ALWAYS SHALL BE


Dad keeps his hand on Jim's shoulder when they meet the Vulcan delegation, like maybe Jim's going to start doing cartwheels or just abruptly drop trou and moon Ambassador Sarek.

Well, it isn't like Jim hasn't thought of it, but -

"Impulse control," mutters Dad, above him, through gritted teeth. He's smiling. Painfully.

"Of course, Papa," says Jim, making the 'papa' come out all British and stuffy, and Dad's hand tightens.

"Admiral Kirk," greets Ambassador Sarek, and whoa, the lady next to him is really pretty. His Human wife? Jim's heard the rumors, but damn. He'dcross the species line for cheekbones that fine. "We appreciate your offer of help at such short notice."

"Please, call me George." He turns to the pretty lady.

"Amanda," she says, and holds out her hand. "A pleasure to meet you."

"Likewise. Was your journey comfortable?"

"Oh, very. It was terribly long, though."

"I heard. Was it the warp drive...?"

"The warp drive suffered from a temporal phase at zero point three two Naglums," says Sarek. "Thus, the ship was left idling in hyperspace for seventeen point eight four Standard hours, and our arrival was correspondingly delayed."

"Tough luck," says Dad, and Sarek just - looks at him.

"Indeed," he replies. "The probability of such a malfunction occurring was very low." And his voice is still totally deadpan, but something about it makes Jim think that either Ambassador Sarek is accusing them of sabotage, or he's just trying to convey to this illogical Human that 'luck' is a load of bullshit. Or both. Jim can't quite be sure.

"That's too bad." Dad isn't looking away, either. "These things happen, don't they?"

"They do," says Amanda, with a sort of steely serenity that seems to be conveying to her husband: Shut up and be diplomatic.

Sarek smiles. It's a little scary.

"You're only here for the repairs, I take it?" Dad's relaxing; Jim can feel it, because his grip on Jim's shoulder is no longer homicidal. Jim has no idea how his Dad can relax after seeing that smile.

"It should take no longer than twenty-eight point nine one Standard hours," says Sarek, as if each of those hours will be spent in purgatory. It's weird; Vulcans are supposed to be emotionless, but they're really, obviously… not. "We should be gone by the morrow."

"It's such a pity." Amanda sounds genuinely disappointed. "I would've loved to spend more time here."

"There will be other journeys," says Sarek.

"Right," coughs Dad, and pushes Jim forward. Gently. "This is my son, Jim."

"Hello, Jim," says Amanda, and dimples.

Jim melts a little. "Uh. Hello."

Sarek's jaw clenches.

"Well!" Dad pulls Jim back, whips him around, and looks him very firmly in the eyes. "I have a job for you, son. You up for it?"

"Joy," says Jim, and sighs.


The Vulcan ambassador has this kid, all tall and gawky and serious, with shoulders so stiff they might as well be two knobs on a plank of wood. His name's Spock, and he has the dorkiest hairstyle Jim's ever seen. It's like a helmet, smooth and shiny, and Jim wonders if it comes right off, like the plastic hairpieces on those antique Lego sets he used to play with when he was five.

Those are interesting eyes, though. Titanium-dark and thoughtful, but banked, somehow, like quiet fires. They make Jim want to bother him, a little. So he does.

"Yo," he says, and sticks out his hand. He knows that Vulcans are touch-telepaths, and that most people don't want to touch them, but. Jim's not most people. And, heh, more importantly, he wants to see Spock's reaction. "The name's Jim. My Dad asked me to look out for you, while your Dad talks shop with him."

"You are James Kirk," Spock says, voice low and cultured. It's a really nice voice. "I am Spock."

Wow, and if that isn't you-Tarzan-me-Jane, Jim doesn't know what is. "Yeah. Good to know." He keeps his hand in the air.

Spock's eyes flick down to it, then up. "Vulcans are touch-telepaths," he explains, patiently, like everyone and their alien grandma doesn't know it already. "If you are attempting to establish a 'handshake'," and Jim can totally hear the quotation marks, "then I am obliged to inform you of this fact."

"Why?" Jim tilts his head. "I mean, why you gotta inform me?"

"You would not be - comfortable - having your thoughts read."

"How'd you know how I feel about it? You haven't touched me, yet."

"That," says Spock, and blinks. "That is logical."

"Yep." Jim keeps his hand where it is. A grin's pulling at the corners of his mouth; he lets it.

There are several seconds of pained - yeah, that's the only word for it - silence. And then, finally, Spock reaches out and takes his hand.

Spock jumps, the moment they touch, like Jim's electrocuted him, or something. His palm's really soft, but the tips of his fingers are really rough. Console calluses? Anyway, it's a nice hand. Like it was a nice voice. And nice eyes - okay, maybe more than nice, and maybe Spock was wondering why the hell Jim wanted to touch him, but if he was, well, now he knows. Seriously, those cheekbones.

His hair's still dorky, though.

Jim realizes that he hasn't said anything for, like, several seconds, and that could be... awkward.

But Spock's eyes are wide, like Jim's said something insane, or is insane, and he says, "ah," all quiet-like, followed by a more certain, "You are highly illogical."

Jim snorts. "No kidding. Hey, you play chess, right? The 3D kind? Heard you were the interplanetary champion."

"Only for the youth division," Spock says, and Jim rolls his eyes.

"Still, it's pretty cool."

Spock twitches; his hand is hot in Jim's, so hot that Jim's palm is actually starting to sweat a bit, but Vulcans have high body temperatures, don't they? "There is no thermal unit of measurement attributable to the Interplanetary Chess Championship," he says, and Jim thinks, loudly, but thereis a thermal measurement attributable to your skin. Spock twitches again.

"Come on," Jim says, and tugs Spock's hand. If this were any other boy, Jim would totally have let go by now, but he knows that it's botheringSpock, in a cute kind of way, and the fact that Spock's reading all his thoughts, including this one, makes something in Jim leap and spark. "I've got my Dad's old set to play on, but I never really learned how. You can teach me."

"I," says Spock, stumbling after him, still looking like he's been hit over the head. "Certainly."

They've only got a day to themselves, but in that day? Jim's going to get as much inside Spock's head as he's letting Spock into his own.


fin.
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