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Luck of the Stars

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The port of Southampton is loud and boisterous. A sea of people stood in the road, mainly passengers and their loved ones making farewell wishes to one another. Each person held unique tasks of their own, bustling and moving quickly around as the town car tried to force its way through the crowd.

Spock peers out the window of the car with interest, watching as wives say goodbye to their husbands and members of the ship’s crew hurried to complete their duties and board the ship.

“Spock,” his father says, and Spock turns to look at him. “You are to behave yourself on this journey. I do not want any misgivings about your engagement. It is an honor to have T’Pring agree to marry you in such a precarious time for our family, and you will not squander this opportunity. Do I make myself clear?”

It didn’t seem like an honor to wed a woman who hated him, but Spock obediently bows his head and replies, “Yes, father.”

The car comes to a jolting stop. The driver opens the door and Sarek steps out first, followed quickly by Spock. The driver to the car just behind stops and opens that door as well, assisting T’Pring out. She is followed easily by Stonn, who starts to take her bags from the driver.

Though they were siblings, the only things similar were their facial features; Stonn is bulky and tall while T’Pring is petite and delicate. She straightens her hat and steps forward, offering her arm to Spock. He takes it, subtly glancing down at the turquoise amulet around her neck. It stood out as plain compared to the rest of her elegant dress, but she insisted on wearing it as a sign of Spock’s affection.

T’Pring sniffs, looking up at the ship, unimpressed. “I do not see what all the fuss is about,” she says. “It is just a boat.”

“The Enterprise is more than a boat,” Spock responds, frowning. “It is one hundred times larger and more opulent than any other ship of its caliber.”

Sarek shoots him a sharp look. Spock bites the inside of his cheek.

“My sister is far too hard to impress,” Stonn says with dry humor. “They are saying it is unsinkable.”

T’Pring hums flatly and begins tugging at Spock’s arm toward the boarding ramp. “Be sure my maid has my coat,” she tosses over her shoulder.

Weaving their way through the crowd, Spock takes a fleeting look around port while he still can. As they walk onto the ramp and edge closer to the inside of the ship, he feels as though he is inching closer and closer to a prison.

His throat tightens as he steps up into the ship, his fate now sealed.

~

Harry Mudd is one of the foulest poker players on this side of the Atlantic. He beat Bones twice already, and even though Jim saw no evidence of it, his best friend kept accusing him of cheating.

“He’s gotta be doin’ something,” Bones grumbles into his glass of whiskey. “There’s no way in hell he had that good of a hand. You gotta beat him Jim.”

“I’ll beat him,” Jim assures him, eyeing the scoundrel across the bar table. “But I’m not playing him in poker.”

Bones gives him a confused look, but Jim is already up and grabbing the chess board from the bartender. When he brings it back over and starts to set it up, Mudd laughs.

“You think changing the game will change your luck?” he taunts. “I’ve already cleared out your friend, you got nothin’ left to bet with.”

“All or nothing, then,” Jim responds calmly.

Mudd smirks, then leans back casually in his seat. “I’ll raise you. All your friend lost, all my money, and two tickets to get on that ship.” He throws his thumb over his shoulder, pointing out the window at the ocean liner docked in the harbor. Jim’s eyebrows shoot up in interest as Mudd reaches into his pockets and produces two crumpled pieces of paper, then slaps them down on the table.

“Alright,” Jim says. “You’re on.”

Bones grabs at his shoulder and hisses frantically in his ear, “Kid, are you insane? You don’t have any money.”

“I never have any money,” Jim whispers back. “Besides, I think I can take him. He can’t cheat in chess.”

Bones heaves a sigh and shakes his head. “If I have to go crawlin’ back to Joycelyn after this, I’m never lettin’ you live this down.”

Jim rolls his eyes and shoves lightly at his shoulders. “Trust me, okay?” He turns back to Mudd. “You’re move.”

The game starts up. Even though Mudd can’t cheat, he makes quick and dirty moves that throw him for a loop. But Jim starts to play just as recklessly, throwing all strategy to the wind and taking each move one at a time. Bones makes little noises at his side every time he loses a piece, up to the point that Jim snags the whiskey out of his hand in punishment.

It goes on for about an hour before he realizes Mudd spent the entire time trying to take Jim’s pieces instead of protecting his king. It was recklessly out in the open, and Jim had put him in check without either of them realizing it.

“Bones,” Jim says seriously, “I’m sorry.”

Bones glances up at him and scowls. “Damn it, Jim, I knew you couldn’t—”

“I’m sorry,” he repeats louder, “but you’re not gonna have to see Joyce for a long time, cause we’re going to America.” He grins and moves his queen. “Checkmate!”

Mudd stares down at the board in disbelief.

“Holy shit!” Bones says, excitedly grabbing at Jim’s arm. “Holy shit!”

“We’re going home!” Jim cries, laughing and clutching at Bones while he frantically tries to scoop the money back into his coat pockets. “We’re finally leaving!”

“No lads,” the bartender calls. “The Enterprise goes to America. In five minutes.”

Jim and Bones share a look of panic before Jim snatches the tickets and his bag off the floor. Bones scrambles to put as much money in his pockets as he can before grabbing his own bag.

“I want a rematch!” Mudd shouts.

“No take backs!” Jim calls as he shoulders his way out of the bar and onto the busy street. He weaves in out of the crowd, racing as fast as he can to get to the dock, grinning like a madman. “We’re riding in high style now, Bones! We’re practically royalty!”

“One shred of dumb luck and suddenly you think you’re God,” Bones says, running just behind him. “I hate this!”

Jim laughs and gets closer to the ship, searching wildly for the passenger loading. “Keep up, old man,” he taunts. “I’m the one with the tickets!”

“Insufferable brat,” Bones snaps. “No, that way!”

Jim turns and finds the third-class boarding ramp and dashes up it, Bones on his heels. The ramp is being pulled away from the ship but he calls, “Wait, wait!”

The attendant onboard the ship looks at them strangely when they reach him. “We’re passengers,” Jim pants, holding out the two tickets for him to see. “Look, look!”

The attendant eyes the tickets and then glances up warily. “Have you been through inspection?”

Jim nods frantically. “Of course.”

“We don’t have any lice, we’re American,” Bones adds.

The attendant hesitates, but steps back. “Alright, come aboard.”

Jim hops through the opening and Bones follows him on. The attendant closes the loading door behind them, and they tear down the hall away from him before he can question them further.

“We’re the luckiest sons of bitches in the world, you know that?” Jim tells him excitedly, grinning and shoving at his shoulders.

“Let’s find the cabin first, then play with fate,” Bones says, rolling his eyes. Jim nods and looks down at the tickets.

“I think it’s that way,” he mutters, glancing around the hall to find a direction sign. “C’mon.”

Shouldering his bag, Jim steps through the hall and looks for the correct number of the cabin. They eventually find it—it’s cramped and has two beds, but it’s got a porthole and a view.

“I’m going up,” Jim says, tossing his bag down on one of the beds.

“Hang on, let me go with you,” Bones says, setting his own bag down. “I’m not getting lost on this damn thing on the first day.”

They head back out into the hall and go up multiple flights of stairs until they reach an open deck. Jim immediately goes to the front of the bow and climbs up on the rail.

“Christ, kid, don’t fall two minutes into the voyage,” Bones warns. “If you go overboard, I’m not swimmin’ after you.”

Jim grins and throws his arms out. “I’m not gonna fall, Bones! I’m king of the world!”

Bones rolls his eyes but smiles fondly. “Alright, well when you’re done bein’ ridiculous I’ll be over here.” He moves away to the other side of the deck. Jim stays on the rail a little longer, closing his eyes and letting the feel of the wind and sun wash over him. He takes a deep breath, inhaling the sharp smell of saltwater before opening his eyes and smiling brighter than before.

After a bit, he steps down and heads back over to where Bones is sitting on a bench. Bones glances up at him and raises an eyebrow.

“Have fun?” Bones teases. Jim opens his mouth to answer him, but the words die in his throat when he catches sight of something that causes his heart to stutter.

A man dressed in an elegant gray suit steps out onto the balcony above them. His jaw is sharp and his black hair is cut in a bowl style. He is looking pensively off into the distance as the ship departs, but his eyes flicker over to Jim.

“Hey,” Bones says, waving a hand in front of his face. “What are you—” Bones follows his gaze and groans. “Jim.”

But Jim can’t look away, held in place by the man’s dark eyes. A second later, an older man comes out onto the balcony behind him and says something, then ushers the younger back inside.

“You’d be more likely to grow wings and learn how to fly than get close to him,” Bones tells him.

Jim tosses him a smile and says, “Well, maybe all I need is a running start.”

Bones shakes his head and chuckles. “Keep dreamin’, kid.”

~

As the servants bring their suitcases and boxes into their suite, Spock starts to unpack. T’Pring’s maid carries in her clothes and asks if she would like to organize things, but T’Pring waves her off. She settles in an armchair and pours herself a glass of champagne, watching Spock pull paintings from their cases.

“I do not know why you would pack such mediocre work to bring to our wedding,” she says eventually.

“I did not bring them,” Spock points out. “They were engagement gifts. To leave them behind would be rude.”

“Not much can be said about the taste, though.” Her fingers toy with the diamond chain around her neck before she snaps her fingers to catch her maid’s attention. “Get this off me.”

The maid nods and hurries behind her, unclasping the jewel. Spock eyes her evenly, careful not to let his distaste show.

“Please be gentle with it,” he begs softly. “It was my mother’s.”

“And now it is mine,” T’Pring tosses back. She looks at the necklace with distaste before handing it to her maid. “I have never seen a diamond so plain.”

Spock feels irritation prickle at him. “It is a Vokaya,” he tells her, but she waves her hand around to silence him.

“It does not matter,” she says, taking a sip from her champagne. “We will soon have much more glamorous possessions in Philadelphia.”

Spock’s lips form a flat line, and he turns back to the paintings. They were stroked with water color, each one with an assorted palette. They held the pure and raw emotion the artist was feeling, following no course of logic.

It was a fascinating concept.

The rest of the afternoon goes on like this. Spock is unpacking the chessboard when his father and Stonn step back into the room. T’Pring brightens, delicately setting down her glass on the table.

“Did the captain agree?” she asks. “Will we be dining with him?”

Sarek shakes his head. “Captain Pike holds a profound sense of duty and refused to be taken away from his station while on duty. However, the ship’s designer and conceptor will be joining us.”

“Then I should get dressed,” T’Pring says, smiling in satisfaction. She rises and heads into one of the bedrooms, her maid following quickly behind.

Spock goes into his own bedroom and begins to dress himself for the evening, trying not to think of how in a matter of days he would no longer be able to retire to his own room. He would soon have to share everything—his room, his home, his life—with a woman who would soon become his wife.

He tries to hold back a shiver, but doesn’t quite stop the chills from breaking out across his skin.

When it is time, they head out onto the private promenade deck to a table with two other men already seated there. They rise as T’Pring approaches; she looks even more satisfied than before at the courtesy.

Spock barely holds himself back from rolling his eyes.

The ship’s conceptor was a white-haired man named James Komack who looked entirely too smug for Spock’s liking. The head designer and builder was a charming man named Montgomery Scott, who had a much kinder demeanor than his companion.

“The Enterprise is the largest moving object ever made by the hands of man,” Mr. Komack boasts early into the meal. “Our master builder Mister Scott put her together from the keel plates up.”

“Well,” Mr. Scott admitted with humor, “I might ‘ave knocked her together, but Mister Komack was the one who brought the idea ta light. This beauty’s strength and speed could never be challenged.”

“An engineering marvel,” Sarek agrees politely. “Your work has outdone itself, Mister Scott.”

“Ah,” the Scotsman says, his cheeks reddening slightly. “I had some help here and there.”

“Who thought of the name Enterprise?” Spock asks. “I read about the ship’s construction in the papers, but I could not find any information about the origin of the name.”

“I did,” Mr. Komack says, tilting his chin up proudly. “I wanted to convey size, as well as stability, luxury, and above all, strength.”

Spock’s lips quirk up dryly. “Are you familiar with the work of Doctor Freud, Mister Komack? His ideas of the male preoccupation with size might interest you.”

Stonn snickers and Sarek’s eyes snap over to him. At his side, T’Pring huffs softly. “It seems my fiancé reads too much for his own good.” She digs the heel of her shoe into Spock’s toes under the table. Spock clenches his jaw in pain, but doesn’t wince.

“Ah, let the lad read all he wants,” Mr. Scott says good-naturedly. “There’s nothin’ wrong with a little poke ‘o fun, now is there, James?”

Mr. Komack narrows his eyes. He clears his throat loudly, putting down his napkin and rising from the table. “If you gentleman would excuse me, I have other business to attend to.” He nods at T’Pring. “Ma’am.”

As Mr. Komack leaves, Spock turns back to the engineer. “Mister Scott, I have looked around the ship’s deck and completed some calculations of my own, and I have found that there are significantly less lifeboats on this ship than listed capacity of passengers.”

Mr. Scott’s eye twitches, like a barely held back grimace. “Aye, right ye are again, Mister Spock. There are not enough lifeboats aboard.”

Spock’s eyes widen. “But is that is sure to lead to disaster if—”

“The Enterprise is unsinkable,” Sarek interrupts firmly. “I am sure Mister Scott was aware of the number of lifeboats when constructing the vessel.”

“I was instructed ta limit the number of boats ta make the decks less cluttered,” Mr. Scott admits. “But don’t ye worry. The Enterprise has multiple flood compartments with water-tight doors. Even if she did hit somethin’, she would stay afloat.” He smiles gently. “She’s strong and true, built by Scottish hands. No better engineering around!”

“Indeed,” Sarek says levelly.

Spock does not speak for the rest of dinner. He is wise enough not to challenge his father’s patience again. After they are finished being served, Mr. Scott suggests meeting up with the captain in his lounge.

“He should be off duty by now. I’m sure Pike could stand for a good brandy and cigar,” Mr. Scott says. “He overworks himself, that one.”

Sarek nods. “A favorable suggestion, Mister Scott.”

They all rise and head for the door, but before they can get far T’Pring clears her throat delicately. “If you gentlemen would not mind,” she says, “I would like to speak with my fiancé alone.”

Spock feels his chest tighten at the very idea. Mr. Scott snorts and elbows Spock in the ribs, shooting a wink at him.

“We’ll be in ta captain’s lounge, laddie. Come whenever you’re finished bein’ a newlywed,” Mr. Scott tells him with good humor. Then, he claps a hand on Stonn’s shoulder and steers him and Sarek out of the room.

The walls feel ten times closer now that he is alone on the deck with her. Spock forces himself to take a breath, turning around and watching as T’Pring smiles gently at him.

“You look quite lovely in blue,” she murmurs, stepping closer and putting her hands gently on Spock’s shoulders. She pushes lightly, and Spock falls easily down into the chair, his legs giving out underneath him.

“You have told me that often before,” Spock replies, his throat constricting.

T’Pring tilts her head, her hands like weights on his shoulders. “Won’t you tell me I look beautiful too?”

“You look beautiful,” Spock repeats hollowly.

She smiles at him oddly, like she did not quite understand his thoughts. She raises a delicate hand and traces it up his shoulder and neck, cupping his cheek. “Spock,” she all but purrs, “we are to be wed soon.”

“I—” He stutters as she sits down in his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck, chaining him in. “I am aware.”

She wraps her hand around the base of his skull, leaning her head down to press a soft kiss against his throat. “Do you not find me pleasing?” she murmurs, her voice thick and sticky like honey.

Spock sucks in a breath. The smell of her perfume clogs his senses. He knows what she wants—how he was supposed to react when a woman touched him like this—but only acid boils up from his stomach.

“I do,” Spock says roughly, the lie grading past his teeth like sandpaper. His hands remain firmly down at his sides instead of wrapping around her.

T’Pring trails her nose across the underside of his jaw. “Where has your mind gone, my dear? Why are you so distracted?” She sighs softly, her breath chilling and causing goosebumps to rise on his flesh. “Let me in to your mind.”

She pulls back enough to grasp his face between both of her tiny hands. Spock leans as far back as he can when she moves in to kiss him, finally raising his hands to push gently at her shoulders.

“T’Pring,” Spock rumbles, “while we are engaged, we are not yet married. It would be…indecent to act upon a bond that has not yet been formed.”

Her lips pull down in a frown and she tilts her head again, looking at him as if he is an odd specimen of man she has never seen before. Spock swallows.

She lets out a small breath. “You are correct,” she says, leaning away. “You have such high morals, Spock. How gallant of you.”

Spock clenches his jaw and grits out, “Thank you.”

T’Pring laughs once, the tone harsh and grading. She unwraps herself from him and stands. “Go on,” she instructs. “Go and have your manly times with the captain.”

Spock stands quickly, fighting against the trembling in his knees. She raises her hand in an offering and he takes it, brushing his lips across the back like he knew he was supposed to, before slipping out into the hall.

His resolve breaks. He clenches his eyes shut, feeling as if the ceiling and the wall switches places. His skin is still chilled, the feel of her body burning into him in such a way that felt so…wrong. He could offer excuses now, could make lame reasons why he could not be with her, but in the end, it wouldn’t matter. He is her betrothed, and he couldn’t hide forever.

Soon, T’Pring would realize the truth: that Spock desired not to be with her, or any woman. That he is a disgrace, an abomination. And the second she did, his family would be shamed forever.

Spock clenches his shaking hands at his side and swallows thickly. Before he realizes what he is doing, he starts walking. He passes out the doors onto the open deck, the cool air of the night stinging on his face. It was nothing compared to the turmoil inside of him, fear and anxiety and pain rising and falling together in a crescendo to match the ocean waves below.

Suddenly, Spock is struck with an idea.

He refuses to run, because causing a scene would be considered undignified. Instead he strides to the back of the ship with purpose, the emotion inside him bubbling up in his chest uncontrollably and demanding to be released. Once he reaches the edge of the deck, he shakily grabs the safety rail and peers down into the black water below. Before he can think further, Spock hoists himself up over the rail onto the other side, holding himself back from falling by the barest of margins.

It would be called an accident. He would have been walking too close to the edge and simply slipped overboard. His family would grieve for the appropriate amount of time, but then carry on like always.

The water looked so peaceful. It reflected the lights of the stars and the ship, casting an eerie glow on the surface. Spock sways forward, wanting nothing more than to discover that light for himself. To let go, both literally and figuratively.

“Hey,” a voice from behind him says. “Don’t—don’t do that.”

Startled, Spock whirls around to see a scruffy blonde man standing roughly ten feet away from the edge. His only witness, it seems.

“Give me your hand,” the stranger says, extending his arm gently and taking a step forward. “I’ll pull you back over.”

Spock’s brain kicks back in and he shakes his head. “Do not step any closer,” he bites out, trying to ignore the way his voice shakes. “This does not concern you.”

One side of the stranger’s mouth quirks up bitterly. “The handsomest guy I’ve ever seen is about to jump off the back of a moving ocean liner,” he jokes. “That seems pretty concerning to me.”

Frustration swells in Spock’s chest. “Go away,” he hisses. “You cannot persuade me to change my mind, my decision has already been made.”

“Then how come you’re still talking to me?”

Spock opens his mouth to retort, but then snaps it shut. He turns away from the man and stares back down at the water below. It looks less peaceful now, more like a vision of swirling black madness. It makes Spock dizzy.

The stranger speaks again. “You won’t.”

Spock’s head whips around. “I beg your pardon?”

The man has inched closer, now only about two feet away from the rail. His hands are placed almost casually inside of his jacket pockets as he says, “You won’t jump. If you were so set on it, you would have done it already.”

Spock glares at him. “Do not presume to know what I will or will not do. You do not know me.”

At that, the stranger shrugs. “That’s true. I guess I’m just hoping you won’t jump. Because if you do,”—he starts to shrug off his thick coat, revealing broad shoulders underneath—“I’m gonna have to go in after you.”

“I—” Spock stares at him dumbly. “No, you do not.”

“Yeah, I do,” he says earnestly, nodding and bending to take off his boots. “I’m involved now, see? I’ve talked to you. How will I ever live the rest of my life knowing I could have prevented someone from committing suicide? That’s not something that’ll stick well on my conscience.”

“That is not my problem,” Spock says coolly, raising his chin. “Now leave me. Your presence is distracting.”

Spock turns back to the water, and for a moment he thinks the stranger left before he hears him speak again.

“You ever been to Iowa?”

Spock blinks, turning to stare at the man, flabbergasted. “What?

“Iowa,” the man repeats. He is much closer now, leaning against the rail almost causally to talk to Spock as if he wasn’t just about to jump off the edge. “It’s in the middle of nowhere. Nothing but cornfields there—you don’t look like you’re from the Midwest.”

Spock blinks again. “I hardly see how my upbringing is relevant to this situation.”

“I grew up there,” the stranger says in explanation. “It gets some of the worst winters. My mom would take my brother and I to go ice fishing down the river every winter when I was a kid. So one time, Sam and I did it by ourselves—we were too young to be doing it alone, but we were stupid—and I walked across some thin ice, and…” He shrugs. “I fell in. The water was freezing, but river water is probably nothing compared to how cold the water down there is.”

Spock glances down at the ocean again. His frustration and panic starts to fade into a new kind of unease. “How cold was the river?” he finds himself asking.

“It felt like a thousand knives piercing my skin all at once,” he admits softly. “I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think…All I could do was open my mouth to scream, but then I was sucking in water. My brother pulled me out and I had hypothermia for a week. But that was just water from a Midwest winter. Water from the Atlantic, this time of year? It’s gotta be at least ten times colder.”

Doubt begins to trickle down Spock’s spine.

“That’s why I’m not looking forward to going in after you,” the man concludes. “But I am. You jump, I jump. Unless you decide to come back over the edge.”

Spock bites his lip and slides his gaze to the stranger. He extends one arm, just close enough for Spock to reach but far enough not to be taken as a threat.

“C’mon,” he urges gently. “Take my hand. You don’t want to do this.”

“You are incorrigible,” Spock tells him, but grasps the man’s hand and slowly turns around. He has one hand still wrapped tightly around the railing and the other clasped in the stranger’s grip.

The stranger’s face breaks out into a smile, so bright it rivals the stars above them. “Got you to turn around, didn’t I?” He readjusts his grip onto Spock’s arm. “Now step up like that—I’m Jim Kirk, by the way.”

“I am S’chn T’gai Spock,” Spock answers, swinging one leg over the railing. The stranger—no, Jim—laughs.

“Is that European or something?” he jokes. “I might need to write that down.”

Spock does not acknowledge his joke, also choosing to ignore how the sound of his laugh makes him feel even dizzier than before. Spock blames it on the near-death experience—unfortunately, his brief lapse in concentration causes him to slip. He loses his footing and topples over the railing, hands shooting out to grab at Jim’s shoulders. Jim yelps in surprise and they both collapse on the deck, their foreheads smacking together.

“Damn it,” Jim curses, wincing and rubbing at his head. “Sorry, I—”

“Hey!” another voice shouts, and a security officer rushes over. “What’s going on?”

Spock frowns, only then realizing how this must look: Jim with his tattered clothes half off, sitting on top of a clearly rumpled and disoriented member of higher class.

Above him, Jim sighs. “Shit.”

~

It’s not the first time Jim has gotten handcuffed, and it probably won’t be the last. The thing that makes it shitty, though, is this time he hadn’t actually done anything wrong. He saved that Spock guy from jumping off the edge of the boat, for Christssake. He shouldn’t be in the wrong here.

But no matter what he says, the officer won’t listen. Another surprise. He tries to get Spock to vouch for him, but he hasn’t spoken a word, his face carefully blank and closed off.

“Already told you, I wasn’t—”

“Spock!”

A petite woman with high cheekbones and braided hair and an older man approach them, both of them just as elegantly dressed as Spock. The older man breezes past Jim and goes right to the security officer.

“What is the meaning of this?” he demands, his voice low and flat but somehow still chilling.

“This piece of scum was caught assaulting your son, sir,” the officer says, shooting Jim a dirty look.

“For the last time, I wasn’t assaulting anybody!” Jim snaps. “I fell—”

“Right,” the officer sneers. “Bet you were just gonna fall into his pants, too.”

The older man clears his throat, and the officer looks around him and notices the woman for the first time. He flushes and tips his hat, mumbling an apology.

But the woman doesn’t seem bothered. She latches on Spock’s arm, holding it tight in her grip. Spock stiffens-not-so-subtly at the contact, standing impossibly straighter.

“It should not have happened at all,” the older man says, his voice challenging. “Spock was supposed to be going to the captain’s lounge.”

“You got distracted again, didn’t you?” the woman coos, sounding pitying. She turns to the officer, speaking as if Spock was not there. “It occurs quite frequently. Spock has a mind that wanders.”

“I was not distracted,” Spock snaps, looking up for first time. “I—” He cuts off, glancing around almost frantically once before stubbornly training his eyes back down on the deck. His jaw works as he says flatly, “I was intrigued by the ship’s mechanics.”

“Mechanics?” Jim and the woman repeat together.

“Mister Scott’s description of the ship was helpful, but I wished to investigate on my own,” Spock continues hurriedly. “I was observing the propellers when I leaned too far over the edge of the railing. Mister Kirk was fortunate enough to be in the same vicinity and caught me before I fell.”

Spock’s eyes lock on Jim’s. Underneath the collected surface, it is easy to see he is shaken and anxious for some reason. Never one to tattle, Jim plays along.

“Yeah,” Jim agrees quickly. “That’s exactly how it happened.”

The older man looks at Jim with suspicion. “How very fortunate.”

“Sarek,” the woman says, “there is no point of pursuing it further. Spock and I can speak alone about the matter.” Her grips seems to tighten around his arm. Spock looks like he just sucked on a lemon, but he doesn’t move away.

“Very well,” the guy named Sarek says, still eyeing Jim as if he was a roach. “Thank you for saving my son, Mister...”

“Kirk,” Jim supplies breezily. “Your welcome. Now can you let me out of these things, Cupcake?”

The officer huffs but does it. Jim shoots him a sneer in response.

“Come, darling,” the woman says, pulling on Spock’s arm. “Let us retire for the night.”

Spock shoots one glance over his shoulder at Jim, then disappears inside the ship along with the woman and Sarek. Jim waits a few heartbeats before tearing down the decks of the ship to get to his own cabin.

“Bones!” Jim cries, throwing open the door. “I talked to him!”

Bones, who was asleep, groggily raises his head and rubs at his eyes. “Wu—what?”

“That guy!” Jim continues, bustling in and flipping on the light. “The guy I saw earlier, this morning on the deck. He tried to jump off the ship.”

Bones seems a little more awake at that. “What?”

Jim sits on the edge of the bed across from him. “He tried jumping off the ship,” he repeats. “I stopped him.”

“Bully for you,” Bones mutters, putting his face down in the pillow.

“I also got arrested,” Jim adds.

“Goddamn it, Jim,” Bones groans, shooting a side glare at him. “Can’t you go one week without getting arrested?”

Jim cracks a grin. “Apparently not.” His smile softens as he thinks of the way the moonlight reflected off Spock’s dark hair.

“Hey now,” Bones says, sitting up and wagging a finger. “Don’t you start making those goo-goo eyes. You can’t fall in love with him. You know that, right?”

Jim rolls his eyes and starts unlacing his boots. “I’m not falling in love,” he counters. “I just think he’s handsome, is all.”

“Mmm,” Bones hums. “Handsome and richer than God. You won’t be able to get anywhere near him come morning.” Jim stops, realizing that Bones was right. “And don’t you go lookin’ for him, either. If you get arrested for real it’ll be a bitch to go through customs when we get to port.”

“Okay, okay,” Jim gives in, raising his right hand. “I won’t go looking for him tomorrow. I promise.”

Bones grumbles under his breath and turns his face back to his pillow. Jim uncrosses his fingers from his left hand, and finishes unlacing his boots. He flicks the light off, lying down on top of the thin sheets of the cot. He closes his eyes and thinks of Spock’s mysterious dark eyes, drifting to sleep with the gentle rocking of the ocean.