Here we are, the final part! Thanks again so much for sticking with me, despite the long delays. I hope you have all enjoyed reading as much as I have writing. Xx
(Some of the details mentioned in regards to Kirk's time at the Academy is lifted from the Starfleet Academy Series.)
Spock had been meditating in his apartment when Nyota called. His father and members of the Council were staying with him while they were on Earth, so he suggested they visit the campus refectory in order to make her more comfortable. He had thought often of introducing her to his parents in the past, knowing he would be relying on his mother's gentle excitement to soothe his father's distaste of the match. Now, he doubted Sarek would be so disinclined to his son's choice in partner, being so raw from the loss of his own. For that reason, Spock could not bring himself to act as propriety said he should. Nyota did not need his explanation and merely agreed with only the suggestion that they visit the cafe in Cochrane Hall, as it was well protected from the press.
Once settled, he with a tea and she with a frothy chai latte, they sat together in companionable silence until she found the words to express her thoughts. "Kirk brought me dinner last night."
Spock inclined his head. "Yes, he commed to inform me of such. I believe he was attempting to provide me with assurance that his motivations in seeking your company were purely innocent."
Jim had sounded most uncomfortable, not quite asking permission, but clearly unwilling to cross any more boundaries with Spock. Spock found he appreciated the thought, as unexpected as it was.
"I doubt anything Jim Kirk does is innocent." Nyota shook her head. Her hair was loose and curled over her shoulders, a slight wave to it that suggested she had showered and then slept before drying it. It was also one of the few times he had seen her out of cadet reds or other Fleet apparel. He found the pale pink sweater she wore to be surprisingly pleasant to look at and resolved to see he had more occasions to witness her out of uniform. "You know they gave him command?"
Spock was aware. He had actually been a great advocate for such a move, despite what some of the Admiralty had expected. "I had been informed such a decision had been made. I believe it to be the correct one, given the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in. The Federation is wounded, it needs a balm and a protector, and I do not believe there are any in service who will perform that duty with the same profound dedication as James Kirk."
She took a long sip of her drink and licked away a spot of foam from the corner of her lips. A rush of affection filled him and warmed him faster than the beverage in his hands.
"Kirk said that, about us being wounded." She admitted. "We talked a lot, last night. He told me things..." She broke off, unable to finish the sentence, clearly shaken. "Did you know? About his childhood?"
Spock did not. "I was aware of only the very basics. His personnel file is well detailed, but omissions have clearly been made in certain records. One must simply 'read between the lines' as you say."
"No. The events that took place on Tarsus IV are in the public domain, though granted, not widely accessible. Sometimes it is best to hide things in plain sight." A file with as many gaps as Kirk's would need to protect all his secrets would only raise red flags across the board. Spock was most curious to see Kirk's psychological evaluations, but while they had been available and of little interest to him a week ago, they were now sealed with a security clearance higher than his own.
Nyota bit the edge of her nail, something she only did when upset or agitated. "He didn't say much about it. Just that it was enough that I knew he was there." She shuddered and held her mug tighter to her body. "I looked up some of the files…"
Spock found himself grateful for Jim's silence on the details. Nyota was no means sheltered or innocent, but there were some things he wished, irrationally, illogically, he could protect her from. The realities of what the survivors of Tarsus IV had been subjected to were just one of many.
Kirk's file had been vague, stating only that his name had been listed on Kodos's termination list, and that he was one of only nine to survive the genocide. Since leaving Kirk at Starfleet Medical, Spock had done his own research, cross referencing other files until he understood that Kirk was the eldest of those who had been rescued, and that along with severe dehydration and emaciation, he bore indicators of prolonged and brutal abuse. He had been placed into counselling upon his return to Earth, and cleared six months later by a thoroughly negligent psychological professional before returning to rural Iowa, where he had led an unremarkable life punctuated by arrests for disorderly behaviour, aggravated assault and public indecency. No charges had ever been held against him.
"That seems understandable." Spock took a sip of his tea. It was a flavor that both he and Captain Pike favored. Its origin was a hardy flora from Pike's locale of the Mojave. The sweet robust taste was familiar and warming. He had still only managed two sips before Nyota had finished her drink. She seemed chilled, despite the humidity in the air and the thick sweater she wore. Spock ordered her a replacement and she smiled gratefully. "You are unsatisfied with his silence on the matter?"
"No," She shook her head but hesitated. "I just…. he said he wants me for his Comms Officer."
"A most logical choice." Spock complimented. She was most qualified and had more than proven herself during the encounter with Nero. "He has requested all of the staff serving during our recent mission, including Mr Scott, a matter I believe was met with great disapproval by Admiral Archer." Actually, Jim had surprised everyone when, minutes after being offered Captaincy, had straightened his shoulders and accepted the post on the sole condition that he all those who had stood with him against Nero be given the choice to take up their positions on a permanent basis. He had been most adamant about Scott.
"I'll bet." Nyota smiled.
Spock considered her carefully before continuing. "When they denied his request for Chief of Engineering, he thanked them and refused commission."
Nyota blinked in disbelief. "He blackmailed the Admiralty? Of course he did, he's Kirk. Oh my god, how are we not all in the brig?" It was most unlike her to be prone to such hyperbole. Spock excused it on account of her most obvious exhaustion and emotional stress.
"They agreed, of course."
"Of course." She looked down at her cup in disgust. "See, that's the Kirk I know. Things have to be his way."
"Is that why you are reluctant to take the position?" He didn't need to employ his skills as a telepath to read her thoughts on the matter. Anyone else in the same position would jump at the chance being offered her. But then perhaps Kirk would not be making it if she were anyone else.
"What do the others think?" She asked.
Spock had not been privy to any of the decision-making processes, but he was aware that Nyota was the only member of Kirk's senior staff who had yet to accept their post. McCoy had been first on, though that was no doubt on account that Kirk's post as Captain would be tragically short without his doctor in continuous attendance. Jim hadn't even had to ask.
"Their decisions should not affect yours." Spock admonished gently.
She raised her head and looked at him with deep, dark eyes he found so fascinatingly aesthetic. "What about you?"
"He asked." Spock admitted. In true Jim Kirk fashion, there had been no hesitation, he had just looked Spock in the eye and said "I need you by my side."
"You said no?"
"I did." A sudden rush of uncertainty filled him. He had been so sure when making his response to Kirk based on all the logical reasons. "I must assist my people, you understand?"
Her face filled with compassion. She was very like Amanda in that respect. Her own desires were so quick to be overridden by those of the people she loved. "I understand." She said. "We could have done with you, of course. Can't imagine anyone else in the Fleet who can keep Kirk in line.
Spock noted the way she used her words and felt a swell of relief. Nyota was the most gifted linguist he knew of - she had millions of words at her disposal and never misused a single one. Her mind was made up, even if she was not admitting to it.
Spock drank the last of his tea and the two sat together in silence. He would miss her once she left. He would miss a great many things, it would seem.
He was pleased to see Jim looking much improved upon their next meeting. Out of uniform for the first time in their short acquaintance, Spock almost did not recognise him as he walked hand in hand with a small, dark haired human girl of perhaps five years of age. He wore jeans and a white long sleeved top. Sunglasses and a leather jacket completed the appearance. Besides him, Doctor McCoy was similarly dressed, though without the jacket.
"Captain." Spock said, stopping before them on the dewy grass of the Academy forecourt.
Jim's expression shifted from rapt attention to a beaming smile. "Spock! Hey, how are you?"
"I believe I should be asking you a similar question." Spock deflected. The little girl holding Jim's hand stared up at him with wide, dark eyes. Their shape and coloring was remarkably familiar...
"Come on, Joanna." McCoy picked the child up and she reluctantly released Jim's hand. "Let's leave Uncle Jim and Mr Spock in peace."
"I'll catch you later ok, kiddo?" Jim said with a grateful smile. "Spock and I gotta talk about boring stuff, but when we're done how about we sneak some ice cream past your old man?"
McCoy rolled his eyes but didn't protest. He was smiling, wide and happy. Spock had never seen such an expression of joy.
Jo agreed quickly and wrapped her arms around her father's neck so she could wave to Jim over McCoy's shoulder.
Jim waved back merrily, his smile fixed and barely moving when he hissed to Spock, "Wave already!"
Which was how Spock found himself waving for the first time in his life. Odd that he did not want to disappoint either Jim or the child.
Once they were out of sight, Spock dropped his hand.
"Thanks Spock. I swear, that kid has me wrapped around her little finger." Jim's expression was fond. He pushed his sunglasses up onto the top of his head. Spock was pleased to see him free from bruising and as vibrantly handsome as he had been when they met. The evidence of his despicable violence had been difficult to overlook while still painted across Jim's face. "So really, how are you?"
"I am fine, thank you Captain."
Jim laughed. "Seriously? You save my ass from Jackson and let me puke on your shoes and you still can't call me Jim?"
"I am fine, thank you Jim." Spock said.
Jim's smile twitched wider. "There you go. Hey, you wanna grab a coffee? I'm trying to go incognito here, but the press have camped out in front of the dorms and taken over the cafeteria."
The very idea that Jim could pass by without attracting attention was frankly absurd. The human was a supernova in the centre of space – quite literally impossible to overlook.
Still, Spock followed Jim's lead and found himself in the same spot he shared with Nyota, another tea in his hands while Jim drank from an alarmingly large mug of black coffee.
"I do not believe consuming that much stimulant in one go is healthy." Spock frowned.
Jim shrugged his shoulders. "Yeah, that's what Bones says. Doesn't stop him from drinking ten cups a day. Besides, it's this or one of those shitty energy drinks and those things make me pee florescent. Last time it was blue. Piss should not be blue, man. Unless you're Andorian, but even then I doubt it glows in the dark."
"Are you not getting sufficient rest?" Spock found himself concerned and overlooking Jim's babble. Humans needed a great deal of time for sleep and they tended to suffer dramatically when denied it.
"I'm sleeping just great." Jim promised with a slight roll of his eyes that Spock had come to recognize from all Kirk's interactions with a concerned Doctor McCoy. "Now, answer the question. How are you?"
"As I said, I am -"
"You said 'fine'." Jim interrupted him. "Which means fuck all, according to you."
Being pinned with those sharp, knowing eyes was terribly uncomfortable. "Indeed." Spock said. "Then I am as well as can be expected, given the circumstances."
"I bet." Jim said, his eyes going soft with compassion. "Look, I know we aren't exactly buddies, but if you need anything, or want to talk, whatever..." The offer hung between them in a silence that threatened to become uncomfortable. Spock took it as intended, however and thanked Jim.
"I understand that Lieutenant Uhura has accepted your offer." Spock changed the subject with poor deflection but was pleased when Jim allowed it.
"Yep. We're almost there." Satisfaction settled over Jim's features, along with a surprising calmness.
"You have selected a First Officer?" Spock inquired, curious.
"Not yet." Jim said. "Archer and Barnett can't seem to decide who they want to inflict me on - I think they are routing through their shit list for someone that pisses them off as much as I do."
"I doubt that is a long list."
"See, I knew you had a sense of humor." Jim chuckled.
"I was merely making an observation."
"Sure." Jim drained the dregs of his coffee. Spock did not order him a second as he had Nyota for fear of him overdosing on caffeine.
He finished his own drink, and they both stood. "Thank you for your company."
"Any time." Jim smiled. It was disconcerting, being on the receiving end of so many of them. "Look, I just wanted to-"
Whatever Jim wanted to say was cut off by someone loudly calling his name.
"Captain Kirk! Captain Kirk!" A mask of professionalism slid over Jim's face and the smile vanished. He turned as the shouting continued, "Kirk! Damnit, Jimmy!"
The man leaning in the door of the cafe was a Starfleet Officer. He had served in the Stellar Cartography Department and shared a dorm with Ensign Chekov. Riley, Kevin, Spock's memory provided. He clutched at the frame of the door, breathing heavily.
Jim cocked his head curiously before the color suddenly leached from his face. "Kevin?"
A handful of years younger than Jim, Kevin Riley could not hide his emotions as Jim's recognition suddenly spurred him into movement. He launched himself across the space between them and caught Jim in a bone jarring embrace.
Jim recovered rapidly and returned the affection being shown to him. His arms wrapped around Riley's back and he buried his face against the neat, dark hair under his cheek. "What-?"
He sounded stunned and refused to release Kevin's arms, even when they placed some distance between themselves.
"I knew it was you!" Riley beamed at him, a sheen of tears in his green eyes. "I knew it as soon as I heard your voice." Kirk's mouth opened and closed. "I knew it."
"I...Kevin?" Jim's inability to complete a sentence was startling. He was almost as eloquent as Nyota.
"I can't believe it. God Jimmy, you look amazing! I've been trying to get in contact with you for days now but I swear they have you locked up tighter than a Deltan Priestess' Virginity. I can't believe you enlisted. And you were there the whole time. Tommy swore I was imagining things but I knew it was you."
The boy was babbling, his words tripping over themselves in their haste to be expressed, while Jim continued to stare at him, completely dumbfounded. He suddenly jerked and pulled Kevin closer. "Tommy's here?"
Kevin frowned. "Of course he is!"
And then to Spock's shock, tears began to roll silently down Jim's cheeks.
There was no dramatic outburst, no shuddering breaths, just steady tears. Spock, who was not best skilled at dealing with outcries of human emotions at the best of times, was horrified when Kevin followed suit, leaving him with two distraught humans in a very public location.
Both ignored him completely when he suggested they seek a more private venue so instead he placed a hand on Jim's back and gently propelled him back into the bowls of the coffee shop. As Jim seemed reluctant to release Kevin, they both ended up in the shadow of a booth, and Spock managed to block most of the world from their sight with his own body.
He then commed McCoy. This was beyond his area of expertise. It was only logical to call in a specialist. McCoy was both the most emotional man Spock knew, and also the foremost authority on James Kirk.
The doctor started to swear before remembering his daughter's presence, abruptly transforming his words into ludicrous metaphors that made absolutely no sense and had little context. He ended the call with a promise to make all haste.
By the time Spock was done, Jim had his arms back around Kevin and was clinging on for dear life. It took Spock's superior hearing to catch the words being muttered into the collar of Kevin's shirt. "I'm sorry. I thought...I should have tried harder. I should have..."
"Done what?" Kevin asked, sounding older than Jim in that moment. "You saved us. What else were you supposed to do?"
"I should have looked after you guys."
"Looked after...Christ, Jimmy!" Kevin looked anguished. "They let us see you, after we were picked up. We all thought you were going do die, you were so sick. We thought..." he shook his head and clutched ay Jim's back. "They said you needed to be left alone, to heal. To get better. After what he did to you... we just wanted you to be okay."
"I'm okay," Jim said, his voice small.
"Yeah." Kevin grinned. "Saving the world again." He shook his head ruefully. "I swear, when your voice come over the comms during that whole Narada mess, I thought I was hallucinating."
That drew Jim up short with a look of horror. "Wait. Wait, you were on board?"
"Sure." Kevin said easily. "Me and Tommy both."
"Oh Jesus Christ." Jim said faintly. Spock quickly pushed him down into the booth. Jim blinked up at him in shock. "Aw hell, sorry Spock. Kevin Riley, this is Spock, Spock, Kevin Riley."
Spock inclined his head. "We have met, Jim."
"You have?" Jim looked confused.
"Commander Spock oversaw all the departments after we docked." Kevin said, nodding respectfully at Spock.
"Well I fail as a Captain." Jim muttered darkly. He ordered another extra large coffee from the barista, a tea for Spock and on Kevin's word, a flat white coffee.
"You were otherwise engaged." Spock said dryly, accepting the tea.
Jim glared up at him, already halfway into his coffee. "Not really the point." He said.
Kevin looked at Spock with exasperation before nudging Jim's shoulder. "Did you really get arrested?" He asked, taking a seat next to Jim and fiddling with the unopened sugar packet on the saucer.
"Does everyone know about that?"
"Section 31 operates in complete secrecy." Spock said, "So naturally the entire ship is aware of what happened."
Jim snorted and rolled his eyes. He muttered something about a warped Vulcan sense of humor just as McCoy stormed into the cafe, his daughter on his hip.
"We all wanted to march on Starfleet Intelligence." Kevin grinned. "Mr Scott had some pretty good ideas of how to spring you if more legitimate attempts failed."
"Thank god you didn't. Archer would have strung me up. One mutiny a mission is enough I think." Jim looked perturbed by the very idea. He automatically held out his arms and compensated for the child that launched herself at him, small arms wrapping around his neck. She touched the dried tear tracks on his cheek and her lip wobbled.
"Are you alright Uncle Jim?" she asked, reflecting her father's compassion in a way that was far more endearing.
Jim turned his best, brightest smile on her. "I'm peaches and cream, Joanna Banana. I thought your daddy was taking you to the zoo?" He said that pointedly to McCoy, who didn't look the least bit apologetic.
"The hobgoblin called me." He said, glancing curiously at Spock.
"What's a hobgoblin?" Joanna asked innocently.
"Your daddy is being mean to Mr Spock." Jim said, winking at Spock. Jo turned reproachful eyes on her father as McCoy spluttered.
Instead of answering the question in his daughter's face, McCoy looked at Kevin and frowned. "Who are you?" He asked rudely.
Kevin stood. "Kevin Riley." He held out his hand, which McCoy shook, more out of a habit for the standard human social interactions than any desire to be polite, Spock suspected.
"You're the Ensign that's been comming me night and day."
"What?" Jim frowned up at his friend. "Bones, you never said."
"Said what? Half the Federation is comming me on a daily basis. You'd know if you actually turned yours on for longer than five minutes." Jim cringed at the hit.
"I thought we already established that I suck at comms.?" Jim said with a sheepish smile. He turned to Kevin. "Why didn't you just hunt me down?"
"I did!" Kevin said exasperatedly. "See, this is me hunting you down."
"We've been dirtside for three days!"
"An you've been playing hide and seek with half the Federation's media ever since you were released from Medical." McCoy said dryly.
"Uncle Jim's the best at Hide and Seek." Joanna grinned at Spock as if letting him in on a secret only the two of them shared.
"Don't I know it." Both Kevin and McCoy muttered together. Jim's eyes widened in alarm.
"Why do I get the feeling that you two knowing each other is going to be bad for my sanity?"
McCoy looked Kevin up and down with a critical eye. "Ensign, right?"
"Yes sir?" Kevin frowned, that fact having been established already.
"Keep up to date with your inoculations?"
Joanna giggled. Jim poked her teasingly in the ribs in retaliation and the giggles turned wild.
"To the best of my knowledge." Said Kevin.
"How do you feel about quarterly physicals?"
"Uncomfortable but necessary?"
"Teacher's pet." Jim muttered, scowling at Kevin in a manner Spock suspected was not genuine.
"Quite Jimmy." McCoy and Kevin glared at him.
Jim turned to Spock. "Can I come with you? Please?"
There were hundreds of ways Spock could have put him down with a dry, subtle cut. Words formed on his tongue but were lost as Jim fixed him with a look of mild panic, eyes wide and bluer than a summer's sky.
So instead, he simply quirked an eyebrow. It was all the answer he needed to give.
Leaving Jim to flounder until Joanna McCoy patted him consolingly on the shoulder. "Don't worry, Uncle Jim," she said seriously. "I'll protect you."
The sound Jim made was suspiciously like a whimper. If Spock were a man prone to smiling, this would have been the time he would have done so.
He stood, inclined his head and left Jim with an amused Kevin Riley on one side, a stern McCoy on the other, and a giggling child on his lap.
There were many of the Admiralty who would, Spock thought, pay a considerable sum to see what he was seeing.
That thought alone brought him great satisfaction for the rest of the day.
The following weeks were a parade of pomp and ceremony. There were memorials held for both the Fleet members who were killed and Vulcan. Spock was in the unique position of having to attend them all for proprietary sake if nothing else. Jim Kirk attended almost as many, dragged out in front of the watching worlds as a symbol of Earth's heroism and a blazing icon of Starfleet's brightest new hopes. He played the dutiful soldier to perfection. Smiling when they told him to smile, radiating strength and compassion at every moment.
Spock found himself seeking Jim's presence at every event, relishing the balm he was to frayed Vulcan nerves, and missing him desperately when he was not in attendance.
He began showing up far less frequently, occupied, McCoy said with annoyance and irrational anger, with 'Captain Shit 101'.
Kirk had been a brilliant cadet and a promising future Fleet Captain. His classmates all agreed that the promotion was only inevitable, and his academic record reflected his suitability for the position. He had been Captain of Delta Team, the Advanced Tactical Training program that accepted only the very best of the Command Corps. That had been as a first year cadet - a feat rare in a program where over fifty percent of those enrolled failed to even complete. Delta Team had been victorious following brilliant performances against their rivals, and Kirk had been a popular and well-respected leader among his peers.
Even the upper echelons of the Academy had been invested in Kirk's future career - he had had been a favorite for rapid promotion as soon as the first of his assessments began to accumulate.
It had always been a matter of when, not if, Kirk would one day captain his own ship.
He was well trained and possessed more accumulated sim. training hours than any other senior cadet. He loved what he did with a passion that was blinding.
What he lacked was the years of postings in real situations. Even as a fast track officer, he would have served on multiple ships, in many different positions, before being made Captain. The youngest in the Fleet had been thirty-three. Many had expected Jim to beat that by a year at least.
But Captain at twenty-five was setting a whole new precedent. One that needed careful handling.
So Jim had vanished into an intense two months of off world training while The Enterprise had been undergoing repairs. His time on Earth grew less and less frequent as he was subjected to every training scheme and mentorship the Admiralty could think of in the hope of imparting years of knowledge into a few short weeks.
Few doubted Jim's ability to retain all he was learning.
Almost three weeks after last seeing Jim at an Admiralty press conference, and only an hour after he officially received his commission and command of The Enterprise, Spock found himself. So to speak.
His encounter with his elderly self had been momentarily shocking but greatly enlightening.
He had taken refuge in one of the observation decks at the Academy, a long standing favorite place to seek silence and peace while a cadet, and a place he had shared many enjoyable hours with Nyota.
It was empty as was usual for such a late hour, and Spock spent the night in quiet thought, his eyes on the stars.
The following morning, with only a word to Admiral Pike, Spock stepped onto the bridge of the Enterprise.
Jim accepted him into his crew with the same warmth Spock had come to associate with him, and settling into the Science Station felt like the most natural action he could ever perform.
And as they vanished into the depths of the unknown, Sulu at the Helm and Chekov beside him, nose deep in equations; Nyota tapped away at her station, unable to hide her smile, and Doctor McCoy paced, a half smile touching his lips when he believed no one was looking. Mr Scott appeared shortly after their departure, Ensign Riley at his side, while Mr Guiotto spoke quietly to Ensign Leighton as the two planned how protect their new ship from the whims of a captain who easily got boredom.
Surveying it all, radiating happiness like a small sun, Jim Kirk appeared by Spock's side. "Welcome home, Mr Spock." He said quietly, eyes on his crew. He meant every word: this was Jim's home - quite possibly the first home he had ever had. And he wanted it to be Spock's also.
Spock would spend the next five years with this man. He would, he calculated, be equally awed and exasperated by him. The anticipation was a rush he had never expected.
"Indeed, Captain." He said.
Jim hit the comm. "This is Captain James Kirk. Many of you know me as 'moron', 'asshole' 'or that bastard who slept with my insert appropriate lifeform here'. Catch me on a good day and we're not on duty, I may still answer to them all..." Nyota snorted and rolled her eyes.
"Oh for the love of..." McCoy threw his hands in the air dramatically.
Jim winked at him then turned serious. "Every single person on this ship is here for a reason - it is because you are the best at what you do. Those of you who were at the Academy with me will know that I will know that I am going to demand better. I want everything you've got, and in return, I will give you everything I am. The next five years are going to challenge us in ways we can't possibly imagine. It is my belief that we can meet each and every one of those challenges and kick them in their collective asses so long as we remember who we are and why we are here. It will be my honor to serve with each of you and I will do everything in my power to do you all proud. Kirk out."
There was a collective silence on the bridge. Kirk turned, eyes wide and hesitant. "What? Wait, Bones...are you crying?"
McCoy's growl was subhuman. A perfect match for the way Kirk's mouth stretched into an impossibly wide smile.
"I think he is just shocked to see you masquerading as a responsible adult." Nyota said, tagging a cheeky 'Captain,' onto the end of her sentence.
"I wouldn't go that far." Kirk shuddered. He dropped down into the Captain's chair with a boyish grin and clap of his hands. "Right then, lets go find some fun."
"I do not believe the pursuit of pleasurable recreation is the aim of this specific mission, Captain." Spock informed the human.
"I'm reading between the lines, Mr Spock." Jim beamed at him.
Kirk turned his head. "Hey Scotty?"
"Let's stretch our girl's legs."
A slightly deranged cackle of laughter echoed away as Scott returned to Engineering, a perfect match to Jim's expression.
Spock turned his attention to his station. Assuming they all survived their captain, this would be a most fascinating five years.