Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom. This story is the property of and is copyright (c) 2009 by SterJulie. Rated PG.
AFTER THE CREDITS: The City on the Edge of Forever
"Let's get the hell out of here," Kirk said.
All seven in the landing party obediently took their places clustered around their captain, ready for beam out. As luck would have it, Kirk's pattern remained in the transporter buffer until the other six officers and crew cleared off the transporter pad.
"Mr. Kyle," Spock called, "hold Captain Kirk in the transporter beam for a moment."
Doctor McCoy whirled toward the Vulcan. "Spock?" he asked in dismay. "What the devil are you doing?"
"I had no opportunity to tell you earlier, Doctor," he explained. "History demanded that we allow Miss Keeler to die. If you had saved her, our timeline would have been obliterated."
"But why hold Jim in the buffer?" the doctor asked anxiously. "For God's sake, let him out."
"One more thing, Doctor," Spock continued, lowering his voice. "Jim fell in love with Edith. This made an already most difficult task nearly unbearable for him. Please do not harangue him on this issue."
McCoy's concern for Kirk's well-being as he was held in the pattern buffer was countered with a flash of agony over the death of Edith Keeler, that angel of mercy who had taken him in during his time of greatest need. As a physician, his purpose was to save lives. Allowing someone to die as painfully as Miss Keeler did was anathema to him. He knew he needed to talk this over with someone, and he knew that Jim would also, but McCoy didn't know if he could help his captain when he needed help himself.
These ruminations only delayed Jim's rematerialization on the transporter pad.
"Okay, okay," McCoy relented, saying what he thought Spock wanted him to say, "anything to get Jim out of that blasted machine!"
Spock eyed McCoy. "I will hold you to that, Doctor," he warned. Spock turned to the transporter chief. "Energize."
Kirk rematerialized alone on the pad. He staggered a bit, sat down heavily on the steps, and dropped his head into his hands. Kyle handed the emergency medical kit to Spock, who passed it to McCoy.
Kirk waived the doctor off. "I'm okay, Bones," he said, "just a little dizzy."
McCoy scanned Kirk anyway and found nothing wrong.
It was Spock who noticed the slight change in Kirk's posture.
"Mr. Kyle," the Vulcan called without turning around, "please step out."
The transporter technician obeyed immediately and left the room. Doctor McCoy was hovering over the captain. Kirk looked up at McCoy sadly and pulled his friend into a fierce embrace.
McCoy froze for a split second, remembering the last time Kirk had held him like that. He still stung from Edith's death, but his hesitation lasted only a moment. Soon enough, McCoy returned Kirk's embrace with fervor.
Spock turned his back to his friends and shielded them from the baleful lens of the security camera. The captain was the captain, but he was also a just a man and he deserved the privacy and his dignity.
Presently, Spock felt a tug at his hand and turned around. Kirk grasped the Vulcan's hand and pulled himself up into a one-armed embrace.
Spock endured the embrace and even returned it somewhat. Kirk was his captain and he was in need. It was a small concession.
Spock prepared himself for an onslaught of emotion. He was surprised that he sensed nothing more than friendship and gratitude.
Kirk pulled back and Spock was not surprised to see the captain's eyes misted over.
"Bones and I need to talk, Spock," Kirk explained quietly.
"I will 'mind the store,' Jim," Spock replied.
As Spock walked away, he wondered how McCoy would take the news that his one act of chivalry would have allowed Hitler and his cohorts to win the bloody conflict known as World War II, would have allowed evil to take over the Earth and kill millions. McCoy's one act of charity would have cost them the universe they knew and enjoyed.
Further, Spock wondered how Kirk would respond to McCoy from now on, knowing that his friendship with McCoy and his dedication to the common good came at the price of one good woman, one great love?