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Kirk handed back the fuel consumption report and idly watched his latest yeoman walk away. Somehow the view of the woman’s nicely rounded hips slightly swaying just wasn’t the pleasure it had once been.



He frowned at the thought and returned to surveying the field of stars that slid slowly past. The Enterprise was doing a leisurely warp two. Their next stop was Starbase six for some major servicing of the ship and shore leave for the crew; they’d be there a week. But Starfleet didn’t approve of pushing one of their vessels just because the crew was impatient. At this speed they wouldn’t reach the base until morning, around eight hundred hours ship’s time.



Shore leave. It had been awhile since he had accorded himself that particular benefit. McCoy was already hounding him, throwing out suggestions as to what establishment they would visit first and what exactly the good doctor expected them to do there. Kirk rubbed the back of his neck as he tried to think of something that would appease his friend, because he had no intentions of taking shore leave—not with McCoy, anyway.



Twisting his head slightly to the right, Kirk studied the reason for his dilemma. Spock was turned away from him, intently listening to whatever information was streaming into his computer. It didn’t seem to matter that no one else had anything to do; Spock could always be counted on to find something to direct his considerable intellect to.



Brains—and beauty. Kirk couldn’t remember when he first began to think of Spock as beautiful. Maybe it had been on some planet survey, seeing his first officer in the sunshine as light danced off the dark sheen of his hair. Or maybe during a quiet game of chess when the Vulcan looked at his captain with that half-smile that Kirk could never get enough of. Whenever it was, it was something Kirk was very aware of now.



He loved Spock. He’d stopped trying to deny it after a week-long battle with himself as he went over all the reasons he shouldn’t love Spock. Because he was male? Kirk hadn’t had to think twice about that. He’d been comfortable with his own bisexuality for too many years to worry about it now. Because this was his first officer? If it had been anyone else, Kirk might have hesitated. But he couldn’t bring himself to believe that Spock would, or could, ever take advantage of the situation. That the man was a Vulcan? Yes, that had given Kirk pause. He had tried to find out if Vulcan disapproved of same-sex partners but had admitted defeat after several days’ fruitless search.



So here he was, discreetly giving his first officer a visual once-over while trying not to think too much about what he had planned for later in the evening. Kirk had decided he’d had enough of wishing. It was time to find out if he could possibly have what he wanted. Tonight, over a game of chess, he would finally know.



The object of his consideration turned slowly around and his gaze locked with Kirk’s. The corners of Spock’s mouth rose slightly as he returned his friend’s scrutiny. After a few moments, he removed his earpiece and approached his captain.



Kirk grinned. It was as if he had willed Spock to come to him.



“Yeoman Chandler’s adherence to duty is to be commended,” the Vulcan dryly noted.



He beamed with pleasure. So, Spock had been watching him and seen his perusal of the woman. Better still, he seemed to have no qualms letting Kirk know that he had been watching. “You think so?” Kirk glanced at his yeoman, who now stood quietly speaking to Sulu. “Maybe I should give her a promotion,” he jokingly responded.



“That would leave you without a yeoman,” the Vulcan noted. “Who then would take care of your needs?”



Kirk felt heat suffuse his face and his cock twitched. His heart was suddenly pounding. But he forced his reactions down. There was something going on here, and he’d be damned if he was going to blow it. He leaned away from Spock and settled his weight against the armrest. “That would be a problem, wouldn’t it?”



“Perhaps there is another on board who would be willing to be of service.”



“It’s a demanding job. I’d need someone who would make me their top priority. And I wouldn’t care to have to look again. The person would have to be permanent. Care to recommend anyone?” Kirk studied his first officer’s demeanor. There was a slightly bemused look on the Vulcan’s face, as if he knew exactly what Kirk was saying and how his own words were being taken. Spock was flirting with him; there was no other way to look at it.



“I will give the matter some thought, though I predict little difficulty in filling the position.”



“And why is that?”



“I am cognizant of all your...requirements. They are not unreasonable and I consider it my duty to ensure they are met. Perhaps tonight after our game we could discuss it further.”



Kirk smiled again. A gauntlet had been thrown down; all he had to do was pick it up. “I’ll look forward to it, Mr. Spock.”



Spock tilted his head in acknowledgment. “As will I, Captain.”



With that, the Vulcan returned to his station. Kirk took a slightly shaky breath and tried to compose himself. Looking around, it was apparent his and Spock’s conversation had gone unnoticed. His crew was used to seeing them together. This could just as well have been the captain and first officer discussing ship’s business.



But it hadn’t been, had it? Kirk let his elation overwhelm him. It was going to happen. Beyond all hope or reason, he was going to get what he so desperately wanted. He glanced at the chronometer. Only minutes until the end of his shift. He stood up and cleared his throat. “Spock?”



Spock swiveled around to face him again. “Yes, Captain?”



“I’m going to dinner and then I’ll be in my cabin if I’m needed.”



The Vulcan stood and returned to the center seat. “Very well, Captain. Have a pleasant meal.”



“Thank you, Mr. Spock.” Kirk hesitated and almost asked his friend to forego the work that would keep him on the bridge for another four hours. But, no, he wouldn’t do that. If this was to work, if they stood any chance of having a deeper relationship, their lives as Starfleet officers would have to take precedent. “I’ll see you later.”



Spock only nodded but Kirk could see a sparkle in his friend’s eyes that hadn’t been there before. With a new lightness to his steps, Kirk made his way to the turbo lift and off the bridge.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Spock watched the doors to the turbo lift close, shutting off the view of his captain’s smile. He didn’t take the center chair but proceeded back to his own station. There was work to be done, work that nothing could stop him from completing by nineteen hundred hours.



The job was not unimportant. The entire computer system was being overhauled when they reached the starbase, so it was paramount that every department backup their data for safekeeping. That Spock was overseeing his own area’s record auxiliary was not unusual; it had been his policy from the start. But he was the only department head who did so. If he had but known earlier what tonight might bring, he might have decided that, just once, the task could be accomplished without his direct involvement.



Kaiidth. The time would surely pass more quickly if he was occupied. Spock settled in his seat and was soon involved in his work. Between the updates that sporadically came in from the science labs and the large volume of data stored at his station, he had little time to contemplate his appointment with his captain. It was only as he made his way to his friend’s cabin four hours later, that the enormity of what they might do hit Spock full force.



The corridors were quiet at this hour. It was ship’s night, and most of those not on duty would already be in their cabins. So Spock walked through the empty halls, his thoughts on the coming encounter.



He had known for some time that Kirk’s feelings for him had grown; just as his for his captain had. There had always been a strong rapport between them. Even before Gary Mitchell’s unfortunate death only months after Kirk had taken command of the Enterprise,, Spock had felt the stirring of a tenuous connection between himself and his captain. Time had only strengthened that connection. Time, and circumstances that had proved to each the trust they could have in one another.



When had trust turned to love? Spock wasn’t totally sure. But the meld he had shared with Kirk while his captain was trapped within the body of Janice Lester loomed large in his memory.



It had been almost a year since the woman from Kirk’s past had tried to steal his captain’s life. But for Spock it could have been the day before, how well he remembered the fit of his mind into his captain’s. Never had he delved so deeply, needing to discover the truth of who it was inhabiting the female’s body. And from that day, he’d felt himself being inexorably drawn to his friend in a way he hadn’t before.



At first, he had been able to resist. This was, after all, his captain and, as far as Spock knew, a man who preferred the company of women. But as the months went by, Spock began to notice a change in his friend. The almost instinctual move toward any desirable female stopped. Shore leaves, that until then had usually been spent locating a sexual partner, were now more often than not spent in Spock’s company on the ship. Thrown so often into Kirk’s company, discovering, layer by layer, the deeper facets of the man, Spock’s resolve had crumbled. He had woke one day to the realization that he loved his captain.



Kirk’s cabin appeared ahead and Spock slowed his steps. His bravura from earlier was gone. His glib responses to Kirk’s repartee, so easy while on the safe confines of the bridge, would be impossible now. Put simply, he was terrified. He stood and stared at the nameplate next to the door and tried to bolster his controls. There was so much to gain, but so very much to lose, too. He did not believe he could ever lose Kirk’s friendship; that, they had given each other and it would not be withdrawn by either. What terrified him was what they were about to loose on themselves, the dark sexuality of Vulcan mated to the ravenous appetite of Terra. It could consume them both.



Finally, he pushed the buzzer and the door sprang open. Spock walked in, instantly aware of the dimness of the room as the door closed behind him.



“Come in, Spock.” Kirk was seated behind his desk, the chess board already set up. The light that brightened its surface did little to dispel the shadows that held Kirk in their grasp.



Spock took his place across from his captain. On his left, a hot cup of tea sat ready. He had acquired a taste for it during one of their shore leaves together. Since then, Kirk always had some waiting for him. He bowed his head in appreciation and picked up the steaming brew. “You appear impatient to begin our game,” Spock noted as he brought the cup to his mouth.



Kirk leaned forward and crossed his forearms on the desk. “The sooner I beat you, the sooner we can get on to our...conversation.”



Spock froze, the drink posed at his lips. Over the cup’s rim he could see his captain intently studying him, as if daring his response. So, his friend was done with subterfuge. Very well. Spock slowly took a sip of the tea and then carefully replaced it on the desk. He needed to tread carefully. His next words could change the course of his life. “You are so certain you shall win?” he responded, not looking directly at Kirk but surveying the chess board instead.



“I always play to win. You know that.” Kirk motioned at the board. “Go ahead, it’s your turn to make the first move.”



Spock moved one of his pawns and lobbed his opening salvo. “I noticed you have placed yourself on the shore leave roster.”



“Did you happen to notice I put your name on it, too?” Kirk mirrored Spock’s move.



“I did. I assume you had a valid reason for doing so.” Spock moved another pawn.



Kirk studied the board, then moved a knight. “I think it is. I thought maybe you’d agree to join me at the cabin I rented. It’s only for two days but, hey, we take what we can get, right?”



“Would Dr. McCoy be joining us?”



“No, he’s not invited.” Kirk looked up. “Just you.”



“I see.” Spock moved yet another pawn. “In that case, I believe I will accept.”



Kirk grinned. “Glad to hear it. I’d hate for my disappointment to spoil our game.”



“Surely it is of little consequence. It is, after all, only a game,” Spock replied as he moved one of his bishops.



Kirk glanced down and swiftly moved another pawn. “Not with you. It could never be only a game with you.”



“What then?”



Kirk straightened in his chair and dropped all pretense. “A gamble, a risk we take together like we always do.”



“‘Gamble,’ Jim?” Spock gently responded.



“I think the odds are in our favor, Spock.”



He thought a moment and then looked intently at his captain. “If we were to lose...”



“We won’t lose. I won’t let us.”



They stared at each other until finally Spock slowly nodded his head. “I will not deny that I have longed desired this between us. It would be illogical to refuse now that it has finally been offered.”



Kirk didn’t speak but rose from his seat and came around to stand in front of Spock. He took an unsteady breath and then reached out with both hands and grasped Spock around his biceps to gently urge him to his feet.



Spock glanced down at one arm and then the other before finally focusing on Kirk’s face. He saw fierce determination overtake the human’s features as his captain’s hands moved slowly up to Spock’s shoulders and then around to cup the back of his neck. Kirk stepped closer so that their bodies were almost touching. With ever increasing pressure, he brought Spock’s mouth down to meet his own.



The first touch of those cool lips against his was soft, lasting only a moment; the second was more than a touch as Kirk’s mouth firmed against his and Spock felt the wetness of his captain’s tongue slide gently across. Then the human pulled slightly away, so that their faces were only inches apart and Spock could feel Kirk’s breath against his cheek.



“If you’re going to stop me, it better be now,” Kirk whispered huskily.



The thought had not occurred to Spock. With a moan he wrapped his arms around Kirk’s waist, pulled the human against him and proceeded to plunder his captain’s sweet mouth. The taste was intoxicating. His tongue plunged into the welcoming orifice, its deep probing returned as Kirk’s sturdy fingers carded through Spock’s hair and pulled his head down to deepen the kiss even more.



They were devouring each other, mapping out possession of each other’s bodies with hands that never stilled, mouths that would break apart only long enough to gasp for air. Kirk’s hands settled on Spock’s hips and pulled him closer. A jolt ran through Spock as he felt the human’s cock brush against his own. Both were achingly hard.



So good, it felt so good against him, the turgid organ that bespoke his captain’s desire. Spock dropped his hands to cup Kirk’s ass. He kneaded his fingers into the pliant flesh and snugged their bodies against each other so that the human’s organ pressed against him.



Kirk gave a strangled cry and his head dropped back. “Dear god, I’m going to come; just from feeling you against me, I’m going to come.”



Spock savored the words and lowered his mouth to Kirk’s neck to taste his lover’s flesh. But he wanted to see more, needed to see more of the human’s body. He brought one hand around to the front of Kirk’s pants and fumbled at the opening. He was clumsy, nearly shaking with desire. Finally, he got the fastenings undone and slipped his hand into the now unrestricting garment. He wrapped his fingers around the thick bar of flesh.



Kirk’s loud cry almost drowned out the buzz of the intercom.



“Damn it!” Kirk froze, his body shaking as he strove to bring it under control. Finally, he gently pushed Spock’s hand away, deep regret and frustration showing on his face. He leaned over and hit the switch for audio only.



“Kirk here,” he snapped as he quickly closed the fastenings on his pants.



“Uhura, Captain. There’s a priority message coming in from Starfleet; they’ve picked up an SOS from a private liner in this quadrant. Should I pipe it down to your quarters?”



He took a deep breath. “No, I’ll be right there. And, Uhura, get hold of Scotty. His services might be needed.”



“Should I notify Mr. Spock, Captain?”



Kirk glanced up at his first officer and grinned. “No, I’ll let Mr. Spock know. Kirk out.” He closed the channel and slipped his hip onto the desk while crossing his arms over his chest. He gave Spock a look of resignation. “Well, Spock. It seems the rest of our conversation will have to wait.”



“There will be other times, Jim,” Spock softly responded.



His belief that there would be another time must have come through, because Kirk’s demeanor changed. His irritation dropped away and was replaced with gentle conviction. “Oh, you can count on that, Mr. Spock. And next time,” he stood and took Spock’s head in his hands and kiss him hard and fast, “there’ll be no interruptions.”



Then he was out the door, Spock a half step behind him.



~~~~~~~~~~



The liner turned out to be the Solar Queen, a small passenger ship that was often used by the Federation to ferry its minor officials from planet to planet. On a routine run between Earth and Tellar, the ship had been set upon by Orion slavers.



Apparently, the slave traders had thought the ship easy pickings and had attempted to board her. Because it was used for Federation business, the ship was armed with phasers, though not of the strength of those aboard the Enterprise. The captain of the Solar Queen was holding the slavers at bay but he didn’t know how long they could hold out. They were fast draining their phaser banks.



“Captain, we’re coming up on the Solar Queen’s last known position.” Spock inserted his earpiece as the information started streaming in from the sensors.



“Is she still there?” Kirk asked from the center seat. They’d done warp eight all the way but it had still taken over an hour to get here. He just hoped they weren’t too late.



“The ships should be coming into view in twelve point three seconds.”



Kirk swiveled forward, intently watching the main screen. “Arm photon torpedoes, Mr. Sulu.”



The helmsman’s hands ran over the board in front of him. “Armed and ready, sir.”



Seconds later, a small craft came into view. She hovered there, motionless, though seemingly unharmed.



“Uhura,” Kirk called over his shoulder, “are you picking up anything?”



“No, sir, but communications may be out. That type of ship is known to have a quirky system.”



Kirk grimaced. That’s all they needed. “Spock, where’s the other ship?”



“Unknown. The Solar Queen may have managed to inflict enough damage to run them off; sensors show their phaser banks are empty. In any event, I am not picking up readings for a second vessel.”



“How about life readings on the Queen?”



“Yes, sir. I’m picking up ten, all humanoid, though two of the readings are weak.”



“Dying?” He looked at Spock.



“Likely.”



Kirk pushed the intercom button. “Transporter room, lock on all life readings coming from that ship and beam them over immediately.” He spun around and got up out of his chair. “Uhura, have Dr. McCoy meet us in the transporter room. Spock, come with me.”



When they entered the transporter room, it was to controlled chaos. McCoy was already there, along with a couple of his nurses. He was working on a patient and totally oblivious to anyone around him. Next to him, a woman was being helped to her feet.



“How are they doing, Bones?” Kirk stood far enough away to give the doctor room to work.



“Okay, get her to sickbay.” McCoy watched the woman being wheeled out before turning to give his attention to Kirk. “I’ve got one being prepped for surgery with massive internal injuries and another with a hairline fracture to the skull. The rest got off with mostly bumps and bruises.”



“The captain?”



“I sent him to sickbay with his first officer, who just happens to be his wife. She’s the one with the fracture.”



“But you think they’ll all be okay.”



“I didn’t say that. I’m hoping we got to them in time but,” he shrugged, “we’ll see. I need to get down there; I’ll talk to you later.”



“Let me know how things turn out,” Kirk called out to the retreating doctor.



McCoy absently waved back as he exited the room.



Kirk approached the transporter technician. “How many are still on board the ship?”



“We’ve just beaming over the last two, sir.”



As he spoke, the transporter hummed to life and two figures began to coalesce on its platform. When they were completely materialized, Kirk immediately recognized one of its occupants. It was Areel Shaw.



“Areel!” He approached the platform, one hand held out in greeting.



Her pleasure was obvious as she stepped down and took his hand. “Jim, it’s been too long.”



“Couple of years at least. Are you okay?”



“Three years, seven months and an odd number of days. But, again, I’m not counting.” She smiled. “Oh, and I’m fine. You, on the other hand, look wonderful.”



“So do you. And I heard about your nomination.”



“That’s why I was aboard the Queen. I’m on my way to Earth for another interview before the Council.”



Spock walked up and stood at his side. “Captain, all the passengers have either been taken to sickbay or to accommodations set up for them. Ensign Valdez is waiting to escort Ms. Shaw to hers.”



“Hello, Mr. Spock,” Areel said.



“Ms. Shaw.” Spock bowed his head slightly. “I must congratulate you on your judicial nomination.”



“Thank you. It’s something I’ve worked toward for a long time.” She turned back to Kirk. “I really am exhausted. I guess all the excitement tired me out more than I thought.”



“Ensign Valdez will show you to your room. We’ll have to talk later. Say, tomorrow evening at dinner?”



“Why so long? That’s hours and hours away.”



“Because it’s late and, as much as I’d love your company, my breakfast is at six hundred hours. After that, I’ll be on the bridge most of the day.”



She gave him a look that said just how much she hated the delay. “Oh, all right. If I have to wait, I have to wait. But don’t expect an early evening; we’ve got a lot to catch up on.”



Kirk watched with appreciation as the woman followed her escort out the door. “She’s made quite a career for herself.”



“A berth on one of the Federation’s appellate courts will be quite an accomplishment for one of Ms. Shaw’s comparatively young years.”



“Well, it’s not a sure thing yet. I know a couple of the other nominees; she’s up against some stiff competition.” Kirk motioned for Spock to follow him into the corridor. “How’s the Queen?”



“In relatively good shape. I’ve taken the liberty of having her towed into the hangar bay. We could have her up and running within three point seven days.”



“You’re thinking we’ll have to cart all the passengers to Earth?”



“I assume the Federation Council will insist on it.”



“That certainly throws a wrench into our shore leave plans.” Kirk mulled it over. “I’m going to see if they’ll let us drop them off at Starbase six. They’ve got excellent repair facilities there. And Areel could catch a ride. There’s plenty of ships leaving there for Earth.”



The lift of an eyebrow was Spock’s only reply.



Kirk laughed. “I know it’s a long shot but it’s worth a try.” He touched Spock’s arm and gently pulled him in the direction of the briefing room. “Come on. Let’s go make some calls.”



~~~~~~~~~~



“Yes, sir, I can have Ms. Shaw on Starbase six in,” Kirk looked away from the screen to Spock who quietly mouthed the answer, “thirty-two hours. There are plenty of ships leaving for Earth from there that will get her to her hearing faster than we could.”



“It would be cutting it close, Jim.”



“I know, Commodore. But I’d prefer not to run the Enterprise’s engines above warp four for awhile, not after the workout they’ve just had. At the rate we’re going, it will take us five days to get her there.”



Mendez pondered Kirk’s words a moment before nodding his head in agreement. “Very well. I’ll leave word with Commodore Fisher, he’s in charge of the base, and bring him up to speed. Just make sure she’s booked to leave from the Starbase in time to make her hearing.”



“I’ll look into it personally. And thanks, Jose; I owe you one. My crew really needs the down time.”



“Don’t think I won’t hold you to it. Mendez out.”



Kirk turned off the terminal. “That went well. I don’t think Areel will have a problem with it; I just hope it will be as easy to convince the rest of the passengers.”



“Since, other than the ship’s crew, the rest of the passengers are members of Ms. Shaw’s staff, I don’t believe it should be a problem.”



“That class of ship can hold twenty-five passengers. Why so empty?”



“Unknown, though it is not without precedent for a ship to be hired for an official’s exclusive use.”



“Has Scotty assigned anyone to go over it?”



“I was informed that he was doing the work, himself.”



“Now?” Kirk tried to stifle a yawn. “What time is it, anyway?”



“One hundred hours. I have often wondered if our Mr. Scott is not part Vulcan; he seems to not need as much sleep as most humans, including his captain.”



Kirk gave Spock a look. “Are you telling me it’s past my bedtime?”



“I would not presume.”



“Sure you would. But I am tired.” Kirk quirked his mouth into a regretful smile. “So much for our conversation.”



“I, too, regret its interruption. Perhaps we could...reschedule.”



Kirk stepped closer to Spock, so that he could almost feel the Vulcan’s heat. “Soon?”



Spock tilted his head and Kirk could see the smile in his eyes. “How very impatient you are.”



“Damn right I am.” His body swayed closer to Spock. “How soon?”



Very soon, Jim.”



“Tonight, after dinner?”



“That would be acceptable.”



Kirk grinned, then stepped unsteadily away. It wouldn’t do to lose control here, now, as much as he’d like to. “I guess I better go get some sleep, then.” He started to leave but stopped as the door slid open. “Breakfast?”



“I will be there.”



He took a shaky breath. He was rock hard. He just hoped he didn’t run into anyone in the corridors. “Then, goodnight, Mr. Spock.”



“Goodnight, Captain.”



Kirk turned and headed for his cabin.



~~~~~~~~~~



“You haven’t changed a bit, you know that?” Areel Shaw gave Kirk an appraising look. “Just as handsome as the first day I met you.”



Kirk chuckled. “You say that every time we meet.”



“And it’s true every time. I just wish it were more often. I barely get to see you and then you’re off to god knows where.”



“It’s my job.”



“Oh, I know.” She grimaced. “And it’s not like I’m exactly the stay-at-home type. But you’d think two people who get along as well as we do could manage to see each other more than we do.”



“It’s a big universe.”



“Not if two people really want to get together it’s not. Do you, Jim? Want to get together?”



Kirk took a sip of wine rather than respond. He glanced around the room. The crew and passengers of the Solar Queen were enjoying a celebratory meal with the officers of the Enterprise. Around their particular table Captain Sawyer and his wife, Lily, fresh from sickbay, sat on Kirk’s right. Next to Lily, and still mindful of his patient, McCoy fidgeted with his uniform. Then Spock, calmly taking in everything around him, with Areel between him and Kirk. Notwithstanding that Spock could probably hear everything being said, this wasn’t the time or place to be having this kind of conversation.



“Aren’t you going to answer me?”



“Areel, it’s not that simple.”



She gave him an exasperated look. “It’s as simple as you want it to be.”



“Excuse me, Captain, Ms. Shaw, but I was wondering if it would be possible for me and some of my crew to get to my ship this evening.”



Kirk turned to face Captain Sawyer, grateful for the interruption. “Would tomorrow morning be soon enough, Captain? My chief engineer hasn’t finished his inspection and it might be dangerous going aboard her before he’s done.”



Sawyer nodded. “It’s not vital; I’d just like to get some of my personal effects before she’s turned over to Starfleet. It’s always a battle if you wait until afterwards.”



Kirk grinned. “Yes, I’ve been there before. I left a couple of books on my first posting and it took over a year to get them back.”



“Exactly. And I don’t know how long they’ll keep her. I hope not too long. She’s not the biggest or fastest vessel in the fleet but she’s mine and I love her.”



“You do a good job of taking care of her. I have to commend you on your actions; not just anyone could hold off an Orion attack.” Kirk moved his hand to take in all the other dinner guests. “They all owe you their lives.”



Sawyer smiled. “Thanks, Captain Kirk. Though, I have to say, there was a moment there when I didn’t think we were going to make it.”



“It was a close call,” Kirk noted.



A yeoman came by and Kirk signaled for his plate to be taken away. “Have you run into problems with the Orions before?”



“Never. That’s not a route they usually bother with, it being so far into Federation territory. But I’ve heard they’re getting bolder all the time.”



“They are a problem. And since they remain outside Federation jurisdiction, there doesn’t seem to be a real solution.”



“That’s where you might be wrong, Jim,” Areel chimed in.



Kirk turned back to her. “You know something I don’t, Areel?”



“Well, don’t quote me on this but word has it that it’ll be the first issue tackled when the Court reconvenes.”



“I would not have thought that within its jurisdiction, Ms. Shaw,” Spock commented.



“There’s been several cases where, because Orion is classified a sovereign planet, we’ve been unable to force extradition of known criminals. They’ve got away with pillaging planets, blowing up ships and kidnapping our citizens for far too long. There’s a case being brought before the court that will finally give us the opening we need to reclassify it as little more than a criminal stronghold.”



“Is that wise? The Federation would be placing blame on an entire planet for what a small minority of their citizens are doing.”



“We have to do something, Mr. Spock. The Orions are getting bolder and more dangerous every day.”



“I, for one, hope you succeed, Ms. Shaw,” Sawyer added as he took his wife’s hand and brought it to his lips. “I almost lost this woman yesterday. That’s all the convincing I needed.”



“It will be interesting to see what the Court decides,” Kirk intervened before Spock could respond. It wasn’t their place to argue the merits of the law, only to see that they were followed. It was a discussion he and Spock had had several times over the years. Neither had ever come up with a satisfactory solution.



Areel winked at him. “I’ll let you know. Until then,” she placed her napkin on the table and stood up, “I’m afraid I’ve got piles of briefs to get through, so if you’d excuse me, ladies and gentlemen.”



All the men stood and Kirk took her hand. “I’ll try to make it to the transporter room when you beam down in the morning. But if I don’t get there, it’s been wonderful seeing you again, Areel.”



“Oh, no, Jim Kirk, you’re not getting off that easily. The least you can do is walk me back to my room.”



Kirk hesitated. “I’d love to but-”



“You go ahead, Jim,” McCoy spoke up. “Spock and I can see to the rest of our guests, can’t we, Spock?”



Spock didn’t answer him, but instead looked directly at Kirk. “Have a good night, Captain.”



Kirk gave him a tight smile. “Very well, Mr. Spock. Gentlemen, Mrs. Sawyer, if you would excuse me.”



Turning his attention back to Areel, he took her by the arm and led the way out.



~~~~~~~~~~~~



“I really don’t have that much work,” Areel confessed as the turbo lift doors closed behind them.



Kirk smiled as he grabbed the controls. “I didn’t think you did. T deck.”



“Where are we going?”



“I thought a stroll through a garden would probably suit you.”



“That’s a lovely idea. But I wasn’t aware the ship had one.”



“It’s nice to have a piece of Earth, or whatever planet you happen to be from, to go to when you feel the need to reconnect. But it’s also a great place to take a lovely woman for a walk.”



“Flattery will get you everywhere, Mr. Kirk.”



The turbo lift doors opened and Kirk motioned her out. Taking her arm, he led her to the left and into the botanical gardens. “Here we are.”



“It’s lovely, Jim! It’s like a park. I never would have imagined something like this.”



“We like it. Here, this way.” He maneuvered her down a winding path on their left. Almost immediately they were surrounded by a canopy of trees. On each side, flowers of every shape and color, from every world in the Federation, grew in a profusion of color.



They took their time, stopping at intervals to admire a certain flower or tree. At one point, Kirk stooped down and picked a rose for her. It wasn’t something that was encouraged; the place would be denuded in no time if freely allowed. But it felt right and she was duly impressed.



She walked ahead of him for a time, eager to see what was around the next turn. Watching her, he recognized the pleasure he was experiencing in her company and at her obvious delight in his. Thinking back, Kirk realized that she was one of very few women he had enjoyed on this level, perhaps because, even at their most passionate moments, he knew her deepest passion lay somewhere else. Just as his did.



He caught up with her and found her sitting on one of the benches strategically placed along the way. He sat down next to her. “Tired?”



“A little. I had a hard time falling asleep last night. That little adventure with the Orions got my adrenaline pumping. I ended up reading until almost three.”



“Come on, I’ll take you to your cabin.” He stood and extended his hand.



“Oh, no, not so soon.” But she rose and took his hand as they retraced their steps. “Just sitting for awhile helped. I really don’t want to go back yet, Jim. Isn’t there somewhere else you’d like to show me?”



“Actually, there is.” They left the gardens behind and made their way back to the turbo lift. “Deck ten.”



“What’s there?”



“You’ll see. It’s a surprise.”



“You were always one for surprises. I remember once you surprised me with a home-cooked meal. I didn’t even know you could cook.”



“Want to know a secret? I don’t. I had it ordered in.”



She playfully slapped his arm. “Jim! How could you? You’ve just destroyed one of my most endearing memories.”



He grinned. “Sorry, but this should make it up to you.” They exited the turbo and Kirk led her down the corridor. When they came to the doors at its end, he stood aside as they flew open. He motioned her to go first.



“Oh, Jim, this is even better!” She moved, entranced, further into the room until she stood in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows of the observation deck.



“It’s my favorite part of the ship. After the bridge, of course.”



She turned towards him and laughed. “Of course. As if anything or anyone could ever be more important than your ship.”



“You know me too well.”



“Yes, I do.” She moved to stand in front of him. “Which is why I’m confused.”



“By what?”



“By the fact that, given where we’ve been, where we are, you haven’t tried to kiss me. Not once.” She moved closer. “Why is that, Jim?”



“Areel-”



“Hush.” She placed a finger against his lips. “I think I know why. There’s someone, isn’t there? Someone you care for very much.”



He hesitated and then nodded diffidently.



She removed her finger and lightly kissed him on the cheek. “She’s a very lucky lady. I always thought the woman who finally caught you would be one of the luckiest women in the galaxy.”



“Just the galaxy?” he teased.



“Well, I haven’t met any men from Andromeda, so I couldn’t say.” She stepped back and turned her attention back to the stars. “I imagine the perfect man for me is out there somewhere, waiting.”



He put his arm around her shoulders in a friendly gesture between two ex-lovers. “You’re one of the finest women I know, Areel. And I’m sure you’ll find the person who completes you one day.”



She laid her head against his shoulder and wrapped an arm around his waist. “It just wasn’t in the cards for us, was it? I wonder why.”



“I’m not sure. But I’m inclined to think we’re too much alike.”



She giggled. “Which is why I’m dying to meet your one true love. Any woman who could tame James T. Kirk....”



“I’m not that bad.”



“The hell you aren’t.” She looked up at him. “But you’re irresistible, nevertheless.”



“So, how did you know?”



“About you being in love? No offense, Jim, but I couldn’t think of anything else it could be. I mean, for you to pass up a chance at, shall we say, a good time....”


“Oh, I like that. But I suppose I deserve it.”



“Well, yes, but I don’t-”



“Engineering to Captain Kirk.”



Kirk shrugged out of her embrace. “Duty calls.” He walked over to the intercom. “Kirk here. What it is, Scotty?”



“When you have a minute, could you swing by the hanger deck? I’ve found something you might find vera interesting.”



“Can it wait until morning?”



“No, sir, I don’t think it can.”



“All right. I’ll be there in ten minutes. Kirk out.” He walked back to Areel. “Looks like it’s time I took you back to your cabin.”



“Don’t be silly. I can find my way back. You go ahead.” She gazed out the window. “I’d like to stay here awhile.”



“You sure?”



She gave him a slightly exasperated look. “Of course I’m sure. Go on, Jim; your ship needs you. I just hope your love is as understanding as I am.”



He leaned down and returned the kiss she’d given him. “I’ll tell you a secret, Areel; my love also loves the ship, probably as much as I do.”



Her laugh of surprise followed him out the door.



~~~~~~~~~



Kirk hurried to the shuttle craft hangar. He’d spent more time with Areel than he’d intended to; this was only going to make him later. Spock, don’t you dare leave.



He walked onto the hangar deck. Scotty and a couple of his assistants stood amidst an assortments of metal pieces, equipment and what must have once been part of the Queen’s phaser controls. When he got close enough, he could see that it was the remains of a heating unit which held their attention.



“Okay, Scotty, you’ve got me here. What did you find?”



His chief engineer drew him over to his side of the unit. “You see this space here?” He turned and picked up a part from the supply table behind him. “We just removed this,” he handed it off to Kirk, “from in there.”



Kirk hefted the piece of equipment in his hand. It was heavy. “What it is?”



“It’s an explosive devise powerful enough to blow a hole the size of yon shuttle craft in the side of a ship.”



Kirk’s eyes went wide. “Deactivated, I hope.”



Scott looked aghast. “Well, of course I deactivated it. I certainly wouldn’t be still having it on the ship if I hadna.”



“Where was the unit?”



“In Miss Shaw’s shower. First time she turned the setting to hot water,” Scott threw his hands up,” boom, there goes half the ship. What I don’t understand is, why didn’t it ever activate? They’d been in space for over two days.”



Kirk rubbed his jaw. “Evidently, whoever set this up was unaware that Areel only uses sonics.”



“And how would you be knowing that?” Scott looked at him curiously.



“Um,” he hadn’t realized he’d spoken aloud. “Would you believe it’s in her file?”



From the look his engineer gave him, Kirk didn’t think so. He shrugged and smiled innocently. “Was this the only one you found?”



“Aye, but it would have only taken the one. The ship might have limped along for a couple of hours but unless they managed to get a signal out, they’d all have died eventually.”



“So the Orion attack was a lucky break.”



Scott nodded. “I suppose you could call it that. Though, since the hot water would never have been used, it isn’t like the ship wouldn’t have got safely home.”



“This time. I wonder, though, was this aimed at Areel, or was her cabin just a convenient choice?”



“There’s no way to tell from this, Captain. We’ll be handing the lot over to Starfleet investigators when we get to the starbase. Maybe they can come up some answers.”



“I hope you’re right, Scotty. Someone went to an awful lot of trouble to take out one small ship.” He glanced over at the Queen, sitting forlornly in one of the bays. “Will she fly again?”



“Oh, certainly. There’s nothing wrong with the lass a good starbase can’t fix. She’ll be on her way in a matter of days.”



“That’s good to hear; Captain Sawyer’s a good man.” He handed the unit back to Scott. “Good job, Scotty.” He started for the door, well aware of the passing time.



“Where will you be, Captain, in case we find anything else?” Scott called out.



Kirk stopped and turned. With a heartfelt sigh, he responded. “In my quarters.”



~~~~~~~~~



Kirk entered his cabin and smiled in relief. Spock, dressed in casual black pants and a shirt of crisp gray cotton, sat at to the table where the chess board was set up. The Vulcan looked his way.



“I shall have you checked in three moves.”



Kirk came up behind him and rested his hands on Spock’s shoulders. “You always say that and then I beat the pants off you.”



Spock turned and gave him a knowing look.



Kirk had the good graces to blush. “Bad choice of words.” He squeezed the covered flesh beneath his hands and then let them drop away. “Care for a drink?” he asked over his shoulder as he headed for the makeshift bar on his credenza.



“I believe I could be induced to partake of one.”



Kirk poured them each a shot of whiskey. He carried both glasses over and joined Spock at the table, taking the chair across from him. “Here you go. What should we drink to?”



“‘The future’ seems appropriate.” Spock lifted his glass.



Kirk grinned. “All right. ‘To the future.’” He clinked his drink against Spock’s and downed the potent liquid as he watched Spock do the same.



“I spoke to Mr. Scott before you arrived,” Spock announced as he set his glass on the table.



“Checking up on me, Spock?” Kirk teased.



“Hardly,” Spock responded dryly. “I merely wished to ascertain the approximate time you would be returning to your quarters. But Mr. Scott did inform me of the explosive devise found on the Solar Queen.



“Then you know we’re going to have to postpone our future once again.”



Spock appeared hesitant and, Kirk would say, almost angry.



“What it is?”



“After waiting so long, I find I am beginning to have little patience in having to wait longer.”



“Just a little longer. We’ll be at Starbase six by morning. We’ll have to stick around until our visitors off load, and I’ll have to check in with Fisher, but after that it’s two days of R and R, just you and me in a cabin miles from anywhere.”



“That sounds extremely gratifying.”



“Yes, it does.” He reached over and took Spock’s hand. They could be allowed this much, couldn’t they? “I’m sorry for the interruption.”



“There is nothing you could have done differently. And, perhaps, since it is a circumstance we will become more than acquainted with over time, it is best that we come to terms with it now. Our situation will not be without its obstacles.”



“None we can’t circumvent, surely?” Kirk asked.



“I do not believe such an obstacle exist, that would keep me from you.”



“That’s good to hear.” Kirk slowly rubbed his thumb back and forth against Spock’s palm. “And you couldn’t possibly be more inpatient than I am.”



Spock carefully withdrew his hand. “Perhaps it is time for me to retire to my own cabin.”



Kirk smiled apologetically. “You’re probably right.” He stood and, after only a moment’s hesitation, drew Spock to his feet and kissed him. It wasn’t an especially erotic kiss. Or even a romantic one. But it sealed their pact just as effectively so that, after Spock had departed, Kirk felt only contentment as, alone in his bed, he fell asleep.



~~~~~~~~~~~



“Okay, sir, that’s the last of them,” Lt. Kyle remarked.



The last group had barely finished transporting when Kirk was out the door and on his way to his quarters. He’d done his captainly duty: seen Captain Sawyer off, made sure the rest of the Queen’s passengers and crew had arrived safely at their destination and made arrangement’s for Areel’s passage to Earth. He was on his own time now.



He was whistling as he entered his cabin. He headed straight for his closet and grabbed his bag from the top shelf. Already half full, he carried it over and placed it on the bed before retrieving the clothes he’d planned on wearing. He tugged off his uniform, almost forgetting to first take off his boots in his haste, and quickly threw on the Levi's and flannel shirt. All he had to do now was get his gear from the bathroom and he’d be on his way.



He was still gathering what he needed when the buzzer sounded for admittance.



“Oh, hell.” He hesitated a second, then grabbed everything he’d placed on the counter and hurried over to the bed. He haphazardly stuffed everything into his valise and quickly closed it up before walking over to his desk. Taking a deep breath, he toggled the switch to let in whoever was out there. It was McCoy.



He should have known. “What can I do for you, Bones?”



The doctor strolled in. “I hear you’ve rented yourself a cabin for a couple of days.”



“That’s right,” Kirk responded. “How did you know?”



“Not much goes on around here I don’t get wind of, Jim.”



Kirk frowned. “Sounds like I have some reshuffling of duty to do.”



“Now, now, don’t go getting official on me. Anyway, Julie, the woman at the reservation desk told me. Said you got the last one. So, I was wondering-”



“No.” Kirk started back to the bathroom.



“Why the hell not? They’ve got two rooms. Whatever little honey we’re taking with you shouldn’t mind having another couple there. And, I swear, me and Isabel will be as quite as two little mice.”



Kirk stopped, turned around and walked up to McCoy. “The answer is no.”



“Why not?”



“Because.” Kirk didn’t know what else to say.



“‘Because’? What kind of answer is that?”



“The only kind you’re going to get. Listen, Bones, if it were any other time, I’d be more than willing to share. But this time is, well, it’s different, that’s all.”



“Oh?” McCoy’s eyes widened and he grinned. “Just who are you takin’?”



For just a moment, Kirk thought about pushing McCoy out the door and not answering. But he knew his friend too well. McCoy would pound on the door until Kirk let him back in and then he’d really have something to explain. He bowed to the inevitable. “Spock. I’m taking Spock. Satisfied?”



“Spock? Why Spock?”



“Why not? He’s my friend, isn’t he?” Kirk asked belligerently.



“Well, yeah, but....”



“But, what?”



McCoy hesitated. “Well, he’s boring.”



Kirk was stunned. “No, he’s not.”



“Yes, he is. All he’s going to want to do is read or go for nature walks. What kind of shore leave is that?”



“Bones,” Kirk sighed in exasperation. “Sometimes, it’s the only kind that will do. Sometimes I need a little peace and quiet, so I can unwind and forget about the ship, yet still be able to talk about her if I want to, about everything that’s gone wrong on her. Or right. He’s the only one I can do that with, the only one who really understands.”



McCoy looked at him for a long moment and then finally smiled. “Okay, Jim. I guess I sometimes forget how isolated command can make you. And, as much as I hate to admit it, that pointy-eared hobgoblin is the only one on this tub who shares that isolation with you.” He patted him lightly on the arm and headed for the door. “I’ll see you when you get back. And, Jim,” he stopped at the open door. “Try to have a good time, anyway.”



Kirk laughed and returned McCoy’s parting wave. The doors closed and Kirk’s grin was replaced with a smile of sweet anticipation. McCoy, you have no idea. With that thought, he started back to the bathroom to finish his packing.





~~~~~~~~~~~~



Kirk pushed the door opened and lugged their bags in. Behind him, Spock carried the holdall containing the two bottles of liquor and various food items Kirk had smuggled out of ship’s stores. There were places to get supplies on the starbase but Kirk didn’t want to take any chances. The fewer people who knew where they were, the better.



He carried their luggage into the bedroom, the one bedroom. They’d done enough beating around the bush. They’d be sharing a bed tonight and Kirk for one wasn’t going to pretend otherwise. He stowed their bags on the long divan pushed up against one wall and unzipped both. He rustled around to got their toiletries out and placed them in the small bathroom that led off from both bedrooms. In the kitchen, he could hear Spock putting things away. Then the sound of a cork being popped.



That brought a grin to his face. It seemed, even in this, their thoughts were on the same wavelength. He finished by pulling out their robes and hanging them on the hooks behind the bathroom door. When he walked into the living room, Spock was already busy building a fire. Two glasses of champagne were placed on the coffee table. Next to them, a bottle sat chilling in a cooler filled with ice.



Kirk took a seat on the couch and studied his companion. Spock knelt before the fireplace, looking really good in the dark shirt and pants he’d surprised Kirk by wearing. He was lying the wood precisely so without a wasted motion, stacking just enough for a pleasant fire. Underneath, the right amount of tinder had been added as was proved when Spock used an old-style match to set it ablaze and it caught and held without trouble. Then, just as precisely, he used the old rag he had placed nearby to clean his hands off. It was a pleasure watching Spock do just about anything.



Spock looked up. “You are staring.”



“Yes, I am.” Kirk leaned forward and picked up his glass. “Do you mind?”



Spock tilted his head in thought. “I do not believe so. Truthfully, I find it quite pleasant.”



“Then why don’t you come over here and show me how pleasant you find it?”



The Vulcan slowly rose to his feet. He approached and took a seat at Kirk’s side. He picked up his glass. “What shall we drink to?”



Kirk grinned at his own words being said back to him. “How about ‘the present’?”



“That would be acceptable.”



They each brought their glasses to their lips and took a small drink. Kirk made a face of appreciation. “That’s really quite good.”



“You deserve only the best.”



He looked over to see the Vulcan watching him intently. Kirk returned his glass to the table and scooted closer to Spock. He took the glass from Spock’s hand and set it next to his own. “I don’t know if I deserve it but I certainly have the best.” He leaned into Spock, his hands coming up to tangle in the Vulcan’s hair, and brought his mouth down on his.



His tongue was engulfed in liquid heat, has mouth locked against his lover’s as they both strove to get closer, move deeper into one another. Hot hands on his ass pulled Kirk up so that he was straddling Spock’s lap.



He could feel the Vulcan’s cock, already as hard as his own, digging into his belly. He pushed against it, undulating his hips so that it slid roughly against his, its heat burning him even through the layers of their clothing.



Spock’s hands followed the line of his waistband and slipped into Kirk’s pants. Kirk felt the strong fingers dig into his naked flesh, pulling his ass cheeks apart, the tips of Spock’s fingers skimming across his anus. He hissed and pushed back, welcoming the lean digits that played along the opening of his body. He groaned, the sound swallowed by Spock’s mouth.



Kirk pulled back just enough to work his hands between their bodies and tore Spock’s shirt open. He ran his hands through the soft hairs of the Vulcan’s chest and sought out the nipples, already hard and peaked. He twisted them, just enough to make Spock moan. Breaking the kiss, he lightly bit his way down the straining muscles of Spock’s neck. Spock’s other hand began frantically working at the fastening of Kirk’s pants.



The loud knock at the door froze them both.



Kirk dropped his head onto Spock’s chest, trying desperately to bring his raging body under control. His breath came in ragged sobs. “I don’t believe this.”



Spock was little better off. “Perhaps,” he took a ragged breath, “perhaps if we do not answer, whoever it is will depart.”



They both waited, trying not to make a sound.



When it came again, it was more like pounding.



“Shit.” Kirk pushed Spock’s hands away and awkwardly climbed off his lap. He approached the door while trying to close his pants around his still achingly hard cock. When he got to the door, he didn’t open it but tried listening for anything that would clue him in as to who it might be. “I swear to god, if it’s McCoy I’m going to kill him and feed him to the bears,” he whispered.



Spock had his shirt closed and was tucking it in. “There are no bears on Starbase six.”



“Okay, wolves.”



“There are-”



“Whatever.”



“Jim, let me in, please!”



Kirk opened the door in surprise. “Areel!”



The woman flew into the cabin and into Kirk’s arms. “Oh, Jim, I’m so glad you’re here.”



He clumsily petted her back. “Areel, what’s wrong?”



She pushed slightly away, fighting for composure. “I was walking to my hotel room when I noticed someone following me. I ducked into one of the shops on the ground floor to try to get away but he followed me in there, too. I was so frightened.”



Kirk pulled her around and closed the door, then led her into the room. “Why didn’t you call Security?”



“I thought about it but I didn’t know who I could trust.” She sat down on the couch and only then noticed Spock. She looked up at Kirk. “I’m sorry, Jim. I didn’t realize you weren’t alone.”



“It is quite all right, Ms. Shaw,” Spock responded blandly. “The captain and I were merely exchanging ideas regarding a new injection system.”



Kirk almost choked. He threw Spock a look as he took a seat next to Areel. “So what did you do then?”



“Lucky for me, a group of shoppers came in and I managed to slip away without him seeing me. I couldn’t go to my room and then I remembered overhearing you tell your liaison officer where you’d be so I....”



“Came here. It was the right thing to do.”



Spock got up and walked into the bedroom. Seconds later, he returned with Kirk’s communicator.



Kirk took it, with not a little regret. He hadn’t lied when he told Areel she’d done the right thing; she had. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t intensely disappointed. He flipped open the communicator. “Kirk to Enterprise.”





~~~~~~~~~~~



They beamed aboard, only to find that the starbase authorities were already looking for Areel.



“They found a bomb in her room?”



“Aye, Captain,” Mr. Scott responded. “They set about looking for her after she was late for dinner with Commodore Fisher. When they couldn’t find her, the Commodore ordered the hotel manager to let them into her room. We were about to contact you when we got your call.”



“That must have been quite a surprise,” Kirk commented.



“That it was. They had a bomb detail called up and it was deactivated without any trouble but they still dinna know where Ms. Shaw was.”



Kirk walked over to the transporter consul and opened a channel to the bridge. “Uhura, get in touch with Commodore Fisher. Let him know we’ve got Ms. Shaw. Tell him I’ll contact him later, after I get things straightened out with Starfleet.”



“Yes, sir,” she responded. “What should I tell him if he asks for a time frame?”



Kirk thought about it for a moment. “Tell him it’ll be sometime within the next twelve hours. That’s the best I can do. Oh, and, Uhura...”



“Yes, Captain?”



“Make sure the room Ms. Shaw previously used is restocked; I’ll be taking her there in a couple of minutes. Kirk out.” He turned to address his engineer again. “I’m afraid the engines are going to have another workout, Scotty, because I can almost guarantee we’ll be the ones taking Ms. Shaw to Earth.”



“Captain, it’ll be an awful strain. They can maybe handle it for a few hours but all the way to Earth? It’s an awful chance we’ll be taking.”



“Mr. Scott is correct, Captain,” Spock injected. “The engines have not had time to fully return to maximum efficiency.”



Kirk rubbed his jaw. “I’ll see what I can do. I’ll keep it at warp six to begin with. If we have to push it up later on,” he grimaced, “we’ll deal with that if and when we have to. But I suppose we better start getting our people back up here.”



“That may prove to be rather difficult,” Spock replied. “The crew was under the assumption we would be here for several days. They may not all be within communicator range. There are areas of the planet outside of the base where our signal cannot reach.”



“Well, do what you can. We’ll worry about whoever gets left behind later. I’ll be on the bridge speaking with Starfleet, so let me know once you’ve got an idea how long it’s going to take.”



He turned to Areel, who had been waiting patiently by the door. “All right, young lady. I’ve just enough time to see you to your room, then I really must see to my duties.”



She gave him an amused look as she took his arm. “I think I’m getting used to that.”



“Gentlemen.” He offered his officers a sketchy salute before leading her away.



~~~~~~~~~~~



“Yes, sir, we should reach Earth in two days.”



“As long as it’s not any longer, Captain.”



“We’ll be there, Commodore. Kirk out.” Kirk motioned to Uhura to cut the transmission.



Spock walked up to the center seat. “All but three crew members have returned; the transporter chief is waiting to beam them aboard as we speak.”



“Where does the roster show they went?”



Spock looked at the com pad in his hand. “They had planned an expedition into the Crystalline Caves on the minor continent. The composition of the caves weakens our signal but we should be able to contact them when we are overhead their location. Trial tests have shown a 98.76% probability of successfully getting thought to them if we signal them at that time.”



“That’s in....”



“Two point eleven minutes.”



“Very well. That shouldn’t upset Starfleet anymore than they already are.”



Spock lowered the com pad. “They did seem rather troubled by the delay.”



“There’s no help for it. If they insist on the Enterprise escorting Areel to Earth, they’re got to realize it’s going to take a little longer than usual. What I don’t understand is why they didn’t want us to bring her staff with her.”



“That was a rather odd request.”



Kirk grinned. “Her chief aide seemed to think so. Squalled like a mashed cat.”



Spock raised an eyebrow.



“Sorry. Must be hanging around Bones too much. But the man did kick up quite a fuss. I finally had to have Areel talk to him.”



“Will Ms. Shaw be joining you for dinner?”



Kirk caught the slight hesitation in Spock’s question. “Why? Got something else in mind?”



“I thought perhaps a game of chess.”



“Can you handle a maybe?” Kirk asked with real regret. “Scotty’s been clamoring for me to stop by engineering, Giotto’s supposed to give me a security update and I’ve got a meeting with the supply officer.” He made a sound halfway between disgust and mystification. “Wasn’t I supposed to be on vacation?”



“Another night will do as well, Jim.”



When the Vulcan started to move away, Kirk quickly reached out and snagged his arm. “Wait.” He let go, not a little embarrassed. “Listen, there’s a place I’ve been meaning to show you. When we get to Earth, would you accompany me there?”



Spock tilted his head, his curiosity obviously aroused. “What place might that be?”



“No, no, no. You don’t get to know until we get there. It’s a surprise,” he added.



“Indeed. Very well, Captain. I would be honored to accompany you to this ‘place’.”



Kirk beamed. “Great. As far as tonight, why don’t you come by around twenty-three hundred hours. I’m sure I’ll still be up.”



Now it was Spock’s turn to show regret. “I will be in the middle of helping Mr. Scott check all systems in auxiliary control. It was scheduled for a major overhaul at Starbase six; he felt it unwise for it to go any longer without some sort of maintenance check.”



“I can’t damn him for his diligence, no matter how much I don’t care for his taking up of your time.” Kirk gave a little shrug. “Very well, Mr. Spock. Another time it is.”



“Sir,” Uhura spoke up, “the transporter room reports that they’ve just beamed up the last three crewmen.”



“Thanks, Uhura. All right, Mr. Sulu, take us out of orbit.”



“Yes, sir.” The helmsman swiftly brought the ship about.



“Lay in a course for Earth, Mr. Chekov, warp six.”



~~~~~~~~~~~~



Kirk switched off his computer terminal and rubbed his face. It’d been a long day.


He hadn’t managed to get off the bridge until eighteen hundred hours. His dinner had been a sandwich on his way to engineering, where his meeting with Mr. Scott had been little more than a gripe session. He still couldn’t figure out why his chief engineer thought Kirk could sway Starfleet into allowing them to finish their journey at a more comfortable warp four. It had taken all his persuasive powers to get the concession he had.



The security update with Giotto had gone better than he had expected but any time gained had been taken up by the long, tedious meeting with his supply officer. The man hadn’t met a form he didn’t like and he wanted to introduce Kirk to each and every one of them. He’d finally managed to get away, only to find a stack of reports waiting for him on his desk.



He looked at the time; twenty-two thirty hours. A nice, hot shower and then to bed. Maybe it was a good thing Spock wasn’t coming by; until they dropped Areel off safe and sound on Earth, Kirk needed to be on his toes. If anything were to happen, he didn’t think Starfleet would appreciate the fact that Kirk hadn’t slept because he was too busy screwing his first officer through the mattress.



He grinned. Or the other way around would be fine, too. Kirk felt himself harden at the idea. Down, boy, not tonight. Maybe he should make that a cold shower. Or not. There was always the tried and true method.



With that thought, he got up and headed for the sleeping area, kicking off his shoes as he went along. He undressed and grabbed his robe from the closet, his discarded clothed almost an afterthought as he dropped them down the recycler chute on his way to the bathroom.



The water felt good. After a quick wash, he stood and let it cascade over him, the warmth permeating into his muscles and dissolving the tensions of the day. Relaxed, his thoughts turned once again to Spock and he felt his inevitable response.



He turned and let the steaming spray pound against his back and buttocks as he leaned forward and supported himself with one hand against the back wall. He grabbed his cock with his other hand and started a slow fisting as he thought back on the morning’s interlude. He remembered the taste of Spock and the burning heat of his mouth on Kirk’s, the hard torso beneath his, Spock’s organ rubbing against his own, and especially Spock’s hands on his body, the long fingers teasing between his cheeks. That final image was all it took to bring him to an orgasm that ripped through his body and tore a surprised cry from his lips.



His legs felt like jelly and he let himself slide slowly to his knees. He stayed there, getting his breath back and letting the water wash everything clean. Finally, he struggled to his feet. He turned off the water and exited the stall. Minutes later, dressed in an old pair of sweats and his robe, he was heading for his bed when the buzzer sounded. He looked over at the chronometer. Twenty-three hundred hours.



Kirk was surprised how fast his heart kicked into high gear. This is ridiculous. He walked over to his desk and hit the door controls. “Come.”



The silhouette at the doorway was most obviously not Spock.



“Areel? What are you doing up so late?”



“I’m sorry, Jim. I guess I didn’t realize the time. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”



“No, come in.” He walked over and ushered her in. “I was just surprised, that’s all.” He led her over to a chair while he took the one behind his desk. “What can I do for you?”



She looked slightly embarrassed. “It’s nothing in particular. I just wanted to see a familiar face. This morning rattled me more than I’d like to admit.” She looked down, playing with the small bag she held in one palm.



“Areel, someone’s trying to kill you. I think you have the right to be a little rattled.”



“I suppose. It’s just so strange. I feel so vulnerable and it’s not a feeling I’m used to.”



“The high-powered tough-of-nails attorney routine?” he gently bantered.



She pulled something out of the bag and popped it into her mouth. “I know it sounds silly,” she responded around her chewing, “but I’ve worked hard for that image. Women haven’t come as far as you would think.”



Oh, he knew all about that. More than he had ever wanted to know. “I don’t think being afraid has anything to do with how tough you are. You’d be stupid not to be afraid and you are definitely not a stupid woman.”



“Well, I must be brilliant because I’m petrified.” She dipped her hand into the bag again then brought it to her mouth.



“What are you eating?”



She gave him a grin then pushed the morsel out so that it peeked out from between her lips.



“I should have known,” he acknowledged with exasperation. “You’re the only person I’ve ever known who could eat licorice by the bagful.”



She sucked the candy back in and bit down. “And I still remember the lectures you gave me about it, too. ‘Your teeth are all going to fall out, Areel.’ ‘All that sugar’s not good for you, Areel.’ Sometimes, Jim, you could be a real killjoy.”



He looked away for a moment to hide his smile. He had never told her it was because he hated the stuff himself. “You completely ignored me, if I remember right.”



“That’s true.” She stuck out the bag. “Want one?”



“No, thank you,” he deadpanned. “What do you do, have that stuff shipped to you wherever you are in the galaxy?”



“Hey, I’m a high-powered attorney, remember? What’s the point of being important if it doesn’t come with a few perks?”



“I never thought of it that way,” he said with mock surprise.



“So, what extra perks do you use your power to obtain, Jim?” she kidded.



“Who me?” His eyes went wide. “I have everything I need.”



“Yes, I’ll just bet you do.” She looked around. “Though you’d never know it by the look of this room. Doesn’t your sweetheart get to leave some sort of impression? There’s not a feminine touch anywhere.”



“We try to be discreet.”



“Yes, I suppose you’d have to be.” She took out another piece of candy and twisted the bag shut. “Last one. I’ll eat the whole bag if I don’t watch myself. Anyway,” she popped it into her mouth and then got to her feet, “I should let you get some sleep.”



He rose to escort her out. “You sure you’re okay now?”



“I’m fine. Besides, I’m perfectly safe here, aren’t I?”



“Yes, you are.” As they reached the door, he grabbed her by her shoulders and brought her around to face him. “But if you feel the need to talk to someone, I’m always here. You know that, don’t you?”



“Yes, I do. You’re really a wonderful man, Jim Kirk. I can’t help but envy this mystery woman who’s stolen your heart.” She looked up at him inquiringly. “Will I ever get to meet her?”



He shrugged. “Who can say?”



He watched as she walked back to her room, only stepping back into his own when she disappeared around the curve of the corridor. He rubbed his eyes as he headed for his bed, suddenly very tired. His robe tossed across the foot, he crawled under the covers and was asleep almost instantly.



~~~~~~~~~~~~



“Captain Kirk to Mr. Spock.”



Spock was off the bed and to the intercom before Kirk had finished speaking.



“Spock, here.”



“I need you to meet me in sickbay. There’s been some trouble.”



“Trouble?”



“I’ll explain it when you get there. Kirk out.”



Spock pondered the significance of Kirk’s words as he dressed and groomed himself. That his captain wished to meet in sickbay seem to imply that someone vital to the running of the ship had been injured. Mr. Scott, perhaps? Kirk, himself, had not sounded in physical distress so obviously it was not he.



Noting there was nothing to be gained from speculation, Spock pushed the matter aside. He would know when he got there. When ready, he headed straight for sickbay, where he found Kirk pacing in the outer office. He was alone.



“Captain?”



“Spock.” Kirk’s stopped mid stride. “I tried Engineering first but they told me you’d already left. I’m sorry for waking you but-”



“There is no need to apologize, Captain. I am, as always, at your service. What appears to be the problem?”



Kirk grimaced. “It’s Areel. I got a call from Nurse Chapel right before I called you. It seems Areel called Dr. McCoy in some sort of distress. They found her unconscious when they got to her room.”



“Is she with the doctor right now?”



“Yes.” He shook his head in bewilderment. “I don’t understand it. I saw her not an hour ago; she was fine.”



“You saw her?”



“I, uh, yes, she came to my room,” Kirk hesitantly answered. “She wanted to thank me for helping her.”



“I understand.”



Kirk looked at him with a mixture of hope and disbelief. “Do you?”



“Capt-, Jim, I realize there will still be times when interaction with those you were previously involved with will be inevitable.” He lifted an eyebrow. “There are, after all, quite a number.”



Kirk gave him an odd look but was obviously relieved. “I don’t know if I’ve just been insulted or not. In any event, I’m glad you can be so...mature about it. I don’t know if I could if the situation was reversed.”



“You do not trust me?”



“No, it’s not that.” Kirk appeared stymied at first, as if unable to formulate an adequate reply. “I don’t know. I suppose I just don’t like the idea of anyone else getting that close to you. I know that doesn’t make any sense but love seldom does.”



Spock almost smiled. “So I have been told.”



Kirk was about to respond when the door to the inner office opened and McCoy stepped though.



“How’s she doing, Bones?”



McCoy nodded. “She’s fine now. But it was touch and go for awhile there.”



“What happened?”



“Poison. A pretty nasty one at that. If we hadn’t got to her when we did, she wouldn’t have survived.”



“Are you aware as to how it was administered?” Spock asked.



“Sure am. We pumped her stomach; easier and more reliable then trying to scan for content and then administering an antidote. It was in the candy.”



“What was?” Kirk impatiently snapped.



“Plain ol’, garden-variety strychnine. Pretty large dose, too. I’m surprised she managed to contact anyone.”



“She’s a strong woman.” Kirk looked around McCoy. “Can I see her now?”



McCoy shook his head. “She asleep. Having one’s stomach pumped isn’t the most pleasant of experiences. Give her until morning; she should be up for visitors by then.” He eyed Kirk critically. “You could do with some sleep, too, you know.”



“You may be right but call me if anything happens.”



“What could happen? She’s fine, Jim. Go get some rest. At least you can; I’ll be spending the night on the couch in my office.”



“I thought you said she was fine.”



“She is,” McCoy answered, exasperated. He started toward the back room, shooing at them as he left. “Now go away, both of you. I’ll see you in the morning.”



“Guess he doesn’t want us here.” Kirk rubbed his eyes. “A few more hours sleep would be nice. Unfortunately, it will have to wait until I notify Starbase six. Someone there had to have laced the candy. I’m going to have her staff hauled in for questioning.”



“With your permission, I shall have her things taken to the science labs for analysis.”



“That’s a good idea. Let me know what you find. I’ll be in my cabin.”



They left sickbay and walked down the silent corridors of the ship, finding what satisfaction they could in their short time together. Spock accompanied him as far as the turbo lift; his own destination was in another direction. He stood and watched as Kirk entered the lift and leaned wearily against the back wall. The doors closed.



Spock had spoken the truth when he stated to Kirk that he understood the situation. He did. He did not envy or begrudge Ms. Shaw her past association with Kirk or the emotional hold she seemed to still have on him. Yet, he could wish that, finally, he and Kirk could have time together, to be together. That, for once, these women from his captain’s past could look out for themselves. Almost immediately Spock pushed the thought away. It was unworthy of a Vulcan to contemplate such self-indulgence. He straightened and turned toward the labs. He had much work to do.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Spock entered sickbay the next morning and approached McCoy’s desk. “I was told the Captain would be here.”



McCoy dragged his attention away from the computer screen and looked up. “He’s in there.” He nodded toward the back room.



“Thank you, Doctor.” Spock started toward the door.



“Hey, Spock,” McCoy called out. “Maybe you’d better knock first.”



“I beg your pardon?”



McCoy grinned. “Jim’s been in there with Ms. Shaw for over an hour. You never know what you might be interrupting.”



“Really, Dr. McCoy, your juvenile innuendoes can be most trying.”



“Just because it would never occur to you, doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. Jim’s always liked her...a lot. And she certainly seemed happy to see him this morning.”



“Ms. Shaw is a guest on this ship. It would be remiss of the captain to not see to her needs.”



“That’s what I just said, Spock. It’s just not the same ‘need’ you’re talking about.”



Spock ignored the doctor’s last remark and instead turned back to the door. The idea that Kirk would join in sexual congress with a patient in sickbay was ludicrous, even if there was nothing between him and Spock. The captain would not do such a thing. He stared at the door.



“Well, aren’t you going in?” McCoy asked.



“Yes, I...”



“You fool Vulcan, I was just kidding. If Jim ever did get it into his head to do something that stupid, I’d hope he’d have the sense to lock the door.”



Spock pressed his lips together, not sure who he was more disgusted with, McCoy, for putting the thought in his mind, or himself, for actually contemplating its possibility. He straightened and advanced toward the door. It swung open immediately.



Inside, Kirk was sitting on the side of the bed, Ms. Shaw’s hand in his.



“Captain.” Spock remained at the doorway.



Kirk turned at the sound of Spock’s voice. He smiled. “Good morning, Mr. Spock. I thought you’d be on the bridge.”



“I was.” Spock approached the bed. “We received a report from Starbase six I believed you would be interested in.” He nodded toward the woman on the bed. “Ms. Shaw.”



“Good morning, Mr. Spock. I’m assuming that report has something to do with me?”



“What did they find out?” Kirk interjected.



“The licorice had been poisoned by Ms. Shaw’s chief aide.”



“William?” Areel looked at Kirk in shock. “I can’t believe that. He’s worked for me for over a year.”



“Apparently, he has been in the employ of the Orions for even longer,” Spock responded. “Their interception of your vessel was originally to retrieve him from what should have been a crippled ship. When they found it still in working order, they decided to attack.”



“But why? Why go through all that trouble just to get rid of me?”



“Your opinion regarding the Orion situation is well known, Areel,” Kirk responded. “And you’ve been climbing the ladder pretty quickly lately. They may have placed an agent with you just as a precaution. When you were nominated for a position where your views might sway policy, they activated him.” He turned to Spock. “Was he the only one?”



“Unknown. They are still interrogating him. Any new information will be forwarded to us.”



“I’d like to read that report, Jim,” Areel said.



“Mr. Spock can have the information sent to this station.” Kirk nodded toward the terminal attached to the bed.



“Thanks, Jim. For everything.” She squeezed his hand then gazed up at Spock. “I imagine you’re here to drag your captain back to work.”



“Only if that is his wish.” He did not look directly at Kirk.



Kirk’s brow came together in a puzzled frown. “No, that’s all right. I need to get to the bridge, anyway.” He stood up and disengaged his hand from hers.



“Will you be back later? Dr. McCoy is insisting I stay in sickbay for twenty-four hours.”



“He’s only looking out for your best interest,” he gently admonished. “And, yes, I’ll be back as often as I can. Maybe I can talk McCoy into letting you out for a short stroll this evening.”



“I’d like that.”



Kirk leaned over and kissed her on the cheek then motioned for Spock to accompany him out. In the outer office, McCoy was still busy at his desk. “Bones, I’ll be back later.”



The doctor didn’t even look up but grumbled a reply as the two men passed through the room and into the corridor. When the door closed, Kirk grabbed Spock by the arm and pulled him into the briefing room down the way.



“Captain?” Spock responded, once the door had closed behind them.



“Everything is all right, isn’t it?”



“Yes, sir.”



“Are you sure?” Kirk looked puzzled and maybe a little upset.



“Yes, sir.” Of course he was sure. There was no reason for him not to be, was there? Yet, it occurred to him that his fist was clenched behind his back and that he was having to work at keeping his emotions in check. Spock took a breath and forced himself to relax. “I am fine, Jim.”



Kirk didn’t look too sure but apparently was willing to let it drop. “Okay.” He gave a tentative smile. “Let’s go mind the store.”



Spock fell in behind his captain. Everything really was all right. Or it would be.



~~~~~~~~~~~



The day proved...difficult. Spock could describe it no other way. He rarely saw Kirk. Between Kirk’s need to be in almost constant contact with either Starbase six or Starfleet, necessitating his working a great deal of the time from his cabin, and his visits to Ms. Shaw, their time together could have been counted in minutes.



Spock had tried to immerse himself in his work but, often as not, he found his gaze straying over to the empty center seat. He had never been more grateful for the end of his shift. He’d come straight to his cabin and after reading the reports sent to him during the day, had changed into his robe and settled on his knees before the meditation statue. The night had proved even more difficult.



Spock opened his eyes and rose to his feet. It was time. He’d spent most of the night trying to come to terms with the feelings he’d been experiencing. He’d played the last days through his mind, searching out clues as to why things that had never bothered him before, things he would have called inconsequential, had suddenly taken center stage and thrown off his equilibrium.



Kirk. Always, he came back to Kirk. That, at least, had not changed. What he had feared was that Kirk’s focus had. For almost a year, he had been that focus. There had been no other to deflect Kirk’s attention. Now there was.



He had blithely assured his captain that he felt nothing when confronted by the physical evidence of Kirk’s past, of his numerous liaisons with women of various levels of beauty. He had been wrong. However illogical it might be, he did not wish a reminder of Kirk’s previous attempts at mating. Whether human jealousy or Vulcan possessiveness, it mattered not; Kirk was his.



Spock moved over to his closet while shrugging out of his robe. He took out the already packed valise from the floor and set it aside. Next, he pulled out a clean uniform and hung his discarded robe on its hook. Collecting the rest of his clothes from the dresser, he made his way into the bathroom.



He stepped into the sonic stall and turned it on. While the waves cleansed his body, his mind returned to thoughts of Kirk. Spock realized that their unconsummated physical relationship was logically one reason for his unease. The woman once had something with Kirk that was still denied Spock; that she was the indirect cause did not help. But she would be leaving this morning and he and Kirk were to beam down to wherever it was Kirk wished Spock to see. They would be alone.



His body reacted to his thoughts and he found himself aroused. That, too, had been born in the fires that had flared between him and Kirk this last year. Never before had Spock’s body responded to the mere contemplation of another. He allowed himself the pleasure of surrendering to it.



Spock simply held his cock for a moment, savoring its weight and girth. Then his fingers wrapped around it and he began a slow pistoning. The heavy organ slid in and out of his fist and a picture of Kirk, naked and spread before him, flashed through Spock’s mind. His hips jerked in response, adding force to the drive of his cock through his hand.



He threw back his head and squeezed his eyes shut. Faster, his hips thrust back and forth, his buttocks tightening with every forward push. Again he saw Kirk, his cock erect, his legs spread in open invitation on Spock’s bed. The image shot straight to his groin and Spock felt his testicles fill and lift; his cock seemed to grow harder still.



He thought of Kirk beneath him, on his stomach as Spock opened him, stretched him, filled him, until Kirk, his hands fisted into the sheets, Spock’s name a mantra on his lips, came in a surge of sensation so powerful it would carry Spock along with him.



As it did now. He groaned as his seed spilled out, each spurt bringing a reactive shudder from his body. He coaxed out more, manipulating his slowly softening cock until he was fully emptied. In his mind he saw Kirk, sated, happy, with the smile on his face that had ever been for Spock alone.



At that moment, Spock for the first time truly knew that they would have this someday. This, and more. So much more, for there was so much more between them now. Respect, affection, love. All those things that told Spock his need to possess Kirk was illogical, for Kirk was already his, as he was Kirk’s. Whoever had been before did not matter. They were each other’s future. He was content, even if, for the present, what they would have was only realized in fantasy.



Finally, he released his organ and let his hands take his weight against the shower wall. When his breathing had quieted and the sonic had cleaned away the evidence of his desire, he slowly exited the stall.



As he finished getting ready, Spock put in a call to the bridge. It was answered by Mr. Sulu, who advised him that Kirk had already been and gone. They had reached Earth during the night and Kirk had shown up just in time to watch the ship slip into orbit. He was now on his way to escort Ms. Shaw to the transporter room.



Spock closed the channel and exited his room. When he entered the transporter room, Kirk and Ms. Shaw were already there. Spock placed his bag next to Kirk’s, which was tucked behind the consul. Ms. Shaw were speaking quietly, though rather emphatically to Kirk next to the transporter platform. Spock approached the two but kept a respectful distance. His balance restored, he could afford to be generous.



“Mr. Spock, I was hoping I would see you before I left.” Areel fixed Kirk with a look Spock was hard pressed to interpret.



He stepped forward. “How may I be of assistance, Ms. Shaw?”



“I’m dying of curiosity and your captain refuses to let me in on his secret.”



Spock glanced at Kirk, who had a slightly annoyed look on his face. “I am not aware of any secret Captain Kirk might have. None, in any event, I would be at liberty to divulge.”



“Oh, this isn’t a military secret. It’s personal.”



“Personal?” Spock’s eyebrows rose.



“Uh-huh. It seems my dear old friend is in love and he won’t tell me the woman’s name.”



Spock felt a swell of pride, though no one, other than perhaps Kirk, would have noticed any change in his demeanor. “There are some things, Ms. Shaw, which are too treasured to be lightly spoken of. I believe this may be one of them.”



“Oh, you’re just as bad as he is.” The words were said teasingly, but Spock felt he saw a certain regret in her eyes. She turned to Kirk. “Okay, I give up. But you can’t keep it secret forever, Jim. One of these days, you’re going to have to let the rest of the galaxy in on it.”



“And when that day comes, I’ll be sure to let you know.”



“You do that.”



“Sir, they’re ready to receive Ms. Shaw now,” transporter technician Kyle announced.



“I guess it’s goodbye.” Kirk leaned over to place a kiss on her cheek.



She kissed him in return, then stepped up onto the platform and took her place on one of the beaming positions. “Goodbye, Jim. Maybe next time we meet, you won’t be alone. Take care of him, Mr. Spock,” she added as Spock moved up to stand at Kirk’s side.



“Beam her down, Mr. Kyle.”



Kirk shook his head in mock exasperation. “She just doesn’t give up,” he commented once the platform was empty.



“Perhaps, but she is gracious in wishing you the happiness with someone else that she might have shared with you.”



“She’s a good person, Spock. Whoever she does end up with, should count himself lucky.”



“The same could be said for you.”



Kirk tipped his head back and looked at Spock speculatively. Finally, he asked, “You ready to go?”



“I am.”



“Great.” Kirk moved swiftly over to get his bag and handed Spock’s off to him. Not wasting any time, he then positioned himself for beaming and, with a nod, motioned Spock to his side. “Do you set the coordinates I gave you?”



“Yes, sir,” Kyle responded.



“Very well. Energize.”



~~~~~~~~~~



The materialized in the entry of a semi-empty apartment. There were two lounges in front of the fireplace but nothing on the walls. A few bottles of liquor sat on the small table that served as a bar against a dividing wall but the window alcove beyond was bare.



“What is this place?” Spock asked.



“Home.”



“Home?” Spock looked around again. “Whose home?”



“Mine. Or it will be. What do you think?”



“It is rather...stark.”



“That’s because I just bought it a couple of months ago. Follow me.” Kirk walked across the room and to the windows. Spock followed, until they stood in front of an unobstructed view of San Francisco Bay. “Great, huh?”



“Indeed.” Spock was at a loss. “Are you planning on remaining on Earth?”



“I imagine I’ll have to, eventually.” He turned to look at Spock. “Don’t you want to?”



“I...Jim, what exactly are you saying?”



“I’m sorry.” Kirk responded. “Maybe I’m rushing you but I thought we’d already settled all that.”



“All what?”



“That we’d be together. I suppose I shouldn’t have taken it for granted that we’d settle on Earth.” He shrugged. “I could always sell it if you want.”



“Then this is for us?” Spock felt a bubble of joy.



“Of course it is. You didn’t...? Oh, Spock.” Without preamble, he pulled Spock into an embrace. “Did you honestly believe I meant to live alone? Not on your life, Mister. Not now.” He placed a light kiss on Spock’s lips. “Not ever.”



Spock was ready when Kirk brought his mouth up again. Their lips met and Spock was suddenly almost painfully hard. He moaned as Kirk’s tongue stabbed into his mouth, the remembered taste just as intoxicating now as the first time. He pulled Kirk closer and then felt the body in his arms go rigid and a fine shaking begin. He pulled back and drew in a long breath. “What is wrong?”



“I’m waiting,” Kirk ground out, “for someone to knock on the door or for my communicator to go off. Or for the sea to come in and wash the whole damn city away. Every time we try to get together, something happens; why should this time be any different?”



They both waited, breaths drawn. Finally Spock broke the silence. “I believe it would be safe to proceed.”



Kirk’s head dropped against Spock’s chest. “I think I’d kill the person who interrupted us.”



“It does not matter. If it does not happen this time, it will the next. I will always be with you, even if it never happens.”



Kirk raised his head and stared at Spock. After what seemed like several minutes but what couldn’t have been more than a few seconds, Kirk pulled out of Spock’s embrace and grabbed his hand. “Like hell it’ll never happen.”



The trip up the stairs to the bedroom was not without mishap. Spock found it difficult to maneuver the narrow passage while simultaneously trying to strip Kirk of his clothing. Especially since Kirk was trying to do the same to him. Somehow, they managed.



The bed beckoned. They tumbled onto its surface with little finesse, too caught up in the sensation of skin against skin as they kissed and fondled each other, to care about anything else. Lying side by side, their bodies came together and found their own rhythm.



Chest to chest, cock sliding against cock, the smell of musk permeated the room while they writhed against each other. Kirk swung one leg over Spock’s hip and hitched him closer until it seemed as if the friction they were creating would burn them up alive. Locked in that frantic embrace, they rocketed toward completion.



And this time, they made it.





Finis
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