DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2017 by Djinn. This story is Rated R.

The Untold Story—Many of Them Actually

 

By Djinn

 

Author's Note:

I was reading Stephen O'Connor's Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings and was blown away by the creativity of the variety of POVs and types of storytelling used in the book. This is not a direct copy, obviously, since the stories deal with very different situations, but I was motivated to try something experimental a la Mr. O'Connor, and fanfic seems like the perfect laboratory. This is another of those stories that relies heavily on you knowing the cast of characters. It moves all over the place but is basically centered on the death of Kirk in Generations. (For those who've wished I'd do more Kirk/Spock, this might scratch your itch.) This is actually far less complex than O'Connor's treatment of Jefferson and Hemings, but still, it's got a lot of moving parts without a lot of explanation, so hopefully is not too difficult to follow. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it.

 

 

 

 

Reporter: It's been a year since the Federation learned of the death of one of its greatest sons. Starfleet Captain James T. Kirk died as he lived: a larger-than-life hero who saved another man's Enterprise with his last full measure of devotion. I've been interviewing those closest to him to discover the truth behind the legend and how their lives have changed without that iconic man in them.

[Scene shifts to busy hospital, then pans to a woman sitting at a desk.] Doctor—and Commander—Christine Chapel. You knew him well, I believe?

Chapel: I did.

Reporter: A woman of few words, I see.

C: I guess.

R: I should probably note that Doctor Chapel was unsure if she wanted to do this interview. Why did you decide to go ahead with it, Christine? May I call you Christine?

C: Suit yourself.

[Long silence, Chapel appears to be considering.]

C: I chose to do this interview because I've seen your others. The...emphasis you chose to put on certain aspects of Jim's life.

R: Which ones?

[Chapel glares but doesn't answer]

R: Ah, the ones where we noted his romantic prowess. There are any number of women willing to tell their story.

C: And that's what they'll tell you: stories. Most of them got a kiss from him when he needed to find a way out of a situation and they seemed the best choice. He loved very few—and was faithful when he did.

R: You speak from experience, don't you?

C: I do.

R: What Christine doesn't seem to want to say is she was involved with Kirk.

[Chapel nods grudgingly.]

R: Another lover lost to space.

C: Trust you to do your homework.

R: It's my job.

C: Yes. Of course. Jim was...an amazing man. You have no idea.

R: Then tell me about him, Christine.

[Again she looks uncertain.]

R: I'm sorry. I don't want to start off on antagonistic footing. Please, tell me. What was he really like?

C: He was the most...vital man I've ever known. His energy, his drive, his...passion for living, for adventure, for love. He seemed ageless and he made me feel young.

R: And he was faithful. For all those who want to brand him the ladies man to end all ladies men?

C: He was.

R: Does that fidelity include his first officer?

C: You mean Spock? He never cheated on me with Spock, if that's what you're implying.

R: That is what I was implying. You know Ambassador Spock rather well, don't you?

C: I do. But you know that, don't you?

R: I know a lot. You took up with Spock only months after Kirk died. Some might question how deep your feelings for Kirk were if you could move on so quickly.

C: Are you one of them?

R: Maybe. Yeah.

C: I can't stop you from questioning. Moreover, I won't try.

R: And the interesting thing is you weren't open about it. You were caught sneaking around with him by some resourceful paparazzi.

C: I'd hardly call attending a function at the Vulcan Embassy sneaking around.

R: So you admit you're with him?

C: I've never denied it. Jim wouldn't have minded. He loved us. He'd want us both to be happy.

R: But would he want you both to be happy together?

C: Yes, without a doubt. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have patients waiting.

[Chapel gets up and leaves.]

R: That's the first interview she's given—and possibly the last. We'll see if we can get more out of Ambassador Spock. I'd say he's been giving the good doctor lessons on how to act like a Vulcan. For Celebrities Among Us, this is Robert Allen signing off.

 

##

 

"Did you have to be so...short with him, Christine?" Why? Worried about your precious reputation? "If I were, I would have chosen another mate. Your look of surprise would seem to suggest you do not consider yourself that?" No, I do. It's just—I never thought you considered me that. "We are together. What else would I consider you?" Second best. "Perhaps the same could be said for you."

 

##

 

There are those who consider me a star-fucker. I try to ignore them, but the label still hurts.

 

The reporters who wrote the profiles of those closest to Jim were so adept at leaving out the lovers I've had over the years who've been just regular Joes. Instead they focused on my graduate advisor, the captain, and the famous Vulcan.

 

I'm more than just the men I loved. Not that the reporters would realize that.

 

And it's true, I don't give much of myself away. People think, because I smile and am easy to talk to, that I'm an open person. But I'm not. And it's only when they replay things back in their mind that they realize for all the things I may have said, I've told them very little.

 

Privacy has always been a big thing for me. Even before Roger. When you have a sister who you can never, ever live up to, you learn to keep your thoughts to yourself.

 

When that sister, who ostensibly lives for her career, crashes her shuttle on an easy approach, you learn to shut the hell up even more—I first learned to distrust reporters after her accident.

 

Never tell anyone about the talk you had with her right before the crash, after she'd come back from the hospital to see Pike, her head in my lap like I was the older sister. As she wept and just said, "He's gone" over and over.

 

She never said he was Pike, but I knew it was. She liked powerful men, too. But then what else would do for her? She was the best at everything: hence the nickname that became the only name anyone knew her by.

 

I loved her for her weakness that day. That she even had a chink in her armor. A man, who had burrowed somehow into her heart.

 

And then she died. And I despised her for that. I thought she was the strong one. I thought she would find her way despite the loss of her precious captain.

 

I did, after all. I survived losing Jim.

 

I've never told anyone this. Her death was logged an accident but I knew what it was. Defeat. Surrender.

 

I have never, ever given up. It's the thing I hold on to some days. The thing that keeps my spine straight and my head up.

 

I kept going. And I loved again. After Roger and after Jim. Until now, when it seems my lover will outlive me instead of the other way around.

 

 

##

 

Reporter: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the anniversary of the death of Starfleet Captain James T. Kirk. Today we have a surprise guest and a distinguished one at that. Doctor Carol Marcus from the Rafts Array Terraforming Project. Welcome, Doctor Marcus.

Carol Marcus: Thank you, Robert.

R: For our viewers who don't know who you are, can you explain your relationship with Captain Kirk?

M: How long have you got?

R: As much time as you need. Our last interview with someone intimate with Kirk was cut short.

M: You mean she cut and ran?

R: In word, yes.

M: I'm not here to badmouth her. It's a sisterhood, after all. We scientists who loved Jim Kirk.

R: He had a weakness for scientists?

M: He did. He would have been a scientist if command hadn't called so strongly to him. We never lacked for things to talk about. [Looks thoughtful and sad.] Until we did.

R: Wasn't the fact you were pregnant with his son the reason for the break-up?

[Marcus nods, her expression wary.]

R: A son who died while on a mission with his father.

M: That's oversimplifying what really happened.

R: Then complicate it for me.

M: I can't. I—some things I just can't talk about.

R: Can't or won't?

M: Can't. If you'd ever worked on sensitive projects, you'd understand.

R: Fair enough. I wanted to show you this. Found footage. I wonder if you've seen it since it was taken.

[Vid rolls. A very young Kirk with another man and a young Carol Marcus playing keep-away with a brightly colored ball on the beach.]

M: Oh. Wow. We were so...

R: Happy?

M: I was going to say young. [She stares a long time as the footage loops, finally she reaches out to press "Stop"]

R: Do you want a copy?

M: Yes. But no.

R: Because you're still bitter? All those other women?

M: You really don't get him at all, do you? My rival was never flesh and blood. It was duranium hulls and warp drives and stellar winds and just one more strange new world to explore.

R: So in retaliation, you kept his son from him—at least that's what the sources I've talked to tell me.

M: I wanted my son in my world. Any mother would feel the same if the father was constantly gallivanting across the cosmos. An assignment on Earth—or anywhere that we could be together—never crossed his mind. [She takes a deep breath, visibly pulling herself together.] I'm sorry. I have work to do.

R: One last question: do you still love him?

[She stops, and a strange smile plays at her lips.]

R: I guess I'll take that as a yes?

M: No comment.

R: And we lost another of Kirk's woman. Should I take it personally? Sound off on the comments below. For Celebrities Among Us, this is Robert Allen signing off.

 

##

 

 She was good, in her interview. Better than I was. She came across as witty instead of defensive. And she's prettier than I am. Or at least I think so.

 

Jim didn't, and I guess that's what matters.

 

She called us sisters. We never were that, not once she was done wooing me for her precious project. She couldn't believe I was happy in ops. She could never understand that helping people was as great a calling as any experiment. Called me a poser—not a real scientist.

 

I was mad then. Now...now, what does she have left? No son. No ex. No project. No future that matters to her. Eventually, maybe, she'll find her legs again and be the force she once was. But for now, how is she even relevant?

 

Then again, she may be thinking the same thing about me. I had a sister, after all; I know how they think.

 

 

##

 

Reporter: Perhaps our most fascinating guest yet: Captain—or I guess you prefer Ambassador—Spock, the man who served with Kirk for more years than you didn't.

Spock: That is inaccurate.

R: But gets my meaning across. You two—joined at the hip, is the term I heard a lot.

S: Joined in other places was also a rumor, was it not?

[Reporter looks stunned.]

S: I apologize. The death of my friend has left me somewhat emotionally compromised. It is a bitter thing to me that people dissect a relationship and manage to make it tawdry. Is friendship not enough?

R: It is for me. You were his friend for a long time.

S: Not at first. When he took over from Captain Pike, I was unsure why he had been chosen. He was...the human term is cocky and I am not sure there is a better one.

R: Definitely a word used for him.

S: But I came to see that underneath the bravado, was a keen mind. It was fascinating to get to know him and discover such a bright intellect. His ability to not just see but strategize was unparalleled in any human I've encountered.

R: But he was human. I remember seeing the service he gave for you after your death—fortunately not a permanent state. He said—let me see if I can recall the language—of all the souls he had encountered in his travels that yours was the most human.

S: He believed that was a compliment.

R: You don't?

S: I am Vulcan.

R: Only half. Or is that not something I should say?

S: It is truth. Say it or not, as you like.

R: So you weren't offended?

S: He gave me the highest compliment he could give me.

R: So he loved your human soul and you appreciated his—if I'm hearing you right—near-Vulcan mind?

S: Simplistic but perhaps apt.

R: Will you miss him?

S: Undoubtedly. I have never had and will never have a friend such as James T. Kirk. I was privileged to know him. I was honored to call him my friend.

R: Your best friend?

S: A Vulcan would see no need for the modifier, but a human would no doubt agree.

R: Then we'll leave it at that. Thank you for your time, Ambassador. I know you are a busy man.

S: Diplomacy does not sleep.

R: Fortunately neither do Vulcans.

S: Indeed.

R: For Celebrities Among Us, this is Robert Allen signing off.

 

##

 

I will never understand your ability to keep reporters from asking the obvious question. "It is simple. I went there first. Jim taught me the trick."  He never had to teach me that.  "Are you trying to be cruel, Christine? Please, remind me how you could be with him openly and I could not." I'm sorry. No, Spock, please, I'm sorry. You would have had that. Once he was done with the Enterprise, you would have had that. "Perhaps that was our mistake? Assuming the ship was done with him? That it would share him with us." Perhaps it was.

 

##

 

Reporter: It's difficult to talk about James T. Kirk without also mentioning the core crewmembers who were so closely associated with him—especially with some of his more infamous escapades. Joining us today is one of them. Commander Nyota Uhura, thank you for making time for us.

Uhura: It's a pleasure, Robert.

R: Is it fair to say Kirk made your career?

U: Well, it's fair to say he's one of the only captains I served under.

R: Doesn't Starfleet discourage that?

U: Promotions come slower if you homestead, but on the other hand, when you're out on the edge of nowhere, it's good to have a crew who really understand each other.

R: And Kirk took you to the edge of nowhere more than once.

U: He did. But he wasn't reckless. So many people think he was.

R: What was he, then?

U: He was action-oriented. No, Robert, don't give me that look. He wasn't afraid to fight, and he had his share of confrontations, but he was also a consummate diplomat more than he was a fighter. The stories always gloss over how many tours he had to give and treaties he had to sign.

R: You sound like you were a little in love with him?

[Uhura seems to think about that.]

R: Not meaning offense. I've chased off several of his women already.

U: I wasn't one of his women. I was his crew. He didn't get involved with crew.

R: Never?

U: It was his rule. I mean I know his reputation. I know everyone thinks he was a busy guy. But the fact was, he was a very internal person. He didn't let many people in. Ambassador Spock and Doctor McCoy were his closest friends.

R: Doctor Chapel wasn't?

U: That came later.

R: But she served on the ship at the same time you did.

U: She left both tours early. Bigger and better things.

R: Including your captain.

U: Well, they served a long time together even with her leaving short of tour.

R: Are you saying he was involved with her before she left?

[Uhura looks down. Shakes her head. Mutters something that sounds like, "Damn it."]

R: Commander?

U: That's not what I said. I think, I think I've said enough. He was a wonderful man, Robert. Let's leave it at that.

R: And she's gone. You know, for a wonderful man, it's hard to get anyone to talk about him for long.

For Celebrities Among Us, this is Robert Allen signing off.

 

##

 

McCoy waits for Uhura, grinning as she hurries out of the interview room. "Well?"

 

She laughs. "Mission accomplished. If they think he was involved with anyone while he was their captain, it'll be Christine. Now it's your turn to second the motion."

 

"Think she'll forgive us?"

 

Uhura stops him, her look grim. "I don't, actually. But...but that's not where my loyalty lies. It's Spock's story to tell, isn't it? That they were together, he and Jim? And he chose not to in his segment. So we're helping him keep the cover-up going. He'll talk when he's ready."

 

"Have I ever told you I love you?" He waits to see if she'll take him seriously.

 

She laughs.

 

He decides not to push it. He's having too much fun with the belles of Savannah to jeopardize a friendship.

 

Even if parts of him think he's an idiot.

 

##

 

Reporter: I'm hoping you won't also run out on me, Doctor.

McCoy: I'll try not to. Pour us some hooch and it'll probably get me to stay longer.

R: Commander Leonard McCoy—Bones to Kirk from what I heard.

M: That's what he called me.

R: I'm not buying your simple country doctor routine.

M: No? Because it's worked for me for years.

R: Tell me about Kirk. You were one of his best friends.

M: I was. And I'll be honest. Not a day goes by that I don't think of him. That I don't miss him. We'd lost touch the first couple of times we weren't stationed together and we vowed we wouldn't do it this time. Had plans for fishing, which he hated, and camping, which I detested.

R: Would Spock join you on these outings?

M: He'd camp. Fishing he found barbaric. Vegetarian, you know.

R: I do. All Vulcans are.

M: I've met a few who weren't, but they generally were not of the flock.

R: Speaking of fishing, my segment with Commander Uhura went a little off the rails.

M: Oh, how so?

R: I think—I think she was basically telling me Kirk and Doctor Christine Chapel were involved before she left the ship.

M: Well, I couldn't comment on that.

R: Not even to say no?

[McCoy shrugs.]

R: Roger Korby was her professor and her graduate advisor, then her boss. Her falling for Kirk would hardly be out of character, then, right?

M: As I said, I can't comment.

R: But Jim didn't mess with crew?

M: That was his rule.

R: I notice you're not saying whether it was a rule he ended up breaking.

M: Smart boy. Here's what I want you to take away from this interview. Not whether or not Jim was involved with one of his doctors but what kind of man he was. I was with him through every conceivable loss a man can endure. He never broke. Not once. I don't know if you know what he went through on Tarsus IV, under Kodos' regime, but it changed him. What would have destroyed a lesser person made him the man he was. The one who was not going to stand by while others suffered. Was never going to settle for the easy route to making things halfway okay when a harder route to really solving a problem existed. He was my friend, but he was also my hero. The universe is a sadder place without him in it.

[Reporter pushes tissue to him.]

R: First time I've had to use this.

M: Yeah, I'm the emotional one. Just ask anybody.

R: Thank you for your time, Doctor. [Turns to camera.] For Celebrities Among Us, this is Robert Allen signing off.

 

##

 

What the fuck? They're making it look like I  was the one with him on the ship?  "Christine, please calm down." Calm down? Those are my friends. Or I thought they were. And they're throwing me under the bus to protect you. And from what? Why didn't you just say you were with him? "I was not ready to. I did not want to do that to his memory. It would make him look like he lived a lie."  Well, he sort of did. He was with you for years on the ship. You reported directly to him. 'Not with his crew,' my ass. "Are you saying that you would have stopped your relationship with him if you had joined the crew instead of staying in ops?" Screw you. "Christine, where are you going?"  To find some new friends.

 

##

 

I never forgave them for that. Oh, I pretended to. Spock needed them in his life and I was part of that. But...it hurt. To see them both lie about me, even if they never came out with it directly.

 

All for their precious Spock.

 

Who I love. But still. Would it have hurt Jim to have it known? It did hurt me. I never made captain, never moved up out of ops to the executive suite like most did from that position.

 

No one ever said that was why. They pointed to ops being my only non-medical posting. But still. It hurt me, I know it did.

 

And like my sister, I'm ambitious. I wanted this, for me. For Christine, the person. Not Christine, the woman with Roger or Jim or Spock.

 

Although Spock thinks it was because they found out we were all three together. There are still prudes at Command.

 

But I don't believe it. The crime was sleeping with my boss, not loving two men at the same time. And I didn't sleep with my goddamned boss. Not this time around, anyway. Maybe I was finally paying for Roger?

 

This will make me sound petty, but I'm glad sometimes that Spock never got to be with him in the open like I did. If I had to be thrown under the bus, then maybe this was karma for that.

 

Not that I wanted to lose Jim like we did. Not even for a good dose of retribution. I loved him. I loved being with him. I loved being with him and Spock, even.

 

It wasn't my first choice, but we made it work.

 

##

 

The breeze is blowing the curtains in and out, letting streams of golden light pattern the wall and then recede. James T. Kirk lies on his back, hands behind his head, staring up at the ceiling as Chris and Spock lie sleeping, their hands crossed across his chest, Spock's soft snores barely breaking the silence of the space.

 

Kirk imagines his life from now one. Free of space, as Admiral L'Shon said at his retirement ceremony. As if free was a state he ever wanted to be in.

 

He shifts, finding the clasped hands of his lovers suddenly confining. The way earth, with its abundant air and beaches he can walk hand-in-hand-in-hand on will soon feel.

 

One last ride. On another man's ship. On an Enterprise that has never known his touch.

 

How the hell did Harriman earn his legacy? How the hell is this man the one who will follow him?

 

Why the hell did he tell his lovers not to come with him to the launch? Either of them could easily get time off. But he asked them not to. Something he had to do himself.

 

And now they're scheduled. Spock for negotiations off world. Chris for a conference on emergency medicine on Andoria.

 

He'll be alone.

 

He's always alone. Even here, with the two people he loves best.

 

Sleeping. While he lies sleepless.

 

And he's in the middle. Not a space you can easily slip out of—maybe when he was younger and thinner. But they hold so tightly.

 

Even when they barely touch him at all.

 

##

 

 

I was on Andoria when I heard. My first thoughts were for myself—the sharp pang of the loss of him, even if there could never be a bond linking the three of us. But in time, I thought of Spock, because I do love him even if that love is at times bundled with resentment.

 

I commed him, found him already headed out to the Enterprise-B, and the look he gave me said it all.

 

I'd never seen such obvious grief on his face.

 

"Christine. He is gone."

 

"No. You'll find him. If anyone can find him," I told him, "you will."

 

I was wrong. He looked and looked. He probably looked longer than he felt necessary for my sake.

 

To be kind. And because he loves me, even if at first we both just loved Jim.

 

Well, that's not really true. I should be honest, right? This is my time to be honest. It's just me, here. No reporters. So much time gone now.

 

I was infatuated with Spock. Everyone knew it. Well, that bastard of a reporter didn't know it, but my crewmates did.

 

But Spock never was infatuated with me. He loved Jim. He let me stay because he couldn't have Jim any other way.

 

At some point he came to love me. I think. Or he convinced himself he does. My infatuation changed to hate for a while and then it bloomed into something real, love with a heavy dose of acceptance. Jim might not have let Spock in without me, but he also wasn't going to stay with just me. It was a bitter pill, but I'm adept at taking my meds.

 

And that's immaterial now. Spock and I love each other. We're all we have.

 

But I'm losing him. I'm losing him because I'm human and I'm dying and he knows it. He loves me, but he's pushing away because he lost Jim and he lost his mother and now he's going to lose me.

 

It's one loss too many.

 

And I let him do it. I've let him pull away in a thousand small ways and say nothing. Because I love him too much to make him commit to that pain again.

 

It nearly leveled us when Jim died. I won't be the cause of that for him. If he's found a way to escape, then let him escape. Maybe he's found someone else, is with her even as I'm getting sicker. The way he clung to me when we lost Jim.

 

##

 

Spock lies in bed with Christine, idly playing with her hair. It's odd with Jim not there, but less so than it was right after his death—when he could feel the loss of him every time he touched Christine's skin, reading her pain, knowing it matched his own.

 

Only...that is inaccurate. She loved Jim for years. His love for Jim could be measured in decades.

 

He resented her, at first. For taking Jim away. For being who Jim had sought out after Spock died.

 

Even if moving on had been a reasonable act. How could he know Spock would be reborn? Or that once reborn, he could ever reassemble his memories into love. He remembers how he treated Jim right after the refusion. He was cold, even for a Vulcan.

 

And yet...

 

It hurt. Once he could remember. It hurt him greatly that Jim moved on. And to her...

 

"Why?" he asks into the silence. It is the question Jim told him not to ask.

 

Don't question it, Spock. She's with me. But you can be, too. We can figure this out. But I'm not—IÕm not leaving her. I need her.

 

"Why what?" She rolls to her side, her expression open.

 

"Why did he choose you?"

 

She freezes, and he feels the pain rising from where he is resting his hand on her forehead.

 

"I don't know. Because I loved you, too, I guess. And because McCoy was too fucked up to console him."

 

If only Jim had gone to McCoy, how different it would have been. A man who would have offered a drink and a willing ear, not his bed, not his body.

 

"A pity." He knows he's gone too far as he feels anger rise to meet despair inside her.

 

Why? Why is he hurting her? He...he loves her.

 

She pulls away—jerks almost—and there are tears in her eyes. "So this over?" She sounds resigned. "This was never us, was it? It was you and him, and me and him, but never us." She rolls, more agile than he expects, and is up and pulling her uniform on, even though it is her apartment. She's headed to the bathroom and he knows she will lock the door and never let him in.

 

He catches her before she can. "I am sorry. Christine, I am sorry. I did not mean it."

 

"You did." She pushes him off her, but he is too strong and cradles her to him, ignoring the way she is slapping him.

 

"Christine, I hurt. And you had him."

 

"And you had him before that. Or...he had you." And rising all around him is guilt. Guilt that she still has him, that she's found some happiness in this. He pushes her back and meets her eyes.

 

"I always loved you best." She rubs her eyes and walks back to the bed. "So did he."

 

"I am not sure of that. He told me once not to ask him to give you up."

 

She sighs. "Then you must have asked him to. Or he'd never have told you not to."

 

He joins her, pushing her down so she's sitting, pulling her half onto him, so he's holding her tenderly. "I asked him. And then—then I no longer wanted you gone." He kisses her, gently, the way that seems right now.

 

"Why?"

 

He closes his eyes. "Because I love you." His fingers find the meld points and he shows her, everything, pain and love and whatever she wants to see.

 

Because she is all he has left and he cannot lose her.

 

He shares and lets her hide what she doesn't wish to bring out into the open. Because she may say that she loves him best—and it's sweet and human of her to do that—but he knows it is a lie.

 

##

 

Sarek sits with me, reading Amanda's favorite book of poetry as the pain meds send me to some place soft and warm.

 

"Spock," I call out and Sarek falters.

 

"He is not here."

 

No, of course not. I told him to go. To meet with this Pardek who holds out a promise of a life after me.

 

"Christine, he should be here. You are his..."

 

But I am not. I am not his wife and I know Sarek doesn't understand how I can't be. After all these years.

 

Why has his son not bonded with the woman he clearly loves?

 

"I chose, Father." It is such a relief to call him that. And he allows it because I am dying and he loves me—possibly not in the way a father would, but we never discuss that.

 

Or the fact that the book he is reading me is full of love poems.

 

"Daughter." He says it with a certain lilt. As if he, too, appreciates the title. The ability to wrap whatever he feels for me in fatherly affection. "What do you mean?"

 

"I told him not to bond with me. He...couldn't with Jim. Not after he died and I was there. You can't bond with three."

 

Although he tried. He tried so many times and had to pull back. Jim finally told him to stop.

 

"He loves him more," I whisper, as if Sarek is a father-confessor not an ersatz father-in-law.

 

He could answer in so many ways. Tell me his son is a fool. Tell me of the strength of his own feelings. But Sarek only whispers back, "I know."

 

And I reach out for his hand. This man who reads to me of love and will not lie to me to spare my feelings.

 

"I'll miss you, Sarek."

 

"And I you, Christine."

 

##

 

Reporter: Ambassador Sarek, I wonder if I might have a moment of your time?

[Sarek of Vulcan takes in the cameras, his expression not changing in reaction.]

Sarek: The normal method is to book time on my calendar.

R: I tried that. Your assistant is an effective gatekeeper.

S: Perhaps my schedule is simply full.

R: Sir, what are your thoughts on Kirk. He gave you your son back, didn't he?

S: He did. I was grateful at the time and considered myself in his debt.

R: Is that why you spoke for him at his trial?

S: I spoke for him because it was the logical thing to do.

R: How so?

S: To lose a seasoned officer to charges that made no sense is a waste of resources.

R: I imagine you made your son happy, defending his friend.

S: If you imagine that, you do not know Vulcans well at all.

[Sarek turns to go.]

R: Sir, did you approve of your son's friendship with a man like Kirk?

[Sarek pauses, his expression becoming a thoughtful one.]

S: History will judge what kind of man he was. As for my son's associations, those are his to manage. Kirk was a man of good character. What more could a father want?

R: What do you think of Spock taking up with Kirk's girlfriend?

[Sarek turns and walks away.]

R: Well, make what you will of that. She sure does bring up some interesting responses. For Celebrities Among Us, this is Robert Allen signing off.

 

##

 

The light plays tricks on them, making them see another figure in the surf as they watch the sun sliding into the sea.

 

Spock reaches out for her. "This was his favorite place."

 

Christine holds him tightly. "Yes."

 

It's been years and yet they make this pilgrimage, as if their own love has to be renewed by some sense of what they've both lost.

 

"Do you think," she asks as she lets him pull her over into his lounge chair even though it's not really made for two, "that we would have found our way to each other if he and I hadn't...?"

 

"Not while he was alive." He doesn't turn to look at her when he answers.

 

"But after, I mean." She's not sure why she's asking. She's always known that Spock had to let her in—and how much he would have liked to have thrown her out.

 

Until she was all he had.

 

"Yes, perhaps, after."

 

He's being kind. He's capable of that. It also may be the truth. Perhaps they would have.

 

What would that have been like? To have him pursue her just for her?

 

She almost laughs. It's so unimaginable to think of him pursuing her just for her. Even if she'd never been with Jim, she was part of his crew. She was never going to not be part of James T. Kirk's orbit and therefore of interest.

 

Although by that logic, Ny would also be.

 

She stops the stupid questioning before she can ask him if he wishes Jim had chosen Ny instead.

 

She likes to pick at scabs but she draws the line at outright cutting.

 

##

 

I remember how Jim and I came together. Pain and sorrow and anger is a powerful propellant. Sex is a way to forget.

 

But it quickly changed. We'd known each too long, been through too much together—and loved Spock too much—to just let it be physical.

 

We fell in love. On Earth when he thought Spock was dead and Len was going crazy. Then later, while Spock was re-fusing and Jim was stuck on Vulcan, and I was sneaking out there. We fell in love.

 

Spock never forgave us.

 

He acts now as if he has forgiven me but I know. He never wanted me there. He accepted me because he didn't want to force Jim's hand. To this day he isn't sure Jim would have chosen him if he'd pushed him to choose.

 

To be honest, I'm not either. If only because Jim would have resented being made to choose and might have chosen me, the one who wasn't asking him to pick one and only one.

 

I'm glad Spock was afraid to make an ultimatum. I liked our arrangement better than losing Jim.

 

Even if it meant watching Spock, knowing he could feel both my interest in him and my mistrust. I stood in his way. We had several joint missions early on that I worried for my safety when I was alone with him.

 

Silly. Spock would never hurt me.

 

Knowingly.

 

Well, with malicious intent, anyway. He's off world again. Gone and Sarek is also on a mission, and I lie in this Vulcan house that will never really be my home and think of a man gone now for decades.

 

And I miss him. I've missed him since I saw that first ticker on the vid screen. "James T. Kirk gives life to save crew of new Enterprise."

 

I've been lonely since then. Spock knows that. It wasn't just that I loved Jim, but I liked him. So much.

 

I miss laughing. I miss the silly competitions. I miss drinking with him. I miss the way he fucked me—the way we laughed. Spock is so serious when he makes love.

 

He can be light; he can even make me laugh. But it's not the same.

 

Will I find Jim, once I leave this plane? Will he be happy to see me? Or just look past me and ask, "Where's Spock?"

 

 

##

 

Video Narrator: This was the touching scene today. Admiral James T. Kirk said goodbye to the man who for so many years has been by his side. A man who died saving Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise crew. [Video shows Kirk speaking, others at attention along torpedo launch track.] "We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead. And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world, a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel that sacrifice a vain or empty one... and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this. Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most...human.

 

Reporter: Thank you, Admiral, for granting us this interview.

Kirk: Where did you get that footage?

R: We have sources.

K: Anything related to our mission is...

R: The word you're looking for is restricted. If you want to dance around how you can't talk about it, we can. But I would rather hear about Captain Spock in your words.

[Kirk looks ready to get up, he swallows reflexively, then lets out a breath, audibly, a sigh of sorts.]

R: Sir? I know this is a terrible loss for you.

K: I doubt you have any idea what I'm feeing.

R: You're right. I don't. Except you're angry. And from the look of it exhausted.

K: That's just because I told your make-up person to get lost.

R: I know. It's a telling gesture.

K: Of grief? That I don't want to look like some video popinjay like you? That a little powder and bronzer won't fix what ails me? [Again Kirk seems to be thinking of leaving but finally he shakes his head.] I'm sorry. I'm usually more...diplomatic.

R: I know, sir. I've had the pleasure of interviewing you several times.

K: Right. I'm sorry, Robert. It's just... My life—my time as captain of the Enterprise—it includes him. I don't know how to be a captain anymore without him.

R: Is this really about being a captain? What about a human? What about a man losing his...

[Kirk is glaring.]

R: His friend.

K: My best friend. [Appears to be very far away, his eyes fill.]

R: Admiral?

K: I don't want to do this. You will not air this. Do you hear me? You won't.

R: Fine, Admiral. Please calm dow

[A brunette woman in a Starfleet uniform steps into the frame, keeping her face turned away from the camera. She says something to Kirk and then urges him up and they walk out of frame.]

R: Who the hell was that?

Cameraman: No idea. But she was kind of mean.

 

— Found Footage

 

##

 

Kirk sits at the campfire, pondering the odds of meeting yet another "god" on their travels. McCoy lies snoring. But Spock is sitting staring at the view, then he turns, and it's Kirk he stares at.

 

Spock rises and walks around the fire, holding his hand out to him as he would have before he died. He takes it, lets himself be pulled up and led off, away from McCoy, out of earshot.

 

He knows what Spock wants to talk about. He's known since Sybok took away Spock's pain.

 

Although he suspects that pain will return. For McCoy, it was a discrete moment and Sybok filed the sharp edges off. But for Spock? His relationship with his father? The first time he gets back in a room with Sarek that pain will come flooding back.

 

Kirk's seen it happen too many times. Been angry at Sarek too many times.

 

Finally Spock seems to think they're far enough away. "I regret that I did not know you when I was first reborn."

 

"Me, too." Would he have been able to leave Chris behind if Spock had? Three months alone with his former bondmate on Vulcan might have done Chris and him in. But Spock hadn't known him, and she'd snuck to Vulcan often, and Kirk had been so unhappy. His son had died for...a man who didn't seem to want to get to know him, much less restart what they'd had.

 

"I wish... I wish to... I miss this." His fingers reach for the meld points and Kirk shies away. "Jim?"

 

"I'm with her. I'm. With. Her."

 

"Antonia?"

 

Kirk laughs. Spock doesn't even know to consider Chris a threat. "Christine."

 

There is something he can't read on his former lover's face. Some mix of surprise, curiosity, and pure rage.

 

Does he somehow think Chris is his?

 

"You were dead. She and I were hurting. You came back and you were still dead—to me, anyway. I'm sorry, Spock, but I love her." He looks down. Why is this something he's apologizing for? He moved heaven and earth for this man. He sacrificed his ship—and almost his career, but for a fortuitous crisis that put him back in Starfleet's good graces. And Spock had stared at him as if it was nothing to him.

 

And Chris was there. And things are good with her.

 

"I see." A world of accusations are buried in those two words. Then he looks up, directly into Kirk's eyes, the way he did the first time he told him he loved him. "But she is a diversion. I am your mate. Our journey is not finished." He moves closer. "Antonia could not keep you from me. And neither will Christine."

 

"Chris isn't Antonia." Chris has no problem sharing him with the stars.

 

Spock finally seems to get it. They share a stony silence as if neither wants to be the first to speak. Spock gives in and looks down, steepling his fingers. "I...I recall a time when she was not unaware of me. Perhaps...?"

 

Perhaps. Such a tiny word to hold such possibilities.

 

"Spock, don't."

 

But Spock moves closer, runs his fingers down his cheek, then moves his fingers under his hair, rubbing the way he loves—the way he's taught Chris to do.

 

"Jim... She might welcome me."

 

He is drowning in the scent of Spock—his incense but also his own scent, burned into Kirk's memory. And his touch, God that touch. "Yes. Perhaps."

 

He is deciding their fate—and hers by extension—with two words.

 

But he feels a joy he hasn't since he lost Spock rising up. He can have them both, can't he?

 

Spock nods and moves in, kissing him softly, but quickly. Clearly respecting the line Kirk has drawn.

 

Until the line moves to let him in.

 

##

 

"Mmm, so is this the kind of welcome I get when I take down a god?" I think any god-killer should get good sex. "I like the way you think. I've missed you." You could have seen me sooner if you hadn't insisted on going camping with the boys. "I know."

 

You have a certain look, Jim. What is it you don't want to tell me? "It doesn't have to be bad." That's never a good start. "Spock is remembering...things." Oh. "No. Don't say it like that. It doesn't mean we're done." It doesn't mean—so you're back with him? Already? "No. I'm not. But..." But you want to be.

 

"Chris, lie back down. You're not hearing me." That's because you're not saying much. Other than Spock is remembering...things. Like...loving you? "Yes." Did you tell him about us? "I did. I also told him...I'm not ready to say goodbye to you." You did? "I did."

 

So what does that mean? "I'm not ready to say goodbye to him, either. He was my..." Your bondmate. I've always suspected that, Jim. "Until he died. Then it snapped. Only... There was this weird resonance." McCoy. Spock's katra. "Yeah. I guess."

 

 So...what now? "You loved him once, Chris. Can we—can we try?" We, you and I or we, the three of us? "The latter." How does that work? "I have no idea. But we're all smart people, Chris. If anyone can make it work..."

 

Will I lose you if I say no? "You'll gain him if you say yes." That's not an answer. "I know."

 

##

 

As he puts on his uniform for the launch, Kirk stands staring down at the empty bed, where his lovers should be rousing. Why did he send them off?

 

His hands tremble as he does up his jacket and fastens his boots. He can't shake the idea that it's for the last time. Which is ridiculous. Retired officers have plenty of opportunities to dust off the uniform and play "Remember when?" with former colleagues also set free by separation from the service.

 

He walks to the comm unit. There are messages from both Chris and Spock. He wonders if they realize how competitive they are over him.

 

It's wearying.

 

There. He's said it. He, the Casanova of the Federation, finds two lovers exhausting.

 

Not the sex. It's the love—having to try to love them the same, when he doesn't. Only...he's not sure who he loves more anymore.

 

Spock has grown distant having to share him with Chris. Chris often looks at him as if she's expecting the other shoe to drop—for him to tell her to leave.

 

And some days he wants to.

 

And other days it's Spock he wants to say goodbye to.

 

And the hell of it is: he's sure he could make this work on his ship. But on Earth, stuck with clean air and normal gravity, his most important decision whether he will make his eggs scrambled or over medium, he finds multi-tasking their devotion to be beyond his capabilities.

 

This is how he is, on the ground. Ask Carol or Janice or Janet. Ask Lori. Ask Antonia.

 

And he knows it'll start to show. The cracks in his veneer. The attractiveness of him as a mate lessening with each bitchy outburst, each cranky evening when he will not be cajoled by either of them.

 

They'll finally understand what he's like grounded and turn to each other and leave him alone.

 

And that will finish him off.

 

So he has to prevent that. One of them has to go.

 

He'll decide which one after the launch.

 

##

 

Reporter: Admiral Lori Ciani. You're currently the highest ranking woman in Starfleet. And you were briefly the wife of James T. Kirk.

Ciani: Not my finest hour.

R: You're willing to speak ill of him? His other exes are falling all over themselves to defend him.

C: That's their problem. I can tell you this. Jim was a man who did not belong on Earth. Up in the stars, he was the golden boy. On Earth, well, let's just say some of that sheen was fool's gold.

R: Yours was a term marriage. Was that his idea?

C: Mine. I'm cautious by nature. He wanted the real thing. I think he had no idea what he'd turn into. He was exhausted when he stepped down as captain. But once he rested up and got a taste of life at a desk—or more accurately in the countless meetings an admiral goes to—he realized his mistake. But no one goes back to the stars once they make admiral.

R: Unless you're James T. Kirk.

C: Exactly.

R: Do you wish you'd never met him?

C: No. It was fun for a while. And it was an easy ending—for me, anyway. He was surprised I chose not to renew. As a captain, he was famous for seeing things coming, but not that?

[They both laugh.]

R: During your marriage, did you spend much time with Ambassador Spock?

C: Come on, Robert. Do your homework. Spock was on Vulcan, at Gol. One more reason for Jim to be a little bitch.

R: For some reason, I didn't put those two things together. What about Doctor Chapel?

C: What about her?

R: You know she was with him?

C: I didn't really keep up with who he was with after me. I left him not looking back, you know?

R: Got it.

C: It sounds like I don't like him, and well, I actually don't. But I still admire him. At his best, James T. Kirk was Starfleet. And as a career officer, I can't help but be proud of that—of him and that I had some small part of him.

R: And then threw him back.

[Ciani laughs. The door opens and her aide gestures for her.]

C: Duty calls.

R: Thank you for your time, Admiral. [Waits until she's gone.] An interesting take on our boy, this time, right? Leave your reactions in the comments. For Celebrities Among Us, this is Robert Allen signing off.

 

##

 

McCoy is futzing around his kitchen. Putting things away, then deciding the counters look too spare so he brings some stuff back out.

 

He's still feeling giddy at the attention his colleague's post-doc student is paying him. She's young enough to be his daughter and yet she wants to spend time with him.

 

He's wise enough, at this age, to know not to assume it's for romance. But he'd welcome a protˇgˇ. Someone who looks to him, who makes him feel useful again.

 

The door chimes and he calls for it to open. She comes in and he's struck, just as he was at meeting her, by how much she looks like Nyota when they were all young. Beautiful and eager and...caring.

 

It's been a long time since he felt cared for. Jim and Scotty are gone. Spock and Christine are together and show no inclination to let anyone in. Sulu and Rand are off on the Excelsior. Uhura and Chekov on new vessels.

 

When did it all end? When did they stop being a family?

 

He wrenches his thoughts from the past and focuses on the woman in front of him. "Cara, welcome to my humble abode."

 

"Your humble abode is in one of the nicest complexes in the city, Leonard." She grins and he feels himself responding to the open good humor, parts of himself coming to life—parts that have not had much to do the last few years.

 

"Can I get you a drink?"

 

"Bourbon, right?"

 

He looks at her. "That's what I drink. You can have whatever you want. If I don't have a bottle of it, it'll be available on that thing." He waves in distaste at the synthesizer.

 

She studies his bar—far too big for a single person, but he holds out this ridiculous idea that someone may come to visit and he wants to be a good host. "You throw a lot of parties?"

 

"You know it." Bluff. It was how he lived his life these days. Never let them see how lonely he was.

 

"I'll have a single malt scotch. That's what he drank, right? Kirk?"

 

"Generally, yeah. He was slightly less single-minded than I am on that sort of thing."

 

"Like with women."

 

He stops pouring and turns to look at her. "Meaning what?"

 

"Just that variety appeared to be the spice of life for him."

 

"Darlin', you have no idea what you're talking about." If he lets himself, he can still hear the thud of a truck hitting a soft body. See Jim's expression as he kept him from saving the woman who'd helped him. His angel. Jim's love.

 

One of several, all ending badly, until he finally let Spock in. After V'ger. After stealing his ship back. But then he'd run away from Spock. They'd been going to bond and then Jim was gone, and in Idaho, with that lovely young woman who clearly idolized him, and McCoy had no idea why. Not even sharing Spock's katra had given him a clue. Spock and Jim never told him, and Christine never really forgave him enough to let him back in.

 

And she keeps Spock away. His friend, not just the friend of his friend. He misses Spock. He misses Christine far less.

 

He hands Cara her drink. "To absent friends."

 

"Tell me about him?" She seems able to read his expression, the sudden suspicion. "I wrote a paper about him. The role of the thrill seeker in early Starfleet exploration culture." She leans in. "I want to know if I got him right."

 

Maybe it's some leftover effect from sharing Spock's katra but ever since the refusion, McCoy has been able to sense lies. Not that he was bad at that before, but there's something about them now that makes his hair stand on end. He calmly sips his bourbon and says, "You wrote it—or maybe it's more like you're writing it now and I'm just research?"

 

"I wouldn't do that to you."

 

It's another lie. "Get out."

 

"Look, you knew him. Better than most. Do you really want me to rely on those who didn't for background?"

 

"Let me guess: Spock and Chapel shot you down?"

 

Cara looks down. "And Captain Sulu. Other than to say he learned everything that mattered about being a starship captain from James T. Kirk."

 

"Well there you go, then. There's your quote."

 

"You were his friend. You can give this depth."

 

He laughs. Because as usual people look at the surface picture of Jim and append "shallow" to his character. Jim was the deepest man Len has ever known. Searching for love, for a true connection with someone, not just sex.

 

Had he found it with Christine and Spock? He'd seemed...restless at the end. The same way he had with Antonia. Being on Earth was poison for Jim. Would it have destroyed the three of them if he'd lived?

 

He motions with his glass toward hers. "Drink up—or don't. Either way, we're done here."

 

She slams the glass down a little harder than necessary, splashing scotch over the side, and leaves.

 

He wipes it up, then stares around his stupidly clean apartment and wonders what he'll do with the rest of his day.

 

##

 

Reporter: We're here in Idaho, in a small town that's better known for its endless vistas than for James T. Kirk. But it was here that he found some small measure of peace. And we're going to talk to the people who knew the civilian. Thank you both for talking to me. The man to my left is Jeffrey Kirk, uncle to James T. Kirk. I'm sorry, sir. Is something funny?

Jeffrey Kirk: Yeah, the whole uncle thing. I was born years after my siblings. Jim and I practically grew up together. I was only three years older.

R: So you were more like cousins?

K: Or brothers. Yeah. I mean for a time, when we were young. Then he was off to space and I didn't see him again for years.

R: I think the young lady to my right had something to do with that? Antonia Cardwell. You were with Captain Kirk during his first retirement from Starfleet, is that right?

Antonia: It is. I thought—I guess I thought he was going to ask me to marry him. But then he went back to Starfleet.

K: It was a siren song Jimmy never seemed able to ignore.

R: Jimmy?

A: I never called him that. Jeff's little name for him. Jim hated it.

K: That he did.

R: And Antonia, how did you and Jim meet? Let me guess: he came home for a family reunion, met a stunning woman, and was smitten?

A: Hardly. I grew up with him. I mean ten years behind, but I used to chase after Jeff and Jim, trying to get them to let me play, too.

K: She did. Was a real pain.

R: So one day, Jim said you could play?

A: No, one day he came home to ride and I was in the stables and we rode out together and talked. Really...communicated, you know? In the way I'd longed to since I was a lovesick girl.

R: So it was always Jim for you?

A: Yeah. Sorry, Jeff.

K: No accounting for taste.

R: What was the thing you loved best about him?

A: His tenderness. Not just for me. For his horses, his dogs. Little old ladies crossing the street. He just...noticed, you know? He noticed and he did something.

R: And the thing you loved least?

A: That I wasn't enough.

[Jeffrey hands her a handkerchief but she waves it off.]

R: I have to ask why you didn't go with him. Back to San Francisco.

A: Share him with space, you mean? That was never the deal. He'd come home. This is where I'm from. This is where I stay.

R: And this is where you live now. You and Jeffrey got married two years ago, right?

K: That's right.

R: Was Jim at the wedding?

[Silence as Jeffrey and Antonia share a long look, and then get up, walking in opposite directions, he to the house, she to the stables.]

R: I'll take that as a no. And I guess this interview is over. Noticing a trend, gentle viewers? No one wants to talk for long about the man. It's, in the words of Kirk's best friend, fascinating. For Celebrities Among Us, this is Robert Allen signing off.

 

##

 

Kirk can feel the Enterprise-B around him like a living thing. He's done what he can and in the instant between success and the ribbon touching him, ripping him from the ship, he sees two pairs of eyes. Brown eyes, dark and dear. And blue eyes, shining and sweet.

 

What the hell was he thinking? That he'd leave one or both of them? "I'd keep you both—I love you both," he whispers even as he feels himself sucked into a place of...contentment.

 

His mind rebels. When has he ever known contentment that didn't involve a duranium hull?

 

But something is pressing down on him and he's in his house in the mountains and Antonia—Antonia?—is here.

 

Why? Why her? He doesn't love her and he never did. He ran to her when Spock...when he left Spock.

 

But he never forgot Spock, or space. Antonia never understood that. She just thought he was selfish and distracted some of the time—and joyless a lot of the rest. The same thing Lori had said, all those years ago, when Spock had left him, choosing to purge emotions rather than fall further down the emotional rabbit hole that was his life with Kirk.

 

This Antonia doesn't seem to remember any problems. Her joy is palpable—and, he thinks, fake.

 

"Chris. Spock." He says their names like a prayer, even though he never prays, but his words fade as Butler runs up to him. God, how he loved this dog. "Good boy. Good boy. I've missed—"

 

Strange. How could he miss a dog that's right where he should be. With him and Antonia, in this beautiful cabin. Starfleet finally left far behind.

 

"I love you," he hears from behind him.

 

He turns. Her gray-green eyes sparkle in the dying light.

 

He can't help but see brown, see blue. What were their names?

 

##

 

Sitting in a private chamber on a shuttle bound for Vulcan, Spock watches the footage from the Enterprise-B as Jim works on Deck Fifteen, Section Twenty-One Alpha. He's memorized the location. Has even visited it when forced to use the ship—it's not his first choice, not even with Harriman long gone and the area repaired as if nothing ever happened.

 

He knows it is not rational but he hates this ship. It killed his love.

 

"She," Jim would say. "She, not it."

 

Maybe if Jim had thought of the ship as an it, he'd be alive. Maybe it would have spared what she would not?

 

He replays the vid, over and over, like a child picking at a scab until the wound bleeds again.

 

The ship captured Jim's actions until the ribbon took him, any image of what he felt as he died obliterated by the flash as the energy collided with the ship. But before that, Spock can chart his progress from the time he left the bridge, the...smile—the "everything will be all right" smile that Spock knew cost Jim dearly at times—as he entered the lift. Spock misses that smile, and the other, more tender look that he always thought was his alone.

 

Until he saw Jim give it to Christine.

 

Christine who is dying. Who he can no longer stay away from. He owes it to her to see this through. They have chosen each other.

 

But what would life have been like if Jim had lived? Spock spends more time than he probably should considering that, imagining even.

 

He is content with Christine. He loves her. But she is not Jim and never has tried to be. She was wise to refuse the bond, even if it hurt him when she did it.

 

He turns his attention back to the vid, to the part that demonstrates what he thinks no one appreciates about Jim. The way he navigates the ship. Not his ship, either. Someone else's. Newer, things in a different place than on his Enterprise, but still, he understood ships at their most basic levels.

 

Spock doesn't think anyone other than Scott or himself could have done what Jim did.

 

Do people realize? Does Harriman realize what a gift it was to have Jim that day? Not just as the "living legend" he called him as if he was something from a bygone era.

 

It is not rational, but Spock hates Harriman almost as much as his ship. At least in this, he is not alone.

 

The video ends. He checks the shuttle's progress. He has time to indulge himself before preparing himself for being fully present for Christine. He can watch the video again.

 

And again.

 

And again.

 

##

 

Spock came home. He told the Federation he was on leave until the foreseeable future. That means until my death and the aftermath, of course.

 

But he came home. For me. And he sits and talks with me—often of Jim, admittedly, but we shared him. That's all right.

 

Sarek doesn't sit and read me love poems anymore. I think we are both relieved; our sharing was getting intense, the chemistry undeniable, and at the end, we spoke as if we were old lovers—able to share anything.

 

Including that I lied to Spock when I told him I loved him best. That Jim was the reason I stayed in our strange little trinity—the communion we had in such a short time, communion that he wasn't ready to abandon, not even for Spock.

 

I stayed with Spock after Jim because I did love him, just not better than Jim.

 

Sarek seemed unsurprised. His eyes never left my face as I told him the story. My eyes never left his.

 

Spock speaks more of Jim—things I wasn't there for. Is this a kindness or not?

 

I find myself missing Sarek's voice.

 

Irony: realizing one of the great loves of your life may have been someone you've never even kissed.

 

##

 

"My son." Spock's father seems unsure what more to say.

 

Spock settles for nodding. Even now, they can find no easy way around each other.

 

But Sarek reads it correctly. The time for Christine is short.

 

Sarek approves of Christine in a way that he never did of Jim. But Spock thinks it is because his father is in love with her. His father will never admit it, and she is too weak to meld with, but he is not blind.

 

And Christine gets a certain look when she is hiding something. Even if she does it to protect him and his father. To try to not come between them, he thinks. She's tried so hard to help them relate to each other, far more than Jim ever did.

 

But was that because she hoped Spock would become comfortable with his father or because she wanted to spend more time with him?

 

It is irrelevant now.

 

"My son. The loss, it is hard."

 

As if he doesn't know this? As if he has not already lost the love of his life? Why does his father do this? Act as if Jim was a momentary passion and not his lifemate?

 

But he does not argue. Says only, "Yes. I must go to her."

 

Sarek nods. "Of course. I grieve with thee, Spock."

 

There are so many possible responses. Cruel ones, even, and he feels anger surge—the anger of his childhood, the anger of later—but he forces it down. His father and he will never be friends, and if his father grieves, it is not for his son's pain but for a woman he has grown closer to than he should have.

 

Once Christine is laid to rest and her affairs are in order, Spock will leave Vulcan and his father, and spend time with Pardek—a man who does not find him wanting and wants nothing from him physically, seeks only a meeting of minds.

 

Spock welcomes that. He is tired of the pain that loving people brings.

 

He will turn his eye to a cause. To unification.

 

##

 

Spock is holding my hand but I'm drifting high and slowly, courtesy of the lovely drugs and my failing body.

 

There is an endless horizon, and the sun is setting. It's beautiful and I wish I could share it with him but he's squeezing so hard, murmuring for me not to leave him.

 

He was gone for months and now I am the one who must not leave?

 

I see a figure, coming quickly, Vulcan robes swishing and realize it is Amanda. I laugh and Spock says, "What is it?" but I don't answer because this may just be a fever dream or dying synapses misfiring, and I'm enough of a doctor to know it.

 

She smiles at me, then shakes her head. "Sarek loves you, but then he never could resist we Earth girls."

 

I don't answer because while the smile is the one I remember, her phrasing is something I would say—something I would hope: that he loves me.

 

But then she turns to study the horizon, and says softly. "It's beautiful, and you'll find this a nice place, but Jim's not here." She glances back and her eyes are full of sorrow. "Do not tell my son."

 

"Christine? What is it?" Spock's voice breaks with panic.

 

I'm broadcasting distress through our touch. But it's not real. It's just what I fear. That there is nothing when we die. Or that there's something, but still, Jim won't be here—wherever here is. I'll look and look and find...nothing.

 

"Christine?"

 

Amanda should fade as I feel whatever is left of my will to live, the strength this poor body has conserved, flowing out but she is getting clearer, more substantial.

 

"I'm sorry, Spock." Sorry for so many things. For leaving him alone without me or Jim. For loving him, but I fear never enough. For not being brave him enough to walk away from Jim and let Spock have his life back. Would Spock have listened to Jim about not going to the launch if I hadn't told him to honor his wishes—that the launch would be a hard time for Jim and if he didn't want us witnessing it, that was his right?

 

The thought has haunted me all these years: that I killed James T. Kirk.

 

"He's not dead," Amanda whispers as she takes my hand and yanks me out of my body.

 

I hear Spock gasp in pain as the contact between us goes dead. And then the sunset grows and grows until gold and red and orange is all I know.

 

 

##

 

McCoy sits with Spock at the memorial. So many people here for Christine. He forgets how many she helped while in ops. And then later as a doctor.

 

He remembers the nurse. Long legs and a bit of an attitude. Jim had told him her story—mostly to explain why he'd hired a nurse with no experience when it should have been McCoy's job to staff sickbay.

 

"She's looking for someone. She cares enough to look for someone. Let's let her look, Bones. It's just one nurse."

 

Just one nurse. McCoy laughs, a soft, bitter puff of air that he doesn't mean to let out, but Spock hears and looks at him.

 

"Are you all right, Leonard?"

 

Spock is being particularly solicitous of him. He's lost so much. But McCoy finds himself almost bristling. He wants to say, "Sure, now you need me. Now that everyone you loved is gone."

 

But he doesn't, because he's not at heart a cruel man even if some might say he was more blunt than was comfortable.

 

"She was loved, Spock." He couches it in the most human terms possible, and it's sort of a strike, but also the goddamned truth. This nurse with no experience and a snotty "I have more PhDs than you do" demeanor turned into a woman that people...admired. Looked up to.

 

Loved.

 

Although he's not sure if he still loved her. So much bad blood after that interview. For him and Nyota both.

 

But Spock never changed his story. They did the right thing. He has to believe that.

 

McCoy feels someone press against him on the other side. The soft touch that can only be Nyota. He turns and hugs her, getting lost in her perfume and the warmth of her skin.

 

Then she is turning, her mouth on his ear, her words so soft he barely makes them out but thinks Spock can't possibly hear her: "Do you want to have dinner tomorrow? Just us?" She pulls back and he sees something he's never seen: interest. Hope. And just a little bit of fear—like asking him this required bravery. Like it's not just dinner she's offering.

 

He grins and nods, then bites back the smile because this is a memorial and he's not supposed to be hitting on his longtime friend.

 

His longtime beautiful friend.

 

A friend who's featured heavily in some of his better fantasies.

 

He thinks the Christine he once knew—before he and Nyota hurt her—might get a kick out of this.

 

He hopes so anyway.

 

##

 

I'll be honest. It was hard watching Jim in the Nexus, once Amanda showed me where he was. The only thing that made seeing him with Antonia instead of me bearable was that he wasn't with Spock, either.

 

I don't believe Antonia's the great love of his life. I believe she's a path he might have walked had he been a different man. A path he tried to walk, far too late, when he already bled starlight.

 

And he lies now, dying by the actions he took, the risks he never thought twice about. He's a hero...again, and I can see that this new captain of the Enterprise is finally appreciating this man who has become more legend to some than flesh and blood.

 

But...I wish...I wish for Jim's sake and for Spock's that he wasn't lying, crushed by metal and rock. I wish they could have found each other one last time.

 

Does that seem contradictory? To be jealous but also generous? It is the mystery of this place. The longer I am here, the more generosity seems to overcome jealousy. Maybe that's the point.

 

I think love is something that only grows if you hold it lightly. If you understand it's more like sunshine or air than a thing. You can't contain it.

 

And I can feel the love surrounding this man I lost so many years ago. I can feel when he finally sees into the eternal.

 

He says, "Oh my."

 

I say, "Hello, love."

 

And he is, and it is hello, a new beginning, as I hold out my hand and pull him out. The young captain I first met comes out of the older body. I can tell he senses the difference, as he pats his stomach, now flat.

 

I grin, because I did the same thing. We all do. It's such a treat to be young again.

 

Only he'll discover we're not anything, really. Or maybe we're everything. We don't have to have form. But for the first greeting, after crossing over, it's just easier.

 

I did it for him without thought.

 

He kisses me and it heals something in me that's been broken after the launch. Something that kept me from giving Spock everything.

 

And then he looks around and asks the question I have known he would ask since I felt him dying.

 

"Where's Spock?"

 

 

##

 

Reporter: It's hard to believe it's been thirty years since the death of Starfleet hero—and a man still studied at the Academy—Captain James T. Kirk. Many of you may remember me as a very much younger man, brash and bold and wanting more than anything to find out the true scoop on that hero—even tarnish the sheen a bit. I never did that. So, years later and I hope wiser, I want to re-interview my next guest. As iconic as Butch's Sundance or Alexander's Hephaestion, Ambassador Spock of Vulcan was a constant fixture at Kirk's side. He's asked for this interview. So I ask, Ambassador, why a second interview, so much later?

Spock: Those who would be hurt by the things I am going to tell you are either dead or no longer care what I say.

R: You've been gone from public life for some time.

S: I was off world.

R: Grieving for Kirk a second time? We were all stunned to hear that he was alive—and then not.

S: It was jarring to me. I had said my goodbyes and yet... Truthfully, his true death was what spurred my contacting you. To...set the record straight.

R: Have you been to his grave? The cairn Picard built for him. I went. After all the time I spent reporting on him over the years, it only seemed right.

S: I moved him.

R: What?

S: That grave is empty. I moved him to the forest. To the mountains. On Earth. A place he loved.

R: You say that word so easily for a Vulcan.

S: I say it because it is accurate. Jim was human. He loved.

R: I think you also loved. Vulcan or not.

S: [Hesitates for some time.] I did. I...we were bondmates.

R: So when he died, you felt it? Why didn't you notice that he wasn't dead when he disappeared during the launch?

S: You do not understand. We were bondmates, before my death. After he came back from his short retirement. But later, we were also with Doctor Chapel. She was not lying to you.

R: And that's why she said Kirk would approve of you two taking up so soon after his death. Because you were all together anyway?

S: Precisely. But she was not the one who was with him on the ship. I was.

R: I imagine you had to hide the fact you were with him. To stay his first officer?

S: It was what we thought best. Once he retired, we were going to live as we wished.

R: The three of you.

S: Yes.

R: Did you love her?

S: I cared for her deeply.

R: Did you love Kirk?

S: Yes.

R: if one listens carefully, word choices can speak volumes.

[There is a moment of silence neither man seems eager to break.]

S: I do not wish to answer more questions. I wish to say...if I have learned to understand humans, if I have blended into a society that is counter to Vulcan, if I have extended that understanding to other cultures in my role as Ambassador, I owe all this to James T. Kirk. He made me the man I am. He...was my instructor, my mentor, my teacher, my partner, my savior, and my...my mate. It is exactly what I would expect that he did not hesitate, that he gave his life to save others. He was...he was a superior soul.

R: Soul? Do Vulcans believe in souls?

S: No. But he did. And I choose to honor him by couching it in such terms.

R: I want to think you, Ambassador Spock, for giving us this interview. I understand it must have been difficult.

S: Thank you for indulging my emotional needs.

R: But Vulcans don't have emotional needs.

S: Our propaganda has been successful. Mister Allen, again, thank you. [Spock rises and leaves]

R: Gentle viewers, consider this a lost episode of that great show Celebrities Among Us, once again: this is Robert Allen signing off.

 

Spock studies the screen in front of him. In this new reality—the one he created when he used red matter to stop a supernova and destroyed the very planet he had once hoped to reunite with his homeworld—this is the only copy of the interview because the events haven't happened yet—may never happen now.

 

His Jim would be touched that he's kept it—that he did the interview at all. This Jim—and Spock—are not ready for such a thing. They may never be ready.

 

They are not the same men that he and Jim were.

 

He takes a deep breath and hits delete. The computer asks for confirmation, then does what he asks. He erases all the other interviews, the ones done with Christine and Antonia and the rest after Jim disappeared into the Nexus.

 

This Jim has no need to know the cause or time of his doppelganger's death. Let him live his life the way he will live it, not as some hollow echo of how Spock's Jim lived his.

 

If Jim is meant to find love with this reality's Spock, then nothing will prevent it. If he is not, then nothing will make it happen. It is a philosophy Spock has learned to embrace.

 

It was what saved him when Jim left him for Antonia.

 

##

 

The small screen shows Jim backlit, a place of sun and shadows that Spock knows now was Idaho. Just seeing the opening shot of the vid sends Spock down the emotional scree that it did decades ago.

 

He hits play.

 

"Spock. I..." There is a pause, as Jim looks down, then away, then finally back on the screen. "I'm not in San Francisco. I'm not—I'm not with Starfleet anymore. I retired yesterday, but then you probably know that."

 

McCoy had been one the one to tell him. Spock still feels the pain of that choice. A decision that said clearly, "McCoy is the friend I prefer." He sees that with Jim's doppelganger, who appears to be closer to McCoy than his own Spock.

 

"I know that we said it was time. To bond. To be...one. And I relished that. You gave me the time to want it. I have— I had so much trust in you." Jim swallows hard, and Spock does the same in reflex. At the time, he had no idea why Jim had left him. Not until—"I wanted to read through my personal logs. Remember when I was just me, not us. Say goodbye to that—look to the future instead." He stares into the screen with harsh intent. "Our future."

 

Spock feels the same sensation of sudden dread. Even now, decades after his...transgressions.

 

"Spock, I found that some of my logs were...misfiled. And I found people in those logs. Losses that I was hurting over—nearly dying over. Edith. Miramanee. Rayna. I read my words and I can't remember saying them. And every time I try, I hear you. You, one word, soft in my mind."

 

"Forget," Spock says along with him.

 

A gift, he thought at the time.

 

But Jim judged the actions a crime—a trespass of the highest order.

 

It was why he'd been so vehement with Sybok, that he needed his pain. It was as much a message for Spock as for his brother.

 

"I would have given my life for you, Spock. I would have told off anyone who even suggested you could do something like this. Could...rob me of my memories."

 

Spock closes his eyes. Even now he feels the pain of that day.

 

"I can't trust you. I won't ever trust you that way. You understand, I hope. But even if you don't...we're done." He looks away, mutters, "I love you, but this is too much," and ends the video.

 

It goes black.

 

He feels a hand on his shoulder, a soft exhalation of breath. "Now you understand," he says.

 

"I'm sorry. But this Jim—he's not our Jim. You can't give the Spock of this reality that vid."

 

He reaches for her hand. "I know, Christine."

 

She squeezes. So sweet. As before, he is getting her only after she was with Jim, but it was not his Jim and she did not come between her Jim and his doppelganger. She was just another notch on the belt of this Kirk.

 

And now she is his.

 

"Computer," he says, his voice nearly all rasp. He has so little time, even if this Christine keeps him comfortable enough with painkillers to make the end seem like it is not hovering over him as he makes these last final acts. "Delete video."

 

"Are you sure you wish to delete this video?" the computer asks.

 

"Yes."

 

"Video deleted."

 

She puts her head on his shoulder. "I'm sorry."

 

He showed Christine the video so she would continue to stay away from her Jim. So she would understand what was possible—how much the man she considers a cad can feel, only not for her.

 

He goes quickly through the rest of the vids, as she sits cuddled against him. She does not know it, but before he called her in, he erased any trace of her relationship with Jim. Not because he is jealous—even if he knew his Christine always loved Jim best.

 

He has given up things like jealousy. He loves his Jim—will always love him. Mourned him twice: when he disappeared and later when Spock heard from Picard that he'd been found, alive, still young, in the Nexus.

 

And died again. Saving others.

 

Some destinies could not be denied.

 

But this Jim of this reality, as fond as Spock is of him, is not his Jim. And he feels no obligation to set this Spock on a path toward Jim when he seems to have found happiness with Nyota.

 

Just as he feels no need to send this Spock toward Christine. The picture of the crew that he is sending his younger self does not have her in it. There were other options that did and he destroyed them all.

 

Let them forge their own path. Not live the lives of ghosts.

 

Except. "Christine, how do you find Sarek?"

 

"He's sad. He's on Earth now. Maybe...maybe that will help."

 

He almost smiles. This version of the woman he loved is as perceptive as his Christine when it comes to reading his father.

 

"I will be gone soon."

 

"Don't talk about that."

 

"Christine, we must. My time is imminent. I would like you to make sure this box gets to Spock. Can you do that?"

 

"Do I have to see Kirk?"

 

He allows himself a smile. "No. You do not."

 

And some small part of him is glad they will never come together. He will do more to keep them apart—to keep Kirk free of her. To remove her from the playing field, he will say this: "Once you have given Spock the box, would you check on my father? He is a stubborn man, and I am concerned for his well being."

 

"You called him your father."

 

Spock frowns. "So I did. The timelines merge in my mind."

 

She sighs. "I'm sure they do." She turns his face to hers, kisses him, even though she sparkles with youth and he will be dead in hours: as any Vulcan could, he can feel his body starting the somber process of shutting down. There are meditations he could employ to slow the dying, but he does not wish to.

 

"Spock, you never tell me to do something without a reason. What's the reason?"

 

"I believe my father loved my Christine. I believed she loved him back."

 

She looks angry. "An affair? When she was with you?"

 

"Nothing so trite. A...chaste love. One of true regard. Would you spend time with Sarek? I believe you would both benefit from continued association."

 

She is crying. "I don't want to leave you. I don't want you to go."

 

He smiles. Theirs has also been a chaste love. His age and infirmity prevents physical expression and he thinks that is good. Let his father—or this facsimile thereof—enjoy her.

 

Or let someone else entirely. However it ends up for her, it is not Spock's right to claim her when she is just starting her life, even if he could not keep himself from reaching out for her companionship.

 

"Will you go to him Christine?"

 

"I'll consider it."

 

The words echo, it is what his mirror image told Jim. He smiles, a true smile, and realizes he is having trouble breathing.

 

"Spock hold on. I'll get my kit and—"

 

"No. No. Let me go. I am ready." He has been ready for so very long.

 

Already his vision is blurring, darkness pushing in from the sides like a pinhole camera of old. He feels a sharp pain in his abdomen, his heart giving out finally.

 

"Spock." Christine sounds broken, and she says it again and again, but then he realizes it is no longer Christine he is hearing.

 

The darkness is receding. He stands and his body obeys as it did when he was young. No considering the best way to move, to preserve dignity and not strain something.

 

"Spock!"

 

That voice. He whirls, just as he did in sickbay, after the Pon Farr, the time he thought he'd killed the man he loved. And just as then, he grins and yells, "Jim!" And grabs this man he loves more than anyone he's ever known by the shoulders, clutching—holding on for dear life.

 

If life is what this even is.

 

"Took you long enough." Jim has tears in his eyes, but Spock knows they are the kind he sheds when he's happy.

 

Spock looks around, surprised there's no Christine to also welcome him.

 

"Our girl said you'd rather just see me."

 

"She was right." Is it wrong to admit that? Although the idea of lying—of covering the truth with diplomatic digressions—is abhorrent to him at this moment.

 

"She usually is. She'll get her turn with you." Jim cocks his head, studying him, the fond grin—the one that is about to turn into a laugh—on his face. "Aren't you going to kiss me?"

 

And Spock does. Losing himself for a long moment in the sensation he thought forever lost to him. But as he's kissing Jim, he thinks of his katra, also lost, dying with no one to carry it forward. The Vulcans whose katras were preserved will not be here. Except for Sybok. "Is Sybok here?" he asks when Jim finally pulls away.

 

"Never let it be said you can't spoil a mood, Spock. Even in...the afterlife." He shrugs. "I confess that finding Sybok was not high on my to-do list. Your parents are here, though."

 

That his mother might be here doesn't surprise him. But—"My father is here?"

 

"Yes. Christine spends time with Amanda and him."

 

Spock decides not to mention why that might be. He waits to see if secrets are wrong in this place but feels a friendly nudge, as if a secret designed to spare feelings is appreciated.

 

He also senses that love is not quite what he thought—that it is less bounded, that there is a freedom of expression that transcends the idea of mine and ours and even "with."

 

Jim leans in, resting his forehead on Spock's shoulder. "I could watch you whenever I wanted to. To go back to when we were young like you did—to see yourself—and me—change so much. It must have been...unreal."

 

"It did feel that way at times."

 

"Didn't stop you from finding a young version of our woman. I guess the me of that reality really screwed things up with her?" At Spock's nod, he went on, "Why didn't you nudge that Spock toward that version of me? It makes me sad—the things they'll miss."

 

Spock decides not to tell him that he has done what he could. "If they are meant to find each other as we did, Jim, they will."

 

Jim's smile is luminous. "I've missed that wisdom."

 

"I have missed that smile."

 

For a moment they stare helplessly, then they grab hands and stride out into the soft golden light, Jim leading as always, and he swings Spock's arm as they go.

 

It is most unVulcan. Spock doesn't mind at all.

 

 

FIN