Jim can't believe they made it.
Five years. Five years of obstacles, wayward missions, and proving Starfleet that yes, they're young, but they get shit done. Five years out among the stars, five years of doing the things they love with the people they've come to love. Five years of family, of heartbreak and death, of experiencing the worst kind of pain and a joy that's more than worth it in the end. Five years of supporting each other and becoming stronger because of it.
These have been the best five years of James T. Kirk's life.
He tells everyone aboard the Enterprise this the day before they dock on earth. His voice carries throug the intercom with pride of his crew and their loyalty to him and this ship, because without them he wouldn't be even a quarter of the man he is today.
Dinner is a memorable event, and Jim feels as if he's on top of the world as he enjoys the company of his friends. Sulu's going to be a badass captain one day and Jim doesn't doubt for a second that Chekov will be his more than capable first officer. The kid is finally growing up, Jim notes, but as he watches as the Russian laugh so hard that milk comes flying out of his nose Jim realizes that he'll always think of Chekov as the baby of their group. A scary smart baby with an unquenchable thirst for vodka, but Jim can overlook that.
Uhura hands Chekov a napkin, smiling gently at him. She catches Jim's eye and winks.
Honestly, Jim is still a little afraid of Uhura. And he can't be blamed for that, not really.
That woman can be terrifying if need be.
That night Jim stands alone on the observation deck, staring out at the stars. He's always had a fascination with them, ever since he was little. On the bad nights, when his mom was gone and Frank loomed around every corner, he used to look up at the stars. For those small, fleeting moments, it was just him and the stars. No Frank, no worries, and no limitations. When he first became captain he had a small fear that they would lose their allure because of how long he would be among them. If anything, he became more enamored with them. They represented the vastness of the universe, how small his life really was in the grand scheme of things. They represented hope. Freedom.
"Knew I'd find you here."
Jim's favorite southern drawl breaks the reflective silence he had immersed himself in. Bones comes to stand beside him and they both gaze at the glittering flecks before them.
"You know, I thought I would have died by now," Jim says conversationally. He glances at Bones, a small smirk quirking his lips. The doctor rolls his eyes.
"You almost did. More times then I can count."
Jim chuckles softly, lost in memories. Of course, some are more pleasant than others.
"Hey, remember the time I switched Spock's shampoo with pink hair dye?"
Bones snorts. "How could I forget? I was the one to patch you up after your 'sparring' match." Jim shrugs, smiling at the memory. Good times.
"I think he was trying to cover up the fact that he secretly loved the color. You won't believe how hard it was to find that shade."
"I am sure you found it worth the trouble, nonetheless," Spock's cool voice cuts in. Jim turns and beams.
"Spock! Glad you could make it to the party!"
The Vulcan comes to a stop at Jim's right side.
"Indeed." He nods at McCoy. "Doctor."
"Leonard, it has been five years. Normally I would assume that a being with your intelligence would realize that I am not a hobgoblin, but obviously I stand corrected."
"Hey, that sounded like a compliment!" Jim chimes in.
"I wouldn't count on it," Bones says flatly.
Jim is smiling so hard his face is starting hurt.
"Guys, we made it."
The trio watches the stars pass in companionable silence. A sudden and drawn out yawn has both Jim and Spock staring at Bones, and the doctor would be okay with this if they both didn't have an eyebrow raised.
Well I'll be damned. Took him five years but he finally did it, McCoy thinks.
"Not as young as I used to be," he says instead. "I'll see you tomorrow." He exits with a pat to Jim's shoulder and a nod to Spock, who both remain. The finality of this moment sinks over them like a heavy fog.
"We really made it," Jim repeats softly.
"Yes, we have."
The captain sighs. Then he begins to fidget. Spock studies him from the corner of his eye.
"Is there something on your mind, Jim?"
Of course Spock knows by now that Jim is not being entirely truthful. He resolves to wait.
"You know, we're both still young, right?" Jim blurts, turning to face Spock, his expression earnest. "And I'm nowhere close to being done and neither are you, right?"
"That is correct."
"So it's only logical that we get another assignment after a very long and very awesome leave. And I was wondering if, you know, if you wanted to…"
The blond stops babbling and huffs. Spock's eyes are warm as he takes in Jim's frustrated expression.
"I would be honored to once again serve as your first officer."
Jim releases a rush of air and then smiles, clearly embarrassed.
"Jeez, it's not like I was asking you to marry me. I just…I know we've become close over the years, but I thought you might want to…I don't know, branch out a little. I wouldn't hold it against you if you wanted to switch things up. Hell, you'd make a great captain! I just want you be happy." Jim's words are sincere, and it reinforces Spock's beliefs that much more.
"Jim, over the years we have grown accustomed to one another to the point where we are able to finish each other's train of thought quite easily. We have seen each other at our worst and at our best. Serving under a new captain would be akin to losing an eye and frankly, I believe it would be detrimental to your health if I were not there to 'cover your ass', as you would say."
Jim's eyes have gone as wide as saucers as he stares at Spock. He reacts in a typical Jim Kirk fashion.
He glomps his first officer.
It's a testament to how far they've come as comrades when Spock doesn't stiffen or try to pull away. However, he does look skyward as he releases a small huff of breath that basically equates to a sigh.
When Jim finally pulls away Spock relaxes. Jim stands there for a moment, simply staring with wet eyes. For a brief, horrifying second, Spock thinks that he might be hugged (assaluted) again. Instead Jim sniffs.
"Aw shit," he mumbles. "I promised I wouldn't cry. Why'd you have to go and say that, Spock…?" He wipes his arm across his face. "God, I can't believe it's all over. But we'll be back out here in no time, right?"
"You know, I thought we'd never be friends and look at us now. We're practically bffs!" He lowers his voice. "Don't tell Bones, though. He gets jealous sometimes, the grumpy old man." Jim flashes a grin at Spock and is momentarily taken aback at the alarmingly borderline affectionate expression on the Vulcan's face. It's gone almost immediately, but the warmth still lingers in his dark eyes. His next words are ones Jim will cherish for the rest of his life.
"I have been, and always shall be your friend, Jim."
Yeah. Best five years ever.
The end! :D
I want to thank everyone who supported this story. You are all amazing and I would bake you yummy treats and deliver them to you if I could. But alas, all I have are my sincere thanks!
So. Until next time. :)