She sits stiffly at the end of the couch, awaiting his return. It's been a long and difficult day – and, given the circumstances, surely every crewman aboard has to have been reminded -

The door whooshes open, and closed, admitting a brief surge of light. In the dimness after, she closes her eyes, hoping to hear a footfall, the brush of fabric, a breath. But there is only silence.

He sits slowly at the end of the couch - at the end of another long and difficult day - and nothing breaks the silence.

She opens her eyes. He says nothing. Even his profile, his brows, his lips, say nothing: They are unrevealing as he sits in silence.

But what is silence, after all?

Before, Spock was silent.

He went calmly about his day.

He paced with gentle noiselessness, efficient and firm. Each stride carried him forward with a serene and confident soundlessness, as though he wished to leave the world in peace with his passing. He would slip into a chair to eat at an instructors' table, and listen as the others – over the rattle of dishes and clanging of flatware - chatted about their students, their work, their families, their lives; then he would stroll with them back to the Lecture Halls, his head bowed a little, to catch their words above footsteps and coat sleeves and wind or rain.

He would stand with quiet dignity.

In the Lecture Hall, he would wait, motionless, while his students clattered and rustled and bumped into their seats, and dropped their book-bags with solid thumps on the floor, their chairs creaking as they settled themselves. Even there, they would greet one another and make a comment or two (but in a respectful whisper) before the absolute silence at the front of the hall was borne upon their collective consciousness, and their heads would turn one-by-one, as they stilled to listen…

Wherever he was – whatever the situation - Spock would speak in a voice no louder than it needed to be to be heard thoroughly and well by those who needed to hear, and he would say as few words as were necessary to convey his meaning.

Occasionally - as he said his few words - his tone would be light.

And in his apartment, or in his office – when it was just the two of them – they would often sit together in comfortable silence.

Before, he was silent; so this should be nothing new.

But after…

After, his silence is extreme – even for him, an anomaly. His silence is a black hole.

The turbolift deposits him on the Bridge; and she closes her eyes, sometimes, to see if she can hear… anything… as she waits for him for him to take his place, or cross behind her. Every sense she has is attuned to this man, yet there is only silence… A tiny current of air, carrying a hint of warmth, is all that tells her that he has passed.

On duty, he treads with deliberate noiselessness - purposeful and grim - going about his work with determined efficiency. The orders he gives are brief – His attention, observing, is often enough. For the rest, he moves through the ship with self-effacing soundlessness, attracting no more notice than that demanded by his presence alone.

He eats in the Officers' Mess, away from the chattering curious crew; then slips out, again, as silently as he came.

He stands with quiet dignity.

On the Bridge, he does not hesitate to speak: He is a scientist, and must impart what he knows, or has learned. But he no longer offers those words as freely as he did; he often waits for the Captain to request them. Asked a question, he answers – always answers – but only that, nothing more. His voice is low, deep.

But here, now, in his quarters, he says nothing.

Another long and difficult day - One of too many.

(Surely, she thinks, he had to have been reminded…)

They sit together in silence.

There are so many things she wants to say – Things she wants to ask him, to draw him out from within his silent shielding and to share with him his pain. There are so many things she wants to say to him… The words jumble together in her mind, and she knows she cannot say them: Even to her, as she sorts them out, they are noisy and raucous, unnecessary and loud.

Still, Spock will not speak.

So they sit together in silence.

(She's sure he must be remembering…)

He is sitting in his usual spot, at the end of the couch, in his usual upright way; and she sits stiffly at the other end, wondering what she can say – whether she'll ever find anything worthy, anything at all. After another long moment, she turns her body toward him 'til she sits as she usually does - and looks at him: Sees his profile, each black eyelash, his unmoving lips.

She starts to speak, and hesitates – a long, long pause. Slowly, silently, his head turns.

His eyes meet hers.

Spock is silent.

She gazes at him, and in his silence, she hears echoes. They flutter, and die, unable to escape the crushing well of gravity.

They sit together in a silence grown brittle; until Nyota, afraid that Spock will shatter – or that she will – reaches out and breaks it.