"history says so"
Genre: Humor, Drama
Time Frame: ST-XI
Characters: Spock, Kirk
Summary: In another life they were good friends, the closest of comrades, heroes really . . . In this life they have one down. Sorta, anyway.
Notes: Everybody run and hide, Mira's pulling out the bromance guns. *gasp* But really, this is just me trying to connect the dots between the wee little tots in the film, and the more seasoned (used to each other) characters in the TOS. A few of the lines from the chess scene I stole from TOS episodes, you should be able to recognize them and assign them credit accordingly.
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine for the words, and I'm okay with that. Those working the official ST drama . . . rock on. I can't complain.
"history says so"
If there was one thing James T. Kirk was used to, it was the moment after. He was used to the precise moment when the adrenaline fled and real life came in, settling heavy on your shoulders as the weariness running through your veins announced itself loudly. He was used to the crash after the high, and he was certainly used to feeling it acutely the morning after.
And yet, there were no bar brawl marks to show this time. No quarters he was sneaking out of, or hypo he was pleading off of McCoy to help with last night's drinks side-effects. This time, he was just bone weary.
It had been about an hour since the destruction of the Narada and their subsequent escape from the black hole. The trudge back to Earth was a slow one – they were about three standard days away given their capability of only impulse thrusters. The whole of the crew was functioning on little more than sheer determination and post battle euphoria. In thirty minutes the beta shift would begin and his senior officers would switch out for their replacements for some well deserved rest. At least, that was how it was supposed to go – he had a feeling that most of his bridge crew would have to be scraped and peeled away from their stations. The pilot – Sulu, his name was, the one with the sword skills - he was in his glory trying to coax the broken ship home just a little faster . . . And Spock had taken to walking with him through the decks and checking on each division of the personnel. They had been an odd back and forth to be sure, but it had been one that worked in an odd way. Now back on the bridge, Spock took care of most of the inquiries that flooded in while he leaned back in his chair, bone weary at best. A few stations over Nyota(and ha! He had a name!) carried on sorting through both internal and external chatter, casting surreptitious glances over to Spock every few moments as if assuring herself that he was still there, alive and well before her. He'd smile at how see through the two were now that he knew, but frankly, smiling hurt too much at the moment.
Everything hurt too much at the moment.
Sure, he'd been in worse condition before, it was just taking some time for him to remember just when that was. This combination of injuries was a new one for him – he still itched at his scalp from whatever McCoy had dosed him with, and his body ached everywhere from the fistfights he had been in – hitting the drill the wrong way and crashing with Sulu to a chase with an overgrown snow spider and a fight with a Vulcan . . . He was pretty sure that there was a cracked rib or two, he could feel it when he breathed. Breathing was also made difficult from the burning sensation still around his neck from where his airways had been unceremoniously squished together – and that wasn't his fault. If he had known that he wouldn't have been able to get one punch in on his first officer, then he wouldn't have tried so hard to tick him off.
. . . the beating from Nero and Ayel explained everything else.
When Spock carried over a stack of PADDs for him to review, he quite firmly decided that his head really, really hurt.
He tried to keep his face straight and serene, hoping the other man wouldn't notice. They may not have been at each others throats any more, but that didn't mean he wanted the man viewing him as an idiot . . . or worse, a human.
. . . Maybe he could sneak away and crash for a bit – twenty minutes, that was all he needed.
. . . he didn't have quarters to crash in, seeing as how he wasn't even technically assigned to this ship.
McCoy's office was promising . . .
The sickbay would be loud right now.
He was seriously eying the conference room adjacent to the bridge with something like contemplation.
Spock was looking at him, his head slightly tilted, his eyes narrowed curiously. Inwardly Kirk both marveled at his ability to read the man – gallivanting around in someone else's mind helped loads with things like that – even as he noted with amusement how like the elder Ambassador his mannerisms were.
"Captain," he was starting formally. "I have addressed you twice, are you well?"
He snapped out of the haze he had fallen in. "Yeah, I'm fine." He gestured to the PADDs in the other man's hands. "What fresh sort of torture do you have for me?"
That brow was raising. He already didn't like that brow.
"I have nothing of a detrimental order for you in store, Captain." That dry humor that wasn't meant to be. "And if you are referring to the reports, I shall complete them for you."
Kirk narrowed his eyes, struggling to make everything compute.
"By my estimation, you have gone for close to seventy-three hours without indulging in sleep. Your body is resenting that at this moment, I am sure. Sir, you require rest."
His vision was going blurry around the edges. Spock's face swarm in and out of his vision. He shook his head to clear it. "I'm fine, Mr. Spock," he said, and really – he wanted to be. He was going to be Captain for all of their two days limping back to Earth, and then he'd be held up on who knew what kind of charges. He wanted to enjoy this while it lasted.
Everyone on the bridge was tired. He deserved no more special treatment than them.
He got to his feet as if to prove himself, much to Spock's raising of that same brow.
When he stumbled not one stride away from his seat he scowled when he felt the Vulcan's hand at his elbow, supporting him.
"Shall you partake in rest now, Captain?" The request was just that, but the tone was firm.
His legs were shaking. That conference room was sounding even better by the moment.
"I think that that might be wise," he said, his voice wheezing a little. Walking around had pushed at injuries that he had not even known he had while still high on adrenaline and euphoria.
Spock was watching him closely, and if he didn't know any better he would have sworn that he saw guilt and concern both there. "It would also be wise for me to accompany you," he was saying crisply.
He snorted, "I can get off of the bridge on my own, Mr. Spock."
He took another step, and stumbled again. When Spock caught him about the ribs he felt an unpleasant pressure on the broken things there. His vision danced black for a moment.
"Clearly," was the Vulcan's dry reply.
He glared, just because it made him feel better. Any retort was robbed from him under the struggle of staying upright.
Spock turned and said, "Mr. Sulu, the conn is yours," for him. He was kinda grateful as his first officer helped him to the lift – half dragging and half helping him walk.
God, he must have looked like a child.
And yet, he saw that in none of his crew's eyes. Just an admiration, and a concern. He tried to focus on that as his body violently rebelled against him. It helped, a little.
When Spock commanded the lift to go to Sickbay, he didn't have the will to argue.
McCoy will fix this, was all he could think as he leaned against the wall, fighting to keep his eyes open.
"The Doctor reported that surgery with Pike was completed successfully twenty minutes ago. He should be able to assist you, knowing of your unique medical situation."
The allergies and the beatings his body had taken before. This was no different.
Kirk tried not to smile over at the hovering Vulcan, amused as he was by the other man's concern. It wasn't as odd as he would have thought it to be . . . it was fitting, almost. Anyway, the strange sort of back and forth that they had settled into over the last hours felt right. It felt like something that they could work and grow on.
. . . If he made it out of this mess without a court marshal, that was.
The thought sent a fresh wave of weariness through him.
Spock was talking on about this and that as the floors leapt by them – and whoever designed this should be stunned for their attachment to bright lights. He raised a hand over his eyes.
"You know," Kirk said during a lull in the conversation. "I wanted to apologize for everything I said back there . . . it was harsh, no matter what ends I had in mind."
Spock was quiet for a long moment, "Your apologies are unneeded, as your motives were understandable and logical both."
Kirk fought to keep from rolling his eyes.
A moment of silence passed.
"I however . . ." Spock hesitated. "I however, feel compelled to express my regrets at trying to strangle you. The emotional lapse was unpardonable on my part."
The statement was so unexpected that Kirk had to choke back a laugh, the effort making his sides hurt. In the statement he could hear the fresh guilt and apology both, even as his mind inserted a dry humor that was all his own.
"Don't mention it, Number One, don't mention it," he chuckled as the lift opened to the bound chaos of the medbay after a crisis.
Spock moved to help him walk, and he didn't complain this time when he looped an arm around the other man's shoulders and depended on him to keep him upright. The Vulcan seemed to have gotten over his whole physical contact thing . . . Or maybe that was just the guilt.
Either way, when McCoy came over and started snapping about him and his propensity to attract violence like a moth to the flame, he tried not to smile too much when Spock made no move to make a quick escape.
In another life they were good friends, the closest of comrades, heroes really, he knew . . . In this life they had one down. Sorta, anyway.
It was nice to think that they were working on the other two.
He woke up hours later in Sickbay.
His side was still throbbing, and he hurt slightly less than everywhere, but it was now a different sort of ache - nothing more than a low throb coursing numbly through him. The ache told him he was getting better, that he was on the mend. It was a state of hiatus in his life that he was used to.
He blinked against the drugs that were coursing through his veins. Whatever McCoy had him on, its purpose was to make him sleep, that was for sure. Even the task of lifting his hands to rub wearily at his eyes was a bit too much for his trembling limbs at the moment.
Sure enough, McCoy's gruff voice was the first thing that hit him. "You should try to get some more sleep, kid. You've just put your body through a grinder, you do realize?"
He winced as he sat upright. Gods, but there was more than one hurt rib in there. They pushed and pulled as if they had just recently been repaired with the bone replicator. How he hated that thing . . .
"I had no idea," he drawled out on a wince. The room was spinning.
McCoy rolled his eyes. "Well, you've got the normal line of injuries after a heavy fistfight – nothing out of the normal for you. I want you here for observation for the concussion, but past that you should be mending within a few more hours. Sleep would help that." The last suggestion was anything but.
Jim shrugged. "Overrated. I have a ship to run."
"And if I tell you you're unfit for duty, you're not running anything," McCoy insisted, pressing on his shoulder to get him to lay back down again.
Kirk glared mutinously. "Bastard," he hissed when the muscles in his side contracted painfully at the rough treatment.
McCoy shrugged. "It's part of my charm," he muttered as he passed a stylus over the chart in his hand. "You'll thank me for it later."
His reply was to maturely stick his tongue out. "Your bedside manner sucks," Jim informed him glumly. "I hope you know that."
Another shrug. Apparently the chart was more interesting than he was.
Tapping his fingers on the mattress, Jim looked around, wondering if Spock was here, or if he had slipped back to the bridge. When his neck hurt too much from the strain, he slumped back against the pillows, weary already.
Whatever hypo he was on, he wanted off of it.
"Spock hasn't left," McCoy commented absently. "And if there was one thing I never thought I'd see this side of Orion's belt, it would be that Vulcan hovering over you like a mother hen."
Kirk snorted at the mental image. "What can I say, it's my irrefutable charm."
McCoy rolled his eyes. "Sure. That's what it is."
When Kirk turned his head to the left he saw Spock over at the Medbay's entrance. The Commander was leaning slightly against the wall, his arms crossed in what could be called a casual way if it wasn't in reference to Spock. A few feet from him was Lieutenant Uhura, who had just gotten off shift. The woman was all smiles, and she kept on switching her weight from one foot to another as she spoke. Her gestures were animated while still cool and poised. Spock watched her with a tender patience, admiration coloring his eyes darker to anyone looking for it.
Which Kirk certainly was.
"Uhura, right?" McCoy questioned. "Never did find out her first name, did you?" There was a subtle teasing in his voice.
Jim scowled. "Her name's Nyota."
McCoy raised a brow. "Really?"
"How'd you manage that one?" Bones asked curiously.
"Spock," Kirk said, and that was all he would say.
McCoy blinked once. Twice. Three times . . . and then he frowned. When he laughed, Kirk tried his very best not to scowl.
"Clearly, you aren't her type," McCoy said, still shaking his head. "Oh, but that is priceless."
Kirk made a face. "Laugh it up."
"You bet I will, Casanova. You bet I will . . ."
"Some wingman you are."
McCoy shrugged, and Kirk was almost grateful when Spock came back over, cutting off that particular line of teasing at the bud.
"Captain, may I inquire as to how you fare?"
Kirk looked past Spock to where Nyota smiled once at them both before leaving. When he leaned back against the pillows he shrugged. "I could be worse, Number One."
McCoy snorted. "And that's an understatement," he muttered. "And just what did you get yourself into? – past the obvious. There were gashes all over your back that coincided with – and get this – Hengrauggi poisoning."
Kirk winced. So that was what the scratches were . . . He thought that he was just worse for the wear after tumbling down the sheet of ice on that god forsaken planet . . .
"If by Hengrauggi you mean giant evil red spider Godzilla brute, then yeah. That's it."
McCoy blinked at him. "You're serious, aren't you?"
"Um . . . yeah?"
"You did not stay in your pod, I presume," Spock said dully.
His eyes were slightly widened around the corners, Kirk fought the urge to punch a triumphant fist in the air.
McCoy snorted. "And you seriously expected him too?" he muttered. "Jim's reputation is not just talk."
"Indeed," Spock whispered.
McCoy was hunting around for the hypo that would help with whatever was wrong while Jim winced. He was sick of meds already . . .
He fought the urge to tighten his fists. "Is this going to knock me out?" he asked, tired already.
McCoy shook his head. "No. But you should sleep for a few more hours before getting back up again."
Bones knew him that well.
He also knew him well enough to know that he hated hospitals – or doctors of any kind. "You can sleep in my quarters, kid. I'm going to be on alert here for a while."
Kirk frowned. His CMO looked bone weary to him too. "As much as I'd like to invade your personal space, I personally don't want to be on hand tomorrow when you decide to complain about your back from sleeping in your office – and then blame me."
"Really Kirk, I'm fine."
"And to think that I ever complained about your bedside manners."
"Don't you dare say anything different," McCoy growled gruffly. "I have a reputation, you know."
"Don't we know," Kirk rolled his eyes.
Spock had been thoughtfully silent the whole conversation through. Until then. "Captain, if I insisted, you could take my quarters."
That was . . . odd.
Both Kirk and McCoy blinked over at him.
The Vulcan blinked back. "It is logical – I do not require rest for another twenty hour cycle. The Doctor does, as do you."
Kirk still blinked at him.
"Besides," Spock said next. "I have accommodations I can seek elsewhere, if need be."
Ah . . . Lieutenant Uhura's quarters. Kirk chuckled at that. "Now you're just sticking in the knife, you do realize?"
"Captain?" Spock questioned, clearly not understanding.
It hurt his sides to actually laugh, so Kirk just rolled his eyes. "I think I'll take you up on that."
McCoy passed a look between the both of them, and frowned. "The damn apocalypse is coming, if you ask me," he muttered gruffly as he got to his feet. "I thought that we just stopped one of those today."
Kirk snorted back his laughter, wondering how his friend would react if he told him about the older Spock he had met . . . He had scarce believed it himself at the time.
The older version of Spock had thought him a hero – and he was in that life. The old version of Spock thought that he had merit and worth – a Captain without a question. He hadn't realized how much he wanted a friend like that until that moment.
When he looked at the Vulcan out of the corner of his eyes, he tried picturing that here. It wasn't necessary that hard to see anymore.
He was silent, though, he did not want the universe to blow up. He had had quite enough of things blowing up today to last for a few weeks, at least. Maybe he'd tell Spock about his older self when he was more in the mood for a paradoxical rift that tore apart time and space. It sounded like a plan.
. . . Clearly the meds were getting to him.
Gods, but he knew things were bad when he knew he needed to sleep . . .
Shaking his head, he got to his feet, and let Spock lead him once more.
He woke on the next day's cycle. After an hour of McCoy's strict(ranting) instructions, and force feeding, he was deemed well enough to take reports from his quarters. In the end the shifting through the mainstream of information the Enterprise had to offer was easy, soothing even. He found his talents of directing and multitasking increasing exponentially.
He still hated the paperwork. Hated it to the point of twitching . . . and knew that there would be even more upon reaching Earth.
As soon as the Enterprise was close enough to Earth to sustain long distance transmissions without draining on their remaining power, he suffered through what he thought would be a disastrous meeting with the council of Admirals with Spock by his side. In the end, the meeting went well – he was even thanked and congratulated for his quick wit under a crisis situation and his exemplary service to Starfleet.
He walked on air after the transmission, the dangerous stirrings of hope and euphoria rendering the rest of his injuries inconsequential the rest of the day.
When at the end of the alpha and beta shift, Spock asked to engage him in a game of chess, he tried hard not to smile at the Vulcan's perplexed admission that he had heard of Kirk's little talked about grandmaster status from Doctor McCoy.
In the end, with the ritual of another time, another place, played out before him, he thinks that he understood how they were friends in another life so very well. Spock was the hardest he'd had to play to defeat an opponent in a long, long time.. He took the first game, and was not surprised when the Commander took the next two. Obviously Spock had underestimated him in the first one.
This last game was stretching way past the hour mark as they worked in a strange tandem, giving and taking, ebbing and flowing. They were almost uncannily matched, it would seem.
Kirk's only comment to their strange equilibrium was to comment, "You play a very irritating game of chess, Mr. Spock."
Spock's later comment was, "Your illogical approach to the game does have its advantages at times."
"I prefer to call it inspired," he countered.
"As you wish."
And so they continued.
When, a quarter hour later, he threw out, "I think that I'm actually going to try aiming to keep my Captaincy." He watched the Vulcan's expression closely, wondering what he would think of it. Knowing, oddly enough, that the knowledge meant more than he would have thought it would to him.
Spock was quiet for a long, long moment. "I do believe – that in the event that Command should agree - that you shall serve well in that position."
"High praise indeed, coming from you."
Spock shrugged. "It is not praise, sir, simply a statement of fact."
"Aw, now you are just flattering me."
Spock raised a brow.
Kirk wasn't too surprised when he lost his queen's rook. Kirk rallied with a Vojornav defense, and was pleased when Spock's bishop joined his steadily growing pile of pieces.
"So, as theoretical Captain," Kirk started thoughtfully. "I'd need a first officer."
"That you would," Spock said neutrally.
Kirk smiled, his eyes narrowing as he took in the board. "You happen to know any good first officer types around?"
Spock heaved a mock sigh. Kirk's remaining knight vanished in a Machilin's square. "There is an abundance of noteworthy officers to be sure. Commander Naverdov, for example, is a competent tactician and well versed in command protocol – she would be of an essence to you there."
Kirk winced. "Have you seen Commander Naverdov?"
Spock blinked. "Why yes, Captain."
"Jim," Kirk corrected absently. "She's just . . ."
"Dignified?" Spock supplied.
" . . . Ah."
"It would be like my mother watching me."
Spock understood. "May I suggest Commander Kilm'vae? He is a fine officer of significant merits and credentials."
"He sprays spit when he talks."
Spock raised a brow.
"He was my professor for Advanced Tactics – I had a front row seat."
"It is truly unthinkable that you would be moved from the back," Spock commented dryly.
Kirk chose to ignore the comment, and moved his queen's knight's pawn up two spaces. "Anyway, my issue stands."
"He is Kalmorian, it is to be expected."
Kirk shuddered. "Exactly."
Spock took a slightly deeper breath through his nose – the closest Kirk wagered he would ever get to a full sigh. "Commander Tisorin?"
"You really think that that'd be wise?"
"She is an intelligent, refined lady of many tastes."
Kirk looked at him pointedly.
It took a moment for it to compute for Spock, whose ears flushed slightly green at the tips. "Ah," was all that he said.
Kirk tried not to chuckle, and moved his queen in a Sanderson's offensive.
Spock blocked it with his king's knight.
Kirk cursed, and observed the board anew. "So," he started casually. "I know this guy – a little stiff, and he hates my guts at time, but he's not a bad sort. He knows my . . . quirks, and is a good think to my leap . . . He's qualified in every which way you'd think to look - and currently free for this position. Do you think he'd take it?"
Spock was quiet, very quiet.
Kirk fought the urge to fidget. "I'd need character references, of course," he tried to joke.
Spock was still quiet, his eyes were looking with an unusual intensity at the board. "Your offer is an honor, Captain."
Kirk heard the 'but' there, and he felt something sink inside. He thinks that it was all of the progress that he had thought that they had made that made the twisting feeling settle in his stomach. So, he still was on the other man's last nerve to the point where he'd want to take a positioning off the Enterprise . . . The thought stung.
If he took one of Spock's pawns out of spite for the heck of it, the other man did not comment.
"It is not a reflection on you personally, if I decline," Spock was saying thoughtfully.
Kirk nodded, silent.
"As it stands, I am not sure if Starfleet will be in my future at all,"
Kirk's head snapped up from the board sharply at that. "What are you saying?" he asked, bewildered.
Spock was looking at him as if what he had said was the most natural thing. "What wasn't clear, so that I may redefine?"
"Everything," Kirk said, moving his hands in a wide sweeping measure.
The corners of Spock's lips turned down in what could have been a frown on anyone else. Kirk suddenly found his queen in danger. Saving the said queen would be detrimental to his king . . . Scowling, he set up so that he could take as many of the Commander's pieces as he could once his queen was gone.
That Vladchin trap . . . he fell for it every time.
Spock said then, very softly and very slowly, "My people have suffered a great blow." And that much Kirk knew – he had seen it in the face of every Vulcan he passed in the hall, had felt it in the Ambassador's mind as clearly as he felt it leaking from the stoic man sitting opposite him. "In light of my people's loss, it is only wise that I resign my commission and assist in the rebuilding of our world."
Kirk was very still for a moment, not even blinking when Spock took his queen. That was . . . unexpected. That was also . . . logical. Drats.
Cursing Nero for once again taking something profound from him, he took Spock's opposing bishop with more force than necessary. "I understand," he said softly. "You have a duty."
"I do," Spock seemed to be reminding himself.
"It sucks," Kirk offered next, voicing the other man's displeasure where he himself would not.
"It is not . . . ideal," Spock gave.
Kirk snorted. "Does your girl know yet?"
Spock raised a brow.
"Don't play coy with me," Kirk rolled his eyes. "And don't deny it either – just how long have you two been going steady?"
"It shall be a year in five weeks time," Spock offered up readily. His tone of voice told Kirk that the science officer could have it narrowed down to the day and hour if asked.
Kirk blew out a breath through his teeth. It had been hopeless for him for that long? Longer still, a snide voice offered up in his mind. He rolled his eyes at it. "You are a lucky man," was all that he said.
Spock's soft, "I know," was the furthest he'd get on the subject, he knew. The Vulcan was staring at the board, not making a move, and he understood just how much was weighing on him at the moment – loosing so much, and standing to loose even more still,
"Will she go with you?" Kirk asked next.
"I will not ask her," Spock said, still staring. "Nyota has so much here – already she stands poised to be one of the best linguists Starfleet has known. She has much to offer the galaxy, and much to take in return. I will not take that from her."
Kirk was silent for a moment, thinking. "People give up much for those they love," was the only thing he said, hoping that Spock understood anyway.
"Vulcan is a hard society for one to blend in to," this was said with a voice as dry as ever, but Kirk saw the tightening lines about his eyes – the clenching of his hands. This was from personal experience, he knew – his mother's also, most likely. "I would not ask Nyota to do that for me."
"She might just demand," Kirk said.
Spock shook his head ruefully. "I will speak with her on it."
Kirk nodded, satisfied, even though he knew that he was now poised to loose two amazing officers. And friends.
Odd, how the events of a day could change a person.
He took a deep breath, and moved his remaining bishop in a Henson's last stand. Spock had him backed in a corner – but it was one of the longest games, and most challenging, he could remember playing in a long time.
"Well, if things turn out for the better, know that my offer still stands."
Spock nodded, his long fingers reaching out to take his king. The computer ended the game with a satisfied sort of flicker.
"Thank-you," Spock said softly. He only hesitated for a second before addressing him for the first as, "Jim."
Kirk smiled, and reached out to pat the other man on the back when he got to his feet. Spock only tensed slightly under the contact. "Don't mention it – it's my honor."
His step only faltered once when he realized that that much was true and more.
When, two standard weeks later, he appeared before his crew, official in Captain's gold with the stars waiting ready all around them, the only thing missing was Spock. He saw Uhura fiddling nervously at her station, and he also saw the anxious way her wide eyes would dart to the turbolift every time someone came or went, and so he had a hunch.
When, right before they pulled away, Spock came onto the bridge, causing her eyes to light with relief and his own with an i-told-you-so sort of humor, he tried hard not to smile too widely.
"If you wish, I can provide character references."
At that Kirk did chuckle. "That will not be necessary," he said then, and as Spock took his seat, he turned to Sulu to instruct their departure.
Around them the stars threatened to fade away as the great ship shuddered, and he leaned back comfortably in his seat, ready for history to take them wherever she had in mind.