All assignments are effective immediately, the end of the message read. Communicate confirmation to your commanding officer at your earliest convenience and receive further orders.
And that was it. A rank, a name-- his rank and name-- and a position on a starship. He supposed, his position, too.
Jim stared at the message, reading the entirety of his assignment again, then once more, then a few more times just for good measure. Something had begun to bubble up in his chest, a kind of glee mixed with terror mixed with mounting disbelief that created a carbonated cocktail within him, and he cast around the room as if looking for someone to share in the moment.
But the temporary quarters he’d been given for the remainder of his time in San Francisco were empty. At least for now. And when the other occupant finally arrived, Jim wasn’t sure he’d remember his own name through his joy, let alone his assignment.
But until then, he did have a call to make, and he supposed there were few people better with whom to share his excitement than the person who had made it possible.
So he found the contact for Captain Robbins, his heart stuttering in his chest and his lips trying desperately not to twist themselves into a smile. He was determined to remain calm, cool, collected. All those months ago when he’d met the captain, she’d seen him at his worst. Now he would be his best-- better -- as long as he served under her.
It took a few moments for her face to pop up on screen, but when it did she wore a friendly sort of smirk.
“Lieutenant Commander Kirk,” she said, and Jim’s smile fought harder to be freed at the utterance of his new rank. The first time he’d heard it aloud, and god did it feel good. Lieutenant Commander . He had done well on his re-entry assessments after medical leave-- the practical, psychological and theoretical tests required to certify him once again for active duty-- and apparently between those high scores and Spock’s commendation of his service in the field, a promotion was practically a given.
“Captain Robbins,” he greeted. “I’m calling to confirm my assignment.”
“That didn’t take very long,” she said knowingly. “I only sent it out about five minutes ago.”
“Just being prompt, sir. And the message did say ‘at your earliest convenience,’” he said, though it was obvious she could sense his excitement. But how could he contain it? He’d be serving on The Enterprise . The Enterprise alongside Spock . It was more than he ever could have hoped for. “I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve with you.”
He was rather proud of how even-keeled his voice sounded.
“Of course,” she said. “You’ll be a valuable addition to the crew, I have no doubt. Captain Garrovick does speak very highly of you. Between you and me, I think he’s a little disappointed we snatched you up.”
Garrovick had been good to Jim, that much was for certain. When Jim had returned to San Francisco last week-- after almost four months of relaxation, study, family, and learning how to sleep in a bed again-- Garrovick had been the first to contact him. They’d met for drinks and his old captain had told him how proud he was, and how glad he was that Jim was alive. It had made Jim’s heart hurt at the prospect of leaving Garrovick and the Farragut, but it wouldn’t be the same crew he’d left two years previous, and he was unquestionably ready for the next adventure. He’d grown restless at home, in spite of how nice it had been to relax for a while, and now that restlessness needed an outlet.
“Captain Garrovick has been an excellent mentor, and the Farragut is an excellent ship,” Jim said. “But I must admit I’m excited to begin this mission with the Enterprise . I have--” he couldn’t help himself. A smile finally wrestled itself from his reluctant lips. “I have a very good feeling about it.”
Happiness welled in him when he saw Robbins return his smile in her own slight way. “As do I, Lieutenant Commander.” A beat passed, then she seemed to straighten herself. “Now, we leave spacedock in one week, and there will be a promotion ceremony somewhere in the interim. Details will be sent to your computer in coming days. Do you have any questions?”
“Just one, sir,” he said, and he knew it was a little out-of-line, but Spock was going to be here soon, and Jim wanted to know if there was any chance of surprising him. “Does Commander Spock know? About my assignment, I mean.”
Her smile stretched a little bit, and she gave Jim an almost patronizing look, “As newly designated First Officer, Commander Spock is required to approve all personnel assignments for the upcoming five-year mission,” she said, and her expression turned coy. “He even made a few recommendations.”
Something about that tone suggested those ‘recommendations’ had something to do with Jim’s position. He almost found himself laughing, but managed to turn it into a grin and a little huff. He would have to have some words with his bondmate.
“Right, of course,” he said, then attempted to regain his previous professionalism. That would likely be the hardest part of reintegrating into the ebb and flow of a starship. He had learned how to be a little more social over the last few months, so the routine of Starfleet decorum would return eventually too. “Well, thank you again, Captain,” he heard himself saying, “I won’t let you down.”
“I'm sure you won't. And, Jim,” Jim drew himself up slightly. Using his name rather than his rank indicated she wasn’t overly concerned with that professionalism herself. “I understand Spock will be arriving from Vulcan today. Please give him my regards.”
Jim’s smile broke his face and he nodded. “Happily, sir.”
She grinned in response, something wide and open, and Jim found himself glowing too obviously. But Robbins knew about he and Spock-- they had submitted all the proper paperwork to disclose their relationship after all-- and she supported them. She’d be an excellent captain to them. They needed someone who knew what they’d gone through, who knew them . Looking at her now, Jim could tell she knew them.
“Well, then. Good night, Lieutenant Commander,” she said. “I look forward to seeing you again.”
“You too, Captain.”
With that, she closed the channel and Jim’s screen went blank. He felt a laugh tickling at him, and he put his head in his hand, repeating the words ‘Lieutenant Commander James T. Kirk’ in his mind over and over again.
Lieutenant Commander James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise . Somehow, after everything, he had gotten exactly what he’d wanted, and so much more. He’d lost a lot for it, and those losses would never stop stinging, but the universe had provided in the end. And, for once, he felt as though he had earned this. He and Spock had earned this.
At the thought of his bondmate, he stood, looking around the room once more to make sure it was all set up. He’d cleaned it fitfully earlier, ensured there were fresh clothes for both himself and Spock lined up in the closet, tracked down some of Spock’s meditation candles, and (Jim’s absolute favorite part) he had filled a small vase on the table with a few achingly familiar flowers. Sulu had told him flat-out not to tell anyone he’d given them to him, but once Jim had discovered that the botanist had successfully cloned some of Sha Ka Ree’s pink and purple plumes from traces found in the threads of their clothes, Jim couldn’t help himself.
A little touch of home. Already their sweet scent filled the room, and he’d spent a good portion of his day laying on his bed and breathing it in. There was something imminently peaceful about that scent. A piece of paradise they’d managed to take with them-- though hardly the most important piece. The flowers were ephemeral, likely to wilt long before they left San Francisco, but there were other things they could carry with them. Less tangible, certainly, but stronger.
Jim traced his fingers over one of the flower’s petals, fingertips shaking a little, though from nerves or excitement he couldn’t say. But he didn’t want to waste time. The last thing to get in order before Spock’s arrival was himself, after all.
He wandered over to the mirror, smoothing out his hair, which had finally grown back into its long-missed swoosh. He tried to remember what he’d looked like the last time Spock had seen him in person. Of course they’d chatted over video plenty while they’d been on leave-- nearly every day, so Spock wouldn’t be surprised by the roundness of Jim’s cheeks, the relative thickness of his belly, the fading of his tan.
But Spock wouldn’t care about all that. A few extra pounds (a healthy weight, really), a different haircut, a different number of stripes on his sleeve or a different rank-- none of it mattered. Everything had changed, and nothing had changed, and they remained.
As those thoughts passed by in swirling streams, never lingering long, another thread of consciousness seemed to twine itself along them. It was a familiar, reassuring tingle, something he hardly noticed at first as he fixed the last few strands of his hair into place, but something that grew and pulsed and became somewhat insistent the closer it got.
And even though months had passed since he last felt it, the second he became aware of it he knew what it was. His heart flew into his throat and he watched the man in his mirror smile, something so happy he hardly recognized himself.
Jim took a few long strides to the door and commanded it open, ready to track down that familiar mind along the thread that tied them. But just as he flung himself out into the hallway he slammed into a hard, unyielding body. Hands came up to grip his shoulders and steady him as Jim caught the breath that had been knocked out of his lungs. But the second he met those deep, dark eyes all the air left him again and a smile returned to his lips.
“Spock,” he breathed, and he vaguely registered that there was a bag slung over Spock’s shoulder, a multi-layered tunic beneath the hands Jim had thrown up to cushion his impact, but he couldn’t actually focus on any of that because it was the look in Spock’s eyes that pulled him in.
“Jim,” Spock said, fingers curling into his sleeves, and Jim surged forward, wrapping his arms around the steady pillar of Spock’s body and burying his face in the crook of his lover’s neck, holding him so tight he was sure he’d break him in half if Spock were any less sturdy. But Spock was always sturdy, strong, grounding. Jim had almost forgotten the simple reassurance of his presence, but even his body had missed this feeling, and now it sank against Spock’s chest as though their proximity was instinctual.
Spock’s arms came up to wrap around his back, too, and they held each other there in the hallway, breathing each other in. The need to kiss was overwhelming, but Jim couldn’t pull away from the embrace. He managed to compromise by bringing a hand to Spock’s and pulling it off of him so their fingers could brush blissfully, carrying impressions of love and longing and fulfilment and the voice was back . The hum of it in Jim’s mind that may not have been voice at all, but felt like Spock, sure as the body in his arms felt like Spock.
Jim managed to pull away, heart pounding and lungs trying to relearn the pattern of breath and fingers tracing the swirls of Spock’s fingerprints like well-worn maps.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” he said softly, reaching up with his free hand to brush his fingers through the silky strands of Spock’s short hair. He’d already bemoaned the loss of its length the day Spock had called him after his heartbreaking haircut, but he had to admit it was a pleasant sense of surreality carding his fingers through it now.
Spock leaned into his touch, eyes closing, a hum escaping from the back of his throat. “As am I, ashyam.”
Jim pulled away, lacing his fingers through Spock’s and tugging at him. “Now get in here-- the things I want to do to you can’t be done in public.”
He heard a chuckle and only vaguely realized that there was a group of what looked to be Starfleet cadets striding down the hallway, just passing them, and one was covering her mouth with her hand.
Something about Spock’s presence always made Jim forget other people existed, but he didn’t particularly care what anyone thought in that moment. Spock was back. Spock was here .
Spock gave Jim an indulgent look that Jim couldn’t wait another moment to wipe off his face, and soon Jim had his fist in Spock’s tunic and was dragging him forward. The second the door closed behind them, he’d taken the strap of Spock’s duffel and hefted it from his shoulder, tossing it carelessly to the side as he wrapped his arms around Spock’s neck and leaned up for a kiss.
Their lips met with a spark of fire, Spock leaning into him and holding him at his waist, his rough tongue brushing against Jim’s own and pulling a delighted hum from Jim’s lips. Jim plastered himself against him, the hard lines of Spock’s body fitting against his own like a puzzle piece.
Spock wheeled their positions around, and pressed Jim against the door as Jim had done to him when they’d finally come back together after all that fear, pain, heartache. Strong hands moved down his body from chest to waist, then slipped under Jim’s tunic where fingers splayed themselves over his stomach and squeezed. Jim shuddered at the heat of his touch, at the feeling of wonder and reverence and pure appreciation Spock exuded.
Jim gave himself up to it, drugged, blissfully drunk on Spock’s kiss, and so happy to have those lips on him again he thought he might drown in them. Spock’s chest was rising and falling with bursts of breath against his, and Jim actually giggled, giddy and gleeful, a sound Spock kissed right out of him, fervor and need swallowing Jim’s smile and making Jim’s knees weak with the sheer force of it. God, he had missed this.
They devoured each other, an intent forming in the insistence of Spock’s hands and the press of his lips. Spock broke their kiss to a sound of protest that Jim didn’t even realize had come from him, but Jim didn’t protest for long. Soon that hot mouth was tracing the line of Jim’s jaw to tilt his head back, then trailing down his throat. Jim shuddered, baring himself to Spock’s ministrations and pressing harder against him.
“Spock,” he whispered, embarrassed his voice couldn’t force itself louder than that. Spock hummed in response, his tongue tracing a delicious circle around Jim’s adam’s apple, which bobbed as he swallowed. “Spock, wait just a second.”
Spock pulled his head back with what appeared to be great effort, looking inquisitive and a little lost. It was likely he could sense Jim’s interest in the proceedings, or at least feel it in his trousers, but he could sense Jim’s reluctance, too.
“What is the matter?” Spock asked, stroking Jim’s sides soothingly.
Jim chuckled, bringing his hands to Spock’s chest and curling fingers into fabric. “I wanted to tell you something-- before you make it entirely impossible for me to think.”
Spock pressed his hips forward just a little, as if testing Jim’s commitment to talking, when they could be engaging in even more pleasant activities, but Jim just laughed and pulled back slightly. “Stop, I mean it,” he chuckled.
“What do you wish to tell me, t’hy’la?” Spock asked, inferring ‘get on with it’ with the way his fingers pressed divots into Jim’s skin.
“I wanted to tell you, you’re a bastard,” he said, infusing the word with all the love he felt, ensuring Spock knew he didn’t actually mean it.
“As the identities of both my mother and father are known, the term hardly applies,” Spock responded, and Jim rolled his eyes, smoothing his hands down Spock’s chest, then his abdomen, then slipping his fingers into Spock’s waistband.
“I meant in the figurative sense. According to a certain captain, you’re the one who recommended me for navigation officer. Navigation, Spock. Alpha shift navigation. And here I thought you knew me better than anyone in the universe.”
Spock’s lips twitched and Jim wanted to kiss that expression right off his face, but he knew that if he did he wouldn’t be able to pull himself away for a good, long while.
“You have proven yourself quite capable in the realm of navigation, Jim,” Spock reminded him. “And I thought it might make you happy to be on the bridge. A…” he seemed to search for the word, “a pleasant surprise.”
Jim leaned fully against Spock, beaming, bringing his arms over Spock’s shoulders. “You wanted to surprise me?” he wheedled, nuzzling Spock’s nose with his own.
“Was I successful?” a tendril of hesitation eked its way into the flow of their thoughts, and Jim laughed.
“You did great,” he said. “Thank you, sweetheart.”
Though Spock’s cheeks had already taken on a green flush, their color seemed to deepen at the simple endearment. It made Jim’s heart flutter, and he was just about to take Spock’s lips again when he felt the intent to speak in his lover.
“I will admit,” Spock said slowly, resting his hands along Jim’s lower back and tugging him close, “my motivations were partly selfish. I believe I will enjoy the way you look in gold.”
Jim’s heart clenched painfully at the clumsy flattery, and he knew soon his cheeks would ache with the smile that stretched them, but he hardly cared. “Why, Commander,” he said, fingertip tracing the point of Spock’s ear in a touch so gentle it made Spock shiver. “Are you flirting with me? I’m going to have to report you if you keep that up. I hear the Enterprise ’s new First Officer is a bit of a stickler for the rules.”
“I believe in this he may make an exception,” Spock said, a simple delight in his tone that made Jim melt.
“Exceptions, Mister Spock? We haven’t even left spacedock and you’re already making exceptions? Here I thought you were going to be a tough boss.”
“I will treat you the same way I treat every officer on the Enterprise,” Spock responded, as if worried Jim might not get the difference between playful banter and outright favoritism.
Jim rolled his eyes slightly, but he was still smiling. At this point, he didn't know if he could stop. “Until we’re alone,” he suggested lowly.
Spock’s lips ticked and he seemed to relax against Jim slightly. “Until we’re alone,” he confirmed.
Jim rose back into their kiss, a hand cradling the back of Spock’s head to keep him close, delighting in the way Spock resumed the movement of his hands. Jim began to walk Spock backwards toward the bed, lips cloying at each other, when a thought burst into his mind.
“Wait,” he said, breaking the kiss again, and he was sure Spock would’ve groaned if he’d been a lesser man.
“Jim,” Spock said, a very subtle quality of desperation to the word.
“I know, I’m sorry,” Jim laughed, “but I haven’t looked at a chrono in hours. How long do we have until we have to be at the restaurant?”
Spock tilted his forehead against Jim’s and Jim could swear he sighed . “We must leave in a half hour if we wish to arrive before our parents and thus facilitate introductions.”
With a groan, Jim dropped his head. “A half hour? They’ve talked over video already-- do we really need to be there to introduce them again?”
Spock’s hands were soothing in their ministrations. “While I do not relish the idea of our families attempting to engage in small talk, I believe we could take up to 38.6 standard minutes if we require the extra time.”
Snorting a laugh, Jim brought his eyes back to Spock. There was something decidedly playful in his expression, something that Jim could feel in the currents of his mind. He leaned up to nip at Spock’s lip, then pulled away to shove his lover bodily onto the bed.
Spock flopped back onto it and bounced, looking up at him, seemingly startled, though he got over his surprise rather quickly as he watched Jim peel off his shirt. “We can work with that,” Jim said, tossing his tunic to the side. Spock reached for him and Jim reached back, sinking against him like a ship coming to port.
“We have done more with less,” Spock reminded him with a slight smile, and Jim laughed something full and warm as he steadied himself on Spock’s chest.
Their lips met and Spock’s hands explored the plane of Jim’s back, and though the last few months had been healing, soothing, affirming and desperately needed, nothing healed quite so much as the rightness of reunion.
Jim’s fingers rested over the console, a familiar set of numbers, dials, screens and buttons that would become infinitely more familiar over the next five years. Five years, exploring deep space. Five years on the flagship. Five years serving alongside the best crew in Starfleet.
And the man he loved.
A presence drew up beside him, and Jim couldn’t help the fond smile that touched his face as he looked up to the Enterprise ’s First Officer. Though Spock was apparently less expressive on duty, Jim could see love in his eyes plain as if he were saying it aloud, and he could feel it slipping along their connection-- a constant mental reminder that Spock was more than his station to Jim, just as Jim was more to him.
“How are you feeling, Lieutenant Commander?” Spock asked professionally, calmly, and Jim could tell his word choice was intentional.
“Ready, sir,” Jim responded. “As I’ll ever be.”
As a trill of nerves rose inside him, a twin force slipped in to soothe it. And even as Spock said, “Very good, Mister Kirk,” his mind was whispering words of reassurance too quietly for Jim to hear in their entirety, but loud enough to be felt.
The bridge doors slid open, and they-- along with the rest of the quietly working bridge crew-- turned to face their captain, standing as Spock’s voice rang out from beside Jim, “Captain on the bridge.”
They stood at attention until Captain Robbins took her seat, casting a small smile over her dutiful crew. Jim had only met the majority of them just this morning, but he knew by the pride in her eyes that he was among sparkling company.
“Thank you, Commander,” Robbins said, “ready to leave spacedock?”
Spock strode forward to stand by her chair as the rest of them seated themselves. Jim turned back to his own console, focusing on keeping his heartbeat steady. Excitement had begun to win out over nerves, though, and restlessness pulled at him.
“Engineering reports ready, Captain,” Spock was saying. “All stations secured and awaiting orders.”
“Very good, thank you, Mister Spock.”
Out the corner of his eye, Jim saw Spock return to his own station, and he allowed himself a small smile at the realization that Spock’s familiar figure would almost always be within Jim's sight, directly to his right. Navigation may not have been Jim’s preferred position on a starship, but maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as he had worried. Not with Spock right there, not when it finally felt as though he belonged here.
He didn’t linger long on the thought of Spock, on the vision of his blue streak of a body standing ready by his station. Jim had a job to do, and he couldn’t wait.
“Coordinates received and course laid in, Captain,” Jim said, turning to Robbins with full confidence.
She leaned back in her chair, crossing her ankle over her knee and smiling. “Then there’s no time to waste. We have a galaxy to explore, after all. Take us out, Mister Martinez.”
Beside Jim, the helmsman began to disengage, and Jim turned his eyes back to the forward viewscreen, a smile spreading over his lips as he watched the whole of space and time unfold itself in front of him.
No-- In front of them . He glanced to Spock, who met his eyes with a look Jim knew he was the only one who could decipher.
There was a universe full of paradises waiting to be discovered. The mind that touched his own felt overcome with excitement, pride, respect, love, and Jim shined each emotion back toward his lover. Any remaining fear faded with a wave of overwhelming certainty that no matter what awaited them out there, he and Spock would be able to face it. Whether through strength, intelligence, love, or pure determination.
And if all that failed, well, they both knew the universe was capable of miracles.