Old Friends by Djinn

The hallway of the hotel was opulent, more extravagant than Chapel expected. But then Jim was a hero, the rescuers of whales, the savior of Earth. Nothing was too good for him. Plus the visiting officer quarters had been full and his old apartment still sealed--some parts of Starfleet were slower to catch on to the "Kirk's not a criminal anymore" idea than others.

She found his room, set her hand over the annunciator to let him know she was there, and was surprised when the door slid open--he'd keyed it for her? "Howdy, sailor," she called in her sultriest voice.

"I bet you say that to all the guys." He was sitting in a chair near the window, his face in shadows, holding a drink that looked half empty. His voice was anything but light.

"You okay?"

"I just saved the planet. What else would I be but okay?" He threw his drink back; the glass was empty when he set it down on the table next to him.

She took a deep breath. Surly Jim was not her favorite. "Well, I guess there's the fact that the cute little blonde ran off to the science trainee program and left you all alone. That might make a guy a little cranky."

He waved that thought away with a grunt.

"She was a cutie."

"She was. But not my cutie. Moving on."

"Okay, then. What else could it be? Spock's back to normal, right? Or more normal than not?"

"I wondered how long it would take you to ask about him."

"Wow. This is fun." Chapel walked over to the bar, poured herself a vodka tonic.

"Help yourself, Chris. It's on Starfleet Command, after all."

"Thanks, I will." She turned to study him, still unable to see much of his face.

"Charlie with you?" Jim's voice turned even surlier when he asked about her husband. Her complete ass of a husband.

"No. Charlie is off world. Charlie is undoubtedly sticking his dick in some other woman, because that's what Charlie does, and you tried to tell me that, and I was too infatuated to hear you."

Jim leaned forward. "Really?" His voice was a combination of snide and satisfied.

"Yes, really. You were right. I was wrong. My marriage is a joke." Chapel grabbed the bottle of Scotch and walked over to refill his glass, leaving him the bottle. "You know how to tell if your marriage is over?"

"She moves all her stuff out while you're off camping and sends the intention to not renew via interoffice comms?"

Against her will, Chapel laughed. "Okay, you definitely win on that one."

He held up his glass as if in triumph. "So when did you realize your marriage was over?"

"Well"--she sat down on the couch across from him--"it was when I was facing certain death, sitting with the father of my former crush--please note I said 'former'--and I realized he was better company than my husband would have been. It was when I saw a stream of traffic clogging up the channels saying 'I love you,' or 'We'll be okay,' and I got nothing from my jerk of a husband. It was when I realized that I wasn't happy he was safe off world, that I was pissed as hell he wasn't going to die a horrible death like I was."

"Yeah, those are all good indications." Jim laughed softly, then his expression sobered. "I did try to tell you."

"I know you did. I just thought you were..."

"Jealous?"

She nodded.

"I was with Antonia."

"So of course you weren't jealous."

"I was jealous as hell. But it wasn't my place to convince you that you were making a mistake if you were so goddamned in love with him you couldn't see what was right in front of your face." He shrugged, his mouth tight.

"See, that's what I don't understand. You...jealous. When you were with Antonia. You chose her." She couldn't say the part that followed. Couldn't say that he'd chosen Antonia over her.

But it sat there between them like an entity unto itself. The truth. The truth she'd not faced, that she'd run to Charlie to forget. Now it was back. Jim hadn't picked her.

"Why did you choose her, Jim? I was there. We were having fun."

He stared at her as if she were an idiot, anger raw in his voice when he said, "You were in love with Spock. I was a diversion. You told me that."

"I told you that after you said we were just old friends who hooked up occasionally."

"I was drunk when I said that. I was scared."

"Oh, bull. Captain Kirk does not get scared of someone like me." She stood and walked away from him, toward the bar, considered leaving but then heard him getting up, the sound of his drink being set down.

"Chris, I don't want to fight." He slid his arm around her, pressed his chest to her back. "The past is the past. We can't change it. Not any of it."

"I know." She finished her drink, let him take the glass from her and set it on the bar. "So, we hook up again?"

Why did that sound so bad now? She'd come here for just that. A simple, easy interlude with a man she cared for. Respected.

Loved. God help her, she loved him and had never told him.

"It was me," she said, her voice coming out as a croak. "The spacedock doors opening. I did that."

"You?" He turned her around, stared at her. "Command didn't find out, did they?"

She shook her head. No one had suspected. No one had questioned. Only Jan had figured out what she was doing, and she'd done her best to cover Chapel's tracks. And her best was damned good.

"I didn't know. I thought Scotty had pulled one of his miracles out of his ass."

"Wrong ass."

He let his hands slip down her back, rubbed the posterior in question. "Oh, I think it's the right one."

She laughed, then she leaned in and kissed him slowly. "You were never just a diversion."

"You were never just a hook up." He kissed her back gently, his mouth easy on hers. Then he pulled her closer, and he tightened his grip on her arms and pushed her toward what she supposed was the bedroom. The feeling of the bed behind her knees, of being eased down onto it, confirmed the location, and then she didn't care anymore where they were because he was pulling off her uniform and kissing her again.

She tore his uniform off, an exercise he did not make any easier as he went to work on her, lips and tongue and fingers exploring places they hadn't been since he'd chosen Antonia over her.

She tensed.

He must have sensed it because he stopped, met her eyes. "What?"

"Did you love her?" she whispered.

"I don't know." He seemed to realize that wasn't the answer she needed. "Antonia was the life I never had. The normal life. Safe."

"But she was a woman. And you either loved her or you didn't." The real question was did he love Chapel, but she wasn't going to be pathetic enough to ask it. Hopefully, she wouldn't be.

"I loved her. For a while, I did love her." He eased away, giving them some physical space so they could talk. He was always smart that way. "But then you married Charlie and I was not a happy boy. Antonia caught on rather quickly. She did not like you, Commander."

"She didn't even know me."

He shrugged.

"She was so beautiful." It had hurt how beautiful she was. Chapel knew she wasn't in the same league. Attractive, handsome, appealing. All good words. But never beautiful.

"She hated you because I loved you."

There he'd said it. Only...past tense. "Loved?"

He smiled, a crooked grin. "Caught that, did you?"

She nodded.

"It's possible that present tense would be more appropriate."

"Is it?" She climbed on top of him and kissed him roughly, making him pay for teasing her.

He didn't seem to mind. Instead he eased her back, onto him, and she had to let him go, had to sit up, throw her head back, and ride him the way she'd done when they were just friends who fucked.

She came almost violently, felt him pulling her down, tangling his fingers in her hair, the pain pleasurable as he kissed her harshly.

"I hated Charlie," he said between kisses, his voice almost guttural. "I hated that he was inside you, doing this, taking you."

She wanted to tell him Charlie never had been, but of course they both knew better. "It was never like this. I never stopped loving you. Only...he never resented that. I'm not sure he even knew, or if he did, he never cared. He wasn't going to stop his extracurricular activities."

"That made me happy, once you'd married him. That he'd end up hurting you." He sighed. "That made me happy, Chris."

"I know. It made me happy to think how bored you'd become living a 'normal' life."

He shook his head, his smile rueful. "What a pair we are."

"Yeah, real prize packages." She curled into him, nuzzled his neck. "I've missed you." They'd spent so many years in each other's orbits, sometimes as on-again off-again lovers, other times just as friends. The past few years, with him gone entirely, had been lonely. Even with a husband and all her husband's friends.

Friends who'd always looked at her a little pityingly.

"I've missed you, too. I wanted to call you--after David..." He closed his eyes, exhaled slowly. "Just to talk."

"I'm here now. We can talk now."

"Not about that. Closed subject."

She shook her head and smiled. "Not if you have the right accesses." She could see he wasn't convinced she was willing to break Starfleet's directive--did he think she was a plant testing his ability to keep his mouth shut? "Jim, you covered up the truth about Roger. I owe you."

He seemed to relax, seemed to accept that.

She kissed him on the cheek, let her lips linger as she kissed her way to his ear. "Here, alone with me, you can talk about anything. I'll listen. I'll care. I'll understand--or as much as I can understand the pain you carry. That you may always carry." She rubbed his chest lightly, over his heart. So much pain this man carried already. So many deaths, personal and not. But a child. A son.

"Later," he said, and she sensed how close he was to breaking, how much the past few months of death and exile had worn on him. "I'll tell you later." He pulled her back on top of him, kissed her frantically, and she didn't fight him. "Just fuck me. Just love me."

"I will. I always will." She was prepared to give him whatever he wanted, but he flipped her over, began to move more slowly, more deliberately, as if by controlling this he'd gain back control of himself.

His smile was tender as he moved in and out of her, and it grew as she began to moan, as the feeling built inside her and she clutched at him.

"I love you," she said as she came, and he said it back as he gave up control, as he pounded her and cried out with his own release.

They were both breathing hard as he rolled off her and pulled her into his arms, kissing her hair and her cheek.

"Don't go back to him," Jim said. "It was a term marriage, right?"

She nodded. She'd known somehow that it wouldn't last, that it wasn't good.

"Break up with him by interoffice comms. I guarantee he'll remember it."

She laughed softly. "I sent him the intent to not renew just before I came."

"Ballsy move. What if I'd been otherwise occupied?"

"I considered that, actually." She snuggled in closer, glad he'd been free--elated he'd been free and that he still wanted her. "But I'm doing this for me, Jim. Not for you. For me. Because Charlie's not the right man."

He met her eyes, his expression relaxed. "Am I?"

"I think maybe. But don't really know. We've never given that a chance, have we?"

"No, we never have."

"I'd sure like to find out, though." She smiled at how easily that came out.

He smiled just as readily. "I'd like that, too."

FIN