Pounding his fist to the ground he lifted his head towards the sky. The wail that escaped his mouth bordered on animalistic and he didn't care about the rain pelting his face, didn't care about the blood running over his hands mixing with dirt so black he felt like it would swallow him whole. His breath came in ragged gulps, tearing out of his throat and god he couldn't even move

The man spread out on his back in front of him stared at nothing, eyes glassy. The red running from his side drenched his shredded shirt and he grew paler with each passing second, his clammy fingers freezing in the midst of the downpour and all Kirk could think as they were beamed up was that it was too late it was far too late.


"Not now Pike, please not right now. Just let me get piss drunk and stumble back onto the Enterprise and sleep off my hangover please don't try and make me feel better about loosing my first officer, about loosing my best friend." Gripping Kirk's shoulder, Pike shook his head. "I'm not going to tell you it gets better. But you know what Starfleet has done." Horrified eyes met sorrowful ones and Jim had to resist the urge to smash his glass into the bar. "They've already reassigned someone to take James's place I'm sorry Jim I'm so sorry-"

Carding his fingers through his hair, he let out a muffled sob. "They can't just replace him like that we need time. Besides don't I just assign my own First Officer? They can't give me one that isn't allowed!"

"I wish that was the case, they think your crew is too emotionally compromised and they need people out there because space is a mess right now. They think adding someone new to the equation might fix it I told them it wouldn't but they don't listen to me." Pike spat out, draining his glass and motioning for another.

He couldn't just force another First Officer on the crew, he couldn't. Uhura was a mess (against all Starfleet regulation they'd had a relationship because Kirk couldn't really give a damn if two members of his crew loved each other) Sulu and Chekov hadn't been sleeping and Bones had nearly drunk himself into oblivion. Scotty hadn't left engineering in days and Jim was pretty sure he hadn't slept. He'd tried to see everyone in the ship yesterday, tried to talk to them and comfort them but it was hard because he would turn to his right and expect James to be there and he wasn't, not anymore.

And of course there were the nightmares, waking up in cold sweat because he swore he could see blood running down the walls and hear screams in the dark. So he didn't sleep. He stayed awake running purely on caffeine to get through mountains of paperwork.

Sometimes he just looked at the stars.

"They're transferring him tomorrow." Burrowing into his hands Kirk groaned. "Do you at least know who it is." Pike's silence was all the answer he needed, so throwing the drink back one more time, Jim threw some money out on the table before stretching his arms above his head, hearing the joints in his back pop all the way up his spine. "I'll see you later Pike." Said Admiral chose not to comment on the circles under his eyes and the slouching drag in his step. He knew it would get easier, it always did in time, but he hated seeing the boy he thought of as a son with dulled eyes and ashy skin. Just breath Jimmy, if you keep breathing you'll get through this.

Clapping his hands together to get everyone attention, Jim smiled wanly at the people who turned to face him. He figured the Alpha Shift should find out first, so here he was, telling people exactly what they didn't want to hear. "So you know Starfleet is running low on ships lately, and there's more and more that needs to be done out in space." Lacing his fingers together, he leaned back and forth on his heels. "They've assigned us a new First Officer."

In an instant the Bridge was alight with angry voices.

"Don't you assign not them-"

"We wont even know them-"

"It's only been a week-"

"They can't do this-"

Holding his hand up to stop them he rubbed his eyes. He was exhausted. He hated this so much. "Guys I like this about as much as you do but I cant do anything. We're already on the radar because I'm the youngest Captain, you guys are the youngest crew, and they want an excuse to split us up and I can't let that happen. The new guy is coming today so please be nice-"

As if on cue the doors whooshed open, revealing a tall, strait-backed Vulcan with a perfectly pressed shirt and smooth hair and more then anything Jim wished James was back, James with his easy laugh and always-wrong clothes.

Peering around, Jim's new First Officer inclined his head slightly, stepping fully onto the bridge. "Hello. I believe I have been assigned as your new First Officer I-"

"Holy shit!" Kirk swore in excitement, brushing off the curious looks from the crew and the slightly offended look of the Vulcan in the blue shirt. "You're Spock oh my god please tell me you remember me? Come on we ran around this ship for like 2 years you have to." For a few seconds Kirk forgot about why Spock was there all he knew was that his old friend was here.

"I do believe we have met before, and as you put it " ran around this ship". We have not however, been in contact in 17 years, and I was not aware you would remember me."

Quirking his mouth up in a half smile, Jim thought about hugging him or clapping on the shoulder but remembering what happened last time he did that he nixed that idea. "Well, guys this is Spock, new First Officer. I know James-" once again his words caught in his throat but the soft smiles in the room let him know he got the point across. "Anyway, we're off to some new planet that we've just come in contact with, Starfleet wants us to do the diplomatic stuff. Kind of a trial run ya know."

Making his way over to the chair, he nodded at Spock. "Try and introduce yourself to everyone, get to know them and what they do. It will make running this ship easier."

"Alright Sulu, punch it."


"I miss James." Swinging his feet back and forth Jim ignored Bones when he tried to get him off the biobed. "I mean Spock's great, he's efficient and always on time and he know how to run this ship but I'm afraid he wont get along with people. They're so used to J- they're so used to a First Officer with a carefree attitude and I don't know I just want this ship to run smoothly we still have a couple weeks until we get to that new planet, even at warp, and I-"

Slapping a hand over his friend's mouth, Bones raised an eyebrow at him. "You're rambling. Shut up. People like the hobgoblin. Think he's a bit stiff but he's fine. And if they don't like him they'll get used to him. Now get out of the sick bay there are actually people here I need to treat." He mumbled gruffly, pushing Jim roughly off the bed. "Come on get out." Shooting Bones one last grin, Jim wandered out.

Doing his routine checks on engineering and the labs he was a bit surprised to find Spock in the biolab. He knew they were off shift but he never suspected the Vulcan liked science. He could see the ensigns there had already taken a shine to him, so he just watched from the door for a while before heading back to his quarters.

"Lights, 10 percent." He knew he should sleep. He had a few hours and he hadn't gotten a lot of rest the past few days. Actually I don't think I've actually slept in a week. Huh.

Forcing his eyes closed, they immediately snapped back open at the images playing behind his lids. "Damn it" Was it always going to be like this? Was he always going to be reminded that he was too slow, that he couldn't save his friend? If he hadn't been hung up by the Ramions, if only he'd gotten away a few moment earlier he could have stopped it. Stop thinking about it. Count sheep or something.

It was hard to count sheep when they all had dirt-black eyes and blood dripping from their wool.


"Captain have you been sleeping? I have noted that 5 days out of the week you stay here late and you are here before everyone else. I feel this may impact that way you work and I suggest taking a shift off so you can rest before we get to Tasni." Pressing his hand to his forehead, Kirk took a deep breath. "Thank you for your concern Spock, but I am fine."


"Commander! I'm telling you I am fine so please don't argue with me. I've had a shit ton of paperwork lately seeing my First Officer was killed last week and I-" running his fingers through his already messy hair Jim groaned. "Just don't tell me to sleep ok? I can do just fine running on caffeine."

"Actually sir running on purely caffeine can damage your-"

"Spock" Nodding respectfully, the Vulcan returned to his station and Jim got up because he just couldn't sit still anymore. "So Uhura how are we coming." They both knew the weight behind this statement and it was a testimony to her strength that she didn't burst into tears. (Not that she ever would on the bridge she was far too strong for that) "I'm surviving sir." Just barely. "Try and get some more sleep okay commander." Glancing at him sharply, she opened her mouth to rebuke him angrily but he held his hand up. "I'm serious we need to be in tip top shape."

"The same could be said for you Captain"

Winking cheerfully, he smirked at her. "I'm always in tip top shape." Coughing uncomftorbly under her skeptical (and god damn was that pity) gaze, he slipped over to Chekov. "So what do you have for me Pavel?" he let the Russian babble wash over him in waves, effectively distracting him from feeling anything in particular.


"Sir? Captain?" blinking rapidly, Kirk tilted his head back to see who was talking to him and started in shock. He let the PADD slide out of his hands and he stood shakily from where he'd fallen asleep in the hallway. "James?" The First Commander stepped backwards, a look of unease falling over his face. "Captain I-"

But Kirk had already surged forward and wrapped himself around the man, blubbering inconsistently about god how much he missed him and he was so sorry so sorry and Jim just clung to him, swearing he wouldn't let go. "Captain?" Pulling back, maybe to take in the fact that James wasn't dead he jolted when he saw he was in fact, hugging Spock. Not James, but Spock. "I believe that you seem to be suffering hallucinations, which usually occur after being consistently for more then 72 hours." His First Officer commented softly, disentangling himself from a very flustered Jim. "Shit Spock I'm sorry I know about the touch telepathy thing." If Vulcans could look unsettled, that was the only thing that could possibly describe the look on Spock's face. "You really need to sleep Captain." His First Officer noted lightly, his eyes dark unreadable.

"Don't you get it? I cant sleep, not without the nightmares hitting me from every direction, bombarding me with images of people I care about dying, making me watch James die over and over, because I'm always too late I cant never get there fast enough I can never stop it, so no I cant sleep and no I wont sleep! Nothing could possibly make me want to lay in my room and-"

"I could help." Spock jutted in, twisting his hands behind his back. "I could try and meld with you, perhaps keep the nightmares at bay for time being." Mouth dropping open, Jim fixed the Vulcan with and incredulous look, shifting back and forth nervously. "I wouldn't want to, I mean impose-"

"You would not be imposing." Spock stated softly. Flustered and red, Jim just dropped his eyes to the ground. "My room or yours?" trying not to choke on how suggestive that sounded, Kirk shrugged. "Yours I guess."

So that's how they found themselves perched awkwardly on Spock's, bed, Jim fiddling with his shirt looking at anything but the obviously uncomftorble man next to him. "I am going to attempt a mind meld now, please do not be alarmed."

Refusing to flinch as the long, spindly fingers pressed against his cheek, Jim felt his eyes roll back when a wave of pure contentment washed over him.

Then he was asleep but not really because he was diving through his mind, soaring past stars that blazed a million different colors against the dark sky. He was cold and hot all at once but it was so brilliantly amazing that it didn't faze him, it didn't even startle him when he felt someone else nudge him (could you nudge people with your mind?) almost as if they were snuggling against him, trying to encompassed him as a whole. Who's there?

Loneliness found him as they pulled back suddenly, and they wave of nightmares rushed back in, plaguing him with things he couldn't control, feelings he couldn't stop, and then the force was back, stroking and soothing against his angry wounds, raw and burning with the guilt of death.

'Do not worry' it whispered, 'you need not be guilty, the fault is not yours.'

He didn't want this person to see him at his lowest, didn't want to see him screaming at the sky because that was low, he'd been low and broken and no one needed to see him like that.

Tendrils of green snaked around him, pulling him from old memories into empty space, waiting to be filled with laughter and love. "Do not worry Jim, do not worry"

Lowering the two of them onto his bed, Spock did his best to situate them so his Captain could be comftorble, carefully wrapping his arm around the younger man, pulling him up onto his chest. Tracing the outline of Jim's jaw and cheek with his fingers, Spock slipped the hand around Kirk's waist under his shirt, absently rubbing circles on his hip, and was rewarded with a shudder of delight through the bond. Sleep Jim, you are safe

Slipping into a state of dreamland, Spock let his arms tighten around Jim, who shifted slightly so one hand tangled in the Vulcan's hair and the other clung tightly to his shirt. Cheek pressed to the other's chest, Kirk practically purred when somehow Spock found his hair and carded his fingers through it, pulling him up so he could rest his chin on Jim's head, fingers fluttering over the blonde's neck to keep him asleep, the simple motion sending shocks up his fingers.

Long after they had any control over their actions, Spock simply curled around the Captain, long arms trapping him in the small, safe cocoon of the First officer. Their legs tangled together, making it hard to see the end of one and the beginning of the other, both completely caught up in the feel of their skin together and the way their minds brushed together, completely perfect and irresistible.