Would You Rather, which was published November 14, 2018
“Come on, Spock. Answer the question.”
“This activity is beyond illogical,” Spock replied, his tone stone cold, “and vaguely inappropriate.”
Jim nodded as he leaned back against the rocks he sat against inside the cave they’d sheltered in. It was just the two of them left on the planetoid known as M65 as the rest of the landing party had been able to beam up prior to the Ion storm that had stranded him and Spock until the passing of that storm.
Jim had been playing around with his PADD when he’d come up with the game to pass the time.
“Yeah, yeah. So file a report when we get back on the ship.”
“I will not file a report, Captain.”
“Then, answer. Would you rather suck me or Bones?”
Of course, if Spock answered Bones, Jim was just going to die. And the truth was the question didn’t specify him or Bones. It was supposed to be between two people you worked closely with. Jim was the one who gave the names of who Spock was to choose from. And he sure as hell wasn’t going to say Uhura.
And anyway, yeah, completely inappropriate. Spock should file a report. But the thing of it was they’d been dancing around this, each other, for a few weeks now, what they were, what they could be, what they would be, and they hadn’t made very much progress. It was maddeningly slow.
Jim let out a little sigh of relief and grinned. “Okay, yeah. Wait. Why obviously?”
Spock just stared at him and Jim knew he wasn’t getting any other concessions from Spock that day. “It is your turn to answer a question.”
“All right. Sheesh.” He hit ‘next’ and groaned. “Ugh. Oh. My. God.”
“What is it?”
“This question. It’s so gross.”
“Would you rather eat a worm or a beetle?” Jim made a retching noise. “How about neither?”
“I believe you have to supply an answer.”
“That’s so gross.” Jim groaned again. “Okay. Okay. A-a worm. Oh, my God, I’m going to puke. Because-because a beetle would crunch. Oh fuck.” Jim blanched, holding his stomach.
Spock just stared unblinking at him.
“I’m seriously going to throw up.”
“It would make the cave quite unpleasant.”
“That question was so uncalled for.” Jim handed his PADD to Spock, who hit next.
“Would you rather climb a mountain or surf?” Spock read. He paused briefly.
“Wait. What? I have to eat a bug and you get two awesome things to choose from?”
“Climb a mountain,” Spock said evenly.
“Surf,” Jim interjected. “Or maybe both. Both.”
“You are supposed to choose.”
“Nope. It was your question, so I don’t have to choose.”
Jim flipped open his communicator. “Kirk to Enterprise. Come in Enterprise.”
“The storm has not passed, Captain.”
“Hope springs eternal, Mister Spock.” Jim closed his communicator, then wiggled around to put it back in its holster. He took the PADD and hit next. “Would you rather take part in a diplomatic meeting on Risa or on Andoria? Andoria, of course.”
Spock looked surprised. “Andoria? I would have anticipated you would choose Risa.”
“Nah, and let me tell you why. If I’m at a diplomatic meeting, I’m working, right? No time for play. Why would I want to be on Risa for work? I’d want to be there for pleasure. So no. Andoria it is.”
His first officer inclined his head. “There is some logic to that.”
“Didn’t think I had it in me, did you?”
Jim punched his arm. Spock didn’t even flinch. He merely took the PADD out of Jim’s hands. As he did so, their hands briefly touched. The thing was they’d touched plenty of times over the years. Jim liked touch and Spock, well, he never protested Jim touching him, and it wasn’t until recently that it even occurred to Jim that Spock might have but he didn’t. And anyway, Jim liked touching Spock most of all.
Which had all come to a head, no pun intended, a few weeks back when they’d sort of flipped out in Jim’s quarters after a particularly grueling chess match and had well…sex.
The kind of sex that left bruises and hickeys over a lot of both of their bodies.
But the weird thing, or maybe not considering it was them, was that they hadn’t talked at all about it. Nor had they repeated it. Jim wanted to, yes, but he was a little freaked out about freaking Spock out, and he was waiting for Spock to make the next move, because he was pretty sure he’d made the last one.
Yeah, okay, Spock had been a full participant and everything. But it was weird that nothing else had happened since, wasn’t it? Except that Spock was even more solicitous of Jim than before, and he’d been that way for a while, prior to everything.
Anyway, when their hands brushed just then, Spock’s gaze flew to his and for several heartbeats neither of their hands moved away, and their gazes held. Kind of like they were in some old fashioned romance movie.
It was Spock who looked away, back to the PADD, and Jim did his best to hide his disappointment. This was not the place, anyway. He knew that.
“Would you rather save your mo—?” Spock stopped. He lost a shade of color.
“What? Spock? What?”
Jim took the PADD from him and read, ‘Would you rather save your mother or your father?’ “Oh. God. Spock, I’m sorry. That’s fucked up.” He shook his head rapidly. “I didn’t know that was in there. What a stupid game. Who even asks that?”
“Forget this stupid thing.”
“Jim,” Spock said louder. “I know you are not responsible for the content of this game.”
“I know but—”
Spock placed two fingers against Jim’s lips. “The logical choice would be my father because he is an ambassador and important member of the Federation—”
“Spock, you don’t have to do this.”
“But as you pointed out, my mother gave birth to me and–”
He turned his face toward Spock’s and leaned his forehead against the Vulcan’s.
“Jim, I would—”
“Scott to Kirk. Enterprise to Captain Kirk.”
Jim pulled back and pulled out his communicator. “Kirk here. Scotty?”
“We’re ready to beam you and the commander aboard, Captain.”
“Great. Thank you, Scotty.” He watched as Spock straightened and stood and did the same. “We’ve just got to step out of this cave and we’ll be ready.”
“Aye, Captain. Standby.”
“We should return to the Enterprise, Captain.”
Jim nodded. “Yeah. Okay.”
After a long briefing and getting checked and rechecked by Bones, Jim was finally able to begin to make his way to his quarters. Uhura slipped into the turbolift with him.
“Captain, what happened down there?”
“It was in the briefing.”
“I know but…did something happen between you two?” She had stopped the turbolift.
He looked at her.
“It’s just that Spock came back so melancholy and I’m just—”
“Good.” She nodded. “Because Spock is really…Captain, permission to speak freely?”
“Since when do you hold back?”
She sighed then, deflating just a little. “I think things are little different between us then the old days.”
“What do you want to say, Lieutenant?”
“It’s just, Spock is really vulnerable—”
“Where you’re concerned and—”
“I’m not out to hurt him.”
She stopped, blew out a long breath, then nodded again. “I didn’t think you were. But just…he’s not the unemotional Vulcan everyone thinks he is.”
“I guess you would.” She restarted the lift. “If I’ve overstepped—”
“You always overstep, Lieutenant. I’m used to it.”
She smirked as the door onto the officers’ deck opened. “See you, Captain.”
“And you, Lieutenant.”
He went right for the shower when he got to his quarters and probably spent way too much time in there. He was steamy and red when he got out. But his gaze drifted to the door that led into Spock’s quarters.
He’d been so damn determined to let Spock make the next move but maybe that had been a mistake. God knew he made enough of those when it concerned Spock. What the fuck had he been even thinking when he decided to pass their time on the planet with that absurd and trivial game?
Spock was melancholy.
Yeah, because Jim Kirk was a big stupid jerk who couldn’t stop bringing up Spock’s mother’s death, apparently.
He stepped over to the door and rested his hand on it. Now was probably not the time. He was dressed in only a towel for heaven’s sake. And while, sure, that had its advantages in normal circumstances, this was hardly normal. He owed Spock an apology even if Spock denied it.
Jim turned to go get dressed just as the door opened from Spock’s side. Jim froze and turned back around to face his first officer.
“Uh. Sorry. Did you-did you need the bathroom because—”
Spock shook his head. His brown eyes were soft, dark, so beautiful. “I knew you were here. I wanted to…I wished to speak with you.”
“Okay. Um. My quarters?”
Spock followed him from the bathroom and into his quarters, Jim automatically going toward his wardrobe. But then Spock’s hand suddenly rested on his bare forearm, turning Jim toward him. Jim’s gaze flew to his.
“Would you rather have one night you will never forget—”
Spock’s voice was whisper soft and Jim had to strain to hear, but his heart seemed to stop beating.
“or would you rather have him for the rest of your lives?”
Jim heard a weird sound and realized it came from him as he remembered to breathe, remembered for his heart to begin to beat again.
Spock pulled him close, into his arms, and Jim threw his arms around Spock’s neck, holding on for life, he guessed.
“I do not want to waste one more minute, Jim,” Spock told him. “My mother woke up that day never dreaming it would be her last, nor did I, and there are so many lost opportunities and—”
“Yes.” Jim pulled back to cup Spock’s face in his. “And my dad. My parents, they thought they had, I don’t know, maybe not forever, but years and they-they didn’t. I’ve already lived longer than he ever did.”
“Jim.” Spock closed his eyes.
“I love you,” Jim told him. “And I will. For as long as I have breath.”
He kissed Spock then, with everything he could, everything he had, they both had, and as they breathed at once, it still didn’t seem to be near enough, but it was what they had.
It was them.