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Author's Chapter Notes:

Iinspired off a tumblr post.  Open ending.

Spock awaited the destruction of his home planet. He waited. Felt as though it would never come. He had raised his mental shields up in preparation for what was logically about to come next. The loss of so many Vulcans. Billions of them all at once. It would take his entire lifetime of emotional control to prevent himself from becoming highly emotional. There laid a small fire in front of him. The ambassador sighed, taking out a holophotograph from his pocket. He opened it. The crew of the USS Enterprise A faced him, smiling, radiating with youth that was slowly being stripped away. The image had them frozen, precisely, at a brighter and affectionate time where they were all together in one place. Fondness, warm memories came toward the Vulcan within his mind.

They were all in their golden years. His family looking back at him. The doctor, a man who he had personally attended to see his death in the hospital.  Spock's hands were trembling holding the device. He was alone. Cut off from those he had gone to known. Geordi La Forge, Ambassador Jean-Luc Picard, Captain Data Soong, and so on. Spock gently closed the golden device, reeling in his emotions. He slid the keepsake within his pocket. He heard the snapping and the growl coming from the native wildlife sounding annoyed and what sounded like a human grunt. Spock picked up a stick then went to the mouth of the cave. He swished the torch  at the beast striking it at the nose. The beast let go of the pantleg. Whoever he had saved made their way past him, quickly, as though they had to heat themselves up. The wolf like beast howled back hopping away returning to the icy scenery from whence it came. Spock watched it vanish while standing in the cold taking small steps back. Perhaps a member from the station had just came out to scavenge for food. Humans were known to go to desperate lengths to eat.

"You're a hard man to find, commander," came a familiar voice.

Spock slowly turned away from the mouth of the cave as he stepped back. Spock turned to see the well aged familiar admiral, standing there, in what seemed to be a large fur coat that covered his rounded torso completely, the unshaven facial appearance, and his graying silver hair covered in sheets of show. Spock looked at him in disbelief. Could this be a hallucination. Spock had felt young, so young, after Jim's death. His legs threatened to collapse on him. The admiral was a welcoming sight, yet quite illogical given his untimely death. Unless, that had been an echo who died.  Or the Nexus had sucked him back in. Either was up in the air at this point.

 "Jim?" Spock said. "How is this possible?"

 Kirk smiled looked over toward the Ambassador.

"Let's just say the nexus isn't perfect," Kirk  said, then he observed the scenery around him noticing how somewhat cozy it was.

 "The bond. . ." Spock said. "it cannot be imitated."

Kirk sat down onto what seemed to be a makeshift icey seat in front of the fire.

 "Everything pales in comparison," Kirk said.

So many questions Spock had for the admiral. So many logical solutions to do regarding  Soran's fate. And yet, the human chose to follow Picard's plan. What was he thinking? Was he a echo that was flawedly designed? There was something different about Kirk in some way that Spock couldn't pin. He was getting old, McCoy had once said, some solutions don't come to him as easily as they did before.  The admiral's voice sounded regretful, and sad, as though he too had realized his mistake too late.

 "Jim. . ." Spock slowly approached the human. So much wasted time, so much lost time, and time that had been taken away.

"I'm sorry, Spock," Kirk said, as his eyes wandered away from the Ambassador. He heaved a depressed sigh. "I am getting too old for games."

Spock placed a frail, bony hand onto the man's shoulder.

"T'hyla," Spock said. He knelt down to the human. The admiral faced the ambassador who dropped his torch into the crackingly flames. The last time they had been in front of flames was during their unknowingly final camping trip with the doctor. The final trip together before returning the Enterprise A to Star Fleet in the same condition that they had stolen her.

"Spock . . ." Kirk said, his hand clenching to the Vulcan's thin shoulder. “I’m sorry I left you alone for so long…”

 Their eyes met each other as Spock lowered the mental barrier.

"You are forgiven," Spock said. "As it is I who should apologize. . . I should never have let you go without me."

The two men shared a gentle kiss at first, it was slow and tender. Spock's free hand traveled to the back of the human's head. Kirk's hands traveled to the Vulcan's shoulders. Spock's un-occupied hand moved to the human's rounded waist motioning his fingers to familiar markings hidden underneath. The body stretch marks under the fur coat, under the star fleet uniform, under the red and black vest, and under the standard white shirt that he knew by heart. He traced the stretch marks with his fingers. They were shapes that he hadn't forgotten almost a hundred years afterwards. Shapes that Spock could never forget from Kirk, or about him for that matter. The two split apart to regain their breath only to look at each other lovingly, in a way that a married couple would, finding themselves with a partner who looks gorgeous by the passing  day. Spock slid his hand out of the glove then placed it on the side of the man's face. Their bond sung to life, triumphantly, allowing a outpour of love transfer between them.

I'm here, baby, Spock heard his bondmate's comforting words through the restablished bond. Never going to give you up like that again.

 Never going to let you down, Spock agreed in return.

Kirk was the one who planted another kiss on his partner's lips.

Spock drew his partner closer to him.

They fell over on behind the ice block.

Spock's silver hair and gray coat stood out among the furry mess covered in snow. Spock's hands were gripping onto the fur, tightly, into the maroon uniform. The scene panned over to the flames then returned back to the two men who were laid side by side. Spock held the shorter man in his arms while his typical bowl hair cut seemed to be in a mess. Spock's fingers traced along the stretch marks on the man's body. Every time he saw them, Spock was reminded that his bondmate had dared to do what death had said could not be possible. Perhaps Surak would be pleased to hear that a fellow Vulcan following his teachings achieved happiness once again. Spock kissed Kirk's forehead holding his two fingers out. Kirk noticed the golden wedding ring, a ring that he had given the Vulcan, and returned the gesture warmly. Spock was loudly purring. Everything was perfect, besides being in a cave with a fire that could go out at any time and let them freeze together. It was perfect, either way.

"Hello?" came a young man's voice.  

Spock leaned up from the makeshift bed.

"Montgomery Scott," Spock said, loudly.

"Aye---" Scott said.
"How did you find us?" Spock tilted his head raising a baffled right eyebrow.

Kirk stirred awake with his curly messy bedside hair.

"There was a phenomenon here--" Scott turned around. "And I don't know where ye from, but ye don't have sex on Delta Vega in a cave!"

"Scotty!" Kirk called.

"Do I know ye?" Scott asked.

". . . Not yet," Kirk said. "why are you on Delta Vega?"

"Nae, the question is why ye are here," Scott said.

"You wouldn't believe us, Mr Scott," Spock said

"Try me," Scott said.

"We are from the future," Kirk said

"Ahhh! Do sandwiches still exist in there? I am hungry for one." Scott said.

Yes?, Spock said.

No?, Kirk said.

How does one answer  that question?, Spock asked.  A memory was channeled through the bond to Kirk.
"The answer is yes, we still have sandwiches," Kirk said. He dismissively gestured the Scotsman out. "out, out, out," the admiral raised his voice. "we have to get dressed, young man."

"Aye, sorry about that, laddies," Scott said, then stepped out of the cave. He turned toward the cold where he began to whistle, waiting for them, innocently.

The two officers looked over toward each other then quickly became dressed. Spock helped his partner put himself together while Kirk did the same. Kirk helped Spock put on his heavy, highly insulated coat. The two men zipped up their zippers together at the same time for their pants and their boots. Spock put his gloves on then kicked snow into the dying flames. The two men came out of the cave to join the Scotsman side by side that left no personal bubble space for the other.

"After you, Scotty," Kirk said.

"Do I know ye in the future?" Scott asked,

"Yes, yes you do," Kirk said. "best engineer in the fleet."

"Ye wron'," Scotty said. "A engineer doesn't lose Archer's beagle."

"I believe finding the beagle will be easy to do," Spock said.

"Ye found it in the future?" Scott asked.

"No," Spock said. "I have a rough idea how to retrieve it," Kirk looked at his partner like he was wine with how finely aged he had become. "Which transporter do you use? Location is required."

"Eeeh, I was drunk," Scott said.

"Mr Scott," Spock said. "this effects your career as a officer on the starship  USS Enterprise and the future of every officer in the fleet. You are a very important  figure in my future," Scott came to a halt making the two men stop. "what did you use?"

"Transwarp theory," Scott said.

"Lead the way to the facility," Spock said. "we shall be on our way afterwards."

The Vulcan shared a concerned glance with his partner who seemed to be alarmed about what Scott had mentioned. They hadn't heard of that story. Just how long he had been working on the equation. He had been working on it all his life. And he never bothered to present it to the two during countless away missions or the away missions after the five year mission. Spock had been aware the officer was on personal, confidential projects. Their boots crunched in the snow trailing behind the scotsman.

"Is it bad?" Scott asked.

"We are bound by prime directive regarding that issue, Mr Scott," Spock said.

"Don't give up on it," Kirk said. "you never know what may happen."

"We may need to use your emergency beacon," Spock said. "and I will retrieve the beagle."

"Really?" Scott asked, his eyes brightening.

"You were the one who indulged me with it after. . ." Spock trailed off not finishing the thought.

"That's just nae fair!" Scott complained, as his boots aggressively punched the snow.

The smallest of all smiles appeared on the Vulcan's face. Kirk had a small laugh.  The walk toward the station was risky, and that is when Kirk was finally convinced that he was free of the Nexus. Kirk looked over toward the speedy scotsman vanishing into the distance. Spock kept crunching in the snow after him. The chances were that they had to keep going forward. And they will be there. The sound of the wind was loud and high pitch against his ears. Kirk only wished that he had brought along a hood before leaving the Nexus. The furry coat was fashioned off a memory from three months ago. Rura Penthe, Klingon Penal Colony, one that he can never forget.

On the transporter padd appeared four individuals, one of whom was happily holding a fat old beagle in his arms with a long scarf over his shoulders. Alongside him was Keenser who seemed to be unphased by the  chain of events. A man with graying hair came into the room followed by a odd cat like Vulcan. There was something cat like about his face. Perhaps it was the eyes, or maybe the nose, Spock and Kirk were entirely not sure about it.

"I am  Christopher Pike and this is my first officer, Lieutenant Commander Spock," Pike said. "we just came from a rescue mission."

The younger Spock came to a stop recognizing himself but older and much shorter than him.

"A successful mission," he was in academy instructor attire being dark themed. "Mr Spock."

"Greetings, Mr Spock," Spock greeted him with the ta'al.

"Mr Spock?" Kirk said. "you were . . ." he seemed to be wordless. "Weren't you in space as a science officer?"

"I was, but I am not," Spock was finding it odd as he noticed just how young he was. They were never that young, but  had they? Kirk sent a wave of reassurance through their bond to comfort his bondmate. At one time, he had been so young like him tied between respecting two worlds. Torn between being Vulcan. Spock's angst with his emotions were very at large an issue. An issue that would be resolved sooner rather than later. "apparently my counterpart has become a cadet instructor. A quite logical decision."

"And who might you be, Mister. . ." Pike began.

"James T. S'chn T'gai-Kirk," Kirk said. "Admiral Kirk if you like," the two younger men were frozen where they stood staring back at him in disbelief. Pike had a look of shock looking onto the admiral. "and this is my bondmate, S'chn T'gai-Kirk Spock."

"Jim," Spock said.

"What?" Kirk asked. "Our fates may be different and we might not end up together."

"It can happen," Spock said. "anything is possible at this point. This spoilers."

"It is not spoilers if it may not happen at all," Kirk said, holding his two fingers out.

"Is it spoilers to say we get it on tonight?" Spock said, returning the gesture. The admiral grew a heated blush on his face.

"Captain," Spock, the younger, turned toward Pike. "when you called for me, I was in the middle of filling out the report regarding Nero."

"You are dismissed," Pike said, with a nod.

The instructor walked out of the room.

"We don't wish to interfere more as Nero has," Spock said. "But there is a ship inside the Narada that must be destroyed properly."

"Just how big is that ship?" Pike asked.

"Unsure," Spock said. "my ship is smaller. . . And might I ask, do you happen to have  a Kirk and McCoy on this ship as well?"

"I happen to have cadets with those lasts names," Pike said. "You want to meet them?"

"No," Kirk said.

"We were only curious," Spock said.

"We are staying out of their path," Kirk said.

"So far away that they will not see us," Spock said.

"And happily not be spoiling," Kirk said.

"Nor breaking the prime directive," Spock said,

"Aaaah, just like old times," Kirk said, warmly.

"We bended the prime directive on a weekly occurrence," Spock said.

"Nostalgia," Kirk said, fondly. "when we were young." he briefly looked off somewhere else in another time and another place over the captain's shoulder. Spock didn't feel so young anymore in the admiral's presence, in fact, he was elated on a different level. It felt like he was whole again and at his prime. The admiral was proud. As was the ambassador.

"It will take us a few days to get to Earth on warp," Pike said. "I cannot guarantee you . . ." he looked over toward  Scott who was playing with the dog on the transporter padd as it lazily turned on its back. His fingerless gloves digging through the dogs fur. Pike looked up toward the two. "privacy."

"It will be fine," Spock said.

"Not our first rodeo," Kirk said. "I would do better with a admiral uniform."

"You need a shower," Spock said.

"Yes," Kirk said. "we do." with his eyes on the taller man's brown ones.

"How do I refer to you towards the crew?" Pike asked, earning the admiral's attention.

"Jameson," Kirk said.

"Selek," Spock said. "we will be classified upon our arrival to Earth and deal with Star Fleet admirals."

"Or if they prefer to refer to us by Ambassador Kirk and Admiral Kirk, it's good by me," Kirk said.

Kirk  took off the fur coat then unclipped the admiral's uniform off to reveal the vest that he had underneath with black designs on both sides. He slid the taken attire off onto his forearm walking off the transporter padd with the tall, well aged Vulcan. Kirk noticed the Vulcan's hair was unkept and hadn't been combed before leaving the cave. Kirk reached up then combed his hands through straightening the Vulcan's silver bowl hair cut. Kirk noticed that his bondmates eyebrows were very thin. They were not as thick as he had last seem them to be. Almost like Kirk's except his eyebrows were still there yet thinner. The thin eyebrows complimented the aging Vulcan's aesthetic. His pointy ears were larger than before and his nose even pointer. Other than that, he looked just like Spock only gray and old but more beautiful.

They were going to spend their emeritus years, together, finally, outgrowing Star Fleet.

A part of the man felt emotional.

Finally spending  his life with Spock.

He was giddy, excited, and a million other emotions.

Kirk was partially listening to what Pike had to say, observing his partner, absorbing in every little detail.

"---Masters will guide you to unoccupied quarters,"  Pike said, gesturing toward a dark woman by his side with an Afro with half of her head shaved and her hands locked behind her back within long red sleeves to the dress uniform. It was entirely different from the female uniforms worn interchangably on their Enterprise. Kirk smiled in return, nodding his head, fondly at the woman.

"Charlene," Spock said.

"Ensign Masters," Kirk said.

"You are a very competent officer," Spock said. "Pleased to see you again."

"Masters," Pike turned in the women's direction. "Make sure this information does not leak out to the crew.  Keep it to yourself."

"Yes, captain," Masters said, with a nod.

"What about me?" Scott asked.

"It depends on your knowledge on engineering," Pike said.

"Lieutenant Scott, at yer service," Scott said, with a nod. "currently suspended from duty."

"Unsuspended on my ship," Pike said. "you're promoted to Lieutenant Commander."

"I will take the dog, Mr Scott," Spock offered.

"Thank ye!" Scott handed the dog into the Vulcan's arms. Pike called after the Scotsman who called after Keenser to follow. "We're comin', captain!"

The dog licked the side of the Vulcan's face while Spock stepped off the transporter padd. Charlene lead the way out of the transporter room. Kirk noticed there were force fields along the walls preventing any air or personnel from being sucked out. A bad memory from the Klingon-Federation war just a few years ago or so to this timeline. The lights briefly flickered on and off. There was bright light clouding the scenery. The lack of red alert was disturbing. What was even more disturbing was Charlene not in a blue dress that had her ranking as lieutenant. But she wasn't in the science track, yet. Kirk assured himself that she will transfer into a different career track sometime in the next few years.

Kirk was lost in reminders of the wars that he had seen as a star fleet captain. The attacks launched during his five year mission with Spock. A warm comforting wave came through the bond that relaxed and eased the admiral down. Charlene was silent leading the two. She came to a stop in front of the doorway then gestured in. The two men went inside within a single line. The door closed behind them. And it all seemed like a different take on their shared quarters. A shadow of what they lived in.  It all looked generic more like the quarters seen in science fiction movies made in the 21st century. Kirk put the attire onto the white couch. Kirk felt like a stranger. The ship was unfamiliar. Not a constitution class, it had to be a Crossfield class. Then again, he had never seen the insides of quarters to Crossfield classes. Spock came over to the human's side once putting the beagle down.

"Galaxy classes have quarters that look this way," Spock said.

"Doesn't feel homely," Kirk said. He sat down onto a couch. "I find it hard to believe on a star fleet ship. It doesn't feel real."

"None of this feels real to me, either," Spock said, coming over to his bondmates side. "I feel out of place here."

"Didn't. . . . Didn't. . . Didn't Pike command the Enterprise before me?" Kirk asked, slowly yet surely.

"For eleven years after taking over from Captain April," Spock became silent as the gears turned in his head. Realization slowly dawned on the two men as they shared a long look at each other. Their faces slowly morphed to a horrified kind of one.

"No," Kirk said.

"That cannot be," Spock said.

"The Enterprise was never this bright," Kirk said, standing up. He came over toward the window looked at in disbelief. He turned toward the Vulcan raising  an eyebrow with his hands on his hips. "Was it?"

"I recall the paint color was tolerable," Spock said. "If there is. . . " he stood up then slowly approached his bondmate. "I find hard to believe this is a Enterprise."

"All because Nero came," Kirk said. He looked over toward the man who was by his side. "but at least I was able to find you."

"I would not have it in any way without you," Spock said. "it is unacceptable."

"And this is?" Kirk asked.

Kirk placed a hand on the side of the Vulcan's cheek.

"It is acceptable," Spock gave a small nod in return.

Spock's skin was soft yet wrinkled to Kirk's large hand. The assurance that his best friend McCoy had been with Spock all these years comforted Kirk. The human's fingers trailed the long chin that felt real to his fingers. All the questions that the Ambassador had went out of the airlock. Kirk's left hand moved to the Vulcan's shoulder clenching on it tightly. The questions were irrelevant to his current joy in the well lit room. The beagle brushed against their pant legs. Kirk slid his hand down the Vulcan's shoulder letting go of his shoulder then made his way toward the bedroom. Kirk stuck his head out of the bedroom.

"Come here, kitty, kitty," Kirk said, teasingly. He gestured the Vulcan in.

"T'hy'la," Spock said, going after the human. Spock went into the bedroom where the doors closed behind him.

An hour later, Spock came out in a gray shirt with gray matching pants guiding his bondmate out of the quarters. His hair was sticking to his skin. Kirk was shirtless while Spock was not. The two men plopped onto the couch. They sat side by side together, holding onto each other, they didn't hear the beep from the doors. The quartermaster entering the room with two sets of wardrobe. She saw the laid attire on the couch that looked quite and quite naval like. She heard a series of snores from behind the couch.  The woman smiled hearing the two distinctive snores. She looked down toward the naval uniform, curiously.

The naval uniform had a star fleet delta with a bar behind it similar to the one for a star fleet admiral. She folded the jacket then put it onto the table where alongside it rested the two sets of attire. One of them was dark brown Vulcanian attire with a turtle neck while the other was white and light gray with a hat on the top with the star fleet symbol on it. She exited the quarters. Spock's warm yet cold body had lured the admiral to sleep. They were cuddled together on the couch.  The walk from the cave to the station was exhausting requiring all their energy. The bonded couple had a future together and that is all that mattered to them at the moment. The beagle lazily climbed up onto the couch joining the two men with a wine. Kirk and Spock slowly opened one eye.

"Ashaya, you forgot to feed the dog," Kirk said.

"It is not our dog," Spock said.

"It is in our room,"  Kirk said.

"Temporarily," Spock said. 

"It's our dog, for now," Kirk said.

"How about you feed it?" Spock offered.

"No, I am tired," Kirk said.

"So am I," Spock said. 

"How about you dump him on your counterpart?" Kirk asked

"I am not sure the dog will find him," Spock said.

"Dogs are clever," Kirk argued. "You bonded to one."

"That was a metaphor," Spock said. "A discussion between the doctor and I not to be taken literally."

"I don't want to move," Kirk said.

"Neither do I," Spock said.

"Do they have a disk for dog food in the mess hall?" Kirk asked.

"I am sure they do," Spock said. "Perhaps in the zoology department."

"Send it after your counterpart," Kirk said. Not often did the Vulcan agree on sending dogs on a errand but when it came to not wishing to move, it was the only logical solution to make the situation better. Someone will have to feed the dog either way if the dog did not reach the younger Spock. The dog could find his way back into their quarters, theoretically. Cats and dogs were both known to miraculously find their owners after long distances.

"As you wish," Spock said.

Spock reached out placing a hand on the side of the dog's head. He had a brief mind meld leaving a set of instructions. He let go of the beagle's face then gently placed it onto the floor. The dog skimpered away leaving the room through the automatic doors. Spock grew comfortable with his bondmate. When his eyes opened once more, the dog was barking playfully. His bondmate started to move off him to look over. Spock looked over to see a young, tall man with dark brown hair tugging a piece of rope away from him. It was the doctor's counterpart. Leonard appeared so young. Kirk ducked down back onto the Vulcan's chest pretending to be fast asleep. Leonard was knocked to the metal floor with a laugh. The old dog sat down and started to snooze. 

"Greetings," Spock said, offering the ta'al.  "Doctor McCoy."

"Your dog was runnin' around so the captain assigned me to take it back and distract it," Leonard said. "now  I would have a certain volunteer but he chickened out at the last minute." Kirk kept his head below from the doctor's line of sight pretending to be snoring away.

"Your efforts are appreciated," Spock said. "we shall handle it from here."

"All right," Leonard said. "But I don't know how ya gonna handle the dog poop."

"We will find a way," Spock said.

"I will like to see ya in sick bay to see your health," Leonard said. "Ya been on a arctic climate. God only knows what ya picked up there."

"I shall be there," Spock said.

"Good," Leonard said. "And your partner better be there too!"

Leonard walked out of the quarters.

"Damn," Kirk said. "How did he know I was awake?"

"It seems that much has not changed regarding our old friend," Spock said.

"Well then," Kirk got up off the couch then came over toward the table. "that's a plus."

Kirk looked down at the uniform that looked quite strange to him.

He tilted his head at the gray and white designing that looked odd.

It wasn't quite simple for the era they were suppose to be in.

He looked back at the long duration type uniforms consisting of the typical colors: blue, red, and yellow. The short term duration missions resembled a soccer outfit with the blue steels primary color with the unique brown-orange pigment for operations, the command gold, and the silver uniforms. He unzipped his pants then slid them down. There was a black shirt part of the pile. He looked over to see his bondmate having difficulty getting dressed with the beagle slowly walking around the man's tall legs.  Kirk smiled, fondly, using the table as his balance sliding into the white trousers. The comfortable, soft white pants fit his figure.  There was no struggle to put them on. He put on the black shirt then the jacket. The pants and the jacket were zipped up afterwards. The white collar felt comfortable around his neck.

Kirk came over to a panel then typed in a code. Hopefully it still worked here. Across from him appeared a mirror version of himself, exactly, down to the detail except for feet that lacked shoes. He looked at himself, finding him a stranger, tilting his head watching mimic every moment.  He put on the hat onto his head. The star fleet delta on the center with with a long thin center behind it surrounded by a circular metal component all around it. The admiral's symbol was entirely different here. It seemed weird to him staring back at himself. He didn't look like himself.  There was something that was off. He looked too different. He felt like he was in a different time. Hundreds of years into the past. Hats didn't sit well in space on a federation vessel. They could be easily lost or create chaos just to find it with the crew or just with the visiting party.

"The doctor is right in one regard," Spock said.

Kirk looked over toward the Vulcan.

"And that is?" Kirk asked.

"You look like a dork with a hat," Spock said,  then the two men laughed.

"Bones would hate this,"  Kirk wiped off a tear.  He pressed a few buttons on the panel. He paused. "I don't know about you but I feel old fashioned."

"Typing in a code rather than requesting the computer to make a mirror image?" Spock said, once putting on his long tunic on. "Not the only one," he came over toward the man's side with the dog in his arms. He typed in the familiar code to look back at him himself. He stepped aside to observe himself then handed the dog into Kirk's arms. "I feel different in this outfit."

"So do I," Kirk said. "Mr Spock."

"The phrase 'come in like a traveler unexpectedly into a bar on a stormy, rainy night' applies more than ever." Spock said.

"That is because we don't belong here," Kirk said. "I am sure we will find somewhere to belong." Kirk placed a hand on the man's thin shoulder, and squeezed it.

"You are where I belong," Spock replied.

"Perhaps I am biased, who knows," Kirk said. "but you look wonderful in that traveling outfit."

Spock looked over toward the dog  feeling elated.

"Jim," Spock said. "the dog."

"Yes, yes," Kirk said, with a nod. "we need to take him to a holodeck and make him pee somewhere."

"With dog collecting required tools," Spock said.

"Uh huh," Kirk said. "I don't know where to find that kind of help."

"Perhaps you're wrong," Spock said. "there is a member of the Enterprise who owns a dog and has interned on several Constitution classes during her cadet career."

"Nyota Uhura," Kirk said.

"That is the only person who can help us," Spock said. Spock turned off the mirror image. "I suspect she is on the bridge. She will be off in a few minutes."

"And how do we ask her when we are not suppose to interfere?" Kirk asked, he turned away once putting the dog into the Vulcan's arms. He rubbed his hands together thinking. Spock observed his bondmates demeanor change from doubt to focus to brainstorming to realization. It had to be better than Spock's idea which was to approach  the woman. He didn't want to interfere in his counterparts relationship with the woman whatever it may be at this stage. Kirk turned toward the Vulcan. "How about Bones asks her instead."

"We still avoid all out implying the future," Spock said, Kirk nodded in return.

"Say, if she and you--" Kirk started to ask.

"I would never have engaged into a relationship with a cadet," Kirk thought back then nodded as it were true. "that would be wrong."

"Had she been on the Enterprise before I came around would you have?" Kirk rephrased his question.

"She might have a chance had she known how to court a Vulcan," Spock said. "there are chances I could have dated anyone before you."

"Even Pike?" Kirk asked.

"He was my first captain," Spock said. "I did not see the point in courting him as we did not seem compatible."

"All right," Kirk said.

"You, by far, have the most drastic impact on my life than anyone I have ever known in my lifetime," Spock said.

"Mr Spock, that's enough," Kirk said. "I get it. I get what you mean." Internally, the admiral smiled at the comment. Smiled back at what had been decades ago to him. His memory going over to Spock before and after their first meeting. The first officer coming to the bridge with a drastic new look about his appearance. The eyeliner, the one that was not present below his eyebrows, the well combed trimmed hair cut, and the well plucked eyebrows. It didn't change how Kirk saw the science officer. Spock was the most beautiful man that Kirk came across.

"To be frank," Spock said. "it is taking my entire self control to not rip that shirt off your torso."

"Likewise," Kirk said. "I doubt the quartermaster would be willing to repair." His  mind briefly wandered then came back. "Spock, Spock, Spock, remember that navy adventure we had in the holodeck?"

"White uniforms," Spock said. "Yes, I do. The maroon reds were in service."

 "How about we have a little roleplay in the bedroom?" Kirk asked. "You as the new arrival from a ship lost at sea and me as a admiral."

"Quite logical," Spock said. He looked over toward the snoozing beagle then toward his bondmate. "the doctor is likely busy. We can do this roleplay for as long as you wish. The dog is not likely to relieve himself at any moment." Kirk  took his bondmate by the shoulder, gently, leading him to the bedroom with the hat falling sideways.

Leonard entered the cadets assigned quarters. The beeping coming from the equipment was soft and gentle, reassuring him that all was well.  Jim laid laid on the biobed, temporarily paralyzed down to his legs, reading a novel from the nearby monitor. His eyes intently reading the text on the screen. Kirk' eyes buried in words, a typical sighting, when it came to Leonard finding him. Jim looked over toward his friend hearing his bootsteps enter into the room with a bright smile.

"Hello, Bones," Jim said. "So I heard you got some guests from Delta Vega."

 "Uh huh," Leonard said.

 "Who are they?"  Jim asked.

"To be honest, I have no idea who they are and if  I had, I wouldn't tell ya," Leonard replied.

 "Booones," Jim drew on.  "pretty please? Star Fleet doesn't leave three people and  a dog down there."

 "Ya sufferin' without a mystery," Leonard said, once he had checked the man's health  for himself and by the machinery. He looked at the machinery, skeptically, as though they could be deceiving him. Didn't trust the equipment.

 "Yeah!" Jim said.

 "Alright, here's a mystery," he came to the side of the bed. "Why did James T. Kirk go in the captain's place?"

 "That's not a mystery," Jim said.

 "It is to me, partner." Leonard said.

"It was a stupid decision," Jim said. "the crew and the first officer needs a captain. I didn't expect them to stop drilling just for me. I didn't expect to be tortured over and over, I didn't expect--" Leonard placed a hand on the overwhelmed man's shoulder. "They said I was a great man in the future. How am I a great man, Bones? How will I ever be a great man? I am always going to be shadowed by my father." The doctor frowned at his roommates new demeanor.

"Don't think that way, ya never know; ya might change that one day," Leonard said.

"I am not sure about that,"  Jim said. "I got the fight kicked out of me."

"Jim, now ya listen here, what did ya do when the local bully beat ya up?" Leonard asked.

 "I knocked him out," Jim said.

 "Ya gonna knock this out as ya did to him and I will take care of ya for better or for worse," Leonard said.

"Is that a marriage proposal?" Jim asked.

"When ya get your act together it will be,"  Leonard said. "stop doubting yourself. It's not healthy. Besides, ya goin' to be capable of walkin' quickly after we get back to Earth," he wrote on the padd then looked off toward the younger man. "it will be a shame to lose someone like ya in the 'Fleet."

Jim sighed.

"It's not fun when I don't have something on my mind," Jim said.

"Jim," Leonard said. "I can't tell ya because the captain has made them classified."

Jim looked at the doctor, perplexed.

"Classified . . ." Jim said. 

Leonard looked at his boyfriend in concern.

"Miss Masters, is this the only way to Sick Bay without being seen?"  Spock asked.

"No one takes these directions," Masters said. "hardly active since we boarded the vessel."

"Quite interesting," Spock said. "it appears that is consistent in this."

"You are into engineering, right?" Kirk asked. "Science engineering."

"Yes, sir," Masters said.

"Then why are you in a red shirt?" Kirk asked.

"I am in engineering, admiral," Masters replied.

"The admiral means to say, you make an excellent officer," Spock said. "I say you'll be a very excellent lieutenant in the next several years. Perhaps on this ship or not, you have a very prosperous future." Masters smiled in return, her brown eyes almost sparkling, as she held the padd close to her chest. Masters found it had to imagine to be serving on this ship in the future. There were other starships in space. Yet the compliment made a warm feeling travel through her. She was on her best behavior with an admiral and his partner.

"Thank you, sirs," Masters said.

"If we need further help, we will call you," Spock said, holding the small communicator in his hand. It looked older and beaten up. Kirk gasped loudly at it.

"I thought I would never see that again," Kirk said. Kirk looked up toward the elderly Vulcan.

"It is more reliable," Spock said. He looked over toward the woman. "Nemiayo." Spock had one hand on the human's back as he guided Kirk away from the woman going down the hall.

"Blue looks better on her," Kirk said.

"It does," Spock said.

"Did we just spoil her future?" Kirk asked.

"No," Spock said. "we gave our opinions. That is all."

"Good,"  Kirk said. "I would hate to disturb her career."

"We are safe," Spock said, holding his two fingers out for the human then Kirk returned the gesture.

"That's a relief," Kirk said, as the two men made their way down the corridor.

The dog was being taken care of by another ensign, someone vaguely familiar to Kirk. Someone he once had under his command who he couldn't pin down a name. There had to be a good reason why he wanted to forget and forgot the name. The captain shook it off his mind. The corridors were empty. The halls turned on as they passed through. They were empty, devoid of all life. They heard light footsteps from across. The two older men slipped into the nearby room. The footsteps walked past the corridor. Kirk poked his head out of the quarters looking around. The admiral sighed out of relief. They returned down their path heading in the direction of sick bay. They entered sick bay side by side to see it resembled the refit sick bay. Half of it was contained by a force field. They saw several patients on cots and some of them on biobeds.

"Perhaps we should come back tomorrow," Spock said.

"Hello there," Chapel said, appearing into thin air. "which one of you needs a doctor?"

"Neither of us," Spock said.

"Actually," Kirk said. "yes. Both of us."

"The doctor requests that we be checked," Spock said. Kirk nodded in agreement.

"He did instruct us to come here," Kirk said.

"Very different then what I imagined," Spock said, looking around the room.

"Come along, sirs," Chapel said.

Her blonde hair was beautiful and long reaching to her shoulders. The two men followed the woman to a empty section alongside several patients. One of the nurses was listening to a babbling Irish man. There were two mobile chairs in the corner ready to be used. Spock was the first to be seated then was Kirk. Spock observed there were mainly star fleet officers in the area. No elders. The Vulcan visibly relaxed. Vulcan was left intact with six billion lives thriving. His breath grew shaky. Because of him, the Vulcan species were the target of a grieving, furious Romulan. To go into the brink of extinction. The Vulcan species would not have survived easily as the evacuation plans were out of date. Every major part of their society was on  the planet from healers, instructors, elders, and so on. The evacuation of ShiKahr would have been messy. And many more Vulcans would have died rather than survived.

Billions of Romulans died and he had not paid for their loss. His efforts to unify Vulcans and Romulans together had ended in utter failure. It was his fault for leading the likely extinction of the Romulan species. A trail of warm thoughts trailed the Ambassador's thinking away, softly assuring him that he can't possibly be part of a entire species extinction. There were off world colonies for Romulans, yes, and Star Fleet willing to help a species get back onto their feet. Vulcans unifying with Romulans. A part of him wondered what Nero's fate might be. Perhaps he will pay either way in the future regarding the tragedy but not now. Kirk was never going to be out of his line of sight. Chapel returned with a set of unusual devices that looked different from the ordinary gear that were used to determine ones health in his time within Star Fleet. It was like a scope with a handle that lead up to the center being the source of a series of beeping coming from it. Chapel scanned the two men from head to toe. Chapel lowered the scanner checking the readings for the Vulcan.

She moved over toward the older admiral then scanned him with the tricorder.

"And I am done,"  Chapel said. "One hundred percent healthy for two elderly men." she offered a polite smile back toward them. "Excuse me, I have a patient to get to."  She grabbed onto a padd jotting down onto it using a pen disappearing to another side of sick bay.

The two bondmates shared a glance. 

"Maybe we should have used the padd onto the counter in the quarters to find an answer," Spock said. "Obviously the doctor is busy."

"Oh wait, that ensign can help," Kirk said, as they stood up. "Perhaps he knows where to get toiletries for a dog."

"Solves our problems," Spock said, his hands locked behind his hand. One hand lightly gripping onto his wrist.

"When was the last time we hosted a diplomat and his pet?" Kirk asked.

"Never," Spock said. "Maybe once," Spock tilted his head thinking back as they exited. "No, it was never."

The two men looked over in both directions looking for any sign of cadets in uniform.

"Which way did we come in?" Kirk asked.

"Left," Spock said. "The left, Jim."

"Ya didn't bother to ask their names?" Leonard asked.

 "Doctor, sick bay was very busy," Chapel said. "You can always get to them later."

"I say that I will get to it later but it never does happen." Leonard said.

 "What's so important?" Chapel asked.   Leonard shook his head, unsure. " It's just an admiral and his Vulcan partner."

"We have two Vulcans aboard this ship?" Leonard looked up toward the head nurse.

 "It appears so, doctor," Chapel said. "Both of them were elderly."

 "An elderly Vulcan.  . ." Leonard said.

 "'Yes."  Chapel said.

"We didn't beam up any elders. Classifying an admiral and a Vulcan? Why would they need to be classified. .  ." The doctor sat on the chair checking on the cadets condition. The cadet was in a medically induced coma laying on the biobed. She was a Tellarite with a growing beard around her cheek. She had suffered internal injuries that would require surgery with more than one doctor, the best doctors in the galaxy, and he wasn't a star fleet graduate. He can deal with external injuries but internal he was not authorized. He was surgeon, a doctor, a cadet, all at the same time. There were horrors he had seen that he will never be able to forget. Spock and Pike  having Kirk on the transporter padd with his arms on their shoulders.

Nero was resting in the brig with stasis cuffs around his wrists. The Narada was being taken of by Vulcan authorities far as he knew. He detected that the internal injuries were not becoming worse. If surgery had to be done on the spot, then Leonard was willing to put his hands in the line to save them. Just like he put his neck out on the line to bring Jim aboard the Enterprise. And the kid had saved six billion Vulcans: six billion Vulcans owed their lives to James Tiberius Kirk. It was a bigger feat then what his father had done. He had surpassed his father. Spock had walked onto the bridge when the cadet joined the turbo lift then punched the captain out when he least expected it. Jim was beamed over to the Narada to face the demon that took his father. His personal demon, all that represented a life that was unfair. And Jim came back on the verge of death. Jim had won the fight. It hurt to see the kid was having a existential crisis.

Leonard wrote on the padd regarding the cadets condition.

 "I am taking a ten minute break," Leonard said. "call me if one of the patients get up with a sudden renewed vigor on life."

"Very funny, Len," Chapel said. "Doctor M'Benga wants you to go on a four hour break."  A cadet transferred recently from Vulcan Medical Academy to Star Fleet Academy, at year four. The medical staff was lucky to have more hands on deck.

"M'Benga has been up longer," Leonard said. "I am sure he needs to sleep."

Chapel shook her head with a slight, warm laugh.

 "He just came back from his four hour power nap," Chapel said. "Len, please, the patients need you in tip top shape. You deserve a medal. All those starship survivors you managed to treat that the Enterprise beamed up from the rubble? You worked overtime."

"We were lucky," Leonard said.

 "You're  a miracle worker, doctor," Chapel said. "get some rest."

"All right," Leonard stood up. "I will take it."

"I will see you later, doctor," Chapel said.

He signed off on the screen on the desk then made his way out of the medical room. The doctor sighed,  letting the cool collected demeanor fall apart. Exhaustion crashed onto him and he leaned against the wall. He didn't get assigned quarters. Not in the chaos that had ensued since the near loss of Vulcan. He made his way down the hall. Wandering where to enter and take a snooze. He came to a stop with his lazy eyes on a familiar figure resting on a wheelchair. Jim had his arms folded resting feet away from the door. He looked stuck. He turned the wheelchair around as it squeaked against the floor. He looked over his shoulder toward the door. Leonard looked over towards the door then back toward the cadet. His boyfriend was unable to decide whether to go in or not. And those were certainly not his quarters. Leonard approached the younger man's wheel chair.

 "Jim, go to bed," Leonard said.

 "I am not tired,"  Jim replied.

 "I am," Leonard said, coming over toward the wheelchair.

 "You want to cuddle with me? I am not sure if I can be cuddled," Leonard grasped onto the bars hearing  music from the lion king playing through the door.

 "Ya paralyzed," Leonard said. "I am pretty sure that I can spoon ya."

 "I think there are old farts in there," Jim said.

 "Why?" Leonard asked.

"They've been watching Disney movies and Shakespeare movies, the really old ones," Jim said. "the ones made in the 21st century."

 "And that should be alarmin' because?" Leonard asked.

 "Everyone watches updated versions of those movies," Jim said. "Except me. I love those movies."

"Hey, ya have somethin' in common with the old men," Leonard said. "somethin' to talk about."

"So they are old men," Jim said. "Wow, I must be good at this."

"Ya just know ya content too well," Leonard said.

"Yeah, I do," Jim said, in agreement. "They even watched the Beethoven dog movies."

"Just how lon' have ya been in front of the door?" Leonard asked.

 "I lost track," Jim said.

"That is rude and invasive, ya should never do that,"  Leonard said,

"I just don't have the guts to go in. . ." Jim said. "I actually can't go in. It's locked."

"Because they don't need media or cadets goin' up to them," Leonard said. "I am not goin' to tell the captain lon' as ya don't do that again."

"I won't," Jim said.

The scene came over toward the quarters where Kirk was laid on the couch with his jacket on the couch. He had one hand on the man's shoulder while Spock was leaned against the younger man's shoulder. Kirk was beaming at the movie, happily. He can feel and hear his bondmates purring. The admiral cleared his throat then made the command to turn the TV off. The old beagle was snoring while laid on the ambassador's lap. Kirk looked at his partner, lovingly, watching him snore. The Vulcan's chest moved up and down.There is a phrase about cats. Cats chose their owners. Kirk pictured his first officer, soaked, standing in the rain at his door. Like a lost cat that needed warmth and someone to love. The same way that he had first met the Vulcan only through a transporter. Kirk had no idea who suggested him to Pike to take over but it might have been Spock who kept up with Star Fleet news.

"T'hy'la," Kirk said, gently. "you need to sleep on a bed."

"One more minute," Spock plead.

"One more minute," Kirk relented.

Charlene had no idea why  the captain had moved her from engineering to security but the answer had to be that the Enterprise lost the high ranking security officers and engineering officers and low ranking security officers were the last ones on the list.  Four days it had taken to get back to Earth. She looked toward the fellow security officer, a tall muscular man, Ensign Hendorff.  More referred to as Cupcake within the academy. Ever since Jim Kirk called him that, it stuck. It started as a joke then became a nickname that stuck to him like glue.  They were ensigns, who should be dealing with non-classified material. Yet, here they were. The doors opened to reveal the two glowing old men both sharing a variation of a smile. The Vulcan's eyes were smiling. The admiral's face was smiling, brightly. There was something uncannily familiar about it. She couldn't touch it. The Vulcan reminded her of first officer Spock. 

"The captain informed us that you are to  be escorted to the shuttle bay," Charlene said.

"Being given command over a man already?" Kirk said, warmly. "I am proud of you."

"He is just proud of a woman getting command in general," Spock offered. "He is always like this."

 "Mr  Hendorff," Kirk said, with a smile. "Pleased to meet you."

 "Have we met, sir?" Hendorff asked.

"No," Kirk said. "I just checked the files of the cadets who were on the Enterprise. Just to satisfy my curiosity," he turned toward his bondmate. "After you."

"No, after you," Spock said.

"You  are the oldest," Kirk said.

"Not that old," Spock protested.

"I am sixty, and you are a hundred fifty something?" Kirk said.

"One hundred fifty eight," Spock paused. "Yes, I am older than you."

"After you,"  Kirk repeated, holding his two fingers out. Spock returned the gesture. Kirk wore the star fleet admiral hat on his head as unusual as he looked with it. He looked fitting in the uniform when it came to the ambassadors opinion. A biased one at best. Kirk appeared dashing and quite right in it. He looked quite at home even as unnerving the lack of simplicity the uniform had. Then Kirk warmly added, "old man."

The beagle came in front of them.

"He wants his owner," Spock said.

"Six months in transit," Kirk said. "can't blame him," his attention turned toward the red shirts. "Lead the way, officers."

"Alright, let's go," Charlene said.

The superior officers followed after the two red shirts.

The beagle lazily, and yet slowly, followed after them.

The halls were different and wider compared to the  USS Enterprise. The original Enterprise. It felt like they had come from a different universe all together where technology was vastly different. Spock visualized McCoy walking down the hall talking to Christine about a patient in a low voice. The doctor liked walking and it made him comfortable to talk about issues that way. He can picture most of the crew in these halls ignoring the design difference. They slowly vanished before his eyes. Nothing would ever be the same to the crew of the Enterprise that much was apparent. So many things to be avoided that they could change was endless. Things that could matter. Whales, Khan, the probe that could easily be found and not create countless genocides, and so on. Out of thin air appeared Scott from behind them who simply shouted, "Ambassador!"

Spock and Kirk turned in the direction coming to a halt.

"Thank ye!" Spock was able to keep himself standing from the abrupt, almost tackle variation of a hug. He looked over toward his bondmate, pleading for him to pry the man off. "Thank ye, thank ye, thank ye, thank ye sae much."

"You're very welcome," Kirk said.

Scott let go of the aged Ambassador.

"Thought I would never go intae space again," Scott said, with a sniffle.

"Scotty," Kirk said. "you are family to us. How could we not help you?"

"It is illogical for you to be planet bound," Spock said. "You belong in space."

"Really?" Scott asked. "How am I family tae ye?"

Kirk smiled back in return.

"You will understand one day," Kirk placed a hand on the man's shoulder giving it a gentle squeeze. "take care of the Enterprise and she will always bring you home."

Spock nodded in agreement.

"She shall," Spock said.

The two men turned away then left the engineer with his friend Keenser. The beagle was playing with Keenser, kneeling down, who was rubbing the beagles belly. The red and black shirt appeared to be quite natural on the Scotsman. Scott looked off trying to wrap his head around it. His mind went back to how they introduced themselves. He needed to remember that. By the time he realized what Kirk meant, it will have been a decade or two later on the USS Enterprise A.

Nyota made her way into the shuttle in the red dress. Her pug, Tommy, waited back down at the academy being taken are of by Gaila who was bounded to Earth instead of being part of the defense force due to the part she played in the Kobyashi Maru cheating. Two old men came to a row of seats across from her.  She looked over to see the two men sat side by side. One of them was an admiral and another was a Vulcan elder. She found that odd. It was odd since Vulcan elders were not beamed aboard the ship. They saved Vulcan at a price. A price that was with them inside the shuttle at the back. He didn't look too happy himself.

The two men were sitting side by side. The larger one took out a manual from behind one of the seats then flipped it open. The elder Vulcan closed his eyes to perhaps meditate. A small meditation. The shuttle was being packed one by one. She hadn't seen cadet Jim since he left the bridge. Spock didn't appear on the shuttle, a part of her wondered where he was. She hadn't seen him in four days. Something  was wrong and she didn't know what it was. Something had gotten to him. Almost losing his planet, was that it? She sighed turning her attention away. Charlene came in placing the dog into the lap of the admiral. The old, fat beagle fell into the man's lap who laughed at it.  He rubbed the side of the dogs ears talking to it in a high pitched voice as the dog seemed to smile.

McCoy was the last to enter into the crowded shuttle.

They were the last shuttle to exit.

Nyota had her back against the seat watching the starbase, and the Enterprise, become smaller, as alongside her sat Christine Chapel who was humming to herself. She had a beautiful voice. Nyota looked over toward the woman who was back in her cadet reds. The cadet reds suited the woman. Nyota looked off to see several cadets in her class within the shuttle. She hadn't lost people who were closest to her, again. She sighed briefly closing her eyes then reopened them. What would have happened if Spock lost his planet? Likely decide his duty was to New Vulcan rather than Star Fleet. She was lucky that it hadn't happened. They were all lucky. The shuttle craft broke through the atmosphere arriving toward San Fransisco. The shuttle craft had stopped trembling on the cadets and officers. The final shuttle landed into the hangar. Media reporters were waiting in a closed off section away from the large wide space given for the  last occupants.

A corner of the scenery was crowded by cadets who were in their uniform red hugging other cadets and some of them hugging family glad to be alive. The shuttle craft landed onto the support beam. The door slid open. Captain Pike was the first one to exit the shuttle.  He saw flashes of lights from the reporters devices.  To think it could have been worse. Hounds calling out for the surviving Vulcans. Pike felt good as he walked down the stairs with cadets behind him. We look over to see Jim was being slid out by Leonard's hands. Jim could see the younger Spock's pointy ears and black bowl hair cut standing out awaiting in the cadet designated section. The anger that he had felt four days ago had all but faded. The fight that he had in him  was gone. The four hours he had spent in the Narada had done a number on him.

Pike was joined by the first officer who came to his side as they met up to the taped off section.

 The wheelchair came to a stop.  

"Can you let have this?" Jim asked. "I want to have some control over something when it comes to mom."

"Sure, kid," Leonard said, with a nod.

"Thanks, Bones," Jim said, softly, watching Leonard went past him to join the other cadets.

The wheelchair was moved away from the exit entrance to the drop off that lead up to the shuttle.

Jim managed to find himself a spot in the area where he could avoid media coverage and other cadets appearing around him. Whenever he closed his eyes, all he could see was the dark interior of the Narada. The endless pathways. The  heights. The 'v' shaped foreheads and the tattoos on the Romulans that he saw. The pain that they put him through. Leonard did all that he could to help Jim with the night terrors. He was at the right place for a certain lieutenant commander to approach him. Someone with clearance to go through the crowd. A older woman in  star fleet non-constitution class themed uniform came flying in his direction. The blonde woman fell into his arms and his hands landed on her back. Thought he would never see her again inside the Narada. Thought he would be dead before he got to see Leonard again. Prayed that his agony would end. He hoped he would never have to experience that again with what torture they put him through. It was unnecessary to inflict that much of pain to the human body. Winona backed off to see her little boy looking back at her.

"Your father would be so proud of you," Winona said. "and very impressed what you did."

"No," Jim said. "he would call me an idiot and give me a beer."

"Yes, he would," Winona had a fond laugh.

"Mom, please, don't sugar coat anything when it comes to me," Jim said, his hands gripping to her shoulders with gentleness. "and I am not going to sugar coat anything when it comes to you," the woman stared at her son blankly. "I . . . I can't. . ."

"You can't what?" Winona asked.

"I can't have kids," Jim's voice broke. He collapsed into her arms. "I can't."

"Sweetie, sweetie,"  Winona said, rubbing his shoulders as the man sobbed. Cadets ignored the two pretending as though they were never there. "Ssssh, it's alright, baby, it's alright, mother's here," she briefly closed her eyes as it slowly dawned that Jim would never have a son, a daughter, a granddaughter, a grandson, even if he were to get a replacement it just wouldn't be his own. She squeezed her eyes. "I love you no matter what you bring to the family."

"Mom," Jim sobbed.  

Nyota came out of the shuttle to see a make shift line made. She was behind the two older men. They slowly went down the flat wide surface with their shoulders together. It was odd how the Vulcan was letting the human invade his personal space. She didn't see any admirals boarding the ship before they left. Rumors had spread that they picked up a admiral and his bondmate but the names were not forthcoming. The two men shared a Vulcan kiss once they came off the beam. The two men appeared to be so in love, and happy together at first glance. Then it struck her. The Vulcan resembled Spock but old and gray and---he looked different. Like a distorted mirror but the recognition was there from the side of his profile. A small smile was on his face as he looked down toward the human. They walked away going to a large space that lead them away from the media reporters. A few of the media turned in their direction snapping photos requesting comment and nothing came from the two men.

No wonder they were not forth coming and the captain had insisted that they were classified for now. The other bondmate had to be someone unexpected, or expected for that matter, within  Star Fleet given the man was in. Spock had indicated that he was the kind of Vulcan who would accept being in a poly marriage. He couldn't imagine loving two people and just having to pick one. He picked them both. She was confused, standing there in the middle of the facility as her mind wrapped around it. Perhaps she had died while in a poly marriage with Spock. Which made sense. And answered that question, hopefully but the future they would have discussed being bonded and have performed the Vulcan Marriage Ceremony. Spock came toward her direction from the sea of cadets. He placed a hand on the center of the woman's back then guided her out of the room as media reporters ignored him. The media reporters seemed to be magnetized on the admiral and the ambassador more than the crew of the Enterprise, oddly enough. The two men ducked into a car with a hood then were driven away. The reporters went back inside of the hangar. Jim leaned away from his mother.

"Do you want to go home?" Winona asked. "Back to the farm house?"

"I would like to," Jim said, with a nod.  "I really would."

"Would you like to tell Leonard?" Winona asked.

"Ah, no worry, he knows," Jim said, smiling back comfortingly letting go of her shoulder.

"It's going to be difficult to get past the reporters," Winona said. "but we'll manage."

"I think they'll be busy for awhile," Jim said. "Bones is covering us."

"Do you want me to push you?" Winona said.

"Sure, if you want," Jim said.

"Alright, sweetie," Winona took the bars then made a swift exit through the crowd pulling a vanishing act on them.

Pike noticed the man's disappearance as some reporters started to turn their attention toward him. McCoy beamed into their path then started off on what happened in sick bay when the firing had begun. Winona came to a street lined with cars outside of the academy. Jim's eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness of the scenery. The shapes of cars lacking roofs and some of them had roofs dotted the scenery. Cadets were outside willingly talking to reporters. No one was paying attention to the cadet. Jim was relieved and so was Winona. The last time she was surrounded by reporters, it was after the death of her husband. Out of thin air appeared instructor Spock standing in their way. He was like a cat that had somehow beamed through several bodies.

"Commander Kirk, Cadet Kirk," Spock began. "Speaking on the behalf of my homeworld and my parents, thank you."

"You're welcome," Jim said. "I don't think I am going back in to finish that panel," the man's hands were trembling on the arm rests to the wheelchair.   "Not now." Not ever. . . the cadet finished in his mind.

"You are dropping out?" Spock inquired.

"Yes," Jim said.

"How unfortunate," Spock said. "You would have made a excellent first officer." the instructor walked away leaving the two alone.

"What an ass," Jim said. "let's go."

"He doesn't know who he is talking about," Winona said. "it's alright to feel this way after getting your butt handed to you."

"Did you get your butt handed to you?"  Jim asked.

"Once," Winona said, fondly, as she strolled her way toward the vehicle. "The way you got your butt handed to you is different."

Jim had a laugh.

"I am certain it was," Jim said, in agreement. "How  has the family been?"

"Worried," Winona said. "they're waiting for you back in Riverside."

"Sweet home  Iowa," Jim said, with a happy sigh.

It had been two months since the battle at Vulcan. Jim hadn't heard word from the academy regarding his panel with the Kobyashi Maru. McCoy was wrapping up his third year classes and he seemed to call Jim whenever he had the chance. The recovery to walking on his legs took time and effort.  He was using  a cane to help him walk.  His night terrors had gotten better mostly in part of a fluffy rounded purring object that was written off as sterilized in the box. He didn't know who had got it or how but it had the initials S. T. M. B. on the box it had came in with a letter of thanks. It was a large furry creature. A brown one. He obeyed the instructions to the letter.

There were nights where Jim wondered what took control of him to do what he did. Watching history beginning to repeat in front of his eyes. He had studied the chain of events to his father's death. It didn't help that Carol Marcus, a cadet majoring in science, had came out and said that she was pregnant with his child. It made sense why he hadn't heard of her in a few months for the man.  Jim looked out the window seen the sights of San Francisco looking back at him  casting their ominous shadows compared to their beautiful, peaceful designs in the nightly scenery. Lights were on. His mother had returned to space as a engineer.  Jim had picked up his act after what happened to him. As soon as he could walk, he was helping people.

The car came to a stop in front of Star Fleet headquarters.

"Are ya ready for this?" Leonard asked, looking over in genuine concern.  It was a weekend night.

"I don't know why Star Fleet likes me to attend some party," Jim said. "beyond me."

"Jim," Leonard said, reaching his hand out for the man's hand. Jim had a shaky breath. "It's okay to be afraid. Ya goin' into HQ where few cadets have gone inside."

"Really?" Jim asked.

"Really," Leonard nodded. "Next year I am goin' to be a midshipmen in space. . ." he shook his head. "it's hard to believe it'll be without you."

"Leonard," Jim said. "you saved everyone's lives taking me with you. Whoever has you under their command is going lucky."

 "I sure hope so," Leonard said. "I will be appreciated."

"For sure," Jim said. "You're a doctor, not a lamp post."

"That's what I am," Leonard said. "'Do ya need help gettin' out?"

 "I think I can," Jim said.

Jim unbuckled his seatbelt then mode the door up above his head. He moved one foot out of the foot rest then onto the pavement. He looked over to see there were four figures standing on the pavement huddled together under two umbrellas in the rain. Jim repeated what he did with the other leg then took his cane out. Jim moved his bad right leg with the cane at perfect ease making his way toward the umbrella-led group. He closed the door behind him with his free hand.

"I'll join ya in a few minutes!" Leonard called.

Leonard drove the car away.

"Hello there," Philippa said, once Jim approached the group.

"Greetings,"  Michael and Spock greeted him

"So is there  a party or something?" Jim asked.  "The letter didn't say."

Jim sensed he was being watched by someone to his left.

"Well, about that," Philippa said. "we forgot."

"Humans have a bad habit of being forgetful," Michael said.

"At least we didn't forget to invite his boyfriend," Philippa said.

"We're not official," Jim said.

"Everyone in the academy knows," came a familiar but older, dramatic voice. "it's in the reports."

Jim looked over to see Kirk in his admiral uniform with a bright smile on his face who was observing him.

"You're  the great man they said I become?" Jim asked.

"Greatness chooses you," Kirk said. "I didn't ask for it."

"It does, James," Spock said.  "we had nothing to do with bringing you here."

"We swear," Kirk had one hand behind his back. "we are not meddling old men."

"Even though we are old," Spock said. "we are not meddling."

"Not one bit," Kirk said, with a wide innocent smile.

"They are telling the truth," Philippa said. "Star Fleet has decided to give you a award for your actions in the Battle of Vulcan."

Jim stood there absorbing in the sight of a older man with a voice similar to his but more older, his hair being curly and graying,  all the while wearing a admiral hat. He had a new variation of the admiral's uniform with dark trousers. The collar itself was darker than it had been before but asides to that, not much had changed. His eyes glanced off toward Michael Burnham, the one who started and ended a war.  She had the steel blue and golden uniform on. Neither were wearing the dress uniform variation which struck the man as odd.  Kirk was shorter than Jim. It was odd seeing himself in a accomplished position. A mirror of what he could be but not might be. It was almost as though he had been given an insight look into the future through a anomaly. And he was there looking back warmly at the younger version of himself. Leonard apparated to his boyfriend's side.

"Sorry for bein' late," Leonard said, his arm hooking with his partner's arm.

"You are okay in my book," Kirk said.

"It just took me a while to find a parkin' space, so, sorry about that," Leonad apologized.  "Ah, Admiral Kirk, Ambassador Kirk, ya survived the destruction of the Mayflower," he politely smiled back then shook the hand of Kirk. "nice to see ya here."

"You as well, doctor," Spock replied. "it is always pleasing to see you again."

"Again?" Leonard said.

"Long story," Kirk replied.

"Very, very long," Spock agreed, slowly.

Leonard looked over toward Jim

"Are ya and the admiral related or somethin'?" Leonard said.

"In a way, yes," Jim said. "distant relative."

"Why don't we go inside?"Philippa offered. "Everyone is waiting."

"It would be socially acceptable to be welcomed by those you have saved," Michael said. "come along."

Leonard and Jim were guided away from the two bondmates.

 Spock looked over toward his bondmate with skepticism on his face.

"Are you sure this will bring him back into Star Fleet?" Spock asked.

"I am sure," Kirk said, with a small nod. "How about a kiss for good luck?"

"Jim," Spock stressed, glaring at him.

"Spock, you're there," Kirk said. "and so is your parents."

"We cannot interfere in their friendship," Spock remarked.

"We won't," Kirk said, placing his hand on the Vulcan's shoulder. "I promise," he looked at his partner's eyes. "space is safe for them, at least for now, with what we did."

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," Spock said.

"Or the one," Kirk replied. "we did it for them."

"Yes, husband, we did," Spock said, as his fingers traced into the shape of the  Vulcan kiss with Kirk's large, pink fingers.

The umbrella was laid on the elder Vulcan's shoulder. The two men leaned forward into a kiss. The umbrella was squashed against the human's chest as they stood there while the rain patted against the umbrella. Spock's hand moved from the back of the human's head to the side of his cheek. Kirk leaned away from the kiss with a small, pleased smile backing off from his bondmate. Kirk's fingers grabbed hold onto the umbrella holding onto it. Spock straightened his bondmates hat on the center of his head. Warmth and love was traveling through their bond.

"Taluhk nash-veh du," Spock said.

"Taluhk nash-veh du, kan-bu," Kirk said. He gesture toward the inside of the HQ. "Tor wuh ri-fainu."

"Du ma oren-tor tor stariben Vuhlkansu va'ashiv,"  Spock said.

"Ish-veh olozhikaik," Kirk said. "that's just some of what I still remember."

"T'hy'la," Spock said, with a fond laugh as they walked forward toward the doors.

Kirk closed the umbrella once they reached the wide automatic doors.


And the doors closed behind the two bondmates.

The End.

Chapter End Notes:

If you can tell, I love writing fix its.

Nemiayo=thank you

Taluhk nash-veh du, kan-bu=I cherish thee, baby.

Tor wuh ri-fainu=To the unknown.

Du ma oren-tor tor stariben Vuhlkansu va'ashiv=you have learn to speak  Vulcan again

Ish-veh olozhikaik=is logical.

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