Chris didn’t expect to fall for those damn baby blues when he first approached Jim Kirk, bleeding and quickly sobering in a dive at Riverside, and yet he did. Quickly, too. He’d never experienced platonic adoration like it in all his life. It was like a jolt to his whole being, and then came the whiplash. As easy as it was to find Jim utterly fascinating, he was a constant worry too. Jim Kirk was defensive and wicked smart – too damn smart for Chris, whose own skillset paled in comparison to the kid’s.
Chris believed in love at first sight. He’d damn well experienced it with Phil, even if Phil assured him repeatedly that it had not been the case for their relationship. Chris maintained they had done, even if Phil hadn’t realised it. But platonic love had always taken Chris longer. Family, you grew up with. Family were inescapable and bonds were strengthened via shared experience. But friends were gained slowly and carefully. Chris considered Number One his closest friend and that had taken him roughly ten years to admit.
Jim Kirk was different – and there was a statement he was going to get sick of saying to himself, and anyone who questioned his decisions when it came to the kid. Including Number One and Philip. Jim Kirk had wormed his way into Chris’ heart almost instantly – and if Chris hadn’t worked out he was fucked in that bar, he certainly knew it now that Kirk sat opposite him, trussed up in his new cadet reds. How the hell red could make blue eyes look bluer was beyond him, but they certainly drew out the still fresh cuts on Kirk’s face.
“You know, medical has a great big sign on the front? I’d wager it’s easier to find than my little office.” Chris asked, quirking an eyebrow at the kid sat opposite him. Draped was, perhaps, a better descriptor. Kirk was slumped in the chair, on knee pulled close to his chest and his other leg draped over the arm of his chair. Not exactly protocol for meetings between cadets and their advisors, but Chris was quickly coming to understand that Jim Kirk was not about protocol. Hell, Chris could appreciate that. Leap without looking, after all. Hadn’t he just done the same thing with Kirk himself – putting his own reputation on the line in the meantime. It sure as hell wasn’t reason to smile, even if Kirk’s easy body language around him tricked him into thinking it was. Kirk’s arrogance was infuriatingly charming, and Chris refused to give in to it.
“I was exploring.” Kirk said, too blasé for Chris to believe him “I just stumbled across you.” Now that was impossible because to get to Chris’ office, you had to get through Number One’s first. Kirk had known where he was going, no matter what he said.
“Well, I’m sure you’ll stumble across medical too.” Or Chris would have to intervene, and soon. “Would it kill you to sit up straight?” He scowled at the cadet, but it seemed not to phase Kirk at all.
“I doubt it. Would it kill you to get comfier chairs?” Kirk replied easily. Chris thought momentarily of Phil, and his husband’s incessant lecturing that Chris spent far too much time sat in chairs that were bad for his back.
“Quite possibly.” He admitted, shrugging lightly. “I don’t think my husband would approve.” So maybe he was already head over heels for Kirk, but his usual ‘friend-acquiring practices’ still remained in place. Let slip a little touch of information and see how the other party reacts. Kirk was, after all, one troubled kid. Chris wasn’t about to predict what Iowa life had offered him, or how that would shape his attitude towards Chris.
“Doctor Boyce, right?” Jim grinned. “I mean, I did my own research on you- but boy, my roommate is a big fan of your husband. I’m not saying you’ve got competition, Chris, but I’d be wary before you let Bones in a room with him. Don’t worry though, I’ve got your back. I’ll distract Bones with my perfect body.”
Chris had to repress a physical shudder because Jesus Christ, he had an inkling the boy wasn’t exactly purity incarnate but he sure as hell didn’t want to think about that.
“No, you won’t. I paired you with McCoy because I want him on my team, and I want you on my team. If you do anything to mess that up, I’ll transfer you to Komack and you won’t last ten minutes.” He took some private joy in the sudden panic that hit Jim’s blue eyes, before he noted just how pale the cadet had gone behind his well-practiced grin. His triumphant glee was hollowed, then, until it made him feel sick. “Besides, McCoy is a fine Doctor. I reckon I just about trust him to make sure you actually survive the next three years.”
Caring had never failed Chris before. As a Captain, he was firm but fair. So when he showed a touch of tenderness – when he admitted he cared – it tended to be impactful. So either he’d already cared too openly for Kirk, or the kid just didn’t get it.
“Listen, Chris – Captain.” He amended quickly, flushing as he looked to the floor. “I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me. The clothes and the enrolment and everything,” The kid was practically squirming. “But I don’t need a Doctor. And you shouldn’t just assume that I’ll be good enough for your ship.” There, again, that damnable self-doubt that Chris sure as hell didn’t want to equate to Tarsus IV. He didn’t doubt that damned planet was the cause of at least 90 percent of the kid’s issues, but his self-esteem? Chris couldn’t have predicted it when he first laid eyes on Jim Kirk. When, drunk and cocky, he’d leered at Chris and acted positively outrageously considering the positions they were in now.
It occurred to Chris then that Iowa, despite being less than a week ago, was now a long way away. Kirk had been drunk and beaten, but that sure as hell wasn’t enough for Chris to formulate any sort of opinion on Kirk’s standard of behaviour at the Academy. For all he knew, Kirk would be the sweetest, most polite Cadet that Starfleet ever saw. If anything, Chris was the one still overstepping boundaries. Maybe he could have gotten away with organising Kirk’s enrolment papers and finding him a few more clothes than just the bloodied, torn clothes he’d been wearing, but the Doctor might have been a step too far.
“I’m not assuming anything, Cadet. You will be good enough for my team. You may have flunked out of high school and gone off the grid for a few years in your teens,” The word Tarsus, Chris decided, was not going to cross his lips until Kirk wanted it to. “But you haven’t wasted all this time, have you? It was how I managed to convince the brass to let you in, after all.” Kirk was truly blushing now, his gaze fixed firmly on his lap. Chris could feel the subtle movements of Kirk bouncing his leg anxiously beneath the table. “Why didn’t you finish your third degree, by the way?”
Kirk looked up slowly, determination blazing just as his smile had done. It hurt to look at, because it wasn’t natural. Kirk had learned these behaviours at some point (tarsus, Chris inhaled deeply) and he was a potent mixture of low self-esteem, stubborn defensiveness and total genius. Frankly, Chris didn’t know what the hell he was going to do.
“I finished it in theory.” Kirk shrugged, cool and distant. “Would you believe it; sex gets you further than degrees do.”
That vaguely nauseous feeling returned to Chris. He was well practiced at ignoring things he didn’t want to deal with, but the implications of Kirk’s statement were going to keep him awake all night.
“Not in Starfleet. So keep your little roommate from seducing my husband, and I might invite you both over for dinner on Friday.”
In an instant, the defensiveness switched into a true, bright-eyed grin. Jim emerged from beneath Kirk, and Chris fell for the stupid brat all over again. God, Phil was either going to kill him or fall even harder. Either way, Chris was screwed.
“Really? Shit, Chris, Sir, Bones would just die.” Kirk was awed, and Chris wanted to see it more- hell, he needed to. “Not that he’d admit it. I mean, you’ll know when you meet him. He’s complicated. But that would be insane.”
“Consider it an invite then, Kirk. Provided you keep out of trouble this week.” Pike raised an eyebrow. “That includes going to get your physical, you realise, or I can’t clear you for nearly half of your classes.” Before he could even risk that fear creeping back in, Chris continued. “I can pull some strings, Son, but you have to promise you’ll work with what I can get you.”
Blue eyes sparkled with intrigue. “And what can you get me?”
“McCoy. Or my husband. Your pick of the best Doctors in Starfleet, in fact.”
“Not Bones.” Kirk said instantly, as if there was nothing on earth he was more sure off. “I… if you get me Doctor Boyce, he wouldn’t tell you anything would he?”
Phil was a damn good Doctor, and he took confidentiality very seriously. That wasn’t to say he didn’t try to talk when he was a few martinis down. Jim didn’t need to know that.
“Of course not.” Chris swore. “Ever heard of Doctor-Patient confidentiality? Besides, my husband and I have better things to discuss than the latest alien STI you’ve picked up.” He snorted, aiming for a distant sort of amusement to alleviate Kirk’s self-doubt. Chris was good at reading people, it turned out, because Kirk laughed openly.
“Fine. I’ll do it.”
“Good man.” Chris pulled his PADD out instantly. He didn’t actually need to do anything more than just send his husband a message, and Phil would organise the rest from his end, but it was nice to have Kirk think he was doing some big favour. “Show up tomorrow at 1100 hours, he’ll be there.”
“Save the ‘Sir’ for company, would you Kirk? There’s no need for the demure cadet act with me. I’ve seen you beaten and drunk, remember?” Fuck boundaries, Chris decided. There were never any boundaries since the day Jimmy Kirk was dragged stick-thin from Tarsus IV. Of course, as far as Kirk was concerned, Chris didn’t know that. Jim was just the son of a dead hero. A slightly-fucked up genius, letting a dare guide his entire life.
“Whatever you want, Chris.” Kirk’s grin was infectious, and Chris fought back with everything he had.
“You’re dismissed, Kirk. Go enjoy the city, before the hard work starts. Take that Doctor of yours out. I’m sure I’ll see you soon.” He was counting on it, in fact, because he was fucked. He’d fallen for that stupid brat, and there was no escaping him now. Frankly, Chris had doomed himself.
“I’m sure you will. I want to meet Number One; I heard she’s stunning.” Jim winked ludicrously. “Thanks again, Chris.” With that, Jim Kirk bounced out of Chris’ office like he hadn’t just easily dismantled over forty-years’ worth of Chris’ ideas of love in all of half an hour. Chris stared after him, sort of awed.
Home was cosy and warm, very Phil who had been the one to take charge and decorate when Chris couldn’t have cared less about their apartment on earth while waiting for their Ship. Chris hadn’t complained once since the decorating process was over, because it was nice to come back to an apartment that reminded him so deeply of his husband. Especially on the nights that Phil was working and Chris just didn’t have it in him to stay awake. Tonight, though, he got his husband all to himself. Blessing of all blessings, Phil was home and curled up on the sofa eating Chinese food when Chris walked in.
“I would have waited, I swear, but the chow mein was calling to me.” Phil said sheepishly, sucking a noodle up promptly and flashing Chris the same quick smile that Chris had fallen in love with fifteen years before. It was just as effective now- perhaps more so, knowing that Phil had brought take-out for once.
“Unacceptable, I’m divorcing you.” Chris quipped tiredly, sinking onto the sofa beside his husband an dropping his head against Phil’s chest inelegantly. That was fine. After so many years, he was allowed to be inelegant in the privacy of his own home with his adoring husband.
“I ordered you extra sweet and sour.”
“Well in that case, we should probably renew our vows.” His arms wrapped around his husband, who carried on eating happily, and he breathed in that clean linen scent. He was hungry, sure, but he wanted this, just this. Just to hold his husband for a little while and forget that just short of his first anniversary with Phil, he met a starving young boy that he could never forget – while he hoped to god that Jimmy Kirk would never remember.
“You want a drink, gorgeous?” Phil offered, eventually, when his box was mostly empty.
“No, just this.” Chris reiterated out loud. “Caring is tiring.”
“I know, baby, trust me.” Phil twisted into his grip, pressing a kiss against his hairline. “I got your message about Kirk. Are you sure I’m the best choice?”
“He trusts me, and I trust you. I did offer him McCoy, but he seemed adamant against that. I dunno, Phil, I don’t know how to keep his trust. I got him here, but you should have seen him try and thank me for that. I’d demand he get a psyche eval if I wasn’t so sure he’d fail.”
“Chris, you got him out of Iowa and back into school. I’ll look him over tomorrow. Even if that’s all we ever do for him, at least we’ve tried. At least you got him this far.” Phil reasoned, finding Chris’ hand and squeezing it gently. “Eat, would you. I’ll go make a drink, and then we can discuss that massage you owe me.”
“Forget renewing the vows. Take me on another honeymoon, I’ll massage you all you like.”
Phil’s smile made his cheeks rosy, as he extracted himself from Chris’ grip and off the sofa. “I’m sure we’ll have some leave accumulated before the Enterprise is finished.”
“Three years.” It wasn’t as long as Chris had first imagined he’d be grounded, and so he couldn’t really lament the time scale too excessively. Especially not when he had such a lovely home with his husband, and a job that he could definitely see himself returning to one day, when they finally managed to force a promotion on him. “Oh, and we’re having the boys over for dinner on Friday.” Chris added, reaching for a carton of take out. Lucky dip, frankly, he was so hungry.
“The Boys?” Phil called in from the kitchen.
“Yeah,” He spoke through his food. “Kirk and McCoy. It was an exchange for Jim to attend his physical.”
“Jesus Christ, gorgeous, I’m pretty sure you’ve just adopted the Kelvin baby.”
Chris didn’t bother to grace that lovely comment with a reply, instead shovelling more food into his mouth glumly. The worst part was, he wasn’t actually sure if he regretted it or not. Philip was right. He’d gotten Kirk out of Iowa. He’d given him a chance to be great. While he wanted to believe that, if Kirk left tomorrow, he could just let him go – Chris knew deep down that his responsibility for the young man was only just beginning. He couldn’t just let Kirk walk away. Even if Jim remembered after Tarsus – even if he found out Chris had been one of the officers to drag him kicking and screaming back to earth, and Jim hated Chris as much as he had done back then – he’d still have to try and convince him to keep going. It was going to be an interesting few years, in any case.