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And Never Left Your Side

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Stardate 6458.716

It was hard to sleep. It was years later and still, it was hard to sleep. Images replayed themselves in his mind and some nights he bolted awake, not sure whether he was going to find himself in his quarters on the Enterprise or whether he was going to be back in the hospital room, waking up after two weeks in a coma after a miraculous resurrection from the dead. Some night he’d just ease out of it, blinking and aware that he was in the Enterprise and he was out in deep space and Marcus was dead and Khan was back in a cryotube and it was all in the past.

Not that that usually made him feel any better.

That was when he usually got up and did…stuff. During the year they’d been waiting for the repairs to be made to the enterprise everyone had had their own ways of trying to help him deal with what had happened. Spock had said to go with the mandated counseling session.

Those really hadn’t helped. Well, in a way they had, kind of, but not really. But he’d been good at conning people. He’d had years of practice growing up, charming his way out of trouble. He’d had no problem convincing his counselor he’d made serious strides on the road to dealing with all this when he’d really just made about a quarter mile up the mountainside trek.

God. Now he sounded like Bones with his metaphors, he thought to himself as he got out of bed and made his way to the closet where his uniforms hung. He pulled out the small rubber mat and then rolled it out on the ground. He’d gotten some very curious looks the first time he’d stepped foot in the yoga class that was held on board the ship, being the only male in attendance. Most of the women thought he was only there to check them out, especially when he situated himself in the back. But gradually they realized he didn’t care about them and ogling them. He was there to actually find his calm through the yoga.

That had been something Uhura, Carol and Sulu had suggested. He’d scoffed at first, protested pretty heavily, but eventually Uhura had dragged him to one of her mixed level classes and once he really gave it a shot he realized it helped. Clearing his mind, focusing on the poses…it helped ground him. Sulu helped give him some meditation techniques his fencing trainer had suggested for before matches. When Spock found out what they were doing, he suggested a few Vulcan techniques that humans should be able to replicate easily enough.

What his friends did for him helped get him further up the mountainside than anything the professionals did.

Still, he had a long way to go.

But being in space helped. The five year mission was a good thing, and now they were nearing the end of their fourth year in space. It was much nearer the time to go back home than it was the time to keep exploring. He wasn’t quite sure how he felt about that, to be honest. Before Pike had plucked him out of Iowa, he’d honestly given two shits about being out among the stars like his dad had. Now he couldn’t think of being anywhere else. Being back in San Francisco after five years in uncharted space was going to be…strange, if nothing else.

He had a lot to think about, but he needed to clear his mind first. He unrolled his mat and then began to go through the steady flow of poses. He’d just gotten into Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana when he there was a beep. “Captain,” he heard the communications officer who relieved Uhura when she was asleep say.

“Yes?” he said.

There was a pause. He was fairly sure the young Lieutenant was probably wondering why he wasn’t asleep. “There’s a message from Admiral Sulu. She says it’s urgent.”

He bit back a sigh and then got out of the pose and back into an upright position. “Let me change and I’ll be right there,” he said. He stretched slightly, enjoying the looseness in his muscles, and then went to change into his uniform. It didn’t take very long. He combed his hair, styling it quickly; most times if he got a message at four in the morning he didn’t bother but as this was Admiral Sulu and she was Marcus’s replacement he wanted to at least look presentable. Bedhead probably wouldn’t do the trick.

Once he was ready he took the lifts to the Sulu and was greeted with “Captain on the bridge” before he looked over and saw Spock in his familiar position. He raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you ever go to sleep?”

“I only need four hours of rest for optimal functioning,” Spock said. “Uhura prefers to go to sleep between 2200 and 2300 so I am usually back on the bridge by 0300.”

Kirk shook his head. “And she isn’t upset you aren’t there when she wakes up in the morning?” he asked.

“I time a break for when she wakes up at 0600,” Spock said.

Kirk gave him a wry grin and a shake of the head. “I don’t think I’m ever going to understand you two,” he said. He looked over and saw it was all second shift crew. “It feels strange without the rest of the crew.”

“All of these crew members are competent,” Spock said. “I’ve ensured that.”

“I hope so,” Kirk said. He turned to the Lieutenant at communications. “Put Admiral Sulu on the screen.”

He nodded and flipped a switch as Kirk sat down in his chair. After a moment a woman’s face showed up on the monitors. She was an Asian woman with black hair pulled into a knot at the nape of her neck and a small frown on her face. Kirk gave her a nod. “Admiral Sulu.”

“Captain Kirk,” she said. Her frown deepened slightly. “My nephew is asleep, I take it?”

Kirk grinned slightly at that and nodded. “He’s on our first shift. That’s where we put our best and brightest. Not that our second shift isn’t good as well.”

She nodded. “Ah,” she said.

“It’s a bit early for us,” he said. “Is something wrong?”

She leaned forward slightly. “We’ve begun to get overtures from high ranking officials in the Klingon Empire that they want to work out peace accords with the United Federation of Planets. The Klingon Chancellor, Chancellor Ch'jehlat, would like an escort to Earth but he’s a bit out of the way for any starships in the area. The Enterprise is closest so we would like you to pick him and his entourage up and escort them to Earth for the negotiations, which have been scheduled to start on stardate 6471.517.”

Kirk looked at her. “Admiral, the Klingons are aware of what happened on Kronos, right? Between us and them and Khan? Is it safe for me and my crew to be an escort?”

“I have been assured that they are not aware that it was you specifically that was on Kronos,” Admiral Sulu said. “All they know is that it was a Starfleet Captain who had been tricked by a renegade Starfleet Admiral who was trying to start a war. Chancellor Ch'jehlat has said the Klingon Empire holds Admiral Marcus responsible, not the Captain.”

Kirk was quiet for a moment as brief glimpses of the fight on Kronos flashed through his mind. He shut his eyes and gave his head a shake, and then opened them again. “All right. Send us the coordinates and the stardate of when we need to pick up the Chancellor and his entourage and we’ll be there.”

“Thank you, Captain,” Admiral Sulu said, giving Kirk a smile before ending the transmission.

Kirk glanced over to Spock, who was giving him a strange look. “What?” Spock asked.

Spock got up and came over to the captain’s chair, standing slightly behind it. “I do not like this,” Spock said quietly.

“I’m not too keen on the idea either, but…if we can get peace with the Klingons, stop this war Marcus wanted to start, shouldn’t we?” Kirk asked, looking up at him. Spock didn’t respond verbally, but he nodded. Kirk looked away then, back to the view of the stars in front of him. Somehow he had an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach, but he brushed it aside. He’d deal with it later. Right now, he’d wait for his crew to wake up and then make plans. Somehow, he had the feeling he didn’t have much time before Chancellor Ch'jehlat was to be their guest.