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Due to the somewhat less than ideal circumstances of their meeting (a delicate phrase Jim would more than once deem 'the understatement of the decade') Spock had initially held many negative impressions of Kirk which he found quickly corrected once they began to work together. He viewed him as arrogant and was pleasantly surprised to find how truly he valued the opinion of anyone on his crew. He found him tactless and was pleasantly surprised to find that he had a knack for diplomatic situations to impress even an ambassador's son. He found him prohibitively obsessed with sex and was pleasantly surprised to find that he never, ever allowed his sexual desires to obstruct a mission, and in fact was able to direct his skills in this area more than once to the betterment of the mission. (An unusual methodology, to be sure, but Kirk's 'seductions' had proved their effectiveness.)

 

However, one misapprehension Spock had never held of Kirk was that he was unintelligent.

 

On the whole, in matters of the mind the average Human was no competition for a similar Vulcan. However, at the top levels of Human ability the species was able to rival even Vulcans of greater than average intelligence. Starfleet, of course, hired only the best; their standards had fallen understandably since the Narada incident, and unfortunately it was obvious, but there was nothing that could be done. The entire time Spock had attended the Academy and Starfleet he had been surrounded by beings of exceptional intellect, with just enough influences from without (shopkeepers, tourists, fellow attendees of various social events) to know how extraordinary they truly were compared to the rest of their species.

 

Kirk, though, had always been on another level entirely. Amazingly capable even when holding himself back, he had been able to fly through courses that left others in tears. Incredibly determined, he had a work ethic Spock had not before seen in a Human – it was the only thing that allowed the young man to complete his course in an astonishing three years. Able to think quickly and decisively without regret, essential qualities for a member of the Command track, and yet thoughtful and analytical enough to excel in research-based assignments as well.

 

Thus, ever since he had first heard of the cadet's achievements, Spock had held a curiously both Human and Vulcan longing to see his mind at work. It was not just the fact that he had a superior mind, it was how he was superior. He was intelligent enough to match Spock himself (that much, at least, was evident from his hacking of the computational scenario Spock had painstakingly created), and yet he was so very Human. It was fascinating.

 

Vulcans held no such emotions as envy and bitterness. However, even if they did they would not do so in the face of intelligence. Knowledge, truth, was a gift, as was any quality that allowed one a closer chance to achieve it. Vulcans of greater intelligence were highly desired as partners for bondmates, both in terms of the eventual children to be born to them and in having a partner surely able to stimulate one's intellectual needs, as necessary (if not more so) than a Vulcan's physical or emotional needs. They were the closest Vulcans came to the Human concept of 'popular', receiving many requests for official and unofficial debates and discussions intended to heighten the reasoning power of all involved. It was common courtesy to correct any Vulcan whenever it had been discovered that he or she was unknowingly spreading falsehoods – to fail to disasinate another, to hoard the truth to oneself and allow a person to sow the seeds of inaccurate beliefs, was considered quite unethical. Knowledge in any area, no matter how insignificant, was praised, all held to be part of a greater Truth that Vulcans, as a whole, were coming to understand more and more. Vulcans were a race of antisocordists.

 

This was not so, however, for Humans. Humans of superior intelligence were frequently mocked or held in scorn by less gifted members of the species. Envy was widespread, with many kinds of Humans finding themselves distanced from others simply due to the circumstances of their birth. It was rarely assumed that driven Humans were searching for the truth – instead, many Humans would misattribute their own intentions onto others and assume that they were simply attempting to appear more intelligent, superior, rather than searching for knowledge for the sake of knowledge. A profoundly anti-intellectual society at times, many Humans held that intelligence was negatively correlated with happiness (the greatest of all Human desires), or even that the search of knowledge was itself a bad thing, and that Humans should, instead, hold 'faith', a bewildering concept that Spock could not, even now, begin to understand. And yet they seemed blind to the knowledge that it was they who caused the difficulties the intelligent faced. Even among Starfleet gratuitous displays of excess knowledge were deemed a great faux pas, an idea Spock had struggled with greatly upon his arrival on Earth until Nyota had kindly explained it to him. Earth was, in short, a planet very unforgiving of the very intelligent, and very negative of the knowledge-gathering process itself, often holding 'life experience' (subject to biases of all kinds) over 'book learning' (subject to peer review or, at the very least, evidence of different opinions to one's own) in terms of preference.

 

However, despite the circumstances in which he was raised, Jim did not seem to have been affected. He adored knowledge as much as any Vulcan Spock had ever met, not only for the betterment of missions but for its own sake. Even despite his rampant emotionality – even when compared to a Human – his mind was strong enough that he would have been highly desired by many Vulcan institutions, if perhaps not seen as stable enough for a bondmate. His mind was, in a word, fascinating.

 

Therefore, for as long as Spock had known Jim he had wondered what his skill at chess would be like. Sometimes he had mused absent-mindedly, pausing every now and then in his game to consider whether Jim would be a more satisfying opponent than the computer, and at other times had seriously thought about it, trying mentally to convert the man's strange style in all things into a coherent chess strategy. He never quite succeeded.

 

Spock relived all of this, at the time, in order to explain to himself why it could be excused if he altered his facial expression slightly when Jim first asked him, “So, you play chess?”

 

“Yes,” he responded, mind whirling. “What variety to do you play?”

 

“The normal sort, and the 3D version.” Spock's eyes widened for a moment, his mind whirling even faster. Few Humans Spock had encountered played the more complex Vulcan variation of chess, let alone Humans with as interesting a mind as the Captain's. “You?”

 

“I, too, play both kinds of the game. However, I prefer three-dimensional chess.”

 

“Cool, I think there's one in the rec room. What are you ranked?”

 

“Grandmaster.”

 

Jim made a face. “Seriously? 'Kay, I'm not that high yet. But I'm not far off there, so don't get cocky.”

 

“Vulcans do not get 'cocky'.” Spock struggled to resist from clenching his fists. So highly ranked an opponent! He should not have expected differently from Jim.

 

The Captain rolled his eyes. “I really should've seen that coming, I really should've.”

 

Spock remained silent. His body was throbbing with energy. For the first time since the Narada incident, he thought he understood what excitement felt like.

 

By the time they had finished their game, Spock was slightly disappointed. He had played extremely well, displaying many complex maneuvers such as the mah-vel defence and the grazhiv movement. As always, his playing style was reminiscent of Orn-tukh T'plen with more than a hint of Ha-talsu T'polla. He had moved swiftly, cleanly, decisively, and logically.

 

On the other hand, the Captain had played completely differently to how Spock had expected. He had been slow, even lethargic. He had thought through his moves very carefully only to make the most basic of strategies. He had played exactly as a moderately experienced chess player would have been taught to play.

 

Yes, Spock was just slightly disappointed.

 

When they finished Jim looked up at him with a wry smile. “Don't worry,” he said teasingly, “that wasn't my best. Just getting a feel for playing you, this time. Once I get the hang of it it'll be different.”

 

“I assume it was inherently impossible to have 'gotten a feel' for playing me while making even a vain attempt to respond to my ability?”

 

His grin widened. “Pretty much! That's just how I play. I scope out peoples' weaknesses and then I hit 'em where it hurts. Can't do that if I don't know what hurts, can I?”

 

Suddenly, Jim's face fell, his words clearly striking a shared memory. Hastily attempting to avoid the surely uncomfortably apology that would follow, Spock said, “that seems a most inadvisable strategy in the context of a game in which one plays many opponents, often no more than once.”

 

Reluctantly, Jim nodded. “Well, yeah, if you're playing professionally, but if you're playing just among a group of friends every time it works pretty well. Besides, don't even professionals look over old games of their opponents to get used to their style before they play?”

 

Spock, too, hesitated before answering, although for a different reason. He did not know well this man before him, and many previous events indicated that it would not be preferable to do so. However, other facts of which Spock was aware made him very inclined to do exactly that. Additionally, was Spock's job not to work smoothly and seamlessly with his Captain? Among Vulcans that would be possible even if the people in question knew each other very little, but Humans were clearly different.

 

Spock was unused to extending the hand of friendship, but when the possibility was of catching another glimpse of that dynamic mind he was willing to make the effort.

 

After all, he was only commencing a conversation. It was not a difficult task.

 

“You play against friends, then?” he asked in what he hoped was a casual tone.

 

Luckily, Jim seemed content with the new turn of the mood, because he responded immediately. “Well, sorta. I was in the chess club a bit at the Academy before I got too busy. I've thought about starting it up again on the ship, actually, but I don't really have much more time now than I did then. Nowadays I mostly only play every now and then, on the computer. None of my actual friends play it – except you, of course.”

 

Spock blinked, pleased but confused. It was his understanding that Humans generally did not consider each other friends until they had shared a certain depth of experience and/or time together, and from Spock's calculations he had not believed he and Jim had done so, yet. Perhaps their co-operation during the end of the Narada incident had boosted their relationship? He had certainly observed a significant degree of friendship between the Captain and the Helmsman that Nyota had explained as being due to their shared experiences on Nero's drill. In fact, all of the main Enterprise crew and Doctor McCoy had grown surprisingly close through this time. Yes, Spock decided, this was the case – because they had shared an important experience together Jim felt close enough to him to consider them friends. Suddenly Spock was chastened that he had not realised this earlier.

 

“I, too, consider you a friend, Captain,” Spock finally said, highly aware both of the awkwardness of his speech and the overly long pause that had preceeded it.

 

Jim beamed. “You know, you can call me Jim, if you want, Spock. Since we're friends and all.”

 

Shyly, Spock nodded, although privately vowed not to entirely take the Captain up on his offer. Partly, he argued, this was due to his social discomfort and high regard for privacy and isolation. However, he could not deny that part of his motivation lay in the exasperated way he suspected Jim would respond in if he lapsed.

 

“Well, since we have time – one more, Spock?”

 

“Of course, Captain.”

 

His response was pleasing, his playing style still disappointing.

 

*

 

Three weeks later, Spock found himself once more facing Jim before a chess board. They had played twice in the meantime, always on a Tuesday, when their respective schedules most easily interacted. Spock had come to enjoy their meetings and was beginning to look forward to them on days they were to play. If he had expected to become less fascinated with Jim on learning more about him he had found himself wrong – if anything, the opposite was taking place, and Spock was finding himself drawn deeper and deeper into the other man the more he learned of him. This was especially strange given that Jim still had yet to win a game. He insisted that he was still holding back until he divulged Spock's weaknesses and Spock hesitantly believed him but if this continued any longer Spock would be forced to conclude that the man had lied about his ranking. The idea left him oddly despondent.

 

As they set up the board, Spock considered his thoughts. Although his conversations with Jim were among the most comfortable he had ever had, he was still vastly unfamiliar with interacting with Humans in a social sense. His relationship with Nyota had been some practice but not nearly enough for him to consider himself skilled in the area. Hoping that his attempt to initiate a line of conversation was not too obviously awkward, Spock asked, “May I ask why, precisely, you began to learn this game originally? Few Humans care for three-dimensional chess, as I am sure you are aware.”

 

Jim paused in the placing of his rook, frowning. “Yeah, I know. Well, I learnt basic chess 'cause, well, it was relatively easy to make money off, and I was a poor kid. Also much more reliable than poker, so. And then I learnt the three-dimensional kind, 'cause... I guess, 'cause it was there.” He shrugged.

 

Spock smiled inwardly, pleased. “It was a puzzle and you wished to solve it merely to test that you could.”

 

“Basically!” Jim returned his mental smile with a real one. “Also 'cause...well, I've kinda always had a bit of a thing about...proving things to people. Which I'm sure is a great shock.”

 

“You mean to say,” Spock replied dryly, “that the man who completed a very difficult Starfleet course in three quarters of the time everyone else was allocated did not have merely efficiency on his mind?”

 

Jim laughed, a beautiful sound. “You could say that! I'm guessing you started 'cause of the puzzle thing?”

 

Spock paused. While Jim was not incorrect, his true motivation was slightly more...complicated. However, it was a difficult thing to speak of, and one which involved many personal details which he did not easily reveal. For a moment he wished to do just that – tell Jim everything, every embarrassing, deep and dark detail of his views regarding chess, open himself up so fully – but he squashed the idea. Still, the emotion remained within him, sizzling in the back of his mind. Slightly disturbed, he resolved to allocate an extra half-hour of meditation that evening.

 

Still, the emotion seemed tame, and was revealing truths about oneself not part of Human friendship? “That is...partly accurate, although my true reasons bear closer resemblance to yours than you may know.”

 

Again Jim laughed, and again Spock was pleased. “Right, right,” he drawled, looking over his pieces and moving his pawn to d4. “Shouldn't have expected differently from the first Vulcan to throw over VSA for Starfleet, should I?”

 

The odd feeling returned, stronger than before. He did not wish to speak of the event, and yet simultaneously he did, but only to Jim. It was...confusing, and Spock decided that another half an hour of meditation might not be a bad idea. There was no reason to embarrass himself – it would only make both he and Jim more uncomfortable.

 

“Sorry, should I not have brought that up?” Jim asked tentatively, and Spock realized that he had been silent for a few moments. He seemed genuinely apologetic, and Spock shook his head, moving his own pawn to knight's level d5.

 

“I would prefer not to speak of it at the moment,” he said slowly, ignoring the voice in the back of his head urging him differently. He paused, feeling he should offer up another possible conversation topic in the place of this metaphorical dead-end, but unable to conceive of one at the moment.

 

“So! Any other games you play?” Jim asked suddenly, and Spock spared a moment to nod slightly in thanks; he might have imagined the slight wry tinge to Jim's smile in response, although in reflection he did not believe that to be the case.

 

It was a satisfactory improvement. Jim's game, on the other hand, was still disappointing.

 

*

 

 

 

They had returned to the rec room and begun to set up the board once more before Jim spoke.

 

“Not that I'm complaining, but why today?”

 

Spock paused, considering. He had not expected Jim not to notice. In the past few weeks their weekly chess games had transformed from convenience into habit. Until today, every game they had played had been on a Tuesday; today was a Friday.

 

However, he had wondered if the Captain would simply accept the earlier date as a sign of increasing anticipation towards their games; this would not be inaccurate. Perhaps the Captain had noticed another change in his behaviour which Spock had missed?

 

Placing the pawn in its place after only a moment's thought, Spock said, “Lieutenant Uhura and I spoke today. We agreed mutually to terminate our relationship.”

 

Jim nodded sympathetically, understanding the implicit answer. “I'm sorry. Why?”

 

Again, Spock hesitated before answering, tapping the white rook slightly so as to position it perfectly within the centre of its square. They were sitting with the right side of their table against the far corner of the rec room. Spock's chair sat closest to the door, facing away from it. Crewmen were scattered all around at tables near and far, conversation rising as surprisingly pleasant white noise when he paid attention. His voice would be audible to Humans seated at the table to his left, behind him and to the left, and directly behind him. However, the blanket of talking surrounding them would most likely nullify his words to any who were not paying specific attention. It was possible that what he said would catch the attention of passing crewmen – despite their lesser hearing ability Humans possessed an unconscious awareness of sensory inputs that Spock found impressive – but the probability he calculated was not significant.

 

“There is no need to apologise. The breaking was amicable, and we have agreed to remain friends. We were simply...incompatible.”

 

Jim frowned, placing his final pawn in its place. “That's weird, I always thought you got along pretty well.”

 

“Sexually.”

 

“Ah.”

 

Without waiting, Spock played his first move. When Jim did not respond immediately, he glanced up to find him staring at Spock with an odd expression on his face.

 

“Sorry, it's just...didn't think Vulcans normally cared about things like that.”

 

Spock sighed. It was only natural that a species as obsessed with the act of copulation as Humans were would assume that any other species with noticeably less interest held no interest at all. “Sexual intercourse forms one of the defining aspects of a romantic relationship for both Humans and Vulcans. It is illogical to not consider it a factor when making decisions regarding one.”

 

Jim snorted, finally playing a pawn. “Well, you can't blame me for misunderstanding when you guys do your best to make sure we Humans know as little as possible on the subject.”

 

Spock moved his knight. “If either of us were asexual, or otherwise incapable of a normal sexual relationship, we would of course have considered the matter differently. However, this was not the case.”

 

Jim copied him. “Just kinda weird to imagine that.” Jim suddenly grinned; Spock played his white bishop. “You do realize that you're gonna have to come with us next time we go out on shore leave now that I know you're interested, right?”

 

Spock gave Jim a withering look; that is, he lowered his eyelids and eyebrows slightly. Evidently the Captain understood, as his grin grew wider. “There are several reasons why I do not join you in such ventures. Even if I were asexual that would be but one of many.” Jim laughed, playing his pawn to threaten Spock's bishop.

 

“So, it didn't work out with Uhura.” Spock nodded, moving his bishop cautiously. “What are you looking for, then? Sexually, I mean.”

 

Spock paused; Jim took the opportunity to, as expected, take Spock's bishop. “I am...unsure.”

 

Jim glanced up. “Don't need to be specific, just...generally.”

 

Almost thoughtlessly, Spock castled his king. “I do not have a great amount of experience in this area. The lieutenant was my first relationship of that nature.”

 

“Really? I thought you said sex was important.” Jim's pawn went forward.

 

“I stated that sex was important within the context of a romantic relationship. It is not, to me personally, otherwise, nor are such relationships themselves.” Pawn to d4; bishop to g4.

 

“But surely you'd've had some experience?”

 

Spock frowned. “One of the reasons I would not wish to accompany you on shore leave is that Humans and Vulcans have rather different perceptions of sexual attractiveness. I understand that I am considered sexually desirable among Humans; this is not so among Vulcans.” Delicately, he placed his pawn on c3, subconsciously tapping the top.

 

“Really? Their loss.” Taking one of Spock's pawns with his own, he looked intently at Spock for a moment before asking, “Why? What's so different?”

 

“Firstly, Humans place far more emphasis on physical attractiveness than Vulcans do. Although our notions regarding aesthetics are mostly similar, they matter far less among Vulcans.” Returning the gesture, Spock took one of Jim's pawns. “Secondly, Vulcans put significantly more importance into concepts of intellectual and physical ability than Humans.”

 

Jim frowned, moving his queen to up a number of levels. “Don't see what the problem is there, then. Aren't you meant to be like a genius, even for a Vulcan?”

 

“It is true that my intellectual capacity is above average among Vulcans. However, my Human heritage has affected my physical ability, and I possess far less potential in this area than is the norm.”

 

Spock moved his pawn to h3 and Jim glanced up again. “That still doesn't add up – you should still be at, like, average attractiveness or something. No offence.”

 

“It is illogical to take offence when stating a fact.” Jim opened his mouth to argue, but changed his mind and just moved his bishop back instead. “However, you were correct in assuming that another factor impedes negatively on my degree of attractiveness.” Taking a moment to gather his thoughts, Spock moved his second knight up a level. “You are aware that, according to the principles of evolution, species are more likely to survive if they act in certain ways as to ensure the survival of their DNA.”

 

“Well...yeah,” Jim said slowly, castling his king.

 

“Therefore, many instinctive behaviours are, if not universal, very common among different species. The instinctive aversion against incest, for one, which would prevent the natural mixing of different kinds of DNA.” Spock moved his bishop forward. “These are, however, not always uniform. Many species do not engage in any form of same-sex sexual behaviour, and in fact respond instinctively negatively to the practice.”

 

“So, Vulcans are like that, then?” Jim asked, moving his knight.

 

Spock shook his head. “Vulcans, like Humans, also exhibit an unexplained tendency towards such behaviour in some. Indeed, Vulcan preferences exceed Human in this area. I was merely stating an example.” Spock hesitated, shifting his castle forward. “However, one instinct that Vulcans do possess that Humans lack is that against sexual intercourse with infertile beings. For most Vulcans this is not prohibitive – as with Humans, it is generally impossible to tell from sight or scent the fertility of a potential partner, and most would not discover this truth until they are in the early stages of a relationship. However, this is not so for myself, of course. I am well-known as the only Vulcan-Human hybrid in existence, a combination that is inherently infertile.”

 

“Oh,” Jim said quietly moving a pawn, and Spock moved his bishop backwards again. “That sucks.”

 

“It is illogical to blame another for his or her sexual preferences. I can no better condemn the Vulcan race for the way in which it has evolved than I can blame the Lieutenant for our incompatibility, particularly when said evolution helped my race to survive to this point.”

 

“Still. They don't, like, treat you badly for it, do they?” Bishop to d6.

 

“No. Before Surak, such aversions were generally acted upon with emotional abandon and Vulcans were required to declare their level of fertility; however, Surak showed the Vulcans the illogic of such discrimination, and a time of tolerance has existed ever since. However,” Spock continued, surprised that he had to struggle somewhat to keep the bitterness from his tone, “tolerance does not always mean equality, and some aspects of equality cannot be forced.” Knight to a4.

 

“Still. That sucks.” Jim paused. “Well, guess we'll just have to figure out what you like in Humans, then!” he added brightly, capturing Spock's bishop..

 

“I appreciate the effort, but I neither require nor desire such...input at this time,” Spock replied carefully, taking Jim's own bishop with his pawn.

 

Jim frowned, cautiously moving his king to b8. “Well, I guess, since you just broke up. But you'll have to find out eventually. You can't really say that sex isn't important to you unless you've known what it's like when it's good. I mean, you've already said you know you're not asexual.”

 

“I assure you that I am perfectly capable of making such a statement.” Knight down a level to c5, threatening Jim's queen.

 

Jim rolled his eyes, moving his queen forward a space. “Whatever. But I assure you that even if you don't go looking for it it'll come up eventually. At least if you've had some experience beforehand you'll know what to do about it.”

 

“I am perfectly aware of the mechanics involved,” Spock replied with a slight huff, and moved his own queen in a long diagonal row to d4.

 

“That's not what I meant and you know it. Well,” he amended, “maybe you don't. But you will.” King to a7.

 

“I am doubtful that such a simple behaviour could require such a complicated response,” Spock said, his expression ever so slightly scornful, moving his knight to a6, by Jim's King. “If I wish to engage in intercourse with another, I shall proposition them accordingly. If they accept we shall do so; if not, I will politely retract my statement and not mention it again.”

 

Jim grinned, not rising to the bait; instead, he moved his bishop to h3. “Whatever you say!”

 

The game, which had hinted at stalemate so far, had just begun to deteriorate in Spock's favour. Eventually, he won. It was still disappointing.

 

~~

 

Their seventh game began like any other. They played in the rec room at their table, and although Spock knew that it was probably illogical to favour a particular physical object among many identical ones simply due to memories associated with it, he was slightly pleased that the other crewman had come to recognise this ownership and rarely sat there anymore.

 

It had been Jim's turn to play white. At first, Spock hadn't been concerned at all – there was folly in overconfidence, but Jim had quite consistently failed to prove that Spock's present confidence was not warranted. Spock continued to play at approximately the same level as usual; perhaps his attention was slightly diverted, but compared to a Human he was still intensely focused.

 

Probably, Spock thought, he could have deliberately re-directed his attention if he wished to, but he did not. Although he did desire to win against Jim (or, perhaps to be more precise, he desired to not 'go easy on him', as Humans would say) the primary purpose of their games was for their mutual entertainment and the solidification of their tentative, but growing daily, bond of friendship. If he was distracted in order to better respond to their conversation (they were discussing the nature of the alien species inhabiting the planet their were to visit on their next visit, the Alcorians; despite Jim's occasional immature comments his insights were, for the most part, quite engaging, and Spock was beginning to learn that even these unnecessary observations were entertaining on a level Spock was not familiar with) he was merely partially sacrificing one objective for another. And if he was distracted in order to better observe the physical attractiveness of his commanding officer, that was just another objective of inarguable value, albeit a private one.

 

Spock was not sure when he had first noticed Jim's pleasing appearance; somewhat worryingly, by the time he realized what he was doing he had already been engaging in the practise for some time. Objectively, the reasons for Spock's interest were obvious – Jim displayed many of the qualities in which Spock had tended to show sexual appreciation for in the past. He was muscular but subtly so; his facial features were nicely symmetrical; he was male. Occasionally Spock returned to the words he had spoken so recently about what he would do if he found himself attracted to another individual but invariably quashed those ideas quickly. There were many reasons to be wary of making such a suggestion to Jim – he was his friend; he was his superior officer; Spock had only recently left a previous relationship, albeit with no lasting bitterness; Jim was, as far as Spock was aware, primarily sexually interested in females. It was a pleasant idea, perhaps, and one which he knew he would logically have to purge from himself eventually, but for the time being the temptation to wallow in emotion and allow himself to entertain the idea was difficult to overcome.

 

Perhaps he should devote a degree of extra time for his meditation; he seemed to be doing this more and more often, lately.

 

Thus Spock almost did not notice when the minute evidence of Jim's apparent skill with chess finally, finally presented itself. Almost.

 

Anticipation flooding through him, Spock forced himself to abandon all distracting uses of his brainpower and began to focus in earnest. Jim seemed to understand and they began to play in comfortable silence. Move after move Jim continued to play beautifully, Spock urging himself onwards ever and ever more to decipher his strategies and respond in kind. Tension crackled between them, but it was not the negative emotion of awkwardness but instead the positive, highly Vulcan feeling of intellectual stimulation, a battle between equal wits.

 

The game went on (Spock's bishop to queen's level d4; Jim's queen to pawn's level f7) and Spock found the tension within him increase. It was both highly physical and entirely non-material – he was entering the Vulcan realm of supreme concentration, completely unaware of his own body, despite the very physical effects he would otherwise have been in total awareness of. Perhaps it was fitting that Vulcans' bodies reacted most strongly when they focused so greatly on the mental field that they paid no notice of them; Spock observed no such irony. He was beginning to lose, and the further he chances of winning began to crack and splinter the more addicted he became to the mind before him.

 

He moved his king outside its corner to g8 and the cracks became deep fissures.

 

Jim moved his castle right to the other end of the board, putting Spock's king into check. This was not the first time Jim had managed a check in a game of theirs, but a quick glance of the board revealed that, unless Spock did something drastic, it would not be the last of this game.

 

Unfortunately, Spock did not have something drastic up his sleeve. Instead, he moved his king diagonally away, to f7.

 

A detached scientific curiosity struck him. Jim had never won against him before; how had he managed now? What had he done differently? What had Spock done differently? What kind of person was he that he could manage to defeat a Vulcan grandmaster chess-player after playing him only eight times? Jim's own rank was not unimpressive, but even so he had apparently caught onto Spock's strategies and style with shocking quickness.

 

All of a sudden, Spock yearned to know the mind of this man more greatly than ever before.

 

Jim moved his queen diagonally, too – to d7, threatening most of that row, including Spock's king.

 

Although Spock was not aware of the changes in his body's functioning, that did not mean that it did not affect him nonetheless. If he could have heard, the heartbeat in his ears would have been fast even for a Vulcan, his muscles tensed in an instinctive physiological response to a challenge. His whole body was attuned towards this game – this man in front of him. And yet he remained totally oblivious to any more than Jim's mind, shining slivers of reality like rays of light into every moved chess piece.

 

Mesmerized by this game, working almost instinctively, he moved his king down a row, to f6.

 

Without missing a beat, the person in front of him – the chess-playing machine so decimating Spock's own plans – moved his castle down two rows to d6. Check. Simple. Elegant. Utterly destructive; a work of art.

 

Intellectually, Spock knew he had lost. There was only one move left to make, and it would not free his king. But he wanted to see it for real. He wanted it.

 

King, diagonally, to g5. Down a level.

 

There it was - queen to d8.

 

Checkmate.

 

And that's when Spock realized that he was completely hard.

 

There was a moment of release – utter, glorious release. He was not unaware of where he was or who or what his sudden interest was directed towards. He was not unaware of his position, of the future consequences of this unintentional, uncontrollable reaction.

 

For a moment, he simply did not care.

 

Spock feels his spine arch ever so slightly from the back of his chair, his thighs separating, settling a little bit further apart. A guttural grunt tickled his throat, but thankfully did not materialize. His toes curled under his feet within his boots. His vision broadened and narrowed, turning pale, two points of painfully-bright blue. He could almost feel it beneath his fingertips, could almost touch Jim's mind beneath his fingers – light and colour and swirling crystal and pages of notes and words and numbers; his telepathy was singing. Most of all, though, in this moment he wanted dearly, dearly to fuck Jim.

 

Then the moment ended and another unwanted emotion overcome him totally – utter humiliation. What did he think he was doing? He was sitting in the rec room playing chess with his best friend and commanding officer (well, to be technical, he'd just finished losing to said man; and oh if that reminder didn't make his thighs twitch again) and he was aroused.

 

Immediately he calculated and recalculated his surroundings. Thanks to his positioning, his front and/or side would only be visible from limited positions. Factoring in the height and coverage of the table, the available viewing angles lowered further. Finally, the likelihood that another crewman would choose to glance in that direction was, he knew, somewhat low. (Unfortunately, Humans' awareness of things subconsciously taken in by their sight would also have to be taken into account.)

 

However, it was not impossible.

 

The idea caused another wave of shame to wash over him. What would happen if they did notice? He was their commanding officer. To view him in such a state would doubtlessly impact their respect for him in a highly negative degree. Additionally, such an observation could bring into question Spock's relationship with the Captain – a relationship which would be, by regulations, disallowed. To have such a thing discussed openly – Vulcan sexuality questioned; his own sexuality questioned – would be the height of humiliation. He was not afraid of discussing his sex life in limited amounts among his close friends, but for strangers to pick apart the depths of his personal fetishes?

 

No. This could not happen. This would not happen. He was a calm, controlled Starfleet officer and a calm, controlled Vulcan. His own body was not so beyond him that he could be so betrayed by it.

 

He swallowed, fingers curling slightly inwards.

 

The haze – both the one induced by his highly inappropriate reaction and then his subsequent (and also, perhaps, inappropriate) reaction to that – was receding and he noticed that Jim was looking at him strangely.

 

“Spock?”

 

Spock raised an eyebrow. He had noticed that Humans often subconsciously took cues from the body language of their conversation partner; it was a habit he had deemed illogical at first, but had somewhat recently come to understand was an attempt to further clarify their often very vague speech patterns. Hopefully, if he acted as though nothing were wrong Jim would 'follow suit' so to speak and discard the observations he had clearly made.

 

“Your style is very impressive. You have improved greatly since our first match.”

 

Jim grinned, and Spock relaxed somewhat. “Only 'cause it took this long to work out how to beat your strategy.”

 

“And what, precisely, is my strategy?”

 

Spock regretted the conversation as soon as it left his mouth, but was unable to stem the tide of voracious knowledge that flowed in answer. “You play extremely logically – from both sides. You don't just consider what you know, but what your partner knows, and what you know he knows that you know, to a ridiculous number of layers – pretty complex psychological stuff; no way are you gonna be able to keep up this 'I'm just an innocent Vulcan who doesn't understand Earth customs' act now that I've seen you play.” Apparently the expression on Spock's face pleased him, for his lips quirked again and he continued. “You assess and re-assess every turn; that's why it took me so long – even when I throw you off guard you never hold onto strategies once they've been threatened. I figured it out, though,” he added boastfully. “It's good, very good, but I know how to beat you, now.”

 

Mouth dry, Spock couldn't stop himself from responding. “How?”

 

Grin widening impossibly further, Jim leaned forward, his electric blue eyes trained directly into Spock's own, eyelashes fluttering slightly, and spoke, “now, that wouldn't be much fun if I just told you, Mr. Spock, would it?”

 

Mute, Spock could only shake his head. The minute sound thundered in his ears as his legs shifted on his chair once more, seeking comfort.

 

Jim let out a bark of laughter but thankfully leaned back. “Well, what say we go have a bite to eat now? It must be about dinner by now...”

 

Feeling the onset of panic set in, Spock spoke before he could completely consider all possible responses. “I apologize, Captain, but I will be unable to accompany you today.”

 

Jim deflated slightly. “Oh? Why?”

 

“I have an important botany project to work on in the lab which will soon require my attention; until then, I would wish to consider our game for a time.”

 

During his time among Humans Spock had noticed two similar but noticeably different interpretations of the phrase 'could not' – a definition that hinted physical impossibility, and another that implied lack of competent ability. Thus, when Spock said confidently that Vulcans could not lie, he had no doubt that at least one of these definitions was entirely accurate.

 

Jim was looking at him strangely again. “Um, okay? Well, next time, I guess,” he said, then paused, as though unsure how to continue. When Spock nodded, he returned the action, before turning and leaving.

 

Spock let out a quiet sigh. Despite his tremendous relief at his secret not being revealed, he was additionally torn between competing emotions of worry that Jim would not forget his strange actions this evening and, inexplicably, a small but profound sense of disappointment that he would.

 

It was mad. This man had such an infuriating, emotional, illogical effect upon him that he found himself – Spock, son of Sarek, first officer of the flagship of the Federation – sitting shamefully in the middle of the public recreation room engaging in an earnest attempt to will down an erection.

 

No. He must not think. He must redirect all focus into regaining control over his body.

 

Then he would think.

 

*

 

He had beat him.

 

Spock was a not unintelligent person. He was, indeed, a not unintelligent Vulcan – he would not have garnered entrance into the Vulcan Science Academy if he were. And if he had inherited his intelligence from his father he had inherited something almost as important from his mother – stubbornness. In order to combat the stereotype that, as a half-Human hybrid, he would therefore logically possess inferior intelligence to a full Vulcan (a not entirely illogical idea, Spock was forced to admit; however, the fact that the idea persisted long after he had proven himself otherwise could only be considered unreasonable) Spock had been forced to use every ounce of both of these qualities.

 

He had excelled at his schoolwork. He had excelled at his meditation classes. He had even excelled in terms of telepathic achievement, although Spock had to admit that this was mostly due to favourable genetics. He had excelled at self-defense, at the Vulcan lyre, and at almost anything else Vulcan had thrown his way.

 

However, his greatest talent had always lain in chess.

 

He had chosen it deliberately for its very Vulcan-ness – it required logic and patience and continuous reason, among the most highly valued of Vulcan qualities. He had thought, at first, that if he proved himself at this most Vulcan of skills he would be seen as a true Vulcan at last. This, of course, turned out to be a naïve hope, but Spock found he enjoyed playing regardless. In an odd sort of way, despite the fact that chess in some ways represented his eternal separation from the rest of Vulcan, he liked it because of its Vulcan-ness. Whenever he was sometimes discouraged by his species and its reaction to him, whenever he doubted his belief in Surak and the principles of logic, he would set up his chess set again and everything would return. Logic was not the cause of his misfortune – Vulcans were, and Vulcans were, to put it somewhat tautologically, only Vulcan. Chess represented, for him, the pinnacle of logic – comforting, sane, and sensible. Chess reminded him why he still strove to reach the Vulcan ideal despite his setbacks. Chess reminded him of himself.

 

And so he had dedicated himself to the game almost excessively. And with it, his skill grew – soon, he was seeing eye to eye with chess players far older and more experienced than himself. It was an outlet like no other. Into it he poured his intelligence, his stubbornness, his talent.

 

And then he travelled to Earth.

 

There were very few players of his version of chess on the planet. Two-dimensional chess was not uncommon, but three-dimensional chess was seen as overly complicated, if not 'overly Vulcan'. Spock did not always understand subtle emotional differences, but he was as ever over-attuned when it came to chess, and he couldn't help but detect a certain sense of pretentiousness associated with the game – as though those who played considered themselves 'too smart' for regular chess, as though they merely played the game to compare themselves to the Vulcan race; Spock did not need to be over-attuned to his heritage to notice the connotations of arrogance and coldness associated with that particular word among many races. Even those who did play the game were nowhere near as talented as Spock was used to, and often reacted negatively when Spock was disappointed by this, viewing the reaction as some sort of personal offence.

 

Spock had never had very many friends at the Academy. (To be fair, he hadn't made any attempt to open himself to one.) Despite their equally impassioned declarations of tolerance Spock had found that Humans and Vulcans were just as equally matched in their abilities to assume that their own modes of thinking and behaviour were inherently superior.

 

Ultimately, the conclusion of all these facts was that it had been a very long time since Spock had faced down an opponent of equal stature to himself, and even longer since he had been beaten.

 

Until now.

 

Jim had beaten him.

 

The very thought caused Spock's groin to tingle in memory. Spock felt helpless; it had taken him far longer than was reasonable to compose himself into an acceptable state and return to his quarters, and yet even before he had fully returned to his room his erection had already been beginning to resurface. It hung there between his legs heavy and insistent. It was a most intensely uncomfortable experience feeling simultaneously so aroused and yet so ashamed; the emotions swirling in his stomach hinted more than faintly of nausea.

 

It had been a long time since Spock had last masturbated. He was aware of the practice and that many Humans and some Vulcans engaged in it but had rarely had reason to do so himself. It was not due to any sense of distaste with sex in general but rather a distinct lack of interest. Spock was, on whole, not a particularly sexual individual. At least, until today.

 

Clenching his teeth, Spock stalked over to the edge of his bed and sat upon it, spreading his legs comfortably. Feeling somewhat foolish, he reached for his zipper, moving his trousers and underwear out of the way in order to take out his throbbing erection. Even just touching it caused waves of hot pleasure to tumble through his body, causing his hips to buck forward automatically. Hesitantly he stroked himself; he was acting no differently than he had the few other times he had attempted to self-stimulate and yet his reactions were so different. He would almost find it fascinating were he not determined to get himself out of this position as soon as possible so he could decide how to never enter it ever again. He sped up the movement of his hands, absently enjoying the feeling of the hot skin against his sensitive fingertips. However, as sexually pleasing as this felt he was still just shy of achieving climax.

 

Spock resisted. He would only make things much more difficult for himself if he carried through with his idea. And yet he knew, somehow, that he would not be able to reach orgasm otherwise. His cheeks heating up in embarrassment, he remembered the end of his game with Jim as he had placed his queen in the checkmate position and almost immediately Spock found himself ejaculating.

 

Taking only a moment to catch his breath, Spock cleaned himself up and tucked himself back in. Then he returned to his desk, sitting in the chair in front of his computer, and thought.

 

He was, of course, not unaware of the Vulcan ability to achieve sexual pleasure from displays of intellectual prowess from otherwise attractive beings. In fact, the mind was considered a highly important Vulcan erogenous zone. While it was generally considered a rare ability to climax from intellectual stimulation alone, when combined with other sexual activities it generally resulted in a highly satisfactory sexual experience. In fact, the few instances that had confirmed for Spock that he was not entirely incapable of sexual arousal had invariably involved this kind of stimulation.

 

However, his responses had always been muted and easy to control. He had always considered that to be due to lacking interest in the area but, now that Spock reviewed his memories, it was possible that circumstances had worked against him. He had experimented extensively with pornography in his youth, but his interest had always been more scientific than genuinely sexual, and thus the results had been as objective and unstimulating as one would expect. As a Vulcan of above average intelligence, superior displays of intellect had been uncommon. He was unattractive to the vast majority of Vulcans due to his infertility so he had rarely been participant in a deliberate, personal act of flirtation. Finally, many times he could otherwise have felt attraction to someone the individual making the display had been otherwise an unsuitable partner. The most obvious example of this last one was, of course, the event in which a particularly obnoxious cadet had somehow managed to subversively change the coding to his prized Kobayashi Maru.

 

Which made him wonder – had that been why he had been so interested in Jim from the beginning? Had he been harbouring an attraction to the man all this time, one kept secret even from himself? Spock could not answer.

 

Therefore, it was becoming clear that his lack of interest in the act of sexual intercourse to this point had been due almost entirely to a lack of proper circumstances. And, thus, that these were apparently the perfect circumstances for this interest to arise.

 

Spock spared a few moments to feel a subdued but profound sense of regret. Although the situation had been unpleasant he had no doubt that, had it been slightly different, the experience could have been remarkably enjoyable. Part of him – a surprisingly large part, but an irrelevant one – wished he could repeat the experience. However, the idea was frankly impossible to the point of being ridiculous – not only was it dangerous both to his reputation and to his friendship with Jim, the awful feeling that accompanied the experience should have been enough to dissuade Spock on its own.

 

And so Spock was left with the question of what to do.

 

Firstly and most obviously he could cease his chess games with Jim entirely. However, that idea was quickly discarded. Their games together served a valid purpose quite apart from any sexual stimulation Spock might receive from them – they were greatly helpful in the construction of his and Jim's friendship and gave them both a safe, comfortable situation in which to communicate with one another. Furthermore, Spock...enjoyed them. He enjoyed them in a way he had not enjoyed chess for some time. Perhaps he was reacting emotionally but he could not find it logical to deliberately destroy something he valued so highly.

 

Another option would be to move their scheduled chess games from the recreation room to Spock's quarters. Although this would not remove the cause it would greatly lessen some of the unpleasant consequences. He would not have reason to fear someone accidentally viewing his unintended erection and it would not appear unusual to wish to remain seated at his chess table within his own quarters for a time after a game. However, Spock instinctively rebelled at the idea. He was unsure if he and Jim could be considered close enough friends to arrange meetings in such an intimate setting and even if they were the unexplained shift would surely cause questions. Furthermore, it would not answer his problem but merely side-step it to be considered later.

 

A small, quiet part of Spock, upon hearing these reasonings, wondered whether maybe they were a bit weaker than his very logical mind normally stood for. However, upon quickly viewing the evidence (most of it, anyway), Spock could not conceive of any reason why he would prefer to take his chess games with Jim out in public, and thus he immediately pushed the idea to the side and refused to consider it again.

 

Therefore, there was only one solution Spock could see that would help his position. He had never had any difficulties before Jim had beat him today. Therefore, if he ensured it that Jim was never again able to overcome him it was likely that his problems would not reappear. He would spend the next week before they played again researching and studying and practising advanced chess techniques until he was well beyond Jim's abilities.

 

Not only was it objectively the best plan Spock could conceive of it was also the one which enthused him the most. As he turned on his computer and began to think on what sort of strategies he should search for he felt a slight shudder overtake his body. He made a mental note – he would also, of course, engage in as strict meditation as was possible in order to regain control over his physical body.

 

Yes, he would regain control so that the next time he played Jim if, somehow, despite Spock's frantic studying and best efforts, Jim was still able to best him in this show of wits, he would be able to control his necessary reaction and would not be forced to experience that same level of humiliation again.

 

Yes, Spock thought, as he observed with some despair his already re-tented trousers, physical control was exactly what he needed.

 

*

 

If Spock's last game with Jim had been an intensely mental experience, this one was its equivalent on the physical plane. Spock found himself aware of his own body and the world of his senses to a degree greater than he had ever before felt. As he and Jim sat down, he felt the hard plastic of the chair beneath his buttocks and the slight anticipatory tingle in his penis. When Jim smiled and laughed, he detected nuances in the sight and sound he would never earlier have noticed, as well as the increased salivation in his own mouth. When Jim's foot accidentally pressed against his own ankle, he calculated the exact level of pressure involved, and the exact level of increase in his heartbeat.

 

Every detail, every tiny minute observation, was carefully catalogued in the back of his mind. His memory, already near eidetic, was saving information to a near photographic rate.

 

True concentration was impossible.

 

There was too much filtering through his mind, too many pointless, irrelevant things he was noticing. The way Jim's fingers rubbed faintly up and down his rook as he placed it on queen's level E7. The way Jim's tongue darted out briefly from between his lips as he contemplated a strange move Spock had made. The way Spock's trousers were becoming increasingly and uncomfortably tight.

 

His emotions, too, were far too swift-moving for Spock's control. He was barely able to categorise one before another entered him, even more intense than the last. And yet, above it all were two distinct feelings that Spock could not, whatever he did, vanquish – irredeemable arousal and overwhelming humiliation.

 

The first time the skin of his penis had prickled he had taken a deep breath and ignored it. He had forgone sleep for the past week in favour of meditation, concentrating almost entirely on maintaining his physical control. He would be able to do this. He should be able to do this. He was a Vulcan male close to sexual maturity (if, indeed, he ever reached the biological event of that at all) and should have been able to will down bodily reactions with little effort.

 

And yet he began to slip. Jim's opening moves were fast and decisive and Spock was immediately pummelled with memories of their last match. His shame at becoming so easily distracted had not dissuaded his burgeoning erection, which had, in turn, demanded Spock's focus away from his own strategies and onto admiring Jim's creative mind and attractively full lips. The more distracted he became the more aroused he became, which further increased his distraction. In turn, the more distracted and aroused he became, the more ashamed he felt, which further increased his distraction, and...

 

Jim swallowed as he placed a pawn to rook's level b7, tilting his head slightly to the side. His eyes flickered quickly over Spock's form before returning to the board. Spock's pulse increased, his erection straining – had Jim noticed his lack of focus? Even worse, had Jim noticed his arousal? Had he detected the dilation of Spock's pupils, the faint but to Spock's nostrils distinct scent of the precome staining a spot into his underwear?

 

However, despite his phenomenal loss of control, despite his extreme distraction, his meditation had paid off. Spock was undeniably aroused and his genitals betrayed this, but his reaction was not total. His arousal did not overcome him and his erection was, for the most part, not particularly noticeable. It was a small victory.

 

The game was slowing to a close, and far, far quicker than any other game he and Jim had ever played. As the end drew near, Spock's resolve weakened ever further. He was going to lose. Of course he was going to lose! Jim was sitting before him with that incredible mind of his – he'd never stood a chance. All of his studying had been for naught. How could his skill compare with Jim's?

 

Furthermore, he was failing – failing himself, and failing the Vulcan race. Even now it was still a massive struggle to contain himself and his arousal. It was no wonder he was to lose when this, apparently, was the extent of his personal ability. It was merely inevitable.

 

Closer and closer Jim came. All strategy abandoned Spock – all he could focus on was each individual move, combating Jim's lightning-fast reactions with the greatest degree of thought he could stand. Almost instantly he fell into a trap, and yet he did not notice until his next move. Turns, he was merely turns away from the end, his breath quickening as Jim dealt the final blows. Spock moved his bishop to knight's level e5; Jim moved his pawn to f5, taking one of Spock's pawns. Filled with an emotion he had not the opportunity to name, Spock moved his king a square to the right – king's level h8. He was close. He was so, so close.

 

There. Knight to bishop's level g6. Checkmate.

 

It was freefall. Pure adrenaline. That same impossibly intense, impossibly pleasurable feeling from before returned and more. Spock's eyelids fluttered, his thighs tensing, his tongue becoming lax in his mouth. Although he knew it to be physically impossible, he felt as though his spine were melting – no, his entire skeleton; he was only able to keep himself upright through the most rigid of muscles. His hands shook; the crotch of his trousers was amazingly tight.

 

And yet there was that awareness from before. He almost felt that he could sense every person in that room. Every time a set of eyes glanced over in his direction he could feel their attention like a brand across his skin, heat flaring through him. The everyday sounds and movements, rather than taking away from his mood, intensified it, as though the fact that this intensely debauched reaction had occurred in such an innocent place made it all the sweeter. Most of all, he could feel Jim's eyes on him watching him carefully, hesitantly. He was acting strangely and anyone paying attention could tell; Jim, at least, fulfilled this.

 

It felt awful. It was one of the worst feelings imaginable. Spock had felt shame before – such shame – but never in such a concentrated does. Never in such a self-catalysing manner. In these few moments his shame increased exponentially as it grew – shame for his sexual reaction, and further shame and greater reaction in turn.

 

It felt incredibly good. For seconds Spock was in a state of bliss, his feeling of humiliation so strong it lapped itself, turning around and becoming wonderful. Mental and physical planes battled and, somehow, strengthened one another, the fight continuing ever on.

 

It was such an amazing release. For so long his body had been in such a state of constant tension and surveillance that to finally, finally submit himself to this most physical reactions was the most luxurious experience he could have imagined. For that was what it was – utter submission, even to his own body, even to his own emotions.

 

He was harder than he had ever been before in his life – harder than he had been when he had played Jim last; far harder than he had ever been during any of his and Nyota's sexual experimentation – and for just a precious few moments he did absolutely nothing at all but enjoy it.

 

Reality came crashing down, and Spock blinked. Jim was still staring at him oddly; the recreation room still continued on around him, oblivious to its occupants' commanding officer's massively tented trousers. It was difficult to focus when the very facts which required his immediate attention were also the very facts most eager to direct his attention away. (A Human would have used the metaphor 'away from his brain and towards his penis'; Spock did not find it unfitting.) However, Spock was a Vulcan and a Starfleet officer and his greatest skill was not known to be his quick thinking for nothing.

 

“I concede, Captain,” he said finally, relieved to find his voice steady as he tipped his king over with his pointer finger. “You played most brilliantly.”

 

“And you didn't,” Jim responded bluntly. Spock contained the urge to flinch; somehow, the allowance of one extraordinary physical reaction had lowered his resistance to others. The thought of such openness made his penis twitch.

 

Jim's expression had softened. “Spock...what's wrong?”

 

The corners of Spock's lips twitched towards a frown. His breath was still coming heavily but it was slowing down by the second; Spock had achieved it before, he'd achieve it again, and would will his erection down before anyone would notice. He had to. Otherwise... No, he had to.

 

“I am uncertain what you are referring to. Please clarify.”

 

Clearly unhappy, Jim frowned. “Well. Never mind, then. Do you want to get a drink or something?” he asked slowly, eyes still watching Spock carefully.

 

Feeling the panic from the last time returning, Spock squashed it instantly, his gradually softening penis re-hardening at the emotion's influx. “I apologise, Captain, but I would prefer to remain here and observe our game. You may leave if you wish.”

 

Jim blinked, and then his eyes grew wide, expression shimmering with restrained understanding. Spock's thighs clamped together and any progress he had achieved on his arousal vanished in an instant as he found himself harder than ever. Did he know? Could he know? Did he know why, or did he just...

 

Before Spock's thoughts could run away from him, Jim smiled, almost totally natural. “Sure. I'll stay, too, I guess, keep you company? If you want?”

 

“The idea is not displeasing.” On one hand Spock would find it easier to regain control outside of Jim's presence; on the other, it seemed less suspicious to remain in his position if Jim did also.

 

“So, figured it out yet?” Jim asked with a small grin.

 

Spock quirked an eyebrow. “What, precisely, must I be 'figuring out'?”

Jim's grin widened. “How to beat me, of course!”

 

Spock's heart hammered wildly, but there was no other noticeable physical response. Pathetically, Spock felt proud. “I am, of course, in the process of doing so. However, my ideas will require testing in practice against yourself before I can consider myself to have determined an answer.”

 

“So that's what you were doing? Trying a new strategy?” Jim let out a confused laugh. “I dunno, maybe it was too smart for me, 'cause I didn't see anything.”

 

“Given that you were the eventual victor I would consider that unlikely,” Spock said dryly.

 

Jim shrugged. “Sometimes the smartest solution isn't always the best one. Chess is a lot about luck as well. And other things than just the smoothness of your tactics.”

 

“Indeed,” Spock said, comforted by the normality of their conversation. Although it was distracting him from his attempts to control himself it also distracted him from the emotions which necessitated this control, and it affected the latter far more than the former. “If one is unable to anticipate one's opponent's likely thought process and strategies one's own are unlikely to be successful.”

 

“There are always other variables to consider. Like life, really.”

 

Spock frowned, struck by a thought. “And yet despite this a competent chess player must be aware of the importance of logic and of thinking ahead. Although one can never anticipate all possible variables and it would be unreasonable to attempt to do so, it is almost as unreasonable to consider none.” He looked at Jim. “This would seem to be somewhat at odds with your normal method of thinking.”

 

Jim made a face. “Um, how? Do you think I never think things through or something? I mean, I know I tend to leap into things sometimes, but I'm not an idiot.”

 

“I did not mean to imply you were,” Spock replied quickly, instantly apologetic. “I was merely referring to your respect for 'intuition' – the process of acting on internalised beliefs without logical consideration of them – which you have expounded upon on many occasions.”

 

“Sometimes?” Jim looked less unhappy now, more thoughtful. “But usually when there isn't time to think things through properly.”

 

“But is it not more logical to consider some concepts logically than none?”

 

“But isn't intuition kinda logical, too?” Jim fiddled with a pawn. “Humans – Vulcans too, I bet – take in all sorts of sensory stuff that they don't always consciously realise. Intuition allows us to access that.”

 

“Then intuition is perfectly logical...provided that all information accessed truly originates from the outside and not inner prejudices and biases.”

 

“Logical thinking is subject to bias as well.”

 

“That is false equivocation – the very nature of logical thinking is designed to combat bias. It is imperfect, but it is surely better than a process which encourages it.”

 

Jim leaned back. “Well, I don't know about you, but mostly my intuition is correct.”

 

Spock raised an eyebrow. “Can you ascertain that objectively? How can you know that your perception of the results is not also tampered with bias? If you use intuition to judge intuition then clearly there is a flaw.”

 

“Can you use logic to judge logic, then?” Jim shot back.

 

“Logic is internally consistent, based on basic principles. Therefore, I would argue yes.”

 

“But what motivates you to accept those basic principles? Isn't it just a feeling that they have to be correct? Or even a justification that if these aren't correct a whole bunch of shit has to be wrong? And don't say that intuition is the same – intuition is based on the premise that judgments based outside of logic are reasonable, so it's perfectly sensible that it be based on that, too.”

 

“No Vulcan would refuse to accept a fact simply because it would mean other facts are wrong. It may be persuasive evidence if the other facts are well-observed and proven, but it would never be absolute.” Spock frowned. “The question of basic principles is one of philosophy, not logic. As such, I am not educated enough to answer your question.”

 

Jim nodded slowly. “Don't you wonder, though?”

 

Spock let out a small puff of air. “Of course. I am always wondering, always asking questions, as all Vulcans and scientists. However, it is neither possible nor healthy to devote all of my time to answering questions with no practical purpose. There is a value in that, but not so high a one.”

 

“What if you found out that there was no good philosophical basis for your basic principles?” Jim asked, with apparent genuine curiosity. “Would you stop believing in logic?”

 

Spock considered that. “No. As you, I have observed positive results when I apply logic. However, I am confident that there would be, even if we cannot at present discern it. As a follower of Surak, I believe that there is an inherent, completely internally consistent process of logic that exists independent of sentient understanding. I believe that that is what we discover when we study logic. I could, perhaps, be persuaded out of my belief with sufficient evidence in favour of logic being unreliable, but a lack of evidence that it was reliable could never be enough.”

 

Inexplicably, Jim was smiling with almost triumph. “You don't believe in the no-win logical scenario!”

 

Spock resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Instead, he quirked an eyebrow again. “I most expressly do not. Did I not just state that I could conceive of a situation in which I cease believing in the importance of logic?”

 

“But it's not worth considering, 'cause it could still always be right. And that's what you focus on, what drives you forward.”

 

“Of course I consider it; there are always possibilities, in everything. There are, however, cases in which the probability is so low that it is not worth considering.”

 

“So logic must be right, 'cause all the other possibilities are basically worthless?” Jim shook his head and continued before Spock could reply. “Face it, we're more alike than you'll admit!”

 

Spock blinked. “Why would I not admit that you and I are alike? We are similar in many ways, Captain.”

 

Jim looked at him strangely. “Really? Right. Of course.”

 

A somewhat stilted silence arose as both men struggled to find something to say.

 

“Well, I guess I'll go now. Come with?” Jim finally said.

 

Spock turned his attention inward. Surely over time his erection had subsided? It could not have held even while Spock had been keeping close all other physical reactions?

 

To his disappointment, he found that it was not only Jim's intelligence regarding chess that could sexually stimulate him; philosophical debate, apparently, could also work effectively.

 

With a mental sigh, Spock shook his head. “It appears that further observation of our last match could give an indication as to why I failed so utterly in my attempt.”

 

Jim chuckled. “Well, hopefully! I actually like playing you when you're at your best, y'know.” With a small wave, he left.

 

It was lucky that Spock, as a Vulcan, was always able to retreat into his mind and spend his time in thought, or the extra time he spent before the chess board might have been unproductive and boring.

 

*

 

Well. That had been surprising. On a number of different levels.

 

What with everything the Vulcans always said about being able to control their own bodies to ridiculous levels and all (a fact Jim had witnessed very well the unfortunately large number of times Spock had needed to enter a healing trance), he'd kinda thought maybe Vulcan dicks wouldn't be as susceptible to random hard-ons as Human ones. Not that he'd thought about it specifically, but if he had, he was sure he wouldn't have expected it.

 

'Cause that was pretty obviously what just happened. Jim was a guy, he got it. It happened. Especially when the guy in question wasn't getting any elsewhere, and from what Spock'd said during previous matches he somehow doubted that was happening. It seemed kinda weird that someone who'd professed to have little interest in sex would react like that, but boners weren't always sexual, after all. Besides, maybe that was what he meant? That he took care of his sexual needs well enough through jerking off and didn't need a partner?

 

Not that he'd bring it up, of course; Spock had quite clearly been pretty embarrassed about it. He sorta got that, too, even if it wouldn't really bother himself – probably he'd be blaming himself and his 'inadequate control' or some shit like that. He wondered if Vulcans taught their kids that if they got erections unintentionally it was their fault; he hoped not.

 

But that had been only mildly surprising. Vulcans don't quite measure up to what they claim to be, whoop-de-do, never seen that before. No, what had surprised him more than that was how hot the idea of it had been.

 

That wasn't a total surprise, either. Jim was bi. Very, very bi. And he'd been comfortable with that for a long time. He was definitely aware that he liked dicks. Which, of course, wasn't necessarily the same thing – he knew people who liked guys but weren't fond of dicks, or liked dicks but weren't fond of guys, and vice versa. But Jim? He loved dicks. Even more than boobs, maybe. So getting turned on by the idea of a guy having an erection was far from new to him, to exaggerate greatly.

 

Being attracted to Spock actually was a little new, though. He'd always known he was attractive in an objective sense, but he guessed he'd never really had much cause to think of him in a sexual sense. Sure, there'd been that kiss in the turbolift and that conversation they'd had the other day, but those cases were the exceptions that proved the rule. In both he'd had cause to think of Spock as a sexual being...but as an especially restrained, unmovable one. In the turbolift he'd barely moved, just stood there as Uhura kissed him; in their conversation, he'd outright admitted that he didn't think about sex much.

 

Which wasn't to say that he'd thought of him as lifeless or anything. Even from the beginning he'd never really believed McCoy's 'walking computer' jokes (and, he privately thought, neither did Bones by now), but there's a difference between knowing that a person feels emotions and thinking they'd be good in bed. And in Jim's experience emotional repression generally didn't contribute much to a fun bedroom experience. Maybe he'd been thinking about it wrong, though – the word the Vulcans used was 'control', wasn't it? Maybe they figured that in certain circumstances emotional expression was logical, and sex was one of those circumstances. In that case, seeing a Vulcan (well, okay, let's not kid himself – he was thinking about Spock, here) venting god-knows-how-long's stress and control into a single mind-blowing sexual experience could be kinda cool, really. (Did Vulcans think like that? He should probably find out before he got ahead of himself.)

 

Still, though, it'd been pretty obvious for a while that even if he wanted it sex with Spock it would be impossible. And while Jim wasn't arrogant enough to claim that he'd never wanted it from somewhere he knew he wasn't going to get it (even after Uhura had expressed her distaste for him rather firmly he couldn't have helped hoping right up until that whole transporter kiss thing) he tried not to do things like that. As long as shore leave kept coming he was not wanting for casual sex when he desired it, and outside of shore leave he didn't often have the time, anyway. He had no reason to moon after other people.

 

Spock, though, was a bit...different. Maybe it was because he hadn't known him as long as Bones so the whole 'like a brother to me' thing hadn't had time to set in yet, but something felt different about their relationship even accounting for that. It'd only been a few weeks since the Narada incident and everything that involved – which for any other two people probably would have murdered and buried any chance of an actual friendship – and yet they were getting along better than ever, and better than Jim got along with almost anyone else on the crew. They just kinda...fit together, in an odd sort of way. Different, yet similar. Complementary.

 

So Jim was understandably slightly terrified that this was going to turn into a Thing. Only slightly, though, 'cause come on – he got turned on by him once. That wasn't exactly the clearest sign of romantic intentions. It wasn't like Jim didn't get that from random people every now and then all the time.

 

No, the most surprising thing was rather different. It wasn't that Spock had had a hard-on or that it had turned Jim on. It was that that wasn't all that turned Jim on. What was even hotter to him – what made him pause even more – was how embarrassed Spock had been by it.

 

Now, Jim wasn't any stranger to kink, to exaggerate even more. If you could name it, chances were Jim had tried it, explored it, and come to a personal opinion about it with at least two genders, sometimes more. He liked sex, and he liked trying new things, and he especially liked when the two came together. So something as common as humiliation? Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Had enjoyed himself, too, and more than he did most kinks. It could be dark, yeah, but it could also be strangely light. You could make it about disgust and things like that, or you could make it about having a safe place to open yourself up entirely. It required a kind of trust greater than almost any other kink Jim had experienced – trust with a person's darkest secrets, feelings, and insecurities. Badly handled you could just encourage them and make them unhappy; handled well, and everyone comes out more confident and secure than before. It was pretty complex, and Jim had enjoyed the emotional manipulation involved.

 

But that had been different. That had been between two consenting people who knew exactly what was going on. This? Wasn't. Unless Spock had deliberately gotten hard in the middle of the rec room (which Jim somehow doubted) it hadn't been consensual, and he was pretty sure even Spock with all his powers of observation wouldn't have noticed that it had gotten Jim hot. He was, in other words, getting off on a genuinely uncomfortable and unhappy person, and that made Jim feel kinda like shit. It was wrong, and he'd try not to allow it to happen again, but it had happened. Sure, he couldn't be expected to completely control himself (especially if even a Vulcan couldn't) and he hadn't acted on it, but it still made him feel uneasy. He'd thought he'd been good at separating sex from real life. Apparently not so much.

 

Maybe he was being stupid. He didn't really find anything wrong with jerking off to Spock (not that he'd ever had reason to before today) even if he was fantasising about some pretty hardcore stuff. It was all sex, after all. But to use an event that Spock had clearly not enjoyed and hadn't consented to to jerk off? Yeah, that felt kinda screwed up, and not in a good way.

 

Jim sighed. Well, he doubted it'd ever happen again, anyway.

 

*

 

When Spock had studied as a child on Vulcan, his teachers had exercised many different measures to discipline a disobedient student. They had isolated him or her, forcing the child to meditate, which would assist him or her in the proper controlling of their emotions in the future. They would express their disapproval and explain, patiently and logically, why they would not achieve their intended goal through their actions. They would inform the child that their marks in school would be lowered in response to their unacceptable attitude. Physical violence was never used – Vulcans strongly disapproved the use of force, especially on children, who were more vulnerable physically, mentally, and in terms of authority. It was not deemed necessary - unlike Human children, Vulcan children were able to comprehend long-term consequences from a far younger age and so such declarations of short-term disapproval were unneeded.

 

However, by far the most effective weapon they had ever held over Spock was shame.

 

The attack was always deliberate and well thought-out – it was held that if a child reacted badly to such attempts, that in itself was a consequence of the child's poor ability to control their emotions. Once the child was able to control him or herself enough that the shame did not affect them, they would likely be able to control themselves in other areas of life. An added motivation, if you will. Control yourself or we will show you what can happen when you do not.

 

Unfortunately, Spock had never reacted quite the same way as his classmates. His Vulcan genes made it certain that his emotions were every bit as strong and deep as a full Vulcan's, but his Human genes ensured that his ability to control them was lacking.

 

Spock could not say even now how he preferred to be treated. It was too easy to claim that when he was capable of acting as a Vulcan he should be treated as one and should be treated as a Human or part-Human otherwise, but that side-stepped the question. By default, how should be be treated? Would he prefer to be punished for a genetic lack of ability beyond his control, or patronised and coddled, the full extent of his abilities never acknowledged or shown? All his life he had chosen the former, assuming that he would account for any disadvantages due to his Human genetics with extra work, but Spock was beginning to wonder whether there were not positives to the other approach as well.

 

But he had been expected to receive shame as a Vulcan, and that he had not done. He had not labelled the emotion, accepted it, and allowed it to exit him – instead, he had allowed himself to wallow in it, enabling the emotion to overpower and control him. He could not say how much of his inability to control his shame was due to his genetics and how much was a psychosomatic response to his knowledge of his genetics, but at the time that did not really appear an important difference.

 

Spock's life had not been defined by shame. His childhood, for the most part, had been tolerable, even content at times, with rare exceptions. However, this in itself ensured one thing – the most powerful emotions Spock felt as a child, had felt at all until Vulcan was destroyed, were almost always due to shame. He had felt anger, and sadness, and happiness, but almost none had ever had the all-consuming quality of his shame. Even when he felt extreme versions of other emotions, that had always come accompanied with a strong sense of shame. It was self-perpetuating – he felt shame, was unable to control it, and felt shame for that, as well. It was not the most common emotion Spock had ever felt, but until the Narada incident, it had been by far the strongest.

 

Perhaps, somehow, at some point, Spock had come to associate a certain defencelessness with it. He could not help his shame. Once it had started, it could not be stopped. If he attempted to control it his inability would only cause it to grow stronger; if he didn't, he could wallow in a depressed state for hours. It was unpleasant, but in a perverse sense, it was almost indulgent. It was the only emotion Spock could feel so strongly in such a pure form. It was wrong, and bad, but there was nothing Spock could do. He surrendered to the feeling. All that was to be done was to sit back and feel it.

 

*

 

When Spock had first found himself on the verge of puberty at 16, he had become interested in sex. How sexual drives manifested; why, evolutionarily speaking, people were generally attracted to certain things; why, personally speaking, people were attracted to certain things; what made one person feel pleasure from one sexual act and not another. In his research, he had attempted to compile a list of all the things Vulcans (and, slightly reluctantly, Humans) could be attracted to. After some time, however, he was forced to concede defeat – such a thing did not seem possible. Anything, it appeared, could be sexually stimulating under the right circumstances. However, by this point he had amassed a list of most common sexual fetishes.

 

One by one, he had thought about the fetish, and if he was interested, he had looked into it further, searching out why people were attracted to it, and under what circumstances. Soon he found himself doing such even for fetishes that instinctively repelled him, partly from curiosity, partly because he could not always tell immediately what appealed to him.

 

It was his intention that he create a working model of his own sexual preferences, so as to aid in self-pleasure and in satisfactory sexual experiences when he discovered a partner. It was not a bad idea, he admitted in retrospect, but it had failed at the time. Perhaps because of a lack of experience, or a too-dry tone, or simple teenage awkwardness, but his few attempts at masturbation had been disappointing. Furthermore, despite his great theoretical interest in the subject, he had never had a great desire to engage in the behaviour in reality, and so it had been many, many years before his first actual partner. By that point, his tastes had changed, and this combined with the great difference between fantasy and real sex made his report very unhelpful.

 

This was one of those cases when it had been completely incorrect.

 

Humiliation had been one of the kinks he had listed. He had felt an instinctive aversion to it and would have skipped it over had he not already found the value in researching everything. However, the more he read the more uncomfortable he felt. This fetish struck at him in a way that few others seemed to do. It crumbled his defences and left him irrationally paranoid for days that merely reading about others deliberately succumbing to their emotions would make himself unable to control his own. Shame was something that felt oddly personal to him. Even if it had not, there was something about the extent of his reaction to the idea that immediately repelled him. It made him shiver, look away, fidget. He forced himself to read on, and regretted it. When he finally deemed he had seen enough he wrote something to the effect of 'definite highly negative reaction', resolved never to think about it again, and moved on.

 

However, he had failed to make a very obvious connection. Among many Humans, and some Vulcans, the idea of taboo is itself sexually enticing. The idea of doing something 'wrong', that one is not supposed to, is a common cause of excitement. Similarly, the idea of doing something 'strange' or 'kinky' also arouses many people, such that it motivates them to engage in actions that would normally disgust them or embarrass them. He had forgotten to take this into account when reaching his conclusions, and he had forgotten the old Human adage that his mother had once repeated to him – love and hate are two sides of the same coin. The idea had repelled him greatly, but most of all that had betrayed an interest. If that interest could be turned around, re-directed for good, it had the potential to be the most sexually arousing thing he had ever experienced.

 

It appeared that was the case here.

 

He had no logical objectives to the idea. Although Vulcans strived for emotional control whenever possible, it was patently obvious that copulation was a circumstance in which one would not always be able to control themselves. Vulcan reactions to sex were generally dismissive – a physical necessity, one Vulcans were allowed to enjoy in healthy ways, and the only real restrictions related to matters of consent. Sexual fetishes were not derided – one cannot help what one is attracted to; kaiidth – and the enormity of sexual experiences universe-wide were honoured by the precepts of IDIC. The subject in general was spoken of frankly and without embarrassment, but not often, especially as it related to personal experience – it was still considered a private matter and Vulcans were very adamant regarding privacy.

 

So while Spock would never inform someone who was not his sexual partner of this predilection, he knew that he would not be thought badly of it if he were found out, by either his Vulcan or Human contemporaries. It would be embarrassing, yes, for all concerned, but that would be so regardless of what he had expressed sexual interest in.

 

And he knew, of course, that sexual interest in an emotion in one situation did not betray sexual interest in all possible situations. He did not believe for a moment that he had become aroused when he had become overwhelmed and attacked Jim in front of the bridge and his father during the Narada incident. Possibly there were other factors to take into account – a feeling of safeness, perhaps, despite the apparent risk. Jim's presence. There could be many variables.

 

However, what Spock knew most of all was that this behaviour could not continue. Firstly, it was dangerous – while he tended to exaggerate in the heat of the moment, there was a definite possibility that someone would discover his state as long as he remained in the rec room. While it would not be completely unbearable if someone were to merely discover that he was erect, it would be if they knew that he was aroused, particularly to the extent that he truly was. That kind of humiliation would definitely fall under the heading of nonsexual. To feel sexual arousal for the reasons he did under normal circumstances was no reason for shame, but even this would cause him embarrassment if it were found out by others. Given that the circumstances were anything but normal, he could consider the embarrassment doubled.

 

Furthermore, it felt...unethical. He was achieving sexual pleasure from the Captain without his consent. Would he have wished Jim to do similarly?

 

Spock frowned; clearly he had asked the wrong question. Mental images of his Captain returning to his quarters and fingering the cock that had been hard since he'd first realized Spock's discomfort assaulted him; he ignored them. Regardless of sexual appeal, he would probably feel uncomfortable. Would he?

 

Ah, but there was his feeling again. Since this new discovery of Spock's he had been unable to pay due attention to the control of his feelings of attraction and affection for Jim; as such, they had grown. He wished he could devote a length of meditation time to seeing to this issue, but he could not afford to. Instead, it was growing. Spock wished he had not procrastinated earlier and removed this unfortunate connection before.

 

And that was the real problem. He did not believe that a relationship between himself and Jim was either likely or wise, but had he not said that possibilities always existed? Furthermore, he would still wish for himself and Jim to remain friends even if they could not become lovers. Could they do so if Jim discovered that Spock had been deliberately becoming sexually aroused due to his chess playing skills and then from the resulting humiliation of being erect in public? It was neither a general enough problem for Spock to feel qualified making a guess about nor something he could conceivably ask another crewmember for advice about.

 

Additionally, if they did form a relationship, how would Jim react to his predilections? What if he had no interest in fetishes of this nature? Spock liked to believe that he would be a sympathetic, generous lover to Jim or any other partner, but he could deny that he had never achieved noticeable sexual response from any other situation. Perhaps it would be different with Jim. But he had heard that true fetishes, in which a person was only able to respond sexually to a specific stimulus, were not uncommon. He did not wish that to be himself. It would be cruel to finally receive Jim's heart only to have it lost due to his too narrow realm of sexual response.

 

The ideal, of course, which Spock barely allowed himself to consider, involved a Jim who was very much interested in both kinds of sexual play. A Jim who enjoyed seeing Spock flustered and uncomfortable; enjoyed demonstrating his intelligence before intercourse. However, that was too unlikely to be considered. While the former was possible, the latter was unlikely – sexual response due to intellectual stimulation was very rare among Humans, and often treated as a joke.

 

Therefore, Spock would have to find a way to curtail his behaviour.

 

The obvious answer was still to end their games altogether. However, Spock was still hesitant about this idea, and ultimately decided that he had a number of satisfactorily logical reasons not to. Their games were still important to communication and the building of their friendship, and were still significant in Spock's exploration of his Vulcan side and as a acceptable hobby which he enjoyed. They served many purposes.

 

In this way, the only logical response would be to ask that their games be reset within their quarters. Hopefully, the lack of a potential audience would severely curtail Spock's responses, and if not, the dangers were not nearly so great. Perhaps he and Jim were still not close enough for such an intimate setting, but Spock believed that they were close. At any rate, he did not believe that Jim would deny him.

 

However, Spock reasoned, would it not be suspicious to request that they reschedule a full week before their habitual matches? In fact, such a suggestion would seem strange at any point other than on the day. He must not appear as though he has thought carefully about this, and especially not that his decision is based on anything that happened during their most recent match. No, he would act natural and calm throughout the week, and then next Tuesday he would ask an off-hand question, and Jim would shrug and say something as vague and Humanlike as 'sure, whatever' and then, hopefully, most of Spock's problems would be gone.

 

In the meantime, he would continue to refine his personal strategies through research. For the purposes of retaining his sanity, however, he would not stop to consider Jim's tactics. That, and for the purpose of actually managing to be productive.

 

Not that his productivity was untouched even now. He found himself replaying that moment over and over in his head – that moment of shuddering release, of complete emotion. The memory horrified him – was that truly him, who had sunk so far as to be engaging in this behaviour simply for a brief moment of sexual ecstasy? - and yet drew him in ever further. He masturbated more than he had ever before, even without explicitly imagining what Jim would do next. It was such a brief period of time, and yet he found himself addicted, curious and ravenous and insatiable in his search to find it again.

 

Some part of him worried that already he had fallen too far. He had failed to resolve the issue, this part cried, and his attempted solution would not remove the problem, but merely potentially weaken it. Apart from that, he was acting exactly as he was before – searching vainly for more ideas and constructs to heighten his skill. Was he even, perhaps, doing this deliberately? Was he purposefully studying such that when Jim did manage to best him it was even more impressive?

Spock could not answer that question; he was far too busy on other matters.

 

*

A week passed and soon it became time again for their next chess match. Spock stayed quiet and subdued on the way there, searching for the right moment to suggest that they switch surroundings. Jim did not appear to notice; Spock had been finding that, as they grew closer, it was becoming more and more comfortable to simply remain in each other's presence without speaking. He had discussed this with Nyota previously and she had confirmed that to be a general trend among Human friendships. It was probably for this reason if Jim did not find it unusual for he and Spock to talk less than typical; if he did find it strange, he apparently did not find it interesting enough to mention.

 

Finally they reached the table and Spock steeled himself, aware that this was the moment he had been waiting for. However, before he could even open his mouth, Jim spoke.

 

“So, figured me out yet?”

 

Spock frowned mentally, momentarily confused. “Your words are imprecise, Captain.”

 

“I mean my strategy, of course.” He sat down, placing down the board he had held under his arm.

 

“In theory, I have many ideas which may prove successful. I will not know that they are, however, until they have proved themselves against you.”

 

“Well, I look forward to facing them!” Jim grinned, before gesturing with his head towards Spock's seat.

 

Nodding, Spock sat down, unease spreading through him as he realized that he had missed his opportunity. However, to request a shift now that they had both sat down and Jim had begun setting up would surely be perceived as strange, would it not? And that was the last thing that Spock wanted – for Jim to realize that Spock had been acting differently to normal and begin to wonder why. It was unlikely that he would reach the correct conclusion on his own, but if his suspicions led Jim to scrutinize Spock more carefully he might come to notice Spock's arousal.

 

Spock shook his head mentally. The fact that the idea was not entirely unpleasant was only another reason to avoid that scenario. What he had done so far had been mostly harmless, but if Jim did find out there would be real consequences that would surely be negative.

 

Unfortunately, Spock did not have a great deal of choice at this point. They were about to play and Spock had not yet come up with an adequate way of relieving or inhibiting his arousal.

 

He helped Jim set up the board. Well, he thought as he breathed in deeply, he would simply have to play as well as possible. If Jim could beat him regardless...

 

Kaiidth.

 

*

 

Something strange was going on, and Jim couldn't figure out what it was.

 

Last time they'd played chess Spock had been acting weirdly. He'd assumed he was just distracted about something – probably something big, given how worried he'd looked – and if Spock didn't want to talk about it, well, Jim wouldn't pry. Spock's explanation of trying out a new strategy had somewhat explained his atrocious game (although Jim still maintained that he couldn't figure out a pattern to what Spock'd done no matter how hard he tried) but hadn't explained his weird behaviour. But, whatever, he got that Vulcans were pretty private in general. After all, there was a lot about himself that he didn't want to share with, well, anyone. He couldn't help feeling a little hurt, but if he had to choose between Spock hiding an small thing from him unreasonably and Spock quite understandably hiding something huge from him... well, he'd hope for the former.

 

But Spock didn't stop acting weird once their game was done. In the week that had passed Spock had still seemed oddly distracted. He seemed to have less time than normal, too. He hoped that whatever was occupying Spock's thoughts wasn't something that would go on for too long – he kinda missed his friend.

 

Once their present game started Jim felt relieved – they seemed to be on an equal level again and Jim was actually having to think about what he was doing before he acted. At the beginning they were pretty much exchanging pieces at a rate of one to one, and at one point Spock even snagged one of Jim's bishops with only a pawn as sacrifice. Jim buckled down, glad to be able to play in earnest.

 

But as the match continued... something happened. Jim had no idea what, but all of a sudden, Spock started making mistakes. Stupid mistakes. Where before he had carefully observed the field before making a decision, firmly placing his pieces where they were to go, his movements became half-hearted, even off-hand. He was still taking time before he moved, but more and more his concentration didn't seem to be on the game. Once Jim was even beginning to wonder if he'd have to prompt Spock to move, he was taking so long.

 

He didn't understand it. Spock had been unfocused for a while, but never to the extent that he was showing in this game or the last. He was sure that in all the times they'd interacted since, on duty and off, Spock had never appeared so vague. What was it about chess? What had happened last week?

 

Was he losing interest? The idea was disappointing, but it did make a degree of sense. He'd hate to lose his weekly games with Spock, but if Spock didn't want to do it anymore, he was sure they could find something else to do together. It would definitely explain some things – Spock was playing badly because he didn't care if he won; he was nervous because he didn't want to hurt Jim by telling him the truth. Ultimately, though, it seemed more implausible than not – grandmasters didn't normally just wake up one day and decide they're sick of the game. It could be he was just tired of playing with Jim, which he could understand if he was still playing badly, but otherwise? This had started right when Jim had started playing well, and Jim refused believe that Spock was the kind of person who only liked playing games as long as he won. He'd seemed genuinely disappointed each time they'd played and he'd beat Jim easily. No, the facts didn't really fit. So what was it?

 

Normally at this point Jim would have shaken himself out of it, unable to play well and think about other things seriously at the same time. However, it was looking increasingly that playing well would not be a prerequisite to winning this game. He could probably be zoned out half the time and he'd still be paying more attention than Spock was. Why?

 

He looked at him carefully. He still looked nervous, but it was...odd. Like he was tense. Spock's eyes glanced at him, then immediately flickered away. He seemed almost embarrassed. He was practically squirming in his seat. It was so weird – his normally uptight, perfectly prim Vulcan first officer as uncomfortable as a shy cadet called on in class.

 

He had to admit, as bad as it made him feel, it was kinda turning him on.

 

And that was... oh.

 

Oh.

 

Oh...

 

He tried to get the idea out of his head but... fuck, but it didn't actually not made sense. It really kind of didn't actually not make sense a lot. Which... well. Fuck.

 

But that couldn't be it, right? His best friend and first officer couldn't actually be sitting in front of him with a hard-on, right? From a game of chess? From...him?

 

But it fit. It really, truly, mind-blowingly fit. Spock's distraction, his discomfort, the way he was avoiding his eyes and yet glancing towards him every time he thought he wouldn't be caught... Even the stilted way they'd interacted throughout the past week. Because Spock had gotten hard from playing chess with him.

 

Which, yeah, sounded kinda unbelievable. But if Jim had learned anything in his life it was that there was a truly infinite variety of ways of life out there, and that applied to sex more than anything else. Jim had always subscribed proudly to the law of Rule 34, and had never found any reason to doubt it. It even kinda made sense that Vulcans would be attracted to intelligence. And hadn't Spock said ages ago that intelligence was an important attractive feature to Vulcans? Plus, he found it kind of vindicating to figure out that, in the end, Vulcans were just as much obsessed with sex as every other species – all that preoccupation with intelligence and knowledge? Pure peacocking.

 

Most of all, though, it was the hottest thing he'd ever thought of.

 

And that said a lot. Jim had done a lot of things in his life and tried out more kinds of sex than most people could even imagine. But his (certainly good-looking) best friend sitting a metre away from him trying to hide a hard-on in his pants for Jim's amazing, incredible, irresistible... chess skills? Well, that was a new one. And one he was beginning to think it was one he could very much get used to.

 

His dick agreed, apparently. Which, yeah, was probably not a good thing. Hopefully anyone paying attention would just figure it was being uncooperative. Unless they realized that Spock was hard, too, which...would be kind of harder to explain, but that probably wouldn't happen?

 

It was kinda hard to think about that, though, when suddenly all he could think about was sliding off his shoe and rubbing Spock off under the table. He'd clam up, more turned on than he'd ever been, but he'd have to keep playing, 'cause Jim would be, too, have to keep acting like everything was normal, but Jim would know – he'd be able to see all Spock's little tells, from the quiet gasp he made to the way his hands would shake as he picked up a piece – and he'd know they shouldn't be doing this, that he should tell Jim to stop right then, but he'd be so desperate for it by that stage he'd be practically begging to come... and then he would, with a little whine that only Jim would hear, and he'd empty himself into his underwear right there in the middle of the rec room, embarrassed and shaking but more satisfied than he'd ever been...

 

And yeah, he was going to stop thinking about that. Right – right now.

 

He realized abruptly that several turns had passed without any input from his brain whatsoever. However, if his suspicions were correct, Spock wouldn't be faring much better. He took in a deep breath and tried to calm himself. There was no way he'd be able to walk out of there discreetly with an erection of the size he was sporting in his pants. He'd have to calm down before he could leave, and thinking about Spock doing the exact same thing less than a metre away from him wasn't exactly helping. He'd think about all of this later – right now, he'd concentrate on chess to distract himself.

 

And really, now that he thought about it, no wonder Spock was unfocused. If he concentrated on chess he got turned on – to bring himself back down again, he'd have to think about something else. Poor guy.

 

And, yeah, he'd get to that not thinking part now.

 

Eventually, their game finished in a stalemate – although Jim had been paying attention for the beginning and ending, the damage from the middle of the game had been done. He'd mostly gotten himself under control (or, at least, enough to be a lot more subtle about it) and didn't feel nearly so much like he was physically incapable of abstract thought, which was a good sign.

 

Deciding instantaneously that it'd probably be a better idea if he acted like everything was normal at least until he could figure out how to respond to all this, Jim grinned. “Well, it partially worked, I guess.”

 

Spock raised an eyebrow. Jim had to admit, while he wasn't panting over every piece Jim put down, he was pretty good at pretending nothing was wrong. Well, he supposed, that was what being a Vulcan was all about, wasn't it? “'It', Captain?”

 

Resisting the urge to make a joke about 'doing it' (which would really, really not be in anyone's best interests right now), Jim obligingly clarified. “Your strategy. Worked better than last time, anyway.”

 

“So it appears.” Spock paused, and Jim suddenly felt nervous, even though he knew there was no way Spock would bring up Jim's own poor performance, if he'd even noticed. “However, as it failed to achieve the desired outcome, it was, on the whole, a failure.”

 

Jim shrugged. “I guess. We'll just have to have a rematch next week, then!”

 

“We play every week, Captain, regardless of the results of each match.”

 

“All the more reason!” Spock was giving him that look he always got when he had no idea what Jim was doing but, despite himself, was kinda amused by it anyway. It heartened Jim greatly to see something so familiar from him.

 

“I see.”

 

“Yeah.” Okay, this was getting awkward. What did they normally talk about? 'Cause Jim was okay, pretty much, but he got the feeling Spock still wasn't, and just leaving him like that felt mean. “So, you and Uhura been working on anything lately?”

 

Spock shook his head. “Regrettably, I have been busy of late and have not had the opportunity to practise with Nyota recently.”

 

Right, that. He guessed that had to do with Spock's whole thing, although precisely how that worked out somewhat bemused him. What, had he just been too busy jerking off or something?

 

Not thinking. Yes.

 

“But once you're done, what'll you be doing?”

 

Thankfully, Spock actually seemed pleased. “We are working together to translate an old Romulan piece of music and song. It will be sung in the original language when we are complete, of course, but we both find it extends our understanding of the way it is intended to be played to determine what it is about.”

 

“What's it about so far, then?”

 

“It appears to be a patriotic tale of a legendary battle headed by the hero, Dhivael, and her first, Kaol...”

 

It was actually pretty interesting – Jim had always been interested in other cultures, and the Romulans in particular were quite intriguing, especially when compared to the Vulcans. It turned out the story was quite similar to the sort told in ancient, pre-reform Vulcan. The music was even meant to be played by an instrument quite alike Spock's own Vulcan lyre, which had been one of the reasons he and Uhura had chosen it.

 

Jim listened intently, asking thoughtful questions at appropriate times, and when the conversation began to wind down found he had enjoyed himself. He was almost tempted to keep talking, but he knew that sitting down and thinking about everything that had happened was his first priority.

 

“Well, that was fun, Mr. Spock. We should do it again some time!” He stood up, stretching. Spock, however, hadn't taken his cue, and stayed sitting down. Really? Still? Refusing the temptation to glance downwards, he looked away. “Well, see you next Tuesday!” he said with a hasty wave and left.

 

*

 

The first thing Jim did once he got back to his room was jerk off. He still wasn't entirely sure of the ethics behind it, but the knowledge that Spock would probably be doing the same thing made him feel a lot better about it.

 

Plus? It was fucking hot.

 

So. Thoughts.

 

Firstly, had Spock noticed that he had figured him out? He was tempted to say yes – Spock was generally very observant and Jim had no compunctions that he'd been subtle. However, that didn't seem right – if he thought Jim knew he was in such an embarrassed position, surely he'd have been far more humiliated? And yet he had still been able to carry on a pretty normal-feeling conversation immediately after. Maybe he'd been so distracted he hadn't noticed, or he had noticed but Jim had acted well enough that he'd decided that Jim hadn't figured it out after all, or maybe he'd suspected but had found the idea so awful he'd convinced himself it couldn't be true. That last one didn't sound much like Spock, but he wouldn't have found himself in this position at all if Spock had been acting like normal.

 

So Spock got off on playing chess with Jim. Jim knew this. Spock, it seemed, did not know that. If Jim was going to think about this, now would be the best time to do it.

 

First...what the fuck was this?

 

Seriously. Jim had had it all figured out – Spock was his friend, and kind of attractive maybe, but not enough to really concern him. Only then it turned out he was. And then it turned out that Spock was not only extremely attractive but, apparently, extremely attracted to him. Meaning that actually getting into bed with him was not actually so impossible.

 

Or was it? Spock said sex was important within the context of a relationship but not otherwise, which kinda implied he wasn't all for casual sex. But that had been before, hadn't it? Before Spock had seemed uninterested in sex altogether, but if today had shown him anything it was that Spock was very interested in sex to at least some extent. Or did it? Maybe Spock did get turned on by stuff but just didn't have any interest in getting it from other people. Maybe this wasn't even anything all that unusual for him. Maybe he got hard-ons playing chess all the time. Maybe it didn't have anything to do with Jim at all.

 

That...actually kinda hurt a bit to think about. He didn't like to admit it but he liked Spock - a lot. He liked the idea of Spock becoming so extremely flustered just for him, and not just because Jim himself was feeling it in turn.

 

He wanted to sleep with him. He really wanted to sleep with him. In as many and varying combinations as he could come up with. Fuck, but it could be great – Spock with that pale green blush growing over his cheeks, down his chest...

 

And...and maybe he actually also kind of sort of wanted to do other things with him. Relationshippy things.

 

Jim had never really had many relationships. It wasn't from any conscious decision to isolate himself so much as it was him taking pretty much the same position as Spock had on sex – he just wasn't that interested in it. He had sex, and quite enjoyable sex for the most part. He'd had friends, especially once he started at the academy. What else could he need a boyfriend or girlfriend for? He barely had enough time to account for hanging out with friends and getting laid working around the truly ridiculous amount of study work he heaped upon himself – there was no way he'd've had the time to devote himself to a relationship. And, most of all, he'd just never really met all that many people he wanted to get together with like that. He'd always tried to separate sex from friendship so he tended to keep a thick dividing line in his mind. If someone was attractive, he fucked them and didn't try to take it any further. If they were interesting and didn't seem attracted to him, he'd be their friend and refuse to consider them otherwise. If people switched over it was almost always him fucking someone from tentative friendship zone into sex zone, which would usually change their relationship enough that it'd be a permanent change. He'd never really had a situation where a good friend of his – a really, truly, deeply good friend – had both suddenly become both attractive and attracted to Jim around about the same time.

 

And he was kinda terrified about that.

 

He couldn't even really look at the only two real relationships he'd ever had because in both cases the situation had been completely different. Janice Lester had attracted both his interest and his dick with her passion and enthusiasm for reaching the top no matter what it took, but once they'd gotten closer and it had become increasingly apparent that she not only blamed Starfleet for every failure of hers but Jim, too, for the horrible crime of being male he'd shut it off pretty quickly. Carol Marcus he'd met when Gary had set them up (which Jim had been very ambivalent about at first but had changed his mind once he actually met her) but while they'd had quite a fun time together they'd realized pretty quickly that their diverging paths would set them apart pretty quickly and ended things before they got too attached. Which might even have been a good memory if she hadn't commed him over a year later telling him he was a father and that she never wanted him to see his own son. And then laughed at him when he suggested they marry. (Which had been a stupid thing to say, yeah, but if there was one thing he had told himself every other night when he was a kid it was that he'd never, ever abandon a child of his.)

 

So Jim figured he was pretty justified in being worried. Janice had been crazy but there had been no real harm done; the news about David had hit him like a punch in the guts, but he and Carol had never been all that close anyway. What he stood to lose with Spock, while not necessarily more, was definitely different. And if Spock's older counterpart was right, he very well might end up losing much more than that.

 

But could he actually see himself in a relationship with Spock? Would it work? It wasn't all that obvious that it wouldn't. Spock was smart, good-looking, kind, funny (although the man'd never admit it)... Even though, as a whole, he was completely different to the kind of person he ever thought he'd end up with, each individual quality fit him perfectly. They already knew they could work together on duty and as friends. And Jim was getting a lot of evidence so far that sex wouldn't be a problem.

 

Maybe he was getting ahead of himself, though. Hadn't he and Uhura only broken up a few weeks ago? He didn't even know how long they'd been dating before the Narada incident – maybe they'd been going out a year before that! No, wait – Spock had said it was a sexual incompatibility, and surely it wouldn't take a year to figure something like that out? Unless Vulcans were really strict about sex and had to wait a while before doing anything? He'd said once that there were other reasons why he wouldn't want to join him going to a strip club, maybe that was what he was getting at?

 

Ugh, he just did not have enough information to make a decision here.

 

...he needed to do some research.

 

*

 

A week passed and Jim still had no fucking clue what he was going to do. As expected, Vulcans revealed just as much detail to the general public on the subject of sex and relationships as they did on every other aspect of their lives – fuck-all. Meaning that Jim still had no goddamn idea whatsoever what he'd be getting into if he they tried this thing out, or even if Spock might be amenable to the idea at all, anyway. Hell, he didn't even know if Spock was attracted to men – how could he be sure Spock's arousal earlier hadn't been in spite of him rather than because of? He'd already said that Vulcans could feel same-sex attracted, but had sneakily avoided saying definitively whether he was one of those that could. It was so like Spock he could cry.

 

If there was one thing he knew, though, it was that he would most vehemently not be unhappy to see Spock in action again, so to speak. If all else failed, at least he had that to look forward to.

 

“Been getting ready, Spock?” he teased, placing the board down as they sat.

 

“I believe I have prepared myself adequately.”

 

Jim resisted the urge to giggle. “Awesome. Even if it's not gonna work.”

 

Spock raised an eyebrow. “Need I remind you, Jim, that our current score stands at 7 to 2? If the past is any indication...”

 

“7.5 to 2.5,” Jim corrected with a grin. “Draws count for half.”

 

Spock looked distinctly unimpressed, quite possibly the only expression that rivaled blankness for omnipresence where Spock was concerned. Jim couldn't help but laugh.

 

Spock was still acting pretty normally. Maybe he'd gotten himself together and it wouldn't happen again? Jim distinctly hoped not. No, he'd acted pretty similarly last time, too. Maybe he was just a fucking good actor, and the fact that Jim'd noticed he was aroused at all had been just that huge a testament to how turned on he was.

 

Jesus, maybe he wouldn't even need Spock to get him hard this time. God damn it. If this thing with Spock didn't work out he was getting laid, fast.

 

He couldn't help being a little anxious, though. As they began to play he tried to focus as much as usual but it was difficult when every turn he found himself sneaking glances at Spock wondering when it'd start. Was that a twitch he saw just then? Was that a blink, or were his eyelids fluttering? Was he becoming unfocused, or was he simply taking his time considering his next move?

 

And what about Jim himself? Was he starting to fall under it?

 

But even as curious as he was, he was determined not to let it affect him too deeply. Apart from not wanting Spock to realize he knew – both because he would have to make a response which he was unprepared for and because it would surely humiliate the Vulcan – he was sure that Spock's reaction had been caused by their games of chess. Since it hadn't happened until he had beat him, that seemed to be the point of the matter. If he played too badly, it wouldn't happen at all.

 

So he went all out, weaving through strategies and setting up the board like he was painting a picture, shifting and undulating his pieces back and force with every move of Spock's, abandoning plans the instant they became unlikely and re-evaluating with every move. He knew how to do it. He knew Spock's weaknesses. And Spock didn't.

 

Finally, just as Jim was beginning to wonder whether he'd imagined it all, it happened. Spock's breathing became deeper – such a subtle difference he would not have noticed at all if he hadn't basically set his brain to alert him at the slightest changes in Spock's status. He pursed his lips together, straightening his posture, adjusting his seat. Exactly the sort of habit common to Humans – not indications of restlessness or nervousness but simply life, which one would be more discomforted to find non-existent than present. But in a Vulcan, it was downright unusual.

 

It was funny how the subtlety almost made it hotter. Spock was obviously trying to hide it – the fact that it slipped through his control anyway made it all the better. It hinted at a deeper arousal than Jim could see, that only Jim knew about, the extent of which Jim could imagine very well himself. That it was happening in public made it so much more delicious, and that it was happening over something as innocent and sexless as chess made Jim shift in his own seat. He'd always had a thing for perverting otherwise totally pure things – sex in strange places, sex with everyday objects, ageplay role-play – and this was hitting every spot of that. Chess, for fuck's sake! He'd never be able to look at a board again without remembering. If Spock was this turned on by a game of chess, imagine what he'd be while Jim was fucking his brains out...

 

No - chess. Play it. Beat it. Win it. Make Spock so fucking hard he almost comes in his pants.

 

Now that was a motivation he could go for.

 

So he played, and he played, and he played, until it was a foregone conclusion – he had won. Still he refused to be distracted, was determined to see the game through. It wouldn't happen until he won.

 

Bishop to bishop's level d4.

 

Checkmate.

 

He looked up.

 

There it was. Spock's cheeks were stained a pale but noticeable green; his fingers were shaking just slightly on the table; his eyes were half-lidded. Most of all, he was staring at Jim with the most intense expression he had ever seen. It was as though nothing, literally nothing, existed in this world at the moment other than Jim. As though Spock wished for nothing more than to look at him like this, couldn't bear to look away. The sheer emotion in that gaze hit him like a truck.

 

Instantly, he was hard. More than anything else – more than his parted lips, his heavy chest, the way his fingertips were petting lightly at the tabletop – this look was the sexiest thing Jim had ever seen. It tore through him, pushing right into him, sending shivers throughout his entire body. It was...

 

And then Spock's eyes widened, his lips parting further. He continued to stare, but the emotion was changed, different – it was... realization. And then embarrassment, discomfort, fear. But the lust was unchanged. It was multiplied, it increased exponentially, until Jim felt like he was on fire with want.

 

And that was when Jim realized that they were both the stupidest people ever to exist.

 

He wanted to laugh. Thankfully, he wasn't quite stupid enough to not know that would be a terrible idea, so he swallowed and nodded and leaned in closer. Spock stayed where he was, frozen in his seat, body shivering.

 

“You and I,” Jim murmured, almost silently for Humans but clearly audible for a Vulcan and damn near a shout given the tension between them. “Are going to go to my quarters. And then I am going to fuck you senseless. Does that sound like a good idea?”

 

The heat in Spock's eyes increased and he shuddered again, tightening his body ever further. “I – I cannot...”

 

“I can wait.” With that, Jim leaned back, glancing at the ceiling. “So it's a deal?”

 

The silence, already electrified, threatened to strangle Jim for several moments. And then -

 

“Yes.”

 

*

 

The minutes that followed were the longest Spock had ever felt. Of course, it was illogical to imply that a certain length of time could be longer or shorter under normal circumstances, but Spock was certain that between the moment when Jim spoke to him and the time when he was able to control himself once more the Enterprise had travelled into a region of space where time did not flow as it did in Federation space. It was the only logical explanation for what he was feeling.

 

Emotions battled within him, whirling and fighting and dying and winning and being pushed aside and leaping to the fore. Desire and humiliation and awe and joy and many more he could not possibly name, let along acknowledge and control as Vulcan principles dictate that he did.

 

Well. A certain segment of Surakian followers – a segment he had been increasingly drawn to of late – argued that emotions were to be controlled in many, but not all circumstances. And if this was not a situation in which Spock felt it desirable to simply feel he was not entirely certain he knew when that would come about.

 

Unfortunately, he was not able to let go yet, not just yet. He was still in the middle of the recreation room. Crewmembers still milled about beside him – crewmembers whose respect was imperative to his career. Not yet. No, not yet.

 

But when they returned...

 

No! Calculate Spun's principle of trans-warp acceleration taking into account the dimensions of the Enterprise!

 

He must concentrate...

 

Finally, after an agonizing time that Spock did not wish to acknowledge, he was in control. He returned Jim's gaze and, thankfully feeling only a mild explosion of heat in his stomach, nodded. Jim nodded in turn, and together they rose from the table. Jim, Spock noticed, was still half-erect. Averting his eyes instantly lest he forget himself, he stalked forwards, Jim following.

 

In silence they walked, giving only perfunctory nods to passing crewmen. Spock was certain that they must have been acting very unusually but there was a limit to what he found himself capable of caring about at that time.

 

They entered the turbolift alone and Spock was struck with the fervent belief that Jim would turn to him then and there, halt the lift, and kiss him, before attempting to bring him to climax before the automatic alarm started and an engineer came to check. The idea made him shiver but, to both his relief and his disappointment, Jim did not even glance in his direction.

 

They landed on the Officer's deck and began to walk towards the Captain's quarters, their gait having noticeably increased; by the time they reached the door Jim was almost jogging. He slammed the opener, walked inside, waited for the door to close, and then pushed Spock hard up against the bulkhead.

 

Instantly Spock let out a quiet groan, clutching his arms as tightly around Jim as he could manage, grabbing at anything he could hold onto to pull him closer. Jim pushed him back, his already rejuvenated erection pressing heavily on Spock's own desperate groin. Heat was all around him, but especially from Jim, whose higher body temperature felt very pleasant to Spock's constantly overcold skin. Their lips were smashed together, tongues twisting urgently. The wetness, the heat, the exquisite pressure in all the right places – Spock's hips bucked, rubbing furiously at Jim's.

 

They were still wearing too many clothes – oh, but what it would feel like to have that massively overheated skin on him, that tongue licking across him – but compared to what Spock had been through before it was still too much. He was more aroused than he'd ever been – more, even, than earlier when he had felt like he was going to burst, had seriously wondered whether he would find he was one of those rare Vulcans able to climax from intellectual stimulation and little else but had discarded the idea for fear that if he considered it too long it would come to pass – and Spock was barely aware of what he was doing, of anything else but this friction against his weeping penis, rubbing and pressing up against Jim's equally rock-hard erection. There was no vision, only temperature and feel and smell (ah, Jim smelled so wonderful) and sound, oh those wonderful sounds Jim was making, those intakes of breath, grunts and groans and – and he was returning them, wasn't he?

 

His mind was overwhelmed, it was too much – how was it possible that this much pleasure could exist at once? - and the day kept replaying itself in his brain – when Jim had beat him once again, despite all his relentless efforts to the contrary, had overcome him, beat him in a battle of wits, and once again he had found himself in such an untenable position, so aroused in public, more than ever before; and then he'd realized that Jim was looking at him weirdly, and oh god, he knew, he could tell, Jim was looking at him over the chessboard fully aware that Spock had been driven to near orgasm by him, and it was so humiliating to be read so easily like that, but Jim wasn't disgusted, he was turned on himself, and that was -

 

And then Spock was coming, unloading streams of come into his underwear through friction and thought alone, his hands clutching tight enough to tear at Jim's uniform shirt. But he did not notice, for there was heat – so, so much heat – and pleasure greater than he had ever known, and everything went white, and it was release, such utter release, the kind he had been waiting for since the first time Jim had uttered that fabled work 'checkmate', and he surrendered to it entirely, revealing himself fully for several impassioned moments.

 

Slowly, he came to, the world darkening and forming around him. Jim had stopped moving and was looking at him strangely – a look not dissimilar to the one he had given him over their board just a short while ago.

 

Spock shrunk, shuddering. But, of course, it was bad form among Humans to allow oneself to climax before seeing to one's partner's pleasure... and yet so quickly Spock hard forgotten this, had been driven so insane before they had even removed their clothing... A blush stole itself across Spock's cheeks, his chin ducking towards his chest. His shoulders tightened, drawing inwards.

 

“You know,” Jim murmured, pressing a hand to Spock's crotch and holding, rubbing the damp material of his underwear – damp with his own semen – against his oversensitive penis and causing Spock to shift not entirely from discomfort. He leaned in close to Spock's ear, licking lightly at the rim. “I'm starting to think you do this to yourself on purpose.”

 

Spock breathed sharply, his eyes fluttering closed as Jim bit down lightly at the tip of his ear. From his mouth he exhaled a plaintive whimper that he barely recognized at his own. But he wasn't himself here, hadn't been since their match had ended – or was he himself after all, far more than he ever was normally?

 

“Here,” Jim murmured, taking his arm and leading him towards the bed. Obediently Spock followed, eager to see to Jim's pleasure, now. When he sat on the bed he immediately reached for Jim's belt. Jim paused, as though this was not what he had intended, but after a moment placed his hand on Spock's head. “Yeah, do that,” he murmured, and Spock unzipped his trousers, pulling his boxers down just enough to take out Jim's magnificent erection. He sat there for a moment just looking at it – he had seen penises before, but never in an erotic context, and he found that there was a very big difference. Before he could begin himself Jim pushed insistently at Spock's head and murmured “Do it, suck it, do that for me.”

 

Licking his lips, Spock pressed a chaste kiss at the head of Jim's penis before wrapping his mouth tight around the head. Jim moaned, his grip on Spock's hair increasing. “Yeah, fuck yeah, do that, you know you want to.” Encouraged, Spock continued, sucking down Jim's erection as far as his throat allowed, pulling the underwear down slightly further and reaching out a hand to fondle his balls. “Fuck yeah, bet you've been holding out for this, haven't you,” Jim was saying breathlessly above him, the hand in his hair becoming nearly painful. “Bet you've been just waiting for this all day – no, for weeks, now. That's all you could think of while we were playing chess – my cock down in your sweet mouth.” Nearly groaning around Jim's erection, Spock sucked, hard, simultaneously rolling Jim's testicles between his fingers.

 

Jim groaned again, louder, but pulled away, leaning down to kiss at Spock's mouth. “Sorry, babe, but I've got more in mind...” Pushing at Spock and urging him to lie down on the bed, Jim grabbed almost blindly at his bedside drawer before pulling out a small tube. Recognizing the substance, Spock shuddered, licking his lips again.

 

Jim looked down at him, his erection sticking out obscenely from his open pants. It was an impossibly arousing sight. Then Jim licked his own lips and said in a quiet, husky voice, “Roll over,” and Spock knew he had no choice but to obey. He pressed his overheated face into the pillow, absently grinding his returned erection against the mattress.

 

“No-” Jim said, pulling at Spock's legs until he was half-kneeling on the bed, his rear end high. With another push Jim spread Spock's legs further, revealing him even more to Jim's vision. After a moment, he trailed one slightly cool finger between his buttocks, pressing firmly against Spock's anus. The tip pushed inside, and then up until the second knuckle, then the third. It wasn't enough – Spock wanted to be spread even further, wanted for Jim to find pleasure within him, and sighed exasperatedly.

 

“Please...!”

 

“You've never done this before,” Jim said quietly, but pushed in another finger, stretching and scissoring them.

 

Spock felt the weight of inexperience upon him and his cheeks re-heated. “No, but that does not mean that I am fragile. Please, Jim, I want-” Jim's fingertips touched against his prostate and he groaned, loudly, pleasure sparking through his body and down his arms, up his neck. “I...”

 

“Say it,” Jim breathed, fingers brushing once again, torturously, against his prostate. Spock moaned, torn between pleasure and frustration – he was so close, Jim was so close, and yet after everything they had been through Jim continued to tease them both? And yet while before the words had come to him so easily, now he found himself unable to articulate them, the obscene words dying on his lips. “Say it,” Jim repeated, pressing just long enough for Spock's spine to arch before retreating.

 

Spock shook his head. “I- I want...” He whimpered as Jim touched his prostate again, harder. “I want you... to penetrate me.” With that, Jim rubbed almost roughly against Spock's prostate and the Vulcan cried out.

 

“Since you asked...” For a few moments Spock didn't sense anything beyond the quiet sounds of Jim applying lubrication to his penis and then finally, finally, Jim was entering him, stretching him, using him for his pleasure, and both men groaned in unison. “Fuck... you're so... so fucking tight...”

 

“Vulcan anuses are less flexible than Human ones,” Spock breathed, struggling to maintain coherent thought.

 

Jim froze. “Shit. I'm not – I'm not hurting you, am I?”

 

In actuality, he was – Spock had never had anything so large within him, let alone Jim's penis, which was of a considerable size, even for a Human. But the twinges of pain only increased his heart rate, increased the sense of adrenaline overcoming him. “It is – no matter.”

 

“Fuck,” Jim muttered. He pushed himself in deeper, murmuring further curse words under his breath. Spock breathed in deeply, lungs unable to take in enough air to sustain the energy pounding through his veins. Finally he was in, completely in, hands gripping tightly at Spock's hips.

 

And then he was moving, thrusting in and out, pounding into Spock's ass. Spock moaned, clutching tightly at the sheet beneath his fingers, arms trembling. With every movement in Jim hit against Spock's prostate, sending the Vulcan into spasms of pleasure. At first he was able to return Jim's thrusts, but as Jim became more erratic Spock, too, was unable to keep up. Finally, with one more hard thrust, Jim stilled, emptying himself into Spock's ass, fingernails digging into the skin of Spock's hips. When he was done, he reached underneath Spock and fisted his erection, squeezing it tightly, and then Spock was coming, too, all over his stomach and Jim's hand and Jim's sheets.

 

Catching his breath, Spock lowered himself gingerly to the bed, rolling over the wet spot. A moment later Jim collapsed forward, eyes screwed shut. Blindly he reached for Spock, pulling him forwards and wrapping his arms around him. Spock returned the gesture with lazy eagerness, placing one hand on Jim's hair and threading his fingers through it.

 

For several minutes they lay there in silence, Spock absent-mindedly stroking Jim's scalp, Jim eventually tracing small circles into Spock's back.

 

Jim spoke. “So, aren't you going to ask me, then?”

 

Without moving from his position, Spock raised an eyebrow. “Inquire about what?”

 

“Ask me how I beat you in chess.”

 

Spock paused. “I thought that was a matter for me to find out from my own intellect.”

 

“Yeah, but that hasn't exactly worked out, has it? I don't mind.” He shifted slightly and pressed his lips into Spock's neck. “So, wanna find out?”

 

After some deliberation, Spock conceded. “Yes.”

 

“Your problem,” Jim mumbled against Spock's skin, “is that you're used to playing against Vulcans. All your strategies, ideas about how your opponent plays – they're all tailored with Vulcans in mind. Which actually isn't that bad a thing – the way Vulcans think is almost made for chess, so you're mostly gonna be ensuring that you're assuming your opponent is the best possible. But there are flaws. You mostly think about chess in terms of figuring out what's going on on the board, fitting it to some idea in your head of when you've seen this before – this strategy, this board configuration – and fitting the best possible strategy to it. You do that every turn, so it's hard to force you into making stupid stubborn mistakes. But the trick is, of course, to mix things up a little. At first it didn't work 'cause you just interpreted my moves as bluffing and that's practically the oldest trick in the chess book. It might be the wrong motivation, but you'd always move too quickly and I could never change all that much, and you'd never make the mistake of assuming I had some big plan behind it, anyway. No, what I had to do was a bit more complicated. I came up with my own strategies – ones made up myself, so I knew you wouldn't be familiar – and I deliberately set them up to look random. You'd assume I was going for the plans you knew about and respond accordingly, I would 'bluff', but then I would already be implementing my other plan. Before you knew it, you'd have fallen into my trap. It hasn't been easy, not by a long shot, but the theory is almost...simple.”

 

Jim moved far away enough to grin; at the expression on Spock's face, he grinned wider. Before he could say another word Jim silenced him with a passionate kiss, gripping at Jim's hair tightly.

 

When they broke apart again, Jim smiled. “Guess we'll be playing some more...chess, then?”

 

For that, he got only another kiss.

 

END.