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“They’re giving me the Enterprise.

It’s the fourth time he’s said it since meeting that morning with Admiral Barnett, and it still doesn’t seem real, never mind right.

“They’re giving. Me. The Enterprise.

Fifth time. No difference.

Bones lays a hand on his shoulder. But he doesn’t say anything. He just squeezes, and they both look out across the water, which is lavender flecked with red-gold in the light of the setting sun. A crisp breeze moves across the sand, carrying the scents of brine and cedar, as well as smoke from the barbecue pits farther up the beach.

Jim inhales deeply. Breathes out slowly. There’s a tightness in his chest, the kind he hasn’t felt in years, but remembers as the kind that usually precedes tears. He doesn’t think he’s going to cry, though. He hopes he isn’t. He needs to be strong. Responsible. A leader.

They’re giving him the Enterprise.

“Oh Jesus fucking Christ,” he whispers.

Bones’s hand moves down to the middle of his back, and he starts stroking in slow, steady circles.

“Tell me I’m not gonna fuck it all up,” Jim says.

Bones is quiet for a moment longer, and then he says – and Jim swears he can hear the smile – “Not all of it.”

Jim starts to formulate a retort, but his voice catches in his throat.

Still stroking his back, Bones continues. “The way I see it, you have two options right now. You can go to the ceremony tomorrow and accept the commission. Or you and I can steal a boat and sail away. We got a nice big body of water to lose ourselves on. Either way, I’m stuck calling you Captain. Either way…” He trails off, as if lost in thought. “Either way,” he says again after a long pause, and his voice is rougher now, and lower. “I think I’m happy.”

Jim looks at him. His eyes are cedar-green in the fading light and his lips are curved in a gentle smile. “Think you can be happy enough for both of us today, and then I’ll pick up the slack tomorrow, after the ceremony?”

“I think that can be arranged.”

“And d’you think,” Jim says as the tightness in his chest eases and he starts to feel a little mischievous, “you could start calling me Captain now? Just to get me used to it,” he adds innocently while Bones harrumphs.


Captain Brat.”

“Captain Brat.” Bones rolls his eyes. “God, I love you, kid.”

Jim brings their lips together in a kiss that tastes like a promise.