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There had been rumours that Captain Kirk was making his way around the ship in his downtime, meeting all the new crewmen and taking the time to learn a bit about what their respective jobs were. Admittedly when you first heard them you had a bit of a laugh, but the rumours persisted, and it sounded like he really was. Not only that, but he was getting pretty close to your own small botany room.

You had no real idea what you were even supposed to say to Captain Kirk; you’d really only seen him from a distance during ceremonies and while boarding the ship. Of course you also noticed how unbelievably good looking he was, but protocol was first and foremost in your mind, and that sucked.

You were elbows deep in soil, trying to re-pot your latest acquisitions when you heard the door behind you quietly shoof open.

“Sorry, I’m a bit tied up here,” you called over your shoulder, hoping it didn’t come across as rude. “I’ll just be a moment.”

You were met only with silence, which was actually better than the alternative, and you finished up with ease, patting down and smoothing the soil around the base of the plant. It would probably need staking to help it grow but that was a problem for another day. You nodded your approval at your efforts as you brushed the soil from your hands, turned, and your greeting caught in your throat.

“Evening, Lieutenant.” Captain Kirk smiled companionably. “Spock said I’d find you back here.” He held his hand out for you to shake, and you felt your heart falter.

“Oh, I don’t…” You looked down at your hands and smiled awkwardly. “I’m all dirty, sorry. Can I shake your hand after? I’m just trying to re-pot a few things before the end of my shift.”

His smile didn’t waver; if anything it grew. “That works pretty well, actually. I’m guessing you know why I’m here?”

“From what little I’ve heard you’re checking out all the departments and crewmen?”

“Spot on. I’d like to watch you work if that’s not too weird or anything.”

“Fancy becoming a botanist, Captain?”

"Oh I am more than happy to leave that in your capable hands. I just wanna learn about what you're doing, and watching you would be pretty interesting."

"Well alright then." You half turned towards the work bench behind you, gesturing towards the plants. "These ones we picked up on the last planet we visited, and the leaves and flowers seem to be fairly similar to tomatoes, and I'm hoping they'll fruit so that I can test my theory."

"And how are you proposing to test that?"

"I'll just eat one when nobody's looking."

Kirk nodded along, and you could pinpoint the exact second he realised what you'd said. He frowned, opened his mouth a couple times as if trying to figure out what to say in response, and then looked at you quizzically.

"Sorry, what?"

"I'm kidding! I'll run all my tests and see how it goes," you said seriously. " Then I'll eat it."

He narrowed his eyes a second before smiling back at you. "A sense of humour, I like it."

"It's about time someone other than the plants appreciated it. I make my best jokes when no one else is around."

"Joke away while I'm here if you want. I want to get to know you , not Lieutenant Botanist."

"Forgotten my name already or have you got a thing for nicknames?"

Kirk shrugged happily, giving away nothing. "Did you want a hand with the planting?"

"If you're willing to get dirty I won't say no."

His lips twitched and you could see the effort it took to let it go. “If you’re willing to teach I’m happy to learn.”

As it turns out, Captain Kirk was an excellent student. He followed your direction to the letter, and wasn’t at all the stern and serious captain that you had initially thought he would be. He seemed to be genuinely interested in what you did, as well as why and how you went about it, and it was nice to have someone so interested in what you spent your time doing.

You’d been casting him surreptitious glances every so often and it was while the two of you were washing your hands at the sinks that he sighed and asked you to spit it out.

“Spit what out?”

“Whatever it is that you’ve been stewing over while I’ve been here.”

You hesitated. As companionable as he had been, he was still your captain, and an afternoon of planting wasn’t going to change that.

“I’m serious. I can order you to tell me if that’ll make it easier for you.”

It would have, but you still mumbled an objection. “I’m just...I’m wondering why you’re here.”

“To get to know you,” he said simply, as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

“I suppose I must just be too accustomed to working under captains who leave most departments to do their thing.”

“You are, and it’s my opinion that a captain should know his ship and his people.”

“Most would prefer not to get too attached.”

Captain Kirk shrugged as he leaned back against the bench. “I don’t care for how others went about their duties. This is what feels right to me, so I’m gonna pursue it. I like learning new things, and I’ve met a lot of interesting people these last few months.”

You caught the twitch of his lips as he mentioned ‘interesting people’, and didn’t bother smothering your laugh. “Ensign Hale, right? He tell you about his penchant for singing?”

“Yeah is that a widely known thing?”

“You work down here long enough and you figure out when to avoid certain storage rooms. He belts out show tunes with enough enthusiasm that it takes a while to figure out he’s not as good a singer as he thinks he is.”

“Just for future reference that’s-”

“Storage room 84. Steer clear around dinnertime; he likes to get his practice in before he eats so he can work up an appetite.”

“I don’t think I wanna know how you got that information.”

“I won’t burden you with the knowledge. It came at a price.”

He laughed, and it struck you how easy it was to forget he was your captain. You chastised yourself, straightened up, and shook the pins and needles from your hands before grabbing for the cloth you needed to clean your counter down.

“Don’t do that,” he said softly, and you frowned down at the cloth in your hands.

“I can’t just leave a dirty bench-” you started, and cut yourself off when he took a step closer.

“That’s not what I mean. Don’t...hold yourself back. That’s not what I want. This - this easy friendship that we started, that we built, is what I want. I’m your captain, yes, but I want to get to know you. I can’t force you to be friends with me, but if you’re willing, I would like it.”

You rubbed your palms together absentmindedly as you considered his words. “I would like to. Be friends that is.”

He smiled, and then glanced down at your fidgeting hands. “Nervous tic?”

Looking down at them as well you shrugged, flexing your fingers and ignoring the odd, almost heat, that seemed to be fluttering through your joints. “Nah they just feel a bit weird. Perhaps I’m working too hard.”

“You and me both it seems. Bones keeps telling me I need to slow down; he’s even got Rand bringing me dinners with more vegetables than meat.”

“Well that’s- they’re not wrong.”

Kirk groaned exaggeratedly. “Not you, too. After I’ve spent all this time here with you you’re not even gonna side with me?”

“I’ll side with you when you’re right.”

“I could command you to.”

“You wouldn’t though. You’re too righteous.”

“I’ll do it out of spite.”

You stared each other down, and you couldn’t help but laugh at the way he narrowed his eyes at you. “Do it then.”

He held the stare a few moments longer before letting out another sigh and scrubbing a hand over his face. “Alright fine, you win. I’m not gonna command you. You knew I wouldn’t.”

“I did. It was fun to watch you try and glare at me.”

“Truce?” He held his hand out for you to shake. “No excuses now since we’ve washed our hands.”

You hesitated for only a scant second; long enough for you to rub your fingers together, hoping to rid yourself of the odd feelings still flittering through you.

It was only when he firmly clasped your hand in his that the strange feelings made sense. Made such perfectly wonderful sense that you wondered why it hadn’t occurred to you before.

“It seems we’re to be more than friends,” you whispered, your nervous laugh quickly dissolving into a sob, and his answering smile was brilliant.

His other hand came up to gently wipe your tears away before you took the extra steps forward that brought you over to him, sliding your hand out from his so that you could instead wrap them around him.

His arms immediately came around you, bringing you impossibly closer, and he nuzzled into your neck, breathing you in before letting out a shuddering breath. “You’re the one that I’ve been waiting for,” he murmured, pressing a kiss to your neck.

You felt at peace, almost deliriously so, and wished you could hold onto this moment forever. When you shifted to kiss his cheek he turned, his lips meeting yours, and you sighed happily into it. He felt like home.