After so many years, the buzz of his door trigged some kind of hard-wired sailor's reflex.  Kirk sat bolt up in bed and dragged his knuckles once past his eyes.  "Come." He triggered the lights at the same time as he spoke.   One look at Spock's drawn face in the doorway, and all ideas of sleep fell away.   He 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 you 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 shuttlecraft."

"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 and gripped Spock's shoulders instead.  He looked up and straight into the depths of those eyes.  "Your life, your decisions.  You 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 alone.  Nothing."  Kirk held on for another two seconds.  Three.  Four.  Finally, he broke away.

Spock nodded.

Jim heard the unspoken words.  He turned to his comm.  "Helm.  Change course to Vulcan, Warp factor six.  Let me 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 you.  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.