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“Follow me.”

 

Spock walked behind the broad golden back and into the new captain’s quarters. James T. Kirk, captain of the Enterprise for less than a day, walked behind his desk and sat down. He looked up at the stiff, angular figure in blue towering over him, hands clasped behind his back, onyx eyes staring unblinking at the far wall.

 

“Mr. Spock.”

 

Commander Spock looked down. The human was smiling, but not with the faint sense of mockery or concealed exasperation that Spock often caught in the smiles of other humans. This one, so ridiculously young to be a captain, had a smile that contained real warmth—rather like Spock’s mother’s smile, he realized suddenly. Captain Kirk gestured towards a chair.

 

“Please sit down, Mr. Spock,” he said. He waited until the Vulcan had done so before leaning forward, golden-brown eyes searching Spock’s face.

 

“Chris Pike said you’re the best officer in the Fleet,” Kirk said quietly, “and judging from your file, I’d have to say he’s damning you with faint praise.” That smile flickered across his face once more.

 

“I know that to you, I probably seem like a kid given the keys to his dad’s flitter.” He held up one hand as Spock began an automatic protest.

 

“It’s all right,” Jim said. He smiled yet again. “Some days I feel like a kid who was given the keys to his dad’s flitter.” His smile died.

 

“But I promise you, I intend to make the Enterprise the very best ship in the Fleet—but I can’t do that without everyone’s help. And since you’re both my First and my Science Officer, I’m afraid I’ll be coming to you for that help, all the time. I’m sure I can count on you to give me that help—and to tell me when I’m just plain in over my head.” He looked at the cool, composed figure sitting opposite him. “Can I count on you?”

 

Spock didn’t hesitate. “You can, sir.” He was relieved. James T. Kirk did not seem at all like his press releases. Perhaps losing Captain Pike would not be as—distressing as Spock had once feared. Perhaps Spock would be able to forge a good working relationship with this human as well.

 

 

 

“Follow me!”

 

Jim whirled and scrambled up the nearly sheer rock wall, seeing Spock’s boots above him, the Vulcan finding holds that were almost invisible to the human eyes, Jim trying his best to follow that pattern exactly as the arrows kept whistling past them. The ‘peaceful’ landing party had turned into a trap, because the Klingons were agitating and trying to convince the local inhabitants that the Federation representatives were here to enslave them—when in fact, knowing the Klingons, the exact opposite was likely to happen.

 

Jim scrambled up the wall as best he could, fingers bleeding, muscles screaming. Near the top, one of the arrows grazed his ankle, and he jerked reflexively, nearly losing his grip—but a powerful hand shot out and grabbed Jim’s wrist just as he slipped.

 

“I have you, sir,” Spock’s voice said calmly. “Relax; I will pull you up.”

 

Jim did as requested, and in a moment, he found himself sprawled at the top of the cliff, catching his breath, while Spock knelt beside him and examined his ankle.

 

“It is only grazed,” he told his captain. “Can you walk, sir?’

 

Jim got to his feet and gave his First Officer a grin.

 

“Walk? Hell, I can run. Let’s get out of here while we’re both still in one piece.” He headed off to the north, Spock following.

 

 

 

“Follow me.”

 

Jim led the way through the crowded Main Rec, nodding and smiling to this crewperson and that one, exchanging greetings, laughing at sallies, making every person he came in contact with, however, briefly, feel like he or she was the most important person on the ship. Even after serving with Jim Kirk for more than a year, Spock was amazed—and faintly envious—of the human’s effortless way of making himself liked. Spock was aware that to many humans, he was still a somewhat daunting enigma—aloof, not responsive in the ways they found familiar, difficult to know. Spock’s Vulcan half was indifferent to the personal opinions of the crew—his work mattered, not his ability to ingratiate himself into social settings. But his human half, the part of Spock that stubbornly would not go away no matter how often he meditated it into submission—that part of Spock looked wistfully at people like Jim Kirk, who instinctively knew how to make friends.

 

“Here we are.” Jim stopped at a door that certainly had not been there previously and punched in a code. The door slid open obediently to reveal a small room, little more than an alcove, really, but large enough for a table, two chairs—and a chessboard.

 

“Sir?”

 

Jim waved Spock through. “I had Scotty do a bit of carpentry,” he said with a grin as the door closed behind them, cutting off nearly all the noise. “The code’s 1418, by the way, in case you want to bring anyone else in here to play when I’m busy.”

 

“But…why did you do this?” Dazed, Spock sat down, noticing that the board was set up in the exact configuration of their last, unfinished game.

 

Jim took his seat on the other side of the table. “Because I noticed the last time we played here in Rec that the noise level was getting to you,” he explained quietly. “I’m afraid that with a crew that’s nearly 90% human, I often forget that not every species has the same tolerance for our boisterousness.”

 

“But I do not wish for you to cut yourself off from your friends, sir.”

 

Jim gave Spock a truly beautiful smile, one that the Vulcan would find himself remembering again and again in the weeks to come. “You’re my friend, too, Spock—I’m not cutting myself off from anything.” Both men were silent for a moment; there was a feeling in the room that something was waiting to be said. Then Jim deliberately turned his attention to the chessboard.

 

“So,” he said cheerfully, “my queen’s in trouble. I’d better see what I can do about that.”

 

They began to play once more.

 

 

 

“Follow me, please.”

 

Obedient but curious, Jim followed Spock into the small observation lounge, having received his request to meet here. Once the door was closed, Jim turned to his First Officer and best friend, a quizzical look on his face.

 

“What’s up?” he asked. Spock stood in front of the window, the gorgeous expanse of space somehow a fitting backdrop. Not for the first time, Jim thought how—compelling Spock was, in every way. Then he firmly put that thought back in his mental lock box.

 

“I wished to speak with you in private,” Spock explained. “I reasoned that no one would look for us here.” He gestured to a low, cushioned bench, and Jim sat down, puzzled but willing.

 

“Okay,” he said. “I’m here, and you’ve got my undivided attention. What’s on your mind, Mr. Spock?”

 

Much to Jim’s surprise, Spock didn’t take a nearby seat; he sat down on the bench next to Jim—right next to Jim. The human could actually feel the warmth of Spock’s body, smell the faint fragrance of Starfleet-issued soap and something else, a scent like fresh leaves and cool grass. Jim had to catch himself, keep himself from sniffing deeply in appreciation.

 

“Captain?”

 

Jim jerked his mental leash and made himself focus on the figure by his side. “So, Mr. Spock, why the cloak-and-dagger?”

 

Spock looked puzzled. “I am not wearing an outer garment, and I do not carry any type of blade.”

 

“Sorry,” Jim chuckled. “Let’s try this again. Why did you want to see me alone like this?”

 

Spock looked down at his folded hands. “I have a…personal problem, sir, and I wondered if you, with your understanding of human emotions and motivations, might be able to assist me.”

 

“Um, sure, if I can.” Now Jim felt really bewildered. Spock was half-human, for God’s sake. He’d been in Starfleet for more than a decade. What possible human emotion could be giving him trouble?

 

“I am grateful,” Spock said quietly. “You are always a good friend to me.”

 

“I try,” Jim replied. I wish I could be a lot more than a friend… He made himself focus once more. “What human emotion is puzzling you, Spock?’

 

“Love,” Spock replied softly. “I have never been in love before, and I do not know how to tell that person of my feelings.”

 

Love. Jim felt the gut punch of that statement. He’s in love. He can love. And I…I never told him; I never even tried. Now he’s in love, and it’s too late.

 

Spock was looking at him, head tilted to one side in that endearing, quizzical way, so Jim once more forced himself to focus on the matter at hand. “Well, Spock,” he said, trying to speak normally around the giant lump of disappointment lodged in his throat, “there really is no good way to tell someone you love them—except to just say it and…and hope that person feels the same.”

 

“I see,” Spock replied thoughtfully. “So love is what you humans would call a leap of faith.”

 

“Yeah,” Jim said softly. “I guess so. But I guess we think it’s worth it.” It would be worth it with you, that’s for damned sure.

 

“Very well,” Spock said. He was silent for a moment—and then he turned, taking Jim’s hand in his.

 

“James T. Kirk,” he said formally. “I am in love with you. I hope that you feel the same.”

 

Jim stared at him, feeling that lump dissolve in a pure rush of thankfulness. “Yes,” he whispered. “Oh, yes; I am; I do.” He felt Spock’s arms go around him and leaned into the embrace as their lips found one another for the very first time.

 

 

 

“Follow me,” Jim murmured. He rose to his feet and put out a hand. Spock took it and rose as well, leaving the table in Jim’s quarters where they had eaten dinner. Tonight was the night, when they would finally consummate their relationship—and Spock was, to put it mildly, petrified. He was not afraid of the act—there was no logic in that, and he knew that Jim would never hurt him. However, he was far more worried that he would hurt Jim—or at least disappoint him.

 

Jim didn’t speak, but the clasp of his hand in Spock’s warm and firm, led the Vulcan forward until they were seated side-by-side on Jim’s bunk, with just one soft light glowing on the nearby table. Much to Spock’s surprise, Jim didn’t make any kind of immediate move to instigate sexual contact. Instead, he simply looked down at the hand he still held, gently drawing his fingers across the back, sending a faint frisson of arousal through Spock’s body and mind.

 

“Spock,” he said softly. “I hope you won’t be insulted, but…I suspect this is all pretty much terra incognito to you.”

 

Spock felt the sudden release of tension go through him. “Yes,” he replied quietly. “My experience, such as it is, consists of a few encounters with women—and not under ideal circumstances.” Now Spock blushed, remembering his seduction of Leila under the influence of those spores. “I fear that I will be…awkward at best and perhaps displeasing.”

 

Jim lifted Spock’s hand to his lips and pressed a tender kiss into the palm. “That’s the last thing you need to worry about,” he assured Spock gently. “I’ve waited so long for this; there’s nothing you could possibly do that would displease me. But if you’re truly worried, then just follow my lead, okay?’

 

“That would be logical, since you have far more experience than I.”

 

Jim chuckled. “A nice way of saying I’m a man-whore, huh?” He moved close, slipping one arm around Spock’s neck, his hand curving to cradle the Vulcan’s head.

 

“Just do what I do,” Jim whispered. “We’ll be fine.”

 

Spock put his arms around Jim, feeling the human pressing close to his body. They had embraced several times, of course, but now Spock felt Jim’s hand slide down his back and slip beneath his shirt, just as their lips met. The first kiss was closed-mouth, chaste. But then, Spock felt the very tip of Jim’s tongue flick teasingly along the seam of his mouth, just as those cool fingers stroked along the hollows at the base of his spine, making the chenesi, usually quiescent, throb sweetly. Spock’s lips parted in a faint gasp, and Jim’s tongue slid within, gently stroking, exploring the contours of Spock’s mouth. Suddenly, it only seemed natural and easy for Spock to do the same, his tongue teasing Jim’s, both men shuddering as they felt the sensations intensify. Spock slid his hands beneath Jim’s shirt in turn, finally able to caress that golden, silken skin that he had fantasized about so often when he caught sight of Jim in the ship’s gym or on shore leave, his shirt off, those sculpted muscles working….

 

“Jim broke the kiss, whispering, “Hang on a sec. I’ve got to see you, feel you…” He gently drew Spock’s shirt up and off, smiling when Spock eagerly did the same. Then they were in each other’s arms again, Jim’s kisses moving along Spock’s jaw and neck, Spock panting as the delicious thrills went through him, moaning aloud as Jim’s fingers, exploring his newly bared torso, found and gently pinched a nipple. He had to do that too, had to caress those bronze paps he’d glimpsed once or twice. But Spock didn’t want to simply touch them; he wanted to know them. So he gently pushed Jim back until the human was half-sitting, half-lying against the pillows. Spock’s hot mouth trailed down Jim’s body, kissing and licking as his fancy took him, until at least he reached Jim’s chest, his lips closing softly over one already erect nipple, sucking it in, tasting it on his tongue. Jim’s moan was loud in the quiet room, and his body arched shamelessly towards that hot mouth.

 

“You’re…a fast learner…Mr. Spock,” he managed to gasp.

 

Spock was too busy feasting, exploring, reveling in Jim’s body to even notice, let alone respond. There was no leader now, no follower. They moved together, baring their bodies eagerly, tumbling onto Jim’s bunk, both grasping, tasting, exploring until they found themselves prone, Jim on top of Spock, their erections sliding together as Jim took Spock’s hand in his and clasped them both around their aching members.

 

“Now,” Jim whispered, shivering as he felt the touch of Spock’s fingers on his tender crown, thumb rubbing against that velvety skin, “follow me.”

 

Spock did—to ecstasy.

 

 

 

 

 

Follow me.”

 

It was barely a whisper, possible not audible at all, but Selik—Spock—jerked awake at once. He had a moment of disorientation, which would have shamed him once, but at the age of 229, he no longer berated himself for such lapses. After a minute, he realized where he was, in his comfortable room at the healing center on Vafer-Tor, New Vulcan. Of course, there would be no healing for Spock; he was dying. He was here only so he would have constant care and pain relief if he required it. He’d accepted the fact of his impending death; it was long past time. Perhaps the final process was starting tonight. That was no doubt why he’d heard that voice. Or perhaps senility was finally getting a grip on his mind.

 

“Really, t’hy’la,” the voice spoke again, amusement plain in the tone. “You’re not senile—and you’ve never forgotten me, any more than I could ever forget you.”

 

The room was dark except for the small security light, but now there was a glow at the foot of his bed. Spock blinked, willed himself to focus on that light—and what it revealed. It was James T. Kirk, not the youngling Spock had befriended in this world, but Jim, his Jim, dressed in his Admiral’s uniform as he’d been the last time Spock had seen him, that terrible morning just before Kirk had boarded the Enterprise-B, a lifetime ago and a universe away.

 

“Honestly, ashaya,” the figure continued, coming around the side of the bed and sitting down, “you didn’t really think I’d let you go alone?” Beloved fingers, human-cool but not cold with death, reached out and gently stroked Spock’s cheek as Jim smiled at him.

 

“Jim?” Spock shook his head, trying desperately to make his mind work properly. “You…you are not here. It is impossible. I am obviously hallucinating from lack of oxygen. It is a logical progression in the process of…”

 

Jim just smiled at him again, a lifetime of love glowing in those amber eyes. “As soon as we’re on the same plane of existence once more, I’m going to spank you for your skepticism,” he replied teasingly. Now the smile became a wicked grin. “And then you can spank me, if you want—we’ll have plenty of time, all eternity in fact. But right now, you’ve got to trust me. Let me help you across, beloved. It’s been so long. I want us together again. Just follow me. I’ll make sure you’re safe.” He held out one glowing hand.

 

“Just take it, t’hy’la,” Jim murmured. “Just follow me—one more time.”

 

Slowly, Spock made his hand move. It was shaking violently, but that didn’t matter once Jim’s hand had closed over it. The glow grew stronger, but now it wasn’t coming just from Jim. Spock kept his eyes fixed on their joined hands, feeling the reality of his t’hy’la’s body and mind touching him, supporting him.

 

“Follow me, ashaya,” Jim whispered yet again. Just follow me….”

 

“I will,” Spock found himself whispering back, his throat tight. “Always, t’hy’la. Anywhere, my beloved.”

 

The light grew ever brighter, ever stronger. When it faded, the room was devoid of life. But somewhere beyond the universe, two were walking together once more, side by side.

 

 

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