(Reminder--I'm from Texas. I don't even put on shorts until it's over ninety-five. Four layers is not enough here. Weirdly, I don't have this reaction in Chicago, but that's possibly because if you have ever hung out with svmadelyn, she keeps you moving. I mean, I remember the theory that I was cold, but mostly, it's like a huge exercise event. I swear Chicago's the only place on earth I have to eat my own weight in food and still come back five pounds lighter than I was. It could totally be a personal training course.)
Of course that ended well--I'm up at midnight and left to my own devices until I can sleep again. Gah.
I feel--writey. I mean, as in, I keep falling asleep crafting elaborate stories to write, but I pretty much finish them before I fall asleep, so there's no reason to write them really. I write to find out how it ends. I ended up plotting out an Spock/Kirk/Uhura threesome where Kirk is weirdly reticent and Spock and Uhura end up having to chase him half the story before he gives up and accepts he's practically married to them and stops picking up intergalactic hookers that make Spock grind his teeth (logically) and Uhura has to fight not to toss out the airlock. ("...Jim, she's stealing equipment from engineering!" "She'll give it back!" "Your commitment issues are officially a mental illness. I just beamed her off the ship. Take off your pants right now. Also, we're moving in. Don't argue." "...okay.")
Plus, all of them are ridiculously long and exhausting--AU where Jim was left behind on earth and he and Gaila and some cadets steal a ship to escape before Nero destroys the planet! And accidentally become rebels against the Romulan Empire (and with Jim, that could actually happen. He wouldn't even try. These things just happen to him.)! And like, meet up with Spock Prime, who starts like a secret rebel colony for them and suddenly Jim wakes up in horror and realizes he's leader of the rebellion and tries not to notice the Romulan Prefect bears a creepy resemblance to Darth Vader (which of course he watched as a kid; Star Wars is forever). And also, there are like, ten rebel colonies and everyone cheers for him and a part of him wants to cry, but the other part is like, ten and thinks lightsabres would be so awesome here. And Gaila finds it hilarious and right before I fell asleep, she was using her pheremones to encourage Jim toward bondage between death-defying missions. Which--well. Yeah. The plot became odd there, yes.
(Later, they meet up with Spock and Uhura and Starfleet and Jim accidentally is taken prisoner and Gaila brings half the rebel fleet to stare down the Enterprise and Jim tries to explain to Spock how really, he has no idea how this became his life. And also, Gaila really likes blowing things up.)
...I seriously like this idea, but just the setup would take me weeks, and I am still waiting for betas to finish for War Games and I'm not sure I can face another 100K without crying. That was exhausting. But I don't know how it ends yet, actually; usually when I get this far, I can figure it out, but no. A universe where Jim Kirk is left to his own devices with a fleet of ships and millions and millions of refugees to take care of is a universe where he is not happy. He's brilliant and needed, and those things are things Jim needs to be, but I'm not sure how he comes out on the other side. Duty can do a lot, I think, and Jim beneath it all is bedrocked in that, but that doesn't really take the place of something he can keep for just himself, or that he would know he needs to, and who would tell the guy keeping them alive that he should?
I don't know how that ends and that's kind of what makes me want to write it. I'm tired of dystopias of grinding misery; there are many reasons I like sociopathic AUs. They seem better adjusted to reality in the end. I only want to write it if I can leave it better than I started it. HMm.
*curls up* Christmas decorating this weekend!
Randomly, because whining is not attractive, below are some cut scenes from War Games, sort of. Temporally, they're set during the first week after Jim and Spock return from Iowa and adjust to the realization they're mostly-married, but I couldn't work them into the narrative and felt superfluous except to my own entertainment. Also, lirpas are insane as weapons. Seriously.
Dr. McCoy stares at the scans thoughtfully, giving Jim a scowl when he pleads first shift before escaping Sickbay. Spock rather wishes he had done the same when Dr. McCoy turns unhappy eyes on him, looking very much as if he has not had adequate rest in several days. "I am not loving these results."
Spock looks at them again. "They are well within the range for normal--"
"Right up until he starts quoting the Vulcan Pre-Reformation poet Sulkar, sure, we're good. Then it's all excitement and high activity in prefrontal lobes and psi-centers. If Jim ever willingly read Vulcan poetry about the glory of sand at dusk, I'll eat this medical regenerator right now."
Spock glances at the regenerator for a moment. "Doctor--"
"I could always hit you with it."
Spock locks his hands behind his back. "I understand your reservations, Doctor. The process is neither binary nor predictable. However--"
"However," Dr. McCoy says, flipping off the viewscreen, "we are about to engage in some serious breaches of patient confidentiality and that should be done in my office. Preferably with alcohol. Come along, Mr. Spock. You don't go on duty for another shift; how unfortunate for you."
Following Dr. McCoy to his office, Spock considers ignoring the offered seat (kicked toward him, with a very probable chance of sliding out the door if Spock had not closed it already) before returning the chair to its place beside the desk and seating himself. He has the impression that Dr. McCoy may prove loquacious even if the drink of choice is coffee, not synthehol.
"It will not be a breach in confidentiality," Spock offers when Dr. McCoy shows no signs of settling himself, moving without clear purpose between a bookshelf with archaic medical texts and a stack of datapads. "I will assist in any way you require--"
"Can you get him to sleep more than four hours at a stretch?" Dr. McCoy answers shortly, fingers dragging down the leather spine of Gray's Anatomy. "It's been three days since you two got back, and sure, it's great he's not trying to batter down death's door with the power of his own stupidity, I'm not seeing chronic insomnia as an improvement I can get behind."
"It will pass." At Dr. McCoy's sharp look, Spock finds himself regretting he had assigned himself beta shift. "Dr. McCoy--"
"Give me a timeframe, Spock."
"Approximately six weeks to complete the integration," Spock answers after a moment of thought. "The process is usually completed during Seclusion, but circumstances--"
"Are weird, I know, I get that." Dropping heavily into his chair, Dr. McCoy frowns at the surface of his desk. "I gave him some sedatives that he's going to ignore, we both know that. We're running diplomats right now, so I'm not worried about his professionalism--"
"When he is on duty, there are ways to--control the symptoms."
Dr. McCoy gives Spock a flat look. "Uh huh."
Jim's lack of emotional equilibrium is affecting Spock as well; awareness does not, however, prevent occasional expressions that are as random as they are uncontrollable. Dr. McCoy blinks. "You know, the last time you looked like that, you were attempting homicide on the bridge with Jim."
Spock closes his eyes, taking a deep breath. "I--apologize. I did not intend--"
"Don't." Sitting back in his chair, Dr. McCoy studies him with disconcertingly sharp eyes. "So it wasn't some weird Vulcan duty thing, you going down there. That's new and interesting information that I didn't pick up when you were selling me your crazy plan."
"I do not understand."
"Yeah you do." Picking up his coffee, Dr. McCoy sips it, brown eyes never leaving Spock. After a moment, he nods, almost as if to himself. "Right, so. The sedatives are mild and to be taken six hours apart. When those stop working--and they will, he builds tolerance fast--come to me so I can synthesize some alternatives. He's allergic to three quarters of the ones in the database, so I have to be creative. His metabolism is running hot, so he needs to eat about twice what he normally would, and by that I mean, how much I stuff into him when I can get him into the mess. Just put food in front of him when he's distracted; that usually does the trick. If he gets irritable, throw him to Evans in the gym for a few hours if you can't take him yourself. That man never gets tired."
Spock memorizes the information, then hesitates. "Why are you telling me this?"
McCoy grins suddenly; it's a surprisingly intimate expression, one that Spock has seen turned on Jim frequently, Ensign Chekov, and most recently, Lieutenant Uhura, but never himself. "Well, interesting thing. Nyota told me what koon-ut kal-if-fee really means, Mr. Spock."
There is no adequate alternative for physical exertion as a palliative for frustration; Spock had learned this about Jim within the first year of their acquaintance, confirmed with Starfleet academic and medical records. Through three years, there had never been a semester, no matter how heavy the courseload, where Jim didn't have at least one outlet for physical aggression. That he did very well was secondary to the purpose he suspected even Jim wasn't entirely conscious of pursuing; he required the mental and physical exhaustion that could only be achieved when his body could burn out excess emotion with exertion.
It's no particular surprise that Jim would turn to it at the end of every day, even before meditation and rest, that it is the first part of every morning no matter how much sleep Spock is able to enforce. However, Spock will admit, shifting the weight of the weapon, lirpas are a new addition to the repertoire.
"Look," Jim says, staring at Spock from bloodshot blue eyes, the faintest shadows tracing the fragile skin beneath his eyes, "you said it's like meditation for you. And by that, I mean, I remember it being like that for you, so stop fucking with me and walk me through this. I don't have the muscle memory yet."
Spock hesitates. "This is dangerous for a novice," he answers diplomatically; Jim is not entirely a novice, but there's no other word that applies. "The discipline required to achieve both balance--"
"Blah and fucking blah," Jim spits, turning in a too-fast arc that would lead to disaster if it were anyone but him, the blade glittering as he catches the downswing and brings it back up, never losing his balance, "blah and blah blah blah, I know. Just--start the first sequence and walk me through. Can you do that or is it just too much beneath your dignity to help me out?"
Spock takes a steadying breath and puts down his lirpa. Before Jim can protest, he catches his shoulder, turning him to face the mirror. "Very well," Spock answers, settling his hands on the narrow hips, avoiding the brush of skin; neither of them can afford the distraction. "We'll begin with your posture. Utilize your memories and let your body follow the form expressed. Here," touching Jim's elbow until it lifts a half-centimeter, protecting his left side, "and here," straightening his back with a press of his fingertips. "Now we will begin the first exercise."
The blue eyes flicker up, locking on Spock's in the wide mirror that take up the starboard wall. Sweat-soaked hair clings to his forehead and the worn gym shirt is wet against his back, muscles trembling minutely to hold the position, lirpa extended in one hand.
Pacing around him, Spock adjusts the curve of his arm, raising the tip of the lirpa a quarter centimeter before retreating. "Continue the pattern."
The lirpa swings in a fast, wide arc as Jim turns, easily balancing on the balls of both feet before shifting his weight. At half-speed, his impatience makes him clumsy, but full-speed he's flawless, faster than any human Spock's ever watched with the unwieldy weapon. As he comes around for a second pass, Spock retreats one step, then another, watching Jim's near-perfect form in each of the simple moves that make the novice pattern-dance.
Abruptly, Jim pivots, moving into an entirely different set of exercises; coming around, Spock catches a glimpse of glazed blue eyes and reaches for Jim's mind, finding the memories activated by the practice. It's an intermediate level pattern, meant to build balance, when the novice is already familiar with the weapon. Jim's body struggles to match the memories, the transitions ragged but surprisingly accurate.
It's a physically grueling exercise, and Spock lets it continue until the faint tremble in Jim's muscles grows too visible, the tip of the lirpa brushing too close to the floor, the clumsy backhand nearly brushing the vulnerable skin of Jim's calves. Moving quickly, Spock catches the overhand and disarms Jim before he can shift his slippery grip. "Enough."
Free of the weight of the lirpa, Jim twists around, kicking Spock's knee hard enough to knock him to the floor. Sliding the lirpa with a quick shove, Spock moves fast enough to avoid the knee to his chest, getting to his feet and catching Jim's fist before swinging him into the wall. Pinning him there, Spock reaches for the clouded edges of his mind, blocking the memories temporarily, long enough for Jim to shudder, eyes clearing.
"Enough," Spock says, surprised at the gentleness in his own voice. Freeing Jim's wrists, he steps back as Jim nods before sinking slowly to the floor, head resting on his knees. Putting away the lirpa, Spock returns to find Jim hasn't moved. "Jim?"
Jim lifts his head; Spock can sense him fighting the flood of memories again, albeit with greater success. Extending a hand, Spock pulls Jim to his feet and permits himself the luxury of enjoying the way Jim leans against him for a moment before pulling away.
"You should eat and rest," Spock says as Jim picks up a towel, wiping his face roughly.
"I'll grab something while I do paperwork," Jim answers as he drapes the towel over one shoulder, not looking at Spock. "See you here in the morning?"
Spock hesitates, then nods slowly. "Of course."
It's nearly midnight before Spock finally forces himself to leave his quarters, following the faint sense of Jim's distress across the ship. It's no surprise to find him in auxiliary control; programming tactical scenarios when he should be sleeping is a habit left over from their earliest days on the Enterprise.
Jim doesn't look up when the door opens. "Not tired."
"I would differ with your interpretation of 'tired', Captain," Spock says, ignoring the flash of hurt. Slowly, Jim turns in his seat, one arm braced over the back as he studies Spock with half-closed eyes.
"The tactical database sucks."
"It will wait."
Jim's eyes narrow, locking with Spock's, but he gets to his feet, saving before shutting down the system. He sways slightly at the first step, shaking himself as he follows Spock into the turbolift.
"You were dreaming about Vulcan again," Jim says, voice rough. "I didn't think you'd--appreciate an audience."
Jim sags against the wall as Spock programs in their destination; it's not merely the memories that are troubling him, but over the last three days, he has become surprisingly adept at concealing his thoughts behind the confusion. It would be easy enough to read them himself, but Jim would know what he was doing. As a human, Jim lacks the natural defenses a Vulcan has even against a bondmate, but he always knows when Spock's actively touching his mind beyond the passive awareness they share.
For the first time in his life, Spock's aware of a low-level, constant frustration that even meditation cannot dissipate and logic fails to rectify. Forced to keep this level of distance is unnatural for a Vulcan, even if it is what Jim requires. He cannot help but think of a lifetime of this, the hovering presence of Jim always deliberately beyond his reach.
When the doors open, Spock waits for Jim to precede him before exiting. "I received another query regarding a second chess tournament," Spock says, catching Jim's attention. "I assume you are considering it?"
Jim grins. "Well, last year, I'd been in command for what, three months?--and five fights broke out, there were three cases of graffiti in personal quarters, and I had to send half the engineering department to the brig when the winner was announced. Hell yes we're doing it again."
"I assumed you would wish to. I sent you a tentative selection of dates that fall between missions next month. I will excuse myself from competition, of course."
Jim smirks as they round a corner. "Considering I put Scotty in the brig to protect you? Probably a good idea." The smirk fades as they come to a stop. "These aren't my quarters."
"They are mine." Opening the door, Spock gently urges Jim inside, locking it behind them. Jim can override it, of course, but he can be distracted easily enough. Pushing Jim into the door, Spock kisses him before he can form the first protest.
The flare of hope and pleasure surprise him enough to pull away, though not far enough to permit Jim to move from the door. "Jim?"
"Don't--we don't do well with the talking thing," Jim says, reaching for him, mouth soft and sure, humming welcome through every nerve. It's not the same as the hot drive of pon farr; Jim's exhaustion is broadcasting as clearly as a shout. It's sweet and slow, almost comfortable, like Spock (illogically) hopes that they can one day be with each other. On a breath, Jim pulls away, mouth red, curving in a tired smile. "Christ, you're as tired as I am."
Pushing Spock back, Jim pulls off his tunic, tossing it in the general direction of a chair without any real attempt to make it land there. "This--thing is keeping you up too?"
Spock hesitates; no, he wants to answer, but it's more lie than truth. For him, it would be a matter of a thought to block the contact enough to rest, but what he can do has very little in common with what he wants. "Come to bed," he says instead, reaching for Jim's shirt and slipping it off before Jim kisses him again drowsily, warming more with every touch of Spock's hands before helping Spock undress as well with more enthusiasm than coordination. It's only seconds after Spock's settled him in his bed before Jim's mind falls into sleep, comfortable and content, and Spock finds himself thinking that perhaps he has been approaching the problem incorrectly from the beginning.
"We should discuss the status of our relationship."
Jim reaches for Spock's pillow and burrows beneath the layers of blankets. "Oh my God I hate you. What time is it?"
"It is 1000 hours." Jim sits up, looking alarmed. "I rearranged your shift schedule."
"While I was sleeping."
"Yes." Spock waits, watching as Jim struggles between anger and a strong desire to go back to sleep. "Are you hungry?"
Jim glares at him for a moment from a nest of blankets. "Spock--"
Remembering Dr. McCoy's advice, Spock sets the tray on the bed and retreats to the other side. While meals should not generally be consumed in bed, Spock does not think it will serve his purposes for Jim get up quite yet. Seating himself cross-legged at the foot of the bed, Spock waits until Jim picks up a slice of fruit. "You are not sleeping."
"I have sedatives."
"That you are not taking."
"I can't wake up." Absently taking a second slice of fruit, Jim sighs, looking away. "I can't wake myself up when I take them."
Spock translates that and tenses. Jim's sleeping mind is handling the greater part of the integration of their memories after meditation each night, but the side effects to his REM sleep would be--unpleasant. There are memories Spock prefers to rarely access, and Jim would have no defense against those invading his sleeping mind. "I see."
Jim shrugs. "Uhura gave me some of her texts on the process and we went over context to some of the more obscure ones. I know--"
"You should have come to me."
Jim pauses, a piece of toast halfway to his mouth, eyes widening. "And asking Uhura is bad why?"
"It--is not." Bringing himself under control, Spock folds his hands together. "I--would prefer that you ask me. It is my--"
"Duty?" Jim drops the toast, kicking the blankets back. "Yeah, I know all about--"
"It is my right," Spock says, forcing the words out before Jim can retreat further. "To do this with you."
Jim lets out a breath. "We meditate and talk and practice with lirpas--"
"And you walk the ship every night to escape your mind," Spock says implacably. "This is not acceptable, not even for the short period of integration. The process--"
"I get this is bad for you too," Jim interrupts. Reaching for his toast, Jim returns it to the tray, refusing to look up. "I really--when I agreed to this, I didn't know it would affect you this much."
Spock stares at the tray for a few seconds, wondering if perhaps Jim's faculties have become more disordered than usual due to sleep deprivation. "I believe the process would be easier if we remained in closer contact. Your sleep last night was unexceptional, was it not?"
Jim hesitates, glancing up with an interested expression. "Yeah, actually."
"It would be logical to suggest that until the integration is complete, we share quarters. Should the dreams become disruptive or the memories overwhelm your psyche, I can compensate for the disturbance."
Jim picks up another piece of fruit, eating absently. "If I'm keeping you up anyway, I guess it won't hurt to try."
Spock takes a deep breath, hiding his relief. "When you are finished, the gym is unoccupied."
Jim glances down, eyebrows drawing together in confusion at the empty plate. Spock makes a mental note to thank Dr. McCoy for the advice. "Hmm." Pushing the tray aside, Jim leans back on one arm. "I'm not really tired right now."
Spock tries to interpret the obvious remark before Jim sighs, kicking the tray off the bed with one bare foot and gets easily to his knees. Before Spock can entirely register Jim's intent, he finds himself stretched out on his bed and looking up into pleased blue eyes as Jim straddles his waist.
"Let's try that again," Jim says, bracing a hand on the bed, mouth hovering a breath above his own. I want to get laid. Any objections, Commander?
Just the touch of his mind is enough; feeling almost starved, Spock reaches for him, the hot pulse of desire trickling over his skin and winding between them. None at all.