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"Uh. Uh. Uh." The man beneath him grunted with pleasure as he ploughed into him from behind, pinning him to the bulkhead.

"Spock! Yes!"

They came together, his mate's seed splashing down the wall lasciviously, even as he erupted into that deliciously tight channel. Spock collapsed against his lover, pinning him to the wall as they both struggled to catch their breath. Eventually, his penis softened and he gently slid himself out of his paradise, his One, who turned in his arms.

"God, Spock. If I'd known proposing to you would result in hot, rabid wall sex, I would've done it before now!" Jim's hands began to lazily trace the muscles under his shirt.

"You would be most welcome to do so again tomorrow, and the day after, and in the days to come, my Jim. If that is your desire." Spock felt his lips quirk in humour.

He stared into the blue depths of his lover's eyes. Thirty-three point three five minutes earlier, while they had been discussing routine ship's business, Jim had suddenly changed the subject to the topic of Vulcan bonds. It was clear he had been speaking with Spock's counterpart; there was no way Jim could have been that well informed without outside assistance. In any case, fifteen point four two minutes previously, Jim insinuated his desire to bond with Spock. And that declaration had stirred the primal drive to claim his mate expeditiously - hence their current state, still in their uniform tops, trousers around their ankles, briefs at their knees.

Jim reached up and cupped Spock's cheek with one hand. "How did I ever deserve you, Spock?"

He had no answer for that, except another breath-stealing kiss. Jim pushed away.

"Much as I'd like to continue this, we really do need to complete that paperwork." He started to tuck himself in, pulling up his trousers, fastening his fly, straightening his shirt - or attempting to do so, for his shirt was stained and crinkled, his hair mussed and sweaty.

"You do not wish first to shower?"

"What?" Jim smirked. "And get rid of the evidence of having been claimed by my possessive Vulcan warrior mate?" He sashayed over to sit primly at his desk.

Spock couldn't help the groan that passed his lips. What an erotic thought, that they should continue something as banal as requisition orders and crew manifests while his seed was still buried deep within his mate, or even seeping -

Spock felt his cock twitch again, and quickly strove to regain his logical equilibrium. His bond mate-to- be would pay for that particular provocation - with a mind-blowing orgasm - later.

***

The arrangements for the illogical Terran winter holiday season had begun, and the Enterprise was humming with excitement. If Vulcans had an equivalent of eye rolling, Spock's would be revolving like the proverbial stone (or whatever the human expression was). But he was a Vulcan, and so did what Vulcans ordinarily do: he suppressed his irritation and slight exasperation, and continued his duties with his usual dedication.

This year was different to previous years. Oh yes, Spock still mentally rolled his eyes, and scheduled extra meditation time in order to deal with the unwanted feelings. But there were other feelings that were not quite so unwanted. For the past twelve months had witnessed a change in the relationship between the Captain of the Enterprise and his First Officer. In due time, they'd gone from an uneasy working relationship, to a tentative friendship, then a stronger brother-like companionship. For the last six weeks Spock and James Kirk had been lovers. And now Jim had asked to bond with him. These feelings, feelings of overwhelming love, acceptance, homecoming - Spock had no desire at this time to be rid of them, or the promise they heralded.

What he would be pleased to be able to put aside was a large measure of anxiety which this treasured relationship was causing. Jim had indicated several times his intention to "surprise" Spock, his face glowing with excitement and anticipation. Spock could only conclude from the frequency of these declarations that Jim was planning something quite extraordinary by way of a gift for his lover. The problem was, as a Vulcan, Spock had no grounding in the traditions of gift exchange. He admitted that as the days were drawing closer to Christmas his anxiety level was rising: he had no idea what to give his captain, lover, friend, bond mate-to-be.

He decided that the logical thing to do would be to seek advice from trusted individuals.

Despite terminating their relationship abruptly after Khan's successful (but ultimately futile) attempt on Jim's life, Uhura had remained a close friend and confidante. Spock decided he would first seek her advice.

The day after Jim's proposal, Spock waited until the end of his shift. Ordinarily if his schedule permitted it he ate his evening meal with Jim. As they rose to exchange their posts with the beta crew, he turned to Uhura.

The captain had just opened his mouth to address Spock, when Spock said -

"Lieutenant, would you be available for dinner this evening in my quarters?"

Surprise crossed the attractive features. "Certainly, Spock. What time?"

Together with the captain they made their way into the turbolift.

"Would 1800 be convenient?"

"Ok." She smiled. "I look forward to it. It's been a while since we caught up, Spock," she commented as the doors parted on the officers' deck.

Jim pushed Spock up against the wall.

"What was that all about?"

"I merely desire to dine with the Lieutenant this evening."

"You didn't think it appropriate to ask me?"

Spock raised his eyebrow.

"Fine. You know, don't answer that. Have a good night, Spock." Jim waved both hands at him dismissively and stalked to his quarters.

"Jim - " Spock started forward, realising he had badly handled things, but there was to be no redress at this time. He needed to report to the labs to check progress on experiments, and then planned a short but intense workout before meeting Uhura for dinner.

***

"So, Spock. It's nice to see you and all. But you and the captain have been thick as thieves the last couple of months. I thought you usually ate with him?"

"Indeed. However, there is something about which I need to seek your advice. It concerns the captain."

Uhura put down her wine glass and gave Spock her full attention. "What's going on?"

Spock took a breath to settle his racing mind. "The captain asked me last night if I would bond with him."

Uhura's eyes lit up and she reached over to gently touch the back of Spock's hand. "Spock, that's wonderful news! I bet you're happy." She looked at him. "You're not happy?"

Spock was momentarily shocked by Uhura's reaction. That she actively supported - almost had an investment in - his relationship with the captain was a mark of the maturity she'd gained, of her generosity, and of the fact she had moved on in the course of the last year.

She sat back, knowing that sometimes it was hard for her friend to process his difficult emotions, giving him time and space.

"Spock?"

"I do not know how to give gifts," he said softly, looking at the hands twisting together in his lap. Seeing Uhura's confusion, he added: "Jim has indicated on ten separate occasions that he has planned something quite elaborate for my Christmas gift, in spite of the fact that Vulcans do not habitually observe winter festivals. Or for that matter exchange gifts."

"... And you don't know how to reciprocate," Spock nodded, "but you very much would like to?" Uhura finished.

"Affirmative."

A contemplative look came to her face.

"Well, when I choose gifts for my friends, I usually pick out something I like which I think they would like. Or something that I think they'd find meaningful. What does Jim like, Spock?"

He had already been down this track before. Perhaps Uhura's guidance would assist him. A number of possibilities flashed through his mind: the Enterprise, high risk endeavours, saving Spock's life on missions, winning battles, Terran cartoons from the twentieth century, terribly twee films made for children before the days of holovideography, high fat, high salt food, ice-cream, old fashioned paper books... fellating Spock...

"Ewww! TMI, Spock!"

"Nevertheless, Nyota, while it would be possible to locate something related to any of those interests, I do not believe any would be an appropriate or fulsome expression of..."

"... what you feel for the captain?"

Spock tensed.

"Come on, Spock. Surely we're past any sort of dissembling or pretence that you don't feel."

He opened his mouth to contradict her, and closed it again, fish-like. "Yes."

Uhura thought for a moment. "Why don't you do some sort of 'Twelve Days of Christmas' thing for him, give him several small gifts, one on each day? I know if Scotty did that for me, I'd be pretty flattered."

Spock raised his eyebrow speculatively. "The idea has merit."

"Or you could just ask Jim what he wants for Christmas. You know what he'll probably say, don't you."

"That I myself am a sufficient gift to him," Spock murmured distantly.

"Yep."

"However, that would appear to defeat the point of the human traditions of gift exchange at this time."

Uhura looked at him, bemused. She finished the last of her wine and stood to leave.

"Well, Spock, it's up to you. I'm sure Jim will deeply appreciate the thought, no matter what you do. You're an intelligent guy, you'll figure something out."

"Nyota, what would you give Jim?"

"I'm not telling you what I'm planning to give him! That would be cheating! One of the things I was thinking about was a magazine subscription. Do you know whether he already has a favourite magazine or journal?"

Finally, something he could seize on and pursue.

After saying goodnight, she left. Spock sat silently contemplating his friend's now empty wine glass for a few minutes, then moved with purpose to his computer terminal. He had research to do.

***

The captain's comm. whistled.

"Kirk here."

"Captain, are you currently occupied?"

Kirk felt the curling tendrils of warmth in the pit of his stomach at the sound of his lover's voice. He was still angry with him about last night and somewhat suspicious, but he couldn't deny what that honeyed baritone did to him. And he knew what his own voice, pitched at just the right level, did to his mate.

"Well, I will be if you decide to pay a visit, Mr Spock."

At the other end of the comm. Spock cleared his throat.

"Very well. I will be there shortly. Spock out."

A few seconds later, the door to their mutual bathroom swooshed open and Spock entered his quarters.

"Take a seat, Spock."

Spock sat, but he was tense and Jim would almost say jittery. Kirk felt a renewed apprehension.

"Spock, are you alright?"

"Yes, sir."

"You don't look it. Look, about last night - "

"Captain, I - "

"No, really, Spock. I shouldn't have got so defensive and upset. You're entitled to have friends, and of course you don't have to spend every single second of your down time with me. Just, in future it'd be nice to know beforehand, you know?"

Spock nodded. "My apologies, Captain."

"Jim, Spock. We're going to be bond mates, so don't you think the formality can be kept to work hours?"

"Jim." Spock looked up at him. His face showed nothing to the casual observer. Jim read the depths of his eyes, and saw something indefinable flit across them for a moment. "I apologise for the abrupt nature of my arrangements for yesterday evening. I wished to consult the Lieutenant on a particular matter. In future I shall endeavour to make these arrangements more... consultatively with yourself."

Jim got up and went around the other side of the desk, drawing Spock to his feet and into a hug.

"Silly Vulcan."

Spock's arms closed around the human. As they drew apart, he brought one hand between them, offering Jim his first gift.

"Spock, what is this?"

"The Terran Christmas festival approaches, does it not?"

"Ye-es."

"And I believe it is traditional to give gifts?"

"Yes, it is. But Spock, you know you don't have to do this. I understand that Vulcans don't give gifts."

"Nevertheless, I wish to participate in this ritual with you. This is the first of your gifts."

Jim took the small package from Spock's hand and turned it over. "The first?"

"Indeed. No one gift is sufficient to indicate how I... cherish you."

Jim carefully undid the wrapping and unwound the white gauze - to reveal a data chip. He looked up at Spock, a question on his face.

Spock gestured that he should plug it into the computer, and he complied.

Spock waited at parade rest, hands clasped behind his back, watching the expression on his mate's face go from anticipation and curiosity to incredulity and wild embarrassment as a red blush suffused his cheeks.

"A year's subscription to The Captain? Spock, you do know what sort of magazine that is?"

"I conducted research into your off-duty reading material over the past twelve months, as evidenced by the ship's logs. In the first three months after we left spacedock, The Captain was a daily referent for you. Given the increase in your performance rating in that time, I inferred that this publication had a direct bearing on the increase."

Kirk felt a magma storm roiling within him, threatening to erupt.

"Spock, I don't know where to start! Do I roar at you for your invasion of my privacy? Do I feel insulted by your insinuation that I learned how to be a good captain from reading a trashy magazine? Do I feel further insulted that you think I need to improve in my leadership by continuing to read it?

Jim shook his head. "You know what, never mind all that. Because, Spock, The Captain is actually a men's magazine."

Spock raised an eyebrow, his expression blank. "How illogical to suggest that the readership of a magazine should be limited by gender."

"Not if you saw the content."

Spock looked at him.

"I'll show you. Come over here."

Jim opened the page and touched one of the links to open the latest issue of his twelve-month subscription. He flicked over a couple of pages... And then the true nature of the rag was revealed as the centrefold appeared on the screen.

Spock straightened. "Oh."

"Yes. Oh, indeed."

Jim's lips quirked in sudden humour. "I'm afraid the only performance this enhanced was a solo one." He became more serious. "Besides, if I became a good captain, it's largely due to the efficiency and competency of my First Officer. My very male, very Vulcan, very sexy First Officer." He snaked a hand around Spock's hips and rubbed up and down his thigh.

Spock relaxed a little. "My apologies, Jim."

Kirk stood and advanced on him. "In fact, I no longer need crappy mags, because I've got a love sehlat with an eidetic memory who remembers all - " he began to kiss, suck, lick Spock's jaw, ear and neck, "my - erogenous - zones - and - knows - how - to bother me - in - just - the right way."

Spock gave in to the waves of pleasure coursing through him, which initiated a round of lovemaking.

When they were satiated, lying together on Jim's bunk, Jim against Spock's chest, Spock asked: "What shall I do with the magazine subscription, Jim?"

"I don't know. There's got to be someone on this ship who would like it." He rolled over onto his elbows and looked at Spock. "What about Scotty?"

"A possibility, supposing the Lieutenant Commander can be pried away from his 'ample nacelles'."

Jim rolled on the bed clutching his stomach, laughing hard enough that he cried.

***

Jim's first gift had been a dire mistake. If he were to offload the miscreant subscription to the chief engineer, Spock rationalised that he could take the opportunity to solicit Mr Scott's advice on a more appropriate gift for Jim.

It was fortunate indeed that Spock ran into the Scotsman on his way to the mess hall for the midday meal. Jim would not be joining him today, owing to an overdue report, so he invited Mr Scott to sit with him, ostensibly to discuss some minor technicalities in the staffing arrangements in Engineering.

Mr Scott was taking the last bite of his sandwich (pastrami, pickles and peanut butter - which Spock considered a truly bizarre combination) when Spock raised the issue.

He chewed thoughtfully for a moment and swallowed. "Well nah, Mister Spock. Ah'm nae all tha' gooud at choosing gifts. Bu' ah always sae ye canna gae wrong wi' a wee bottle o' tha gooud stuff."

It was well known that the captain knew about the entirely non-existent still - ahem, experiment being conducted - in Engineering. Spock had no intention of altering by strict adherence to regulations what was obviously a satisfactory situation for the mental welfare of the crew (and the consternation of Doctor McCoy, much to Spock's amusement).

Spock raised his eyebrow. "And would you by any chance know how one might procure a bottle of said 'good stuff'?"

Scotty grinned. "Follow me, Mr Spock."

He followed the engineer to a storage locker on Deck 10.

"Now, ye're not to tell anyone aboot this place."

"Understood."

Mr Scott left the Vulcan in the hallway and entered the small room. Spock could see shelves filled with bottles and an apparatus, which he supposed was the still.

"Here we go." Scott emerged, handing a bottle to Spock. The liquid inside was a pale pink, a pleasing colour to Vulcan eyes. "A wee dram o' mae latest. I call it mae holiday special, infused with six different spices and berries." He winked at the Commander.

"Thank you, Mr Scott."

"I hope tha Captain finds it to his liking."

Spock fished into his pocket, and handed the data chip to Scotty.

"You may take this as a holiday gift from myself and the captain. Good day, Mr Scott."

The engineer watched the Vulcan's retreating back, clutching the chip. Much later when he saw what was on it he wondered what on earth had been going through the minds of his commanding officers. But not one to complain, he rationalised the gift, chalking it up to fate. Now he would simply have to ensure Uhura didn't catch him with it open on his PADD.

***

Spock raced into sickbay, the captain unconscious in his arms, his whole face bloated and swollen.

McCoy looked up to see the Vulcan's eyes uncharacteristically wide with fear.

"What in the hell happened, Spock? He's not breathing." He began to shout for nurses to grab medical supplies.

"I believe it is an allergic reaction."

"To what?"

"I do not know."

The doctor ran his medical scanner over the unconscious man, his face grim.

"Bloody hell. Whatever he's ingested, it's a cocktail of things he's allergic to: cinnamon, cloves, blackberries, elderberries, nutmeg, and one the medical tricorder's not picking up. Out of the way, Spock, so we can work on him."

Spock stepped out of the room, dismay and anxiety for his lover clamouring for recognition against his Vulcan constraints. After an hour of pacing McCoy's office, the door finally swished open as the doctor stomped in and plonked himself in the chair at his desk.

"Goddamn it! I'm a doctor, not a miracle worker. Though I have to say, Spock, tonight I came close to it. We nearly lost him. Twice. The idiot."

Spock was silent for a moment, then said in a low voice: "Actually, Doctor, I am responsible for the captain's state."

"You?" McCoy stared incredulously.

"Indeed. Jim's second holiday gift was a bottle of Mr Scott's 'good stuff', which I gave him tonight, and which he thought to share with me while we played chess."

There was a deathly silence. The doctor then did what Spock least expected: he guffawed loudly.

"Doctor?" Spock asked, confused.

"And here I was, thinking you pointy-eared hobgoblins are actually an intelligent species. Did it really not occur to you not to check his allergies against the contents of that bottle?"

Spock's tense, most Vulcan facade said it all.

"Anyway, Spock. Why on earth would you give Jim of all people a bottle of Scotty's brew? Everyone knows you have to have a stomach of steel to drink the stuff - or be off your face already. Sort of a cheap-arse gift, if you ask me."

"As Vulcans do not consume alcohol, this is an area in which I lack experience."

The doctor relented, seeing the obvious torment in the Vulcan's face - or sensing it. He was an intuitive man. He leaned forward over the desk.

"He's going to be ok, Spock. Don't beat yourself up. We all make mistakes. Why don't you go sit with him for a while? He probably won't wake up for another couple of hours, but he'll be glad to see you there when he does." The doctor may have been cantankerous, but he saw the good the relationship between his commanding officers did for them. And in his book, anything that made them happy and their relationship harmonious was to be encouraged.

***

The captain was confined to quarters for the next two days, and Spock both confessed and made up to him for his lapse of judgement in an astonishingly creative variety of ways in his off duty time.

They were passing through friendly space, stopping at a number of starbases and other ports doing milk runs on their way to patrol the neutral zone. Therefore, there was little to do as Spock sat in the command chair on the second day of Kirk's convalescence, staring at the view screen as the stars warped past.

He contemplated the first two, failed, gifts with disappointment. His only desire had been to please Jim, and he'd succeeded in insulting and then almost killing him. Spock contemplated what he might do to demonstrate his... affection for his golden mate.

It was serendipitous that his eyes caught the interplay of the two officers at the helm.

Spock knew the two shared an effective working relationship, and that in the vast, long stretches they often filled their time with quiet conversation on a range of topics (most of which concluded with Sulu conceding that yet something else was 'inwented in Russia'). He had never actually observed them in this interaction.

He noticed the way their heads bent closer, the way Sulu leaned and Chekov looked bashful - or was it coy? He observed the clear emotions on the helmsman's face as the young navigator expounded on some astrogational theory or other with enthusiastically wild gesticulations - fondness, desire, and affection. He summed up the data and concluded that if the two were not already a mated couple, they were in the later stages of courting behaviour.

Spock focussed his listening on the conversation to hand.

"Pavel, will you have dinner with me tonight?"

"Why are you asking me zis, Hikaru? Zere are plenty of luffly ladies who would luff to get zeir hands on your - how do you call it? - rapier?"

"Come on, Pavel. You're my... friend, and I'd like to share something special with you. Not with them."

"Somezhingk special?"

"Yes! Just say yes."

"Alright. As long as it's truly special, as you say."

"It will be. I'm gonna blow your mind."

***

Three days later, Spock watched his lover waken, stretching and yawning. He was once again reminded of how beautiful his mate looked, and felt a momentary surge of cherishing for this precious being.

"Morning, lover."

"Good morning, Jim."

He took his captain in his arms and gently began to trace circles on his back.

"You're awfully pensive for first thing in the morning. What gives?"

"Jim, will you have dinner with me tonight?"

"Yeah, sure. We usually have dinner, so yeah." Jim sounded a bit confused.

"We do indeed generally share meals in the mess, and sometimes in our quarters. I would like to do something a little different tonight."

"Oooh, sounds exciting."

"I will be waiting for you in observation lounge C102 at 2000 hours."

"I'll look forward to it all day, my love." Jim kissed him and then dragged him into the shower.

The day passed slowly. Spock spent the hours at the conclusion of his shift carefully setting up the observation lounge. It was the one directly below the bridge, with a clear view out over the saucer section of the ship to the stars as they streaked by.

He had gone to a great deal of trouble to erect strings of tiny lights to continue the illusion of stars. He had set a table for two in the centre of the room, meticulously aligning the knives and forks and spoons, glasses and real linen serviettes just as his mother had shown him the many times she had catered for diplomatic gatherings in their home. He had spent an hour with the chef checking and double checking the menu, and selecting drinks that Jim would not be allergic to.

At 1975 Spock returned to the room, dressed in the midnight blue silk robe with silver scripting on it which Jim so loved on him, and composed himself to wait.

There was no sign of the captain at 2000 hours. There was still no sign of him at 2015 when the food arrived. Or by 2100, by which time the food was cold and Spock had lost his appetite. He drained the last of the fruit juice he was drinking, and went to the comm unit.

"Computer, locate Captain Kirk."

"Captain Kirk is in the captain's ready room."

What would Jim be doing there at this hour?

"Spock to bridge."

"Pendelssohn here, Mr Spock."

"Can you confirm that the captain is in his ready room?"

"Yes, sir. He's been there for the past four hours on a subspace conference call."

"Do you know what the call is in relation to?"

"No sir. Admiral Nogura placed the call four hours ago, and it was routed directly to the ready room."

"Thank you, Lieutenant. Spock out."

Jim usually included him in calls from Command as he valued not just Spock's perspective, which often differed from his own, but also his moral support. Command were not habitually kind to the young captain, and he had many enemies. No doubt Jim had good reasons for not inviting Spock to be part of the conversation.

Nevertheless, it was with a heavy sense of dispiritedness that Spock began to pack up the room. He took down the lights, extinguished the candles, and called for a yeoman to clear the untouched food. The cleaning crew would take care of the rest on the next shift. Spock returned to his quarters, meditated for an hour, and went to bed.

It was not until 0200 hours that he heard the door swish open, the sound of clothes being removed, and felt a cooler body climb under the blankets and wrap itself around him.

"I'm so sorry, Spock."

Jim was shaking.

"Jim?"

"I'm sorry I missed dinner."

Spock reached for his mate, taking the trembling form in his arms.

"We can have dinner another time. What is wrong?"

"I've just had the conference call from hell, starring our friends at Command Nogura and Komack, along with the Federation Ambassadors for about fifty five different planets - including your dad. Turns out the Romulans are agitating and making waves, and there's a major disagreement across the Federation as to how to respond." He yawned.

"And you were included because that is our next mission?"

"Yep. I wanted to call you to come and join me, but honestly there wasn't even time to take a bathroom break. You know what those hawk-nosed bureaucrats are like. And I suppose it is an almost crisis situation. But honestly: nine hours? I feel like I could sleep for a week. And yet my mind is racing."

"Let me assist you, ashaya."

Spock lightly touched Jim's mind and soothed his thoughts, commanding sleep, my Jim. He held his love through the rest of the night, guarding his sleep.

***

The next day they were scheduled to stop at Starbase 69 to pick up some supplies and requisitions for Engineering. Spock took advantage of the opportunity to shop for his next gift for Jim, and also for a gift for Uhura. If he was giving gifts to Jim at her suggestion, then the least he could do was to honour their friendship and bestow a gift on the Lieutenant.

He quickly found something he thought Uhura would like, but it took longer to search for something for Jim. Jim had an incredibly sweet tooth, and inspired by the conversation between Sulu and Chekov from several days prior, he found the perfect item.

Both gifts conveniently came in large rectangular boxes of the exact same size and composition. He carefully wrapped each. Before he could place the tags on the gifts, his comm whistled. One of his science staff had some complicated questions about an experiment the labs were currently running, and it took several minutes to resolve. When he returned to his task of labelling the gifts, his mind was running several solutions at once - not an unusual occurrence for his Vulcan abilities, but it meant his attention was divided. He called for a yeoman and instructed him to deliver the gift to Lieutenant Uhura at the conclusion of her shift.

Finally, Spock thought as he gave Jim his fourth gift, finally he had 'gotten it right' as the humans say.

As Jim accepted the gift, he acknowledged to himself a vague sense of apprehension and bewilderment: what was Spock up to with all these weird gifts? Jim didn't get it.

"It is my hope, Jim, that this will bring pleasure to us both."

"I can't wait to see what it is! Sounds exciting." He valiantly tried to look enthusiastic, noting the anticipation in the minute muscle twitches of Spock's face.

Jim slowly pried the paper loose. He removed the white satin ribbon from the box and lifted the lid -

"Spock?!"

Inside the box was a frilly pink lace negligee with matching bra and panties.

Spock instantly felt the blood drain from his face. It made him temporarily light-headed and speechless, and therefore wholly incapable of replying to his mate, who was apparently speaking to him.

Jim gently drew him over and sat him on the bed.

"Are you alright, Spock? You know, we can talk about this if you like. I mean, I'm pretty adventurous and all, but I have to say I would never have picked you for having an underwear kink. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'll happily dress up for you, if that's what you want."

"I do not," Spock said stiffly.

"Then why -?" Jim gestured to the box and its unseemly contents.

"I am afraid I have inadvertently mixed up your and Uhura's gifts."

"Wait a minute. You mean this was intended for her?" Jim leapt up, his eyes narrowing, hands on his hips. "You bought intimate apparel for your ex-girlfriend?"

"It reminded me of my mother."

"I'm not sure I even want to go there. But honestly, Spock. This isn't the sort of gift one friend gives to another unless they're sleeping with them. Hang on." He closed in on Spock, arms folded across his chest. "Have you been carrying on with her behind my back? First, it's a spontaneous dinner. And now this." He gesticulated wildly. "And it's only happened... since I asked to bond with you." Jim walked away, his back to Spock, who remained seated on the bed. "Is that what this is all about, Spock? Do you really not want me after all?"

Spock rose and put his hands on his captain's shoulders, turning him gently.

"No, Jim. Never. You are my all. You are the other half of my soul, and it was never my intention to indicate anything to the contrary. Lieutenant Uhura has remained a friend. If I chose an inappropriate gift, then it is perhaps because of my lack of experience, as a Vulcan, in gift-giving."

"Oh, Spock." The human drew Spock's forehead to touch his own, and they stood there for several minutes just breathing each other's breath.

"What did you intend to give me?"

Elsewhere on the ship, Lieutenant Uhura was unwrapping a novelty chocolate sword. Her eyebrow went up in surprise and consternation. What sort of gift was this to give a friend? What in heaven's name did Spock intend by it?

Never mind. She shrugged. She was pretty sure she and Monty would find plenty of use for the item. Besides, what chocoholic could ever turn down a fine piece of dark chocolate? Especially if it were to be fitted over a delectable portion of her lover's anatomy?

***

Spock was a stubborn individual, not given to accepting failure. He made three more attempts at giving Jim an appropriate gift.

Two days after the pink negligee incident, Doctor McCoy complained that Jim was looking weary. The captain's paperwork had piled up while he was attempting to put out fires with Command. There had been further calls, and the problem with long calls was that the work which ordinarily filled that time was still waiting for the exhausted man when he finally cut the comm.

Seeing this, and after sharp words from the doctor, Spock took matters into his own hands, and completed Jim's paperwork. It had taken Spock at least six hours over two nights, but it had been achieved. Unfortunately, Jim had been the opposite of impressed, and had expressed anger that Spock should a) once again invade his privacy, and b) deprive himself of sleep on the captain's behalf. Spock believed the logic of his position to be unassailable - and had spent a night in his own quarters as a result.

The next gift he ordered online - and there was a terrible mix-up in its delivery at the next Starbase. When he attempted to clarify with the supplier, there had been a communications misunderstanding. Spock was adamant that the website had said, "The galaxy's biggest retailer of sexual aids," not "The galaxy's retailer of the biggest sexual aids."

He arranged for the giant five-foot high mint green jelly dildo to be returned expeditiously, before Jim had a chance to see it.

Spock had chosen another supplier (needless to say) when he bought the titanium handcuffs lined with velvet with an unbreakable lock.

Just as Jim unwrapped them, the ship had lurched, and to their mutual horror, the clasps had closed around his wrists. There was a frantic search for the keys - which had slithered between the deck plate and the wall as the ship lurched again and the red alert klaxon sounded.

There was no time to try to recover the keys, and so the two officers had raced the to the bridge - to find the Enterprise was under fire from two Romulan warbirds. Naturally the Enterprise triumphed, but the captain had the embarrassment of visual communication with his Romulan counterpart (before they blew themselves up) while sitting cuffed in his chair. Even Spock winced at the amusement and derisively raised eyebrows of the Romulan commander and his crew.

That meant another night in his own bunk for Spock.

It was now three days until Christmas. After the failed attempts to give Jim a gift that adequately expressed his regard, Spock had to meditate for several hours to overcome the feelings of disappointment, hurt, and the niggling worry that the captain would withdraw his offer to be Spock's bond mate. Above all things, Spock feared the loss of the light, love and warmth Jim brought to his being. He didn't think he could live without it. And so, with all his failures, his singular ineptitude in the giving of gifts, this concern escalated. Hence the extra three hours of meditation in which reaching the deepest level was essential.

And having achieved that deep meditation, his mind was remarkably clear as he contemplated the dilemma. He rose from his meditation pose, and seated himself on the couch, his fingertips steepled.

Perhaps Lieutenant Uhura was right in the first place. He explored the extensive aspects of Jim's character which he found appealing. His unpredictability, his ingenuity, his daring and bravery, his willingness to give himself for the life of his crew, his compassion, his humanity and his humour. Oh yes, his character endeared him greatly to the once barren and lonely half-Vulcan. Then there was his friendship, his acceptance of Spock and others, his curiosity and thirst for adventure that matched Spock's own. There was his quicksilver mind, mercurial and multi-coloured, and welcoming, as though it were made to be Spock's home. All of this was wrapped up in a package with the most intriguing blue eyes, wheaten hair, bushy eyebrows, well muscled torso, toned buttocks, vibrant ...

Spock backed up. One of the things he loved about the way Jim kept his body (apart from his fitness, never better since his return to life after Khan) was the smoothness of his chest. Jim apparently was obsessed with maintaining a hairless torso - and neatly trimmed hair anywhere else it appeared on his body.

The very act of listing Jim's qualities - not the least of which was his physical appearance - had Spock hard as a rock with flaring desire. Alas, there was no time to do anything about it now, and so he willed the blood to return to other parts of his system.

But it did spark an idea.

***

Medical bay kept supplies of depilatories, mostly because they were often required in the case of serious surgery. Spock went to sickbay at a time when he knew only a nurse would be on duty. He watched and waited until she went into the supply closet to collect something, snuck in, located the depilatory supplies, took what he needed, and slunk out - as efficient and quiet as a cat.

With his ill gotten gain, he secreted himself in the bathroom he shared with Jim hoping that by now the captain would be asleep given that it was the middle of the ship's simulated night. However, just to make sure Spock flicked the privacy lock.

Having never used wax before, it took a substantial effort to identify the most efficient and least painful means of its use. After using wax on his torso, and experiencing the smarting burn of hair follicles not used to being so abused, he decided it would be too risky to use the wax in more intimate areas. He had a moment of wondering why he had not chosen to use a hair suppressor (the standard means for ensuring facial hair didn't return) - and then reminded himself that it was because the hair suppressor wasn't designed to be used elsewhere on the body. Instead, he took up an old fashioned razor, applied some soap lather from the shower stall, and proceeded carefully to shave his pubic hair. The first part wasn't too difficult - his pubic mound was relatively flat, and the hair easy to remove. More difficult was the sensitive area around his scrotum. Eventually however, he succeeded in removing all the recalcitrant hair, stepped into the shower to rinse the excess soap and cut hairs, and then patted himself dry before applying some lotion. He wasn't prepared for the sting of the lotion, which had his eyes watering momentarily before he regained control. At least he would have a day for the irritation to subside before... he gave his final gift to the Captain.

There were unexpected benefits and draw backs in being denuded of body hair. The fabric of his briefs felt odd against his skin, and he noticed he sweated more, the skin having less opportunity to breathe. On the other hand, his sensitivity to stimuli increased fourfold, and he found himself constantly having to suppress an erection for most of the next day. It was difficult to concentrate, especially given that the Captain kept looking at him strangely all day.

Ten minutes before the end of the shift, a soft voice said at his shoulder: "Dinner, my quarters, 1730 hours."

As Jim exhaled, his breath deliberately caught the short hairs at the back of Spock's neck and he shuddered deliciously. "Affirmative, Captain."

Before arriving at the Captain's door, Spock returned to his own quarters and applied oil to the areas he had shaved. It was a sensuous act that had him half hard. To hide the evidence of his arousal, he changed into the short tunic Vulcans wore beneath their robes, and threw on a midnight blue robe with crystal-laced embroidered figures on its lapel.

Thus apparelled, Spock presented himself and commed for entry. The door slid open to reveal Jim's quarters, shrouded in the soft glow of candlelight, dinner on a table set for two, wine in a chilled decanter.

"Welcome, Spock." Jim kissed him chastely on the lips, and smiled. That warmth wrapped around the Vulcan like a blanket.

"I know the Christmas party's later tonight, but I wanted the two of us to have a quiet dinner together. And I wanted to give you your gift."

"Unnecessary, Captain, but thoughtful nonetheless. I also have a gift for you."

Jim smiled gently. "Let's eat while it's hot. Roasted eggplants with parmesan ok for you?"

"Yes, Jim."

They talked about everything and nothing as they ate, their hands occasionally brushing affectionately. Spock was once again breathless at the beauty of the being before him, and at the thought that he wanted to be with him, by his side, beyond death if it were in Spock's power to manage it.

The food gone, Jim stood, taking Spock's hand in his own, and his half full wine glass in the other, and led him over to the couch.

"Stay here, Spock."

Spock settled on the edge of the couch while Jim disappeared into the sleeping area, and returned with two packages, one large, one small.

"Go on, open them!"

Spock started with the larger package.

"Be gentle and careful, Spock. It's breakable." Jim had the look on his face of a small child who really wanted to jump in and unwrap the gift himself; so eager was he for Spock to reveal it.

The paper came away.

"A ka'athyra."

"Not just any ka'athyra, Spock. I searched high and low for this one. It was made on the old Vulcan."

Spock was speechless. He ran his hands over the strings, turning the voicing knobs gently. It was well voiced, the product (he recognised) of the highest master craftsman, Soltek. He was astounded to be holding in his hands something so precious, so irreplaceable.

"Jim, it is too much."

"No, it's not, Spock. Nothing is too much for you. Open your second package."

Spock did so - a packet of Vulcan spiced tea - again, produced on Vulcan-that-is-no-more.

"Jim..."

That dear human had gone to such trouble to find gifts for Spock which reminded him of a home he no longer had, of his childhood, of the red light of Eridani on sand and rock. Sufficient samples and seeds of the flora of Vulcan had been preserved off-world that eventually almost all of them would be able to be grown again on New Vulcan in order that new instruments might be made. It would be many years before that eventuality. And in any case, the expertise of the master craftsmen was all but lost. Such priceless gifts.

"I regret, Jim, that I do not have anything like this to give you."

Jim gently lifted both lyre and tea out of the road, placing them in a safe place, and then settled himself in Spock's lap, a knee either side of his thighs.

"That's ok, Spock. You yourself are a sufficient gift - a more than sufficient gift - for me." He looked into Spock's eyes, and brushed his hair behind one pointed ear before leaning in to kiss him.

The kiss became passionate as Spock surrendered himself to his mate's persistent desire. His hands slipped up under the human's tunic to rub pink nipples, already dimpling in anticipation. A tongue darted in and out of his mouth, and he lost coherent thought as Jim threw off his own top, and pushed his robe down over both shoulders.

"Ooooh! Vulcan underwear," Jim remarked when he discovered what Spock was wearing beneath his robe.

"It was appropriate to dress authentically."

Jim rubbed his hands up and down Spock's cloth-covered chest. The stimulation was almost unbearable, and Spock groaned.

"Come on, Mister. I think we'd be more comfortable in bed, don't you?" Jim gave him his best 'come hither' smile, and taking his hand, pulled him up towards the sleeping area.

Spock wrapped his arms around his mate, drawing a deep breath of his scent as he buried his face in Jim's neck. Their arousal was growing; he could feel Jim's hard length now struggling to be free of its trappings.

Jim kicked off his pants, and they both got rid of their shoes. He playfully pounced on Spock, sending him backwards onto the bed. Cool human hands pushed beneath his tunic - and stopped. The expression on Jim's face was one of surprise. He pushed the fabric up and over Spock's head.

"Spock! What have you done?! What's happened to your hair?"

"This was to have been my gift to you, Jim. I waxed it."

"You waxed that beautiful fur? But Spock, I love your black fur, I love feeling it slide through my fingers. Oh well, I suppose it will regrow."

Spock arched into the air as one much more sensitive nipple was violently sucked into a cool mouth. Jim laved his now nude chest with his tongue, kissing, licking, biting in a way he hadn't been able to do before. It was driving Spock wild, his cock straining against the bloomers that completed the Vulcan under-tunic.

"Let's get these off, shall we?" Jim stripped them off - and stopped still, looking at Spock's dripping cock standing proud in naked glory.

For a few moments, Spock didn't know what was happening; he was floating in a sea of pleasure. But Jim's sudden cessation caught up with him and he looked around for what had become of his mate.

Jim was shuddering violently, curled in on himself against the wall, clutching Spock's undergarments to himself, as if they were a security blanket.

Spock placed a hand on his back. Jim started away.

"Jim?"

"Don't touch me!"

Spock stared for a moment, perplexed.

"Jim, what is wrong?"

"What is wrong? What is wrong?" Jim leapt up and turned to face Spock, throwing the undergarments at his face. "I'll tell you what's wrong. Over the past twenty four days the man I love has alternately insulted me, attempted to kill me, cheated on me with his ex, invaded my privacy several times, and humiliated me in front of my crew and of all people, the Romulans. Thanks to this lover boy, James T Kirk is the laughingstock of the galaxy, from here to Antares. And now, not to be outdone, he adds to the list the stark reminders of a past I can't but would rather forget."

"I do not understand."

"Oh, of course you wouldn't. Don't you play the dumb Vulcan blonde with me. Or haven't you seen in my mind: the memories of Frank, of Tarsus IV? Does my pain mean nothing to you? Does it mean nothing to you that I trust you, even after the crap life's thrown at me? Well, congratulations: you've broken it, Spock. I, of all people, can't fuck a prepubescent boy."

Jim was shuddering again, his arms closed around himself. Spock moved toward him.

"Get out! Get out, you Vulcan scum, and don't come back. You could've just told me you didn't want me, that I wasn't good enough for you to bond with, that you thought I was trash. GET OUT!"

Jim launched himself toward Spock like an angry tiger with fangs and claws bared, with a snarl.

Spock grabbed his robe off the floor and fled out into the corridor, much to the surprise of a passing yeoman.

"At ease, yeoman," Spock said, with all the dignity a naked half-Vulcan who has just been evicted from his captain's quarters could summon while clutching his robe to cover his nakedness.

Without a second look the yeoman passed on, and Spock darted back to his quarters. Too shell shocked to be able to process what had just happened, Spock carried on. He woodenly dressed in his uniform and reported to the bridge, as he had volunteered for bridge duty so that all crew had an opportunity, even for a couple of hours, to attend the festivities in rec room three.

It wasn't until the last crewmember had gone to the party and Spock was seated in the big chair - Jim's chair - that the full impact of the altercation hit him. Somehow, through his own inadequacy, he had lost Jim's regard, lost all chance of long-term contentment with the one he had been coming to realise was his t'hy'la. He felt pain in the region of his heart, and understood for the first time why Terrans associated love with the heart. In this case, he felt like it had broken (illogical though that thought was, and doubly illogical, given that he shouldn't be feeling the emotion in the first place).

Jim was the one who had encouraged Spock to live, not as a Vulcan, not as a human, but as Spock. He had guided Spock through the minefield that was the experience of emotion. He had been the only friend (apart from Uhura) Spock had ever had. What was he going to do? Spock wasn't sure he'd be able to live in such close proximity to the human who broke his heart, let alone continue professionally under his command. He frankly didn't know what to do.

As Spock sat on the bridge ruminating on his misery, he wasn't present to witness the Captain get blind drunk and maudlin at the Christmas party. Nor was he there to listen as Scotty and Bones - both not much better off than the Captain - helped him back to his cabin. And he didn't hear the hours-long noise of vomiting and weeping coming from the shared bathroom.

What he did notice was the medical log entry indicating the Captain was on sick leave the following day. He remained on the bridge, changing the duty rosters so that Kirk only shared one bridge shift with him in the coming week. The rest of the time he assigned himself to the labs; there were always experiments to observe and reports and papers to scribe. Plenty to keep a heart-broken half-human occupied. He decided to bide his time, see just how unbearable working with Kirk was, and then make a decision whether to stay or go. Because Spock was a logical and efficient person, he filled out the transfer papers, and booked the necessary prerequisite medical scan for the end of the week. While he never enjoyed sickbay, and actively avoided physicals at the best of times, Spock rationalised that at the very least a medical wouldn't do any harm.

***

The next six days were among the most miserable in all of Spock's life. He spent his days in the lab, mostly alone as the crew were on reduced duty over the holiday period. He was diligent in his studies, devoting to them single minded attention. Or he would have, if his balls hadn't been itching as much. Three of the six days were utterly miserable as he not only dealt with the scratchiness of new hair growth, but also contended with a nasty yeast infection rash which had sprung up in that area. Too embarrassed to see Doctor McCoy, Spock waited it out.

But his physical misery was not a patch on his emotional anguish and mental discomfort. What made it worse was the inability to slip into the deeper levels of meditation. The best he was able to manage was the first level, controlled breathing. It was better than nothing, but in order to heal emotionally and mentally from Jim's rejection, he would need to touch those depths. And that was, for the moment, impossible.

When he attempted to sleep, he dreamt - a situation he was unused to, as Vulcans tend not to dream. And those dreams were terrifying dreams of losing Jim in a variety of ways, some plausible, some reconstructions of previous missions, some implausible but no less fearsome for their impossibility. Worse were the dreams in which they were making love, in which he went ahead and forged the never-dying bond with his captain, his friend, his brother, his love.

He woke from his dreams, sweaty, sometimes covered in semen, always shaking. By the time New Year's Eve came around, the lack of sleep and lack of meditation were taking a toll on his being. Apart from the one shift on the bridge, he hadn't seen Jim at all, and that shift had been icy and unpleasant in the extreme. Taking all things into consideration, Spock made his decision: he would have his medical examination, and then file his papers for resignation. He would go back to the colony on New Vulcan and offer his services in the furthering of the Vulcan people.

At the end of his shift on New Year's Eve, Spock made his way to the medical bay.

"Spock, come in," greeted Doctor McCoy.

"Have a seat." The Doctor ran a tricorder over him. "To what do I owe the pleasure, Spock? Usually it takes a medical order to see you in here for a physical."

Spock drew himself up to his Vulcan best. "I intend to resign. This is my exit physical, Doctor McCoy."

McCoy stopped and looked at him with concern. "And just how is that the logical thing to do?"

How was he going to explain his logical deductions when they were so intensely personal?

"Returning to the New Vulcan colony to assist my people in re-establishing our culture and traditions will always be a logical choice."

"Well now, that may be true. But it seems to me there's more going on here than you're letting on. Take for instance, the fact that only one of your shifts has coincided with Jim's this week, or the fact that you're no longer eating your meals together in the mess. Now don't look at me like that. Don't forget, I have the medical authority to screen what all members of the crew put on their diet cards, and the right to monitor what they are eating. And checking your's... When was the last time you ate properly, Spock?"

"I last consumed a bowl of soup at breakfast yesterday."

"That's not good enough."

"I was not hungry. It was not logical to eat."

"That's rubbish, and you know it. Besides, these readings tell me that not only haven't you been eating enough, but you're dangerously sleep deprived and your brainwave patterns are all over the place, which suggests you haven't been able to meditate. Am I right?"

"Vulcans do not require as much sleep as humans."

"So I'll take that as a yes, that I'm right."

Spock looked at the Doctor with a raised eyebrow.

"Spock, do you know anything about a pot of wax that went missing from my sickbay approximately seven days ago?"

"Negative."

"Now, is it true that Vulcans cannot lie?"

"Vulcans cannot lie."

"Then how do you explain this?"

McCoy turned a screen around and played a security tape which showed Spock creeping into sickbay and stealing the pot of wax.

"Start talking, Spock, or I'll show this to the Captain, and instead of a resignation, there'll be a court martial."

Spock paled, then folded his hands in his lap, and proceeded to tell the Doctor the whole story, beginning with the night Jim asked him to bond with him, right through until that present moment. McCoy laughed until he was weeping.

"Doctor McCoy, I fail to see the humour in what I have told you. In fact, if this examination is quite over - " He rose and made to leave, stopped by the Doctor pushing him back onto the biobed with one arm.

"Oh, I'll just bet you don't, you green blooded computer. Now stay put while I do these further tests. Honestly, a five foot mint-green jelly cock." McCoy dissolved in yet another fit of hilarity.

Spock waited patiently until the good doctor subsided and continued with his medical scans.

"All my attempts to give Jim a gift were genuine. Since that evening, the Captain has avoided me. Given that he sees no value in my presence except as a painful reminder of what has been, the most logical way forward is to remove myself from the situation."

"Oh, yes? Logical for his sake, or for yours?" McCoy commented shrewdly. "Perhaps if you were to explain it to him - "

"No, Doctor. That is impossible."

"Jim's a reasonable man, Spock. And he loves you."

"Again, I do not believe, after what I have done, that it would be possible for him to continue to care for me."

"Spock, you of all people should know you can't trip some emotional switch. Ok, so you hobgoblins have your mental voodoo ways and means. But even then, strong emotions can't just be flicked on or off. Can they?"

Spock looked at him in consternation, unwilling to deny what was the truth.

"Usually the way to process strong emotion is by talking it out. And by effective communication between affected parties. You have to talk to Jim, Spock. He's probably miserable too. Oh, and the next time you plan to give him a gift, come and ask me."

Spock left and returned to his quarters. He didn't want to admit it, but the talk with McCoy had helped. He pondered the Doctor's advice, and took one of his little red pills which guaranteed him a solid night's sleep.

***

The New Year's Eve party was in full swing when the Captain made his appearance. Kirk had no desire to be there, but he knew how much the crew valued his participation. So even though the last thing he felt like doing was partying, he reported to the rec room and poured himself a glass of punch.

It had been a shitty week, full of resentment and disappointment, anger and hurt for what Spock had done in the past month. Worst of all, Jim still missed his friend. He missed his quiet support, and his dry humour, the way his eyes crinkled as they smiled, and the warmth of his affection and touch. Kirk found himself on a rollercoaster, vacillating from one emotion to another.

He sat himself in a corner, watching couples gyrating under the strobe lights and disco ball over the dance floor. He was so deep in his thoughts he hardly noticed when Uhura sat next to him.

"Penny for your thoughts, Captain?"

"Oh hey, Uhura. Scotty run off back to the other woman already?"

She laughed. "Well, you know how anxious he gets about his engines. We did have a couple of whirls around the dance floor. And I made sure he ate more than a sandwich, and drank more than a 'wee dram 'o juice'."

Kirk laughed. "Yes, I can just imagine it." He fell silent.

"Captain, Jim. I've noticed you've not been yourself this week. Are you alright?"

Kirk prevaricated. "Yes, Lieutenant. I'm fine."

Uhura didn't feel she could pry further. Instead she asked brightly: "Did Spock give you any presents?"

Kirk looked at her and snorted. "Presents? I'll be only too glad never to get anything from him ever again."

"Why, what do you mean?"

Kirk told her all about the gifts Spock had given him, and about how confused they had made him. When he got to the pink negligee and explained it was for her, she blushed.

"Oh dear, I guess the chocolate rapier was meant for you, and not for Monty and me."

Kirk stared at her. "What?"

"I thought it was a bit odd, to be receiving a chocolate novelty from Spock of all people. Monty and I shrugged and chose to enjoy it."

"That's so not a picture I want in my head!"

"And nor do I want a mental picture of Spock denuded of hair in mine! So thanks for that, you infant!"

She playfully batted his shoulder. They both smirked and fell silent..

"Jim, I happen to know Spock tried really hard, and put a lot of effort into choosing gifts for you. You do realise he really wanted to give you something that showed how deep his love for you is? Well, he obviously felt one gift wasn't enough to do that. It was kind of my suggestion that he give you multiple gifts over a number of days. I am absolutely certain he wasn't doing any of it to humiliate or insult or belittle you in any way. That's just not like Spock. Surely you know that by now?"

Everything fell into place, like the pieces of a puzzle. Kirk saw that his reaction to Spock's gifts was somewhat unjust - he'd never given the man a chance to explain himself or his gifts.

"Yeah, maybe you're right, Uhura."

She patted his knee and went off to join some of her friends who were sitting in a corner of the room conducting a loud conversation with much laughter.

Kirk remained for a few minutes more to see the new year in, absorbing his revelation, before heading back to his quarters. Like much of the past week he found himself unable to sleep, and resorted firstly to pacing his room. That wasn't enough: he headed out to patrol his ship, to roam her corridors and feel the thrum of her life force through the deck plates. Three hours later he came back, but still wasn't able to settle. He lay on his bunk and looked through the gloom of low lighting at the ceiling, and stayed that way until the alarm went off at 0600 hours.

***


Spock wasn't anywhere to be found. He didn't appear for breakfast. He didn't report to the bridge. He wasn't in his usual lab. After half an hour of trying to locate the Vulcan First Officer, the Captain gave up; his attention for the time being was required for his own duties on the bridge.

The first he heard of Spock for that day was when the resignation papers came to his PADD. Enough! He commed the main lab and was redirected to Spock's office - which had been curiously empty until now.

"Spock here."

"Mr Spock."

"Yes, Captain."

"I would like to see you in the ready room at 1500."

There was a brief pause.

"Do I need to make that an order?"

"No, sir."

"Then I will see you at 1500. Kirk out."

For the remaining two hours until his meeting with Spock, Kirk fidgeted and shuffled, unable to settle. He admitted he was nervous right up until the Vulcan showed on the bridge.

"Captain?"

"Right, Mr Spock. Sulu, you have the conn."

They went into the ready room. Kirk sat on the other side of his desk and invited Spock to be seated.

"Thankyou, sir. I prefer to stand." He tucked both hands behind his back and stared at a point three feet to the right and above Kirk's shoulder.

"Come on, Spock. Don't be like that."

He remained implacable.

"Spock, I really wish you would sit down. It would make this a lot easier."

Still the stubborn bastard refused to move.

"Ok. Fine. We'll do it your way. First of all, Spock, I am not accepting your resignation."

That got a reaction, which Kirk cut off with a wave of his hand.

"I can't accept it, not over something as stupid as this, especially given that it largely stems from my actions. Spock, I am sorry for how I reacted. I spoke with Uhura last night, who told me how much effort you put in to choosing gifts for me. I want you to know how much I appreciate the thoughts behind your gifts, even if they did backfire."

He went over to Spock, whose stance was softening, and rubbed his bicep. "I do love you, you know. If we're going to make this permanent, we're going to have to do some work on our communication skills."

Spock dropped his arms and gazed hopefully at Kirk. It was a look that almost broke Kirk's heart with its raw pathos. "You... you still wish to bond with me?"

"Why would I not? I was pretty upset last week about you waxing and shaving parts of you that I love and think should never be shaved or waxed. But it'll grow back. And perhaps I haven't been as up front as I could've about my history and how it might impact our relationship.

"As for this gift business," he reached to take Spock's face between his hands, "Spock, you yourself are the greatest gift I could ever receive. If you really feel the need to give me gifts, ask me!"

"Jim, I wanted to find something that could express..."

"I know. I know, Spock. It's ok. I'm sorry." Kirk threw his arms around the Vulcan, who melted into his embrace. "

"I do not think you are trash, and to bond with you is more than I could ever deserve. And Jim, I will always, always want you. Do not doubt it. I..."

"Shhhh. It's ok."

"I love you, Jim," Spock whispered, and finally his arms wrapped around his mate, coming up to grip his shoulders and press him close to his breast.

"And I love you, Spock."

They stood like that for some time, gently rocking.

"Hey, Spock. You know there's an old Terran tradition of the twelve days of Christmas? Well, there's still six days left..."


***

Six days later, Spock found his hair was growing back, soft and downy to the touch. He used his comm. to invite the captain to a game of chess at the end of their shifts.

At 1830 sharp, Kirk appeared, a wrapped box in his hand.

"I have one more Christmas gift for you, Spock."

He tore the paper from the gift, revealing a box of chocolates, obviously vetted to be Jim-friendly.

Spock raised his eyebrow, causing Jim to chuckle, and then produced his own gift: a bottle of fine whiskey. Now his mate laughed openly.

They opened the box and each took a chocolate, Spock pouring a finger of liquid for each of them.

"I'm glad we can enjoy these together, Spock. Happy Christmas!"

"Happy Christmas, Jim," Spock replied.

"And here's to many more."

Jim had just lifted a glass of the amber liquid to his lips and was taking a sip when Spock said: "Minus the five foot high mint-green jelly dildo," which caused Jim to spray liquid everywhere, and erupt into a coughing fit of hilarity.

"You, my friend, have a terrible sense of timing. Really? A five foot high mint-green jelly dildo?"

"Affirmative. I did not believe it to be appropriate to give it to you."

"That's a shame, Spock. Of all the mistakes, that would've been the one that wasn't so bad."

"Perhaps."

"Besides, you know how much I like mint-green... Especially on you..."

The wait, Spock decided, had been worth it. And they began their year together with a reaffirmation of their intention to bond. Of all things, that was the greatest gift Spock could have wished for.

FIN
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