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Once Upon a Time (A Fairy-Tale Love Story)

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Jim's thumb paused over the buttons on his cell phone as Winona's voice drifted in from the kitchen.

"…No, George, that wasn't the deal. You said you'd take him for Christmas… I don't care that you have other plans with Pike's family—I had plans, too... Bullshit!"

Sighing, he reached out for the remote and turned on the TV. That terrible series—Pleasantville or something—was on, but he didn't bother changing the channel. Anything, even this stupid show, was better than listening to his mom trying to get rid of him for Christmas, of all things.

His lips twisted. She probably didn't want him to ruin her perfect Christmas with Frank and his asshole son. Now it was just down to which one of his parents would lose this argument and would have to bear his presence for Christmas. His bet was on Winona. Jim was half-tempted to tell them to flip a coin. He was even more tempted to tell them to go to hell and that he could spend Christmas somewhere else, but it would make their lives too easy.

"No, I can't bail you out—I told you, I have plans, too!... What? And you have the gall to say that Christmas is a family celebration? I'm supposed to do 'the right thing' but you can ditch your son on Christmas Eve for Pike's sister's wedding—and who gets married on Christmas Eve, anyway? How self-centered must a person be to think that their wedding is more important than Christmas?... I don't care, George. I already have plans! Also, you have to talk to him—I'm fed up of dealing with his constant screw-ups. You know how often the principal has phoned me over the past few weeks? Seven. Your son is just like you: irresponsible—"

Jim turned the sound up. Pleasantville played at an unnaturally high volume.


"Honey, I'm home," a man says, entering the front door and hanging his hat on the coatrack.

A woman enters, untying the back of her apron. She crosses to her husband and kisses him on the cheek. "Hello, darling," she says softly. "How was your day?"

"Oh, swell. You know, Mr. Connel said that if things keep going the way they are, I might be seeing that promotion sooner than I thought."

She gives him an adoring look. "Oh, darling, that's wonderful! I always knew you could do it. Have you bought Christmas gifts for kids?"



What a stupid show.

Jim turned the TV off and returned his attention to the text he had been writing to Gary, trying to ignore the conversation in the other room. There was a big lump in his throat that wouldn't go away.

"No, Sam's isn't coming home for Christmas, he's staying on campus… No, Jim can't go to him—I don't have that kind of money, and Sam doesn't want him there anyway...All right, fine. He'll stay with me for Christmas, but you owe me one, got it?"

Jim’s mouth curved into a crooked smile. Holy shit, what a loving family he had. Who would have guessed that, once upon a time, his parents actually did give a fuck about him? That felt like ages ago.

Well, fuck them. He was happy on his own.

 

 



~~*~~

 

 


Gary cackled, watching Mark and his nerdy friend. "Shit, he's so pathetic. I can't believe you're related to him, Jim—"

"I'm not related to him," Jim snapped, looking away.

"Dude, he's like your stepbrother and stuff, and he—"

Jim gave him a look, and he added quickly, "I just mean, he's a tool. You're much, much cooler."

"He isn't my stepbrother," Jim said through his teeth. "My mom sleeps with his dad. It doesn't make him my stepbrother."

Gary raised his eyebrows. "But he lives in your house."

Jim's jaw tightened. "Still—"

"Hold it. Look who’s coming over here, man," Rick interrupted, nudging him. Jim looked up.

Jessica Hawkins, the school's resident hottie, was walking in their direction, followed by her usual entourage of girls. She was wearing a short skirt and a low-cut top under her jacket, her blonde hair blowing in the wind.

Jim stared at her dumbly for a few moments, wondering how she wasn't freezing her ass off in weather like this—it was snowing—before remembering that he was supposed to be excited about it.

Putting on a grin, Jim pulled away from the wall he had been leaning against. "Let's go say hi?"

Rick and Gary smirked and followed him.

The two groups came to a halt several feet from each other. Jim smiled at Jessica, giving her a quick once over. "Hey."

She smiled a little too brightly, batting her eyelashes. "Hey."

"Hey," Rock and Garry said to Jessica's girlfriends.

They smiled.

Shit, this was awkward—and kind of hilarious and stupid. Suddenly, an idea came to Jim and he smiled even wider. "Hey, Jess, do you wanna come to my home tomorrow night? We can watch TV and do stuff."

She blinked. "But tomorrow is Christmas Eve."

"So?" Jim said with a lazy smile, cocking his head. "Surely it can't be more important than me."

She blushed, giving him googly eyes. "Um, okay. If you think your family won't mind, I mean."

Jim's smile grew sweeter. "No worries, they won't. They'll be delighted, Jess."

"All right, then," she murmured. "I'll come around six?"

"Cool," Jim said.

She smiled at him. Jim smiled back, and then both groups turned around and walked into opposite directions.

Gary and Rick patted Jim on the back. "Man, you were really cool! A date with the hottest girl in school!"

Jim smiled, thinking of just how delighted  his mom and Frank were gonna be.

 

 



~~*~~

 


Standing at his bedroom window, Jim watched Christmas lights on McFarland's house flicker on and off.

"No, Gary, I've gotta go downstairs," he said into the phone. "Jessica will come any minute now… Sure, buddy. Of course I'll tell you how it went."

He hung up, and straightening his sweater, went bounding down the stairs and made a beeline for the couch. He almost didn't notice Mark, who entered the room from another direction and was hurrying through it.

They hit the coffee table and reached for the remote control at exactly the same moment. Both of them froze, looking up at each other.

"What are you doing?" Mark said with a glare, tugging at the remote.

Jim glared back. "What are you doing?"

Neither of them moved. They were still clutching the remote.

Jim scowled. "Mark, cut it out. Jessica Hawkins is gonna be here in five minutes!"

"Gelvin starts in five minutes!"

Jim laughed. "What? You think I give a damn about it?"

Mark shrugged. "You think I give a damn about your stupid date? Go watch TV upstairs."

Jim looked at him in disbelief. "Upstairs? It doesn't have any stereo! And who the fuck are you to tell me what should I do?! It's my fucking house, and you're a nobody here!"

Mark sneered. "This is my house more than yours. You’re the nobody here—"

"Shut up," Jim growled, feeling his cheeks heat up. He yanked at the remote; Mark yanked back.

Before they knew it, the remote went flying out of their hands, crashing onto the hardwood floor. Its surface cracked, making a couple of the buttons fall out of the casing.

"Shit, shit, shit," Mark muttered under his breath, sinking to his knees and scooping it up. "It's your goddamn fault! I’m gonna miss Gelvin because of you and your stupid date!" He looked like he was on the edge of crying. "I've been waiting a year for this! And I'm totally telling Winona that you did that - I bet she'll ground you for a year!"

Jim huffed, rolling his eyes. "I'm already pissing myself, buddy. And sorry to disappoint, but I'm gonna be eighteen in a few months and I’m gonna get the fuck out of here. And stop stressing over nothing, you baby! We can, like, turn it on normally—"

"No!” Mark wailed. “It's a new model; it doesn't work without a remote!"

The doorbell rang, and Jim sighed. "Fuck, she's already here."

Running a hand over his clothes, he walked to the door and swung it open. Jessica flashed him a bright smile, dressed in flattering heels and miniskirt despite the cold.

"Hey."

"Hi, come in," Jim said with a halfhearted smile and stepped aside, letting her walk into the foyer. Closing the door, he led her to the living room, hoping that Mark was already gone to his room.

But nope; the fucker was still sitting on the floor next to the smashed remote.

"Um, that's Mark," Jim said to Jessica with an awkward smile. "You probably know him from—"

Mark snorted, staring at the floor. "Don't trouble yourself, Jimmy boy. She's here just to get laid anyway—"

"Mark," Jim said through his teeth, feeling his face grow hot. "Shut up."

Mark snorted again. "Oh come on, like it's not true! She probably doesn't give a damn about watching TV." He scowled. "You should've just taken her upstairs like I told you, and then everyone would've been happy! She's got nice tits, I'll give you that."

Jim took one look at Jessica, who was flushed with embarrassment, and stepped up to Mark, jerking him to his feet. "I'll be back soon," he said to Jessica as he dragged Mark out of the living room, pushing him into the next hallway over.

"Let me go!" Mark yelled, trying to get free of his grasp, but it was pointless—Jim was much stronger than him. Jim slammed the door shut behind them and turned to Mark.

"What the hell is your problem?!" he shouted, glowering at him.

Mark glowered back. "My problem is, because of you and that brainless girl, I'm missing the show I've been waiting for the whole year!"

Jim rolled his eyes. "Mark, come on, who cares about that stupid show—"

"I do!" Mark shouted, his eyes red and his hands clenched into fists. "Yeah, sure, who cares about what I want when Mr. Popular here wants to watch TV just to get into the panties of some dumb blonde!"

Jim tilted his head, narrowing his eyes. He laughed harshly. "You’re just jealous  of me, admit it. You're jealous that I'm popular, that everyone loves me, and that I have lots of friends while you're a nobody."

Mark snorted. "What should I be jealous of -- those jerks you call friends? They'd leave you the second you stop being popular! Maybe I have only a few friends, but they're real—they give a shit about my life and me! And it's better to be a nobody than to be a fake somebody!” He rolled his eyes. “You know that half of the school hates your guts? No one really loves you, Jim! No one -- not your mom, not your dad and definitely not your brother -- he got out the second he could and doesn't even call you! No one gives a fuck about your pathetic ass! Even your mom loves me more than you!"

Jim stared at him, his fists clenching and unclenching at his sides. His throat was constricting, like something was lodged there and he couldn't get it out.

"Shut up."

"Why? It's true!"

"What's going on here?" the familiar voice said sharply, and they both whirled around to face Winona. Her hair was pulled back in a bun and she was wearing an apron. Had they been so loud that she heard them from the kitchen?

"Jim broke the TV!" Mark blurted out before Jim could say anything.

"What?" Winona said and fixed a hard gaze on Jim. "Do you have any idea how much it cost?"

"I didn't fucking break it," Jim said, letting a breath through his teeth. "It's just a remote, and if anything, it's Mark's fault, not mine. He's a fucking liar!"

"James Tiberius Kirk, you will cease this at once," Winona snapped. "Mark never lies."

Sticking his tongue in his cheek, Jim snorted bitterly. He couldn't even say that he was surprised that his mom took Mark's side. "Of course not. I’m always the lying one, right, Mom?"

Winona narrowed her eyes. "Don't talk to me like that, young man. You're grounded, Jim. Go to your room!"

Jim looked from Mark's smirking face to his mom's angry face—and, suddenly, he'd had enough.

"No," Jim said.

Winona's eyes flashed dangerously. "No?"

Jim set his jaw. “No,” he spat. "I'm sick of this house, of Iowa and all of you. I'm getting the fuck out of here. Merry Fucking Christmas." He turned and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.

The living room was empty. Jessica had left. Not that Jim could blame her.

He stared at the smashed remote on the floor, his eyes burning.

I'm fed up of dealing with his constant screw-ups.

No one really loves you, Jim! No one. Not your mom, not your dad and definitely not your brother… No one gives a fuck about your pathetic ass! Even your mom loves me more than you!


Screw them all.

He stalked out of the house.

It was already dark outside. His sweater did nothing to protect him against the cold December wind, but at least it wasn't snowing anymore. Jim walked down the nearest snowy path, Mark's words ringing in his ears. Before long, he was shivering. Jim wrapped his arms around himself and looked up.

A few bright stars winked at him through patchy clouds and Jim smiled slightly. He always liked looking at stars; he liked to imagine what was up there in space.

The sky was illuminated by lights, and Jim's lips twisted. Well, Merry Christmas to me. God, I hate this life. I want another one; want to have someone to love.

Jim chuckled out loud at his thoughts. Shit, he was pathetic. He should just go back home; maybe tomorrow his life wouldn't seem as shitty as it felt right now.

"As far as Christmas wishes go, this one was somewhat interesting, James Kirk," an unfamiliar voice said and Jim stopped in his tracks. His gaze darted around and stopped on a man.

Jim frowned. He could have sworn that he was alone seconds before, but now a middle-aged man stood before him. "Who are you? How do you know my name?"

The man smiled at him pleasantly. "Didn't you just make a Christmas wish on a star, Human?"

Jim's mouth fell open. "What? Who the fuck are you?"

The guy shook his head sadly. "Kids these days. So rude."

"Who. The fuck. Are you?"

The guy flashed him a sly smile that sent creeps down Jim's spine.

"You can call me… ‘Santa,’" he said in an amused voice. "I'm here to make your wishes come true."

"Not fucking funny,” Jim snarled. “I'm asking you for the last time: who are you?"

The guy narrowed his eyes dangerously, his lips curving into an ugly smile. "Don’t speak to me like that, Human. You're lucky I'm in a good mood tonight – really, you should be grateful that I'm here at all. You know how many trillions of pathetic wishes you humans make on Christmas Eve? I chose yours only because it was somewhat worthwhile.” His smile widened. “Also, you're kind of hard to ignore, kid; I wonder what your psi-rating is. Compared to other humans, you're very telepathically gifted. That's most unusual for a psi-null species."

Jim let out a laugh. "Are you seriously saying that you can make wishes come true? What have you been smoking, buddy?"

The guy shook his head with a smile. He smiled too much. It was kind of creepy. "You don't believe me, of course. You humans never do. What if I tell you that I know what you wished?"

Jim chuckled, certain that the guy was bullshitting. "Sure, let's hear it."

The man smiled. "You hate your life and you want another one and want to have someone to love."

Jim's mouth fell open.

"Huh, you look like you're freezing. I can fix it," the guy said, and snapped his fingers. Immediately, Jim felt very warm.

"Who are you?" he managed. "Or, what are you?"

"My name won't tell you anything," the guy answered, sounding bored. "And it doesn't really matter. What does matter is that I can make your wish come true — if you really want it."

"What do you mean, if I really want it?"

The guy snorted. "I've been doing this job for two thousand twenty-eight Earth years. You have no idea what I've seen, Human. Compared to some shit I've seen, what you’re going through is just some teenage phase. It'll pass, believe me. Your life in this universe isn't half bad, James Tiberius Kirk."

Jim frowned, his mind reeling. In this universe? What did that mean? Who the fuck was this guy—this creature? Because there was no way it was human.

Before Jim could ask, the guy continued, "There are many parallel worlds in which your life is much worse than in this one. At least here, you have your father, mother and brother alive, right? Admittedly, it's not the most loving family in the world, but, you know. Details. Who cares?"

Jim eyed him for a few moments before saying, "Strangely, I care. Even if what you're saying is true—even if parallel worlds exist, and there are worlds in which my life is much worse - there must be others where my life is much better, right?"

The guy hummed in agreement. "Well, yeah, but my point is - you're not selling yourself on the streets of San Francisco, you're not being beaten to death by your stepdad, and you're not starving on Tarsus IV. Overall, though, yeah, you're right. In most of the universes you have a happy long life with lots of close friends, happy family and a lifelong relationship with the love of your life. Happy now?"

"No," Jim said, looking down. He kicked at the snow with the toe of one boot.

The guy went silent for a while. "Look, kid, I told you that your life would get better. It really will. Sure, you won't have a happily-ever-after, but not everyone has a happily-ever-after, damn it! You’re gonna have two cute kids, a wife you don't hate, a steady income—"

Jim snorted. "A wife I don't hate? What happened to 'the love of my life'?"

"That person doesn't exist in this universe."

Jim's lips twisted. "Of course." Sighing, he looked up at the creature. "Why are you even here? If you wanted to convince me that my life doesn't suck so much, you're doing it wrong. You're a shitty Santa, no offence."

The guy smiled slyly. "Oh, I'm not here to convince you of anything. I told you that I can make your wish come true."

Jim stared at him incredulously before laughing a little. "Really? And how can you give me another life?"

The stranger shrugged. "It's pretty easy for me. I can put you in another universe, and you surely will have a very different life. But I can do it only if you really want it. Meddling with parallel universes is a tricky thing. I have authorities that would have my head for doing that kind of thing to an unwilling person, which is… sucks. Shit, I'm so sick of all these pointless restrictions and rules. Can't wait for my sentence to be over so I'm free from this stupid job. I'm not a fucking fairy— What?"

Jim is staring at the… whatever it is. "You really can give me another, better life?"

The guy smirked. "Sure, I can give you another life. But the thing is, I can't promise you a better life—I simply don't know. I told you that meddling with parallel universes is a tricky thing. Since you are from another world, you would destroy the natural flow of events in a chosen universe, so it's impossible to predict anything. You can die within an hour or you can happily live a hundred of years—it's all in your own hands. Also, I can send you only to a universe where James Kirk originally never existed, so don't expect to have the perfect family with a loving mommy and daddy you're craving. Maybe you'd be better suited in your own universe—"

"I want it," Jim said, his heart hammering like crazy. Adventure.

The guy regarded him for a little while.

"You really want it?" he said finally. "You're really ready to leave your life here, your family? I'm asking you for the last time, boy."

Jim licked his lips. Some part of him still couldn't believe that this was really happening. Some part of him was still wondering if this was some elaborate joke or a very vivid dream. Did he really want to leave his family—no matter how shitty it was—for something unknown?

Maybe the creature was right; maybe he was just an ungrateful greedy shit. But knowing that his future consisted of "a wife he wouldn't hate" and "a steady income" didn't make Jim particularly excited about the prospect. He didn't think he could settle for an ordinary life. It wasn't what he wanted. Maybe it was naïve of him, but Jim always felt like he was meant for something better, something special, and something more exciting—something that wasn't a white picket fence and 2.5 kids. The American dream was way overrated.

"You know, I think I like you, James," the guy said suddenly. "Something like this takes guts; therefore I'll give you a ticket back. Just in case." He handed something to Jim.

Jim took it warily and examined the thing - a big silver medallion. "This is a simple time-turner," the guy explained. "If you regret your decision and want to come back, open the medallion and we'll talk—if I feel like talking, of course. If I decide that your reason is good enough, you will be returned to this exact moment. But the thing is, the time-turner would work only for a limited period of time—after that, the medallion would be useless."

Jim raised his eyebrows. "Why?"

The guy shrugged with one shoulder. "Time-travel is a tricky thing, James. If you spend a certain amount of time in a parallel universe, you can't return back to your original universe without creating an alternate timeline—and there's no way in hell I'll be responsible for creating one of those. That's why I'm giving you a simple time-turner that will stop working when time shifts become irreversible."

Jim wrinkled his noise. Parallel universes, alternate timelines—weren't they essentially the same thing?

"How are alternate timelines different from parallel universes?"

The guy chuckled. "Damn, I hate smart kids. Yes, all alternate timelines are parallel universes, but not all parallel universes are alternate timelines. There are different types of parallel universes. I’ll send you to a trans-dimensional universe. I'm warning you: trans-dimensional realms are very different from each other, so you’ll end up in a parallel universe that is very different from yours. Trans-dimensional universes weren't created because some person decided to drink a cup of coffee instead of tea—those would be quantum realities, one for every possible outcome of any event that occurs.

“Alternate timelines can be considered as parallel universes, too, but alternate timelines are different versions of asingle universe and the result of unintentional—or intentional—temporal interference. I don't want you to create an alternate timeline by intentional time-travel, got it? Those are frowned upon. That's why I gave you a time-turner that would work only while you can return back into your own timeline without creating another one."

Jim stared at him, his mind reeling from the flood of information. "Yeah, I think I get it. But won't I create an alternate timeline just by leaving this universe and going into another?"

The guy heaved a sigh. "Didn't I explain it already? Alternate timelines are different versions of a single universe; they're still similar to each other. For example, there is a prime universe in which you're a starship captain and—"

"Really?"

"—And, in most of the alternate timelines of that universe, you're still the captain of the same ship, even though many circumstances are different. This was an example of alternate timelines of a single universe. I will send you to a completely different trans-dimensional universe on another dimension where Jim Kirk doesn't exist. You won't create an alternate timeline—you'll just change the current one simply by existing in it."

"Like a new baby can change it when it's born, right?" Jim said slowly, beginning to understand.

"Exactly! As for your own universe, you'll just disappear, which happens all the time to people."

"And where are you going to send me?" Jim asked, starting to get really excited.

"Hmm, let's see," the guy mused, and some strange device appeared in his hand. Out of nowhere. (Again, who was that guy?)

"Hey, you aren't God, are you?" Jim said tentatively.

The guy smirked, but didn't tear his gaze from the device. "Oh, you can call me God if you want; it won't be too much of a stretch. I don't even know how to explain to you what I am. It's amazingly ridiculous that in this reality you humans still think you're the only sentient beings in the universe."

Jim stared at him wide-eyed. "There are aliens out there?"

The guy laughed out loud. "Aliens? Yes, there are aliens out there. Plenty of them. And, technically, I'm an alien, too, even though I've been stuck on this planet for thousands of years."

Jim's mouth fell open. He made a step back, looking at the guy—alien—warily. "You're an alien? What are you doing here?"

"I was sentenced to this job because I… Well. You won't understand anyway. My punishment will end in one thousand twenty-nine Earth years, and then I can return home."

Wow. An alien. And an immortal one at that.

Honestly, Jim found it hard to believe. The guy didn't look alien at all. Weren't aliens supposed to have gray skin, very large heads and narrow eyes?

"And where's your home?" Jim asked curiously.

"Q Continuum," the guy muttered absentmindedly, looking at his device. "Shit, it's hard to find a trans-dimensional universe you don't exist. You’re, like, everywhere."

Jim smiled. "I'm just awesome like that."

"You're just a pain in the ass like that," the guy grumbled.

"You sound so human, you know."

"Don't insult me... Found it. Finally."

Jim bounced on his feet, excited. "Really? What kind of a universe is it?"

The guy smirked and looked up.

Jim didn't like that smirk at all. "What?" he said, licking his lips. The guy was an extremely powerful alien. Aliens could be nasty, right? "Tell me you're not sending me to a barbaric world or something."

The guy smiled. "Oh no. I'm not gonna tell you anything. It will be…a surprise. A Christmas present."

Jim laughed. "What? Are you kidding me? I'm not going to walk into it blindly! You think I'm stupid?"

The guy narrowed his eyes. "You know, I'm seriously starting to regret I chose your wish among billions. You're an ungrateful little brat. It would've been easier—and much quicker—just to give the kid from next door a puppy he wants so much."

Jim gave him a 'please' look. "But it would've been much more boring."

The guy sighed. "Can't argue with you on that one. You have no idea how boring this stupid job usually is."

"See? Come on, you've got to tell me something about that world!"

The guy sighed. "Fine. In that universe, the Milky Way is under the control of the United Planets of Vulcan Kingdom. The Vulcan Kingdom has been a major interstellar power for over seven hundred years, encompassing the Vulcan people and their subject worlds and species. The Vulcan Kingdom is ruled by the King and The Council of Houses—of 144 Houses."

The alien rolled his eyes. "But it's only on paper. The matriarch of the First Royal House does the actual ruling. Hmm, what else… Vulcans conquered Earth in 16th century, and Earth has been a part of the Vulcan Kingdom ever since."

Jim frowned. "We're enslaved?"

"Not anymore. About a century ago, humans were granted freedom and rights. There's no slavery in the Kingdom anymore—well, there is some, kind of, but only for non-dangerous criminals. Criminals might be sentenced to years of forced labor and given to Vulcan Houses for service. Usually they work as servants."

Jim waved his hand impatiently, not particularly interested in criminals. "I can still keep my name, right? Are you gonna fake my background, put in some illusions and stuff?"

The guy started laughing. "Wow, you have a rich imagination, kid. Yes, you can keep your name and you can tell everyone the story of your life—I don't care. It's all in your own hands. Well, are you ready?"

Jim stared at him. "What? I'm going right now?"

The guy raised his eyebrows. "Sure. I don't have all night, Human. Or maybe you changed your mind?"

Licking his lips, Jim glanced back to the house at distance. "No, but… I need to take my things with me? Clothes and—"

"You don't need anything. Everything will be given to you."

Jim narrowed his eyes suspiciously, feeling a nagging doubt at the back of his mind. "Where are you sending me?"

The guy flashed him a smile that sent shivers down Jim's spine. "Like I said - it's a surprise."

Jim looked back at the house that he'd lived in for most of his short life. He still could change his mind. It was crazy. The whole thing was crazy.

"Remember, if you don't like the other universe, you have a ticket back," the guy reminded him with a sly smile.

Jim looked at the medallion in his hand. Right. He’d sort of forgotten that he could return any moment, which made things easier. In the worst-case scenario, it would be just an adventure. Who else had ever had the opportunity to see a parallel universe with aliens and space travel?

He might even like it there enough to stay.

"Remember what I told you?" the guy reminded him. "About the person who is the love of your life in many universes and who doesn't exist in yours?” He paused. “What if I tell you that this person exists in the other universe?"

Jim's gaze darted to him. "Really?"

The guy inclined his head slightly, his expression unreadable. "Really. But since I can’t meddle in the natural flow of events even more, naturally, I can't tell you who it is."

Jim snorted. "Naturally. And how am I supposed to find that person? If I want, I mean."

The guy smiled oddly. "Oh, you don't necessarily have to. The universe has ways to right itself. You’ll be surprised, but you two manage to find each other in practically every universe against all odds."

Jim raised his eyebrows skeptically. "Are you talking about destiny? I don't believe in destiny."

The guy threw his head back and laughed. "Then you're a fool, Human."

"Everyone is the creator of their own destiny."

"Not truly. There is a fixed natural order to the cosmos. The different courses of action people take may still lead to a predetermined destiny. We’re all just little pawns—even such beings as me. I'm not saying that everything is predetermined — if it were the case, there wouldn't be billions of alternate realities. But some things are, and no matter the universe, history repeats itself. It isn't necessarily a bad thing, believe me. All right, I'm tired of chatting. Are you ready?"

Jim looked down at the medallion before putting it around his neck. "Yup."

The guy grinned. "Merry Christmas, James Kirk," he said, and, putting a hand on Jim's shoulder, closed his eyes.

The next moment  Jim felt himself literally thrown. A warm feeling took hold of his body, his vision went yellow and reddish, and soon all he saw was darkness as he felt himself lose consciousness.

Chapter Text

                                                                                     



The first thing Jim became aware of was the heat. He cracked open his eyes and winced at the bright sunlight. When his eyes finally adjusted, Jim found himself staring at the red sky.

Huh. Unless something freaky happened in this universe that turned the sky red, there was no way he was on Earth anymore. 

Grunting, Jim got to his feet, which took more effort than it should have, and took in his surroundings. All he could see were rocks, sand, more rocks, and a scattering of scrubby, wild-looking plants. Though the view was stark, it was also beautiful – so vivid, like from a fantasy movie or fairytale.

But the heat… man, the heat was unbearable. The air was impossibly hot and dry; there wasn't even a slight breeze in the air. 

Jim took his sweater off, but it didn't help a whole lot; he was still sweating like a pig. It must be well over a hundred degrees. Dying from a heat stroke definitely wasn't what he'd meant when he asked for another life. 

Jim looked around, looking for something—anything—but there was nothing. The desert seemed to go on forever, like an endless sea of sand and rock. For all he knew, it stretched for thousands of miles in all directions and he would die here from dehydration. 

Feeling desperation creep into him, Jim pulled the medallion from around his neck and opened it. If that fucker wouldn't appear—

A small 3-D image of the guy's face was floating about a couple of millimeters from the medallion. The alien beamed at him. "Why are you angry, Jimmy boy? The universe isn't to your liking?"

Jim clenched his jaw. "Please explain to me why I'm in a goddamn desert."

The guy smiled brightly at him. "Patience is a virtue, James. You'll find out everything very soon."

"Look, buddy," Jim said in a low voice. "I'm sick of your games. Tell me what’s going on."

All mirth left the guy's face. He narrowed his eyes, his lips curling into an ugly smile. "Mind your tongue, Human. I can lose my patience, you know."

Jim bit his lip, then sighed. "Look, you gotta get me out of here. You promised."

The guy's face went stony. "Why would I do that? You only got there. Is this how you show gratitude?"

Jim pinched the bridge of his nose. "Look, I'm... grateful, but it wasn't what I meant when I said that I want another, a better life."

The guy huffed. "I warned you that I couldn't promise you a better life. It's all in your own hands."

Jim took a deep breath. He had a ton of questions, but he needed to ask important ones first.

"Why the hell am I here?" he said, waving a hand around.

The guy smiled slyly. "It's the best place for you to be."

Jim stared at him incredulously. "Being in a fucking desert is the best place for me?"

The guy laughed. "I know, I know, it's hard to believe, but believe me, it is. I'm pretty sure everything will work out great in the end. I'm Santa today, remember?"

Jim gave him a skeptical look. 

"I know you don't believe me, but I'm not lying, Human. Sure, I'm not telling you lots of stuff just for the fun of it, but I don't wish you harm. I'm giving you a huge opportunity here. Don't miss it because you're a stubborn little shit with trust issues. And, by the way, you're going the wrong way." 

He pointed into the opposite direction Jim was facing. "Go this way. And don't bother me unless you have a legitimate reason to go back to your own universe. Good luck!"

"Wait—" Jim started, but the holo already disappeared.

Jim stared at the medallion for a few moments, feeling just as lost as before the talk, before putting it back around his neck. Wiping the sweat of his forehead, he turned around and started walking.

Jim had no idea how long he had been walking, but he was exhausted enough to have gone several miles. His mouth was dry as paper, the back of his tee soaked with sweat, his legs unsteady. He was panting for air, and there was a growing headache in his skull. Jim wasn't even looking where he was walking anymore, just staring at his feet and panting. Breathing seemed to be taking up a lot of his energy, making every movement an effort. 

His dizziness was only getting worse and it took Jim a few seconds to realize that there was some sound that wasn't his own heavy breathing.

It took him an incredible force of will to lift his head.

A man was walking into his direction, saying something in an unfamiliar language.

Jim blinked blankly. The man was pointing at him a gun-like thingy. 

That’s probably not a good thing, Jim thought numbly before a strong wave of dizziness passed over of him, sending him onto the ground. The last thing he saw before everything went black was a pointy ear of the man looming over him.

Huh? 

 




~~*~~
 

 


Jim blinked at the unfamiliar ceiling as it slowly came into focus. His head was so fuzzy that for a minute, he couldn't form coherent thoughts. It took him a while to remember everything—the wish, the heat, and the desert.

Jim sighed. Goddammit, this was getting ridiculous. He had fainted like some damsel in distress twice in a few hours.

"Are you feeling better?" 

Startled by the voice, Jim turned his head and found himself looking at a beautiful woman sitting in a chair beside his bed. She was around forty, with dark hair and eyes. Jim was no fashion expert, but even he could tell that the dress she was wearing was nice—and expensive.

"Yeah," Jim said with an awkward smile, sitting up and quickly surveying his surroundings. 

He was in a huge bedroom—a guest room, he guessed, since there were no personal items. Jim's gaze lingered on a man standing rigidly a few feet away from the woman. He was eyeing Jim warily, one hand on a gun-like thingy in his holster.

A guard?

"It seems you got heat stroke, honey," the woman said, smiling kindly at him. She looked down at some device in her hand. "You also were dehydrated and had mild hypoxia." She frowned. "And no wonder—there wasn't a tri-ox compound in your blood."

Jim blinked. "A what?"

It was her turn to blink. "You don't know what a tri-ox compound is?"

Eyeing Jim, the man said something in an unfamiliar language, and Jim looked at the woman. "I don't understand him, ma'am. What does he want?"

The woman's eyebrows furrowed. "You don't have a Universal Translator implanted, either?"

Jim chewed on his bottom lip. Would she believe him if he told her that he was from a parallel world?

"Uh… nope."

Still frowning, the woman told something to the man. He nodded and pulled out a device vaguely resembling a cell phone, saying something into it.

"What's your name?" the woman asked, turning back to Jim.

"Jim. James T. Kirk." He waited for her to introduce herself, but she didn't. "What's yours, ma'am?"

She stared at him. 

Jim smiled awkwardly. "Um, is there something on my face?"

"You don't know who I am," she said slowly.

Jim raised his eyebrows. "I should?"

She opened her mouth, but was interrupted when another poker-faced man—also with a gun-like thingy—entered the room, carrying something in his hand. He gave the small device to Jim and left the room without a single word.

Jim looked down at the device. 

"Do you understand me, Human?" the guard said.

Jim blinked. It sounded to him like the guard was speaking in excellent English, but somehow he doubted it.

"Yes," Jim said and looked at the woman. "Is this a translator?" 

She nodded.

"Excellent," the guard said coldly. "You will answer my questions. You have entered the First House's property unauthorized. Explain how and why you did it."

Jim shook his head. "Look, buddy—" He froze, staring at the man's ear. "Holy—"

"What?" the woman said, looking from Jim to the guard.

Gaping, Jim pointed at the man's ear. "His ear!"

The guard touched his ear and looked at the woman. "Is there anything wrong with my ear, Your Highness?"

She frowned, eyeing said ear. "I don't see anything wrong."

Jim looked at her incredulously. "But—but he's got pointy ears!"

Both of them stared at Jim like he was crazy.

"Indeed," said the pointy-eared man. "Pointed ears are perfectly normal for Vulcans."

Jim blinked, then felt himself flush. Crap; he'd completely forgotten that he was on another planet.

He was among aliens. Holy shit, he was among fucking aliens. He was looking at an alien—at a Vulcan.

Vulcans didn't look like Jim had imagined. If it weren’t for their pointed ears and upswept eyebrows, they would have easily passed for humans. Alien. Seeing an alien who looked like a human was one thing, but seeing a real alien with pointy ears was completely another. 

Quit freaking out, Kirk. Yup, it was a little weird, so what? He’d wanted an adventure, hadn’t he? 

"Jim, how come you'd never seen a Vulcan before?" the woman said slowly, as if talking to a small child. "It’s impossible. You’re in the Vulcan Kingdom, on the planet Vulcan."

Jim brushed a hand through his hair. Some part of him still could not believe it was really happening. Just a few hours ago, he was on the phone with Gary, talking about chicks, and now he was in a parallel world, on an alien planet. 

Merry Christmas, indeed.

"Jim, answer the question."

He sighed. "I'm sort of… not from around here."

The woman eyed him. "But you're a Human. You speak English as your first language." 

"Yeah, I'm a Human, but I'm not— I'm from a parallel universe."

No one laughed. The Vulcan didn't even blink. The woman only raised her eyebrows.

"Most curious," the Vulcan said before looking at the woman. "I do not trust this individual, Your Highness."

"Hey!" Jim said, insulted, then frowned. "Wait. 'Your Highness'?"

The woman smiled at the Vulcan. "It's your job not to trust anyone, Sereek, but I think the fact that Jim doesn't know who I am is quite telling." She looked at Jim. "I'm Lady Amanda, the Queen Consort of the United Planets of Vulcan Kingdom. You can call me Amanda."

"O-okay," Jim said, utterly bewildered. "What I'm doing in your house? This is your house, right?"

"Indeed," she agreed. "You're in the Chavantal Palace, the main residence of the Royal Family of Vulcan. You were found on the grounds by one of our guards and brought into the palace."

"Okay," Jim said, still feeling lost. Why did 'Santa' put him in the royal family's territory of all things?

"I do not trust this individual, Your Highness," Sereek repeated. "He is most likely lying. There are only 127 documented cases of travelling between parallel universes. He can be a terrorist or—"

"He's just a kid, Sereek," Amanda said, and while normally Jim would protest to being called a kid, he liked being called a terrorist even less, so he kept silent. "And I trust him. I'm a xenolinguistics and communications expert. Trust me, he isn't lying." 

Sereek pursed his lips. "I trust your judgment, Your Highness, but it is my job to ascertain that he does not present any danger to the Royal House. I insist on using a t'verhat on him."

She turned to Jim, who spoke before she could.

"What's a t'verhat?"



~~*~~
 


t'verhat turned out to be some sort of lie detector that apparently never made mistakes. Sereek interrogated him for what felt like hours until he finally conceded that Jim 'appears to be telling the truth'.

The only good thing that came from this interrogation was that Jim finally found out who that mysterious guy was. When he mentioned 'Q Continuum', Sereek's suspicions seemed to fade—apparently, Vulcans had encountered those beings before.

Amanda explained to Jim that the Q Continuum was an extradimensional plane of existence inhabited by a race of beings known as the Q. As a race, the Q were immortal, omniscient, and omnipotent, possessing the ability of instantaneous matter-energy transformation and teleportation, as well as the ability to time travel. Their apparent abilities included moving entire asteroid belts and stars, creating alternate timelines, and affecting universal states of nature such as the gravitational constant. 

In fact, the only time a Q was unable to do something was during a period where their powers were reduced or revoked by the Continuum. 

Well. That explained some things about the guy.

When the interrogation was finally over, Amanda immediately dragged Jim to the kitchen, because apparently he looked like a starved puppy. Jim didn't protest—he was a growing boy, after all.

That was how Jim found himself in a huge kitchen, eating some delicious blue fruit, while Amanda watched him eat.

"Jim," she said finally, frowning a little.

"Mmm?" 

"Do you have somewhere to go?"

Jim winced. Yeah; that was exactly the subject he had been avoiding to think about. Where would he go, really? He knew next to nothing about this universe. He literally didn't know a soul.

Way to think ahead, Kirk. 

Jim knew he had a bad tendency to leap into things without thinking them through. This had all seemed like an exciting adventure at first, but now when Jim was actually here… It was still exciting, but he was starting to think about more practical things—like the fact that he had no money, nothing to eat and drink. He was homeless.

He was fucked.

"Nope. I guess I'll look around and…" Jim shrugged with one shoulder, feigning nonchalance.

"You can stay here if you want," Amanda said, and Jim's gaze snapped to her.

"Really?"

She smiled at him. "Yes."

Jim smiled back. "Wow; okay. Thanks, ma'am."

She chuckled. "Don't thank me yet. My husband may kill us both."

"The King? Why?" 

"He has a thing about security and safety since... " Something flickered in Amanda's eyes. "Sarek isn't going to like the presence of a stranger in the Palace." She rubbed her forehead, sighing. "Jim, you do intend to use that medallion and return to your own universe, right? You mom will be worried sick."

Jim's lips twisted. "No, she won't."

She looked at him sadly. "You’re wrong, honey. Every mother loves her child more than anything-"

Jim chuckled harshly, looking down. "Not mine. Ma'am."

"There’s nothing harder for a mother than losing her child."

He looked at her, frowning. She was speaking as if she knew from experience.

Before he could ask, a tall, severe-looking Vulcan, wearing long dark robes, entered the room. He was practically radiating authority, and Jim hurriedly stood up. 

The Vulcan examined Jim from head to toe, his face completely blank. 

"Sarek, this is Jim," Amanda said to the Vulcan. "Jim, this is my husband, Sarek."

Jim licked his lips nervously. Right. The King. Shit.

"Sereek informed me of him," Sarek said coldly. "Amanda, he cannot stay here." 

Jim frowned. How did the King know that Lady Amanda had suggested him to stay?

"Sarek, he's just a boy. He has nowhere to go."

"Amanda," the King said in a warning tone.

She put a hand on Jim's shoulder. "A boy, Sarek," she repeated softly. "Please."

They stared at each other, and Jim looked from one to the other, feeling like he was missing something. Something shifted in Sarek's expression. Was it sadness?

"Very well," he said, barely moving his lips, and Amanda grinned.

The King glanced at Jim. "I will suggest giving him a job to do. We cannot have him wandering about." And seeing things he shouldn't.

Amanda looked at him. "Jim, can you cook? I love cooking for the family, and I could use a pair of hands."

Jim started. "Uh, yeah. Sure, I can cook."

Sarek did not look particularly excited about the prospect of eating something Jim helped to prepare, but inclined his head. "Very well. If you excuse me, I have business matters to attend to." 

He looked at Jim. "If you cause any harm to my family, you will pay for that with your life. Is that understood?"

Swallowing, Jim nodded quickly. He let out a breath when Sarek left.

Amanda smiled at him with understanding eyes. "He can be pretty scary. Now follow me, honey. I'll show you around the palace and to your room."

 



~~*~~
 

 


Jim liked his life here. It might not be as exciting as he'd imagined, but it was interesting. Every day—hell, every minute—he discovered and learned something new about this world. For the first time in a long time, he was really excited about learning new things. 

Admittedly, it was pretty weird to live under the same roof as the King, but, in Jim's opinion, T'Pau was much, much scarier. Even after a few weeks here, Jim wasn't sure how T'Pau was related to Sarek (what exactly did being the matriarch of the First Royal House mean?), but she had enormous power over the King and the Council of Houses. 

As far as Jim could tell — and if this place’s “Internet” was to be believed — T'Pau had been the 'grey cardinal' for over a century during her husband's, and now Sarek's, reign (Jim still couldn't get over how long Vulcans lived. The medicine — among everything else — was so advanced that everyone lived much longer than at home, even Humans. Humans' average lifespan was 147 years).

T'Pau's cousin T'Pol was a Royal Press Attaché, whose job was to keep all the royal family out of the gossip columns. Jim wasn't sure how good T'Pol was at her job, because he'd run across plenty of gossip on the Internet. It was almost comforting that some things never changed, no matter the universe. 

The King and Lady Amanda had a twenty-year-old son, Spock, who was bonded to Lady T'Rena of the Third House. Jim hadn't met Spock yet, because apparently he was in the Gamma Quadrant (and yes, Jim had looked up what Gamma Quadrant was, and holy fucking Christ, the Kingdom of Vulcan consisted of over three thousand planets. No wonder Q had laughed when he asked him if there were aliens out there). 

Jim also had discovered that Vulcans were three times stronger than humans and had super-fast reflexes as well as superior hearing to almost all humanoids. They also could do some fancy telepathy tricks and last days without eating, sleeping and drinking. Even Superman would be jealous; Jim definitely was.

Jim's duties were pretty simple. Every day, he got up with the sun and prepared breakfast for the family, sometimes serving it, then had free time until dinner. He usually spent his afternoons in his room, napping or reading. Lady Amanda had given him a device called a PADD, and Jim had lots of e-books in English and Vulcan on it.

He had started studying Vulcan in his free time. His translator worked just fine, but if he were to stay in this world, he didn't want to carry the translator on him all the time. He also wanted to know how to read and write in the language. Amanda was pretty skeptical when she found out that he was attempting to learn Vulcan — apparently the language was extremely difficult for Humans — but, after a few days, she started encouraging him in his studies and helping him with things he didn't understand. 

Jim knew he had gotten really lucky with Amanda. She was a great person who was everyone's mom — always kind, friendly, and patient. She was pretty down-to-earth despite being the queen-consort, and Jim liked being around her, although sometimes her behavior confused him—she could be smiling one minute and be sad and subdued the next. It never ceased to amaze Jim that she was married to Sarek, who was the exact opposite of her. (Also, Jim sometimes wondered about the mechanics of being married to an alien — though he wasn't thinking about royal couple's bedroom, because no). 

In the evenings, when the heat of the day would die away, he usually did some exploring. He had relative freedom to move within the palace. There were only a few exceptions: private quarters, Sarek's office, and the left wing of the palace. 

When Jim had asked why he was forbidden to go into the left wing, Amanda had abruptly changed the topic, and Jim took the hint, even though his curiosity only increased. During the few weeks he was in the palace, he had seen a few unfamiliar Vulcans coming in and out of the wing, looking grim. It made Jim only more curious about the whole thing. He'd even asked the butler if he knew anything, but the Vulcan gave him a cold look and told him that it was none of his concern. 

It was the wrong thing to say, really.





~~*~~
 


Holding his breath, Jim looked around a corner and peered into the first dark corridor of the left wing. He couldn't see or hear anyone.

Slowly, he walked down the corridor, the bright light of Vulcan's sister-planet Delta Vega the only light source. The corridor seemed to last forever and was so quiet that Jim could hear the squeaking sound made by his sneakers on the sparkling clean floor.

Jim was beginning to doubt that there was anything remotely interesting in this wing when he noticed an unremarkable metal door. 

The door looked completely out of place. 

His curiosity heightened, and Jim approached the door and put his ear against it. He couldn't hear anything – though, for all he knew, the door could be soundproof.

Jim examined the door for a minute, making sure that there was no alarm. As far as he could tell, there wasn't, and the door wasn't locked. 

He pulled the door open and peeked into the room—

Except it wasn't a room. It was a garden surrounded by high walls, which rendered it secluded as any room of the palace. Jim stepped into the garden, letting the door shut behind him. There was probably a glass ceiling above him or some kind of force field, because while Jim could see stars and Delta Vega on the dark sky, the air wasn't as cold as it should have been at night if he were outdoors.

Jim looked around. He couldn't see the garden very well because of the darkness, but it seemed remarkably similar to the palace's main garden. It had the same dense vegetation, and the air smelled of flowers and that sweet blue fruit Jim liked so much. His stomach growled at the scent, and Jim stepped onto the narrow path between the trees.

He made only a few steps when he felt a strange tickling sensation on his skin. It felt like he had just gone through something. 

Frowning, Jim turned around and made a tentative step ahead. Jim's eyes widened as his leg hit an invisible wall. Fuck. A force field?

He tried a few more times, but it was useless, and it hurt like a motherfucker, because it was like he was slamming repeatedly against a stone wall. He could perfectly see the door just a few feet away, but it could as well be a thousand miles away. 

Shit, shit, shit. How the fuck would he explain his presence in the wing to T'Pau and Sarek? And Amanda would be so disappointed in him. He needed to find a way out. He had to find another exit, or he was screwed. 

Jim turned around and looked back down the dark path. To be honest, the path looked far more inviting when he hadn't known about the force field. The fact that it allowed him to enter but not to leave couldn't possibly mean anything good.

Jim began slowly walking deeper into the garden, looking around warily. 

His footsteps sounded unnaturally loud in the eerie silence, and Jim stopped when he realized why. 

It was very quiet in the garden.

Too quiet.

His stomach twisting, Jim looked around, peering into the dark vegetation. Maybe he was just imagining things, but he felt watched. Someone—or something—was watching him. 

Jim's skin crawled and the hair on the back of his neck stood up.

"Hello?" he called. "Is anyone—"

He yelped as he was thrown against a tree and something pinned him to it. Something that was growling. 

Jim went very, very still. 

 


His first thought was that it was an animal, but he quickly realized that he was wrong. It definitely was a humanoid, a male, and, judging by his upswept eyebrows that Jim could discern in Delta Vega's light, he was a Vulcan. But other than that, there was nothing Vulcan about this...creature. His hair reached to his shoulders and was a mess of dark curls—nothing like bowl-cuts other Vulcans favored. He was also very, very naked. 

The iron grip around Jim's neck hurt like a son-of-a-bitch, he could barely breathe, and his body itched to fight, but Jim made himself stay still — no matter what Winona constantly said, Jim did have a sense of self-preservation and responsibility (well, some). He wasn't stupid. He had no delusions about his ability to outrun a Vulcan, and there was no way in hell he could win in a fight with him. He had to play nice and hope the Vulcan wouldn't see him as a threat. 

Suddenly, the Vulcan stopped growling. The hand around Jim's throat shifted to his shoulder, and Jim managed to take one deep breath before the Vulcan leaned his head down and buried his face in the juncture of Jim's neck and shoulder, taking deep, curious breaths. 

He was sniffing him. Like an animal.

Jim looked down at the black-haired head.

"Um," he said, not knowing what to think. This was a whole new level of weird. 

An odd noise rumbled from the Vulcan's chest before he bit Jim sharply, wrenching a small cry from him.

Fuck
, it hurt like a bitch, but Jim didn't think he was bleeding.

The Vulcan started licking the spot he had just bitten, and Jim tensed when he felt an unmistakable hardness against his stomach. 

Shit. The Vulcan was hard. 

Before he could decide what to do, the guy threw him over his shoulder.

"Hey, what the fuck— Put me down!" 

The Vulcan just patted his ass in a manner that was probably meant to be reassuring and continued carrying him, heading deeper into the garden.

Finally, he was thrown down on a bed. 

With a grunt, Jim turned on his back and had precisely one second to be surprised by the presence of the bed in the garden before all his attention focused on the Vulcan who was sprawled next to him. 

He licked his dry lips, eyeing the Vulcan warily, acutely aware that he was in a bed with a naked, feral dude who had a boner and happened to be three times stronger than him. There was a saying about curiosity and the cat, and Jim supposed it might have been his own fault, but he wasn't killed — or worse — yet. 

Jim looked nervously at the Vulcan's cock, which was twitching against his pale stomach. He couldn't help himself and stared. He'd never seen an aroused guy, much less an aroused alien. The cock didn’t look much different from his, though — a little bigger, maybe.

Jim tore his gaze away to look at the Vulcan's face and goose bumps ran down his spine. He now had an inkling of what it actually felt like to be hunted, like the quarry of a predator that was about to be devoured. The Vulcan looked like he was about to pounce on him. It made Jim nervous as fuck, but at the same time it was...weirdly exciting.

"Hey, what’s your name?" Jim said, his voice unnaturally loud in the silence. He didn't expect the Vulcan to answer, but the sound of his own voice made Jim feel more in control of the situation.

The Vulcan cocked his head slightly, his nostrils flaring. Fuck, he looked like he wanted to eat him -- or fuck him. Jim wasn't sure what would be  worse.

He forced out a laugh, wetting his lips again. "Quit looking at me like that, okay?"

Jim froze when the Vulcan reached out and took his hand. Jim blinked, confused. He hadn't expected a feral Vulcan to want to do the handholding thing. 

Except it wasn't really handholding. The Vulcan was stroking his long fingers against Jim's, making small humming noises. It clearly was turning the guy on — his breathing elevated and he looked like someone was giving him a handjob.

Curious, Jim stroked the fingers back. 

The reaction was instantaneous—the Vulcan growled like a wild animal and roughly jerked Jim into his arms, arranging them so that his crotch pressed against Jim's ass. Cursing, Jim made an attempt to pull away, but Vulcan growled louder, tightened his hold around Jim's waist to the point of almost crushing his ribs.

"O-okay," Jim said with a nervous chuckle. "Got it. Not moving." 

He stopped struggling, lying rigidly in the guy's arms. He could feel the moisture from the Vulcan's cock dampening the fabric of his sweatpants, and only now started fully realizing the seriousness of the situation. 

The guy’s intentions were pretty clear. If he decided to screw him — and he clearly did want to — there wasn't a goddamn thing Jim could do about it. He was fucking helpless.

"Let me go," he managed, panic constricting his throat. 

The Vulcan started rubbing his belly in a circular slow motion, as if Jim was a wild animal that needed calming. Strange, but it seemed to be working, and Jim felt the tension gradually leave his body, his panic subsiding.

He stared up at the night sky, trying to keep the hysterical laughter bubbling in his chest down. He was being spooned by a feral alien, who was giving him a belly rub and whose dick was pressed against his ass. His life was just fucking weird.

Jim tensed again as the Vulcan's hand crept under his T-shirt and began stroking the soft skin of his stomach with gentle movements. The hand slid higher, rubbing his chest and sensitive nipples. 

Jim bit his lip, unsure what to do. 

Quite predictably, all the touching and petting was turning him on, and Jim was getting fidgety and uncomfortable. For one thing, he wasn't used to having an erection and not dealing with it; and for another, the fact that he had an erection was weirding him out. Sure, it wasn't like he could help it — he was seventeen — but still. Jim wasn't into human guys, and he sure as hell wasn't into alien guys.

He was jerked rudely from his thoughts when suddenly there was a ripping sound and he found himself naked.

"Hey, what the fuuuck— oh—" Jim gasped as the hot hand wrapped around his dick. God. Fuck.

Taking the skin of Jim's shoulder between his teeth, the Vulcan bit hard enough to earn a startled yell and began grinding his cock against Jim's bare buttocks, smearing thick lubrication into his skin. His hand around Jim's dick was unmoving, but the pressure was enough to drive Jim's crazy. 

The guy's slick cock was rubbing just against Jim's crack, but the sensations weren't unpleasant—just odd. It was like… like his asshole was connected to his dick, and every time the guy's cock rubbed against his crack, it made Jim's dick ache and throb with need. He'd known that people did this, but he'd never considered his ass an erogenous zone before. 

Before long, Jim found himself making small noises as the guy ground his cock against him. Jesus, it was fucking sickbut it felt amazing. He could feel the head of the Vulcan's cock catching on the rim of his hole with every thrust and fought the urge to press back. His hole was twitching, and he felt like he wanted… wantedsomething.

Growling, the Vulcan started rutting against his ass with more force, jabbing his cock harder and harder into Jim's crack. Jim instinctively clenched his asshole tight, but a few moments later, to his utter confusion, his muscles relaxed as if of their own volition until the next thrust hit true and the moist cock entered Jim's ass with one smooth stroke.

Jim's eyes widened and he cursed under his breath, bracing himself for the pain, but it never came. There was just the feeling of being stretched — and it was confusing as fuck. 

It should be impossible. Jim knew butt-sex should hurt like a bitch, much less butt-sex with no preparation, yet there really was no pain. Yeah, he'd noticed how much natural lubricant the Vulcan's cock produced, but it still should have hurt.

Jim just lay there, utterly bewildered, as the guy started moving in and out, small grunts leaving his lips. 

He was still hard and the fact that the guy was holding him like he was something precious—one hand around his dick, the other rubbing his belly—made it kind of strange for Jim to feel violated, even though he didn't think he'd given his consent. 

Or had he? He wasn't sure.  Jim wasn't sure if he was actively participating, but he didn't feel raped or anything. Actually, he could barely feel the dick in his ass. The lack of pain sort of made the experience surreal, and a part of him couldn't believe it was really happening. He was being butt-fucked by a feral alien.  Q was probably laughing his ass off somewhere. 

The Vulcan was fucking him in earnest now, his thrusts hard and fast, grunting and biting his neck and shoulders. Jim frowned, feeling…strange. It felt like his asshole's numbness was wearing off or something, and now he could really feel the cock moving in him. He wondered if there was some kind of anesthetic in the Vulcan's lubrication. It still didn't hurt; it stung a little, but it wasn't bad. Actually, it wasn't bad at all--

And Jim's eyes widened when he realized that he was starting to enjoy it, awaiting every thrust with anticipation instead of being grossed out. He scowled, feeling betrayed by his own body. It was sick. He was being fucked in the ass by a complete stranger, and he wasn't gay, dammit. George Kirk was gay, and Jim was nothing like George. He was straight. He didn't like taking it up his ass. He was not— 

Holy shit, what the hell was that

Growling, the Vulcan hit that spot again and Jim gasped, his ass squeezing around the dick. The guy bit his shoulder hard and began pounding into him harder, hitting that spot over and over, making Jim grunt and moan with each thrust. 

He didn't want to like it, but it was impossible not to like the feeling that spiked whenever the Vulcan nailed that spot inside him. His cock was leaking and throbbing, his balls were aching; Jim lost all nerves in his body to pleasure, and, unable to help himself, he bent his knee up, giving the guy a better angle to enter. 

Screw it – if he was being fucked, he could as well enjoy it.

Some part of Jim was freaking out—an alien was fucking him and he was loving it like a slut—but mostly, he was beyond the point of giving a damn. It didn't mean anything. He was seventeen and horny and there was nothing he could do about the situation. 

He was rapidly approaching orgasm when he felt fingers press to the side of his face. 

Push — and Jim's mind exploded with colors, emotions and thoughts that were not his own. There was no order to them, only chaos; Jim couldn't even tell what kind of emotions they were. Someone was there with him, pushing, searching for something, whispering words Jim couldn't quite catch, tugging, entwining their minds together until there was something bright and golden in him, in them.

Jim gasped, trying to sort out all the happenings, but his mind refused to work, because Spock — wait, Spock? — started thrusting in him again, and, for some reason, the sensations were twice as intense. God, it was--

Groaning, Jim rolled on his belly and pushed his ass back onto Spock's cock as Spock slammed into him again and again. Spock kept going and going until Jim felt like his brain was turning off, his body singing with pleasure and about ready to burst.

Finally, something like an electric current snapped taut between the two, ripping Jim's orgasm out of him with a long, drawn-out whimper, and he felt — fucking felt — Spock coming, too, shuddering against him.

Jim's eyelids grew heavy and he drifted off, completely sated – just like the Vulcan beside him.


~~*~~


When he opened his eyes, the sky was pink; it was already dawn. The Vulcan was lying next to him, deeply asleep. Jim watched him for awhile, confused, and a little hysteria beginning to creep back in. What the hell did happen last night? The butt-sex issue aside, which Jim absolutely refused to think about in any great detail, that thing Spock had done to his mind— 

Spock. Somehow, Jim knew that the Vulcan's name was Spock. He had no clue how, but he was sure of that. Jim was also pretty sure that Spock had done something to his mind, but he didn't think he felt any different—well, except for the obvious.

Jim winced, feeling the gross stickiness around his crotch and ass. He needed to clean up. His whole body was aching and now his butt kind of hurt, but Jim made himself move quietly as he got out of the bed. (The fact that there was a bed in the middle of this garden was also beginning to dawn on him as strange.)

Jim sighed, seeing the remnants of his clothes on the ground. 

Awesome. It wasn't enough that he would have to face the King when they found him here, which was inevitable, but it looked like he would have to face him naked. 

Jim slipped into his sneakers without bothering to tie them or pull up the backs over his heels and looked around the clearing, searching for anything he could use. His gaze lingered on something half-hidden under the shadows of the trees. 

He walked over to it, and, to his surprise, found a metal cupboard. Jim whistled quietly. This was officially the weirdest garden in the world. Who would put a bed and a cupboard in a garden?

There were clothes inside. Utterly bewildered, Jim picked up a shirt and a pair of pants. The clothes were clean, if a little dusty, as if they’d been there for a long time. Did they belong to Spock?

Jim frowned when something occurred to him. 'Spock' was the name of Amanda and Sarek's son. But Prince Spock was supposed to be in the Gamma Quadrant and certainly wasn't supposed to be wandering naked in the palace's garden and butt-fucking innocent servants. But it was too much of a coincidence, wasn't it?

Damn. Now that the mystery had taken hold, it was driving him crazy, but he didn't have the time for that now. First things first, he had to find water to clean up and get clothed—preferably before someone found him in the garden.

Jim threw a glance at Spock, who was still dead to the world, then went to explore, taking the clothes with him.

The garden turned out to be bigger than he'd thought, and it took him a few minutes of wandering before he found what he was looking for.

Before Jim lay a beautiful pool of deep blue water, the clearest that he had ever seen, encircled by ancient trees, their drooping branches dipping into the still water. The pool was full of giant water lilies and some other flowers he didn't recognize.

Grinning, Jim put the clothes on a stone and stepped into the pool. He sighed at the sensation of cool water on his flushed skin and started washing the dried come off his body. 

A few minutes later, Jim's head jerked up when he heard some sound in the distance. Climbing out of the water, he quickly put the clothes on and walked towards the sound. 

Jim stopped dead on his feet when he came across Sarek and Amanda walking down the familiar path.

"Jim?!" Amanda exclaimed, her eyes so wide that it would have been comical if Jim wasn't nervous as fuck. 

Jim forced a smile, darting a wary look at Sarek, who was frowning.

"Look, I can explain, really. I kinda got lost and—"

"Jim, you need to get out of the garden immediately!" Lady Amanda said urgently, looking around. "Sarek, lift the force field!"

Jim frowned. “What?”

Sarek stared at him with a strange expression on his face.

"How long have you been in the garden, Mr. Kirk? And why are you wearing my son's clothes?" 

So Spock really was their son. Huh.

Jim brushed a hand through his hair. "I've been here since midnight, I think."

Sarek and Amanda exchanged a look.

"And you weren't attacked?" Amanda said, still looking shocked.

Jim felt himself blush. "Er… not really."

Sarek's eyebrow disappeared into his hairline. "Where is my son, Mr. Kirk?"

"Um… sleeping?" Jim said with a sheepish smile.

"Sleeping?" Amanda repeated, frowning. "Spock almost never sleeps."

"Indeed," Sarek agreed, looking suspiciously at Jim. 

Jim raised his palms defensively. "Hey, stop looking at me like that! I didn't do anything to him!" As if he could, even if he wanted.

Sarek leveled him with a look. "In this case, please tell us, Mr. Kirk, how is that possible that you do not have a single scratch on you. Spock has attacked every single individual who crossed the force field, heavily injuring eight adult Vulcans. One of them is still comatose."

Jim's eyes widened. He couldn't really imagine that Spock was capable of doing something like that. Sure, he'd practically forced himself on Jim, but he hadn’t hurt him at all.

"Well," Jim said, licking his lips. "Sure, he did the growling thing at first, but then..." He trailed off, glancing at Amanda, and quickly looked back at Sarek, his face burning. The King simply stared at him for a few moments. 

"Mr. Kirk, are you saying that my son sexually assaulted you?"

Jim heard Amanda gasp. He quickly said, "No! Um, I mean, sort of. Technically, he did, but, um, it wasn't like that."

Sarek regarded him with a raised eyebrow. "Fascinating. Spock had never shown any inclination to sexually assault his visitors." 

"Sarek!" Amanda snapped, glaring at her husband, before turning to Jim and stretching her hand. "Come here, honey. Sarek, lift the force field."

Her husband performed some manipulations on the device in his hand. Jim made a few steps towards Amanda and was immediately pulled into her arms. 

"God, I'm so sorry, Jim," she whispered into his shoulder, her voice cracking. "I can't believe that my Spock, myboy, did something like that. But he's not himself. He is..." she trailed off, her breathing uneven.

Jim pulled away to look at her. Amanda's eyes were wet. "Ma'am, there's no need to apologize," he said softly. "He didn't hurt me, really." 

Amanda smiled at him through her tears. "God, I'm sorry. You're comforting me when it's you who needs comforting. It's just—it's hard. It's been eight months and it's—"

Jim smiled at her. "Ma'am, I'm okay, really."

"Amanda, I suggest you to take the boy to his room and explain the situation to him so that he does not spread gossip. If he needs medical attention, hail Healer Suvok. I shall check Spock's condition. Mr. Kirk, normally you would be punished for disregarding orders, but since you are an aggrieved party, you will be spared, this time."

Lady Amanda nodded, and taking Jim's arm, tugged him towards the exit. 

Ignoring the uneasiness in his gut, Jim followed, but couldn't help looking back. He felt strangely reluctant to go.

             

 ~~*~~
 


Jim sat cross-legged on his bed and looked inquiringly at Amanda. The woman seated herself on a chair.

"I don't even know where to start," she said with a wry smile. "And I'm sure Sarek wouldn't approve of me telling you this, but you deserve knowing, considering..."

Her face darkened. "Not many outworlders know that Vulcan males have a mating circle, called pon farr. Every seven years, an adult Vulcan must either take a mate, or die." 

Something in Jim's expression probably gave away what he was thinking because Amanda chuckled. "Yes, I know—it sounds crazy and ridiculous, but it's true."

"What does it have to do with Spock's condition?" Jim said, trying to ignore the strange uneasiness tugging at the pit of his stomach. 

Amanda ran a hand over her face. "Normally, it would have nothing to do with him. Spock is only twenty; not an adult, by Vulcan standards. He shouldn't have had his first heat until his mid-thirties, but eight months ago, Spock suddenly went into pon farr. We were able to determine that his pon farr was triggered by a certain compound banned in the Kingdom and we even have a suspect, but there's no proof."

She bit her lip before continuing. "While Spock's pon farr was very… inconvenient… we didn't think it would be a problem, because Spock had a bondmate. However, Spock rejected T'Rena, nearly killing her. We don't know why. Most of the healers who examined Spock think that the compound didn't react well with Spock's human blood, but they're not sure, because Spock is the first Vulcan-Human hybrid; for all we know, the same thing would have happened if it was Spock's natural pon farr. "

She shrugged. "Whatever the reason, Spock didn't mate during his pon farr, and while normally it would have led to his death, he didn't die either. His pon farr passed, but Spock was left in a feral state similar to plak tow, the blood fever. He doesn't recognize anyone and is driven by an uncontrollable urge to kill."

"Oh," Jim muttered. The weird uneasiness was becoming harder to ignore. "Why are you keeping him in the garden?"

Amanda looked down at her hands. "He destroyed all the rooms we put him in. He clearly doesn't like being in closed spaces, so we equipped the smaller garden for his needs and put him there. We give him food, but…"

Jim frowned. "Is there no cure?"

Amanda heaved a sigh, looking far too old for her years. "I don't know, Jim. We tried everything. We brought the best healers at our disposal, but to no avail. And it's hard to examine Spock's mind properly, because Spock has to be conscious for that, but he doesn't allow anyone to meld with him when he is conscious. He physically and mentally damaged the healers who tried it. In the end, we had to stun him, and T'Pau melded with Spock's unconscious mind. She said that Spock's mind was damaged; his familial bonds and his bond to T'Rena were broken."

Amanda looked up at Jim. "You probably don't understand the full meaning of that. For Vulcans, telepathic bonds are essential. Their minds are built around them. And all of Spock's telepathic bonds were broken at the same time. It damaged his mind so much that there’s no logic, no rational thought there anymore. T'Pau said that now he was no better than an animal, and would probably never be the same."

Jim chewed on his bottom lip. "Why are you keeping it a secret?" 

Amanda snorted humorlessly. "It's politics. Bad for the Kingdom — apparently, if we couldn't protect even the heir to the throne, everyone would think we’re weak. As far as the public is concerned, Spock is in the Gamma Quadrant."

Jim winced. He didn't doubt it was Sarek's idea to keep it quiet. 

Amanda's communicator beeped; she answered it. Her expression became worried. "You can't wake him up?"

Jim frowned.

"Oh," Amanda said. "Really? What's T'Pau's opinion?" She glanced at Jim. "All right, we'll be there in a few minutes."

She looked at Jim. "We have to go back. T'Pau wants to talk to you. They're waiting for us." She gave him a strained smile. "Jim, I understand that it must be hard for you to see Spock again after..."

Jim jumped off the bed. "No, it's not a problem. Really. Let's go." 



They reached the garden in record time. Jim frowned, realizing that there was no force field.

"Where's the force field?" he said as they walked down the familiar path.

"It's movable," Amanda replied. "Sarek probably moved it further so that he could see Spock."

When they reached the clearing, T'Pau and Sarek were standing next to the bed. Jim's attention was immediately drawn to Spock, who was lying on his back, still sound asleep and completely naked. Jim flushed and threw a glance at T'Pau and Amanda, but they didn't seem to be disturbed by Spock's nudity. Right — they were probably accustomed to that by now.

Sarek and T'Pau turned around and looked at him. Jim suppressed the urge to squirm under the force of their combined gazes. Instead, he squared his shoulders and gave them his best cocky smile. "Well? You wanted to see me?"

"Indeed," T'Pau said, leveling him with a stern look. "Tell us everything that happened last night."

Jim chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck. "Everything? Why?"

"We do not owe you any explanation, Mr. Kirk," Sarek snapped.

Jim shot him an annoyed look, once again wondering why such an awesome lady like Amanda would choose this arrogant ass for her husband.

"Spock is in a healing trance, and we wish to know why," T'Pau said, looking straight at Jim and pretty much ignoring Sarek.

Trance?

Jim darted a glance at Spock. To him, it looked like the Vulcan was just sleeping. Maybe his breathing really was barely noticeable, but he looked completely healthy with his long muscular body and that pretty cock of his—

Jim's eyes widened when he caught himself on that thought. What the fuck? He quickly averted his gaze. 

"I'm not sure what you want to know, ma'am," Jim said to T'Pau, trying to ignore his hard-on that was stretching his pants. Seriously?  "Spock attacked me, did this growling thing, then he kinda — er, sniffed me, and started doing a biting thing." Jim felt himself flush. "Then he sort of... carried me to the bed, and we..."

Jesus, this was awkward. How was he supposed to tell to Spock's parents and grandma — or whatever T'Pau was to Spock—that he had been butt-fucked by their son and grandson? 

T'Pau raised an eyebrow at him. "I presume you are attempting to tell us that you engaged in sexual intercourse with Spock. Sarek already informed me of that. Is that all, Mr. Kirk? Have you not noticed anything strange?"

Jim considered telling her that, for some weird reason, the butt-fucking hadn’t hurt — it was strange, after all — but then looked at T'Pau and decided against it. "Well, there was that mind joining thing, but other than that—"

"’Mind joining?’" T'Pau interrupted, her voice sharp.

"Yeah. He touched my face and then I felt him in my head — or I was in his head, I'm not sure — the details are kinda foggy—"

Sarek's blank mask cracked, his eyes flickering with some emotion. "Spock melded with you?"

Jim shrugged. "Look, I don't know how it's called. I'm not exactly an expert on Vulcan telepathy."

Sarek raised a hand and placed his fingers on his own face. "Did it look like that?"

Jim stared at his fingers. 

"Er, maybe?" he said, shrugging sheepishly. He was sort of...distracted when it had happened. 

Sarek gave him a look clearly indicating what he thought of Jim's intelligence.

"How would you describe what you experienced?" T'Pau said.

"I don't know, ma'am. It felt like… I was alone at first, then I wasn't. And I could feel what he felt and some of his thoughts — but it was kind of confusing — and then there was something golden in my mind, but I probably just imagined it—"

"Golden?" T'Pau snapped, her whole posture stiffening. 

"Yeah," Jim said, frowning.

Sarek looked at T'Pau. The matriarch's expression was pensive as she nodded to Sarek.

"What?" Jim asked, looking between them. "What did he do?"

T'Pau and Sarek both were silent, their faces inscrutable.

"Spock bonded them, right?" Amanda prompted, and Jim looked at her, open-mouthed.

"It appears so," T'Pau said evenly, "but I cannot be certain until I examine Kirk's mind."

Jim scowled. "Um, pardon me, but would you mind not messing around in my head? Spock was more than enough, thanks."

"Remember to whom you are speaking, Mr. Kirk," Sarek said coldly. "If T'Pau needs to examine your mind, she will do so."

Jim pursed his lips. "Fine," he said, glaring at Sarek before looking at T'Pau. "Do your thing."

T'Pau walked over to him and Jim was taken aback once again by how tiny she was—she always seemed so tall and imposing, but up close, she barely reached his chin.

"Kneel, James."

Jim sank to his knees before her, and she pressed her fingers to his face. 

It was nothing like the meld with Spock. T'Pau's touch was careful. Professional. Jim almost didn't feel her in his mind, and he couldn't pick up anything from her.

Only when T'Pau touched something deep within him did he recoil and pushed her away. She drew her hand back, breaking the meld.

"Fascinating," she said, giving Jim an assessing look. "Did you know you have an unusually high psi-rating for a human?"

Jim smiled a little, remembering Q. "I've heard it somewhere."

"Is there indeed a bond?" Sarek interrupted.

T'Pau inclined her head, her dark eyes sharp as she eyed Jim. 

"There is. It appears that Spock formed a marital bond with Mr. Kirk. From what I was able to see, their minds have a very strong compatibility. However, I am very surprised Spock was able to bond them without the help of a skilled mind adept, especially considering his own mind’s damaged state. It should have been impossible."

Jim's jaw went slack. A marital bond?

"How should we proceed, T'Pau?" Sarek said, throwing a disdainful look at Jim. "The situation is very unfortunate—"

"I disagree with you," T'Pau said with a strange glimmer in her eyes. "I think the situation is quite fortunate. It was unlikely that Spock would ever recover because he had no bonds to serve as his anchor, as his center, so that his mind could heal itself. I have pondered the possibility of bonding Spock to someone, but I did not think Spock would be able to form a bond, since he mentally attacked anyone who touched his mind. However, now he has a bond, and, from what I was able to see, it is anchoring him. It appears that Spock indeed fell into a healing trance to bring order to his damaged mind."

Amanda gasped, her lips curling into a shaky smile. "You mean, he'll be normal again?"

T'Pau inclined her head, her dark eyes on Jim. "I believe so. James should stay close to Spock. Their bond is unusually strong, but it is not settled yet, and it will be better for Spock — for both of them — if his mate is close. While normally, during the trance, a Vulcan's energy is focused on healing the damaged areas, there had not been a precedent of a newly bonded Vulcan falling into such a trance. It is possible that the Settling will wait until Spock is healed, but we cannot know it for certain; as such, James needs to stay with him."

Jim frowned. What was she talking about?

"Mr. Kirk is a servant of dubious background," Sarek said sharply. "We cannot allow Spock to stay bonded to him."

"I am aware of that, Sarek," T'Pau said coldly. "After Spock is healed and it is safe for his mind to break the bond, we shall break it and bond him to T'Rena again. Amanda, arrange for a meal and James's belongings to be brought to him. He will stay here with Spock until he is healed."

Amanda nodded, already pulling out her communicator.

Jim stared at them incredulously. "Hey, don't I have any say in this?" 

The Vulcans ignored him. Only Amanda threw at him an apologetic look, but her eyes were shining with hope.

Jim watched as they left the clearing, leaving him alone with Spock. 

He wanted to laugh. Jesus -- how did he always manage to get himself into these messes? Apparently, it wasn't enough that he was in a parallel universe, on an alien planet, and was a servant in the palace of the Royal House of Vulcan. Apparently, Jim had to get himself bonded to a feral Vulcan who was also the crown prince of the Vulcan Kingdom. 

On the bright side, it meant that it wasn't Jim's fault that he liked being fucked so much — obviously the bond had made him like it (he ignored the tiny voice in his mind that was whispering that he'd liked being fucked before Spock bonded them, too).

On the downside, he was bonded.

Still, Jim didn't worry too much. T'Pau had said that as soon as Spock was healed, they would break the bond, and Jim didn't doubt it for a moment. Maybe then, he could get some sense of normalcy in this strange, crazy world.

Chapter Text

Jim frowned at his PADD, looked up the unfamiliar words in a dictionary and re-read the paragraph. Huh, he thought, taking a bite from the blue fruit. If he understood it correctly, Vulcan penises should be retractable.

Jim looked to his left at Spock's semi-hard dick, which was anything but retractable. Either the book was wrong, or Spock was just special. Probably the latter, since he was half-human. 

Jim tore his gaze from Spock's cock, reminding himself that he was supposed to be studying the information Amanda had uploaded to his PADD, which was delivered to Jim with a basket of food, a pillow, and a change of clothes. 

He returned his eyes to the documents.

Soon, Jim learned a few more fascinating facts about Vulcan biology. Apparently Vulcan penises were self-lubricating — that part they got right, at least — and the lubrication contained a muscle relaxant, which worked like a mild anesthetic and allowed easy penetration without loss of sensation and therefore produced conditions ideal for relaxed and enjoyable intercourse. (Not that the article said anything about 'enjoyable'—it used lots of very logical and scientific words—but Jim could read between the lines.)

Jim closed the article and rubbed at his tired eyes. He put the PADD aside, and for lack of something better to do, stared at Spock. He had been in the garden for three hours already, and Spock remained motionless, not showing any signs of awakening.

In the daylight, Spock didn't look feral at all. He looked like a handsome guy with a good body and a big, pretty dick that was just asking— 

Jim groaned, running a hand over his face. What was wrong with him? His fixation on Spock's dick was downright weird. He felt awfully horny, and it couldn't be natural. It was probably the bond's doing. 

Jim looked down at his own hard-on. He probably should take care of it so that he would stop drooling over Spock's dick—not that he was drooling over Spock's dick or anything.

Jim snorted at himself. Yeah, right. He wasn't drooling over Spock's dick; he just didn't seem to be able to stop looking at and thinking about it.

Sighing, Jim started undressing. He felt a little odd stripping in daylight, but his skin was pretty sensitive and it wasn't like anyone could see him. Jim could walk around butt-naked if he wanted to, since the force field was taking most of the sun's radiation.

He settled back on the pillow, and wrapping a hand around his cock, closed his eyes. Listening to the sound of rustling leaves and of chirping birds coming from somewhere above, Jim started stroking himself, thinking about nothing in particular, just mindlessly jacking off.

Half an hour later, he started realizing that something was wrong. His level of arousal was building and building, and then… nothing. He'd tried everything, but it just was not enough. His dick and balls were aching terribly, but he just couldn't. Fucking. Come

Frustrated, Jim let go of his leaking cock and stared at it in confusion. He'd never had this problem. He was seventeen, for God's sake. It definitely wasn't normal. The only possible explanation was the stupid bond. T'Pau had said something about the ‘necessity’ of him staying close to Spock. Could that mean that he literally needed Spock, even when he wanted to get off? Jim really hoped not, but he was kind of beyond caring at this point and was willing to give it a try. His cock felt like it was about to burst; he'd never wanted to come so badly in his life. 

Jim took Spock's hand and wrapped it tightly around his cock. He hissed at the feeling. Shit, it felt amazing. Covering Spock's hand wrapped with his own, Jim fucked into it. It took only a few thrusts and he was coming.

After recovering from his orgasm, Jim blinked, realizing that he was hard again, his cock aching as if he hadn't come a minute ago. 

What the fuck? 

Utterly confused, Jim looked at his cock, then at Spock who—

Oh. Spock was hard, too. 

Staring at Spock's cock, Jim mused it over. Was it possible that he was feeling Spock's arousal? After all, Spock's fingers were very sensitive, and Jim had just used the Vulcan’s hand to jack him off. Was it possible that they could feel each other's feelings even when Spock was in his healing trance?

Tearing his gaze from Spock's dick and stoically ignoring his own hard-on, Jim reached for the PADD again and scrolled through files. He needed to do more research on this bond thing. 



~~*~~


Four hours later, Jim finally put the PADD down. He was still horny as hell, and hours of reading books and articles written in a foreign language only added to his frustration. At least, after this reading marathon, his grasp of Vulcan improved enormously.

Jim also had been able to find some somewhat useful information. Apparently, Vulcan marital bonds weren't that simple. There were three phases every bonded couple went though. The first one lasted from a few days to a week and was called the Settling. During that phase, the bondmates were very co-dependant on each other and were advised to stick together. It explained why Jim couldn't get off without Spock's help and felt uneasy being away from him. Although the article, being written by Vulcans for Vulcans, didn't say it straightforwardly, Jim got the impression that during this phase couples should have lots of sex and mind-melds.

The second phase usually lasted from two to three weeks and was called the Establishing. During this period, the couple didn't need to stay close to each other, and the urge to get into each other's pants was not as overwhelming (Thank fucking god; Jim didn't think he could handle being so horny all the time).

During this phase, the telepathic bond between the couple became stronger and more stable, allowing them to communicate with each other better. After the bond was completely established, the second phase ended and the third one started, which lasted for the rest of the life.

Jim sighed. It was very interesting and all, but what was he supposed to do when his bondmate was in the healing trance during the Settling? According to the article, they were supposed to have lots of sex and mind-melds for the Settling to end. What would happen if they didn't? Maybe the Settling just wouldn't end and Jim would die from a perpetual case of blue balls. This sounded like fun.

Jim heaved a sigh. The balls in question were aching for relief again, and he was so fucking sick of it. He'd had to stop twice during his research to jack off using Spock's hand, but it didn't help for long. 

Jim leaned back against his pillow and looked at Spock. He should be angry at him for pulling him into this mess, and yet he couldn't. The poor guy had a permanent hard-on, too, and unlike Jim, he couldn't even jack off.

Jim eyed Spock's face. He had to admit that if he were gay, he would totally want to get under Spock. For a dude, he was sort of gorgeous, ridiculously so. And goddammit, Jim was so turned on that he felt dizzy with want. His whole body felt like one big erogenous zone. 

Taking Spock's hand again, Jim rubbed it against his sensitive nipples before lifting the hand to his mouth. He slid two fingers inside; it felt good, almost like getting a blowjob. Jim knew he was feeling not his own but Spock's arousal and pleasure, but it was the same to him. He whirled his tongue around the long fingers, moaning at the feel, but it wasn't enough. It wasn't fucking enough. 

Jim could get off like that, but he could tell that it would leave him unsatisfied and horny. Releasing the fingers with a loud 'pop', Jim sat up. 

Spock's hard cock drew his eyes immediately. 

Maybe he had to deal with Spock's hard-on to get rid of his own. Maybe that was why he still felt so unsatisfied. Reaching down, Jim wrapped his fingers around it. It was very warm, silky to the touch. Tightening his grip, he moved his hand and let out a moan as a wave of pleasure hit him. 

Jim made a quick glance to Spock's face to double-check that he was still in his trance before looking back at the cock. 

Jim licked his lips. He could do anything he wanted. No one would see. No one would know. And the Vulcan was his own bondmate, right?

Jim leaned down and gave a lick to the tip of Spock's cock. The taste exploded on his tongue, sweet and strong, and the soft, velvety skin slid easily into his mouth. Jim let out a contented noise and took him deeper. God, he felt so fucking horny; he couldn't remember ever feeling like this.

Jim's lips felt numb, his jaw beginning to ache, but he just couldn't stop. He sucked and sucked until a strong wave of pleasure washed over him and Spock's come spurted into his mouth. Groaning around Spock's cock, Jim came, too, untouched, and dropped his head on Spock's belly, trying to catch his breath. 

For the first time since this morning, he felt relatively satisfied. There was still a low hum of arousal, but it was nothing compared to what he had felt before.

Jesus. Vulcan bonds were crazy.



~~*~~
 


Jim had sucked Spock off twice more before finally falling into an exhausted sleep, but he woke up in the middle of the night feeling so horny as if he hadn't come seven times the previous day. 

Cranky from the lack of sleep and cursing crazy Vulcans, Q, and Spock, Jim rolled over Spock, just wanting to deal with it and go back to sleep. Blowjobs worked for a longer period of time than handjobs, but two hours wasn't enough for him. He wanted to sleep, dammit.

Fuck it, Jim thought, not really caring anymore. It was the next logical step, after all. And no one was here to see it.

He straddled Spock's hips, and finding his cock, which was already hard and slick, positioned himself over it and slowly lowered himself, giving his body time to adjust. 

Jim let out a sigh, his inner muscles relaxing almost immediately. He closed his eyes, and concentrating on the pleasure Spock was feeling, started riding his dick, trying not to think about the fact that this time was more voluntary than the last.

After a little while, the numbness in his ass was gone and he got really into it, soft moans slipping his lips every time he sank onto the cock. Spock was panting mindlessly, eyes still closed, thrusting his hips up into Jim. He was sending so much pleasure through the bond that combined with Jim's own it felt like he—they—was—were—fucking dying.

Jim blacked out for a moment when Spock came. He managed to slide off Spock's dick, and falling onto the mattress, was dead to the world immediately.



~~*~~


The next day passed pretty much in same way. Jim read up on Vulcan bonds, had a snack, fucked himself on Spock's dick, went to the pool to wash the dried come off his body, cleaned Spock up with a cloth, had another snack, sucked Spock off, and read some more. (No one had come to visit them, confirming Jim's suspicions that those pointy-eared bastards fully knew what was happening here.)

Jim was beginning to wonder if he was supposed to feed Spock—he hadn't eaten or drunk anything for at least two days. Vulcans didn't need as much food and liquids as humans, but still. Also, Spock needed to piss, didn't he? Or not?

God, Vulcan anatomy was confusing, and a half-Vulcan's anatomy even more so. Jim reached for his PADD and sent an email to Amanda. After all, if he couldn't ask Spock's mom, then who could he ask?

Jim received a reply only a minute later, as though Amanda had been sitting next to her PADD in anticipation of news. (Which she might have been, actually. The thought made Jim feel guilty.) 

He opened her email, which was, thankfully, written in English. 

You are so thoughtful, Jim! 

There is a hypo with nutrients in the bottom of the basket. You know how to use it.

He doesn't need anything else. And Jim… Thank you so much, honey. 


Jim smiled a little before putting the PADD away and reaching for the basket. Finding the hypo on the bottom of it, he knelt next to Spock and gently tilted Spock’s head aside, feeling strangely awkward touching him like that.

Jim chuckled at himself. He'd had this guy's cock up his ass and mouth — numerous times — but couldn't touch his face? 

Very carefully — he wasn't very fond of this thing, himself — Jim pressed the hypo to Spock's neck gently. The injection finished, Jim put the hypo aside and straddled Spock's hips to deal with their respective erections. 


~~*~~
 


Sighing in frustration, Jim turned on his other side, facing Spock. He couldn’t sleep. He felt restless and uneasy, and he couldn't understand why. He felt... unsatisfied, which should be impossible, because his cock was completely spent after two mind-blowing orgasms. But he was alert and anxious, as if it wasn’t enough. 

Maybe it really wasn't.

Jim frowned, remembering what the article said about the Settling. While Jim covered the sex part, the mind-melding part was lacking — hence the uneasiness, probably.

Jim's frown deepened. He couldn't exactly meld them. He wasn't a Vulcan. The only solution that surfaced was to bring their bodies in contact. Vulcans were touch-telepaths. With any luck, it would be enough.

Jim moved closer to Spock and wrapped an arm around his waist, feeling somewhat awkward. Spock was very warm and smelled good — Vulcans didn’t sweat. 

Maybe it was just his imagination, but Jim felt a little better almost immediately, the huge knot in his gut dissolving. He shifted closer until he was pressed against Spock's side and sighed. Yeah, better. Definitely better.

Breathing deeply, Jim stared at the stars above him, his thoughts on the events that had brought him here. A small, wry smile tugged at his lips. It felt like it had been ages since he made a wish on a star. He got another life he wanted so much. The big question was: had it made him happy? 

Jim honestly didn't know the answer. It might sound awful, but he didn't miss his old life at all. He didn't miss his family. What was there to miss? In the past couple of years, Sam and his parents had become strangers to him and to each other.

But while Jim didn't miss his old life, he couldn't say that he was totally happy in this universe, either. He didn't feel like he belonged here. There was nothing that bound him to this world, just like there was nothing that had bound him to his own. 

Jim frowned, thinking about his future, wondering if T'Pau was right and Spock would wake up as a normal Vulcan, when it suddenly hit him that he really didn't know anything about Spock. He didn't know what Spock's personality was like — hell, he hadn't heard Spock utter a single word. He was practically married, even if only temporary, to a complete stranger, and this stranger could wake up any moment and find himself bonded to some servant.

Jim stared at the night sky for a long while in thought until he finally drifted to sleep. 


~~*~~

 


He woke up, feeling someone's gaze on him.

"Go away, Sam," Jim muttered, burying his face into the silky, warm pillow.

Huh?

Jim frowned. He didn't have a silky pillow. In fact, the pillow didn't feel much like a pillow at all. It was hard.

Jim cracked an eye open. His nose was pressed against someone's chest. He was lying on top of someone.

Jim's head jerked up as his sleepy brain finally processed this information. He found himself looking at Spock, who was very much awake and staring at him.

They eyed each other. 

It was the first time Jim saw Spock's eyes in the daylight. They're like melted chocolate, he thought, then wanted to laugh at himself. Really?

Spock had a slightly bewildered look on his face; he also had a hard-on pressing against Jim's stomach. Well, Jim could sympathize – he had a morning wood, too. 

He smiled awkwardly at him. "Hey. I'm Jim."

Spock frowned slightly. "I know," he said in English, his voice hoarse from lack of use.

Jim's mouth fell open in surprise. "You know me?" 

"I do. You have been with me for the past two-point-six days." 

Jim frowned. "Wait. Do you mean you were conscious all the time?"

Spock raised an eyebrow. "A Vulcan healing trance is not 'sleep.' I can hear and feel quite well."

Jim flushed, and heaving a groan, hid his face in Spock's chest. "Someone kill me now, please." 

Shit, Spock was aware of everything Jim had done to him.

"Why are you embarrassed?" Spock said quietly. "You did what you had to. If anyone should be ashamed, it should be me. I forced a bond on you. And I… It appears I also — forced myself on you."

Jim snorted into his chest. "I'm not a damsel in distress, Spock. You were hardly yourself, and I wasn't physically or psychologically harmed."

"But I—"

"Nope, I'm not discussing this," Jim said with finality, because it was awkward as hell to admit that, instead of feeling violated, he'd liked being fucked by a complete stranger. "So you remember everything?"

"I remember everything from the moment I bonded us," Spock replied, putting his hand on the small of Jim's back, tickling the patch of skin just above his pajama bottoms.

"So you don't remember anything from the time you were feral?" Jim said, trying to persuade himself to roll off Spock, but his traitorous body ignored his commands, hyper-aware of Spock's hand so close to his ass.

"I do not remember it, but I heard the conversation between my parents, T'Pau and you, so I am aware of the situation."  Spock's hand slid under Jim's pajamas bottoms, squeezing his bare buttock absently. Jim whimpered and Spock jerked his hand away.

"I apologize," he said stiffly. "It seems I cannot fully control myself yet."

Jim sighed. "Don't apologize. We’re still at the Settling phase, right? It's not like you can help it."

Spock was silent for a moment. "You do not mind me touching you in such a way?"

Jim snorted. "It's not like we can fight it. We need to have lots of sex. The more we do it, the sooner the Settling  will be over and they can break the bond."

"Your logic is…sound."

Jim smiled. "Yeah, I know. Now, put your hand back—" He didn't finish because Spock ripped his pajamas off and grabbed his ass with both of his hands.

"In that case, I wish to take you," Spock said, squeezing Jim's buttocks and rubbing a finger against his crack. Jim moaned. "Are you amenable to the suggestion?"

Jim chuckled. "Yup."

Spock rolled them over until Jim was pinned under him. 

He was staring at Jim like a starving man at a steak, two matched spots of green on his cheekbones. He leaned down and took Jim's nipple into his mouth, sucking on it hard. Jim gasped and dug his fingers onto Spock's back. 

"C'mon, fuck me."

"Yes," Spock hissed pushing a pillow under Jim's hips. Jim spread his legs, allowing Spock to settle comfortably between them. He sighed as Spock pushed into him in one smooth move, a huge wave of Spock's arousal and pleasure hitting him. 

"Oh fuck," Jim muttered, closing his eyes, and relaxed, letting Spock do all the work for a change. It felt good, really good - Spock's dick pleasantly stretching him and hitting that sweet spot.

Within moments, he felt Spock's fingers on his face, and then he wasn't alone in his mind anymore. Spock's mental presence was bright and warm, and something deep within Jim's mind answered, dragging Spock's presence around him until they were wrapped so tightly that Jim couldn't tell where Spock ended and he began.Jim knew that they were still fucking, but now he felt their pleasure building more with his mind than with his body, and the intensity was a little too much. 

When they came, it was like nothing he'd felt before. Jim's balls jerked and he clenched his body hard around Spock's dick, and god — god — his throat was raw but he couldn't even hear what noises he was making; his whole body narrowed down to the bright, sharp burst of bliss as his dick pulsed and smacked against his belly. Everything around them disappeared, leaving Jim clinging to Spock's presence as they rode out their orgasms together.

When Jim regained something like the ability to form coherent thoughts, Spock was still in him, even though his presence wasn't so overwhelming anymore.

'This was...wow,' Jim thought at him.

A deep sense of satisfaction with a hint of smugness. "Indeed," Spock agreed aloud. 

Jim opened his eyes and smiled lazily at him. "Is it always like that? So intense?"

Hesitation mixed with confusion. "I do not know."

Jim raised his eyebrows. "Weren't you bonded to some girl? T'Rena, I think?"

Spock propped himself on his elbows above him, dark eyes on Jim's mouth. "There are different types of bonds. My bond with T'Rena was preliminary, created when we were children. The bond between you and I is a marital bond that is usually created later in life. Therefore, this is my first experience with the Settling."

"Ah. Do you think it's over? The Settling? It's been almost three days."

"I do not believe so. I have a strong desire to take you again."

Jim smirked. "I can feel it. Round two?"

Spock stroked Jim's bottom lip with a thumb. "Indeed. May I kiss you? In the… Human way?"

Jim stared at him. Fucking a guy because he had no choice was one thing, but kissing a guy was completely another. They were not required to kiss.

"You do not wish to," Spock said, his face closing off. 

Jim licked his lips before chuckling. "Look, it's not you. I just… I've never been with a guy before you."

Spock frowned a little. Confusion.

"You mean normally you are not attracted to males. Am I correct?"

Jim nodded.

Shame. Guilt. Anger. Spock's cheeks flushed green. He looked away, a muscle in his jaw twitching. 

"I apologize. It must be unpleasant for you to engage in sexual intercourse with someone you do not find sexually appealing."

"Hey," Jim said, making Spock look at him. "Quit it, okay? It's not like you're disgusting to look at or something. Right now I'd rather have your cock in me than my cock in some chick. And it's not like we’re bonded for life, right? They are gonna break the bond soon." 

Something flickered in Spock's eyes as he nodded. 

Smiling at him, Jim put his hands on Spock's ass. "C'mon, then. Fuck me." He gave Spock a challenging smirk and squeezed his ass. "Or do you want me to do the fucking?"

Spock's eyes narrowed. "No."

Jim winked at him. "We'll see. Also, you owe me a few blow-jobs—" He frowned as Spock moved down his body and settled between's legs. "Hey, what are you doing?" 

"I have another idea," Spock said before leaning down and spreading Jim's ass cheeks.
Jim's eyes widened. "Wait, no— that’s not – Spock--"

"Why not?" Spock inquired.

The hot breath blew on his hole and Jim exhaled sharply. Then the tongue, the tip teasing, and more hot breath. Jim shivered.

"Stop it, come on—I don’t like it."

"Lying is illogical, Jim," Spock said, giving a long lick to his asshole. Jim gasped. Fuck.

"It's gross."

"It is not," Spock said hoarsely. His tongue darted in and Jim's hips bucked up. "I am enjoying giving you pleasure. Very much."

"I'm not—feeling—pleasure," Jim gasped out as Spock swiped his hole with the length of his tongue, licking, entering, torturing. He groaned, digging his fingers into Spock's shoulders, and pushed his ass against the tongue.

Smugness.

"Oh, fuck you."


~~*~~
 


By the evening, it was obvious that the Settling was over. Jim no longer felt like he wanted to jump on Spock's dick, and Spock finally seemed to be able to keep his hands off Jim's butt. 

After they cleaned themselves up in the pool and dressed, Jim sent a message to Amanda, informing her that Spock was awake and well. Jim had wanted to tell her sooner, but he didn't want to explain to her why her son wasn’t ready to see her yet. This way, it was less… embarrassing.

They were almost at the exit when Amanda burst into the garden, bearing an expression somewhere between smiling and crying. She stopped on her tracks, seeing Spock.

"Spock..." she whispered before laughing. "Spock!" The next thing Jim knew, Amanda was hugging the hell out of Spock, laughing and sobbing at the same time, kissing Spock's face like he was a small child.

Jim felt that it was making Spock pretty uncomfortable, his uneasiness increasing even more when Sarek entered the garden, but he accepted his mother's affection without the slightest hesitation.

Finally, Amanda pulled back, wiping her tears and laughing a bit. "I'm sorry, honey. I'm probably embarrassing you."

"You are not embarrassing me, Mother," Spock said, and Jim shot him an amused look.

I heard Vulcans didn't lie. I guess it's just an urban legend.

Spock's lips twitched a little. She is not embarrassing me—she is making me uncomfortable. Vulcans do not lie, Jim.

Then we're lucky you're only a half-Vulcan, huh? But right after saying it, Jim immediately felt that was the wrong thing to say. He looked from Spock to Sarek and thought, Oh.

"Son," Sarek said neutrally, looking bored out of his skull. "I am pleased that you have recovered."

Jim stared at Sarek incredulously. His son just returned to normal from being no better than an animal for eight months, but Sarek acted like he'd rather be somewhere else.

"Father," Spock said stiffly, his back so straight that it looked as though a metal rod had been placed in his spine. "I apologize for any inconvenience my illness might have caused."

Now Jim looked incredulously at Spock. How was it his fault that some fucker had given him that compound? Jim had his fair share of daddy and mommy issues, but they weren't that bad — at least, he hoped they weren't.

Amanda met his eyes and shook her head sadly. Clearly, it wasn't the first time she had to witness such a ridiculous behavior between the father and son. 

"All right, let's go, darling," she said to Spock, smiling at him with so much love on her face that Jim had to look away, swallowing the sudden lump in his throat. He didn't remember Winona ever looking at him like that — even before Dad left her for Chris Pike, his best friend, and she found out about Jim's role in the whole mess. 

"Indeed," Sarek agreed, turning to the exit. "T'Pau is waiting for us."

The conversation during the walk circled around Spock's physical and mental condition. Jim noted with amusement that Amanda was a constant buffer between Sarek and Spock. They barely talked to each other directly, instead using expressions like 'I was wondering if Spock/Father…'  It was absolutely ludicrous. It wasn't like they hated each other or anything — Jim didn't think so. It was more like they didn't quite know how to treat each other.

Cease analyzing my relationship with my father, Spock instructed, his mental voice hinting at amusement. 

Hey, are you eavesdropping on my thoughts or something? Because that’s kind of creepy.

I do not need to, Jim. Some of your thoughts are very… loud… and I cannot help but listen. However, you do not need to worry. I doubt this issue will arise again after I rebuild my mental shields during meditation. Right now my mind is relatively open and unguarded. You are able to feel some of my emotions, are you not?

Yeah. I can pick up some things. This telepathy thing is kind of cool, actually. What language are we communicating in? I can't tell.

It would be incorrect to say that we are using a language. The telepathy does not work like that.

Ah, Jim asnwered distractedly and followed Amanda, Sarek and Spock into T'Pau's living room. T'Pau stood up as they entered, and Jim felt his jaw drop as she smiled at Spock. It was a small, barely noticeable smile, but for T'Pau, it was practically a grin.

"Spock," she said evenly, and Spock imperceptibly straightened, lifting his hand into the ta'al.

"T'Pau," Spock said, his voice respectful, and Jim could feel that he held genuine affection for her.

"Come closer and kneel," T'Pau ordered, and though her voice was not exactly soft, it didn't have much of a hard edge to it either.

She looked at Jim. "James, you as well." Jim walked over and knelt beside Spock.

She reached for their meld points, and he closed his eyes. The meld lasted mere seconds. Jim opened his eyes and found T'Pau frowning down at them.

"Is something wrong?" Spock asked, getting to his feet and tugging Jim to his.

T'Pau shook her head slightly. "Negative. Your mind is fully healed, Spock. You only need to work on rebuilding your mental shields."

"Does this mean that we may break the bond at this time?" the King said, and Jim barely restrained himself from rolling his eyes. Seriously -- Sarek was like a dog with a bone. 

T'Pau gave him an icy look. "Sarek, Spock just recovered from a serious mental trauma. He should not endure another one so soon. While their bond has definitely settled, it is not established yet. It is not recommended to break a bond during its establishing."

Sarek’s face took on a look like a little boy who was being scolded by his mom. Take it, Jim thought smugly, and Spock shot him an amused look.

"An established bond is more difficult to break than a non-established one. Would it not cause a greater harm to Spock's mind?" Sarek said stiffly, clasping his hands behind his back.

T'Pau inclined her head. "A sound argument. However, James’s and Spock's bond is already very strong, much stronger than many established bonds I have seen. I doubt it is possible for it to become significantly stronger. Therefore, there is no need to hurry with breaking the bond now, while Spock's mind is still very vulnerable. We will restore his familial bonds first."

"I agree with T'Pau," Amanda said quickly. "Sarek, we can't risk Spock's health. What if breaking the bond so soon will cause Spock to lose his mind again?"

Sarek raised an eyebrow at her. "What if someone learns that Spock has a marital bond to a servant?"

Why are they talking about you as if you aren't here? Jim asked Spock.

I am a minor. By law, I have no saying in the matter.

Jim gave him an incredulous look. You're twenty, for god’s sake. You Vulcans are weird.

Spock touched the back of his hand slightly. I do not disagree with you, but this is the law, Jim.

Jim stroked Spock's fingers and watched in fascination as Spock's cheeks flushed green and pupils dilated. Cease doing this, Jim. It is an indecency.

Jim smiled slyly. Why? I know firsthand how much you’re enjoying it. I—

Jim turned his head, realizing the room was silent. Everyone was staring at them. Jim jerked his hand away, blushing furiously. God. They weren't required to fuck anymore, and yet here he was, petting Spock's most sensitive erogenous zone.

Sarek gave him a hard stare. "Mr. Kirk, you will keep yourself away from my son. Is that understood?" Jim nodded curtly, finally agreeing with Sarek on something.

T'Pau was giving them an assessing look. "Spock, James - were you communicating through the touch?"

Jim's eyebrows furrowed. "Yeah? But it's not like we need to touch for that."

"Pardon?" Sarek said sharply. "You are able to communicate without touching each other?"

Spock raised his eyebrow. "Is this unusual? I was under the impression that all bonded Vulcans had that ability."

"Indeed," T'Pau said slowly, looking between Jim and him, "all bonded Vulcans can communicate that way, and James is not a Vulcan. It took Sarek and Amanda seven years to be able to communicate through their bond, and they still cannot communicate without touching."

Jim raised his eyebrows. "Wow, really? I guess we're just quick learners."

Sarek's eyes narrowed and Jim chuckled. "Um, not that I'm saying that you're slow or anything. Your Highness."

T'Pau closed her eyes for a moment before turning to the King. "This only proves my point, Sarek. Their bond is already exceptionally strong, and so breaking it would harm Spock's mind greatly, no matter if we do it now or after the Establishing. Doing it now is not advisable for the reasons I have mentioned."

Sarek pursed his lips. "Very well," he said finally. "We will wait until the Establishing is completed. How long do you think it will take?"

T'Pau looked at Jim and Spock. "I believe… a week or two."

Sarek nodded and looked at them. "Keep away from each other. No one but us will know about the bond and the circumstances that led to its creation. Is that understood?"

Jim huffed out a sigh. "Yeah."

"Yes, Father."



~~*~~


By the time Jim dragged himself to his bed, it was already late and he felt so exhausted after the three-day-long sex marathon that he fell asleep immediately. 

Breakfast the next morning was very weird. Everyone at the table was completely silent; the only sound that could be heard were the forks, spoons and knives occasionally clanking against the plates and the pattern of everyone's chewing. Jim served breakfast in silence, trying to pretend that he had no clue that he was the center of everyone's attention.

T'Pau was watching him with an assessing expression; Amanda couldn't stop beaming at him; T'Pol had an amused gleam in her eyes, as if something funny was going on; the King shot him dark looks every minute or so. And then there was Spock, who kept glancing at him with those brown bedroom eyes of his, making Jim's insides quiver and his blood rush to his crotch, which made Jim want to bang his head against a wall. God, this bond. 

The most awkward part came when Jim moved to refill Spock's cup with tea. Everyone's eyes were on him in an instant as though they expected him to do something inappropriate -- which of course made Jim want to live up to their expectations, and that was the only reason why Jim brushed Spock's fingers when he handed his cup to him. He heard Spock's breathing hitch and felt a jolt of arousal through their bond. It almost made Jim drop the teapot. He hadn't expected it, because he couldn't feel Spock at all since last night – Spock probably had lifted his metal shields.

His face hot, Jim quickly stepped away from Spock, pretending that he couldn't feel Sarek's heavy, disapproving gaze on him.

"You may go, Mr. Kirk," Sarek said, his voice dry as a desert.

Jim fled.



~~*~~
 


PRINCE SPOCK HAS RETURNED FROM THE GAMMA QUADRANT

T'RENA OF THE THIRD HOUSE: 'NO, I HAVE NOT SEEN MY BONDMATE YET, BUT I SHALL DO SO IN THE NEAR FUTURE'

RUMORS ABOUT THE CROWN PRINCE'S ILLNESS FABRICATED; HE IS WELL AND BACK


Jim was skimming newspaper headlines displayed on the screen of his PADD when someone knocked on the door.

"Enter," he said, looking up from his PADD just as the door slid open, revealing Spock standing in the doorway with his hands clasped behind his back. 

Jim licked his lips, suddenly aware that he was lying on his belly wearing only a pair of blue boxers that were hanging a little too low on his hips. 

"Hey," he said with a small smile as Spock stepped inside. "Aren't you supposed to keep away from me?"

Spock stopped three feet away from the bed, his hands still clasped behind his back. 

"I wished to thank you for everything you have done for me," he said evenly, looking at Jim before quickly averting his gaze.

Jim shrugged with one shoulder. "It's not a big deal. And it's not like I had much choice, anyway."

Spock's jaw tightened. "That is why I am thanking you. What I did was… distasteful. You would be within your rights to press charges against me—"

"Spock, we already talked about it," Jim interrupted. "Quit this. It wasn't your fault."

Spock pursed his lips. "I know, but it does not change anything. Forcing a bond and forcing oneself on someone is unthinkable for a Vulcan."

Jim raised his eyebrows. "Hey, aren't Vulcans the same species who conquered the entire galaxy?"

"That was different. At the time, the circumstances were such that we had no choice but do it."

Jim waved his hand in a 'whatever' gesture. "Yeah, I've read about the war with Klingons." He cocked his head, eyeing at Spock curiously. "Couldn't you just apologize through the bond, though?"

"I did not wish to use the bond."

"Why?"

Spock looked vaguely uncomfortable. "Using the bond is somewhat… addictive."

Jim’s eyebrows shot up. "Addictive?"

"You have a very dynamic mind," Spock elaborated, as if it explained everything.

Jim raised his eyebrows even higher but, before he could ask, Spock said in a clipped tone, "Jim, your… shorts…"

Jim looked down, where his shorts had slid down several inches. He smirked, meeting Spock’s eyes. "Spock, are you ogling my ass?"

Spock's eyes flashed. "You will pull your shorts up. I insist." 

Jim cocked his head. "If you want it so much, you pull them up," he said, holding his gaze, then wanted to kick himself. Why was he flirting?

He chuckled, running a hand over his face. His cheeks felt hot. "God, forget what I said, okay? The bond is screwing me up." 

Their eyes met again, and Jim blushed harder. "Don't you feel horny, too?" he almost whined, feeling like an idiot all of a sudden. 

Spock averted his gaze for a moment before looking back at him. "I do. It is not a cause for worry, however. It is quite rare, but a marital bond may affect bondmates sexually during the Establishing as well."

Jim smiled, relieved. "Thank God. I started thinking I might be going crazy. I couldn't even jerk off this morning thinking about someone else."

"Someone else?" Spock repeated in a strange tone. 

Jim gave him an incredulous look. "What, are you jealous or something?" 

Spock pursed his lips briefly. "You are my mate. I cannot help such an emotion."

"Yeah?" Jim looked down before looking at Spock through his eyelashes. "Would it make you feel better if I told you that I could only get off thinking about you?"

Spock took a shaky breath in. "I must go," he said curtly. 

"All right. Go," Jim said, eyeing the big bulge underneath Spock's pants.

"Cease doing this."

Jim flushed and looked away, chuckling. "What? I'm not doing anything."

"Even when you are not doing anything, you are..." Spock's jaw worked. 

His gaze swept over Jim, warming his skin as it went. He looked away; looked back. His hands clenched and unclenched at his sides.

Their eyes locked. Jim's dick twitched happily. Spock made a step forward. "We should not."

"It's not really a big deal, right?" Jim said, licking his lips. "Maybe if we have sex, the itch will go away."

Spock stepped closer, but his mind seemed to be torn. 

His crotch was at the level of Jim's eyes, just a few inches away. Fuck. The next thing Jim knew, he was pressing his face against Spock's clothed groin and the prominent bulge, inhaling his scent, strong even through his pants.

"C'mon," he murmured, nuzzling Spock's cock through the fabric. "The bond is screwing us up. Not our faults."

Spock let out a breath through his teeth and buried his hands in Jim's hair. "Indeed."

Spock's hips hitched forward against his face as Jim pulled back slightly to work the fly on Spock's pants. When Jim finally wrenched Spock's pants open and slid his underwear down, the cock head smacked wetly against his cheek. Jim turned his head eagerly to catch it in his mouth. 

He sucked hard, loving the heat, the weight, the sweetness of it, and trying not to dwell on it too much. The bond clearly had even more power than he’d thought. 

All of this craziness would be over soon.



~~*~~



"What are you doing?" Spock asked much later, trailing his fingers lightly over his back. Jim squirmed a little. 

"Hey, it tickles," he said, his nose still buried in his PADD. He bit the end of his stylus. "I'm studying Vulcan."

He felt Spock's surprise through the bond. "Vulcan is a very difficult language for Humans to learn. Are you not satisfied with your translator?" He kissed the back of Jim's neck, taking little nips and licks as well.

"Nope. It does its job quite well, but I don't understand many of the nuances. And I want to be able to read and write in it, too."

Amazement

Jim smiled, noting that Spock seemed to let his emotions filter through his mental shields after sex.

"You are learning the language on your own," Spock said slowly.

"Uh-huh," Jim murmured distractedly, frowning at an unfamiliar word. He clicked through definitions in his dictionary. "I can read pretty well already, but my Vulcan is still pretty mediocre. My vocabulary is around five thousand words, and it's not nearly enough."

Spock was quiet for a few moments. "Jim, how long have you been studying Vulcan?"

"Since I got into your house — so for a little over two weeks." 

"You have learned five thousand Vulcan words in two weeks." Spock's voice sounded strange again.

Jim turned his head to him. "What?"

Spock was looking at him like he was something fascinating. "It is… extraordinary." 

Jim felt his cheeks heat up and looked back to his PADD. "I'm just a freak," he said, shrugging with one shoulder. "Everyone always said so."  He was in the fifth grade when his teachers and other kids started giving him weird looks; Jim discovered that it was better to pretend to be dumber than he was, but even his worst was better than many people's best.

"What is your GIF score?" 

"Huh?"

"General Intelligence Factor. Were you not tested in your childhood?" Spock said, a note of surprise creeping into his voice. When Jim just shook his head, he felt Spock's surprise increase. "How is that possible? Every citizen of the Kingdom is tested in childhood, and intellectually gifted ones are given the opportunity to receive the best education on Vulcan."

Jim frowned and looked at Spock. "Hasn't anyone told you? I thought you knew. I thought your parents or T'Pau told you about me."

Spock's eyebrow furrowed. "I have not had many opportunities to speak with them. Yesterday, I was meditating, working on rebuilding my mental shields. This morning, I spent learning everything of importance that has transpired in the past eight-point-six-three months. What am I supposed to know about you?"

Sighing, Jim rolled onto his back so that he could see Spock better. Propping himself on his elbow, Spock looked down at him. 

Jim thought for a few moments before saying, "Meld us." It would be easier just to show him.

Spock raised an eyebrow, but complied without a word, pressing his fingers to Jim's face. 

Push - and Spock's familiar presence filled his mind.

I'll start from the beginning, Jim told Spock, then concentrated and showed him — Iowa, Winona, Mark, Christmas Eve, Q, the desert. At first he held back, giving Spock just bare facts, but Spock was genuinely fascinated by his old life. Spock's curiosity didn't feel annoying or intruding to him, and before long, Jim found himself telling him everything.

He told Spock about the night he'd come home early from school to find his dad kissing his best friend in the kitchen; about his confusion, anger, bordering on hatred, and endless whys. When Jim confronted his dad, George, who looked as confused and shaken as Jim, promised him that it wouldn't happen again, that it was a mistake, and Jim believed him. How couldn't he, when it was his dad, his hero, who could do no wrong?

Jim didn't tell his mom — didn't tell anyone. He still believed George's promises — wanted to believe – when he came across them kissing the second, third, and fourth times. But one day, many months later, when he returned home and found Dad in bed with Chris, having sex, Jim couldn't deny it to himself anymore. Dad and Chris weren't just a one-time-thing; they weren't a fucking 'mistake.' George had cried — honest-to-god cried — when Jim confronted him later.

That was the end of his childhood. George Kirk was no hero; he was just a man. Jim wanted to hate Dad, and in a way, he did—for ruining their family and his life—but all his anger was drained from him when George whispered, his voice broken, 'I love him, Jim.' A tiny, childish part of Jim wanted to shout at him about why couldn't he just love his mom, but he was old enough to know that love didn't work like that.

Jim told Spock about how mad his mom was with him when she found out that Jim had known about Dad and Chris for months. Winona accused him of being Dad's 'partner in crime,' of keeping silent because he didn't give a damn about her and her feelings. The way she looked at him that night, with hatred and betrayal burning in her eyes, made Jim realize that that was it

Rationally, Jim understood that he was merely an outlet for her anger, but it didn't change the fact that his own mom hated him. It probably didn't help that Jim was a spitting image of her now-ex-husband. Sometimes, Jim thought that she hated him more than she hated Chris and Dad, which was fucking unfair.

Jim knew Dad felt guilty because of this and had tried to convince her that it wasn't Jim's fault, but it only infuriated her more. How ironic it was that his mom didn't want to be around him because of her misplaced hate, and his dad didn't want to be around him because of his guilt.

Now, three years later, they were nothing more than strangers.

When Jim finished, Spock didn't say anything for a long while before Jim felt it—an incredibly warm presence at the back of his mind that wrapped around him like a soft blanket, sending warmth and reassurance.

Jim closed his eyes, his whole body relaxing. It felt… nice. 

You don't need to comfort me, you know. I'm a big boy and I'm not gonna cry because my parents are happier when they don't have to look at me.

Indeed, I do not need to; I — I wish to.


Jim found himself smiling, feeling ridiculously warm and good. He said nothing, and they fell into a companionable silence, their minds wrapped together tightly.

Jim had no idea how much time had passed when Spock gently withdrew, breaking the meld. He opened his eyes, and they looked at each other. It was weird, but Spock looked different to him, as if something had changed between them.

Spock's gaze moved to the medallion resting on Jim's bare chest. 

"So this…" he said quietly, touching it.

"Yeah."

Spock stared at the medallion for a few moments. "Do you intend to return to your own universe?" 

Jim shrugged a little. "I don't know yet. If I have a good reason to leave, I guess." He chuckled. "A reason that would be good enough for Q."

Spock just regarded him with solemn eyes and said nothing.

Jim smiled crookedly. "Aren't you gonna ask if I miss my family or chide me for making them worry? Your mom used to give me this talk every day. At least now she's too happy to have her little boy back" — Jim smirked as Spock narrowed his eyes — "to remember it."

"I trust your judgment."

"Yeah?"

"Yes," Spock said, leaning down slightly to nuzzle Jim's cheek. Sighing, Jim put a hand on the back of his neck, stroking the hot skin and silky hair. He closed his eyes, feeling more content than ever. 

"Am I correct in understanding," Spock said into his cheek after a while, "that you do not have any identification documents?"

"Yup. Legally, I don't exist."

"And you have no citizenship, and no education?"

"Nope."

Spock pressed an open-mouthed kiss on his cheek, then another one. "If you are to stay in this universe, you will need identification documents. I will speak to my father." 

Spock was right. Having an ID would make his life much easier.

"Thanks, but I don't think he'll help. Your dad hates me."

"I will try," Spock said, rolling on his back and pulling Jim on top of him, and it was the last coherent thing either of them said for some time.

Chapter Text

 

The itch had not gone away. If anything, it only became worse. It was unhealthy as hell to want to be fucked twice a day, but it wasn't what worried Jim most.

He was beginning to understand what Spock had meant by 'becoming addicted' to one's mind. Jim adored feeling Spock in him, and to be honest, it was starting to really scare him. 

There was something addictive in using the bond. 

Jim liked — loved — feeling Spock's warm mental presence in the back of his mind, where he could reach for him any moment. He loved sleeping while wrapped in Spock's mind and waking up in it. It felt companionable, and good, to have someone he genuinely liked with him all the time.

Jim had found himself telling Spock things he'd never spoken with anyone before, and he liked that Spock didn't hold back, sharing with him some pretty private things. Spock even told him classified stuff, like the time when Jim had asked if they found out who had given Spock that compound. 

Apparently, they suspected Stonn, the heir of the Second House, but there was no proof. Spock and Stonn were childhood rivals, and Spock had been going to leave for the biggest scientific symposium in the Kingdom as the top graduating student from the Vulcan Science Academy when he conveniently went into an artificial pon farr. Since Stonn was the second candidate, he went instead of Spock.

You really think it's him? Jim had asked Spock skeptically. Does he hate you so much that he is capable of that kind of thing?

He does. I also doubt he knew that the compound would damage my mind. He probably only wanted me to be indisposed during the symposium so that he could attend it instead of me. And he was one of very few students who could add the compound in my food unnoticed, Spock had told him.

But it wasn't like they talked only about deep, serious stuff. Most of the time, they talked about random, silly things, like whether Jim should put sugar into Sarek's soup just for the fun of it (the answer was a firm “no”), or Jim bothering Spock with questions full of innuendoes while Spock was busy doing his princely duties ("No, Jim, I do not need my sword polished at the moment. In fact, I do not own a sword"). In a way, Jim felt like Spock was the friend he'd never had -- a person he could confide in, someone who provided steady, uncritical acceptance of everything.

And it scared him. 

They were not “friends” - Spock was the fucking crown prince, and Jim was a nobody. As soon as the bond was broken, he would be nothing for Spock. The bond was just screwing up with his perspective, creating an illusion of closeness. They were not friends, damn it. 

He had to remember that.

~~*~~
 


Exactly a week after the end of the Settling, T'Pau declared that the bond was established and Spock's mind was as strong as ever. The breaking would be done tomorrow, and Spock would be bonded to T'Rena in ten days.

Jim returned to his room with mixed feelings. Sure, he was happy that he would be free, and yet… 

Why are you not happy?

Jim almost dropped his PADD. Spock rarely initiated a conversation with him when they weren't in the same room.

I'm happy, he replied, flopping down on his bed. It's just… weird, isn't it? Tomorrow, we won't be able to talk anymore. In our minds, I mean. That was sort of fun, wasn't it?

Indeed.

Jim bit his lip. You're upset.

I am not.

Stop bullshitting me - I can feel you, remember? Actually, the fact that I can feel your emotions at all tells a lot.

While Spock didn't block the thought transference, he usually guarded his emotions carefully, letting his guard slip only when he was experiencing strong emotions, or during sex.

He felt Spock sigh. He didn’t say anything for a long while, so Jim had to make a guess. Is it about that T'Rena girl?

Partially.

What's the problem? I thought she was your childhood sweetheart.

T'Rena is not my "childhood sweetheart." We are not… well-aquainted.

Still, you were bonded to her for years. How could you not know her? We've been bonded for a little over a week and I feel like I know you pretty well.

I have already told you that my bond to T'Rena was preliminary; it was nothing like our bond. I could scarcely feel her.

Jim sighed. Are they gonna redo your preliminary bond, or are they gonna create a marital bond between you two?

T'Pau is inclined to a preliminary bond, but the Third House is insisting on a marital bond, because they are concerned for T'Rena's well-being.

Jim frowned. Why? What do you mean?

There are… concerns about my future pon farr. Healers still are not certain that what occurred was entirely the fault of the compound and not of my genetic make-up. I am the first Vulcan-Human hybrid who had pon farr, and it is possible that it was the pon farr that caused my bonds to break, not the compound. Perhaps because of my human blood, my bonds were not strong enough to withhold the stress of pon farr. If it is true, a simple preliminary bond to T'Rena will not be sufficient, and I might harm her during the plak tow. The Third House is insisting that it will be safer to create a marital bond now, although a marital bond is typically created when a male shows signs of going into pon farr. They do not wish to risk me attacking T'Rena again.

Jim swallowed. Oh. So you think they're going to make you marry T'Rena?

Affirmative, Spock said, his mental voice subdued.

Jim bit his lip. I'm sorry. It sucks to have no say in your own future. That's why I'm… glad our bond is going to be broken. I want to make my own choices, create my destiny myself, you know?

Sadness. Anger. Longing.

Hey. Jim reached deeper through the bond to Spock and touched him gently. Spock's mental presence wrapped around him immediately, pulling him deeper, tighter, bathing Jim's mind in warmth. 

I'm gonna miss you, I think. You weren't the worst bondmate ever.

Amusement. Sadness. Was that meant to be a compliment, Jim?

Yep. You don't suck too much.

You are not “half bad” yourself.


Jim smiled half-heartedly. 

They fell silent for a while, Jim staring at the ceiling. 

Spock? Jim called finally. 

Yes?

Will we still talk? I mean, you are the crown prince, and I'm a servant.


Spock didn't answer immediately. I—

Fuck, someone's knocking. Gotta go. Um…See you later?

I… I do not think so. I will be in a deep meditation all night to ensure that my mind is prepared for the stress.

…Oh. All right. 
Jim hoped Spock wouldn't pick up on his disappointment. Will I go through the stress?

You will, but you are not a telepath. The breaking would be easier for you, since you are not supposed to have any bonds by nature.

I— okay then, then. See you tomorrow?


For a moment, Jim had the impression that Spock wanted to tell him something, but seemed to change his mind and simply replied, Yes.

Jim sighed as he felt Spock's presence draw away from him, and sitting up, ordered the computer to open the door.

It was Amanda. "Ma'am?" Jim said, surprised. "Please, come on in."

Walking over, she sat next to him on the bed and pulled him into a big hug. Jim blinked before awkwardly hugging her back.

"I just wanted to thank you again, honey," Amanda said, squeezing him hard in her arms.

Jim shrugged awkwardly in her arms. "It's not a big deal. Really." 

She pulled back, smiling at him brightly, her brown eyes soft. "It is a big deal, Jim. You gave me my son back. Maybe it sounds awful, considering…” She sighed. “But when I offered you to stay here, it was the best decision I've ever made." She frowned a little. "I wish there was a way to thank you properly. If you need—"

"No," Jim said firmly. "No money. With all due respect, I'm not exactly penniless, ma'am - you gave me a job, and the salary is more than enough for me, considering that I don't exactly have anything to spend it on. We're in the middle of nowhere."

Amanda squeezed his hand. "Actually, that’s another thing I wanted to talk about with you. I don't think the country life is very exciting for a seventeen-year-old boy. Don't you want to see Shi’Kahr?"

Jim let a laugh. "Ma’am, I wouldn't call my life unexciting."

She chuckled. "Yes, but you probably want to see more of this world before returning to your home?"

Jim winced. He hated when Amanda raised this subject. He knew that it wasn't because she wanted to get rid of him, or anything — she was just under the false impression that Winona loved him to death. Really, Jim felt envious of Spock for having a mom who couldn't understand how it was possible for any mother not to care about her child.

"I don't know, ma'am. I've lived my whole life in the country, so I'm not sure a big city is my thing."
That wasn’t strictly true - he did want to see ShiKahr and other places; hell, other planets. But right now, the thought of being away from the comforting familiarity of the palace was kind of scary. 

Stop lying to yourself, damn it. All right, it was mostly Spock who he didn't want to be away from, and even though Jim fully knew that it was the bond's doing, right now, the thought of leaving the palace — leaving Spock — made him sick in the stomach.

He smiled faintly. "To be honest, I'm not very comfortable discussing it now, ma'am. Maybe after they break the bond…"

The understanding appeared on Amanda's face. "Oh. Yes," she said with an awkward laugh. "I tend to forget that you two are bonded. It's just…" She blushed a little. "It's strange, you know? To think that my boy is mature enough to have a marital bond and— well." She flushed even harder. "You're both underage."

Now Jim was blushing. "Uh, well, Spock is gonna be twenty-one in a few months, and I'm gonna be eighteen soon, too. We're not exactly kids."

"I know, but…" She shook her head, smiling. "Not now; we'll talk about your future later. I just wanted to tell you that if you need something — anything — you may always come to me."

Jim shook his head. "Thanks, but I can't accept it, ma'am. It’d feel like I was paid for being Spock's bondmate, which is… not cool."

Amanda eyed him for a few moments before squeezing his hand again. "Don't take this the wrong way, but we're all lucky that it was you and not someone else. You're a wonderful young man, Jim. Everyone's grateful to you, even Sarek. He might not show it, but he is happy to have Spock back." 

Jim gave her an incredulous look. Amanda laughed a little. "Jim, he's my bondmate. I know how he feels."

Jim thought about Spock, and had to agree. 

She rose. "Now, get some sleep, honey. You look tired and you’ll have a stressful day tomorrow."

Smiling, Jim plopped down on his back and closed his eyes. "Already sleeping."

She leaned down and kissed him on the forehead. "Good night, dear."

Jim swallowed around the sudden lump in his throat. "Good night." 


~~*~~
 


Jim felt like throwing up as he watched T'Pau light candles. He’d hardly slept last night, feeling anxious and uneasy no matter how hard he tried to persuade himself that he was excited about the breaking. And he was excited about the breaking. Really. Rationally, Jim was delighted that the bond would be broken in a few minutes, but he felt nauseous, as though T'Pau was going to cut his arm off. 

He reached for Spock through the bond and clung to him, basking in his reassuring presence. Jim felt Spock's mental sigh as he wrapped his mind around Jim's like a blanket.

Do not be so anxious.

Jim looked at Spock incredulously. The half-Vulcan’s face was as blank as ever. Pot, kettle, much? You're as anxious as I am, if not more.

I am not anxious.

You could've fooled me.

I am reasonably concerned. I have been told that the breaking is... unpleasant.


Jim licked his lips. Is it gonna hurt?

T'Pau is the best mind adept in the Kingdom. You will most likely only experience mild headaches for several hours.

What about you? Jim pressed.

It will be more trying for me, but it should not damage my mind. As you know, T'Pau already recreated my familial bonds. Those bonds should help—

"Kneel," T'Pau told them, and they pulled their minds apart and knelt before her. His hands sweating and his stomach in knots, Jim watched her fingers reach for their faces. 

Push
.

It was nothing like the other times she touched his mind. Her mental presence was relentless as she pushed andpushed until she reached the bond in the back of his mind. Jim recoiled instinctively, shoving her away.

James, do not resist, T'Pau snapped.

With an incredible force of will, Jim made himself relax and let her touch the bond. He braced himself as she tugged at the bond tentatively, checking its strength. She tugged harder; Jim flinched, but made himself stay still. 

Spock, clear your mind and block the bond as best you can.

Slowly, Spock started pulling away, taking with him every bit of his presence from Jim's mind. Jim badly wanted to pull him back or go after him, away from T'Pau, but her grip was like iron. 

James, I need you to concentrate on the bond.

Jim concentrated hard until he could clearly see it in his mind—a thick golden link between them.

Done.

Now, tug at it.

What? I thought you'd be the one who'd do it!

I will only guide you and protect your mind from harm. The breaking can only be initiated by one of the mates. I will participate later, when the bond becomes weaker.

But why me? Why not Spock?

It would be more difficult for him. He has a certain… attachment to you, because the bond is affecting him.

Hey, it's affecting me, too!

Yes; however, you are not a telepath. The bond influences you less than him.


Jim looked at the bond again. It seemed almost alive, glistening with a thousand shades of gold.

How am I supposed to do it?

Simply imagine taking it in your hand and tugging. Do not be afraid of pain — I will block it from your mind.

What about Spock?

He is quite capable of defending his mind. His mental shields are strong
.

Jim reached mentally and took the bond in his hand. He hesitated, staring at it.

Do it, James.

It’s…beautiful
, he whispered, and for the first time felt some emotion coming from T'Pau. Was it… sadness?

That is of no relevance. You have to break it, James. Now.

Jim tugged at the bond tentatively. Nothing happened. He tugged harder. Still nothing. 

I can't break it.

You can
, T'Pau said firmly.

I'm trying - It doesn't work!

The key is to wish it truly. You simply do not wish to do it.

Hey, I do, really!

Then try harder, James. You need determination, but, most importantly, you must truly want it.

Thinking determinedly of his freedom, Jim tugged hard, willing the bond to break, and instantly felt like throwing up. The thick, healthy bond became dimmer and thinner.

Very well. Again, T'Pau instructed him.

Jim collected all his will and tugged again, ignoring his throbbing head. He could have sworn that the bond cried in pain as it became even weaker.

Admirable, T'Pau said. You may cease concentrating on the bond. I shall do the rest.

Relieved, Jim pulled away from the bond, concentrating instead on not throwing up as T'Pau took the weakened bond and tugged. Despite T'Pau's promise, it hurt like a motherfucker, and Jim felt tears streaming down his cheeks as T'Pau started tearing the bond apart.

The final jerk—and an unbearable pain exploded in his head. Jim threw up and blacked out.



~~*~~
 


He woke up feeling like someone had taken a mallet to his temple. Groaning, Jim cracked his eyes open. He was in his room, and Amanda was sitting in the chair next to his bed.

"Thank God," she said, relief written all over her face. "I was beginning to worry. How are you feeling? Do you need anything? Water, maybe? Painkillers?"

Jim frowned. He did feel like he needed something — needed it badly — but couldn't figure out what.

"Painkillers," he muttered. Getting rid of the headache seemed like a good start.

Amanda took a hypo from the nightstand and carefully injected the contents into his neck. Jim heaved a relieved sigh and dragged himself into a sitting position. 

"How long have I been out?" he said, rubbing at his eyes. He felt odd, disoriented and… incomplete.

"Nine hours. It's evening already."

Jim looked up at her. "How's Spock?"

Amanda smiled slightly. "He is well. He entered into a brief healing trance, but he's already awake. T'Pau said the bond is successfully broken."

Jim blinked. Right. The bond. It was gone.

Experimentally, he reached for Spock, but there was nothing, just an empty space. It was… weird. His own mind seemed weird to him. How fucked up was that?

It’ll pass, Jim told himself, feeling hollow. Like a… pulled tooth.

Amanda pulled out a communicator. "What do you want to eat, honey?"

Jim shook his head. "Thanks, but I'm not hungry, ma'am."

She frowned. "Jim, you threw up your breakfast. You haven't eaten almost anything today."

Jim forced a smile. "I'm fine, really. I just don't feel like eating right now. I'll have a snack later."

Amanda didn't look entirely convinced, but didn't argue. "Get some rest, then." She stood up and kissed him on the forehead before leaving the room.

As soon as the door slid shut behind her, Jim sank back onto his pillow and stared at the ceiling. He would be glad to say that he felt shitty, but he didn't. He just couldn't feel a thing, and it bugged him like hell. God, it was ridiculous; he had been alone in his mind for almost eighteen years. 

Jim couldn't help himself – he reached for Spock again. Nothing. 

Groaning in frustration, he turned on his belly and buried his face in his pillow.

~~*~~
 


Later that evening, his growling stomach made him go downstairs for a snack. The kitchen was empty — well, there was a cleaning robot, but, in the month he'd lived in the palace, Jim had gotten used to them to the point that he hardly noticed them. He snorted, remembering his fascination with them when he'd found out that there were sixty serving in the palace, and that Vulcans had very few live servants. 

Jim heated up a bowl of bertakk soup and seated himself at the table. When he was halfway through the bowl, he heard footsteps and looked up. 

Spock froze in the doorway, staring at him. 

Jim stared back.

"Hey," he ventured, after a few moments.

"Jim," Spock greeted him, finally stepping into the kitchen. He made his way over to the fridge and poured himself a glass of kasa juice. "Are you well?" he said evenly, looking over the rim of his glass. 

Jim shrugged, hoping it looked casual. For whatever reason, he felt nervous as hell, as if he was talking to a complete stranger he needed to impress. "Yeah. You?"

Spock put the glass down and eyed him with an expression Jim couldn't quite place. It was weirding Jim out. He didn't like not knowing what Spock was thinking and feeling.

"I am also well. T'Pau examined my mind and informed me that I can easily handle being bonded again. She will recreate a preliminary bond between T'Rena and I in nine days." He paused. "A marital bonding ceremony will be held three weeks after that." 

Jim wasn't sure what to say and looked down at his bowl. A heavy silence fell upon the kitchen.

Biting his lip, Jim looked at the fridge, then back at Spock. How was he supposed to talk to the guy he'd fucked and shared his mind with for ten days? 

"Awkward," Jim said with a weak smile.

Spock's lips twitched. "Indeed."

They stared at each other. Jim wet his lips; Spock's eyes darted to them before he quickly averted his gaze.

Jim cleared his throat, frantically trying to come up with some neutral topic to discuss. His gaze lingered on Spock's hair. "Why don't you have the traditional Vulcan bowl-cut?" While Spock's hair was shorter than before, it definitely was much more stylish than those god-awful bowl cuts. It suited him. He looked… not bad.

Spock raised an eyebrow. "Jim, there is no such thing as the ‘traditional Vulcan bowl-cut.’ Most Vulcans simply favor it because it is practical."

"Ah," Jim said, wiping his mouth with a napkin. He stood up, glanced at the door before looking at Spock. "I guess I'll go back to my room—"

Jim froze as Spock stepped to him—stepped closer until they were almost touching. Jim wiped his sweaty palms off his jeans. "Um, what are you doing?"

A strange, almost desperate expression crossed Spock's face as he put his hands on Jim's waist. "I do not know," he whispered into Jim's ear before biting behind it. Jim shivered.

"Spock, no— We shouldn't—" he tried, but his traitorous body was already pressing against Spock, a pulse beating in his dick. 

"I need you," Spock said, his voice cracking, and began pressing soft kisses to Jim's jaw line. "Jim."

Jim tried to tell himself to get a grip, to push Spock away — they weren't bonded anymore; there was no reason for Jim to be feeling like this — but he just couldn't fucking do it. Instead, Jim turned his head and crushed his mouth against Spock's, letting go of all the reasons why this should not happen.

The kiss was awkward, because he was too desperate to care about finesse. Spock made a small sound and kissed Jim back hard, pulling him closer, his hot hands sliding under Jim's shirt. They nipped at each other's mouths hungrily, tongues entwined, hands everywhere, groping, squeezing, pulling at clothing; their groans echoed in the room.

Jim whimpered in protest when Spock pulled back a little, pressing their foreheads together.

"I wish to take you," he croaked, his hot breath brushing Jim's lips. "Please, allow me."

Jim ran his fingers through Spock's hair. "We can't. We shouldn't. I'm not your bondmate anymore—"

Spock licked Jim's bottom lip before sucking on it. "I could not think about anything but you since I left the trance. I wish to feel you. Please."

"You'll have a new bondmate in a week," Jim tried, but it sounded unconvincing even to his own ears - especially since his arms were wrapped tightly around Spock's waist.

"I know," Spock breathed out, his grip on Jim's hips tightening. "I do not wish another bondmate. I want you."

Jim forced a chuckle. "I bet you'll change your mind in a week."

"Please," Spock asked, kissing his face and grounding their hips together. "Please."

There was no way Jim was winning this one.

"Okay," he breathed out, petting Spock's hair. "Okay."

With a throaty sound, Spock pushed his tongue in Jim's mouth, hands in his hair, cock burning hot against Jim’s hip. Wrapping his arms around Spock's shoulders, Jim swallowed the noises Spock made into his mouth, the urgent grunts and stifled moans mixing with his own. 

Spock pawed at Jim's fly before losing his patience and ripping off Jim's jeans and underwear. Without breaking the kiss, Jim let Spock push him to the table and slid onto it. Spreading his legs, he reached down and gave Spock's dick a gentle squeeze. Spock growled into his mouth and batting Jim’s hand away, fumbled with his fly. 

A few seconds later, Spock was pushing into him. They both moaned, and Jim wrapped his legs around Spock's waist, tugging him closer. His eyes dark, Spock placed his fingers on Jim's psi-points.

Fuck yeah. Jim sighed in pleasure as he finally felt Spock's familiar presence in him. Spock was everywhere, taking his mind and body, the whirl of his emotions — confusion, lust, need, desperation, anger, want — mixing with Jim's own.

Spock slammed into him, setting a delicious pace, his cock moving in and out, their cheeks pressed against each other. Spock was practically shaking in Jim's arms, small moans and grunts leaving his lips. Jim heard something fall on the floor and break, but couldn't bring himself to care.

They were both struggling to breathe as their orgasms drew closer and Spock's hips moved faster. 

'Yeah, fuck me, so good. So perfectCome in me, c'mon — want you to—'

Spock groaned, and burying his face in the crook of Jim's neck, gave a hard thrust and came into him. His orgasm triggered Jim's, and waves of pleasure rocked his world as his orgasm whirled through him.

Their bodies were quivering with the aftershocks as they tried to catch their breaths when someone cleared her throat.

They both froze.

Jim raised his head and looked over Spock's shoulder -- meeting T'Pau's hard gaze.

~~*~~
 


Jim blinked. A toddler — a giggling human girl — was running down the stairs towards him, her chubby short legs moving surprisingly quickly. 

It definitely wasn't what Jim expected to see in the manor of the Fourth House of Vulcan.

"Jo, come back immediately!" a male voice sounded from somewhere upstairs, and a moment later, a young dark-haired man appeared out of the corner, running after the child. 

"Do not raise your voice at her, Leonard," a cool female voice said before its owner — a very beautiful Vulcan girl around Jim's age — appeared on the stairway. 

"Don't teach me how to treat my own daughter," the man grumbled, finally grabbing the giggling toddler. "Who's Daddy's little girl?" he said, softer, to her. 

The toddler pointed at her cheek, grinning from ear to ear, blond curls around her face making her look like an angel.

Jim coughed slightly. The female's gaze snapped to him. She raised an eyebrow. "Introduce yourself." 

The man turned to Jim, too, frowning.

Jim brushed a hand through his hair. "Um, hi. T'Pau sent me here. Weren't you expecting me?" 

Receiving a blank look in reply, Jim shifted on his feet. "T'Pau of the First House," he clarified. 

"I know who T'Pau is," the girl said evenly, giving Jim an assessing look from head to toe. "My mother mentioned your arrival. I believe you are to be our servant for the time being."

"Yeah," Jim said, wondering what exactly T'Pau had told to T'Miris, the matriarch of the Fourth House. 

"My name is T'Pring," the girl said, walking over to Leonard and taking the toddler from him. "I am a daughter of T'Miris. This is Joanna," she added, her face softening as the little girl pressed a loud kiss to her cheek.

The man rolled his eyes. "Don't listen to her. Her name is Jo. She's my daughter. I'm Leonard McCoy." 

Jim shook his hand. "Jim Kirk. Are you from the Fourth House too?"

McCoy snorted. "Fuck no. I'm just a poor slave here."

Jim frowned. Huh?

"Language," T'Pring said pointedly, covering Jo's ears.

McCoy pursed his lips in a half-scowl, half-smile. "She's too young to understand anyway."

T'Pring gave him a look. "I am teaching Joanna manners, and you are ruining all my hard work, Leonard."

"Oh for god's sake, what for? She's three, not twenty-three!"

"I will have you know that I was taught manners since I was six months old."

"Sure explains a lot about you," McCoy grumbled.

Jim cleared his throat. "So where should I put my things? And what will I be responsible for?" 

T'Pring and McCoy turned to him, looking like they'd just remembered his presence.

T'Pring looked at the little girl in her arms. "What is your opinion of Mr. Kirk, Joanna?"

Jo blinked at her, and T'Pring let out a noise that sounded almost like a sigh. "Do you like him?"

Jo looked at Jim, then nodded solemnly. "He's pretty," she declared.

"Thanks," Jim mumbled. Guys were 'handsome,' not 'pretty.' But, unlike Jim, T'Pring seemed satisfied with Jo's answer. 

"Then it is settled. Leonard, take Mr. Kirk to the room next to yours and explain his duties. If you will excuse me, I have matters requiring my attention." She nodded to both men and left the hall with Jo.

"I'm a doctor, not a goddamn lackey," McCoy shot at her retreating back before turning to Jim. "All right, let's go, kid."

"You're a doctor?" Jim said, following McCoy. "You said you're a slave."

"Not a slave.” McCoy snorted. “A forced worker."

"Ah," Jim said, remembering Q's words. "What did you do?"

"Robbery."

Jim paused. "Really?"

"I stole something from the Shi’Kahr's Science Hospital." 

"Why?"

"Does it matter?" McCoy snapped.

Jim shrugged. "I'm having a hard time imagining that you robbed a hospital. Why'd you do that? You have a kid."

"Yeah, I have a kid. That was why I did that." McCoy sighed heavily. "Jo was sick. T'fovase." 

Noticing Jim's confusion, he frowned. "You don't know what it is? Wow, where did you come from, kid?"

Jim chuckled. "From far, far away... I guess it's something serious, then?"

McCoy's expression became grim. "Yeah. Her mother — my ex-wife — died from the same thing. The disease isn't incurable, but the remedy is very rare and very expensive. After my ex-wife's death, I got Jo and found out that she was sick, too. She was just a year-old baby, and she was dying, and there wasn't a goddamn thing I could do about it, despite being a doctor. There was no way I could find money for the remedy, and even if I had that kind of money, it would have been months of waiting in a queue, and Jo didn't have that time.”

He sighed, running a hand through his hair. “I was desperate. I sold everything I owned so that we could travel to Vulcan. I managed to get a part-time job in the hospital, and the rest, as they say, is history. Two years of forced labor."

"Oh." Jim frowned. "Isn't it a little harsh, though? You did it for someone else, not yourself."

"Yes," McCoy said, opening some door. "Put your things here... That's why they sentenced me only to two years of forced labor." He pressed his lips together. "The thing is, by stealing the remedy for Jo, I stole it from another ill person — and maybe stole another person's life. That goddamn flower blossoms only once a year for one night and it's very hard to grow artificially, so there's always a shortage of it, even among rich people. I got lucky that my sentence wasn't worse, I guess."

McCoy shrugged. "At least I can have Jo with me. It's not that bad, actually. Vulcans are okay."

"Yeah?" Jim said, looking around the room. "It seems T'Pring likes your daughter."

McCoy snorted, a half-smile, half-scowl crossing his face again. "I think the girl fancies that Jo is hers."

"How old is she?"

"Jo? Almost three."

"No. T'Pring." 

"Ah. She's eighteen."

"Hmm," Jim muttered, eyeing him. "She's very pretty, isn't she?"

McCoy's shoulders tensed up. "You shouldn't notice things like that, kid."

Jim smirked. "Don't worry—she's all yours."

McCoy's face flushed red. "Don't be ridiculous, Jim. She's a noble lady; own nothing but my bones! And she's just a girl. She's eighteen, for fuck's sake!"

"Uh-huh," Jim said, grinning. "And how old are you…Bones?"

"Twenty-four. Almost twenty-five," McCoy muttered, glowering at him. "And don't call me 'Bones.'"

"Yeah," Jim said solemnly. "That's a lot, Bones."

McCoy scowled before a sneer appeared on his face. "But enough about me. I heard some interesting things about you, kid."

Jim felt himself blush. Shit. "Yeah?" he said, turning away and starting unpacking. He'd managed to accumulate a lot of personal things over a month.

"Yep. T'Pring heard bits of T'Miris' conversation with T'Pau."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. So what's up with you and the royal hobgoblin?"

Jim went still, then raised his head. "You know Spock?"

McCoy snorted. "Who doesn't? He's the fucking crown prince. But yeah, I had the dubious pleasure of meeting him, because he's all buddy-buddy with T'Pring. Haven't seen him in months, though. Strange, isn't it?"

Jim shrugged slightly. "They say he was in the Gamma quadrant."

"Yeah. The Gamma quadrant," McCoy repeated in a weird tone.

Jim eyed him. "You know?" he asked tentatively.

McCoy nodded, looking at Jim with narrowed eyes. "T'Pring was with him at the VSA when it happened. The question is, how do you know? And what’s this whole business about you and Spock?" 

Jim smiled wryly. If only Bones knew...


"I would not blame either of them," T'Pol said. "Sometimes it happens after the breaking. It will pass in a day or two." 

"Indeed," T'Pau agreed, eyeing Spock and Jim. His face burning, Jim squirmed under her gaze, not daring to look at Amanda and Sarek. "Their bond was exceptionally strong. It is no wonder they feel its absence and wish the closeness of the bond."

"In this case, the boy cannot stay here," Sarek said sharply.

"Sarek, he doesn't have anywhere to go—" Amanda started, but T'Pau interrupted her.

"I agree with Sarek. It would be prudent to send James somewhere else, away from Spock until he is bonded to T'Rena.” She paused. “I shall speak to T'Miris. I believe her daughter was in need of a human servant."

"Excellent," Sarek said. "Then it is decided."

Jim dared to look aside at Spock. His jaw was clenched as he stared blankly at the opposite wall.

He didn't look at Jim.


Spock and he hadn't had the opportunity to speak to each other, because Sarek ordered Jim to pack his things while T'Pau spoke to T'Miris, and half an hour later, Jim was in a hovercar heading to the Fourth House's manor. Because of the utter embarrassment he felt — it wasn't every day T'Pau caught him with her grandson's dick up his ass, after all — Jim didn't even bother arguing.

In a way, Jim was glad that he would be away from Spock. What happened in the kitchen confused the hell out of him. Spock wasn't his bondmate anymore; there hadn't been any reason for them to fuck, to kiss. They shouldn't have done it. Jim shouldn't have let it happen — shouldn't have let his dick do the thinking, because, apparently, his dick liked Spock a little too much. 

"…are you even listening to me, kid?"

Jim gave him a mock-glare. "Quit calling me kid. I'm not that younger than you."

McCoy snorted. "You're seventeen; you're a baby. Not much older than Jo."

Jim smirked. "First, I'm almost eighteen. Second, then T'Pring is a baby, too, huh?"

McCoy huffed, his ears flushing red. "Exactly!"

Chuckling, Jim patted him on the shoulder. "Now Bones, if you repeat it a few more times, I'll start thinking you're in denial or something."

McCoy scowled. "Quit trying to change the topic and tell me what's going on."

Jim sighed and rubbed his forehead, fresh out of distractions. "Okay."

~~*~~

 


Turned out, Jim's entire duties consisted of babysitting Jo when T'Pring and Bones were doing things like shopping. Why T'Pring needed another dress when she already had a few hundred was beyond Jim's comprehension. He’d been looking forward to this trip to Shi’Kahr, but he didn't expect to spend all the time in some stupid shop. 

"Girls," Jim muttered with a huff.

"It's hot here, Uncle Jam," Jo complained, squinting up at the sun.

"Don't look at the sun, princess. And it's Uncle Jim," Jim said, lifting Jo up so that they were face to face. They stared at each other, unblinking. 

Jo giggled and said stubbornly, "Uncle Jam."

Scowling, Jim wiped the sweat off his forehead. "You're doing it on purpose, aren’t you, pumpkin?"

God, Jo was right: it was searing today, even by Vulcan standards.

Jim looked towards the entrance of the shop where T'Pring and Bones were, wondering if they should go back. They probably shouldn't have left in the first place, but Jim had gotten sick of trying — and failing — to keep Jo quiet and getting disapproving looks from every Vulcan in the shop. (Seriously, if T'Pring thought that she was successful at teaching Jo manners, she was pretty delusional.)

Jo was getting restless in his arms. Jim put her down on the pavement so that she could stretch her legs and took her hand. He looked around, eyeing everything with interest. The street — if it could even be called a street, considering the strange architecture of the city — was very busy and full of people.

"A blue lady!" Jo exclaimed—loudly—pointing at an Andorian. The Andorian whirled around. Jim smiled at her apologetically, putting on a long-suffering expression, even though, secretly, he was as amazed as Jo. It was the first time Jim had ever seen so many aliens up-close and personal, and a part of him was still in the holy shit phase. Yeah, Jim had read about this universe's history and politics a lot, but seeing other species in the flesh was a completely another thing. Andorians, Orions, Deltans, Cardassians—

Jim heard an excited murmur run through the crowd, and frowning, looked towards the direction everyone was gazing at. 

His stomach did a little flip-flop.

Spock, looking downright regal in his black-and-silver velvet robes, his hair perfectly coiffed, was helping two Vulcan ladies climb out of the hovercar. A part of Jim couldn't believe that this guy was the same feral Vulcan who attacked him a few weeks ago; he looked like a prince from head to toe.

Suddenly, Jo jerked her hand from his and ran into the gathering crowd. 

"Jo!" Jim shouted, but the street was too noisy and he doubted she'd even heard him. He chased after her, but the girl was small and could run between people's legs, while Jim had to push his way through the crowd. Fuck, Bones and T'Pring were going to kill him.

For a few moments, Jim lost Jo from his sight, and whirled around, frantically searching his surroundings. He came to an abrupt halt when he finally saw her running straight to Spock. The Prince's bodyguards drew their phasers immediately, and Jim broke into a run, pushing people who didn't move out of his way fast enough. Goddammit, couldn't they see that she was just a child?

Jim slowed down, immensely relieved, when Spock gestured for his guards to put their phasers away. Bending down, Spock caught Jo as she ran into his arms and picked her up. She giggled and placed a sloppy kiss on his cheek, which made the paparazzi flashes go crazy. Spock frowned slightly and said something to her. Jo looked around and pointed right at Jim (who would have a talk with her about how not cool it was to point at people).

Jim plastered a smile on his face as the paps started taking pictures of him and shouting obnoxious questions.

Awesome. Fucking awesome.

Almost blinded by the flashes and startled by the questions flying at him from all directions, he made a few steps back, but they were fucking everywhere.

“WHO ARE YOU? WHO IS THE GIRL? HOW DO YOU KNOW HIS HIGHNESS? IS SHE AN ILLEGIMATE DAUGHTER OF THE PRINCE?”

Jim began getting claustrophobic when the familiar hovercar stopped before him. The passenger door flew open; Jim hopped inside and shut the door.

"Uncle Jam, you OK?"

Still breathing hard, Jim turned his head and looked Jo, who was sitting at the other side of Spock.  "Yeah, baby — no thanks to you, though." He looked at Spock. "Hey."

"Jim," Spock said, his expression inscrutable, before saying to his driver. "The Fourth House's Manor."

"Yes, Your Highness."

Spock raised the privacy window between the driver's and passengers' areas. Jim licked his lips and put his hands on the seat, making an effort to keep them still. Maybe it was just him, and there was actually no awkwardness in the air. "Where're your bodyguards?"

"They are riding in another hovercar," Spock replied, leaning back into the leather seat. He glanced at Jim before averting his gaze. "Are you well?"

"Sure. You?" 

"My health is adequate."

Jim looked at Jo, who was uncharacteristically quiet and obedient. Figured she would be a good little girl when Jim did want her to be loud. 

"So you know Spock, princess?" Jim asked her, hoping that it wasn't obvious that he was avoiding looking at Spock. God, it was awkward. They hadn't talked to each other since the Kitchen Incident, and now it was hanging in the air – a goddamn elephant in the room. 

"Yeah," Jo replied, then whispered loudly, as if Spock couldn't hear her, "I'm gonna be his princess when I grow up."

"Oh really?" Jim said, raising his eyebrows. "Isn't he a little old for you, young lady?" Great. Now he sounded like Bones. "I mean, he's just a few years younger than your daddy."

Joanna furrowed her eyebrows, as if this hadn't occurred to her before. She looked up at Spock. "But he's the handsome prince," she said uncertainly. 

Jim folded his lips into an exaggerated pout. "Aw, I'm wounded, Jo. So Spock gets to be 'handsome,' but I'm only ‘pretty,’ huh? I thought you just didn't know words to describe my awesomeness." 

Jo covered her mouth with a hand and giggled. "Don't be sad, Uncle Jam. Your eyes are prettier. They're very blue."

"Well, that's something," Jim muttered with a snort, almost missing Spock's quiet "indeed." Almost.

Jim looked at Spock. Spock looked at him. A beat passed, then another one before Jim realized that he had a boner. He had a fucking boner, just like that.

"I-" Jim wet his lip. "I've gotta hail Bones. They'll be worried if I don't."

"I have already informed T'Pring of the situation," Spock said, his eyes still locked with Jim's. 

Look away, damn it, Jim told himself, but instead found himself leaning in, as if pulled by a gravitational force. The world around them seemed to fade as their lips drew closer, inch by slow inch. 

Only a breath away from contact.

But-- No, Jim thought. It was stupid; it shouldn't be happening; it was the dumbest thing he'd ever done, but—

He moaned as their mouths met, parting his lips eagerly for Spock's tongue. Spock made a low noise, kissing him roughly and tugging closer to his familiar firm body. God, god

"What are you doing?"

They both jumped, jerking apart guiltily. Joanna was staring at them with a thumb in her mouth. 

"Er, we…" It was a good question, actually. What the hell were they doing?

Spock cleared his throat slightly.

"It is…" he started, and his hoarse voice went right to Jim's dick. Jim crossed his legs. "…a human tradition, Joanna."

Jim snorted, shooting Spock an amused look. Their eyes met and a corner of Spock's lips twitched up. Jim smiled, suddenly finding the situation funny. Hell, it was hilarious — they both had raging boners and were trying to explain to a toddler why they'd had their tongues in each other's mouths.

"I'm human," Jo said, frowning. "But I don't do it. Can I do it to you, Prince Spock?"

Spock's eyes widened. "No," he said quickly, moving closer to Jim and away from Jo.

"Aw, are you afraid of a baby, Spock?" Jim teased at the same time as Jo said, 

"Why?"

"Because…because this tradition is only for adult humans," Spock said rather lamely.

Jo chewed on her lip thoughtfully. "But you aren't human," she pointed out. Jim couldn't help himself and started laughing.

Spock stared at Jim for a few moments before saying, "What is so humorous?"

"Don't you think it's funny that a three-year-old outlogiced you?"

Spock raised an eyebrow. "'Outlogiced' is not a word, Jim." 

"It totally is if I say so," Jim chuckled, leaning closer. 

"Indeed?"

Jim smiled at him, feeling warmth in his gut that had nothing to do with arousal. "Yeah."

They stared at each other. From this close, Jim could count Spock's every eyelash, could smell him and practically taste him on the back of his tongue.

Something shifted in Spock's expression. "It is highly illogical, but… I miss you," he admitted quietly.

Jim's heart skipped a beat. "It's not me you miss, you silly. You miss the bond. There’s a difference."

Spock took Jim's hand and raised it to his lips; then he kissed his knuckles gently, like Jim was some lady from medieval times. And like a goddamn lady from an ancient romance, Jim blushed — honest-to-god blushed.

"How can you be so certain of it?" Spock said, pressing another kiss to his knuckles. His lips lingered. Jim shivered.

"Because I know, okay? I can feel it, too—the hole in my mind where you and the bond were. I miss it, too, but it's not real, Spock. It's the bond's doing. We just should keep away from each other. T'Pol said it would pass in a day or two."

"It has been two-point-three days," Spock objected, kissing the sensitive skin of his palm.

"I know," Jim said, sighing. He told himself to jerk his hand from Spock's grasp, but his hand refused to obey. His resolution was well on its way to being dissolved.

Why not? a tiny voice in the back of his mind asked. It wasn't like it would mean anything. They were horny teenagers - they wanted sex and they wanted each other. This need would pass in a few days. Spock would be bonded soon, anyway, and he’d stop wanting him, and Jim would stop, too.

Deep in his gut, Jim knew it was a bunch of bullshit and that he was doing a big mistake, but Spock's hot lips were kissing his palm, Jim's dick was throbbing and his balls were aching.

"All right," he whispered, not completely sure what he was agreeing on. 

Spock's eyes flashed, and the next thing Jim knew, they were kissing again, writhing against each other and trying to get as close as possible in the cramped space. They kissed, and kissed, and kissed, unable to let go, moaning into each other's mouths.

"Spock? Uncle Jam? Are you in pain?"

It took a few moments for the words to register. Fuck. They'd forgotten about Jo again. With a frustrated sigh, Jim tore his lips away. 

"No," Spock managed.

"We can't here…” Jim whispered. “Jo…"

Spock took a deep breath, his cheeks flushed green. "Very well," he said, but his arms around Jim only tightened. He settled back in the seat with Jim in his lap. 

Jim glanced at Jo, who was watching them like they were animals in a zoo. "Spock, let me go."

"No."

"God, you can be such a stubborn ass," Jim sighed, sagging against Spock. He would pull away in a bit. Really. "You do realize that we're cuddling, right?"

"We are not. I am holding you in my arms."

Jim snorted. "Yeah, like there's any difference."

"There is a difference," Spock said with a defensive note in his voice.

"You cuddling?" Jo asked.

Jim snickered. "Nope, sweetie. His Highness just feels like holding me in his arms."

He felt Spock nuzzle his hair. "If you truly objected to this,” Spock murmured, “you would not be kissing my neck."

"I'm not kissing your neck. My lips just happen to be pressed against it."

"If you say so."

"Shut up. Your… you-know-what is poking me and I'm not complaining, right?"

"Since you have the same problem, you cannot exactly complain about mine. And what gave you the impression that I was complaining?"

I missed you, Jim thought, burying himself deeper into Spock's embrace. It was weird that he'd gotten so attached to Spock over the course of a week.

Although… maybe it wasn't that weird, really. Usually it took people a lot of time to get to know each other, but people usually didn't get to share their minds. He’d gotten to know Spock in the most intimate of ways — knew the way Spock thought, the way he felt about things, and shared with Spock things he'd never shared with anyone. There was a sense of deep understanding and familiarity that Jim had never felt with anyone else.

Now, feeling Spock so close, being wrapped tightly in his arms was fucking incredible — almost what Spock's warm presence had felt like in his mind, and maybe even better. For all the sex they'd had, they never cuddled physically — there had been no need because of the bond.

"Daddy cuddles me before sleep," Jo stated.

"Yeah?" 

Spock's hands slipped over his shirt and started stroking along his spine. Jim bit his lip to keep himself from making any embarrassing sounds and scaring Jo.

The girl nodded. "He says he does it only 'cause he loves me so much and that I shouldn't tell T'Pring." 

She looked at them, as if expecting them to confess their own love for each other. Spock's hands faltered for a moment, as if he realized it, too, before resuming their movements.

Neither of them said anything.

Jim closed his eyes, thinking about how crazy it was. No, of course they didn't love each other — they couldn't. That thing they had, whatever it was, was doomed. Jim fully knew that they shouldn't be doing it, that it couldn't end well – but no matter what he told himself about being attracted to Spock only because of the bond, it was total bullshit. Jim knew it, but he was still doing it. He knew how this ride would end — with Jim under Spock, Spock's dick up his ass and Spock's mind entwined with his. 

He only hoped that he would be able to put an end to it before it was too late and he was in too deep.

~~*~~
 


After Spock had left the Fourth House's manor (two hours and three mind-blowing orgasms later) and Jim had regained the ability to think, he reached for his PADD and checked the headlines. As he had expected, the pictures of Jo kissing Spock on the cheek and of Jim with a strained smile were already up. Jim rolled his eyes at the headlines. Some things never changed no matter the universe.

DOES PRINCE SPOCK HAVE AN AFFAIR?

THE CROWN PRINCE ACCOMPANIED HIS BONDMATE AND HER MOTHER TO THE SHOPPING CENTER, BUT LEFT IN A HOVERCAR WITH AN UNIDENTIFIED STRANGER AND A CHILD

DOES THE PRINCE HAVE AN ILLEGITIMATE DAUGHTER?


"Poor Spock," Jim muttered, thinking of Sarek's reaction. He felt bad for T'Pol for having to deal with the publicity storm.

Jim looked up as McCoy stormed into his room. "Bones! You're back?"

McCoy scowled. "You'd better have a good explanation for this, Jim," he said, throwing a PADD at him.

Jim caught the PADD and winced, seeing the familiar pictures. "Look, Bones, I'm sorry. She just ran away— you know how she is—"

"I'm not talking about Jo and her little crush on Spock, Jim." McCoy pursed his lips. "I'm talking about the fact that, according to Jo, you and the Royal Hobgoblin sucked each other's faces off and cuddled the entire ride."

Jim flushed. "She was supposed to keep it a secret," he muttered.

McCoy pinched the bridge of his nose. "So it's true, then. Goddammit, are you out of your mind, kid? An affair with Spock, of all people! He's the fucking crown prince! He'll be King one day!" 

Jim shrugged, avoiding his eyes. "So? It's not like crown princes can't fool around. It's just sex." 

McCoy sighed. "Is this about the former bond between you?"

Jim shrugged. "Yeah—I don't know. Maybe."

McCoy shook his head. "You're an idiot, Jim," he said grimly. "This is the dumbest thing you could've ever done."

Jim snorted. "Believe me, Bones, I know."

"Promise me that you won't do it again."

Jim eyed him. "Why do you care,? We've only known each other for a few days."

McCoy shrugged, looking uncomfortable. "You're a good kid, and I don't want you to get hurt. Now come on - promise me."

Jim smiled at him, genuinely touched. "I promise."

I'll try.

Chapter Text

 


Jim felt guilty as he crept out of the manor at ass o'clock the next morning. He hadn't wanted to break his promise to Bones, but when he got an email from Spock last night asking to meet him at dawn by the back gates of the manor, Jim couldn't help but feel curious. The tone of the email was pretty dry, which only fanned the flames of Jim's interest. He wasn't breaking his promise to Bones, because they weren't going to fuck. Really.

It took him fifteen minutes to reach the back gates. 

Spock was leaning against a sport red hovercar, wearing very casual clothes: a black tee, tight blue jeans, and sunglasses.

Jim stared. "Wow. I didn't know you even owned clothes like that."

Spock took his sunglasses off and raised an eyebrow, giving Jim an unabashed once-over. "You are outfitted in a similar manner."

"Sure, but I'm not the crown prince." Jim came to a halt in front of Spock. He put his hands on his hips. "So? What's up? Why did you want to see me?"

Spock hooked his fingers into Jim's belt and tugged him closer before leaning in and taking Jim's bottom lip into his mouth and sucking.

Later, Jim would deny it, but he pretty much melted against Spock for a few moments before he pulled away with a hoarse chuckle. "I hope you didn't ask me to come for a fuck, because I'm not your goddamn booty call."

Spock clasped his hands behind his back. "No. We have much to discuss."

Jim gave him an amused look. "’To discuss’? Is that how Vulcans call it these days?"

"It is a matter of your future, not..." Spock looked away, his cheeks tinged with green.

"My future?"

"Indeed. Come." Spock opened the passenger door of the hovercar for Jim and made sure that he'd put on his seat belt before getting into the driver side and starting up the engine.

"Where are your bodyguards and everything?" Jim said, looking out of the window. 

"They are not aware that I am out."

Jim found himself smiling. Spock's little rebellious streaks were almost endearing. "How are things at home?" he asked, thinking of the newspapers.

"Adequate," Spock said, his voice a little tight. 

Jim looked at him. "That bad, huh?"

A muscle in Spock's jaw twitched. "If my father were human, I would say he was furious."

Jim winced. "I bet. And quit this bullshit, your father can totally feel emotions — I know firsthand that you do."

"My father is not half-human."

Jim rolled his eyes with a heavy sigh. "Jeez, your daddy issues put mine to shame. Spock, your mom's told me that you dad does feel, and she would know better, right? Your dad loves you, you little baby."

Spock tore his gaze away from the viewscreen to Jim. "Do not call me that."

Jim smirked. "What?" he said innocently. "Little baby?"

"Yes."

"Sure… baby."

The right corner of Spock's mouth twitched. "You are impossible."

"You love it— hey, watch out!" Jim shouted, and Spock whipped the car left, barely avoiding a crash. "Wow, that was close. Keep your eyes on the road. God."

Spock shot Jim a glare as if it was somehow Jim’s fault and averted his gaze, his knuckles white on the wheel.

Jim frowned. "Hey, are you pissed at me? For what?"

"I am not angry with you. It would be illogical to blame you for something one cannot help."

Jim gave him a strange look, then brushed it off as one of those Things-I-Wish-I-Understood-About-Vulcans. 

He was staring at Spock's long pale fingers grasping the wheel when a sudden idea crossed his mind. "Let me drive."

"No."

"Why not?"

"You do not have a license."

"Who cares?"

"I do."

"Come on, I know how to drive this thing—" Spock gave him a dubious look and Jim backtracked. "Fine, I don't know, but I'm sure that I can figure it out. Our hovercrafts weren't much different—less advanced, of course, but not that different. I wanna know how fast it can go."

"That is what I am afraid of," Spock commented dryly and Jim scowled. 

"Cease pouting," Spock said, parting his legs and patting the place between them. "Come here."
Jim gave him a suspicious look, but did as he'd been told. Spock let go of the wheel, letting Jim put his hands onto it. "Do you know how the controls work?" 

Jim eyed the controls for a few moments, then nodded slowly, feeling excitement bubble up in his chest. "I can guess," he said, rolling the window down.

Spock put his hands on Jim's waist. "Head to the west."

And Jim did. 

Holy fuck, he missed driving, feeling the wind in his hair as he drove faster and faster until everything was a blur. Jim was grinning and laughing freely, leaning back against Spock's chest, Spock's arms wrapped tightly around him as if he was afraid to let go.

"Are you scared of speed, baby?" Jim yelled over the wind, laughing.

"No," Spock said, his face buried in Jim's hair.

Jim smirked. Yeah, right. "So where are we going exactly?" Jim looked down at the ShiKahr's landscape below.

"Keep going at this speed for approximately two-point-seven minutes. I will do the rest."

Jim turned his head and gave Spock an insulted look. "Hey, don't you trust me to land it?"

Spock's eyes glimmered with amusement. "No," he said honestly. "And I believe you should 'keep your eyes on the road,' Jim."

Jim laughed. "Oh fuck you." And then, he couldn't help himself — he kissed Spock.

It was a wonder they didn't crash.

When they finally managed to pull away from each other, Spock took over and landed the hovercar. Jim frowned when he saw where they were. 

"Isn't this the Vulcan Science Academy?"

"It is," Spock said, killing the engine. 

They got out of the hovercar into an empty parking lot. The morning sunlight made the ancient buildings look like they were made of gold. There was no one in sight.

"Where is everyone?" Jim asked, looking around. "And why are we here? I thought you already got your diploma." As far as he knew, when the pon farr incident had happened, Spock was just a few days away from graduation.

"Indeed, I did. It is hardly surprising that there is no one here — the academic year is over, and the observatories and laboratories are situated in another part of the campus. As for your other question, we are here so that you can take the GIF."

Frowning, Jim turned around to face him. "Are you serious right now? I have no documents, Spock."

Raising an eyebrow, Spock retrieved something from the pocket of his jeans and handed to him. Jim took it and frowned down at a small chip. He knew what it was: an ID.

"What the…" Jim looked up at Spock. "How the hell did you manage to convince Sarek to give me citizenship?"

Spock clasped his hands behind his back, looking vaguely uncomfortable. "Initially, Father refused to give you citizenship, but I… reminded him that we owed you."

Jim narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Tell me you didn't do something stupid like telling your dad that you would tell the press everything that happened."

Spock averted his gaze. Jim groaned.

"It worked, did it not?" Spock said stiffly.

"Shit, are you crazy? What if he didn't agree? You really would have told everything to the press? It would have killed your reputation! You're the future king, for fuck's sake!"

"Indeed," Spock said, looking straight at him. "I am the future King. If I cannot stand for what I believe is just and right, what kind of a king will I be? If you are to stay in this universe — and you will stay here — then you deserve to be given the opportunity to get proper education and apply your intelligence. Being a servant or a nurse is not what you are."

Jim stared at him and hoped that there weren't hearts in his eyes. "Yes, but it would've ruined your reputation, Spock," he said softly. "And, in politics, reputation is everything."

"Then it would have been my punishment," Spock said flatly.

Jim rolled his eyes. "Jeez, how many times have we had this discussion? You didn't rape me or anything — and it wasn't even you—"

"You did not give your consent. That is all that matters."

Jim laughed a little. "Yeah, it was a very traumatic experience for me, and that's why I let you fuck me three times only yesterday." He winced, wishing he could take his words back as a loaded silence descended upon them. Spock's cheeks tinged with green.

Jim cleared his throat, eyeing the buildings with an exaggerated interest. "So Sarek gave me citizenship, which is great and everything, but I can't take the GIF now. I'm not ready to take any tests. There are still so many things I don't know about your universe. I don't even know what kind of a test it is."

Spock shook his head. "You will not need any deep knowledge of our universe. The test is designed to determine both your areas of strength as well as areas on which you need to focus. It measures your intellect, your ability to find solutions to problems, and your ability to learn overall. Some tests are visual and some are verbal, while some tests only use abstract-reasoning problems and others concentrate on arithmetic, spatial imagery, memory, or general knowledge. 

“It is not an entrance examination; it is a basic test that everyone must take. Even if you choose not to apply for any school, you will need to take the test, since employers require a GIF score. This way." Spock headed to one of the smaller buildings, and Jim followed. "Since the academic year is over, there are few individuals in this part of the VSA, but the test can be taken at any time durings the year."

Jim followed Spock inside the building. A Vulcan female was sitting at the reception desk. Spock pulled a credit chip out of his pocket and handed it to Jim, nodding towards the reception desk. "Go."

Jim frowned at the chip in his hand, his jaw clenching. "I don't need your money. I'm not your fucking kept boy."

"Cease being so illogical," Spock hissed out. "It is nothing for me, and I owe you much more."

Jim huffed a sigh. "Fine, but only because I don't have money on me. I'll pay you back as soon as I can."

Spock looked like he badly wanted to roll his eyes. "Very well," he said, settling in one of the chairs. "I would wish you luck, but I know you do not require it."

I wish you stopped being so fucking sweet, Jim thought savagely, heading towards the receptionist.


~~*~~
 


Jim left the examination room rather confused, and it probably showed on his face, because Spock picked on it immediately. "Is something wrong, Jim?"

"Nope," Jim said. "I just thought it would be much harder. Here." He handed Spock the card with his test results. "Is it good enough to get me a decent job?"

Spock's eyebrows almost disappeared in his hairline.

"What?" Jim said, feeling nervous all of a sudden. He’d been pretty sure he’d aced the test, but what if he was wrong?

"You got 579," Spock said slowly.

"Yeah, that's what it says."

Spock looked up at him. "Jim, the maximum possible score is 580."

Jim blinked, then grinned. "Wow, really? I guess I can show this thing to Bones next time he tells me that I'm lucky I'm so pretty."

Spock's eyes narrowed, but he didn't comment. He looked back at the plastic card in his hand. "Are you aware that this score will allow you to get an admission even into the VSA with no entrance examinations?"

Jim stared at him. "Huh?"

"Indeed. Usually Humans have a score in the range between 200 and 350. There are a few exceptions, of course, but no Human before you ever scored higher than a five hundred. Only approximately 37% of Vulcans score above five hundred." Spock met his eyes. "You are truly exceptional."

Jim shrugged, trying to force back the oncoming blush. "I told you, I'm a freak. Let's go?" 

Spock nodded and returned the card to him. As they headed towards the exit, a thought occurred to Jim. "Hey, what's your score?"

"579."

Jim shot him a look. "Seriously?" 

A corner of Spock's mouth twitched up. "Yes," he said, and, laying a hand on Jim's back, gently guided him towards the hovercar. The warmth of his hand seeped through the thin material of Jim's shirt and felt as if it were leaving a mark on his skin. 

Jim sighed. "Spock." 

"Yes?" Spock said, opening the passenger door for him.

Jim climbed in. "Quit this." 

"Clarify," Spock said, buckling Jim up.

"This. All this touching, the caring and shit."

Spock's hands froze. "If you find it unpleasant—" he started tightly, and Jim snorted.

"No, it's not that." I like it too much, and that's the problem.

Spock stared at him, his brown eyes searching his face, as if seeking answers to a riddle only he knew. "Jim," he said, his voice warm and intimate, and Jim felt a sudden surge of anger towards Spock — for making him wish things that could never be, for making him want.

"Come on, let's get out of here," Jim said, clearing his throat slightly.

Spock was silent for a few moments before closing the passenger door. 

As Spock took them off, Jim examined the test results more closely. "They say that my strong areas are Computer Sciences and Engineering." He chuckled. "Huh. They also think I can do pretty well in politics, command, and diplomacy, which is, like, ridiculous." But he frowned, suddenly remembering Q's words that he was a Starship Captain in some universe. Maybe not, then.

Jim was pulled from his thoughts when his communicator beeped. He flipped it open. "Shit," he muttered, looking at McCoy's scowling face.

"Where the hell are you, Jim?" he said. "Do you have any idea how worried we've been? Why weren't you answering your communicator?"

"'We,' Bones?" Jim teased, smiling. "You're already using first-person plural pronouns?"

Bones scowled. "Where the fuck are you?"

"I've got an ID—"

Bones snorted. "About time."

"—and we're just leaving the VSA where I—"

"Wait, 'we'?" Bones interrupted, narrowing his eyes. "Jim, tell me you're not with the Royal Hobgoblin."

From the corner of his eye, Jim saw that Spock's head turned to him. "Uh, yeah, I'm with Spock. But it's not what you think, Bones."

McCoy pinched the bridge of his nose. "Oh, really?"

"Yes, really," Jim said firmly. "I just took the GIF test. Spock brought my ID to me."

McCoy looked at him skeptically. 

"What?" Jim said, not at all defensive. "Seriously, why do you think so little of me?"

McCoy raised his eyebrows. "Jim, are you telling me that you've spent a few hours with him and managed to keep your pants on?"

Jim's face heat up. "Bones, shut up," he said with an awkward smile. "He can hear you, you know."

"Good," Bones said grimly. "I wanna talk to him. Give him the comm." 

"What? No way!"

"Give him the comm, kid," McCoy said with a glare. "I have a lot to say."

"No— hey!" Jim glowered at Spock as the communicator was snatched from him. "Give that back!"

Spock ignored him. "You wished to speak to me?" he said to Bones.

Jim tried to snatch the comm back, but Spock moved his hand out of Jim's reach. Sighing in defeat, Jim shifted closer, so that he at least could see the small screen, too.

"Yes," Bones said, scowling at Spock and ignoring Jim. "I wanted to tell you something. You might be the crown prince, and you might think that you can do anything your royal ass wants, but I don't care who your daddy is - leave Jim alone! You're wrong if you think no one cares about him. He has friends and—"

"Bones!" Jim cut him off, wincing. "Not that I don't appreciate the concern, but don't, okay? I don't need anyone protecting me. I'm not some damsel in distress—"

"Doctor McCoy," Spock interrupted him. "While your wish to protect Jim is admirable, he does not need protection from me. I do not wish him harm—"

Bones just snorted.

"—and will not let anyone hurt him. I ask you to respect his wish and mind your own business," Spock finished before turning the communicator off.

"For fuck's sake," Jim said with an eye-roll. "Did you really have to do that? It's just Bones! Where are your manners?"

Spock tossed him the communicator. "I do not like him."

Jim's lips quirked. "First, even a blind and deaf person can see that Bones has a thing for T'Pring. Second, you have no right to be jealous."

Spock looked away. "Indeed," he said with no inflection whatsoever, gripping the controls so hard his knuckles had gone white.

Jim stared at his profile and thought, if only… But thoughts like that were fucking pointless — dangerous — and he would be damned if he let himself dwell on them.

"Take me back to the manor," Jim said with a sigh, feeling weary all of a sudden.

Spock nodded and a silence fell upon them, but for once, it wasn’t totally loaded. Jim leaned his cheek against the back of his seat and just watched Spock.

Not looking away from the viewscreen, Spock dropped his hand onto the seat between them. Jim stared at it for a few moments, unsure.

Did Spock… Did Spock really want to hold hands? Jim had always found it kind of weird and sappy when people held hands in a car, but now he found himself reaching and putting his hand over Spock's.

With a barely audible sigh, Spock laced their fingers together, and strangely, there was nothing sexual in the gesture. Jim eyed their joined hands for a few moments before averting his gaze and staring out of the window as the landscape flew by.


~~*~~
 


Jim couldn't sleep. His mind was restless, going through the events of the day over and over. He'd gotten an ID, citizenship, and real prospects for a future, and while he did feel happy because of all those things — of course he hadn’t wanted to be a goddamned servant all his life — the day had left him with a weird sense of uncertainty. Jim had no clue what the hell was going on anymore, and he was beginning to think that Spock had no clue, either. 

Maybe if they'd had sex, everything would have been much simpler — they were young guys, and sex was just sex, nothing complicated. But they hadn't had sex today; they’d hardly even kissed. No -- they held hands in a completely platonic way.

Jim heaved a sigh and turned on his back. Quit thinking about Spock, he told himself. In six days Spock would be bonded to another person — a proper bond, not some fucked-up accidental bonding thing they'd had.

Jim sighed again, realizing that he was hard. Damn it. He closed his eyes, and taking his dick into his hand, started jerking off, thinking about women – boobs and—

Half an hour later, Jim threw his pillow at the opposite wall, frustrated and cranky as hell. Giving up, he thought about Spock's dark eyes and long fingers and came twenty seconds later.

Great. Fucking awesome.

~~*~~
 


"So you're gonna apply for Computer Sciences? Why not Engineering?"

Jim shrugged a little, looking through the pictures Jo had drawn. A house; a smiling man (Bones, smiling? Really?); a woman with pointy ears that were way too large (Jim was dying to see T'Pring's face when she saw it); and a girl with yellow hair and a pink dress, holding their hands. Nearby, a yellow-haired man stood holding hands with a pointy-eared man, who was wearing a crown. The yellow-haired man was wearing a crown, too — a smaller one. 

Jim stared at the picture, torn between laughing and being offended. Was he supposed to be a princess? Since the hovercar ride, Jo had gotten into her head that Spock and he were together or something. The only good thing that came out from it was that she seemed to give up on the idea of being Spock's princess. Jim supposed that now he knew why.

"I like computers a bit more, I guess," he replied. "I always thought—" He cut himself short, hearing the sound of footsteps and voices.

"...Spock, it is highly illogical," T'Pring was saying, and Jim tensed. Spock was here? Not that he'd thought that he wouldn't see Spock again, but he hadn’t expected it to happen so soon.

"Do not interfere, T'Pring," Spock warned, entering the room.

Their eyes met as though drawn together like two electromagnets, and warmth spread in Jim's gut.

"I cannot not interfere," T'Pring said coldly, entering the room. "I was ordered not to leave you alone with him if you came to visit me."

Spock's jaw tightened. He turned to T'Pring. "That is a violation of my privacy. We do not need a chaperone."

T'Pring met his eyes icily. "You do not have a choice, and neither do I. While you are on the territory of the Fourth House, you cannot stay alone with James. These are my mother's orders, which means that they are T'Pau's orders. I am surprised that T'Pau and Sarek let you leave the palace at all."

Spock's eyes flashed. "They cannot lock me up. I may not be of age yet, but I am the crown prince, and they cannot limit my freedom without breaking the law."

Jim's cock twitched. Holy shit, Spock was hot when he was pissed off.

"Indeed," T'Pring said. "However, on the Fourth House's territory you are bound to obey our matriarch. Either obey, or leave."

Spock looked from T'Pring to Jim. "Very well," he said reluctantly, and walking over, sat down next to Jim. T'Pring took a seat on the other couch next to Bones.

"Hey," Jim murmured, putting Jo's doodles away. Biting his lip, Jim darted a glance at T'Pring and Bones. They were talking — or, rather, T'Pring was talking and Bones was scowling at her.

"Why are you here? You dad will be pissed when he finds out."

"As far as my father is concerned, I am visiting T'Pring, whom I have not seen for many months," Spock replied quietly, looking at Jim through his dark eyelashes. 

God, he was so gorgeous, and Jim wanted. He wanted to rip all those clothes off and jump his bones — he was beyond the point of denying it to himself. Hell, if T'Pring and Bones weren't in the room, Jim would have already been in Spock's lap, riding him, their minds joined and lips locked — Jim knew it, and he knew Spock did, too. Spock's breathing was as irregular as his.

Jim wet his lips as Spock leaned in…

"I hope you have the decency not to kiss your boy in my presence, Spock," T'Pring said coldly, but Jim barely registered it, because Spock's hot dry lips had touched his. Sighing, Jim parted his lips and wrapped his hands around Spock's neck. Spock's tongue slid into his mouth, moving against Jim's, and Jim sucked on it.

"Goddammit, don’t you two have any shame? There is a virgin girl here!"

Spock pulled him closer, deepening the kiss. Moaning quietly, Jim kissed him harder, shifting closer.

"Are you referring to me, Leonard?"

"Who else? And— Dammit, my eyes! Jim, get off his lap! That's—that's—"

"Highly inappropriate."

"Exactly!"

"Spock, cease this at once. Spock, I am speaking to you. I would appreciate it if you pulled your tongue out of the boy's mouth and looked at me."

Spock tore his lips away; Jim made a protesting sound and tried to chase them. Spock turned his head slightly, so Jim's lips landed on his cheek. 

"Leave," Spock said in a clipped voice, his warm hand sliding under Jim's shirt. "Or you will have to watch, because I have no intention of stopping."

"Kinky," Jim whispered, pressing kisses to Spock's jaw line. But surprisingly, after a few moments, he heard the others leave, T’Pring going on about “suffering the consequences from T’Pau.”

"I didn't know you had it in you," he murmured with a soft chuckle, which turned into a sigh as Spock started unzipping his pants.

A few minutes later, they were naked and Spock was pushing into him. They gasped into each other's mouths when Spock was in him to the hilt. Jim smiled as Spock placed his fingers on his face, and then—

Bliss

~~*~~
 


"Look, Jim—"

Jim sighed, his gaze on hid PADD. "Not this again, Bones."

Are you free this afternoon? 

Jim looked at the clock. He had at least four hours until T'Pring returned with Jo.

Yeah, he typed in Vulcan. Something's wrong?

McCoy sat next to him. "Jim."

Sighing again, Jim looked up. "What?"

McCoy pinched the bridge of his nose. "I'm worried, kid. You do realize that this can't end well, right?"

"It's just sex, Bones."

"I'm not talking about sex, dammit, even though I'm sick as hell of stumbling across you two going at it like rabbits. Seriously, did you really need to fuck in Jo's nursery?"

Jim flushed. "Jo wasn't there." 

Bones glared at him. "And thank god for small mercies!" He shook his head. "But I'm not talking about your inability to keep your pants on in Spock's presence — I was a teen, too, I remember how it was." He sighed. "No. I'm talking about that stupid look you get around Spock."

"What look?" Jim said distractedly, opening a new email.

Negative. I simply wished to see you. May I come?

Jim felt a smile tug at his lips.

"This look!" Bones said. "This pathetically dopey expression on your face whenever you look at Spock or think of him."

Jim forced a laugh. "You have quite an imagination, Bones. We're teens! It's just sex."

McCoy gave him a long look. "Repeating this for the hundredth time won't make it true." He got up with a sigh. "I don't like it, Jim," he said quietly. "I don't even know why, really, but I care about your ass a whole lot, and this thing you have going on with Spock is not good for you."

Jim's throat constricted with a tangle of emotions. "Thanks, Bones. I really appreciate it. But don't worry about me, okay? I know what I'm doing."

"I hope so, kid," McCoy said, squeezing his shoulder, and left.

Jim looked at his PADD. He stared at it for a few minutes, thinking of McCoy's words.

Finally, he typed, Yeah. I'll be waiting for you.

~~*~~


Jim didn't intend to eavesdrop, but then, Spock and T'Pring were talking rather loudly. They were speaking in Vulcan, but Jim could understand them without much difficulty.

"... lost your mind, Spock? Do you realize what your father will do if you he finds out? And he will."

"I realize this."

"Then why do you keep coming here?"

A pause. "I wish to see him, T'Pring."

"See?" T'Pring scoffed. "Do not insult me, Spock. I know what you two do. Put an end to it."

"I cannot."

"You cannot, or you will not?"

"I cannot, T'Pring. I do realize that I should keep away from him, and yet... I simply cannot. I tried."

T'Pring sighed. "How long do you expect to keep this up, Spock? You are going to be preliminarily bonded to T'Rena in one-point-six days."

"I believe it will pass after the bonding. The point of bonding is to focus a male's desires on one person, is it not?"

"Indeed. Yet, what if it does not pass?"

Spock said nothing for a while. "It will. It has to. He is not…"

Jim's stomach twisted. It was ridiculous that he felt so hurt – it was only natural that Spock would want this weird thing to end and have a normal bond. 

"Spock," T'Pring said softly. "I think you are mistaken."

"I am not. I wish I was, but I am not. He is…"

Jim turned around and left. 



~~*~~
 


"Tomorrow, T'Pau will create a preliminary bond between T'Rena and I," Spock said quietly into his nape. 

Jim opened his eyes and stared at the opposite wall. "Oh?"

"Yes."

The room suddenly felt too cold and Jim tugged the sheets over them. "Well, congrats. Is there gonna be a live broadcasting? I wanna watch."

Spock's hand stroked along his thigh before moving to Jim's belly and pulling him closer. "Negative. The ceremony will be private, because, in the public's eyes, we are already preliminarily bonded. They do not know that the bond was destroyed." He paused. "However, the marital bonding ceremony is going to be open to the public." 

"So she's gonna be your princess? Poor Jo will be heartbroken."

Spock took an audible breath. "Jim—" 

"And you’ll have a happily-ever-after," Jim said with a hoarse chuckle. "Just like in fairytales."

Spock said nothing, and Jim closed his eyes.

It's so fucking cliché, he thought suddenly, kind of wanting to laugh, despite the growing ache in his chest. He freed himself from Spock's arms and sat up. Not looking at Spock, he reached for his clothes on the floor and began dressing.

"Jim, I—"

"Spock, don't." Jim snorted, pulling his pants on, and stood up to zip his fly. "I know that it was just sex, no strings attached, and that this is it." He pulled his shirt on. "You'll finally have the bond you want so much. I'm happy for you, really."

Jim looked at his watch. "I've gotta go fetch Jo. You can find the way out on your own, right?"

After a few moments, Spock said quietly, "I can."

Setting his jaw, Jim turned around. Seeing Spock — cheeks flushed, black hair ruffed and lips swollen from kisses — made Jim's insides twist and ache.

Jim felt a grin split his face. "I'll see you around, Your Highness."



~~*~~



"You look sad, Uncle Jam."

Great. Even a three-year-old wasn't buying his bullshit anymore. Jim sighed and looked at Jo. "I'm not sad, princess."

Jo climbed into his lap. "Lying is illogical."

"Yup," Jim said, tweaking her on the nose. "That's why I'm not lying, sugar pie." He grinned widely. "See? Totally not sad."

Jo cocked her head and gave him an assessing look. T'Pring must be rubbing off on her; there was no other explanation for this serious behavior. Weren't little girls supposed to be giggly all the time?

"I don't believe you," Jo declared solemnly, putting her thumb into her mouth. 

Jim smiled and pulled her to him, hugging her small, warm body. "I'm okay, baby," he murmured, staring at the fake fire crackling in the fireplace. Spock was probably already bonded to T'Rena by now. Jim kissed Jo's hair. "But I appreciate the concern."


~~*~~
 


"So how’d it go?" Jim asked casually next morning. Bones had accompanied T'Pring to the private bonding ceremony. (Jim wasn't even sure why. Officially, Bones wasn’t T'Pring's bodyguard or anything; it was just some kind of a given that where T'Pring went, you could always count on McCoy hovering over her, grumbling about diseases and bacteria.)

McCoy shrugged causally. "Pretty boring, actually. There wasn't much to see. T'Pau melded with them, then declared that they were bonded."

"Ah," Jim said before returning his gaze to his PADD. He chuckled. "Have you known that the Vulcan word for penis can also mean 'mirror'? You have no idea how much it freaked me out when Sulak — he’s the Chavantal Palace's butler — told me to 'rub this penis.’ I thought he was a perverted weirdo—"

"Jim."

Jim smiled faintly, rubbing the back of his neck. "I'm okay, Bones, really. I swear I wasn't in love with him or anything." He snorted a laugh. "He's a fucking prince and I'm a servant. Seriously, I'm not that pathetic of a cliché."

McCoy heaved a sigh. "If you say so, kid."


~~*~~
 


The days went by in a blur; Spock's wedding was rapidly approaching. The day of the wedding was declared a national holiday and was the main subject of every newspaper. It was like everyone was discussing it, and it was slowly driving Jim crazy. Weren't Vulcans supposed to be above things like gossip? 

Fucking hypocrites, Jim thought darkly, walking down the corridor of the VSA. He received an acceptance letter yesterday and was asked to come by to sign some documents, but it hadn't taken as much time as he'd expected and now Jim was left wandering the corridors of the Academy, waiting for Bones and T'Pring's return from Shi’Kahr. 

Jim had over an hour and a half to kill, but the problem was that the VSA was located on the very outskirts of the city, on the edge of Vulcan's Forge, and Jim didn't particularly fancy a walk under the heat of the Vulcan sun through a canyon full of s'gagerat — a predatory plant that could kill even adult Vulcans and sehlats. He had no choice but to wait for Bones and T'Pring. 

Sighing, Jim walked down the dim corridor, looking for something entertaining or at least mildly interesting, but there was nothing except boring walls and the occasional applicant. The Academy wasn't as empty as it had been when he was here with Spock, but it would be an exaggeration to say that it was full of life.

Jim's steps faltered a little when he heard the sound of footsteps behind him. He knew those footsteps. And how fucked up it was that he could recognize Spock's?

Jim put on his best fuck-if-I-care face, wondering what Spock was doing in the Academy -- and more importantly, why he was following Jim.

It didn't take long for Spock to catch up with him, since Jim wasn't exactly walking quickly.

"Jim," Spock said evenly, his pace slowing down to match his.

Jim cast him a glance before looking straight ahead. "Your Highness."

He could have sworn he had heard Spock grit his teeth. "Do not call me that."

Jim smiled crookedly. "Why not? I'm pretty sure it's the appropriate name to call you… Your Highness."

"Jim—"

"How's your bondmate?" Jim asked, still not looking at Spock. "Is her mind as dynamic as mine?"

Spock stiffened. "You are jealous."

Jim laughed, the sound echoing in the empty corridor. "Are you out of your mind? Me? Jealous? Right." 

"You are jealous," Spock repeated in a clipped voice, sounding like he was trying to convince himself of this.

Jim snorted a laugh. "Sorry to disappoint, but I'm not. I'm not pining over you like some lovesick idiot." He shrugged. "It was nice while it lasted, but there's plenty of fish out there—"

Spock shoved him against the wall, pinning him tightly.

"Let me go," Jim said, glaring at Spock. He was breathing hard — they both were — and told himself not to dare get a boner, because Spock would feel it and then he’d know

Spock's eyes were roaming over his face, as if he was unable to decide where to look.

"Jim," he said, voice hoarse, raising his hand to stroke Jim's cheek.

"Let me go," Jim repeated, not looking at Spock's lips nor enjoying the feel of his body. He was stronger than that, dammit. He could resist it, because it was wrong on so many levels now — Spock was the crown prince and he was fucking bonded. Jim wasn't that kind of guy.

"Jim," Spock said again, a desperate look crossing his face, before he crushed his mouth to Jim's. 

Jim wanted to kick himself, because his traitorous hands were tugging Spock closer instead of pushing him away, and why the hell he was moaning and kissing back? Biting his lips savagely, Spock ground his cock against Jim's through the layers of fabric. Jesus fucking Christ, it was — he couldn't— they shouldn't. It was wrong — it was fucking wrong.

With an incredible force of will, Jim pushed Spock away.

"Fuck off," he gasped, breathing heavily.

Spock didn't look like he'd heard him at all and crushed their mouths together again, forcing his tongue into Jim's mouth, kissing him roughly and angrily, holding Jim's wrists in an iron grip. Jim closed his lips around Spock's tongue with a full intention to bite it, but ended up sucking on it greedily. Sliding a finger under Jim's waistband, Spock rubbed his crack, and the last of Jim's self-control was gone.

They stumbled into the nearest empty room, kissing and pawing at each other. A minute later, Jim found himself lying on Spock's robe, naked below his waist with Spock's tongue in his hole. He was gasping and whimpering, writhing against Spock's tongue. Not enough, not enough, not enough

"Fuck, enough," Jim croaked out, spreading his legs and pulling his knees up. He jerked Spock on top of him. "C'mere."

He was uncomfortable as hell lying on a stone floor, but he didn't give a flying fuck, because Spock was pushing into him, the familiar feeling of being stretched very much welcomed and wanted.

Spock pushed into him fully with a hoarse groan, his eyes rolling into the back of his head for a moment before he snapped them to Jim's face. Staring at Jim, he thrust into him again and again, his dick hitting Jim’s prostate mercilessly, making Jim moan and gasp. It was good, it was amazing, but somehow it wasn't enough. He wanted more.

"C'mon," Jim gasped, moving to meet Spock's thrusts. Spock's eyes cleared a bit before he leaned down, practically bending Jim in half, and kissed him roughly. 

Jim sighed as he felt Spock's fingers on his face, and then... Jim frowned. He could feel Spock, but the meld was too weak and shallow—just a touch of minds, not the deep connection he was used to.

"Deeper," he demanded, digging his fingers into Spock's ass.

Spock thrust into him hard, making Jim groan. "I cannot," Spock said roughly, quickening his thrusts. "I am blocking...the deeper parts of my mind, where..."

Where his bond to T'Rena was.

Jim closed his eyes, his stomach twisting. He moved Spock's hand away, breaking the meld.

"Fuck me, then. Harder," he said gruffly, and Spock did until there were no thoughts anymore — just Spock's hot kisses all over his face and the cock pounding into him.

When he felt Spock shudder and come into him, Jim held onto Spock and didn't let go, even when he tried to pull out.

"Jim, you are still aroused," Spock gasped out against his cheek. "Let me—"

Jim shook his head. "Don't. Stay in me. Just stay, all right?"

Spock didn't move, and Jim pulled him tighter to himself, enjoying the weight of his body and his familiar scent in his nostrils.

They stayed in the same position for five minutes or so, not speaking, when Jim felt Spock's cock harden in him once more. Spock started moving again, this time more slowly and carefully, and Jim sighed, clutching him closer. He hadn't quite lost his erection, and now he was fully hard again.

"Yeah," Jim murmured, pressing a kiss to Spock's cheek. "Yeah."

His eyes were burning, and he closed them.

~~*~~


As the time of Bones and T'Pring's arrival approached, they finally pulled away to make themselves presentable — or as presentable as was possible, considering that they had spent over an hour having sex on the floor of some classroom.

The sex left Jim feeling…weird. They almost hadn't spoken to each other. Part of the time was spent just kissing and having slow, lazy sex; the other part, having hard, angry sex. 

Jim looked at Spock, who stood by the window with his back to him. "What are you doing here, Spock?" 

"I applied for a research position."

Jim sighed, leaning against a desk. "I guess I'll have to apply for another university now."

"You do not have to leave the Academy because of me. If you are afraid that I will use my title to force myself on you, I assure you—"

Jim just snorted. You won't have to force yourself on me, Spock, and that's what I'm afraid of. I don't wanna be your fucking mistress, or kept boy.

Spock's back was so straight that his posture looked almost painful. "It will not—"

"Happen again?" Jim said with a scoff. "It always happens again."   Jim rubbed his forehead. "You cheated on your bondmate. And I slept with a taken guy."  His lips twisted. Turned out, he wasn't that different from his father. "I fucking hate you." 

Spock said nothing, but Jim saw him flinch.

What's wrong with us? Jim thought wearily, staring at the floor. You have a new bondmate, and I'm not that kind of guy. I won't be that kind of guy.

He touched the medallion through his tee. "Maybe it would be better if I just returned to my own universe."

Spock was next to him in a heartbeat. "No," he growled, gripping Jim's shoulders hard. "You will not leave."

Jim blinked, then narrowed his eyes. He hadn't really meant it when he said that, but Spock had no right to tell him what to do. "Quit ordering me around."

Spock pressed their foreheads together. "Do not leave. Please," he whispered, their breathing mixing. "Even if you are not… I cannot imagine living in a world without you."

Jim closed his eyes. "Shut up," he whispered. "Please."

"I cannot," Spock said, nuzzling Jim’s skin. "I know that it is illogical, but I often find myself thinking... wishing I could have you — all of you — only to myself, forever. I think I—" 

"Shut the fuck up," Jim cut him off, his chest aching. He jerked away from Spock's arms, angry again. "You're fucking bonded — you're almost married — so don't you fucking dare— Don't you fucking dare, you hear me?" Taking a deep breath, Jim tucked his hands under his armpits. "We need to avoid each other. This thing is fucking with my mind, Spock. I don't want to be 'the other woman' here. I don't want to be like my dad—and I don't you to be like my dad, too. You have a bondmate. In less than two weeks, you'll have a wife."

Spock said nothing. Jim bit his lip and cast him a look. Then stared. Spock stared back.

The seconds ticked by.

"I guess…" Jim shifted from one foot to the other. "I'll go. Bones and T'Pring are probably here. Bye." But he didn't move. As if in a frame-by-frame playback, he watched Spock reach out and brush his hand. It lasted only a moment or two before Spock jerked his hand away, clenching it into a fist. A muscle in his jaw twitched.

"Go," he said hoarsely, averting his gaze.

Jim stared at Spock's tense features when a sudden thought hit him. 

God, I love you. I love you so fucking much. 

He almost laughed out loud, because, as it turned out - he was that cliché. It was definitely the most stupid thing he'd ever done, but there was no point in denying it anymore — he did love Spock. Strangely, admitting it to himself made him feel better. Yes, he was heartbroken and he kind of wanted to curl into his bed and cry like a little boy, but it wouldn't kill him. He was stronger than that. 

Maybe one day, when he was old and grey, he would look back with a smile and tell his grandchildren that, many decades ago, he’d had an affair with their King. After all, there was the love of his life somewhere in this universe, right? Q had promised him that.

"Go," Spock repeated tightly.

And Jim went. He didn't look back.


~~*~~
 


"Already regretting your decision?" 

It was a good thing Jim was sitting, because he was positive he'd be on the ground otherwise. Looking around and making sure that the garden was empty, Jim pulled the medallion out, and opening it, stared at the hologram of Q's head.

"You," Jim said flatly. He hadn't expected to hear from Q again. "What do you want?"

Q smiled coyly. "The question is: what do you want?"

"Tell me what you want, or fuck off. I'm not in the mood for your games."

"Oh, I can see that you aren't in the mood. Any particular reason?"

"No."

Q smirked. "I think you're lying, James."

Jim pressed his lips together. "If you already know, why are you asking? Get lost."

Q tsked at him. "Why so rude and sulky? Oh wait, I know — the crown prince is getting married tomorrow, isn't he?"

Jim narrowed his eyes. "Are you spying on me, you—?”

"'Spying' is such an ugly word," Q remarked, shaking his head. "Let's just say that I have a certain… healthy interest in my past projects. To tell the truth, things went not at all like I expected."

Jim snorted. "You and me both, then."

Cocking his head, Q looked at him strangely. "Do you regret your wish?"

Jim raised his eyebrows. "Even if I do, so what? You want to give my old life back?"

"Do you regret your wish?" Q repeated.
.
Staring at him, Jim thought of Spock, Amanda, Bones, Jo, even T'Pring. "No."

Q gave him a pensive look. "And you aren't missing your family?"

Jim snorted. "It's not like I had one in the first place. I saw Dad every few months; Sam, a few times a year; and Mom…" He smiled crookedly. "I bet she's relieved that she doesn't have to see me every day.” He paused. “Actually, how did my parents take it?"

"They think you just ran away to some big city, since you apparently told your mother that you were sick of her house and Iowa. They don't seem to be very worried."

"And why am I not surprised?" Jim muttered, but while a part of him was hurt that they didn't care enough, mostly he was just relieved.

He sat there in silence, his thoughts chaotic and eyes on the evening sky. In a few minutes, it would be completely dark; the trees were already barely visible. Jim thought of the garden that had changed his life so drastically and felt his lips twist. It was hard to believe that it had been just a month and a half since that night in the garden. Hell, he'd been on Vulcan for two months, but it felt like he’d been living here his whole life. 

"So, no regrets?" 

Started, Jim looked back at the holo. Because of the silence, he'd assumed Q had left.

"Nope," Jim said. Sure, he wasn't the happiest he could be, but he was content with his life. He had real friends and plans for the future, which was more than Jim could say about his old life. "Life's pretty good here."

Q looked pensive. "But you aren’t happy."

Jim snorted a laugh. "Since when you care about my happiness? You promised me another life and someone to love." He forced a chuckle. "You kept your promise. It's my own fault that I was so vague. But who the fuck knew that…" Jim covered his eyes, shaking his head. "So fucking stupid."

"I'm sorry."

Shocked, Jim looked back at him. "Was that you? You said you were sorry?"

Q winced, looking uncomfortable. "'I guess 'sorry' isn't the right word. I'm disappointed, James. I feel like I failed. I was so sure that this universe was right for you, that things would work out -- but it seems it was one of the rare cases when I made a mistake. I probably should've chosen another universe for you."

Jim snorted. "Well, at least there's the 'love of my life' somewhere in this universe and I'll have my happy-ever-after." Somehow, the thought wasn't comforting at all. Right now, he sort of didn't give a fuck about some person who was supposedly his life partner in many other universes. He had trouble imagining being with — loving — someone other than Spock.

Q got a shifty-eyed look.

"What?" Jim said, narrowing his eyes.

"Well..." Q said with a pinched expression. "Hold on. I want to show you something." A moment later, a holo of two men, talking to each other, appeared in the air. 

Jim blinked, realizing that it was Spock and him, both at least five years older. Spock was wearing a blue uniform shirt while he was wearing gold. They were on the bridge of a starship. The other Kirk was grinning at his Spock, clearly teasing him. Spock raised an eyebrow — the gesture so achingly familiar that Jim felt his throat close — and a corner of his lips twitched up as he eyed the other Kirk.

Before Jim could ask Q what the fuck it was, the holo changed and he was looking at another Spock and another Kirk. Their uniforms were black, and this Kirk was wearing glasses that he put aside before straddling Spock's lap and giving him an open-mouthed kiss. 

The holo changed again, now showing Spock, clad in black, sitting in a classroom behind a desk. Kirk, wearing red uniform, was seated on Spock's desk, and from the look of it, was flirting with him. Spock stood up, and placing his hands on Kirk's waist tenderly, lifted him off the desk and put him onto the floor. 

The holo shifted once more, showing a Spock and a Kirk sleeping in each other's arms, naked, Kirk's head resting in the crook of Spock's shoulder—

"Stop," Jim whispered. The holo disappeared from the air. Taking a shaky breath, Jim looked back at Q. "What the hell was that?" 

"Those were your lives in other universes, James," said Q, shrugging. "I thought— Well, obviously, I was wrong. Maybe it's for a reason there was no James Kirk in his universe and there was no Spock in yours."

Jim had never wanted to punch someone as much as he did right now. "Why the hell did you show me that? If you wanted to rub in my face that in every other life other Jim Kirks can have their Spocks and only can't, well, congratu-fucking-lations! You made me feel even shittier than I already did."

Q winced. "I'm really sorry, kid. I sort of like you. Have a good life."

"Fuck you," Jim snapped, and, pulling the medallion off his neck, threw it into the pond.

Screw Q, screw other lives and other Kirks, and screw Destiny. He was going to have an amazing life, just to prove it to them.

And if his eyes were wet, no one was here to see.

Chapter Text

Spock's wedding was broadcast live by every channel in the Kingdom. In a masochistic fit, Jim decided to watch. 

It was only Jo, Bones and him in front of the main TV, because every member of the Fourth House had gone to the wedding. Jim had a strong suspicion that Bones had stayed behind only because he got into his head that Jim was going to cut his wrists or do something equally melodramatic and stupid, which, frankly, insulted Jim to no end.

"You should've gone with T'Pring," Jim said for the hundredth time, pulling Jo into his lap. "I might be stupidly in love with him, but I'm not suicidal, Bones. Also, do you really think that I'd make Jo deal with all the blood and mess?"

McCoy just snorted, his gaze on the TV.

"Pretty," Jo said, pointing at the screen.

"Yeah," Jim murmured. The ceremony was held in the Grand Hall of the Chavantal Palace. Even though Jim had been there dozens of times, he could barely recognize the room with all the decorations. The room looked dazzling and was rife with beautifully clothed guests. T'Pau and Amanda were already present, as well as T'Rena. 

T'Rena. 

Jim stared at her perfect dress, perfect figure, perfectly styled hair, perfect poker-face — everything so perfect that it was downright nauseating. No, Jim wasn't jealous; he was angry on Spock's behalf. This was supposed to be Spock's lifelong bondmate? Really? What the hell was Sarek thinking? Spock needed someone different, someone who'd tell him when he had a stick up his ass, to make him live a little. Hell, even T'Pring would have been a better choice—at least she could out-logic Spock like no one's business and had the guts to tell him when he was doing something stupid.

"That girl is so fake," Bones muttered, shoving a handful of popcorn into his mouth.

"Father, you shouldn't eat popcorn in the living-room," Jo pointed out, her tiny brows furrowed.

McCoy's look of horror was almost comical. "Don't ever call me 'father', princess. It's daddy, dammit! I'll kill T'Pring, I swear."

Jim snickered, pulling the giggling girl closer. "You did that on purpose, didn't you, baby?" he murmured into her ear. 

Jo put a thumb into her mouth. "I dunno what you mean, Uncle Jam."

Jim kissed her on the nose. "You aren't fooling your Uncle Jam, sugar."

Jo stuck her tongue at him. Smiling, Jim tickled her side and she giggled.

"You'd be a great dad one day, you know," Bones commented, staring at the screen.

Jim looked down at the golden-haired girl in his arms and smiled a little. "Maybe."

"You know, there are ways male couples can have kids—heirs—these days," McCoy said nonchalantly, still looking at the TV screen.

"Bones," Jim warned.

"What? Just saying." 

"Did you forget the part about him being the crown prince and me being a nobody? Or the part about him being bonded to a Vulcan princess who he's going to marry in a few minutes?"

"I know, but—"

"What about T'Pring and you, Bones?" Jim interrupted. 

McCoy's shoulders tensed up. "What about T'Pring and me?" 

Jim snorted. "Pot, kettle, black?"

His jaw clenched, McCoy was silent for a few moments. "It's different."

Jim chuckled. "Yeah, it's different. She isn't the goddamn heir to the throne. She doesn't have a bondmate. She's so stupidly in love with you that no Vulcan poker face can hide it. She's crazy about your daughter. Her family pretty much reconciled themselves to the thought that, sooner or later, you'd be a family member—"

"What?" McCoy cut him off, his jaw slack. "Bullshit!"

Jim raised his eyebrows. "Bones, they already treat you like a family member. Have you ever met a forced worker who was treated with so much respect and was given the kind of privileges you have? For fuck's sake, I caught Jo a few days ago referring to T'Miris as 'grandma', and the old bitch didn't even blink."

"No shit, really?" Bones looked shocked.

"Yeah, and—" Jim cut himself short as he glanced at the screen and realized that the ceremony had already began. Spock, wearing ceremonial Vulcan robes and a crown, stood next to T'Rena in front of T'Pau. The Matriarch of the First Royal House was speaking in an archaic dialect of Vulcan, and Jim could only understand bits of it.

The Grand Hall was deadly silent but for T'Pau's voice; everyone seemed to be holding his or her breath. Sarek, wearing his dark mantle and crown, was seated in his throne with Lady Amanda sitting beside him. She looked a little pale, but as beautiful as always. 

Spock and T'Rena knelt before T'Pau onto the thick white rug. T'Pau's hands reached for their meld points. Jim swallowed, his stomach protesting.

The camera zoomed in on Spock and T'Rena's faces. T'Rena's expression was impassive, her dark eyes staring straight ahead. Spock's face was blank.

"A match made in heaven," Bones commented, snorting.

T'Pau said something Jim didn't understand and Spock and T'Rena closed their eyes.

"What's happening, Uncle Jam?" 

"T'Pau's bonding them, baby."

"You're hurting me," Jo complained. Startled, Jim loosened his grip around Jo's small body.

"Sorry," Jim whispered, nuzzling her hair. "Sorry."

"What the...?" Bones muttered and Jim's gaze snapped back to the screen.

Spock was on his feet, his hands clasped behind his back. He looked shaken. A murmur ran through the crowd.

"Spock," said T'Pau in modern Vulcan. "What are you doing? Kneel."

Spock's jaw tightened. "No."

Another, louder, murmur ran through the crowd.

Jim stared at Spock, his heart pounding in his throat. "What...?"

"Spock," T'Pau said, her voice steely. "Kneel."

The flashes of cameras were going off like crazy in Spock's face as he repeated, "No." He turned to T'Rena, who actually had an expression on her face — of shock and.... relief? "My apologies for causing you offence, but I cannot bond with you."

Audible gasps filled the Hall. The camera zoomed in on Sarek's furious face before shifting to Amanda, who had a small, barely noticeable smile on her lips. Even though T'Pau's face was blank, Jim didn't miss a pensive expression in her eyes.

"Spock," Sarek said sharply, making a move to stand up, but Amanda caught his arm and gave him a pleading look.

The King took a deep breath and faced the gathered crowd. With an admirable self-control and dignity, he grit out, "I apologize. As soon as this... misunderstanding is resolved, you will be informed of the new date for the bonding ceremony."

"There will be no bonding ceremony, Sire," Spock said firmly, meeting Sarek's gaze with a pale but determined face. "I regret giving you such a short notice, but this is my final decision."

"You are not of age, Spock," Sarek said icily. "It is not your decision to make."

"Indeed," Spock said. "However, you cannot force a bond on me." Something flickered in his eyes. "After all, that is the worst kind of crime, is it not?"

Sarek pressed his lips together before opening his mouth to reply. However, before he could say anything, a Vulcan in very rich clothes stepped forward.

"Your Highness, you cannot permit your son to do it," he said rather angrily, addressing Sarek. "He cannot and will not abandon my daughter. They are bonded and he is bound to make T'Rena his Princess. If he does not, it will be a mortal offence to the Third House and we will demand a k'rakhiya."

There were shocked gasps and murmurs of confusion from the crowd, growing louder every moment.

Sarek stood up, his face impassive but eyes murderous. "Selek, I advise you to choose your words carefully." He glanced at the crowd. "This discussion is not suited for a public setting. Mr. Sereek."

And the screen went black.

Jim looked at Bones, his jaw slack.

McCoy snorted. "The Royal Hobgoblin does have some balls after all! Damn; I don't wanna be in his place right now."

Jim nodded dumbly, unable to believe what had just happened. Spock had refused to be bonded to T'Rena. While, rationally, Jim understood that it meant nothing for him — for them — he wasn’t exactly… upset. 

"What does that k'rakhiya thing mean? Everyone seemed shocked when Selek said it."

McCoy's face went grim. "It's something like a duel. I'm not sure, to be honest — it’s pretty archaic. Hasn’t been used in centuries."

Jim gaped at him. "What? Are they insane?"

Bones shrugged. "Tell me about it. Vulcans have some incredibly stupid and fucking illogical traditions they won't give up." 

He pulled his communicator out. "I'll hail T'Pring and ask her what the hell is going on there."

"Yeah, you do that," Jim said, a knot of worry and anxiety forming in his stomach.

"Yup, we saw that," McCoy said into his communicator. "Yeah, so— Wait, what? What the fuck is going on there? Damn it, T'Pring— What’s that sound? I can't hear you. Oh, for god's sake— Yeah, all right. I'll hail you later."

"So?" Jim said impatiently.

McCoy frowned, rubbing his forehead. "I don't know, Jim... It was pretty noisy and I could barely hear her. I caught something about Stonn and Spock."

Jim went cold. "Stonn is the same guy they suspected in— I'm going to the Chavantal Palace." Jim gave Jo to her dad.

"No, you aren't. T'Pring will call us later."

Jim shook his head and ran towards the exit. "I can't just sit on my ass while there's something involving Stonn and Spock going on — and that duel thing. I'll take your hovercar, Bones."

"You don't have a license, kid!" McCoy yelled, running after him into the parking lot. "Wait for me, dammit! I'll drive you."

Jim was about to protest when he realized that he didn't have the keys.

Bones shoved Jo into Jim's arms and climbed into the driver's seat. Sighing, Jim took the passenger's seat, settling Jo into his lap.

The ride to the Chavantal Palace seemed unbearably long. Trying to distract himself, Jim switched the radio on, but regretted it immediately, because every goddamn station was discussing the wedding. Jim switched the radio off and the rest of the journey they spent in silence. 

"Shit," Bones muttered and Jim looked up, frowning. Three hovercars surrounded them.

"What's up?"

"Police," McCoy muttered. 

Jim's heart skipped a beat. "You think something happened?"

"I doubt it. Most likely they're just keeping the paps off of the Royal House's property." McCoy looked at the small screen. "Yup, they're asking for our identification code and why we’re here." He typed something on the console.

"What’re you replying?"

McCoy shrugged. "Mostly the truth. I told them that we're here to pick up T'Pring. The identification code belongs to the Fourth House. Hopefully, they won't ask for any details." 

Jim breathed out as the police hovercars flew away.

As soon as the hovercar landed, Jim jumped out and ran towards the backdoor, Jo still in his arms. The guard standing by the door frowned, putting a hand on the phaser in his holster but not pulling it out. "No one is allowed in for security reasons." 

Jim winced on the inside, recognizing Sereek. Great.

"Sereek, please. I used to live here, don't you remember?"

"I do remember. However, you do not live here anymore, Mr. Kirk."

Jim sighed in exasperation, trying to come up with something. 

"Please, Mr. Sereek?" Jo said softly, putting a thumb into her mouth. Jim blinked. He'd almost forgotten she was with him.

Sereek stared at her, looking hesitant. Jim could practically see his resolution shattering and grinned on the inside. Even Vulcans weren't immune to Jo's charm.

"Yeah," Jim said, putting on his best I'm-innocent-I-swear look. "For God's sake, I'm with a child. What kind of a terrorist would bring a toddler with them?"

Sereek opened his mouth to reply, and Jim said quickly, "Yup, a very illogical one. So you're letting us in, right?" He smiled brightly. Jo, bless her soul, smiled brightly, too.

Sereek didn't stand a chance, really.



~~*~~


"What are you doing here, James?" was the first thing T'Pring said when Jim stumbled across her.
Wincing inwardly, Jim gave her Jo, hoping that she would work her magic again. T'Pring's expression softened as she pulled Jo closer to her chest.

"What's going on?" Jim asked, glancing down the empty corridor. "Where's everyone?" Where's Spock?

"Most of the guests have departed, my family included. You did not answer my question, James. What are you doing here? The King will be displeased if he finds out. And where is Leonard?"

"Where’s Spock?” Jim was still looking around frantically. "You said something about Stonn. What the hell is going on?"

"Language," T'Pring said, covering Jo's ears. "There is much that has transpired in thirty-seven minutes since the end of the ceremony. Selek was adamant that if Spock did not marry his daughter, he had the full right fork'rakhiya, which of course Sarek could not allow, since Spock is the heir to the throne. Having left no choice, the King conceded to Selek's demands and was pushing Spock to marry T'Rena when Stonn burst in."

T'Pring frowned. "I do not know how he managed to slip into the palace unrecognized. But Stonn declared that he would not allow Spock have T'Rena. Needless to say, his words caused another stir. It turned out that Stonn and T'Rena have been involved for a number of years—"

"Really?" Jim said incredulously. God, this was getting ridiculous. It was a fucking soap opera.

"Indeed." T'Pring's eyebrows furrowed. "I suppose Stonn's animosity towards Spock makes much more sense now. It turned out that Selek knew of his daughter's relationship with Stonn and did everything in his power to put an end to it, but T'Rena refused – which, I must admit, has made me respect her more."

T'Pring's face darkened. "What is more, Stonn revealed that it was Selek who slipped that compound into Spock's meal."

Jim's jaw went slack. "What? But why?"

"According to Stonn, Selek wished to artificially cause Spock's pon farr so that he would have to marry T'Rena as soon as possible before she could… do something unwise."

Like get pregnant. Jim frowned. "But why would he do it to his own daughter? It's not like Stonn is a goddamn servant. Isn't Stonn from a rich, influential family, too?"

T'Pring gave him a look. "Selek is a very ambitious person, and while Stonn is the Second House heir, he is not a future King, James."

"Oh." Jim thought for a few moments. "So what happened when all of this was revealed?"

"Sarek was furious. The King ordered the guards to arrest Selek, but they're keeping it quiet for a while until they can come up with a way to formulate charges against him without everyone finding out about Spock's feral state and the bond he forced on you. The Royal House doesn't need another scandal right now."

Jim's frown deepened. "But why did Stonn wait until the wedding? Why didn't he say anything before?"

T'Pring pressed her lips together briefly. "While Spock was absent, Stonn had no reason to reveal the truth, because Selek changed his attitude towards him when it became obvious that his plan had failed and he needed another bondmate for his daughter. When Spock returned, Selek changed his mind again, forbidding Stonn to see T'Rena. I believe Stonn kept quiet until the very last moment because he was scared that he would be accused of conspiring against the crown, and he indeed can be accused of it, since he knew of Selek's crime and kept silent."

"What a coward." 

"Well, in the end, he admitted everything. I believe that he does have a strong attachment to T'Rena."

Jim narrowed his eyes as a sudden thought crossed his mind. "Wait, how do you know all of this? I'll never believe that Sarek allowed everyone to witness this conversation."

Was T'Pring blushing? 

"It is of no relevance," she said evenly, avoiding his gaze.

Jim smirked. "You were eavesdropping."

"It was only logical to—"

"Of course it was," Jim agreed with a straight face.

T'Pring gave him an icy look before looking down at the little girl in her arms. "Joanna is asleep. I will take her home. Is Leonard here?"

"Yup. He's probably waiting by his hovercar. Go."

T'Pring raised an eyebrow. "Are you not coming with us?"

Jim rubbed the back of his neck. "Um…"

"James."

"I know, all right? I know that it's stupid and dangerous, but I wanna see him. He's always moody when he has just a minor argument with his dad, so he's probably feeling like shit right now. I need to see him."

T'Pring eyed his face before inclining her head. "Very well, but please attempt to prevent Sarek from seeing you. I believe Spock is in his quarters. Do you wish for us to wait for you?"

"No. I'll find a ride back."

T'Pring nodded and walked away, leaving Jim very much on his own.

~~*~~
 


Spock wasn't in his quarters. Jim searched the entire palace and was about to give up when an idea crossed his mind.

Of course, he thought and headed to the left wing — to their garden.

There was no force field anymore, but otherwise, the garden hadn't changed in the least, and Jim walked down the familiar dark path, feeling a strong sense of a deja-vu -- even though no feral Vulcans attacked him this time. 

He almost wasn't surprised to find Spock sitting by the pool, still wearing his ceremonial robes. He quietly sat down next to him and looked at the still water. There was a reflection of Delta Vega on its surface.

Spock didn't acknowledge his presence at all, and Jim turned his head to look at him. He found Spock's eyes closed, his breathing even and deep. He was meditating. 

Jim took the chance to look, eyeing Spock's features. It was probably pathetic of him, but there was something comforting and happy in just being so close to Spock. The tension Jim hadn't known about left his body, all his senses becoming clearer and sharper. His fingers were itching to touch and Jim curled them into fists. He knew he should probably go. Nothing had changed. Yes, Spock hadn't married T'Rena, but he was still the crown prince, and Jim was still a nobody. 

He snorted. How often had he told it himself? It was like he was physically unable to keep away from Spock, always drawn back, like an addict needing a fix.

"Jim?"

Startled, Jim met Spock's eyes, realizing that they were open. It was hard to see the expression of Spock's eyes, but he clearly was surprised — his jaw was a little slack, forehead wrinkled.

"Hey," Jim said with a faint smile, trying to slow down his heartbeat. 

Spock's hands twitched slightly towards him before Spock put them back onto his knees.

"Why are you here?" Spock said, clearing his throat.

Jim looked back at the pool. He picked up a small stone and threw it into the water, watching the ripples move outwards. "I watched the bonding ceremony live. Came to see if your dad had killed you."

He felt Spock's gaze on his face. "He did not."

Jim chuckled. "I wouldn't have been surprised if he had. You're such a drama queen, you know that? You really have to do it with the entire world witnessing?"

Spock said nothing for a few moments. 

Finally, he spoke, "When T'Pau started bonding T'Rena's mind to mine, it was… I could not do it, Jim."

Jim picked up another stone and threw it into the water. It fell with a plop. "Why not?"

"The touch of her mind was…"

"Repulsive?"

"No… alien. I did not wish to have her presence where…" Spock trailed off.

"Where our bond was?" Jim murmured, tossing another stone into the pool. 

"Where you were." Spock paused. "When we were bonded, you were like… a better extension of me. I foolishly assumed that every marital bond was like ours, and that the new bond would be enough to make my marriage bearable."

Spock let out a breath that sounded almost like a snort. "I could not have been more wrong. I could not bear even two seconds of T'Rena's mind touching mine in that way. I was able to bear the preliminary bond by blocking her, but it is impossible to block a marital bond completely — it is always there, in the back of one's mind."

They went silent.

"What now?" Jim asked after a little while. "T'Pring told me about T'Rena, Selek, and Stonn, but what is your family going to do? Sarek can't possibly be happy with you."

Spock stretched on his back, resting his head on his folded arms. "No, he is not."

Jim looked down at him. Delta Vega's light was enough for Jim to see that Spock was staring up at the dark sky.

"Do you regret it?" Jim said quietly, eyeing the strong, masculine line of Spock's jaw; the slope of his cheekbones; the curve of his lips. He almost smiled at himself, remembering how deep in denial he‘d been, trying to convince himself that he was attracted to Spock only because of the bond. If Jim was completely honest with himself, Spock probably wasn't the first guy he’d been attracted to. Looking back, it was kind of obvious that he'd just suppressed that side of his sexuality. Goddamn daddy issues.

"No," Spock said quietly. "I am deeply ashamed that I caused so much negative attention to the Royal House… but I have no regrets. In fact, I am… relieved. No matter what my father and T'Pau decide, what is done is done. What is, is." 

"They'll just pick another princess for you." Jim was impressed with himself for managing to keep the jealousy out of his voice.

Spock looked at him. "It is likely."

Jim smiled. "And maybe her mind won't be as alien as T'Rena's."

Spock eyed him thoughtfully. "I miss the time when I could tell what you felt," he said quietly.

Keeping the smile on his face, Jim shrugged. "What do you mean? I'm an open book. I don’t have a perpetual poker face."

Spock stared at him. "I do not understand you. Sometimes I think…"

"What?" Jim asked, stretching on his back next to Spock. The ground was pleasantly warm under him, grass thick enough to make it comfortable. He looked up at the starry sky. The constellations were different, and there was no way anyone could mistaken Delta Vega for Earth’s Moon, but, otherwise, it would be pretty easy to pretend that he was on Earth.

Only, Jim didn't want to pretend that he was on Earth. Actually there was no place in both universes he would rather be than here — lying next to Spock under the Vulcan sky and listening to his even breathing. 

Goddammit, Jim thought, chuckling. He had it bad.

"What is so humorous?"

Jim smiled faintly. "It's just… Life is a funny thing, isn't it? Just a few months ago I was an average jock in an average American small town. Now, my life seems to be turned into a fucking soap opera and I'm a servant harboring a forbidden love for a prince—"

Jim cut himself short, realizing what he'd just said. 

Spock seemed to stop breathing beside him. 

Jim groaned into his hands, breaking the awkward silence. "Can we please pretend that I never said that?"

"No," Spock said with a weird inflection in his voice. Propping himself on an elbow, he pushed Jim's hands off his face. "Jim, are you— Do you..."

Jim let out a laugh, the sound harsh in the quiet garden. "My, aren't we eloquent today?"

"Jim," Spock interrupted urgently, looming over him. 

It was unfair. Spock could most certainly see his eyes in Delta Vega's light, but Spock's face was in the shadow. 

"Do you...?" Spock tried again.

Jim snorted, his heart beating like crazy. "Do you what? Love you? Like you didn't know it already."

Spock went silent again. Jim couldn't even hear his breathing. 

"I did not," he said flatly.

Jim's mouth fell open. "What? You didn't? How could you not know?"

"You have never said as much," Spock said stiffly.

Jim's eyebrows crept up. It felt like he always acted like a lovesick idiot around Spock. How could Spock not notice?

"Yeah, I've never said it bluntly, but I dropped plenty of hints. I assumed you knew. Why did you think I kept returning over and over?"

"Jim, you have never returned. It was who kept coming back to you."

Jim frowned, thinking it over. From Spock's perspective, it really might look like Spock pursued him relentlessly, and Jim just gave in or pushed him away. It had been Spock who initiated the Kitchen Incident; it'd been Spock who refused to let go of him in the hovercar; it'd been Spock who kept returning to the Fourth House's manor despite the King's orders; it'd been Spock who chased after him at the academy.

It had always been Spock. 

And Jim had told him that he hated him. Shit.

"You really had no idea?" 

"Negative," Spock said, his voice cracking. "I did not know that my affections were reciprocated."

Jim's jaw went slack. His mind reeling, he peered up into Spock's face, trying to discern his expression. Was he serious? Was Spock really telling him that he loved him? That he wasn’t just attracted to him, but that he loved him?

"Affections? You mean… you love me?"

Spock brushed Jim's cheek slightly with his knuckles. Jim batted the hand away, shivering. "Nope; we both know what will happen if you keep doing it. We need to talk, and we can't talk during sex." 

"On the contrary," Spock said, his voice tinged with amusement. "You usually do quite a bit of talking during sexual intercourse."

Jim scowled at him, trying to ignore his traitorous dick straining his pants, but it was so hard. They hadn't touched each other in weeks. He missed Spock, and he wanted nothing more but to wrap his legs and arms around him and never let go. But now wasn't the time for that.

"Spock. Answer the question."

Spock stroked his cheek with his thumb. "I do," he admitted. "I was under the impression that you were aware of it, and that you kept insisting that it was 'just sex' because my affections were unwanted."

Spock leaned down and pressed his nose against Jim's cheek. He inhaled deeply. "Perhaps it is not very Vulcan of me to admit having such emotions, but I suppose I will never be the perfect Vulcan my father wishes for me to be. And I find it somewhat pointless, since you already know me. You know that I do… feel." 

He pressed a kiss to Jim's cheek. "I cherish thee," he said, his voice hoarse. "The sentiment may be illogical, but-- sometimes I feel that I cannot breathe without you." 

Jim blinked rapidly to force the tears back. He hadn't known it was possible to feel so happy and so miserable all at once.

He forced a laugh. "Why are you telling me this? It's not like it changes anything. It doesn't matter that I love you, and it doesn't matter that you love me. Your princely duties come first, right?"

Spock pulled away a little to look at his face. Jim could see that Spock's eyebrows were furrowed. "What gave you this impression?" he said slowly, sounding perplexed.

"What gave me this impression?” Jim snorted. “Maybe the fact that you agreed to marry T'Rena despite loving me and everything? Obviously, I'm good for loving behind the doors, but I'm not good enough to be shown to the public—"

Spock kissed him hard, and of course Jim kissed him back, angry, desperate and needy.

Spock tore his mouth away and hissed, "Cease speaking this… nonsense. You are more than 'good enough.' I am not ashamed of you. If I knew that my feelings were not unrequited, I would have never conceded to marry someone else."

Jim stared at him. "Are you seriously saying that you'd throw away everything for me? That you're ready to face your father's disappointment?"

"It would be a falsehood to say that I do not care at all about my father's opinion, but I have already disappointed him today." Spock pressed a chaste kiss to his forehead. "I am seventy-six-point-seven percent certain that I would be disinherited, but I find that I do not care if I can have you."

Jim smiled despite himself, feeling almost giddy with happiness. "Yeah?"

Spock rubbed his nose against Jim's. "Indeed."

Jim touched Spock's lips slightly, treading his fingers through Spock's hair. "But what about the kingdom? You're the crown prince. You don't have any siblings."

"Yes, I do not have siblings, but I do have twelve cousins of the First House's blood. Our line will not die if I am to be disinherited."

"And you won't regret it at all?" Jim whispered, breathing in Spock's scent. "You've been preparing to rule the kingdom all your life. It's a lot to give up." He smiled. "Not that I'm complaining or anything, of course. I'm not a saint -- I'm not gonna sacrifice my happiness for the kingdom's sake. Maybe I'm selfish, but…” 

He took a deep breath. “That’s not the point. I trust your judgment, and if you tell me that you won't regret it, it's good enough for me. But give it a good thought before making your decision, okay?" 

Spock sat up, pulling Jim into sitting position as well. He took Jim's hands in his own. 

Confused, Jim stared at Spock, glad that Spock's face was no longer in the shadows. Spock's expression was serious, his eyes soft.

"I will not regret it." He squeezed Jim's hands before lifting them to his lips and kissing the fingertips.

Spock met his eyes. "Will you honor me?"

Jim blinked, then blinked again. 

"Are you asking me to marry you?" he said with an incredulous laugh.

"If it is too soon, I understand," Spock said quickly. His thumb stroked Jim's wrist. "I once already forced a marital bond on you, and I in no way mean to pressure you into it again. I want it to be your decision—"

Grinning, Jim looped his arms around Spock’s neck and kissed him hard. Spock's arms came up around Jim. 

"I presume that was a ‘yes’?" Spock said when they finally had to part for air.

"You bet," Jim said with a smile, leaning his forehead against Spock's. "Some people would probably think that I'm nuts, but you have no idea how much I missed having you in my head all the time."

"You are mistaken," Spock said softly, running his fingers through Jim's hair. "I have a very good idea." 


~~*~~
 


Spock was adamant about talking to T'Pau and Sarek immediately.

"I see no logic in waiting," he’d said. "The longer we wait, the more complicated the situation will become. In the morning, the Royal House will have to make an official statement on the events of tonight, and it would be easier to make a combined statement than cause another scandal at a later date. We also need T'Pau to remove my preliminary bond to T'Rena so that we can bond again."

Jim had agreed, but now, as they stood before T'Pau, Sarek, T'Pol, and Amanda, he was beginning to have second thoughts. Maybe they should have given the King some time to calm down. To say that Sarek did not look amused would have been the understatement of the century.

"Am I correct in understanding that you wish to be bonded to Mr. Kirk?" Sarek said very, very evenly.

Jim glanced at the others. T'Pau was eyeing them pensively. T'Pol looked contemplative, while Amanda was staring at them wide-eyed.

"You are correct, Father," Spock replied firmly, meeting Sarek's gaze. He took Jim's hand in his own. Jim flushed as everyone stared at their joined hands, but squeezed Spock's hand back.

"I will not permit it," Sarek said icily. "You cannot marry a servant."

"Jim is not our servant anymore, and I am not asking your permission, Sire," Spock said politely. "I am merely informing you of our decision."

A muscle in Sarek's jaw started ticking. "You are forgetting yourself, Spock. You are not of age."

"Not yet, but I will be twenty-one in seventeen days."

"The heir to the throne absolutely cannot marry a—"

"Then perhaps you should disinherit me," Spock said, his eyes flashing. "You already have a perfect heir, after all. Saaken is a true Vulcan, as you never tire of reminding me."

Sarek folded his lips into a thin line. "Indeed he is, but, unfortunately, Saaken is not my son—"

"Kroykah!" T'Pau interrupted, standing up.

The father and son went silent at once. Under other circumstances, Jim would have found it funny that Sarek and Spock looked like reprimanded little boys.

T'Pau turned to Spock. "Is your decision final?"

"Yes, T'Pau."

T'Pau looked at their clasped hands before looking at Jim. "Despite the fact that you can be disinherited?" 

Spock squeezed Jim's hand. "Yes. If necessary, I will abdicate."

"You do not fully realize what you are speaking about," Sarek cut in, but shut up when T'Pau gave him a stern look.

"While I agree with you that the situation is far from ideal, I find your objections hypocritical, and therefore illogical, Sarek," T'Pau said, and Jim's eyes widened. "Twenty-six-point-eight years ago, you caused a similar scandal when you married a human."

Sarek's jaw tightened. "And that is why I am saying that he does not fully realize the consequences of his actions."

"Are you saying that you regret marrying me?" Lady Amanda said, her face pale.

Sarek's gaze shot to her. His expression softened ever so slightly. "Negative. I am saying that he does not understand how much scrutiny and negative attention his children will receive only because of the mixed blood." He looked at Spock. "Do you wish for your children to have a childhood like yours? Do you not remember hostile demonstrations and protests? Our people were very displeased that the heir was not a full-blooded Vulcan."

Jim's gaze snapped to Spock. He'd known that Spock had gotten some crap for being half-Human, but he didn't realize it was that bad. 

"I do remember," Spock said to Sarek. "But it does not matter. If I am to be disinherited, our future children — if we are to have them — would be none of anyone’s concern."

Sarek closed his eyes for a moment. "As I have no intention to disinherit you, that argument is invalid."

Jim's mouth fell open. "Really?"

Sarek leveled him with a look. "Really, Mr. Kirk. Spock is my only child and he will be a great King one day. While I find his choice of bondmate... questionable, it will not incite me to disinherit him. He is my son."

Spock stared at his father like he was seeing him for the first time.

"I find it unlikely that Spock's marriage to James would cause as much scandal as your marriage to Amanda did," T'Pol cut in. "Your marriage was the first Vulcan-Human marriage and Spock was the first Vulcan-Human hybrid. It is only natural that they caused such a reaction. However, the situation is different now. In the last twenty-six-point-eight years, there were registered 31,224 marital bonds with Humans, and 67,411 bonds with other species. Since Spock's birth, there were 112,957 hybrids born. It was noted that xenophobic tendencies decreased five-point-seven years ago by 78.6% after the publication of Elder Tulok's work, which scientifically proved that interspecies marriages do not weaken Vulcan bloodlines, as was previously believed. Moreover..."

T'Pol continued speaking of political consequences and popularity polls, and soon Sarek, T'Pau, and Amanda joined in, but Jim could barely focus on the discussion. His mind was reeling. Were they really agreeing to his and Spock’s marriage? It seemed too good to be true. 

Jim looked at Spock and found him just as bewildered. Jim felt a smile split his face as he really realized that Spock was going to be his, and Spock wouldn't have to sacrifice his whole life for Jim.

"I would have done it without regret," Spock reminded Jim, as if reading his mind.

"I know," Jim said, and, making sure that Spock's family was looking the other way, looped his free arm around Spock's neck and gave him a quick, soft kiss. "But I'm really glad you don't have to, because there's a difference between choosing something and having something chosen for them."

"Indeed," Spock agreed, stroking Jim's fingers lightly. "And this time, we have chosen it."

Jim grinned. "So I'm gonna be a prince, too?"

Spock's lips twitched up. "No, Jim. You are going to be..."


~~*~~
 


"...a Princess!" McCoy finished, howling with laughter.

Jim glowered at him. "Prince Consort, Bones. I've told you hundreds of times that I'm going to be a prince consort!"

McCoy smirked. "You can call it whatever you want, but, essentially, you'll be a princess!" 

Jim threw a pillow at his head. McCoy dodged it. "One more word and I'll have you executed!"

"No, you won't, because it'll make Jo sad and T'Pring will kill you!"

It was Jim's turn to smirk. "Oh really? So, about T'Pring..."

McCoy flushed. "Shut up."

Jim grinned. "Lame retort is lame, Bones. I saw you yesterday holding hands. Come on, spill. I tell you everything about Spock and me, right?"

McCoy made a face. "Yeah, and that's the problem. I don't exactly need details about how much you love it when he fucks you. Seriously, do you ever top?"

Jim chuckled. "Sure, but it's a lot of work." He shrugged, smiling innocently. "And I love bottoming more, to be honest. I love it when he holds me down and fucks me like there's no tomorrow — he's so strong, you know—"

Jim burst out laughing as McCoy's face turned green. "Serves you right for calling me a princess!"

"I did not know that you were so fascinated by my strength," a familiar voice remarked from the doorway, and Jim flushed.

He turned around and opened his mouth to greet his future husband, but the words died on his lips when he saw Spock. He was wearing a ceremonial Vulcan robe and his crown. He didn't look much different from when he was about to marry T'Rena, but his eyes were smiling, his face relaxed. 

Spock gave him a slow once-over, too. Jim winked at him. "Like what you see?"

Spock's lips twitched up. "You know that I do." He extended a gloved hand to Jim. "Shall we? The ceremony is about to begin."

Jim took Spock's hand, entwining their fingers together, and snickered, imagining T'Pau's face.

"Jim," Spock said, voice full of amusement.

Jim grinned and kissed him gently, lovingly, feeling happiness spread through his body as Spock wrapped his arm around him and kissed him back just as affectionately.

Bones cleared his throat pointedly, and they broke the kiss and, hand in hand, walked towards the Great Hall.

The double doors slid open, and they stepped into the bright room and into their future.

... and they all lived happily ever after.



Epilogue


The bright-lit house stood out against the dark night as Christmas music pumped from every crevice and every opened window. A small five-year-old boy stared at the laughing and smiling people gathered around the Christmas tree inside the house.

Trying to forget about his aching belly, the boy hugged his arms around his thin body, attempting to suppress shivers shaking through him. It was cold tonight, and he thought about moving closer to the house, but he didn't want the family to notice and shoo him away.

Biting his trembling lip, he looked up. A large, bright star twinkled down at him from the snowy sky. He sniffed, and wiping his nose with the back of his hand, he wished.

"Oh, for crying out loud-- I can't fucking believe it," someone grumbled from behind him. The boy jumped to his feet and whirled around. A middle-aged man stood before him, scowling.

"Who are you?" the boy said suspiciously, putting a thumb in his mouth. He didn't like strangers. He didn't trust them.

The man rolled his eyes before a strange smile split his face. "You can call me Santa, little guy. Tonight, I'm your fucking fairy godfather."

"You don't look like Santa."

The man's smile broadened. "Oh, my costume is in the laundry. Interesting Christmas wish, by the way. So you wanna have a home and a friend, mmm?"

The boy nodded slowly.

"And I wanna meet elves," he added quickly in case the man really was Santa.

"Of course you do," the man said with another eye-roll. "You always do. James Tiberius Kirk, isn't it?"

The End