Star Trek XI | Between Us and Them [2/2] | Kirk Prime/Spock Prime
Jim Kirk is pleased to find that even in alternative realities, some things never changed.
It is nothing short of surreal, walking through the halls of the Enterprise—the original Enterprise—again. Everything is different, near unrecognizable, but at the same time familiar. The corridors are brighter and flashier than he remembers, but it still takes him ten steps walking at a normal pace to reach the turbolift from sickbay.
Word travels quickly, even on a Constitution-class starship. Historically, the Captain does not acknowledge the existence of gossip. Historically, the crew would let nothing stand in between them and the truth. Jim Kirk is pleased to find that even in alternative realities, some things never changed.
His younger counterpart had requested (politely, even) that he keep off both the bridge and engineering, so as not to cause a disruption. He had agreed readily.
He knew the Enterprise and her crew. When they were ready, they would come find him.
The first to approach, unsurprisingly, is Montgomery Scott.
"So," he says, sliding into the opposite seat with a sizeable sandwich on his plate. "They say you're from the future."
"Indeed I am, Mr. Scott."
Scotty leans forward excitedly. "Are ye familiar with the warp drive advancements from your future?"
"And rob you of discovering how to break the time barrier yourself?" Scotty's eyes light up. "Not a chance."
Scotty guffaws. "I thought you wouldn't," he says. "The other fellow wouldn't either. But it didn't hurt to try. Once the Cap'n's alright with it, ye should really drop by engineering. Take a look around."
Kirk grins. "I will keep that in mind, Scotty."
"Captain, I am receiving a transmission from Starfleet," Uhura says, adjusting her earpiece. "Ambassador Solvak of Vulcan Colony XVII is on the line."
"Excellent," he says, snapping his fingers. "I'll see him in my quarters."
On instinct, her eyes travel to where Spock is, hunched over the corner panel. However, this time, he seems unusually unaffected by the news from New Vulcan. In fact, if anything, he almost appeared to be purposefully ignoring the news.
"Oh, and Lieutenant," Kirk adds, "contact our guest and direct him my way please."
The 'please' is unexpected.
She finds him in the dining hall, in his corner with a cup of coffee on the table and a copy of Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' in his hands. The reading material alone suggests with finality that this man was indeed very different from her captain.
"I preferred the tragedies in my youth, and histories in my prime," he says as she nears. "Now I favor the comedies. Perhaps it is a sign of my age."
"The world is a tragedy to those who feel," Uhura quotes automatically, "but a comedy to those who think."
The older Kirk laughs. "Horace Walpole, very good lieutenant."
Her back straightens almost instinctively, like the way she did back at the academy after an engaging conversation with a favored professor.
"The captain has requested that your presence in his quarters."
"Excellent," he says. "Thank you, lieutenant…"
"Uhura? You are Uhura?" His eyes swept over her, completely lacking in the lasciviousness that was Jim Kirk's trademark. "My apologies, I almost didn't recognize you."
"There was an Uhura in your universe as well, sir?"
"Nyota Uhura," he says with pride, "was the finest communications officer in all of Starfleet. I am glad to see you here on this Enterprise as well."
"Your message was marked urgent," Ambassador Spock says, "but you appear to be in good health, Captain."
"Sorry for the deception, old man," Jim replies easily with a grin that suggests entirely otherwise. "But I felt under the circumstances, it was a logical decision."
"I've got a surprise for you. He'll be here any minute."
"Spock?" The lines in the older man's face deepen in delight as he rushes to the monitor and places both hands around it, as if the terminal was the body of his old friend. "Is that really you?"
The unadulterated elation on the older Jim Kirk's face is contagious and spreads easily to the younger Jim Kirk. In the back of his mind, he wonders if he'll ever be that happy to see his Spock, the porcupine he was.
And then he turns back to the screen and the smile slips off his face.
The expression on the Ambassador's face is terrible to behold—stricken with a disbelief that ran deep—so very deep, as if a painful old wound that had been ripped open.
Jim swallows hard, and looks away.
It comes out in a breath, near distraught in the incredulity brought about by a near century length of separation.
"You look terrible, Mr. Spock," the older Kirk replies, warm and teasing. No, there is more than that. There is regret, sorrow, joy, and love all mixed together. There are dimensions in his tone he'd never heard out of his own before, and though they were essentially different, they were undeniably similar. He could easily imagine that voice to one day be his own.
The epiphany is like going into warp. On Delta Vega, how Spock could place the fate of a planet into the hands of a stranger who merely bore the name James Kirk; the obvious made clear in one simple exchange. Simultaneously, he understands now how little he'd seen, and how completely he misjudged the depth of the friendship between Jim Kirk and Spock.
It was a crushing thought, almost frightening in its intensity.
"I'll leave you two alone," he mumbles, and escapes.
"Captain, I'm receiving a transmission from Starfleet. We are to set a course for New Vulcan immediately."
"When you told me ours was a friendship that would define us both," Spock says icily, "you failed to mention that yours was hardly a mere friendship."
"My apologies, I had thought it irrelevant."
Already, the ambassador looks decades younger. Happier.
"Who was he?" Spock asks, almost (not) hesitatingly. "The Jim Kirk from your timeline. Why..."
"Spock," Ambassador says gently, "he was everything to me."
Spock swallows hard and closes the link.
"Tell me about yourself, your time, your Enterprise. I want to know everything."
"I could," agreeably. "But that's not what you want to hear, is it?"
"...no, it isn't."
"Tell me about my father."
The next day, the passenger's status upgrades to honored guest, and the Captain finally allows him on the bridge.
"Velcome to the bridge, sir!" Chekov chirps, the Captain and Commander conveniently nowhere in sight. "If you have need for anything, please to let me know."
Kirk Senior, as they have taken to calling him, blinks once before bursting into laughter.
"No, it is not you, Ensign," he says, clapping the young man on the shoulder. "I suppose some things never change."
"Oh c'mon, jus' a one little formula."
"No, Mr. Scott. That would be the equivalent of violating the prime directive."
"Well, y'know, the other fellow from the future gave me the equation for how to beam onboard a ship going at warp."
"…did he now? Well, alright. But don't tell anyone."
Commander Spock had, up until this point, refused to be in the same room as Jim Kirk, and yet he insists on being present when Ambassador Solvak was to beam onboard.
"It is protocol, Captain," he says stiffly, and the set in his jaw challenges anyone to correct him.
There is a tension in the transporter room as New Vulcan's Ambassador materializes. Anticipation, excitement, and barely controlled emotions stretch the silence like a string frayed to its last cord.
Ambassador Spock is moving the moment the lights disappear, gliding off the transporter and reaching out to clasp Jim Kirk's hand in his own.
Spock looks pointedly away. So does Jim, eventually, but he hesitates long enough to see the older Spock bring his hand up and trace a line, with his fingers, from the bottom of the older Kirk's ear, down the jaw line, to his chin, and tilt it up.
"It is illogical to disbelieve the obvious—especially when it's standing before your very eyes, Mr. Spock."
"Indeed it is, Jim," Ambassador Spock agrees. And then he does the unexpected—he laughs.
"Captain," Spock says in undertones, "their request is unnecessary and most unorthodox."
"That may be, but who are we to dictate what Ambassador of New Vulcan desires?"
"Spock. It's not a big deal. Besides..." Jim shoots a glance behind him, and when he speaks, it's softer in a whole other way. "They're kind of...us."
"They are not," Spock returns, sharper. "They are comparable, yes, but their history and ours differ by too much to be identical, thusly they are not us."
"Almost is enough," Kirk replies. "I'm granting it."
"Can you imagine? Us, being on the bridge of the Enterprise again—what are the chances?"
Sulu, and most of the junior staff, have never been so happy to be on gamma shift. Seeing the senior versions of their captain and commander while the junior versions stood on the side and twiddled their thumbs was…awesome.
"Vulcans do not imagine, Jim," Ambassador 'Solvak' replies. "But I believe the chances are one in a million."
"The same as always, huh?" The older Jim Kirk runs a hand over the Captain's chair. "This is where it all started," he continues, almost to himself. "I never thought I'd get to feel this again. I...I must still be in the Nexus..."
"So am I correct to believe," The older Spock says, "that Vulcan nerve pinches are cornerstone to your heart's desire?"
"I suppose not" Jim Kirk chuckles. "If the Nexus grants us everything we could desire from our wildest imaginations, the definitely not. My imagination would never have extended so far."
The two of them walk through the ship as if they had a thousand times before, almost synchronized right down to where their eyes glance over and where they linger. Yet in nearly no time at all, they are back in the transporter room, ready to beam down (for the last time) and Jim still has a million questions.
"Wait," he says, taking a deep breath. "Before you go, can you tell me...is there anything I should know about? Anything major that I should, ah, prepare for?"
The question gives Kirk pause. His mind returns to the countless moments in his captaincy where he only just evades death. There was Khan. The time Spock had died—Vulcan did not exist anymore, there may no longer be the option of forcing the soul back into the body. He even considered the words he had gifted so freely to Jean-Luc Picard.
Somewhere in the back of his head, he hopes that fellow managed to get help somehow.
"You're the Captain of the Enterprise," he says at last. "Who am I to tell you what your limits are?"
The smile of the younger James Kirk is the last thing he sees as he beams out, wide and fearless.
Just the way it was suppose to be.
The landscape of New Vulcan already bears a striking resemblance to its predecessor—red sand, dry heat, and high, elegant architecture stretched on the horizon.
"Well," he says, turning to Spock. "You and me again. Imagine that."
Spock touches his hand, eyes twinkling. "Always, old friend."
[ // ]
The sequel will deal more with nu!Kirk/nu!Spock, but I haven't gone past a few hundred words so don't expect that for awhile.