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Chapter Five


Six
2371 - Prime Universe



San Francisco had changed drastically in eighty years. Some buildings had been torn down while new ones were built up. The offworlder people's section, originally grown around the old area of Chinatown, had expanded several more blocks in every direction. Still, there were enough things that had stayed the same that Jim had to keep reminding himself this was the late twenty-fourth century and he couldn't just walk into Starfleet Headquarters and return to work in his office, or go back to his apartment at the end of the day. Both his office and his apartment belonged to someone else now.

Spock had offered him the use of the apartment he and Saavik kept in the city. Jim couldn't bring himself to stay there. Even though he would have the place to himself since both Spock and Saavik were en route and wouldn't arrive for days yet, he couldn't imagine himself staying in an apartment stamped with Spock and someone else. So he stayed with Scotty, who had invited him on return reply to Jim's initial message. He had been ecstatic to see Jim when he'd gotten there. Scotty was a few years older and no longer had any black in his hair or mustache, but was still the same Scotty Jim had known for thirty years.

"I had quite a bit of trouble adjusting meself," Scotty told him the first night when Jim described the strangeness of staying on someone else's Enterprise. "Young Mr. LaForge, he pointed out, and rightly too, that my knowledge was just too out of date to help. But you know me, sir. My life is my engines. I knew I could still have a few things to offer, once I caught meself up a bit. You'll do just as well."

Jim made a noncommittal noise, but privately he felt less sure. At least engineering remained marketable no matter where or when you were. Jim was a starship captain, and had spent his entire adult life in Starfleet. What could he do in this time?

"So you'll be meetin' Mr. Spock here?" Scotty went on a few minutes later. "I'm certainly glad about that. I've only seen him a few times since I woke up, but he never seemed right without you. Sort of lopsided, if you know what I mean."

"Not entirely," Jim replied wryly. He wished Scotty had decided on a different topic. He was nervous enough about his upcoming meeting with Spock.

"Aye," Scotty continued. "Not that he hasn't done well for himself, because he certainly has. And it's very ambitious of him to try and bring the Vulcans and the Romulans back together after thousands of years as separate people. But he always seemed like he was missing something. I'd be glad you were back for his sake, if for no other reason."

"Ah, of course," Jim said. "After all, what other reason could there possibly be? I'm sure you didn't miss my gentle requests for your best work, Mr. Scott."

Scotty laughed. "Tyrant!" he accused cheerfully. "I certainly have not missed your unreasonable demands on my engines, Captain."

Jim let the "Captain" go, as he had the "sir" earlier. This was Scotty. He was no less Jim's friend for still thinking of Jim as his captain.

Days later, he vacillated between meeting Spock at the spaceport or waiting until they could meet in private. His indecision bothered him, but he acknowledged, as he acknowledged many times before in the beginning of his relationship with Spock, his usual decisiveness was easier to maintain when he didn't feel so emotionally vulnerable. Finally he decided to just meet him at the spaceport and have done with it. He didn't imagine their reunion would include tearing each other's clothes off even if they were in private, and he hadn't seen Spock in so long.

He was still nervous, though, as he waited for the passenger ship to dock. He and Spock had exchanged messages since their first conversation, but they hadn't spoken to each other again.

And this time, he'd be able to touch Spock. He felt like their last touch had been both just a few weeks ago, and every moment of those seventy-eight years. Entirely too long a time.

Finally that familiar figure came into view. He still stood tall, his stride fully as long and steady as it had ever been. The only evidence Jim could see of his years was the gray in his hair, the lines on his face, and the depth of experience in his eyes.

They hadn't arranged to meet at any particular place, but Spock had unerringly turned to face him, just as he'd known where to find Spock. The bond might still be broken at the moment, but the sense of each other remained.

When Spock finally stood in front of him, Jim had no idea what to do. Toss off a witty greeting like it'd only been a few weeks since they'd seen each other? Press his fingers to Spock's in the Vulcan gesture of affection? Kiss him on the mouth the human way?

Spock made the first move. He pulled Jim into his arms and held him tight. He didn't even say anything; he just held on, bending his head until his forehead rested against the bare skin of Jim's neck.

Other people walked around them as they stood in the middle of the spaceport, but Spock clearly didn't care, and Jim didn't either. His arms came up around Spock as well, his hands fisting in the back of Spock's robes. He closed his eyes, burying his face in Spock's own neck. He'd taken this for granted, once -- Spock in his arms, warm and breathing and there.

He hoped he'd never take it for granted again. That he would always be able to recognize the miracle of Spock, even when time dulled the memory of the ache he'd lived with before seeing Spock again.

They still said nothing, but Jim wasn't sure they had anything to say. Not now. There would be words later, since one of the reasons Spock had come to Earth in the first place was for a real conversation. But right here, right now, all Jim needed, and he knew Spock needed too, rested in his arms. He never wanted to let go, even when he knew he had to.

There was nothing more perfect than this.

--

Spock's San Francisco apartment had a guest room, which Spock again offered to Jim. Jim once again refused. He didn't think he could bear to go to sleep in the same home as Spock but in separate beds, separate rooms.

He noted with interest the apartment actually had three bedrooms. Spock and Saavik did not typically share a room either. Saavik had the master bedroom, because she stayed on Earth more often, Spock explained, but Spock kept another room for his own use.

Keeping separate rooms was Vulcan custom, Jim knew. Amanda and Sarek had had separate rooms, though Sarek usually stayed with Amanda. And while he and Spock had technically had separate rooms on board the Enterprise, they had never bothered with it on Earth or Vulcan. Even on the ship, Spock kept his quarters as a meditation area and his own space, but lived with Jim in his.

He didn't understand why Spock hesitated. Of course it was polite to talk to Saavik before making any decisions, but to refuse even to speak his intentions? And if he hadn't made a decision yet one way or the other, why not? From what Jim could tell, Spock wanted him more than he wanted Saavik, and he didn't think that was just his jealousy talking.

Finally he just came right out and asked.

"Spock, what's going on? Have you decided what you're going to do?"

Spock didn't try to play dumb. "Without speaking to Saavik--" he began, but Jim cut him off.

"Is what Saavik might say worth so much it will make the difference?" he asked.

"The difficulty does not lie primarily in whether or not Saavik will decide to release me," Spock said. "I cannot, of course, speak with certainty, but I do not believe she will fight to retain our bond should I wish it severed."

"Then what's the difficulty?" Jim asked when Spock's pause went on too long.

Spock closed his eyes a long moment. "The Vulcan marital bond," he began, "is simply not designed to be easily severed. Divorce is not unknown in Vulcan culture, but it is an extreme measure, and one taken only as a last resort. The logic in favor of such an undertaking will have to be quite strong before a Vulcan healer will consider performing a severance."

"And?" Jim prompted. God, sometimes getting information about Vulcan bonds and culture from Spock was like pulling teeth, even after all these years.

"Severance is considered an extreme measure," Spock continued, catching Jim's eyes suddenly, "because the deliberate removal of the bond, even by a healer, frequently damages the minds previously connected by that bond. The death of one party poses less of a danger because the mind compensates for natural, unavoidable severances, such as what resulted from my death and your removal into the Nexus. The mind reacts less well to the artificial nature of the deliberate removal of a bond. There is a possibility that any efforts to remove the bond I have with Saavik, even by an experienced healer, will lead to irreversible brain damage. In some cases the parties have lapsed into comas and never awoken."

Jim frowned. "But your first pon farr--" he protested. "T'Pring severed your bond then, and you both were fine."

"That was a betrothal bond. Until pon farr, which seals the bond, a betrothal link can be severed with minimal risks to the parties. The risk grows with the strength of the bond. Approximately twenty-five percent of mature bonds deliberately severed have caused damage."

A shiver ran across Jim's entire body. He'd never asked, in all their years together, what would happen if their bond were severed. He had never wanted to know.

"Don't do it," leapt immediately to his lips. Spock raised an eyebrow, and Jim shook his head. "I want our bond back," he clarified, "but not if removing your bond with Saavik could hurt you."

"Brain damage is not a certainty," Spock informed him. His eyes had softened, though, from the surprise Jim had seen after his abrupt statement.

"Doesn't matter," Jim replied. "Twenty-five percent doesn't sound like much until it means you would never be you again."

"It is a chance I am willing to take," Spock told him. He reached out and brushed across Jim's cheek with the softness of a butterfly wing.

Jim bit his lip on the protest wanting to come out. He had come to terms years ago with Spock's right to take risks. He just hated watching him do it, even more when it was on his own behalf.

"And Saavik?" he asked, seizing onto the possibility she would refuse.

"Saavik may be unwilling to take such a risk," Spock confirmed. "I cannot make such a decision for her."

Jim nodded. He now stood in the strange position of not knowing which decision he wanted her to make.

He excused himself soon after, and went back to Scotty's. He was tempted to raid Scotty's cache of scotch, but decided against it. Saavik's shuttle would arrive tomorrow, and he needed to be clear-headed.

He still found himself in a nasty mood, though, and the weather didn't help. It was summer in San Francisco, and therefore cold and foggy. When night fell he couldn't even see the stars.

He awoke the next day feeling irritable and less than rested and ended up snapping at Scotty over breakfast. Scotty just looked at him and patted him on the shoulder. "It'll all work out," he said. "You'll see, Jim. That you're even here I take as proof that nothing can keep the two of you apart."

"Thanks," Jim muttered, and dredged up a smile. "Sorry for snapping at you. I'm just a little on edge."

"Aye, I can tell," Scotty said, glancing at him sidelong. "But I don't think you need to be worrying too much. I can't imagine Mr. Spock turning you away, not now he's got you back."

Somehow, that really got to him. He didn't correct Scotty about the real problem, but the words reminded him, and he couldn't believe he'd been such an ass as to not have seen it before. "Scotty..." he said, and waited until Scotty looked at him. "I'm sorry about Nyota."

Scotty looked down at his plate. "Thank you, sir," he replied gruffly. "She -- she lived a good life, and I'm glad for that. But I do miss her, and I regret all the time we never had. You tell Mr. Spock from me that if he squanders this chance, he's a bigger idiot than I thought."

Jim smiled briefly. "I'll tell him," he agreed, and squeezed Scotty's shoulder before getting up to put away the dishes.

--

Jim couldn't help being nervous when Spock finally called and announced Saavik's arrival and readiness for the discussion.

She greeted him with the ta'al when he got there, and he returned it. Her hair now had thick bands of gray in with the brown, and her face had grown lines of its own. Still, she looked like the Saavik he had once known.

"It's good to see you, Saavik," he said, mostly honestly. As conflicted as he was about her marriage to Spock -- he couldn't say he wished they hadn't married, because then Spock would be dead -- seeing someone else he knew made him feel more connected to this new time.

"And you, Captain," she replied. "Spock has missed you very much. Please, come in. Can I get you anything to drink?"

"Thanks, but no. I think I had enough moisture coming over here. The fog is very heavy today. And just Jim is fine."

"It is," she agreed. "I admit fog is not among my favored weather patterns."

The three of them took chairs around the Vulcan-style table not dissimilar to a coffee table.

"Is that enough small talk?" he said, once they had settled. He sank into his chair comfortably, but couldn't really enjoy it. Adrenaline spiked his nerves like during a tough negotiation.

"It is sufficient," Saavik agreed. "I believe I can make this discussion easier. Spock, it is my intention to release you."

Jim let out a deep breath, relaxing back into his chair as the adrenaline drained out of him. He remained slightly on edge, though. What about the possible consequences of breaking the bond?

Still, it reassured him to know that Saavik, like Spock, dismissed the chances of brain damage as low enough to risk.

Spock surveyed her impassively. "I confess I hoped that would be your response," he said. "But may I know your reasons? To break an established bond is a dangerous procedure."

She tilted her head. "I am aware of the risks," she replied. "However, Spock, I have shared your mind for over seven decades. I know your feelings for James Kirk. Could you think me so cruel as to deny you this when against all expectations he has found his way back to you, even given risk to myself?"

"I did not believe you that cruel, no," Spock agreed. "But nor did I wish to take your response for granted."

"Logical," Saavik said, "but unnecessary. Spock, Jim...the two of you are t'hy'la, and also k'hat'n'dlawa. I could not stand between you."

K'hat'n'dlawa -- half of each other's heart and soul. The term was used rarely in modern Vulcan -- too blatantly emotional -- but its disfavor made it no less applicable. Jim had known for a long time that Spock was the other half of him. T'hy'la could be used in the modern sense to simply mean a close friend, though Jim and Spock did not use it that way, but k'hat'n'dlawa had no meanings other than soulmate.

He could not sustain his half-resentment of Saavik, not after this generosity. Still, he asked, though he didn't know whether out of some masochistic impulse or concern for her, "Is this what you want, Saavik? Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful, but..." He shrugged. He couldn't say he'd give Spock up if Saavik really wanted him, because he wouldn't. He knew that. But he disliked the idea of her sacrificing her happiness for his, or undertaking what might be a great risk purely for his sake.

She raised an eyebrow. "Still so human," she told Spock, before returning her gaze to Jim. "Jim, ours is a Vulcan marriage. It is not without caring and affection, but unlike you, I did not marry him out of love. I simply want what is best for him, and shall be content if he should keep me close as family."

"Is that logical?" he couldn't help but ask.

A corner of her mouth twitched up. "I believe it was one of your philosophers who once said that the heart has reasons for which reason knows nothing. Perhaps it is not the most logical decision by the standards of most Vulcans, but Spock is not most Vulcans. Nor am I. It is my hope he will follow the logic of his heart."

"That is my intention," Spock said. He moved closer to Saavik and took her hand, squeezing it gently. "Thank you, Saavik."

"Yes, Saavik," Jim added. "Thank you. You don't know what this means to me."

"I may not know what it means to you, but I know what it means to Spock. You are most welcome, both of you."

"What of our bond?" Spock asked. "We must see a healer to have it severed before I can complete my bond with Jim again."

She nodded. "There are two Vulcan healers on duty at Starfleet Medical at this time," she said. "We may approach one of them. Though, if you would permit, my preference is to retain a familial bond with you. The risk of permanent damage in such a case would be less than two percent."

"You would prefer this?" Spock asked, his surprise evident in the repetition. "I had not wanted to presume..."

She raised an eyebrow. "The clan may be displeased at your actions on Romulus, but I maintain no such disapproval," she told him, like to a slightly slow child. Jim hid his amusement.

With that, the discussion was over. Jim felt almost unnerved, having set himself up for a long, nerve-wracking debate about the pros and cons of breaking the bond. He hadn't expected her to concede the field without even fighting. Spock had made the discussion seem far more daunting than it had turned out -- though Saavik had made the decision much easier.

Though of course, he certainly did not mind the outcome. He looked at Spock to find Spock looking back at him, a familiar light in his eyes.

He felt a phantom throb from his bond, still encased in Counselor Troi's barrier. It was as if the bond knew it would soon be completed again. He closed his eyes and allowed himself to feel the full flood of relief -- and, after he opened his eyes to meet Spock's once more, to feel also a familiar anticipation.

Soon he would once again have Spock in his arms and in his mind. This time he would never let him go.

--

While on the way to Starfleet Medical, Jim couldn't help but wonder why, if Saavik had known she wanted to transform the marital bond into a familial bond, she had waited to meet them in person to tell them. Jim's life would have been much easier the past few weeks if he'd know he would have Spock back in the end. It was probably bad form to ask her, though. She had just given him an immeasurable gift, and he felt crass to nitpick about when she decided to present it. Maybe she hadn't even decided for sure until recently.

He was very interested in how to transform Spock and Saavik's bond, though, and not just so Jim could have his rightful place in Spock's mind back. He didn't know much about this aspect of Vulcan bonds, for all he'd been part of one for nearly half his life.

His and Spock's bond had formed spontaneously during the first five-year mission. Their minds had been drawn to each other enough during their melds in the line of duty to have formed a preliminary bond on their own. Spock had explained it as a kind of basic chemistry -- two compatible elements forming a covalent bond based on proximity. His and Spock's minds were just on similar enough wavelengths -- or of comparable electronegativity, to continue the metaphor -- that they could bond in such a manner. Greater variability in mental affinities meant such a reaction was rarer than with compatible elements, but not unknown.

A Vulcan bond was even something like sharing electrons, though Jim always thought of it more as like a mental Venn diagram. A part of his mind remained clearly Jim, and Spock's mind stayed clearly Spock, but there was overlap, a part of both of their minds very clearly them. The size of that part could expand or contract based on the depth of mental contact, but the overlap always existed.

And it had only been a preliminary link. Spock had usually shielded them against it. Sometimes particularly strong emotion or thoughts got through, and it had been useful to make them more in-tune during dangerous situations. Its utility had been one reason they hadn't dissolved the link, though dissolution would have been easier to do at that stage.

Jim had liked his connection with Spock, and had suspected Spock secretly liked it as well. He'd been glad they blocked it off most of the time, because he had spent enough of those years afraid to scare Spock off with the strength of his emotions anyway. But to have even had something like that -- his good fortune always amazed him. His happiness had only grown deeper once they formally bonded and the link strengthened into a permanent bond. He loved Spock's mind.

He loved not feeling alone in his own.

At Starfleet Medical, Spock and Saavik allowed him to stay with them when they met the Vulcan Healer T'Mar, an older black Vulcan woman, though T'Mar raised an eyebrow at his presence. Her eyebrow rose even higher when Spock calmly informed her of Jim's identity and their intentions.

But she only asked, "Will you need assistance in reforming your bond with James Kirk, Ambassador Spock?"

"Unlikely," Spock replied. "Our preliminary link was natural, and the marriage bond has been broken before and reformed itself upon mental contact. However, I believe it best to remain here as we reform our bond, to ensure your assistance is not needed."

T'Mar nodded, then fitted her hands to Spock's and Saavik's faces. The three of them closed their eyes at the same moment.

Jim knew he wouldn't be able to see anything, not without his own connection to Spock's mind repaired, but he couldn't help wondering what was going on.

He knew very little about Vulcan familial bonds. He knew Vulcans were even more of a telepathic species, particularly with each other, than they liked to explain to outsiders. He knew a network of supportive familial bonds helped keep them sane as they repressed their emotions, to provide a regular outlet for the kind of mental energy they would otherwise translate into emotional outbursts. He had no problems with Spock and Saavik retaining a bond of this kind, but he was curious about how it differed from a marriage bond and how one could turn a marriage bond into a familial one.

The process took about half an hour, which Jim spent watching the minute changes of Spock's face. Sometimes his eyes seemed to move as if he were in REM sleep, while at other times the corners of his mouth would twitch with a smile or a frown. One time he even raised his eyebrow.

Finally they finished. The healer removed her hands from Spock's and Saavik's faces. Saavik spread her fingers in the ta'al both for the healer and for Jim before she left. Spock kept his eyes closed for a moment longer, but when he opened them, his face had already turned towards Jim. Jim moved forward towards him without even consciously deciding to do so.

They didn't even speak as they lined their fingers against each other's meld points. They didn't have to. They took one moment to meet each other's eyes, and then Spock murmured his words and suddenly Jim was--

--Home.

Jim. Jim. It wasn't even a full thought, more like a series of images with a feeling of Jim, with the most welcoming undertone and presence in the universe. A presence so ecstatic Jim could feel Spock smiling in the physical world, as he had once before smiled to see Jim alive and still with him.

Spockspockspockspock, Jim babbled in a burst of images-feelings of his own.

Spock reached for the bond in Jim's mind, still surrounded by Troi's barrier. When he removed the barrier, Jim only had a moment to feel the lashing pain catch him before Spock was there, cradling it in mental hands. He could even feel the bond healing itself at Spock's touch, weaving itself back together with Spock's own end of the bond, the overlap soldering together as both Jim and Spock applied their strength to making sure this bond would not be broken so easily. Finally it was whole again.

Jim rarely looked at his mental representation of their bond, but every time he did, he caught his breath at the sight. His mind translated it as a thick braided cord, metallic and iridescent, gleaming with the thousand different colors of their emotions, memories, and thoughts about each other. The representation was a closed form, so they could still keep their own separate identities, but it still felt warm and alive. Jim couldn't even tell where the break had been anymore.

Spock drew them gently out of the meld, sending a wash of calm when Jim's mind instinctively protested. But when Jim opened his eyes again, he could still feel Spock, and not just because Spock's fingers still rested on his face. Those fingers brushed against his cheek as they lifted, transferring warmth that had nothing to do with the temperature of Spock's skin.

Oh, Spock. Spock, he sent along their bond, feeling almost incandescent at the ability to do that again.

My Jim, Spock responded, the words a mental caress.

Jim could only stand there with Spock, trembling just slightly as emotions continued to overcome him, relief and awe and love all tangled together. Spock's own emotions were even stronger, as a Vulcan's tended to be. He channeled that emotional energy into the warm glow of his mind in Jim's, strengthening the bond even further after its long separation.

"Thank you, Healer T'Mar," Spock said, as Jim regained control. "We appreciate your assistance. Come, Jim. Let us return home."

He nodded his own thanks at the healer, who inclined her head in response. Then he followed Spock from the room, exulting in the buzzing of the renewed bond. He only spared half his attention for watching Spock and where he was going; the rest he reserved for simply feeling himself in Spock's mind and Spock in his.

Parted and never parted, never and always touching and touched...

Yes.

--

They walked quietly back to Spock's apartment. The silence was not precisely comfortable, though, because Jim could feel the shift in the bond's buzzing, the anticipation coiling in his and Spock's stomachs. He wasn't even sure where it originated, but he didn't care.

They arrived at an empty apartment, though he quickly spotted the note Saavik had left saying she was staying with a friend that night and would be seeing them tomorrow for more personal goodbyes before returning to Starbase 1138. Jim could not say he regretted her absence, because after Spock glanced at the note he kissed him.

Jim kissed back instantly, a thrill shuddering across his skin at the feel of Spock's lips moving with his. He reached out to touch Spock's hands, brushing the pads of his fingers against Spock's knuckles, and Spock shivered, his presence in their bond intensifying.

Spock pulled back and raised a hand to cup Jim's face in his palm, drawing it closer so they could rest their foreheads against each other. Sensation sparked in Jim's mind at the touch of their faces.

"Jim," Spock murmured. "Oh, t'hy'la, how I have missed thee. To once more be one with the other half of my soul is to live within joy."

Jim's heart pounded faster, and he felt like the intensity in Spock's eyes should be enough to burn him to ash where he stood. "You poet," he breathed in reply. "I will never stop being glad for the way you see me."

"As if you are not just as articulate in your own way about me." Spock's free hand clutched at Jim's, and with his other hand he moved Jim's face and kissed his forehead, his cheeks, his eyelids, the tip of his nose, the corners of his mouth. Jim kept his eyes closed, took it, and trembled.

This act had not been infused with such tenderness for a long time. Before the Enterprise-B, while they had certainly still enjoyed having sex, it had begun to grow more routine. They still pleased each other, and knew they loved one another, but every touch had not carried emotion on its own.

"Caught me," Jim whispered. "Am I just that transparent?"

Spock's lips curved up minutely. "I regret I must confirm you are."

"Damn. I guess I'm going to have to work on my poker face. You use unfair tactics, you know."

"How else am I to defeat you?"

"I could surrender." He opened his eyes, looked into Spock's again. "I would surrender."

Spock kissed him again, as if he couldn't bear not to. His hand left Jim's face to catch his wrist and play over the bones there, then traced up to play across Jim's knuckles and between his fingers. Jim's hands weren't as sensitive as Spock's, but he could feel Spock's own enjoyment, particularly when their first two fingers crossed in the ozh'esta.

Jim loved when Spock let his hands feel their full sensitivity. Vulcans had so much control over their own bodies they could make their hands no more sensitive than a human's, despite the differences in how Vulcan hands connected to their brains. But when they were together like this, Spock gave up that kind of control, and Jim always exulted in it.

Spock could have kept at this slow pace for longer -- and had, in the past -- but Jim had no patience for that at the moment. He needed more. His hands moved to the clasps of Spock's robes, but Spock stopped him, pulling back from the kiss.

"Not out here," he said. "Come."

And he took Jim's hand and drew him to his bedroom. Jim followed willingly, with an eager hum thrumming through his heart.

Once they stood by Spock's bed, Spock allowed Jim to shove his robes off his shoulders, let them pool on the ground by his feet. He worked on Jim's vest as Jim pulled his tunic over his head, and Jim was already working on the fasteners to Spock's pants by the time Spock managed to pull Jim's shirt off.

Spock's hands caught Jim's arms, then moved up and down them in a warm caress. "You do not need to hurry so," he murmured in Jim's ear. "I am here."

Jim shook his head. "I just -- I need to touch you," he murmured. He got Spock's pants open, and ran his hands down between Spock's hips and the material to loosen them. "We have time for slow later. I really need you now, Spock."

Spock kissed his left eyebrow. "Yes," he said, his voice low in a delicious rumble of sound; Jim shivered. "Have me, k'diwa. I am yours."

"Always," Jim promised, and Spock echoed. He ran his hands up and down Spock's sides again, moved them back to touch the curves of Spock's ass.

Spock -- Spock was familiar to him, yet almost new. He had to explore this older version, to see what had changed and what hadn't.

The thick hair on Spock's chest was grayer now, but still soft, Jim discovered as he nuzzled into it. He'd grown thinner, too. In his middle years he'd had more flesh cushioning the muscle, but he'd lost that now. His angles jutted almost as sharply as they had when Jim had first met him, though still far off from how he'd been after his attempt at Kolinahr, when they'd first bonded.

His skin, too, hung looser over the joints, getting thinner as well. Still, when Spock hissed as Jim kissed the pulse point in his left wrist and traced the line of his vein up to his elbow, Jim could tell it was not from pain.

He tasted the same -- just a hint of copper and lack of salt changing the subtle taste of his skin. Still, Jim decided to press open-mouthed kissed up the other arm and along his collarbone and neck just to make sure. He laved the pulse point above Spock's carotid artery, then sucked on it briefly. It took less time than it once had to raise a bruise on that perfect skin.

Spock's hands ran through his hair, across his neck, down his upper back. His bare hips rose up to meet Jim's still-clothed ones as Jim once more pressed kisses to his mouth, moving away to brush against other parts of Spock's face whenever Spock's tongue tried to tangle with his.

Finally Spock grasped his face and held him still. "You torment me," he growled, and Jim shivered happily. He loved when he could make Spock growl.

"Of course," Jim replied, but he followed it with a long kiss, inviting Spock's tongue into his mouth, where Spock explored him with single-minded purpose. He could feel nothing from Spock's mind but concentration on reducing Jim to a being of pure sensation on top of him.

After several moments, he broke the kiss to pant against Spock's neck, and Spock's hands returned to caressing his back before they traveled down to meet the fabric at his waist. He grunted at the contact, and his hands came around to tear at the fastenings.

Jim started to undo his own pants when Spock knocked his hands away and took over the task. He peeled them down far enough for Jim to struggle the rest of his way free and kicked them off the bed. Spock caressed Jim's cock through his underwear, and Jim hissed at the sensation of cloth against sensitive flesh. Finally Spock pulled Jim's underwear down and tossed them away himself. Jim found that so sexy he moved up to lie bodily on top of Spock, lining them up from feet to crown so Jim could nuzzle into Spock's jaw. Their naked cocks came into contact, and both moaned at the sensation of delicious warm friction.

Jim used every trick he knew to get Spock hard as quickly as he could. Another time he would draw their loving out further, but now he needed to feel as connected to Spock as he could possibly be. He sucked on Spock's fingers, swirling his tongue around and between them until Spock was gasping beneath him. He rolled and pinched Spock's nipples until Spock hissed at each touch to the taut buds. He kneaded the sensitive small of Spock's back, alternating firm strokes with gentle caresses.

And Spock reciprocated every touch, driving Jim wild as one hand plucked at Jim's own nipples and another reached down to coax his cock into further hardness. Spock rubbed their whole bodies against each other until the entire front of Jim's body where they touched tingled mercilessly. The bond between them created a feedback loop that build pleasure upon pleasure exponentially.

But it was not enough. Jim pulled back just far enough to look into Spock's eyes, the brown a thinner ring surrounding dark pupils. Spock looked back into his, which he knew had to be just as dilated, then nodded. Apparently his thoughts were still ordered enough for Spock to get a coherent picture of what he wanted.

Spock slid an arm around him, keeping him held close, then shifted onto his side enough to reach out to one of the drawers in his bedside table. He fumbled only slightly in pulling out a tube of lubricant, pulling it closer to look at the expiration date with unfocused eyes. It must have been all right, though, because he pushed it into Jim's hands.

Jim couldn't help a snort of laughter. "I thought it'd been a few years since you've been on Earth," he teased. "You still keep lube here?"

Spock gave him a look that said he would be rolling his eyes if they weren't in the middle of something important. "It is water-based, and lasts longer," he said flatly. "And Vulcan males, just as human males, emit less seminal fluid as we age. Are you going to continue to comment on my masturbatory habits, or are you going to penetrate me?"

Jim's eyes nearly crossed, and he let out a groaning laugh, at Spock's version of dirty talk. God, something so clinical shouldn't be so sexy. "Can't I do both?" he gasped, his hand closing on the tube before he rolled off Spock, giving him room to spread his legs before moving in between them.

"No. You may pick one, but not both--!" Spock's jaw snapped shut, almost cutting off his last word, as Jim slid a lubricated finger along the outside of his entrance. He blessed Spock's habit of keeping himself clean, which made this much simpler. Spock could have told his body to loosen itself as well, but they both enjoyed the process of stretching him.

"That's too bad," Jim said, slipping his finger further in and continuing to move it around. "Because do you know what the thought of you masturbating does to me?"

Spock's rim loosened under the ministrations of Jim's finger, and further when he worked another in. "Tell me?" he asked.

"I thought you wanted one or the other," Jim teased, closing his eyes at the feel of Spock clenching around him, the walls of his passage warm and smooth.

"Jim!"

Jim rested his head against Spock's knee, then turned his face to press a kiss into it as he scissored his fingers. "You're always so in control," he said, his voice raspy. "Just the idea of you needing relief, not being able or willing to meditate it away, needing to touch yourself -- God. It gets to me, Spock."

Spock tossed his head back. "More," he demanded. "It -- it is illogical to ignore the body's needs. We are as much of the body as of the mind."

"Philosophy during sex. Only you, Spock." Jim rewarded him for being so distinctly himself by leaning forward and swallowing his cock down in one motion and sucking hard before moving off again. Spock let out a shout of shocked pleasure.

But Spock was right, absolutely right. To ignore the body's needs would be illogical, and they were creatures of both mind and body. Jim's mind and body both needed Spock.

Spock must have caught the thought, because he groaned, "Yes. Yes, Jim, talukh-veh, now."

Spock was still tight around Jim's fingers, but he enjoyed being able to feel Jim. Jim pulled his fingers out, quickly spread the lube around his cock, and slid in, the ridge quickly sliding past the loosened opening to Spock's body. Spock let out a hitched moan as Jim moved forward, and Jim closed his eyes, fighting for enough control not to lose himself then and there.

A tug on the bond in his mind made him open his eyes to look into Spock's, and he froze, still buried inside him. He could...see so much in Spock's eyes right then. So much of the love and the joy and the years of pain and grief and hopelessness and commitment to an uncaring duty. The emotions were all right there on the surface, in Spock's mind as much as in his eyes. Jim wondered what Spock read in his.

But it didn't matter. Jim began to move, gliding in and out in long, slow strokes. More than once his thoughts stuttered and dissipated before he regained them.

Those years were gone, dead. The two of them were here, right here, together, one. Always one.

Jim needed this. He sped up, fitted a hand around Spock's cock to pump in time with the rhythm of his hips. He needed this so much, the feel of Spock around him, part of him. Himself drawn into Spock in so many different ways.

He could forget himself here, and did. He wasn't James Kirk, former captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise thrust eighty years into the future with no idea what to do next. He wasn't even Jim, a man with a deep sense of his own identity.

He existed purely in the now, with only we/us/JimSpock/together/One.

Jim couldn't tell how long he'd been inside Spock. The only thing that mattered was staying there. Every part of Spock's mind connected to Jim's emphatically agreed.

Spock's climax began first, his body stiffening beneath Jim's. Jim kept moving through it, but at the end, Spock's mind in ecstasy pulled at Jim's, and he willingly fell off the edge to join Spock in the velvet darkness.

Spock came back to consciousness before Jim, who woke up to feel long fingers carding through his hair. His cock, softened after his intense climax, still remained inside Spock, but Jim didn't feel up to levering himself off yet. He didn't want to leave Spock.

He never wanted to leave Spock. Everything made sense like this, held within Spock's arms and his body.

He stayed because he couldn't leave, and Spock didn't make him, though he would be growing uncomfortable soon. Jim started falling into a proper sleep with his head pillowed on Spock's chest, Spock's fingers in his hair, his hand low on Spock's abdomen feeling the birdlike thrum of his heart, and Spock's mind within his, whispering wordless croons of comfort, love, and peace.

Jim had not been entirely correct days ago when he first met Spock at the spaceport and held him close.

This -- this was true perfection.

--

Chapter Seven
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