What is, is.
Spock spends an eternity in this moment. He can't believe the evidence of his own eyes, not when they've lied so egregiously. Even under the circumstances, he's surprised that his logic was so impaired. That he was fooled by something as simple as a stilled pulse, when Jim's mind remained, just out of reach.
But, the others were fooled by it, too. It needed only to look convincing, and Spock's grief was a catalyst for that.
"In a pig's eye."
The words echo, but he doesn't acknowledge them, or ponder their meaning as much as he should. Instead, he focuses on the hand on his arm, the shoulder pressed against his. Walking in step, lead away with uncertain purpose.
All too soon, the hand releases him.
They're standing in his quarters. Jim watches him expectantly.
"I..." He raises his head. Attempts to taste the residue of the words on the air, now forgotten.
Jim repeats the question.
"Are you feeling- better now?"
For so many reasons, Spock is grateful for the hesitation.
"Yes." He whispers.
It's not really a lie.
A nod. Curt. A spin of heels. A step forward. A-
"- Unless there's anything else, Mr Spock?"
Dark eyes watch him. He almost wonders if he's being teased.
And yet- what happened on the planet- happened.
Kirk is frozen, looking back. Spock is still, looking forwards. Arms trapped, firmly, at their sides, because, otherwise, they would surely reach for one another.
He need only say the word, and Kirk will stay.
"No, nothing else," Spock lies.
Another step. Three steps from the door.
He will watch him go.
"Yes, Spock?" A twinkle.
Definitely teasing. But, somehow, not uninviting.
He can't say it, but Jim understands. He turns back to face him. Raises his hand. Spock erupts.
His heart pounds, as if the fever has returned. His eyes widen, but Kirk reassures him, without words, that it's over; and Spock is almost disappointed. But, the realisation is intoxicating, somehow, and he closes the distance between them once more.
"It's OK." He presses his palm to Spock's face. He leans into it, that one, radiating patch of warmth, an imitation of the most intimate touch: the melding of minds. And yet, the brush of his mind never comes; only the slow trace of fingers. If Spock concentrates, Jim's mind is there, but he feels it with no greater intensity than he normally does-
Jim's arm drops in surprise.
'I suppose we should have noticed it sooner,' he thinks, as they reach joint realisation.
'Indeed. I believe the events on Vulcan-' somehow, it is difficult to maintain mental conversation while being kissed on the mouth '- must have made it appear."
Jim raises an eyebrow, but he can feel his excitement. Then, his eyelashes flutter, and they're so very close to his own. He closes his eyes, and wonders how long it would have taken them to discover had he allowed the captain to leave his quarters. What would have alerted them that the bond had formed? What stray thought-?
'Spock,' Jim chides, as he pushes him onto the bed. 'You're missing all my moves."
Spock opens his eyes, and sees much more of his bondmate than before.
With the slightest smirk, he leans forward, and says, "Kaiidth."