“You two had sex.”

“What?” Jim laughed. “You’re crazy, Bones.” God, he hoped he wasn’t blushing. He didn’t dare even glance at Spock. He just chose the seat directly across from Bones and sat down, noting out of the corner of his eye that Spock sat to Jim’s right.

“I may be crazy,” Bones allowed. “But you two still had sex.”

“No, we didn’t,” Jim insisted. He glanced around the relatively quiet restaurant, relieved no one seemed to be paying attention to Bones and his proclamations.

“You’re lying.” Bones was now pointedly looking at Spock. “What about Uhura?”

“Bones.”

“Nyota and I remain friends,” Spock replied from behind his menu.

Jim thought that was a pretty good idea and lifted his own in front of his face.

“You got any more of those tracking device rocks?”

“Bones, give it a damn rest,” Jim said sharply.

“Touchy tonight, aren’t we?” Bones said with a smirk. “So, anyway, what are you going to have, Jim?”

“The Beef Bourguignon.”

“Pretty good choice. The vegetarian choices begin on page three, Spock.”

“Thank you, doctor.”

Bones lowered his own menu. “Think I’m going to have the fried chicken. I decided to go see Jo in two days. You want to come with me?”

Jim set his own menu down and reached for the glass of water that was at his seat. “Actually I’ve already got plans for the next month or so.”

“Going to see your mom?”

Jim glanced at Spock who was still carefully perusing the menu. “No. Going with Spock to New Vulcan.”

“New Vulcan? You two aren’t getting secretly married or anything, are you?”

“Bones! Jesus. No. I swear to God I’m going to strangle you.”

Bones laughed. “Kidding, Jim. You really are touchy.”

“I invited the captain to New Vulcan so that he could assist me with some projects there,” Spock said, setting his menu down.

“Projects, huh?”

“Indeed. We will be there for a duration of one month. There will be no marriage ceremonies—secret or otherwise.”

“Good to know,” Bones said with a nod. “So, are you two a—”

“Bones.”

“What? I’m just asking. We’re friends. We serve together. It would be nice to know.”

“The captain and I are exploring a new aspect of our relationship.”

A waitress appeared at their table and they all ordered.

“A new aspect, huh?”

Jim sighed. ”You’re not going to let this go, are you?”

“Probably not,” Bones acknowledged. “The two of you are too much fun to tease.”

Jim’s communicator beeped. He frowned down at it. “I have to take this. Be back.”

He rose from his seat and walked away from the table.

****

Spock’s gaze followed Jim as he headed out in the direction of the restaurant’s foyer. There was something very wrong. He could see it in the set of the captain’s shoulders.

The doctor was chattering on about something, his visit to his daughter, Spock thought, but he only half listened. He was sure he gave the appropriate answers.

But when Jim still had not returned after more than fifteen minutes and their food arrived, Spock stood.

“Doctor, I am going in search of the captain.”

“Yeah, he is taking a long time. You want me to come along?”

“Not at present,” Spock replied.

When he reached the restaurant’s foyer there was no sign of Jim so he went to the hostess. “Did you see my companion pass through here?”

“Yes, sir. He went out those doors.”

Spock turned and exited through the doors she had indicated and found himself on the sidewalk at the back of the restaurant. He caught sight of Jim immediately. He was leaning against a wall, his hands covering his eyes. Spock increased his pace to reach Jim faster.

“Jim?”

Jim did not react at first, so Spock reached for his wrists to pull his hands away from his eyes. They were wet and red, obviously from crying. Alarm shot through Spock.

“Jim?”

“There-s-there’s been an accident,” Jim whispered. “Chekov—” He thrust his communicator at Spock.

Spock glanced down at the communicator but there was nothing there. Just Jim’s communicator. Spock’s gaze rose.

“He didn’t make it.”

Spock sucked in a breath. For a moment Jim swam in front of him, moving out of focus. Spock closed his eyes, forced control. There was an ache in his side that had not been there a moment ago. But he opened his eyes and refocused on Jim. Jim would need him.

“I grieve with thee,” he said softly, reaching for Jim. He was not sure what to do other than to embrace Jim as Nyota had done for him during moments of grief. Jim sagged against him.

“How am I supposed to get through this, Spock?”

“Together we will, Jim.” Spock held him tighter. “Together as always.”

“I can’t go back in there.”

“You do not have to. I will go and inform the doctor. Wait here.” Spock placed a chaste kiss on Jim’s forehead and went back into the restaurant to break the news to Leonard.

****

“What can I do for you?”

“You don’t have to stay with me, Spock,” Jim said from where he stood by the window of his apartment, looking out at San Francisco.

Spock did not bother to respond for of course he did have to stay with Jim. And he had a feeling Jim knew it too.

“Coffee?”

“No. I think it would just sour in my stomach right now.” Jim pressed the palms of his hands against his eyes. “He was just a kid.”

“I know.” Spock went into the kitchen and brewed some tea, because he needed to do something. He was aware he was not very good at offering humans emotional comfort. He did try, but it was not something he had ever practiced. His mother had been very strong and though there were times when he thought he saw hurt in her eyes or a slip of her mask of strength, she continued to maintain the façade in front of both her husband and son. It often occurred to Spock how difficult it must have been for her with two Vulcans to subdue her emotional side.

When he came out of the kitchen with tea he saw that Jim had begun to shake. He had his arms wrapped around himself and he was trembling. Spock set the tea down and went to him, wrapping his own arms around Jim from behind and pulling him close.

“It’s unfair,” Jim whispered. “All that we went through. All that he went through and it-it ends like this.”

Spock once heard it said that death too no prisoners and he’d always thought it an odd saying. And it offered absolutely no comfort.

“He apparently did not suffer much,” Spock said softly. “It happened quickly.”

“I’ve-I’ve lost people. Lots of people. Why is this so damn hard? Why does it hurt this much?” Jim turned in his arms and buried his wet face in Spock’s neck.

“You were close to him. You spent time with his every day for years. We were all close. It is like the loss of a family member.”

“Yeah.”

“The best thing we can do is keep him in our memories and in our hearts. Yes?”

Jim nodded against him. “You’re right.” His hand twisted in Spock’s sweater. “It’s better with you here. I know I told you that you didn’t have to stay but…will you?”

“There is nowhere else I would be,” Spock assured him. “I made tea. If you would like some.”

“That sounds good.” But when Spock went to move away, Jim’s grip on his sweater tightened so Spock stayed where he was. Where he

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