Spock did not experience anxiety. However, the captain had not been present at the beam-up point, at the appointed time. He was also not answering his comm. This was cause for concern and investigation.
The captain was only ten minutes late and the planet's scenery was certainly diverting. Spock noted that it would most certainly appeal to the captain's sensibilities. Lush woodlands and wide open fields along with a warm temperate climate. There was plenty here to stimulate the poetic flights of fancy he was prone to. It had taken minimal prompting to convince the captain to take his shore leave here. Spock had not even had to resort to trickery this time.
Carefully scanning had determined that there was nothing on the planet with the capability to harm any member of the crew. Yet the honey-sweet air had an almost intoxicating effect. If he knew where his captain was, Spock might have been able to release some of the tension from his posture
Spock's attention was caught by a close configuration of flowers. The captain was interested in flora, although it was more of a romantic inclination than a scientific one. Spock crossed the field which followed a downward slope to a sun-dappled glade. Flowers grew so abundantly here that it would have been difficult for Spock to take a step without crushing several dozen, had someone not already beaten a path. He followed the trail, moving carefully to avoid additional harm to the environment.
He lay on his back, arms crossed behind his head. His chest rose and fell, his breathing slow in sleep. Warm and peaceful and golden, he looked more relaxed stretched out here than Spock had seen him in many weeks. He was beautiful.
It would be a simple thing, to lie down beside him and allow sleep to take him. With the knowledge that his captain was safe and in such pleasant surroundings, yes, sleep would find him easily. As Spock observed the dark fan of Jim's eyelashes across his cheek, he imagined them fluttering as the captain awoke. Would he be startled to see Spock in repose beside him? Or would that gentle smile, the one Jim gave when he found Spock to be particularly incongruent, particularly surprising, would it spread slowly across his face?
Spock took another step closer and his shadow fell across Jim. A darkness, marring this idyllic scene. Spock retreated. He was familiar with stories, sinister gods lusting for love and light that was not theirs. Doctor McCoy had made reference to his satanic appearance more than once.
He knew he would remain darkly covetous all his life, a shadow at his captain's back but he was no Hades.
He would not do that, take Jim in this bed of flowers, bind Jim's life to his, without even the promise of a summer's respite.
Spock stepped forward again, his shadow shielding Jim from the sun. He coughed.
"Captain," he said, tonelessly, when that failed to rouse him.
The captain started and blinked awake. He looked around, disoriented and then smiled when he found Spock.
"Captain, it is time we made our departure."
"Boy, I must have really conked out." The captain pushed himself up into a sitting position but made no move to stand. He leaned back on his hands and squinted up at Spock. "I was having the most wonderful dream."
"The rest of the crew has boarded the ship. We are the last ones planetside." Spock did not wish to discuss dreams.
"So you're saying we have the whole place to ourselves?" The captain tilted his head to the side. When Spock did not respond he sighed and held his hand out.
"Help me up, would you?"
Spock took his hand without hesitation and pulled his captain to his feet. The movement released a fresh cloud of fragrance and shimmering pollen settled on both their uniforms. Motes hovered around Jim's head, making him appear more radiant than usual.
Spock's staring was interrupted by the harsh squawk of his comm. He dropped the captain's hand to answer it.
"Well? Is he dead?"
"Negative doctor, I have located the captain. We are proceeding to the beam up point."
After some indistinct grumbling, Doctor McCoy hung up.
Spock turned to find the captain gazing at his vacated bed with a strange expression on his face. Among humans, the emotion displayed rarely matched the one they truly felt. For all their pride in their emotionality, they were forever trying to disguise what they felt. The captain was more guarded than most, by nature of his position. A captain could only be confident and competent. There was no room for fear or loneliness or-
"Are you ready Captain?"
The captain looked up and his smile was smaller.
"Lead the way Mr. Spock."
Alone in his quarters, Spock sat at his desk, rubbing pollen between his fingers. The powder stained his fingers orange. He should use the sonic but he was reluctant to wash away the sun-soaked scent of the planet. He wondered if he could extract the scent from the pollen still on his clothes, distill it down to its essence and bottle it to keep for himself.
His thoughts of experimentation were interrupted when the door to the fresher slid open.
"Captain." Spock stood to attention.
"At- at ease Spock." The captain looked disappointed, as he always did when Spock erected formalities between them.
He did not understand that Spock was not capable of returning his friendship in so casual a manner. Spock regretted only that his weakness no doubt contributed to the captain's isolation.
By necessity at a remove from the rest of the crew, it was often found that a captain could only confide in their first officer. Spock could not control himself enough to allow his captain even that.
"Was there something you wanted, Captain?" Spock asked after a moment's pause drew on too long. The captain's hair was wet. He would no longer smell of flowers.
"I just wanted to check on you. You seemed a little out of sorts."
"I am in good health Captain, thank you."
"That's not what I was referring to."
If he had been speaking with McCoy perhaps, Spock would have answered to what were you referring? He did not. He wanted this conversation to end.
"Spock." The captain sighed his name. "Have I upset you in some way?"
"It is not possible for you to upset me."
The captain's expression turned rueful.
"No, I suppose not. Tell me, is it possible for me to please you?"
Spock bit back his answer.
"I do not understand, sir."
"What I mean Mr. Spock, is that every time I feel I've made a breakthrough with you, some advancement in camaraderie, just as quickly you retreat." The captain folded his arms and paced, much as he did when they discussed hypothetical manoeuvres. Thinking out loud, the captain called it.
"So, logically," he stroked his chin. "Logically, if there is nothing I can do to upset you, to push you away so to speak, then there must be something I am doing that draws you closer." He stopped his pacing and turned.
"Would you agree?"
"Jim." Spock felt dehydrated.
"Do you want to know what my dream was about Spock? I've had it before I'm quite familiar with the details."
"Jim, please. "
"I dream about you, standing over me, just as you did today. But instead of pulling me to my feet, you lie down beside me. And I wake up and you're not there and I feel like my heart is going to break with the wanting."
He rounded on Spock now, his eyes blazing in a fierce passion. Dimly, Spock recollected and amended his previous observation. Jim was rarely guarded when they were alone.
"Tell me I'm crazy, tell me this is all in my head. Tell me you feel nothing", he pleaded.
Spock inhaled deeply.
"Vulcans…..", he began, then shook his head slowly. The captain's face settled into resignation. "It is not of my culture to lie. Especially not to the ones who are…..beloved to us."
Jim's smile was as fragile as a bud in spring. He stepped closer and his arms came around Spock, tender and strong. They moved slowly against each desire balanced out by uncertainty, until at last the scales tipped in their favour.
Knees buckled and they lay together and Spock's bed smelled of crushed petals for days after.