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Author's Chapter Notes:

I shamelessly cannibalized the beginning of the other fic, but it fits. This is my second entry for the first prompt (First Date) over at [info]st_respect '10. All mistakes are mine. Feel free to let me know if you see any. As always feedback is appreciated.

 

Jim hadn’t known what to expect when the ever stoic Spock had asked him out for a date. Of course the Vulcan hadn’t actually said ‘date’, but rather something along the lines of ‘a request to join Spock in his quarters from a sharing’. It had taken Jim a moment to realize what the other man was asking, and he’d only managed to nod dumbly before the Vulcan went back to his work.

The rest of the day he was a bundle of tightly wound nerves, not sure what to expect. It wasn’t his first date, not by a long shot. But he’d never been on a date with a Vulcan and never with someone he cared so implicitly about. Hell, he hadn’t even known that Vulcans went out on dates, and the race wasn’t renowned for their sharing of cultural rituals, particularly things like courtship.

He’d never actually been in Spock’s quarters before, only catching glimpses into the room as he met the other man leaving, but they had been enough to wet his appetite. Standing outside Spock’s room a few minutes before the agreed to time, he tugged on his sleeves and smoothed over his wrinkleless clothes again before raising his hand towards the buzzer. The door sprang open instantly at his touch, and he took that as an invitation. He was left momentarily disoriented, blinking in the sudden dimness of the room compared to the brightly lit hallways as unknown scents wrapped around him.

When his eyes adjusted to the low lightening he wasn’t prepared to see his first mate swathed entirely in a voluminous black robe. He wasn’t quite sure what that meant. Spock regarded him as passively as ever yet strangely solemn. Suddenly Jim’s interest in the things inside this room was narrowed to the Vulcan standing so still in front of him.

“Captain,” Spock began.

Jim interrupted, “Spock, I think at this stage you can call me Jim.”

“Jim.” Spock tilted his head slightly in concurrence. “I request of you as my t’hy’la to bear witness to my tushat ho-rah.”

Jim’s understanding of Vulcan was basic at best, so he wasn’t quite sure what it was that Spock was asking of him. But the Vulcan had never led him astray before, and he knew that as private as his race was that Spock wouldn’t have asked him if this wasn’t very important. “Of course, whatever you need me to do.”

Spock almost looked relieved at his words before he reached for the fastenings of his robes.

Jim’s eyes went wide at the action and he protested. “Whoa there. Don’t you think this is a bit sudden?”

Spock froze, not meeting his eyes. “You agreed. It must be done.”

Spock’s dark eyes bored into his and while his face gave away nothing, Jim could clearly see the desperation in his eyes. He hesitantly nodded, his gut telling him that Spock needed him to agree, that he’d lose the man if he didn’t.

Spock hesitated a moment before resuming his work on the fastening of his robes. When the last one was undone, he straightened and pushed the material off his shoulders to fall in an inky cascade to puddle at his feet, leaving him completely bare. That is except for the intricately delicate, black swirls of ink that wove a complex pattern across Spock’s pale body.

Jim had seen dozens of naked bodies in his life and usually for one reason, but for once Jim’s eyes completely skipped over the usual areas of interest, instead taking in the twining Vulcan script. Jim didn’t know what it said or its meaning, but he knew it was important.

Spock held out his hand, and Jim didn’t hesitate to take it, nor did he hesitate when Spock guided them to the bed and had them sit.

Jim’s eyes were drawn to a prominent tattoo over Spock’s heart and he had a sudden inkling about what this was about. Spock’s next words quickly confirmed it.

“Vulcans are a private people. But you know better than most how strongly Vulcans feel.”

Jim nodded not trusting his voice, knowing that Spock was referring to his encounter with the future Spock.

“We share many similarities with Romulans in our expression of grief, but also many differences. We paint ourselves, and we mourn, but we do it privately in contrast to their public displays. Romulans grieve until their paint flakes off, while Vulcans grieve until we share our grief with another. I ask this of thee.” Spock’s face was so open, so pained, so unlike anything Jim had ever seen on him. His violent encounter on the bridge did not even come close to comparing.

Jim could merely nod in acceptance, still not trusting his voice as a sudden tightness settled in his chest.

Spock stretched out on the bed and guided Jim’s hand which he had never released to one of the words inked on his arm. “You must trace the words and I will read them as you do so.”

Hesitantly Jim followed curves and swirls that twined across Spock’s body, listening to the melody that Spock wove as he recited the words Jim traced. The lines faded to nothingness as Jim mapped the writing up his arms and legs, across his stomach and chest.

As he moved his hand towards the last marks over Spock’s heart, Spock grabbed his wrist, halting him.

Jim looked up, shocked to see the tears streaking down Spock’s cheeks, so utterly silent in their presence. “I am not ready to talk of that yet.”

Jim nodded as his own eyes stung with tears. “Whenever you are ready, I’ll be here.”

Spock nodded at that.

Uncertain if he’d be welcomed Jim stretched out next to Spock, and when the other man curled towards him, he pulled Spock close, content to hold him as long as he was welcome. It wasn’t what he’d expected for a first date, but he wouldn’t have traded it for the world.

Vulcan translation
tushat ho-rah - grief ritual

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