- Text Size +

Originally published in 1984 in the print fanzine “As I Do Thee” # 2.

 

From the fields

to the mountain heights

our wandering spirit flows --

and each to each,

as one to one,

for ever and back are sewn.

 

The depths shall rise,

parched and black,

the heart's despair well honed --

but with our sight

and from our bond

comes oneness; warm and known.

 

So carry us back to the dragon's lair,

to heaven's heart, to home --

for it is you and it is I:

with one eye, one soul, one mind;

melded, one ruby-emerald stone.

 

Spock stood in the garden of his parents' home in Shi Kahr and gazed off into the deep silence of the desert.  The hot Vulcan sun was just dipping beneath the jagged horizon of the Llangon Mountains and a warm ceris spread across the far-stretching sands.  Deep crimson shadows crept over the garden and the solitary figure within.  The color of the sky reminded the watcher of the color of human blood and he quickly reprimanded himself for allowing the association to manifest so clearly.

The days had been unbearably long since Spock's return home.  His time at the Science Academy didn't seem enough to fill the endless, empty hours which made up the lengthy Vulcan day.  In near desperation for some distraction, Spock had found himself prowling through his mother's rare book collection.  Most of his interest had focused on the ancient Earth poetry so profusely represented in the library.  It was an unfortunate choice of distraction for the poetry was mostly about human love; its wonders and gains and tragedies and failures.  But some perverse need deep within his innermost self urged him on, demanding he read until he understood each poem to its fullness.

The sun was nearly gone now, the last edge of the corona slipping into the ox-blood night.  Spock wandered down a side path, slowly wending his way to the house, stopping to observe a Night-Rilt skitter out of its burrow; to catch the fading scent of the hot sands around the outer perimeter of the garden; to lean for a moment on the large Terran elm that Sarek had planted on the occasion of his son's birth.

His hand caressed the rough surface of the tree, the slight breeze off the darkening desert bringing the distant howls of prowling Lemataya and circling D’Fztra to his ears.  The tree held some special significance he had never taken the time to discover, some secret meaning to his mother.  It was, perhaps, pure coincidence that he should pick up that particular book this afternoon, just as he'd been gazing out the library window which overlooked the very tree he now leaned against.  Perhaps it was coincidence… Perhaps it was Fate.  Spock was past the point of denying the existence of human metaphysics, he had too much proof to the contrary.

He slowly slipped to the ground, pulling his legs up toward his chest as he leaned back against the large elm, closing his eyes, allowing the words to replay in his mind:

I know the bottom, she said.  I know it with my great root:

it is what you fear.  I do not fear it: I have been there

is it the sea you hear in me,

its dissatisfactions?

Or the voice of nothing, that was your madness:

love is a shadow.

How you lie and cry after it.

Listen: there are its hooves: it has gone off, like a horse.

All night I shall gallop thus, impetuously,

till your head is a stone, your pillow a little turf,

echoing, echoing.

Or shall I bring you the sound of poisons?

This is rain now, this big hush.

And this is the fruit of it: tin-white, like arsenic.

I have suffered to the atrocity of sunsets.

Scorched to the root

my red filaments burn and stand, a hand of wires.

Now I break up in pieces that fly about like clubs.

A wind of such violence

will tolerate no bystanding: I must shriek.

The moon, also is merciless: she would drag me

cruelly, being barren.

Her radiance scathes me.  Or perhaps I have caught her.

I let her go.  I let her go

diminish and flat, as after radical surgery.

How your bad dreams possess and endow me.

I am inhabited by a cry.

Nightly it flaps out

looking, with its hooks, for something to love.

I am terrified by this dark thing

that sleeps in me;

all day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignancy.

Clouds pass and disburse.

Are those the faces of love, those pale retrievables?

Is it for such I agitate my heart?

I am incapable of more knowledge.

What is this, this face

so murderous in its strangle of branches?  --

its snaky acids kiss.

It petrified the will.  These are the isolated, slow faults

that kill, that kill, that kill.

The words sprang to life on the inside of his closed eyelids, taunting him with their unfortunate clarity, their abstract, perfect duplication of the wailings of his own soul.  And he leaned against it also.  The tree, the elm; the poem's title: "Elm" by Sylvia Plath.  Poor, long-dead child who never saw the light, only the dark and chose to spend eternity with her visions.

Spock shook his head, amazed at the depth his mind had reached, the length and breadth of the pit he'd fallen into; the pit of human emotion.

Was this what she meant, this long-dead Earth woman who could slice a soul open, leaving it bleeding on Vulcan's red sands centuries past her time?  Was this… agony, this "cry" as "nightly it flaps out looking… for someone to love"?  And if so, if this emptiness truly was love, could he, a Vulcan scorched and rendered of emotion, find solace when so many passionate beings have failed for eternities uncounted?

Am I also "incapable of more knowledge"?  Will I also find that, as it "petrifies the will", it will also prove to be all last sorrows "that kill"?

He shook his head again at the thought.  Yet, I too have "suffered the atrocity of sunsets"… and  if she could not find her way out without accepting the offer "shall I bring you the sound of poisons?", how can I?  She died young, at loss with the world she knew… He turned, following the faint, remaining light as it skittered toward the horizon.  Ah… I grow deeper into the morass of emotion.  Is this what "love" has brought me to?

He stood again, ready to return to the house.  I, too, am at loss with my world… both worlds.  No longer part of Vulcan, perhaps I never was part of Vulcan.  No longer am I suited to remain among humans.  The Enterprise… His mind flinched away from the mind picture the name created.  But as long as he was admitting to emotion, he might as well accept the place that the ship held in his soul.  The Enterprise; lovely, cold, home… Jim's.  Again, he flinched, gripped with a sudden chill.

The sky was pitch now, the stars standing out like sharp thunder in the silence of the garden.  He gazed up at the one, dearest star, barely visible yet always familiar.  Sol shone in all its great white glory even from this distance.  Like its sons… shining even through the miles…

Spock sighed and, with a final tug at his resolve, turned toward the house, eyes downcast, mind bogged and sweating in its attempt to clear itself, to grow calm and clean… Vulcan.  It was useless, he knew, it had been for the past four months… since he returned 'home'.  But he wasn't  'home'… he'd never be 'home' again.

"Spock." His mother's soft voice spoke more than her son's name.  She was worried, he knew it, regretted it, and could do nothing to change it or ease her mind.  "I have supper for you."

"Thank you, Mother."  He stepped past her, headed for the kitchen.  It was best to at least make an attempt to eat, attempt to behave in an expected matter.  The one regret he suffered most was the pain he'd placed in his mother's blue eyes.

He sat at the table, plate before him, food awaiting his attention.  The thought of swallowing anything solid was nearly enough to sicken him.  He turned to dispose of the unwanted food and was met with his mother's stern, steady gaze.

"You have to eat, Spock.  Look at you, you've lost so much weight I'm amazed that you can stand."

"I am not hungry, Mother."

"I should call Sathen."

Spock's eyebrow rose.  "What use is a healer, Mother?  I am not ill."

"Spock, why are you doing this?  Don't you know how concerned your father and I are?  You are my son, I love you.  I can't watch you kill yourself."  Tears ran unheeded down her pale cheeks, but her voice remained steady, nearly Vulcan.  "It is an illogical waste, Spock.  You have responsibilities.  Did you think your father would allow this to continue until T’Pau stepped in to take action?"

"It is not Grandmother's concern…"

"You are of concern, Spock… to all of Vulcan.  Your actions make no sense.  Each day you go to the Academy, each afternoon you return home and spend the rest of the daylight hours in my garden or in the library reading I-don't-know-what.  You don't eat, you rarely sleep, you won't speak to us…"

Spock met her eyes then, pain beginning to creep from behind his carefully erected barriers.  "I regret having caused you and Father pain.  Such was never my intention."

"I know that, Spock."

He looked away from her briefly, then again met her eyes.  "There is nothing you can do for me, Mother."

"Spock!"

"I will retire now.  Sleep well, Mother."  He walked to her and placed a gentle hand on her cheek.  "I am most fortunate in my parentage."  His mouth didn't move, his eyes didn't change expression, but Amanda saw him smile at her and felt her soul flush a furious, joyous red.

*****

San Francisco was wrapped in fog, as was usual on a late spring night.  The air was thick with moisture and silence, the day crawling to an end.

James Kirk ran a weary hand through his damp hair as he turned out of the mainstream of foot traffic.  Three more blocks, then right.  Turn right again, two streets over and he was home.  It was good to walk, good to feel the ground under his feet, good to be out in the open air, good to be alone.

"Temporary leave" was beginning to feel like permanent prison at the end of his third month on Earth.  A break from the stress of command, they'd told him.  Bones had been insistent; he needed rest.  Privately, McCoy had threatened to have him grounded for medical reasons if he didn't relax.  The Admiralty was pleased to have their "golden boy" home for a while; nice and safe and visible for them and the public to keep an eye on.  After all, they had a lot of money invested in the package known as James T. Kirk, they had every right to ensure its continued value.

"Nervous breakdown" sounded so trite, so un-captainly, but it was the essence of what was likely to happen.  It had all just started to slip away, farther and farther and more complicated and ugly by the day until Kirk was afraid he'd never be able to pull it all together again.  He knew exactly when his life had started to go wrong, he could trace the beginning of this decline almost to the exact minute.

Kirk forced himself back to the present, finding himself at the front door of his apartment, not knowing just how he managed to arrive without being run over by a hover-car.  With a sigh, he opened the door and headed slowly into the dark building.

Cold.  The apartment was still bare, looking unlived-in, empty.  That's because no one lives here, Kirk thought with a wry grin.  No one but us chickens… He poured a tall drink and sat in the window seat with a window that looked out over the city.  The tops of evergreens peaked above the low-lying fog and in the distance he could see the upper stretches of the Golden Gate.  A fog-horn sounded out on the bay and Kirk shut his eyes, listening to the lonely sound, drawing it into himself and making it his, drinking the isolation up like a second skin and holding it close.  That's it, J.T., make it worse on yourself.  Couldn't have accepted Sumi’s offer for dinner, could you?  Had to come home alone… again.  He tossed back the last of the drink, considering a refill.  Hell, I had enough of 'Fleet politics and gossip for a lifetime, who needs it with dinner?  Besides, all the dinner -- and the company for that matter -- that I need is right here.  He went to the small bar and poured another drink.  Without warning, a wave of sorrow hit him in the gut, causing him to drop the glass and sink to the floor.

"God damn you, Spock!"  He wrapped his arms around himself, rocking back and forth, trying desperately to soothe away the pain he could not control, could not predict.  The insidious agony of his loss had a perverse habit of creeping up on him at the worst times, the moments when he was most alone and empty.  When all his defenses were at a minimum, his subconscious would pull out the heavy weaponry: Spock.

"How long now?  Six months?  Seven months?"  But he knew exactly how long it had been since he had seen Spock last: six months, nine days and some twenty-odd minutes… ship’s time.

He brushed absently at the moisture on his face, not sure if it was  from his wet hair or tears and not really concerned about it.  He was tired, his eyes stung from lack of sleep and long hours of busy work at 'Fleet H.Q.

You need sleep, boy.  Go lie down, you’ll feel better.  He dragged himself up the stairs to the loft, pulling his uniform off haphazardly as he went, dropping bits and pieces of black and gold randomly to the floor.  The air felt chilled on his slightly damp, bare flesh but he welcomed the discomfort, anything to help fight the familiar fall into despair; the journey to nowhere.

With a groan, he crawled under the quilt on the large bed, pulling it tightly to his chin and curling into a fetal ball, one hand reaching to tangle in his hair in a familiar gesture of insecurity.  He recalled his mother teasing him about the childhood habit.  He smiled slightly, hearing her sweet voice, "You’ll either go bald or stretch your hair so long people will say you’re a girl if you don't stop pulling at it like that, Jimmy."  The image of his mother’s face was suddenly eclipsed by the image of Spock’s indulgent visage as he watched his captain tug at his hair in concentration.

“Spock…”  This time he knew they were tears, hot and bitter on his flushed cheeks, and he didn’t care.

He didn’t care that the entire hellish chain of events was about to replay in his mind yet again.  He didn’t care that recalling what happened served no purpose but to rub salt in his wounds, that to relive the events wouldn’t change a single thing, that he’d still be trapped in an “advisory position” at ‘Fleet here on Earth and Spock would still be in self-induced isolation on Vulcan.  He didn’t care, because the only reality -- the only reality that mattered – existed in those memories… nothing else was real.

*****

“Captain’s Log: Stardate 3417.3.  Orbiting the planet Omicron Ceti III, preparing landing party to recover remains of the Sandoval party.  The colony was established three years ago, before the discovery that Berthold radiation had caused the previous two colonies to die of then-unexplained causes.   The rays are deadly within seventy-two hours of exposure.  All one hundred fifty members of the party are certain to be found… deceased.”

James Kirk pressed the "end recording" button on his console and turned to his first officer.

“Landing party ready, Mr. Spock?”

“Yes, sir.  Dr. McCoy, Lieutenant Sulu, Lieutenant Fletcher from Biology and Crewman Dimont are standing by in the transporters room.”

“Very well.  Uhura, you have the con.  Mr. Spock, with me.”  He stepped into the turbolift beside the Vulcan.

“I hate these details,” he remarked to his first officer as the turbolift moved quickly through the ship.

“It is not pleasant to have to clean up someone else’s disaster, sir.”

“Understatement as always, Spock.  Damn!  One hundred and fifty!  The waste…”  He looked at Spock as the doors opened and he saw a similar sorrow in the deep brown eyes.

Duty quickly took over and Kirk was efficient as ever, organizing the landing party for the expected sight they’d find upon materialization.

But what they found on the planet, they could never have foreseen.  One hundred and fifty healthy, thriving, blissful colonists; alive and refusing to leave Omicron Ceti III.

“You’ll have to inform your people of Starfleet’s decision to relocate the colony to Starbase 27 until an appropriate planet can be found for you,” Kirk informed Elias Sandoval, the colony’s leader.

“No.”

“This is not an arbitrary decision on my part. Mr. Sandoval.  It is a Stafleet order.”

“We are in no danger, Kirk.”

“We’ve explained about the Berthold radiation, can’t you understand…” McCoy tried to explain.

“How can I make you understand, Doctor?  What do your own instruments tell you?  We are healthy.  Our records show there has not been one death among our people.”

“What about the animals?” Kirk asked.

“We are vegetarians.”

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

“Captain, you stress the unimportant.  We will not leave.”

“Sandoval, I’ve been ordered to evacuate this colony, and that’s exactly what I intend to do, with or without your help.”

But that had proven harder than Kirk had expected.

“Captain?”  Spock was looking at his tricorder.  “I have found some… unusual readings…”

“What is it, Spock?” Kirk asked, annoyed with the entire day.

“Nothing, sir.  No insects on the vegetation, no disease as would be normal under these growing conditions.”

“And they’ve survived Berthold rays for over three years.  I know, Spock.  None of it makes any sense.”   He turned to look at Spock, to find the Vulcan walking down a slope toward a thicket of blue-brown plants.  “Spock?”

“Interesting readings, sir.  I would like to…”  Spock’s voice caught on itself, turning into an agonized scream.

Kirk rushed forward as Spock crumpled to his knees, clutching his head.  “Spock!”

“I can’t…” Kirk heard Spock mutter.  ‘Please…don’t… don’t…”

“Spock!” Kirk grabbed Spock’s arms and pulled them away from his face, revealing a mask of shock and pain.  “What is it?  Spock?”

As suddenly as the attack had begun, it stopped and Spock relaxed, his face taking on a dreamy quality, his eyes a far-away look.  “Yes…” he murmured.  “Now I understand… of course!”

“Mr. Spock, report,” Kirk ordered, hoping his tone would snap some sense back into his first officer.

“Jim!”  Spock looked at Kirk with soft eyes, tender and… sensuous.   “I can love, Jim.”

“What?”  Kirk couldn’t believe what he was seeing and hearing.  He had the strange sense of having fallen down the rabbit hole.

“I can love, Jim.  Jim...” Spock looked at Kirk with such open desire that Kirk shrank from the force of it.  He stepped back, away from the embrace Spock offered.

“Spock!  What the hell’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing, Jim.  I belong.  Come, you must belong as well…”  He reached for Kirk’s arm, but Kirk was faster and moved out of reach.

“Spock, I don’t know why you’re acting his way, or why I’m not, but I have my orders, as do you.  We have orders to get these people off this planet and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

“There is no need now.  We cannot leave, they seeded us.  There is no cause to leave.  You must stay with me, Jim.”

“I don’t intend to stay anywhere, mister.  Snap out of it, Spock!”  Kirk looked at his friend with intense concern.  “Spock!”

The Vulcan only smiled indulgently. “You will learn, you will have to.  You cannot leave, Jim.  I love you.”

Kirk stared, confused angered and repulsed by Spock’s timing if not his declaration.  “I can’t… deal with this right now.  Not now.  I’m going back to the ship.  Spock…”  Whatever he’d intended to say after that seemed to lodge in his throat along with three-quarters of his self-image.  Never before had he realized just how tied his personality was to his first officer’s.  He felt sundered, torn apart at his core.  "I'm going back to the ship," he repeated and walked away, breaking into a slow run, wanting to get away from Spock as soon as possible.

What greeted him aboard the Enterprise completed this fall into Wonderland.  The entire crew had mutinied and was in the process of beaming down to the planet.  Anger boiled in Kirk, the heat of it rivaling the power in the matter/antimatter chambers in the engine room below him.  He paced back and forth in this cabin, trying to contact someone who was still sane, trying to make some sense of what was happening.  The only progress he made was in angering himself further.

He tried to get McCoy to make some sense of what was happening but he was sidestepped by an extremely Southern gentleman who barely resembled his CMO.

His luck was no better with Scotty or Uhura or anyone else. Apparently, he'd been the only one not affected by this strange… disease.  He could think of it as nothing less.  It had to be connected to the Berthold radiation somehow, but the cause didn't seem as important as finding a way to reverse the effect.

He couldn't remember when he'd been so angry for so long.  And the more he thought, the more furious he grew.  Suddenly, amid the red rage in his mind, a small, white, clear thought began to form.

"Anger!  That's it!"  Kirk clasped his hands together in relief.  "Now, how do I go about making nearly four hundred people mad enough to slough off the effects of the… whatever-it-is?"  Obviously, the first place to begin was with Spock.  The thought of his friend brought him up short.

"Spock, dear God… what am I going to do with you?"  His elation at finding a solution to his problem dissolved in a sudden wave of tenderness.  The sight of his friend's face, so open and loving... "He said he loves me!"  The more he thought of it, the better he felt, until he was overcome with the need to see Spock, to tell him… "What?  What am I thinking?  Dammit!  Whatever's got my crew isn't going to get me... or Spock!"  His blissful haze vanished as if it had never been, all but a lingering emptiness as a small flame of memory pulled at his heart.  Later, J.T.  Deal with it later.

Spock agreed to come back to the ship to assist Kirk in transferring some equipment to the planet surface.  Jim's call had obviously come as a pleasant, if predictable, surprise to the Vulcan and Spock sounded only too happy to do anything that would bring Kirk down to the planet quickly. 

The Vulcan stepped off the transporter platform with a definite sparkle in his eyes.  "I'm so pleased that you have joined us, Jim."  He reached out and hugged Kirk before the captain could react.

"Joined you?"  Kirk pushed himself free of Spock's embrace.  "How dare you touch me!  Now, you mutinous, disloyal, computerized half-breed -- we'll see about you deserting my ship."

Spock stared at him, a small smile rekindling on his face.  "Jim… I love you, come back with me…"

Something inside Kirk surged at the loving tone in Spock's voice, but something closer to the surface forced him to continue.  "Love?  How dare you proclaim love for me, you don't know the meaning of the word.  You're a freak, an over-grown jackrabbit, an elf with an overactive thyroid."

"Jim, I do not understand…"

"Of course you don't understand.  You don't have the brains enough to understand, all you have is printed circuits.  You're nothing but a freak, the offspring of freaks; a computer and an encyclopedia."

"My mother was a teacher, my father is an ambassador."  Spock's face was beginning to lose some of its pleasant glow in the rising heat of anger.

"Your father is a freak, just like his son.  Ambassador from a planet of freaks.  The Vulcan never lived who had an ounce of integrity."

"Jim, please… don't…" Anger and sadness were growing rapidly within Spock, his face reflecting the speed at which the emotions were raging through him.

"You're a traitor from a race of traitors!  Disloyal to the core!  Rotten -- like all your sub-human race!  And you've got the gall to tell me you love me?  A human?"

"That is enough…" Spock growled.

"Not just yet," Kirk gathered all his strength, although wondering if he was truly insane as he saw Spock start toward him with a deep and solid anger in his eyes.  With a last deep breath, Kirk lunged at Spock, hitting the Vulcan squarely on the jaw.

Spock was on him instantly.  He knocked Kirk across the room with one blow, sending him crashing into the opposite bulkhead.  Kirk tried to stay clear of the berserker who inhabited his friend's body and mind, but Spock was everywhere.  Spock struck him again and again, finally reaching for a portable computer console and lifting it over his head, his intent clearly to crush Kirk beneath its weight.

Kirk smiled up at him.  "Had enough, Spock?"

Spock stared back, a look of utter confusion merging into hesitant comprehension.

"You did that deliberately," Spock accused him.

Kirk shifted, rubbing his jaw.  "Well, all in the line of duty… the… things, whatever's causing this behavior…"

"The spores…"

"Yeah, spores, whatever… they can't fight violent emotions, Spock.  I've been so dammed angry at the thought of losing my ship and crew… and at your rather poor timing… that they couldn't take a firm hold of me.  That's the answer, Spock.  Anger!"

"They are gone… I no longer belong."  The look of Spock's face almost destroyed all of Kirk's resolve to push personal considerations to the back burner for a while.

"Exactly," Kirk replied in a firm tone.  "Now, how to go about getting four hundred people mad enough to reject the spores?"

"A subsonic transmitter would produce the desired effect," Spock told him somewhat offhandedly.  "Captain, I struck a fellow officer…"

"Well, I got in a few blows myself.  If we're both in the brig, who's going to build the subsonic transmitter?"

Drawing himself up and into his Vulcan façade, Spock looked Kirk straight in the eye.  "Quite logical, Captain."

"Then let's get to it."

*****

In a few hours, the Enterprise was on her way to Starbase 27, crew and colonists safely and sanely aboard; a bit contrite and humbled, but all in one piece.

After securing the second watch on the bridge, Kirk decided it was time for a good meal.  With a guilty feeling in his stomach, he headed for sick bay, purposely avoiding his first officer's quarters on the way.  He couldn't face Spock yet.  Maybe McCoy would be able to offer some useful advice.

"Finally!  I thought I was gonna have to pry you off the bridge," McCoy greeted Kirk.

Kirk's smile was a bit strained and McCoy didn't let it pass unnoticed.  "Okay, why don't we have dinner in your quarters?  We can talk there."

"Fine."

Kirk's quick capitulation worried McCoy more than his lack of response to his gentle teasing.  He waited until they were seated in Kirk's quarters, meals in front of them, to broach the subject.

"Do I get to guess, or are you going to tell me?"

Kirk sighed, pushing his plate away, still half-full.  "It's Spock."

"What a surprise!"

"Bones, this is serious."

"I know.  I'm not making light, Jim.  I care, you know…"

Kirk waved him to silence.  "I know.  Bones, what am I going to do?"  Kirk's voice was a harsh whisper.

"I was there, I'm aware of Spock's… behavior, Jim.  But it's over.  We all acted a bit out of character.  He just got hit a little harder, that's all."

"Did anyone behave against their nature, Bones?  Did anyone do anything they didn't secretly want to do?  You told me yourself that the spores merely worked to lose some inhibitions, that they didn't cause us to lose control, only made it easier to…'let our hair down'."

"That's true, but…"

"Then it's true of Spock, also."

McCoy looked at him and decided that what his friend needed, besides a long vacation, was the truth.  "That's right.  No one behaved truly out of character, only… beyond character."

"So, where’s that leave me?"

"You know, Jim, after you came back up here, before you called Spock, he and I had some time to talk."

"And?"

"The man loves you."

Kirk's eyes filled and his gaze slipped away from McCoy's piercing blue eyes.  "I know…" he choked out.  "God help me, I know."

"What's got you so strung up?"

Kirk met his friend's eyes with pure disbelief.  "What do you think?"

"Oh, you think you're so heterosexual that you should be appalled at the thought of Spock being in love with you?  Is that it?"  McCoy's voice raked over his raw nerves.

"No..."

"Let me tell you something before you say one more word.  If you dare… if you dare hurtSpock, I'll personally see that you never captain anything again for as long as you live, not even a garbage scow!"

"Bones…"

"If there's any blame to place, it's on you for encouraging him to feel!  Well, James T. Kirk, it's time to take responsibility for your actions.  God!  I knew something like this would happen."  McCoy was on his feet, pointing an accusing finger at Kirk's surprised face.  "I hold you, and you alone, responsible for this mess."

Kirk stared at him, eyes wide.  Suddenly he began to laugh, his breath catching in great near-sobs. He finally calmed enough to address McCoy's confused look.

"If anyone had ever told me that one day you'd be ranting on like that, defending Spock's virtue, I'd have never believed it!  That's too good, Bones!  Oh… I can't remember the last time I laughed like that."  He continued to chuckle as he fought to catch his breath.

McCoy's icy voice cut through his amusement, a sharp sliver of steel in his brain.  "It's not funny."

"No." Kirk was serious again.  "I know it's not.  And you're right.  I am responsible.  But, what do I do?"

"What do you want to do?"

"I don't know."

"Do you love him?"

"I…" Kirk grasped for an answer.  "Yes… no... you could say…"

"Well, as long as you're certain…" McCoy sat back down, relenting somewhat in his accusation, realizing that Kirk hadn't been any more aware of what was happening than he or Spock.

Kirk's lips twitched a small smile.  "He's so special, Bones.  When I thought I was going to lose him, well, that hurt more than the thought of losing the ship.  That's why I almost decided to come down and join the party on the planet.  It seemed better to lose the ship -- lose it all -- than to lose him."

"And now?"

"I haven't spoken to him since."

"No one's spoken to him since… or rather, he's spoken to no one.  Haven't you noticed?"

"His 'Super Vulcan' act, you mean?  Of course I have.  It's to be expected after what happened."

"After he succumbed to the spores or after what he said to you?"

"Both."

"One," McCoy insisted.

"Okay, after what he said to me.  I didn't expect him to feel… I mean he couldn't possibly still…"

"You said it, Jim.  No one behaved out of character.  No one did anything they didn't secretly want to do.  That includes Spock."

"I guess I knew that," Kirk admitted.

"I'd guess you're scared shitless."

Kirk just looked at him in disgust.

"So, back to my question: what are you going to do about it?"

"I don't know!"  Kirk yelled, pushing away from the table to pace the room in quick strides.  "I wish this were all some weird dream or something!"

"Well, it's not.  I think maybe you're making yourself suffer for nothing.  Why not go ask Spock how things stand?"

"You really expect he’d deign to answer something like that?  Christ, Bones.  It's just not a subject you talk about to a Vulcan.  I mean, what am I supposed to say?  'Hi, Spock.  What's up?  Still in love with me?'"

"I think you can be a bit more diplomatic than that, but that's the essence, yes."

"Right."

"Right!  Whatever else you two are to each other, you're friends.  No one will ever convince me differently."

"I can't, Bones.  At least not until I have some idea of how I feel."

"I think you're making a big mistake.  The longer you wait, the worse this whole thing will get… for both of you.”

*****

Spock shrugged impatiently out of his meditation robe.  Once again he'd failed to attain even the most elementary level of concentration.  The very walls of his quarters seemed to mock him; even in this, his private sanctuary from the universe, he could find no peace.  A solution must be found.  He couldn't sleep, was falling behind in his work, didn't care to eat, couldn't meditate.  His depleted state, and his declining performance while on duty, would soon become apparent and he would be required to account for it to his commanding officer -- to Jim.

He slipped back into his uniform shirt and sat beside his desk, intending to begin to work on the pile of waiting reports, but his mind refused to turn from its recent obsessive mode.  The memory of the warm flood of contentment and belonging that had been temporarily his on Omicron Ceti III haunted him.

Admit it to yourself, he thought bitterly.  At the very least be honest in your own being; you are in love with him.  He dampened a nearly hysterical urge at laughter.  Infection, that is what this is; a human infection of emotion.  It will kill me.  Self-preservation poked its stony head from among Spock’s myriad defenses.  I must protect myself.  I have become poisoned with human emotion.  I must eradicate the illness, this disease is eating everything Vulcan within me.  In the relief that escape brought, he didn’t stop to hear or see the self-deception, the innate illogic in his argument.  The ship is the source, human environment filled with humans.  How could I not become infected with their irrational thinking?  It made sense, perfect, easy sense and Spock embraced the ready excuse with enthusiasm, formulating his plan with a sense of relief he didn’t stop to consider as emotional a reaction as love could be.

*****

"What the hell is this?"  Kirk demanded of the formal Vulcan before him.

"My resignation, sir."

"I see that!"  Kirk calmed himself, understanding more than he cared to admit why he held this paper in his hands.  "As your commanding officer, I demand an explanation."

"It is personal, sir."

"Not sufficient, mister."

"Captain, may I cite Section 16 of the Officer's Manual, page 25, paragraph three.  I quote, 'In extenuating circumstances of an extremely personal nature, an officer may cite 'personal causes' as reason for submitting resignation…'"

"Spock!"

"Yes, sir?"

"This is me, for Christ's sake!  Not some half-assed recruiting officer!  Talk to me."  His voice demanded compliance and Spock fought a truly difficult battle against the tone.

"Captain, I cite 'personal causes' for my request to be relieved of my duties upon arrival at Starbase 14 in four-point-two days' time."

Kirk stared at the man before him as if seeing him for the first time.  "I don't suppose it matters to you that I don't want you to leave.  That aside from your being the best first officer in the fleet and of the utmost professional value to me, personally I also find you indispensable."  He came out from behind his desk, approaching the too-still Vulcan.  "This is because of Omicron Ceti, isn't it?  Because of what happened between us?  Bones was right, I should have done something right away."  He was nearly toe-to-toe with his friend, forcing Spock to meet his gaze by pure will.  "I was mixed up, Spock.  You really threw me a curve.  Not the essence of what you said, but that you said it.  I always knew there was something special between us, beyond the professional rapport we have, I mean."

"Captain…" Spock attempted to step away and remove himself from the very uncomfortable situation.

"No!  If I have to lose you, for whatever reason, I'm going to lose you with a clear conscience, knowing that I tried to stop you, that I told you everything I've always wanted to tell you.  And you will listen to me, mister.  If I have to order you to remain here, I will."

Spock assumed an 'at ease' pose and fixed his eyes on a point above Kirk's head.

"Good enough."  Kirk sat on the edge of his desk and focused his eyes on Spock's.  "As I was saying, I always knew there was something special between us, but I never expected either of us to actually put it into words, especially not you.  When I thought I was losing you I was afraid, more than I was afraid of losing the ship, and I nearly gave in to the spores, nearly joined you, Spock.  I love you, and I refuse to apologize to you for that.  Apparently you're ashamed of how you feel -- or at least how you said you feel -- about me.  Fine.  I guess we could live with that, could work it out if we tried.  I could live with knowing that you don't love me, that you even lied to me back down on that dammed planet.  But I can't live without you, Spock.  Please!"  He couldn't look at the stone face any longer.  His eyes rested firmly on the deck at his feet.  "Please don't leave me, Spock."

Silence greeted his plea and, finally, he did look up.  Spock's eyes were devoid of any clue as to what he was thinking.  For one of the few times Kirk could remember, he couldn't read his friend.  He felt something inside himself crack and dissolve into sharp tongues of fire.  The heat lapped at the backs of his eyes, threatening to consume him.

"Okay, Spock.  At least I said what I had to.  I want you to think -- or meditate -- or whatever.  If you still want me to sign these papers in 48 hours, I will, as per regulations."

"May I leave, sir?"

"Get out of here, Spock."  Kirk turned his back on the oppressive 'swoosh' of his office door as it shut behind the Vulcan.

*****

"Personal log: Stardate 3923.7.  I guess I didn't expect him to change his mind, I knew that what I said would make little or no difference.  I could see it in the lack of any feeling in his eyes.  For the first time in a very long time, I actually prayed when he walked out of my office five days ago.  I prayed to every and any god who could or would listen that he stay.  I guess I didn't expect that to make a difference either.

"He left me a tape.  I haven't listen to it yet.  I've been sitting here, holding it for… I don't know how long it's been.  I'm scared and I don't know why or of what.  I guess that I'll find everything I think and feel about him is fundamentally wrong.  I know it's not, that no attempt on his part to convince me that I've been wrong about him will work.  But, I don't want to hear him try.

"Sitting here, second guessing him, isn't helping any.  I might as well get this over with."

Kirk hit the pause button on his log and inserted the red tape cartridge he'd found on his desk that morning.  Spock's voice filled the room; there was no visual and Kirk felt both disappointed and relieved.

"Captain Kirk… Captain Kirk, I regret any inconvenience my unexpected departure may cause the ship.  I have left a full manifest of present scientific projects in progress in my department.  I'm certain my successor shall find the records sufficient."  The tape clicked softly, indicating that the pause button had been depressed.  Then Spock's voice continued, a bit softer.  "Captain… Jim… I offer no excuse nor can I offer an explanation for my behavior on Omicron Ceti III or afterward.  I did think about what you said to me and I found much truth in it, perhaps more than you are aware of speaking.  I too am…'mixed up', as you said.  But, our natures are such that our attempts to rectify this confusion are drastically different.

"I find I have a deep... need to return to my home, to reacquaint myself with the ways of my people.  It has been too long since I've walked the sands of my home world in peace.  I find that I… miss it more than I had thought possible.  Perhaps if I had not lost sight of my heritage, of my ultimate heritage, the unfortunate events which occurred upon our visit to Vulcan could have been avoided.  That is the past, however, as are the events which transpired on Omicron Ceti III.  I must consider the future now, my future; I find it no longer lies along the same course as yours.

"I will welcome any meetings we may chance upon in the years to come.  I respect you, James Kirk.  And I shall… miss you.  Spock out."

Kirk stared at the bulkhead with a sense of time-displacement.  For a moment, he was unsure where or at what point of time he was… or even who.  The voice that emanated from the console resembled that of his friend, but the words were alien as no words from Spock had ever been.  It was rejection, pure and simple, and Spock hadn't even bothered to try to hide the fact.  With a numb heart, Kirk reached to resume his log.

"Personal log, continuation: That's clear enough.  I don't even know for sure whether he really felt anything or not.  That's not true.  I know.  But it does me little good.

"So!  On with my life.  There's a mountain of work waiting, as usual.  And until the new Science head takes over, I'll be supervising down in that department.  A bit out of practice in that area, but I'll manage.  Sulu’s acting First for now.  We’ll see how he does. 

“Our present course is taking us toward the Organian Treaty Zone.  A little discreet spying will take up about three weeks.

“My shift starts in fifteen minutes.  Just enough time to take a shower.

“Kirk out.”

His hand dropped listlessly from the off switch and he stared at the darkened indicator light.  He felt the darkness pull at him, drawing him into its imprisoning blackness.  He shook himself and headed for the shower, his mind feeling squeezed dry.  He could hear the dust sweeping up toward his eyes, enfolding his brain in musty stasis.

*****

At first, Amanda couldn't believe that particular book was missing, knowing the only person who would possibly have borrowed it.  But the small, dark cavern between "The Colossus" and "Crossing the Water" stared at her in silent proof.  "Ariel" was gone.  And Spock had to have it.

Enough was enough.  The fact of her son's abnormal, self-destructive behavior aside, he had to be ill if he was reading Sylvia Plath -- that particular book of Sylvia Plath -- for this extended amount of time.  The book had been gone for three days.  It couldn't be that Spock had simply forgotten to return it, he never would be so careless with one of her priceless volumes.  He had to be keeping it quite on purpose.

Spock had been gazing out his window most of the afternoon, the poem still haunting him, the book clutched in his hands.  The knock at the door jarred him from his musing; it was quite rare that anyone should choose to disturb his solitude.  With mild curiosity, he called for whoever it was to enter.

"Spock?"

"Yes, Mother?"

She looked so small, the worry in her eyes pricking his soul.  "I want to speak with you, Spock.  I can't allow this to continue any longer."  She sat on the edge of his bed, looking up at him sternly.

"What is that?"

"Don't bandy words with me!  I've been playing that game much longer than you have… and I'm better at it, I'd win.  Please, Spock, come sit by me."  She patted the spot on the bed next her, feeling the familiarity quite within her rights as a concerned mother.

Spock sat, turning slightly toward her, but not looking at her.  "I will listen, Mother."

"You'll do more than that, you will talk to me."  She rested her hands on Spock's forearm.  "What is it, Son?  Ever since you returned, you've been so discontented.  I know it's not your Time," she shook her head angrily at his frown of disapproval.  "I am your mother!  Don't you dare spout Vulcan ethics to me.  No one else will broach the subject of bondmate to you after that… that fiasco with T'Pring!  But that's not what I'm here for, so don't try to sidetrack me."

"It was you who brought up the subject…"

"Yes, well, that's of no concern at the moment.  Spock, your superiors at Starfleet may accept the fact that you felt you could no longer remain part of a military organization on moral grounds, that you felt you belong here at the Science Academy after all, but I don't.  Even your father has his doubts.  I've seen you day after day over the past few months.  You're intensely unhappy."

"I am Vulcan, Mother.  Vulcans are neither happy nor unhappy…"

"Stop it!  I am well aware of your nature, Spock.  Your father and I are concerned.  Please, tell me what it is."

"I cannot, Mother."

"This have to do with the Enterprise?"

He left the bed and went to gaze out the window.

"Certainly it could have nothing to do with your friends…" At the unmistakable shiver that ran up the length of Spock's back, something clicked inside Amanda.  "Is it Jim Kirk?"

He whirled on her, eyes wide, mouth posed on the brim of words.  Then he straightened and nearly all sign of shock was gone.

"You are ashamed of being in love?"

His voice was hollow when he spoke.  "I said nothing else…"

"You didn't need to.  You forget, I am your mother, I know you well.  I am also human and such things as love need not be spoken of for us to hear them."

"You do not understand, Mother."

"Of course I do.  It is difficult to accept in oneself; the love for another of the same sex.  It is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to fear.  It is as beautiful as any love, perhaps more so considering it's Jim Kirk whom you love."  She smiled sadly at his paling face.  "It is the individual you love, Son, not the gender."

"How can you be so accepting?"

"Your father and I respect and care for your captain.  Neither of us could choose a better partner for you.  After T’Pring… well, we knew you would not accept a traditional arrangement again.  I don't blame you.  It was a serious miscalculation on our part.  We regret causing such pain, nearly causing your death.  I suspected then, when we heard the details of what transpired, that there was more between you and your captain than either of you suspected."

He turned from her again.  "It is not so simple."

"Have you spoken to Jim about this?"

Spock actually laughed at that.  "Unfortunately, I could not avoid speaking to him about it."

"Did he reject you?"

Spock shook his head.

"Did he accept you?"

Spock spread his arms wide in utter loss of words, his back still to Amanda.  "Mother…"

She went to him, reaching up to place a hand on his shoulder, squeezing its gently.  She shivered at the slight contact so long denied both of them.  "It's a matter you must settle within yourself, Son.  But if you need me, I will be near."  She let her hand sweep down his arm to end up holding his hand gently.  "I will be near."

Spock heard the door shut behind her and closed his eyes, tightening them against the threatening surge of emotion he could no longer suppress.

*****

Kirk awoke with a start.  He was cold and stiff and not ready to get out of bed.  Turning over and pulling the quilt closer around him, he settled back into the soft folds, hoping to return to what had been a dreamless sleep.  It was then that he realized what had woken him in the first place; the door buzzer.  With a low curse, he reached for the intercom.

"Who?"

"Hi ya, Jim-boy!  Are you gonna let me in or do I get to stand out here all day?"  McCoy's beaming face set Kirk's nerves instantly on edge.

"What are you doing here?"

"Well, that's friendly, ain’t it?  Come on, Jim.  Let me in, will ya?"

"Just a minute."  Kirk pulled on a robe and made his way down the stairs, feeling the aftereffects of too much alcohol and emotion take their toll.  His right foot caught in the fabric of his forgotten uniform pants and he nearly fell the rest of the way to the first floor.  "God damn!"  He jerked his foot free, flinging the would-be murder weapon across the room.  More than a little shaky, he released the front door and turned away without a word of greeting.

"I'm glad to see you too, Jim.  Nice place you got here."  McCoy bent to retrieve the other half of the ignored uniform.  "Ain’t ya got no one to pick up after ya?"

"What are you doing here, Bones?  I thought the ship wasn't due back for two more months." 

"It's not.  I'm here is all.  Needed some rest of my own, so I left Chapel in charge and took off.  I had time coming."

Bloodshot eyes regarded him suspiciously.  "Sure.  Come to check up on your loon of a captain is what you're doing here, isn't it?  Well, you may be too late."  He reached for the nearly empty bottle of gin on the bar and took a bit of 'cure', grimacing as it burned in his raging stomach.

"That's not going to help, you know," McCoy observed..

"Can't hurt," was Kirk's only reply as he took another drink.

"Why don't you let me take you out to breakfast?  It's a beautiful day and you could use some fresh air."

"No thanks, Doctor."

McCoy sat down, watching as Kirk wandered around the apartment, kicking at discarded clothes, grabbing up long-forgotten plates of disintegrating food.  "Guess the place is a bit of a mess," he observed unnecessarily.  "Let the help go; didn't like the way they looked at me."  He smiled unexpectedly at McCoy.  "What's the matter?  Nothing psychologically significant about that?  Paranoid perhaps?"

"There's nothing wrong with you, Jim."

"No?  Could've fooled me."

"Dammit, Jim!  Will you please talk to me?"

"I thought I was talking to you, Bones," Kirk replied innocently.  "What do you want to hear?  Just tell me and I'll say it.  That I want the ship back?  That I can't stand being grounded?  That I miss command, the crew… Spock?  Is that what you really want to hear, that I miss Spock?  Well, I do.  I miss him like hell. And you told me so, didn't you?  Should have listened to good old Bones McCoy's advice.  Is that what you're thinking, Doctor?  Well I did listen!  I talked to him, told him I loved him, as a matter of fact.  That didn't stop him from leaving me."  He paused, out of breath and feeling the tears welling again, promising to spill any second.  He turned his back, rubbing at his eyes.

"Jim, if you'd just try again, I'm sure…"

"No.  If you'd seen that scene with him, you'd never ask me to repeat it."

"You know Spock better than anyone, Jim.  You know how hard this must be for him?"

"Yeah, I know.  About as hard as it is for me.  Think about it, Bones.  James T. Kirk, galactic super-fucker and Wonder Boy finding himself head-over-ass in love with a skinny, computer-brained, male Vulcan.  Think that one was easy to swallow?"

"Of course not, but…"

"Can't even get it up for a woman now, Bones.  Impotent as hell and not even very sorry about it.  It's not fair to fuck one person while dreaming of another, not very mannerly at all."

"Jim…"

"What?  What do you want from me, Bones?"  Jim pleaded, finally coming to settle on his knees in front of McCoy. 

"I want you to get ahold of yourself and talk about this rationally, that's what I want!  I want Captain James T. Kirk back where he belongs.  And I want this self-indulgent child back where he belongs too; in your subconscious!"

"Easy for you to say." Kirk smiled slightly at his friend.  "It is good to see you, Bones."

"Couldn't tell by you," McCoy replied, leaning over to brush the hair from Kirk's eyes. "It's good to see you, too."

"How is everyone?  The ship?"

"Okay.  We need you back, Jim… all of us."

"I don't know.  I don't think I can…"

"You're still Jim Kirk, that hasn't changed."

"Hasn't it?  Bones, who is Jim Kirk?  Certainly not the kid who took command of the Enterprise.  That person's long gone.  The person who's taken his place is… more than he was.  I mean, part of him is part of someone else… I can't explain it very well.  Somehow, who I am and who Spock is got mixed up, connected.  I can't seem to function on my own.  You saw what happened when he left.  I was half-incompetent."

"That's just a matter of habit.  You have to get used to having a person in the Science seat now instead of a half-computer, half-genius symbiotic creature.  You can get used to that, I know it.  That's what all starship captains have.  You were unusual in having a First who was a Vulcan… who was Spock, you know that."

"Unusual… Yeah, that was… we were. 'The best ship in the fleet', 'the best first officer', 'the best crew', 'the best CMO', 'the best…'  How can I be ordinary now, Bones?  I don't know how to be ordinary."

"You'll never be that.  On your own you're extraordinary.  You don't need Spock for that."

"Don't I?"

"No."

"I don't know.  I just don't know."

*****

McCoy sat in his room at Starfleet H.Q., having left Kirk in a black mood which he felt best left alone to work itself out.  He was at a loss as to what to do now.  Reasoning with Jim got him nowhere, pleading didn't help, logic didn't work… Logic… "Why not?" he asked himself, a grin growing on his face.  "Why the hell not?"

He reached for the com-link, punching in the code for off-world calls.  "I want to place a call to Vulcan, Ambassador Sarek's residence in Shi Kahr."

"Is this Commander McCoy from the USS Enterprise?" a surprised voice asked.

Taken aback at the recognition, McCoy merely nodded.

The operator continued, "I have an incoming call from Vulcan for you, sir.  It's Ambassador Sarek’s wife."

Amanda?  "Put her through, operator."  McCoy leaned anxiously toward the screen.

"Dr. McCoy," Amanda greeted him calmly.

"Lady Amanda, it's very good to hear from you," he answered, trying to calm his swirling emotions.  Is something wrong with Spock?

"When I contacted the ship and found you and the captain both on leave, I was hesitant to try to contact you.  I hope I'm not disturbing you."

"Of course not."

"I'm sure my call surprises you, Doctor.  I won't keep you in suspense.  It's Spock."

"Is he okay?"

"He is not ill.  It is difficult to explain."

"Maybe not as difficult as you think."

"Are you with the captain now?"

"I just left him a few minutes ago."

"By the look on your face, I assume he is in the same condition as my son."

"If you mean withdrawn and despondent, yes, he is."

"Are you aware of the cause of this, Doctor?"

"Yes.  Are you?"

"Yes."

They looked at each other, neither wanting to break what amounted to strict confidences, both needing to do something.  Finally, Amanda broke the silence.

"My son is in love with Jim Kirk."

"Jim Kirk is in love with your son."

"Well, we certainly can't allow this to continue.  I tried to tell Spock that ignoring a situation doesn't make it go away.  But he won't listen..."

McCoy smiled at her maternal tone.  "It's the same here.  Jim's slipping deeper into depression every day and, frankly, I'm at my wit's end as to how to help him."

"Doctor." Amanda paused as if trying to come to a difficult decision.  "Doctor, do you think you could manage to get Jim off-planet?"

"I don't know.  Why?  Where to?"

"Sarek insists I spend the hottest months of the year in a cooler climate.  Usually, he tries to accompany me or I take a companion.  This year, Sarek is involved elsewhere and I thought it would be nice if Spock accompanied me."  She held up a hand to halt McCoy's response.  "At first I thought it would be good for Spock, a change of scenery.  Now I see it as the opportunity we need to get them together."

McCoy's eyes glimmered.  "I think you may have something.  Where were you thinking of going?"

*****

Kirk relaxed back into the plush seat of the lunar shuttle, feeling light-headed from more than the long-missed space travel.  It hadn't taken much talking for McCoy to get him to go on this trip.  A few weeks on Denar sounded just the ticket.  It was a gentle planet, with just enough nightlife to keep things interesting.  But what really drew Kirk's attention this visit was the vast expanses of wilderness.  They had arranged to rent a small cabin not too far from a lake halfway up the rather steep mountain range just outside the main city of Ualit. Kirk could almost feel the soft breezes flit across his skin as the mild sun beat down on his back.

"You okay, Jim?"  McCoy shook him gently.  "You sleeping with your eyes open or just daydreaming?"

"Can a person have nightmares during the day, when awake, I mean?"

McCoy looked at him carefully.  Getting Kirk off-planet hadn't proved as hard as he feared, but getting him to let go of his despair was another matter.  "It's been known to happen.  Why?"

"I was just thinking about Wrigley’s… and comparing it to Ualit.  Not that I think there's any true comparison, but Ualit does have its attractions.  Think I'll skip those particular pursuits this time around."

"Good.  You need to rest, not have a gaggle of nude girls hanging all over you.  Besides, I don't need the competition."

Kirk smiled.  "No need to worry about that anymore."

"Jim…"

"You up for some camping and fishing?"

"Sure.  Sounds great…"

"Liar!  You hate to camp.  But you'd do it for me, wouldn't you?  You are so much like Spock sometimes, you know that?"

"No need to go insulting a fella now…"

"It'll be nice, Bones.  Give me time to consider my options."

McCoy had nothing to say to that, so he settled back to watch as they approached Lunar Base Two and its adjoining spaceport.  Several large passenger liners floated out beyond the moon like beached whales.  The largest of the lot was headed for Denar and then on to the Rigel Colonies.  He looked at the size of the Spin Drift II, comparing it to the Enterprise.  This ship would dwarf the old girl by at least ten times.  He glanced back at Kirk, expecting him to be looking over the vast array of some of the fanciest ships in the galaxy, but found him staring at the ceiling instead.

It's going to be a mighty long trip, McCoy, he told himself, praying that Amanda had managed all the arrangements.

*****

Spock didn't question his mother's request that he accompany her on her annual retreat.  It would be pleasant to have a change, get away from the stifling atmosphere of the Academy.  He found himself becoming increasingly claustrophobic while at work and uncomfortably warm while outside.  He refused to admit that he had become used to the excitement of starship service... or that he had become acclimated to human-normal atmosphere.  He simply continued to ignore his discomfort and dissatisfaction, attributing it to a readjustment period.

Denar was an excellent choice for Amanda's vacation.  The atmosphere was near Earth-norm; temperature between 65° and 75°, humidity approximately 35%, a much higher oxygen content than Vulcan, and beaches, lovely beaches.  To Spock's minor disappointment, however, Amanda had chosen a spot not by a beach but in the mountains not far from Ualit.  It was a quiet, cool spot and would allow more than enough time for Spock to hike and meditate; all in all quite agreeable surroundings.

It was with the first genuine sense of anticipation Spock had had in months, that he followed his mother quietly into the shuttle that would take them from the passenger ship they traveled on to the planet.  Rather uncharacteristically he reached to take Amanda's elbow to guide her, receiving a warm smile as reward.

*****

Kirk stood at the top of a shallow cliff and surveyed the surrounding wilderness with great pleasure.  He'd found the promontory on the second day on Denar and had taken to beginning all his days here, gathering his thoughts… or chasing them away depending on how his previous night had been.  Today he felt fine for the first time in longer than he cared to remember.  He'd slept well with few dreams and those he did have were not the usual nightmares, but of sweet, gentle memories of times when everything had been right… times when Spock was still with him.

Shaking off the ruminations that had settled like fog about him, Kirk turned from the view to head down the opposite side of the hill from which he'd come.  He'd spent the past six days hiking alone except for the one day McCoy had joined him.  Today Bones had called a halt to his own banishment from the pleasures of Ualit and had declared the next four days his for carousing.

"Just because you don't want to enjoy the sights, doesn't mean I have to abstain as well, you know," McCoy had responded to Kirk's gentle teasing.

He'd sat on McCoy's bed, watching him pack a small bag.  "Not afraid to leave me alone anymore?"  Kirk couldn't quite hide the sarcasm.

"No, not really," McCoy answered honestly.  "You've essentially been alone for the past week, spending all your time out here," he nodded in the general direction of outdoors.

"I need time to think, Bones."

"Sometimes thinking too much ain't a good thing."

"That your medical opinion?"

"It's an honest opinion.  Jim, you’re gonna have to get back into the swing of things pretty darn soon."

"I know.  That's what I've been thinking about... well, part of the time."  Kirk looked sheepishly away.  "I have to come to terms with everything, that's all."

"I know.  I think you need some real-time alone, without a nursemaid.  That's part of why I'm leaving for a while."

They walked to the front door together.  Kirk draped an arm across McCoy's shoulders.

"Have a good time, Bones.  And don't do anything I wouldn't have done."

McCoy grinned at Kirk's gentle self-deprecating humor.  "If I do half of what you've done on leave it'll be about all I can handle at my age.  Take care, Jim.  You know where I'll be.  Call if you need anything… anything at all.  Promise?"

"Sure, sure.  I'll be fine.  Now, go.  You'll miss your transport."

With another grin, McCoy left.

*****

Spock had watched discreetly for five days.  When he’d first spotted the other man, he'd nearly run to him, casting all doubt to the proverbial winds.  Then reason had taken over.  It had been a long time since he left the Enterprise.  Maybe Jim had grown to hate him.  Maybe it would do more harm than good to approach him now.  So he’d followed, always keeping the golden figure just within his sight, taking care not to be spotted, not to be heard.  Once or twice, he'd thought Kirk had seen him.  Kirk had stopped, cocked his head as if listening, turned completely around, searching his surroundings, then shrugged and continued on his way.

Each day became more difficult.  There was no sign of what Kirk was thinking, only that he was thinking intently about something.  Spock couldn't have missed that intensely studious look if he'd been on the next mountain range over.  Those dear features were as well known to him as the fleet regulation manual…. perhaps better.

The seventh day brought extra warmth and a soft sea breeze, filling the mountains with a salty flavor.  Spock rose early and staked out his usual covert observation site.  He had a perfect view of the cabin Kirk and McCoy shared and he didn't miss a moment of their farewell.  He remained hidden as Kirk left the cabin and took his usual route to the cliff not too far up the hill.  He followed quietly.

The gentle, mildly discordant sound of Kirk's whistling brought renewed burning to Spock stomach.  The contentment implicit in that music told of a mind gentled, certainly not belonging to the ravaged-faced, stiff-bodied figure he'd been watching the past days.  He felt encouraged, anticipating possibilities he'd discarded as pure fantasy.

Had Jim resolved the turmoil he was obviously harboring?  Spock didn't stop to wonder at the source of Jim's upheaval.  He had felt it radiating even from the distance at which he followed his former commanding officer.

Having slid into deep ruminations, Spock became careless and let the distance between him and his quarry lessen more than he'd planned.

Kirk stopped, obviously listening, Spock thought, for his own foot-tread.  Spock froze.  All that met his ears was the breeze and the cries of native birds.  He watched as Kirk glanced around, then heard him call, "Who is it?  Come on out.  I won't hurt you.  What do you want?"  As he spoke, he turned in a slow circle, searching the surrounding foliage.  "Who's there?" he called again, voice more irritated.

A chill ran through Spock and he knew it was useless to pretend he wasn’t there.  Jim was aware of his presence and Spock knew Kirk well enough to know that he wouldn’t ignore the fact that someone was following him.

Taking a deep breath for courage, Spock straightened from this crouch and took a step in Kirk’s direction.

*****

Kirk stared at the figure before him, truly believing he'd finally gone mad.  He shook his head and closed his eyes, hoping the vision would be gone when he opened them.

"Jim…?"

Kirk's eyes snapped open at the sound of Spock's voice.  "Spock!  What…?"

"I ask your forgiveness.  It was inexcusable of me to follow you.  It is only that…" His voice faded to thinness as their eyes caught and held.

"Spock…" Kirk shook his head again, not knowing what to say.

"Are you well?"  Spock asked somewhat lamely.

Kirk nodded.  "You?"

"I am functional."

Kirk smiled at the familiar response.  "You don't look very well, Spock.  You look too thin."

Spock swept Kirk with an appraising glance.  "As do you."

Kirk smiled again.  "Unusual, wouldn't you say?"

Spock only looked at him.

"Uh… do you think, now that we've sort of run into each other, do you think we could… talk?"

"I would welcome the opportunity."

"Let's go back to the cabin, okay?  I mean, if you'd rather not...."

"That would be fine, Jim."  Spock's eyes softened at Kirk's obvious nervousness.  "There's no need to feel uncomfortable, Jim.  It is only me."

Kirk had started down the path, but turned at Spock's last statement, meeting his gaze levelly.  "That's the best reason I can think of to be nervous at the moment, Mr. Spock."

Spock acknowledged that odd truth with a small nod and quietly fell in behind Kirk.

*****

"Would you like some tea?"  Kirk asked, leading the way into the small kitchen.  "I've become very good at making it."  Realizing what he'd revealed, Kirk turned to Spock.  "It made me feel… close to you, somehow, making 'your' tea, drinking it as you do."  He shrugged and turned back to this task.

Spock seated himself at the table and watched as Kirk put the kettle on and prepared a teapot with his favorite strain of herb.  The sight warmed him, bringing Kirk's own pain near to him once more.

After a few moments, Kirk settled across from Spock, his eyes flittering around the room, looking everywhere but at the man across from him.

"Jim."  Spock reached out a hand but didn't touch Kirk.

Misted, hazel eyes rested on him, silently admitting the terror behind them.  "I simply don't know what to say to you, Spock.  There's too much, I guess.  And I'm… afraid to offend you, afraid of making you run away again."  He wet his lips.  "I never thought I'd see you again…" His eyes filled more and his voice choked off.

Spock's heart did mysteriously swift leaps, causing his own throat to constrict oddly.  "You do realize that our meeting was not accidental?"

Kirk looked at him, biting firmly on his lower lip.  "Bones?"

Spock nodded.  "And Amanda.  I am here at her request."

The atmosphere lightened a bit. Kirk smiled.  Just then, the kettle whistled.  The next few minutes were busied with preparing the tea and pouring.  Spock accepted his cup gently, hands trembling as his fingers brushed Kirk's.  He tasted the fragrant brew, eyebrows sliding up his forehead in surprise.  "It is excellent, Jim."

"I'm glad you like it.  I found it calming, just as you always claimed."

They drank in silence for a while before Spock put his cup down and looked at Kirk expectantly.  "You said you would like to talk."

"I'd like to say the right thing.  I don't know what that is though."

"Perhaps if you began, the 'right thing' would come naturally."

"Easy for you to say…" Kirk began off-handedly, but one look at his friend's eyes told him differently.  "No, I guess it's not easy for you either.  Look, what I said to you back then, on the ship… It's still true, Spock.  I can't do anything about it, I've tried.  I'm not sure I really want to do anything to change the way I feel; if I did, maybe I'd have had some success.

"I have to decide what I'm going to do, you know.  I've been on extensive leave… diplomatic term for 'psycho-leave'.  I haven't exactly been the model of what Starfleet had in mind for their starship captains."

He sipped at his tea, staring into the nearly empty cup.  "I think I'm going to have to give up the ship, Spock.  I've lost it, can't function anymore."  Deciding that, at this point, risk was a very relative thing, Kirk took the final step.  "I'm lost without you, Spock."

"I love you."  The response was so quiet, Kirk nearly missed it.  When it finally did register, he refused to believe what he'd heard.

"I can't ask you to come back…"

"Jim, did you hear what I said?"

Kirk nodded, continuing to stare into his cup.

"Jim…" Spock reached over to tip Kirk's chin up.  It was then that a tear plopped into the dregs of Kirk's tea.  "You're crying…" Spock observed with a mixture of awe and remorse.

Kirk nodded again, not bothering to deny it, not bothering to even try to stop.  "I've done a lot of this lately," he whispered.

"Why?"

"Not for the same reason I am now," Kirk managed, lifting a tear-streaked face to look at Spock.  A smile radiated heat from beneath the tears.  "You love me…"  The words were spoken as a supplication, a benediction, a myth suddenly realized as true.

"Yes.  I love you."  Spock's eyes smiled across the table.

"Have I told you that I love you, too?  I mean lately?"

"No, you have not.  But I have not forgotten the time you did tell me.  It has been both life-giving and life-threatening these past months.  I knew I must live without you but found that an impossible task."

"Spock…"

"You are life, Jim.  Without you…"

Their hands reached of their own accord across the expanse of table, clutching each other in desperation.  The simple contact opened their empathic link and both began to tremble.  Fingers tightly entwined, eyes glued to each other's, they both smiled.

"I think there's still much to say, Spock," Kirk whispered.

"Such as?"

"Such as: I am certain I want to spend the rest of my life with you.  Such as: I'm afraid because I'm human and I have no idea how my needs will affect you.  Such as: you are Vulcan and I have no idea at all as to what your needs are.  Such as: please, Spock… please tell me you want to make love with me… now."

"I want to make love with you, Jim.  Now and forever."

Kirk heard the unspoken.  "But…?"

"But, I do not know how."  Spock's voice was shy, mildly embarrassed, but his gaze remained firmly locked with Kirk's.  "I trust you can remedy my ignorance, Captain?"

Kirk smiled.  "It is my foremost goal in life, my ultimate duty, to fill in the gaps for you, Mr. Spock.  Shall we begin with lesson number one?"

Spock's eyes glimmered with interest.  "And what might that entail, sir?"

Kirk rose and stood before his friend.  "An ancient human custom."

"Which one?"  Spock squirmed as Kirk's fingers combed through his hair.

"Simple oral contact, mister.  Surely you've heard it."

"Yes.  I believe I have heard of the practice.  'Kissing' is the correct terminology, is it not…?"  His sentence was halted by Kirk's mouth gently brushing his.  The velvet-soft lips skidded across his, warm, human-breath cuddling his mouth.

Kirk pulled back to look at Spock.  As if by a miracle, the lines in Spock's face seemed lessened, the ever-present strain eased.  A wondering glow shone from the topaz eyes that met his own, possessing him, commanding him to repeat his actions.

In a sudden shifting of rank, Kirk obeyed his commander willingly, leaning down to kiss Spock again.  Their lips barely touched before Kirk pulled away, questioning gaze on his friend's.

"Please…" was all Spock could say in answer to that unspoken question.  He found himself gently pulled to his feet, his hand taken in a blunter, cooler grip.  Slowly, Kirk led him from the kitchen to the bedroom.

Spock drifted into the circle of thick, loving bands of flesh as Kirk's arms cradled him against his chest.  Slow hands created innumerable arabesques on Spock's back, finding sensitive areas where Spock thought they had no right to be.  Swept away by wave after wave of dizzy pleasure, Spock could only cling to Kirk, hold desperately to the tender body, his only anchor to any reality.

Sweet breath tickled a pointed ear; a moist, impossibly cool tongue searched the hollow at the base of the lobe where ear met neck then skittered down to suck a path to Spock's left shoulder.  Teasing eyes scanned his face before Kirk's tongue attacked the other ear.

Kirk's fingers had loosened and pulled Spock's shirt away to expose the thick mat of hair on the taller man's chest, allowing access to his shoulders.  Now he completely unfastened it and slipped the soft fabric from Spock's body, unwittingly releasing Spock-scent which instantly brought Kirk's arousal to peak.

Gently, Kirk moved back, consciously making an effort to still the throbbing in his groin.  His eye was caught by the abnormally rapid movement of Spock's chest and abdomen as he gasped for air.  This did nothing to help his own excitement abate.

"You drive me crazy, Spock."  Kirk nuzzled the hollow in Spock's throat.  "You smell so good… Why do you smell so good, Spock?"  His exploration once again reached Spock's mouth and further comments were suspended for the moment.  "And you're so damned beautiful!  How can you be this beautiful?"

Spock felt compelled to answer the questions, but found he had no breath to do so.  Instead, he willed his suddenly stone-heavy arms to reach for Kirk, pulling him firmly against him once more.  Hands slowed with previously unknown sensations strolled up and down Kirk's back, coming to rest of their own accord on two firm mounds of flesh.  Spock squeezed experimentally and found Kirk's hips thrust against his own erection.  The sensation was incredible and a moan of intense pleasure seeped from his lips.

"I want to, Spock," Kirk breathed, heavy-lidded eyes raking over Spock's heaving chest.  "I want to feel you… all of you.  And I want you to touch me.  I want to see you naked."  These gentle demands came between caresses which guided and cajoled Spock out of the remainder of his clothes.  When the Vulcan stood before him, naked and fully aroused, Kirk quickly reached to remove his own clothes, feeling them smothering his smoldering flesh.

Spock surveyed the glory revealed to him; broad shoulders, rapidly rising and falling chest, strong arms holding and caressing his own, slim hips, strongly corded thighs and the pleadingly erect penis between.  Spock felt moved to the core, awed in the trust Kirk was placing in him.  And returning that trust in full, he decided to allow his instincts and secret wishes full reign.

"Touch me, Jim.  Please touch me…" Spock had hold of Kirk's right hand and now urged it downward toward his waiting erection.  He felt certain the universe had come to a sudden and complete stop as Kirk's cool fingers lightly brushed the tip of his penis, slipped feather-soft down the shaft and skimmed over his testicles.  The caresses continued across the inside of his left thigh, around and up his hips then back down, fingers landing barely within the hollow of his ass.

"Jim…" Spock moaned as those teasing hands found the dip in his lower back and then repeated their delve into the recesses below.  "Yes…"

"Oh, Spock… I want you to feel so good, I want to bring you pleasure.  What sweetness." Kirk kissed Spock's closed eyes, easing them both down onto the edge of the bed before they fell over.  "You're so sweet…" He tipped them onto their sides, insinuating one leg between Spock's.  Draping the other leg over Spock's hip, Kirk rolled onto him, scooting up so their eyes were level.  "Look at me, Spock," he coaxed.

Spock's eyes peeled open, gleaming with unspoken depths, promising so much more.  A smile accompanied the desperate movement of Spock's hands to encompass as much flesh as he could  as quickly as possible.

"I've been so… afraid of this," Spock whispered, eyes following his hands.  "So very much afraid of touching you, of you touching me.  Yet… I desired it so…" The wiggle of Kirk's body against his own was the only encouragement he needed to continue.  His hands stilled momentarily and their eyes sought each other.  "On Omicron Ceti III," Spock gasped, try to regain some control, "these… feelings swept over me so swiftly.  I wanted to take you right then -- even later -- aboard ship when you baited me into a fight.  I still wanted you.  And when you came to… me and tried to find out what was wrong… it was still with me.  I could no longer blame it on the spores."  Spock gulped for air, finding it strangely difficult to find any cool enough to breathe.  Not wishing to release his hold on Kirk for an instant, Spock leaned over and wiped the sweat from his face on Kirk's chest, feeling the damp flesh burn against his skin.  "I could not accept, Jim," he calmed his raging body with some difficulty, enough to say what he'd been the most afraid to admit.  "I feared the beast that might emerge if I ever allowed myself to accept the sensual side of myself.  You do realize, do you not..." Spock paused to make sure Kirk was listening.  He rested one hand against the side of Kirk's face just to be sure he was paying attention.  "You do realize that, in my sexuality, I am predominantly Vulcan?"

Kirk nodded, squirming closer, pressing his penis against Spock's.  "Show me," he rasped.  "I… I dare you."  He smiled crookedly.  "Show me."

Spock looked puzzled for a moment, then returned the smile.  "You dare me?  Very well."  He opened his mouth and slowly lowered it over Kirk's parted lips, tongue making its way inside the river-cool interior.  Sweet lights played in his mind; darts and flashes of iridescent color, sharp tongues of fire reaching from the mental to the physical as Kirk began a slow rocking motion against him.  Their cocks were pressed firmly together against their bellies, struggling to bury themselves in the other's flesh.  Frustration flashed between them as they both realized that the stimulation wouldn't be enough, not with the level of intensity they were experiencing.

Physically, Kirk was on the verge of exploding in what promised to be one of the most shattering orgasms he had ever experienced.  Yet, oddly, mentally he felt incomplete.  Too dazed to think clearly, he surged blindly for the solution to his frustration.  He found the key as his fingers swept into the crevice of Spock's ass again, eliciting a low, bass purr that rumbled the bed frame.

"Spock?  Spock, you okay?"  Kirk gained control enough to realize he might be moving too fast for his uninitiated friend.

"Yes, Jim.  Please, that felt… so good.  Please..." Spock pressed backward into Kirk's hands and Kirk's fingers willingly obliged, this time probing, seeking Spock's center.  "Yes, there…" Spock pressed harder, impaling himself on Kirk's finger, wriggling on the invader, seeking a release of which he could only guess.

As the pressure built, Kirk's hands fell limply back to the bed and Spock's hands found Kirk's ass, beginning their own delving.  Kirk's sudden gasp of pleasure affirmed Spock's own desire, encouraging him further.  Kirk's legs fell apart as a second finger joined Spock's first in caressing his insides.  Kirk flipped his left leg over Spock's right arm so that it rested between the widely parted thighs, allowing more access.  Face-to-face, they gazed at each other, watching the fire build, seeing it come close to peaking.

"Wait, Spock."  Kirk grasped Spock's wrist and pulled his fingers free.  "I adore that, Spock."  He watched carefully, gauging Spock's reaction to his words.  "But I want to feel you in me."  Kirk reached to the nightstand, groping for and finding a small bottle.  "Use this," he urged gently, "it'll make it easier."  Spock's eyes darkened with desire as Kirk watched him pour a generous amount of silky oil into his hand.  Spock reached to spread the pomade on himself and Kirk lost all hope of remaining in control.  "Fuck me, Spock.  Please fuck me…”

 Spock didn't move for a moment, but remained poised above his friend, watching the gray-green eyes turn to smoke, watching a slow flush steal over Kirk's entire body, watching the slender hips begin to thrust, seeking contact.

At last, Spock rose to his knees.  Grasping Kirk's thighs, he spread them further, tilting them up slightly, exposing the entry he sought.  He leaned closer until the tip of his cock touched the throbbing flesh, then he stopped.  He looked at Kirk once more, measuring the intensity Kirk could withstand before climaxing. 

Gauging the time to be short, Spock pulled Kirk's ass to him, impaling his lover on his own raging flesh, making Kirk come to him by the power of his own more-than-human strength.  The thrill of power was overwhelming and he felt his cock begin to pulse, the orgasm starting without further effort.  As the sensation built, he grasped Kirk's penis in his still oiled hand, slowly stroking with the internal rhythm of his own cock as it nestled in the hot encasement of Kirk's body.

As Kirk felt Spock pulse within him, a thunderclap of driving force slammed against his consciousness.  It felt incredibly warm, familiar.  He probed the presence, pulled it to him and clung desperately, urging it forth as he'd urged Spock's body forth into his own.  The mind-link held and grew, expanded beyond all other links they'd shared, confirmed itself as genuine, intertwined to make itself whole.  The blending continued beyond Kirk's comprehension; he felt Spock's mind swimming within his, felt Spock's flesh surge within his body.  It was too much.  Awareness collapsed slowly, threatening to leave him alone and cold at its end.  Softly, Kirk became aware of a gentling, a soothing hand in his burning mind.  Spock had reached in, tempered at the intensity of the meld and brought Kirk floating safely back into his loving embrace.

Bodies still locked, climax still on the horizon, Spock looked at Kirk worriedly.  "Jim, have I hurt you?"

"No, Spock," Kirk gasped, "I'm fine.  Don't stop, please don't stop.  Come in me, Love.  Come in me…"  And he felt Spock thrust once, meeting the driving force with a downward pressure, feeling himself fall over into oblivion as Spock followed him, a moment behind, an eon away and closer than he’d ever dreamed another being could be.

*****

"It is very late," Spock murmured, snuggling against Kirk side.

"It's early."

"That depends on what you are referring to, Jim.  I'm speaking of the time of day."

"I'm not."

"I know."

"I love you."

"I know that as well."

"And?"

"And I love you, too, James."

"I like it when you go formal on me.  It's cute."

One slightly offended eyebrow twitched, proving the degree of fatigue assailing its owner.  "There are many applicable terms which one may use to describe me, Jim. 'Cute', however, is not one of them."

"No?"

"Most definitely not."

"Handsome?  Attractive?  Desirable?  Sexy?  How am I doing?"

"Quite well.  You may continue."

"Smart-ass," Kirk laughed.

"That, too."

"Spock?"

"Yes, Jim?"

"What was that?  I mean, that meld wasn't... normal."

"If by 'normal' you mean usual for us, you are correct.  But between bonded pairs on my home world, it is quite 'normal'."

"You mean we're bonded?"  Kirk's voice was soft and level.  Spock couldn't read what emotion accompanied it.

"I'm sorry, Jim.  I…"

Kirk turned onto his side, facing Spock.  "Don't be.  Don't be sorry.  I love you.  Didn't we learn anything while apart?  We belong together, Spock.  And, unless you think we could possibly go back to being just friends, that has to entail our being bonded.  And not only for your sake.  If you were to… die during Pon Farr because there was no one to serve you… Don't you realize that would kill me, too?"

"That is the bond speaking."

"There was no bond until a few minutes ago and I knew the truth before then.  I've known for a very long time, Spock.  It took the spores to make me face it, however."

"Then I should be grateful to the spores."

Kirk smiled at the strange image that brought to mind.  "Anything else bothering you?"

"What could possibly bother me when you are with me?"  Spock kissed the top of Kirk's head as Kirk settled back into his embrace.

A reciprocally affectionate hand wandered down Spock's belly to nestle in the thatch of soft pubic hair.  "In that case, do you think you could come up with something to amuse me, first officer?"

Spock merely groaned in appreciation and placed his hand on top of Kirk's, increasing the pressure.

"Thought so," Kirk smiled as he detached himself from Spock's grasp and kissed his way down toward Spock's groin.  Small licks followed each kiss, accompanied by short bursts of appreciative sighs and moans.  "You taste so good," Kirk reaffirmed, mouth finally landing on the half-erect penis.  Drawing it into his mouth fully, he began to suck it.

Spock whispered something in Vulcan that Kirk couldn't understand, but by the tone of Spock's voice, Kirk assumed it was either a plea to continue or stop.  He chose to continue.

"No, Jim… please, I can't... no more, please."  Spock's hands gently wrapped in his hair and he released the throbbing cock.

"You can't?"  Kirk asked quietly.

"Come here, Jim."  Spock crooked a finger and an eyebrow in his direction.  Kirk quickly returned to his lover's arms.

"What's the matter?"

"I believe it is a case of 'too much too soon'," Spock grumbled, burying his tongue into a small, round ear.

"Sure, sure," Kirk breathed, becoming increasingly distracted, just as Spock had intended.

"You need sleep, James," Spock whispered.

"Sleep?"

"Yes.  But you won't achieve any rest in this state."  Spock fingered Kirks erection.  "Shall I do something to ease the situation or will you… tough it out?"

"Spock…"

"I believe this should suffice."  The fingers turned into a fist, enclosing a hidden treasure of insistent flesh.  Spock began to pump Kirk gently, increasing the tempo until Kirk stiffened and flowed urgently into Spock's palm.  Spock spread Kirk's seed over the still-hard shaft in his hand, leaning back and spreading his leg.  "I seem to have miscalculated," Spock offered wickedly.  "You still require release.  I offer my… services."

Kirk groaned and fell over him, hands caressing the spread thighs, cock reaching for satisfaction, probing at the tender flesh of Spock's testicles.  He felt long fingers grasp him, guide him to the entrance and, blindly, he plunged, too far gone for tenderness.  He desperately thrust his burning flesh into Spock's body, over and over until the familiar warmth in his belly spread and flowed into and over the tunnel which was the center of his existence.

A wet tongue danced over his face as smooth cream bathed Kirk's stomach, branding his flesh, marking the Vulcan's territory.

Exhausted nearly to the point of unconsciousness, Kirk managed to roll off Spock's chest and cuddle against him.

"Two things I'll always be grateful for, Spock."

"What, James?"

A slight pause and then a contentment-drenched voice whispered, "Mothers and nosy friends."

You must login (register) to review.