Author: Keira Marcos
Fandom: Star Trek (AOS)
Challenge: Fluff Bingo (Game Night)
Genre: Romance, First Time, Science Fiction, Alternate Universe
Warnings: No beta
Word Count: 4,338
Author’s Note: I know nothing about regular chess, much less 3d chess. It is my headcanon that Jim Kirk is 1/3 Betazoid through his father, George. I explored this concept in Tangled Destinies. In this ‘verse, Jim was serving as Pike’s First Officer on the Enterprise when Nero attacked Vulcan, so he joined Star Fleet sooner than he did in the AOS movies. They were able to prevent the destruction of Vulcan.
Summary: Spock has issues. He could write a whole novel on them if he were inclined to such displays of angst. But he isn’t. Besides, Jim wouldn’t even read it because he’d rather read letters from Ambassador Spock. Not that Spock cares, because he doesn’t. Clearly.
– – – –
Spock is not jealous of the intimate friendship Ambassador Spock had with his own James Kirk. It would be illogical and irrational to be jealous of the relationship an alternate version of himself had with an alternate version of Captain Kirk. What he does know that he should’ve never agreed to mind meld with the older version of himself, but the lure of a lifetime of memories from another universe was too much temptation. The knowledge he’d gained was invaluable, but the personal consequences have been frustrating, to say the least.
Six months into the five-year exploratory mission and Spock can’t say that Captain Kirk is his friend—much less that they have a friendship that will define him. The man alternately fascinates and infuriates him. In the last month, he’d only fantasized about strangling him once, which is a marked improvement over previous months. So, he’s not jealous of the friendship he saw in Ambassador Spock’s mind of another James T. Kirk.
What he is intensely jealous of—is the friendship that Ambassador Spock has with his James Kirk. Spock knows that they exchange communications regularly—often several times in a week. Nyota had been pointed in her assessment of the situation, and Spock had been unable to argue with her conclusion. He was jealous. He was so jealous that he’s kind of stupid with it.
His relationship with Uhura had been intense after the near-destruction of Vulcan, but it had quickly become apparent that they were not compatible. They’d managed to end their romantic relationship before they’d damaged each other. Spock was grateful for that and also for her continued friendship—even if she did laugh at him concerning his ire toward his older counterpart.
Kirk was lounging in the captain’s chair, smiling at his PADD, which meant he’d gotten another letter from Ambassador Spock. It was infuriating. At first, he hadn’t understood why the older Vulcan insisted on sending Kirk letters, and then he’d learned somewhat accidentally that his captain had a long-standing love affair with leisure reading. Kirk received five to ten fictional novels a month, as well as a variety of non-fiction works via databurst to the ship.
The letters from the Ambassador made sense then. The older version of himself knew how much Kirk would appreciate the letters and the time he was taking to communicate with him in such a way. It was evident that the captain adored the correspondence—as Jim practically radiated his amusement and happiness whenever he read one of the ridiculously long missives.
Spock stopped pretending to focus on his own work and turned in this chair. “Captain.”
“Ambassador Spock sends his regards and mentioned that they’ve completed the construction on the new VSA on schedule.”
Spock nodded his thanks. “That is gratifying news.”
“He’s agreed to teach there, though he seemed pretty amused by it.” Jim lifted an eyebrow.
Spock barely refrained from frowning in remembered ire. “He and I share the dubious honor of being the only Vulcans in our respective timelines to turn down the opportunity to attend the Vulcan Science Academy, Captain. I can assume he finds their interest in him as a teacher ironic.”
“Well, they are lucky to have him.” Jim turned slightly in his chair as he refocused on his PADD. “But they don’t deserve either of you.” He relaxed in his seat. “He says if a single one of them mentions his genetic disadvantage, he’s going to punch them in the face.”
Spock blew out a breath to keep from outright laughing. “Be sure to request video footage on my behalf if such an undignified event were to occur.”
“I will,” Jim responded with the smirk Spock would never allow himself. “Mr. Sulu, time to destination?”
“Three hours and forty-two minutes, sir.”
“Very well.” Jim smiled and happily refocused on his PADD.
Spock ruthlessly suppressed a frown at the fact that his captain would rather read a letter from an ancient Spock rather than actually communicate directly with one he had right in front of him. Spock finished up his calculations on his current assignment and sent tasks to various members of his department—taking his temper out on them in a way that was highly productive.
He glanced toward Nyota, and she sent him an amused look. Spock turned back to his work and ruthlessly scheduled all the junior officers on the alpha shift for quarterly psychological reviews two weeks early. Clearly, some of them needed it.
– – – –
“You should just tell him.”
“Tell who what?” Spock questioned as Nyota followed him from the turbo lift.
“You know who, and you know what,” she returned with a narrowed-eyed glare. “Don’t play those word games with me, Mr. Spock.”
He motioned her into his quarters ahead of him and allowed himself a small frown when she turned to glare at him with her hands on her hips. “It would be ridiculous to tell the captain that I am… perturbed by his correspondence with my counterpart.”
“Okay,” she started slowly. “Then just say—Hey, Captain, I would really like to sleep with you. Would you please stop being pen pals with Ancient-Me? Thanks that would be great.”
He was instantly torn between glaring at her as much as he would allow himself and demanding to know what a ‘pen pal’ was. Frustrated, he settled for silence. She lifted one eyebrow at him in a fair imitation of himself, and Spock entertained the thought of picking her up and dropping her outside of his quarters on her shapely little ass. His mouth quirked, and her mouth dropped open slightly.
“What are you thinking?” she demanded, shocked.
“Something highly inappropriate,” Spock returned evenly. “I should be ashamed of myself.”
His door chimed, and he went to answer it. Kirk was standing in the hallway with a PADD, and Spock could barely contain the glare at the device. “Yes, Captain?”
“I was hoping we could go over the…” he trailed off. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“Oh, you didn’t interrupt,” Uhura said hurriedly as she slid past Spock and out into the hall. She was halfway down the hall before she turned, put one hand on her hip and tilted her head in a way that Spock had always thought was charming. He hated it suddenly because he just knew she was going to say something that would horrify him. “Did you know that Spock is a Grand Master at chess, Captain? You played at the academy in tournaments, right? You guys should play.”
Spock just stepped back so Kirk could enter his quarters and sent his ex-girlfriend a practiced look that displayed all the disapproval he allowed himself to show. She smirked and glided away like a dancer. He could almost regret giving up the chance to sleep with her again.
“I can’t believe you broke up with her,” Kirk muttered as he sat down on Spock’s couch. “She must be all awesome and bossy in bed.”
Spock considered that. It was true, but he wasn’t going to discuss her that way with Kirk. “We had a mutual parting, Captain, and there are no hard feelings.”
“I noticed.” Jim set aside his PADD, and Spock briefly considered snatching it up and recycling it. “Everyone was weirded out by the civility and disappointed as break-up drama is just about the most entertainment we can get for free on this ship.”
Spock wondered, briefly, if meditation would help him resolve his issues. He quickly dismissed as he did not have the time in his schedule that would undoubtedly be required.
“It is time for the evening meal, Captain. Did you wish to dine with me?”
“Yeah, sure.” Jim stood up and joined him at the replicator. “Did you want to play some chess? I have a decent game. I could probably offer you something of a challenge.”
“A game would be appreciated,” Spock said as he ordered his own food. “I’ll set up the board.” He paused. “Federation configuration?”
“I can play Federation, Vulcan, Ferengi, and Klingon,” Jim said as he browsed the menu. “Your choice.”
“It has been many years since I’ve had a challenger who could play with the Vulcan rules,” Spock said. “The last game I indulged in was with my counterpart before we departed from Earth.”
“Is it weird? Having a much older twin of yourself running around?”
Yes, Spock thought, it’s uncomfortable, disconcerting, and honestly sometimes an outright nightmare. He cleared his throat as the replicator produced his food, and he picked up the tray to make room for the captain’s selections. “It was challenging to reconcile his existence with my own reality. We shared a mind meld to better understand each other and to share knowledge since many events were much different due to Nero’s earlier intrusion.”
“Ah, I see.” Jim ordered a sandwich and a piece of Andorian fruit.
“You see what?” Spock questioned as he retrieved the chess set from a storage cabinet near the table.
“You’ve been different…” Jim trailed off. He brought his tray to the table and sat down. “Since we met up with him after the battle with Nero. At first, I thought you were upset about Pike’s promotion off the Enterprise.”
“I was informed three years ago when you joined the crew as First Officer that you were being groomed to take over as captain,” Spock said. “Pike’s injury and subsequent promotion may have accelerated the timeline, but no one was surprised or upset by your promotion to captain. If anything, many of the crew, myself included, were relieved not to have an unknown take his place after the events with Nero and his ship. We only lost two crew members during that altercation—a credit to your leadership.” He paused. “And Vulcan—your actions were instrumental in saving my homeworld from destruction.”
Jim sent him a wry grin. “You helped, but did you notice that the High Command wasn’t exactly thrilled to thank us?”
Spock inclined his head. “They are not known to be effusive. In fact, my whole species goes out of its way to avoid such displays and have done so for generations.”
“They rabidly disapprove of you,” Jim said as he started to peel his fruit. “Well, not all of them, but certainly a large enough portion. I could feel it when we were presented with those awards. T’Pau is great—I enjoyed her company immensely, so I was relieved to accept an invitation to stay with her that week but the rest of them? Honestly, Spock, they’re assholes.”
Spock picked up his chickpea gyro and took a bite to avoid outright agreeing with his captain’s assessment.
“I noticed you eat a lot of food I would never expect you to,” Jim said. “I’m pretty sure you had some kind of curry last week in the commissary.”
“Eggplant curry,” Spock supplied after he chewed and swallowed. “My parents moved to Earth when I entered Starfleet Academy as I was still quite young by Vulcan standards—just eighteen Earth years old. My mother, who is human, was quite pleased to be able to explore foodstuffs from all over the world as her diet on Vulcan had been limited. She’d done everything she could to conform to the society and culture she married into. My father regrets it as she’s flourished on Earth. He has no intention of ever going back to Vulcan permanently during her lifetime.”
“Conformity offers comfort,” Jim said as he opened up the box containing the chess set, and they started to unpack it together. “I can understand why it might have been the best choice she could make at the time. I’m glad she’s happy on Earth, though. I’d like to meet her if the opportunity presents itself.”
“She would be pleased to meet you,” Spock assured.
“How did your parents take the arrival of Ambassador Spock?” Jim questioned. “It must have been difficult.”
“They have spent some time with him,” Spock said. “I believe it proved more difficult for him as they’d been dead for many years in his universe. He said seeing them again was a joy and an agony. He was relieved to accept an ambassador’s post on Vulcan. He is quite elderly—far older than I expected to live due to my hybrid physiology. He doesn’t wish for my mother to get unduly attached to him as he will certainly die before her.”
“Ah, Spock,” Jim said with a soft smile. “I’m sure her attachment was nearly instantaneous. It was for me—he’s a glimpse into the future in a way. It’s a comfort to know that you have the potential to live a long life. Our path is different than the one he walked with his own Jim Kirk, but meeting him and knowing that path changed me in ways I can’t actually articulate fully.”
Something in Spock shifted as Jim focused on placing the pieces on the board. “He melded with you.”
Jim’s gaze connected with his. “That makes you angry?”
“I.” Spock swallowed hard. “I don’t know.”
“He misses his own Kirk like a severed limb,” Jim said quietly. “They had a deep, intimate friendship that spanned decades. They won together, lost together, and he would’ve honestly preferred if they’d died together. I think if circumstances had been different for them—they would’ve been lovers and bondmates.”
Spock didn’t disagree with that assessment at all. “His Kirk preferred women exclusively.” He sucked air in through his teeth and sat back. He hadn’t meant to bring it up. “Do you believe knowing what their lives were like has unduly influenced us?”
Jim shook his head. “We aren’t the same—his Kirk and me. We have a similar appearance, of course, but his eyes were hazel, for instance. He was on Earth when his father died, and I was born in space within minutes of mine’s sacrifice.”
“I don’t understand,” Spock admitted. “The Ambassador and are essentially identical at a genetic level.”
“Because you were both engineered,” Jim murmured. “My father was half-Betazoid, he listened to my mother die giving birth to me as he was preparing to ram the Kelvin into Nero’s ship. He reached out to me psionically, and in doing so, he woke the parts of my brain that would’ve certainly remained dormant otherwise. I was drenched in so much psionic energy that I was still glowing a week later when Admiral Archer put me in my grandfather Tiberius’ arms. The Ambassador’s Kirk’s Betazoid genetics were so muted that precious few people even knew he wasn’t entirely Human.” He took a deep breath. “Part of me thinks he probably avoided discussing it, in fact.”
“It’s just something about the memories that the Ambassador shared with me,” Jim admitted. “His Kirk had a public persona that doesn’t ring true to me. Perhaps it’s because he’s so human compared to me, and the memories are presented through a third person. The Ambassador was very careful about respecting Kirk’s mental privacy most of the time.”
“Do you feel influenced by the memories?” Jim questioned.
“No, my counterpart was careful with the emotional impressions he left me with so the memories didn’t intrude on my relationships. He had a fractious and, at times, hostile relationship with his father. His brother, Sybok, went insane.”
“Do you speak to your brother?”
“He’s dead,” Spock said. “He died when I was young in an accident. I have very few memories of him.” He paused and considered how to continue. “I admit to being relieved to know that he died in his right mind in this universe. He died far too young, but at least his katra was put to rest properly with our ancestors.”
“It’s a small comfort,” Jim agreed.
Spock rose from the table to clear away his dishes and retrieved Jim’s as well. He returned it all to the replicator and turned to find Jim finishing setting up the game. When he returned to the table, Jim’s hand was resting on the surface, not far from the 3-dimensional chessboard. Tempted beyond reason, Spock brushed his fingertips over the top of Jim’s hand.
Jim raised an eyebrow as Spock sat down. “Flirting, Spock?”
Spock sat back in his chair and stared. “Tempted, Jim.” He motioned to the board. “The first move is yours.”
“Oh, I believe the first move was yours,” Jim said wryly, but he focused on the board. Then he opened their game with the Krall Gambit.
Spock stared for a moment. “I’ve never seen anyone playing with Vulcan rules open a game with a Klingon gambit.” He wet his lips. “It’s quite aggressive.”
Jim’s eyes darkened. “Is that a problem for you?”
“Aggression has its place,” Spock murmured. “And I’ve always been willing to indulge the whims of my partners as long as it’s safe to do so.” He picked up a piece, rolled it gently with his fingers then put it down. “Do you have dangerous desires, Jim?”
“I suppose it depends on one’s perspective,” Jim said with a grin. “These days, many consider Starfleet service the most dangerous job in the entire Federation. I love the adventure of space exploration and the unpredictable circumstances that come with it.”
“Is that what you speak of in your communications with my counterpart?” Spock questioned and wished his tone could’ve been a trifle more casual.
Jim quirked an eyebrow. “He’s privy to mission reports due to his job within the Diplomatic Corps for the Federation. Sometimes he asks questions, but no, most of the time, we just talk about books we’ve read or want to read. I suppose it’s something he shared with his own Kirk, and it comforts him to share it with me.”
Spock hated that which he knew was illogical. It would be terrible to admit such a thing since his counterpart had so little comfort in his new circumstances. “I see.”
“It’s all he’ll ever ask of me,” Jim said gently. “He knows, perhaps better than I do, that anything else would be immensely unhealthy for him, especially since he…” He took a deep breath. “He believes he’ll go through one more Pon Farr, and if he’s to survive it, he can’t have any sort of deep emotional attachment to me specifically.”
Spock felt his cheeks heat, and he lowered his gaze. “He shared those memories with you as well?”
“Yes, he wanted me to know him,” Jim admitted. “Perhaps it was selfish of him, but he wanted a personal connection in this universe, and I think the immense amount of trust he had with his own Kirk made me the obvious choice.” He grinned. “Did you get the memories of them interacting with evil versions of themselves?”
“The mirror universe, yes,” Spock said. “I have no interest in having such an encounter personally. Nor am I interested in time travel.”
“Well, they’re already working on problems he’s predicted will come our way based on his own history. It’s not a surprise the VSA wants him to teach there. I imagine he’ll get an offer from Starfleet Academy as well. His experience is invaluable.”
“I do not believe he will return to Earth,” Spock murmured. “He certainly has no personal desire to do so. He would prefer to die on our homeworld.”
“Do you feel the same?” Jim questioned.
“You’re the first person I’ve ever encountered that never hesitates to ask me about my feelings,” Spock said.
“I could reach out and ascertain your emotional state for myself,” Jim admitted. “I’ve had a complete education when it comes to my Betazoid abilities. It’s not something ‘Fleet is keen on advertising about me. I’m the youngest captain in Starfleet history, but I’m also the very first to have alien heritage. Not everyone is a fan.”
“I am aware of the bigotry,” Spock murmured. “I encountered it regularly when I was at the academy. I believe I was in my final year when you were recruited.”
“I’d just finished my master’s degree in aerospace engineering,” Jim said. “I was considering a Ph.D. when I received a visit from Admiral Archer. It wasn’t the first time Starfleet had tried to recruit me, but they’d never come out like that. It was an honor to meet him. He’d read my thesis.”
“It’s an excellent read,” Spock admitted. “Your vision of future of space travel was enthralling. Admiral Komack once said it should be published as a recruitment tool for ‘Fleet.”
“I declined that particular honor,” Jim said dryly. “Komack wasn’t pleased with by the way, but I don’t care. Thankfully, intellectual property law was on my side. He’ll have to wait a hundred or so years to circumvent my rights on that issue.”
“Fortunately, he will not live that long,” Spock said.
“Well, he’s five years from mandatory retirement,” Jim said. “Admiral Archer is the only exception allowed in the charter when it comes to that.” He focused on the chessboard. “Normally, I would be happy to sit with you all night and play this game.”
“But this is not a normal circumstance?” Spock questioned.
Jim stood, walked around the table, and slid astride Spock’s lap. “If you’re amendable, this could be our new normal.”
Spock settled his hands on Jim’s hips and pulled him in. “I am not opposed at all.”
Jim cupped the back of Spock’s head and hummed under his breath. “I’m ashamed to say that I have no distinct memories of you at the Academy. I was on an accelerated track, and they worked me hard. I was pushed, prodded, and sometimes dragged through that place.”
“You finished the four-year program in 27 months,” Spock said. “I’m surprised you had time to sleep with that schedule. I spent my last six months as a cadet on a ship. We would not have had many opportunities to cross paths.”
“True,” Jim murmured. “I was deeply disappointed to meet you for the first time because I met your girlfriend first. I was inappropriately pleased when the two of you broke up.” He brushed his mouth against Spock’s.
“I’m jealous of your friendship with my counterpart,” Spock confessed.
Jim pressed another kiss to Spock’s mouth. “I know.” He pressed closer. “But he understands his place in my life.”
“I wish I could say the same,” Spock murmured.
“I would share everything with you,” Jim said. “My body, my heart, my mind…” He trailed fingers down the side of Spock’s face—glancing briefly over the meld points. “I want to love you the rest of my days.”
“Jim.” Spock pulled him closer and buried his face against Jim’s neck. “I…”
A hand cupped the back of his head, and Jim relaxed in his embrace even as Spock tightened his grip. He had not been so overwhelmed by his own emotions since he’d become an adult. His mind raced as he tried to put a name to his emotional state and found himself floundering.
“This is love,” Jim murmured. “Imzadi.”
Beloved, Spock thought.
“I’ve been in love before,” Spock said. “It didn’t feel this way.”
Jim sat back so he could meet his gaze. “That’s the most amazing part about falling in love, Spock. Sometimes it’s soft and quiet, and other times it’s explosive and consuming. I’ve never loved anyone the same twice—it would cheapen those relationships if I had.”
“Which is best?” Spock questioned.
“Love shouldn’t be measured that way,” Jim murmured.
Nyota had told him near the end of their relationship that she needed him to love her more than anything and anyone else in his life. She’d wanted him to be consumed with the need for her. It had been a disconcerting concept and his admitting that had marked the death of their romantic relationship.
“The best part about being with another telepath is that you never have to worry about offering me validation,” Jim said. “I can feel your love for me, Spock. I’ve felt it for months because you project it all over the place, but I’ve also felt your hesitation and…”
“Anger,” Spock supplied.
“Confusion,” Jim corrected. “Which I’m sure has been frustrating and infuriating for you on a regular basis. I’ve been waiting for some kind of overt invitation into your private space.” He took one of Spock’s hands and guided it to his face. “Know me, Spock, as no other ever has.”
“My counterpart melded with you.”
“He shared his own history, but I did not return the gesture,” Jim said. “It wasn’t his to know—this intimacy is yours and yours alone, Imzadi.”
Spock arranged his trembling fingers and placed them gently on Jim’s face. “My mind to your mind.”
Jim’s eyes fluttered shut as their minds came together. “My thoughts to your thoughts.”
“Our minds merging, our minds becoming one,” Spock whispered hoarsely as Jim’s mind opened to him and tangled with his own. He felt a deep sense of recognition in that moment and the instinctual response that had been prodding him since he met Jim Kirk burst free of the restraints he’d placed on it. “T’hy’la.”