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Drink Your Heart Away

Chapter Text

The last afternoon docked at star base 180.

Bones sighed. He hated when the med bay got its supply delivery late in a shore leave. It always caused problems. Either pallets of necessary items were missing or something was broken.

There were working parties of people loading the pallets and were making sure objects were getting moved to the right locations in the ship, from storerooms to the mess or even in Medical itself.

Spock was directing them with help from a person from the Quartermaster's department. Spock would lead the assistant properly as the crew loaded the last of the supplies for the next several months onto the ship. The actual quartermaster was standing next to Bones, as Bones tried not to yell at him.

“Look I know you did your best but I need to have that medication on the ship!” Bones said, trying to keep his temper down. The quartermaster didn’t need his ire. It wasn’t his fault that the supply guys on Starbase 180 couldn’t do anything right.

The quartermaster, informally known as QM, was a short human who always looked ready to tear his hair out on shore leave. “Sir, I know! But it’s going to be late. There’s nothing I can do about that. The shipment is late and I can’t make it get here earlier.” The man gestured down to the padd in his hand. “It will be here before we leave tomorrow morning, but that’s the best I can promise you, Doctor McCoy.”

Bones didn’t bother sighing. “Fine. I’ll sign off on the rest then,” holding his hand out to take the padd. “I’m sure it will show up.”

QM looked relieved and passed over the padd.

Bones did sigh as he signed his name on the padd in several locations. It never did well to piss off Supply. They were vital to the ship life and to make an enemy of the supply department usually caused problems. Them, and the yeomen. He’d learned early not to piss them off either. He passed the padd back and the Quartermaster took off to deal with the next delivery.

Bones just wanted to get the shipment counted and on board. All that was left to load was his medical team’s supplies, the Vulcan delegation’s supplies, and the mess’ food order. The Vulcan delegation’s supplies and finds weren’t finished being loaded, but they would finish later in the late evening. The mess always was the last thing to be loaded, because the food would be fresher that way.

“Problems with the shipment?” Jim asked as he walked down the ramp that lead to the interior of the ship’s loading dock.

Bones gave him a long look that promised pain over being asked a stupid question. “Of course, there is. But that’s Starbases for you.” Bones really didn’t blame the quartermaster for the delay.

He blamed the Starbase.

Jim laughed and clapped Bones on the shoulder, “Yep! But QM will have it fixed by the time we leave.” He drew even with Bones. Jim was, for the first time this shore leave, not wearing a dress or service uniform. He was dressed in his gold command working shirt. Bones was relieved. Jim’s stress levels always went down when he got back into the gold shirt. Bones really didn’t understand it himself. Bones hated that uniform. But to be fair, he hated all the uniforms.

“When’s our leave time tomorrow?” he asked instead of grousing about the shipment.

Jim smirked at him like he knew what Bones was thinking. “0700 ship time, so that’s about 0900 base time.”

“Ugh, I hate the time differences between a ship and any location. Why can’t the starbases be at the same time that the ships are on?” Bones groaned. He hated having to adjust every time they docked somewhere or when they were in orbit above a planet.

Jim’s smirk only grew. They had this discussion before and at length. Bones made his opinion quite clear every time. “The Federation is... working on it. I don’t know how many Starbases now match ship standard time, but I know it’s a great deal of them. Starbase 180 just isn’t one of them yet. You’ll have to ask Scotty for a full count.” Jim knew that Bones would only grumble but never try to leave.

Somewhere along the way, Bones found out he had a home on the Enterprise.

“Ask Scotty for a full count of what?” Scotty’s voice came from behind them.

Jim and Bones jumped in surprise, turning around to face Scotty.

“How many Starbases are left that haven’t gone to the standard ship time?” Bones asked. He had celebrated the announcement that the starbases and the ships would be at the same time. it made being docked at a starbase so much easier and prevented problems like missing shipment of medical supplies from happening.

Scotty thought about it. “I think the last report said that about seventy-five percent of the Starbases had made the switch.”

“Good.” Bones grumbled. “Maybe next time we stop at a Starbase then I won’t have to deal with time differences in addition to being stuck in space.” He meant it too. If he was stuck in space then the least a Starbase could do was be in time with the ship.

Scotty and Jim laughed.

Bones had to smile at their joy.

“What brings you out here anyway?” Bones asked when the other two had finally gained control of themselves.

None of them should have been dealing with a hangover. They hadn’t drunk that much last night. it was just a beer or two with friends. So, they shouldn’t need any doctoring from him.

“Just checking out the final loading,” Jim said. He always made sure to be seen by his crew. Even if it was simple as walking around while working parties got the supply shipments on the ship. It was important to him that his crew didn’t fear him - and that he was never intimidating. Bones knew of Jim’s desire to be close to his crew of five hundred.

Scotty had a different answer. “Looking for you, Captain.”

Jim tilted his head in curiosity. “What’s up, Scotty?” he asked.

“Well, you remember the project Nyota and I have been working on?” he asked. Bones remembered the project. It was something to do with the communications systems. Knowing Scotty’s perchance for the mad and Uhura’s determination to ease communications, the project was probably borderline or completely against regulations but ultimately would be brilliant .

Jim nodded, “I know that you’ve been super-secret about something!” he was grinning. Jim looked like he couldn’t wait to see what Scotty and Uhura had come up with. Bones revered, with a familiar feeling of fond dread, that everyone on the ship was mad.

Scotty was just madder than the rest.

“Aye. Well, we’re ready to show you what we want to do.”  Scotty ginned.

Jim matched the look. “Two of my best minds, working on a harebrained project that will probably save the Enterprise when we least expect it? Hell yeah!”

As Scotty protested the use of the word ‘harebrained’, Bones glanced around.

Several of the members of the Vulcan delegation had arrived, including the leader and that one asshole who Bones had met during the formal dinner.

Bones still wanted to punch that guy in the face. He’d been so rude. The Vulcan, Jolvek, had been insulting to Jim’s Captaincy, and had spent a good bit of time trying to prove to them that Spock was the true Captain.

And any member of the crew could tell you that was a lie. Spock was a decent leader. But Jim Kirk was a great Captain.

As Bones watched, Jolvek broke away from the leader of the group to make a beeline toward Spock.

“Oh no.” Bones said, drawing the attention of the other two. Jim and Scotty ended their debate and followed Bones’ gaze.

“What’s ‘oh no’?” Jim asked as he craned his neck to see what Bones was looking at.

Bones pointed with a jerk of his thumb. “That one Vulcan, bless his stupid heart, is going to try once again to talk to Spock.”

Scotty winced. Clearly, he had been filled in with what had been going on by Uhura. “We should go to rescue Spock. Or stop Spock from nerve pinching his ass.”

“Ok…” Jim eyed them. “What do you two know that I don’t?”

Bones caught Scotty’s eye and shook his head. “We’ll tell you later. But we need to get to Spock.”  Bones wasn’t going to let Spock deal with that asshole alone again. He’d only left during the formal dinner because he’d been watching both Pasha and Riley. If Bones hadn’t been on duty watching them, then Jolvek would have been introduced to Bones’ fist several times.

“Ok.” Jim agreed. “Let’s go.”

-

Meanwhile across the loading bay

Spock knew his official task was superfluous in all honesty. He was on duty and it was his job to supervise the crew while they loaded the last of the supplies the ship needed.

It was an important task, as after the stop at New Vulcan the ship wasn’t going to be at a Starbase or a Federation Planet for several months. The ship needed gear, food, medical supplies, and the rest of the items needed to run a Starship of the Enterprise’s class and size.

But the crew worked well together. Every department was represented as the Quartermaster’s team directed the flow of traffic. From the botany lab, taking in new fertilizer and other needed items, to the engineering teams receiving pallet after pallet of parts and tools they would need. The astrophysics labs were even expecting a shipment.

The supplies were the ones that would be difficult to replicate or is just easier to have on hand.

Spock’s official job was to supervise and be in command of the loading of the supplies but he knew he was unnecessary. Jim and he demanded perfection of the crew and the crew was always willing to give it.

They didn’t need Spock present particularly, but as Jim always preferred to be seen by his crew, Spock followed suit.

He saw Dr. McCoy across the loading bay, arguing with the Quartermaster about a part of the shipment that was supposed to go med bay. The Quartermaster was always stressed during the on-boarding of the shipments but he was an excellent organizer.

The Quartermaster’s first assistant came up to Spock with a padd. “Sir. The Vulcans are asking about their luggage. It’s the last thing from the delegation’s shipment that needs to be loaded.” The woman didn’t look as harried as the Quartermaster but she was brisk.

Renank was close behind her. Spock greeted him in Vulcan and then turned to the quartermaster’s assistant. “The luggage will be one of the first things off so the pallets will be one of the last ones on. Everything is proceeding according to schedule.”

The woman nodded and moved on, hurrying over to where the messes perishable food order had just arrived.

“Your crew has worked hard, Mr. Spock,” Renank said. “I am sure the next two weeks will be calm.” He watched the crew as they moved. A part of the Vulcan delegation was moving around the last of their luggage. Doing final checks of the gear before it was placed in the holding bay. Jolvek was a part of that group.

Spock resolved to ignore the other Vulcan; Jolvek was not worth Spock’s time.

“I am sure it will be,” Spock said, turning his attention back to his own padd with the information from the shipment on it. “A peaceful journey to return to our new home.”

They both exchanged farewells before Renank left him to join his party by the luggage.

Movement caught Spock’s attention, pulling his attention from the padd.

Jim was at the edge of the loading dock. He was back in his gold command shirt. There was something right in the universe when Jim wore his command gold. Gold for the best captain Starfleet had and will ever have. Jim waved at the crew as he walked around the bay. He was heading to Doctor McCoy. McCoy said something that caused Jim to start laughing.

Spock thought he looked beautiful.

He hoped that maybe soon he would have the courage to tell Jim just how he felt. But for now, Spock would watch and try to flirt subtlety.

Spock watched as Mr. Scott came up and joined the group. And soon they were all laughing.

The Quartermaster’s assistant hurried up to him and handed him a padd. Spock saw that the padd held the missing and unable to be fulfilled list. Spock signed below the quartermaster’s signature, acknowledging the lack of items and that they would be stocked as soon as Starfleet could get a shuttle to them.

After placing his name on the padd, the Assistant Quartermaster hurried off to the next part of their job and Spock returned to what he was doing before; watching Jim.

You watch him with eyes that say a lot, Mr. Spock. ” Jolvek’s voice came from behind him. “ He’s still not worth your desire. ”  He spoke to Spock in Vulcan, something that caused the nearest crewmembers to stop and glance in their direction in confusion. The Vulcans delegation had only had spoken Standard since they had arrived on the ship. The crewmembers would recognize the change in languages.  

They were part of the communications team.

Spock refrained from sighing. It would do him no good. The communications team may not understand what he and Jolvek were saying, as Vulcan wasn’t a common language to learn despite Nyota’s best efforts, but they could read his body language well enough.

You are wrong, Jolvek, ” he said simply, also in Vulcan. He wouldn’t rise to this attempt to get his attention. He would not consider Jolvek to be a potential mate.

“I am not. I will prove it to you .” Jolvek said with enough determination that Spock looked at him fully for the first time. There was a glint in his eyes that surprised Spock. It was recklessness - a rare trait in Vulcans.

“And how do you plan to do that?” Spock asked. He placed his padd on a crate nearby, leaving his hands free. He didn’t know what Jolvek was planning but Spock was going to make sure that if he was going to fight then his hands would be free.

I will prove it to you by besting him in a contest of arms. I am the better choice. ” Jolvek said, taking a step forward in the direction that Jim was in.

Spock moved to stop the man. He placed himself between Jolvek and Jim. He would defend his mate. He would prove to Jim that he was a good mate by defending him from enemies. “ No, you will not. ” Spock nearly growled.

Spock could hear the normal loud chatter from the working parties become more muted then they had a moment before. He suspected that this tête-à-tête was catching the attention of others.

Jolvek looked angry for a heartbeat before the expression faded to just tension in his shoulders and clenched fists. “ Why? Why do you protect him? He’s not worth you or your abilities. It matters not that he is a hero! Or that he comes from a family of heroes! I am better. I can provide more than he can!”

Despite the Vulcan words, the tone wasn’t one that most Vulcan’s would use. Jolvek was angry and it was showing. The harsh, furious tone of Jolvek was carrying.

More of the chatter behind Spock faded. Spock paid the difference little attention. He focused his concentration on the person in front of him blocked out the unnecessary sound. His brain cutting out the information he didn’t need for his goal.

There was a threat to Jim in front of him.

He would defend Jim.

“I think you need to rethink your path, ” Spock said. “It is clear that you are being controlled by your emotions.” It was the biggest insult he could think of, short of borrowing from Jim and simply cursing the other Vulcan out. “I have rejected you. It is not logical to keep trying to ensnare me in a bond. I will not comply.” He kept his back to the crew, sure that they would cover him if need be.

He would not take his eyes off the threat.

Because of him? ” Jolvek asked. He sounded calmer than before but his hands were still balled up into fists. “ I can provide more! We are of similar intelligence. I have projects we can work on. I am sure that when the time comes, we will be compatible.”

Jolvek’s reference to Pon Farr made Spock flinch. His time wasn’t something he wished to think of. His other self had warned him that he was going to go through it in his future. However, with the loss of Vulcan, neither knew when that would be. “I already have a preferred mate for my time,” Spock said.

He was glad this part of the conversation was in Vulcan. Nyota was the only one other than the Vulcans who could follow the conversation and she was not there. She was currently on the bridge holding the conn.

“I highly doubt that we, Jolvek, are compatible. The Captain is much more than just merely compatible.” Spock said. it was the truth, something that Spock knew in his bones.

Jim and he had something special.

“More than compatible? Do you honestly think that you might be t’hy’la with a human, of all creatures? ” Jolvek said. His disdain when he spat out the Vulcan word for a human was nearly painful to hear.

Spock would have glared at him for the slight against his heritage, against his mother but the word t’hy’la had taken all of his attention.

Because it made sense. Jim was his t’hy’la. Jim was his other half, his other part of his soul. His be all and everything. Jim was his friend, his brother and his chosen companion. His wished-for lover.

T’hy’la.

That explained some of what Spock was feeling in his katra.

“You do. You think you are t’hy’la with a human. ” Jolvek said sounding stunned. It took a moment before all of the anger, he was feeling came up to the surface and his expression changed from one of cool indifference of a Vulcan to one of anger and hate. Jolvek’s eyes flicked over the shoulder of Spock but did Spock not take his eyes off of the threat to Jim. that’s all Jolvek was now. A threat.   “How disappointing, the best of the Vulcans thinks a human is the best he can get. I can show you much more.”

“I do,” Spock said simply. “He is the sun to my planet. Necessary and logical to life, my life .”

Jolvek glared at Spock. “He is unworthy.”

“I do not believe he is. He is, by far, worthier than you. ” Spock growled out. He was rapidly running out of patience for this conversation.

“What is going on here?” Jim’s voice was commanding and came from close behind Spock. Spock felt a moment of relief that Jim was close to him, which made him easier to protect from the threat.

Jim came up on Spock’s right side. Spock stepped forward to keep Jim behind him. Jim placed his hand on Spock’s upper arm. “Spock, what’s going on? What’s with the defensive posture?” he murmured, just low enough that most of the crew would not be able to hear what was said.

Jolvek currently could.

“I am fine Jim. Jolvek and I are merely having a disagreement.” Spock said. Despite his realization that Jim was his t’hy’la, Spock was unsure that Jim was interested in him in such a way. This was deeper than just merely agreeing to date a close friend.

This was much more. This was Everything.

Jim frowned. “This conversation looks like much more than just a disagreement, Spock.” His hand was still on Spock’s upper arm. It was like a brand. Jim’s emotions were powerful. He was concerned, ready for a fight and worried. There was something else that Spock had always felt from Jim but never was able to identify, something that was undoubtedly part of Jim’s very soul.

“It's fine,” Spock said, ignoring how the phrase made Jim’s eyebrows raise into his hairline. Jim noticed the contraction as well as his use of the word ‘fine’.

“Now I absolutely believe you,” Jim said in a tone that was full of sarcasm.

Spock still hadn’t taken his full attention from Jolvek. The other Vulcan was growing angrier.

“I demand a challenge for your hand, S’hin T’gai Spock.” Jolvek said, “I demand to fight the other suitor for your hand. I will come out victorious and you will bond with me.”

There was something changed in his tone and words that a part of Spock’s mind started to think about but the rest of him was more concerned with the illogical declaration.

Spock would not let that stand.

Neither apparently, would Jim, who could apparently tell fighting words no matter what language they were spoken in, as he attempted to step forward to fight Jolvek.

Spock held his arm out to stop Jim from moving forward.

“There is no logic in your statement, Jolvek,” Spock said, matching his tone. “For you to fight for my hand, I would have needed to accept your suit. I have not. Furthermore, you cannot fight Jim. I wish to be his suitor, not the other way around.”

There was a gasp from right next to him that took Spock a moment to realize was from Jim.

Because there was silence.

And the part of Spock’s brain that was working on the difference in Jolvek’s speech finally figured it out.

Jolvek hadn’t issued his challenge in Vulcan.

He had been speaking Standard.

And Spock had responded to him in the same language. Something he was used to doing as he and Nyota liked to play with languages while having conversations.

Then Spock realized the silence from the bay wasn’t just because his brain was filtering the excess information.

It was because the crew had stopped working to listen in.

Spock dropped his hand and stepped away from Jim. he drew himself up straight. and was unsure of what he should do. It was far too early to tell Jim how he felt. But now Jim knew. He knew that Spock was interested in seeing him romantically. The whole crew knew that Spock was in love with the Captain.

It was far too early. Jim wasn’t acting any different. They were only just friends. Spock hadn’t experimented to see if flirting was going to be well received. He didn’t know if Jim was interested.

He just didn’t know.

He avoided looking at Jim. He wouldn’t be able to handle seeing him at that moment.

Jolvek looked smug like he had won something when Spock met his eyes. Spock didn’t feel a thing as he spun on his heel and walked away from the crowd.

The crew parted and let him through. Spock didn’t register the expressions on their faces. He didn’t register anything.

He just left.

He didn’t know where he was going.

-

In the loading bay

As Jim had walked over to where Spock and Jolvek were talking, he noticed that the crew nearest them had stopped working and were instead watching the two Vulcans with rapt attention.

Jim was worried. Spock was facing away from him but he was standing in a defensive posture. It was like he was preparing to protect the crew. The lines of tension were something that most people couldn’t read but Jim could.

He could put good money on that the communications team, the nearest ones to Spock, could read him too. Uhura trained her people well.

Bones and Scotty, both just a step behind Jim, could read the tension in Spock’s shoulders. They could read the stance and they were apparently prepping for a fight.

As they got closer Jim could hear that Spock and Jolvek were speaking in Vulcan. Whatever Jolvek was staying was causing Spock to respond with a heated tone.

Apparently, Jolvek wasn’t happy with Spock’s response because he was also getting angrier. “ …Tor du nah-tor ik du lau nam-tor t’hy’la k' wuh komihn ?”

Jim didn’t understand much from Vulcan. He knew the Vulcan word for human, however. He also understood the disdain that filled Jolvek’s voice when he said ‘komihn’.

Whatever was being said had something to do with humans. Which pissed Jim off. But Spock didn’t react in any way that Jim expected.

Spock straightened in surprise. Surprised by what, Jim didn’t know. He couldn’t see Spock’s face still. Jim was close enough, however, to hear Spock mummer “T’hy’la. ” to himself. It honestly sounded like he didn’t know he was speaking.

Then Spock’s shoulders went back as Jolvek said something else in Vulcan. “Du tor.  Du nah-tor du nam-tor t’hy’la k' wuh komihn.” Jolvek glanced over Spock’s shoulder and saw Jim. Jim held his gaze for a moment before Jolvek went back to staring at Spock. “ Ra vravshaya.  Wuh buhfik t' wuh Vuhlkansu nah-tor wuh komihn tor wuh buhfik au mokuhlek prah.  Nash-veh mokuhlek gluvaya du mau weht.” Jolvek spat out.

That apparently caused Spock to snap too. Jim watched as he stood up straight and looked down his nose at Jolvek, “Nash-veh tor. Ang'jmizn nam-tor wuh yel tor t'nash-veh ek'tra.  Bolayatik heh olozhikaik tor ha'kiv.”

Jim caught his rank in whatever Spock just said. He berated himself for not learning Vulcan before. Uhura was always trying to get more people to learn how to speak the language. And Jim's got a letter to learn how to write.

Bones stepped next to Jim. “I don’t like this. Jolvek is an asshole. Who knows what he’s telling Spock right now.” He whispered. Bones glanced around at the crew and Jim followed. Most of the crew had stopped and were now making their way over to the drama that involved their first officer.

Jim didn’t blame them. It was unlike Spock to act like this. Or really, it was unlike Spock to act this way when they were on a Starbase. Spock could be just as protective of the crew as Jim while they were out in space.

Jim had been ambivalent to Jolvek’s presence on the ship, despite the Vulcan’s apparent dislike of him. But that was rapidly changing to an outright dislike of Jolvek. If the other Vulcan could draw this protectiveness out of his normally calm First Officer then Jim didn’t want him on the Enterprise longer then he had to be.

“I don’t like where this is going,” Jim said to Bones and Scotty. still watching as Spock actually growled something at Jolvek. He had to interrupt.

“What’s going on here? Spock, what’s wrong?” he asked. He stopped at Spock’s right in an attempt to move into the center to break up the fight, but Spock refused to let Jim past him. Spock took a step forward and placed Jim behind him again. Jim placed his hand on Spock’s upper arm in an attempt to steady himself. “What’s with defensive posture?”

Spock hadn’t taken his eyes off Jolvek. Despite the way, he was a defensive barrier in front of Jim. Jim didn’t know what Jolvek had said or done to reach that level of threat to Spock but Jim trusted his opinion.

“It’s fine Jim. Jolvek and I are merely having a disagreement.” Spock lied.

Jim didn’t believe him for a moment. Nothing about this situation said ‘disagreement’ and all of it said ‘impending fight’. “This looks like much more than just a disagreement Spock,” Jim said. Spock shifted and Jim didn’t move his hand, but he could feel the muscles in Spock’s arm shift and move. They were tense but he leaned into Jim’s touch slightly.

Jim couldn’t help the rush of love he felt at the gentle acknowledgment of Jim’s presence and support. He didn’t fight the feeling. If Spock hadn’t noticed before then he wouldn’t notice now.

“I’m fine,” Spock said and Jim felt his eyebrows raise.

“Now I absolutely believe you,” Jim said, putting in as much sarcasm as he could muster. Spock merely inclined his head and returned his full attention back to the Vulcan in front of him.

Jim could see the crowd around them grow to include the Vulcans who had been looking at their luggage before it was loaded into the bay.

“I demand a challenge for your hand, S’hin T’gai Spock,” Jolvek said, and that was something Jim could understand. Jolvek had switched to the standard language, instead of using Vulcan. “I demand to fight the other suitor for your hand. I will come out victorious and you will bond with me.”

Jim felt his eyes widen and then narrow. This whole thing was because Jolvek was perusing Spock? And Spock clearly wasn’t interested. But who was this other suitor?

Jim decided he didn’t care. He would fight Jolvek and keep him from trying to force Spock into bonding with him. He moved to step forward to accept the challenge that Jolvek issued. He was perfectly willing to fight.

If it meant that the other Vulcans on the ship would think that Jim was Spock’s suitor then, well, that would be even better. Maybe he would stop being a coward and he would actually tell Spock his feelings.

Spock stopped him from taking Jolvek’s challenge by moving his arm in front of Jim.

“There is no logic in your statement, Jolvek,” Spock said in standard. Jim knew that was an insult if he ever heard one. Based on the other Vulcans’ reaction, stiffening shoulders and well-concealed looks of rage, (surprisingly, the looks seemed to be aimed at Jolvek…), it was a pretty bad one.

Then Spock continued, “For you to fight for my hand, I would have needed to accept your suit.” That made sense to Jim.  “I have not. Furthermore, you cannot fight Jim. I wish to be his suitor, not the other way around.”

Jim was vaguely aware that he may have gasped aloud.

He was more aware that Spock’s brain seemed to realized something by the way he stiffened and look around, breaking his staring contest with Jolvek for the first time since the argument started.

Behind him, Jim heard Scotty whistle lightly and Bones whisper, “Oh shit.”

Jim watched as Spock looked around, saw the whole crew watching the drama. Then he stiffened up even further. He didn’t look at Jim.

At all.

Jim tried not to take that as a rejection.

Then Spock turned to the smug looking Jolvek for a heartbeat before he turned on his heel and left. He walked back to the ship and no one stopped him. The crew let him go.

Jim let him go.

That made Jim start thinking again. He took a half step toward Spock before he thought better of it. Spock was upset. Jim only had a few places on the ship he would go. He was going to find Spock.

And he would clear this up.

But first, he had something to do.

Jim took that half step and used it as momentum to turn around to face Jolvek and he slammed his fist into Jolvek’s jaw.

Jolvek collapsed to the floor.

“Challenge accepted, asshole. And you lose.” Jim spat down at the Vulcan who was on the floor. “Stay away from Spock. He clearly isn’t into you.”

That broke the silence with the crew. They began to agree. Loudly, and with vehemence. Jim also noticed some money start to change hands. He also distinctly heard Scotty’s voice say, “Looks like half my department is going to owe me credits. They all said it would take them another year.”

Jim ignored them all. He had a better idea. “Actually. Get off my ship. You have harassed a member of my crew to the point of humiliation. I don’t trust you to try not to push even further. You’re a danger. So, because of that, I want you off my ship.”

Jolvek rose to his feet, holding a hand to his cheek. “Such an emotional response. Spock deserves so much more than you.” He said, glaring at Jim.

Jim glared right back. “I don’t care what you think, Jolvek. Get off my ship. You aren’t worth the dirt on Spock’s shoes. Leave .”

Jim could hear QM order several of the crew to get Jolvek’s gear. They broke off of the crowd and went to the Vulcan’s pallets of luggage. They efficiently took the already built pallets apart and located Jolvek’s things.

“You will have to deal with my teacher,” Jolvek said. He had dropped his hand. “I’m sure Renank would be displeased that you have threatened his head student.”

“I am, by far, more displeased that you have shown such illogical tenancies,” Renank said, coming through the crowd of remembers. He had several other Vulcans head back to their supplies.

“Renank?” Jolvek sounded stunned, for a Vulcan.

Jim glanced at Renank. “I’m sorry sir, but I can’t have someone who has been harassing my crew on the ship.” He knew that he didn’t sound truly apologetic, but Jim didn’t care.

Jolvek was not going to be on the Enterprise when it departed in the morning. He would deal with the Federation, Starfleet, and the Vulcan High Council if need be. But Jim did not care.

Spock was more important.

“Do not apologize, Captain Kirk. I agree. You may not have heard what was said in while they spoke Vulcan, but we all did. I can not have a student who so demonstrates such bigotry toward humans.” Renank said. He was calm as ever but there was a hint of anger in his posture. Jim liked the Vulcan even more. “It is illogical, especially with what we study and are looking for.”

Jolvek was wearing an expression of open shock. “ Savensu ?” he asked.

Renank gave him a quick frown. “Do not call me teacher. You are no longer my student.”

Before he could say more QM walked up with several crew members and Vulcans behind him. Each of them was carrying a box or a bag. “Here you go, sirs. All of his luggage and gear.”

Renank nodded and Jim said, “Thank you, QM. Please restart the onboarding. You’ve got all the signatures you need. If not, go to Scotty.”

QM nodded then walked off with Scotty in tow. Bones stayed behind.

The crew got the unspoken order and remarkably quickly got back to work. That’s one the of the reasons Jim loved his crew. They understood when it was time to get back to work.

“I do not understand, Renank. I am your best student. Why are you letting them follow through with this ridiculous threat?” Jolvek asked, looking at his teacher like Renank would be convinced to change his mind.

“As I said. Our goal is understanding of the universe and all its differences. Bigotry isn’t something I have taught not want in my school. The pursuit of someone who does not wish your company isn’t something I have taught. You have not practiced what I have taught. Please leave.” Renank said. He looked expressionless but Jim still could see that anger.

Bones snorted behind him. “Yeah. We’re not asking you to leave. We’re telling ya.”

Jim crossed his hands across his chest. “Leave. You have your stuff.”

Jolvek looked at Renank for a moment. Renank shook his head and turned around and walked away. He didn’t say a word.  Jolvek started after him for a moment before he picked up his bags and left the loading dock.

Jim glared at him until he was out of sight. Only once the Vulcan was gone did he turned to Bones.

“I’ve got to go,” he said.

Bones nodded and pointed back toward the ship. “Go get your man.”

Jim laughed, small and sudden. He gave a bright grin to Bones. “I’ve got to get something for him. But yes.”

“He’ll like the letter.” Bones said, not bothering to hide the grin on his face.

Jim nodded. “He will.” Determination filled his veins. He could do this.

Spock wanted to be his suitor.

Then he started toward the ship. He paused just before he got to the top of the loading ramp. then he turned around. “Hey, who won the most?” he yelled down to the bustling crew.

The crew stopped in their work and glanced around, each of the ones who clearly did win something with Spock’s declaration doing a quick calculation.

Then a cheer from the where the engineering team was at. “I did, Captain!” Gaila cried out, waving her hand.

Jim laughed. “What was your exact bet?”

“Large confession, accidental, Spock said it! And then I also bet separately on the first year of this mission!” she said cheerfully. There were groans around her. Jim had to laugh.

“Enjoy it, Gaila!” Jim said as he went back into the ship.

He had a letter for a Vulcan to read.

And a confession of his own to make.

-

In the observation deck

Spock wasn’t sure why he found himself looking out to space on the observation deck.

Maybe it was because he had always felt more comfortable looking out to the stars and knowing they still called to him. That he belonged among them.

Maybe it was because the stars were always in Jim’s eyes. Jim was born among the stars and they had never truly left him.

Either way, Spock let himself stare out the window of the observation deck that faced the outside. One was unable to see the Starbase from where Spock stood. He was sitting at the bench table that ran the length of the windows.

He had a glass of some fairly sweet-smelling alcohol in front of him, untouched. He knew why he asked for the drink, but he still wasn’t sure if he would drink the beverage.

Maybe he should have asked something with chocolate in it instead.  He would have at least felt the alcohol then.

This was not what he had wanted to happen.

What Spock had wanted to do was if Jim had been receptive to Spock’s attempts at flirting? Spock would have asked Jim to a quiet dinner on the next shore leave. He wouldn’t have done it publicly either. He would have asked during one of their meetings to play chess, at the end of the night. If Jim said no, Spock would have been able to get the distance needed to get over the heartbreak. If Jim had said yes, then Spock would have used the next mediation to control his actions and not just kiss Jim, right then and there.

But all that was if, if , Jim had been receptive to Spock’s flirting. And several months away.

This was far too soon. Spock didn’t know if Jim was interested in him at all as a potential mate. He just didn’t know.

And now Spock feared that his declaration may have ruined everything.

Jim may not want to see him anymore. They would still work together as the command team as Jim wanted what was best for the Enterprise and that meant that they were in charge.

But he may not want to play chess in the evenings or eat breakfast together. Or have conversations as they walked the ship.

He may not want to be Spock’s friend anymore.

Spock sighed and tied to take Nyota’s words from the night before into account. Jim would say yes, just to try it out.

He was, as far as Spock knew, still friends with Carol Marcus, and they had dated for nearly seven months, despite her wish to be posted planetside for this mission so she could raise her child with its father, a former member of the crew.

Jim didn’t seem to harbor any ill will toward either party, dispute the fact he had dated Marcus first. He also didn’t seem to treat her any differently either, for being his ex-lover.

Maybe he wouldn’t treat Spock any differently despite the fact Spock was in love with him.

The observation deck was empty except for one other person, a security officer who had been with the ship during the last five-year mission. The woman had saved his life a half a dozen times and had been saved by him the same.

But that was true for most of the crew.

She had been behind the bar on the far side of the room. But now she was sitting in one of the stools, watching the exits. She had been in the room when Spock entered, working on her padd behind the bar.

Now she watched the exits and occasionally watched him. He knew when he was being guarded. He wondered if she would let Jim in here.

Spock understood the crew’s ability to spread gossip well enough to know that she knew what had happened in the loading dock. It was probably why she had slid him a drink of something dark and mildly sweet smelling, probably amaretto, wordlessly.

Spock wanted to dismiss her, but he also knew the crew. She would just post herself outside the room instead.

So, he ignored her in favor of staring out the windows.

He watched the stars for nearly half an hour before the doors slide open for the first time since he came in.

“Captain.” The security officer said, her tone respectful and quiet. She stood up to greet Jim.

“Miss Essa. You are dismissed. No need to post outside the doors.” Jim said. He apparently also understood why the security officer had stayed.

“Yes, sir.” She said in a tone of voice that said she wasn’t going to listen. The crew was protective of both of them as they were of them. “You may want one of these.” She must have passed Jim something and he must have taken it, as she sold out the door with little else.

Spock heard Jim’s footsteps as he came closer to him. Spock didn’t look away from the windows.

Jim settled on the bench table right next to him. In his hands was a glass of the same alcohol that filled Spock’s glass and a handwritten letter.

A letter that Spock remembered but did not dare hope for.

Jim did not take a drink from the glass he had placed on the table.

They sat in silence for a long moment.

Both of them watching the stars. Spock was very aware of Jim’s whole being. He liked to imagine that Jim was feeling the same right then.

“If you don’t return my regard or feel that you could never return my regard then I will not mention them again,” Spock said, feeling a little like he was in the Regency novels that his mother occasionally read to him as a child and still learning standard. His mother had been a rather large fan of ‘Pride and Prejudice.” Reading the story as an adult, Spock had long figured out why. He just hadn’t been able to cast himself as Mr. Darcy before.

He did not try to promise to not feel his emotions. That would be illogical. Jim was t’hy’la. He would always be the other half of Spock’s soul.

Spock spared a moment to marvel at how he had missed such a large part of himself before.

When Jim turned to face him, Spock realized that he hadn’t missed it. He had simply not known what it had meant.

“I don’t want that,” Jim said. He looked at the letter in his hand. Then he also took a deep breath. “Please read this.” He said as he pushed the letter down the table. He looked at Spock with such a vulnerable expression that Spock placed his hand over Jim’s.

In comfort or in support he didn’t know.

For his own sake or for Jim sake, he didn’t know either.

Spock picked up the letter.

It was still addressed to him in a handwriting that he did not recognize. It was still addressed to him from a bondmate.

Whoever loved ambassador Spock had loved him dearly.

He opened the letter and saw that it was dated about twenty years in the future. Whoever wrote it was in Starfleet, or in space travel. They were the only ones who wrote all dates in the standard stardate format.

It was still in Vulcan. it was also written by a man. The few gendered words that Vulcan used were all masculine.

The man who had written the letter spoke about how much he missed Spock now that they had to be stationed on different ships for a while. How he longed to see Spock again. How he couldn’t wait until this exercise was over so Spock could rejoin his proper place as second in command of this man’s ship.

Something in Spock’s very katra rebelled at the idea of being the first officer for anyone other than James T. Kirk, at being under the command of anyone who was not his t’hy’la.

He read the letter, knowing that love poured out of every written word. They had written about their day and how it was harder to deal without Spock’s presence. Whoever wrote this letter loved Spock with all his being.

Spock could have cried. Why did Ambassador Spock leave this clearly precious letter to Jim?

It was when he got to the farewell at the end of the letter, two pages later, that he read the name of the writer.

Ish-veh k'diwa heh veh vi tor ek'wak ish-veh, t'hy'la.

Jim

Spock stared at the farewell for a long moment. One that he wasn’t entirely sure that Jim breathed during.

“Your beloved and one who is forever yours, t'hy'la, ” he breathed.

He looked up from the letter to meet Jim’s eyes.

“He loved Ambassador Spock,” Spock said. “So deeply that it pained him that they were separated on a training exercise.” He wasn’t sure he believed his own senses right at the moment.

Jim huffed out a laugh. “It would hurt me for you not to be by my side, so I can understand my other self.”

Spock took a moment to absorb that.

“You knew who wrote this letter?” he asked. Spock realized that he had never seen Jim write something down. All the notes he made was into his padd, and rarely did a mission require anything to be handwritten.

Jim nodded. “Yes. I know my own handwriting. I never got past the greeting though. So, I don’t have a clue about what is in the letter.”

Spock didn’t know what to say to that.

Eventually, after a few moments of silence, Spock asked, “…You love me?”

Jim huffed out another laugh before facing Spock fully. He took Spock’s’ hand and intertwined it on his own. “Spock. I’ve always loved you.”

And though their joined hands Spock could tell the truth to that statement and he could finally understand what the undercurrent of emotion that he could always sense from Jim.

That emotion that he could never understand before was Jim’s love for him.

Spock wondered how he missed it.

Jim was nervous and he was babbling. “…Apparently, it's more than just destined. The old man and the other Jim were in love. So deeply in love. Why else would he have kept the letter?”

He would have said more but Spock leaned forward and kissed him in the human manner.

Jim didn’t pause for longer than a second before he was kissing back.

They lost several moments just kissing. Eventually, Jim pulled back. He had a serious expression on his face. “I don’t want you to never mention your feelings again. I want you to tell me as often as you want to. I want you to court me. I want to be your suitor, Spock. I want everything you are willing to give me.”

He squeezed their joined hands. Spock squeezed back.

“I want to be your everything,” Spock said back. “I was …afraid… that you weren’t interested. I hadn’t wanted to push you. I knew that you were interested in someone for a long time that…”

Jim’s burst of humor and affection that came from their joined hands didn’t exactly surprise Spock but he didn’t understand it. he met Jim’s gaze with a curious look.

Jim seemed to understand Spock’s confusion. “Spock, I am interested in you. And, as I said, I have been for years. But you were happy with Uhura. I was good being your friend. But this is better. Much better.” He leaned forward and stole another kiss.

Spock followed him back as Jim tried to pull away. Jim chuckled and kissed him again.

“You’ve always been there for me. You have been my best friend, and my other half for years. How was I not going to fall for you?” Jim asked once they pulled apart.

Spock realized something at that moment. “Was I the one who caused you to drink with Mr. Scott and Doctor McCoy?”

Jim looked surprised for a moment but then he nodded slowly. “Kind of. Well, it was like that in the beginning. We were trying to drown our feelings but then it changed and then it was a support group of sorts. The three of us getting drunk tended to just be us spending hours waxing poetic about you all.” He said, then laughed. “I think Sulu was the only one would could stand us when we got to be too deep into the sauce.”

He leaned forward and whisper like he was sharing a secret, “We spent a lot of time talking about how awesome you all were.”

Spock raised an eyebrow.

Jim sat back and shrugged, “It’s the truth.”

Spock ignored that. If the truth was like that, then it made sense that they would drink together. He was glad of Mr. Sulu for being able to help the trio. “And now?”

Jim smiled. It was like the sun after a very long night. “Now I’m the happiest person in the universe Spock.”

Spock thought about that. “I fear that we may have a competition for that title, Jim.”

“Oh?” Jim raised an eyebrow back at Spock.

“Yes,” Spock said firmly. “You love me as I love you.”

Jim flushed a deep red at Spock’s declaration. Something that Spock was pleased to see. he wanted to see more of it.

He rose to his feet and took Jim’s free hand his own, helping his believed to his feet. He would always show Jim that he was a good mate. Jim deserved the very best.

Jim followed easily. He still had the wide grin on his face. He followed Spock as Spock led them both toward the door of the observation lounge. He had the letter in his unoccupied hand.

“By the way, what does t’hy’la mean? You said it earlier and it’s in the letter, I think.” Jim asked, his tone curious and happy, just before they reached the door.  

Spock knew he could give a detailed explanation of what t’hy’la meant and how it applied to them, but he knew that Jim would prefer a more simplified truth at the moment.

“You.” He said, as he stopped and drew Jim closer to kiss him.

-

Behind them, on the table overlooking the stars, sat two full, untouched glasses.

-

The end.

 

Epilogue

About two years into the second five-year mission.

Scotty sighed in relief as he sank into the barstool. “Mr. Sulu you are a slave driver.”

Sulu laughed as he sat next to him on the bar. “Well, you asked for my help.”

“We did,” Jim sat on the barstool next to Scotty. “But now I’m more or less regretting it.”

McCoy didn’t even bother sitting down. He just leaned against the bar and gestured to the bartender. “I’m not. This Is far better than the one I got Joyclen.” He said tapping his pocket.

Inside that pocket sat a box that Scotty knew matched the box in his own pocket. He and McCoy bought theirs at the same store.

Jim had found his at the last store they went to.

After five hours of Sulu dragging them around to every jeweler shop he could find on the planet.

Scotty pulled out his box and opened it. He stared at the ring, gold and designed with a repeating pattern of small stones.

“Still a good choice there, Scotty,” Sulu said leaning over. “Uhura will love it.” Both Jim and Len leaned over and took another look at the ring.

“That’s the whole point, Sulu. I hope she loves it!” Scotty laughed. “No idea what I’m going to do about it, though.”

The bartender placed a glass of beer in front of him. Scotty took it gratefully. He was nervous as hell now that he had actually bought the ring. But he didn’t have a plan to ask Nyota yet.

Other than just blurting out the question at one of their lunch dates that is.

Len laughed, opening his own box. Inside sat two rings. One a plain band with their initials and their anniversary date written on it. The other ring was a stretchy polymer that most of Scotty's married engineers wore while they were working. That specific ring was designed so it wouldn't take a finger off if it got caught on things. Instead of breaking or losing a finger, the ring would break first.

Scotty had one of them as well.

“I’ve got a plan. But I don’t know the date.” Len said, smiling down at the box. “Gotta wait until we pass a nebula when we aren’t at warp.”

Jim got this considering look. “I think I can make that happen. I’ll let you know.”

Len smiled at Jim. “Thanks. I’m nervous but I think I’ll be fine!”

Jim laughed. “You’ve done this before so I’m sure you’ll be fine!” He reached into his pocket for his own box. Scotty had to smile. What had taken them so long was the fact that Jim insisted on finding something that could be put on a necklace and was non-conductive.

Sulu won the day that by finding a jeweler who also had the ability to write in Vulcan. Now Jim had two matching bands and one chain. Both of them had the word ‘T’hy’la’ written on it. Despite being pressed, Jim refused to tell them what it meant. “I’ve got a date…Kind of… but I don’t know how I’m going to ask.”

He paused and turned to sulu. “Why is this so hard?” Scotty had to agree. This shouldn’t be so hard, but it was.”

“Well you are asking them to marry you guys, so nerves are understandable,” Sulu said, grinning. “You’re just lucky that Ben and Demora were willing to drag Pasha and Spock along on a fun-filled science museum tour and that Uhura had that meeting with the translators of Mi’ki’laon do deal with.” He was also drinking something. Sulu had been kind enough to ignore how much of a mess they all were.

Even after more than a year, all three of them were a mess. Sulu didn’t seem to care, other than to laugh at them. But all three of them knew it was out of love.

“We are so lucky,” Jim said smiling down at the box. Scotty could see the thoughts forming in his head. They were much like the one’s in Scotty’s own.

How did one shore leave, so many months ago, change so much? Scotty never knew that he didn’t care.

He had a beautiful intelligent woman to propose to.

“Here’s to the many good years coming next!” Jim said, looking up and raising a glass.

Scotty had to drink to that.

The actual end!