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He That Robs Himself

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Jim knows that there's something very wrong with him the moment that the words appear. They appear for him like they do for every ten-year-old child destined to live long enough to meet the two most important people in their lives. The name that appears above his heart is that of his soulmate, and the name that appears on the inside of his left forearm is that of the person who will kill him.

Some have one, or neither. A girl in Jim's grade has only the soulmate mark, and those are the lucky ones. They're the ones who meet their soulmate and die of old age, or a virus, or something else natural. There's no murder, or poisoning, or hit-and-run in their futures. Everyone wants to be like them.

Sam has a boy in his grade with just a name on his forearm, and another kid in his grade had neither. The second kid tripped and fell into the old stone quarry the summer before last. Those are the ones who are pitied, those who will die before meeting their soulmate or whose soulmates will die before meeting them.

Jim doesn't think that a situation like his has ever occurred, though.

"Frank," he says, walking downstairs on legs that shake just a little. He has his shirt in his hands, clutched tight in worried fists.

Frank, lounging on the couch, grunts in response. He'd be working outside, but there's a snowstorm so he's inside watching the television while wind whips and rages beyond the walls of their house.

"Frank," Jim repeats, a little more forcefully.

Frank finally looks over and snaps, "What?" but Jim doesn't respond because he sees the moment that Frank understands. His watery blue eyes widen and his mouth drops open. His face is flushed from alcohol, but Jim thinks he sees it pale a little.

"What do I do?" Jim asks.

"Fuck, kid," Frank says, sounding almost sympathetic. "I dunno."

Jim doesn't know either. Maybe he'll ask one of his teachers tomorrow what the hell he supposed to do when the names are the same. It's not two different people, because the handwriting is identical, but Jim just doesn't know what to do with himself.

He retreats to his room and traces the name on his arm, then his chest, then his arm again. This pattern repeats until Jim could trace the name perfectly while blindfolded, until he can see the name when he closes his eyes, now printed on the inside of his eyelids.

Spock .

Jim wonders how it'll happen.

 

 

Frank continues to be an ass to Jim, although less so now that Jim belongs to a pitied population. Sam almost leaves home, but Jim decides otherwise. It's a difficult debate, with lots of screaming, but eventually Jim emerges the victor.

Sam stays. So does their father's antique car, and so does Jim.

 

 

Jim very quickly masters the art of never taking his shirt off, ever. The kids at school think it's sort of cool— “Damn, you're gonna get killed by a Romulan or something? Sick." Jim laughs and agrees with them, says it'll be blaze-of-glory style, he's sure of it, but he's overly conscious of the name on his chest all the while.

There are some who ask about the name on his chest— if he's being honest, far more than some; soulmate marks are hot gossip— and Jim always tries to brush the questions off to the best of his ability. The questions keep coming though. It's not normal for someone to hide their soulmate mark unless they don't have one, and so soon enough Jim's secrecy is even more popular than the relationship between newly-minted soulmates Jenna and Arthur.

So Jim just... stops going to school. The education officials throw a fit, but Jim studies at home on his own and passes all of the tests that he needs to take with flying colors. There's nothing much that can be done after that, because he's learning what he needs to learn, and so Jim escapes the questions about his soulmate and teaches himself everything he needs to know and then some.

He finds company in books. He becomes really interested in Shakespeare, particularly the tragedies. Othello fascinates  him, the concept of a good man who truly loves his wife being manipulated to the point where he would murder the woman he loves more than anything. He wonders throughout the entire scene of Desdemona and Othello's deaths whether or not his death will resemble either of theirs at all.

He really hopes not.

 

 

Jim's just come back from the quarry one day at the age of fourteen when the tone in the news reporter's voice stops him dead in his tracks in the entry hall. He backs up and then enters the living room, where the television is on but there's no one there.

There'd been a virus that infected the grain on a little, fairly backwater colony. Tarsus IV, it had been called. Of the initial population of about 8,000 people, only about 4,000 have survived. There was use of eugenics, the reporter claims, but so far no evidence had been found, partially because the governor's mansion had been burned and the governor killed.

"Frank," Jim calls. Frank's in the kitchen, he knows, because he can hear the rattling of utensils. "Frank, holy shit, you have to see this."

"What?" Frank snaps, but comes into the living room, wiping his hands down with a towel. Jim rewinds it and lets it play again, watches Frank turn green.

"Sweet fuck," Frank mutters when the report's over.

"Yeah." Jim shakes his head. "The court system around here- it sometimes offers kids the option between correctional facilities on colony planets and juvie. They've sent kids to Tarsus before."

"How the hell'd you know that?" Frank asks.

"Got bored a couple weeks ago, did some research on random shit. Did you know that Xora's oceans— well, that's what they call them, anyways— are never more than a mile deep? Most of the planet is like those Caribbean beaches from postcards, with hundreds of feet of water before you even get up to your waist."

Frank just shakes his head and walks away.

Jim, though, stays and listens. He watches the names of deceased colony citizens roll across the bottom of the screen, reads their names with an ever-increasing sense of horror because the names go on and on and they don't repeat. Tiffany Moulds, Kylie Hussey, Ryth Ch'azyvas, Poshia Sh'etaalol, Atessas Zh'vosros, Tiv Th'zitross, Julie Leighton, Marcus Leighton, Thomas Leighton, Dintin Var...

It takes hours to replay. Jim sits there the whole time, trying to pay some sort of tribute in the only way that he can.

 

 

"Jesus, Jimmy," Sam says over the vid screen. He's off at college, studying biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California, but his scorn is so great that Jim can feel the weight of it through the screen, like Sam's back in the house. "You're not going to college? With your brain?"

Jim shrugs. "What, like I'd be challenged there, either?"

"You might be." Sam raises his eyebrows at Jim in a slightly condescending, very older-brother manner. "You never know."

"Yeah, yeah." Jim glances at the old-fashioned clock that still hangs in their house. "Listen, man, it's been great talking to you, but I've gotta go. I'll be late for work."

"You could do better, Jim," Sam says just before Jim cuts their communication.

Jim thinks of the tattoo he got a couple of months ago that runs from his wrist to his elbow. It's an inky expanse dotted with little stars and planets that he can pass off as a tribute to his father. If it happens to completely cover one of his soulmarks, then oh well.

Jim groans and stands, cracking his neck to relieve some of the tension and hopefully hold off the headache that he can feel beginning to form. His leather jacket is draped over the back of his chair; he grabs it and shrugs it on, thinking all the whole of Sam's parting words.

He could do better, sure. He could go to college, to Starfleet, anywhere. He's smart enough that there's nothing stopping him. Any college would absolutely take advantage of the chance to scoop him up. He's sure that college wouldn't be hard, either, and it would get him a better paying job.

But the name under his tattoo stops him every time. College and Starfleet would mean new people, and new people could mean his soulmate, his killer.

So, no. He's fine where he is.

 

 

He should be used to it by now, after years as a mechanic, but it's still annoying that he has to shower before going anywhere after work. So here he is, now, freshly showered and ready to try and pick up a girl. He's luckier on nights like these, when the bar is flooded with non-residents, with people he doesn't know.

There's a regal, dark-skinned girl in the red uniform of a Starfleet cadet sitting at the bar, and she looks like she might be a little wild in the sheets. He grins and sidles up next to her at the bar.

"Hey," he says, flashing his most charming smile. "I'm Jim. What's your name?"

"None of your business," she tells him, arching an eyebrow, but he can tell that she's amused.

"I'd like to make it my business, if you don't mind." He winks at her and she rolls her eyes, but still her lips are curling at the corners.

"Is this town hick bothering you, miss?" interrupts a bulky cadet, so clearly full of himself in that uniform. Jim hates people like him.

"Oh, beyond belief. But it's nothing I can't handle."

"Yeah," Jim says, turning to grin at the guy. "So bump off, moon pie."

"Hey," the guy barks, stepping way into Jim's personal space. "Who do you think you're talking to? I'm a future Starfleet officer."

"So?" Jim asks, spinning his barstool around to give the soon-to-be cadet an unimpressed look. He just wants this dude to go away so he can hopefully get the seducing back on track. "What're you going to do about it?"

Just a few minutes later, Jim's laying on the slightly sticky bar floor, covered in beer from the bottle that was smashed over his head. His nose is bleeding, too, and he tips his head back to peer at the person approaching him. The bar is cleared out now, so it can only be the dude with the really, really loud whistle and the authority to drive a bunch of cadets from the bar.

"Damn," he says. "You whistle really loud."

"Get off of the floor, Kirk," the man says. He's got salt-and-pepper hair and wears a gray formal Starfleet uniform. It looks uncomfortable.

Jim struggles to his feet and drops hard into a chair, accepting the tissue handed to him by one of the bar staff with a grunt that's supposed to mean 'thank you.' He holds it to his nose and squints at the man who has taken a seat across from him.

"How do you know me?" Jim asks.

"I wrote my dissertation on the Kelvin," the man says. "And I've had the... fortune... of meeting your mother on multiple occasions."

"She's a hell of a woman," Jim says. He sniffs and grimaces at the uncomfortably slick slide of blood down his throat.

"What are you doing here?" the man asks.

"I'd like to know your name before I answer that."

"I'm Captain Christopher Pike."

"Alright, Captain Christopher Pike. I'm here because this is my hometown."

"Eugh, no, call me Captain Pike or call me Chris. And you know that that's not what I meant."

"Then what did you mean?" Jim asks contrarily.

"What are you doing here?" Captain Pike gestures to the bar. "In a dive bar in the middle of nowhere?"

"Hey, now," Jim says. "That's my home you're insulting."

"You could be better than this," Captain Pike tells him. "You could be a captain, if you wanted to be. You could have your own starship, your own crew."

"Why would I want that?" Jim challenges him.

"Because you're meant for something greater than this, and we both know it." Captain Pike raises his eyebrows at Jim. "You can feel it. I know you can. You could be the greatest captain of the century; you've got that drive, that capability. Don't deny the galaxy something so legendary."

Fuck if Jim doesn't want it more than anything, what Captain Pike's offering. To be a captain, to show that he's more than his father's legacy... He does have that drive. He's always had it, has been wary of it since he was ten.

"What if I don't feel like it?" Jim raises his own eyebrows in return. "What if I enjoy being a mechanic?"

"You might enjoy being a mechanic," Captain Pike admits. "But do you love it enough to spend the rest of your life fixing old vehicles? Will it take you anywhere, let you meet new cultures, new life, new civilizations?"

Jim stays silent.

"Think about it. The shuttle leaves tomorrow morning." Captain Pike stands from his chair and moves towards the door, but pauses just before leaving. He turns back to Jim, still soaked in beer and holding a bloody tissue to his nose, and says, "Your father was captain of a vessel for twelve minutes, and in those minutes, he saved eight hundred lives. I dare you to do better."

The door shuts softly behind him, like he was a ghost, like he was never there. Jim looks around at the almost bar, empty except for the bar staff who are giving him dirty looks. He looks back at the door and gives Captain Pike a couple of seconds to get just a little more gone before he stands on slightly shaky legs and leaves the building himself.

Maybe it's time to stop being wary of the name on his body and let destiny run its course.

 

 

There's only one other person on the shuttle not in some sort of uniform. Jim likes him immediately and takes one of the empty seats on either side of the man. His hair is dark brown and a complete mess, and his eyes are squeezed shut. His hands tremble where they're gripping the armrests so hard that the knuckles have turned white.

They haven't even taken off yet, won't for another ten minutes, so his behavior is more than a little odd. Jim looks carefully at him, at the thick stubble coating his chin and the rhythmic clenching of his jaw. He supposes the man is attractive enough, but he looks like he's had a rough time of it.

"Dude," Jim says, his voice just a little awed by the man's whole demeanor. "You know that this isn't the shuttle to Aviophobes Anonymous, right?"

"Ha-fucking-ha," the man barks, not moving at all except to maybe crease his face into an even fiercer scowl, if that's at all possible. He's got a Southern accent, which surprises Jim for no discernible reason.

"You're signing up for Starfleet?" Jim asks incredulously.

"Says the kid who reeks of booze."

"Hey, now, that's not fair. I didn't even have anything to drink last night. I just had a bottle smashed over my head."

That gets the man's eyes to open, just a tad. He glances at Jim.

"Fight?"

"Mhmm."

This seems to cut through the man's anxiety, and it's like a switch has been flipped. He straightens up and lets go of the armrests to grab Jim's face, twisting it this way and that.

"Any dizziness? Nausea?"

"I mean, a little-" The man, who's apparently a doctor, presses on the bump left by the bottle and Jim hisses.

"Did you get hit anywhere else?"

"Not with a beer bottle, no. I got hit in the stomach and sides pretty good, and I got hit in the nose."

The man moves his hand towards Jim's nose, and he jerks back out of reach. The man seems peeved by this, which Jim supposes is fairly reasonable.

"Before I let you play with my nose all the live-long day, what's your name?"

"McCoy. Leonard McCoy." The man scowls, his eyes darkening. "But my name's all I got left, now. The ex-wife took all but my bones in the divorce."

Bones , Jim thinks. Yeah, that fits.

"Jim Kirk," Jim says with a nod. "Nice to meet you, Bones."

 

 

Jim and Bones become good friends, although Bones is just a tad bit too angry and depressing for Jim's taste. He ends up with a surprising amount of casual friends and a few good friends, something he hasn't had in a while. He's closest with Gaila, Bones, and even Nyota, who manages to get over her first impression of him.

"Tell me," Nyota says one day, out of the blue, "why did you come to Starfleet?"

They're sitting in her room, which she shares with Gaila, but Gaila is still in a class so it's just him and Nyota, who is sitting at her desk and painting her toenails a deep ruby red. Jim is sprawled across Gaila's bed, his head hanging off of the end of it as he watches her.

Jim thinks of the fear he's always carried— and still does, to an extent— of the name on his arm and chest. He thinks of stagnancy, of dares, of legacies.

"I got bored," he tells her.

"Hmm."

"Why are you painting your toenails?" Jim asks. "It's not like we'll be sunbathing on the beach any time soon; it's December."

"It makes me feel a little more confident," Nyota says, scowling and blushing but continuing her toenail painting with sure strokes. "Don't judge, you ass."

"I'm not judging!" Jim rolls onto his stomach, his head spinning with the movement. "Why do you need to feel more confident?"

"I have a meeting with one of my professors tomorrow." She sounds a little shy, almost, which is most unlike her. "He's scary and attractive and I need some confidence."

"Who are you meeting with?" Jim asks. He tries to keep his tone casual, but he's desperate to know who this professor is that gets Nyota hot and bothered, because he'll be able to use this to make fun of her for ages.

"Professor Spock."

The response to her words is physical more than it is mental. Jim's inside freeze, but his skin seems to flare with heat. He sucks in a large breath, trying to be subtle about the fact that he’s quite literally forgotten to breathe for a few seconds. His head spins despite the fact that's he's taking in oxygen, like he's just gotten off of one of those old tilt-a-whirl carnival rides.

Could it be that he's really this close to his soulmate so soon?

"...Spock?" Jim repeats. His ears are ringing.

"Yeah, professor Spock. He's my Vulcan teacher. He also teaches some science and computer programming courses. Gaila has him, too."

"Oh," Jim says, his mouth dry. The name under his tattoo feels like it's burning, like if he looked then he would see the name emerging in a quest for vengeance from the ink he once covered it with. "That's cool."

She looks up from her nails and gives him an odd look. After a second, she caps her nail polish and sets in on her desk before turning back to him with a real, fully scrutinizing squint.

"What?" she demands.

"I- That's my soulmate's name. Spock. Do you think-?"

Her mouth drops open as she gawks at him. Jim shifts uncomfortably.

"You're kidding."

"I'm not."

"We'll have to get you near him someday, have you interact and see if your mark burns."

Nyota then proceeds to completely forget about knowing that Jim's soulmate mark is the name of the professor she's crushing on, but Jim doesn't mind. He's not sure he's quite ready to meet Spock anyways, whether the professor is his soulmate or just another Vulcan with that same name.

 

 

It's not until their second year at the Academy, during which Jim and Bones share a room, that Jim sees Bones with his shirt off. Neither of them are particularly shy about their bodies, and so one day soon after the beginning of the year Jim looks up from warp physics homework to see Bones exiting the bathroom, newly showered.

His hair is sticking up all over the place after having been roughly rubbed dry, and the towel draped around his waist slips just a bit lower with every step. He's attractive, sure, but Jim's more captivated by the area over his heart than the trail of hair disappearing under the towel.

"Oh," Jim vocalizes before he can stop it.

Bones looks up over at Jim, his face bland, and asks, "What?"

"Your, uh, your soulmate mark. Or... your not-soulmate mark."

Bones looks down at his chest, free of any sort of markings. "Oh, yeah." He gives Jim an odd look. "Well, I figured that you knew that I didn't have one. People with soulmate marks don't normally go through hellish divorces."

"I had a concussion," Jim protests. "You can't blame me."

"I can blame you for not realizing afterwards."

"Yeah, I guess so," Jim concedes.

"What's up with your arm tattoo?" Bones asks, nodding at Jim's arm. "I mean, if we're talkin' about marks..."

Jim looks down at his left forearm, at the inked expanse that sprawls from his wrist to his elbow. Nobody else can see the name, but Jim could still trace his fingers directly over the letters of Spock's name without looking.

"It's-" Jim shrugs. "I suppose I don't want to broadcast to the person that's going to kill me that they're gonna kill me, you know?"

"Yeah, I guess."

"You don't have a name on your arm," Jim points out, curious. "Do you think you're going to be the one to die first?"

"I haven't really thought too much about it," Bones admits. "I hope not, but now that I'm in Starfleet, probably. I just hope it's not something bloody or gory, like xenopolycymegthia or Andorian shingles.

"Why not?" Jim laughs. "Live fast, die young, yeah?"

"Maybe that's your aspiration." Bones shakes his head. "Mine is to die on a farm in Georgia at 112, but currently it's to get dressed, so if you could just-"

"Oh, yeah, sure." Jim spins around to face his desk again. "Hey, did you know that a surprising amount of next year's senior class doesn't have soulmarks? Weird, right?"

 

 

"So what are our plans for after the Academy?" Jim asks one Friday evening late in second year. "Are we all going to sign up to be members of my badass crew?"

"Only if I can be CEO," Gaila says sweetly, knocking back a shot of Denobulan fire whiskey like it's water.

"And only if I can be CCO," Nyota says as she swirls her straw through the neon slush in her glass that somehow passes as an alcoholic drink.

"Done and done." Jim turns to Bones, nursing a glass of bourbon. "Bones?"

"You ain't getting me on a starship, Jim," Bones says, shaking his head. "No way."

"Bones, we're in Starfleet," Jim wheedles. "What do you mean you won't get on a spaceship? Think of all of the new discoveries that we could make!"

"The new diseases, the new ways to die..." Bones scowls and shakes his head. "Not happening. I'm staying Earthside, thank you very much, where maybe if Jocelyn is feeling gracious I can see my baby girl once a year."

Jim remembers their first meeting on the shuttle, how tightly Bones had gripped the armrests of his seat, and thinks that maybe it's something a little more than custody keeping Bones grounded. It's not Jim's place to intervene, though, and he knows it. Besides, Bones' temper can be surprisingly fierce at times, and he doesn't want to tempt it.

Jim sighs theatrically and says, "Fine, but you'll be missing out."

"Missing out on unknown space diseases?" Bones nods. "Sign me up for that."

"You'll be missing out on discovering new life, new civilizations! I can't believe you'd pass that up."

"Well, I didn't pass my shuttle license class with a high enough grade to become a senior officer, so I couldn't possibly be your CMO even if you wanted me to." Bones takes a large swallow of his drink.

"You didn't reach the senior officer requirement?" Jim himself had passed with flying colors, but he'd never had any fear of shuttles. "Oh. That does throw a wrench in my plan."

"So make a new one that doesn’t involve me being stuck on some flying tin can."

"Don't insult his future ship like that, Len!" Gaila admonishes, whacking his upper arm with the back of her hand.

Bones rolls his eyes and takes another swallow of his drink, but there's a hint of a smile tugging at his lips as he does. Nyota, sitting next to Jim, sets her empty glass down in front of him.

"I'm stuck on the inside of the booth," she tells him plainly. "Go get me a refill."

"What am I, your slave?" Jim asks, but he grabs her empty glass and slides out of the booth that the four of them are sitting in.

"Hey, Kirk," the bartender says with a leering smile. "Didn't know you were into those types of drinks."

"I'm not. I'm just the servant for tonight, I guess. One Betazoid Blitz, please."

"Coming right up."

Jim loiters at the bar for only a minute before Nyota's drink is handed over to him, and then he has to navigate through the growing crowd without spilling the drink all over some unfortunate soul. The bar is getting busier as the night goes on, and the four of them will probably leave and go hang out in Gaila and Nyota's room soon.

"Thank you, sirrah," Nyota says primly when he sets her drink down in front of her.

"Sirrah?" Jim demands. "Sirrah? More like sir-fuck you."

Nyota bursts out laughing and covers her face with her hands, her shoulders jerking. If Jim didn't know any better, he might think that her mirth is not mirth, but tears instead.

"Linguists," Bones mutters to Gaila. "What the hell does sirrah mean?"

"Don't ask me," she tells him. "Standard isn't even my first language."

"I'm not a linguist, Bones," Jim reminds him.

"Maybe not, but your head's stuffed full of enough useless knowledge and knowledge of languages that you could probably become one if you just took one more class."

"I take great offense to that," Nyota says. "Methinks that command track cadets should stick to command track courses."

"Methinks that the lady is dry," Jim comments.

"Not with this drink in me, I'm not."

Jim tosses his hands up into the air. "Does no one read Shakespeare anymore?"

"I read Twelfth Night once in my sophomore year, if that's what you're referring to," Nyota says as she takes a long drink of her Betazoid Blitz.

"Uncultured," Jim mutters, shaking his head. "All of you, uncultured."

 

 

Jim decides on one rainy Tuesday that it would be an excellent idea if he were to meet Gaila after her computer programming class. Normally they meet at a restaurant for lunch afterwards, but Jim's class has let out early and he doesn't feel like sitting at an empty table for however long it'll take for her to get her green butt all the way there.

In the hallway, he leans with his back pressed against the wall next to the door and one ankle crossed over the other. He peers out at the overcast sky, a heavy gray blanket that sits atop the whole city. Raindrops hover in beads on the window for a while before sliding down in a narrow stream, stopping and starting and stopping again. Jim watches them to amuse himself, making meaningless bets on which of two raindrops will make it down the window the fastest.

The class finally lets out, and Jim watches the flow of cadets as they rush from the classroom but he doesn't see the face he's looking for. It's kind of hard to miss, being bright green and all. Jim frowns and pushes himself off of the wall, then leans into the doorway so that he can see some of the classroom.

Ah, there are those green legs, up at the front of the room. She's speaking to the professor, presumably, but whoever she's talking to is outside of Jim's field of vision, limited by a doorframe and a wall.

She's not looking at him, so Jim decides to sneak down the stairs onto the floor of the small lecture-hall type classroom, each seat fitted with a state of the art computer monitor. He doesn't really see the teacher, he's so focused on Gaila, but just as he comes within a few feet of her she says, "Thank you, professor," which thankfully means that Jim doesn't have to loiter in the background of their conversation.

"Cadet," the professor says to her as a polite parting. Then to Jim, "May I help you, Cadet?"

Jim finally looks up at the professor, a Vulcan with black hair styled in the standard hideous bowl cut that he somehow makes attractive. His eyes are remarkably bright, though, despite being brown. Jim doesn't know how to describe it, but looking into those eyes he feels frozen, he feels complete, he feels like he doesn't need anything else in the world.

His marks are burning like laundry a little too fresh out of the dryer, like a dark porch chair on a summer day, like cookies that haven't been allowed to cool quite long enough.

"Oh," Jim breathes.

"Would..." The Vulcan professor, Spock , closes his mouth for a second before opening it and trying again. "Would your name happen to be James, Cadet?"

"It would, yeah," Jim says, his voice sounding a little dumb even to his own ears. "Uh, would yours happen to be Spock?"

"It would."

"No," Gaila says, a mix between a gasp and an annoyed declaration. "No, Jimmy, you are not soulmates  with my computer science professor."

"I mean, uh..." Jim can't tear his eyes away from Spock's face, the awed shine of his eyes, the slight parting of his beautiful lips in shock. "Uh..."

"I have a class in twenty minutes that I must prepare for," Spock says abruptly, pulling his eyes from Jim's face, although his gaze flickers back again and again, as if he can't quite bring himself to not be looking at Jim. "If you were to give me your personal frequency, however, we could perhaps arrange another meeting."

"Yeah," Jim says, kicking himself as he speaks for not being more eloquent. "Yeah, of course, totally."

So this is the man who will kill him?

Jim ponders over that fact while Spock walks to his desk and grabs his PADD. Here's the man who will love him more than anything, the man who will end his life. It doesn't make sense; Vulcans are pacifists. In fact, that almost makes it worse, because he knows that it's going to have to be an accident. It's going to be unintentional.

It might just kill Spock, too.

"Here," Spock says, handing him the PADD. It's open to a new contact screen.

Jim takes the PADD and contemplates writing 'soulmate' with a heart emoji as his contact name. He dismisses the idea almost instantly, though, and writes a simple 'Jim' instead.

"So you'll text me?" Jim asks. "Considering I don't have your number."

"I will text you," Spock agrees. "Now if you will excuse me, I must hurry if I am to be on time."

"Yeah, of course." Jim gestures for the door. "Don't keep your students waiting."

Jim and Gaila watch silently as Spock gets all the way to the door before turning back around and offering a slightly stilted, "Have a good day."

"You too," Jim replies to an empty doorframe, and wonders if he's half in love already.