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He toys with an almost-empty pilsner glass, tilting it at the base and turning it from the rim. Finally, he spits it out. "Look, Spock--I'm sorry about what I said. You know, when...in engineering."

Spock looks confused. "Sorry about it?"

"When I said I'd done what I thought you would do, I didn't mean--" He'd rehearsed his end of this conversation for weeks, and now none of it would come to mind. "I wasn't getting back at you for the volcano. Or anything like that."

Spock's expression clears. "Captain, please be assured, I didn't think that's what you meant."

He feels something in his chest loosen. "Okay. Good. Because I wasn't trying to make it worse."

Spock raises one eyebrow. "Short of failing to come back in one piece so McCoy's treatment would work, I'm not sure how you could have, nor do I wish to consider the possibility."

There's a succinct note of 'I am never going to think about that' in his voice that Jim is positive he's never heard, and since it's his own death at issue, he drops that subject like a hot rock and forges on to another. "Right. Okay." He drains his beer. "So are you and Uhura still fighting?"

Spock doesn't look interested in discussing that topic either.


"You know, any time we're not in front of an Admiral, you can call me Jim. That's something you're allowed to do. Not just when you forget to call me captain."

"I wouldn't want to suggest impropriety, captain."

"I am explicitly saying you can do it, so it's not against protocol."

"There are a number of things you give anyone, most notably yourself, leeway to do, but that does not mean--"

"Your future-self does it all the time and you don't, what the hell is that about?"

Spock has the deceny to look abashed. Has he noticed that too? Jim thinks he has. "The Ambassador was quite familiar with the James Kirk he knew in his time, captain, it only makes--"

"Jim. Just, Jim."

Spock stops and studies him for several seconds. Finally, speaking like the name is a fragile thing he's afraid to mishandle, he agrees, "...Jim."

"There. See? Was that so hard?"

"Harder than you think."

Jim rolls his eyes and waves his glass for another round.


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