Story title: The Denial Phase

Summary: Chris is dead. Jim saw what happened. He was there. Yet, some days he has to keep repeating this over and over again to accept the unpleasant truth. Fortunately, he has a friend - a Spock to help him get through it.

This story is dedicated to anybody who has ever lost someone and had a really hard time accepting it to the point that every couple of minutes you had to remind yourself of the fact.

So I have three other stories that I should really be working on, but I recently lost someone that mattered to me in ways that nobody else really understood and this is the story that wanted to come out. This is based on something I have been doing a lot in the last few days and I thought if I write about it in fictionalized form, it will help me get through it. This has to be more productive than crying right?

Rated T for language

This is supposed to be a Gen fic. Although, there is background S/U in the sense that it is acknowledged. However, if you watched the second movie and thought Jim and Spock were completely in love with each other (or if you're almost positive K/S/U is now canon) you're going to see pre-slash. (I was one of those people.) If you didn't see it that way then this is just a friendship fic. Think of this as a Rorschach test. Honestly, if Jim and Spock are not making out, it's hard to tell, especially as they are played by Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. Those two guys have elevated being ambiguous and confusing to an art form.

Disclaimer: If I owned Star Trek, Pike would not be dead in the first place.

Christopher Pike is dead. The guy who saw potential in a drunken fuck up who liked to get in bar fights is gone. The guy who believed in Jim when no one else did is no longer there. The guy who saved his career when he completely fucked up due to his own hubris and his feelings for his first officer had his ashes scattered in the San Francisco Bay three days before Jim woke up from his own not-a-death. The man Jim saw as his real father is no longer among the breathing. No matter how Jim phrased this unpleasant truth, Chris is still dead.

Jim knows that fact. He was fucking there. Seriously, who in their right mind came up with that fucking idiotic rule about gathering all of the senior leadership in a room together facing an exterior wall after some major terrorist-like incident at a Starfleet facility? That's just asking whoever was responsible for the catastrophe to blow everyone else up. Really, sometimes Jim thinks that he works for morons and that Chris is the only Admiral with any common sense whatsoever. Fuck, he means was the only Admiral with any common sense in Starfleet. Chris is dead.

Therein lies his problem. It's already been a month and sometimes Jim forgets that his mentor is no longer among the living. It feels like every few minutes he needs to repeat that mantra to himself. After he woke up from his not-a-death, he had to remind himself that Chris would not be there because he was gone. He had to remind himself that Chris would not be at his little welcome home party. Today when he passed Chris's office- he means former office-he had to remind himself that Chris would not be there because Chris is dead. It seems like everywhere Jim went in the Starfleet complex, he was haunted by the metaphorical ghost of Christopher Pike. He will never go anywhere near the part of the building where Chris took his last breath. He just couldn't.

Jim blames himself for Admiral Pike dying in the first place. If he hadn't done what he did with Spock and the volcano, then he would not have lost his ship and Chris would not have been in that room when a certain megalomaniac from the past decided to open fire. (Again, what type of idiot decides to have a top-secret conference with lots of the higher-ups of Starfleet in an exterior room with windows?) Because of his stupidity, Chris is dead and that guilt led him to do several stupid things that led to his not-a-death (and his entire crew almost dying).

Of course, if he had done that, then Spock wouldn't be here. Jim is pretty sure that the pain he is experiencing now regarding Chris's death would be 10,000 times worse if it were Spock, especially if the Vulcan died because Jim did not do everything possible to prevent it. Chris was a lot of things to Jim, from father figure to the guy who smacked him upside the head (figuratively) when Jim was being a complete ass hole. He was the first person who really saw Jim. However, Spock is- someone that means something to Jim that he cannot put into words. There are no words in standard to describe that relationship. Friend is a gross under simplification. Bones is a friend but Spock is his Spock. Lover doesn't quite work because unfortunately Spock is dating the hottest woman in Starfleet. To be honest, Jim has a more intimate relationship with Spock than anyone he's actually slept with. He would say that he sees Spock as a brother but that description doesn't quite fit either, because he's probably closer to Spock than to Sam. Although, that may be because Sam is an ass and Spock actually visited him in the hospital when Sam didn't even bother to call.

After waking up from his not-a-death, Spock was the one in his room every day sneaking in good food and playing chess with him. In the week that he's been out of the hospital, Jim has been crashing in Spock's guest room because Bones would not let him live alone right now and Spock volunteered. When Jim wakes up in the middle of the night to nightmares of Chris dying, Spock dying, the crew dying, or those last few moments in the warp core, Spock is there with his mother's favorite nightmare remedy of apricot cookies. Spock doesn't push Jim for answers or to even talk about the warp core incident, he just stays there with Jim until he falls asleep again.

Really, there's no way to define his relationship with Spock, so Jim is not even going to try. It is what it is. He should ask Chris- he means he would ask Chris about it, but Chris isn't there anymore.

Perfect, there it is again. He forgets. It seems like every morning Jim has to repeat the phrase 'Chris is dead' before getting out of bed in the morning. Yet, despite how illogical it is, Jim has this ridiculous hope that maybe he will see Chris waiting in line for the bad coffee at Starfleet headquarters.

When he has to go for his mandatory Starfleet psych evaluation, he doesn't say a word about this. He doesn't talk about the guilt or his trouble remembering that Chris is actually dead. He doesn't talk about the nightmares or his trouble sleeping. He doesn't mention the fact he's angry that he missed his chance to say goodbye because he was still kind of dead himself at the time of the memorial service. Basically, Jim lies through his teeth during the psych evaluation. It wasn't the first time. With a life like his, Jim has gotten very good at lying to psychologists (as long as they're not telepathic). Because he was good at lying to psychologists, he was cleared for light duty, i.e., sitting through meetings where he gets yelled at a lot and signing off on lots of papers regarding the rebuild of his precious baby. This wasn't that different than what he has already been going through, considering that Starfleet crashed his hospital room the first day to hear his side of the story, although now he has his work PADD back.

That morning when he finds out that Enterprise is still his baby and he is a Captain again, his first instinct is to call Chris. He actually has the communicator in hand before he tells himself again that Chris is dead. He calls Bones instead but it's just not the same (Spock was with him at the time, so there was no need to tell him). He misses his father figure immensely. It hurts because Jim is just not sure Chris realized what he really meant to him. No one really believed in him before Chris. Jim knew that his mom loved him, but she was too busy being a single mom to two boys who did dumb things on a regular basis to be his cheerleader. Chris believed in him and that made Jim believe in himself.

They put Jim and Spock in an office down the hall from the one that Chris used to occupy. Jim takes the long way to the men's room just so he does not have to pass it. Jim spends the rest of the day digging out of his email box. He has over 2000 unread messages (even after Spock took him off of every single mailing list he was on) because everyone felt that medical leave meant no work whatsoever, and therefore he hasn't touched his work email for almost a month. Jim now wonders if it was because no one wanted him to see the various email notices and obituaries regarding the dead (Spock sent out all the appropriate condolence letters regarding the Enterprise crew members that did not survive during his incapacitation). Maybe it was just one obituary in particular that no one wanted him to see. His hands started shaking as he read the words on the screen. Jim just lost it when he read that Chris was survived by his mother, step-sister, and 'the son of his heart' Jim.

Jim's first instinct was to get to the men's room as quickly as possible because he wasn't going to start crying with his oh so perfect Vulcan first officer sitting at the desk across from him. This meant that he took the short way and therefore he ended up in Chris's former office instead. The personal effects were gone but it still looked like the room where Chris told him that he was losing his ship. When he saw the empty chair behind the desk, the tears broke free as he fell into the chair that Chris will never sit in again.

"I would ask if you were functioning optimally, but I have found that tears usually mean that is not the case," Jim heard Spock say from the doorway.

"I'm fine," Jim said wiping the tears from his eyes with his fingers.

"I believe in this case those words mean that you are functioning as optimally as possible after the loss of someone whom you cared about deeply," Spock said, moving to his side.

"'Optimally' is not exactly the word I would use. Maybe I'm not ready to be back here. This morning when I found out that I get to keep our baby, my first instinct was to call him. It's been over a month and a part of my brain just hasn't accepted that he's dead. It's like every morning I have to tell myself that he's gone for me to believe it for just a little while. How illogical is that?" Jim asked Spock.

"It is not illogical at all. According to the articles I have read on the human grieving process, denial is usually the first stage and it may last weeks or even months. Since my mother's death I have been tempted to contact her on six different occasions to tell her major news, only to remember that such a thing is no longer possible." If it were anyone else, Jim probably would have hugged him, but he settled for a pat on the back. Jim did not want to give Spock more physical contact than what the Vulcan was comfortable with.

"It's good to know you're as normal as the rest of us. I'm familiar with the seven stages and I think I went through the anger phase first. When the fuck am I ever going to make it to acceptance? When did you get there?" Jim asked.

"Admiral Pike was a remarkable man," Spock said, not answering his question. Jim wondered if that was his way of saying that he hasn't got to that stage yet.

"Yes he was. He was one of the few that saw pass my genius level repeat offender exterior. He believed in me when no one else did. His last real act was saving my career after my little fuck up and that's probably why..." Jim stops there, not able to continue. To his shock he feels Spock's hand wrapped around his.

"Guilt is supposedly the fourth stage of grief and you have no reason to feel guilty. I believe it was you yourself who told me I should not feel guilty for my mother's death and that the only one responsible was Nero. The only ones responsible for Admiral Pike's death are Admiral Marcus and Khan," Spock said, trying to soothe him. Jim almost wondered if the first part of that comment was a joke.

"You know I am horrible at following my own advice," Jim quipped.

"I am aware. Maybe it would be more advantageous for you to focus on positive retentions. You may find it pleasing that after you left the room after being informed that you would be losing Enterprise, the Admiral yelled at me for 15.4 minutes for not informing you that I planned to submit a completely accurate report and for not appreciating your efforts." That made Jim smile.

"He actually yelled at you?" Jim asked.

"Cursing was involved." Jim couldn't help but laugh.

"Chris may have yelled at me too in a very Pike way when he found me in a nearby bar afterwards," he told Spock. "Hey, did I ever tell you how he convinced me to join Starfleet in the first place?"

"I have not heard your account of those events," Spock said softly as their fingers stayed entwined.

Chris was dead, but Spock was not (and thankfully, neither was he anymore). As he recounted the first time he met Chris, he felt that maybe someday he would be able to get through the day without reminding himself of the unpleasant fact that Chris was no longer there. Maybe the day would come when he could think about Chris without his eyes becoming moist (he's only crying a little right now). Jim realized all too well that without Chris he wouldn't be who he was now. He needed to hold onto those good thoughts. Jim knew that day was not today, but eventually it would come. With Spock by his side, Jim felt that day might come sooner rather than later.

The end

Please let me know what you think of my little therapy project. I feel better now if nothing else.