September 17th 2293
The McCutcheon Home
Peter Kirk knew that his dear friends, Laurel McCutcheon and Jaion Merz, were to be married in the coming month. But he had not expected the simple thing they now offered. "Me? Attend your wedding?"
The couple held hands, and were obviously very much in love. McCutcheon nodded. "Lets just say that when you kept yourself together aboard Enterprise, two years ago, it helped us to see you could overcome anything, if you really wanted to."
Kirk felt warm inside. In his own mind, he doubted he had really done anything for his friends. But if they felt a connection between him and their choice to spend their lives together, he wasnt going to fight it. "So your parents dont object to my being there?"
Merz shook his head. "After the couples counseling, we kind of took control over our wedding. They kept telling us how it was their day, how important it was to them. You werent even an issue. But it was kind of when they said we had their permission to invite you and a couple of other people that we called a halt."
Kirk perhaps understood this notion best of all. Even the feeling of control over ones own fate was important, as far as he was concerned. Only one more thing could make it perfect, and a knock on the nearby front door provided that element.
McCutcheon answered, and through that door walked the woman that Peter Kirk had proposed to, ten months before.
Without meaning to, he ignored his hosts, rose up and met his fiancée to kiss her. He saw McCutcheon playfully elbow Merz, with an implied look that said maybe he should emulate what they saw.
"Guys, this is the lovely lady Ive told you so much about. The future Mrs. Peter Kirk, Doctor Calita Iberez!"
He felt intense pride as he introduced the woman he loved to his dearest friends. He only wished she seemed more at ease, outside of her circle on Serenidad. McCutcheon, ever the hugger, rose up and embraced Iberez.
"So youre the Bride of Firebug? Lady, you better be good enough for him."
Iberez smiled, though to Kirk her smile seemed forced, somehow. He wondered now if she was actually uncomfortable, especially as she spoke.
"Well, marrying into Starfleet royalty is a little daunting. Peter and his uncle are great heroes on Serenidad, as well."
Merz nodded. "Dont I know it. One of the reasons my dad and Lauries relented on inviting Pete was that awesome footage of him fighting the big Klingon. You may have to provide some fighting lessons, Lieutenant."
Iberez now seemed to almost shake. "He almost died in that fight, you know."
Kirk turned to her, and squeezed her hand. "Honey, Im fine now. Jaion was just giving my poor ego some padding, thats all."
Merz seemed to gulp. "Im really sorry, Calita. Its just that since Ive known Pete, I just take for granted that hell get through. You should have seen him back on Enterprise. Scotty was so upset with him, but Pete stood his ground."
Iberez shook her head. "No, JaionLaurel. I am sorry. I became highly emotional at that time. Peter and I were freshly engaged, when the royal residence was invaded. It felt like I would lose him, just after so many joyous plans had been made."
McCutcheon smiled. "Dont apologize for that, Calita. I felt the same way when Pete got injured fighting the Orions, and I wasnt engaged to him."
Merz nodded. "But I was."
Kirk pointed. "You told!"
Mock-sobbing, McCutcheon placed her head in her hands. "My fiancé and one of my best friends! Ohh, the shame of it all."
Iberez joined in the humor. "Perhaps it is merely one of those things that happened."
The evening certainly went well enough, after that, but something somewhere did not sit right with Peter Kirk. He was however extremely grateful that his lovely fiancée seemingly found her footing so quickly in such an awkward situation. Back at the large apartment shared by Kirk and his famous uncle, he said as much.
"You really did well, honey. That little joke they made had me worried about how you would handle it."
Iberez turned to him from the bathroom mirror, and said words Kirk wasnt sure he believed. "What little joke was that, darling?"
Jim Kirk wasnt home yet from his meeting with Captain Kate Logan, and for that Peter was grateful. He sensed this conversation perhaps heading downhill. "Well, its just that the humor about a fiancée and a best friend can hit rather close to home, you know?"
Kirk now knew this lovely woman well enough to be nearly certain of when she was laying down a pattern of deception, if not actively lying.
"Are you thinking about all that? Peter, it never once crossed my mind."
Right, he thought. And my parents are both alive and well and living in Florida. "Well, you still did really well."
His instincts would prove sadly correct, as per this conversation.
"As opposed to what? Are you saying that I normally dont do well when meeting your friends?"
He wondered if his uncle was contradicted this often by Spock. "You always do well. Its just that they didnt realize how you felt about that fight, and I was proud of how well you kept your footing."
"So now youre saying that I fall apart every time someone glorifies the fight that almost got you killed?"
Life had a sick simplicity, Kirk recalled, when his only goal had been to push people away. But Calita Iberez was well worth the complexity he now faced, even if he often felt hopelessly lost in it all.
"Calita, thats also the fight where I didnt get killed. I had a very good doctor. In fact, word is, Im in love with and Im going to marry her."
She looked just a little taken aback.
Kirk almost felt ashamed at the ease with which he could calm her with a simple declaration of affection. It felt like cheating, and cheating, he knew all too well, always caught up with one.
"You still want to marry her?" she asked.
He walked up, kissed her, and their arms fell around each other. "I do."
Inside Peter Kirks bedroom, two young people then made love with a passion. Only dimly did Peter realize that this often happened when the words got tense. Only much later would he see that this too had been a form of cheating.
In the afterglow, and watching the clock for when she had to leave, Doctor Iberez cuddled against her man. "I have to catch the Royal Barque by 0500. Teresa needs those medical supplies."
Kirk stirred. "She all right?"
Iberezs royal employer, Princess Teresa McCoy of Serenidad, often needed to have this medicine manufactured, or at least have some on hand, as Peter Kirk knew well. "Si. Leonard thinks that soon, your little discovery will have her independent of outside sources entirely. Strange how we two never found those anomalies, like you did."
Kirk squeezed and held her. "Not so strange. Outsiders have a perspective, and I was so thunderstruck by learning of her illness, my brain just went on overdrive."
"Dont be modest, my heart. It doesnt become a scientist as talented as you. I think one day you might even surpass your late cousin Doctor Marcus in some kind of major breakthrough."
Kirk sat up. "Youre kidding, right? Honey, Davids area of expertise was completely separate from mine. And he was a genius for whom the word meant something. I stand a better chance of eventually becoming captain of a future Enterprise."
She sat up, and looked at him. "So youve made up your mind to stay in Starfleet? I thought we agreed youd consider a job on Serenidad."
He was in for it, but he was also too tired to dance around. "Well, I agreed to consider considering it. Really, I dont want to leave Starfleet. Would you want to join? You could be a CMO in no time flat, especially when you consider your expertise on Klingon physiology."
She lay back down, her face away from him. "I have a job. A very secure job. Why should I give it up to follow you around the galaxy? You could hold any number of jobs on Serenidad, a place where youll always be hailed as a hero, and your uncle as a god."
He lay back down, his answer clear to him. "Ill consider all my options. But Kirks are explorers. I think I belong out there, at least some of the time."
She took his hand in hers. "Promise me, here and now, that you will give equal consideration to Serenidad. I want you with me as much as possible. Maybe Im not like your Grandma Marjorie. Maybe I dont want to be second in your heart. Am I?"
Dearly though he loved her, he also despised those little moments when she would casually ask such unanswerable, multi-headed questions. "Youre first...and last, too. Ill give Serenidad a lot more thought."
He had wanted to start in with her. To say that she was frankly full of crap about the marriage of George and Marjorie Kirk. To come out and ask her whether second in his heart was a veiled reference to his medicinal liaison with Teresa. A liaison Iberez had set him up for with lies and feints, fearing his morality wouldnt allow for what had to be done. But as Jim and others had told him, this kind of relationship sometimes required enormous amounts of giving. "Im sorry to have been so pigheaded, Calita." Yet having no preset gauge in this, Kirk also failed to see that sometimes, one can concede too much, as well.
"Not a problem, darling. Tell me, do you plan to put in a brief appearance at Laurel and Jaions wedding, or simply tell them that you have a scheduling conflict?"
He was puzzled at this question, so he just spoke the truth. "I plan...to step on the brides toes as I dance with her, go for thirds and fourths at the buffet table, play football with the groom and others, and if asked to, offer up a toast to the eternal happiness of the newlyweds. I also hope to show off my hellaciously sexy bride-to-be, wearing a stunning piece borrowed from her best friend."
She sat up again, this time turning on the bed lamp next to her. "Youre actually going? Peter, suppose a member of Lauries family is not so forgiving and wants to have harsh words with you?"
He shrugged. "Ill let them, for the most part. They have the right. Besides, no one does that kind of thing in real life, unless theyre obviously loaded. Well be fine, honey."
She shook her head. "Im certainly not going to attend some event where people will be pointing at and talking about the man I love."
He now sat up. "No one is going to be talking about me, except in passing. Theyll probably be talking about that stupid fight, anyway, if that. Im reasonably certain I wont hear a word about it, Calita. The past is the past."
She got up from the bed, ostensibly to shower and get ready for departure. "Using that logic, perhaps I should invite members of my headmasters family to our wedding, so we can reminisce about molestation and child rape!"
Kirk met her glare. She wasnt even bothering to listen to him. "If any of them gave you the kind of help in getting back your life that Laurel and Jaion have given me, then I think you should invite them! Theyre not just being kind or charitable, Calita. Theyve given me the very great honor of being there as their lives begin anew. So if I am able, then I am going."
She headed for the shower, her bitterness negating some of the attraction of her naked form. "The past never leaves us. See this?" She slapped her own backside. "Only when you touch me there in some way do I dare to forget that I was violated repeatedly as a child, my screams unheard. The past is with me, Peter Kirk. Its with me in that I will never bear your children. Its with me in a dozen other ways, too. Im only trying to protect the man I love from being made a fool of for the mistakes he once made. Im sorry if that makes me a villain. But dont you tell me the past is just the past. Its always there, and we cant escape it. We can only get bare moments to forget."
Kirk looked at her, and though he wished to be gentle towards her, said what he felt he had to. "If I believed that anymore, Id still be in Tantalus."
She was done and gone quickly, without another single word.
Peter Kirk realized that while he hadnt meant to use fighting words, he also could not allow the words Iberez used to go unchallenged. And he began to doubt whether or not he and Calita Iberez were ever going to be happy.
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