AUTHOR: Sara
TITLE: You're My Home
RATING: PG--language
SUMMARY: Kirk and Spock discuss retirement at the end of their careers
DISCLAIMER: Paramount/Viacom, blah blah. No infringement intended, no money being made.
FEEDBACK ADDRESS: sara_merry99 @ yahoo.com, any and all feedback welcome
PAIRING: K&S, not slash per se
SERIES: TOS
BETA: Singer cleaned up my act and gave me confidence in the story, Lyra and jm cleaned up my act even more and helped with the ending.
ARCHIVING: ASCEM and AAK/SA, anyone else ask.

YOU'RE MY HOME

Admiral James T. Kirk hurried into his apartment, running late getting home from work. He wasn't sure why he still expected to only work 10-hour days. His experience over the last few years in Starfleet Operations should have convinced him that mere 10-hour days were a rarity, not the norm. Somewhere in the Federation there was always some emergency brewing needing immediate attention.

Kirk was beginning to question how much longer he wanted to remain with Starfleet. At sixty, the continual aggravations of a desk job were wearing on him. He had been promoted to admiral and demoted to captain before. Perhaps some stubbornly optimistic streak had insisted that it could happen again. But it was now clear to him that this time he was never going to get another command, no matter what.

He changed quickly into civilian clothes. Spock was coming over for one of their frequent dinner and chess evenings. At these times, he preferred to get away from his daily role as Admiral Kirk and just be Jim.

Kirk smiled, thinking of Spock coming over. Spock had anchored him since their first years together on the Enterprise so long ago. For the last few miserable years, Spock had been an island of sunlight and warmth in the chill fog of San Francisco. These regular evenings together with Spock were now the most satisfying part of his life. He sighed. Today's "emergency" involved a stray Andorrian freighter interfering with an important deep space research project. He had no time to make the house ready for his longed for visitor. Kirk hurriedly set the table; the door buzzer sounded.

He opened the door and smiled. "Spock, it's damn good to see you." He ushered his best friend into the apartment, taking Spock's heavy overcoat, scarf and gloves. "I just got home and haven't started dinner yet. If you don't mind, I'll take some time to start a fire before I cook. I'm sure it's cold in here for you."

Spock nodded. "A fire would be most appreciated, Admiral. If you would like, I could make dinner while you make the fire." At Kirk's nod he moved toward the kitchen, comfortable in Jim's house after many hours spent there. "What did you intend to serve?"

"I was planning on pasta. The ingredients are on the counter. If you'd prefer something else, that's fine," Kirk said, as he stacked logs in the fireplace. "There are also salad fixings in the stasis chamber."

Soon steaming plates of pasta with a plain tomato sauce, accompanied by crisp salad and warm bread, were at their usual places at the table. Kirk fed the fire in the fireplace until it blazed. Kirk turned to Spock and smiled. "That looks great. Sorry to make you work for your dinner. Something came up that kept me late at 'Fleet HQ."

Spock raised an eyebrow. "Again?"

Kirk smiled ruefully and said, "Again. It does seem to happen almost every day, doesn't it?" While they were eating, he told Spock about the day's "emergency". As always, Spock had helpful advice on dealing with the crisis. They discussed possible solutions as they finished their meal. Over dessert, they discussed Spock's political problems in Starfleet Science. Kirk relaxed and enjoyed the rapport, the sense of mutual reliance, the shared history. His life before meeting Spock seemed very dim and very distant.

After dinner, they sat at the chess table near the fire with glasses of brandy. Spock set up the game as Kirk stared into the fire lost in his thoughts. He hated his job at Starfleet Operations. He had hated it for years. He wanted out. There had to be more productive uses for his energy and skills. But the thought of leaving Starfleet, as always, made him profoundly sad. He felt trapped.

"Jim?" Spock prompted, holding out his fists. Kirk pulled himself out of his thoughts and selected the left hand. When the white piece was revealed, turned the board to the proper position.

They played silently for a while. Kirk endeavored to focus his concentration on the board. His mind kept wandering though, battering around in the box of hating his work and hating the thought of leaving it.

Kirk sighed. "Spock, what are you plans for after you retire from Starfleet?"

Spock looked thoughtful. "I have not given thought to the question. I have many more years in which I can be of service to Starfleet in my current capacity. It seems premature to make plans for a retirement that is destined for the distant future."

Spock contemplated the board for a minute, made a move, and then looked at Kirk closely. "Are you thinking of retiring, Jim?" Kirk noticed that his voice sounded more controlled than normal, almost distant.

"I don't know. I'm miserable behind a desk, you know that. But...." He shrugged, not knowing how to go on. He fell silent, made a move on the board that he recognized as ill-considered as soon as he released the bishop, and winced slightly.

Spock raised an eyebrow. "I will achieve checkmate in another four moves, Jim. You are generally more careful than that," he said. He looked at Kirk with concern in his eyes. "Is there anything with which I can assist you?"

Kirk looked up at Spock, his hazel eyes almost wary, and said, "If I retired, I would probably move. I don't really like San Francisco." He watched Spock's face closely, looking for the subtle cues that he had always been able to read. He thought he saw a brief flicker of pain in the warm eyes, but he could have been projecting his own pain.

Kirk leaned back in his chair. "There are all sorts of options for me after retirement, I guess. There's always the farm in Iowa, it's been lying fallow for a few years now, it'd be good to get the land back into production. I could get some more land and raise some horses on it. We could set it up as a research farm. There's enough land for you do to research with new crops and crop management." He got up and poked at the fire a bit before adding another log. "Heck, with the money both of us have saved we could afford a small spaceship and go out into space again." His eyes sparkled at the thought and Spock could detect a hint of his old fire and energy.

Spock watched Jim for a moment then turned to resetting the chess board, his face unreadable, even to Kirk. "Do you want to play again?"

Jim turned away from the fire and blinked at Spock for a moment. "I'm a little distracted tonight. Do you mind if we just sit by the fire and talk?"

They moved aside the chess table and chairs and sat on the carpet in front of the fire, leaning back against the front of the sofa. Kirk stared into the fire, thoughtful.

"I want out from behind that damned desk and command has made it clear I'm never getting another ship. But something makes me want to stay." He thought for a minute, then corrected himself, "No, something makes me need to stay."

Kirk turned and looked at Spock, really looked at him for possibly the first time in years. Spock looked very similar to the young Vulcan he'd first met when Kirk was a newly minted captain on the Enterprise, though unmistakably more mature. Kirk saw the severe frown lines along the sides of Spock's mouth, the faint hint of laugh lines at the corners of his eyes. He felt a familiar warmth that he had long identified as affection, even love, for his best friend, and smiled. "Maybe I should retire. We could go to Vulcan. The Vulcan Science Academy has been after you for years and someone needs to take care of Amanda's rose garden."

Spock slowly raised an eyebrow at him. "Jim, do you realize that all of the retirement possibilities you have mentioned have included me as well?"

Kirk pulled back, his eyes widening in surprise. "No. No, I didn't." He turned his gaze firmly to the fire and said, "I'm sorry, Spock. I ... I guess I just can't ima...." Kirk cut himself off in mid-word, realizing that he had just been about to say that he couldn't imagine life without Spock at his side. He was sure his restrained Vulcan friend wouldn't want to hear that. "I'm sorry. Never mind."

Kirk started to stand up, to bring in another armful of logs for the fire.

Spock's hand on his arm stopped him. "You do not need to apologize. After so many years working together it is not surprising that you would assume the association would continue." Spock squeezed Kirk's arm gently, so gently that Kirk wondered if he had felt it at all. Kirk waited for Spock to remove his hand; Spock was sparing with touches, but the hand remained, burning hot through the fabric of Kirk's shirt. "I myself would like it to continue for as long as possible."

Kirk turned and looked at him. Wonder and a hint of happiness shone in the hazel eyes. "Spock? You would consider retirement? Even though you have many useful years ahead of you?"

"To remain at your side, I would."

Kirk relaxed, leaning back again. "I think fear of losing your companionship...your friendship...has been what's been keeping me in the Admiralty all these years," he said. Looking sidelong at Spock, Kirk got a fleeting glimpse of some emotion, perhaps guilt, before the Vulcan mask settled back into place.

"I am sorry to have occasioned your prolonged distress," Spock said, turning to look at Kirk. "You could never lose my friendship, Jim. I thought you knew my position. I realize now that it was not logical of me to have assumed such a thing. I did not give you the required information." Spock's chocolate eyes showed Kirk the depth of feeling only he ever saw. Kirk's heart was touched by the plain emotion visible on the Vulcan's face.

"I think you did, Spock. I was just too blind to see it," Kirk said, resting a hand on the Vulcan's arm. "Otherwise, why would all of my retirement planning have been for the both of us?" He stroked Spock's arm, noting the silky texture of the fabric. "So do you want to go home after we retire, Spock? Home to Vulcan."

"That is not necessary. There are few suitable occupations for you on Vulcan," Spock said as he rested his own hand on top of Jim's. "Would you like to go home to Iowa?"

"I don't know. I know you are interested in a wide variety of fields of study, but I've never heard you express a particular interest in agronomy. I'd hate to put you in the position of running a research farm if you were going to be bored there," Jim said; he was enjoying the feel of Spock's body heat under and on top of his hand. "I've never really had a home. I've lived in Iowa, on Tarsus, in San Francisco, on the Enterprise. I don't have deep roots anywhere. The only places that have ever seemed like home to me ..." He paused, realizing something for the first time. "The only places that have been home to me have been with you."

Spock turned his head and looked at Kirk, studying the golden hazel eyes as they reflected the light from the fire. "I believe I understand you, Jim. I lived my life on Vulcan, until coming here to the Academy. But I was never entirely comfortable there. I did not meet the expectations that were placed upon me." Spock looked around the apartment. "With you I am at ease."

Kirk smiled. "We could retire, but stay in San Francisco. We could kick around 'Fleet HQ making nuisances of ourselves."

The firelight danced in Spock's eyes. "I think I would prefer Iowa to that option."

Kirk leaned toward Spock, staring deep into his eyes. "You really would do it? You would retire to stay with me?" he asked, incredulous, almost breathy.

Spock reached his hand out and touched Kirk's cheek gently. "Yes, Jim. I would not hesitate to do so if you wished it." He could feel Kirk shaking slightly under his gentle touch.

Kirk licked his lips, his mouth suddenly feeling dry. "Spock, I...I don't...I don't know what to say. This is a precious gift you are offering me, but I don't know if I should take it."

"I would not have made the offer if it were not sincere. I would rather retire to a life of indolence than continue at Starfleet without you."

Jim's eyes widened. He couldn't really grasp the idea of Spock lazing around a house eating bonbons. The image made him chuckle, then laugh. Spock looked at him in some confusion. "I'm sorry Spock, I was just picturing you..." He chuckled again, overwhelmed by the enormity of the decision they had just made. Where they went didn't matter; they had all the time in the world now to decide that. He shook his head. "Thank you, Spock, thank you."



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