Low lighting, soft music, being surrounded by magnificent lifeforms with stories that rivaled Jim's own as Captain of the Enterprise, there was little else Jim could have hoped for on shore leave. He sat at the counter of a bar, a shot of scotch in hand, grinning at the woman with burgundy hair and sky blue skin who recited a bawdy rendition of her recent soirée in the Neutral Zone. Jim had one ear perked up and tuned in to the conversation, taking notes of how her star ship evaded a war with the Klingons, yet he listened to her through a fog, attention lost in the cloudy mists of his own mind.
Jim, to put it simply, was lonely. And he didn't know why.
And, while he'd never admit it aloud, he disliked this particular scotch. It was astringent, lingered too long on his tongue, but it'd been given to him free of charge by the bartender, whose family the Enterprise had saved from a cruel dictator in the first year of their five year mission. Gazing intensely into the depths of that liquor, Jim hadn't noticed when the only other human at the counter belted out a joke that sent everyone roaring in laughter. The blue woman nudged him, and Jim let out a little laugh and whisked up his scotch in a toast. Then he downed it, savoring the burn despite the awful flavor.
He ached to lose this loneliness that buried itself within him, weighing heavy in his bones, his conscious, and, dare he suggest it, his soul. Jim prided himself as a man of science, as a practitioner of logic and reason. The loneliness that enveloped him was not a mere chemical imbalance or the build up of negative thoughts and experiences. It was something else. He didn't know what made him feel worse: his loneliness or its mysterious existence.
"Captain, is this seat taken?”
Spock, thought Jim, his First Officer's name springing to mind as instantly as the joy that bloomed in his chest. Grinning, Jim spun in his chair to reply to Spock eye-to-eye, but he suddenly became breathless, struck by Spock's sharp cheekbones, his tall and lithe figure, and felt rooted in his seat once he met Spock's gaze. It was dark, undeterred. A lethal look that had Jim swallowing down a knot in his throat.
"That depends," Jim finally said. "I'm saving it for a good friend."
Spock raised an eyebrow, mirth gleaming in his stare. "As just you and I were permitted shore leave on Altair VI, I can only conclude this seat is reserved for me."
Mouth quirked, Jim worked out the perfect reply, one with an ample amount of disguised wit and logic that a Vulcan couldn't resist, but the moment Spock arched his brow, it was like his entire face lit up. Jim was riveted, absolutely gob smacked at how handsome Spock was.
Spock took his silence as a confirmation, and sat down beside him. With the counter as crowded as any bar on a Friday night, it was a tight squeeze and their shoulders kept brushing, merely millimeters separating them. Jim's shoulder felt on fire, his entire body buzzing with energy, and he forgot all about the people he'd only just been chatting with.
"This is a fine establishment," remarked Spock, the soothing baritone of his voice warming Jim.
Jim ought to reply, say something, but he became tongue-tied. Spock tonight was too handsome, too enthralling, far too attractive for Jim to lie to himself about how deep his affections went for him. It was ridiculous. Just the other day Jim had walked onto the Bridge, stole a glance at Spock bent over his work station, and kidded himself into thinking that the urge to crowd around Spock's corner and tease him was because Jim didn't know how else to properly show how much he respected and admired Spock as his First Officer. But tonight Jim couldn't lie to himself. He liked teasing Spock and invading his space because he was smitten, positively head over heels for a man whose culture dictated the suppression of emotion. Jim should download a copy of Surak's teachings into his padd and learn how to control himself better. Right now Jim acted like his younger, more naive self back in his Academy days. After surfacing from hour long stretches in the library, he'd stared wide-eyed like a goldfish at the gorgeous baristas who replicated his coffee, not knowing how to flirt because his brain had been filled to the brim with thoughts on his textbooks.
Jim frowned, sadness dampening him for the first time since Spock arrived. If Spock had been the one to replicate his coffees, perhaps he would have liked being seduced through a rambling thesis on the decolonization of planets.
"Are you enjoying yourself, Captain?" said Spock, as he shook his head to the bartender who looked over at him, quietly inquiring for an order.
Jim grappled for words to say. "Yes, I'm afraid so. The company and the drinks of Altair VI are better than any description a brochure could muster up," he said, smiling softly. "Oh, and Spock, we're on shore leave. There's no need to call me Captain."
Spock titled his head, eyebrows raising minutely. "I'm glad you are enjoying yourself, Jim." He lowered his voice while saying Jim's name, and though some might've described his tone as modified and emphasizing, Jim preferred husky, rich, deep, alluring. Spock titled his head, their shoulders brushing, and Jim cursed himself for finishing his scotch. Now his hands itched to hold something, but there was nothing but the counter or Spock's knee. Jim settled with drawing circles on the counter.
"Forgive me for pressing this issue, Jim, but I could not help but notice that the likelihood of me speaking tonight is tipped in my favor, an unlikely occurrence. May I rephrase my first question, and ask if you are well?"
Jim couldn't help but smile. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but are you worried about me? I didn't know Vulcans were one to worry."
"I do not worry. I merely notice."
A little laugh burst out of Jim, and his heart began beating erratically. He could listen to Spock logic his way out of saying he felt the emotion that he felt any day of the week and never grow tired. It was like air, or water; it gave Jim life and happiness in a way he could never truly fathom.
The corners of Spock's eyes crinkled, the closest to a smile as ever, and Jim stared at it, silent and transfixed, memorizing the gleam in Spock's eye.
"Prah tvi-shal fa'pluhk-tor nash-veh abru t'k'vass."
All humor slipped off Spock's face, his gaze now closed-off and sullen. He turned and stared down the counter, past where it turned a ninety degree angle, at a lone Vulcan who stared as impassively back, a tumbler in hand with a centimeter of liquor inside. Jim's Vulcan was rusty, since normally he'd been too distracted over how attractive Spock's voice was in his native language when Spock tried to teach him words and phrases. He did pick up the word k'vass, as it was the only drink the Enterprise had on stock that Spock could enjoy at parties, which Jim ensured was in good supply whenever they docked at a check point.
"Nam'uh hayal," replied Spock, sounding guarded. He turned away from the Vulcan. His eyebrows were slightly drawn, ever so slightly, but Jim noticed the stress lurking within him. "Lof t'etek ri aisha vatlar."
The Vulcan bristled, leaning into the bar. "Qom'i telsu ha," he said, the last syllable slurred and elongated.
Spock glanced at Jim, his gaze boring into him. His next words were clipped, the consonants uncharacteristically harsh. "Ri ma nash-veh telsu."
"Ri nam-tor du Spock ha," continued the Vulcan, eyebrow quirked and huffing with a barely contained snicker. "Sa-fu t'Sarek, ulef-qom'i ha."
Spock tensed, drew his shoulders back, and Jim sincerely wished he'd amassed textbooks and source materials for learning Vulcan. Spock's distress was loud and thick; it cast the bar in ominous shadows, stifled the chatter and music. Emotions radiated out of him in vociferous waves. Jim wanted to argue against the Vulcan who riled up Spock. Though beyond k'vass and the brief mention of Spock and his father, Jim couldn't follow the conversation, yet he knew with conviction that Spock needed his support. Jim seethed, angry at himself for not being there for Spock in this moment. Pressing his shoulder into Spock's, he hoped that'd suffice.
"Ni'droi du po ha," said Spock, the steadiness of his voice betraying his emotions.
"Vlau-tor por'sen t'qom'iong t'duong ni'hin. Kiv ri olau, ri ni'droi du yhet Vuhlkansu."
Spock raised an eyebrow – a haughty gesture, Jim realized, with the arch sharp and stilted, not like the teasing quirk he'd directed Jim's way moments prior. Humming, Spock titled his head, and pressed his shoulder into Jim's. And the moment Spock's heat seeped through their blue and gold Starfleet uniforms, tidal waves of feelings and thoughts that were not Jim's flooded his consciousness. Jim gripped his thigh to stop himself from lurching forward or groaning, but as soon as he moved, the floods eased, replaced by an echoing thought not his own, It's true.
It was crazy, Jim knew, but that echo had been uttered in Spock's voice.
Jim spun around and grasped Spock’s wrist. He'd never experienced a telepathic link, but he'd read enough about them to recognize one when he saw it. Or experienced it. He really wished he'd known more Vulcan. Somehow he knew that Spock's testy conversation had entailed vital information. He hated being in the dark.
Spock was watching him, brown eyes guarded and stoic, yet emotions flowed into Jim – apprehension, elation, curiosity – and it was then Jim remembered that Vulcans could share a kiss through their hands, and Jim was not far from Spock's fingertips.
A glass slamming down onto the counter broke their quiet. The Vulcan at the other end of the counter rose up, tumbler now empty and forgotten on the counter as he sauntered away. He moved as regal and ethereal as any Vulcan, yet to the trained eye, the rage and frustration was blatant in every motion he made. He swept past them, muttering under his breath, "Qom'i."
Jim shook his head, clicking his tongue. What was it Bones had likened Vulcans to? Hobgoblins? Pointy-eared hobgoblin, indeed, Jim reckoned.
A blast of half-hearted annoyance crashed into Jim. It hit him like a curve ball, and he fell onto the counter, elbow hitting the wooden surface. Flicking a look Spock's way, Jim tested out his theory by thinking, We need to talk.
When Spock replied by closed his eyes, tilting in his head in concession, Jim peered down the bar and gestured to the bartender for some more drinks. "A scotch for me and a k'vass for the handsome lad to my left," said Jim, smirking as he felt a wave of embarrassment flow through the telepathic link.
Once their orders arrived, Jim took a hearty swig, savoring the taste now that he needed the liquid courage. "All right, Spock," he said, turning around. “Spill it." A sternness accented the words, like an order from a captain to his subordinate, and Jim took another drink when Spock drew in a tormented breath.
"It has been pointed out to me, in a not so ideal fashion, that the nature of our relationship changed without our knowledge," said Spock. Then he stared stormily at his drink.
Jim hummed. "Does this entail...." – a telepathic link, he wanted to ask – "...Vulcan biology?"
Spock near rolled his eyes into the back of his head. Groaning, he stole his k'vass off the counter and drank half of it. "Yes," replied Spock, elaborating no more.
Jim's mouth opened in surprise, then he followed Spock's move and had a drink himself. When Spock took another sip Jim caught the bartender's eye and gestured for another round.
The parallels between this conversation and the one they shared before diverting course to Vulcan to attend Spock's wedding ceremony did not go unnoticed. Jim didn't want to needle Spock in public, but he needed to know what that other Vulcan said, find out why Spock had gotten so upset. And then there was this telepathic link. Running a finger along the glass filled with his liquid courage, Jim shrugged, then spoke through the link, I know that we can think to each other, all right? Stop with the Vulcan secrecy and tell me what's happening already.
Spock shut his eyes, yet somehow still found his drink and downed the entire thing. We've somehow formed a bond. I can only conclude that it was not believing I killed you that ended plak tow, it was our bond.
"How is that possible?" Jim blurted. "Wait, sorry, I forgot to–"
"It is fine," said Spock. "At best, I surmise that the easy friendship we experience did not arise from coincidence. Our souls must be uniquely compatible."
The bartender chose that moment to arrive with another round of scotch and k'vass. Jim and Spock snatched up their beverages and greedily drank, neither wanting to continue this conversation sober.
Jim licked his lips, heart thumping, and tried to guard his thoughts as he corrected Spock's assessment. It'd been no easy friendship on Jim's end, more like silent longing that kept him awake at night with visions of Spock bent over his station on the bridge in a miraculous occasion when no one else but them were there, Spock's trousers hitched on his calves as Jim pounded him into a shuddering mess.
"I understand if you wish to break the bond," said Spock, and suddenly the stream of emotion cut off. Jim bit his lip to stop himself from moaning, the absence of Spock in his mind feeling like a knife wound. He must be shielding, too. Might he be shielding for the same reason Jim was? Jim could hope.
Jim spun around in his seat as much as possible. His knees tangled with Spock's in the cramped space between their stools and the bar. He wrapped his fingers around Spock's wrist, tracing along the soft skin over his pulse point. Spock's shields flickered, anticipation and desire bleeding through. "Unless you want to break it, I'm more than happy with it," said Jim. "You're already in my thoughts twenty-four seven."
They locked eyes for a brief instant before whisking up their drinks and gulping down what remained in the glass. Glowering at the counter, Spock tensed his shoulders and set his free hand on his thigh, fingers curling and scratching on the fabric of his black trousers. Jim watched with a dry mouth, and in the corner of his eye, he saw that Spock was hard. Jim, what I am about to suggest is obscene, but it'd take 8.3 minutes to beam up to the Enterprise, 4.9 minutes to walk to our hotel, and 30 seconds to get to a bathroom stall.
Jim swallowed, eyebrows raised. We'd have to be quiet.
Duly noted, Captain.
Chuckling, Jim tightened his grip on Spock's wrist and tugged him along as he stood up from his barstool. "Put it on the tab for Starfleet," Jim told the bartender, then they broke into the crowd, and tore their way through to the other side, breaking out into a jog once the crowds cleared up enough to allow them to do so.
As an intergalactic tourist destination, Altair VI had a list of various languages on bathroom doors, a massive "WC" written in Standard on the top, as it was the most common language for tourists. Jim admired the laundry list of languages before slipping open the door and zeroing in on the farthest stall from the entrance. Not that it mattered which stall they chose as each were practically separate, individual rooms with floor to ceiling walls.
Jim tipped the stall door open with his shoulder. As they entered the stall, Spock fussed with the lock, securing the door closed. Then Jim released Spock's wrist, and, in an abrupt change of pace, grabbed fistfuls of his shirt and shoved him into a wall. Spock moaned low in the throat.
"Quiet," Jim hissed, then kissed him, silencing Spock with his mouth. Spock tasted like the chocolate in his k'vass, and he beat Jim to the punch by tracing the curve of Jim's bottom lip with his tongue. Jim swallowed down a groan, sucking Spock's lip between his teeth, and pressed a knee against Spock's hardened cock.
Spock moaned again, louder this time, and Jim tore away, eyes flashing with heat. "I said: Quiet," he ordered, sounding more like a superior officer than a bond mate. Spock shut his eyes, biting his lip. Jim tried to memorize the agony written across Spock's countenance as he grappled to hide his arousal, then, feeling wicked, Jim pressed a hand against Spock's cock, leaning his weight onto his palm. Like clockwork, Spock moaned again. Smirking, Jim shook his head.
"Ah ah ah," he spoke into Spock's ear, a shiver racing through Spock. "What did I say? There are consequences, you know, to disobeying your commanding officer."
Jim had no idea where his behavior was coming from as he'd always been more gentle in bed, but Spock bit his lip harder and exhaled a haggard breath, so he didn't question himself. As Jim started unbuckling Spock's belt and fussing with the button and zipper to his trousers, he placed a hand over Spock's mouth, applying little pressure, save for the symbolism. Tugging Spock's trousers off him, Jim found his cock and gripped it. "I'm going to blow you now," he whispered, pressing a kiss on the shell of Spock's ear. "If you make a sound, I'll stop."
Taking his hand off Spock's mouth, he waited until Spock opened his eyes, gazing back at Jim with a hooded, dark stare. Getting down on his knees, Jim focused on Spock's cock, admiring it to the last detail. Green from the blood rushing in it, hard and reaching out to Jim, traces of come already seeping out. Murmuring in approval, Jim cupped Spock's balls, then took his cock into his mouth, closing his eyes and savoring Spock's heat, the sharp taste of him. He gripped Spock's thigh, liking the friction of Spock’s hair against his skin, muscles quivering beneath his ministrations as Spock fought to stay standing.
Jim slowly took Spock in and out of his mouth, and soon went to peer up at Spock. He smiled, finding that Spock had a hand slapped over his mouth and his eyes squeezed shut. Smirking, Jim twirled his tongue around only the head of his cock, and Spock's knees buckled.
Spock groaned, and true to his word, Jim tore away from his cock.
"Jim, I'm going to..."
Immediately Jim veered off to the side, just in time to miss Spock from coming over all his face. Instead his come shot out and fell to the floor just a few centimeters from Jim's knees.
Spock's chest heaved, and though it was obvious how badly he ached to cry out, he kept quiet, just as Jim had instructed. Leaning his forehead against Spock's thigh, Jim chuckled, then the mirth morphed into a hearty laughter that bounced against the walls of the stall. He lowered his shield and sought out Spock’s side of the bond.
In an instant, Spock’s presence encompassed Jim, and Jim shifted, pressing butterfly kisses on Spock’s inner thigh. They stayed there for the longest time, lost in each others' minds and souls, until Jim’s knees ached and Spock’s back nearly gave out. Begrudgingly, they made themselves presentable and began the 4.9 minute long journey to their hotel.