A/N: I'm terribly sorry, everyone! Had to move to a new apartment, didn't have internet access for nearly two weeks! Way to realize you're addicted, huh? Anyway, here's the conclusion. I want to thank everyone for reading and reviewing this story. You guys rock, big time!
Admiral Pike was looking at the two young men sitting in front of him, with a frown.
"You two are giving me a headache."
He watched Kirk and Spock look at each other and then simultaneously turn back to him, with almost identical expressions of polite confusion.
"I watched the tapes," Pike said, suppressing a sigh. His gaze focused on Spock, and he couldn't help but feel a pang of frustration. "You," he pointed at the Vulcan, "need to get your logic checked."
Spock lifted an eyebrow. "I see no reasons for insults, Admiral."
"Oh, you don't, do you?" Pike rose up and walked around his desk, leaning against it. "We're gonna have a nice long talk after this, Spock," he promised menacingly. "Just you and I, like old times. I don't know if I can put more sense into that stubborn head of yours than I had the last time, but I sure as hell am gonna try. And you," he looked at Kirk, who straightened in his seat. Pike sighed. "You, Kirk, are off the hook. Commodore Stevens has accepted your generous offer, so that's that. All the records are gonna stay with me, in case something unexpected happens."
"Thank you, sir," Kirk said earnestly. "We appreciate your assistance."
"That's definitely more polite than the last time I saw you," Pike remarked sarcastically. He looked over at Spock. "Your influence?"
"Polite conversation is not something Captain Kirk believes to be worthy of his effort," Spock remarked blandly.
"Hey!" Kirk spun in his chair to face him. "That was uncalled for! I've been polite with you plenty!"
"While I appreciate the special treatment on this particular account, I do not believe you should narrow your goodwill efforts to me exclusively."
"Aw, Spock, but you're so rewarding," Kirk pouted at him. "If I am polite to Bones, he just checks my temperature and then stabs me with a hypo for good measure."
"I must admit, I share the good doctor's suspicions."
"Really?" Kirk smirked. "Shall I just talk dirty to you all the time, as opposed to—"
"All the time?"
"You're such a spoilsport."
"That does not seem to discourage you in the slightest."
"I am in illogical human."
"It is gratifying to hear you know your shortcomings."
"Gentlemen." Pike rolled his eyes, his amusement mixed with just a tiny bit of envy. He could see the closeness between them, a new layer definitely added to what he saw the last time. Spock might have maintained a strict expression, but his eyes were glinting with warmth. And Kirk was simply beaming at him, leaning toward his first officer over what little space separated their chairs. Pike pursed his lips. "Entertaining as it is, kindly get to it outside my office."
Kirk blushed. "Yes, sir." He rose to his feet, and Spock followed quickly.
"One more thing," Pike said, growing serious. "Jake Stevens will be discharged from Starfleet shortly."
"But," Kirk looked stunned. "On what grounds?"
"When you first told we what was happening," Pike said, "I looked into his personnel file and then did some digging. Apparently, when he was in charge of supplies distribution on Starbase 34, he 'misplaced' some highly valuable materials. Starfleet never discovered his machinations, but I was able to find a witness and he's willing to give testimony."
"You're joking," Kirk blurted out, delighted. "Will that get him a room in a cellblock?"
"Likely, no," Pike shook his head. "Not if he's able to pay the fine. But he'll be discharged for certain."
"Admiral..." Kirk stared at him in helpless admiration that made Pike laugh.
"Cut it out, Kirk. You've got a ship to take to the Beta quadrant."
"The Beta quadrant?" Kirk gaped.
Pike couldn't help a grin. "You're on a first contact/exploratory mission," he said. "No one will be breathing down your neck for at least a year."
"Admiral," Kirk repeated, too awed to find proper words. "That's... Holy shit!"
"He means, we come to serve," Spock supplied dryly. He lifted an eyebrow at Kirk. "Is that not so, sir?"
"Yes," Kirk nodded enthusiastically, gripping Spock's shoulder. "Yes, that's exactly what I meant. You took the words right out of my mouth, Commander."
"Get out of my office," Pike groaned. "Now would be ideal."
They saluted him and left. The admiral grinned and shook his head. Those two had a fascinating journey ahead of them. Now that they finally had each other, he knew they were going to be unbeatable.
Pike sighed, thinking that Spock looked even better than always, the newfound confidence suiting him incredibly, and Kirk was simply radiant with unabashed happiness. Their crewmates were going to have to put up with a ridiculously in love command team for a while.
And with all the problems they'd have to figure out, with all the crises they'd have to face, that definitely was a good start.