Long days tended to give way to even longer nights, and this was most certainly the case in a well-kept apartment in San Francisco.
Once upon a much simpler time, the date of two days previous, February the 14th, would have meant something entirely different to the people of Earth.
Not that the human race had given up on their idealized and often unreachable concepts of love and commitment and the holy grail of relationships, romance.
Indeed, their never-ending quests for companions who would match them soul for soul, facilitating such connections that another would never be needed, never be desired, continued, as desperate as ever.
Some men and women would learn to travel the stars. Some would branch out, learn of other worlds, other ways of living… but the quest for love would never end.
A long time ago, a time that could have been months or years ago, one inhabitant of this particular apartment had been the proud owner of an epiphany.
A long time ago, months or years or whenever it had been, the other inhabitant of this apartment had gotten one of his soul’s desires.
Far too grand of a being for just one dream… even as he knows that wanting more, succumbing to the illusions of emptiness that should not be there; he sits without contentment. There is something he wants, and hates himself for wanting it. He cannot speak of it.
Their day of romance, love and commitment had been a forgettable affair. Out of duty to the standards that somehow became applied to all formal relationships, he had reserved a table for two at one of Kirk’s favourite restaurants. The usual fare had been ordered. An expensive bottle of wine, circa 2260, had been opened and shared. Where there had once been soft, secretive, impassioned glances at the man across the table, there were…
This particular day had been very, very long.
He’s been busy lately, busy, busy, busy… and always on the ground.
When Spock comes home, Kirk’s still at the office, signing padds, making calls, setting dates.
When Kirk comes home, dinner is cold.
Or, it would have been, had there been a meal made.
The kitchen is clean and cool when Spock walks through it, all metallic lines and polished stone. The replicator stands ready for him, lights soft in the darkness.
The replicator does its duty, and Spock settles himself on a stool by the island, filling the kitchen with the small sounds of him eating. In the emptiness, in the enhanced sensory capture of his auditory system, it is all cacophonous.
Before February the 14th, Spock hadn’t been home for three weeks, until his return on the 11th.
That night, Kirk had also not come home until late.
Spock had spent his first few hours back on Earth reorganizing the library.
Once upon a time… this had been different.
Once upon a time, Kirk and Spock had gotten married.
Spock had said that they were moving things too quickly. Kirk had countered the argument, saying that there was no point in waiting, seeing as they were meant to be together, and there was no one, and never would there be anyone, else for him.
If he allows himself the retrospection, Spock knows he should have matched Kirk’s stubbornness, and not allowed himself to be plied with talk of destiny and soul-bonding.
Spock would have been more than content to allow Kirk’s multitude of affairs with various attractive sentient beings to continue. But Kirk had been fully enamoured with the idea of monogamy at the time. He had wanted their union to be one of complete commitment and fidelity.
It had been foolish for Spock not to explain the impracticality of total monogamy to him, or its biological near-impossibility for humans. Maybe he had also been blinded by the concept that appealed to the part of him still attached to the ways of the ancient Vulcan race, where Vulcans had fought to the death for their claim to their mate.
He remembers waiting at home, reading one of Jim’s favourite novels from 19th century Earth, while his lover partook in what was called a ‘Bachelor Party’. He remembers researching this event, determining its traditional activities. He did not want Jim to have one last night of meaningless encounters, to get it out of his system. The last thing he wanted was for him to suppress part of his fundamental nature. He was attracted to women. He was in love with Spock. Could the two facts not live separately and simultaneously?
The wedding had taken place approximately four months, three days, and seven hours after their first sexual union. Four months, five days, and twenty-one hours after the conclusion of the V’ger incident.
Jim had been most persuasive in his cabin. Spock remembers every whispered endearment, every hungry look, every ragged breath. It would be illogical to revisit their first night together regularly. Logic dictates… logic has never claimed to know anything about love.
When he had thought about it before, he had postulated that as the relationship progresses, a couple’s sex life should improve, as they gain more knowledge about each other. He knew this was not always the case. He knew that sometimes, the couple will fall out of love.
Spock has not fallen out of love with Jim Kirk.
Sometimes Spock thinks about these things. And then he tells himself that entropy is entropy, and things shift, things change, things get different.
Things, things, things… the apartment is littered with them. Spock walks past the shelves and bookcases and potted plants and awards and commendations to the restroom, looking for his padd. Things that are not corporeal tend to wash themselves ashore in Spock’s mind in the middle of the night. Theories and thoughts and theories and thoughts. About his many projects, of course, but also—
Now, he can hear his husband has returned, knows acutely the sounds of him shuffling around in the kitchen. His ears are as functional as ever, as they will be for many more decades.
He disregards the noise. Routine. He is home, his husband is home. There are no further actions to take.
Spock has already acquired the required amount of sleep. He will likely write notes on his padd, and then return to the library for some light reading. His day will start in six hours.
If the memories of wanting to walk up to Spock and wrap his arms around his waist still exist in Kirk’s mind, they never surface.
If the memories of what love, their love, had felt like when they had first encountered it, still make their way to the front of his mind, he’s dismissed them as irrelevant.
James T. Kirk is in the longest relationship he’s ever had.
One would say that he has insufficient data to determine whether or not said relationship is on its proper course.
Then again, talk of proper courses leads to talk of destiny, and the non-existence of free will, and that… isn’t something he has time for.
They’re busy people, they’re almost middle-aged (on one side of the equation), they’re… Kirk doesn’t think about these things. What would there be to think about? He hasn’t encountered any problems.
Every night, when Kirk gets home, he crawls into bed next to his husband. Unless, like tonight, he’s home really late, and his husband is already up, somewhere in the house, doing whatever it is that he does when he’s awake before work.
Does it matter? The bed is still warm, when he makes it into the room after finishing his early morning meal, and the quilts still smell like Spock. It’s a nice smell, a comforting smell. He doesn’t remember why. Just that he relaxes instantly when his face hits the pillow.
They’re far too damnned stubborn to admit that they’re drifting apart.
Drifting? Who said anything about drifting? They’re in the same rooms, the same apartment (sometimes), they’re both Starfleet, and Starfleet, Starfleet says…
Kirk’s bath water is cold by the time he gets into the restroom, but that’s easily remedied. He doesn’t think about the long nights, almost spilling over with passion, that this room had once seen. There are no images of slick skin and wet hair, arms and legs and grins in the shower cubicle, hands grasping hands and mouths finding mouths equally as eager, not on his mind. Like the urges he had once felt, they’ve been buried, and not like Spock had once buried the things he had felt. He is human, and memories slip away… become fuzzy, never retaining their once crystal quality.
Spock remembers. Spock knows crispness, and clarity. Spock thinks numbing thoughts of what has been and what may never be again.
There is responsibility, and there is blame. Kirk’s never seen a rule book, never lived an example of what… this should be, right now, two years after the first solemn vows were exchanged.
Once upon a time, Jimmy Kirk had lived with a marriage contract.
Once upon a time, Jimmy Kirk had stood with his mate on the sands of Vulcan.
Spock remembers their first Valentine’s Day together, remembers every single one of his half-hearted protests against its illogic, all for the benefit of his soon-to-be bondmate.
He remembers this:
Jim Kirk, nervous. An apartment filled with delicate red decorations. A bottle of Saurian brandy sitting on the table, next to a box of the finest chocolates from New Belgium. A box sitting on his lap, waiting to be opened. The sounds of pacing in the kitchen, his bondmate distracted and not meeting his gaze. Finally starting to undo the wrapping on the gift, carefully and precisely. Jim slowing his pacing, walking over to him, finally.
“You can just rip it open, Spock. Don’t worry about the wrapping.” Uncharacteristic hesitancy.
The silken paper sliding off of the box, giving way to crème. His hands undoing the adhesive on the front. Opening the box, seeing the contents.
“Jim, this gift is not for me.” Eyebrow raised, half amusement, half something he wasn’t sure Kirk could read.
Kirk looking like he was about to wring his hands. Still nervous.
“I know it’s not really your style, but I had it made specially for you.” Eyes looking up, almost a plead contained within them. “According to your dimensions and everything.”
What may have been the Vulcan version of an amused chuckle. “You misunderstand me. I fully appreciate that this gift is meant to be owned and worn by myself; however, I cannot say that I will be reaping its full benefits. That pleasure will be entirely yours.”
Kirk regaining confidence. “I know where you’re coming from, and trust me, it’s been the tradition of men everywhere for thousands of years.” The gifts lifted out of the box by human hands, held up to the light. “Buying their significant other things that they’d like to see on them, to make them more desirable.” Nodding. “But that’s not why I bought it for you.”
“You don’t like making love with the lights on.” The embarrassment of a visible blush. Another nod. “Spock, we haven’t been lovers for very long. But one of the first things I noticed about you in bed was your reluctance to see yourself as a sexual object.” Silence. “You’re eager enough to worship my body, but when I want to touch you, you almost shy away. I want you to feel good about yourself when I’m making love to you. And that means you need to feel desirable. Sexy. I want you to see yourself the way I see you.
The decision not to deflect by interpreting his statement literally. “And you believe this can be accomplished by my wearing this… outfit?”
“Lingerie has been making women and men and everyone in-between feel attractive for centuries, Spock. There’s just something about the way it frames the body, holding in certain parts, accentuating others. I know I’ve never been able to resist a man in garters. And I’ve never been able to resist you, either” Note of bitterness. Decision not to dwell on it, the past, their past, the near-destruction of the years before.
Acquiescence. “Very well.”
“Good. I have a few things to take care of before I start making dinner, so you can get into something more… comfortable.” Lascivious smile. Jim walking back into the kitchen. Contentment, and appreciation. Warm glow of love. Ashaya.
This is what Spock does now:
The closet has needed cleaning for several weeks now. Now is a good time, now as good a time as ever. Jim is in the bath; Spock can hear him breathing, can hear the small movements of water as he reaches for soap. Little things, painting a picture. An unexpected swell of melancholy starts at the bottom of his stomach and is not allowed to reach his chest.
Spock knows what is in the closet.
He had attempted to organize it before, about a year and a half ago. He had been interrupted, in a way he doesn’t see being repeated this time around. Items at the front of the closet are used often. Items at the back slowly became more and more out of sight. Out of Kirk’s mind. Impossible to be out of Spock’s.
The way he tears through the items in the closet is not methodical. If one were to observe, knowing nothing about Vulcans and their thought processes and their habits, they would think that the man throwing things onto the bed was searching for something, one thing, with unforgiving single-mindedness.
While passing through the hallway, Spock had happened upon a box of chocolates from New Belgium, brought home by his husband, his bondmate, his t’hy’la. The chocolates still sit on the kitchen table, looking much as they had… much as they had, three years ago. Eidetic memory. He remembers the taste of every one of them, even the ones he hadn’t consumed, delicate and dark notes experienced through his lover’s lips.
Occasionally, one memory will trigger another. Tonight, a night that is no longer night, but morning, Spock sees the packaging, dark brown and stiff, logo sitting proudly on the top. He remembers.
He remembers this:
Kirk picking up a chocolate. Saying, “This is you.”
Lack of comprehension. Raise of the brow. “Indeed?”
A slow smile, one of his slow smiles, one of many slow smiles that night. “Your voice, Spock. It’s deep and rich, smooth, like fine chocolate.” Jim rolling the piece between his hands, contemplative. “I’m sure you know I find it very… attractive.” His blush. In their bed, Kirk’s clothes and Spock’s present and various blankets and pillows on the floor. Lushness, post-coital contentment, his lover, gloriously nude, basking in his own glow.
And again, what happens now:
Half of the closet is on the bed now, piles of garments and other items from this and that, sets of old uniforms, faded and frayed meditation robes. His search has not yet yielded results. But he knows it is buried under here somewhere, in its original box, perhaps dust-covered and faded, perhaps perfectly preserved, the same as it had been that day.
He does not know.
The sight of it will doubtless spur more memories, memories that he could simply call up now. He does not do this. A Centauran ceremonial cloak is tossed onto the pile. There will be a lot of work to do later.
The closet becomes emptier and emptier. He must be making a great deal of noise; he finds he does not care.
In the background, he can still hear his husband in the bath. Spock will be able to smell the soap on him later, the mint of his toothpaste, if he sees him before heading back to campus. He calls up another memory, dismissing worries of his over-indulgence in nostalgia. A man is allowed to remember. Surely a Vulcan, with far more control over what he feels, can reflect upon the past.
And he remembers this:
Their first night together. The minutes just before tucking in for some much-delayed sleep. Jim coming out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist. A puff of steam escaping from the crack in the door, luxuriantly scented. A curious inhalation.
Kirk’s voice. “Like it?” A tilt of the head.
“You utilize cinnamon-scented products in your cleansing routines?”
“I guess you haven’t… seen me like this in a while.” Jim walking towards him.
“I started using that soap, I guess shortly after I took the position of Admiral.”
Unspoken things suspended in the little bit of space between them.
“It reminds me of… home.” A small curve of the lips. Happiness.
“I remember Vulcan so clearly.” Words as Jim sits down. An intent look in his eyes. Sparks and arcs of passion. “The day I almost lost you.”
The meeting of eyes. “Correction. I almost lost you. If not for the Doctor’s ingenious plan—” Catch of breath.
“Don’t say that, love. We went over this, remember? Nothing that happened that day was your fault. And you can beat yourself up over your loss of control all you want, but you know the truth. No Vulcan can resist the blood fever.”
The words ‘except for Masters of Gol’ not said aloud, but understood all the same.
“I have fully come to terms with this recently. I am no longer in conflict. I feel no shame for what I feel, Jim. I can control my emotions, and am no longer afraid.” Feeling his earnestness almost spilling through his eyes.
“I know, love. You know, that day on Vulcan was the day I realized just what I felt for you.”
“Indeed?” Surprise and interest.
“I’ve always known what an attractive… sensuous man you are, Spock. And I… can fall in love without much provocation. But that day… you know, there are few people in my life I can’t see myself living without. And none of them inspire the kind of passion you do in me. I guess… I chose the soap because it reminded me of that day, of finally coming to terms with what we shared.” A caress of his face. A full smile from Jim. Leaning in to his touch. Loving touching of lips
And this is what happens next:
The back of the closet is reached. The realm of things from years and years ago, never again touched, beckons for Spock, and he answers the call. Boxes get moved, carefully this time, with the mad precision of a man just about to reach his long-awaited goal. He remembers, he remembers, he remembers what the box looks like. The seal of the manufacturer peeks out from under a long black coat that no longer fits his husband. It is here. Not that he had expected it not to be.
The dimensions of the closet have not changed, and yet, Spock feels as though he’s entered a space so far removed from his daily life as to be almost foreign. He lifts the box. It even smells differently back here, stale and forgotten, an instigator of further melancholy nostalgia that he should not be permitting himself. He is not permitting himself.
And back in the room, he stands in front of the large mirror that covers most of the wall perpendicular to the doorway. His usual garments, the heavy sleeping robe he wears to bed every night, a gift from Jim, second anniversary, is shed, almost unceremoniously, for a Vulcan.
But he is not a Vulcan, not entirely, not tonight.
The child of Earth slips from his cage and rises to inhabit Spock’s body, and he glares at the figure reflected before him.
He is thin, ramrod-straight, stiff-shouldered and unapologetically nude. There is no light blush, no blood rushing to places hurriedly in arousal. Those things have not happened in months. Those things are likely to never happen again.
If he were truly in control, if this was not the breaking point he had not believed he possessed, perhaps he would calculate the odds.
What he knows now is a pattern. Exponential decline in sexual encounters. Exponential decline in encounters of any kind between the two of them. Exponential decline in soft-eyed looks, in brushes of their hands, in cold nights spend wrapped around each other in front of the fireplace.
His hands open the box, taking in the look of the fabric with sharp eyes. The contents of the box are as they were when it was packed away, one point eight nine four years ago. The first item to be lifted from its confines is a silk thong, delicate in its own way, so insubstantial that it almost slips from Spock’s fingers. But it does not fall.
He rubs the fine fabric between his fingers for a few moment, taking in information he already knows. He puts it on.
The child of Earth regards the figure in the mirror again.
The black of the garment stands out against his skin, pale and lightly green. He lowers his head, regards himself in the soft light of the bedroom. It is too dark.
“Lights to seventy percent.” he says, almost softly, to the room.
The next item is lifted from the box. A garter belt, made of stiffer material than the thong, but still smooth to the touch. Spock takes it in hand, recalls the method of putting it on, and does so. His fingers brush his hips, jutting so obviously out from his body.
He has gone the opposite way from his husband, losing pounds instead of gaining them as the years went by. The belt still fits, however, with the proper adjustments. He regards himself again, remembers the way the rest of the outfit had looked on him, that first time.
He remembers again. He remembers this:
A whisper, breathless from lust. “Oh, Mr. Spock.” Steps towards him. Hands running down his side, resting on his buttocks. “You have no idea how sexy you look right now. No idea.” The hands moving teasingly, inflaming him. “This has to be one of my better plans.”
“I am gratified to see you enjoying my gift so much.” His voice, also teasing. “It seems to be a most intelligent investment.”
“Oh, yes…” Lips on his neck, nibbling their way up to a pointed ear. The feel of breath against his skin. Chuckles of pleasure. Hands moving downward to fondle with the garters. The feel of smooth hands so close to his groin, touching the skin of his inner thighs. Bliss, complete and unrelenting bliss.
And in the bedroom, now:
Spock puts on the stockings, careful not to do damage to their delicate fishnet with his Vulcan strength as he pulls them onto his legs, attaching them to the garters. He stands in front of the mirror, half-dressed, legs framed as they had been that night, highlighted for Jim’s pleasure.
He does not want to remember.
If this is the state of things now, he would rather not have the memory of what they once were.
To be like Jim, not worrying about the things wrong with them.
To be like his t’hy’la, sitting quietly in the tub, breathing deeply, relaxed beyond all retrieval.
The door to Jim’s mind has not been open for a long time. Jim cannot access Spock’s mind without his guidance, and Jim has not wanted Spock in his. But Spock can still hear him two rooms down. He can always hear him when he’s in the apartment.
The final item sits in the box. Spock looks at it, remembering what it felt like to wear it, how the structured garment fit him, Jim’s eyes when he had first come into the room.
He will not sink back into the memory again.
The lacing is loosened enough that Spock can put it on without any assistance. He does so, tightening it, breathing deeply, locking eyes with the man in the mirror. And the man stares back.
He stands, fully clothed now, still straight and stiff and postured, bound by corset and cloth and contemplation. He does not look very different from the man who had worn these garments before. The lines in his face are irrelevant.
The difference lies in the subtle set of his eyes, in the line of his mouth, frozen in a near-ironic half smile. This is what Jim had once desired, this man. He places one leg in front of the other, bent at the knee, causing the muscles to flex. This is what had once driven his husband to near madness. He feels almost sick.
He stands there, posed, for a very long time; or, what could have been a very long time.
He does not know.
He does not know what one would consider a long time. He does not know what Jim would consider a long time. He does not know much of his t’hy’la, not now.
The muscles in his leg do not tire. He looks down, stares at the difference between the part of his leg covered in stocking and the part that lays bare. He runs his hands down the side of the corset, feeling the silk, feeling his ribs beneath it.
He does not remember. He will not remember. Regret is illogical. Nostalgia is illogical. Longing is illogical. If he wants something, he should devise a way to obtain it. And yet… and yet….
“What are you doing, Spock?” How long has his husband been standing in the doorway? He knows the tone of voice Jim speaks in, knows the various circumstances it’s been used in. Gentle, cautiously questioning, tender and endeared.
He does not know its place in this situation. He does not know what one does, when one has reached his breaking point.
“I am attempting to remind myself of a time when I was regarded as sexually attractive.” Spock says to the man in the mirror. And the man says it back to him. Jim moves away from the doorway, a frown creasing his brow.
“And why… are you doing that?” he asks. Spock shies away from the hand that tries to rest on his shoulder. He had not meant for discovery. His mind had been blank, blissfully blank, and had not heard his husband coming.
The shame burns. His head hangs, wishing to be one with the floor, to pass through the beams and fall through the breadth of the Earth. The concept is illogical. His logic is at a loss to explain the hopelessness he feels.
“I do not believe the reason is hard to determine, Jim.” Irony returns to his smile. “I have not felt desirable in quite some time. I wished to remember what it had felt like.” He remembers assuring several different parties that Vulcans do not lie.
Perhaps his words, on the surface, are not a lie. He did wish to remember. But the garments were not necessary.
A thousand moments, a thousand touches, a thousand gasps and groans and moans could be called up at any moment, without any catalysts. This… this is his human side. The irrational need to touch some concrete evidence of what had been before is inexorable.
He knows that Jim is searching for words. Perhaps trying to find a way to say that his lover should have come to him. Perhaps knowing that that had not been possible for some time. Spock stands, waiting. He can wait for a very long time.
He does not know what a very long time is. He does not know how long this, whatever this is, will be, will take.
“I don’t know what to say.” is what finally makes its way from Jim’s mouth. Spock gives an almost-snort, almost-laugh, and turns away further.
“Perhaps there is nothing to say. There is not always an answer to every problem, love.” The human endearment slips from his lips, inhabitant of a place Spock had thought suppressed. He shivers in the warmth of the room, blinks in the glare of the lights. He cannot predict his actions now. He wonders how he could have fallen so far from the Vulcan he had once been. Once, his departure from stiff Vulcan norms had been welcome, exhilarating. Now, he feels his stomach erupt in butterflies. Illogical. Inescapably illogical. “You do not believe this, of course. But one cannot ignore the facts. A no-win scenario, if you prefer to think of it in those terms.”
“No,” Jim says softly. “No, no, no, no, no.” Spock turns to look at him, an eyebrow raised in skepticism.
“No? Then what is it that you wish to do, Jim? I would be most eager to hear your solution. Perhaps it is what you have been working on, so very late at the offices, these past few months.” He knows that he is not being fair, in the part of his mind that wishes to take control once more and guide his body into deep breaths, into calm. That part of his mind no longer has the power it had once had.
“Where’s all of this coming from, Spock?” his husband asks. “If you’ve been…” Jim takes a breath, a gulp of air. “Unsatisfied, with the way things are—” Spock puzzles over the conundrum of the tears in Jim’s eyes. His choked voice, the sudden reddening of his cheeks.
“Jim?” he asks, not bothering to examine the fact that their roles have switched.
“Is it not wise, to forgive a fool?” he quotes, drawing lines from an Andorian epic they had once enjoyed together on many an occasion. “That one may lead him to a place where amends can be made, instead leaving him a spited fool, whose anger may be twisted, whose actions may from guilt be spun away from his heart’s true course? But we, in forgiving, lift blame, so that fools walk the streets unhindered by wisdom from the unforgiving wise.”
He pauses, gives Spock a smile filled with irony to match the one his husband had been sporting previously. “I’ve never known much about marriage. When things went from bad to worse with Lori, I didn’t think anything of it. There had always been something lacking in my love for her. That at the end of it, we barely spoke to each other when we were in the same room, was nothing that alarmed me. And this… I can’t remember. I can’t even remember.”
He faces Spock fully now, taking two shallow breaths before continuing. “I don’t know what I’ve been doing to explain away this, what I’ve done to us. The old excuses, maybe. That you’d only been indulging me, before. I haven’t thought about you like that in months, Spock. And I don’t know who to blame, or who to forgive. Once, it had been you. But I know that if I think about it, the answer won’t be so clear.”
“Jim.” Something in the way Spock says his name sends fresh waves of feeling through Kirk. “Do you find me desirable now?” The pain bleeds through Spock’s words, right through the cracks in his voice. “Does my body spark the things it had once before? Or is it futile to try to salvage the wondrous thing that had brought us together in the first place?”
“That very same wondrous thing had driven you away from me, once.” Kirk presses his lips together.
“You will choose not to answer?”
Jim Kirk shakes his head. “I don’t know. I haven’t needed you like I once had in a very long time. I don’t know how to want you anymore.”
“And do you know why this is so?”
Shame. A whisper. “Yes. Yes, I do.” Spock does not ask if he is going to tell him. He just waits. The breeze from the hallway floats around his calves.
“I started to resent you. And I couldn’t resent you… properly, if I desired you.” Spock does not point out the illogic of the statement. He knows of desire, despite resentment.
He listens, for the answer. His breaths remain calm, far calmer than they had been before. Confrontation… maybe that had been the motive sneaking around in the back of his mind, unseen even by his Vulcan awareness.
He knows this: “It was you who encouraged me to take the position, Jim.” Kirk shakes his head again softly, looks down and away. “Why would you tell me to do something that would cause such resentment as to destroy what we had once had?”
“Some ridiculous rules and guidelines for marriage lodged themselves in my head. I wanted to support you.”
“Support me in what, Jim?” At last, his curiousity about the deterioration of their relationship, beginning to be sated. But he feels awkward, almost, standing there in Jim’s old gift, while his husband explains himself. “I have never expressed a desire to command. And you, grounded here, while I have your ship… I do not understand.”
“Spouses are supposed to encourage growth in each other. I felt like I was holding you back. Telling you to take that next step, to take command of the Enterprise, seemed like the… logical thing. I know you love teaching.”
“I am very content in my teaching position, Jim. But I am not content now. It seems a foolish sacrifice, does it not?”
“Yes. Yes, it does.” Kirk begins to walk away, but two hands stop him, two hands that have not touched him during waking hours in recent memory.
“I do not wish for you to leave. It is illogical to leave a misunderstanding unresolved. Jim, I accepted the rank of Captain not long after we began our intimate relationship. And yet, the distance between us did not become pronounced until approximately twelve point three four months ago.”
Kirk turns back, looks at the hand on his shoulders. “A new employee came to work in my office. I found myself very attracted to her. This was during one of your month-long training cruises. She approached me one day, and I… I kissed her. It was a spur of the moment thing. It didn’t even mean anything—”
Spock cuts him off. How sad, that this is the place their misunderstandings had driven them, a place so far from what they had once been. “Jim. I do not wish for you to feel the need to explain yourself to me, to placate my feelings. I am not human. I do not have an ego to bruise.”
“You can’t tell me that you don’t have an ego, not when you’ve noticed how little attention I’ve been paying to you. Perhaps it isn’t bruisable. But it is there.”
“You may be right. However, I would like you to continue with your story.”
“I was so disgusted with myself, that I would do that to you.” Kirk’s eyes attempt to plead, but their cause is not heard by Spock. “But you had been gone for three weeks, and before that, you were busy with that huge conference on Luna. I… missed you. It had been hard enough before, having to make due with sex only every few weeks, both of us so busy, but that… I hated you, now that the two things I wanted most had been taken from me. Somehow, that translated to looking for company elsewhere.” Spock remains silent. He is sure that Jim is remembering their earlier conversations, before the bonding. If there is indeed a wound here, he does not wish to rub salt into it. “I was sure that Yeoman Zeller was going to be the only time. But then I went to a bar with an old friend, and this man approached me. I can’t say I remember much of that night, only that I woke up the next morning with him… in our bed.”
“Oh, Jim…” Kirk’s eyes become glassier. Spock wonders if it would be within his rights to hold his love, to comfort him.
“I had to do something after that. I did some research, found some medication that reduces the sex drive to almost nothing. It worked. And when you came back… oh, Spock, it was just easier to not have to worry about the guilt, if we made love. I thought I wouldn’t be able to bear it, if it turned out that I wasn’t attracted to you anymore, only to those other people. I don’t know what I was thinking.”
“You tried to apply standards to yourself that were neither realistic nor desired by myself, Jim. I would not expect you to remain content with masturbatory activities while I was away on a long voyage.”
“And I only have myself to blame. The fool must forgive the fool, then.”
There is silence between them, as Spock continues to process his husband’s words.
“I can’t remember the last time we made love, Spock.” Jim looks up at him with such sadness that Spock finds it impossible for his arms not to be around him in some fashion. They rest on his shoulders, and he lets their eyes meet.
“I… remember.” Spock says. And he does.
He remembers this:
“Are you sure you need to go on this training cruise, love?” Unreadable emotions in his t’hy’la’s face. Mind blocked off from contact, while Kirk’s hands travel up and down his torso. “I’m going to miss you around here.”
“My cadets need the experience, Jim.” Words spoken leisurely. Jim applying himself to his task. “If I do not go with them, how am I supposed to properly ascertain their progress?”
Jim looking up at him. “I just don’t want you to go, Spock. I haven’t seen you at the apartment in weeks, you’ve been so busy. And before that, it was another cruise… and now you’re leaving again in two weeks…”
A correction. “Twelve point five nine five days.”
“Yes, of course. Twelve point five nine five days. How could I forget.” Activities almost completely paused.
An admonishment. “Jim…”
“I’m sorry. I guess I’ve just had a long week.” Soothing hands in Jim’s hair.
“I do not wish for you to focus on the things that are not happening here and now. In this moment, we are sharing something special. Focus only on that.”
“I wish I could.” Soft kisses.
“You can.” A warm sigh.
“I’ll try.” Jim trying. Small sounds in the dim light of the bedroom, the warmth of two bodies pressed close. Leaving for class the next morning, placing a small kiss on Jim’s forehead.
That is what he will always remember.
This is what happens, after the remembering, after the words and the sadness and the silence:
“I wish to share your mind.” Spock says. And Jim moves in closer to him.
“So you can know how much I’ve forgotten of us?” He knows this is not the case. He is human, he speaks lies, he creates and lives in his own falsehoods. He does not know what there is to remember.
“I will help you remember.” Spock’s fingertips come to rest on Kirk’s katra points. “T’hy’la, my mind to your mind.”
“My thoughts to your thoughts.” Kirk whispers. And he falls through, to the other side of the bond.
I had almost forgotten this, too, his mind says to Spock’s mind. And his bondmate’s mind answers.
We have not communicated in this matter in quite sometime. Our mental joinings had ceased even before our physical intimacy.
I didn’t want you to see my mind. Even before that incident with Zeller, I had been…lusting.
You should not feel shame, Jim. You remember what I had told you, before our bonding?
I’ve been trying not to think about it. Sure that you’d changed your mind, since getting married.
Facts cannot change. But I am not here to argue about what had been said and what had been done. I wish to find those things that you have forgotten.
The mind that Spock knows so well yields to him, and it is easy to find the hidden places, the moments that had been locked away, impossible to think of again. And he feels them all with Jim.
Jim. His bondmate’s mind turns towards him, coming back from the memories that had long since receded into the part of his mind he couldn’t access. Spock had given him a gift, a gift of the things he had thrown away. You do not understand how you could have lost so much of us. I theorize that you had an adverse reaction to the medication, and experience extensive memory loss, relating to our intimate experiences. You did not consult the Doctor, did you?
No, I didn’t. Imagine what he would’ve said, Spock. Probably mocked me for marrying you in the first place.
Leonard would not have done so. He has noticed our distance, and commented on it to me several times.
Did you just call him Leonard?
The Doctor and I have become more familiar in recent months, Jim.
And I never noticed.
You are still blaming yourself. Remember that I also refused to communicate with you. If you had fallen out of love with me, I did not want it confirmed. It appears I possess the human capacity for self-delusion.
I’ve never stopped loving you Spock, even through all of the resentment.
But without your ability to desire me, one could say that you have fallen out of love.
No, not now. Spock, you’ve returned something in me. I don’t know what you did… maybe it was just awakening the memories. But I remember now, what I loved about you.
They stay content in each other’s minds for a few moments.
We would have went on like that for the next few decades, love, if you hadn’t decided to chuck rationality out of the window. Jim gets a wave of amusement from Spock.
There sometimes is a certain logic in displays of emotion, Jim. They are often the catalysts. I was not being irrational.
There is a pile of clothing a metre and a half high on our bed, Spock. If you were being rational about it, you wouldn’t have left such a mess.
Spock ends the meld, sliding out of Jim’s mind, giving each part of it a parting caress before easing out completely. They stand close together, and while Spock notices the tears on his husband’s face, he doesn’t comment.
“Thanks, Spock.” Jim says. And Spock smiles. It only reaches his eyes, but Jim knows what it is. Had he forgotten? He remembers now.
“There is still more to be done, Jim. Obviously, you are to stop taking the medication. We will need to have a discussion with Doctor McCoy, to see if there has been any permanent damage. If necessary, we will employ a marriage counsellor so that we can explore the elements of a healthy marriage together.”
“You seem pretty prepared for a man who wasn’t even going to talk to me about this.” Kirk’s relative discomfort shows through the deflection, but Spock allows it to pass. He knows this man, and yet…
“I have been going over it in my head for many months now. I must also be at fault, for you are correct: I had never considered bringing up the subject. I suppose I have been a victim of the old saying, that to assume is to make an ass out of you and me.” Jim smiles and laughs at that.
“I didn’t think you knew that one, Spock. And I think that’s maybe the second time I’ve heard you cuss.”
“I believe it may be the third such occurrence.” Jim leans into Spock’s embrace, and breaths in.
“I thought about all the times you were reluctant to have me love you.” he says, against his husband’s chest, close to him, sharing warmth and sadness. “And I didn’t think about how much you loved loving me.”
“You dwelled upon my departure for Gol.” Spock states. Jim holds him closer, willing the shame away, but it does not leave. The familiar feeling of foolishness has returned to him, a feeling he had thought left behind, along with the rest of his youth.
“Yes. Yes, I did. You had been warming up to your human side then, too, love. And then it became too much.”
“And yet, I wasn’t able to stay away from you, when the time came. Your mind called to mine, Jim, through the link that had formed from the touching of our thoughts. That was not something I could deny. Even after failing to achieve Kohlinar, I tried to do so. It was impossible. It remains impossible.”
Kirk breaths in, letting his chest expand, and Spock feels it. If he were less of a Vulcan, he would wonder if this, too good to be true, were real. But he knows. His eyes and ears and fingers know this man, and to hold him again… no, he had not expected that tonight.
“How about we clear off the bed and get some rest.” Spock’s head rests just above Kirk’s, and he would be content just to stay like this, until the end of time. That is not possible. But the wanting is pleasant.
“I do not require rest at this time, Jim.” Kirk starts to break away to protest, but Spock hugs him closer. “But if it would please you, I would be happy to stay with you.”
“I want you to be happy, Spock.” This time Kirk succeeds in looking up. “I’ve always wanted you to be happy. Sometimes I think my needs are more important, but they never are.”
“I, also, must confess to putting your needs first. I have let our relationship become unbalanced.”
“We’re going to change that. I promise.” Kirk detaches himself, and walks over to the pile on the bed. “I didn’t realize we had so much stuff in that closet. So many things we never use.” He shoves the pile off of the bed, revealing the mess of sheets beneath.
“Come join me, Spock.” Spock regards his husband, lounging so easily on the bed. It is as though he has been transported to a time years ago, when they had been eager, and loving, and not afraid of being foolish.
He walks over, sees Jim look at him like he hadn’t looked at him in a very long time. What is a long time? Spock’s mind reels back to their last lovemaking, and how there had been so much between them untouched. Once, he had wished to touch everything of this man.
“I do, Spock.” the man on the bed says. Spock does not pretend to misunderstand.
“I am gratified.” Jim gives him a look as he settles down, pulling the covers up to his chin. He corrects himself. “I am happy.”
“If I weren’t so tired, right now, Mr. Spock, I’d climb on top of you and have my wicked way.” Spock’s missed the smile of his t’hy’la’s eyes. He looks into them full-force, and sees nothing but what he had thought lost. “But I really do need to get some rest.”
“I will not keep you awake any longer, then.” Spock kisses him on the forehead, leaving his lips on Jim’s skin for a few moments. He can feel his husband’s smile.
“It’s been too long, hasn’t it?” Jim says, bringing his face up to Spock’s level. “Since I’ve told you that I love you.” The kiss he gives Spock has the potential to bring up many more memories, of kisses just as tender, just as loving, but he chooses not to think of them. Instead, he focuses on the feel of the man he holds, and kisses back, hoping he is returning the affection and regret and hope.
“I must agree.” Spock says, letting his lover feel the words against his lips as he kisses him again. “And I also must inform you that I, too, love you.”
“T’hy’la.” Jim whispers, and drifts off to sleep. And the long night gives way to the next long day, and Spock fears it will not be long enough, for all the time in the universe would not be enough to love his husband as much as he wishes. The pain will be in the leaving, he knows, the departure of Jim Kirk from this plane of existence. But for now, while the bed is still warm and his love is still breathing, Spock does not have to worry.