A dry heat is an insidious heat. The air is light and rises up and away continuously. It's as if there's nothing there but the pleasant tingle on your skin and a stealthy warmth about your body that lulls you into a belief of security, luxuriance, contentment.

Until the compensatory physiologic mechanisms of your body are overwhelmed, and you collapse prostrate beneath your false friend the sun.

A humid heat cannot be ignored. It's viscous and heavy; it gums against your skin. It beads and tracks along every nerve even as the condensation cools you (minimally), a constant visceral warning to get your ass someplace cooler…or at least into the shade.

Pigs don't sweat; they are instinctually led to turn dry heat to damp through more creative means. Except in those cases where the constraints of artificial husbandry forces their biology amok. Ovine livestock brought to Fladre IX refused to wallow in the queer smelling alien mud and wandered complacently under the scorching twin suns for days in a row even as their body temperatures soared and their piggy brains roasted in their brainpans.

Desert natives don't fear the heat: They respect it, but they don't eschew it. What they fear is the blaze of the sun. While rain forest dwellers go near naked, refusing to grant the heat an extra edge for the sake of someone elsewhere's idea of decency, desert travelers cover head to foot in cloth, willing--albeit no doubt discomforted-- to lock in the heat of their own bodies so long as the ruthless burn of the sun's flame is deflected.

How many had died through the millennia as their people learned to walk that razor's edge just right?

This flashes across your mind as you turn to him and see the glaze over his parched eyes. His gaze darts down to the instrument panel, ostensibly to find you the answers he should already have.

You missed that look once before and swore you never would again. Fool me once: shame on you. Fool me twice: shame on me.

You have never stood to be called a fool.

But you say nothing over the next hours, as you would want him to do for you--for your weaknesses and secrets--if the situation were reversed. You turn your attention to other business and allow him to complete his tasks, then leave the bridge of his own accord. You wait an ambiguous span of time, then turn over command and follow him.

You've always been one to play a hunch without reservation, but this is more than your normal intuition: At some gut level, you know exactly where he will be.

It's not your habit to signal--your ship, your first officer. More often than not, you enter when you will. This time you ring to make it clear that he has a choice. To make it clear that he is making a choice.

Despite his fun and games with the doctor--or one could argue, as evinced by them--Spock is a coinsurer of the subtleties and nuances of human behavior. Especially the subtleties and nuisances of your behavior. He calls out immediately for you to enter. You know him too well to waste time being surprised or even proud of him.

He flicks his eyes over you, assessing you in that way he does, then levels his eyes with yours. "So," he observes, "you feel it too?"

You stop and consider. Now that he mentions it, you do.

"I had wondered," he says almost conversationally, reading your answer without any words from you. "So little is known of hybrid neurophysiology; it would make a fascinating paper."

You want to smile, but you know that he is deadly serious, and baiting him at this time just feels…wrong. If you can't understand what the big deal is about a little bury-the-lirpa, the least you can do is to understand that to him it is exactly that.

"You know," you say, moving towards the bedchamber, "I've done this probably over a thousand times in my lifetime--" You do a few quick mental calculations. "For sure over a thousand times, and yet right now I'm not sure what comes next."

"You have never done this before. This is not making love. This is--" He shakes his head.

"Maybe not to you," you say almost below the capacity of your own hearing, but well within the Vulcan range.

When Spock doesn't react, you take that as consent. With military efficiency, you strip off your clothes and fold them atop on the chair.

Spock still faces the wall.

"Spock, what are you so afraid of?" you ask. Starship captains aren't chosen for their mollycoddling inclinations, and despite your effort, that fact shows in your tone. You seat yourself on the side of the bed.

Now he whirls. "You arrogant fool!" His eyes blaze the fire of the twin Fladre suns. "I would willfully have killed you in the madness. My madness--"

You see him struggling to regain control of his non-emotions, and it strikes you how malignant that dry heat is. He's already further gone than either of you knew.

"The madness," he repeats, more modulated now, but his voice fails before he finishes…or before it breaks. "If one has mastery of oneself, there is no fear. But to have my body held helpless at the mercy of a beast with the strength and endurance of a Vulcan is a situation I would eschew with all my being."

"I know that feeling," you say with an equanimity it took you weeks to achieve. "You said that my strength was in not being afraid."

"You retained your essential self; shortly, I will not." Behind his back he clenches his hands together as if to hold on to something--himself, anything.

You bound to him, grab his shoulders, and with your thumbs dig in hard enough to hurt. Hard enough to get his attention and drive home the point that your strengths may be different than his, but it would be a critical mistake to figure them as any less.

"Then trust me." You rivet him with your eyes. "If you can't trust yourself, then trust me. I give you my word: I will get us both through this all right."

"I have very few choices," Spock says dryly.

One day you'll have to have a chat with him about the fine art of romance and what not to say to an imminent bed partner. But as your hands glide over his shoulders, his body shudders and his eyes roll back as if entering a healing trance. You intuit that that is not the case. You put a palm to his crotch; the unyielding hardness of it alarms you. You slide your palm along it, and he makes an unearthly noise.

Your Vulcan is minimal, but you need no translator for the meaning of that. Hand still against his need, you drop to your knees. The same trouser seal that holds up so well through all manner of unarmed combat can be a damned nuisance at times like this. You work with one hand and your mouth through the fabric as your other hand fumbles with the release. His pelvic movements make manipulating the pants impossible. You give up, content to work (obviously successfully) though the clothes. Your saliva saturates the cloth allowing it to cling, making your job that much easier as you go along.

You congratulate yourself that he won't--can't last long like this.

But Spock wrenches his own trousers off, and suddenly it is proud and naked before you. It springs free to slap the underside of your nose. You wrap eager lips around to gobble it even as his hands go to your head and your mind erupts in a blast of exotic alien heat.

You wonder if this is how those pigs must have felt: high and dizzy, happily comforted in all-encompassing warmth.

He manhandles your head, slamming it up against his groin. You grab air when you can in whiffs and snorts, but your vision tunnels nonetheless, and that disembodied, pre-syncopal sensation begins. Out of nowhere, you realize that you are coming, but there is no break for you. Even as the flush unfurls within and you sully yourself, he presses to lodge himself farther down your throat.

But something changes, for with a grunt he stops, withdraws his length from you and pushes you over the bed. You try to relax--not too challenging in your hypoxic, post-orgasmic euphoria--and hope that you got him wet enough.

In a moment, it's a moot point for he's inside you with a sear and is moving for all he's worth. It takes a few moments, but your body synchs to his rhythm, and in a short while it only feels good.

So very, very good!

"Harder," you insist, "harder!" not knowing if he can understand the words, but determined to destroy any residual delusion that this is all for him.

You wish you could see him. You wish you could watch his face. You want to see what it is that you do to him.

Above all, you want to watch him come.

But for three decades (and ten millennia) of dammed up sexual repression, he's taking a surprisingly long time to let loose.

His strokes are firm and focused. Each one massages your gland. It's incredible to have these sensations free and clear of any pressure to reach orgasm. It's incredible to lie here and let him take you and let your body just feel good.

His motions are changing to less precise and his breathing too. He makes guttural little sounds like the accelerating warnings squeaks of a Kerney force coupler about to blow. It turns you on, and you touch your all but flaccid self. (Hey, it's worth a try.)

As he lets fly inside you with a cry too high for human pitch, some strange sort of dry orgasm takes you. Your body spasms and buckles in a previously unknown ecstasy, and you crumple--trapped between his body, the bed and the deck.

Spock's breathing rasps heavy in your ear and he brushes fingertips to your temple. You wonder how much he can tell from such a touch. You make a note to try to remember to ask him sometime when you have nothing better to discuss.

Through some violation of the law of physics, he hauls you up and onto the bed. Soon he is lying there beside you. You roll to your side and study him--not as friend or first officer but as a lover now.

It's the same and yet all different. You hope he never challenges you to explain why. With luck he'll save that particular form of entertainment for McCoy…or maybe Chekov.

A fine sheen of sweat has collected upon his brow. In school they taught you that Vulcans don't sweat. Maybe that was meant to be figurative. Either way it thrills you to realize how much more about him there is still to know.

It's going to be one hell of a ride you're on together.

Something about an orgasm tends to make people silly; starship captains are no exception. You lean over him, driven by an irresistible urge. You have no idea what Vulcans think of this, but you that know he knows what humans do, and he owes you this at least.

Even if he didn't, he'd grant it willingly, of course.

You lean in and kiss him.

He kisses back. Wet mingles with dry to create something nameless in between.

"Well," you ask, "how are you?"

He peers inward for a moment, but to his credit, doesn't remain there. "I am well, for now, however--"

Your chuckle interrupts. "Thank God! I should hope you didn't plan to make me wait another seven years."

His face is utterly unreadable.

Orgasms make men stupid--even starship captains--you remind yourself. Perhaps it's you who needs the lesson on what not to say when around bedmates.

Well, they'd jumped the largest and most immediate hurdle. There'd be time to chart the reset later.

"I should get to the bridge," you say, swinging your legs over the side. "The call from Gyakub VI should be coming in soon."

"Twenty-six point two minutes," he offers absently.

You find his correctness endearingly absurd.

"I'll accompany you," he says pulling to a sit.

"No," you say more sharply than you had intended.

"I am well and fit for duty, Captain."

"I don't doubt that you are, but I need a little…space. We poor humans sometimes have a hard time separating love from…mating." You smile ruefully. "I envy your race that clarity. I need a little…distance to let things settle in." You pat him on the arm and stand, forcing thought of a shower then negotiations to the forefront of your mind.

"You proceed from an erroneous posit, Captain: the mating drive is irrevocably connected with a more passable personal connection. The emotion would not translate to a non-telepath, but distance is irrelevant."

For the first time in a long time he misreads your expression. Or maybe the correct emotion had yet to make its way to your face from the Protean jumble inside of you.

"Perhaps I should have told you this earlier. Before--?" His eyes give a nod to the bed, but his expression still reads bedrock sure of you.

"And change what?" you ask rhetorically. You clamp him by the arm. "I asked you to trust me. I don't take it back. Trust me; we will be all right."

You let your full meaning sink in for as long as it needs to, which isn't very long, then you squeeze his muscle once and let him go. You take a breath. "However, the military governor of Gyakub VI, him I'm not so sure about." You grab one of Spock's towels and head for the head.

"Permission to remain on duty elsewhere," Spock asks. "I am somewhat behind on numerous science details from the past few days during which I was…distracted."

"Granted." You nod to him. "I'll call you if I need you on the bridge." You feel the absurd urge to kiss him again as he undresses to clean himself, but you let it pass. Right now duty calls, but the one constant of deep space missions is that between the happy occasions when it does, there will always be those long, tedious, empty stretches of days in flight to be filled amongst one's fellow crew. You enter the shower with a smile.