"The thinnest skin on the humanoid body," Spock observed. Tiny bubbles like the carbonation in soda water were expelled from the fringes of silken skin, floating to the surface of the tank to expire.
Outside the tank, this section of Sickbay was empty and the room was dimmed, to give the Enterprise's top-ranking officers some time to relax even despite their malady. For nearly an entire day, Dr. McCoy, Dr. Chapel, and a panoply of nurses had been running tests and making observations, trying to figure out two very important pieces of information: what had caused the dumbfounding changes in Kirk and Spock's biology, and even more vital, how to reverse them.
Unfortunately, a day's work had only succeeded in proving that two years into their second five-year mission together, Admiral Kirk and Commander Spock had been surgically altered somehow into creatures of the water.
"At least they don't have tails," McCoy had muttered somewhere around dinnertime.
Chapel had snickered, picturing Mer-Jim sitting on a beach wearing a sand-dollar brassiere.
But the situation was serious. The Enterprise was in the middle of a mission, and she needed her captain at the helm. They'd been sent to Argo, a world covered in water, to gather data vital to the survival of another world facing impending flood. Now, Kirk and Spock were caught in a flood of their own, and in a reverse of Noah's Ark, were now trapped in a neat little pair in a large tank of water, prisoners on their own ship.
It was night, and although their life functions were being monitored by computer, McCoy had thought it important that they rest in private, away from the eyes of other actual beings.
"I wonder if this is what it felt like to be in my mother's womb," Kirk mused.
"Vulcans retain a telepathic memory of the experience," said Spock. "As a teenager, I once wondered if I had been damaged by being more immersed in--love--than any fully Vulcan fetus."
"It may have made you more unique," Jim replied glibly, his wavy hair swishing in the water like the dance of seaweed. He and Spock gazed at each other for a moment of companionable silence, both deep in the same thoughts. "There's got to be a way to reverse this--this mutation," he said after a while. "Even if McCoy can't figure it out, someone down there knows how this works. This was done deliberately."
"What if we are unable to convince those who possess the knowledge to divulge it to us?"
Jim flashed him the patented James T. Charming Grin. "We can try!"
"And if the process is revealed to be truly irreversible?"
Jim took a deep breath, which resulted in a thick stream of bubbles welling up from his gill-slits. "Well, then, I--guess--we can always go on an oceanic expedition on Earth or other watered planets, right? Plenty of new worlds to discover and study there."
"I could never again return home," Spock pointed out in a very soft voice. "Life as we knew it would become a memory."
Jim moved closer and took the Vulcan in his arms.
Spock took comfort in the waves of affection transmitted by his captain. He knew through the bond that Jim had the same concerns for the future as he did, but the Jim Kirk way was one of tenacious optimism. In his own mind, pessimism had always seemed more logical--once one came to terms with the worst-case scenario and prepared for it, one was then prepared to deal with anything.
But Jim was right. They *must* find a way to become air-breathers again, and Jim would not let any of them, Spock or the medical staff, consider surrendering to fate.
"At least we are not separated," said Spock solemnly.
Jim, holding him, peered around the tank that held them both safe and captive. "Yes," he said slowly. "I couldn't bear to be on the other side of that glass from you." All things considered, he was grateful that whatever direction their lives would take, this bizarre adventure would not force apart their life paths.
Spock moved his face closer through the water and kissed his Jim softly on the lips. Trying to breathe air in this state may have made his throat raw and his head dizzy, and his once familiar hands may now have been covered with strange layers of extra skin and webbing, but kissing his bondmate felt just as perfect and natural and right as it always had. //Perfectly logical,// his thoughts murmured, //since the bond is a creation of the mind, which has not been altered.//
Having webbed hands made the Vulcan finger-caress nearly impossible, so Kirk lifted Spock's hand to his lips instead. "What was that I said the first time that I held you?" he purred in a husky voice. "I was going to kiss every square inch of your skin." He suckled at the webbing. "You've got new skin here, Mister Spock, and it hasn't been properly baptized."
"If you are speaking of traditional Baptism, Jim," Spock replied in his I'm-a-sexy-smartass voice, "then I believe we have both been sufficiently immersed."
Jim's tongue flickered between Spock's fingers, causing the Vulcan to moan slightly--in bubbles! Human eyes sparkled at this novel expression of pleasure. "Doesn't it seem strange to you that we're still wearing our uniforms?"
Spock lifted his eyebrow, and Jim was almost surprised that it wasn't accompanied by another rush of bubbles. "We may have grown gills and flippers, but we are still Starfleet officers."
"But we're off-duty! Bones wanted us to relax," Jim reminded him.
"Surely you are not suggesting we disrobe."
"I guess not." Jim sighed. "We'd never be able to get wet clothes back on underwater."
"That is not to say that we must refrain from intimacy," said Spock. He slipped a webbed hand underneath the bottom of Jim's shirt and stroked his back. "The doctor has asked that nobody disturb us while we sleep."
"Mm, how very fortunate," Jim slurred, his eyelids closing as he shuddered with delight. Like a caterpillar on a leaf flailing instinctively for its next foothold, his hands slithered automatically to Spock's rear. He squeezed himself a few handfuls before finding something even more interesting to play with. It didn't take him long to free his new toy from the confinement of uniform pants.
The webbing on Jim's hands made a satisfyingly tight sheath for Spock's erection. Spock's nose burrowed into the crook of Jim's neck. Inspired by what he found there, he tentatively began to lick Jim's gills with the tip of his tongue.
Jim thrashed slightly and let out a strange, almost cetacean cry.
"It comes as no surprise to me that these tissues are sexually sensitive," Spock informed him, "as they are composed of a mucous membrane similar to that which is found in the mouth, or the--"
"Don't stop," Jim gasped, interrupting him with lazy desperation. He tugged more tightly on Spock's organ for emphasis.
Spock dutifully returned to lapping at the translucent adornments on his partner's neck, thrusting all the time into the hands that pumped him so passionately. Jim's answering arousal strained towards him through the still-zipped pants, which Spock dealt with quickly and efficiently.
Grasping each other's firm organs with their flippery hands, the two beings pumped in synchronized rhythm. Jim caught the lip of Spock's ear between his lips and nipped at it playfully, relinquishing it to the water as passion contorted his face. The liquid around them swirled and clouded with bubbles, obscuring the lovers as the breathing through their gills grew heavier in sexual bliss.
Their mouths came together like the crashing of waves as they climaxed, pulsing heat into the nest of webbed hands. It floated away quickly on the water, to be processed and cleaned away by the tank filter.
They remained in the embrace, Jim nibbling on the edge of Spock's chin.
"At least we are left this," Spock said softly after a long while.
"Stop that," Jim said sharply. "We're getting out of here. Bones's got the whole Sickbay working on our condition. If that comes up empty, we'll take the next step and go down there."
"But Jim, the water shuttle has been destroyed."
"We'll go ourselves. We don't need a ship." Bubbles puffed from Kirk's gills, as if to emphasize his statement.
"That is logical," Spock was forced to admit, adding, "providing we have sufficient information about the area to make such travel relatively safe." He lifted his hand and twirled some of Jim's floating hair around his fingertips. "For now, we must rest."
"Sounds like a plan." Jim squeezed him one more time, then lay down on the tank's bottom. Spock soon joined him there, and with his head on Jim's shoulder, they both fell asleep with the water washing gently over their mutated bodies.