An Influence by AndromedaMarine

He wishes he'd set foot on the Enterprise under better conditions. He wishes he hadn't irked the pointy-eared bastard, however much Bones likes him. He wishes, even, that he hadn't "cheated" on the Kobayashi Maru just to prove he could.

But he doesn't regret fighting Bones to get to the bridge. He doesn't want to take back a single moment aboard his ship – his Enterprise. He doesn't give a damn whether or not Spock lifts one straight eyebrow at him in curiosity or amusement, perhaps both, when he fails to finish a train of thought because of a passing female officer.

So, after he met the future Spock, after officially taking the reins Pike handed him, James Tiberius Kirk harbored a new, different feeling. Longing.

Jim longed for that other reality – the universe where he knew his father, where two thirds of Starfleet's cadets didn't die under the Narada's gaze – where he didn't fight with Bones to reach the bridge, or cheat on the Kobayashi Maru, or start on the wrong foot in his friendship with the Vulcan.

He longed for the life that Spock Prime remembered him having.

And Spock began to notice the change in the captain.

Spock notices how when Nyota walks right past Jim, the captain's gaze doesn't follow Uhura's path. The Vulcan observes that Jim's attention while in the Captain's chair is never completely on the task at hand. He finds it odd that when the captain does not show up at two minutes and seven point three seconds past six hundred hours in the morning, he is neither in his quarters nor bothering Bones about some disease he knows he doesn't have.

The Vulcan requests the ship's computer to locate Captain James T. Kirk. Spock hardly blinks when the computer reveals Jim sitting in the middle of the floor beside the water tubes. The First Officer sets a determined pace to the lift, and stands unmoving as the car descends the several levels to the one Jim is hiding on.

"Captain," Spock says in his even voice, "I do not believe this is an acceptable place to collect one's thoughts."

Jim doesn't move. He stares at a spot on the floor two feet in front of him, and sighs heavily, his shoulders moving up and down with the exchange of breaths.

"Captain?" Spock stands with his hands clasped behind his back, several feet from Jim even though he towers over the officer.

"Didn't I tell you to call me Jim?"

"Indeed you did...Jim. I wish to know the reason for which you are not present on the bridge."

Jim's eyes slowly move upwards to stare at his First Officer. "Human stuff. Emotions. Nothing you, my Vulcan friend, would really understand."

"I believe I have become quite adept at recognizing and understanding human emotions, Jim. I am half human. I should not need to remind you."

The captain turns his head to look at the spot on the floor again.

Spock narrows his eyes. "You still assume the elder officers, such as Admiral Pike, compare you to your father." Jim stiffens, but doesn't move his gaze. "They should not, though considering your actions while on academic suspension I would be surprised if any still did."

"And you're not easily surprised."

Spock shakes his head. "Yet from your tone I presume my assessment was not entirely accurate."

Jim shakes his head, and again lifts his gaze to peer at the Vulcan. "It's discombobulating, considering you're the reason I'm here in the first place."

"I do not understand," Spock comments evenly.

"You – well, other you, the one on that shitty ice planet you jettisoned me onto, did a freaky mind meld thing on me."

Spock lifts one eyebrow high enough to brush his pencil-straight haircut. He pauses for a moment. "My counterpart must have deemed it a necessary action to take."

"You guys just can't explain things in words, can you?" Jim stretches out on his back, his hands folded beneath his head for comfort. "You showed me the other reality. The one where...where I knew my father."

The eyebrow returns to its normal place. "And you believe his reality is, or was, the more favorable." It is not a question.

Jim closes his eyes. "Maybe you do understand humans."

Spock shifts his gaze to sweep the large room. "You are not your father."

"Yeah, a fact not lost on me, Spock." Jim blinks several times and angles his head to look up at Spock.

"Brooding over my counterpart's memory of a different life will not help you become a better officer, Captain." He emphasizes his last word, deliberately staring Jim in the eye. "Nor will failing to adhere to Starfleet's duty requirements make your longing for a different universe any more a reality than if I proposed marriage to Lieutenant Uhura."

Spock's ploy to get Jim's mind off the other reality causes Jim to blink. The captain sits up. "You're not marrying Uhura?"

"It is not logical and is, therefore, impractical."

Jim gets to his feet and approaches the Vulcan. "Your father married a human."

"An illogical choice, though he insists that because he loved her, it was therefore logical. I do not agree." Spock doesn't like lying to his superior officer, but to keep Jim from returning to the wish for another life the Vulcan continues. "I am considered to have a disadvantage among the Vulcan race, or what remains of it."

"You still look Vulcan to me."

The thought crosses Spock's mind that if he were fully human, Jim's comment would suffice a small laugh. Spock allows a hint of a smile to touch his lips. "Indeed I still retain the image of my father's race." Spock turns his back on Jim. "Though I believe you are required on the bridge, Captain."

Jim understands Spock wants him to focus, and the captain knows his longing is illogical.

Jim still wonders what his life would be like with his father alive. He wonders about the circumstances under which he'd earned the Enterprise in Spock Prime's reality. He wonders about his friendship with the pointy-eared bastard, and whether Bones would have been his friend. He wonders if he would have cheated on the Kobayashi Maru just to prove he could.

And Spock thinks back over his conversation with the Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

So when, the next day, Captain James T. Kirk arrives on the bridge two minutes and seven point three seconds past six hundred hours, Spock knows he is an influence. He knows that Jim trusts him – that Jim listens to him.

Spock knows Jim has accepted life.