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Title: Abmarkan’es – III
Fandom: ST TOS
Characters: Starek, Selov, Tunor, Spock
Warnings: Fascinating uses for breakfast. Hand!porn.
Notes: Selov interrupts with an important call. Starek licks his fingers a great deal.
Spock is wide-eyed at the suggestion. He is about to respond, but a rapid series of taps at the door forestall this.
It is Selov. "Kind of you to offer. But before that, you might wish to hear the news I bear." He flounces down onto the bed with them, eyes bright. "One of T’Nis’s students is interested in helping us."
Cocking an eyebrow in amusement, Starek offers Selov a grape, tucked between his first two fingers. It is, of course, idle flirtation, for he would be a twice-damned if he couldn’t keep up with a Vulcan twice his age.
"You will understand, of course, when I say that I am a man of little trust, and right now your daughter’s disciples are not terribly high on my list."
Selov takes the grape and passes it, with a sly look, to Spock. "I had anticipated that. Let us hear what she has to say and then you can decide."
He flips on the holoscreen and the image crystallizes into Amber, looking small in an oversized T-shirt and cardigan.
"Thank you for holding, Amber. I have both of them here now."
Her first words are rueful. "Spock, Starek . . . . God, I’m so unbelievably sorry."
Starek’s chin lifts, and his shoulders square. Even lying on his side, half-dressed, he cuts an imposing figure.
"Your contrition is irrelevant." His hand closes possessively around Spock’s wrist. "Say what you have called to say, and we will consider it."
She is resolute. "Okay. My point is that I fucked up. Insanely. And it took this seven-ring media circus to show me, which is shitty, because I should’ve just known.
Amber pauses. Swallows. "You have every right to jail me or fry me or make me into cat food. But I want to help you."
"My own line of work disinclines me to take revenge, at this time, in these circumstances. That is by no means a guarantee in any other circumstances." Starek’s words are measured and crisp. "How exactly do you intend to ‘help‘ us?"
Politics, he reminds himself, is that game in which phasering your opponents under the negotiating table is frowned upon. Of course, at the moment, he has no opponents — directly. He is, however, caught in the middle of a shitstorm spanning two empires that revolves around the man who, love aside, has the routing codes to hail and track his ship.
"I have the tapes, audio and everything. If you want, I can release the parts that show Spock didn’t know you were Romulan, or that once you melded, it was okay between you. That was beautiful, by the way," she throws up a hand and then rubs her eye with it, looking away from the camera. "Not like you care what I think but, I’m just saying."
"You will give me the data from that night. Every frame in which I appear. And then, you will destroy the local copies." Starek knows the logs must be destroyed, before a cleaner image of his face becomes public.
"You must understand," he addresses Amber, again, "my stake in this has always been business. If more data is to be released, I will decide what it is, for my own sake."
He rubs his thumb across the back of Spock’s knuckles, hoping to convey that he can only tell part of the truth, or he risks putting them both in more danger.
"On behalf of my katravahsu, I must ask if the mind meld footage has been released in any way." If that had gotten out, Spock was probably no longer safe from further and more in-depth inquiries into Starek’s history and whereabouts. This had the potential to get bigger and nastier, by quite a bit.
She shakes her head emphatically. "No, all that got released was what was on the news. I’m going to open the systems. You can download everything and wipe it yourself. Nobody’s here but me, anyway. T’Nis is gone to this spa kind of thing. Then she’s getting on board the liner you booked her on, Mr. Selov. Normally I would’ve gone except we had a fight. More than one, actually, and —"
She breaks off, rubbing at her nose. "Never mind."
"Starek. Spock. I don’t know if you’ll ever believe me but I really am sorry."
Starek squirms, reaching into his pants pocket, and comes out with his communicator. "Starek to bridge. Throw sa-kai out of bed for me. I’m going to need him to do something fast and sneaky momentarily."
"Yes, Riov," the female voice crackles back.
"We can take care of this problem. Thank you for allowing us to do so." Starek’s face softens, but only slightly. "You were very close to her, weren’t you? I believe I said it when you were not in the room, but I will say it again, for you to hear. You are too involved in what others wish of you, and not nearly involved enough in yourself. It’ll kill you, if you don’t get that under control."
Amber huffs out her breath all at once. Her voice is shaky. "Yeah. I’ll, uh, think about that."
She scratches the back of her head and then both hands are typing. "Here. You should have access now."
"Sa-kai, I need you to do a pillage and burn for me," Starek says to the communicator, rattling out a list of numbers, times, and routing codes. "And, yes, you can watch the footage, if you must."
"I’d rather not, if it’s all the same, saj’dinam. Your pet Orion is giving me looks, though."
"If she’s threatening you, you can let her at it. She was in the transporter room. She’s already seen his bare ass and mine." Starek sighs. D’nila might finally stop asking for details. Maybe. Or, this would just make her entirely incorrigible. "Time?"
"It’s slow, from this far out, with our equipment. Can we have two hours?"
Starek looks up at the screen. "Two hours."
Amber shrugs, looking tired. "Take however long. Like I said, it’s just me here now. Anything else you need, before I head back to the city?"
"I ask nothing more of you." Starek glances away from the screen. "Spock? Any other concerns?"
Spock shakes his head. "Be well, Amber."
Selov looks at both of them and then returns to the holo. "Thank you, pi’haurok. You may communicate further with Tunor or I, should you have the need."
"I don’t think I will, but thanks." She makes the ta’al, but without looking at any of them, before vanishing.
"She will not live long, as she is. I almost pity her." Starek shakes his head, reaching out to set the communicator on the nightstand. He is still and contemplative for a long moment, oddly serious, before reaching into his pocket, again, and drawing out a small, jewelled box which he hands to Selov, with a smirk.
"My thanks. I do not think I will be needing it, this evening, but I am more than certain you and yours will be able to find a use for it." He pauses for emphasis, slyly raising an eyebrow. "Unless, of course, you’ve found better things to do with your time."
The container — a replica of an old snuffbox — is filled with two ounces of powdered cocoa.
"One never knows one when will need to be… less than perfectly engaged with the consensual reality of a situation. Many things are more entertaining once you get the brackets off."
Selov palms the little box, checks its contents, and sequesters it in a pocket of his outermost robe. "Such a fine gift for so trivial a favor. One must wonder what your reaction will be once you get a look at Tunor’s manifest of ship’s parts."
"You mistake me, on the subject of the gift. It is for the favour you do not know you have done me." Starek shakes his head — Merendith had been unable to get him to lay off the chocolate, all week. "Or, perhaps you do — you are rather observant."
The older Vulcan turns to Spock. "As we are on the subject of interesting reactions, I also have news from the homeworld. A number of my contacts in K’lan-ne — Starek, I am not sure whether you are familiar with this city of misfits, but it contains a fair number of bonded pairs who have taken less drastic steps than Tunor and I. Regardless, they have access to news sources which we do not and they are able to report more accurately on the, dare I say mood of the populace in the less isolated cities of T’Khasi. Apparently, opinion on the matter involving yourselves has fragmented several times.
Those who see Starek’s heritage as the greatest problem are now in the minority. Last night, a special episode of Current Sociological Trends showed that a great many Vulcans cannot tell the difference between the races, even," and he waggles an eyebrow, "when unclothed. I do wonder what prompted that little part of the experiment."
He spears a vegetable stick and takes a bite before continuing. "Also, the debate about Vulcans who choose to live as their nature demands has taken center stage. A vocal minority is even calling for the repatriation of Tunor and myself."
The lean, refined Vulcan snorts. "Of course, that would mean the High Council would have to admit they were wrong to begin with."
Starek leans back. "As to those of your people who are unable to differentiate between Thaessu and Rihannsu, it should be noted that there are only two rather minor points that separate me from such as you, physically, and one of them is strictly an affectation. My skin is of a shade that grows less obvious, with solar exposure — not that it’s as obvious as that of those who have … less pure heritage, than I — and my body is hairless from the eyebrows down, when I choose to engage in traditional bathing practices. Lagga oil and a straight razor don’t leave much behind." He reaches out and taps Spock’s nose. "I must say, I find this particular specimen startlingly fluffy for a race that arose on a desert world. Physiologically illogical."
"Although, I am curious as to the other Romulans who could be found to bare all for these experiments. Are there, truly, so many defectors? And more than that, are there so many defectors with as little modesty as I?" He rolled his eyes. "Unless, of course, these trends stem merely from images of myself, taken in dim light, in which case, yes, I am indistinguishable from the genuine article. He’ll tell you, won’t you, taluhk-veh?"
Spock seems taken aback by the nose tap as well as the appellation. Fluffy?
Ignoring Spock’s expression and the snarling of his stomach, the commander looks momentarily contemplative. "If they’re calling for your repatriation, it won’t be long before they’re calling for mine. A pity my world is so antagonistic to the idea of peace, in general, but after the way we left …" He shrugs, and eats some more pla-savas, licking the juice from his fingertips, temptingly.
"I would answer your question about the Romulans," Selov replies, taking in Starek’s pornographic display. "Except I believe that perhaps you would rather be left to yourselves, just now."
"I have commanded my ship, in the nude. I have engaged in intercourse while negotiating for a contract — and it got me the contract, I might add. Unless you’re particularly disturbed by my demonstrations, I see no reason why you shouldn’t talk and enjoy them, simultaneously. As I was telling Spock —" Starek pops a grape into the air with his thumb and catches it in his mouth. "— I am a master of multitasking, and I am here to be enjoyed, while I strategise."
He rubs his fingertip against Spock’s nose. "Unless, of course, you’d like me to get back to my earlier suggestions on the methodology of breakfast…"
"I object to being used as a platter, yeht-veh," Spock says quietly.
Selov’s eyes widen and he nearly leaps off the bed. "Yes, well then, when you are suitably rested and," he swallows, "recovered, feel free to join us at any time."
He waggles the fingers of one hand at the pair and breezes out the door. At the bottom of the stairs, he turns pointedly in the direction of Tunor’s workroom, suffused with an urgency he has not felt in some time, perhaps even since their most recent cycle.
Back upstairs, Spock turns to Starek with a quizzical look. "You find my body hair illogical?"
"Patently illogical, in the context of insulation on a warm-blooded creature in a desert environment. On the other hand, I strongly approve of the feel of it against my skin." Starek licks his lips and smiles wickedly, before heaping berries and dip onto another piece of bread.
"And why do you object to being used as a platter?" He asks, around a mouthful. "Do you truly find the idea of my tongue chasing drops of kaasa juice across your skin so appalling? Does the idea that my breakfast might taste better with a hint of your skin behind it truly upset you?"
"It is not upsetting. It is, however, a good deal more illogical than body hair on a desert dweller," Spock lobs this back evenly and then reclines, satisfied with himself.
"Hmm. And I thought you found my illogical ideas pleasurable." Starek’s face is bland, his voice weighted and teasing. "I suppose I will have to make do with a slightly less delicious breakfast."
"Another of our misunderstandings," Spock takes a moment to stretch with his eyes closed. "Your health and well-being are important to me; therefore, logic dictates that I provide as few distractions as possible as you eat your fill."
At this point, Starek doesn’t even care. He’s starting to sober up, for the first time in a week, and his body is demanding that he put food into it at once. It isn’t that he hasn’t been eating, it’s just that he hasn’t been sleeping, either, and one can only maintain one of those two things at a time.
He picks up a thick slice of some sort of vegetable and scoops a dip he doesn’t recognise onto it. There’s a pause after he bites into it, then a nearly sexual sound of pleasure. "I don’t know what this is, but it’s fantastic."
Spock resolutely guides his mind away from where Starek’s presyllabic utterance has put it. Conversation might distract the Romulan from making any further sounds of that nature, so he tries it.
"The opinions now being heard on Vulcan regarding homosexuality," he waves a hand at the volume of history on the table, "have not been mentioned in some time. How is it on your homeworld, tal-kam?"
"On ch’Rihan? I don’t know at all what the current opinions are, and I’m not really in a position to go home and ask." He is creating a very thick sandwich, as he speaks. "In my town, in the past, it was not frowned upon. Well, not entirely — folks would give you a hard time about it, over the ale they just bought you.
"Sex is a very different thing, for a Rihanha. It is an act of relaxation and a tool for negotiation and espionage. It doesn’t really matter who you’re doing it with, as long as they’re not Thaessu, and you’re not telling them the Empire’s secrets. Love is something else, entirely. That’s what you keep for the people you trust your life to."
He holds up one finger, pausing the conversation as he demolishes part of the sandwich, swiftly.
"Ilhra hwi ih draed arham. Just in case you hadn’t noticed."
Spock smiles, slowly. "I had noticed, ashayam."
Starek is licking gobs of thick, spiced dip from where they dripped between his knuckles. "I suspect you will forgive me my manners, on the basis of my delectably obscene methods? This is, for a change, not pain au chocolat, and I think my system is quite thrilled with the idea of actual nutrients."
He looks up, catching Spock’s eye. "I’ve spent the last week extraordinarily drunk, trying to ignore reality, to the best of my ability. The triumph of a lifetime turned into a vivid nightmare, and … I am ashamed to say that, for once, I couldn’t handle it. I think I prefer the usual stabbing and shooting sorts of nightmares. They’re much easier to recover from."
The rest of the sandwich goes and Starek pauses. "I should stop eating so quickly. Perhaps it would be better if you did distract me…"
Spock removes the platter to the nightstand, hands Starek his glass of water, and then leans back into the pillows. "And how might I accomplish that?" There is an edge to his voice now, honed by need.
"However you see fit, k’diwa."
Starek tips his head far back, nearly pouring the water down his sleekly displayed throat, as he swallows reflexively, every half-second until the glass is empty. Righting himself, he holds the glass out, balanced between the very tips of his fingers, and flicks his tongue twice, drying the corners of his mouth. The entire display is an offer and the acceptance of an offer, as much as anything involving the necessity of water.
"I am here for your pleasure, after all."
"Then come here." Spock beckons with a single finger, although just the look in his eyes might have been enough. Starek, for once, follows directions. He comes to lie in the warm place made by Spock’s chest and arms, which close to enfold him completely.