Title: Don't Stop Believing 4.3/?
Beta: secret_chord25 (I've run out of adjectives)
Pairing: Kirk/Spock pre-slash
Notes: For detailed story summary/navigation/word count, please visit the Master Post.
Spock looks up just in time to see Lieutenant Rogers almost walk into a wall, catching herself at the last moment. She laughs at the concerned but teasing question her colleague shoots at her and shakes her head before resuming her station.
Spock takes a moment to observe the room at large. They are in Lab 2, by far the largest on the ship with the most diversified equipment. Most people in his department have been pulling double shifts this week because Starfleet requested an immediate analysis of Barnum technology, specifically of their weapons. The science staff of the Enterprise has been splitting their time between the in-depth study of the available data, postulating theories and experimenting in record time, and taking part in the repairs, which have been a daunting task for the rest of the crew.
Spock appreciates his staff. They are young, imaginative, and quite creative at times. They lack certain disciplines in scientific study, but that’s why he is here to guide them. They have performed admirably while producing results under stress, but Spock can see how taxing the continuous pressure on them is, even without McCoy’s rants. The good doctor has started to call Deck Fourteen, where most of the science labs are, ‘the zombie factory.’
Spock stands up from his terminal, immediately drawing attention to himself.
“This will be all for tonight,” he announces, raising his voice slightly. “All of you may take the rest of the shift off.”
“But, Commander?” Lieutenant Pechalat says, clearly confused. “Aren’t these results due in Starfleet Sciences in six hours?”
They are due in six hours fourteen minutes, which gives Spock an excuse to say, “No, Lieutenant. They are not so urgent.”
His staff stares at him dubiously, so Spock straightens up and frowns ever so slightly, and the subtle change of his expression seems to do wonders in clearing the room in record time. Natalie Pechalat looks back at him from the doorway, however, and Spock finds himself thinking that he hasn’t had to reprimand her for an inappropriate hairstyle for several days now. He looks at the sad ponytail that had replaced her usual wild cascade of blonde hair, and realizes that he is doing a poor job looking after his team.
After everyone has gone, Spock quickly pulls all their data to his terminal and sets to work, changing his priorities from the repairs of the communications array to this. He’s quicker in making extrapolations and correlations, faster and more confident in drawing conclusions and making projections, but it is experience rather than any real superiority, Spock thinks, and perhaps the fact that he has been trained in science since childhood.
Still, with every new report he files, his frustration with Starfleet Sciences escalates. By forcing Spock to complete his subordinates’ projects, they rob these young, talented scientists of a chance to grow, and Spock is annoyed on their behalf. He is analyzing another set of projections while mentally composing a letter to Starfleet Command with a few choice words regarding their methods when a new, urgent message pops up on his screen.
Spock reads the first two lines. He must be more tired than he thought, because he can’t control his frown. Mr. Scott apparently believes this is a good time to install some untested components into the warp drive.
Before Spock can react, however, another message appears attached to Scott’s. The new one is for Spock’s eyes only: a short ‘I got this’ from Kirk. Spock purses his lips and returns to his work.
He finishes before the deadline, but just barely. It makes the perfectionist in him cringe, but Spock shakes off the reaction as illogical. He puts the lab on alert and leaves.
As any starship, the Enterprise never truly sleeps, but this fact is much more prominent now, when the whole crew is laboring on to put them back in shape. But it’s the dead of night, and Spock meets fewer people on his way up. A rather haggard-looking yeoman catches up with him with a stack of PADDs, and Spock signs them as they walk, taking an extra moment to scan the documents in the sparse light.
Spock isn’t sure if it’s instinct, duty, or curiosity that makes him divert to Cargo Bay 4. He walks in to an already familiar picture of the prisoners, slowly moving but mostly staying still behind a forcefield, and Nyota, sitting on the deck in a barricade of PADDs, recorders, and linguistics analyzers. There is also an orphan of an untouched banana muffin, clearly brought here by some of her staff in vague hopes that Nyota would notice.
“Are you now residing here?” Spock asks, approaching her from behind.
She doesn’t so much as look up, intent on writing something down. “Yeah, I’ll be with you in just a moment, Petra—”
“Nyota.” Spock crouches down beside her.
She flinches and finally looks at him. “Oh, it’s you. Sorry, I thought...” She trails off in favor of finishing her line and tapping the PADD off. “What time is it?” She yawns, covering her mouth with one hand.
Nyota’s eyes widen slightly. “Damn. Again?”
Spock raises an eyebrow. Nyota smiles in tired apology and takes his hand as he helps her up. They put her equipment away under the silent but frosty scrutiny of the Bamun and walk out.
“I’ll have to review this when my brain restarts,” Nyota says as they enter a turbolift. “But I think we finally have enough to try and talk to them.”
“Indeed?” Spock is interested.
“Yeah.” They are alone in the lift; she leans against him shamelessly. Spock’s arms slide around her waist, and she sighs contentedly. “We’ve managed to extrapolate about thirty-five percent of their vocabulary, and I think I finally got a good grasp of their grammar.”
“That is indeed remarkable progress,” Spock notes, steering her out of the lift toward her living quarters. “Have you been able to break the system of their tenses, then?”
“Aha.” She yawns again, wider than before. “Forty-nine, can you believe it? But it’s not so bad; they only differ by a small prefix I told you about yesterday.”
“The one you thought was a pronoun.”
“Yes. But you said you saw a similar construction in Vegan Continental, and then I thought that maybe it was more like...”
She continues to fill him in up until they reach her quarters. Spock opens the door, because Nyota seems too lost in her explanations, and gently pushes her inside. She falls silent and turns to look at him, suddenly lucid.
“You’re not actually my instructor anymore, are you?”
Spock suppresses a smile. “No.”
“And I’m not having my xenolinguistics midterm tomorrow morning?”
“Indeed not. We are, in fact, in deep space.”
She grins. “Knew something was off.”
“I cannot imagine what must have given it away.”
She laughs, tired but sincere, and punches his arm.
She quickly lifts herself up on her toes and plants a soft kiss against his lips.
Spock steps outside, allowing the door to close. Belatedly, he realizes that he is smiling slightly.
“Yeah; I don’t think you’ll be getting any until we sort this mess out.”
Spock schools his features back to neutrality and turns toward the speaker, hands clasped behind his back.
“Good evening, Captain,” he says airily. “How was your day?”
Kirk shrugs, his shoulders tugging at the black undershirt he’s wearing. It’s covered in various kinds of grease, and Spock doesn’t want to speculate about the fate of Kirk’s command shirt.
“Well, I yelled at Scotty, if that’s what you mean,” the captain says, resuming his walk along the corridor. Spock falls into step with him automatically. “I swear I even cited the regs.”
“I regret that I have missed such an uncommon exhibit.”
“I know; sometimes I scare myself. Don’t worry – Scotty was impressed for both of you. I actually think it’s the first time I’ve seen him speechless.”
Spock lifts an eyebrow. “Given the fact that Mr. Scott has banned me from Engineering, I find myself experiencing surprise at having something in common.”
Kirk chuckles, glancing at Spock sideways. “Well, you scared the shit out of him when you decided to recalculate pi or something in the middle of an anti-matter explosion – which, by the way, we’ll be talking about at some point in the future, make no mistake. Give Scotty some breathing room; he’ll bounce back.”
Spock purses his lips. “Indeed.”
“So what’s Uhura saying?” Kirk asks, massaging the back of his neck as he walks. “I missed the section briefing, though Bones says that Communications don’t have all the pretty girls onboard anymore – just all the pretty undead girls. Green skin and everything.”
“Doctor McCoy’s preoccupation with afterlife is beginning to alarm me,” Spock remarks. “One might get the impression he is a closet necrophile.”
Kirk sputters a surprised laugh, stopping short and looking at Spock in disbelief, blue eyes alight with mirth. Spock stops, too, tilting his head inquiringly.
“Just – just hang on a second,” Kirk manages, raising his hands for emphasis and chuckling still. “Don’t go anywhere.”
He disappears through the officers’ mess doors; Spock waits patiently. Kirk steps out a moment later, cradling a steaming cup of coffee in his hands.
“All right, so. Uhura.” He brings the cup up to his face and inhales deeply, but doesn’t sip. “When can we talk to those confetti bastards?”
Spock frowns. “According to the lieutenant, we might have sufficient language capability as early as tomorrow.”
Kirk looks at him and stops again, studying Spock with an expression the Vulcan can’t quite place.
“Oh, go ahead,” Kirk prompts. “I know you’re itching to remind me that it’s first contact and that it’s delicate as shit. You know, it would have been more insulting if I didn’t know you’re actually ordered to do it, Commander.” He leans closer to Spock conspiratorially. “It’s just you and me here. We can pretend for a moment that you trust me not to fuck up and everything.”
Spock bites his lip. “Captain—”
“Fine – I’ll do it for you. The most important rule of first contact is ‘4 Screws.’”
Spock blinks. Kirk grins and clarifies. “Don’t screw them, don’t screw with them, don’t screw them over, and don’t let them screw you in any way in return.”
Spock stares. “This must be... the most... liberal interpretation of the Prime Directive I have ever heard.”
Kirk grins and claps Spock’s shoulder in his usual forceful manner. “I know. You wrote a thesis on it, remember? I read it.”
“Don’t let it get to your head – it’s required reading. It’s good stuff, too.” Kirk peers at him thoughtfully. “So, really. You’re a scholar, I’m a madman, and our lovely Communications Officer is a medium. Do you think, between the three of us, we can pull it off?”
Spock feels a pang of annoyance at Kirk’s usual careless bravado, because first contact is no laughing matter by any stretch of thought and should be treated with utmost caution. A sharp response is already forming on the tip of his tongue when Spock catches the elusive expression surfacing in the captain’s eyes.
And it’s not bravado Spock sees there. It’s a need for reassurance. Kirk seems to be trying to gauge – likely subconsciously – if Spock has any confidence in him, because Kirk knows, knows only too well what a horrible disaster can come from a first contact gone wrong.
Spock inclines his head very slowly. “I believe the chances are currently in our favor.”
And there’s a moment, a split second only that’s so easy to miss, when Kirk’s eyes are flooded with relief and hope. Spock waits for it, which is why he catches it at all, in a fleeting moment before Kirk’s cocky, self-assured mask slams back in place.
“Well, then” – Kirk grins – “maybe your girlfriend will be more, uh, receptive tomorrow.”
Spock doesn’t roll his eyes, but the slip is near. “Lieutenant Uhura is not my ‘girlfriend,’ so whether or not she will be ‘more receptive’ does not concern me.”
Kirk blinks, still smiling. “Right.”
“And Captain? The next time you find yourself overwhelmed with curiosity over my personal life, I suggest you pose a direct query.”
Kirk blushes spectacularly, his fair coloring doing little to help him conceal it. His embarrassment is distracting enough for Spock to neatly take the still-full cup from Kirk’s hands.
“Hey!” Kirk protests, reaching vainly to take it back. “That’s my coffee!”
“Indeed, Captain.” Spock takes several steps further along the corridor. “And can you tell me what this is?”
Kirk squints at him. “A door?”
“This is a door to your quarters. Your quarters are a place that contains your bed. I trust I will not have to instruct you how to use it?”
Kirk makes a choked sound, and Spock comes to a conclusion that the flustered look suits the captain enormously.
“That will not be necessary, Mr. Spock,” Kirk mutters, walking past him, avoiding his eyes. “I’ll manage.”
“I am relieved. Goodnight, sir.”
It’s only when he is in his own quarters that Spock discovers he still has Kirk’s coffee mug in his hand.
It has been exactly two hours and thirty-seven minutes since Kirk has delivered the standard Starfleet greeting for new races, which includes basic information about the Federation, the principles upon which it functions, and the clarification of Starfleet’s mission in deep space. They have been waiting ever since, in the dark silence of the cargo bay, and are stirred only by the low hustle of the alien speech behind the forcefield.
Nyota is monitoring her analyzer constantly, biting her lip unconsciously. There is no way of knowing if their message has even been understood or if her language matrix has been correct. Spock wants to reassure her, but he doesn’t move from his position where he’s flanking the captain from the other side. Behind him, Doctor McCoy is emitting frequent sounds of impatience, which annoy Spock, but the man isn’t saying anything, so Spock exercises his own patience and doesn’t turn.
Kirk is rigid like a monolith, standing half a step in front of Spock and Uhura with his arms hanging loosely at his sides, palms turned slightly toward the Bamun. His body language is impeccable, but Spock can feel the tension emanating from him like a forceful draw, making Spock plant his own feet harder to the deck. The captain is positively ringing with strain, though he’s maintaining his ‘relaxed’ pose, and Spock starts to experience similar apprehension. If the Bamun take much longer, he fears Kirk might snap.
Spock hasn’t noticed when he shifted closer – his steps certainly weren’t obvious or even conscious. Nevertheless, there must have been some kind of covert forward motion, because there is a moment when he realizes his close proximity within Kirk’s space – so close, in fact, that their shoulders are millimeters from touching.
Kirk doesn’t move, exactly, but Spock can feel the focus of the captain’s attention drift from the Bamun to him. A question forms in the air between them, and Spock answers by not moving away. The question lingers for a little while more, and then Kirk squares his shoulders, and the back of his arm presses into Spock.
It isn’t skin-to-skin contact, but Spock stills himself and does what he can. Kirk is not trained in channeling his emotions and simply broadcasts them in no particular order. Spock lowers his shields and surfs through the feelings passing through him, until he catches sight of the highest and the strongest wave – Kirk’s anxiety – and pulls at it.
Spock stiffens at the onslaught, his own shoulders going rigid as the handclasp he maintains behind his back shifts to painful. He draws more and more of the troubling emotion into himself, creating a conduit to try and alleviate the tremendous built of nervousness the captain is feeling. The intensity of the emotion is overwhelming, and Spock spares a fraction of his attention to marvel at Kirk’s ability not to let it show. Any telepath would of course pick up on it at once, but, according to McCoy’s scans, the Bamun weren’t telepathic.
The captain finally relaxes – marginally – and Spock feels encouraged by the reaction. Kirk tilts his head from side to side very slightly to ease the tension at the back of his neck, probably enough for his muscles to stop aching.
McCoy huffs again behind Spock, and that’s when the Bamun finally respond. Spock takes a subtle step back instantly, knowing Kirk is going to need his space now.
The alien that approaches them from the other side of the barrier is perhaps the shortest and the bulkiest of the group. Kirk steps forward, and Nyota straightens up with an almost audible sound. McCoy goes absolutely quiet and still, and Spock tries to center himself against the three of them, monitoring the emotional balance.
“I am Ramu-Garan,” the alien says.
His voice is low and muffled, but the words are clear, and out of the corner of his eye, Spock sees Nyota begin to tremble with momentary euphoria.
“I am James Kirk.” The captain’s tone is even as he stares straight into the Bamun’s amber eyes. In some cultures, such a move would be considered an insult, but, as they know nothing of this species at this stage, it can’t be helped. “Why did you attack my vessel?”
The Bamun’s face is completely devoid of any expression, but some kind of ruffle seems to pass through the net of blue and green dots on his body. Is this the way his race expresses emotions?
The thought obviously occurs to Spock and Nyota at the same time – they glance at each other sharply. Nyota nods.
“You were in our space.”
Kirk raises his hands, palms open. “We didn’t know it was your space.”
“It has always been ours. Since the time of Haznum.”
Nyota’s fingers skim over the keyboard as she stores and cross-references the previously unknown term.
“We respect your right to defend your territory,” Kirk says calmly. “But it wasn’t necessary to attack us. If you simply talked to us, we would have—”
“We were protecting,” the Bamun says. “Our planet is not strong. We must protect it.”
Spock knows the UT is simplifying language at this point to an extreme; Nyota’s hands are practically flying over the keyboard now. Of the four of them, she is the only one who is listening to the original speech patterns.
“We mean you no harm. We only wish to be good neighbors.” Kirk shows his open hands again. “We can prove it to you.”
The alien hesitates. “How?”
“Well, you say your planet isn’t strong, right?” Kirk licks his lips. “Maybe we can help you make your defenses better.”
Spock speculates about whether the ripple of lights that runs over the Bamun’s body signifies doubt.
“After we attacked you?”
“If you say it was self-defense, we believe you.”
“But we do not believe you. Who helps without wanting something in return?”
“But we do want something,” Kirk clarifies. “A chance to study your culture, for one. Our mission is to explore new life and new civilizations. Before you attacked, you scanned us. Our weapons are for defense only. You overpowered us easily; it’s pure chance we took over again. With your level of technology, you have nothing to fear from us.”
Another ripple of flashes. Spock is under the impression that, this time, the creature is reflecting sadness.
“We were once like you,” Ramu-Garan says. “Explorers. We were.”
“Too many enemies. Lost... our sister-planet. Lost. Alone now.”
The lights on his skin seem to fade as he speaks. Kirk steps closer to the invisible barrier.
“Listen – you are our prisoners. There’s nothing left for you to lose. We have your ship and the coordinates of your homeworld, so if I was your enemy, I wouldn’t need to talk to you to get the information, would I? I’d be heading there right now.”
The amber eyes stare at him, unblinking. Spock notices that the other Bamun move closer, watching Kirk as well.
“But I don’t want to do that,” the captain says patiently. “And that’s because I’m telling the truth. We’re not expansionists seeking new conquests. I’m offering you a chance to make peace. Why don’t you – why don’t you tell me about your planet, and then I’ll tell you about mine?”
The flashes of light are getting stronger now, not only from Ramu-Garan, but from all the other aliens. It’s a beautiful symphony of blue and green lights, and even before Nyota turns and smiles at him, Spock knows that this is a good sign.
“Lower the forcefield,” Kirk calls back to security. “Let me pass.”
“Jim, what are you doing?” McCoy hisses. “You’ve no idea what they could—”
Kirk glances back at him. “If I want their trust, Bones, I have to give them mine.” He shifts his gaze to Spock. “Commander.”
He doesn’t say anything else, but Spock nods. Kirk gives him a small smile and signals security. A narrow window opens in the forcefield, sizzling at the edges. Kirk steps through and the barrier resumes its integrity, with the captain firmly encased on the prisoners’ side.
“Well now,” Kirk says. “I’m alone here, so you can try and kill me. Or we can talk. What do you say?”
Ramu-Garan blinks – pauses – and, finally, sits down on the deck. His crewmates follow his example. Kirk watches them a moment longer, then lowers himself to the deck, too.
“So,” he says cheerfully. “Where should we start?”
The general mood on the Enterprise is jubilant by the end of the day.
By the time the negotiations are over, Spock, Nyota, and Doctor McCoy are sitting on the deck, too, all surrounded by a separate group of the Bamun as they exchanging information. Spock wishes desperately for another set of ears – or better, two – because he simply cannot stop monitoring his colleagues, even as his own conversation demands his full attention. Finally, when it’s no longer possible to split his attention, he takes a leap of faith. If Kirk can trust the Bamun not to kill them, perhaps Spock should trust Doctor McCoy not to tell where the strategic operational control for Earth’s defenses is in an anecdote.
They emerge from the cargo bay almost ten hours later, exhausted but pleased. The aliens will remain in their current accommodations, but Ramu-Garan has agreed to be taken to the nearest Starbase and be set up with the diplomatic team. The Enterprise team has now a huge upload of information on the Bamun, which means even more reports, but nobody is complaining.
Indeed, Nyota seems to be humming euphorically, all the traces of fatigue washed out from her face by a happy glow. Kirk drapes his arm around McCoy’s shoulders, and, for once, the doctor smiles back at him, swinging an arm around his waist and congratulating him warmly.
“Dinner’s on me, guys,” Kirk declares happily, relief pouring out of him like warm rain. “Those reviews can wait, Uhura. Have I told you today that I love you? You’re shiny, baby!”
Nyota groans, but it’s halfhearted, and the smile she sends Kirk over her shoulder is blinding as she winks his way. “You’re not half bad yourself.”
“Spock, where are you going?” Kirk demands to know, as Spock takes a turn at the intersection. “We’re having a party dinner; we earned it! Besides, I’m starving.”
“I must decline, Captain. I have other matters to attend to.”
“Hell, we all do, but Spock, listen, it’s our first first contact, and we all but signed a treaty. Don’t you want to—”
“Leave him be, Jim,” McCoy intervenes. “He’s had enough of us – for a week, no less. Spock probably needs to meditate after so much close contact. Ain’t that right, Commander?”
Spock looks at the doctor. McCoy’s gaze is open and with no signs of mockery or resentment, and it doesn’t take more than a few seconds for Spock to decide not to look the gift horse in the mouth too closely.
“Affirmative,” he says. He does need to meditate, even if he isn’t going to.
“Oh.” Kirk’s face falls a little. “Well, uh... sure. See you later, then?”
Spock bows his head. “Undoubtedly.”
Kirk grins at him, and they part ways.
Despite McCoy’s not-so-veiled advice, Spock doesn’t seek solitude straightaway. He walks a short version of his usual rounds, checking their status with Engineering, the bridge, and the labs, before finally retiring to his quarters. He compiles a short update and forwards it to Kirk’s terminal. Showering seems like a good idea, and Spock allows himself to stand longer than necessary under the steaming torrent of water, letting it work out his tension.
Feeling somewhat refreshed, he sets to work on the preliminary report. Before now, Spock has been a party to a first contact three times, two of which had gone rather badly. He is pleased with their work today, and also, if he is completely honest – he’s proud. He has no reason or right to be proud of anyone, save maybe partly for Nyota, but he remains proud all the same. For a moment, Spock thinks of Admiral Nogura, and has to fight to keep a smug smile off his face.
The report dealt with, Spock discovers he can neither sleep nor meditate. His thoughts are wandering, and the level of concentration he maintained throughout the day has drained him. Physical exertion seems to be the answer, and Spock leaves his quarters, heading for the gym.
He doesn’t quite get there.
As he passes the officers’ lounge, he hears soft, soothing sounds of a piano. There is one in the room, Spock knows, and not just any piano, but a Steinway – a beautiful instrument that Spock hasn’t heard played yet. Now it seems like someone is putting it to good use, if those lingering, viscous sounds of Gershwin’s Summertime are any indication. Intrigued, Spock walks inside.
It’s a surprise – and yet, it isn’t – to discover the identity of the player. Kirk has changed out of his uniform and is wearing a simple blue shirt. He looks almost frighteningly young and, somehow, inexplicably perfect; timeless, like Cellini’s statuettes.
Then, he looks up, and his eyes sizzle, piercingly blue in the dimmed lights, as he smiles mildly. His head falls slightly back, revealing more of the smooth, even glow of his skin, already exposed by a couple of unfastened buttons. He looks innocent and sinful at the same time, and Spock pauses for a moment, just watching him, knowing he should clear his thoughts but unwilling to do so.
Kirk meets Spock’s eyes, and his lips curve slightly more upward, the smile both charged and completely relaxed. His fingers haven’t halted for a moment, moving confidently and fluidly.
There’s not much sense in retreating once he has been caught staring. Spock approaches slowly and ends up leaning slightly against the piano, listening and watching. He suspects it’s inappropriate, but cannot make himself think of a reason why, and just watches as a subtle, delicate blush rises slowly in Kirk’s cheeks, placing him firmly on the wanton side of Greek mythology, next to Dionysus and Aphrodite.
Kirk seems both relaxed and collected, but he doesn’t look at Spock again, pulling the music around himself like some kind of buffer. Spock can tell by Kirk’s style that the captain has never taken systematical lessons. He forgets the notes sometimes, but improvises very smartly and clearly enjoys himself.
“That was... beautifully executed,” Spock says quietly, after Kirk finishes and glances up with a soft, mildly apologetic grin. “I did not know you played.”
Kirk shrugs. “Well… One of those things you pick here and there, I guess. I know everyone thinks I didn’t have a single job before this one, but I’ve really had one too many.”
“One was a pianist?”
Kirk chuckles. “A tapeur. There was a bar where people liked live music, but, since it was in the middle of nowhere, there was no one to play, and I needed the money.”
“You seem very adept in this.”
“Thanks.” Kirk looks at him speculatively. “You play?”
Spock pauses for a moment. Instead of answering, he moves around to join Kirk on the bench in front of the piano. Kirk watches him with reserved anticipation as Spock considers, briefly, which piece to choose. But the tone seems to be set, and he follows it.
Spock doesn’t look at him, but he feels the huge, radiant grin that splits Kirk’s face as the introduction to Rhapsody in Blue fills the air. The sounds are lingering, stretching, enveloping the room, and Spock drifts with them, letting his hands do what feels right as his body sways slightly with the music. And then, suddenly but oh-so-smoothly, there are two more hands on the keys, and Spock is shaken awake for what feels like the first time in weeks.
They are both floating with the music, improvising on the spot and challenging each other, and this is probably the most bizarre interpretation of this piece anyone has ever made. Somehow, that doesn’t ruin the harmony, but adds to it – Kirk’s mischief against Spock’s confidence, and the shared joy of the fact that they can’t upstage each other, no matter how smartly Spock acts or how roguishly cunning Kirk’s play is. It’s unexpected and pure delight, and Spock hadn’t experienced anything so genuine and uncomplicated since he was a child. Kirk laughs as Spock tries to ambush him, and the sound is woven into the colorful musical tapestry like it belongs there.
The last note hangs in the air, reluctant to fade. Kirk and Spock don’t look at each other as they sit quietly, just breathing in the music and the moment.
“Thank you,” Kirk says at last, his shoulder a warm pressure against Spock’s. “Not just for...”
“We should do this again sometime,” Kirk adds, barely covering a yawn. “It was fun.”
Spock glances up and finds Kirk very close, looking at him with a sleepy smile that Spock cannot decipher, but that makes him wish he could keep it among other things he doesn’t want to analyze too scrupulously.
He rises to his feet instead. “You should get some rest, Captain.”
Kirk nods, grinning tiredly. “Soon as I check your updates. Do you ever sleep, Spock?”
Spock pauses, his usual response about Vulcans requiring less sleep than humans already whirling on the tip of his tongue. But he is irrevocably distracted by the fact that Kirk’s eyes are impossibly, supernaturally blue, and shimmering in the twilight.
Softly, Spock only says, “Goodnight, Jim.”
He receives another smile worthy of being run from in return.