Author: Keira Marcos
Beta: Jilly James
Fandom: Star Trek: AOS
Warnings: Violence, adult themes, minor character death
Word Count: 14,424 (complete)
Summary: Generations after the assumed extinction of Sentinels and Guides, Spock comes online as a Sentinel.
Starfleet promotion ceremonies were boring on purpose; Jim Kirk was entirely certain of it. Boring and uncomfortable, actually, when you were center stage of the event as he currently was. He’d served as the first officer on the Enterprise under Captain Robert April for nearly five years, though he hadn’t known until roughly six months short of the end of their exploratory mission that April had been grooming him to take his place as captain. Coming back to Earth for the promotion had come with baggage that Jim didn’t have time for.
It had quickly become known that he would be taking over as captain of the Enterprise, which had brought out a slew of old friends who wanted to serve on the flagship. Apparently, a lot of people thought that taking Warp Core Dynamics with a man equated to a life-long friendship that came with career perks. The inbox on his comm-unit was overflowing, and less than ten percent of it was official, need-to-read material.
His adoptive father, Admiral Christopher Pike, shifted in his chair, and Jim was relieved that he wasn’t the only one bored out of his skull while Admiral Archer waxed poetic about exploration and duty. Kirk loved the old guy and had known him his whole life, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t boring. Finally, it was time to stand, so he moved into place and flushed a little under Pike’s obvious pride as his captain’s insignia was attached. He barely noticed the polite applause among the fifty or so people who had gathered for the ceremony.
It was official. James T. Kirk was the youngest captain in Starfleet history. He barely refrained from touching the new shining silver pips on his uniform, but instead focusing on shaking hands and smiling just the right way for the pictures generated for the Federation archive. He hated politics, but he’d been raised by a career Starfleet officer and knew exactly how he was supposed to act.
“Mr. Spock,” Jim said warmly, relieved to see a familiar if not particularly friendly face.
The Vulcan was the science officer on the Enterprise, and Jim’s first pick for first officer—something he’d already made known much to the displeasure of the other candidates and a few people at ‘Fleet headquarters who had choices that were more politic. But in the end, the captain chose his first officer; it was the tradition, and no one was prepared to pick a fight with Kirk over it.
“Congratulations,” Spock said stiffly. “I am surprised that Dr. McCoy is not in attendance.”
“Bones promised his daughter he would visit as soon as we entered orbit,” Jim explained. “Family trumps stuffy, boring ceremonies.”
Jim wondered if he did. He didn’t know much about Vulcan society. They were a very private species, though he did know that Spock was half-human. The first hybrid to be born, in fact, and considered something of an oddity by some in the higher reaches of Starfleet. But poor opinions hadn’t prevented the Vulcan’s swift rise through the ranks despite his established lack of interest in commanding a starship.
He turned to take a glass of water from a server with a tray and took a sip then sighed because one of his so-called old friends was heading their way. Jim plastered a smile on. “Gary.”
He offered the man his free hand and regretted it. Jim didn’t require touch to get a read on someone, and never had, but touch intensified impressions. His fingers trembled as he pulled them free, and he shifted closer to Spock. The Vulcan responded in kind which surprised Jim. Perhaps it was protective instincts at play as Spock had already been informed that he was Jim’s choice for first officer.
“It’s good to see you, Jimmy. Can we talk in private?”
Every instinct he had was screaming no. He was surprised to see Gary Mitchell at a Starfleet event considering the man’s turbulent past with the organization. They’d been at the academy together, but Gary had been expelled for reasons that had never been publicly disclosed, though Jim was certain the man’s rabid xenophobia had been the root cause.
“Commander Spock, this is Gary Mitchell—we were briefly at the academy together. Spock will be the first officer on the Enterprise for the next mission.” He cleared his throat as the Vulcan just gave Mitchell a brief nod and tucked his hands behind his back. “I’m surprised to see you here, Gary.”
“I work for a civilian engineering firm that has contracts with ‘Fleet,” Gary said smoothly. “A group of us were here for a meeting, and I heard you were being promoted. So we talked ourselves into an invitation. It’s not every day that the son of a hero is promoted to captain. About that talk?”
“I’m afraid I can’t leave at this point,” Jim said. “Politics. We could meet later for drinks?”
Never. He was never meeting Gary for drinks. The guy was oozing so much ill-will that it was making Jim sick to his stomach, and he’d never had a problem controlling the small bit of empathy he’d gained from his half-Betazoid biological father before. Spock shifted closer until they were so close that Jim could feel the other man’s body heat. He wondered what his first officer was picking up from Gary; Vulcans were largely touch telepaths, but they were capable of picking up very strong emotions without touch.
“I really won’t have time later,” Gary said tightly. “I’ll be heading back to New York this afternoon. But we really should talk. It’s important.”
“Captain Kirk has many duties to attend to this afternoon. Excuse us,” Spock said stiffly, and Jim barely refrained from jumping when the man cupped his elbow to lead him away.
Spock had never touched him.
Gary moved in front of them. “I have to insist, Jim. Right now.”
The ill-will notched up to hostile in a matter of seconds, and a gleaming, clear blade appeared between them. It was buried in Jim’s gut before he had time to even articulate that Gary had pulled a knife of all things. He stumbled back in horror and Spock released him with a shout of fury that had no place coming out of a Vulcan. The four men dressed in civilian clothes who were obviously with Gary all pulled weapons, but Spock was practically a blur as he moved toward them. Agony burned through Jim, and he stumbled.
“Jim.” His dad caught him and grabbed his hand where it was wrapped around the handle of the knife. “Don’t! You’ll make it worse.”
Jim sucked in a deep breath as Gary Mitchell fell to the ground dead, his neck bent at an unnatural angle, blood pouring from the gaping wound. Another body hit the floor, back broken over Spock’s knee. His first officer’s fury was bleeding all over Jim, and he’d never known anything like it. His Dad tried to move him, but he stilled the man.
“No. Don’t try to take me out of this room.”
“Jim?” Chris demanded, his gaze took in the scene around them.
All five civilians were dead, splayed out like broken dolls around Spock. The Vulcan turned to face him, eyes dark with fury, hands trembling and bloody. Jim went weak in the knees at the desperate shock that was quickly overcoming Spock. He reached out, and the Vulcan came to him immediately then took his hand. People all around them stared in horror.
“Easy,” Jim ordered. “Easy. Trust me.” He pushed mentally at the Vulcan in a way he’d have never thought himself capable of. “Sleep.”
Spock slid to the floor unconscious, and Jim followed suit.
– – – –
Chris took a deep sip of coffee and rubbed his face tiredly. His gaze darted from his son to his son’s first officer. They’d tried putting them in separate rooms until a Halanan nurse had pointed out that they’d been more stable when they’d been brought in and placed together in the same trauma room.
McCoy entered at that point, and Chris set aside his coffee. “Well?”
“Jim’s going to be fine—surgeons did a great job on the repair.”
“Leonard.” Chris stared at his old friend. “I know that part—tell me how my barely Betazoid son formed some sort of telepathic bond with his Vulcan first officer.”
“Jim’s Betazoid blood isn’t the problem exactly—it’s his human genetics that threw us all for a loop.” Bones leaned against the wall next to Pike and huffed. “Did you know the Kirk line used to be absolutely lousy with Guides?”
Chris’ mouth dropped open. “What? No, come on, Bones. Sentinels and Guides died out during the Eugenics Wars—they were targeted first by the Augments because they were the biggest threat to them. Everyone knows that.”
“We also knew there were dormant bloodlines—families that went to a great deal of trouble to hide their heritage.” McCoy looked toward Jim. “They used a variety of drugs to bury their abilities at first then unsanctioned gene therapy to suppress the Guide gifts in their children to protect them. By the time the wars were over, the families that remained were largely damaged beyond repair, and it was believed that Sentinels and Guides were extinct.”
“What are the odds that two different people from lost Sentinel/Guide families would end up breeding with telepathic species?” Bones asked dryly. “Spock is the son of Dr. Amanda Grayson. Her many greats grandfather was the last Alpha Sentinel on Earth.” He paused. “Until today.”
“For fuck’s sake,” Pike said and closed his eyes. “Have you contacted her?”
“Dr. Grayson and her husband, Ambassador Sarek, are on their way from Vulcan. They’re bringing a host of healers with them, and I’ve contacted Betazed as well. Jim’s Guide genetics are waking up parts of his brain that are entirely Betazoid.” He cleared his throat. “It was bad then?”
“Spock killed five men in about thirty seconds with his bare hands. The one that stabbed Jim, his head fell completely off when they tried to move the body,” Pike said roughly. “I’m pretty sure Jim put him to sleep with his brain, which is beyond what we’ve known a Betazoid to be capable of.”
“Well, he’s the man’s Guide,” McCoy pointed out reasonably. “It’s what they do—provide their Sentinel with the support and stability they’d otherwise lose in the face of their sensory gifts.” He frowned. “You might as well know that there is a political shit storm brewing. Quite a few people are jockeying for control of your kid, Chris, and in turn, control of his Sentinel. There’s even talk of removing him from the Enterprise to be used in some kind of black project that has no name. Also, I’ve got an officer from Starfleet Intelligence out there as well. He’s apparently on standby to speak with one or both of them the moment they wake up.”
“They’re out of their goddamned minds,” Chris snapped and stood. “You stay here and watch my kid. Don’t let anyone near him until I come back!”
“You know he’s twenty-nine years old.”
“He’s always going to be my boy, Bones. Just stay here until I’m done making myself clear.”
Bones dropped down in the seat that Pike had left and set his padd on his knee. “Goddamned Sentinels and Guides. Just what I needed.”
– – – –
“Admiral Pike, we’re all really grateful you sacrificed a ship command and raised George Kirk’s son, but I hardly think you, as his adoptive parent, have a say in what happens next. He’s a grown man and he’s an officer in Starfleet.”
“Komack,” Archer snapped. “That was entirely out of line. Adult or not, Kirk is unconscious, and his father is his next-of-kin. Moreover, James Kirk is a decorated officer and, despite this most recent development, neither he nor his supposed Sentinel are the right sort for intelligence work. They’re very public figures in their own right, especially after that mess on Aldor XI when Spock set himself down in the Captain’s chair and threatened to blow them all up if they didn’t immediately return Captain April and Kirk.”
Robert April, newly promoted Commodore, snorted. “You should’ve seen the Aldorun’s faces, and it was honestly no threat. He meant it. He was going to blow up all their ships, the space station they had under construction, and sixteen on-planet targets. He listed them all then explained that he was only limited by the ship’s accompaniment of torpedoes, and he could go get more and come back to finish the job.” He sighed. “I’m honestly going to miss those boys. They’re a lot of fun.”
“They brought that on themselves, though—trying to keep you and Kirk as sex slaves,” Archer said with a laugh.
Robert ran a hand through ash blond hair. “They’d never seen anyone with light hair before. But this is off-topic.” He turned to Komack. “Kirk isn’t enlisted, Commodore Komack, and he could and certainly would resign his commission in a heartbeat if he felt he wasn’t being treated with the respect he has more than earned. If they are Sentinel and Guide, as we suspect, then Spock would follow. You don’t know much about him so let me fill you in. He’s the son of Ambassador Sarek of the House of Surak. On Vulcan, they are practically royalty, though the Vulcans don’t have such distinctions. Spock is the grandnephew of T’Pau, the current leader of the Vulcan Council. T’Pau sits on the Federation Council as well. Admiral Archer is right—they’re both simply too well-known for any sort of dark projects that you might have your finger in.”
“Security footage of the event hit the news vids about thirty minutes ago,” Pike said and put aside the padd he was reviewing. He stood, and everyone but Archer stood with him. He focused on Komack. “I didn’t sacrifice anything to raise George’s son. It was my honor and privilege to be trusted with my best friend’s only living child, Admiral Komack. My responsibility as a parent didn’t end the day he turned eighteen or the day he joined Starfleet or the day he left the Academy. Jim is and will remain my child until the day I die, and if it’s possible, I will come back from the dead to ruin your life if you do my boy harm in any single fashion.”
Komack flushed with fury. “The first Sentinel and Guide to emerge on Earth and they’re going to be wasted on a five-year exploration mission? Admiral Archer, surely you see how ridiculous that is.”
“I think that you don’t know what a Sentinel is,” Archer said. “Despite evidence to the contrary—he’s not a weapon, and he can’t be used like one. Spock protected Kirk. That’s what he is—a protector.”
“And there are elements within the Federation that we obviously need protecting from,” Komack pointed out.
“The only person who was genuinely safe in that room when Spock went feral was my son,” Pike said shortly. “He could and would’ve killed anyone who presented themselves as even the mildest of threats to Jim. It’s in your best interests, Commodore Komack, not to put yourself in a position to be seen as a threat. Spock could rip you in half and not even face reprimand over it. Despite the fact that they were believed to be extinct, there are nearly three hundred pages dedicated to the protection of Sentinels and Guides in the Federation charter.”
Komack shrugged and sat back. “I’m not the only player on the field. You all know there are others more powerful within the Federation who might have something to say about this whole situation.”
– – – –
Pike stopped in front of a couple of people lingering outside of Starfleet medical. They stiffened at the sight of him, but neither spoke. They weren’t Starfleet, or at least they weren’t in uniform.
“They’re not available to you.”
“Is that really for you to say, sir?” the woman asked with a slight smile. “You don’t think they’d be satisfied with regular service within Starfleet, right? They’re made for better, more important, work. We can provide them with a challenge—give them a chance to make a difference for the entire Federation.”
“Or you could get yourselves killed,” Pike said. “I tell you what—instead of relying on second-hand misinformation, why don’t the two of you take yourselves over to the Sentinel/Guide Museum in Cascade, Washington and get an education on what kind of fight you’re currently courting. Then watch the event that started all of this on a screen somewhere. Making yourself a threat to my son is just stupid.”
He entered the building without another word and worked his way through the crowd in the lobby before attempting to enter a turbolift. A reporter jumped in front of him, and he’d have honestly shoved past a man but it was a woman, and he didn’t want to suffer that sort of fallout.
“Admiral Pike, how is your son? How do you feel about his obviously personal relationship with an alien? Do you know anything about the anti-Federation group, FreeEarth?”
“FreeEarth is a terrorist organization full of ignorant xenophobes who have a warped view of reality. My son’s biological father was half-Betazoid—I can’t fathom how I’d have a problem with any relationships he has with any aliens. Get out of my face before I have you arrested.”
The woman moved quickly and dragged her cameraman with her. “Can’t stand in the way of the news, Admiral!”
Pike pushed into the turbolift and turned to glare at her. “You could broadcast all you like from a Federation Security holding cell.” She huffed, and he smirked before activating the lift.
The small anteroom leading into the area where his son and Spock were being treated was full when he entered. Pike paused and glanced over the group—they were young, close to his son’s age and all were in uniform.
“Admiral Pike.” A young woman stepped forward. “Lt. Nyota Uhura, Communications, USS Enterprise. Lt. Chekov, Lt. Sulu, Commander Scott.” She pointed to each man in question as she spoke. “Dr. Carol Marcus, Dr. Christine Chapel, and Lt. Charles Reed. We’re…the beta shift crew. We’re Kirk’s bridge crew. They won’t tell us how they’re doing, and Dr. McCoy is on a mandatory rest period. Will you tell us anything?”
“Physically, they’ve healed most of the damage done by the knife. Jim will make a full recovery on that front. Spock was not gravely injured physically during the altercation. The last I heard, they were both unconscious. Lt. Uhura, what do you know about Sentinels and Guides?”
“They’re extinct, sir.”
“What if I told you that is no longer true?”
Her mouth firmed up. “Which one is the Sentinel?”
She nodded. “That actually makes a great deal of sense.” There was a murmur of agreement amongst the rest of the crew. “Can we at least see them? We won’t stay long or try to wake them.”
“You can take a peek but no touching. We aren’t sure what it will do to them. They’ve only been handled physically by telepathic personnel since their arrival here.”
“Of course, we’d do nothing to hurt them,” Uhura promised.
Pike led the little group of them to the door. He noted with some amusement that they all followed Uhura’s lead—like little ducks in a row. Each took a moment to stand at the foot of first Spock’s bed then Jim’s.
“It’s not warm enough in here for Mr. Spock,” Chekov whispered to Uhura. “Shall I hack the environmental controls?”
“No,” she told him firmly and turned to Pike. “Sir, Mr. Spock should have additional blankets and perhaps a heat-field. It’s quite cool in here for him—and he’s not wearing the layers of clothing he normally does.”
“I’ll see to it and thank you.”
She nodded and stayed by the door as they each got one more look a piece and filed out. “We’ll be aboard the ship, sir, should you need any sort of support.” Her gaze flicked to her captain and first officer. “And we’ll start work on appropriate quarters for them—some environmental adjustments will need to be made to the whole ship. We’ll figure it out.” She focused on him. “They aren’t going to take them away from us, right?
“I’ll make sure their choices are honored, Lieutenant.”
She stared at him for a long moment then nodded. “As I said, sir, should you need any sort of support, we’ll be on standby.” She stepped back from the doorway and activated a communicator then disappeared in a flash of transporter technology.
“Well, she’s feisty,” Pike said dryly.
McCoy stirred from his place on the sofa in the back of the room. “Fierce is a better term for that young woman. She’d rip off a man’s prick and make him eat it if he crossed her.” He left the sofa and walked to Spock’s bed. “I should’ve checked this myself. He is cold.” He worked with the control panel and Pike watched a field activate around the bed. “Chekov works with Spock a lot on various experiments—including the private lab that he keeps at a Vulcan atmospheric standard.” He checked his watch and dropped back down on the couch. “How’d the meeting go?”
“I threatened to ruin Komack and to haunt him after I died,” Pike said and sat down with a grin.
Bones snorted. “Good for you.” He snuggled under his blanket. “Wake me if one of them decides to come up for air.”
After about three hours, he and McCoy traded places, but Pike couldn’t sleep. He stared at the ceiling, furious and worried. It was supposed to be a good day and it had turned into a nightmare.
“Did I ever tell you about the day I got him?” Pike questioned.
“No.” McCoy shook his head and set aside the padd he was using the monitor their vitals.
“It was a little over a month after the Kelvin was destroyed. I’d heard that both George and Winona had died but I didn’t know she’d died in childbirth on an escape shuttle. That information hadn’t been released yet. Archer showed up at my door with a baby—the moment I saw him, I knew he was George’s son. Archer gave me a baby, a bag full of supplies, their end-of-life directives, and an audio recording of the last minutes of George’s life.”
“And the first minutes of Jim’s,” McCoy said.
“Yeah,” Chris agreed. “I’ve often wondered if George would’ve rammed that ship into that alien vessel if he hadn’t listened to his wife die. She’d been injured in the evacuation, and Jim wasn’t due for another two weeks. George’s final words were to me—he said, Take care of my boy, Chris.” He cleared his throat and turned his head so he could look at McCoy. “These people have no idea what I’m capable of.”
McCoy started to speak but his padd beeped. He picked it up and raised an eyebrow. “Looks like you’ve got help incoming.”
“Yeah?” Pike asked.
“Dr. Grayson and her husband are twelve hours out—she’s already spoken with the Federation Council. Spock and Jim have been granted protected citizen status temporarily based on the incident and our suspicions.”
Pike slumped down with relief. Such status was normally reserved for the members of a species on the cusp of extinction. For the moment, they were as safe as they could be.
– – – –
Amanda turned her head and pressed her wet face against her husband’s shoulder. She hadn’t wanted to watch the video of the incident but had also known she had no choice.
“Wife.” Sarek shifted and pulled her into his lap. She wrapped her arms around his neck and curled into the comfort their bond offered. “I have read what literature I could gather on this condition they suspect Spock has.”
“It’s not…” Amanda sighed and lifted her head. “Sarek, it’s not a condition or an illness. He’s been gifted by an ancient and intelligent psionic energy that has lain dormant on Earth for hundreds of years. When he wakes, he’ll still be the son we raised, but he will be more. All of his senses will be enhanced—hearing, sight, smell, touch, taste. If he’s Alpha as they suspect, he could hear a conversation in full from kilometers away without a single scrap of technology. But beyond the senses, he will be hyper-focused on Jim Kirk and whatever fledgling bond they had before the attempted assassination will be deeper and more intimate than any bond a Vulcan or a Betazoid has ever been capable of. The bond of a Sentinel and Guide goes deeper than a connection between two minds.”
“Psionic energy,” Sarek murmured. “It runs throughout the universe, touching every living thing. When we first heard about these people from Earth’s past who could manipulate and interact with psionic energy, my people were deeply disturbed and also disappointed as it was believed we would never get a chance to meet such a creature. And now my son is one—a Sentinel. How will his connection with the very universe impact him?”
“I don’t know,” Amanda whispered.
“You are worried that both Spock and Kirk could be abused.”
“Sentinels and Guides are such a mystery to people now—we have our historical records but to have a living pair? I can just imagine what sort of dark and horrible things some would demand from them. Spying and intelligence work would be just the tip of the iceberg. I know Starfleet and the Federation both have clandestine organizations hidden away to do their dirty work. I won’t have our son corrupted by their ugliness, Sarek.”
“I will allow no one to force Spock to do anything,” Sarek promised. “I have spoken with T’Pau, and she is preparing citizenship records for Kirk. If they are bonded, then by Vulcan law—they are married. Starfleet will find that my ability to protect the citizens of Vulcan far outstrips whatever ability they might have to control either our son or his bondmate.”
Amanda picked up the padd from the desk they were seated at it and browsed through the files until she found Kirk’s service record. “He’s beautiful. I do hope they’ll want children. We should go ahead and commission an artificial womb for them—the wait time is already several years for a unit.”
Sarek sighed. “Amanda.” But then he focused on the picture of Kirk. “I wonder if our grandchildren would have his eyes.”
Amanda grinned. “That’s the spirit. I’m going to go send a communication to the production factory on Betazed for a womb—they create shielded units for babies that may have telepathic gifts.”
“Very well, but we should not tell them.” Sarek paused. “Until it is ready to avoid putting pressure on their new relationship.” He caught her when she started to wiggle out of his lap to write her letter. “What if…he is damaged by this?”
“Spock is strong, and he will be fine,” Amanda said firmly.
– – – –
Jim found his first officer and Sentinel sitting in the middle of a field, barefooted. Spock was curling his toes gently against vibrant green grass. He sat down in front of him and settled into the lotus position.
“You and I are in a bit of trouble.”
Spock nodded. “I am ill-prepared for these circumstances. Are you well? Do you know if your body has recovered from the injury?”
“I don’t feel weak,” Jim said. “I don’t think he hit a vital organ despite his best intentions, and we weren’t far from medical assistance.” He rested back on his hands. “I don’t think we can leave this place until we are fully bonded.”
Spock took that in but said, “I’ve seen a creature several times out of the corner of my eye. But he disappears when I turn my head.”
“Me, too. They’re spirit animals. In Sentinel/Guide lore, they’re creatures that exist on the psionic plane that form profound connections with us. They’re spiritual companions of a sort.”
“My mother used to tell me stories about Sentinels and Guides—I thought them little more than Earth fairytales. I knew they existed at one time, but they seemed so primitive and far removed from me.” Spock touched his chest. “But I am a Sentinel—I always have been. I have sense memories from early childhood.”
“Your body was cataloging information that your brain couldn’t yet process,” Jim said. “I think that I’ve been confusing my Betazoid heritage with Guide gifts, and if that is the case, then I’ve probably been online since…well.”
“Since we met fourteen months ago,” Spock said. “The day we met, in fact, you reported to the infirmary with a severe headache within hours of coming aboard the Enterprise. Captain April was so concerned he had psionic shielding placed in your quarters to help you rest better even though your Betazoid heritage is diluted.”
Jim flushed. “It’s no picnic, you know.”
“Being the Golden Boy of Starfleet?” Spock questioned. “No, I cannot imagine how it would be. There are many who think your career is unearned, but they’ve never served with you so they do not know what an excellent officer you are. Your fame is no fault of yours.”
Jim shrugged. “You’re the first in a long time to see what a terrible fame it is. I mean, yes, I grew up in the bosom of the upper brass of Starfleet, but their expectations weigh on me every single day. If I fall on my face, it’s not just myself I disappoint—there are a host of fussy old men who take great pride in my career.”
“My mother says that love and respect should never be taken for granted,” Spock murmured. “Admiral Archer obviously cares for you a great deal.”
“I called him grandpa in public until I was at the academy,” Jim admitted with a blush. “Even now if I get flustered or upset, I’ll revert to it. I know he doesn’t mind, but it’s not very professional.”
“Do you know where we are? In my mind or yours?”
“I believe we’re on the psionic plane,” Jim admitted. “Psionic energy allows a wide variety of mental gifts among various species, but on Earth, with Sentinels and Guides, it was different.”
“How?” Spock questioned. “Vulcans know of the psionic plane, of course, from the teachings of Surak, but the energy merely interacts with parts of our brain physiology.”
“On Betazed, they’ve explored a wider connection to the psionic plane, but still they are limited by the power of their own bodies to create mental landscapes that exist within them. But Sentinels and Guides are different—many theorists believe that our souls were once part of the psionic plane and that we’re born into a mortal form in times of great need. But our spirits could only come to those with the right genetics, and those with the potential were heavily targeted during the Eugenics Wars. Bioweapons and chemical warfare were the weapons of choice, and they were very inefficient. I’ve long known that my family once had both Sentinels and Guides—my ancestors worked hard to survive and suppress the gifts so that we wouldn’t be targets—not just for the Augments, but of those who gained power after the war.
“On Earth, Sentinels and Guides interacted with spirit animals that exist here and in our own reality. Eventually, shortly before they were targeted by Augments, extreme acts of telekinesis and psi-force events that, if given time to develop, could have saved them from extermination. They just didn’t advance fast enough to save themselves.”
“And here we are,” Spock murmured. “We carry their legacy, Captain.”
Kirk smiled. “Call me Jim, Spock. I’m pretty sure on your world we’re married.” He paused when Spock averted his gaze. “I’m sorry—I know that’s not something you’d have wanted on your own. I won’t make any demands on you, Spock, I swear it.”
“I’m the one who initiated the bond,” Spock murmured. “The one who lost control in such a terrible and shameful fashion.”
“You did very well, Spock. Sentinels in similar circumstances in the past on Earth accidently hurt their own family and friends in their rage. You followed my direction while I was gravely injured and in no position to stand my ground with you—and we weren’t bonded until we touched. I held my hand out to you, Spock. You might have started the bond, but I offered my hand. I knew, immediately, what you were—what we both were. We’re in this together, and there is no room for reproach or shame between us.”
Spock’s hands relaxed, and he took a deep breath. “I am not opposed to exploring our new circumstances…Jim.”
“Oh.” Jim took a deep breath and nodded. “Fantastic.”
“You said we had to complete our bond in order to leave this place?” Spock took a deep breath. “Do we have to do so immediately?”
“No, but why?”
Spock reached out a plucked a blade of grass from the ground. He rubbed it between his fingers. “I have never known such peace and safety before—not even in my mother’s embrace. I would like to stay for a just a little longer.”
Jim stood and offered Spock his hand. “Let’s take a walk then—we’re not far from a beach and a beautiful ocean with crystal clear water. I didn’t stop to look at it before.”
Spock took his hand as he moved to his feet and laced his fingers together with Kirk’s. He stared at their hands for a moment. “This is more intimate than sexual congress on my world.”
Jim nodded. “Is that a problem?”
“No, your touch is quite soothing. If I had known you were so pleasant to have in hand, I’d have acted on my attraction to you months ago.”
Jim blushed. “Spock.”
“Do not act so shocked—you are very aware of your appeal. You lead the way; I’ve not left the field since I arrived.”
“Gary Mitchell left a manifesto,” Archer said from the doorway from of the isolation suite.
Chris set aside his padd and glanced toward the room where his son and Spock were being treated. They’d found a Betazoid healer in New York who had agreed to come to San Francisco to work with the medical team on determining their status. Pike had been kicked out of the room for being distracting.
“He’s the man that stabbed Jim. They were talking before the attack and Jim seemed to know him.”
“Mitchell was at the academy with him—they were in the same dorm but didn’t share a room,” Archer explained. He sat down in a chair near Chris. “The media has been blaming FreeEarth for the attack, as you know. He was expelled for assaulting another student because they were alien. But he doesn’t appear to be part of the FreeEarth movement. They haven’t claimed ownership over the plan or his actions, which doesn’t surprise me since they don’t want Federation Security looking at them. So far, they’ve been a non-violent movement despite their rhetoric and public hatred.” He cleared his throat. “Did you know that our young Jim is the first ‘Fleet officer of alien heritage to be officially promoted to captain of a starship? Though it’s certainly a distinction his father would’ve earned had he lived.”
“But…” Pike trailed off. “How is that possible?”
“Well, the Federation is barely a hundred years old,” Archer said wryly. “I’m older, in fact.”
“I know that but…”
“And Spock is the first Vulcan to join Starfleet, and he’s half-Human. In fact, George Kirk was only the fifth of mixed heritage to join ‘Fleet. Our recruitment efforts among member worlds have never been good. The Federation’s complex and hostile relations with both the Klingons and the Romulans make non-Human members of the Federation less inclined toward service. The current senior class is eighty-seven percent Human, Chris, and most of the aliens are on the science track. Spock was transferred to the Enterprise over a year ago from a science vessel where he intended to stay. He’s made it clear that while he’s willing to serve at Kirk’s first officer, he’ll stay in the science track and has no interest in a command of his own at any point.”
“His Sentinel instincts were already surfacing then—before the event. He’d have never agreed to be Jim’s first officer otherwise.” Chris rubbed the back of his neck. “Spock’s parents will be in orbit within the next five hours. What kind of answers do we have for them?”
“Ambassador Sarek is making some serious moves in the higher reaches of the Federation,” Archer admitted. “The Vulcans put language throughout the charter to protect bondmates in every circumstance they could think of, including Starfleet service, which is good because several members of UE Council were looking for ways to remove them from Starfleet entirely so they could be pressed into government service on Earth.”
Chris frowned and sighed. “Neither one of them are entirely Human. What the hell did United Earth think they were going to accomplish with that? Both Vulcan and Betazed would lose their minds.”
“Which Vulcan has already made clear,” Archer agreed. “The Betazed Ambassador is on her way back to Earth, and I can imagine we’ll be getting a thorough telling-off on a planetary level.”
“Agreed. She’s Jim’s cousin.”
Archer sighed. “For fuck’s sake, that’s right—I think I blocked it out.”
“Tell me about the manifesto.”
“A bunch of crap about Human purity and xenophobia. Though he dedicated a whole page to how Earth didn’t need the Federation. The main theme of the document, however, was an analysis of Jim’s career—his academic performance at the Academy and his service aboard the Farragut. But his transfer to the Enterprise seemed to be the tipping point for Mitchell since he was obsessed with serving on her himself. Early on in the document, he blamed an unnamed alien for his being expelled from the Academy which ruined his chances of being the captain of the Enterprise as he deserved.
“By the end of it, he was blaming Jim specifically for his failures and outright accused him of stealing his place in Starfleet. Mitchell arranged for his company to bid on the construction of the new warp engines. The knife he used was made of transparent aluminum, our scanners didn’t even notice it. Which, of course, he knew since the engineering firm he works for made the damn things.”
“And the four men with him?”
“One was a disavowed member of FreeEarth, and the other three are a mystery currently. They’re being investigated. What we do know is that Mitchell recruited all four of them to the company personally when he became the Vice President of the R&D division. I’ll send the file and make sure that the Federation Security keeps you in the loop from this point forward.”
“Why include me now?” Chris asked.
Archer paused briefly then shrugged. “They had to eliminate you from the inquiry. Everyone in the room was investigated to make there weren’t other conspirators. That part of the investigation is ongoing, but they ruled you out first due to your current access to the two of them. Federation Security has also sent them a job offer—they informed me as a courtesy.”
“Jim won’t take it, and Spock is a scientist. I don’t think his coming online as a Sentinel will change that.” Pike stood and walked to the observation window. All of the doctors and healers were in a little huddle in the back of the room having a discussion. They didn’t look tense or worried so he moved away again. Intellectually, he understood why Federation Security had investigated him, but it was offensive. At least they hadn’t felt it necessary to make him come in for an interview.
– – – –
“What’s your favorite part of life on the ship?” Jim asked.
“In truth?” Spock questioned.
Jim laughed and picked up a shell which he flicked out into the ocean in front of them. “Yeah, the truth.”
“At the academy, I was often pressured into social events, and I was asked on dates that I had a hard time saying no to. Such mating rituals are baffling to Vulcans, and I wasn’t honestly aware that declining a date was acceptable and not considered rude.”
“Oh, no,” Jim said. “You’re very attractive. It must have been a nightmare.”
“The first four months were difficult,” Spock admitted. “Until my mother gave me a list of things I could say to avoid dating altogether. Of course, some did not take rejection well at all, but Vulcans are known for their physical strength, so I was not pressured into changing my mind.”
“So your favorite part of living on a ship is the lack of opportunities for social activities,” Jim said with a bemused smile.
Spock shrugged and picked up a conch shell. “I did not see an ocean until I came to Earth. It was overwhelming.” He flicked the shell out into the water. “I do not understand how that entertains you.” He sighed when Jim laughed. “What about you? What is your favorite part of living on a ship?”
“I was born in space, as you must know. I feel like I belong out there—exploring. Maybe I was made for it. My favorite part of being on the bridge is the first look we get at a planet we’ve never seen before, or a star ‘Fleet hasn’t studied, yet. It’s exciting—the unknown, the unexplored.”
“Your degree is in engineering.”
“I love spaceships,” Jim said without reserve. “Big, small, slow or fast—if I wasn’t suited for command, I’d be fighting with Scotty over his job. There is something amazing about the way we make our way in the universe.”
“You mean the physical aspect,” Spock stated.
“Yeah, and the other as well. Exploration and discovery are deeply rooted in the Human species. Just studying the history of Earth will tell you that—the way mankind sought to conquer the planet before they even had combustion engines—just using the wind to propel themselves across seas that must have appeared as vast to them as space does to us.”
“There may be obstacles—people who would prefer that you not remain on the Enterprise because of me,” Spock said. “And because of what my condition has revealed about you. I am…sorry.”
Jim turned to him, eyes shining with determination. “They’re not taking my ship from me, Spock.”
Spock inclined his head. “If they wish to court a war they will lose, then we must be equally resolved in our course of action.”
“If that’s your way of saying you have my back—I already knew that.” Jim grinned. “Do you know why I chose you as my first officer?”
“At one time, I would have said it was because I am superior to any other that was in consideration, but now I must wonder if it is merely because you are enamored with the cut of my trousers.”
Jim burst out laughing. “Noticed that, did you?”
“Nyota pointed it out to me several months ago, but I did not believe she was right—you appeared to be focused on several females on board. With the small bond we share, I have discerned that you are attracted to people rather than whatever gender they assign to themselves.”
“Well, you are superior, for the record. But I chose you because you’ve demonstrated an astounding amount of loyalty to our crew since you boarded the Enterprise. You might think that is common place in ‘Fleet, but it isn’t. I trust you—with my ship and with my crew.”
“Thank you,” Spock murmured.
“Why did you say yes?”
“I find the cut of your trousers aesthetically pleasing,” Spock said seriously, and raised an eyebrow when Jim’s mouth dropped open.
“You’re kind of evil. I like it, a lot.”
“I joined the Enterprise because of you,” Spock confessed as he looked away from his new bondmate. “I saw you in a debate two years ago at the academy—you were so compelling that several times during the event I was left breathless. It was both fascinating and uncomfortable. When I was given an opportunity to serve on the ship where you were the first officer, I found myself tempted beyond reason.” He cleared his throat. “I wanted to understand you and my reaction to you.”
Jim stared. “Now you know.”
“Now I know,” Spock agreed. “I do not regret it.”
“If we hadn’t met—you’d have probably never come online,” Jim pointed out.
“I find such a line of thinking deeply disturbing.” He jerked his head suddenly and frowned.
“Someone has attempted to touch my mind,” Spock murmured. “The touch is familiar but…” He flinched. “My father is here.”
He closed his eyes and Jim watched curiously as Spock’s face went curiously placid. At that moment, he looked unapproachable and as Vulcan as he’d ever seen. Early on, Jim had noted that Spock worked hard to carefully bank his emotions and to moderate his body language in such a way as to not demonstrate whatever he might be feeling at any given time. In truth, he was far better at it than most full-blooded Vulcans Kirk had encountered during his time with Starfleet. Spock was quite ruthless with how he dealt with emotional responses in his day-to-day living.
He opened his eyes and focused on Jim. “We’ve been unconscious for seventy-six hours, and they are concerned.”
“Are you ready to wake?” Jim asked. He offered Spock his hands and smiled when the Vulcan took them immediately. “We can stay a while longer if you like. I think we’ll be able to come back in meditation or even in our dreams.”
“I would like to return,” Spock murmured. “There is peace here.”
“No, I believe the safety is you.” He flushed when Jim smiled. “How do we complete the bond?”
“You reached out to me when before we came here—I think I just have to reach back.” He stepped into Spock’s space. “Kiss me.”
“You require a kiss to complete our mental bond?”
“No, I just want one,” Jim said with a grin and hummed a little when Spock leaned into his space.
His eyes fluttered shut as warm, soft lips brushed against his. He’d never known a simple kiss to be so erotic. He let go a little, mentally, and the small connection between them bloomed. Jim released Spock’s hand and shuddered as he was pulled closer and the kiss deepened. The bond heated and caught fire in their minds, searing through them—burning and binding until there was nothing to separate them.
Spock broke the kiss and pressed his mouth against Jim’s jaw. “T’hy’la.”
“What does it mean?” Jim whispered as the psionic plane started to shift and swirl around them.
“Friend, lover, life companion, brother, soulmate.” Spock trailed fingers along Jim’s neck as he spoke. “Everything. It means you’re everything.”
– – – –
Jim woke between one deep breath and another. His eyes flicked open and centered on his father. “Dad.”
“Hey, kid,” Pike said before he was prodded aside by Bones. “How do you feel?”
“Hurts a little,” Jim said, and his hand went to the blue medical seal on his stomach.
“Don’t touch it,” Bones ordered as he activated a tricorder. “I haven’t closed the wound.”
“Why not?” Jim asked in confusion, but he turned his head and looked at Spock who was staring at him. “You okay?”
“I am well.”
Jim nodded and turned back to Bones. “Why haven’t you closed the wound?”
“Your body chemistry has been changing—rapidly. We were waiting for it calm down so we could calibrate the skin regenerator. Unless you’d prefer I use a needle and thread.”
“No, I’d rather you didn’t get primitive on me,” Jim said. “Why is my body chemistry changing?”
Bones set aside the tricorder and crossed his arms. “You tell me.”
Jim considered that and frowned. “My brain is changing? Why? The historical records never talked about Guides having physiological changes—just Sentinels.”
“Your Betazoid genetics were largely dormant because your mother was entirely human. That is changing, and you surpassed the upper reaches of normal human brain function about twenty-four hours ago. We have an instructor from Betazed en route to Earth. You’re going to have to retrain your brain, kid, because within the next week you’re going to be a full-blown Alpha Prime.”
Jim swallowed hard and pushed down the horror that he couldn’t contain. He turned to his dad. “Are they going to try to take my command?”
“No, Jim, of course not.”
“Alpha Prime Guides had a host of mental and psychic abilities.”
“Which is why you will need to be taught control,” Sarek said smoothly. “Fortunately, the teacher they’ve requested from Betazed is bonded with a very accomplished Vulcan scientist, and he’s agreed to teach you as well. They’ll join you on the Enterprise once you’re ready to return to your ship, Captain Kirk.”
“Jim, sir. You can call me Jim.” He ran a hand through his hair and focused on Bones. “It’s going to sound weird, but I think I can manipulate the psionic field that is currently surrounding me which is probably what is causing the weird readings on your equipment and my body chemistry problems.”
McCoy picked up the tricorder. “Prove it.”
Jim closed his eyes and centered his mind. He felt the energy that had been moving around him since he’d woke still as he touched it.
Jim stayed still when he felt the medical seal being removed and the gentle hum of the skin regenerator was only a small distraction. He said nothing for nearly four minutes, concentrating on keeping the energy calm and still.
“Okay, done,” Bones murmured and turned off the regenerator. “Damnedest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Jim opened his eyes as he released the energy and realized the air around him was glowing. The gold light thinned out and disappeared as he relaxed and looked at Spock, who appeared the only person in the room who wasn’t unduly disturbed by the display. He frowned and turned his dad. “Can I have a shirt or something?”
Pike laughed. “Yeah, let me get one from the nurse.”
“I wish to know what has happened while we were unconscious,” Spock said and focused on his father. He raised an eyebrow.
Sarek raised an eyebrow right back.
Jim grinned—amused beyond any appropriate measure by the two of them. His father returned with a T-shirt and helped him put it on which was good since moving hurt. “I’d like a painkiller that won’t knock me out.”
“Bones is preparing something,” Pike said and sat down on the edge of the bed. “Before I tell you what you need to know, I need to ask you some questions.”
“How well did you know Gary Mitchell?”
Jim considered how to answer that and sighed. “He started the academy the same year I did, and he was friendly with me—it didn’t take me long to figure out he found me attractive. But he didn’t seem all that enamored with who I was, which I found relieving. We were close for a bit but not intimate, though he made it clear he wanted to sleep with me. He was an attractive guy, physically, but something about him put me off, and I couldn’t place it.
“I had a double course load, tested out of a bunch of first-year classes, which he thought was pure nepotism. In the classes we did share, my practical work was leaps and bounds ahead of his, which regularly pissed him off, but he pretended it didn’t. Shortly into our second year at the academy, he switched out of the engineering track and into astrophysics. Second semester, we took the same seminar—The History of Starfleet.
“The last section of the seminar covered the loss of the Kelvin, and the instructor offered to let me skip that lecture and not be penalized for it, but I stuck it out. Afterward, Gary followed me back to the dorms and demanded to know why I hadn’t told him that my father was half alien. Honestly, I didn’t know there were people who weren’t aware of that. Betazed took great pains to make sure everyone knew he was as much their hero as he was Earth’s. I told Gary that. He demanded to know if I’d been sneaking around in his head and would’ve probably struck me if Sulu hadn’t interrupted us. A month later, he attacked a Trill who lived on the same floor he did in the dorms, and he was expelled.”
“He thought he was in love with you,” Spock said.
Jim exhaled sharply and frowned. “Perhaps? But it was ugly and twisted if that was the case. He told me once that he liked that I was playing hard to get—that when he finally got to…” He trailed off with a look toward Amanda Grayson. “He made it clear that taking me to bed would be a victory.”
“I hate men like that,” Amanda muttered. She held out her hand to Jim. “Dr. Amanda Grayson.”
Jim took her hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Dr. Grayson. I’ve been following your work for years—since before I joined Starfleet, in fact. My engineer and I have vehement arguments about your transwarp theory.”
Amanda smiled. “I’d like to join the next one.” She scooted up his bed as he released her hand. “I forgive you for marrying my son in my absence.”
Jim grinned. “That’s good to know.” He returned his attention to his Dad. “You had more than one question?”
“Yes, and be prepared to answer these in an official setting for Starfleet Security, and there will probably be an inquiry as well. When is the last time you spoke with Gary Mitchell before the promotion ceremony?”
“The day he found out my father was half-Betazoid. Though he had a habit of leaving me long rambling voice messages whenever he saw me on the news. Most often, he would be drunk, and he’d express his disappointment in the fact that I wasn’t entirely Human, which made me flawed and imperfect in his eyes. He said my Betazoid heritage ruined me just like it ruined my father and neither of us should’ve been allowed in Starfleet. When I was promoted to commander and transferred to the Enterprise, he sent me a half-hour communication ranting about how I was living his dream, and I should be ashamed of myself. I never responded to any of his messages, but I kept them on a padd which is my quarters aboard ship.”
“Why keep them?” Chris asked.
“I was off-planet so he wasn’t technically stalking me, but I did figure if I was ever back on Earth for an extended period of time that it could be an issue, so I kept the messages as evidence so I could contact Federation Security Services for an order of protection. Nyota said a history of inappropriate behavior on his part would make getting the legal protection easier.”
“So she’s aware of the messages?”
“The last few dozen came through her department on the Enterprise, and she was tasked with handling all the senior staff’s personal communications. She taught me how to preserve them on the padd so that they could be authenticated. She’d have no problems retrieving the data for the FSS if they want them.”
Pike handed him a communicator. “Tell her to transfer the data to FSS, but keep the original on the Enterprise.”
Jim glanced toward Spock who looked calm but was radiating fury. “Calm down. You’re going to give me a headache, and Bones still hasn’t brought me any pain relief.”
“I’ll check on that,” Amanda decided and left the edge of the bed.
Jim opened the comm unit and Spock merely nodded briefly then closed his eyes. He felt the anger retreat instantly and was relieved that his bondmate was so adept at controlling his emotional state. “Kirk to Enterprise.”
“Captain, it’s great to hear your voice, sir.”
“I figured I’d had enough beauty sleep.” He paused. “Chekov are you sitting in my chair?”
“We’re docked, sir.”
Like that was any excuse for them to put a twenty-year-old boy genius in his chair. “Right. I need Lt. Uhura and have someone bring me a padd with the duty schedule.”
“I’ll bring it down personally, sir. I’m transferring your comm to Lt. Uhura’s quarters.”
A small tone sounded, and Uhura answered sleepily. “Chekov is the ship on fire? You promised me five hours of sleep.”
Jim laughed. “Sorry to wake you, Lieutenant.”
“Captain!” she squeaked. “You’re awake. Great. That little…” There was a thud, and she huffed. “For the love of…Sorry! Captain, what can I do for you?”
“Calm down and stop running around your quarters first. Second, I need you to go to my quarters and copy all the data from my padd regarding Gary Mitchell then send it to my father and CC the head of Federation Security Service and Admiral Archer.”
“I have the data ready, sir, I was just waiting for you to wake up. We’ve been rearranging the captain’s suite to prepare for you and Commander Spock to return to the ship so all of your personal items are currently in crates in my quarters to protect your privacy. Chekov took charge of cleaning out the commander’s quarters since he was the only one on board who really knew what to do with the fire pot and the commander is probably very used to his scents which we read was important to a new Sentinel’s environmental adjustment.”
“Speaking of Pavel—why is he in my chair?”
“Would you like a well-structured official-sounding lie or the truth?”
“The truth, please.”
“Scotty got tired of people trying to come on board to take over in your absence, so he brought the ship into dock and put her in maintenance mode. Then he and Giotto crawled into a bottle of whiskey to drown out their embarrassment in having not attended the ceremony and, therefore, being unable to defend your honor and person from a crazy stalker. Well, mostly Giotto is really upset he wasn’t there to help Commander Spock kill all those guys and Scotty never turns down an opportunity to drink someone else’s sorrows away.
“Some jerk from Intelligence came on board twenty hours ago and tried to interview us about you and Mr. Spock, so we spent fifteen hours being as unavailable to him as possible, but he didn’t bother Chekov, so the kid got to sleep while the rest us did not. So we gave Pavel the bridge and the rest of us went to sleep.” She yawned. “Can I go back to sleep? I rebuilt two communication stations to avoid the jerk.”
“Is the jerk still on board my ship?” Jim asked. “What’s his name?”
“He said his name was Walter Rugg. And no, he’s on longer aboard because he tried to question Sulu during his workout and got accidently stabbed in the arm. It was just a little scratch, but he acted like he’d been maimed for life. Hikaru was using his practice foil. Mr. Rugg left the ship to get medical attention.”
“Go back to sleep, Uhura, after you send the transmission.”
“Aye, Captain.” She yawned, and Jim closed the communicator. He put it on the table beside his bed when his father waved off having it returned to him.
“Dad, I’d like to speak with this Mr. Rugg.”
“Are you sure?”
“Oh, yes, very.” Jim sat back in his pillows as Bones returned with a hypospray. “What’s on the menu, Bones?”
“Mild muscle relaxant and pain relief, non-drowsy for most people so we’ll see how it treats you. Commander Spock, we’ve used a skin regenerator on your hands, and three of your bones in your left hand were fractured, so you spent about five hours under a bone knitter when you were first brought in.” McCoy gave Jim the pain relief then focused on Spock. “I’ve ordered up your preferred pain medication if you need it.”
“I am in good health, Doctor.”
“No, headache or sensory strain?” Bones questioned as he approached Spock’s bed with a tricorder. “You’ve had no training, so your senses should be spiking horrifically based on historical data.”
“When I first woke, the room was too bright. I decided to see less, and the light receded. I could hear conversations from all over the building, so I ignored them one by one until only the occupants in this room were being acknowledged consciously. I’m still processing all of the data I’m sensing and could access it if required.”
Bones stared. “Vulcans.”
“It appears that being a hobgoblin has become quite useful,” Spock said, and Jim laughed.
“Once, I called you that once while I was under the influence of alien sex pollen,” Bones groused. “Alien sex pollen that you brought back to the ship.”
“It was not alien sex pollen,” Jim protested. “Stop blaming Spock’s plant for your one-night-stand with that Klaestron ambassador and his wife. Absolutely no one else engaged in an untoward sexual liaison.”
“Yes, it is not my fault you find genital tentacles stimulating, Doctor,” Spock said primly as he rearranged his blankets.
“Spock don’t say genital tentacles in front of your father,” Amanda said sternly and grinned when both her husband and son flushed a pale green. “He’s delicate.” She turned to McCoy. “I’ve heard females have four tentacles and the males have five. Is that true?”
McCoy blushed furiously. “Yes, ma’am, it’s true.”
Amanda laughed with delight.
Jim set aside the padd that Pavel had brought him and focused on the man who Bones was escorting into the suite. “You must be Walter Rugg.”
“Yes, Captain Kirk, thank you for speaking with me today.” His gaze drifted briefly toward Spock who was reading on his padd.
“You were on my ship, unauthorized,” Jim said and watched the man fidget under his gaze. “I checked with Starfleet Command to ensure that they had not superseded my authority on the matter and they assured me they had not. I’m sure Admiral Archer and your boss will be having a lengthy discussion about your breach of protocol. Is it within your ability to tell me your rank, Mr. Rugg?”
“Lt. Commander, sir.” Rugg cleared his throat. “I was given orders to access you and Commander Spock for assignment within our branch of service, Captain Kirk.”
“So you harassed my already stressed crew for personal information about myself and my spouse to ascertain whether or not I was fit to take a job I haven’t expressed a single bit of interest in,” Jim said.
“Spouse?” Rugg repeated with a bewildered frown.
“Bond equals marriage on Vulcan,” Jim explained. “Which, of course, makes myself and Commander Spock completely and utterly incapable of serving in Starfleet Intelligence in any capacity since the first and most important mandate for SI is that your operatives remain free of any sort of intimate commitments during the course of service.” He smiled pleasantly, and Rugg flushed.
“Yes, well, exceptions can be made in extraordinary cases.”
“What exactly would we do for SI?” Spock asked and set aside his padd. “Technology makes practically anything I could do with my senses redundant, and the Federation charter has twenty-three different clauses regarding the use of empaths and telepaths in Starfleet as it relates to espionage. Which means that Jim would have to file no less than a hundred pages of forms to use his gifts legally—every single time he used them in the service of SI. Otherwise, his findings could not be used in a legal proceeding of any kind.” He stared at Rugg. “Jim hates filling out forms.”
“I do hate filling out forms,” Jim agreed. “A hundred pages?”
“Yes, but that is only if you were to be asked to use your empathic abilities to spy on private citizens on a Federation planet on behalf of Starfleet Intelligence as a spy. The form to gather information on Starfleet personnel would be an additional eighty-six pages.”
Jim shook his head. “I don’t have time for that. It’d take me a week to ask one person a question.”
“Then you’d have to be subjected to a round of medical tests to confirm that your abilities are sound and functional before the answer to that question could be considered legally valid,” Spock pointed out. “If one follows the rules, of course.”
“I love rules,” Jim told Rugg then grinned at his father when Pike snorted indelicately.
“With all due respect, Captain Kirk, I don’t appreciate this game you’re playing with me.”
“Very well,” Jim said, and the pleasant smile fell away. “The answer is no. I have no interest in working for or with the Intelligence Service. Frankly, I worked my ass off to get where I am, and as soon as I’m released from this bed, I will be returning to my ship where I will accept orders for a five-year exploratory mission.”
“Orders can change in the blink of an eye,” Rugg pointed out.
“I am the captain of the starship USS Enterprise, Lt. Commander Rugg.”
“Today. But what of tomorrow? Has it crossed your mind yet, Captain Kirk, that what you want isn’t important to some people?”
“Perhaps they are suicidal,” Spock said. He’d picked up his padd again when Jim hadn’t been looking. He used an elegant sweep of fingers to change the screen. “After all, anyone who would disregard my Guide’s wishes is…” He turned to Amanda Grayson. “Mother? What was that Human idiom?”
Amanda smiled, dark eyes bright with amusement. “Asking for trouble.”
Spock hummed under his breath and returned his attention to his padd. “Yes, that. I will never understand a Human’s capacity to repeatedly seek their own destruction. It is irrational.”
“You can’t threaten me…” Rugg trailed off when Spock looked at him.
“I did not threaten you, Lt. Commander Rugg.” He inclined his head. “Unless you are explicitly stating that you would force my Captain to do something against his expressly stated wishes, then, yes, I am threatening to kill you.”
“Vulcans are pacifists,” Rugg protested.
“I am half-Human. You are making me uncomfortable, Mr. Rugg. Leave.” He returned his attention back to his padd. “If you urinate in your clothing in my presence, I may be ill from the smell of it. I will be forced to tell Dr. McCoy, and he will be most displeased with you.”
Rugg practically ran from the room.
Jim turned to Spock with a broad smile. “You’re my favorite.”
“Of course I am,” Spock agreed.
– – – –
An hour after Starfleet Medical released them from what Jim had fast been considering a hostage situation, they were seated at a table with a large group of people—Starfleet brass, members of the Federation Council, a few officers from Federation Security and a few other people that Jim figured were Starfleet Intelligence. Ambassador Sarek and Bones had come to the meeting with them; he wasn’t sure if they were technically invited or not.
“I’m glad to see you up and about, Jim.” Archer rocked in his chair as he spoke. “Starfleet Medical tells me that you’ve both exceeded expectations regarding your recently developed gifts.”
“Actually, Admiral, I believe I’ve essentially been coming online as a Guide for a year and didn’t notice. As those with mixed Betazoid heritage can sometimes age into abilities that are common with that species, I didn’t realize there was anything to be concerned about. I did encounter some changes and challenges when I woke up. While we were unconscious, we did interact on the psionic plane which I think allowed both of us to settle. I’m sure Dr. McCoy’s report to you also included information about the increase of psionic energy around us both.”
“Yes,” Archer murmured. “We’re here today because some people have a few concerns about the change in your relationship and the abilities Commander Spock has gained since coming online as a Sentinel.”
“Okay.” Jim’s stomach knotted, but he kept his posture relaxed.
He really wasn’t prepared to discuss a lot of what might be asked. While they were technically married, he and Spock hadn’t been afforded a moment of privacy since they woke up. Neither had been prepared to toss the parents from the room, so they’d mostly messaged each other back and forth with their personal padds like a couple of teenagers.
“Captain Kirk, how certain are you of your ability to control Commander Spock should he have another episode? He demonstrated a horrific amount of potential for violence.”
Jim had never liked James Komack which sucked since they shared a name. As a child, he’d been really disappointed to meet the man. “He’s Vulcan.”
“And?” Komack demanded roughly.
Jim raised an eyebrow. “Did you not take a course in exobiology while you were at Starfleet Academy, sir?”
The man flushed. “No, it wasn’t required at the time.”
“Ah,” Jim said with a nod. “Commander Spock has always had the potential for a great deal of violence, Commodore. Vulcans are on average three times stronger than the most physically fit Human being. He was also taught hand-to-hand combat at the Academy just like every other cadet, though in his case, it was probably unnecessary since he trained from early childhood in ke-tarya, which is a Vulcan form of martial arts.”
“He ripped a man’s head off,” Komack snapped.
“And he could’ve done that without coming online as a Sentinel,” Jim said patiently. “As I explained. Mr. Mitchell was armed, dangerous, and had already demonstrated a marked lack of concern for life. And besides, Spock didn’t actually rip his head off. That fell off during transport of the body.”
Archer snorted and tried to look stern when everyone looked his way.
“You haven’t answered the real question, Captain Kirk. Can you control him?”
Jim frowned at him which he didn’t normally do in the direction of superior officers. He’d been taught early in his life to respect the chain of command whenever it was possible to do so. “Commander Spock isn’t a pet, Commodore Komack.”
“Is a feral Sentinel any different than an animal?” Komack questioned. “He killed five men in under a minute, Captain, and I’m not sure it’s wise to put him in a confined environment like a starship.”
“I could kill five people in under a minute,” Jim said bluntly and sat back in his chair. “I could kill five hundred in under a minute given the right tools. Though I’d have been provoked into taking such an action, much the same way Spock was. He obeyed my orders because I am his captain. Now, I’m more. He has always acted in the best interest of the crew while he served on the Enterprise, and I do not expect any differently in the future.”
“Except now his most pressing concern will be your safety.”
Spock shifted in his chair. “The captain’s safety is the most pressing concern of every single person currently serving on the USS Enterprise. When he was attacked, the entire crew returned to the ship as quickly as possible. Within an hour of the attack, all four hundred and twenty-seven current crew members were on board, at their stations, prepared to render any sort of assistance he might require. That is the duty of those who serve on a starship. An instructor at the academy told me once that there was no greater shame for the crew of a ship than to lose their captain through negligence or dereliction of duty.”
He leaned forward. “There seems to be some misconception regarding the incident that saw my Sentinel traits surface.” He paused and shifted the padd he’d brought into the room around in front of him as if he were considering his words. “I was not feral. Due to the way my mind has been trained since birth, I do not believe I am capable of having a feral episode outside of a deeply personal circumstance that I will not be discussing here for any reason.”
“You murdered five men!” Komack snapped. “Are you saying you were in your right mind?”
“I did not murder anyone,” Spock responded evenly. “I defended my captain and a Guide, which is my duty as an officer in Starfleet and as a Sentinel. My actions are considered justified per the Starfleet General Orders and Regulations and the laws governing the defense of a Guide as outlined in the Federation Charter. I did not start the altercation, Commodore Komack, but I did end it.”
“And we should just take your word for it, Commander?” Jim had seen the man at times at events, but he couldn’t remember his name.
“I have no reason to mislead anyone in this room regarding my abilities, Admiral Bennett,” Spock said. “Federation law prohibits Starfleet from discriminating against me because of my status as a Sentinel. If my career is unduly impacted by my natural abilities without due cause, the Federation would be required to sanction Starfleet and the officers involved would face confinement in a Federation prison.”
Bennett nodded. “You’ve done your homework then. As the head of Starfleet Intelligence, I feel compelled to offer you both a place within my organization, but I also acknowledge that you’re both far too well known to be any real use to me. That being said, I’m always available to you should you discover information that you believe is uniquely suited to my purposes.”
“Of course, sir,” Jim said and focused on Archer. “If you’re working your way toward telling me that I’m being pulled from the Enterprise, I’d prefer a blunt statement.”
Archer snorted. “I attempted to send a temporary leadership team to the ship to keep things organized, and Scott parked the damn thing and put it in maintenance mode. Then that astounding young woman you’ve got running Communications sent a politely worded request to not send any additional, unnecessary people to the ship because it was upsetting younger, inexperienced members of the crew and facilitating rumors of your death, which was not conducive to a healthy shipboard atmosphere. So no, son, we’re not going to take the command you worked your ass off for the better part of a decade to earn. Some of these people have questions—and that’s all they have.” He turned slightly. “You’ve not met Adam Cramer; he is the head of Federation Security here in San Francisco. He’d like to clear up a few details regarding your relationship with Gary Mitchell.”
Jim focused on Cramer and tried not to shift in his chair. The situation with Mitchell made him feel stupid, and that was irritating because he’d done nothing wrong.
Cramer cleared his throat. “I’ve reviewed the communications that Mitchell sent you over the years, Captain Kirk. Why didn’t you report his behavior to Starfleet or to Federation Security?”
“A careful review of the law told me that he wasn’t doing anything inappropriate,” Jim said. “He never threatened me in the messages—voice or text. Though he appeared to pay careful attention to my career, he isn’t the only one to do so. I was born in the middle of a tragedy, and there are those in the Federation who view me as some sort of symbol. When I was young, it was difficult to understand, and I lashed out at the press a lot as a result. It only increased the attention, unfortunately. I placed limits on civilians’ ability to contact me, but Gary Mitchell was hired almost immediately after he was expelled from the Academy to work for an engineering company that had contracts with Starfleet, which gave him access to our internal communication system. Starfleet doesn’t have a mechanism in place to block individuals from contacting you without some sort of criminal offense. I logged the messages and didn’t reply to any of them.”
“Do you think ignoring him provoked the attack? Forced his hand?”
“Are you blaming me?” Jim asked. “Blaming me for being stalked and nearly murdered by a xenophobe? Is this how you treat all victims of violent crimes, Mr. Cramer?”
Cramer flushed. “That’s not…”
“It is exactly what you meant.” The only woman in the room was with the Federation Council and Vulcan. Jim had only ever seen pictures of T’Pau, and Spock had informed him that the woman was his great aunt. “Should Kirk have indulged this man’s attention? Answered his messages, sent long letters in return so as to not offend his delicate sensibilities?”
Jim exchanged a startled look with Spock.
“No, of course not, Councilor T’Pau,” Cramer said and flushed when she raised an eyebrow at him. He turned back to Jim. “Regardless of the fact that he was breaking no law, Captain Kirk, you should’ve reported the obsessional nature of Mitchell’s interest in you.”
“I haven’t seen Mitchell since the academy,” Jim said. “And tell me, Mr. Cramer, how often does Federation Security investigate situations where no laws are being violated?” He waved a hand. “Don’t bother prevaricating. I already had my people look that up for me—you don’t—not ever.”
“Former intimate partner harassment is treated differently,” Cramer pointed out.
“I was never in an intimate relationship with Gary Mitchell, though I did attempt to be his friend. He tried to make a more intimate connection with me, but I refused. I’m sure you’ve interviewed some of our classmates and come away with a different impression. When I refused to sleep with him, he told his friends that I did and that rumor spread. Objectively, I’m attractive, and that caused both good and negative attention that I had grown used to by the time I was at the academy, and I ignored the rumors.”
“He had personal journals from the academy where he gave extremely lurid details about his sexual relationship with you,” Cramer said.
Jim huffed and exhaled sharply. “I don’t care what he said, Mr. Cramer. Why exactly is this even an issue? And why are you prepared to believe the words of an obviously troubled person over me?”
“Because it would be better for them all politically if they can make this an issue of interpersonal violence,” Spock said. “They want to paint Gary Mitchell as an insane, rejected lover rather than a xenophobic terrorist who circumvented both Starfleet Security and Federation Security. He passed multiple background checks, was given a security clearance for the deepest reaches of Starfleet and was allowed unfettered access to our facilities, both here and in New York. If they shift blame to you, they don’t have to accept any blame themselves.”
Jim nodded and focused on Cramer who looked uncomfortable. “And he’s not the one who can read your mind—well not without getting his hands on you, which would be easy enough to accomplish. I did not have a relationship with Gary Mitchell, but even if I had, your failure to notice that he was a threat wouldn’t be my fault. He was thrown out of the academy for the physical assault of a Trill and was furious with me when he found out I had Betazoid heritage—he said I’d ruined his plans. I assume he meant his plans to use my name and my father’s sacrifice to get ahead. He was that sort—prepared to live on the accomplishments of others. I imagine he was hired to work in that engineering firm by a lover.”
Cramer flushed. “He married the daughter of the owner three months after he left the academy.”
“He didn’t leave, he was thrown out,” Jim said. He waved a hand when Cramer started to speak. “No, this part of the conversation is over. I’ve told you the truth, and I will deliver a statement to the press gathered outside the building saying the same. Pit yourself against me, Mr. Cramer, if you wish.”
“We’ve already drafted a statement for you.”
“We as in Federation Security?” Jim questioned. “There are several people in this room who could put words in my mouth, Mr. Cramer, you aren’t one of them.”
“Admiral Archer…” Cramer started
Archer held up a hand. “Cramer, I’m not going to order my grandson to publicly accept blame for your fuck up. You’re out of your damn mind.”
“Grandson?” Cramer asked weakly.
Archer pointed at Pike. “I raised that one from five years old.”
Pike inclined his head toward Jim. “And I raised that one from about five weeks old.”
Jim stood. “That’s what happens in the service, Mr. Cramer, we take care of each other and the families that get made while we serve. A hundred and twenty-six children were orphaned when the Kelvin was destroyed, and nearly all of them were taken in, adopted, and raised by other Starfleet personnel. And all of them entered the Academy the year they turned eighteen. In the end, that’s why Gary Mitchell wasn’t made for Starfleet—he didn’t understand loyalty, sacrifice or what it meant to be genuinely brave in the face of the unknown.”
– – – –
Because his ship was still locked down for maintenance, they took a shuttle through the space dock and into the main cargo bay. Sulu had retrieved them personally which had amused Jim more than he wanted to admit. It was late in the evening when they boarded, so only essential services were running, and all but one science lab was closed. Sulu walked with them all the way to the captain’s suite—where they’d been assured all of their things had been moved.
Uhura was standing by the door, looking like she hadn’t just darted out of the turbolift that led to the bridge a deck above them. Jim could almost picture it despite the lack of evidence.
“Captain, our guests from Betazed have arrived, and I’ve taken the liberty of asking Lt. Commander Sulu to assign them a yeoman to get settled into personal quarters. The Betazoid is named Jaret Molia, and his husband is a Vulcan named Taval. Yeoman Rand has already met with them about a schedule for training, and they’re aware of how extensive your duties are on the ship. Commander Scott currently has the conn, but he’ll be turning it over to Sulu within the next hour. Neither you nor Commander Spock are expected on the bridge for twenty-four hours. We’ll leave maintenance mode in a little less than fifteen hours and are slated for departure in thirty-six hours.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Jim murmured. “Commander Spock’s parents will be boarding the ship in several hours. Please make sure they are escorted to appropriate guest quarters. Our first order of business will be returning them to Vulcan.”
“Of course sir. Have a good evening.” She turned on her heel and took Sulu with her.
“If the uniforms get any shorter—I’ll have to complain,” Jim said with a sigh.
“There are plenty who’d not thank you,” Spock pointed out as he entered a code for the door. “Pavel sent me a temporary code for the door. We can set our own later.”
“Sounds good.” Jim followed his Sentinel into their new quarters, and the door slid shut behind them. “They’ve set up separate bedrooms for us.”
Spock turned to face him. “I’d prefer that we share a bed but if you’re not inclined toward that, then separate beds will be acceptable.” He tucked his hands behind his back. “Sex need not be part of our relationship immediately—we are not strangers, but we are new intimate partners.”
Jim stared at him. “Most wouldn’t think that would bother me.”
“You have an unearned reputation for sexual promiscuity. I know for a fact you haven’t had a lover in two years—not since you and Dr. Marcus determined that you were incompatible romantically.”
“I made a mistake there, and April let me make it,” Jim said with a sigh and rubbed his head. “I was just relieved that I didn’t screw up so badly that I cost the Enterprise the best exobiologist in the ‘Fleet.”
He sat down on the small sofa that used to be in his quarters, and Spock joined him. After a few seconds, he tangled their fingers together, and the Vulcan’s breath hitched slightly.
“T’hy’la,” Jim murmured.
“T’hy’la,” Spock agreed. “I am relieved to be here with you, Jim.”
“There is no other I’d rather have by my side,” Jim said. “My dad once told me that I’d find my best destiny in Starfleet, and he was right. I just don’t think he realized it would be a person rather than a ship.”
“Your seduction technique is superior,” Spock murmured as Jim rubbed a calloused thumb over the palm of his hand.
“Have I seduced you, Spock?”
“Utterly, Ashayam.” He turned to stare at him. “It means…”
“Beloved,” Jim finished and smiled when Spock’s posture relaxed. They moved close together—it was the closest they’d been since they left the psionic plane. He hummed under his breath when Spock nosed against his hair. “In truth, I really am quite enamored with the fit of your trousers.” Spock made a soft huffy sound against him. Jim lifted his head to stare in shock. “Did you just laugh?”
“Of course not. You obviously need an extended period of rest.”
Jim might have believed him if he hadn’t felt the amusement radiating off his bondmate. He settled back into Spock’s arms with a huff. “Right.”
“The moment I set eyes on you, I felt like you were made for me,” Spock murmured. “Vulcans do not believe in such things as fate and destiny, but I was fortunate enough to have a Human mother. She assures me it is perfectly okay if I believe.”
Jim grinned, shifted slightly and kissed Spock’s lips gently. “Your seduction technique is pretty great as well.”