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Build Me Up Buttercup

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2253.215

Jim had always sort of known that karma would catch up with him one day. After all the shit he’d pulled, he’d have been more surprised if someone up there didn’t eventually go “welp, that’s long enough” and end his streak of good luck.

He’d expected to make it a little longer than twenty, though.

He also hadn’t expected karma to catch up with him in the form of a three-week-old baby girl with pointy ears.

Jim’s mom exhaled loudly for what had to be the eighteenth time at this point. She’d been rubbing her temples, and Jim could’ve sworn that her hair was actually getting greyer by the second.

“Okay,” she started. “Okay. Jimmy.”

“Yes, Mom?”

“Tell me one more time. How, exactly, did you end up with a baby- a baby, mind you, that looks to be half-Vulcan?”

The baby stirred in Jim’s arms slightly, and he hushed her gently.

“Okay, um, well... y’know that girl I met last year? T’Vin?”

“I remember you making goo-goo eyes at her for two hours at the symposium.” His mother quirked an eyebrow. “I also remember telling you that a snowball’s got a better chance in hell than you charming the pants off a Vulcan.”

Jim grinned sheepishly.

“Yeah, uh, well... about that...”

“... James Tiberius Kirk.”

“I know, I know. It was irresponsible, but she kept talking about this- this vee-tosh kah-tor thing, and how emotions were supposed to be embraced and-!”

“Okay! Okay, I get it, you don’t need to go into more detail.”

At some point, the baby had wrapped her tiny little hand around one of Jim’s fingers, and he could hear her thoughts through the... T’Vin had called it a “parental bond,” which was weird, but he kind of liked knowing her thoughts, although they weren’t much more than “warm,” “safe,” and “love,” at this point.

He couldn’t help but smile down at her, brushing a few dark strands of hair away from her forehead.

He heard his mother sigh again.

“Oh, Jim...”

“I... I know it’s sudden, Mom, but...” He smiled again. “I don’t think I could give her up. Not now.”

After a long moment in which Jim didn’t dare to breathe, she sighed again.

“If you’re gonna keep her, then you’re gonna have to learn how to take care of a Vulcan baby.”

Jim couldn’t help but grin.

“Don’t worry, Mom, T’Vin left plenty of tips before she went off to do... uh... cole-in-ar?”

“And you’re probably gonna need to learn Vulcan, too. She’s half-Vulcan, so she should know something about her own culture.”

“Yeah, yeah, I got it.”

“And Jim?”

“What, Mom?”

His mom arched an eyebrow.

“Don’t you think there’s one more thing she needs?”

“Uh... diapers?”

“Jim. A name?”

He blinked, then laughed sheepishly.

“Sorry, Ma...”

“Don’t apologize to me, apologize to her. Were you just gonna keep calling her the baby all her life?”

“Wh- No, of course not! It just... slipped my mind.”

His mom quirked her eyebrow again, which meant that she didn’t believe him for a second, but since the baby had finally woken up all the way, Jim really didn’t have the time to care about that.

Not when his baby girl was looking at him with such curious blue eyes.

“... Alice.”

His mother seemed surprised.

“Alice?”

“Yup. I like Alice.” He leaned down, pressing a kiss to her forehead. She squealed in delight. “And I think she does too.”

His mom sighed.

“Man, you’re already wrapped around her little finger, aren’t you...”

 


 

2255

Jim sighed heavily as he sat down in the transport, rubbing his temples and wincing at the fear and panic buzzing in the back of his head.

Dada dada dada where are you where did you go come back dada miss you come back dada dada DADA

His heart ached with guilt. By far, saying goodbye to Alice had been the hardest part of this adventure so far. No matter how many times he’d assured her that he’d see her again in a few hours, or how much she loved her grandmother, the fact was that at just under two years old, she was still going through some pretty bad separation anxiety. He couldn’t really blame her- having your mom dump you with a strange man and leaving forever couldn’t be easy, especially when you haven’t quite got a handle on object permanence yet.

He really wished Starfleet would have let him take her with him on the transport. At least he’d have had something to distract him from the looks he was getting. He just knew that they’d all figured out who he was by now, and it was making his stomach churn to think about how they all probably assumed he’d be just another legacy, costing by on the memory of a father he’d never even known.

Yeah. He could really use an Alice hug right now.

“You okay?”

“Eh? Oh.” He smiled at the cadet he’d met last night- she’d told him her name was Uhura after he’d tried to get some jackass to back off. He’d ended up getting punched in the face, and she’d ended up kicking their asses, but she seemed to appreciate the sentiment. “Yeah, I’m fine, just... I, uh, I have a daughter, and she was not happy when we said goodbye. I’m gonna see her again in a few hours, but... I dunno, I just feel kinda guilty.”

Uhura blinked, clearly surprised.

“You’re a parent? You?”

“Yeah, I was as surprised as you are when I found out. But yeah, I’m a dad. Her name’s Alice.” Jim dug around in his pocket until he found the photo of her he always carried around with him, handing it to Uhura. “That’s her.”

“Oh, she’s adorable! How old is she?”

“Almost two now. Already a little chatterbox.”

Uhura cooed again, then blinked.

“Uh... her ears... is she...?”

Jim sighed.

“Yeah, she’s half-Vulcan. It’s... a long story.”

“I see...”

The obvious question went unspoken, but Jim just knew she was dying to ask. Everyone always asked, always wanted to know that one thing.

“Is she, y’know... healthy? Given her physiology?”

Jim understood the curiosity, really he did. After all, everyone knew about the story of poor Elizabeth T’Les Tucker, the first alien-Human hybrid who’d died within a month of being born. What everyone seemed to forget, though, was that Elizabeth was a binary clone rather than having been conceived the normal way, or with help, and her death was due to a flaw in the cloning process. There was nothing keeping a Human-Vulcan baby from being perfectly healthy.

Especially since, y’know, Elizabeth had lived a hundred years ago anyway, and by now there was at least one fully grown Human-Vulcan hybrid out there, though damned if Jim could remember his name. It had come up when he’d been looking into possible issues, as all worried new parents probably did, but all he could remember was that it started with “Sp” and ended with “k.”

Speck, maybe? No, what parent would be that cruel?

... He thinks, after having named his daughter Alice Georgina T’Vaakis Kirk.

“You need a doctor.”

“I told you people, I don’t need a doctor! Dammit, I am a doctor!”

Jim blinked as he lost his train of thought, glancing over at the transport’s restrooms. A flight officer was arguing with a disheveled-looking man, who was yelling about being afraid of dying in something that flies. The flight officer eventually won, and the man took the seat next to Jim just as Uhura handed Alice’s photo back, giving him a sympathetic look.

“I may throw up on you,” the man muttered by way of warning as he strapped in.

“Eh, don’t worry about it, I’m used to being thrown up on. Besides, I think these things are pretty safe.”

The man snorted.

“Don’t pander to me, kid. One tiny crack in the hull and our blood boils in thirteen seconds. A solar flare might crop up, cook us in our seats. And wait til you’re sitting pretty with a case of Andorian shingles. See if you’re still so relaxed when your eyeballs are bleeding.” He shook his head. “Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence.”

Jim glanced at Uhura, who just shrugged.

“Well, uh, I hate to break it to you, but Starfleet operates in space.”

The man sighed.

“Yeah, well, I got nowhere else to go. The ex-wife took the whole damn planet in the divorce.” He took out a flask he’d hidden somewhere in his jacket. “All I got left is my bones.”

The man took a swig from the flask, then offered it to Jim.

“Uh, no, thanks, I-!” Another wave of panic and despair rolled through his mind, making him wince. “Actually, yeah, that might help. Jim Kirk, by the way.”

“McCoy. Leonard McCoy.”

 


 

His mother and Alice were waiting when they got off the transport, and Jim knew the minute that his daughter saw him.

Partially because he could see her, and partially because he could feel her joy and hear her thoughts.

Dada dada dada you’re back you’re here dada love you dada don’t leave me again ever dada dada

“Buttercup!” He cried as he ran over to them, scooping up his daughter in his arms and pressing a dozen kisses all over her face. “Oh, I missed you so much, honey!”

“It’s been five hours,” his mother commented. “Also, what am I, chopped liver?”

Jim rolled his eyes, leaning over and pressing a kiss to his mother’s cheek.

“Thank you, Mom,” he replied dutifully.

“You’re welcome. Although, I might have to borrow her more often, y’know. Apparently I’m even scarier with an angry baby Vulcan on my hip.”

Jim bit back a laugh, then gave Alice a stern look.

“Buttercup, were you and Nana mean to any Starfleet officials?”

“Grrr,” Alice responded, giving Jim a stern look of her own before bursting into giggles. Jim laughed, pressing another kiss to her forehead.

“That’s my girl. Oh, hey!” He shifted Alice into one arm, waving to Bones and Uhura. “Guys! Over here!”

Uhura saw him first, smiling and waving back before grabbing Bones by the arm and dragging him along with her.

“Who’s that, Jimmy?”

“Well, Mom, it just so happens that they’re my new friends.”

His mother quirked an eyebrow.

“You made friends.”

“I can make friends!”

“Since when can you make friends?”

He opened his mouth to reply.

“Friends that you don’t sleep with, and that aren’t your baby daughter.”

He closed his mouth, pouting.

“You know, I think I see why most Starfleet officials are afraid of you, Ma.”

“Damn straight they are.”

Alice giggled, then turned toward the two new arrivals with a sound of curiosity.

“Buttercup, this is Cadet Uhura. Can you say hi to Uhura?”

“Hi!” She pointed at Uhura’s face. “Pretty!”

Uhura blinked in surprise before smiling beatifically.

“Well, aren’t you a little charmer? You can call me Nyota, sweetie.”

“Nyota!” Alice chirped.

“Wait, how come you told her your first name?”

“Cause she’s cute and charming.”

“I’m cute and charming!” Jim protested.

Uhura just rolled her eyes.

“Okay, well, as we’ve established, Uhura is a meanie-face-!”

“No, Dada! Pretty!”

Uhura laughed, and Jim pouted.

“You’re supposed to take my side on stuff, buttercup.”

Alice stuck her tongue out at him, then giggled. Jim rolled his eyes.

“Fine, fine. Geez, I thought your rebellious phase would come later... anyway, that’s Uhura. And this fine gentleman over here is Bones.”

“It’s Leonard,” Bones corrected insistently.

“Bones, c’mon, she’s not even two yet. You really expect her to be able to say ‘Leonard?’”

“She just said Nyota!”

“Bones!” Alice chirped. “Bones, Bones, Bones!”

Bones blinked, then pursed his lips tightly, clearly trying to suppress a grin.

Jim smirked.

“Booooones,” he drawled, holding Alice out in front of him. “C’mon, Bones, you know you can’t resist Alice’s cuteness.”

“Bones!” Alice chirped again.

Finally, Bones broke, grinning just a little.

“Alright, fine, I admit it. You’ve got a cute baby, kid.” He gave Jim a stern look. “Doesn’t mean I’m gonna let you call me Bones, though.”

“Eh, we’ll see about that.”

 


 

2258

Jim decided that he really, really didn’t like this- this Commander Spock douche.

Which was really too bad, since he was pretty sure that he was the guy that had been mentioned in the report he’d read on Human-Vulcan hybrids back when Alice was a baby.

Of course, Spock was nothing like Alice. Alice was bright, exuberant, peals of excited laughter with bouncy brown curls and curious bright eyes. Spock was... reserved. Collected. Harsh, stoic criticism with black, straight hair and dark eyes full of distaste.

The biggest difference, though, was that his four-year-old daughter knew better than to bring up Jim’s dad.

This twenty-eight-year-old Starfleet Commander apparently didn’t.

“Your father, Lieutenant George Kirk, assumed command of his vessel before being killed in action, did he not?”

Jim grit his teeth, biting back a retort that would have gotten him expelled for sure.

“I don’t think you like the fact that I beat your test.”

“Furthermore, you have failed to divine the purpose of this test,” Spock continued as if Jim had said nothing at all.

“Enlighten me again.”

“The purpose is to experience fear. Fear in the face of certain death. To accept that fear, and maintain control of oneself and one’s crew. This is a quality expected in every Starfleet captain.”

Jim glared at the commander, his anger dissipating just a little when he felt a wave of concern in the back of his head.

Daddy? Are you okay? You’re really angry.

Daddy’s fine, buttercup. Don’t worry.

“Cadet Kirk? Your response?”

Jim blinked, grinning a little sheepishly.

“A-Ah, um, sorry. I-!”

Just then, a messenger entered the room, interrupting whatever Jim would have said. Within seconds, the hearing was dismissed, with all cadets ordered to respond to some crisis on Vulcan.

“Who was that uptight bastard?” Jim muttered when Bones joined him.

“I dunno, but I like him. Woulda thought you would too, considering what he’s got in common with your kid.”

Jim rolled his eyes.

“Not all half-Vulcans are alike, Bones.” He gestured in the general direction that Spock had gone. “Quite frankly, if not for the ears and the complexion I wouldn’t have believed they were the same species.”

Before Bones could reply to that, Nyota ran up to them, clapping both of them on the shoulder and pushing them towards the door.

“Come on, you two, no time for gossip. We’re supposed to leave in the next ten minutes!”

“Alright, alright-! Wait, shit, I need to call my nanny if I’m going off-planet!”

“Call her while we’re moving, now hurry up!”

 


 

By his own count, Spock had not hugged his mother in eighteen point three nine years. He had argued that he was a Vulcan, and Vulcans do not hug, therefore there was no logical reason for his mother to embrace him anymore.

His mother had looked... deeply saddened, but conceded the argument.

He did not feel saddened by this. He was a Vulcan, and therefore he could not feel saddened by anything.

Logically, he could not feel joy, either. And yet, in this moment, with his mother’s arms wrapped tightly around his torso as they rematerialized in the transporter, he had no other explanation for what this warmth in his chest was.

His mother was shaking, whimpering. He could not properly ascertain why, until he finally realized what was missing.

He could no longer feel his father’s presence in the back of his mind. He reached, but there was no response.

Spock turned, but the place where his father should have been standing was empty.

All at once, an overwhelming wave of emotion overtook him. The bonds in his mind were screaming, crying out so loudly even from so far away.

Anguish. Guilt. Regret. Relief. Triumph.

Sybok.

Pain. Pain. Pain. Realization. Anguish. Despair.

Michael.

Heartbreak. Anguish. Fear. Relief. Guilt. Anger.

His mother.

“Spock,” she whispered. “Spock, look at me, please.”

Spock found that he could not comply with that request. The crew members present in the transporter room were all staring at him. Ensign Chekov looked as though he was taking personal responsibility for this. Lieutenant Sulu’s eyes were full of something that Spock realized must be sympathy.

Cadet Kirk-

He did not have time to measure the cadet’s reaction, as he suddenly lurched forward, gripping at the console in front of him.

“Kirk?” Sulu inquired, putting a hand on his shoulder.

“S’okay, s’okay, y-you’re okay, buttercup, please, you’re okay-!”

It was at this point that Kirk collapsed. Spock quietly ordered that he be taken to sickbay with the rest of the- the survivors.

“Spock, please-!” His mother started as he headed toward the turbolift. He held up a hand to stop her.

“Mother, I realize that you are concerned. However, I am fine.”

“Fine has variable definitions. Fine is unacceptable.”

He turned toward her, arching an eyebrow.

“A logical statement.”

“You stated that. When you were eight.”

“It remains true. However, in this instance I am... stable.” He stepped into the turbolift. “Please report to sickbay. I must procure a change of uniform before assuming my duties as the acting captain.”

The doors of the turbolift closed before his mother could respond to that.

 


 

Jim was still flat on his ass long after the creepy giant insect... thing had run off. He was panting hard, trying his hardest to catch his breath.

Alice had gone quiet at some point, though Jim could still feel her in the back of his mind. His heart ached with the memory of her anguish and confusion; as smart as Alice was, she was still only four, far too young to understand the pain of losing a home she’d never known.

He needed to get home. He needed to see her, to hold her tight, he needed to get out of this cave and back onto the Enterprise and probably punch Spock in the face a couple of times, he needed to-!

There was a man holding a torch in front of him.

Alright. Right now he needed to figure out who the hell was in the cave with him and if they wanted to kill him or not.

Just then, the man turned, revealing himself to be an old Vulcan.

A strangely familiar old Vulcan, whose eyes had widened like saucers when he saw Jim. He saw warmth, relief, surprise, and something strangely tender in those brown eyes, and he wasn’t sure if that creeped him out or comforted him.

“James T. Kirk.”

Jim blinked.

“Um. Ex... Excuse me?”

“How did you find me?”

Jim frowned, slowly getting to his feet.

“H-How do you know my name?”

The old Vulcan’s eyes crinkled, and somehow Jim knew that he’d be smiling if he were human.

“I have been, and always shall be, your friend.”

Jim blinked again, then chuckled awkwardly, taking a step back.

“Um... n-nice to meet you too, I guess? Cause I really, really don’t think I know you.”

“I am Spock.”

Jim blinked, then looked the old Vulcan over.

“Bullshit.” The word was out of his mouth before he could stop it.

The old Vulcan- who was not Spock- hummed, his eyes crinkling again as he turned away, gesturing for Jim to follow.

Jim wasn’t entirely sure why he followed, but hey, it was either follow not-Spock or try to brave the frozen wilderness outside.

“It is remarkably pleasing to see you again, old friend,” Not-Spock told him after he brought him to a little alcove and made a little campfire. “Especially after the events of today.”

Jim really wanted to scoot away from him, but the fire was warm and he was finally starting to be able to feel his fingers and toes again.

“Sir, I... I really appreciate what you did for me today, really I do, but uh, if you were Spock, then you’d know that we’re not friends. At all. You hate me. You marooned me here for mutiny.”

Not-Spock’s eyebrow arched in a strikingly Spock-esque fashion.

“Mutiny?”

“Yes.”

“You... are not the captain?”

Jim blinked, then sighed.

“No, uh, you’re the captain. Pike was taken hostage.”

“By Nero.”

Jim paused, fixing his gaze on not-Spock.

“... What do you know about him?”

“He is a particularly troubled Romulan.” Not-Spock got up and walked over to Jim. “Please, allow me. It will be easier.”

The old Vulcan started to reach for Jim’s face, and he lurched back.

“Uh... what are you doing?”

“Our minds, one and together.”

Jim was a bit too distracted by how that was almost exactly how T’Vin had described his bond with Alice to stop not-Spock from touching his face.

“One hundred and twenty-nine years from now, a star will explode and threaten to destroy the galaxy.”

Suddenly, Jim’s mind was filled with images, not-Spock- no, definitely Spock’s voice telling him about the destruction of future Romulus at the hands of a supernova, how he’d stopped said supernova thanks to something called red matter, but created a black hole that led both him and Nero back in time, where Nero swore revenge. He saw the destruction of the Kelvin, this old Spock being captured and marooned on Delta Vega, where he saw Vulcan be destroyed again.

But there was something else. Other memories leaked into his head, and Jim saw- he saw his own face, a little older, with brown eyes instead of blue. Laughing, smiling, arguing, fighting, crying, but more than anything else- loving.

It was another life. Another life, full of joy and adventure and... and happiness.

Happiness with Spock, of all people.

Suddenly, the visions ended; Jim gasped as he came back to himself, his head throbbing a little. His eyes were wet, and he sniffed, wiping at them as surreptitiously as he could.

“Forgive me. Emotional transference is an effect of the mind-meld.” Spock was looking at him with a fair amount of shock, which Jim was pretty sure wasn’t from him. “You are... forgive me, but when I looked into your mind, I sensed the presence of a telepathic bond.”

Jim blinked.

“Of- of course there’s one. It’s Alice.”

Spock blinked, looking surprised even by Human standards.

“Alice?”

“Yeah, Alice. My daughter?” Jim quirked an eyebrow, then dug the slightly-wrinkled picture of Alice out of his pocket to show him. “If we were as close as you claim, I’d think you’d recognize her.”

Spock’s brow furrowed.

“... Jim. I must confess that... I have never seen this child before in my life.”

Jim blinked, his mouth falling open.

“You... you what?”

“It seems that it is not our only friendship that has been altered.”

“Altered? You mean... going back in time, you changed all our lives.”

It was a little harder to breathe, suddenly. He was vaguely aware that Spock was speaking, but the words seemed far away and muddled, warped as if he were underwater.

She hadn’t existed. Before, back where- when this Spock came from, his Jim had never had Alice. He’d never gotten to see her smile, or tell- well, try to tell- a joke, or laugh, or woken up with her hair in his face and her clinging to him like an octopus, but not even caring because he loved her so much.

But... if this Spock came from another timeline, then maybe...

“Wait. Where you come from, did... did I know my father?”

Spock paused for a moment, something like sympathy flashing in his eyes.

“Yes. You often spoke of him as being your inspiration for joining Starfleet. He proudly lived to see you become captain of the Enterprise.”

“Captain?” He kind of liked the sound of that. Captain James T. Kirk...

But.

“But I didn’t have Alice, did I?”

Spock shook his head.

“You did not.”

“You’re sure? There’s no way he could have... that I could have kept her from you?”

Pain, sadness, and a little bit of anger flashed in the old Vulcan’s eyes.

“Jim. If you had been at all aware of her existence, there is no way I would not have known.”

Great. So either Alice didn’t exist, or he never knew her.

Yeah. Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise wasn’t worth that cost.

With a small sigh, Jim started to follow Spock again, wishing more than anything that he could just go home and see his daughter, because an Alice hug sounded really good right about now.

 


 

“You wanted to see me?”

Spock turned, then rose out of his chair.

“Yes, Doctor. I am aware that James Kirk is a friend of yours,” Spock said as he and McCoy walked to a more private part of the bridge, “and I recognize that supporting me as you did must have been difficult.”

McCoy scoffed.

“Is that a thank you?”

“I am simply acknowledging your difficulties.”

McCoy gave him a hard look.

“Permission to speak freely, sir.”

“I welcome it,” Spock replied as they came to a stop.

“Do you? Okay, then.” McCoy glared at him as he leaned in slightly. “Are you out of your Vulcan mind?”

Spock blinked.

“Pardon?”

“Are you making a logical choice sending Kirk away? Probably. But the right one? You know, back home, we got a saying. ‘If you’re gonna ride in the Kentucky Derby, you don’t leave your prize stallion in the stable.’”

“A curious metaphor, Doctor, as a stallion must first be broken before it can reach its potential.”

McCoy looked rather disgusted.

“My god, man, you could at least act like it was a hard decision!”

“I intend to reestablish communication with Starfleet. However, if crew morale is better served by my roaming the halls weeping, I will gladly defer to your medical expertise.”

McCoy snorted.

“Should’ve guessed you’d be fine. You’re not the one who has to tell a four-year-old girl her daddy’s been marooned on a frozen wasteland when we get back.”

Both of Spock’s eyebrows rose, but before he could inquire as to what McCoy meant by that statement, the doctor stormed off muttering something about a “hobgoblin.”

How strange. Spock had read Kirk’s file thoroughly in preparation for the academic hearing, and yet there was no mention of him having a child.

He did not have much time to ponder this further, as his mother arrived on the bridge soon after McCoy’s departure, and she resumed trying to speak with him about his father’s death.

She was still under the mistaken impression that he needed to talk about it, it seemed.

Spock, of course, had no time for such illogical behavior. He had a ship to run.

And there was nothing his mother nor the mystery of Kirk’s alleged offspring could do to dissuade him from that mission.

 


 

A shiver that had nothing to do with the cold ran up Jim’s spine as they entered the outpost.

“Okay, spooky green lighting, that’s cool. Nothing ominous about that, not at all.”

Someone yelled in a language Jim didn’t quite understand at the other end of the hall. He looked at Spock, who simply arched an eyebrow and gestured at the hall. He sighed, then took a deep breath.

“Hello!”

Metal clanking, followed by something appearing in the doorway at the other end and running to them.

Something green and scaly that was about a head taller than Alice, as it turned out. The creature stared at them when it arrived, pulling off its goggles to reveal its beady little eyes. It said nothing, turning and motioning for them to follow it back down the hallway.

“Okay. Now there’s a weird tiny creature leading us somewhere. Totally doesn’t feel like a horror movie at all.”

Spock’s eyes crinkled again, amusement flashing in his eyes.

“You seem to have a habit of narrating things.”

Jim flushed, wrapping his arms around himself.

“Well, y’know, Alice was a baby once, and, and you’re s’posed to narrate stuff to them when they’re little...”

“I did not say that I found it displeasing, Jim. I simply meant that it was not a habit you ever exhibited before.”

Jim blinked, but before he could respond, the creature turned into a room- actually, it was more like a poorly maintained lab. It walked up to a desk, where a man was asleep in a chair, and smacked his shoulder.

“What?” The man groaned as he sat up, his eyes going wide when he saw Jim and Spock. However, his expression quickly turned unamused. “You realize how unacceptable this is?”

Spock arched an eyebrow, seeming almost happy for some reason.

“Fascinating.”

“What?”

“Okay, I’m sure you’re just doin’ yer job, but could you not have come a wee bit sooner? Six months I’ve been here, living off Starfleet protein nibs and the promise of a good meal! And I know exactly what’s goin’ on here, okay? Punishment, isn’t it? Ongoing. For somethin’ that was clearly an accident-!”

“You are Montgomery Scott,” Spock interrupted, sounding inordinately pleased.

“Wh- You know him?”

“Aye, that’s me. You’re in the right place. Unless there’s another hard working, equally starved Starfleet officer around.”

Jim tried not to flinch at the word “starved,” pushing down memories of that horrible, horrible year. Thankfully, Spock didn’t seem to notice, and Scott and the creature had started to argue.

“But you’re here now, so... thank you. Where is it?”

“You are, in fact, the Mr. Scott who postulated the theory of transwarp beaming.”

Scott scoffed.

“That’s what I’m talking about. How d’ya think I wound up here? I had a little debate with my instructor on the issue of relativistic physics and how it pertains to subspace travel. He seemed to think that the range of transporting somethin’ like a grapefruit was limited to about a hundred miles. I told him that I could not only beam a grapefruit from one planet to the adjacent planet in the same system, which is easy, by the way, I could do it with a lifeform.” Scott leaned back in his chair. “So I tested it on Admiral Archer’s prize beagle.”

Jim blinked. Spock arched an eyebrow.

“I know that dog. What happened to it?”

“I’ll let ya know when it reappears. I do feel guilty about that.”

Right. So this man was never getting anywhere near Alice. Or possibly any small creature.

“What if told you that your transwarp theory was correct, that it is indeed possible to beam onto a ship that is travelling at warp speed?”

“I think if that equation had been discovered, I’d have heard about it.”

Spock, to Jim’s surprise, actually smirked, leaning in conspiratorially.

“The reason that you haven’t heard of it, Mr. Scott, is because you haven’t discovered it yet.”

Scott blinked, then started to stutter, clearly trying to wrap his head around what Spock had just said.

“Are you from the future?” He finally managed, getting up out of his chair.

“Yeah, he is. I’m not.

“Well, that’s brilliant. Do they still have sandwiches there?”

Things were a little hectic after that. Scott- or Scotty, as he insisted upon being called, never seemed to stop talking now that he had someone other than Keenser to talk to. Jim hadn’t heard so much engineering talk since... well, since the last time he had dinner with his mother, but still.

“You’re coming with us, right?” Jim asked Spock after the latter finally managed to shut Scotty up with the reveal of the all-important transwarp equation.

Spock’s eyes softened, and he looked almost sad.

“No, Jim. That is not my destiny.”

Jim gave him a look.

“I know that Vulcans have a lower average body temperature than humans, Spock. I really don’t think your destiny is to freeze to death on this frozen rock. He... the other Spock, he’s never gonna believe me. Only you can explain what the hell’s happened-!”

“Under no circumstances can he be made aware of my existence!” Spock stated sternly. “You must promise me this.”

“You’re telling me that I, that I can’t tell you that I’m following your own orders?!” He paused. “Well... actually, when I say it out loud, I guess I would kinda look like a nut. But still! Why not? What happens?”

Spock sighed.

“Jim, this is one rule that you cannot break. To stop Nero, you alone must take command of your ship.”

“How? Over your dead body?”

Amusement twinkled in Spock’s eyes.

“Preferably not. I doubt your Alice would be pleased if her father ended up imprisoned for that. However, there is Starfleet regulation 619.”

“Any command officer who is emotionally compromised by the mission at hand must resign said command... okay, yeah, but see, you’re still, y’know, all... Vulcan-y.”

“Jim. Surely by now you must know that Vulcans have emotions. Even I am capable of becoming emotionally compromised, as is my younger self. I just lost my planet. I can tell you that I am emotionally compromised. What you must do is get me to show it.”

Right. Get an emotionally constipated half-Vulcan that hated his guts to show emotion.

No biggie.

Maybe he should just quit Starfleet and start a farm in Iowa. Alice liked cows and pigs and chickens, she’d be delighted.

Couldn’t be any harder than the task at hand, right?

Jim leaned out of the little cell thingy.

“Y’know, coming back in time, changing history? That’s cheating.”

Spock’s eyes softened again, his gaze tender and melancholic.

“A trick I learned from an old friend.” He turned, pushing some buttons, then turned back around, holding up his right hand and spreading his fingers in a V shape. “Live long and prosper.”

 


 

He couldn’t think.

No, that was inaccurate. He could think.

Just not logically.

This man, this- this presumptous fool had taken that from him.

“How does it feel, huh? How does it feel now that you’ve lost your father too? Do you even care? Does it even compute for you? You lectured me on sacrifice, but now that you’ve lost your own father, you can’t even stop to grieve. You never loved him-!”

He punched him. It felt... cathartic.

The next few moments were a blur of motion, ending with Spock’s hand on Kirk’s neck. His thoughts were racing, and as Spock’s grip tightened, they turned into one line of thought.

Alice buttercup I’m sorry I’m so sorry I didn’t mean it I’m sorry Alice Alice Alice

“Spock!”

Please don’t kill me please please I’m sorry I didn’t want to please I need to get home I need to see her please

“SPOCK!”

Spock came back to himself all at once, quickly releasing his grip on Kirk’s throat. The other man gasped, barely conscious as he slumped against the station and coughed.

His mother looked horrified at his actions. Guilt swept through him, and he kept his head down as he approached McCoy.

“... Doctor. I am no longer fit for duty. I... I hereby relinquish my command based on the fact that I have been emotionally compromised. Please note the time and date in the ship’s log.”

He all but ran off the bridge after that, his mother chasing after him.

“Spock... Spock!”

He kept walking, trying to up his speed. His mother was only human, after all, and at her age she couldn’t reasonably-!

“S’chn T’gai Spock, you stop this instant!”

He stopped. She was more than a bit out of breath when she caught up to him, but had enough strength to force him to turn around, though not enough height to make him look her in the eyes.

“Now do you want to talk about it?”

“... That would be unwise.”

“What is necessary is never unwise.”

“... An insightful statement.”

“Again, you said that. When you were eight. Spock, please. Talk to me.”

He hesitated for a moment, then sighed.

“I am... I am as conflicted now as I once was as a child.”

His mother’s eyes softened.

“Spock... you are, and always will be, a child of two worlds.” She smiled. “And I’m so grateful for that. And for you.”

Spock swallowed, bending over slightly to allow his mother to touch his cheek, as she often did when he was still a child.

“I... I feel... anger for the one who took Father’s life. An anger I cannot control.”

She smiled again, shaking her head.

“Don’t try to. Spock, do you know why I married your father?”

“Because it was logical. You were both diplomats, and as such it was a favorable move to-!”

“Spock. It was because I loved him. And he married me because he loved me, no matter what nonsense he told you about logic.” She pulled him down, pressing a kiss to his forehead. “You feel angry? Good. Use it. Find the bastard that did this and make him pay for it.”

“Mother...”

“And if I were you, I’d get on it before Michael beats you to it.”

Spock could not help but roll his eyes.

“Mother, Michael and I have long since outgrown our childhood-!”

“Kidding, sweetheart. But seriously, get going. I think they’re gonna need your help.”

He nodded, moving back toward the bridge.

“And Spock?”

He paused, turning back toward his mother.

“Yes?”

“Try to keep an open mind about the captain, please.”

“... I will endeavor to do so.”

It would be quite the endeavor indeed.

 


 

“Daddy!”

Jim’s heart leapt at the sound of that sweet little voice, a huge grin spreading over his lips as he got off the ship. Alice was barreling towards him at top speed, and he kneeled down so that he could finally, finally get that hug he’d been waiting for all day.

“Hey, buttercup-! Oof!”

Alice knocked him right onto his back, wrapping herself around him and clinging to him like her life depended on it.

“Ow... heh, did you miss-!”

Her head popped up, a rather shocking glare on her face as she put a hand to his chin.

Angry sad worried you left you were gone and didn’t tell me where you were going and then everything hurt and then there was a light and a drill and I was scared ANGRY

Jim blinked when she pulled her hand away, guilt washing over him. He sighed, sitting up and cradling his daughter so that she was close to his chest.

“I’m sorry, Alice. I know that all of this must have been really scary for you.”

“Maia said that my mother’s planet is gone now...” She looked up at him, her eyes heartbreakingly big and dewy. “Does... does that mean that my mother is...?”

Jim smiled sadly.

“I’m sorry, buttercup. She’s gone.”

Predictably, Alice teared up at that, burying her face in Jim’s shirt. Jim hushed her gently, rubbing her back and humming a bit.

“It’s okay. It’s okay, Alice, I know. I’m here, I’m here, I’m not going anywhere...”

She hiccuped, looking up at him with big, watery eyes.

“P-Promise?”

He smiled gently, leaning down and pressing a kiss to her forehead.

“On my honor as captain of the USS Enterprise, I swear that I will never, ever leave you, Alice Georgina T’Vaakis Kirk.”

She finally smiled at him, wrapping her arms around Jim’s neck.

“... Wait a minute, Daddy. When did you become captain of the Inner-prize?”

“Oh, right, you don’t know about that yet. It’s a long story.” He blinked, realizing where they were again. “Uh, one that I probably shouldn’t tell you in the middle of the hangar.”

“Oh, yeah, I think we’re blockin’ traffic. Those people have been standing there for a while.”

Jim flinched, whirling around to see the entire bridge crew- save for Spock, because of course he’d left already- standing at the entrance, watching them with expressions that ranged from completely baffled to... well, to Chekov, who looked like he might very well be on the verge of bursting into giggles.

“Wh-? Why are you all just standing there?”

“Cause you’re blocking the path, genius,” Bones remarked before turning to Alice with a smile. “Hey, munchkin.”

“Hi, Uncle Bones! Was Daddy a dummy today?”

“When isn’t he a dummy?”

“Hey!”

 


 

 

There was absolutely no logical reason for Spock to be hesitating this way.

None at all.

And yet, standing outside the door to Kirk’s apartment, Spock found that he could not bring himself to knock.

It was... irrational to be worried that Kirk would not want to speak to him after everything that had occurred. Kirk had even been quite friendly to him when the Enterprise had landed in the hangar.

And yet.

He had marooned him on Delta Vega. He had nearly strangled him in front of the bridge crew. He had repeatedly brought up George Kirk’s sacrifice, which he now understood must have been a painful subject for the younger Kirk.

Kirk had no reason to forgive him.

And yet.

“I could not deprive you of the revelation of all that you could accomplish together, of a friendship that will define both of you in ways you cannot yet realize.”

If what his older self had said was true, that he and James Tiberius Kirk were meant to become great friends, then...

It would be illogical to not at least try.

And so, Spock lifted his hand and rapped his fist against the door three times. He heard a tiny gasp, followed by something clattering to the floor and tiny footsteps.

“I’ll get it!” A voice Spock did not recognize called. It was female, and very, very young. Something was set down in front of the door with a clunk, followed by the sound of the lock turning. Finally, the door opened, revealing...

Spock blinked in surprise.

The small child who had answered the door blinked back, then brushed some of her curly hair out of her face. Her eyes were big and blue, the same as Kirk’s, but her complexion was much paler than his, with green and yellow undertones.

And of course, there was one trait that- quite literally- stuck out more than all the rest: her ears, pointed just as Spock’s own were, though hers were a little big for her head.

“You're not Nana,” she commented. “Who’re you, mister?”

Spock blinked again, then cleared his throat.

“I... I apologize, miss, I believe I may have the wrong address.”

“Who’re you lookin’ for?”

“I am looking for one Captain James T. Kirk-!”

“Daddy!” She suddenly yelled, turning away from him. “There’s a tall man with ears like mine at the door!”

“Alice I am in the shower!” Spock just barely heard the captain shout from the other end of the apartment. He could hear water running.

“Well get out of the shower then! You said it’s rude to keep people waiting at the door!” The child- Alice, almost certainly the Alice that Kirk had been thinking of- sighed, getting off her step-stool and pushing it to the side. “Sorry, mister. Daddy’s really smart about books and numbers and stuff, but he’s kinda dumb about people.”

Spock arched an eyebrow.

“I was unaware that the captain had any social deficits.”

“Well, he acts cool and stuff, but he’s not very good at keeping friends. I think Uncle Bones and Nyota just stuck around at first cause me an’ Daddy are a package deal.” She blinked, then flushed slightly. “Oh, I’m sorry, mister! Please, come in!”

Spock arched an eyebrow as the girl led him into the apartment.

How odd. McCoy had implied Kirk’s daughter to be only four years of age, yet this child spoke with much more clarity and emotional maturity than most children her age and even a few years older would.

“Um... would... would you like some tea?” Alice asked after she had directed Spock over to the couch. He arched an eyebrow once more.

“Are you able to make tea?”

She flushed, fisting her hands in her dress.

“Um, well, no, but... that’s what Daddy does when people come over. O-Or coffee. Or water. I’m too short to get a glass, though.”

“I do not require refreshment at this time, Miss Kirk.”

“Oh.” She cocked her head a bit. “Um... who are you, anyway? You’re wearing a Starfleet thingy, so I don’t think you’re a bad guy.”

“I am indeed a member of Starfleet. My name is Commander S’chn T’gai Spock.”

Alice smiled. She had the same smile as her father, whenever he smiled genuinely.

“My name is Alice Georgina T’Vaakis Kirk! It’s nice to meet you!”

Spock arched an eyebrow, a bit surprised.

“T’Vaakis?”

“Mm-hm. Daddy says that’s the name my mother told him she liked before she left. It means ‘lady of boldness,’ right?”

“Indeed.” And a fitting name it was for this strangely bold Vulcan child. “You were not raised by your mother, then?”

Alice’s smile fell, and she shook her head.

“When I was three weeks old, my mother brought me to Nana’s house and gave me to my daddy. He says that she told him she was, um... vee-tosh kah-ter?”

Spock blinked, his eyes widening.

“Do you mean v’tosh ka’tur?”

Alice nodded.

“Yeah, that’s it!”

Spock resisted the urge to groan. It seemed that Sybok was even more of an idiot than he had previously believed.

“Anyway, um... when I was three weeks old, my mother went back to Vulcan. Daddy said it was because her father died... he also said my mother went to do something called co... coal-in-nar?”

“Kolinahr. It is a ritual through which all emotion is shed...”

Alice’s smile wavered a bit.

“Yeah, so... I guess she just didn’t want to be my mother anymore...”

Spock felt his throat tighten a bit.

“I see... was she... was she on Vulcan when...?”

Alice nodded.

“I... I felt our bond go away when she... it was s’posed to be dissolved soon anyway, but...”

“... Tushah nash-veh k’du,” Spock murmured after a moment.

Alice blinked, looking up at him with wide, curious eyes.

“What does that mean?”

“It is a Vulcan phrase. It means, ‘I grieve with thee.’”

“Oh.” She cocked her head to the side. “Did you lose someone too?”

Spock couldn’t help but flinch.

“Yes. My father was killed when the planet collapsed.”

“Oh.” She bowed her head slightly. “I grieve with thee.”

Spock blinked, then felt his lips quirk slightly.

“Thank you, Miss Kirk.” He hesitated for a moment, then opened his mouth to, for reasons he still wasn’t quite sure of, offer to teach her how to say that to him in Vulcan.

He never got the chance, however, as it was at that moment that the door to her father’s bedroom opened.

“Alright, buttercup, so who was at the... door... uh.” Kirk cleared his throat. “Commander.”

Spock turned to face the captain, only for words to fail him when he made a certain discovery.

That discovery being that the captain indeed prefered water showers to sonic showers. And also had quite broad shoulders, as exposed by the tank top he was wearing.

“Spock? You okay there?

Spock blinked, then most certainly did not blush before clearing his throat.

“I... I apologize for visiting at an inconvenient time, Captain.”

“Eh? Oh, no, it’s not...” Kirk shifted awkwardly, tugging on the towel slung around his shoulders. “Uh... buttercup, can you give us a minute?”

“Daddy, I can’t give you a minute. Time isn’t something that anyone can give or take.”

Spock’s lips quirked upward slightly as Kirk rolled his eyes.

“Okay, smarty-pants, how about this- go play in your room while Commander Spock and I talk about boring grown-up things.”

“Okay,” Alice agreed easily, practically bouncing over to her room. She paused just outside the door to her room, turning around to give her father a suspicious look. “But, Daddy? You better be nice to him.”

“Wh-! Hey, shouldn’t you be telling him to be nice to me?”

Alice pursed her lips for a moment, then shook her head.

“Nah. I think he’ll behave himself.”

With that, Alice went into her room, leaving behind a rather irritated Kirk and a rather amused Spock.

“Geez... sorry about that. She, uh, she’s got a bit of a big personality. Hope she wasn’t too much of a bother.”

“On the contrary, Captain, I found your daughter to be rather pleasant company.”

Kirk blinked, then quirked an eyebrow.

“You? Found a four-year-old to be pleasant company?”

“She is quite precocious and well-spoken for her age,” Spock replied by way of answer. “As such, if not for her small stature I would have assumed her to be older than she actually is.”

“Really? I thought all Vulcan kids were like that.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“Like what, Captain?”

“Well, y’know, like,” Kirk paused, gesturing at the upper half of head. “All smart and wordy and stuff.”

“Indeed, most Vulcan children tend to have larger vocabularies than their Human peers. However, Alice possesses an emotional maturity most children of either species do not exhibit at her age. I doubt most children her age would think to offer me tea, for example.”

“... Alice doesn’t know how to make tea.”

“She admitted as much, but as she has seen you offer refreshment to visitors in the past, she believed that it was important to do so in this case.”

Kirk grinned at that, pride evident on his face.

“That’s my girl,” he said before clearing his throat. “Now, um... not that I’m not happy to brag about my daughter, cause I’m pretty much ready to do that at any given moment, but is there a reason that you came to see me at my apartment?”

Spock cleared his own throat, standing up and walking over to the captain.

“There is. I wish to apologize, Captain.”

“A... Apologize?”

“Yes.”

“... uh... for what?”

Spock blinked, then arched an eyebrow.

“For my actions last week. I apologize for marooning you on Delta Vega-!”

“Spock, if you hadn’t done that, I never would have met Scotty, and Nero probably would have destroyed Earth. It was for the best.”

Spock blinked again.

“Then I wish to apologize for assaulting you on the bridge-!”

“Hey, that was pretty much my fault, I goaded you into that. If anything, I’m sorry for using your father’s death to get a reaction out of you.”

Spock clenched his fist behind his back.

“Then... I wish to apologize for accusing you of cheating-!”

“I did cheat, though. And I didn’t deny that at any point, remember? I was protesting the existence of a no-win scenario, not defending myself against accusations of-!”

“Then I apologize for taunting you by mentioning your father!” Spock blurted before he was able to stop himself, his frustration with the captain’s inability to accept his apology reaching a peak.

Kirk froze, staring at him with wide, startled eyes. His lips were slightly parted, as if he wanted to say something but was unable to speak.

“... well. Yeah. I, uh, I guess you did do that...” Kirk muttered after a moment, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Yes, and I apologize for it. I now realize that my words were inappropriate and unnecessarily cruel.”

“Spock...” Kirk sighed, shaking his head. “Look, you... you’ve read my file, right?”

Spock blinked, then arched an eyebrow.

“I read it in preparation for the academic hearing, yes.”

“And since you read it, you know that Alice isn’t mentioned in it.”

“I am. I must admit to some... curiosity in that matter.”

Kirk grinned, a mischievous glint in his eyes.

“Why, Commander, I didn’t know you had it in you to be curious.”

“A desire for the acquisition of new knowledge is a standard aspect of Vulcan culture, sir.”

Kirk rolled his eyes, then cleared his throat.

“A-Anyway, um... the reason that Alice isn’t mentioned in my file is because... well... because I don’t want people to know about her.”

Spock blinked, then narrowed his eyes, his stomach churning with barely suppressed anger. He did not want to assume anything about the captain, especially since doing so had proven to be a less than optimal course of action recently, and also considering that what little he had seen of Kirk and Alice’s interactions appeared to be highly positive, but...

Well. His own previous experiences were rather illustrative of the cruelty of both Vulcans and Humans in regard to his and Alice’s shared heritage.

“Please elaborate, Captain.”

Kirk grimaced.

“It’s just... I grew up in my dad’s shadow, y’know? Not even really his shadow- it was more like the shadow of what he did. I was the- the Kelvin Baby, a miracle born from tragedy or whatever flowery bullshit the tabloids used. My mom and Grandpa Tiberius did their best to shield me from it, but... well, you’ve read my file. I didn’t exactly live up to my dad’s legacy.”

Spock would have pointed out that Kirk’s recent actions had saved the lives of every single living creature on Earth, and therefore had surpassed his father in the amount of lives saved, but the captain did not give him the chance to speak.

“Anyway, I guess I just... I don’t want that for Alice. I want her to be free to define her own legacy, whether that’s in Starfleet or... I dunno, painting? Last I checked her big life goal was to punch the moon.”

Spock’s lips quirked upward involuntarily.

“An ambitious, if physically impossible goal.”

“Hey, don’t doubt her, she’s one determined cookie. But yeah, whatever she eventually does with her life, I don’t want her to have to fight to get out of my shadow. And I certainly don’t want people treating her differently because she’s... y’know.”

Spock arched an eyebrow.

“Half-Vulcan, sir?”

Kirk blinked, seeming surprised.

“Well, I was gonna say because she was born out of wedlock, but... yeah, I guess that’s true. And, well, I guess you’d know a lot more about that than I would.”

Spock resisted the urge to flinch at that.

“In the interest of accuracy, Captain, I would point out that Alice is much more in touch with her Humanity than I am.”

“Yeah, I kinda noticed, Spock. And I’d point out that unlike you, Alice hasn’t had any real Vulcan influences in her life since she was three weeks old.”

Spock felt a strange pang in his chest as he quirked an eyebrow.

“Since you have stated that Alice was born out of wedlock, I assume that you and her mother were never bonded, either?”

Kirk blinked.

“Bonded?”

“... Captain, after four years of raising a Vulcan child, I should think that you would be aware that Vulcans-!”

“I know about telepathic bonds, Commander.” Kirk quirked an eyebrow. “What, did you think T’Vin just dropped off Alice without telling me anything?”

“T’Vin?”

Kirk flinched, then sighed.

“T’Vin was... she was Alice’s mother. And no, we weren’t bonded, we barely even knew each other. I may be the type to rush into things, but I know what marriage means for Vulcans.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“Then... it is true, then? That Alice’s mother was part of the v’tosh ka’tur?”

“Huh? How do you know about that?”

“Alice informed me, although her pronunciation was a bit... off.”

“She’s four, man. Were you pronouncing words like that when you were four?”

“Yes.”

Kirk rolled his eyes.

“Well, I guess you know what they are then, right?”

“Indeed. Vulcans without logic. The term is used to describe anyone who disagrees with the ancestral teachings of Surak. One group of such Vulcans is known to have left the planet in 2143 aboard the starship Vahklas. However, the movement lost most of its popularity around 2154, when the Kir’Shira was discovered.”

“Wait, what? Spock, I know Vulcans live longer than Humans, but T’Vin did not look like an old lady.”

Spock’s lips quirked involuntarily; it seemed both Kirks had the uncanny ability to nearly break Spock’s stoicism.

“I very much doubt that T’Vin was over one hundred years of age, Captain. It is more likely that she was influenced by the revival of the movement than the original.”

“Revival?”

“Yes. Around ten years ago, there was a new wave of Vulcans who disagreed with Surak’s teachings, despite what is now known about them.” Spock bit back a grimace. “They were all banished from the planet, along with their leader, a Vulcan by the name of Sybok.”

“... Um. Wow, uh, you... you look really uncomfortable. Not even just for you, like, uncomfortable in general. Do you know him?”

“That is... correct.” Spock took a breath. “He is my brother.”

Kirk was silent for a moment, clearly stunned by this revelation. After a moment, his hand slowly rose, and he pointed right at Spock.

“Y... You have a brother?!”

Spock blinked, then quirked an eyebrow.

“To be specific, Sybok is my older half-brother. He is my father’s son from a previous marriage.”

“Wait, what? Isn’t your mom Sarek’s only wife?”

“Technically, yes. Sybok’s mother underwent kolinahr, and as I’m sure you are aware, that ritual involves the dissolution of all telepathic bonds, including the marriage bond. Thus, my mother is considered the only wife my father has ever-!” Spock grit his teeth, trying to suppress the wave of emotion that rolled through him. “The only wife my father ever had.”

“Spock...” Kirk looked as if he wished to say something else, but evidently decided not to, instead sighing. “Geez, I thought my brother was bad.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“You have a brother, Captain?”

“I thought you said you read my file. Yeah, I have an older brother. His name’s Sam. He ran away when I was ten and we haven’t spoken since.” He blinked. “Wow, that was... that was fifteen years ago, wasn’t it?”

“Considering that you are twenty-five years of age, I believe so. Am I to assume that you have not told him about Alice, then?”

Kirk snorted.

“I don’t even know how I’d get word to him. I’ve heard some scuttlebutt that he became some kind of researcher and moved to the colony on Deneva, but who knows?”

“Indeed. It appears that neither of us have had a pleasant experience with brothers.”

“Yeah... kinda makes me wanna get Alice a brother, so she can share in our pain.”

“Can we name him David?” Alice called, her voice muffled by the door.

“It was a joke, and you’re not supposed to be listening, buttercup!”

“Aw...”

“Where would I even get a baby from anyway, huh?”

“The stork! That’s where Nana told me babies come from!”

“The stork-! Oh, come on, Mom, you couldn’t think of a better line...?”

“The... stork, Captain?”

“Eh? Oh, yeah, it’s, uh, it’s an old wives’ tale. Storks would find babies in like, caves or whatever, and they’d bring them to people’s doorsteps.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“Captain, pray tell, how do the infants appear in the caves in the first place?”

“I... I don’t know, Spock, it’s... you know it’s not true, right? It’s just something people made up so they wouldn’t have to tell kids where babies actually come from.”

“I am aware of the process of sexual reproduction, sir, but it seems strange that such a story has a rather large hole in its plot.”

“That’s because you’re supposed to tell it to little kids, Spock, not twenty-eight-year-old Starfleet Commanders. A little kid’s not gonna question something like that.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“In your four years of parenting experience, would you say that Alice has never questioned anything you or any other adult has told her?”

Kirk opened his mouth to reply, then blinked and closed it, grinning a bit sheepishly.

“Well, I guess you got me there.”

“Indeed.” Spock straightened slightly when his comm went off, pulling out of his pocket and checking it. “Ah, I apologize, Captain, but it appears I am needed elsewhere.”

“Aw, and here I was thinking I might convince you to stay for dinner.”

Spock’s heart did not beat irregularly at that admission.

Not at all.

He was simply not getting enough rest. That was all.

“That is a generous offer, Captain, but I must be going.”

“Alright, alright... oh, uh, Spock?”

Spock paused as he reached the front door, turning around to face his captain once more.

“Yes, sir?”

Kirk was clearly hesitating, biting his lower lip briefly and scratching the side of his face.

“Just... y’know, the... the Enterprise doesn’t launch on a new mission for another couple of weeks.”

“I am aware of this.”

“And, well, I’m officially her captain now...”

“I was present at the ceremony, sir. I am, however, uncertain of what you wish to convey here.”

He saw Kirk’s adam’s apple bob slightly- most likely due to him swallowing excess saliva.

“Just... the, um, the first officer position’s still open. If... if you’re interested.”

Truly, Spock must not have been getting enough rest if his heart continued to palpitate in this manner.

He was unable to adequately explain why the tips of his ears had begun to burn, however.

“I...” Spock cleared his throat, straightening his back. “That is an... interesting offer, Captain. I will have to... consider my options carefully.”

This was as close to a lie as Spock felt himself capable of telling. While it was true that Spock had quite a few options to choose from, it was not true that he was considering all of them equally.

Or indeed, that he was considering any option but one with any degree of seriousness. His alternate self’s advice to “do what feels right” was... oddly compelling.

Even more so with how the captain’s face fell at Spock’s response.

“Oh, uh... y-yeah, sure. I guess that... that makes sense. Just... y’know, the offer’s open. Til... til we take off, I guess.”

Spock nodded.

“If you’ll excuse me, Captain.”

He left without another word, telling himself that the irregular pace of his heart was due to a lack of rest.

He had a harder time convincing himself of that when it started beating irregularly once again, this time at the captain’s overjoyed smile when he took on the role of First Officer just before take off.

Chapter Text

2258.75

It was a common practice for the captain and the first officer of Constitution-class vessels to share a bathroom between their quarters. Spock had been aware of this, and had planned for it accordingly.

However, he had not thought to account for the possibility that he would be sharing his quarters with both the captain and his four-year-old daughter.

In hindsight, it was somewhat inevitable that she would be coming along- Kirk had demonstrated his devotion to his young child, and after having spent his own childhood without a father, it was highly unlikely that he would allow her to experience the same situation. Given that Kirk had all but become the new face of Starfleet, and the fact that Admiral Pike was almost inordinately fond of both Captain and Alice Kirk- and quite possibly a bit afraid of Commander Winona Kirk, whom Spock had never met but had heard was... intimidating- it was perhaps somewhat inevitable that the USS Enterprise became home to four hundred Starfleet officers and one four-year-old girl. However, as it had not crossed Spock’s mind beforehand, he could not have accounted for it.

He also could not have accounted for the possibility that said four-year-old girl would suddenly become rather timid around him. As polite and talkative as Alice had been when they’d first met, upon their second meeting she had become nervous, with a tendency to fidget and focus her gaze on her feet whenever he spoke to her.

Spock was not certain of the reason for Alice’s change in behavior. Having only met her once, and being unable to remember any specific interaction with her that may have upset her in some way, he could not fathom what could have caused her to become so uncharacteristically reserved. What made matters worse was that Alice only behaved this way around him specifically- she was as exuberant as ever around Dr. McCoy, Lts. Sulu and Uhura, Yeoman Rand, Ensign Chekov, Nurse Chapel, Mr. Scott, and even Mr. Keenser, whom she had described as resembling the Terran vegetable cabbage.

Keenser, for his part, had not seemed offended, and Scott had found the comment extremely humorous and was unable to speak without laughing for three point seven minutes afterward.

While Spock would state that Alice getting along with the crew was a positive development, as they very well could be the people she’d spend the next several years with, it was... strange that he had been singled out as the one person she felt uncomfortable around. After all, there were only an estimated ten thousand Vulcans left, and excluding his alternate self, she and Spock were perhaps the only Human-Vulcan hybrids in existence.

He would never admit to it, of course, but he was reminded of the rejection he faced from his peers as a young child on Vulcan. This time, however, it was... it was a bit harder to swallow, because while both he and Alice belonged to a now-endangered species, they were also members of a barely-formed subspecies, neither Vulcan nor Human but something in between.

And yet, she did not appear to want his advice or company, even if he may very well have been the only person in the universe that could understand what she would go through.

Spock paused in the midst of brushing his teeth, allowing himself a grimace before leaning over and spitting in the sink.

It was illogical. He was not Alice’s father, nor was it likely that he would ever be anyone’s father. He and Alice shared a similar physiology and had both lost a parent to the destruction of Vulcan-that-was, but there was where the similarities ended. Spock had been raised on Vulcan-that-was, as a Vulcan, by a Vulcan father and a Human mother. Alice was being raised solely by a Human father, on Earth up until this point, and she was being raised almost entirely as a Human, although Spock had noticed Kirk’s efforts to bring in elements of Vulcan culture to Alice’s life recently.

There was no logical reason for him to want to take part in her upbringing, as he had no desire to form a bond with her father. This was merely a lingering result of the destruction of his home, and the loss of so many of his people. Many Vulcans had been taking in orphaned children in the wake of the tragedy, after all, and as Alice had no Vulcan parent...

Spock exhaled sharply through his nose as he wiped at his lips, briefly glaring at his reflection.

He would have to meditate on this soon, he decided as he picked up his razor. Just as he turned it on, however, the door separating the bathroom from the captain’s quarters opened, revealing Alice, who appeared to still be half-asleep.

“Good morning, Miss Kirk.”

The little girl startled, her eyes opening wide as she became aware of Spock’s presence.

“U-Um...” She fisted her hands in her nightgown, shifting her weight from foot to foot.

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“Is everything alright, Miss Kirk?”

Alice flushed bright green, releasing a small squeak before pushing the button to close the door. Spock heard small footsteps retreating from the door, followed by the sound of something landing on the bed.

“Daddy! Daddy, wake up!” Alice’s voice was quite urgent. Kirk groaned in response.

“Jus’ five more minutes, Ma...”

“Daddy, NOW!”

A thump, followed by another groan from Kirk.

“Urgh... Alice? Buttercup, what’d you do that for? And why’re you up so early, Alpha shift isn’t for-!”

Spock could not quite make out the next part, though he could still hear the urgency in Alice’s voice.

“Ah. Buttercup, c’mon, I’m sure that Spock won’t be-!”

“Daddy, please!”

He heard Kirk sigh.

“Fine, fine...”

Blankets and sheets rustled around a bit, and after a moment the door opened once more, revealing a sleep-ruffled Kirk clad in black boxer-briefs and a loose white t-shirt bearing the logo of the Terran retail company known as Costco, though the word “Fantasy” was before it in blue, most likely as a reference to some media that Spock had never encountered. Alice was behind him, shifting from foot to foot a bit more rapidly than before with a look of discomfort on her face.

“Captain? Is everything alright?”

Kirk smiled tiredly.

“S-Sorry, um... could you just leave the bathroom for a minute, Spock? Alice needs to... y’know...” Kirk glanced to the side- following his gaze revealed that he had looked at the toilet.

“Ah, I see. My apologies, Miss Kirk.”

He quickly turned and retreated into his own quarters, the privacy lock engaging seconds later. He sighed, shaking his head slightly before removing his regulation sleep shirt to change into his uniform.

For whatever reason, it seemed that the only other Vulcan on this ship had become intimidated by him, and Spock was unsure of how to remedy the situation.

If that was even possible.

 


 

Jim bit back a yawn as the ship exited warp, running a hand through his hair and leaning back in the captain’s chair.

“We will be arriving at Exo III in approximately twenty minutes, Captain.”

“Great, thanks, Chekov.” Jim grimaced, reaching around and rubbing the small of his back, which still ached a bit after this morning.

“Back troubles, sir?” Uhura asked with an impassive expression, the look in her eyes belying genuine concern.

“If you are in pain, Captain, I would suggest going to see Dr. McCoy,” Spock commented.

Jim scoffed.

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure if I told Bones that my back hurts because my four-year-old decided to apply the Heimlich maneuver to it, all I’d get is laughed at and thrown out of Sickbay.”

Uhura’s concern quickly turned to amusement, and she turned back to her station with a snort. Jim sighed, stretching a bit before slumping back into his chair.

“Captain.”

“Hm? Oh, what’s up, Spock?”

If Jim didn’t know any better, he would have thought that his XO looked a little... nervous.

“May I please speak with you on the other end of the bridge?”

Jim blinked, frowning as he got out of his chair.

“Um... sure?”

Spock didn’t say anything else as he led Jim to a less crowded part of the bridge.

“So, uh... what did you want to talk about?”

“I wished to discuss the incident that occurred at approximately 0500 hours this morning.”

Jim blinked.

“Spock, I hate to tell you this, but aside from Alice waking me up by punching me in the spine, everything before seven AM is kind of a blur. You’re gonna need to be more specific.”

Spock looked somewhat uncomfortable, although most people probably wouldn’t even realize anything was out of the ordinary there.

“I am... I am referring to the incident that occurred in our shared bathroom this morning.”

Jim blinked, then tilted his head slightly when he realized what Spock meant.

“Wait, you mean when Alice made me get up at five in the morning to get you to leave the bathroom? I really wouldn’t call that an incident, Spock. I mean, unless you count me having an aching back for the past few hours-!”

“Captain. I would like to inquire as to what I have done to make Alice uncomfortable with addressing me directly.”

Jim blinked again.

“What did you-? What are you talking about?”

“When I first met Alice, she was quite outgoing and exuberant. She has since exhibited that behavior with several other crew members, but has become extremely reserved around me, to the point where she is uncomfortable asking me to leave the bathroom so that she may use the facilities. Since I am the only person she appears to exhibit this behavior with, I must assume that I have done something to make her uncomfortable around me.”

“Uncomfo- okay, well, there’s a lot to unpack here, but first, why do you think you did something?”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“Alice and I only met once prior to the launch of the Enterprise, Captain. Her behavior towards me changed upon our second meeting, and I am unable to recall anything she might have done that would have caused her to act this way.”

“Yeah, but you can’t remember anything you did that would make her act like this, right?”

“No, but I am an adult and she is a child. It would be illogical for me to hold a grudge against her, as she most likely would not know better, and again, I cannot recall any incident that would have indicated any sort of disapproval on my part.”

Jim sighed, shaking his head.

“Spock, I... I really don’t think this is your fault. In fact, I’m willing to bet that there wasn’t anything that caused Alice to dislike you, because I’m pretty sure she doesn’t.”

The eyebrow arched higher.

“Her behavior suggests that-!”

“Her behavior is a result of her being in a new situation, Spock. She’s never shared a bathroom with anyone but me before, and she’s just not used to it yet.” Jim rubbed the back of his neck. “Plus, y’know, she’s probably worried about saying the wrong thing and upsetting you.”

This time, Spock tilted his head slightly.

“Captain, why would she be concerned about upsetting me? As I have just said, she is only four years of age. A few missteps on her part are to be expected, are they not?”

“Well, yeah, but...” Jim sighed, glancing around a bit. “Look, the thing about Alice is that she... sometimes she doesn’t really know what’s appropriate to talk about and what isn’t.”

“Is that not the case for all children?”

“Well, yeah, but when you’re a touch telepath, people tend to think that you’re going to spill all their secrets. I had to pull her out of her first daycare center because the other kids refused to play with her.”

Spock blinked, and Jim could have sworn that something like righteous fury flashed in his eyes.

“I realize that Alice has not spent much time around other telepaths and thus may not know how to shield yet, but-!”

“Oh, no, don’t worry, she’s learning. Well, she was, her, uh, her nanny was half-Betazoid. But before that, she... well, she had a tendency to blurt out whatever someone else was thinking when she touched them. Including me.” He laughed a little. “I almost lost a job one time because of it. Not that I blame her at all, she’s just a little kid.”

“Indeed. Am I to assume then that Alice’s discomfort around me has less to do with me and more to do with her own nerves?”

“Yes, Spock, that’s kind of been my point this whole time. I’m pretty sure she likes you just as much as everyone she doesn’t have to share a bathroom with. Well, maybe not Uhura, but she told me that she’s gonna marry Uhura when she grows up, so that’s kind of a different situation.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“Captain, Lieutenant Uhura is two point eight months older than you. By both Human and Vulcan standards, it would be extremely inappropriate for your daughter to marry her, both due to the age gap and the fact that the lieutenant has known your daughter since she was a toddler.”

Jim rolled his eyes.

“She’s not really gonna marry Uhura, Spock, it’s just a little kid thing. Didn’t you ever say you were gonna grow up and marry someone when you were a little kid?”

Spock opened his mouth to reply, but before he could, Sulu told them they were about to entire standard orbit for Exo III.

“Welp, that’s our cue. Don’t worry too much about it, okay, Spock? I’m sure Alice will warm up to you in no time.”

Spock didn’t look so sure, but didn’t protest, nodding at Jim before returning to his console.

 


 

Even though he’d technically experienced it before thanks to the mind-meld with old man Spock, it was still super weird to see and hear himself speaking.

“Even has your sense of humor,” Korby commented as they entered the dining room, sounding extremely pleased.

Jim resisted the urge to glare at him as he walked over to the table where Christine and android-him were seated, staring at his counterpart. He had to admit, it was a pretty great likeness- and he really did look good in that uniform.

Still creepy as all get out, though.

“Well, there’s one difference between us,” Jim commented as he turned to the plate of food Andrea set in front of him. “I’m hungry.”

“The difference is your weakness, Captain, not mine.”

“One at a time, gentlemen. Captain?”

Jim gave his counterpart a wry look.

“Eating is a pleasure, sir. Unfortunately, one you will never know.”

“Perhaps, but I will never starve, sir.”

Jim froze just as the fork touched his lips, glancing at his duplicate before looking back at Korby.

“He’s... he’s an exact duplicate?”

“In every detail.”

“What... what about memory?” He couldn’t. He couldn’t know, there’s no way he could remember Tarsus and still say something like that. “Tell me about Sam.”

“George Samuel Kirk, your older brother. Only you call him Sam. You haven’t spoken to him since you were ten.”

Damn.

“Then... tell me about Alice.”

“Alice Georgina T’Vaakis Kirk, your daughter. She is four years old, and she’s currently on the ship with Uhura keeping an eye on her.”

“T’Vaakis is a Vulcan name.”

“A Vulcan name meaning ‘lady of boldness.’”

“Yeah, I looked up Vulcan names and decided to give her one based on her Vulcan ancestry.”

“No you didn’t. T’Vaakis was the name suggested by her late mother, T’Vin, before she left Alice with you to return to Vulcan.”

“You might as well try to out-think a calculator, Captain.”

Jim scoffed.

“Obviously, I can’t.” He picked the fork back up, trying not let his hand tremble. “But we do have some... interesting differences.”

“Totally unimportant ones.”

Jim hummed as he opened his mouth, pushing back against the wave of nausea that ran through him as he reminded himself that it was okay to eat, it wasn’t selfish to eat, he had to eat.

Korby dismissed his duplicate, launching into some spiel about the superiority of androids or whatever. Poor Christine looked completely horrified as to what her fiance had become, and Jim couldn’t say he blamed her for it. He could remember another man who’d made similar promises, promises that he could save the colony.

That should’ve been the first clue that something was up.

Jim suppressed a shudder. He needed to stop thinking about this before it started affecting him too heavily.

Kodos was dead, and that was that. Right now, all he could do was hope that the little difference he’d put into the machine was enough to give Spock a clue as to what was going on.

 


 

Spock’s eyebrows rose when he saw Kirk exit the turbolift.

“Captain!” He called, getting up from his seat. The captain appeared not to hear him, and so Spock followed him into his quarters.

“Captain, we finished ahead of schedule,” Spock informed him as he approached him. Kirk didn’t respond at first, instead searching a small compartment near his desk.

“Dr. Korby has considerable cargo to beam aboard. I’ll have to go over our destination schedule with him.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“You’re going back down with the command pike?”

“Mind your own business, Mr. Spock. I’m sick of your half-breed interference, do you hear?”

Both of Spock’s eyebrows rose, his throat tightening in shock.

“... yes, very well, Captain,” he murmured, getting the distinct feeling that everything was not as it seemed.

“You look upset, Mr. Spock, is everything alright up here?” Kirk inquired softly, as if he hadn’t just hurled an insulting term for both Spock and his own daughter at him.

Something was definitely not right here. The captain was quite illogical, but he had never exhibited this kind of erratic behavior before.

“No problems here, sir.”

“Good. I’ll beam up shortly with Dr. Korby and party.”

Spock watched as Kirk left the room, waiting until the door was closed behind him before walking over to the intercom.

“Security, Spock here. Status of the landing party.”

“Ready and standing by, sir.”

“Have them meet me in the transporter room after the captain has beamed down.”

“Yes, sir.”

Spock released the intercom button, but before he could leave the room, the door to the bathroom slid open, revealing a very distraught Alice.

Something within him ached at the sight of her.

“... Miss Kirk. How much of that did you hear?”

“I...” She swallowed hard, her eyes welling up with tears. “I heard Daddy... he said... Mr. Spock, why would Daddy say something like that?”

“I... Miss Ki... Alice.” Spock walked over to her, kneeling down to her eye level. “Alice, I do not believe that was your father.”

“B-But he sounded just like him! I-If it wasn’t Daddy, then who...?”

“I am afraid I do not yet know. However, if I know anything about your father, it is that he would never use such a word to refer to anyone, especially you. Whatever is going on, I will find out the truth of the matter.”

Alice sniffed, looking up at him with big, dewy eyes.

“P... Promise?”

Spock’s lips quirked upward, and, just this once, he allowed himself to smile.

“Yes. I promise.”

 


 

Spock bit back a sigh as he watched Exo III fade into the distance.

“Thank you for letting me make the decision, Captain,” he heard Nurse Chapel state. “I’m quite certain I’m doing the right thing.”

He quirked an eyebrow, approaching the captain’s chair just as Chapel exited the bridge.

“She’s staying with the ship,” Kirk informed him.

Spock didn’t respond, finding himself unable to look Kirk in the eyes.

“... Something bothering you, Mr. Spock?”

“... Frankly, I was rather dismayed by your use of the term ‘half-breed,’ Captain.”

Kirk looked surprised, his eyebrows rising.

“You must admit, it is a rather unsophisticated expression.”

The captain rolled his eyes, his lips turning up in a smirk.

“I’ll remember that the next time I’m in a similar situation, Mr. Spock.”

“Captain, I am being quite serious.”

“When aren’t you serious-?”

“Captain.”

Kirk blinked, his amusement quickly melting away to be replaced by genuine confusion.

“Wait, you were actually...? Spock, come on, you know I would never...”

“Indeed, I know that. However... I assume you have not yet spoken with Alice since your return from Exo III, am I correct?”

Kirk blinked again, quirking an eyebrow.

“Uh, no, haven’t really had the chance. What does that have to do with anything?”

“Alice overheard your duplicate addressing me with that term.”

Kirk froze, his eyes widening.

“She... she what?”

“She happened to be in the bathroom while I was speaking with him in your quarters. She was quite understandably distraught at hearing her father’s voice saying such a thing.”

“Shit.” Kirk all but jumped out of his chair. “Spock, you have the conn, I have to go apologize to my daughter like, a million times!”

With that, he ran out of the bridge. Spock rolled his eyes, huffing a bit as he took the captain’s chair.

 


 

2258.76

Spock had just finished shaving when the captain’s door to their bathroom opened.

“Oh! Um, sorry, Mr. Spock.”

“That is quite alright, Alice, I am finished with the bathroom,” he replied as he placed his razor back into his cabinet.

“O-Oh, okay...”

“If you’ll excuse me,” he stated with a nod, turning and opening the door to his quarters.

“... Um! M-Mr. Spock!”

Spock paused, turning back to Alice with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes?”

“Um...” She fidgeted for a moment, then looked up at him, her cheeks flushed slightly as she smiled. “G-Good morning.”

Spock blinked, then smiled back at her, just a little.

“Good morning to you as well, Alice.”

She grinned, and Spock gave her a small nod before walking back into his quarters and shutting the door behind him.

Perhaps the captain had been right after all. She just needed a bit of time to get used to him.

Speaking of the captain, approximately one point one hours later Spock heard the shower turn on, signalling that Kirk had woken up.

He was slightly early today. Perhaps he’d actually be early for Alpha shift for once-!

“Oh, am I not sensitive, clever, well-mannered, considerate, passionate, charming, as kind as I’m handsome, and heir to a throne-!”

“Daddy, you’re not really being any of those things right now! Shoosh, I’m sleeping!”

Spock bit his lip, refusing to laugh at the ridiculous interactions of the captain and his daughter.

He did, however, have to admit that the captain had a pleasant singing voice.

 


 

2258.113

“Captain’s log, Stardate 2258.113. Starship Enterprise diverted from scheduled course. Purpose...”

Jim swallowed hard, forcing down the bile threatening to rise up in his throat.

“Purpose- to confirm discovery by Dr. Thomas Leighton of an extraordinary new synthetic food which would totally end the... the threat of f-famine on Signia Minor, a nearby Earth Colony.”

He exhaled deeply as he ended the log, running a hand through his hair.

It was fine. This was a good thing. He was going to see Tom again, and he and Alice were going to get to meet his wife. Plus, the people on Signia Minor were going to have enough food.

It was fine. This wasn’t the same thing.

The door to his quarters opened.

“Daddy! Scotty says it’s time to beam down!” Alice ran over to him, trying to pull him out of his chair. “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!”

Jim laughed, leaning over and ruffling her hair.

“Okay, okay! Geez, you’re so demanding, buttercup.”

“That’s cause I’m in charge, Daddy.”

“Wh- Hey, who’s the captain here?”

Alice rolled her eyes, pulling him along as they made their way to the transporter room.

It was fine. There was no reason for him to have a knot in his stomach like this.

Everything was fine.

 


 

“You mean to tell me you’ve called me three light-years off my course just to accuse an actor of being Kodos? Tom, I mean this in the most affectionate way possible, but what the hell?”

Jim could feel Alice’s concern through their bond, though he was still glad that he’d asked Martha to take her into the other room.

“He is Kodos. I’m sure of it.”

Jim grimaced, walking over to his old friend and sitting down next to him.

“You said you discovered a new food concentrate. What am I supposed to put in my log, huh? That you lied, that you diverted a starship with false information? You’re not the only one who’s gonna get in trouble for that, y’know.”

“I did it to trap Kodos!” Tom snapped.

“Kodos is dead, Tom.”

“Is he? Is anyone sure? A body burned beyond recognition?”

“Tom. The authorities closed the book on that case years ago.”

“Then let’s reopen it. Jim, four thousand people were butchered. Children, some younger than your daughter-!”

“Don’t,” Jim interrupted harshly. “Tom, don’t... I can’t think about it, alright? I can’t let myself think about that, I... I just can’t. Kodos is dead. I’m satisfied with that.”

“Well, I’m not. I remember him. That voice...” Tom turned towards him, his one eye sharp and full of hate. “The bloody thing he did. Jim... Jim, please, I need your help. There were only eight or nine of us who actually saw Kodos. I was one, you’re another.”

Jim suppressed a shudder, willing himself not to think of that face.

“Tom-!”

“If he’s to be exposed-!”

“He’s dead. End of story.”

Tom stared at him for a moment, then slowly rose out of his chair.

“Then it’ll be a ghost Martha and I receive in our home tonight. I invited the entire company to a cocktail party. I... I have to be sure, Jim.”

Jim sighed, shaking his head.

“And I have to take my daughter back to my ship and figure out how I’m gonna enter all this in my log.”

 


 

Kirk was staring at the computer screen when Spock entered his ready room.

“Captain-!”

The captain jumped in his seat, then all but flailed as he rushed to turn the computer off before turning to Spock with a forced smile.

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“Is... everything alright, sir?”

“U-Uh, yeah, Spock, it’s...” He cleared his throat. “I-I’m fine. Actually, I... you know Dr. Leighton, right?”

“Mostly in passing, but I do know him, yes.”

“Right, right... would you say he’s, y’know... given to fantasy?”

“Dr. Leighton is a good empirical research scientist- steady, reputable, occasionally brilliant.”

“With a really long memory...” Kirk murmured, turning back to the table.

“I have no information on that, Captain. We are ready to leave orbit.”

“... you know what? Delay departure for a little while, Mr. Spock. I think I’ll beam back down to the planet for a little bit, check out that party Tom and Martha are throwing.”

Spock quirked his eyebrow again.

“I assume you will be leaving Alice in Dr. McCoy’s care, then?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be back before bedtime.”

“And will you be dining at the party, sir?”

“Eh?”

“It is nearly 1800 hours, Captain. I have observed that you usually take Alice to the mess hall for dinner between 1800 and 1900 hours.”

“Geez, is it really that late already? I must have missed lunch... anyway, uh, yeah, I’ll eat at the party. Keep an eye on things til I get back, yeah?”

“Yes, sir.”

Spock frowned as the doors closed behind Kirk.

Odd. While the captain’s sleep schedule could be somewhat irregular, and he didn’t seem to structure time outside of his duty shifts very much, the one thing that had been consistent throughout the short time he’d known Kirk was mealtimes. Spock could not recall a single time outside of an away mission where the captain had ever been late to a meal, let alone missed one entirely.

Perhaps the excitement of seeing an old friend had distracted him. While that was not exactly logical, it would fit with the captain’s previous behavior.

Still, Spock could not shake the notion that there was something more to this.

 


 

Jim was unable to do anything but watch as Martha covered Tom’s eerily still body with a blanket.

“At... at least he has peace now. He never really had that before.”

Her shoulders were trembling, and Jim found himself taking a step towards her and putting a hand on her shoulder. She immediately turned, burrowing into his chest with a sob.

“I’m... I’m so sorry, Martha...”

“Wh... Why? Why was Tom killed? If... if what he suspected wasn’t true, then...”

Jim swallowed hard, gently pushing her away.

“I... I don’t know yet. But I swear, I’m gonna find out, okay?”

She nodded, still crying as she walked back into her own room. Jim swallowed hard, not quite believing he was about to do this as he took his comm out of his pocket.

“Kirk to Enterprise. Patch me through to Captain John Daley of the Astral Queen...”

 


 

2258.114

He could feel Spock giving him the “disapproving Vulcan look” from all the way across the bridge as Lenore left.

“If you’ve got something to say, Mr. Spock, I suggest you say it.”

“I would simply like to inquire as to our course, sir.”

“Benecia Colony.”

“Benecia Colony is eight light-years off our course.”

Jim gave him a look as he returned to his chair.

“If my memory needs refreshing, Mr. Spock, I’ll ask you for it. In the meantime, just follow my orders.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow, and if Jim didn’t know any better he’d think he looked downright perturbed. However, he said nothing as he turned back to his console, and Jim didn’t say anything either.

He knew this was stupid. That it was probably going to get him into a lot of trouble. That... that if Tom was right, and Karidian really was Kodos, then he was putting everyone in danger.

He was putting Alice in danger.

He knew all of that.

But he had to be sure. He had to know for sure, once and for all, that that man was really dead and buried.

His stomach growled slightly, and he grimaced.

“Are you well, Captain?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah, fine, Chekov. Just a little hungry.”

He heard Uhura and Spock pause behind him. Sulu and Chekov exchanged a look.

“What?”

“Sir, Alpha shift only started ten minutes ago,” Sulu started slowly. “Did... did you not eat breakfast this morning?”

Jim blinked, then pursed his lips for a moment.

“Uh... no, actually. Guess it must have slipped my mind.”

More worried looks. Uhura cleared her throat.

“Sir, if you need to go eat-!”

“No, Lieutenant, I’m fine. One missed meal won’t kill me.”

Even if it was actually closer to three missed meals at this point. He never did get dinner at the party.

But that wouldn’t kill him either.

“Sir-!”

“Mr. Spock, e.t.a the Benecia Colony.”

“We’ll arrive Stardate 2258.119, Captain, approximately 1500 Benecia time.”

Jim hummed, pulling up his PADD and looking at the newly received data he’d requested. The list of nine eyewitnesses appeared in front of him, and he quickly scrolled past Tom’s name, as well as his own. One name caught his eye- a Riley, K. Tapping on the name confirmed his suspicions: it was indeed Kevin Riley, an Operations officer that had recently been promoted to Communications.

“Mr. Spock.”

“Yes, Captain?”

“Could you do me a favor and transfer Lieutenant Riley from Communications down to the Engineering desk?”

Spock didn’t answer him, and when he turned to look at him he could have sworn that Spock looked almost... surprised.

“Riley came up from the Engineering desk, sir. He has been in Communications for less than a week.”

“Well, I’m sending him back.”

“I... I see. May I inquire as to why? He’s a fine young officer, and is bound to consider this transfer a disciplinary action.”

“I don’t want to talk about it, Spock. Just do it.”

He heard a few people whispering behind him, turning to shoot a glare at some ensigns, who quickly returned to whatever they’d been doing beforehand.

It was for Riley’s own good. If he ended up hating Jim for it, well, that was the price he’d pay.

He wasn’t taking any chances. Not this time.

 


 

McCoy sighed as he leaned back in his chair, holding a glass of Saurian brandy in one hand and pinching the bridge of his nose with the other.

“Spock, listen. When the man on top walks along his street, the chain of command is often a noose.”

“Spare me your philosophical metaphors, doctor. Also, may I inquire as to why you are still in possession of that bottle of Saurian brandy? I believe the captain ordered you to dispose of it after the incident with the transporter and his split halves.”

“Hey, he’s the one that fucked up, why should I have to pay for it? Besides, I’m off duty, so I can drink as much as I want.”

Spock rolled his eyes, but decided to drop the subject.

“The captain is acting strangely.”

“Uh, Spock, have you met Jim? If he wasn’t acting strangely, I’d be worried. What are you so worried about, anyway? Sure, Jim’s a foolhardy idiot most of the time, but he knows what he’s doing.”

“It was illogical for him to bring those players on board.”

McCoy snorted before taking a sip of the brandy.

“C’mon, Spock, you saw that girl Jim was talking to. I know you’re half-Vulcan, but you’re not blind.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow, ignoring the... irrational spark of envy McCoy’s words brought.

“The captain currently lives in his quarters with his young daughter.”

“And how do you think he got the daughter in the first place? Besides, in all the time I’ve known him- which is about three and a half years now, by the way- you know how many dates he’s been on? Two. Forgive me if I think he’s just a little pent up. Did it ever occur to you that he simply might like the girl?”

Another spark of envy. He would have to meditate on this later.

“It occurred. I dismissed it.”

McCoy snorted again.

“You would.”

Spock gave McCoy a look.

“Did you know that he suddenly transferred Lieutenant Riley to Engineering?”

“If you want the latest scuttlebutt, ask Christine or M’Benga. I ain’t interested in gossip. Now, Jim’s the captain, he can transfer people as he pleases, you can look that up in a hundred volumes of space regulations somewhere, alright? Alright. Now, if you aren’t gonna have a drink, then I’d appreciate it if you left me-!”

The medbay doors slid open then, revealing a worried-looking Alice in the doorway clutching a patched-up teddy bear. McCoy coughed, quickly hiding the brandy before turning to the girl with a smile.

“Well, hey, munchkin. What can I do ya for? Mind, I don’t know how many more lollipops I can sneak you before your daddy notices that something’s up.”

Alice didn’t answer, instead looking at the ground as she walked into McCoy’s office.

“... Uncle Bones, I think something’s wrong with Daddy.”

McCoy blinked, then sighed, shaking his head.

“You and Mr. Spock both. Look, sweetpea, your daddy just lost an old friend of his. He’s probably just a little shaken up-!”

Alice shook her head.

“That’s not it. I... Uncle Bones, I don’t think Daddy’s been eating. At all.”

Both Spock and McCoy blinked, exchanging a quick look before turning back to her.

“What makes you think that, Alice?” McCoy asked gently.

“Well... Daddy and I always eat together when he’s not on a mission, but we haven’t eaten together since breakfast yesterday. Plus, his tummy was growling a lot last night...”

“The captain did state that he missed lunch yesterday, Dr. McCoy. He also missed breakfast this morning.”

Spock heard McCoy curse under his breath as he got up from his desk.

“Uncle Bones?”

“Is something the matter, doctor?”

“I sincerely hope not. I need to talk to that little sh- so-and-so, pronto.”

“Why?” Alice’s eyes were wide with worry. “What’s wrong with Daddy?”

McCoy hesitated, then shook his head.

“I’m... I’m sorry, Alice, but I can’t tell you that. Patient confidentiality. It’s... it’s probably nothing, but I need to check.”

Before either Spock or Alice could question him, the doctor left his office without another word.

 


 

To say that Jim was pissed was a huge understatement. He was pretty sure that he’d accidentally scared the piss out of some young science officers on the way to the lab, but at the moment he just did not give a solitary shit.

“Mr. Spock,” he started as he entered the lab, keeping his tone as light as possible. His XO looked up from whatever project he’d been working on, arching an eyebrow.

“Yes, Captain?”

“May I please have a word with you in private?”

Spock blinked, then turned back to his- well, it looked like some kind of weird Venus fly-trap, to be honest.

“In a moment, Captain, I’ve nearly finished-!”

“Now, Mr. Spock.”

Everyone in the lab froze, looking between Jim and Spock with expressions that ranged from children looking at a classmate who’d just been called to the principal’s office to children watching their parents fight.

Jim wasn’t sure which he liked less.

“... Yes, sir.”

Spock followed him out into the hall and into an empty conference room, arms folded behind his back as if he were standing at attention. Jim exhaled as the door closed, making sure his expression was as neutral as possible when he looked at Spock.

“Commander, I’m curious about something.”

“Yes, Captain?”

“Exactly what makes you think that I’m unable to take care of myself?”

Spock blinked, arching an eyebrow and yet still somehow maintaining an oh-so-innocent expression.

“I do not believe I have ever expressed any doubt about your ability to take care of yourself, sir.”

“Really. Then would you mind telling me why just half an hour ago, Bones burst into my quarters demanding to know about my eating habits? Because I’m pretty sure he specifically mentioned you coming into his office with ‘concerns about my health!’”

“I-!”

“Spock, I know that we’ve had our differences- believe me, I know that, and I know that a lot of that was my own goddamn fault, but you can’t just go telling Bones that I’m ‘engaging in unhealthy behavior in regards to my eating habits,’ which, by the way, I am not, just because you haven’t seen me eat doesn’t mean I haven’t been eating!”

Admittedly, in this case he actually hadn’t been eating much, but it wasn’t like he was starving himself either- he’d eaten an entire apple in front of Bones just half an hour ago, for example.

Mostly to make him go away, but still.

“Captain-!”

“And furthermore, Mr. Spock, you should know that my eating habits are absolutely none of your fucking business. You are not my doctor, so stop trying to- to use my health as an excuse to get me declared unfit for duty just because you don’t approve of my command decisions, got it? I am your superior officer, and I expect you to treat me as such, am I understood?”

The room went silent after that, save for Jim’s panting- he was, admittedly, a little out of breath after all that yelling.

“... Captain,” Spock started after a moment. “If I may speak freely?”

“When don’t you speak freely... fine, fuck it, whatever. Just talk.”

“I understand that you are my superior officer, sir, and I apologize if you perceived my actions as overstepping my authority. However, you appear to be operating under some misconceptions. Firstly, I did not mention anything about your eating habits to Dr. McCoy, I merely spoke with him about your recent actions, which I had already attempted to speak with you about earlier. Dr. McCoy disagreed with my analysis, believing your actions to be a result of your attraction to Miss Karidian.”

Jim blinked.

“My attraction to- Spock, she’s nineteen. I am not going to sleep with a nineteen-year-old, even if I didn’t have a four-year-old daughter to worry about, because I am twenty-five and it would be super creepy if I were into a girl that young at my age.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“Perhaps you should express that sentiment to Dr. McCoy, then. And perhaps the bridge crew. They also seemed to believe you wanted to, and I quote, ‘hit that.’”

Jim stared at him for a moment, then snorted, biting back laughter.

“God... goddammit, Spock, you can’t say shit like that with such a straight face, it’s too ridiculous.”

“I assume then that I was correct in inferring that ‘hit that’ means engage in sexual intercourse with, and not that the crew believed you wished to harm Miss Karidian?”

Jim was shaking with barely contained laughter now, sure that his face was red with the effort.

“S-Stop, stop, don’t be funny, I’m- I’m mad at you!”

“I am not attempting to be funny, Captain. I am simply asking for confirmation.”

Jim coughed as he tried to get a grip, clearing his throat.

“Yeah, okay, that is what that means, but we are getting way off-topic here. If you didn’t ‘express concern for my eating habits’ or whatever, then who did?”

“To be accurate, I did express some concern about it, but only after Alice entered the room to speak with Dr. McCoy about it.”

Jim’s heart stopped.

“Wh... What? Alice... she’s worried?”

“Quite so. She stated that generally, you eat meals with her, but you have not eaten with her since breakfast yesterday. In addition, she heard your stomach rumbling during the night while you were sleeping.”

Well. Turns out that Jim was the asshole all along.

Which would probably be a great title if he ever wrote a memoir. “Turns Out I Was the Asshole All Along: The James T. Kirk Story.”

“Oh, man... I’m... I’m sorry, Spock, I just... Tom’s death has been kind of rough on me, y’know? He was...”

One of the only people who understood what it was like. A comrade. Someone who saved his life in ways he’d never be able to repay.

“He was a good friend. I... I guess I have been kind of out of it for the past couple days, haven’t I?”

“You have indeed been acting irrationally. And while I may have not been the one to broach the topic with Dr. McCoy, I must admit some... concern as to your eating habits.”

Jim swallowed hard, trying not to let himself relive the years and years of doctors and therapists and his mother and Bones asking similar questions.

“I... okay, maybe I haven’t been eating as much as I should be, but I’m not like, starving myself or anything.”

Which was true, he wasn’t starving.

He knew what that felt like, and this? This wasn’t it. He was just a little hungry.

Nothing he couldn’t handle. It wasn’t like he was holding off from eating, just in case he found someone who needed it more.

“Very well, Captain. However, I do feel I should correct one other statement that you’ve made.”

“Eh?”

Spock leaned a bit, and Jim couldn’t quite name the dark look in his eyes.

“If your eating habits were to ever interfere with the smooth operation of this ship, then as your first officer, it would, in fact, be ‘my fucking business.’”

Jim had always thought that hearing Spock curse would be just as funny as hearing him try to puzzle out euphemisms.

Shockingly, laughter wasn’t even close to being the reaction his body had to hearing Spock drop an f-bomb. In fact, judging from the shiver that ran down his spine, it was a lot closer to...

Whoa. Okay, no. Stopping that one right here, right now, because there were so many ways that could go wrong here. Spock was his first officer, for one, which probably violated like, seventeen different fraternization regs, and also, what were the chances Spock would even be into guys at all, let alone a guy like Jim? Vulcans probably got together based on logic, after all, and it was super illogical to be in a relationship that couldn’t produce kids, especially now that there were so few Vulcans left.

Even if Jim already had a half-Vulcan kid of his own.

Besides, Jim wasn’t into Spock. Sure, the guy was objectively pretty good looking, with those dark, chocolatey eyes and his high cheekbones and actually, now that Jim thought about it, he even had attractive nostrils-!

Okay, fine, so maybe Jim thought Spock was kind of cute. It didn’t mean anything. He thought Bones was kind of cute when they first met, and he still wouldn’t have slept with him if he’d been paid for it.

And sure, Spock wasn’t just cute, he was also... irritating as hell, most of the time, but he could be sassy and funny, and he was a lot easier to talk to than Jim would have thought, and he and Alice actually got along pretty well nowadays, and good lord where was Jim going with this train of thought?

“Captain?”

Jim blinked, then blushed a little, laughing sheepishly as he took a step back.

“Uh, s-sorry, just... y-yeah, you’re, you’re right, it... I guess I of all people should know that it’s your business if... um.”

“Captain, are you alright? You appear to be a bit flushed.”

Shit.

“I-!”

Just then, his comm went off, and he grabbed it.

“Kirk here.”

“Jim!”

Jim had never been more grateful to hear Bones’ voice in his entire life.

“Jim, you need to get down to medbay immediately! It’s... It’s Riley, he... someone’s poisoned him!”

Okay. So slightly less grateful now.

 


 

Jim’s mind was carefully blank as he entered the guest quarters that Karidian was staying in.

“We’re overdue for our talk, aren’t we?”

Karidian gave him a perturbed look as he closed his book and stood up from his bed.

“I had hoped you would have respected my privacy, Captain.”

“A moment ago, we narrowly averted an explosion which would have destroyed several decks of this ship. Before that, someone tried to poison one of my crewmen.”

The look on Karidian’s face didn’t change.

“I am sorry to hear that,” he replied as he opened his book back up and started reading it again.

“Yeah, sure you are.” Jim swallowed hard, mustering up as much courage as he could before taking a breath. “Are you Kodos?”

Karidian didn’t answer. Jim narrowed his eyes, taking a step towards him.

“I asked you a question.”

Karidian glanced at him over his shoulder.

“Do you believe that I am?”

“I do.”

“Then I am Kodos, if it pleases you to believe so.” He walked past the room divider. “I am an actor, I play many parts.”

“Sure, you’re an actor now, but what were you ten years ago?”

Karidian didn’t answer right away.

“Younger, Captain. Much younger.”

Jim swallowed, glad that the only thing he’d eaten recently was that apple a few hours ago; anything more and it would have come back up by now.

“... So was I. But I remember.” He walked back over to Karidian, holding up the piece of paper in his hand. “Let’s see if you do. Read this into the communicator on the wall, it’ll be recorded and compared to a voice sample from Kodos. The test’s virtually infallible, so don’t even think about doing a voice or something. We’ll still be able to compare the sample to find out if you’re Anton Karidian... or Kodos the Executioner.”

Karidian looked at him for a moment after taking the paper, then looked down at it.

“‘The revolution is successful, but survival depends on drastic measures. Your continued existence represents a threat to the well-being of society. Your life means a slow death to the more valued members of the colony.’” Karidian- Kodos wasn’t even looking at the paper anymore, as if he wasn’t even trying to hide the truth now. “Therefore, I have no alternative but to sentence you to death. Your execution is so ordered. Signed, Kodos, Governor of Tarsus IV.”

Jim swallowed again, trying his hardest to keep from shaking.

“I remember the words. I wrote them down, first on a scrap of paper I had in my pocket, then a million more times when it was over.” He took a step towards Kodos, willing himself not to break down, not now, not after so long. “You... you said them like you knew them. Hardly even glanced at the paper.”

“I learn my parts very quickly.”

“You sure about that? Are you sure that you didn’t act this role out in front of a captive audience before you blasted them out of existence without mercy?”

“I find your use of the word ‘mercy’ strangely inappropriate, Captain. Here you stand, a perfect symbol of our technical society- mechanized, electronicized, and not very human. You’ve done away with humanity, the striving of man to achieve greatness through his own resources.”

“We’ve armed man with tools. The striving for greatness continues. But Kodos-!”

“Kodos, whoever he was-!”

“Or is!”

“Or is! Kodos made a decision of life and death. Some had to die so that others might live. You’re a man of decision, Captain, you ought to understand that.”

“All I understand is that four thousand people were needlessly butchered!”

“In order to save four thousand others. And if the supply ships hadn’t come earlier than expected, this Kodos of yours might have gone down in history as a great hero!”

“But he didn’t. And history has made its judgement.”

Kodos glared at him, then smirked.

“Well, if you’re so sure that I’m Kodos, why not kill me now? Let bloody vengeance take its final course! See what difference it makes to this universe of yours!”

Jim’s head was swimming with emotions. He felt unsteady on his feet, weak and tired as he had ten years ago, facing this same monster that had taken so much from him.

He could do it. His phaser was on his hip- all he had to do was switch to kill and pull the trigger, and it would finally be over.

Jim grit his teeth, squaring his shoulders.

“Th... Those are beautiful words. Gotta admit, you really are a good actor.”

Just take it.

“Th-They change nothing.”

Take it out of the holster.

“No, I suppose not,” Kodos responded.

Take it out of the holster now, before he gets away again.

“They’re merely tools, like this ship of yours.”

Before he hurts anyone else.

“There are no previous... no previous records to Anton Karidian prior to ten years ago.”

Kill him before he kills anyone else.

“Blood thins. The body fails. One is finally grateful for a failing memory. I no longer treasure life, not even my own.” Kodos’ eyes were misty. “I am tired! The past... is a blank.”

He looked back at Kirk, his face suddenly neutral.

“Did you get everything you... wanted, Captain Kirk?”

Jim clenched his fist, crumpling the paper in his hand.

“If I had gotten everything I wanted... you might not walk out of this room alive.”

With that, Jim finally left the room, practically sprinting out before he could change his mind and do something stupid.

 


 

2258.115

When Jim woke up, his head was throbbing, and the lights overhead made him wince and let out a groan.

“Ah, well look who’s finally decided to rejoin the land of the living.”

Jim blinked once, then twice, trying to force his eyes to focus.

“... Bones?”

Bones smiled, but it was definitely not Bones’ rare “happy to see you” smile. In fact, it was almost certainly his “if I hadn’t sworn an oath to do no harm, you would be so dead right now” smile.

“Good morning, Sleeping Dumbass. Congratulations, you managed not to kick the bucket. Scared the hell out of half the crew and your little girl, though.”

Jim froze, his heart skipping a beat again.

“A-Alice... where is...?”

“Considering that it’s four in the fuckin’ morning, fast asleep. No thanks to you, by the way. Poor M’Benga spent most of his shift trying to calm her down before she finally passed out about three hours ago.”

Before Jim could respond to that, there was something cold pressed against his neck, followed by a short sting.

“Ow! What was that for?”

“Levodian flu vaccine. Ya don’t need it, but fuck you anyway.” Bones fixed him with a hard look. “Now, you wanna tell me why you lied to me?”

“Huh? What are you talking about, I haven’t-!”

“Kid, your blood sugar levels are abysmal. I’m surprised you didn’t pass out before Lenore lost it and killed her dad. Tell me, have you eaten anything in the past two days besides that apple?”

Jim swallowed, shame washing over him like a deep, dark ocean, one he wished would just hurry up and drown him already.

“I... I just... it was Kodos, Bones, he was here and I had to- to get to him, had to-!”

“Jim-!”

“It didn’t seem that important, okay?” Jim finally admitted. “It wasn’t- I wasn’t trying to- it’s not like I thought there wasn’t enough, like I did back on... I just forgot.”

Bones’ eyes softened, and he sighed, shaking his head.

“Jim, come on. You know as well as I do that it doesn’t matter why you don’t eat. Your brain doesn’t react to normal amounts of hunger the way it should, and when you don’t eat-!”

“When I don’t eat, I risk relapsing, I know, Bones. I’ve been dealing with this long enough to know that. It’s...” He swallowed again. “It wouldn’t have gotten out of control.”

“You don’t know that for certain, and if you’d kept this up? Jim, it might be your health, but it’s not just your life.”

“You don’t think I know that? I’m responsible for four-hundred lives on this ship, Bones, I know what could happen if I’m not...”

Bones narrowed his eyes.

“Four-hundred and one, and that last one spent an hour in my office crying her eyes out and asking me if her daddy was gonna die.”

Jim flinched, his chest aching as regret stabbed at him. His eyes were starting to sting, and his vision was getting blurry.

“... What do I even tell her, Bones? I... I never wanted her to know about any of this. About- About Kodos, about- about what I had to do on... how can I tell her?”

Bones snorted, although Jim could have sworn that his eyes were looking a little misty too.

“Shit, Jim, you think I know? I barely made it through explaining the divorce to Joanna without drinking myself into a coma. And even then, Joanna was twice Alice’s age and hadn’t lost nearly every member of her species less than a year ago. But you’re gonna have to tell her something, cause she’s not gonna let you off the hook without an explanation.”

He groaned, leaning back against the pillow.

“I’m a terrible father.”

“Please, if you were a terrible father your mom would have kicked your ass and gotten custody, and you know it. You’re a human being with flaws and traumas. Sooner or later, she was always gonna know that.”

The doors to the medbay slid open in the distance. Bones rolled his eyes, getting up from his stool and disappearing behind the medbay curtain.

“Dammit, if that’s Chekov again, I’ll... ah. What’re you doing up so late, and why do you have that?”

Jim couldn’t quite make out the other person’s reply. He heard Bones snort.

“You’re not his mother, you know that, right?”

The other person spoke again.

“Ugh, fine, he should get something in his stomach anyway. Wait, what’s in it?”

The other person spoke once more.

“What, did you hack into his medical records?”

This time, the other person remained silent. Bones snorted again.

“Didn’t have to go to the trouble, at this point I would’ve told ya. Well, go on. He’s awake, finally.”

A moment later, the curtain was pulled back again, revealing a rather tired-looking Spock holding what appeared to be a bowl of oatmeal.

It wasn’t the weirdest thing Jim had ever seen- or even the weirdest thing he’d seen today, thanks to that trip he took to the science lab to yell at Spock- but if he hadn’t been so tired, he probably would have laughed at the sight.

“Captain.”

Jim gave him a weak smile.

“H-Hey, Spock. Who’s that for?”

“You, sir. As you have not eaten a proper meal in approximately one point nine days, I believed that it would be logical to bring this to you.”

Jim swallowed, watching as Spock walked over to his bedside and placed the bowl on the little tray table, sitting up slightly.

“Spock, really, you didn’t have to. I’m fine-!”

“Fine has variable definitions. Fine is unacceptable.” Spock quirked an eyebrow. “And in this case, fine is an absolute falsehood. You collapsed due to extremely low blood sugar levels after witnessing a mass murderer be murdered himself. I have already examined a list of your food allergies, and have prepared this oatmeal accordingly. Now eat.”

“Hey, wait, I’m still the captain-!”

“Dr. McCoy has put you on medical leave for the next three days. Therefore, you are not the captain at the moment, I am. And I am willing to make this an order.”

“Spock-!”

Jim stopped, almost taken aback by the genuine concern he saw when he looked Spock in the eyes. If Spock was that worried about him, then he must really have been a mess. He swallowed hard once more, then silently picked up the spoon. His hand was shaking as he dipped it into the plain grey-brown mush, scooping up some of it and holding it up.

His hand stopped halfway to his mouth, still trembling. He swallowed again, grimacing as he tried to force himself to either move the spoon to his lips or bend over and put the spoon in his mouth.

Selfish. Wrong. Bad.

He had to eat.

Selfish. Don’t need it as much.

He had to eat.

No, don’t have to, can make it without it, someone else might need it more, selfish selfish selfish selfishwrongwrongwrongcantdoitdon’tneeditselfishbadbadbad-!

“Captain?”

Spock was staring at him with wide eyes, the concern from before having only grown.

Jim grit his teeth, shrinking in on himself a little as he put the spoon back into the oatmeal and sighed.

“I... look, Spock, I... I get that this is kind of lame, and if you make fun of me for it or- or tell the brass I’m unfit for command later, I-I totally get it-!”

“Captain, what do you need?”

Jim swallowed again, forcing himself to look up at Spock.

“I... I need you to tell me it’s okay.”

Spock blinked, creasing his brow a moment later.

“I... I do not understand.”

Jim sighed, looking away.

“I need you to... to tell me that it’s okay to eat. That it’s not... it’s not selfish to eat when I need to, I’m not... not taking resources away from someone else if I eat something.”

Spock was silent for a moment, and Jim braced himself for rejection.

Then he heard Spock take a breath.

“Cap... Jim.”

His heart skipped a beat, and he turned to look at Spock with wide eyes. His XO had a serious expression, like always, but something about his eyes was... almost tender.

“Jim, it is not selfish to eat. It is necessary for nearly every form of sentient life to consume sustenance in order to continue living, and as we are aboard a starship with well-maintained food replicators, it is highly illogical to deny yourself food. Even if every single replicator aboard the ship were to fail all at once and require extensive repairs, we would still have enough food to last several days, which would be more than enough time to arrive at any of three nearby stations. The only person you deprive of resources by not eating is yourself.”

Spock paused to breathe, and Jim swallowed again, his eyes stinging with unshed tears.

“So please. Eat.”

Jim bit his lip, then picked up the spoon and put some oatmeal in his mouth. It had gotten slightly cold, and it was unflavored save for a little bit of sugar- with Jim’s luck with allergies, it was better safe than sorry when it came to flavoring. He could practically taste the replicator beams in it.

It was probably one of the blandest things Jim had eaten in years, and he’d eaten his fair share of baby food to try and convince Alice to eat it.

After two days without eating anything but an apple, though, it was delicious. He hadn’t even realized how hungry he really was until some of it was in his stomach, and then he couldn’t stop eating, not until he’d practically cleaned the bowl completely. His eyes were burning when he finished, his cheeks wet with tear tracks.

And that was when he realized that Spock was still sitting next to his bed. He flushed with shame, clearing his throat as he pushed the tray away before wiping at his eyes. He laid back down, turning away from Spock and curling in on himself.

“... Sorry,” he finally managed to whisper, his voice more than a little rough.

“I... I am pleased that you enjoyed the meal.”

Jim snorted.

“It... it wasn’t the oatmeal, Spock. That was probably the blandest thing I’ve tasted in forever. No offense.”

“Captain, I simply typed the code for this into a replicator. Past experience has taught me that if I had attempted to prepare something for you myself, you most likely would have been unwilling to eat it due to taste, no matter how famished you were.”

That got an actual laugh out of Jim.

“So I guess you really can’t do everything perfectly, huh?”

He could almost hear the quirked eyebrow.

“I have never claimed an ability to do all things perfectly, sir.”

“Kidding, Spock. And it’s Jim. Now that you’ve called me by my name, you can’t go back to ‘Captain’ and ‘sir’ all the time.”

“I believe addressing you by your first name on the bridge may cause some confusion, Captain.”

“Jim. And just when we’re off duty.”

“Very well, then... Jim.”

Jim sighed, then rolled over, giving Spock a more genuine smile than the one he had before.

Then he frowned, clearing his throat.

“So... I’m, um, I’m guessing you’ve got some questions.”

“Fewer than you may think. Out of curiosity, I checked the ship’s library. Specifically, I cross-referenced the personal histories of Dr. Thomas Leighton, Lt. Kevin Riley... and Captain James T. Kirk.”

Jim’s heart stopped.

“The files I found were classified, and I am unable to access them at my current clearance level. However, I was able to discern that every file was related to a single report- one on the massacre on Tarsus IV ten years ago.”

“I... Spock...”

“I became suspicious upon learning this, and once it was discovered that Karidian was indeed Kodos the Executioner, they were confirmed. You are one of the survivors of the massacre, are you not?”

Jim swallowed, then turned away from Spock again, grabbing one of the pillows and curling around it.

“Jim. Please answer the question.”

“... I... I was fifteen. School was out for summer, and... and my mom was going on a mission for the first time in a while. She let me pick if I wanted to stay with my Aunt Bev on Tarsus or Grandpa Tiberius in Wisconsin, and... well, I guess you know who I picked. It wasn’t so bad for the first month, but... but then the crops started failing...”

“Jim...”

“At first, nobody was really worried. We still had the replicators, after all, and- and Starfleet would come and help sooner or later.” He gripped the pillow tighter. “The... the power plants went dark a week after most of the crops were gone. Animals started dying- there used to be sparrows there, and once they all died, the insect population just exploded. They devoured all the crops that had survived, and then they all just... dropped dead too. That was... that was when Kodos declared martial law.”

Spock didn’t speak, so Jim kept going.

“He rounded us all up, then divided us into two groups. One group would live, and the other... he vaporized them. One second they were there, the next, gone.” He swallowed, then took a breath. “I... I was supposed to be in that group. Aunt Bev switched places with me at the last minute, when she heard some guard say what they were really gonna do. They didn’t check to make sure who was in what group, just that there were four thousand people in each group.”

“.... I do not understand. I had believed that Kodos’ decision of who lived and who died on Tarsus was based on eugenics. You are healthy, as well as physically attractive.”

Jim snorted.

“Gee, thanks, Spock... Kodos didn’t see it that way, though. I have allergies, and...” He sighed. “I have an attention disorder. I got an implant for it after, but back then, I was on regular medication that I couldn’t take on an empty stomach. I was a liability, a burden the colony couldn’t bear.”

“You were a fifteen-year-old boy.”

“Some of the kids in the vaporized group were as young as seven, Spock. Age didn’t matter, although most of the survivors were young kids. Guess he wanted to- to rebuild Tarsus as his own ideal society, or some shit like that. Anyway, the rest of us were supposed to get rations after that, but... we all panicked. Everyone thought, what if Starfleet never comes? How long until he takes another two thousand of us and kills them ‘for the greater good?’”

Spock was silent again.

“A riot broke out. People attacked the food storage and tried to steal whatever they could for themselves; Kodos’ guards ended up killing another thirty people. We all fled into the woods, and... Tom and I, we ended up taking care of a bunch of younger kids. One of them, this little guy named Joey, he... he was younger than Alice is now. His parents were both in the vaporized group, he was all by himself... I ended up giving him all of my food. Whenever I got some, I ate a little and gave the rest to the kids. I kept doing that for a month, I... I was always hungry, but as long as I ate enough that I could still move, I was okay.” Jim swallowed. “I was always hungry, and I forgot what it was like not to be. What it was like to not feel like I was about to pass out, to not feel like my stomach was going to cave in on itself, to not be able to count my ribs and feel every bump in my spine...”

Spock was still silent. Jim was afraid to turn and look at him.

“S... Starfleet arrived right after the governor’s mansion burned down. No one knows who set that fire, but they found a body... my mom was on one of the ships that came down. When somebody found out who I was, they called her, and she... she beamed right down and hugged me. Just held me in her arms for hours and hours... I don’t remember anything else about that time. I can remember being in my mom’s arms, and then the next thing I can remember is being in the hospital on Earth.”

Jim glanced over his shoulder, just to make sure that Spock hadn’t left. A flash of blue was all he needed to confirm it before he turned away.

“I spent... I spent weeks in the hospital, then years in therapy. I had to relearn eating habits, had to start sticking to a meal schedule so that I wouldn’t... that I wouldn’t relapse. I’ve spent the last ten years trying to convince myself that I’m not... that Kodos was wrong.” He swallowed. “There... there was a unit on Tarsus in a history class I took at the academy. It... well, it brought back some bad memories, and I... I relapsed. It was still early on enough that Alice doesn’t remember it, but... that’s how Bones found out about all of this.”

Silence.

“It... I was a minor when it all went down, so my name doesn’t show up in any of the official reports, and it’s not in my Starfleet file, either. Anyone lower-ranked than a captain can’t get access to the classified files without a medical override. I... I thought that Kodos was dead and gone, I thought I was... that I’d be okay.” He sighed, shaking his head. “Guess I was wrong about that...”

Yet more silence.

“So... that’s it. That’s my story. Do me a favor, will you? When... when you tell Starfleet that I’m unfit for duty, could you give me a heads up? I want to give Alice enough time to say goodbye to everyone.”

“Why would I inform Starfleet that you are unfit for duty? I do not see the point in giving them false information.”

Jim blinked, rolling over in his biobed and looking at Spock, who was impassive and stoic as ever.

“You’re... you’re not going to...?”

“I have seen no evidence as to why this entire incident should not be reported as a success. Your actions, while perhaps unconventional, led to the capture of a serial murderer and will provide closure to the survivors of the massacre. That you collapsed directly afterward could easily be seen as a result of the stress the situation put you in.”

Jim quirked an eyebrow.

“Why, Mr. Spock, are you saying that we should lie to Starfleet?”

“Vulcans do not lie, Captain.” Jim could’ve sworn that Spock’s lips twitched upward. “They may, however, neglect to include unnecessary details in a strategic manner.”

Jim laughed a little, turning so that he was lying flat on his back.

“... Thanks, Spock.”

“You are most welcome, Jim.” Spock stood up, moving his arms behind his back. “Now, I believe that you should rest.”

“Yes, Mom.” He hesitated, sitting up a little. “Hey, um, wait.”

Spock paused, turning back to Jim with an arched eyebrow.

“Yes?”

“Just... I, um, I don’t think Alice is going to let me off the hook for this without an explanation, so...”

“Jim, of the two of us, you are the only one with any parenting experience.”

“I-I know, but I’m not... I’m asking for advice because... look, how do you think your mom would explain something like this to you? As... as a Vulcan.”

Spock blinked, surprised for only a second before resuming his usual expression.

“I cannot say for certain, but I believe my mother would simply tell me the truth.”

With that, Spock left, leaving Jim alone to ponder that.

In the end, when Alice came to see him the next morning, and after she finished crying and telling him off for scaring her like that, that was exactly what he did. He left out the more gruesome parts- as smart as Alice was, she was still only four years old- but he told her about what he went through on Tarsus, who Kodos was, and why he hadn’t eaten for the past few days.

It was kind of pathetic, but he was a little proud of the fact that he got through it all without crying again.

“... so, um... yeah. That’s... that’s the long and short of it, uh.” Jim tried to smile. “A-Any questions?”

Alice’s expression was startling in its Spock-like neutrality.

“Daddy...”

Jim tried not to flinch, bracing himself for what could only be an inevitable rejection from the person who mattered most to him.

A rejection that never came, because of course it didn’t. Instead, Alice reached out and placed her hand over his heart.

“Tushah nash-veh k’odu,” she murmured quietly. “I grieve with thee, Daddy. I’m sorry that you went through all of that, and I’m sorry that Kodos got away with it for so long. You’re not a bad person or broken, though. You’re my daddy, and I love you lots and lots.”

Well. No one could blame Jim for bursting into tears after that little speech. Especially not with the waves of warmth and love Alice was sending him through their bond.

“Ah! Daddy, Daddy, why are you crying? Did I say something wrong- oof!”

Jim let out a wet laugh as he pulled his daughter close to his chest, holding her tight as his own mother had on Tarsus ten years ago.

“I love you too, buttercup. I love you so, so much, please don’t ever forget that.”

“I know, Daddy. But why are you crying?”

“Because I’m happy, Alice.”

“Daddy, crying cause you’re happy doesn’t make sense! You’re silly.”

Jim laughed again, pulling back again and pressing a kiss to her forehead.

“Yeah, I know. But I’m your silly daddy, right?”

Alice grinned up at him, then kissed him on the cheek.

“Yeah, and I’m your little smartypants.”

Jim wasn’t sure what he’d done to deserve such a sweet, wonderful, perfect little girl as his daughter, but somewhere in his awful, miserable life, he must have done something good.

Chapter Text

2258.172

Jim sighed as he leaned over to sign the document Yeoman Barrows had brought him, trying to ignore the pain in his lower back. He glanced up briefly, smiling a little when he saw Spock walking over to him.

“Anything from the landing party?”

“They should be sending up a report momentarily, Captain.”

“Great-! Urk!”

Jim winced as he handed the PADD back to Barrows, feeling like someone had stuck a knife in his back.

“Something wrong?”

“S’nothing, just woke up with a kink in my back-!”

Suddenly, there was a hand on his back, slowly rubbing him. He was surprised at first, but soon enough relief started coursing through his veins and he found himself not caring.

“That’s it- oh, a little higher, please. Push, push hard. Dig it in there, Mr. Sp-!”

Spock stepped out in front of him, but the hand kept going. Jim froze, then glanced to the side, where Barrows no longer was.

A flush bloomed high in his cheeks as he looked at Spock’s arched eyebrow.

“Uh. Um, I,” he cleared his throat. “Th... thank you, Yeoman, that’s sufficient.”

“You need sleep, Captain,” she commented. “If it’s not out of line-!”

“I appreciate the concern, but I get that enough from Dr. McCoy and my daughter, Yeoman. Thank you.”

“Dr. McCoy and Alice are correct, Captain. After what this ship has been through in the last three months, there’s not a crewman aboard who’s not in need of a rest. Myself excluded, of course.”

Jim rolled his eyes as Spock walked away, rubbing at them so that his gaze wouldn’t fall anywhere it shouldn’t.

Not because he wanted to look or anything, it was just that he’d be sitting down while Spock was standing up, and it just so happened that his butt would be right in Jim’s line of sight from this angle-!

Okay. Fine. So maybe Jim had a teeny-tiny, itty-bitty, infinitely small crush on his XO. There weren’t any rules about having crushes, right? So long as he never ever acted on it, it technically didn’t constitute an abuse of power.

Although, now that he thought about it, there had been plenty of romances between captains and their first officers in the past. And technically, he and Spock were almost completely interchangeable in terms of authority. If he’d been into, say, Uhura- which would never happen, as she would almost certainly kick his ass- then it would have been a problem, but with Spock...

But, the crush wasn’t entirely Jim’s fault here, right? The guy brought him a bowl of oatmeal at four in the goddamn morning and listened to him spill his guts about his fucked-up head, and while Jim had had more than his fair share of sexual relationships in the past, affectionate relationships with non-family members were... well, uncharted territory. Who could blame him for falling for the first guy to show him non-sexual affection?

Even if said guy happened to be half-Vulcan, and had half a tree trunk up his ass.

His really nice ass, which happened to still be right in Jim’s line of sight-!

Jim cleared his throat, quickly standing up as his face reddened again.

“Have Dr. McCoy’s report channeled to my quarters, Lieutenant.”

“Aye aye, Captain,” Uhura responded evenly, although the look in her eyes said that if he didn’t get some rest, she was going to make him get some rest.

Traitors, every last one of them. He was fine. He was able to do his job, and he was eating enough food now, so it wasn’t like it was back when Kodos...

Jim suppressed a shudder as he stepped into the turbolift.

Yeah. He really was just tired this time. No big deal.

Maybe a quick nap would do him some good, though...

 


 

“Psst... Daddy...”

Jim groaned, snuggling into his pillow without opening his eyes. He heard a sigh, then a small hand started rubbing his back gently.

“Daddy, it’s time to wake up...”

Slowly, Jim cracked one eye open, unable to stop himself from grinning when he saw Alice.

“Are you tryin’ to wake me up like I wake you up for school in the morning?”

“It worked, didn’t it?”

He laughed a little, sitting up in bed and ruffling her hair.

“Hey, do you know what you want for your birthday yet? It’s just a few weeks away now, you know.”

“I have an idea, Daddy, but maybe we should talk about it after Mr. Spock leaves.”

Jim blinked, then slowly turned towards the entrance to his quarters. Sure enough, there was Spock, his whole face neutral save for one arched eyebrow.

“Captain.”

Jim promptly turned the color of a ripe tomato, laughing sheepishly as he tugged the blanket up over his waist.

“H-Heeey, Spock... how’d, uh, how’d you get into my quarters?”

“Alice let me in, sir.”

Jim turned, giving his daughter a look.

“What? What did I do?”

“You didn’t think to wake me up before you let him in?” Jim whispered.

“Why? What does it matter? He’s seen you sleep before.”

“Yes, but right now, I happen to not be wearing pants.”

Alice arched an eyebrow. Oh, god, now she was doing it- Jim was going to be surrounded by eyebrow-arching logical Vulcans forever now.

“Daddy, you and Mr. Spock are both boys. And he’s seen you without pants on before, what’s so different now?”

“Because-! Look, I don’t wanna get into this right now, or- or for like, the next seven years or so, could you please just bring me my pants?”

Alice’s eyebrow arched higher.

“What’s in seven years?”

“The day Uncle Bones makes me tell you about the birds and the bees. Buttercup, please, pants.”

“What do birds and bees have to do with-?”

“Alice.”

“Okay, okay!” Alice rolled her eyes, then walked over to the foot of the bed and dragged his pants back over to him. Jim quickly put them back on, hiding his naked legs as best he could. Admittedly, it was a little silly- Spock had seen him in nothing but a t-shirt and underwear before, after all- but with all these weird... feelings bouncing around in his head, something about letting Spock see him without pants now felt... well, kind of embarrassing.

“Uh, um, s... sorry about that, Spock.”

“It is of no consequence, Captain,” Spock replied, although Jim could’ve sworn that the tips of his ears were starting to turn a little green. He cleared his throat, holding out a PADD to Jim. “Dr. McCoy’s report has arrived, and we are ready to beam down the Starboard section for shore leave.”

“Oh, great! Which group are you going with?” Jim asked as he took the PADD.

“Not necessary in my case, Captain. For Vulcans, ‘to rest’ is to rest, to cease using energy. To me, it is quite illogical to run up and down on green grass using energy instead of saving it.”

“But it’s fun!” Alice replied. “Don’t you ever have fun, Mr. Spock?”

Spock arched an eyebrow, and Jim bit back a laugh.

“Y-Yeah, Mr. Spock, don’t you ever have fun?”

“I find my work to provide sufficient stimulation.”

Alice scoffed and rolled her eyes. Jim laughed, then paused when the intercom went off.

“Ah, hang on, guys.” He walked over to the intercom, pressing a button. “Kirk here.”

“Dr. McCoy calling from the planet, Captain.”

“Great, open a channel for me, would you, Uhura?”

“Aye aye, sir.”

There was a click.

“Captain, are you beaming down?”

“Wasn’t planning on it, Bones. Why?”

“Well, either our scouting probes and detectors are malfunctioning, and all us scouts careless and beauty-intoxicated, or I’m gonna have to declare myself unfit for duty.”

Jim blinked, then exchanged a quick look with Spock.

“Uh, what do you mean by that?”

“On this supposedly uninhabited planet, I just saw a large rabbit pull a gold watch from his vest and claim that he was late.”

Jim paused for a minute, then snorted, covering his mouth as he tried to hold back a laugh.

“That’s- that’s pretty good, Bones. Alright, I got one for ya- the rabbit was followed by a little blond girl, right?”

“Matter of fact, her hair was brown. And she happened to have pointy ears.”

Jim blinked, then slowly turned back toward his own brown-haired, pointy-eared Alice.

“What?”

“Bones, are you telling me that you saw my four-year-old daughter, who is currently standing right next to me, down on this planet?”

“Well, the girl I saw looked a lot like Alice, sure, but she was older. Closer to Jo’s age. But she looked exactly like Alice otherwise, and she followed the rabbit through a hole in a hedge.”

Jim rolled his eyes.

“Alright, doc, I’ll... take your report under consideration. Captain out.”

“Daddy, do you really think Uncle Bones saw a big rabbit and a girl that looked like me but older?”

“I sincerely doubt it, buttercup. It’s just a McCoy pill with a little mystery sugarcoating. He’s been trying to get me to take shore leave for weeks now, afraid I won’t go if he doesn’t bait me.” Jim sighed, rubbing the back of his neck tiredly.

“Very well, Captain. However, there is something else that I came to discuss.”

Jim arched an eyebrow.

“Yeah? What is it?”

Spock held up another PADD.

“I picked this up from Dr. McCoy’s log. We have a crew member aboard who’s showing signs of stress and fatigue- reaction time down nine to twelve percent, associational reading norm minus three.”

“That’s way too low.”

“Indeed. He’s become irritable and quarrelsome, yet he refuses to take rest and rehabilitation. Now, he has that right, but we have found-!”

“A crewman’s right ends where the safety of the ship begins, Spock. Let that guy know that he’s going on shore leave, captain’s orders. What’s his name?”

“James Kirk.”

Jim blinked, his mouth falling open a little. He heard Alice giggle.

“Ooooh, he got you good, Daddy!”

Jim gave Alice a look, then turned back to his far too smug-looking XO.

“Now, see here, Spock-!”

“You are to report to the transporter bay to beam down to the planet immediately, by order of Captain James T. Kirk.” If Jim didn’t know better, he’d say that Spock was actually smirking. “Enjoy yourself, sir.”

Jim would have found all of this a little funny if it weren’t so damn infuriating.

And if Spock’s sneakiness wasn’t actually turning him on a little-!

Okay, so maybe he really did need a break.

But his pride wasn’t going to just let this indignity slide, no sir.

“Alright, fine, I’ll head down to the planet. But as long as I’m giving orders, Spock? I hereby order you to keep an eye on Alice while I’m gone.”

The smirk immediately dropped off of Spock’s face, his eyes widening.

“Sir, I-!”

“Nope, captain’s orders, no arguing.” He smirked at Spock, clapping him on the shoulder. “Have fun!”

The utterly baffled look on his face was almost enough to make up for his wounded pride.

 


 

“Alice,” Spock started, making his tone as reasonable and logical as possible. “Alice, please do not sit in the captain’s chair.”

Alice giggled, spinning the chair around and peering up at him over the back of the chair.

“Why not, Mr. Spock?”

“Because you are not the captain of this vessel.”

“My daddy is, though. And since he’s a Kirk, and I’m a Kirk, that means that when I sit in this chair I’m Captain Kirk!”

“No, because you are not a Starfleet Officer, and therefore not in the chain of command. Now, please get out of the chair.”

Alice shook her head.

“No. I like this chair.”

Spock’s jaw twitched with irritation. Generally, he was fond of Alice, but her behavior at the moment was beginning to make him grateful for the likelihood that he would never be able to have children of his own.

“Alice, you are currently violating a multitude of Starfleet regulations, including regulation-!”

Uhura’s console beeped just then.

“Bridge, this is the captain.”

“Hi, Daddy!” Alice called.

“Hey, buttercup.”

Uhura chuckled, then cleared her throat.

“Bridge.”

“Has the first shore party beamed down yet?”

“Negative, Captain, they’re just about to start.”

“Great, get this message to all shore parties- stand by, no one is to leave the ship.”

Uhura blinked.

“Sir?”

“That’s an order, Lieutenant.”

“... Aye aye, sir.”

“Good. Bye, buttercup. Kirk out.”

“Bye, Daddy!” Alice called just before Uhura cut the connection. “Aw, that’s too bad about shore leave. Do you think they found the rabbit?”

“I do not know, but again, Alice, I must ask you to get out of the captain’s chair. It is not yours.”

Alice rolled her eyes, but finally did as he asked, dropping onto her behind and scooting out of the chair... only to run over and steal his own.

“I did not mean that you may take my chair!” He chided, stalking back over to her.

“Whoa, Daddy was right, you do have lots of rules, Mr. Spock,” Alice commented before sliding back out of the chair and running to the other side of the bridge.

“Alice!” He called before trailing off in an exasperated groan. Next to him, Uhura stifled a giggle, and he turned to her with an arched eyebrow.

“And just what is so amusing, Lieutenant?”

Uhura shook her head, giving him an odd look.

“Well, it’s just... the only person I’ve ever seen rile you up like this is the captain, sir. It’s kind of sweet.”

Spock set his jaw.

“Vulcans do not get ‘riled up,’ Lieutenant Uhura. I am merely... perplexed by Alice’s behavior, as I would have assumed most people would be.”

“Ah, but you forget that I’ve known darling little Alice for almost three years now. I’m used to her being an excitable little sweetie pie.”

“She is not behaving-!” Spock stopped himself, although Uhura apparently was able to catch his meaning.

“Like a Vulcan?” She finished, arching an eyebrow.

Spock did not flinch. No matter what the lieutenant claimed later.

“I... It would be illogical to expect that of her-!”

“Yes, it would, because that’s not all she is. And furthermore, the biggest Vulcan influence she’s ever had is you, Spock.”

Spock arched an eyebrow.

“Just what are you implying, lieutenant?”

“Nothing. I’m telling you that, and you should really know this by now, Alice isn’t you. What was right for you when you were a kid might not be what’s right for her now, and even then, it’s not what Jim chose. Maybe when she’s a little older, but right now, being Human is what’s right for her, and being Vulcan is what’s right for you.” Uhura straightened. “Sir.”

Spock didn’t respond, instead looking back at Alice. She had approached the navigator’s station, and was now listening intently to Chekov complain about how he was not allowed to go with the landing party because of his young age.

“We should mutiny,” she suggested, looking completely serious. Chekov laughed, shaking his head.

“Da, we could hold the ship hostage until the adults listen to our demands.”

Uhura chuckled again, and Spock’s lips twitched involuntarily.

Though it felt... strange to admit, Uhura had a point. He and Alice were two very different people, despite their shared heritage.

However, oddly enough he found that he did not truly desire her to be anything else.

Perhaps he should meditate on this.

 


 

This was officially starting to be just too goddamn weird.

First, there was Bones’ rabbit and an older Alice. Then, Sulu randomly found a handgun. Then goddamn Finnegan, who somehow still looked eighteen years old and was as much of a douche as he was in high school, randomly appeared and socked Jim in the jaw. Now Barrows had been attacked by fucking Don Juan.

Jim was starting to think they all might be super high off something in the planet’s atmosphere. He sighed as he ducked under a low-hanging branch, jogging along the path covered in bootprints.

“So much for a vacation,” he muttered as he jogged across a desert-like clearing, a small oasis appearing before him. “Sulu!”

No response. He sighed again, coming to a stop next to a flowery area and shaking his head.

The orange blossoms caught his eye. He stared at them for a moment, trying to identify them before realizing that they were marigolds. He smiled, picking one and gazing at it.

T’Vin had been fascinated by these flowers, he remembered. There was nothing like them on Vulcan, she’d said. All the plants there had evolved for a desert climate, save for a few that thrived in the small, more temperate climates there.

She’d been so much like Alice. So bright and full of life, curious... beautiful. In another life, they might have been happy together. Might have been a family.

He bit back a groan, shaking his head. He’d only known T’Vin a week; it was ridiculous to fantasize about stupid domestic shit like...

Like T’Vin in a simple yet elegant white wedding gown, her dark curls cascading down her back like a waterfall.

Which was exactly what Jim was looking at now. He blinked, then rubbed at his eyes.

T’Vin was still there, an amused smile gracing her lips.

“You’re not seeing things, James,” she all but purred as she walked over to him. A thrill went down his spine at that; for some reason, he’d always had that reaction to her calling him “James.”

“T... T’Vin,” he finally managed as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “T’Vin, how... you were... you can’t be-!”

T’Vin giggled, then got up on her toes and kissed him. Jim’s surprise lasted only a split second before he relaxed into her embrace, wrapping his arms around her torso. Her lips were as warm and soft as he remembered, and well, Jim couldn’t remember the last time he’d been kissed like this.

Or, really, kissed anyone who wasn’t a robot.

Shit, when had he last been out on a date? Two, three years ago? It hadn’t ended in a kiss, he knew that for sure.

Come to think of it, when was the last time he got laid? The last time he could remember was...

Two days before T’Vin had dropped Alice off at his mom’s house.

Jim’s eyes snapped open, going wide.

It had been almost five years since the last time he’d had sex.

“Christ, no wonder I keep thinking about Spock like that!” He cried out in relief, breaking the kiss and startling T’Vin.

“Uh... what?”

“Oh, sorry, just- actually, you know what? This is your fault!”

T’Vin blinked, then arched an eyebrow.

“Excuse me?”

“Yeah, it’s all your fault, cause you showed me how wild Vulcans can be in bed, and now that I’ve gone almost five years with only my hand for company, I’m projecting my desire for you onto my first officer!” Jim laughed triumphantly. “This is great! I don’t have a thing for Spock at all, my dick’s just confused because you and I had awesome, wild sex and I’ve unknowingly subjected myself to half a decade of blue balls!”

“Captain, while sexual frustration has been shown to increase stress, there is no evidence that it can turn any part of the Human anatomy blue.”

Jim froze, a flush creeping up his neck as he slowly turned around, finding himself face to face with his XO.

Who, for some reason, was not wearing a shirt. He knew that Spock was somewhat... hirsute from the one time he’d glimpsed it in the gym shower, but seeing his well-sculpted chest directly like this...

Well, Jim was sure that no one could blame him if his pants got a little tight. He cleared his throat, tugging on the hem of his uniform shirt to try and disguise the issue.

“I. Um. Uh... M-Mr. Spock, I... what are you doing here?”

“You wanted me here, sir,” Spock replied easily, walking over to Jim and arriving right in front of him in just a few steps. God, had his legs always been that long?

“Huh? I didn’t call you down-!”

Spock took his hand, and Jim’s brain stuttered to a stop. All he could was watch as his first officer raised his hand to his mouth, pressing a light kiss to Jim’s fingertip, then slowly pressed it against his lips until it went in.

Jim shivered, his heart beating wildly as Spock’s tongue- rougher than a human’s- wrapped around his finger. He heard T’Vin laugh, her arms wrapping around his waist as her head came to rest on his shoulder.

“You always did have such a lovely reaction when I sucked on your fingers, James,” she teased as her hand started to drift downward. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think that you were a Vulcan yourself.”

“I-I... um... uh.” Jim cleared his throat, whimpering a little when a hand- two hands, one T’Vin’s and one... god, one Spock’s- came to rest on the growing bulge between his legs.

None of this... none of this made any sense. T’Vin was dead, for crying out loud, and Spock... Spock would never...

Spock would never look at him like that, dark eyes shadowed by long, thick lashes with those lips wrapped around his fingers. He’d never have a delightful green flush high in his cheeks, his bangs brushed askew as his hand... his hand was squeezing Jim’s...

“Sp... Spock, wait, I...” Jim pulled his fingers out of Spock’s mouth, swallowing hard. “I, um, uh... y-you... you don’t really want to-!”

“Jim.”

His heart stuttered as Spock’s hands found his hips, pulling him closer. It occurred to him that T’Vin was no longer standing behind him, but he couldn’t bring himself to care about that.

Not when Spock was pressing up against him like this, chest to chest, his hand gently tilting Jim’s chin upward. His lips were turned up in a smile, and the look in his eyes was... well it could only be described as pure want.

And oh, Jim knew Spock wanted him. He could feel it in very, very clear detail, and quite frankly it was a little distracting, especially since it was pressed right up against his own, uh, want.

“I... Spock...”

Spock smiled, then started to lean in.

“Don’t overthink this, Jim,” he whispered. “You deserve to relax.”

Before Jim could respond, Spock kissed him, and he melted into it. A little voice in the back of his mind was screaming at him, reminding him of how many regulations they were probably breaking, and how awkward this was going to make Alpha shift, and he had Alice to think about, and he didn’t even like Spock like this, and- and-

And... and Spock was a really good kisser, damn. Jim wasn’t entirely sure when he’d opened his mouth, but Spock’s tongue was teasing his now and it was really doing something for him to have that rough tongue on him and...

Fuck it. Jim wrapped his arms around Spock’s neck, moaning when Spock’s hands found their way to his ass and squeezed. He’d feel guilty about all of this later- right now he wasn’t Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise, the man who’d saved Earth from a time-traveling, vengeance-crazed Romulan alongside his Vulcan first officer.

Right now, he was Jim Kirk, tired single dad who hadn’t gotten laid in five years and was super into this guy with his tongue down his throat, it was useless to deny it at this point.

He was pretty sure that Spock was about to shove his hand down his pants when his comm went off. He groaned, breaking the kiss and pulling it out of his pocket.

“K-Kirk here.”

“Find Sulu yet, Captain?”

“I-!” Spock’s lips found his jaw, and Jim’s mind went blank for a moment. “Uh... what?”

“Did you find Sulu, Jim?”

Spock’s lips had moved to his neck. Jim swallowed a moan, sure that Bones would make fun of him forever if he found out.

Or report him to Starfleet. Either or.

“N... No, um, not... not yet, but I’m sure he’s, he’s alright...”

“You... you okay there, kid? You sound a little out of breath.”

Probably because Spock’s hand had slipped under his shirt and he’d started teasing Jim’s nipples. Jim was having a lot of trouble keeping his knees from buckling at this point.

“Puh... Peachy, Bones.”

His comm beeped again.

“Rodriguez to Captain Kirk.”

Jim bit back a groan, finally shoving Spock off and taking a step back. He listened to the other man talk about birds, eventually ordering that they should all meet at the glade.

“Sorry, Spock, we better-!”

When he turned around, Spock was gone. He blinked, looking around the oasis. His comm beeped a third time.

“Uh... Kirk here.”

“Captain.”

“Spock? Hey, where the heck did you go?”

“Sir, I have not left the Enterprise, as per your orders.”

“Huh? But you were just here, you were-!” Kissing the life out of him. “Y-You were with me!”

“I assure you, Captain, I have not been down to the planet.”

“It’s true, Daddy, he’s been with me the whole time! Also, me an’ Pavel are mutinying.”

Jim blinked.

“Wait, buttercup, what do you mean that you and Chekov are mutinying?”

“W-We are not actually mutinying, Captain!” He heard a panicked yet slightly giggly Chekov clarify. “We are simply protesting the fact that we are not allowed to be part of landing party!”

“That’s because you’re underage, Mr. Chekov. Also, Alice, you’re four. You don’t work for Starfleet- you don’t even have a job.”

“I’m almost five! And I’m bored, Daddy. Mr. Spock is boring.”

He heard Chekov laugh, and he stifled a chuckle of his own.

“Yes, well, not everyone can be as cool as your daddy, sweetie. Anyway, uh, Mr. Spock, if you’re not too busy trying to stamp out the children’s crusade up there, could you tell me what you called about?”

“We are getting strange readings from the planet’s surface, Captain. There may be some sort of power field down there.”

Jim quirked an eyebrow.

“Could you be a little more specific?”

“It appears to be a highly sophisticated type of energy that is draining our power and increasing its own. It is beginning to affect our communications.”

“Can you pinpoint the source?”

“It could be coming from beneath the planet’s surface. Patterns would indicate some sort of industrial activity.”

“Well, that’s just... weird. Keep me posted, okay, Mr. Spock? We’ll continue investigating down here. Bye, buttercup!”

“Bye, Daddy! Good luck!”

He smiled, then signed off, sighing before furrowing his brow.

It didn’t make sense. Spock had been on the Enterprise this whole time, but he’d also been down here engaging in a rather vigorous make out session with him. It wasn’t a hologram or some kind of delusion- he’d definitely felt Spock’s hands all over him just a few minutes ago.

He bit his lip, then quietly tucked himself into his waistband before beginning his trek across the desert anew.

Whatever was going on down here, Jim wasn’t sure he liked it too much.

His comm rang again about half an hour later, and Spock did nothing to improve his mood with the admission that they hadn’t figured anything out yet.

“Well, you’re the science officer, Spock, I want some answers!” Jim demanded as he stopped to sit on a rock. “First there was Bones’ whole Alice in Wonderland with my daughter playing the title role thing, then Sulu found a gun, Rodriguez had his birds, and then my... well, uh, the people I saw.”

“Perhaps you were all hallucinating, Captain.”

“One of them knocked me on my back with a punch to the jaw, Spock.”

And the other two made out with him, Jim’s brain oh-so-helpfully supplied.

“That sounds like a painful reality.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” he muttered, glaring at the thankfully smooth area between his legs.

“There must be some logical explanation. Your signal is very weak, sir, can you turn up your gain?”

“It’s already on max.”

“Captain, shall I beam down an armed party?”

“No, Spock, we’ve still got our phasers. ‘Sides, there’s yet to be any real danger-!”

“Captain! Take cover, there’s a samurai after me!”

“What the- ugh, shoulda kept my mouth shut. Captain out.”

He never did see the samurai, and quite frankly between this and the whole musketeer thing Sulu had had going on with the polywater virus a month or two ago, Jim was starting to get a little concerned, but before he could voice that concern he was interrupted by Spock’s arrival on the planet. It took longer than usual, but he eventually materialized.

Jim fought a flush, the memory of what he and... whatever that Spock-like thing was had done flashing before his eyes.

“M-Mr. Spock. I believe my orders were that no one was to leave the ship. And that you were supposed to keep an eye on my daughter.”

“Necessary, Captain. I was unable to contact you by communicator, and the transporter is useless to us now. As I told you before, there’s an unusual power field down here. It’s soaking up all the energy at the source. I have calculated the rate of its growth and reasoned that I just might be able to transport one more person.”

“Well, we could use your help, but what about Alice?”

“I believe that she and Mr. Chekov are viewing a holovid in the ship’s theater, sir. She mentioned something about a wrinkle?”

Jim blinked, then rolled his eyes.

“A Wrinkle in Time, Spock. Which, by the way, she’s not supposed to watch without me because she gets scared whenever the It is onscreen and-!”

Both Spock and Sulu were staring at him, the former with an arched eyebrow and the latter looking far too amused. Jim flushed, clearing his throat.

“It’s uh, it’s a household favorite. Anyway, we... we should get going.”

“Captain, are you quite alright? You appear a bit flustered.”

Jim’s ears were burning.

“J-Just, uh, just a little hot, Spock, that’s all! Come on, let’s not keep the rest of the party waiting!”

He all but ran off before either of them could argue.

 


 

Spock blinked when the intercom in his quarters beeped, leaning over and answering it.

“Yes?”

“Uh, hey, Spock, it’s me. Can I come in?”

“Of course, Captain. One moment.”

He pressed a button, and the door to his quarters slid open to reveal a rather nervous-looking Kirk. Spock cleared his throat, rising out of his seat.

“Captain.”

“Uh, at ease, Spock. And it’s-!” Kirk bit his lip, his cheeks reddening slightly. Spock frowned, arching an eyebrow as he took a step towards him.

“Jim? Is everything alright?”

Strangely, the use of the captain’s first name seemed to fluster him even further, the flush spreading across his cheeks and reaching his ears.

“I, uh, yeah, just... s-sorry, Spock, it’s... it’s been a weird day.”

“I had assumed so. However, you do seem much more relaxed than you were before beaming down to the planet.”

Kirk- Jim snorted, shaking his head.

“Yeah, beating the crap out of an illusion of your childhood bully is a pretty good way to unwind, apparently. I... I gotta admit, Spock, you were right.”

“That is the case ninety-eight point seventy-three percent of the time, sir.”

“What about the other one point... uh... twenty-seven percent?”

He straightened.

“That would mainly be attributed to my initial impression of you, Jim.”

Jim blinked, then smiled, just a little.

“Aw, Spock...” He cleared his throat. “That’s uh, that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about, though... Alice told me what she wants for her birthday.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“And this has something to do with me?”

“Well, sort of... she wants to go to New Vulcan.”

Spock blinked.

“New... New Vulcan, Jim? Why?”

“Well... there’s a monument to the people who died when... y’know.”

“When Nero destroyed my homeworld and slaughtered nearly six billion Vulcans,” Spock replied, trying to keep the rage out of his voice. “I am aware of the monument, but what does-”

“She wants to see her mother’s name on it.”

Spock blinked, then felt a sinking feeling in his stomach.

“... Oh.”

“Yeah. I, uh, I guess... I guess she wants to feel... closer to her heritage, and, well, I... I don’t think I can deny her that after all that’s happened.” Jim cleared his throat. “So, um, what I’m asking is... do you... is there someone I need to contact, or...?”

“It may be necessary to contact Starfleet to get clearance for this, yes. However, if it is necessary, I... I may be able to use my own shore leave for this visit.”

Jim blinked, looking surprised.

“Wait, really? You’d... you’d do that?”

Spock felt himself flush, clearing his throat and looking away.

“I... It is important that Alice engages with her heritage, as you have stated. Besides, I... I have yet to see the colony for myself.”

Jim was smiling at him happily, which was... doing something very odd to his internal organs.

“Thanks, Spock. I really appreciate it.”

Spock’s felt his lips quirk again, and he suppressed it before turning back to the captain.

“You are welcome, Jim.”

Jim smiled again, then sighed, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Sir?”

“Oh, I’m fine, Spock, just... like I said, it was a long day, and well... Alice’s request kind of made it a little harder, considering what I saw down on the planet.”

“Ah, yes. You had believed that I was on the planet with you when I contacted you?”

Jim immediately turned bright red.

“Uh, um, y-yeah, I... sorry about that, Spock.”

“There is no need for apology, although I am now somewhat perturbed as to why you are blushing in this manner.”

Jim reddened even more, clearing his throat and looking away.

“I... well... I kind of... one of the people I saw down there was... it was T’Vin.”

Spock’s eyebrow inched higher.

“Alice’s mother?”

“Yeah, um... there were marigolds down there, and... she liked marigolds, so I started to think about her, and, well... she kissed me.”

An irrational spark of jealousy ran through Spock’s veins.

“I... I see. But... why did you believe that I was on the planet, then?”

“Uh, well... I may have... I might’ve thought about how she didn’t have bangs like yours, and well... there you were.”

Spock blinked, then cleared his throat, straightening slightly.

“I see. So, it was simply an accident.”

“Y-Yeah... sorry...” He sighed, shaking his head. “Honestly, you didn’t really interrupt anything that interesting. I was... honestly super confused the whole time, and the fact that T’Vin was wearing a wedding dress was really distracting.”

“You... imagined Alice’s mother in a wedding dress?”

“Yeah- not cause I wanted to marry her or anything, I just... well, I can’t just date someone casually anymore, Spock. Not with Alice to think of. Anyone I date will have to be okay with the idea that they might end up being Alice’s new mom. Or other dad. Or, like, a parent of no specific gender, I dunno.”

Spock’s brain was still attempting to process the phrase “other dad.”

“Spock? You okay over there?”

He blinked, then cleared his throat as his ears started to burn.

“I... I was simply surprised to hear you state that Alice’s other parent may not be... female, Captain.”

Jim blinked, then arched an eyebrow.

“Wait, Spock, did you... did you think I was straight?”

“I had assumed that you were heterosexual, due to the fact that you have a child, and that I have never directly observed you displaying any sort of romantic or sexual interest in anyone.”

“Wh- okay, one, straight people aren’t the only people allowed to have kids, and two... alright, so you have a point on that whole interest thing, as far as I can remember I haven’t even been on a date in two years, let alone...” Jim flushed a bit, clearing his throat. “Um. Well, you see my point. But, uh, no, I’m not straight, I’m pansexual.”

“I see. I apologize if I offended you with my assumption.”

“Huh? Oh, no, I’m not offended, Spock.”

Spock blinked, then arched an eyebrow of his own.

“Then why did you feel the need to inform me of your sexual orientation?”

“I dunno, because that’s kind of a thing friends tell each other?”

Spock’s other eyebrow rose. Jim flushed once more, crossing his arms.

“I mean, uh... unless you don’t consider us to be friends...”

“... I suppose we are friends, are we not?”

Jim blinked, then grinned.

Spock once again felt that strange sensation in his stomach.

He would have to meditate on this once Jim left.

Again.

 


 

2258.195

“Daddy, cut it out!” Alice chided as she attempted to squirm out of her father’s arms. Jim refused to acquiesce, instead applying more sunscreen to her cheeks.

“The climate of New Vulcan is supposed to be desert-like, buttercup, and that means that you could very easily get sunburned.”

“Daddy, I’m a Vulcan!”

“You’re half-Vulcan, and from personal experience I know that the Human half of you burns in two minutes unless you have sunscreen on.”

Alice rolled her eyes, then fixed her gaze on Spock.

“Mr. Spock, you’re half-Vulcan too, did you ever get sunburned when you were a little kid?”

“Not very often. Generally, Vulcans have skin that easily absorbs the rays of the sun that cause discoloration and discomfort.”

Alice turned to her father.

“See!”

Jim gave Spock a look, then released her.

“Well, for my own peace of mind, I want you to wear sunscreen.” He stood, walking over to Spock and holding out the bottle of lotion. “Here. Make sure she puts it on every couple of hours, alright?”

“Daddy, it’s my birthday!”

“No, yesterday was your birthday, today is just the day we made it to New Vulcan for your present. You’re wearing sunscreen.”

Alice made a face, folding her arms across her chest before stomping over to the transporter pad.

“Mr. Scotty, energize! Daddy’s a meanie-face!”

Scott snickered, covering his mouth with his hand.

“A... Afraid I can’t do that, Miss Alice. Can only energize if the captain or Mr. Spock approves.”

Alice huffed, and Jim rolled his eyes.

“Jim, I must agree with Alice on this. Her Vulcan physiology suggests that she will be perfectly fine staying in the sun for long periods of time.”

“Well her Human father says that sunburns are no fun at all and he doesn’t want her to risk it. Please just take the sunscreen.”

“Jim-!”

“Please, Spock? For my sake?”

The look on Jim’s face induced an odd reaction in Spock’s stomach, one that he would almost refer to as... fluttery. He cleared his throat, quickly taking the sunscreen and putting it in his own bag.

“Thank you. Now, we’ll be back to pick you guys up in three days, okay?”

“Okay, Daddy! Don’t worry so much, Mr. Spock will be with me the whole time.”

“Yeah, but this is the first time you’re going somewhere while I’m staying on the ship.”

Alice shrugged.

“Just do what I do- bug Uncle Bones all day.”

Jim snorted.

“Yeah, you’re my little girl, alright. Well, be safe, okay?”

“Okay! I love you, Daddy!”

Jim smiled, but there was more than a bit of melancholy in his eyes.

“I love you too, buttercup. You take good care of her, alright, Spock? I’m counting on you.”

As if she were my own.

Spock blinked, surprised by his own thought. It was certainly an illogical one- she was, by definition, not his child, as he would never be anyone’s father.

But... something deep within him was certain that if necessary, he would protect this child with his life.

He did not inform Jim of this, though. Instead, he simply agreed to Jim’s wish and stepped onto the transporter pad.

“Energize.”

 


 

New Vulcan, as Spock had read, was very much like Vulcan-that-was. A similar climate, red sand stretching on for miles and miles, mountains and plateaus rising high into the skyline in the distance... all it was missing was the towers and buildings of the cities.

The colony was still too new for that, of course. Instead, housing had been built within the hills, as it had been in Surak’s time.

Alice seemed delighted by this discovery.

“It’s like the Shire! But in a desert!” She declared before jumping into a pile of sand. Her boots sunk into it, and she giggled.

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“I was unaware that you had read the Lord of the Rings, Alice.”

Alice shook her head as she broke free of the sand.

“No, Daddy’s just reading me the Hobbit. He says it’s important to have a solid base in classic literature.”

Interesting. Perhaps the captain was more Vulcan-like than Spock had previously given him credit for.

Before he could voice this, however, the door to a nearby house opened, revealing Spock’s mother.

“Spock! There you are!” She called, hiking up her robe and jogging over to him. Her arms were around his neck before he could protest, although he found that he had very little desire to protest at all.

He did find Alice’s giggle to be somewhat... embarrassing, however.

“Oh, it’s been too long, sweetheart.”

“It has been five point three-!”

“Spock, just let me be a sappy mom for a moment, alright?” His mother insisted, smiling warmly at him. Spock’s own lips twitched upward involuntarily.

“Very well, Mother. However, I feel I should point out that it is rude not to introduce oneself to a new person upon first meeting them, even if the other person is five years of age.”

“Oh!” His mother smiled as she released him, turning to Alice and kneeling to her eye level. “I’m sorry, dear. You must be Alice, right?”

Alice nodded, then bowed.

“T’nar pak sorat y’rani, Ms. Mr. Spock’s Mom.”

Both Spock and his mother blinked, and Spock quirked an eyebrow. Alice grinned.

“Nyota taught me that. Did I do it right?”

“Well, yes, dear, but it’s a bit formal for someone your age,” his mother explained. “Most young Vulcans would say tonk’peh.”

“Oh.” Alice bowed once again. “Tonk’peh, Ms. Mr. Spock’s Mom.”

His mother laughed, shaking her head.

“You can just call me Amanda, sweetheart.”

“Okay, Ms. Amanda!”

His mother laughed again, then stood up, dusting off her robe.

“Well, come on in, then! We’ll get you all set up in the guest room, alright?”

“Kay!” Alice was practically bouncing as she took his mother’s hand. His mother turned to look at him, surprised.

“I will explain in a moment, Mother.”

She didn’t seem fully satisfied, but didn’t speak to him, instead chatting easily with Alice as they walked into the house.

The house was much smaller than the home he’d grown up in on Vulcan-that-was, which was logical- his childhood home had been built over the course of millenia, while this house had only been constructed within the past few months. It was also decorated in a more decidedly Human style, owing to the fact that his mother lived in it alone. There were more photos around the house, as well- it was practically a slideshow showing Sybok, Michael, and himself growing up, with a few photographs from his parents’ wedding ceremony, the Human one his mother had convinced his father to participate in.

There was, however, one thing that was extremely similar to his childhood home.

“Oh my gosh, a puppy!” Alice cried, sounding absolutely delighted as she ran over to the sehlat pup. “A huge puppy!”

“Mother, why is there a sehlat pup on your sofa?”

“Oh, that’s just I-Chaya, dear.”

“As I recall, I-Chaya passed away from old age when I was twelve.”

His mother rolled her eyes, though her smile belied her amusement.

“She’s I-Chaya the second, Spock.”

“She?”

“Yes, this one’s a girl. Isn’t she cute?”

I-Chaya the second had taken to licking Alice’s face, which had caused Alice to begin squealing happily as she scratched behind the pup’s ears.

“... I find her to be aesthetically pleasing to an extent.”

His mother rolled her eyes again, then walked over to Alice.

“Alright, dear, would you like to see your room?”

“I get my own room?!”

His mother blinked.

“Do... do you not have your own room on the ship?”

She shook her head.

“I have my own room on Earth, but I don’t sleep in it a lot.” Alice frowned. “There are monsters under that bed and tapping on the window. I can’t sleep in there.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“Alice, I sincerely doubt-!”

“Spock,” his mother interrupted gently before turning back to Alice. “Well, I promise, I checked and there are no monsters under the bed in the guest room. Do you wanna see?”

“Can I-Chaya come?”

His mother laughed.

“Yes, of course.”

“Kay! Come on, I-Chaya!”

The pup barked happily, following the two into the back of the house. He heard Alice gasp happily, followed by the sound of a soft thump and his mother laughing. A few minutes later, his mother exited the bedroom alone, closing the door behind her.

“She’s... she’s quite a character, isn’t she?”

“Though logically it is obvious, I believe it is accurate to say that she is her father’s daughter.”

His mother laughed again, shaking her head.

“She’s a lot more energetic than you were at that age, that’s for sure.”

Spock suppressed a flinch.

“That is to be expected, as Alice as spent most of her life around Humans and has mainly been raised as one by the captain.”

His mother quirked an eyebrow.

“And her mother agreed to that?”

“Her mother left her with Captain Kirk and his mother when Alice was three weeks old. As far as I know, that is the extent to which Alice’s mother was involved in her life before her death.”

His mother’s eyes widened briefly before her expression softened.

“I see... and she wanted to come see the monument for her birthday?”

“I cannot be certain, but I believe she desires to connect with her mother’s culture, if not her mother herself.”

His mother sighed, shaking her head.

“Poor thing... I’ll bet she’s glad to have you around, though.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow as he looked at her.

“How so?”

His mother gave him a look.

“Because you know what she’s going through, don’t you? You two are two of a kind.” She chuckled. “Well, three of a kind, really.”

Before Spock could question her, the doorbell rang, and his mother went to answer it.

“Oh, hello! I wasn’t expecting you so soon!”

His mother embraced whoever it was, then stepped back to allow them in.

A moment later, much to his surprise, Spock found himself face to face with his older counterpart once more.

“Ambassador,” he greeted, quirking an eyebrow.

“Commander,” his counterpart responded, quirking an eyebrow of his own. “I was not aware that you would be visiting our mother.”

“I was not aware that our mother knew of your existence.”

“Spock, really, it’s not that big of a colony,” his mother started before putting her hands on her hips and quirking an eyebrow of her own. “Plus, I spent almost twenty-four hours pushing you out of my body. Do you honestly think I wouldn’t recognize my own child, no matter how old you got?”

“Mother, please,” both Spock the younger and Spock the elder pleaded. His- their mother laughed, shaking her head.

“Some things never change, I see. Anyway, the ambassador and I have lunch together a few times a week. Michael joined us when she was on shore leave a few weeks ago.”

“I have found it quite pleasant to spend time with our mother and sister,” the ambassador commented.

The ‘again’ went unstated, although it hung in the air.

It was logical, of course, that neither Spock’s mother nor Michael would still be alive at the point in time the ambassador had come from. Both were only Human, after all, and thus would not live as long as Spock or any other Vulcan.

Still, the confirmation that both had passed by the Ambassador’s time was... distressing to hear. Thus, he found that he could not fault the Ambassador for wishing to spend time with the two of them.

“Mr. Spock, Ms. Amanda, I’m hungry-! Oh. Tonk’peh, mister!”

Both Spock and his elder self turned toward her, raising an eyebrow. Alice tilted her head.

“Mr. Spock, is this your grandpa?”

Spock heard his mother snicker behind him; his counterpart seemed rather amused at the question.

“No, little one, I am not Spock’s grandfather. I am Ambassador S’chn T’gai Spock, son of Sarek.”

Alice blinked.

“I don’t get it.”

“In a sense, I am Spock. A future Spock, from a timeline both very similar and very different from this one.”

“So... you’re both Mr. Spock? Shouldn’t that cause some kind of temporal paradox?”

Spock’s counterpart arched an eyebrow.

“I believe that this timeline differs enough from my own that the commander and I could be seen as two different people. You’re quite well-spoken for someone your age.”

“Daddy says that it’s cause I’m a Vulcan and a Kirk. Hey, if there’s another Mr. Spock, does that mean that there’s another Daddy?”

His counterpart’s smile fell, unmistakable sadness flashing in his eyes.

“... There was.”

Alice’s face fell, and she turned her gaze to the floor.

“Oh...” She cleared her throat, looking back up at the Ambassador. “Tushah nash-veh k’odu.”

His counterpart blinked, then smiled once more.

“Thank you, little one. I am sure that he would have been quite happy to know you.”

“Course he would,” Alice replied easily. “He’s my daddy.”

Spock could not help how his lips twitched upward at that.

 


 

“Would you get out of my sickbay already!”

Jim whined as Bones pushed him out the door.

“But Bones, I’m bored!”

“That sounds like the absolute opposite of my problem, kid. Swear to god, if you get this miserable over your daughter being gone for a few days, I can’t imagine how bad you’re gonna be when she heads off to college.”

“Don’t remind me,” Jim groaned. “She’s growing up so fast, Bones, I can’t stand it!”

“Yeah, welcome to my life, now get! Go, I don’t know, drink or something. Watch a porno, get some paperwork done, gorge yourself on meat, hell, swear, whatever it is you can’t do with her around! Just leave me alone!”

Before Jim could respond, the door to the medbay slammed shut in his face. He huffed, straightening out his uniform.

“Some friend you are,” he muttered before heading back towards his quarters.

His extremely empty quarters. With no little girls to read to, or to hug, or to sing to, or-!

Okay, so maybe Bones was right. Maybe he’d been a dad so long, he’d forgotten how to be just Jim.

He sighed as he entered his quarters, prying off his boots and flopping onto the bed face first. With no Alice, it was a lot roomier, but it felt... empty. Lonely.

He wasn’t too fond of feeling lonely.

Jim groaned, turning over so that he was lying on his back and staring at the ceiling.

Alice and Spock were staying with Spock’s mother on New Vulcan. Right now, they were probably finishing up dinner. Alice was probably asking Spock a million questions, and he was probably answering them dutifully and patiently as always.

He might even smile.

Spock had a nice smile, when he let himself smile. And such nice, dark eyes... and such a gorgeous green flush-!

Jim groaned again, covering his face with his hands. Ever since that... encounter with the fake T’Vin and Spock on that shore leave, he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Spock.

Which, to be fair, wasn’t exactly new. His first officer had often crept into his thoughts for the past few months, much to his own frustration.

After that shore leave incident, though, it had taken a sharp turn towards... well, towards the sexual.

Extremely sexual. If he’d thought that having sex with the fake Spock would have made things awkward on Alpha shift, then not having sex with the fake Spock brought it up to eleven awkwardness-wise. Everytime he managed to catch sight of Spock’s ass in those tight, tight regulation pants when he bent over at his console, well... he hadn’t practiced the old waistband tuck so much since he was fifteen. Going to the gym was almost impossible- not when there was a chance he’d catch Spock waling on a punching bag, clad only in sweat pants and a loose-fitting tank top.

And if, god forbid, Spock had ever wanted to spar with him, there was absolutely no way he’d be able to keep himself from going off like a shot in his pants.

And then Spock would know, everyone would know, and that would be the end of James T. Kirk, Captain of the USS Enterprise.

Of course, his dick didn’t care about any of that. The minute he’d thought about Spock’s ass, it had gone straight to attention. He glared down at the tent in his pants, which of course didn’t diminish no matter what he tried.

Probably because he hadn’t jerked off since the shore leave incident. He couldn’t let himself do it, couldn’t take the chance that Spock would hear him in the shower, or worse, Alice would hear him.

But... Alice and Spock weren’t here. They were both down on New Vulcan, would be for the next few days.

He had the place all to himself.

Jim bit his lip, then sighed, stripping out of his uniform top and black undershirt before shoving off his pants. He took off his socks slowly, trying to talk himself out of this before it was too late to stop. Before he knew it, though, he was sitting on the bed in just his boxer-briefs, glaring at the tent in them.

Fuck it.

That was the last thing Jim thought before shoving his hand in his shorts. He hissed at the feeling of skin on skin, relishing in the sensation he’d denied himself for far too long. He pulled his underwear down past his thighs, gripping himself at the base before slowly starting to stroke.

He wondered what it would feel like to have Spock’s hand stroking him instead of his own. Would Spock be gentle with him? He couldn’t imagine him whispering sweet nothings, but... somehow rough didn’t seem to fit either.

Did Vulcans even give handjobs? He knew they were weird about their hands- high sensitivity, in a good way. Must be amazing when they jerked it.

Wait... did Vulcans masturbate? He knew T’Vin did- now that had been a fun night. But T’Vin hadn’t exactly been a run-of-the-mill Vulcan, so for all he knew, Spock hadn’t ever...

Jim shivered, pressing down on the slit of his cock with his thumb. Oh, but wasn’t that a pretty idea, Spock with his face all flushed and his hand wrapped around his...

Well, it was probably a cock. T’Vin had mentioned how different Jim’s dick was from Vulcan penises, and... okay, so maybe Jim had peeked in the gym shower for a split second. It was mostly an accident, and he hadn’t been able to discern anything about it other than the fact that it existed. And since Humans and Vulcans could cross-breed, it probably looked like Jim’s to some extent.

It was probably green, like the rest of Spock. Green and... maybe a little longer than Jim’s, but thinner.

Yeah. Long, lean, and god, gorgeous. The things he could do with that cock... he wondered what Spock would look like while Jim sucked him off. Would he moan? Whimper? Blush?

Beg for more?

That might not get him to beg, though. No, he’d need more...

Maybe if Jim took those long, perfect fingers and guided them between his legs, then lower and lower until they reached Jim’s...

He groaned, thrusting up into his own hand. Warmth had started to pool deep in his gut, and he knew he wouldn’t last much longer now.

He’d make Spock lose it, he knew he could. He’d spread his legs and take Spock in, inch by inch, slowly at first, then hard and fast, stopping every once in a while to grind down and clench on him, making him more and more desperate until Spock finally couldn’t take it anymore and flipped them over. He’d start pounding Jim then, going in so deep and filling him up so perfectly, they’d both be moaning and gasping, and then Spock would let out a guttural cry and just... press his lips to Jim’s and-!

“Fuck, Spock!”

A ribbon of white erupted from Jim’s cock just as pleasure overwhelmed him, his hips jutting up into the air as he cried out and stroked himself through it. He shook with the force of it, panting and gasping until he finally collapsed back onto the bed, trying to catch his breath.

Holy shit.

Holy shit.

He hadn’t had an orgasm like that since... well, since T’Vin.

Jim was dimly aware of the cooling mess on his thigh, but he found that he couldn’t be bothered to clean it up.

If just fantasizing about Spock was enough to get him off like that, then what would actually having sex with the guy be like?

Jim blinked, then grimaced, shaking his head.

It was useless to wonder about that. It would never happen.

And Jim was never, ever going to use his first officer as wank fodder again.

 


 

Jim ended up thinking about Spock while jerking off five times over the next two days.

He might be a little in over his head.

 


 

2258.196

Alice was quieter than Spock had ever seen her while she looked at her mother’s name on the monument. Her face, normally so expressive, was completely, carefully blank.

It was... a troublesome departure from her earlier behavior.

Spock was not sure that he appreciated this change. He understood it, of course- he too had felt the need to become stone-faced upon reading his father’s name on the monument- but Alice was not him. Alice was bright, exuberant, and above all else, emotional.

For her to suddenly show no emotion was troubling indeed. Especially since she kept the act up for the rest of the day, speaking only to bid him and his mother a good night before going to bed.

It was not until approximately 2200 hours that any sound came from her room. At first, it was simply a gasp, then a whimper, until soon enough a quiet, steady stream of sobs was flowing out of her room.

Spock froze, quickly placing the PADD he’d been reading from onto his bed and getting up. He hesitated in front of her door for only a second, then knocked, only to find the door had not been shut at all. He could make out two forms on the bed- one Alice, and one I-Chaya the second. Alice’s form was shaking in the moonlight- something that Spock was unused to, since Vulcan-that-was had no moon.

“Alice?” He inquired gently as he took a step into Alice’s room. “Is... is everything alright?”

Alice let out a small squeak, her small form flopping back onto the bed and burrowing into the blanket.

“I-I’m fine! S... Sorry to wake you, Mr. Spock...”

I-Chaya whined, walking over to Alice and nudging her with her snout. Spock hesitated, then walked over to her bedside and kneeled down.

“Fine has variable definitions, Alice, and in this case, I’m not sure that any of them apply to you. Why are you crying?”

“I-I’m not...”

“You have been. Did you have a nightmare?”

A pause, then Alice shook her head.

“No? Then perhaps... would you like to contact your father?”

She shook her head once more.

“He... he wouldn’t understand...”

“What wouldn’t the captain understand, Alice?”

She shook her head again.

“You wouldn’t understand either...”

“You cannot be certain of that if you do not tell me what has upset you-!”

“Yes I can! I know that your mommy loves you, Mr. Spock!”

Spock blinked, then quirked an eyebrow.

“My... my mother?”

“Your mommy loves you, and... and Nana loves Daddy, but my... my mother didn’t want...”

A sinking sensation occurred in Spock’s stomach when he realized what she meant.

“You are upset because your mother abandoned you,” he murmured.

Alice shook her head once more.

“No. Well, yes.” She sighed. “I dunno... I love Daddy lots and lots, and I’m glad he’s my daddy, but... my mother didn’t want to be my mother, but... I-I’m still... I’m still sad that she’s gone, and I don’t...”

“Alice...”

Alice finally sat up, and in the dim light of the moon, Spock could make out the tear tracks on her face.

“I-I don’t know why I’m sad, Mr. Spock. I don't... I don’t think I loved her at all, I never even really knew her, but she...”

“She was your mother. For Vulcans, that is a bond that runs deep, starting before we are born. You are grieving, as are all Vulcans.” He hesitated, then gently placed his hand on Alice’s back. “The loss of Vulcan-that-was... it is becoming known as Va’Pak, the Immeasurable Loss. We all feel the same pain from it, we all feel the loss of those we did not even know. Perhaps it is not logical, but... grief very rarely is.”

“M-Mr. Spock...”

“Your feelings may not seem to make sense, but that does not mean they aren’t real. Do you understand, Alice?”

Alice stared at him, her eyes wide and wet, then suddenly whimpered, diving forward and wrapping her arms around his torso. Spock blinked in surprise, but as she sobbed into his chest, he found he had no desire to push her away.

He simply could not deny her this small comfort.

 


 

2258.317

Spock had been avoiding him.

Well, that was kind of inaccurate. Ever since the incident on Omicron Ceti III, Spock had basically been avoiding everyone outside of work . At first, Jim had assumed he’d just been embarrassed about being so openly emotional in front of everyone, but that didn’t explain why he’d been avoiding Alice, whom he’d become quite close with since her birthday. Alice had told him how he’d comforted her after she was upset about her mother- surely he wouldn’t been embarrassed about being emotional in front of her.

Jim was stumped, and honestly, after everything that had happened? He was a little hurt. He knew that he’d said some awful shit to get Spock to snap out of it, but he’d apologized and made up for it by learning how to make plomeek soup from scratch.

He still counted the look of surprise and delight on Spock’s face when he’d tasted it as a great victory. Let it never be said that Jim Kirk couldn’t cook anything and make it delicious.

So, yeah, Jim was stumped. And he was really sick of being stumped.

Which was why, after three weeks of being avoided, Jim finally just asked Spock to meet him in his ready room.

“Captain? You wanted to speak with me about the progress on the Muldernite plant?”

Jim grinned sheepishly.

“Actually, no. Sulu told me about it an hour ago. That was just a lie to get you to come in here.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“Sir?”

“Jim. Spock, you’ve been avoiding me.”

“I have not-!”

“You’re right, you’ve been avoiding everyone, including Alice, and she knows you have emotions, Spock. Ever since the whole pod plant thing, you’ve pretty much spent all your time in your room when you’re not working. You won’t talk to anyone if it’s not work-related, you’re even more rigid than usual, and you... Spock, I’m worried about you.”

Spock blinked, his eyes widening a bit.

“You... you are...?”

“Of course I am! You’re my friend, Spock, I care about you! And I know that... that losing your control like that is probably awful, it’s everything you strive to keep from happening, and I... I just want to help.”

“Jim...” Spock swallowed, shuffling a bit. “I... I cannot...”

“Spock, what happened down there clearly freaked you out. I promise, whatever you need to say, it’ll stay here. Completely confidential.”

Spock... well, Spock bit his lip, and Jim’s concentration was slightly lessened, but he was pretty sure that he hid it well.

Then he sighed.

“It... it is about... what happened between Dr. Kalomi and myself.”

Jim blinked, then grinned.

“Wait, are you... Spock, are you just embarrassed because-!”

“It is not embarrassment, Jim. I am... I felt violated.”

Jim’s grin immediately fell.

“V... Violated?”

“Yes. Dr. Kalomi... she had feelings for me, feelings that I did not return. However, while under the influence of the spores, I...”

Oh. Oh, god.

“Okay, Spock? I know that I said that this could all be confidential, but if... if something happened-!”

“Captain, you misunderstand. At no point did Dr. Kalomi and I engage in...” The tips of Spock’s ears turned green. “In sexual intercourse. I do not mean to imply that I was... assaulted. However, I... I find myself uncomfortable with what she and I did, as I had not...”

Spock trailed off, and Jim took a step towards him.

“You hadn’t what?”

“... I had never... I had never kissed a woman before.”

Jim blinked.

“You... wait, so... so she was your first kiss?”

Spock was definitely blushing now.

“That... that is not what I said, Jim. I had not kissed a woman before.”

Jim’s heart stopped, then started up at a new, stuttering pace.

“Y... You, you mean...” Jim cleared his throat. “Spock, are you, uh, are you saying you’ve kissed guys before?”

“I have, though it has been... some time since I engaged in that particular activity.”

“Oh.” Be cool, Jim. Don’t let him know that you’ve got a massive crush on him and this information is kinda feeding the flames. “So, uh, have you just not, y’know... kissed a woman because you’ve never had the opportunity, or-?”

“I have had... ample opportunity, I simply... have never been interested in such things with women.”

“Ah.”

Well, that... that explained a few things. Like why Spock hadn’t shown interest in any of Mudd’s women, despite the pheromones, or was decidedly uninterested in the objectively attractive Christine Chapel, or why he’d looked as uncomfortable as Sulu did with the replicas of Bones’ showgirls.

He’d attributed it to Spock’s Vulcan half, but... maybe he’d been uncomfortable for the same reason Sulu was uncomfortable.

“So... are you gay, then?”

“I had not thought to label myself, but as that term appears to fit as of this time... I suppose so.”

“Huh.” Don’t say anything stupid, this is probably really big for him. “Neat.”

Dammit.

“My discomfort with what happened between Dr. Kalomi and myself, then, is a result of my discomfort with the fact that such a preference appeared to be of no concern to the colonists, and I may have ended up in a more... intimate situation with someone I did not have any affection for.” He straightened. “And then I considered it further, and realized that that may be exactly what has happened to some of those colonists.”

Jim’s eyes widened.

“I... shit, I didn’t even think about that...”

“I am uncertain as to whether the colonists have either. From personal experience, I can confirm that while under the influence of the spores, I... I was happy to do the things I did. I wanted to, but I... I cannot fathom ever doing so while still in control of myself. Especially not with...”

“Spock... so the reason for you avoiding everyone else is...?”

“It has nothing to do with the crew specifically, I simply...the incident forced me to reexamine certain truths about my sexuality that I had not considered for some time, and I... I found myself conflicted.”

“Conflicted?”

“I am a member of an endangered species, yet my own attraction makes it unlikely that I will ever enter a union that could produce a child.”

Jim swallowed, then shook his head.

“Spock... look, you can’t put all of that on yourself. Maybe you’ll have biological kids, maybe you won’t, but you can’t guilt yourself over something that you literally can’t help.”

“I am aware, Captain, and in any case, even if I were attracted to women, it would be a moot point.”

Jim blinked, then cocked his head to the side.

“Uh... what does that mean?”

“Due to my hybrid physiology, it is highly unlikely that I will ever be able to father a child.”

Jim’s eyes widened, his heart sinking a little.

“Wh... What?”

“It is unlikely that I will ever have children of my own, Captain.” He paused, arching an eyebrow when he saw Jim’s expression. “Is... is something the matter, Jim?”

“Eh? Oh, no, it’s... well.” Jim sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. “It’s just... I know that it’d be up to Alice if she wanted kids one day or not, and it’s a long ways away, but... well, I’m a little worried about how she’ll take it-!”

“That may be unnecessary, Jim. Alice and I may share a heritage, but we do have some key differences. For one, I was conceived through embryo implantation, while Alice...” Spock’s ears turned green again, and he coughed. “Well, I assume she was conceived in the normal manner.”

“I mean, I didn’t see T’Vin stealing a vial of my spunk or anything, so I’m assuming so.”

Spock, apparently, could turn a very bright green when he was embarrassed enough. Jim would feel bad, but to be perfectly honest it was downright adorable.

“Yes. Well. In any case, it may be that the artificial nature of my conception is a key factor in my own inability to have children. It may be that Alice has no trouble conceiving, should she choose to do so.”

Jim sighed in relief.

“Thank god. I mean, it’s a long, long ways off, and for all I know Alice won’t want kids for whatever reason, but at least she’ll have the choice.” Jim flinched. “Er, sorry, Spock, I didn’t mean-!”

“I take no offense, Jim. As I have stated previously, were I to enter a union, the likelihood that my partner would even be able to bear children- let alone want to- is extremely low.”

No specific percentage. Spock must be uncomfortable with that reality, then.

“Well, yeah, but there’s always adoption, right?”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“Adoption, Captain?”

“Yeah- wait, do Vulcans not have adoption?”

“We do. However, I had never considered it in reference to myself.”

Jim blinked.

“Uh... why not? Do you just... not want kids?”

He’d never say it out loud, but a tiny, tiny part of Jim was really hoping that Spock would say he did.

“That is not...” Spock looked... almost pained, briefly. “You must understand, Jim, I... I was informed of my probable infertility at a young age.”

Jim quirked an eyebrow.

“How young are we talking here?”

“... I was eleven Terran years of age.”

His eyes widened.

“Eleven Terran-! Spock! Jesus, they told you that you can’t have kids when you were just barely starting puberty?”

Spock blushed again.

“It was at that point that it became clear that my... anatomy differed enough from both Vulcans and Humans that... it seemed logical at the time to inform me of the reality. However, I do recall my mother reacting in a similar manner to how you are reacting now.”

“Well, yeah, because Humans generally don’t spring something like that on a kid when we can help it.”

“I see. That may have been a... kinder choice. As it stands, I had been so focused on the idea that I will not be able to be a biological parent, I had not considered that there are other ways to be one.”

Jim smiled.

“Well, just... remember that from now on, yeah? Someday, when you’re with the right person, cause let me tell you, as much as I love Alice being a single dad is hard.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow, looking highly amused.

“Noted, Captain.”

Jim laughed, then paused before clearing his throat.

“So, uh... does, does anyone else know that you’re... y’know...”

“Gay, Jim?”

Jim cleared his throat again, willing himself not to blush.

“Yup.”

“... Lieutenant Uhura is aware.”

“Wh- Uhura? Why does Uhura know?”

Spock blushed lightly.

“She... was attracted to me early on in this assignment, and attempted to... ask me on a date. I felt it necessary to disabuse her of the notion that I would ever reciprocate, and so I... disclosed that I had not ever experienced attraction to a woman.”

Ah. Well. No wonder Uhura had been kind of awkward around Spock for like a week.

“So, then... Uhura and I are the only ones who know?”

“On this ship. I would assume my counterpart is aware, since he is me in a sense.”

Jim resisted the urge to roll his eyes. He was still a little annoyed at Spock and old Spock for the whole “never the two selves shall meet” crap they’d pulled. His Spock had apologized, but old Spock had simply gone on about how he’d just “implied it” and let Jim come to his own conclusions, all with that twinkle in his eye that suggested it was something he learned from Jim’s own counterpart way back when.

He was starting to wonder if the relationship between old Spock and old Jim wasn’t quite as frustratingly platonic as his was with his own Spock.

Not that he didn’t like being friends with Spock. Sure, being friends with a Vulcan was a little different from being friends with, say, Bones, but he liked spending time with Spock, and playing chess, and talking to him, and he liked how Spock’s lips would twitch upward whenever Jim managed to amuse him, as if he was trying not to smile-!

And, okay. Yeah. Jim had it bad. Like, stupid bad, worse than he’d ever had it before. And yeah, even now that he knew that Spock was gay, it didn’t mean that Spock was into him, would ever be into him.

But, y’know. Can’t stamp out every little bit of hope.

“Okay. Well, uh, I’m... I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to tell me.”

“I had wished to do so when you disclosed your own sexual orientation to me, Captain, but, well... I had not been comfortable thinking about until this incident forced me to do so.”

“Hey, you don’t have to disclose anything before you’re ready to. It’s nobody’s business but your own, y’know?”

Spock’s lips twitched upward.

“Indeed, Jim.”

And, well, Jim couldn’t help it if his stomach started to do somersaults.

 


 

October 18th, 1930

Jim stumbled as he and Spock fell into the past, Spock’s grip the only thing keeping him from tumbling into the street. His eyes were wide as he looked around, unable to keep from grinning like an excited schoolboy.

“Holy shit, Spock, it worked!”

“Indeed, Captain. We appear to be on Earth, circa the beginning of the Great Depression. It was a time of great economic upheaval.”

“I’ve seen it in pictures, but seeing stuff like this in real life-!”

Two old ladies carrying paper shopping bags passed them by, giving them odd looks. Spock drew back, covering his ears as casually as he could, while Jim folded his arms across his chest.

“Think we might stick out a little, Spock.”

“I believe I will be difficult to explain in any case, Captain.”

“We’ll... we’ll find you a hat, or- or I’ll, uh, I’ll think of something.”

“That should prove interesting.”

After a few more people passed them by, they quickly made their way out of the alley, although Spock nearly got hit by a car. Soon after, they found some clothes hanging in another alley- Spock was a bit dubious about stealing, but Jim managed to convince him to go with it.

Unfortunately, once Jim managed to get the clothes, they had a new problem- an old timey policeman.

“Well?” The policeman asked.

“Y... You’re a police officer. I, uh, I recognize the traditional accoutrements.” He glanced at Spock, who quirked an eyebrow.

“You were saying you’ll have no trouble explaining it,” Spock said coolly. Jim gave him a look, then turned back to the policeman.

“Uh... well...” Jim wracked his brain for a believable excuse. “My... my friend is obviously... Chinese.”

Yeah, that sounded plausible and implicitly racist enough for this time period. Or at least, it was for the policeman, who seemed a bit less perturbed about Spock, although his gaze did go to Spock’s ears.

“I see you’ve noticed the ears! They- They’re actually easy to explain.” He looked at Spock imploringly.

“Perhaps the unfortunate accident I had as a child?” He suggested.

“Yes, the unfortunate accident he had as a child! He caught his head in a mechanical... rice picker.”

He could feel Spock’s look of incredulity.

“Y-Yeah, a rice picker. But, uh, fortunately there was a... an American missionary living close by who was actually a, uh... skilled plastic surgeon in civilian life-!”

“Alright, alright! Drop those bundles and put your hands on that wall there! Come on!”

Jim and Spock exchanged looks as they dropped the clothes, moving to put their hands on the wall.

“Oh, how careless of your wife to let you go out like that!” Jim started as the officer started searching them.

“Wh-?”

“Yes, it’s quite untidy. Here, let me help,” Spock stated just before reaching over and knocking the officer out with a nerve pinch.

They quickly gathered up whatever clothes they could carry, tearing down the alley and through the streets as police whistles got closer and closer. They managed to duck into a basement, blocking the door behind them before finally stopping to catch their breaths.

“R... Rice picker, Captain...?” Spock finally asked after a moment, eyebrow quirked as always.

“Sh... Shut up, it was the best I could do on short notice! Besides, you were totally cackling in your head while I floundered, weren’t you? You... you’re more human than you let on, y’know.”

Spock’s lips twitched.

“There’s no reason to insult me, sir.”

Jim rolled his eyes, then started separating out the clothes. It was... honestly super tempting to glance at Spock’s butt while they undressed, but he also knew that the United States circa 1930 was not the best time to be anything other than white, straight, cisgender and born there, so it was probably not the best time to display any attraction towards his very male XO.

Spock told him that they probably had about a week before Bones got here and did... whatever Bones did to fuck up the future like this, although he couldn’t be quite certain. Jim pointed out that Bones could arrive literally anywhere on Earth in the next week, but Spock told him of a theory that there might be something here and now that would attract Bones’ presence and give him a way to change the future- or rather, their present. He admitted that he couldn’t be sure what without a way to examine the images in the tricorder, bristling a little when Jim asked if he could just build a computer that could.

Admittedly, he probably should have guessed that even Spock couldn’t build a computer in the 1930’s, but Spock did seem a little intrigued when Jim suggested that it would be quite the exercise in logic, baiting him further when he suggested that he might be expecting too much of Spock.

Spock would almost certainly get it done within the week now, if only to subtly rub Jim’s face in it. He had to admit, it was kind of cute.

And that was when the door to the basement opened.

“Who’s there?”

Both Spock and Jim froze for a second; Spock moved first, running out of sight to cover his ears with a beanie Jim had grabbed. Jim walked over to the foot of the stairs.

“E-Excuse us, miss...” He trailed off, his eyes widening when he saw the woman at the top of the flight. There, standing right in front of him in a basement located in America circa 1930, was the spitting image of Alice’s mother.

There were a few differences, of course. Her skin was pale, but with more pink undertones than green and yellow. Her hair was still brown, but it was pinned up instead of flowing down her back. Jim couldn’t see her ears, but they weren’t sticking out and pointy like T’Vin’s. Her eyebrows followed the shape of her eyes rather than staying in diagonal lines, too.

But she still had T’Vin’s face. Same dark, dark eyes, high cheekbones, long, thin nose and pointed chin...

Still just as beautiful.

Spock cleared his throat, and Jim quickly snapped out of it, grinning sheepishly.

“S-Sorry, um... we, uh, we didn’t mean to trespass. It’s cold outside.”

“A lie is a very poor way to say hello. It isn’t that cold.”

Somehow, she sounded just like T’Vin, too.

“I... well, no. You’re right, it’s not that cold, we... we were being chased by a policeman.”

“Why?”

“For these clothes. We... we stole them. Didn’t have any money.”

T’Vin’s doppelganger hesitated, then cleared her throat, glancing around the basement.

“Well, I could do with some help around here- doing dishes, sweeping, general cleaning.”

“At what rate of payment?” Spock inquired. Jim turned to give him a look, and Spock quirked an eyebrow. “I need radio tubes and so forth. My hobby.”

“Fifteen cents an hour for ten hours a day. What are your names?”

“Mine’s Jim Kirk. And he’s... uh... Spock.”

The woman arched an eyebrow.

“Is... that his first, or last name?”

Spock opened his mouth to reply, probably with the same “my surname cannot be pronounced by Humans” bullshit he’d given Jim.

Which, y’know, not great for the whole “laying low” thing.

“I-It’s Grayson!” Jim said quickly. “His, uh... his first name. It’s Grayson. Grayson Spock.”

Spock looked practically bewildered for a Vulcan before clearing his throat.

“Yes, that is my name. However, I prefer to be addressed by my surname.”

The woman seemed surprised, but smiled after a moment.

“I’m Edith Keeler. You can start by cleaning up down here.”

She turned to go.

“Uh, wait, excuse me, miss? Would, uh... would you mind telling us where we are?”

“You’re in the 21st Street Mission.”

“Oh. Do, uh, do you run this place?”

“Indeed I do, Mr. Kirk.”

Edith smiled once more before heading back up the stairs. Jim kind of felt like Finnegan had just laid him out with one of his punches, but in a good way.

Spock was staring at him oddly when he turned around, and he couldn’t help but flush.

“... Radio tubes?”

“I will need them if I am to construct a device to view the images on the tricorder, sir.” Spock quirked an eyebrow. “Grayson Spock?”

“You looked like you were about to repeat that whole thing about Humans being unable to say your real last name, and no sane, loving parent on Earth around... uh... 1902 would name their child ‘Spock.’ Just... trust me on that, okay?”

Spock looked as though he wanted to say something else, but seemed to decide against it, instead grabbing a broom. Jim did as well, unable to keep the smile off his face.

Edith Keeler.

What a lovely name for a lovely woman like her.

 


 

October 21st, 1930

“Goodnight, sweetheart, though I’m not beside you...”

“Goodnight, sweetheart,” Jim sang under his breath as he walked alongside Edith, “still my love will guide you...”

“You have a lovely voice,” Edith commented, a small smile on her face. Jim laughed a little, shaking his head.

“Yeah, that’s what my mom tells me. Made it easier to get Alice to go to sleep when she was little.”

“Alice?”

“My daughter,” Jim elaborated. “She’s five, I... I had to leave her back home for now.”

“I see. Her and her mother?”

Jim couldn’t help but smirk at Edith.

“What’s with the curiosity all of a sudden?”

Edith, to his delight, flushed a little at that.

“Well, you don’t wear a wedding ring, so... now, perhaps you had to pawn it, but-!”

“Nah, I’m not married. Actually, um, Alice... well, her mother’s not around anymore.”

Edith’s gaze softened.

“I see... that must be hard, having to leave your child behind.”

“Yeah, but I’m sure I’ll see her again soon enough.”

Edith smiled, then cleared her throat.

“Why does Mr. Spock call you captain? Were you in the war together?”

Jim snorted.

“Well, we served together.”

“And you don’t want to talk about it? Why?” Edith’s expression became concerned as she put a hand on his arm. “Did you- did you do something wrong? Are you afraid of something?”

Well, Jim was afraid of a lot of things. Something happening to Alice, food shortages, losing his crew, one of his hundred and one allergies finally killing him, Uhura like half the time, Chapel the other half the time, finding out just where Bones kept his seemingly endless supply of hypos on his person, and of course, Spock ever finding out just how Jim really felt about him.

But in this moment, he found those things weren’t so scary anymore. Not with Edith looking at him like that.

“Whatever it is, let me help,” she finished quietly, sincerely.

His heart leapt at the sound, and he chuckled.

“‘Let me help.’ Y’know, I’ll bet you anything that a hundred or so years from now, a famous novelist will write a classic using that theme. He’ll recommend those three words even over ‘I love you.’”

Edith laughed.

“Centuries from now? Who is he? Where does he come- oh, where will he come from?”

Jim grinned, shaking his head.

“Well, I can’t say for sure, but you know, I think...” He pointed up at the sky. “I think it’ll be a planet circling that far left star in Orion’s Belt.”

She laughed again, then looked up at him, her eyes twinkling in the starlight.

If he hadn’t been sure she would have slapped him, Jim would have kissed her then and there.

But god, did he want to.

 


 

2258.360

Even without touching him, Spock knew exactly how the captain was feeling. The pain was obvious in his eyes, in the way he stood.

It was as if all the light in him had been snuffed out the instant that car struck Edith Keeler. He had seen Jim this way before, shortly after Kodos’ death when he confessed his experiences on Tarsus IV to Spock, but... this was different. That pain had been long buried, unearthed by the death of a friend and the subsequent events, but this?

This was a new, fresh blow, one that even James T. Kirk could not hide.

“What happened, sir?” Scott asked once they were out of the portal. “You only left a moment ago.”

Jim didn’t speak, his eyes still rimmed with red.

“... We were successful,” Spock said after a moment, exchanging a look with McCoy.

“Time has resumed its shape,” the Guardian announced. “All is as it was before. Many such journeys are possible. Let me be your gateway.”

“Captain?” Uhura started gently. “Captain, the Enterprise is up there. They’re asking if we want to beam up.”

Jim didn’t speak for a moment, first glancing at the Guardian, then at the other officers. He caught and held Spock’s gaze for two point seven seconds longer than with anyone else before staring out in front of him.

“... Let’s get the hell out of here,” he finally stated, his voice rough and low.

“You? At his side, as if you’ve always been there and always will.”

Spock had not quite understood what Edith had meant when she told him where she believed he belonged, but now... now he believed he did.

As they arrived in the transporter room, Spock felt the urge to... to reach out and touch the captain, to offer some small comfort to him in this moment. He was not entirely certain as to why, just that... well, he felt that he should.

It was illogical. Completely, totally illogical.

And if the captain had not fled the transporter room the moment they rematerialized, Spock was certain that he would have done so.

“Just what happened while you three were in the past?” Uhura asked, raising an eyebrow.

McCoy sighed, shaking his head.

“Dumb kid went and fell in love, that’s what. Ain’t nothing I can do to cure a broken heart. Nothing but time can do that.”

Spock found he disliked that idea, but could offer no alternative. Thus, he simply bid the rest of the crew goodnight, silently returning to his quarters.

It was... strange to be alone after spending a week in a small room with Jim. He had assumed that Jim would be a much more difficult roommate, considering the state of his quarters, but to his surprise it had been quite a pleasant experience. And if Alice had been with them, perhaps...

Spock blinked, then grimaced, shaking his head. It had been a week since he had last been able to meditate- these odd thoughts were simply the result of his weakened emotional control, and thus he would stop having such... domestic fantasies once he had meditated for long enough.

He was able to meditate for three point two five hours before he found he could no longer support a meditative state. When he emerged from it, Alice was in front of him, looking quite concerned.

He blinked.

“Alice,” he started slowly. “How did you get in my quarters?”

“I used Uncle Bones’ medical override.”

Spock arched an eyebrow.

“Dr. McCoy allowed you to use his medical override to enter my quarters?”

Alice flinched almost imperceptibly, shifting her gaze to the side.

“Um... y-yeah, he did.”

Spock’s eyebrow arched higher.

“Alice...”

“Okay, so I guessed his code, I’m sorry, please don’t tell him!”

“I may have to if you were able to guess it. What was it?”

“Ten fifteen one fourteen fourteen one,” Alice replied. “If you take the numbers and connect them to the letters of the alphabet, it’s J-O-A-N-N-A, Joanna.”

Ah. Perhaps it was the good doctor’s fault for making his override code something so easily guessed.

“I see. Then I shall ask my next question- why are you in my quarters?”

Alice bit her lip, shifting from foot to foot.

“... Mr. Spock, you guys were only down there for a few minutes, right?” She looked up, her blue eyes full of concern. “But then... what could have happened to make Daddy cry like that?”

Spock experienced a sinking sensation in his stomach.

“Alice... while we were on the planet, Dr. McCoy accidentally stumbled into the past. He... He changed the timeline so that Starfleet- the entire universe as we knew it- was gone. In order to set the timeline right, your father and I had to follow him.”

“Whoa, so you guys time-traveled? Cool!”

Spock’s lips twitched.

“If you’ll recall, Alice, you yourself time traveled at the end of the Psi 2000 incident, along with the entire ship.”

“Yeah, but that was only three days! How far back in time did you go?”

“Three hundred and twenty-nine years, to New York City in the year 1930.”

“Wow, that’s a really long time! Nana wasn’t even born yet!”

Spock’s lips twitched again.

“No, and she would not be born for another two point five centuries.”

“Yeah...” Alice appeared thoughtful. “Old Spock wasn’t born yet either, huh?”

“If you are referring to my counterpart, then no, but he was born in the same year as I was. His age is a result of him being from a parallel future.”

“Oh yeah.” Alice blinked, then furrowed her brow. “But... I don’t get it. What about being in 1930 made Daddy sad?”

Spock resisted the urge to flinch.

“It was... it was not the time period itself that upset your father. We arrived a week prior to Dr. McCoy, in order to have the best chance of stopping him from changing the timeline as he did. In that time... in that time, your father became attached to a woman.”

Alice blinked again.

“A woman?”

“Yes. Her name was Edith Keeler. Your father...”

“Spock... I think... I think I’m in love with Edith Keeler.”

“He fell in love, didn’t he?” Alice asked quietly, her gaze trained on the floor.

“Yes.” Something in Spock... hurt to admit that. “Unfortunately, Miss Keeler... Alice, you must understand. Time is a fluid thing, and what keeps it from flowing out of control are fixed points that must occur in order for our timeline to exist as it is now. And... one of those points, as we discovered, is the death of Edith Keeler, on the night of October 25th, 1930.”

Alice’s eyes went wide.

“She... she died?”

“She lived over three hundred years ago, Alice. Even with advancements in medical technology, Humans are only able to live for approximately one hundred and twenty-!”

“Okay, well, was she one hundred and twenty?”

Spock flinched, though it was subtle enough that he was sure no one would not have caught it if they did not look for it specifically.

“... Miss Keeler was approximately twenty-seven years of age at the time of her death. She was... she was hit by a motor vehicle and died instantly.” He swallowed. “What Dr. McCoy did to change the timeline was save her life. Had she lived, she would have started a movement that would have delayed the United States’ entry into the second World War, which in turn would have allowed Nazi Germany to develop the Atom... bomb... you have not learned about the second World War yet, have you?”

“Nyota’s still teaching me about the Civil War.”

“I see. I shall summarize, then- if Edith Keeler had lived, millions of people who did not die before would have died in the new timeline, and it is likely that Earth may not have been prepared for first contact when my ancestors arrived in 2063. Starfleet, then, would never have existed as it does now, and it is unlikely any of us would either.”

Alice looked stunned.

“All that... because one lady died?”

“The concept is known as ‘the butterfly effect.’ In essence, the theory is that a single flap of a butterfly’s wings is enough to begin a hurricane. Though Edith Keeler was but one person, her life, had it gone on, would have been enough to change the course of history.” Spock swallowed. “And that... that is why it could not go on, even if that was painful for your father.”

“O... Oh...” Alice fidgeted a bit, then looked him in the eye once more. “Mr. Spock... what did Miss Edith look like?”

Spock blinked, then sighed, pulling out his tricorder and tuning it to Keeler’s obituary.

“This was her.”

Alice’s eyes widened, her mouth falling open in realization.

“No wonder...”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“What is it?”

“Mr. Spock... this lady, she looks just like... she looks like my mother.”

Spock blinked, the sinking sensation returning to his stomach.

“A... Alice-!”

“I... I need to go check on Daddy. Sorry to bug you, Mr. Spock.”

She left before Spock could say anything else.

 


 

Jim woke up when Alice crawled into bed. His eyes still stung, his throat tight and rough.

“Buh... Buttercup?”

Alice didn’t say anything, instead snuggling into his chest. He could feel her concern through their bond, as well as sadness and sympathy, and many more emotions that seemed too complex for such a little kid.

“Hey, what’s the matter?” Jim asked, putting a hand on her face and tilting it up. Her eyes were full of tears, and he felt his heart break at the sight. “Hey, hey, why are you crying?”

“I... I want you to show me what happened, Daddy. What happened when you and Mr. Spock and Uncle Bones went back in time.”

Jim blinked, then swallowed hard, shaking his head.

“Sweetie, no, it’s not-!”

“Daddy. I know how to do it. Old Spock told me how it works. Let me see.”

Jim swallowed once more, then finally crumbled under the determination in those baby blues, nodding and sitting up. Alice sat up as well, then got on her knees and reached for his temples.

“Nahp, hif-bi tu throks,” Alice murmured. “Our minds, one and together.”

The feeling of plunging into a mind-meld was somewhat familiar, after his experiences with the old Spock. He could see what Alice had been doing while he’d been gone- quietly reading a picture book in their room- and she... she could see the week he’d had. Arriving in 1930, trying to explain Spock (he could feel her giggles at the whole “rice picker” thing), meeting Edith, working, falling for Edith, learning the truth, the turmoil, those last few minutes when he could have stopped her, he could have saved her-!

Stop.

They broke apart abruptly. Jim’s vision was once again blurry with tears, but even then he could see how Alice was shaking, could hear her start to sob.

“Oh, honey, honey, hey,” he managed, pulling her back into a hug. “I-I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, sweetheart...”

“Th-The... the emotional transference is...”

“I know, baby, I know...” Jim hushed her softly, rocking her back and forth. He held her for what felt like hours, letting her get out all those emotions that weren’t really hers.

“Tushah nash-veh k’odu...” she murmured after a little while, wiping at her eyes. “I... I’m sorry about Miss Edith, Daddy...”

“S’okay, baby, it... it wasn’t your fault...”

“Wasn’t your fault either. You couldn’t save her, Daddy, not if... Old Spock told me something. Kaiidth.”

Jim blinked.

“What does that mean?”

“What is, is. There are things that we just can’t change, no matter what we do. All we can do it accept them for what they are.”

Despite himself, Jim couldn’t help but smile.

“That’s pretty smart. When did you get so smart, huh?”

“I’ve always been smart, Daddy.” Alice grinned through her tears. “I’m your little smartypants, remember?”

Jim laughed, pulling his daughter close and kissing her forehead.

“Yeah, you are.”

It still hurt. Of course it did. It was going to hurt for a long, long time to come.

But with Alice smiling at him like that... Jim might be okay after all.

 


 

2259.02

The ship was a mess, swarming with the few uninfected people trying to get information on their infected loved ones.

Jim got it. He really, really did, he’d seen how young some of the infected people were.

But apparently, the uninfected ones had forgotten the concept of personal space.

“Ma’am, please, I assure you that our medical team is doing everything they can to-! Sir, I’m sorry, but you’re just gonna have to-! Hey, don’t-! Don’t push, I-! Oof!”

Jim grunted as he was tossed into some large guy, yelping when said large guy ushered him behind him.

“Guys! Guys, calm down, alright? Now, you heard him, their medical team is doing everything they can right now, but they don’t have answers. We’re just gonna have to wait.”

Surprisingly, the crowd actually did calm down a little, and between that, the man’s broad shoulders, and his authoritative yet heroic voice, Jim was kind of wondering if the man was Captain America or something. In any case, they dispersed, and the man sighed as he turned around.

“Sorry about that-!” The man blinked, his eyes going wide. “W... Wait, Jimmy? Jimmy, is that you?”

Jim blinked, tilting his head slightly.

“Uh... do I know... you...?” His own eyes widened in realization. “Wait... wait, Sam?”

“George?” In the commotion, Jim hadn’t noticed the shorter, curly-haired woman with slightly darker skin standing next to his brother. “George, who’s this?”

“Uh, well... Aurelan, this is-!”

“Captain Kirk, there you are,” Spock started as he approached Jim. “The landing party has yet to-!”

“Wait, wait, wait, hold on. Captain Kirk? You?”

“Wh- How didn’t you know about that? I know Deneva’s not exactly close to Earth, but-!”

“Drs. Kirk,” Chapel started as she walked over to Sam. “Your son is-!”

“Hang on, Dr. Kirk? You?”

“Okay!” The woman- Aurelan, that’s what Sam called her- finally shouted, throwing up her hands. “Okay, that’s it, that’s enough of this- this Rocky Horror shit, one at a time!”

She turned to Sam, fixing him with a glare.

“You. Start talking. Who is this, and why is he calling you Sam?”

Sam looked like he would rather be anywhere else, swallowing nervously.

“Uh... Aurelan, honey, this is... this is my little brother, Jimmy. Apparently, he’s the, uh, the captain of this ship. And he’s also the only person who calls me Sam.”

“George, we’ve been married for seven years, and you didn’t think to mention that you’ve got a brother?”

“Wait, she’s your wife? And you never mentioned me to her?”

“We haven’t spoken in fifteen years!” Sam pointed out.

“And who’s fault is that? I was ten, I didn’t have a comm unit! I didn’t even know where you were!”

Sam scowled, crossing his arms.

“Well, it’s not like you ever went looking for me, did you, Captain?”

“Can you blame me? You’ve been radio silent since I was a kid, that’s a pretty clear sign that you’re not interested in reconnecting-!”

“Daddy?”

Both Jim and Sam froze, Sam’s eyes going wide. Jim turned around, forcing a smile as he looked at his daughter.

“H... Hey, buttercup. Isn’t it way past your bedtime?”

Alice yawned, rubbing at her eyes as she walked over to him.

“It’s too noisy. Can’t sleep,” she explained before raising her arms. Jim picked her up, cradling her as she wrapped around him.

“Aw, I’m sorry, Alice. We’re doing the best we can, but it’s still pretty chaotic.”

Alice hummed, then shifted a bit as she looked at Sam and Aurelan.

“Who’re you, mister and lady?”

Sam looked completely flabbergasted, looking between Alice and Jim wordlessly. Aurelan cleared her throat.

“I’m Aurelan, sweetheart. This is my husband, George.”

“Oh. Nice to meet you, Ms. Aurelan. You too, Mr. George.”

Aurelan smiled, shaking her head.

“I, uh... I think that Aunt Aurelan and Uncle George might be a little more accurate, sweetie.”

Alice blinked, then looked between Jim and the couple before tilting her head.

“I don’t get it.”

“Alice,” Jim started gently. “Buttercup, this is... this is my brother and his wife.”

“I thought your brother was named Sam, Daddy.”

“Well, I call him Sam. Apparently everyone else calls him George now.”

“Oh.” Alice looked at Sam owlishly. “So do I call you Uncle Sam or Uncle George?”

Sam looked lost for a second, then cleared his throat after Aurelan elbowed him in the side.

“Uh. I, um... Sam. You can call me Sam.”

“Okay!” Alice smiled warmly. “It’s nice to meet you, Aunt Aurelan and Uncle Sam! Even though I don’t know why you’re here.”

Aurelan snickered, and Sam, who still looked confused, smiled despite it.

“Captain,” Spock interrupted, reminding Jim of his presence. “Captain, the landing party?”

“Oh, uh, yeah...” Jim cleared his throat. “Sorry, Sam, uh... I really have to get that. And you, little miss, you need to go back to bed.”

“But I’m not tired, Daddy! I wanna stay with Aunt Aurelan and Uncle Sam.” She looked up at him with big, pleading eyes. “Please, can I?”

“Alice-!”

“Pleeeeease?”

Dammit. Jim couldn’t say no to that face. He looked over at Aurelan and Sam, grinning sheepishly.

“Sorry, guys, uh... would you mind?”

“I-!”

“Of course not, Jimmy,” Aurelan answered smoothly, holding out her arms to take Alice. “I’d be delighted to spend time with my niece.”

“You only found out about her two minutes ago-!” Sam started, his mouth snapping shut when Aurelan shot him a look.

Jim bit back a laugh, thanking them before they walked away. Aurelan and Alice were chattering away, and Sam shot him a look that said they’d be discussing this later.

Well. Jim had a few questions of his own, so he was fine with that.

“Captain.”

“Hm? Yes, Spock?”

“I did not know that your brother and his wife were on Deneva, sir.”

Jim snorted.

“Yeah, join the club. God. Dr. Kirk, can you believe that?”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“You do not believe your brother capable of achieving a doctorate?”

“I’ve seen his report cards, Spock. Sam’s smart, but he doesn’t exactly apply himself academically.” Jim glanced over his shoulder. “Or, well, he didn’t.”

“Fifteen years is a long amount of time, Captain. It may be that your brother is not the same person you remember.”

“... Guess that’s probably true. I’m... I’m probably not the same person I was back then, either...”

“Sir?”

Jim cleared his throat.

“It’s, uh, it’s nothing, Spock. You said something about a landing party?”

 


 

2259.03

When Spock awoke, he was still in horrible, agonizing pain, and was also restrained to the biobed. Dr. McCoy, the Drs. Kirk, and the captain were all looking at him, each with varying levels of concerned, although Jim also looked... quite relieved.

“... Dr. McCoy. Drs. Kirk. Captain.”

“Spock,” Jim replied, smiling a little, although his eyes belied how worried he’d been.

“I-!” Another wave of pain overwhelmed him, and Spock could not help but grunt and grimace. “These... these restraints will no longer be necessary. Nor will your sedatives, Doctor. I’ll... I’ll be able to return to duty. I... I apologize for my weakness earlier when I attempted to take control of the ship. I simply... I simply did not understand.”

“What is it there to understand, Spock?”

Spock grit his teeth, trying to fortify his controls.

“I... I am a Vulcan, Doctor. Pain is a thing... of the mind. Th... The mind can be c-controlled.”

“You’re only half Vulcan, Spock,” Jim said quietly. “What about your Human half?”

Spock flinched, tensing as to keep himself from spasming in pain.

“It... it is proving to be an inconvenience, but it is manageable. The... the creature, with all its thousands of parts... even now it is pressuring me. It... it wants this ship. But I am resisting.”

“Bones, can he really control it the way he says?”

McCoy’s lips were pressed into a thin line as he shrugged.

“Hell if I know. I can tell the amount of pain the creature can inflict on him, but whether he can control it hour to hour...”

Spock couldn’t stop the small, pained whimper that passed his lips. Jim’s eyes widened.

“Spock-!”

“I... I have my own will, Captain. Let me help.”

Jim blinked, his expression softening slightly.

“I... I need you, Spock...” He shook his head. “But we can’t take any chances. We’ll... we’ll keep you confined for a little while longer, and... and if you can maintain control... we’ll see.”

Spock attempted to refute that, but found instead found himself crying out when another spark of agony lit up his nervous system.

“Jim,” he heard George whisper. “Jim, is... if he were conscious, would that be what Peter was going through?”

Spock glanced to the side, noticing for the first time the boy of six years of age in the bed next to him. Every once in a while, the child’s expression would contort in pain.

“I... I’m sorry, Sam, I don’t... Bones. We have to help them, doesn’t matter what it takes. Got it?”

“Jim, there are over a million colonists down there, we can’t just focus on those two!”

“If we focus on them, we might figure out how to save everyone else! Get on it!”

He heard Jim leave, followed by the Drs. Kirk. McCoy cursed, then stormed off into his office.

Spock took a deep breath.

He was in control. He could control this. Pain is a thing of the mind. The mind is to be controlled.

He would not be controlled by it.

“I am a Vulcan,” he muttered. “I am a Vulcan. There... there is no pain.”

Sure enough, the pain subsided somewhat, although it did not disappear- it was still deep within him, bubbling under the surface and trying to break through.

He would not let it. He was a Vulcan.

He was in control.

He broke free of the restraints, then got up and found his uniform.

He had work to do down on Deneva.

 


 

It was frankly embarrassing how long it had taken three Starfleet Officers and two research biologists to figure out “the sun is bright,” let alone the fact that it had been a five-year-old who suggested it in the first place, but somehow, it worked.

“The creature within me is gone,” Spock reported as he left the test chamber. “I am free of it, as well as the pain.”

Jim sighed in relief as Spock walked in front of him, only to jump when Spock walked straight into a desk.

“Spock?”

“I...” Spock stood up straight, not turning towards them. “It seems that I am also quite blind, sir.”

Jim’s heart sank as he rushed over to Spock, putting his hands on his shoulders before he could think better of it. Spock didn’t seem to mind, or was too in shock in to protest.

“Spock...”

“An... an equitable trade, Doctor. Thank you.”

Bones looked downright ashamed as Jim guided Spock to a chair, a look that only worsened when Chapel brought in the results from the tests on the creature’s body.

“I... it was the UV light,” Bones muttered. “Light we can’t see, I... I didn’t need to use the blinding white light at all!”

Jim’s grip on Spock’s arm tightened.

“So... Spock’s blind for no real reason, then?”

Bones swallowed, then shook his head.

“I’m... Spock, I’m sor-!”

“Doctor, it was my selection as well. It is done.”

Bones didn’t look at all convinced, but Jim knew they didn’t have time to get into this.

“Alright, we know what kills them. Get our patients under UV lights, and we’ll figure out how to get the planet covered in UV. And, Bones?”

Bones looked up at him, and Jim smiled sadly.

“Take care of him, okay?”

Bones nodded, and Jim glanced at Spock one last time before leaving the medbay.

 


 

2259.04

Jim sighed, looking out over the sunrise from Sam’s house.

It had worked. The UV light had killed every last one of those bastards, and Sam’s kid and all the others were going to be just fine now.

Even Spock was going to be fine. As it turned out, Vulcans had an inner eyelid to protect them from harsh light, and once it opened, Spock was just fine, and also highly amused to learn that Bones had called him the “best First Officer in the Fleet.”

His comm beeped, and he frowned, his eyes going wide when he saw the date and the notification.

“Holy shit. I think... I think it’s my birthday.”

Sam snorted next to him, taking a sip of his beer.

“You seriously forgot?”

“Hey, I’ve been busy! Sides, it’s not like I ever really do anything for my birthday anymore.”

“Anymore?”

“Used to go get drunk out of my mind. Then Alice was born, and, well, couldn’t really do that with a toddler on board.” He snorted. “Y’know, the year she was three, she went around telling everyone it was my birthday and therefore they had to give me hugs.”

Sam laughed, shaking his head.

“That’s one cute kid ya got, Jimmy. Didn’t think you had it in you.”

“Hey, I’m cute! Why wouldn’t my kid be cute?”

His brother gave him a look.

“I meant the whole dad thing, smartass.” Another sip. “S’not like either of us really had that great a role model for it, after all...”

Jim’s grin fell, and he sighed, taking a sip from his own beer. They were quiet for a moment, the tension hanging in the air for what felt like hours before Jim finally couldn’t take it anymore.

“I drove his car off a cliff,” Jim started. He heard Sam choke a little. “It was the day you left. I crashed it when a cop was after me.”

“Why the fuck did you do that?”

Jim shrugged.

“I was ten. Pissed off.” He hesitated. “... thought I’d be able to find you and get you to come home. Or take me with you.”

“Jimmy...”

“Obviously, I didn’t have a lot of success there. Cop dragged me home, and Frank beat the shit out of me. Put me in the hospital.” Jim took a long swig of his beer. “That’s... that’s how Mom finally found out what kind of guy he really was. She broke his nose, then got him arrested. I think he’s dead now.”

Neither of them spoke for a minute.

“... I’m sorry, Jim,” Sam finally said. “I... you were just a kid too, I shouldn’t have... shouldn’t have left you with him.”

“You were a kid, too, dumbass. I don’t blame you for running away, never did. I was mad because you didn’t take me with you, and I’m not mad about that anymore.” There was barely any beer left in the bottle now. Jim didn’t even feel buzzed. “I’d blame my tolerance levels, but since I haven’t gotten drunk since before Alice, I’m pretty sure your beer’s shit.”

Sam laughed, holding his own nearly empty bottle out.

“Yeah, it sucks. Don’t know why we keep buying it- I’m no lightweight, and Aurelan can drink me under the table.”

They fell into silence again, but Jim couldn’t resist the urge to keep talking.

“I was on Tarsus,” he admitted. “I went to stay with Aunt Bev for a summer, and...”

Sam didn’t respond for a minute. Jim couldn’t make himself look at him, afraid of the look on his face.

“... I heard about what happened to Bev, but I didn’t...”

“Course you didn’t. I was fifteen, a minor. They couldn’t publish my name on the survivor list. I think I was like, Survivor 238 or something.”

“... Shoulda gone with you.”

“Trust me, that wouldn’t have helped. Then you’d be just as fucked up as I am, or worse.”

“I dunno, you don’t seem all that bad, Mr. Captain of the USS Enterprise.”

Jim snorted, looking over at his brother.

“Not too bad yourself, Dr. George Samuel Kirk.”

Sam laughed, then turned, looking into the living room. Peter and Alice had passed out on the couch a few hours ago, leaning on each other as they snored softly.

“... So. How’d you end up with a half-Vulcan kid, anyway?”

“Ah, well, that’s a long story, one that, oddly enough, involves my First Officer’s idiot brother.”

Sam arched an eyebrow.

“Alice’s mom was part of some weird emotion cult he revived,” Jim explained. “She... well, a few weeks after Alice was born, she showed up at Mom’s house and dumped her on me to go back to Vulcan. Her father died, and she... she was going to undergo some sort of ritual that meant purging all emotions and personal bonds.”

“Meaning she couldn’t be Alice’s mom, huh?”

“Nope. She left Alice with me on Earth, went back to Vulcan, and... you, uh... you know what happened to Vulcan, right?”

Sam’s expression softened.

“Yeah, I do. So she was there when it happened?”

“Yeah. Alice... their bond was weak, but it hadn’t been dissolved just yet, so Alice felt it when she...”

Jim trailed off, unable to finish.

“... She loves you a lot, you know. Whole time she was with me and Aurelan, she kept going on about how brave and smart and funny her daddy was.”

Jim snorted.

“She’s way smarter than me and she knows it. I think she might take over the universe someday.”

“I’d buy it. Kirk women are scary.”

Jim laughed, then paused when his comm went off. He opened it, smiling when he saw the video call request from his mom.

Their mom.

“She’s calling you?”

“She calls me every year. I, uh, I should probably go take this...”

“... You know what? Go ahead and answer it now.”

Jim blinked, looking at his brother in surprise.

“You sure? She might see you.”

Sam grinned.

“Yeah, well, after all of this, I think... I think I’ve avoided my family long enough, ya know?”

Jim stared at him for a moment, then shrugged.

“If you say so,” Jim said before pressing accept. He smiled when their mother’s face appeared on the screen. “Hey, Mom!”

“Hey, shortstack. Happy birthday!”

He heard Sam snicker, and Jim rolled his eyes.

“Mom, I’m five inches taller than you.”

She laughed.

“You’ll always be a shortstack to me, kiddo.” Their mom blinked, then squinted. “Jimmy, where the hell are you? This doesn’t look like your quarters.”

Jim glanced at his brother, who grinned and nodded.

“Well, Mom, as it turns out, I’ve got a surprise for you this time.” He turned the comm screen so that it was facing Sam. “Guess who I found!”

Sam smiled nervously, waving a little.

“Uh... hey, Mom.”

“... Georgie? Georgie, baby, is that you?”

Sam’s eyes shined with relief as he let out a little laugh.

“Y-Yeah, Mom, it’s... it’s me.”

“Sweetheart, where are you? Where have you been all this time?”

“I’m on the Deneva colony. I... well, it’s kind of a long story.”

“Good thing this thing’s got a long battery life, then,” Jim said as he handed his brother the comm. “I think you guys have some things to talk about.”

He left them talking on the balcony, walking into the house and over to Alice.

“Buttercup...” he started quietly, stroking her back gently. “Hey, honey, you can’t sleep here...”

Alice whined, snuggling into her cousin’s shoulder. Peter sighed, draping an arm around her in his sleep.

“Or... maybe you can. Guess me and Sam both ended up with stubborn kids.”

Jim glanced over at the balcony. Sam was laughing in the light of early morning, although Jim saw him wipe at his face more than once.

He smiled.

Maybe their family wasn’t perfect. Maybe it could never be perfect.

Even still, Jim thought it was pretty damn great.

Chapter Text

2259.52

This was, admittedly, one of Jim’s stupider ideas.

“What the hell did you take?!” Bones demanded as they ran through the jungle, pursued by outraged natives.

“I have no idea, but they were bowing to it!” He pulled his comm out of his bag. “Kirk to Shuttle One, locals are out of the kill zone, you are clear! Repeat, Spock, get in there, neutralize the volcano, and let’s get out of here!”

“Captain, did the indigenous life forms see you?”

“No, Mr. Spock, they did not.”

“The Prime Directive clearly states there can be no interference-!”

“With the internal developments of alien civilizations, I know, Spock! Don’t visit pre-warp societies is pretty much lesson number one at the academy, which is why I’m running through the jungle wearing a disguise! Now get in your Iron Man suit, drop off the super ice cube, and let’s go! Kirk out!”

A few minutes later, the natives upgraded to throwing spears at them.

“They’re trying to kill us!”

“I can see that, Bones!”

“Captain, I’m ditching the shuttle!” Sulu shouted over the comm. “You’re gonna have to make it to the Enterprise on your own!”

“Oh, wonderful!” Jim replied as he took a sharp turn.

“Jim! The beach is that way, you idiot!”

“I know!” He replied as he draped the scroll over a branch. “We’re not going to the beach!”

Bones seemed lost for a moment, then quickly realized what Jim meant.

“Jim, if we don’t make it out of this alive, I want you to know- I hate you!”

“Yeah, love you too, pal!”

One cliff-dive and a swim in a stupidly cold ocean later, Jim and Bones were back on the Enterprise, coughing and gasping for breath.

“Do you have any idea how ridiculous it is to hide a starship on the bottom of the ocean? We’ve been down here since last night! The salt water’s gonna ruin the-!”

“You can yell at me about it later, Scotty! Now, where’s Spock?”

Scotty looked a bit worried.

“Still in the volcano, sir.”

Jim cursed under his breath, running straight for the bridge.

“Spock?” Jim started the second he got confirmation that they still had contact with him. “Spock, how’s it looking?”

“I have activated the device, Captain. When the countdown is complete, the reaction should render the volcano inert.”

“Yeah, and that’s gonna render him inert!” Bones muttered. “Damn hobgoblin’s-!”

“Bones, remember that sensitivity training we made you do. Do we have use of the transporters?”

Chekov and Scotty both confirmed that they were useless here, and Jim cursed out loud this time. Chekov suggested that they could do it if Spock was in the direct line of sight, but Scotty argued that this meant flying over an active volcano. Spock added that there was no way they wouldn’t be seen by the natives, and Jim kind of wanted to throttle him.

“Would you shut up, Spock?!” Bones snapped. “We’re trying to save you, dammit!”

“Doctor, the needs of the many-!”

“Spock, stop!” Uhura hissed, just a little too late.

The entire bridge froze, and Jim knew they were all looking at him. After Kodos, he’d told everyone about what had happened to him on Tarsus, what that man had said.

They knew it was exactly what Spock was trying to say now.

“Captain,” Spock started after a moment, his voice soft. “Captain, I apologize, I did not mean to-!”

“This is your life we’re talking about, Spock, and I refuse to let you die for...” Jim swallowed, shaking his head. “We’re going to figure something out, whether you like it or not, got it?”

“I-!”

The signal cut out.

Jim grit his teeth.

“Well? Don’t just sit there, figure it out! Now!”

Two minutes later, Spock was back on the Enterprise, the Prime Directive was thoroughly violated, and Jim was pretty sure he was in big trouble.

He only cared about one of those things.

“You alright, Spock?”

“Captain, you let them see our ship.”

Bones scoffed.

“He’s fine.”

“Captain, the device has successfully detonated. Also, tell Spock he’s an idiot.”

Jim grinned.

“Hear that, Spock? You saved the world! And also, Uhura thinks you’re an idiot, but hey, she thinks I’m an idiot half the time, so it’s really not that-!”

“You violated the Prime Directive.”

“For fuck’s sake Spock, would you get off that? So they saw us, so what!”

“As you stated, sir, the Prime Directive is one of the first things taught to cadets. By breaking it, you have-!”

“I saved your life, you goddamn-!”

The door to the transporter bay opened.

“Daddy!”

Jim couldn’t help but grin when he heard that voice.

“Buttercup!” He replied, kneeling down and catching Alice in his arms. “Oh, I missed you!”

“You did it! You saved them, Daddy!”

Jim laughed, spinning her around and kissing her forehead.

“Aw, well, I can’t take too much credit here. Spock’s the one that stopped the volcano, so I think he’s the one who deserves the cheering, right?”

Alice didn’t reply right away. Jim looked at her, startled when he realized how blank her expression was as she stared at Spock.

“... Mr. Spock performed admirably, if not very sensibly,” she finally answered, wiggling until Jim let her go. “I’m gonna go replicate a burger for you, Daddy.”

“Wh-! Hey, now wait just a minute, munchkin!” Bones started. “You know your daddy’s on a strict diet. He’s already had a burger this week.”

Alice grinned slyly.

“But it’s a special occasion, right?”

“Not that special!”

Alice giggled, then started backing up toward the door.

“Well, then you’re just gonna have to catch me then, aren’t you, Uncle Bones?”

She shot Spock one last glare, then grinned as she ran out of the transporter room.

“Wh-! Hey!”

Jim snorted as Bones ran after his daughter, then cleared his throat, arching an eyebrow as he looked at Spock.

“I think you might be in trouble with Alice, Mr. Spock.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“For what reason?”

Jim groaned.

“Seriously? Look, I’m not gonna tell you, you’re just gonna have to figure it out yourself.”

“Captain-!”

“Nope, sorry. Figure it out yourself. That’s an order. Now, come on, I think we can replicate a whole cake while Alice has Bones distracted.”

 


 

2259.55

“Y’know, I don’t think Alice is gonna be thrilled with you if you come home drunk, kiddo.”

Jim rolled his eyes as Pike sat down next to him.

“It’s ginger ale. I’m not looking to get tanked, just... needed some time to think about how I’m supposed to explain all this to her. How’d you find me, anyway?”

“I know you better than you think I do. Y’know, the first time I found you was in a dive like this.”

“What can I say?” Jim said, taking a swig of the ginger ale. “I’m a creature of habit. Course, not planning on fighting anyone tonight. Alice might yell at me for a while, but I think she’s still more mad at Spock than she is at me.”

Pike chuckled, then sighed.

“... They gave her back to me.”

“What, my daughter? Look, I know Starfleet technically owns my ass, but I don’t think they’ve got the power to do that. Also, Alice might beat you up, just FYI.”

Pike laughed, shaking his head.

“The Enterprise, dumbass.”

Jim smirked, then sighed.

“Congrats, sir. Better watch your back with that First Officer, though.”

“Spock’s not going to be working with me.”

Jim blinked, quirking an eyebrow.

“No?”

“Nope. He’s been transferred. USS Bradbury. You’re gonna be my First Officer.”

Jim’s eyes went wide.

“... Come again?”

“Yeah, Marcus took some convincing, but every now and then, I can make a good case.”

“... What did you tell him?”

“The truth. That I believe in you. That if anybody deserves a second chance, it’s Jim Kirk.”

Jim swallowed, his eyes more than a little misty. It was partially out of happiness, but... even though he was still mad at him, his heart ached at the idea that he and Spock wouldn’t be working together anymore, wouldn’t be on the same ship or sharing a bathroom or playing chess or anything anymore.

That they were going to have to say goodbye. Possibly forever.

“I... I don’t know what to say.”

Pike grinned.

“Well, that’s a first, isn’t it?” He smiled more gently. “It’s gonna be okay, son.”

Jim finally smiled back, then wiped his eyes just as his comm went off.

 


 

“Captain.”

He heard Jim groan, but he did not turn to look at him as he kept walking briskly.

“Not anymore, Spock. First Officer.” He held the elevator door to allow Spock to join him, then pressed the button for the correct floor. “I was demoted, and you were reassigned.”

“It is fortunate that the consequences were not more severe.”

Jim sighed.

“Oh, you gotta be kidding me,” he heard Jim mutter under his breath.

“Captain, it was never my intention-!”

“Not captain.” Jim turned to him, his eyes as cold as Alice’s were the last time she had spoken to him directly after the Nibiru incident. “I saved your life, Spock. You wrote a report. I lost my ship. I still haven’t figured out how to explain it all to my five-year-old, who is probably going to be even angrier with you now, by the way.”

“I still do not understand why she is upset with me.”

Jim rolled his eyes.

“Yeah, of course you don’t,” Jim muttered as the elevator doors opened and he exited.

“Commander, I see now that I should have alerted you to the fact that I submitted the report.”

“No, I’m familiar with your compulsion to follow the rules.” Jim stopped in front of the conference room. “But you see, I can’t do that. Where I come from, if someone saves your life, you don’t stab him in the back.”

“Vulcans cannot lie.”

“I know, Spock, I live with a Vulcan and she can’t lie for shit. I’m talking to the half-Human part of you. I know it’s there, I’ve seen it.” Jim looked somewhat... saddened. “And... and that part of you should have known that saying crap like the needs of the many or whatever... Spock, you know who else said that to me. What that did to me.”

Vulcans did not feel guilt or regret.

However, Spock would have now if he was able to.

“Jim, I have apologized for that, and I apologize again. However, it does not change the fact that you violated the Prime Directive-!”

“To save you. Come on, Spock, you have to understand this by now. Don’t you understand why I went back for you?”

Truthfully, Spock was... unsure as to why Jim chose to save him. At least, he was unsure of the exact reason, but the look in his eyes when he ran into the transporter room was...

If he had not been a Vulcan, it would have made him quite happy, and he wasn’t sure as to why.

He was unsure of how to express this, but before Spock could even try, a man who introduced himself as Captain Frank Abbot of the USS Bradbury came up to him and told them they would be sitting together.

Captain Abbot did not seem particularly enthusiastic about this development.

Nor did Jim. In fact, Jim looked... downtrodden, similar to how he’d appeared after the death of Edith Keeler but more controlled.

“The truth is, Spock...” Jim smiled, just a little. “I’m gonna miss you.”

There was a strange, fluttery sensation in Spock’s stomach when he heard that. He opened his mouth, then closed it as he willed himself not to flush.

Jim appeared to be waiting for a response, still smiling.

Spock could not find the right words to express...

Express what? What could he say to this man, who had become so important to him over the past year and he would now only see on occasion? How could he tell him that despite how illogical he was, how illogical he made Spock, he still wished to be by his side?

“At his side, as if you’ve always been there and always will be.”

Edith Keeler’s words echoed in his head once more, as they often had for the past several months.

Still, he could not find the words, and Jim eventually rolled his eyes and walked into the meeting room.

Spock followed, a profound sense of disappointment lingering in his stomach.

 


 

2259.56

“You’re staying here.”

Alice glared up at him, stamping her foot.

“But Daddy-!”

“No buts, Alice. You’re staying here with Nana until I get home.”

“But I don’t want to stay with Nana!” She turned to Jim’s mom. “No offense.”

“No, I get it, kiddo. But I have to agree with your dad here, it’s way too dangerous.” She gave Jim a look. “For everyone involved.”

“Mom. Not helping.”

“Daddy, I’ve seen Klingons before!”

“Well, this is different. This is Klingons and a guy who killed hundreds of people and put Admiral Pike in a coma. Look, buttercup, I promise, it’s only gonna be for- for a week, at the most. We’ll go get this guy, bring him home, and then I’ll... buy you an ice cream cake.”

Alice quirked an eyebrow.

“You think bribing me with an ice cream cake is gonna work?”

“Well, I did until you looked at me like that. What do you want then?”

“To go with you! Or for you to stay here!” Alice’s eyes were big and pleading. “Daddy, I... I don’t want you to get hurt like Mr. Admiral Pike...”

Jim felt his expression soften, and he sighed, kneeling down and pulling her close.

“Alice, I swear on my honor as Captain of the USS Enterprise, I’m gonna be right back, and I’ll be all in one piece.”

“... And then you’ll buy me an ice-cream cake?”

Jim let out a startled laugh, giving her a look.

“I thought you didn’t want the cake?”

“No, I want the cake, you’re just not gonna bribe me with it.”

Jim laughed again, then pressed a kiss to her forehead.

“I promise, as soon as I get home I’ll buy you a strawberry ice-cream cake.”

“With buttercream frosting!” Alice added emphatically.

“Yes, the most delicious buttercream frosting in the whole universe. I love you, Alice.”

Alice smiled up at him, though her eyes were still full of fear.

“I love you too, Daddy. Come back soon, okay?”

“Count on it.” He stood, then leaned over and pressed a kiss to his mom’s cheek. “Love you, Ma.”

“Yeah, yeah, that’s cause I’m your designated babysitter, kid. Love you too. Now get moving before they leave you here.”

“You deserve the sun and stars!” He called as he started walking toward the shuttle, only half-teasing.

After enduring another round of questioning from Bones, Jim finally made it onto the shuttle, sighing as he took a seat on the other side of a row from Spock.

“Status report, Mr. Spock.”

“The Enterprise should be ready for launch by the time we arrive.”

“Good, good,” Jim murmured as he picked up a PADD.

“Captain,” Spock started. “Thank you for requesting my reinstatement.”

Jim couldn’t help but smile at him.

“You’re welcome,” he said before leaning away from Bones’ scanner.

“As I am again your First Officer, it is now my duty to strongly object to our mission parameters.”

Jim rolled his eyes.

“Course it is.”

“There is no regulation that condemns a man to die without a trial, something you and Admiral Marcus are forgetting. Also, preemptively firing torpedoes at the Klingon homeworld goes against-!”

“You yourself said the area’s uninhabited. There’s only gonna be one casualty. And in case you weren’t listening, our orders have nothing to do with Starfleet regulation.”

“Wait a minute, we’re firing torpedoes at the Klingons?”

“Regulations aside this action is morally wrong-!”

“Regulations aside, pulling your ass out of a volcano was morally right! And I didn’t win any points for that, did I?”

“Jim, calm down, I can’t get a good read on your blood pressure.”

“And you know something? I don’t think I wanna take ethics lessons from you of all people, Mr. No Emotions Whatsoever!”

“Reverting to name calling suggests that you are defensive and therefore find my opinion valid-!”

“And that’s another thing, would you stop teaching Alice how to argue? Seriously, talking to my five-year-old shouldn’t feel like I’m in debate club! Also, wasn’t asking for your opinion, and Bones would you get that thing out of my face already?!”

“Captain, our mission could start a war with the Klingons, and it is, by its very definition, immoral. Perhaps you should take the requisite time to arrive at this conclusion yourself.”

Jim was about to say something about how Spock still hadn’t realized why Jim came back for him (even though Jim wasn’t sure he wanted Spock to realize the exact reason), but then someone cleared their throat.

“Captain Kirk?”

A blond woman with a pleasant smile was in front of him.

“Uh... yes?”

“Science Officer Wallace. I’ve been assigned to the Enterprise by Admiral Marcus. These are my transfer orders.”

Jim pursed his lips as he skimmed the document on the PADD, then smiled back at her.

“Well, everything seems to be in order. Welcome aboard.”

“You requested an additional science officer, Captain?”

“No, but since you’re being an ass, I think I’m just gonna go with it. More the merrier. Have a seat, uh... Lieutenant Carol Wallace.”

Wallace smiled as she sat down, and out of the corner of his eye he saw Spock’s eyes narrow.

If Jim hadn’t known better, he would have thought he looked... jealous.

Which was, of course, hilarious, because Spock knew that Jim couldn’t just date anyone he thought was cute- even though, yeah, Wallace was pretty cute.

But he’d also only known her all of five minutes. That wasn’t nearly enough time to figure out if she’d be okay with possibly being Alice’s mom, because essentially, that’s where any relationship Jim had from now on would lead, if it didn’t crash and burn.

Not that that would matter to Spock.

Even if Jim wished it would.

 


 

“Captain?”

Jim forced a smile as he entered the turbolift.

“Hey, Uhura. How’s it going?”

Uhura gave him a look as she joined him.

“I heard about Admiral Pike.”

Jim sighed, shaking his head.

“Yeah, well. Coulda been a lot worse. As it stands, odds are he’ll come out of it in the next couple weeks, but they... well, they’re not so sure about him walking again.”

“You okay?”

“I’m fine, Lieutenant, thank you for-!”

“Jim, I’m not asking you as a lieutenant, I’m asking you as a friend who’s spent all night in a hospital with you because your two-year-old had a raging fever.”

Damn. She had him there.

“... Actually, Scotty just quit. And Spock’s second-guessing me every chance he gets.” He scowled. “Sometimes I just wanna... rip the stupid bangs off his stupid head.”

Uhura snorted.

“Thought you’d be beyond pigtail-pulling by now, Jim.”

Jim blinked, then turned bright red.

“W... Wait, what? No, it’s not-! It’s not like that!”

Uhura rolled her eyes, then gave him a look.

“Jim, I know you, and well, I’ve been there. Let me tell you, I think your chances are better than mine.”

The doors opened before Jim could say anything else- mainly because Spock was on the other side, eyebrow quirked.

“Captain, are you alright? You appear to be flushed.”

Uhura snickered as she glided onto the bridge. Jim glared at her back, then sighed, keeping his eyes to the ground.

“What, were your ears burning?” He muttered as he passed Spock.

After assigning Chekov to Engineering- and Jim was like eighty-six percent sure he’d heard him whimper when he told him to put on a red shirt- Jim settled into his chair, telling Sulu to prepare for takeoff.

“Lieutenant Uhura, open a ship-wide channel.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Mr. Chekov, how’re we looking down there?”

“All systems nominal, Keptin.”

“Copy that.”

“Warp available at your command.”

“Thank you, Mr. Chekov.” Jim looked out over the bridge, avoiding Spock’s eyes. “Let’s ride.”

Sulu brought the ship into warp, and Uhura told him the channel was open.

“Attention, crew of the Enterprise. As most of you know, Christopher Pike, former captain of this ship and our friend, is currently comatose. The man who put him in that coma has fled our system and is hiding on the Klingon homeworld, somewhere he believes we are unwilling to go. We are on our way there now. Per Admiral Marcus, it is essential that our presence go undetected. Tensions between the Federation and the Klingon Empire have been high. Any provocation could lead to an all-out war.”

Jim paused, glancing over at Spock. Spock, as usual, did not show any sign of emotion.

He looked away.

“I will personally lead a landing party to an abandoned city on the surface of Qo’noS, where we will capture the fugitive known as John Harrison. We will then return him to Earth so he can face judgement for his actions.” He took a breath. “Alright, let’s go get this son of a bitch. Kirk out.”

Spock silently walked over to him a moment later.

“Captain, I believe you have made the right decision. If I can be of any assistance, I would be happy to accompany you on the away team.”

Jim grinned at him.

“You? Happy?”

“I was simply attempting to use your vernacular to convey an idea.”

Jim laughed, shaking his head.

“Thanks, Spock. Although... You know that would leave Chekov in charge, right?”

“You are the one who promoted him to Chief Engineer, sir.”

Jim rolled his eyes.

“Yeah, well, Keenser left too, so there went my second choice for Chief Engineer.”

“I am uncertain as to whether Keenser would be a better choice for third in command, Captain.”

“Well, if I had it my way, I’d put Uhura in charge.”

“You’d never get your ship back, sir,” Uhura replied easily.

“Oh, yeah, the crew would mutiny if I tried to take over after you were in charge.”

Spock looked a bit lost. Jim just laughed.

 


 

Wallace was scanning the contents of the torpedoes when Spock finally located her.

“Oh!” She smiled politely. “Mr. Spock, you startled me.”

“... What are you doing, Doctor?”

“Verifying the torpedoes’ internal-!”

“You misunderstand. What are you doing aboard this ship? There is no record of you being assigned to the Enterprise.”

Her smile faltered, though only a miniscule amount.

“Really? That must be some sort of mistake-!”

“That was my conclusion as well, Dr. Marcus.”

The smile was completely gone now.

“I... what?”

“There is no Dr. Carol Wallace in Starfleet’s registry- however, there is a Dr. Carol Marcus. You have lied about your identity. Wallace is the surname of your mother. I can only assume the admiral is your father.”

Marcus swallowed, taking a few steps toward him.

“M... Mr. Spock. I’m aware that I have no right to ask this of you. But please, he cannot know that I’m here-!”

The ship lurched just then, sending them both tumbling to the ground. When it stabilized, Spock informed Marcus that this conversation was not yet at an end, then made his way to the bridge.

“Spock, good. You’re coming with me to Qo’noS. Uhura, how’s your Klingon?”

“Rusty, but it’s good.”

“Great, you’re coming too.” He leaned over to the intercom on his chair. “Chekov, I’m counting on you to get us patched up while we’re down there, got it?”

Spock heard Chekov whimper.

“I... I will do my best, sir.”

“Great, good luck, kiddo.” Jim grinned at him, though his eyes were tired. “Well, let’s get this show on the road. Mr. Sulu, you have the conn.”

 


 

“Spock, really, I’m fine!”

“As I have informed you many times, sir, fine has variable definitions, and you are injured to the point of being unable to walk.”

“Okay, yeah, but do you have to carry me like this?” Jim protested, trying to ignore the fact that Spock’s hand was dangerously close to his butt. “I feel like you’re about to deliver me over the threshold or something.”

Spock arched an eyebrow.

“Threshold, Captain?”

“Yeah, y’know, like...” Jim couldn’t help but blush as he cleared his throat. “Like we’re... like we’re getting married.”

Uhura snickered tiredly, and Spock’s eyebrow arched higher, though Jim could have sworn his ears had turned a little green.

“Would you prefer I carried you over my shoulder?”

Jim blinked, then made a face.

“Y’know, no, I wouldn’t, that would probably undermine my authority a lot more here. Where’s Bones, he’ll fix me up so I can walk.”

Spock ended up carrying him all the way to the brig, where they’d put Harrison. Jim wasn’t sure if he was glad that no one laughed, or if he was disturbed that no one seemed even remotely surprised to see Spock cradling him in his arms.

Even if he was enjoying it just a little.

After Bones got through hypo-ing him half to death and grumbling about him having no sense of self-preservation, the three of them made their way over to Harrison’s cell.

“Put your arm through the hole,” Bones instructed after placing the disruptor on the glass. “I’m gonna take a blood sample.”

Harrison silently rolled up his sleeve and did so, not reacting even when the needle went in.

“Why aren’t we moving, Captain? An unexpected malfunction, perhaps in your warp core, conveniently stranding you on the edge of Klingon space?”

“How the hell do you know that?” Bones asked, his voice a low growl.

“Bones,” Jim chided before looking at Harrison.

“I think you’d find my insight valuable, Captain.”

Bones finished patching him up, pushing his arm back and removing the disruptor.

“Good?”

“Yup.”

“Great,” Jim said as he started to walk away. “Let me know what you find.”

“Ignore me and you will get everyone on this ship killed.”

Jim froze, clenching his fists.

“Captain, I believe he will only attempt to manipulate you. I would not recommend engaging the prisoner further-!”

“Just... just give me a minute.”

Spock looked unsure, but did as Jim asked, leaving the room without another word. Jim swallowed, then took a breath, turning back towards Harrison and storming over to him.

“Let me explain what’s happening here. You are a criminal. I watched you murder innocent people, I was authorized to end you! The only reason that you’re still breathing is because I am allowing it. So shut. The fuck. Up. Before I change my mind.”

Harrison looked amused.

“Oh, Captain, are you going to punch me again over and over again until your arm weakens? Clearly you want to, so tell me, why did you allow me to live?”

Jim grit his teeth.

“We all make mistakes.”

“No. I surrendered to you because, despite your attempt to convince me otherwise, you seem to have a conscience, Mr. Kirk.” He smirked. “Or perhaps there’s someone you were unsure you’d ever be able to face again if you killed me.”

Jim’s heart stopped.

There was no way. He couldn’t know.

He couldn’t know about Alice.

“In any case, if you didn’t, it would be impossible for me to convince you of the truth.” Harrison gave him some coordinates, telling him that he’d find his explanation there.

“Give me one reason I should listen to you.”

“I can give you seventy-two. And they’re all on board your ship, Captain. They have been all along. I suggest you open one up.”

Jim stared at him for a moment, then turned away without a word, all but jogging out of the brig before pulling out his comm and dialing Scotty’s number.

He didn’t trust Harrison as far as- as far as Spock could throw him, but... well.

Something about all of this just didn’t feel right.

 


 

2259.58

“Engineering to bridge. Mr. Spock!”

“Mr. Scott.”

“Sir, you’d... you’d better get down here. Better hurry.”

Spock did not have it in him to be ashamed that his first thought was of Jim. He was out of his seat in an instant, speeding past Uhura and out of the bridge.

His body was on autopilot. All he could think was Jim, Jim, Jim.

Scott was stone-faced when he arrived in Engineering. He looked down, shaking his head.

Spock’s stomach twisted as he ran into the area surrounding the warp core, and then dropped when he saw Jim slumped against the glass.

“Open it,” he commanded.

“The... the decontamination process is not complete. You’d flood the whole compartment. The door’s locked, sir.”

Spock swallowed, then kneeled down so that he was eye level with Jim. Jim was breathing heavily, clearly exhausting what little energy he had left just to stay awake. He reached up, and the internal mechanisms of the core whirred as a door behind him shut.

After a moment, he opened his eyes, though he was clearly struggling to do so.

“H... How’s our ship?”

“Out of danger.” Speaking was difficult. Spock’s eyes were... stinging. They had not stung like this since he was a child. “You saved the crew.”

“You used what he wanted against him. That’s... that’s a nice move.”

Spock swallowed. His vision was starting to blur.

“It... it is what you would have done.”

“Course it is. How d’ya think I beat you at chess?” Jim smiled. “And this... this is what you woulda done. Was only... logical...”

Jim was shaking now, and his smile dropped.

“M’scared, Spock... help me not be... tell me how you do it. How d’you... choose not to feel?”

Spock’s cheeks were becoming wet.

“I... I do not know. Right now, I am... I am failing...”

Jim’s own eyes were wet.

“Spock... can you do something for me? Make sure... make sure Alice knows I’m sorry, okay? M’sorry that I couldn’t keep my promise... but I love her, always.”

Spock swallowed hard, nodding gently.

“And I... I want you to know somethin’, too. Want you to know why... why I couldn’t leave you. Couldn’t... couldn’t let you die.”

In that moment, Spock had a realization, far, far too late.

He finally understood why. Through all the laughter, tears, anger, better and worse, logical and illogical, through all the heartache, why he wanted nothing more than to stay by James T. Kirk’s side, as if he’d always been there and always would be.

We are t’hy’lara. You are the other half of myself, half of my heart and half of my soul. You are everything and more, and I... I cannot lose you without losing myself.

That is what Spock realized.

However, that is not what Spock said. What Spock said was this.

“Because you are my friend.”

Friend. Friend, brother, lover. Soulmate.

Jim smiled weakly, then grunted, slowly raising his hand and pressing it to the glass. Spock pressed his own against the other side, watching as Jim’s finger’s parted in the ta’al.

Within a moment, Jim went completely still, and all Spock could do was watch as the life left those blue eyes.

Spock becoming acutely aware of the sound of his heart beating in his side, anguish rolling over him in waves, until suddenly, a new feeling started bubbling up deep in his gut.

Rage, burning, boiling inside of him, higher and higher, threatening to overtake him completely and never let go.

And for once, Spock simply let it happen.

 


 

When Jim woke up, he was in a cornfield.

His first thought was that he did not remember falling asleep in a cornfield.

His second thought was that he was supposed to be dead.

“Fuck, is this Hell?” Jim blinked, looking around a bit. “Is Hell Iowa?”

If he weren’t so confused, he might have declared triumphantly that he was right, take that, Mom!

Of course, the reality of the situation was that he was dead, Mom had lost yet another family member to a disaster on a starship, and also when did that farmhouse get here?

Jim blinked, tilting his head slightly as he got to his feet. The corn stalks didn’t lash out and try to rip out his liver, so that childhood nightmare was disproved. Slowly, he made his way through the field, getting to the edge of the corn about a hundred feet from the farmhouse.

He smelled pie. Grandma Hilde’s apple pie.

Maybe he wasn’t in Hell.

“Hello?” He called, cupping his hands around his mouth. “Can somebody help me?”

The door to the farmhouse swung open, and a man stepped out. He was taller than Jim, with broad shoulders and short, slightly messy blonde hair, and blue, blue eyes.

Jim’s eyes.

“You lost, kid?”

Jim’s mouth was hanging open, and he forced himself to close it, swallowing hard.

“A... Are you George Kirk?”

The man’s eyebrows rose, and he leaned up against the doorframe.

“I am. And you are?”

“I... well... I’m-!”

“George, dear, who’s at the door-? Oh my god.”

Jim’s heart all but melted when a smaller, thin woman pushed past his father, his vision blurring with tears.

“Hi, Grandma,” he managed to croak out.

His grandma was on him in an instant, her arms wrapped around his neck. Jim laughed through his tears, wrapping his own arms around her waist and picking her up so he could spin her around.

She was so much lighter than he’d ever thought she’d be. She’d been so thin when she died, so sick from all the chemo and medicine, she’d barely even looked like herself.

Now, though, his grandma looked like he remembered her. So full of life and beautiful, tough as nails with a musical laugh.

“Since when are you so sentimental as to spin an old lady around?” She teased once he put her back on the ground.

“Hey, you died fourteen years ago, lady, I think I’m allowed to be a little sentimental.”

Her face fell a bit.

“Fourteen years...? But that would only make you...”

Jim smiled sadly.

“I’m twenty-six,” he admitted quietly.

“Oh, sweetheart. You’re here much, much too soon.”

“I know, Grandma. I’m sorry.”

“Ma?” He heard his father- his father!- call. “Ma, who is this? And... and why is he calling you grandma?”

His grandma rolled his eyes, putting her hands on her hips and giving his father a look.

“George Jefferson Kirk, you’re a lot of things, but really, I know your father and I didn’t raise you to be a dunce!”

Jim snorted, grinning as his grandma led him over to the farmhouse, though he found himself getting nervous once he was face to face with his father.

“Dear, think. Who would call me, your mother, Grandma?”

“... He looks nothing like Junior.”

Okay. So it was entirely possible that the man he’d been trying to emulate all this time was actually kind of a dimbulb.

Come to think of it, his mom might actually have told him that once or twice.

“No, I’m not Sam,” Jim clarified. “And the reason you don’t recognize me is... well... we were only ever alive at the same time for about five minutes.”

His father blinked once, twice, three times before his eyes widened in realization.

“... James? James, is that you?”

Jim smiled nervously.

“Hi, Dad.”

The second the last syllable left his mouth, Jim found himself in a bone-crushing hug.

“I’m sorry... I’m so, so sorry, James, I...”

“It’s... It’s Jim, Dad, and... honestly kinda in the same boat here...”

Alice. Oh, god, Alice. He tried to feel for her, and there was nothing.

Still, somehow he knew. He remembered the agony when she lost her mother.

How much worse must it be now? She’d barely had a bond with her mother, and she and Jim had been so close...

“Hey, where did everyone go?”

Jim’s heart stopped when he heard that voice, pushing on his father’s chest to let him go just as the front door opened.

His grandfather blinked once, twice, three times.

“... Jimmy?”

“Hi, Poppy,” he greeted quietly, unable to keep from using the name he’d called his grandfather when he was five.

This, of course, led to yet another hug, followed by a punch on the shoulder because he was too early, dammit.

Jim just laughed. It was all he could do to keep from crying.

 


 

2259.59

Jim’s heart began beating once more at approximately two minutes past midnight.

“I don’t know how it works, Spock, but...” McCoy sighed, collapsing back into a nearby chair. “He’s... he’s alive. Dunno how, and I think I might be some kinda necromancer now, but... he’s alive.”

Spock did not respond. He could not take his eyes off the heartbeat monitor, his eyes following every spike, every drop.

Jim was alive.

Jim was alive.

His t’hy’la, the other half of himself... he was breathing. His heart was beating.

“... When will... when will he awaken?”

“Fuck if I know. I just brought a man back from the dead, Spock, there ain’t exactly medical precedent for this. Could be in a couple minutes, could be in a couple weeks, hell, could be a couple years.”

Spock did not want to ask the obvious question. Thankfully, McCoy seemed to know what it was.

“See that screen on the top left over there? That’s his brain activity. S’weak, but it’s still there. As long as he isn’t brain dead, there’s a chance he’ll wake up.”

Relief must have been obvious on Spock’s face, because McCoy snorted.

“God. I’ve never seen a pair as obvious as you two, you know that?”

Spock blinked, looking at McCoy curiously.

“Doctor?”

McCoy sighed, shaking his head as he got out of his chair.

“Oh, don’t mind me, Spock, I’m just... I’m running on fumes here. Surprised you aren’t about to fall apart yourself.”

“Vulcans require less sleep than Humans, Dr. McCoy.”

“Yeah, I know. Since that’s the case, you keep an eye on him while I go pass out for... probably the next three days or so. If anything changes-!”

“I will call you immediately.”

“No, go get someone on staff. I meant it about those three days, Spock, and I’m gonna be pretty useless without ‘em.”

This seemed to be an attempt at humor, but it went unspoken, as McCoy left the room shortly after. Spock turned to Jim, who was- thankfully- still breathing.

Spock had never been so grateful for something in all his life.

He quietly picked up McCoy’s chair, taking it over to Jim’s bedside after carefully navigating the litany of tubes around his body. At first, he simply sat quietly next to him, listening to the sound of his heartbeat monitor. By the end of this, Spock was certain he would have memorized the pattern.

Then his eyes began to fill with tears once more, and Spock did not have the energy to stop them.

“Ashayam,” he whispered, his voice sounding broken and weak even to himself. “Ashayam, ni’droi’ik nar-tor, I am sorry, I am so, so sorry... I should have realized much sooner what you are to me, where I belong.”

Jim’s heartbeat remained steady.

“I swear to you, I... I will tell you. Once you awaken, I will tell you what we are, what you mean to me.”

Spock swallowed thickly.

“I can only hope that you... that you will forgive me for it.”

 


 

“Oh, she’s adorable!”

Despite the torrent of emotions swirling around in Jim’s gut, he grinned as he showed off the picture of Alice that had somehow stayed with him.

“Those ears, though,” his grandpa murmured. “Is your daughter a Vulcan, Jimmy?”

“That she is.”

“Now how did you swing that? Far as I know, Vulcans don’t go for casual, and I’m not seeing a wedding ring on those fingers,” his grandma said with a quirked eyebrow.

Jim laughed nervously.

“Well, uh, that’s cause Alice was born out of wedlock- I know, Grandma, I’m sorry, but she’s the light of my... she was the light of my life, and I have no regrets.” Jim crumpled a bit. “Other than, y’know, I’m not gonna be able to see her grow up...”

His grandparents’ and his father’s expressions all softened.

“It’s not your fault, James,” his father assured him, putting a hand on his shoulder. “You didn’t leave her of your own volition.”

“I chose this, though. I chose to save my ship when I knew that it would kill me... what?”

His family was staring at him incredulously.

“Y... Your ship?” His grandpa finally managed.

“Eh? Oh, uh, didn’t I tell you?” Jim grinned, straightening in his seat. “You’re looking at Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise.”

“Captain?” His grandparents exclaimed at the same time.

“You’re twenty-six!” His father exclaimed.

“That I am.”

“I can’t- I wasn’t even a commissioned officer at your age, how did you get a captaincy?”

“That... is a really long story. And also, super complicated, it involves time travel and the destruction of Vulcan.”

Again, his family looked stunned.

“Yeah, like I said, long story. Looks like I’ve got nothing but time, though-!”

Suddenly, the world became... wavy, his family’s faces distorted for a good few minutes before returning to normal. Jim blinked, shuddering a little.

“Okay, well. That... that was weird.” Jim blinked, then arched an eyebrow. “What?”

His grandma looked like she was about to start crying again.

“Jimmy,” she started, her voice a little rough even though she was smiling. “Jimmy, you’re not dead.”

Jim blinked, then tilted his head.

“Uh... I’m pretty sure I am, Grandma. I mean, I am sitting at a table with a bunch of dead folks.”

She shook her head.

“Sweetheart, do you remember how I died?”

“You had cancer. You...” His eyes widened. “You went into a coma, then died after three days. Am... am I in a coma?”

“I think you might be, Jimbo,” his grandpa confirmed, smiling a little sadly. “And I don’t think that it’s quite time for you to join us yet.”

As he said that, they started getting wavy again, slower this time.

“I... I don’t want to...”

“You have to, son,” his dad told him. “It’s not your time yet. We’ll see each other again, I promise.”

They were so blurry now that Jim couldn’t distinguish them from one another.

“I... I love you guys...”

“We love you too, sweetpea. You get home to that little girl of yours, alright?”

Before Jim could reply to that, they disappeared, and Jim closed his eyes involuntarily.

When he opened them again, he was on the bridge of the Enterprise.

Or, at least, he thought it was the Enterprise. The technology and layout seemed similar, but somehow more... vintage.

It was also a lot more colorful than his ship’s bridge- everything on his bridge was overwhelmingly white, while this had blues and purples and... carpeted flooring, for some reason.

“What the hell...?”

He heard the bridge doors open behind him, and he turned around, his eyes going wide when he came face to face with...

Well, with himself. Older, rounder, a little shorter for some reason, and brown-eyed, but almost certainly him.

And definitely just as surprised as he was.

“Huh,” his older counterpart said after a moment. “Well. That’s a new one.”

 


 

2259.68

Spock did not see the woman and Alice at Jim’s bedside until he entered the hospital room.

“My apologies,” he stated quickly, turning around.

“Wait! Wait, just a- Alice, stay here- wait!”

Spock turned again, arching an eyebrow when he realized that the woman had followed him into the hallway. Her blond hair was a similar texture to Jim’s, but a slightly darker shade, her eyes a little more green. Her skin was slightly creased around her eyes and near her mouth, but otherwise she showed few signs of aging.

Still, there was something quite... intimidating about her, despite the fact that she was several inches shorter than Spock.

“Ma’am?”

“You’re... you’re Spock, right? Commander Spock?”

“I am. And you are?”

“Commander Winona Kirk, Chief Engineer on the USS Discovery.” Commander Kirk smiled at him. “Your sister talks about you a lot, you know. She’s real proud of you.”

Spock blinked, surprised.

“Michael?”

“You got any other sisters? Of course I mean Captain Burnham.”

Vulcans did not feel guilty... but Spock was not all Vulcan, and therefore his human half felt quite guilty, since he had not spoken with his sister since... well, prior to the destruction of Vulcan-that-was.

“I... I see.” Spock cleared his throat. “I... I apologize for interrupting your time with your son-!”

“Oh, please, I’ve been in there for hours now. As much as I love Jimmy, watching someone sleep isn’t exactly exciting.”

“I suppose not... but I must apologize for something else.”

“Oh?”

“I was... if I had known what Ji- the captain had planned to do, I would have intervened, but since I did not ask, he was-!”

“Commander, please. I know my son well enough to know that once he’s got it in his head to do something, there’s no stopping him from doing it. Well, unless you’re Len and got hypos hidden somewhere, that might stop him.” She smiled again. “Besides, I hear that I’ve got you to thank for him still being alive in the first place.”

Spock’s ears were burning at the tips.

“It... it was the logical course of action, ma’am.”

“From what I heard, you got into one hell of a brawl with a superhuman mass murderer on top of a garbage truck and nearly snapped his neck. If that’s logical, then I’ve got Vulcans all wrong.”

The burning had spread to his cheeks.

“I... I admit that I may have been somewhat emotionally compromised at that time.”

Kirk hummed, turning so that she was looking into the hospital room. Alice was still by her father’s bedside, resting her chin on his arm.

“... I was with her when he died, y’know. We were watching a news broadcast about the ships falling out of the sky, and suddenly she just... she started screaming.”

Spock’s heartbeat stuttered, a cold sensation spreading through his frame.

“She was wailing, gasping for breath, kept grabbing at her ears and pulling on her hair, and she couldn’t- couldn’t tell me what was wrong, just screamed and screamed until she finally passed out.” Kirk swallowed. “Len called me and told me what happened about ten minutes later.”

Spock swallowed a lump in his throat, keeping his eyes on Alice through the window.

“The... the breaking of parental bonds can be extremely distressing to young Vulcans. Alice’s reaction was no doubt exacerbated by the... the incident last year. The destruction of Vulcan-that-was resulted in a psionic scream felt by all surviving members of our race, and as Alice’s mother was one of the victims, in addition to the scream, she also felt their bond break. It... It is likely that she associates the sensation of a bond breaking with pain.”

Kirk didn’t respond to that right away.

“... I’m completely psi-null,” she finally said. “I... I can’t bond with her, not the way Jimmy has. I tried, and all I got out of it was a migraine and a crying three-month-old granddaughter. Thought it would be easy, since Jimmy didn’t seem to have any trouble with it, but as it turns out, he’s not psi-null.”

Spock arched an eyebrow.

“Indeed?”

“Nope. Turns out that George’s great-grandma on his mom’s side was a Betazoid. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to allow him to host a bond with Alice.”

“I see. My own mother reported some difficulties with telepathy when she first attempted to bond with my father, although by the time of my birth she was able to maintain telepathic bonds with ease.”

“... It’s important to you guys, right? The whole bond thing?”

“Extremely so. It is how we learn to connect with our species, to control our abilities. A child with no bonds is likely to be highly withdrawn and have trouble socializing, and in the most extreme circumstances, may have issues with communication overall. Parental bonds are especially important, second only to the link established between oneself and one’s bondmate. Without intervention, this bond can only be broken upon the death of one of the linked individuals.”

“... What does that mean for Alice and Jim, then?”

Spock blinked, arching an eyebrow.

“Elaborate, please.”

“Jim died, Commander. He died, and I saw Alice when the bond broke... I know there’s no precedent for this, but... can it be fixed?”

Spock thought this over, then nodded.

“It is possible. Broken bonds can be restored so long as both parties involved are in close proximity to one another and do not shield each other from their minds. It is most likely repairing itself as we speak, since J- the captain is exhibiting brain activity similar to REM sleep. Once he awakens, it will most likely instantaneously revert back to its strength prior to his passing. I doubt there will be any need for the intervention of a healer, considering how close they are.”

Kirk let out a sigh of relief, then smirked up at Spock.

“You know, you don’t have to keep up appearances here.”

Spock arched an eyebrow.

“I am unsure as to your meaning.”

“I mean that you can call him Jim. Lord knows he’s always ranting about you calling him Captain off the bridge.” She grinned. “And you can call me Winona, kiddo. With the way Alice talks about you, you’re practically part of the family at this point.”

Spock was unable to keep himself from flushing. Considering his recent discovery about what Alice’s father was to him, that may be more true than Winona knew.

Still, he could not help but feel guilty.

“... I did not think she would hold me in such esteem.”

“Why not?”

“She has been... quite upset with me these past few weeks, and up until ten point two days ago, I was unable to truly understand why.” Spock swallowed. “Even now that I do understand, I... I find myself reluctant to face her.”

After a moment, Winona snorted.

“I can’t believe this. Here you are, a big, bad Starfleet officer that just took down a power-hungry superhuman, and you’re nervous about talking to a five-year-old girl.”

Spock’s ears burned.

“Vulcans do not get nervous, Winona.”

“Sure they don’t, and my grandkid’s really half-Romulan.” She grinned at him again. “But you can’t avoid her forever, ya know. And you’re gonna look pretty dumb standing out here staring at them through a window.”

Winona turned on her heel before Spock could reply.

“Think I’ll go check on Chris. Keep an eye on her for me, would ya?”

She walked away, seemingly deaf to Spock’s protests.

He was suddenly very aware of where Jim’s personality came from.

Spock swallowed hard, then took a deep breath before stepping into the range of the automatic door. Alice looked up at him, her eyes wide and more than a bit wet.

“M... Mr. Spock...”

Spock’s throat felt tight as he approached her, wordlessly kneeling down in front of her.

“... Alice,” he began after a moment. “Ni’droi’ik nar-tor.”

Alice’s eyes became impossibly wider.

“F... For what?”

“Until... until your father... until then, I was unable to understand why you were upset with me after my actions on Nibiru. I did not understand that... that your anger was a result of you valuing my presence in your life, while I appeared not to place the same value on that relationship.”

Alice’s eyes were now damp, although the red rims around her eyes informed him that this was not the first time she had cried today.

“I deeply regret that my actions came across as a sign that I do not hold you in esteem. That is not the case. In fact, the opposite is true. Over this past year, you have become an important part of my life, and I have found that I... I cannot imagine my life without you in it.” Spock swallowed. “I... I hope that you understand that. This is... I am not very adept at expressing-!”

Alice let out a small sob before rushing forward, wrapping her arms around Spock’s neck and clinging to him tightly. Spock blinked, remaining still as she wept into his uniform jacket, unsure of what he should do.

After a moment, he decided to chance it and embrace her back. This appeared to be the correct course of action, as Alice responded by burrowing into his shoulder.

He was unsure how long they remained this way. He was vaguely aware that his knees were beginning to ache.

He did not care.

“... m’sorry...” Alice murmured after she finally pulled away, wiping at her eyes.

“Alice, you have nothing to apologize-!”

“I got snot on your jacket.”

Spock blinked, then glanced at his shoulder, which indeed had a small amount of nasal mucus on it.

“Ah. Well, no matter, that is understandable.” He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and held it out to her. “Please evacuate your nostrils into this.”

Alice blinked vacantly.

“Blow your nose.”

“Oh.” She took the cloth from him, honking loudly as she blew her nose. Once she was done, she attempted to hand it back to him, and he gently told her she could keep it.

“I’m sorry I was mean to you, too...” Alice murmured after a moment. “I... I was real mad, but that doesn’t make it okay...”

“You do not need to apologize. Your reaction was understandable, as Vulcans often feel very strong emotions.”

“Is that why you’re always so controlled, Mr. Spock?”

“Yes. It may be necessary for you to learn such control someday, although I cannot imagine that you will be following the teachings of Surak to the letter.”

Alice blinked.

“What’s a Surak?”

“Nevermind.” Spock turned to Jim’s still-unconscious form. “Is the repair of your paternal bond going smoothly?”

“Um... I think so? I can kind of feel Daddy in my head again, but I can’t tell how he’s feeling.”

“Since your father is currently comatose, that is logical. Once he awakens, the bond will most likely resolidify.”

“Oh.”

They were both silent for a moment.

“... Mr. Spock?”

“Yes, Alice?”

“Did... did you ever feel like your parents might be happier if... if you were just a Human? Or just a Vulcan?”

Spock blinked, turning to Alice. She was looking at her father, her expression far too tense for such a normally happy child.

“... On occasion, yes. More often, however, I thought that it would be easier on my mother had I been only Human.”

“... Did you ever tell her that?”

“I did, once. I was eight, and had struck a peer at school after he... well. He said some rather unkind things about my mother.”

“What did he say?”

“I do not believe your father or your grandmother would appreciate it if I told you.”

“Why?” Her eyes widened. “Was it a bad word?”

“Yes. In any case, the fact remains that he insulted her, and since he and his cohorts had been taunting me for several days prior to the incident, I... I lost control of my emotions. I struck him. Repeatedly.”

“... He sounds like a real bum,” Alice commented. “You shoulda kicked his butt.”

Spock’s lips quirked upward.

“Violence is not the answer, Alice.”

“What if they hit you first?”

“Then you may defend yourself, but... there is a saying amongst Vulcans. Ri klau au ik klau tu. Do no harm to those that harm you. Do you understand what that means?”

“Uh... don’t hit people even if they’re mean to you?”

“Essentially, yes. Although, if someone is threatening your livelihood or safety, then you may strike out at them, as that is self-preservation and therefore logical.”

“Okay... so what happened after that?”

“I was suspended from school, and my parents had an argument. I discussed my lack of control with my father, and I believe his advice may have made things... worse. In any case, my mother seemed unhappy with what had occurred, and I... I inquired if she would be more satisfied with her life had I been only Human rather than half-Vulcan.”

“... What did she say?”

“As one would expect, she was rather upset that I had ever suspected such a thing. However, she told me something interesting.”

“What was it?”

“She told me that she could not be sure if... if she would be happier had I been only Human, because then I would not be me. My Vulcan heritage is as much a part of me as my Humanity is. Were I only one race, then I would not be who I am now.” Spock’s lips quirked upward. “What she knew for certain, though, was that she loved me just the way I was, both Vulcan and Human, and yet neither. Because more important than any of that was that I am her son.”

Spock looked down at Alice and allowed himself to smile.

“And I am certain that your father would say the same thing were you to ask him.”

Alice looked at him for a moment, then smiled herself.

 


 

Jim was trying not to stare at all the older versions of his crewmates and friends.

Trying being the operant word, because what the fuck. He knew he sometimes liked to tease Bones by calling him an old man, but he’d never realized what an old Bones would actually look like. He was all wrinkly, and had grays, and for some reason he and Jim’s counterpart had switched eye colors with Jim and his Bones. Plus, Scotty seemed to be missing his right middle finger, and upon asking the story there he was told that he’d lost it in a game of poker with a Klingon, although since Scotty winked after he was pretty sure that was just a tall tale. And Sulu was apparently married to a woman, which was just all kinds of weird.

Nevermind seeing Chekov of all people as an older fellow. He’d kind of been under the impression that Chekov would be youthful and cute forever.

Uhura looked good though, which was completely unsurprising.

What he found more than a bit disturbing, though, was that his own counterpart seemed so much... younger than the rest of them. He wasn’t as young as Jim, but he wasn’t even close to old Spock’s age- not even taking the fact that Vulcans lived longer than Humans into account.

“So!” His counterpart finally said once they came back to the bridge. “I’m sure you’ve got some, eh, some questions for me?”

Jim hummed, crossing his arms across his chest.

“Well, actually, just one- where the fuck am I?”

“Right now? You’re on the USS Enterprise-A. Or, well, some sort of recreation of it.”

“Wh- okay, hold on, Enterprise- A? What happened to the plain old Enterprise?”

His counterpart opened his mouth to answer, then closed it.

“You know, I don’t... I don’t think I should tell you. From what you’ve told me about your version of events, I think it might be unwise to mess with your timeline much more.”

Jim gave his counterpart a look.

“You sound like Spock. Old Spock, I mean.”

His counterpart laughed.

“Well, that does tend to happen when you marry someone.”

“I guess-!” Jim froze, his eyes going wide as he slowly turned to look at his counterpart. “W... Wait, married?”

His counterpart blinked, then grinned sheepishly.

“Whoops.”

“I- You know what, I fucking knew it! I knew he was-! The way he was looking at me in that cave was nowhere near platonic!”

“Hey!” His counterpart protested. “That’s my husband, get your own!”

“I’m trying!”

They were both silent for a second, and Jim realized that he’d said that out loud. He blushed, clearing his throat and crossing his arms.

“Uh... I mean...”

“Don’t worry, kid, I get what you mean.” His counterpart chuckled. “Let me guess, he’s completely oblivious?”

“I genuinely don’t know how he hasn’t caught me staring at him at this point.” Jim groaned, shaking his head. “God, I’ve got it bad.”

His counterpart laughed.

“Well, for god’s sake, don’t do what I did.”

“And what was that?”

“Wait for him to make the first move. Trust me, he’s never gonna do it.”

Jim snorted.

“You’re assuming that he’s even into me that way.”

“Is he seeing someone else?”

“No.”

“Is he straight?”

“Decidedly not.”

“He’s interested. Trust me, if he’s anything like mine, he’s interested.”

Jim rolled his eyes, but couldn’t help the little spark of hope that rose up in his chest.

“... Do... do you miss him?”

His counterpart smiled sadly.

“Every day. You know, every time someone new appears, I keep thinking it’s going to be him.” He sighed. “But he’ll be along eventually. Even Vulcans don’t live forever.”

Jim was about to reply, but then the world got all wavy again.

“I, uh... I think my time’s up. Anything you want me to tell him?”

His counterpart snorted.

“Well, it’s a toss-up if he’ll believe you, but... tell him, ‘I am by your side, as I always have been and always shall be.’”

Jim wanted to comment on how cheesy (and Edith-like) that line was, but the world went dark before he could.

 


 

2259.74

Two point one three weeks after Khan’s attack, James T. Kirk awoke with a gasp.

It was the most wonderful sound Spock had ever heard.

“Oh, don’t be so melodramatic,” McCoy chastised, though his tone was light. “You were barely dead. It was the transfusion that really took is toll. You were out cold for two weeks.”

“T... Transfusion?”

Spock needed to amend his earlier statement. The sound of Jim’s voice was the most wonderful sound he’d ever heard.

“Your cells were heavily irradiated. We had no choice.”

“Khan?”

“Once we caught him, I synthesized a serum from his... superblood, or whatever the fuck. Tell me, are you feeling, uh, homicidal? Power mad? Despotic?”

“No more than usual. How’d you catch him?”

“I didn’t.” McCoy turned, gesturing for Spock to come into Jim’s line of sight.

Spock struggled to keep from smiling as he did so. Or crying. Truly, his emotional controls were in tatters.

The way Jim’s eyes lit up when he saw Spock did not help matters.

“You saved my life.”

“Uhura and I had somethin’ to do with it too, y’know,” McCoy commented.

Jim rolled his eyes, but still smiled.

Spock had to resist the urge to throw McCoy out of the room, lock the door, and kiss Jim senseless.

He may not have been as emotionally prepared for this as he’d thought.

“You saved my life, Captain. And the lives-!”

“Spock, just...” Another smile. Spock briefly considered just kissing him now, regardless of McCoy’s presence. “Thank you.”

You are my t’hy’la. You are precious. I would do anything for you. I would die to save you. I would die if I failed.

This is what Spock thought. What he said, however, was this.

“You are welcome, Jim.”

Jim smiled once more, then turned to McCoy.

“So, uh, when can I expect to see my daughter again do you think?”

“Considering I just messaged your ma to tell her you’re awake, I’d say you got... maybe ten minutes.”

Ten minutes, as it turned out, was a liberal estimate. Winona and Alice arrived seven point two six minutes later. Winona came charging in through the front door, all but scooping her son up into her arms and pressing a truly astounding amount of kisses to his face. Jim protested this, pointing out Spock and McCoy’s presence in the room, but McCoy informed him that, quote, “after what you put your poor mother through, you’re gonna sit there and be babied, doctor’s orders.”

Unlike her grandmother, Alice did not enter the room right away. Once the commotion had died down somewhat, they all noticed her hovering in the doorway, her eyes wide and her lips parted.

“Alice?” Jim started, smiling gently. “Buttercup, are you okay?”

Alice blinked once, then twice, three times.

Then her lip started to wobble. Her eyes filled with tears, and her shoulders began to shake. In a split second, she began wailing, her sobs echoing around the room.

“Oh, sweetheart,” Jim started, his own eyes filling with tears as his mother made her way over to Alice. She picked her up, shushing her gently as she carried her back over to Jim. Alice turned in her arms, reaching out to Jim and clinging to him as soon as she was in his arms. “Oh, oh, baby, buttercup, Alice, I’m so sorry, I’m so, so sorry...”

“D-Daaaaaaddy...” Alice hiccupped, burrowing into Jim’s shoulder. “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy...”

“I know, honey, I know, I’m sorry...” He pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Shh, I know... it’s okay, I’m here now, it’s okay...”

Neither McCoy nor Winona had dry eyes at this point.

Nor did Spock. He doubted they would hold it against him.

And if he decided to perhaps delay his confession to Jim, well.

He could hardly be blamed for not wanting to interrupt this moment.

 


 

2260.55

Jim sighed as he walked out onto the bridge, grinning when he saw Sulu in his chair.

“Hard to get out of it once you’ve had a taste, huh?” He teased lightly.

“Captain does have a nice ring to it, but... chair’s all yours, sir.”

Jim laughed as Sulu went back to the navigation console, pressing the intercom button.

“Scotty, how’s the core looking?”

“Purring like a kitten, Captain. She’s ready for a long journey.”

“Excellent.” He pressed another button. “Hey, buttercup, you all set up in your room?”

“Yup! Well, I have all the boxes in here, anyway. I don’t have to unpack them right now, do I?”

Jim laughed, shaking his head.

“No, Alice, you’re good. Sit tight, okay?”

“Kay! Love you, Daddy!”

Jim grinned, telling her he loved her back before hanging up. He jogged over to Bones, clapping him on the shoulder.

“Come on, Bones, it’s gonna be fun!”

He heard Bones mutter something about five years in space with Jim. He pretended that it was a compliment.

“Dr. Marcus,” he greeted cheerfully. “Glad you could join us. Welcome to the family.”

“It’s nice to be part of a family,” she replied before her eyes started to wander. Jim followed her gaze, grinning when he realized that she was looking at Nyota- who, by the way, had finally allowed him to be on a first name basis.

“She likes Thai food and lilies,” Jim informed Carol cheerfully. “Y’know, just in case you needed a clue.”

From the way Carol blushed, he was pretty sure it was appreciated.

“Spock!” He called as he joined his first officer in front of the navigation desk. Spock’s lips twitched upward, and Jim was reminded of how his counterpart had smiled when Jim relayed what apparently was his and Jim’s counterpart’s wedding vows.

God. Their counterparts were cheesy old farts.

He kinda hoped they’d be just as cheesy someday.

“So, uh... where should we go?”

“As a mission of this duration has never been attempted, I defer to your good judgement, Captain.”

Jim just grinned at him, watching as he went to his seat before taking his own.

“Mr. Sulu, take us out.”

Chapter Text

2260.63

Spock was acting... strangely.

That wasn’t actually all that weird in itself. Jim might have been smitten with the guy, but even he could admit that Spock was pretty odd by Human standards.

That’s not what this was, though. Spock was being weird even by Spock standards.

Exhibit A- he was being slightly emotional, which by Spock standards was basically reading pages from his diary to the entire crew and his mother. He’d been cursing under his breath- and forcing Jim to rediscover sexual frustration anew yet again- and he’d been... twitchy.

Exhibit B- Bones, being the concerned CMO they all knew and lived in hypo-based fear of, had suggested that Spock report to sickbay for an examination. Spock’s reply, according to Bones, was, “You will cease to pry into my personal matters, Doctor, or I shall certainly break your neck.”

Which, if it hadn’t been directed at a dear friend and a fellow officer, Jim would have found horribly arousing.

And now, exhibit C- Chapel, who was apparently completely unable to take a hint, had brought Spock a bowl of plomeek soup. In response to this kind but horribly misguided gesture, Spock had yelled at her, literally thrown the bowl against the wall, and then tossed her out. Upon seeing Jim, he’d then requested shore leave on New Vulcan, refusing to elaborate further.

Which brought them to here and now, in Spock’s quarters.

“Alright, Spock, let’s have it. What’s been going on with you lately?”

“It is undignified for a woman to play servant to a man who is not hers.”

Jim blinked, then arched an eyebrow.

“Uh, okay, a lot to unpack there. First, Chapel wasn’t playing servant, she was doing something nice for you, because apparently she has yet to realize that you and Sulu have more in common than being giant nerds-!”

“Captain. Your point?”

“Well, point one is don’t be a sexist dick, Spock, come on. Two, what’s this about shore leave all of the sudden? We only got off the ground like, a week ago, and that was after a year-!”

“The reason behind my request does not matter, sir.” Spock looked like he was about to fall apart. Or maybe ravish Jim, which was... well, it was doing something for him, even if it was probably just wishful thinking. “Do you permit it?”

“Spock, what’s going on with you? Last time we had shore leave, you were all like, ‘Vulcans don’t take vacations, we’re far too logical for such frivolities-!’”

“This is not a vacation, Jim. I have accumulated enough leave time, have I not?”

“Didn’t you take Alice over to New Vulcan a few months ago?”

“By my count, I still have over two weeks of leave time accumulated.”

“Okay, but that’s not really the point, Spock. Tell me what’s wrong, please?”

Spock looked... deeply uncomfortable, looking down as he took a seat at the desk in his quarters. He didn’t respond, so Jim sighed.

“Look, if... if something’s wrong with your mom-!”

“My mother is well, Captain. As is the Ambassador.”

“Oh. And you don’t talk to your brother, so...”

“It has nothing to do with my family, sir.”

Jim frowned, quirking an eyebrow.

“Well, since we’re headed for Altair VI, and since the shore facilities there are excellent-!”

“No!” Spock bellowed, bursting out of his chair and grabbing Jim by the shoulders. “I must-!”

He froze, the tips of his ears turning green, followed by the rest of his face. Jim felt his own cheeks heat up, swallowing hard as he looked into those dark eyes.

Spock’s eyes flickered downward, and if Jim didn’t know better, he’d think he was looking at his lips, which had parted slightly without him noticing.

He resisted the urge to lick them, or bite them.

And to just plant one on Spock, that seemed like a really bad idea right now.

And all the time. It was never going to be the right time, no matter what his and Spock’s counterparts had done.

Spock let go after a moment, clearing his throat and looking away.

“I... I wish to take my leave on New Vulcan.”

Jim frowned, taking a step towards him.

“Spock, I’m asking you... what’s wrong? I’m... I’m worried about you.”

Something like desperation flashed in Spock’s eyes.

“I... I need rest, sir. I am asking you to accept that answer.”

Jim really didn’t believe that was it, but he also was pretty sure he wasn’t going to get a straight answer. Instead, he just sighed, walking over to the intercom and telling Chekov to set a new course for New Vulcan.

“Thank you, Captain,” Spock stated, looking almost heartbreakingly relieved.

“No problem, Spock.” He shrugged. “Guess even Vulcans aren’t indestructible, huh?”

Jim could have sworn he saw Spock smile ruefully as he left.

 


 

2260.64

Spock was in control.

He was in control. The fire would not overwhelm him yet. It may have taken him by surprise, being so early, but it would not take him.

He would handle this. Somehow.

He would not tell anyone.

He would not tell Jim.

He would not grab Jim, pull him into his quarters, kiss him senseless before tossing him onto his bed and-!

Spock bit down on his lower lip hard.

No. This was not Jim’s problem. This was no one’s problem but his own, and T’Pring’s.

The only picture of her he had was from their bonding ceremony on Vulcan-that-was. She had been nine, and he had been seven. She did not like him, and he did not like her.

However, they were compatible. And so, they would marry.

Nevermind that all Spock wanted was Jim, to have and hold for the rest of his days, to cherish and support, to love and live with and share his bed with-!

The door buzzed, pulling him from his thoughts. He quickly switched the screen off before pressing the intercom button.

“Come in.”

It was perhaps tempting fate that Jim was the one at his door.

T’hy’la my heart my soul my everything need you mine mine MINE

“... Captain.”

Jim gave him a long, hard look.

“Guess where I just was, Spock.”

“Considering that it is approximately 1500 hours, sir, I would guess that you were greeting Alice after she finished her classes for the day.”

“Nope. I was talking to Bones. He told me something... interesting.”

Spock was nearly too focused on the movement of Jim’s lips to comprehend that.

“Interesting, sir?”

“Yup. You, my friend, are totally out of whack body-wise. In fact, you’re wound up so tight, Bones is pretty sure that you’re gonna kick the bucket unless something is done. What is it?”

Spock swallowed thickly, willing his heart to slow in pace. He looked down at his lap, a layer of shame adding to his already chaotic emotional state.

“Is... is it something that only going to New Vulcan can fix for you?”

Spock didn’t look up at him, instead reaching for his PADD.

“Spock, would you please look at me!”

Jim grabbed his wrist before Spock could retract it, his palm cupping Spock’s fist.

His skin was... it was much warmer than Spock’s own. That, plus the waves of concern emanating from him, was almost enough to shatter his last ounce of self control; his hand shook as he tried to keep himself from pushing Jim to the wall and kissing him within an inch of his life.

“Spock...”

Spock swallowed once more, pulling his hand away while keeping his gaze on the ground.

“... You’ve been called the best first officer in the ‘Fleet, Spock.”

“As I recall, the only one who has ever addressed me as such is Dr. McCoy.”

“That doesn’t mean it’s not true. Spock, come on, let... let me help you, or... if I have to lose you, I at least want to know why.”

Spock’s urges shifted once more- while the flames of desire still licked at him, now all Spock wanted to do was pull Jim into his arms and hold him close.

If this did not kill him, his emotional state very well might.

He stood, walking towards his bed and turning so that his back was to Jim.

“... It is a thing no outworlder may know, save for those few who have been involved.” If he had not been so... utterly embarrassed, Spock would have noted that it had been his mother, not his father, who explained the realities of his biology to him, including this. Having been a teacher prior to becoming a diplomat, she was more comfortable explaining things like this, although her frankness had been... disquieting. “A... A Vulcan understands, but... even we do not speak of it amongst ourselves. It... it is a deeply personal thing. Can’t you see that, Captain, and understand?”

“... No, I don’t understand, now explain. Consider that an order.”

There was absolutely no possibility for Spock not to blush at that.

“Captain, there are some things which transcend even the discipline of the service.

“Think of it like this, Spock, I’ve got a half-Vulcan daughter who might go through this someday and I don’t want her to suffer.”

There were more than a few errors with that assumption, but Spock did not have the will to debate that point.

“I... I cannot...”

He heard Jim sigh, then suddenly felt his arm brush his. Spock went ramrod straight, refusing to look at his captain.

“Would it help if I told you that I’ll treat this as totally confidential? Seriously, I won’t even tell Bones... might have to tell Alice, but I’ll be as vague as I can be.”

Spock swallowed, then turned around, taking a step away from him.

“It... It has to do with... biology.”

“What?”

“... Biology.”

Jim was silent for a moment, then walked up next to him once more.

“What... what kind of biology-!”

“Vulcan biology.”

“Y... You mean, uh... the biology of Vulcans?”

Spock nodded, his face feeling as though it were engulfed in flames.

“Biology as in... y’know... reproduction?”

He nodded once more, sure he’d never be able to look Jim in the eye ever again if he survived this conversation, let alone his Time.

They were both silent for a good ten seconds. Spock found it too difficult to be more precise than that.

“W-Well, uh... no need to be embarrassed, Spock, it’s... it happens to everyone, right? Y’know, the birds and the bees-!”

“The birds and the bees are not Vulcans, Jim. If they were... if any creature as proudly logical as us were to have their logic ripped from them as this time does to us...” He swallowed, finally forcing himself to look at his captain. “How do Vulcans choose their mates?”

Jim had an... odd look on his face. He was also quite flushed.

“Uh. Um. What?”

“Haven’t you ever wondered?”

“I... logically, I guess?”

Spock wanted to laugh as he walked back to his chair and sat down, although he did not find that funny.

“No, sir. It is shrouded in secret, an ancient ritual done when we are children to... you have no conception as a Human. It... it strips our minds from us, brings a madness which rips aways our veneer of civilization. It is the pon farr, the Time of Mating.”

Jim’s face had become even more flushed, and his mouth was now hanging open. Spock resisted the urge to... to put his fingers in that welcoming, beautiful mouth, to order his captain to suck-!

He bit his lip, crossing his legs. That would be wrong. Jim did not want this. He could not want this, T’Pring would only put up with it out of obligation.

“S... Spock... did... did this just sneak up on you or something?”

“I... it usually does not begin until one’s late thirties at the earliest. As I am only thirty, I had thought I still had time before I would have to... it is most likely a result of the, the decimation of my species. My Time has come early because we are near extinction, it is a matter of preserving our race.”

“But... aren’t you, y’know... infertile?”

Spock must have flinched, because Jim quickly attempted to retract that statement.

“N-No, I mean, not... just, if it’s a reproductive urge, and you can’t... y’know, then why are you going through it?”

“I am uncertain. One possibility is that the urge does not take infertility into account, as Vulcans go through it even at advanced ages. Another is that... that I am not infertile after all.”

“W-Well, uh, that’s... that’s great, isn’t it? You might be able to have little Spocklings after all!”

Spock’s lips twitched upward as he shook his head.

“It is still almost totally irrelevant, considering that I would normally be unlikely to enter a union that will bear children. But even then, I cannot... I cannot resist the ancient drives of my father’s race. I must go to New Vulcan, and... and take a wife.”

Spock now understood what McCoy meant when he said that he was able to hear the gears turning in Jim’s head.

“W... Wait, what?! But- but you’re gay!”

“Indeed.”

“But you’re going to take a wife?”

“I must.”

“But that sucks!”

Spock’s lips twitched upward.

“It is what I must do.”

“But- but Spock, that’s- that’s awful! For both you and whatever girl you have to, I don’t know, lead on-!”

“You misunderstand, Captain. In... in a sense, I am already married.”

“... Come again?”

“On Vulcan, when we are children, we participate in a... a bonding ceremony. This establishes a preliminary marital bond, which will be put in place upon the commencement of pon farr.”

“So, wait, your... your super logical society still practices child marriage?”

Spock flushed.

“We... we were not expected to... I was seven at the time, Jim, I did not have a choice in the matter.”

“Seven-! Christ on a bike, okay, this is one Vulcan tradition my daughter’s gonna have no part in, ya hear? Besides the fact that it’s creepy, Spock, it totally ignores a lot of important shit! Like, what if she’s a lesbian? Or asexual? Hell, maybe she’ll discover she’s actually a boy, or maybe she just won’t want to get married! Or married to whatever guy she gets set up with! All of this seems like it should have been taken into account first!”

“I will admit that... it is not the most logical practice, but it has persisted for millennia, and now, in this time of crisis, it is more important than ever that I... Jim. I must do this. I must go to New Vulcan and... and marry.”

Marry. Marriage.

Marriage to T’Pring.

Not to Jim. Not to his t’hy’la, the one person in the universe he truly wished to spend his life with.

“Spock...” He heard Jim swallow, then watched as he stood up. “Okay.”

Spock blinked.

“Captain?”

“I didn’t hear a word you just said, alright?” Jim smiled weakly. “Don’t worry, Spock, I... I’ll figure something out.”

Then stay. Stay, and let me love you in every way you deserve, even if I...

Jim was gone before he could even think of saying any of that.

 


 

2260.65

“Jim, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but would ya cut it out with the sunscreen already? You smell like a coconut juice factory.”

Jim glared at Bones as he applied a little more sunscreen to his nose.

“New Vulcan is a desert planet, Bones. That means lots of sun, and the thing about Kirks is that we? We don’t tan. We burn. We burn like the whitest white bread left in the toaster too long.”

Spock cleared his throat as he stepped onto the transporter pad, giving them all a pointed look. Jim could see the fire burning in his eyes, just barely controlled now, but if they didn’t get down to the surface soon...

Jim shivered. He’d... he’d kind of like to see that, honestly.

Not that he ever would. Because Spock didn’t... he would never see him that way. He’d know by now if he did, because there was no way that Spock could have kept it from him, not when he was like this.

And now they were on their way to Spock’s wedding. To a woman he didn’t love, couldn’t love that way.

Man he wished he could punch his counterpart in the face for getting his hopes up.

“Captain?” Nyota called from the transporter pad. “Captain, it’s time.”

“Right, right...”

As Jim had expected, New Vulcan was hot as shit, as well as being extremely similar to the surface of Mars. They had to walk across a long bridge to get where they needed to go, and by the time they got there, Jim was about to soak through his shirt from sweat.

“Christ, now I know what they mean when they say ‘hot as Vulc-!’”

“Jim,” Nyota chastised, glancing at Spock pointedly.

“Oh, uh, sorry, Spock.”

“It... it is of no consequence. In any case, this... this is the land allotted to my family here. It is smaller than our ancestral lands, but... it is ours.”

Jim decided it wasn’t in his best interest to point out that said land was just a circular arena-stye area with a big green gong thing in the middle.

“This is our place of koonut kaliffee.”

Spock didn’t translate, so he turned to Nyota.

“Uh, place of marriage or... something else? Marriage is a part of the Vulcan language they don’t really teach, Jim.”

“Oh.” Jim hesitated, then cleared his throat. “Hey, uh, Nyota?”

“Hm?”

“I’m... I’m not being an xenophobic dickbag if I don’t want Alice to go through with the whole bonding ceremony, right? I mean, I know it’s important to Vulcans, but...”

Nyota quirked an eyebrow.

“Shouldn’t you ask Spock that?”

“Yeah, he didn’t seem too thrilled about any of this, so he might not actually be all that objective here. I tried M’Benga, since he’s our resident non-Vulcan Vulcan expert, but he told me this was part of Vulcan culture he wasn’t allowed to witness.”

Nyota shrugged.

“Honestly? I think this is all kinds of weird, but I’m not a Vulcan. Knowing what I know about Alice, though, I’m gonna say you’re making a good call here. I can’t imagine her being thrilled about you deciding who’s she’s allowed to marry.”

“Yeah, I can’t imagine a scenario like that that doesn’t end with her kicking me in the shin-!”

A loud clang interrupted their conversation, and when Jim turned around he saw that Spock had hit the gong with a little hammer thing.

“The marriage party approaches,” Spock informed them. “I hear them.”

“I can’t believe that they’re making you do a whole ceremony first,” Bones commented. “In your state, you’re more likely to drop dead before getting through the-!”

Spock hit the gong again, and Jim finally realized that the weird jingling noise was getting closer. A group of oddly-dressed Vulcans entered the arena, and Jim’s eyes widened when he saw the old woman enter behind them, carried in a seat by two guards.

“Nyota,” he whispered excitedly, grabbing her arm, “Nyota, Nyota, it’s her.”

“I know, I can’t believe this!”

“What?” Bones whispered. “Who is she?”

“She’s T’Pau!” Nyota explained in a hushed voice.

“Fucking T’Pau, Bones!”

“... and that’s exciting because?”

“Bones! She’s the only person ever to turn down a seat on the Federation Council!”

“And she’s the one officiating! Spock never told us his family was such a big deal!”

Bones scoffed, rolling his eyes.

“Right, you two are history nerds, how could I have forgotten?”

“Stuff it, Bones, this is the best day of my life!” Jim paused. “Well, besides the day I met Alice.”

Of course, Jim’s excitement couldn’t last- not once T’Pring entered the arena. She was... well, she was objectively beautiful, Jim supposed, but... Jim couldn’t shake how wrong she was for Spock.

Mostly because she was a she at all.

The guards placed T’Pau on a little platform, and she raised her hand in the ta’al. Spock approached her, his own hand raised in the greeting, then kneeled in front of her, allowing her to touch his face.

Once Spock stood, T’Pau glanced over at them. Both Nyota and Jim went ramrod straight, and Nyota elbowed Bones to do the same.

“Spock, are our ceremonies for outworlders?”

“They are not outworlders. They are my friends, and Captain James T. Kirk is an honorary Vulcan citizen.”

“I am?” Jim asked.

“Yes. You are Alice’s father and you share a parental bond with her, therefore you have honorary citizenship.”

“And you didn’t think to tell me this earlier?”

“It was not relevant earlier, sir.”

Jim wanted to argue the point, but Nyota put a hand on his shoulder and shook her head.

“I am permitted this,” Spock insisted. T’Pau looked at him for a moment, then gestured for them to come over.

Jim resisted the urge to squeal in joy, holding back a stupid grin as they stood in front of T’Pau.

“This is Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the USS Enterprise. He is father to Alice Georgina T’Vaakis Kirk, daughter of T’Vin, granddaughter of Chu’lak.”

“M... Ma’am.”

T’Pau stared at him for a good minute. He kind of felt like he was under a microscope.

Then she turned to Nyota.

“And thee are called?”

“Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, ma’am.”

“And thee?”

“Dr. Leonard McCoy, ma’am.”

T’Pau turned back to Spock, eyebrow arched.

“Thee names these outworlders friends. How does thee pledge their behavior?”

“With my life, T’Pau.”

Jim had to fight a grin at that, a warm, fuzzy feeling spreading in his chest.

“What they are about to see comes down from the time of the beginning without change. This is the Vulcan heart. This is the Vulcan soul. This is our way.” She reached out her hand. “Kaliffarr.”

Two of the guards started vigorously jingling some kind of chime-abacus combo. Spock grimaced at the sound, and Jim had to resist the urge to comfort him. Instead, he just watched as Spock walked over to the gong again, followed by T’Pring and the jingling guards. Before Spock could bang the gong, though, T’Pring raised her hand in front of it.

“Kahiffee!”

The jingling stopped; everything stopped. Spock stared at T’Pring for a moment, then slowly walked back towards T’Pau. A guard with some kind of big spear stopped him, and Spock looked completely lost before he dropped his hammer thing and walked over to the side of the arena.

“What... what just happened? Is this part of the ceremony?”

“No. She chooses the challenge.”

“What, with him?” Bones asked, pointing at the guard.

“He acts only if cowardice is seen. She will choose her champion.”

Jim’s mouth fell open, and he looked to Spock, who was leaning up against the wall, fingers tented and brow furrowed.

“Spock-!”

“Do not attempt to speak at him, father of Alice. He is deep in the plak tow, the blood fever. He will not speak with thee again, until he has passed through what is to come. If thee wishes to depart, thee may leave now.”

“What? No, we’re staying!”

“Jim, if this blood fever thing-!”

“We’re staying.”

T’Pau looked almost impressed.

“Spock chose his friends well. Thy daughter is in the care of one well-prepared for her upbringing.”

Jim couldn’t help but grin.

“Well, I do my best.”

“Ma’am, I don’t understand. Are you trying to say that she rejected him, that she doesn’t want him?”

T’Pring, apparently, had terrible taste. Although considering that Spock wasn’t really into her, either, it was probably for the best.

“He will have to fight for her. It is her right. T’Pring, thee has chosen the kaliffee, the challenge. Is thou prepared to become the property of the victor?”

“I am prepared.”

Jim blinked, leaning over to Nyota a bit.

“Now, I’m a dude, so I might be off the mark here, but-!”

“If your current thoughts can be summed up as ‘yikes,’ then I agree.”

“Oh, good, not just me then.”

“Spock, does thee accept challenge, according to our laws and customs?”

Spock didn’t verbally answer, but T’Pau took his pained look as a yes.

“T’Pring, thee will chose thy champion.”

T’Pring didn’t respond for a moment, clasping her hands over her chest and walking towards them.

“As it was in the dawn of our days, as it is today, as it will be for all our tomorrows, I make my choice.” She pointed at Jim. “This one.”

Jim blinked, then pointed at himself.

“Uh... what?”

“Father of Alice. T’Pring is within her rights, but our laws and customs are not binding on thee, though thy daughter is Vulcan. Thee are free to decline, with no harm on thyself or on thy child.” She stood, and Jim helped her down, watching as she walked over to the gong.

“Well?” Nyota asked.

“Well, what?”

“Are you gonna do it?” Bones asked.

“What, fight Spock for a woman I just met? Does that not sound completely bonkers to you guys?”

“It’s their custom, Jim,” Bones pointed out.

“That doesn’t make it right, Leonard,” Nyota countered.

“Yeah, but if Spock doesn’t get down and dirty with this lady, he’s gonna burn out!”

Jim hesitated, looking over at Spock and T’Pau. Spock had a desperate look on his face as he begged T’Pau not to allow this to happen, because Jim didn’t understand, and he couldn’t fight him, not for this.

Jim’s heart fluttered, and he swallowed hard.

“Guys, I... I have a confession to make.”

Nyota and Bones looked at each other, then back at him.

No running from it now. Jim took a deep breath.

“I... I think... I think I might be in love with Spock.”

They both blinked. Their expressions didn’t change.

“... and?” Bones prompted.

“Wh- what do you mean, and?”

“What’s the confession?” Nyota clarified.

“That- that was the confession, I just told you that I’m in love with my first officer!”

“Okay, yeah, but- wait, is... Jim, did you just realize this now?”

“Oh, honey,” Nyota breathed.

“I- don’t ‘honey’ me, how long have you known?!”

“Nibiru,” both of them answered.

“Though to be fair, I started suspecting something was up around the Horta incident,” Bones added.

“Corbomite incident for me,” Nyota clarified.

“Really?”

“He kept comming Spock with his shirt off, Len, it was a little-!”

“Okay!” Jim finally interrupted. “Okay, that’s- Nyota, seriously, how? I... I didn’t even realize it til after Kodos.”

Nyota gave him a look.

“Shirtless comming, Jim. Plus, you kept flirting with him. Like, a lot.”

Jim’s ears were burning for reasons that had nothing to do with the sun.

“Does- does anyone else know?”

“Sulu,” Nyota started.

“Chekov.”

“Carol.”

“Scotty thinks you’re already together. This might crush him.”

“Yeah. Oh, and Alice knows.”

“What?!”

“Wait, you didn’t know she knows? Wow, I thought she’d be on your ass about this.”

Jim groaned, covering his face.

“My six-year-old daughter knows I’ve got a thing for my first officer. Am... am I that obvious?”

Bones snorted.

“Not obvious enough for him to know. Which, by the way, if you’d told him, we might not be in this mess.”

Jim blinked.

“What?”

Both Nyota and Bones looked at him incredulously.

“Oh my god,” Nyota groaned.

“Seriously, Jim? He’s spent the last week looking like he wants to eat you.”

“B-Because he’s in heat! He’d probably screw Keenser if Keenser were okay with it!”

“I don’t think that’s how this-!”

“Father of Alice. Hast thou made thy decision?”

Jim swallowed, glancing at Bones and Nyota once more before stepping up.

“What... what happens if I say no?”

“Another champion will be selected. It is thy choice, Captain.”

He swallowed once more, looking at Spock. His first officer looked like he might fall apart any minute now, wincing when the jingling was close to his ears. If Jim could just knock him out without hurting him too badly...

“Okay. I’ll do it.”

And hopefully, he’d do it without coming in his pants like a teenager- he’d seen how Vulcans fought.

Of course, then T’Pau informed him that this would be a fight to the death.

“B-But, but, but... I can’t kill Spock!”

“The challenge was given, and lawfully accepted. It has begun. Let no one interfere.”

A guard handed Jim a spear-thing, and they were off; Spock all but charged at him with his own spear.

And god, Jim wished that was as sexual as it sounded.

He’d underestimated Spock’s capabilities, it turned out- Jim’s shirt became a casualty within two minutes of the start of the fight. His first officer was barely recognizable now, an animal moving on pure instinct, unable to feel anything but rage and need.

Jim really hated his masochistic streak at the moment. Quite frankly a boner was the last thing he needed right now.

Bones managed to throw Spock off his game by yelling at him, giving Jim a chance to avoid getting his head cut off and kick him back. T’Pau put a stop to the fight, chastising Bones for his interference.

Jim was just glad for the chance to catch his breath and... adjust himself. He really hoped that, if he and Spock both somehow made it out of this, Spock wouldn’t remember the fact that Jim had spent the vast majority of their fight hard as a rock.

“You’re gonna have to kill him, Jim,” Bones informed him before sticking something in his arm.

“Ow! What was that for?”

“It’s a triox compound to help you breathe, dumbass. Listen, you have to kill Spock, or else he’s gonna kill you.”

“I’m pretty sure Spock not dying was the point of all of this!”

“It’s the only way! Now be careful!”

“Oh, great medical advice, Bones!” Jim called as he walked away, slowly getting to his feet. The guards came and gave both him and Spock these white ribbons, and seconds later Jim found himself on his back. He somehow managed to get Spock to pull him back up, tossing him to the ground.

One blur of motion later, they were wrestling in the dirt, which was not helpful for Jim’s stupidly aroused dick.

What was even worse was that Jim was about eight-nine percent sure that he wasn’t the only one with that issue here. There was almost definitely something poking into his thigh every time he managed to pin or be pinned by Spock. Weirder still, it felt like something was boiling in his gut and making heat lick at his brain, sorta like he'd assumed Spock must have been feeling, and it was... kinda making him dizzy.

Actually, that might not have been Spock. He’d been feeling a little dizzy since Bones stuck him with whatever the fuck was in that hypo.

Now was really not the time for a nap, but... well, maybe if he just closed his eyes...

Spock was actually kind of soft. It might be... nice to fall asleep on top of him...

 


 

Jim was gone.

His t’hy’la was gone, again, and it was his fault this time.

It was his fault, he’d lost control and lost himself, and now... now Jim was...

“Spock, would you just wait for half a minute and listen-!”

“There is nothing to listen to, Doctor. I shall be resigning my commission immediately and turning myself into the authorities.”

“Spock, I-!”

“I would appreciate if you would handle contacting the captain’s family about handling his... arrangements. I... I do not believe I would be able to-!”

The doors to the medbay opened.

“Uncle Bones? Mr. Spock?”

Spock’s stomach lurched, a cold sensation flowing through him as he turned to look at Alice.

“Where’s Daddy? He didn’t come see me after my classes ended.”

Guilt threatened to eat Spock alive as he walked over to- to the daughter of the man he’d killed, a child who was as precious to him as his own child would be, and kneeled down.

“I... Alice...” He swallowed, unable to look her in the eyes. “I am deeply sorry, I... your father is gone.”

Alice blinked, then tilted her head.

“No he’s not.”

Spock blinked, then felt his heart sink.

“Alice, I know that this is... that this must be difficult, after what happened last year, but I am certain that your father is no longer-!”

“Mr. Spock, Daddy’s right over there,” Alice interrupted, pointing at the door to the infirmary. “He’s waiting behind the door to try and... Daddy, why are you trying to surprise Mr. Spock? It’s not his birthday.”

Before Spock could speak again, the door to the infirmary opened.

“Aw, buttercup, you spoiled my fun!”

Spock’s heart stopped.

“C... Captain...?”

Jim grinned at him sheepishly.

“Ah-heh. Sorry, Spock, I just... I never get to get the drop on you like this, so I kinda wanted to see if I could pop out at-!”

“Jim!”

Spock did not realize he had stood up. Nor did he realize that he was running. One moment, he was kneeling by Alice’s side, and the next...

The next moment, he had wrapped his arms around Jim’s waist and lifted him into the air, spinning him around joyously.

He was laughing, and smiling, and just so overwhelmingly relieved and happy and... and...

And Alice, McCoy, and Chapel were all still in the room. They were all... grinning.

Spock’s ears and cheeks began to burn as he placed the captain safely on the ground, releasing his grip on him and clearing his throat.

“I’m... pleased... to see you, Captain. You seem... uninjured. I am at something of a loss to understand it however.”

Jim’s face was rather pink, most likely from being spun around. He was grinning as he glanced at McCoy.

“Blame Bones. That was no triox compound he shot me with, it was some sort of neuro paralyzer.” Jim crossed his arms. “Which, by the way, why do you have that?”

“Have you met you? Better safe than sorry, kid.”

“Well, whatever. It knocked me out, simulated death. Believe me, I wasn’t in on the whole, ‘fake my death’ thing, and I’m a little miffed because I may never be able to really talk to T’Pau, which sucks.”

“In... Indeed.”

“Ah, Nurse, would you mind, please?”

Chapel nodded, smiling at Spock once more before guiding Alice out of the medbay.

“Spock, what happened down there?” McCoy asked. “T’Pring? The wedding?”

“Ah. Well.” Spock cleared his throat. “It was most interesting. During the flames of my pon farr, I deeply desired her. Once I... once I believed I had killed the captain, though, that desire was gone. Somehow, I ended my pon farr through combat.”

This may have only been partially true. That fight had pushed Jim and himself into extremely close physical proximity, and, well... it had been a very close thing that Spock did not...

He blushed, clearing his throat. The captain and the good doctor did not necessarily need to know that.

There was a call on the intercom, and Uhura informed them that Starfleet had allowed Spock to go to New Vulcan after all, thanks to a request made by T’Pau.

“Huh. Y’know, I forgot all about that. Well, whatever. Chekov, lay in a course for Altair VI. Leave orbit when ready. Kirk out.”

“There’s just one more thing, Mr. Spock,” McCoy started, eyebrow arched knowingly. “Now, you can’t tell me that when you realized Jim was alive you didn’t feel anything. I thought you were about to bring the house down with that little emotional scene!”

Spock fought another blush.

“It... it was merely leftover emotional exhaustion from my Time combined with my relief at the captain being alive that caused that, doctor. He is a highly proficient captain, after all, it would be a great loss to Starfleet if he were to perish.”

And an even greater loss to Spock.

Jim’s eyes were twinkling with amusement.

“Yes, Mr. Spock, I understand.”

“Thank you, Captain.”

McCoy rolled his eyes.

“Course, Spock, your reaction was totally logical.”

“Indeed,” Spock confirmed as he started to walk away.

“... In a pig’s eye!”

Jim began laughing as they left the medbay, shaking his head. They looked at each other for a moment. Spock was unsure of what to say.

Well. That was partially untrue. He knew what he wanted to say.

I love you. I cherish thee. My t’hy’la, be mine, always.

He did not say that, though.

“So, uh... you’d probably better go rest, huh? I mean, you’ve had a hell of a day.”

“You have also, sir. Perhaps you ought to rest yourself.”

Jim rolled his eyes, then cleared his throat.

“So, uh... now that you’re, y’know, more clear-headed...”

Spock arched an eyebrow.

“Captain?”

“Just... just Jim right now, please. Look, I know you said you don’t discuss it with outworlders, but you also said that I’m technically a Vulcan citizen, and since Alice might go through it one day...”

Spock did not blush.

Much.

“Jim, while I understand your concern, there are some differences between Alice and I. For one, since she was assigned female at birth, her Time will most likely come much later in life, around age forty-five if we take into account her Humanity. In addition, it may only come a few times, rather than every seven years as is the case with cisgender Vulcan males.”

“What about transgender Vulcans?”

“While there are some who medically transition from one binary gender to the other, because of the... secrecy surrounding pon farr there is not very much data on how that affects our cycles overall. As for those who do not medically transition, there is still little data, but I would assume the rates are similar to cisgender Vulcans. As far as I can tell, it seems mainly based on biological sex.”

“Huh. Neat.” Jim blinked, then frowned. “Wait, you mean you’re gonna have to do this again in seven years?”

“And every seven years for the rest of my life.”

“So I have to wrestle you in the dirt every seven years?”

Spock held back a flush, trying not to remember the sensation of Jim’s body on his, or how much more he could do to him in private, in his bed-!

“Spock?”

Spock blinked, then cleared his throat, his ears burning.

“I do not... I do not believe that will be necessary, Captain. The challenge was a result of T’Pring not wanting to be bonded to me, which, to be frank, I understand.”

“Aw, Spock, come on, you’re great! She doesn’t know what she’s missing.”

Spock’s lips quirked upward as Jim followed him into the turbolift.

“Thank you, sir, but I had meant that I did not wish to be bonded to her either. I had been dreading this event since the onset of puberty, if I am honest.”

“Really? Then why didn’t you try to break it off?”

“I could not. Once the bond is in place, the only way to break it is through the kaliffee, which can only be done when the bond is about to be solidified.”

“Geez...” Jim muttered as they exited the turbolift. “Spock, I know I’m coming at this as an outsider, but honestly? This whole thing kinda seems... antiquated.”

“It is the way it has been done since before Surak.”

“Okay, but after Surak, you got rid of war.”

“This is true, but... well, not even Vulcans are able to resist biological urges, I suppose. The system made sense back then.”

Jim shrugged as he came to a stop.

“Well, I can’t say that I think it makes sense now. I’m just glad that you’re okay.”

I am thanks to you. Come inside, so I may properly show you my gratitude.

“I am glad to be past it,” Spock said instead as he entered the code for his quarters. “And... I am thankful that you helped me through this, Jim.”

To his surprise, the captain blushed before he started chuckling nervously, rubbing the back of his neck.

“W-Well, yeah, I mean, what friends for if... if they won’t wrestle you in the dirt to help you get rid of ancient mating urges, I guess.”

Spock’s lips quirked upward, a little too close to a smile for his liking.

Well. Normally, in any case.

“Indeed. Good evening, Jim.”

Jim smiled warmly, and Spock’s heartbeat spiked.

“Get some rest, Spock. I think you’ve earned it.”

Spock nodded, then entered his quarters.

“Computer, initiate total lockdown, emergency and medical override only.”

“Lockdown initiated.”

Spock sighed, then stripped out of his uniform top and boots as he made his way over to his bed, collapsing onto it while still in his undershirt and regulation pants. The only movement he made was with his feet, using his toes to peel off his socks.

Jim had not been wrong when he said that Spock was sure to require rest. For Vulcans, the first pon farr was the most exhausting, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Of course, for Spock, the issue was expounded because he did not have a mate to help him through it. One’s bondmate was meant to assist in both the treatment of pon farr and the aftermath, after all.

But Spock had no bondmate. His betrothed had not wished to be with him, nor he with her, and his t’hy’la...

Spock grimaced, gripping at his pillow. Now that his pon farr had ended, there was no reason that he should not inform Jim what he truly was to him. That he should not tell him that he meant everything to him.

Or, rather, there was one reason: Spock was a coward. He was afraid that Jim would not want him as well, that he would be rejected by the man he loved. He was afraid that he would lose Jim completely, not to death but to disgust, and he... he found that to be a worse fate than the pain of loving him from afar.

Spock sighed, rolling onto his side and curling up a bit.

Thinking about this was not going to help. He needed to rest now.

He would feel better after he... slept for a period of time....

...

Jim was once again on top of him, straddling his hips. As it had been on New Vulcan, there was heat and want and something hard and insistent brushing up against him.

However, this time, they were not on New Vulcan, grappling in the dirt in front of their friends, Spock’s betrothed, and a respected member of Vulcan society. Instead, they were in Spock’s quarters, tangled in soft sheets with the lights dimmed to twenty percent.

They were also quite naked.

“Ah... god, Spock...”

Jim was not choking this time. He was, however, panting quite heavily, his face and chest flushed red as he moved up and down, bouncing on... Spock was inside...

Jim slowed in his movements, clenching around Spock and gasping breathlessly. Spock’s hips stuttered upward involuntarily, and he heard a high-pitched whine, flushing in embarrassment when he realized it had come from him.

Jim grinned, leaning down and kissing him as he took Spock’s hand.

“S... S’okay, Spock, don’t... don’t hold back on me now...”

“I...”

Jim clenched again, wrenching a moan from Spock’s throat.

“Wanna hear it, wanna know you feel good, love you so, so much, come on, baby-!”

Spock growled, grabbing Jim by the hips and flipping them over. He nuzzled Jim’s throat, kissing his Adam’s apple before thrusting into him hard. Jim gasped, locking his legs around Spock’s waist and wrapping his arms around his neck.

“Oh, fuck, Spock, th-that’s, that’s perfect-!”

Spock kissed him gently, then deeper as he moved within Jim faster.

“Ashayam,” he whispered. “Ashayam, dearest one, k’hat’n’dlawa, my t’hy’la, I... I love you...”

Perhaps it was un-Vulcan of him to admit such a thing aloud, but Jim didn't seem to mind- in fact, it seemed to spur him on further, as he moaned and reached in between them to touch himself.

“God, god, I love you too, you’re perfect, I wanna be with you forever, oh... S-Spock, I, I’m gonna come, please, please!”

A fire was building up low in Spock’s frame, and there was a tightness between his legs he’d never before experienced but instinctively knew what it meant, what was about to happen. He whimpered, drawing back out of Jim, only for his partner to push him back in with his legs.

“No, stay, I wanna... wanna come with you inside...”

Spock cried out, the heat in his belly nearly unbearable.

“J-Jim, if... if I do not... if you achieve orgasm while I am still inside, I, I do not think I will be able to-!”

Jim leaned up, kissing him again.

“S’okay, sweetheart, you... you can let go, it’s okay. Don’t... don’t hold back, not with me.”

Spock was... he wanted to... and Jim was smiling so invitingly... he was almost-!

Spock awoke to find himself rubbing up against a pillow. His penis was harder than he could ever remember it being, and he was still balancing on the edge of climax.

He bit his lip, shifting carefully as not to set himself off. He was aroused to the point that it was nearly painful, and the urge to take himself in hand was... quite overwhelming.

The issue, however, was that... well.

It was that, in thirty years of life, he had never actually masturbated before.

Spock knew that there was nothing inherently wrong about pleasuring oneself occasionally- his mother had been quite clear about that in the seemingly endless lecture she’d given him about sex- but it was... he had never seen a logical reason to do so. Sexual arousal could easily be willed away through meditation, and, well, he had never found himself in a similar situation with another person. Thus, his only experiences with orgasm were in the context of... nocturnal emissions, which he only knew because he’d woken up at the tail end of one, since Vulcans did not ejaculate outside of penetrative sex or through extensive stimulation of the prostate.

His length twitched against the pillow, and Spock shivered, tightening his legs around it. He wanted... he needed to...

“S’okay, sweetheart, you... you can let go, it’s okay.”

And oh, how Spock wanted to hear those words from the real Jim.

He bit his lip, then took a breath.

Just this once.

If it was just this once, then...

He swallowed, then reached into his pants and gripped himself around the base. This simple act had an immediate effect, making him thrust up into his hand. It felt as though an electric current was running through him, getting even stronger as he began to stroke himself. After a moment, he realized that the moans he heard were coming from him, and he quickly moved the pillow in front of his mouth to muffle the sounds.

Spock couldn’t help but wonder if... if Jim would moan the way he did in Spock’s dream. If he would say that he loved him, smile and tell him not to hold back, if he would let Spock reach climax inside-!

His thumb brushed the underside of his lower ridge, and Spock was done for; the rush of endorphins exploded low in his frame and overwhelmed his entire being, making him shake and scream into the pillow as he rocked against his hand.

It lasted for what seemed to be an eternity, and yet still Spock felt as though it ended far too soon. He was... he could not fathom how he’d managed to go so long without that... that amazing sensation, this warm afterglow...

He was rather glad that Vulcans did not ejaculate outside of copulation, as he was not sure he had the energy to clean up any fluids. He did not even have the energy to tuck himself back into his pants, instead curling up with the pillow and drifting back into sleep without another thought.

 


 

2260.66

Jim awoke, as he had many times in the past year or so, to a cold, sticky mess in his boxer shorts. He cursed under his breath, glad that his quarters had been converted for a family and Alice now had her own room.

Jim sighed, grimacing through discomfort as he made his way over to the bathroom. He knew Spock was usually up by now, and he really, really hoped he wasn’t in the bathroom, because Jim desperately needed a shower.

“Spock?” He asked, knocking on the door. “Spock, you in there?”

No response. Jim frowned, pressing his ear against the door.

Silence.

“Huh. Must have gotten an earlier start than usual,” Jim murmured as he walked into the bathroom, turning on the lights and stripping out of his shirt and soiled underwear. He tossed the shirt into the hamper, then quickly rinsed the boxers off in the sink before tossing them in as well.

He couldn’t hear anything on the other side of the door to Spock’s quarters.

“Must have gotten a really early start,” Jim commented before getting into the shower.

It was kind of weird, though. He’d had that particular dream a million times before, but it was different this time.

Mainly, in that Dream Spock had never needed assurance about coming inside him before. Or been embarrassed about making noise, although that was pretty damn cute. Plus, he'd never said a bunch of stuff in Vulcan- probably because Jim didn't speak much Vulcan, now that Spock and Nyota had taken over Alice learning the language.

He’d never said that he loved Jim before, either. Or any of that other mushy stuff, although apparently Jim was more into it than he thought he’d be, cause it did things for him.

Weird. Maybe his subconscious just needed a little more variety.

Well, whatever. It was just a stupid, inappropriate wet dream about his first officer. Whom he was madly in love with.

Admittedly, it was nice to hear Dream Spock say it, since the chances of Real Spock ever saying it were about as likely as Scotty saying a negative thing about the Enterprise, or Bones revealing just where the hell he kept his secret bourbon stash.

But still. Nice.

So nice, in fact, that he almost didn’t notice that Spock was five minutes late to Alpha shift.

He definitely noticed how Spock blushed and stumbled over an explanation when Nyota asked him about it, though.

Weird. Maybe it was some left over effect from his pon farr.

 


 

2260.92

Jim was honestly starting to get what Bones had against the transporter. Sure, it was a wondrous, extremely convenient piece of technology that had enabled Starfleet to save billions on landing gear for starships, plus, y’know, no having to find a place to park it on some planet or the other, but it did have its downsides.

Like that time he’d been split into good and evil halves.

Or the time he, Nyota, Scotty, and Bones all got switched with their mirror universe counterparts and Jim’s had scared the hell out of his daughter, whom he was very glad did not exist in the mirror universe if he was understanding the role of Vulcans there correctly.

And now, this. Here he was, standing in front of the transporter after yet another accident, wondering how Scotty might take it if they never used the damn thing ever again.

Because this time? This time, they’d ended up with two Spocks.

Now, Jim was humble enough to admit that, yes, he’d had this dream before. However, that dream had been pretty disturbing, since it involved his Spock and the mirror universe Spock who may or may not have been a Vulcan host to a goatee creature, cause that thing did not look real.

This was nothing like that dream.

On his left stood what appeared to be his first officer in his normal state. Pointed ears, greenish complexion, adorably dorky bowl cut, upturned eyebrows, the works. However, upon closer inspection, there was a key difference- his eyes. Instead of being their usual chocolate color, they were darker, almost black like most of the full Vulcans he’d met, and there wasn’t any emotion in them, which, contrary to popular belief, was not the case with Spock normally.

On his right stood... well, a Human. His hair was the same color as regular Spock’s, but it was wavy, bordering on curly, and a little longer. He wasn’t quite as pale as Spock, and his complexion, like most Humans, was pink, although that might have been because he was blushing for some reason. His ears were round, although they did stick out a little, and his eyebrows followed the shape of his eyes instead of being upturned. On first glance, he looked nothing like Spock, but upon closer inspection, there was one key similarity- his eyes. Spock’s chocolate brown eyes, glittering with emotion.

That emotion, by the way, was most definitely flustered. Quite frankly, Human Spock looked like the personification of the word “gosh.”

He also looked like he was about to panic, which wasn’t a look he thought he’d ever see on his XO outside of like, impending war with the Klingons. Or Romulans. Or both, in some kind of weird “enemies of the Federation” all-star team-up.

“Okay,” Jim finally started. “Okay. So. You guys know who you are, right?”

“I am Commander S’Chn T’Gai Spock, first officer and chief science officer of the USS Enterprise,” Vulcan Spock answered smoothly.

“I, uh. I’m C... Commander Suh... Sochi... oh, wow, that really is hard to pronounce for Humans. Um. I’m, well, I’m also Commander Spock. Somehow.” Human Spock looked over at his Vulcan counterpart, quirking an eyebrow. “Fascinating.”

Okay. So the fascinating thing came from the Human half. That was unexpected.

“Alright. And who am I?”

“You are Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise,” Vulcan Spock replied. “You are in command of this vessel during this five year mission.”

“You’re Jim,” Human Spock answered, smiling just a little. “You’re... you’re my friend.”

Jim couldn’t help but grin at Human Spock, then turned to Vulcan Spock with a frown and a raised eyebrow.

“Am I not your friend?”

“Friendship is an illogical concept. You are my commanding officer, and I respect you and your abilities.”

“D... Do I sound like that all the time?” Human Spock asked, looking a little nervous.

“No,” Jim assured him at the same time that Scotty said “yeah, pretty much.”

“Oh, um... s-sorry...” Human Spock mumbled, looking down at his feet.

Jim turned, giving Scotty a look.

“What?”

“Maybe don’t make the poor guy feel bad right now? He was just split in half!”

“My Human counterpart does not need to be coddled, Captain. As we are both Spock, we are both thirty years of age, and should be treated as such.”

“It’s not coddling, Spock, it’s-!”

“Jim, it’s... it’s fine, um. I’m fine.” Human Spock smiled weakly. “H-He’s right, I... I don’t need to be babied. Besides, there’s really no arguing with him when he gets like this.”

“I am being logical. There is no point in arguing with me, as I am in the right.”

Human Spock looked away, muttering something under his breath.

“Would you care to repeat that?”

Human Spock flinched.

“N-No...”

Well. Looks like Spock’s intimidating nature was all Vulcan. Human Spock didn’t seem to have the courage to argue with himself.

Jim sighed, looking at Scotty again.

“Alright, do you have the formula you used to put me back together when I got split?”

“Well, yes, sir, but uh, the console’s fried at the moment.”

Jim bit back a groan.

“Okay, well, when will it be fixed?”

“Well, that depends.”

“On what?”

Scotty held up one of the scorched key components of the console’s mainframe.

“On how close the nearest starbase is so I can pick up a new one of these.”

Jim blinked, then groaned out loud.

 


 

Bones sighed as he walked out of the exam room, going to his desk and digging in a drawer.

“How’s it going?” Jim asked, getting out of his chair.

“Well, M’Benga’s still examining the hobgoblin’s goblin half, but if he’s getting results like I’m getting with the non-goblin, then he’s gonna find a perfectly healthy thirty-year-old male Vulcan, although I have a suspicion about one thing. His blood is a match for our Spock’s DNA, but he’s one-hundred percent Human. Even has his heart in his chest instead of his side. Course, I doubt M’Benga’s dealing with a patient who won’t sit still.”

Jim blinked.

“Spock? Fidgeting? I can’t imagine that.”

“Oh, it’s nothing big. Just... he keeps tapping his fingers against the exam table and bouncing his leg. Don’t think he even knows he’s doing it. Ah, there it is.”

Bones pulled out a chart and started walking back toward the exam room.

“Alright, Mr. Spock, now this is the last test I’m gonna perform.”

“Does it involve more needles? Because if so, no thanks.”

Bones actually laughed at that- at something Spock had said!

Captain’s log, supplemental- my chief medical officer just laughed at something my first officer said, with no sarcasm involved whatsoever. This may be a sign of the end of the universe.

“No, it’s just an eyesight test,” Bones explained as he closed the door.

A few seconds later, it opened again, revealing a much less amused Bones.

“He wants you in here, kid.”

Jim blinked.

“Me? Why?”

“Because I don’t trust him not to stick a needle in my eye!” He heard Spock call.

Jim blinked, then snickered as he walked into the exam room.

“Yeah, good call.”

“Don’t encourage him!” Bones chided as he set up what turned out to be one of those charts at the eye doctor’s office.

“Why do you have a LogMAR chart?” Spock asked.

Right, Jim totally knew that was what it was called.

“Just following a hunch.” Bones pointed to the top row. “Now, read off the letters here, wouldja?”

“D S R K N.”

“Right. Next row.”

“C K Z O H.”

“And the next one.”

“O... N... uh... R... K... D?”

Jim frowned, looking back at Spock. He’d started squinting a little, his lips pressed in a line.

“Right. Next row?”

“... um... K... S... V... P... C.”

Jim glanced at the chart. The row Spock had just read off was “K Z V D C.”

“Next.”

“I... V? Then, er, Z, T, S, Q.”

It was actually “V S H Z O.”

“Next line.”

“H... maybe R?” Spock had started fidgeting, looking super uncomfortable. “I... I can’t tell, I’m sorry.”

“Welp, looks like I was right. Congrats, non-goblin, turns out that you’re nearsighted.”

Spock blinked, then tilted his head slightly.

“N... Non-goblin? I don’t... oh!” Spock’s face lit up, and Jim’s heart skipped a beat. “Oh, I get it, because you call me hobgoblin, but I’m a Human now, so... wait, what would that make my counterpart? Is he just a goblin? I don’t think he’d... um.”

Spock wilted suddenly, and it was almost unsettling how a thirty-year-old, six-foot-two man could look so small.

“S-Sorry, I’m... I’m rambling. Sorry.”

Jim looked over at Bones, who just shrugged.

“The psych scan results haven’t come back yet, I don’t know what to tell you.”

Spock mumbled something that sounded like “I’m not crazy, jerkbutt.”

Jim bit back a snort, then smiled at Spock.

“It’s fine, Spock... geez, it’s gonna get kinda confusing calling both you and the other one Spock, though.”

Spock hesitated, then swallowed.

“Um, well... if, if it makes things easier, you... you could call me Grayson.”

Jim blinked.

“Grayson?”

Spock blushed.

“W-Well, just, um... when I was trying to pass for Human in 1930, that was the name I used... right?”

Jim blinked again, then smiled.

“Oh, yeah, I... honestly, I kinda forgot about that. Well, if that’s what you wanna do, then I don’t see any reason not to.”

Spock- Grayson looked back up at him, smiling gently. Jim smiled back.

Then someone cleared their throat, and Jim turned to find the Vulcan Spock- well, just Spock, he guessed.

“Oh, hey, Spock. So it turns out that you’re nearsighted.”

“Interesting.” Spock did not look very interested. Instead, he was looking at his Human self, an odd look in his eyes. He heard Grayson whimper, and when he looked back at him he’d wilted into himself again.

“Well, Grayson, til we can get you back together, you’re gonna have to wear these,” Bones told him as he handed him a pair of round glasses.

“Huh? Why?”

“Well, because otherwise you’re liable to walk right into a wall, and I don’t wanna perform any kinda outpatient surgery on you in case it does something to you when you’re back to normal.”

Grayson pursed his lips, then put on the glasses, blinking as his eyes adjusted.

Jim’s own eyes widened as he started to blush.

“Uh... how do I look?”

Goddamn adorable, that was how he looked. Jim wasn’t sure if he wanted to smooch his forehead and wrap him up in a fluffy blanket, or drag him into a closet and suck his cock til he screamed.

Of course, he couldn’t say that. Partially because Bones would probably hypo him half to death in response, and partially because poor Grayson might very well blush so hard he melted.

And also because Grayson was still Spock, and Spock didn’t feel that way about him.

Instead, Jim cleared his throat and smiled warmly at him.

“You look great, Grayson. Bet you’ll catch the eye of all the cute boys.”

Grayson turned bright red, stuttering and fidgeting nervously.

So much for not making the poor guy melt.

“Captain.”

“Hm? Yeah, what’s up, Sp-!” Jim blinked as he turned around, realizing just how close his first officer was standing behind him. “Uh, hi? Personal space is a thing, Spock.”

“Captain, I believe that it would be pertinent to decide how our duties will be shared between Grayson and myself until we are able to be reunited,” Spock replied after taking a step back.

“Oh, yeah. Uh, well, I guess since we only need one first officer on the bridge at a time... hm. How about you take today’s Alpha shift while Grayson goes to the science lab, then switch off until things are back to normal?”

“That will be satisfactory, sir.”

“Y-Yeah, that sounds great!” Grayson was grinning again, his leg bouncing a little. “I’m right in the middle of this fascinating analysis on the orchid-like plants Sulu brought back from Xerneon V, it turns out that when watered, they absorb only the hydrogen elements and hold the oxygen in pods. I haven’t figured out what those are for yet, but I think it might a way to attract... pollinators...”

Grayson suddenly blushed again  hunching over and looking at his feet.

“Um, I, uh... s-sorry, I’m rambling again...”

Jim quirked an eyebrow.

“Dude, it’s fine. Actually, I kind of like seeing you all enthusiastic like this.” Jim smiled. “It’s a refreshing change from the norm, y’know?”

Grayson was blushing again, but he smiled after a moment. Then he blushed even more, his eyes going wide.

“Uh!”

Jim blinked, then turned around again, starting when he saw how close Spock was to him yet again.

“Okay, seriously, Spock, personal space.”

Spock had a hard look in eyes as he stepped back, saying nothing. Jim rolled his eyes as he walked out of the exam room, Bones following him. He heard Grayson hiss something along the lines of “what is wrong with you,” although he couldn’t hear Spock’s probably all-too-logical response.

Man. Human Spock might be all kinds of adorable, but Vulcan Spock was just... confusing.

“Hi, Daddy!” Alice greeted as Jim exited the bay, flanked by the two Spocks. “Hi, Mr. Spock! Hi, person I don’t...”

She blinked, then tilted her head and squinted.

“Wait, are... are you Mr. Spock too, Mr. Human?”

Grayson still looked nervous, but clearly couldn’t help but smile at her.

“Well, uh... yeah. Yeah, I am.”

“Huh. Are you from a parallel universe? I don’t think the other Mr. Spock is.”

Grayson chuckled, shaking his head.

“No, I’m not, Alice. I’m the Spock from this universe, and, uh,” Grayson cleared his throat, gesturing at his counterpart, “Well, so is he.”

Alice stared at them owlishly.

“I don’t get it.”

“I am Spock, and so is he,” Spock explained evenly. “However, I am fully Vulcan, and he is fully Human. Due to a transporter incident, the regular, half-Human half-Vulcan Spock was split into us, his two halves.”

“Oh.” Alice grinned. “Neat! Nice to meet you, Mr. Vulcan and Mr. Human!”

“Uh, Alice, that’s not actually-!” Grayson started.

“Alice, it’s time to get back to class,” Lt. Farrows called.

“Okay! Bye, Daddy and Mr. Vulcan and Mr. Human!”

Alice ran off, leaving Jim and Grayson chuckling. Grayson’s eyes were shining with affection, and even Spock looked vaguely fond.

At least they had that much in common- they both cared about Alice.

Hopefully that would keep them from killing each other.

 


 

2260.94

As it turned out, unless they wanted to burn out a massive amount of power, the nearest base where they could find the replacement part Scotty needed was about a week and a half away at warp three.

Which meant that for the next week, there were two Spocks.

Neither of whom, Jim discovered, were as productive as the regular Spock. Vulcan Spock was a fine officer, but as it turned out, Spock’s tendency to debate Jim came from that side. If he so much as asked Yeoman Rand to bring him another cup of coffee, Spock would be on him with a “Captain, you have already consumed approximately two point six five cups of coffee in the past three point two hours. If you do not wait a period of time before consuming more caffeine, you may impair your ability to sit still for the rest of Alpha shift.”

And that was just coffee, which was nothing compared to the row they’d had over Jim’s decision not to push the warp core any harder to get to the base faster. Spock had insisted that the logical decision was to go at warp seven, which would get them there in two days instead of a week and a half. Jim had pointed out that they’d already blown out the transporter and it was dangerous to risk the engines, but Spock in turn argued that the loss of the transporter was even more reason to get there faster.

It was only the fourth time Jim had ever had to completely seriously pull rank on Spock, but it did shut him up.

Grayson, on the other hand, didn’t question his orders. However, he had issues of his own as an XO- mainly, that he was super high-strung. Unlike both Vulcan and regular Spock, Grayson seemed to hate arguing, even in a joking manner, and never dared to speak up against Jim, even when he could tell the guy didn’t agree with him. He’d managed to coax Grayson into telling him his ideas a few times, and he’d been right on most of them, but since the poor guy looked like he might vomit every time he did, he didn’t push the matter too often.

That wasn’t the only difference between the two, of course. Spock was always still and poised when he was at his station, whereas Grayson tended to hunch over a bit in his seat, bouncing his leg or tapping his fingers on the desk. Spock also seemed more at home on the bridge, while Grayson was much happier in the science labs.  

There was also one other, somewhat surprising thing- metaphorical language. Jim had always assumed that Spock’s thing about metaphors was a Vulcan thing, but to his surprise, that wasn’t the case.

“Captain, shall I contact the lab to inquire into the matter of the spore network?”

“Sure, Spock, knock yourself out.”

“Aye, sir.”

Jim blinked, quirking an eyebrow as he turned to Spock.

“What, that’s it? No questioning the logic of rendering yourself unconscious?”

“I am aware that the phrase ‘knock yourself out’ does not literally mean to render yourself unconscious, Captain. It is a Human colloquialism used to mean ‘go ahead.’”

Jim blinked again, frowning.

“Well, alright, but usually you would...” Jim trailed off, something occurring to him.

“Captain?”

“Uh, nevermind.”

Odd. If it wasn’t Spock’s Vulcan half that was weird about figurative language, then...

Jim got out of his chair.

“Y’know what, Spock, belay that order. I think I’ll go check on it myself.”

“Sir, why-?”

“You have the conn, Mr. Spock,” Jim said as he stepped into the lift before he could stop him.

Grayson was in the science lab, as Jim had expected.

What he didn’t expect was that he’d be off in his own little world as he played around with the spores, a pair of vintage, bulky headphones on his ears. He was drumming his fingers against the desk to a beat that Jim didn’t quite recognize.

And he was smiling.

The sight may have very well killed a lesser man with how goddamn cute it was. It was coming pretty close to offing Jim, since it came on the heels of seeing both Spock and Grayson interacting with Alice at breakfast this morning. They interacted differently with her, both in comparison to each other and to the regular Spock, but it was clear that they both loved her just as much as the regular Spock did, whether it was Spock’s gentle correction of her Vulcan grammar or Grayson listening to her talk about whatever she’d just learned in school with an encouraging grin.

He had been so stupid to think he couldn’t love Spock anymore than he already did. God, he had it bad for him. And now that there were two Spocks, well...

Bones had told him it was impossible to die from being so damn full of affection, but he was starting to doubt that.

“Hey, Grayson,” Jim greeted.

Grayson didn’t respond, still absorbed with his spores. Jim cleared his throat, taking a step toward the other man.

“Grayson,” he tried again.

Still no response. Another step closer, and now he was within arm’s reach of him.

“Mr. Grayson.”

Still off in his own little world. It seemed that Jim was going to have to take more drastic measures.

So he reached out and poked his shoulder.

“Commander Gray-!”

Grayson yelped as he jumped about half a foot in the air, accidentally unplugging his headphones and nearly knocking over the container with the spores in it, although he managed to catch and stabilize it before anything spilled out.

“Geez, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you, Grayson.”

Grayson’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed thickly, a flush spreading over his cheeks and ears.

“I, um, uh, I... s-sorry, were you trying to get my attention?”

“Well, yeah, but I didn’t mean to scare you like that. Was your music that loud?”

Grayson flushed even more, fiddling with his glasses a bit.

“Um, well, n-no, I just... I was preoccupied. Sorry...”

“Hey, no, it’s not a big deal, don’t...” Jim paused, then smiled a little. “Don’t beat yourself up about it.”

Grayson blinked.

“Why would I try to hurt myself over this? I mean, I’m not even sure how I’d go about doing that, since my brain would instinctively try to keep me from, from punching myself in the face or something.”

Jim blinked.

“Huh. So it is from your Human side.”

Grayson blinked, then quirked an eyebrow.

“Jim?”

“Oh, uh, it’s, it’s nothing, Grayson, just... well, I noticed something. When you’re, y’know, your normal self, you tend to question the logistics of metaphorical and figurative language. Now, I’d always thought it was a Vulcan thing, but when I told your Vulcan counterpart to ‘knock himself out’ earlier, he just went about his business without asking.”

Grayson blinked once more, then blushed, looking away as he started drumming his fingers against the table.

“I, um, uh...” He looked terribly nervous, and Jim realized that he might be giving him the wrong idea.

“Oh, no, it’s not... it’s not a bad thing, Grayson, I just.. It’s interesting, that’s all.” Jim smiled. “Y’know, this whole thing has been pretty weird, but I’m learning a lot of new stuff about you because of it, so... I think it’s kinda worth it. Don’t you?”

Grayson blushed again, but gave him a teeny-tiny smile.

Jim’s stomach did somersaults.

Really, a thirty-year-old man shouldn’t be allowed to be so goddamn cute. It was bad for Jim’s heart.

“What?” Grayson asked as he plugged his headphones back in.

“Huh?”

“You’re staring at me. Do... do I have something on my face?”

Jim blinked, then blushed a little, clearing his throat.

“Uh, um, no, I just... uh... what are you listening to?”

Grayson blinked, stopping before he could put on his headphones again, although Jim could hear music coming out of them.

He was also blushing again. Jim was a little worried about his blood pressure.

“Uh, I... it’s, it’s, I mean... I-I don’t think you’d really like it-!”

“Hey, I’ll be the judge of that.” He held out his hand. “Let me take a listen?”

Grayson swallowed hard, then silently took a step toward him, slowly putting the headphones on Jim’s head. Immediately, electronic sounds filled his ears, buzzy beats and synthesized melodies bouncing around in his head.

Jim blinked, quirking an eyebrow as he looked at Grayson, who blushed in response before pausing the music.

“Told you,” he muttered.

“Hey, no, no!” Jim protested as he took the headphones off. “It’s not... I just never expected you to be into house music, that’s all!”

That seemed to just make Grayson blush even more.

“I... I know it’s weird, I just... I find it calming, that’s all.”

“It’s not weird, Grayson, it’s just not what I was expecting. I didn’t think you’d like such, uh... peppy stuff.”

Grayson was still blushing, but he finally looked at Jim again, arching an eyebrow.

“What were you expecting?”

Jim shrugged.

“Beethoven, I guess?”

Grayson snorted, then covered his mouth, his shoulders shaking as he tried to hold back laughter.

“What? What’s so funny?”

Grayson shook his head, clearly still trying to collect himself and succeeding after a moment.

“S-Sorry, I just... I, um, well. I’m not used to... to being emotional like this.”

Jim blinked, then smiled.

“Well, I guess it would be a little overwhelming to have more emotions than usual, right?”

Grayson shook his head again.

“That’s, that’s not exactly it... I wouldn’t say my emotions are stronger than usual, just that, that I’m not used to being unable to... to control them. Normally, I can stop myself from laughing like that, but now...”

Jim frowned.

“Is that such a bad thing? I mean, right now, you’re only Human, and Humans need to express their emotions in order to be healthy.”

To his surprise, Grayson smiled ruefully, shaking his head.

“I don’t think he sees it that way.”

Before Jim could ask him what he meant, Jim’s comm went off- Nyota was all but begging him to come back to the bridge before Spock and Sulu started brawling, which would mean that Chekov would probably cry, and then Rand would yell at everyone, including Jim, who very much did not want to be yelled at by Rand again, because she was mean.

“Seems like your other half’s not much of a people person, is he?”

Grayson blinked.

“Jim, if I had a boyfriend, I would have told you by now.”

“Huh? What are you-?” Jim paused, then snorted. “No, Grayson, I mean your literal other half. The Vulcan?”

Grayson blinked again, then blushed and looked at his feet.

“O-Oh, well... um. Sorry.”

“It’s fine, dude, don’t worry about it.” He smiled as he started walking toward the door. “I’ll let you get back to playing with your spores. Have fun!”

“Ah, um, Jim?”

Jim paused, turning back to Grayson, who was looking at his feet.

“Yeah?”

“I, um, I just...” Grayson looked up and gave him a tiny smile. “I’m... I’m glad we’re friends. I just wanted to tell you that.”

Jim blinked, then smiled, trying not to feel a little disappointed at the use of the word friend.

Because that was what they were. And friendship was great. He liked having friends, and he liked being friends with Spock.

Even if he might have liked to be something else.

But being friends was great. He would be happy being just friends with Spock.

“Yeah, I’m glad we’re friends too.”

And if he kept telling himself that, he’d eventually believe it.

He hoped.

 


 

2260.101

It was agonizing being on the bridge. It was too bright, there were so many people moving and talking and it was just. Too. Loud.

Grayson grimaced as he hunched over in his chair, glancing up at the chronometer.

1037 hours. Just under an hour and a half until Alpha shift ended. The other Spock had Beta shift duty today, so he’d have their quarters to himself.

He’d have some quiet. Just... quiet.

Then an alarm went off.

“Mr. Grayson, status report!”

“I, uh, um.” Grayson’s tongue felt too big for his mouth, his heart beating erratically as he looked at the alert. “It... it appears that the, um, the warp core is experiencing some overheating issues, s-sir.”

Jim cursed under his breath.

“Okay, well, Mr. Sulu, take us out of warp before the damn thing explodes on us. And Mr. Grayson, please turn off that alarm.”

Grayson sighed, reaching to turn off the alarm.

Which didn’t work. The shrill sound continued, ringing in his ears as he fiddled with the controls.

“Mr. Grayson, the alarm.”

“I-I know, Captain, it’s... I’m trying to...” Grayson bit his lip, pulling up the coding for the alarm system to try and turn it off that way. His head was getting fuzzy, and even the sound of his own fingers on the keyboard was beginning to irritate him.

People were whispering, the timbre of their voices buzzing in his ears. He grit his teeth, hunching in on himself even more.

“Grayson-!”

“I am working on it, Jim!”

“Excuse me?”

Shit. That had been too sharp, hadn’t it? He hadn’t meant for it to be, he was just so tired and there was so much sound, and...

Grayson cleared his throat, trying to ignore how his ears were burning.

“I-I apologize, sir, I’m... I’m working on it, please be patient.”

After a moment, Grayson did manage to get the damn thing turned off, but he’d ended up burning through a good chunk of energy and even more on edge than he’d been beforehand.

1053 hours. Dammit. Maybe he could sneak off to the bathroom soon so he could take a breath and make it through Alpha shift without crying-!

“Grayson?”

Jim was standing behind him. Shit.

Maybe he was just mad about the insubordination and wouldn’t mention how out of character it was for him. Maybe he hadn’t even noticed.

“I... I apologize for my insubordination, sir, it, it won’t happen again.”

“Insubordin- I’m not mad, Grayson, I’m worried about you. You don’t usually snap like that, are you feeling okay?”

Oh, god, he’d noticed.

“I-I am fine, Captain, just... it’s nothing.”

“Doesn’t seem fine. You seem tense.”

Grayson knew, logically, that Jim was just trying to help, because that was the kind of person Jim was.

But he also really did not have the energy for conversation right now, and he knew that Jim was drawing attention to it, which was the last thing Grayson wanted.

“I’m- I’m fine, really. You, you don’t have to worry about me.”

“Grayson, come on, it’s clear that something’s up with you.”

Yes and it’s that you won’t leave me alone!

That was what Grayson wanted to say. But he couldn’t, because Jim was his superior officer and his good friend, and, of course, secretly his fucking soulmate.

“No, I’m fine. Really, I am.”

“Grayson... look, just let me help you-!”

Jim put a hand on his shoulder, and Grayson just couldn’t take it anymore.

“Don’t touch me,” he snarled, all but slapping Jim’s hand away. “Just leave me the fuck alone for five minutes!”

“Wh- Mr. Grayson, I hate to pull rank, but I am your superior officer-!”

“Then act like my superior officer instead of my friend and don’t fucking touch me!” Grayson shouted, turning in his chair to glare at Jim. “You are not helping, okay?! I don’t need you to baby me, I need some fucking peace and quiet so I can... so I can...”

Jim was staring at him. So was Uhura, and Chekov, and Sulu, and everyone else on the bridge.

Grayson’s heart was pounding in his head, his face hot and his throat tight.

He... he’d just yelled at his superior officer. In the middle of Alpha shift. On the bridge. In front of everyone.

Oh god. What had he done?

What had he done?

It was ruined. Jim... Jim was staring at him with those beautiful blue eyes, and he didn’t understand why Grayson had snapped at him like that, and he must hate him now, and everyone else would hate him too, and, and...

And he’d ruined everything. Again.

“G... Grayson?” Jim started after a moment, his voice so soft and gentle, as if Grayson deserved that much. “Grayson, are you okay?”

“I...” His eyes were burning. There was no way he was going to stop himself from bursting into tears now, he needed to get out of here before he started crying like a big baby.

So that’s what he did. He heard his chair topple over and clatter to the floor as he ran out of the bridge, keeping his eyes down and somehow managing to get into the turbolift all alone.

He was pretty sure Jim and Uhura had both been calling after him, but he couldn’t... he couldn’t face them. Not right now.

His Vulcan counterpart was in their quarters when he got there, doing some paperwork.

“Oh, come on, don’t you do anything but work?!” He snapped, glaring at him.

The better him. The perfect Vulcan, the one that everyone wanted, the one he should have been.

The one who didn't understand why they couldn't tell Jim how they felt about him.

“What are you doing here? Alpha shift has not-!”

Grayson groaned- the last thing he wanted was to get into another argument with his counterpart, since it always ended up being about how they couldn't confess to Jim, because then Jim would know and he would hate them (“he would not hate us, Jim clearly cares for us, and it is logical to inform him that he is our t’hy’la”).

“Take over my shift if it bugs you so much, just-!” He grit his teeth, racing over to the bathroom. “Just leave me alone!”

Grayson let the door slam, ordering the computer to initiate lockdown before stepping into the shower fully clothed. He didn’t turn it on- just leaned against the wall, slowly letting himself slide down until he was sitting.

Quiet. It was finally quiet.

In. Out.

In. Out.

The fuzziness in his head slowly abated, and he sighed, letting the back of his head hit the tile.

He wasn’t entirely sure when he’d started crying, but at least it had been silent this time. Not like the last time this had happened- god, was that really twenty-four years ago now? He’d been six, so it must have been.

Twenty-four years, and the thing that pushed him over the edge was a flaw in an alarm’s programming and a touch from a caring friend.

Not just a caring friend, his soulmate.

More tears burned in his eyes.

He was such an idiot. How could Jim ever want him now that he knew what a mess he was? He was thirty fucking years old, and he’d just thrown a bigger tantrum than his captain’s six year old daughter ever had in the two years he’d known the two of them.

Useless. Worthless. Stupid, stupid, stupid. It would be better if I didn’t exist. Everyone would like Spock more if he were just a Vulcan, instead of having to put up with pitiful, disgusting me-!

“Grayson?”

Grayson startled, knocking his head against the tile. He couldn’t help but groan and wince at the pain, touching the back of his head gingerly.

“Grayson, it’s Jim. Could you please unlock the bathroom for me?”

Grayson swallowed hard, staggering to his feet.

“I’m, I’m sorry, I’ll... I’ll leave, I just... I didn’t want to talk to my other half, b-but if you need to use the, um, the bathroom-!”

“Wh- no, that’s not- I don’t need to use the bathroom, I just want to talk to you. You don’t need to leave the bathroom if you don’t want to.”

He swallowed again, sitting back down on the shower floor.

“If... if it’s all the same, sir, y-you can reprimand me in my quarters in, in just a minute, I... I just need to collect myself and-!”

“Grayson. I’m not talking to you as your captain, I’m talking to you as your friend who’s worried about you. Please, just let me in.” He heard Jim swallow. “Let... let me help, okay?”

Grayson bit his lip, his heart stuttering in his chest.

Then he sighed.

“Computer, disable lockdown.”

“Lockdown disabled.”

The door to Jim’s quarters opened a minute later. Grayson couldn’t force himself to look at him, instead curling in on himself and burying his face in his knees. He heard Jim’s footsteps get closer, then stop a few feet away from him prior to a soft thud- Jim sitting down outside the shower.

“... Whatcha doin’ in there?” He asked after a moment, his voice still gentle.

“... Needed to be away from people, and the other me was in our quarters, so I... I just hid in the bathroom.”

“Okay, but why the shower?”

“I’unno.” Grayson swallowed the lump in his throat. “... sorry I yelled at you. Wasn’t your fault.”

He heard Jim sigh.

“Grayson... look, do you... do you think you can tell me what’s wrong? Why did you get so upset on the bridge?”

“... I don’t like being on the bridge.”

“... You’re my first officer.”

“I know, but... when, when I’m whole, I’m better at... it’s okay, because I’m better at tuning everything out.” Grayson shifted slightly, tangling his hands in his hair. “When... when I’m like this, I can’t tune it out, I can’t handle it, it hurts and I get so tired and... and you saw what happens...”

“I... Grayson, just what is it that you have to tune out?”

“Everything,” he murmured. “Everything, I... it’s light, and sound, and voices, and... when I’m on the bridge, there’s just too much and I can’t... I can’t think. All of it just fills up my head and there’s no room for anything else. When I’m normal, I can handle it, because... because that’s what Vulcans do, we handle our emotions and we learn to cope with everything being too much, but I... I can’t handle it. Not by myself, I... I need the other me, or else I’m just...”

“You’re just...?”

Grayson laughed humorlessly.

“A mess. Pitiful. Disgusting. Worthless. I’m the one who ruins everything, Jim, I’m the one who- who can’t control himself. You’ve seen the other me, he’s... he’s perfect. He’s in perfect control of himself, he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a fucking alarm, doesn’t- doesn’t yell at his captain when he’s just trying to help-!”

“Grayson, stop. Breathe, okay? You need to breathe.”

Jim was, unsurprisingly, right about that. Grayson took a few shaky breaths, swallowing hard and sniffling.

“S... Sorry...”

“Grayson, listen, you’re... you’re not pitiful, or disgusting, or worthless. And your other self is not perfect. Trust me, the guy debates me every chance he gets, over the most trivial crap too. Plus, he scares the shit out of Chekov.” Jim hesitated, and Grayson heard him scoot a little closer. “Honestly? I think he’d be lost without you. Sure, he’s got logic, and well, you’ve never had to develop coping mechanisms for... whatever this is because of him, but you’re the one that trusts my judgement, the one who’s fun to talk to and spend time with. And if you didn’t exist? Then neither would the Spock who’s my best friend.”

Grayson’s eyes were stinging again, and he finally turned his head to look at Jim through blurry eyes. Jim had been smiling, but the smile fell once he saw Grayson’s face, replaced by concern.

“H-Hey, why are you crying now? Did, did I say something wrong?”

Grayson couldn’t help but laugh as he sat up, shaking his head and pulling off his glasses to wipe at his eyes.

“N-No, you, you’re fine, that... that was really nice, I... I don’t know why I’m crying right now...”

Jim huffed out a little laugh.

“Yeah, that happens sometimes. You feeling any better?”

He sniffed, brushing his bangs out of his eyes before putting his glasses back on.

“I... I’m not sure. I don’t... I know you were trying to help, but I don’t feel any less awful about myself, even if I’m glad that you don’t think I’m awful.”

“Well, yeah, one conversation isn’t gonna undo... how long have you felt this way about yourself?”

Grayson flinched, swallowing hard and and turning to look at his knees again.

“I... do you remember the, um, the jingling things at the koonut kaliffee?”

“Yeah, you... well, uh, while you were going through pon farr, you kept flinching whenever you heard them.”

Grayson blushed a bit, trying hard not to think about the outcome of the ceremony, both in the sense of thinking he’d killed Jim and the... wrestling.

“When... when I was six, a cousin of my father’s went through the ceremony, and... normally, the ceremony is a bit larger, with members from both sides of the family in attendance, so we went, and... the jingling was so loud. It felt like it was rattling around in my head, and it hurt, it hurt so much, and I... well... I started crying.”

Even after twenty-four years, it was still one of the most humiliating events in his life. He’d interrupted the whole ceremony, and both Michael and his mother had been so worried, and his father had looked at him with such disdain...

“I... I couldn’t stop crying, and eventually my mother had to carry me out, and I... I didn’t know how to explain it, it just hurt and my head was fuzzy...” Grayson leaned forward so that his forehead was resting on his thighs. “And even if I’d been able to explain what was wrong, everyone... everyone else took it as proof of how inferior I was, because I couldn’t control myself, couldn’t control my emotions.”

“That’s... you were six, what were they expecting?”

“Most Vulcans begin training to control their emotions when they’re five, as I did. At that point, I’d already had a whole year of training, but I still... I still couldn’t...”

“Grayson...”

“I figured... I figured that it was probably because of my Human side- because of me. I... I didn’t want people to stare at me like that, whisper about me behind my back even more than they already did, so... so I threw myself into my Vulcanness. I suppressed every Human reaction, learned to tune everything out when it was too much, and always be still, silent, good. Everytime I failed, I... I hated being Human even more.” He swallowed. “Because if I’m Human, then I’m... I’m worthless. A burden that ruins everything.”

“Oh, Spock.”

Grayson blinked, turning to ask Jim why he’d called him by the other Spock’s name before realizing that Jim had pretty much scooted into the shower with him. Thus, the only thing that came out of his mouth was “um.”

“Spock, listen to me. You’re not a burden, alright? Especially not because of something that, and this is the important part here, you literally can’t help. You’re my friend, and you’re a good person, so... stop insulting my friend, okay?”

Grayson swallowed, his eyes misty again as he flushed.

“I... um. I don’t... I don’t think the shower is built to contain two grown men who are six feet or taller...”

“Eh? Oh!” Jim smiled sheepishly, scooting back out of the shower and standing up. He offered Grayson his hand, and it took him a minute to remember that he was not a Vulcan at the moment and therefore touching hands didn’t hold the same connotations for him.

An illicit thrill still ran through him when he took his hand, though.

“Um...” Grayson swallowed, gripping the crook of his right elbow with his left hand. “Are... are you going to tell Starfleet about... about what happened on the bridge?”

“No, I don’t think they really need to know about that, do they? I mean, I’m not gonna tell them about how your other half and Sulu nearly got in a damn fistfight, either. But, uh, Grayson?”

He didn’t comment on the fact that Jim was using the name “Grayson” again.

“Yeah?”

“I want you to spend the rest of the week in the science labs, okay?”

Grayson blinked, then frowned.

“Y... You don’t have to do that, it’s not that big of a-!”

“Grayson, you got so overstimulated that you flipped out on me. Besides, I think the other you likes being on the bridge more than being in the labs. Also, once you’re back together, I want you to talk to Bones about your, uh... self esteem issues.”

He blinked again.

“Why would I do that?”

“Because Bones is a trained psychologist.”

Grayson felt a draining sensation in his face.

“I-! I don’t need a-!”

“Grayson, I promise. Nothing you tell Bones will be reported to Starfleet, and you need to talk to someone. Someone who isn’t me, cause I’ve got my own issues and it would probably just end up with one or both of us getting drunk. Which, to be fair, is usually how time spent with Bones usually ends for me, but Bones isn’t my counselor.”

“I...” Grayson swallowed again, then nodded. “O... Okay. I’ll... I’ll give it a shot.”

JIm smiled at him, and Grayson’s heart skipped a beat.

“Now, let’s get out of this bathroom, okay? You were right, it really wasn’t made for two grown men six feet or taller in height.”

Grayson smiled and nodded, overwhelmingly glad that Jim still liked him even after he found out what a mess he really was.

Maybe his Vulcan counterpart had a point after all.

 


 

2260.106

Spock was sitting on his butt when he finally fused back together. His eyes were closed, and his brow was furrowed as if he were in pain.

“Spock?” Jim started, taking a careful step towards him. “Spock, are... are you okay?”

Spock grunted, then held up one hand and raised the other to his temple.

“Just... just a moment, sir, I... I believe my mind is attempting to reconcile the memories of my... my halves.”

Jim sighed in relief.

“Yeah, you’re fine. Good to have you back, Spock.”

After a moment, Spock looked up at him, his lips quirking in the way that Jim knew meant he was smiling mentally.

“It is good to be back, Jim.”

Jim’s heart did another somersault, and he cleared his throat, motioning for Spock to stand up.

“Well, uh, come on, then, Bones said he wanted to check you out once you were back together.”

“Ah, right...” Spock cleared his own throat as he stood, then winced.

“What? What’s wrong?”

“It... I seem to have a headache for some reason. Perhaps it is my memory...”

Jim pursed his lips, then turned and point at a sign with small print on the other side of the transporter room.

“Spock, can you read that sign over there for me?”

Spock blinked, then squinted again.

“I... I do not believe I can, no.”

“Yup. Thought so.” Jim took Grayson’s glasses out of his pocket and handed them to Spock. “Here, I think you might need these.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“Jim, while my human half may have required the use of glasses while personified, I have never required-!”

“He’s a part of you, Spock, and you need to remember that, alright? And right now, I want you to wear the glasses and avoid walking into walls.”

“The likelihood that I would walk into a wall due to myopia is-!”

“Spock, just put on the damn glasses.”

Spock’s eye twitched, but he sighed, taking the glasses from Jim and putting them on.

“Are you satisfied, Captain?”

It took a moment for Jim to comprehend the question. “Satisfied” wasn’t quite the right word for it. In fact, it wasn’t even close- Jim was barely containing the urge to drag Spock off to some supply closet somewhere and suck his cock til he screamed, which, now that he thought about it, was the same reaction he'd had to Grayson in those glasses.

Great. So it turned out he had a glasses kink now, wonderful.

“Captain?”

Jim blinked, then blushed and cleared his throat, trying to ignore the sneaking suspicion that Spock-with-glasses would be making an appearance in Jim’s dreams sooner or later.

“Y-Yeah, um, great. R-Report to the medbay, alright?”

Spock quirked an eyebrow, but thankfully didn’t argue with the order, instead bidding him farewell and leaving the transporter bay.

And leaving Jim to think of nuns. The oldest, meanest nuns ever.

Seriously, Spock made him feel like a teenager again in more ways than one.

 


 

For the second time in a week, a glasses-wearing Spock was in the bathroom when Jim opened the door.

Of course, this time it was an accident, rather than him trying to figure out what was going on with his friend, but still.

“Whoops, sorry, Spock. Didn’t know you were still in here.”

Spock didn’t respond right away, first turning off his toothbrush and spitting into the sink.

“It is of no consequence, Jim. If you need to use the restroom-!”

“No, uh, just need to brush my teeth. Do you mind?”

“I do not.”

Jim smiled, then swallowed, walking over to the sink and grabbing his own toothbrush. Spock had resumed brushing his own teeth, and it was... kinda funny to see him with a toothbrush in his mouth, honestly.

Though, if he was being completely honest, the sheer domesticity of the whole “sharing the sink while brushing your teeth” thing was... well, Jim was getting the warm and fuzzies, that was for sure.

“So, uh...” Jim started as he put toothpaste on the bristles. “Still wearing the glasses, huh?”

Spock turned, giving him a pointed look as he moved the brush to the other side of his mouth.

“Oh, uh, right, can’t talk with your mouth full. Sorry.”

Jim started brushing his own teeth after that, and they fell into a companionable silence that was only broken by the sound of two buzzing brushes. Spock finished brushing his teeth only a few seconds before Jim’s own brush turned off, and he motioned for him to stay and talk before rinsing his mouth out.

“So, the glasses?”

“Dr. McCoy believes that my eyesight functioning at a lower capacity than usual may be a side of effect of my halves being recombined. He would prefer not to perform corrective outpatient surgery just yet, as it may return to normal on its own.”

“Oh. Cool.”

“I suppose.”

Jim frowned, quirking an eyebrow.

“Everything else alright, Spock?”

“... my physical health is above average for both a Vulcan and a Human man my age.”

Jim’s frown deepened- that sounded like some old-fashioned Vulcan loophole usage.

“And, uh, how’s your non-physical health?”

Jim could’ve sworn that he saw Spock flinch. That must have been it.

“I... that is to say, it is...”

“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, y’know. But, well, you’ve put up with a lot of my... quirks, and I’m... we’re friends, so I’d be happy to listen.”

Spock hesitated, glancing at Jim out of the corner of his eye before sighing.

“I... I was given the results from the psychological scans Dr. McCoy performed on my personified halves when I went in for the examination.”

Jim blinked.

“Oh, uh... is... is it good news, or...?”

“The results of my Vulcan side’s scan showed the brain chemistry of a neurotypical Vulcan male.”

The results for the Vulcan. So the results for the Human...

“What about Grayson?”

Spock’s lips twitched upward.

“If you are referring to the personification of my Human half, then... the analysis of his brain chemistry showed that he most likely had an anxiety disorder, as well as depression.”

“Oh. Well, honestly, that’s not all that surprising, Spock. The guy looked like he was going to puke every time I coaxed him into telling me an idea he had that went against mine.” Jim paused. “You don’t feel like you’re gonna puke every time you disagree with me, do you?”

Another upward twitch.

“If I did, I would avoid disagreeing with you at all costs. However... the anxiety disorder and depression were not the only noteworthy results from the scan.”

“They weren’t?”

“No. According to Dr. McCoy, in addition to the anxiety disorder, the personification of my Human half was... he was most likely on the autism spectrum.”

Jim blinked again, raising his eyebrows.

“Wait, he... really?”

“Yes. Upon reviewing the... the incident on the bridge involving him becoming overstimulated, I have concluded that he was experiencing sensory overload. In addition, he would often fidget and stir in times of stress or high emotion, which I believe to have been instances of self-stimulation as a form of comforting himself.” Spock hesitated for a moment. “I... I remember doing similar things when I was a young child. It... it was looked down on by my peers and elders, including my father, which is why I no longer exhibit such behavior.”

Jim swallowed, turning to look at the mirror. Spock was expressionless, but he could see something swirling in his eyes- tension, regret, nerves.

Fear.

He swallowed again.

“So... do you think that, since he’s a part of you, that... that you’re autistic too?”

“Dr. McCoy performed another psychological scan, though the results will not be available for at least one point eight two days. However, I... I have reviewed my life experiences, and... after speaking to my mother, I believe that I most likely am.”

“You talked to your mother about this?”

“There is evidence that there is a genetic component to autism, so it was logical to inquire if my mother knew of any family members who were also diagnosed with the disorder. As it turns out, her brother is autistic as well.” Spock grimaced. “However, this course of action, as well as my subsequent disclosure of my findings and suspicions, had an unintended effect- my mother became... guilty that she did not think to have me tested for it, even after the incident that occurred when I was six.”

Jim blinked, then pressed his lips into a tight line. Amanda Grayson seemed like a great mom and a wonderful woman, but even so...

“Why... why would she feel guilty about that?”

“According to her, because I did not know as a child, I was unable to form healthy coping mechanisms.” Spock turned to him, eyebrow quirked and something like the beginnings of rage in burning in those chocolate-colored eyes. “It was not, as you may be assuming, because she would want to change anything about me.”

Jim flinched, clearing his throat and rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly.

“S... Sorry, I just... I know we’ve come a long way since the days of that one organization with the puzzle pieces, but... well, some people are dicks.”

“Indeed, however my mother is not one of those people.” He paused for a moment, then looked over at Jim, his lips quirked upward just enough for it to count as a smile. “But... thank you for your concern, in any case.”

And there went Jim’s heart again, doing somersaults.

“Of course, Spock.” Jim frowned. “Hey, you’re... you’re okay with all of this, right? I know it’s probably kinda... I dunno, strange to learn something that big about yourself all of a sudden.”

“I am... if I am being entirely honest, it is somewhat... odd. I am already thirty years of age, yet I did not know this about myself until today. However, I believe that I will become used to the idea in time, as it is not as though anything has truly changed other than I now know about it.”

Jim smiled.

“Well, if you, uh, if you need to talk about it, I’d be happy to listen.”

“Yes, you said as much when you stated how I put up with your ‘quirks.’” Spock’s lips were still quirked upward enough to count as a smile. “Thank you, Jim.”

“Of course. Anytime.”

Chapter Text

2260.136

Jim’s first semi-coherent thought upon awakening was everything is pain.

His second, slightly less nonsensical thought was about how this was not the Enterprise’s sickbay. Or if it was, he’d been out way longer than he thought.

He groaned as he sat up, his head feeling like his brains had been scooped out, fried like scrambled eggs, then funneled back into his head through his ears, or in shorter terms, headache type number thirty-two.

It was probably not a great sign that he could differentiate between types of headaches.

“Hello?” He called, his voice sounding raspy even to his own ears. “Can someone tell me where I am?”

The curtain around his biobed was drawn back, revealing a man with skin only a little lighter than Nyota’s in short-sleeved medical blues.

Jim blinked at him.

“... You’re not Bones,” he commented.

“I don’t know who that is, so yeah,” the man responded, walking over to the foot of Jim’s bed and picking up a chart. “Good to see you finally decided to join us, Captain Kirk.”

“You know who I am?”

The man snorted.

“I think everyone knows the name of the youngest starship captain ever, Jimmy.”

Jim blinked again, tilting his head.

“Uh, Jimmy? I’m... I’m sorry, but... do you happen to know my mom?”

The man blinked.

“You... you really have no idea where you are, do you?”

“Well, I’m guessing a starship, but other than that, I got nothing.”

“You’re on the USS Discovery.”

Jim blinked once again, then felt his eyes widen.

“W... Wait, the Discovery? The only ship in the fleet to have a spore drive? Commanded by Captain Michael Burnham?”

“And the ship that your mom’s the chief engineer on?”

“Yeah, that too- oh, don’t look at me like that, I love my mom, but Michael Burnham.”

The man chuckled, shaking his head.

“Your mom never mentioned you were so... lively.” He stuck out his hand. “I’m Hugh, by the way. Hugh Culber, I’m the CMO on this ship.”

Jim grinned as he shook his hand.

“James T. Kirk, Captain of the USS... wait.” His eyes widened. “I’m... I’m not the only person you picked up, right? There were two other people, Lieutenant-!”

“Lieutenant Nyota Uhura and Ensign Pavel Chekov. Don’t worry, they’ve been up and at ‘em for a while. You were the one we were a little worried about. What did you do, get punched in the head ten times?”

“... To be honest, I think I lost consciousness around the seventh punch,” Jim admitted as he got out of the biobed. “What happened, anyway? Coulda sworn we were all about to kick the bucket down there.”

“Well, lucky for you, we got that distress signal you managed to send out. I wasn’t part of the landing party, but according to someone who was, it was ‘fucking amazing.’”

Jim snorted, then groaned as he stretched.

“Sorry I missed it. So, am I free to go?”

“Well, yes, but where are you going?”

He grinned at Hugh.

“I think I’ll go bug the Chief Engineer.”

 


 

When Jim got to Engineering, he was unsurprised to see that his mom was yelling at someone. Nor was he surprised to see that most of the people in the area were cowering in the shadows.

After all, Kirk women were scary as fuck, his mom included.

One ensign’s eyes widened when she saw him, and Jim quickly put his finger to his lips, signalling for her to be quiet as he crept up behind his mom.

“... all I know is that when I checked this morning, there were no mushrooms in those Jefferies tubes, and yet when I checked ten minutes ago, guess what? Fucking mushrooms!”

“For the last time, Kirk, this is the only ship left in the Fleet-!”

“Outfitted for use of a spore drive, but you know how many times we’ve used that thing in the past few years? Three, and it was an emergency every time! All I’m asking is that you keep your damn forest-!”

“Hey, Mom,” Jim greeted, standing right behind his mom.

“Hey, shortstack, just a second- Keep your damn forest out of my...”

His mom trailed off, her shoulders dropping before she turned around to face him. Jim grinned back at her.

“You little shit,” she chided lowly before all but tackling him in a hug. Jim laughed, wrapping his arms around her before mouthing “you’re welcome” at the guy she’d been yelling at.

“Nice to see you too, Ma.”

“You scared the hell of me, kid.”

“Yeah, it’s kinda becoming a pattern, isn’t it? I get seriously injured in the course of my captainly duties, you get a few more gray hairs, rinse and re-!”

His mom pulled back, giving him a serious look. Jim’s heart dropped when he saw just how much fear was in her eyes, suddenly realizing that the last time she’d seen him in a biobed like that...

Jim sighed, smiling apologetically.

“I’m sorry, Mom. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Her expression softened, and she smiled a little, the lines at the corners of her eyes creasing.

“Yeah, well. You’re your father’s boy, alright.”

“I genuinely don’t know if that’s a compliment or not.”

“Eh, take it however you want, it fits either way.”

The guy his mom had been yelling at cleared his throat.

“Commander?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah, you. Look, just get your mushrooms back in their place, which is not in my Jefferies tubes. And I swear, if I find more in there, I’ll tell your husband where you hide your secret whiskey stash.”

The man’s eyes widened.

“You wouldn’t.”

“Don’t test me, Paul. Nothing goes on on this ship without me knowing about it.”

The man- whose name, apparently, was Paul- glared at his mother, then looked at Jim.

“You’re her son, right? Has she always been like this?”

Jim shrugged.

“I mean, far back as I can remember. She means it when she says she knows everything, by the way. Once I found a kitten and took it home to secretly take care of it in our barn, and the next day she came home with cat food.”

“You had cat fur all over you, shortstack.”

“Socks was an affectionate soul, Mom. Thank you for letting me keep him, by the way.”

His mom rolled her eyes, but he could see her smiling.

“Anyway, Jimmy, this lovely fellow here is Lieutenant Commander Paul Stamets, or as he’s affectionately known to us on the Discovery, Mushroom Man.”

“Kirk, you’re the only one who calls me that.”

She snorted.

“To your face, maybe.”

“Nice to meet you, Paul,” Jim started before his mom and Paul could start arguing again, sticking his hand out for the other man to shake. “I’m Jim. I promise I’m not as scary as my mom.”

Paul looked uncertain, but eventually shook Jim’s hand.

“She talks about you a lot. Talks about your daughter even more.”

“That’s fair, Alice is pretty amazing. I think she’s probably the smartest six year old-!”

“Oh my god.”

Jim paused, turning to the entrance with a quirked eyebrow. A young woman with curly red hair pulled back into a bun was hovering there, looking like she might start jumping up and down at any second.

“It’s really you!” She exclaimed. “You’re James Kirk!”

“Uh... yes? And you are...?”

“Lieutenant Sylvia Tilly, sir. I can’t believe it! I mean, Winona reminds us that you’re her son, like, all the time, and I was with the landing party so I know you were one of the people we rescued, but you were unconscious at the time so it’s not like I actually got to meet you, but now I do and it’s the fucking coolest thing ever-!”

Tilly froze, quickly covering her mouth before straightening to attention.

“I... I apologize for my unprofessionalism, Captain Kirk, I just... it is an honor to meet you, sir.”

Jim managed to keep his face serious for all of eight seconds before grinning hugely.

“I think I might have to poach this one from your ship, Mom.”

“Really?!” Tilly exclaimed, looking like he’d just offered her a pony.

Jim’s mom snorted.

“Yeah, good luck getting that cleared with Captain Burnham.”

“Oh, um, speaking of which...” Tilly cleared her throat. “Mich- Captain Burnham would like to see you on the bridge, Captain Kirk.”

Jim blinked, then pointed at himself.

“W... Wait, me? Michael Burnham wants to see me? The Michael Burnham?”

“Well, you are the James T. Kirk. I think she wants you on the bridge when she contacts your ship. Lieutenant Uhura and Ensign Chekov are already waiting.”

Jim was about two seconds from jumping up and down and yelling “yippee” at the top of his lungs, to be honest.

“Think I’ll go with you, shortstack.”

“Huh? Why?”

“Because I don’t want you making a fool out of yourself in front of my captain.” His mom shrugged. “Plus, I like your first officer. Spock’s a good egg.”

Jim snorted.

“Yeah, an egghead, maybe.”

An adorable egghead, yeah, but an egghead nonetheless.

“Jimmy, what did I tell you about insulting people?”

He sighed.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, then at least make sure your insults are creative.”

“That’s my boy.”

 


 

The bridge of the Discovery wasn’t quite as big as the Enterprise’s, which made sense considering it was a Crossfield-class while the Enterprise was a Constitution-class. Still, it was no less lively, and it looked like Nyota and Chekov had made themselves at home while Jim was out. Nyota was chatting with a dark-skinned man at the communications officer’s post, and Chekov...

“So you are spore drive operator?”

“I am.”

“Very interesting! You know, the idea of collecting mushrooms spores came from Russia. Is little known fact, yes?”

Jim rolled his eyes, walking over to Chekov and clearing his throat.

“Ensign, I think you should let the nice... uh...”

Okay. So as it turns out, Chekov had been hitting on a robot.

This was a really weird day.

“Captain! You are awake!” If Chekov was unhappy about being interrupted, he didn’t show it, his face lit up like a Christmas tree as he looked at Jim.

“Jeez, was I really that bad off?”

“You have been unconscious for twelve days, sir.”

“What?!”

He heard his mom snort.

“More like twelve hours.”

Jim blinked, then gave Chekov a look. Chekov gave him a shit-eating grin in return.

“Eh-heh. Sorry, sir. Was just little joke.”

“Ensign, my six-year-old makes better jokes than that. Leave the nice... uh... spore drive operator alone and go... somewhere else.”

“I do not mind speaking with him, Captain Kirk,” the spore drive operator informed him. She smiled a little. “I find him quite charming, actually.”

Chekov beamed, and Jim rolled his eyes.

“Well, alright, but just know that whatever he claims about Russia, it’s not true, uh...”

“Lieutenant Commander Airiam, sir.”

“Right, nice to meet you.” He nodded at her, then turned to his mother. “So, I might be off base here, but is she a robot?”

“Jim, I’ve been here a year, and I’m gonna be honest, I have no fucking idea.” She clapped him on the back gently. “Now, get going, the captain’s a busy lady.”

Jim swallowed as he took a stumbling step forward.

Right. No big deal. He was just going to meet another starship captain.

Captain Burnham. Captain Michael motherfucking Burnham, the woman who all but single-handedly stopped a war with the Klingons just a few years ago, and the only Human ever to attend both the Vulcan Learning Center and the Vulcan Science Academy, as well as one of the only Humans to receive the Vulcan Scientific Legion of Honor.

No big deal. He was cool. He was James T. Kirk, the youngest Starfleet captain ever, and he was a genius too, even if he’d never gone to Vulcan public school.

Shit, how had he already gotten to the captain’s chair?

“Um... C... Captain Burnham?”

The chair turned, revealing a dark-skinned woman with short, curly hair in Science blues. She smiled at him as she stood up, and Jim had to try very hard not to squeal in excitement.

“Captain Kirk. Good to see that you’ve woken up.”

She looked at him for a moment, and Jim realized that it was his turn to talk.

“Oh, uh, y-yeah, I... sorry, I’m a little out of it.” He cleared his throat. “Thank you for responding to my distress signal.”

“I’m impressed that you managed to send one at all. The planet had a strong ion field that made it nearly impossible to intercept any communications.” She smiled again. “Well done.”

Forget T’Pau, this was officially the new best day of Jim’s life after the day he met his daughter.

“Captain, the Enterprise is hailing us now.”

“Put them on visual, Bryce,” Burnham responded, turning to the front of the ship. She raised her hand in the ta’al when Spock’s face appeared on screen, seemingly oblivious to how Jim’s stomach had started doing somersaults. “Commander Spock. Nuh’mau-wak.”

Jim saw Spock’s lips twitch upward in the way that meant he was smiling in his head, although he also could’ve sworn that there was something like guilt in his eyes.

“Likewise, Captain Burnham. Captain Kirk.”

Jim really hoped he wasn’t blushing too obviously. Half his own ship already knew how he felt about his XO, he didn’t need another ship knowing.

“H-Hey, Spock. How’s it going?”

“The ship has continued to function at a satisfactory level in your absence, sir. However, I am pleased to see that you are uninjured.”

Jim’s heart skipped a beat, and he grinned like an idiot.

“Aw, Spock, did you miss me?”

Burnham snickered as the tips of Spock’s ears went green.

“Negative, Captain. I am simply pleased that Starfleet has not lost an excellent captain, nor an excellent communications officer or an excellent navigator.”

“He thinks I am excellent navigator? This is news to me.”

Nyota snorted.

Jim rolled his eyes.

“Aw, don’t listen to him, Jim,” he heard Bones call. “You shoulda seen the way he was acting these past few days. You know what he wanted to do to find you three? Scan space.”

“Uh... that seems like a pretty logical thing to do, Bones.”

“No, he wanted to scan space. As in, all of it.”

Several people on the bridge laughed as a light shade of green dusted Spock’s cheeks.

“Why, I didn’t know you cared so much, Mr. Spock,” Jim teased, trying to ignore the way his heart sang to know how far Spock was willing to go to find him.

“It was... it was logical to be thorough, sir. In any case, as you, Lt. Uhura, and Ensign Chekov have all been rescued, we will proceed to rendezvous with the Discovery to retrieve you.”

“Why don’t you beam aboard for a bit, Commander?” Burnham offered. “We don’t have a specific mission at the moment, and I’m sure your crew would love a day off. Plus, it’ll give us a chance to catch up.”

Jim blinked.

A chance to catch up? Wait, did... did Spock know Michael Burnham? Did Spock know Michael Burnham and had never told Jim?!

Man. If he wasn’t so in love with the guy, he might resent him for that.

“Very well. We shall warp to your location and rendezvous on your ship.”

“Great.” Burnham smiled, her eyes a little wistful. “It’s... it’s been too long since we last spoke, Spock.”

Spock actually looked a little melancholy.

“Indeed it has. It will be approximately two hours before we arrive at your location, since our ship has been running on warp six for the past three point eight two days. Spock-!”

“Now, just hold on a second there, Spock.”

Jim blinked, turning to look at his mother.

“Ah, Winona. You are the Chief Engineer aboard the Discovery, correct?”

Winona? Since when was Spock friends with Jim’s mom?

“Yeah, I am, and I also happen to be the grandmother of a certain little girl on your ship. Bring her along, would ya? It’s been too long since I last got to see her.”

Spock’s lips twitched again.

“Very well, Winona. I am certain Alice will be quite pleased to see you as well.” He raised his hand, fingers split in the ta’al. “Live long and prosper, Captain Burnham.”

“Peace and long life, Commander Spock.”

The video feed cut out, and Jim turned to look at Burnham.

“Okay, I’m confused. Do you know my first officer?”

Burnham blinked, arching an eyebrow.

“He didn’t tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

Burnham rolled her eyes.

“So he’s still not sharing details of his personal life, I see.”

“What does his... I know stuff about Spock’s personal life. Like, his mom’s name is Amanda, she was a teacher before she was a diplomat, and he has an older half brother on his dad’s side, Sybok, who apparently fills the role of the idiot brother-!”

“Sybok is not an idiot,” Burnham snapped, her eyes suddenly going sharp. The bridge froze, and it was like the temperature dropped ten degrees all of a sudden.

Jim slowly raised his hands in surrender.

“I... sorry, I didn’t... that’s just how Spock made him sound when he told me about him.”

“That is his opinion of him, but it is not factual. Sybok has been misguided, yes, but to call him an idiot is untrue.”

She seemed weirdly fired up about this.

Actually, now that he thought about it, she was kind of acting like Sam did when Jim was seven and getting picked on for being unable to sit still in class.

“Uh... how do you know Spock, exactly?”

Burnham cleared her throat, straightening her posture.

“Commander Spock and Sybok are my brothers.”

Jim blinked, then felt his mouth fall open in shock.

“... C... Come again?”

“More accurately, they are my foster brothers. Our parents adopted me when I was six, and Spock was born the following year. Sybok then joined our family when I was eleven and Spock was four, as his mother had kept his existence secret from our father.”

Jim stared at her, his mind straining to process what she’d just told him.

“W... Wait, so you’re saying that not only does my first officer know Michael Burnham, he literally grew up sharing a bathroom with her?!”

Burnham’s lips twitched upward in a little smile- unlike her apparent brother, she didn’t fight it.

“Actually, our house was big enough that we had our own bathrooms.”

“Wh- Okay, one, unfair, I had to share a bathroom with Sam and he took forever to get ready in the morning, and two, not the point! I can’t- actually, you know what? I can totally believe this, he didn’t even tell me that I’m an honorary Vulcan citizen through my daughter until he was convincing T’Pau to let us stay for his wedding ceremony-!”

“His what.”

Jim froze, then grinned nervously.

“He, uh... he didn’t tell you about that did he?”

There was a fire burning in Burnham’s eyes.

“No. No, he did not.”

Oops.

Jim may have to avoid leaving Spock alone with his sister for a while. He was pretty sure that Bones might just laugh at him if Burnham ended up punching him in the face.

 


 

“... And that’s Alice on her sixth birthday. She insisted on doing her own hair, and well...” Jim grinned at the messy, loose buns Alice had wrestled her curls into. “It was super cute though.”

“She has your eyes,” Burnham (“Michael, Jim, we’re both captains here”) told him, her lips curved up into a small smile. “I have never seen a blue-eyed Vulcan before.”

“Yeah, the ol’ Kirk blues are pretty dominant, I guess.” He smiled again. “She’s the light of my life, y’know? I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

“Your mother has said similar things about you and your older brother.”

Jim laughed, then folded the picture back up before putting it back into his pocket.

“Yeah, well, your brother’s been a big help there, y’know. I mean, he knows a lot more about being Vulcan than I do, and he and Alice adore each other.” Jim snorted. “Even if he’d never admit that out loud.”

Michael hummed, taking a drink from her... green juice with unknown, probably healthy contents. Jim took a drink from his own, much less healthy glass of soda.

“So, how long have you been dating my little brother?”

He nearly choked on his soda.

“P... Pardon?”

“How long have you and Spock been dating?”

“I-! W-We’re, we’re not dating! He’s just a friend! One of my best friends!”

Michael quirked an eyebrow in a very Spock-esque fashion.

“Jim, I have eyes, and I know my brother. He doesn’t even let me tease him like that. He’s either crazy about you or you’ve worn him down so much that he doesn’t even try to get you to stop teasing.”

Jim scoffed.

“It’s the latter, believe me. Besides, I’m the one who’s crazy about...”

He froze with his drink halfway to his lips, his heart pounding in his ears as a flush rose in his cheeks.

“... Crazy about him, I’m guessing?”

“... crap, I was hoping you wouldn’t catch that...” Jim sighed. “Fine, yeah, I... I’m in love with him. Have been for over a year now, and I’m starting to think there’s no getting over it. But believe me, it’s one-sided.”

“How do you know? Did you ask him?”

“I didn’t have to. If... if he wanted me, then when he went through his, uh, his Time... well, he probably would have made his feelings known by this point, wouldn’t he?”

Nevermind that Spock had almost definitely gotten hard while they were grappling in the dirt. He’d been in the middle of the most intense part of pon farr, and they’d been in close physical contact, it wasn’t Spock’s fault that his body had... reacted.

Jim didn’t have any excuse for how his body reacted. He was just glad Spock had been too far gone to notice, since he probably would have said something by now if he had.

“Jim, I’m a little surprised.”

Jim blinked, turning to look at Michael again.

“About what?”

“I’m surprised that you haven’t figured out that my brother is very good at denying himself the things he wants. I have known him since the day he was born, and in all that time, I have never seen him look at someone the way he looks at you.” She leaned forward. “And you can’t tell me you think that Vulcans don’t feel affection, because you and I both know that is not true. Perhaps Spock does not outwardly show it the way Alice might, but he cares for you very deeply.”

The things she was saying sounded a lot like things Jim had thought before. He remembered how Spock had brought him oatmeal after Kodos, their thrice-weekly chess games (which actually happened four times a week now), how Spock had carried him when he couldn’t walk after Qo’noS, how he’d picked him up and spun him around when he realized he hadn’t killed him during their wrestling match...

Spock staying to comfort Jim as he died.

The look on his face when Jim had finally woken up.

Yeah. Spock was a more affectionate creature than he probably wanted to admit.

But...

“Look, even if- and I’m not saying he does, cause he doesn’t- even if Spock did like me like that, it’s still... I have a child to think about. I can’t ever just date someone because I like them, I have to know that whatever partner I have is going to be okay with being... being Alice’s other parent. They could never just date me, they’d also have to become a parent to a kid that isn’t even theirs, and... and I just can’t ask that of him.” He took another swig of his soda, which was quickly going flat. “I’ve already asked way too much of him.”

After a moment, Michael sighed.

“I know my brother, Jim. I think that he’d do whatever you asked of him, just because you were the one who asked.”

Before Jim could respond to that, Michael’s comm went off- it was Bryce, telling them that the Enterprise had arrived to meet them.

“Just... think about it, okay?”

Jim swallowed as he stood up, unable to give her a reply before she started walking towards the transporter room.

 


 

It had been a challenge to convince Alice to stay still long enough for the transporter to work properly. Thus, Spock was completely unsurprised that, the moment she finished rematerializing, she dashed off the platform towards her father.

“Daddy!” She cried, arms outstretched. Jim laughed, kneeling down to catch her before standing and spinning her around.

“Miss me, buttercup?”

Alice’s reply was muffled, as she had burrowed her face into Jim’s shoulder. Still, Jim’s expression softened, and he sighed, rubbing her back softly.

“But you knew I wasn’t gone, didn’t you? You could still feel me through our bond.”

Alice’s reply to that was also muffled. Jim sighed again.

“I know, baby. I’m sorry I scared you.”

Alice’s head popped up, her lips pressed in a thin line.

“You better be! You were gone a whole three days, and I thought Mr. Spock and Mr. Scotty and Uncle Bones were all gonna start fighting each other! It was chaos!”

Jim laughed, and Spock’s heart skipped a beat, as it was wont to do whenever he heard that most wonderful sound.

“Sounds like I better not take a vacation when they’re still working, then.”

“You’d better make sure Mr. Spock knows where you’re going, too. He wanted to scan space. All of it.”

Jim laughed again, then looked over at Spock, his eyes twinkling with amusement.

“Yeah, so I’ve heard. Don’t you think that might have been a little bit overkill, Mr. Spock?”

Spock’s ears began to burn as he straightened and cleared his throat.

“It... it seemed to be the most prudent course of action at the time, sir.”

Jim’s eyes seemed to twinkle even more.

Then Spock heard a chuckle.

“Of course, Mr. Spock. To spend years scanning space in search of your captain is entirely logical.”

The burning spread to his cheeks as Spock turned to his sister, although he found it difficult not to smile when he saw her.

“It was necessary to exhaust all avenues of investigation prior to turning back, Captain Burnham.”

This was true- if Spock had not thoroughly investigated the disappearance of his captain and two other commissioned officers, Starfleet Command would most likely have subjected him to a court martial.

Of course, expending resources on what very well may have been a pointless search could also have led to Spock being court martialed, but since Jim, Uhura, and Chekov were all indeed alive and captured, he doubted that the matter would be pursued.

Michael’s lips curved into a small smile, and Spock was certain that had they been alone, she would be laughing at him.

“Um... excuse me, Miss Captain?”

Michael blinked, turning to Alice with a kind smile.

“Yes?”

“Are you Captain Michael Burnham?”

“I am.”

“Oh. My daddy thinks you’re super cool!”

Jim let out a very odd squawk, his face going from its usual color to beet red in less than two point eight one seconds.

Michael chuckled, quirking an eyebrow.

“Oh, he does, does he?”

“Uh-huh! He said that you’re one of the smartest and toughest starship captains in the fleet, and if he ever got to meet you, he was gonna ask for your autogrammf!”

Jim had somehow managed to redden further by the time he covered his daughter’s mouth.

“Ah-hahaha, uh, um, that was just... buttercup, remember that conversation we had about tact?”

Michael laughed a little louder, shaking her head.

“It’s alright, Jim. I’m flattered, really.” Her eyes were twinkling with amusement. “Although, it’s been a long time since anyone’s asked me for my autograph.”

Jim laughed sheepishly, the flush on his face lessening somewhat. He then paused and blinked, letting out a disgusted noise before removing his palm from his daughter’s mouth.

“What the-?! Did you just lick my hand?!”

“I’m six, what were you expecting?” Alice replied coolly.

Michael laughed again, which caused Jim to chuckle as well. Normally, Jim’s laugh was a very soothing sound, but somehow, knowing that it was because of his sister was...

No, MINE. He is MY t’hy’la, not yours, never yours, mine mine mine MINE-!

“Uh, Spock?” Jim’s voice brought him out of his own head. “Is, uh... is there a reason that you’re looking at your sister like you want to set her on fire with your eyes?”

Spock blinked, then felt his ears begin to burn as he cleared his throat.

“I did not mean to... my apologies, Michael, it seems I am more tired than I...” Spock blinked once more, then turned to look at Jim with a quirked eyebrow. “You are aware that Captain Burnham is my foster sister?”

Jim shifted Alice into one arm and put the other on his hip, giving Spock a look that he was certain he’d seen on his own mother more than once.

“Yeah, no thanks to you. Why didn’t you ever tell me that your big sister is the Michael Burnham?”

“Because it was not relevant at any point before this.”

This was true, although Spock now found he had a new reason- because Jim was his t’hy’la, not Michael’s, and she could not just take him from him as if they were still children and Jim was a favored toy-!

Spock blinked once more, then suppressed a grimace.

He should not think of his captain that way. Jim was his t’hy’la, but he did not belong to Spock, and even if they were in a relationship, Jim would not belong to him- he would belong to himself, as he always had.

He was not a toy. He was a person, and if... if what he desired was Michael, then...

Then Spock had no right to try to assert a claim to him. Especially when he had never- would never- make his affections known to his captain in the first place.

“Spock?”

This time, it was Michael’s soft voice that brought Spock out of his own head. She had an odd look in her eyes, as if she knew something he did not.

“Yes, Michael?”

“I meant what I said earlier. I would very much like to catch up with you.”

Spock found that there was something else in his sister’s eyes beside that knowing look- anger, which Spock could not comprehend for the life of him. What could he have done to anger Michael? Before today, the last time he had spoken with his sister was before the destruction of Vulcan-that-was, which was now over two years ago.

Which, now that Spock thought about it, may have been part of the reason for her anger.

“Uh, Spock?”

He quirked an eyebrow as he turned to Jim, who looked oddly sheepish.

“Yes, Captain?”

“Just, uh...” Jim gave him what McCoy had once referred to as a “shit-eating grin,” which Spock assumed did not literally mean Jim was consuming feces. “Sorry in advance for this, I guess?”

Before Spock could inquire as to what he meant, Jim turned his gaze back to Alice.

“C’mon, buttercup, let’s go find your Nana, yeah?”

Alice gasped excitedly.

“This is Nana’s ship! Nana’s here!” She began squirming in Jim’s arms. “Lemme down, lemme down!”

Jim laughed as he put her down, watching in surprise as she bolted out of the transporter room.

“H-Hey, wait! Alice, this is a science vessel, who knows what strange, little-girl-eating things they have here!” He called as he ran after her.

Spock’s lips twitched upward, a motion he quickly suppressed when he heard his sister clear her throat.

“So. How is T’Pring?”

Spock blinked, turning back to her with a quirked eyebrow.

“T’Pring?”

“Yes, T’Pring. You know, your wife?”

Spock blinked once more.

“How did you-?”

“Jim told me that you went into pon farr a few months ago.”

Spock’s stomach felt as though it had dropped into the bottom of his frame.

“He- why would Jim-?”

“He did not mean to tell me, Spock, he was in the middle of a rant about how you never told him that he’s an honorary Vulcan citizen through Alice, which was part of a larger rant about how you never told him that we’re siblings.” Michael gave him a harsh look. “Because apparently, you still neglect to tell people who care about you anything about your personal life.”

Spock reminded himself that Vulcans did not feel guilt.

“As I have explained to both you and Jim, I did not share the information you refer to because none of it was relevant. Furthermore, you are operating under an incorrect assumption.”

Michael’s eyebrow arched.

“And what assumption is that?”

“While I did indeed enter pon farr approximately seventy four point eight days ago, T’Pring is not my wife, nor shall she ever be.”

His sister blinked.

“Spock, I may not be a Vulcan, but I was raised as one. If you had not taken T’Pring as your wife, you would not be standing here right now.”

“That is what I had assumed as well, but there were... extenuating circumstances.”

“What extenuating circumstances?”

Spock straightened, folding his hands behind his back and looking away from his sister.

“... T’Pring chose the challenge.”

Michael was silent for a moment.

“... she... she what? How could she-!”

“T’Pring was well within her rights to challenge the bonding, and I cannot fault her reasoning for doing so- as I am unlikely to ever father children, it would be illogical for her to bond with me, especially when our race is on the verge of extinction.”

“Spock... Spock, that isn’t your fault.”

“I am aware of this, and I do not take offense at it. Truthfully...” Spock hesitated, then cleared his throat. “Truthfully, now that my Time has passed, I am glad that she chose the challenge, as I had been dreading this event since I was approximately twelve point three eight Terran years of age, although I had not been looking forward to the cementing of our bond since... since the betrothal bond was put in place, frankly.”

“What? Spock, I do not... why would you be apprehensive about bonding with T’Pring? I realize that you have never been overly fond of her, nor she you, but I did not think you had any misgivings about her.”

Spock wished his ears had not begun to burn.

“It... it is not only T’Pring that I had misgivings about, it is... even if I had been betrothed to a woman that I had a more positive relationship with, I would still have had misgivings because... that is, I...”

Spock had truly hoped he would never have to have this conversation with any member of his family, but he had been wholly unprepared for the realities of it.

“You... what? What is it, Spock?”

“I... that is to say, I... I would not have ever been entirely satisfied with being betrothed to any women, let alone bonded to one, because I...” He swallowed thickly, hating how his heart was pounding. “Because my... my romantic and sexual interests lie solely with... with other men.”

The silence was somehow deafening, and Spock could not bring himself to look at his sister. His gaze was trained on his own regulation boots, fear swirling around inside him so overwhelmingly that he could not deny the emotion.

He could not stop himself from flinching when he heard his sister take a step towards him.

“Spock... Spock, are you trying to tell me that you’re gay?”

“I... th... that is the accepted term for my sexual orientation amongst most Federation-allied species, yes.”

“... Spock, please look at me.”

He swallowed once more, then took a small breath and turned toward his sister, slowly moving his eyes upward.

He was not entirely certain what he was expecting, but he was relieved to see warmth and acceptance in her eyes.

And somewhat startled by the complete lack of surprise in them.

“You knew,” he breathed, feeling slightly light-headed.

“Well, I suspected that you weren’t straight. Do you remember when you were twelve and that ambassador and his family stayed with us for a week? You kept staring at his son and flushing.”

Spock did remember that. He’d found the other boy to be... distracting, with his flickering hazel eyes and copper-colored hair, and his bright, wide smile... and his lips had been so soft...

He had also been under the impression that no one had noticed his lapse in control.

“Why... why did you not speak to me about it?”

“I was not sure about my suspicions. I decided that if you were interested in other men, I would let you broach the topic, and if you were not, then it would be better not to bring it up at all and risk upsetting you.”

“... Sound logic. I confess, I most likely would have been unreceptive to such a suggestion at that age. However, had certain circumstances not forced me to come to terms with my sexuality, I may never have broached the subject at all.”

Michael smiled gently.

“Well, I am still pleased that you trust me enough to share this with me.”

Despite himself, Spock found himself smiling back at her, his heart feeling much lighter.

“... I am not certain as to why, but I feel as though there is a part of this interaction that is missing.”

“Generally, when Humans come out to another person and the other person is not awful to them, they will hug as a way of reaffirming affection.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“An illogical practice.”

Then, because Spock was far too relieved to be entirely logical at the moment, he stepped forward and pulled his older sister into his arms for the first time since... since she was still taller than him, he realized. Michael chuckled, wrapping her arms around his torso, and even after she had stopped laughing he could still feel her amusement through their bond.

“What is so amusing?”

She chuckled again, taking a step back.

“You most likely do not remember, but when you were around two years of age, I decided to perform an experiment on you.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow, and his sister rolled her eyes.

“It was nothing extreme, I simply wished to test if you had yet formed preferences. I put three of your toys in front of you- a teddy bear, a set of seriated plastic rings, and a play telephone that I-Chaya was frightened of.”

“Why was I-Chaya frightened of a toy telephone?”

“It made loud noises. In any case, I placed the toys in front of you, then told you to go to your favorite.” She smiled softly. “At first, you took your time, examining each toy before focusing your attention on the rings. I had thought that would be your choice, but... you put the rings aside after a moment, then crawled over to me and gave me a hug.”

Spock blinked.

“I had told you to choose your favorite from the items in front of you, but I had not realized that I too was in front of you.” Michael’s eyes were shining a bit. “Amanda was quite concerned when she walked into the living room to find me crying with you in my arms.”

Spock’s lips twitched upward.

“I would assume so, since it would not be immediately obvious as to what upset you.”

“I was not upset, Spock. I was crying because I was happy, because it was clear to me that you loved me as much as I loved you.”

Spock’s ears began to burn.

“I... such sentimentality is not-!”

“Spock. I lived with Vulcans for the vast majority of my childhood and all of my adolescence. You may not want to admit it, but I know that you and our father are capable of...”

She trailed off, pain flashing in her eyes when she realized her mistake. Spock’s throat tightened, and he looked away, taking a step back and moving his hands behind his back.

“That is... you always had a different relationship with our father than I did, Michael.”

“Different?”

“He favored you. Perhaps it was because you are older than me, or because part of his katra is... is in you, but...”

“Spock...”

“I do not mean to imply that I resent you for this, as that would be illogical, since it is not your fault that our father preferred you. However, because of that, I... I was reluctant to speak with you about him, since we would have very different opinions of him, and I... I did not want to...”

“Spock... Spock, do you know why I was rejected by the Vulcan Expeditionary Group?”

Spock blinked, turning back to his sister with a raised eyebrow.

“I had assumed that it was because you were Human, which would have taken precedence over your exemplary test scores and the fact that you graduated at the top of your class.”

“That is why my application was rejected, yes, but there was still a chance for me to join after that. However, the chance was given as a choice to Sarek- either the VEG would accept me as a member now, or they could accept you later, but they would not accept us both.”

He blinked once more.

“He... he chose me over you.”

“He did. Of course, then you chose Starfleet over the Academy, rendering the choice pointless.”

Spock’s stomach twisted with guilt.

“I... I had not realized...”

“Of course you didn’t. Sarek regarded his choice as a great source of shame. I myself did not know until his attempted assassination some years ago.”

Spock’s gaze returned to his feet.

“... my decision to join Starfleet was not... an altogether logical one. I had been unsure about going into the VSA from the start, to the point where I considered going through kolinahr instead of accepting the Academy’s offer. However, I... when I was being evaluated by the board, they commented on my... disadvantage.”

“Disadvantage?”

“My Human mother. I was... I conducted myself with the necessary grace, but I became so angry that I made an impulsive decision to reject the Academy’s offer and join Starfleet. While I have never regretted that decision, knowing now that our father had made such a choice in my favor is...”

Michael chuckled dryly.

“It seems that Sarek did not take into account that we may decide to follow our own paths in life.”

“Indeed.”

Neither of them mentioned Sybok, though he was the one who had most strayed from their father’s influence.

It seemed that even after all this time, they were still not ready to discuss him.

This may have been why Michael chose to change the subject.

“So. You and your captain are... quite close.”

“I consider Jim to be a good friend as well as an admirable captain, yes.”

“Hm.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“Is there something you wish to say?”

“Just... I’m not sure that I completely believe that your regard for your captain is purely platonic and/or professional, Spock.”

Spock’s ears began to burn again.

“... Clarify your meaning.”

“I mean that I saw the way you were looking at him when we contacted you on the bridge. I have known you since your birth, and I have never seen you look at anyone that way before.” Michael smirked. “Plus, don’t think I didn’t notice the whole ‘possessive Vulcan’ act earlier, I witnessed our father giving that same look to uninformed delegates who were too chummy with our mother more than once.”

The burning spread to his cheeks.

“I... you are mistaken.”

“I don’t believe I am. You have feelings for your captain, don’t you?”

Now Spock’s entire face was burning.

“I... that is... you have come to an illogical conclusion-!”

“Spock, if there is one thing I know, it is that love is rarely ever logical.” Her eyes softened. “And if there is one thing I know about you, it is that you are very good at denying yourself the things you want.”

Spock grimaced, then sighed, turning his gaze to his feet once more.

“I admit that you have... have come to a correct conclusion, though I maintain it is illogical, even if the illogic is on my part. However, I... ‘want’ is not the most accurate term for my... attachment to Jim, even if it is...” The burning worsened. “Even if it is undeniably true.”

“... Clarify.”

Spock swallowed, then took a breath.

“During the... at the climax of the Khan incident last year, I discovered that... Jim is my t’hy’la.”

Michael was silent- turning to look at her revealed a stunned expression on her face.

“I too was startled by the realization, especially since it came at an... inopportune time.”

An understatement. Realizing that Jim was his t’hy’la as his captain succumbed to radiation poisoning was not only inopportune, but tragic.

“Does... he doesn’t know, does he?”

“I have not informed him, nor do I plan to do so. Such an action would only place an undue and unnecessary burden on my captain- namely, that he might feel obligated to enter a relationship with me, despite not returning my... affections.”

“How do you know he does not return your affections? Have you asked him?”

“No, but... prior to the Khan incident, the captain became infatuated with someone else.”

Michael blinked, then quirked an eyebrow.

“So you’re not saying anything because he’s already dating someone?”

“He is not, it... ended poorly, to say the least. However, I observed his behavior around her, and he... he has never acted that way around me. Therefore, I must conclude that the captain has no romantic or sexual regard for me.”

This was true. Even if the captain had become... aroused while they were in combat during Spock’s plak tow.

It was most likely just adrenaline combined with their physical proximity. It meant nothing.

Michael looked at him for approximately fifty-three point two seconds before groaning and pinching the bridge of her nose.

“I swear, stubborn, oblivious men are going to be the end of me... alright, Spock. I have a proposal for you.”

Spock arched an eyebrow.

“A proposal?”

“Yes. I propose that you subtly make your regard for Captain Kirk more obvious.”

His eyebrow arched higher.

“And how, pray tell, would I do that?”

“Be nice to him. Smile at him. Flirt.”

Spock’s ears once again began to burn.

“All of those options sound incredibly un-Vulcan.”

“Then tap into your Humanity. Just... just try it, alright?” Michael smiled, that knowing look returning to her eyes. “Because I’m willing to bet that he’d be a lot more receptive to it than you think.”

Spock was suddenly reminded of a thought he’d had when he was eight, coincidentally also about his sister.

I am never going to understand women.

 


 

2260.158

Jim blinked once they rematerialized, glancing around at the strangely historical street they’d landed on. Before he could comment on the sights, though, he heard a car honk behind them, followed by Spock quickly pushing them out of the way of what looked like one of those boxy cars from the beginning of the twentieth century.

“Fascinating,” Spock stated plainly.

“That’s a word for it,” Bones commented. “Feels like coming home.”

“Yeah, if home was like, 1920’s Chicago. We didn’t time travel again, right?”

“No, Captain, it appears that we have indeed landed on Sigma Iotia II. As was stated earlier, the Iotians are both highly intelligent and prone to imitation.”

“Yeah, but I thought you meant, like, they’d be similar to whatever culture they were exposed to, not a carbon copy!”

“I do believe there is one way in which the Iotians differ from Earth’s 1920’s, sir.”

“What’s that, Spock?”

Spock pointed at a pair of men across the street.

“As far as I am aware, though the gangs of Chicago were quite brazen, they did not tend to carry around firearms in broad daylight.”

Jim blinked, then did a double take.

“Okay, what the fuck? Why are- how are they- where did they even get those?!”

“Well, Jim, I’m willing to bet this place didn’t exactly get with the times on gun control,” Bones commented. “Or even firearms more modern than a Tommy gun.”

Jim pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head.

“It’s gonna take forever to document the cultural contamination here, isn’t it?”

“I believe the actual amount of time it would take to document the severe cultural contamination on this planet would be closer to six point eight seven months, give or take three point six days-!”

“Spock. Not helping.”

Spock blinked, then pressed his lips into a thin line before opening his mouth once more.

“I apol-!”

There was a click behind them.

“Alright, you three, let’s see you petrified.”

Jim resisted the urge to grimace as he turned around, somehow unsurprised to see a pair of sharp-looking gangster pointing Tommy guns at them.

“Sir, would you mind explaining that statement, please?”

“Spock,” Jim hissed in a warning tone.

“It means I wanna see you turn to stone, pointy. Put your hands over your head, or you ain’t gonna have no head to put your hands over.”

“I assume that your use of the word ‘pointy’ is meant to be a derogatory reference to my-!”

“Spock I am begging you, put your hands over your head before I have to explain to Alice why you didn’t come back from a goddamn diplomatic mission!”

This finally seemed to convince Spock, as he put his hands over his head without any more argument, although he was definitely displeased when the men forced them to hand over their phasers. Jim understood that- he wasn’t too much of a fan of this situation either.

He was even less of a fan of how some guy shot at them while driving down the street a few minutes later.

His dick was definitely into the part where Spock had landed on top of him after pushing him and Bones behind a mailbox, though. Which meant Jim wasn’t a huge fan of his own dick at the moment, but there wasn’t much he could do there. He somehow managed to adjust himself without anyone noticing, clearing his throat as he walked up to the remaining gangster.

“What the hell was that?”

“What, ain’t you ever seen a hit before?”

“Sir, there are several questions I would like to-!”

“Ask the boss, I dunno nothing.” He pointed his Tommy gun at them again. “Get moving, would ya? The boss don’t have all day.”

Jim grimaced, remembering how he once thought it would have been neat to live in Al Capone’s day when he was eleven.

Oh, how wrong he was.

 


 

Spock would never admit this out loud, but he was extremely relieved to see Jim burst in through the doors to Okmyx’s office.

He was rather confused about the firearm he was carrying, but since it seemed that carrying a firearm may have been a necessary part of survival on this planet, he could not fault the captain for obtaining one.

“Hey, captain! You got away from Krako. Y’know, that ain’t easy.”

Jim didn’t answer Okmyx, instead giving Spock a hard look.

“I told you and Dr. McCoy to report to the ship, Mr. Spock.”

“We did, Captain, but the situation required our return.”

Jim sighed, shaking his head.

“Well, did you at least find something from the computer?”

“Nothing useful. Logic and practical information do not seem to apply here.”

“You admit that?” McCoy asked, eyebrow arched.”

“To deny the facts would be illogical, doctor.”

McCoy rolled his eyes.

“Hm... so long as we can’t rely on logic here, then, mind if I follow a hunch?”

Spock quirked an eyebrow when he saw the captain’s grin.

“I am not sanguine about hunches, captain, but I have no practical alternative.”

“Great!” Jim turned his aim on the two gunmen. “You two, strip.”

Spock blinked.

“Captain?”

“Now that we’ve got Bela, Spock, we’re gonna put the bag on Krako.”

“I fail to see how placing Krako in a bag would help our situation, sir.”

“Just go with it. We need these suits. So strip.”

The gunmen protested momentarily, but eventually conceded the point and stripped down.

“Alright, then. Bones, take this.”

McCoy blinked as he took the Tommy gun.

“Uh...?”

“I need you to keep an eye on these wise guys for us while Spock and I are out,” he explained before pulling his uniform top over his head.

Spock’s ears began to burn.

“C... Captain, I do not believe it is polite to-!”

“Polite, schmolite, Spock,” Jim interrupted as he took off his boots. “I think the brown one’s more your color.”

Spock wished to argue, but then Jim removed his trousers and Spock found himself unable to speak. Eventually, he sighed, removing his uniform top as he walked over to the pool table.

And if he caught sight of Jim’s posterior out of the corner of his eye more than once, then it was merely an accident.

The suit was thankfully his size, so he had little trouble putting it on, up until he attempted to tie the necktie. The first attempt resulted in a knot that more closely resembled the end result of Alice tying her shoes, while the second attempt ended with the long end of the tie in the back, which he was certain was incorrect. The third attempt was closest to what he assumed the knot should look like, but extremely lopsided.

“Alright, well, ready when you-!” Jim blinked, then tilted his head slightly. “Uh, your tie’s a little crooked, Spock.”

His ears were burning again.

“I am aware, sir.”

“Aren’t... aren’t you gonna fix it?”

“As this is the most successful attempt I have made thus far, I do not believe that would be wise.”

Jim blinked again, then slowly started to grin.

“Wait, do... Spock, do you not know how to tie a tie?”

The burning spread to his cheeks.

“It... it has never been necessary, sir.”

“Aren’t you thirty?” McCoy asked. “How has it never been necessary for you to know how to tie a tie?”

“Vulcan formalwear does not generally include neck adornments for males. Nor does my Starfleet dress uniform.”

Jim was grinning from ear to ear, shaking his head and chuckling before taking a step towards Spock.

“Alright, then, let an old pro help you out.”

The burning in his cheeks worsened.

“I... Captain, you are not obligated to-!”

“Spock, if we don’t look all perfectly spiffy and shit, nobody’s gonna buy us as gangsters. Besides, I’ve been able to tie my own tie since I was like, eight.”

Spock swallowed, then silently tilted his chin upward to allow Jim access to his neck. Jim was indeed skilled at the act, although Spock was a bit distracted by how the tips of his fingers would occassionally brush his Adam’s apple and he’d feel small waves of affection and amusement.

“I’m willing to bet he’d be a lot more receptive to it than you think.”

His sister’s words had been present in the back of his mind since their conversation some weeks ago. Spock had not been under the assumption that Jim did not hold any affection towards him for some time, but...

“There, all done,” Jim said once he’d finished tying the tie properly. He grinned, patting Spock on the shoulder. “Don’t you look handsome?”

Spock had to fight back a visible flush.

“I... thank you, sir. You also look... very pleasant in that suit.”

Jim blinked, and if Spock did not know better he would have claimed that the captain blushed.

“Uh. Um. Well.” Jim grinned, although this time it did not quite reach his eyes. “Th... Thank you, Mr. Spock, that’s- that’s very kind of you.”

Before Spock could respond to that, McCoy snorted.

“Are you two gonna get a move on or get a room? Cause I ain’t sticking around to watch y’all flirt.”

Jim definitely blushed at that, as did Spock, although he was somewhat gratified to know that his attempt at flirting hadn’t gone unnoticed.

Though he would have preferred that Dr. McCoy was not the one to notice.

“Still your captain, Bones, remember?” Jim muttered before clearing his throat. “A-Anyway, he’s right, we... we should get going.”

Never had Spock wished more that his romantic experience was not limited to a few stolen kisses with that ambassador’s son when he was twelve, because he had no idea if Jim was affected by his attempt at flirting in a positive way, or if it had made him uncomfortable.

He had not expected this to be easy, but it may be even more difficult than he thought.

 


 

Even though Jim was now actually tall enough to reach the pedals, driving a car had not gotten any easier.

Especially when the car was based off an oldsmobile, at least the car he’d driven off a cliff had wasn’t a friggin’ stick shift.

By the time they made it to their destination, Spock was looking green- well, greener than usual.

“... Captain.”

“Yes, Mr. Spock?”

“You... you are an excellent starship commander.”

Jim couldn’t help but grin like a dope at that, although yet again he had to wonder why Spock was being so liberal with the compliments lately.

“Why, thank you, Mr. Spock.”

“But as a taxi driver, you leave much to be desired.”

And there it was. Jim’s grin turned sheepish.

“Was it really that bad?”

“By my count, you nearly collided with three different fire hydrants and a newspaper stand.”

“Hey, give me a break, I haven’t driven a car in seventeen years!”

Spock blinked, then quirked an eyebrow.

“Captain, you are currently twenty-seven years of age.”

“Last time I checked, yeah.”

“If you have not driven a car in seventeen years, would that not mean you last drove a car when you were ten years old?”

“Well, yeah-!” Jim blinked, then gave him a shit-eating grin. “Ah-heh. Haven’t told you that story, have I?”

“You have not. Why were you driving at the age of ten?”

“Well, uh... it has to do with Sam, and the car belonged to my uncle...” Jim swallowed, suppressing a shudder when he remembered the outcome of that particular act of rebellion. “Y’know, um, I... I don’t really want to talk about it right now.”

Or ever. Never thinking about Frank or- or dental drills ever again sounded pretty damn good to Jim.

Spock’s eyebrow was still arched, but he thankfully decided to drop the subject, instead getting out of the car with Tommy gun still in hand. Jim did the same, biting back a groan when he saw the guards posted at the door to Krako’s hideout.

“Well, Mr. Spock? Any ideas on how to get past those two goons over there?”

“Goons, sir?”

“The guards, Spock.”

“Ah. Normally, I would suggest we stun them with our phasers, but unfortunately such an act would most likely cause further cultural contamination here. If we could get close enough to them, we may be able to disable them without drawing suspicion.”

Jim watched as one of the men walked up to a woman driving a baby carriage and used the barrell to pull back the blanket inside, only satisfied when the child inside began crying. He grimaced, resisting the urge to use his phaser on him just for that.

“Yeah, uh, they don’t really seem like the trusting type, Spock.”

“It’s a hit, ain’t it?!”

Jim blinked, quirking an eyebrow when he saw a boy who couldn’t be much older than Peter wielding a knife and looking excited.

“I beg your pardon?” Spock asked.

“You’re gonna hit somebody! Can I watch?”

“Uh... you... you really don’t want to see this, kid,” Jim explained evenly. “Run along and play, okay-?”

“Where’d you get them ears?” The kid demanded, pointing at Spock.

Spock made the face he made whenever Alice had a point that he didn’t want to agree with, but knew was true.

“Young man-!”

“You gonna hit Krako out here? You open up and you’ll be scrabbed from every window in the street.” The kid smirked. “I can fix it for ya.”

“Young man, this is likely to be quite hazardous. If I were-!”

“Now, just hold on, Spock. Out of the mouths of babes-!”

“Who you calling a babe?”

“I’m callin’ you a babe.”

The kid furrowed his brow.

“You callin’ me a babe?!” He started, pointing his knife at Jim’s face.

“Yeah, shortstack, but it ain’t nothin’ personal, see?” He put a hand on the kid’s shoulder, sitting on the hood of the car and pushing the kid down with them. “You know a way we can get close to them?”

“Sure I do.”

“How?”

The kid quirked an eyebrow.

“What’s in it for me?”

Ah, bargaining. Now this was a part of fatherhood Jim knew all too well.

“Well, what do you want?”

“A piece of the action.”

Nope, Jim was lost here, Alice may have been a firecracker but she wasn’t a gangster.

“You do not even know what the action is going to be,” Spock pointed out.

“Figure it’s gotta be a thick percentage, or you wouldn’t be tryin’ to hit Krako.”

Jim exchanged a look with Spock, who simply arched an eyebrow.

“His logic is sound, if odd, sir.”

“Alright, kid, we’ll guarantee you a piece of the action if we can pull this thing off.”

The kid smirked.

“That a contract?”

Jim held out his hand, and the kid shook it.

“Done. Now, spill. What do we do?”

The kid stood up.

“You’ll know what to do.” He then ran back into the street, waving his knife around.

Five minutes later, they’d knocked out both of the guards, stunning two more on the inside before Krako cornered them. Of course, they managed to turn the tables on him.

“Alright, Krako, we don’t have time to show ya how to play around with toys, see?”

“Toys?”

“What d’you think we’re here for, to get a cut of your deal? Forget it! That’s peanuts to an outfit like the Federation! Right, Spock?”

“Unquestionably.”

Jim gave Spock a look.

“Right?”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“R... Right.”

Spock looked hopelessly lost here. Jim made a mental note that he’d probably never played pretend much as a child.

“Now look, Krako, we’re taking over the whole ball of wax. You cooperate with us, and maybe we’ll cut you in for a piece of the action.”

“A miniscule-!” Spock cleared his throat, then showed how small with his right pointer finger and thumb. “A very small piece.”

“How much is that?”

“That’s, um...” Crap, did they have paper money here? What was the currency, anyway? God Jim wished he’d asked before this. “We’ll figure it out later.”

“I thought you guys had laws! No interference-!”

“Who’s interferin’? We’re takin’ over. Check?”

“... Right.” Spock still looked hopelessly confused. If Jim weren’t busy bluffing his way out of this mess, he’d have found it irresistibly adorable.

“The, uh, planet is being taken over by the Federation,” Jim explained as he walked over to Krako’s chair and took a seat. “But we don’t wanna come in here and, eh, use our muscle, ya know what I mean? That ain’t, uh, subtle. So what we do is, we help one guy take over the planet, he pulls the strings, and we pull his.”

Jim leaned back in his chair, giving Spock a “come hither” gesturing.

“Hey, you. Sit down, would ya?”

Spock’s eyebrow remained quirked, but he took a chair near the desk, mimicking Jim when he put his feet up on the desk, still looking adorably lost.

“Well, what’s your cut?”

“What do you care, as long as you’re bein’ cut in?” Jim shrugged. “Course, there’s always Bela Okmyx.”

Krako looked stunned for a split second before nodding.

“Alright, you got yourself a deal, Kirk. Call your ship, bring down your boys, and... whatever else ya need.”

Jim smirked, getting out his comm.

“Kirk to Enterprise.”

“Enterprise. Scott here.”

“Alright, Scotty, we got ourselves a deal with Krako.”

“We... we did, sir?”

“Yeah, we’re ready to make the hit. Takin’ over the whole planet as soon as you get ready.”

“Uh... do you think that’s wise, sir?”

“Sure! We can trust Krako, but we don’t have any choice, ya know what I mean? I mean, the guy’s standin’ about twelve feet in front of me, all ready to be our pal. Course, uh, I’d like to show him the ship, just to show him that we’re, uh, we’re on the level. But, well, you know how it is.”

Jim could hear whispers on the other end, and he was sure that at least one voice belonged to Nyota.

“... Oh! Ah, aye, sir, I do. I know indeed.”

“Yeah, well, we’ll need phasers to equip every one of Krako’s men. We’ll need advisors and troops to back him up on the hit too. Ya got all that, Scotty?”

“Aye, Captain. We’re preparing everything. It’ll be ready when you give the word.”

“You may begin, Mr. Scott.”

“Acknowledged, Captain.”

Less than a minute later, Krako dematerialized, beamed up to the ship where he’d be just as confused about everything as Spock probably was. When the guards tried to investigate, Spock and Jim pounced, knocking them out.

“Alright, let’s move. I’ll drive.”

Spock looked queasy.

“Captain, I am not sure that is wise.”

“What, you wanna drive?”

“As I have never operated a motor vehicle, that seems even more unwise.”

“Well, there ya have it.” Jim winked at him. “Don’t worry, I’ve gotten the hang of it now.”

Spock did not seem at all convinced, and even less so by the time they got back to Okmyx’s office.

Bones, on the other hand, looked relieved to see them, nearly dropping his gun.

“Jim-!”

“Not right now, Sawbones,” Jim interrupted, grabbing Okmyx by the lapels of his jacket and pushing him towards the desk. “I wanna talk to this creep. Now listen, I’m getting tired of playing patty-cake with you penny-ante operators, ya hear?”

“What d’ya mean, a penny-ante operator-?!”

“You’re a penny-ante operator, now sit down!” He said as he forced Okmyx into a chair. “You cover him, Spocko. Now listen, sweetheart, the Federation’s moving in. We’re takin’ over. You play ball, we’ll cut you in for a piece of the pie. You don’t, you’re out. All the way out, ya know what I mean?”

Jim took out his comm, calling Scotty and confirming that Krako had made it up alright and hadn’t done something stupid.

“Okay, baby, cool him until I flag ya, got it?”

“... Flag me?”

Jim wanted to laugh about how that was the part of that statement Scotty was confused about, but he knew they didn’t have time.

“Keep him there until I send for him. We’re gonna be makin’ some old style phone calls from this locale, so you locate the man on the other end of the blower and give ‘em a ride to this flop.”

“... Sir, I understood none of that.”

“For the love of- find the man on the other end of the phone and transport him to these coordinates! Can do, sweetheart?”

“Uh... can do, Captain. Standing by.”

Thankfully, Scotty managed to beam the boss over from wherever he’d been, though the man looked utterly confused and terrified, handing his piece over to Spock when Spock pointed his gun at him.

“Hey, Captain, that ain’t fair-!”

“I would advise youse to keep dialin’, Okmyx.”

Jim blinked, then stared at his first officer, who turned a bit green and cleared his throat.

“It... it seemed logical to adopt the local accent and speech patterns, sir.”

Jim wasn’t sure about logical, but it was fucking adorable. If he wasn’t already sure he’d be seeing gangster-Spock in his dreams at some point, it was definitely gonna happen now.

“Of... Of course, Mr. Spock. You heard the man, Okmyx, get to it!”

Twenty minutes later, they’d ended up with all the bosses (and the guys they’d stolen clothes from) in one room, although the tables turned on them rather quickly.

“Well, now, just- just wait one minute here!” Jim shouted, keeping his hands in Krako’s line of sight. “Now, look, I know when to fold ‘em, but you gotta let me do one thing.”

“I don’t gotta do-!”

“My little girl’s up there on that ship, you got it? She’s six years old. Now, you might be a mobster, Krako, but are you such a monster that you wouldn’t let a man say goodbye to his daughter?”

Krako looked conflicted, but allowed the call.

“Ay, Scotty, this is Kirk. Now, I know not much phases Alice at this point, but I think I’ve got news that’ll stun her. She’s a real fire- ball, ya know, and I hate to burst her bubble, but I ain’t one to block bad news here. So go get her for me, would ya?”

“Aye, right away, sir.”

Jim held his breath, then let it out in relief when green light rained down from the sky and stunned the men out in the street.

“... Gee, that’s... that’s some trick.”

“Did you see that?!”

“They’re not dead, just knocked out for a little while,” Jim explained with a smirk. “Thanks for letting me make that last call to my little girl, by the way.”

“Why, you-! What kinda man makes up a daughter to trick somebody like that?”

“Oh, she’s plenty real.” Jim flipped open his communicator again. “Kirk to Enterprise. Is Alice there, Mr. Scott?”

“Aye, sir. I’ll put her on now.”

“Hi, Daddy!” Alice greeted. “Did you need something?”

“Nah, babydoll, but do I got a story to tell you later.”

“Daddy, what’s wrong with your voice? Do you need to blow your nose or something?”

Jim flushed as Bones snickered, and even Spock’s lips twitched upward in amusement.

“Uh, no, buttercup, I’m fine. See you soon.”

“Kay! Love you!”

“Love you too.” Jim smirked as he closed his comm. “Now, unless one of youse wants to see just how far I’ll go to get back to my little angel, I think we’ve got a deal to work out, yeah?”

 


 

Spock could not say he was not happy to see the planet disappearing from view.

“Now, what’s got you two all broody, huh?” Jim asked as he walked up to Spock and McCoy. “You two have been sulking ever since we got back to the ship.”

“Brooding, Captain?”

Jim rolled his eyes, though he was still smiling.

“Brooding, Mr. Spock. It’s a somber emotional state. Do you wanna continue it, or are you gonna talk to me? Cause I gotta tell you, it’s me or Alice, and I’m by far the less stubborn of the two of us.”

“Captain, I am neither brooding nor somber. However, I do have reservations about your solution to the problem of the Iotians.”

“Ah, yes, I understand that. You don’t think it’s logical to leave a criminal organization in charge.”

“It is highly irregular to say the least, sir. I am also curious as to how you propose to explain to Starfleet Command that a starship will be sent each year to collect our ‘cut.’”

Jim blinked, then looked down, rubbing his chin.

“Yeah, uh... I propose that our cut be put into the planetary treasury and used to guide the Iotians into a more ethical system. Despite themselves, they’ll be forced to accept conventional responsibilities.” He smirked up at Spock. “Isn’t that logical?”

Spock quirked an eyebrow, and the look on his face must have been rather disapproving, since that smirk fell quite quickly.

“Fine, I was bluffing the whole time, I didn’t actually have a plan from the beginning about this, but don’t you think Starfleet’ll buy it?”

Spock did not roll his eyes, no matter what Jim later claimed.

“Alright, Bones, in the language of the planet, what’s your beef?”

“Well, partially that you keep talking like that, but... I dunno how serious this is, Jim, but I think... I think I may have left it in Bela’s office in all the confusion.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow, as did Jim.

“Left what? You didn’t change clothes like me and Spock did, so I’m really hoping it’s not your underwear.”

McCoy gave Jim a withering look, then cleared his throat.

“I think I may have left my comm unit in Bela’s office.”

“... You did what.”

“Captain, if the Iotians, who are very bright and imitative people, should take that communicator apart-!”

“They will, and then they’ll find out how the transtator works-!”

“And since the transtator is the basis for every important piece of equipment-!”

“That we have! Dammit, Bones, do you know what you’ve done? Now the whole percentage is upset, and in a few years, the Iotians may demand a piece of our action!”

Spock blinked, and McCoy rolled his eyes.

“Dammit, Jim, will you cut it out with the gangster act?”

“Hell no, it’s fun!”

Spock was unsure if that was true or not, but some hours later, Jim had dropped the act, sheepishly explaining that he had once again referred to Alice as “babydoll” and received a withering look and a very stern “no.”

He could not deny that he found Alice’s power over her father to be somewhat amusing.

 


 

2260.198

When Spock had collapsed on the bridge after the death of the Intrepid crew, Jim had been worried, because one, he cared about Spock, two, Alice had also collapsed and was brought to sickbay by Lt. Farrows, and three, it precipitated an event wherein he nearly lost his XO/best friend/guy he was madly in love with.

So when Spock suddenly halted in the middle of handing a PADD to Jim and let it drop to the floor, a look of pure shock on his face, Jim was more than a little concerned.

“Spock?” He started softly, getting out of his chair. “Spock, are you alright?”

“I...” Something flashed in Spock’s eyes- actually, several things. Hurt, shock, even some anger, but mostly... grief. Grief and regret.

Jim’s heart hurt to see it.

“Spock, what’s the matter?”

Spock’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed, becoming stone-faced as he folded his hands behind his back.

“It... it seems that there is... there is something I must attend to, sir. I request to be excused from the remainder of Alpha shift. I will take Beta shift to make up for it.”

Jim quirked an eyebrow.

“Uh... may I ask why you suddenly need to leave the bridge?”

Spock’s posture was somehow even straighter than usual, and Jim could literally see the tension in his shoulders.

“It... it is a family matter, Captain. I would prefer not to discuss it at this time.”

Jim blinked, then felt his expression soften.

“Well... alright, Spock, but if you need someone to talk-!”

“Thank you, sir,” Spock stated quickly before all but sprinting out of the bridge.

Jim blinked, then frowned, sitting back in his chair and leaning back.

Weird. The only other time he’d seen Spock run off in the middle of a shift like that was back when he’d been embarrassed and overstimulated, and even then there’d been signs something was wrong before he flipped out. Spock had seemed perfectly fine up until just a minute ago, and with that look in his eyes...

Well. Suffice to say, the mystery of Spock’s abrupt change in behavior was on Jim’s mind all through the rest of Alpha shift. By the time it was over, he was still puzzled, nearly running straight into Spock.

“Oh, uh, sorry, Spock.”

“It is of no consequence, sir.” Spock didn’t look any different at first glance, but upon closer inspection, Jim could’ve sworn that his eyes were rimmed with green, as if...

As if he’d been crying.

Which was, well, weird in and of itself, but it was also something that Jim, being as crazy about Spock as he was, couldn’t just dismiss.

“Hey, Spock, um, are you ok-?”

“I apologize, Captain, but I must be getting to my station,” Spock interrupted breezily as he walked past Jim. Jim stared after him for a moment, a demand for an explanation stuck in his throat, but eventually he swallowed it down, turning and walking into the turbolift.

He’d been concerned before, but now he was getting really worried. He’d only ever seen Spock cry twice- once because of the polywater thing, and once when Jim...

He grimaced. Well. If something really had made Spock cry, then it must have been serious.

He’d have to get the truth out of him later. Beta would be over before dinner, so he’d probably see him in the mess hall.

He’d get the truth out of him then.

 


 

“Daddy?”

“Hm?”

“Daddy. Daddy, I’m hungry.”

“Hi, hungry, I’m Dad-!”

“Daddy. You said it’s rude to eat before everyone else gets their food, so go get your food!”

Jim blinked, looking over at his daughter, who was sitting with a plate of spaghetti in front of her and looking rather cross with him. He grinned sheepishly, getting up and going to get some food from the replicator while keeping his eyes on the door to the mess hall.

Spock should have been there by now. He always showed up for dinner at 1800 hours and ate with Jim and Alice, and their friends whenever they had the same shift.

It was now 1817 hours, and no Spock. Something was definitely going on with him.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Alice asked as Jim sat back down.

“Eh? Oh, uh... well...” Jim flushed a little, rubbing the back of his neck. “You, uh... you haven’t seen Spock today, have you?”

Alice arched an eyebrow in a truly Spock-like fashion.

“Don’t you know where Mr. Spock is?”

“Huh? Why would I know that?”

“Because you always know where he is. Pavel made a game about it, whoever gets you or Mr. Spock to say that the other is doing something embarrassing wins the round and everyone has to give them five credits.” Alice grinned. “I’ve won eight times!”

“Wh- Okay, one, where did you even get the money to enter a pool?”

“Birthday money.”

“You kept that?”

“I’m seven and I live on a starship, I don’t have to buy anything.”

“Huh. Well, okay, but two... wait, how many rounds have there been of this game?”

“Ten.”

Jim blinked, then quirked an eyebrow.

“Alice, have you been swindling my officers out of their money?”

Alice pursed her lips, looking a little too innocent.

“It’s not so much swindling as it is using their assumptions about my age and general demeanor to my advantage, Daddy.”

“Wh- okay, from now on, don’t take any advice from Chekov, you got it?”

“Aw... do we still get to do the game?”

“No.”

“Darn. But anyway, I haven’t seen Mr. Spock since breakfast.” Alice quirked an eyebrow. “Why? Did you do something to make him mad?”

“Wh-! No! Why would it be my fault?”

“Well, it’s either you, me, or Uncle Bones, and he’s been busy curing the Andorian flu outbreak all day.” She took a bite of her spaghetti, then swallowed. “Making him mad isn’t a very good way to make him like you, Daddy.”

Jim groaned, covering his face with his hands as his ears began to burn.

“Not this again...”

Ever since Jim had finally admitted to his daughter that he had feelings for Spock, and learned that she did in fact know the whole time, she’d been bugging him about asking Spock out already. He’d tried to explain to her that Spock didn’t return his feelings, but she kept insisting that he needed to try anyway, because he couldn’t know that for sure.

And, well, Jim hadn’t wanted to explain the whole pon farr thing, since that would inevitably lead to the Talk, and Jim so wasn’t ready to go there yet.

“Look, I... whatever he’s upset about, it doesn’t have anything to do with me. All I know is that he randomly dropped a PADD, asked to be excused from shift early because of some family thing, and then ran off and now he won’t talk to me.”

And also he kinda looked like he’d been crying, but he figured that was not a thing to tell Alice, who would probably track Spock down and try to hug him.

Even if Spock looked like he needed a hug.

“Hm...” Alice took another bite of her dinner, then swallowed. “Well... why don’t you just ask him?”

“I tried. He won’t talk to me, remember?”

“Did you try to talk to him at shift change?”

“Yeah, why?”

“That’s why. He probably wanted to get to work. You should talk to him when he’s off duty for the night. That way, he won’t have anything else to do.”

Jim blinked, then grinned at his daughter.

“When did you get so smart?”

“I’ve always been smart, Daddy. Now eat your dinner before it gets cold.”

“Yes, Mom.”

 


 

As it turned out, it was a lot harder to catch Spock while he was off-duty than Jim had expected. An ensign in the science labs confirmed that he’d come down there after dinner time, but he hadn’t told anyone where he was going. Jim had asked everyone he could think of if they’d seen him, but it was always the same answer. He’d even tried Spock’s comm in a moment of desperate frustration, but it seemed that his first officer had turned the damn thing off.

Jim had run out of ideas, and quite frankly he was on the verge of tearing his hair out.

Then suddenly, clarity struck him, as if out of nowhere. He wasn’t sure how he knew, but... Spock was in his quarters. He was almost definitely in his quarters, which, while he’d ponder how he knew that later, was probably one of the first places Jim should have checked.

Spock didn’t react when he buzzed the door the first time. Nor did he the second time, and there was no request for identification to signal that he’d even heard the buzzes.

Normally, this was where Jim would have assumed that his first officer was meditating or something and left him be, but he’d been looking for the guy for like two hours now and he was more than a little frustrated with him.

So he tried a third time. Then a fourth. Then he gave up on the buzzer and started knocking.

“Spock? Spock, it’s me. I know you’re in there, I need to talk to you.”

Silence.

“Spock, I don’t wanna use my captain’s override, but I’m worried about you, so if that’s what it takes-!”

The door finally opened, revealing a nearly normal-looking Spock.

Normal, save for the same green rim around his eyes and the slight green tint to his nose.

He’d been crying again, Jim realized as his heart sank.

“Captain. What is so urgent that you have come to my quarters this late, pray tell?”

“Late- dude, it’s only like, eight o’clock, even Alice’s bed time isn’t for like, an hour and a half. And I’m here because I’m worried about you, Spock.”

For a split second, Jim thought he saw Spock’s cheeks turn as green as his nose.

“I... that is unnecessary, sir-!”

“Oh, don’t you sir me, Spock, we’re off duty and I’m not speaking to you as your captain, I’m speaking to you as your friend.” He gestured to the inside of Spock’s quarters. “Can I come in?”

After a moment, Spock moved to the side, allowing Jim to walk into his quarters. As always, it was much warmer in there than it was in the rest of the ship, but this time things were slightly less... tidy. The bed wasn’t perfectly made, for example, and there were old books and some papers scattered around the room.

“What is it that you wish to discuss, Jim?”

“Well, you could start by telling me what you needed to do in the middle of Alpha shift today.”

Spock shifted, not looking Jim in the eye.

“I... I do not wish to concern you with-!”

“Spock, we’re friends, aren’t we?”

Spock blinked, glancing at Jim with surprise in his eyes.

“I consider you to be a close friend, yes.”

“Well, the thing about friends is, they tell each other stuff, especially when it comes to personal stuff, and you said it was a family matter.”

Spock looked away again.

“There... there has been a change, yes, but I do not think that telling you will-!”

“It might help if you talked about it, at least.”

“I have discussed this with both my sister and my mother, as well as the Ambassador.”

“Spock, c’mon, I... I just want to help you. Please?”

Spock looked almost guilty for a second before he swallowed.

“That... that is impossible.”

“You can’t know that for sure-!”

“Jim. I know for certain that for all your talents, you cannot bring back the dead.”

Jim blinked.

“The... the dead? Spock, what happened? Who... who died? You said you talked to your mom and Michael, and the Ambassador too, so who else is there?”

“There is no one anymore, but... before today, there was my brother.”

Jim blinked once more, then felt his heart sink.

“Your... your brother? Sybok?”

“That is correct. The incident on the bridge during Alpha shift was a reaction to the fraternal bond between my brother and I breaking. I have conferred with my mother and sister, and they both have confirmed they felt their own bonds with him break as well. Since they all broke at the same time, I am certain that my brother has passed, since that is the only way for more than one bond breaking at one time to occur.”

“I... Spock, I’m so sorry...”

“There is nothing to apologize for, Jim. You are not the cause of his death, and furthermore, I have not spoken to my brother since I was thirteen years of age. While the breaking of a fraternal bond is often painful, especially when it is not expected, as I am a Vulcan, I do not feel sadness at his passing. Vulcans do not fear death as Humans do, in any case, as it is illogical to fear the completion of a journey.”

“Spock... Spock, you can’t tell me that you feel nothing about your brother dying.”

“Vulcans-!”

“I’m not talking about Vulcans, I’m talking about you! I know that you feel pain and grief, because you’ve been crying!”

Spock flushed a bit, though whether it was from anger or embarrassment, Jim couldn’t tell.

“Vulcans do not cry, Jim.”

“Bullshit they don’t, I’ve raised a Vulcan for nearly seven years at this point! And I know you can cry, Spock, because I saw the tears streaming down your face while I was-!”

“Stop!”

Jim’s words died in his throat at the look on Spock’s face. His brow was furrowed, both anger and grief in those brown eyes of his, and a wave of guilt hit Jim hard.

“I... Spock, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-!”

“Captain, I respectfully request that you vacate my quarters.”

Back to captain and a completely even tone. Jim was in big trouble now.

“Spock, I-!”

“Leave. Now.”

Jim wanted to protest, but Spock looked like he was about ten seconds away from picking Jim up and physically tossing him out of his quarters. He swallowed, bowing his head slightly as he silently walked out of Spock’s quarters, the door shutting behind him just before a total lockdown was initiated.

So much for helping Spock. He wouldn’t blame the guy if he didn’t talk to Jim for a week.

Hell, Jim would be lucky if he didn’t request a transfer or something.

God, he was an idiot.

 


 

“Hey, Spock! Spock, look at this!”

Spock blinked, looking up from the PADD he’d brought along with him to the beach. Sybok was grinning from ear to ear, and there was a washed up tangle of ocean plants on his head.

“I’m a seeeeeaaaa haaaaaaaaag, ooooooooh...”

“You are an eleven-year-old Vulcan male, sa-kai. Also, I do not believe Mother will be pleased if she finds you with seaweed on your head again.”

His brother frowned, taking the mass of plants off his head and holding it in his arms.

“You’re seriously reading right now? We’re at the beach! The beach, Spock!”

“I am aware of where we are. I see no reason to frolick as you are.”

“Uh, because you’re a five-year-old kid?”

“I am Vulcan. Frolicking is illogical.”

Sybok groaned dramatically, turning around and flinging the seaweed back into the ocean before stalking back over to the blanket Spock was sitting on and rooting around in the bag he’d brought.

“What are you doing?”

“It’s something my mother and I used to do,” Sybok explained as he pulled out a small glass bottle, a pen, and a sheet of paper. He tore a strip off the top of the paper, then started to write something down. “She told me that if you write down a wish on a sheet of paper, then put that wish in a bottle and throw it into the sea, your wish will come true.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“Why would throwing a bottle into the sea make a wish come true?”

“Well, because you asked the sea.”

“The sea is not a conscious being, and therefore cannot grant wishes. That would be illogical.”

“You’re illogical.”

Spock bristled.

“There is no reason to insult me, sa-kai.”

Sybok stuck out his tongue at him, then pulled out another bottle.

“Just try it, okay? It’s fun, and maybe your wish will come true!”

Spock pursed his lips, then sighed, tearing off another strip of paper and writing down a “wish” before rolling it up and sticking it in the bottle. Sybok grinned, then declared he would race him to the shoreline, which, since Sybok was six years older and much taller than Spock, he won easily. He instructed Spock to wade into the water until he was up to his hips before he put the bottle in the water, which Spock did. They quietly watched the bottles float away as the sun began to set on the ocean in front of them.

After a moment, Spock cleared his throat.

“Since it will not come true-!”

“Aw, come on, Spock, you don’t know that-!”

“The ocean cannot grant wishes, sa-kai. Since that is the case, there is no harm in my telling you what I wished for-!”

“Nope!” Sybok declared, covering his ears. “No way, not listening, lalalala!”

“Sybok, it is illogical to-!”

“If you tell me, it won’t come true-!”

“I asked for you to remain my brother forever!”

Sybok blinked, turning to look at Spock. He blushed, turning his gaze to the distorted view of his own feet in the water.

“I... since it is illogical to wish for something that has no chance of being fulfilled, I wished for something that... that logically will always be true-!”

His brother sniffed, then dove forward, pulling Spock into a hug.

“I love you too, sa-kai!”

“S... Sybok, we are Vulcans, such affection in public is- is unseemly and illogical-!”

A large wave crashed overhead, and suddenly Spock was no longer in the water with his brother. Instead, he was on the shore, watching as his brother was swept out to sea. His head was just barely bobbing up above water, and Spock began to run.

“Sybok!”

No matter how many steps he took, he never seemed to reach the ocean. The sand stretched farther and farther out in front of him, and Sybok was getting farther and farther away, disappearing into the distance... his head was no longer fully above water now, just the top of his head and his hands, splashing and struggling to get out...

“Sybok! Sa-kai, sa-kai-!”

“T’kona!”

Spock turned, his eyes widening when he saw another version of himself, years older and enraged, standing at his side.

“You are nothing but a traitor,” the other him snarled, hands clenched at his sides, “and you are no longer my brother. Leave this place, and never return!”

“No!” Spock yelled. He was no longer a child, now, but his own age, and he was still running, still trying to get to the sea and save his brother. “No, I did not-! I did not mean that!”

Sybok’s head had disappeared below the waves, his hand the only part of him above water. Even that was slowly sinking into the sea, going eerily still and limp.

“Come back! Sybok, please, come back-!”

Spock sprang upright in his bed, gasping for air as if he was the one who had been drowning. His eyes were burning, stinging as they had earlier, even as he had tried to keep himself from crying over this.

Death was not to be feared. Death was the completion of a life’s journey, it was not... it was un-Vulcan to feel...

He grimaced, then got out of bed, locating a jacket and his boots.

He needed to take a walk. His head would be more clear after a walk.

 


 

2260.199

Jim wasn’t entirely certain why he was out of bed at 0336 hours. He didn’t need to be awake, or even out of bed, for almost five hours, but... for some reason, he just couldn’t sleep.

Which was why he was walking around the ship in the middle of the night. Because that made sense to his sleep-deprived brain.

He yawned as he walked onto the observation deck, nearly jumping out of his skin when he saw that he wasn’t alone.

“Spock? What are you doing up?”

Spock flinched, though he didn’t turn away from the window.

“I was...” Spock sounded oddly hoarse, and the tips of his ears were green. “I found myself unable to sleep, sir.”

“Jim, it’s four in the goddamn morning, Spock.” Jim yawned as he walked over to one of the replicators to get some coffee. “And well, as you can see, you’re not the only one here who can’t sleep.”

“I do not believe consuming caffeine at this hour will help your insomnia, Jim.”

“Probably not, but I get the feeling I’m not gonna get back to sleep any time soon.”

Spock didn’t reply to that. In fact, he didn’t speak at all for a good two minutes, which was as long as it took Jim to get a cup of the universe’s shittiest coffee and sit down at a nearby table.

Jim took a small sip of it, grimaced, then hesitated, sighing after a moment.

“Look, I’m... I’m sorry about earlier, Spock.”

“... To what are you referring?”

Jim blinked, quirking an eyebrow.

“Uh, the part where you told me that your brother died, I insisted that you were more upset than you were letting on, I said- or, well, almost said- something unnecessarily hurtful, then you threw me out of your quarters?” Jim sighed again. “I’m sorry, I... I shouldn’t have said anything. He was your brother, not mine, and I don’t get to dictate the way that you... mourn him...”

Jim trailed off when he noticed how Spock’s shoulders were shaking slightly.

“Hey, are... are you okay?”

“I-!” Spock’s voice cracked, and it was suddenly a lot rougher than it had been. “I am... I...”

Jim got up from the table, walking over to Spock and putting a hand on his shoulder. Spock turned to him, and while part of him was unsurprised to see the tears flowing down his cheeks, his heart still ached at the sight.

“Spock, hey, what’s wrong? Why... why are you crying?”

Spock swallowed thickly, taking a shallow, shuddery breath as he looked down at his hands. Jim noticed for the first time that he was clutching a partially crumpled strip of paper that had something scrawled on it in Vulcan.

“I... when... when I was a very young child, the... the first holiday where Sybok was a part of our family, we... we went to the shore of the Voroth Sea. I was five, he was eleven, and Michael was thirteen, and... he told me about something he used to do with his mother when they went to the sea. They... they would write something they wanted on a piece of paper, then put those wishes in bottles and... and let the sea wash those wishes away.” He sniffed, wiping at his eyes. “S... Supposedly, those wishes would be granted by the sea, or... that was what he told me when he did the same thing with me.”

“Spock...”

“After... after Sybok was banished from our planet, the next holiday I had, I asked for my mother to take me back to the sea. I... it was illogical, but I... I wrote down something I wanted and let the bottle drift out to sea once more, because...”

Tears were still flowing down Spock’s cheeks, dripping onto the paper and making the ink run. Jim wished he could hug him without it making things worse.

“I... I wished that... that my brother would return, because I... the last words I said to him were said in anger. I... I meant them in that moment, but once they were said, I... I regretted them. I still do.” Spock’s face contorted with grief. “And now... now I can never take them back. He died believing that I... that I hated him...”

“Spock... Spock, I’m sure he didn’t think that.”

“Jim, the... the last time we spoke, I... I told Sybok that he was no longer my brother, that he was nothing but a traitor and he should leave Vulcan and never return... I had been so angry with him, I could not... could not control my emotions, my words... and I have never been able to forget the look on his face. My brother was an emotional being, but I had... I had never seen him look so hurt before.”

“Spock...”

“I... I had always thought that... that there would be a day we would meet again. That I would still have a chance to... to take it back, to tell him I did not mean it, but I... I will never have that opportunity. I will... I will never have a brother again.”

Jim swallowed, his own throat tight and his eyes stinging with unshed tears.

“It’s... it’s okay, Spock. It’s okay to grieve, to... to regret things you’ve said. It’s okay to be upset about the death of someone you loved.”

“V... Vulcans do not... we do not fear death as Humans do. It... it is the completion of a journey, not... it is not something to be saddened over.”

Jim smiled gently.

“Well... then just this once, let your Humanity come to the forefront. Because I think that’s the part of you that needs to let this out. I promise, I won’t tell anyone.”

Spock looked at him for a moment before his face finally started to contort with grief and regret, the paper in his hands fluttering to the floor as he covered his face and began to sob in earnest. Jim stood by him through it all, never once moving his hand from Spock’s shoulder.

And if Jim’s own face became wet in the process, well.

No one needed to know that, did they?

Chapter Text

2260.213

Jim had to admit, it was a little hard to be mad about the whole M-5 thing when the creator of the computer was so damn nice.

Although with the way that Spock and Daystrom were getting along, he also had to admit that he might be getting a little bit... jealous.

He could see the appeal, of course- there were few men alive that were actually taller than Spock, and fewer still were Humans. Those broad shoulders didn’t hurt matters, and the guy could easily keep up with Spock’s questions about the M-5.

Which, y’know. Jim totally could’ve done.

Maybe not about the computer, but they’d had plenty of interesting intellectual discussions before, right?

But he totally wasn’t sulking about it. No way.

So what if Spock had a little crush on Daystrom? It wasn’t like Jim had any right to object to... to him liking another guy.

He was kinda glad that Alice wasn’t here to see this, though. She’d definitely object to Spock flirting with someone who wasn’t her dad, and then the cat would be out of the bag and everything would be ruined.

Okay, so maybe ruined was an exaggeration, but it would be awkward as fuck.

“Did you see the love light in Spock’s eyes?”

Jim blinked as he walked out of the Engineering bay, looking over at Bones.

“Eh?”

“Looks like the right computer finally came along, huh?”

Or the right guy.

Jim swallowed, not looking at Bones anymore.

“What’s the matter, Jim? You’re not really jealous of a bunch of wires and circuit boards, are ya?”

Jim’s ears started to burn as he leveled a withering look at his friend.

“No, of course not.”

“Really? Cause I gotta say, you’re looking a little green over there.”

“Oh, shut up, it’s... it’s not about Spock.” Not completely, anyway. “I just... I think that thing in there is wrong, and I can’t... I’m not sure why.”

“Well, yeah, I think it’s wrong too,” Bones started as they headed for the lift, “replacing men with mindless machines.”

“No, not like that, I... I’m kinda getting, like, a red alert back here,” Jim explained, pointing to the back of his head. “That thing is dangerous. I feel... I know that only a fool stands in the way of progress, but I’m not sure this is progress. You have my psych profiles, am I afraid of losing my job to that computer?”

“We’ve all seen the advances of mechanization, kid. And Daystrom did design the computer to run this ship.”

“Yeah, but under Human control.”

Bones sighed, shaking his head.

“We’re all sorry for the other guy when he loses his job to a machine, but when it comes to your job, it’s different, and it always will be.”

“Well... am I afraid of losing command to a computer? I mean, Daystrom was right, I can do lots of other stuff. I’m a pretty good engineer, and I could probably teach at the Academy or something if I had to. Am I just afraid of losing the power and prestige and-?”

“And the hobgoblin? I saw that look on your face when he was talking to Daystrom, Jim, and that’s what we in the medical profession like to call ‘jealousy.’”

Jim flushed, crossing his arms as they got into the lift.

“I... Spock can date whoever he wants, Bones, he’s not my boyfriend.”

“Yeah, cause you’re still too chickenshit to ask him out already. And if you don’t act fast? You’re gonna lose him.”

Jim groaned, leaning back as the lift stopped at the medbay.

“What am I even supposed to say?”

Bones chuckled as he got out.

“Why don’t you ask James T. Kirk? He’s a pretty smart guy.”

The doors closed before Jim could respond to that.

 


 

Spock had noticed something he found odd about Jim. Ever since Dr. Daystrom had come aboard, the captain had become irritable, defensive, and overall was rather hostile to Daystrom and seemed unhappy about the M-5’s presence on the ship.

He was uncertain as to why, though. There had been nothing he’d observed in Daystrom and Jim’s interactions that would have justified this change in behavior on Jim’s part, and the M-5 was a revolutionary, brilliant example of computer programming and artificial intelligence.

Yet Jim was still unhappy.

“My orders are subject to my interpretation as to how long the M-5 is in control, and I’ll run the ship in my own way if you don’t mind, Dr. Daystrom.”

Daystrom did seem to mind, but still smiled apologetically before turning back to the console. Spock pursed his lips momentarily, then stood, walking over to Jim’s side.

“Captain, I am forced to agree with Dr. Daystrom-!”

Jim snorted.

“Yeah, sure, forced.”

Spock blinked, arching an eyebrow.

“Please clarify your meaning, sir.”

Jim looked over at Spock with what he assumed was meant to be a wry smile, but instead seemed a bit... crestfallen.

“C’mon, Spock, you’re... you’re being a little obvious, don’t you think?”

Spock’s heartbeat fluttered, his stomach twisting as he fought back a flush.

There was... had Jim discovered Spock’s true feelings towards him? How could he have discerned it? Surely Spock had never been that obvious...

“... About what, Captain?”

“Uh, the little crush you’ve got on Dr. Daystrom?”

He blinked once more before relief and disappointment both flowed through him.

“A... crush, sir?”

“Y’know, an infatuation. Look, I get it, he’s... he’s good-looking and smart and can keep up with your technobabble even better than I... well. I get why you’d be into him, really. But you don’t have to take his side on everything.”

“Captain, I have known Dr. Daystrom personally for only three point one seven hours. That is not nearly enough time for a romantic bond of any sort to be formed-!”

“I’m not talking about getting married or anything, Spock. You’ve got the hots for the guy, that’s all.”

The tips of Spock’s ears began to burn- thanks to Michael, he was already well aware of what “the hots” meant, and well... the term applied much more accurately to his feelings for Jim.

“I assure you, sir, you are mistaken. I find Dr. Daystrom to be a brilliant scientist, yes, but I do not hold any sort of romantic regard for him.”

“What? Why not?”

Spock cleared his throat, fighting back another flush.

“Several reasons, chief among them being that... that I already hold a romantic regard for someone else.”

He was unsure if he truly wanted Jim to understand the true meaning of that or not. Well, he did, but only if... only if there was a chance that he would reciprocate.

Which he was still unsure that he would, despite Michael’s claims that he did.

Whatever the case, Jim didn’t seem to catch his meaning, and he actually began frowning at that point.

“Oh, uh... is... is it someone I know?”

“Yes. Quite well. It... it is someone you see every day, and are... are quite close to.”

Jim blinked, then looked entirely shocked.

“W... Wait, Spock, do you... please don’t tell me you’ve got a thing for Bones of all people!”

Spock blinked.

“D... Dr. McCoy?”

“Spock, listen, I know he’s a handsome guy and actually kind of a sweetheart when you get to know him, but trust me, I’ve asked and he’s about as straight as they come.”

Spock’s lips quirked upward involuntarily.

“While I am curious as to the nature of that inquiry, you are mistaken. I do not hold any romantic regard for Dr. McCoy.”

Jim blinked once more, then looked immensely relieved.

“Oh, thank god, that would have been so awkward.” He blinked once more. “Wait, if it’s not Bones, then who-?”

“Captain, I believe this would be a conversation best saved for later.” Much later. Possibly never. “My agreement with Dr. Daystrom comes from the fact that with the course information plotted into it, his computer could have brought us here as easily as the navigator. In fact, it might have been a further demonstration of M-5’s capabilities.”

Jim deflated slightly, sighing and shaking his head.

“You seem to enjoy trusting yourself to the computer, Mr. Spock.”

“Enjoy, Captain? No. I’m merely gratified to see Dr. Daystrom’s new unit execute everything required of it in such a highly efficient manner. It is another distinguished triumph for his career.”

Jim scoffed, and Spock thought he heard him mutter something about not being convinced that Spock did not have feelings for Daystrom. Before Spock could further refute that- and possibly say things he could not ever take back- Chekov informed them that they were approaching their destination. At first, Jim tried to make landing party recommendations, but Daystrom insisted that they at least look at M-5’s recommendations, which were almost the same as Jim’s save for a differing member and the fact that Jim and Dr. McCoy were not recommended.

He was not fond of the way Jim’s face fell when the computer announced that he was not needed.

However, the machine’s choices were flawlessly logical, and he could not fault the machine for drawing power from unnecessary sectors.

But when he saw the look on Jim’s face when the machine performed perfectly in the mock attack, he was unable to claim he was satisfied with the progress of this experiment.

“Evaluation of M-5 performance, it’ll be necessary for the log,” Jim muttered.

“The ship reacted more rapidly than any Human control ever could. Tactics, deployment of weapons all indicate an immense sophistication in computer control.”

Jim chuckled dryly.

“Machine over man, Spock? It was impressive, yeah. Might even be more practical than having a Human in charge, huh?”

Spock could no longer stand to see Jim depressed like this.

“Practical, Captain? Perhaps. But not desirable.”

Jim blinked, both of his eyebrows rising.

“Computers make excellent and efficient servants, but I have no wish to serve under them. Captain, a starship also runs on loyalty to one man, and nothing can replace it or him.”

Jim blinked, then slowly started to smile, and in that moment, Spock was tempted to throw caution to the wind and finally confess everything, to confess that he would follow Jim wherever he went, consequences be damned, because he-!

“Captain, message now coming in from Commodore Wesley.”

Spock held his tongue once more as the captain took the message, and he knew the moment had most certainly passed once Wesley referred to Jim as “Captain Dunsel.”

Had he not been more controlled, Spock may have attempted to contact Wesley once more and inform him, in detail, why James T. Kirk was as far from a “useless part” as possible.

He also would have called the commodore some choice expletives that would certainly get him court martialed.

He cared less about that possibility, so long as it would have made his t’hy’la feel better. He never wanted to see such a look of resignation on Jim’s face ever again.

The M-5 may have been more efficient, yes, but any machine that made Jim look like that was not a machine he wanted on board the Enterprise.

 


 

“Soooo...” Jim started as he sidled up to Spock on the observation deck. “Wild day, huh?”

“Considering that the M-5 caused both the deaths of an entire starship and the breakdown of Dr. Daystrom, I would indeed say that this day has been quite wild.”

Jim laughed, shaking his head.

“You shoulda seen the look on Bones’ face when you told him that watching a computer with his memory as a base would have been entertaining to watch because of how illogical it would be. I seriously thought he was gonna pop!”

“I did not know that an overflow of anger- or any emotion- could allow Humans to explode.”

Jim laughed again.

“Oh, you know what I mean.”

Spock’s lips twitched upward.

“Perhaps.”

They were both silent for a moment, watching the stars go by.

“... Hey, Spock?”

“Yes, Jim?”

“... Thanks. For, uh, for what you said on the bridge earlier. About... about how you’d prefer to serve under me than under a computer.”

“You do not have to thank me, Jim. I was simply stating the truth.”

“Well... it’s still what I needed to hear right then, y’know? I have to admit, this whole M-5 thing kinda got me down. I’m just glad we left Alice over on the Starbase, cause I don’t think she’d have taken that ‘Dunsel’ thing lying down.”

“She is aware of the meaning?”

“Course she is, she practically learned to read through my Academy homework. How now, brown cow, I am Sam, Sam I am, as late as the 2150’s the warp five engine was still known as the gravimetric field displacement manifold, et cetera, et cetera.”

Spock’s lips quirked upward again.

“Unconventional methods to say the least.”

“Yeah. Y’know, she gave me the idea of disabling the Klingons in your test.”

Spock blinked, arching an eyebrow.

“Well, she was there when me and Gaila- oh, don’t look at me like that, she admitted that she was involved and she’d happily tell you now- she was there when we were brainstorming, and she suggested that we feed a tribble, beam it over to the ship, and wait.”

“Is that not the solution that she and Mr. Scott came up with when our own ship was infested with tribbles?”

“Minus the food thing. She was pretty damn smug about how her idea worked, y’know. Honestly, it was a good idea, but I couldn’t use it because I wasn’t sure how to explain where I got the tribble. I wanted it to be a little more subtle than that, so I’d have the best chance of beating the test.”

Spock hummed, turning back to the stars. Jim frowned.

“Hey... you’re not still angry about that mess, are you?”

“It has been over two years since it happened, Jim. You and I are not the same people we were then, and I did not know you as I do now. It would be illogical to still be upset about the Kobayashi Maru, especially since that version of the test is no longer being run.”

“What, cause I cracked it?”

“Yes. I believe they used the data from your hacking to ward off any other students who had a similar idea to you.”

“Eh, I’d figure it out again. Maybe I’d use the tribble idea this time.”

“You are a captain, why would you retake the-”

“Kidding, Spock.” Jim paused, a thought occurring to him. “Hey... not to change the subject, but you never did tell me who it is that you like.”

Spock made a tiny strangled noise, his ears turning bright green.

“I-! I do not see how that is-!”

“Oh, come on, Spock, friends dish to each other about their crushes all the time.” Even if one friend was stupidly, hopelessly in love with the friend who was crushing on someone else and it hurt like crazy to know it. “Spill. Is it... Sulu? He’s married, y’know, and I think Demora might not be into her daddy being in love with anyone other than her papa.”

“It is not Sulu.”

“... Chekov? He’s a little young, dude.”

“It is not Chekov either.”

“Hm... M’Benga? He does know a lot of stuff about Vulcans.”

“It is not M’Benga, and I would prefer not to-!”

“Scotty?”

“No, and-!”

“It’s not Keenser, is it? I don’t even know how that would work-!”

“Jim, it does not matter who it is!” Spock finally shouted. Jim leaned back, his eyebrows rising as he stared at Spock, who promptly turned bright green and looked away.

“Spock...?”

“It... It does not matter who the object of my... my affections is, Jim, because... he does not return my regard for him. Not in that way.”

Jim blinked, then felt his own heart start to sink.

“What? But... Spock, are you sure?”

“Yes. I am positive that he does not... that he would never feel the way I do about him. As such, I... I do not plan to ever tell him the truth. I am content to... to be his friend.”

Well. Now Jim felt like an asshole for bringing it up at all.

“Spock...” He sighed, turning to the window again. They stood in silence for a moment. “... well, whoever he is, he must be a real dumbass if he doesn’t see how great you are.”

He could’ve sworn he heard Spock snort.

“I must disagree with you there, Jim. He is... he is one of the greatest men I have ever met. I am gratified that we are as close as we are, even if... even if our relationship will never be what I wish it was.”

Jim bit his lip, unable to force himself to look at Spock.

“You’re pretty great too, y’know,” he muttered.

“Pardon?”

“I...” Jim swallowed, glancing at Spock out of the corner of his eye.

This was it. This was the perfect moment to tell him the truth. Tell him that he deserved to love and be loved by someone as wonderful as he was, but if... if he’d settle for Jim, then...

Then Jim would never forgive himself for holding Spock back. It would be selfish to ask this of him.

“Jim?”

“It’s... nothing, Spock,” Jim finally said as he turned away from the window, stretching as he started to walk towards the turbo lift. “Think I’ll turn in early tonight, yeah?”

“Very well. Goodnight, Jim.”

I love you! I love you! I love you! Please love me back, even though I don’t deserve you, even though you deserve better than a single dad with enough baggage to sink the Titanic!

“Night, Spock,” Jim said instead.

Some starship captain he was. He was still too much of a coward to be honest with his own XO.

 


 

2260.270

Everyone groaned as the ship stabilized. Jim’s head was throbbing as he sat up, wincing in pain.

“What the fuck was that all about?”

“Un... unclear as of yet, sir.” Spock frowned at his console. “It... it appears that we have been displaced by the irregularity in the warp sequence.”

“Well, where are we? Sulu?”

“Uh... I don’t know, sir. I’m... I’m not even sure when we are.”

“... Say what?”

“Well, either my chronometer’s gone kaput, or we’re currently at stardate 0000.00.”

“... Are you saying we’re at the dawn of time as we know it?”

“Well, I was, but now we’re at stardate 1316.117. It... it keeps changing.”

“Changing? How the hell-?”

“Captain, receiving a communication request from another ship.”

“What other ship?”

Nyota looked at her console, then shrugged.

“I... I can’t tell. Their comm number isn’t in my database.”

Jim frowned.

“... Patch them through, audio only.”

“Aye, sir. Patching through now.”

After a moment, there was a beep, signifying they’d made contact.

“This is Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise. Who’s this?”

“This is Captain Alura Jamison, and you can’t possibly be Captain Kirk of the USS Enterprise.”

Jim blinked.

“And why’s that?”

“Because James T. Kirk was promoted to Admiral ten years ago, and you can’t be on the Enterprise because I’m captain of the USS Enterprise-B.”

Jim blinked again, arching an eyebrow.

“I’m pretty sure I’d know if I was promoted to Admiral when I was seventeen, ma’am. And this vessel is only on year one of her five year mission, and only about two years old besides. It would be kinda weird if there were two other Enterprises already.”

“... Captain Kirk, what’s the stardate?”

“Last I checked? 2260.270.”

Jamison was silent on the other end.

“Hello?”

“Captain, Jamison’s requesting visual contact.”

“Uh... patch her through, I guess?”

Seconds later, the window in front of him changed to reveal a dark-skinned woman in an Command gold uniform sitting in a captain’s chair.

A captain’s chair that looked exactly like his.

Jim blinked, as did Jamison.

“Uh. What?”

“Huh. That’s... that’s unexpected.”

“Captain,” Spock started, “I am unable to locate their vessel, even though they must be in communications range.”

“Hold on one moment, Commodore Spock.”

Spock looked as confused as Jim felt for a split second as the screen cut out, though Jim was distracted seconds later when the space in front of their ship started to shimmer and get all wavy, slowly revealing... well, slowly revealing another Enterprise.

Only much, much bigger.

“Admiral Kirk, I think we’ve got some things to discuss.”

“Y... Yeah, I think you might be right about that...”

 


 

The first thing Jim noticed about the other Enterprise was that their beaming system was a lot better than theirs- the process was almost instantaneous, and somehow Scotty, who had been practically bouncing off the walls after he’d heard the words warp eleven, didn’t get all scrambled for beaming while moving.

The second thing was that their transporter room was way bigger than theirs and could probably have fit a lot more people in it at once.

He might have been a little jealous.

“Fascinating,” Spock murmured. “Their transporter system appears to be even more efficient than ours.”

“Yeah, well, I’m still not sure I buy that they’re from the future. Maybe it’s just... an alternate timeline, or something.”

The doors to the transporter room opened, revealing Jamison and a Caitian in science blues.

“Admiral Kirk, Commodore Spock. I see you’ve brought along Dr. McCoy, as well as Captains Uhura and Scott.”

“Captain?” Both Nyota and Scotty said at the same time. Nyota seemed pleased, and Scotty seemed more than a little distressed.

“Do not be alarmed, Captain Scott, there is a reason that your nickname is the ‘Captain of Engineering.’”

Scotty looked relieved, and Jim arched an eyebrow.

“Should you really be telling us this, Captain Jamison? I mean, if you’re really from the future, won’t us having these- these spoilers mess everything up?”

“So long as I don’t inform you of how you attain your ranks, nor the nature of our warp systems, I don’t think that we’ll be doing much harm here.”

“Aw... can I at least look at them?” Scotty asked.

Jamison’s lips quirked up.

“That will be up to our Chief Engineer, whom I’m sure you’ll find a convincing argument for us being from the future, Admiral. Ensign M’Ress, please inform her that we’ll be coming down, so don’t blow anything up in the next ten minutes.”

“Aye, ma’am,” M’Ress said before leaving the bay.

“Wait, that was an ensign? Where’s your first officer?”

“On the bridge.” Jamison quirked an eyebrow. “Generally, when the captain is occupied, it is the first officer’s job to take command, Admiral.”

Jim flushed, crossing his arms defensively.

“Y-Yeah, well, I... I prefer to have Spock around.”

Jamison’s lips quirked again.

“Yes, we’re all well aware of that, sir.” She turned away from them before he could question her. “Shall we? I believe all the proof you’ll need that I’m telling the truth is in the Engineering deck.”

Jim wasn’t totally sure he bought into her story, but he didn’t see the harm in going along with it, as she didn’t seem hostile just yet.

The ship was a lot bigger than their Enterprise, which was... a little unnerving, honestly. There was also a lot more diversity, species-wise- he wasn’t totally sure he recognized some of the species the people they passed by were.

However, he did recognize one species in particular- Vulcans. Lots and lots of Vulcans.

“Spock, I thought most Vulcans went into the Vulcan Science Academy,” Bones commented.

“In the past, yes, but if we truly are on a ship from the future, given that many Vulcans have joined Starfleet in the wake of Vulcan’s destruction and the slow rebuild of the VSA, it is logical that there would be more Vulcans in Starfleet in this time period.”

Jim snorted.

“You’re really buying into the whole future thing, huh?”

“I see no reason to doubt Captain Jamison so far, sir.”

“Yeah, well, I’m gonna see what evidence she has first before I make up my mind.”

Eventually, they did make it to the Engineering bay, wherein Jim noticed three more things.

One, it was again a lot bigger than his ship’s.

Two, there was 80’s music playing from somewhere, and it was loud.

And three, someone was singing along equally as loudly.

And really, really badly.

“All I know is that to me, you look like you’re lots of fun, open up your loving arms, watch out, here I come! You spin me right round, baby, right round, like a record baby, right round round round!”

“Is someone strangling a cat down there?” Scotty asked, wincing a bit.

“No, that would be our Chief Engineer,” Jamison explained before walking over to the ledge in front of them. “Lieutenant Commander?”

“I want your loooooOOOOoooooOOOove!”

“Lieutenant Commander.”

“I want your loooooOOOOOooooOOOoove! Bah dah, bah bah-!”

“Lieutenant Commander!” Jamison shouted. There was a yelp, followed by a crash and the music cutting off abruptly.

“I’m okay!” A woman called from down below. “What can I do you for, ma’am?”

“You can come up here, there are some people I’d like you to meet. Didn’t you get my message?”

“Uh...” A PADD beeped. “Oops. Sorry, I was kinda in the middle of cleaning up the last of last week’s ink monster incident.”

“It looked to me like you were dancing.”

“I can do both! Anyway, you sure you want me up there? I think I might have actually gotten ink up my-!”

“Now, Lieutenant Commander,” Jamison ordered, sounding exasperated yet fond.

“Okay, okay!” Jim could hear the sound of regulation boots on a metal ladder as Jamison moved away. “Y’know, ensigns probably wouldn’t call you Mom all the time if you weren’t so... authoritative...”

Jim’s eyes went wide when Jamison’s chief engineer popped her head up over the ledge, watching as she climbed up to the platform in silence.

In front of him was a young woman, maybe five foot four. Her Engineering red uniform was covered in ink stains, and her curly brown hair had been cut to chin length.

Oh, and she had big, blue eyes. Kirk blue eyes.

Plus, there was the whole thing about her having green skin and pointy ears, which were still a little big for her head.

Still. As if this was actually... there was just no way...

“Huh,” the woman said, tilting her head slightly. “I don’t get it.”

Okay, so it definitely was her.

“A... Alice,” Jim managed, his throat suddenly feeling tight. “Alice, buttercup, how are you...? How is this possible?”

Alice immediately turned bright green, giving him a look that he’d seen on his own mother more than once.

“Dad, I’m twenty-seven! Stop calling me that!”

“Twenty-se-! No, no, see, there’s no way that you’re twenty-seven, you know why? I’m twenty-seven! And also, I saw you like forty-five minutes ago, and you were seven years old!”

“Perhaps it is time to admit that we have, in fact, travelled in time, Captain,” Spock suggested.

“I-! This isn’t-! I mean, we’ve time-travelled before, but we’ve never gone-!” Jim finally threw his hands in the air. “Fine! Fine, fuck it, we’ve gone to the future, are you happy?”

“I am Vulcan. I do not feel happiness.”

Jim knew that he was just teasing him, but he glared at him anyway as the grown-up Alice scoffed.

“Ugh, no one buys that old nonsense anymore, Pa-!” She blinked, turning green again as her eyes went wide. “Uh, I mean...”

Jim quirked an eyebrow, as did Spock. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jamison glaring at her.

“That’s, uh... Pock! Mr. Pock!” Alice grinned nervously. “S-Sorry, uh, slip of the tongue.”

“... Alice, I have known you since you were four years of age. Never once have you referred to me as ‘Mr. Pock.’”

“Give me a break, I’m a little flustered here! I mean, it’s not every day that younger versions of my family walk into my Engineering bay!”

“Your Engineering bay?” Scotty asked. Alice gave him a cheesy grin, and Jim was pretty sure if she had any, she’d be pulling on her suspenders with her thumbs like an old-timey politician.

“Yup! You’re looking at Lieutenant Commander Alice Kirk, Starfleet’s youngest ever Chief Engineer... Dad. Dad, please stop crying.”

 


 

2280.270

“I can’t believe this,” Jim commented as he took another bite of his lasagna. “I can’t believe you’ve actually managed to make replicated food taste good.”

“Well, they’re not exactly standard issue,” Alice explained as she sat down across from him. “It took a lot of tinkering to get a replicator that made food that didn’t taste like crap. I did get a commendation from the brass for it, though. I think they’re gonna implement my design into new starships, too.”

Jim grinned at her, reaching over the table and ruffling her hair.

“That’s my girl.”

Alice gave him a look as she straightened her hair out.

“Dad. I’m twenty-seven.”

Jim laughed, although that, plus the fact that she wasn’t calling him ‘Daddy’ anymore, made his heart hurt.

“I know, but you’ll always be my little smarty-pants, Alice.”

She rolled her eyes, then sat up straight, looking a little tense as she cleared her throat.

Jim quirked an eyebrow.

“Something on your mind?”

“Well... I want to tell you something. From my point of view, I told you this a long time ago, but, well, I didn’t really get to tell you the way I wanted, and-!”

“Alice. Just tell me.”

Alice hesitated for a second, then took a deep breath.

“Dad... Dad, I’m gay.”

Jim blinked, then smiled a little.

“Hi, gay, I’m Dad. And also, pan.”

Alice blinked, then bristled, giving him a look.

“Dad, now is not the time for- wait, are... are you not surprised?”

“Not really.”

“But... but I’m seven from your point of view!”

“Buttercup, when you were three you told me you were gonna marry Nyota,” Jim explained before taking another bite of his lasagna. “I’m guessing I wasn’t too surprised when you told me at an older age, huh?”

Alice blushed, crossing her arms.

“Well, uh... that may have had less to do with my apparent crush on Nyota- which, by the way, I totally forgot about til now- and the fact that I stumbled over the word ‘lesbian’ three times before I finally just shouted ‘girls’ at the top of my lungs.”

Jim laughed, shaking his head.

“May I inquire as to what is so funny, Captain?” Spock asked as he sat down next to Jim.

“Oooooh, he called you Captain,” Alice sing-songed before Jim could reply. “You’re in trooooouuuubleeee...”

“I am?”

“Why would my usage of your father’s rank indicate that he is in trouble?”

Alice blinked, then blushed a little and cleared her throat.

“Oh, uh, right, you’re from the past, uh... forget I said anything. Anyway, Spock, I just came out to my dad again.” She gave Jim a look. “And he replied with a dad joke.”

Jim frowned, glancing at Spock before looking back at his daughter and jabbing a thumb in Spock’s direction.

“Uh, buttercup, you sure you want him to know too?”

“First, Dad, twenty-seven, stop calling me that, and two, from my point of view he’s known as long as you have. Besides, I already know he’s gay too.”

Jim blinked, his eyebrows rising up to his hairline.

“Wait, really?”

“When did I tell you that?” Spock asked.

Alice flinched, clearing her throat and tugging at her collar.

“Uh, well, you... you really didn’t have to, but you came out to me explicitly when I came out to you.”

“Huh. How old were you, anyway?”

“Seventeen. I’d been pretty sure for a year at that point, but I wasn’t really ready to be, y’know, out til then.” She smiled. “You guys were cool about it, though.”

“Course we were, we’re not exactly shining examples of heterosexuality ourselves,” Jim deadpanned before scooping up the last of his lasagna into his mouth.

Alice snorted.

“Yeah, no shit, Dad.”

Jim quirked an eyebrow.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Alice blinked, then flushed a little, stuttering uselessly for a good minute before abruptly standing up.

“Hey, uh, Dad! Why, why don’t I show you the bridge, huh? I-I think you’d really like it!”

Before Jim could protest, she’d grabbed him by the wrist and was pulling him along, leaving Spock alone at the table.

“What’s going on with you?” He asked as she dragged them to the turbo lift. “You’ve been acting weird about Spock all day.”

“Whaaat? No I, no I haven’t! Why would I be weird about Pa- S-Spock?”

Jim quirked his eyebrow again.

There it was again. That strange “pah” sound that she kept making in reference to Spock.

Why did she keep doing that? What was she always about to call him?

Before Jim could ask, they arrived on the bridge, much to Alice’s apparent relief.

“Welp, here we are! The bridge of the USS Enterprise-B! This is where the magic happens, according to Starfleet.” Alice shrugged. “Personally, I’d say the magic happens down in Engineering, but what do I know?”

Jim laughed, shaking his head.

“Oh, hey, there’s our first officer. You didn’t meet her yet, right?”

“Can’t say I have.”

Alice grinned, pulling him over to a console on the right of the captain’s chair and tapping a tall woman in Science blues on the back.

“Hey, you,” Alice greeted, her voice... oddly flirtatious. “Dad, this is our wonderful, amazing, perfect first officer, Commander Luka... ra... Dad?”

The second the woman at the console turned around, Jim’s heart stopped, a cold feeling spreading in his chest. The woman was tall, her dark hair curling around her face, although her hair line was high due to a certain feature.

That feature being her cranial ridges.

“Alice,” Jim started as evenly as he could, “Alice, why is there a Klingon on this ship?”

His daughter was looking at him like he’d sprouted a second head.

“Commander Lukara is the first officer of this vessel, as well as our chief science officer.”

“She’s a Klingon.”

“That I am,” Lukara finally said, her expression carefully neutral. “Is there a problem with that, Admiral Kirk?”

“Yeah, since Klingons are enemies of the Federation!”

“In your time period, yes,” Lukara responded, still irritatingly calm. “However, at this point in time, that has not been the case for-!”

Alice cleared her throat, giving the Klingon a pointed look.

“No spoilers, remember?”

“Ah, yes. My apologies. Still, I assure you, I am dedicated to the well-being of this ship,” Lukara paused for a moment, giving Alice a... strangely tender look, “and all of the officers aboard it.”

Alice smiled, the tips of her ears going green.

“Forgive me if I don’t believe you,” Jim replied coldly, crossing his arms. “And Alice, I would think you’d be a little more cautious around Klingons. You’ve seen what they can do.”

Alice blinked, then gave him a hard look.

“Dad, can I speak with you in private?”

Jim glared over at Lukara, who still had an utterly neutral expression on her face.

“Yeah. Yeah, I think we should.”

 


 

The last thing Spock had wished to do was walk in on an argument between Jim and the now-grown Alice.

Yet, when he’d gone to the conference room that Ensign M’Ress had told him she’d seen Jim and Alice walk into, that was exactly what happened.

Thankfully, neither party seemed to notice him, so he was able to remain unnoticed, but he almost would have preferred to have been noticed than to witness this shouting match.

“It’s been twenty goddamn years, Dad, can’t you at least acknowledge that maybe things are different?!”

“They can’t be that different! The Klingon Empire is full of warmongers and murderers, they have no business being part of the Federation!”

“Commander Lukara is a brilliant scientist and one of the best people I know, if she wasn’t part of Starfleet-!”

“She’s a barbarian just like the rest of her people, and I’ll bet you anything that she’s just lying in wait until one day, she takes over the ship and-!”

“Ikap’uh t’du ru’lut!” Alice shouted, her face contorted with rage. “I don’t care if you are my father, if you don’t stop talking about my adun’a like that, I’ll-!”

Spock froze, as did Alice, who seemed to suddenly realize what she’d said.

“What?” Jim asked, his voice softer but still sharp with anger. “What did you just say to me?”

“I told you to shut your mouth, something I don’t take back. You may be a captain, and you may be my father, but I will not allow you to slander the name of a good woman, one of the best I have ever known.” Alice’s hands were balled up in fists. “I may be only half-Vulcan, but I still will not allow you to slander my t’hy’la in this way!”

Spock’s heart stopped, unable to comprehend what he was hearing. It was not unheard of for a t’hy’la bond to form between women, though it was even rarer than in the case of men, but...

With a Klingon?

Alice seemed not to notice him as she stormed off, leaving the room in stunned silence.

“... Captain,” Spock finally stated after a moment. Jim jumped about six inches in the air, looking over at Spock with wide eyes.

“Wh- When did you get here?”

“Approximately two point seven minutes ago.”

“... So you saw all of that, huh?”

“I did not see the entire argument, but I did witness the end of it.”

Jim sighed, rubbing the back of his neck tiredly as he turned his gaze to the floor.

“... What did she say?”

“... The phrase ‘ikap’uh t’du ru’lut’ literally translates to ‘shut your mouth-!’”

“Not that. The... the ah-doon-ah thing.”

Spock swallowed, folding his hands behind his back and staring straight out into space.

“... the word adun’a is the feminine form of the word adun. It... it translates to ‘female spouse,’ or wife.”

Jim was utterly still for a moment, his eyes wide when he finally looked up at Spock.

“... Wife? She... she called the Klingon her wife?”

“Indeed, but that is not all.” Spock cleared his throat. “The... the other word she used to refer to Commander Lukara, t’hy’la... it is an ancient term, originating in pre-Reform Vulcan. It... it is difficult to translate accurately into Standard, but...”

“... But?” Jim prompted, taking a step towards Spock.

Spock’s ears were beginning to burn, his heart throbbing in his side.

“It... the word refers to a particular bond between two people, though groups of three or more are not unheard of. The t’hy’la bond was traditionally formed through battling side by side, and therefore was and is more common between men, though it has become much rarer since the time of Surak.”

“... What kind of bond is it, Spock?”

Spock had always hoped, deep down, that he would be explaining this to Jim after informing him that they were t’hy’lara, rather than attempting to make his captain understand just how serious and inevitable his child’s future marriage to a Klingon was.

To be fair, he had never considered the possibility that Alice may one day bond with a Klingon, as it had been so far beyond what he thought was the realm of possibility that it would have been illogical to consider it, but still.

“A t’hy’la bond is... it is the most intimate and strongest bond any Vulcan can ever have, even more so than with their bondmate. The word has been used to mean friend, brother, and lover, but... the Terran concept it most resembles is soulmate.”

Jim looked completely stunned once again. Perhaps it was best to tell him in this context rather than springing it on him in the context of Spock’s regard for him.

“... Soulmate.”

“That is the most accurate concept, yes.”

Jim groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and pointer finger.

“I can’t believe this. My daughter thinks her soulmate is a Klingon.”

Spock blinked, then bit back an exasperated sigh. It seemed he was not clear enough after all.

“Jim, that is not the-!”

“God, how could this have happened? I’d think it was some kind of rebellion, but she’s twenty-seven, so she’s either really immature or stubborn, and- you know, she actually is pretty stubborn, that’s probably it.”

“Jim, wait-!”

“Sorry about all of that, Spock,” Jim started as he headed for the door. “I don’t know what future me is thinking, but I’m gonna get this straightened out here and now-!”

“Jim!” Spock all but shouted, stepping in front of the door and blocking Jim’s path. “Jim, stop. You are operating under a grave misconception that will only make matters worse.”

Jim blinked, knitting his eyebrows together in confusion.

“A misconception?”

“I apologize, it seems I did not make this clear enough- it is not that Alice simply believes Commander Lukara to be her t’hy’la, Commander Lukara is her t’hy’la.”

“... Come again?”

Spock sighed, shaking his head.

“One cannot choose their t’hy’la, Jim. It is... it is an everlasting bond that is formed naturally, and can only be broken through kolinahr or death once solidified. In modern times, the bond is usually not discovered until long after it has begun formation. In addition, for the bond to form at all, the individuals involved would need to be extraordinarily compatible, in mind, heart, body, and soul. If Alice has formed a t’hy’la bond with Lukara, then there is nothing in the universe that will stop it from happening.”

“But... but... well, what if they never meet?”

“The drive to find one’s t’hy’la is a subconscious one. No matter what occurs, so long as both remain living, they will find each other.” Spock narrowed his eyes. “And there is nothing you can do to stop it, disapprove as you might.”

“I... Spock, come on, you can’t seriously approve of this!”

“Whether I approve is irrelevant, as is whether you or anyone else does. The t’hy’la bond is precious, Jim, and even if it is... unheard of for someone to have such a bond with a Klingon, it is what has happened- or rather, it is what will happen.”

“Spock... I’m... I’m sorry, but I just...” Jim sighed, shaking his head. “I can’t accept this. I can’t believe that it’s inevitable, I... you know how I feel about no-win scenarios.”

Spock could not deny the way his heart sank at that.

A no-win scenario.

Was that what Jim really believed a t’hy’la bond to be?

Would he believe the same about his bond with Spock?

“... Jim. Before you refer to this as a ‘no-win scenario,’ I believe there is a question you should ask yourself.”

“Oh? And what’s that?”

“Is Alice happy?”

Jim blinked, then narrowed his eyes.

“... What does that mean?”

“I would think the meaning is clear. Does being bonded with Commander Lukara make Alice happy? I have more than once heard you say that her happiness shall always come before your own, no matter the cost. Why is this any different?”

Before Jim could attempt to answer him, Spock left the room, ignoring the way his heart ached at the thought of Jim dismissing their own bond as coldly as he had Alice and Lukara’s.

 


 

Jim wasn’t hesitating.

He wasn’t. He was definitely about to go into the gym someone had told him Alice went into after they fought.

He was just... thinking.

“I have more than once heard you say that her happiness shall always come before your own, no matter the cost. Why is this any different?”

Jim grimaced, rubbing the back of his neck tiredly. As much as he hated to admit it, Spock had a point- there really was only one difference between this and any other time her happiness was on the line.

But... but that reason was a fucking Klingon! A Klingon, for crying out loud! Klingons were brutish barbarians, unable to feel any emotion other than anger or pride, who didn’t care about anything except war, and... and...

And people also said that Vulcans were stuck-up emotionless husks who didn’t care about anything other than logic once. Lots of people still did. And lots of Vulcans thought Humans were weak, emotion-obsessed creatures unable to make rational decisions.

What made Jim’s opinion of Klingons any more valid? The only contact he’d ever had with Klingons before this was in the context of war, after all. War never brought out the best side in anyone.

And this was twenty years from Jim’s time. For all he knew, things had changed and Klingons were great allies of the Federation.

And... and Spock was right. If Lukara made Alice happy, then...

Jim grimaced again.

Then he had a lot to apologize for. Hopefully he wouldn’t get punched in the gut by a tiny, angry half-Vulcan.

And so, Jim took a deep breath, then stepped through the door...

“Kiyah!”

And saw his daughter clinging to a Klingon’s back as she tried to get at her neck for a pinch.

Which was the last thing he was expecting, and this had been a weird enough day that he wasn’t really discounting anything anymore.

“Yield!” Alice demanded. Lukara growled in response, reaching behind her and grabbing Alice by the shoulders.

“I am Klingon! I will die first!” She shouted before pulling her off and (surprisingly gently) driving her into the mat, flipping her over before sitting on her back and pinning her arms down. “Concede to me!”

“Like hell!”

Lukara laughed, and even if it sounded more than a little gloat-y, it was more amused than anything.

“You are trapped, my wife. There is no way for you to... to...” Lukara trailed off, her cheeks suddenly reddening. “You... stop that.”

“Stop what?” Alice asked, her voice far too innocent for her not to know what she was doing.

Whatever that was.

“You are... you are thinking of some extremely inappropriate things, and you know I am able to sense this through our bond.”

“Why, Commander, are you saying that you’re flustered?”

“Alice-!”

Alice suddenly reared up, bucking a surprised Lukara off her back and straddling her waist before pinning her to the mat. Lukara opened her mouth to speak, but Alice quickly cut her off with a kiss.

“Ha!” Alice declared as she sat up. “Victory via flustered Klingon!”

“That does not count!”

“Does so. I win!”

Lukara scoffed, the back of her head hitting the mat.

“You are a ridiculous creature, my wife.”

Alice stuck her tongue out and giggled.

“You love me.”

Jim half expected a denial, but instead, Lukara smiled gently, raising one of her now-free hands to Alice’s cheek and caressing it.

“SoH Daj law’ Hoch Hovmey Daj puS.”

Jim had absolutely no clue what that meant, but apparently Alice did, as a pale green flush rose in her cheeks and the tips of her ears.

“You... that’s...”

Lukara grinned, pulling Alice down so that their foreheads were touching.

“chonongmoH. chovuQ. SoH Dughajbe'bogh jaj rur Hov ghajbe'bogh ram-!”

“Okay!” Alice finally interrupted, her voice little more than a flustered squeak at this point. Her face was bright green as she sat up, covering her face with her hands. “Okay, you’ve made your point, you cheeseball!”

Lukara laughed heartily, sitting up so that Alice was in her lap before pulling her hands from her face and kissing her gently.

“And you are also very, very cute, my heart of hearts.”

Alice pouted, then grinned, leaning in and kissing her wife again.

Jim, meanwhile, was all but drowning in guilt.

That was almost certainly a “yes” on the “does Lukara make Alice happy” front. Even the most oblivious of people could have seen that his daughter was deeply, truly, completely in love with this woman, regardless of their differences, and Lukara clearly felt the same way.

How could he ever try to take that from her? What kind of father would do that?

“M’sorry about my dad,” Alice muttered, snapping Jim out of his pity party. “I forgot that the Federation and Klingons weren’t on the best terms when we were kids.”

“I am not upset, dear one. I have been called worse things by crew members on this very vessel.”

“What?! Who?! Let me at them!”

“No.”

“Ashayam-!”

“I am a big girl, darling. I can handle a few dissenters.” She kissed Alice’s cheek. “Besides, if you start another fight with our crew, the captain will be cross with you.”

Alice groaned.

“But they’re such dicks!”

“Indeed. But I have you, and therefore their opinion does not matter.” Lukara pulled up one of Alice’s hands, kissing her knuckles. “I do not need the esteem of bigots when I have your whole heart and soul.”

“But... oh, fine. I won’t beat anybody up.”

“Thank you, dear.”

“... Still mad at my dad, though.”

Lukara sighed.

“Alice, really, I am not upset-!”

“I am! I know that he doesn’t think that way anymore, but- but you’re my t’hy’la, and the first officer of this ship besides! Maybe he doesn’t have to like you, but he should at least respect your position!”

“In fairness to him, from his point of view my race has brought nothing but war, death, and destruction on countless others.”

“So what? Orions actively practice slavery, and yet he’s buddy-buddy with Aunt Gaila at this point.”

“You like your Aunt Gaila.”

“I do, but still! It’s... I never thought I’d see him disapprove like this...”

Lukara hummed, threading a hand through Alice’s hair.

“Oh, Romia, Romia, wherefore art thou Romia?” She murmured almost too softly for Jim to hear. He did hear Alice snort, though. “Deny thy father and refuse thy name. Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Capulet.”

“What is it with Klingons and Shakespeare? Is it the fight scenes?”

“Actually, we’re all huge romantics deep down,” Lukara informed her seriously. They stared at each other for a moment before Alice snickered.

“No, you’re not.”

“Oh, but we are. That is why I am such a cheeseball, as you’ve called me.”

Alice laughed again, pressing her forehead to her wife’s.

“... You know what’s great about being an adult?”

“What?”

Alice grinned, then kissed Lukara once more.

“My dad doesn’t get to tell me what to do anymore.”

Lukara laughed, but the sound was far away to Jim’s ears, drowned out by the sound of his own heart shattering.

Was... was that really what his daughter thought of him?

She thought he was some kind of... of... disapproving dictator?

When had that changed? When did he become such a negative presence in her life?

How had he screwed up so badly?

It was getting a little hard to breath in the gym. He needed... he needed to get out of there.

Thankfully, neither woman noticed him all but run out.

 


 

“Mr. Spock!”

Spock turned around, eyebrow arched when he saw Alice approaching him, flanked by a Klingon woman in Science blues- Commander Lukara, he supposed.

“Yes, Ms. Kirk?”

“Oh, come on, Spock, you’ve known me since I was a little kid, it’s Alice and it will always be Alice.”

Spock’s lips quirked upward involuntarily.

“Very well, Alice. And you must be Commander Lukara, correct?”

Both Alice and Lukara looked surprised.

“I... I am,” Lukara started.

“Uh, Spock, how did you know that?”

“Ah, well... I must apologize, Alice.”

“Huh? For what?”

“I inadvertently walked in on you and your father arguing earlier, and I overheard you discuss Commander Lukara.”

Alice blinked, then turned even paler than usual.

“Uh... when you say you overheard our discussion...”

“I mainly overheard the end of it.” He arched an eyebrow. “And I am fluent in Vulcan, as you know since I am the one who taught you quite a bit of the language. I am aware of your relationship with the commander.”

“Aw, fuck,” Alice muttered under her breath before sighing. “Okay, Spock, look, I know that it’s-!”

“Alice. You have nothing to explain to me.”

She blinked.

“Wait, I don’t?”

“No. You and Commander Lukara are t’hy’lara, and it would be illogical to object to your bonding at this point, as you have addressed her as your wife.” He glanced at Lukara, who went straight to attention. “As for the journey that led to that bonding... that is in the future for me, and I will have to wait. However, as it stands now, I see no reason not to trust your judgement.”

Alice stared at him for a moment before sighing in relief.

“Thank god, I already had to yell at Dad for this... speaking of which, do you know where he is?”

Spock arched an eyebrow.

“Why would I know that?”

“You always know where he is, sir,” Lukara replied. “It is natural, since you two are also-!”

Alice suddenly elbowed her wife in the side.

“Ow! What?”

“No spoilers, babe, remember?”

“But if they came from stardate 2260.270-!”

“No. Spoilers.”

Lukara rolled her eyes.

“Yes, my wife.”

Spock arched an eyebrow.

“I am not sure I understand.”

“Well, if all goes well, you will soon enough. Do you know where he is or not?”

“I have not seen the captain in-!” Spock blinked, a thought suddenly occurring to him. “... He is on Observation Deck Twelve... I... why do I know that?”

Alice smiled tightly, shaking her head.

“Sorry, Spock, I can’t tell you that. But believe me, you’re close to finding out. Lukara, come on!”

Spock wished to ask more, but Alice and Lukara were soon gone from sight.

 


 

Jim flinched as the door to the observation deck opened again, wiping at his eyes and quickly turning to the window.

“Dad...?”

Shit.

“H-Hey, butter... Alice. Uh, I was just-!” Jim flinched again when his voice cracked, clearing his throat. “I was... just looking at the stars.”

“Dad...” Alice’s boots squeaked against the tile as she walked over to the table. Jim made sure to angle his face away from her when she sat down. “Dad, I think we... I think we need to talk about the argument we had earlier.”

“... How about I admit you were right and we don’t discuss our feelings? Like Vulcans.”

“Dad. You’re Human, and I’m only half-Vulcan. Why do you think I was right?”

Jim swallowed.

“I... Spock was in the room, did you know that?”

“Uh, yeah, I kinda... ran into him while I was looking for you. He told you what the words I said meant, huh?”

“Yeah. She’s... she’s your soulmate, huh?”

“That’s... I guess that’s pretty accurate, but I wouldn’t say that around her. Klingons are kinda weird about fate and shit.”

Jim laughed, wincing when his voice cracked yet again.

“Are you okay?”

“I... look, I, uh... I kinda overheard you and your wife talking in the gym earlier.”

Alice was silent for a moment.

“... how much did you hear?”

“Well, I didn’t hear you do anything you shouldn’t have been doing, if that’s what you’re worried about, but... I... I can tell that she loves you, and you... you love her too.” Jim swallowed. “And... and I don’t understand it. Not yet. But... but maybe I will by the time I get to this point, and I... I want to try, okay? I’m going to try to understand, because... because I don’t want our relationship to be as negative as it’s turned out to be.”

“... Wait, what? Dad, what are you talking about?”

Jim laughed humorlessly.

“Come on, kiddo, I told you I heard you guys talking. It’s pretty clear what you meant when you said that I don’t get to tell you what to do anymore, I... I’m sorry if I’ve been too controlling. I want what’s best for you, but... but I have to accept that you’re gonna grow up, and, and you’re...” He swallowed again, his eyes stinging. “And you’re not gonna need me like you used to. That you’re gonna make choices that I... that I don’t agree with, or understand, but I have to let you make them. So I... I’m gonna try harder this time, okay? I-I know that I, that I’m not supposed to change the timeline, but I can’t... I just can’t stand the idea of us not being close-!”

“Daddy,” Alice called softly, grabbing his arm. Jim startled a bit, his heart dropping when he saw the tears in her eyes.

“Wh... Why are you crying-!”

“Daddy, listen to me, you... you didn’t do anything wrong, okay? I mean, yeah, I was pretty pissed at your reaction to Lukara, but you’re from the past, you... Daddy, you were the one who got her into Starfleet.”

Jim blinked.

“I... I was...?”

“Yes, Daddy, you were, and... look, I can’t give you any more details about why, but you- the you that’s older, the one who’s, I don’t know, doing paperwork in his office on Earth- you have been nothing but supportive.” Alice smiled tearfully. “Hell, you were the one who kept telling me to go for it, to just ask her out already. So please, don’t... don’t think that we’ve got some awful relationship, because nothing could be farther from the truth. You’re... you’re my daddy, and I love you lots and lots.”

Another wave of tears burst forth from Jim’s eyes, but he couldn’t help the smile on his face.

“I... I know you’re twenty-seven, but... you’re not too old to hug your old dad, are you?”

Alice laughed a little, getting up from the table and walking around to Jim before wrapping her arms around him once he stood up. He was glad that, despite being all grown up, she was still short enough that he could press a kiss into her hair.

“I love you too, buttercup. Always and always.”

Alice laughed into his chest, thankfully not commenting on the nickname.

After a moment, someone cleared their throat, startling the two of them apart. Lukara was hovering in the doorway, looking exceedingly awkward for a woman of her stature.

“A... Admiral Kirk.”

“Commander Lukara, I...” Jim cleared his throat, wiping at his eyes. “I want to apologize for what I said on the bridge. My... my own experiences with Klingons have, uh, well, they’ve been far from positive, but I shouldn’t have assumed that you’d be the same. Especially since you’re Alice’s soulmate, and all.”

Lukara smiled a little, shaking her head.

“It is alright, sir. I know that my people have been less than... accomodating in the past to other races.”

“Yeah, but it’s still not fair of me to judge you based on their behavior.”

“It is not as though I have not judged Humans in the past.” She smiled a bit more. “But I am still glad to know that I was wrong.”

“Yeah, me too. I’m actually looking forward to meeting you- well, I mean, meeting you properly.” He laughed a little. “Man, I sound like Spock.”

Alice snorted.

“Yeah, that tends to happen when you have a mental bond with someone-!”

“Alice.”

His daughter froze, her eyes going wide as she realized what she said.

“Uh... aw, fuck.”

“What? What are you... what mental bond?”

Lukara looked rather smug.

“Darling. I would like to point out that this whole day you have been very clear about me telling the Enterprise crew things they should not know, and yet you are the one who-!”

“I changed my mind, I want a divorce.”

“I believe that would be quite painful, seeing as the bond between us is very hard to get rid of, and also because that would necessitate me throwing you to the ground and spitting on you.”

“... That’s a good point.”

“Uh, guys? You still haven’t told me what the bond thing’s about.”

Alice grimaced.

“Swear to god, if this fucks everything up, I’m gonna have to figure out a way to go back in time by myself...”

 


 

“Captain?” Spock asked as he walked into the conference room Jim had asked him to meet him in. Jim looked... strangely nervous. “Is everything alright?”

“I, um... that depends on your definition of ‘alright’ I guess...”

Spock blinked, then arched an eyebrow.

“Please clarify, sir.”

“Just... just Jim, please, I...” Jim took a breath. “Spock, there’s... there’s something I have to tell you.”

“Yes?”

“Well, um... actually, it’s, it’s more like something Alice told me that I’m relaying to you, but... I... that is, um... she told me that we have a bond. A mental bond.”

Spock blinked.

“I... I assure you, Jim, if that were the case, I would know about it.”

Jim shook his head.

“You... you might not though, right? I mean, you said earlier that... that a certain kind of bond often goes undetected at first...”

Spock blinked once more, then felt a pit drop into his stomach. He quickly closed his eyes, searching through his mind to find... it couldn’t be, he would never let his guard down like that, he’d always been so careful-!

He found it. It was thin, still forming, but strong, glowing brightly in the back of his mind.

Almost instinctively, he tugged on it.

“Ow!” Jim cried, flinching and raising a hand to the back of his head. “What the... what was that? It felt like someone was... pulling on my brain or something...”

Somehow, Spock’s stomach dropped even further.

How... how was this possible? In order for the bond to take root like this, they would have had to at least experienced a light mind meld-!

Oh. Oh no.

His pon farr. He and Jim had been in close contact, both aroused, and... and in his haze, his mind had reached out to Jim’s and...

What had he done?

“Spock? Spock, what’s wrong?”

“I... I apologize, Jim, it... it seems that Alice was correct. A bond has indeed formed between us by accident.”

“A... Accident? How... how could it happen by accident?”

Spock’s ears, as they had often in the captain’s presence, began to burn.

“I... during my, my Time, while we were... while we were engaged in c-combat, I... I was not as in control of my telepathic abilities as I should have been, and... I initiated a light meld with you.”

Jim blinked, tilting his head slightly.

“Wait, so you... you were in my head?”

Spock could not help but flinch, turning his gaze to his shoes.

“I... I apologize deeply for the... for my invasion of your privacy.”

“What? Spock, I’m not mad- I mean, you were hardly in your right mind at the time-!”

“That does not make it right, Jim. It... to initiate a mind meld, even a light one, without consent it... it is considered deeply distasteful at best, and at worst, it... it is considered a crime.”

“A crime? Spock, come on, it’s... it’s not like you were doing it on purpose.”

“I am still responsible for-!”

“Spock.” Jim was now right in front of him. “Spock, look at me.”

Spock swallowed, then slowly looked up at the captain, who... who had a warm smile on his face.

“Spock, I’m not mad at you, really. It’s not like you purposely tried to sift through my memories or something- do you even remember seeing anything?”

Yes. Mainly Jim’s arousal and concern for Spock, as well as some dizziness that he’d originally attributed to the thinner air, but now knew was most likely a result of the neuroparalyzer.

“I... I sensed your emotional state, but I did not see any specific memories or thoughts.”

“See? No harm done. But, uh... is that all it took? A light meld?”

“I... no, it would also require us to have... we are extremely compatible in a mental sense. Because of that, when... when my mind reached out to meld during my pon farr, and your mind was there, we... we became linked.”

Jim exhaled, taking a step back.

“I... wow. Wow, just... this is kind of a lot to take in, Spock, I... wait. Is... is that why I always know where you are?”

Spock blinked.

“I... yes... I had not thought of it before, but I also seem to always know where you are as well...”

How had he not realized this before? It was so obvious now- of course he and Jim had become bonded.

“So, um... can... can it be dissolved?”

Spock blinked, then felt his heart start to sink.

“I... since it is still a fledgling bond, it... with an experienced healer’s aid, it can be. At least one survived the destruction of Vulcan-that-was, and the process should be fairly painless for us both.”

Physically, in any case. To Spock, even just thinking about the emotional pain of losing his t’hy’la for good was excruciating.

But if it was what Jim wanted, then...

“Oh, uh, good!” Jim smiled, but it did not quite reach his eyes. “Well, uh, that’s... that’s great, Spock. Looks like you’re not gonna be stuck with me forever after all, huh?”

Spock blinked again.

“... Stuck with you, Jim?”

“I, I mean, well, it would be annoying to have me in your head all the time, right?”

“I... I had thought that you would be the one to object to this on that basis.”

“Eh?”

“Most Humans would consider this sort of bond an annoyance at best, and a horrible breach of privacy at worst. Yet you... you seem more concerned with my own comfort.” Bravery surged through him, and Spock took a step towards Jim. “Why is that?”

The tips of Jim’s ears had turned pink.

“I... um... th-that, that is, uh...”

“Jim, do you want our bond to be dissolved?”

“I...” Jim wouldn’t look him in the eyes. “If... if that’s what you want.”

“But is it what you want?”

He flinched, glancing up at Spock for a split second before looking away.

“I... no. I don’t... I don’t want that.”

Spock’s heart was pounding in his ears. Did Jim... was it possible that...?

“Why? Why do you not want the bond to be dissolved?”

Jim blushed even more, stammering and stuttering for thirty-six point one seconds before shutting his mouth and swallowing hard.

“I... I can’t.”

“Jim, please-!”

“I can’t... I’ve been holding it in so long, I don’t... I don’t think I could make the words come out right...” Jim took a breath, then finally looked up at Spock, an unfamiliar look in those blue eyes. “Meld with me.”

Spock blinked.

“I... Jim, I do not-!”

“Spock, I... I really don’t think I can say it, it’d... it’d all just come out sounding like gibberish. I give you permission, so... please?”

Spock swallowed, then nodded, taking a half-step towards Jim before slowly placing his fingers on Jim’s meld points.

“My thoughts to your thoughts...” He murmured, closing his eyes.

The moment the meld began, it was as if a bolt of lightning ran through him. The emotions that flooded his system... warmth, kindness, fondness, slight irritation, hints of despair and regret...

Love. Overwhelming, all-encompassing love.

And then there were the memories.

He was looking at himself at the court martial, resisting the urge to deck this “uptight jerkass” in front of the admiralty. He was arguing with himself on the bridge. He was being strangled, hoping against hope he wouldn’t kill him. He was looking at himself in Jim’s apartment. He was so happy to see Spock just as the Enterprise was about to launch.

He was experiencing extremely inappropriate arousal at swear words coming out of his first officer’s mouth. He was overwhelmingly relieved when his first officer confirmed he wouldn’t tell Starfleet about his near-relapse into his eating disorder.

He was... kissing a shirtless version of himself on the pleasure planet, which he had questions about. He was ejaculating over his own hand while thinking of intercourse with his first officer. He was trying not to say anything idiotic as he came out to himself.

He was panicking, trying to save his first officer from a volcanic death. He was hurt and upset when said first officer reported him to Starfleet for it. He was unsure if he wanted his first officer to understand what he meant when he said he would miss him. He was being carried by himself, wishing it was as romantic as it felt.

He was dying, trying in those last moments to make him understand.

He was waking up, and Spock was there, and he was so happy to see him.

He was worried about Spock. He was cursing himself for being aroused at the idea of Spock pinning him to the bed and taking him roughly during his pon farr. He was resigned to the fact that he was going to lose Spock to this woman. He was aroused once more, wrestling with himself in the dirt. He was being picked up and spun around in sickbay. He was looking at two of himself. He was trying to comfort his Human self. He was aroused at the sight of his normal self in glasses. He was touched that Spock told him about his diagnosis.

He was trying not to show how happy he was to know how far Spock would go to find him. He was a little aroused at the sight of himself in the suit, and flustered by his compliments. He was watching himself cry over his brother. He was afraid that he would lose Spock to Daystrom, then telling himself he was never his to begin with. He wanted to kiss himself for the speech on the bridge. He kept himself from admitting that... that he wasn’t good enough for Spock, but asking him to love him anyway.

To love him back.

He was in love.

Without a word, Spock ended the meld, unable to speak and instead just staring at Jim, who still would not look at him.

“I... I’m sorry,” Jim finally whispered, his voice rough and thick with... with unshed tears. “I... I never wanted you to find out, and- and especially not like this, but... I don’t want you to feel obligated to stay because I’m in... if, if you want to request a transfer, I won’t stop-!”

“Jim,” Spock interrupted gently, pressing his forehead against Jim’s. “Jim, I... you have given me your thoughts. I wish to give you mine.”

“Wh... What?”

“I wish to meld with you once more, to... to show you my own thoughts. May I?”

“Y... You don’t have to-!”

“Please.”

Jim swallowed again, then nodded. Spock took a shaky breath as he placed his fingers on Jim’s meld points once more, allowing him into his mind as he focused on his memories of Jim, from the irritation of their first meeting, to their burgeoning friendship at the original launch, to all of the confusion he felt whenever his heart beat faster around Jim, the... the despair of watching him die, beating Khan half to death and only stopping thanks to Uhura, Jim’s heart beginning to beat once more, Jim waking up, how hard he tried to hold himself back during his Time, his anguish at the thought that he’d killed Jim, being so happy and relieved when he was still alive, taking himself in hand and orgasming to the thought of Jim, the arguments between his selves about telling or not telling him, his relief at Jim taking his diagnosis in stride, his relief at seeing Jim’s face after the abduction, arguing with Michael about whether or not to tell him, attempting to flirt while in the suits, being grateful for Jim’s assurances after his brother’s death, growing to hate the M-5 for the despair on Jim’s face, wishing that he could tell Jim what he meant to him...

Loving Jim. Being in love with Jim.

Being in love with his t’hy’la.

Jim gasped when Spock ended the meld, his eyes big and dewey as he looked up at Spock.

This time, however, there was no sadness in it.

“You... you love me,” Jim whispered.

“I do,” Spock confirmed.

Jim was grinning now.

“You love me. You love me!”

“Always. I have loved you for the longest time, and I will love you until the heat death of the universe, even if that will be long after we have both died. So long as you will have me-!”

“Spock,” Jim started, the word more of a giggle than anything else.

“Yes, ashayam?”

“I love this conversation, I do. I love you. I love you so much. But I’ve kinda been thinking about kissing you for over two years now, so...”

Spock couldn’t help but smile, cupping Jim’s cheeks in his palms and leaning down to finally- finally- press his lips to those perfect, pink, heart-shaped ones he had longed to kiss for... for longer than he wanted to think about in this moment.

The kiss started off chaste, gentle. Jim was so fascinatingly warm, and the way his lips slid against Spock’s was even more perfect than he could ever have imagined. But soon enough, it turned a bit deeper; Jim’s tongue began pressing at his lips as he wrapped his arms around Spock’s neck, and Spock moaned quietly, putting his hands on Jim’s hips as the tip of his tongue slipped into Spock’s mouth.

He tried to mirror Jim’s movements as best he could- he had not kissed anyone of his own volition since he was twelve, after all, and there had been no tongue.

There had also not been a rising heat in his loins. Spock’s eyes snapped open as he quickly broke away, unable to keep himself from panting slightly.

“What?” Jim asked, his voice a bit hoarse. His lips were slightly swollen from kissing, and there was a delightful flush on his face, which served to increase Spock’s arousal to the point that... oh.

Spock bit his lip, shifting slightly as he tried to disguise his... issue.

“I... it is, is nothing, I... it has been some time since I... since I kissed someone willingly, and I... I am somewhat overwhelmed.”

Overwhelmed was not a lie. He was a bit overwhelmed, both by the realization that his feelings were in fact returned, and because his genitals had a terrible sense of timing.

“Oh. Well, uh, that’s... that’s alright.” Jim grinned up at him. “Want a minute to calm down before we go back out?”

Spock blinked, then felt himself turn bright green from his chin to the roots of his hair.

“I! Y-You, I, that is... how, how did you...?”

“I can kinda feel it poking me, sweetheart,” Jim explained before leaning up and kissing him gently, chastely. “It’s okay. We can take it slow if that’s what you need.”

Spock exhaled, shaking his head.

“Jim, I have desired you for over a year now.” He pressed his forehead to Jim’s. “I fear I may explode out of sexual frustration if we ‘take it slow.’”

Jim had turned quite an interesting shade of red below him.

“Uh. Um. I.” He chuckled. “Well, uh, first, w-welcome, welcome to my world, sweetheart. Second, if you’re really sure about not taking it slow...”

Spock shuddered as Jim’s hand found his own, and he knew from the confidence he was sensing that Jim knew exactly what he was doing.

“How about once we get back to the ship, and we’re back in our own timeline, we head over to your quarters and-!”

The doors to the conference room opened.

“Hey, Dad, sorry to interrupt, but we’re almost ready to-!”

Jim made a very odd squawking sound as he broke away from Spock, who immediately straightened and glanced over his shoulder.

Alice blinked one, then twice, then three times before her shoulders slumped and she let out a huge sigh.

“Thank the fucking lord. I swear, if I hadn’t messed up with the bond thing, I probably would have accidentally called you ‘Papa’ at some point.”

Spock blinked, turning around to face Alice head on.

“P... Papa?”

“Yeah, duh. I can’t call both of you Dad, then how would you know who I’m calling to help me with homework or whatever?”

Jim was now shaking with barely concealed laughter.

“N... Never figured you for a ‘Papa’ kind of guy, babe.”

Spock was still too stunned by the realization that Alice would eventually come to address her as her father.

He... he would be a father after all.

“Wh... Spock, are you crying?”

He blinked, then flushed, clearing his throat and turning away.

“N... No.”

“Yes, you are, I can feel it through the... oh, wow. That is neat!”

Alice scoffed, rolling her eyes.

“Man, I’m glad David was born after you guys worked all this shit out.”

Spock could feel Jim’s surprise as well as his own.

“Who’s David?” They asked simultaneously.

Alice’s eyes widened.

“... Aw, fuck.”

 


 

It had taken several hours, and some feats of engineering that Jim was sure would go down in history as “super badass,” but they were finally ready to get back to their own time.

Although not everyone was too excited about that.

“No.”

“Please?” Scotty all but begged.

Alice shook her head.

“Nope, sorry, Uncle Scotty. We can’t risk the timeline if you figure out how warp eleven works,.”

“Aw, lassie, you’re breaking my heart here.”

“I’m sure Keenser will love to hear all about it once you get home. Now get!”

Bones laughed as Scotty walked onto the transporter with his tail between his legs before walking over to Alice and ruffling her hair.

‘See ya later, munchkin.”

“Uncle Bones, I’m twenty-seven!”

“So what? You’re still a shortstack.”

Alice rolled her eyes, then laughed when Nyota pulled her into a hug.

“I’m gonna miss you, kiddo.”

“You’re gonna see me in like, ten minutes.”

Nyota gave her a look.

“You know what I mean.”

Alice laughed, shaking her head. She then turned to Jim and Spock, her eyes sparkling with so many emotions that Jim couldn’t begin to name them all.

“You guys... you’re not gonna forget to have him, right? Cause I might complain about David like, a lot, but he’s my little brother and I love him to death.”

Jim grinned, remembering the photos Alice had shown them of the quarter-Vulcan boy with dark, curly hair and dark eyes, who at seventeen was already a good four inches taller than his big sister.

“I dunno, kiddo. I mean, I’m not totally clear on the whole DNA combining thing-!”

“Daddy.”

“I’m kidding, I’m kidding! We’ll make sure he’s around, buttercup.”

Alice was clearly trying to be serious, but Jim could see the way her lips were quirking upward.

“You’d better, cause I’m gonna call him once you’re back in your own time, and if he doesn’t pick up-!”

“Did you not tell us that your brother has a tendency not to pick up until you have called him three times?” Spock inquired.

“Irrelevant, Papa.” The PADD in Alice’s hands beeped. “Looks like it’s time.”

Jim smiled sadly, spreading his arms. Alice quickly took the hint, all but diving into them and holding Jim tightly.

“Hey, hey, this isn’t forever, y’know. You can call me- the older me- any time you want, I’m sure... I’ll always be happy to talk to you, Alice.”

“I know,” Alice murmured, her voice a little muffled by Jim’s shirt. “But I’m still gonna miss you...”

Jim smiled, pressing a kiss into her hair.

“Love you, buttercup.”

Alice smiled, her eyes misty as she pulled away.

“I love you too, Daddy.”

Then, before he could protest, she turned around and hugged a very surprised Spock.

“And I love you, Papa.”

Spock looked a little unsure of himself, but to Jim’s surprise he hugged her back.

“I love you as well, little one.”

Alice laughed, wiping at her eyes as she went to stand by Lukara’s side. Out of the corner of his eye, Jim saw his daughter reach out and extend two fingers in her wife’s direction. Lukara extended two of her own, pressing them to Alice’s.

Jim didn’t know what that meant, but apparently it meant something to Spock, who made a small choked noise as they got on the transporter.

He’d have to ask later.

“See you soon,” Jim called, waving a little.

Alice gave him a melancholy smile, waving back with her free hand.

“See you soon.”

“Energize,” Jamison ordered.

 


 

2260.271

Jim sighed as they exited warp.

“Mr. Sulu, what’s the stardate?”

“2260.271, sir. We’re home.”

Jim let out another sigh of relief, then glanced over at his boyfriend.

A wave of giddiness washed over him. Spock was his boyfriend.

“Mr. Spock, how are we looking with our course to Delta Trion?”

“The time warp anomaly knocked us off course slightly, sir, but I believe it will be a simple matter to correct our course.”

“Great.” Jim hesitated for a second, then grinned as he decided to throw caution to the wind. “Hit me with it, sweetheart.”

Spock blinked, staring at him for what felt like an eternity before his lips quirked upward.

“Of course, ashayam.”

The silence on the bridge lasted but a split second.

“Jesus, finally!” Nyota exclaimed. “I thought something was up when the grown-up Alice started calling you Papa.”

“Pay up, kid,” Sulu said to Chekov with a grin. The latter groaned.

“You could not have waited two more days? I would have won pool!”

Jim laughed, shaking his head.

He couldn’t have asked for a better crew.

Though he could have asked for a slightly less invasive one, honestly, because Spock was clearly embarrassed by all the questions from various ensigns, even if the answer to most of the questions was “I don’t know, we’ve only been dating for a matter of hours at this point.”

The relief on his boyfriend’s face was palpable when Alpha shift ended, and Jim had to try hard not to laugh as they got out of the lift on their floor.

“So, I’ve got a question for you, Spock,” Jim said to his boyfriend as they approached their quarters.

“Yes, Jim?”

“What does ah-shy-yam mean?”

He would never get tired of seeing Spock blush, he decided.

“It... it is a term of endearment. It means, ‘beloved.’”

Jim grinned.

“And I thought Vulcans couldn’t be cheesy. Okay, second question.” He held up two fingers, the same fingers he’d seen Alice and Lukara put together, then pressed the same fingers on his other hand to them. “What does this mean? I saw Alice and her wife doing it, and you made a weird noise when you saw them do it, so I know it means something.”

Spock blushed even more.

“It... it is an affectionate gesture amongst Vulcans. It is called the ozh’esta, or finger embrace, and... it is similar to a kiss for Humans.”

“Hm.” Jim grinned again, then held up two fingers, thinking “kiss me” as loudly as he could at Spock. His boyfriend blushed again, then actually smiled before pressing two of his fingers against Jim’s.

Now kiss me the Human way.

He could have sworn he heard Spock laugh before he leaned in and pressed his lips to Jim’s.

Of course, that was when the door to Jim’s quarters opened.

“Daddy! You’re back-! Oh.”

Jim and Spock quickly broke apart, the former blushing scarlet while the latter blushed a particular shade of emerald. Alice blinked at them, then scoffed, throwing her hands in the air.

“Well, finally! Geez, I thought you guys were never gonna get your acts together!” She shook her head. “I’m gonna have to marry the smartest boy in the universe, or else it’s gonna take forever for him to realize I like him!”

After the day he’d had, and with the things he knew about Alice’s future, no one could blame Jim for bursting into giggles.

“What? What’s so funny? Daddy, why are you laughing?”

“Just... I’m just happy, buttercup.”

Alice rolled her eyes in response.

Chapter Text

2260.312

Jim was only half-awake when he stumbled into the bathroom and saw a dripping wet Spock clad only in a towel around his waist.

It took him a good minute of staring to realize that no, this wasn’t a dream, he’d actually walked in on his boyfriend getting out of the fresher and was now staring at him like an idiot and/or giant pervert.

“Uh,” he managed intelligently. “I... uh... um...”

“G... Good morning?” Spock offered, looking more than a little green. Actually, now that Jim was getting a good look at him, his shoulders were also a little green, as was his chest, which was still covered in thick hair, but thanks to the water it had clumped together a little, and Jim kind of wanted to straighten it out with his fingers and oh god he need to not be in this bathroom.

“S... Sorry!” He heard himself squeak before all but bolting out of the bathroom, letting the door close behind him as he leaned on the wall next to it. He groaned, covering his face with his hands.

It had been three weeks since he’d let Spock into his mind to admit how he really felt about him. Three weeks since they’d started dating.

Three weeks since Spock told him if they took it slow, he might just explode, a sentiment Jim agreed with whole-heartedly.

And yet.

In the three weeks since he’d learned that Spock loved him back (which still made Jim go “!!!” every time he thought about it), there had been absolutely no sex.

Now, Jim liked to think that he was a little more mature nowadays. Back in the days when he was young and wild (read- seven years ago), he probably wouldn’t have stuck around past three days, let alone three weeks.

Spock, of course, was different. He’d been smitten with Spock so long, now that he finally had him, nothing short of the literal end of the universe was going to tear them apart, not even the continuation of a dry spell that had lasted the better part of a decade for no discernable reason.

And it really was for no discernable reason, at least to Jim. If they’d been busy with work, he totally would have gotten it, but they really hadn’t been doing much more than traveling at warp for the past few weeks. Plus, they were spending time together- that first night after they’d come back from the Enterprise-B, for example, Jim had slept in Spock’s bed.

Literally slept in it. They’d been talking about their feelings, and Jim had learned that, while he was definitely an idiot, Spock was apparently also an idiot- seriously, the guy had assumed that he didn’t have feelings for him because he didn’t act the same way around him as he did around Edith, which, come on, Spock, Edith wasn’t exactly the same kind of person as he was, and their relationship had always been different!

Of course, then Spock admitted that he’d never actually been in love before, which did kinda justify that assumption. It also led to some more kissing... followed by Jim falling asleep on top of him. Like a loser.

You are not a loser, ashayam. I thought it was quite endearing.

Jim squawked, flushing even more.

You... how much of that did you hear?

All of it. Your shielding still requires work, Jim.

Hey, I can shield! I’ve shielded Alice’s thoughts since she was too little to think in anything but abstracts!

It is different when it comes to a t’hy’la bond. I am dressed now, may I enter your quarters?

Jim blushed again.

Can I find pants first?

He could feel Spock’s amusement.

If that will make you more comfortable, dear one.

Jim flushed again, his heart skipping a beat- even after three weeks, he still kinda felt like a high schooler in his first relationship whenever Spock used an endearment.

Which was surprisingly often. Vulcans couldn’t be sappy his left ass cheek-!

Jim felt a wave of embarrassment that wasn’t his own, and he grinned sheepishly.

Oops. Sorry, sweetheart.

It... it is of no consequence. Are you decent?

Yeah, um... come on in.

The door to the bathroom opened once more, revealing a fully dressed Spock. Jim smiled at him, then frowned a bit as he walked closer. His eyes widened when he realized what Spock wanted to do, and he quickly covered his mouth.

“Uh, trust me, you- you don’t want to do that right now.”

Spock arched an eyebrow.

“Yes I do. I enjoy kissing you in both Human and Vulcan styles, Jim.”

Jim grinned behind his hand.

“Well, likewise, but, uh, Humans kinda have this thing where their breath stinks to high heaven first thing in the morning, and since I have yet to brush my teeth, kissing me is probably gonna be a lot less pleasant than usual.”

“I do not see how kissing you could ever be unpleasant.”

Jim blinked, then flushed, trying not to giggle like an idiot.

“You... geez, if you keep talking like that, I’m gonna have to kiss you.”

“Since that is what I want, that is not an effective deterrent. I find you to be the most fascinating and beautiful creature in all the universe. If I were only allowed to stare into your eyes for an eternity, I would be content. I would follow you to the ends of the-!”

Jim was snickering as he leaned in, pressing his lips against Spock’s to quiet his cheesy, cheesy Vulcan.

“I am not cheesy,” Spock protested when he pulled away a moment later, “and as I thought I would, I enjoyed that.”

“Well, you’re the first person who’s ever liked kissing me with morning breath, pal.”

Spock arched an eyebrow.

“Have you had morning breath while kissing many others?”

Jim blinked, then grinned sheepishly.

“Ah-heh, well... no, actually, uh... most people don’t really stick around long enough for that.”

“I see.” A flush painted Spock’s cheeks. “I... I believe we should speak about... a topic related to that.”

Now it was Jim’s turn to blush.

“I... um... I guess we probably should.” He cleared his throat, looking away. “You, uh... you still want to, right? I, I know you said that you wanted to back on the Enterprise-B, but um, if you... if you changed your mind about taking it slow-!”

“Jim,” Spock murmured softly as he pulled Jim a little closer. “Jim, I have not... I still very much want to be... intimate with you.”

Jim’s heart skipped a beat before resuming a much faster pace.

“O... Oh. Oh, uh, good. Um. Same here.” Jim grinned at him. “Well, uh, do you... do you want to, to take some time later tonight to-?”

Spock immediately turned bright green, his eyes going wide- Jim could’ve sworn his ears actually drooped.

“I... um.”

Jim blinked, then arched an eyebrow.

“Did... did you just say ‘um?’ Spock, I have never heard you say ‘um’ in the entire time I’ve known you, except when you were split into Vulcan and Human halves. What’s the matter?”

Spock glanced away, biting his lip nervously and drumming his fingers against Jim’s hips.

“I... I apologize, Jim.”

“Apologize? For what?”

“I... I had hoped that I would not have to... to tell you. I find myself to be apprehensive about... about your reaction...”

Jim felt his expression soften, gently putting a hand on Spock’s cheek and trying to transmit as much reassurance through the physical contact as he could.

“Sweetheart, I promise, whatever you have to tell me, it’s not gonna change anything, especially not the way I feel about you. I love you, Spock.” He leaned up a bit, pressing his forehead to Spock’s. “And no matter what, I’m going to love you for the rest of my life. Longer, if I can.”

“Jim...” He could feel Spock’s gratitude, although also a bit of... disgust?

“Something bothering you?”

“I... I believe I may understand what you meant about ‘morning breath’ now...”

Jim laughed, taking a step back.

“Told ya so. Anyway, I promise, I’m not going to get mad, so please tell me what’s wrong.” He smiled. “Let me help.”

Spock flushed, clearing his throat.

“I... while I very much would like to... to have intercourse with you, I... I am slightly anxious at the prospect.”

Jim blinked.

“Anxious? Why?”

His boyfriend bit his lip, shifting slightly.

“I... I have... I have n-!”

Just then, Spock’s comm went off, as did Jim’s. Jim bit back a groan, pulling his comm out and checking it.

“Aw, dammit... sorry, Spock, it looks like they need me on the bridge.”

“It is of no consequence, ashayam, as I am also needed on the bridge. I will cover your duties, so please take the time to eat something.”

“Spock, I don’t-!”

Spock gave him a look, and Jim huffed, though he couldn’t help but smile.

“Alright, alright, I’ll eat a muffin or something, Mom.”

“Your health is important, Jim.”

“I know, I know, I’m just teasing ya.” Jim grinned at him. “I love you.”

Tahluk nash-veh k’dular,” Spock replied before leaning in and pressing a kiss to Jim’s forehead.

And that was when the door to Alice’s bedroom opened.

“G’morning, Daddy...” She blinked when she saw Spock, then sighed. “Do you guys have to be so mushy first thing in the morning?”

“Yes,” Jim responded, snaking an arm around Spock’s waist. “Yes we do.”

Alice rolled her eyes, and Jim felt Spock do the mental equivalent of that through their bond.

Although he also felt a good amount of amusement there, too.

 


 

“What do you mean, his brain’s gone?!”

Bones rolled his eyes, gesturing at the monitor above Spock’s head.

“Just that. It’s gone. No brain whatsoever. Everything else is there and working fine, but he’s a total vegetable. I have absolutely no explanation-!”

“I don’t want an explanation, Bones, I want my boyfriend’s brain in his head where it should be!”

“Oh, sure, Jim, let me just get his brain from the cupboard where I put it- oh wait. I didn’t do that. I have no goddamn idea where his hobgoblin brain is, only where it’s not!”

Jim grit his teeth, glancing at Spock’s eerily still body. His eyes were closed, and someone other than Jim might have thought he was just sleeping.

Of course, Jim had seen Spock sleeping and knew the man snored like a damn foghorn, but still.

“How... I know I’m not a doctor, Bones, but if he doesn’t have a brain at all, shouldn’t he be...?”

Bones sighed, shaking his head.

“It’s a damn medical miracle, I tell you. Every single nerve ending of the brain must have been neatly sealed. Nothing ripped, nothing torn, no bleeding.”

“But if it’s missing, then... then Spock’s...”

He couldn’t say it. He didn’t want to even think it, to think that after all this time, now that he and Spock were finally together, Spock was just going to...

“Well, he should be dying, but he’s not. That incredible Vulcan physique hung on til the life support cycle took over. His body’s still alive, somehow.” Bones glanced over at Jim. “Now, I may not be an expert on that Vulcan telepathic mumbo jumbo, but from what I do know about it, if his brain weren’t still intact, you’d have felt it, wouldn’t you?”

Jim blinked, then suddenly felt like a huge weight was off his shoulders.

“I... I would. But I don’t... he’s still there.”

“Well, there ya go. Now, do me a favor? Figure out where he is, would ya?”

Jim smiled weakly, then took a breath and closed his eyes.

Spock? Sweetheart, can you hear me?

... Jim.

He let out a sigh of relief.

Thank god. Where are you?

I am uncertain. It is dark, and I cannot hear anything. Nor can I feel anything.

Okay, well, do you know who took you?

No. My last memory before regaining consciousness in this void is that woman on the bridge.

Jim’s eyes opened.

“That woman... Scotty, that woman on the bridge from before, she came from that ship, right?”

“Aye, sir.”

“What woman?” Bones asked, arching an eyebrow.

“There was... look, it’s a long story, but point is, she took his brain. I don’t know how, or... or why, or where, and neither does Spock, but she must have taken it!” Jim bit his lip, then put up the strongest shield he could before taking a breath. “Bones... Bones, how long do you think you can keep him functioning?”

“Dammit, Jim, how the hell should I know? By all rights, your boyfriend should be pushing up daisies-!”

“Leonard, please,” Jim begged.

Bones blinked, his expression softening before he sighed.

“I... I can’t give you any guarantee, kid. If it happened to a Human, I’d say indefinitely, but since Spock’s half-Vulcan...”

Jim grit his teeth, then turned to M’Benga.

“What about you? What can you do?”

M’Benga shrugged.

“I’m sorry, sir, but... given the nature of Spock’s hybrid physiology, I’d say he can go maybe twenty-four hours before his body starts shutting down.”

Twenty-four hours. One day.

He had one day left, or else...

“Then... then we’ll have to take him with us.”

Bones and M’Benga both blinked.

“Uh... take him where?”

“To find his brain. If you two are right, then the moment we find it, we have to put it back, or else he’s...”

“Jim, just... where the hell are you going to look for him? You said that Spock doesn’t even know where he is, where are you going to look?”

Jim crossed his arms.

“There was a game on this ship for months about how Spock and I always know where the other is. I’m going to apply that same principle, and I’m gonna find him, and then you’re gonna put his brain back where it belongs, and then I’m gonna kiss him for a good ten minutes-!”

“Okay!” Bones interrupted, putting up his hands. “Okay, I get it, you’re gonna use your link to the hobgoblin to find him, great, but what if you can’t?”

“I will. I don’t care if I have to search every goddamn corner of the galaxy, I’m going to find his stupid brain and put it back in his stupid head!”

“You can’t do that, and neither can I!”

“Well whoever took it can! I’ll force it out of her if I have to, but one way or another, I’m not letting him go without a fight!”

Before Bones could say anything else, Jim stormed out of the med-bay. His heart hurt at the thought of losing Spock like this- he couldn’t let it happen-!

Jim? Ashayam, what is wrong? Why were you shielding me?

Oh, uh, sorry, Spock, I... look, I didn’t want you to hear my thoughts just then, okay? I don’t want you to freak out.

Vulcans do not freak out.

You do, though. And I need you to stay calm. I’m going to find you, and we’re going to fix this.

... Very well. However, I have a request.

Yeah?

You too must stay calm. Even if I am not able to be with you at this moment, I do not want you to be upset.

Jim stopped in his tracks, his throat tightening even as a small smile graced his lips.

Oh, Spock... I love you, okay? I love you so much.

I love you as well, t’hy’la. Do not worry. I trust you, and I know that you will find me.

Despite the fact that he kind of wanted to cry, Jim still smiled.

 


 

2260.313

When Jim first saw Spock, Bones, and M’Benga beam down to the planet, he barely kept himself from running and embracing the first. If he hadn’t known that Bones had rigged Spock’s body to move with a remote, and if Spock’s brain wasn’t pulling him in the opposite direction, he probably would have tried to jump into his arms or something.

Which would probably have ended with Spock both missing a brain and having a broken ankle.

Jim swallowed as Bones made the body turn, trying to mask the turmoil he was feeling.

“A... Alright, Bones. M’Benga. Bring him along.”

Spock’s body moved robotically, like he was some movie monster from the 1950’s. It hurt to look at, even more so knowing that it was both his boyfriend and not his boyfriend that he was looking at- it was his body, but his mind, that beautiful, wonderful, maddeningly logical mind of his, was still waiting for him deep in the cave.

Jim swore, once this mess was cleared up, he was going to hold his stupid Vulcan tight and never let go.

The entrance to the cave turned out to be an elevator of sorts, and everyone but Spock stumbled, even though Jim latched onto his arm to steady himself. Scotty told him that they were getting close to the power they’d sensed earlier just before the door opened, revealing that a woman like the one they’d met earlier.

Jim resisted the urge to stun her right away, or worse, reminding himself that they still needed her to put Spock’s brain back.

Of course, then she tried to use her stun thing, and he had no choice.

He would admit that he enjoyed it a little, though.

Bones had her up and talking again a second later, and Jim grabbed her, holding her by the arms tightly and glaring at her.

“You do not belong here! You are not Morg!”

“Yeah, well, you’ve got something that belongs to someone I care a lot about! Now take me to the one in charge, I want to speak to him.”

“Him? What is him?”

“She, then?”

“What is she?”

“... They. We’re going with they for now, just, where’s Spock’s brain? What have you done with it?”

“You are not Morg, or Eymorg. I know nothing about a brain-!”

“You’re lying!” Jim snarled, shaking her a little.

“No, she’s not, Jim. No change in reading, she doesn’t know.”

Jim grit his teeth, then released the woman and glanced at Scotty.

“See what you can pick up on your communicator.”

“Aye, sir.”

“Look, we... we don’t want to hurt you, okay? Just... what is this place?”

She looked bewildered by the question.

“This place is here.”

Dammit. He hadn’t had this much trouble having a regular conversation with someone since Alice was two and didn’t understand sentence structure yet.

“Then... then who are you?”

“I am Luma. I am Eymorg. You are not Eymorg. You are not Morg. What are you?”

Jim opened his mouth, then closed it, unable to figure out how to explain it.

“Jim, it’s no use. You’ll get nothing out of her, her mind’s little more than a child’s.”

“Bones, I remind you, I have a child-!”

“Captain, I’ve got something, but I can’t quite get a fix on it.”

Scotty handed him his comm, which was making a weird sound, and Luma tried to run just as a familiar voice came out of the comm.

“Fascinating. Activity without end, but with no volition.”

“Spock!” He cried happily. “Spock, is that you? Can you hear me, sweetheart?”

“... Jim. Ashayam.”

Jim grinned, relief coursing through his veins like some kind of drug.

“Yes, Spock, I’m... I’m here, I’m right here.”

“Jim. There is a definite pleasurable experience connected with hearing your voice.”

Jim blinked, then laughed a little, blushing and shaking his head.

“D... Dammit, honey, you- you can’t say stuff like that right now.”

“And why not?”

“Because it makes me want to kiss you, and I can’t, and it’s... it’s kind of frustrating, y’know?”

“I do not understand. Why can you not kiss me at the moment?”

Jim’s grin fell, a cold feeling spreading in his stomach.

“I... it’s a little hard to explain, Spock, I... look, we’re coming to get you, alright?”

“A logical idea, as I am currently unable to move. Odd.”

Jim grimaced, then started heading down the hallway, running into the woman from before and two other people.

“You! What did you do? What did you do with his brain-?!”

The woman used the stun mechanism from before, and Jim was only able to hold out for a second before passing out. When he came to, he was sitting in a chair with a belt around his waist, as were the others save for Spock’s body.

“What are you?” The woman from before asked. “Why are you here?”

“Because...” Jim winced, then jabbed his thumb in Spock’s direction. “Because you took his brain, and we need it back. If we don’t, he’ll... he’ll die.”

“Ah, yes, brain. You spoke to Luma of brain as well, but we do not understand-!”

“I don’t know about this Luma girl, but you were on the Enterprise, and I know you took it!”

“I do not know these things you speak of.”

“You came to my ship and took the love of my life’s brain, dammit!”

“We know only here below and here above. This is our place. You are not Morg. You are stranger.”

“I saw you on my ship-!”

“Jim. I’m not sure she remembers that, or even knows. Disassociation could be complete, but... it doesn’t seem possible she could have performed surgery on Spock.”

Jim grimaced, then sighed, sitting back down.

“No, it... it doesn’t.”

“You hurt Luma. It is not permitted again to hurt anyone.”

“I... I’m sorry, Luma, I don’t... I don’t want to hurt anyone, but... Spock is important to me. Do you understand that?”

“No. If you wish to return to your home, you may go.”

Jim swallowed, then leaned in a bit, smiling as gently as he could right now.

“You know what? I think... I think we’d rather stay here and learn about you.”

“We would?” Bones asked.

“Yes, we would. We’ll also tell you of us. Right, Bones?”

“Uh... yes, for... for instance, above, it’s cold and harsh, and below, it’s warm.”

“The air’s fresh,” M’Benga added.

“Aye, there’s... there’s no sun, but there’s light!” Scotty commented.

“Yes, so... so we’d love to talk to whoever’s in charge here, if that’s okay?”

“In charge?”

“You know, uh... the people who tell you what to do?”

“I am leader. There is no other.”

“Well, who built the machines?” Scotty asked.

“Who are the doctors?” Bones added.

“Who operates?” M’Benga added.

“Who controls this complex?” Jim finished.

“Control...” Her face lit up. “Oh! Controller?”

“Yes! Yes, the controller! Who... who controls? I want to meet them-!”

“No! It is not permitted! Never! Controller is alone, apart! We serve Controller! No other is permitted near!”

“We intend no harm-!”

“You have come to destroy us!”

“No, no! I promise you, all we want is Spock’s brain back, and we’ll leave-!”

“Brain and brain, what is brain?!” She paused, then narrowed her eyes. “It is Controller, is it not?”

“Uh... yeah, it... it is. In a way, the Human brain controls the individual’s functions-!”

“Bones. M’Benga. Scotty. Spock’s... Spock’s brain controls...”

Bones’ eyes widened.

“You’re... you’re not saying...”

“Sweet lord,” M’Benga muttered.

Jim tried hamming it up once more, but she wasn’t having any of it, and Jim found himself knocked out once more. Once they woke up and knocked the guards out, Jim opened up his communicator.

“Spock? Spock, honey, can you hear me?”

Silence. Jim’s heart sank.

“Sweetheart, come on, please. I... I need you, please, you were on this frequency, come on-!”

“T’hy’la. I am still here.”

Jim let out a rather wet sigh of relief.

“Thank god, don’t... don’t scare me like that, angel, okay?”

“Jim, I am not a biblical creature typically depicted as a winged humanoid-!”

“Spock. Not now.”

“Yes, Jim. Have you returned to the Enterprise?”

“No, we’re... we’re still looking for you. We might be able to find you if you... do you have any idea what they’re using you for? Is it, is it medical?”

“I am uncertain. I seem to have a body which stretches into infinity.”

“Body? He ain’t got no body to begin with-!”

“Scotty,” Jim hissed, too late for Spock not to hear.

“What does he mean by that, Jim?”

Jim flinched, then swallowed hard.

“I... sweetheart, you’re... you’re kind of a disembodied brain right now.”

There was silence from both the comm and Spock’s end of the meld.

“... Fascinating,” Spock said just as a wave of emotion that could only be described as “what the actual fuck” came through their bond. “That explains some things. For instance, why I am unable to use any of my sense, yet my bond with Jim remains as strong as ever. I must be communicating through thought.”

Well not all of your thoughts, apparently. Are you okay?

“I am well, ashayam, I am simply... confused.”

Welp. That confirmed it.

“I am able to confirm that my brain is still operating as though it were still in my body. Signals are still being fired as though I still had nerves-!”

“Spock, that’s fascinating, really, but we super don’t have time, okay?”

“Why are you rushing so, Jim?”

“Because we have your body with us, and if your brain doesn’t get put back where it belongs, it will die, and as much as I love your mind, Spock, I also love the rest of you, and I...” Jim swallowed. “I can’t... I don’t want to lose you, Spock. I can’t lose you, not now.”

“Jim... while that is thoughtful, I am uncertain if it is practical. While I trust Dr. McCoy and Dr. M’Benga’s medical knowledge in most cases, I am uncertain if they have the medical knowledge necessary to replace a brain. No offense meant, doctors, it is simply that that skill does not yet exist in this galaxy.”

Bones snorted.

“I told your other half the same thing a thousand times, Spock.”

“Well the skill to remove it exists right where we are! Restoring it has to also be possible! I can’t... I’m not giving up, Spock.” He smiled wryly. “I don’t believe in no-win scenarios, remember?”

“Jim... you are impossible, but also quite dear to me.”

Jim grinned.

“Love you too, babe.”

Bones rolled his eyes as M’Benga and Scotty both cooed.

“I changed my mind, go back to being idiots,” Bones muttered.

“Not on your life. Spock, I’m going to find you one way or another, so are you gonna help or not?”

“... Very well. But I must insist, if it comes down to a choice between my life and your own-!”

“It’s not going to.” Jim swallowed hard. “I... I refuse to let you go that easily.”

“... Once again, you are impossible, Jim.”

Jim grinned, the affection he felt coming from Spock a clear sign that he was secretly really happy about Jim’s choice.

 


 

The world was hazy as Spock returned to consciousness. He was dimly aware that he had been speaking but a moment ago, but he could not quite recall what he had said.

“Spock...?”

Spock blinked as he sat up slightly, propping himself up with his elbow and turning to Jim.

Jim, whose eyes and cheeks were slightly wet.

Jim had been crying. This was unacceptable. Spock slowly reached up, cupping Jim’s cheek with his palm.

“T’hy’la,” he murmured. “I am here.”

A small sob escaped Jim’s lips, and then Spock was being kissed, his own face cradled in Jim’s hands. He could feel his mate’s relief and joy, as well as all the stress and fear he’d experienced in the past twenty-four hours.

“I was scared,” Jim whispered against his lips. “I was scared, I was so, so scared, I thought- I thought you were going to die and I’d never see you again-!”

“Ashayam,” he interrupted gently, brushing a lock of blond hair out of Jim’s eyes. “Never. I will never leave you, Jim. I am here.”

Jim smiled through his tears, then pressed his lips against Spock’s once more.

Then McCoy cleared his throat.

“So... I’m guessing you’re feeling alright, Spock?”

Jim laughed as he broke the kiss, wiping at his eyes and grinning up at McCoy.

“I am well, doctor, thank you.”

“Hell, I’m the one who should be thanking you, Spock. You’re the one guided me through that.”

“Indeed. This is a fascinating culture we have located, Jim. A remarkable example of a retrograde civilization, at the peak advanced beyond any of our capabilities, and now, operating at this primitive level, which you saw. And it all began thousands of years ago when a glacial age reoccurred. You see, this underground complex was developed for the women, the men remained above, and a male-female schism took place. A fascinating culture development of a kind-!”

McCoy let out a groan.

“Dammit, I knew I should never have done it!”

“Done what?” M’Benga asked.

“I should never have reconnected his mouth!”

Spock blinked, pursing his lips, and Jim laughed.

“It’s okay, honey, I like hearing you talk about stuff you find fascinating.” His mate grinned. “It’s really cute when you’re enthusiastic like this, y’know.”

Spock blinked, then blushed, then blushed even more when he realized that his body had... overreacted somewhat to that statement.

Jim blinked.

“Uh, Spock?”

“I... I apologize, Jim, it... it appears that some aspects of my nervous system and... hormonal regulation are still adjusting...”

“Aw.” Jim leaned in and kissed him softly. “You know I’m definitely gonna remember that, right?”

“Jim.”

“Okay, okay.” He grinned. “Now, what were you saying about this culture?”

“Ah, yes. It is a fascinating cultural development, the kind which hasn’t been seen in ages...”

Jim laughed again, leaning his head on Spock’s shoulder, which made him feel quite content.

Although he was still somewhat nervous as to the inevitable moment where they resumed their conversation from... yesterday morning at this point, at which point Spock would have to admit that...

Spock would have to admit to his total lack of experience when it came to sexual relations with a partner.

However, given Jim’s reaction to this entire endeavor, he was beginning to believe he had less to worry about than originally expected.

 


 

Jim’s heart was beating stupidly fast as he entered Spock’s quarters that night.

It did not help that Spock had changed back into his uniform pants, but wasn’t wearing his Science blues, just that short-sleeved black undershirt that showed off his arms.

“Hey,” he said quietly, pulling his boyfriend down for a kiss.

“Hello,” Spock replied, smiling just a little, the way he did when it was just him and Jim all alone.

A smile just for Jim. Oh, how he loved this Vulcan.

“So, uh...” Jim hesitated, putting a hand on Spock’s naked bicep. “Bones put you on twenty-four hours medical leave, huh?”

“Yes. The good doctor believes I should rest for a period before resuming my duties.”

Jim snorted, leaning his head against Spock’s shoulder.

“Yeah, I have to agree there... I was really scared, Spock.”

“I know, ashayam. I am sorry.”

“S’not your fault...” Jim blushed, biting his lip. “Did, uh... did Bones instruct you not to do anything else for a while? Like, uh... exercise?”

He could feel Spock blush- both physically thanks to their close proximity, and mentally thanks to their bond.

“Ah, well... he did inform me that I should not exercise heavily, but there is one activity he recommended I do with... with you.”

Jim’s heart skipped a beat.

“Y-Yeah?”

“Yes, he... he referenced forming a creature with two backsides, which I assume is a euphemism for... for sexual intercourse.”

Jim laughed, shaking his head as he looked up at Spock, then leaned up and kissed him once more. Like most of their kisses, it started off gentle enough, but quickly progressed- in less than a minute, Spock’s tongue was in his mouth, and Jim had pushed up the bottom of Spock’s undershirt and started rubbing circles into his hips.

“I,” Spock breathed against Jim’s lips as his hands slowly began moving southward from the small of his back, “I believe we... we should... should...”

“Bed?” Jim suggested before pressing a kiss to Spock’s jaw. He got a delightful little shudder out of him for his trouble.

“I believe that would be wise, yes.”

Jim grinned, then yelped as his boyfriend picked him up, laughing partially because Spock had decided to cup his ass while carrying him, and partially because he was just... really happy.

They landed on the bed in a heap, Spock’s lips pressing up against his neck and jaw, then his lips briefly before he he pulled away. Spock’s eye were wide, his chocolate-colored irises nearly completely obscured by wide, dark pupils. His hair was mussed, his cheeks and the tips of his ears a vibrant shade of green.

He looked good enough to eat.

“Well, Mr. Spock?” Jim purred, stretching out on the bed a bit. “You’ve got me where you want me. I’m all yours. Ravish me.”

Jim had kind of been expecting Spock to growl at that, or maybe shout “mine,” and then pin him to the bed before kissing the life out of him.

He hadn’t expected Spock’s eyes to widen impossibly further, or his mouth to close into a thin, worried line, or- and he was certain of it this time- his ears to droop.

Nor had he expected a wave of nervousness to flow through their bond. Jim blinked, moving his hands to cup Spock’s face.

“Hey, are you okay? You look a little freaked out.”

“V... Vulcans do not get freaked out, Jim.”

“Okay, well, what about Spocks?”

Spock winced almost imperceptibly, his ears drooping even more.

“I... that is, I...”

“Spock... look, if... if you don’t wanna do this-!”

Spock whimpered, leaning in and kissing Jim roughly as he slowly rolled their hips together. Jim gasped at the sensation, as well as the confirmation of just how badly Spock wanted this. He moaned against Spock’s lips as he reached up to tangle his fingers in his boyfriend’s hair, rocking his hips up against Spock’s.

The kiss broke shortly after that, though only so Spock could take Jim’s uniform top off without tearing the damn thing off- although thanks to their bond, he could tell that he’d considered it, deciding against it only because Jim had already torn so many shirts at this point. Before Jim could protest that thought, Spock’s lips were on his again, and he got distracted by the way their erections slid together through their pants.

Which, frankly, were getting a little restrictive. So Jim decided to take some initiative, reaching between them to get at Spock’s fly, and maybe tease the bulge between his legs a little.

Again, his expectations were not met. He’d been expecting Spock to gasp, maybe moan a little and jerk into the touch.

What happened instead was Spock whimpering and jerking away from the touch, and away from Jim entirely. Jim blinked, then frowned as he looked up at his boyfriend, who was now sitting next to Jim on the bed, panting and staring down.

“Okay, Spock, what’s the matter?”

Spock blushed, shaking his head.

“I... n-nothing is, there is nothing-!”

“Spock. I can feel how nervous you are through our bond.” Jim bit his lip, then sighed as he sat up. “Honey. If you don’t want to do this-!”

“It is not that I do not want to have sex with you!” Spock blurted out, blushing even more and turning away. “I... I very much want to... I simply... I am...”

“... You’re what?” Jim prompted, putting a hand on Spock’s knee. “Spock, what is it?”

“I... I...” Spock swallowed, bouncing his leg slightly. “It... it is difficult for me to admit this.”

“Admit what? Come on, I’m sure it’s fine.”

“It is... it is somewhat embarrassing.”

Jim smiled a little.

“I’m sure it’s not. I mean, it’s not like you’re a virgin or some-!”

Spock made a choked sound, his face flooding green as he hunched over slightly.

Jim’s eyes widened.

“W-Wait, are... are you a virgin?”

Spock whimpered, bringing up his legs and curling into himself.

“... yes.”

“... oh.”

Oh. Oh, wow.

Well. Jim couldn’t say he’d been expecting this. In terms of things he’d been expecting when it came to having sex with Spock, his boyfriend being nearly thirty-one and still a virgin ranked somewhere between “tentacles are involved somehow” and “it’s actually another hand down there,” meaning that he had really not been expecting this.

Although, maybe he should have. After all, Spock had been engaged to a woman since he was seven, and since he was gay he was probably not having sex with her at any point. Plus, he vaguely remembered T’Vin mentioning that most Vulcans were a little weird about sex outside of bonded pairs- which he guessed was kinda like abstinence until marriage or whatever. And well, the poor guy did tend to pop boners a lot when they were kissing, and then get so flustered Jim would start giggling and the mood would be ruined.

Okay. So it was a little obvious in hindsight.

“Jim?”

“Eh?”

Spock was looking at him again, although most of his face was obscured by his shoulder. Those brown eyes of his were clearly visible, though, and... and he looked scared.

“Are... are you upset with me?”

Jim blinked.

“What?”

“Are you upset that I did not inform you of this earlier? I... I realize that this is perhaps... not an ideal scenario, but... I...” Spock sighed. “No, I do not have a logical reason for this, I... I was afraid.”

Jim’s heart sank a little.

“You were... Spock, did you think I’d reject you over this?”

Spock didn’t speak for a moment, and Jim feared the worst.

“Spock-!”

“P... Prior to learning the true depths of your affections for me, I was concerned that my lack of experience may repulse you, which was part of the reason I did not dare tell you the truth. However, now that I am aware of how much you care for me, I have since decided that a total rejection would be a highly unlikely response, but... you may have been somewhat put off at the prospect of sleeping with a virgin.”

“What? Sweetheart, why would you think that?”

“... Because you are much more experienced than I am. For example, your relationship with T’Vin was tantamount to a one-night stand, was it not?”

Jim blushed a bit.

“Uh, well... it was more like a one- week stand, but yeah.”

“Indeed. From the way you spoke about her, I assumed that she was not the first, or the only, person you had a sexual relationship with, nor the first or only person you had casual sex with. In addition... you recall that you allowed me access to your medical files after Kodos?”

“Yeah, why?”

“I am unsure if you are aware of this, but your medical history contains a somewhat lengthy section on various sexually transmitted infections you have contracted and been cured of, some of which I had not thought Humans could contract.”

Jim blinked, then blushed all the way up to the roots of his hair.

“Uh... well... okay, so maybe I slept around a lot when I was younger... you’re, um, you’re not mad about that, are you? Cause, well, that’s definitely gonna be an issue if you’re-!”

“We did not even know each other until two years ago, Jim. It would be illogical to object to something long in the past, and even then, we have only been romantically involved for three point two two weeks, which would make it illogical for me to object to you having sex with anyone else before then. In addition, since the last STI you contracted was cured seven point two eight years ago, I assume there is no danger in... in having sexual relations with you.” Spock glanced up at him. “Unless there is something you should speak to Dr. McCoy about?”

Jim laughed, shaking his head.

“Uh, no, I’m, I’m clean, although...” He cleared his throat, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. “That’s, er... that’s not really because I started being more careful, um... I kinda have something to tell you too.”

Spock blinked, sitting up slightly.

“I am certain that it will not be the same thing I have confessed to.”

“Considering that I have a kid who’s clearly mine, no, but... it’s a little bit similar. You see, um... I’ve kind of been in a dry spell.”

Spock blinked again, then arched an eyebrow.

“I am unfamiliar with that term.”

“It... it means that I haven’t had sex in a while. Like, a long while.”

“... Exactly how long has it been since the last time you had sexual contact with someone?”

“With someone who wasn’t myself?” Jim cleared his throat, flushing slightly. “... the vast majority of my daughter’s life.”

Spock blinked, his eyebrow rising to meet the other.

“... Elaborate.”

Jim flushed even more.

“I... look, the last time I had sex was two days before T’Vin dropped Alice off at my mom’s house, okay?”

“You... you have gone over seven years without engaging in sexual relations?”

“Yup. To be fair, I didn’t actually realize it until... well... you, uh, you remember the pleasure planet we had shore leave on two years ago?”

“I remember seeing you kissing a shirtless version of myself there in the first meld we shared on the Enterprise-B.”

Jim squawked, glancing at Spock and flushing when he saw his arched eyebrow.

“Ah-heh, well... the thing about that is, is, uh... okay, confession time, I kinda started crushing on you after the whole Kodos thing and the pleasure planet is kinda where the overwhelming lust part came in. Shirtless fake-you was actually a product of me realizing that I hadn’t sex in almost five years at that point while making out with fake-T’Vin, then thinking that my crush on you was misplaced lust for her and... well, there you were.” He grinned sheepishly. “I was pretty wrong about that, by the way, turns out I genuinely had the hots for you.”

Spock flushed, although he could see his lips twitch up into a smile. Jim grinned back, then scooted a bit closer to him.

“So... you feeling any better now?”

“I... yes, a bit. It is something of a relief to know that you have not engaged in coitus for an extended period of time, although... I am still a bit concerned that I will not live up to your sexual standards.”

“Oh, Spock.” Jim sighed, then smiled, scooting even closer so that they were sitting shoulder to shoulder. “Look, you really don’t have anything to worry about there. Sure, I used to have, like, a lot of sex, but it wasn’t... it wasn’t really intimate, you know?”

“Jim, I remind you, I am still a virgin. I do not know.”

Jim laughed, resting his head on Spock’s shoulder.

“I mean that it was... it was fast, and rough, and hard, and while the idea of doing that with you has spawned a few fantasies, you know what I really want to do with you?”

Spock was blushing again as he shook his head. Jim smiled, leaning over and kissing Spock’s cheek.

“I want to be gentle. I want to take my time, learn what makes you tick, memorize every inch of you. I want to say sappy shit and laugh and... and have sex in the missionary position, which by the way is something I haven’t really done since I was a virgin.” He moved his lips to Spock’s, pressing gently. “I’ve... god, this is gonna sound cheesy, but... I’ve had a lot of sex, but what I want to do with you is make love.”

“Jim,” Spock breathed, leaning into Jim and pushing him onto his back before kissing him. Jim laughed against his lips, wrapping his arms around Spock’s neck and spreading his legs, allowing Spock to settle between them. Spock pulled away after a moment, a small smile gracing his lips.

“So,” Jim started lowly, “do you still wanna do it, or...?”

Spock blushed a bit, glancing to the side.

“I... I would like to... to touch you and be touched sexually, but I... I do not believe I am entirely emotionally prepared for... penetrative intercourse.”

Jim smiled, leaning up and kissing him gently.

“That’s okay. Hell, it’s probably for the best, I’m willing to bet that you don’t have any lube, which means I’d have to go into my quarters and get the bottle from my nightstand, and even if Alice didn’t hear me it would probably still kinda put a damper on the mood.”

“Indeed.”

He laughed, then pushed on Spock’s shoulders until he sat up, guiding him back onto the pillows.

“So. Since this is your first time, I think I’ll give you a handjob. How’s that sound?”

Spock blinked, then turned bright green once more.

“I-! I, you, you do not have to-!”

“You kidding? Spock, I’ve thought about doing literally everything I can think of to you, multiple times. I wanna jerk you off.”

Spock’s lips were pressed into a thin line again, and he was glancing around nervously. Jim sighed.

“Is there something else you’re nervous about?”

“It... it is not quite as pressing as my, my lack of experience, but...” Spock’s Adam’s apple bobbed a bit. “My... my genitals may not be exactly what you are expecting.”

Jim blinked, then arched an eyebrow, glancing at the rather obvious bulge in Spock’s slacks.

“That looks like a dick to me, Spock.”

“Y-You, you misunderstand, I... while I do have a, a penis, it... it does not exactly resemble a Human’s.” He blushed. “Or a Vulcan’s.”

Jim blinked again.

“What, so it’s... it’s something in between?”

“Y-Yes... it may look... strange to you, and since you are the first person who will see me like this, I... I have no metric by which to gauge your response.”

Jim smiled gently, moving up and kissing Spock again.

“Sweetheart, I’ve seen some odd dicks in my day. And vaginas. And some stuff that really doesn’t count as either. Whatever you have, it’s probably not even gonna be a blip on my weirdness radar. Besides, I love you, so even if you have, like, a puzzle dick or something, I’d be more than happy to do as much exploration as necessary to make sure you feel good.”

Spock still looked a little nervous, but smiled, settling back onto the pillows. Jim grinned, kissing him once more before finally- finally- unbuttoning his pants. He pulled them down, tracing a line down from the tip of the bulge before slowly tugging them off.

It was at that point that Jim’s eyes went wide.

“Jesus fuck, Spock, how do you walk around with that hanging between your legs all the time?”

Spock blinked, looking adorably confused.

“I do not understand what that means.”

“I mean that you’re hung like a horse!”

More blank looks.

“You’re big, Spock.”

“I am rather average for a Vulcan.”

“Average-! Jesus, okay, I totally get why your mom married your dad now.”

Spock blinked before a look of absolute disgust passed over his features, his erection wilting slightly.

“Jim. I do not wish to think of my parents copulating at this time. Or ever.”

Jim snickered, grinning sheepishly.

“Aw, sorry... does it help if I tell you that this is definitely gonna have to go in my ass at some point?”

Spock blushed, his cock stiffening right back to attention. Jim grinned, leaning over and kissing him again.

“Like that idea, huh?”

“I... Jim, please, I... I would very much like you to touch me now...”

“Hm...” Jim moved back, crouching down so that his face was near Spock’s length. “Gimme a minute.”

“Jim-!”

“Oh, alright, Mr. Impatient, here.” Gently, Jim grasped the base of Spock’s cock, stroking slowly. His boyfriend cried out, shivering a bit. “Now shush, I wanna look at this thing I’ve been lusting after for two years.”

And lord, was it ever worth the wait. Spock’s dick was flushed a deep emerald green, much like the rest of him at the moment. It was a good bit longer than Jim’s too, but Jim’s was still thicker. There was also the matter of the head- it looked mostly like a circumcised Human cock, but with the addition of a second ridge under the normal glans, which Jim was sure was going to feel amazing once Spock finally fucked him-!

“A-Ah...”

“Hm? Oh, um, sorry, sweetheart, was that too much?”

Spock was panting a little as he shook his head.

“N-No, it is... I simply... the idea is, is very arousing...”

Jim laughed, grinning a little.

“Yeah, that one’s gotten me going a lot too... want me to move my hand a little faster?”

Spock whimpered, then nodded.

“Okay. Uh, hang on a sec.”

He could feel Spock’s curiosity as he withdrew his hand, which only grew when he licked it.

“Just, trust me, this’ll feel better if it’s not dry,” Jim explained as he gripped Spock around the base of his cock again. Spock seemed to want to protest, but as soon as Jim started moving his hand again, whatever he wanted to say seemed to die in his throat, a guttural moan escaping his lips as his head lolled back. Jim’s own neglected cock twitched in his pants, and he had to resist the urge to touch himself as he went back to inspecting Spock’s magnificent piece.

Outside of the head, Spock’s cock looked pretty Human, although there was a pretty big difference at the very base of it, where his balls were.

Or, rather, where his balls should have been. They weren’t under his cock, which seamlessly blended into his taint. Instead, they kind of stuck out on either side of his dick, not touching, and while Jim thought every single part of Spock was gorgeous and perfect, he did have to admit that his boyfriend’s testicles were a little disproportionately small-!

“They... they are not, oh, they are not disproportionate, mm...”

Jim blinked, looking up at Spock, then looking away because quite frankly the guy looked like he was about two seconds from losing it and Jim didn’t want to come in his pants like a teenager.

“Uh, um, I... I hate to tell you this, babe, but with a dick as long as yours, your balls should be a little bigger than, than that...”

“Th-They are... Vul-! Hah!” Spock bit his lip, closing his eyes as he tangled his fists in the sheets. “J... Jim... Vulcan... Vulcans have internal testes...”

Jim blinked before his eyes widened in realization.

“Oh! Oh, you mean... so yours are like, partially internal?”

“They, they are mostly internal...”

“Huh. Does it hurt?”

Spock blinked.

“I do not experience any pain in my testicles unless-!” Spock whimpered. “U-Unless something is, is wrong...”

“No, I mean, does it hurt when you touch them?”

Spock blinked once more.

“Why would I touch my testicles?”

“Uh, because it feels nice? Here, let me show you-!”

The second Jim’s free hand made contact with Spock’s left testicle, his boyfriend all but howled, arching up off the bed. He fell back quickly when Jim removed his hand, whimpering a little.

“Uh... so is that a no on pain?”

“It... it does not hurt, but... if, if you touch me there again, I...”

He blushed, and Jim grinned.

“Getting close, huh?”

“I... I will most likely reach orgasm soon, yes...”

Jim smiling, shifting around so that he could kiss Spock while still working his dick.

“Alright. Don’t hold back, then.”

To his surprise, Spock shook his head.

“I... it has only been a-approximately, ah, f-five minutes since, since you began your ministrations...”

“That’s actually pretty good for a first time.” He leaned in, kissing him gently as he stroked him a little faster. “Come on, Spock, let it out. I wanna see the face you make when you come, I’ve been thinking about it for so, so long...”

“I... I...”

Jim slowed his hand down, loosening his grip so he could brush his palm against Spock’s right testicle. Spock’s eyes snapped open as he let out a little gasp, his face contorting slightly before his mouth finally fell open in pleasure, letting out a loud moan that quickly turned into a scream.

Dear lord. Spock was a screamer. Jim’s wet dreams could never compare to that reality.

He grinned as Spock’s hips rocked up into his hand, glancing down to see... nothing.

Well, not nothing, exactly- Spock’s cock was twitching like he was coming, but he wasn’t ejaculating. Jim frowned, squeezing it a little as he began to stroke again- maybe he just needed a little more in order to come-!

“Kr... Kroykah, kroykah, Jim, sanu, it- it hurts-!”

Jim immediately released his boyfriend’s length, his eyes wide as he looked at Spock, who was currently shaking from overstimulation.

“Oh, shit, sweetheart, I’m- I’m so sorry, I didn’t-! I didn’t mean to hurt you, I just-!”

“Jim,” Spock gasped, shaking his head. “Jim, stop... please do not speak for a moment, I...”

Jim blinked, then nodded, settling in next to a shivering Spock. His own neglected dick ached with need, but he ignored it, instead watching as his boyfriend’s breathing gradually slowed back down.

“M’sorry,” Jim murmured quietly. “I, I didn’t mean to hurt you, I just... nothing happened, so I thought that maybe you hadn’t...”

“I... I would hardly call the most powerful orgasm of my life nothing, Jim...”

Jim blinked, looking up at Spock with raised eyebrows.

“Wait, really?”

Spock smiled tiredly, turning over and kissing Jim lightly.

“Yes.”

“But... but you didn’t, y’know...”

Spock looked at him blankly.

“I do not know. What are you speaking of?”

“You... you didn’t... well, nothing came out.”

Spock blinked, then actually chuckled a little.

“Ah, I see. My apologies, Jim, I... I thought you knew.”

“Knew what?”

“While Vulcans with penises are able to experience orgasm so long as the genitals receive proper stimulation, we do not ejaculate outside of penetrative sex.” He blushed. “With... with the exception of prostate stimulation, of course.”

“Oh.” Jim grinned up at him. “Welp, guess that means I’m gonna have to finger you if I want to fulfill my fantasy of you coming down my throat, huh?”

Spock blinked, then blushed even more.

“I... th-that is, um. I am uncertain if Vulcan... if Vulcan ejaculate is safe for Human consumption.”

“Eh, don’t worry, I’ll just ask Ambassador Spock.”

This only seemed to make Spock blush more.

“Jim.”

“What? He and his Jim were married, Spock, you really think they never got down and dirty? Besides, the only other Human married to a Vulcan we both know is your mom, and I dunno about you, but I think I’d be happier not knowing if she has the answer to that-!”

Spock’s hand snaked its way between them, squeezing Jim’s still clothed cock and effectively derailing his train of thought. He moaned, thrusting up into those maddening fingers.

“S-Spock...”

“I believe it is your turn, ashayam.”

“I... y-you just finished, you’re probably-!”

“Jim. I have wanted to touch you this way for well over a year now. Please, allow me this.”

Jim’s face felt like it was on fire, and he felt himself nod. In a period of time that felt both like a split-second and an eternity, his pants and underwear were gone, and Spock’s wonderful, soft hand was wrapped around his cock.

“Fascinating,” Spock murmured as he started to stroke. “I am curious about something, Jim.”

“Uh... uh-huh?” It was a little hard to concentrate with Spock’s thumb working his frenulum like that.

“I have read that while for a long period in American history, it was routine to circumcise all children born with penises save for those parents who decided to opt out, by the twenty-second century most parents chose not to circumcise save for those who did for religious reasons.” Spock squeezed his dick, and Jim whimpered. “Is that true in your case?”

“I... My... my dad’s family’s Jewish, yeah... god, just like that...”

“I see. By stating that your father’s family is Jewish, though, do you mean to say that you are not-?”

“Spock. I love you, really, really I do, but I’m like, stupid close to coming and I really don’t wanna have a conversation about religion right now!”

Spock chuckled, bastard that he was.

“I assure you, Jim, my parents were married at the time of my birth.”

“Oh, you fucking know what I-! Hahn!”

Jesus Christ, he was teasing the slit of his cock so perfectly, how did even know to do that-?

“Touch telepathy, t’hy’la.” He leaned in, kissing Jim gently. “Are you about to climax-?”

“Yes,” Jim hissed, rocking up against Spock’s hand. “Yes, fuck, I’m so close, god, god, I love you, I love you so much, I wanna come so bad, Spock, please, please-!”

Spock squeezed just a little, and that was it- Jim was gone, crying out and rutting up against Spock’s fingers as he spilled over them. The world went white, narrowing down to just Jim and Spock and those cool, long fingers wrapped around him, working him through his orgasm gently. He was vaguely aware of Spock hushing him, but he couldn’t force himself to be quiet- he wasn’t exactly a screamer like Spock, but “Jim Kirk is loud in bed” was a pretty well-known fact back in Riverside.

They should probably request for Scotty to soundproof both of their quarters.

“Soundproofing is logical, but that is a rather odd thought to have after one has just had an orgasm,” Spock commented before pressing a kiss to Jim’s forehead. Jim giggled tiredly.

“Well, we’re both loud, so I don’t wanna... wake the neighbors or whatever... or Alice, Alice would be so much worse.”

“Indeed,” Spock agreed before he turned over and got out of bed. Jim whined, reaching for him.

“No, come back, I wanna cuddle...”

“I am simply going to the bathroom to get a towel, t’hy’la,” Spock explained as he pulled his pants back up. “I will be but a minute, and then I will hold you all you like.”

Jim yawned, snuggling into the pillow.

“M’kay... but hurry, cause I dunno if... if I can stay awake too long...”

Spock smiled, promising to do so before going into the bathroom. Jim sighed, his eyes drooping as sleep threatened to claim him.

“Thus ends my dry spell...” he murmured tiredly.

And what an end it was. He hadn’t come like that since, well... since that first time he’d jerked off while thinking about Spock.

“I am pleased to know that I have caused you to have two very powerful orgasms, Jim,” Spock commented as he walked out of the bathroom, towel in hand. “Even if in the first case, I was unaware I had done so.”

Jim blushed, rolling his eyes.

“Oh, hush, I know you’ve thought about me while jerking it before.”

Spock flushed as he got back into bed, pulling back the sheets and turning Jim over to clean up the drops of cum that had landed on his thighs.

“I... I have thought of you the few times I have masturbated, yes.”

“Ha! See, not so high and mighty now, are-!” Jim blinked. “Wait, the... the few times you’ve...? Spock, are you saying you never masturbated before you met me?”

“That is incorrect.”

Jim let out a sigh of relief.

“My first masturbatory experience was the night after my pon farr ended, because that was the point where my sexual attraction to you solidified.”

“Okay, what,” Jim said, sitting up slightly. “Spock, are you seriously saying that you didn’t have an orgasm until you were thirty?”

Spock flushed.

“I... most Vulcans do not experience orgasm until their or their bondmate’s first pon farr, as we are able to will away sexual arousal through meditation. In addition, Vulcans do not experience... nocturnal emissions.”

Jim quirked an eyebrow- that was way too specific not to be carefully worded.

“And what about Spocks? Do they experience nocturnal emissions?”

Spock turned bright green, clearing his throat as he put the towel onto the nightstand and laid down next to Jim.

“... they do.”

Jim laughed, snuggling into his boyfriend’s chest.

“Well, if it helps, I’ve had quite a few myself. Matter of fact, there’s one I’ve had so many times that I’ve kinda memorized it. It’s me and you, and we’re in this bed. I’m riding you, and then you-!”

“Then I flip us over and begin thrusting into you much harder...?”

Jim blinked, looking up at his boyfriend.

“Uh... yeah, actually. I haven’t told you this already, have I?”

“You... you have not.” Spock looked a little stunned. “Jim, I... I have also had that dream. That is the dream I had the night after my Time ended, which was shortly... which was shortly after our bond began forming.”

Jim’s heart skipped a beat.

“Wait, you... you don’t think...?”

“It... it is not unheard of for bondmates to share dreams... or be able to participate in them.”

Jim grinned, snickering and shaking his head.

“Man, shoulda guessed something was up. I’d had that dream a thousand times before, and you’d never needed to be told you could come inside before.” He leaned up, kissing his boyfriend gently. “Which, by the way? Giving enthusiastic consent for you to do when you fuck me.”

Spock turned a very cute shade of green, and Jim laughed, pausing when a thought occurred to him.

“Hey... you used a lot of pet names in that dream. I know what ashayam and t’hy’la mean, but what about the last one? Started with a ‘kuh’ sound?”

Spock blushed again.

“It... it is a term from old Vulcan, one that has fallen out of favor due to the emotional connotations... k’hat’n’dlawa means ‘half of my heart and soul.’”

Jim blinked, then grinned, a flush blooming in his cheeks.

“Aw, Spock, you big softie. Oh, just so you know, the pet names do stuff for me, which I’m as surprised about as anyone, so feel free to-!”

“Jim.”

“Yeah?”

“It is late. Go to sleep.”

“Aw, but I wanna-!”

“Sleep, ashayam.”

Jim grumbled, settling into sleep against his Vulcan.

“Fine, fine... Spock?”

“Jim, please-!”

“I love you.”

Spock was quiet for a moment before Jim felt a pair of lips pressed into his hair.

“I love you as well. Now sleep.”

Jim drifted off with a smile on his face.

 


 

2260.342

After being a starship captain for a few years, and the father of a half-Vulcan child for a few more, Jim would have said that not much could faze him.

However, a bunch of kids playing “Ring around the Rosie” with him a few feet from the bodies of their parents was not something the Academy or fatherhood had prepared him for.

They were a lot more solemn once they’d buried their parents, but- and here was the weird part- none of them seemed particularly upset. Even the youngest of them, who couldn’t be more than six years old, didn’t shed a single tear when faced with the graves of her mothers. In fact, once the flag was in the ground, the kids all tore off and started playing again.

“I’m no stranger to unhealthy coping mechanisms, Bones, but this seems... weird,” Jim commented as the kids started playing tag.

“I’m not sure it is a coping mechanism, Jim. They’re not showing any of the physiological signs of grief- it’s as if they’re completely unaffected by the fact that their parents are dead. They’re not afraid either. They’re as happy as any kid their ages should be.”

“Maybe it’s traumatic shock?”

“Possible, but I’m not sure.”

“Humans do have an amazing capacity for believing what they choose and excluding that which is painful,” Spock stated.

“Spock, I’ve seen a...” Jim swallowed, trying not to think about Tarsus. “I’ve seen a lot of traumatized kids before. Some of them did try to pretend things were okay, but not... not like this. It’s... it’s incredible.”

“What those kids saw was incredible, Jim. The way those deaths occurred, any reaction is possible, including lacunar amnesia.” Bones shrugged. “That’s my preliminary diagnosis, anyway. I’ll need to do some tests to be sure.”

Jim sighed, glancing back at the kids.

“Well... what about questioning them?”

“I wouldn’t try right now. They’re still too raw from this, some of them probably haven’t even fully realized what’s going on. Or they’re just... oblivious.” Bones sighed. “Swear to god, I may end up going down in history as the doctor who had to deal with the weirdest crap ever.”

“Alright, well... I don’t feel right about just leaving them here. Spock, call up the ship and tell them to prep five guest quarters for the kids.” He turned to the kids. “Hey, kids! It’s getting late, we need to head in now.”

“Aww...” they all groaned.

“But we don’t wanna go in yet!” The little girl- Mary, Jim remembered- protested.

“I know you don’t, sweetpea, but it’s getting dark. Look, I have a little girl of my own up on our ship, and I’m sure that once Dr. McCoy is done examining you, she’d love to play with you guys.”

The kids seemed excited about that, chattering happily as they followed Bones to be beamed up.

“Whatever happened here is locked up inside those kids,” Jim murmured.

“Yes. The attack on Dr. Starnes and his party must have been unprovoked.”

Jim blinked, looking at his boyfriend with an arched eyebrow.

“Attack? It looks more like a mass suicide.”

“That was my initial thought as well, Jim, but I believe ‘induced’ is a more accurate modifier. The party was coerced by an external force to kill themselves.”

“Like what?”

“Bacteria, perhaps. Or there may have been a pattern of mental health issues amongst the party that were exacerbated by extended isolation. Of course, such a state may also have been chemically induced.”

“Well, what would make the kids immune?”

“I do not know, but it is possible.”

“They... they could have been exempted by conscious design, right? Like, whoever did this decided not to off the kids?”

“That is a possibility, yes.”

“So their present behavior could be because they’re scared of whatever did this?”

“Or because they were promised a reward.”

“But this planet is uninhabited, right?”

“To the best of our knowledge, yes.” Spock’s tricorder blinked, and he furrowed his brow when he looked at it. “Odd.”

“What?”

“There appears to be some sort of disturbance coming from that cave.”

Jim frowned, following his boyfriend into the cave. Spock told him that while he was getting some lifeform-like readings, they weren’t humanoid, which was weird.

What was also weird was the sudden sense of dread that struck Jim.

“S... Spock, uh, is... is this place giving you the heebie-jeebies too?”

“I do not know what that is, Jim.”

“It’s- it’s like, is it creeping you out too?”

“No.”

Despite the way that anxiety was bubbling up in his gut, Jim managed to roll his eyes.

“Right, wrong question- I know Vulcans don’t get creeped out, but what about Spocks-?”

“Jim. I do not feel any sense of anxiety at this time.” Spock arched an eyebrow, looking concerned. “Are you well, ashayam? You have turned quite pale.”

“I... I don’t know, I just... I feel like something’s gonna jump out and kill me any second, I... m-maybe that’s what registering on your tricorder?”

“Jim, while I am familiar with both the sensation and the disorder of anxiety, I do not believe that is possible.”

“I... yeah, yeah, you’re right, it’s just... just me and my stupid, fucked-up brain I guess.” Jim blinked. “Wait, what? Where did that...?”

“Jim? Jim, you are shaking.”

“I...” Bile was rising up in Jim’s throat, and he covered his mouth. “Oh, fuck.”

Before Spock could respond to that, Jim bolted out of the cave, keeping his mouth clamped shut as best he could before-!

The second he was out of the cave, the urge to vomit was gone, as was the overwhelming anxiety screaming in his brain. He blinked, slowly standing back up as his boyfriend exited the cave.

“Jim, are you well?”

“I... yeah, I’m... I’m fine. That... that was weird.” He cleared his throat. “Must... must just have been a sympathetic reaction to, uh, to what happened here.”

“Ashayam, if you are not feeling well-!”

“No, Spock, I mean it, I’m fine. Just... confused. Let’s... let’s just get back to the ship. I wanna check those tapes out, and I think I really should question those kids...”

 


 

“Daddy!”

Jim laughed as his daughter ran up to him, kneeling down for a hug.

“Hey, buttercup! Did you meet the other kids?”

“Uh-huh! Christine gave us ice cream, too!” Alice made a face. “She wouldn’t let me have chocolate, though.”

“That’s cause chocolate makes Vulcans sick, angel.” Jim looked up at Chapel, quirking an eyebrow. “Also, you gave them ice cream?”

Chapel grinned sheepishly.

“I thought it would make them happy, sir.”

“It did!” One of the kids- Stevie, Jim was pretty sure- called. “I like her, she’s great!”

Jim laughed again, shaking his head.

“Alright, I guess I’ll defer to your expertise, nurse.”

Chapel smiled at him again, something for which Jim was grateful. He’d been kind of worried that she’d hate him now that he and Spock were dating, but she’d been as happy for them as anyone else.

Of course, Jim had also seen the way she and Bones were glancing at each other when they thought the other wasn’t looking, so it was possible that her crush on Spock was a sailed ship at this point.

“Well, since you’re all having so much fun, I think I’ll join you!” Jim said cheerfully as he let Alice go.

“Please do!” The oldest, a red-haired boy of twelve named Tommy, said before taking another bite of his ice cream.

Jim laughed as he sat down next to Alice, who had happily returned to devouring her strawberry ice cream. Chapel brought him a small dish of vanilla, and he thanked her.

“This is a lot better than being on Triacus, huh?”

“That dirty old planet?” Don, a Black boy around Alice’s age, muttered.

“What’s so good about that place?” Ray, a Filipino boy of around nine, asked.

“Yeah!” Stevie agreed.

“You weren’t there very long, you don’t know,” Mary explained.

“I don’t think Daddy liked being there much either,” Alice commented. “He got real scared right before he and Papa left.”

“Alice,” Jim hissed, blushing a little.

“What? You were scared, Daddy, I could feel it!”

“How’d you do that?” Tommy asked.

Alice pointed at her ears.

“I’m a Vulcan. Me and Daddy have a mental link, so we can feel each other’s feelings and talk to each other in our heads. Daddy and Papa can too, but that’s cause they just got married.”

The kids gasped excitedly.

“Mazel tov!” Tommy told Jim before returning to his ice cream.

“Wh- W-We’re not married, we’re bonded! It’s different!”

“But bonding is how Vulcans get married, Daddy,” Alice pointed out. “Mr. Ambassador told me so.”

Goddammit, old Spock.

“It’s- it’s still an early bond, buttercup, it’s not a- a marriage yet.”

Alice quirked an eyebrow.

“But you act like you’re married.”

“We do not!”

“Do you spend lots of time together?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you kiss?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you love Papa lots and lots?”

“Of course I do.”

“Do you sleep in the same bed?”

Jim blushed a little, clearing his throat.

“Y... Yeah.”

“Do you wanna spend the rest of your life with him?”

“More than anything.”

“And is Papa gonna become my papa for real the next time we go to New Vulcan?”

Jim smiled.

“Yup.”

“You’re married,” Alice concluded. “Just cause nobody wore a wedding dress doesn’t mean you’re not married.”

“Why would either of them wear a wedding dress?” Ray asked. “They’re both boys!”

“Boys can wear dresses if they want to, Ray!” Mary pointed out.

“Well, I don’t wanna wear a dress,” Jim muttered, unwilling to admit that Alice had proved her point. “Still, uh... I bet your parents didn’t like it there much either, huh?”

“Yes they did,” Tommy responded.

“Yeah, mine sure did.”

“Parents like stupid things!” Don concluded.

“Oh, well I don’t know about that,” Chapel said gently. “Parents like children.”

Mary snorted.

“That’s what you think.”

Jim frowned, sitting up slightly.

“I’m sure your parents loved you very much, Mary. That’s why they took you with them to Triacus.” He put an arm around Alice. “So they wouldn’t have to be so far away from you for such a long time. They would have missed you too much. And... and I’m sure that you’d miss them, right?”

The children looked at him blankly, save for Alice, who looked rather concerned about her new friends’ behavior.

“Bizzy!” Tommy suddenly started. “Bizzy, bizzy, bizzy!’

The kids suddenly started laughing for no reason, again save for a very confused Alice.

“What? What’s so funny?” She looked up at Jim. “Daddy, I don’t get it, what’s the joke?”

“I... I don’t know...”

The kids got up, leaving their ice cream behind to go run off and play in the back of the arboretum.

“Guess what we are!” Don asked Chapel excitedly as they all ran around.

“Uh... oh! I get it, you’re a swarm of bees!”

“Yeah!” Mary started waving. “Come on, Alice! Come and play with us!”

“Okay!” Alice called back before getting up. She shrugged at Jim as she walked away, then turned and ran to join the rest of them.

Jim frowned, getting up and walking over to Chapel’s side.

“Watch out!” Mary shouted as she charged at Jim. “I’m gonna sting you!”

Jim caught her easily, blinking in confusion as she started poking his face.

“I’m stinging you! Buzz, buzz!”

“Hey, don’t sting my daddy!” Alice protested. “He’s allergic to bee stings! And pollen. And tree nuts, but not peanuts, which is good cause I like peanut butter-!”

“Now, just-!” Jim caught Mary’s “stinging” hand by her wrist. “Just hold on a second-!”

“Can we have some more ice cream, please?” Tommy asked, blinking expectantly.

“No, uh, it’ll... it’ll spoil your dinner.”

Tommy scoffed.

“See what I told ya? They all say it.”

“Yeah,” Mary agreed, glaring at Jim. Jim swallowed, putting her down.

“Okay, kids, you’ve... you’ve had a busy day, yeah? Why don’t you get some rest?”

They all protested, but eventually allowed Chapel to lead them away, although Jim asked Tommy to stay behind. Alice looked a little concerned, but left after a moment to go do her homework.

“Tommy,” Jim started once they sat down, “will you tell me what you saw?”

“Saw where?”

“In the cave. On the planet, on... Triacus.”

“You were there.”

Jim frowned.

“Did you see your father today?”

“Yeah.”

“Did he seem upset?”

“Yeah, he was very upset.”

“About what?”

“How should I know? What am I, my father’s keeper?”

Jim bit back a groan.

“Well, what was going on that might have upset him?”

“I dunno. He was always upset, just like you, Captain Kirk.”

Jim blinked.

“I’m... I’m not upset with you, Tommy. Look, I...” Jim sighed. “I get that this whole thing must be hard for you. I... I went through something kind of similar when I was a little older than you are now. I just want to help. Besides, we invited you here, I let you and your friends play with my own daughter. Why would we do that if we didn’t like you?”

Tommy shrugged.

“You have your reasons.”

“Tommy... Tommy, aren’t you upset about leaving Triacus?”

“That dump? No way, that’s for adults!”

“Well, what about your parents? Aren’t you upset about them? About leaving them?”

“My parents? They love it down there, always busy!” Tommy’s face fell slightly. “They’re... they’re happy. Can I go now? I’m tired too, y’know.”

Jim pursed his lips, then sighed, deciding it was time to back off.

“Yeah, alright. I’ll take you to your quarters, okay-?”

“I know the way.”

Before Jim could ask what he meant by that, Tommy left the room. Jim sighed, shaking his head.

Maybe he was just getting old and didn’t understand kids today anymore.

 


 

2260.343

Spock could say with absolute certainty that he had absolutely no idea as to what was going on.

First, Uhura had started panicking about dying, saying that she saw herself old and diseased and slowly withering away, all alone. Then, Sulu had neglected the captain’s orders, staring out into space with horror in his eyes and begging Jim not to touch the controls, because if they moved they’d be destroyed.

It was odd. But for some reason, Spock was uncertain as to why Jim wanted to contact Starfleet.

“That was an order, Spock,” Jim stated sternly.

“This bridge is under complete control. There is no need to-!”

“Spock, look around! Does this look normal to you?!”

Spock blinked, then, realizing that his mate indeed had a point, turned to contact Starfleet.

Then he stopped again. He tried to move his hand, but it was as though his nervous system had become unresponsive. He slowly pulled his hand away from the console, staring at his hand before clenching it in a fist and turning to Jim again.

“I cannot obey your order, Captain.”

Jim looked stricken, and part of Spock wanted to back down, but... there was something stopping him. Thus, he watched as Jim walked over to a security officer, telling him to take Sulu to his quarters. The security officer stared at him as though he’d been speaking in gibberish.

Actually, it was as though Jim was speaking in gibberish- Spock heard his mate’s voice speaking in a garbled, strange language, one that made his head ache. He put a hand to his right meld point, closing his eyes and concentrating until Jim’s words made sense once more.

“Didn’t you hear me?” Jim grabbed the guard and started to shake him. “Didn’t you hear me?!”

His mate froze, turning back to the children before slowly letting go of the officer. He tried to walk over to them, but the boy made an odd, repetitive motion with his fist, causing Jim’s face to contort in pain as a look of panic came over him. He was looking around the room wildly, slightly hunched over, and Spock could feel the overwhelming sudden fear he was experiencing.

Without a word, Spock sprinted over to his mate, who flinched when he saw him.

“Captain, we must get off this bridge.”

Jim’s eyes were wide, and he swallowed, grabbing his own wrist as he turned his gaze to his feet.

“I... y-yeah, we, we should... I’m losing command. I-I’m losing my ability to command.” Jim started to sway. “I’m, I’m losing the Enterprise, I’m losing you, oh, god, I’m losing Alice-!”

Spock quietly picked his mate up, carrying him over to the turbolift as he started hyperventilating.

“I-I’m, I can’t...” Jim whimpered, burrowing into Spock’s shoulder. “I can’t breathe, I’m scared, I-I don’t... don’t leave me, please don’t leave me, I-I know I’m a mess and a broke- broken piece of shit, but I, I need you, I can’t lose you, please, I don’t want to be alone again-!”

“Captain,” Spock interrupted gently as the lift began to move.

Jim suddenly broke away, a small sob erupting from his lips.

“M-My ship... my ship’s going, it’s gone, it’s left without me and- and so have you, you’re gonna leave me behind like everyone else, a-and I can’t, I can’t blame you, I’m nothing but an awful, awful liar, I destroy everything I touch, the only good thing I’ve ever made is Alice and she’s gonna leave me too someday-!”

“Cap-!”

His mate all but launched himself at him, one hand clutching Spock’s right shoulder and the other touching his cheek.

Don’t leave me please don’t leave me I know I’m awful I’m a liar who’s gonna burn someday and the lighter’s gonna be in my own hand but please I need you love me love me love me-!

“Jim,” Spock breathed, wrapping his arms around Jim’s torso. “Jim, ashayam, breathe. It is not real. Breathe.”

Jim gasped, then took a tiny, shuddering breath, shaking in Spock’s arms. The panic slowly started to abate, his heartbeat and breathing evening out.

“I... I’ve got command,” Jim murmured into Spock’s shirt.

“Yes, Captain.”

“I-I’ve got command. I’m in command.”

“That is correct.”

Jim looked up at him, those blue eyes big and shiny.

“And... I’ve got you?”

Spock allowed himself to smile a bit, leaning over and kissing his mate’s forehead.

“Yes, dear one. You will have me for as long as you want me. I am not going anywhere.”

He heard Jim laugh a little, and he pressed another kiss into his hair.

“S... Sorry about that.”

“You were frightened. I find that to be unacceptable, but I do not hold it against you.”

Jim looked up at him again, confused.

“Fear is unacceptable?”

“No, but I dislike you being afraid. You are my mate, and it is my duty to protect you and your happiness.”

Jim blinked, then laughed, leaning his head on Spock’s shoulder.

“I love you.”

“I love you in return,” Spock replied as the doors to the lift opened. “Now, where to, Captain?”

Jim grinned at him as they exited the lift.

“To auxiliary controls, my dear Vulcan. This ship is off course.”

 


 

“Jim? I received your message, what is the mat-?”

Spock blinked, then arched an eyebrow when he saw his mate covered in sleeping children.

None of whom were their own child, incidentally.

“I think I have to adopt them all now,” Jim whispered, grinning a bit.

“I do not believe the older Alice mentioned having more than one sibling, ashayam,” Spock told him as he stepped inside the guest quarters. “In addition, I do not believe I am prepared to be father to more than one child at this point.”

“Well, you’d better get used to the idea soon, cause we’re supposed to have David in about three years.”

Spock felt a strange twisting in his gut, though he was careful not to let it show on his face.

However, Jim apparently still felt his apprehension, as he quirked an eyebrow.

“You’re still on board with that, right? Cause I think grown-up Alice might come back in time and yell at us if we don’t have him.”

“I... It is not that I do not wish to... to have another child with you, Jim, it is...” Spock sighed, unable to properly express his thoughts.

Spock, what’s wrong?

I am unsure of how to feel about David. Though we only saw photographs of him, he is very clearly my biological son, and I had always thought that to be an impossibility. I do very much want him to be my son, to exist, but I accepted that I would never be able to become a biological parent so long ago that I... I fear that the opportunity will arise only to be taken away once more.

Jim’s expression softened, and Spock felt a wave of reassurance through their bond.

Spock, it’s not going to be taken away from you. I won’t let it. In three years, we’re gonna have a wonderful, beautiful little boy with your eyes and ears, and he’s going to grow up to be handsome and smart and taller than his older sister. That’s our future.

Despite himself, Spock smiled at his mate.

Thank you, Jim.

Of course. Although, can you do me a favor? These kids are kinda keeping me from moving and I really have to pee.

Spock rolled his eyes, walking over to Jim and gently pulling Mary off his chest without waking her. Jim was clearly muffling a sigh of relief as he sat up, kissing Spock on the cheek.

You’re a lifesaver, babe. Back in a minute!

Jim all but bolted into the guest bathroom, locking the door behind him. Spock bit back a chuckle, laying Mary back down. He blinked when he heard Jim’s comm go off, and again when he saw that he had a message from the ambassador, which was displayed in full on the screen.

Jim-

It is good to hear from you, old friend. To answer your question, yes, Vulcan ejaculate is safe for Human consumption, although I would have to warn against consuming it more than once in one session, and not at all during pon farr, as Vulcans ejaculate more during that time. It is for your own safety- my Jim once compared the taste and consistency to pineapple juice, which is apt as it can cause nausea and vomiting in Humans when ingested in large quantities. I shall spare you the details, but we discovered this the hard way.

Also, congratulations. It took my Jim and myself much longer to get to this point in our relationship. I am certain you shall share in as much happiness with my younger self as I did with my own Jim.

Live long and prosper,

Ambassador Selek

Jim sighed as he exited the bathroom.

“Thanks for that, Spock- why are you looking at my comm?”

Spock was far too embarrassed to speak or look at Jim, instead handing him the device without a word.

“What’s this-? Oh, hey, the Ambassador replied... huh. Well, okay, guess we know the answer to that now... Spock? What’s wrong? You’re not mad that I asked him, are you?”

I am not.

“Why are you...? Oh, wait.” He could almost feel Jim’s grin. “Are you flustered cause you thought about me with my fingers in your-!”

Jim. There are children present.

Jim laughed, walking over to Spock and kissing his cheek before leading him out of the guest quarters.

It’s okay, we don’t have to do it til you’re ready.

You are... you are certain that you are alright not having penetrative intercourse yet?

Yes, sweetheart. I like the way we have sex now, it’s nice. Besides, I’d rather have your fingers in me before we do the reverse-!

JAMES.

Okay, okay!

Jim was quiet for a second.

Seriously, though, I do want that.

Jim if you do not cease this line of dialogue I will not touch you for a week.

His mate snorted.

Yeah, right, like you could hold out that long.

Spock’s ears began to burn.

No comment.

 


 

2260.359

This was officially the worst Christmas Jim had ever had, and he’d had some shitty Christmases.

Now, he remembered what Alice’s future was. He knew that Lukara was a wonderful, loving wife to his daughter and he shouldn’t judge every single Klingon to be as awful as the ones he’d met before.

But in his defense? Kang was a giant dick.

He was tempted to take Chekov’s advice and leave the bastards in nonexistence, but then Spock reminded him that it would be a better idea to take them prisoner.

Which is what he was planning to do, but once the first group of survivors arrived, that plan kinda died a quick death.

Mostly because of one person.

vavoy!” A Klingon girl who looked to be about eight- meaning she was probably around four in Terran years- cried, running to Kang and latching onto his side. “You still live!”

To Jim’s shock, Kang smiled, kneeling down and picking the girl up.

“I would not leave you so easily, my child,” He told her as a Klingon woman came to stand by him. He gestured to her. “Captain, my wife and science officer, Mara.”

Okay. So he had something in common with the asshole. Dammit.

“And this is our child, Lukara.”

Jim blinked, his eyes going wide. He could feel Spock’s shock as well.

Lukara... Spock, you don’t think...?

Considering that Commander Lukara is three Terran years younger than our daughter, although they are physically the same age, it is possible. However, Lukara is a common name amongst Klingons, due to it being the name of a prominent figure in their history.

Right. It could be just a coincidence.

Damned if the kid didn’t look like a younger version of his future daughter-in-law, though.

“Kang, what has happened?”

“More Federation treachery. We are prisoners.”

Mara looked terrified at the prospect.

“What will they do to us? I’ve heard of their atrocities, their death camps! They will torture us for our scientific and military information!”

Lukara looked a bit frightened, but glared at them.

“You will never take us alive, you dogs!”

“Wh- No! No, we’re not going to torture you!”

“Lies! If SoSoy says it to be true, then it must be true! She is smarter than everyone else!”

Kang laughed heartily at that.

“Ah, you have learned well, my daughter.”

Jim bit back a groan. He really hoped this kid wasn’t his future daughter-in-law, because this was a terrible first impression.

“No, okay, we’re not gonna hurt you, I promise-!”

The door to the transporter room opened.

“Daddy, you’re gonna miss the Charlie Brown thingy-!”

Jim flinched, slowly turning to his daughter with a nervous grin. Alice blinked, then tilted her head slightly.

“Daddy, why are Klingons here? Did you invite them for the holidays?”

“N-No, buttercup, uh... it’s a long story.”

“This child addresses you as her father,” Mara commented. “Is this the case?”

“Yes, it is. Like you, my child has joined me on our voyage.” Jim crossed his arms. “Which is why you can believe me when I say that I have no intention of harming any of you. We’ll detain you in the crew lounge and program the replicators with-!”

“Hi!”

Jim blinked, then felt his heart stop when he realized that his daughter had walked right up to Kang.

“Alice-!”

“You look like you’re my age. What’s your name?”

“... Lukara.”

Alice grinned.

“Hi, Lukara! I’m Alice. It’s nice to meet you!”

To Jim’s surprise, Lukara’s cheeks bloomed red, her lips quirking into a small smile.

“It... it is nice you to meet you as well, Alice.”

I stand corrected, Jim. It seems this may be Alice’s t’hy’la after all.

Oh, come on! I’ve made peace with the fact that my daughter’s fated to marry a Klingon, but does this guy really have to be her father-in-law?! I don’t want to have to fight him when we talk about who’s paying for the wedding!

Kaiidth, ashayam.

Jim gave his boyfriend a look before turning back to the Klingons.

“Yes, well, anyway. Program the replicators with Klingon cuisine, and make sure no harm comes to them.”

The security officers affirmed his orders, and Alice waved at Lukara as her father carried her out of the transporter bay.

“Did you have to put Lukara and her parents in holding, Daddy?”

“Alice, Lukara’s father might be a war criminal.”

“But Lukara didn’t do anything wrong! Besides, I like her!”

“How can you like her, you’ve known her for all of two minutes!”

Alice shrugged.

“I’unno, I just do.” She sighed dreamily. “She seems really nice...”

Dammit. Well, Kang was paying for the wedding, he refused to back down on that one.

 


 

Alice blinked as the door to her room opened, tilting her head when she saw Lukara leaning up against it after it closed.

“Um... hi?”

“I... I am sorry to intrude on your privacy, Alice. It is... things are somewhat hectic on this ship.”

Alice giggled, getting off of her bed and walking over to her.

“Yeah, that kinda happens a lot around here. Don’t worry, you can stay here til things calm down, okay?”

Lukara blinked, looking at Alice with confusion in her eyes.

“I... you are not going to tell your father where I am?”

“Nah, I don’t think he’d really care too much. You’re just a little kid, after all.” Alice tilted her head a bit. “Unless you know how to hack things.”

“I do not.”

“Well, there ya go!” She grinned. “Wanna watch a holo with me? It’s not really holiday-themed, or historically accurate, but it’s a musical and it’s fun! And the lady who plays the acrobat is really cool!”

“... Alright,” Lukara agreed, seeming somewhat wary as she sat down on Alice’s bed. Alice giggled, skipping over to the holoscreen and starting up the vid.

“... Why are they singing?”

“It’s a musical. You gotta sing when you're in a musical.”

“Oh.” Lukara was quiet for a moment as the scene progressed. “What is that large creature?”

“An elephant. They were used a lot in circuses.”

“A... sir-cuss?”

“It’s like... well, back on Earth, it used to be this travelling show where people and animals did tricks and stuff. They don’t have them anymore, though, cause they were kinda bad to people and animals.”

“Oh. Klingons do not have such things.”

“Oh. Ooh, this is one of my favorite parts, shush!”

They watched quietly as the childhood scene played out. Alice sighed happily as the song started, glancing at Lukara, who looked confused.

“I do not understand. Why does her father not want them to marry?”

“Cause Phineas is poor and from the lower class. People were dumb about that kinda thing back then.”

“But he hired his father. They had no quarrel.”

Alice shrugged.

“People were dumb about stuff like that. I don’t really think that’s what happened, though.”

“Oh. Still, they seem happy.”

“Yeah, I think they were. Do Klingons have stories like that?”

“Generally, no. However, the works of Shakespeare are quite popular amongst our people.”

“Really?”

“Yes.” Lukara smiled a little. “I like Romeo and Juliet.”

“You do?”

“Yes.” She cleared her throat. “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name; or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Capulet.”

Alice’s heartbeat had started going faster. She wasn’t really sure why.

“You’re... you’re really good at that.”

Lukara blushed, smiling a little.

“Thank you... I-!”

The door to Alice’s room opened, and Lukara squawked, all but rolling off the bed and diving under it.

“Hi, Daddy!” Alice greeted. “We’re watching a movie!”

“Alice! Do not tell him I am here!”

“Why not? Daddy’s not gonna hurt you. Right, Daddy?”

“Well, no, but... Lukara, you really should be with your parents.”

“I will not go back out there!” Lukara protested. “People are fighting, and I am small!”

“Yeah, but-!”

“Daddy,” Alice interrupted. “Daddy, it’s okay. I’ll keep an eye on her, I promise.”

Alice’s daddy looked unsure.

“Buttercup-!”

“Daddy, we’re little girls. How much harm could we do?”

Her daddy quirked an eyebrow.

“You really want me to answer that?”

Alice gave her daddy a look, and he sighed.

“Alright, fine, but don’t leave this room, okay?”

“Okay! Bye, Daddy!”

“Bye, kiddo.”

He left, and Alice got off the bed, pulling up the covers.

“It’s okay, he’s gone now.”

“Why... why did you agree to let me stay here?”

Alice shrugged.

“Cause I like you.”

Lukara blinked, then smiled just a little.

“I... I like you as well.”

Alice’s tummy started doing somersaults.

It was kinda nice, though.

 


 

Alright. Jim had spoken too soon.

This was still the worst Christmas ever.

It was just an even worse Christmas than he’d thought. Everything kept turning into swords, the Klingons kept taking over different parts of the ship, Chekov had turned into a rage monster who wanted to avenge a non-existent brother, and there was apparently an alien being who ran on hatred running around the ship and infecting everyone, save for Alice and Lukara, who in the midst of all this chaos had become the best of friends.

Okay, so that last one was actually super cute. He was now totally on board with the idea of having a Klingon over for Thanksgiving, so long as she left her father at home, because quite frankly Kang was still a bag of dicks who was apparently okay with accepting his wife and child’s deaths if it meant winning.

Her mother, however, was actually a pretty reasonable woman.

“I will take you to Kang. I will add my voice to yours.”

“I wouldn’t trust her, Captain!” Scotty interjected.

Lukara growled, only stopping when Alice put a hand on her arm.

“Lukara’s mommy is very nice, Uncle Scotty,” Alice scolded. “Don’t be mean.”

“But lassie, she’s a-!”

Alice gave Scotty a look, and Scotty sighed.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Look, it’s not like we have too many options here. We’re not even gonna get through their defenses in time unless... wait... Spock! Intraship beaming! From one section to another, it’s possible, right?”

“Yes, Captain. It is often employed upon the USS Discovery.”

“But Captain! She could still be leading ya-!”

Lukara growled again, and Alice crossed her arms.

“Uncle Scotty, don’t make me make Daddy put you in time-out.”

“Wh- Captain, you wouldn’t seriously...?”

Jim shrugged.

“She’s very persuasive, Mr. Scott, I’d have to at least hear her out.”

Scotty looked thoroughly disgruntled at that.

“Besides...” Jim turned, smiling at Mara. “I believe her.”

Mara smiled back, seeming a little surprised.

“Very well, then. Come along.”

“I’ll go too!” Lukara shouted.

“If she’s going, I’m going!” Alice added.

“No,” both Jim and Mara responded.

“But-!”

“No.”

Both little girls pouted, and Jim and Mara both sighed, shaking their heads.

“Kids, right?”

“Indeed.”

Jim laughed as they headed for the turbolift, then paused when he felt a wave of jealousy through his bond with Spock.

Spock. She’s Alice’s future mother-in-law, remember?

Apologies, ashayam. I am... this has been a stressful day.

Yeah, don’t I know it. How about some, uh, chess later if we all make it out of this?

Chess would be amenable, although given your normal behavior when our lives are in danger, I would have assumed that you would suggest-!

Babe. Chess means sex in this case.

... Ah. I see.

Jim resisted the urge to laugh as he and Mara went into the transporter room. He needed to be on his game for this- they only had one shot at peace.

No big deal.

Man. He really wished he’d started a farm or something. Cows had to be easier than this.

 


 

“Huh,” Alice commented as she and Lukara snuck out of the Jefferies tube. “I kinda thought they’d be trying to punch each other more.”

“I agree,” Lukara said as she peered over the balcony. “It is the Klingon way to fight until everyone has died.”

“The Klingon way sounds messy. Oh, look, there’s my daddy!”

Alice’s daddy was glaring up at a red orb thing.

“Get off my ship! You’re a sitting duck here!”

“What is a duck?” Lukara whispered.

“It’s a bird that goes quack and swims in ponds. Sometimes it swims in money, though.”

“Strange.”

“You’re powerless. We know about you, and we don’t want to play.” Her daddy glanced over his shoulder, smiling at Alice’s papa. “Maybe... maybe there are others like you around. Maybe you’ve caused a lot of suffering, a lot of history, but that’s all over. We’ll be on guard now, we’ll be ready for you, so ship out! Come on, haul it!”

“Yeah, out already!” Uncle Bones agreed.

Alice’s daddy and Uncle Bones suddenly started laughing.

“What is funny?” Lukara asked.

“I dunno. Maybe it’s a grown up joke. I don’t think Papa gets it, though.”

“Out!” Lukara’s daddy called. “We need no urging to hate Humans!”

Lukara growled.

“Don’t worry, I’m only half Human, and I bet you can change his mind,” Alice told Lukara. It seemed to calm her down.

“But, for the present, only a fool fights in a burning house. Out!”

Lukara’s daddy and all the others- except for Alice’s papa, who looked confused- started laughing. Alice winced when Lukara’s daddy slapped her daddy on the back, but her daddy didn’t seem too hurt, so it was probably okay. The red light started to fade, and a sparkly thing left the room, but everyone was still laughing.

“I still do not understand what is so funny.”

“Me neither,” Alice agreed, “but grown-ups are kinda dumb, so maybe that’s it.”

Lukara smiled at her, and Alice’s tummy felt a little like it was full of butterflies. Without saying anything, she reached out to touch the other girl’s hand, although she wasn’t really sure why. When they touched, though, it was like a bolt of electricity went through them both, and Alice jerked her hand away.

“I-I’m sorry!” She squeaked. “I-I don’t know what that was, honest, I just-!”

Lukara started laughing, and Alice’s cheeks felt hot, though she started laughing too.

Lukara was really, really nice. She hoped they’d be friends for a long, long time.

Chapter Text

2261.11

Spock did not recall running to sickbay after McCoy called him. He did not remember entering it, either.

In fact, between McCoy telling him that they had found Jim and brought him home and seeing Jim lying in the biobed, his memories were a blur of movement and thinking Jim over and over again.

“Hey, babe,” Jim greeted cheerfully, as if he had not been missing for two days, thirteen hours, forty-eight minutes, and ten point six seconds. “I guess I missed our chess date, huh?”

Spock could not think of anything he cared about less than chess at the moment. He all but lunged at his mate, pulling him into his arms and holding him tightly.

“Whoa!” Jim laughed, hugging Spock back. “Geez, I guess you missed me too, huh?”

“Jim,” he breathed, “Jim, you are... I was... I thought I would never see you again, I... I could not feel you...”

“Yeah, that’s, that’s kinda what happens when you pop into another universe, I guess. A lot less fun than the movies make it look, by the way, it was empty and boring.” Jim was smiling as he pulled back. “It was really weird not having you in my head, you know. I kept thinking stuff at you, and then remembering that you couldn’t mmmph.”

Spock loved his mate’s voice, he did.

However, at this moment, he did not want him to speak. He wanted Jim’s lips on his. He wanted to be as close to his lover as physically possible, he wanted to make Jim moan and fall apart underneath him-!

“Uh, um, Sp... Spock?”

Spock blinked. Jim was quite flushed beneath him, looking rather uncomfortably aroused.

“Ah. My apologies, ashayam. I was... a bit lost in thought, and it seems I climbed on top of you.”

“Y-Yeah, uh, kinda got that... not that I don’t, y’know, want to grind against you like a cat in heat or whatever, but I really don’t think the med-bay’s the best place for this. Especially since Alice will probably be here in like, five minutes to yell at me.”

Spock flushed, clearing his throat as he got out of the biobed.

“A... a fair point. Still, I... perhaps you could meet me in my quarters tonight...?”

Jim arched an eyebrow, grinning a bit.

“Why, Mr. Spock, are you propositioning me?”

Spock blinked.

“Yes. I had thought that was clear.”

Jim laughed, shaking his head before leaning over and kissing Spock gently.

“I’ll meet you after I get Alice to bed, okay?”

Spock smiled, a nervous thrill going through him when he thought about what he’d decided to do when he realized that Jim was still alive.

What he was ready to do now.

All he could do was hope that it would... go well.

 


 

The second the door between the bathroom and Spock’s quarters closed, Jim was being kissed within an inch of his life.

“Mm, well, hi there,” Jim managed between kisses. Spock responded by all but picking him up and attacking his neck with kisses, making Jim moan. “Oh... okay, wow, you are into this tonight, aren’t you?”

I nearly lost you again.

Jim blinked, pushing on Spock’s shoulders until his boyfriend let him look him in the eyes.

“Hey, hey. Spock, come on, it’s okay.”

“It is not. I should have... I should have insisted on staying with you on the Defiant, or- or insisted that you leave and I stay, or-!”

“Spock. Sweetheart, it was my choice to stay on that ship, alright? It’s not your fault.” He leaned over, pressing a kiss to Spock’s forehead. “And I’m here now, and I’m fine. We’re both fine. We’re both alive. So don’t worry, alright?”

Spock looked at him, a whirlwind of emotions glittering in his eyes for a moment before they were all replaced by deep, dark lust. Jim yelped as Spock kissed his neck again, then laughed as his boyfriend carried him over to his bed.

“Jim... Jim, there is... there is something I wish to, to ask of you...”

Jim blinked, watching as his boyfriend moved up to look him in the eye. His face was flushed, and he looked almost as nervous as he had the first time they’d had sex.

“Uh... what is it?”

“I... when, when it was discovered that you still lived, I... I realized that I am ready to... to take our relationship a bit further.”

Jim blinked again, his eyes going wide.

Wait... wait, Spock wasn’t going to...?

“Um, honey? I, uh, I’m not sure if... look, I really don’t think that this is the time to have this conversation...”

Spock blinked, quirking an eyebrow.

“I believe that this is the optimal time to discuss this.”

Okay, Jim knew that this was Spock’s first relationship and all, but proposing marriage during sex was-!

“You believe I am about to propose marriage?” Spock asked, sounded flabbergasted.

Jim blinked.

“A... Aren’t you?”

“No, I... I was...” Spock blushed. “I would like to... to have penetrative sex with you.”

Jim blinked, then blushed himself, a small grin gracing his lips.

“W-Wait, really? Are, are you sure?”

“I... yes.” Spock pressed his forehead against Jim’s. “I was... I was planning on suggesting it after our chess match, although I... to be perfectly honest, I was uncertain if I would have the courage to go through with it.”

“But now...?”

“I once again nearly lost you this week. I do not wish to delay further intimacy, and I... I need to...” Spock was shaking slightly. “I need to be with you, Jim, I...”

“Spock...” Jim leaned up, kissing him gently. “Okay. Okay, you’ve got me. Do, do you want me to... y’know...”

His boyfriend blushed again.

“I... I would like to penetrate you.”

Jim blinked, then bit back a snort.

“Jim, I am serious.”

“No, no, I know, I just... heh, well, you kinda reminded me of that weird space amoeba incident. You kept saying the word ‘penetrate’ over and over, and it kinda got me really... flustered...”

Spock was blushing again, no longer Jim in the eyes. Jim quirked an eyebrow.

“Babe?”

“A... About that... I may have been... using that word purposely...”

“Huh? Why?”

“While... while we were on the Discovery, I... I admitted to my sister that you are my t’hy’la. At that point, I was still unaware of your affections for me, but she was rather insistent that I should at least attempt to discern whether you cared for me the same way I cared for you.” Spock blushed even more. “Specifically, she instructed me to... to flirt with you.”

Jim blinked.

“Wait, you mean you kept using that word because you were trying to flirt with me?”

“... yes.”

Jim couldn’t help but snicker.

“Oh, honey, that’s... that’s really cute, although I wouldn’t call that flirting so much as being extremely direct.”

“I assumed as much, since it did not seem to work.”

“Oh, it worked, alright. Didn’t you wonder why I took a long shower that night instead of in the morning?”

Spock blinked, then flushed again, his eyes darkening with lust as he kissed Jim deeply once more. The next few minutes were a flurry of movement, kisses, and clothes being all but ripped off, and Jim was down to his underwear before he remembered something pretty important.

“Wait, shit, you’ve got lube, right?”

Spock paused just as he was about to tug Jim’s boxer-briefs off, turning a delicate shade of green before sitting up and reaching for something in the nightstand, which turned out to be a small blue bottle.

“I... I wished to be more prepared than I was the first time we were intimate...”

Jim grinned, putting his hands on Spock’s shoulders and pulling him back into another kiss. Spock hummed against his lips, hooking his fingers into Jim’s underwear and tugging them off before removing his own. Their cocks brushed together, making them both gasp.

“Spock...”

“A-Ashayam, I... I wish to...”

“Yeah.” Jim grinned up at Spock, spreading his legs before reaching down and pulling his cheeks apart. “Have at, sweetheart.”

Spock, it seemed, had a way of surprising him in bed. Instead of eagerly diving right in, as Jim had expected, his boyfriend’s eyes went wide, his ears drooping as he flushed a deep forest green.

“I... um...”

“What? Spock, you... you know how this works, right? You’re not gonna be able to just stick it in without-!”

“I am aware that preparation is required prior to anal intercourse, Jim. I simply... I do not think it would be wise for me to be the one to prepare you.”

Jim blinked, arching an eyebrow.

“Why not?”

Spock blushed again, turning his gaze to the bed.

“I... as, as you know, Vulcan hands and fingers are much more sensitive than, than those of Humans.”

“Yeah, so?”

He blushed even more.

“That would... if I were to be the one to prepare you, it would... it would be extremely similar to, to having my... my lok inside of you...”

Jim tilted his head slightly.

“Uh... I don’t think I’ve heard that one, Spock.”

Spock’s entire face was green now as he sat back on his haunches.

“L... Lok is the Vulcan word for... for phallus...”

“Oh.” Jim blinked, then sat up slightly. “Oh. Oh, you mean that having your fingers inside me would... it would feel like you were fucking me?”

Spock somehow blushed even more; Jim saw his cock twitch.

“... yes.”

“Oh. Wait, isn’t that kinda the whole point here?”

The flushing spread to Spock’s shoulders.

“I... Jim, I realize that we have been having sexual relations for approximately two point one months, but I remind you, prior to our coupling I had never had sexual contact with anyone. I... I have never done this before, and I am slightly concerned that if I am the one to prepare you, the... the stimulation may prove to be overwhelming for me.”

Jim blinked.

“Wait, are... are you afraid that you’ll come too fast if you finger me first?”

Spock winced, clearing his throat.

“A... a slightly crude way of putting it, but yes.”

“Aw, Spock...” Jim smiled, then sat up and pulled his boyfriend in for a kiss. “Alright, I’ll get myself ready this time, but Spock? Eventually I’m gonna want those long, pretty fingers of yours in my ass.”

Spock flushed yet again, a smile playing at his slips.

“I... I would like to do that as well, although it... it will most likely be the main act of the night until I have gained more experience...”

“I can live with that,” Jim replied, giving Spock a quick kiss before scooting to the side. “Alright, lie back and get comfy.”

Spock seemed a bit confused, but did as Jim asked, watching as he grabbed the lube and spread it over his fingers before rubbing his hands together.

“First lesson about lube- shit’s cold right out of the bottle. You’ve got cold fingers compared to a Human’s, so you might need to spend a little more time warming it up before you do this. Otherwise, it’s gonna be uncomfortable.”

“I see... you are certain that... that having a part of my body inside of you will not be uncomfortable for you?” Spock was blushing again. “I... being aroused does make me feel warmer than usual overall, but there is still a difference in our body temperatures-!”

“Sweetheart, it’s fine. It’s just easier to adjust if it’s a little warmer.” Jim grinned as he leaned back, spreading his legs again. “Besides, I kinda like the difference in our body temperatures. It does something for me, weirdly enough. Hand me a pillow, would you?”

Spock’s brow furrowed as he obliged Jim’s request.

“It is illogical to enjoy something that causes you discomfort.”

“Hey, not much about Human sexuality is logical, babe, you should know that by now.” Before Spock could say anything else, Jim spread his cheeks again, pressing a lubed-up finger against his hole. His boyfriend’s eyes went wide, his pupils dilating to the point that the brown of his eyes nearly disappeared. “Alright, Spock, I’m gonna show you how to do this. All eyes on me, got it?”

Spock’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed, and Jim grinned when his boyfriend nodded.

“Okay, first things first, don’t push too hard. Just kinda... press the tip of your finger up against the outside gently til...” Jim sighed as the tip of his pointer finger slid inside. “Til it slides in on its own.”

“I... I see...”

Spock kinda looked like he wanted to eat Jim alive at this point, and he couldn’t help but smirk at him.

Oh, honey, you’ve got no idea what’s coming next.

Ashayam, what do you mean by-!

Spock’s thoughts cut off abruptly when he saw the tip of Jim’s middle finger slip inside his hole. Jim was only able to appreciate the look on his face for a few precious seconds before the slight burn and pleasure made him throw his head back in a moan.

“J... Jim...”

“Ah... so, uh, I, I should warn you, I’m... I’ve taken more than a few a dicks in my day, so it doesn’t really hurt for me to go to two fingers straight away. If you do this to yourself, you’ll have to work your way up to it.” He let his fingers slide in up to the second knuckle, scissoring them a little. “Even then, if I hadn’t been playing around with some, uh, toys recently, this would still probably be hard for me.”

“T... Toys...?”

“Yeah- wait... Spock, don’t tell me you don’t know what a vibrator is.”

Spock flushed a deep green.

“I... I know what it is, I simply... y-you have been using...?”

Jim was going to make a joke, but then he felt a wave of distress from his boyfriend.

“Oh, oh no, sweetheart, it’s not... you are more than enough for me, it’s just...” Jim blushed, grinning sheepishly. “Well, uh... I’ve, I’ve kinda been thinking about this for a good while too, and... fingers didn’t always quite get the job done, y’know?”

Spock’s flush deepened, but Jim could feel quiet relief coming from him, followed by a spike in arousal when Jim added a third finger.

Of course, that also might have been in response to his own arousal, since that was when Jim’s middle finger brushed his prostate. He couldn’t stop the moan that erupted from his throat at that moment.

“Ah... mm... you... you said that Vulcans have prostates, right?”

“Y... Yes...”

“Nn... and it’s, it’s in the same place as a human’s right?”

“It is... a-although, it may be slightly larger, due to the fact that, that Vulcans only ejaculate during, during penetrative intercourse or through d-direct stimulation of the... the...”

“Mm...” Jim gasped as he rubbed the gland in question, grabbing himself around the base of his cock to steady himself and closing his eyes. “H-Have you ever...?”

“I have n... never had the opportunity...”

Jim laughed.

“W-Well, I can tell you that it feels, feels amazing-!”

Spock made a noise, and Jim made the mistake of cracking his eye open. His boyfriend’s face was bright green, his hand wrapped around the base of his cock as he panted and trembled with his eyes closed.

He didn’t need a telepathic link to know exactly what it was Spock needed right now. Jim grinned as he withdrew his fingers from his hole, getting up on his knees and grabbing the bottle of lube again as he crawled over to Spock.

“Ohhh, Spoooock,” he crooned as he positioned himself above his boyfriend’s cock, cradling his chin with the hand that hadn’t just been in his butt and tilting it upward. Spock opened his eyes just as Jim leaned down and kissed him. “If you’re ready, there’s one more step before we get to the main event.”

“Th... There is?”

“Yup.” Jim held up the bottle of lube. “I need you to put some of this on your dick. It’ll make things a lot easier on both of us.”

Spock seemed slightly unsure, but took the bottle and poured some of the slippery stuff into his hand.

“Ah, I... I see what you meant about it being cold...” He murmured as he rubbed it between his hands. After a moment, he swallowed, and Jim kept his eyes on Spock’s face as his hand moved between Jim’s legs. His mouth opened slightly, the tips of his ears turning green when Jim heard a wet noise below him. Jim leaned in and kissed his cheek, murmuring encouragement in his ear. After a moment, Spock sighed, looking up at Jim through half-lidded eyes.

“Ready?”

“I... I believe so, yes...” Spock confirmed, pulling his hand away and putting it back on the bed. “Sh... Should I...?”

“Hey, this is your first time doing this, babe. You just lie back and let me do the work.”

Spock’s brow furrowed.

“Jim, I do not want you to sacrifice your pleasure for mine-!”

“Who said anything about sacrifice? You know that I’ve literally dreamt about riding this trouser snake of yours into the sunset.”

The brow-furrowing intensified.

“... I do not have a snake in my pants, ashayam. That seems dangerous.”

Jim laughed, kissing Spock’s nose before grasping the base of Spock’s dick and pressing the tip against his hole.

“This snake, honey. It’s... you know what, don’t think about it too hard right now. Just relax and let me make you feel good...”

Spock looked like he wanted to inquire further, and while Jim was normally more than happy to explain figurative language to him, he’d been dreaming of this for years and wasn’t too keen on the idea of waiting any longer.

So he decided to distract Spock in the best way possible- by letting the tip of his cock slide inside him. It worked like a charm- Spock let out a gasp, the sheets straining as he gripped them tightly. Jim grinned at him, then sighed and let his head fall back as he slid down inch by inch, his cock twitching with delight.

“Mm... god, you’re so big.”

I am of an average size for Vulcans, t’hy’la.

Jim blinked, cocking his head as he looked at his boyfriend, who had his gaze trained directly in front of him. This happened to give him a pretty good view of Jim’s chest, but somehow Jim was pretty sure that wasn’t what Spock was focusing on right now.

“Something wrong? You don’t normally use the bond to talk to me during sex until you get close.” He frowned. “You’re not close already, are you?”

While it is likely that I will orgasm sooner than I normally would due to the presence of new stimuli, it is not imminent. However, I am concerned that if I open my mouth, I may make some... embarrassing noises.

Jim blinked again, then snorted, leaning over and kissing his boyfriend gently.

“C’mon, babe, I told you, I love how loud you are in bed.”

It is still unseemly to-!

“Spock. It’s just you and me right now, okay? I won’t tell a soul what happens between us in here, not even Bones.”

As I recall, Dr. McCoy instructed you never to speak to him of our sex life unless it was out of medical necessity. Even then, he asked that you speak to Dr. M’Benga first.

Jim laughed, shaking his head.

“Still, I won’t say a word to anyone, so go ahead and be as loud as you need. Scotty’s already soundproofed the place, after all.” Jim braced himself on Spock’s shoulders, picking himself up with his thighs. “You ready?”

Yes.

“Uh-uh, I want verbal consent for this, Spock.”

Jim-!

“I’ve been waiting for this for two years, pal. Don’t try to test my patience.”

Spock swallowed, then sighed.

“... I am ready. P... Please begin moving...”

Jim grinned, then took a breath before slowly sliding back down, then up again, then down again, again and again until it was a pattern. Spock was moaning quietly underneath him, and Jim had had to pull his hands away from his mouth more than once in order to keep him from muffling the noise, threatening to tie his hands to the bed if he didn’t cut it out.

And if Spock’s dick had twitched inside him at the suggestion, well.

Jim could just file that away for later. Right now, he had bigger things on his mind.

Such as the fact that he had been totally right about how those double ridges were gonna feel inside of him. The way the head of Spock’s cock slid against his sweet spot was fucking delightful- it was a sensation he’d never felt with anyone else, and no toy could possibly compare. Though, if Vulcans weren’t such prudes, they could probably make a mint off of Vulcan-inspired dildos-!

“V... Vulcan penises are different from mine, Jim...”

Jim blinked, looking at his boyfriend for a split-second before quickly looking away- the look on Spock’s face right now was enough to make anyone come in their pants.

“Neither of us are-!” Spock moaned and shivered. “N-Neither of us are currently wearing pants, t’hy’la.”

Jim snickered, shaking his head as he put his hands on Spock’s chest to steady himself.

“It’s, it’s an expression, sorta... mm... I-I remember now, you told me Vulcan dicks are different from yours... what are they like?”

Spock flushed, glancing to the side.

“I... y-yours is the only penis other than mine that I have seen...”

“In action, sure, but Vulcans have biology classes, right? Or health class?”

Spock flushed even more, then sighed.

“They... outside of sexual intercourse, V-Vulcan penises are sheathed within the body.”

“Really? How do they pee?”

Spock made a face.

“Jim, we are currently having sex, and unless there is something you are interested in t-telling me-!”

“Nah, tried it, not a fan.” Jim paused in his movements, clenching around Spock’s length and moaning when the head of it brushed his prostate. “Mm... gonna want to know the answer later, though.”

“Jim-!”

Jim laughed, quickly picking himself up on his thighs and slamming back down, which rather effectively shut Spock up.

“Anyway, how else are they different?”

“A-Ah, they... wh-while my penis only has two ridges, the, the standard Vulcan penis has ridges from the tip to the base.”

Jim’s eyes widened.

“Jesus, what? What the hell’s that for?”

“It, it is believed that we evolved that way in, in order to... to better stimulate the vaginal wall and therefore provide more incentive for reproduction. A-As you know, they are not particularly hard, s-so there is very little discomfort...”

“Geez... I think, ooh, I think I like yours like this, though.”

Spock blinked, looking surprised.

“Y... You do?”

“Mm, yeah, it’s... I like how it’s bumpy on entry, but the rest is nice and smooth... and you’re so long, too, it’s... it’s perfect-!”

Spock suddenly- finally- growled, grabbing Jim’s hips and stopping him from moving as he sat up. Jim was about to ask what he was doing, but then Spock kissed him, his tongue swiping at his mouth as Spock thrust up into him. Jim’s eyes widened, and he whimpered against his lips, wrapping his legs around Spock’s waist.

“I-!” Spock gasped as he thrust into him again, leaning his head against Jim’s chest. “I-I apologize, ashayam, but I... I cannot hold myself back any l-longer...”

Jim laughed breathlessly.

“I, uhn, I-I think, I think I’ll live-! Oh, there, right there, that’s perfect, ah...”

In less than a minute, Jim ended up clinging to Spock for dear life, wrapped around him like an octopus as he hung on for dear life while his boyfriend bucked up into him. He could feel something wet spreading around inside of him, and he gasped.

“A-Are you-?”

“I-I believe I am releasing pre... pre-ejaculate fluid... I, I feel slightly different than, than I normally do when I am about to...”

Despite the way arousal was making his head fuzzy, Jim couldn’t help but grin.

“Does it feel like- like something’s a-about to come out?”

“I... yes...”

“Th-That means you’re gonna come soon...” Jim snaked a hand between his legs, grabbing his leaking cock and stroking it quickly. “D-Don’t worry, I’m in the same boat-!”

Spock suddenly growled, batting Jim’s hand away and replacing it with his own.

“You will not touch yourself. You are mine, your sexual gratification is my responsibility.”

Um.

Well.

Holy shit.

Jim’s face had started burning, and he was suddenly completely powerless to stop himself from whimpering and moaning.

“S-Spock...”

“Mine,” Spock repeated before kissing his neck and thrusting into Jim hard . “My mate, my t’hy’la, mine and only mine, no one else’s...”

Jim gasped, shaking in Spock’s arms as he crept closer and closer to orgasm. He’d always been fiercely independent, hating the idea of being tied to anyone like this, but the idea of belonging to Spock was...

Well, it might have been a big factor in Jim realizing just how badly he needed to come.

“Fuck, Spock, yes, I-I’m yours, all yours, I, I love you, god, please, I need to come, let me come, please-!”

“Jim,” Spock whispered, his hips stuttering as he moved deep within Jim. “Jim, I... I... I love you...”

That did it- Jim cried out, moaning Spock’s name as climax hit him like a bus. Pleasure rushed through him, bursting under his skin like a line of firecrackers, and he shook and whimpered in Spock’s arms. His boyfriend kept thrusting upward, letting out a guttural moan as something hot and wet spilled inside of Jim. Jim let out a pathetic little cry, burrowing into Spock’s shoulder as he let him ride out his orgasm inside.

For all Jim knew, they could have stayed like that for hours as they came down from their dizzying highs. Spock’s normally cool skin was now feverishly warm, and Jim heard himself sigh as Spock’s now-soft cock slid out of his body.

“Fuck, Spock... that was...”

Spock said nothing, instead silently laying Jim down on the bed before turning and grabbing a towel- Jim hadn’t even noticed that it was there before, but Spock must have really wanted to be prepared.

“Spread your legs, please.”

Jim blinked, his orgasm-addled mind taking a little longer to comprehend Spock’s words.

“Why?”

“It is unsanitary to... to allow semen to remain in your anus.”

Jim snorted tired.

“Real romantic, babe. Come on, it can wait for a few minutes-!”

“I do not wish for you to be uncomfortable.”

Jim blinked, frowning when he realized that Spock’s post-Surakian repression was back in full force.

“Well, sorry, but I don’t think I can really move much right now-!”

“Very well.” Spock gently took hold of Jim’s right thigh, hiking it up into the air and pulling his legs apart before taking the towel and carefully dabbing at Jim’s hole. He mopped up most of the spunk that had slid out of Jim’s body, not meeting Jim’s eyes.

Jim bit his lip, then quietly reached out to Spock through their bond.

Wrong wrong how could I what was I thinking lost control bad bad bad

He quickly pulled back, his heart sinking when he realized just how awful Spock was feeling.

“Sweetheart...” He started gently, propping himself up on his elbows as Spock finished cleaning him up. “Spock, it’s... it’s okay.”

Spock blinked, arching an eyebrow.

“Jim?”

“It’s okay if you... if you didn’t like it. Not everyone likes it, and we don’t have to do it like that ever again if-!”

“Jim. Jim, I... I enjoyed that very much.”

Jim blinked, looking up at his boyfriend. Spock was blushing, but there was nothing but utter sincerity in his eyes.

“You... you did?”

“Yes, I... I have never felt such pleasure as I did while I was inside you. I simply... I apologize, Jim.”

Jim blinked again.

“Wait, what? Why... why are you apologizing?”

Spock flushed again.

“I... my behavior shortly before climax was... it was un-Vulcan, and from what I understand about Human relationships, the degree of possessiveness I displayed is generally looked down upon-!”

“Spock.” Jim winced as he got onto his knees and leaned on his boyfriend. “Spock, I’m not unhappy about that, not at all! Trust me, I was into it.”

“Y-You were?”

“Fuck yes. God, I think I see why you guys repress all emotions now, if you were like that all the time I probably would have jumped you on day one.”

Spock blinked, then blushed even more, a small smile finally playing at his lips.

“I... I am pleased that you were not disturbed by my behavior. Or... or the fact that I lost control...”

Jim felt his expression soften, and he sighed, moving to cup Spock’s face.

“Sweetheart, I’ve told you over and over again. You don’t always have to be in control, or at least, you don’t with me, even if you do need to be like that with everyone else. I love you, and I want you to be happy.” He kissed Spock’s forehead. “And I don’t want you to worry about what I think of you, because the answer is always going to be that I think you’re perfect, warts and all.”

Spock was blushing again, although he was also furrowing his brow.

“I do not have any warts that I know of, Jim.”

Jim laughed.

“No, Spock, it’s an expression. It means I love you just the way you are.” He grinned at him. “And I know you love me back. You know that’s the first time you’ve ever said that you love me during sex?”

Spock blinked.

“I am certain I have said it before.”

“Oh, sure, you’ve thought it before. Like, a lot. But you’ve never said it out aloud before.” Jim kissed him gently. “And by the way? Feel free to do that whenever you want.”

Spock blushed delicately, though Jim could feel his amusement.

“Sooooo... how do Vulcans pee?”

Spock blinked, then narrowed his eyes.

“Jim.”

“What? You never told me! My curiosity is purely scientific mmmph.”

 


 

2261.35

“If you would just talk to me for five minutes-!”

“As I have told you repeatedly, Jim, I do not wish to discuss what occurred on Platonius. It happened, and I would like to move on.”

Jim was glaring at him now. Spock loved his mate, but his stubborness was one of his least favorite traits.

“So you’re saying that you saw me kiss someone else and you felt nothing?”

No. For a split second, he had been absolutely enraged with Uhura, before quickly redirecting his anger at Parmen and Philiana, the true culprits.

But he could not tell Jim that. Jim could not know, could never know just what he had wanted to do to those two in that moment for forcing his mate and himself to be unfaithful to each other.

“I was somewhat distressed, I will admit to that, but it had nothing to do with you kissing Lt. Uhura, nor with my kissing Nurse Chapel. I was, as I had been throughout our visit to the planet, uncomfortable with the fact that I was not in control of myself.”

This was not a lie. He was uncomfortable with being unable to control himself.

He was also deeply uncomfortable with the way fury had boiled in his gut, how he had wanted nothing more than to break free of their control and grab them both, to tear them apart with his bare hands as he had wished to do to the man who had-!

“Spock, are you listening to me?”

Spock blinked, clearing his throat and straightening. He loved Jim, he did, but he desperately needed Jim to leave his quarters.

“I... I apologize, Jim, I... I am simply tired. I would like to meditate now-!”

“Spock, you’re clearly not okay. Look, we’re dating, you... I want you to talk to me when you’re upset, so please, just talk to me!”

No. No, he could not do that, Jim could never know, he could never find out just how much hate Spock was truly capable, he could never know how he had wanted to rip the Platonians limb from limb-!

Spock, if you can’t say it out loud, then please just-!

Jim was reaching for him, for his mind, and before Spock had time to think logically, he reflexively put up a shield. Jim cried out, stumbling back before looking at Spock with wide, shocked eyes. Guilt tore through Spock, but he could not bring himself to bring down his shield, to let Jim in.

“Spock...”

His mate was hurt. Spock hated himself for this.

But he could not allow him into his mind. He could never know.

He could never know, because he would never stay with an animal such as Spock if he did.

“I am sorry, Jim, but I cannot share this. I am asking you to accept that.”

Please. Please accept that.

“... No.”

Spock blinked.

“No?”

“No, Spock, I can’t accept that. I know that you were raised to, to suppress all emotions, to be perfect and logical, but I... Spock, you’re half-Human too, and we can’t live like that! We can’t live without ever expressing our emotions. You need an outlet, and I... I thought that you could at least be honest with me.”

“I am honest with you, and I am being honest when I say that I do not wish to share this with you. It would be an undue burden-!”

“I love you, your burdens are my burdens! That’s what being in a relationship is, Spock, you share things, and I know that’s hard for you because you don’t share anything ever-!”

“I have shared plenty with you.”

“Yeah, but only when it becomes immediately relevant! Name one time you voluntarily told me anything about yourself! Something that mattered!”

“There is no point in sharing irrelevant information with-!”

“It’s not-!” Jim groaned, shaking his head. “Dammit, Spock, I swear, sometimes talking to you is like talking to a brick wall! I don’t know how your mother put up with you and your father-!”

Spock was too late to stop the pain he felt at that statement from following through their bond. Jim froze, his eyes going wide once more as he looked at Spock.

“I... shit, Spock, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have-!”

“Captain.” The word was out of Spock’s mouth before he could stop it, and he there was no mistaking the look of hurt on his mate’s face. “Captain, please leave my quarters now.”

“Spock, wait, I-!”

“I shall be clearer, sir. Leave my quarters, or I shall remove you myself.”

Jim swallowed, and Spock forced himself to strengthen his mental shield so that he would not feel his mate’s pain. He wanted nothing more than to back down, to pull Jim close and apologize, but...

But if he backed down now, then he would have to back down on the shielding, and then...

And then Jim would know. And he could not let that happen.

Because then Jim would be gone.

Still, as he watched his mate exit through their shared bathroom, he only barely fought the urge to call him back and admit defeat.

 


 

2261.36

When Jim’s bedside alarm went off, for once he didn’t press the snooze button. He hadn’t slept a wink last night, he certainly wasn’t gonna get any sleep now.

Spock was still shielding him, but it was thin enough now that he could tell that he was down in the labs already- getting an early start, he guessed.

Jim’s gut was twisting as he got out of bed and made his way over to the bathroom.

He was such an asshole. He deserved the silent treatment- he’d pushed too far on Spock’s boundaries, and then he’d taken it a step further by mentioning Spock’s father, which he knew was probably still a sore spot for the poor guy.

And he should know about fathers being sore spots, considering that out of the three father figures he’d had in his life, one, his bio dad, died like five minutes after he was born, two, his uncle Frank, had gaslighted and berated the hell out of him before finally beating him half to death and threatening to kill him with a dental drill, and even Pike...

Well, actually, Pike was pretty great, even now that he’d taken an early retirement from Starfleet they still talked a lot.

But still. Jim should have known better.

And it wasn’t like he had room to talk about the whole keeping things to himself part. For example, he still hadn’t told Spock about Frank, or even Gary, and Gary didn’t even treat him that badly- he was just a cheating asshole that took away Jim’s confidence in navigating romantic relationships-!

Actually. Fuck Gary. Fuck Gary Mitchell all the way to Qo’noS’ moon and back.

Still. Jim needed to apologize. It wasn’t fair of him to expect Spock to talk about his emotions as openly as Jim did- he’d been raised to repress all emotions, after all, and it clearly made him uncomfortable to even admit he had any emotions.

He sighed as he got out of the fresher, shaking his head. He needed to apologize to Spock as soon as possible.

And well, he knew his Vulcan. Spock was proud, but he was also so new at the whole relationship thing that he might not even know how to start the whole “making-up” process.

Plus, this was Jim’s fault anyway, it made sense for him to be the one to raise a white flag first. So once he was dressed, he grabbed his PADD and typed out a message.

Spock-

We need to talk. Meet me in my quarters after Alpha shift.

Jim

He paused, then quickly added a “love” before his name- he didn’t want Spock to think he was still mad, after all- and sent it off.

Okay. He’d made the first move. Now all he had to do was wait until Spock responded, which would probably be before Alpha shift started- if there was one thing he knew about Spock, it was that the guy was punctual.

They’d get through this, no sweat.

Or at least, that’s what Jim thought, right up until Alpha shift started and Spock still hadn’t replied to the message.

For his part, Spock wasn’t acting like anything was wrong. Admittedly, the only thing Jim’s boyfriend had said to him since Alpha shift started an hour ago was a curt “captain” when he walked onto the bridge, and he hadn’t even looked at Jim since then.

Of course, for all the not-looking Spock was doing, pretty much everyone else was making up for the deficit. Chekov and Sulu kept giving Jim these weird looks, and he could feel Nyota’s eyes practically boring a hole in the back of his head. And that was just the bridge crew- an ensign in science blues had practically stared daggers at him when she brought him a PADD to sign.

Then Jim made yet another mistake- asking Spock to come over and clarify something for him. Spock did, but he was... well.

He was acting like he did when they first set out on the Enterprise three years ago. Except he was even colder now- when Jim made a joke back then, Spock would at least arch an eyebrow or comment on the illogic of it.

When Jim cracked a joke about an orchid this time, though, Spock didn’t even bat an eye. He didn’t even look at Jim, instead quickly finishing his explanation and returning to his console.

Jim’s stomach churned. Oh, god, he was in so much trouble, wasn’t he? Before they started dating, Spock would still comment on Jim’s dumb jokes even when he was mad at him.

And Spock was still shielding him, too. He couldn’t even try to ask what was wrong through their bond- he couldn’t even feel his emotions.

Though he was guessing that it was mostly just irritation at him.

“Sir?”

Jim blinked, turning his chair slightly so he could look at Nyota. She had a neutral expression on her face, but he could see fire smoldering in her eyes.

“Uh... y-yes, Lieutenant?”

“May I please speak with you in private, Captain?”

Jim was kinda scared that she’d just start yelling at him on the bridge if he said no, so he agreed, following her into the turbolift.

“So...”

“Captain. Permission to speak freely?”

“Sure-!”

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

Jim blinked, turning to Nyota, unsurprised to see that she was glaring at him, but more than a little terrified anyway.

“Nyota?”

“Look, I know that what happens between you and Spock is your business, but as your friend? You’re being awful to him.”

“Wh-? Me? I’m being awful? All I did was try to offer an olive branch!”

Nyota scoffed.

“You call that an-? Look, even if that was an olive branch, it’s way too soon! You haven’t even actually done it yet, and also, dragging it out like this? I don’t care what happened between you, there is no reason to torture Spock like this!”

“Nyota, I genuinely have no idea what you’re talking-!”

The door to the turbolift opened, and in walked a very, very unhappy-looking Alice.

Wait.

“Alice? What the-? Buttercup, you’re supposed to be in class-!”

“Daddy, you can’t do this!” She shouted as the doors closed behind her, latching onto Jim’s leg. “I don’t know what happened, but you can’t break up with Papa!”

Jim blinked.

Then blinked again.

Then a third time.

Then, finally, it sunk in.

“W... Wait, what?! I’m not- why would I break up with Spock?!”

Both Nyota and Alice blinked.

“Wait, you’re... you’re not planning on dumping him?” Nyota asked.

“No! God, of course not, he’s-! He’s the love of my life, why would I ever break up with him?”

“Didn’t you guys have a fight last night, though? That’s what you told me,” Alice commented.

“Yes, and it was my fault! I’ve been trying to apologize all day, he’s the one who’s upset with me!”

“No he’s not,” Nyota told him. “I saw him leaving the science labs earlier. He looked sad. Well, sad for him, anyway.”

“He...” Jim blinked, then groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Oh, for the love of... okay, I really, really need to talk to him.”

“Yes you do,” Alice started sternly, “cause I already called dibs on being the flower girl at your wedding.”

 


 

Jim swallowed as his boyfriend walked into his ready room, trying not to show how nervous he was.

He hoped to god that Alice and Nyota had been right. He wasn’t sure he could handle it if Spock wanted to break up with him after all.

“Captain. You wished to speak with me?”

“I... just... just Jim, okay?”

Spock flinched almost imperceptibly before resuming an expressionless, robotic stance.

“I see. If it is all the same to you, Jim, then I would prefer not to waste time discussing this, as I am already aware of what you wish to say.”

Jim shook his head, taking a step toward Spock.

“No, I really, really don’t think you do-!”

“Jim, I realize that it is customary to do this sort of thing slowly, but I feel it would be less painful to simply get it over with.”

“Spock, listen, I-!”

“You wish to terminate our romantic relationship. I cannot say that I... that I am pleased with this outcome, but I will not argue with you on it, as it is your choice.”

“Spock-!”

“I should inform you, it will take approximately twelve point eight one days to reach New Vulcan from our present position, assuming we remain at warp 3. Since our... our bond has deepened in the past four point one nine months, it may be slightly painful-!”

“Spock! I’m not breaking up with you!”

Spock blinked, his lips parting for a moment before they closed once more. His eyes were wide with shock.

“You... you are not?”

“Of course not!” Jim said emphatically as he closed the distance between them and took Spock’s hands in his. “Spock, I... you’re the love of my life, don’t you know that?”

“I... but you were...”

“I was upset, I know, but that doesn’t mean I love you any less. I, I know this is your first romantic relationship, Spock, but couples fight, even when they love each other. If you’re fighting with someone all the time, then sure, that’s a pretty bad sign, but never disagreeing is... it’s not healthy either. But you have to work through your problems, because that’s what couples do. They fight, they calm down, they make up. One fight doesn’t mean-!”

“Jim.” Spock had an odd look in his eyes, but he didn’t look quite as panicked or afraid as before. “Jim, I did not believe you were going to terminate our romantic relationship simply because we had an argument.”

Jim blinked.

“W... Wait, what?”

“I may not have much personal experience with relationships, but I did observe the relationship between my parents growing up. They often disagreed, and would occasionally become angry with each other, but in the end they would reconcile. Besides that, you and I had many arguments prior to our relationship becoming romantic, none of which led to the end of our friendship.”

“Oh.” Jim frowned. “Wait, then why did you think I was going to break up with you?”

Spock blushed, glancing away and clearing his throat.

“Ah... that was due to the... the wording of the message you sent me this morning.”

“Huh?”

“When I first received it, I had taken it as a sign that we would be making amends by the end of the day, but an ensign who happened to see your message informed me that the phrase ‘we need to talk,’ generally precedes the termination of romantic relationships. Several other crew members were in the vicinity, and each agreed with that assessment.”

Jim blinked.

“W... Wait, are you saying you thought I was gonna break up with you cause some ensign gave you bad information?”

“In defense of the ensign, your wording did have a strongly negative connotation.”

“I signed my message with the word ‘love!’ Why would I do that if I was gonna dump you?”

“I had assumed you were trying to soften the blow.”

Jim groaned, leaning forward and resting his head on Spock’s chest.

“So people have been glaring at me all day cause one ensign misinterpreted my private message to you?”

“I... people have been glaring at you?”

“All goddamn day. Nyota and Alice both yelled at me for being mean to you...” He looked up at Spock, resting his chin on his chest. “M’sorry about that, by the way... I wasn’t trying to drag it out, I was just trying to mend fences, y’know?”

“Jim, I am the one who erroneously believed you wished to terminate our relationship. Your actions were meant as a peace offering, rather than an attempt to hurt me further.” Spock moved back a bit, then pressed his forehead to Jim’s. “Which, in hindsight, would have been illogical, since you are not the type of person who would do such a thing. I apologize for assuming otherwise.”

“Spock...” Jim sighed, stepping back and shaking his head. “No, you... you don’t have to apologize, all of this is my fault.”

Spock blinked.

“Jim?”

“Look, I... I’m sorry that I pushed so hard about the emotion thing last night. And for calling you a brick wall. And... and for mentioning your father.”

“Jim-!”

He held up a hand.

“No, I need to say this. I was... I was being unfair. I know that you’re not as comfortable with expressing emotions as I am, which is saying something, and it’s not okay for me to expect you to suddenly be okay with it just cause we’re dating now.” He swallowed. “And... and it’s not fair for me to demand that you share everything with me, either. It’s not like... like I’m a shining example of transparency, either.”

“I... I do not understand.”

Jim sighed, looking away.

“You... you remember how I told you that I drove a car off a cliff when I was ten? I did that because Sam ran away from home, and because... well, Sam ran away from home because of the other reason I drove the car off the cliff. Mom’s brother, Frank, he lived with us for about a year, and he... he was awful. Nothing Sam or I ever did was good enough, he kept telling us that we were wrong about stuff we saw and heard, and... and once Sam ran away and I drove the car off the cliff, he snapped. Beat the shit out of me, put me in the hospital.”

For the first time since their fight, Jim felt something come through his bond with Spock- a mixture of horror and righteous fury. He snorted.

“Yeah, sorry, Mom kinda beat you to getting back at him. She broke his nose and got him arrested. I think he died like, eight years ago or something.” He swallowed, looking at his feet. “So... yeah, I’m not exactly in the clear on the whole ‘keeping secrets’ thing, either. And... and I shouldn’t have gotten so upset with you about it anyway. You’d... you’d never do anything like Gary did, so...”

“... Who is Gary?”

Jim grimaced.

“Gary... he was my first- and last- serious relationship. I was nineteen, he was twenty, and I... god, I was crazy about him, y’know? And I thought he felt the same way, but... well... I caught him cheating on me with a waitress. And a waiter. At... at the same time.”

“Jim...”

“Anyway, uh... he kinda fucked up my ability to, to trust people I’m in a relationship with... or have serious relationships at all. Alice... Alice wasn’t the only reason I never dated before we got together, I... I was scared that if I tried to have a serious relationship again, I’d just end up get my heart broken.” He smiled a little. “But... but then I found you, and I... I know you’d never hurt me like that. And I should have remembered that before I started pressing you on being open with me. I’m... I’m sorry, Spock-!”

“Jim,” Spock breathed, and Jim barely had time to blink before he was being held tightly to Spock’s chest. “Jim, ashayam, you have nothing to apologize for.”

Jim blinked.

“Uh... yes I do. I just spent like, a good five minutes talking about it.”

“Those things are not your fault. I would not expect you to share your traumas with me until you were fully prepared to do so, and it is my fault that you were worried in the first place.”

“But I shouldn’t have-!”

“I am the one who shut you out, t’hy’la, and that was because I...” He heard Spock swallow. “Because I was afraid. I... I did not want you to know how angry I had become while we were on Platonius.”

Jim frowned, moving back so that he could look his boyfriend in the eyes.

“Spock, I know you were angry. I was angry too-!”

“You do not understand, I... I was enraged to the point that I wished to inflict violence upon Parmen and Philiana.”

Jim blinked again.

“Uh... well, I’m glad you didn’t, but y’know, after what they did to us, to you especially, it’s pretty understandable-!”

“Jim. The last person I wished to harm in that way was Khan.”

Jim blinked one last time, then felt his heart drop into his stomach as he finally realized what had made Spock so upset.

“Oh... oh, sweetheart...”

Spock was resting his forehead against Jim’s again.

“I... there are many reasons as to why I am reluctant to ever think of that man, but there are two chief among them. One is that I... the only other person that I have ever loathed so much is Nero, who is dead, while Khan yet lives in suspended animation. It... it is shameful, but I wish that he had died as well, and if his blood had not been necessary to revive you, I would have...”

“Honey,” Jim murmured, reaching up and rubbing circles behind Spock’s ears with his thumbs. “It’s alright, Spock. I know it hurt- that it still hurts, but it’s okay now. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.”

“I know this, but... the incident is a great source of shame for me for another reason.”

“It is?”

“Yes, I... until... until you were...”

Until you were dying.

The words went unsaid, both verbally and telepathically, but Jim knew that was what he meant.

“Go on.”

“Until... until that moment, I... I did not realize the depths of my affections for you. What you were to me.” Spock pressed their foreheads together once more. “And I am ashamed of that. I am ashamed that it took nearly losing you entirely to realize something that should have been obvious from the very start.”

“Spock...” Jim smiled gently. “Well, to be fair, we did hate each other in the beginning.”

“That is... that is untrue, at least on my part.”

Jim blinked.

“Wait, really? I’m, uh, I’m not entirely sure how else to read you dumping me on an ice planet, babe.”

Spock blushed, looking rather remorseful.

“I... I admit that I found you to be rather irritating when we first met, but... one does not meet one’s t’hy’la without knowing it on some level, Jim. The moment I first saw you at the academic hearing, I... I felt a sensation that I had never felt before.” He smiled, just a little. “At first, I believed that it was simply an intense disgust, but now I... what I was feeling was shan’hal’lak.”

“... Yeah, I don’t know that one.”

Spock chuckled a little, moving his hands to cradle Jim’s chin.

“It translates to ‘The Engulfment.’ The term closest in meaning in English is ‘love at first sight.’”

Jim blinked, then snickered.

“How Vulcans ever convinced anyone that they’re a bunch of emotionless logic-machines, I’ll never understand.”

“I believe it was less of a conscious effort on the part of my people, and more that we simply neglected to correct assumptions when they played into our favor.”

Jim laughed, wrapping his arms around his boyfriend’s neck and pulling him down for a kiss.

“I can’t believe you’ve been in love with me this whole time,” he murmured when they broke apart. “I would’ve sworn up and down that you thought I was an arrogant son of bitch at first.”

“I did think you were arrogant in the beginning, but I do not believe I would ever refer to your mother with such a derogatory term.”

“Oh, no, she’s a bitch and she’s proud of it. She’d tell you that herself if you asked.”

Spock furrowed his brow.

“Why would I ask her that?”

Jim laughed, shaking his head.

“It’s an expression, sweetheart.” He kissed him gently, then smiled at him. “So... are we okay?”

“I was not upset with you at any point, ashayam.”

Jim arched an eyebrow.

“Really? Even when I brought up your father?”

Spock winced slightly.

“I was... I was upset that you brought it up, yes, but not with you. I was more upset with myself for being unable to control my emotions.”

“Oh, Spock... sweetheart, look, I know that this stuff is hard for you, but I really think that it’d be healthy for you to be able to express them somehow. I know you’re half-Vulcan, but you’re also half-Human.”

Spock bit his lip, then sighed.

“I... I believe you may have a point. I have long kept my emotions buried, but I... I find that I do not wish to be as restrained when I am with you. You are... you are very dear to me, and I find I do not wish to keep my emotions from you.”

Jim smiled, kissing him once more.

“And I’ll try to be more understanding when you feel like you can’t. I won’t push you to talk about your feelings- I’ll let you come to me. Okay?”

“That is agreeable.” Spock leaned down and kissed him. Jim grinned against his lips, smirking when he pulled away.

“So... generally what happens now is the making-up part.”

“What does that entail?”

“Well, it could entail a lot of things, but I’m thinking one of us gets to have their mouth around the other’s cock.” He grinned. “I can go either way on who plays what role.”

Spock blinked, then flushed, looking away and clearing his throat.

“I... we are still on shift, t’hy’la.”

“Aw, spoilsport.” Jim kissed his cheek. “Okay, fine, but afterward?”

“... That would be amenable.”

He laughed, kissing him one last time before walking with him back to the turbolift.

“Love you,” Jim said as the turbolift started to move. Spock leaned over and pressed a kiss into his hair.

“I love you in return.”

Jim grinned as the doors opened, pressing two of his fingers to two of Spock’s just as they got out...

And found that every single member of the bridge crew was staring at them, most of them looking rather nervous.

I believe they wish to know whether we have terminated our relationship.

Nosy jerks. Kiss me?

We are on the bridge.

You want them staring at us and whispering for the rest of Alpha shift?

He felt Spock do the mental equivalent of rolling his eyes, then smiled when he kissed his cheek.

It was as if the entire bridge immediately let out a sigh of relief.

“Yeah, yeah, now get back to work,” Jim grumbled as he made his way back to his chair.

Of course, he didn’t think anyone really bought it- after all, Jim had the biggest, silliest grin on his face for the rest of Alpha shift.

 


 

2261.45

For the third time that morning, Spock found himself walking straight into a tangle of pink, white, and red streamers as he entered the mess hall. He grimaced, clearing the paper strings out of his eyes as he looked around for his mate and their child.

“Papa!” He heard Alice call. He looked to his left, his lips twitching upward when he saw her, Jim, McCoy, and Uhura sitting at a table nearby. He walked over to them, pressing two of his fingers against Jim’s when it was offered as he sat down. Alice shoved a card at him. “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Spock blinked, opening the card. Inside was a somewhat crude drawing of two stick figures holding hands, with one of them holding a smaller stick figure. The small and the tallest were both outlined in green, and had triangles sticking out the sides of their heads. Above the stick figures were the words “Happy Valentines’ Day” in neat yet childish handwriting, surrounded by anatomically-incorrect hearts.

It’s supposed to be our family. Be nice, she worked really hard on it-!

Spock was nearly overwhelmed with the sudden rush of affection he felt towards their daughter.

Oh, nevermind, then, you’ve got the idea. Also, aww...

Spock fought back a flush and the urge to glare at his mate, instead giving their daughter a small smile.

“Thank you, Alice. This is very nice.”

Alice grinned hugely, then turned to McCoy.

“Now, help us convince Uncle Bones to ask Christine to be his Valentine!”

McCoy choked on his coffee as Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“I-! I told you, I’m not gonna... she doesn’t like me that way!”

Uhura snorted.

“Leonard, everyone can see the way she looks at you. Everyone but you.”

“Yeah, I see it, and y’know,” Jim gestured at Spock, “that’s saying something, all things considered.”

McCoy rolled his eyes as he looked over at Spock.

“Come on, Spock, you’re not buying this nonsense, right?”

“It is not nonsense, Dr. McCoy. I agree with my mate, Nurse Chapel clearly is attracted to you, and as you are clearly attracted to her-!”

“I’m not!” McCoy protested.

“Your pupils tend to dilate when you are looking at her. You smile and laugh more when she is in the vicinity. You also tend to become flustered when she is talking to you.”

McCoy’s face had turned a vibrant shade of red, and Jim was laughing silently.

“I... dammit, Spock, you’re supposed to be the logical one here!”

“I am being logical. You are attracted to Nurse Chapel, and she is attracted to you. It is logical to pursue a romantic relationship with her.”

McCoy glared at him, then narrowed his eyes.

“Fine. I’ll ask her out. If Uhura asks Carol out.”

Uhura blinked, then smiled.

“Okay,” she replied, getting up from the table and strolling over to the entrance, where Dr. Marcus had just appeared. They all watched as the two women spoke, and Marcus turned bright red before nodding vigorously.

“Huh. Well.” Jim grinned as he turned back to McCoy. “Looks like you have no choice, Bones.”

McCoy turned red, stuttering uselessly.

“Christine’s over there,” Alice informed him, a sing-song tone in her voice. “You should do it now, while the day’s still young.”

McCoy gave her a look, then sighed, getting up from the table.

“Fine, but if she laughs at me I’m sticking a hypo in your neck, Jim.”

“What? Why do I get blamed?”

McCoy didn’t say anything else as he walked over to Chapel. Spock noted that he was slightly jumpy as he spoke to her, but from the way she smiled, he was rather certain that things were going well.

“We are master matchmakers, babe,” Jim said, grinning at Spock.

“You aren’t masters of anything love-related, Daddy, it took you two years to get together!”

Spock barely managed to force back a laugh.

 


 

Jim was bouncing up and down on his toes when Spock walked into his quarters, and Spock couldn’t help but smile. His mate was very cute, he had to admit.

“Of course I’m cute, what’s so hard to admit about that?” Jim said with a pout. Spock smiled as he walked over to his mate, kissing his forehead.

“Nothing, although I do wonder what the crew might think if they knew how adorable their captain truly was.”

Jim stuck out his tongue at Spock, then leaned up and kissed him.

“We’re gonna be at the base soon.”

“Then I would like to exchange gifts now, ashayam.” He held out the gift he had carefully wrapped. “This is for you.”

“Aw, Spock, you didn’t have to do anything!”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“It is customary to give a gift to one’s partner on this holiday, as my mother did for my father. Admittedly, her goal may simply have been to annoy him, as he often protested the gesture, but I believe he appreciated it. Besides that, you are holding a gift for me behind your back.”

Jim squawked, then grinned sheepishly.

“Hey, no peeking!” Jim protested jokingly as he revealed a rather poorly-wrapped lump. “Give me a break, wrapping gifts doesn’t come naturally to me!”

“I apologize, Jim. I am certain the gift will be much more aethestically pleasing than the wrapping paper. Please open your gift.”

Jim rolled his eyes, then carefully removed the wrapping paper and blinked when he saw the gift.

“A Tale of Two Cities?”

“You stated a fondness for the works of Charles Dickens, especially this book and a Christmas Carol. I was unable to locate a copy of that book, unfortunately.”

“I’m surprised you found a paper book at all-! Wait, is this... Spock, is this a first edition copy?”

“Indeed it is.”

“Spock, this was literally printed like three centuries ago! Where did you even get this?”

Spock blushed a bit, looking away.

“I... I have a fondness for antiques. Are you pleased?”

“I...” Jim smiled up at him, his eyes strangely misty. “Yes. Yes, I’m very, very pleased, sweetheart, thank you.”

Spock blinked.

“Then... why are you crying?”

Jim laughed, wiping at his eyes.

“Ah, H-Humans do that sometimes... it’s also, also cause this book... it’s special to us.”

Spock blinked, arching an eyebrow.

“I am afraid I do not understand your meaning.”

“Heh, well... you remember how the Ambassador melded with me on Delta Vega?”

Spock suppressed a twinge of jealousy, reminding himself that his counterpart had been clear that while he had loved his Jim as deeply as Spock loved his own, they were as different as Spock and his counterpart were, and the Ambassador had long since accepted his own t’hy’la’s passing.

“I do.”

“Well... some of his memories of his Jim kinda got mixed up with the info he gave me.” Jim’s smile could power the entire ship for centuries in Spock’s opinion. “And one of the things I saw was that he gave my counterpart this book for his birthday. This edition, even.”

Spock blinked.

“I... I was unaware of this. I simply thought you would like it.”

“Oh, I do, I really do, I just...” Jim grinned, kissing Spock gently. “God, I think we’re getting to be as cheesy as they were, and trust me, that’s saying something.”

“We are t’hy’lara. In any universe where we both exist, we are fated to find each other, and to love each other as we do now.”

“Really? Even in the mirror universe?”

“I suppose so, although from your depiction of it, I cannot say I wish to know how that would turn out.”

Jim laughed, shaking his head.

“Yeah, me neither.” Jim’s smile turned a bit sheepish. “Geez, now I feel a little embarrassed about my gift for you.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“Why would you be embarrassed about your gift for me?”

“Well, just... you probably spent a lot of money on yours, and I... well, I guess I spent money on materials, but, uh... the thing is, I... I kinda made your present.”

Spock’s eyebrow arched higher before he turned back to the gift, gently removing the wrapping paper and blinking when he saw the gift inside- a dark, pine-green sweater that was clearly hand-knit by an expert. Spock took a step back, letting it unfurl before holding it against his chest, confirming that it was exactly his size.

“You... you made this?”

“Ah, uh, heh, y-yeah... that’s what I was working on last week when you came into my quarters and I kinda freaked out. Almost dropped a stitch, heh.”

“I... I did not know you knew how to knit.”

“Oh, yeah, I can knit. I can sew, too- both by hand and with a machine. I can crochet, too- oh, and embroider.” Jim cleared his throat, looking a bit sheepish. “Grandma Hilde taught me when I was a kid. I was always fidgeting, so she thought it would be good for me to have something to do with my hands. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, she said. Turns out I actually had ADHD, but, y’know, it’s a good coping mechanism. Although Alice did end up with a collection of baby hats after she had to go to the hospital that one time. I was, uh, I was pretty freaked out, so I... yeah... I make things for people when I’m, y’know, feeling restless...”

Jim was babbling, and Spock could feel that his mate was nervous- in fact, he seemed to be expecting Spock to reject him. Spock smiled gently, draping the sweater over his shoulder and taking a step back towards his mate. Jim was still talking, but he trailed off when Spock put a hand on his cheek.

“Jim,” he murmured quietly. “Jim, this is... this is a very thoughtful gift. It is impressively well-made, as well as practical since my body temperature often causes me to be cold in environments suited for Humans. I am very grateful for it.”

His mate blinked, then blushed a bit.

“You... you really don’t think it’s silly? For- for me to know how to make stuff like this, I mean? I, I know it doesn’t really fit with the whole ‘macho captain’ vibe-!”

Spock silenced Jim with a kiss.

“It is not silly, and while I do not understand why knowing how to create clothing would undermine your masculinity, I am certain that it does not make you less of a man.” He quirked an eyebrow. “I also am unclear as to why you would care if you appear less masculine, since you are quite clearly a man.”

Jim blushed again, glancing around nervously.

“It’s, well... Frank, uh... let’s just say he really didn’t approve...”

Spock had to try very hard not to allow the disgust he felt at the mention of Jim’s late uncle to show on his face.

“I see. Frank was not an enlightened man, I take it.”

Jim snorted.

“Yeah, that’s, that’s putting it mildly...” Jim smiled shyly. “You... you really like it, though?”

“Yes, although... I am curious as to how you obtained my measurements for this article.”

Jim flinched, blushing and grinning sheepishly.

“Ah-heh, well... I might have... borrowed one of your uniform tops...”

Spock blinked, then arched an eyebrow.

“I gave it back! Come on, did you even notice it was missing?”

“I did not, but I am still perturbed that you borrowed an item of my clothing without asking.”

“Aw, come on, it was for a good cause!”

“Be that as it may, I am still somewhat put off by that action.”

“Ugh, fine, I’ll...” Jim blinked, then smirked lavisciously. “Well, Mr. Spock, I’m sure I know how I can make it up to you.”

Spock suppressed a shiver.

“And... and how would you do that, Captain Kirk?”

“Weeeell... I could wear the top I stole later.” Jim took his hand, rubbing circles into Spock’s knuckles with his thumb. “Just the top.”

Spock’s ears began to burn as arousal flowed through him.

“I... Jim, we have dinner reservations.”

His mate laughed, leaning up and kissing him one more.

“I didn’t mean now, babe. I meant after dinner, and after our daughter is fast asleep...”

This time, Spock was helpless to stop the shiver that ran through him.

“... That would be acceptable.”

 


 

“Spock, um... I’m glad you like the sweater so much, but... you didn’t have to wear it to dinner...”

Spock arched an eyebrow as he looked at Jim.

“It is a well-made sweater, and it is cold on this base. You also explicitly forbade me from wearing my uniform to dinner.”

“You have other sweaters.”

“I do not have any other sweaters made by you.”

Jim blushed, tugging his scarf over the lower half of his face.

“You are embarrassed.”

“I-I’m not! It’s- it’s just cold, like you said!”

“Ashayam, we are bonded. I can tell that you are flustered.”

Jim squawked, then tugged his scarf down and pouted.

“Well, well it’s your fault for being so cheesy!”

“I am not cheesy,” Spock countered as he took a step towards Jim. “I am simply very fond of you.”

Jim rolled his eyes, then closed them as Spock leaned in for a kiss. Their lips were almost touching when-!

“Spock?”

Spock pulled away at the last second, going ramrod straight as he turned away from Jim. Jim didn’t have too long to pout, though- not when he saw the extremely familiar-looking Pakistani man holding two coffees about ten feet from them.

His eyes went wide.

“Holy... holy shit, you’re-! You’re Commander Ash Tyler!”

Tyler quirked an eyebrow, looking a little amused.

“Uh... yeah, I am. And you’re Captain James T. Kirk, right?”

“Yeah, but you’re-! You’re the Ash Tyler! You’re the guy that took out like, three Klingons in ten seconds, and-! Wait, Spock, how do you know him?”

His boyfriend quirked an eyebrow.

“How do I know Ash Tyler?”

“Yeah, I mean, I know you know Michael because she’s your sister, but Commander Tyler is-!” Jim blinked, then grinned sheepishly. “Is... married to Captain Michael Burnham. He’s your brother-in-law.”

“Indeed.”

“Spock. Why are you related to so many famous people?”

“It is unintentional on my part,” Spock replied before turning to Tyler. “Commander Tyler, it is good to see you again.”

“Spock, I’ve been married to your sister for three months, you can call me Ash.”

“Very well, Ash. Is my sister here as well?”

“Oh, yeah, she just went to the bathroom with- oh, there they are.”

“Huh? What do you mean, they- Mom?”

“Mother?” Spock asked at the same time that Jim said “Mom.”

“Oh, sweetheart, hello!” Amanda greeted cheerfully. “I didn’t know you were taking leave on this base.”

“I was unaware that you were not on New Vulcan,” Spock replied. Jim could feel how flabbergasted he was.

“Amanda has spent the past three Valentine’s Days with my husband, Commander Kirk, and myself, Spock,” Michael explained.

“Ah. I see.”

The reason behind that went unexplained- no one had to say it.

Of course, Jim was a little distracted anyway- what with the way his mom was eyeing Spock’s sweater and looking at him knowingly. As usual, Winona Kirk knew everything, it seemed.

Well. This certainly wasn’t the way he was expecting to introduce his mom to his boyfriend, but he wasn’t getting out of it without doing it. Jim sighed, then reached for Spock’s hand. Just before he could take it, though, Spock moved his hand away, folding his arms behind his back. Jim blinked, furrowing his brow and looking up at his boyfriend.

What’s wrong? I thought you liked holding hands.

I do, but at the moment, I cannot. I am sorry.

What? Why not?

I-!

“Well, long as we’re all together, why don’t we spend some time catching up?” Jim’s mom suggested, her eyebrow quirked knowingly. “It’s been a while, after all.”

Jim tried not to flinch, grinning sheepishly.

“Ah-heh, well... something pretty big did happen a little while ago-!”

“Captain,” Spock interrupted. “Captain, may I speak with you for a moment? In private?”

Jim blinked.

“Captain? Spock, what’s-!”

“Please.”

He could feel Spock’s desperation through their bond, and Jim frowned, nodding.

“Um, okay... sorry, back in a minute...”

The others looked confused as they walked away. Once they were in a somewhat secluded area, Jim crossed his arms across his chest.

“You wanna tell me what that was about?”

“I apologize, ashayam, but I cannot... I cannot be affectionate with you in any way at this moment.”

“What? Why not? I know Vulcans have a lot of taboos about physical affection, but Michael and your mom already know that Vulcans can be affectionate, and, well, my mom knows everything, and I don’t think Commander Tyler would-!”

“Jim. My mother is unaware of the fact that I am gay.”

Jim blinked, then felt his lips part slightly.

“You... w... wait, you mean you, you... Spock, you never came out to your mother?!”

His boyfriend flushed a bit.

“I... no. Michael is the only member of my family whom I have informed of my sexual orientation.”

“Why- okay, look, it’s absolutely your choice as to whether you come out to someone or not, but why not? Your mom’s, like, the nicest person ever!”

Spock looked incredibly uncomfortable.

“It... it is difficult for me to... you must understand, Jim, it is... it is not the Vulcan way to be so open about such matters, and I... I refused to acknowledge that part of myself for the majority of my life. It was difficult enough to admit my homosexuality to myself, let alone Michael. My mother... I do not anticipate that she will disapprove, but... I do not even know how to begin.”

Jim felt his expression soften.

“Spock...” He smiled gently. “Well, don’t do what I did.”

Spock quirked an eyebrow.

“Which was?”

“Accidentally let her catch you making out with a guy in the barn at fifteen.”

Spock blinked, then smirked a bit, kissing Jim quickly.

“I am sorry that I cannot be as affectionate as is the norm on this holiday, dear one.”

“It’s okay, Spock, I get it. You don’t need to come out before you’re ready.” Jim smiled gently once more. “But I really don’t think you have anything to worry about.”

Spock smiled, then straightened, that Vulcan stoicism returning to his face as they returned to the rest of the group. Both Jim’s mom and Michael were giving them odd looks, but overall it was going well, and Jim was also getting some priceless stories about a four-year-old Spock playing “doctor” with the family pet (“And then he said, ‘the cancer has spread, get your house in order.’ That’s verbatim, and he said it in exactly that tone of voice.” “I did not.” “Yes you did, Spock, I was there.” “Michael, please.”)

Of course, Jim’s mom was also sharing some stories about the day six-year-old Jim discovered firecrackers, but turnabout was fair play, he supposed.

And then Amanda brought up T’Pring.

“I saw her at the market a few days ago. She looked well, Spock, although I didn’t get to talk with her much.”

Jim felt a twinge of nervousness from Spock, and he glanced at his boyfriend, wishing he could hold his hand to comfort him.

“I... I see.” Spock looked like he wanted to melt through the floor.

“Oh, Jim, do you know who T’Pring is?”

Jim choked on his soda, coughing a bit and trying to clear his throat.

“Uh, I... y-yeah, I, um, I do.”

“She’s a lovely woman, really, but...” Amanda sighed. “Well, it’s not my place to say. Besides, it won’t be relevant for a little while yet, I’m sure.”

Spock was drumming his fingers against the bench. Michael was staring at Spock incredulously. Tyler looked like he would rather be absolutely anywhere else, which Jim totally got.

Jim’s mom was giving him a confused look, and all Jim could do was shrug.

“What?” Amanda asked as she looked between her children. “Michael, why are you looking at him like that?”

“I don’t know. Spock, why am I looking at you like this?”

“... I would prefer not to say.”

“Spock. You didn’t tell her?”

“It was not relevant.”

“There is nothing more relevant-!”

“Wait, wait, slow down,” Amanda started. “I’m missing something here, now someone tell me what’s going on. Spock, what didn’t you tell me?”

Spock cleared his throat, bouncing his leg slightly.

“I... Mother, T’Pring and I are no longer betrothed.”

Amanda blinked.

“Wait, what? I thought the only way to break that bond was through-!” Her eyes widened. “S’Chn T’Gai Spock.”

Oop, full name. Spock was in trouble.

Not helpful, t’hy’la.

“Mother, I believe that we should discuss this in private.”

“Yes, I believe we should. I cannot believe you, I spoke to her for four minutes like she was still going to be my daughter-in-law!”

Jim bit back a snicker as his boyfriend walked away, pursued by his tiny, angry mother.

Good luck, babe.

“So,” Michael started, drawing Jim out of his thoughts. “I want to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth- how long have you been dating my little brother?”

Jim choked on his own spit, then groaned.

“How did you find out?”

“Scuttlebutt,” Tyler told him as he draped an arm around Michael’s shoulders. “Word travels fast around Starfleet, Jim.”

“I can’t believe you knit the guy a sweater,” Jim’s mom commented, smirking. “You must have it bad, shortstack.”

All Jim could do was laugh sheepishly. He then paused, a thought coming to him.

“Hey, wait, Mom, how do you know Spock’s mom anyway?”

His mom snorted.

“Kid, I’ve been friends with Amanda Grayson since before your brother was even a twinkle in your dad’s eye.”

Jim blinked, then made a face.

“Mom, ew.”

“What? You’re a parent, you know that babies are what happen when two people-!”

“Mom! Gross-a-rooney!”

“Aren’t you twenty-eight?”

“Aren’t you fifty-seven?”

“Hey, I’m middle-aged, not dead!”

Jim groaned, putting his face down on the table.

 


 

Spock’s mother was angry with him. He knew this both because he could see the expression on her face, and because he could feel it through their bond.

“Alright, Spock, now. Start from the beginning.”

Spock swallowed, straightening and not making eye contact with his mother.

“My Time began on stardate 2260.62, seven days after the beginning of the Enterprise’s five year mission.”

“Spock, you’re only thirty-one. It shouldn’t have happened until you were at least thirty-seven!”

“Generally, yes, however... since the Ambassador confirmed that his first pon farr came at the usual age, I believe that the decimation of the Vulcan race may have forced mine to come early. In any case, I ended up disclosing this to Ji- the captain on stardate 2260.64, and and we arrived on New Vulcan the next day, at which point I initiated the koonut kaliffee. However, T’Pring chose the challenge-!”

“She what?!”

“She was well within her rights to do so, Mother. And I... I do not begrudge her for it, as I had no desire to be bonded to her either.” Spock swallowed, then took a small breath. “Or... or to any woman.”

His mother was silent for a moment, though it felt like an eternity.

“Spock... sweetheart, what are you saying?”

“I am saying that I do not... I do not experience attraction to women in a romantic or sexual sense.” His ears were burning again. “I... I do experience romantic and sexual attraction, but only... only towards members of my own gender. To put it plainly, I... I am gay, Mother.”

“You... you are?”

Spock blinked, looking down at his mother, who did indeed look quite stunned.

“You... you did not know?”

“Know? Honey, how would I know that, you never told me!”

“Michael knew before I told her.”

“Wh- You told Michael?”

Spock blushed.

“I... we had a similar conversation to this one last year, although... there has been a rather large change since then.”

His mother quirked an eyebrow.

“Oh?”

“Yes, it... it concerns my relationship with my cap... with Jim.”

“Jim Kirk?”

“I do not know any other Jims. While at the time of my conversation with Michael, Jim was my captain and close friend, in the year since then, our relationship has... changed rather significantly.” He hesitated, then took a breath. “In that it has... it has become romantic in nature.”

“W... Wait, you’re... you’re dating your captain? Spock, Starfleet’s fraternization laws-!”

“Do not apply here. If we were simply dating, they would, but the nature of our relationship is... Mother, Jim and I are t’hy’lara.”

His mother blinked before her eyes widened, a smile gracing her lips before she pressed her palms together in front of her mouth.

“Oh, sweetheart, that’s- that’s wonderful!”

Spock blinked.

“You... you are not disappointed?”

“Spock, of course not! I love you, and what I want most is for you to be happy.” His mother smiled. “And if Jim Kirk is what makes you happy, then... well, I’m a little surprised considering how you complained about him when you first met him, but if he’s what makes you happy, and you love and care about each other, then I’m happy for you.”

Spock blushed a bit, but still smiled.

“I... I do love him. Very much.” He took a step towards his mother. “And... and I love you as well, Mother.”

His mother blinked once, twice, three times before her eyes began to water.

“Oh, Spock...”

“I... I did not say it very often as a child. Or an adolescent, or... or ever. But that does not mean that I did not-!”

It was at that moment that Spock’s mother rushed forward and pulled him into a hug. He felt a rush of affection from her, and in that moment, he could not help but hug her back.

Though he had protested the gesture as he’d gotten older, he’d secretly always been fond of his mother’s hugs. There had been a warmth in her embrace that he’d always found comforting.

Even now, that was still the case.

 


 

I’m glad everything’s cool between you and your mom.

Spock smiled, glancing up at the door to the bathroom. He could hear the fresher running- Jim had insisted on showering tonight rather than in the morning.

Yes. She was quite happy to learn about the change in our relationship, as well as the fact that she finally has a grandchild. Although she did express some disappointment at the fact that she will never get to have a grandchild who is a baby.

You didn’t tell her about David, did you?

No. It could have a detrimental effect on the timeline, and I thought it would be better to surprise her in any case.

He could feel Jim’s amusement through their bond, then heard the fresher turn off. Moments later, the door to the bathroom opened, and Spock promptly dropped his PADD in his lap.

“Y’know, I like being a captain, but I gotta say, I might have missed my calling as a Science officer,” Jim commented as he leaned up against the doorway, smirking seductively. “I look damn good in Science blues.”

Spock agreed with that statement wholeheartedly, but did not voice it- instead, he calmly placed the PADD on the nightstand, got out of bed, walked over to his mate, and picked him up. Jim yelped in surprise, but did not protest as Spock carried him back to the bed and pinned him to it.

“Mine,” he stated before capturing Jim’s lips in a bruising kiss. He repeated the word as he pressed kisses to Jim’s jaw and neck, then through the uniform top from collarbone to navel. Jim whimpered and mewled, and by the time Spock got between his legs he was already quite thoroughly aroused. Spock’s mouth watered at the sight, and for a moment, he considered simply taking him in his mouth, but then another thought occurred to him.

“What?”

“I...” Spock swallowed, blushing a bit. “You are... you are free to say no, of course, but... I wish to try something different tonight.”

Jim blinked, quirking an eyebrow.

“Yeah?”

“I... I wish to...” Spock bit his lip, then focused on his bond with Jim, sending him a mental image of the act he wished to perform on Jim. His mate flushed a deep shade of red, his length twitching a bit as it hardened further.

“Oh... oh!” Jim grinned down at him, propping himself up on his elbows. “Wow, haven’t done that one in a while.”

“Would... would you like me to...?”

“Oh, definitely,” Jim replied before rolling onto his stomach. “Have at, babe.”

Spock swallowed a bit of excess saliva as he took Jim’s buttocks in hand, pulling them apart and leaning down.

He then paused as a thought came to him.

“What the- ugh, yes, Spock, it’s clean down there. Geez, what do you think I was doing in the shower for so looooeeeep!”

Spock noted that this was a very effective way to get Jim to stop talking as he lapped at his mate’s hole.

“H-Hey, I can shut up- oooh, yeah, right there, yesss...”

I live to serve you, t’hy’la.

This was the last coherent thought Spock had for the next few hours. It was not until he had a sated Jim fast asleep in his arms that the next one arrived.

I should wonder how I ever managed to be as lucky as to have you as my t’hy’la.

Chapter Text

2261.84

It was supposed to be a simple mission. Go to the Elba II asylum, pick up the exonerated Vulcan inmate known only as “Max,” then take him to New Vulcan. Jim hadn’t even been worried about having a mental patient onboard- it had been proven that his actions were in defense of others, and the victims were slavers that traded in “rare and exotic species,” such as Vulcans after the Nero Incident. They’d take him to a facility on New Vulcan, where he’d be much better off, and that would be the end of it.

Of course, since this was Jim Kirk’s life, that wasn’t the end of it. Instead, he was stuck in a cell with the asylum’s governor, watching as a former Starfleet hero had the love of his life dragged away and went on and on about ruling the universe or whatever.

Seriously. One normal mission. That was all Jim was asking for.

“Huh, guess they forgot me again,” a voice said once Garth and Marta had left.

Jim jumped, scrambling back as he looked into the shadowy cell across from him. He’d already seen Garth turn into him- he didn’t need any more surprises.

“Oh, sorry!” The voice said again. Jim could vaguely make out a figure in the darkness. “Didn’t mean to startle you. People just tend to forget about me, so I shouldn’t really be surprised.”

“It’s... it’s fine...” Jim squinted a bit. “Come into the light.”

The figure hesitated, then slowly stepped out into the light, revealing a tall, dark-haired Vulcan man in white robes. His long hair was curly and messy, and his beard was ill-kempt.

He also looked eerily like Jim’s boyfriend. Like, scarily like him, though his nose was a little lower.

“Hi,” the Vulcan said after a minute. “I’m Max.”

Jim blinked.

“M... Max?”

“Well, that’s what they call me. I don’t think it’s my name, since it stands for ‘Maximum Security Prisoner 12.’”

“Well, what is your name?”

Max shrugged.

“Hell if I know. I don’t remember anything before about... uh... eight months ago, I think?” An odd look passed over Max’s features. “I, uh... I don’t particularly like remembering anything from before three months ago, though. Not pleasant. So maybe I’m just not trying hard enough...?”

“Max, we’ve scanned you over and over again,” Dr. Cory finally managed to say, though he still looked more than a little worse for wear. “There’s no evidence that you have any personal memories prior to eight months ago, and pushing yourself to remember will only cause you further psychological harm.”

“But how else I am ever gonna remember who I used to be?”

“I told you, Max, you’ve been cleared of wrongdoing. You’re going to be taken to a facility on New Vulcan, where you’ll be treated from now on. They’ll be able to restore your memories through telepathic treatments.”

Max blinked.

“When did you tell me that?”

“... Yesterday.”

Max blinked again, then grinned sheepishly.

“Uh, sorry, doc, I... I kinda spent most of yesterday dissociating, I don’t remember... really anything that happened all day.”

Cory sighed.

“Sorry... anyway, uh, Kirk, right? What are you doing here?”

“Oh, uh... I’m the captain of the ship that was supposed to take you over to New Vulcan.” He jerked his head towards the entrance. “The guy you saw get dragged away was my first officer, Spock.”

Max blinked, and Jim could’ve sworn that he saw something resembling recognition flash dimly in his eyes.

“Spock... I don’t know why, but I feel like I’ve heard that name before...”

Jim grinned a little.

“Yeah, well, that might be cause he’s the best First Officer in Starfleet.”

Max blinked again, then smiled and shook his head.

“I don’t think that’s it, but something else is clear to me now.”

“Oh?”

“Yup. He’s your boyfriend, huh?”

Jim squawked, turning bright red.

“I-! H-How did you...?”

Max shrugged.

“It was written all over your face. I’m pretty good at reading people.” Max sighed as he sat down, sitting criss-cross. “Still, he did look familiar, but... nope. It’s a blank. Anyway, I should tell ya- you’re not gonna get too far with Garth. I may not be entirely present for... good chunks of the day, but guy’s got some weird delusions of grandeur. Plus, he can shapeshift. Seems like a bad combination to me.”

Jim frowned.

“I read about him back in the Academy. He used to be such a legend.”

Max shrugged.

“I don’t know anything about that, just that he talks half the night and I barely get any sleep. What’s worse is I don’t even think he knows I exist, cause everyone else sleeps just fine.”

Jim blinked.

“He talks at night? What about?”

“I dunno. Sounds like random nonsense about taking over the universe. Last night he basically just said what he said to you about the Enterprise-!”

“Captain!” Garth suddenly called, sashaying a bit as he entered the room. “Captain Kirk! I hope you haven’t been too uncomfortable, sir!”

“... you threw me in a jail cell.”

“Well, it is a rather nice one! Now, I’ve been quite remiss in my duties as your host. I’d like to renew my offer to have you and Mr. Spock join me for dinner.”

Jim all but leapt to his feet.

“What did you do to him? Where is he?”

Garth laughed, shaking his head.

“Ah, don’t be so quick to anger, my dear man. He’s right here.” Garth turned. “Marta!”

Jim watched as Spock, who was thankfully unharmed, was escorted back in, surrounded by the other inmates and restrained by Marta.

“Why can’t I blow just one of his ears off?” Marta whined.

“Oh, stop that, Marta, Mr. Spock will think we’re lacking in hospitality!” Garth chastised before turning back to Jim and lowering the cell’s forcefield. “Won’t you join us, Captain Kirk?”

Jim gave Garth a hard look, then walked out of the cell, doing his best not to show how relieved he was that his boyfriend was okay.

“How are you, Mr. Spock?” Are you okay, sweetheart? I swear, if that bastard harmed one hair on your head-!

“Very well indeed, thank you, Captain.” I am well, ashayam, as are all the hairs on my head.

Jim bit back a smile, then looked back at Garth.

“Isn’t Dr. Cory joining us?”

“Ah, I’m afraid he doesn’t seem to be on the guest list.”

“An oversight?”

Garth smirked.

“An intentional one. The good doctor’s fasting, you see.”

“Hm.” Jim peered over Garth’s shoulder. “Well, what about Max?”

Garth blinked.

“Max?”

“Hey, Garth,” Max greeted. “You forgot I was in here again, huh?”

Garth blinked, then looked annoyed as he turned around.

“Max. You had your chance to join us already, and you said nothing.”

“Eh? Wait, when did you ask?”

“... Yesterday.”

“Yeeeaaaah, I remember just about none of yesterday, Garth.” Max rapped his knuckles against his head. “This brain of mine’s a little spacey, remember?”

Jim was about to laugh, but then he suddenly felt a wave of shock from his boyfriend. When he turned to look at Spock, his eyes were wide, his mouth hanging open slightly.

Babe? Everything okay?

I... Jim... I do not know how this is possible, but-!

“Fine, fine, Max, you may join us for dinner. But if you cause trouble-!”

“Hey, when have I ever caused trouble?” Max protested as he stood up, walking over to them when the forcefield was lifted. “That’s your thing, remember?”

Garth scoffed, then motioned for them to follow him.

“Hi, by the way,” Max said to Spock, sticking out his hand. “I’m Max. You’re Spock, right?”

Jim felt another wave of shock from his boyfriend, this time accompanied by an odd sense of hurt.

“I am Spock, yes. You are Vulcan.”

“That’s what they tell me.”

“Did they not also inform you