He saw them, not as they were, but as they should have been. The flashes of memory he had received stayed with him, feeling more like the echoes of a previous life he had lived than detached recollections belonging to another person. He saw the two of them side by side in the midst of some danger or other. He saw the harmony in which they acted and felt the depth of their trust and loyalty. He saw himself smiling broadly as Spock gripped his arms and gazed at him with joy, a smile on the Vulcan's face and a light in his eyes that Kirk had never seen outside that memory. /"This simple feeling..."/ He could feel Spock's hand in his own and the strength of their affection for each other. /"I have been and always shall be..."/
Try as he might to push them aside, Kirk was consumed with these shadows of what could have been. He saw joy and love like he had never really experienced, and he knew that he could never have it. It was true that the memories were incomplete and didn't give him definite knowledge of the exact nature of their relationship, but Kirk thought he could guess from the intensity of feeling the memories had brought.
Upon entering the bridge, Kirk automatically asked for the ship's status, then proceeded to only half-listen to Sulu's report that they were on course for their destination and their estimated arrival date and time. It was a moment or two before he responded.
"Very good, thank you Mr. Sulu."
Kirk was aware of a movement by the science station, but he kept his eyes deliberately forward. As much as he tried to keep his focus ahead, he was hyper-aware of every movement Spock made as he deliberated in his chair, shifted toward Kirk, and got up to approach him. Spock came to stand by the captain's chair, placing his hand on the armrest. Kirk observed the Vulcan's graceful hand, his long fingers mere inches away. Kirk shifted delicately to the left and cautiously looked up so that he could politely listen to Spock tell him about some rather insignificant scientific observations he'd made in the area. But as Spock talked, Kirk realized that his eyes and voice were doing all the real communicating. Subtle inflections and a penetrating expression made it clear to Kirk that Spock was just seeking an excuse to come over and speak to him. His First Officer could sense that something was wrong with the Captain, and he wanted to know what.
"Thank you, Mr. Spock," he said. "That's very fascinating. Now if everything is under control here, I'll go and see to other business."
He rose, and in doing so brought his face up near Spock's level. Their eyes locked. Kirk froze, temporarily paralyzed by a longing that the other man would never feel.
"You have the bridge," he said, pleased that his voice did not give away the wave of emotion he'd been hit with.
Safe in his quarters, Kirk wondered what he should do. Things couldn't continue this way, but he couldn't bear the thought of the two of them taking separate assignments. He wanted Spock in his life, so he would have to get past this somehow. As he struggled over how to do this, someone came to the door.
"Come," he said unenthusiastically.
Spock walked in, tall and regal, and Kirk quickly tried to block out thoughts of a dream he'd recently had, separate from the memories, that involved Spock being in his quarters. He was grateful to be safe behind his desk as Spock approached.
"How can I help you, Mr. Spock?" Kirk asked.
"Actually, I came to ask if there is anything I can do to help you."
"Me? Help me with what?"
"It appears that something is troubling you," said Spock.
Kirk put on a confident smile.
"Thank you for your concern, Mr. Spock, but I assure you nothing is troubling me. What are you doing?"
The affected confidence in his voice faltered at the end because Spock had come around to the side of his desk so that there was no longer anything separating them. The most dignified thing to do seemed to be to stand, so he steeled himself to meet Spock's eyes.
"Jim," said Spock, "I must remind you that my powers of observation are considerable, especially when it comes to you. You are my friend, and I know that something is troubling you."
"Ok then. What exactly is troubling me, Spock?"
"I believe that at least part of it has to do with me. What began some time ago as occasional signs of discomfort has now become avoidance and, it seems, a physical aversion."
Kirk was dumbfounded and extremely embarrassed. Apparently his very subtle behaviors were not so subtle to Spock. But what possible explanation could he provide?
"Spock, I don't have a physical aversion to you."
Spock took a few steps closer. Kirk had been affected by his closeness before he took those steps. He shrank back slightly, trapped between his chair and Spock, with his desk and a wall on either side.
"Have I done something to offend you?" Spock asked.
"No," said Kirk, "You didn't do anything."
Spock's penetrating eyes studied him for a moment, then the Vulcan reached out a hand to Kirk's face. Kirk stared at Spock, unsure what to think, his heart beating fast. Spock saw that he was taken aback.
"Please, Jim," he said. "Let me have your thoughts. How can I be an effective First Officer unless I am made aware of the source of your discomfort?"
"Logical as always," said Kirk as Spock's fingers brushed the side of his face.
Spock came closer still and arranged his fingers in the now familiar pattern. Kirk didn't have to try to show Spock the right memories. They were already in the front of his mind. When Spock broke the meld, Kirk fully expected him to back away in disgust, but he didn't. He remained there in front of him, inches away.
"He told me something too," said Spock. "He said that we needed each other, and that our friendship would define us both. That is no ordinary friendship. I did not know the details you saw, but I knew that you were a big part of who I was supposed to be. That I was not complete without you."
"We'll never know exactly how things were supposed to be," said Kirk.
"No, but we at least have an indication that we are on the right path."
Kirk watched, amazed, as Spock brought two of his fingers to touch two of Kirk's. Kirk, who had already researched this kind of thing as sort of a guilty pleasure, knew what it meant. Joy and relief coursed through him.
"My father did not marry my mother because it was logical," said Spock. "He married her because he loved her. When it comes to you, my decisions might not always be logical, but I think they will always be right."
With that, he leaned in and kissed him.