"Come with me."
Khan turned around as he heard the quiet words. His eyes found Jim, stood in the doorway of the laboratory, looking at him with an expression that twisted Khan's heart. His hands were behind his back, but Khan could tell Jim was fidgeting, obviously nervous about something.
Nervous about being around him.
His expression showed that. Jim looked hopeful, yet scared to be hopeful at the same time, and wary.
They hadn't spoken to one another in five days. Khan had left their, Jim's apartment, and gone to Star Fleet HQ, sleeping in the bed he'd made up when he'd first began the night shifts, going over everything in his head and piecing together what he'd been missing before.
"Am I allowed to be in your presence now?" Khan quipped.
"Don't, don't do that." Jim told Khan with a stern tone, but he looked disappointed by Khan's words, instantly making Khan regret his frosty greeting.
Khan looked down as he thought over the current situation and what would be the best way to handle it.
"Okay." He said simply.
"Okay, you'll come with me?" Jim asked, looking at him intensely, as if everything he wanted depended on Khan's answer.
No, Khan wouldn't let himself be so hopeful. Jim was right with everything he'd said, Jim had trusted him and Khan hadn't trusted him, despite knowing how much Jim would be hurt if he'd found out.
Khan had lied to Jim, but for the sake of his family. Does that make him selfish, or simply putting his family above Jim?
That all depended on how you looked at it, and Khan knew how Jim looked at it.
Khan had hurt Jim by planning without him and keeping this from him, because in Jim's eyes, Khan should have told Jim and they should have done this together. Jim would have wanted to work together, and if their plan didn't work, come up with another one, and keep going until they did it.
But Khan didn't want to achieve his goal after several failed plans, he wanted to achieve his goal after one plan, and he couldn't guarantee that while working with Jim. He couldn't guarantee that while doing it by himself, but working alone meant only one variable to keep an eye on.
But his plan had failed. He had failed. So maybe, maybe it was time he let Jim in, really let him in; to his plans, to his life, to his family.
Khan hadn't been using him, he wouldn't do that to Jim, and the thought that Jim believed that upset Khan, and made him want to slowly break every bone in the body of whoever had put that unbelievable idea in Jim's head.
But, despite loving and thinking of him as family, Khan had been keeping Jim separate from his family. Jim knew how much they meant to him, but he hadn't asked to find that out, he'd just seen it and realised it through the little things Khan had said. Khan had never spoken to Jim about his family; in fact, he'd avoided the topic around him. They were his and nobody else's, and even though Khan loved Jim, he didn't know if his family would love Jim. That's not an option he wanted to imagine.
"Khan?" Jim asked, biting his lip as Khan had left his question unanswered for too long to look good.
Khan looked at Jim, standing in front of him like a nervous school boy on his first date, biting his lip. The nervous twitch was the thing slipping through Jim's facade that everything was alright. Khan imagined what Jim would really be like underneath the facade, all nerves and insecurities and worries, and it made his heart hurt.
Khan had been separating Jim from his family because they were both his, and both very different parts of his life, and Khan wasn't sure if they would mix.
He couldn't do that any longer.
"Where are we going?" Khan asked with a tilt of his head.
"Surprise." Jim replied with a small smile. "Will you come with me?"
Khan nodded while thinking 'I'll never leave you.'
Jim nodded tensely and turned, walking away down the hall. Khan stared at him for a second before following; why was Jim keeping him separate while asking him to be with him? Was he going to tell him something? Did Jim have something to own up to? Or was Jim about to do something incredibly risky, and he wasn't sure how it was going to pan out, therefore being nervous about having Khan close to him in case he was only to be torn away?
As it turned out, all of the above.
They walked in silence, Jim slightly ahead of Khan, his walk not quite right.
Jim led Khan out of Star Fleet HQ and turned left, then right, right again, left, right, left, left, right, right, right-
"Where are we going?" Khan asked again, his voice deeper than he meant it to be.
"Here." Jim stopped suddenly and pulled out something from his pocket, inserting it into the door in front of him.
Khan looked at the building they had come to; it was old, a lot older than Khan had expected to still be around, possibly as old as him, small, made of bricks with posters covering every part of the wall, no windows, and the door had a hangover that cast shadows on what Jim was doing.
Khan took a small step closer to Jim, staring at him intently, willing him to face him so they could talk and he could apologise and they could sort things out; however, at the same time, Jim exclaimed "Got it!", pushing open the door and walking out of Khan's reach. Khan sighed minutely before following.
They walked into darkness, Jim fumbling with the wall until he found the light switch. He flicked it on, showing them to be in a small room, no bigger than a cupboard, with a rack to hang coats on and an umbrella stand. The walls were wooden, a deep brown colour that reminded both Jim and Khan of warmth. There was another door, opposite the one they came through, obviously leading to the rest of the building.
"This building is old." Jim pointed out pointlessly. "One of my friends, someone who works at Star Fleet, has had this in their family for hundreds of years. They were asked to sell it, so it could be torn down and rebuilt as one of the many new 'modern' buildings," Jim bent two fingers on both his hands around 'modern', "but they kept it."
"You do not like the 'modern' buildings?" Khan mirrored his actions.
"I don't think we appreciate the older things in life enough. They might be older but," Jim looked at Khan, "that doesn't mean they aren't as good."
Khan furrowed his brow at the double meaning behind Jim's words.
"Anyway, care to take a moment?" Jim held out a hand, a small, secret smile on his face as he waited for Khan to take it.
Khan slid his hand into Jim's, the ball of tension in his stomach lessening slightly at the contact.
Jim walked backwards, his smile grinning with every step until he reached the door. As he opened the door, music began to play quietly from somewhere, a tune Khan recognised but couldn't remember yet. He was too focused on Jim; Jim who was just a little bit taller than him, with his dirty blonde hair that he had obviously been running his hands through, messy and all over the place, just as Khan liked it. His eyes were shining; a giveaway of Jim's emotions, his eyes were always reflecting his feelings. His teeth still nibbled on his bottom lip, lips that Khan hadn't felt for days, and he missed the sensation of, oh Jim's lips matched Khan's perfectly, they belonged-
"Tut tut tut, not now." Jim whispered softly as he turned his head to the left, making Khan kiss his cheek. "Save it for later, honey."
They walked through the darkness, passing by what felt like curtains, until finally they reached an opening.
The music was louder now, almost within hearing distance...
Jim pushed open the last curtains, walking through the gap and pulling Khan behind him. Without the curtains to separate him and wherever the music was coming from, Khan could clearly hear the music now.
"Welcome to my world, won't you come on in?" Jim sung in Khan's ear as he placed an arm around his waist and kept their clasped hands together, held further away than before. Khan recognised the position straight away, and raised a hand to cup around Jim's shoulder.
"You still want me?" Khan asked, unable to forget his worries until they were solved.
Jim smiled sadly as they danced, singing "Miracles, I guess, still happen now and then..." His smile faltered as he realised how what he'd just said could be taken. "I don't mean, the other way around, I mean, what I meant was, it's a miracle you want me..." He looked down, biting on his lip again before looking back up decidedly. "I'm getting ahead of myself, I have some things to tell you-"
"I don't care." Khan interrupted.
"-What?" Jim stopped dancing, frowning at him.
"Step into my heart, leave your cares behind." Khan sung in time to the music in reply as he twirled them around. "I have in my arms the person I care most about, and that is all I care about. I have you, you're here, and nothing else matters. I love you, James. I should actually apologise, for what I did, for not trusting you, it was unforgivable of me yet I stand before you asking for forgiveness... If you could?"
Jim stared at him momentarily before shaking his head. "Wait, Khan, let me speak first, I need to get this off of my chest-"
"James, whatever you've done, it doesn't matter-"
"Yes it does, I owe you an explanation-"
"No it doesn't, your actions are always justified and I understand that now-"
"I have your family." Jim blurted.
They stilled before Jim had even finished speaking.
Jim watched Khan, catching every emotion that flickered over his face and the speed at which they did so. He expected Khan to put on his poker face and hide this from him, instead, he let Jim see every feeling he had to what Jim had told him.
Jim didn't know what was worse; seeing Khan feel anger and hatred and disappointment and betrayal and pain, or having everything Khan felt hidden from him.
"Explain." Khan said curtly.
Jim took a deep breath before tightening his arm around Khan's waist and his hand wrapped around Khan's. "When you were in prison, it was Harry I turned to to help me get you out. We worked endlessly, looking for loopholes and laws and evidence we could use in your defence, and then we, I, found all the videos…" The look on Khan's face told Jim to hurry up. "… But that was never our end game. In one of our meetings, we found files on your family, and we knew we had to do something. We couldn't, I couldn't, just leave them, so cut off and isolated from the world, and from you, their leader."
Khan registered those words. "What happened next?"
"We focused on helping you first, then after you were released, we started on your family. That was… I thought defending your case was hard, but trying to awaken your family…" Jim released a breathe. "Me and Harry ended up arguing several times on how to do it and how to go about it, we wanted to tell the least people, hurt the least people and damage as little people's as possible reputation. It was the right thing to do, but there was a slim chance of us winning, and we didn't want to bring down the few good members left with us.
"After so long, we agreed that we needed an expert, somebody who could fill in all that scientific blah-blah-blah that could make what we wanted sound like it was needed, not just for you but for the greater good. Harry asked Professor Kia to help, and once Harry went over everything with her, she was with us.
Jim was still holding Khan, and it wasn't as if Khan had let go of him yet. They were both still holding on to the other, and that gave Jim the confidence to continue with the next part. "That was when we had a slight… Crack." His hand in Khan's tightened, bringing it closer to him and resting it against his chest.
"Admiral Hobkinson called me to his office, where Scotty was, and he told me what you'd been doing, what you'd been… Keeping from me." Jim fixed his eyes on Khan, staring at him intently and with such emotion that it took Khan's breath away.
"You nearly messed this all up. You, and your plan, we were so close Khan, so close, to losing everything, for it all to backfire. I had Hobkinson on one side of me making up this extravagant plan that you had in motion which involved using three different members of Star Fleet, and Scotty on the other side, telling me how you'd been sneaking off, pretending to come and see me, when really you were going to see your family. Both of them, having all this thrown at me, and I mean really thrown at me, Hobkinson has the perfect voice for shouting… I nearly lost it. I had nothing to say, I was defending you but I had no proof to support what I said.
"We were in there for two hours, Hobkinson losing his patience with me and, I swear, playing on all my insecurities - they must be written down on a file somewhere because damn, he ticked them all off." Jim smiled, pretending to be okay and jokey, but Khan could see the way his face tightened, and his eyes took a sheen to them.
"Then, Harry knocks on the door. As soon as I was in the office with Hobkinson, he went to get Professor Kia, Spock, and Bones. The four of them had devised a case to present to the Admiral, so well thought-out and developed, I could kiss them all. I won't, kinda taken, hopefully." He smiled sadly at Khan.
"Anyway, Admiral Hobkinson listened to them, and any arguments he had, they ripped apart. He was sneaky as well, going for Spock because, obviously he can't lie, and asking him leading questions. That was when Scotty came in, referencing everything you'd done while working for Star Fleet and proving every negative comment Hobkinson had to say about you wrong. It was beautiful."
Khan stared at him for a moment, taking in how many people were working on trying to get his family back to him. Maybe he'd been wrong about Star Fleet, maybe there was more good, more potential, there than he had realised.
Jim continued talking, "I realise now, why you couldn't tell me. Trust me, I get it. I did exactly the same thing, because I couldn't tell you, and I understand that's how you felt. I can't exactly stand here and shout at you for it now, because I did it. I didn't talk to you about my plan, and that was wrong of me because they're your family, and it's your business what happens to them, and… I hope you can forgive me for that."
"This is all well and good, but what happened to my family?" Khan asked quietly, brushing his thumb across Jim's hand to show he wasn't as angry as his voice made him sound.
"When Hobkinson had found out what you were doing, and assumed you were planning to run away with them to the stars, he moved them to another location.
"After we argued with him, he saw things from our point of view, and realised he really had no idea of the potential your family held. You see, everyone had ever so slightly emphasised how happy you and your family would be to help Star Fleet, developing their ideas and improving everything we had, not to mention outside of us. Hobkinson realised this was beyond him, and turned the responsibility onto someone else.
"Now, we have your family, and we can wake them all back up." Jim's face slowly lit up as he spoke, ending with his grin taking over his face and his eyes shining. "Khan, you can have your family back. You can go see them anytime, and later, they'll be here with you, where they belong."
Khan stared at him, unsure of what to do or say and going over everything in his head, working out what Jim had done to do all this and what everybody else had done to make this happen.
Jim laughed at Khan freezing. "Khan, they're back with you, they're home."
Khan focused on Jim's face, his laugh, and wrapped his arms around Jim's waist, swinging him round as he laughed along with him. "We really have them?"
"We really do. They're in a locked room that only one person has the key to." Jim giggled that infectious laugh again as he pulled a key card out of his pocket. "Me."
Khan stared at him in shock, then began laughing again. Their laughter filled the room, bordering on hysterical, before Khan twirled Jim around and began dancing, this time with Khan obviously leading and dominating him. They turned a few times, laughing and staring at each other and just contaminated with this happiness that everything had paid off and no one had got hurt.
Khan stopped suddenly, his eyes narrowing as something clicked. "You said later."
Jim's laughter died and his smile fell. "What?"
Khan leaned closer to him. "You said, later they'll be here with me. Later. Not now, not soon, later." His voice had taken on that low, deep, dangerous tone again.
Jim swallowed as he realised what he had to tell Khan now.
"There were... Conditions."
"What conditions?" Khan asked quickly.
Jim swallowed before taking a step back. He fumbled with something behind his back, not looking at Khan as he ordered his thoughts.
Another song came on overhead, but Khan dispelled the acknowledgement. It wasn't important.
"Jim. What. Conditions?" Khan asked again.
"Every week, I have to have a meeting with Hobkinson, and fill him in on what your crew have been doing and where they're heading, keeping him up to date and informed."
Jim frowned slightly. "I can't make a decision without it being improved by Harry, Professor Kia, and Bones. Everything I decide has to be discussed and agreed with by them."
"Okay. And now the problematic condition, if you would be so kind." Khan smiled at him harshly, knowing full well that Jim was saving the worst condition until last.
Jim swallowed again, running his hands through his hair. He turned away from Khan, deliberating before turning back and standing closer to him than before.
He paused before saying, "You have to wait five years."
"WHAT?" Khan exploded, gripping Jim's shoulders in his hands.
"In five years, we can awaken them all. We'll adapt them to our world, in a safe environment with only people we trust there. After that, we'll integrate them into society; give them jobs, and houses, and places to call home. They'll be living, in this day and age, with us."
"Why five years? Why not now?" Khan asked, his voice almost painful.
"I know that's what you want to do, and I realise you probably won't even want to do this, or be anywhere near me, trust me I get that, nobody does, and I understand that it'll be tedious and boring and below your level, but it could be-"
"Kirk, what are you talking about?" Khan asked, releasing Jim's shoulders as Jim babbled.
"Listen." Jim said, then didn't say anything.
"What?" Khan asked.
Jim pointed upwards. "Listen."
Khan listened to the music playing - the song that he had dispelled from his thoughts.
"Yes, what about it?"
"Listen." Jim slightly scolded him.
"It's perfect for a flying honeymoon, they say, come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away…" The lyrics filled Khan's ears as he realised.
"Are you asking me?"
Jim smiled at him. "Admiral Hobkinson says we have to wait until the mission is over. I know you're mad at me, and you have every right to be, but, I want you to think; I did everything I could, I got you out of jail, and I gave you a home, and a job, and I got your family back-" Jim shrugged his shoulders as tears threatened to spill from his eyes. "-I know you might not want to be anywhere near me, I understand why, but I thought you could, if you really wanted to, come with us, on our five year mission... Come fly with me.
"I love you Khan, I love you more than I ever thought I'd love somebody. Hell, I didn't even think I could love somebody the way, or the amount, I love you. Yet I do, here I am. All I want, is to make you happy, and to give you everything I can. I would do anything you asked Khan, because you've done so much for me and I can never repay you for that. Everything I've done, there was no hidden agenda like you expect from Star Fleet, there was no selfish motive, I just… Love you. It really is as simple and deep as that. I love you."
Khan looked at Jim; the man who'd risked everything to help him, who'd risked other people's jobs to help him; who'd made Khan fall in love him and fallen in love with Khan in return; who'd saved Khan's life, and now his family's, who was now stood in front of him, nearly exploding from the amount of insecurities filling him.
How could Jim think Khan wouldn't want to be with him? Had Khan not told him repeatedly that he wasn't going anywhere, that he was always going to be here with him, that he loved Jim too?
Jim didn't realise how much he mattered to Khan.
But he would do, 'later'. When he heard it from others, who knew Khan better than he knew himself, then maybe Jim would believe.
"Five years, of travelling in space with you." Khan cupped Jim's cheek and smiled at him. "Five years to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before?" Khan winked at him, making Jim laugh, a single tear falling from his watery eyes. "How could I say no?"