O Captain, My Captain.
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Chapter 1: Our Fearful Trip is Done
"Receiving communication from Starfleet Command, Captain," Lieutenant Uhura's voice informed him.
"Patch it through, Lieutenant," Kirk ordered, followed by a voice filling the bridge.
"Captain Kirk, this is Commodore Stone of Starbase 11, with delivery orders."
"Go ahead, Commodore."
"You are ordered to report to Starbase 11 and beam aboard a range of technological and environmental supplies to be delivered to the new Vulcan colony on Tolvek IV, Beta Quadrant 518."
"Understood, Commodore. Kirk out. ETA to Starbase 11, Mr. Chekov?"
"Estimated arrival 3 days 6 hours, Captain."
"Plot a course, Mr. Chekov."
"Course plotted and layed in, Captain."
As the newly-christened Captain James Tiberius Kirk sat smugly in his oversized chair, overseeing the bridge with unabashed pleasure, he still couldn't quite shake the feeling that something was amiss. His recent heroics had afforded him precious little time for reflection on the entire affair, but his thoughts had frequently been straying to one of his many near-death experiences - narrowly avoided not by himself, but by the torch of a wizened old Vulcan, the future visage of his current First Officer.
The melding of his mind with Spock's had left in its wake the older man's overwhelming grief for an entire planet, his home, his mother. Despite the unsettling result of this brief contact, the dull ache of mourning was not what occupied his mind most when he recalled the encounter. What bothered him was the holes, the feeling that something crucial had been absent from the transference. As if Spock had intentionally left gaps in the knowledge he had imparted. He had, and still did, trust the older man, which was probably why he was so confused and irritated by the nagging itch that told him that there was something that had been hidden from him.
Would it be appropriate to ask? Clearly Spock had taken great steps to ensure he did not know, therefore requesting said information seemed a plan doomed to failure. The only conclusion he could come to about the nature of this missing data was that it was one of two things: either something that had happened in his other life which Spock wanted to prevent in this one, or something that Spock wanted him to figure out for himself without outside influence. If the first, surely Spock would have just told him not to do something, told him that the consequences would be dire or unpleasant to his person. If the second, well, he guessed that was alright. But still not any less annoying. Resisting the urge to pout like a 12-year-old girl, he simply sighed and tried to find something authoritative to do.
Kirk had not forgotten about the mysterious chasm accompanying his mind-meld with Spock's future self, occasionally casting an irritated glance towards Spock's present self by mistake. Of course, this was never returned with anything but a raised eyebrow and a blank expression. The last 78 hours to Starbase 11 had left him plenty of time to mull over whether or not to seek Spock out once they reached the Vulcan colony and demand an answer. Or politely request one, at the least. He came the conclusion that should Spock refuse, he was in the same position as he was now, no better or worse, therefore there was no reason not to do so.
"Tha's the last of it, Captain," Scotty's voice sounded from the speaker next to his arm.
"Stow it away, Scotty."
With the last of the equipment aboard, the U.S.S. Enterprise left Starbase and headed for Tolvek IV, almost a week away. The boredom of nothing but black space and an endless multitude of stars gave Kirk more time then he would have preferred to mull over, or rather unhealthily fixate, on the subject of his imminent encounter with the Spock of the future. What kind of information would he bother to hide? Important military secrets, perhaps, or the knowledge of the exact circumstances surrounding the deaths of his crew? His own death? So many possibilities, each one more alarming than the next, chased each other around in his mind. Or was Spock trying to hide something about himself, or rather, Kirk's current second-in-command?
He surreptiously glanced up at the Vulcan, whose fingers were moving over the control board in front of him. He seriously doubted that Spock could have any interesting secrets to keep, to be perfectly honest. Kirk remembered hearing that Spock had been the first Vulcan to ever turn down entrance to his planet's Science Academy, to the general astonishment of the Vulcan council. He couldn't help but smirk at the positively hysterical thought that, back home, Spock had been something of a rebel. And, of course, Kirk had been as well. Perhaps they did share commonalities that would one day bring them to be, as the old man had told him, great friends. They had gotten along amicably thus far, Spock's cool logic often helpful in a tight spot. What would Spock's alternate self want to keep hidden concerning a friendship he had so vehemently assured Kirk would be essential to his life in Starfleet? There was something decidedly suspicious about the entire situation.
The Captain's initial landing party consisted of himself, Spock, and Dr. McCoy. They beamed to the agreed coordinates and were greeted by most of the elders that had been rescued from Vulcan moments before it's destruction, including Spock's father.
"Nice to see you again, Ambassador," Kirk nodded to Sarek.
"Greetings, Captain Kirk."
"I've put Spock here in charge of organizing all this. We have crew at your disposal, just tell them where to."
"You have our appreciation, Captain," Sarek bowed, turning to his son and beginning the preparations for transferring the supplies to the planet's surface. McCoy wandered off, saying something about inquiring after the colony's repopulation efforts. Kirk, glancing around to make sure no one was paying much attention to him, started off on his search for the other Spock, with absolutely no idea where to begin. He noted an official-looking building in the distance and began towards it, but was interrupted before even entering.
"Jim," a deep voice called from his left. He turned to see exactly the Vulcan he'd been seeking striding towards him.
"Oh, thank God. I was just trying to figure out how to find you."
"I learned that the Enterprise was delivering our supplies and was seeking you as well," Spock informed him. Kirk was mildly surprised, as he didn't know what he would want him for.
"Oh, well, good. I had something to ask you," Kirk said, hoping he would not be leaving empty-handed. Spock nodded.
"Let us walk together," he suggested, falling into step beside him.
"What is your question, Jim?"
"You left something out when you brain-sucked me," Kirk accused point-blank, as he was unsure how to approach the topic subtly. Spock looked at him and with a raised eyebrow, and a somewhat sad downturn to his mouth.
"I was unsure if you would be perceptive enough to recognize that the information you received in the mind-meld had been intentionally altered. I note that my concerns were unfounded," Spock admitted.
"Yeah, so what's the what?"
"I did not, as you put it, 'leave something out.' I simply emphasized a particular emotion that I felt when joining my mind with yours."
"But what I feel is... something missing. Nothing isn't an emotion."
"Loneliness is," Spock said evenly, looking at Kirk intensely.
"Why did you feel loneliness? And why would you give it to me on purpose?"
"I experienced and continue to experience loneliness for my friend from the reality I left behind. I hoped that, in time, you would choose to act upon that feeling."
"Act upon... your loneliness? I'll be honest, I'm confused as hell," Kirk confessed, exasperated.
"I confess myself to be of selfish intentions, Jim. I desired to interfere on behalf of my younger self, to offer him an opportunity to engage in the relationship I longed for, but did not have the courage to initiate."
"What relationship? You said you were my friend - my best friend," expounded Kirk, desperately trying to piece the conversation together to form a meaningful conclusion.
"Jim," Spock said with an impossibly raised eyebrow and something like amusement lurking behind his eyes, "I believe that in another lifetime, we were both desirous of a closer relationship."
"What d'you... uh, wait. Haha, ok. Did you hypo yourself with a hallucinogen?" Kirk looked at him incredulously, legitimately concerned for the older man's health at this point.
"No, Jim. I am under the influence of no mind-altering substances. I did not wish to reveal all in such a manner, but knowing you as I do, you would not have been dissuaded. I had desired you to come to this conclusion with no outside influence beyond that which I initially gave to you."
"You gave me memories riddled with weird holes and you think I would have figured out that you wanted me to get with Spock?!"
"I believe that, given time, you would have determined the course I intended, yes."
"You are giving me way too much credit. How vague could you get? I want to unlearn this whole thing!"
"In time, Jim, I believe your feelings will alter considerably," Spock's alternate self assured him, "But I feel I can interfere no more on the matter. You require much further contemplation of the limited but considerable information I have given you. Let us not speak of it again. I would enjoy showing you the colonization efforts more thoroughly."
"Why were you looking for me, anyway?" Kirk asked, accepting the fact that the previous subject was now closed.
"I simply desired your company, old friend."
As Kirk headed back towards the designated coordinates to beam back up to the Enterprise, he decided that he had never before regretted satisfying his curiosity so completely. There was not a fiber of his being that was not uncomfortable with the knowledge Spock's future self had imparted. What in the hell was he supposed to do now? How could he pursue a friendship with the current Spock, knowing that feelings he certainly did not want might sporadically appear? Although he lived an entirely different life in an entirely different world than the Kirk from future Spock's timeline, he believed the older man when he told him that their friendship would be an important part of both his and Spock's lives, regardless of the differences present in this reality.
But a romantic relationship with Spock, of all people? There were so many problems with that, he didn't even know where to start his objections. Sure, he'd gotten the wild urge down below to sleep with men on occasion, and enjoyed acting on said urges, that wasn't really the issue. He liked his woman, and men, with a little more fire and a lot less rigid composure than his stiff and formal Vulcan crewmember. Not to mention, he could only imagine Spock's reaction if Kirk tried to initiate some kind of... anything of that sort with him. Spock would probably have him hauled off to medical. Obviously he did have the capacity for romantic feeling, considering the scene he had witnessed between Spock and Uhura in the transporter room before they beamed aboard the Narada.
What was he supposed to do? He couldn't be best friends with current Spock now that future Spock had suggested a romantic relationship between them! How was he supposed to completely put that aside and not let it influence his every interaction with his First Officer? The errant thought occured to him that maybe that was exactly what the elder Vulcan had intended, but he had a hard time believing that the good-natured Spock of the future would be so underhanded. Yet he had to have known that he could not simply pack such speculations into a box in his mind and forget they were there. Vulcans may possess such an ability, but Captain James T. Kirk certainly did not. He shook his disorienting train of thought off as he approached the place where McCoy and Spock were waiting, joining them in bidding farewell to Ambassador Sarek and his fellow Vulcans.
"Beam us up, Scotty," Kirk commanded into his communicator, soon after feeling the familiar tingling that accompanied transportation.