Jim's always found he's done his very best not-thinking prone, and adding in a beach just makes it that much easier. Eyes closed, he feels across the sand for the bottle, unwilling to give up current sloth even for very good alcohol, which this is. And better, stolen alcohol that Bones doesn't know about and therefore can't say he can't have, which honestly just makes it taste that much better.
From behind him, there's no sound of feet moving through the sand, but Spock's mastered the art of being sneaky, and Jim could feel the soft hum of his mind long before he started crossing the beach. As Jim's fingers just touch the edge of the bottle, it's taken away.
Opening his eyes, Jim grins up at Spock. "That's mean."
"I do not believe Dr. McCoy would be pleased to find you with alcohol, Jim," Spock answers, sitting down beside him to look at the unmarked bottle. "What is it?"
"I dunno? It's good, whatever it is." Jim snickers at Spock's alarm. "Alpha Centurian homemade wine; remind me that I promised Evans a promotion for finding it." After a moment, Jim pushes himself up, taking the bottle for another drink. "I thought you were doing dinner with Bones and Uhura after Nagu's lecture."
Spock does the eyebrow equivalent of a shrug and to Jim's surprise, extending his hand for the bottle and taking a careful sip. "I do not believe the lack of my company will be noticed."
Jim eyes the ocean lapping white sand just a few centimeters from his bare feet, wondering, not for the first time, who exactly Uhura had blackmailed and killed to get them beachfront cabins on Risa. Saving the galaxy did not get you credit on a pleasure planet, though it did get you half-priced drinks, which Bones had refused on his behalf but accepted for pretty much everyone else.
Jim's not bored yet, even though he's restricted from doing anything even vaguely fun, but he thinks that soon he might be. A week of nothing but rest and relaxation sounds good, but Jim's never been really all that attracted to unlimited free time with nothing to do but think, and there's way too much to think about.
"You know I'm not actually blocking you because I hate you and want you to die, right?"
Spock hesitates, setting the bottle down. "I understand your reasons."
For the first time since Jim was (reluctantly) discharged from Starfleet Medical, he lets his careful shields down. It's an effort, which he supposes is a good sign; he's learning to use them automatically, unthinkingly, which means three hour long meditations are not in his immediate future. But he thinks that he would have preferred that to what he damn well knows is the equivalent of a panic-induced shutdown. "Spock--"
Faintly, faintly, he can feel Spock; it's too distant to get more than that, and it's another first--he misses the feel of Spock's mind. The low, subliminal hum he can almost ignore isn't the same, and he knows no matter what Spock says or doesn't say, it's against everything Vulcans are to live like this.
"Jim, I do not feel--abandoned." Spock pauses, and Jim lets himself feel just a little more, enough to get a current of those feelings Spock can't quite admit he has. There's anger, which makes Jim want to pull away even if it's justified, but the focus isn't on him at all. "What Sorin did to you--"
Jim has to focus not to shut down again; there goes not thinking. "So we're going to talk about it." And probably past time, too, even if Jim had some faint fantasy that maybe they could get away with sex and then finding someone to work on that goddamn half-finished water sculpture in their room. Which may be a metaphor for their relationship, but he's not entirely sure what it means.
"We do not have to," Spock says, legs crossed in what could be casualness if his back wasn't so goddamn straight. "There have been cases--an involuntary meld for the purposes that Sorin put it to is rare on Vulcan, but when it has happened, the repercussions--"
"It is not unusual for those who have been victims of involuntary telepathic manipulation to find further mental contact distasteful and seek to avoid--"
"We're not talking about Sorin anymore, are we?"
Spock looks at him calmly. "No, we are not."
Jim pulls up his knees, hooking an arm around them and staring out over the water, feeling the words filling his mouth, bitter and long denied and unwanted. Lying to other people is one thing; lying to yourself is just stupid. "So I'm a telepath."
Beside him, he feels Spock stiffen.
"What Sorin did--" Jim takes a deep breath. "What he did he couldn't have done if I were--if I wasn't one."
"The actions of the Ambassador and I are the reason you have been changed," Spock says evenly. "I understand your reasons, Jim. Even if the results were not intended, that does not change the fact that our actions were the cause." After a moment, Spock continues, voice even more ruthlessly even. "I contacted T'Sai at the colony; she has offered a potential solution."
Jim twists around to stare at Spock. "A solution."
"Vulcan healers are instructed in many techniques specific to telepathy. Though rarely used, there are ways to--repress it."
"You’ve never mentioned anything like that before."
"That is because it is implemented only in cases where the individual is either unable or unwilling to exercise control, or when further telepathic contact is too damaging for the individual to risk further exposure of any kind." Spock never looks away from the ocean. "When it is used, it is very thorough; it is impossible for them to read others, or be read themselves."
Jim turns the implications over in his mind, hearing what Spock isn't saying; a bond couldn't survive that, not a complete shutdown. "Everyone would be shut out of my head. Including you."
"The technique is not easily reversible," Spock answers. "And the results are--uncertain. It is not a solution that is embarked on without thought, only when there is no other way."
"In some places, we'd call that a divorce."
Spock turns to face him. "No."
"You're saying you could live with me and know you couldn't ever touch my mind again?"
"Yes," Spock answers simply. "If that was your choice, I would." Like it's not even a question. Jim leans back and thinks about that, what it means to a Vulcan to live with a lover, to continue a relationship where they were forever denied a part of a Vulcan marriage so fundamental it's as natural as breathing.
Jim's not sure what it means, that Spock's offering him this, but he thinks maybe Spock's as dumb as Jim is sometimes. Love does that to you.
"The thing is, I hate diplomacy," Jim says, making himself stare at the ocean because he's just shit at metaphor. "I mean, you know this. But I love the Enterprise. And I do diplomacy--granted, with Uhura and you watching me--because one comes with the other."
"I do not require this of you," Spock answers, softly, so sure. "It is enough that you are--you alone will always be all that I require."
Jim shuts his eyes and kind of wishes he'd stuck to literalism; it's Spock for God's sake. "Diplomacy is the telepathy. The Enterprise is--is the bond thing. God, your mother was an interpreter, how the hell do you miss a big metaphor about our relationship?"
"That would be," Spock answers, and this time, his voice isn't controlled at all, "because it was not a clear metaphor."
Jim turns around on the towel completely, catching Spock's eyes. "I know when you're tired and when you're unhappy and when you're pissed, which right, Vulcan's aren't, and I like the fact that I know it's not true. I wouldn't--the thing is--" Jim stops, trying to frame the words just right. "I spent the last week not hearing anything and I realized I really don't like it. I mean, I hate it. I hate it, but I had to do it, because fine, I didn't know you were going to come up with this--you know, overkill is something we both really enjoy way too much, we really need to work on that--but I knew it would be something. I knew I had to do it, because you'd never believe me if I couldn't prove it."
Reaching for Spock's hand, Jim laces their fingers together and this time, it's easy to drop the shields, knowing who is waiting for him on the other side. "I'm not scared of you in my head," Jim says, knowing Spock can feel the absolute truth. "Never you."
It's been a week, which right now feels like a goddamn lifetime, even longer than the trip from Remus when he'd felt like he'd fall apart at any moment. The wary Spockness seems to circle him like hunters around a campfire, trying to balance simple want against uncertainty, and Jim's gotten pretty good at this telepathy shit, opening his mind and shutting down fear with a single exhaled breath; this is Spock and nothing in his life has ever been this good.
At the first tentative touch, a finger of thought sliding between his own, Jim grins. "I'd also like to claim my conjugal rights now," he says, pushing Spock down into the sun-warmed sand and licking into his mouth, surprised all anew at the higher temperature of Vulcan skin, like a really, really good porn metaphor.
"Nahp-hif-bi tu throks," Jim breathes, grinning at the response he gets. "Yeah, I noticed you liked that. "Give me your thoughts, nahp-hif-bi tu throks, telsu, give me everything, kanok-vei tu tan-tor, did you know I can speak Ancient Golic now, I've been practicing--"
"You speak too much, Jim," Spock answers, the faintest quaver in his voice, and Jim kisses him again, shivering under the rush of pure sensation, the feel of Spock's mind twining through his, familiar and missed, the moment that it all clicks together, finally, and Jim has just enough presence of mind to drag off his swim trunks before something gets torn apart and lets it engulf him.
There are a lot of ways to describe this--the Federation does not lack an extensive library of porn featuring Vulcans--but description always pales before the reality when sex is just a more efficient way to get to this, something between perfect awareness and perfect understanding and a singular, continuous orgasm.
Spock isn't the type to think to bring prep for sex unless it's planned out in advance, but Jim's an old hand at sensing when it's time to strip and get down to business; fumbling for his shorts, he gets out the lube, slicking his fingers and getting up on his knees, easing his fingers inside himself with a little shudder that means Spock feels that, too. Grinning, he eases himself open enough not to risk a visit to Risa's medical facilities and unfastens Spock's uniform pants--what the fuck, Spock? Really? On vacation?--and runs his fist down his cock once before sliding down on Spock in a single, bright-painful rush that takes his breath away.
"Fuck me," Jim says, one hand braced in the sand. "Federation Standard. I can speak that, too."
Spock's hands close over his hips, vise-tight, pressing against the thin skin, grinding against bone, another good part, a great part, and Jim pulls up before going down again, setting a fast, frantic rhythm that can last forever when they're like this, when it's this good, when they need it this much. Knees grinding into the sand, Jim shuts his eyes against the double sensation of watching Spock and feeling his thoughts, the rich combination of lust and warmth and the way that Vulcans feel love, fierce and protective and painful, like the delicate edge of a lirpa slicing through logic and rationality, peeling away civilization like a shed skin. This is why they built Koon-Ut far out in the sands of Vulcan, clothing it in ritual and secrecy, where the participants fuck on bare rock if there's nothing else, grinding sand and sweeping heat and sweat and pure wonder when everything comes together before they fall into each other.
This, this could never scare him; this is everything that could ever have been possible, the thing he couldn't have known to want much less ever ask for; in a universe of infinite possibility, he'd never guessed it could house someone like Spock. Worth dying for, and worth living for, too, Spock hot and slick beneath him, pushing him over and back until sand grinds against his back and he's gasping for air and not caring if he ever gets enough. Tilting his head back, he thinks of the Colony's Koon-Ut far from even a view of the city and the pillar in the center, hearing bells and listening to himself make promises that will last until the day he dies, every promise Spock wants and all the ones he doesn't know he can have, the life he'll live as a Starfleet officer and Federation citizen and the galaxy that Pike wants to believe in and that somehow, impossibly, he believes Jim can, too.
Here, he can. He does. "Spock," Jim breathes, feeling laughter bubbling up from somewhere endlessly deep, "telsu, love of my fucking life, get on with it and fuck me."
His thighs will never forgive him for this, bent back against his chest and straining, Spock close and sucking kisses into his mouth, lips bruised and tasting of copper and iron both, the winding heat sparking something vicious and gorgeous in them both. Reaching up, Jim twists his hand in Spock's hair and jerks him closer, biting what he can't say but can feel, shutting his eyes at the answering response and the final click where they're not two beings in an infinite universe but a single one, just as infinite and so much more.
Orgasm just doesn't hit--it punches him out, head snapping back into the sand and maybe screaming, who the fuck cares, and Jim rides it out until every muscle goes liquid, shocked and high and beyond words or even thought, just feeling. It lasts forever, asking for more more more and he can give it, he can do this, he can do anything, anything at all.
A far too short time later, Jim feels Spock start to move; whining a little, Jim lets him, too bonelessly comfortable to argue. There's the vague sensation of being cleaned up with the towel, scratchy-comfortable, but that's fair enough; he who caused the mess shall clean the mess, even orgasm-induced messes. Stretching, Jim ignores the wince of bruised and overstrained muscles from long familiarity, opening his eyes to grin in satisfaction as Spock lies down beside him in elegant exhaustion.
They have another two weeks before they go back to headquarters, where Uhura and Spock will not let him on the Enterprise until they've fixed all the fuck-ups from the refit, and if he knows the Admiralty (God, does he), they'll get boring missions in the middle of nowhere for a while. Save the Federation, be bored for six months: that wasn't in the recruitment speech. In a month, he'll stand in front of a roomful of enlisted crew and looking at their faces, he'll tell them what he's willing to die for, what he's willing to live for, as a Federation Captain, a Starfleet officer, and a living being.
Once, I met a man in a bar who told me I could captain a starship and I believed him. When I'm done with you, you'll know that you can, too. Please close your textbooks and burn them or something, because that's not how this is going to go. Starfleet isn't what you think it is, and being an officer is like nothing you could ever imagine. You're going to change the galaxy, and this is where it starts.
"You are quiet," Spock observes after a prolonged pause; turning his head, Jim raises an eyebrow.
"And you're complaining."
"I am not. It was an observation." Having done his part in reminding Jim he's Vulcan and weird, Spock sits up, efficiently going about dressing in a way that makes it look hot and not weirdly awkward when you're showing the first signs of sex-related bruising and your hair is sticking straight up. Feeling superior, Jim reaches for his shorts and lifts his hips too pull them on, hissing a little; oh, he's going to be feeling this for a while.
Spock turns around, fastened pants and shirt in hand. "You require--"
"Oh God, don't even finish that sentence." Getting to his feet, Jim grabs the beach towel and wads it up under one arm. "We should start working on course material this week. Oh, and get a regenerator."
Spock's eyes narrow at the contradiction. "Did you not just say--"
"Oh, not now; we'll need it before I'm done with you." Catching Spock by the hand, Jim pulls him into a kiss, wallowing a little in the warmth of Spock's thoughts, confusion and faint amusement and patience that eventually, he'll understand why Jim is insane. Pulling back, Jim licks the tip of his nose and skips backward with a grin. "Coming with, Mr. Spock?"
Spock tilts his head thoughtfully before following him up the incline, fingers brushing his as they reach the front porch. "Everywhere you would go, t'hy'la."