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) 2014 by Djinn. This story is Rated R.
He's not sure why he's on this deck, why he's walking past crewmen, nodding and smiling as if he's always headed to her quarters. Hello, Captain. Good evening, Captain.
Nice day for a goddamned stroll, Captain?
He rings for entrance, has to ring twice more before she opens the door.
Her makeup's a mess and her eyes are red, but she moves aside, and it feels right to pull her into his arms once the door closes, to say, "I'm sorry, Chris," even though he's her captain and should not be here.
Even though she'd probably prefer it to be Spock.
But Spock wasn't on the planet and Kirk was, and Chapel's fiancˇ is dead because of him, even if her fiancˇ is also dead because he was an android, and an evil one at that.
"I fucked him—it." The words are raw but he knows why she says it just that way. She doesn't want to think of the android as her Roger or what they did as making love.
"You didn't know."
"I should have." She pulls out of his arms. "It was kind of you to come. I don't want to keep you."
So formal, and he wonders if it's because she's friends with Janice, who he knows is in love with him. Or if it's because she can't let go the way the way she needs to with him in the room.
Or if he's not wanted. "I'm sorry. I just thought you might need some..." He turns and is almost to the door when she says, "Stay? Please."
He stops but shakes his head. "I think you were right. I should go."
"Don't. Don't go." He hears the sound of clothing being dropped onto the floor, and then she is behind him, arms snaking around his waist, saying, "I don't want him to be the last thing I was with."
He turns and she's naked and appealing despite the fact that she's crying again. She lifts her face to him and it's an easy thing to let her kiss him, to drop his arms down and run his hands up and down her back.
It would be an even easier thing to let her take off his uniform the way she's trying to. "No, Chris. No."
"I need you. I need your help."
He sees hurt change to anger, and she strides away, grabbing clothes, pulling them on, her shirt ending up backwards.
"Fine. There are plenty of men who want me." She tries to get past him, but he won't move; he shakes his head and leads her to her bed.
"Put your arms up." He is smiling gently as he lifts her shirt off just enough to turn it so it's facing the right way, then he drops it down over her, trying not to see her breasts, to think how easy it would be to—
He does let himself touch her hair. "Lie down."
She sniffs, and her anger seems to turn to a more resigned irritation. "I could find someone."
"I'm sure you could. Many someones who would be very happy to help. It's not what you need."
"What do I need?"
"To sleep. Now lie down." He pushes her down. "Come on, pretend it's an order. Face the wall."
She finally does as he says, and he lies down behind her, knowing she can feel that he wants her, knowing she needs to feel that, even if he's not going to do anything about it. He spoons her and lets her talk about Roger, how they met, how they fell in love. He strokes her hip until she winds down and is silent, until her breath changes to that of sleep.
It would be so easy to fall asleep with her. He wants to. He wants to wake up with her. And be with her. To make her naked, to make her happy.
He eases away, murmuring, "I'm sorry, Chris." For Roger. For refusing what she's offered.
He watches her sleep for a moment longer, then heads for the door, conscious of what he is giving up, also conscious that it has to be done.
He doesn't sleep with members of his crew. No matter how good they look naked. No matter how much he wants to make their hurt go away.
He takes a deep breath and goes back to his quarters. Alone again.
I'm sorry, sir.
It's all right.
No, it's not all right. I should never have done that. I—
I said it's all right, Chris. It never happened.
Okay. Thank you.
He sits in his quarters, doing nothing, staring at the wall, legs pulled up to his chest, his bed feeling like it belongs to someone else after his time on Earth.
The squeal of brakes, of tires sliding over concrete, of the thump a human body makes when it collides with a truck.
He could have saved her.
His chime sounds, and he is almost glad for it, the anger pulsing under his grief needs someone to be stupid enough to want in. "Come."
He expects Bones. Perhaps Spock. Not Chapel.
"I come bearing sedatives." She holds the hypo up carefully as if he's a wild animal she's afraid of startling. "How long has it been since you slept?"
How long has it been since he let the woman he loved die?
"I don't want any damn drugs."
"Sir, Doctor McCoy has been monitoring you since you all got back. If you don't sleep tonight, he'll relieve you of command. I know you don't want that."
Relieve him of command? This ship—this ship that ceased to exist because Edith lived—is all he goddamn has.
"Sir." She crouches next to the bed, lower than him, not a threat. "Please let me help you."
He is helpless against those words. He can feel his eyes filling, blinks furiously, as if will alone can stop this pain. But her meds can. For a while, anyway.
He thrusts his arm out to her, stabs out the words "Do it" as if they are knives.
There is a hiss, nothing like the squeal of brakes, the screech of tires, the thud of a body.
Long dead. So long dead now.
"I'm very sorry, sir." She is easing him down, pulling back covers, and getting him into bed.
He reaches for her, grabs her elbow, pulling her half onto the bed. "I loved her, Chris. I loved her and she's gone."
The blackness claims him before he has to feel anything else.
I owe you.
No, I owed you, sir.
Jim. Call me Jim.
In private, maybe. I don't want to explain to Doctor McCoy why I suddenly get to be so informal.
No, I guess not. Thank you.
You're welcome. Jim.
He's walking through the lower decks again, to her quarters and he's almost there when he sees her talking to a crewman in the corridor. She looks up, a look of surprise on her face, and he turns on his heel and hightails it back to his quarters where he belongs.
He doesn't have to wait long for the chime. "Come."
"Were you on your way to see me?" She sits on the bed, crossing her legs.
He could pretend to be enthralled with the vid on his terminal, the vid he left when he had the sudden urge to find her, but he thinks they are past such games. He finally nods.
"The last time I was in here, you'd lost your love. You don't look like that."
Is that judgment? A criticism? He stares hard at her, but her expression is easy, more curious than anything. Then she smiles. "You weren't you. You were Kirok, the god."
"She died carrying my child. I feel like... I should feel more than I do."
Chapel makes a "What can you do?" face, and he laughs bitterly, a short puff of air.
"I loved her. I just feel so distant from the man who was with her." Distant. But not better. He thinks that man might be the happier of them. Living primitive, loving his woman, watching his child grow up.
Not like David. This child he'd have raised right. Only that version of him would never have known his child had a half brother.
"I have a son," he whispers into the silence she has let settle over them. "I never see him. His mother..." He takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly. "She made me choose. Space or them."
"I'm so sorry."
"I probably wouldn't be much of a dad." He's trying to throw off this pain—pain that feels stronger than what he feels for Miramanee and his dead child. Why should David hurt worse than that?
"You'd be a wonderful dad, Jim." The sound of his name surprises him. She never uses it, even though he told her she could. "You can talk to me, you know? About your son. About what you just lost. I'm here. I came."
She's here. She came. It means the world. But he can't. Talking means hurting, and he needs to move on, to be the strong captain everyone needs.
She seems to realize that. "Okay." With a sad smile she gets up. "I'll leave you alone, sir."
"Chris, wait." He's not sure what he wants from her, except to not be alone. "Chess?"
"That's Spock's gig." She eyes the cribbage board he has on his shelf. "I'm pretty good at making fifteen, though."
"Well, let's test that out."
She sits, and they cut for the deal. He wins. He doesn't win the game, though. She pegs like a demon.
"Best of five?" he asks with a grin as she starts to get up.
She sits back down, her eyes gentle. "Why not."
Look who's in the rec lounge with no chess partner.
Look who brought the cribbage board with him.
Really. Unless you're afraid you won't play as well in public. Maybe you're a big chicken when there's a potential audience for your defeat.
Oh, it's on, buddy. And my defeat? Who kept making it best of seven, best of nine, best of eleven?
I did not think you could win that many in a row. Luck—
Luck, my ass. Pure talent, sir.
Jim. Now, deal.
He is, once again, hurrying to her quarters. Only this time he's doing it while reciting the alphabet. Anything to keep the kironide in his system from manifesting in one hell of a hard on—shit. A, B, C, D—
He slams his hand down on the chime. Hits it again, hoping his desperation isn't manifesting in items flying all over her quarters the way they did in his.
He hits the chime again and then realizes Spock might be in there. Oh, hell, what if he's—
The door is opening and she takes one look at him and yanks him inside. "The kironide?"
"Yes. Sweet Jesus, yes." He reaches for her cheek, let's his fingers slide down it, skin on skin, soothing and arousing both. "Spock and that poker. I thought he was going to..."
"I know. Me, too." She moves closer. "I was actually jealous of Ny."
"Were you? I mean...you've wanted him for so long."
"He's not the only one I've wanted." She pushes him into the room, toward the bed, and he knows he should resist and leave—he does not sleep with his crew—but he feels as if he will come apart if he doesn't have sex.
But what if Spock shows up? "Spock?"
"What, you want to go to him instead?" She is laughing as she begins to take off his uniform.
"No. If he's feeling this, too. He'll be here."
"Wouldn't that be fun?" She is still laughing. "He came into sickbay when we first got back. The kironide made him nauseated, not horny. The one time I bet he wished he weren't Vulcan."
"I guess so." He is naked and Jim Junior is on red alert. He thinks he is blushing. "I shouldn't—we shouldn't—"
She pushes him onto the bed, then begins to take her clothes off. Slowly. Sexily.
Damn it all, he should go.
But she is crawling on top of him, and kissing him, and then pulling away to murmur, "You have a medical condition. I'm a nurse. This is therapy." And that makes sense. Yes, he's here because—
Oh, holy God. Therapy has never felt like this.
She moans, and he thinks she's feeling the same thing.
She arches her back, whispers, "This doesn't have to mean anything, Jim, but I'm going to help you, okay?"
He nods and she relaxes the death grip she's got on his shoulders—does she think he's going to push her off? Even if he wanted to, there's no way he could with this much need coursing through him.
He rolls her over, and she smiles. "You're not getting away, Chris."
"I don't want to get away."
And then they quit talking, too lost in kissing and exploring and trying as many positions as his kironide-charged body demands. Hours later they fall asleep, and he wakes in her arms.
He could leave, he should leave and let her wake up alone, send the message that this won't happen again, but he can't do that to her. So he kisses her awake. "I have to go."
"I'm very sorry to hear that. But I understand."
"This won't... We can't..."
She nods. "I know."
Jim Junior is screaming for another round with her—no kironide making him do it, just pure desire. Kirk ignores his need, dresses, and gets the hell out of her quarters.
Avoiding me, sir?
I could ask you the same thing. Haven't seen you in the rec lounge lately.
Been working on my medical school application package.
I'm sorry. I didn't mean that to come out so...mean. It's just...I need—
No, I get it.
I thought it would be easier. To forget, I mean.
I know. It's hard to not have that. What?
You've hardly been alone. Lots of planets with oh-so-pretty women.
That doesn't mean I don't think of you. You may be the reason I'm so diligently not alone.
That almost makes it okay. I see Spock at the door. Your chess game awaits.
Chris. I'm sorry.
Don't be. It was fun, right?
He is walking for the last time to her quarters. She'll be leaving the ship in two days. Her party is tomorrow night. He has no idea how late it will go, which is why he's going to see her now. Just in case her goodbye party lasts until it's time for her to beam off.
He hits the chime, and his smile fades at the possibility that Spock might be inside. But she opens it and it's clear that she's alone.
She moves aside. "You want to watch me pack?"
He waits until the door has closed to say, "I'll help you pack if it means you'll be mine for the rest of the night."
She turns and studies him. "Just for the night?"
"You want a promise? More than that?" Can he make her one? He'd like to, but can he keep it? She'll be on Earth; he'll be out here.
She moves closer. "I meant: don't you want tomorrow night, too?"
"Oh. Yes. But I didn't want to assume Spock wouldn't have an epiphany."
She waves that idea off and goes back to moving things from her drawers to shipping cartons. "I don't expect anything beyond tomorrow."
"Maybe you should?" He reaches for an empty carton and hands it to her before she can ask. "Maybe we both should?"
"Jim, please don't take this the wrong way but after Roger, after everything I went through with him, the not knowing—I don't want to do long distance again. I don't think it'd be good for me."
He nods. It hurts, though. Even if he's not sure it would work for him, either. "Do you want me to leave?"
She smiles at him, a sweet smile, one he's going to miss. A lot. "Why would I want you to leave?"
He shrugs and settles in, watching her finish the packing, then smiling as she begins to unfasten her uniform. He is up and to her before she can get very far.
"Oh, I'm sorry, did you want to do this?"
"Yes." He takes his time. Something he didn't do in the rush of the kironide-induced need. He pushes her onto the bed and uncovers little bits of her, kisses and sucks and makes her laugh. She tries to undo his uniform and he moves away from her questing hands, keeps going slowly, down and down and—
"Holy shit. You know, I thought I made you better in my mind."
He doesn't stop what he's doing, just reaches up for her hand and gives it a squeeze in answer. No, she didn't imagine this. They really are this good together.
She is bucking beneath him and he rides it out, never letting up until she whimpers. He kisses his way back up her body, finally reaching her lips, and they kiss for a long time and then he rolls so she's on top of him, moving until they're together.
Damn. So good. He closes his eyes as she rides him, trying to memorize this, figure out why it feels any different than the sex he's had with other women. Why is Chris special?
Is it just because he has her and can't have her all at the same time? He's broken his rules for her but just enough to make it hurt.
She stops moving, and he groans in complaint. Leaning down to kiss him, she taps his forehead. "Too much thinking going on. Focus on me."
"Then less focus." She grins and goes back to what she was doing, and he stops worrying about why it feels so good or how it can't last.
They're doing this. That's enough for now.
You didn't have to come down to say goodbye.
Yes, I did. You aren't beaming off my ship without me here.
I'm going to miss you.
I'm going to miss you, too. Good luck in medical school. Only you don't need luck. You'll knock 'em dead.
Luck is good. Talent can't do everything.
Don't I know it?
Okay. I guess I should get on the pad now.
I guess you should. I'll miss you.
You said that already.
He is angry, angrier than he's been in a long time and that's saying something, since he spends most of his time irritated now that he's left the ship and taken a desk job. Sold his stars to become an admiral. Then sold his soul to the witch who let him get all the way to the magistrate's office only to find out she wasn't renewing their marriage.
Whoever thought up term marriages should be keel hauled. In space.
A crowd spills out onto the sidewalk ahead. Laughing and people hugging. What the hell do they have to be so goddamned happy about? He is winding his way through them, when he hears, "Jim?"
He turns, and something on his face makes Chris back up, say, "I mean, Admiral Kirk."
There are people looking at him, people watching them both. Where the hell has she been while he was wasting time with Lori?
She moves toward him. "Are you all right?"
He can feel his jaw clench, knows raw fury is in his eyes. She turns to the people around her, says, "I'll see you later."
There are calls of "We did it!" and "Good luck!" and then she is walking next to him, her hand on his arm, being pulled in his wake as he resumes the pace to—where? Home? Where Lori still is. Lori who checked "Do Not Renew" on the form and couldn't be bothered to fucking tell him?
He slows down once they are out of range of the others. "What the hell were you celebrating?"
"Med school graduation. Don't bother to congratulate me. You're in a hell of a mood."
He frowns, can feel some of the anger dying. "I dragged you away from your party."
"No, it was a bunch of us celebrating. I chose to leave." She turns them so they are headed off in a new direction. "What's the problem, Admiral?"
"You sure I won't get my head bitten off?"
He nods. "Sorry about that. It's been a bad day. Hell, it's been a bad year and a half."
"When I heard you were back, I came to see you but you were with her. Your wife. Pretty woman."
"She is not my wife as of today."
"Ah. The source of your anger. I take it you were on your way home."
He nods. "Only, I don't have a home." His voice breaks on "home" and he coughs, trying to cover the emotion.
"No home. No ship. No Spock. No woman." She leans her head on his shoulder but her tone is cruel. "I sure am glad I'm not you."
He can't get a read on her. She's flirtatious and bitchy all at once. "What are you doing?"
"Me? I'm headed to the next party. What do you think IÕm doing, Jim? Taking you home after you didn't even bother to look me up now that we're both at Command?"
He can feel his face turn red, the anger comes flooding back. "I don't owe you anything, Nurse Chapel."
"You sure don't. And it's Doctor, now. Or did you miss it when I said this was med school graduation night?" She lets go of his arm. "Not hard to see why your wife wanted out."
He wants to say something quick and sharp and hurtful back, but she's right. It's not hard to see why his wife wanted out.
He hates it here. He hates himself here.
She points to a bar across the street. "This is my stop."
"Okay." He tries to pull in the anger and hurt and disappointment in how his life has gone. "I am proud of you. IÕm sorry if I ruined your evening."
"You didn't." And then she is gone.
Just like Lori.
He turns into the first bar he comes upon, finds a willing young woman, and spends the night with her. He'll worry about where home is tomorrow.
Do you have a minute, sir?
Come in, Chris.
IÕm sorry. I was hurt—I guess I thought you'd look me up, and you didn't, and then last night.
I get it. Believe me. I'm no one's prize these days.
But I was mean. And you didn't need that.
It's not your job to take care of me. In fact, I understand you'll be taking care of Will. Quite the coup as a lieutenant: CMO of the flagship.
What does that mean?
Exactly what you think it does.
Wow. Okay. I guess we're even now on the being bitchy front. Happy?
No, Chris. That's the whole problem. I'll never be happy here. But it's not your problem. Be thankful. You'll be out there, with my ship, and you won't have to watch me fall apart.
Maybe you wouldn't fall apart if I was with you?
Maybe you give yourself—and me—more credit than you should. I'm afraid I have a meeting, Doctor. It was wonderful to see you. Good luck on the Enterprise.
Thank you, sir. I'll show myself out.
She is throwing things into shipping cartons; he used his bypass to get into her quarters after she ignored repeated chimes. "Get out, Jim."
"Your request for transfer has been approved. Bones just told me. He's disappointed but understands why you might not want to be trapped in our 'been there, done that' world."
"Fine. Great. Get out."
He sits instead. She's got the CMO's quarters; she never moved out of them when Bones came aboard, and he admires her balls. "You just can't pack fast enough, can you?" He remembers another time he watched her pack. Back when they were friends. Or...whatever they were. He's not sure now.
Why didn't he look her up when he got back to Earth? He was dazzled for a while by the gleam of being an admiral, of hanging around other admirals, who for once seemed to like him, to respect him. And Lori was their darling. To get her...quite the prize.
Chapel didn't stand a chance. Even if she'd have probably been better for him.
"You're really just going to sit here? Do I have to call security?"
"That would be interesting. Wonder what they'd do?" He grins and he's not sure how mean the look is.
She laughs, grudgingly, and goes into the bathroom. He can hear more items being packed up.
When it's clear she's not going to come out until he leaves, he gets up and stands at the door, watching her work. "Sorry about Will. Another lover lost to space."
She turns and slams her fists down onto his chest. "He was not my lover. Why do you think he was?"
He catches her hands, stops them from pounding on him—she's actually hurting him—and pushes her against the wall. "I just know."
"You don't know anything. I knew his father. He was a family friend—my dad was in the Corps of Engineers."
It all suddenly makes sense. Matt was assigned to an engineering ship early in his career. "So you and Will..."
"Saw each other every summer once he came along. Obviously I was older." She pulls away. "He was like my little brother."
"Chris, I'm sorry. I saw the assignment and assumed."
"Why? Because I slept with Roger and I slept with you?" She jams a finger in his chest. Hard. "I earned everything I got with Roger, and I don't mean by sleeping with him. That came later. And you—have I ever asked you for anything? What has sleeping with you gotten me except a tirade on what should have been a happy night? Screw you." She punctuates every other word with the finger in his chest and he lets her.
He deserves this.
Suddenly, she turns away, her accusing finger gone, and he realizes she is crying.
"Chris, no. IÕm sorry." He pulls her to him, her back against his chest and he kisses her neck and hears her moan. "I've been...lost. I'm sorry. I've been...not myself. But now I've got the ship. And you can stay. You can stay and—"
"No, I can't stay. Because nothing has changed. I was medical before. And you wouldn't be with me." She turns and seems to be studying him, but he's not sure what she's trying to see. "I can't do this again. You've got everything back: your ship, Spock, your home."
"You'll have plenty. You always do."
"Women plural is not the same as woman singular." He knows it's a bad idea but he's easing her out of the bathroom, toward her bed.
He can see in her eyes that she knows it's a bad idea, too, but she's pulling his uniform off and then her own, she's falling back onto the bed and pulling him with her.
And there...a few easy steps and they are together again. He closes his eyes and loses himself in the feel of her. He hears her crying and doesn't want to see, keeps his eyes closed until he has to look at her, as she arches beneath him, as she cries out.
As she sighs.
He rolls off her and stares as the ceiling. "Should I go?"
She finds his hand, squeezes it. "We have the night. We might as well use it."
So, this again? Seeing me off?
You, me, Rand fuming in the corridor—not quite old times.
She's transferring off, too. Not that she'll be talking to me after the way you asked her to give us the room.
Don't be. She'll get over it. She doesn't hold grudges very long.
I wish you would stay.
Nice words. But, you don't. Not really. Don't say you'll miss me. You had eighteen months on Earth to see me and you never bothered.
I got married.
Like I said.
Good luck, then.
You, too, Jim.
He is walking through Starfleet Command like a zombie, like someone brought him back from the grave and told him to move but not where or why. Or how—how the hell does he get through this without Spock? With Bones out of his mind?
"Jim." Her voice is soft, but her hand is firm as she takes his arm and pulls him away from the brightly lit hallway. She leads him to somewhere quiet and dark, somewhere he's not sure he's ever been.
"Where are we?"
"I practically live at Command these days. All us Ops folks know the out-of-the-way places you can decompress without anyone finding you." She moves closer to him. "I'm so sorry."
"I need you to look at McCoy." He's wringing his hands, like some old, worried woman and he thinks of how Khan would laugh if he could see that. It was bad enough having to wear his glasses in front of him, that look of amusement on his face.
Khan. Damn him. Damn him to five thousand more hells than he's already in.
"Jim, let's go." She's pulling on his arm, making him stand. "You're coming home with me."
"I don't have a home." But he does. He has his apartment. The ship wasn't his: it was Spock's and the cadets'. He just had temporary custody. And he brought her home broken and burned.
"When did you last sleep?"
He makes a strange sound, sort of a huff, a helpless "I don't know" noise that scares him. When did he sleep last?
She gets him up and moving toward the exit, then takes out a communicator and says, "Chapel to Cartwright."
"Cartwright here. I thought you were getting dinner?"
"Change of plans. A mutual friend needs my help."
"I'm okay," Kirk says, loudly enough that Matt can hear him.
"Understood. I'll get someone to cover your station. Take good care of him."
"Will do my best." She stashes the communicator and pulls Kirk in her wake, like he's caught in a tractor beam, unable to do more than drift as she hails a flitter and says, "Your place or mine, Jim?"
"Mine." He wants to be in his bed. He wants to be home. As much as that apartment can be called home with no ship and no Spock. But Chris is here. Now, when he's lost everything else, does he have her?
"Yours it is." She gives the flitter his address and he wonders how she knows it. But then he knows hers, even if he hasn't been to visit since he left Antonia and came back to Starfleet.
Why is he always picking women who aren't Chris? Where are they? She's here and she's being nice to him, and she knew Spock and the ship and what they mean to him. Why does he keep walking away from her? Or is it that he never walks toward her?
"I love you," he says, and it seems to fill the silence in the flitter.
"You are wiped out and you've been through hell. Tell me that in the morning." She leans in and kisses his cheek. "But for what it's worth, I love you, too."
"We should check on Bones."
"We will. In the morning. It's late, Jim. We don't want to disturb him."
Of course they don't. What is he thinking? "We'll go in the morning." Finally: a plan.
The flitter stops, and she pushes him gently out. He takes her hand and brings her into his building, into the elevator and down the hall on the top floor to his apartment. He palms them in and walks to the window; she comes with him, not fighting what he wants.
"Beautiful view," she says softly. "Jim, you need sleep."
He hears the whir of something, looks down to see she has a scanner. "Where did that come from?"
"I'm still a doctor. Even if I don't practice right now." She sighs. "You haven't eaten. You haven't slept. And you're dehydrated." She pulls her hand free, walks to the kitchen, and pours a big glass of water. "Here. Drink up."
He does what she says because he's suddenly overpoweringly thirsty.
She roots around in his chiller, pulls out some cheese and cuts some hunks off. "Eat."
"You're really bossy." He's feeling more himself though. With water, and food, and soon sleep, and a plan.
"Now, you're going to bed."
"We're going." He takes her hand. "You sleep here." His sentences are coming out rather cave-man-ish, but he doesn't care. When he thinks she's going to argue, he pulls her close, puts his arms around her, and gives her the best kiss he's capable of.
She kisses him back, probably a much better effort than what he's giving her, but she's not about to drop. "Fine, I'll sleep here."
"You don't have someone at home, do you?"
She rolls her eyes. "When do I ever?"
He wonders if she's been waiting for him. Or Spock, probably, is more like it. She loved Spock first.
But maybe she loves Kirk best. He wants to think so.
"Come on, sweetheart. Let's get you to bed." She follows him into the bedroom, pulls her clothes off and then his. "Get in bed."
He crawls in, feels the softness of sheets and blankets and can't remember the last time he was horizontal. Stupid. He's needed. Bones needs him. He can't get this tired again.
She gets in on the other side of the bed and says, "Roll over."
He does and she spoons him, a reverse of the first time, when she lost Roger and he went to comfort her. "I've loved you since that first time," he says.
"Mmm hmmm." She is clearly not believing him.
He's too tired to argue. She's warm and soft and she's keeping him safe. And she's not going anywhere. He gives up to sleep, is gone in moments.
When he wakes up, he's alone in bed. But he can hear her out in the kitchen. Making breakfast from the sound of it. Bones. They're going to see Bones. She'll help.
That thought may just make this bearable.
I have to go. I can't explain why.
Go. Go where?
It's for Bones. And for Spock.
You're not making any sense. Let me call Matt.
No. Don't call anyone. No one can know. Please, Chris. Trust me?
Jim, there's nowhere to go.
Yes, there is. There really is. I wanted...I wanted to say goodbye this time. And I love you.
Jim, you're just ti—
No, I'm not just tired, and it's not the grief or the stress. I know I've fucked this up a thousand ways from Sunday, but I love you, and I want to try. When this is over and I'm back. I want to try, all right? Please say all right.
He hears Bones say, "Well, will you look at who's darkening our nonexistent Vulcan doorway" and glances up.
Chris is striding her way across the Vulcan sands, waving to Uhura and Sulu who are working on the side of the bird of prey, then giving Bones a huge hug. "You had us all worried."
"I had myself worried, darlin'. It was no picnic having him in my head."
Kirk takes a deep breath and then points up. "Spock's up there."
She doesn't even look. "Didn't come here for Spock. Came here for you."
Bones stands and says, "I'm going to give you two a little privacy." Then he skedaddles but not without shooting Kirk a look that says, "We will discuss this at a later date."
"Jim, your big plan went to shit." She sighs and takes his arm, turning him away from the bird of prey, and away from where Spock stands his unnerving vigil. "And your son. I'm so sorry."
He nods, unsure what to say. It's a raw wound that David's gone before he had a chance to really get to know him. "Does Starfleet know you're here?"
"Starfleet thinks I'm about four systems over, at a spa on Devulia. I had to ride some not so savory forms of transport to get here. I'm hoping Sarek can get me a nicer ride back."
"You're in deep shit, Jim. You need him to testify for you." She suddenly laughs and pulls out a small paper card. "And this guy, who is a little older than I'd probably want my legal representation to be, says you're pretty well screwed but if you want to fight city hall, he's your man."
He looks down, see Cogley's name on the card, and laughs. "He got me off once." He pulls her into his arms, not caring who's watching. "I got Spock back. Bones is sane again. The ship was being mothballed. What can they do to me that will hurt as much as losing my two best friends?"
She looks down and he can guess why.
"I haven't lost you or you'd be included in that list. I haven't lost you, have I?"
"I am not missing the famous Devulian mud treatment because you've lost me."
He smiles, feeling his world go back another notch toward normal. "It means the world that you came."
She kisses him. A long, very sweet kiss. "This world? This dusty, craphole—don't tell anyone I said that, but come on."
He laughs. He's been thinking the same thing. It might seem rosier if the friend he risked everything for actually seemed to know him.
"Do you have a room here or something? I was scared to death you were going to die and we wouldn't get to...try. Isn't that what you wanted?"
He smiles and leads her off to the stairs that go up to the quarters he's been given. "I did say that."
She is in his arms as soon as he closes the door; their clothes are off very shortly after. And then they are together. Trying.
On this bleak world with Starfleet up in arms over his actions and the Spock he knew missing, things suddenly seem okay. "I love you," he says.
"I love you, too."
You don't have to do this, Ambassador.
Kirk, you saved my son at considerable cost. It is the least I can do. And Commander Chapel would be most put out.
Damn straight. Thank you, Sarek.
If you need anything else, you know where I am. Enjoy your trip back to Devulia.
Should I be worried that you're sleeping with him?
Should I be worried that you can't seem to find a new theme? I'm not the hussy that you think I am.
I know. But you're attractive and he's...
He's married to the love of his life. Even if he doesn't show it. Now, let it rest.
Aye, aye, Commander. Thank you for coming.
That statement could be taken one of several ways.
It sure can, can't it? I love you. I'll see you soon.
I love you, too. And you better.
"Now who's got an admirer?" Chris stands before him, grinning in a way that lets him know she's not taking Gillian too seriously as competition.
"It's my curse. Just too pretty."
She laughs. "And lucky. Way to sidestep all the charges."
He takes her arm and leads her to a quieter spot. "Thank you for getting Sarek here."
"Almost got him killed. Last time he answers my call." She reaches over, touching his face, with a look on her face he doesn't like because it's so sad. "I was afraid I'd lost you. Just like Roger...here one minute, then gone."
"You're not going to lose me. And I promise I will convince you of that later."
"I'll hold you to that. Now, go talk to your adoring public, Captain."
He laughs. Feels...free. No longer an Admiral with no home, no friends, no ship. He got all those back and added a woman.
He watches Chris move away, heading back to Ops no doubt. He put her on the door to his place, knows that if they don't meet back up during the day, she'll be waiting for him when he gets home. Or he'll be waiting for her—odds are that her day is going to be longer than his.
Spock is waiting; they talk to his father then head out to see what ship it is Starfleet is giving them.
"I noticed you were talking to Commander Chapel."
"Yes." He could give more info, but he wants to see where Spock will go with this. Assess how far he's come since they left Vulcan all set on surrendering to the authorities.
"Am I to surmise that the two of you are together?"
"Does it bother you?"
"If you are happy and she is as well, why would that bother me?"
Kirk laughs softly. "No reason. And yes, I'm with her." He is going to say more but they are getting on the shuttle, the little craft taking them around spacedock to...
He closes his eyes, bites back tears. His ship. His girl. The Enterprise lies below him. A new version but his.
"There is a symmetry to this, is there not?" Spock looks extremely satisfied.
McCoy glares at them both. "Just tell me they tested the damn transporters out before we'll be using them."
Kirk grins. This is everything he wants. Everything he never thought he'd have again.
So did you like your ship?
You know I did. Not as much as I like you, though.
Heresy! Do not let her hear you say that.
I won't. Spock is happy for us.
Yeah? Go figure.
You don't still like him, do you? Sorry, had to ask.
I love you.
Which is not exactly answering the question. Fine, new subject. How about this one: would you like to move in here?
I think I might. Once I know we're solid.
Fair enough. I plan to prove we are until we ship out, Doctor.
I'm looking forward to that, Admiral.