Once upon a time, there was an elven kingdom called Vulcan, full of scholars and scientists and mages. The citizens of Vulcan valued logic beyond all else.
The King of this land was named Sarek, who was a wise and stoic ruler. He married a non-elf, a human woman named Amanda, from a neighboring kingdom. Even though he could not express it, he loved Amanda very much, and she loved him in return.
The King and Queen eventually bore a half elf, half human son named Spock. He was as bright and intelligent as any of his peers, and beneath his stony exterior, he had a very large heart.
Unfortunately, he found it broken one day when his mother became too old to keep living. For you see, elves live almost twice as long as humans. Spock had loved his mother deeply, and he wept bitterly in his room where his father and the servants would not see his tears.
Eventually, Sarek was pressured to marry again, this time to a woman from his own kind. He was wed to a woman named Valeris, who seemed to be the ideal Vulcan: smart, collected, and most of all, logical. But little did anyone know how wicked she truly was. She wanted power, and she wanted it fast. And she’d obtain it by any means.
Valeris was one of several Vulcans who abhorred the idea of mixing with other cultures. She believed in Vulcan supremacy, that Vulcans were too evolved, too logical to fraternize with people unlike them—especially humans. The very existence of Spock infuriated this particular sect, who saw this young man as a symbol of just that. And the idea that he would someday take the throne once Sarek was dead...that appalled them all the more.
Valeris was also incredibly vain.
She combed her fingers through her hair as she gazed at herself in her enchanted looking glass, which allowed her to know the goings-on in the kingdom and stay one step ahead of her enemies.
Valeris checked to make sure Sarek was asleep—the King had mysteriously taken ill shortly after he and Valeris had married and spent much of his time sleeping. Valeris felt satisfaction as she observed the King sleeping heavily and said to her reflection: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall—which Vulcan is the most logical?”
Most days, the mirror replied with, “You, of course, my Queen.” But today it said...
“Your intellect is great, it is true. But there is one more logical than you.”
Valeris would have been outraged had she not been Vulcan. “Who is more logical than me?” she demanded.
“His limbs so long, his hair so dark,
His eyes so brown. His name...is Spock.”
Valeris seethed with jealousy, her Vulcan control upset by this development. “This will not do,” she declared, striding from the room.
Well, she was always going to have the halfbreed killed anyway. There was no reason to wait any longer.
Now it just so happened that there was a renowned hunter, a human like Amanda, who lived in the woods between the land of Vulcan and the human realm. Vulcans did not eat meat, so the elves had no need for the carcasses he procured. But he did kill dangerous le-matyas and other such beasts, plus the animals that would otherwise raid the Vulcans’ gardens and eat their crops. And when the weather turned cold, they were happy to purchase the pelts the huntsman had taken from his kills, so he was allowed to stay. No one bothered him, and he bothered no one.
Until one day...
The huntsman was brought before the Queen. “How would you like some fresh game, huntsman?” Valeris asked.
“An elf. A half-breed, to be specific.”
The huntsman was taken aback. “I’m not a killer,” he declared.
“You kill animals all the time.”
“That’s...not the same.”
“I’m willing to pay handsomely. You’d be living in luxury all your days.”
The huntsman raised his chin. “No price is worth the life of a person.”
Valeris grit her teeth. “Fine. Take him back to his hovel in the woods.” Never work with humans, she thought to herself.
Once the huntsman was gone, a guard stepped forward. “I will be honored to kill the halfbreed, my Queen.”
“You, Stonn?” said Valeris in surprise. “Why?”
“I believe the same as you—that Vulcans and humans should not mingle.”
“And you want nothing in return?”
Stonn frowned pensively. “I want your protection, of course. And...I want the Prince’s betrothed, T’Pring, as my mate,” he avowed.
“The woman is yours,” said Valeris, hardly believing how easy that had been. “Stonn, you will accompany the Prince on his outing in the forest tomorrow when he goes to study the animal and plant life. There you will kill him.”
The following day, Stonn followed the unwitting Prince into the forest as Spock wrote down observations in his journal of animal, plant, and fungal life, and rock compositions, and other such things.
Spock was hunched over on the ground, watching a trail of ants, as Stonn crept up on him, a dagger clenched in his fist. Only when it was too late for Spock to flee or defend himself did he turn to see the Queen’s man behind him. He gasped, dropping his journal in surprise.
Suddenly a blur of brown and gold tackled Stonn to the ground. It was the huntsman.
“Come on!” the human exclaimed, grabbing Spock by the wrist and taking off deep into the forest with him.
They ran for several minutes before the huntsman slowed them to a halt. The two men panted for air. “Your Highness, are you alright?” the huntsman asked.
“Yes...thanks to you.” Spock studied him. “It is fortunate you were passing by that part of the woods at that instant.”
“That wasn’t luck, Prince, believe me,” said the huntsman. “I was tracking you.”
Spock’s eyes widened. “Why?”
“Because yesterday, someone attempted to hire me to kill you. Well, they didn’t mention you by name, but since you’re the only half elf, I knew you were in danger. When I refused to commit murder, I figured they would hire someone else. And here we are.”
Spock was shocked. “Stonn was part of a conspiracy to kill me? Well then you must accompany me back to the castle. We’ll inform the Queen of this, and she’ll-”
“No, your Highness,” said the human sternly. “You can’t go back there. It’s not safe for you anymore.”
“Not safe? In my own home? That is illogical.”
“Your Highness, I’m so sorry to tell you this...” The huntsman’s eyes crinkled as he gazed somberly at him. “But it was the Queen herself who asked me to do the deed.”
Spock fell quiet. He studied the human intently, looking for any indication of lying—he found none. If the man was lying, he was very good at it. But some reason, Spock felt that he could trust him. That this man would never hurt him, and would always protect him. “I cannot believe that I have been deceived by my own stepmother,” he said, leaning against the trunk of a tree. “I thought she was trustworthy. But I can find no fault of logic in your story.”
“I’m sorry,” said the huntsman again.
Spock shook his head. Then he thought of his poor sick father. Now alone with the would-be Prince killer. How odd his health’s sudden turn was... “I think I believe you,” he said morosely. “I must stop her. She means to have the throne for herself. With my father dead and me no longer heir, she would have first claim to it.”
“Well you can’t go back, it’d be suicide!” the huntsman countered. “Then she wins anyway.”
“Logical again,” said Spock. He studied the hunter again. “What is your name?”
The human bowed slightly. “My family name is Kirk. My given name is James Tiberius.” He smiled warmly. “My friends call me Jim, though.”
“Vulcans do not have friends,” Spock said warily.
“Well, this one does now,” Jim said with a brilliant smile that suddenly made Spock feel flush. He must be catching ill.
“Listen, you’ll be safe in my cabin,” said Jim. “The Queen won’t look for you there. And even if she does, we’ll be there to protect you.”
Spock was puzzled. We? “What makes you think I need protecting?” he asked.
“Did a member of the Royal Guard not just come after you with a knife?”
“Had I not been taken by surprise, I could have-”
“What? Fought him off unarmed? Look, your Worshipfulness, I’m not saying you’re a helpless babe, but wouldn’t it be logical to have someone help you defend yourself? Two heads are better than one, you know.”
Spock blinked in confusion.
“It’s a human expression,” Jim explained. “So? What do you say? It’s not like you have many places to go.”
Spock bit his lip. “It would be rude of me to invade your home and privacy,” he finally said.
Jim burst into laughter at this. “Privacy? There’s no such thing in my home. Come with me and I’ll show you.”
It was getting dark by the time they reached Jim’s home. Spock spotted an impressive garden growing beside the modest dwelling. “Did you grow that?”
“Not exactly. You’ll see in a moment...”
“Jim! ” chorused six other voices when the huntsman opened the door to his cabin deep in the woods.
“We were getting worried!” said a female voice.
“Did ya bring back any meat?” a male voice inquired.
“Even better,” said Jim. “I brought a guest.” He beckoned Spock inside.
Spock entered the humble abode and found a dining room with six people sitting around a table in front of a crackling fire. One woman was ladling out soup to the other five, another woman and four men, all of them human.
“Meet my family,” said Jim warmly to Spock. “This is Bones, Carol, Scotty, Nyota, Hikaru, and Pavel, the baby.”
“I am not a baby!” gripped the youngest of the seven.
“Sure you’re not, kiddo,” Jim chuckled, ruffling his hair. “So as you can see, around here, the more the merrier.”
“All of you live here, together?” said Spock, quite shocked. The cabin was so small.
“Sure, why not? We’re all friends, we all take care of each other here.”
The woman who’d been ladling stew to everyone, Nyota, was setting a new place at the table. “Why don’t you sit down, Mister...”
“Spock is sufficient,” the Vulcan prince said, gingerly sitting down in the extra chair Scotty had pulled up. “And thank you for welcoming me to your table, madam.”
Nyota smiled, and her eyes flitted to the huntsman. “I like this boy, Jim. He’s so well-mannered.”
“Are you sayin’ we don’t have good manners?” said Bones around a mouthful of stew. Everyone laughed.
“You’ll have to excuse our good doctor here,” said Jim, taking a seat at the head of the table, in between Spock and Bones. “He’s so old that he’s long forgotten the rules of decorum.” Jim winked at Spock.
“Ay, watch your mouth, sonny boy! I’m only 13 years older than you,” Bones scoffed good-naturedly.
“You are a doctor?” Spock said, intrigued.
“You betcha, and a damn good ‘un, too,” Bones said proudly. “Me and Carol here both.” He gave the blonde woman beside him a peck on the cheek.
“I specialize in delivering babies, though,” said Carol. “I’ve been midwife to 78 babies so far.”
“And ours is soon to be among those ranks,” said Nyota, putting a hand on her belly and smiling adoringly at Scotty. Her stomach wasn’t completely protruding yet, but there was a small bump to it.
“Ach, I cannae wait to hold me wee lil girl in me arms,” Scotty said, placing his hand on Nyota’s belly as well.
“I’ve told you, sugar, you’re having a son.”
“Mah family’s always had firstborn daughters, mark mah words.”
Jim nudged Spock. “Don’t mind those lovebirds. They have this conversation nearly every night.”
“Won’t you eat, Spock?” Nyota asked. “Your stew’s going to get cold.”
Spock, suddenly realizing how hungry he was, spooned up some and raised it halfway to his mouth. Then he hesitated. “Pardon my asking, but there is meat in this, correct?”
“I’m afraid so,” said Nyota, nodding. “You can eat around the meat and just have the vegetables and broth, though. I’m sorry, I didn’t know Jim was bringing home a Vulcan.”
“No, it is I who should apologize for barging into your home unannounced.” Spock swallowed a spoonful of stew sans meat. “This is very delicious,” he remarked.
“Thank you,” said Nyota, smiling proudly. “And just so you know, you are perfectly welcome here.”
“Gang, Spock might end up being our houseguest for a while,” said Jim. “You see, he’s not just any Vulcan...he’s the prince.”
Everyone but Spock gasped.
“I told you all about how Queen Valeris asked me to kill him. Well, I suspected she’d find a different way when I refused, so I waited in the forest today for any sign of trouble. Sure enough, the prince was attacked at the edge of the forest this afternoon. Luckily I was able to intercept on his behalf, and we skedaddled off into the woods together. This was the only place I could think to hide him.”
“You poor dear!” Nyota said.
“Those monsters!” Hikaru added.
“So ze preence is staying here vis us?” Pavel said to Jim. He seemed to be the leader of the little band.
Jim looked at Spock expectantly.
Spock swallowed and coughed shyly. “If I am not an intrusion...I humbly ask for asylum in your lovely home.”
“Why of course you can stay!” Carol declared.
“What, ye think we’d turn ye out in the dark, dangerous wood?” Scotty exclaimed.
“Can’t leave somebody out in the cold...not even a Vulcan,” Bones mumbled.
Jim smiled at Spock, his eyes soft as he squeezed his shoulder. “I think that’s a yes.”
Spock again felt his face flush. He hoped whatever bug he’d picked up would not spread to these kind humans. “Thank you,” he said quietly, willing himself not to smile. It would not be the Vulcan way.
“So what do all of you do?” Spock asked curiously as they were finishing up the last of the stew. “Jim is a hunter, and Bones and Carol are doctors.”
“Well, I’m actually a hunter too,” said Hikaru. “And I work in my garden outside in my spare time.”
“Ah, I was admiring it when we arrived.”
Hikaru perked up, smiling widely. “It’s my baby, honestly. I grew all the vegetables and herbs that went in the stew.”
“And we have fresh strawberries for dessert,” said Nyota, rising to clear away the bowls from dinner. “It’s probably the last of the crop this year, what with the weather getting cold now and all.”
“Hikaru grows the sweetest strawberries,” sighed Carol.
“I have never had strawberries,” Spock admitted. “I look forward to trying them.”
“Well, I’m a smithy,” said Scotty proudly. “All kinds o’ metalwork. Horseshoes, armor, swords—I do quite a good sword if I do say so meself. I sell me wares in the human kingdom nearby. Me forge is out back—I could show ye if ye like.”
“It sounds most intriguing,” Spock replied.
“And I keep the house,” said Nyota, sitting back down after having handed out the strawberries. “It’s a full time job keeping up after these six. Pavel helps me.”
“I am also a veaver,” Pavel said brightly.
Spock blinked. “A what?”
“You know. A veaver. I veave ze cloth.”
“Oh! A weaver.”
“Pasha made most of the clothes we’re wearing,” Jim said, munching on a juicy, bright red fruit. Spock found himself staring at the human’s lips. “Scotty sells his stuff along with his metal wears.”
“I made all the metal dishes we ate off tonight,” said Scotty proudly.
“Well I whittled the bowls out of wood,” Bones bragged.
“Ze cloth napkins are all me!” Pavel piped up.
“Boys, boys,” said Carol. “I think you’re forgetting that Nyota is the one who cooked this delicious meal, just like she does every night.”
Nyota smirked as the boys hurried to compliment her on a meal well done.
Jim turned to Spock and smiled. “See? We take care of each other around here.”
“So I see,” Spock said, fighting back a smile of his own. Jim’s charm certainly was infectious.
“Have you tried these strawberries yet?” Jim asked, bringing the basket over.
“No, may I?”
“Of course.” Jim plucked one from the basket and held its smooth tip at Spock’s lips. “Open up,” he said, his eyes glittering with mischief.
Spock was certainly blushing now. He had not been hand fed since he was an infant. He parted his lips and bit down on the red fruit, avoiding the green parts as he observed the others doing. The sweet and tart flavor of the berry burst across his tongue—Spock had never tasted anything like it. “It is delicious,” he said after he’d swallowed.
Nyota, as it turned out, was a wonderful singer—so good in fact that Spock wondered if she was part siren. They all sat around, entranced, as she sang sweet folk tunes for them. Jim had a book on his lap, but he wasn’t reading it. Spock wished he had his lyre to play for them: a small token of appreciation for their kind hospitality.
Finally it was time for them all to turn in. “Uhh...where is Spock going to sleep?” Hikaru asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Oh yeah,” Jim said, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly. “Kinda forgot the whole bed situation.”
“What bed situation?” Spock asked.
So Jim led Spock to the room where they all slept. There were four beds in total. “Scotty and Nyota share, and so do Bones and Carol, ‘cause they’re married couples,” Jim explained. “And Hikaru and Pavel share because they’ve known each other a long time. And I sleep in the last bed. It saves room to have four beds instead of eight, plus when it gets cold everyone can just snuggle up to their bed buddy—except me. I snuggle up to a hot water bottle.”
“Most logical,” Spock said. “I would not displace anyone from their bed. If someone will loan me a blanket and perhaps a pillow, I will be more than content to sleep in front of the fire.”
“On the floor? There’s no way we’re letting you do that. Just take my bed.”
“Then where will you sleep?”
“I’ll just bunk up with Hikaru and Pasha. It’ll be tight, but we can-“
“That is nonsense. Why do we not simply share the fourth bed?”
“Uh...you and me?” Jim’s cheeks turned pink. “Uh, gosh, Spock, you’re a prince. Are you sure you wanna sleep next to a peasant?”
“You are not a peasant.” Spock finally let a tiny smile escape. “You are my friend.”
Jim slowly smiled back. His cheeks became even more colored in. It was rather attractive on him, Spock was amazed to find. “Alright then. You’ve got yourself a deal, mister.”
The others shared a look between when the Vulcan and the huntsman weren’t looking.
Everyone slipped down to their undershirts and slips, washed their faces, and began climbing into bed. Jim laughed shyly. “I’ve never asked anyone this, but...which side do you want?” he said to Spock.
“I’ve never said this to anyone, but...whichever side you want is fine.”
They settled under the covers, side by side. Spock stared up at the ceiling, blank-faced.
Jim rolled his head over toward him. “Hey...” he whispered. “We will save you. And your dad. And your kingdom. I promise you that.”
“I don’t who know who I can trust anymore,” Spock whispered back. “...except you.”
Jim smiled sadly.
Spock looked at him. “Thank you. For saving me. For bringing me into your home, feeding me, giving me your bed...everything.”
Jim reached over, putting a hand on his shoulder. “What are friends for?”
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall,” said Valeris to her magic mirror, smug that Spock was no longer competition for her throne, “who is the most logical?”
There was a pause before the mirror replied:
“Your logic is great, you are second to just one.
The crown prince of Vulcan; Spock, your stepson.”
“But Spock is dead!” Valeris hissed, her emotional control slipping, giving way to her rage. “How can I still be only second-most logical?”
“While Spock still lives, you cannot rule.
Your assassin Stonn has made you a fool.”
“A fool?! Me?!” Valeris seethed, then breathed in deeply. “I shall see that he is executed as soon as Sarek is dead. Tomorrow, I’ll have him thrown in the dungeon for lying. And his little female too. But for now...where is the halfbreed?”
The mirror’s surface swirled to show Jim rescuing Spock, then Spock having dinner in his and the others’ cabin. “So...the huntsman warned him. I should have had his tongue removed so he could not wag it so much,” Valeris muttered. “No matter. I shall not be thwarted again. Tomorrow, I shall seek Spock out myself, in disguise, and then he will most certainly die.”
Valeris stormed away, down to her basement laboratory, where none were allowed but her. She pulled down her big book of deadly potions and found one to her liking: the curse of the Sleeping Death. She poured and tossed ingredients into her cauldron and mixed them together, till the concoction took a solid form that Spock would be unable to resist--a strawberry.
“How sweet,” Valeris scoffed, looking at the ripe, tempting berry in her hand. “I will disguise myself as an old peddler woman, and trick the halfbreed into eating this fruit. He’ll go to sleep, and the simpleton humans will think he’s dead. Now...for my disguise.”
With her magic, she turned her ears round, like a human’s. Then she turned her hair long and white, and added lines to her face to appear old. “He will never suspect my identity. The little fool.” Valeris wrapped herself in a shawl. “It will soon be daybreak. The humans will leave the cabin to do their work. I will be on my way.”
If Valeris had paused to check if there was an antidote to the poison, she’d have seen that there was a way to break the spell: True Love’s First Kiss. But Valeris was arrogant and impulsive. That would prove to be her downfall.
Spock gradually came to, feeling safe and content, and oddly warm. It was like when he was a child and would sleep curled up with his pet sehlat I-Chaya, who was furry and very warm. For a moment he wondered if he was curled around I-Chaya again, but then he realized that what he was cuddled against had no fur and was much smaller than an adult sehlat, and besides that, I-Chaya had died when Spock was seven. Spock slowly opened his eyes...
And realized his head was resting on Jim’s shoulder, tucked under his chin, and his limbs were hooked around him. Spock gasped softly, unfurling himself at once.
The Vulcan prince heard a soft chuckle and Spock realized with horror that Jim had awoken before him. “Mornin’, Your Highness,” Jim murmured, giving him a sleepy smile, his irises like molten gold. “Sleep well?”
“Jim, I-I apologize profusely-”
“Don’t worry about it,” Jim laughed, shifting onto his side to face him. “You can cuddle with me anytime, as far as I’m concerned.” Jim stroked his cheekbone lightly with his thumb. “Little Spock-topus.”
Spock blushed at his touch. “I’m afraid I have never shared a bed with another before.”
“Well I am honored to have been the one to pop your cherry,” Jim said with a wink.
Spock blushed even more, somehow sensing that Jim’s words somehow had a double meaning. He raised his head and realized they were alone in the room. “Where is everyone else?”
“Well, Nyota’s probably washing laundry, Hikaru’s in his garden, and everyone else went off to town for work. They woke up a good deal earlier than you. I would’ve gotten up too, but I didn’t want to wake you.”
“Again, I must apologize-”
“Would you stop?” Jim laughed. “That was probably the best night of sleep I ever had. I had sweet dreams all night.”
“Really?” Spock muttered bashfully.
“Oh yeah,” said Jim, staring deep into his eyes. He rolled over, swinging a leg over him and bracketing him in between his thighs. His hands planted themselves firmly by his ears. Jim hovered over him. “Then I woke up to something even sweeter.”
He smiled down at him like a tiger considering its prey, and Spock wondered whether the prospect of being eaten alive should feel so exhilarating.
“Jim,” he breathed, unsure what was about to happen, but wanting desperately for it to transpire.
Jim lowered his face toward his, till their noses were brushing and Spock could feel the human’s warm breath against his lips. “Tell me no, and I’ll back off right now,” Jim whispered.
Spock swallowed hard, but said nothing. Jim smiled and closed the space between them, kissing him softly. Spock’s eyelids fluttered shut, losing himself to the tender touch. He wasn’t entirely sure what Jim was doing (Vulcans didn’t kiss with their mouths, but rather, their fingers), but he didn’t want it to stop.
After a long, lingering moment, Jim pulled away. “Okay?” he asked.
Spock nodded mutely, eyes blown wide.
Jim grinned down at him. “Look at how green you are...was that your first kiss?”
Spock averted his gaze.
“Oh my God, it was,” the huntsman said, laughing gently.
Spock frowned. “I do not see why that is funny.”
“Oh, it’s not funny, Stretch, I swear. It’s just kinda cute how innocent you are.”
“I am not innocent,” Spock scowled.
“Sure you’re not,” Jim said, winking. Then he leaned forward and kissed Spock again. Spock inadvertently let out a quiet moan as unfamiliar sensations rushed through him. The tips of his fingers were tingling, but Spock found that he liked the tingles. Spock shivered against him.
“Are you two ever coming out of there to eat, or are you just going to stay in bed all day?” they heard Nyota call from the kitchen.
Jim broke off their kiss with a smack, and they both smiled at each other, fighting back giggles. Jim climbed off of Spock. “Come on. Smells like oatmeal--Nyota makes great oatmeal.”
“I will take your word for it.” Spock got up and stared into Jim’s eyes. “Why did you kiss me?”
Jim smiled. “Because I wanted to.”
“Because you’re pretty. And smart. And I like you.” Jim leaned up and gave him a quick peck on the lips. “Come on. I’m hungry.”
After Jim had spooned the last of his oatmeal into his mouth, he tied on his shoes. “I have to head out,” he said apologetically to Spock. He stroked the prince’s cheek with his thumb. “I have to bring some meat home for the others tonight, since I didn’t last night. Stay here and be safe, please?”
“I promise, Jim. I shall endeavor to find some way I can contribute to the household. Perhaps I can assist Hikaru with his gardening.”
“Word to the wise, never touch Hikaru’s plants,” Nyota said, grinning. “You can help me around the house.”
“I’d be glad to,” Spock said, standing up. “What may I do for you?”
“Well, you can clear the table for starters,” Nyota said. “I’ll get a fire going in the hearth, and you can go fetch some water from the stream for washing the dishes.”
“Sounds like Mama Bear’s already got you put to work,” Jim chuckled. He softly kissed Spock’s cheek. “See you tonight. I hope we can pick up where we left off soon.” He winked as he headed out the door.
“I don’t believe it,” Nyota said, laughing. “You’ve been here less than a day and already you’re under that boy’s spell.”
“Oh. Does Jim have...lovers very often?” Spock said, heart sinking. Jim had made him feel special. But if he was just a meaningless fling...
“Don’t look so down, dear,” Nyota said soothingly. “Yes, Jim has a bit of a...reputation of being a flirt. But he’s a decent guy. He would never lead anyone on that he wasn’t really interested in. Jim is a hopeless romantic. He has such a big heart, and he’s had it broken several times. For a while, it seemed like he had given up on love entirely. We were all worried he’d never find his special somebody, like me and Scotty, and Bones and Carol. But he must really like you if he’s putting himself out there again.”
Spock blushed, mostly containing his smile. “I like him as well.”
“Good. Remind me and I’ll give you the shovel talk later. But for now...” Nyota gestured to the table. “Dishes.”
Spock wondered what the “shovel talk” was, but obediently began gathering up the bowls, cups, and spoons.
Awhile later, Spock was hiking through the forest with a metal pail full of water grasped in his hand from the stream. Nyota had sent him since his elven strength made carrying heavy buckets of water easier. Spock had never done manual labor before—it was all rather fascinating. And to think Nyota and the others did this every day. Well, it certainly wasn’t the worst way to live, so long as you were sheltered, healthy, and surrounded by good friends.
Friends. Spock had never had any before. But he supposed he had seven of them now. Such good, kind people who had taken him in without a second thought. When he returned to the kingdom of Vulcan, when he reclaimed his place, he must do something for them to show his gratitude. Spock would surely have died without them. Especially Jim...
Spock was already affianced to a noble lady from his own kingdom, T’Pring, but he could easily have their betrothal dissolved. After all, his father Sarek had once been married to a princess of another elf kingdom, long enough for them to produce a child, Spock’s half-brother Sybok. But the princess had divorced him, after finding her t’hy’la , her true mate, the other half of her soul. Sarek bore her no ill will, as he was not in love with her, and their kingdoms remained strong allies. Then Sarek met Amanda, who had been both human and not of noble background—she had been a school teacher. Sarek married her, they adopted Spock’s older human sister Michael, and then Spock was born. Sarek would surely let Spock marry the person of his own choosing.
Would Jim be interested in being a king?
“Well, hello, my dear.”
Spock was startled out of his reverie as an old human woman draped in a long black cloak appeared from the trees. Clutched in her hand was the handle of a wicker basket.
“Lovely day, isn’t it?” she said with a toothy grin.
“Indeed,” Spock said. “May I help you, madam?”
“I believe it may be I who can help you, dear boy,” the old woman said, inching closer to him. “Something tells me you’ve a sweet tooth.”
“Well, elves do have a proclivity for sweet things. Fruits and pastries and such,” Spock admitted.
“Ahhh. Look here.” She thrust the basket under his nose. “Nice and ripe, and oh so sweet. You’ve never had such plump and juicy berries in your life.”
Spock stared at the strawberries, licking his lips. He thought back to the delicious red fruit Jim had fed him last night, the sweet and tangy juice bursting on his tongue. The last Hikaru’s garden had to offer. Spock would have to wait nearly another year for eat more. Then he realized the old woman must be selling these berries and sighed in reluctance. “I regret to admit I have no money,” he said.
“Oh, what a pity. I’ll be on my way, then.” She paused before waddling away, plucked one from her basket, and held it out to him. “Here. I can spare one for such a kind boy.”
“Are you sure?” Spock said in surprise.
“But of course. Here, take it.” The old woman smiled sweetly at him.
Spock took the berry, dipped it in the water to wash it off, and sank his teeth into it. It was even sweeter than ones he’d eaten last night...but then it suddenly turned horribly bitter in his mouth. Spock’s eyes widened as a strange sensation, like a wave of fatigue, washed over him. He dropped the bucket, water sloshing around his feet and soaking into the ground, turning into mud as all his muscles fell slack. Spock stumbled to the ground and fell on his back, staring woozily up at the old woman.
She was sneering down at him. “Dim-witted halfbreed,” she hissed, transforming back into Valeris. Spock gasped—he should’ve have suspected it was a trick. “Now no one shall stand in my way to steal my throne, and I shall be known as the most logical of them all.” She waved mockingly at him. “Sleep well, stepson.”
Spock, unable to keep his eyes open any longer, gave into the curse and fell into a deep slumber.
A half of an hour later, Nyota found Spock’s body on the ground by the stream and she screamed. “Hikaru!” she cried.
The gardener came running at her call. “Nyota! What’s wrong?” He spotted the elf on the ground and gasped. “What happened to him?”
“I don’t know! I can’t wake him up!” Nyota said frantically. “I think he needs a doctor!”
“Bones is all the way in the village!”
“Not a human doctor, an elf doctor!”
“Oh! Alright, I’ll try to find one!” Hikaru took off running for the elf kingdom.
Nyota knelt over the prince’s body, concerned and unsure what to do. Then she spotted something clutched in Spock’s hand--the rest of the cursed berry. She wrapped it in her handkerchief and put it in the pocket of her apron, wondering if it was a clue as to what had happened to their new house guest. She combed the hair off his forehead in a maternal fashion. “Poor boy. God, I hope we can cure you before Jim comes back home. He’d be devastated if something happened to you.”
By the time Scotty, Pavel, Carol, and Bones had returned from their day of work in town, Hikaru had returned with a man named M’Benga, who was not an elf, but surprisingly, a human who had studied elf healing. The others stood around nervously as M’Benga examined Spock, who was laid out on the long dinner table in the kitchen. After several tense minutes passed, M’Benga looked up and said, “I can’t figure out what’s wrong with him. He doesn’t even seem to be dead --just deeply asleep, like a healing trance. But there’s nothing ailing him. He should be awake.”
M’Benga looked at Nyota. “You’re the one who found him, right? Do you have any idea what could have brought this on? A wild animal attack, a plant allergy?”
Nyota pulled her handkerchief out of her apron pocket and opened to reveal the strawberry. “I found this in his hand. Could this be it?”
“I don’t see why. Is he allergic to strawberries?”
“He ate some last night and seemed fine,” Hikaru piped up.
“Wait...do you see this?” M’Benga showed them the inside of the berry, which was turning green and black with sudden rot. “This is no ordinary berry. This has been enchanted. This is some kind of spell or hex. Elven magic.”
“He couldn’t have simply just found this in the forest. Someone must have given it to him,” M’Benga reasoned. “Do you know if this young man has any enemies?”
The others looked at each other nervously. “Waleris,” Pavel whispered.
“She musta somehow found him out here,” Bones added, “and poisoned the poor kid!”
“How ghastly!” Carol remarked.
“But you can cure whatever enchantment he’s under, right, laddie?” Scotty said to M’Benga.
M’Benga shook his head gravely. “I’m afraid not. I’m a doctor, not a warlock.”
Bones furled an eyebrow at him.
“So what happens then? Spock just sleeps forever?” Hikaru asked.
“Unless we can determine how he was specifically poisoned, and if there’s an antidote. But like I said, I know little to nothing about magic. The best I can do is...try to make him comfortable.”
“Should ve set heem up in von of zee beds?” Pavel suggested.
“No,” said Nyota sadly. “None of us will be able to sleep with him in there.”
“You say that like I was gonna get any sleep after this anyway,” Bones said, shuddering.
“We have such little space. All we can really do is make him a nice space outside. We should keep him off the ground, and covered with something, to protect him from the elements,” Carol decided.
“I’ll go back into the village and buy some invisible aluminum from the alchemist. It’s light enough to be toted back an’ forth, malleable to be bent into any shape, and see through, so we’ll be able to keep an eye on the poor lad,” Scotty chimed in.
“And Pasha and I will build a wooden platform for him while you do that,” Bones said.
“I’ll start supper. We all still have to eat,” said Nyota sadly.
“I’ll help you,” Carol said. “That way I can be around if Dr. M’Benga needs some assistance.”
They all nodded solemnly and split off to handle their separate tasks.
The outdoor resting place for Spock was done by nearly sundown. The gang lit candles and laid flowers around Spock’s body before lowering the transparent lid over him. They were so overcome with grief that they completely forgot to watch for...
“Who brought home the bacon? I brought home the bacon. That’s right, I nabbed a couple wild boar! These should keep us all fed for a week at least!” Jim looked at them all curiously as they blocked Spock with their bodies. “Why are you all out here? What’s that behind you?”
“Jim-” Bones began to say, in an uncharacteristically gentle tone. That was what alerted Jim that something was seriously wrong.
Jim dropped the boar and pushed through them and his eyes fell upon Spock lying peacefully on his platform. Jim stared in horror at the elf under the see-through aluminum and his knees wobbled, threatening to buckle underneath him. “What happened to him?” he whispered.
“We think the Queen put him under a spell,” said Carol. “He ate some kind of poisoned fruit-”
“Well then what the hell are you doing just standing around him?! Someone go get a doctor!”
“They did,” said M’Benga, stepping forward. “I’m very sorry, but there doesn’t seem to be anything to do to help him. We need an expert in magic, and the only one we know of is the Queen herself.”
“Well there’s gotta be someone else! Valeris can’t be the only sorcerer in Vulcan!” Jim adjusted his pack. “I’m going to find one.”
“Jim, it’s nearly nightfall! The woods are too dangerous to travel at night,” Nyota objected. “And you can’t just march into the Vulcan kingdom. Valeris knows you. And I’m guessing she knows you rescued Spock, since she was able to find him out here.”
“That doesn’t matter. I’ll wear my hood, no one’ll see my face-”
“Jim, I really don’t think this is a good idea-”
“I’m not gonna let him die, Nyota!” Jim barked, and everyone took a step back in surprise. Jim almost never raised his voice. “I promised him he’d be safe. I was supposed to protect him! I’m going to get this curse broken if it’s the last thing I ever do!”
Everyone watched silently as Jim stormed into the cabin to pack his bag.
“Wow,” Scotty said quietly. “Jim really is in love with Spock.”
The woods were pitch black as the huntsman hiked through them, but luckily Jim knew them like the back of his hand. After all, he had been raised here.
The cabin where Jim and his friends lived now had once been the Kirk family home. George and Winona Kirk had been kind-hearted, loving people, and good parents to their young sons, Samuel and James. One night, when Jim was only seven, a mysterious traveler had knocked at their door and asked to stay the night. The Kirks had happily let him in. He ate with them and slept by their hearth. But after the family had gone to bed, the traveler slit George and Winona’s throats, then robbed them for everything they had. Jim woke the next morning to his older brother sobbing over his parents’ corpses.
Jim had never felt so helpless. He swore right then and there to protect people. He’d done so with his found family, and he was going to do so for Spock.
Since elves only sleep about a quarter of the amount that humans do, the kingdom was still very much awake when Jim arrived. He pulled his hood up over his head and slipped into the throng of elves milling about in their long, decadent robes.
Jim walked through the streets as inconspicuously as he could, till he found a book shop. Maybe they have some books on magic here. It’s as good a place to start as any.
The shopkeeper nodded silently to Jim as he entered, holding up her hand and parting her fingers into a V. Jim returned the gesture, guessing it was some sort of Vulcan greeting. He dropped his hood and perused the shelves, looking for the books on magic, but was quickly disappointed to learn that they were all written in Vulcan. Jim looked at the curly, up and down script despondently. Dammit .
Jim exited the book shop, considering where to try his luck next when he heard a “Halt, human!”
Jim looked up to see three royal guards marching toward him. He looked in the other direction and spotted two more. The one seemed be in charge walked up to him and said, “You are James Tiberius Kirk, the huntsman of the woods.”
“Yeah? So? It’s not against the law for me to be here,” said Jim defensively.
Suddenly two of the other guards seized him and shackled his wrists. “Hey!” Jim exclaimed. “What are you doing?”
“You have been accused of kidnapping the crown prince of Vulcan. You are under arrest.”
“Kidnapping?!” Jim yelped. “No wait, you don’t understand-!”
Jim froze as he felt a sharp pinch on his shoulder, then everything went black as he collapsed to the ground.
Jim slowly came to in a dimly lit room, lying on cold stone ground and hay tickling his nose. “He is waking up, Stonn,” said a cool, feminine voice.
“How unfortunate,” said a male voice, sounding slightly irritated.
Jim opened his eyes to see a Vulcan woman with an elaborate hairstyle kneeling over him. “Are you well, human?” she asked.
Jim grunted somewhat affirmatively. “Where am I?”
“The royal dungeons, of course. This is where all criminals are placed since Queen Valeris took power.”
Jim lifted his head and saw the bars of the cell. He frowned. “Great.” He pulled himself to his feet and dusted off his clothes. Then he spied the third person in the cell and gasped, immediately furious. “You! You tried to kill Spock!” he shouted, pointing accusatorily.
Stonn looked at him impassively. “And you knocked me unconscious. I believe we’re, as your kind would say, ‘even.’”
“I ought to kill you myself,” Jim growled.
“One human against two Vulcans? It would hardly be a fair fight.”
Jim looked at the female Vulcan. “You’re with him? Seriously?”
“Stonn is my betrothed,” she replied in an icy tone. “I would defend him to my end.”
Jim threw up his arms. “Fine! I can see I’m outnumbered. My real beef is with the Queen anyway.”
“You are very protective of the Prince,” Stonn observed. “Why?”
“Because he’s a person, and an innocent one at that! I guess you wouldn’t know anything about morals, murderer,” Jim spat.
“I think your feelings for the Prince run deeper than that, human,” said the woman, smirking slightly.
Jim’s ears turned red. “I am not talking about my love live with a murderer and his girlfriend. I have to get out of here. Valeris is keeping me here because I know she tried to have Spock killed, and so that I can’t save him now. Spock could be dying...I have to find a sorcerer to break the spell on him!”
The woman raised her eyebrow. “You need one who knows magic?”
Jim scoffed. “Yeah. Know anybody?” he asked sarcastically.
“As a matter of fact...I am in training to become the next High Priestess,” the woman said smugly. “I have been taught the ways of magick since I was a youngling.”
“So you could help Spock?” said Jim eagerly.
“Perhaps,” the woman said. “Unfortunately, we are locked in here. The bars of this cage are charmproof. And the steel is far too strong to be bent, even with elven strength.”
Jim rubbed his chin. “I might be able to help with that...”
“Help! Hey, somebody help us in here!”
Two Vulcan guards came from down the hall at Jim’s cry. “Quick, there’s something wrong with this man!” Jim said, gesturing to Stonn, who was laid out on the floor.
“What is it?” asked one of the guards.
“I don’t know, I think he needs a doctor!”
The guards opened the door and stepped inside. One bent over him. “Now, what are-”
Stonn’s eyes snapped open and he pinched the guard on the shoulder. The guard immediately passed out. Before the other had time to react, T’Pring emerged from the shadows did the same. The other guard fell to the floor beside his partner.
“Great job,” Jim said as Stonn got to his feet. “Wish I knew how to do that neck-pinch thing.”
“A surprisingly clever plan,” T’Pring commented. “Crude, simple...but effective.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Jim said. “Now let’s get out of here.”
The three of them took off through the open cell door and slipped out of the castle.
Soon they were hiking back through the woods. Jim turned to T’Pring curiously. “So why did you agree to help Spock? It’s obvious you and your boyfriend don’t give a damn about him.”
“A debt repaid,” T’Pring responded. “For when Stonn attempted to murder him. I would not see him imprisoned.”
“I can’t really approve your taste in men...but I guess that’s logical.”
T’Pring smirked at the word. “Besides...I hope that this act will convince Spock to dissolve our marriage contract once and for all.”
Jim choked. “You’re...married to Spock?!”
“Affianced. Our marriage was arranged when we were seven years old. We are due to wed officially when Spock is crowned King upon his father’s death. But I do not wish to be Queen, James Kirk. I want power of my own. I have known I wanted to be High Priestess since I was very young. I care nothing about Spock’s half humanness like some of our people do. But if I marry, it will be one I choose.”
Jim didn’t like her very much out of her association with Stonn, but he was gaining more and more respect for her every minute. “And you picked Stonn.”
“Indeed. It may seem illogical to you, James Kirk. But affairs of the heart are rarely logical.”
Jim huffed. “Can’t disagree with you there.”
They finally arrived at the cabin, where everyone was still gathered around Spock. They had lanterns lit up so they could see clearly in the dark night. “None of us could sleep,” said Nyota, standing up. “Did you find someone?”
“T’Pring here says she’s a sorceress. She might be able to help him.” Jim cast a sorrowful look at the coffin.
“Remove the glass, please. I must examine him,” said T’Pring, taking off her gloves. “Lord physician M’Benga, please assist me. As for the rest of you, I’ll need complete isolation with the Prince. You all must go inside.”
“No way,” Jim said firmly. “I’m not leaving him.”
“Jim, you’ve been up all night. It’s been ages since you’ve eaten anything. You need rest,” Nyota insisted.
“I’ll rest when I know Spock is okay,” Jim snapped.
T’Pring sighed, then nodded at Stonn. Stonn reached out and pinched Jim’s shoulder, and the huntsman again collapsed to the ground.
The humans, save for M’Benga, gasped. “What the hell did you just do?!” Bones roared.
“Calm yourself, human,” said Stonn, picking Jim up over and hoisting him over his shoulder. “He is merely unconscious. He will wake soon. Please direct me to his bed so I may place him there.”
Jim awoke to find Nyota sitting at his bedside, spooning broth into his mouth. “I’m gonna fucking kill Stonn,” Jim grumbled. “How long was I out?”
“Not that long. Only about half an hour. Now relax. Spock’s out of your hands for the moment. Open up.”
Jim obediently open his mouth for more broth. “I’m not sick, you know. I can feed myself.”
“Well you take care of yourself so poorly, I feel like I have to mother hen you.”
Jim smiled. “Sorry I’ve been such an ass to you, Ny. I know you’re only trying to help me. You really are the matriarch of this whole bunch.”
“Damn right. Don’t you forget who’s really the Captain of this ship.” Nyota’s smirk softened. “Besides, I know you’re acting like this because you’re scared for Spock. You’re really in love with that boy, aren’t you?”
Jim blushed. “Ny, I only just met him yesterday.”
“Please. With you, it doesn’t take long. I bet you fell for that boy as soon you first looked into those brown eyes of his.”
Jim visualized the dreamy, deep, chocolate-colored lakes of Spock’s eyes and sighed. “Yeah. Think I did,” he admitted.
“He feels the same way. I can tell. He was quiet all morning after you left.”
“Well Spock’s not overly social...”
“No, it was a dreamy sort of quiet. I could tell he was thinking about you.”
Jim grinned. “I mean, can you blame him?”
“Ugh, I knew I shouldn’t have said anything,” Nyota said, rolling her eyes. “The last thing you need is an ego boost.”
Pavel appeared in the doorway of the room. “T’Pring ees done vis ze Prince. She says she needs you, Jim.”
Jim sat upright and climbed out of bed immediately.
T’Pring was standing beside Spock’s makeshift bed. The first beams of morning light were just starting to bleed through the trees. “I have determined the spell used on Spock, James Kirk,” said the sorceress. “It is a very powerful sleeping poison, from one of the darkest potion books known to elfkind. It is meant to put one in a coma so deep, it is akin to death itself.”
“But can we cure it?” Jim said urgently.
“There is but one cure. And I suspect you are the only one who can give it to him. The cure is a kiss from Spock’s true love.”
Jim blushed. “Me? I mean, you really think I’m his-”
“Oh for God’s sakes, Jim, just kiss the boy already!” Bones called impatiently from by the door.
Jim blushed even more, and he leant over the sleeping prince and placed a gentle, chaste kiss on his lips.
Spock didn’t stir in the slightest.
“It’s not working,” Jim said, his heart dropping. “I guess I’m not the one after all.”
T’Pring swore in Vulcan. “I could’ve sworn you...if you are not the one to administer True Love’s First Kiss to Spock, then I don’t know-”
“Wait, First Kiss?” Jim groaned, slapping his palm against his face. “Spock and I have already kissed—it was this morning when we woke up. Stupid horny Jim!”
“If you have already kissed him, then it is too late,” T’Pring said, somewhat ruefully. “The Prince will sleep forever.”
Everyone else was very quiet, looking at the ground sorrowfully. Tears welled up in Jim’s eyes. “No...” He sank to the ground, sagging against the wooden base of Spock’s bed. He reached up and took Spock’s hand. “My love, I’m so sorry...I promised I’d protect you. I failed.” Jim began to weep, interlacing his and Spock’s fingers.
He sat there for about a minute, crying, till he realized Spock’s thumb was gently stroking the back of his hand. Jim hiccuped and lifted his head.
Spock was looking at him curiously, brown eyes large with worry. “Jim...why do you weep?” he asked.
“Oh my God, Spock!” Jim clambered to his feet as everyone gasped and rushed around him. “You’re awake!”
“Yes, Jim. But why are you crying?”
“Because...oh God, Spock, I thought you were dead.”
“No. I am...alive. I remember Valeris standing over me. She had disguised herself as an old woman and tricked me into eating a poisoned strawberry. Then everything was black.”
“Oh darling, I’m just happy you’re awake.” Jim brought Spock’s hand to his mouth and kissed it. Then he looked at T’Pring. “I thought you said only a First Kiss could bring him back.”
“I did. So I don’t understand...unless...did you kiss Spock the Vulcan way or the human way?”
“Uh...is there a difference?” Jim asked.
“Humans, for some illogical reason, choose to kiss with their mouths—the least sanitary part of the body. But we Vulcans kiss with our hands.” T’Pring held out two of her fingers, and Stonn touched them with two of his. “You see?” she asked.
“Ohhh!” Jim said. “I only kissed him on the mouth! So just now when I took your hand...that was our first Vulcan kiss!” Jim smiled at Spock. “How about that?”
“Jim...you almost make me believe in luck.”
“Why your Royal Highness...you almost make me believe in miracles.” Jim pressed another kiss to Spock’s hand, causing Spock’s cheeks and ears to turn a charming shade of green.
“Then thas’ it, then?” Scotty asked hopefully. “That’s the end?”
“Uhhhh...I don’t think so.” Hikaru pointed to something emerging from the trees.
Vulcan soldiers. And leading the platoon...was Queen Valeris.
“At last, stepson, we’ve found you!” Valeris declared in a convincing tone of relief. “When the huntsman had the gall to show his face in the kingdom after kidnapping you, we arrested him on sight. But he escaped the dungeons, and took his accomplices with him. Luckily our trackers were able to follow them here to their secret base.” Valeris pointed to Stonn and T’Pring. “The two of you will be executed for treason. As for the humans, we’ll lock them all in the dungeons for the rest of their short lives. Arrest them all!”
“Wait!” Spock cried, and the soldiers froze. “The Queen is lying. She tried to have me killed! Jim rescued me, and brought me here to protect me. From you!” He pointed at Valeris.
Anger flashed in Valeris’s eyes, but she remained calm. “Poor boy. He’s become confused in all the trauma.”
“I am not confused,” Spock declared heatedly. He slid down off the platform and held up the blackened strawberry. “Do you recognize this, stepmother? This is what she used to try to poison me! An enchanted fruit. And she’s been drugging my father too! Queen Valeris is a racist despot who is willing to resort to regicide to keep herself in power.”
The soldiers hesitated, looking at one another, then turned their swords on the Queen in unison.
“Why you... ingrates!” Valeris raised her hands and the soldiers fell to the ground with a mighty, magical blow. “Don’t you know who I am? I am your Queen! You would listen to the halfbreed brat before me? I’ll teach you all to side against me!” Valeris raised her hand again to strike, blue energy coiling in her palm...
Valeris howled in pain, dropping her hand. An arrow had been shot right through her palm.
Jim lowered his bow, hazel eyes blazing with fury. “Not on my watch,” he growled
Valeris seethed and began to raise her other hand, but the soldiers grabbed it and restrained her. “Fools!” she screeched. “You’ll all pay for this!”
Jim swiveled around, scooping Spock into his arms joyously. “We did it, sweetheart! You’re safe now!” Jim cheered, twirling around with him.
“Jim, put me down!” Spock laughed.
Jim set Spock on his feet but didn’t let go of him. Instead, he hugged the elf tight and said, “Come on, your Highness. Time to go home.”
“I’ve administered a counter-tonic to the King to reverse the effects of the elixir Valeris was using to keep him subdued,” said T’Pring, closing her bag of magic tools. “He should be back to his normal self in a few days.”
She, Spock, Jim, and M’Benga were standing in Sarek’s bedroom. The King was still heavily asleep. Spock stared at his father, nodding. Jim could tell Spock blamed himself for not seeing Valeris as the snake she was sooner. He squeezed Spock’s hand softly, and Spock smiled sadly at him. Then he turned to M’Benga. “You’ll aid in his recovery, won’t you?”
“Of course, your Highness,” M’Benga nodded.
“Thank you. I shall see you handsomely rewarded for caring for him and myself.” Spock turned to T’Pring. “I suppose you will want Stonn and yourself pardoned in exchange for your help. As well as our betrothal dissolved.”
“Very well. It shall be done. But I cannot let a bigot and attempted murderer such as your lover stay in the kingdom. The two of you are hereby banished from Vulcan.”
T’Pring didn’t look all that upset. “That is acceptable. There are other elf lands where my talents will be sought after. We will leave before the sun sets.” T’Pring turned on her heel and exited the room.
Jim bumped Spock. “Hey. Why didn’t you tell me you were engaged?” he teased.
Spock looked at his feet sheepishly. “The topic never came up.”
“Yeah. Uh huh.” Jim stretched up to peck the Vulcan on the cheek. “You okay? It’s been a rough couple of days for you.”
“Well, I was asleep for a good part of it.”
“I mean it,” Jim laughed, nudging him again. “Seriously, Spock...are you okay?”
Spock took another look at his father, then at Jim. He smiled, stroking the huntsman’s cheek. “I will be.” He kissed Jim’s forehead.
Spock, the temporary sovereign, since Sarek was still out of commission and Valeris was in prison, came out onto the balcony of the palace, where his people were waiting. Spock cleared his throat nervously. “My fellow Vulcans,” he said in a firm, steady voice. “For the past few months, you have been under the rule of a power-hungry fascist, who used magic and manipulation to maintain control. Valeris nearly murdered both my father and me. She was able to manipulate the prejudiced among us. I know there were, and still are, many of you who were angered when my father married a human woman. There are still others who are distasteful of the fact that I, a half-elf, will someday be King. Those feelings might never go away if we keep ourselves shut off from our human neighbors. Seven kind humans took me in in my hour of need. I had never even met a human apart from my own mother until that day. We must stop seeing ourselves as above the humans. We must embrace them...”
Spock smiled at Jim secretly.
“...as our friends.”
There were mixed murmurs among the crowd. Some approving, some disgusted, and some that were just thoughtful. It was certainly somewhere to begin.
Spock went inside and the doors shut behind him. “Pretty sensational start to your political career,” Bones said.
“Perhaps. But it was what needed to be said.” Spock looked at Bones, Carol, Hikaru, Pavel, Scotty, and Nyota. “When I do officially take the throne, I would like to offer you all seats on my council as my advisors. Hopefully that won’t be for many years, so you’ll have time to consider. In any event, you’re all more than welcome to make a home here. I know you all have lives and careers in the human realm, but we elves could always use more doctors and tradesmen and gardeners.”
“It would be nice to have a bit more space when the baby comes,” Nyota says. “Don’t get me wrong, we adore the old cabin, but seven people and a baby is a tight squeeze.”
“I bet the elves have plant life we humans have never even seen,” said Hikaru brightly.
“It is something to think about,” Spock said. “Now, I’m sure you’re all exhausted. Rooms have been made up for all of you, as well as breakfast. Please go and recharge yourselves.”
Everyone happily agreed and headed out of the throne room. As Spock watched them go, two strong arms slid around his waist and a warm human body pressed against his back.
“And what about me, hmm?” Jim murmured, his lips brushing the back of Spock’s neck. “Would you want me as an advisor too?”
“What?!” Jim laughed. “Why not?”
Spock turned around and wrapped his arms around Jim’s neck. “I would much rather have you as my King.”
Jim’s eyes widened. “Me?” he gasped. “Spock, are you sure?”
“You would be a great King. You are kind, just, wise, and a natural leader. And more importantly, I love you. I am utterly devoted to you.” Spock brought Jim’s hand to his lips and kissed his knuckles. “It may seem illogical because we’ve known each other for such a short time, but I believe you are the one meant for me. I am yours. Please, my beloved...say you’ll be mine as well.”
Jim was bowled over. His eyes were glassy. “You’ll never leave me?” he whispered.
“Not unless you ask,” Spock promised.
“Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.” Jim crushed his lips to Spock’s and murmured, “Yes, you beautiful man. Yes, I’ll marry you.”
And they all lived happily ever after. The end.