Spock decided not to wait for Nyota’s class as he was too curious about James T. Kirk to adopt his usual amount of patience.
He tried to pretend to himself it had nothing to do with how uncommonly attractive Kirk had been. At least in Spock’s opinion.
And there was the added fact that Bombay’s eye color seemed to be an exact match for Kirk’s. A coincidence of course but it made Spock all the more curious.
After doing some preliminary research, Spock decided to contact George Samuel Kirk, the older brother and seeming spokesperson for the family. He requested communication with him if it was permitted.
It was a few hours later when Jim Kirk’s brother contacted him.
George Samuel Kirk, he told Spock the family called him Sam to distinguish him from George Kirk, resembled George Kirk more than he did his younger brother, Spock thought.
Sam leaned back in a rocking chair and stared rather sourly at Spock.
“What is it you want exactly?”
“To make inquiries about your brother’s disappearance.”
“Don’t you mean death?”
Spock shook his head.
“Your Starfleet has declared him dead.”
“I am sorry. But you and your family have doubts.”
Sam snorted. “You bet we do. They never found a body in the wreckage. Nothing like that.”
“What did they find?”
“It’s all a matter of record,” Sam said with no hidden disdain. “They found the burned out crashed shuttlecraft and the remains of Doctor Helen Moore, and her two medical assistants, Ensign Allen Luras and Ensign Inid Harr. The door of the shuttle was inoperable and there was no sign it was ever opened after the crash. They found no trace of Jim’s remains, though there was evidence someone had used the seatbelt in the co-pilot’s seat beside Helen Moore.”
“And they are certain Commander Kirk was on the shuttlecraft when it left the Endeavor?”
Spock nodded. “Do you have any theories?”
Sam hesitated, then slowly shook his head. “Other than someone must have abducted Jim. That’s always been our belief.”
“For what purpose?”
“How should I know?”
“And how would they have done so when the door was inoperable?”
Sam’s lips thinned. “There was a hole in the door.”
“Large enough for Jim,” Sam insisted. “But there was no sign of him on the planet anywhere. Or so they said.”
“You don’t believe it?”
“No, I don’t. Jim’s alive. I can feel it. And someone has him. I don’t know why they haven’t come forward. But my family hasn’t given up no matter what they tell you. Starfleet may have decided Jim’s dead, but he’s alive.” Sam frowned. “I gotta go.”
And then the screen winked out and Spock was left staring at nothing. HE couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something Sam was not telling him. Some elusive clue.
Spock decided not to wait for Nyota’s class as he was too curious about James T. Kirk to adopt his usual amount of patience.
“There are some options with regard to your leg.”
Spock looked up in surprise as he carefully got down from the exam table. “Options, Doctor?”
Leonard McCoy shrugged slightly as he studied his medical tricorder with Spock’s latest results on them. McCoy was the CMO at Starfleet Hospital in San Francisco. It was located directly beside Federation HQ.
“I was told there was nerve damage and nothing could be done.”
“There coming up with new treatments all the time, Spock. In fact, a Doctor M’Benga has extensive knowledge of the physiology of Vulcans. I would recommend making an appointment with him.”
Spock took in this information and ventured to ask, “Where is this doctor located?”
“On Vulcan at the moment,” McCoy advised. He lowered his tricorder. “How’s the pain in that leg?”
“Manageable. On cold days it gets stiff. And when I do too much walking.”
“I’ll write you a prescription that should help with that. Vulcan friendly.”
“The earliest I can plan to see M’Benga on Vulcan would be the next break between semesters at the Academy,” Spock said.
“I understand. Just think about it. It’s possible he can’t do anything, but if he can, it’s worth looking into, yeah?”
“Perhaps,“ Spock acknowledged.
Spock departed and headed for his apartment. The walk was a little longer than his typical walk to the campus, but in some ways Spock thought exercising his leg might be good for him. He’d possibly be sorry for it later.
When he made it home, just as a light drizzle began, the cat was waiting for him by the door. He appeared to want to dart out of the apartment into the drizzle, but Spock got the door closed before Bombay could make good on his escape.
“I can see how you must have gotten away from your care giver,” Spock remarked out loud as he moved into the kitchen to prepare himself tea and feed the cat.
As Spock spooned out the smelly food into a dish, the cat rubbed against his legs. He put the food down, made himself tea and a bean burrito and headed to his terminal to grade tests.
He’d only been sitting there five minutes when Bombay leapt into his lap and settled down there.
Rather than fight a losing battle where Spock made him leave only to have him return, repeat, he just allowed the furry pest to remain.
When the cat stared at him while he ate his burrito, Spock even began to share little bites with him. He made a mental note to check with the veterinary’s office to learn if anyone had come forward to claim Bombay.
Once he finished his grading, he signed into his Academy email account and found an email from Nyota.
“If you’re interested in my class on the disappearance of James Kirk, the class will be next Thursday at ten in the morning. It’s kind of a strange case and I thought you might be curious. I’m surprised you don’t know more about the details but then again you were on active duty on the Enterprise when it occurred. Attached is a picture.”
Spock clicked on the link and a very good-looking young Human male appeared on his screen. And yes, Nyota had been right. He had incredibly striking blue eyes.
Bombay uncurled from Spock’s lap and stared at the picture. Then to Spock’s surprise he raised paw and put it on the picture and meowed loud.
Spock stopped briefly on the way home to purchase a pet bed for Bombay as that had not been one of the supplied he’d been given when he agreed to foster the cat. He chose what looked plush and comfortable. At least from a cat’s point of view.
Or Spock thought.
They’d given him a cat carrier too, so once he opened the door to his apartment, he set all the things down and then put the cat carrier on the floor and opened the gate to allow Bombay to explore the surroundings.
The vet’s office had warned him that the cat would likely be skittish and not want to have anything to do with the place at first, but Bombay immediately ran out of the carrier and started checking out Spock’s apartment.
Spock left him to it and went into his kitchen to open a can of cat food to feed the feline. It smelled awful and fishy to Spock and he wondered why any cat would eat it, but with a shrug, he set the dish down for Bombay.
It took a few minutes but the cat came over to the dish and gobbled down most of the contents.
After that Spock sat down at his desk to work on grading tests that he’d required for his students to take. He paid little attention to the cat for some time.
An hour had passed when he decided to get up to make himself tea and when he entered his kitchen he spotted Bombay on the top of the refrigerator. On the floor were several containers Spock had placed there to store them.
“Did you do that?” Spock asked, illogically, as it could be no other.
“Come down from there.”
The cat leapt down right onto Spock and dug his claws into Spock’s stomach when he dropped the cat in surprise. The scratches left across his abdomen stung and were bleeding.
With a sigh, Spock went into the bathroom, removed his now bloodstained shirt, and applied first aid to the marks left by his visitor. He chose a new shirt and went back to his desk only to find Bombay occupying his chair.
“You are determined to try my patience.”
Spock tried to move the cat but he wouldn’t budge more than an inch or so, and therefore, as a means of compromise, Spock occupied about a quarter of the chair, leaving the rest to his guest.
“You adopted a cat?” Nyota Uhura asked Spock the next afternoon while they dined on the outdoor patio of the Starfleet Academy restaurant.
“No. I have definitely not adopted him. I am fostering him until his rightful caretaker can be located and they are reunited.”
“Hmm.” She shook her head and added artificial sweetener to her coffee. She was a friend and colleague at the Academy. She taught communications and languages as well as a course in Federation history.
“What does hmm mean?”
“You did say he spent the night sleeping on your bed.”
“I secured him his own fine and plush pet bed for his use,” Spock said sourly. “He refused to even try it.”
Nyota laughed. “Cats have minds of their own. Anyway, you may think of him as temporary but it sure sounds like he has other ideas. What’s his name anyway?”
“I do not know his real name as he had no collar or microchip but I am calling him Bombay.”
She arched her brows. “Like the gin?”
“Yes. Or the Star of India, though lighter. He has blue eyes.”
Nyota smiled and picked up her chicken salad sandwich. “That’s cute. Speaking of blue eyes, we’re covering the old James Kirk disappearance in my class this semester.”
“Don’t you remember? It was about five years ago. Lieutenant Commander Kirk was on the starship, Endeavor. Was on his way in a shuttlecraft with medical staff to drop off supplies to a colony on Rigel 9 but some storm anomaly caused the shuttlecraft to crash on a planetoid near Rigel 9. Unnamed. They found the remains of the medical staff in the crash but never any sign of Kirk.”
Spock nodded. “I do recall hearing about it. I never did have all the details. What does that have to do with blue eyes?”
“He had very blue eyes. Handsome guy. Like all the Kirks. I guess his family refused to give up searching for him for years after. I think they finally did last year. He’s presumed dead.” She sighed. “Anyway he had a fantastic reputation and was an exemplary officer. Very well liked. Sad story. So we’re covering during my history course. Your cat’s blue eyes made me think of it.”
“He is not my cat,” Spock insisted. “He is a temporary guest.”
She ginned. “Of course he is.”
Jim had been attending Starfleet Academy about a week before he saw Spock. There weren’t a lot of tall, gorgeous Vulcan males on campus, of course, plus Jim recognized him from their very brief prior acquaintance.
Spock hung out with several other cadets in an area everyone called the quad. There was a large leafy tree with several benches surrounding it and it was there Jim spotted Spock on a couple of occasions.
Jim had doubts about approaching Spock. He didn’t know if he would remember Jim and if he did whether he wanted to remember Jim. He certainly knew Tarsus and those from those years was a sore subject for some.
On the other hand, Jim did recognize Spock and didn’t want to pretend otherwise, not to mention Captain Pike had specifically noted their connection. It would probably not be a good idea to ignore it.
So, when he spotted Spock separating from his group, Jim decided now was his opportunity to approach the Vulcan.
Spock stopped in mid-stride and gaze blankly at him.
“Uh. Jim. James Kirk. From Tarsus Preparatory School.”
Spock gave a slight nod. “Yes, I recall. Good day to you.”
When Spock started walking again, Jim blinked in shock.
“Hey,” he called after Spock.
Spock stopped and turned around.
“I thought, you know, because we both went there, I should say hello.”
“And you have done so.” Spock paused. “I don’t mean to be rude, Mr. Kirk, but I am not looking to be part of some sort of Tarsus Preparatory School Survival Club.”
When he made to turn around, Jim laughed.
“You don’t mean to be rude?” Jim asked, incredulous. “You sure as hell do. I never said I was looking to establish some kind of Survival Club, dude. Captain Pike told me you were here, and I saw you and thought to acknowledge you. That was it.” Jim held out his hands, palms up. “It’s absolutely no skin off mine if you want to be a jackass. Feel free to go back to your snooty friends.”
This time it was Jim who turned around to leave, every breath he took feeling steamy from irritation. The days where Jim let himself get walked over were long gone.
He almost didn’t turn around. Kind of was made at himself for doing so.
“I…apologize. You have every right to be angry with me. My behavior is uncalled for.”
Jim nodded. “Okay. See you.”
“If you would permit me, Mr. Kirk, perhaps we could go for…coffee?”
Jim should say no. But then, maybe, he’d be as dismissive of Spock as Spock had been of him. And that wasn’t Jim.
“All right, sure. But then it’s Jim. Or if you have to Kirk.”
“This way.” Spock gestured.
Jim looked at him rather sideways as they made their way off campus. “You drink coffee?”
“I always thought Vulcans were more of a tea drinking bunch.”
Spock shrugged. “I enjoy a cup of tea from time to time, but my preferred beverage is coffee.”
Jim was familiar with the tiny coffee shop Spock led them to as he’d been there a few times with his new friend, Bones. Well, Leonard McCoy. He’d met the doctor on the shuttle to San Francisco.
After they got coffee, Jim’s with cream and sugar, and Spock’s black, they chose a tiny wooden table next to the window.
Jim took a sip of his and then thought about the way to break up the kind of awkward silence.
So he was kind of surprised when it was Spock who spoke first.
“Was it your mother or stepdad who picked you up from the space station?”
“You remembered? Wow.” Jim smiled a little. “My mom, thankfully. Up until then we didn’t really have the best relationship. She was off planet a lot. In fact, I was there at the school thanks to him.” He shook his head. “Anyway, he’s gone. Not dead or anything, but out of our lives. We see him around Riverside sometimes though. Iowa. Where I’m from.”
And Jim turned red knowing he was babbling like a fool. Spock was definitely going to be sorry he didn’t just let Jim walk away. To cover his embarrassment, he took another drink of coffee.
“You got off all right with your dad?”
“I did, yes.”
He didn’t elaborate. Jim didn’t want to press.
Instead he said, “I don’t want to keep you if you have somewhere to be or something.”
“I do not. Not until this evening when I am meeting my friend Nyota for dinner.”
Jim knew who he meant. Nyota Uhura. She was one of the ones he spent time with by the tree in the quad. Probably his girlfriend. Jim guessed he didn’t have a right to ask.
Jim frowned. “Me?”
“I do not wish to keep you from something you would rather do,” Spock said. “I had been having rather a troublesome conversation just prior to your approach, so I did not react well. My apologies.”
“You wouldn’t be the first one to react badly to me,” Jim joked. But Spock did not crack a smile, not even a Vulcan one, so Jim let it go. “Anyway, no plans either. Just studying later at the library. Other than you I’ve only met Bones.”
“My friend, Leonard McCoy. A doctor. Met him on the shuttle here and he’s got a dorm just down the hall from me.”
And Jim figured he was boring Spock clear to death. So he finished his coffee and made to stand.
“Thanks for the coffee, Spock. It was very nice of you. But I really didn’t intend to bother you. Just wanted to say hi.”
“Very well,” Spock said quietly. “Perhaps at another time, I could call on you?”
“Call on me?”
“For dinner, perhaps?” Spock paused. There was the finest tightening around his eyes. Jim almost missed it. “Unless…you are engaged in a relationship with Doctor McCoy?”
“No.” Jim shook his head rapidly. “No, I’m not.”
“Then my question still applies.”
“Yeah. Sure. Uh. Yeah.” Jim knew he sounded like a fool. “You can.”
And then he did leave the coffee shop, a little befuddled. He hadn’t thought Spock liked him at all, let alone to ask him out. Weirdest date request ever, Jim thought. And he wondered if Spock actually would follow up.
“Tarsus Preparatory School,” Captain Christopher Pike read off.
Jim nodded. “Yes, sir.”
Pike frowned. He was seated behind his desk, going over Jim’s application for admittance to Starfleet Academy. “Rough time.”
“Fortunately, the school was evacuated before the worst of it,” Jim replied. He folded his hands in his lap and tried not to twist them together.
“By your headmaster.”
“That’s right, sir. Retired Starfleet captain Robert April.”
“Yes, I knew April. Left active duty after the partial loss of his left leg. Settled on Tarsus IV.” Pike pursed his lips. “Got you all off but he was not as lucky.”
“How was the school before all that?”
“I learned a lot,” Jim conceded. “My mother taught me not to speak ill of the dead, though.”
Pike smiled slightly at that. “Confidential, James.”
“I prefer Jim for the most part, Captain.”
“Okay, Jim. Tell me what you thought of Captain April.”
“He evacuated all of us students and ultimately saved our lives. For that he’s a hero, sir.”
Jim shrugged. “He could be a strict disciplinarian. Which is why I was sent there in the first place.” He paused. “That being said, I think he should be remembered from his heroic acts.
“I see. You might be interested to know that there’s a currently enrolled cadet who also came from the school.”
“Spock is his name. Son of the Vulcan ambassador to Earth. Know him?”
“Only rather nominally, sir. I spoke briefly to him when we were both waiting for our parents on the space station after evacuation. Not even sure he’d remember me after all these years.”
“Understood. Well, if you run in to him, I didn’t want you to be surprised.”
Jim smiled. “Run into him, Captain?”
Pike returned the smile and stood up, hand thrust forward to shake Jim’s hand. Jim rose too.
“Congratulations on being accepted into Starfleet Academy, Jim. You’ll be starting this next semester.”
“Thank you, Captain Pike, I appreciate it.”
“I want a milkshake. Do you want a milkshake?”
Jim shook his head, amused at his mother as she sat across from him at the diner they’d headed to after he came out of Christopher Pike’s office. They decided to celebrate by coming to this old diner before boarding the shuttle back to Riverside. The next semester didn’t start for a few weeks, so he’d spend most of that time back at the farmhouse.
His mother had told him that back in her academy days she’d gone to this old diner numerous times with Jim’s dad.
Jim laughed. “I’m already getting a cheeseburger. I have to fit in my cadet uniform, Mom.”
“You’re slim and fit. But okay. I won’t push. I’m getting a salad that way I can have the milkshake.”
“Okay.” Jim glanced out the window. “I’ll have to be careful not to come here too often.”
“Just like George. Did you know your Grandpa Kirk was turned down for the Academy?”
“Yep. Idiots. That’s why your father tried so hard to get in there, you know. Wanted to prove them wrong about the Kirk family. I think he’d rather have stayed on the farm to be honest.” His mother shook her head. “I’m not surprised you got right in.”
“Yeah well. Hey, I guess Captain Pike said there’s another cadet there from the school. Tarsus I mean.”
“Spock. From Vulcan. I guess his dad’s some dignitary or something.”
Mom pursed her lips. “Do you suppose he was sent there for getting into trouble?”
Jim laughed again. “Doubtful. I mean not everyone there was sent because they were a delinquent, Mom.” He paused. “Some were, obviously.”
“Jim, if I could change—”
“I know. I know it was Frank. And the experience wasn’t all bad,” Jim said, softly. “Anyway, I am guessing not everyone who was there got there because of someone like Frank, but the truth of it is that I know nothing about Spock at all. Maybe he is a secret troublemaker.”
They both laughed at that. The idea did seem absurd.
Later when they had finished their dinner, they headed back for Riverside. Jim couldn’t wait to return to San Francisco to begin the next chapter of his life.
“Did you talk to Spock about it?”
Jim glanced at Bones. His friend was frowning, looking grumpy as hell. He then looked over to where Spock sat, waiting for him at a sidewalk café, at a table for two in the sun.
Sure, maybe this conversation should be a lot more private, but Jim didn’t exactly have that luxury. They were due to leave this place soon enough. And he guessed now was as good a time as any.
He nodded at Bones. “See you later.”
“You, ah, you want some company or need help or something.”
Jim smiled. Slightly. But he was sure it counted. “Nah. It’s okay. Thanks, Bones.”
Spock looked up when Jim approached. He was huddled around a single cup of tea, as though it was a heat lamp or something. Jim took the seat across from him.
“So.” He blew out a breath. “The divorce is final.”
Neither said anything else for a while. There was a breeze coming off the nearby ocean that chilled the air.
“How do you feel?” Spock spoke into the quiet.
“A little numb, I guess. I never thought…” Jim shakes his head.
“It was not your fault.”
“Maybe. I don’t know. She says she’s okay.”
“And your father?”
“Closed mouthed as usual. Says he’s got a farm to deal with, no time for reflecting. His words.”
Spock unwrapped one hand from the teacup and moved it toward Jim’s. He was a little surprised, but not unhappy, as he turned his palm upward to accept Spock’s hand covering his.
He smiled at Spock. At least some things were good. Very good.
“Come on. We should go. You’re cold anyway and we’re leaving soon.”
“Jim.” Spock’s voice is soft and gentle. Warm. “Their relationship not working out is no reflection on you.”
“I know.” And he does know.
That Spock gets it…
Jim licked his lips. “I know that too. Deep down. I just…I really love you and I don’t want…I don’t want that to happen to us.”
“Nor do I. I do not believe that it will.”
His thumb stroked the plumper part of Jim’s palm. Warmth flooded Jim’s senses. Affection. And his parents’ divorce sucks. It does. But this doesn’t. And Spock’s right. As usual.
Jim smiled his first real smile of the day. “Come on, honey. Let’s go home.”
Chapter Twenty-Five: Christmas
It had been a long time since Jim had an old fashioned Christmas like this. He had vague memories of his very early childhood with Sam and his mom. But those had long since faded. They were only brief snapshots in the mind now.
Last Christmas, his mother had already been quite ill and it was hard to be festive and celebrate anything. He’d tried for Lily, but fortunately she had been young enough she cared mostly about the paper than the meager presents he’d given her.
He had vowed then that this Christmas would be different for both of them, but then he’d lost his job, and it had looked bleak again.
If there was such thing as a Christmas miracle, Jim had experienced it.
They all got up early, of course.
Lily could hardly contain herself to wait and really, Jim was like a big kid himself. Only Spock came down much more sedately.
While Lily ran around the house noticing that Santa had eaten her cookies and drank her milk, Jim took the coffee Spock had made him gratefully.
A few years back his mother had given him one of those Christmas sweaters. It had a reindeer on the front that looked more like a moose really, with a string of lights hanging off his antlers. They lit up with some battery hidden in the material. He hadn’t worn it last year because as before it hadn’t been a very festive year last year, but he’d put it on this time, and was delighted by the eyebrow raise it had elicited from Spock.
“Daddy! Daddy! Santa was here!”
Jim grinned. “I know. Let’s go see what you got.”
They ran to the living room, well Lily did, Jim and Spock followed at a far slower pace, and Lily saw the pink and purple bike waiting there. She squealed with delight.
As Jim watched her fuss over the gift, his gaze strayed to his stocking hung by the chimney. Not so much with care as it was quite crooked.
But the thing that Jim noticed was that some sort of paper now stuck out of his stocking. One that had not been there when he and Spock went to bed.
With a frown, Jim went over to his stocking even as Lily started tearing through the wrapping paper of her other presents.
He pulled out the paper, unfolded it, and stared.
It was the deed to the farmhouse and it had been stamped PAID. It was all in his name.
Spock walked over to him. “Is something wrong?”
Jim waved the paper. “Do you know anything about this?”
“What is it?”
“The deed to the house. It says it’s all paid off but…Spock, did you do this?”
Spock shook his head. “I did not.”
“Are you sure? Because it wasn’t there last night and…”
“Jim, I am sure. Vulcans do not lie. I had nothing to do with that paper or paying off your house.”
“Well. What the hell?” Jim glanced at Lily. “Angel, can you come here a second?”
Lily reluctantly left the coloring book she had been leafing through to come to where he and Spock stood by the stockings.
Jim bent down and scooped her up so that she was relatively eye level with the two of them.
“Do you know who put these papers in Daddy’s stocking.”
“Uh. Yeah. Not Santa. Really, who put them there?”
Lily scrunched up her face. “Santa, Daddy.”
Jim shook his head. “Did someone tell you to put them in Daddy’s stocking?”
“Okay.” He exhaled. “Did you see who did then?”
“No, Daddy. But it was Santa.”
“Jim,” Spock said softly. “It seems clear that Lily does not know where they came from either other than Santa Claus. As you know, you put her to bed yourself.”
Spock was right. But still.
There was no Santa. Well, other than Jim himself. So…
“Angel, was this the wish you wanted for Daddy? The one on your list?”
Lily smiled. “No, Daddy.”
“Did Daddy get the present you wanted for him from Santa?” Jim asked then.
Lily pointed to Spock, smiled and nodded.
Jim laughed. “You asked for Spock?”
“I asked Santa for a present to make Daddy happy. And he gave you Spock.”
Jim grinned as he looked toward Spock. “Yeah I guess he did. Santa’s awesome.”
“Okay, sweetie. Spock and I happen to know about a present from Santa that’s going to make you very happy. So why don’t we get it for you?”
Jim put his wiggly excited daughter down, but then turned quickly to Spock. “I meant that, by the way.”
“If you’re my gift from Santa I must have been very very good.” He leaned in and thoroughly kissed Spock. Then he held up the papers again. “I don’t know who’s behind this and maybe the idea someone was in the house without us knowing should freak me out, but…I thought I was going to have to sell this place when we went to San Francisco. And now? Having this place for my daughter someday?”
“Very good news.”
“Yeah. And it sure looks legit.”
“Then it probably is, Jim. Whoever is behind it, wanted it to be in the spirit of Santa, so perhaps, we should just view it that way and be thankful.”
Jim nodded. “You’re right. Let’s get that present.”
He led Lily over to the wrapped cat accessories while Spock went up to Jim’s bedroom to fetch the cat carrier which held the little orange ball of fluff.
Jim sat on the floor next to Lily as she tore open the paper on a litter box and scoop. He withheld a laugh when he could see how confused she was. Then she opened a pet bed. And then finally, a bag of kitten food.
Then Spock arrived and placed the carrier in front of her. He opened the cat carrier and the kitten tumbled out.
Lily clapped with glee. “A kitty!”
Okay, those totally weren’t tears in his eyes, Jim swore.
Spock knelt down next to him and Jim knew that Spock’s dark eyes didn’t look extra moist either. No way.
They shared a look. Of love. Of happiness. Of the future.
And somewhere sleigh bells jingled, but Jim was sure he must have imagined them.
Chapter Twenty-Four: Christmas Eve
Gad-Shen closed at noon on Christmas Eve as Spock wanted to give the staff a chance to be able to do what they wished for the holiday. It was to be closed all day for Christmas.
Spock planned to adopt the kitten for Lily and hide it until Christmas morning. This was a bit of a challenge because you couldn’t exactly wrap a kitten or expect it to be quiet while you held it in another room.
Since Spock wanted to have Christmas Eve dinner with Jim and Lily, he kept the kitten and all the stuff that went with her at his apartment over the restaurant. It would mean having to return there to fetch everything after Lily went to bed, but Jim and Spock didn’t see any other way.
So after they closed Gad-Shen, Jim went to get Lily.
Jim and Lily had decided on fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn bread for their dinner. He’d make a vegetarian past with Kreyla for Spock.
He gave Maggie a box of both her favorite cookies and candies and then brought Lily home.
She was bouncing with frenetic excitement. Jim wondered if he would ever get her to sleep. He dreaded the idea of her deciding she would stay up to catch a glimpse of Santa.
Still, Jim was going to treasure this.
With being accepted to the Academy for next fall, they’d be leaving Riverside. He’d probably have to sell this place. Either way, they wouldn’t have Christmas here again. Not for a long time. If ever. And not when Lily still believed in Santa Clause.
They had dinner when Spock arrived and then the three of them sat in the living room by the tree and the fire. Jim had some spiked eggnog, Lily hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles, and Spock Christmas spiced tea.
Jim had Lily and him singing traditional Christmas tunes, but Spock abstained from that, though Jim thought it would have been amusing to hear Spock singing Deck the Halls.
When Lily finally began to yawn and then doze off, Jim scooped her up to take her to bed. He heard Spock make his temporary exit while he did so.
After dressing his angel in her favorite Christmas pajamas, Jim kissed her forehead, and turned off her light to go downstairs and do his Santa duties.
He filled her stocking, stopping to be amused how Lily had filled his and Spock’s. His had a candy cane sticking up from it too.
Then he put out her Santa wrapped presents, including the bike and kitchen.
Lily had made cookies for Santa so Jim ate those and drank the milk too. He saved a couple for Spock too.
When Spock returned, Jim saw that he had wrapped all the kitten’s accessories from Santa too.
It was too cute and earned him a big kiss from Jim.
“God, you’re just perfect.”
Spock quirked a brow.
“Perfect for me anyway.”
“I will definitely accept that,” Spock replied. “I am certain at some point you and I will have a disagreement and you will decide I am not perfect at all.”
“Right now we are…as they say…in the honeymoon phase.”
“Yep, you’re right. I’m just as sure you’ll figure out I’m an incredibly illogical being.”
Spock’s eyes were warm. “I have already discovered that.”
Jim laughed again and kissed him. “Okay, well, I’m almost as anxious for morning as Lily no doubt is. This has turned out to be such a great time.”
“And you didn’t think it would be.”
“This has been a bad year,” Jim admitted. “Mom losing her battle with cancer. Me losing my job. I’ve always tried to keep a positive attitude. I don’t believe in no win scenarios, you know? But lately? That’s been challenged. Seeing your help wanted sign? That’s when everything changed. For the better.”
“For me as well. I believe we were drawn to each other, like I said. As we are T’hy’la. And some day, when we are both ready, I would like us to formally bond.”
Jim smiled and kissed him. “You’re definitely the best Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten.”
Chapter Twenty-Three: A Change of Fortune
Gaila came up behind Jim as he looked at his messages on his communication device. “What’s up, Handsome?”
“My old boss, Charlie, wants to see me after my shift today.”
“Your boss at the shipyard?”
“Uh-huh.” Jim shrugged. “Probably forgot to do some paperwork or something. I’ll have to ask Maggie to watch Lily a little bit longer.”
“Speaking of weird, who do you think that is talking to the boss?” Gaila gestured with her shoulder as she carried a stack of dishes.
Sure enough there was a man Jim had never seen before speaking with Spock in the corner of the restaurant. He had silver at his temples, and he wore a heavy overcoat. Not that surprising as it was snowing outside.
For some reason, Jim couldn’t quite figure out, he looked…official.
“No idea,” Jim admitted.
And he didn’t really feel like he could march on over and demand to know either.
In fact, shortly after they saw the guy, he and Spock went back to Spock’s office and Jim didn’t see Spock the rest of the afternoon before his shift was over and he was supposed to go see Charlie.
Fortunately for Jim, Maggie could watch Lily for a little bit longer. He really needed to give her a giant Christmas present. He was really lucky he could rely on her.
Things seemed to be bustling at the shipyard when he arrived. Seemed a bit strange considering they were going to be shutting down.
Charlie was waiting for him when he got there. He offered Jim a drink, alcohol, but Jim turned him down.
“Have a seat, Jim. I have some good news.” Charlie was grinning like the cat who’d swallowed the canary.
Jim took the seat in front of Charlie’s desk. “Shoot.”
“Come January second, we can hire you back at the yard.”
Jim stared at him. “What?”
“Starfleet was here today. Man named Christopher Pike.”
“Pike,” Jim said faintly. The name sounded familiar, but he couldn’t quite place it.
Charlie nodded. “Captain there. Anyway, Pike said after some other considerations, they changed their mind about closing this yard here in Riverside. With that in mind, we can hire you back to start right after the holidays.” Charlie sat back and rubbed his tummy. “That is if you’re interested.”
Jim grinned. “Of course I’m interested.”
“Thought you might be. I know you got the restaurant job and that’s great and all, but this one pays a lot more, and I know you got your obligations. I’d like to get you back on, Jim. I felt bad about having to let you go. Oh, and we’ll bring you on at a few dollars more an hour too. I know you were looking to get a raise.”
Jim stood and shook Charlie’s hand. “Thank you. I couldn’t be happier, This is very good news.”
“Merry Christmas, Jim. I’m glad things are looking up for all of us.”
He had another message from Spock asking him to return to the restaurant to meet someone. Jim assumed it was the man Spock had with him.
So he once more notified Maggie, apologizing profusely, and then headed back into the main town.
Sure enough when he got back to Gad-Shen, Spock let him inside, and sitting at one of the tables was the man from before. He wasn’t wearing his coat and appeared to be drinking tea. There was a pot of it on the table along with two cups.
“Tea, Jim?” Spock offered.
“Did you come from the shipyard?”
Jim nodded. “You know about the message from Charlie?”
“Yes. Please come meet Captain Pike.”
Well, that certainly explained a few things.
Jim stepped over to the table. “Hello. Nice to meet you, sir.”
Pike stood up and shook Jim’s hand. “Jim. It’s very nice to meet you. Sit down, please. Join us.”
Jim sat at the table with Spock and Pike.
“I knew your father, Jim. We went to the Academy together. We were friends. I knew your mom, too, though not quite as well. I’m so sorry for the loss of both of them.”
“Thank you. I appreciate that. Mom might have mentioned you before because your name sounded familiar when Charlie spoke about you. You reopened the contract with Riverside?”
Pike smiled. “I did. We ran the numbers again after Amanda Grayson contacted us.”
Jim glanced at Spock. “Your mother?”
“Indeed. She had advised me that your name sounded familiar. Apparently she was also acquainted with Captain Pike as well as your mother before her marriage to my father.”
“That’s right,” Pike agreed. “I’ve known Amanda’s family for a number of years. She explained the situation here in Riverside, so I looked into it.”
“Wow, that was really nice of her.”
“Turned out she was right. It deserved another look. I came down to explain the situation to the shipyard.” Pike paused. “And also to advise several of you who live here about the status of your applications for Starfleet Academy.”
Jim shared a glance with Spock, but Spock gave nothing away.
“Unfortunately, we have no room for new recruits for the spring coming up, but the applications for the fall semester of next year have been approved for Spock, yourself, Nyota Uhura, and Montgomery Scott.”
Excitement bubbled up in Jim and he found it a little difficult to stay still. “That’s-that’s very good news, sir.”
“Yes, I thought it might be,” Pike said with a smile. “Which is why I came to Gad-Shen to explain while I was in Riverside anyway. I thought it might be welcome news for the holiday.”
“It definitely is.”
“Spock and I are going to have dinner together in a bit. You’re welcome to join us, Jim.”
“Thank you, sir, and ordinarily I would, but it’s just a couple of days before Christmas, and I have a very excited little girl who is waiting for me to pick her up from the babysitter.”
“Spock has told me about Lily. She sounds great.” Pike stood and shook Jim’s hand. “I’ll be off for the moment as I have a few more things to clear up before I have dinner with Spock. Jim, I look forward to seeing you in San Francisco next year.”
“I’ll be there, Captain.”
Spock walked Pike to the door and let him out of the restaurant.
He turned back to Jim then. “You are pleased?”
“Hell yeah. The Academy? Wow. That’s what we both want.”
“Yes. And having to wait until Autumn will work out well with my plans for Gad-Shen. I may have to accelerate things with Gaila, but I believe it is doable.”
Jim bit his lip. “Listen. About Gad-Shen. Charlie offered me the job back at higher pay after the first and I’d really like to—”
“Jim. It is fine. I am sure I can hire someone else to wait table at the restaurant.”
“I don’t want to leave you in a bind.”
“You won’t. And when I spoke to Captain Pike, I was aware that Charlie planned on hiring you back. I am pleased you will have that position until we leave for the Academy next year.”
Jim embraced Spock, smiling. “Things are really starting to work out.”
“It’s a Christmas miracle.” Jim laughed and then kissed Spock deeply. “I better go though. I owe Maggie some flowers for watching my girl and I want to have time to get them.”
“I will see you tomorrow.”
“Indeed, I will need to go to the shelter for Lily’s cat.”
‘That’s right. You’re the best, Spock. I’m so excited for all of us.”
And they shared one more kiss before Jim left to go pick up Lily.
After getting flowers of course.