AN: Here we are. And please remember this was classified as an Extreme AU… Spock was not guaranteed to join Starfleet. For all of my reviewers that have patiently waited for this, I am so sorry it took so long and as soon as I finish getting things unpacked I will return to updating more frequently.
Please enjoy. I own nothing.
She's been agitated since the moment she left Spock and Jim, who has never really regretted much in her adult life finds herself teetering on the edge of regretting this. However, she has made the plans and it is too late to turn back now. It is her bed, this mess whatever comes from it, and she'll lay in by God.
"So, what is the story behind you and that Klingon?"
Try as she might, Jim hasn't quite been able to avoid the curious stares of Christopher Pike. Damn him. Bones snickers softly to himself and she quells the urge to do him bodily harm.
Jim whips her head around with wide eyes looking very much akin to a deer in the head lights. "Well," she sputters grasping for words, "it's not really all that amazing-"
"She's lying through her pretty teeth," Bones says smugly leaning against the nearest wall with a wide grin.
"Shut up Bones," she growls under her breath. Jim smoothed back a stray hair and attempted to look every inch the composed officer she was supposed to be.
And, she fails miserably as the blush stains her cheeks.
"It wasn't that unusual," she says as she glares covertly at Bones, "it could have happened to anyone."
"Anyone named James T. Kirk, sure." Bones concedes with a congenial nod of his head.
Jim blinks at him, opens and closes her mouth a few times. "I hate you… so much right now that I… I don't even have the words to express it."
Bones' grin grows wider. "Love ya too darlin'."
She pouts for a moment in her mind because her already bruised pride will simply not allow her to show it otherwise. "There was a misunderstanding-"
"Oh, I like this story already," Pike interrupts sarcastically.
"And a bar-"
"Can I finish? Or should I just go back to standing here and looking pretty?" Jim asks with an arched brow, her face clearly showing some amusement.
"My apologies," Pike says in a flippant manner bowing slightly at the waist, "as you were saying Chief Engineer?"
Jim snorts wryly at his phrasing.
"Yes, as I was saying…"
Jim bounced happily on the balls of her feet. This was going to be freaking AMAZING! Her blonde hair swished back and forth as she tried to lose some of her excess energy, but how could she? Here she was a simple girl from Iowa about to dock at the Federation's deep space port K-7 where all different kinds of aliens would be that Jim had never seen in person.
Well, she'd seen pictures and heard plenty of lectures on the known spacefaring species. However, those were so tedious and dull she'd made a game out of imagining all the ways the Professor could be eaten. She'd even given herself bonus points depending on the species.
A hand clapped her on the shoulder and Jim whirled to see the smiling face of the communications officer Nyota Uhura. She and Jim had hit it off instantly. Both women had wished to be taken seriously in their roles within the ranks of Starfleet.
So the excited pair of females had done what most humans in the military decide to do on their first shore leave. They went drinking. It was supposed to be simple relaxation time, a few rounds of decent but not overly expensive booze and perhaps a bit of flirting for Kirk. Neither of them could have predicted what would transpire that night.
With wide and somewhat innocent eyes on Kirk's part, because hey those Andorians weren't bad looking, they chatted until they reached the bay. Gray walls, red lights, a bar owner and various alcohol bottles shining under a funky looking disco-ball (Kirk had seen pictures in old archives) greeted them. Nyota spotted an oval table with high-backed dark gray seats, and tugged Kirk along.
Jim noted the art on the walls with various looks of appraisal. Some of it wasn't too bad, others looked like scrap metal from the USS Poe. A replicator, standard power panels with conduits to the main source, and an emergency communication device were situated next to the bartender. Jim gave him a flirtatious smile, which the black-haired human returned with obvious delight.
They weren't harming anyone as other patrons laughed, talked, and drank to their hearts content. Jim gave a quick look around to scan for possible threats… it didn't take long as a dark eyed Klingon sneered at her. Surrounded by his equally cuddly looking friends.
He roughly shoved back from his table, teeth bared into a silent snarl, as he strode toward her with a drink in hand.
'And he's likely drunk. I haven't done anything today that would merit this,' she sighed internally at her thoughts.
Jim tried to ease her posture as she leaned back in her gray, and slightly uncomfortable, chair. A patent Kirk look of mild indulgence graced her features as she waited for him to draw closer toward the table. He didn't disappoint. Nyota tensed at the sight of him, and Jim flashed a reassuring look.
"Humans? Is there no end to your plague?"
'Plague? Well that's a new one,' Jim thought acerbically.
"Can I help you friend?"
"I am not your friend Human scum," his alien face contorted in anger.
Well, this proved further that diplomacy was nearly always pointless.
Jim hunched slightly over the table, arms uncrossed and ready to block any oncoming attack. Her eyes showing false ease. "Alright then. Can I help you?"
"You can help the whole galaxy by leaving where you aren't wanted."
Jim snorted softly. "A Starfleet deep space station? My, my, it's a wonder I got turned around and thought we might be welcome here." She spared Nyota a glance, and saw the look of steel entering the other woman's eyes. Kirk learned long ago not to mess Uhura unless the words 'life or death' actually applied.
It appeared that sarcasm was wasted on Klingons when the burly male downed his drink, slammed it on the table and continued to rant.
"You think because your kind has a resource plentiful planet that you can just-"
"I'd calm down right about now, if I were you," Kirk said in a low voice that sent a tremble through the Klingon.
"Bah! I can look into your eyes and see that you are not prepared to kill." He placed a beefy arm around her shoulders. His breath wreaked of some unknown alcohol and Jim nearly gagged as he leaned in closer. "Then again, I hear you humans are up for just about anything." He grinned at his own innuendo.
"Klingon," Jim sneered with thinly-veiled anger, "you have ten seconds to remove your arm from my person before I do it for you." Her eyes were as hard as blue sapphires, and dared him to test her words.
The Klingon laughed loudly, a booming sound that carried well over the din in the bar. His ridges stood out prominently. Jim could tell he was one of the few Klingons that had chosen not to undergo genetic modification. The Klingons that had chosen the modification looked remarkably human, just with bushier eyebrows and surlier dispositions. They blamed humans for their own mistake of altering themselves.
His teeth flashed under the light and Jim sensed a change in his demeanor. "Is that so?" His dark eyes gleamed dangerously. Jim felt uncomfortable, but as Uhura across from her Jim's damn hero complex flared to life once more.
It was going to be the death of her one day, she just knew it.
Slowly Jim rose from the table, the Klingon kept his arm on her as she kicked the chair back as hard as she could.
She lifted her chin; her hair fell over her shoulder in a cascade of gold. "That is so." Her words were forceful and carried a hard edge to them. Jim straightened her back and pivoted her feet slightly. If she was going down, she was going to take this bastard with her.
"From a human no less? Now, I have seen everything."
He surprised her by gripping her right arm tightly with his own. He brought it up and slowly sniffed it. Jim blinked. 'What the hell?' she wondered. Did she smell? Was this some sort of insult? Her eyes narrowed at the thought of the latter.
"Jim," Nyota whispered agitated as she too rose from her seat, "don't."
If it was an insult, which it likely was and Jim was 85% sure of it, then she would return the favor. She felt a bit like a creeper as she sniffed his arm. It was then that she noticed the bar had gone eerily silent. Reassured that it was some insult, Jim watched his face as he grinned.
Well, that was unexpected.
Then her hand started to throb and she registered that her right hand was bleeding. The Klingon had gripped it so tightly that her nails were digging into his skin and his into hers. However, human flesh was much softer than a Klingons. Jim bit back the urge to hiss at the sting. She would not show weakness in front of these warriors.
Uhura moved to the other side of the table, behind Jim likely to watch her back the Engineer decided.
Someone shouted suddenly and it was angry. The Klingon holding her hand snarled a reply and turned to face the other aggressor. Jim did not understand a word, but she knew Uhura did. She risked a questioning glance to the woman behind her.
"We need to get out of here Jim," the linguist whispered in panic, "now!"
"I'm a little stuck," she murmured in reply and winced at the sting in her hand as it grew.
"No, Jim you don't understand. The other Klingon is furious that this one is-"
Whatever Nyota had been about to say was drowned out when Jim's cheek exploded in pain. Jim grunted as she was hurled to the ground by the force. Her hand ripped free of the crushing grip and bleeding, she felt a warm wetness run down the side of her mouth.
Oh that son of a bitch!
She wiped at the wetness and saw the streak of crimson that appeared on the back of her uninjured hand. She shook her head and stood up as she watched the Klingon shift into a fighting stance. Her blue eyes evaluated the room and the odds against her were staggering. She knew she needed to catch him off guard so she did the first thing that came to her mind.
To her surprise, the Klingons in the bar responded to the sound with mixed looks of anger and interest. The humans looked horrified.
Jim swiped at her bleeding mouth again. "I'm sorry," she spat the excess blood on the ground at his feet, "I thought I was supposed to face off against a Klingon warrior… you hit like a Ferengi." She sneered the last word as her hand had reached for the nearest object blindly.
Her fingers closed around a glass bottle from the next closest table.
The Klingon roared at the insult and charged forward with speed Kirk wasn't quite ready for. He caught her around the midsection as she brought the bottle down hard on the back of his skull. They fell and Jim proceeded to punch him twice in the under ribs. She rolled away and came up on her feet faster. Humans were less dense than Klingons and she would use that to her advantage now.
The Klingon started saying something she couldn't understand. The words were lost over the pounding of her blood in her ears. The world around her narrowed into a tunnel that he stood at the end of. Jim grabbed the nearest chair and hurtled it at him as hard as she could. He ducked and his grin turned feral. He kept talking as he advanced slowly forward. Kirk grabbed a glass and pitched that at him too. He wasn't quite quick enough and it shattered across his forehead. Jim watched with dark satisfaction as he started to bleed.
The Klingons that had gathered around them cheered with appreciation.
'This is one messed up species,' Jim thought with adrenalin pumping through her veins. She reached for another chair and was surprised to hear an observing Klingon step out of her way so she could have it. 'Reeeeeaaalllly messed up,' she amended in her thoughts.
The Klingon kept coming closer and Jim knew she had to change tactics. He said something that caused another bystander to snarl in rage. Jim grabbed blindly until her fingers groped the edge of a long necked glass, she broke it on the nearest table and darted forward. She ducked under his blow and came up slicing. His other hand caught her shoulder and Jim dimly registered a bone crunching sound. She jabbed the bottle into his midsection in reaction. He staggered back and pressed a hand to the wound. He laughed heartily as he charged after her once more. Jim dodged the attack and kicked him in the backside as he passed which caused him to fall into a table. He struck his head with a loud 'thump' and groaned. Jim dropped the bottle and grabbed another chair. She brought it down hard across his back as he tried to rise.
Kirk whirled and her eyes quickly scanned the crowed finding Nyota's red uniform easily among the sea of alien faces. She ran to her and grabbed her hand.
"Time to go," she said with false cheer as she half-dragged the linguist.
"We can't go Jim," Nyota told her seriously.
The engineer turned with a look that could have frozen water. "What?"
"He's sworn an oath to you. Didn't you hear it after his poetry?"
"Poetry?" She asked incredulous. Was Nyota exposed to some alien spore? Had Jim been knocked unconscious and was now tripping? Because in what world, no what universe did Klingons recite fucking poetry?
"What did you think he was saying?"
"I don't know! Death threats or… wait… an oath? Then why the hell is he attacking me?" Her face showed her outrage at the thought.
Nyota shook her head. "He's not attacking you Jim-"
"The HELL he isn't!"
The Klingon chose a poor moment to come near Nyota and Jim lashed out in reflex with her fist striking him in the face.
A pair of strong arms clasped Kirk around the shoulders and she struggled trying to kick at whoever held her.
"BachHa' rup chemvaH!" The Klingon holding her roared and Jim saw the linguist go very, very still.
Jim heard the first strings of the only Klingon song she knew float across the bar. The Starfleet engineer groaned low in her throat. For the rest of her days she would never forget the haunting melody of Aktuh and Maylota.
"The rest you know," Jim said staring balefully at Pike. "I was held for several weeks as Starfleet overturned my 'marriage' into house Unagroth."
"That can't be all of it."
"Oh not even close," Bones interjected sweetly… well for him anyway.
"Shut up," she hissed lowly.
"Kirk neglected to mention that the bastard broke her clavicle in the courtship fighting and that by Klingon standards is great luck for a marriage."
"That was not my fault," she defended hotly.
"There is also the part where she had to remain in the house and fought with him nearly every day because he couldn't figure out why his human wife wouldn't mate with him."
Jim turned scarlet. "It took me a while to understand what he wanted," she sputtered indignantly.
"Or the part where she thought his reciting poetry to woo her was actually some form of psychological warfare."
"It could have been."
"If you've ever heard and understood Klingon poetry, I am inclined to believe it is a form of psychological warfare," Pike admitted clearly amused.
Bones looked at her with a wicked gleam in his eye. "You should tell him how you tried to escape from the top floor with a rope made from the house laundry."
Jim drew herself up in wounded pride. "That was pure genius I tell you."
Pike laughed outright. "Is that why the file stated the Klingon ambassador offered many sets of 'fine undergarments' to pay for Kirk to remain of the house?"
"I don't want to talk about it, but I had to think of something to tell them."
"You didn't have to say-"
"I am done with this conversation!"
"Oh no, I order you to,-" Pike began with laughter still dancing in his eyes.
"Red Alert! Red Alert!"
"Oh thank God," Jim said under her breath as the computer screamed the warning at them and the red lights flashed.
Pike pointed at her with a stiff finger. "I'm not forgetting about this just yet Kirk."
Jim wondered vaguely how inappropriate it would be to pray for death.
"Kill me," she said slumping forward at her console.
"Now Jim," the Romulan chastised with amusement, "why would I ever want to do that?"
She spared him a withering glance. "I forgot mercy isn't a Romulan thing."
"Nonsense," he replied waving a hand dismissively, "I let your little Vulcan distraction live."
"He kicked you're a-"
"I believe I still have torpedoes trained on your vessel. And, if I am not mistaken your shields are non-existent."
"Touché," she conceded with her eyes rolling heaven ward.
"Never mind. You're like a freaking tick!"
Maelrok grinned and winked at her. "I take it a tick is a creature with unprecedented charm, intelligence, and good looks. Truly, you should count your good fortunes Jim."
Jim sputtered in indignation. This man was unbelievable!
"As I was saying Jim, I think it is time you come back to where you belong?"
"Have you suddenly acquired the divine knowledge that foretells where I am 'meant' to be? Are you hiding it in your back pocket? No? Then I am right where I need to be."
He shifted forward in his seat with a smug look. "That is not so, my bed is where you belong."
Jim let her displeasure show on her features. "Oh not this again."
Maelrok smiled a true smile of happiness. "Yes, this again."
Jim took a moment to notice that Pike is torn between anger and amusement.
"it's not funny, Sir," she hissed under her breath which only caused him to huff out a breath that sounded suspiciously like laughter. Did no one else take this seriously? Well, then again, Maelrok was nearly comic with how relentless he was to pursue her.
"Am I to presume that you are acquainted with my subordinate?" Pike inquires at his full height which towers over Kirk as she sits in her station.
Maelrok grinned, nodding in such a cocky manner that for a single moment in time Jim was actually impressed.
"Not as well as he'd like to be, I'm sure," she muttered under her breath with irritation. "Is this a point of pride for you now? Because I am beginning to wonder if it's me or the chase you crave so intensely."
Her Captain looked unamused, the Romulan looked delighted. His dark eyes shifted to Kirk's once more. "Surrender now Jim and I'll let them live."
The engineer looked at him in frustration. "Seriously, why don't you just clone me? Then you can take the clone and I can be on my merry way."
"Kirk you know cloning hasn't been perfected. You want another you running around with defects that cannot possibly be hidden overtime and-"
"Thank you Sir, but you aren't helping," Bones drawled lowly.
"You agreed to the decision Maelrok," she reminded him sternly.
"And, if they had made the right decision," he replied smarmily, "I would have abided by it."
"I'm still waiting for him to offer me some goats or at least some technology in trade for you," Pike quipped snidely.
Kirk snorted, "Trust me with their tech, I'd take the goats. Well, unless their cloaking technology was on the table."
The Romulan frowned at the screen. "I will not be mocked Jim," he warned seriously.
The blonde engineer appraised him silently. "If you attack Maelrok, we may not survive. But this vessel is far better equipped than the Hemmingway was."
Unease filtered across his features. "What are you saying?" He asked leaning forward in his seat.
"Neither ship will make it out of here," She lowered her gaze to her console. "So I am giving you an option to keep your men alive here. If you don't take it, then we are all going to die together." Jim tilted her head to the side in contemplation. "So tell me Maelrok, are you ready to die? Because honestly, I could go either way at this point."
"Try me," she quipped back.
"The last time you said that was on a certain frozen planet and we both remember how well I 'could'," she glared at his image on screen. "Maelrok, get ahold of yourself! You are risking war between your people and mine. We only have a tentative truce as it is. You are risking the lives of your crew and so help me God if you don't turn around in the next 5 seconds we both know what I will do to you if you don't."
They stared at each other. Both testing the other's limits until Jim narrowed her sapphire eyes.
"Two," she said with a determination she did not feel as her palms began to sweat and she waited for Pike to intervene, but he had seen the truth in her words. Maelrok was in Terran space. The edge of it to be sure, but he was not in the neutral zone by a long shot. This could only spark a war between the races.
"Four," Jim's eyes softened for a moment as his jaw tightened. "Don't make me do this Maelrok," she commanded, "don't make me waste the lives of your men."
"Turn us around," Maelrok said with a sense of defeat in his voice. His dark eyes gazed at Jim with a keen sense of longing. "The universe will long regret that you did not bare my heirs. They would have ruled the empire."
Jim was not unkind, and in this moment where she understood she would never see him again she felt a stirring of compassion for him. Even if he was the most conceited ass she'd ever met.
"Perhaps in the next life, Maelrok?"
The Romulan gave a bitter smile. "I look forward to it."
Then all Jim saw was the war bird speed away into the inky darkness of space.
He was torn. That simplistic phrasing was the only proper way to describe Spock's mental state at the moment. He'd woken and upon reading Jim's short note he'd suffered some distress. Worry for his mate, anger at her leaving, sorrow at some perceived imperfection about himself, and finally heartbreak. He tilted his head to the side and forced the majority of the emotions at bay so that he could keep his Vulcan control.
Emotions in a Vulcan were very strong and Spock, though a Vulcan-human hybrid, possessed the emotional capabilities of a full Vulcan. His eyes scanned the note once more and he debated the merits versus the detriments. His father had explained to him this strange human custom, but there had been no input as to the multitude of times this would occur.
Troubled, and filled with doubts he'd thought he'd rid himself of long ago, he chose to follow the logical course of action. This meant a vid conference with his mother. As he pressed the appropriate number sequence, Spock felt a keen sort of sadness at Jim's disappearance. Though, he supposed he ought to have accounted for such a reaction; Jim was very hard to predict in many aspects.
His hands clenched involuntarily into fists at his side. His features, though kept at a blank mask of cool indifference held the tidal wave of hurt at bay.
Spock had not expected his docile mother to react so… vocally to his announcement. And, while he was certain it was physically impossible to accomplish approximately half of his mother's threats he did not put it past Amanda Grayson to discover a way to make it probable.
Nor had he ever witnessed his mother's impressive ability to turn vermillion prior to his conversation about Jim's departure.
He concluded the short and terse discussion with Sarek who had little information on strange human customs. Thoroughly dissatisfied, Spock went about his standard routine as if his bond had not been turned upside down.
He meditated and looked over his duties for the day. His crew and ship would expect his prompt arrival in exactly 3 hours, 47 minutes, and 28 seconds. Spock sealed away the brimming emotions that ranged from hurt to betrayal and did what Vulcans had done for generations. He accepted what was and moved on, as was only logical.
Jim was… waiting. This should have been enough for Armageddon and the apocalypse to have merged and wreak havoc upon every sentient species known to man; and a few known to monkeys. However, all that seemed to happen was a skittish Jim jumping at every door opening, every communication that didn't occur from within the Enterprise, and a burning sense of worry.
She was confidence personified most days, and a flirt to the bitter end. All these things made Kirk…well, Kirk. So, it was unusual for her to be so very unsure. Had she done the right thing? Had she? She wasn't so sure anymore. For being as hell bent as she was to get the heck outta dodge, her every waking thought revolved around a certain Vulcan with piercing eyes.
Granted, he was in her head which in itself was a rather strange thought. But, he couldn't read her thoughts, so Jim took solace in the fact he didn't know of her remorse. The farther away she got from him, the more she considered what she'd left behind. And, that is exactly what she'd done, wasn't it? She'd left Spock behind.
And, maybe, she'd led him on… a little.
Damn it she didn't have time for this. She was James T. Kirk and she didn't make mistakes! Ever!
The thought left a bitter taste in her mouth.
No. No. She'd done the right thing. The Enterprise was her life! It was her love! Well, she loved Spock. Wait. Where did that come from? Jim bit nervously at her fingernail, eyes unfocused and confused. It was the right choice? Wasn't it? She was an independent woman and after that macho show of bravado where they'd tried to barter her around like some trade good she had every right to tell them off. In fact she could tell them where to go, how to get there, and several implausible things to do with a donkey along the way.
Yes, that's right. Jim nodded to herself, not noticing the way her blonde hair fell in disarray over her shoulder. She wasn't in the wrong. So she'd slept with her husband, so to speak, and walked away as if nothing happened. So what? It wasn't like she had anything to be ashamed about!
Or did she? Because she'd promised him something she'd never intended to keep. And, Jim hated when other people did that, so why be a hypocrite now?
She had precious little more time to think as the shuttle announced they were boarding the Enterprise. Jim as in a haze as she was debriefed by Captain Montgomery who'd told her to "go on lass, get." Jim walked steadily toward the doors of her Engineering bay. Because it was hers thank you so very much. Captain Scotty could have the rest of this beautiful girl, but the Core in all its glory belonged to Kirk damn it.
Everything was just as she'd imagined it would be. It was perfect and gleaming, calling to her with turbines, conduits, dylithium, and it begged for her to touch it. She smiled, like a mother seeing her baby for the first time.
"Beautiful," she whispered in a trance as she all but skipped toward it.
'Beautiful,' he'd called her that night in his arms where she'd felt so cherished. Kirk was no angel when it came to the bedroom, but the way he'd looked at her, so heart breaking sincere… she'd never known that before.
Jim shivered in the warm air at the memory of Spock's touch. She shook her head, and touched the console in front of her precious warp core. She had it all now. Yet, as her head turned instantly toward the door where she'd come through; Jim wasn't so sure anymore.
Somehow, she knew with finality that Spock wasn't coming for her this time.
What had she given up to get here?
Did it even matter? She had everything!
For once, Kirk was stumped by a question of her own asking.
Jim strummed her fingers on the desk in her private quarters. She'd been heralded as everything from a genius to a demi-god for her remarkable work on the warp core and that had been nice. Well, it had been more than nice it had been everything she'd worked for. Her strong independent side reveled in it. But the looks Bones threw her way, the gentle concerned pats on the shoulder from Uhura began to plague her thoughts.
She was great.
Everything was perfect. Or mostly perfect. Wasn't it perfect? She had the Enterprise, her career, her friends, her aspirations, and her life. And, yet, in the night hours when her shifts were over and time was her enemy that Jim began to really wonder. What if she'd stayed?
She had been kept up many a night by the simple question. Perhaps it was human curiosity that made her ask the question, but it was longing that conjured up the answers. Some of them were idyllic, and some more realistic. Yet, every one of them had Kirk still being an career woman… just with someone other than a casual lover to share it with. It had started to grow appealing.
Spock had made no attempts to contact her, though Jim had thought about preventing any form of contact she had refrained from it. A sad feeling of loneliness emanated from that bond… thing… they had and Kirk wasn't sure if it was her or if it was from Spock. Both possibilities left her strangely cold inside.
She hardly even knew the guy! No, that wasn't true. They had been inside each other's minds. Jim had no words for it, but inexplicably, she knew Spock. Everything about him and everything he thought for a few precious moments in time, they had been one. It was like denying another part of herself.
There was a bond with Spock. The weird Vulcan one and the one Jim reacted to. The very human aspect of bonding with another living being was, well, it was a little humbling. She was a ground breaker, a history maker, and here she was being as human as they come.
Kirk was a lot of things. A lot of things; from a rescuer, to a courageous flirt, to the embodiment of genius and insanity nearly going hand in hand… but she was not a quitter. And, that is what she had done, wasn't it? She'd quit on him and it pissed her off. She didn't do that and she sure as hell wasn't a walk-away anything. Sure, she'd had her good times but that had always been with the understanding that there were no strings attached. This time there was a damn string attached to her freaking brain.
Jim sighed in the empty room.
She wasn't a quitter. She was a history maker. A slow smile spread over her features as she contemplated the last part. Jim had already made history once. Why not make it again?
"Kirk, are you absolutely sure?" Pike looked at her with warm and kind eyes. Jim fought the tightening sensation in her throat. Maybe she was, maybe she wasn't.
However, she'd never know if she didn't try. She refused to be a coward and she wasn't going to start now.
"Yes, I am sure Sir."
Pike drew a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "We are sorry to lose you Kirk," his smile was genuine as he signed her dismissal papers. "Just steer clear of Klingons and Romulans alright?"
"You've got it."
Bones was lounging outside the door way when she left Pike's office. His normally dour looking face was impassive as he watched her with a look she couldn't quite read. It made her uncomfortable because she thought she knew everything there was to know about Bones.
His eyes looked her up, lingering on her face, and then down once more. He cleared his throat and wrapped her in a quick embrace.
"Don't be a stranger, Jim." He whispered into her hair.
Jim felt the tears gathering in her eyes but she blinked the away. She hugged him a little tighter, and in an understanding only a true friendship can produce she laid her head on his shoulder.
"Come on Bones, I couldn't get any stranger if I tried."
Jim hated this place. She hated this planet. And she hated the fact that air conditioning was something that Vulcans viewed as 'unnecessary'. The bastards did this kind of stuff on purpose, she was sure of it. It was also making her horribly upset that T'Pau was making her interview with the Vulcan Science Core since she'd rejected her previously granted position.
Oh boo freakin' hoo.
Vulcans were as bad as Romulans when it came to rejection.
Jim had answered their questions politely and attempted to focus as they droned on in a languge she still didn't understand.
Her ears perked up when they switched to standard for her benefit.
"Lady T'Pau, the Science Core holds the deepest respect for your position and your clan. Despite considerable evidence to the contrary, we permitted your grandson admittance do to his high scores and adherence to Vulcan traditions. However there is nothing that this council can consider which would benefit your granddaughter by marriage the same right."
Jim gave a low and slightly indulgent smile. "May I be permitted to speak?"
"You have the right, though I gravely doubt it will weigh on our decision."
"I noticed the new science cruiser here on the grounds. You are contracted with the Vulcan government correct?"
"And, I couldn't help but notice that it was made very recently. This inclines me to believe that it has the most up to date technology? Would that be correct?"
The Vulcan's face was impassive. "Indeed it would be correct."
"And therefore on could logically conclude that it possess the newest warp core taken of the T'Maiti, or a close approximation thereof? Meaning a dylithium power grid composed mostly out of spare materials?"
"How would you be in possession of such knowledge? The information is still highly classified."
"Because Sir," she gave a slight nod, "I invented it."
The Vulcans simultaneously raised a brow though no other expression showed upon their stoic faces. They whispered amongst one another, and withdrew from the room. Jim looked to T'Pau, and if she wasn't mistaken… she rarely was because she was simply that awesome… the older Vulcan Matriarch's eyes looked amused.
It took them precisely five minutes to return. Their faces nearly set in stone.
"We will require an aptitude test, and barring sub-standard scoring, the Vulcan Science Core is willing to accept James T. S'chn T'gai into our ranks. This meeting is dismissed. S'chn T'gai, you are to report to the commons area at 06:00 tomorrow morning. Tardiness will not be tolerated."
With that, they were gone, receding into a hallway that reminded Jim of one too many end of the world movies from the 21st century.
"S'chn T'gai?" Jim queried of T'Pau as soon as she was certain the even more pompous Vulcans were out of hearing range.
"You are of the clan, she who is wife of Spock." Her dark eyes pierced Jim with an inquisitive stare. "What else did you expect to be called?"
'In this place? Anything but late to dinner,' she thought with wry sarcasm. Wisely, Jim chose to not voice her thoughts.
Kirk no longer wondered what hell must be like. She'd already found it. And surprise, surprise, it just so happened to be on Vulcan. The one light year away from a blazing inferno, planet of pointy-eared bastards where everyone spoke to her as if she had the intelligence of a four year old.
It was getting old and pretty damn fast.
The Vulcans didn't seem to like her, or trust her to perform simple tasks for that matter. However, they were more than quick to snap up her invention and use it. Jim was beginning to see a pattern here. Oh, they never said anything out right but she could feel the looks they gave her when they felt she wasn't watching.
Jim successfully pushed them from her thoughts most days, and her work was beyond reproach. If nothing else, she deserved every damn compliment of 'genius' that had ever come her way. She was doing this for a reason and a good one at that.
Because she wanted to.
Their aptitude tests had been a joke to Kirk. While she had not scored as high as some other previously admitted persons, she had not been far off. She accepted her work and buckled down. She would work her ass off here just like she did in Starfleet and then when she'd proven herself to her supposed 'Vulcan peers', she'd request a transfer to Spock's ship. Whatever his ship was or would be at that time… it didn't matter. Kirk was a woman on a mission.
And come hell or high water, which was never going to happen on this oven of a planet, she would see it through. There was someone she wanted to get back to.
5 Years Later.
Captain Spock, having surpassed even the strictest standards of Vulcan decorum walked with purpose toward the bridge of his ship. The T'Maiti had seen its days of action and now was assigned to a few more standard science expeditions. Spock was more than key to a few new breakthroughs in the Vulcan world of science and standardized education of Vulcan children.
His service record was noted with acts of bravery, exceeding logic, and of course an impeccable ship. Spock was more than proficient at his position. He'd given the order nearly 4.39 standard days ago to return to Vulcan. His engineering department, security department, and science department had recently suffered a loss while attempting to rescue delegates trapped within the neutral zone on route back from the discovery of the new species XJ98771.
He was ordered to Vulcan to take on new officers to replace those he had lost. Their deaths were an unfortunate outcome, and he'd been forced to meditate upon the events more than a few times. Though, he was able to reflect upon how it could have been a better outcome had he changed a few variable courses of action, what was… was.
His crew stood at attention at his arrival upon the bridge. Spock tilted his head in acknowledgement and resumed docking sequence with Vulcan Prime Station. He was pleased to see their time for docking had been reduced by 13.212 seconds. There was a great deal to be said for Vulcan efficiency.
The officers were already within passenger bay 41A.
His communicator beeped. Spock pressed the button and waited.
"Captain, the new officers have boarded," a female Vulcan's voice filtered through.
"Understood. I shall be down to debrief them in 4.01 minutes."
Spock strode with his hands behind his back. He noted the proficiency of the crew members he passed on his way to the loading cargo bay where the newest officers waited for him. He briefly reflected back on his bond mate, though he often curbed the frivolous thoughts of her there were times when his bond would tug at his mental shields.
If she ever thought about him, he knew not. He had, during the first few months of her leaving waited for a declaration of the dissolution of their bond. No news had ever reached him of such an event. Spock reasoned that Jim had wished to keep their bond in name only.
It was… regrettable. But it also burdened him with an irrational sense of hope which he repeadely tried to ignore.
The doors hissed open, and Spock immediately took the information handed to him from LT. T'Por. He scanned over the list quickly, noting 13 officers were being added to his roster, as well as 22 enlisted. His dark eyes looked up.
And Spock forgot to breathe.
Sapphire eyes were watching him intently from a face framed with lovely golden hair, the strange emotions that had been leaking from the bond that had been stopped by his mental shields made such startling sense. He paused, and for a moment all Spock could do was force his mind to register the fact that Jim was staring back at him.
Her hair was shorter than he remembered, but pinned up in accordance with regulation. She wore an officer's uniform. The markings on it depicted her to be in the science core. Spock blinked, and began his debriefing under the watchful eyes of the others. His Vulcan mask never slipped as he outlined the expected duties of each new personnel. Though his mind analyzed the meaning of Jim's presence aboard the ship, his full attention was focused on the task at hand.
His eyes flicked down toward the roster held tightly in his hands. His eyes spotted it now.
'S'chn T'gai' His clan name stared right back at him from the screen.
"That is all. Dismissed." He stated tonelessly and watched as they all filed out. "LT. T'Por, I require a moment of privacy." The pretty Vulcan woman snapped to attention and exited.
He was left alone.
His hands shook.
"The Captain has requested-," he heard the voice from the other side of the door.
"That's nice," her voice…
Spock closed his eyes for a moment. It had been so very long since he'd last heard it. The door hissed open and she closed it behind her, decidedly refusing to listen to the protests of the lieutenant.
He did not turn. "I specifically requested privacy."
"I know," she said softly but it was too soft for her normally flamboyant personality. "I'm not all that good at listening sometimes. You should know that… as my new Captain."
"I had assumed you were still aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise."
He hears her footsteps, lighter than any Vulcans as she stands in front of him. Her blue eyes show her uncertainty, but she does not take her gaze away from him.
"I was," she admits without preamble as she keeps her distance from him. "I even stayed for three years and let myself work on all the formulas everyone told me were impossible. It was everything I ever hoped it would be and more."
He nods stiffly, wanting to quell the rising feeling of pain that clenches at his heart and throat.
He raised a brow imperiously. "Then I fail to see why you are here S'chn T'gai." He says the name with a trace of defensiveness lacing his words. Spock doesn't understand why she's here when she so obviously didn't want him.
The door opens and T'Por comes in "Sir, I attempted to dis-"
"Do you mind?" Jim snaps out forcefully, "I am trying to talk with my bond mate! What happened to Vulcans respecting privacy?"
T'Por's eyes widen a fraction and Spock nearly points out that the need for privacy is negated when someone tells the third party what they wanted to keep private. Everyone has knowledge of Spock's human bond mate. The trial was not as discreet as he had previously planned on it being. His choice in mate had been met with some criticism and censure.
T'Por silently backs out of the door and closes it behind her.
Jim mutters something under her breath.
She looks down, and he can feel the bond twitch and flare to life. She's thinking about him, or at him. He cannot understand the thoughts for Jim is still a psy null.
"Ish-veh ri ma du," she said and the words were somewhat helpless. Her accent is atrocious, but he can make out the words. "I was there for three years, but I didn't stop thinking about you. In the end, I couldn't stay. It was everything I worked for Spock," she says his name and not his rank. He refrains from correcting her, as he thinks it might be vaguely inappropriate. "But," she laughs softly in wonderment, "while it was great for my career, leaving you wasn't great for me. It sounds corny and sappy, but it's true. I've been places and seen things that no one should really see. I've done things that would make a pro blush," he does not understand her statement but wordlessly allows her to continue. "It's not going to be easy, being with me. And I know you and I will but heads sometimes. But some things are worth the fight."
Jim bit her lip in contemplation for a heartbeat.
"I make my own choices Spock. No one makes them for me. Ever. And, I need you to know that I'm sorry I ran away. That I am here to stay now and I am never running away again. I also know it's going to take time for you to trust me, and I can handle that. I'll earn your trust the way I've earned everything else in my life. Good or bad. But you are something special, we have something special, and I would be ten times the fool for staying away."
All the rational thoughts he's been forcing himself to comply to dissolve in front of his eyes. Jim looks down and back up at him resolution. "Officer James of the Vulcan Science Core reporting for duty." It's a practiced line he can tell from her face, but he understands what she's telling him.
He folds his hands behind his back and looks at her. Not yet ready to trust what she is saying, but willing to give her the chance to prove it to him. "Was it my mother that helped you regain the position in the Science Core?"
Jim smiles, that same smile that has kept him from truly productive meditations. "No," she shakes her head and he watches her gold hair move, "your mother had a few choice words for me, and I am no longer welcome in Na'nam . In fact if she catches me… well anyway… it was T'Pau who helped me."
He blinks. "Fascinating."
"Trust me, the call was not," she says in amusement. "Was there anything else you wanted to ask me?"
His face is neutral. "Not at the moment, I have a ship to Captain."
"Ah, I see." Jim waits for a tense moment, then snaps a salute and begins to exit.
"Officer S'chn T'gai?" He asks before he can stop himself, because she's more than come halfway and that deserves more than his dismissal. Perhaps she should be given an opportunity to earn a spot back in his good graces?
"Yes, Sir?" She asks hesitantly.
"Perhaps, you would be amenable to a game of chess in my quarters after your shift?"
"Why Captain, I thought you'd never ask."
He hears her laugh gently and feels the life from their bond. For the first time in five years Spock allows himself to ponder the possibilities of exploring the galaxy with Jim at his side. And, that perhaps, there is something to be said for human brashness.
However, he also keenly understands that only time will tell and there is much that remains unsaid between them. For now, he is content to simply evaluate the likely outcome of having Jim as the first human to ever serve aboard a Vulcan vessel.
Ish-veh ri ma du: It (particular thing or person) in no way (Vulcans don't have a 'didn't') have you. (Loose translation.)
BachHa' rup chemvaH: A fine mate!