A spy, like a writer, lives outside the mainstream population. He steals his experience through bribes and reconstructs it. ~ John Le Carre
"This is Jim Kirk," he said when he finally answered the insistent phone.
"Please hold, Mr. Kirk," the voice on the other end said. He knew it was his publishing company and as much as he wanted to, he couldn't just hang up and pretend they weren't calling.
"Mr. Kirk," a smooth voice said on the other end. "This is Spock Shi'Kahr. I am your new representative with House Net'no'kwa."
"What happened to Marjorie? She's been my representative for 10 plus years."
"Ten years, four months, and 12 days, to be precise."
"Okay," Mr. Kirk acknowledged. "Why are you calling me?"
"Madame Kel'pol retired…suddenly. I am your representative now."
"Marjorie retired suddenly?" Jim repeated. "Out of the blue without even telling me?"
"The publishing business is extremely competitive, as you know. Decisions were made. Changes instituted."
"I see, Mr. Shi'Kahr," Jim said although he did not see at all. Next up would be a phone call to Marjorie to see what really happened.
"Spock," the voice on the other end said.
"You may call me Mr. Spock. Shi'Kahr is not a name as much as a designation," Mr. Spock explained.
"Oh. Yeah. Vulcans don't really use last names," Jim said.
There was a pause on the other end before Mr. Spock spoke up, finally. "How is it you know I am Vulcan?"
"The way you talk. That you don't use contractions. You sound Vulcan," Jim said.
"How, precisely, does one sound 'Vulcan', Mr. Kirk?"
"That's hardly important," Jim told him. "Why are you calling me?"
"Your latest draft was due yesterday. It has not yet been received," Mr. Spock said, sounding vaguely smug about it.
"That's strange. Since I overnighted it on Tuesday and they confirmed they had delivered it on Wednesday. Maybe Marjorie has it," Jim told him.
"It was delivered Wednesday?" Mr. Spock repeated.
"Yeah. Do you want me to forward you the confirmation?"
"That would be helpful. I can then attempt to track down the missing package."
"Alright. Give me your email address." Mr. Spock provided it and Jim used it to forward the confirmation. "I've sent it. Let me know when you find it," Jim said, his part of the conversation concluded as far as he was concerned.
"Why do you not simply email your drafts to us?" Mr. Spock asked, that edge of superiority returning.
"Marjorie wanted it printed out. As I didn't know she was no longer my editor, I had no idea that things had changed," Jim reminded him.
"True. Would you be willing to email me a copy?"
"I suppose I could. Makes me a little nervous though, to be honest."
"It does?" Mr. Spock asked.
"Too easy to intercept it. Too easy for it to become public," Jim said.
"I see," Mr. Spock responded. "Very well. I will find the missing package and call you to confirm that I have it. When can you come to discuss the necessary revisions?"
"How do you know there will be any revisions necessary?" Jim asked, trying very hard not to laugh at the condescension in the other man's voice.
"Revisions are always required, Mr. Kirk. Even with a writer as renowned as you."
"Thanks. Call me when you've found it. We'll discuss the next steps then," Jim suggested.
"Very well," Mr. Spock conceded. "I will call you when the draft is in my hands."
"Fine. I'm looking forward to it," Jim lied, hanging up before Mr. Spock had the opportunity to say anything else. He immediately dialed Marjorie's cell phone, relieved when she answered right away. "What the hell, Marjorie?"
"Hello, Jim. Good to hear your voice too," she responded.
"What the hell?" he repeated, looking out the window of his kitchen, as always mesmerized by the view of the ocean below. "Did you just up and quit?"
"Of course not, darling. New ownership. New way of doing things."
"Do you still work there?" Jim asked, frowning at the phone.
"Not for much longer. I was given a lovely retirement package. You know I was ready to leave on my own," she reminded him.
"I know. But still. Who is this Spock that claims to be my representative now? How high is the stick up his ass?"
Marjorie laughed at his description and he could imagine the sparkle in her black eyes. "Oh my dear. He's the son of the new owner. He wouldn't allow anyone else to contact you. Insisted he do it personally. He won't be taking on many writers but you were a non-negotiable."
"Great. He wanted me to email my draft to him. Think it's safe?" Jim asked because Marjorie would tell him the truth. She always had.
"Yes, love, it's safe. And when this one is on the shelf, you'll do Oprah, right?" Marjorie said in her patented persuasive voice.
"Margie," he responded. "You know how I feel about that whole press tour crap. And what do I need the publicity for?"
"The reading public is fickle, darling. They need to see your pretty face. To remember the genius behind the words. Stephen King does it. You can too."
"He hates it as much as I do," Jim sighed.
"Of course he does. Everyone does. That doesn't mean you can skip doing the publicity. And don't compare yourself to Stephen. Your novels are not pulp."
"I'm sure he'd appreciate you not calling his that," Jim laughed. "And you brought him up. Not me."
"True," she admitted with a light laugh. "It's going to be fine, darling. You have my promise."
"Are you okay, Margie? You've been doing this…for a long time."
"I'm fine, Jimmy. I was a little worried at first. But now all I can think of is going to Tuscany and eating pasta," she admitted. "And might I add that if you actually read the paper once in a while, you'd know that this had happened."
"That's so provincial," Jim laughed. "If it's really important, you or Bones tells me."
"How is the good Doctor?" she asked.
"Grumpy as ever. He should be home soon. Will you come to dinner before you go to Italy?"
"Of course I will. Just tell me when and I'll be there," she assured him.
"I'll talk to Bones and let you know," he agreed.
"Please do," she said. "And call me if you need anything."
"You too," Jim said, hanging up after their final good byes. He didn't have much time to consider the conversation or continue to enjoy the view when he heard the front door open.
"Honey I'm home," Bones called as he always did.
"Hey," Jim said, standing in the foyer to greet him.
Bones frowned when he saw that Jim was still in his flannel plaid pajamas, his hair unwashed, his feet bare. "When did you get up?"
"Right after you left," Jim shrugged, going back into the kitchen, Bones following. "But I didn't have anything pressing to do. How was your day?"
"Fine. Not crazy busy which was a delightful change. You made dinner," Bones said in surprise when he entered the kitchen to be greeted with the delicious smell of lasagna cooling on the stove top.
"I'm not an utter slacker," Jim said with a laugh, giving Bones his glass of bourbon, neat.
"I never meant to imply that you are," Bones assured him.
"Did you know that Net'no'kwa changed ownership?" Jim asked as he worked on the salad that would have been done if not for the phone calls.
"I had heard. It wasn't in the news. They call?"
"I'm no longer represented by Marjorie. I am the responsibility of the owner's son. Spock," Jim said.
"Hmm… I don't think I know him. How'd you find this out?" Bones asked, reaching over for a black olive and getting his hand slapped for his efforts.
"This Spock called and told me he hadn't gotten the draft."
"The one I overnighted for you?" Bones asked, one eyebrow raised.
"That one. I forwarded him the confirmation. He said he'd call when he finds it. So then I called Marjorie. She was given a generous retirement. She's going to Tuscany."
"Good for her. You going with her? Help her settle in?"
"I don't have any plans to," Jim said with a shrug. "Pike didn't call."
"I was sure he would today. Well. He will when he's ready," Bones said.
"He always does. You going out with Nyota tomorrow night?"
"Yeah. I have tickets to the opera. My tuxedo here?"
"I picked it up yesterday," Jim said.
"Good. Glad I have you for my bitch," Bones laughed.
"Except this is my house. Shouldn't you be the one doing the errands?" Jim asked, engaging in their favorite argument.
"You begged me to live with you. Begged. You were so pitiful I couldn't possibly refuse."
"That's not the way I remember it," Jim said, setting the table. "As I recall, you were homeless and desperate."
"I'm a doctor, dammit. I had a very nice apartment," Bones said, making Jim laugh.
"Where you never slept. Why I bought a house this close to the hospital I'll never understand."
"So you don't have to be without my charm," Bones reminded him, putting the salad on the table.
"I'm always without your charm. You got no charm."
"Nyota would argue with that," Bones said far too smugly.
"Sure. If you marry her, are you leaving me?" Jim asked as he sliced into the lasagna.
"Sure am. You'll have to find someone else to sleep in my room."
"Hmm…." Jim turned to Bones with bright, smiling blue eyes. "So you are planning to marry her."
"Shut up and give me some lasagna," Bones said, holding his plate close to the bubbling pan.
Jim laughed and served the pasta before sitting with Bones at the table.
"Are you putting on clothes tomorrow?" Bones asked as he enjoyed the garlic bread.
"Maybe. Why? When did my dressing habits become a concern?"
"I know you always crash when you finish writing. I don't want it to be too long or too deep," McCoy said in sincere concern.
"I'm fine," Jim assured him. "I got up at 7:30. I puttered around. I watered the plants. I made lasagna."
"True," McCoy agreed. "Excellent lasagna."
"Thanks. I saw it on Food Planet. Stephen King was making it."
"Well. There you go then. No human body parts, right?"
"Not this time," Jim assured him. He went over to the phone when it rang, looking at the display.
"Who is it?" Bones asked, studying Jim's face.
"Then answer it," Bones advised firmly. He accepted the still ringing phone from Jim with a frown, turning it on. "Hello?"
"May I speak with Mr. Kirk, please?" the voice on the other end said.
"He's currently unavailable. May I have him return your call?" Bones asked, sounding for all the world like a personal assistant rather than a world renowned surgeon.
"If you would ask him to call me at his convenience, I would appreciate it," Spock responded.
"Certainly. If I could have your name and number, I'll give the information to Mr. Kirk." Bones frowned at Jim who could barely contain his laughter. When he continued to laugh, Bones resorted to flipping him the bird.
Spock provided the information, facts which Bones did not write down but confirmed he would give to Mr. Kirk as soon as was convenient.
"How long are you going to make him wait?" Bones asked when they resumed eating.
Jim shrugged at that. "No idea. Tomorrow maybe. He's very sure of himself."
"He is," Bones agreed. "Is Hikaru coming tomorrow? Because he will keep calling until he reaches you."
"Yeah, he's coming. He'll probably drag poor Pavel with him," Jim laughed.
"Pavel does not have to be dragged anywhere if Hikaru is there," Bones reminded him. "God they are sickening."
"Young love," Jim said, laughing at his friend. "Everybody thinks we were like that, once."
"Yeah," Bones said with a shrug. "The idea of nonsexual love seems lost on the masses."
"Apparently," Jim agreed. "I don't know why we don't have sex. We are two of the hottest men alive."
"Because we don't love each other like that, stupid. And you aren't all that hot, frankly."
"I have a list of people who would disagree with that assessment," Jim assured him, laughing when Bones scowled at him.
"Because you are a fame whore."
"I most certainly am not. I'm a whore. But not for the fame. I get that through my brilliant writing."
"Brilliant, huh? You been reading your press clippings again?"
"Nope. I know quality when I write it," Jim said with his most charming smile.
"You are delusional. You know that, right?" Bones asked, picking up the ringing phone to check the display. He handed it to Jim. "Hikaru."
"Hey," Jim said in greeting.
"You're having dinner, aren't you?" Hikaru said in realization.
"Yeah. It's fine. What's up?"
"Not much. It's okay if Pavel comes with me tomorrow, right?"
"Absolutely. As long as you promise not to have sex in my bed," Jim said.
"You know we use the guest room," Hikaru laughed.
"True. Bones wants to make sure you also don't use his bed."
"Oh God, Jim. Never. That's just gross."
"And using my bed isn't?" Jim asked between bites of salad.
"I change the sheets when we're done," Hikaru said, still laughing. "Did you know that the House changed hands?"
"The new owner's son called me. He's my rep now."
"Where's Marjorie?" Hikaru asked.
"Retiring. Going to Tuscany," Jim said.
"I don't know. It didn't come up if she was coming back. We'll have a dinner party for her before she leaves. You can decide when tomorrow."
"Sure," Hikaru agreed. "You need anything before I come?"
"I don't think so. You'll be here about 8?"
"8:30ish," Hikaru said, making Jim laugh.
"I am such a stickler," Jim responded.
"Totally. I'll run by Krispy Kreme on my way in. Make up for being late."
"That's a deal," Jim agreed. "You need me for anything else?"
"You're welcome," Jim said, hanging up after their goodbyes.
"Pavel's coming?" Bones asked.
"Yeah. I'm sure he'll be doing his physics homework the entire time he's here. Hikaru is very good for him. Can you imagine what he'd be like without Sulu's bad influence?"
"I shudder to think," Bones said, shaking his head. "You geniuses all cluster, don't you?"
"Why is this second person? Like you aren't one in your own right," Jim reminded him.
Bones shrugged at that. "Not on the same level."
"Because you didn't finish medical school at 25 or anything," Jim said.
"Whatever. Did you make dessert?"
"How can you possibly want dessert?" Jim asked.
"Did you make it or not?"
"Of course. The cannoli cream's in the frig. The shells are on top," Jim said, finishing his salad.
"Top of the frig?" Bones repeated, looking at Jim as though he'd lost his mind – completely this time.
Jim shrugged. "I thought Hikaru might come with Shep."
"Didn't we talk about that?" Bones asked rhetorically. "We don't want dogs in our house."
"You don't want dogs in our house," Jim corrected. "I want dogs in our house."
"No," Bones said, gathering the plates and putting them in the dishwasher.
"One day you'll be dead and I'll have dogs."
"Fine. They can pee on my grave," Bones said, getting the cream out of the refrigerator.
"So will I," Jim said, watching him fill 2 of the canoli shells with the rich cream.
"And I will return to haunt you and make you impotent."
"I'm already Im-po-tent," Jim laughed.
"You aren't that important. Delusional, yes."
"I really can't understand why you are so mean to me. Seriously."
"You want the unabridged edition?" Bones asked.
"Shut up," Jim finally said. "Have you talked to Scotty lately?"
"Not this week," Bones said, considering it. "Is he out on assignment?"
"I don't think so," Jim said, picking up the phone to dial it. There was no answer so he shrugged and returned it to its stand. "Maybe he is out."
"Can't Pike keep you updated? What if you need him?"
"Pike will know where he is. I don't need him right now," Jim pointed out.
"But you could tomorrow. Or tonight. Or in 5 minutes."
"Stop being such a worrywart. Nobody's trying to kill me."
"Not at this minute," Bones said, glancing away from the dishwasher to look over his shoulder at his best friend. "What about the report of the syndicate putting a price on your head?"
"Hogwash," Jim said, shaking his head. "I'm small potatoes to them."
"Not so small. Not after the Milano incident."
"That wasn't me. I told you that," Jim said in exasperation.
"Why is it you think you can lie to me? You were gone. The talks were disrupted. Three of the top cocaine bosses in the world are dead. And you didn't have anything to do with it?"
Jim simply looked back at him, his blue eyes clear and bright.
"Fine. Fine," Bones said in anger, slamming the dishwasher closed. "Fine."
"You said that three times now. Why are you so pissed all of the sudden?"
"Because Pike hasn't called. And you don't know where Scotty is. Your ass is hanging in the wind and I seem to be the only one who gives a shit."
"I'm fine. Call Pike if you're so worried," Jim said, taking his Pepsi into the living room which was not Bones' favorite place to sit. Too many windows he always claimed. But Jim loved the spectacular view of his beloved ocean. Growing up in Iowa meant he would never get enough of seeing oceans of water instead of corn.
"Yeah, it's me. He there?" Jim heard Bones ask on the phone as he sat in his favorite chair. Jim barely turned to look at him before returning his gaze to the windows, sipping his Pepsi. "Hey," Bones said, listening briefly. "He's fine. I'm not… where's Scotty?...oh. Alright… you sure?... okay…yes, I'll be sure to…Yeah, hold on just a sec." Bones extended the phone to Jim who automatically took it. Bones went to the open hearth in the center of the room, adding several logs to be consumed by the bright fire.
"Hey," Jim said to Pike. He could hear the older man's sigh in response.
"Why's he all up in arms?" Pike asked.
"It's his nature. He can't help it," Jim reminded him.
"Yeah, I know," Pike confirmed. "You free tomorrow?"
"I can be. Why?" Jim asked.
"I need you in St. Petersburg. Quick trip."
"Russia or Florida?" Jim laughed.
"Don't be a smart ass. Be at the air strip at 7:00 a.m."
"Okay. Bones can drop me off on his way to the hospital."
"Fine. We'll get you home in time for dinner," Pike promised.
"Alright. Who's the target?"
"It's an extraction. Please try not to get you or her killed. I'll email you the details."
"Is Scotty going?"
"He's flying you there. Do you want Hikaru to go with you?" Pike asked.
"Not unless I need him. He's coming over tomorrow. You let him know I'll be gone?"
"I haven't yet. I'll call right now. Wear a suit tomorrow. Navy. Pinstripes. Light pink tie."
"Okay. Did you know that the House was sold?" Jim asked
"I told you that last week. Do you ever listen?" Pike asked in exasperation.
"You most certainly did not," Jim said. "I'd remember if you did."
"Jim…" Pike said in his patented 'you are a continual disappointment to me' voice.
"Bones," Jim called, his friend putting down his padd to look up at him. "Chris said he told me last week that the House was sold. Is that true?"
"Don't think so. You'd have told me," Bones pointed out, returning to his reading.
"See," Jim said in satisfaction. "You didn't tell me."
"Fine. The new owners are old fashioned but not a bad lot. They call you?"
"Spock did. Son of the owner. Said he'd be my new rep."
"You could do worse. You meeting with him?" Pike asked.
"Soon. He called. Bones put him off. Hikaru can call tomorrow and make it day after."
"Day after tomorrow's Saturday," Bones informed him, not bothering to look up at him.
"Well. Monday then. We're going to have a dinner for Marjorie. Will you come?" Jim asked.
"Sure. Let me know when. You want me to call the House and explain why you won't be available until Monday?" Pike offered.
"Sure. Spock may as well get used to talking to you. He's a little stiff," Jim said with a laugh.
"You say the same thing about me," Pike reminded him.
"Because you are a lawyer. You can't help it," Jim said.
"Business representative and manager," Pike corrected. Jim could hear the smile in his voice.
"Of course. Lawyer is just a side trade."
"Naturally. Go read your email. Contact me tomorrow when you land."
"Will do. You want Bones again?"
"Sure," Pike agreed, telling Jim goodbye before Jim handed the phone to the Doctor.
Jim went into his study, taking his secure laptop out of the safe. He read over the assignment, not finding anything unusual in it. Go to St. Petersburg. Find and release the wife of the Prime Minister of Tajikistan. Bring her back for a reunion with her husband who may or may not be in exile. That part was a little unclear but not germane to the operation so he didn't much care. She was being held in a former safehouse, one Jim had visited before. On the river. Backed by woods. He and Scotty would be able to do it in short order and return her safely to American soil.
"How's it look?" Bones asked from where he was standing in the doorway.
"Straightforward. We'll be home for dinner."
"Don't say that. You'll be shot for sure," Bones reminded him.
"That's what I have you for," Jim said with a smile, going to the safe for his fake Russian passport.
"You sure you don't want Hikaru with you? Scotty doesn't speak Russian."
"Neither does Sulu. We'll be fine. When Pavel is finished, he'll be an asset. If he doesn't freak out with his first kill."
"You didn't. Sulu didn't. He'll be fine."
"You did," Jim reminded him fondly.
"I'm a doctor, dammit. I'm not supposed to kill people."
"It's a wonder to me that you ever told Pike yes to start with," Jim said.
Bones shrugged at that, returning with Jim to the living room. "Didn't have anything to lose. I don't regret it. Glad I'm not still active. Unless you need me."
"I'm glad you aren't active either. Much rather have you home where I know you're safe," Jim said, settling in his recliner to read from his padd.
"Thanks," Bones laughed.
They settled into their evening routine like an old married couple. Pike always said they were the most nonsexually involved married pair he ever encountered. 'Have sex and get out of your system.' But they never have. Likely they never will if they haven't after all this time. They are too comfortable and too satisfied with their hetro-life-bond.
"You want me to pack for you?" Bones asked sometime later into the easy silence that had descended over them.
"Nah. I have everything I'll need in my backpack. Anything else I'm sure Scotty will have." Jim stood and stretched, the top of his pajamas riding up to reveal golden skin with faint pink scars standing out. "I'm going to go to bed. Wake me up in the morning?"
"Sure. Because I have nothing better to do than be your personal alarm clock," Bones complained because he always complained about it. Otherwise Jim would worry.
"Good night Dr. Cranky. I'll see you in the morning."
Bones snorted but watched Jim go down the hall to his bedroom. Not until his light was out and he knew Jim was safely in bed did Bones return his attention to his padd.