WARNING: If it wasn't clear from the summary, this is an Alternate ending (on top of an alternate universe?) to the Trek 2009 movie, where Spock Prime did not meet his younger self face to face and encourage him to stay on the Enterprise. As a result of this, Spock attempts to go through with his resignation after all. Also, I should note, this is written in a much lighter hand than I usually wield! Hope you enjoy!

~*~

Verbal Jump-Rope

By: Ragdoll / Keshka

...

"What do you mean you're resigning?"

"I believe my meaning was quite clear, Captain."

"No, I'm pretty sure I must have space dust in my ears, because I could swear that you just told me you're leaving this ship. As in, permanently. As in, you might want to start explaining now before I call security and have you marched down to sickbay post-haste for physical and psychological examination."

Spock, currently in the process of packing his single Starfleet-issue luggage carrier, furrowed his eyebrows at his commanding officer in a typical Vulcan frown. He was dressed, as usual, in science blues, hunched over a small dresser in the corner of his quarters, which were nearly half empty of all his personal belongings, the other half strewn in slight disarray across the room's small side-table. Jim, staring at him from the mesh divider between the sleeping alcove and the office area, tried not to be lured into looking around him with anything approaching obsessively disturbing interest.

Okay, one peek at the carving on the wall depicting some long-forgotten Vulcan God, looking quite intimidating in raven black robes. But it was just one quick glance. He couldn't help it. All things related to Spock seemed to fascinate him these days. Not even the man's blatantly outrageous claim of supposed resignation could knock that curiosity out of his commanding officer.

Seeing him momentarily distracted, Spock used the moment to finish unloading the last drawer in his dresser, straightening up to attention with admirable grace. Jim had to hand it to him. Nothing seemed to keep Spock down. Not even threats of having him carted off in disgrace and leaving him to McCoy's tender mercies had made a dent. And that kind of courage (stupidity) took balls. Or a deep-seated masochistic streak.

Jim tried not to think about what this said about him and his long-standing friendship with the Enterprise's new chief medical officer.

"I can provide you with an explanation, if you prefer, Captain, though I fail to see why you find it necessary."

"You fail to – what?"

"Would you like me to repeat the sentence?"

"You've got to be kidding me!" He stared hard at his obnoxiously frustrating First, hands on his hips, just waiting. It occurred to him several seconds later that he was actually waiting for a punch line that wasn't likely to come anytime soon. Spock was a Vulcan, after all. His punch lines were somewhat more literal and likely to bruise than the average Human's was.

"Vulcan's do not 'kid'."

"You don't really think I'll accept this, do you?" He asked, flapping a hand incredulously at the other. "A Captain has the right to refuse any request for transfer pending a full report citing any and all relevant reasons."

But Spock was unmoved. "Yes sir, I have prepared such a report." He produced a marked datapad with a speed that made Jim suspect he'd secretly had it hidden away in his pocket, although it may have been on the desk. Either way, he didn't budge his hands one bit from where they rested firmly at his sides.

"I won't read that," he scowled, trying to incinerate the datapad with his eyes. "And there's no way in hell I'm approving this request either."

"Captain," Spock began, with that particular twitch in his eyebrow that always seemed to indicate that Jim had managed to successfully burrow under his skin once again. The Captain tried not to feel unduly pleased by this, seeing as he hadn't actually meant to do it this time. "Jim. You misunderstand me. This is not a request for transfer. I am resigning my commission with Starfleet. The Enterprise is currently in dry dock pending repairs and there are no remaining required duties from our last mission. You cannot accept or deny my transfer – only Starfleet command may do that."

Speechless, Jim gaped at him, for once completely without words.

"I would appreciate your understanding in this matter, Captain," Spock continued. "I have already spoken to Admiral Pike concerning this issue and he –"

"Busted your ass back to Ensign I hope!"

Spock blinked at him, taken aback. "No. He expressed his regret that I would be leaving the service, but assured me he understood my reasoning."

"Well I sure as hell don't, so you better start explaining!"

Spock proffered the datapad again, intoning, "As I have said, I prepared my report based on the assumption that you would require –"

Jim waved his hands through the air rapidly, backing away from the datapad as though it contained explosives. "Aht! I already told you I'm not reading that! Just tell me Spock, in your own words, why the hell you think leaving Starfleet is at all 'reasonable'."

"I should think that would be obvious," the Vulcan said, eyeing him pointedly as if to say, 'obvious to everyone but you'. Jim rolled his eyes at him.

"Well apparently not, so quit with the smart remarks and just tell me, would ya." Damn, he thought, I just barked at someone for mouthing (eyeing?) off to me. I sound like one of the academy instructors. No, wait. I sound like my mother.

This train of thought was so traumatizing that he had to take a moment to readjust his world-view before tuning back into the conversation.

"…the losses facing what remains of my people, it is only logical that I join them in their efforts to reestablish a colony and preserve our species."

Oh. Well, Spock was right about one thing. It should have been obvious.

"Furthermore, I find myself somewhat curious about your apparent resistance to my request. It cannot have escaped your notice that the two of us have repeatedly failed to establish a mutual understanding that would result in a productive environment aboard this ship."

"You mean we piss each other off like nobody's business."

"Essentially."

"That's not news Spock, I piss everyone off. Ask Bones. The stories that man could tell you…"

"I have found that is it generally not wise to approach Dr. McCoy in instances where I wish to achieve a logical understanding of any given situation."

"Meaning you two also piss each other off."

"Indeed."

Jim sighed, thoroughly put out by this entire conversation. "Look Spock, I can understand from an intellectual standpoint how leaving the ship to help your people would be the necessary – and maybe even the right – thing to do." Actually, he could see that from more than just the intellectual standpoint. Not that he was about to admit it. "…But, I think you're making a big mistake."

"Thank you for your uninvited observation of my personal decisions Captain, but your opinion is not required here."

Jim frowned, a sudden thought occurring to him. "Have you talked to Uhura about this?"

The slight stiffening in Spock's shoulders gave Jim hope that maybe he wasn't as blasé about this course of action as he'd appeared. "Lieutenant Uhura is aware of my decision and respects my need to fulfill my obligations to my people."

Damn. He'd been hoping for something more along the lines of, 'I told her, she beat the crap out of me, now I'm running scared before she recovers enough to do it again'.

"Accepted it just like that, did she?" He was seriously disappointed in his communications officer. She obviously didn't know the worth of the catch she'd just thrown away, but provided he could get Spock to drop this ridiculous idea about leaving the Enterprise, Jim thought he'd be more than happy to pick up where she'd left off.

"Captain, I have no intentions of discussing the particulars of my relationship with Lieutenant Uhura, with you."

"Tough. You want off this ship you're gonna have to discuss anything with me I damn well please, and if I have to hold you here at phaser-point to keep that promise, believe me, I won't hesitate. I might even invite security to join the fun if your hand strays anywhere near my neck or shoulder."

Spock stared at him, clearly at a loss for words to explain the irrational behavior of his (still)commanding officer. Jim tilted his head up and stared at the ceiling, wondering which tack to take first. There were so many. He decided it was probably best not to mention that if Spock was off-ship it was going to be significantly harder for Jim to seduce him. That might not go over well. In fact, it might reinforce his desire to bail out before his Captain could get his sticky hands anywhere near his person with such obviously less-than-innocent intentions.

Well, maybe they were a little bit innocent. Jim thought he'd at least want to cuddle after the seriously hot sex part. That was innocent, wasn't it?

"Spock, what is your relationship with Uhura? And I don't mean your professional relationship either. I want all the unpleasant details, and none of that 'oh, we're just friends' crap. I was there in that transporter room too, you know."

A thundercloud appeared over Spock's brow and Jim tried not to be overtly charmed by how easily readable it made his stoic Vulcan First appear.

"I will not submit myself to this undeserved critique of my actions. I admit that my behavior in the transporter room was highly unprofessional, and I am willing to file a formal report citing my dereliction of duty and breach of regulations, if that is your wish, but –"

"No! No. Dammit Spock, I'm not trying to get you in trouble, I just want to know what the two of you are to each other! Can't you unbend for five minutes and just answer one of my questions without having to play verbal jump-rope with me first?"

The Vulcan hesitated, and Jim had the distinct impression that the Vulcan had been enjoying his 'verbal jump-rope' and was not at all pleased at being asked to give it up. Finally he saw the dark head bow in apparent acquiescence.

"Nyota and I are – quite good friends, Captain. Jim. We share a variety of personal interests." Jim let the silence stretch, waiting. If Spock were a human, he'd already have given in to his discomfort. As it was, it took him a good twenty seconds longer before he caved. "And we occasionally share – interests – outside the realm of friendship, but we have always considered discretion of the utmost concern and have in no way allowed this to impact –"

"So what you're saying is – you're friends with benefits?"

"I – sir?"

"You and Uhura are close friends who occasionally share something more, for either expediency or comfort, but without major romantic leanings."

"Somewhat – bare of the particulars of the situation, Jim, but essentially correct."

Well, blast it all. If that was the case, and Uhura had already signed off on this, and Pike had practically shoved Spock out the door, what hope did he have of convincing Spock of the colossal error in judgement that Jim knew he was committing?

Maybe it would just be easier to admit he'd had a quick encounter of the temporal kind with Spock's older, far wiser counterpart, who insisted that he and Spock needed each other to fulfill their greatest potential. Hell, if the universe came to an instantaneous end because of it, at least he could say he'd stopped Spock from leaving.

But no. Even he wasn't that careless. Or desperate. Yet.

He pondered a little bit more.

"All right Spock. All right. Let's say – I'm Uhura."

The beat of silence following that pronouncement could have frozen antimatter. "I beg your pardon?"

Jim struggled valiantly to suppress his smile at the affront in that mostly impassive voice, aware that it would probably get him a fat lip with anyone else this side of the galaxy. With Spock it might be worse. He might just walk out, resignation in tow. And the closest phaser was a good two rooms away. "I'm Uhura, Spock. She of the long black hair and bedroom eyes. Pretend I'm her."

"I fail to see the purpose in imagining you to be someone you are not."

"Oh for – Spock, just do it, all right? Don't force me to make it an order."

Spock's look clearly said he was beginning to doubt Jim was in complete control of his faculties.

"Okay. Let's say, hypothetically of course, that you and I are long-time friends with an occasional side-serving of more, and, unlike the real deal, I don't understand why it is you have to leave. With practically no words of explanation and zero notice, by the way, and merely on the off chance that one more Vulcan is going to make a fat lot of difference in the grand scheme of your races continuation. So go on, explain it to me. In detail. Use graphic illustrations if you have to."

Jim was fairly certain that if Spock had had another datapad – one not containing his letter of resignation and subsequent explanation – he might actually have whipped it out and began typing in the configuration of a pie chart specifically designed to show his Captain just how complicated the entire affair could be.

"Captain, aside from the contribution my scientific capabilities could make to a newly established colony –"

"Irrelevant. Starfleet has the best engineers and environmental design specialists already assigned to the Vulcan Relocation Project."

" – and even discounting my responsibilities in regards to expanding the now quite-limited gene-pool available with which to propagate our species –"

"Redundant. A donation made via good old-fashioned self... er… propagation… would work just as efficiently."

" – and assuming that any subsequent children resulting from this responsibility would require a stable environment in which to be raised –"

"Unnecessary. With a population of ten thousand, any children resulting from the kind of 'stable environment' you're suggesting would be raised in a community effort with very little input required from any single parent. Actually, in this case, marrying some woman just to provide a home for your kids would be counterproductive – the ideal goal would be to have as many children with as many different women as possible to better equalize population growth and reduce genetic complications in future generations."

" – I would still be obligated to return to the new Vulcan colony to satisfy my personal honor and belief in the efforts of my people to preserve our way of life."

"…Oh." Jim frowned. Okay, he had to admit, that was a hard one. But still.

"Spock, are you telling me that you're resigning your commission because you feel a responsibility to carry out what you see as your obligation to your species?"

Spock raised one eyebrow. "I feel nothing of that nature Captain. It is merely the most logical course of action."

"Well, all right then. Let's jump ahead a little bit. Let's assume that things on this colony go well. Construction finishes up, agricultural implantation begins, community expands, the whole shebang, and boom, colony established, and all that's left to do is the waiting. What exactly are you going to do on that colony that six hundred Starfleet specialists, technical experts, and scientists from every department ever created, can't do?"

The silence was so thick you could almost cut it with a knife. Jim stood very patiently. He could be patient when he had to be. Sometimes.

"I –" Spock floundered, and Jim heroically tried not to feel triumphant, but it was a lost cause. "I suppose that I will do – what every other Vulcan within the colony will do."

"And what's that?" Jim asked pleasantly.

"Live."

"Boring," Jim pronounced instantly, going in for the kill. "And an unnecessary waste of talent. Ninety percent of your reasons for leaving – and I'm sure you have more – can be done in the short-term, or at a distance, or – and I mean this in the nicest way possible Spock – don't need to be done by you, in particular, at all. I submit to you that your request for approval of your resignation by Starfleet command would be an illogical and unconscionable misuse of resources that could be better spent helping the rest of your species in ways that they, as a whole, are incapable of doing."

"And what ways would those be, Captain?" The Vulcan asked, looking about as dazed as Jim suspected Vulcan's ever did.

"By providing them the protection and privacy they will require – by way of retaining your Starfleet commission and continuing on as a part of the Enterprise's crew, in order to further the ways of peace and harmony throughout this sector and the entirety of the Federation." He delivered the final sentence with a bit of a flourish, relishing what might be his last (or possibly only, assuming Spock didn't decide to stay) chance to out-logic his ultra-logical Vulcan First. He tried not to preen or puff out his chest in acknowledgement of his accomplished reasoning, but it was a close thing. A very close thing.

"I –"

"Yes?" He encouraged, holding his breath, though he forced himself to let it go a second later. All joking aside, the next few words about to come out of this mans mouth were suddenly extremely important to him. Spock couldn't be allowed to leave. Jim was fully prepared to go for that phaser two rooms over if this didn't work, but he suspected his only way to truly convince Spock of the necessity for him to stay was by allowing him to see the truth of it for himself.

And if this didn't work, he still had the whole universe-ending-paradox-of-doom thing in his arsenal.

"I – find your argument most... Logical. Sir."

Oh, thank Christ, Jim thought, heaving an inward sigh of relief. All this logic was giving him a massive headache.

"I can be logical when it's necessary, First Officer."

"I believe I am now – aware of that, Captain." And indeed, the look of respect in the Vulcan's eye made Jim want to squirm in ridiculously pleased embarrassment. Once again the urge to puff up his chest in pride presented itself and he manfully resisted.

"If you would, sir… Jim. I would like to ask – one question, before I concede that I may have been hasty in my decision to leave Starfleet, and the Enterprise."

Jim eyed him warily, wondering what other surprises Spock could possibly have up his sleeve. "Just one?"

"There is only one that I deem relevant enough to pose at this time."

"All right then." Jim braced himself.

"Tell me why it is so important to you that I stay."

"What?"

Spock patiently regarded him, now standing loosely at attention with his arms clasped behind him, but the steely glint in his eye belied his relaxed posture. "I wish to know why you have employed such effort in your attempts to convince me my decision is in error."

Jim's mind, previously so full of congratulatory praise, went horribly and unexpectedly blank. Oh, crap. Spock was a Vulcan – why couldn't he stick to the damned Vulcan questions, like where Jim had discovered his logical streak and why he took such pains to hide it, or possibly why it was that Jim knew so much about the classified details of the Vulcan Relocation Project. Computer hacking skills really were an under-appreciated art.

Crap. Crap again. Crap on Admiral Archer's dog, and any other dog in the nearby vicinity too. What could he say? What could he do that wouldn't buy him more trouble somewhere down the road? A consummate tactician, if not an experienced commanding officer as yet, Jim found that his first response was really rather unproductive. He doubted that turning tail and running was likely to get him anywhere expect maybe pinned to a wall with Spock's hands at his shoulders, demanding to know the reasons behind his admittedly illogical behavior. Oh, dear. Spock's hands at his shoulders.

Yeah. That was the problem right there.

He opened his mouth to say something completely and utterly unrelated to the truth. Spock, seeing this (damn, when had the Vulcan gotten so good at reading him?), cut him off sharply. "I see no purpose behind your asking me to disclose information of such a personal nature and then concealing your own through hastily disguised falsehoods."

Oh, shut up Spock, he thought irritably. "Shut up Spock."

"I beg your pardon?" Both eyebrows flew up in Vulcan astonishment. Jim winced. Oops. He hadn't meant to say that out loud. It had just sort of popped out when the other man interrupted his train of thought. It had been rather a good one, too, full of at least partially-convincing explanations that amounted mostly to bullshit, but he particularly liked the part where he got to use a boatload of profanity.

He tipped his head to regard the ceiling once more. He wished it contained more answers than it seemed to.

"Jim." He looked at Spock. The Vulcan was regarding him solemnly, all signs of lighthearted banter forgotten. The intensity of his First's gaze made Jim's breath catch in his throat. It was that intensity that had first attracted him to Spock, even, or maybe because of, the way they'd first butted head over – just about everything.

"Oh, the hell with it," he muttered, and before he could chicken out and bolt for the phaser, he forced himself to step forward, take Spock by his lean, impossibly strong shoulders and pull him unresistingly into a light, uncomplicated, entirely chaste kiss.

It would have been chaste, anyway, if Spock hadn't had to get his two cents in also. And what a ride those two cents were. By the time Jim remembered to come up for air, his head was swimming, and his hands had somehow migrated from the Vulcan's shoulders to the back of his head; they were currently very occupied with mussing up what would have otherwise been a very neat and carefully groomed haircut.

That was all okay though, because seeing as Spock's hands were resting on a place somewhat more Southern than the back of his head, he thought he could be forgiven for taking liberties. He flexed experimentally to see if the hands were quite aware of what they were doing. They squeezed back, pulling their hips together easily, and oh, yes, they definitely knew what they were doing.

This was everything he could have hoped for, everything that had secretly driven his exhaustingly logical argument proposing that Spock remain on the ship. He couldn't have asked for a more thrilling or positive response. And yet.

And yet…

"Spock," he said, pulling back, taking his hands away, touching his First's fingers; taking them away too. Until the only thing that connected them was the blazing heat of Spock's palm against his, and the unusual buzz that Jim strongly suspected were well-guarded thoughts moving like a current beneath the skin brushing so tantalizing against his own.

"Once again, Captain," his sly Vulcan friend commented, squeezing his hand and sliding his fingers over Jim's wrist in a way that made him shiver in delicious anticipation. "I find your reasoning most sound. Most – logical."

I'll bet you do, Jim thought, pressing their palms together. "Spock. As honored as I am to have you say that – and I'll thank you to tell Bones that the next time you see him, if only to preserve his facial expression for posterity – you know we can't do this. Not yet, anyway. Have no doubts that I want you. In fact, I'm certain you just got a fairly good impression of that want, and where it centers, so to speak. But a minute ago we were talking about the decimation of your people, not to mention your possible resignation from Starfleet. I'm no psychologist, but jumping from one subject to the other seems highly.." he almost said illogical, but reigned it in, "–unusual."

Reminded of his circumstances and lot in life, Spock's face instantly closed down, the teasing glint disappearing from his eyes as though it had never been. An unexpected ache appeared in Jim's chest and he clutched those hotter-than-human hands hard, suddenly fearful that his attempts to do the right thing were about to lose him something highly desirable and precious.

Well, that would teach him to take what he wanted and not ask questions, next time. Yet more proof that it was always better to ask for permission after the fact than it was to ask for forgiveness.

It took a moment, a long moment in which Jim began the painful process of hardening his heart to the rejection he felt sure was coming his way, but at last Spock squeezed back, resting the fingers of both his hands over the pulse points in Jim's wrist. They stood like that for a good half-minute in silence.

"I understand your intentions, Jim, and while I do appreciate them, I find that they are – unnecessary. As you should know."

"Oh?" Jim said, staring at him blankly. "Should I?"

"Indeed. Was it not you who, only moments ago, stated that merely to live is, if I recall correctly – 'boring'?"

"Yesssss," Jim drawled, wondering with some puzzlement where this was going.

"Then I submit to you that, assuming you are correct in your opinion that existence merely for the sake of existence is… inefficient, it would be unwise to, as humans might say – continue 'wasting time'."

Jim stared at him, trying to wrap his mind around the fact that Spock had just tried to provide a perfectly viable, logical excuse that would somehow allow them to jump right from the first stages of 'gee, I think we could be friends', to 'Holy God, do that again, and faster, and more'. He felt distinctly unsettled about the entire thing, really. Since when had he become the logical being and Spock been relegated to the position of impulsive and impatient one?

Oh, hell with it, he thought. If Spock thought it was a good enough reason who was Jim to argue with him? He'd had enough of this 'doing the right thing' anyway. Self-control was vastly overrated.

"You know something Mr. Spock," he said, tugging until their bodies were flush once more and their mouths mere inches apart. "I do believe you're right."

"That, Captain," Spock whispered against his lips, and Jim barely heard the last bit as he attempted to swallow the words with his tongue, "is something you should endeavor to remember during future arguments."

"Whatever you say Spock," he groaned, and after that there was no more talking. Or no more that involved words, anyway.

End.