“Hey Bones! I’m-” Stopping abruptly in the doorway of Sarek and McCoy’s quarters was not the best idea he’d ever had, no matter what was going on inside. Spock bumped into him hard enough to make them both stumble and it was only his bondmate’s quick grab that kept the Captain from tumbling to the floor. Jim flashed Spock a grin over his shoulder in apology despite knowing Spock bumped into him on purpose, then pulled his eyes away from his enchanting t’hy’la and back to the room’s occupants as Spock took a tiny step back, reluctantly releasing Jim.
McCoy was quietly kneeling on a brightly colored mat, his bondmate, Sarek, kneeling also, a slender and low rectangular table between them. The table itself hosted a neatly laid out set of odd stone tools and a shallow stone cup almost the size of a soup bowl, all in the most brilliant color green that reminded Jim of the green paint Spock had used on him over three years ago. But what stopped Jim from venturing further into his friend’s quarters was the reverent atmosphere coming from the bonded pair.
“Spock,” Jim kept his voice to a whisper, not wanting to disturb, but curious about what looked like a Vulcan activity. “What’s going on?”
“Come.” The quiet command and the gently tugging on Jim’s hand and mind got him to leave, but not before he darted one last look at his father-in-law and his best friend, struck by the happy contentment on both, usually stern, faces. When he turned back to his own bondmate, Spock subtly brushed their fingers together in a kiss before letting go of his hand. “I must apologize on my father’s behalf. I am certain that, had the doctor known that his lunch hour would have been otherwise occupied, he would not have offered to share his mealtime with us.”
“Why?” The vivid blue of Jim’s eyes sharpened for a moment in contemplation. “Another Vulcan cultural tradition you haven’t exposed me to yet?”
Spock’s expression softened, lips barely tilting at the corners with a smile that showed more clearly in his eyes. “Yes, simply because our schedules have not allowed adequate time.”
Face brightening in a smile, because Jim loved to learn about his t’hy’la’s old world and embraced every opportunity to do so. He mentally started shuffling around both of their end-of-shift work duties. “How much time do you think we’ll need?”
“I will require one point three hours to prepare and we will be occupied for an additional three hours.” Spock, genius that he was, quickly caught on to Jim’s plan. “If I may suggest, since we are in Federation space, turn the Com over to Lieutenant Sulu. He will undoubtedly appreciate the experience and he knows the end-of-duty-shift protocol as thoroughly as you.”
Nodding, Jim snuck in an answering quick, discrete finger-kiss that Spock eagerly returned. “Sounds like a good idea. I’ll go take care of the few sign-offs that I have to do while you get things ready and I’ll see you back in our quarters.”
“Then, if you will excuse me, Captain.”
Jim watched his Vulcan stride purposefully off to their cabin for only a second, enjoying the sight of the firm ass before heading towards the Bridge. And if he was a little distracted by the prospect of a ‘cultural lesson’, with it’s inevitable carnal conclusion, well, nobody noticed.
The first things he noticed upon walking into their shared living space an hour later was the temperature had been turned up some and the lights had been dimmed. Jim stepped a little further in and toed off his boots, allowing their door to slide shut, but he didn’t spot his bondmate kneeling on the floor until he rounded the partition separating the small office in the front area from the tiny leisure/living room that took up the little bit of space on the right side of their quarters.
There, Spock had set up a small, round, low table nearly against the far corner that had ancient Vulcan weapons hanging on one wall; Jim’s old paper books and miniature crystal sailing ships decorated the built-in shelves on the other wall. The table itself, burgundy-colored judging by the legs and a beautiful blue-silver cloth covering it, was holding the same odd assortment of tools that he’d seen in Bone’s quarters, all in a rich gold-brown glaze as oppose to the green of Sarek’s set.
Looking at the implements, Jim thought odd was a great descriptor. The shallow cup was in the center, a little flat, square plate holding a mound of reddish dust was to the right of it. Just beneath the plate was a paddle-looking thing, wider on one end than the other. To the left was a tall, slender pitcher, Jim guessed, steam rising fast out of the open top and it had no handle. Even though some of the ceremonial utensils were missing, he recognized the set-up quick enough and could have kicked himself for not making the connection before. “Tea?”
Spock gave Jim the little tilt of his lips that passed for a smile and gestured from the far side of the table in a clear indication that he should kneel also. It wasn’t until Jim did that Spock confirmed the question. “Yes, my Jim, tea. It was one of the few rituals that Surak suggested we keep after the Awakening.”
“I can see why. A calm and polite way of dealing with people. Must’ve appealed to a Vulcan with so much logic.” He grinned at his t’hy’la. “Which is also why I can guess that you like it.”
“True, however the practice was not started by a logical Vulcan.” Inordinately pleased by the curious look on his bondmate’s expressive face, Spock continued his ‘lesson’. “The tea ritual originated approximately three thousand years ago with Clan Leader S’taths, who was experiencing difficulty within his Clan, stemming from a perceived show of favoritism that he expressed for his bondmate. It would be accurate to surmise the favoritism shown was not simply a figment of the Clan members’ imagination.”
“No, I suppose it wasn’t.” Although, privately, Jim knew there was no ‘suppose’ about it. He himself couldn’t begin to count the times that he’d leaned on Spock’s opinion in any situation, even above others’ who were more knowledgeable at the time. He was also willing to bet that Bones did the same with Sarek. “But still, I thought Vulcans were always inclined to listen to their bondmates. Isn’t that the way Vulcans are hardwired?”
Spock paused for a moment to give the question his serious consideration, because Jim brought up a valid point. “Such an assumption could be argued to be the case, however I have proven, to myself at least, that my bondmate is not always of sound judgment when those he cares for are in danger and have found it prudent to not seek his thoughts in those situations before acting. As such, no, I personally do not require my illogical mate‘s ideas at all times.”
“Hey!” Jim’s indignation was fake because they both knew that he had a tendency to act rashly, especially where his First Officer was concerned, but, like every other time this disagreement came up, Jim couldn’t let Spock’s comment slide without a token protest. “That ‘not always sound judgment’ has pulled your ass out of the fire a few times! And why are we even talking about it? You’re teaching me about tea here, so get to it.”
He let the issue go for the time being with a bland but disapproving look at Jim, same as he always did. “You are correct t’hy’la but we will return to the subject of your recklessness later.” The bright smile he received and the cheeky dismissal that pulsed through their bond almost made Spock roll his eyes, but he refrained, if only by sheer willpower. “Now, S’taths found himself with a dilemma. Though stern, he was a just and fair Leader, who did not want his Clan to continue assuming that their voices were not as equally heard and considered by him as he heard and considered his bondmate’s. But to lessen his mate in any way was anathema.
“Even Valak, S’taths’ bondmate, could not find a solution once he was informed of the problem and, in fact, voluntarily stopped attending Clan meetings to avoid the appearance impropriety. He was kept informed of the meetings through S’taths as well as other kinsmen, but the strain of separation for hours at a time, nearly every day, began to manifest after a week.”
Jim smiled at Spock’s obvious enthusiasm for the tale. “So, what happened?”
“Months passed, with no resolution to their situation. Seemingly every plan was flawed by virtue of S’taths’ and Valak’s obvious devotion to each other. The only possible paths became Valak’s absence or total silence, neither of which were acceptable. Matters would have continued as they were except that S’taths had an epiphany while observing his bondmate drinking his morning tea.”
The burst of Jim’s bright laughter lifted Spock’s heart. “This is going to unbelievably romantic.” When his mate’s stern eyebrow lifted, Jim defended his statement. “I’ve seen how sweet a logical Vulcan actually is, despite your reputation. I can only imagine how much more an illogical one can be.”
Spock schooled his features into a bland sternness that really hid nothing of his happiness seeping through their bond. “Vulcans are not romantic. We simply know how to properly treat a mate.”
“I can’t argue with how you treat me. Still romantic though.”
“If I may continue?” Once Jim motioned for him to keep talking, still trying to stifle his grin, Spock picked up his tale. “Valak’s appreciation for tea was well known. In fact, he always indulged in a serving of it before every meeting. If he could not show Valak the affection and love he so obviously felt for his bondmate during Clan meetings without seeming bias, perhaps it was possible that S’taths could give an overt display of his love before the meeting as compensation for having to temper his emotions during the gatherings, he reasoned. What better way than with the very tea Valak so enjoyed?
“However, devising such a ritual, required to be simple enough to perform at any time and meaningful enough to convey S’taths emotions to his bondmate, was challenging but ultimately successful. This is what he created.”
As Spock picked up the flat paddle Jim scooted forward on his knees a little, just enough so that he was able to clearly see every action Spock made. “Because ralik-khaf is highly water soluble, one does not need a great deal of preparation to drink it. First is the finely ground plant material.” Jim attentively watched Spock dip the flat utensil sideways into the tea powder at an angle and give an almost nonexistent flick of his wrist to topple the red dust onto the thing, treating it like a scoop or spoon, then dump the powder into the cup three times. A quick and gentle tap on the edge of the cup dislodged the excess ground tea and then Spock set it back on the table, in just about the same position he’d got it from.
He picked up the pitcher next and poured a short measure of very hot water into the cup. True to Spock’s word the tea was already dissolving, turning the water into a vivid red and filling the air with the musky, sweet scent that he recalled well. His mate picked up the flat scoop-thing anyway and stirred the dissolved stuff three times, clockwise and counter-clockwise and clockwise again. Jim, charmed as he was by the simplicity of process, had to find out what the little stir-stick was called. “Okay, what’s that mixer-stick-thingy called?”
“Rishek.” Without looking up, Spock tapped it against the rim of the cup again before setting it down. “As you named it, a mixer, nothing more.” Settling back on his knees slightly and looking into his t‘hy‘la‘s expressive face again, he decided to give Jim further details to the short ritual to give the tea time to cool down enough for Jim to drink comfortably. “The ralik-khaf stands as a representation of Vulcan, of which we were born, and the desert, which makes us as we are. The water to show the scarce and priceless treasure that is our love in such an inhospitable universe. The rishek is the bond that creates One from two separate beings and the cup holds the tea in the same manner our souls cradle each other.”
Jim flashed a warm and loving smile that, had Spock been inclined to fancy descriptions, melted his heart. “So, who drinks first? Or is that also part of the ritual?”
In response, Spock gently lifted the cup took a first tiny sip, a customary action that had stemmed from a bondmate’s need to check for poison before allowing a mate to drink. He wasn’t going to pass that tidbit along though.
After his sip, Spock offered the cup to Jim with both hands and the traditional benediction rolling as easily off his tongue in Standard as it did in Vulcan into the suddenly heavy air. “A pale reflection of the joy and life you have given me, my own.”
“Shaya tonat, t’hy’la.” It wasn’t the proper response to Spock’s words, but as Jim carefully took the cup from Spock’s hands his eyes and their bond glittered with the heartfelt understanding and conviction of what the words were, even if Jim didn’t know them. It was something that he would learn, Spock would make certain. Jim then took a long drink from the tea before passing it back in the same reverent manner that it was given. It tasted exactly like it smelled. Both continued passing the cup until the contents were gone in a happy silence.
Finally, Jim chuckled as Spock took the very last bit of the shared drink. “I’m kind of curious to know why it is that you always show me Vulcan things that come from ancient, gay bondmates.”
A faint green blush stained the tips of Spock’s ears. “Since my mate is a man, I assumed that the tales and rites of my Vulcan heritage would resonate deeper within you if you could place yourself in the ancients’ mindsets. If that assumption was in error - “
“No!” Jim cringed at the loudness of his denial. “No, there was no error and I didn’t mean that I thought it was a bad thing.” Reaching across the table, Jim ran the very tips of his fingers along Spock’s cheek. “It was only a question and not a criticism. I am always honored to learn about your world Spock.”
“It is well.” Capturing Jim’s hand in both of his, Spock press the palm against his face before releasing it with a kiss. “I will admit however, I possess a particular affinity for the tales of sa-ka-ashausu bondmates.”
“Maybe subconsciously you knew that you were going to end up with a male bondmate when you grew up and paid closer attention to them.”
It was another idea that might have had some validation, but Spock wasn’t going to dwell on it. His mate was everything he had ever dreamed of and that he was male didn’t affect the make-up of Jim’s heart and soul. Not that he wouldn’t admit to certain advantages to having a man as a bondmate.
“Possibly. For instance, it was a sa-ka-ashausu pair that brought prominence to the practice of publicly claiming mates.”
“Is that so?” Jim flashed a suddenly teasing smile and not only saw but felt the desire rise in Spock’s eyes and tumble through their bond in a rush. “Wonder how that happened.”
“Shall I tell you?” Getting to his feet in one graceful move, the Vulcan stalked his lover, who was slowly backing up towards the tiny couch in the room, an amused glint in his bright eyes. “Paint the scene in your mind of a warrior heir coming home to his healer mate after a decisive victory, blood pumping fast through his veins and needing his mate to sate his aggressive state in the most carnal ways?”
Now that had Jim going from amused to hot in nothing flat. He fanned the flames of his lover’s Vulcan blood higher and started wriggling quickly out of his uniform. “And just what did this warrior do?”
“He followed the siren call of his bondmate’s mind and found him awaiting an audience with the heir’s father. The healer was joyous of his mate’s return but did not suspect what came next.”
Back bumping into the couch, Jim scrambled onto it, scarcely taking his eyes away from Spock. Already half hard, Jim’s simmering arousal boiled over and he hardened up completely as he looked on in awe at his mate. With a feral look, Spock carelessly pulled the magnetic snap on his robe open, just letting it slide off his shoulders to pool on the floor, revealing his handsome form and the proudly heavy shaft that was in the same state as Jim’s own.
“In front of all assembled, even the Clan Leader that was his father, the warrior pulled his mate to the floor of the large chamber and divested him.” Suddenly, Spock reached out and grabbed Jim, manhandling him onto his hands and knees on the firm cushions. “He moved his mate thus and opened him quickly as the Clan looked on, not sure if they should interfere. The healer did not notice them at all, so focused as he was on the pleasure his warrior gave him.”
Jim gasped when Spock simply spread him wide and started easing feverish fingers into him. Normally, the Vulcan took his time and would never be less than absolutely careful with preparation, but Jim was loving the incessant stuffing of the fingers into his hole and the tiny burn that went with it. Spock didn’t give him any time to start relishing the feeling of the stretch before he was replacing his fingers with his erection. There was a tiny bite of pain before he opened and relaxed completely around Spock’s shaft.
The first thrust stole his breath.
“The warrior ravaged his mate before all, with no regard for those around them. All he needed was in his arms, writhing in ecstasy.” Spock growl as he kept his pace, plundering the soft, moaning Human in his grasp. “Imagine it t’hy’la. Taking you to the halls of my Clan and sating you before all, in the most primal way for two beings to come together. Make you mine on the altar of the ancient Gods of my home…”