening never came.

"Jim." Spock's voice was quiet, almost hesitant. The tone made him freeze where he stood. "While we were on Antoc, I sensed you were receptive to my touch."

Fuck. All the hints and more outright suggestions about respecting Spock's personal space, the rumor of telepathy that tight-lipped Vulcans never really confirmed or denied, the mind-meld the other Spock had initiated with just a touch. Jim's throat closed in horror over what Spock must have gleaned every time their skin came into contact. "Shit. I'm so sorry," he choked. "To put you in that situation. It's inexcusable." He wondered if Spock could pick up on exactly how mortified he was from across the room.

"I think you misunderstand," Spock said in that same unnervingly quiet voice. "Obviously I would not mention it if I did not feel similarly."

"Obviously?"

The look Spock gave him was flat. "If I am mistaken, I apologize. I assumed your reaction was specific to me."

"I--" He was too far away from anything to sit on, and his legs were dangerously close to giving out on him. Spock was still looking at him, always looking at him. This time it was half expectant, and half something Jim had never seen before. "Give me a second."

"Of course."

He made it over to his desk and grappled with the chair until it was out far enough for him to sit on. Spock didn't come closer, just waited near the door as still as a scarecrow. Jim fidgeted until he found a way to sit that didn't make him want to grind down.

"You're not... wrong," he said carefully. "I'm just surprised." Understatement. Struck dumb with disbelief would be a little more accurate. Convinced he was unconscious and in the grip of a serious fever, maybe. That seemed far more likely than Spock telling him he was receptive to Jim's touch. "I'm still sorry you had to, uh, deal with all of it."

"Your apology is unnecessary."

"Even so."

He was sitting there, hard and shirtless, while Spock loomed tall and pokerfaced. He had no idea what the hell was going on.

Spock seemed to sense his discomfort. Jim hoped he was only sensing it, because the idea of Spock being able to read his mind on a whim wasn't one he liked. "If you would like me to leave, Captain, you need only say so."

They were back to 'Captain' now. He was getting a lot better at reading Spock, but when he was that obvious, Jim didn't need to be. "No, I don't want you to leave. I'm just not really sure what's going on."

"Nor am I."

Good to know they were on the same page. Jim worried the edge of his nail between his teeth, a habit he'd picked up at the Academy and hadn't managed to shake since. "I need you to be specific, here, because I'm lost." And didn't want to assume Spock meant we should have sex right now when it was more likely to mean I would like us to engage in a long and perfectly logical Vulcan courtship.

"I had hoped you would be open to a physical relationship."

Holy shit. Jim stared at Spock, his first officer, the man he was supposed to form some kind of epic friendship with, who he'd only just begun to understand, and contemplated actually having sex with him. A few late night fantasies and a fledgling attraction he'd had no serious ambitions about fulfilling didn't prepare him for Spock standing in his quarters and wanting to fuck him.

It was effort to find a way to say yes without sounding as uncertain as he felt. "I'm pretty much okay with that."

For all of his boldness, Spock seemed surprised Jim said yes. He cocked his head and stayed where he was, posture severe, nearly at attention. Jim took pity on him and stood from his chair, closing some of the distance between them. It was still a few feet, but at least they weren't an entire cabin's length apart.

Jim's first move in situations like this would be to start stripping off, but he was already half naked, and there was a chance Spock would find it vulgar. He knew next to nothing about Vulcans, thanks to their secretive nature, and he knew even less about their sexual habits.

"How do you want to do this?"

Jim's equally lauded and lamented bluntness broke Spock from his silence, which he'd been betting on. "I do not know. I have never--" He stopped.

Jim was sharp enough to connect the dots. "Never been with a guy?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Yes."

Not that Jim had a good deal experience with men. Some fucking around, most of it drunk and anonymous, but sex was sex, and Jim was a big fan. "You could start by coming closer," he suggested, seeing as Spock was all but out the door.

Without hesitation, Spock did. Four steps, until they were less than an arm's reach apart. He regarded Jim as though waiting for his next cue.

Jim had to grin at the ridiculousness of it; both of them taking halting, tiny steps, like the other was going to spook. Still smiling, Jim reached a hand up to cup his neck. There wasn't much skin to feel, just a strip between his hair and the rise of his shirt, but it was as warm as he expected.

This close, Spock didn't look as stoic; his eyes were narrowed, his breath quick. He wasn't more than an inch taller than Jim, but the difference meant neither had to stoop, that Jim didn't have to stay conscious of the difference in their size. Didn't have to be careful.

"Jim?"

He didn't answer. Spock was already so close; it didn't take much to kiss him. His lips were dry, not chapped like Jim's, and he smelled clean, crisp, like he remembered. Jim pulled Spock closer, not caring if it meant his dick was pressed between them. He'd been hard for what felt like hours, and he had the green light.

He seriously had the green light, judging by the way Spock leaned in and grabbed at him. It went from a fairly chaste kiss to Spock stroking his back and Jim trying to get a hold in Spock's hair. Spock licked his way into Jim's mouth, and Jim finally got a decent grip in the fine strands and tugged.

Spock's hands seared paths across his skin; they didn't stop moving, sweeping over his shoulderblades and tracing the knobs of his spine. Initially Jim thought the heat of him would be uncomfortable, but it was strangely pleasant, almost as good as Spock nipping at his lower lip when Jim started to pull away.

"You know, you're a lot more eager than I thought you'd be."

"I am not completely impervious to the drug." Spock made to close their contact again, sliding his hands around Jim's waist, but Jim resisted.

"Wait, what?"

"I also consumed the wine, if you'll recall." He was staring at Jim's mouth, and Jim very badly wanted that to be the end of it, but Spock was drugged, and he wasn't taking advantage of that.

"So this is--"

"I am able to regulate my body's reaction to the effects." He paused when Jim didn't stop frowning. "My ability to make decisions has not been compromised."

Well, good. The drug went a long way to explaining why Spock had been so shockingly forthright, though. It wasn't typical of him to instigate something this huge, this impulsive, not when there was a considerable possibility of it going wrong. He realized with a jolt that Spock had been turned on, the whole time, even in the face of his Vulcan control. That he was turned on enough to seek Jim out.

The knowledge killed Jim's lingering doubts. He molded himself to Spock, pressing his lips to the curve of his jaw. The skin there was as smooth as it looked. Spock's fingers tightened on his back. "Nifty trick," he murmured, "being able to control yourself like that."

"I found," his breath stuttered when Jim very gently bit down, "that I did not wish to."

Having his hands all over someone who badly wanted it couldn't have helped. He wondered if Spock's first suggestion of how to alleviate the symptoms was his clumsy attempt at a proposition. If it was, Jim had been so out of it head it had gone by him completely.

He trailed a line of open-mouthed kisses up Spock's jaw until he reached his mouth. Spock seemed to like taking the lead, so Jim let him, moaning softly when Spock's roaming fingers found a spot near his neck so sensitive it was nearly ticklish.

Jim tugged at the hem of Spock's uniform shirt, but he didn't get very far -- Spock didn't let him.

"What is it?" It wasn't disinterest, because Spock was still touching him, almost absently, and Jim could feel the line of his dick through both of their pants.

"I would prefer to move to a more suitable location."

It stumped him for a second. He got it when he realized their momentum had nearly pushed Spock up against a wall. Jim hadn't realized they'd been moving in the first place, but most of his attention was on Spock. Everything else seemed hazy, distant.

He grabbed Spock's hand, and Spock shivered. Jim liked to think it was because he was turned on, and not because Jim's hands must have been freezing to him. Even the curl of Spock's fingers around his was careful, precise, like he was gauging with how much force he should squeeze.

"C'mon."

Jim's bunk was sequestered from the living space, tidy but for the mussed bedding. It wasn't exactly built for two -- slightly wider than the standard issue, as he had officer's quarters -- but Jim didn't mind. He dropped down onto it and drew Spock on top of him, which went better in theory than in execution. Spock was all limbs, and he didn't seem sure of himself, despite Jim's insistent tugging. It took a moment before he settled, and Jim's arms went around his back to keep him there.

For someone so slender, Spock was surprisingly sturdy. Jim hadn't expected the weight, the way it blanketed all of him, how every part of them lined up, hip aligned to hip and legs almost exactly the same length. The pressure on dick felt absurdly good, and if the dazed look on Spock's face was any indication, it was the same for him.

The odds of this lasting long weren't good.

The kissing was awesome, better than when they started. Spock was good at it; he used his weight to keep Jim pliant, and as a bonus, it gave Jim something to squirm against while Spock kissed him breathless. Literally. Vulcans must have had superior lung capacity, or something. He'd pull away just long enough to let Jim breathe, but then he'd be back, a little more forceful each time.

Jim was halfway through working Spock's shirt up his chest when Spock lifted up onto his elbows. Curious, Jim moved his hands lower, to his hips, and waited. "Do you wish to be penetrated?"

Jim's eyes nearly rolled back in his head. He clutched at Spock's hips, fingers slipping on the fabric of his pants, fucking grinding them together while Spock bit what was going to be the mother of all hickeys into his neck. "Fuck. You can't -- say shit like that, Jesus, I'll come."

Spock evidently took that as encouragement, because he sat up and shrugged out of his shirt. Jim tossed it onto the floor and went for the pants next, only the angle was off, so he sat up too, hunched over to try get pry the zip open. It would have helped if Spock hadn't chosen that moment to grab Jim by his thighs and haul him onto his goddamn lap. Jim gave up.

"I wasn't kidding," he panted, right as Spock's fingers skirted dangerously close to his ass. "I'm close."

"Yes," Spock breathed, in acknowledgment or encouragement, Jim didn't care.

He wriggled until he wasn't in danger of sliding off, and he was about to yank Spock in for another kiss when Spock did it for him. Jim was too far gone for it to be anything but sloppy, just breathing into each other's mouths, jarred with the rhythm of his hips.

"Jim," Spock said, just as Jim could feel himself starting to go taut all over, "will you lie down again?"

He nearly groaned in frustration, but lying down had the same end result, so he slipped off and didn't care if he sprawled gracelessly on the sheets. Spock followed, but his hand smoothed reverently from Jim's neck to his chest and the finally to his waist, catching in the band of his pants. Jim closed his eyes when Spock took them off. Watching would send him off like a damn phaser.

Spock wasn't hesitant, although Jim should have known he wouldn't be. Everything he did was like a personal attempt to reach perfection, and while there wasn't a whole lot of perfection to be found in a handjob, he was just as single-minded. His grip was firm, on the right side of almost too tight, and he didn't waste time. Jim was sucking in gulps of air, hands clenching and unclenching with every stroke, making some truly embarrassing noises when Spock thumbed over the slit, spreading wetness down.

"Going to," he gritted, back arching, Spock working him harder and faster, and he'd worry about the fact that it was taking him under a minute to come later. "Oh fuck--"

"Yes," Spock said again, shifting in a hurry to get closer and keep jacking him at the same time. "Yes," like it was the only word he knew, pressed close to Jim's ear.

He came on a shuddering breath, unable to speak, rigid all the way through it. The aftershocks were almost as intense, wave after wave of spasms that made his stomach clench. Spock's hand slowed until he was just trailing fingers up and down, thankfully light on Jim's oversensitive skin, and he sagged against Spock's side, breathing like he'd run a marathon.

Spock let him stay close, resting his hand on the ledge of Jim's hip. It was an effort to keep from passing out, but Spock was right there and Jim still wanted him, wasn't done with him, though getting it up again in the next twenty four hours was not happening.

"Holy," Jim said, blinking up at the ceiling, but nothing else came out.

He shifted until he could actually see Spock, who was looking back at him. Jim saw redness under the curve of his lower lip, and gave a lazy smile when he figured out it was stubble burn. Spock didn't smile back, not that he would, but his eyes weren't shuttered and distant. Jim counted it as a win.

Jim stretched as much as the cramped space would allow, tucking his leg between Spock's. There was something indescribably hot about being naked and covered in come while Spock was still wearing his uniform pants. And shoes. Shit, they hadn't even stopped long enough to take off Spock's shoes.

"That was intense."

Spock's usually severely perfect hair was messier than Jim had seen it before. He twisted his fingers in the front of his bangs, tugging gently. Spock didn't seem to mind; he lowered his head so Jim could kiss him, and Jim sighed into it, boneless.

"Get your clothes off," he murmured, giving Spock a shove to encourage him, and Spock went like Jim had made it an order.

He propped himself up on an elbow when Spock sat up. Jim found it hilarious that he still found Spock attractive while he was prying off his boots. He maybe should have helped, but he was blissed out and enjoying the view too much to move. Spock didn't seem to mind; he busied himself with neatly folding his socks and tucking them inside his boots on the floor.

By the time he resituated, Jim found himself so delighted by his weirdness -- his Spockness -- that he hauled himself up and draped himself across Spock's back, one arm securing his front. The temptation to nuzzle his neck was too strong to even deliberate. Spock didn't sweat, but the smell of him was sharper, more intense there.

"You forgot your pants," he said, pitching his voice low and right up against Spock's skin. It wasn't hard to slip his arms under Spock's and undo them himself.

The position wasn't great to get them off, but they managed with some twisting and pulling, until Spock was left in black regulation shorts. His legs looked even longer out of slacks, pale and toned, the muscles denser than they would be on a human. He didn't shrink from Jim's scrutiny, let him look, breath hitching on an exhale when Jim hooked his thumbs in the waistband. Getting them off was decidedly easier than the pants had been.

When it came to humanoids, the equipment was pretty much all the same, and Vulcans were no exception. Spock was long and uncut, but instead of the flush of red blood, it had a lighter, olive cast. He ran his hands over Spock's thighs, silently nudging him open to make room.

Making him wait – making them both wait -- seemed cruel at this point in the game. Jim dipped his head and palmed Spock's hips, kissing the sharp jut of the left. Spock's breathing was noticeably strained now, stomach muscles tensing with every tiny movement Jim made.

Jim startled a moan out of Spock when he wrapped his hand around his cock and pulled. The head was already sticky, slipping through the circle of Jim's finger and thumb. He licked it off, flicking his tongue up over the crown and familiarizing himself with the taste. It wasn't salty, but it was still fairly brackish, and a little sweeter than he would have thought.

He let it get sloppy and wet fast, because when he wanted to come, he didn't give a shit what special trick someone picked up and was eager to flaunt. He pulled off every once in a while to rub the head against the inside of his cheek, and Spock seemed to like that, which made him do it more, humming when Spock's hands fisted in the sheets.

"You can touch me," he said, raw-voiced from taking Spock down too far. "I want you to."

Spock took that for the permission it was and grabbed Jim's head, fingers reverent on the side of his face, feeling the suck and hollow in his cheeks. It was like once he got started, he couldn't stop, and Jim fed off it, working the base with one hand until he could feel his own saliva sliding down to slick his fingers.

"Jim," Spock said in warning, a hand tangling in his hair.

Jim took him down so far he gagged, but he didn't stop, not even Spock said his name again, Jim, with far more desperation. The hand in Jim's hair ripped away and frantically grabbed for his own. He knew Spock was coming by the way he nearly crushed Jim's fingers before he could taste it.

Jim was coughing when it was over, and Spock's hand turned gentle again, stroking apologetically along his index and middle fingers. Jim wiped his mouth on the back of his wrist and crawled up the bunk until he and Spock were face to face again.

Spock didn't react to the taste of himself in Jim's mouth, so Jim deepened the kiss, not caring about the ache in his jaw.

"You," he said a while later, "don't even think about going anywhere."

He fumbled with the sheet, trying to get it over them both when his arms didn't want to cooperate, and Spock took it from him and did it himself. Jim fell back against his pillow and shut his eyes.

"Yes, Jim."

--

The only warning he had before McCoy burst into Jim's quarters was the beep of an override coming from his locked door. Jim didn't have enough time to freak out or come up with a good reason for Spock to be in his bunk, proofing reports on Jim's PADD.

"All right, Jim, I let you sleep -- What in the sam hell?"

Jim was mildly impressed at how high a note Bones' strangled voice managed to hit.

"Morning," he said, tucking the covers around his waist and desperately fighting laughter.

"Jim." Bones was bug-eyed and white-knuckling his tricorder. "You're in bed with the Christmas elf."

Spock didn't deign to look away from his work or respond. Big of him. He was tense, but for someone as intensely private as Spock, having Bones step into the middle of his personal business was the worst kind of humiliation.

"Was there something you wanted?"

"You, report to sickbay. I," he drew in a shaky breath, "am going to go forget this ever happened."

Backing out without turning around, he shook his head as if to clear it, and the doors closed on his look of utter horror. There hadn't been time the night before to consider all the ramifications of sleeping with Spock. He'd been too preoccupied with comprehending the bewildering chance to sleep with Spock, and then it happened, which erased all other thought. As ramifications went, putting that look on Bones' face was an unexpectedly great one.

"Perhaps you should do as he orders."

Jim shrugged and turned it into a long stretch. "I'm not in a hurry. Are you on Alpha shift?"

"Yes."

He had to squint and crane his neck to see the chronometer over Spock's shoulder. "Half an hour."

"Twenty six minutes and forty seconds," Spock corrected, and the anxiety Jim was trying to pretend wasn't twisting his stomach loosened its grip slightly. Spock was still going to be Spock, even if he was naked and turning Jim's bunk into an oven -- Jesus, he had to reset the temp controls if this was going to be a regular thing.

"I was planning on taking Alpha, but I have a feeling Bones is going to lock me up in sickbay for punishment as long as he can."

"It does seem to be the sort of tactic Doctor McCoy would enjoy employing."

Jim glanced at what he was working on; he'd make quick work of all the performance reports and was onto drafting the Antoc sitrep. He noticed Jim looking, he had to, but he didn't as much as blink.

"Spock."

"Yes?" If anything, his hand moved faster, data going by in a blur Jim couldn't read. And wasn't that just the picture of relaxation.

He put his hand on Spock's forearm, trying to get his eyes off the screen to meet Jim's. "You okay?"

"I am perfectly well."

"Yeah, you seem it."

He wanted to intensify the touch, grasp Spock's hand in his own, but Spock was wound tighter than a top. A wrong move from Jim was liable to send him from the room for good. He wasn't a stranger to the awkward morning after, but his usual routine of sending them off with breakfast and a false promise to call wasn't going to fly. It wasn't what he wanted.

Spock looked up then, eyes surprisingly copper in the full light Jim set for his quarters in the morning. "I apologize," he said, words slow like he was pulling them from somewhere that didn't want to give. "I am not inclined to be demonstrative. The drug urged actions I would not normally take."

Jim smiled past the uneasy twinge that gave him and kept his voice light. "I thought you said you weren't compromised."

"I was not." Spock set down the PADD on his lap, full attention on Jim. "I am simply saying it is difficult for me to continue in such a vein without the drug."

"All right." He removed his hand, not wanting to push his luck where he wasn't sure it was welcome.

"Jim, I do not want you to expect what is not in my nature."

"What, sex?"

Spock hesitated. Jim would have liked to have the conversation somewhere out of bed, since the nearness and their literal nakedness was jarring with the distance starting to creep in. "No."

"Then what?" If sex wasn't the problem, then as far as Jim was concerned they had no problem. He didn't know what Spock thought it was he wanted, but flowers and candy were the last thing on the list. They already got along, in their weird way, and Jim wasn't going to get bored, which was the major failing of his past and mostly half-assed attempts at relationships.

"My previous association with Lieutenant Uhura ended because I was not able to meet the needs of a human relationship. I do not want the same to happen between us."

"Hey, do I seem normal to you?" Not that Uhura was normal, but Jim would save the questions about the how and whys of that for another time. "You're the only person I know who works more than I do, and I'm about as low maintenance as you can get." Mostly because at the end of the day, all he wanted to do was read or sleep. Or play chess with Spock, which he could definitely pencil in a few more times a week if they were going to keep seeing each other.

Spock studied him for a long moment. "Vulcans do not enter relations lightly. Our customs would seem strange and formal to a human." He inclined his head slightly. "To you."

Oh. That was a lot different than Spock getting twitchy over some casual sex between friends. "And if we crash and burn, we'd still have to spend however many years in space together."

"Indeed."

"It's probably a really bad idea."

"Yes."

"You realize I'm going to try anyway, right? I have a thing with backing down from challenges."

Spock's mouth softened into what might have been a smile. If Jim squinted. "I had considered the possibility, yes."

The PADD was trapped hard and annoying between them, but Jim didn't stop to shove it over. His mouth was on Spock's, hard and demanding, biting when he didn't respond fast enough. Once Spock was kissing back just as hard, trying to yank Jim on top of him, he broke away and smirked.

"You know, you should get ready now if you don't want to be late."

Spock recovered fast, Jim gave him that. He let Jim go, hands resting at his sides. "Doctor McCoy will not appreciate being kept waiting."

"Yeah. Come rescue me if he doesn't let me go by eleven-hundred."

After the exhaustion of the day and then sleeping so deeply he still hadn't shaken the drowsiness, moving around felt like trying to walk through molasses. His sleep pants were still on the floor, and he kicked them over to a corner to be picked up and cleaned later. In his peripheral vision, he could see Spock quietly gathering his things.

"Chess tonight?"

"If you would not mind my company."

"If you don't show up, I'm sending Bones after you."

"Tonight, Jim."

The door to their adjacent washroom closed, and the only sign Spock had been there at all was the warmth in Jim's chest. Well, that and the dirty sheets. Jim bit back a smile and went to pull himself together.

--

END.