Title: Don't Stop Believing 3.6/?
Pairings/Characters: Kirk/Spock pre-slash, Uhura, Gaila, Pike
Summary: And we're back in San Francisco! Anyone's been waiting up for Spock?
Notes: Please visit the Master Post for complete story navigation/paitings/ratings.
Gaila is alive.
Spock discovers this as he enters his apartment after four weeks of absence and finds her and Nyota making tea. He lifts an eyebrow to indicate his surprise at having found them there, because he gets back two days earlier than expected and he hasn’t told anyone about that.
“We figured,” Nyota says simply, coming over and kissing him lightly on the lips.
Spock returns the kiss, curt and sweet, but his eyes are on Gaila.
“Lucky save.” She smiles, but he can see the remainder of profound shock storming her once undisturbed blue eyes, as she comes over and hugs him. Far from objecting, his hands lift to wrap around her almost of their own volition. He and Gaila have more in common now than ever before. Neither of them can ever go home again.
She rises on her toes and kisses his cheek. “Marran-do ker’sha d’ha lynn, shaya-ra.”
Her Vulcan pronunciation is impeccable but melodic in ways native Vulcan speakers never really achieve. The words ripple through Spock, touching something inside him he had long considered dead.
You are not alone in your grief, brother.
Spock glides two fingers from her temple to her chin gently. “Nemayo, shaya-re.” Thank you, sister. He pauses briefly and amends, “Shaya-rin.” Little sister.
Gaila smiles at the endearment.
They’ve made his favorite tea – cinnamon and chili powder, they’ve bought new cat biscuits for Agnes, who’s purring contentedly on the windowsill, peering at Spock through one half-opened green eye, and Spock thinks introspectively that it is some kind of universal mistake that he is not in love with either woman.
“You need a haircut,” Nyota says with an amused expression, running her fingers through his hair.
Spock nods, a bit absently. He is somewhat wary because he doesn’t yet know what this is, but he relents, little by little. They don’t ask him how he feels and he doesn’t ask what they’ve been up to. The conversation whirls lamely around the refit of the Enterprise and the fleet finally abandoning the senseless operation in the Laurentian system and about a dozen other pieces of news which fail to excite them, but are there nonetheless.
Spock has never seen Gaila so serious and quiet and he wonders idly if she is ever going to regain her cheerfulness. He believes she will, because if she overcame her childhood experiences of slavery, she will undoubtedly prevail over this disaster as well if given time. But it has marked her, just as it has marked all of them. Even if no one is ever going to see their scars.
Gaila leaves soon for Starfleet Sciences. Spock is distinctly unsurprised to learn that she has been recruited to help reprogram the defense perimeter surrounding key Federation facilities. He would imagine the team working on that problem right now would have to consist of the best of the best, and Gaila has always been gifted in this particular area.
The silence she leaves in her wake is awkward. Spock glances at Nyota who’s standing at the window, leaning against the wall and looking outside pensively, a light frown creasing her forehead.
“Nyota,” Spock starts hesitantly.
She turns to look at him and smiles, shaking her head. “It’s not going to work, is it?”
Spock doesn’t insult her by pretending he doesn’t understand what she means. “I wish—”
“Yes,” she interrupts firmly. “If wishes were horses.”
The silence stretches, as Spock watches her, taking in every detail. Nyota is strikingly intelligent, kind and understanding, reasonable, cool and logical, and she’s probably the most elegant and beautiful female Spock has ever seen, including T’Pring.
“You would make an ideal wife for a Vulcan,” he concludes his analysis aloud.
She looks over at him with a sad smile. “And you would make an ideal ballet dancer. Doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.”
Spock closes his eyes, regret washing over him. If only he had anything – anything at all left to offer her...
He hears her coming closer. She rests her hands on his shoulders, and he inhales deeply, breathing in her scent that always conjures up a mental image of a frozen jasmine flower in his mind.
“Don’t,” she whispers. “Please. I don’t want to hear ‘It’s not you – it’s me.’ Not from you. We were better than that, Spock. We are better than that.”
He pulls her close without getting up. She permits it, letting him hold her for a while, then pushes him back slightly, bends over and kisses him. Spock returns the kiss with more feeling than he had experienced in weeks, cradling her face in his hands, wishing desperately to convey everything he wants to tell her and can’t find the words for.
If he were still capable of loving anyone, he would have loved her. Would have. The leitmotif of his life from now on.
“It’s not a goodbye,” Nyota says softly, as they pull apart.
Spock nods determinedly. It’s not.
Spock goes to see Christopher as soon as he unpacks and returns Agnes to her rightful owner.
“I think you should keep her, Mr. Spock,” Mrs. Lee, his next door neighbor, tells him with a sigh, taking the animal back. “I’m too old to keep tabs on her anyway.”
Agnes is glaring at him from the old woman’s arms, her viciously green gaze calling him a traitor. Spock pets her in apology and leaves.
Pike’s new office is at Starfleet Headquarters, and although Spock is asked for his ID, no one says a word to him about being in civilian clothing. He takes the turbolift to the upper floor because Pike’s office is now a reflection of his new rank. Michael, who served as Pike’s aide ever since Pike was stationed at the Academy, has died on the Farragut, and Spock is looked up and down by an unknown lieutenant who frowns at him with disapproval.
“The admiral’s schedule is full,” he says, adding “Commander” with just enough hint of a doubt. “You should have made an appointment.”
Spock thinks that he probably should have. “Would you please check when the admiral is next available?”
The lieutenant frowns even further, glancing over his screen, but Spock can tell he isn’t really checking.
“The earliest window I can offer you is next week,” the young man says, with clear disdain. “But I’ll have to confirm it first.”
“Lieutenant,” Spock says, telling himself that the man is certainly not trying his patience, “by next week, I plan to be on New Vulcan. Are you quite certain there is no possibility to make an appointment on an earlier date?”
“Listen, sir.” The lieutenant eyes him indignantly. “You may be a Vulcan and a member of an endangered species, and I’m sorry about that, but that doesn’t mean that you can simply barge in on an admiral without an appointment. It’s Starfleet Headquarters, sir. We follow procedure.”
“And hopefully orders,” Admiral Pike says, appearing in the doorway of his office. “Spock, it’s good to see you; come on in. Corley, you learn some manners. You’re talking to a man who saved your planet, for fuck’s sake.”
“Sir, that kind of language—”
“So help me if you say another word to me about that,” Pike hisses. “And next time Commander Spock is here and I don’t know about it within five seconds of his arrival, you’ll find your ass so far down the promotion list you might as well reapply for the Academy, is that clear?”
“Sir. Yes, sir.”
Pike glares at him some more before moving inside, Spock following him stiffly. The moment the door slides shut behind him, Pike rounds on him and grins.
“It is good to see you, Spock. I’m sorry about this little shit.” He gestures irritably at the door.
Spock raises an eyebrow. “It is agreeable to see you, too, Christopher. Though it would appear that your new aide does not approve of me.”
Pike grimaces. “My new aide doesn’t approve of me,” he says tartly. “I haven’t figured out a way to transfer him yet.”
“You seem to be in a bad mood,” Spock notes.
“You think?” Pike sighs and shakes his head, with a grim smile. “Spock, I went to bed as captain and a field officer and woke up as an admiral and a paper pusher. You were gone and nobody knew where, and my ship isn’t my ship anymore. You think I might be a little cranky?”
“I was ordered to take leave,” Spock says, none too happy. “I did not have much choice.” He pauses. “Number One was here.”
“Yes,” Pike agrees with a strange expression. “She was.”
Spock regards him carefully. “You seem displeased.”
Pike bristles. “She relinquished command to her first officer and transferred to Starfleet Command instead. This woman has no sense trading her career like that!”
Spock arches an eyebrow. “Admiral, with all due respect, the Nelson has been assigned to Sector Zero for the last three years. There was hardly any interest for someone with Number One’s talents in the routine patrol of—”
“Fine,” Pike cuts him off impatiently. “But she would have gotten another command.”
“And she still might – as soon as the fleet is rebuilt. I hardly expect there are new command positions available at the moment.”
“Spock.” Pike looks at him squarely. “You know why she did it.”
Spock returns his gaze calmly. “Yes, Christopher. I do.”
Pike looks away first. “Damn.”
There is a long beat of silence while Pike stares unseeingly at his desk, and Spock, who has been standing at a large ceiling-to-floor window, gazes at the spectacular vista of the San-Francisco Bay.
“So this is how it ends.” Pike speaks, sounding hollow. “You’re going to New Vulcan to rebuild your race, and I – I’m stuck here for another twelve months at least as Chief of Operations. And then... This is how it ends?”
Spock looks at him and feels something within him stir beneath the dull sense of apathy that seems to be his constant state of being now. He crosses the room and sinks down on one knee at Pike’s feet. He takes Pike’s hand gently, urging the admiral to look at him.
“It does not have to end, Christopher,” Spock says, very softly. “Our relationship will continue. It shall simply evolve. It is illogical to assume that all things will remain the same indefinitely.”
Pike smiles at him sadly and reaches with his free hand to tuck a strand of Spock’s hair behind his ear.
“You think I can handle it?”
Spock closes his eyes for an instant, shivering at the caress that feels like an echo.
“You are Christopher Pike,” he says simply. “You can handle anything.”
Pike chuckles, despite himself, and gazes over Spock fondly. “I love you,” he says, soft and earnest. “Whatever this evolution of yours might entail, this clearly isn’t part of it. You will always be my inspiration, Spock. My touchstone.”
Spock brings Pike’s hand to his lips and kisses gently, sending as much warmth as he can muster through the contact.
“No more sadness.”
“No,” Pike agrees, and grins to prove it. He clears his throat and looks away, fighting to restore his equilibrium. “What’s with the savage look, anyway? You going native?”
Spock straightens up and moves back toward the window slowly. “I confess I was not concerned with matters of appearance during my leave.” He clasps his hands behind his back. He wasn’t concerned with anything. “I shall take measures to correct this as soon as I am able, in order to stop offending the senses.”
Pike snorts, giving him a frank up and down. “I wouldn’t call it offence, exactly. That jerk Corley out there was probably just jealous.”
“I doubt it,” Spock says. “I seem to be out of favor with Starfleet Command at the moment.”
Pike frowns. “I heard about that. Can’t tell you how mad I was at Fitzpatrick and his little gang. Bastards.”
Spock turns to look at him. “The matter is still puzzling to me,” he confesses. “I must admit that the reasons behind it elude me.”
Pike sighs. “There’s no mystery to this. Someone screwed up.” He rubs his chin pensively. “When the Kelvin was lost, Starfleet ordered an investigation. You read my dissertation, you know this. What you might not know is that after six months of searching, the mission was abandoned.”
Spock lifts an eyebrow. “But so were many other missions which failed to harvest results. Starfleet’s resources are significant but still finite.”
“Yeah, but none of the other abandoned missions have backfired till now – only this one.” Pike winces. “Spock, you have to understand. I’ll have to be cynical for a moment, so bear with me.
“The loss of Vulcan is a hard blow on the Federation. We all regret the loss of lives, and the cultural significance of your planet was enormous. But there’s a much more pragmatic layer than this. Vulcan was Federation’s commerce, diplomacy, and science. Your people had been trading with half the galaxy before humans even made it into space. We lost all of those contracts now, and it’s only a matter of time before we’ll all feel the shortage of certain resources; our economy is already running a fever. Our Diplomatic Corps is in a coma, if you please, because we just lost our best negotiators. And science – do I even have to go there? You know better than I do that more than fifty percent of technological innovations were coming from the VSA.”
“Approximately sixty-seven percent,” Spock supplies.
“Well, there you go. The Federation is a living organism, and to lose Vulcan doesn’t mean to break a nail exactly. More like to lose a lung or a kidney.”
“A curious metaphor coming from you.”
“Yeah, well.” Pike snorts grimly. “I’ll be blaming one of my sixteen doctors for that.”
“If I understand your point, Christopher, you suggest that it is the extensity of the damage that provokes the need to assign blame.”
“More or less.” Pike sighs. “Someone signed that order, Spock, twenty-five years ago. Someone at Starfleet Command had decided that the attack on the Kelvin wasn’t worth investigating further. People are angry and they are frightened – because if Vulcan could be destroyed so easily, who’s to say that the same won’t happen to more distant, less developed worlds? Did you know that already the Federation had lost three members?”
“No,” Spock says, eyes widening slightly. “Which ones?”
“Garrapack, Leda, and Baranten.” Pike cringes. “Apparently they’ve all decided that we’re too dangerous to be associated with. And they might not be the last ones.”
“That is indeed disturbing.”
“No kidding. You know how civilians think, that Starfleet failed to protect them. And let’s face it, Spock – they’re right. But instead of standing united and accepting responsibility, Fitzpatrick wanted a quick fix. Hang all the blame on one person and Starfleet’s white as snow again. Even more convenient – hang it onto a Vulcan and make everyone think that Vulcans had brought that onto themselves.”
Spock frowns. “I am pleased,” he notes grimly, “that I am not currently in uniform.”
Pike looks up at him in sympathy. “Oh, believe me, the thought crossed my mind, too. But Starfleet has done many good things, Spock. Three bastards aren’t worth smirching us all.”
“Perhaps,” Spock allows.
“Anyway. Nogura’s got much more sense than Fitzpatrick. Thank God they chose him to replace that son-of-a bitch as Commander Starfleet.”
“Indeed? That is—” Spock doesn’t finish, interrupted by the sounds seeping from outside the room.
Pike rolls his eyes. “I’m going to fucking murder him. What now?”
But before he can investigate the source of the disturbance, the door slides open, and a very ruffled-looking James Kirk bursts inside.
“I’m sorry, sir, but this is urgent—” he spatters and stops abruptly at the sight of Spock.
“Kirk,” Pike lets out in exasperation, “didn’t anyone teach you to knock?”
“I’m sorry, Admiral, I tried to stop him,” Lieutenant Corley says, hovering in the doorway, “but he wouldn’t—”
“I can see that,” Pike tells him dryly. “Get back to work.”
The door slides shut behind a very irritated Corley.
“Hey, Spock,” Kirk says, much quieter than before.
Spock inclines his head. “Captain.”
“How – uh, how are you doing?”
Spock really can’t help an eyebrow climbing up at that. “How am I doing – what?”
“Spock,” Pike admonishes him, though not unkindly.
“He’s screwing with me, isn’t he?” Kirk asks Pike, keeping his eyes on Spock. “Nice tan, by the way.”
“Kirk, wasn’t there an urgent matter you came to see me about, like, five seconds ago?” Pike asks dryly. “You know, the one that made you trigger my aide’s PMS a whole day early?”
Kirk actually looks at him. “You know, that guy really is such a dick,” he says, walking over to Pike and handing him a PADD. “Why d’you keep him?”
“Comes with the office,” Pike mutters, scanning the PADD.
“He didn’t want to let me in,” Kirk complains. “Said I don’t look at all like my ID.”
“That is hardly surprising,” Spock comments. “Given that on your ID, you most likely do not look like a janitor’s mate.”
Kirk whirls on him. “A janitor’s mate, huh? I’ll have you know that I’ve spent the better part of the morning cleaning up the mess the shipyards’ folks call a ‘refitted’ dilithium chamber.”
“Indeed? And the sanitary facilities at the shipyards were out of order?”
Kirk snorts. “Says the guy who looks like Rudyard Kipling’s wet dream.”
Pike looks up at him with a frown. “Jim, you can’t keep coming to me with this.” He taps at the PADD impatiently. “It’s going to look like blatant favoritism, and you know what? It is.”
“Admiral, I’m sorry, but—”
“Those requisition forms – correct me if I’m wrong, but you don’t have any paperwork to support them?”
“Sir, I don’t have time to file paperwork,” Kirk retorts impatiently. “The shipyards have a queue a mile long and like one hundred something forms to fill to get so much as a permission to sneeze, never mind refined dilithium. By the time they’d ‘get back to us,’ we’d have to start from scratch, and we don’t have time for this because Nogura wants us space-worthy by the end of the month. Scotty’s got his hands full, and we need to install the new plasma injectors within a day or the flood capacitors would fail – they were designed to hold warp plasma, not thin air.” He turns to look at Spock. “And you should be really impressed that I know how to handle a warp plasma reaction.”
Spock lifts an eyebrow. “I am impressed that you know who Rudyard Kipling is.”
“Kirk, we’ve been through this,” Pike says exasperatedly, Kirk still glaring at Spock. “You were the one who let your crew take shore leave.”
“I didn’t know the shipyards engineers were a bunch of incompetent idiots then.”
“Jim, if you took the time to file proper requisitions, the shipyard would give you the best they’ve got. You have to show some respect to the way the fleet operates. You might not like it, but this system has operated successfully for decades. What you’re doing is taking that special treatment thing one hell of a lot too far.”
Kirk’s shoulders tighten slightly as he stares squarely at the admiral.
“I only want what’s best for my ship,” he says. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get it.”
“Really?” Pike furrows his eyebrows. “Then pick a first officer, for God’s sake. The personnel office has been smacking me over the head for weeks now – for some unfathomable reason they seem to think I have some kind of influence over you.”
Kirk sighs. “Admiral, couldn’t you just sign this?”
Pike glares at him for a long moment, then scribbles a signature on the PADD abruptly and pushes it back to Kirk.
“That’s the last time I’m doing this, Jim. I mean it.”
“Thank you.” Kirk nods tightly, picking up the PADD.
Pike still holds his gaze. “I know you’re a genius, and the only person apart from this guy” – he nods at Spock – “who managed to have a double major, but not even you can be in two places at once, never mind more. You have a personnel problem the size of the Enterprise. You’ve gotta do something about it, and sooner, not later.”
“I know,” Kirk says. “I appreciate your help, sir.” He rubs at his forehead as if chasing away a headache, then glances up sharply, as if struck with a sudden idea. “Speaking of people being in two places at once,” he intones, almost cheerful, “you need this guy now?”
Pike blinks, looks over at Spock and shakes his head carefully. “I have a meeting in ten minutes.”
“Great.” Kirk beams. “Then, Commander, you’re with me. Let’s see if we can make you look like a janitor’s mate.”
Spock blinks and peers at Pike.
“Well, don’t look at me,” the admiral says, grinning. “You started it.”
Kirk walks over to Spock, who still hasn’t moved. “Is it somehow not clear that I outrank you?”
“I am still on leave,” Spock reminds him pointedly.
“Cool; that means you’re not doing anything,” Kirk says breezily and, grabbing Spock’s arm, pulls him toward the door. “Nice day, sir,” he offers Pike.
“Admiral,” Spock manages to nod at Pike, too, even as he allows himself to be towed outside.