So, broke the writer's block. This is rough, un-betaed and unedited. (I did manage to spell check it, though.)

Not currently in need of, or interested in constructive criticism. I think this fic has maybe three more chapters in it, so we're nearing the end.

It was a good deal later when Spock woke him. Kirk sat up with the certain knowledge that several hours had passed, and noticed Spock's hand on his shoulder.

"I am sorry to wake you, Jim, but there are matters which require your attention," Spock.

Jim. Spock had called him Jim-without being reminded to.


A weight Kirk hadn't realized he'd been carrying fell from his shoulders. Maybe this whole future epic friendship thing could work. Their talk from the previous night came back to him, and Kirk had to fight down the momentary panic that came with the idea of anyone knowing about Tarsus. People treated you differently when they knew you'd been through trauma. Time to see how Spock would really take it.

"S'alright, Spock. Should be getting up anyway. How long was I out?"

"Twelve point three six hours, captain."

Shit. That long? Why didn't he feel better? Kirk tried to suppress a groan as he sat up. Everything hurt. Still.

The Vulcan must have noticed the wince, because he was instantly at Kirk's side. "How are you feeling, sir?"

"Jim, Spock. Jim. You used it a second ago, " Kirk groused.

"Very well, Jim. You did not answer my question," the Vulcan stated.

Kirk smirked, "Noticed that, did you?" He stretched. "Better, mostly."

Spock nodded. "I had surmised that additional rest would be beneficial."

"Yeah, I think it was," Kirk nodded. He still hurt everywhere. God, why couldn't he shake this?

The Vulcan was looking at him strangely. "What?" Kirk asked.

Spock's head titled, "You are still in pain and endeavoring to hide it. You need not. Your body's limitations will not be perceived as weakness by your crew."

It was Kirk's turn to lift an eyebrow. He could not deny the truth of it. "Oh really?"

Kirk wondered if that were true, or if it were merely how Spock perceived the situation.

Kirk checked his schedule in his head. He was supposed to work a bridge shift this afternoon, and he had to report back to the admirals today. Best get up, then. He turned away from Spock and pulled himself to the fresher. He needed to shower and change.

He emerged, pulling on a clean, black shirt and feeling slightly more human, to the presence of both Spock and Doctor McCoy.

"Bonesy!" Kirk beamed at him, genuinely pleased to see him, but playing it up a little to cover his aching body, and McCoy scowled-obviously not fooled or impressed.

"Cut the crap, Jim. Spock tells me you woke up sore?" There was a tricorder thrust in his face. Kirk lowered it, subtly.

"Ah, yeah, but I'm kinda feeling better now that I showered."

McCoy growled softly at him, and showed the tricorder to Spock, who input a number sequence and then indicated that McCoy should scan Kirk again, which McCoy did.

Kirk stuck out his tongue at McCoy, who scowled again. "You are such an infant," but it sounded fond.

"Aw come on, Bones, you know you love me," Kirk smirked at him.

McCoy barely acknowledged the comment as he continued to scan Kirk. He again showed the tricorder to Spock, who again made a small adjustment, and indicated that McCoy should carry on.

Kirk was starting to get annoyed at being treated like he wasn't in the room.

"Guys, I'm still here."

"What? Oh, sorry Jim." McCoy said in a distracted tone. Kirk didn't believe for one second that McCoy actually was sorry.

"Find something?" Kirk asked.

He had directed the comment to McCoy, but it was Spock who answered first. "Yes, captain. It is possible that we may be able to develop a solution."

"The virus appears to have two separate RNA sequences, one of which behaves as normal but the other targets white blood cells specifically, turning them from antibodies into virus factories. That's why you haven't been able to kick this thing, Jim. Because your own immune system is replicating it," said McCoy.


Okay, what?

Kirk asked as much, looking from one to the other. They still were directing their comments much more to the tricorder than to him, but hey, if they could figure out what was wrong with him, Kirk didn't care.

"What it means, Jimmy, is that we just have to figure out how to disrupt the RNA information transfer," said McCoy,sounding more hopeful than Kirk had heard him in days, "and we'll be able to make you a vaccine."

Well, damn. No wonder McCoy sounded happy.

"Cool. How long do you guys need?" Kirk tried to refrain from bouncing. He really couldn't wait to feel better.

They came to a consensus of several hours, and that Kirk should check back after lunch.

WIth that positive news in mind, Kirk practically bounded up to the bridge.

As he was sliding into his chair, Kirk noticed the Andorian that had helped him last time. He caught the man's eye and the blue alien walked over.

"You are looking better, captain" the Andorian said.

"Yeah. Feeling better," Kirk said. "Thank you for all your help last time."

The Andorian acknowledged the comment with a nod of his head. "You are welcome, captain. Thank you for saving our ship."

Kirk looked around, blushed, and smiled down at the floor. "Well, it was a ship worth saving," he said quietly.

The other man seemed to understand, and he nodded before walking back to his station.

God, though, it had been a ship worth saving. Kirk looked around at her, now, and had to fight the lump in his throat.

The Enterprise. She was absolutely stunning. Inside and out. And Kirk loved her as a ship, but he loved her as a working organism even move.

His crew...

God, he would take them anywhere, everywhere. Through Hell if necessary.

He would take them over any crew in the galaxy. He smiled just thinking about it.

The smile stayed on his face as he worked through his grueling, but (thankfully) boring eight hour shift. He hadn't done much but catch up on the ever present, and ever growing pile of paperwork.

The Entrerpise was slowly, but surely, limping toward home. Only about five days now. As much as Kirk wanted to be home, he didn't want this to end.

He told himself not to think about it. Focus on the work.

Phillips had brought him coffee twice, and Kirk was thinking about asking the kid to be his yeoman.

That, is, if he kept this job long enough to need one.

And speaking of...Kirk needed to get that report to the admirals.

This time there were only two them (one of whom was the chess guy–whose name was apparently Donnelly), and they seemed pleased to see Kirk. His written report had apparently "met with expectations" or whatever that meant. Kirk updated them briefly on the situation and reported that he thought the Enterprise was about five days out from Earth.

They accepted most of news in silence, and asked very few questions, but he could not deny the sense of relief that accompanied the words, "Well, that will be all, captain."


An admiral had called him "captain."

Did that mean...?

"Kirk. Kirk. Kirk?"

What? Oh. Admiral Donnelly was trying to get his attention on the still open comm line. "How did the chess match go?"

Kirk blushed and laughed. "I won. But he was one move away from checkmate."

On the vid screen, Donnelly laughed and slapped the table in front of him. "Ha. Merrick owes me twenty credits."

Kirk laughed, too, as he wondered who Merrick was. This whole day had been a tremendous relief. It had been uneventful, boring, even. It was good to return to what passed for normal.

Donnelly looked back up at Kirk, and said, "Play him again, son. You look like you could use it."

Kirk smiled again, and nodded as Donnelly signed off.

His brain was still stuck on Donnelly calling him "captain."

Fuck, he wanted that.

He wanted to keep that.

He closed his eyes for a second and imagined it. Held it in his mind, so that even if he couldn't have that future, he could remember this.

He could have this moment.

Kirk walked to sick bay more relaxed than he'd been since before the trial. He found his luck was holding, and that Spock and McCoy had developed some sort of serum for his virus. They weren't positive of how effective it was going to be, but it was a start.

McCoy, who was acting like his usual mother hen self, told Kirk that he needed to eat and then go back to bed. Spock offered to accompany him to dinner when McCoy declined, saying he had too much work.

They got their trays, Spock having more vegetables and Kirk settling for grilled cheese and tomato soup. He wasn't in the mood for anything complicated. Unusually, the mess was almost completely deserted, and he and Spock were alone. This surprised Kirk until he looked at his chrono and found that it was later than he had thought. He was pleased they were alone though. It meant that neither of them would have to watch their words.

Kirk was a little nervous though about being alone with Spock so soon after their conversation. He didn't want the conversation to wander into any subject that could be too heavy.

He need not have worried though. Spock ate mostly in silence and talked almost exclusively about the science of what he and the doctor had discovered that day.

Kirk nodded along, content to listen–even if it wasn't the most riveting conversation.

As he'd thought earlier, boring was okay sometimes.

After dinner, the two of them walked back to Spock's quarters. When they were just inside the door, and could no longer be overheard, Spock turned to face Kirk.

"Captain, I am aware that my knowledge of your file is causing you...distress." He looked into Kirk's eyes. "It should not."

Kirk sighed, "It's not that I don't trust you, Spock. It's just that-"

"-that you have seldom had cause to trust anyone in your life. I do comprehend, captain."

Kirk let out a breath. "It's not that, not really." He wasn't prepared for this conversation, not yet. "It's that it makes me feel so ...vulnerable." He looked at the floor so he did not have to look at Spock.

He felt, more than saw, the other man move. Spock placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "I will keep your secrets, Jim. This I vow."

The oath sounded old and important. And Kirk believed it. He sagged. "Okay."

Spock still held his eyes. "You are not the only one with trauma."

Kirk nodded. That was true. Spock had also experienced a loss too great for any words of consolation. He placed his hand over Spock's, and knew that the touch-telepath could read his emotions through his fingers. "I know I'm not. If you need to talk, I'm here for you, okay?"

He pushed everything he could have meant into those words, his pain, his sympathy, and his compassion.

The Vulcan nodded. "You should rest, now."

As Kirk climbed onto the bed, Spock prepared to leave.

Kirk called him back, grabbing the chess board from beside the bed. "Hey Spock, how would you feel about a rematch?"

Hope you liked it, but don't tell me if you didn't.