The trouble with being a genius was that your mind was always, ALWAYS working, and sometimes that led to…well, trouble.
No one knew that truth better than James T. Kirk, who had been born a genius and had spent the past 24 years letting his giant brain lead him into (and fortunately, usually out of) various kinds of trouble, from the time he tried to fly off the barn roof at his grandparents’ farm, using a bed sheet as Superman’s cape, to the time he decided to hack the Kobayashi Maru test, thereby damned near getting his ass bounced from Starfleet Academy. Of course, in the end, the same restless brain that had nearly lost him his heart’s desire had gained it for him—Jim had managed to defeat Nero and his merry band of psychopaths before they managed to blow up the Earth the way they had the planet Vulcan, and as a reward for his awesomeness, Starfleet command had given him the captaincy of the Enterprise. And thanks to his big sexy brain (and, to be fair, thanks to an awesome crew full of people who were ALMOST as smart as he was), Jim had managed to keep this ship, complete his missions, and dodge the assholes at Command who were hoping he’d land on his ass. So life was good—well, pretty good.
There was only one thing that Jim wanted that he couldn’t get. He wanted Spock, his First Officer, his nemesis originally but now his valued shipmate and friend. Jim wasn’t even sure why he wanted Spock so badly—after all, the Vulcan didn’t have tits, and Jim had always been enamored of the female form. But the longer they worked together, the more Jim got to know Spock, the more he was allowed to see beneath the cool, cerebral mask to the smart, funny, sensitive, brilliant guy underneath, the more Jim hungered for him. In fact (and Jim wasn’t about to admit this to anyone), he suspected he might just possibly, maybe, improbably, be falling in love with Spock. But despite every trick in his awesomely large bag of tricks, despite every attempt to indicate to Spock that he would be very interested in frequent and prolonged bouts of naked wrestling on his bunk (or Spock’s bunk, or in a supply closet, or on that tiny little couch in the small observation lounge, or up a Jeffries tube—Jim wasn’t particular), he was getting nowhere fast. Spock worked with him, ate lunch with him, played chess with him, and argued with him about everything from Starfleet policy to which was the greatest rock band of Earth’s 20th century (Jim KNEW it was Led Zeppelin; Spock stubbornly persisted that it was the Who). But Spock never made a single move, a single statement, even a single look that would lead Jim to believe that he was romantically or sexually attracted to the human.
“Well, what do you expect?” Leonard McCoy, Jim’s favorite sounding board, rolled his eyes. “He broke up with Uhura more than a year ago and since then, the hobgoblin hasn’t so much as looked at anyone else, male, female, or whatever that Horta down in the Geology department is.”
“Technically, Lt. Grytilla is Non-Specific Gendered,” Jim answered. “I’ve never tried to turn him or her upside down to see if I can spot any dangly bits.”
“I’d hope not—you’d get your hands melted off.” Bones drained his drink. “Look, Jim. Give it up. I don’t think Spock wants to do the mattress dance with you. Just be happy he’s not trying to kill you anymore.”
It was good advice, but Jim was temperamentally incapable of taking it. So when he caught two ensigns gossiping about the…susceptibility…of Vulcans to cacao, he didn’t just dismiss it. He did some research. There was damned little about Vulcan sensitivity to anything, but Jim finally found one articles in Xeno-Biology Today that mentioned the fact that Vulcans did not indulge in chocolate, as it was an intoxicant to them.
That was all the encouragement that Jim needed. With visions of a drunk and amorous Vulcan dancing in his head, Jim beamed down to Starbase Four on their next stop—and did some shopping.
Spock stepped into Jim’s quarters, having received the captain’s invitation to dinner. He stopped, surprised, as the sight of the table lit with candles, two soup plates and a large tureen already waiting, along with salads of crisp greens and what looked and smelled like real bread.
“Jim? Where did all this come from?”
Jim rose from his chair, pleased to see Spock on time as always. “I bought some groceries when we were on Starbase Four,” he explained with a smile, “and I made Lt. Lefèvre let me into his kitchen. I guess you didn’t know I liked to cook.”
“Indeed I did not.” At a gesture from Jim, Spock sat down at the table. Jim whipped off the cover of the soup tureen with a flourish.
“Here; I made my famous chili,” he said. “No meat, of course. I remember you saying how much you enjoyed chili when you used to visit your cousins in Texas.”
“Jim, that is…most thoughtful,” Spock said. He sat down as Jim ladled some of the rich, aromatic soup into Spock’s bowl. The chili had black beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, cumin and just a pinch of cinnamon—and finely ground bittersweet chocolate, just under an ounce. After all, Jim wanted Spock tipsy and hopefully in the mood to play grab-ass, not out cold on the floor. Jim sat back and smiled and chatted while Spock enjoyed two helpings of the homemade chili.
Unfortunately, Jim didn’t get a positive result. Forty-six minutes later, a panicked call to Sickbay brought a medical team running to Jim’s quarters, where Spock was curled up on the floor, hands shielding his head, screaming about attacking Romulans.
Jim paced back and forth, back and forth in McCoy’s office, metaphorically tearing out his hair as he paced and fumed and worried. At last, the door opened, and one really pissed-off CMO stormed in.
“What the FUCK is the matter with you?”
Jim didn’t bother to enumerate the list he’d been compiling in his own head. “Is Spock going to be all right?” he asked anxiously.
“No thanks to you, you stupid, horny, juvenile MORON!” Bones was in full voice, but Jim couldn’t blame him and didn’t even try to refute him. He just slumped into a chair, the sudden relief from adrenaline making his knees weak. Bones dropped into his own chair, still glaring at Jim.
“But he is going to be all right, isn’t he?” Jim persisted. “I mean, I didn’t do anything permanent to him, did I?’
“Short of probably making him hate you for life, no,” Bones snapped. “I had to pump his stomach; I’m sure he’ll thank you for that, and some of the shit got into his system, and there’s nothing I can do to get it out, short of draining all the blood out of his body and replacing it and I don’t have that much Vulcan T-negative in stock. So he’s going to spend the next twelve to twenty-four hours or so as high as a shuttlecraft and not in a good way—he’ll have hallucinations, flashbacks, the sweats, the chills, you name it. I hope you’re fucking proud of yourself.”
Jim’s head drooped lower. “No,” he said in a voice so quiet Bones could barely hear him. “You know I’m not.”
McCoy took a good long look at Jim’s unhappy face and relented somewhat. He never could stay mad at Jim for long—that was one of the kid’s problems—he was so charming that he managed to sidestep the consequences of his rashness.
“Jim, what in God’s name were you trying to do?” Bones asked more gently. “Sticking chocolate in your chili recipe—did you think Spock was going to tear his clothes off and jump you?”
“No,” Jim replied in an even lower tone. “I just…I didn’t want to date-rape him or anything, Bones; I just thought if he was…well, relaxed and mellow, that maybe he’d be receptive, maybe he’d be…tempted.”
Bones sighed. “Well, I can’t say I never tried to warm up a young lady with two fingers of Kentucky bourbon over ice,” he admitted. “But Jesus, Jim—you should never have bought into the whole urban myth about Vulcans and chocolate. It doesn’t make them horny; it makes them sick—like the worst acid trip the historical hippies ever had. I hope to Hell Spock doesn’t decide to file charges against you—I’d have to testify on his behalf.”
“It’s no more than I deserve,” Jim replied sadly. “Look, Bones—can I stay with him, try to make him comfortable?”
“You can’t want to spend the next day and night as Spock’s orderly.”
“Yeah, I do. It’s the least I can do for him—if he’ll let me. You know how uncomfortable he’ll be with a strange Sickbay staffer touching him. Please, Bones. Let me try at least.”
McCoy sighed again. “All right,” he said. “I’ll be monitoring him, of course, but you can stay with him—if he’ll allow it. But if he wants me to throw you out on your ass, you go with no argument, agreed?”
“Fair enough.” Jim got to his feet and followed McCoy out of his office to the private room where Spock lay.
“Mother!!!” Spock sat bolt-upright in the bio-bed, screaming, the brown eyes locked blindly on an image that wasn’t there. “Mother, no! NO!” He cried out, watching her fall into the crust of Vulcan, watching her disappear forever. He shivered, feeling the pain, feeling the hollowness inside him that he’d felt that terrible day. He was alone. He would be alone forever. There was no one to give him the unconditional love she’d offered, no human to use warmth and love to break through the Vulcan shell.
“Shhh.” There was a pair of strong arms wrapped around Spock, a gentle hand smoothing his disordered hair. “It’s all right,” the voice said gently. “It’s all right, Spock. You’re safe. She’s gone, and I’m sorry, but it happened more than two years ago. It’s over now. I’m sorry, so sorry.”
Spock’s emotional controls were gone, completely dissolved by the insidious poison in his system. He buried his head in Jim’s shoulder and wept, cried the tears of a lifetime, unable to stop, unable to even remember why he should stop.
“I’m sorry, Spock—Oh, God, I’m so sorry.” Jim said it over and over again as he held Spock close, did what he could to provide comfort and support, cursed himself for being a blind, stupid, horny human and causing all this, fighting back his own tears at the sound of Spock's hopless grief, the pain that he, Jim Kirk, had managed to drag to the surface once more.
At last, the rasping sobs died away, although Spock’s body still trembled. He lay against Jim’s shoulder, completely drained. “I…forgive me,” he whispered at last. “I do not know why I reacted that way. I…”
“Spock, it’s not your fault,” Jim assured him, fighting to get the words past the enormous lump in his throat. “You’re sick, and it’s messing with your controls. You’re having flashbacks and nightmares. Hush, now. It’s all right.” He continued to hold Spock in his arms, stroking his hair and trying to calm him. At last, he felt Spock’s iron grip loosen slightly, and Jim gently laid him back against the pillow, seeing the bloodshot, painful eyes, the lips cracked from dehydration, the tremors still shaking Spock’s body.
Jim rose and fetched a blanket from the warming tray where Bones had left it, returning to the bed and laying it over Spock’s body. He then went to the sink in the corner and soaked a towel with cold water, stopping at the replicator to brew a mug of min tea and then returning to Spock’s side. He set the towel and mug on the bedside stand and hit the bed’s controls, cranking it up until Spock was in a half-sitting position.
“Here.” He bathed Spock’s face and then folded the wet towel across Spock’s eyes, slipped an arm beneath his shoulders and held the mug of tea to his lips. “Drink this slowly; you need the liquid, and Bones said it will make your stomach feel better.”
Spock obediently drank, a few sips at a time until the mug was empty. Despite the warm blanket and hot drink, he was still shivering, so Jim set the empty mug on the table and pulled Spock into his arms one more, wrapping himself around the Vulcan as best he could.
“You…you should not be here,” Spock said hoarsely, and Jim’s heart sank. But then Spock continued, “I do not want you to catch my illness.”
“Oh, Spock.” Jim’s heart ached. “Don’t worry about that. I’m not going to catch anything from you.” There was a long silence.
“But I have to worry,” Spock whispered. “I love Jim.”
“Yes.” Spock nodded so emphatically that the towel slid off his eyes, and they focused on Jim’s face.
“You must not tell Jim, all right?” Spock said earnestly, and Jim realized that the Vulcan didn’t know who he was talking to.
“Why not, Spock?” he asked softly. “Why shouldn’t I tell Jim?”
“Because—perhaps he does not love me, and if you tell him, he will be sad and worry about my feelings,” Spock replied. “I do not have feelings, but they will be hurt if Jim does not love me, and then he will be sad because I am sad.” He nodded solemnly as if that statement made perfect sense.
“I see,” Jim replied gently. “All right. I won’t tell him.” He reached out and picked up the wet towel, smoothing it once again over Spock’s swollen eyes. Then he leaned back against the pillows, Spock’s head on his shoulder, the blankets pulled up around the shivering Vulcan.
“Try to rest,” Jim whispered.
“Will you stay and keep the flashing-back night horses away from me?” Spock asked plaintively. Jim bit his lip as he hated himself once more and laid his cheek against the glossy hair.
“Yes,” he murmured. “I will stay right here. Nothing will hurt you; I promise.”
“All right.” Spock relaxed in Jim’s arms, the shivering diminishing. He sighed in obvious relief.
“You are very nice,” he whispered. “Just like Jim. I wish he loved me.” Spock dozed off, and Jim held him, looking down at the sleeping face.
“He does, Spock,” Jim whispered. “He just doesn’t deserve you.”
Jim watched over Spock for the next fourteen hours, bathing his face, getting him drinks, and re-warming his blankets. Fortunately, Spock slept most of the time, waking only once or twice in tears, until Jim soothed him and he dropped off again. Finally, when Spock had been awake and coherent for about an hour, Bones came and took some more blood, running the results in his tricorder and pronouncing Spock over the worst of his attack.
“I want you to spend the next twenty-four hours in your quarters,” he told Spock. “I’ll be checking on you every four hours, and you’ll need to keep the monitoring bracelet on.” He nodded towards the slim silver circlet that was around Spock’s wrist.
Spock nodded and rose to his feet. He seemed to have no memory of what had happened, or maybe he just didn’t want to talk about it.
“Thank you, Doctor,” he said formally. Without even looking at Jim, he strode out of the room. Jim slumped in the chair he’d been sitting in.
“He’s angry with me,” he said miserably.
“Gee, ya think?” Bones sighed and put a hand on Jim’s shoulder.
“Give him some time and space,” he advised quietly. “You took good care of him, Jim—I think that will count for something once he cools down.”
“And if it doesn’t, he’ll have my ass thrown out of the service.” Jim sighed in turn and got out of the chair. “Well, as I said before, whatever he does to me, I deserve it. Thanks for pulling him through, Bones.” Jim left, feet dragging, head hung low. McCoy watched him go, not knowing who he felt sorrier for.
Spock reported back for duty after the day spent in his quarters, and McCoy as CM reported to the captain that Commander Spock had recovered from his bout of ‘food poisoning’—which was what McCoy was going to label it until he found out if Spock was going to press charges.
Jim did his work and spent the rest of the time holed up in his cabin. He didn’t want to see anyone. The thought of losing his commission was bad—but the thought of losing Spock was far worse. Jim kept remembering the feel of Spock lying in his arms, the sound of Spock’s voice whispering that he loved Jim. Well, he wouldn’t love him anymore—if indeed he ever had, if the whole confession hadn’t been the result of Spock being stoned out of his gourd. Jim was inclined to think that was exactly the right explanation.
The door to Jim’s quarters buzzed. He raised his head from the screen where he’d been reading the latest report from Command for the past hour and not remembering a single word. “Come in,” he called, hearing the flat, tired tones of his own voice. He felt like he sounded—like someone had pounded him with a rock. He’d felt that way for days, ever since he’d drugged Spock and it had backfired so terribly.
The door opened, and Spock walked in, crisp and neat in his duty uniform despite the fact that it was almost 2300 hours. Jim’s blood froze, and he fought down a moment of panic. Spock’s face was perfectly blank.
“Captain,” he said with cool politeness, “may I speak to you for a moment?”
“Yeah,” Jim said quietly, already knowing what was coming. He motioned to a chair, and Spock sat down. The dark eyes, clear now, un-fogged by drugs or tears, looked straight into his.
“Dr. McCoy has enlightened me as to the circumstances of my recent illness,” Spock said quietly.
Jim nodded. “I know. He had the obligation to as CMO—and you had the right to know. I’m sorry, Spock. I know that doesn’t do one damned thing to make it better, but I’m really, truly sorry. I never would have tried it, never would have even thought about it, if I’d had any idea you’d react that way.”
“But why did you do it at all?” Spock asked. He didn’t seem angry, but of course, he was probably just hiding it.
Jim hadn’t thought he could feel any worse but now, faced with those gentle, inquisitive brown eyes, he truly wished he could melt into the pile of shit that he was. But he took a deep breath and answered the question.
“I did it because…I wanted to seduce you,” he confessed, feeling his face flame as he said the words, hearing just how goddamned stupid they sounded now in the cool light of reason that shone from Spock’s eyes. Jim couldn’t look at him any more. He dropped his eyes to his desk.
“I’d read that…that chocolate made Vulcans high, and I thought if you were…relaxed and feeling good, that maybe you’d be…curious, that maybe I could…” Jim’s voice died away; he couldn’t bear to listen to himself yammer on like the fucking asshole he was, not for one more second. He sat there silent, shoulders hunched, waiting for Spock to speak, to slam out the door, or to break Jim’s fucking jaw if that was what he wanted to do.
“You realize that I am within my rights to press charges,” Spock said at last.
Jim nodded miserably. “Yeah, and I won’t contest them,” he said, voice barely above a whisper. “I won’t drag you through the embarrassment of a hearing, Spock; I’ll plead guilty.”
There was a long pause. “You will most likely lose your command,” Spock said at last.
Jim made himself look up at the still figure on the other side of the desk. “You don’t think I know that? It’s more than justified, Spock—I behaved like a selfish adolescent, and I made you sick, put you through Hell, all because I wanted to get laid.” He bowed his head again, swallowing back everything else he could say. It didn’t matter; there was still no excuse.
“I believe you should know that I do not intend to press charges, sir,” Spock said quietly.
Jim raised his head. “What?”
“I do not intend to accuse you of drugging me,” Spock said. “There are two reasons for this, both equally valid. First, your error was serious but not malicious. You made a grave mistake. If I have you cashiered out of Starfleet for that mistake, the service will lose a brilliant and caring officer. I cannot be the one responsible for that outcome.”
“I…thank you, Spock,” Jim said. “It’s more than I deserve.”
Spock shook his head. “I do not think so.” He fell silent once more.
Jim looked at him, curious. “So…what’s the second reason?”
For the first time, Spock looked faintly uncomfortable. He glanced down and then back up at Jim. “If you left the Enterprise, I would…I would no longer be able to see you each day,” he said softly. “I…I find that a distressing prospect. That cannot be a surprise,” he said, even more quietly. “After all, while under the influence of the chocolate, I told you that I love Jim.” Now there was a faint hint of pleading in those dark eyes. “Surely you did not think I meant. Lt. James Wachman in Botany.”
For the second time in ten minutes, Jim felt his heart stop. “You…remember telling me?”
Spock nodded. “I remember everything that happened, including how you sat holding me in your arms, soothing me after a nightmare, caring for me with tenderness and devotion. I do not believe you did that simply out of guilt, Jim. Once I had time to sufficiently analyze your actions and words, I came to the conclusion that you…”
“That I love you too,” Jim finished in a whisper. “Yeah, I do. It's why I pulled that dumb stunt, but that's no excuse. I want you, Spock, but even more than that, I love you. If you don’t ever want me, just staying with me is a gift. I’ll take it; I’ll take whatever you want to give.”
Spock shook his head. “Oh, Jim,” he said, a rare smile showing in his eyes, “I fear you underestimate me.” He rose to his feet and came around the desk, pulling Jim up and into his arms. He laid one hand on Jim’s cheek, looking deep into those brilliant blue eyes.
“Let me show you just how much I want you,” he whispered, just before his lips met Jim’s.
“Yes,” Jim murmured against that hot mouth. “Yes.” He wrapped his arms around Spock and backed him across the room and onto the bed.
That night, Jim learned that Vulcans didn’t need mind-altering substances in order to change reality. One night in Spock’s arms changed Jim’s reality—forever.