When the beams of light finally fade, instead of finding himself on Star Base 4, where he was going to meet Admiral Pike about more funding for the science department. Jim Kirk finds himself back on the transporter platform of the Enterprise. Normally he wouldn’t be bothered by the obvious transporter malfunction, because even the best technology can fail at some point (and has a few times on this ship), but something is different this time. That difference is that instead of Kirk's chief engineer, Montgomery Scott, apologizing for the glitch like he has in the past, he is instead pointing a phaser at his captain.
“Put your hands where I can see 'em and then explain to me who you are and how you beamed aboard this ship when the transporter was deactivated.”
Kirk lifts his hands up so that they are in plan view and studies the face of his friend. There is no sign of recognition in the Scot's expression, which has him worried. Before Jim can answer the man, he notices that Scotty's gaze is focused on his sleeves, or more precisely, the markings on his sleeves. The phaser drops slightly as confusion now washes over Scotty's face.
“You're a captain? I was nae aware that there were any ships docked at Star Base 4 besides ours. Maybe it was just a clerical error. It is nae like those people on the Star base haven’t done stuff like this before.”
The man in red seems to be talking more to himself then to Kirk, so Jim takes the time to analyze the information that has been presented to him. It doesn’t take him long to come up with a plausible hypothesis.
'Parallel universe. Old Spock told me it was possible to transport to one if ion clouds or storms are involved. Didn’t really take him seriously. That'll teach me. Now, if only the old man had told me what to do if I ever found myself in one I would be all set.'
Jim pulls himself out his thoughts and glances at Scotty, who is still has the phaser in his hand and is quietly muttering to himself about the incompetence that Star base personnel. Kirk rolls his eyes as he muses on the fact that there are some universal constants after all. He clears his throat and waits for Scotty to again focus on him. Once he has the older man's attention, Jim decides that he might as well go for broke and tell Mr Scott everything. He was never a man that enjoyed beating around the bush, no point in starting now.
“I'm Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise and I all I can say for certain regarding how I got here is that I didn't do it by falling down any rabbit holes.”
Scotty's lips twitch into a smile for a moment before his expression once again becomes serious, though Jim is thankful for the fact that the engineer's weapon has been lowered to the man's side. It means that this Scotty doesn’t see him as a risk.
“Now I know that at least one of those things are not true. Captain Pike is the commander of this ship, not you.”
Kirk stares at the man in red and smiles at the fact that Scotty is so calm and collected regarding this not so small inconsistency. Time to test that calm to it's limits.
“Actually, everything I said is true, just not in this universe. I think I may have been accidentally transported to a different dimension, universe, whatever you want to call it.”
Scotty's eyes widen at this piece of information and he slowly slips his phaser into his holster. A hand goes up to scratch at his head as he struggles absorb all this. Finally, the engineers hand drops to his side.
“This is a little above my head. I think I'm gonna have to get the Captain down here, so we can sort this all out.”
Kirk nods in understanding at the confused man.
Scotty turns his back on Jim (another show of trust, that fills Jim with warm fuzzies) and walks towards the wall where the comm unit is situated.
“Transporter room to bridge. Come in Bridge.”
There is static for a few second before Spock's deep voice fills the room. Kirk's heart speeds up at the sound.
“Spock here. What do you require, Mr Scott?”
Scotty glances over his shoulder at Jim who is only just now stepping down from the raised platform. Jim smiles at Scotty reassuringly and mouths “you can do it,” hoping that help dispel the lost look on the older man's face.
“Well... um... you see... uh...”
Jim can almost hear Spock's eye roll (or the Vulcan equivalent).
“Mr Scott, will you be forming actual coherent sentences in the near future or should I bunker down for a long wait. I will need more provisions if the latter is the case.”
Kirk's eyebrows shoot up in surprise at Spock's obvious joke. He always knew that his Spock had a sense of humor, but it is always so carefully hidden. No one but him (and maybe Nyota) could ever see it.
Jim turns to Scotty expecting the man's expression to mirror his own, but he is just smiling in appreciation of the joke, not surprised at all that the Vulcan made one.
'Weird. It is like Scotty is used to Spock acting this way... wait, maybe he is. This is, presumably, a different universe after all.'
“Sorry Commander. I comm'd to ask if Captain Pike could meet me here. There is a... situation.”
Spock's voice is all seriousness when he answers.
“Captain Pike is indisposed at the moment. I will come in his stead. Expect my arrival in 4.3 minutes. Spock out.”
Kirk's face breaks out into a lopsided grin. 'There's the Spock I know.'
Scotty and Jim stand in silence as they wait for Spock to arrive. Exactly 4.3 minutes later, both men turn toward the entrance of the room as Spock steps through it. The Vulcan halts mid-step as his gaze shifts from Mr Scott to Kirk. Jim watches as Spock's eyes widen in surprise for a second before those brown eyes slowly give the blonde's body the once over. Jim just barely stops himself from fidgeting under the scrutiny.
'If I didn’t know any better, I would swear that Spock is checking me out. Lucky I do know better.'
As if reading Jim's thoughts, Spock straightens slightly, walks further into the room and redirects his attention to the other man dressed in engineer red.
“Mr Scott, am I correct in assuming that this man is the situation you were referring to?”
Scotty nods, “Aye. He he just appeared out of nowhere as we left orbit. The transporter wasn't even switched on.”
Spock's eyebrow rises as his gaze once again lands on Kirk. He clasps his hands behind his back and makes his way closer to Jim, who has decided to keep his mouth shut until he is actually spoken to.
“You are a member of Starfleet?”
Jim pointed looks down at his uniform before gracing the Vulcan with a look of incredulity.
“I think the answer to that question is pretty obvious, Spock.”
Both of Spock's eyebrows are now past his hairline and Kirk mentally face palms himself for the slip up. Spock is now staring at him in suspicion.
“I do not believe that introductions have been made. How is it that you know my name when I most certainly did not inform you of it?”
Kirk hesitates. He doesn’t think it is time to lay out everything like he did with Scotty, not when he hasn’t even introduced himself yet. He needs another explanation and that is when he remembers something.
“I heard it when Mr Scott here was talking to you over the comm unit,” Kirk voice becomes a little more confident with that justification, “Yeah, that's where I heard it.”
Jim can see that Spock seems unconvinced. He doesn't blame the guy.
“What is your name? From the markings on your uniform I have already ascertained that you hold the rank of captain, which I must say is quite rare for a person so young.”
Kirk glares at Spock and places his hands on his hips. He has never liked it when people have brought up his age and rank in a disbelieving light.
“Hey! I am only two years younger than yo...” Jim trails off as he sees the suspicion again enter the Vulcan' eyes, as he, for the second time, says too much. Kirk decides to pretend that he didn’t say anything and answer Spock's original question.
“The name is James Tiberius Kirk and I'm captain of the USS Enterprise.”
Spock turns to Scotty who has been watching their exchange. The Scot simply shrugs at the first officer.
“See the situation? This lad seems honest enough, but I have nae heard of him and we both know that he is not our captain.”
Spock inclines his head in agreement and Kirk sighs in exasperation. He can't believe he has to explain this. He was sure that Spock would have worked it out for himself.
'So much for the Vulcan superior intellect.' Jim mutters mentally.
“Guys, I think it is pretty clear to everyone in this room that I am not the captain of this Enterprise, but I am the captain of an Enterprise.”
Spock's head tilts in confusion. “Explain.”
Kirk straightens his spine and puts on his best 'I'm a serious captain' face.
“My ship passed through an ion cloud before reaching Star base 4 and I bet your ship passed through something similar before leaving the same Star base. I have heard that ion clouds and storms can do some weird shit to transporters. I have even heard of people being transported to other dimensions.”
Curiosity overtakes Spock's expression and Jim is once again shocked at how easy it is for him to read this Spock. This version of his Vulcan first officer is far more expressive with his emotion, which is a little strange for Jim, (but he also finds it kind of hot). Kirk mentally shakes himself free from that non-productive train of thought, as Spock starts speaking.
“I gather from your nonchalant attitude during your explanation that you have had experience with realities other than your own.”
Kirk sighs, “More than you know. Between Romulans and Vulcans from an alternate future and memories, that don’t belong to me, of an evil universe...,” A smirk forms on his lips as his eyes meet Spock's, “Where you have a sexy beard by the way, you could say that I am expert in the field.”
Kirk barely finishes speaking before Spock is standing less then a foot in front of him and is holding his shoulders in a harsh grip. Spock looks almost manic (for a Vulcan, anyway).
“You mentioned Romulans. Do you mean Nero?”
Now it is Kirk's turn to look panicked.
“Nero was here too? Does that mean that Vulcan was also destroyed here?”
Confusion (and what looks like pity) crosses Spock's face before it forms a neutral mask that Jim is much more accustomed to from his own Spock. The Vulcan lets go of Kirk and backs away, again clasping his hands behind his back.
“I believe the time has come for you to meet with Captain Pike, who will be more apt at explaining our past experience with Nero. He also needs to be informed that his ship is currently housing an inter-dimensional visitor.”
Spock spins on his heels and heads for the door. Once he reaches the threshold, he turns back to the man in command yellow and tilts his head to the side in question.
“Are you coming, Captain Kirk?”
Without waiting for an answer, Spock walks out of the door and heads in the direction of the turbolift.
Jim grins at this Spock, who is different, yet incredibly similar to his own Spock. He stiffens when he notices Scotty is watching him with a strange smirk plastered on his face. Kirk diverts his eyes, not quite sure what to make of the look and gives the older man a quick salute of farewell, before he jogs out of the transporter room and in the direction he saw Spock go.
The Vulcan is waiting for him at the entrance of the turbolift. They enter the lift quietly and the silence continues for more than a few minutes before Kirk finally breaks it.
“So, I thought Pike wasn’t on the bridge, or at least that is what I gathered from your conversation with Scotty. Why are we heading there now?”
Again Jim is made aware that this is not his Enterprise or his Spock by the fact that Spock does not chastise him for casualness when addressing Starfleet officers. This Spock just eyes Jim for a moment before answering.
“He informed me that he would resume command at 1600 hours, which was 10.6 minutes ago. It is only logical to assume that to resume command of a starship, one must be on the bridge to do so.”
Kirk's breath hitches at the small teasing smile that forms on Spock's lips. He has never seen Spock smile before, especially not at him. If Spock notices the change in Jim's breathing pattern, he doesn’t say anything, which the Human is thankful for.
“You're a funny man, Spock. I think we'll get along really well.”
Just as the lift door open onto the bridge, the smile leaves the Vulcan's face (but not his eye) and he steps out. Jim nearly misses Spock whisper “as do I,” as the Vulcan moves towards the command chair that is facing the view-screen.
“Captain Pike, I wish to introduce you to a man that I am sure you will find quite fascinating.”
Kirk takes this as his cue to step up next to Spock, watching as the captain's chair, and the man in it, spins around to face them. When Christopher Pike's gaze lands on Kirk, his expressions transforms from curiosity, to recognition, to utter disbelief. Jim can't help but think that Pike looks like a man that has just seen a ghost. The older captain slowly rises out of his seat and one of his hands reaches out towards Jim.
“George?” Pike says in a lowered his voice.
The one worded question that is filled with sadness, grief and... hope has Kirk realizing that the man standing before him is seeing a ghost. The ghost of his father.