Spock, son of Sarek and Amanda Grayson, son of the dead planet of Vulcan sat on t he bridge of the Enterprise, alone with his thoughts. The starship was undergoing repairs and an upgrade, though she was barely 2 weeks old. The encounter with the Romulan Nero had left the ship and crew damaged, mentally and physically both. The ship's computer now simply refused to answer any command and Spock had been working with the Starfleet techs to remedy this, with mixed results. Mostly they ignored him, except to ask for assistance, and that was fine with him. He had other things on his mind, and the thought of small-talk with people he didn't know…it was almost unbearable.

They'd all earned 2 weeks vacation for their trauma and even the Enterprise now rested in a hanger in San Francisco. It was the third day into the crew's leave, and rather early in the morning. Spock was reveling in the quiet isolation of the bridge.

Uhura had gone to the United States of Africa to see her family. She'd invited him along, he'd refused. He told her he had work to do on the ship, but he knew she suspected the truth. He had not yet recovered from the death of his mother and people and the menial work enabled him the serenity he needed to cope. He had revenged his mother, but the victory was hollow, as he knew it would be. It did nothing to relieve his guilt, his pain, his heartbreak.

Kirk's words from days earlier rang in his head. You never loved her! Not true, of course, but he'd never told the woman gave birth to him that he loved her and that fact would haunt him to the grave. No matter how he tried to logic it away, there was no peace from that terrible fact.

He hadn't moved from the science station for an hour. His long, warm hands rested on the cool control panel and his eyes were distant. He was so long and so deep in thought that he did not hear the turbolift open.

"Spock? What're you doing here?"

The male tenor voice startled him, but the only sign he gave that it had was that he spun in his chair. When he saw who it was, he relaxed.

"I might ask you the same Captain, were you not on shore leave?"

Jim Kirk had an atheistically pleasing face, but Spock thought the fake smile he wore did not suit him. The young captain turned Uhura's usual chair and plopped into it unceremoniously. He was in civilian garb, dark blue jeans and a leather jacket over a t-shirt. Kirk looked at his unflappable and grim first officer and wondered if he EVER relaxed. The thought of Spock in jeans and a t-shirt turned his grin real.

"Yeah, well, my soaring good luck didn't impress my step-dad any more than usual."

Spock's voice was even, but warmer than usual, "Is it correct to infer you do not like the man your mother married?"

Kirk's laugh was a bit bitter, "Infer? Hell, he's lucky she was there or I would have kicked his ass."

"Surely the suffering that would cause your mother would not be worth the short term satisfaction you would acquire from such an act."

Kirk, defeated by the truth of that logic, sagged in the chair. "Yeah, doesn't mean I don't enjoy thinkin' about it though."

Spock turned toward him, an arm up on his console almost casually. "You did not answer my question. It is nearly 4 in the morning, why are you here?"

"Because this is the closest thing I have to a home." He didn't mean to be that honest, but maybe he was lonely and felt like bearing his heart to someone, even if that someone was a Vulcan. "How sad is that?"

Spock tipped his head slightly, thinking for a moment before he answered. "I think it is quite logical. I too think of the Enterprise as a home."

Jim was surprised by that answer. Was Spock…relating to him? It certainly seemed that way, but he wasn't going to ask because he was sure the man would deny it. "What about you? No Africa with Nyota?" He kept his tone light and the words friendly, if Spock was going to be his only company for the evening, there was no need to antagonize him.

"There was work to be done here, and though I enjoy the Lieutenant's company, spending time in an arid climate is not appealing to me."



Kirk took in a breath, "You don't want to go because the deserts will make you think of Vulcan, and you'll want to go there…" his voice dropped to a low whisper, ashamed he'd brought it up. "It's worse 'cause you can't. It's called being homesick." He hoped the other man didn't think he was patronizing him, because he wasn't.

If Spock was offended it didn't show. "Indeed," he said lowly. "It does feel as if I've been afflicted with a physical ailment."

"Tired? Restless?" He paused, hesitated, then said, "Sad?" He was probably depressed, though both Sarek and Bones had assured him the Vulcan was more than fit to serve on the Enterprise, it didn't mean Spock wasn't hurting. Before the other could answer, Kirk had another embarrassing truth to reveal. "I mind melded with the other you…the old one. I…I know how deeply you feel."

The Vulcan arched an eyebrow; a piece fell into place with a satisfying click. "Is that how you knew you could emotionally compromise me?"

Kirk's regret showed on his face plainly. "Yeah…sorry about that. I…" He found the courage to look into Spock's intelligent, quiet eyes. Let it never be said James T. Kirk was a coward. "I didn't mean most of it. I mean, I would have before that mind meld with old you. But really I was just doin' what…well…you told me to do," he finished lamely.

Spock nodded, accepting the apology, of sorts, that it was. "Your actions saved Earth," he stated plainly.

"I still feel bad. Though, I did notice he conveniently forgot to mention you could break me in half with your pinky." He held a finger up before Spock could reply. "And don't say I'm exaggerating, I saw that look in your eye. If Sarek hadn't stepped in and saved my ass, I'd be very dead."

The First Officer was quiet for a minute and 29 seconds as he pondered the best way to approach what he had to say. It was long enough that Kirk began to squirm; suspecting he'd said something wrong. Picking on the Vulcan was easier than trying to make friends with him, but Kirk was determined to try.

"When I asked my older self why he had sent you and not merely come aboard the Enterprise himself, he told me something I will not forget."

"What was that?" The human was surprised Spock had apparently changed the subject. "Avoid Jim Kirk?"

"No." The brief spark of humor in Spock's eyes showed that he got Jim's joke. "Quite the opposite. He said he could not deprive me of a friendship that would define us both, in more ways than I could imagine. As I am disinclined to argue with myself, and whatever our futures might have been, I think that we should endeavor to resolve our differences. Is this agreeable?"

Of all the things he'd expected Spock to say, that hadn't been one of them. His full mouth hung open slightly, very obviously shocked. Spock waited patiently for his answer. Could he be friends with the pointy-eared bastard? He knew the answer to that. It was utterly impossible and so he knew he would be. He'd defy the odds just for the sake of being defiant.

"More than agreeable. I've seen what happens to your enemies." He found he was only half joking. "Besides, it'll be easier to run a ship if we're not out to get each other."

"I concur. Friends forgive each other, if my Earth tradition knowledge does not fail me." It didn't, in this case, and they both knew it. "I will forgive you your words if you will forgive me for attempting to… 'break you in half with my pinky'."

Kirk gave an ironic puff of air that was meant to be a laugh, then the Vulcan's words truly sunk in and he gaped. "You'd drop it? Just like that? I took the Captain's chair away from you."

"And you are still operating under the false impression that I have an ego to bruise. You are the better man for this job. You do not just hear, you understand. It is a talent I am still learning. Humans are complex and more complicated than any computer program I have yet encountered. I am beginning to comprehend that quantifying you as individuals and as a race will be a life-long process. Yes, I forgive you."

Kirk nodded, feeling a little at loss. The Vulcan had said this all without inflection or emotion in his voice, but Jim thought maybe he saw the truth of it in his eyes. Perhaps it was possible to read this interesting man; he'd have to have a deep talk with Uhura about that one when she got back. "Good, well, I forgive you too. Actually, I was sort of happy it worked." He cleared his throat and stood. "What would you say to a game of chess?"

Spock almost smiled. There was hope for this friendship yet. He was beginning to see the wisdom of listening to himself. He'd found a friend, a friend he was 99% certain he could beat at chess, but who he also knew, with the same amount of certainty, would put up an excellent fight. "I would say…I am available for such an activity, and it would be most enjoyable."

They left the bridge together.