Rear Admiral Garrison Corrado stared back into the widened eyes of Captain James T. Kirk, commander of the USS Enterprise and waited for a response. Seconds ticked by, literally, as Corrado noted the antique clock on his desktop ticking rhythmically in the silence. Corrado’s gaze slid from uncomfortably Kirk’s and stared at a point just past his shoulder.
The conference room was unoccupied except for Kirk, a padd and an empty coffee cup at his wrist. The room was so dark that Corrado could not see past Kirk’s shoulder. In contrast, the sun streamed an intense orange through Corrado’s glass walls as the sun tumbled down the western sky, preparing to slip past the Pacific horizon as night fell on San Francisco.
He took Kirk in again. Waited. Kirk’s chest had gone concave, shoulders pulled up with tension. He drew a breath, moved his lips to form a word. He closed his mouth and exhaled through his nose with an audible puff, clearly having difficulty processing what he’d just been told.
Corrado stilled his face. The man was too professional, polished, to let his consternation show. “Is there a problem here, Kirk?” He asked, his voice portraying just a hint of his true feelings.
Kirk drew breath again, licked his lips, stalling.
Finally, he spoke. “It’s only that I’m not so sure that he’d be the best fit.”
Corrado made a show of picking up his padd and scrolling through it. “According to your last review, you stated that Commander Spock should be fast-tracked for a command position. Are you now stating that you think he is indeed not suitable?”
Corrado saw Kirk wince. “No! That’s not what I mean at all. I mean, I do think he would be excellent in due time. I’m not quite sure he is well-enough seasoned and up to the task today.”
Corrado scrolled again. “Since under your command, you’ve recommended him for the Karagite Order of Heroism, a Medal of Honor on two different occasions, the Legion of Honor, a Palm Leaf-“
“The Vertumnus is a good ship, Jim. Miranda class and state-of-the-art at that, once she’s refitted. She’s going to be dedicated to science – not First Contact. Its right up Commander Spock’s alley and you know it. He will have carte blanche to pick his command team, and the head of each department. We’ll even rebuild the bridge to his personal specs.”
“And, there’s no one else? Surely- ”
“The number of people qualified to take her out I could count one hand, Jim.” He softened immediately after detecting the pained expression that briefly flitted across Kirk’s face, like a storm cloud propelled by a strong wind, rushing past the sun. “Fact is, Spock’s overdue for a promotion, and an officer with a record of accomplishments like his is long overdue for a command of his own. Think of all the officers he could mentor-”
“He’s got a dozen protégés on board -”
“All his scientific knowledge-”
“He’s published hundreds of papers…”
“He could help us recruit some of the top-tier talent at the Vulcan Science Academy either actively or simply by him being in that position alone – as an example and role model.”
“Spock’s nobody’s poster child. If the ‘fleet wants to recruit, they ought to hire more recruiters.”
“There is a lot at stake here. So much to be gained.”
“And so much to be lost! What about breaking up the best damned team the ‘fleet has ever seen?”
Corrado snorted at the man’s unflinching arrogance. “If you do say so yourself!”
“So said Nogura, the last time I came up for review. His words.” Kirk’s eyes had gone from pained to flinty and hard in less than a second during their exchange. His lips were set in a straight line.
Corrado took a breath, sat back and studied Jim Kirk. Kirk gazed back at him warily. This was exactly what Corrado had feared; Jim’s back was up. He was a bull, ready to charge. “Look. I’m going to level with you, and this is off the record. If this gets out I’ll have you strung up: There’s a very quiet little revolution going on on Vulcan these past twenty years Jim, and Spock is at the forefront. Spock’s a revolutionary, a superhero on Vulcan. He is legendary. Do you know who T’Prete Aleyuh-Bez is?”
“The T’Prete of Vulcan? Of course I do.”
“And T’Pau, S’Vonti, Sarek?”
“They’re asking questions. They want to know why their hero is not running his own ship, given his superior intellect. They want to know why no ship, besides the old Intrepid, has a Vulcan at her helm. They’re implying that we have a ‘separate but equal’ policy, Jim. And it’s really chapping Nogura’s ass. T’Pau herself travelled to Earth specifically to discuss the matter with him. That old woman has not left the planet in about ninety years, Jim. Not for anybody or anything. But she came. To advocate for Spock.”
From his demeanor, Corrado could tell that Kirk still resisted. He could see his gears turning, trying to come up with justification to not release his First. He carefully studied Kirk, calculated, and tried another angle.
“Jim. Why would you not want this for him? Do you really want to hold him back? Is it that you think you can’t do your job without him?”
Without physically moving, Kirk instantly fell back.
Corrado silently triumphed.
Kirk was still. The two men gazed at one another, two stags circling one another, warily.
Corrado mentally counted to ten, and moved in to finish the kill. “So you’ll inform him, then?”
Kirk nodded curtly.
“When will you do so? I’d like to have the Detailer’s office send him a package right away, and schedule a follow-up face-to-face.”
Kirk’s eyes flicked upwards, focused inward; browsing through an imaginary dayplanner, he assumed. “I’ll inform him tonight.”
“Then we’ll contact him tomorrow morning.”
Before Corrado could even acknowledge, his screen went black. He sat back and sighed. Nogura! He inwardly cursed his name. He dearly wished the old man would do his own dirty work.
Leonard McCoy had just emerged from the shower, toweling off when his buzzer sounded. A little curiosity spiked through him as he wrapped a towel around his waist, fresh steam from his hot shower wafting gently around him. There was a short list of people that would show up on his doorstep unannounced; Jibilo M’benga, Scotty or Jim. He bet himself that it was Scotty, because he’d just seen Jim at lunch, Jibilo was still on shift and he hadn’t seen Scotty in a couple of days, which was pretty rare. He made it across the small bathroom in three strides and hit the com.
It’s me, Bones, came the tinny sound of Jim Kirk through the speaker. Mmmph, he thought to himself. What’s up? To Jim he said, “Come on in. I’m in the head, I’ll be out in a second.”
He dragged a shampoo towel through his hair and made a few swipes through it with a wide-toothed comb. He slipped on his cushy slippers and shuffled out into his bed chamber where Kirk was waiting, a hangdog expression and decanter of Saurian brandy at the ready. Oh boy.
Kirk took in his appearance, giving him a rather clinical once-over. He wasn’t so sure that Jim had ever seen him in a state of undress and he suddenly thought maybe he should add some weight training to his light cardio workouts.
“What’s the matter?” He said spreading his arms and exposing his flat chest for closer inspection. “Never seen a hot stud before?”
Jim made a sound like “huh” that Len wasn’t too sure he was flattered by. He stepped behind his partition and dressed in cotton lounge pants and plain white T-shirt as he spoke. “So what do I owe the pleasure, Jim? Personal or professional?”
Jim’s voice muffled just slightly as he moved about the room, making himself at home. Leonard heard the sound of a chair being drawn back and Jim seating himself, and detected the faint chink of the decanter and two glasses being placed on the desk.
“A little of both.”
As Leonard seated himself opposite Jim, he detected the tension in his shoulders and the stiff way he held his neck. No wonder the man got headaches so often. He sat back and waited for Jim to speak his mind. While he waited he wondered what might be troubling Jim so suddenly. At lunch Jim has been his regular upbeat self. And that was no small feat given the last few days around this place. Life had returned to normal after the Janice Lester incident – but this past occurrence had really rattled Jim. Jim and the crew were a resilient lot, though.
In fact, just last night, many of the crew had gathered in the rec room, along with their fearless leader, and listened to an impromptu jam session consisting of Spock, who had traded in his harp for Yeoman Yamada’s guitar for the night; Uhura on keyboard and Riley on percussion. And Jim, the least musically-inclined person in the universe, even joined in with a set of maracas in one number, spurred on by Uhura and a couple of steins of good authentic German beer. His performance had been met with thunderous applause, not because he kept rhythm - mind you, but because he was such a good sport about it. They had all stayed for the party that kind of spontaneously formed after the concert and he, Jim and even Spock had been in high spirits as they made their way back to their quarters. There was no trace of that man in Jim Kirk right at this moment.
In fact, Jim had dipped his head and squeezed the back of his neck in an obvious attempt to alleviate the knot of tension there.
“They are going to promote Spock and give him his own ship. They are taking him away from me.”
McCoy couldn’t help himself. “Well hot damn, we finally get to be rid of him!”
Jim gave him a look that his Granpa called “the Stink-eye”.
“Oh come on, Jim! You knew it had to be just a matter of time. The guy’s a higher-up’s wet dream; brilliant, disciplined, well-respected, physically nearly unmatched, follows orders and then some. There’s not a section in the ‘fleet that hasn’t tried to woo him off this ship, you know that. Spock is like that hot chick with the big tits that every guy in the room automatically tries to bang. You know he won’t leave this ship; it’s his home.”
“He has no choice. They are giving him the Vertumnus.”
McCoy let out a low whistle. There’d been plenty of scuttlebutt about the Vertumnus. Everybody that was somebody was drooling over the chance to helm her. “Can’t you talk them out of it? Come on. A fella like you can charm a snake out of a tree.”
“He’s Nogura’s number one choice. And you know what that means.” Jim looked miserable.
He did. Nobody said ‘no’ to Nogura and lived well enough afterwards to tell about it. It was career suicide. “Wow. So what does Spock think about all this?”
“Haven’t told him yet.”
Already knowing the answer, McCoy asked, “And what do you think?” He mentally lit up his ‘session in progress’ sign.
“I think it’s a lousy idea. Worst I’ve heard in a long time. Spock doesn’t want command! I’m not even so sure he’s cut out for it.”
“Really? That why you put him in charge of the Galileo that time? Because you have no confidence in his abilities?”
“Oh come on, Bones! You were there and busted his chops the whole time! You told me he nearly had a mutiny on his hands!”
“He got us back home, Jim, when the odds were that he couldn’t.”
“You’re one for giving him grief about his inability to manage the crew.”
“And I was wrong. OK? I was wrong about Spock.”
“You willing to go on the record about that?”
They both chuckled, though a little forced. Each man helped himself to a little more brandy in the silence.
“Jim. Listen. The kid’s grown up since the Galileo 7 situation. That was, what? Over two years ago? He’s been through a lot; hell, we all have. He may not wear his heart on his sleeve, exactly, but Spock cares about and cares for this crew as much as you do. Did you know he knows every single crew member, down to the lowliest ensign, by name, rank, age, and place of origin?” Leonard could tell by Jim’s expression that he did not. “He’s knows what each person does and how well they do it. I daresay he’s got a helluva paternal instinct which is a basic instinct of any good leader. So maybe this is the next step for him.”
Jim actually looked more and more crestfallen as he spoke the last. “So you think I’m rationalizing.”
“Yeah, I do, Jim. Not saying he won’t make mistakes, but he’ll get better, just like you did.”
“I…just don’t think this is a good thing.” Jim looked like he had more to say as he rolled his glass between his palms.
“It’s not a good thing for you, you mean. Spock’s spoiled you rotten. Science officer and First all rolled into one – he can do anything and find out anything you ask of him at a moment’s notice. You won the lottery when you got that man, Jim. You afraid that you can’t manage without him?”
“I didn’t become the youngest captain in Starfleet on looks alone, Bones.”
“So what exactly is the real problem? Is it just that you’d miss him if he left you?”
The look in his eyes said that was exactly the problem.
“You know better than that, Jim.”
Jim rubbed the back of his neck again.
“When you gonna tell him?”
“Tonight. I need to catch him before he goes to bed. There’ll be something in his morning message batch and I want him to hear it from me first.”
“Guess you’d better get to it, then.”
Jim stood, chair scraping the floor. He turned without another word.
Jim turned back. “Yeah?”
“Try to look like you’re not going in front of a firing squad when you tell him, okay? This is a hell of a thing. Your friendship can survive this.”
“Yeah.” Jim passed through the doors, head hanging low.
Leonard sat back and blew out a heavy sigh. By god, he wouldn’t say it out loud, but he’d miss the bastard, something fierce. It was possible that he’d never see Spock again. And if he was feeling that bad, then he could understand how Jim was feeling.
He stood, stowed the brandy, placed the glasses in the ‘fresher and turned in for the night.
Sleep did not come. He tossed and turned.
Commander Spock silently moved through the corridors of the USS Enterprise, on a late-night mission. Jim had summoned him and for what, Spock did not know. Spock had assumed that Jim had planned on spending the night with him. He would have thought the matter could have waited until later this evening, perhaps in the form of ‘pillow talk’, as Jim would say. Spock found that he indeed did like this pillow talk. It was his preferred method of communicating with Jim.
He found the nearest lift and steered it to the deck where Jim was waiting. “Fourteen,” Spock quietly instructed.
Fourteen B was Jim’s unofficial ready room – since Enterprise was not equipped with one, the room where he worked when he had serious paperwork to do, or if he needed to reprimand some unfortunate crewman.
The lift doors slid open with their usual swish of air, depositing Spock on Deck 14. He made his way down the corridor.
Spock himself had certainly never needed to be disciplined by the Captain, but he could not shake the sense foreboding he would get when as a child, he was called up to the Headmaster’s office. Jim had not told him what the matter was in reference to, but somehow Spock got the impression that it was a personal matter but if it had been a personal matter than surely Jim would have arranged for them to meet in one of their quarters but –
Enough speculation. He’d find out soon enough. Spock arrived. His time sense told him that he was 4.2 minutes earlier than their agreed-upon time but Spock knew that Jim was already there and would not mind if he buzzed now.
He squared his shoulders, and signaled.
Come, came Jim’s voice over the com.
The doors opened and revealed Jim to him. The look on Jim’s face was the same stricken look he got when he lost a crew member. Before he could even register the feeling, a cold fist grabbed at Spock’s gut. “Jim?”
Jim stood in a way that was formal, ceremonial. “Commander Spock.” He raised his hand in a tight salute over his right brow. “It is my… duty to inform you that you are hereby being duly promoted to the rank of ….”
Spock thought he heard himself whisper, “No,” but he could not be sure. His mind, spirit and physicality scattered, split, and shattered in a nanosecond where he no longer recognized Jim or himself.
Jim’s voice faltered, a slight tremor audible. “of Captain.”
“Captain,” he protested.
“…of Captain,” Jim repeated, stronger this time, “and that the Admiralty hereby considers you a candidate for your own command of the USS Vertumnus, Science Vessel, to be readied for boarding within the next ten standard days.”
Jim’s eyes were full of sad affection, regret. “Spock.”
“I shan’t leave you.”
“I have no desire-“
“It’s done, Spock. It’s done.”
Spock stared at his Captain, bewildered. Leave Jim Kirk? How is that possible? May as well have asked him to exist without drawing breath into his lungs. “There must be some way in which we can continue on as we are! Jim! I have no wish to part with thee!”
“Nor I you. But duty calls. It is greater than just you or I.”
“Is there nothing you can do?”
Jim came around the desk, shaking his head. He gently grasped Spock by the shoulders. “This is my fault. I recommended you for your own command ages ago.”
“Although I’ve told you time and time again I did not want to command.”
“I thought it was just modesty.” Jim released his shoulders. “I’m sorry. I sponsored you before you and I became…” Jim cut himself off. As an official duty room, every word and gesture was recorded and could be reviewed by brass one day. And Starfleet didn’t know about them. Could never know.
Spock nodded, defeated. He turned to go.
“Spock I’ll try to put this right. I’ll make some calls, do what I can. I will. I promise you that.”
A glimmer of hope surfaced in Spock. “Aye, sir.”
He slipped out of the conference room to retreat to the safety of his quarters.
A man of his word, Jim spent the next several hours on the comm. He spent a testy twenty minutes arguing with Nogura, and to no avail. He tried to reach Sarek, but he was out of range. He even tried T’Pau, the woman herself. That was an exercise in humility; Jim had thought Spock was stubborn and unmovable. T’Pau made Spock look like a pushover.
To Jim it was certainly all a revelation. Onboard, his word was law, and he was obeyed without question by a loyal crew. But in the grand scheme of the Federation, Jim was reminded that he was only one man among many. It was a jagged pill to swallow.
He turned off his view screen, stood, and headed down to see Spock.
Spock sat in his meditation nook, attempts at meditation long abandoned. He had moved from his knees to his bottom. He hugged his raised knees to his body, comforting himself.
This was wrong. He felt wrong. He pondered the cruelty of a universe that would bring Jim Kirk into his life, and finally into his bed, into his arms for such as short time and then yank him away. It seemed like ‘only yesterday’, as the human expression went, that he retrieved Jim from the Tholian web and the two of them had come together, at last, in a burst of relief, passion, and adoration.
Spock had become addicted to Jim. In Jim’s presence he would often feel biochemical pulses shoot through his brain that felt like a chemical dependency. It frightened him that he was helpless in the face of it.
His door opened, and the objection of his affection strode in. Taking in Spock’s position on the floor with tired eyes, Jim glided to a stop in front of him. He offered both hands down and pulled Spock up into his arms. Spock came easily into them and the two of them stood in the niche, clinging to one another, swaying slightly.
“I didn’t make much headway, but I’ll keep trying.”
“I know you will. Jim. Jim, I love you.”
“I love you. Can I take you to bed?”
They drew apart and Jim led him by the hand to Spock’s bed. Soon they were intertwined, moving together, making love with fervor unmatched, both knowing their days were most likely numbered.
Spock gave the matter a serious try too, and called everyone Jim had called. Spock tried every angle he could think of. He even persuaded his mother to appeal to his father to try to sway T’Pau. They held onto hope for days, but in the end, there was no swaying Nogura or T’Pau. Jim suspected that both he and Spock were being punished at this point, simply for having the audacity to challenge both of them.
In the end, T’Pau and Nogura had double-teamed them and ‘ran the clock out’.
It was a done deal.
Nyota moved into the flow of the crowd slowly streaming into the assembly hall, the anticipation in the hallway so thick you could a cut it with a knife. Yesterday the Captain had called for a joint meeting of both the command team and of the science department, something that occurred rarely enough to be called “out of the ordinary”.
Of course, the speculation began as soon as the announcement was made. Gossip was both a pro and a con of living in such a small and insular community; everybody knew somebody that knew you and they knew what you were doing, who you were doing it with, and when and where you did it. Some folks were known to get a betting pool going about who was doing this or that. Hey – you had to occupy yourself some kind of way in the long expanses of space between planets. Nobody was immune; not even Captain Kirk and his First Officer. The rumors about them….
Nyota recognized the piled-high up-do of her friend aStaal up ahead, and called out to her. aStaal turned at the sound her name, and waited up. She beamed at Uhura, her rather round face forming a perfect circle when she smiled, orangey-peach skin glowing above her red tunic. She wore pants today, not her mini, which actually made her look quite small, in fact rather child-like. “’Lo, Nyota – my, you have been scarce lately!”
“Oh, I have been scarce?” Nyota asked, linking arms with her petite friend. “I rather think it’s been you who has disappeared! What’s this I hear about you hooking up with Hikaru Sulu in a very secluded corner of the greenhouse that very few people even know is there?”
“Well,” aStaal said coyly, “I am in the botanical club, you know. Membership has its privileges!”
“Yes I know a thing or two about Hikaru’s privileges, too!”
The two ladies giggled knowingly.
They made their way to the right middle section, and settled into two seats.
“So,” Nyota said. “Two guesses as to what this could be about.”
“Wellllll,” aStaal said. “Seems like to me that the highest common denominator between the two groups is Mr. Spock,” she whispered, looking around guiltily for spreading gossip.
“Yes, I agree. Either he’s stepping down as Department Head or First Officer, or he’s being promoted.”
“And if he gets promoted then he will be leaving us, and oh, Nyota, I do not want that to happen at all. Such a handsome man, and so smart. He gives me chills.”
Nyota chuckled, “Me he gives fever, honey!”
“You know who else he is giving fever to is our Captain,” aStaal said, looking around again.
“Stop it. That’s been going around for a long time. It’s not even true.”
“Oh it is!”
“I work with both of them on that tiny little bridge all day,” Nyota whispered as the room began to quiet as the captain appeared and strolled up to the front. “I’d know.”
“I heard that that is why they are splitting them up. Somebody spilled the legumes about them and the fleet doesn’t like it.”
“Who’d you hear that from?”
aStaal looked as though she had more to say but the room came to a very abrupt quiet as Mr. Spock also strode to the front of the assembly with his captain.
Captain Kirk gazed over the crowd expectantly, waiting for all heads up and eyes on him. “Well,” he said. Nyota was often startled by the softness of Kirk’s voice. So smooth and gentle. “I’ll just get down to it because we all have a lot on our plates today.” Kirk turned toward his First Officer, staring into his eyes for about one beat before turning back to address the crew. “It is with pride and with great sadness that I announce to you today that our own Commander Spock will soon be leaving us.”
A collective gasp went up, followed by stillness. Even though the foremost rumor was that indeed Mr. Spock was leaving, it was still shocking see the rumor come to fruition. aStaal and Nyota looked at each other.
“Mr. Spock,” Kirk carried on, acknowledging the collective gasp with a half-nod, “has been promoted to the rank of Captain, and will take command of, and see to the crewing of…”
Uhura could almost hear mental gears turning all around her – as people briefly considered joining Spock or staying.
“…the newest and finest ship in the fleet, the USS Vertumnus. She sails in 100 days and so Mr. Spock will be departing in ten days to see to his new ship. Please join me in wishing Commander Spock well on his new enterprise… pun intended.” Kirk smiled his sweet smile but he looked a little pained. He applauded and the crew picked it up a split second later. It was thunderous.
Uhura, a sudden stab a pain of her own running through her heart, smiled as Spock bent slightly at the waist and brought his head down, a gesture, perhaps subconsciously, of extreme humility. That’s one of the reason she loved him.
After the applause died down, the Captain half-turned toward Spock, expectantly.
Spock swallowed, Adam’s apple bobbing. “It was been my honor to serve with Captain Kirk, the distinguished members of the bridge crew and the Sciences. I wish you all well. And… I thank you.” Spock faltered, perhaps the first awkward moment that Nyota had ever seen.
The crew waited for a bit, expecting more forthcoming, but evidently that was all Spock had to say.
“So be sure to join us on Observation Deck One next Sunday night at 1900, where we will…” Kirk too, faltered, his voice trembling a bit. “…say our goodbyes. Mr. Sulu will be acting as First Officer and Ms. Patel will be acting as Science Head in the interim, until we can get those positioned filled on a permanent basis. Dismissed.”
Nyota rose with her friend and they made their way out. She felt a touch on her elbow and turned to see Chekhov at her side. “Wow!” He quietly said, pitched low enough to blend in with the murmur of the dispersing crowd.
The girls murmured in agreement but other than that remained silent as they filed out. They were too professional to let it go beyond that in this setting.
“Wanna get some coffee with us?” Nyota asked.
Chekhov understood that this was code for ‘you wanna go and talk about this?’
“You bet,” he responded. “Hello, aStaal.”
The three of them slowly moved through the dissipating crowd, toward the mess to enjoy one another’s company.
James Kirk usually enjoyed ship’s night. It was a time to unwind, let his guard down temporarily, a time to look back on his daily accomplishments with a sense a satisfaction, a time to look forward to tomorrow with a sense of hope. Most importantly, ship’s night was a time to spend with his best friend, his lover and the center of his universe.
Tonight was not a night to enjoy; it was night to be hated, despised. This night was taking Spock away from him.
They lay together, in each other’s arms, sated from making love, each listening to the other breathe.
Jim was aware of the old clock on his far wall, ticking the time away. At 0400, Spock would catch a special shuttle that had been dispatched just for him. His clothes and other belongings were packed. He need only rise, shower and dress.
Jim felt a spasm of pain at the thought. He leaned forward and captured Spock’s lips in his, sucking of the full lower lip, reveling in the taste. Impossible to think that this time tomorrow that he could not do this. He released him but kept his arms around loosely him.
“I’m sorry,” Jim apologized for the one hundredth time.
Spock had already forgiven him for his part in the sequence of events that led to his departure. He knew that Jim intended only to praise and honor him in his reports back to Starfleet. As with all things in regard to Spock, Jim had only acted out of love.
“I know you did everything in your power, Jim, as did I. What is, is. We will find a way to make this work. What choice do we have?”
“I know. But still,” Jim said. He reached up and stroked Spock’s soft hair. He smoothed it back and tucked some behind his ears. He pushed the bangs off his forehead. It was one of Jim’s favorite things to do. With his hair pushed back, Spock looked so human, so vulnerable, boy-like. To Jim, this was the inner Spock, the tender-hearted little boy that protected his softness in a hard Vulcan shell. It was the Spock that only Jim Kirk got to see.
Although Jim’s quarters were dark, Jim could sense Spock’s eyes on him, a void among the whites of his eyes. “What are you thinking, right at this moment?”
“That I love you,” Spock replied softly.
Spock had never said those words to him. Jim knew that he did, without a shadow of a doubt, but to hear those words spoken from those lips... Jim felt a sharp thrill rush through him, like a firecracker rising in the sky and bursting inside his chest. “I love you.” He pulled Spock to him and hugged tight. “We’ll have sub-space for a while, message blasts.”
“It will not be the same,” Spock said, not even bothering to disguise in his voice the misery he felt. He threw his leg over Jim’s hip, wrapping himself around Jim. He buried his face in Jim’s hair.
The two held on to each other, both refusing to waste time together sleeping.
However, time finally ran out for them.
Spock rose, and made use of Jim’s facilities. He dressed, and combed his hair in the dim light of Jim’s quarters. He brushed his bangs smooth using Jim’s ornate hairbrush, watching himself in Jim’s vanity mirror as Jim rose and retrieved a small black velvet bag from his nightstand and moved over to his love. He revealed to Spock the contents of the bag. It glinted even in this poor light.
Spock’s eyes flashed with recognition at the dilithium crystal, and the hand brushing his hair stilled. He returned the brush to the dresser and met Jim’s eyes in the mirror.
Jim had had Scotty slice the crystal from the very heart of his beloved Enterprise. He had had his Chief Engineer mount it in a platinum setting. Scotty had presented it to him with an understanding look in his eye, and he had not asked who the pendant was for. There was no need.
Jim lifted the pendant in place and closed the clasp. He wrapped his arms around Spock from behind, and pressed his cheek against Spock. The two of them gazed at one another, at their embrace, both memorizing the way it looked, the way it felt, to get them through the long absences to come.
Leonard McCoy stood with his colleagues at the ungodly hour of 4:00, in full dress uniform. They were all there – Uhura, Sulu, Chekhov and Scotty, in a row. The shuttle was fully powered and idling as the pilot patiently waited for a party of one to board.
The doors hissed open and they came to attention. Mr. Spock strode in, a small black bag slung over his shoulder, the captain one step behind him. At the sight of them all assembled there, they both paused. Jim took Spock by the elbow and escorted him to where they were waiting.
Jim smiled, though he was clearly miserable. He had bags under his eyes. “Thank you all, my friends. You didn’t have to do this.”
McCoy spoke. “Hell, Jim, we just came to make sure he was leaving,” although to his own ears it did not have the spunk he wanted it to have. The others chuckled good-naturedly anyway. It helped break up the tension, a little.
“Mr. Spock,” Uhura said, “we’re sure gonna miss you, Sugar.” She flung herself up and into his arms. Spock gingerly wrapped his arms around her, and held for just a moment.
There wasn’t anything left to say, really. They’d all said there formal good-byes last night. McCoy finally called a truce on his and Spock’s eternal battle by sticking out his hand. Spock looked down at it, faintly taken aback. He glanced up at McCoy’s face, checking to see if this were some kind of ‘gotcha’. McCoy left his hand hanging. Finally Spock took it. Spock’s hand was hot in his, and each squeezed the other’s hand for a brief moment before letting go. McCoy winked at Spock. Spock raised an eyebrow at the gesture but made no smart comment.
One by one, the rest said their final goodbyes, the mood somber. Each drifted away, some to get ready for alpha shift, and some, like McCoy to go back to bed. McCoy lingered in the doorway, and watched the two men. He was worried about how both of them would adjust, Jim mostly. The two had gotten powerfully close. McCoy wondered just how close.
As McCoy watched from a distance, Jim and Spock embraced. They spoke for a moment. What final words he said to Spock McCoy could not make out. He made a mental note to talk to Jim in a day or two about Spock. Hell- he’d heard the rumors too but he assumed they were just hogwash because he would have thought that Jim would have leveled with him.
The two men separated. Jim quickly strode away without a final glance back. Spock watched him walk away, his full attention on Jim. Spock turned and boarded the shuttle, doors clacking shut behind him.
Jim arrived in front of him and stopped, his eyes bright with unshed tears. McCoy couldn’t remember a time when he’d seen Jim look so miserable. Jim had a look on his face like ‘help me’. McCoy sighed. He put his arm around Jim and led him away as Spock’s shuttle departed.