I'm almost done with the next chapter of If You Need Me, I promise, it's just this plot bunny wouldn't leave me alone and I have too much time on my hands for break. So...here this is. It shouldn't be long. Three or four chapters. Maybe even just two. So I hope ya'll like it. Thanks for reading! I hope to hear from. ya"ll. :)

Full Circle

The grounds of the New Vulcan Science Academy, Jim Kirk thought, were beautiful even by human standards. He didn't really know how they compared to the old academy, though; he had only seen a few pictures that had survived.

He regretted, now, that he had never been to Vulcan before its destruction. It would have been nice to be able to remember something more of the planet than the brief glimpses he got while hurtling toward its surface with Sulu. It had been home, after all, to his first officer, and after four years serving together—not to mention everything they had been through together in the beginning—Spock was now the closest friend he had besides Bones.

It was certainly different, having a Vulcan for such a close friend. It wasn't anything Jim had ever pictured for his future as a juvenile and then not-so-juvenile delinquent in Iowa, just as back then he'd never pictured himself the captain of a starship, either. Much less the flagship of Starfleet.

Yet here he was. Four years later. It was the dedication of the New Vulcan Science Academy that brought the Enterprise to the new Vulcan homeworld this trip, and of course the ceremony was much…different, than any similar ceremony on Earth would have been. The Vulcans still held on to their rituals, and he didn't blame them—certainly not now, with the loss of their world. He was glad to be here.

But he really, really hated dress uniforms. The collar was too tight and the whole thing felt too stiff, and why the hell was his green? His normal uniform was yellow, and everyone else had a dress uniform the same color as their usual one, so why the hell was the captain's dress uniform green? It wasn't even a nice green. He supposed the idea of differentiation between the captain and everyone else made some kind of sense, but wasn't the gold braiding enough? And why green? Seriously.

Jim knew his mind was wandering, and he tried to get it back on track, and it really was a very nice ceremony—if more than little strange—and it was a nice place and everything else, but it just didn't seem quite right. The proceedings didn't seem complete without the man that Jim knew had put in just as much (and likely more) effort as anyone here.

Well…he was here. Jim knew he wouldn't miss this for anything, but he also knew the old man would be hiding at the edge of the crowds, drawing as little attention to himself as possible. He had been instrumental in everything from finding this planet for the Vulcans to rebuilding the academy and everything else here…Vulcan society itself. But he only wanted results. Not recognition.

He had his reasons for that, of course. Only Jim, Spock, Montgomery Scott and his small green saurian friend knew what the largest of them was—the fact that he was, in fact, not of this universe, but of another future that now would not be in this timeline.

That he was, in truth, a much older version of Spock himself.

Still, the ceremony seemed off to Jim. He wondered if anyone else felt the same way. After all, even if the Vulcans didn't know who the elder Spock really was, they all knew him now. Or of him. They knew everything he had and was doing for them, and simply accepted that he did not care to be recognized.

Jim wondered if any of them were suspicious, or if they didn't give it any thought. Vulcan was a large planet before it's destruction, with more than six billion inhabitants; it was certainly possible that they all thought this Vulcan who was doing so much in the rebuilding efforts was simply someone they had never known before the planet's death. A species that numerous, and there were those that shared names just as with any other species.

Then again, Vulcans were rather…well, smart.

But Jim had never heard of anyone commenting on or whispering about the fact that the old Vulcan carried the same name as Sarek's son.

Apparently, if they suspected anything it didn't matter to them.

Eventually, the ceremony was over. Jim caught a glimpse or two of his older friend at the fringes where he'd expected to see him, but didn't try to track him down there. He beamed back up to the Enterprise with his first offer and the rest of the diplomatic landing party and planned to visit the elder Spock at his home before they left orbit. His first officer would be beaming back down as well, to visit his father.

Both of them wanted to change first.

He caught Spock tugging at his own collar once they materialized, and Jim was already pulling his open. "Hate these things just as much as the rest of us, eh, Spock?" he smirked.

The Vulcan immediately stopped and dropped his arms.

"I would not use such a word, however the design quality of this uniform in regards to ease of movement is of a much lower quality than our standard uniforms."

"So you agree that they're awful."

Spock gave him a blank stare that Jim had learned, over time, to translate as exasperation.

"Sorry. Chess once we're out of orbit in a few hours?"

"That would be agreeable."

With that Spock left the transporter room, and Jim shook his head to himself and retreated to his quarters. Once he'd changed out of that blasted dress tunic he went to his computer to call down to the surface. Before he could give the personal computer an order, though, there was the dinging of an incoming call.

Jim sat down at his desk and accepted the call, and the caller turned out to be just who he'd been trying to contact anyway.

"Hey, there you are. I was just about to see if you were home yet."

"Yes, I have been here for several minutes. Transporters are quite useful, in that way," the old Vulcan deadpanned in response.

Jim still wasn't used to the completely straight-faced jokes from the elder Spock, when the younger version he saw on his ship every day still wouldn't have made any kind of joke to save his life. Maybe his first officer was emotionally comfortable enough with himself to have a relationship with a human woman, but beyond that he was still the same old Spock.

"Yeah, you're hilarious."

The Vulcan on Jim's screen raised an eyebrow. "I see no reason to insult me, Jim; I merely provided an answer."

"To a rhetorical statement, sure." Jim shook his head. "Anyway, what's up?"

"I am sure that you had planned to pay a visit to me here before leaving orbit, however, I was curious if it would be permitted for me to visit you on board ship, instead."

Now both of Jim's eyebrows were up. "Are you kidding? You're always welcome here, Spock. I've been trying to get you to come aboard for years."

He'd offered, many times in the past, to give his old friend a tour of this Enterprise. The Vulcan had always declined, and Jim somewhat understood. Despite the differences there were bound to be between this Enterprise and the one the elder Spock remembered, it still might be painful for him.

Jim knew Spock felt. The mind meld shortly after they met four years ago told him that—told him that clearly. That knowledge was much of what made it possible for him to read the younger Spock's non-expressions. It was how he knew both of them so well. Granted, now he knew them because he had been close to both of them for several years, but the meld had given him a jumpstart. Given them a jumpstart—particularly Jim and his first officer. They'd very nearly hated each other in the beginning, but the meld had put a stop to that, sent them in the right direction, even if the younger Spock wasn't aware of that fact at all.

Often Jim wondered if that had been part of the elder Spock's intention in the first place.

Spock nodded now, in thanks, and they arranged a time. It wasn't far off, and soon enough Jim was back in the transporter room waiting for his friend.

He gave the old Vulcan the tour of the ship he'd always wanted to give him, though thanks to the similarities it was almost as if Spock were giving him the tour. Jim didn't have to say much—only something here and there about the bits of technology and layout that were slightly different from the original Enterprise in Spock's timeline.

Really it wasn't a tour at all. They walked the ship, and Jim could almost see the memories replaying in his old friend's mind.

"Is it hard? To be here?" Jim asked gently. They stood alone on the observation deck; most of the crew was preparing for their departure from the planet.

It was a long time before Spock responded at all, and when he did he nodded, very slowly. "It is not easy. That much is certain."

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked so often in the past. If you didn't really want to come, you—"

"You are not at fault in any way, Jim. I chose to come here, and I am not sorry for it. There was a perfectly logical reason."

"That reason being what?"

Spock hesitated. "Perhaps not entirely logical…"

Jim chuckled a little. "Okay, fine. What?"

That almost-smile that both Spocks had down so well. They should really have it patented; it wouldn't look right on anyone else.

"It hadn't seemed prudent to some here before. It would have served no purpose, and…you are right. I presumed that it would not be an easy thing to do. Now…I suppose I thought that to see the Enterprise one last time might not be so disagreeable an experience after all. And I was correct."

"You really are just a sentimental old fool, aren't you?" Jim smiled.

"I do not know about sentimental, but I am an old man and in my lengthy life I have often been a fool."

"Close enough."

Spock didn't disagree with him.

Five Months, Three Days Ago

"You know, this really doesn't make any sense."

"What does not?"

Jim sat back in his chair, a steaming mug in hand, and he wasn't really watching the broadcast on the small vidscreen across the main room. The volume was low, and most of it was probably news he was aware of anyway. Starship captains were privy to a lot of news before the general public was.

"I don't know. All of this. That I'm even here. I guess if you'd known me before I enlisted you'd know what I mean."

"Are you perhaps becoming reflective at the old age of twenty-nine, Captain Kirk?"

"What? I don't know…"

"Starship captain or not, please remove your feet from my table."

Jim laughed and put his sock-clad feet back on the ground. He would have called the low triangular table in front of him an oddly-shaped coffee table, but Vulcans didn't drink coffee. "Sorry."

His old Vulcan friend settled in the chair beside him and turned in his direction. "Thank you. Now. What subject were you attempting to broach?"

"I have no idea. As often as I'm here now, it almost seems more absurd as time goes on, not less. The way I was when I enlisted I figured I'd be spending leaves looking for a good pleasure planet or doing anything else just as stupid. Yet here I am, spending most of my shore leave for the past four years sitting around with an old Vulcan from an alternate universe. Sometimes I wonder where the hell that came from."

Jim smiled and sipped at the hot drink in his hand, and as much as he loved coffee and couldn't live without it, this wasn't coffee. No, it was Vulcan spice tea, which he'd developed quite a taste for since he began coming here—here being nothing more than a small apartment in an unassuming building in an unassuming sector of the capitol city of the new Vulcan homeworld. It wasn't much, but it was the elder Spock's home.

He'd been offered something much nicer, of course, much closer to the center of the city, but he preferred simplicity. He preferred to be out of the way.

Both Jim and his first officer had spent most of their shore leave on this planet since the colony was established. The younger Spock went home to his father—often with Uhura tagging along—and Jim came here. Sometimes he and Bones spent their leave together, instead, knocking about, for something different to do, but Bones had a daughter to visit so more often than not Jim was here.

The guest room was tiny, almost an afterthought, and this was a Vulcan world, so there wasn't much to do in the way of what a human would call entertainment. Jim didn't care about any of that. It was the closest thing he had to a home, away from the Enterprise. He certainly didn't have anyone or anywhere to go back to on Earth, that was for sure.

"It isn't so strange as you think. Your counterpart was also quite the…'ladies man,' as I believe the saying goes, and was rather adventurous, but he had a great appreciation for peace and quiet, as well. I did not know him until he was a bit older than you are now, so I do not know if the latter was a quality he had from the beginning or if he developed that appreciation in reaction to the stresses of being a starship captain. Whatever the truth, it is only logical that you would develop the same appreciation now that you are in that same position."

"Huh…makes sense, I guess. I feel better now. Would've hated to think I was losing my touch."

There went the eyebrow. "Indeed."

Jim shrugged. "What about you? You may be like 180 or whatever, but you're a Vulcan. You could be around another two or three decades or four decades, easy. Gotta live in this timeline anyway…you could meet somebody here."

Spock was already shaking his head. "Any relationship I was going to have I have had, Jim, and while decades more are possible, they are not necessary. I have lived quite a full life, even for a Vulcan. I am…content."

It all sounded entirely truthful. Until that last word. Jim's eyes narrowed a bit. "Are you?"

Both eyebrows were up now. "I do not lie."

"Well that's bull."

Spock just looked at him, and Jim sighed. It took a him a minute or two to decide where he wanted to go with this. "You never told me if you were, you know…married or whatever. In your timeline. Did you leave anyone behind?" he asked quietly.

At first Spock just looked at him, as if he wasn't sure whether or not he would answer. Then he nodded once. "Yes…a wife. Saavik. We did not often share a dwelling—in fact, in the 45 years we were husband and wife before I was pulled into this timeline we rarely saw each other. I spent 25 of those years living on Romulus, working toward Reunification."

"Saavik. A Vulcan woman, then?"

"Half Vulcan, like myself, though her other half was Romulan and not human. Also like myself, she chose early to live as a Vulcan. We had…much in common."

"You loved her."

Spock didn't directly answer the question. "Many did not understand, how we could spend much of our time away from one another. Even other Vulcans did not see the logic in it—marrying when doing so would not change much else in our respective lives. They did not understand that we each cared enough to allow the other to carry on with what was important to them. We both had important tasks to fulfill—things that were larger than us."

Jim just nodded, trying to understand, but he had the sinking feeling that there was unspoken regret in what his old friend was saying, no matter what he actually said.

Suddenly Jim had another horrible feeling. "Oh…no, has she been born yet here? If she was, did she—?"

Spock shook his head sadly. "No…she did not survive the destruction of Vulcan. The course of her life was also changed by the disrupted timeline. She was able to enter Starfleet much earlier here than in the world from which I came. She was a cadet at the academy when the Narada attacked…she was aboard one of the largely cadet-crewed ships that were destroyed above Vulcan."

"Oh god…oh my god, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I should just shut up…"

Spock was quiet. They both were, for a long time.

"I'm sorry," Jim said again, after a while.

"You have no reason to be. Your questions were born of concern."

Jim let out a breath. "Yeah…" He sat back and returned to his tea. "So I guess we're both kind of alone."

"You are not. You have your friends aboard the Enterprise."

"Yeah, and they're great. I don't think I've ever been as happy as I am now, but I don't have a family. Unless I count you. But you don't have to be without one, Spock, even here. If you would just tell Sarek who you are—"

"I do not wish to speak about that."

"Oh come on, Spock! He's your father."

"And I have made what peace it was possible for me to make with the memory of my father, in my own universe," the old Vulcan answered in as sharp a tone as Jim as ever heard from him. "It would be selfish and illogical of me to intrude in this one. Spock and Sarek have the chance to become closer here than my father and I ever were, and from what you have told me they are taking it. I do not wish to interfere."

Jim set down his mug now and leaned forward intently. "That's ridiculous. It wouldn't be interfering. Sarek lost his wife, remember? Your mother. His son is all he has now. He'd probably be thrilled to have more than one instead. Or…well, you know what I mean. Not thrilled. Whatever the hell a Vulcan would be."

But Spock refused to say anything more on the subject, and that was that. He was very good at pretending, after that, that there had never been an argument. Jim wasn't so good at that. At least not at forgetting about it.

Nothing was any different than usual the rest of the time Jim was there, but he still went back to the Enterprise after that shore leave concerned about his friend. Really nothing about any of those conversations that day seemed quite right.


It had been months. Jim had been worried for a while, but nothing had happened that made his undirected concerns make any sense. The elder Spock continued to work with those leading the efforts to rebuild Vulcan society, the New Vulcan Science Academy neared completion, and his old friend's messages came with the same regularity as they always had.

It seemed nothing was wrong. Jim had tried to forget about the more worrisome parts of the conversations they'd had that day on his shore leave.

But now the worries were back, and they wouldn't leave him alone.

…while decades more are possible, they are not necessary…

I have made what peace it was possible for me to make…

to see the Enterprise one last time…

Hours after the older version of his first officer had beamed back to down to the colony, he and Spock sat in the Vulcan's quarters in the middle of a chess game.

Jim was losing badly. He couldn't concentrate.

"Jim? Is something wrong? Your game is considerably weak tonight."

Kirk shrugged and tried to focus on the 3D chess set. "I don't know. It's probably nothing. Uhm…you know old you came up to the ship before we left orbit, right?"

"I was aware, yes."

The two Spocks had not entirely avoided each other these past four years; Spock had told Jim that his elder self had pointed out that it would be impractical and illogical. So they didn't avoid or ignore each other. Still, they stayed out of each other's way when they could. Jim supposed it was just easier that way. It was probably awkward for them when they were around each other. So while Spock had been aware that his older self was aboard, it made sense that he hadn't made an appearance.

"Okay, well, something seemed…off about him today. Not just today. Something seemed off the last time we were on shore leave, too. I thought I was imagining it a few months ago, but now I'm not so sure."

"I do not understand what you mean by 'off.' Perhaps you should explain."

"It's hard to explain. He was just…quiet, I guess. I mean, that's not unusual for either of you, but I mean more than usual. And both today and a few months ago he kept saying things like…well, things that worried me. I told you I didn't know if I could really explain…"

while decades more are possible, they are not necessary…

I have made what peace it was possible for me to make…

to see the Enterprise one last time…

"Never mind," Jim said. Spock agreed that it was probably nothing, and the game went on. Jim was still losing, but he didn't care anymore.

No matter what his first officer told him he couldn't stop worrying over it.

while decades more are possible, they are not necessary…

to see the Enterprise one last time…

not necessary…

one last time…

Before the elder Spock beamed down…when he spread his fingers in the Vulcan salute and gave Jim the same wish he always did…live long and prosper…

When he said it he smiled. A real smile. Not something that could have been mistaken for anything else. A real, warm smile. It had been small, but very real, and there had been something is his eyes. An emotion. A strong one. Jim couldn't put a finger on it, but it had all startled Jim so thoroughly he hadn't moved until the beam and his friend were almost gone.

One last time.

"Damnit!" Jim dropped the piece in his hand and shoved to his feet so violently the entire chess toppled over.


"I have to use your computer." He swung the computer station at the edge of the desk around and punched in the orders for a call. They were less than an hour out from the planet at standard warp; he should still be able to reach the colony on subspace. He ordered up the personal computer link for the elder's Spock's apartment, and waited anxiously for the call to be answered.

"Come on, damn you!"

There was no answer.


Jim all but launched himself across the room at the intercom button, trying to remember who had the con. "Kirk to bridge."

"Sulu here."

"Sulu, turn us around. Get us back to the planet, maximum warp."

"Aye, sir."

At maximum warp they could be back in fifteen minutes or so.

"Captain, may I ask why—?"

"Because I know what's wrong, Spock! Or I think I know. I sure as hell hope I'm wrong, but I don't think I am. Damnit!"

He was out the door in an instant, racing for the transporter room. He couldn't wait for the ship to drop out of warp to get there. The moment it did he would be on the pad, coordinates locked, ready to beam down.

"Jim? Jim!"

Spock ran after him, and Kirk wasn't really paying attention. He was too busy running and spewing a constant string of expletives.

"Should I beam down with you, perhaps?" his first officer asked when he reached the transporter room.

"No. I'm going alone. Just…god, just…tell Bones he might have an emergency on his hands and not to shoot me for freaking him out if I'm wrong, ok?"

"Very well…"

And Jim was pretty sure Spock looked rather concerned himself just now. The captain ignored it for the moment, called up to the bridge again to let them know he was beaming down as soon as they were out of warp, and they gave him an ETA. Three minutes. Jim hurried up onto the transporter pad.

"Those coordinates locked in, chief?"

"Aye, sir," the transporter operator assured him.

Jim nodded, and as a last thought he came down from the pad again and took a phaser from the transporter room's small stock. Spock raised an eyebrow at him.

"Better safe than sorry, right?"

The eyebrow was still up, but the Vulcan nodded in assent to the logic.

"Thirty seconds, sir," the transporter chief alerted him.

Jim stood straighter on the pad and pinned his first officer in his gaze. "Hold down the fort, Mr. Spock. With any luck I'm wrong, I won't be gone long and we should be able to make up lost time with increased speed for a few hours. Either way, I'll take responsibility with Command for any delays."

"Understood, sir." Spock paused. "Jim…"

He didn't have to go any farther for Jim to know he understood. Spock hoped Kirk was wrong, too.

"Thanks," Jim said quietly, just as the transporter beam took him.