Twenty-two days after the ceremony, Captain James T. Kirk (ret.) had nothing to do.  His Marin County residence was spotless and provisioned with six months worth of everything imaginable.  The roof garden was weeded and pruned with nary a leaf out of place.  The drive systems on his speeder had been tuned, overhauled and upgraded; the whole thing sparkled inside and out--undercarriage included.

His financials had been reviewed and some decisions revised; he had even updated his will.  He'd visited Peter and his wife; he'd approved the proof of his memoirs.  His affairs were shipshape and ready for anything.

Therein lay the problem.  He was rested, organized and ready to tackle anything, but he was expecting absolutely, positively nothing.

No red alerts were going to sound.  No Priority Ones were going to arrive.  No more meals or showers or sleep periods were going to be so rudely interrupted.  He would have all day tomorrow fix the sticky doors and the quirky appliances around the house.  And the next day.  And the next.  And the next.  Just like every other old retired guy on the block.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, so Jim was taking a stab at the life of leisure.  Bones had suggested golf.  He couldn't remember his exact response to that, but it had involved the term 'tal-shaya.'  Spock had suggested compiling a comparative history of military negotiation tactics.  He couldn't remember his exact response to that either, but he had decided that tal-shaya would not be nearly a quick enough out.

Chekov had come up with this idea--well, sort of.  Kirk had tossed out the idea of a vacation, but where was there to go when one had been all around the galaxy and back again?

Russia, Chekov had said.   See Red Square, St. Basil's, the Kremlin, Lenin's memorial.

Why, Jim had asked.  What was it like?

Chekov said he didn't know.  He'd never been there himself, but he'd heard it was unparalleled.

For 35 years--more than half his life--San Francisco had been his base address, and yet he'd never 'done' the city.    Oh, he could draw a map of the transit system free hand in his sleep and he'd eaten his fair share of Ghirardelli, but he'd never been to the factory, never rode the electric rail, never been to Alcatraz or lit candle in a mission.  He'd never crawled inside a Muir Woods redwood or watched a street performer from start to finish and paid her for his delight.   He'd heard the harbor sea lions, seen them, but never stood and watched them do--whatever it is that sea lions do as the fish sellers tossed their catch across the counter and the seagulls cackled from above.

So this morning he decided to be a tourist in his own hometown.  He headed out bright and early and did all of those things and more.  He strolled Haight-Ashbury and the Beatnik Hall of Fame.  He rode the lift to the top of Transamerica II and reached up on cue with the rest of the balcony crowd to touch a cloud.  He watched the reenactment vid of the construction of the Golden Gate, and he walked across the real thing; it was seemed longer than it did from the air.  Spock said those perceived differences were in his head, but it felt more like they were in his feet.

By 1500 his list was almost complete.  Next item was Lombard Street--once called the Crookedest Street in the World.  Spock had had something to say about that, but it was on his to-do list, so he went anyway.

He started up the hill.  To his left he saw Coit Tower; he had lived near there for a year or so while at the Academy.  Well, cadets had to live on grounds, so technically speaking he didn't really 'live' there, but this girl he knew had, so he had--sort of.

It was plain, small apartments--mostly state and student housing; at the Academy they had called it living in the pubic hair of the tower.  Looking down at it now, he marveled; he'd been blind back them.  That was some of the best real estate in the area.  His old rooftop could be seen on many a postcard sold around the city, the country, the Earth--but he hadn't appreciated it at the time.  It was just the place where he had slept on his way to something better.  He didn't know what, but he'd been sure that something much, much better awaited him.

He turned his back on his old rooftop and started up the Lombard street hill again.  Wasn't it once called Russian Hill?   It really was quite beautiful, this whole tourist district.  Lombard itself was lined with flower beds in a host of brilliant colors--annuals probably--splendid in their glory but only for one season.

He came to the second corner, and then to the third; both at forty-five degrees and leading him in almost opposite directions, first to one side, then to the other, when the only way he really wanted to go was up.   He couldn't see the top of the hill from this angle, couldn't see the rest of the street--where it went--couldn't remember from the postcards what it was supposed to look like at the top.  The flowerbeds were changing now from low, spreading creepers to tall, waving stalks.  Lupines? Or were they gladiolas?  Spock would know, but if he asked he would have to listen to the rest of the lecture, so maybe he would just let it go.

The hill wasn't that long.  It wasn't tiring; it was just enough to let him stretch his muscles, feel the blood beat in his chest and to remind his body how worthwhile it was to stay conditioned.  He quickened his pace.  Hey, old men don't jog up Lombard Street.  He started to run.

He got to the top, not winded, but feeling pretty good.  One more item checked off on his list.  He turned around to head back down to the trolley stop, but stopped and caught his breath when he beheld the view.

No postcard could do it justice.  Not with the sun on his face, the fog in the distance, the scent of the fresh flowers on the capricious breeze.  Below Lombard street wound down towards the square, the wharf and the bay.  Now he could see the whole thing--zipping left and right--leading exactly where it was supposed to, to the very best, the very beating heart of old San Fran--even though it took the long way around.

Moving at a more dignified pace, Spock had now made it to the top; like always he followed not very far away.  Jim took his hand and held it between their bodies.  "Have you ever been here before?"

"Not like this."

"Me either.  Let's not wait thirty years to come again."

Only a handful of passersby wandered around.  Jim extracted his hand and slid it around Spock's waist, into his rear pocket.  Neither was much for public displays.  He'd always thought it a little ridiculous for men of certain years, but what the hell, this was their city and they had earned themselves a little freedom.  Gazing out at the sea, the hills, the sinking sun, he did what millions of lovers before him had done.  Quietly, he took a kiss. 

Maybe retirement wasn't going to be so bad.  One by one, ideas began to flow of what else they could do now that he had the time. 

The view from the top was wonderful, but they weren't doing anyone any good standing here by themselves.  Somewhere, by god surely someone needed a little help from two men who had traveled the stars and back.

Arm around waist, they wound their way back down Lombard and back to the yet undiscovered future that awaited--somewhere down the road.