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Title: Moonlight and Roses
Author: Deirdre Riordan, originally under the penname Ketsu Rei.
Codes: TOS, K/S, NC-17, AU
Summary: Challenge. Spock is agonizing over going to Gol - purging all emotions - or telling Kirk the truth. But this time, instead of going off to go through the Kolinahr, he stays with Kirk and tells him that he loves him. What happens next?

Disclaimer: All things Trek belong to Paramount and not to me. I'm not making any money off of this and no infringement is intended. Anyway, I'm too poor to pay up even if you do sue me. Apologies for inaccurate San Francisco geography and made-up Andorian culture. Also for screwing with the timeline back when I didn't know any better.

Notes: Quotes from Mechthild von Magdeburg come from The Flowing Light of the Godhead. Translations are copyright 1998 by Frank Tobin.
"Love Songs" copyright 1995 by Fleming and John, who rock my world.
There's also a line in here shamelessly stolen from My So-Called Life. You get a cookie if you find it.
Millions of hot Vulcan kisses to Daisy, my long-suffering editor (wherever she may be).

This appears pretty much exactly as published in SBS in 2002. There was some text accidentally omitted when it was originally published. I've restored it as best I could from a handwritten copy I managed to dig up. The only significant change from the original version is the ending, which I was never quite happy with. I've included both, just in case I'm wrong and the new one winds up being worse.

Feedback very much appreciated. Send to deirdre.riordan @ gmail.com (remove spaces).

Moonlight and Roses

His eyes into my eyes,
His heart into my heart,
His soul into my soul
Untiringly enclosed.
---Mechthild von Magdeburg

The vast redness of Gol loomed in Spock's mind, harsh and dry. As arid and devoid of emotion as the Kolinahr initiates. Months ago, he had made the decision to undergo the Kolinahr. Now the time was upon him. The Enterprise's five-year mission had come to an end. The ship would reach earth in two solar days. He thought of Gol with some resignation. But there was something else too. Apprehension. Was he...afraid? Five years ago he would have said he was incapable of fear because he was incapable of emotion, but Jim Kirk had changed all that, had shown him what it was to feel. Really truly feel. And he hated himself for being capable of that. Hated himself for not being able to squelch the emotions awakened in him by his friend and captain. Much as he wanted to resent Kirk for it, he could only find abiding tenderness and love. And desire, though perhaps he did not know it as such. He did not know what to do with these feelings, but he knew that he in some way liked having them. He hated that he liked having them, but he could at least control them. Then Kirk had come along and undone all his work, almost from the very first. He could not fight it alone and succeed. The Kolinahr was the only answer to his problem.

Never again to have another emotion. Never to feel anything again. Never again to look on Kirk and feel his heart flutter. Never again to look on Kirk, period. Was that the only reason he was going? To hide from a one-sided love that could surely never be reciprocated? How did he know it couldn't? Logic. Of course. He had never, in all the years he'd known Kirk, seen him be attracted to another man. Never seen any sign of attraction to him, certainly not. Kirk saw him as a friend, nothing more. Kirk's casual touches, their private jokes, his almost unconditional acceptance of everything that Spock was--these were all just marks of close human friendship. Spock was immensely grateful for Kirk's friendship. It showed him a world of loneliness he never knew he'd been living in, and took him out of it.

He remembered Kirk's first day aboard the Enterprise. Such a strange day that had been. A new Captain, and new crew members along with him. And Spock, shutting himself off to hide his feelings of vulnerability, the knowledge that he was again on untried ground.

Kirk had smiled that devastating smile as he stepped off the transporter, and that was nearly the end of Spock then and there. "Permission to come aboard?" A voice like silk, eyes sparkling at him.

Spock had fought hard to control himself. "Permission granted, Captain." It was the beginning of a much longer and harder fight.

Kirk had opened up to him immediately, accepting him, sharing his stories and thoughts, showing him his books, encouraging him to read them. Beating him at chess. He was so astonished at the end of their first chess game that he could barely speak. The Captain's illogical moves had undone him completely. And this came to be the case in more than just chess. By the time Spock fully realised what was happening to him, it was too late to stop it.

So many times, Kirk had cared when no one else had. Allowed him his logic but did not judge him when the occasional emotion slipped. Confided in him. Listened to the few confidences Spock would give him. And the Kalifee. Jim had been ready to die to save his life. So many times, Jim had risked himself and the ship for his sake. And now, would he voluntarily throw all of that away and go back to the loneliness?

He was jolted from his reverie by his door chime. He attempted to compose himself, knowing fully well who it was and why he was there. "Come."

The Captain stormed in, his eyes flaming green with anger. "Just what the hell is this, Spock?" he fumed, slamming Spock's resignation request down on the desk.

"It is my request for resignation from StarFleet, Captain."

"No shit, Spock, I know that." Kirk never cursed unless he was truly angry. "But why?"

"It is my wish..." Spock faltered for a moment. "It is my wish to return to Vulcan and undergo the Kolinahr discipline."

"But Spock, *why*? I was going to recommend you for the captaincy! You've got a brilliant career ahead of you! Why throw all that away to go...meditate in the desert for the rest of your life?" Whatever measure of calmness Kirk had entered the room with, it was now lost as he paced angrily, throwing up his hands.

"As you know, I have no desire to command. And I increasingly find that...my duties in StarFleet are not...as fulfilling as I would like."

That stopped Kirk dead. He stopped pacing and sat on Spock's desk. "Spock," his voice was softer now, "You're not happy?"

"Happiness is a foreign concept to Vulcans. But I do find that there is something missing, something I would wish to find." *you in my arms, in my mind, that is what is missing,* he wanted to say, but didn't.

"Spock... I am your friend. I'll always be your friend, no matter what you decide to do with your life, and I have no right to judge you. But..." he seemed to be searching for words. "At least think about it some more. If nothing else, for the good of the Fleet. You're...an outstanding officer, Mr. Spock. It would be a shame if...if the Fleet had to lose you." Kirk stood up, all expression now gone from his face. "Just...think about it. I won't sign the request or do anything with it until a week from now. Please think about it."

Kirk left without letting Spock say anything else. Spock sighed. It was as he had feared. Kirk had given no indication that he wanted Spock to stay in StarFleet for any purpose other than his career and the good of the Fleet. And to recommend him for the captaincy… that meant that he did not even want to work by his side. Still, some of his reactions had been strange.... Most probably the stress of the end of the mission. Nonetheless, Spock was now even more unsettled and uncertain of what course of action to take. Less resolved about Gol than he had been in weeks. Not that his resolve had been that strong to go. He would have laid down and died, had Kirk asked him to. But to stay in StarFleet and command a ship? With no hope of even seeing him? That was too much to bear. Kirk had said none of the things Spock had hoped he would. Nothing to signal that he even wanted him around. Only a very strong signal that he did not want him to go into Gol, despite the fact that Spock was sure Kirk did not know the implications.

"Dammit," James Kirk said under his breath as the door to Spock's quarters closed behind him. "Dammit dammit dammit dammit."

*Jim, you idiot. Why couldn't you say it? What's all this ‘good of the fleet' and 'outstanding officer' bullshit? You moron, he probably thinks you don't give two shits about him. Why the hell couldn't you tell him the truth, that you're lost without him! You know he doesn't care about a career! What was that captaincy shit? Are you out of your fucking mind? Christ, you might lose your ship for good, and now you've lost Spock!*

He entered his quarters and began to bang his head on his desk. "Stupid stupid stupid!"

*No, goddammit, no! I'll stay out of the damn admiralty if it kills me! I'll GET my ship back! If I can't have Spock, I have to have SOMEthing!*

Maybe he could convince him to stay if he told the truth. Maybe.

Not likely. He'd probably be horrified.

"Computer, bring up all information on the Vulcan Kolinahr discipline." He knew of it, but not much else. Might as well know what he was up against.

He went pale when he read the screen.

Spock was alarmed by the banging sounds from next door, but he assumed that the Captain must be very angry. Why? For throwing away a career he did not want? A career in StarFleet meant nothing to him if he could not be at Jim's side. He didn't want a StarFleet career or anything else that didn't involve Jim Kirk, he realised. The idea of the Kolinahr was ridiculous. His love and loyalty toward Jim were so deeply ingrained in him that he was sure he could not purge them. Even the idea of only seeing him once every year or even two or three suddenly seemed far preferable to never. Any situation but the Kolinahr still offered some small chance for them. If, at the very least, he could make Jim understand that he was content to be his second in command, on whatever basis, he could be content to continue as before and hide his love. But he would have given anything for the mission to go on forever. It made him sick to think of all the times that one of them had almost died without Spock having told the truth of his feelings.

No. No more hiding. He had to tell Jim the truth. Whatever the consequences. He couldn't calculate any odds for something like this. He just had to try.

The reception. Spock felt uncomfortable in his stiff dress uniform. Now that he had made his resolution, he found that he was strangely uneasy around the captain. It was not merely his feelings. He had long ago become resigned to those. It was perhaps the anticipation of what he was going to tell him, perhaps the fear of being rejected. He would have to plan it carefully. He would have to feel him out, and somehow avoid a declaration if one seemed unwelcome, while still telling him that he wished to remain at his side. Whatever it took. He did not think he could bear not to see him every day, in whatever capacity he could.

The reception hall was a whirlwind of activity. Full of top StarFleet brass, dignitaries, politicians, media…. it seemed as though every high-profile person in the quadrant was there. Spock hated it. All he wanted was to be alone with Jim, so he could get this over with and seal his fate, whatever it might be. At first he had thought that if Jim rejected him as a lover, he would go to Gol anyway, but now he was willing to stay at any price.

"Leave it to Komack the PR whore to turn the end of our mission into some kind of inaugural ball," Kirk sighed as they entered the reception hall. Spock was gratified that Kirk seemed to want to be there as little as he did. He shot a knowing grin at Spock. "We'll make it through somehow, Mr. Spock. I know how you hate these things."

"I prescribe extreme intoxication," came McCoy's voice from behind them.

"I thought as much, Bones," Kirk said, clapping the doctor on the shoulder. "Well, gentlemen, shall we?"

The three men entered the throng of people in a silent pact to get through it together. Kirk, of course, was immediately monopolised by admiral after admiral, reporter after reporter, woman after woman. Spock inwardly cringed at the seemingly endless flow of attractive women making a beeline for the Captain. How could he compete with that? Spock talked with more than a few people himself, but Kirk was the man of the hour. He lost sight of him briefly, but eventually spotted him near the wall, trapped by a very young woman with a mane of black hair who was gesturing wildly and giggling. He wondered how Kirk had managed to get pulled so far across the room. Kirk caught sight of Spock and shot him a look that clearly said "save me."

Spock excused himself from the group of not-very-stimulating scientists with whom he had been halfheartedly conversing. He stopped and picked up two glasses of champagne and headed over to where Kirk was.

"Excuse me, Captain," Spock said, handing him a glass.

"Ah, Mr. Spock! I was just talking about you. This is Bridget, Admiral Stone's daughter. Bridget, this is my first officer, Mr. Spock."

On closer inspection, Spock realised that the girl could not have been older than sixteen or seventeen. He wondered how many teenage girls had Kirk as an object of obsession. "Pleased to meet you, Bridget." This Terran nicety still did not quite make sense to him, but he now used it without thinking. "You will forgive the intrusion, Captain, but Dr. McCoy wishes to speak with you."

"Of course. Excuse me, Bridget." He shot the girl what Uhura called his 'heartbreaker grin' and escaped with Spock.

"Thanks, Spock," he said when they were out of earshot, "I thought that crazy girl was about to jump me. It's kind of unnerving to realise you're a teenybopper fantasy." He downed his champagne and grabbed another glass from the table. He silently toasted Spock over the rim of his glass.

Spock could have burned up with longing from those eyes. His dress uniform brought out the green in them. They smoldered from behind dark fringes and smiled only at him. That look was only for him. Maybe there was hope.

They had managed to obscure themselves behind a column, concealing them from the worst part of the traffic in the room. "You're awfully quiet today, Spock. Bones and I have both said ten thousand illogical things and you didn't say a word. Is something wrong?"

"No, I am quite well."

Kirk looked unconvinced. "Really, Spock. I think I know you well enough to know something is bothering you." Something changed in his face, softened. "Don't tell me you're sad. This isn't the end, Spock, not for me. I'm not going to let them kick me upstairs."

Those words at once elated and pained Spock. It wasn't the end, he said. That means he wants me with him too, at least in command with him, or does it? No, but... "Kick you upstairs, sir?"

"Oh, you haven't heard. They're trying to railroad me into a promotion." His expression turned sour. "A desk job. I'm not made for that, Spock, I couldn't take it. I'm a starship captain. You just watch. After the refit, I'm going to get her back. If I have to threaten them with resignation, I'll get her back." Something even darker came over his face. "It's really too bad I won't get you back," he said, almost under his breath.

"There was something I was meaning to--"

Spock was cut off by the appearance of Admiral Komack. "Kirk, the dancing's about to start. As the returning hero, you've got to lead it." He sauntered off.

Kirk rolled his eyes and motioned for Spock to follow him. Jim and Uhura opened the dance, and everyone else joined in after a few bars. Spock did not. He just watched Kirk intently, the easy way he held the woman in his arms and talked and laughed with her as they danced. Would Jim ever hold him that way? He would gladly put aside his aversions to dancing if it meant being in Jim's arms. No one much cared any more about the gender of their dance partners. On some Federation planets, it was often the case that only females or only males danced at all, and this custom had been gradually transformed and integrated into Terran society.

Spock was left alone for some time. Jim was snapped up by partner after partner. They all seemed to be women. Would he even dance with a man? He knew Kirk to be sometimes rather conservative when it came to tradition. His question was soon answered, but not in the way that Spock had hoped. He watched as Kirk nervously accepted a dance with a male Deltan commander. He noted with slight relief that the Deltan looked old enough to be able to control his pheromones, but he also knew that they could not be completely stopped.

He had thought that his own illogic where Jim was concerned had finally failed to surprise him, but he found himself astounded once again when he found he wanted nothing more at that moment than to be in the Deltan's position: in Jim's arms. He who despised dancing. If this were Vulcan he would almost have gone and claimed Kirk. But this was not Vulcan. So he only watched, the longing within him increasing by leaps and bounds every second he watched. He silently cursed his social awkwardness, his widely known aversion to being touched. Jim sometimes touched him anyway, either out of forgetfulness or defiance--it couldn't be desire, no--but would he ever hold him like that? Would he ever even casually embrace him as he sometimes did to his human friends? As his longing grew, so did his hopelessness as he realised he had spent too much time setting himself up to everyone as untouchable. Would that he could undo it!

Kirk turned on the floor with the Deltan. They seemed to be well-suited as dance partners. He did not look the least bit uncomfortable. Spock realised he was not the only person watching intently. Several couples had stopped dancing to watch Kirk and the Deltan, so apparent was the chemistry between them. He told himself it was merely the Deltan's pheromones, hoped against hope--*Vulcans do not hope*--that that was all it was. And then he came to a darker realisation. Everyone in the immediate vicinity probably assumed this was a beginning of a seduction, according to Kirk's reputation. And Spock was powerless to stop it. He stood glued to the floor, paralysed by longing and jealousy, a throbbing mass of illogical emotions.

Kirk executed an elegant turn, spinning the Deltan out to the end of his arm. He was now facing straight at Spock, who was startled by the look on his captain's face. Eyes half-closed, faintly smiling, he seemed intoxicated by desire. Something made him look up, and he caught Spock staring at him. This had happened before. Normally Spock would have dropped his eyes, but this time he held Jim's gaze for a long, painful moment. Kirk smiled brightly--was that for him or the Deltan?--and turned away to finish the dance.

The music ended. Applause. Kirk and the Deltan parted. The Deltan said something to Kirk. From his gestures it appeared he was asking him to dance again. Kirk was shaking his head apologetically and faintly gesturing in Spock's general direction. But then he did not come toward Spock. He went and said something to the bandleader. Anyone but Spock would have sworn he sighed when he returned to staring into his glass. Then he smelled a familiar scent and looked up. Jim was standing in front of him now, wearing the same smile he'd shot him from the dance floor.

He held out his hand. "Dance with me, Spock?"

Spock could find no words, neither of protest nor of agreement, so he just took the proffered hand and let Kirk lead him out onto the floor. As the music started, Spock suddenly realised what Kirk had said to the bandleader. The band was playing an old-fashioned Irish reel, one that Spock loved. *He must have known, it must have been on purpose...but perhaps he thinks I do not know how to dance, since I never do it. And he knows I know how to dance to this song.  But that has to mean he wanted to dance with me.... No, of course he did, he asked me...but that could have been to get away from the Deltan.... Kroykah! You got what you wanted. Enjoy it.*

And they danced, never once breaking eye contact through all the vigorous steps. For the entire reel, there was only one thing in Spock's world and that was Jim. He wondered if people would assume something about them. He found himself almost wishing they would. He knew there were rumours, but.... He saw joy in Jim's eyes when he looked into them, but also something like regret or sadness. Spock was reluctant to allow himself to believe that either of these were for him. He wished to bring this man joy every day of his life, if he would only let him.

The dance ended too soon. When Spock finally broke Jim's gaze he saw that everyone was applauding them. Was it their performance? Or was it Spock for finally dancing? Or was it Kirk for having the gall to ask him? Spock couldn't be sure. Perhaps it was all three.

Kirk smiled at him and winked. Spock felt something within him tremble.

Jim threw himself down in a chair. "Damn, Spock, for someone who 'doesn't dance,' you're pretty hard to keep up with! What else don't you do?" Jim laughed, devastating him again. "On second thought, don't answer that."

Spock found that all he wanted to do was dance with Jim again. Did he dare ask? Would it be improper? Suddenly he had no control over himself, felt his lips moving, couldn't stop the words from forming. "Would you wish to dance again?"

Kirk gave him a strange look. "I thought you didn't like dancing."

"I find it quite agreeable when there is a suitable partner to be had, which is rare among humans."

"Am I a suitable partner?" Spock detected more than a hint of teasing. Would that he were not speaking merely of dancing.

"Quite suitable indeed. Your ability is close to my own. And I know you; I could not dance with a stranger. The drain on my mind would far exceed the enjoyment of the dancing."

"Oh, of course, the touching! I didn't even think of that. You'd have to shield your partner's thoughts to keep from going crazy."

"I would not go *crazy*, but you are essentially correct. There is no such problem with you, since I have taught you to shield tolerably well over the years and you have a strong mind to begin with. What small amount does come through either can be blocked with very little effort on my part, or does not trouble me because I am...accustomed to your mind."

Spock thought he detected the slight hint of a blush on Kirk's face, but it could have been all the champagne.

"So you could really dance with anybody who has the proper mental training. Assuming he could keep up with you, that is," Kirk said, grinning again.

"Affirmative, although--"

A woman Spock did not recognise interrupted them. He watched, fascinated, as the colour drained from Jim's face.

"Carol," he said with a tone of astonishment. "What are you doing here?"

"Good to see you too, Jim." The woman was not unattractive, but seemed a bit removed from the usual type of woman Kirk consorted with. Older.

"I didn't mean it that way… You're just about the last person I expected to see here tonight, that's all."

"I'm here to claim that dance you promised me ten years ago."

Spock felt a horrible sense of foreboding, and also that he was not meant to witness this reunion.

"I'm afraid I've already promised my next dance, but maybe--"

Spock cut him off. "Go ahead, Captain. It seems that her claim was in place long before mine." He struggled to hold down his...anger? Jealousy? He did not know. One of Kirk's thousands of long-lost lovers, he presumed, suppressing a sigh. Would he ever have a chance? Had he ever?

He saw Kirk's eyes widen. "Did you bring--"

The woman shook her head, wearing a less pleasant expression now. "No, Jim, and I never will. Come on now, dance with me. Don't break two promises in one night." Obviously there was much more here than Spock was aware of, and that troubled him.

Wearing the look of a man with no way out, Jim silently took the floor with Carol.

Spock did not take his eyes off them. He felt almost relieved at how uncomfortable Jim looked with her, avoiding her eyes, holding her stiffly. Maybe at least this one was not competition. But it unsettled him nonetheless, to see that there was obviously something very dark in Jim's past, something involving this woman, that Jim had not told him about.

When the dance was over, Jim escaped almost angrily and came back over to Spock.

"Of all the..." he was muttering under his breath.

"Who was that, Jim? She seems to trouble you." He could not keep himself from asking, but at least he could pass it off as concern. Not that he wasn't concerned. It just wasn't his primary feeling.

"I'll...tell you later. Not here."

"Very well."

Jim smiled with what looked like great effort. "How about that dance now, Spock? I could use a more… suitable partner."

Spock acquiesced and Kirk led him onto the dance floor once again. It was a slow, lilting waltz this time. In silent agreement, Kirk let Spock lead. Spock couldn't help showing off a little to prove how much more suitable a partner he was. He should have hated this man for having the power to shatter his control at every turn, but he could not. Because it was the very opposite of hate that undid him constantly. He wasn't sure to whom he was showing off--perhaps Jim, perhaps Carol, perhaps everyone. But he put Jim through complicated twists and turns and dips, revelling in the cool human hands resting on his shoulders. On Vulcan this dance would have been highly improper, he realised as he caught Jim's hand coming out of a turn. For once he cared nothing for Vulcan propriety. He was intoxicated with the eyes and the scent of the beautiful golden-haired man twirling at his fingertips, now gazing up at him with a genuine smile. *Yes, I can make him smile.*

The song ended, again too soon. To Spock's surprise, though, Kirk made no indication of moving away from him. Spock felt a current of excitement run through him when he heard the opening notes of a traditional Andorian Tiiphaad'Vang. It was an old ritual dance that had come into vogue when the Andorians entered the Federation. It involved intricate foot movements and a lot of body contact. Spock willed his body to behave as he took Jim in his arms. Willed it not to betray everything he felt for this man in the middle of a crowded room. If a waltz on Vulcan would have been improper, the Tiiphad'Vang would have been considered obscene. The sensation of Jim's body undulating against his was exquisite.

Fragments of thoughts came at him. Perhaps Jim's shields were not good enough to hold with this much contact. He could have blocked the thoughts. Instead he welcomed them. He wanted to be forever inside that mind too much to block out anything it offered him.

//oh god...//
//where did he...//
//don't take..//
A stream of silver laughter.

And this time there was no question of what had caused them. *I must not conclude that his feelings match my own. It is quite probable that he may enjoy dancing with me, but it is illogical to assume anything more.* No matter how much he might want to.

Spock allowed himself to become completely lost in Jim, enveloped in his scent and his touch and the light whisper of his thoughts.

When the dance ended, they parted reluctantly, their arms lingering around each other for a few seconds longer than most of the other couples. The look in Jim's eyes… he recognised it from somewhere, but his thoughts were too muddled to place it.

Kirk started to leave the floor.

*NO!* "You do not wish to dance again?"

Jim grinned mischievously. "People will talk, Spock."

"And what will they say?"

"That I'm trying to seduce you. Or that I already have."

Spock nearly jumped out of his skin. "Are you?"

"Of course not," Kirk said, still smiling.

Well, there was his answer. He sighed as Kirk walked away and was quickly intercepted by another dance partner.

Spock didn't even want to watch anymore. The pain within him was too great to think. Suddenly the room was closing in on him. He couldn't breathe for the anguish. *Control...no...must get out...* His eyes felt strange, hot. He had to get out of there.

He rushed for the door. Outside. He was outside now. Where was he? He looked around him and realised he was in the Academy's rose garden. He sunk down onto a bench, his head throbbing. Stupid. Illogical. Why had he ever thought Jim would want him? Of course he wouldn't. He looked at his reflection in the marble under his feet. Why would a beautiful man like Jim want him? He studied the hard angles of his face, the slant of his eyebrows. Who would ever find him attractive?

A few minutes into the dance, a horrible sense of panic overtook Kirk. Something was....

Instinctively, he looked around for Spock, only to see him run out the door.

*Jim, you idiot, you damn idiot. Damn you and your seduction comments. Yeah, good one. Just when I was starting to…… No, but I wasn't, was I? Otherwise I wouldn't have made him run off. I wasn't getting anywhere. Probably scaring the shit out of him. Probably doesn't even understand the idea of seduction. This isn't some bubbly bimbo you're pursuing here, Tomcat. This is Spock. Your charms won't work on him. Especially when he's not interested. Better go after him... Who the hell am I dancing with, anyway? Kate, Camille, something like that.... Oh, who cares, when's it going to be over?? Spock!*

The music stopped and Jim raced for the exit with no explanation and very little courtesy. His heart was pounding. Jesus, StarFleet didn't need to have any part in taking away his best friend. He was doing a great job all by himself. He kicked himself with every step. *What must he think of me? First Carol, goddamn her, and then that seduction business...*

He found himself in the rose garden. Seemed a likely enough place for Spock to escape to. But where was he? In a state of increasing panic and desperation, he moved stealthily around a corner. His breath caught in his throat. There was Spock, sitting on a bench, staring at the ground. His heartbeat quickened as he drank in the sight of the Vulcan among the rosebushes, the moonlight playing off his pale skin and dark hair. All he wanted was to go to him and envelop him in his arms. But he couldn't do that. No, he could never do that.

Spock heard footsteps, but he did not even bother to wonder whose they were. Did not hope for a second that it would be Jim. He felt a presence. A familiar one. No, it couldn't be. He was imagining things. But then he looked up, straight into a pair of very worried hazel eyes.


He could not persuade his voice to make a sound.

"Are you all right? You ran out of there like the place was on fire."

"The...crowd suddenly became too much for me." Not entirely untrue.

Kirk nodded, obviously not believing him. "Do you want to be alone, or can I sit down?"

Spock gestured to the spade next to him. Jim sat.

"Spock, I know you. It's not the crowd. It's something else."

No, he couldn't fool Jim. He'd never been able to, except in the respect that before tonight, he had been able to hide his true feelings, for the most part. At length he spoke. "Jim, who was that woman?" Instantly he regretted it.

An anguished look came over Kirk's face. "She is... she was..."

"If it causes you pain, you do not have to tell me."

"No, I want to tell you. I...owe you that much." He took a deep breath. "She is...the mother of my son." He closed his eyes.

Spock felt himself falling, down, hurtling through space, full of jealousy and longing and desire and hopelessness...and betrayal. "Your...son?" Spock could not keep his voice from trembling. A thousand thoughts ran through his mind in the half-second before Kirk spoke again. Perhaps he was married, or had been. Or was going to be. Perhaps he was going to leave StarFleet to raise a child and leave Spock desolate. Horrible images of babies and weddings and Jim smiling and kissing *that woman* and not him. Not him.

"Yes." He sighed.

"Why have you not told me of this?" He tried to seem only intellectually interested in the answer.

"It wouldn't have done any good. I have a son, yes, a son who has never seen me, whom I have never seen. A son who does not know me or know of me. A son I will never see, as long as Carol is alive. It was best to try to forget about it. I didn't even want to think about it, much less go around talking to everyone about it. I couldn't have stood the pity."

Spock was slightly relieved, but still confused. "I am not sure I fully understand."

"Ten years ago, Carol and I were together. She became pregnant by accident... at least I think it was an accident. She wasn't going to keep the child, and I couldn't take that thought. I offered to marry her. And then she gave me this hard, cold, empty look I will never forget and she said 'Jim, no child should have to have you for a father.' So, in order to let the child live, I signed a contract. An official, legally binding contract that said I would never try to see him, and if I ever did see him, that I would never reveal who I was. So, yes, I have a son, but he has no father." Kirk was focused intently on his feet.

"You obviously signed the contract under duress. You could go to court and--"

"No. I don't want to hurt him. And I don't want to make him resent Carol. I know she is a good mother. I could never be a father to him now. Because, yes, I'm here now, but what about in a few months? Believe me, it's better to have a father who doesn't exist than one who's never there." Spock could hear the bitterness in his tone.

"You could have told me this, Jim. I would not have pitied you."

"No, you would have just thought I was a bastard for not caring enough to want to see my son. That was the reaction I got the last time I told somebody."

"I could never think that about you, Jim. Your reasoning is thoroughly logical. You choose the welfare of your child over what you want. If anything, it is admirable."

Kirk shook his head. "Deep down, I know the truth, and you do too. Carol is right. Nobody should have to have me for a father."

Spock suddenly thought of the Deneva tragedy, and afterward, when Jim's nephew Peter had finally woken up in Sick Bay.

His eyes barely open, he had looked at Kirk and said, "Daddy?"

What he remembered the most was the look on Jim's face. So pained. So full of regret and grief. "No, Peter, it's Uncle Jim."

"Where's my Daddy?"

The tears had streamed down Kirk's face. "Your Daddy...has...gone to heaven."

Peter had burst into tears, and Kirk had held him until the sobs subsided. Then, later, Peter had looked up at Jim and said, "Will you be my Daddy now?"

More pain, and fresh tears. "I can't, Peter, I can't."

Now Spock understood why it had hurt Jim so much to say that.

He laid a tentative hand on Jim's shoulder. "I can think of plenty of children who would be proud to have you for a father."

"To have an intangible legend for a father. Not something I would wish on anyone. That's what is the worst. Because I know I've chosen this path for myself. And maybe it makes me shallow and selfish, but I couldn't give up the stars. Not for a child, not for a family, not for anything." He laughed bitterly. "Sounds like I'm doomed to solitude. You know, I feel like I've lost David--that's his name--all over again. Like I've lost everything today all at once. I'll probably lose my ship for good. And I'm losing my best friend, Spock. I'm losing you. I know what the Kolinahr is, I know I'll never see you again once you go. I feel...so. completely. alone."

"You are not alone, Jim."

"Not yet."

"No, never." How he wanted to kiss those trembling pink lips, caress them into a smile. But he did not.

"Spock, I am. They're going to kick me upstairs and chain me to a desk and I'll never see the bridge of a starship again. I'll never see space again. And then you'll go, and--"

Spock laid a finger on his lips. Maybe he shouldn't have, but he couldn't help it. "Stop this. I tried to tell you earlier, but we were interrupted. I am not going anywhere, not just now. I have decided that I..." *cannot live without you* "...am not going to Gol. I wish to..." *pin you down on this bench and kiss all the sorrow out of you* "...remain here until you get another command. And then continue, as before, as your First Officer."

Spock suddenly found Jim's arms around his neck, Jim's golden hair against his cheek. *So soft.*

Jim let go after a few seconds, smiling sheepishly. "Sorry, I got carried away. But you're staying, you're really staying??"

"I have said as much."

"What made you change your mind?" Jim was grinning broadly.

"I discovered that I...like feeling the occasional emotion. I felt it would be illogical to protest against my nature."

"Oh, do you now?" But Kirk kept going before he could answer. "Spock, this is great! We'll get another command for sure now! Combine your logic with my stubbornness, and they'll just give up!"

Spock smiled inwardly. Kirk had said '*we'll* get another command.' As though it was his too. In a way it was. Kirk treated him as an equal, even on the bridge, often deferring to his logic and asking his advice. Not to mention being extremely pleasant to look at.

"I am sure everything will work out for the best."

"Damn right it will. I've got a meeting with Nogura, day after tomorrow. You're coming with me. To keep me from being persuaded or manipulated or backing down."

"We should work out a plan of action."

"Yes. But not tonight. God, Spock, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of me. I don't know how to thank you for this."

"One does not thank--"

"--logic, I know. But I can thank you. For being here for me."

Spock! Spock was staying! Spock *wanted* to stay! With him! Kirk's heart soared. Maybe there was hope. Maybe he did have a chance. But now, at least, he didn't have to hurry. He'd bought more time. There would be other missions, other adventures and crises and joys and fears for them to go through together. He'd never felt closer to anyone than he did to Spock, and now he would be able to get closer, without force, without pressure. Now he had years instead of weeks. But god, he didn't want to wait that long! The more he was near this man, the more he gazed upon his stark, graceful beauty and drank in his coppery-spicy scent, the less he felt he could wait. But if he had to, he could. Spock was here now, in no danger of going anywhere...

*Wait.* He suddenly thought of all the times he had come so close to losing Spock forever, or to dying himself. Maybe he could wait, but he couldn't bear one of their lives ending without ever having admitted how he felt. Well, then. He'd just have to do it before they went back into space. But still, that was so much more time than he'd had before. Spock would have left for Gol in three days. But now he would be here for however long Kirk was. *Maybe if I take him to the farm for a weekend.... Nothing like midnight skinny-dipping for confessions.... No! I won't do it that way! I won't just seduce him. He deserves more respect than that. But still, a romantic setting wouldn't hurt. Do Vulcans even have romance? Well, hell, we've got moonlight and roses right here...*


Jim realised he'd been staring into space for god knew how long. He smiled, the most genuinely happy smile that had crossed his face in months. "Sorry, Spock. I guess I was daydreaming. And for godsakes, none of this Captain business, not tonight." He found himself unable to resist the urge to full-on stare at Spock, beautiful slender graceful Spock with the moonlight shining on his hair. Hard to believe he was real. Spock caught his eyes for a split second and Jim instantly looked down. Then he stood up.

"Come on, we'd better get back. Uhura'll shoot us if we miss her song."

They re-entered the room to a few quizzical and amused glances, but no one said anything. Kirk wished what they were assuming could actually come true.

They arrived just as Uhura was taking the stage. She caught Jim's eye and shot him a grin as she stepped up to the mic.

"I was going to sing the same damn thing I always sing, but I thought of something better for tonight," she said. "Tonight, I'm going to sing something for two of my very good friends who need to come to their senses and start singing some love songs of their own."
Kirk barely had time to get confused when Uhura's sweet soprano filled the room.

"Sing me a song without any words
I'll pretend you wrote it just for me
Paint me a picture with images blurred
So I can see what I want to see

I want to see you and me happy together singing love songs..."

*Wonder who she's talking about?* Kirk saw her staring at him. *She can't mean me. There's nobody who's in love with me. Unless.... Maybe she sees something I can't?*

"Tell me that story again the one that has no ending
And that will be the story of you and me
It never ends it never begins it just keeps on going like it is
And maybe that's the way that it should be

I want to see you and me happy together singing love songs..."

Spock imagined *Vulcans do not imagine* that she was singing about him and Kirk. *Yes, no ending, it just keeps going, that is us…. I cannot remember where it started, I cannot fathom where it will end, I can only see the two of us together, eternally…. Oh, what wishful thinking I allow myself.*

"Get me out of here oh get me anyplace away from here
I cannot see just what I want to see
Oh I rely on you to get me where I'm going to
Anywhere with you is where I want to be..."

*Yes, oh, yes, how perfect. Anywhere, anywhere that is with him, that's where I'll go. I don't care if I have to brave all the sands of Vulcan. For him, I would. Oh, to be back in space together with nothing grounding us, with no real rules, no one to answer to, no Vulcan Council, no StarFleet, no diplomats or ambassadors, just us, in command, together. I'll take that however I can get it.*

"I want to see you and me happy together singing love songs…"

*Do I ever.* Kirk stole a glance at Spock and thought *just wishful thinking* that Spock was stealing a glance at him too. The song ended to universal applause, but Kirk couldn't hear it over the roar of his racing thoughts.

*I must tell him. There is no alternative. He must know how I feel. I cannot suppress this emotion. It will be the end of me if I do not tell him the truth.* Spock realised he was staring again and looked down.

What he didn't notice was that Kirk was staring too. Finally their glances did meet. Jim took a step toward Spock, leaving only a few inches between them. Then Jim leaned in and spoke in a low voice, his breath caressing Spock's ear and driving him almost to the very limit of his controls.

"What do you say we get out of here?"

Spock could only nod and follow Jim out of the ballroom.

They walked side by side, silently for a few minutes. Even in his heightened emotional state, Spock did not fail to notice the serenity of the San Francisco night. The air was warm and the gentle breeze carried the faint scent of lilacs and salt water, but they paled next to the intoxicating smell of the man who walked alongside him. He did not recognise the area they had entered. They walked down a steep hill framed on both sides by old-style row houses.

Finally his curiosity took over and he had to break the silence. "May I ask where we are going?"

Jim smiled and shrugged. "No place really. I just wanted to get out of there. But it looks as though we're about to end up in Britton Park."

"I am not familiar with this area."

Jim laughed a little. "Spock, you surprise me. We're barely ten minutes' walk from the Academy, where you lived for years, and you don't know where we are?"

"I did not often leave the campus of the Academy, and on the few occasions I did, it was not for a walk in the park."

"No, I suppose you didn't get out much, did you?"

"As you know, I kept to myself and my studies. There was little time for anything else."

"I used to wander these streets night after night when I couldn't sleep. Somehow, no matter which direction I started out going, I ended up here." He indicated the park they had arrived at with a sweeping gesture. Spock looked around at the low-hanging tree branches and benches surrounded by wild rosebushes. "I'd lie in the grass and stare up at the stars and count the days until I could be up there among them."

"You suffered from insomnia at such a young age?"

"Yes...it seems I've always had something to lose sleep over."

"Specify." He tried not to make it sound like a demand, but had a feeling that he had failed. He'd long been aware of the importance humans placed on intonation, but he had never quite been able to grasp it.

"Things that bothered me. Things I couldn't stop thinking about. When I was a kid, it was school, always afraid of failing, of disappointing. Then it was..." he shuddered "...Tarsus, for years. And then when those nightmares went away, it was more failure.. And then Gary." They sat down on one of the stone benches. "And...Edith. And the faces of all the other people I've killed, all of my own crew I've sent into certain death, all the times you've almost died because of me, all the times I've almost lost you. A son who'll never know me. And now..." He sighed.

Spock fought the urge to take him in his arms. This man, so strong and fearless to all outward appearances, was haunted, terrified by his past and his future. "Now I suppose you fear losing your command. But there is no need to--"

Jim grabbed his arm and turned him to look directly into hazel eyes that burned with passion and unshed tears. His voice trembled. "No, Spock. You. I'm afraid of losing you."

If Spock had been human, his heart would have leapt into his throat. As it was, he felt a strange combination of elation and apprehension that made him feel pleasantly dizzy and feverish.

He did not know how to begin. Tentatively, he began to speak once he had recovered his control. "Jim..." he struggled to steady his voice. It had to be now. Jim held his gaze, daring him to look away. *At his side, as if you've always been there and always will.* "You mentioned Edith Keeler. Her death was, to say the least, unfortunate. But she had an extraordinary insight. When you asked her where we belonged, she said something that echoes in my head daily. She said of me, 'you, at his side, as if you've always been there and always will.' Jim, she was right, like she was right about so many other things. I cannot see myself anywhere else but with you. I will not leave you."

"Spock, I know that now, but that's--"

"Please, allow me to finish. I have not yet explained fully." He swallowed. This was it. "If, when I have said what I have to say, you do not wish to see me again, I will understand. But I hope that will not be so."

"Spock, nothing could--"

"Please, Jim. This is very difficult for me. Admitting to emotion has never been one of my strong suits." Was that hope he saw in Jim's eyes? Or was it fear, because he somehow knew what was coming next? "Jim, what I am attempting to say is that there is no other person with whom I would rather spend the rest of my life. You are....." no turning back now.... "You are t'hy'la to me."

He heard Jim inhale sharply and his eyes widened. "Spock...does that word mean what I think it means?" He could hear the human's heart rate increasing. Was he happy? Was he disgusted? Spock dared not try to read him for fear of what he might see.

"Friend. Brother. Lover."

Cool human hands cupped his face between them before the last word was completely out of his mouth. he could feel nothing but joy coming from Jim. "Oh, Spock." His breath was coming faster. "Spock, I love you too."

Jim brushed a feather-light kiss across his lips, so soft and fleeting that he was not sure it had been there at all. Spock could barely breathe. He wanted to pull Jim back to him, but waited. He had to be sure. "Jim...I must tell you...I do not wish for a temporary relationship." *Would I take one if it was the only thing I could have?* "If you do not--"

Jim cut him off again. "Spock, I've loved you for longer than I've known it. This is forever. I'll love you forever. I want to serve with you, to live with you, to bond with you. Maybe if you hadn't told me I could have lived without you, but now that I know, I can't. You are...everything to me already, and I want to be that to you."

Jim trembled as he spoke these words, knowing they were words he never thought he'd have a chance to speak.

Spock's voice was hoarse and low. "You already are."

Gently, he pulled Spock's face to his, caressing his silky hair. He was surprised at how soft Spock's lips were, and how hot. He probed and savoured the spicy mouth with his tongue, his hear beating faster every second. He couldn't believe it. He was kissing Spock! How many times had he imagined this? How long had he yearned and hoped for this to happen?

Suddenly he remembered the first time he had seen Spock. No, it was not when he stepped aboard the Enterprise. It was before that, years before that. At the Academy. He'd seen him in the mess hall, eating alone at a table in the corner. He'd managed to catch his eye and smiled, and started to go over to sit down with him. But then Gary had intercepted him and lead him away.

"Social suicide, Jim-boy. He's too good for us," Gary had said. "Our human emotionalism is an annoyance to him."

He knew the Vulcan had heard. "Don't be ridiculous, Gary. That's just what you've heard. I don't suppose you've ever even spoken to him."

"He's a jerk, Jim, I know that much. He's in Waters's seminar, and Waters says--"

"I seem to remember, Gary, that not two hours ago you were talking about what, and I quote, 'a fucking jerk' Waters is."

That had shut Gary up. He hadn't known Spock's name then, or who he was, but he remembered thinking he was gorgeous. He'd been drawn to him even then. He'd spent the meal stealing glances at him over Gary's shoulder. Gary'd thought he was giving those seductive looks to him. That was how the whole thing with Gary had started. He probably would have remembered this much sooner if Finnegan hadn't attacked him the minute he stepped out of the mess hall.

If he'd remembered this earlier, maybe this kiss would be the millionth of many other millions, instead of the first. But no use dwelling on lost opportunities now. He'd taken this one when it counted, and that was the important thing. He'd have the rest of his life to make up for what he hadn't done then.

Spock had only been kissed three times, four if he counted the Romulan commander, but that wasn't a human kiss. He barely remembered kissing Leila, but the other two had been disasters. He hadn't known what to do or how to respond, and had gotten little enjoyment out of it. This time, too, he had been momentarily paralysed by his inexperience, but this time he hadn't been afraid to let go and let his body dictate what he wanted to do. Jim filled in where his own lips failed him, guiding him, drawing him into the cool salty-sweetness of his new lover's mouth. Never had he known that just his lips could give him such sensations. His entire body tingled and throbbed as Jim caressed his back and his hair, pulling him even closer.

Jim reached down and his first two fingers met Spock's. A shattering wave of heat and electricity coursed through him. It was so intense that he almost pulled away, but he could not, and did not want to. He suddenly couldn't remember ever kissing anyone else. He didn't need to compare Spock to anyone. It was better than anything, simply because it was all he had ever really wanted. This was perfect. This was right.

He broke off the kisses to catch his breath. *So this is what a Vulcan in love looks like.* He'd received countless milder versions of this look from Spock over the years, but had never known how to read it. His eyes were half-closed, his lips parted and a little swollen from the kissing, and his cheeks were flushed with a gorgeous greenish tinge that was quite becoming.

He ran his index finger down Spock's cheek, then, on a whim, moved it to trace the outline of one elegantly pointed ear. Spock must have mistaken the sheer wonder in his face for something else, because he flushed darker and ducked his head away like a shy cat.

"I imagine my ears displease you," Spock said, looking down.

Jim placed a finger under his chin and gently tipped his face back up. "No, Spock. How could you think that? They are beautiful. You are beautiful."

"No one has ever said that to me."

"You are. I want to do nothing but stare into your face for the rest of eternity. You're so beautiful...it hurts to look at you."

"I do not wish to hurt you."

"I don't mean it actually hurts. Only that you are almost too beautiful to bear. It astounds me that one person could be so exquisitely made in every respect. I've always thought that, even before I truly realised my attraction. But believe me, you're beautiful."

"As are you."

Spock surprised Jim by pulling him into another kiss. This one was harder and more demanding. Spock nibbled at his bottom lip and Jim moaned into his mouth. It was all he could do not to strip off his clothes and take him right there. He resisted only because he was afraid Spock would be uncomfortable in such a public place, and he knew that it would be Spock's first time with anyone. That gratified him somehow, knowing he would be the first and the last.

Jim reluctantly broke off the kiss. "Let's go someplace else. I'm getting cold, so you must be freezing."

"Where do you wish to go?"

"Well, I've got an apartment waiting for me a few blocks from here. I was going to invite you to stay there with me anyway, but now I won't have to make up the spare bed." Jim smiled at Spock without restraint now, free to reveal all that he felt.

"Very well, but there is one thing by which I am troubled."

"What's that?"

"You said before that you were not trying to seduce me. Was that untrue?"

Jim laughed. That was Spock, ever literal. "Yes and no. A question of semantics I chose to capitalise on. I want you as a partner in all things, not a one-night stand. I thought you deserved more than mere seduction. Impeccable logic, no?"

"I do not believe I will answer that question."

"I think I'd rather you didn't. Of course, if you're more comfortable being seduced, I can do that too."

"If seduction here implies that you will be the dominant party, I believe I have no choice."

"Oh, I think you'd figure things out pretty quickly. Come on, let's go before I make a terrible spectacle."


"My resistance to your Vulcan charms is rapidly failing."

"I was not aware that I--"

Jim drowned the rest of Spock's sentence in a kiss and pulled him up to stand.

Hand in hand, they walked with an urgent gait toward Jim's apartment.

Barely had they closed the door behind them before they were in each other's arms again, with a new urgency brought to their kisses by the sense of anticipation built up by the delay.

Spock found that as soon as he just let himself go, his instincts took over and he had no problem knowing what to do. His hands roamed all over Jim's body, mirroring his lover's own movements in almost perfect sync.

Somehow they managed to stumble backwards and sideways into the bedroom. Spock could not believe the burning that he felt all over his body. It was like the Fever, no less consuming, but easier to control. Although Spock could not entirely recall removing his clothing or Jim's, the exquisite sensation of the cool skin against his bare chest was unmistakable, as was the warm hardness pressing against his own erection. When he felt Jim's mouth on his cock, he thought he was going to scream. It felt so good it was almost painful.

"Oh..... Jim.......stop.... no, don't stop.... oh, that feels so.... I'm going to......"
Legs spread wide, his hips rose and fell, thrusting his cock into Jim's mouth. With one hand Jim was rubbing his nipples, and with the other he gently pushed two fingers inside him. Spock gasped at the new source of pleasure. It was too much for him. He cried out Jim's name once more before coming in his mouth in a hot, breathless torrent, full of pain and pleasure and heat and cold all at once.

Jim could almost feel Spock's orgasm. The sight and sound and feel of Spock's pleasure brought him to such heights of arousal that when the hot semen shot into his mouth, he came too. When it was all over, he collapsed, resting his head on Spock's muscular thigh. Spock stroked his hair for a few minutes and then pulled him up to face him.

"Jim, that was--"

"If you say fascinating, I'm going to--"

"--wonderful. It was wonderful, t'hy'la."

"It was. I could feel your pleasure."

"Yes, I believe that if we engage in such activities again, we may become bonded whether or not we mean to."

Jim felt a small twinge of fear. "We mean to, don't we?"

"It would be my wish, yes, to bond with you one day. But only if it is what you wish."

Through half-closed eyes he looked at Spock, illuminated only by the glow of the moon that played on his dark features. "I said I'd love you forever, didn't I? I don't say forever and not mean it."

"Jim, I am not sure you understand the implications."

"I understand them. I understand that you'd be in my mind forever, and I in yours. I understand that if one of us died, the other would too. But, Spock, if I lost you, that would happen anyway, bond or no. When I admitted to myself that I couldn't go on without you, that fact became absolute."

"You also understand that if a permanent link forms between us, that there is no undoing it?"

"Spock, I need you, in every way possible, through every fibre of my soul. If I have to declare it in front of all of StarFleet and Vulcan for you to believe it, I will."

"That will not be necessary."

Jim sat up and cupped Spock's face in his hands, unshed tears of longing and love trembling in his eyes. "Then can't we just let it happen?"

"My wish is yours, t'hy'la."

"And yours is mine."


* * *
The old ending, if you're nostalgic for it:

"Yes, I believe that if we engage in such activities again, we will become bonded whether or not we mean to."

Jim felt a small twinge of fear. "We mean to, don't we?"

"It is my wish to bond with you. But only if it is what you wish."

Through half-closed eyes he looked at Spock, illuminated only by the glow of the moon that played on his dark features. "I said I'd love you forever, didn't I? Yes, I want to bond with you. I don't say forever and not mean it."

"Then let it be so."



©2002-2004 by Ketsu Rei / Deirdre Riordan. All rights reserved.

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