...

Jim had to blink himself back into reality; he had no excuse to stare.

"Do you require something at this moment?" Spock asked in a formal fashion as he casually slipped on his blue tunic. Well, that explained where Mr. Spock was and now he really wanted to know who was in command on his Bridge.

"Ah, no," he started, then gestured with his full arms, "um, I think Uhura just made us roommates."

Spock paused and inclined his head, "I see." The Commander looked away briefly, but it was more than enough for Jim to translate it as discomfort. Jim wanted to say something, but Spock continued. "Lt. Uhura failed to mention whom I would be sharing this cabin with." Jim walked forward and set his stuff on the nearby empty desk.

"Do you not want me as a roommate, Mr. Spock?" That made the Commander snap forward but retain his emotionless façade.

"That would be illogical, Captain. As you and I are the senior officers aboard this vessel, it is logical to that we share a cabin for the duration of this transport."

"You don't seem too excited about it." Spock's brow lifted in just the right way to tell him 'Vulcans don't get excited'. "Oh, right," Jim muttered, echoing the silent thoughts beamed into his head, "'Vulcans don't get excited'. Right."

Mr. Spock stood still, appearing like he was wondering how he had gotten into this situation and probably thinking about their earlier discussion. Though they had the potential to be friends, they were still kind of strangers. It was logic that they share since they were the senior officers, but living with someone closely was what you did with someone you knew, and since they hardly knew anything about the other save the whole Narada Crisis and about twelve hours of actual contact, Uhura might as well have roomed him with a random crewman.

For a brief instant, he wondered if it would be rude to ask Uhura to reassign them. He liked Spock, had learned to respect him after their crisis, and didn't want to make that willingly given loyalty banish just because they found they couldn't share room space. Thinking it best, Jim turned back to his things and gathered them back up into his arms.

"Don't worry about it, Mr. Spock." He said as he gathered his drawstring bag back up over his shoulder, the Vulcan watching him intently, "I'll just have Uhura rearrange us. It won't be too much of a problem, I'm sure." He started for the door. Just as he got within the motion detector's range, Spock called to him. This was becoming an annoying coincidence.

"Jim." The sound of his monosyllabic name called in that baritone made him stop at once and turn back to face the Commander. Hearing his name fall from those lips was almost like a luxury considering he often just stuck to titles.

"Would you rather a more formal valediction, Mr. Spock?" Jim asked sheepishly in a last attempt as a joke by using the Vulcan's own words from weeks ago. He really didn't think the Commander would get the reference as he figured Spock wouldn't have been thinking about it quite like he had, but the small warmth in his stoic features told him differently. The Commander didn't make an effort to move after him, but switched his weight from one foot to the other, then looked at him directly.

"No, Captain." he hesitated, "I wished to say that, I did not intend to sound repulsed by the notion of sharing a cabin with you." another hesitation, "In fact, I would be honoured." Jim smiled as he took in those dark eyes and watched as they changed in the lighting from a deep black to that warm chocolate Jim found himself fond of. Jim sat his belongings down and approached the Commander slowly, like his movements might make Spock run off if he wasn't careful, then he stood fully in front of the taller Vulcan and grinned.

"I would be honoured too, Commander." Almost like a whisper, although he hadn't meant for it to be that way, it just came naturally. Spock's gaze flicked down somewhere on his face, then back up languidly. It looked like he was going to say something more, but anything he may have uttered was quickly muffled as the door behind them swished open and in place of their silence was the loud whistling of some song Jim didn't recognize.

The Commander peered over his shoulder while Jim immediately turned to whoever appeared. The face in the doorway wasn't the only one surprised.

"I'm going to kill that woman." Bones grumbled as he violently set his small bag where Jim had put his, Jim and Spock nearly crowding together in the small cabin to make room for his rampage.

"That would be most unfortunate, Dr. McCoy," Spock said in a perfect evenness, "Lt. Uhura is a vital officer. Her death would be most regrettable." The doctor completely ignored the comment and all of his best friend's attempts at saying hello as he slumped himself angrily down on the nearest bed, which happened to be nearest the door, leaving the other two beds, which were side by side on the other side of the room, the obvious ones Jim and Spock would have to occupy.

"I knew I should have looked at the roster a little harder!" Bones complained, evidently as surprised as Jim was to find Spock but not nearly as enthusiastic about it.

"I do not think that would have accomplished much, Doctor." Spock continued, "Unless you had time to scroll through all 1,543 persons listed to look specifically for the ones sharing your cabin number." Bones only shot him a dirty look, but when he realized it would have no effect, he turned to Jim who was jollying himself at their expense.

"You set this up, didn't you?"

Jim mocked hurt, "Dr. McCoy, I am deeply offended! How could you accuse me—your best friend—of having anything to do with this?"

Bones rolled his eyes. "Because it sounds just like something my best friend would do. Are you trying to put me in an early grave?" Before Jim could retort, Spock decided to interrupt with his logic.

"I hardly see how sharing personal space with myself and the Captain could affect your mortality." That was totally a jab at Bones, no matter what Spock might tell him, that Vulcan had just been snarky. Bones could see through it too.

"I don't like you."

The Commander didn't appear surprised. "Then it is fortunate that our approval of each other is mutual, Doctor. I may not dislike you, as that would be a Human trait, but I certainly would not want you to think that I like you."

Bones got up from his bed, "Why you green-blooded—" and approached Spock so closely with a finger in his face that Jim just knew all hell was about to break loose. He wiggled his way in between them and managed to stave off the doctor before he could swing around any serious insults.

"Bones, Bones." Jim said calmly and pushing him away from the stiff Vulcan who now wore an air of 'I'm better than you, kiss my Vulcan ass', "Chill. Just chill, okay?" The doctor didn't look like he was going to settle down easily, and since Jim understood that Bones was still upset over the whole 'jettison Jim to his death' thing, he decided that maybe this wouldn't work with the three of them. Uhura would just have to reassign one of them.

Bones stormed away and sat himself right back on his bed in aggression. Spock appeared indifferent to the whole matter, which really meant his panties were in a Vulcan knot too. Jim sighed. "Okay, guys, look. If it's really going to be that much of a problem," no matter how unbelievably hilarious I think this could be, "I'll just have Uhura reassign us. It's no big deal." That didn't just get the doctor's attention, but the Commander's as well, and almost in perfect unison. It shouldn't have been funny, but it was.

"I am not leaving." They both declared at the same time. Realizing this, they peered hard at each other, but Spock's was far more muted. Jim really tried not to laugh. They were both stubborn assholes. "I refuse to leave, he'll have to leave!" Bones barked.

"Dr. McCoy, I was assigned to this cabin before you, if anyone should be forced to leave, logically, it should be you."

Bones huffed, fell back on his bed and propped his feet up in a good old country style. "I've already gotten comfortable. To hell with your logic, I'm stayin'!" The Commander didn't miss a beat as he, too, walked over to one of the other beds and promptly sat himself down. Jim swore he could see the tension in his joints.

"Likewise. I am also staying." Bones grumbled and Spock looked in the opposite direction like he was doing the Vulcan equivalent of 'talk to the hand'. That had done it, Jim laughed. Hard. He never thought it was possible, but Jim literally laughed until his insides were hurting and he had the most uncomfortable urge to urinate. He finally managed to stop long enough to welcome his new roommates and take claim of the last bed. They would have to rearrange everything later, because if they kept the bed like this, Jim's rolling habit would ultimately put him on Spock's side in the middle of the night. But that was a matter for later. Or not, as Bones suggested they start sectioning off the room because he didn't want Vulcan germs on his side.

"Vulcans have similar bacterial properties that are typically found in the Human epidermis as well, Doctor, I do not see how—" Bones ignored him and pushed his bed as far away as possible.

"I don't want to hear it. You just stick to your side and I'll stick to mine."

For the rest of the time, Jim had giggle fits through their room arrangements. Both were stubborn and that just made it all the more entertaining. Spock wanted to formally lay out an extensive plan that divided the room into three equal parts, but Bones wouldn't have any of that. Instead, he decided to declare a certain piece of carpet as his territory and how more than a third of the shared shelves were going to be where he put his books and journals. There was a lot of arguing (well, more Bones arguing and the Commander just raising an eyebrow every now and then and stating something as illogical), but finally, the room was divided as well as it could be. Jim shuddered at the thought of how they were going to make the single bathroom work out after that tornado of hilarity.

Finally, with the doctor placing his things on the shelf and Spock unpacking small Vulcan items to place near his bed, which he had pushed to the far opposite wall of Jim's, things had quieted down. The end result was that the Bones portion of the room centred about the front area, and Jim and Spock's portions were divided in the back. With three people, the cabin looked exceedingly small, but they would manage. Jim was sure. There weren't any records in Starfleet that told of a Captain, a First Officer and a Doctor all killing each other by sharing a closed environment, however, that did sound like the opening to a horrible joke. Note to self: Make a joke that starts with 'so a Captain, a First Officer and a Doctor walk into a bar...'

All joking aside, Jim was just pleased to see things calm. He was worried for a little bit there that he was going to have see if the replicators could produce a referee shirt. It was a good thing this would only be for a week. He couldn't imagine this working any longer than that.

Now that all this was settled, it was back to business, Jim reluctantly told himself. Turning to Mr. Spock who was making sure his sheets were as flat as his humour, he asked who had the conn on his Bridge. The Commander answered quickly and respectfully.

"Mr. Sulu, Captain."

"Ah, okay, good. Don't you think it's time we go relieve him? Now that we're all settled in here I think it's time we get back to the matters at hand." He started for the door and paused. "Bones, you coming?" He asked when it looked like the doctor was too comfy on his bed.

"I ain't gotta do nothing until the refugees are beamed aboard, so I figured I'd rest a bit until then." And just as if the universe (oh, sorry, scratch that), multiverse made it a habit to ruin Dr. McCoy's good spirits about being left alone in the cabin, the wall intercom whistled and out spoke the delicate and uncertain voice of Lt. White.

"Bridge to Captain Kirk." Jim tried to hide his smile as he figured his friend's quiet time was about to be ruined. He clicked the intercom on in one hit.

"Captain Kirk here."

"We have arrived at Starbase 3, Sir. Mr. Scott has already gone to the Transporter room and is awaiting your arrival to begin the transports."

"Thank you, Lt. White." He heard Bones grouse some curses under his breath about 'great timing'. Jim snickered, "Have Lt. Uhura send a copy of the lodging rosters to the security team, I want them to escort our guests once they are on board."

"Yes, Sir." And the intercom was turned off. When he turned to face the doctor, Bones was already getting up.

"Looks like your break is over." Jim confirmed.

"Thanks, Captain Obvious." Bones muttered but actually didn't seem all that upset about it. "I'll follow out after you and First Officer Logical." The Commander raised a brow to the coined nickname. Jim decided to tug his First Officer along before any insults ensued after they just settled everything.

"Don't mind Dr. Disgruntlement."

"Hah, you're funny, Jim."

Jim flashed his best ego induced smile. "Thank you, Doctor. Now, come along, Mr. Spock. We have refugees to greet." He led himself out, knowing that Mr. Spock would be directly behind him (not sure how he knew), but slightly turned his head anyway, just to make sure. There Spock was, walking coolly behind him, his hands at his sides and his back straight to give him a powerful posture. Seeing him like that made his heart flutter, as he hadn't seen Spock walking so loyally behind him since their academy days.

He stopped. He hadn't known Spock like that back at the academy. In fact, Spock had been his instructor, but never had he followed him anywhere for any reason. If anything, due to Jim being an energetic cadet, they had avoided each other when at all possible. The most amount of time they had spent with each other on campus had been limited to that one semester class and the Kobayashi Maru hearing. That memory, which did feel like a memory, didn't make sense.

"Is everything all right, Captain?" Mr. Spock asked, no concern voiced but implied. Jim had to shake his head mentally. Where had that thought come from? Why did he even think such a thing? He had no explanation, but he did appear to have a pattern. The last time he felt his head like this had been two weeks ago when he was with… no. Jim was reading too much into it. He was just stressed and excited about his Captaincy and first mission. That was it. Yeah.

"I'm fine, Mr. Spock." Jim told him as he put back on his famous smile. "Shall we continue?" Before Spock could voice his opinion, Jim started off again, going off so quickly that he missed the small allowance of puzzlement and suspicion on Spock's face. And he wouldn't get a second chance either, because when he turned to make sure the Commander was still following him, it was gone. Hidden behind the mask of Vulcan civilities.

...

The Transporter Room was packed, or at least fuller than he had ever seen it. Jim was thankful the room was more spacious than he thought, what with security guards lining up to guide their guests to their rooms and the first waiting party of six Vulcans to be beamed aboard. Everything was ready to go and the beaming could start. An officer at the starbase cleared them ready. All that remained was the go ahead to Mr. Scott.

"Aye, ready when ye are, Cap'n." The Captain was just about to say go for it, when he stopped and twirled to look at his stoic First Officer, prim and proper beside him, hands folded nicely behind his back.

"Hold that thought, Scotty." Spock lifted a brow questioningly. Jim then dropped his voice to a whisper. "Uh, Mr. Spock, I'm not exactly familiar with Vulcan customs. Do I need to do anything special in greeting?" The Commander didn't give a reply but inclined his head and removed his hands from his back.

"Vulcans traditionally greet with the Vulcan salute, Captain." He demonstrated by lifting his right hand and extending all his fingers, his first and middle fingers put together and spaced away from his ring and pinky fingers, which were also put together to form what looked like a 'V' shape. Studying it, he then lifted his own hand and tried to make the gesture.

He failed miserably.

Jim tried placing his fingers together with his other hand, but once released, they parted as if tied to a spring. "This hand thing isn't working out." Jim muttered. But then to his rescue, and happening slowly just like with the decorations, the Commander stepped forward and took his right hand into his palms. The Vulcan hands were intensely warm and soft, unlike the vision he had in his mind of them being dry and calloused. Logically, and a lot quicker than Jim's mind was playing back for him right now, Spock arranged his fingers gracefully until they were in the right shape. His face felt hot, his hands feeling every bit as embarrassed as his face. What a weird sensation.

When the tip of Spock's index finger brushed over his, both of them looked at each other instantaneously. Jim felt like electricity had run up his arm, but the Commander pulled away his hand as though he had just been burned. Jim stared down at his saluted hand and looked up. Were Spock's cheeks always like light olive colour? His hand tingled, strangely in the aftershock. He went to speak, not really sure what he was about to say, but the Commander beat him to the punch.

"That is correct, Captain. Simply raise your palm upon their arrival and that will be sufficient." His voice was that strict monotone, his eyes faced forward in alert and professionalism. He wanted to ask if his hands felt the same tingle, but then thought better against it after judging the stoic return on the Commander's face. It probably wasn't a good start to your mission by asking your First Officer if his hands felt tingly from handling. Actually, that sounds almost creepy... Great. Where does that put my creepy factor now? 210%? Damnit. Ignoring his inner ranting and giving the order, he told Scotty to begin the transport. The strange sensations would just have to be addressed later and filed under Bones' 'WTF' file.

As the transporting began, Jim knew that if he hadn't a clue that he was beaming aboard Vulcans, he sure as hell would have known it the moment they arrived, even if they had managed to cover up their pointed ears. Each party that materialized in front of him were perfectly straight and centre in each pad, like if they stepped out too far from the little circle they'd die or something. Also, their expressions were mute. Jim may have only spent a relatively short amount of time around his own Vulcan, but observing the differences between those of pure breed and the tall halfsie beside him, he could clearly put into perspective just how much Spock struggled. It was like, around Vulcans, he appeared too Human, and with Humans it was just the opposite—he was too Vulcan. The Commander, though, decided that around his people he would present himself as Vulcan, as so, that is what he did. Stiff, monotone, expressionless, beside Jim he greeted them all in true Vulcan fashion. It was like watching a machine. He wondered if it was wrong for him to miss that carefree chatterbox that he had shared dinner with.

The assembly line of duty worked for a straight two hours. The Vulcans were beamed aboard, they were greeted by both Captain and First Officer, thanked, then were escorted by the next security guard in line to their quarters. Rinse and repeat. Jim would have found this task tedious and boring had it not been for the fact that understood the grim circumstances playing around why he was transporting these refugees at all. In the back of his mind, with every passing face, the harsh lines forming from their constant control on their emotions, Jim felt guilty. No matter which way he thought about it, no amount of discipline could have prepared them for such a catastrophic event.

He felt it was his fault. That he could have done something more. Fought harder, taken the explosive from that damned thrill seeker Pike had sent him and Sulu down with. He could have done something more, damnit! Beating himself up mentally,he didn't notice it was seeping through his Captain mode until he felt a light touch to his shoulder. Long fingers were barely touching him, and those fingers led to a Vulcan who kept his eyes forward, giving Jim Spock's profile.

"You performed admirably." The Commander told him, and he knew it was meant to be sincere, but the harsh evenness of his voice from being all uptight Vulcan again made it sound aggressive. However, Jim knew better, and thanked him.

"It's good to know that, Mr. Spock." He replied and straightened himself up for the next round of Vulcans. For some unknown reason, Jim turned his head to look at him. Maybe he was gauging his reaction, or maybe he was curious to see if Spock had anything else to say, but as it was, the Commander had nothing to reply, just stare. Blue eyes met brown, and they locked. It happened so fast that he was unconsciously aware of his heart feeling like it had stopped, and just like it had never happened, their eyes tore away the moment Scotty's brogue broke through.

"Last party tah beam up, Sir." Unlike how everyone coming back to the ship had taken their time and were parties of one, with the quick efficiency of Vulcan cooperation, they had managed to beam aboard 1,108 Vulcans in record time. According to Scotty, only four remained and these would be the Ambassadors, the High Councilman, and a fourth Vulcan. Jim didn't know whom the fourth one would be since Uhura only told him of the three elders. Vulcans, however logical, still had it in them to give surprises.

They materialized slowly, blinking into existence with swirls of light and fantastic hums. Completed, Jim took in the sights of the Vulcans about the Transporter pad. They were all dressed in elegant robes, tassels, and Vulcan symbols that didn't much make sense to him, but he couldn't analyze them any further, or even make out the faces of the others on the pad when his eyes caught sight of the most beautiful thing.

She stood out among them, shorter, younger, but breathtakingly beautiful. Even with her upswept brows, ruler cut bangs, and long thick curls brought up to the top of her head in an elegant bun adorned with jewels and one stick of blond wood with a jeweled Lilly on the end, she was gorgeous. Her eyes were a vibrant honey colour, her features only accentuated with her silvery eye-shadow, long dark lashes and light olive lips. He regretted that she wore such a long, dark robe, because he half bet that underneath it was the body of a beautiful woman.

He wanted to greet her, to say his name and ask for hers, but his brain had completely shut down. He was finally brought back to reality when she looked away, uninterested, as an elderly Vulcan stepped down from the pad, Vulcan salute prepared.

"Peace and long life, Captain Kirk, Commander Spock." Said the Vulcan, clearly observing that Jim's mind was occupied. "I am Councilman Sutek, and this," he said moving aside to show the beautiful Vulcan again, "is my daughter, T'Pangu."

She offered the Vulcan salute. "Peace and long life." Her voice was even, sophisticated and full of everything a woman should sound like. Jim greeted her back, the salute a bit awkward, but he finally managed.

"Peace and long life, Lady T'Pangu." He stepped forward, in hopes to greet her as he would any woman. He was initially just going to give his famous smile, however, unconsciously, he went to grab her hand to give it a kiss instead. As he leaned forward to give the contact, oblivious to Vulcan traditions, he was suddenly brought to a halt by a familiar, rusty voice.

"That would not be wise, old friend." Jim fell back on to his heels, just barely missing the contact he would have given to the beautiful T'Pangu. Peering over her shoulder, he, along with everyone else, looked for the Vulcan that had spoken. The figure stepped from his place, dressed in lighter robes than the rest of them, his hands older, but still elegant in their hold. Above the hands was a necklace set dead centre on the elder's chest in the only symbol Jim did recognize as the IDIC, and above that was the creased visage of a Vulcan who had seen many hardships throughout his life. His mind only took a beat to know whom he was staring at.

Elder Spock.

After the recollection, Jim's mind gave him a swift kick in the memory about the whole thing that had happened on Delta Vega. The time paradox that he had been warned about. Did Elder Spock not know he had gained Captaincy of the Enterprise and his First Officer was his younger self? Why would he chance a time paradox if he knew? Unless…

Jim looked around. Everything seemed to be okay. For now. No cracks in the hull, no death vortexes or dividing by zero taking place. Mr. Spock didn't seem at all surprised or like a guy about to be blown to bits by the Grandfather Theory. Everything was stable, normal, fine. This raised a hell of a lot more questions than answers.

They had been silent for far too long and to break it, Elder Spock stepped forward and presented the Vulcan salute. "Peace and long life, Captain Kirk." His voice was gruff with age, but still felt warmer than any of the greetings he had gotten from the previous refugees. Jim met his greeting. "I am Ambassador Vulcan," Elder Spock continued, then presented the other Vulcan behind him, "and this is Ambassador S'Voiik. You have our gratitude for allowing our stay on your ship."

"And we welcome you, Ambassador." Jim replied with a minor waver in his voice, still uncertain about it all. This only seemed to make those older, more experienced eyes brighten into what looked like a smile without actually smiling. To pull himself away from a sudden tide he felt from those eyes, Jim tugged on Spock's sleeve and brought him forward. "This is my First Officer, Mr. Spock." It was test. He wanted to see what would transpire because he wanted Elder Spock to know that they may still be in danger of a paradox.

"Ah yes," Elder Spock said while raising his hand to give greetings, "it is an honour, Commander."

Spock greeted back and with a deep bow. "Likewise, Ambassador." If Jim didn't know any better, he'd say that those two were sharing something quite like what he had seen take place between Spock and Admiral Pike. Like a silent joke was passing between them, or something more. Was Mr. Spock catching on that Elder Spock was himself? He tried to find out by observing his reaction, but nothing short of a proper Vulcan exterior was seen.

Elder Spock broke his concentration. "Captain, I would be most honoured if I could speak with you on behalf of myself, Ambassador S'Voiik, Councilman Sutek and Lady T'Pangu. Would you mind giving me a tour of your ship while my acquaintances are escorted to their quarters?" How could he say no?

"Of course. Mr. Spock, would you mind showing our guests to their quarters? I'll meet you back on the Bridge when I finish with Ambassador Vulcan." Spock exchanged glances with Elder Spock, but didn't look suspicious. Maybe curious, but not worried as he complied with the order. Asking the others to follow him, they were quickly filed out of the Transporter room with the utmost efficiency and grace. When all that was left was Scotty, Jim relieved him of duty, giving a smile to Elder Spock who watched the Scotsman leave in a hurry to get back to his engines and none of the refugee business.

"I am pleased to see that Mr. Scott did not leave the Enterprise, as was told among Starfleet."

"Yeah, we decided to keep him." Jim chuckled. Slowly, he turned on the serious mode. Now that they were alone, he could speak a little more freely. When Elder Spock said nothing, Jim decided to break the ice in true Kirkian fashion.

"Ambassador Vulcan?" He asked sardonically, "Couldn't you come up with a more, uh, imaginative name there, Spock?"

"You must forgive me, Jim, but creativity was not my specialty and was promptly left up to another certain imaginative Captain I once knew." His eyes never left Jim's, and the way he spoke might have been slow, but the words were warm and welcome unlike how every other Vulcan had spoken to him. It was hard to believe that this guy was Spock at all.

Oh, yeah, about Spock…

"Please tell me that you didn't know that Younger You became my First Officer. I think we're lucky as all fuck that a space-time rip didn't encompass the entire Transporter room." Elder Spock said nothing, but simply stared. The staring continued and gave just enough time to allow a little light to come on in Jim's head. This guy was old enough to be his grandfather twice over, there's no way he would have beamed aboard a ship if he were worried about a paradox issue. He had insisted on Delta Vega, and surely if he had said that Spock was supposed to be his First Officer, he anticipated that the younger Vulcan would be here. That left only one other explanation.

"You lying, son of a bitch." The words were said through laughter, the eyebrow on Elder Spock telling Jim that he had not expected that kind of response. "You knew the whole time, didn't you? You just wanted me to, aw man, that's cold." He spun around in exasperation. "You just didn't want me to have the easy way out! Is this pay back for a lifetime's worth of controlled resentment for cheating on the Kobayashi Maru?" Old man eyebrow lift off.

"So you cheated on the Kobayashi Maru in this reality as well." It was more a statement than a question. Jim snickered as he remembered how he did it.

"We've discovered another cosmic constant, I presume?"

"It appears so."

"Did I piss you off then, too?"

"Let me just say that I was at first disinclined to accept that you were next in line to command the Enterprise." Jim released his chuckles and gave a solid pat on the elder's arm. Who said Vulcan's lacked humour? Well, at least this Vulcan had humour.

"So, how about that tour? Wanna see your old ship, used-to-be-First-Officer-Spock?" Jim led them towards the door, no agreement needed, as Elder Spock looked as thrilled as he allowed through his Vulcan exterior.

"Jim?"

"Yes?"

Pause. "Please do not call me that." Jim smiled.

...

Every fiber of Jim's being knew that they weren't really going to tour around the ship. They looked around, Elder Spock indicating things that were the same and different from their realities. It was pleasant, Jim had to admit, but not really the type of experience you'd expect it to be. Elder Spock was well, an elder. In this age, the guy should have been relaxing in a Vulcan retirement place or something, but instead, he was walking around and talking like he was fit to climb a mountain. Maybe he was. He had been jettisoned to Delta Vega before him, after all. Also, Jim knew close to nothing about Vulcans or how they aged, yet, he didn't dare ask. Elder Spock appeared to be a man who would handle himself until absolutely necessary. Jim didn't want to offend him even if his intentions were sincere.

They took a detour into Observation Room One. The room was comfortable, quiet, and the stars were dazzling in their slow progression pass them. Elder Spock walked up to the view screen, his pale, old hand touching the thick glass that separated them from the deep, black vacuum of space.

"See something you like?" Jim asked innocently as Elder Spock peered into his own reflection lightly bouncing off the glass. He turned slowly and looked at the Captain with a face he couldn't translate.

"I do, Jim." His eyes were dark, but welcoming as they glanced around him. Jim stood beside him and looked out the glass. He felt a little strange with the elder Vulcan studying him so blatantly. "But, that is not what we are here to discuss." Elder Spock joined him in viewing of the stars.

"Jim," he began with hesitation, "there are a few favours I would like to ask of you on behalf of myself and my acquaintances—if it will not be too much trouble?"

Jim gave a small smile. "Whatever you want, it yours." Elder Spock reflection looked as if he didn't believe that to be true. Jim turned in response, Elder Spock's eyes drifting to him like a river breaking a dam.

"It is not much. I only ask that you give us privacy in our quarters and…" he trailed off, "would it be too much trouble to get sea salt?" Jim had been asked for some weird shit before, but that was the first time anyone had ever asked him for sea salt. And probably the last.

"I can have Lt. Marshall tweak the replicators for it, if you'd like. May I ask why?" The elder tried to hide the small smile, and he managed it.

"Curious?"

"You're not going to tell me, are you?" Elder Spock turned away, now visibly trying to hide a Human-like twitch of his lips.

"Indeed I am not. You may, however, come and visit me in my quarters six point four solar days from now and you will see."

Jim shrugged. "It's a date." He declared, and though he expected that this Spock would call him calling their meeting a date, he wasn't too surprised when he said nothing about it.

It wasn't long after that that they fell right back into small conversation. Jim noted how easily it was for them to do that. A passing solar system had caught Elder Spock's eye and he decided to explain to Jim some of the fantastic creatures he had seen from his time. Jim listened like an eager grand child hearing old war stories and television programs that canceled long before his birth, except some of these stories could be about his future and this Spock wasn't his grandfather. And though Elder Spock was certain to leave out things that involved his other self, Jim felt a strange sort of déjà vu. Like his mind was trying to remember these stories, and yet, he couldn't. He couldn't really explain it.

It was even more puzzling when he said an off handed comment about something Elder Spock was discussing, "Nomad was a strange probe that had developed a mind of its own." the elder Vulcan went on to explain, "After melding with the device, I had found its mind was even more dynamic than should be possible for a machine."

"Yes," Jim agreed, not really thinking, the story sounding so familiar. "when you fell into my arms, I was worried that that... thing had harmed you." Elder Spock stopped abruptly, his gaze flickering on to him quickly.

"Forgive me, Jim, but could you repeat that?" Jim went to repeat himself as though he did this all the time, but as his mouth opened, no words came. He had forgotten whatever it was he had said. In fact, now he couldn't even remember the conversation. Pausing, he blinked a few times and thought desperately for the memories. None came.

"Uh," he began with a small laugh, "you're going to find this illogical, but I actually don't know what I said..." Elder Spock didn't deter his watch. "I guess I was just really getting into it. Sorry about that." The elder Vulcan was silent for a moment.

"There is no need to apologize. I understand." Well it was a damn good thing someone did, because Jim had no idea. "Has this happened before?" Elder Spock questioned. Jim shook his head.

"Nah, I think I'm just tired. It's still my first day on the job, you know."

"Indeed." The older man agreed. "Perhaps it would be best to rest before you head to the Bridge?"

Jim dismissed the idea. "No. I don't want to leave Mr. Spock up there all by himself. It's his first day, too, and the last thing I want to do is overwhelm him and make him think I'm incapable. Not after all the bullshit I went through to coax him to my side and not Pike's."

"Indeed?" And so began a small and moderate explanation of the circumstances that led to Mr. Spock becoming his First Officer. He left out some parts (mainly the ones that sounded way too homo to be mentioned) but the story was told as he remembered it. Elder Spock did little except listen and nod occasionally. "That is quite a story." He said.

"Yeah, but I tell ya, you were so right. He's... he's amazing. During dinner I felt so relaxed, like I could talk about anything, and then when I saw him appear on the Bridge, I think my heart jumped into my throat. I was scared shitless that he was going to tell me he had chosen to be Pike's aide."

"But he did not."

"No." Jim shook his head softly, "He didn't." He confirmed. "And I am thankful for it. I just hope that even with the distraught misfortunes Nero brought us, that we can become what you talked about. A friendship that surpasses time." He felt a hand touch his shoulder, in response, Jim looked up. The eyes looking back at him were soft, chocolate coloured, and determined to swallow Jim's soul.

"Not just time, Jim. Not just time."

They fell silent, but it was comfortable. Elder Spock removed his hand, allowing them both to just stare out into the cosmos. No one spoke for what felt like minutes.

"So, I have a problem." Jim confessed.

An eyebrow rose distinctively. "Oh?"

"I know I'm not supposed to ask this, but honestly, you can't damn well blame me given the situation."

"Jim—"

Jim put up his palm to stop him. "No, no. It's not about my future self, so don't worry. I just... Ever since Uhura came and made him avoid me like the Black Death, I've been worried that he might try it again. I don't really want that. Any advice?" The elder sat back in thought, remembering how Jim just told him about how confused he was over the two weeks of no show and how he felt so damn disorientated from it.

After a few moments, a twinkle appeared in his eye as he calmly said, "Ask my younger self if he would like to engage in a game of 3D chess."

...

A/N – How many of you thought T'Pangu was really going to be T'Pring? Lol. Also, for the record, T'Pangu's name is pronounced with a tall 'A', and the 'U' is silent. So it's more like T'Pong. I just wanted to be difficult with my spelling. I hope you look forward to more! Thank you for reading and the reviews have been simply wonderful!