Out of the Big Black
my lover came back to me
Onto the Deep blue
he will come again
Amid the Great Greys
we will sail the sea
Beneath the Azure Skies
we will come, and come again!
Jim Kirk finished towelling his hair and, wrapping the towel around his waist, strode out to the living area of their suite on the Enterprise. Spock looked up from the PADD he was perusing at the dining table and raised an eyebrow. It was still a surprise, this youthful form his beloved had assumed. He let his eyes drift slowly down the tight young body and tried not to smile.
Spock had become unused to smiling, these long decades. Unused to pleasure. Yet despite two days of near constant lovemaking since Jim had recovered, he felt a tug at his groin and forced himself to master it. Spontaneous dissolution in the Plak Tow had been horrible—he had no wish to injure his mate again with his appetite.
"Hardly appropriate clothing, unless you wish to return to the bedroom."
Jim smiled and sat down. "I think I need a bit of a breather." He surveyed the various dishes on the table and began to help himself to toast and peanut butter. "But maybe, after breakfast?"
Spock let the smile out and poured a cup of coffee for his mate. "You distract me. I wish to talk with you. I have a proposal."
Jim snorted, remembering their careful, secret courtship, so long ago now. "You already proposed. I accepted. That's why I'm half naked at your breakfast table. Thanks for the coffee." Jim finished his first slice of toast, began slavering jelly on top of his second. "Lord! You do give a man an appetite. But you know what, Spock? This time I'm not gonna get fat."
Then you will have to avoid such things as peanut butter and jelly on buttered toast, Jim. May I have your attention for a moment?
"What's your proposal, lover?"
"You have acknowledged that you do not wish to spend a second lifetime devoted to StarFleet. We both acknowledge that we are not men to sit idle. I have a career in mind that we might both find satisfying. You will, of course, remember our mission into the past of Earth, to return the extinct species humpback whale…"
"Spock! You've gotten awfully formal since I died. But yes, I remember it clearly, how could I forget? It was during that trip to the past that you remembered we had been partners before… before you died." He hesitated over reaching for a third slice of toast and then sat back with a sigh. "Sorry to interrupt. Please, carry on."
"Since that time, there has been a concerted and successful effort to repopulate the oceans of earth with every species of Cetacean for which humans had clonable material. It was a success due to the fact that the humpbacks themselves carried forward to our time something called, in human short hand, The History of the People. It amounts to a song cycle that is part learned, part racial memory, and it contains information about all the languages and cultures of the Cetacean people. The cycle takes….” Spock paused, translating an exact figure into an idiomatic expression," upwards of three months continuous singing to complete, a unique form of oral history in the known galaxy. The Cetaceans also received a great deal of help, intellectual and cultural, from the Probe. There is now a thriving population of humpback, grey, blue, narwhal, beluga and orca, various dolphins and porpoises…actually fourteen species of Cetacean, with several more in the planning stages."
"That's fabulous, Spock! A reversed extinction? Are all of the Cetaceans intelligent, like the humpbacks?"
"They are all intelligent in varying degrees, Jim, though it is very difficult for land-based creatures such as humans to understand them. Their view of the world, of time, of space, is very different to ours. Humans are trying to set up long-term missions and to translate the History of the People, among various other tasks. There is a demand for researchers and liaisons; however, only telepathic people can learn anything more difficult than the first or second level of the Cetacean languages. Because of that there are no means of translating the more intricate nuances and advanced structures of the Song. Without direct telepathic communication it is impossible to conceive terrestrial equivalents to the way whales think."
"Of course." Jim finished his coffee and nodded. "Sounds like your kind of job all right. Difficult, intricate, using all your skills, and extremely long term. You'd work directly with the humpbacks?"
Spock agreed. "The job description is 'Cetacean Partner,' and they are desperate for telepaths, especially ones with a background in marine sciences, alien first-contacts or diplomacy." He carefully refilled his partner's mug before continuing. "There is also a shortage of licensed sail captains on Earth. Those with the necessary temperaments tend to go to space, and the Cetaceans, except for the dolphin and porpoise groups, refuse to even approach powered vessels of any kind. Would you consider a second lifetime as the captain of a research and exploration vessel, Jim?"
Jim's mouth fell open, and he shut it with a snap. "Spock! A real sailing ship? How big? What sort of complement? Where?"
"I do not know. I have researched several possibilities. I take it the proposal is not entirely unfavourable to you?"
A wave of almost sexual heat passed over Jim as he tried to wrap his mind around the possibility. A sail captain, his own ship, the deep wide ocean, Spock at his side again doing important, daring, exciting work. I'm thinking that you're the one in inappropriate clothing, lover.
Ah. Then it meets with your approval. When we get to Earth we will do a little research to discover the best means of accomplishing this goal.
Picard kept his gaze neutral as the pair walked into the briefing room and settled side by side in the midst of his senior officers. There was nothing to see on the Vulcan's stern face, but his movements were… different, somehow. Looser. Not languid, as he'd been after the Pon Farr, but calm and contained, as opposed to severely curtailed. A contented Vulcan.
Kirk, on the other hand, was a perfect picture of the well laid human-in-love. His face glowed, his eyes were bright and smiling, and his body language was flagrantly flirting with the Vulcan beside him. Little glances, little motions. There was no closet big enough to hold him any longer, Picard decided.
He glanced at Troi and almost smiled. She was nearly trembling, and that must be just at Kirk's emotions. The Vulcan would be shielded. Picard decided to make it quick. "We're finished with the business of the day, gentlemen, and you have the floor. I take it you've made a decision about returning to Earth?"
Kirk glanced at Spock, and their old dynamic kicked in at once. Spock folded his hands and sat back, and Jim leaned forward to reply. Spock the observer, Kirk, the speaker-to-humans. "We have. We've decided to go back, and we're ready at any time."
Riker broke into a smile. "That's great. StarFleet is lucky to have you."
"You misunderstand me, Commander. Spock and I are not returning to StarFleet. This lifetime it's Spock's turn to pick our job, and he has found one we should both enjoy." He briefly outlined their plans, and Picard had to admit a little twinge of envy. Riker looked stunned.
"You would leave space? You were the best captain the Fleet had, in your day. How can you give it up?"
"Commander Riker," Picard began, but Kirk shook his head.
"That’s all right, Captain. Commander, I don't expect you to understand my motivations, but I'm willing to explain. Despite present appearances, I am an old man. I gave my life to StarFleet, literally, and so did Spock. That meant giving up peace, and love, and the life of a family. And since I died, all of my family except Spock is lost to me." He paused and glanced around the table but saw nothing except interest. "This new endeavour is exciting, it provides everything that my old Enterprise did: adventure, valuable work, a worthy command. But on a scale that will admit the things I gave up last time. Peace, love. My family is small, but I don't want to have to ignore him anymore." He looked at Spock, then back at Riker. "I don't feel I have any debts to pay to StarFleet, or to anyone, except perhaps to my partner. And he to me."
Spock nodded once, sharply, conveying approval of the explanation and whole-hearted acceptance of the plan. Picard tugged on the front of his tunic and glanced at Data. "Commander Data, what is our estimate arrival time at StarBase One?"
"If we continue present course and speed, fourteen point five days. If we go directly, just under five days."
"My orders are elastic, gentlemen. If you are sure of your plans, I am authorized, in fact I am encouraged, to interrupt this patrol and return immediately to Earth."
"I wonder if that authorization will change if we notify StarFleet of our lack of interest in their offer of commission." Kirk grinned widely. "Let's not tell them for a couple of days. Is that possible? Let them think we're still mulling it over."
"I doubt they'll believe Mr. Spock requires much 'mulling' time, but I agree. I will be available to contact them at your discretion, gentlemen, whenever you like, though as StarFleet's representative here, I would like to give them twenty-four hours, or so, notice." He nodded and stood up. "Right, let's get back to work, shall we? You all have your orders. Commander Riker, take the conn and have our course altered, shortest route back to Earth. Jim, Spock, would you join me for lunch?"
The homecoming was worse than Jim had imagined. They had their showdown with Fleet, refusing to turn themselves into a public service announcement for the funding and recruitment people. Fleet had countered by saying that as Kirk hadn't died, he was technically not released from duty. Spock had coolly conceded that such an argument could be made, and requested the account information, investment strategy and rate of interest on the ninety years of back pay Kirk was due.
Fleet backed down.
They had known that in order to get any peace they would need to hold a press conference, and it was held as soon as the three—Kirk, Spock and Picard—had beamed down to San Francisco. Kirk made a short, cheerful statement without actually saying anything, Picard made a longer, technical statement about the Nexus and the Continuum, and Spock declined to make any comment.
It wasn't the press conference, or the strange awe in the eyes of the people. It was that the awe, the near worship, wouldn't go away.
Spock leased a suite at the Bay Hilton and it became a virtual prison for Jim. Spock's Vulcan reserve afforded him some measure of security and privacy when he left the building, but Jim couldn't set foot out of doors without being mobbed. Crowds surrounded the front entrance of the hotel day and night. The suite’s private transporter was no help—it seemed that there were no places on Earth that Jim T. Kirk was not looked upon as some sort of holy relic. He was horrified to find his mother's farm turned into a museum and shrine, stunned by the statue to him in his favourite quad of the Academy, and overwhelmed by the bizarre adoration every time he ventured out to sightsee or shop.
"I'm going to go nuts, Spock. Why won't they leave me alone?" He lay back in the bathtub, his Vulcan making a backrest for him. The long, thin arms crossed over his chest and Jim held them tightly, relaxing into the heat of the water. It felt just slightly warmer than the heat of the Vulcan. Aren't you cold, love?
You are a sufficient blanket.
"I can't have much of a life with all the grabbing and staring…"
"You've returned from the dead. You are youthful again. Humans are hoping that it is contagious."
Jim gave a snort of laughter and water splashed up the side of the tub. "Yeah. They think they can catch a Q's sympathy? All the more reason for us to get onto a ship as soon as we can."
"I have tracked down several possible vessels." After days of researching the ships available to the Deep Ocean Research Group, they had rejected all of them as already captained, too small, or in the wrong field of research. They had decided to purchase their own vessel, provision it, and then lease it at cost to DOR Group, paying for crew themselves. Kirk had originally objected, but after a review of Spock's finances and investments he realized that they could fully support such a venture for twenty lifetimes, never accept another credit from anyone, and end up almost as wealthy as they were now. The appeal of hiring his own crew won, and he was becoming used to the notion that he and Spock were unbelievably wealthy. "Two are in Asia and require some rebuilding; however, your criterion of twenty meters or longer, the draft and beam requirements, and the schooner rigged preference are all met, as well as your stipulated living quarters…."
Jim twisted around. The vague trailing off was not like his husband. Spock? What's wrong?
The angular face looked almost shy. Spock bent and kissed Jim's forehead, before continuing, more slowly. "One vessel in particular interested me. The CloudDance. It is a sail race replica, lately a recreational vessel until the owner died, ten years ago. It is dry-docked in Vancouver. It is a bit more ship than you asked for, thirty-nine meters, but rigged as you requested. A two-masted schooner, though without square sails."
"Topsails, you mean? Or all of them?"
Spock pondered. "The sails are triangular, I believe. On the drawings I note that it has the gaffs near the top of the masts, and there are removable top masts and sails above those, but they are not square in design."
"That's okay. Those are for the main top and the fore top. I don't need square sails to make me a happy captain. Though a square-rigged foremast would make for a slightly less slanted vessel for the researchers…. What is it, Spock? You're green!"
Spock shifted. "It has a four room captain's stateroom in the rear of the vessel, with its own head, as well as a large general office and lounge area in the centre, and quarters, albeit cramped, for up to twenty-two other people."
"It would need it. I wouldn't want to run a ship that size with less than a three-person crew on each watch, not with thirty-nine meters and that much sail. You would need the whole crew to move all the sail in a hurry. But why four rooms, Spock? We only really need a bedroom and your office, though I like the idea of a private head."
Spock shifted in the tub, and his eyes slid sideways.
"I had thought we might want to have a child on board."
Jim sat up and turned around, staring. "You have a child? Why didn't you tell me?"
"No, no! I do not have a child." Spock flushed greener and met Jim's eyes. "I was hoping to raise your child on board. Yours and mine."
Jim felt all the air go out of his lungs in a whoosh. "Ours? You want to…we could…. Ours?"
"Yes. If you approve."
Jim's answer was to drop back, belly down, onto his husband, hands grasping Spock's head, his mouth devouring the Vulcan's. Spock let his hands roam over the smooth back and ass, stroking, feeling Jim's almost instant erection pressing up against his groin. I take it the idea does not totally dismay you.
In answer Jim groaned into his mouth and pressed harder against him. God! It's embarrassing, who'd have thought I'd find the idea of having children so sexy? Am I a pervert, to find the thought exciting?
It is the usual way of getting them. I believe this physiological response is quite within human norms, Spock replied, letting his stroking turn into a deep, sensual massage However, I must point out that for you and me it will not be quite this simple.
Jim laughed helplessly, and ended up licking Spock's neck. Let's go and see this CloudDance then. Let's have a child. "God, Spock, it would be fun to bring up your child!"
Spock didn't voice his opinion about the "fun" of childrearing, instead taking full advantage of his lover's mood and shifting them around in the tub so that he could lift Jim out. "We will. But first we will spend a few minutes in the bedroom, I think."
"More than a few, please," Jim demanded, as his feet hit the floor. Spock took him in his arms and kissed him thoroughly. Yes. More than a few.
They didn't manage to leave the Hilton that night, but neither minded.
Jim stood quiet, hands in the pockets of his heavily lined leather jacket. Beside him Spock puffed foggy condensation into the cool air, wrapped tightly in a grey down parka. A black watch cap, a gift from Jim, was snugged down low on his brow. It was just past dawn on a Vancouver September day that was uncharacteristically cold and dry and clear.
"What do you think, Spock?" He paced slowly around the boatyard, staring up at the huge sailing vessel. It was sitting high on wooden pilings, the keel resting lightly on the hard, frosty ground. The protective paint was flaked in places, peeling, but the hull appeared sound, with none of the soft rot he had worried about. Spock followed beside him.
"The times we sailed before, I was involved in other aspects of the voyage. I am unfamiliar with this technology, Jim. I have no way of estimating its condition."
"Her. She. Boats are female, Spock, remember?" Jim moved in close to the hull and ran a hand over it. "We need to get aboard."
"You gonna buy her?" A female voice came from overhead. Both men looked up to see a ragged mop of brown curls atop a pale, freckled face. "Hi. I'm Demrun. Demrun Illiana Shastakovisht. Call me Demi. You gonna buy CloudDance?"
"We don't know. Can you tell us anything about her condition? Do you work here?"
The face disappeared, and a moment later the young woman was sliding down the steep ladder to the ground. She looked about twenty, Kirk guessed. "Yeah, I work here. If you buy her, you'll need crew? I'm a good sailor. I'd like to sign on."
Spock cleared his throat. "Such requests are premature, Ms. Shastakovisht. You do not know us. We do not know you. We do not yet know if we intend to purchase this vessel, and you do not know that we will need crew."
Demrun stared at him, and then her bright blue eyes blinked. "I'm sorry, staring is rude. I've never met an alien before. You're Vulcan, aren't you?"
"My name is Spock. This is Jim Kirk. Can you tell us anything about this vessel's condition?"
Kirk's relief was huge when the young woman showed no interest or awe at either of their names. "She's sound, is CloudDance. Stripped down to the hull, but sound. If she were mine I'd have her cleaned, sanded and painted. Not colour paint, but good marine clear Teflon, so you can monitor the condition of her wood. She needs both masts replaced, and I'd not go sentimental. I'd ditch the wooden masts and use good aluminum ones. The mainmast is cracked clear through. I'd replace the booms to match. The jibbooms are okay, but I'd go with aluminum gaffs for the top sails as well…to keep it looking nice. Most of her lines and sheets were improperly stored when she came here and have rotted. She's a sailing replica, but unless you want a museum piece I'd replace her winches with powered ones, or you’ll have to pay a full crew, full time. Her galley's gutted; it wants a stove and fridge both. What use would you be putting her to?"
"A research vessel. Whales." Kirk replied. He was damned if he'd ever put an aluminum mast on this beauty. Might as well graft skunk cabbage to a rose.
"The Blowfolk! Now I know I want to sign on!"
"Blowfolk?" Jim blinked. "I like it, but what do the Cetaceans think? It sounds pejorative."
"It's a translation of one of their own collective names for themselves, Jim,” Spock responded. "There is a certain mysticism around their need to surface to breathe, something that is unique among the ocean dwelling creatures. The fact that intelligence resides only among marine mammals in these oceans did not escape their notice, and the early Cetaceans—"
"Later, please. I'd like to learn more about the ship right now." He felt Spock's acceptance and turned back to Demrun. "What else will she need, specific to a research vessel?"
"You'd want a power generator. There are good ones out now that take almost no space. Put in solars and a wind genny for back-ups, and even old-style batteries. Wire the cabins for terminals. I would install soundproofing as well, so your crew don't keep your scientists awake. Refinish the decks and add a drop platform on the stern to get to the water. You'd need a full set of sails, hers were ruined by exposure. A marine communicator. Desalination plant. Three or four weeks, she could be sailing again." Demrun blinked. "She's an old beauty. Care to come up and have a look?"
They poked around the huge ship for a couple of hours, Spock watching as Jim and Demrun opened every locker, checked every cabin, climbed into the bilge and inspected the engines. They climbed up into the rigging and checked the gaffs, and operated every winch, and inspected the plumbing. Spock was sure they poked a finger through every belay-pin hole and rubbed the tarnish off all of the cleats. Jim was getting more and more excited, passing little snippets back to Spock through the bond. I think she'll do, Spock. I really do think this is the ship for us.
"Ms. Shastakovisht, would you allow Jim and me a few minutes privacy, please." The woman vanished onto the deck, and they heard her going down the ladder. "Tell me again how you see people fitting into this space."
Jim outlined his ideas about where to house crew and researchers while Spock paced down the centre of the ship and looked again into all the rooms. He came back to Jim and passed him, walked into the aft suite and entered what would be his office. From there one door led aft and one to port. All four rooms were connected, with the small head, only a toilet and sink, between the two back rooms. He paced slowly back out and found Jim had gone above. Love?
A momentary pause, then Jim's thought came back, shy. I was afraid that if I followed you back there I'd want to christen the ship. Spock caught a hint of his meaning and felt his groin stir warmly. He climbed the short ladder to the deck and kissed Jim thoroughly.
"Let us negotiate."