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A Story for the Grandchildren - How the Deninian Man Eater Got Us Together

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"What is this, the 7th," Jim paused, his eyebrows crinkling as he thought back to some of their other missions. "No, maybe the 8th planet we've stumbled upon, that insists on some of us getting married? It's a good thing Bones isn't down here with us or he'd have a conniption." Jim paused again, this time laughing. "Remember when we were at Fifiour VIII and he had to marry Pavel? Oh, that was priceless." Jim wiped a tear from his eye. "At least this time, you two are already together." From his left, he heard Uhura sigh.

"Yes, but it doesn't make it any less awkward, Captain." Jim just shrugged, not really seeing his communication officer's logic. Looking to Spock, the Vulcan's face was as blank as ever. They were just under two years into their five year mission and Spock and Nyota seemed to still be going strong so Jim didn't see the problem with them tying the knot. Sure it was at the behest of the Deninian High Priestess but still. Jim could imagine what it would be like, to be married to Spock, to go to bed together every night and wake side by side the next morning. He could imagine smiling as the bed dipped to accommodate Spock's weight as he shifted closer to kiss Jim good morning.

Stopping suddenly, so that Uhura bumped into him, Jim forced himself to think of other things. He smiled apologetically at her glare. Then Uhura cut in front of Jim to walk closer to Spock. This time Jim sighed. So he had a tiny crush on his first officer… ok a major crush, a crush large enough it could block out the sun but Jim tried to smother it, really he did. Spock was happy, or at least as happy as he allowed himself to be, with Nyota and Jim wouldn't do anything to ruin that. But he couldn't help how he felt, or how long he'd felt it. He'd been attracted to Spock at his disciplinary hearing but hadn't really started to pine for the Vulcan until four months into their mission. It was like a switch had gone off and suddenly he and Spock clicked. The majority of their stupid bickering they did ceased and the friendship that Ambassador Spock had hinted at started to emerge. They would have some meals together and get in the occasional chess game. And Jim fell hard.

Changing direction so that he wouldn't have to see how close the couple stood, Jim continued his trek through the dense trees. It wasn't a jungle nor was it a forest. But there were a lot of trees and underbrush to get through. He'd only take a few steps when Spock's velvety voice cut into him. "Captain, there is a 93.63% chance that deviating more than seven degrees in either direction," Jim turned his head in time to see Spock point to his left and right, "Will result in us getting lost. If that were to occur, while I am confident we could still find the Deninian Marriage Temple, we would not arrive by sunset thus halting all trade negotiations until another ship could arrive to take our place."

"Awe, Spock you know I love it when you talk about percents and degrees." Jim noticed Nyota frown and worried that maybe he didn't put enough teasing into his tone. "Besides, I have an awesome sense of direction."

"Says the man who nearly fell off a cliff on Phina II." Uhura rolled her eyes and Jim gave her the stink eye.

"You weren't even there Lieutenant." He stood a little straighter but mumbled, "I was just following the map and there was no cliff on the map."

Hearing him, Spock said, "You are mistaken. There was a cliff drawn on the map Captain, but like this trip, you insisted on walking thirty seven degrees off the path and thus put yourself in danger."

Jim just barely resisted the urge to stick his tongue out at his Communications and First Officer. "Fine, fine, Spock. Lead the way oh great map follower."

"Captain, you are aware I hold no map. Inctro dictated the directions to the temple instead of giving us one."

Sighing Jim responded, "I know Spock, I know. Never mind, let's just keep walking." Spock started to open his mouth, probably to tell him that their stop was his fault but Jim beat him to it. "Walk, Spock," he pointed past the half Vulcan, "No more talking, just walking. Let's go." He looked at Nyota to see if she had something to say but she wasn't even looking at him; instead her eyes were on the one she loved, the one Jim couldn't have, his brain traitorously reminded him. Sighing again, he forced his legs to move as Spock set the direction and pace.

Wiping sweat from his brow, Jim groaned at the heat. They had been walking for a total for four hours but it felt like so much longer. His shirt stuck to his back and he could feel his pants were damp behind his knees. Overall he was just uncomfortable and wanted to take a break. Stopping he watched to see how long it would take for Spock to realize he'd stopped. It was three long strides before his Vulcan officer stopped, breaking a twig under step, and turned to see what was holding up his captain. Spock raised one elegant brow in question, while Nyota, who had also stopped by this point, crossed her arms over her chest, looking just as hot and uncomfortable as Jim felt.

"Let's stop for a little bit. My feet are about to fall off."

"I highly doubt that Captain but a short break would be beneficial to all."

"Fabulous." Jim sighed happily and sat down right where he stood. He shifted so that he was leaning against the nearest tree and stretched his legs out in front of him. Uhura sat down as well while Spock just stood and looked at the two of them. "Come on Spock," Jim patted the ground next to him. "Pop a squat."

"I am fine Captain."

"Fine whatever." Jim muttered and tilted his head back so that it rested against the tree and closed his eyes. He could feel the heat of Denin's three suns on his face and briefly wondered how long it would take for him to get as red as a lobster. Opening his eyes just a peek, since the suns were shining right on him, he spotted Nyota and Spock who stood right by her. Even though he still wasn't sitting the minute distance between spoke volumes of how close they really were. Jim felt his heart clench in his chest. He wanted that intimacy and most of all he wanted it with Spock. He closed his eyes again just so he wouldn't have to see the happy couple.

Rustling to his left alerted him that something was nearby and he opened his eyes again to see Spock crouching next to him. "Captain, we should continue our journey to the temple." Hadn't they just sat down? Jim wondered. Gripping Spock's arm so that he could stand Jim asked, "Why are you so anxious to get to the temple? You really want to put a ring on Uhura's finger?" Spock said nothing as Jim got to his feet and belatedly Jim remembered the touch telepathy that Vulcan's were known for. He really hoped that Spock's uniform sleeve was enough of a buffer that his jealousy didn't leak through.

After Jim stood, he stretched and then Spock spoke, "I am not anxious Captain. I just want our journey to resume so that the trade negotiations can take place. I estimate that we have another 2.72 hours of traveling ahead of us and the first of the Deninian's suns will begin setting fifteen minutes after that so there is not much leeway considering the wedding has to take place in that fifteen minutes. And we do not know how long the wedding process will take place."

"Ok, I get the picture. Let's go." Jim started to walk away but instead of Spock leading as he had earlier he kept Jim's pace and stood at his shoulder. Ahead of them Nyota lead the way.

"So when we get back to the ship, should I sign off on you and the Lieutenant sharing quarters? We can move get you two moved into one of the suites reserved for visitors. And of course I'll give you both a few days for a honeymoon," Jim teased. "Maybe Scotty can design a crib or something for the cute quarter-Vulcan babies you guys will make."

"Jim." Spock saying his name caused Jim to be a little tongue-tied; he looked at Spock, his eyebrows raised in imitation to what he'd seen his First Officer do countless time. "Please stop." If anything the request forced Jim's eyebrows to crawl even higher into his hairline.

"Uh sure," is the last thing Jim says for the rest of their walk. Except the the sound of birds tweeting and branches being broken underfoot, the three of them walked in silence. But Jim noticed, even after his teasing, Spock still walked with him, and this makes him feel better, to know he didn't really offend his friend.

When they finally reach the temple hours later, Jim's legs feel like jelly and he is vowing to himself to spend more time in the gym. Fortunately there aren't many stairs to climb otherwise he might have just sent the happy couple on up without him. Inctro is at the center of the temple waiting for them and how she got there, Jim doesn't want to know.

For a temple, Jim found it to be quite bare. There were no ornaments or decorations to be found. Instead it was just a cavernous room with what looked to be like a large plant in the middle. Looking up to the top of the plant, Jim could see a large hole in the temple ceiling so that the upmost leaves could reach sunlight. It didn't look like a tree instead the stem looked more delicate like that of a flower. Inctro walked so that she stood next to the plant and put her hands on it. Then she turned to face her three guests and smiled. "You have perfect timing. If you," she gestured to Nyota and Spock, " Will stand right there," she then gestured to a dip in the flooring a few feet from the plant, "I will explain to you how we proceed with marriages here." Jim moved off to the side while Spock and Nyota went to the designated place. "You see, here on Denin, when a couple chooses to wed, they must come here and be deemed worthy of the chance to marry and create offspring."

"How are they deemed worthy?" Spock asked just a moment before Jim could voice the same question.

"They stand before the Mizpahqua." Inctro smiled at the stem of the plant and let her fingers pet it like one would do to a dog or cat. "The Mizpahqua will look at the couple and decide if they are truly meant to be."

"And what happens if they aren't?" Again Spock spoke before Jim got the chance to, although that wasn't the question he had in mind. He wanted to know why they let a plant decide for them but figured Spock's question was better. It wouldn't help anyone to insult the priestess.

"Well you shouldn't have to worry about that." Inctro smiled again. "You have been together for some time, correct?"

"Yes the Lieutenant and I have been close for two years. But that did not answer my question." But before Spock could voice any more concerns the Mizpahqua started to move. Move and shrink to be more precise. Quickly the plant that had stood over twenty feet tall shrunk down until it was the same height as Inctro, just over five feet. Then the plant tilted forward so that Jim could see a beautiful yellow flower in the center of it's green leaves. The plant continued lean forward until it was at almost a ninety degree angle and the yellow flower seemed to lean even further forward and… did it just sniff his first officer? Before Jim could ponder that particular question more a high pitched screech had him covering his ears in pain. Then before his eyes the Mizpahqua grew again, although not to it's original size, and the yellow flower that had been so beautiful seconds before, grew large, sharp looking teeth. The plant lunged forward, directly at Nyota but Jim, just a fraction faster, knocked her out of the way. Feeling the blood drain out of his face, he looked directly at the teeth, waiting for them to bite him. But instead the plant sniffed at him and backed away. Letting out the breath he didn't realize he'd been holding, Jim sat down on the temple floor.

"What the hell just happened?" He questioned loudly, his voice echoing off the walls.

"The Mizpahqua just married you." Inctro hadn't moved from her spot next to the plant which was now back to it's true height. "In my 86 years as High Priestess, I have never seen two males marry. But the Mizpahqua deemed you worthy, so come we will now go celebrate."

"That plant was going to eat her!" Jim pointed at Nyota who he had managed to knock to the floor, waiting for an explanation.

"Yes." Inctro agreed. "If a couple is not deemed worthy, then the female is eaten."

"Just the female?" Spock questioned.

"That is what you ask?" Jim yelled right after.

"Yes, just the female. You see females outnumber males so it makes sense to leave the male to try and find another potential mate."

"I see." Then Spock moved to Nyota and helped her up.

"Come," Inctro said again, "Let us go celebrate."

"How about we finish up the trade negotiations instead." Jim said as he got up off the floor.

"As you are now part of the wedding party, I will do as you wish. Come." Inctro walked away from the Mizpahqua towards the entrance that Jim, Spock and Nyota had entered just minutes earlier. Looking past the priestess, Jim could see the sky turning orange and purple. They really had managed to get married just in time.

Later when they were back on the ship and Jim had made his way back to his quarters, we went over the 'ceremony' in his mind. He and Spock were married.

Married.

Nyota was going to kill him. He'd managed to avoid her for the most part while he and Inctro ironed out an agreement that Starfleet and Denin would benefit from. Whenever he had slipped and met her gaze he felt his face flush and looked away. He had inadvertently married her boyfriend. Yeah, he was pretty sure she was going to kill him.

The chime to his quarters rang causing Jim to jerk violently, banging his leg on his desk.

"Son of a- Come!" He called as he rubbed his sore appendage. 'Think of the devil and they will come,' Jim thought to himself when Uhura entered his room.

"Sir -" She started but Jim held up his hands defensively.

"I'm sorry!" He exclaimed. "Don't hurt me."

Nyota just rolled her eyes and walked to his desk before sitting down in one of the chairs he kept for visitors. "Spock was right. You are so blind. But then again so is he."

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about how he loves you but you never seem to notice."

"What?" She was kidding him. She had to be and any second now she was going to pull out a phaser and commit mutiny.

"Spock loves you. He didn't want to marry me. And I sure as hell didn't want to marry him. Probably why that plant wanted to eat me. Thank you saving me, by the way. I didn't get to thank you earlier. I was actually afraid it was going to come after me again, even after everything seemed settled with you and Spock. Did you notice how Inctro glared me all evening? Oh well," Nyota waved her hand dismissively.

"What?" Jim asked again, not sure he was really hearing her.

Nyota took in a deep breath before putting her hands on the desk with a loud slap. "Spock and I broke up over a year ago. He and I are still friends which is why you have obviously missed the lovey dovey eyes he's been giving you the past six months. And while you might think your being rather sneaky with your own glances, you're not. I think everyone on the ship knows you two are meant for each other except for you two."

"You're serious?"

"Have you ever known be to be anything but?"

"True." And with that Jim got walked out of his quarters, leaving a grinning Nyota, to find his First Officer.

He didn't bother chiming, instead he just entered Spock's quarters. Spock was sitting on his floor meditating but he opened his eyes once Jim had crossed the threshold to his room.

"Captain?" He asked when Jim went forward and knelt in front of him.

"We're married."

"Yes Captain. But I have already started processing the paperwork for our divorce. As Denin is a Federation planet, everything should be finalized within forty-eight to seventy-two hours."

"Cancel the paperwork." Before he could chicken out, he leaned forward and brushed his lips against Spock's. "I'm not letting you go."

"Jim?" Spock questioned.

"I love when you say my name." And Jim leaned forward and kissed Spock again. Spock reached up and entwined his fingers in Jim's hair. "How about we take a couple days for a honeymoon. We can see about changing our quarters, and maybe Scotty can still come up with some sort of crib for our future offspring." Even though he made no sound, Jim could feel Spock's body vibrating against his in amusement.

"That sounds agreeable." Jim grinned and kissed his husband a good and proper kiss.

Later when they were lying together in Spock's bed, the blanket mostly pooled on the floor and just barely covering their legs, Jim turned to Spock and said, "I don't think we'e the only married couple on the ship."

"Of course we are not the only married couple aboard the Enterprise. There are the Martinses, the Walmaines, and the -"

"No, I mean… I know those couples..." Jim paused. "Ok, don't tell Bones but I think he and Pavel might still be married."

"My lips are sealed, t'hy'la."