Jim had never expected Spock to appear on the bridge of his ship and offer his services as first officer on the Enterprise. He’d thought that Spock would go with the other Vulcans to find a new home, and with it, a new life.
When Spock had come aboard, Jim had been very pleasantly surprised. They weren’t friends yet. Not even close. But Jim remembered the things Ambassador Spock had shown him. Things he’d figured he’d never have. Not with this Spock. That close friendship. A close friendship that had almost seemed like more than friends. There was something—
But here, at least in his timeline, Spock was with Uhura. That had been made perfectly clear to him by both of them. So, perhaps what he’d seen in the Ambassador’s memories had been friendship after all.
Not that long after Spock had appeared on the bridge offering to be Jim’s first officer, Jim had come upon Spock unexpectedly on the observation deck. And more unexpected to Jim was that Spock was alone.
He was standing there, back to Jim, arms linked behind him.
“Hello, Mister Spock.”
Spock did not turn around. “Captain.”
There was a faint note of disbelief in his tone on the word as though he couldn’t quite believe Starfleet would make Jim a captain. Or maybe Jim imagined it. He might be too sensitive about it at this point. He felt like he had to defend himself.
“Beautiful view, right?”
“It is aesthetically pleasing.”
Jim smiled as he stood next to Spock. Awkward.
“Thank you, by the way.”
“Coming on as my first officer.”
“Your thanks are quite unnecessary, Captain.”
“Maybe. But it was unexpected.”
For the first time since Jim came upon him, Spock glanced at him. “Unexpected?”
Jim shrugged. “I don’t know. When we got off the ship after Nero and I didn’t even know what was going to happen with the charges against me and all of that…I just wasn’t sure I’d see you again.”
For a moment, Spock stared at Jim without saying anything. Then he turned his attention to the stars again. “It was my intention to help with the rebuilding of Vulcan.”
Jim moved slightly closer to Spock. He wasn’t sure if it was to hear him better or something else. He didn’t feel like analyzing it then.
“Why did you change your mind?”
Jim came close to touching him then. The urge almost overwhelmed him. And yes, Spock was attractive. Jim could totally hit that. But it was something deeper that drew him. Maybe the stuff he’d gotten from the older Vulcan, he didn’t know.
“So, you did see him?” Jim asked. “I met him on Delta Vega.”
“Yes. I am aware.” He turned to face Jim then, his dark eyes intense. “About Delta Vega. It was not my intention to put you in harm’s way.”
Jim was amused. “No? You didn’t want those monsters to eat me?”
Spock shook his head and maybe Jim imagined it but he seemed to step just a bit closer to Jim himself. Jim licked his lips. “No. I merely wanted you off the ship.”
“Ambassador Spock suggested that I should…do what felt right.”
“The Enterprise felt right?”
“Do you not feel that way?”
“Yeah. I do.”
The air felt charged somehow. Against their will his gaze fell to Spock’s lips.
And then Spock’s communicator chirped.
Spock stepped back and the air seemed to return to normal.
“Yes, Nyota,” Spock said, from where he stepped away. He turned to Jim as he closed his device. “Goodnight, Captain.”
“Goodnight, Mister Spock.”
Jim watched Spock leave feeling…unsettled. And not knowing why.
Leonard tossed the tribble into Jim’s lap. Gently, of course, so as not to jar Jim or the tribble.
“So, this is the little guy who saved my life, huh?” Jim picked up the purring tribble and brought it close to his face as he adjusted himself slightly in the hospital bed.
“Indirectly yes,” Leonard agreed. “When I saw him, her, it, whatever, come back to life, I knew what to do.”
Jim eyed it somewhat warily. “Do they bite?”
“Not unless you pester them.”
“And how do you do that?”
Leonard shrugged. “Damned if I know.”
The hospital room door opened and Spock pushed a cart into the room. Leonard noticed Jim brightened instantly and also completely forgot about the tribble, which he discarded on the bed. Leonard scooped it up and set it aside.
“What’s this?” Jim asked.
“Doctor McCoy advised that you were well enough to have real food, as opposed to the hospital food you have been complaining about, so I have brought your dinner.”
“Yeah?” Jim’s smile lit up the whole room and Leonard was glad to see it. He’d been concerned for his friend’s mental state ever since waking up from his coma. But things had been looking up lately and Spock’s constant vigil certainly seemed to help.
“Indeed.” Spock popped off a silver domed lid off one plate. He brought it over to the tray for Jim’s bed.
Jim’s eyes widened. “Is that a steak?”
“And a baked potato?”
“With everything,” Spock replied. “There is also broccoli, in deference to the doctor.”
“That’s something anyway,” Leonard said dryly.
“And cheesecake for desert. I tried to arrange for an alcoholic beverage but the doctor vetoed that.”
Jim glanced at Bones but he smiled.
Spock next put a little vase with a flower on the tray. A very nice touch, Leonard thought. And if anything Jim brightened more, almost glowing.
Spock’s communicator beeped and with a crisp nod he stepped to the side of the room and spoke in a low voice.
“This looks and smells fantastic,” Jim crowed as he picked up his utensils.
Spock returned. “I apologize, Captain. But I must take my leave.”
Spock shook his head. “Negative. That was Nyota. She has arranged for us to have dinner at Taix.”
Leonard whistled. “Fancy and romantic.”
“Our reservation requires my departure.”
“Oh.” Jim nodded. The bright, cheerfulness was gone. He smiled, but it was different. “Give my best to Uhura.”
“I shall, Captain, and she advised me to give you her well wishes. She will stop by to visit tomorrow.”
“Good. Thanks. You know for dinner.”
“You are welcome.”
And then he was gone.
Leonard could see Jim’s enthusiasm for the meal had diminished by quite a bit. He was now sort of poking at the steak but not even cutting off a bite.
“Not hungry?” he asked gently.
“No, I…I’m fine.” Jim smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. He cut off a bite of steak and popped it into his mouth. “Really good.”
And he ate the dinner, every bite, though Leonard knew he would. Jim didn’t generally leave anything left on his plate, because of…well…reasons, as he told Leonard.
“Now, I’m totally stuffed. You should have had some.”
“Spock got it for you.”
Jim didn’t reply to that. And instead said, “When can I get out of here?”
Leonard sat on the edge of his bed. “Well, now, maybe soon. What do you say we someone to clean this up and play some cards?”
“Sure, Bones. That sounds good.”
Jim waited for his crew to disperse, after they’d all declared they wanted to return to the rebuilt Enterprise at his birthday celebration, before approaching Spock again. He was alone, holding a half empty glass of whatever Uhura had brought him earlier, and typing rapidly into a PADD in the corner of the emptying room. He didn’t know where Uhura had gotten off to or Bones for that matter. But when he spotted Spock alone, Jim decided to approach him.
Spock looked up and met his gaze. “Jim.”
And he felt a little bit of warmth at the ‘Jim’ softly spoken with almost a bit of affection behind it. Maybe he imagined it, but it managed to make him feel a bit like maybe things would be okay between them. Really good even. And he hadn’t had that hope for a while.
“Are you really all right? I mean, with the ambassador passing.”
“Though it was not entirely unexpected given his decreasing health, it was still…difficult,” Spock admitted. And that he even would admit that much told Jim how much it really had affected him.
“I’m sorry. I wish I had gotten to know him better than I did.”
“He thought very highly of you,” Spock said.
“Yeah?” Jim smiled. “A couple of times he contacted me but I couldn’t really devote much time to talking with him.” His smile faded. “And now…”
Jim glanced away, toward the window. Then back to Spock. He suddenly found himself moving into Spock’s personal space. He hadn’t done that for a while because he had begun to think it bothered Spock more than he had let on. And yet here he was again. But he just had this urge to be so close he could feel Spock breathe.
He was a little surprised Spock didn’t try to move back. He just met Jim’s gaze. And if Jim felt a little like he was drowning in those dark orbs, well…
He swallowed heavily. “Bones said you and Uhura broke up.”
And really Jim didn’t even know where that came from. He hadn’t intended to say that. But what had he intended to say? ‘Spock, I want you to be my friend again.’ Maybe that was it.
Spock nodded slightly but before Jim could take that in, he said, “But that situation has been resolved.”
“So…you’re back together?”
“Affirmative,” Spock replied. “She is arranging for living arrangements for us while we are on Yorktown. I am meeting her in thirty minutes.”
The smile hurt but he managed it anyway. “That’s great. I’m happy for you.”
Spock tilted his head. “Are you all right, Jim?”
Jim did touch him then. He put his hand on Spock’s forearm and squeezed. “Of course I am. But I owe a call to my mom, so I should probably go.”
“Goodnight, Jim. And happy birthday.”
Spock knew that he had been wandering around central Yorktown for far longer than was logical. But he had been trying to locate his captain…Jim…for more than two hours now with little success.
There was no “Computer, locate Captain Kirk” ability here. He had been told by Sulu and his husband that they had seen him in a drinking establishment called oddly enough The Wet Spot. But when Spock had paid a very uncomfortable visit there, Jim was not to be found.
Likely it was a mistake to pursue Jim in this manner. But at the moment he wasn’t thinking logically. He had just hours before broken up with Nyota for good. He knew that it was final as she stared at him with tear shined eyes telling him that she would always love him but was no longer in love with him. It was a peculiar distinction.
But what struck Spock the most was that Nyota insisted that Spock did not love her romantically anymore either. And perhaps had not for longer than she cared to think about. But if they were both going to both remain on the Enterprise when it relaunched at the end of the month, they needed to be honest with each other.
Then Nyota had declared Spock was in love with his best friend.
It had taken him several moments to realize she meant Jim.
And then it took Spock more time, as he wandered, trying to find Jim, to learn that she was correct.
At the end of a street, Spock stopped. Where should he go next?
And then he saw McCoy. The doctor would know where Jim was. He hurried over to where McCoy stood talking to a scantily clad Orion female.
McCoy glanced at him. “Hey, Spock. Didn’t expect to see you around here.”
“I am looking for the captain.”
McCoy looked back at the Orion female, who he grinned at. And then without looking back at Spock, he gestured with his thumb down toward the end of the street. “He’s down there. Last bar.”
Spock walked past McCoy and to the end of a dead end street. The sign said Wet Spot 2.
As he approached the door, he remembered Sulu saying, “Are you sure you want to go there, Commander?”
The smell of sexual fluids and illegal substance greeted Spock as he stepped inside. He ignored the female Andorian who greeted him instantly and waded in through the crowd of gyrating bodies to seek out his commanding officer.
When he found him, Spock wished he had not. Jim was in a dark corner of the establishment quite literally engage in copulation with a Halanan female. Since they were known to mate for life, Spock momentarily did not believe his eyes. But there was no mistaking what the captain was doing. Spock turned away, unable to bear watching for even a second longer.
He could not get out of the establishment fast enough.
Spock thought the doctor called to him as he passed but Spock ignored him, in a rush to return to his Yorktown apartment. He made it inside before he expelled the contents of his stomach.
“Take me.” Jim stepped forward as the alien race, known as the Nahooies, shoved sharp pointed weapons in Spock’s and Sulu’s sides. “Let them go.”
The leader of their race smiled slickly at Jim, coming closer to him and putting gooey slimed hands on Jim’s face. “A captain is worth more than two junior officers.”
The tongue of the alien curled out and flicked at Jim’s skin, tasting him. Spock curled his fists.
“Mm.” The Nahooie commander stepped back. “Release them and take the captain. And bring him to my house.”
“No,” Spock said again.
“Commander,” Jim said in a low voice. “You will beam back to the Enterprise.”
“Go now,” the Nahooie said with a snarl. “Before I change my mind.”
They grabbed Jim and started dragging him away.
“Shall we roast him first?” Spock clearly heard one of the guards ask through his universal translator.
“No, leave him raw for now,” their commander said. “If they do not cooperate, we will cook him and feast on him later.”
“Commander,” Sulu said, eyes wide and frantic.
The transporter operated and Spock and Sulu found themselves on the pads.
“Where’s Jim?” McCoy demanded from his position next to Scott.
“He’s been captured!” Sulu told them. “And they are going to eat him.”
“They will not,” Spock said coolly.
“I have his coordinates!” Scott shouted gleefully. “Standby.”
Suddenly Jim appeared on the pad, his shirt ripped, blood dripping from the corner of his mouth and what looked like a bite mark on his shoulder.
“Scotty!” Jim exclaimed. “That tracking thing you gave me worked great.” He stepped off the pad. “Now if—”
Jim fell to the floor.
“Jim! Damn it!” McCoy rushed at him.
Jim rested his hand on the outside of Spock’s door.
Should he go in? And do what? Beg Spock to be his friend?
Wasn’t that pathetic?
He’d hoped that when they’d gone out again on the new Enterprise things would be better between them. Lighter. Or closer. Or hell, anything. Something like what old Spock and Kirk had together, friendship-wise.
But Spock was more distant than ever and Jim didn’t know why.
Jim sighed and went back to his quarters. He was about to go in when he spotted Uhura coming down the corridor.
“Hey. You going to see Spock?”
“We’re not together anymore.”
And yeah, Jim had heard that.
“Still friends, right?”
“Of course.” She frowned. “Why aren’t you going to see him?”
Jim shrugged. “I don’t think he likes me much.”
She stared at him as though he had two heads. “Captain, sometimes…”
“Sometimes I want to punch you right in your perfect nose.”
To Jim’s surprise, she grabbed him and pushed him toward Spock’s door. Then she reached past him and pushed the button for entry. She stood back and crossed her arms.
“Enter,” Spock said from within as the door opened.
Uhura pushed Jim through the doorway and it closed behind him.
Spock stood in the middle of the room, hands clenched behind his back. “Captain?”
Jim rubbed the back of his neck. ”Hey.”
“You have been released from the medbay.”
“Um. Yeah. Um. Yeah.” Jim shuffled his feet. “Listen.”
Spock’s eyebrow rose. “I am listening.”
“Do you hate me?” Jim blurted out.
“Do you even like me? I mean once you said we were friends, but it’s…you don’t talk to me. God, Spock, you-you won’t even look at me anymore.”
Spock was looking at the floor. “Are you mated to the Halanan female?”
Jim’s mouth dropped open. “Am I? What? Spock. What?”
Spocks gaze rose and, to Jim’s shock and unease, there was torment in their dark depths. “I saw you with her in Yorktown. At the-at the Wet Spot…2.”
“You saw me?”
“Spock, no. I’m not…no.” He felt sick to his stomach and laid his hand there. “I was…it was just sex.”
“They generally choose a life mate.”
“Yeah. Maybe. But not her. Not this one. And not me.”
“Because I…” Jim suddenly felt himself moving forward to where Spock stood. “I’m in love with you.”
Spock’s eyes widened but he said nothing, seeming frozen in space.
“I’ve been in love with you since…well a long time. And I know you don’t feel the same so I understand—”
“I love you,” Spock said just before kissing him.
Jim gasped and grabbed the back of Spock’s neck, kissing him back with all the pent up love and desire he’d been feeling for literally years. Spock’s breath hitched and he pulled Jim toward him until their bodies were flush against each other.
“Ashayam,” Spock whispered against him lips.
“I hope that’s a good word.”
Spock pushed him toward the bed. “It is a very good word.”