starsandatoms: ([trek] Spock)
[personal profile] starsandatoms
Title: Take the Third Option
Rating: R for frank discussion of sex and violence
Summary: Take the Third Option, or, Vulcans Have Prehensile Dicks And Other Misinformation.
Notes/Warnings: Written for [livejournal.com profile] trekkiemage as part of her (very belated) Help Japan winnings; this one's for "Hurt/Comfort." This fic deals with pon farr and all the consent issues that come with it, so take that as you will.



i.

Honestly, Jim thinks of the whole thing as a string of dominoes, because it all really started only a few weeks after the Enterprise started its mission, when Spock and Uhura broke up.

"As Second Officer of the ship, it would be improper for me to maintain a romantic relationship with a subordinate," Spock said to Jim, as he and Uhura broke the news to him Apparently they thought that because he was the Captain and he'd had previous knowledge of their relationship, he should know that it was now ceasing. Why they had scheduled a formal appointment and used one of the briefing rooms was beyond him.

"He makes the duty roster, gives out assignments, and if anything happens to you, he'd become Captain, and then it would be even less acceptable," Uhura said.

"But that's stupid," Jim said, "because you two are the most professional people I know and there's no way your relationship would mess anything up. I have full faith in you to - "

"As long as we're in a relationship we can never quite be sure," Uhura said.

"And sometimes the appearance of impropriety can be more damaging than impropriety itself," Spock said.

"I'm not buying it," said Jim, and he wasn't. Uhura's body language was tightly controlled, but the corners of her mouth kept drawing down, and Spock had that tight, pinched expression that meant he was probably miserable. "You two are good together, and you know it."

"Nevertheless," said Spock, and that was that.

ii.

The second domino would be the sudden influx of anatomical information – and misinformation – about Vulcans. Before they were an endangered species, Vulcans could afford to be insular and picky about who they told certain sensitive details to.

But for a lot of the Vulcans who found themselves incapable of returning to Vulcan to their wives, the seven-year itch became a lot more urgent and had to involve being a lot less picky.

So the rumors of pon farr began. At first Jim figured it was just a xenophobic thing – there was a lot of that going around; it made him really, really angry, how many people were saying that the Vulcans had brought the destruction of their planet upon themselves in one way or another – and the rumors were pretty outlandish.

Every seven years Vulcans had to fuck or die. Vulcans could literally die of blue balls. The reason Vulcans were so big on logic was because they were so kinky in the sack. When Vulcans went into pon farr, their penises turned green and prehensile. Vulcans used to have gladiatorial games that had culminated in massive orgies. Having sex with a Vulcan meant a telepathic tie for life, and once you were telepathically linked to a Vulcan they could control your body like a marionette. Having sex with a Vulcan meant you were legally married to them, and Vulcans had no divorce. Having sex with a Vulcan meant a telepathic orgasm that could last for days.

Jim was actually kind of tempted to test that last one out.

But for the most part he ignored them, because fucking or dying every seven years? Vulcans? Come on.

In retrospect, he probably should've paid more attention.

iii.

Though, to be fair, the other reason Jim didn't think pon farr was real was because of the conversation in the infirmary that he had the luck to be privy to. It went like this:

Bones: "So, Spock, what's this I hear about that pon farr thing?"

Spock: Epic death glare.

And that was the whole thing, but Spock had already perfected the death glare, keeping it just blank enough while still maintaining the what-the-hell-did-you-just-say-to-me aura in his eyes. Jim didn't even think about it, never actually made the decision to trust that Spock would reveal that kind of important medical information to the ship's Medical Officer, he just did.

iv.

But it really started when Spock actually went into pon farr. Jim would like to say that he noticed it first, but honestly, he just figured Spock was getting a little bit cranky. They'd been on a deep-space survey assignment for almost a month and everybody was going stir-crazy, from Sulu spending more and more time with his swords and the unfortunate practice dummies in the gym to Crewman Schwarz presenting itself to Bones with a new self-diagnosed exotic disease every five hours. So the fact that Spock was getting tetchy didn't exactly register as out-of-the-ordinary – at least at first.

But after a couple of days of Spock snapping at Jim and correcting Jim and being even more sarcastic than usual at Jim, Uhura cornered him in the mess hall while Spock was on the bridge.

"Something's wrong with Spock."

At this point, Jim had at least noticed, so he said, "Something's wrong with all of us, and it's called being cooped up without shore leave or an away mission for more than a week."

Uhura shook her head. "You're not listening to me – something's wrong with him. Every time I enter a room, he leaves it, unless we're on-duty and then he acts like I don't exist. It's like he can't even stand to look at me."

That made Jim frown. "Usually people get awkward with their exes right after a breakup, not months later."

"I don't think this has anything to do with that. I don't know what it is, but - " She blew out a breath. "I've never seen him act this way."

So Jim started paying more attention, to the lines of tension in Spock's shoulders even when they were just playing chess in Jim's room; to the way his eyes went right around Uhura with a deliberateness that was unmistakable; to the set of his jaw when Jim riled him up, and the way his patience was at best half as long as it usually was, if not shorter.

That lasted all of about two days, before Spock started avoiding him, too.

The problem, it seemed, with letting Spock be in charge of the duty rosters was that the First Officer didn't actually have to interact with the Captain that much when their shifts didn't intersect. The number of emails Jim received from Spock tripled, but all of a sudden he was nowhere to be found.

So Jim decided to start playing dirty, too.

v.

"Erratic behavior is totally grounds for a mandatory medical exam."

"No, it's not, not when the supposedly-erratic behavior is just avoiding you." Bones gave up on the pretense of trying to do work, and dropped his PADD on his desk to meet Jim's eyes. "Maybe he finally realized how infantile you are and got sick of it."

"He's avoiding Uhura, too."

"Again, avoiding an ex-girlfriend doesn't qualify as erratic. Just common sense."

"How do you explain the fact that he's been downright bitchy for the past week, then?"

"We're on a deep-space survey assignment. It's just cabin fever."

"I hadn't realized that cabin fever had crossed the species barrier and affected Vulcans now."

"He's half-human."

"Yeah, but since when is he the half that gets pissy and avoids people?"

Bones just shook his head. "If you can bring me evidence that there might be a pressing medical need, I'll order an examination. But I'm not going to invade Spock's privacy just because you've got a hunch."

Jim made a face. "Fine."

vi.

The pressing evidence came about three hours later, when Jim was doing paperwork and got a call on his comm from Bones.

"I mentioned Spock's pointy ears and he told me that if he heard me spouting off such vile racism again, he'd wring my neck," said Bones, without preamble. "Still want to order that mandatory exam?"

"Well," said Jim, slouching back in his chair, "I don't know if that counts as evidence, per se. Getting upset at being called a green-blooded hobgoblin might just be common sense - "

"Stop gloating. I also checked the food synthesizers – Spock's access codes haven't been used in three days."

Jim frowned. "Spock hasn't eaten in three days? Seriously?"

"That's what the computer says." Bones paused. "Jim, I'm actually starting to get a little worried. I asked around, and other people are noticing his behavior, too. Christine said he threw a bowl of soup at her head."

Jim whistled. "Wow. If he's getting physically violent..." He drummed his fingers on the arm of his chair. "I'll track him down and talk to him, see if I can't get him to do an exam willingly. I don't want to have Security drag him through the ship if I can help it."

He found Spock in his quarters, but it took five tries knocking and the threat of using his override codes to get Spock to let him in. Once he did, Jim couldn't help but notice that his quarters were at least five degrees hotter than usual, or about ten degrees above 'spontaneous human combustion' levels of heat.

"Captain," said Spock, his jaw tense. "To what do I owe the - "

"Let's skip the pleasantries," said Jim. "Bones said you threatened to wring his neck. Chapel said you threw a bowl of soup at her head. Uhura said you've been avoiding her, and don't think I haven't noticed that you're avoiding me too, so I'm asking as a friend – what the hell is going on?"

Spock didn't answer for a long minute, and when he finally spoke, his voice was hoarse. "I would like to – to request personal leave from my duties."

"Uh," said Jim. "Why?"

Spock stared at him. "For personal matters."

"I'm not here as your captain, Spock," said Jim, taking a step forward. Spock took a step back, almost unconsciously, watching the floor. "I'm here as a friend. Obviously something's up, but if you don't tell me what it is, I can't do anything about it."

"There is nothing you can do, Captain," said Spock, his voice laced with stiffness. "Your concern is unnecessary."

"If it were unnecessary, you wouldn't be chucking soup at people."

"That was – an isolated incident. I will apologize to Nurse Chapel at once. I must ask that you leave."

"Spock - "

"Leave!" It came out almost as a bark, and Spock finally met Jim's eyes – there was tension, but also anger, and fear, and -

And -

And something that Jim was much more used to seeing directed at Uhura.

Spock was trembling. That couldn't be good.

Time for a change of tactics.

"Spock, if you want me gone as a friend, then fine," said Jim, "but as Captain, I need to know what the hell is going on with my First Officer and right now, I gotta say, I'm at a loss."

Spock looked away, like a sullen teenager, but Jim could tell he had him pegged. "It is – intensely personal," Spock said.

"You called an official meeting to let me know when you and Uhura broke up. What could be more personal than that?"

Spock's expression changed minutely at the mention of her name, an almost-flinch. Jim decided to press the issue.

"Look, if you just tell me what's going on, there has to be something - "

"There is not." Spock's normally rigid posture relaxed slightly into a slump. "This is, perhaps, a conversation best had with Doctor McCoy present as well."

vii.

"I am sure," said Spock, slowly, "that by now there must be rumors of pon farr."

Bones leaned forward a bit. "Rumors," he agreed, "but very little in the medical literature, and nothing to back it up..."

"Vulcans may be a scattered people, but that does not affect our wish for privacy. However, with so few...options...left available to us following the – the destruction of our home planet..."

Spock lapsed into silence, staring with uncharacteristic emotion at the briefing-room table.

After a moment, Jim prompted him. "So, pon far...?"

"It is a biological imperative. Every seven years, a Vulcan must return to mate, or die."

Jim tried not to let his kneejerk reaction of oh, shit show on his face. It probably wouldn't help the mood.

"With the destruction of Vulcan, and so a large portion of the population, there have been several potential solutions tested. Those who have surviving mates have had success continuing their relations on the Colony. Others, who were left without their mates, have - joined with other unpaired Vulcans. Some others have ventured outside the species entirely, and found that the pon farr urges are satisfied there." Spock's hands clenched into fists, and he drew them beneath the table. "It...is also said that through meditation and the rites of kolinahr, a Vulcan may pass through the pon farr and be spared its effects. I have been attempting to meditate in hopes that I might avoid it."

"Okay," said Jim, "so, basically, you either have to have sex or meditate enough, or you die."

"As you can see," said Spock, "it is intensely personal."

"I'd like to examine you, to monitor your progress," said Bones. "That may be able to tell us whether the meditation is working."

"There is another possibility," said Spock, with obvious reluctance. "Pon farr has also been known to be stopped by – by violence."

There was a moment as Jim and Bones digested this.

"You know what, we'll keep that in mind, but for now let's keep the 'violence' option below 'sex' and 'meditation' but above 'death', how does that sound?"

"The bonds forged by engaging in pon farr are profound, and I don't expect you to understand them," said Spock, anger sparking again, "but I would like to make clear that giving in to baser instincts and mating is not an option."

Jim and Bones traded looks. "It wouldn't be that hard to find someone willing to have sex with you," said Jim. "Hell, half the women on this ship are already attracted to you, and if you're looking for bonds, well, you're pretty damn bonded with Uhura - "

"That," said Spock, through gritted teeth, "is not an option."

Bones raised his eyebrows. "If it's have sex with you or die, I think she'll understand."

"We are done discussing this."

Bones and Jim traded another look. This one was less confused and more long-suffering.

"As your doctor, I do have to ask," said Bones. "Does there...have to be a partner involved? If it's just sexual gratification you need - "

"Masturbation is insufficient," said Spock, his tone clipped. "If we are done with this humiliation, I have meditation to attend to."

This time, Jim couldn't keep it back. "Right, because that's been working just great so far."

Spock stood up abruptly, pushing his chair back, and for a second Jim thought Spock was going to punch him.

"I will be in my quarters," he said instead. "I do not wish to be disturbed."

He stalked away.

viii.

In retrospect, bringing Uhura in was probably a mistake.

"What is she doing here?" Spock asked in the doorway of the briefing room.

"I thought she might like to have a say about what's going on," said Jim.

"Spock, let's talk about this," said Uhura.

"You could've warned me," said Bones, but he prodded Spock through the doorway anyway.

"I know this is a really uncomfortable situation for everyone," began Jim.

Spock stayed standing, even as Bones sat down across from Uhura. "You betrayed my confidence and did exactly what I asked you not to. I would not use the word 'uncomfortable.'"

"I care about you, and I don't want to see you suffering," said Uhura. "If that means having sex with you - "

"No," said Spock. "As I told the Captain, that is not an option I am willing to consider."

Uhura bristled. "You'd rather die, then?"

A muscle in Spock's neck jumped. "It is unethical to engage in intimacy under these circumstances – if you and I were to – to engage in intercourse solely to save my life from pon farr, then it is at best coercion, and the consent issues - "

"I'm consenting, Spock! I would rather have sex with you than watch you die!"

"And if I do not consent?"

"Nobody can make you," said Uhura, "but if you just think about it - "

"I wish to make my opinions known now, while I am still capable of doing so in a meaningful way," said Spock, his voice flat. "I do not consent to have sex with you under the influence of pon farr, Nyota."

Uhura looked at him. "Spock," she said, softly, "how much worse is this going to get?"

Spock didn't answer.

"If that's what you want," said Uhura, standing up, "then I'm going to honor your wishes. But, Spock, just – think about it. Do you really want to die?"

She was standing very close to him, and Spock put out a hand, as if he were about to touch her shoulder, but then dropped it. "This situation is...far from optimal," he said. "But I refuse to be defeated by an evolutionary relic of a biological imperative."

Uhura watched him for a long moment,d then nodded. "If that's what you want," she repeated.

On her way out the door, she glanced at Jim, her gaze full of regret.

Bones sighed. "So what's the plan now? Meditation sure as hell isn't working."

Jim rubbed his forehead. "Is there anyone else you might consider - "

"Not aboard the ship, no," said Spock flatly. "The issue of rank is far too present."

Jim hesitated, but only for a second. "If it's a choice between having sex with you or you dying, I'd do it. Just so you know. And I have lots of experience with casual sex, so you don't have to worry about it meaning anything."

Spock's eyes flicked upward in the Vulcan equivalent of an eye-roll. "Unless you are ordering me - "

"I'm not ordering, I'm just saying that I would be perfectly willing to lie back and think of Starfleet."

"The...offer," and jeeze, the way Spock said that almost made it sound like an insult, "is appreciated, but unnecessary."

"Right," said Jim, wondering if he should be offended. "Well."

"I believe," said Bones, "that that leaves 'violence'."

ix.

Sulu was pretty much the go-to violence guy aboard the Enterprise due to the combination of his laid-back nature and his advanced combat training. Some of the Security guys were always happy to spar, but if you blacked their eye, they'd take it personally, and if they blacked your eye, they'd never take you seriously again. Sulu, though, was pretty much an expert in rolling with the punches. Also botany, which was kind of weird, but Jim didn't want to ask.

"I'm happy to help in any way I can," said Sulu, stripping off his uniform jacket. "Are you sure just sparring is going to be enough?"

"It's going to be a lot of sparring," said Jim, taking off his own, as well. They'd booked the gym, at least, but from what Spock had told them (in between some pretty snarky comments and mood swings that made Jim wonder if Spock had gotten pon farr from his father's side and PMS from his mother's), they were going to have to do their best to approximate a fight to the death. Which meant a very high sparring-to-safety-equipment ratio.

Which was why Bones was standing by with his field emergency kit.

The only concession they were making to safety was that Jim and Sulu would be taking turns, tapping out when it got to be too much; with any luck, they’d exhaust the pon farr out of Spock and nobody would have to die.

"Spock, you about ready?"

"I do not believe this will help," said Spock, where he was sulking in his corner. "I would prefer to be left to my meditation."

"If I have to order you to punch me in the face," said Jim, "I will. Don't think I won't."

"That will not be necessary, Captain," said Spock, with a disconcerting gleam in his eye as he squared off against Jim.

They started off pretty easy, trading and blocking blows, but Jim could tell that Spock was pulling his punches – mostly from the way that Spock hadn't landed a single one yet.

"Okay, okay, hold on," said Jim, backing off after about five minutes. "This isn't working."

"As I predicted," said Spock.

"Not what I meant." Jim glanced over at Sulu and gave him the signal, waving his fingers below his hip before returning his attention to Spock. "You're holding back. This is supposed to be a fight to the death, right?"

"I have no immediate wish to be court-martialed for the attempted murder of my superior, and so I am taking the necessary precautions."

"Yeah, except we've got precautions already in place, and if you keep holding back, you are literally going to die, so let's try this again." Jim lifted his hands in a clear bring-it-on gesture. "Hit me with your best shot."

Spock threw a slightly more genuine punch this time, but Jim still ducked it easily; from the way Spock blocked Jim’s counter, his reaction time wasn't affected, so he had no excuse not to be beating the crap out of Jim right now.

Well, fine. Jim always enjoyed fighting dirty, and if that's what it would take to provoke a reaction, then so be it.

When Spock stepped in with another weak punch this time, Jim sidestepped and, as hard as he could, stepped on Spock's foot. Spock made a noise of pain and surprise, and glared at Jim.

Who just shrugged. "All's fair in love and kal-if-fee."

Spock's eyes narrowed. Jim was both gratified and slightly scared to see that Spock was definitely holding back less when they began again, and within five minutes Spock had him flat on his back on the mats.

Jim pounded on the floor twice. "Sulu," he said hoarsely, "you're up."

Sulu, too, was playing dirty; his practice katana kept Spock occupied for about ten minutes before he, too, pounded out and Jim was back in.

The plan was to keep doing this as long as it took to get it all out of Spock's system, but two hours, two bruised shins, three gutshots, one bloody nose, and what was probably going to turn into a nasty goose egg above Jim's eye later, Spock had barely broken a sweat and both Jim and Sulu had to concede defeat, albeit with very little breath.

"I told you this would not work," said Spock. "I will return to my meditation."

"Okay," said Jim, through gasps of breath. "You do that."

Sulu pushed himself onto his back on the mat. "That," he said, "was embarrassing."

"I don't think your nose is broken," Bones told him. "That's something, at least."

"Are we gonna try this again tomorrow?" asked Sulu. "Because I think that might kill us, and I thought the point of two people was to avoid the actual death part."

"There has got to be a way to fix this," said Jim, massaging his solar plexus. "This isn't going to work."

"I could've told you that," said Bones, slinging an arm over Jim's shoulders. "Sulu, you okay?"

Sulu held up a thumbs-up. "I'm just going to lie here and catch my breath for a while."

"Sounds good. C'mon, Jim, you look like you could use some medicinal alcohol."

"You," said Jim, "are my favorite doctor."

x.

"Maybe it's really about release," said Jim, leaning onto Bones's desk. "I mean, when you think about it, isn't that what fighting and sex have in common? It's that you let go. And when you fight to the death, you're not stopping because you're holding back, but because there's nothing left to fight."

"Are you seriously," said Bones, "trying to psychoanalyze Vulcans? Under the influence of alcohol?"

Jim waved the concern away. "I've only had one shot," he said. "And think about it this way: Spock was fighting two of us, and so not only was he pulling his punches, but he never really got any satisfaction because every time he was close to beating one of us, the other would sub in. Zero-sum game. If you can never win, you can never be satisfied."

"Please stop talking about fighting Spock like it's sex, because he already said he didn't want to have sex with you."

"He said he didn't want to have sex with anyone. There's a difference." Jim laced his fingers together. "So maybe he just needs to win a fight."

"Yeah, let's let him kill you. That's a great plan."

"Or," said Jim, an idea unfolding in his mind, "just let him think he's killed me!"

Bones poured himself another shot. "Right. Let's take our Vulcan crewmember and, dare I say it, friend and the one time we know that he's emotionally vulnerable and not in control of his actions, and make him think that he's not only a murderer, but a murderer of his captain and friend."

Jim considered this. "Dick move?"

"Yes."

"Do we have any other option? How bad is he, anyway?"

Bones sighed. "According to his latest exam, he's got a couple more days. I've talked to him about the progression of pon farr, and, well, he's still capable of rational thought, so it could be much worse." He paused. "I guess it's going to be much worse."

"Then we have to try something." Jim stood up, rubbing his hands. "I've provoked Spock into fighting before. I bet I've still got the knack for it."

"Last time the only thing that kept him from killing you was an audience."

"Then you can stand outside his quarters and I'll scream if I think I'm in any serious trouble."

Bones gave him an exasperated look. "And if you can't scream?"

"Then I'll...signal you some other way. I have to do something, Bones, I'm not going to just watch him die!"

Bones stood up, too. "Fine, but if he actually kills you, I'm putting down your cause of death as 'stupidity.'"

"Sounds fair."

xi.

Jim didn't bother trying to knock this time, and instead skipped straight to using his override code. He figured it was appropriate for the tone he was trying to set, anyway – he may as well start pissing Spock off by invading his privacy.

Spock was in the middle of his quarters, sitting on the floor in a pose that Jim had to admit did look very meditative. He frowned as Jim entered, but didn't open his eyes.

"I do not wish to be disturbed, Captain."

"Yeah, I don't really care." Jim sat down cross-legged across from him. "See, the way I see it, you've been holding back in those fights with me and Sulu and that's why it hasn't been working. You're really going to have to try harder if you expect results."

"And so you have come to antagonize me into fighting more genuinely with you."

"Pretty much."

Spock raised an eyebrow, which was pretty impressive with his eyes still closed. "Captain, as I have made clear multiple times, I believe the path to curing pon farr lies in meditation."

"Yeah, still not buying it. The thing is, there's a lot about me that you don't know."

Spock finally opened his eyes, but just to glare at Jim.

"It's true," said Jim. "For example, I'm a younger brother."

"I am aware of that."

"But there are certain cultural connotations that I don't think you get. As a younger brother, I have extensive experience in annoying the hell out of people. My mother was in Starfleet, which meant a lot of long car rides to San Francisco where I got to perfect my technique. 99 Bottles of Cardassian Ale on the Wall, This Is The Klingon War Chant That Never Ends, I Spy With My Little Geosynchronous Imaging Satellite, I'm Not Touching You...you've seen me be my annoying self, Spock, but you've never seen me be the annoying younger brother. Trust me. You have no idea what's coming."

Spock's eye was twitching now. If Jim weren't anticipating the hurt that would inevitably come out of this situation, he'd be pleased with himself.

"Let me put it this way," said Jim. "I am going to sit here and keep talking at you until you give up and actually start fighting me. Bones is waiting outside in case it gets serious, and I may have pre-gamed it with painkillers, so," he held his arms out wide, "bring it on."

Spock stared at him for a long moment. "You're not going to go away, are you."

"Nope."

Spock's eyes narrowed, and then he stood up. "Fine."

"Good," said Jim, and when Spock threw a punch, he was ready.

The trick, Jim thought, was that last time, Jim and Sulu had started off holding back. This time there was none of that. When Spock punched, Jim sidestepped and placed his elbow just right so that Spock stepped into it cheek-first. Then he hooked Spock's ankle with his own and yanked, leading to Spock tumbling to the ground.

"You're not fighting Captain James Kirk tonight," said Jim. "You're fighting Jim, Sam's younger brother, and nothing is off-limits." Jim grinned. "There's a reason my hair's cut too short to pull."

"You," said Spock, "do not seem to realize that you were not the only person in this room who was involved in altercations as a child."

Spock's knee slammed into the back of Jim's, and Spock hoisted himself up while Jim was recovering. He aimed a kick at Jim's stomach, but Jim caught it at the ankle and twisted, sending Spock staggering into the wall of his quarters; Jim pulled again to try to get him to the ground, but Spock kicked back like a mule, clipping Jim in the collarbone.

Both of them backed off and took a moment to reassess, but that was the last thing Jim wanted Spock to have time to do – he broke the detente with a full-on tackle, slamming himself and Spock back into the wall, but Spock caught hold of Jim's arm and twisted it behind his back. From there, he got Jim into a headlock, and began squeezing. Jim, however, had plenty of experience with this particular situation, and this one didn't even involve noogies.

So he bit Spock's arm, as hard as he could.

Spock let out a noise of pain and let go, and Jim reached up and caught a handful of Spock's hair – the two things guaranteed to escalate both brotherly tiffs and bar brawls were biting and hair-pulling, and Spock was no different.

This time, the noise Spock made could only be described as a roar, and Spock's fist slammed into the side of Jim's face hard enough to make the room spin. Jim let go and fell to the floor, where Spock kicked him in the gut once, then twice.

Jim had come in here to make Spock lose control – and unfortunately, it seemed like he had succeeded.

The memory of an out-of-control Spock beating the shit out of him was one thing, and having it happen again was just reminding Jim how much it had sucked the first time. He tried to catch Spock's foot again as he went in for kick number three, but he was still dizzy from the blow to the head and Spock had the clear advantage when it came to leverage – all he managed to do was deflect it so that he caught it in the ribcage.

Which was when he got the wind knocked out of him.

He gasped, and Spock backed off, hesitating for a moment – which, despite his better judgement, was not what Jim wanted. He grinned, and realized that he could taste blood – when had that happened? - but he managed to choke out, "Seriously, is that the best you've got? Weak."

This time Spock leaned down, grabbed Jim by the throat – and wow, that was getting way more frequent than Jim was comfortable with – picked him up and shoved him against the wall.

Then I'll signal you some other way was beginning to strike Jim as one of his dumber ideas.

Jim's vision was starting to go dark at the edges when the ferocity ebbed out of Spock's face, and Jim dropped to the ground as Spock let him go.

"Well," he said, between coughs, "that was a stupid plan."

"I...apologize, Captain," said Spock. "Do you require medical assistance?"

Jim hoisted himself onto his elbows and took stock. His stomach was going to be bruised, his ribs hurt - were they broken? maybe just bruised, Bones would know - he still hadn't regained his breath, his head, throat, and neck ached, and he had apparently bitten his lip at some point, judging from the blood.

"Nope," he said. "I've had worse in bar fights. No offense, Spock, but you hit like a girl."

Spock crouched down next to him, and put a hand on his elbow to help him sit up fully. "And your edges are too sharp for your own good," he said, and Jim realized that Spock's cheekbone was already beginning to swell. "I believe the effects of pon farr have passed."

"Oh, good," said Jim, shifting position with a groan. "'Cause I don't think I could do that again." He wiped his lip on his sleeve. "See? What did I tell you – you just needed to let go."

Spock's head tilted slightly. "While I see your reasoning, I do not believe that the catharsis of fighting was what succeeded in releasing me from pon farr."

"Oh? Enlighten me."

Spock furrowed his brow, as much as he ever did. "For a moment, it appeared that you were about to asphyxiate, and the possibility of your death seemed almost certain. I believe the – shock of the realization, I suppose, was enough to bring me out of pon farr, as well as - “ Spock hesitated for a moment. “I believe the phrase is ‘deja vu.’"

That made no sense, but the pain in Jim’s head was intensifying into a pulsing, throbbing, stabbing feeling that couldn’t be good, so he decided to move on. "Well, good to know. The next time this happens, you just need to almost kill me. Got it." Jim frowned. "On second thought, the next time you have to fuck or die, how about you just fuck someone? That might be easier."

Spock looked away. "I must admit, I had hoped that being half-human would spare me from pon farr, or at least lessen its effects."

Jim put the pieces together. "So this was your first? Mazel tov."

"Captain, are you...certain that you do not require medical attention?"

Jim groaned again, and put a hand to his forehead. "You know what, you might be right. I told Bones to wait until he heard me screaming, but maybe you should just go get him."

Spock nodded once, and stood.

"Spock?" He stopped, and looked back at Jim. "That stuff you were saying earlier..." Jim trailed off, and Spock raised an eyebrow in encouragement. "It was just that you didn't want to have sex with anyone, right? You'd totally have sex with me."

Spock seemed momentarily at a loss for words, but then he quite clearly and deliberately checked Jim out. "Captain..."

"Yeah?"

"I will assume that you are concussed and we will never speak of this again."

"Right," said Jim, wishing for an ice pack for his head. "Sure. Fine."
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