"Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed." ― G.K. Chesterton
Jim drove quickly and directly to the address Nyota had given him. He suppressed the flinch as he drove by the dilapidated buildings, the abandoned apartments. He knew he was in no position to judge the choices Spock was forced to make. That did not lessen the regret that he felt, regret he knew was completely useless.
Jim pulled the Ferrari into a space in front of the building matching the address on the slip of paper. When he left the car, he looked up at the tiny balconies that appeared to be barely hanging onto the side of the building. He could see Spock leaning over the railing of the one on the fourth floor.
"Can you see Vulcan from there?" Jim asked. At first, Spock's only response was a surprised look on his face, the expression overtaking all of his Vulcan reserve.
"What are you doing here?" Spock finally called down.
"I have come in my royal carriage to sweep you off your feet and take you to the castle where you belong," Jim said, his arms spread wide.
"You talked to Nyota," Spock said.
"Your fairy godmother?" Jim said with a smile. "I am going to scale your wall. Don't call your archers or pour scalding oil down on me."
"I promise," Spock said, going to the side of the building with the fire escape clinging to the balcony railings. Jim jumped up for the first rung of the ladder, pulling it down so that he could climb up. It didn't take long for him to reach Spock's balcony, gracefully climbing over smile at Spock.
"Hi," Jim said, wishing he could be more eloquent but he couldn't think of anything else to say. He'd been so worried that Spock wouldn't be at his apartment or that he wouldn't talk to him or that Spock would tell him to leave and never come back. But none of that happened so here he stood. With nothing to say.
"Is there something you intend to tell me?" Spock asked studying him.
Jim shook his head taking a step closer.
"No?" Spock asked, waiting as Jim advanced toward him.
"Talking isn't what I have in mind," Jim told him. With that, he leaned forward and kissed Spock. Kissed him directly on the mouth, something he had longed to do. And now he was. Kissing him. Licking his soft lips. Entering his mouth when Spock opened to him. Tasting Spock, tasting Vulcan spice tea and apples and regret. Not only was he kissing Spock but Spock was kissing him back. That was Spock's tongue greeting his, running over his teeth, nibbling delicately on his bottom lip.
"Oh God," Jim whispered. "This is even better than I thought it would be."
"You had considered it?" Spock asked, kissing him again before Jim could answer.
"Practically from the first day," Jim said when he could breathe. "This is so much better. Because now I'm sure."
"Sure?" Spock asked, leaning his forehead against Jim's so that they were inhaling the same air.
"That I never want you to leave. Or that I don't want to leave you. That I want you to come with me to Virginia."
Spock straightened, looking into Jim's eyes. "You cannot mean it."
"I do, Spock. I want to introduce you to Bones and Joanna. I hope you like horses," Jim said with a laugh.
"And after that?" Spock asked.
"After what?" Jim responded, wondering what was making Spock hesitate.
"Am I to be left on my own in a new state where I know no one?"
"What? No, no. You aren't listening," Jim said, shaking his head. "I want you to come with me. To Virginia. Permanently."
"And what will I do?" Spock asked. "Sit in your house and wait for you to come home from work?"
"You'll do whatever you want. I'm hoping it will include going to University of Virginia and study astronomy. Or art. Or…I don't know. Whatever you want to study."
"How do you imagine I will pay for college? I doubt you would approve of me engaging in my current profession in your hometown."
"Why are you being so stubborn?" Jim demanded. "I want to marry you. So why wouldn't I pay…."
"Wait," Spock said, holding up one hand. "What did you say?"
"I know you heard me. You are being intentionally stubborn. If you don't want to come to Virginia, then I'm sorry I bothered you," Jim said, anger making his eyes a fiery blue.
Spock shook his head, reaching out to lay one finger over Jim's lips, lips he wished he was still kissing. "You want to marry me?"
"Of course," Jim said, confused by the question. "Isn't that what I've just been saying?"
Spock stared at Jim, a faint green tint rising over his cheeks and coloring the tips of his ears. "You want to marry me."
"Stop saying that," Jim requested, laughing. "Maybe I did this wrong. I couldn't find your glass slipper. But I thought we could agree on the 'happy ever after' part."
"We did. We do," Spock said in a much lighter tone. He sealed the words with a kiss, savoring the feel of Jim and the taste of Jim and the fact of Jim. "Yes."
"You accept," Jim said with a smile.
"Even though you failed to actually ask, I do accept," Spock said, kissing him again.
"Okay. Good. Can you come with me tomorrow? Is there anything you need to pack up?" Jim asked, peering into the open door to Spock's apartment.
"I must terminate my lease. And turn off my utilities. Other than those details, I have no attachment to this apartment or its contents."
"Would you be offended if I said Santiago could take care of all that? You won't have to deal with it."
Spock shook his head. "It's going to be like this with you, isn't it?"
"That depends on what you mean," Jim said, trying to sound all innocent.
"You are a force of nature. I knew that from the beginning. Santiago is welcome to deal with the details, if that is your preference."
"It is," Jim said with a bright smile. "Okay. Can we go out and celebrate our engagement?"
"I prefer we return to the hotel and have a private celebration," Spock whispered into Jim's ear, the promise as exciting as it was welcome.
"Yes," Jim agreed, kissing Spock. "Should we climb down the fire escape or go down like regular people?"
"You are many things. 'Regular' is not one of them," Spock told him, taking his hand and leading him through the tiny, tidy apartment and out its front door. They went down the 'regular' steps, leaving the dimly lit hallway for the brighter sidewalk. Jim automatically handed Spock the keys before entering the passenger side of the car.
"Should I buy you a Ferrari as your wedding gift?" Jim teased with a bright smile.
"You can buy it when I graduate from University," Spock said, glancing over at him.
"Done," Jim agreed. "Astronomy?"
"I hope so. Perhaps I can earn my Masters as well."
"And your PhD. You never have to leave school again if you don't want to," Jim told him happily. He reached over, entwining his fingers with Spock's free hand.
"I may take advantage of that offer," Spock said as he drove back to the hotel.
"Fine by me," Jim said smiling at Spock like he would never stop.
The black Range Rover stopped in front of the house, smaller than Spock had expected. Not that it didn't look big enough to accommodate Jim, his business partner and his daughter. Each side was two stories with a one story section connecting the two. It was a lovely house even if it did look a little odd. The white paint and cheerful blue shutters were pristine and the roses lining both sections of the house were healthy and beautiful.
"Well?" Jim asked when he had rounded the car to stand beside Spock to look up at the house.
"I thought it would be …bigger," Spock admitted, glancing at Jim to make sure he wasn't angered by those words.
"It's not huge. But it's big enough for us. Even for her," he said with a wide smile when the front door on the left flew open to allow a brown-haired whirlwind run over to him.
"J-daddy! J-daddy!" she yelled in excitement, launching herself at him. He caught her effortlessly, hugging her to his body. "You finally came home. Why were you gone for so long? Don't go for so long next time. What'd you bring me? Are you having lunch with us? I have to show you my new Barbie dresses. They're beautiful."
Spock thought she would have kept talking into the next day if the man who had leisurely followed her out of the house hadn't put his hand on her head.
"Darlin', take breath," he said with a fatherly smile. "Jim's not goin' anywhere for a while."
"But he was gone forever," Joanna protested, hugging Jim even tighter.
"I'm sorry, Princess," Jim said, kissing her head. "Joanna, I'd like you to meet Spock. Spock, this is Joanna. And her father, Dr. Leonard McCoy."
"It is good to make your acquaintance, sir," Spock said with a nod, enjoying the way the doctor's eyes crinkled when he smiled.
"None of that 'sir' business. Not with us practically family," Leonard said, shaking his head. "Do you think we can let Jim and Spock come inside, Jo-jo?"
"Okay. But they have to come in our house. They have to eat with us. Because J-daddy's was away way too long," she reminded them.
"Maybe they want to eat in Jim's house," Leonard suggested with a laugh.
"Nope," Joanna said. "Daddy's already made meatloaf. And there's a big salad. And something green and orange. I don't like the way it tastes but Daddy said you'll like it, Spock. 'Cause it's a Vulcan dish."
"Thank you," Spock said in surprise as he followed them into the left-side house. "That was unnecessary."
"You weren't goin' eat the meatloaf," McCoy said with a shrug, closing his front door. They were in the small foyer with a gleaming hardwood floor and a raised ceiling with a modest chandelier shining above their heads. The walls were painted a deep red which could have been overwhelming but the natural light that flooded in brightened it to make it look like the sunset had been bottled and made into paint.
Jim automatically followed Leonard through the foyer and into a hallway that took them to the kitchen. The kitchen was practically the entire length of the house, and included a sturdy table in the bay windows that overlooked the huge backyard with green rolling pastures beyond the back porch.
Leonard was putting the food in serving dishes as Jim was informed in minute detail by Joanna on everything he had missed in her life while he had dared be in California.
"What may I do to help?" Spock asked politely, unsure what to do with himself.
"Can you get the glasses out of that cabinet?" Leonard requested, nodding to a set of glass fronted cabinet doors over his head and to the left. "Then if you'll get the ice from the fridge. There's ice tea for us and Pepsi for Jim. Top shelf. That water is cold so if you prefer it room temp, we have a well. The tap water tastes like water, at least to us."
Spock followed the instructions as he marveled at how Leonard and Joanna seemed to take his presence almost for granted. It was a nice feeling, like he really did belong here, something he still had his doubts about.
When all of the food was on the table and the drinks in place, Spock sat next to Jim, Joanna on Jim's other side even though she would have preferred to sit on him rather than next to him. Leonard sat between Spock and Joanna, watching everything with warm knowing eyes.
"So you're goin' to enroll at the University?" Dr. McCoy asked Spock when Joanna was once again monopolizing Jim to herself.
"I hope to," Spock said.
"Shouldn't be a problem. Will you start before or after you and Jim get married?"
"Married?" Joanna squealed. "J-daddy! You're getting married and you didn't tell me?"
"There was hardly time, Princess. And yes, Spock and I are getting married. Do you think you'd be willing to be our flower girl?"
"Oh boy," Joanna said happily. "When? When are you gettin' married? Soon? Right away? What color dress am I wearin'? Where are you gettin' married? Here?"
"We haven't gotten that far yet," Jim said with a smile. "We just know we want to get married. The other details have to be worked out."
"I'll help," she said. "And so will Gaila. Won't she, Daddy? Gaila will help, huh?"
"I'm sure she will," Leonard had to agree. "I know you want a quiet ceremony but I don't know if that will be possible."
Jim looked at Spock who gazed back. It would have to be as it had to be. "You don't think we can keep it just family?"
"Not in this lifetime. Press gets wind of it and you'll be on the cover of all the tabloids. Unless you elope but I know you won't do that to Jo," Leonard said.
"Oh Lord," Jim said, shaking his head. "I have no desire for it to become a circus. Seriously. Can't we keep it low-key?"
"Doubt it," Leonard said. "Not without the help of the National Guard."
"I'm sorry," Jim said to Spock.
"You are a person of international renown. It is understandable that your marriage would be of interest to the public," Spock told him philosophically.
"It's a gigantic pain in the… butt," Jim declared.
"Yeah. It's terrible having to be you," Leonard said with absolutely no sympathy at all.
"You are so right about that," Jim said, turning his focus back on Joanna who insisted on knowing every detail of the wedding that was not yet in the beginning stages of being planned.
Bones shook his head with fatherly affection before turning his full attention back on Spock. "You look like a Vulcan with much on your mind," he said with a knowing smile.
Spock glanced down at the delicacies the doctor had fixed just for him, a meal he very much appreciated. His lack of appetite was not created by the food available to him. "If the press takes an interest in the wedding, they will undoubtedly discover how we really met."
"Okay," Leonard said.
"It will not reflect well on Jim when the truth surfaces," Spock said in a quiet voice.
"And you suppose he cares?" Leonard said with a smile. "He's desperately in love with you. Which I'm pretty sure is equal to how you feel about him, Vulcan reserve aside. Do you think it will matter one iota to him what anyone thinks about how you met? He owns half our company. He can't be fired. We have a stake in too many companies for it to affect our bottom line."
"It is still a concern to me," Spock admitted.
"Did you ask Jim how he'd feel when the press gets ahold of the story?" Bones asked gently.
"He responded that you have an entire press pool whose sole job is to handle those sorts of inquiries."
"Precisely. You will probably be battered by all the attention at first. I'm sorry for that but you know Jim and I will protect you as well as we can. Once the initial bombardment dies down, their attention will turn to the latest scandal by some Hollywood starlet who gets married and divorced in the span of a week and a half."
"Yes," Spock agreed with a nod. "It is all very…."
"Overwhelming?" McCoy supplied gently.
"I believe that is an appropriate description," Spock said, glancing down at Jim to find him studying Spock with a warm smile. If Spock had had any doubts that marrying Jim was the right decision, that smile right there erased them.
"See," Leonard said with a knowing smile. "There's your answer."
"Indeed," Spock had to agree.
"You haven't bonded yet, right?"
"Not as of yet. The change in our relationship has occurred somewhat suddenly."
"I get that," Leonard said. "It will help once you are. He can help shield you from some of the madness of it all."
Spock nodded, not quite knowing what else to say. In truth, there had been no discussion of the Vulcan bonding. Spock supposed that they would be bonded but had no idea if that was also Jim's desire. There were many questions they had yet to resolve between them.
"Thank you for lunch, Bones. Princess Joanna," Jim said with a beautiful bow. "We are going to retire to our side of the castle. Will you be joining us for breakfast in the morning?"
Joanna clapped happily at the idea, hugging Jim before letting him leave. He laughed at her, finally untangling her arms and taking Spock's hand in his to lead him through the back hallway and across the common area. It was not huge but was finely decorated from Spock could see from the passage way. He saw the living room at the front of the house which seemed a lovely place to sit and chat.
Jim kept going, leading Spock into his side of the house, the kitchen and dining room arranged like the doctor's except in reverse. Spock didn't have time to study much else about the kitchen when Jim kept hold of his hand to take him upstairs.
"This is our bedroom," Jim announced, throwing open a door that revealed a large, comfortable room with a gigantic four poster bed. It was covered with a maroon coverlet and what seemed to be several hundred pillows although Spock doubted that count was accurate. The room was also furnished with a mahogany dresser and matching chest of drawers.
"This is lovely," Spock said in admiration. He automatically followed Jim to the French doors across from the bed, waiting as he opened them to go out onto a small balcony that overlooked the backyard and pastures.
"This is one of my favorite places to sit," Jim said, settling in the cozy wicker loveseat and patting the bright blue cushion in invitation.
"I can understand that," Spock said, sitting easily next to him.
"What do you think of Bones and Joanna?" Jim asked, as he turned to study Spock with a sparkle in his eyes.
"Dr. McCoy is very welcoming. Joanna is a bundle of life," Spock said.
"That's for sure," Jim laughed. "She can't wait to be our flower girl."
"She will be beautiful," Spock said. "When are we getting married?"
"That depends," Jim said, considering it. "Will your mom come?"
Spock considered that question, turning it over in his mind. "I do not know," he finally said. "I would like to say yes. However…."
Jim nodded. "I'm sorry. I know it doesn't help. But I really am."
"As am I," Spock agreed. "I will contact her and request that she and my father attend. I cannot anticipate what the response will be."
"If they can, or will come, we'll get married as soon as they make arrangements. If they don't come, we can get married almost right away. Not like we have to order a wedding dress," Jim laughed.
"There are still multiple details which must be handled," Spock reminded him.
"Yeah. I've been thinking about that," Jim said, looking over at Spock. "I was thinking of calling Nyota Uhura and seeing if she'll come plan it for us."
"While I do not doubt she would be an excellent choice, what of her job?"
Jim waved that away. "I'll hire her for the company. She'd be great in the marketing department. Or in the events department. Really. Wherever she wants to work."
Spock shook his head, watching Jim as he made his decision about Uhura's future. "Just like that? You will ask her to move from California to Virginia? Give her a new job?"
"I checked," Jim admitted. "She doesn't have family in California. She isn't married. I'm pretty sure she isn't dating anyone. What's to keep her there? She doesn't need to be at the beck and call of snotty hotel patrons."
"Just yours," Spock said with a gleam in his eye.
"Are you insulting me?" Jim laughed.
"As I said. You are a force of nature," Spock said, leaning closer to kiss Jim and receiving Jim's kiss in return. "Will you bond with me?" Spock whispered, the words brushing across Jim's lips.
"Yes. Please," Jim agreed, kissing him harder to seal the promise. "When? Soon?"
"Whenever you wish. Before we marry. Afterwards."
"Now? Can we bond now?"
Spock nodded, kissing Jim again. "Now is good."
And they lived happily ever after.
A/N: 2 things - I'm sorry this has taken me so long to update. And #2 even though it says "they live happily ever after" I am planning to write an epilogue. There are loose ends to be tied up. I hope that chapter will be sooner than later. Thanks for your patience!