Actions

Work Header

Break Apart (into each other)

Chapter Text

Jim is so tired of trying.

‘Please,’ the Ambassador had said as he cradled Jim’s naked body in his bed. ‘Go to him - you two are destined to be together. You never belonged to me. Once you join with my counterpart of this universe, you will understand.’

Too soon. The only thing Jim had wanted to do was bask in the familiar afterglow, drown in the sensation of this Spock's fingers through his hair. 

There had been a telltale reluctance to pull away, both in the thrum of their semi-formed bond and in the trembling of Spock's fingertips. His hands flexed and grasped at Jim’s sun-bleached strands of hair, as if Jim would slip out of reach at that very instant.

In the end, the displays of affection had meant nothing. Less than an hour later, the older Vulcan brutally severed their bond without Jim's consent.

Even now, Jim remembers it as the most painful experience in his life.

Spock had pushed Jim away and towards his younger counterpart. Jim had been too impressionable, too young and willing to please, as if obedience would garner the affection he never deserved but endlessly desired.

He had tried, he really had. And the worst part was, perhaps, he didn't have to try as hard as he anticipated. His chemistry with his first officer on a professional level was unprecedented. And when they weren’t arguing, tearing at each others’ souls and making each other bleed - they just worked. His relationship with Spock’s younger counterpart was volatile but they really did care about each other. For a while, Jim had let himself believe it would work out.

Fucking wishful thinking.

He remembers down to the very hour when it all started falling apart. 

The USS Enterprise arrived at Yorktown, and the crew heard the news of Spock’s death. 

Jim couldn't think. Couldn’t breathe. He had been frantic as he asked if there was any note left for him. There was nothing. No will, no message. No goodbye.

Because Jim was still listed as Ambassador Spock’s medical proxy, the council had granted Jim the remainder of Spock’s meager belongings: a few household items and belongings. A photograph. A pendant that has never stopped haunting Jim’s dreams. Jim had put the pendant on. He’s still wearing it now.

Jim acutely remembers the pressure of the younger Spock’s gaze during the funeral on New Vulcan. He hadn’t cared. Seeing the coffin had felt like something was physically tearing out of his chest. Everything had been a blur that entire trip. 

There had been little hope for Jim’s relationship to stay intact after that. The fallout was rather spectacular, and the media gleefully recorded the events to their utmost capabilities.

Jim abandoned the final years of the Enterprise’s mission. Spock – Captain Spock – returned to the Enterprise with his mother's ring returned to his possession. They haven't spoken to each other since then. 

Jim had lasted as a vice admiral at Yorktown for barely half a year before stepping down.

He found residence on New Vulcan in the outskirts of New ShiKahr, close to where Ambassador Spock had lived. During the day he worked for the Vulcan embassy, and at night he sat alone in a dark house.

Then for the first time, Jim had realized how distant he had become with the Enterprise crew, letting the struggles of his relationship with his former First Officer distract him from everything outside his professional life. Even his friendship with Bones, which Jim had once thought impervious to, well, anything, had tarnished from years of neglect.

He is completely alone now.

But Jim can’t bring himself to feel grief. He just feels hollow. 

 

 

Jim wakes up frequently during the night. Tonight proves no different, and he can’t fall asleep.

Jim shucks the covers and trudges to the kitchen. He stares at the vintage coffee machine on the counter.

Contrary to popular belief, Jim doesn’t drink coffee. He doesn't like how the caffeine dries out his tongue. It reminds him too much of when he was young and thirsty and desperate, struggling to survive on Tarsus IV.

Jim had bought the coffee machine for Ambassador Spock and had taken great pleasure in making him a new cup every morning. When Jim was with his first officer, who also did not drink coffee, the machine stayed with the Ambassador, where it sat collecting dust in storage.

It’s a machine Jim should’ve thrown away years ago when he received it along with Spock’s other belongings, but it remains in his house, untouched and unutilized.

Jim pulls out a mug and uses the replicator to brew a cup of tea. He stands in front of the coffee machine, wondering if he should try to fix the rusty old machine just to smell the aroma again. He clenches the warm ceramic mug in both hands and thinks about kisses that tasted like freshly ground dark roast.

A blinding flash of light floods through every window of the house. 

Jim starts back in alarm. The light dissipates but doesn’t disappear. In the moonless night, illuminated smoke billowing into the air sheds light on everything. It’s coming from Jim’s backyard.

Jim carefully steps through the door and looks out at the bewildering spectacle. The low noise of smoldering wreckage fills the background. The metal forms the shape of a sleek vessel that Jim does not recognize.

And there's a young man kneeling on the ground next to it.

The stranger wears an unusual spacesuit, jet black with a sheen like a terrifying sea creature. His body is gorgeous, long and lanky in all the right places. Jim can’t help inching forward, as if his body is magnetized towards this beautiful being. The stranger is busy yanking at cables and wires inside the body of the unfamiliar starship.

And then Jim hears, “Oh, fucking hell. Come on.”

Jim drops his mug. 

The crash as it falls onto the patio is enough to cause the stranger to whip his head around.

Jim stares into deep brown eyes, sharp with youth but unmistakable. Jim would recognize those eyes anywhere. He would recognize that voice anywhere. The syllable Jim exhales isn't a question, it’s a declaration full of disbelief.

Spock.

The young stranger raises his eyebrows, eyes widening with curiosity. The familiar expression is amplified tenfold on the familiar face, rendering him unrecognizable. There isn't any hostility in his reply. “You know who I am?”

Jim can’t respond. All he can do is stare helplessly, drown in those eyes.

The young stranger wearing Spock’s face takes a step towards Jim. “How do you know my name? Who are you?”

Jim speaks, and his voice breaks. “I’m your friend.”

“That’s - okay. Kind of weird. Last I checked, I have no idea who you are. Sir.” This stranger, whoever he is, is not using Standard. He is using a variation of English, a dialect that can only be found on Earth. 

Distantly, Jim is shocked he hasn’t keeled over from the combination of shock, grief, and awe. He wonders if this feeling is what his Spock experienced when he first saw Jim on Delta Vega.

The young stranger hasn’t stopped staring at Jim, and his expression is morphing from confusion to realization, and then fascination. He breathes, “Oh, shit. No way.”

Jim’s heartbeat is heavy with anticipation. “You recognize me.”

A pause. Jim sees poorly masked longing and desire.

“Yes,” the stranger finally says. “You’re Jim Kirk.” He does not elaborate.

The hesitation cements Jim's suspicions. This adolescent stranger wearing Spock’s face is already acquainted with Jim’s counterpart in that reality.

And not only that, this Spock is already in love with that counterpart.

At that moment, Jim hates the universe and his inescapable fate like never before.

Unbelievable,” Jim mutters in Vulcan. “I must be dreaming.

Spock furrows his eyebrows. “What language is that?”

“Oh god,” Jim says weakly. It's too much. He can’t handle this. He pivots and flees back towards the house. 

Spock follows Jim far too easily, scrambling over large chunks of rock and debris. “What’s that s’posed to mean? Hey, old man!”

Old man.

Jim’s own words echo back at him, along with a vivid image of a smirking Vulcan with silver hair and wrinkles carving his handsome face.

Jim grits his teeth and slams the door closed, as if the physical action would help shut out his memories.

Well, tries to, anyways. 

“Wait - hold on!” Jim stares at Spock’s gloved hand, which kept the door from fully closing. “This is awesome, you can’t just go!” Spock’s open, expressive face comes into view. Jim realizes that for the first time, Spock is shorter than him and has to look up to maintain eye contact.

Spock continues to chatter. “I’m in an alternate reality! By accident, no less. Usually you’re only allowed to attempt inter-dimensional travel as a sophomore at the academy.”

Did he just say ‘sophomore at the academy’?

Any hint of lust that might've lingered is extinguished in an instant. “Just how old are you?” Jim demands.

“Old enough,” the young Vulcan replies without hesitation.

“Wrong answer.” Jim scowls. “Go home, kid.”

“My ship’s busted!” Spock protests. “I’d be able to go home faster if you help me. I mean, you’re Jim Kirk. You can definitely help me fix it. Right?” Spock gives him a charming smile. Fuck, if it isn’t bright. And the fucking dimples.

Jim's heart wrenches. “Fix the fucking ship yourself.” He tries to close the door again.

The younger Vulcan pries the door back open with ease. Jim suddenly feels acutely aware of the limitations of his aging body.

“God, what a stingy old man. I hope Jim doesn’t end up like you.” Spock brushes past him to examine the sparse room. He raises his eyebrows at the unkempt couch bed, an island on an empty living room floor. “Why does your house look like a bachelor pad? Or is this some minimalist thing?”

Jim watches him saunter about. “Don't you have some sort of policy for meddling in other realities?”

“Yeah.” Spock shrugs. “But you're Jim Kirk. I can trust you.” He's leaning on the back of the couch, flashing that blinding smile. Clearly this Spock knows what he looks like and is actively weaponizing his appearance against Jim's hapless inhibitions. 

Jim drags a hand down his face. “Look, kid. If I help you, will you get out of my hair faster?”

“Huh? Wait, that means you're agreeing to help me, right?”

Jim sighs. “Go wait outside with the ship. I’ll bring tools.”

 

 

This Spock is unsurprisingly a skilled and efficient worker.

With his gloved hands, he targets the damages on the starship and determines what needs to be accomplished.

The details of the technology are advanced beyond anything Jim's seen in this universe, and he is content to sit and watch Spock work.

Spock’s lips are pursed in deep concentration as he fiddles with strangely-labeled capacitors. The expression pinching his face is thoroughly endearing.

God, his face. It’s so smooth, it looks artificial. He looks so young.

Jim realizes the younger man has paused in his work upon noticing that his face is being scrutinized. 

Jim coughs. “Uh. So. Your dialect. You're from Earth?”

“Born and raised,” Spock replies with a blinding smile. Jim finds himself averting his gaze again. 

Fuck. If this was what the elder Spock was exposed to constantly, Jim doesn't know if he can survive it for much longer.

“Maybe I should save this.” Spock stares at a fried mechanical component he has just replaced with a spare.

“Why would you do that?”

Spock holds the object up to eye level, admiring its intricate ruptures. “Why wouldn't I?”

“It's illogical,” Jim says. “The component appears damaged beyond repair, not to mention the unnecessary weight it will add to your vessel. You should dispose of it properly in your universe. It’s useless.”

With a pout, Spock hoists the component and himself into the ship. “Just because it’s useless doesn’t mean you need to throw it away.” The ignition starts smoothly. Jim watches the young Vulcan struggle to properly sit in the cockpit with those awkward long legs, and he feels the affection swelling up inside him. 

“You're just gonna leave without saying goodbye?” Jim calls.

“Why, is that illogical too? Fucking old man.” Despite the sharp words, Spock's eyes soften. “Um. Thanks for helping me. Jim.” He's blushing. “Bye.”

Jim instinctively holds up the ta’al. Spock seems to understand the meaning of the gesture well enough and salutes back.

The night is illuminated with a glow similar to the one Jim saw through the windows.

And then he’s gone.

 

 

The doorbell rings. 

Jim doesn't get many visitors. He already suspects who it is.

“You can't keep doing this and not expect consequences,” Jim says as he opens the door.

The young Vulcan with Spock’s face flounces over the threshold. “Did you miss me, old man?”

“Hardly.” Jim’s voice is dry.

Spock immediately goes into the kitchen. “I'm gonna steal this celery.” There are munching sounds.

Jim sighs. “Spock, I'm leaving.”

Spock's head peeks through the doorway. “Where are you going?”

“To work.”

“Aren't you gonna kick me out? You didn't even ask why I'm here again.”

Jim thinks of Ambassador Spock's loneliness and the younger Spock's childhood bullies.

Jim thinks of his own past, crying and wishing he was anywhere but in his stepfather's house.

Even after he had found stability and success as the captain of the Enterprise, Jim had retreated to the comforting solace of Ambassador Spock’s home. After all he’s been through, Jim can’t find it in his heart to turn away this strange, younger Spock.

“I'm sure you'll tell me why you're here if you want me to know.”

“You're cool with leaving me here alone? What if I, like, steal something?”

An image of the bulky vintage coffee maker springs to Jim’s mind. It’s the only thing really of any monetary value in his house.

“You wouldn't steal,” Jim says tiredly. “I know you. You’re not like me.”

He leaves without letting himself stare at the young Vulcan again.

 

 

Jim is startled to see the porch lights on when he returns to his house before remembering his unexpected guest. He enters, wondering if Spock has already left.

He pauses.

Spock is lying in Jim’s bed above the covers. He’s stripped out of his flying uniform but is still fully clothed. He hasn’t removed his gloves.

His eyes are closed, but Jim can immediately tell from the stiff lines of the younger man’s shoulders that he is feigning sleep, forcing his breathing to remain steady. 

Jim does not join him. He goes outside and sits in a chair on the balcony, wide awake in the moonless night.

 

 

Chapter Text

He's back again. 

And he looks very different.

Jim stares in dismay. “What the hell is wrong with your hair?”

“Wrong with my hair?” Spock repeats, confused. 

“The color, it’s all - it’s the color of carsset beans!”

Spock tugs at a particularly unruly curl of hair, the strands bright with alternating hues of vibrant dark and light green. “I just got green highlights, old man. I thought you’d be familiar with illogical Terran hair practices, being human and all.”

Jim is aghast. “Why would you bleach your hair?” Your beautiful, natural, logically maintained hair.

Spock shrugs a shoulder. “I dunno. I like how it looks?”

Like how it looks. Fuck’s sake.

“I hate it,” Jim declares.

“Fuck you,” comes the reply.

 

 

Jim and Spock lounge on the couch bed watching the television. There’s beer on the table in front of them. Jim doesn’t ask if Spock is the legal drinking age. 

The news announcer onscreen speaks in Federation Standard, and Jim wonders if Spock can understand her. “S’chn T’gai Spock is a highly esteemed Starfleet captain in the middle of another five-year mission.”

Spock watches the screen cut to Captain Spock standing on a platform with a couple redshirts, pristine and stoic and avoiding eye contact with the cameras as always. Spock toys with the empty glass bottle in his hands. “So that’s the Spock of this universe?”

“Yes.”

“Why aren’t you two together?”

Jim rubs his face. “We were.”

Spock looks confused. “You don’t seem distressed about it. Don’t you love him?”

“Maybe I did at one point.” Jim is focused on his beer more than the screen.

Spock goes silent.

He’s quiet long enough that Jim is about to ask him what’s wrong. Spock says, “You were in love with a Spock from another universe and he loved you back.”

The beer goes down the wrong way and Jim coughs wildly.

He hears ‘Oh fuck please don’t die old man’ somewhere above him.

Jim wheezes. “Another universe - loved - what the hell makes you think that?”

Spock puts down his bottle and ticks off the list on gloved fingers. “He was from another universe, you loved him, and he loved you. First of all, I’m here talking to you. You don’t seem too interested in pursuing the Spock of this universe, but I see the way you look at me. It’s like you’re seeing a ghost.”

Fuck. Jim regrets ever asking. He desperately wants to shut up this smart-ass kid, but can’t bring himself to speak.

“And I know he loved you because-” Here Spock falters. “You and the Jim in my universe. I find you both very, uh.” He doesn’t finish the sentence, looking Jim up and down.

Jim stifles a humorless laugh. This Spock is many things but he is not subtle. 

Jim returns his attention to the screen. Now Scotty and Chekov are being interviewed. The reporter is growing increasingly frustrated with their thoroughly unhelpful and jovial replies. Uhura and Bones are messing around in the background, much to Sulu’s amusement and Spock’s exasperation. Spock finally grabs the doctor’s neck and swiftly moves to say something in his ear.

Jim aches looking at Bones’ aging face, bright with amusement. He aches looking at all of their faces. He misses them all.

Spock is resting closer to Jim now, making Jim aware of his own thin tunic and bare arms. Ambassador Spock had also gravitated towards Jim’s warmer temperature, snuggling against his body and smiling into his neck.

“You used to be part of that starship crew?”

“I was the captain.”

“Figures. Jim wants to be a Starfleet captain, you know.” Spock’s breath is tickling Jim now with how close he is. His terrible dyed hair catches the glow of the screen. “Do you miss them?” 

Jim doesn’t move away. “How could I not?”

“You stay in touch?” 

“Haven't contacted any of them for a while.” 

“If you miss them, you should talk to them.”

His voice is so guileless and frank.  Jim can’t help himself. He wraps an arm around Spock’s slim shoulders. “I dunno, it was a long time ago and I left without saying goodbye.

Spock is stiff before tucking himself further into Jim. “Why do you have so many issues? You’re supposed to have everything sorted out. You’re old.

“Oh, fuck off. I’m barely middle-aged.” Jim rests his head on top of Spock’s. He wants to blame the alcohol, but he’s had less than one drink. “The problems just accumulate as you get older. Whoever's telling you otherwise is lying and needs to go into a transporter and fucking never come back out.”

Spock runs a gloved hand over Jim’s, back and forth. His weight against Jim is light and familiar. Jim feels his head growing heavier.

When he wakes up the next morning with Spock’s sleeping form still curled next to him, he realizes it’s the deepest sleep he’s had for as long as he can remember.

 

 

Through Spock’s countless return visits, Jim learns many things. The timelines are not in sync, and Spock’s reality goes by faster than Jim’s. Jim watches him age incrementally every time he comes back.

Jim learns that no one notices when this Spock disappears from his world for long periods of time. Not only that, Spock doesn't recognize the names ‘Sarek’ or ‘Amanda Grayson’. He never mentions a family or home. Jim doesn't question him about it.

This Spock has all the brilliance of a half-Vulcan, and none of the fervent desperation to prove himself to anyone, not even Jim. For some reason he’s absolutely terrible at anything language-related, and he mentions that he’s failing the Federation Standard language course required of all the students at the academy. The only thing keeping him above passing average is the fear of having to take it again.

When prompted about the Jim of his universe, Spock gets a dreamy expression on his face. All he says is that Jim is as beautiful and unobtainable as ever. However as he spends more time with Jim, Spock is quicker to change the subject when asked, more curious about Jim himself.

Spock loves sitting in the sunlight - just like the Ambassador. But his lapses into silence are quickly followed by a grin and a question to Jim, an invitation to an extended conversation.

Spock enjoys puzzles and playing chess, like the Ambassador. When Jim and Spock first play chess, Jim stares at the opposite side of the board where Spock’s pieces mirror Jim’s own disorderly tactics. 

Jim loses. Spock laughs in triumph and asks Jim to play another round with him. 

Jim stares the first day he sees Spock’s bare hands and hairless chest. Spock's soiled shirt and gloves lie discarded next to an overturned pot of scalding hot soup. Spock hisses as he sticks his hands under the sink faucet pouring cold water.

Jim brings the first-aid kit but Spock declines his assistance. As Jim watches Spock patch himself, Spock confesses he knows little of the capacities of his Vulcan blood, and is untrained in mental control. He cannot understand anything as detailed as coherent sentences, but he is highly sensitive to hearing feelings. After too many incidents of unwillingly hearing the loud emotions of those around him, Spock kept the gloves on and hands away.

His hands are slightly less tanned than the rest of his arms, and the fingers are long and gorgeous like the rest of his body.  Other than being slightly more pale, they look identical to the Ambassador’s. Jim lets Spock borrow a shirt, and the collar is so wide it hangs off of one shoulder, exposing supple smooth skin.

The visual incites an instant reaction from deep within Jim. Fantasies surge forth of sinking his teeth into that bony collarbone, of taking those Vulcan fingers into his mouth and swirling his tongue between the digits.

They make eye contact, and Jim is unable to mask his heated gaze in time. Spock ducks his head as his face blushes deep green. The motion is similar to the one Ambassador Spock often did when Jim said something in the spur of the moment, catching the older Vulcan off guard.

You’re beautiful. I love you. Let’s stay together forever.

Jim is barely able to restrain himself from pushing Spock to the floor and taking him right there.

Neither of them comment on Spock wearing Jim's clothing more often from that day on.

Jim learns he has unknowingly been giving himself needlessly long hours at the embassy. He changes his schedule discreetly to be able to spend more time with Spock. The other employees comment on his newfound bright attitude, is he seeing someone new? Jim always smiles and redirects the conversation.

Jim learns Spock has a mild dust allergy, so when Spock leaves, he rolls up the sleeves of his tunic and in an agonizing process that will take him far longer than he expects, he deep cleans his house inside and out. The renewed state of the house encourages him to refurbish, and before long the entire house looks brand new with assembled replicated furniture and decorative items.

The result isn’t something the Ambassador would have approved of, but Jim enjoys it regardless.

When Spock comes back, he immediately teases Jim’s choice of a canopy bed for the master bedroom. Jim thinks it’s a perfect level of grandiose, with its elaborate posts and drapes.

Both the master bedroom and brand new guest room go unused. Spock and Jim fall asleep together on the couch bed in the living room.

Eventually Spock and Jim have their first argument. Jim stumbles over words as he realizes his tone is getting heated, and not in a good way. 

Spock is silent, and for a moment Jim has to fight the internal panic that Spock will raise his voice or turn his back forever. 

Then Jim is caught off guard by the smirk teasing at the edge of the young man’s lips.

While the Spock of his universe saw provocation as the beginning of a bitter fight, this Spock is unfazed by Jim's sharp tongue. He responds with flirty banter and a lowered gaze. When Jim finds his voice again, the affectionate gaze doesn’t go away. Jim's apprehension bleeds away. He is thrilled. 

That night when Spock dozes next to Jim, Jim presses his palm over the pendant on his chest and lets his thoughts drift towards the Ambassador. 

They had never fought. The elder man had skillfully avoided conflict, and Jim had reveled in their gentle harmony. 

That tireless, nagging place of doubt in Jim’s head had questioned whether it was a sustainable practice, avoiding necessary communication. Any potential sources of tears and anger had been generally circumvented. The doubt questioned if the relationship had only worked as well as it did because of its brevity.

And then there had been the other end of the spectrum, Jim's relationship with the Spock of his universe. They hadn’t been able to stop nitpicking at each other. The makeup sex was a level all its own, but Jim found himself exhausted by the highs and lows and grandiose fights in between. For someone that claimed to not feel, Spock had a lot of feelings and was pretty terrible at managing then.

Jim looks at the Spock sleeping next to him.

When Jim fought the Spock of his universe, there was never this undercurrent of heat, probing at boundaries, transforming an argument into a completely different kind of debate. An exchange that made Jim's heart race, like some peculiar form of foreplay.

Jim learns this Spock is nothing like Ambassador Spock - or even the Spock still on the Enterprise - and yet he is Spock all the same. At his core lies a curiosity for life and a deep love for others.

Jim realizes he's always loved this Spock, too. He just hadn't known it before.

Chapter Text

“Hey, old man. How long's it been over here?” Spock is relaxed as he stands on Jim's patio.

“Not long.” Jim watches Spock stride closer to him. The younger man is almost at eye level now. “You've grown,” Jim can't help remarking.

“Fuck yeah, I have. Do I grow taller than you?”

“You'll find out.”

Spock smirks. “Nice. So I’m definitely gonna grow taller than you.”

 

 

Jim startles awake at loud popping and engine revving. Spock isn’t in bed.

Jim rushes to the back of the house, his robe billowing around him. “Spock! What the fuck!”

Jim blinks twice. The doors of his shed are flung open, and - and his hovercycle, which he hasn’t thought about in years, is in the middle of the backyard.  

Spock scrambles to his feet from where he had fallen. “I’m sorry!”

“Like fuck you are,” Jim growls, approaching him. “What the hell are you doing with my bike?”

Spock shoves Jim away and stands his ground with a petulant frown. “She’s gorgeous. Why would you let her sit inside there and deteriorate? Fucking waste.”

Jim finally takes in the image of Spock in front of him. He’s sweaty and coated in grime, holding a rag in a gloved hand. Jim feels himself flushing hot.

Spock turns back to the bike, which is still generating a racket. “I thought it belonged to the me of that universe. Jim would never ride a hovercycle.”

When Ambassador Spock had first seen the hovercycle, he had shaken his head and declared it would be impossible for Jim to get him on that vehicle.

Of course Jim managed to have his way. 

From that point on, Spock asked Jim to take him on rides frequently.

Jim relished the adrenaline transference, the feeling of Spock wrapping strong arms around his torso. He always went slower for his passenger, but there was always an adorable vocal reaction of fear every time they turned a corner.

Jim feels a fresh wave of agony from the abrupt reminder of the memories. 

This Spock hovers uncertainty next to the bike. Slowly Jim breaths out. He walks up to examine the aged vehicle. The young Vulcan has been busy. The bike has been dusted off and polished. Its condition is surprisingly good for how long it’s been ignored. Jim finds himself asking, “Do you know how to ride one?”

Spock shakes his head.

Jim turns off the ignition. “Help me tune her up.”

Spock’s eyes widen, then he beams.

 

 

Jim revs the engine and shoots down the highway, far faster than he had ever dared to go with the Ambassador. Faster than he’s ever dared to go before.

Spock clenches his arms around Jim tighter, whooping with excitement. The world around them blurs.

It feels different. 

Jim never wants it to end.

 

 

They stop at a Vulcan market briefly during their return trip. They make quite the pair, with Jim in his Vulcan wear and Spock excitedly moving from one stall to the other, not understanding a word of their language and eager to see everything.

It reminds Jim of the first time Ambassador Spock had brought him to a Vulcan market. At that time, it had been Jim eagerly hopping around with the Ambassador keeping a steady pace behind, watching Jim with tender affection and sadness warring in his gaze.

Jim watches Spock avidly examine a fruit from a cart, and feels the hurt in his heart widening.

When they return to Jim’s house, Spock helps himself to Jim’s auxiliary shower as he always does. Freshly washed and in his bathrobe, Jim lies back on the outdoor lounge on the patio, watching the brilliant light of the setting sun.

Eventually Spock walks into view, clearly still riding on the adrenaline of their trip. He’s only in a small towel wrapped around his waist. There’s a stray drop of water running down his hipbone.

Jim averts his gaze.

Spock sits on the edge of the lounge next to Jim, flexing his fingers. The only reliable time Jim sees Spock’s bare hands are after he showers. Jim smells his aftershave on Spock’s skin and forces himself to keep from breathing in the irresistible scent.

Jim's eyes trail up his chest to see Spock looking at him, a hint of a dare in those bright brown eyes.

Fuck.

This Spock is lithe, confident, and dangerous. And Jim knows with certainty he knows exactly what he’s doing.

“I think you should go,” Jim says, his throat tight.

Spock stops leaning forward and frowns. “Why?”

“Do you really need the fucking list? There are so many reasons why we shouldn’t do this. Spock, wait.” Jim’s hands helplessly rise up to guide Spock as the younger man fearlessly straddles Jim’s lap. The sensation of all that bare skin under Jim’s palms is enough to drive him crazy. “If you - Spock - what about the Jim of your universe?”

Spock sighs. “Look, we’ve had this conversation enough times. And my answer won’t change - we’re friends and always will be, and I’m happy with that.”

“Give it time. You two are meant to be together, Spock. Besides -” Jim thinks of the mind meld on Delta Vega with Ambassador Spock. He thinks of the vivid image of another man that is and isn’t him, someone far brighter, stronger, and less broken than himself. “Besides, he’s probably a far better man than I ever could be.”

“. . . He?”

There is a long silence. Spock laughs. Jim tightens his grip on Spock’s bare thighs. “What? What’s so funny?”

“Look, I appreciate you trying to convince me to change my mind, but I’m pretty sure Jim and I will never be together. Also? Jim is a girl and she’s kinda super gay.”

Jim’s thoughts stutter to a halt.

She? Gay?

Jim replays their countless conversations, but cannot remember any mention of a pronoun - or sexuality. 

“I mean, I thought you knew. Her name is Jim. You’re the one with the unusual predominantly-female name.”

“Not in this world,” Jim says weakly.

Spock rests his bare hands on Jim’s shoulders. “Jim, enough about her. Look at me. Look at what I’ve been doing, how I spend my time with you, how I want to be with you. Fuck, look at what I’m trying to do right now.” Spock makes a noise of frustration. “Why can’t you see that you’re the one that I want? What more do I have to do? What will it take to convince you?”

(Jim pressed his forehead to the Ambassador’s. “Please, Spock. What will it take to convince you?”)

Spock leans down and tilts his head. Jim can’t turn away.

The initial hesitant kiss snaps a barely hanging thread in Jim’s body, and he surges up to meet those lips soft with youth.

For all his smooth talk and constant flirting, Spock reciprocates the kiss with clumsy movements. It is a far echo from the skilled, demanding mouth of the Ambassador. The sensation is weird enough that Jim has to pull back. “That wasn’t your first kiss, was it?”

“Fuck you, of course not,” Spock snaps. His face is extremely flushed, and his eyes are still closed.

Jim can’t remember the last time he felt this giddy. “Your second kiss, then?”

All he gets in response is Spock bumping his face into Jim’s again. Jim smooths his hand over Spock’s cheeks and redirects the young man’s frantic efforts. He sets a slower pace, continuing to caress Spock’s face and neck, encouraging him to relax. 

Spock’s hands flutter from Jim’s arms to Jim’s chest as if he is uncertain where to place them. They finally settle around Jim’s neck as Spock’s mouth follows Jim’s lead, opening to let Jim’s tongue slip in. The taste is as sweet and tart as he remembers.

Jim breaks the kiss to look Spock up and down. “Still nervous?”

“Wasn’t nervous,” Spock mutters. His hands twitch from where they’re touching Jim’s skin. “Stop feeling so fucking smug, I can hear everything.”

Jim repeatedly runs his hands through Spock’s hair. The dreadful bleached locks have almost fully grown out. It seems the young man took Jim’s disapproval to heart. 

Jim leans in again. Spock is a quick learner, and their kissing is gradually turning heated. Spock reaches for the tie around Jim’s bathrobe. Jim resists, embarrassed of his aging body and its developing girth. It has been a while since anyone looked at him naked, and his body has grown soft and wholly unimpressive from neglect.

Spock tries again, and Jim grabs his wrists. “We don’t have to do that,” Jim says, his voice hoarse. 

“What if I fucking want to-”

Jim tangles his hand into Spock’s hair and yanks back hard, exposing the column of his smooth neck and his bare chest. Spock arches his back with a needy groan, spreading his legs wider to comply with Jim’s wordless demand. 

The towel around his waist has slipped off onto the patio, exposing the already wet space between his legs. The sign of his arousal is leaking through his slit onto Jim's thigh. Jim groans and presses his palm up to the sheath where he knows the cock is hidden inside. “Fuck, you’re so gorgeous.”

Spock’s breath hitches. 

Not letting up his grip on Spock’s hair, Jim lets his slick-covered fingers drag up Spock’s body to trace the soft curve of his pecs, defined but sparse with hair. He presses his thumb to a dark nipple and Spock twitches forward, a questioning noise escaping his lips. Jim rolls the bud between thumb and index finger.

Spock swallows back a moan. Jim lets go of his hair to gently force his fingers between Spock’s teeth. “Open your mouth. Let me hear you.”

Spock is panting now, pupils blown wide with lust. Jim watches his sleek chest expand and contract, momentarily enraptured. He braces one hand on Spock’s hip and lets the other drags back and forth between the folds of the wet slit. Spock curses and clenches his body around Jim’s fingers.

Jim listens to the wanton cries grow louder as he thrusts his fingers between the folds with well-practiced motions. Carefully, he teases the cock out from its inner sheath, watching it become fully erect. He himself is already hard.

“Jim - shit!” Jim scrapes a nail between the ridges of the head and Spock whimpers. “Jim -” Spock bucks forward. 

Jim retracts his hand, keeping his touch feather light. “Yeah? You like that?”

Spock glares. “Jim.

Jim purses his lips. “If you’re trying to convince me, you’re not doing a very good job.”

Spock groans and thrusts forward again, but Jim moves his hand with Spock’s body. “Jim! Fuck-

“Sorry, did you say something?” Jim teases the skin of his inner thigh, spreading the slick dripping onto his  fingers. 

Spock snaps. His voice is loud and desperate as he pleads. “Jim, please, please touch me, please, fuck-” He gasps as Jim take him in hand, his strokes firm and insistent. The obscene noises mix with Spock’s begging. Jim can feel Spock's pleasure growing, electric though the places they are touching each other. 

Jim slips a hand behind Spock and presses a slick finger to his velvety hole. Spock arches back, vocal and frantic as the pleasure rises to a peak. Jim eases Spock though the receding orgasm, watches his entire body tremble. His cock slips back inside its sheath and Spock falls against Jim, chin hooked over Jim’s shoulder.

The cool pendant presses sharp into Jim’s chest, trapped between them.

Jim suddenly feels as if he has been plunged into icy water. He looks at the young Vulcan lying blissfully fucked out on top of him, and the burning desire is instantly replaced by crushing, overwhelming guilt. 

Spock wriggles to catch Jim’s lips again, and Jim pushes him away. “Spock, stop.”

Spock lets Jim get up and walk back inside the house. “Jim?” Spock follows him into the kitchen. Jim reluctantly looks back at the young Vulcan.

He stands barefoot on the tile, naked with his slick still dripping between his legs. He looks more vulnerable and enticing than ever before. “Jim, what’s going on?”

Jim swallows. “I apologize - for my lapse in control. I should’ve never done that.”

“What - ?” Spock still looks in denial of the turn of events.

“We can’t keep doing this. It’s-” 

“Wrong? Illogical? Fuck that,” Spock scoffs. His voice is bitter. Jim remains silent.

“Jim.” Spock takes a step forward, chest quivering. “I haven’t told you something - the truth is - this might be my last chance to stay. The - the higher ups finally noticed what I’ve been doing. They probably won’t ever let me fly a ship again, much less let me come back to you.”

He moves closer to Jim again, his voice full of fear. “I know you've noticed by now. There’s nothing in that world for me. I don't want to go back.”

“Spock, you saw how close my crew and former first officer were with each other. I promise the same destiny is waiting for you. You’re meant to be with your own crew. To be loved by many. You can’t have any of that here.”

“Don’t kick me out,” Spock says in a small voice. 

Jim whirls around to face Spock. “Do you know how long Vulcans live? When I first met my Spock, he was already a hundred and fifty-seven years old.” Jim emphasizes the distinction, and Spock’s eyes are wide with hurt and shock. “My Spock lived without his Jim for ninety-four years before he chanced upon this universe. How much longer would you have to live without me if we got together?”

Spock flinches. “Don’t say things you’ll regret.”

“I already regret ruining your life this much.” Jim gestures at the door. 

Spock exhales as if he’s been punched. “You’re fucking kidding me.”

“Put on some clothes and go.”

Spock wavers. He must see something in Jim’s unrelenting expression because he chokes back a sob and leaves the kitchen.

Jim doesn’t hear him moving around upstairs. All he is aware of is the roaring in his ears.

The young Vulcan slowly walks back into view, wrapped in that tantalizing black flightsuit that Jim first saw him in. “If you’re gonna change your mind, you’d better do it now.”

Jim doesn’t respond. Spock steps closer. “Jim?” Tears are finally falling down that smooth, young face. “Jim.”

Jim turns his head away.

Spock takes a shuddering breath. “Of all the people I thought I could trust, you’ve got to be the worst.” Spock exits without closing the door behind him.

The soft sound of ignition seeps through the open door and through the walls.

There’s a flash of light.

Silence.

Jim slams his fists on the counter and pushes the coffee machine off the edge. The fragments explode and scatter across the tile.

He storms to the entryway and slams the door shut.

 

 

The shattered coffee machine remains on the floor.

Against his will, Jim waits in denial for over a month.

Nothing. 

He really is gone.

Chapter Text

With heavy footsteps, Jim finally goes to examine the wreckage he caused in his kitchen.

For a moment all he can do is lean on the door frame and stare with grief at the damage. The coffee machine looks more or less how it looked the day Jim destroyed it. Every inch is thoroughly shattered, with no hope of repair. 

Jim locates a trash bag and a durable pair of gloves. He begins to clear the largest pieces of debris, tossing them into the bag. Something bright yellow amongst the shattered metal catches Jim’s eye.

Jim’s heart stutters as he recognizes the color of a memory card.

He slowly removes his gloves and extracts the compact card from where it had been crammed into the filter basket with a couple of random trinkets. The card is intact. It has managed to survive the ordeal.

Abandoning the mess, Jim stands and rushes to his room. 

He can feel his heart beating in his throat as he climbs up the stairs and opens the door. He retrieves the PADD from where he left it charging at its stand. Standing in the middle of his floor, Jim slides the yellow chip into his PADD. 

The memory card loads. 

A list of video files appears. Take 00001. Take 00002. . .

There’s a moment of hesitation. 

Jim finally opens the first file and presses play.

Ambassador Spock’s face fills the screen.

Jim.

He looks awkward. He sits in his room, the familiar walls of his house in the background. Jim recognizes the tunic he wears. It is a light yellow hue, with a rough texture.

He looks so good and Jim's eyes are already watering and Jim misses him so fucking much he can’t breathe.

Jim. . . Oh, for the love of Surak-” Spock reaches at the screen, and the video ends.

Jim stares.

Jim opens the next video. This one is almost identical, with Spock attempting to speak, only to mutter and end the recording.

Takes three and four pass in the same manner. Spock looks adorably frustrated in each one.

Jim pauses. The last video is a far larger file size compared to the previous videos. He opens it.

Spock sits back in contemplation. “Perhaps it will be best if I speak first and edit the footage afterwards. . .” He sighs. “But I do not wish to look at the recording.

Spock pauses. “I do not know why I am saying this.” Jim involuntarily chuckles, eyes still full of tears. 

Spock clears his throat. “Jim - Doctor McCoy may be a factor in my decision to preserve a recording for you. I do not think he ever forgave me for abandoning you.

Jim thinks of Bones' devastated face at the funeral.

I believe that it would cause you needless emotional pain to attempt and explain my actions. I have already accepted the consequences. It is already too late to change what I have done. However, the doctor caused me to reconsider. It is true that human nature seeks understanding and closure.

Spock breathes in. “Due to my Vulcan biology, there is a time every seven years - a circumstance shrouded under a veil of mystery and secrecy. It is considered to be a highly private matter within Vulcan society, and there are very few outsiders who know of it. We call it the pon farr.

Spock is looking past the camera, his expression hazy. “Our minds are - overcome by an uncontrollable madness. We must submit to the time of mating, or die.

Jim sits in shock. It’s his first time hearing of it. Spock’s counterpart of Jim’s universe never mentioned such a thing.

Jim - my bondmate - when he died, I expected to never feel this urge ever again. But as soon as I entered this universe and encountered you, I immediately recognized it.” Spock grips at his side, flexing his fingers. “The broken bond demanded to be fulfilled once more, Jim. Even now -

Spock winces visibly and Jim grips the screen tighter. Now that Spock mentions it, Jim can see that Spock looks slightly flushed and unwell. Jim connects the dots and his traitorous brain counts the years. Seven, seven, seven-

Spock would've gone into pon farr ten days before Jim received the news about his death.

Spock regains his composure. “I will be unable to survive the cycle with anyone else. But I could not demand such a request from you. You would have no choice in the matter. I know you would choose to save my life at your own expense.

Jim squeezes his eyes shut. Fucking hold it together, fuck-

Spock continues to speak, unaware of Jim’s distress. “In the process of saving me, you would be bound to me permanently. You are still young, Jim. You have an entire destiny waiting in your future - your place is not to fulfill my needs.” Spock looks at the ceiling. There’s a painful jab through Jim’s stomach as he watches Spock trying to validate the choice he has made for them.

This is not me asking for forgiveness, but please try to understand, Jim. I tell you these things - this was the correct thing to do, but - as the day draws closer, I myself am forgetting the logic of my decision. Regret at this time is pointless, and yet-

Spock looks up at the ceiling again. It's only when his breath hitches that Jim realizes with alarm that Spock is crying. 

Oh god. Those are tears on his face.

Spock’s voice is broken. “Oh, Jim, why can't I stop hurting the people I love?

For a moment, Jim couldn’t see the screen anymore, the sobs he was holding back wracking his chest.

God, he must look like a fucking mess, kneeling on the floor, crying and gripping the PADD like a lifeline.

Spock suddenly let out a breath of laughter. He wipes at his own tears with gentle hands, and Jim feels like his stomach's been stabbed again. “Oh, Surak, now that was something he must undoubtedly never see.

Jim watches Spock slowly regain control, breathing in slowly, his eyes closed and beautiful face serene.

Spock looks back at the screen again, eyes filled with warmth. “I speak the truth, Jim. I was so happy to have you, even if it was only for a little while.

He smiles at the screen. “I hope you can find it in your heart to forget a foolish old man in love. It’s okay, Jim. My time has been long and prosperous. I wish the same to you.

Jim closes his eyes.

I love you, Jim.

The video ends.

Jim checks the data again, despite already knowing what's there.

The footage was created days before Spock went into pon farr. There is no final edit anywhere. It is clear that in the end, Spock had decided not share anything and had expected his belongings to be destroyed along with his final secrets.

Jim fumbles for his comm. He dials a number he has memorized long ago. He doesn’t expect the call to connect.

Jim puts the comm to his ear. 

The comm clicks. “Yeah?”

“. . . Bones?”

A terse silence.

“About fucking time,” comes the grumpy reply. “I’m not getting any younger over here, you know.”

The undercurrent of warmth in the Doctor's tone sets off Jim’s sobbing again.

Bones doesn't sound surprised. “That’s good, Jim. Let it all out.”

Jim curls on the floor. “I’m s-so sorry,” he slurs.

“Jim - do not apologize, good god. What's going on?”

“I hate him. I hate him, I hate him, Bones. Did he really think he could just apologize and that everything would be okay?”

Silence. “Jim, this isn't who I think it is, is it?”

“Ambassador Spock - I saw a recording he made for me, but I don’t think I was supposed to see it. The movers probably piled everything together and put it into his coffee machine.” Jim can’t stop his voice from trembling. “I broke it, and found this memory card inside.” 

“Fuck, Jim.”

Jim is curled up on the floor, forehead pressed to the wood. “Oh god, he looked really ill. I think he was in a lot of pain when he died, Bones.” The tears overwhelm his senses again. “He was scared and all alone and I hate him for not letting us help.”

His chest hurts. Everything hurts.

As Jim sobs into the phone, Bones keeps talking with gentle words, assuring Jim of his presence. 

The uncontrollable breaths slowly begin to ease out. Jim shudders and tries to take a deep breath, then another.

There's a minuscule, curious feeling at the bottom of his heart. He wants to think it's peace, but is afraid to hope so.

“Jim?”

Jim breathes again. “Yeah?”

“Feel better?”

Jim's head feels like it’s splitting in half. There’s that buzzing, hollow feeling you get after crying too hard for too long. Jim doesn’t remember the last time he’s cried that hard. He doesn’t remember the last time he’s cried

That calm inside Jim doesn’t go away. 

“Yeah, actually. I think I feel better now.”

“That's good,” Bones says, his voice gruff again. 

“I don't actually hate him, Bones.”

“I know, kid.”

“I'm glad you answered the comm.”

“I'm glad you called, Jim. I missed you. We all did.”

“I miss you too.” Jim sits with his back to the wall. “How - have you been? Where’s the Enterprise?”

“Funny you call us now. Shore leave’s in a week, we're headed in the direction of New Vulcan. You wanna meet us halfway at Starbase Seven?”

Jim would have to leave tonight to catch them in time. He looks down at himself. He hardly looks presentable. “I haven't left the planet ever since I came to New Vulcan.”

“No pressure. It’s your choice, Jim.”

They talk briefly a moment longer before Bones has to hang up. 

Jim washes his face in the sink, and looks at his dripping reflection. It’s about time some changes were made. And Jim has to have another conversation that’s long overdue.

 

 

“Captain,” Jim says with a grin.

“Please, Jim. Just Spock is fine.”

Jim slides into the booth across from Spock. The restaurant is empty except for them. After the waiter takes their orders, they sit in silence. 

Jim always thought there was some movie magic going on with the television screen, but the handsome Vulcan really hasn't aged a single day. His skin is pale and flawless as ever. Jim feels even shoddier in comparison with his own greying hair and wrinkles.

Jim attempts to speak up. “I hope life as a captain is treating you well.”

Spock shifts, a rare glimpse of his discomfort. “It is fine, thank you.”

Jim manages not to comment on how long it took for Spock to finally reciprocate Jim's attempts at small talk ('Conversation cannot be diminutive in size, Captain'). That way will just lead to unnecessary escalating emotions. And probably a fight.

Jim sighs. “Actually, Spock. I wanted to apologize to you.”

Spock’s fingers freeze around his water cup.

“Dating you while I was still in love with your counterpart - it was unfair to you, and I shouldn't have done it. I’m sorry.”

Jim is startled by the surprise that is displayed on Spock's face.

Spock doesn't attempt to hide his shameful frown. “I must apologize as well, Capt- Jim,” he corrects himself. 

Jim's throat is tight. “Say sorry to me?”

“My own selfish intentions clouded the intent of my relationship with you. I desired an outlet for the unpleasant emotions I was experiencing rather than a beneficial partnership.” Spock looks him in the eye. “I apologize for hurting you.”

“We both hurt each other,” Jim corrects. “But - thank you. That means a lot, Spock.”

Spock offers a tentative smile, which is readily returned.

A comm whistles, startling Jim. Spock grabs his comm and grimaces. “I should take this.” Spock holds the comm to his ear. “Yes?”

Silence. “That is wholly inappropriate, Leonard.”

Bones? First name basis? Huh. Jim rests his chin on his hands, intrigued.

Spock listens for a moment longer. He holds the comm up at Jim. “He is worried.”

“Worried for us or about us?”

Spock rolls his eyes. The more open displays of emotion make way more sense. Bones is clearly rubbing off on the Vulcan. “Jim, please say something to alleviate his concerns.”

Jim leans over the table. “Such little faith in us, Bones. We have the ability to be civil.  We've been having the most pleasurable conversation.” He purrs the last words into the comm and Bones audibly splutters as Spock gives Jim an all too familiar look of disapproval.

Jim laughs as he hears the doctor cursing at him unintelligibly. Spock returns the comm to his ear. “. . . Yes,” Spock says. Jim sees a spark in his cool eyes. “Wait until I return to our quarters, Doctor. I will show you intensely pleasurable.”

He hangs up. Jim lets out a deep breath. “God, poor Bones. I don't envy that man.” Their food arrives, and Jim digs in but Spock picks at his food. Jim looks up to ask a question, and realizes he is being warily scrutinized. “What's up, Captain?”

Spock glances at his comm. “. . . You are not upset that we did not inform you?”

Jim puts down his utensils to lean forward. “Spock, I promise I'm telling the truth right now. I'm happy for you two. Besides, it's not like either of us were in a position where we could talk about that kind of thing.”

Spock relaxes, then hesitates. “Then I must admit, I am curious as to what finally encouraged you to reconnect with the crew.”

Jim sighs. He doesn't mention the video. “Time, I guess. And - I met someone.” Jim can't help the melancholy tone of voice as he thinks of the younger Spock.

“I see.” Spock doesn’t ask for further information, and Jim is grateful. “Is there a reason for concern?”

Jim smiles. “You know there's always trouble if I'm involved.”

Spock shakes his head. “Indeed.”

 

Chapter Text

Two years pass.

Jim’s life has changed so much. Changed for the better.

Now Jim frequently contacts the Enterprise and her crew; he has made a new habit of drinking together with Bones every Saturday night over the video comm. It’s like the distance between them never existed.

Bones had been hesitant discussing this universe’s Spock with Jim, but Jim continued to remain supportive and happy for them.

Jim would’ve thought Spock to be the jealous one between the two, but Bones shows a streak of possessiveness Jim’s never seen before. During one of their drinking nights, Bones confesses it’s the reason his first marriage didn’t work out, but Spock seems to preen under the constant attention.

Jim keeps his adjusted work schedule, and with his free time resumes his habit of daily running. While looking for a new gym, he chances upon one of the many growing archives on New Vulcan. The libraries are beloved to the Vulcans, and are a symbol of the strength and future of the survivors. This one is hiring volunteers. Jim applies.

He loves the work. He finds many new acquaintances there to have elaborate discussions on all kinds of subjects, literature and starship machinery and history. He even makes a new friend or two.

One of his new Vulcan friends even subtly requests a date, but Jim finds himself declining. It’s too early. He’s still thinking about him

Jim thinks about the Spock that left for his own universe again. He still hasn’t told anybody about the young Vulcan that crashed in his backyard and changed his life.

It hurts that Jim was never able to say a proper goodbye, that Jim didn’t fully understand what he himself was going through at that time. Jim would’ve liked to see him again.

He thinks all of this as he returns to his house from work. He gets out of the hovercar and turns to face the house.

Jim freezes. The porch lights are on. 

He runs to the backyard. There’s a familiar-looking ship torn up and embedded into the sand, still sending up sparks and smoke. Jim sprints to the house door and rushes into the living room.

A shadowed figure is curled up on the unfolded couch bed.

Jim drops his keys. “Spock?”

The figure is standing up in a flash, the couch bed between them. He stumbles another step back. 

“Jim?”

Jim flips on the lights, and Spock winces.

It’s him. He’s older, with a deeper tan and short dark hair. The bleached ends are completely gone. 

His face is gaunt and he looks too thin and he’s here in Jim’s room right in front of Jim.

Jim rushes over and envelops him in an embrace. Spock presses bare hands all over Jim’s body, slips his fingers under Jim’s loose shirt to touch his torso. Jim feels familiar sparks touching his mind. 

“Jim,” Spock sobs. “It’s you.”

He’s taller than me, Jim thinks distantly.

“It’s really you. Fuck. I made it back.” Spock is crying into Jim’s shoulder, clinging hard enough to leave bruises. 

Jim breathes in, still hardly able to believe Spock is in his arms, trembling and about to sag to the floor.

“Why don’t you sit down,” Jim offers. Spock allows himself to be led to the edge of the couch bed but he doesn’t let go of Jim, fingers still probing at bare skin. 

Spock looks at Jim with wet eyes. He lets out a breath of laughter. “You haven’t aged at all.”

Jim cradles the younger man’s unnaturally skinny face in his hands. He’s starting to worry. “What happened to you?”

Spock shakes his head. Jim runs his hands through Spock’s hair, and Spock flinches as if he’s been burned. 

Jim yanks back his hands. “Spock?”

Spock cowers. “Sorry. Sorry,” he mutters.

“Spock, no, it’s okay. What’s wrong?” Spock shakes his head again. 

“Spock.” Jim lets his voice go softer still. “You know that I know you, right? You know I love you. There’s nothing you could do that would make me love you less.”

Spock lies down with his face in Jim’s lap. “You wouldn’t say that if you knew what I did.”

“Oh, Spock. Have some faith in an old man.” Afraid to touch his hair again, Jim reaches a hand to Spock’s. With index and middle finger outstretched, he caresses the lines on Spock’s palm, then the creases between his fingers, one by one. Spock’s breath hitches.

As Jim continues his gentle touch, the tension slowly leaks out. Jim begins massaging those beautiful hands, keeping his touch gentle.

Spock turns his face up. “Jim?” Spock’s voice is very small. His breath flutters as he tries to form words. He tries again.

“What do you know about Tarsus IV?”

Oh, hell no. The sinking feeling in Jim’s entire body is thick and pitch black as tar. 

Spock keeps talking rapidly. “Starfleet Academy gave me a choice. I was offered shortened probation on a colony planet called Tarsus IV, and I thought - it was only gonna be a year, what’s the worst that could happen?”

Jim curses. “Spock.”

Spock doesn’t stop talking. “But then th-the colony crops were infected with a disease and we were isolated and running out of food, and - the governor-”

“Spock. You don’t have to tell me.”

Spock freezes. “You know?”

Jim takes a deep breath. “In this reality, I was the one that went to Tarsus.”

Spock scrambles to sit up and touch Jim, eyes full of fear. “Fuck. Are you okay?”

Jim feels a twinge of pain in his heart. Even in his state of distress, Spock is more concerned about Jim’s past from years, decades ago.

“Are you okay?” Spock repeats. “Did you - win the trial?”

“What? Governor Kodos died in a fire before Starfleet made it to Tarsus. There wasn’t any trial to be had. What's this about a trial?”

It’s like all the energy has drained from Spock. He puts his head on Jim's shoulder. “It doesn’t matter. I’m never going back there, anyways.”

“Spock, what happened?”

“I was one of them. The half of the colony population chosen to be executed, but then - Jim, I don't understand what happened.” Spock’s voice goes quiet. “It was like my blood was burning. I needed someone to touch me. And - Kodos noticed.”

Jim freezes. Spock doesn't continue speaking. Jim holds Spock’s hand again. “Spock, it sounds like you were going through pon farr.”

“Pon - farr? What's that?”

“The mating time. It happens to all Vulcans, every seven years. If they don't have sex, they die.”

“It - happens to all Vulcans?” Spock grips the bedsheet. He looks devastated. Enraged. “Jim, I had no idea. No one told me. I didn't want it, I didn't want any of it. But my body needed him and I didn't understand why.” Spock closes his eyes, and his voice is broken. “Kodos kept me in his house, like a pet. The entire trial - no one believed me when I denied seducing Kodos so that he wouldn't kill me.”

Jim could imagine it - Spock caught off guard by the intensifying desire of his flesh, impossible to ignore. He could easily imagine the corrupt governor eager to take advantage of the desperate young man.

He could imagine Spock standing alone in the courtroom, unsupported and scared and confused. The incredulous judge. The lack of Vulcans, who have chosen to preserve their secrets rather than assist a half-human of their own kind. 

Jim is suddenly enraged at the Vulcan society and their refusal to break their pointless rules of tradition.

Spock is talking again. “The lawyers had the fucking nerve to keep telling me what I did was consensual. That I wanted him to bend me over the head office desk and fuck my ass until I bled.”

Jim can’t help it. He winces. Governor Kodos's lawyers were no doubt expensive, the best that Kodos could afford. Kodos would have no doubt left the courtroom alive and smug and unscathed by the law.

“Everyone was calling me a liar, Jim. I couldn't stay there any longer.”

Jim blinks in disbelief. “You escaped during the trial?”

“Fucking hijacked a ship during recess.  And I don't care what the verdict is.” Spock wraps his hands around Jim’s body, the heat in his voice falling to a hushed, worried tone. “Did he - Kodos - touch you?”

“No. I was too busy stealing food and running away from the soldiers.”

Spock ponders this in silence. Jim kisses his forehead. “Don’t worry about me, Spock. I was much younger than you, and it was such a long time ago. Nothing close to what you had to go through.”

Spock breathes against Jim’s neck, sending shivers down his spine. “At least,” Spock’s voice wavers, “At least my first time was with you.”

Jim closes his eyes. 

He suspected as much, but to hear the confirmation makes something growl inside him, guilt and joy swirling together.

Jim leans back to look Spock in the eye. “Spock. What should I do?”

The answer is immediate. “I want you in me. Right now.”

Jim hesitates. “Spock-”

“Don't make me have to beg,” Spock snaps. His chest heaves. “He made me beg, Jim.”

“Oh, love. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Spock buries his head against Jim’s chest. “He laughed when I begged for him to touch me. He made me say that I was his cockslut and I belonged to him.” Spock is crying again. “Jim, how could you still want me after knowing what I’ve done?”

“Spock.” Spock looks up with watery eyes. Jim takes a deep breath. “Before I attended the academy, I slept with anyone that let me enter their apartment. When I was at the academy, I fucked around with probably a third of the entire campus. I had Ambassador Spock and then Captain Spock in my bed despite knowing I wouldn’t be able to keep either of them. And it was all my choice. You didn't have a choice at all. I’m not proud of what I've done but I won’t pretend my past was something it wasn't. Do you still want me, knowing that?”

Spock is silent. Jim waits, feeling his heart pounding in his chest.

There's no hesitation in Spock's reply. “You’re careful with me. You worry about me, you want me when no one else does. Nothing could change how I feel about you.”

“Well, it’s no different for me.” Jim smooths his hands over Spock’s thighs. “Wait here. I’ll be right back.”

 

Chapter Text

Jim returns and sets down lube and a condom. He turns on his medical tricorder. “If you want me to penetrate you, we really should do all this first.”

Jim barely quells his rising anger as the tricorder informs him of Spock’s healing shoulders, recently set after being dislocated. The tricorder also reads signs of malnutrition and sleep-deprivation. There are remnants of bruising along Spock’s back and thighs that the dermal regenerator could not heal, along with several healed anal fissures. There’s a low risk of reopening them if Jim is thorough with preparation, but he resolves to be extra gentle.

Jim chastely kisses Spock as the tricorder loads their STI readings. He expects his negative reading, and shows the results to Spock, but is relieved to see Spock’s test is negative as well.

“I tested negative before the trial, too.” Spock pushes aside the supplies and grabs Jim’s wrist with an impatient tug. “Are you gonna fuck me now?”

Jim merely kisses Spock again. “You wanna be on top? Would that make you more comfortable?”

Spock shakes his head. “He made me lie down on him and service him.”

Jim closes his eyes. “None of that is happening here. Lie back for me?”

Spock nods once, so Jim eases him down onto the covers. Jim frames his forearms around Spock's head and kisses him on the forehead. “That okay?”

Spock moves a little under Jim's pressing body. He exhales. “Yeah. Very okay.”

Jim can feel Spock's rapid heartbeat at his lower side. “I’m not crushing you?”

Spock closes his eyes and tilts his chin up. “Feels safe,” he whispers. Jim nuzzles Spock's neck, and Spock makes a soft, content sound.

Jim drinks in the sight of the young man's face right in front of his. Spock’s lips are slightly chapped and his closed eyes are framed with shadows. There are sharp creases of tension at the corners that weren't there before.

Spock’s eyes slide open, dark and inquisitive because Jim hasn't made any further movement. 

Jim feels like his chest will burst from the affection bubbling up inside him. He presses feather light kisses over Spock’s eyebrows, his nose and cheeks. Jim feels a deep satisfaction when the corners of Spock’s mouth finally begin to tilt up. He presses a kiss to the edge of the smile.

Spock shyly tugs at Jim's sleeve. “Can you take off your clothes?”

Jim sits up and strips his shirt in one swift motion. Spock stares in awe as Jim removes his pants, then his underwear. Jim rests on hands and knees on top of Spock, resisting the urge to shield himself and his half-hard cock from Spock’s unrelenting gaze. “What else?”

“I don't know,” Spock says helplessly. His fingers grasp at his own clothes, clearly still conflicted about removing them. “I just - I don't want to be scared anymore.”

Jim kisses Spock. “You let me know right away if something bothers you.” He brings one of Spock’s hands to his face and curls his lips around the tip of one finger. Spock falls silent, mouth wide open.

Jim slides the finger deeper, lets his teeth catch on the ridges of the skin. Spock gasps. “Jim?” His voice trembles.

Jim takes another finger into his mouth and sucks harder. Then he turns his attention to the other hand. Before long Spock is breathing hard, spreading his thighs wider.

Jim inches up the hem of Spock's thin white t-shirt, revealing taut muscle. “God, you’ve gotten way too skinny. Gonna have to fix that later.” Jim shoves the shirt all the way to his armpits. The tricorder had showed Spock's chest had been left untouched by Kodos, and Jim is going to take advantage of that.

Jim presses a gentle kiss to a nipple before laving it with his tongue. Spock arches with a soft cry, and Jim lifts his head. Spock reaches for Jim’s retreating face. “You don't have to be so slow.”

“I want to make sure you’re okay,” Jim says with worry. A small smile forms on Spock’s lips and he tenderly traces the features of Jim's face. 

Jim leans back down to kiss the other nipple. He sucks lightly until it’s drenched in his saliva. As Jim sits back up to kiss Spock, he pinches both nipples between his thumbs and fingers. Spock gasps as Jim toys with the buds, rolling them with slow and even pressure. 

Spock thrusts up into the touch, his mouth slack. Jim carefully inches his hands down to Spock’s hips. “Yeah? Okay?” 

Spock wriggles out of his shirt. Jim takes that as permission to tug down his pants. Spock lets himself be fully undressed, keeping his gaze locked on Jim. His cock is beginning to show through the folds of its sheath.

Jim grabs the bottle of lube. Spock hasn't produced enough natural lubrication yet and Jim doesn't want to make him wait. Jim warms the lube between his hands before pressing a finger into Spock.

It slides in without resistance. Jim frowns as he moves the finger around. He adds another and stretches the loose hole obscenely.

Spock is blushing. “Kodos - he used a dermal regenerator before every time he - um - anyways, I don't think that's how they're supposed to be used. There were side effects from it being used too frequently. The doctor said it might be a couple weeks-”

Jim removes his fingers. “I'll go to your reality and fucking kill Kodos myself.” Spock makes a soft noise. “What?”

“You would do that? For me?”

“You'd better fucking believe it. I was never as noble as you.” Jim resumes carefully thrusting his fingers inside Spock, but the hole stretches easily to accommodate him. Jim presses his lips together as he lubricates his own hard cock and hooks Spock's knees over his shoulders. 

“Spock?” Jim kisses Spock's trembling lips, strokes his unaroused sheath where the cock has slipped back inside Spock's body. “Oh, love. This doesn't make you feel good at all, does it?” 

Spock grips Jim's shoulders as if afraid Jim will change his mind. “I need this, Jim.” His eyes bore into Jim’s soul. “I can't let him be the last one that was inside me.”

Jim mouths at Spock’s neck, murmuring apologies and encouragement as he lines up and slowly, slowly presses inside him. He groans as his cock fills the tightness of the hole, and his hips stutter forward against his will. Spock urges Jim deeper with the backs of his legs. Jim experimentally angles his hips and Spock gasps and twitches. “Spock?” Jim looks up as Spock covers his face.

“Please. Don't do that again.”

Jim kisses Spock in apology and steadily rocks his hips, trying his best to avoid the prostate. It's been a while since he's fucked someone and despite Spock's discomfort, Jim's orgasm builds rapidly.

“Yes, yes,” Spock hisses, clenching Jim's shoulders again. “Need you in me Jim, fuck-” He keeps babbling as Jim thrusts faster. The release is sudden, and Jim feels Spock clenching as Jim spills hot and wet inside him. 

Jim wipes at the tears welling up in Spock's eyes. “You okay?”

Spock lets out a small laugh. “Yeah.”

Jim removes his spent cock with a grunt. His come spills out and leaks onto the bedsheets.

“Here, sit up so you can see me.” Jim guides Spock to sit up and rest against the back of the couch bed, feet planted against the mattress, knees bent and parted. Still feeling high off the dopamine, Jim flops down between Spock's legs and spreads them a little wider. “Trust me. You'll like this.”

Jim licks a long stripe up his slit. Spock's head falls back with a loud groan. 

Jim tickles his tongue at the bottom of the slit before dragging it between the folds. He uses his thumbs to part the slit, and kisses the inner sheath where the cock is beginning to peek through again. He lets his lips and tongue trail to the inner walls of the folds, tasting the sticky intense tart-sweet flavor.

“Fuck, fuck,” Spock pants. His slick is beginning to pool under him. He arches into Jim's tongue, gripping the couch behind him. Jim pauses to move one of Spock's arms down to his head. Spock seems to understand and lowers his hands, but he remains gentle, stroking and running his fingers through Jim's hair.

Jim parts the folds again and blows gently across the slick flesh. He returns to licking, kissing and sucking with varying degrees of pressure, and he feels Spock gradually falling apart under his tongue. Jim hums against his sheath and Spock keens.

The hidden cock finally unsheathes, dripping with sweet slick. Spock chokes back a shout when Jim wraps his lips around the head and hollows his cheeks. Jim takes in the length deeper, memorizing the weight of the cock on his tongue.

Jim moves a hand back to the glistening space between Spock's thighs under his cock, where he knows he can bring greater pleasure to the young Vulcan. He rubs two fingers firmly at the base of the cock where it is connected to the inner sheath.

Spock jerks and curses, his voice unsteady with arousal. Jim lets the cock slip out of his mouth and readjusts his body so that he can press at the spot over and over with two fingers.

It’s enough to tip Spock over the edge. Jim keeps murmuring as the orgasm causes Spock’s hips to writhe under Jim’s gentling strokes. “So good, love. So gorgeous.” He rubs his fingers inside the slit again as the cock retracts inside Spock, urging out the waves of aftershocks.

“Jim,” Spock sobs. Jim stretches up to press opened lips to Spock’s, capturing the taste of his own name off those soft lips.

Spock lies limp as Jim goes to bring back a damp cloth. When he returns, he pauses to take in the sight before him. 

Spock's eyes are still closed as he breathes hard, neck still craned back. His legs are spread wide, slick mixing with the come dripping from his hole. He looks thoroughly debauched.

Jim carefully maneuvers Spock’s lax body, taking quiet pleasure in Spock’s silent trust as Jim cleans him. Spock lies on the mattress and lets Jim part his thighs, stretching the wet, smooth skin in between. As Jim wipes the folds of the slit, Spock twitches up to meet the touch. Jim freezes. He looks into Spock's eyes and sees the silent want for more. 

Spock begins to steadily thrust his hips into Jim's touch. The sight is intoxicating. Jim can't resist bending over and running his tongue between the cleaned folds again. Spock shudders and whimpers wordlessly.

“I got you, love. It's okay.” Jim kisses the tips of the folds before kneeling up to kiss Spock. With Spock lying flat on the bed, Jim can press his thighs together and back so that Spock's knees are almost touching his chest and his slit is beautifully presented.

Spock curls his hands over Jim's where they press against the backs of Spock's thighs, keeping his legs held in the air. Jim tongues at the sweet slick beginning to leak out again. He begins to tease the slit with the tip of his tongue, swirling patterns onto the quivering flesh.

By the time he's thrusting his tongue into the slit, breaching the inner folds, Spock is tossing his head back and forth, fingers trembling where they clutch Jim's hands. His cock is trapped in the sheath between the closed thighs, unable to escape. “Jim!”

Jim lets his thighs fall apart, and the cock slides back out. Spock trembles and gasps as Jim milks out another orgasm using his hand, rubbing and squeezing the cock and watching the Spock's shifting expressions with rapt wonder. When he orgasms, his face goes adorably tense except for his slightly parted lips.

Jim kisses Spock and is pleased to hear the sleepy noise in response. He finishes cleaning the younger man before wiping himself off and dropping the cloth. “Bedroom?”

Spock reaches up in compliance. Jim sweeps him into his arms and lifts him away from the mess on the couch bed, a feat he would never be able to achieve if it wasn't for Spock’s skinny frame and Vulcan blood, which renders his bones and muscles efficient and lightweight.

Jim can feel Spock growing drowsier as he carries him into the master bedroom and tucks them both under the plush covers. Jim curls into Spock from behind, feeling content like never before.

“S’ always warm,” Spock murmurs. “You. Always warm.” He snuggles backwards.

Jim hugs Spock a little tighter.

 

 

Jim wakes up to bright sunlight. Spock is still asleep next to him, curled up in the blankets. The tension is temporarily removed from the features of his smooth face, but creases of worry linger in the smooth skin. Jim presses a kiss to the lines at the corner of one closed eye before carefully getting out of bed to go to the bathroom.

Jim is almost done cooking a lavish breakfast when Spock finally wanders into the kitchen, also freshly washed. He is wearing one of Jim's tunics, and the deep collar hangs off one shoulder. It's a familiar sight Jim hasn't seen in a long time. 

Jim almost reaches out to affectionately ruffle Spock’s fluffy towel-dried hair before catching himself.

Spock’s voice is coarse. “Your pendant. You're not wearing it anymore.”

Jim shrugs. “That's true.”

“Can I look at it?”

Jim retrieves the pendant from his bedroom and brings it to Spock. As Jim serves breakfast, Spock sits silently at the table with the pendant in two hands. The hologram of Jim’s counterpart flickers to life, and the recording of the old captain singing Happy Birthday to Ambassador Spock begins. The captain finishes his song and starts an intimate message that Jim has memorized ages ago. 

Spock doesn’t take his eyes off of the recording. “This is all kinda fucked up, isn't it?”

Jim sits down and barks a humorless laugh. “You can say that again.”

Spock looks up at Jim through his lashes. “Do you still love that Spock?”

“I’ve always loved him, just like I’ve always loved you.” Jim presses outstretched index finger and middle fingers to Spock’s palm, projecting his sincerity. Spock smiles, soft and bright.

Jim grips Spock’s hand. “Spock - you know, we don’t have to do this. You don’t owe me anything. If you’re even the slightest bit unsure, I’ll let you go. I’ll help you escape - get situated somewhere your reality won’t ever be able to find you. No strings attached. I promise.”

Spock leans over and kisses Jim, effectively silencing him. “Sorry, old man. You’re stuck with me now.”

Jim wraps his arms around Spock as he moves to sit in Jim’s lap, deepening their kiss.

Jim draws back, slightly breathless. “I’ll have you know, I have a track record of ruining Vulcans’ lives whose names are Spock. Logically. . .”

“Screw logic,” Spock declares. “Let’s decide our own destiny, Jim.”

For once, the lump of emotion welling in Jim’s throat is one of relief.