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let me take you by the hand (and we can go find a brand new world)

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You’ve only had two drinks, but the stars outside the windows of your quarters have gone soft and haloed.You blink and take another measured sip of your Andorian brandy cocktail, kicking off your short-heeled pom-pom slippers so that you can rest your feet on the edge of your bed. These are your favorite nights.

When a mission is complete, your report is turned in, and Spock visits your quarters after you've both retired from the bridge so that you can play chess or read together or simply talk, sharing space so naturally that you can almost imagine a future where she loves you back with the same endless, enduring ferocity with which you love her.

She’s a Vulcan, of course, so perhaps she does not love. But you’re a little drunk, and the tide of loneliness in your chest has crept away from the shore a bit, so you’re allowing yourself to dream, glass pressed to your lips. “Your move,” you remind her, head cocked. Undone from its usual updo, your hair spills over your nearly bare shoulder, making you shiver. You’re wearing one of your own nightgowns, a short, pink, semi-translucent chiffon thing because you can’t tolerate the suffocating high neck of the regulation nightgown, because you so rarely get to feel pretty, like a woman and not a Starfleet Officer.

“Merely surveying every option, captain,” Spock announces, shooting you a dark-eyed look between the second and third levels of the chessboard and holding it. Your stomach churns like it always does when Spock sustains eye contact with you for very long and there’s no one else to bear witness to the joke you may or may not make to dissipate the tension. You blink, licking your lips before taking another sip of your drink. “Need I remind you, I do not play as rashly as you do,” Spock adds, tapping her fingers on the table.

“You don’t need to remind me, Ms. Spock, of anything regarding the manner in which you play chess. I am quite, ah, well-versed in your methodology. Considering I hear all of your rationalizations every time I win and you can’t make sense of it,” you chide, shooting her a winning grin.

She raises her eyebrows and takes the queen in hand so surely that it makes you shudder. You have loved Spock fiercely for nearly two years, desired her for many more. The way she touches things so carefully and intentionally always sparks something Academy-old in you, that itch to crack the veneer of a girl who claims to feel nothing at all, to push your hands under her skin and dig into the soft, dark soil you know exists beneath. “This is rather like a sleepover, isn’t it?” you declare, the words out of your mouth before you have time to think them through.

She takes your knight, sets it down delicately on the table, and folds her hands before examining you thoughtfully, as if she doesn’t understand the phrase. You suspect she does, though: she’s far too well-read to have missed out on such a significant part of Terran teengirl culture. “A what, captain?” she asks then, continuing this guise.

You sigh, stand up, and make yourself another drink, chiffon brushing against your body in this way that forces you to be reminded of how very long it’s been since you were touched intimately outside the context of a mission-specific seduction. How long it’s been since you were touched intimately by another woman, which is the only sort of touch that matters, to you.

It’s something you miss the way you miss Iowa, the way you miss Earth. Oceans and prairies and horses, hoof beats striking dirt, dust rising in billows, the way dry grass smells after a rain. Slick-pink and the smell of musk and hair in your mouth, soft lips, soft skin, soft. Home and home and home and home.

You don’t bother with a mixer this time, so the straight bandy burns against your lips. “A sleepover,” you repeat, gesturing with your glass. “I trust they didn’t entertain such formative rituals on Vulcan, but on Earth, it’s when you invite all your friends over to your house, and you stay up late eating junk food, watching movies, telling secrets. We played games at mine...MASH, light as a feather. I always pretended to know how to palm-read. Anything, even in those days, to touch a pretty girl,” you mumble self-deprecatingly but not without amusement.

Spock shifts away from the chessboard and toward you, angling her body, regulation nightgown bunching around her crossed legs in a way that you refuse to look at. “Palm-read,” she echoes. “That is a phrase I know. Earth mysticism, a rudimentary fortune teller’s technique, using the lines in the hand to theoretically predict one’s future.”

“Yes,” you tell her, toying idly with the ends of your hair, gaze sweeping over the stoic mask of her face, the way her black hair is cropped at her chin, sticking against her lips sometimes when they’re wet and she’s been running. Slick-pink and the smell of musk, home and home and home and— you throw back the rest of your drink and grimace. “Not sure if it’s effective as a means of divination or not. I didn’t actually know how to do it, I just liked to pretend, you see...wanted to trace the lines of a girl’s hand, everything quiet in the moment that I touched her.”

Spock is silent, hands twitching in the fabric of her nightgown. The stars are a mere blur now, your head is swimming, and this is your favorite sort of night so what the hell, you think, stepping closer, bare feet shuffling across the carpet. What the hell. You miss the ocean and you miss the smell of horses, and she’ll offer neither of those things, she’ll never let you get ahead of yourself because she’s locked up in the exact places you long to prod. “Would you like a reading, Ms. Spock?” you ask, holding out your hand, quirking up an eyebrow coyly.

You expect a witty rebuttal, a denial. Spock returning to your chess game after a long-suffering sigh, fingers dancing over the knight she just stole from you.

 

Instead, she stares at your hand, inhaling shakily before offering her own, belly up like an animal submitting. “You are correct, we did not have these sleepovers on Vulcan. We had similar female-bonding rituals, I suppose. Braiding of the hair, as I recall, was something that had girlhood significance. However, because my mother was a human, I was rarely invited to such gatherings. And if I was, no one wanted to braid my hair. You will catch it, they said, if you touch her. My humanness, I suppose, is what they were referring to.”

Your heart stops, your head swims, your scalp prickles with such intensity that you shake your blonde curls out, making them dance over your shoulders to dissipate the feeling of such hot, second-hand grief, shame. “Oh, Spock,” you sigh, clutching her hand in your own, squeezing it, choosing to ignore the way she flinches. “That’s terrible, how cruel. I’ll...if you like, I’ll braid your hair.”

Her eyes flash, her mouth flattens out as her hand flexes where you grip it. Perhaps she’s trying to pull away, but you won’t let her, you need her to know. Not only are you willing to touch her, you’re willing to sustain burning, bruising, breakage just to do so for a single second. She is everything to you.

“I doubt you know Vulcan ritual braiding,” she says gently after a moment, the corner of her mouth twitching. “However, I will allow you to pretend to read my fortune.”

You squeeze her hand gratefully, as if it’s you who is being granted some favor, you who is seeking to fill some childhood-trauma void. And perhaps you are. Things get so tangled when you’ve been drinking and dreaming and the stars are watching you get away with touching her. “Well, then,” you say, tugging at her, hauling her up. “These sorts of things are best done in bed.”

She follows, and you study her hard as she sinks down onto your narrow regulation mattress, long, awkward legs folding beneath her, regulation nightgown falling over her bent knees. Something in your chest comes apart and aches as you set her palm up on your own leg, digits curled in defensively to hide her heart line.

“So,” you murmur, drawing the tip of your index finger along the middle line running through her palm. “This one here, the darkest one? That’s your head line. It’s straight, which means you’re logical, and, yes, I did not need your palm to tell me that,” you explain, tracing back and forth over it, very aware of the heat of Spock’s skin, the faintest hint of perspiration. “It’s broken here, though, see this bit?” you announce, pausing at a perpendicular vertical line running down from her ring finger. “This indicates that your logic might not be as absolute as you think. You do act on impulse, sometimes, Ms. Spock. According to your palm, that is.”

“According to your pseudoscience,” she rumbles, voice nothing but a muted vibration at this point. Your heart is positively pounding in your chest, so loud that she must be able to hear it, must sense, at least, what it means to you to cradle her broad, elegant hand in your lap and touch it. You trace a figure eight and move to the bottom line that’s curving from her wrist to her thumb.

“This is your life line, long but not deep. So, a lengthy life, which is good, but it…runs the risk of being superficial. Shallow. It’s up to you to enrich that life,” you invent on the spot, letting your fingers dance across her palm, down as far as her thundering pulse. The speed and strength of it makes you feel slightly better about how compromised you are, how dizzy you feel from touching her. At least she’s affected, too, but you doubt it’s for the same reasons that you are. She’s probably thinking of customs she was barred from on Vulcan as a girl, tense because this is new for her, and she's taking it in as a scientist does. However, you’re drunk, she’s here, and you’ve never been the sort of girl to extinguish the flame of your hope, so you keep touching, idly brushing all over her palm without saying anything, as if you’re studying the lines and trying to recall their ascribed meaning.

“Is there a...hmmm, a line for one’s career?” she asks, though you thought, for a split-second, she was going to say a line regarding love. Hope distorts things, makes you sick, wild. You trace directly up her palm, down from her middle finger.

“Yes, that’s your fate line,” you tell her, tucking your hair behind your ear, only to let it tumble back, obstructing your vision. “Right here. It’s quite prominent but also fractured, so you’ll be successful but have many pursuits beyond your current endeavor. Starfleet won’t be your life, in other words, like it is mine,” you half-joke, sweeping back up to the top line through the center, the heart line. She didn’t ask about it directly, but you continue to feel haunted, like she meant to, so before she can say anything, you rub directly over it, tracing the path of it back and forth. “And this, the heart line...odd, for a girl who claims that she feels no emotion, this line is quite deep. Running solidly with no interruptions, perhaps indicating a solitary relationship, an important one, with great feeling.”

“Jaime,” she chokes out, snatching her hand back, splaying it over her chest, like she worries she won’t be able to contain her heart unless she reaches for it. “That is...that is quite enough.”

You stare, your pulse racing, fingers tingling from having had her rip so suddenly from your grip. Her heart line was deep. It was deep and felt like a valley beneath your finger, a riverbed, water coursing through and leaving a slick cut through rock in its wake. “Spock,” you breathe, reaching out, fingers laying gently on her bare leg, which jerks under your touch the second you make contact. “I didn’t mean to—”

“It’s not you,” she explains, voice stilted, trembling as she stands, paces. “It’s me...my hands. I should have known.”

Should have known what? you wonder, breath caught in your throat, which burns with the ghost of brandy as you follow her, back her up against the table. The tri-level chessboard tips over, spilling pieces onto the carpet. “What about your hands, Spock?” you ask, knowing that you sound frantic, unprofessional. Homesick. Looking for oceans and prairie grass in places you'll never find it.

“Forgive me,” she says, eyes downcast and refusing to meet yours as she nods, side-steps away, and escapes to the door of your quarters. “But I must retire for the night.”

“Wait,” you call even though you know that she’s already gone, that you’ll have to resort to orders and rank if you wish her to stay and confess this thing she clearly doesn’t want to confess. You trip after her anyway. “Spock,” you grit out, and it sounds like a sob, as it so often does. Ripped and holy, nylons streaked in runs, fields pock-marked in burrows.

“Please,” she chokes from the doorway, eyes unreadably dark, a green flush across her cheeks. “Do not make me speak of such a thing, Jaime. I must...I must not,” she forces out without elaboration, turning her head so that you’re met with the sharp cut of her jaw, the tapered shell of her ear you’ve imagined kissing so many times that the memory of wanting it is well-worn, like a bit of seaglass battered by waves, a stone you’ve turned over and over again in your pocket.

And then she turns around and leaves like an exhale, like a candle being blown out.

You stumble back into your quarters, automatic door whooshing closed behind you. The stars are wet-looking steaks now, your stomach a mess of static as you collapse back onto the bed in your pink chiffon nightgown, imagining her hands under it, mapping the burning desert of your skin, pressing that long, deep heart line right into your throat before she dipped down to kiss you.

Hope feels bitter tonight, brandy-diluted, nebulous and rough-edged. Still, you cradle it close to your chest and allow those ragged edges to tear into soft flesh.

—-

You notice, now. The moments when your hands touch hers, and she jerks away suddenly, as if your skin stings like nettle.

Perhaps she’s always done this, and you chalked it up to coincidence, to her general and occasional aversion to being touched idly. But following that night in your quarters, that sleepover, you become aware that this is something singular. It’s her hands that she doesn’t want touched, her hands that she perpetually and dutifully guards, clasping them behind her back in an at-ease position, even when you haven’t ordered it. There’s something about Spock’s hands, and you’re nothing if not determined, so you have more than half a mind to find out what in the hell is going on.

It’s surprisingly difficult to find information about Vulcans on any Internet database, particularly when it involves biology. Vulcans are so intensely private about such things that any euphemism you find says too little to even decipher it, so after a fruitless night spent on the computer searching keywords like “Vulcan hands” and “pain” to no avail, you give up, tugging on your boots and shrugging your robe over your nightgown before you take the turbo lift to sickbay.

Bones arches his eyebrow as soon as he sees you. “Couldn’t sleep?” he asks, pulling out a chair and pouring you some whiskey, which you gratefully take. “Come to burn that midnight oil? Or maybe in search of professional advice? I feel like I never see you at odd hours anymore, Jaime, and certainly not in your nightgown.”

It’s a barb directed at you for preferring Spock’s late-night company to his. Bones is not in love with you, thank god, you’re too headstrong and defiant a girl for him to view as more than a peer, but he still gets jealous when you disappear under mountains of work or demonstrate any sort of enduring loyalty to other friends. You’d find it tiresome if you weren’t too busy being worn down by more pressing matters. Spock’s hands, for example, broad and pale and shaping you into something pitiful, as if you were made of clay. You have her heart line committed to memory, the way it felt beneath your fingertip embedded in your skin like a fishhook. “I need an excuse to see an old friend?” you ask, grinning and kicking your feet up onto his table, purely because it always makes his eye twitch, how decidedly unladylike you insist upon being. “Though I wouldn't say no for an opportunity to pick your brain regarding a certain matter.”

“Oh? And what matter might that be?” he asks, still clearly distracted by the way you’re sitting, glaring at your regulation boots. “Do you have to do that?”

You ignore him and choke down the shot of whiskey. “A Spock matter,” you admit, knowing full well that he hates talking about this with you. He knows how you feel and is thoroughly convinced that if you ever pursue it, Spock will hurt you, that you being in love with her is a condition you could chase away with enough shore leaves on pleasure planets, in the harems of Orion women at the most remote outposts in the galaxy. You suspect Bones sees your love as he sees his own: something to be drowned, medicated. He’s not a woman himself, so he doesn't understand all the countless ways that it’s purer, deeper, more agonizing. It’s not something you care to explain, so you don’t.

Predictably, he rolls his eyes at you. “Jaime, I thought we’d been over this one hundred times before. It’s a dead end, she’ll never—”

“Vulcan’s hands,” you declare, interrupting him, setting the glass down with a muted clink. “Do they...there’s something different, you see. I’m curious about that difference from an anatomical perspective.”

Bones studies you skeptically. He knows what you’re on to, he always does, you’ve confessed and complained and cried to him about Spock more times than you care to admit. Still, you maintain your resolve, crossing your arms over your chest, gaze unwaveringly fixed to his until he sighs, caves in. “As you might have found, there’s not a science guide out there with real information about Vulcan anatomy. They keep everything hidden away like it’s some big secret, having a heart, a body. Makes working as their physician a damn nightmare.”

“But their hands,” you urge, holding up your own as if you were imploring god above, below, somewhere lost amid the cosmos. “In the field, at least, you must have stumbled upon something. Something about their hands. Some narrative, a story, folklore…about them...being sensitive, hurting, maybe—”

“There is one thing,” Bones interrupts, pouring you both another finger of whiskey. “But something tells me I shouldn’t tell you.”

Fire rises in your chest and clutches around your throat, preventing you from saying anything coherent as you reach across the table to grab his wrist firmly. “Bones,” you implore in a tight, clipped voice. “I order you to tell me.”

He wrenches away, narrowing his eyes into slits of icy blue. He hates when you do that, though he’s just as likely to pull the same trick on you, declare you medically unfit just so you’ll submit to a physical exam, a shore-leave prescription. He clears his throat, sips his whiskey, and looks at you for a long time before speaking. “Ever seen a Vulcan kiss? They do it with their fingers...index and middle pressed together, then, touch their partner’s. I thought it was for propriety’s sake, like touching lips in public, even chastely, was too much for those stick-up-the-ass green bastards, but who knows, maybe it’s something more.”

Your heart is pounding, your mouth dry. Your hands flatten out on the table on either side of your drink, and Bones glares at you, like he can see through your skull and read the racing mess of your thoughts, the filthy press of your knuckles against Spock’s palm as you imagine it. “Jaime,” he says, voice drenched in warning. “Don’t you dare try to Vulcan-kiss Spock. I told you, all that’s gonna happen is a broken heart.”

You take the drink, glass warm from your fingers as you press it to your smiling mouth. You’ve never run from heartbreak before, and you don’t plan on starting now. It’s who you are, where you belong. Torn and tattered and bleeding, aorta pumping its last blood over that aborted, interrupted life line coursing through Spock’s palm. You think of her then and how similar her expressions of shock and pain and hunger and fear are.

—-

It’s taken weeks to rebuild the fractured trust and camaraderie you lost with Spock when she last left your quarters, clutching her hand to her chest as if you’d injured it.

So you’ve had lots of time to interpret what exactly happened. What it meant, that she let you grip her hand once, that she allowed her palm to be spread out and traced and caressed on your lap before something snapped and she swept away from you, a feather caught in a current and carried downstream.

You wonder if it was kissing, for her. Or if it wasn’t until she somehow saw through your mask of self-deprecation and relentless joking to the true you beneath, the one who loves her, throws herself at the glass repeatedly because she’s so certain that such desperation will never be recognized since Spock refuses to recognize such things. Perhaps it wasn’t a kiss until she remembered that you want to kiss her, that you always want to kiss her, and suddenly something innocent was sullied in soot.

You wonder if she knew all along. If it felt good, if you touched those slender fingers just right, if you somehow made her feel something deep and hot in her stomach that made her wrench away. You wonder if you accidentally kissed her, or if she allowed herself to be kissed. If she kissed you. If none of these things happened, and you’re drowning yourself in the futile darkness of hope again because you can’t bear a version of the future where Spock will never allow herself to be yours.

You inch closer, and she inches away before swaying back. It’s how she works. A tense orbit, a dance. It reminds you of a mare you had back in Iowa whose halter broke during a lunge. She tripped and fell, smashing her head on the hitch of a gooseneck trailer. From her ears to the upper ridge of her eye, there was a tremendous gash, seven staples, and an inch-long tie-off of stitches just under her forelock. It was your job to keep the wound clean as it healed, to smear citronella spray around it so that she wasn’t constantly attempting to shake flies off while they swarmed her.

The mare trusted you, you knew that. You could see it in the vast brown of her eyes when you held her still to rub cream down the incision. But the second you came to her stall to tend to her, she’d try her hardest to avoid you, rearing and kicking and biting at the air as you approached. She didn’t want to be taken care of because it hurt. And as soon as you started to build a rapport with her, regain her trust, develop a routine of feeding her treats and petting her without any trauma to the wound, you’d have to clean it or reapply ointment, and all would be lost yet again, the trust whittled back down to the starting point.

It doesn’t surprise you that she was your favorite horse, just as Spock is your favorite person. You love the ones who cannot love you.

You’ve always sought out the complex puzzles, the guarded hearts, the creatures you want desperately to crack open, the ones you can convince yourself you’re worthy of knowing if you can just dedicate enough patience and love to the cause.

You prepare to scare Spock away again the second things return to how they were before.

 

When she accepts an invitation to a chess game in your quarters nearly two full months and four missions after the last time, you know that you should play it safe. That you should allow her to remain at arm’s distance, that you should push no boundaries, cross no lines. But you never pass up an opportunity to injure yourself, to confirm your working theory that you’re fuckable, desirable, and beautiful but unlovable. Captain Jaime Kirk, alone on a cold island of rock, no beach to walk on.

Still, you let your hair down as you wait for her. You powder your nose, you wear your pom-pom slippers and your pink chiffon nightgown, which skims the golden skin of your thighs just above your knees. You drown yourself in the womanly frivolity that your job doesn’t allow you, the same womanly frivolity in which Spock seldom indulges, unless she’s forced to, like it’s your job to bear the brunt of your sex for the both of you. You tress yourself up like a Thanksgiving turkey, a lamb to the slaughter, a girl on a date, sweet sixteen at her slumber party.

You don't do it to be noticed by her because even if Spock did notice, she wouldn’t be impressed or titillated; she would find you foolish. You do it precisely because she won’t notice it, and there's a certain sort of sad, comforting silence in baring your soul somewhere unseen. It tells you that your two wildly different hearts are slaves to that same wild difference, even if everything has changed. Perhaps she let you kiss her while you read her palm, but it doesn’t mean anything. She’ll never allow herself to love you even if she were capable, and you’ll always love her even if she refuses it to the grave. You’re stuck in stasis, repelled magnets, polarities.

So even if you touch her fingers again tonight, and she touches yours back, it’s a dead end, a pipe dream. Your hope is reckless, and perhaps that’s why it feels so safe, to dress up for blind eyes, to perfume a neck that will not be sucked.

—-

She arrives, and before you can begin to speak, something is spilling out. “Forgive me,” she says, head bent, hands pressed together in front of her as if she’s praying, confessing, begging. She’s still wearing her science blues, and you feel naked in front of her, semi-translucent fabric brushing over your stomach as you shift your weight nervously, back arched, arms crossed.

“For what, Spock?” you ask, breath stuck in your throat.

“For last time, for leaving, and—” for the briefest moment, her gaze sweeps to yours, and it’s anguished, the black of her eyes so wet and tarry that you feel stuck, bogged down. Like no matter how much you struggle to escape, you’ll always be held here by her, mired in fruitless, useless love.

You grab her shoulders, steer her into the room, and survey her appearance quickly to check for blood because she’s clearly in pain, and you want to rule out injury first. She withers in your palms, though, curls in on herself, face crumpling as she wrenches away. “Spock,” you murmur, reaching for her again, palming up her arms to hold her by the throat, to feel the wild tattoo of her pulse. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

“You should not touch me,” is what she grinds out. Not, don't touch me, or, stop touching me, but you should not. As if she is filthy and loathsome, and she doesn’t want to taint you. You thumb over her jaw as you back her into the table, pressing your brows together so that you can look into her eyes, search for her seams.

“I’m your captain,” you remind her, voice quiet, clipped. Even if it’s panicked as it comes out because it frightens you to see her like this. “And your friend. You must tell me what’s wrong, Spock, then I can help you.”

“Nothing is wrong. I am wrong. Our friendship is wrong. You don’t...can’t understand because you are human. You cannot know what it does to me,” she chokes, surging into you in spite of everything that she’s saying, blood thrumming beneath your fingers.

“What what does to you? How is our friendship wrong?” you plead, heart cracking beneath the terrible wave of hope that rushes through you like a flash flood. Perhaps she’s speaking of her upturned palms, the way that you caressed them. Perhaps it was a kiss.

“Jaime,” Spock implores, mouth a trembling shape as it breaks over the word. “Please...please.”

And you aren’t sure what she wants, if it’s for you to let go of her, to order her to leave, or to take her hands in yours and lace your fingers to make a fist together, tight and hot, so you act with your gut and step into blackness. “It’s your hands, isn't it?” you ask, eyes dropping to her lips. “When I read your palm, I was...it was kissing, somehow, wasn’t it? I crossed a line, and I’m sorry, I’m terribly sorry for that, Spock, but it doesn’t mean that our friendship is wrong. If...if we did kiss, if there was some sort of—intimacy—we’re not wrong for that. You’re not wrong.”

Spock’s arms, which had been locked at her sides only moments earlier, shift. Her hands reach to grab you then, thumb into the ditches of your elbows, grip you so tightly that your skin is on fire, your stomach plummets like a hawk diving for prey. “You do not understand,” she says again, nails biting into your skin. “It is not...it is not logical. It is not pure, not like...braiding hair. Or sleepovers—” she cuts herself off, turning her head so fiercely and suddenly that your lips are open against her temple, gasping, tasting salt. “I yearn,” Spock whispers then, voice trembling under your spread palms like seismic tremors. “I yearn for you.”

It echoes, it burns. It uproots you like a vast wind, and the air huffs out of your lungs in a ragged exhale onto her cheek as you stumble with disbelief. “Spock,” you murmur, uncementing your hands from her throat to smooth them down her trembling shoulders, her forearms held taut and locked in wavering restraint as she grips you like you might evaporate to smoke lest she let go.

Your voice is quiet when it comes out. “You’re such a brilliant woman, it’s astounding to me that you somehow haven’t noticed that I yearn for you, too. It’s a rather prominent factor in my day-to-day existence.” You smile at her then, thumbing over her pulse, breathing her in. You wait, and you wait. For something to be destroyed or perhaps created.

Eventually, she lets go of you and reaches for your hands instead. Presses your palms flush and interlaces your fingers, and oh, now that you know, it rips something open in you. You’re sweating in your chiffon, your stomach in tatters, your insides suddenly throbbing, wet. “You are my captain,” she whispers, thumbing over the back of your hand slowly, making your gut twist up like fists in sheets. “I did not dare assume that you shared such an affliction.”

“It’s not an affliction, Spock,” you say, though on some level you feel quite ill. Feverish, aching. Consumed by a fire she ignited in you with nothing but her palms shifting against yours in a layer of perspiration. “It’s just love, and it happens to people all the time. Even Vulcans.”

You untangle one hand and press your index and middle fingers together before gently drawing them down the length of her heart line.

She gasps and shudders and turns to you, nose pressed to your cheek, breath burning on your parted lips. “Jaime,” she says, in the way she always says your name. Like it’s the best, the only word in the whole universe and all its lonely planets.

“May I kiss you with my lips, too?” you ask. “It’s alright if not, I can wait, I can—”

“Please,” she murmurs, endless dark eyes sliding closed, obstructing the wild, terrified glistening of her pupils. “I think of it often. I want...have wanted. “

“Jesus,” you marvel in an awed hush because you can’t believe any of this, you feel like you must pray. All of that hope, every night you spent with her drinking and playing chess and watching the elegant tilt of her wrist disappear into her sleeve as she smiled at you and wondered ends here. Back in your quarters, Spock pressing up against you, holding your hand like hand holding is fucking, and saying, I want...have wanted.

You kiss her.

Her grip on your hands tightens as she squeezes you, digs her fingers in so tightly that the bones feel crushed in her fist. You’re anchored there as she gasps into your mouth before returning each soft, careful press of your lips, hers warm and dry until she licks them, and you feel the flash of her tongue against yours, slick and hot. As you deepen the kiss, she comes apart against the table, a mess of tremors and gasps and fingertips, nails. Your hands are tangling, and so are your tongues, and you’re flayed to your bones with disbelief.

You kiss her against the table for so long that the chiffon begins to itch, your feet ache in their slippers from the exertion of standing on your tiptoes and constantly correcting the balance she keeps stealing. There’s spit on your chin, and you’re dizzy, so at some point, you pull way and take her hand in yours, wanting to continue giving her something that feels good while you catch desperate gales of breath.

Her fingers tremble as you stroke them, bring them to your swollen mouth, and kiss them gently. “Ms. Spock,” you whisper, eyes fluttering closed. “You make me feel as if I’m dreaming.”

“A pleasant dream?” she asks, thumbing over your lower lip.

“The most pleasant,” you say, before you open your mouth and suck her index finger into the wet heat of it.

She hisses, flinches. But her pulse speeds up under the fierce grip you have on her wrist, and that alone has you clenching your thighs together. Then she’s pushing deeper, rubbing her fingertips into the inside of your cheek where you’re slick, and then over your teeth, gentle and experimental. You suck as spit froths out into her palm, and she pitches forward to kiss you again, tongue pushing in alongside her knuckles. The room is too hot, your cunt is too wet, everything is static and heat and shock, and you want her, you want her in your bed, more than you’ve ever wanted anything in the whole of history.

You reel back, gasping, hair tumbling over your shoulders and sticking to the sweat beading over your pulse. “Does that feel good?” you ask, and she nods, eyes two dark, devastated wrecks. “You know where else would feel good to touch?” you ask, taking her hand in yours and drawing it down your body, chiffon bunching, snagging beneath her palm.

“Jaime,” she groans, crumbling, rubbing her forehead into your bare shoulder, mouth soft and open and begging against your skin. “Please.”

“Come to bed with me,” you whisper, drawing her fingers up against the center of you where your underwear cling to the curve of your mound, damp with sweat, fever-hot. She ghosts over it and makes a sound like a sob, and you’ve never, ever heard Spock make such a sound. Your chest feels like one hundred birds just took off inside of it, the thunder of wingbeats where you were once fettered in iron.

You stumble together, and then you’re collapsing onto your mattress, she’s following you, pushing your nightgown up, and staring down at you, at the way your golden-brown pubic hair is visible through the soft lace of your underwear. She’s muted and awed and still, like she’s seen something holy, and you take her in as she bears down upon you. The shiny-black of her hair reflecting under the overhead light in your quarters. The lovely, olive-green flush on the sharp cut of her cheekbones. Her arched brows, the fine shape of her mouth split over a gasp. Her broad shoulders, narrow waist, straight back now curved as she bends over you like a violin bow, pressing her face into the ditch of your neck. “You look just like you do when I imagine you,” she confesses, one hand braced on the bed, the other wandering over your body in broad, reverent strokes. “I tried not to imagine you at all, but—” her voice cracks, her breath wet and hot as it struggles out of her.

You think of Vulcan girls refusing to braid her hair and reach up to comb your fingers through it tenderly, nails razing her scalp. “It’s...that’s lovely, Spock. You’re lovely,” you assure her, lips against her temple. “And you may do whatever you wish to me. Whatever you’ve imagined.”

Spock shudders with an exhalation, and her palm stops just below your navel, on the heaving softness of your stomach. There she lingers for a moment while you force yourself to breathe, the whole of you shaking like window panes in a storm.

It happens in slow motion. The push, the unearthing. Her middle and index fingers delicately exploring beneath the trappings of lace and finding hair curled from humidity, then slickness, molten lava. You gasp, and so does she. “You are—” she chokes out, collecting fluid and rubbing the slick over where you’re hard and swollen and sensitive.

“I am,” you answer, because the answer to whatever she asks is yes, yes. You’re wet, you’re hard, you’re ruined, you’re hers. You have been for so long.

She tucks those lovely fingers inside, and you groan, tensing up, back curling. “Like wet fire,” she growls, voice hot against your throat. “I could get lost.”

“Please,” you whimper, bearing down upon the intrusion, cunt walls fluttering against her broad knuckles as they grind against your pubic bone. “Does it feel good for you?”

You can tell it does by the way her breathing is so labored, her chest rapidly rising and falling with each pulse and twitch of your body. You fit your hand between the subduction of your bodies to rub your clit, fingers already tense and furious from how close you are from just this: Spock fucking you, coming apart from touching you, beside herself simply by the tight, wet heat of your body. She pushes her fingers in and out, her moans becoming rhythmic and animal against your throat as she does so, and as the crescendo builds, so does the fire in your gut, the pressure under your dimpled wet fingertips. “Spock,” you choke out as you push yourself over the edge, body clenching around her in hungry pulses, thighs wet and sticky. “Spock.”

She withdraws as if she’s the one who’s too sensitive, as if she’s a mess of nerves and aftershocks. She collapses, nothing but breath, a wet hand snagging on chiffon. “Jaime,” she prays, squeezing your side through your nightgown, ribs shifting under her grip. There you breathe, inhaling to fit the curve of her palm. Your chest rises and falls, ebbs and flows like the sea, and eventually she drops her head to rest there over the thud of your heart.

“I never thought this would happen. I wanted it to, I wished for it, desperately, but I never thought—” you trail off, raising a tender hand to her back to rub over her scapula through the itchy fabric of her uniform. “I’ve loved you for so very long,” you admit then, the words curled up and falling to dust like burnt paper reduced to ash.

She makes a sound and muffles it with your skin. Then she murmurs, “And I have loved you. No attempt to rid myself of it or call it by any other name has worked. It simply is.”

“Which means I’m a very lucky woman,” you tell her, stroking your fingers through her hair, wondering if it’s long enough for a French braid. “How should I touch you?” you ask, thumbing over her green-flushed bottom lip. “I would very much like to make you feel a fraction as good as you made me feel, Ms. Spock.”

She shakes her head, pins your hands above you, and presses her lips to yours. “You already have,” she says, as she pulls away, eyebrow quirked. “I see there is very much you have yet to learn about Vulcan anatomy.”

The sky opens up, and all its stars tumble out, your heart leaps, you smell burnt grass and golden sweat and home, home, home, home. You smile as she licks the corner of it before you whisper, “I am your student, then, as well as your captain. Your friend.”

Yours, you think, and with her glorious hand spread upon your cheek, perhaps she hears that as well.