Title: Alien Afternoon
Author: Keira Marcos
Fandom: Star Trek (AOS)
Challenge: Fluff Bingo
Genre: Romance, Science Fiction, Alternate Universe, pre-Slash
Warnings: Minor Character Bashing, no beta
Word Count: 3,470
Author’s Note: Bonus Fluff Bingo is keeping me sane! It’s my headcanon that George Kirk was half-Betazoid. In this AU, James T. Kirk was raised on Betazed by his grandmother.
Summary: Spock seeks Jim out while they’re on shore leave.
* * * *
Jim lowered his book slowly and focused on Spock, who was standing rigidly at the end of his lounger. He flexed his bare toes as he considered what could’ve brought his first officer to the deck of his grandmother’s summer house. A glance confirmed that his communicator was exactly where he’d left it. He’d worked his ass off to arrange shore leave on Betazed for several reasons, chief among them the fact that he’d be able to retreat to a property owned by his ancestral house on the planet and be assured absolute privacy.
“Spock,” Jim said and closed his book. “Has something happened?”
Spock hesitated, which made Jim’s stomach lurch.
He sat up and swung his legs over the lounger. “Has someone been injured?”
“No, sir,” Spock said stiffly and averted his gaze. “I didn’t realize you’d be in a state of undress.”
“Just a little sunbathing,” Jim said and picked up a short robe he’d been wearing off and on all day over his shorts. He pulled it on, but that didn’t appear to make Spock any more comfortable. “What’s going on?”
“I…” Spock exhaled sharply. “It is our scheduled time to dine privately in your quarters.”
“Oh.” Jim smiled and relaxed. “Date night.” He checked the position of the afternoon sun. “I lost track of time, I was going to come back up for a couple of hours.” He motioned Spock to follow him inside as he snagged his book and communicator. “Come—my grandmother’s staff stocked the kitchen as well as updated the replicator with my personal settings so your menu should be included as well. Have you scheduled any shore leave activities?”
“No, sir, I’ve been undertaking some personal research tasks onboard the ship. Lt. Uhura related to me several months ago that many members of the crew found it difficult to relax around me, so I have made the decision to avoid the spaces that the Betazed government has set aside for the crew’s use during shore leave.”
Jim frowned but pushed aside the irritation. One of the first things he’d heard when he’d been promoted to the captaincy of the Enterprise was that the Vulcan first officer was dating a junior officer who was notoriously a discipline problem. Uhura’s talent as a linguist was her saving grace in the ‘fleet, and Jim had made that clear to her within a week of meeting her. He’d given her exactly one chance, but the first time she’d said yes, sir in a tone that clearly meant fuck you, he’d reprimanded her without a single bit of discussion.
Spock had clearly been startled by the reprimand, but he was as by-the-book as any officer to ever wear the uniform, so he hadn’t said a single word to Jim about it. The second time Uhura had stepped over the line with Jim had involved a culture and etiquette briefing for a mission where she’d implied that if all else failed, he could sleep with the diplomat to secure the trade agreement. Jim had dismissed her from the meeting immediately, filed a formal reprimand with Starfleet Headquarters, and had ordered Spock to rearrange the schedule to remove Uhura from the alpha shift. Spock had put Uhura the gamma shift and placed Lt. Gaila, an Orion, on the alpha shift.
Two weeks after that, Spock and Uhura’s personal relationship had imploded in a very quiet fashion that left a large portion of the crew speculating. The five months since had been oddly stressful by Jim’s estimation.
“I think you should probably reconsider taking her advice when it comes to creating and maintaining personal relationships with the crew,” Jim said wearily and set aside his book. He dropped the communicator on top of the book. “Have you been enjoying your experiments?”
“I am satisfied with the results so far,” Spock said and slid onto the stool at the breakfast bar when Jim pointed to it. “I should’ve contacted you before I beamed down.”
“It’s fine,” Jim assured. “Just a surprise—a pleasant one.”
The fact was that dinner with Spock was the highlight of his week and had been for the last six months. He really didn’t know how they’d fallen into the routine of eating a meal together, but Spock had started showing up like clockwork every six days.
“You called our weekly dinner appointment our date night,” Spock said.
Jim blinked as he hadn’t realized he’d said that aloud. He flushed as he ordered Spock some tea from the replicator and placed it on the counter. “Well, dinner with you is the only social event I have on my calendar, Spock.”
Spock shifted the tea mug around in front of him and inclined his head. “I can say the same.” He paused. “I look forward to it.” His cheeks flushed green. “And I purposefully did not contact you via communicator because I did not wish for our private time together to be canceled.”
Jim smiled and inclined his head. “What would you like for dinner?”
“You threatened to expose me to something new this week,” Spock reminded.
Jim laughed. “I promised to find something new that you would love, and fortunately, for you, I have a wider selection available.”
“Did you grow up in this house?” Spock questioned.
“Yes, it’s my grandmother’s summer home and not a favorite of hers,” Jim explained. “However, it is the most isolated of her properties and became a safe haven for me of sorts when I started to mature. My human heritage was essentially obliterated on a psionic level due to the violent and desperate nature of my father’s telepathic legacy. I’m more at home here than I am anywhere else in the universe. My brother Sam didn’t adjust well to living on Betazed because he has precious little psi-ability and what he did have left him… he once used the term ill at ease to describe his mind. After he became an adult, he underwent a procedure to suppress those abilities entirely.”
“Do you resent her for taking you from Earth? From your mother?” Spock questioned.
“No,” Jim said and wondered how long Spock had been curious about his family and childhood. The Vulcan had focused entirely on professional and educational topics in their private discussions. “My grandmother saved us—I don’t know what kind of life Sam and I would have had with our mother, but it wouldn’t have been good by anyone’s standards. My father’s death, at the hands of a Romulan, fostered a deep-seated xenophobia in my mother, and she loathes me. The one and only time I met Winona Kirk, as an adult, it was sickening to be in her presence.”
“I had no idea—she’s regarded as deeply heroic.”
“The admiralty let her be part of the crew of the ship that hunted Nero down,” Jim said roughly. “For her, it was revenge and hatred. If she could’ve killed him personally, she would have. The crew of the Starhammer were retired for more than one reason, Spock. None of them came out of the other side of that three-year mission the same. I’ve met most of the senior crew during my career. For many of them, I’ll always be a symbol of their survival since I was born during the evacuation of the Kelvin. ‘Fleet never should’ve let the survivors of the Kelvin take that mission on.”
“The desire for revenge must have been difficult to overcome,” Spock said. “You’ve never spoken of the Kelvin with me before.”
“I make it a point to avoid the topic actually,” Jim admitted. “I guess being here has… it’s easier here. I feel safe.” He motioned briefly around the house. “Now, normally, I’d eat light due to the heat, but you’re not at all bothered by that. The Betazoid diet is built on plant and egg proteins—and did even before replicator technology was introduced here. My grandmother found my desire for meat products kind of appalling, actually, but she made sure I was supplied well.”
“I’ve noticed that your diet is much more varied than most of the crew,” Spock said as he took a sip of tea. “I wished to speak with you about Lt. Uhura.”
Jim made a face as he focused on the replicator and made a few selections, including a hearty vegetable-based soup that he’d eaten often as a child. It remained a favorite and not one he’d ever bothered to put into his recipe menu on the ship. He planned to change that after this shore leave as he’d already transferred the sequences to his PADD.
“She has requested to return to the alpha shift.”
“No.” Jim shook his head. “Not going to happen as long as I’m the captain. She’s lucky to still be onboard the ship. In fact, Admiral April offered to transfer her off the Enterprise after I reprimanded her the second time. I only declined because of your personal relationship with her.” He glanced toward Spock and motioned him toward a table near the large window in the open concept kitchen. “Let’s eat by the best view in the house.”
Spock took the tray Jim slid across the counter space and added his tea to it. “I must confess, at this point, that her hostility toward you is largely my fault.”
“I don’t follow,” Jim said roughly as they settled down at the table. He sat back in his chair and tore his bread roll in half. “You’ve been nothing but professional since we met, Spock. You welcomed me on board with all the grace required of your role as the first officer and made my transition into my first captaincy easy. I couldn’t ask for a better first officer. In fact, that is precisely what I told ‘fleet when I completed your last review.”
“When Commodore Pike told me he was bring promoted off the Enterprise, I was offered another chance to move into the command track. He offered to remain on the ship as long as it took for me to achieve the rank of captain so I could take his place. I declined as I’ve no interest in command or promotion at this point in my career. I am exactly where I wish to be doing the job I wanted from the moment I applied to the academy.”
“You’d be a great captain,” Jim said. “A crew couldn’t ask for a better leader.”
“I am content, Captain, to follow your lead,” Spock said. “Nyota was irritated by my choice regarding the promotion. She said my lack of ambition was disheartening, and it made her question the future of our relationship.”
Jim made a face. “You don’t lack ambition, Spock. You just don’t have goals that match hers. There’s nothing wrong with that. She resents me for taking the job that you didn’t want? That’s not very rational.”
Spock shifted his utensils minutely then picked up his spoon. “When the news was announced that you would be leaving the Farragut and would be promoted to the Enterprise, I confess I was…”
Jim raised an eyebrow and grinned at Spock’s hesitation.
“I’ve been following your work as an academic since you published a paper with Montgomery Scott on transwarp theory. When he came on board the Enterprise four years ago, I… hoped that you’d visit him at some point, and I would get an opportunity to speak with you.”
Jim sat back and stared. “So, you gushed to your then-girlfriend about your science-crush on me, and she hates me as a result?” He laughed when Spock exhaled sharply. “Oh, that’s amazing.”
“Jim,” Jim corrected. “I’ve asked you repeatedly to call me Jim in private, Spock. I think since you’re now sitting in my childhood home eating my favorite comfort food that you should just give in on the whole name thing.”
Spock inclined his head. “Very well.” He paused. “Jim and yes, in retrospect, Lt. Uhura displayed inappropriate jealousy of you, and I apologize for that. Perhaps, it did not help that you invited me to dine with you privately within a week of our meeting.”
“I wasn’t hitting on you,” Jim protested.
“No, she never accused you of that, but she was under the impression that I should spend all of my off-duty time with her,” Spock explained. “And grew hostile when I made it clear that I did not wish to do so. It is why our relationship eventually ended.”
“Inform her that she’ll have to put in a formal request for a shift change, then I’ll decline it personally,” Jim said. “She needs to know that she’ll never return to the alpha shift while I’m the captain of the Enterprise. Lt. Gaila is doing an amazing job and is excelling. She certainly isn’t taking it for granted the way Lt. Uhura did.”
Jim watched Spock sample the soup.
“Lt. Uhura insinuated that Lt. Gaila was moved to the alpha shift because you’re sleeping with her.”
Jim blinked in surprise and cleared his throat. “I’m gay, Spock. I’ve never laid a hand on a woman with any sort of sexual intent in my life. I assumed Lt. Uhura knew that since she basically told me I could bend over for the ambassador of Inalari to seal the trade agreement.” Spock’s cheeks flushed a dull green, and Jim winced. “Sorry.”
“I admit that I didn’t understand what she said during the meeting, and Dr. McCoy had to explain it to me. He was very disappointed with her behavior, and they argued in private over it. She eventually apologized to me for making me uncomfortable. I made it clear that I wasn’t the person she owed an apology.” Spock focused on his soup. “This is very good. Could we add the sequence to the replicator on the ship?”
“I’ve already put the whole database from the replicator here on my PADD,” Jim said. “I take it the conversation went further? Did she say she was going to complain to ‘fleet about my supposed relationship with Lt. Gaila?”
“I told her that it wasn’t a violation of the regulations,” Spock explained. “And she said it was if you were using your position to give Lt. Gaila preferential treatment.”
Jim pinched the bridge of his nose. “If she files a complaint like that, she will ruin her career, Spock. My sexuality is not a secret to the admiralty. I mean, it doesn’t matter who I prefer to sleep with, but I’ve never hidden it at all. Moreover, Admiral April is very aware of her behavioral issues. She was demanding and often disrespectful while at the academy as well. She hasn’t improved since graduating, and Commodore Pike took some flak for it since it’s left the impression that he ignored her attitude problem and made no moves to correct it in the field.”
“As a favor to me?” Spock speculated.
Jim inclined his head. “It’s no secret that Pike favors you, Spock. I can’t say you didn’t take at bit ding with some of the higher-ups regarding your relationship with Lt. Uhura because of her unprofessionalism. Many believe she made no effort to correct her behavior after the academy because she started dating the first officer of the ship she was stationed on and could get away with it.”
“And she did get away with it,” Spock said.
Jim winced at the displeasure that practically poured off the Vulcan. Spock did an excellent job of controlling his emotions in most circumstances.
“And certainly planned to get away with more if I’d become captain.”
“I won’t speculate on that as it implies something about your character that I don’t agree with,” Jim said firmly. “The situation got out of hand. I don’t think she’s a lost cause—she just currently having to deal with personal failure and professional consequences. She’s young, and Pike’s penchant for choosing people straight out of the academy for his ship didn’t serve her.”
“You declined his offer,” Spock pointed out. “He was startled and…”
“Insulted,” Jim supplied with a laugh. “He told me so. I wanted to earn it. Far too many in Starfleet have tried to give me a soft ride because of my father’s sacrifice, and I don’t see any honor in that.”
“That choice clearly served you well,” Spock said. “I wish to ask you a personal question.”
Jim motioned him to continue as he ate some of his own soup.
“Are you in a relationship with Lt. Scott?”
Jim managed to get his soup down, which he considered an accomplishment. “Scotty?” He laughed. “No, Spock, I’m not sleeping with Scotty.”
“You spend a great deal of your off-time with him,” Spock explained. “And you’re clearly not involved with Lt. Gaila.”
“Engineering remains my passion,” Jim admitted. “In another life, I’d been content to stay in the science track and spend my entire career at the building ships on Earth. In fact, when I’m ready to move on, I’ve made it clear that I want to transition into a design and management position on Earth at the Iowa shipyards.”
“How long do you intend to stay in the captain’s chair?”
“A decade or so,” Jim said and shrugged. “I think I want a couple of kids, so eventually I’ll make a decision on that front. If my partner is Betazoid, then I’ll probably leave Starfleet and retire here.”
“Betazoids are bonded as children. Will your bondmate join you here while you’re on shore leave?”
“I wasn’t bonded due to my hybrid physiology,” Jim said. “Vulcans bond as children as well, right?”
“My bondmate and I parted ways four years ago as she found someone more compatible,” Spock said.
“Well, her loss because you’re great,” Jim declared. “And Uhura’s hostility toward me is not your responsibility, by the way. She has a history of acting out when she doesn’t get her way. She’s very talented in her field, but she’s been indulged too much and too often. Either she will learn from her mistakes or she won’t—I’m not going to coddle her the way Pike did.”
“I’ll inform her that she’ll have to request the shift change officially,” Spock said finally. “And I will also let her know that she will not attempt to leverage whatever remains of our personal relationship to change her circumstances. I suspect she will not respond well. My mother…” He trailed off and focused on the ocean that was spilling onto the blue-black sand of the beach in front of them. “My parents did not believe that I made a sound choice for a bondmate when they met Nyota last year.”
“Ouch,” Jim muttered. “My grandmother would be relieved to know I’m dating anyone on a regular basis.”
“You do date me, regularly,” Spock pointed out.
Jim laughed. “Oh, she’d be thrilled, honestly. She adores your father—says he’s the most entertaining ambassador the Federation has ever sent here.”
“We could increase the frequency of our dates,” Spock said then and took a deep breath. “If you were amendable.” His cheeks flushed brightly. “I have no marked preference for any gender when it comes to romantic or sexual companionship. I believe you would find my genital arrangement pleasing. We are very compatible intellectually, and I am not opposed to children or retiring on Earth in the future. I’ve considered a career in teaching after field service.”
Jim had rarely been so charmed in his whole life. He’d done everything he could to keep his attraction to Spock to himself while the Vulcan had been dating someone else, and by the time he was single, their friendship had been too important to risk. He’d hoped that maybe in a year or so, he could make his romantic interest known in such a way that their friendship would survive if Spock wasn’t interested.
He smiled. “I am very amendable.” He stood from the table and offered Spock his hand. “Let’s go for a walk.”
“A walk?” Spock questioned as he left his own chair and took Jim’s hand.
“It’s a date sort of thing.”
“Should you not put on some more clothing?” Spock asked.
Jim laughed. “While we walk on my private beach—let’s talk about Betazoids and nudity.”
“Even with your hand in mine, I cannot determine if you are teasing me or not,” Spock admitted ruefully. “Fascinating.”