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“So, what happens now?”

Jim Kirk had been wondering the same thing before his friend, Leonard “Bones” McCoy had spoken the question he both wanted the answer to and dreaded.

What happens now?

“That depends on him,” he said slowly.

Currently he and Bones were seated in a San Francisco coffee shop having breakfast. He was absurdly grateful there was still San Francisco and Earth to be able to have that breakfast. It had been a near thing. More near than he cared to admit.

The loss of Decker was keenly felt, as it had been when Will’s father had died so many years ago.  And all the others who died because of V’ger.

“And you have nothing to say about it?” Bones demanded.

“I have a lot to say. But I can’t make him…stay.” He’d been about to say that he couldn’t make Spock love him. Anymore than he ever could. But it was something he didn’t need to say to Bones. His friend knew. “I couldn’t stop him from leaving before.”

“Did you even try?”

The waitress arrived then, bringing their plates of food. Jim smiled at her as she set a plate of chicken fried steak and eggs along with fried potatoes and biscuits down in front of him. Bones got pancakes and fruit. He was giving Jim the side-eye, which he did his best to ignore. He was hungry, damn it, and surely after everything, he deserved it.

“Of course I tried,” Jim answered after the waitress walked away. “Did I beg? No.”

“Jim…ah, never mind.” Bones stabbed into his pancakes. “Are they taking away the ship?”

He didn’t say again. Didn’t need to, really.

Jim smiled faintly. “Generally those of my rank don’t get to command a starship any longer.”

“So you’d have to give up the admiral title, is that it?” Bones shook his head, curling his lip in disgust.

He shrugged. “The gist of it, yes.”

“Bastards.”

“They want those younger than us, Bones. You know how it is.”

“Damn bullshit is what it is.”

Jim smiled faintly and looked out the dirty pane window.

“Is he staying in Starfleet?”

Jim was weary, he really was, and part of him wanted to tell Bones to just let it go, because when Bones got going on something he was like a dog with a…well a bone. But he didn’t really feel like snapping at his friend. Not about this.

“I think so. Maybe. Something about training cadets on the Kobayashi Maru.”

“And he’s just…what? Going to ignore what’s between you?”

He shrugged. Mostly because he really didn’t know the answer to that himself. He was waiting for Spock to make the next move, and yes, that was likely the wrong decision on Jim’s part. But he’d never wanted to put pressure on Spock. Not about this. Spock needed to choose to be with Jim with his own free will not because he felt some sort of obligation to be loyal to Jim or make him happy. Something like that.

And so, with or without Bones’ approval, he would let the decision come from Spock. Or not. It could be that Spock would simply let things stand as they now were. And Jim would accept that.

After breakfast, he and Bones went their separate ways for the day. Bones muttered something about meeting Christine Chapel later. He’d invited Jim, if he wanted to come along, but he’d begged off.

Instead he headed to HQ for a bit, got a few meetings he’d been putting off finished, and then he went home to his apartment a few streets down from HQ.

He’d walked, of course, his thoughts on Bones’ advice that he needed to get more exercise, and it really wasn’t far at all. 

The afternoon had turned much chillier and windier than it had been that morning. Jim hadn’t bothered with a coat when he left and now he was sorry as the cold wind seemed to cut right through his thin long-sleeved shirt. He glanced up at the sky and noted the darkening clouds swirling in toward the city. There’d be rain later, maybe even thunder, a rare thing, though not completely unheard of.

His apartment was on the fifth floor and overlooked a good portion of Golden Gate Park. He paused at the lift, thinking to ride it up to the fifth floor, but then Bones’ craggy and grumpy face came to mind and he bypassed the lift for the stairs.

Jim was in no mood to go out again so he suspected that once he was inside he was in for the night. He had more meetings scheduled in the morning but nothing important at all the rest of this day, and so as he walked up the stairs to the fifth floor, he plotted what he would do for the day’s remaining hours.

His apartment was entered through facial recognition and soon after it scanned his face, the door popped open.

It felt good to be home even though his apartment was empty and quiet.

Still for a moment Jim just stood in the center of his apartment and did nothing. Was he wrong not to fight for Spock? And was that what he would be doing?

At the end of their five-year mission, Spock had spoken of his intentions to live on Vulcan, to become fully Vulcan, in all ways. Jim, who had intended to vocalize his romantic feelings for Spock after all this time, had closed his mouth and his heart, and supported Spock in his decision as he always did and always would.

So, no, Jim would not fight for Spock. Spock’s choices in his life were his own and Jim would not interfere.

****

Mid-afternoon, just after the rain Jim predicted would come had started, Jim stopped reading a book he had chosen to indulge in because he was hungry. He was in the kitchen making himself a sandwich when the doorbell of his apartment rang. Filled with curiosity, Jim went to the door and opened it.   

“Spock,” he whispered, both surprised and filled with a strange trepidation.  

The Vulcan was wearing all black, a particularly good luck on him, and he was faintly damp, no doubt from being out in the rain.

“Admiral.” And then Spock seemed to hesitate. “Jim. May I come in?”

“Of course.” Jim stepped aside to let Spock into his apartment. He closed the door and turned to Spock with a welcoming smile. “It’s good to see you. Would you like a towel or something to dry off?”

“Perhaps.”

Jim moved away to the hallway of his lodging and to a linen closet where he withdrew a big fluffy towel in navy that had been a housewarming gift from Bones, ever thoughtful. He brought it out and handed it to Spock, who dabbed at himself with it.

Jim watched him for a moment, always struck by Spock’s elegant, effortless motions. “I was making myself a sandwich. You want anything?”

“Not at present, no.”

Jim nodded. “Mind if I eat? I’m really hungry.”

“Not at all. Proceed.”

He was almost as stiff and unyielding as he’d been when he’d shown up on the Enterprise surprising the hell out of Jim. He’d been glad, of course. Seeing Spock was always a good thing to him.

Jim went into the kitchen for his sandwich and was surprised when Spock followed and stood on the edge of the kitchen.

“Something on your mind?”

“There is.” Spock turned to the dining room table. “If we may sit?”

“Sure.” Jim brought his sandwich to the table and sat down, looking expectantly at Spock when he too took a seat. “Am I going to hate this?” He gave Spock what he hoped was an encouraging smile even though his heart sank. “Are you going back to Vulcan?”

“In many ways that is up to you,” Spock replied. “But the simplest answer, at present, is that is not my intention.”

“Meaning?”

Spock gestured toward Jim’s sandwich. “I do not intend to prevent the consumption of your meal.”

Jim took a bite then, chewing thoughtfully, ready to demand Spock just get on with it. Was he going through with the Kolinahr? Had he secured himself another bondmate to replace T’Pring?

“I find myself in anticipation of your answer.”

“My answer? Spock. To what?”

“Jim, one of the reasons I was unable to successfully complete Kolinahr as I intended upon my departure of your company, in fact the main reason, was you.”

Jim never made assumptions about anything and he wasn’t about to now. “How so?”

“My feelings of friendship and brotherly companionship run very deep where you are concerned.”

Jim smiled and nodded. “It’s the same for me, Spock.”

Spock blew out a breath, surprising Jim, for it seemed altogether very human. “I find you a worthier companion than anyone I know.”

“I’m flattered, Spock.” And he was. Spock chose his friends very carefully, of that Jim was aware, and that he placed such importance on Jim, well, it made Jim happy.  

At this Spock shook his head. “It is not my intention to instill flattery in this instance. What I wish to convey is that I consider you to be the most important person in my life.”

Heart fluttering, Jim could only nod. There was some significance in that.

“On some level I have always known this to be the case but as you are aware I was not comfortable with these considerations.”

When he did not continue, Jim prodded, “And now?”

“I have no desire to delay things further nor put anymore hindrances between us.”

Jim took a moment before saying, rather slowly, “So, what you’re saying here, Spock, is that your feelings run deeper than typical friendship where I am concerned?”

And Jim hoped that he had not got that wrong.

“Indeed.”

“They are not the same as your friendship feelings for, say, Bones.”

“Definitely not. Though I have come, over the years, to appreciate Doctor McCoy more than I anticipated would be likely, I do not hold him in the same regard.”

“Regard.”

Spock nodded. “The purpose of my visit is to learn if you share that regard.”

Jim put his sandwich down. “Spock.”

“Jim.”

“Are you saying you…love me?”

“In human standard terms, I would say the answer is in the affirmative.” Spock hesitated. “Do you share my feelings?”

He laughed at that. Because honestly, didn’t everyone know?

“Yes, Spock. I feel the same. I’m in love with you in human standard terms, Vulcan terms, hell, Klingon terms. Whatever terms you want. Yes.”

Spock, of course, did not suddenly rise from the chair with an excited whoop, this was still Spock, but he did extend the index and middle fingers of his right hand toward Jim. Jim, having seen Spock’s parents do this very thing, met Spock’s fingers with his own.

There was the usual warmth Jim enjoyed when touching Spock, which spread all the way to him and straight to his heart.

“Spock, will you marry me?”

Later, after Spock accepted, and indicated he wished to bond with Jim, Jim accepting that, they stood by the windows overlooking the city, watching the rain.

They did not stand in an embrace or even with arms around each other. Jim was always conscience of giving Spock the space he needed and being respectful of Spock’s Vulcan side. But they stood close, closer than Spock ever stood next to anyone but Jim, and that, of course, had always been the case.

“I love the rain,” Jim said after a while. “I’m not even sure why.”

“We do not get a lot of it on Vulcan,” Spock replied. “And of course it is much cooler here.”

And maybe Jim should feel shame or disappointment in talking about the weather with Spock, but he would talk about anything and everything with Spock, no topic, no conversation, however lame it appeared to others, was off limits.

He turned then to Spock with a smile. “I really want to make love to you.”

Spock put his hand in Jim’s and they went to the bedroom, no longer just Jim’s bedroom, he figured, but theirs. Their bedroom.

****

It was much later, that night, when they lay naked together in Jim’s bed. They’d spent quite a bit of time engaging in human kissing as well as Vulcan, hands eagerly stroking over heated flesh. After significant preparation, for Jim had no desire to hurt Spock, he’d joined their bodies even as Spock had joined their minds.

Long after they’d been sated, three times, they laid awake talking of future plans. A wedding to be arranged and a bonding ceremony on Vulcan. For Jim would be the bondmate that T’Pring could never have been.

They talked about telling Bones and everyone else. Spock suspected that none of them would be surprised. Jim guessed he was right.

Jim yawned at last. “Should probably get up and shower. We’re kind of covered in sex.”

“I have no real desire to move,” Spock replied.

“Yeah, I don’t either. But we’re kind of sticky and crusty.” He laughed. He reached for Spock’s hand and took it, bringing it up to hold against his heart. “Thank you.”

“For what, Jim?”

He shook his head. “I never thought…I just didn’t expect this.”

“If V’ger had never happened, I am unsure we would have ever had this,” Spock admitted. “I considered my emotional response to you a weakness I dared not indulge in.”

“I know,” Jim said softly. “And I never intended to push you on that. It’s always had to be your decision, Spock. Right or wrong, I don’t regret that.”

“We will have the rest of our lives together now, Jim.”

He thought about asking Spock the where’s and the why’s and the how come’s. Most importantly when? But such things amounted to little more than speculation and maybe even hurt feelings and needless regret. What happened before them, before this, what did it matter anyway?

Jim smiled. Leaned over and kissed his former first officer and soon-to-be husband.

Perhaps they could have been together before this had he spoken up and perhaps not. They’d never know.

But now? They had now. And Jim’s heart was glad.

He cupped Spock’s face, feeling renewed arousal spring up between them. A shower would wait. They had to make up for lost years, after all.

Whatever the future would be, they would face it together, side by side, as they always had and always would.