A/N: Hard to believe but this is the last "official" posting of Kirk James T. Kirk. What a great time I've had! And thank you to everyone who reviewed, alerted, and favorited this story. (I got lost in responding to your lovely reviews and I apologize if you didn't hear back from me. I'll be more vigilant in future, I promise.) And even though this is the last official chapter, I'm participating in the KSValentine challenge over on LiveJournal. I'm writing my submission as a continuation of this story. And it will have 110% more K/S - the kind that's rated M! (Yes, I'll also post it here.)

All this to say - Thanks! I love hearing from each and every one of you!


Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh. ~Leonard Cohen


"Hey kid," Bones said the next morning, the light streaming into Jim's room.

"Yeah?" Jim mumbled into the pillow. He realized he was sleeping on his right side and considered that for a minute. It hurt but not in an unbearable kind of way. It was kind of nice to finally roll off his back and take the pressure off those bruises.

"Wake up for a minute," Bones requested, sitting on the edge of the bed.

"I'm mostly awake," Jim decided, opening both eyes to prove it. "What are you up to?"

"Not a lot. Nyota needs to go into town. And there are some reports I need to file at the Consortium. Will you be okay if I go?"

"Of course," Jim agreed. "Somebody's still here, right?"

"Winona. Scotty, Hikaru, Pavel, Spock."

"That's what I thought. But why isn't Pavel in class?" Jim asked.

"Because it's Friday," Bones said, shaking his head.

"Oh. Guess I lost track," Jim said. "Can Spock help me take a bath?"

"If he puts you in and doesn't join you," Bones agreed.

"That's all he'll do. Put me in," Jim said.

"Do you want anything from town?"

"Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Chocolate frosted."

"Of course," Bones laughed. "I'll get you some new pain killers too. Ones that aren't quite so strong so you can stay awake for longer than a couple of hours."

"Good thinking," Jim agreed.

"You hungry?"

"I don't think so. I'll tell Spock if I decide. What about my bandages?"

"I won't hurt you to have them off until I get back. Since you'll be coming straight back to bed after you're out."

"Okay," Jim agreed. "How long will you be gone?"

"Three hours at the most. If you need me, just call and I'll come home."

Jim shook his head at that. "Have lunch out. Get some air."

"Maybe," Leonard said. "You want anything besides doughnuts?"

"I don't think so. If I think of anything, I'll call you. Did Chris leave?"

"He went to the office. He'll be back tonight to spend the night. Do you need him?"

"No. Just taking inventory. If I can stay awake, I'm going to check the files."

"As long as you do it in bed. And be careful how much you use your left arm."

"I will. I still can't type with both hands."

"There is that," Bones agreed. "Do you want some pain meds before I go?"

"No. You'll leave them out for Spock, right?"

"I will," Bones said. "Do you want some coffee?"

"Do you have to ask?" Jim asked with a bright smile.

"All right," Bones laughed. "I'll send Spock with it."

"Good," Jim agreed. "Did I remember to say congratulations on your engagement?"

"No but I knew it was there," Bones assured him. "I'll see you this afternoon unless you need me sooner."

"I'm good. Have fun," Jim said, watching him leave and again considering just how lucky he was to have such a good best friend. The best best friend ever. Oh – was that the pain talking? No – it made sense.

"Why are you frowning so, baby?" Winona asked as she and Spock entered his bedroom.

"I was just trying to decide if my inside voice was making sense," Jim admitted, gratefully accepting the coffee.

"I feel sure it was. You aren't so doped up that you wouldn't make sense," Winona told him.

"Good," Jim said with a nod. "Are you going to be one of Nyota's bridesmaids?" He laughed when she frowned at him.

"You can be such a child," she said.

"Your child. Doesn't that make it your fault?"

"I disavow any responsibility for how you turned out. And I am sorry I didn't do a better job," Winona told Spock.

"You did an excellent job," Spock told her.

"Thank you," Jim and Winona said at the same moment, both of them laughing.

"Leonard said I may assist you in bathing," Spock told him.

"I'm looking forward to another bath," Jim agreed. "Although I don't need it as badly as I did last time."

"It's still nice, isn't it?" Winona said.

"Really nice," Jim agreed.

"Would you mind if I ran out for a little while? I need to do some shopping. And go to the grocery store," she said.

"Of course you should go. But Hikaru can do the grocery shopping."

"I know that, dear. But I enjoy going to the grocery store. And I can get what I need. Is there anything special you know you want to eat?"

"A pineapple upside down cake?" he requested.

"Of course. You won't have any trouble eating it with your braces," she said. "Anything else?"

"No, not really. You'll check with the boys?"

"I will," she agreed. "I think Scotty is going to drive me. Apparently he needs to go to the liquor store? I wasn't asking."

"Probably," Jim laughed. "We don't have the right kind of scotch from what I can make out."

Winona shook her head at that, checking with Spock to see what he wanted from the store. She promised to bring him the Vulcan spice tea and some fresh vegetables.

"Do you need any money?" Jim asked.

"No dear. I've got it covered."

"All right," he agreed, watching her leave with a warm smile on her face.

"Your relationship is quite inspirational," Spock commented quietly.

"It is now. There was a time we barely spoke. My fault really," Jim said with a shrug.

"Youthful indiscretions?"

"Something like that," Jim said, putting down his coffee cup. "I'd really like to take my bath now, if you don't mind."

"I do not," Spock assured him. "I will begin the tub filling up and return for you momentarily."

"Right," Jim agreed, waiting patiently until Spock got back to help him out of bed and over to his bathroom. "I need to… you know."

"Of course," Spock agreed, helping him to the toilet. When Jim was seated, Spock went ahead and removed his pajama bottoms from his feet where they had pooled.

"You aren't going to be embarrassed, are you?" Jim asked, sipping his coffee and studying Spock over the rim of his cup.

"I can think of no reason I should be. As we have previously been intimate. Surely you have no remaining secrets."

"It'd be hard to," Jim laughed. "Do you?"

"None of which I am aware. Perhaps you will discover them with time," Spock suggested. "Will it embarrass you for me to assist you?"

"Nope. I've never been especially self-conscious. Even less so with you," Jim said with a secret smile.

"Do you suppose it would hurt your mouth if I were to kiss you?" Spock asked quietly from where he squatted in front of Jim.

"No. But I need to brush my teeth first," Jim whispered back, leaning closer to Spock as though drawn by invisible forces.

"Of course," Spock agreed, kissing his forehead. "Are you ready to move to the sink?"

"Yeah," Jim agreed, straightening away from him and accepting his help to stand. Spock leaned him against the cabinet so that Jim could coat his toothbrush and carefully brush, rinse and spit. "Want to try it now?"

Spock studied Jim for a brief moment before leaning closer to cover Jim's mouth with his own. Jim tasted of toothpaste and coffee and Jim. In some inexplicable way, the kiss was all Jim. "Was there pain?" Spock asked, his words brushing against Jim's mouth.

"None. Bones says we can't do anything for another couple of weeks," Jim said in regret, one hand on Spock's chest, for comfort as well as stability.

"You know it is for the best. And we will have plenty of time once you are healed."

"The rest of our lives?" Jim whispered, leaning his head on Spock's shoulder, refusing to look up at him. If Spock looked surprised, or worse, shocked by the question, Jim wasn't prepared to handle that at the moment. In fact he shouldn't have said it. Maybe that was the painkillers talking.

"Do you mean what you say?" Spock asked softly.

"If I do?" Jim asked, finally looking up to meet Spock's eyes.

"I would know more happiness than most Vulcans believe exist," Spock said, making Jim laugh.

"Does that make sense?"

"Maybe it does not. But it is true. When we were apart, I could think of little except you. And how I possibly had ruined any chance of having a future with you."

"We both had to cross the bridge. There is blame enough to go around. I don't want you taking it all on yourself," Jim said, kissing Spock's mouth very lightly.

"We can agree that it is the past. We can agree to look only forward," Spock suggested.

"Yes," Jim said.

"Why me?" Spock asked. "Why have you chosen to make a commitment to me when there is an entire world of people who would trade anything to be in my place?"

"Because you understand me. You aren't intimidated by me. You came to Rahth Mutadaffaq at the risk of your own life. Even when you still didn't approve of the choices I have made. And our hearts make decisions of their own. Because you love me," Jim said, studying the depths of Spock's eyes and seeing the truth reflected there.

"I do. My heart has decided. It is an unusual circumstance to find myself in," Spock said, kissing Jim's bruised cheek. "It is one I would not trade."

"Before we go any further, you're going to have to explain about Vulcan bonds and… all it means to pledge oneself to a Vulcan," Jim said, leaning more heavily against Spock and enjoying the silent strength beneath the black leisure clothes he was wearing.

"Yes," Spock said. "For now, it is enough to know that you desire it. When you are well and can fully comprehend all that it means, I will explain. You must then choose."

"I have already chosen," Jim said.

Spock shook his head. "Falling in love is one thing. Bonding is…much more."

Jim nodded. "Okay. I'll wait because you want me to."

"Yes," Spock said, unwrapping Jim bandages. "Now that I know of your secret life, may I ask again about this scar?" Spock asked, lightly touching the deep round mark on Jim's shoulder.

"Nothing's off limits any longer. It's from the first time I was ever shot. I was surprised at how much it hurt." He laughed softly when Spock raised on eyebrow. "I know. Having a pointed piece of metal ripping through your body at a high rate of speed would be painful. But it hurt a lot more than I expected."

"Who shot you?" Spock asked.

"The bad guys. I'm still not sure exactly who did it. Bones and I were on a mission to Iceland. Just routine. Then all hell broke loose. We think we were in the middle of a local dispute but it got really fuzzy really fast. Bones got me out and patched me up."

"And this one on your ribs?" Spock asked, tracing a faint pink line that followed the lowest rib on Jim's left side.

"I had a broken rib. It broke in half. That was the surgery to repair the damage," Jim said.

"It broke in half?" Spock repeated.

"Yeah. I was hit by a car. Well, a tank. A small one. It's not as dramatic as it sounds," Jim said.

"It sounds extreme," Spock said, wrapping his arm more firmly around Jim when he shivered. "You need to get into the tub. If you catch cold, Leonard will be most displeased."

"Yeah," Jim agreed, accepting Spock's assistance to enter the steaming hot water. Once he was settled, he lifted his right arm to show Spock the faint scar that ran from his wrist to his elbow. "I got this one breaking a window to get out of a burning building. Hikaru and I were in Paraguay doing research. Chris called and asked us to check on a enclave of cocaine dealers. We found their stash and set fire to it. Unfortunately, they found us and threw us into the burning building. But we got out with only minimal damage."

"How many stitches did you require?" Spock asked sounding vaguely amused.

"Uhm…13 or 14. I'm not really sure."

"And that is minimal damage?"

"I have 15 in my scalp," Jim reminded him, pointing to the two lines of stitches standing out in sharp relief on his head.

"True," Spock said, touching the hair growing back. "Are you letting it grow?"

"Absolutely. I don't want to be bald. And I don't need any more scars that show."

Spock had to nod at that, his hand still on Jim's head, a sensation which Jim appreciated. "How long have you been with the Consortium?"

"Since I was 17. Right after I was arrested for stealing a motorcycle."

"Had you stolen it?" Spock asked, a sparkle in his black eyes.

"Only sort-of," Jim said.

"How does one sort-of steal anything?" Spock asked.

"This guy had done some repairs on it. But I didn't have all the money he wanted. So he kept my bike. I finally got tired of waiting so I took it. The police considered it stealing even though it was originally mine."

"I see," Spock said. "How much did you owe for the repairs?"

"A lot," Jim admitted. "More than the bike was worth, probably. But it was my only means of transportation. I couldn't earn enough to pay it off if I didn't have it. And he wouldn't give it to me so I could make the money I owed him."

"That was a quite a conundrum," Spock agreed.

"Yeah. I had every intention of paying him once I'd made enough. But he saw it differently. When Mom called to tell Chris I'd been arrested, he paid the guy for the repairs and the charges were dropped. Chris told me I could work it off so I did. Then the Consortium paid me to go college. And the rest is pretty much history."

"How does one become a member of the Consortium if one does not need it to escape law enforcement officials?"

"One talks to Chris," Jim laughed. "Or Tahla. But she'll probably tell you to talk to Chris."

"As I expected," Spock said.

"What will your parents say?" Jim asked.

"That it is important to follow what my heart tells me. My heart is not in the publishing industry," Spock said.

"It never has been," Jim agreed. "You did it. But you didn't love it."

"I enjoyed reading your novel. All of your novels. However, the rest of the responsibilities I found trying."

"I can imagine," Jim said.

"When I was visiting my grandmother, I happened to see a volume of the poetry you wrote."

"Oh Lord. She's the one who bought the third copy?" Jim joked.

"Do you write poetry still?"

Jim looked up at him before glancing away. Of all the things they had already discussed, why was this the hardest for him to answer?

"Should I have not asked?" Spock said quietly.

"I suck at poetry," Jim finally said. "But I still write it."

"Your poetry did not 'suck,'" Spock corrected. "It was heartfelt and honest."

"And drivel."

"It was not," Spock said. "Would you consider publishing a collection?"

"I don't know. I don't let anyone read it."

"Not even Leonard?"

"Sometimes he reads it. Most of it I write and lock away. It's an escape mechanism."

"I can understand that," Spock agreed, going for a thick towel when Jim yawned. "I believe you are done."

"Probably," Jim laughed, accepting his help to stand up. He mostly dried himself, letting Spock help him into clean pajamas. "I'm going to have to go back to sleep."

"I believe that is to be excepted. Do you want the pain medication?"

"Yeah," Jim said, crossing over to his bed with Spock's support. "The pain's not bad but I won't sleep if I don't take it. And I'm really tired."

Spock nodded and got him the tablets and a glass of water. "Should I put on the movie?"

"Please," Jim agreed, closing his eyes and wondering why his body hated him. Well. He could understand it considering the abuse he inflicted on it. "Huh?" he asked when he realized Spock was talking to him.

"Did you want something to eat?" Spock asked, drawing the curtains over the bright windows.

"Not right now. When I wake up," Jim decided. "These pills usually make me sleep for 5 or 6 hours. So don't be concerned if I sleep that long."

"I will not be," Spock assured him.

~o0o~

Quiet voices penetrated Jim's sleep shrouded brain, slowly. What made much more of an impact was the sensation of tiny impressions on his legs, coming up toward him. He allowed his eyes to open, not breathing for a moment. He was face to face with gigantic black eyes and black floppy ears on a tiny black head. The mouth inches from his opened so that a tiny pink tongue could lick him. Jim blinked and tried again. Hallucinations this long after he'd been injured were unusual. He moved up the bed a little ways, the tiny black object going up with him.

He took as deep a breath as he could, reaching out with his right hand to touch the soft black puppy who was happily wagging where it stood on Jim's stomach. It seemed very content to simply stand on Jim and wag at him which was fine but what was it doing there at all?

"Don't just stare at him. Pet him. He's yours," Bones told him, a laugh barely suppressed in his voice.

"Mine?" Jim said, petting the soft fur on the puppy's back.

"I promised. You wanted a black lab. Now you have one," Bones said.

"You got me a dog," Jim said, understanding finally coming to him. "You got me a dog!"

"Yes I did," Bones confirmed, sitting on the edge of Jim's bed. "Now you have to name him."

"Him?"

"Yeah. I'm not a Vet but I'm pretty sure he's a boy dog," Bones laughed.

Jim looked up at Spock who looked nearly as pleased as Leonard. "Did you have something to do with this?"

"Nothing more than agreeing that it would be an appropriate 'get well' gift."

"You don't mind?" Jim asked, needing confirmation that Spock was in favor of dogs too.

"I do not. As Leonard stated, every boy needs a dog."

Jim laughed at that, scratching behind the puppy's ear. "You sure are a cutey," Jim told the puppy, to the puppy's approval. The puppy barked at the sound of Jim's voice, the all important bonding already started. Jim looked back over at Bones who was just smiling at the two of them. "You never cease to amaze me."

Bones shrugged, petting the puppy. "The fence will be finished next week. Until then we'll have to walk him. Hikaru and Pavel have promised to take care of it."

"The fence?" Jim said, feeling slightly stupid.

"You don't think he can just run wild on the beach like you do, do you?"

"No," Jim said. "Where is the fence going?"

"Starting at the patio door."

"Okay," Jim agreed, smiling at Bones again. "Thank you."

Bones shrugged, reaching down beside the bed for a couple of toys. The puppy took the one that looked like a snowman, happily shaking it before laying down curled up around it.

They all looked over at the door when Winona and Scotty appeared, an unmistakable bundle in Winona's arms. "And here's his brother," she announced, placing a second black puppy on the bed next to the first. The two puppies greeted each other enthusiastically and proceeded to roll around on Jim's bed in gleeful abandon.

"Two puppies?" Jim asked, watching them play.

"Yeah. We got them at the shelter. The workers said they have been inseparable and we couldn't stand the idea of splitting them up," Bones confessed. "So I got this one and Winona got that one."

"Uber-cool," Jim said, smiling even more. "Why didn't you just get both?"

"That's just too complicated to explain, dear. What would you like to eat?" she asked him. "Jim?"

"Huh?" he said, finally dragging his attention away from the two puppies to look up at her.

"I said what do you want to eat?" she told him with a warm smile.

"Oh. Uhm…oatmeal?" he said, letting the first puppy chew on the fingers of his right hand.

"You got it," she agreed, kissing his head before leaving his bedroom.

"Seriously. This is just about the coolest thing ever," Jim told Bones with a radiant smile.

"I know," Bones laughed, lifting the puppies down off the bed. "You two go play. We have business to attend to."

The puppies continued to roll around on the floor, making Jim smile at their antics.

"Come on," Bones said, moving Jim's covers aside.

"Where?" Jim asked with a small frown.

"Bathroom. We need to put your bandages back on. You've been asleep for several hours so I'm hoping you need to pee."

"Oh. Yeah. I do," Jim agreed. "What are you going to do?" he asked Spock as he slowly left his bed with Bones' help.

"Help your mother make the oatmeal," Spock decided.

"Okay. You'll come back with it? Her? You know."

"I do know. And I will return," Spock assured him, watching Jim disappear into his bathroom with Bones. Spock left his bedroom and went into the kitchen, the puppies following him. He made sure he did not inadvertently step on them as they scrambled about under his feet. "May I assist you?"

"Gracious no, dear," Winona laughed. "But you can keep me company."

"Certainly," Spock agreed, sitting at the table out of the way.

"Would you like a cup of tea?"

"Yes I would," he said, filling the kettle and putting it on the stove. He felt Winona's eyes on him and turned to meet her gaze, the puppies exploring this new room.

"How are you doing?" she asked him, her voice warm and maternal.

"I am uncertain as to the impetus for your question," he responded honestly, one eyebrow raised.

She smiled at that, shaking her head. "You can tell me the truth, dear. I'm his mom. I know how much of a challenge he can be."

He considered those words briefly before breaking eye contact. He understood her question but did not know if he was ready to try and answer it. Perhaps it was premature to discuss this with her. Perhaps it was not a discussion he ever wanted to have with Jim's mother. "Being in love is a relatively new experience for me," he heard himself confessing, much to his own surprise.

"I can't believe you haven't had previous relationships. As attractive and smart as you are."

"I have been involved in relationships. None of them were meaningful compared to what I feel for your son."

"That's a good start," she said. "And I can tell you that Jim does everything whole hog. No half measures with him. If he says he's in love with you, you can be sure that it's completely and totally."

"Yes," Spock agreed. "As I feel for him."

"But….?" she prompted gently.

"Jim is a much more gregarious person than I," Spock admitted, wondering what it was about Jim's mom that made it seem natural to confide to her.

"You aren't going to be overwhelmed," she said, studying the oatmeal that did not require her undivided attention. But she suspected that if she watched Spock formulate his response, it would make him uncomfortable. More uncomfortable than he already was – she could feel the discomfort radiating off of him like his bodyheat.

"I am unaccustomed to being in the company of others nearly constantly. Yet I would never deny Jim his customary environment."

"You'll have Leonard's room when he marries Nyota. Whether it remains a bedroom or becomes a 'haven' will be up to you. You'll also have Leonard's office. Everyone respects their privacy. No one enters their offices without their express permission."

"Yes," Spock agreed.

"And you know if you want to live with Jim, it will have to be here. He won't leave the ocean."

"I am aware," Spock said. "I have no objections to making this my home. Once Jim invites me."

Winona laughed at his words, shaking her head in a kindly way. "Of course. I would imagine that will be the day Leonard and Nyota are married."

"Unless their house is complete before that time," Spock added.

"Exactly," Winona agreed, looking around the kitchen. "Where did those puppies go?"

"I do not know," Spock said, checking under the dining room furniture. Not finding them, he searched the living room before continuing on to Jim's bedroom. He was not surprised to find them back on Jim's bed, rolling around together. Jim's bathroom door was still closed so he was not certain how the puppies got up on the bed. Perhaps Scotty had put them there. He did not know where the Scotsman had disappeared to this time. Perhaps he was the cause of the front door opening and closing. Fetching the groceries, Spock decided.

Shortly after he entered Jim's bedroom, Winona followed him in with a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of what Spock could smell was coffee. She also had the cup of Vulcan spice tea for him, which he accepted with his thanks.

Not many minutes passed before Jim and Leonard left the bathroom, Jim in fresh pajamas, his left arm once more taped to his chest. Jim allowed Leonard to help him into his bed, the puppies moving up to investigate the bowl and the cup. Winona lifted them down, making them cry in disappointment.

"You might want to take them out," Leonard suggested.

"I will see to it," Spock volunteered.

"Their halters and leashes are in the foyer."

"May we go for a walk on the beach?" Spock asked no one in particular.

"You'll need to bundle up, dear. It's quite cold out," Winona told him gently.

"I will. The puppies will be warm enough?"

"They will," Winona laughed. "Don't go too far. Their legs aren't very long yet."

"Indeed," Spock agreed, scooping them up and carrying them to the foyer. It wasn't long before they heard the front door open and close once more.

"Is he okay?" Jim asked his mom as he ate the oatmeal.

"He's fine, dear. But things are changing very quickly. I think his head is swimming just a little."

"Yeah," Jim agreed. "It's a lot to take in."

"It is. But don't think for one minute these are choices he doesn't want to make."

"I know," he said with a smile. "It's meant to be."

"Yes it is," Winona agreed, kissing him on the head. "Yes it is."

And they lived happily ever after.

~o0o~

Epilogue:

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. ~Groucho Marx


One week later, Jim was allowed to help with the investigation of the mission and why it had gone south on them. Between him and Chekov, they discovered two minor security breeches and one complete failure of a firewall. Following the breeches back to their originating addresses, they found that all of the mission briefings had been hacked by someone in the employ of the Sheik of Bahegmha Smhasahe.

Prior to the initiation of the mission, the Sheik had been extremely cooperative with their plans to dispose of his closest neighbor, Sheik Jmhanahe Wahenrha-Grhadrha. As it turned out, he had also been making extensive plans to take over Rahth Mutadaffaq once the Consortium had Sheik Wahenrha out of the way. When the Consortium had requested his permission to have Selema impersonate his daughter Wajeeha, it had simplified his plans to thwart their mission and take over Rahth Mutadaffaq. It was his men who had captured and beaten Jim and Leonard. They would have killed them both if Spock and Scotty had not arrived when they did.

No one could understand how killing Jim and Leonard would help the Sheik take over the country but Tahla vowed to be more cautious in future. "When you make a deal with the devil, you better be prepared to face the consequences." A lesson learned nearly at the cost of two lives.

Tahla told Jim that they were not going to pursue any further missions in that region for a while, until things settled down. The Consortium's aborted coupe had caused its own unrest and changes might come as a side-effect of their unacknowledged presence.

One month later, Jim and Leonard hosted a party at their house. For those who knew of Jim's injuries, it was a celebration of his return to what passed as normal. He wasn't ready to run yet but Bones had allowed him to go swimming for a few minutes each day.

For those who believed that Jim had been in a car accident, the party was billed as a celebration of Leonard and Nyota's official engagement. No gifts were allowed. Food and drink were in plentiful supply as anyone who had previously been at their house would expect. Every guest agreed that the two puppies were quite possibly the cutest ever. And so well behaved for being so little yet.

The party was attended by nearly everyone they both knew. Marjorie had returned from Tuscany and was thrilled to see Jim. She was overjoyed at the news of the engagement and made Nyota promise to let her help plan the wedding.

Chillie and Sherry came to the party, the other band members unable to attend. Chillie was treated like a member of the family, a courtesy he very much appreciated. But he supposed the fact that they all practically lived with Jim was the reason that they took his presence in stride.

Sarek and Amanda attended the party, Amanda talking to everyone at least once. Sarek stood a little more apart but found a kindred spirit in Marjorie. What they discussed remained a mystery to most of the party-goers but Marjorie did admit later to Jim that Sarek had asked her to return to House Net'no'kwa as editor-in-chief. She figured she'd accept, since he was offering her a lot of money and four more weeks of vacation.

By the time the party was held, Spock had officially resigned from House Net'no'kwa and had begun the training for the Consortium. Chris had agreed that he would best be used in intelligence gathering and processing, but he still was required to be trained for the field. Every member was. Spock had assured the Hierarchy that he would kill if necessary and that was all they needed to know.

For those not aware of their connection to the Consortium, they were lead to believe that Spock had decided to work for Chris' law firm. They kept what he would be doing intentionally vague but no one doubted that whatever role Spock filled, he would be a tremendous asset to Chris firm.

The fence outside the house had been completed so the puppies had the run of the backyard. Jim had finally named them, not Thing 1 and Thing 2 as Bones suggested. Instead, he named them Shakespeare and Chaucer. Leonard rolled his eyes at their names but knew they were absolutely fitting for Jim's dogs. Pavel allowed as how he thought one of them should be named Tolstoy or Chekhov but his suggestions were vetoed. Hikaru promised if they ever got another dog to keep Shep company, Pavel could name it after any Russian writer/ hero/ nobleman of his choosing.

Scotty had practically moved into their house and had a hard time leaving Jim for any length of time. They all understood his protective nature and was never surprised to wake up to find him in the house when they had gone to bed with him elsewhere. Jim reminded Bones that Scotty did this every time he was hurt and he would eventually spend more time at his house than theirs.

Leonard and Nyota showed the partiers the three house plans they were considering. One was ultra-modern which appealed to Nyota. One was old fashioned and two stories which Leonard favored. And the third was nearly an exact duplicate of the layout of Jim's house, minus the pool. No firm decision was made by the time the party was concluded, despite Jim's encouragement to build it and move out already. No one believed for one minute that he really was anxious for Leonard to leave, even if it was just across the pasture.

Spock had told Jim that he would not move in until Leonard had moved out. Not that he thought it would be especially awkward but there was a certain amount of privacy he would like to have. And since Leonard had continued to refuse to allow any physical affection more active than light kisses, Spock found it easier to mostly sleep in his own bed.

Jim reluctantly agreed with his assessment. It made sense even though Jim didn't like the fact.

One year later Leonard and Nyota's house across the pasture was finished, and they moved in. The floor plan was an intriguing mix of modern and traditional, everyone agreeing that it was most suitable for the McCoy-Uhura household. Their wedding was scheduled for the end of May, to be held on the beach. Chillie and the Ice Floes had happily agreed to play for the reception/clam bake to be held afterward, glad to be included in the festivities.

Spock moved into Jim's house shortly after Leonard and Nyota moved into theirs. Spock had slept over with Jim when they were both at home, their missions taking them to separate locations all too often. The Consortium would not assign them together, as was standard procedure.

After Jim and Spock had been together for six months, Jim convinced Spock to bond them in the Vulcan manner. Spock's only hesitation was that they could be distracted while on a mission, but once he realized that Jim's barriers were nearly flawless, he joyfully bonded them. Jim was flooded with love and inspiration and the wonderful essence that was all Spock. Spock felt equally blessed to have Jim's continual presence with him, although he had to occasionally reinforce his own barriers against Jim's incredible imagination. Spock finally understood what it meant to be a writer, to hear from the characters, all of whom were unquestionably real to the author.

Jim tried hard not to impose his characters on Spock but did not always succeed. And it turned out that being bonded to Spock made his Vulcan characters come alive in ways that even Jim could not have accomplished otherwise.

Spock, with Marjorie's help, finally convinced Jim to publish a slim volume of his poetry which was received with much acclaim. The New York Times called his poetry surprisingly elegant and accomplished. Jim didn't know whether to be pleased by their evaluation or insulted by it. Spock and Marjorie assured him that they meant it as high praise indeed. Jim politely refused Oprah's offer to promote his poetry on her show, promising that absolutely he would appear when his Vulcan Memoir was published.

One and a half years later Nyota gave birth to twins. The beautiful little girl, who looked just like her mother, they named JoAnna, and her precious little brother they named David, after Leonard's father. Pavel and Hikaru practically moved into the Uhura-McCoy house, declaring the babies their responsibility as much as they were Leonard and Nyota's. Everyone knew better than to argue.

The twins were never short baby-sitters, Uncle Jim and Uncle Spock the frequent recipient of their visits. The babies loved being with their Uncles but Leonard was of the opinion that had more to do with Shakespeare and Chaucer than Jim and Spock. Jim just ignored him and kidnapped the babies any time he could get away with it.

Winona had built her a little cottage in the corner of Jim's property, away from the beach but close enough. Her house was on the opposite side of a small rise so Jim never knew if she was home or not. He especially did not know if she was home alone or not. Which was the exact way Winona and Chris wanted it.

Two years later, Spock entered their bedroom to find Jim leaning up against the headboard, Shakespeare and Chaucer wagging at his entry. Jim looked up from his laptop to smile at his bondmate, happy to have him home, even though Spock had only been at the Consortium Offices all day. Jim was on temporary sabbatical in order to finish the final edits of Vulcan Memoir.

"What's that?" Jim asked, pointing at the huge red envelope that Spock was holding.

"An invitation," Spock said, his amusement barely contained.

"To what? It's ginormous."

"It is an invitation to the premier of Inadvertently Brilliant in New York City," Spock told him, handing him the folder.

"Oh dear God. You are kidding," Jim said, opening it to look at the elaborate enclosures.

"I am not. It is next weekend. We will be accommodated in the Four Seasons New York. That is where the stars of the movie are also staying."

"You may be staying there. I have no intention of going," Jim informed him, shaking his head in further emphasis.

"You know that you have no choice. Chris warned you that this would be one of the requirements."

"And I told him I wouldn't go," Jim pointed out. "I said they could make the movie it but I wanted no part of it."

Spock shook his head, sitting on the bed next to Jim to lean over and kiss him. "You must go. It is what is done."

"Whenever have I done the expected?" Jim asked, petting Shakespeare who was determined to wedge himself between his daddies. "Get down, Shakes," Jim ordered, the dog doing it to lay next to Chaucer on their rug.

"We will go to New York. You will be treated like a celebrity. You will meet the stars and act appropriately humble and appreciative."

"Nope," Jim said, shaking his head again.

"T'hy'la," Spock said in a mix of warning and coaxing. "You know you do not truly have a choice."

Jim sighed at that, reaching over for the phone. "Hey."

"Jim," Chris responded with a laugh. "I take it Spock gave you the invitation."

"I'm not going," Jim declared.

"Yes you are. I've already told them you'll be there. Chillie and Sherry are going. Since it's his soundtrack. Winona and I are going. Leonard and Nyota are going. The babies are staying with Pavel and Hikaru."

"Hikaru should have to come. He's First Research Assistant."

"He's not the author. I gave him permission to stay with Jo-Jo and Davie."

"I hate you. I never told you before, but I hate you," Jim claimed.

"Now, Jim. That's no way to talk," Chris said with a laugh. "Winona will have your new tuxedo in three days. Spock already has his. We're flying up on Wednesday and coming back Tuesday."

Jim sighed, frowning at the phone. "You're fired."

"All right. Doesn't change the fact that you have no choice but to go to New York," Chris told him.

"You can't tell me what to do when I've fired you," Jim protested.

"You are welcome to fire me. But you still work for me. Did you conveniently forget that?" Chris asked, still laughing at him.

"Oh. Yeah. Okay, fine. I'll go. But I refuse to be happy about it," Jim said.

"All right. Access Insider can show pictures of you pouting. That will endear you to your faithful."

"I don't pout," Jim claimed.

"Yes you do," Spock and Chris said simultaneously.

"That's not nice," Jim said. "You have to make it up to me."

"I have no intentions of it," Chris told him, laughing.

"I was talking to Spock. I am hanging up on you," Jim said.

"Say good night, Jim," Chris said, laughing when Jim did it.

"You'll make it up to me, right?" Jim asked when he had disconnected with Chris, smiling at Spock in such a way that always got him what he wanted. At least from Spock.

"How could I possibly refuse you anything?" Spock asked, carefully moving Jim's laptop out of the way before soothing any hurt feelings Jim was willing to pretend to have.