so many years, the buzz of his door trigged some kind of
hard-wired sailor's reflex. Kirk sat bolt up in bed and
his knuckles once past his eyes. "Come." He triggered the
at the same time as he spoke. One look at Spock's
face in the doorway, and all ideas of sleep fell
leapt from bed. "What's wrong?"
"Amanda is dead."
"I'm sorry," Kirk said. He met Spock halfway across the
room. "When did the notification come through?"
"There was no transmission sent."
Oh. If Spock felt the deaths of strangers on the Intrepid so
intensely, how much worse must this death be?
"I'm sorry," Kirk repeated. He reached for Spock's arm, but slid his
hand down to bare skin and the most sensitive telepathic receptors of
the hand instead. He gripped the hand and held it--hard. "Do
want to talk?"
"No, Captain." Spock swallowed. "I came only to
request a leave."
"Of course. That's a given. We can be at Vulcan in
less than a day."
"Unnecessary. The leave I require is for almost a
week. It would be imprudent to detain the Enterprise for this
period of time. There is a...ritual to be completed that will take four
days in and of itself; I must complete it alone. I can take a
"No." Kirk's voice was firm: the sound of command.
Vulcan or not, Spock's surprise was plain. He raised an
eyebrow in query.
"No." Kirk's voice was softer this time. He let go the hand
gripped Spock's shoulders instead. He looked up and straight
the depths of those eyes. "Your life, your
know Vulcan and you know your friends; you make your choice. But know
this: as long as I live, there is nothing that you must do
Nothing." Kirk held on for another two seconds.
Three. Four. Finally, he broke away.
Jim heard the unspoken words. He turned to his
"Helm. Change course to Vulcan, Warp factor six.
know when we're in range."
"Thank you, Jim." Spock turned for the door.
"Spock...are you sure you don't want to--?" Kirk gestured to a chair.
Spock shook his head. "No. I am not like
My needs are different...but I would be remiss if I did not thank you
for the offer."
"You do, my friend. Every day. Good night,
Spock. You know where to find me if you change your mind."
"I do," Spock said. "Good night, Jim."
The door closed. Jim signaled the lights off and settled back
down in bed.