He fell silent and stared out the window. The apartment itself was a reproach to him. The bank of windows on the north side all had a direct view of the Promenade, the path he and Spock had followed absent-mindedly one evening after they had returned from fighting with--working with?--Veejur.
What a trip that had been. First, Spock appearing magically, all surly and short-spoken, stalking around the ship like an angry coat-hanger. Surging anticipation at his return, quickly replaced by subdued depression at his hostile attitude.
Then Veejur driving all thoughts of his first officer out of his head. Struggling to keep the ship intact, but losing Ilia, and Decker. Rescuing Spock from death in an enviro suit. Spock crying on the bridge. Spock crying. The first crack in the wall, he hardly dared hope. And then, unthinkable, Spock grasping his hand in Sickbay, murmuring that sensation was important. No sleep *that* night--Kirk half chuckled at the memory.
Fast forward, ship into dock, Spock making incessant log entries trying to capture what he felt, turning into a madman, talking to everyone, grabbing people by the shoulder, trying to share with them his radical discovery that logic by itself wasn't enough.
And Jim Kirk watching. Watching with surprise turning to hope--perhaps an opportunity had finally come. Delicately, so very delicately, he invited Spock to take a walk, the evening they docked. Along the wharves across from Alcatraz, admiring the soaring, turning seagulls. So graceful. Almost a smile on Spock's face, as he watched the flawless combination of logic and a million years of artistic refinement, Mother Nature's golden hand.
Then, the stroll along the Promenade. A casual bump of one man's shoulder against the other's. Then a second brushing contact, less casual. Laughter on the human's part. A pun from the Vulcan in response, and that deliciously quirked eyebrow. A pun with--sexual overtones--, if Jim Kirk remembered his minimal Vulcan correctly? From Spock?
Kirk turned abruptly to face his companion, silhouetted against the lights of the Bridge. The Vulcan's face was in darkness, the lights gleaming against his hair, but Kirk thought he could see the eyebrow angled upward, a question on his face. He began to reach a hand up, to smooth a lock of hair that the light shore-breeze had stirred, but he pulled back his hand abruptly and looked away, out over the water.
They turned and resumed their stroll, heading for the statue of Hua Mei, which kept watch on the Bay. She had been a controversial woman, and her statue had aroused much opposition. In her day she had been a powerful symbol for the many who left behind one life, one culture, to start anew in an alien country.
Kirk had idly wondered about the founders of Starfleet from time to time--was that why they had chosen San Francisco? Because it had long been the beginning point for so many new lives, so many new contacts between cultures?
The two men chose seats beneath the statue and sat quietly for a while looking out at the beautiful bay spread in front of them, as it surged with the tide and wakes from passing boats. Against the concrete breakwater beyond them the waves switched between a loud crash and a steady sucking as the water receded. At last James Kirk turned to his companion.
"Has it been hard for you, Spock, putting up with humans all these years?"
"There have been a few complex moments, yes."
"And yet, you don't leave us, you don't leave the Fleet. Others, other Vulcans have, but you don't. Why?"
"I did not choose to. The job suited my skills and interests."
"No other reason?"
"Should there be another reason?"
Kirk hesitated. "You said the other day that you had discovered logic wasn't enough. What *is* enough?" Kirk mindlessly ground a fist against a palm. "Logic plus what else?"
Spock turned and studied the face of his captain, his commanding officer. Kirk's fingers were now drumming on the bench's silvered wood, Spock was intrigued to note. He'd found during chess games that that meant Kirk was hiding something.
"Logic plus emotion, of course. My parents tried to teach me that so long ago, in their own way. Sarek's logic, emotion from she who is my mother. A highly rational pairing of abilities and knowledge."
"Spock, what does that mean for you? Does it alter your outlook? How you look at your work?" Kirk stumbled over the last words, thinking it must be bluntly clear to Spock where he was driving with this line of questions.
"Indeed it does. It inclines me to consider--other possibilities." He shifted toward his captain and took a deep breath. "My experience with Veejur, and with Ilia and Decker, has caused me to consider the possibility that my life has been incomplete up to this point. That perhaps I should investigate--taking a bondmate."
Kirk's heart leapt, then sank, as he realized Spock had chosen the formal Vulcan word.
Spock continued. "Yet I am uncertain how such a pairing would be regarded by Starfleet Command. I meant to investigate the most recent regulations in the ship's databanks but I did not have the chance before we left the Enterprise."
Kirk sat silent for a moment.
"Why would the brass object? They didn't care about T'Pring..."
"My betrothal to T'Pring of course predated my commission. More importantly, she was a typical choice. I had in mind--something less typical. Less Vulcan."
James Kirk lifted his head.
Spock continued, "Much less Vulcan."
Gracefully he raised his hand, two fingers paired. In a matter-of-fact tone he said, "If a captain were to approach a first officer, that would violate regulations."
Swallowing hard, Kirk finished the thought for him. "But if the first officer approaches the captain--" He lifted his own hand in reply, matched fingertips to fingertips.
A thrumming heat enveloped them. A burning sensation, a sense of coming to full awareness, ran backward up Kirk's arm toward his shoulder. Spock's touch was like flame to tinder.
They sat motionless, scarcely breathing, staring at each other. Soon the lights of a small boat bobbing in the harbor raked across them and startled them into motion. They stood, hands still linked. With his left hand Spock cupped Kirk's chin, then leaned down and kissed him, experimentally. Sent a thumb exploring along the human's jaw.
Kirk sank into the waves of sensation and let the tide close over his head. He floated in drifting warmth, letting Spock's touch nudge him now here, now there.
Finally he surfaced. Opening his eyes, Kirk edged back and studied his first officer. "So. It's like that, eh?"
Spock regarded him silently, a little puzzled. Kirk laughed and moved inside Spock's guard. Swiftly he ran a hand behind Spock's head and pulled him close. Strong lips found the Vulcan's mouth, busy fingers explored the back of his head, his neck, his ears, his cheekbones--oh, those elegant angles.
He turned Spock's head to one side and licked the curves of his ear. Nibbled on the lobe, traced the outer arc. He breathed gently on the now- damp skin, felt Spock tremble within his flexed arms. Urgently, against the licking, lipping background of the water around them, he mouthed, "I want you."
Spock moved to face him and his cloak swung around them both. He regarded Kirk with dark eyes. He could sense turmoil in the other's thoughts, could feel the human's heart pounding at a near-Vulcan rate. After a moment he turned away into the night breeze to catch his breath and gather his thoughts.
Kirk laughed again. With a casual hand he gestured toward his apartment block, which was barely visible on dimly lit Marina Boulevard. Spock half-bowed in reply, and with lightning speed he kissed Kirk hard. Without saying anything further, the two stood up and broke into a kind of quickstep, retracing their path along the waterfront.(%) (%) (%) (%)
Kirk flung the door back with a boom. He said in mock-hearty tones, "Home sweet home." Spock stepped in and looked around analytically. His captain's home. The human's quarters on the Enterprise were familiar enough--but this was a different matter. Jim Kirk the man, not the officer, lived here.
Breathing deeply, the Vulcan could detect his companion's scent on the air--light, rather like pine. Pleasant.
Weeks had gone by in his first term at the Academy before he had managed to accept the scent of the meat-eating humans. Coming to serve under young Captain Kirk, he had been surprised to find the man always seemed to have a slight fragrant odor--some sort of Terran plant, he assumed. Over time he had found it--stimulating, without admitting so to himself.
Pulling off his jacket and kicking off his boots, the captain of the Enterprise said, "Would you like something to drink? or eat?"
"Eat or drink?" Dropping his dark cloak, Spock continued, "It is not food or drink I require."
Soundlessly he crossed the room, pulling his shirt out of his trousers as he moved. Kirk raised an eyebrow, managed to get out "Wha . . ." before his first officer reached him. Standing military-straight before his captain, Spock dragged at the fasteners on his shirt and let the angled sides fall apart, displaying a well-furred, well-muscled greenish torso. Slowly Kirk closed and opened his eyes, then gave out an appreciative whistle. He slipped his hands inside Spock's shirt and began to slide them down inside his pants.
"No," said the Vulcan in deep tones.
Kirk stopped, puzzled. Spock crossed his forearms and grasped the bottom of Kirk's shirt, pulled it over his head. Both now naked to the waist, Spock drew them closer together, chest to chest. He settled his hands on Kirk's head, then nodded to show Kirk he should follow suit.
Lips millimeters from Kirk's ear, he murmured, "Terrans often concentrate on -- penetration. Other ways exist . . . Shall we?"
With difficulty Kirk swallowed, nodded his head within the firm cradle of the other's fingers. What did Spock have in mind?
"Linvod sha'tha," Spock continued. "The Meld."
The human felt a blaze of anticipation. Into the sensitive ear now resting near his mouth, he said, "You mean a mind-meld?"
"In part. But more," whispered Spock. "Come."
He stepped back, curved his hands down under the human's chin, down his neck, paused with palms on the collarbones and fingers on the deltoid muscles bunching at his touch. He molded his palms around the human's shoulders, ran his hands the length of the other's now out-stretched arms, and at last clenched his fingers around Kirk's.
"Do what I do," he said, tipping his head and kissing the line where the nerve ran down under Kirk's ear.
// no problem there, // thought the captain.
For a time the two men stood mirrored together, arms outstretched, heads tipped to opposite sides. Eventually Spock straightened, placed his fingers on the meld points. Familiar words struck Kirk's ears, then less familiar ones.
"My mind to your mind. My thoughts to your thoughts. Sensations shared . . . let the eyes hear, the ears see, let scent reach the skin, let the tongue feel . . . link the touch, within and between."
Kirk felt as though an electrical current had been started in his legs--a sort of humming was gradually passing upward. Warm, relaxing. No, stimulating . . . ah, yes, there . . . yes, there . . .
The familiar sensation of another consciousness in his head filled his thoughts. He could again see the images of Vulcan and a life before that he had already encountered in mind-melds. But now, something new. Spock was touching basic centers of his brain, the areas of sense reception.
Spock again moved their arms out in a T-shape. Kirk could feel the tension building within him. The Vulcan rested his forehead against his companion's cooler skin and began to will the merge more vigorously.
Insistently Spock half-murmured, half-thought, // palm to palm, fingers to fingers, link the touch, join the minds, one sense, one unity, one being //
The deliberate wedge of Spock's consciousness bore in on James Kirk His mind and body felt strangely, newly alive with the alien stimulus. Just as he was adjusting to Spock's effect on him, he felt a shockwave rip through, standing all his nerves on edge. He felt overwhelmingly aroused, head to toe, fingertip to fingertip. Like an amplifier had been wired into his nerves, his senses were alive everywhere.
A heady scent of musk filled the room, or seemed to--a cloud of delicious fragrance filled his nostrils, caused sparks in his brain. It was almost as though he could feel the smell--rich, dark, intoxicating. Like top-flight brandy.
Then the scent rolled, rippled across his tongue, like ginger, like thick molasses. Dark images, dark voices, a thousand glorious orgasms seemed to surround him, but they were not excitements of the flesh. Parts of his brain he'd never known screamed at the stimulation.
Deep in his most private thoughts Kirk could hear Spock's voice, speaking, chanting, calling to him in a way that could not be refused, calling to the elements that made up James Kirk, summoning all the senses at once.
After a short moment he realized his mind's eye was seeing Spock's voice, seeing the pulsing beats that the words made in his mind. And finally, all the senses together were pounding at him, joining in one mad, exquisite call--become you, become me, one together, one always, never and always touching and touched--touch me, touch me, touch *me*--
They stood together on the summit for a time, embracing the senses that had been woven together within each man and between the two of them. A strange group of sensations, but completely pleasurable, and deeply intimate. Kirk could sense the difference in strength between Spock's senses and his own. Through Spock he could hear traffic on the street many floors below, beyond the thick windows, and he could sense how alien some bits of their surroundings felt to the other. In turn, Kirk could tell that Spock was startled by the range of temperature that felt comfortable, as well as the wider range of hues that Terran eyes could discern. Probably a result of the more geographically diverse planet, he could see Spock thinking.
And then abruptly Spock was not there. Kirk could feel him, still feel the warm hands pressed against his own, the lean powerful shoulders matching the spread-eagled posture he also held--yet, Spock was gone. Kirk could see him across the room, yet feel him close at hand.
"Spock," he croaked. "I-- I need--" He swayed on his feet.
"Shh," murmured the other, wrapping his cloak around them both. Spock eased them onto the couch, arms twining, legs slipping around each other, a brilliant consciousness still filling their heads, shining, gleaming at each touch of body against body.
Kirk could sense himself sliding down an oil-smooth river, slipping out on the tide to a calm floating place. He drifted . . .(%) (%) (%) (%)
He woke with a start, wincing at the spasm in his contorted neck. The pause light on the computer's console winked at him accusingly. How long had he slept? He ground the heels of his hands against his eyes, massaged the back of his neck with stiff fingers.
"Computer, end log entry," he growled. The light switched from blinking red to green, then went dark.
He got up, intending to refresh his drink, but found himself in the kitchen instead. With automatic movements he made tea, Vulcan spiced tea, hesitating only as long as it took to inhale the scented steam deep into his lungs. He padded through to the bedroom, clutching the mug, feeling its heat seep into his bones.
With rough gestures he stripped off the rest of his day-clothes and grabbed a tunic. Taking occasional pulls at the tea, he moved into the bathroom where he studied his face in the harsh light. Older, more wrinkles, a few more gray hairs. No doubt about it, the golden Jim Kirk was dimming with time. Had dimmed already, to be frank--dimmed the day that Spock had first denied him, that the news had begun to sink in.
Kirk performed his ablutions, brushed his teeth, flicked off the light. Almost resentfully he headed for bed, dropped like a brick onto the futon. Acres of room--now that he slept alone. He folded his hands behind his head in what had become a nightly ritual. He studied the k'lin floating above. He tried to recall all that Spock had told him of the Vulcan sections. He might not have much of Spock left, but he had this--the thirty yards of silken green, embroidered and embossed with silver and gold, spelling out the words of their bond-vows, the words that wove their lives together, the poems each had picked for the other.
Swagged across the ceiling and back, the k'lin was one of the few visible reminders that his bonding to Spock had been real. He could pick out bits of the lettering here and there, where it wasn't obscured by the folds in the fabric.
License my roving hands, he could make out, and Of those so close beside me, which are you? It now was a conscious effort to pronounce the Vulcan lines Spock had chosen--there had been a time when they would whisper them to each other, a symbol of the friendly dark they shared. His tongue had known Vulcan more intimately, in those days.
nor ever shall be chaste, unless you ravish me
The first time Spock had said those words to him, he had only begun to guess how hot the banked fires of Vulcan might burn, if they had the right tinder.
And the last time he'd said those words to Spock, it had been a desperate attempt to bring back some recollection, any recollection, of what they'd meant to each other.
Save Spock's future, Sarek had said. Later Kirk had laughed bitterly to himself--Sarek had never said anything about Spock's future with *him,* had he? No, he'd just assumed it, James T. Kirk who rushed in where angels feared to tread, leaping to conclusions, assuming that passing through death and beyond would have no lasting effect.
Well, the joke was on him. Alive, Spock was indeed alive, and almost back to his Science Officer self, but with no conscious recollection of the feelings that had formed their bond. Hardly any human emotions had surfaced. Amanda and Sarek had finally warned their--former?--son-in-law that Spock might never again feel what he had once felt for Jim. Few Vulcans had ever passed through fal-tor-pan, and no one had who was half Vulcan and half human. There was no information on the point. Kirk could choose, of course: he could wait for Spock to remember something. Or he could regard the bond as broken and move on. The choice was his, Amanda had said. Sarek had silently nodded, fingers bridged together.
Some choice--no choice. He could no more leave Spock than he could leave the Enterprise. He'd tried that once, joining the admiralty, and it had been an abject failure. No point in trying the ridiculous yet again.
Well, it was useless to spend yet another night agonizing. McCoy would be waiting for him tomorrow, for the second part of their shore leave, and the big climb. Might as well get some sleep.