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one equal temper of heroic hearts

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The night before launch, Spock receives a comm from Jim at 2230: You want to come up tonight?


I understood the beam-ups were not to begin until 0700. You are already on board?


Yup. Handed off the keys to my apartment this morning. I thought I’d like a night on the ship alone, but it’s big and empty. Maybe I’ll just beam back down. I’d ask if I could crash on your couch, but I’m pretty sure it’s already up here, right?


Affirmative. All of my personal effects have been transferred. I have no compelling reason to stay. The transporter is operational?


Yeah, I’ll throw it back on, if you want to come. No pressure, though.


I will be there within the hour. Where will I find you?


I’m just wandering. You can ask the computer where I am.


He beams up from the pad at Headquarters forty-six minutes later, stows his hygiene gear, his PADD, his sleepwear for the night, and his uniform for the morning in his quarters, and asks the computer for the location of the captain.


“Captain Kirk is in Engineering,” the computer answers in its cool, feminine voice.


The Engineering bay is dark but for the red and blue lights, splayed across the floor from the equipment. Spock moves through slowly, eyeing the dark consoles as if Jim will be attending one of them, but ultimately he knows where he will find his captain.


Jim is sitting on the floor with his back to the glass door. Spock breathes steadily and evenly, with effort, and moves to take a seat alongside him, cross-legged.


“I realized that I can’t be afraid of it,” Jim says quietly, by way of greeting. “So I’ve been spending time down here as much as I can, over the last couple weeks. Only when no one’s around, of course. People might talk.”


“A sound decision, although I should hope such a precaution is unnecessary. It seems perfectly logical to seek out a place with which you have such a powerful association, and thereby to strip it of any power it may have over you.”


“It doesn’t have any power over me,” Jim says. “Only I have power over me.”


“A realization many humans never make,” Spock answers after a moment. “I admit even I have struggled with it at times. Do you believe your efforts to be succeeding?”


Jim looks at him, his blue eyes strangely blank.


“Are you still afraid?” Spock asks.


“Yes,” Jim says quietly. “Less so, but still. Afraid enough.” And he leans his head against Spock’s shoulder as he had on the shuttle three days earlier. His breathing grows slower, more even.


“Allow me to guide you to your quarters,” Spock says. “To sleep.”


“No,” Jim whispers. “I want to stay right here.” And he slides one arm underneath Spock’s own until they are resting against each other bicep to wrist, intertwining their fingers. His other hand comes across to grasp Spock’s bicep, holding him still as if afraid he will move away. “Can I…” he begins, and then, “Is this okay?”


“Yes, Jim,” Spock says, tightening his own fingers, and then there is a long quiet. Around them, behind them, beneath them, the ship hums. Blue lights blink from around the room; fans whir softly; and eventually Jim whispers again.


“It’s ours,” he says. “All of this, everything we want, it’s ours.” And Spock is not afraid: he turns his head and presses his mouth into Jim’s hair, breathing in his scent.


Jim begins to describe the things they’ll see: distant nebulae, scientific curiosities, unexplored continents, unexplained phenomena. And Spock can see it, in his mind’s eye. He can believe in the things Jim describes, the mysteries and marvels, but all he can think is, I want to stay right here.