Jim looked up at the venetian red sky darkening through the tall forest trees, and found it already beginning to glisten with stars. It looked very much like Earth’s sky at sunset, if it wasn’t for the foreign constellations that began to appear along with the two moons, hanging low near the horizon and not yet as clearly visible as they would be in a few hours. Feeling a quick movement at his side, Jim tore his gaze from the sky and turned to find himself alone.
“Spock?” he called out, amused at the Vulcan’s sudden playfulness while pushing aside a bush of dark grass and rushing between large tree trunks. “Spock, wait for me!”
He followed the invisible trail his Vulcan left behind by running through the thick leaves that were swaying in the quietness of the dying day. He smiled to himself, hoping it wasn’t just a trick of the wind. The forest was dense and damp, the grass soft under his boots.
He made his way through slippery vegetation of deep green until he reached a clearing, where the tall, thin frame of a Vulcan met him. Jim walked slowly towards him, trying to catch his breath while the sky grew darker and darker. When he reached his bondmate, Spock held up two fingers in invitation and Jim complied, brushing his own against them.
Eyes locked, they stood in silence and breathed in all the unspoken words, quietly cherishing the simple feeling of being alive and together. The night grew darker still, but if Jim looked closely enough, he could see Spock’s eyes glistening with anticipation. He had learned to read the deep brown eyes, to plunge under the cold expression and pull out whatever emotion was hidden there, and now it somehow came naturally. Their bond—both recently recognized and accepted—was new and warm, a flowing river between their minds and the edges were tingling with excitement.
Spock’s lips twitched slightly and Jim stood on his tiptoes, tilting his head up to claim the Vulcan’s mouth…when a bright blue light appeared over Spock’s left shoulder. Jim froze, noticing another fluorescent light at his side. He gave his Vulcan a questioning look, but Spock’s only response was a secretive half-smile. Soon, the clearing was drowned in bioluminescence, and Jim turned to face the still unknown source of light, then discovering a dozen of plants glowing proudly under the starry night sky.
“The vegetation of Lyrae II is unique in this quadrant of the galaxy,” whispered Spock, touching the thick leaves of the nearest plant with the tips of his fingers, and inviting Jim to do the same.
A cool breeze ran through the forest and shook the plants, making their shadows dance all around the clearing, producing a dazzling wave of bright blue light. The wind brought with it the sound of streaming water somewhere in the distance. Jim smiled to Spock and grabbed his hand, running towards the sound and laughing uncontrollably.
Soon, they were splashing their boots in a small river that bordered the forest. Still running, twirling around the vegetation hand-in-hand, the couple swayed through fluorescent plants until Jim accidentally slipped and was caught by strong Vulcan arms that immediately enveloped and lifted him.
Accepting the welcoming embrace, Jim wrapped his legs around Spock’s tiny waist and, holding his angular face between his palms, kissed him. Spock stumbled backwards and bumped into a tree, leaning on it for support as he deepened the kiss.
Jim slipped his hands into Spock’s velvety black hair and closed his lips around the Vulcan’s tongue, sucking on it playfully. The tree trunk was glowing brighter where Spock was leaning on it, and little insects were buzzing around it. Jim broke the kiss to look up, eyes widening at the astonishing view.
“Beautiful,” he gasped, searching for breath.
Spock’s tone was low and husky as he delivered his response, captivated by the sight. “Yes...”
Jim turned to his Vulcan, only to find that impenetrable gaze locked on him. He could suddenly hear Spock’s voice without the movement of his lips. Yes, you are, Jim…
Jim smiled and stared back at Spock lovingly, hazel eyes meeting deep brown ones as the next words reverberated through their bond and echoed in his mind.
You are beautiful…
Jim leaned in slowly and gently kissed the corner of Spock’s lips.
Closing the space between them, Jim pressed their foreheads together, his smile wider than ever. Spock closed his eyes and breathed in before whispering, “Happy birthday, Jim.”
There was a moment of undisturbed quietness; all was still except for the buzzing of insects. Then suddenly, Jim was shaking. Spock opened his eyes, looked up at him, concern written over his usually stern features. Jim was…crying. Alarmed, the Vulcan struggled to find the right thing to say.
“Jim? …Have I done something wrong?”
And the golden smile was back again, as Jim began wiping away his tears with the back of his hand, avoiding Spock’s eyes.
“No, Spock, you’ve done nothing wrong. It’s just… this is perfect. This is everything I’ve ever wanted and...” he paused, a little laugh escaping him as he finally looked at the Vulcan again. “Tears of joy, Spock.”
“You are… happy?”
“Yes, more than ever.”