Spock was lost in thought, slowly picking plet-it'as from the small orchard behind his and Jim's home. He idly contemplated one of the spiky neon pink fruits and placed it gingerly in the basket resting at his feet, only to have their farm's sehlat, E'Tevas, pluck it from the basket and bound away, immensely pleased with himself.

"Cease stealing my fruit," Spock yelled half-heartedly after the young animal, "or you will sleep in the barn tonight."

"Aw, he just wants to play," came a voice from the back of the house, and Spock spun, the smallest of smiles gracing his face.

"You have returned early," he exclaimed, and Jim grinned at him for a second before stepping over the herb garden and sweeping Spock up in a tight embrace. They kissed their hellos, and eventually Spock pulled back with one last squeeze of Jim's shoulders. "You were able to acquire our necessary supplies in so short a time?"

Jim smiled. "I got lucky. Mn'edla had everything we needed at her store, so I didn't even have to go to Denbid. It makes things significantly easier if we only have to go to one town instead of two." He let his eyes trail over Spock's body. "Now, I've been gone for a week. Let's go inside and you can welcome me properly."

Spock hummed in agreement and grabbed Jim by the hand, practically dragging him toward the door. Jim let himself be pulled, laughing, but then stopped short as they passed the communicator in their living room, halted by its steadily flashing red light.

"Wait, wait," he said, and Spock turned to him, exasperated. "We've got a priority message." Spock shot an impatient look at the comm screen, but then crossed his arms and waited. Jim shook his head good-naturedly and pressed the answer button, grinning as Chris Pike's face appeared on the screen.

"Jim, Spock! Good to see you!"

Spock inclined his head as Jim enthused loudly next to him. "Admiral. How may we help you?"

Pike smiled at them. "I'm in orbit. I was wondering if you had time to talk?"

Jim leered. "Well Spock and I were just about to—"

"We have no pressing engagements," Spock interrupted. He glanced at Jim. "Our planned activities may be postponed with no trouble." Jim rolled his eyes but then grinned back at Pike again.

"Beam down. You know our coordinates?"

Pike nodded. "I'll be down in five." The screen went blank and Jim turned to Spock, sliding his hands suggestively over Spock's chest.

"Postponed with no trouble, yea?"

Spock raised an eyebrow and straightened his back. "You are the one who wished to answer the communication."

With another laugh, Jim tugged at Spock's shirt and led him toward the front entrance to their home. The halls of their house were light-colored sandstone that had been carved directly from the ground up, in accordance with local building styles. They had large windows and graceful, arching doorways, and very little in the way of technology. It was polar opposite to the starships and bases they had made their homes on for years previous, and both men loved it.

Jim stepped out the front door and onto their porch, a sweeping, shady place that was covered with flowering vines and furnished with comfortable padded chairs. Spock followed closely behind and they came to a stop by the railing around the porch just as Pike materialized in their dirt courtyard, next to the heavily-laden speeder Jim had just returned in.

"Chris!" Jim called out, easily vaulting himself over the railing and striding out to meet the Admiral, a wide smile on his face. Spock followed at a more sedate pace down the stairs and raised his hand in a Vulcan salute when Pike smiled at him.

"It has been too long," Spock said easily. And it had been—almost five years since they had last seen any of their old friends (with the exceptions of McCoy and Stonn, who visited often with news from the new Vulcan colony). Pike nodded, smiling, and Jim invited him inside.

Spock fixed tea for the group—not replicated, they didn't have one of the machines hooked up—while Jim chattered to Pike about farm life and the benefits of living off the grid. E'Tevas slipped into the kitchen and shamelessly begged for a treat like the overgrown pup he was. Jim snuck him a slice of fruit (Spock pretended not to notice) and Pike laughed.

Their conversation was easy, and as the afternoon progressed, Spock and Jim learned that Bhaan and Cinna had been named Ambassadors and that Cinna had abdicated the title of Queen. In general, they were doing well coordinating the remaining Vehsins in the quadrant—it turned out that a few dozen had shared similar ideals as Bhaan and had been helping with the rebuilding efforts.

The major players of the Federation were slowly reestablishing their infrastructures, but the unity they had enjoyed before the Vehsins was barely on the radar now—governments were more concerned about helping their own people than they were with exploration and expansion, these days.

"What about the Klingons?" Jim asked nonchalantly toward the end of the afternoon. Pike paused where he was at the kitchen counter, cutting up a fresh plet-it'as that Spock had rescued from E'Tevas. He smiled tightly, and Spock raised an eyebrow.

"They are abusing their privileges," Spock guessed flatly, and Pike nodded.

"You got it. They're not being quite open about it yet, but they're falling back into old habits—ruling the colonies they've been supporting with more force, and there have been some suspicious attacks. We're worried."

Jim crossed his arms. "This isn't a purely social visit, is it?"

Pike sighed and rinsed off the knife. "No. Starfleet's reforming, and the Admiralty wants you two back. Earth's mostly stable now, and there's only so much we can do with the Klingons." He looked at Jim. "As unorthodox as you may have been when dealing with them, you got results. We need you."

"We told you our answer five years ago, Chris. We just want to be left alone—and we're happy. We have a life here, and a working farm that we can't exactly just abandon." Jim was stiff and defensive, Spock sitting silent and still at their kitchen table.

"I know," Pike said, and held his hands up in surrender. "But I have to ask. We don't have a lot of people to draw from, especially not people who know diplomacy. Most of the beings we've got slated to captain the ships were rebels and didn't have any actual training. You two—"

"We will not be separated," Spock interjected. "Regardless of our decision, we will stay together."

Pike nodded. "We could work with that."

The rest of the night was slightly strained, though Pike had the decency to drop the subject of reenlistment. And when he left, after a dinner of fresh food that had been growing in the ground that very morning, Jim was smiling again and Spock's shoulders were loose.

Pike stood in their courtyard, his communicator in hand. "Think about what I've said." Jim quirked his mouth, and Spock regarded him blankly. Pike nodded, resigned. "One more thing. We're re-commissioning the Enterprise. She'll be smaller, of course. Crew of one hundred. But she's almost finished, and she's yours if you want her."

Spock looked over at Jim, whose mouth had dropped open slightly. When it became apparent that Jim had no response to this, Spock turned back to Pike. "We will consider your words, and will be in touch. Live long and prosper, Admiral."

('')

Spock pulled his mouth off Jim's cock with a wet pop and lifted an eyebrow at him. Jim, breathing heavily, gazed confusedly at him.

"Why did you stop?"

Spock tilted his head and dropped his hand down to continue working Jim. "You are distracted." He nipped lightly at Jim's shoulder, then slightly harder to ensure he had his bondmate's full attention. Jim swatted has ass, but then grabbed him and manhandled him so Spock's knees were on either side of Jim's hips.

"I'm not distracted," Jim countered, and leaned up to set to work returning the favor, sliding his tongue along Spock's length and pressing a finger at Spock's entrance.

Spock shuddered when Jim took his head in his mouth, swirling his tongue just how Spock liked, but shook his head, clearing it. "You are thinking about Pike's offer."

Jim pulled off long enough to mutter, "No spying," before taking Spock in again, pressing forward deep enough so Spock scraped the back of his throat. He simultaneously slid his finger in shallowly, and the dual sensations made it significantly harder for Spock to collect his thoughts.

"I am—" Spock lost his train of thought for a moment, concentrating on Jim's crooking finger and the hot suction of his mouth. "I am not spying. Simply… ah. I am preoccupied, as well." Jim didn't answer him, simply hollowed his cheeks and sucked. Spock bucked into his mouth. "Perhaps this conversation… after…" Jim looked up at him through his eyelashes and nodded while relaxing his throat and letting Spock in deeper. "Yes," Spock moaned, and dropped his hands to Jim's face, sliding easily into a meld. Jim's eyes fluttered shut in pleasure.

He guided Spock's hips down and moved his hand, leaned back (though not breaking the contact of the meld) and opened his eyes to watch as he pushed into Spock's tight body. Spock closed his own eyes and watched the proceedings through the meld, letting himself drown fully in Jim's sensations and desire.

Jim started to move, and their night proceeded, utterly perfect.

Later, they lay in bed with Jim wrapped tightly around Spock's still-too-thin frame (even five years later, he still couldn't seem to force his body to retain a healthy weight). Spock ran a hand through Jim's hair and down his back to his arm, pausing at the junction where Jim's arm gave way to the metal of the replacement. Jim tensed.

"You know that I barely even notice it anymore."

"I am aware. You adjusted remarkably well."

They were quiet for a moment, then Jim unwound himself and leaned over to hover near Spock's face, forcing him to meet his eyes. "If we go back, it's not going to be the same. Starfleet isn't a rebel organization. It'll be safer."

"While perhaps more organized, Starfleet is no safer than any rebel endeavor," Spock said sharply. "You were as good as killed while serving in Starfleet."

Jim flopped over again and stared at the ceiling. Spock watched him apprehensively. Pike's promise of the Enterprise may have been more influential than the Admiral had realized.

"I don't want to go," Jim said finally. "I love it here. I love our farm, and our cows, and E'Tevas, and the fields, and the air and even the stupid tribbles that we can't get to stop burrowing around our corn." He rolled over and stroked a hand down Spock's side. "But I miss space sometimes."

"As do I," Spock admitted after a lengthy pause.

"What should we do?" Jim looked miserable and Spock reached out, brushing hair out of his eyes. It was too long again. Jim smiled at him and laced their fingers. "Would you want to be a captain again?"

Spock shook his head. "I was never meant to be captain of the Enterprise."

Jim searched his face, then abruptly pulled himself close. Spock wrapped his arms around his back and held him tight. "Were you meant to be her First?" Jim breathed into his neck. After a moment, Spock made a soft noise of agreement.

It appeared that they had made up their minds.

Final A/N: Well, it's been a crazy ride—this is (by far) the longest thing I've ever written, and I really appreciate you sticking with me all the way!

A couple things—I'm going to be cross-posting this on Archive of Our Own, (after I take some more time and re-re-re-re-re edit) and then I will start working on tie-ins and sequels.

I have a major sequel planned that will begin to cover the reformation of the Federation and Starfleet's redevelopment. It will probably end up being about the same length as this story, and will center on Spock and Jim in this new world, dealing with the consequences of rebuilding.

I also have couple shorter stories planned—they'll be add-ons that will give backgrounds and flesh out some of the side-plots. Right now, I have ideas for a more detailed account of Spock and Jim's first time (that was mentioned in one of the earlier chapters) and some stuff detailing the Stonn/Bones thingie, as well as things centering on Uhura and Sybok. None of those are any farther along than the briefest of outlines, so it will be awhile.

IMPORTANT: I am NOT going to be posting on FF anymore, because I am really beyond frustrated by site load errors and getting frozen out, as well as their lax policies and the threat of having works deleted, so if you want to follow this universe, find me at AO3. My screen name over there is Eligh, and the link (minus spaces) to my profile is

archiveofourown users/Eligh/pseuds/Eligh

Anyway, thank you again for your support—everyone's wonderful (and often insightful) reviews were a major motivating factor for me. I love you guys and whoo! I finished it!