Here we are... at the end of all things. I am glad I have had the opportunity to write this fic, and I am so thankful for everyone who has been such a great support all these chapters!
So without further ado... let us bow out gracefully.
Things slide back to normal in the span of the next few days. If anyone is concerned about the previous erratic behavior of the CMO and First Commander, they are wise to keep their mouths shut.
"How did you manage to get those crew members on the bridge to shut their trap?" Bones asks Kirk one day while they're in the mess hall.
"I didn't," Kirk says around a mouthful of apple. "Uhura did."
Bones looks over at their xenolinguistics expert, who only smiles slyly and continues to dig into her food. All she will say on the matter is that she monitors all communication logs on the ship. Spock smiles into his soup but Bones only blinks, puzzled.
Uhura never explicitly thanks Bones for complying with her request, or for helping bring Spock back to her; but she does always take his side in arguments against Kirk, more to irritate the captain than anything else really. Bones understands the fact that she by nature is discreet, so the only way he will ever acknowledge their private conversation is by asking her once if the nightmares have stopped.
Her simple yes is filled with a thousand thank yous and that alone is enough to satisfy Bones.
There is a subtle dynamic shift between Chekov and Spock, oddly enough, and Kirk can't put his finger on it. "He doesn't follow me around anymore," he says to Sulu one day, puzzled and slightly hurt. "Know anything about it?"
Sulu only laughs. "Why, you jealous, Captain?"
"Maybe," Kirk says thoughtfully as he watches Chekov race over to Spock, holding new sheets of notes and numbers. "Do I have to fight Spock?"
"If you did, I highly doubt you would win, Captain," Sulu says in an amused tone as he turns back to piloting the ship.
In the end, Kirk thinks, they really have come out of this unscathed. He watches his crew as they go about their duties on the ship, seamlessly making the ship run. He could not be prouder of the people in front of him – his crew, his family, and his friends. His gaze lingers particularly long on Bones and Spock as they argue over one of the medical reports, and his smile widens a little.
"Any particular course, Captain?" Sulu asks. Beside him, Chekov waits to enter coordinates. Uhura is bent over her screen, but she looks up briefly to say, "Waiting for your orders, Captain."
Kirk glances over at Spock, who has withdrawn himself from the argument with Bones and is standing at attention again. Beside him, Bones is scowling, though there is a trace of amusement in his face, suggesting at least a reluctant acceptance of the Vulcan's argument. And Kirk thinks about how he's stuck with these two, and his smile only widens.
"Corralsh System, Mr. Sulu." He waits for the helmsman to give him the all clear sign. Then he looks over at his two best friends.
He could be stuck with worse, he thinks.
"Punch it, Mr. Sulu." He grins. "Let's go."
And in a blink of an eye, they're all gone.
I feel like I just waved goodbye to a close friend as they sailed away on a ship.
Much love (LOTS OF LOVE!),