Four years had passed after the end of their last mission.
Jim had said goodbye to all of them. Most of them stayed with the Fleet. Sulu had been promoted to captain. Uhura and Scotty stayed with the Enterprise. Jaylah was working on Yorktown now. And Bones had left Starfleet. He was retiring. God, that had been an unhappy shock. And well, not. He wasn’t that surprised Bones didn’t stay.
But he missed them. They’d become family.
Jim picked up the photo he had of them just before the end of that last mission. He traced his finger over each and every one of them. They’d all been smiling. Except Spock. Jim shook his head. He lingered over Bones. And then finally his first officer.
“Spock,” Jim whispered. Spock who was on New Vulcan.
With a final roll of his eyes at himself he put the picture back down on his desk in his office.
There was a tap at his office door.
A yeoman stepped inside. “It’s time for you to leave, Admiral.”
He nodded. “All right. Just ten minutes—”
“No, sir. You don’t have ten minutes. You have to leave now or you’ll be late for the shuttle.”
“Already on the shuttle.”
Jim smiled. “Congratulations, Yeoman. You’ve thought of everything.”
She crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Apparently not, since you haven’t gotten up, sir.”
“Okay, okay. Sheesh.” Jim got up and walked around the desk. He grabbed his leather jacket. He hadn’t worn his uniform today in anticipation of departing. “What’s the weather supposed to be like in Georgia?”
“Rainy, Admiral. For the next two days. Clearing at night. But the sun is supposed to be fully shining on Dr. McCoy’s wedding day.”
“He’ll appreciate that. Listen, I’ll contact you from the shuttle and—”
“Nope. You’re on vacation, sir.”
Jim grimaced. “When I get there then.”
“As you were, Yeoman.”
She sighed. “Yes, sir. And do try to have a good time.”
A good time. Oh, sure.
How the hell was Jim supposed to have a good time with all the work he had to do. Or really. Georgia? In the damn summer. Humidity enough to fell an ordinary man. Bones owed him for this.
He pinched the bridge of his nose. Found the message from Bones on his PADD and read it again.
I know you won’t believe me, but I’m getting married. I know. I said never. But well…It’s just a few days off. I think she didn’t want to give me a chance to change my mind! Can you come? I know most of our friends are off planet now, but, well, I’d really like you to be there.
How could he deny that? He couldn’t.
So he was traveling to Georgia. Alone.
At least he’d get to see Bones.
“There he is! Uncle Jim!”
Joanna McCoy ran at Jim the moment he stepped off the shuttle ramp. She threw her little ten year old arms around him with such enthusiasm she knocked Jim back.
“Whoa, whoa.” Jim laughed. “Don’t run me over, Jo.”
“Yeah he’s got old bones, honey. Don’t want to break the admiral.”
Jim smirked at Bones. “Funny.” He ruffled Jo’s long brown hair. “Guess who brought a really smart little girl a present?”
“Yay!” She smiled brightly and linked her arm with his. “What is it?”
“You’ll see when we get to your house.” Jim glanced at Bones. “Where’s the missus?”
“Missus to be, thanks. Shayla’s back at the house. Fretting over the wedding.”
“Oh, no. Everything’s fine.” Bones squeezed his arm. “Jim, about Spock, look—”
“It’s fine, Bones. Kaiidth as he would say.”
Bones nodded. “Let’s go. I’m grilling hamburgers.”
Jim grinned. “Things are looking up.”
“Jim, it’s so good to see you,” Shayla greeted him with the briefest of hugs. She was part Orion, part Human, and incredibly beautiful with light green skin and raven hair. She and Bones had met on the Enterprise during their second mission and had been together ever since. They’d never talked of marriage, though it was plain they were committed. Jim had been sure Bones was firmly in the never again category. Bones was always surprising him.
“You look radiant as usual.” He kissed her cheek.
She patted her stomach then with a smile. “We’re expecting.”
Jim had wondered. “Fantastic. I’m ready to be an uncle again.”
“Where’s my present?” Joanna asked, tugging on his jacket.
“Jo, that’s not nice,” Bones told her.
“Well.” She pouted a little. “He said he had one.”
Jim laughed. “It’s okay. Come, help me open my bag. It’s inside.” Joanna ran to his bag and opened it up, taking out the box with the “Build Your Own Enterprise” in it. She squealed with delight, exclaiming that it even lit up, and then ran off with the box to get online to show her mother.
Bones smiled. “Come on outside to the grill.” Bones grabbed two beers on the way out and handed one to Jim.
Jim followed him outside. “How long is Jo staying with you guys?”
“For the summer. Basically until it’s time for her to go back to school. Jocelyn has mellowed over the years and been much more generous with letting me have Jo. And Jo’s been a big help to Shayla.”
“God, you’re so damn domesticated.”
Bones nodded. “Kind of sickening, I know.”
“Glad to see my Yeoman wasn’t totally right about the weather. Said it was supposed to be rainy.”
“Rained this morning. How are you doing, Jim?”
Jim leaned against the patio wall and twisted off the cap to his bottle of beer. “Keeping busy.”
“Working too hard, you mean.”
Jim shrugged. “What else can I do right now?”
“Not work too hard?” Bones sighed. “When was the last time you had a physical?”
“Um, I don’t know?”
“Damn it, Jim. It was when I examined you last, wasn’t it?”
Jim smiled. “Maybe?”
“Don’t try that charm on me, kid. You aren’t eating right. Hell, you look like you aren’t eating at all.”
Bones poked his ribs. “What are you eating?”
“I eat.” Jim dodged another poke and took a large swallow of beer.
“That’s not an answer. Is it the admiralty?”
“I am the admiralty.” Jim winked.
“You know what I mean. They give you about six billion different things you’re responsible for.”
“Just tactical stuff.”
“Just.” Bones rolled his eyes. “Inspections, too. How many ship inspections have you done in the last few months?”
Bones quirked his brow.
“Okay, a lot.” He took another swig of beer. “But let’s talk about you. Are you ready for this shindig?”
“It’s not actually a shindig. It’s pretty small. Most of our friends are in space and she hasn’t seen her dad in over a decade. Her mom will be here though. Couple of relatives.”
“It’s going to be great, no matter how big it is.”
“Yeah, it is. Life’s been good.” Bones flipped several burgers. “Jim—”
“Bones. Don’t start, all right?”
“I worry about you. In San Francisco all alone.”
“I’m fine. Really.” Jim smiled. He reached over and squeezed Bones’ arm. “And that reminds me. I gotta check in. I’ll be right back.” He went inside for his PADD.
Jim felt full for the first time in a long time. Maybe Bones was right and he should eat more. The thing was he didn’t enjoy cooking for just himself so he spent most nights at his office at HQ late into the night until, really, he had to go home and face his empty apartment. He survived on coffee, mostly, at HQ, and when he got home he didn’t want a big meal right before bed, so he had the replicator make him something small like toast.
He was outside by himself, in Bones’ front yard, actually. It was a little chillier than he’d thought it would be considering how warm it had been during the day. Inside he could hear Bones, Shayla, and Joanna washing dishes in the kitchen. It was too fucking cute, is what it was. Jim was glad Bones was happy. Even if it meant Bones was no longer just down the hall from him.
When they’d first returned from that last mission Bones and Shayla had an apartment in the same building, literally down the hall from his. But Bones wanted to live closer to Jo, which Jim totally didn’t blame him, and pretty soon they were moving to Georgia.
Jim hated all the changes. And he was way lonelier than he’d thought he would be. But well, that was life wasn’t it?
He was about to turn and go back into the house when the hover car appeared just a few houses down. Jim stopped to watch it. He was more than a little surprised when a small Vulcan boy appeared. He looked to be just over three years old. He had the typical bowl cut, though his hair was not as dark as most Vulcans, and the cutest little pointed ears. He was dressed in jeans and a buttoned down shirt, rather than the Vulcan robes one might expect. He carried what appeared to be a stuffed sehlat.
Jim could not help but smile at the boy as he approached Jim with a very serious expression.
The boy held up his hand in the ta’al. The one not clutching the stuffed sehlat, of course. “Live long and prosper.”
Jim returned the gesture. “Peace and long life.”
He crouched down to the boy's level then.
“Would it be considered illogical to embrace you?” the boy asked.
Jim’s smile widened. “Absolutely not. It’s entirely logical.”
The Vulcan boy nodded and then leaned forward to wrap his small arms around Jim. Jim returned the hug tightly.
Then he pulled back. “Where is your sa-mekh?”
“He is coming.”
Jim straightened as Spock was walking from the direction the little Vulcan had come from.
“Hey,” Jim said softly.
As Spock reached him, Jim heard the front door open behind him.
Jim couldn’t keep his eyes off him. “I didn’t know you were coming.”
“It was difficult to finish in time, but I did not wish to miss Leonard’s wedding,” Spock told him. He was dressed in black jeans and a black sweater.
Jim grabbed the collar of Spock’s sweater and kissed him thoroughly.
“Get a room,” Bones called from the front porch.
Jim laughed and then kissed Spock again. “God, I’ve missed you.”
“And I you, Adun.”
“Isn’t all that public making out against some kind of Vulcan rule?” Bones demanded.
“We are not on Vulcan, Doctor,” Spock said coolly, just before once more claiming Jim’s lips. His tongue slipped inside Jim’s mouth as they pulled closer to each other.
“If you avert your eyes, it is easier,” Jim’s son said to Bones.
“Yes, but your Dad is a noisy kisser, I can still hear him.”
“Oh, be quiet. We haven’t seen each other for months,” Jim said, throwing his arms around Spock’s neck. “So, do you have to go back?”
“Negative. Not for several months. We will return to our home in San Francisco with you.” Spock eyed him with brows raised. “I can see that you have been skipping meals.”
“No, not skipping exactly.”
“When we return, I will shop for fresh ingredients to prepare our meals.”
Jim felt warm all over and he knew much of that came from their bond. It had sprung to life the instant they’d touched and now it was fully pulsing with contentment. Damn, Vulcans were awesome.
Tracing his fingers over Spock’s jaw, he asked, “How come you didn’t tell me?”
Bones answered. “We didn’t want to get your hopes up, Jim, in case Spock couldn’t make it happen.”
Jim found he could not stop touching his husband. Sure, they’d done video chats. It was not the same. “Well, it’s a great surprise.” Jim turned from Spock, though their minds were still very connected at the moment, and reached down to scoop up the Vulcan boy. He kissed his son soundly on the boy’s cheek, laughing when he made a face. “Now, it’s a vacation!”