“Hey! Are you okay? Hello. Can you hear me? Oh, man. You must be freezing.”
Spock blinked rapidly and his vision began to clear. Someone was rubbing him frantically, his frozen limbs, and he had to admit it felt good.
A man leaned over him and Spock’s breath caught in his throat.
Startled blue eyes stared down at him. “How’d you know my name?’
Spock shook his head.
“Never mind.” Jim glanced to the side and then back to Spock. “We should get you up and out of here. Can you walk?”
It had taken a moment for Spock’s universal translator, carefully hidden amongst his clothing, to kick in. English. American English.
“Yes, I believe I am capable,” Spock replied carefully.
Jim reached down and helped Spock up from the snow bank. “Bad place for you to pass out. Have you been drinking?”
He had an accent, Spock noted. Eastern United States. New England. That made sense since that was where the Enterprise had advised Spock should go. He had prepared as best he could, wearing appropriate attire for the time period, and a woolen cap upon his head to hide his pointed ears.
“I do not drink.”
Jim stepped close enough to Spock that he could smell a spicy sort of aftershave. He was sniffing Spock. “All right. Sure. I don’t smell anything. Anyway, we’d better get you inside.”
As Jim linked his arm through Spock’s and around his waist, Spock was able to tell that this Jim was perhaps an inch or two shorter than the James T. Kirk he knew on the Enterprise. But otherwise, he could have been Spock’s Jim. Not that Jim had belonged to Spock. He’d wanted that, yes, but it was so very complicated.
Jim led him up a cobbled twisted path to the front door of a small house, more of a cottage, really. Jim fished into the pants he wore and then pulled out what looked to be an old key. He opened the door and then pulled Spock inside, flicking a switch on the wall that illuminated the room in light.
“You’re lucky you passed out where you did,” Jim was saying as he removed his heavy black overcoat. “A few feet to the left and you’d have fallen in the water. Probably drowned.”
It was true that Spock had not been sure where exactly he would arrive in Jim’s small New England town. He had not intended to find himself lying in a frozen heap of wet white stuff.
Jim hung up his coat and then removed his own wool hat. He placed both of them on a wooden pole with arms. He wore jeans and a blue flannel shirt that set off his extremely blue eyes even more. He was absolutely stunning.
“I’m Jim, by the way. Jim Kirk.” He frowned. “Did you know my name?”
“Someone mentioned you in town,” Spock said. “I am Spock.”
“Spock? Kind of a strange name. What’s your full name?”
Jim smiled a little. “Well. Okay. We should get you out of those clothes and into something warmer. I have a robe you can wear I guess while your clothes dry. Not sure I have like pants and things to fit you.”
Apparently this Jim was something of a babbler, Spock noted. Jim left him standing in the front hall as he disappeared toward the bedrooms.
Spock glanced around. It was a simple layout with just a living room with a fireplace, a kitchen, and a breakfast nook. The corridor Jim had gone through was short and led to what appeared to be three bedrooms and a bathroom.
Jim reappeared holding what Spock recalled was a terrycloth robe. It was a dark burgundy color. “My sister gave me this for last Christmas. Anyway, the bathroom’s there, so why don’t you take those off and put this on.” He thrust it at Spock, who took it. “I have some bean soup I’ll heat up. You want some coffee or something?”
“If you have tea, I would be appreciative.”
“Sure, I have tea. I even have hot chocolate if that’s your preference.”
“Not tonight, thank you.”
He took the robe and went into the bathroom, removing the cold, wet clothing. The robe smelled a little like the spicy aftershave Jim wore. He surveyed the bathroom cabinets and discovered a bottle of what was called, Old Spice.
Spock eyed himself in the mirror and decided except for his ears, he passed easily for a human here. He would be forced to leave on the cold, wet woolen cap on so as not to startle Jim.
Spock had to be very careful. He did not know exactly what date the computer had chosen for him. He had instructed the computer to make sure that it would be well in advance of the day he came to prevent.
He was here to make sure that this human, his captain’s ancestor, was not murdered.
Spock emerged from the bathroom to the scent of beans, onions, carrots and celery. With Jim heating vegetarian soup he did not yet have to explain he did not eat meat. He was certain that time would come, however, as his research of the time period indicated there’d be very few Humans who would have his preferences.
His heart skipped in his side at the side of this different Jim standing in the kitchen, stirring a pot of soup. He’d only recently come to the realization that he’d fallen in love with his captain, that he’d fallen in love with James Kirk. And now as he came to save Jim, both his captain, and this man who looked so much like him—
“Oh hey,” Jim greeted him with a smile as he turned from the stove, noticing Spock standing there. “You should get rid of your hat. I’m sure it’s wet.”
“I have a physical deformity that would likely startle you,” Spock said neutrally.
Jim snorted at that. “Doubtful. I’m not that easily startled. Go ahead. You’re going to want it to dry too.”
Reluctantly, Spock removed the cap, waiting for Jim’s reaction to his pointed ears. For a moment, Jim puckered his lips. Spock had no idea what biases the Jim of this time would have. This was long ago in Earth’s history.
“Well, okay. You probably need to wear your cap outside and around town,” Jim said. “The people around here aren’t the most open-minded bunch. Don’t really like anyone who’s different, if you know what I mean.”
“But here it’s fine. There’s no reason to hide yourself around me, Spock.”
“Very well,” Spock agreed, somewhat relieved at Jim’s non-reaction. He set aside the cap on another surface for it to dry.
“Sit on down there at the table and I’ll bring you a bowl of soup, yeah?”
Spock did as Jim said. He had an usual way of speaking. He supposed it was that New England accent he was unused to. It was not unpleasant, but a little odd coming from Jim. He had to keep reminding himself that this was not his Jim. Not that he had Jim. But Spock hoped. If he could fix this.
He watched as Jim spooned soup into two cobalt blue bowls that kind of reminded Spock of this Jim’s eyes. They were, somehow, a slightly richer, darker shade of blue. His overall appearance was stunning, just as his captain’s was.
“Here you are. Good, yeah?” Jim said as he set the bowls down. One in front of Spock and the other in front of the seat Spock supposed Jim would take. “I’ve got some warm rolls. That’ll do the trick.”
Spock watched him as he walked back into the kitchen. Though his jeans were somewhat baggier than the trousers his captain normally wore, there was no mistaking the rounded cheeks within. He distracted himself by spooning a large bite of soup and promptly burned his tongue.
Jim laughed. “Easy there. Now you’ve gone and burned it, yeah? The bread and butter help.”
He took his seat and pushed a basket full of steaming rolls toward Spock.
“Where are you from?” Jim asked. “Not from here, right?”
“No. It is a little…West from here.”
Jim nodded. “I thought so. You don’t sound like a local. Where are you staying?”
“Nowhere at present. I only just arrived in town.”
Jim fell silent as they both turned to the soup. Spock felt Jim’s eyes on him and when he looked over Jim smiled. “Good, yeah?”
“It is unexpectedly appealing.”
He laughed at that. “I’ll try not to be terribly insulted at your doubting my cooking. You’ve got a job?”
“No,” Spock admitted.
At that Jim shook his head. “No job and no place to stay? You’re running from some place, I’d say. Or someone. Are you in trouble, Spock?”
“My current circumstances necessitated coming here.”
The laugh again. “That’s about as vague a response as I’ve ever heard.” He picked up his cup of tea and eyed Spock over the rim of the cup. “I guess you can stay here for now. You have any weapons?”
“I do not.”
“I didn’t feel any when I helped you in the house,” Jim said with a nod. “All right, the bedroom across from the bathroom is yours for as long as you need it.”
“That is very generous of you, Mr. Kirk.”
“No such formality here. I’m just Jim. It would be nice if you could help around the house a bit when you get the chance. Dishes, a little cooking if you can, that kind of thing. I have a radio if you like to listen. And lots of books if you’re into reading. I’m afraid I don’t lead a very sophisticated life.”
“It is fine.”
The thing about this Jim is he should never have been a victim. He did not live dangerously. At all. Spock had researched him so he knew everything there was to know about this Jim before this point. And he also knew everything there was to know about him if history had not been changed and he’d been murdered.
He was not, as crime experts would say, a high risk individual. In fact, quite the opposite. In approximately two years, he should meet a woman named Sadie Carstairs, who would eventually become Sadie Kirk. Jim and Sadie Kirk had five children. Sadie died at the age of seventy-nine. Jim outlived her by six years and died in his eighties.
Or he had until the Marconians had changed everything.
It was Spock’s sworn duty to change it back. To make sure that the Jim Kirk sitting across from him, looking every bit like his captain, except for the darker blue eyes and the height difference, lived to fall in love with Sadie Carstairs.
And not Spock.
Of course not.