Notes: A little late for a New Year fic, but honestly one I only thought of after the date had passed. Also, I have been sneaky with some references in here. Kudos to the catcher(s) of said references.
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek 2009, and I make no profit from this work.
Jim Kirk had the habit of changing the life of all who came into contact with him, and none knew it more than Alice Cutler. She had moved into her bedsit to find herself opposite a handsome (if rather exceptionally arrogant and often rude) member of the NYPD, who would swagger in and out of any room in the house that he pleased, whether he rented it or not.
And so she had found herself, not three months after meeting Jim, dragged along on his (rather nice, if she did say so herself) arm so as not to break his track record of having a different girl for every party. (She had, however, refused the offer of a mistletoe kiss for her favour. Alaska girls just weren't like that.)
She was very much not enjoying herself.
Oh, the house was very nice – a respectable little townhouse with tasteful decorations and matching furniture, and a lovely big black cat that was keeping her company in the kitchen away from all the noisy drunk strangers – and Jim, dancing about with that mistletoe and offering kisses to the ladies and a fair number of the gentlemen as well – but…
Well, the host left something to be desired.
He was a friend of Jim's – apparently the doctor in charge of the A&E department at the downtown hospital, and therefore the one best known to all the police officers. Dr. McCoy by name, and a sawbones by trade, according to Jim's colourful turn of phrase. And it wasn't so much McCoy – he was a southerner, and he was charming, and he had quite a lovely smile when he'd greeted Alice, and she felt welcome anyway – but…
Then his…partner? Alice didn't know the words New Yorkers used. His partner, then. His partner had turned up. He was definitely his partner, Jim said so – "That's Spock, McCoy's," and he'd done that silly whistle that only drunks and bums came out with – but…
If that was how McCoy treated his partners, then no wonder he was rumoured to be divorced.
They were foul with each other. They had not exchanged a single nice word from the moment Spock had walked in the door – "You're late," had been McCoy's brusque greeting, and then, "There's mixers in the kitchen. God forbid you loosen up enough to have a drink with the rest of us." – and between the jibes and insults, had flocked entirely separately through the guests and ignored one another.
"Spock?" McCoy had grunted, when she dared to ask how his partner was (and hoping she had the terminology right). "Hell if I know – Alice, right? Hell if I know, Alice. The man's never shared an emotion a day in his life. I reckon he doesn't even feel half of them."
"A refreshing change from your insistence upon bursting into childish tantrums at a flat tyre," Spock had returned smoothly – and in passing, rather than even stopping to say it to McCoy's face. It reminded Alice of watching her parents fight – snide, passing slips designed to hit and run – and heels chapped from the courtroom heels of a divorce lawyer.
And so it carried on. They were harsh, they were rude – and only with one another, killing Alice's hopes of their being merely grumpy personalities. McCoy was practically charming with some of the guests, joining a British man – or Scottish, or Irish, she didn't know – in a loud rendition of Galway Bay (Irish, then?) as the clocks neared midnight and the alcohol flow began to resemble a river. And Spock…well, he was not talkative, but he was, from what little she overheard, unfailingly polite to the other guests, and allowed himself to be coaxed into a dance with a beautiful dark-skinned woman from the force's legal team.
When Christmas Day arrived to Spock still dancing in slow circles with the dark-skinned lawyer, and McCoy standing at the centre of a cluster of joyously warbling (or howling) drunks, Alice felt merely sad.
She left early, and thought of her own family the entire cab ride home. At least, she thought, they had no children to be hurt. Just a big black cat, and some matching furniture.
New York was a minefield of a city – dangerous and somehow tempting despite the danger – but the wind went right through you, and Alice was frozen, despite her Alaskan upbringing – by the time she came home on New Year's Eve, not an hour before Jim's planned celebration was due to begin.
"Alice!" he beamed, swooping down on her in the most alarming pink apron she had ever seen. "Alice, Alice, Alice, do me a favour? I need rum!"
"Rum," she said weakly.
"Yes, rum. Kyle needs his rum or he's a grumpy fucker. Worse than an old slut on junk for his fix, I swear to God. Go onnn, Alice, dash out and grab me a bagful?"
And because Jim was – alright, alright, he was kind of sweet when he was nice, and it didn't happen very often, and Alice had met Kyle and he was quite handsome and maybe some rum would loosen him up a little – she turned right around.
And so Alice was at the corner store when she caught sight of the tall, dark and handsome Mr. Spock around the stack of baked beans, and backed herself hastily into the wine aisle again in time to hear the harsh ring of McCoy's angry tones.
"What in the hell possessed you to come to New York if you find the cold that unbearable?"
Alice bristled at the tone, but stayed put when Spock's smooth voice, that she had barely heard at the party, cut back with, "As I have explained this decision multiple times, and as you are rumoured to be a reasonably intelligent man, I do not feel that I need to explain once more. Unless you are experiencing a sudden bout of amnesia?"
"Oh yeah," the sarcasm was practically visible, never mind audible. "Now that there sounded like a genuine inquiry. You shoulda become an actor."
"I do not believe that I have ever harboured illusions that Broadway was waiting for me," Spock returned dryly. "I have as much expectation of becoming an actor as you do for becoming a group leader of Alcoholics Anonymous."
Alice was aghast. It was the second time that they had argued about alcohol, and she had only heard them argue twice. Had Jim invited them to the celebration? What was he thinking, putting two people who were obviously having problems with the booze in a highly-alcoholic environment?
"I wasn't that drunk."
"You vomited twice, and referred to the result as a river of gold. I am simply grateful that you had the presence of mind to do so in the sink rather than on the carpet."
Alice blanched, and hastily reached for the nearest rum bottles to her arm. She simply could not listen to any more of this.
"…Okay, so I was that drunk. Did you expect it any other way? Fourteen hours I was on shift. Fourteen hours. I was nearly drunk from exhaustion anyway."
"Leonard. You apparently lost the ability to pronounce Hannukah and wished 'Merry Jewishmas' to the Cohens."
Alice scurried to the counter, hoping that they would not see her. From her glance into the aisle, they were facing off, glowering stonily at one another, and McCoy's arms were folded in a typically belligerent stance.
McCoy distinctly groaned, and the old man snickered scanning Alice's bottles.
"Merry Jewishmas," he muttered to himself fondly. "Ah. Ah well. Won't see another one."
Alice simply nodded, and hurried away.
Jim had invited them; they arrived not ten minutes after the invitation, and Alice watched from the stairs as McCoy collected the source (she was sure) of their problems in a too-large glass, and Spock was promptly captured by an already enthusiastically tipsy Christine Chapel and painstakingly withstood the overt flirtations.
Alice was not a fool, and her new appreciation of the situation made her look twice at the unhappy couple. Drunks were not rational people; she knew that from experience, and McCoy seemed brusque enough sober. What was he like as a drunk? What did he do as a drunk?
She wished it were summer, so that the heat would force Spock into less clothing, and she could see for herself whether there were bruises or not. Were the shadows at his wrists darkened skin, or merely the shade of his sleeves?
And what did their friends sweep under the carpet? Jim had to know. If he was not at work or in his rooms, he would be out with one or the other or both. He knew them well. He had to know. And if he ignored that, if he overlooked it…
Then Jim Kirk was not the man that she thought he was.
It was saddening, the way that New Year's Eve mirrored Christmas Eve. They were sharp and acerbic, even in company – when Jim asked McCoy about resolutions, Alice hovered to hear the answer, and her heart sank as he took an unhealthy gulp from his glass and snorted.
"Transfer," he said. "Some nice quiet ward away from the likes of you."
"Me?" Jim chuckled. "What did I do?"
"You are yourself, Jim, and that is plenty."
"For once, we agree," McCoy muttered darkly. "Jim. I'll tell you what 2012 is going to be. Another year of patching up you ungrateful, gun-jumping adrenalin junkies over the unholy hell that is the night shift." He snorted again. "Hell, I could have been someone."
"Well," Jim said.
"So could anyone," Spock interrupted smoothly, and Alice cringed back against the banister, waiting for the explosion. McCoy had drunk enough; he was drunk, she was sure of it.
"Not all of us grow up the pampered child of diplomats and novelists, Spock," McCoy replied after a pause, and Alice didn't miss the flicker of his gaze to Jim. Was Jim's mere presence preventing the explosion? What of when he drifted away again?
"Rather obvious and somewhat hypocritical, Leonard," Spock carried on, either oblivious or deliberately goading. "By the same argument, not all of us grow up the only son of wealthy Georgian landowners."
Jim laughed, then, and the tension defused somewhat – but Alice watched the simmering glances between them, and she knew that if Jim wasn't going to keep an eye out, then she would.
Alice's mother used to say that good intentions were not enough to ensure a good result, and Alice, like so many, let life get in the way of such intentions.
At five to midnight, she found herself in the front room of the boarding house, surrounded by the landlady, the tenants, and Jim's friends and acquaintances, and waiting Jim clumsily attempt a toast.
"2012," he intoned heavily. "To a better year. Better prospects. Better lives. Better drinks," he got a whoop. "Better girls and guys. But also our old shit – old friends, old lives, old habits that we should let go but fuck that. To 2012 – the year we don't change, but a better time when all our dreams come true."
"Nah," the drunken Scot-Brit-Irishman raised his glass too. "Fu' tha'. To Scotland!"
"To Russia!" a young man in the corner cheered, and his youth struck Alice with bravery.
"To Alaska!" she offered, and he beamed at her.
"Is Russia, you will see!" he challenged, and she laughed, emboldened by his attention and the warmth of the surroundings. It was New York, not home, but she perhaps was. None of them were New Yorkers, but they were home.
She glanced about, and abandoned her glass in alarm, rushing into the hall when she noticed their absence. Everyone else had crowded into the living room for the countdown that began behind her as she crossed to the kitchen archway, and –
"Five, four, three…"
Her breath caught.
They leaned against the kitchen counters, the granite digging into Spock's back and hips, and they rested intertwined, the movements of their kissing slow and tempered. With closed eyes, they did not notice her arrival, and so she watched languid hands and fluid kisses pass silently between those so-acidic tongues that had been throwing hurt and insult whenever she saw them.
The countdown hit zero, and the fireworks exploded into the night. A flare of purple briefly caught the kitchen as they drew back only far enough to stare at each other – and they were softened. McCoy was smiling, small and barely noticeable but for the curve in the skin, and Spock's flint-eyed stillness was melted into relaxation.
She drew back into the hall, still not breathing, to McCoy's breathed murmur of, "2012."
There was a low rustle and the false silence of further kisses before he spoke again, and when he did, Alice took her leave – and her righteous anger, and her conscience, and destroyed their connection to the sarcastic couple that Jim called friends – and walked away.
"Happy New Year, darlin'."
She knew she'd got it wrong.