A/N: I started this story several months ago. I had planned to finish it well before now but other...things got in the way. Now that I have started posting "Becoming," this story demanded to also be posted. (Ah - sibling rivalry.) This story is unrelated to "Becoming." And not to worry (not that I'm implying in any way that you are worried) I am still working on "Becoming" and will post more soon.

Hope you like this one! Reviews are writer-crack! Love and a shout-out to my most faithful readers/reviewers. You keep me going!

"Captain," Lieutenant Uhura said, her tone more respectful than usual, her serious expression not a good sign.

"Yes?" Captain Kirk responded, swiveling his chair to face her more fully.

"Admiral Pike is requesting to speak to you, sir. In private, on a personal matter," Uhura said.

"I see," the Captain responded, wishing his stomach didn't feel like it had sunk into his boots. He was pretty sure he wasn't in trouble for anything, having avoided any diplomatic incidents in the past few months. "I'll talk with him in the conference room."

"Aye sir," she agreed, turning back to inform the Admiral.

Kirk stood and automatically pulled his gold uniform lower over the black shirt he always wore beneath, trying to ignore all of the eyes of his Bridge crew trained on him. He was fairly sure he would see concern mixed with respect and no small amount of curiosity. Spock reached his side when he arrived at the turbolift.

"Should I accompany you, sir?" Spock asked quietly, his black eyes studying his Captain with an almost unnerving intensity.

"No, Spock. I'm pretty sure I'm not about to be reprimanded, this time," Jim responded, his smile only on his mouth and not anywhere near his blue eyes that were minus their usual sparkle. "You have the Bridge."

"Yes sir," Spock agreed, clearly reluctant to remain but obediently going to take the Captain's chair and his responsibility.

Jim made his way to the conference room, letting Uhura know he was ready. Her beautiful face faded, replaced by Admiral Pike, looking worried and possibly upset. "Admiral," Jim said.

"Jim," Chris replied. Okay, so he wasn't in trouble with Starfleet. "I'm afraid I have bad news, son."

"Yes sir," Jim responded, watching Chris steadily from where he stood before the viewscreen.

"It's your mom. She was leaving Platleta Major after the relief efforts. The shuttle was hit by lightening and crashed." Chris paused, studying Jim and seeing the recognition on his face. "I'm sorry, son. There were no survivors."

"I see," Jim said, not sure what other response was appropriate. Not sure what he should be feeling right now.

"I have your bereavement leave form completed, Jim. Once you decide when you want to come to Earth, let me know. I'll submit it with the pertinent information and you'll be temporarily relieved of duty."

"Yes sir," Jim repeated, not sure what Chris was talking about. Leave? He was going to be required to leave Enterprise? That didn't make sense to him.

"Jim," Chris said, taking him out of his reverie. "You'll need to come home. You have things to settle here. I know you don't want to return to Earth but there are details that must be taken care of. Do you understand, son?"

"Not entirely," Jim admitted, his unblinking eyes staring at Chris. His head was buzzing and he wasn't sure the Admiral was even speaking English. He saw Chris' lips moving but what was it he was saying?

"Stay there for just a minute, Jim. Don't leave, alright?"

"Yes sir," Jim agreed, staring at the screen as Chris faded out to be replaced by the Starfleet Headquarters emblem. What was expected of him now? And why was Chris talking about him being relieved of command? Was he in trouble for something new he had done that he didn't know was wrong?

He looked over with a start when Spock entered the conference room. "What are you doing here?" he asked, sure he had left Spock on the Bridge.

"Admiral Pike requested my presence, sir," Spock told him quietly.

"Oh," Jim said, frowning at him. "Why?"

"In order for me to discuss with him the details," Spock explained.

"The details? Of what? Am I being relieved of command?" Jim asked in a neutral voice.

"No, Jim," Pike assured him. He had reappeared on the screen but Jim had failed to notice, Spock his only focus.

"Sir," Spock said, nodding at Pike. "Will her body be returned to Earth?"

"No, Commander. That is not possible," Pike said in regret. "Will you come with Jim to Earth? I know it will be difficult for you, with the circumstances, but…"

"It will not pose any difficulties to me, sir. I will come," Spock said with a nod.

"Where are you going?" Jim asked Spock, concern in his eyes.

"I am going with you to Earth, Jim," Spock explained.

"I'm not going to Earth," Jim said with a frown.

"Jim," the Admiral said, drawing Jim's focus to him once more. "You must come to Earth. To settle your mother's affairs. Spock will accompany you."

Jim shook his head. He understood what Chris had said. His mother had been killed in a shuttle crash. What did that have to do with him? He hadn't spoken to her in at least four years. Not since before he joined Starfleet. She hadn't even contacted him after the Narada incident, to congratulate him, one of the few who hadn't. As far as he was concerned, she had been out of his life for most of it. Was he now expected to grieve for her?

When he focused again on Spock, it was to discover that he was talking to Chris, his presence apparently unnecessary to the conversation.

"Where are you going, Jim?" Chris asked from the viewscreen.

"To the Bridge, Admiral. I'm on duty," Jim told him with an edge of impatience. Jim heard Chris sigh and was sorry he had angered him or disappointed him or… well, he wasn't sure what the sigh was for. But he was sorry he had caused it. He'd apologize to him later, when things again made sense and he could hear anything other than the roar of his head.

He wandered down the corridor of his ship, certain he was returning to the Bridge. Instead, he ended up at Medical Bay. Visiting Bones had become his default when he needed to think, to have a sounding board. He didn't hear any of the medical personnel speak to him as he went directly to Bones' office, glad his friend was there.

"What's wrong?" Bones asked, rounding his desk to close his door. He recognized that expression, one he had only seen twice before. It was not good.

"My mother was killed in a shuttle accident," Jim said softly, sitting down because Bones wanted him to, the Doctor in the chair next to him.

"That was the call from Pike?" Bones asked.

"Yes. He's talking to Spock. He apparently thinks I am going to Earth."

"Of course you are, Jim. There are things that you have to take care of," Bones told him.

"No," Jim said, shaking his head. "You never even met mom. What does that tell you?"

"I know, Jim. But you are the only Kirk left. There are matters which must be dealt with. And it's your responsibility."

"What matters? Her body wasn't recovered. She won't buried. It's done."

"Jim," Bones said softly, shaking his head, one hand on his friend's arm. "You have to deal the farm. You have to notify the family that are left. You have no choice but to go home."

"I do have a choice, Bones. Just like she did. Her choice was to pretend I didn't exist," Jim told him, only an edge of anger in his voice.

"I know," Bones repeated, watching through the glass wall of his office as Spock approached. He opened the door so that the Commander could join them.

"I am not going to Earth," Jim informed Spock before he had a chance to speak.

Spock didn't know what to say to that and could only look to the Doctor for guidance. He understood the Captain's reluctance but equally understood the necessity of Jim returning to Earth under the circumstances.

"Spock is going to go with you, Jim," Bones said gently. "You won't have to deal with it alone."

"I will be accompanying you, Captain," Spock agreed.

"You go. I have no intentions of it," Jim stated firmly.

"Jim," Bones sighed.

"What, Bones? She deserves my grief? She deserves me leaving my ship? No. She gave birth to me. After that, she barely acknowledged me. It's been even worse since Sam died. Like I'm to blame for his death too. Apparently I killed her husband and her only son. And now that she's dead, I should be overcome with grief? Not likely," Jim scoffed.

"Doctor?" Spock asked, unable to comprehend the words his Captain was saying.

"You know it's complicated, Spock. Jim, you have to go to Earth. It's not an option to stay away," Bones told him firmly.


Bones sighed, shaking his head again. "What time is it?" he asked Spock.

"1619," Spock responded, studying the Captain who was staring straight ahead and acknowledging neither of the other two men.

"Alright," Bones said. "Jim, alpha is over. Go to the gym with Spock and try to beat the shit of him. When you're done, call me."


"Because once you've taken out your frustration on Spock, you're going to have a bloody nose and the grief is going to replace your anger. And it's going to take us both to deal with it."

"You're wrong about the grief. I'm not ever going to feel it," Jim informed him as he stood.

"Go with Spock. Call me when you're done," Bones reminded Spock.

"I will," Spock confirmed, leaving the MedBay to go to the gym, making certain the Captain was following. He knew Jim was operating on auto-pilot and hoped that McCoy was right – once he'd worked out some of his anger, the grief would find its way to the surface.

Spock led Jim into the officers' locker room, changing and making sure Jim did as well. When they were both dressed in their workout clothes, he went with Jim to one of the private rooms, securing the door so that they would not be interrupted.

"So what now?" Jim asked Spock as they stood on the thick padded floor.

"I suggest we start with the Xindi holds and counterholds," Spock suggested. Those were the techniques they had most recently practiced so he thought they would still be fresh in the Captain's muscle memory.

Jim nodded, approaching Spock in the way they had utilized when they had practiced, his center of gravity low and balanced. Spock evaded him for the first minutes, studying him and deciding how engaged his Captain was in the exercise. He had to be careful not to hurt him if he was too distracted and yet provide enough of a challenge to work out some of his anger. Making the decision, Spock slowed his movement so that Jim was able to grasp his shoulders enough to throw him to the mats.

"If you aren't going to try, Spock, there's not much point," Jim told him where he lay across Spock's legs.

"You will not defeat me," Spock assured him, knowing his Captain would rise to his challenge. He raised up on his elbows, studying the Captain in his prone position.

"I did last time," Jim reminded him, catching his eyes. "And I will this time."

"Not likely, sir," Spock countered, jumping gracefully to his feet after Jim had moved away. When Jim was upright, they engaged in full Xindi Oppugnāre, Spock holding back only a quarter of his superior strength. Jim grappled and counter-moved with his usual quickness and unpredictability, Spock more deliberate and disciplined. Spock was able to throw Jim four times to Jim's three wins.

"Call," Jim finally said as he lay beneath Spock, both sweat soaked and panting, Jim's breathing more labored than Spock's.

"An excellent match, sir," Spock said as he rolled off of his Captain to lay staring up at the ceiling.

"Was it?" Jim asked, turning his head to see Spock's flushed face, the sweat gleaming off his forehead, his black hair slicked to his head.

"Indeed, sir," Spock agreed.

Jim wiped the sweat from his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt and slowly sat up. "You didn't bloody my nose this time."

"I apologize, Captain. I will be more diligent in future," Spock said. Jim had to laugh at his joke, shaking his head.

"Bones will be disappointed but I don't mind," Jim assured him. "Why do I have to go to Earth, Spock? I'm not deliberately being obtuse. I just don't understand."

"There is much that must be seen to. Her personal items and the farm must be dealt with. You must have an Earth death certificate on file."

"Why?" Jim asked.

"It is protocol. There are matters with Starfleet that you must see to. She would have been receiving death benefits from your father and brother. Those will now come to you, as will hers."

"I don't want them," Jim said, shaking his head.

"I understand. However, a new beneficiary must be named. There are forms to be signed, paperwork to be filed, arrangements to be made. And you must notify any remaining family of what has occurred."

"And who's going to do that for me when I die?" Jim asked, trying not to sound as bitter as he felt.

"Dr. McCoy and I will, sir, providing I do not kill him prior to your death," Spock said.

"Please don't," Jim requested with a half smile. "And I'll probably outlive Bones."

"I certainly hope so, sir," Spock said.

"If we're discussing you acting as my next of kin, don't you think 'sir' is a little misplaced?" Jim asked.

"It simplifies discussing matters of a personal nature," Spock explained. "To think of you at a distance."

"Oh," Jim said, laying back by him. "Thank you."

"For what?" Spock asked, turning his head to study his Captain, his friend.

Jim shrugged. "You better tell McCoy I'm okay. Because he'll be here soon to find out."

Spock nodded, going to the intercom on the wall and letting the doctor know that they had finished and neither were in need of his services.

"How's Jim?"

Spock turned to look at Jim, an eyebrow raised in question. Jim just gazed back at him. "I believe he is…all right, Doctor."

"I see," Bones said. "Do I need to come?"

"No," Jim answered for himself slowly standing. "You want to meet us in Officers' Mess in 45 minutes?"

"Yeah. Shower first," Bones chided him gently.

Jim ignored him, entering the code to unlock the door, leaving for the locker rooms. They stripped and showered, putting on their uniforms before making their way to Officers' Mess. When they entered, those present tried not to be obvious about studying their Captain but it was clear that they had all heard about his mother. He chose to leave their curiosity and their concern unaddressed. When he and Spock had their meals, they joined the doctor and Mr. Scott at the Captain's table.

"Sir," Scotty said, watching him.

"I'm okay," Jim told them.

"Did you beat Mr. Spock?" Scotty asked as he ate more of his fried chicken.

"Three time. Spock won four," Jim said with a shrug.

"And no bloody nose?" McCoy asked, studying Jim closely.

"No. He apologized for failing to injury me," Jim joked with a half smile.

"Next time," McCoy requested, gesturing his fork at Spock.

Spock nodded, eating his dinner mostly in silence as the other three talked of their days and anything which had occurred. Jim seemed slightly subdued but not totally out of sorts. No one brought up the subject of Jim taking leave, Bones knowing it would fall to him to tackle it once more. Between him and Spock, he felt sure they would convince him of the necessity of returning to Earth.

"Thank you, sirs," Scotty said when he was finished. He stood and gathered all of the plates, taking them away as he left the table.

"Jim," Bones said, watching the Captain as he sipped his coffee. Jim looked over the rim at Bones, setting down the cup with a small sigh.

"I know. I have to do it," Jim said in resignation.

"Yes," Bones confirmed with a nod.

"Can't you come?" Jim asked, not wanting to sound overly needy.

"I can't, Jim. I'm sorry. Spock will be with you. And you can reach me over the communicator any time you need me," Bones reminded him.

"Yeah," Jim sighed, glancing at Spock. "Did Chris say if they will be sending a relief Captain while we're gone?"

"He said that we will go to Spacestation VanHalen. Mr. Scott will be able to oversee the repairs and upgrades he has wanted to have made for some time," Spock said.

"Okay," Jim agreed. "Will the rest of the crew have leave?"

"Not engineering," Bones said. "And I'll be at the Intergalactic Medical Conference most of that time."

"Yeah," Jim repeated, staring into his cup. "Okay. I guess I better contact Chris and tell him."

"You will need to wait until tomorrow. It's 0130 in San Francisco," Spock said.

"I'll send him a message and then he can contact me tomorrow at his convenience," Jim said. "Did you tell Sulu to alter course?"

"I did not. The Admiral asked that I wait until you had made your decision," Spock said. "I will contact Lt. Browne now."

"Thanks," Jim agreed with a nod, watching Spock go to the intercom to convey the message.

"When are you going to finally tell him?" Bones asked softly.

"Tell who what?" Jim responded.

"Spock. How you feel."

"Uhm…never. Never's good for me," Jim said.

"You think for one minute he doesn't feel the same way about you?" Bones asked.

"I have no idea. And I'm not going to risk the second most important friendship I've ever had just to find out. Better he stays my friend."

Bones shook his head, giving up sooner than usual. He still could not fathom why Jim didn't just tell Spock how he really felt about him. Jim had never shied away from anything before, which Bones supposed that only emphasized how important Spock was to him. If he cared less, he'd be more willing to risk what they had for what could be. If only Jim would believe that his feelings for Spock were reciprocated. But Bones couldn't prove it and Jim did everything he could to hide the true depths of his feelings for his first officer. Of course it was no coincidence that Bones wasn't going to Earth with them. He probably could have with a little trouble but time alone together was what they both needed, for a lot of reasons.

"Course altered and laid in, sir," Spock confirmed when he was standing by the table, his hands clasped behind his back.

"Thank you," Jim said. "I'm going to my quarters. Let me know if either of you need me."

"Alright," Bones agreed.

"Would you care for a game of chess, sir?" Spock asked Jim.

"So you can beat me physically and mentally?" Jim asked with half a smile.

"I would not choose to use that particular phrase," Spock said.

"No, you wouldn't," Jim acknowledged. "Sure. I'll lose to you in chess too. Give me half an hour."

"Of course. I need to go to the Science Labs and will come to your quarters following that."

"Good," Jim agreed, going out of the mess with him, McCoy talking to a couple of the crewmembers.

When Jim reached his quarters, he sat behind his computer, fully intending to send the required messages. But instead he began to think about his mother and the impact her death would have on his life. He couldn't imagine it making any difference and that pissed him off. Their relationship, if he could even pretend they had one, had always been …difficult. It wasn't just his father dying that caused the distance between them. It was Jim's rebellious nature and his head strong attitude. He would be the first to admit he was a difficult child but wasn't every child difficult in his or her own way? Well, he couldn't imagine Spock being difficult but he had heard a rumor about several very un-Vulcan-like scuffles that Spock had initiated as a child. And although Spock rarely talked about his mother, Jim knew that she had been the most important person in his life and her death had been devastating to him. He still had some guilt about the things he had said to Spock to gain control of Enterprise but they had put that unfortunate episode behind them when Spock had requested to become his First Officer.

Jim had sometimes found himself envying the cadets who were close to their parents. He had tried to ignore his classmates' delight when their mothers and fathers would pay a visit to the Academy, to attend Parents' Weekend, or to come to Homecoming. He and Bones spent those weekends together, often in a drunken stupor, Bones claiming he was too old to engage in such juvenile activities. He was a doctor, dammit, not a cheerleader. That was fine by Jim. He knew his mother would never step foot on the Academy grounds, never visit her son, never see the tributes to her husband that Jim was sure were erected to simply taunt him and make him feel less worthy than ever before.

And when he had defied all odds and made good? Had she so much as commed him to congratulate him? Of course not. There was only one Captain Kirk she would ever acknowledge having existed and it sure wasn't him. Never mind that his father was only captain long enough to be heroically and tragically killed. This Captain Kirk, the one who had also first gotten the position under unavoidable circumstances but had retained the title officially, this Captain Kirk did not exist in Winona Kirk's world. And now she was dead. She'd been as good as dead to Jim for a long long time. About the time she left him with that monster she had married, the one who had beat Jim senseless more times than he could count.

"Come," he called when his door buzzed. He tried to have an easy smile for Spock as he entered but he knew he didn't succeed.

"I believe that were Dr. McCoy here, he would say something along the lines of 'those are some dark thoughts you are having,'" Spock said when he stood opposite Jim.

"Yeah," Jim admitted. "I didn't set up the chessboard yet," he said unnecessarily as it was clear that Spock could see it wasn't on his desk.

"Perhaps chess is not what you require," Spock suggested, studying him thoughtfully.

"Maybe not. But I'm not willing to talk about it, if that's what you're thinking," Jim told him.

"Then perhaps you would be willing to allow me to talk," Spock suggested as he sat in his chair.

"About what, Spock? You aren't exactly known as garrulous."

"Thank you," Spock said with a nod. "I had thought to discuss the arrangements for the trip to Earth. I will deal with all the required details once those decisions have been made."

"You don't have to, Spock. Starfleet can do it. Or I can," he sighed softly.

"You are fully capable. I am fully willing," Spock said.

"Alright," Jim agreed.

"Spacestation VanHalen can arrange our transport to Lilliput IX where we will be able to obtain passage to Earth on the Starfleet freighter SS Dierdre. It is the largest ship I found heading toward Earth from this sector."

"The Dierdre," the Captain repeated, his chin cupped in his hand, his elbow on the arm of his chair. "At a maximum of warp two from Lilliput IX, it will take at least five days to get to Earth."

"Not ideal, sir. But I found no other transportation from this sector."

"What are you going to do on a freighter for those five days?" Jim asked him.

"Read science journals which have accumulated. Play chess. Correlate research data. Talk with my Captain," Spock said.

"Increase the efficiency of their warp drive?" Jim suggested lightly.

"If the opportunity presents itself."

"So what are the decisions you are waiting for me to make?" Jim asked.

"Whether or not those arrangements will be satisfactory," Spock said, studying his Captain, his friend.

"Of course they are. I thought you said you were going to the Science Labs, not researching transportation to Earth."

"I was able to accomplish both," Spock said.

"I see," Jim said with a nod.

"When we arrive on Earth, do you prefer to stay in your mother's house or in a hotel?" Spock asked.

"A hotel," Jim said, not elaborating but he was sure Spock didn't need him to. The fact that he had asked the question revealed Spock's understanding of the situation.

"I will find us suitable accommodations in the morning. How long should I reserve the rooms?"

"I don't know. A week? I have no idea how long it will take. You might want to ask Bones. And we'll have to go to San Francisco. To deal with the paperwork with Starfleet."

"Do you want to stay with Admiral Pike while we are there?" Spock asked.

"He didn't invite me. It would be presumptuous for me to assume," Jim said.

"I apologize. He did invite us, after you left the conference room. He indicated that if we chose to, we were welcome to stay with him."

"Oh. I'd prefer that. You won't mind, will you?"

"Not in the least. Once we are ready to return, I will find appropriate transport back to Enterprise," Spock assured him.

"Thanks," Jim said with a nod. "Tell me about your mother."

Spock was thoughtfully silent for a few minutes, considering his words. "She was …extraordinary. In many ways. It was not easy for her to live on Vulcan. The climate was challenging, the societal norms were different, even the language was not hers. But the love she had for my father made it all worthwhile to her."

"And her love for you," Jim added.

"Yes. I never doubted that she loved me. She was much more affectionate than was permitted but she was never ashamed of her feelings. I was never as comfortable with her open displays of affection as she would have liked. But I knew without any doubt that she loved me and was proud of me."

"The holographs I've seen of her are very beautiful," Jim said quietly.

"She was beautiful," Spock agreed. "And she radiated kindness. She loved roses and Sarek made sure her garden was well tended. She couldn't always care for it herself, the heat of Vulcan keeping her indoors many of the hours of the day. But she would collect any water that she could to use it to nourish her roses."

"I'm sorry that you lost her, Spock," Jim said softly.

"I am as well, Jim. But there is no point in wishing for what cannot be," Spock said, shaking his head.

"Except I can't seem to stop myself," Jim admitted.

"I believe that is a natural reaction to a death," Spock suggested.

"Probably. It sounds like our mothers were exact opposites. My mother didn't like me, much less love me."

"I am sorry. And you know that her assessment of you was incorrect," Spock said, content to wait until Jim was ready to continue.

"I'm learning that. One day I hope to fully believe it. It's getting easier now that I don't seem to fuck up every single thing I touch," Jim said with a hard laugh.

"I do not believe that you ruined every situation you encountered."

"There was a time," Jim said with a shrug. "What Chris ever saw in me is beyond me."

"Your potential, your spirit, and your determination."

"I guess so."

"And his assessment was correct, Jim. That is why you are the finest Starfleet captain."

"Thank you, Spock," Jim said sincerely. "I appreciate that. I know there are those who are still waiting for me to fall flat on my face. I have no plans to give them the chance to say 'I told you so.'"

"They will never be afforded that opportunity," Spock assured him. "No other captain could have convinced the Strantrers to allow us to mine their dilithium deposits."

"That was mostly luck," Jim said. "They shouldn't have challenged me to blackjack."

"How could they have known you had honed your card skills at the Academy by defeating every cadet there?"

"Not every cadet," Jim laughed. "I had to get beer money somewhere."

"Yes," Spock had to agree. "Did you win a sizeable amount for finally defeating the Kobayashi Maru?"

"No. No one would take me up on it. Not even Bones. He was sure I would never beat it," Jim said with a shrug. "It really should be winnable."

"We have had this discussion many times, Captain. You will not change my mind on the topic."

Jim laughed at him and shook his head. "Fine. When I leave Enterprise, I'm going to teach at the Academy and I'm going to make it possible to win."

"I wish you luck in that," Spock said. If a Human had said it, it would have been accompanied by a smirk. But Spock didn't smirk. Ever. "It would be easier for you to obtain a teaching position there if you had actually graduated."

"Well, I was a little busy. Saving Earth and all," Jim reminded him with another laugh. "Maybe Chris will let me graduate while we're there. What do you think?"

"Will you require pomp and circumstance?" Spock asked.

"The song or the arrangements?" Jim laughed.


"Nay. If he'll just graduate me, that'll be fine. Maybe he can graduate Bones too. In abstentia."

"Does Dr. McCoy have any opinion concerning that?" Spock asked.

"No idea. I'm sure he blames me for the fact that he never graduated," Jim said with a shrug.

"If he still holds a grudge, he has never mentioned it," Spock said.

"He only would if he needed it for leverage," Jim agreed. "I'm a little surprised he isn't coming to Earth."

"I know that you would prefer that he accompany you," Spock said.

"That's not true, Spock. Not at all. I'm very glad you are coming with me. I meant it surprises me that he isn't coming as well, not instead of you."

"You would not prefer his company to mine?" Spock asked in open curiosity.

"God no. What would make you think I would?"

"You are often more comfortable around him," Spock pointed out.

"No I'm not," Jim said, shaking his head. "My friendship with him is different. It's not better or closer. It's just different."

"I see," Spock said, considering Jim's words.

"I'm sorry if you thought I wanted him to come instead," Jim said.

Spock nodded to accept his words, unsure exactly how to respond. It warmed him more than he was willing to admit to even himself that Jim would say that to him. He could hardly imagine what it would be like if Jim went to Earth without him by his side. He had become so accustom to being with Jim that he knew if Jim left him, he would be completely at loose ends. Not that he would ever be able to tell anyone that. Not even Jim.

They spent the next 45 minutes discussing ship's business, including duty rotations for the time the ship would be in Spacedock. They also discussed the content of the message Jim sent to all the members of their crew, finally finding the right balance between stoicism and sadness.

"I'm not lying to them, am I?" Jim asked before he hit send.

"No. You are saddened to inform them. Those who do not already know will be saddened for you. And sometimes human convention must be followed."

"Yeah," Jim agreed, hitting send to dispatch the message. The one to Admiral Pike had already been sent, including an acceptance to his invitation to stay at his house while they were in San Francisco. "I'm sorry," Jim said when he yawned behind his hand.

"It is late. I will leave you now," Spock said as he stood.

"Thank you for everything, Spock," Jim said, looking up at him.

"No thanks are necessary, Jim. Good night." With that, Spock left, leaving Jim's quarters way too quiet and way too empty.

"Bones," Jim said into his intercom.

"What the hell do you want?" Bones groused at him. Jim knew he hadn't woken him and the tone was all for show.

"Can I sleep with you?"



"You are a goddamn starship captain. You are too old to need to sleep with me," Bones said gruffly.

"Then come sleep with me," Jim requested.

"Fine. I'll be there in five minutes."

"I love you. You know that, right?"

"Shut up and go to sleep," Bones said, terminating their conversation.

Jim changed into pajamas, getting the extra pillow out of his closet. He was again glad that the Captain's bed was larger than standard issue, making it big enough to accommodate them both, something they had discovered shortly after Jim had officially become Captain and had fallen ill with a fever that most people would have recovered from within 24 hours. Not Jim Kirk – he nearly died twice and most probably would have if Bones hadn't slept with him for the week he was sick.

He was sitting up against his headboard, reviewing reports when Bones entered in his robe and slippers, a scowl on his face. "Don't look at me like that."

"It's what you deserve," Bones told him, taking off his robe. "If you would just tell Spock, you'd have him in your bed every night."

"I don't think you are right about that," Jim said, watching Bones climb into bed next to him. "Did I interrupt anything?"

"A good night's sleep," Bones told him.

"You weren't asleep. Don't give me that BS."

"I would have been. But no. Intrepid Captain Kirk, savior of the Earth, can't sleep by himself."

"Why do I love you when you make fun of me?" Jim asked with a pout.

"You love me because I'll tell you the truth. Who else will?"


"Yeah. Well. He's not in your bed, is he?" Bones asked, rolling on his side, his back to Jim.

"No. I don't think he ever will be."

"And I'm telling you you are wrong. He loves you. More than I do," Bones claimed.

"Nobody loves me more than you do," Jim laughed.

"I cannot fathom why that is."

"Because. And I don't want to have sex with you."

"Thank god. Try it and you'll be unconscious the rest of your life. And beyond that."

"You want me. You just don't want to admit it," Jim teased.

"I want you like I want Saharan sand fever," Bones retorted.

"I had that once. It's not nearly as bad as everyone thinks," Jim laughed.

"You have not. Shut up so I can go to sleep."

"Good night. And thanks," Jim said, one hand on Bones' shoulder.

"Anytime, Jim. You know that," Bones replied softly.

Jim smiled at the words before returning to the reports that were always waiting for his review and approval and submission. Lord but there were a lot of paperwork required to run a starship. Forty five minutes after Bones arrived, Jim decided he could not stay awake to review one more report. After requesting that the lights be turned down, he stretched out next to Bones, listening to the comforting sounds of his friend sleeping. It had been months since he had needed Bones' company and he wished it was no longer necessary. But truth be told there were still demons that lurked in his closet and he had sense enough to admit he could not control them on his own. He didn't know how many of his crew knew that Bones occasionally slept with him but he figured the ones who did know thought that they slept together in every sense of the word. That was fine with him. Better they thought they were having sex than knowing the truth.