Spock inspected the knight in his hand, as if he expected a solution to
the tied game in front of him to appear across its marbled form.
"What is this," Admiral Kirk grumbled with mock displeasure, "chess,
Spock straightened in his chair and set the piece aside. "Unless one
of us were to make a mistake, which is unlikely, neither of us can be
declared the winner. Just, as you say, in tic-tac-toe."
"You could look at it another way," said Kirk. "You could put up the
game for the evening and decide that we both won."
"That would be agreeable," said Spock, putting the pieces away.
"And, after all," said Kirk, coming around the table so he could
touch Spock's arm lightly, "we're so well matched that when we put our
heads together we do both win. That's what makes us such a good command
team--and best friends."
"You were always my... best friend," Spock told him softly, "even
when I was in solitary meditation deep within the walls of Gol--and the
walls of myself."
"Thank you, Spock," said Kirk. "It means a lot to me to know that.
All that time, you can't imagine how many countless times I thought of
you, wanted to talk to you, share something with you... something would
happen--I'd have a minor desk-jockey adventure, and I'd... picture
myself telling you, and I'd think about how you'd react. Little things
like that, but *all* the *time.*" He paused to sigh. "I hope you've
always known you were *my* best friend as well."
Spock nodded. "Yes, Jim. You left no mystery as to your level of
involvement in our friendship. It was my own that concerned me, and
caused me to retreat."
"But that's all over now, right? In the Sickbay, you said--"
"I now acknowledge the connection between us as a logical and
inevitable joy," Spock answered.
Kirk's face broke into a glowing smile. "I'm glad you've stopped
trying to run from happiness. I like having my best friend back."
"'Best friend', at least as most Humans define it, is still an
inadequate word to fully describe our relationship," Spock pointed out.
"You have opened my life to various physical experiences that I treasure
sharing with you."
A mild, pleasant tingle suffused Kirk's body. "Those are wonderful
moments," he murmured. "I'm glad you haven't driven that aspect of
yourself away during your studies on Gol."
"Our intimacy is a logical extension of our affection," Spock
explained. "It is what I feel for no other. It affirms and expresses our
feelings for each other. I see no reason to discontinue it." As if to
illustrate, or perhaps, reassure, he took Kirk's hand in his and slowly
ran his fingers over Kirk's palm.
Kirk's eyes sparkled with emotion. "I won't call us 'lovers'," he
suddenly snapped. "It's demeaning. Sounds too... illicit."
"Your penchant for historical fiction influences your semantic
preference," Spock hypothesized, "but I agree. We must find another
word." Both men knew that there was no urgent need to define themselves,
but it seemed an entertaining intellectual game to accompany the
caresses they had already begun to exchange.
"Boyfriends," Kirk suddenly quipped. "Wow, that certainly sounds off.
We don't 'date'; we don't have time! I've got a whole starship to run."
"And we are not 'boys'," Spock reminded him. "We are both over
Kirk made a face. "Well, there's... 'friends with benefits'...."
Spock considered. "There are many benefits to our friendship--our
satisfyingly competitive chess games, the smooth flow of our
conversation, the way you are the only person on board who, as you would
say, 'gets my jokes'. None of these benefits are any less important than
the benefit of physical recreation. To my mind, any friend is a friend
"To anyone from Earth," Kirk said, "friends with benefits means
something very specific and definitely not platonic, but I do see your
"There is a closeness between us that transcends 'friend'." Spock was
gently massaging all the muscles in Kirk's hand between his thumbs and
fingers. "A closeness akin to a member of my family. Or a brother."
Kirk started laughing. "Brothers with benefits!"
Spock raised an eyebrow. "That does nothing to fix my apprehension
over the uselessness of the term 'benefits', and if, as you say,
'benefits' implies physical intimacy to Terrans, you have now added the
incest taboo to our collection of complications."
"Relax." Kirk held up his other hand. "You're right, of course. It
just had to be said."
"Indeed." Spock looked skeptical. "You are aware, of course, how
silly this entire discussion is."
Kirk looked down, then back into Spock's eyes, smiling. "Yes."
They caught each other's gaze and held it, studying the shimmers and
color-shifts in each other's irises.
"I will not leave you again," said Spock in a low, careful voice.
"I think the most... suitable word... is husband," Kirk said.
"Logical." Spock lifted Kirk's fingers to his lips and kissed their
Adrenaline bubbled through Kirk's body. The cloudburst broke, and
rain fell. They tackled each other with kisses and fell back onto the
Kirk came up for air, once, saying, "Of course, 'husband' isn't quite
the best word either--used to have something to do with the word for
'owner' in more than one language. Many people on Earth prefer 'spouse'
Spock swallowed Kirk's head with his forearms and stifled the rest of
the sentence with another kiss.