Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters. Alanis Morrisette owns that Head Over Feet song with the "best friends with benefits" line. I own a cat, a fiddle, and a lot of yarn, none of which were harmed in the making of this vignette.
Summary: After Spock's return from Gol, Kirk and Spock try to define their complex friendship.

Brothers with Benefits

A K/S fic by Farfalla the Butterfly-Kitten; rated PG
Feedback to: blueberrysnail (at) yahoo dot com
Beta: Hypatia, destroyer of words

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, or tic-tac-toe?"

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 forty."

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 with benefits."

"To anyone from Earth," Kirk said, "friends with benefits means something very specific and definitely not platonic, but I do see your point."

"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 tips.

Adrenaline bubbled through Kirk's body. The cloudburst broke, and rain fell. They tackled each other with kisses and fell back onto the sofa.

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' these day--"

Spock swallowed Kirk's head with his forearms and stifled the rest of the sentence with another kiss.