Author's Note: Perhaps, not the ending that many people expected or wanted. I am not sure where it came from but I'm relatively content with it, seeing as I had no idea where to go before seeing the movie again yesterday. I'd like to thank everyone for their support with this story. It's gotten me through a fairly horrific class and another torturously boring one.
As always, forgive the typos/grammar/general lack of knowledge. In addition, ignore the pilfered line in the end. It's what came out when I was finishing and well… it seems to work. But most of all, please enjoy!
Epilogue: Somewhere in Between
He didn't know what to say to Spock Prime so he never ended up contacting him. After long moments of pondering, he'd discovered that it wasn't that he didn't want to talk to him; it was just nothing he could say seemed to be enough. Thank you was disturbingly flat considering all that happened and why had already been answered for him. Anything else, trivial questions, or jokes or anything that might lighten their involvement made him feel superficial. He tried to formulate a speech not of gratitude or question or light hearted joking but found that he did not have words for that. The politician and negotiator were not the two strong points of his character. That was why he had people like Spock around.
And so time passed him by and he gradually got so caught up in his other troubles that he forgot to think of it all together. It would bite him, every now and again just before he fell into the vestiges of sleep, but it would be gone by morning after he showered. In fact, it did not fully hit him until late in the year when they were sent with basic necessities to the Vulcan Colony. It had been a hard year for the new Vulcan planet and the Federation was attempting to supplement a weak harvest and lack of other niceties. When Kirk had asked why they chose the Enterprise, respectful but belligerent all at once, they'd informed him because they said so; and then, they'd supplemented it with Spock's presence and because it was a break from the Enterprise's normally arduous journeys.
At that point, guilt started to chew at him. As the ship was loaded, he considered everything he should have said and didn't say and then how he'd never really known what those things were anyway. The trip took relatively no time at all, barely five minutes, and soon he found himself beaming down to the planet with a perfectly blank mind and a rolling stomach. Even though he was about to need something to say, I'm sorry for the trouble, thanks for everything, seemed more inappropriate than ever.
He, Spock and Sulu materialized at the base slower than he was used to. The delegation of surviving council members were waiting with Vulcan patience, unsmiling but not displeased. Spock stepped forward, greeting them all traditionally and launched immediately into a discussion about how the items were to be unloaded and where they should be placed. Sulu followed him but Kirk hung back, uncertain, eyes flickering from one passive face to another, searching for the one he expected. Two scans over proved that Spock Prime was not amongst those there. The nervous vice that had trapped him loosened and he strode off the pad with a renewed confidence.
The next few hours were spent organizing and moving the vast amounts of crates off of the ship and into the storage units the Vulcans had set aside for just this. Kirk was helping organize the transition period from the ship to the ground allowing Spock to handle the actual transportation to storage. It was going surprisingly smooth, he surmised as another load came down and he helped a crew of ensigns and Vulcans alike move the boxes off the pad so the next shipment could arrive. There had been no mishaps, injuries or, so far, items that should have arrived but hadn't or vice versa.
He piled his crate in the corner just as another stack was beamed down. The load materialized and he jogged up the stairs to help move it off. This load seemed a bit less steady than the rest. His instinct was to get it down and away as quick as possible and he snatched up the nearest stack. Just as he got it settled into his arms, the stack next to it began to sway dangerously. He tried to move quickly, trying to get out of range of the falling debris and in the process completely forgot about the stairs. Everything went flying out of his arms and he followed it down, realizing that this was going to hurt-- possibly a lot-- and that he was an idiot for moving so--
Someone grabbed him, stopped him and got him on his feet in a manner of seconds. The boxes lay scattered around him, some broken open and spilling medical supplies on the ground. His savior released him and with him, looked at the destruction. His elderly face looked drawn, as though he'd been sick, and he had a cane in his one hand. However, there was a distinct air of amusement about him.
"I am assuming you are uninjured, Captain," he said, leaning heavily on the cane.
"Thanks to you," Kirk managed, hoping to convey double meaning. "You okay?"
He nodded, raising an eyebrow as an ensign took a tumble trying to balance the other stack of boxes. "Quite well, though feeling my years in a way I never have before. It was inevitable, of course, though it came sooner than I expected." A very small smile decorated his lips. "I see option c has been treating you well."
"Yeah," he said softly. "Yeah, it has." And he allowed himself to meet the Vulcan's eyes. "Thanks fo--"
"Jim, the storage area has been filled to maximum capacity. These containers will need to be transferred to another part of the colony," Spock, his Spock said, coming up to the two of them. "Pardon my interruption, Ambassador, I must borrow the Captain."
Spock Prime broke off the gaze. "Of course, Commander, my work with the Captain is done." Then he said to Kirk, "Live long and prosper, Jim."
Kirk watched him leave as he followed his Spock further into the colony, seeing how he limped and how the straight back hunched a bit. He recalled the hollowed features and the tiredness in the calm, intelligent eyes. Next came the smile and the words and the approval he had sensed from the Vulcan from another dimension who had known another him and had been willing to give anything up for that Kirk and therefore, for him as well. He changed his direction, striding quickly to where Spock Prime was moving slowly and blocked off his path.
"Next time," he said quickly. "Next time, let me figure out option c, okay?"
Spock Prime stopped, resting his free hand on top of the can clutching the cane. There was something in his face that Kirk did not know. "As you wish, Jim." He moved around him. "As you wish."