ecto_gammat: ([st] - you can break nothing i)
[personal profile] ecto_gammat
Title: ‘Neath a Darkening Sky
Fandom: Star Trek AOS
Summary: When a group of Vulcans on a cultural exchange move in downstairs, Jim's friends bet him he can't seduce one of them. The last thing Jim expects is to fall in love, but Vulcan culture is strict, and he and Spock will have to battle many trials before they can reach their happy ending. Based on the film Latter Days.
Notes: Companion fanmix for the awesome fic Why They Call It Falling, written by [ profile] lah_mrh for [ profile] startrekbigbang. The content in this post contains spoilers for the fic, as well as some saucy language. Please let me know if the stream isn’t working right or if any of the download links screw up.

01. sam’s town – the killers
nobody ever had a dream round here
but i don't really mind and it's starting to get to me
nobody ever pulls the seams round here
but i don't really mind and it's starting to get to me

i've got this energy beneath my feet
like something underground's gonna come up and carry me
i've got this sentimental heart that beats
but i don't really mind and it's starting to get to me

As promised, the shuttle touches down two point four minutes later, and its passengers go about the process of gathering their things and disembarking into the terminal.

Spock retrieves his bag from under the seat and follows Stonn out of the exit. He takes a deep breath as he steps out of the shuttle. He has been many places in his twenty-one years of life, but he has never found anywhere quite like Earth.

His lips twitch upwards slightly as he realises his nerves are gone. He feels almost… excited. This is what he has been waiting for, after all. A chance to interact fully with the humans, without being judged, and perhaps even learn a few things from them, all under the guise of cultural exchange.

He knows his companions are less optimistic about the idea, but right now Spock doesn't care. He has two months to learn everything he can about humans, and he plans to make every second count.

02. mambo mambo – lou bega
and on my journey
through all of these dances
i found a lot of
hot sex romances
but mambo seek me
and mambo freak me
then she released me
and this is how we go

Jim is awoken the next morning by a cushion landing on his head. He pulls it off and sits up, blinking in the light from the doorway. Slowly the world comes into focus and he sees Uhura standing in the doorway with her hands on her hips.

"You," she says, eyes narrowing.

Jim pulls the covers closer and tries to look innocent. "What did I do?"

Uhura marches over and grabs the cushion, drawing back as if she's about to hit him with it. Jim ducks.

"You fucked my ex-boyfriend," Uhura says, still brandishing the cushion.

Jim blinks at her. "Amos?" He doesn't remember that.

She waves the cushion at him again. "Not Amos. Do you listen to anything I say?" Before Jim can answer, she continues, "I meant Nick."

Now Jim does remember. "Oh, you mean the guy last night?" he asks. "I thought he looked familiar."

Uhura stares at him in disbelief. "You mean you fucked my ex-boyfriend and didn't even notice?"

"Hey, it's not like I asked for his name."

That earns him a cushion to the face, but in his opinion it was totally worth it. Despite her actions, he can tell Uhura isn't really angry with him. When she's really pissed off she does things like dismantle the snooze button on his alarm clock or change all his music to Tellarite opera. Cushion assault is just how they communicate.

"All right," he says, holding his hands up in surrender. "I'm sorry. I won't do it again."

"Yes, you will," Uhura mutters, but there's a faint smile around her mouth as she rolls her eyes.

"Yeah, probably," Jim admits with a shrug.

Uhura gives him one last thwack with the cushion, then tucks it under one arm. "So how was it?" she asks, raising her eyebrows.

Jim considers it, then makes a so-so gesture. "Six out of ten."

"Huh," Uhura replies. "I would've given him five." At Jim's look she smirks and adds, "Why d'you think I broke up with him?"

03. underdog – imagine dragons
hey, that sounds like my luck
i get the short end of it
oh i love to be
i love to be the underdog hey!

Uhura leans forward like she's imparting a secret. "They're Vulcans."

"No way," Jim blurts. "Why the hell would Vulcans be moving into our building?"

"Apparently they're on some kind of cultural exchange trip," Uhura answers. "They were pretty busy so we could only talk for a minute or two, but they said they might stop by sometime tomorrow to meet us properly."

There's silence for a moment after she finishes speaking.

McCoy is the first one to break it. "Well, this should be interesting," he says. "I don't know who to feel sorrier for, Jim or the Vulcans."

Jim rolls his eyes. "Shut up. I'll have them eating out of my hand, just you wait and see."

Uhura gives a snort of laughter. "I don't think your usual approach is going to work here, Jim."

Sulu grins. "Yep. No way in hell you can charm a Vulcan into bed."

That sounds like a challenge, and Jim has never backed down from a challenge in his life. "You wanna bet?" he asks.

Sulu stares at him. "Seriously?"

Jim nods firmly. "Yeah. I bet you fifty credits I can get one of them into bed." He leans back in his seat and crosses his arms, waiting for Sulu's response.

"I'll take that bet," McCoy puts in. "You're good, Jim, but you're not that good."

Jim glares at him, but is quickly distracted by Scotty. "How would we know you did it though?" he asks. "We'd need proof."

The group lapses into silence as they all ponder that.

"You could take a picture of his dick," Sulu suggests. "I've always wondered what Vulcan dick looks like."

"You would," McCoy mutters under his breath.

"I dunno," Scotty puts in, "it sounds like a decent idea to me."

Jim looks round at each person in turn. Uhura looks dubious, but she isn't raising any objections. Scotty and Sulu are in favour, and McCoy just shrugs. "All right then," Jim says. "I get one of the Vulcans naked, snap a picture of his junk, and each of you owes me fifty credits." He laces his hands behind his head. "Piece of cake."

04. náttfari – sólstafir
He doesn't have long to dwell on the thought, however, as Jim shoots him a sidelong glance and asks, "What about you?"

"Me?" Spock asks in confusion.

Jim looks amused again. "Yes, you. Or at least Vulcans in general. What do you do for fun?"

"Fun is a human concept," Spock replies.

Jim stares at him in belief. "You can't be serious." Before Spock can respond he shakes his head and adds, "Fine. What 'recreational activities' do you like? What do you do to relax?"

"I meditate," Spock tells him.

"That's it?" Jim asks, looking unimpressed.

Spock puzzles over the question for a moment, then offers, "I play the ka'athyra." At Jim's look of confusion he adds, "The Vulcan lyre."

Jim's face clears. "Oh, so you're a musician." Spock opens his mouth to say that he would not put it that way, but is stopped by Jim continuing, "I love music. I don't think I've ever heard any from Vulcan, though." He studies Spock for a moment. "Did you bring your kathira with you?"

"Ka'athyra," Spock corrects. "And no. We were only allowed one piece of baggage, and there were other items to pack that I judged more important." He pauses, then adds, "I was also concerned that it would become damaged during the voyage."

Jim nods. "Yeah, I could see that. It's a pity, though. I would've liked to hear you play." He grins suddenly.

The grin gives Spock a strange feeling in his chest, and he looks away.

05. wheels are turnin’ – reo speedwagon
and if i can't get inspired 'round here
i'm going out to the world and learn
there's action in my soul tonight
i feel the wheels are beginning to turn

when you're cut down to the bone
you bleed, but it heals
you hurt, but still you must carry on

'cause the wheels are turnin'
the feeling's burnin'
the thrill's returnin'
my soul is yearnin'
my heart is churnin'
the wheels are turnin' again

Jim runs into Spock once or twice over the next few days, but it's always when one or the other of them is too busy to do more than say hi. Occasionally he also catches sight of one of the other Vulcans, but they're much less sociable than Spock, acknowledging his greetings with a raised eyebrow or toneless response.

Jim decides to keep trying – he always has liked a challenge – but it's becoming clear to him that his best shot at winning the bet will be to focus on Spock.

On the day he gets his Warp Field Mechanics test back – a 92, not too shabby – he heads over to the library and begins research into 'Things Vulcans Like'.

Several hours later he comes up for air having learned little of use. Vulcans don't seem to 'like' anything, except maybe logic. Spock mentioned music, but even that seems to be mostly a matter of skill and mathematics rather than fun.

With a sigh, he packs up his things and heads home. He may have hit a brick wall with this idea, but he isn't about to give up. He'll just have to come up with a different plan.

06. rust - hellblinki
sitting silent on the porch, the doorstep of a heart
the entrance to a warm safe place, where something new can start
put the pieces back again, climb on the apple cart
pick-up sticks and lock a key, then watch it fall apart

"I like you, you know," Jim says softly. "A lot."

"I know," Spock replies, barely audible. "And I…." He trails off, the greenness in his cheeks deepening.

"You like me too," Jim finishes.

Spock's eyes flick to him, and then away. "Yes." He looks down at the floor, a troubled expression on his face. "But… I cannot…."

"It's okay," Jim tells him. "It's just us here." He places his other hand on Spock's knee, rubbing it gently. "I can make you feel good," he promises. "You don't have to do anything, just lie back and let me take care of you."

He can see Spock begin to weaken. "Vulcans do not- It is forbidden-"

"Shh," Jim interrupts him. "Don't think about that. It's just sex, okay? Two people making each other feel good. It doesn't have to mean anything if you don't want it to."

He knows immediately that it's the wrong thing to say. Far from relaxing further, Spock stiffens, turning to him with an expression of sheer disbelief.

"Is that truly what you believe?" he asks sharply. "That sexual activity is meaningless?"

It's Jim's turn to stammer. "Not- not meaningless, just-"

"Just a temporary diversion," Spock finishes for him. "Of no more importance than any other pastime." He shakes his head, pulling away from Jim and standing up. "I cannot believe that I thought-" He cuts himself off, shaking his head again. Jim's chest aches.

"Spock, don't-"

Spock continues as if he hasn't spoken. "On Vulcan, sexual activity is the very opposite of meaningless. It is an intimacy shared only between those who are fully committed to one another, who have joined their very souls. And to think I considered engaging in such acts with someone like you, who does not even seem to know the meaning of commitment."

Jim feels like he's been slapped in the face. "Now wait a minute-"

Spock cuts him off again. "I must go." And without so much as a look back at Jim, he leaves.

Jim thinks about going after him, but in the end just punches his pillow before flopping back on his bed. He has no idea how he's going to make this right.

07. love is not the answer – the darkness
love will make you stupid
love will make you wait
love is not destiny, it’s fate
and love
ain't that different from hate

and then it hurts like hell
and makes you lose the plot
don't know what love is
but i know what love is not

for the faint hearted
you turn your back and it is gone
for the faint hearted
it can melt a heart of stone
and nobody can make it on their own

Jim doesn't remember much about the process of checking into a hotel and getting up to the room. All he can focus on is the feeling of Spock next to him, the desperate affection they both feel. The door of their room has barely closed behind them before they are in each other's arms, kissing as if they never intend to stop.

At some point they make it to the bed, pulling off clothes and losing themselves in the sensation of skin on skin.

It isn't like any encounter Jim's ever had before. Spock is inexperienced and clearly nervous, though he tries to hide it under all his Vulcan stoicism. Jim finds himself having to be slow and careful in a way he never has before, letting Spock adjust to the intimacy of the situation.

It's completely different to his usual modus operandi, but he doesn't care one bit. Just getting to be here, touching Spock like this, is more than he could ever have hoped for. As awkward and imperfect as it is, it's still the best time he's ever had with a partner.

Afterwards he wraps his arms around Spock as they lie together. The knowledge that their time together his limited weighs heavily on his mind, and he tightens his hold on Spock as if his grip can keep them being torn away from each other.

"What kind of culture punishes people for loving each other?" he asks.

"Relationships on Vulcan are not based on love," Spock replies. "They are based on logic, and ours has none."

08. no one cares – atreyu
my eyes burn as i bury how i'm feeling
close my eyes, it's my life that i've been stealing
if it's all right, why do i feel a sense of longing
i had it all, and yet i thought that something's missing
something's missing

He is arranging the last of things on his dresser when there is a knock on the door. Forcing down his nerves, Spock crosses the room and opens the door.

His mother stands there, fingers fiddling absently with a seam of her robe. She stops when he opens the door and instead smoothes her hands down the fabric. "Spock," she greets. "I hope you are well?"

She does not offer him a welcome home, nor does she attempt to hug him as she usually does. Even though such actions often make him uncomfortable, Spock finds himself missing them. His mother's current reticence feels wrong, and once again he wonders that a simple kiss could ruin everything.

"I am physically fit," he replies, deliberately leaving out any references to his emotional health. Vulcans do not lie, after all.

She offers a faint smile. "Good. That's good." She glances around, then adds, "I just wanted to tell you that dinner will be ready in about half an hour, okay?"

"I will be there," Spock replies. Much as he might wish to skip it.

His mother nods. "Well, I should go. I'm… I'm glad you're okay." With that she turns to leave.

Spock wants to call after her, to ask her why she's acting this way, but once more the words stick in his throat. He watches her disappear down the stairs before going back into his room and dropping down onto his meditation mat. If ever he needed the peace of meditation, it is now.

09. numb - alanis morissette
i feel smothered, and encumbered, and defeated, and drawn
disappointed, over-extended, and frustrated, and shaken
this over-giving, over-loving, this caretaking goes on
with no chance of intermission
i'll be checked out, i'll be gone

have to remove myself from sensation

here comes the feeling
i run from the feeling and reach for the drug
can't sit with this feeling
i'd rather be flying and comfortably numb

Back on Earth, Jim is dealing with the separation in his own way. His first instinct is to throw himself into other things; work, hobbies, extra-credit projects, anything that will keep his mind busy enough to avoid thinking about the hole Spock's absence has left.

It's the same thing he did after his mother died, and it ends up having much the same effect.

"Dammit, Jim," McCoy says, crossing his arms as Jim blinks at him from a bed in the medical centre. "You can't keep running yourself ragged like this. When's the last time you ate? Or slept?" Jim opens his mouth, only to close it again when McCoy glares at him and adds, "For more than a couple of hours at a time."

"I'm fine," Jim protests, although he realises his present location does not exactly add credence to his claim.

Sure enough, McCoy just snorts. "Right. You're totally fine. That's why you collapsed in the middle of your self-defence class and ended up here." His expression softens, and he adds, "Look, Jim. I know you miss him, but you need to start taking better care of yourself."

Jim sets his jaw and looks away. "Can I go now?"

McCoy sighs, holding out a PADD. "Just sign this, and you're free to leave. But I want you to eat a full meal and get at least eight hours of sleep tonight."

Jim obediently scrawls a signature, then gathers his things and hurries off before McCoy can change his mind.

10. waiting for tonight - adelitas way
always said i wanna go be on my own
i never said that the pain just wouldn't subside
torn between a house and a broken home
evil thoughts been running through my mind

that's when it all came down
and everything around turned grey
the pain will stop
but will it stop for me?

waiting for tonight
you can find the words to say
i can barely breathe
how will i move on?

She cuts him off before he can finish. "No, he doesn't," she says, and there's a hint of something he can't identify in her eyes. Spock opens his mouth to argue, but she is faster. "He doesn't love you. He told Stonn that he seduced you on a bet." Her expression softens as she adds, "I'm sorry, Spock, but it's true. You were nothing but a game to him."

Spock stares at her blankly, not wanting to believe. Jim wouldn't do that. He told Spock, he said that he loved him, that he wanted to be with him. It couldn't just be for a bet. But he knows his mother, and he can tell she isn't lying.

She turns back to the sauce. "You'd better go wash up. Dinner's almost ready."

Numbly, Spock turns and makes his way out of the room, the ache in his chest growing and threatening to swallow him whole.

11. running blind - t.a.t.u.
reaching for you
i know you're out there somewhere
it's too dark, i'm so cold
i know i had to come here

every broken dream
that i leave behind
keeps me going on
keeps me running blind

calling your name i hear only echoes
searching the rain i see only shadows
you've got to show me your face
voices i hear them calling behind me
phantoms of you are burning inside me
you've got to give me a sign

The first six calls result in five wrong numbers and one non-answer. But on the seventh, Jim's luck changes.

The call is answered by a dark haired woman who stares at him impassively. But after five of these conversations, Jim is past being wrong-footed by such a reaction. "I'm looking for Spock," he says, managing not to make it sound like a question.

"What do you want with him?" the woman asks sharply, and Jim has to fight not to grin. Jackpot!

"I'm… a friend," he says. "From Earth. Can I speak to him?"

The woman's eyes narrow. "You're him, aren't you? Leave us alone!" She leans forward and the screen goes dark.

Jim stares at the blank screen for a moment, replaying what he saw just before the connection cut out. The woman's cheeks were flushed with anger – flushed red.

He pokes his head out into the living room. "I found him."

Uhura's eyes widen. "Really? What did he say?"

Jim shrugs. "I didn't get to speak to him. His mom hung up on me."

"Then how do you know it was the right number?" Uhura asks, frowning.

Jim grins. "Because," he says. "She was human."

He feels like a weight has been lifted. Sure, Spock's mom hung up on him, but he has the right number now. All he has to do is keep trying.

Everything's going to be fine.

12. suture up your future - queens of the stone age
tried to fake it, i just can't take it
i don't care if it hurts
just so long as it's real

i won't waste it, turned to face it
i'd sharpened a knife, then used it
until bone made it dull

tried explaining, done explaining
i got caught in the plaid
all of this talking at once

i've been giving my love away
to the things that tear it apart
i'm gonna suture up my future

"You can talk to me, Jim" Pike says gently. "If there's something bothering you I'd like to know." He pauses briefly, then adds, "Is someone hurting you?"

Jim's gaze snaps up from where he's examining his knees. "What? No." But Pike's concerned expression breaks down his resistance. "A… friend of mine died recently," he says, fingernails digging into his palm. "And I never even got to say goodbye."

"Ah," Pike says, his tone full of sympathy. "As it happens, I recently suffered a similar loss, so I know how hard it can be. I take it this was a sudden event?"

Jim nods.

"And right now you're probably asking yourself what you could have done differently. If there's some way you could have kept it from happening."

It isn't a question, and Jim stares at him. Maybe Pike does understand, just a little, though Jim wonders if he would be so sympathetic if he knew the whole story.

"Well, there isn't," Pike continues firmly. "Trust me, blaming yourself doesn't help anyone. The best thing you can do is live as they would want you to."

13. violet skies – in this moment
deep inside your eyes it shows
you've been lost for too long
out of touch
on the edge
i promise you will find a way
i found a pathway home
i'll carry you
you're not alone

so now i lay us down to sleep
i found a world where we are free

"Hey, sir? I wanted to talk to you about-" The voice cuts off suddenly. "Oh, sorry. Didn't realise you had company."

Spock's heart begins pounding in his side. He knows that voice. Slowly he turns to see Jim Kirk standing in the doorway of Pike's office.

He can see the exact moment Jim recognises him, as the PADD he is holding falls from his hands and lands on the floor with a crash.

"Ah, Jim," Pike says. "This is-"

"You're alive," Jim interrupts, as if Pike hadn't spoken. His gaze is fixed on Spock as though he expects him to disappear any moment. A second later he is moving, rushing forward and sweeping Spock into a hug.

"You're alive," he mumbles into Spock's shoulder, arms squeezing tightly. "Oh my God, Spock, I thought you were dead."

"Apparently you two have met," Pike says dryly.

"Indeed," Spock replies absently, as he wraps his own arms around Jim's back.

After a moment Jim pulls away enough so they can look into each other's eyes. "I called your mom," Jim says, apparently not caring that they currently have an audience. "She told me…." He trails off, gaze flicking to Spock's wrists. "I guess I misunderstood."

It isn't difficult for Spock to figure out what must have happened, but it isn't a conversation he wants to have here and now. "I went to your apartment," he says instead. "A woman there told me that you moved out."

Jim nods. "Uhura got offered a post on the Hood, so I'm staying with Bones for a while." He smiles weakly. "I missed you."

"And I you," Spock replies.

They are interrupted by Pike clearing his throat, and both turn to look at him. His expression is stern, but it is obvious he's trying to hide a smile. "As touching as this reunion is," he says, "I need Spock here to fill in some of this paperwork."

Jim turns back to Spock, his expression somewhere between amazement and disbelief. "You're joining Starfleet?"

"It seemed the logical option," Spock replies, but he lets his hand drift down and briefly brush against Jim's.

14. arise – flyleaf
sing to me about the end of the world
end of these hammers and needles for you
we’ll cry tonight
and in the morning we are new
stand in the sun
we'll dry your eyes

hold on to the world we all remember fighting for
there's still strength left in us yet
hold on to the world we all remember dying for
there's still hope left in it yet

sing, sing

arise and be
all that you dreamed
all that you dreamed

There is silence for a long moment, Jim's thumb stroking gently over Spock's hand in a wordless gesture of comfort. "Do they know you left?" Jim asks. "Your parents, I mean."

Spock tilts his head, considering. "I imagine that by now the acolytes will have informed them of my disappearance, but I cannot be certain. I have not had any contact with them since I arrived at Gol."

"Are you… were you planning to contact them?" Jim asks.

Spock frowns, turning to look at him. "Why would I do that?"

"Well… I mean…" Jim stammers, with the expression of one who is aware he has misspoken. "Won't they worry about you?"

Spock's heart twists a little in his side as he thinks of his mother, of her face when he woke up at the hospital. Jim is right, she will be worried. But then he remembers the past weeks of isolation and despair, waiting for comfort and reassurance that never came, and his resolve hardens. "Let them worry."

Jim's expression softens to one of sympathy, and he steps forward and wraps his arms around Spock carefully, as if he expects to be shoved away. Spock returns the hug, relaxing into Jim's touch. He lays his head on Jim's shoulder and feels a hand reach up to stroke his hair.

"I'm sorry," Jim says quietly. "But just so you know, you're incredible just the way you are, and if your parents or anyone else can't see that then that's their problem."

"They made me think this was wrong," Spock says into Jim's shoulder. "That I was wrong."

"You're not," Jim tells him, still stroking his hair.

And, for the first time, Spock truly believes it.

15. what you mean to me – buzzcocks
this whole crazy world
don't amount to more than a hill of beans
tired of sharing my loneliness alone
i wanna live my dreams

i contemplate every moment
let's make history
it's time now to be the future
let’s make history

The day he starts Starfleet Academy, Spock sends his parents a message. It is very short, just long enough to confirm that he is safe, and alive, and happy. With Jim.

He sends it from a throwaway account, and doesn't bother to look for a reply. He has given them enough information that they can track him down if they want to, what happens next is up to them.

With that thought, he leaves the computer and goes to find Jim. His new life is about to begin. And he is ready for it.

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