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Originally written for stunt_muppet's fandom_stocking!

Title: To the Stars
Word Count: 1293
Rating: PG
Characters: Christopher Pike, Jim Kirk
Warnings: None
Betas: Huge thanks to rosa_acicularis and glinda_penguin!

Summary: Some days, playing the hero isn't all it's cracked up to be.


It was the sort of promise Christopher Pike didn't much expect to keep, given that they both had to-do lists along the lines of: 1. Meander through the unexplored sections of the universe and/or wrangle politics, 2. Meet interesting people, most of whom want to kill me, 3. Have life-threatening adventures, 4. Send messages to reassure loved ones am not dead yet. "I'll buy you a drink next time I see you," Chris had said, and the newly minted Captain James Tiberius Kirk had grinned and said, "I'll hold you to that," and that was the last they expected to see of each other for a long, long while.

The fact that they'd both wound up at the same bar on the same little backwater planet exactly three weeks after the Enterprise had set off on her first (official) maiden voyage was, all things considered, a bit of an anticlimax.

As the jingle of the opening door caught his attention, and as he realized he was staring at an extremely familiar face, Chris found himself startled at the change in bearing, at the new confidence and poise and self-awareness. But when Jim looked over and spotted him sitting at the table in the corner, he did a double-take and transformed, with a single smirk, into the cocksure asshole Chris remembered. It was all disturbingly nostalgia-inducing.

"Hey," said Jim, once he was in earshot, and then he paused, a bit awkwardly.

"Hi," said Chris, and found himself at a similar loss for words. Words that weren't pick-up lines, anyway, because that seemed to be all he could think of to say in this sort of situation, which was a bit on the weird side. What's a Starfleet Captain like you doing in a place like this? Come here often?

"So, uh," said Jim. "Let's just skip this part. Admiral."

"Sure, Captain," said Chris, and pushed out the chair across from him. "Guess I owe you one after all." He waved at the bartender, cast a questioning glance at Jim, and finally pointed to his own glass, holding up two fingers.

"Yeah, well," said Jim, and visibly relaxed another notch when the drinks came. Chris felt a small, amused pang of sympathy; the burdens of command could be measured in red tape, and Jim looked like he'd been doing more than his fair share of cutting through it, lately. "I did my best to get killed before you'd have to pay up – thought it'd be a nice favor – but damned if there wasn't a chance in sight."

"You don't say."

Jim downed his shot, then leaned forward, laying his palms flat on the table. "You know what? I haven't even been clinging from anything by my fingertips in months. I think I might be starting to miss it."

Chris shrugged. "There are disadvantages to having an exciting first mission – I mean, nothing you do afterwards quite measures up. That's partly because you build it up so much in your own mind, you know."

Jim stared at him. "I was locked in a showdown involving a black hole, a time-travelling genocidal Romulan, and the epic romance of a certain Vulcan. How much more could I possibly build that up?"

Chris paused. "Fair point," he said.

"I mean," said Jim, "I don't want to sound ungrateful or anything – it's nice not to be on death's door all the time, and it's been great getting a chance to meet my crew when they don't have twelve or thirteen good reasons to hate my guts – but, you know."

Chris raised his glass. "It gets better. Trust me. First few months are always the worst."

Jim was looking skeptical. "Really?"

"No," said Chris. "Chances are you'll get milk run after milk run and nothing much will come up for a long time, and by then it'll be time for you to get promoted to a nice, cushy desk job. But keep telling yourself it gets more exciting." And with that, he downed his own shot.

*~*~*

They were onto their eighth or ninth drink by the time Jim coughed up the reason he was going bar-hopping instead of captaining. "Most of the crew was either around during the whole Narada thing, or they knew someone who was killed, or, well, you know. Awkward being a survivor, kind of thing. Things were getting a little strained, so I ordered a few days of shore leave."

Chris tried to bestow a particularly stern gaze upon Jim, but the room was starting to take a bit of an odd slant, so he probably just looked vaguely confused. "You didn't leave the ship unmanned?"

"Of course not," Jim said, and made a game attempt at a scoff. "There are shifts, and a skeleton crew in place at all times. Scotty wouldn't leave if you dragged him, anyway. He's up there with his technical manuals and his-" He lowered his voice to a whisper. "-warp nacelles, if you know what I mean."

Chris stared. "I really, really don't. I don't think I want to know, either."

"Suit yourself," Jim said, and grabbed hold of the table, presumably to keep it from moving. "Anyway, I thought you were some big, important admiral, now. What're you doing, consorting with the likes of us mere mortals?"

Chris shrugged, and nearly lost his balance in the process. "To be honest, I'm considering retirement."

Jim leaned across the table again. "That's funny," he said. "Because I could've sworn you just said you were considering retirement."

Chris rolled his eyes, which was a bad idea when the room was spinning anyway, but he'd never been one to pass up the ideal sarcastic gesture for any occasion. "I don't think I'm doing much good. You wouldn't believe how much politics is involved in resettling the Vulcan refugees."

"So get busted down to captain," Jim said, and waved his drink precariously close to Chris's face to punctuate that particular stroke of brilliance.

"Are you kidding? With my luck, I'd overdo it and wind up an ensign the rest of my life." Chris stared into his empty glass, which was starting to look distressingly symbolic. "Anyway, I hear there's a nice severance package."

He looked up when Jim made no reply, and was surprised to see him squinting with some approximation of a serious, concerned expression. "You shouldn't quit, Admiral. You could do a lot of good, here. We need people who saw the whole thing happen, didn't just read about it in reports, you know? Things are going to keep on changing, and we've got to keep changing with them. You can make that happen." And then he leaned back, with a slow smile that made Chris wonder if he was half as drunk as he was acting. "I knew this guy, once, captained a starship and was willing to sacrifice himself for his crew. Wound up helping to save the day."

After a long moment, Jim stood, leaning right in so he was practically nose-to-nose with Chris. "I dare you to do better."

It would've been a much more profound moment if Jim hadn't followed it up by falling over.

And as Chris rolled his eyes again and dragged Jim to his feet amid mumbles of "hey, let's go cling by our fingertips to something for a while," and as he helped Jim towards the door, to where he could be beamed up to the Enterprise and the hangover hypo that awaited therein, Chris found that he couldn't stop smiling. He didn't think it was entirely to do with the half-dozen Artrosian Slime Shots that were currently buzzing in his bloodstream.

"Things're looking up," Jim mumbled.

"Yeah," said Chris, and stared up at the endless, starry sky. "We're gonna be all right."

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
sykkea
Jan. 7th, 2010 04:02 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness, thank you for this!
tree_and_leaf
Jan. 7th, 2010 04:06 pm (UTC)
"So get busted down to captain," Jim said, and waved his drink precariously close to Chris's face to punctuate that particular stroke of brilliance.


Aw, drunk! inadvertently ironic! Jim... And I love him turning Pike's challenge back on him.
devilishdestiny
Jan. 7th, 2010 04:33 pm (UTC)
fabulous!
paranoidangel42
Jan. 7th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
I love the descriptions when they're drunk and don't quite make facial expressions and have to hold onto the table to keep it from moving.
rubynye
Jan. 7th, 2010 05:46 pm (UTC)
After a long moment, Jim stood, leaning right in so he was practically nose-to-nose with Chris. "I dare you to do better."

*cheers*

It would've been a much more profound moment if Jim hadn't followed it up by falling over.


*cracks up laughing and cheers even more loudly*
saavikam77
Jan. 7th, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)
Aww!! I just love Jim managing to turn the tables on Pike and get him out of his rut. And of course, him falling over in the end was just too hilarious. XD
alphabet26
Jan. 7th, 2010 11:30 pm (UTC)
Oh, very nice. I could see that happening. Thanks for sharing!
secretsolitaire
Jan. 8th, 2010 12:19 am (UTC)
This was a pleasure to read!
syredronning
Jan. 8th, 2010 01:31 am (UTC)
Lovely back-dare by Jim! Great talk, heart-warming. Thank you :)
garryowen
Jan. 8th, 2010 03:08 am (UTC)
Hee. I love their relationship. Nice job w/ the dialogue! <3
tardis_stowaway
Jan. 8th, 2010 04:23 am (UTC)
"You know what? I haven't even been clinging from anything by my fingertips in months. I think I might be starting to miss it."


You, miss eponymous_rose, have just won the internet. Congratulations!

This fic somehow manages to be both hilarious and inspiring. I love it!
selenak
Jan. 8th, 2010 07:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love this. And just when I was pining for more Pike fic. Perfect.
azewewish
Jan. 9th, 2010 05:51 pm (UTC)
Poor Pike. Being an admiral has got to feel like a demotion after captaining a starship.

Great job on this, especially putting Kirk in the position of being the one to give the great (albeit drunk) advice. :)
eavis
Jan. 20th, 2013 03:06 am (UTC)
Bless you. Bless your face. Bless your grandmother's cow. THIS WAS BEAUTIFUL.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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eponymous_rose
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