Title: One Last Kiss

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek, and I do not make any money from this fiction.

***

Jim is so incredibly beautiful, it nearly hurts to look at him. Doctor McCoy would laugh at the poetry of such thoughts, but I find that I do not particularly care. I had thirty years of friendship – and more – with my own Jim…

And then I was forced to struggle through far too many decades without him, believing him dead, lost to the cold darkness and silence of space. Believing that I had failed him – that I had allowed him to die alone, as he so feared. Then the reports came from Captain Picard that he had been alive all that time, trapped in the Nexus – that Jim had come back, only to be lost to me once again. Permanently.

Or so I thought, until I was marooned on Delta Vega by Nero. Until time and space somehow brought me to save the life of a young Jim Kirk, also marooned on that cold, dangerous planet - by my alternate self. Even emotionally compromised as I was by the loss of Vulcan, I could not deny the hope and joy I experienced at seeing Jim once again – even a Jim that was not truly my own.

And the past four years have aged this Jim - bringing him closer to the age that I first met my own captain. And with Jim's eyes closed in rest, I can almost pretend that he is truly my captain, hazel eyes closed in rest after being hurt on yet another away mission gone wrong.

But this Jim...this Jim does not belong to me. No, he is for another, younger Spock - the one currently serving as first officer aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. I only hope that it does not take my younger counterpart much longer to figure out where he truly belongs - as always, in any universe, at the side of James Tiberius Kirk.

At the side of his t'hy'la – protecting him, supporting him.

Loving him.

Just watching captain and first officer together brings back so many old memories. In many ways, they are like my own captain and myself. Yet, there are many differences. This Spock lost our planet – and our mother – at such a young age. He is angrier and more defiant than I ever was.

And this Jim…

This Jim lost his father mere seconds after being born, suffered through a childhood with a distant mother and a stepfather who did not understand him, and was not even spared the horror of Tarsus despite the many changes between timelines. This Jim saved Earth and the Federation and achieved captaincy over Starfleet's flagship many years before my own Jim.

This Jim… with his blue, blue eyes, and his relentless need to prove himself.

I wish...but it is illogical to wish. What is, is, and no amount of wishful thinking could change reality. But still...

I have lost so much, and just sitting near Jim, any Jim, under any circumstances, makes me feel like I am where I belong. Even now, when Jim is doing no more than sleeping and recovering from his injuries, unaware of my presence, I cannot think of any place I would rather be.

And so, I just cannot resist - I reach out a hand (wrinkled and spotted, to remind me of my age) and cup Jim's cheek (smooth, so smooth, so young). Jim lets out a little huff of breath, turning his face into my warmth. I cannot help the warm rush of affection that suffuses me for this young man. He makes me feel, in a way that I have not experienced since the death of my own Jim Kirk all those years ago. I am helpless in my feelings for him – my love, and protectiveness, and yes, even possessiveness.

Possessiveness that I know is not justified, for this Jim is not mine and never shall be.

And yet, I still cannot resist – I draw my hand from Jim's cheek to his lips, letting the tips of my fingers brush lightly against the lush pink of my t'hy'la's mouth while my mind desperately seeks his, encountering Jim's sleeping psyche, confused by sedatives and pain medication.

I let my fingers rest on his lips, lightly, for long moments - shivering under the warmth of the contact, entranced by the sight and feel of Jim underneath my skin – while my mind brushes against his, knowing that this may be the last time that I shall ever get to do so.

This may be the last kiss that I ever steal from him – and yet, it is one more kiss than I ever dared to dream, lost as Jim was from me for so many years.

Lost as he still is, despite his physical closeness and my attempts at denial.

And as always, I am intoxicated by Jim's presence. So distracted that I do not hear the sound of the doors opening - so absorbed that I do not notice the other presence in the room…

Not until a strong hand roughly grabs my wrist and tears me away from Jim.

"You dare!" my younger counterpart spits, nearly yelling. "The captain is asleep and recovering, after nearly being killed by Romulans that YOU failed to placate, and you DARE molest him?"

I cannot blame this Spock for his anger – I may not have responded outwardly to advances on my own Jim, but I certainly wished to at times. And my younger self must already be on edge due to worry over his captain's injuries – injuries that he had not prevented. It may be illogical, but I always blamed myself for not protecting Jim when he was hurt.

And I always was insecure as to my place in Jim's life. There was just something about him that tore my emotional control away from me.

"One might almost say you were angry, Commander Spock," and reminding my younger self of his lapse in emotional control is just going to anger him further, though he will do his best not to show this outwardly.

As predicted, my younger self visibly collects himself, restraining violent impulses that I cannot remember feeling outside of pon farr or other extenuating circumstances.

Although any time that Jim was injured could be considered an extenuating circumstance – just the thought of losing him…

And the reality of it…I hope it is not something that my younger self has to experience for many, many years.
"Anger is an emotion," the first officer informs me blankly, but that is not a denial of the feeling. "You will stay away from the captain for the remainder of your stay aboard the Enterprise, or I will have you thrown in the brig."

Threats – I do not believe that I would have ever reverted to such primitive means of intimidation… Though perhaps my jealousy of his position in this Jim's life is unfairly clouding my perceptions.

"As Doctor McCoy would say, you are 'jumping to conclusions'. Jim has never objected to my touch."

"That does not give you leave to take liberties while the captain is unconscious, and thus unable to reject you."

"You seem so certain that he will react negatively to my advances. Perhaps he would welcome them."

My younger self stands very stiffly, hands behind his back and spine straight. How much further must I challenge before this Spock asserts his claim over the captain? If I need to give him a little push to realize just how important James Tiberius Kirk is to him...

Well, I only wish that an elder version of myself had given me the same push, before I wasted so much time with my own captain.

"The most you could hope for was pity," Spock states calmly – and yet, his eyes burn in silent anger.

I wonder…

"And you? What is the most you could hope for?"

He visibly falters for a moment, obviously unsure how to react.

"Perhaps you should take the chance, before it is taken from you."

And that sounds like a threat, I know. It implies what I wish was true – that if this Spock does not treat Jim properly, that I will, as Doctor McCoy would say, "sweep him off his feet."

If only…

But at least it will make my younger self think. He looks uncertain, but quickly composes himself as he catches sight of something behind me.

"S-Spock?"

Ah, the captain is awake. Just the sound of his voice is reassuring. I turn to look down into those blue eyes, so unlike my captain's hazel, and yet I feel the same warmth and affection as if this young man was my own t'hy'la.

"Captain, do you need me to call Doctor McCoy? Are you in pain? Do not move - Doctor McCoy said that you will experience dizziness due to the pain medications."

Had I fussed so obviously, all those years ago?

"I'm fine. Don't bother Bones. What...what were you guys talking about, before I woke up? And can I just tell you that it is eerie to see you two talking to each other?"

"You can tell me whatever you wish, captain." And my younger self is obviously angling for a smile.

And yes, there it is. The fond, exasperated tilt of his lips that Jim always wore when Spock was being purposefully obtuse.

"Oh, stop messing with me, Spock. I know you understand way more than you ever let on."

"If I may interrupt, I am glad to see you awake, Jim." And again, I just cannot resist – I reach forward to lightly brush my fingers across Jim's lips – truly, one last kiss.

My younger counterpart actually growls, yanking me away from the captain. Jim, in contrast, just looks up at us with wide eyes, slowly licking his lips as if tasting my touch. The kiss was too brief for any meaningful contact between our minds, but perhaps Jim felt the brush of my mind against his.

I hope so, at least – no matter how illogical hope is. What is, is. And hope is all I have left – because it is time to step aside for my younger self.

"I believe I will leave the two of you to talk."

And before the doors close behind me, I can hear Jim curiously asking "What was that all about?"

And if I know myself - which I do - absolute possessiveness over Jim will not let this Spock answer anything but honestly.

I hope that by the time I leave the Enterprise to return to New Vulcan, I will be saying good-bye to a bonded command team.