Once upon a time on earth (and really not so long ago given the planet's history), a group of people existed called "military wives." They came into being because humanity then still often marched away to war...and even into the more recent years most people still assumed it would be a woman waiting pensively at home for a man. You knew the stories of such women well, having written your dissertation on the subject of military wives years ago.
How young you had been then! Young enough, in fact, to have believed yourself to have escaped any possibility of the same happening to you. Their fate could not touch you in your more enlightened time. Wars were a thing of the past! Women being only fit to stay at home couldn't even be imagined anymore! And if any did wait, they did not only have to wait for a man! You, with your fresh doctorate in hand and all the world before you, would never be caught sitting at home longing for your husband to return from his dangerous mission.
You failed to heed one other thing you had learned through all your studies: History itself had a great passion for irony.
It was not that you had spent all these years oblivious to your situation. Your colleagues up at Star Fleet Academy enjoyed ribbing you about it far too much for you to pretend it hadn't been happening. Still you had never felt your foolishness so acutely as you did that night. One irony followed another. Students in your Introduction to Earth History course knew better than to try slinking into class late. Try, and they'd be lucky to find the doors barred to their entrance. Yet it was for the sake of one Xahean student—always a race thirsty for knowledge, but this boy even more so—that you were now late yourself to something far more important than a basic credit class.
The night was pitch dark over your apartment building as you raced up to it from the nearest transporter pad. Your haste had nothing to do with the lateness of the hour, however. This deep in Federation territory, you didn't have to fear the dark or anything that might hide within it. Plenty of streetlights hummed softly nearby to light your path. You threw yourself into the lift the second you neared, wrenched off your boots...and then could do nothing more than wait impatiently until the glossy white elevator at last deposited you on your own floor.
"Excuse me!" you said as you got off.
A collection of Star Fleet officers, all in dress uniform, milled around outside the doors. None of them took kindly to you shoving through them in the direction of your home. They also probably didn't appreciate that you'd pulled your shoes off during your elevator ride. You weren't exactly the picture of decorum just then. As though what any of them thought mattered to you at the moment. Their appearances only served to remind you of how late you were. Without bothering to apologize for your behavior, you rounded the corner to sprint straight into your own dark apartment, the doors of which opened of their own accord the moment you neared.
They sealed themselves behind you at once, too. The lights inside flickered into life after a few seconds of you breathing heavily by the front door. You could allow yourself only those few seconds. Once you could see, you set to peeling off your yellow uniform with its hidden zipper while you hopped in the general direction of your bedroom. By the time you entered the dark room—no lights there were programmed to come on with motion—you were able to kick the dress off completely as you headed for the closet. All you would have time for was putting on your dress uniform. You'd only be even later if you took time to freshen up your hair and makeup...
"I gotta admit, I wasn't expecting the show, but I'm sure not disappointed that I caught it."
The male voice issued from somewhere to your left. Gasping, you whirled in the direction of your bed. Someone lay atop it, propped up by your set of decorative pillows. You couldn't see who it was, and of course you didn't have a phaser on your person. Your heartbeat ratcheted up as your mind raced to think of some way out of this situation. Then the light on the right bedside table flicked on, revealing the dark shape on the comforter to be none other than:
"Jim!" you gasped.
"In the flesh."
His sudden appearance caused all your higher brain functions to cease. Jim. Jim was here. Jim was on your bed. You could get yourself to do nothing more than gape at him as he slowly drew his stunning blue eyes up your half-naked body. Their reaching your chest was what caused you to snap out of your trance. Hastily, you bent, snatched up your discarded clothes, and held them to your abdomen.
"What are you doing here?" you demanded, though the shaking in your voice ruined your waspish intentions.
Jim, of course, looked a little disappointed at your rush to cover yourself up. "What do you mean, what am I doing here? I've been scheduled to get back to Earth today for weeks. Is this why you didn't show up? You got the date wrong?"
"I know when you were scheduled to return," you said. "I just—but—what are you doing here?"
"I live here," he answered in his most patronizing tone.
"Oh, shut up. That's not what I meant, and you know it. I know when you were due to arrive, and I know this is where you would obviously come after, but—"
A familiar smile lit up his handsome face. You felt your insides turn to goo at the sight of it. That smile had always made you melt, but having it sprung upon you after years of absence made the effect all that much worse. Clearing your throat did not seem to convince him that you didn't notice.
"Aren't you supposed to be in the process of putting into spacedock as we speak?" you asked.
"Nah. Enterprise docked an hour ago. Five years and yet you still couldn't be there to greet me. Tell me the truth, [Name]. Has there been someone else?"
It could not be more obvious that Jim wanted to pick up right where he'd left off: teasing you mercilessly. You understood well what he was doing, and yet you somehow couldn't keep your hackles from being raised.
"No, there's no one else! I got caught late with a student. You know how Xaheans can get. We hardly touched the Eugenics Wars, and he wanted some suggestions for articles for further study, and I just...I..."
The way he stood was a poem in its own right, especially since he hadn’t yet changed out of his own uniform. He knew what his body did to you. That was the only explanation of why he moved so deliberately toward you.
"You just...lost track of time," he finished for you as soon as he reached you. "I remember how you can get when you've got an eager audience. I hope that means I won't have to listen to any history lectures before we get to tonight's main event."
Had Jim always been that tall? Had his eyes always been that blue? Had his lips always been so soft-looking? Seeing him up close after all this time made you feel like you were starting from square one, gazing at the handsome new student from across the courtyard after he'd just caused a huge disruption in the middle of Inter-Stellar Ethnology.
This time you didn't just clear you throat, your ducked your head so you wouldn't keep staring. "Yes. I did lose track of time. I really did intend to be there to greet you. Anyway, my absence does not explain why you are here. If I remember correctly, there was supposed to be some sort of ceremony after your crew disembarked."
A soft pressure on your chin turned out to be his hand pushing your face up to his. His eyes twinkled mischievously. "I decided to skip it."
"What? You can't just skip something like that! What were you thinking? I bowled over half a dozen admirals on their way to that on my over here!"
"Don't be such a Kelpian. No one is going to miss me."
"Jim, you're the captain," you said, then added uncertainly, "aren't you?"
"What, you think I got demoted?"
"It wouldn't be the first time. Five years would be a record for you."
"I'll have you know I almost got promoted to vice admiral."
"Too bad you got lost in space and missed the opportunity."
He had not let your chin go, and you could feel your skin there warming as his eyes narrowed with mirth. "Forgive me for taking time out of my busy schedule to save the galaxy. I wasn't even aware they'd notified you of that incident."
"They thought you'd died. Why wouldn't they tell your wife?"
"My wife!" With his free hand, Jim took your left one to admire the ring on the finger there. "Are you now? Are you still?"
"Jim Kirk, if you skipped out on doing your duty because you had to run back here and make sure I wasn't in bed with some Andorian—"
"I thought it would be a Tellarite, actually."
What response was there to that other than to give him a light swat? You laughed as you did it, then buried your face against his neck. Jim didn’t smell quite right—something familiar underneath the sterile smell of starship. How long would it take to return him to normal? How soon after that would he need to board the Enterprise? Just how much more time could Star Fleet keep him out there in the middle of space?
You didn’t voice any of these worries. Instead, you said, “I didn’t sleep with anyone else while you were gone.”
“Good. Neither did I.”
Drawing away, you shot him a knowing look.
“What? I’m a married man now. You can ask Bones if you don’t believe me. Gotta ask the ship’s doctor for permission whenever you want to have sex with a new species these days.”
“I wonder why that rule got put on the record,” you mused.
“Hey, now.” His voice was too soft and fond to be a real warning.
Before you could really get into the old rhythm of verbally sparring with him, Jim shifted you away from his shoulder and pressed his mouth to yours. He’d never disappointed you with the length of a kiss prior to that night—but on this occasion he pulled away from you far too soon. You let out a soft moan of disappointment that he pointedly ignored.
“Like I said, I’m a married man these days. That’s why I left before the ceremony started. I missed you.”
“Using me as an excuse, Captain Kirk?” you asked lightly, tracing the contour of his brow with your thumb. “You’re hardly the only man on the Enterprise with a spouse waiting for you at home. Hikaru—”
“—is a better man than I am. You don’t need to remind me. Anyway, Demora eats that stuff up. No way is Ben missing a minute of tonight. The Sulus don’t count.”
He caught your hand without giving you a moment to think of a retort. Doing so became even more difficult when he kissed your palm, your wrist, all the way up your inner arm to your elbow. Unable to help yourself, you giggled, dropping your makeshift curtain back to the floor in the process.
“Jim, we really should go before someone notices the man of the hour is gone,” you protested.
“You mean we should go before I really get you hot and bothered. I think it’s a little late for that.” In one fell swoop, he scooped you off the ground and into his arms. “You worry too much. Spock’s there. That’s who they all want to hear give a big boring speech anyway.”
You were already lost. Jim knew he wasn’t going to get you back in a dress now. Still, you felt as though you had to make one last attempt at convincing him to do his duty to Star Fleet even as you interlaced your fingers behind his neck. “Maybe Spock wants to go home. Did you ever think of that?”
“Please. Spock’s not married. His girlfriend’s stuck with him all night, too.”
“His girlfriend? Did Spock and Uhura—”
“I never thought I’d say this, but I really don’t care whose uniform my first officer wants to get into tonight. There’s only one uniform I want to get into. It’d be a shame to ruin the moment since you’ve already spared me the trouble of removing that uniform, too.”
He had you resting on your back on top of the bed in a matter of seconds. If you ever told him how often you’d dreamed about this very scenario in his absence, he’d never let you hear the end of it. Once again his eyes moved up your body, lingering especially on the areas you’d so quickly covered. Then at last his lips brushed your neck…
…Only for him to stand up straight again with that oh-so-maddening twinkle in his eyes.
“Unless you didn’t really miss me all that badly. I know how much you hated getting left behind to…what was it? Stare out the window into the rain and wait for your man to return from war?”
Now you really didn’t have a choice in retaliation. You grabbed his shirt collar and wrenched him down until your noses nearly touched. “Shut up and get me naked, petaQ.”
“Oh, someone’s been brushing up on her Klingonese. I’ll have to ask Urhura how badly you insulted me in the morning.”
Like you were going to let Jim out of your sight come the morning. Not when he finally did as you suggested and got to removing your remaining clothes. You couldn’t say you didn’t pity them, those military wives of old. They had a lot of obstacles stacked up against them in a world that refused to give them the credit they deserved. All the same, you hoped you all had one thing in common: when all that waiting was said and done, your husband’s homecoming very nearly made your loneliness worthwhile.