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Within Reach

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Name: S'chn T'gai Spock
Date of Birth: 2230.06
Place of Birth: Vulcan, Shi'Kahr
Rank: Commander
Position on the USS Enterprise: First Officer, Chief Science Officer
Date of decease: 2262.302
Age: 32 standard years old
Cause of decease: transporter malfunction 



Jim swallowed the huge lump in his throat, opened his eyes, and poised his stylus over the PADD. He brought it down, then stopped, his eyes stinging as he stared at the death report blankly. He could do it. He could do it, even though he wanted nothing more but to throw the goddamn PADD on the deck and stomp on it. It would be immature, childish—illogical—and he was an adult. He was the Captain.


Startled, he turned his gaze to Sulu and found him looking at him with a mix of pity and worry. Jim sat straighter in his chair and cleared his throat. "Yes, Mr. Sulu?"

"We left the asteroid belt behind, Captain. No damage to the ship. All stations report ready for warp."

Jim stared at him for a few moments before thinking that he should probably respond. "Right. Of course. Engage warp engines, Lieutenant. Warp 2."

"Aye, Captain."

Sulu turned back to his station and Jim leaned back in his chair, feeling weary and far too old. Maybe Bones had been right and he should have stayed in Sickbay. Maybe he just wasn't ready yet.

Jim looked back at his PADD, then at his stylus.

He bit his lip hard, set his jaw, and signed.

His hand did not tremble as he closed the file. He was calm and collected. There was no way in hell he was crying in front of his subordinates. No fucking way.

He looked around the bridge for something to focus his attention on. Everything—the bridge, stations and people sitting at them—looked strange and unfamiliar, like he was seeing them for the first time. Jim's gaze lingered on Chekov's curly head. "Mr. Chekov, check our course."

"Keptin, I've already done that. We’re on course. The asteroid belt didn't alter it."

"Check again, Mr. Chekov."

"Yes, Keptin, " Chekov said after a moment.

Jim drummed his fingers on the armrest of the command chair. He looked down at his PADD dumbly for a minute, then looked through his paperwork. He frowned. "Why don't I have the Gamma shift report, Mr. Sulu?" he said, his voice rough.

Sulu's back stiffened. "With all due respect, Captain, I'm only human. I couldn't exactly navigate us through the asteroid belt with one hand and write the report with the other."

"Hikaru!" Chekov whispered frantically, throwing a glance at Jim.

Tense, unnatural silence lay heavily over the bridge. It stretched out, taut and tangible.

Jim tightened his jaw, staring straight ahead. "I expect the report within an hour, First Officer."

Sulu's back stiffened even more. "Yes, Captain," he said tightly.

Jim stared at the main viewscreen, pretending not to notice the wary looks he was receiving. They treated him like a goddamn ticking bomb. He hated it, hated that tense atmosphere on his bridge, even though he knew he was the main cause of it.

He had been so proud that his bridge crew worked like a well-oiled machine, like a team. Now, not so much. Not since…

Jim closed his eyes, taking deep, calming breaths and concentrating on soft beeping sounds from the stations, trying not to think. It was almost like meditation. Not real meditation, of course, not like the one Spock—


He badly wanted a drink, but after he’d landed himself in Sickbay with alcohol poisoning, Bones took away all his booze and threatened to confine him to Sickbay for months if he touched alcohol again. Mean, stupid Bones.

But Bones wasn't stupid, was he? He'd been right all the time about transporters; he was the smartest of all of them. Jim was actually surprised that Bones hadn't told him 'I told you so.'

But he was being unfair. Spock's death was hard on Bones, too. Despite their constant bickering, they were friends—of course, not as close as Jim and Spock were— had been —

"Mr. Sulu, you have the conn," Jim croaked, rising from the command chair. Sulu's 'Yes, Captain' was almost relieved. Jim avoided looking at the science station as he made his way to the turbolift.

As the turbolift doors slid closed behind him, Jim pressed his forehead against the cool wall, breathing hard. He knew he was being a shitty captain, knew that he was emotionally compromised, but he was allowed to, damn it. He lost his best friend four days ago. Sure, he was close with Bones, too, but his friendship with Spock was something else entirely.

Maybe it sounded cliché, but Spock was his anchor in the storm, his balance, his equal. Jim didn't know how to be the Captain of the Enterprise without Spock at his side, without Spock telling him when he was illogical, stupid, childish, irrational. He would gladly give years of his life just to hear Spock citing some regulation number whatever.

He wanted Spock back. He needed him back.



* * *


The door slid shut behind him, and Jim looked around Spock's quarters. They still looked exactly the same as when he was here for a chess game five days ago. They still smelled the same. But not for long. The quarters were to be cleared for his new First Officer. Sulu probably was wondering why the hell it was taking so long to empty Spock's belongings from the room.

Jim sat down heavily on the bed and buried his face in his hands.

Sulu was his new First Officer. Doctor Kendrick was his new Chief Science Officer.

A tiny, childish part of Jim that refused to die still hoped that it was just a vivid nightmare and that if he wished hard enough, he would wake up any minute to find Spock sitting at his science station.

Maybe, if there had been a body, it would have been easier. Maybe not.

The very first day, his brain simply refused to comprehend that Spock was dead, no matter what Scotty told him. He couldn't comprehend how Spock could be dead when Spock was alive just a minute ago— Spock hailed Jim before he was beamed up. Spock was beamed up but didn't materialize on the ship. Transporter malfunction, Scotty had told him, looking sick with guilt, and Jim had badly wanted to punch him. He still did.

In his weaker moments, Jim wondered what if it were some other member of the away team—not Spock—who had been beamed up first. It was an awful thought and Jim loathed himself for it, but he was only human, damn it.

Sighing, Jim fell back on the bed and stared at the ceiling. He knew he was a wreck. He had to get a grip on himself. Spock wouldn't approve. Spock would have been disappointed in him. Spock had been able to function as a captain even when his mother—his whole planet—had died.

Spock was strong. Jim had thought he was strong, too. He was wrong.



* * *


Jim came awake with a gasp, his heart thumping in his chest and his face wet.

It was the same goddamn dream that he had been having for the past five days. He could vividly remember being in a dark room and he knew—felt—that Spock was somewhere in the darkness. Spock was saying something to him, but Jim couldn't understand what he was saying. He searched the room blindly but couldn't find him. Jim always woke up in tears when Spock's voice was gone.

Jim heaved a sigh, wiping his eyes. Fuck, he hated it. Hated what he was turning into.

He doubted he could get any sleep tonight.

"Computer, time," he muttered.

"0435," a mechanical female voice replied.

Jim dragged himself into a sitting position and thought for a moment.

"What time is it on the Vulcan colony?"

"1548," the computer replied.

"Open a direct channel to the Vulcan colony, Captain Authorization code seven-two-alpha-three-nine. Connect me to Ambassador Sortak, access code L324."


Jim got up from the bed and dropped into the chair in front of his computer terminal.

When the strikingly familiar face appeared in front of him, Jim swallowed hard.

"Jim," Ambassador Spock said. "How are you, my friend?"

Jim tried to smile, but his facial muscles didn't cooperate. "So you've heard about...?"

The Vulcan's expression turned grim. "I have. Sarek informed me."

Of course.

Jim eyed the Ambassador's face. That was how his Spock would have looked in hundred years—if he lived.

"Come to the Enterprise," he blurted out. "You were a Starfleet Officer—I'm sure you can get clearance from the DTI."


"I'm sure they'd allow you—you'd be an asset to—"


"What?" he snapped.

The Ambassador gave him a long, sad look. "I am not he, Jim, and you are not my James Kirk. It would not be the same. We both know it."

Jim just stared at him. His chest hurt."Yeah. I know. But—" Suddenly, he was pissed off. "But what the hell am I supposed to do? I don't fucking know how to— how to—I can't—"

He could barely breathe because of the lump in his throat. He covered his eyes with a hand.

"It wasn't supposed to be like this," he grated out. "He was supposed to outlive me. He was supposed to live hundreds of years. He wasn't supposed to die at fucking thirty-two."

The hush that fell over the room was so palpable that he could hear his own ragged breathing.

"I grieve with you," the Ambassador said finally, his voice full of pain.

And for the first time, Jim really thought about how old the Ambassador was, and how he had lived over a hundred years without his James Kirk.



* * *

"Get up, kid."

Groaning, Jim turned on his belly and buried his face in his pillow. "Go away, Bones."

He heard McCoy sigh heavily. "Jim, it's not healthy to spend all your free time in bed. Please, kid, get up and let's go to the mess hall, all right? You need to eat—you’ve lost at least ten pounds."

"I don't want to," Jim muttered.

The mattress dipped under McCoy's weight as he sat next to him.

"Jim, don't do this to yourself—to the ship. You love this ship more than anything, remember?"

Yes, he loved his girl, but more than anything? Jim wasn't that sure of that anymore.

"I'm not harming her, Bones. I'm still doing my job, right?"

"Yes, you're doing your job, but do you know how your depression is affecting the crew morale?"

"No, but I'm sure you'll tell me."

"Everyone is stressed and on edge. Spock's death wasn't easy on the crew, but you're making it even worse. And do you know how many crewmembers developed a transporter phobia? Forty-six percent, Jim – forty-six! We need to do something about it!"

Jim chuckled harshly. "Are you blaming them for that? I hate the goddamn thing, too. I fucking hate it."

McCoy sighed heavily. "Look, Jim...I know how hard it is—I was…was fond of him, too, but you need to let go. It's been weeks, Jim. You need to start living again. I know how important he was to you, but—"

"You don't know."

"Kid, Spock wouldn't have wanted to see you like this—"

"Spock is dead," Jim said flatly. "He doesn't care."

McCoy gritted his teeth, eyes flaring. "Goddammit, I don't know how to deal with you! You weren't this bad when Sam died on Deneva."

Jim snorted. "You know how to lift someone's mood."

"Look, Jim, I know it's hard, but— Wait. Are you wearing Spock's uniform shirt?"

Jim would have blushed if he actually gave a fuck about what someone else might think.

"It smells good," he said defiantly.

There was a short silence.

"Jim, it can't smell of anything other than laundry detergent," McCoy said very slowly, like he was talking to a small child.

Jim didn't say a word.

McCoy heaved a sigh. "I think you need to see Doctor Friske, kid."

"I don't need a fucking psychiatrist, Bones."

"Then tell me what I can do for you! It's killing me to see you like this!"

Jim thought for a few seconds.

"Just give me some time," he said tiredly. "I'll be okay. Eventually."

"Are you sure?"


"Yeah. Don't worry about me."

McCoy got up, sighing. "Fine."

"Bones?" Jim said when McCoy reached the door. His friend stopped. "You know I love you, right? I never said it, but you knew, right?"

McCoy was silent for a few moments.

"Yeah, I knew. I love you, too, kid."


* * *


Jim cursed under his breath, wiping the wetness from his face. Again. It had been a variation of same dream again. He hated these dreams and the way his heart would ache after them. They were confusing as fuck and always left him miserable and feeling like he was missing something important.

"Computer, time."

"0316, Captain."

Great. At this rate, he was going to die of exhaustion. He needed sleep. He needed something to relax him.

Jim opened his eyes. "Computer, access First Officer Spock's log. Captain Authorization code seven-two-alpha-three-nine."

Officer logs were personal, but if he remembered correctly, they could be accessed after the death of an officer.


"Transfer all the data to my PADD."

"Transferring. The transfer is complete."

Jim reached out for his PADD and opened the transferred folder. There were around six hundred files in it, and Jim opened one of the earliest ones.

A familiar voice filled the room, and Jim smiled, even though his chest hurt.

He closed his eyes and just listened to Spock's low voice retelling one of their very first missions.



* * *


Jim took to listening to Spock's log every day after his shift.

In a way, it was painful to listen, to relive everything they had gone through since the beginning of their five-year mission, but Jim couldn't make himself stop. Hearing Spock's voice let him maintain some illusion of normalcy, to keep going, to have something to look forward to.

Spock's entries were mostly about missions and his science experiments, but sometimes he talked about Jim. It was funny to hear how Spock's opinion of him changed throughout their mission.

Stardate 2258.148

...I cannot fathom how my older counterpart served under James Kirk for years. There is nothing appealing about the man: he is loud, rude, ill mannered, and highly illogical. He also has no respect for other individuals' personal space. Since the beginning of our voyage, I have been touched by the Captain 109 times. When I told him to cease, he looked at me as if he did not understand what I was speaking about, said 'Sure, Spock' and clasped my shoulder, thus contradicting himself.

I believe Starfleet Command made a mistake by giving the Federation Flagship to a cadet with no experience and no knowledge of appropriate behavior. A captain is not supposed to distract the bridge crew from their duties, going from station to station, and therefore lowering the crew efficiency by approximately six-point-eight percent. However, overall the crew's efficiency is greatly improved compared…

Well, that one kind of hurt, but it was the very beginning of their mission. Out of curiosity, Jim opened his own log.

Stardate 2258.148

...I'm so sick of his bullshit. "Captain, I believe you should not do this, you should not that! Captain, it is illogical, it is immature, blah-blah-blah!"
I'm so fucking sick of that. I know, I know—I'm supposed to record the Enterprise-related things, but Starfleet assured me that it's my personal log, so I can record whatever I want.

Seriously, I have no idea how the hell in another universe we were best friends. 'Cause in this universe, I hate his guts, and he hates mine. And it's not like I'm not trying—I am trying.

It just doesn't work!

Jim's lips curved into a crooked smile. How stupid he'd been.


...I believe today the Captain has been mocking me. He held his hands clasped behind his back, raised his eyebrows at every opportunity, mimicked my speech pattern, and did not touch anyone.
I lasted only for 6.32 hours before I confronted him.

I have to admit, my control is inadequate when it comes to James Kirk. It is distasteful that he elicits emotional response from me so easily…

Jim frowned. Huh? It was kind of funny, but he couldn't remember ever doing it.

He opened his own log again.


…Today I decided to be a good logical Captain just to see how Spock would react.
And you know how he reacted? He told me that my behavior was childish and uncalled for and to 'cease this farce at once, Captain.'

I know, right? No matter what I do, it's always wrong in Spock's book.

Jim laughed hoarsely. God, it was the worst case of miscommunication ever. They were such fools.

It sounded so weird to him, because Jim couldn't remember the last time they'd misunderstood each other. They never did. They were the best command team in the Fleet—they had been.

Jim's smile faded.

He closed his eyes and breathed in, breathed out.

* * *

"Captain, get out of there! The building is gonna blow up in— sixteen seconds!"

Jim ignored Scotty, concentrating on opening the lock. "C'mon, c'mon," he muttered under his breath, his fingers flying over the console.

"Locking on your signal, Captain!"

"Don't you dare," Jim growled. "There're people in there!"

"But Captain, you cannae make it in time—"

"That's an order, Mr. Scott."

"Beam him up, Scotty!" he heard Bones' voice. "I'm pulling rank!"

"Sorry, Captain," Scotty muttered before the world dissolved around Jim.

"What the hell, Bones?!" Jim shouted when he materialized on the transporter pad. Everyone but Bones quickly cleared out of the room.

"You tell me what the hell!" McCoy shouted back, his face red with fury. "Are you out of your mind, Captain?! You would've died if you stayed there!"

"There were people behind the door," Jim said through his teeth, clenching his fists. "And now they're dead! I could have saved them!"

Bones grabbed his shoulders and shook him hard. "No, you couldn't! There wasn't enough time! What the hell, Jim? Did you want to die?"

When he didn't say anything, McCoy's eyes widened in horror. "Goddammit, Jim," he croaked. "You really—"

"I could've saved them, Bones," Jim whispered, his throat constricting. "They would've been alive."

McCoy stared at him. "You couldn't save them, Jim. You knew it, and you still went in there. Goddammit, kid... You've always been reckless, but not like that—never like that. That was fucking suicide."

Jim set his jaw. "Is that all, Doctor?"

Bones glowered at him. "No. And I'm not talking as your CMO, I'm talking as your friend." He squeezed Jim's shoulders. "Jim, listen to me. I'm worried about you—no, I'm scared shitless of what’s happening to you. I don't recognize you anymore, kid—it's like all life was sucked out of you. I thought it would pass in a few weeks, but it's been over a month and you're only getting worse."

McCoy sighed heavily. "I don't want to do it, but if you don't get a grip on yourself soon, I’ll be forced to declare you unfit for duty, because you are emotionally compromised."

Jim stared at him for a few moments before nodding.

Returning to his quarters, Jim fell onto the bed, his breath coming in short, ragged gasps. Reaching for his PADD, he put Spock's log on and buried his face in the pillow.


* * *


...It is quite fascinating. Previous data suggests that it undergoes these eruptions approximately once every fifty years...

It was dark in the room and Jim could almost pretend Spock was sitting next to his bed, telling him about his research. He loved Spock's voice—always had. It was low, rich, smooth, and just so Spock. Even when Spock was talking about the most boring stuff ever, he managed to make it sound interesting. Intimate in the darkness, it felt like Spock's voice was warm water dripping over his body, sliding over his flesh, making him tingle.

...Assuming its eruptions have continued to occur at the same rate as those observed recently, the star will have lost approximately 20 solar masses over 10,000 years...

His eyelids became heavy, and little by little they closed, and sleep took him over.

He woke up, his cock stiff, lips tingling and heart pounding. He remembered, barely, dreaming. He remembered, more vividly, wanting.

Sighing, Jim pressed a hand against his cock, palming himself through his boxers. somewhat unstable in its luminosity...

Tugging his underwear down, he wrapped his hand around his erection and started stroking it. He was already close when he'd woken up, so it didn't take long. He was almost there, his orgasm drawing closer, and Jim squeezed his cock hard, hips lifting— has an absolute magnitude of -7.5, making it one of the most luminous stars known...

Jim's eyes popped open and he let go of his dick as if it were too hot to hold onto, sitting up so quickly that he nearly fell off the bed.

Shit, he'd just been jerking off to the sound of his best friend's voice—his dead best friend's voice.

Jim took a deep breath, trying to come up with a rational explanation.

Okay. All right. Obviously, it was just a coincidence. After all, he hadn't even noticed that the log was still on when he started jerking off. That wasn't about Spock or his voice or something. He just had woken up with a hard-on; that was all. There was nothing to freak out about. Nothing.

Shaking his head at himself, Jim was back under the covers, the room dark and quiet except for Spock's low voice. Ignoring his erection, Jim closed his eyes, simply enjoying the sound of Spock's voice.

Stardate 2259.132

Today we have discovered a natural wormhole, located near Barzan II. If my calculations are correct, it is the first and only stable wormhole to ever exist, connecting the Alpha Quadrant with the Gamma Quadrant. The wormhole appears precisely every 233 minutes, which, according to the Barzan scientists, is due to radiation build up in the accretion disk; its visible burst is very brief... 

Jim remembered the wormhole Spock was talking about. Spock had been very excited about it—excited by Spock's standards, which meant that he used the word 'fascinating' every minute or so. Yeah, Spock had been very excited and intense—like he always was when he came across something fascinating.

His cock was becoming impossible to ignore, and, sighing, Jim reached out and turned the PADD off. Settling back on the pillows, he started jacking himself off, thinking of nothing in particular. It worked, but every time he'd get close, he'd remember Spock, and he just...couldn't do it. Dammit. 

Breathing hard, Jim stared at the dark ceiling. It was official: he was sick in the head. Maybe he really needed to see Doctor Friske, after all.

Frustrated, horny, and pissed, Jim dragged himself off the bed, heading for the bathroom. A cold shower would deal with his problem. If he couldn't sleep and couldn't jerk off, at least he could do something productive and report early to the bridge.


* * *


He lasted two days without listening to the log, but after watching Spock's quarters being cleared for Sulu—Spock's all belongings packed and moved to the storage room—Jim broke down and put it on again. Yes, maybe it was unhealthy as fuck, but he needed Spock in his life and the log was the only way he could have him.

Jim was immensely relieved to find out that Spock's voice didn't turn him on. Spock's voice wasn't doing anything for him except causing a dull ache in his chest, which was a usual thing these days. He wasn't some kind of pervert. Obviously it had been just a one-time thing, just weird stuff that could happen to anyone.

He wasn't sick.



* * *

Jim woke up in tears—again—and heaved a frustrated sigh.

Goddamn dream. He was sick of them, sick of it, sick of himself. He'd never thought he would turn into such a cry-baby.

Reaching for the PADD, he skipped a few hundreds files and chose the most recent entry. He smiled when Spock's low voice filled the room.

Stardate 2262.299

… I also have made significant progress with the secondary buffer. The simulations were successful, and if the beta version proves itself in practice, I shall suggest the modification to Jim. I believe the modification will increase the safety of transporter travel by approximately seventy-six percent...

Huh? Spock was working on the transporter a few days before the accident?

"Computer, lights."

Jim listened to the recording again to make sure that his sleep-deprived mind had understood it correctly, then listened to previous entries until he found more information in an entry dated two months ago.

Stardate 2262.278

...I am working on a modification to the transporter system that should prevent loss or misinterpretation of a pattern. My intention is to create a secondary buffer that will hold the matter stream for a longer period of time than the pattern buffer in case rematerialization is impossible at the moment or if there is an error with rematerialization due to ion storms and transporter malfunctions. Taking precautions is only logical.

Jim stared at the PADD, his chest hurting. If only Spock had finished the project a little earlier, he would have been alive. If only—

But what if Spock had finished the project? He did intend to install the beta version, after all.

His heart beating in his ears, Jim jumped off the bed and quickly dressed.
Calm the fuck down, he told himself. Don't get your hopes up. 

When he reached the door, a thought struck him and his shoulders sagged. He was being pathetic. If Spock had implemented such a subroutine, Scotty would have noticed, wouldn't he?

But. But if there was even a tiny chance that Spock was alive…

Jim set his jaw. "Computer, what is Lieutenant Scott's location?"


* * *

Scotty frowned when Jim finished.

"But it should've been impossible, Captain! Inert matter can only remain in the pattern buffer for seven minutes before becoming irretrievably lost! And if a person is in the matter stream for too long, his or her pattern would degrade to the point that rematerialization is no longer possible!"

Jim sighed, rubbing his forehead. "Yeah, I know, but Spock was working on it and simulations were positive."

Scotty shook his head. "But it's against all the laws of physics!"

"Scotty, how many times you told me that but still managed to pull a miracle out of your ass?"

Scotty sighed. "Too many."

"Look, let's assume that Spock found a way to keep a pattern from degrading. If that was the case, could he install the modification without you noticing it?"

"Well… The Commander had an access to the transporter system—since he was the Chief Science Officer and all—and often tweaked things here and there. I usually never questioned it, 'cause Commander Spock was the only one who knew the ship as well as me."

Jim's throat constricted at the use of the past tense. "But didn't you check the transporter after the incident?"

Scotty rubbed the back of his neck. "Um, well…Yeah, I did, but after the malfunction, the transporter system automatically reset itself to default settings, so who knows…"

"But now, when you know what to look for, you can check what he tweaked, right?"

Scotty nodded, but he looked very dubious. "Yeah, but—"

"Do it," Jim said in a tone that would bear no argument.

* * *



Jim paced back and forth in the transporter room while he waited for Scotty's verdict. He was practically shaking with a mix of exhaustion, excitement, hope and dread.

No one was here but them. Gamma shift was quiet as usual.

It's against all the laws of physics, Jim reminded himself, preparing for the worst. He couldn't let himself hope too much.

"Holy shit," Scotty breathed.

Jim whirled to him, his heart hammering in his chest. "What?"

Scotty's gaze was glued to the screen. "You were right, Captain! There is a subroutine. I don't even know how I haven't noticed it before!"

Jim jumped to his side. "And?" he said impatiently.

Scotty frowned. "It's complicated… Looks like the Commander installed a modification that is intended to copy the matter stream from the pattern buffer to some secondary buffer if there's an error with rematerialization. It seems Mr. Spock really found a way to keep the pattern from degrading by locking the secondary buffer into a level 4 diagnostic cycle… I've never thought of something like that, but that could actually work…"

Jim's heart swelled in his chest. "You mean… he could be alive?" he managed.

Scotty bit his lip, his fingers flying over the controls. "I dunno, Captain…It might've failed. In theory, it could work…"

"But can't you check if there's a pattern in the secondary buffer?"

Scotty was frowning, his gaze still on the screen. "I'm working on it, Captain. I don't know where the secondary buffer is in the first place, so it's kinda—“ His face lit up. “Found it!"

"And? Is there a pattern?" Jim croaked.

Scotty eyed the screen for what felt like ages before grinning even wider. "Yes, there is!"

"And?" Jim said, his heart in his throat. "Is it Spock? What about degradation?"

"One moment, lad…" Scotty said, his fingers flickering over the keyboard.

He froze, and Jim felt a cold dread fill his stomach.

Scotty turned his head and beamed at him. "The pattern suffered less than 0.00002% degradation! It's the Commander, Captain!"

Jim stared at Scotty for a few moments, before turning his back to him and covering his face with his trembling hands. His heart felt like it was about to leap out of his chest, his eyes were burning, and he felt like crying and laughing all at once.

Son of a bitch. That son of a bitch.

"So we can rematerialize him with no problem?" he managed.

"Aye, Captain!"

"Hail Bones. Tell him to bring a medical team—just in case. We're rematerializing Spock in ten minutes. I'll be back soon," Jim said and almost ran towards the nearest bathroom. He needed to collect himself, or he was going to make a scene.

Gripping the sink with his hands, Jim stared at himself in the mirror, his bloodshot eyes wide open. Spock. Spock was alive. In a few minutes he was going to see him again.

Turning on a tap, he splashed his face with cold water.

Goddammit, get a grip, Kirk.

* * *

When he returned to the transporter room, Bones was already there with a few nurses. Bones seemed to sense that he was barely holding himself together and wisely didn't say anything.

Jim nodded at Scotty and turned to the transporter platform, his trembling hands clenched into fists.

He still made a scene.

The moment Spock materialized on the transporter pad, Jim was at his side, hugging the hell out of him, nuzzling his ear and neck, pulling him impossibly tighter against him. Spock was alive, he was fucking alive—warm, breathing, and—

"Goddammit, kid, quit doing an octopus impression! I need to take readings!"

Jim clung to Spock tighter, refusing to let go. Screw Bones, screw the medics, screw Scotty witnessing all of that. Spock was back, Spock was alive, and that was all that mattered.

"Jim, what is the matter?" Spock said.

Frowning, Jim pulled away from Spock and stepped a few steps back, letting Bones do his job.

Spock was frowning ever so slightly, a puzzled look on his face.

Jim let out a harsh chuckle, wiping discreetly at his eyes.

Of course. For Spock, it had been only a minute since they talked. For Jim, it had been thirty-nine days without him.