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trek: K/S

Star Trek XI fic: Vulcans Don't Play Basketball (Part Two)

Title: Vulcans Don't Play Basketball
Characters/Pairings: Prominently Kirk/Uhura but very Spock/Kirk/Uhura. Appearances by McCoy and Chekov.
Rating: R
Summary: Maybe some day they'll have something in common, besides a first officer who sometimes seems like an impossible code to crack.
Warnings (for the entire fic): dubcon, pon farr.
...Prologue...Part One...

A week goes by without it really feeling like anything has changed, but the awkwardness between the two of them that constrained them throughout the year is somehow completely erased. Kirk makes a joking pass at her a couple times and it's playful revenge for her catching him off guard on the turbolift before. Just something under his breath, an overdue compliment on her haircut while he's waiting behind her at the replicator. She rolls her eyes at him and gets on with her work, thinking that at least they're done apologizing to each other.

Two weeks and it hits, this thing that comes gnawing straight out of their blind spots like a hungry shark and has a terrible quiet way of posing its threat, and all of the distance is off, everything they understand about each other comes out onto the table in a blunt cringing way.

And none of it actually matters the day that Spock goes down for an away mission with two ensigns and comes back very, very sick.

That is the too simplified and straightforward version of it that reaches the bridge. A second later Kirk is gone and an hour later there's still no more news except for a murmer going around that nothing that happened on the planet had anything to do with it.

A lot of people care about Spock. Everyone on the bridge, McCoy, some of the rest of the crew: for someone who does not conventionally welcome friendship, he has quite a handful who would call him a friend or at least care enough to be a bit on edge waiting to find out about his condition. The captain can go where he likes, especially where his first officer is urgently concerned. Especially when the entire crew has seen him arbitrarily throw protocol out the window before to protect his closest friends; he's proven he has a very different definition of responsibility than anyone who would tell him that he shouldn't be where he most likely is.

Still. Every minute going by without anyone hearing anything seems to confirm that something is seriously, seriously wrong. She knows, the first chance Kirk had he'd be comming the bridge to let them know, letting her know, if they'd figured out the problem. The way things are going, it doesn't seem like they even know what's going on. She simply can't imagine sitting here, and maybe people will understand, but another part of her is absolutely dreading getting down there and...

She jolts as a hand goes onto her shoulder. Chekov is casting some looks back and forth, leaning his lower back against her console. "...Hi."

She just replies with an unsettled grimace.

Pavel has his own slanted penchant for bucking protocol and usually getting away with it just cause he's Pavel. That attitude is evident along with the casual concern in his expression. "I could fill in for you."

She leans back with her arms crossed, still and uncertain.

He seems to understand her reasons for hesitating. He just makes a soft empty question of a friendly nickname he would usually call her in a more joking tone: "Nee-nee?"

"Okay." With the decision she's out of her chair quite fast, adjusting her hair nervously as she heads for the turbolift and presses the button. She's then alone, waiting anxiously for the thing to open up on the right floor. She's going to kill Kirk. She's going to kill him, if he knows exactly what's going on and hasn't...

She makes it into medical and in a short span of time, she notices the air of tense chaos in the room with no kind of explanation attached to it, just a sort of fearful groaning exclamation she hears before she sees Kirk pacing tightly in front of McCoy where they're located a good distance away from the closed-off bed with the only current patient; and he notices her and starts in a quick flinch over to her. His expression says it before she can think what she needs to ask, and she's shaking her head a little as they kind of naturally back themselves away.

Her voice is hardly above a whisper, so McCoy probably doesn't hear. Just, "What, what is it? God. Please..."

Jim's voice is gravely as he stammers, "We don't know. We don't know, it's so fucked up..." He's raking his fingernails at the back of his neck.

She starts with, "What happened?"

"Apparently they were down there, he was acting a little irritable one minute, the next...kind of angry, is what Tellerman said, but then he was just gone. He's not responding to anything, he doesn't—He doesn't seem to know what's going on, he's just—"

McCoy has come over closer to them and he interrupts in a note of fierce complaint as if against the situation for daring not to make sense to him. "His body is practically attacking itself with these chemicals, it seems—hormonal, but the level of stress on his body, it's gonna kill him if we can't stop it in the next few hours, if even that..."

Jim practically whimpers some curse at that, and Uhura is only composed enough to half-acknowledge that McCoy is practically glaring at him in an uneasy impatience (What the hell are you doing, man, keep it together or I won't be able to either).

"What do you mean—what do you...What do you mean, 'hormonal'?" Jim moves his jaw in irritation at his own difficulties in constructing a sentence, seeming to try really hard to speak slower. "If this is just him, why isn't he—"

"That's the thing..." McCoy's eyes dart down in what Uhura thinks is a brief look of deep guilt. "Before he went, I was giving vaccinations for that virus, and there was a warning in the order that it might have hormonal side effects for Vulcans. And I warned him, but he obviously didn't think it could do anything like this...It's like it stimulated something that didn't exactly need stimulating."

"But you don't know what that something is," Uhura says.

His eyes meet hers, hollowed out with frustration. "...No. Whatever it is, it's not in the comps, and we don't have time to contact—"

"Bones," Jim interrupts. And he has nothing to say.

They all stand in silence for a moment, and McCoy returns to the obscured bed; Uhura walks farther back to the sick bay entrance, scared to even witness what's behind that curtain, to hear him breathing. She senses that Kirk is sort of gravitating after her, but not about to say anything, as she has her back turned to the rest of sick bay.

And then suddenly her eyes pop wide, and she says, "Oh. Oh wait..."

"What?" Jim demands.

She hesitates for a beat. "I need to go get something."

"What are you—"

"Don't—just shut up, I don't know if it is anything, just wait here."

She's never run to her quarters so fast, but she gets there, snatches her PADD off of her night stand, and the whole time she's on the lift trying to find what she's looking for she's thinking, Please oh God, please, let this be something, let this be something, let this be something.

It is something.

After an absence of under ten minutes, the sound of Uhura’s boots thudding down the hall precedes her return; a frantically bemused Kirk looks like he’s about given up on her. He’s even more anxious now, pacing several steps back and forth just outside medical and leaning into a table to grapple the end under his torso within waiting on her approach. She makes her way, out of breath and looking less than consoled but somehow very certain about something. She hands him a disposable PADD reader of the mail messaging variety.

“What is it?”

“All that information the ambassador gave you? He sent Spock some things too—over the course of a month or so after we left Earth—And at one point he sent something along asking him to give it to me. Spock probably assumed it was practically a greeting card, but it was supposed to be really important, only it said...I probably shouldn’t look at the information until...”

“Uhura, what is this?” Kirk snaps, finding little satisfaction in attempting to concentrate on reading the somewhat detailed message, just dropping it dismissively down on the table. He is impatient, irritable, not nearly as calm as he usually is in handling the most dangerous situations that come into his lap. Uhura flinches indecisively, then goes for grabbing his shoulders and turning him sternly in her direction.

“If you want the abridged version?” Her voice is oddly shaking. “He’s in heat. Yes, shut up. Shut up and listen to me, because he is dying...”

“...What,” Kirk lets that one bit of shock hiccup out of his mouth before complying.

“It’s usually over the course of three days, but if McCoy is right about the drugs, he’s going through it much faster than usual, and judging by his condition, he's in the final stage, which isn't good—He may not have much time...”

“To...?” She realizes now that he’s a bit shaky too, more like trembling...

“To mate.”

“Oh. Oh. Jesus...” He looks down at the PADD, back at her, realizes the implications of all that and realizes, “That’s really...This is extremely complicated.”

“Is it really?” Uhura replies, flatly. “Seems pretty straightforward to me."

"So you're gonna do it?" he asks. Just like that.

She's looking at him with an inscrutable bitterness underneath all the anxiety. She bites her thumbnail with slight panic and finally stammers, “He—I mean, an older version of himself gave me this. But now we haven’t been...and I just don’t know...”

“Uhura,” Jim spits out, grabbing her meaninglessly except for want of getting some form of reassurance out of her. “You’re telling me he’s seriously going to die—”

“Ow,” she grimaces. Her wrists are clutched in his hands with a sudden painful force, holding her arms rock-still with a tense strength. “Jim, stop, you’re hurting me...”

He looks down as if only now realizing he was touching her at all, and immediately lets go, muttering a bewildered, “Sorry.” Then he leans into the table for support, his whole body looking somehow wound-up and weak at the same time; Uhura slowly pulls in a breath.

“Oh my God.”

He looks up, whining out, “What?”

“Why didn’t you tell McCoy you feel like that?”

He quickly shakes his head. “I don’t know what I feel like—What the hell does it matter—?”

“—You’re linked with him right now!? Didn’t you figure this out?” She scolds him further with a brief grip at his forearm. “It’s like it’s happening to you too.”

As if he needed some outside confirmation that something definitely was going wrong inside of him to be able to show it, Jim lets out a seemingly pained groan and then a long muttered line of meaningless swearing. “The connection’s really loose, though, I didn’t know...” Jim shakes his head and casts a look back toward sick bay. “God, if this is what he’s feeling right now, this...This is hell...It’s not like you’d think, it’s like it—hurts...”

Uhura’s eyes become cooled in thought, looking to the side before decidedly meeting his face. “Jim, I think you need to...”

A half-word of a yelp comes out of Jim’s mouth as soon as he registers what she’s saying. “Me...?” He looks like he could nearly laugh, but he doesn’t.

“Can you?” she demands seriously.

His expression is suddenly deeply serious, his tone almost bitter. “For him, yeah. But if you think that this—”

“I don’t think anything except that you've been playing bond buddies for longer than I was even involved with him and maybe a Vulcan would consider your experience with Spock decidedly more intimate than mine, but if you don’t know if you can do this I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand here talking through it while he’s in there dying...” She moves as if to go into sick bay, but Jim grabs to stop her.

“Wait, wait. I’ll do this, okay. I mean...I’ll try. If it doesn’t work—”

“I’ll be waiting to hear from you,” Uhura confirms, her mannerisms softened with a kind of relief. “Are you sure?...”

“Look, it doesn’t matter.” Jim is putting on lighter airs, awkwardly waving away her words. “It’s just...weird. Is all. Are you okay?”

It is a very strange question. And all she says is a stiff “Thank you, Jim” before stepping in to give him a kind of squeeze on the shoulder.

A nervous breath is felt on her forehead, and Jim is unsteadily joking “Maybe you should keep your distance,” his hands gesturing in avoidance of her in reference to before. She steps back with a tired frown, and leaves him without saying anything more.

She walks steadily back to her cabin without looking behind her, retiring into her off-duty clothes. Once changed into a tank top and sweats, she pulls out her desk chair and sits, cradling her face in her hands, reeling in silence. Her heart hammers wildly in her chest; she prays not to hear the comm signal slice through the safe silence, and after a good amount of minutes isn’t sure when she can feel assured that she isn’t needed for this. Something in her is stiffly thankful when another seven minutes goes in the absolute silence of her cabin.

She gets a glass of ice water and drinks it down quickly, pacing back and forth in her room, trying not to think of it, the thing that is happening, but surely fails at this considering the amount of contemplation she is now forced to inhibit on why it even matters. She is not going to check the stardate; she is not going to go into her old personal logs looking for every moment she recorded in it what she thought at the time was some flicker of attraction—No.

It’s just that on top of everything else, she is overwhelmed with fear that somehow, Spock is too sick, it’s out of their hands and he is going to die. And this is not the time to be nursing her renewed heartbreak, but it’s not the time to even bother trying to suppress it either. She can’t fathom how her head was on straight enough for her to even consider asking Jim to step in. She'll never know the either/or of it now, and there's the inescapable fact to deal with, that they made a choice between the two of them. Aside from his brazen willingness that simply had to do with saving Spock, she doesn’t know how much of this is Jim being noble rather than conveniently taking what he wants, doesn’t know whether he actually saw how much of an emotional curve ball it would throw straight to her gut to have and lose Spock a second time. He stopped her from going into medical earlier almost as if he knew.

After she sets the empty glass down, she entertains very briefly a memory of what bizarre thing started with an invitation for a glass of water in his quarters over a year ago; a scoff escapes her as her spirits stretch to embrace that comfortably distant, now completely benign sexual mishap. The longer she thinks about everything, Jim is where her mood gets the lousiest with a sense of pointless loss. It's so irrational, because she has a choice in this, but she can't help feeling it: Tomorrow, once things are different, she is really going to hate him.

There is nothing to do but wait. She eventually drops down onto her bed with her eyes to the ceiling above her and doesn’t dare to watch the time pass. When a sense of hesitant calm starts to settle into her bones, she numbly sings an old jazz standard out to the static of the room. There’s a note in the bridge she can’t quite hit; she backs up to try it again but her frail voice cracks, and then she just grunts in restlessness and swings herself up and out of bed. She walks over and grabs her communicator off her desk, resolving to get some coffee since she knows for sure no one else will be in the mess at this hour, and she just needs to get out of her room.

Once she has the cup of coffee in her hand she finds herself just staring at it for a moment before she actually takes a sip. She's setting it down to cuff down the slightly loose waistband of her pants, when the door slides. She picks up her cup and very slowly turns.

Jim has also changed, but sloppily. He looks terrible.

"I tried comming you, but I thought I'd just come and..."

"Well?" she demands.

"Sorry—He's fine. He's gonna be fine."

She manages to ask a rational question. "Did you have to tell McCoy everything?"

"No, actually. I managed to convey that he would probably prefer it on a need-to-know basis," Jim mutters dryly.

"But he's fine. Everything's fine." Uhura seems to be saying it to reassure herself, but he nods. There's something missing in his expression, but she's tired, and she decides to dump out her coffee, and she heads for the exit without caring to analyze Jim anymore. She just wants to sleep.

The next morning, of course, she's weirdly anxious about what Kirk and Spock are going to be like when she sees them. She kind of expects everything to be exactly as it was before, but she can't help being curious about it when she hasn't seen either of them before her shift starts.

She ends up nearly walking right into them when they're crowded around the corner just outside the turbolift, and catches only pieces of them talking as she passes by. It sounds like Jim wants some records he thought he'd already asked for; Spock is confused for a second, then understands. Etcetera. She reports to the bridge and gets on with it, not heavily thinking about what happened again until Kirk is included among the group she sits with at dinner, and Spock isn't, because he's in his quarters. She takes the opportunity to lean over and ask, "He's okay, right?"

Jim blinks in her direction, a little slow to reply, "Yeah. I assume so."

He assumes so. This is a significant statement, and she cocks an eyebrow in questioning. The captain just twists his fork in his pasta, a wan smile on his face she doesn't quite understand.

If she didn't know that she was probably overanalyzing, it would be easier to analyze. But of course something is a little different with Spock and him. It's an awkward grasp on each other they didn't have before, and maybe they just need to adjust to it. The rest of the crew are only remarking on how if you didn't know any better you'd never guess Spock has just gone through a cranial infection ("Nice, McCoy," she muttered to herself, grateful that no one was going to be trying to snag any rumors from her); if there's anything different about the captain and the science officer, it's not a brisk enough difference for people to pick up on. She doesn't know, she doesn't worry about it, because whatever it is, neither of them seem unhappy with the other.

Except, that doesn't last.

It isn't quite a week later when Spock goes down for another mission Kirk is sitting out on to let more ensigns gear up on experience. Jim is clearly massively regretting this when Yivae reports back unsteadily about Spock being taken captive, presumably as a hostage, by hostile inhabitants. Jim's barking a couple orders that Uhura eventually does not hear; all she knows about and can think about for a few seconds when it happens is the red blipping bordering, the "TERMINATED" that shows up only minutes after over a life module that her mind is screaming in denial cannot be placed under that name.

She doesn't manage to say anything. She opens her mouth to report and nothing comes out. The very second that Jim notices the way she's stiffened up he's shooting to the back of the bridge, his voice bent with worry: "...What? What?"

She feels his hand clamped around her upper arm when he comes up. She turns to look at his face, and she sees what crumples in on itself in his expression, what gets filed away for later, before he shuts down and goes in for it, deciding what he's going to do.

She's seen enough things happen since becoming a high-ranking member of Starfleet that she thinks qualify as miracles, to only be ninety-nine percent astonished when, long story short, Spock is somehow transported back in one whole piece only twenty-eight minutes later. He hasn't had time to explain why he is alive: Before he can even volunteer to do so, Jim is a step ahead.

"You tampered with your life signs emitter," the captain states, his voice flat, his expression pulled in the same tautness, the same oddly accusing look of not a-fucking-gain he's had on since the Vulcan's voice came tinning over the comm.

The rest of the group that came to greet him are all befuddled, pulled between their happiness and relief and a confusion over the grim sense about Kirk, who has never quite talked to anyone like this before.

"You tampered with your life signs emitter," he says, "so that we wouldn't come to find you."

Spock is a touch more hesitant than usual to respond, but he only gets out, "Captain—"

"You wanna give me a good reason I'm not trying to knock you into the floor right now?"

This appears to Scotty and the couple ensigns to be a cue for needed privacy, and they leave, giving each other scandalized looks.

It doesn't even occur to Uhura that she could possibly walk out the door.

Spock finally moves to step down from the transporter pad, but doesn't go farther than the bottom of the stairs; Kirk is still looking at him like he's waiting for an answer, and he stops with a kind of tired look.

"I took the actions I deemed necessary when I became aware of the Romulan presence on the planet and calculated the probability that my captivity would be used to orchestrate an anti-Federational ambush. Surely you realize that you took an extreme risk and put the entire crew in danger by coming to the rescue of an officer who was presumably dead—"

“And if I hadn't had an inkling that you might pull something like this, I'd already be noting your merits," he responded icily. "You expect me to accept that as an answer, that it just doesn't matter what happens to you? You are second in command of this vessel, Spock, you do have some responsibility to protect yourself in these—”

“I have explained to you that the ship and its crew would have been greatly jeopardized had I placed my priorities in the manner of protecting myself—”

“So you go far enough to patronize my protectiveness, you accept that, but you assume that I can handle whatever hell comes at us afterwards without my first officer?”

Spock replies with a growing edge of nearly condescending hardness. “The crew is more than equipped with personnel who are capable of taking over my position in the instance that something happens to me, as it should occur in the instance that I would otherwise risk your lives. I will not overlook that fact because my captain is experiencing emotional difficulties...” Spock’s voice actually trails off, his eyes moving from irritation to hesitant frustration.

“Go on?” Jim demands.

“I are projecting recent circumstances onto our current situation—and—if I may, it seems you are not speaking to me as my superior, but as...”

Jim catches on, and then his face crushes into this bitter smirk, a raspy snicker coming out of his throat. “Okay, well, I can’t believe I’m able to say that you brought it up, but okay. Fine. Let’s talk about that.”

From where Uhura is stuck nearly motionless near the door, her body senses the quaking in Spock from how he, for once, is almost shamefully silenced.

“Oh, but you can’t,” Jim says sourly. “You can’t talk about that. It’s easy. Try it: ‘Captain, you should be aware that I am overdue for this’—"


“—‘this thing, and that we need to get in touch with the Vulcan colony, because if I don’t take care of it, I could DIE'—”

“Jim,” Spock flatly insists, “I had no certainty, being half-human, that I would experience—”

“ ‘No certainty.’ Are you fucking kidding me?” Jim spits. “I honestly did think, after everything, your bullshit Vulcan pride had deflated just a little bit—This? Is the last, thing, you have any room to be ashamed of.”

A bit severely, but with an undercurrent of something far from angry, Spock states, “I will not allow you to imply my logical weaknesses while you are in such—”

“Yes, Spock, you better believe I am in a god damn emotional state.” The snapping in Jim’s demeanor makes it seem like if he had anything to be throwing across the room, it would be in pieces. “Aside from you pretending to not understand what it would’ve done to me—to Uhura?—if you’d died for such a stupid reason...And you know that it’s all relative, because I can’t think of much of anything, really, that I wouldn’t do for you; what I did today was worse than that...” Jim gestures to his right temple with a finger before finishing off, “You didn’t just not tell me this. You kept this from me. Now, I swear to you: If you don’t find some basic instinct for self-preservation in that skull and start watching your own back, I am going to find myself a first officer who can."

Spock knows better than to try any more, and Uhura thinks he probably knows what he'd like to say but can't imagine saying it out loud. As Kirk moves from next to the programming board to fidget his way out of the room, she's reminded rather vividly of the other time she saw the two of them get in a fight, how the aggression and the noise was mainly troubling in what it was covering up even when it had come down to Spock trying to throttle Kirk when they'd hardly known each other. She feels too familiar with that now, when Jim passes by her and she just stands there, her expression creased with a kind of helplessness. He catches it in her eyes with a tense avoidance of it, not angry but aversive with her as he leaves without saying anything more.

It feels like she and Spock are on opposite ends of the room. She manages to straighten her shoulders and look directly at him, mostly in curiosity, wondering why he hasn't moved. He's looking down at the floor, considering. She moves as if to start leaving when she hears him say, "Uhura?"

With a good amount of distance still between them, she stops and looks calmly over.

"I was wondering if you would impart your...opinion on these circumstances," Spock quietly says.

She feels herself bitterly almost smirking. "You want to know whose side I'm on?" she asks in a note of disbelief.

He gives that thoughtful half-dubious tilt of his head. "You have a remarkable sensitivity for the complications of human emotion. I wonder at times if the...loss of the more intimate stage of our relationship has distanced me from a more sophisticated ability to deal with..." And then his voice fades off like he's realizing he doesn't know what he's asking.

She crosses her arms. "I really don't think I have to spell it out for you. He's nearly lost you twice in too short a time, and your actions are only telling him you don't want him to depend on you. And whether it's what you really meant, you showed you've lost confidence in his decision making in the process. Sorry, but you should maybe think a little harder if you don't understand how going after his competence and his vulnerability in one sentence might just sound to him like a huge 'Fuck you' after everything that's happened."

Spock's face doesn't do much besides trying not to show how much he's thinking through that. "...I see."

She realizes she's still breathing so fast, the adrenaline still surging through her nerves. Suddenly she opens her mouth to speak, but he does it at the same time, and instead of saying anything or waiting for him she's marching forward without even thinking. She walks up and grabs him around the waist, pulling him into her grasp, his shirt into her fists, tightly. She buries her face at his chest and closes her eyes and she doesn't want to see or hear anything else.

He's taken aback, wobbling on his feet, but in a few seconds she feels his arms around her in an achingly comfortable way, one hand going through the layers of her hair softly. When she backs up enough to look at him, that confusion just nibbling at his features is still, she swears, one of the most beautiful things she's ever seen. His eyes are also questioning, voiced gently as he regards her uncertainly and says, "Nyota...?"

She lets go of him; and she turns around and walks away, while she still can.

The door to Jim's cabin is unlocked and set to auto, so Uhura is able to walk inside feeling unobtrusive enough. The room lights are all off, but the door to his bathroom is open illuminating a bright 'V' all along the carpet. She hesitantly follows it, trying to peek in enough to make sure he's clothed.

He's shirtless but still in his uniform pants, finishing up shaving, wiping a towel at his jaw and chin. After he rinses and nudges the towel down he's wiping a drop with the back of his hand and that's when he catches her in the mirror, and goes still.

It suddenly hits her how strange it is that she's there, and she can't think what to say, as his head turns to look at her in confusion. For some reason all she can think to do is step in and lean her back against the threshold and say, "Hey."

She's trying not to look like she came in here to feel sorry for him cause she knows what that will get, but he almost looks annoyed either way. "Hey," he replies blandly, looking back into the mirror and grabbing his toothbrush.

"Holy shit," she suddenly curses, unable to help herself as she notices a huge bruise at his lower back. She just says, "Did he...?"

He realizes what she's looking at but just dismisses it irritably. "I don't even remember."

Almost like he's expecting her to just leave then, trapped in a daze where that would make the most sense to him, he looks at her again after a second and puts his brush down.

"What do you want?" he suddenly demands. His tone is kind of suspicious and she doesn't understand why, but there's also a general incapacity to realize any solid reason she should be standing in his bathroom.

In response to her increased speechlessness, he just shakes his head apathetically. She's suddenly overcome with a restlessness, tired of him brushing this off at her. She steps over and reaches a hand out before she knows what it's about to do, just wanting to give some reassurance; in a jolt, he's turning and grabbing her wrist and backing her up, pinning her in the corner between the sink and the door.

"What? What are you doing?" he snaps.

"Nothing," she says, weakly imploring, not knowing what to add besides, "I'm sorry."

He takes in and lets out one breath, and then softens out at the edges, backing up, his expression regretful. He looks a little bewildered with himself as he says, "You should leave."

He walks by her into his main quarters, orders the door off auto and starts to take off his boots. She's inching her way through the darkness as he finally drops onto the bed and just lies there, presumably not planning to change out of his pants.

Some kind of barrier makes her unable to just walk out. She kind of naturally falls into stepping over to the bed, going over and sitting down at the foot. She can't see his expression, but he moves so she can push herself over to sit against his headboard with her legs primly out in front of her, her hands on her lap and him lying next to her. As her eyes adjust to the darkness, she sees he's looking at her in some questioning way.

"I'm just going to wait here for a while," she explains. "There are plenty of people still up, and I don't want to be seen leaving your cabin at night."

"...Good thinking, I guess." His head lolls down on the pillow, but she knows he isn't yet falling asleep.

After a moment she only manages to repeat, "I'm sorry."

She hears a resistant breath come out of him. "I don't really know why you're saying that."

“I feel like I shouldn’t have asked you to take care of it...”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“I know. But I had no idea at the time...Well, I thought it would be much different for you.”

She can almost feel it, being unable to see it, the discomfort creeping into him again but then leaving, replaced with a tired acceptance of that vulnerability. He knows she knows; he accepts it with a soft sigh.

“I almost feel like I could’ve warned you of what it’s like. I know you know him better than I do, but...I wish someone could’ve told me how fleeting the fleeting moments would be. But I probably wouldn’t have listened. It's so easy to lose track of how it could actually be a bad thing for him to feel a little too much, but it’s like he falls off the wagon, almost, when he loses control. Sooner or later he always has to get back on.”

“I know all that." There's a motion, Jim pinching the bridge of his nose. "But for the first time I just can’t quite fucking understand why it has to be that way.”

She anxiously scratches her hand against her uniform for a second. “All I know is he tried to strangle you the day he realized how much he loved his mother. And that he sometimes contemplates how it might’ve been if nobody had stopped him. And you probably know that; but would you believe that he never again kissed me with quite the amount of feeling as he did that day? I should’ve figured that would happen, but I watched it become a little less the next day and a little less the next."

She lets the silence go for a second before sighing and recounting, "One time the two of us sort of had this friendly debate, about Nero...How somebody like that could be the perfect example of how emotions can be destructive, because he was acting on the loss of his family. And I thought we were talking in the abstract, until Spock brought up the fact that he was so willing to kill him because of what happened to his mother. And I realized that through the entire conversation we had really been talking about him.”

"...When was this?" Jim absently asks.

"It was a month or two before we broke up," she replied simply.

Suddenly she realizes she's exhausted; she doesn't even feel like walking to the door, being blasted by the brightness of the corridor after adjusting to the dark. She leans up into her legs, reaches down to shuck her boots off, drops them onto the floor. Jim hasn't gotten under the covers and he doesn't say anything as she lifts them over her, feeling less self-conscious about the possibility of falling asleep that way.

After some silence, the cozy drowsy mood moving over her causes her to mutter something of a joke: "You think we’ll ever end up in bed together when it has nothing to do with him?”

She wonders, when Jim's head tilts up to look at her, if he's dissecting, scrutinizing the thought process rather than the comment itself. Because after a long hesitation he mutters, "Does that matter?"

She apparently falls asleep before she can think of how to answer.

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so happy you're liking it - Thank you for reading :)

Delicious complications. :D

Also, this line made me laugh IRL: "You think we’ll ever end up in bed together when it has nothing to do with him?” In a way, they're already a threesome. *giggles*

Well, I'm glad the complications are the delicious kind, LOL. Thank you for all your comments, dearie :)
And, haha...That is definitely one of the most important lines in the fic, I'd say.

sosoosoooo wonderful, thanks for writing this!

Hurrah, more of this fic!

This is a bit random, but I found the scene where Kirk is finishing up shaving to be unexpectedly sexy.

I also thought the fight between Kirk and Spock in the transporter room was done very well. The tension of it, and the head spaces of both of them were really believable.

the fight between Kirk and Spock in the transporter room was done very well. The tension of it, and the head spaces of both of them were really believable. Thank you, and I could flail a little, cause I was kind of nervous about that. You don't really find that many fics (though there are some) when Kirk actually gets truly pissed at Spock D:

OMG, epic chapter is epic. I'm not even going to try to figure out what to say. Except for a moment I thought you had actually killed Spock and I'd have to drive over to Bloomington to strangle you/make a show of crying in front of you.

Off-screen pon farr. You did off-screen pon farr. Which is not what I thought was coming. But is brilliant. And incidentally, it's so much more intense that way, with all the focus on the actual DANGER of what is happening here and the fact that he could fucking die if this doesn't work. The fact that it's left ambiguous what exactly happened between Kirk and Spock then makes that part of the story and the effects it will have so much more effective than it could have been otherwise.

Fuck. OTP. And OTP. Equals OT3. *is already dead and scurred for what will happen next*

btw this has proven to be one of the most complicated fics to tag in my Delicious account so far, lol.

Except for a moment I thought you had actually killed Spock and I'd have to drive over to Bloomington to strangle you/make a show of crying in front of you. I totally pictured Drake the R.A. somehow being privy to this and LOL'd.

Your Delicious tags are most entertaining, I have to say, and some of them on my fics make me bluuush...

There's so much going on, so much confusion on the part of everyone, and its so so good. I can't wait to see where this goes.

Thanks so much! And more should be up soon...

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