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In Another World

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Jim’s comm beeped, and he yanked it out of his pocket, seeing the annoyed message from Komack which he promptly ignored. He knew he couldn’t be the first person to turn down a command promotion, and he wouldn’t be the last, and he was fairly sure it was just the whole Son of George Kirk thing that had the Admiral up his ass. But Jim loved what he did—he didn’t exactly expect to fall in love with xeno-botany but here he was, and he had no intention of taking over the Enterprise, no matter what his previous Academy scores and records on the Farragut said. And really, the entire reason they wanted him was the fact that he’d been a science consult for the ship for the past four years now. Pike and Kirk had gotten to know each other through comms and crises, and Jim wasn’t entirely sure what had caused Pike to accept the promotion and leave the ship, but he wasn’t exactly in a hurry to take his place.

No, he was going to dedicate his time—at least for now—to cultivating the ability to grow sustainable flora from one world on another without massive assistive technology. And on top of that he’d been approved to work on Vulcan with Dr. Amanda Grayson. The botanist whose books Jim kept like they were the damn bible, who he might have had a mini-poster of that he talked to in the lab whenever he was stressed. He was a fan-boy. Sue him.

All he needed to do was a few tutoring sessions with one of the xeno-linguistics professors to ensure his Vulcan didn’t leave him insulting the scientists he’d be working with, and he would be on a ship heading off for the desert planet. And he was excited about this one. Dr. Grayson had actually set this up for him when he’d been bemoaning his lack of access to proper Golic. She informed him she was acquainted with a Vulcan professor at the Academy, and would set up a few sessions with him if Jim was willing.

Which, hell yes he was willing.

He’d accepted the message from Professor S’chn T’gai Spock asking Jim to meet him in the Academy records hall which would be the most secluded place the campus offered, and was there now, just outside the doors, trying to shake off his nerves. The guy had to be cool—Jim hadn’t really asked around much out of fear mostly that he’d hear the guy was a giant asshole. A common theme amongst human opinion of Vulcans—one Jim found xenophobic and racist to be honest. People didn’t bother to try and understand Vulcans as Vulcans, and instead tried to understand Vulcans as humans which never worked out.

But all the same, he wanted to like this guy because this guy knew Dr. Grayson and he wanted to make a good impression. He quelled the shaking in his hands, then pushed the doors open and strode in.

The place was set up like an ancient library, shelves of old books—though Jim knew most of them were only for show, and the rest contained PADDs with the Academy records accessible to professors only. But he liked the old-world feel of it, the long, mahogany tables stretched with faux-leather chairs. The only other person in the room besides himself was the Vulcan he was meeting—tall as they always were, thin and broad shouldered. He was sitting at the end of the furthest table and hadn’t looked up from the PADD which was in front of him. But he was impossible to miss with his pale, slightly green-tinged skin, his deep blue eyelids, and the pointed ears just below the perfectly trimmed bowl cut.

Jim cleared his throat as he walked over, and Professor Spock lifted his head, though his eyes didn’t quite meet Jim’s. “Sorry I’m late.”

“Thirty two point six seconds is hardly late by human standards, Mr. Kirk. Please sit.”

Jim did so, to Spock’s right, and when he slid his feet under the table, he gave a slight yelp when they came into contact with something furry and large. Jim peered under to assess an attack but instead found a rather large, brown dog with lazy eyes and a strange harness. “Uh...”

“That is Ee-Chiya,” Spock said in his deadpan tone. “He is trained to sit and will not disturb the lesson.”

Jim didn’t know what to make of that, so he merely sat up straight, cleared his throat and said, “Alright, then. So I was wondering if you…”

“I have a lesson plan laid out,” Spock interrupted, his face pointed down toward the PADD again as his fingers deftly scrolled over the flat screen. “I have sent a copy of it to your account which you should be able to access now. It contains a timeline which we will follow and any questions can be saved for breaks. As it is now, I would prefer to switch to Golic so I may assess your abilities to hold both professional and casual conversation, as Dr. Grayson has reported that is your main concern.”

Jim flinched a little at the almost sharp, unfriendly words. “Look man, if this is an imposition…”

“It is, in fact, an imposition, Mr. Kirk, but as I am using this moment to repay a debt, I am here. I understand the human need to connect and make acquaintance with those they are working closely with, but I do not feel it is necessary to indulge you as we will only be working together for fourteen Terran days.”

Jim swallowed thickly. “Right. You know, I actually can find someone else who…”

“The only person I am aware of with a passing fluency in Golic besides myself is now off-world, and her mission is a five-year one.”

Jim sighed internally. The Enterprise. The mission he had turned down and was now being harassed about. “Right. Fair enough.” Jim switched to Golic then. ‘I guess we can begin?’

Spock’s eyebrow rise, and he still didn’t look up, but he nodded all the same. ‘We may begin.’

~*~

Three hours, and Jim was both exhausted and dealing with warring, complex feelings because on one hand, Spock made it very clear he did not like Jim. But on the other hand he was gorgeous and he was smart and clever, and he was funny in that subtle Vulcan way Jim had started to learn when he was working with a few of the VSA botanists. So a little crush was forming which was the worst because Spock clearly disliked him a lot.

But Jim had dealt with unrequited want before and it wasn’t a big deal. Soon enough he’d be off-planet and Spock would go back to his teaching job and Jim would cultivate sustainable botany for new colonies, and eventually the Vulcan would become a distant memory. No harm, no foul in having a little crush.

When Spock cleared his throat, Jim realized he’d gone quiet. ‘Apologies,’ Jim said in Golic. ‘How am I doing?’

“Your progress is sufficient for a student at your level,” Spock said in Standard. “We will resume the lesson tomorrow at this same time.”

Jim scrubbed a hand down his face. “Is there any chance we can meet at my place? I have a couple of timed experiments tomorrow, and it won’t take my attention away from the lessons, but I do need to be there for the duration.”

Spock hesitated, then nodded. “You may send me the address.”

Jim eased his chair back and stood, grabbing his own bag and taking a step away from the table. He watched Spock do the same, then Spock moved around the table and before Jim could say anything, Spock crashed right into Jim’s chair which was still sitting in the middle of the pathway.

It hit Jim all at once—how Spock never looked at him, how he didn’t seem to look at anything really, and it was obvious he hadn’t seen the chair. Because he was blind.

And then…and then he realized something even more important, and the words blurted out of his mouth as Spock used the edge of the table to orient himself. “Deneva.”

Spock’s shoulders stiffened, and he didn’t turn toward Jim, but after a long moment he did nod.

“I…” Jim’s stomach felt like it contained a burning hot ball of seething guilt because…because… “That was me,” he said, his voice soft and devastated. “That was…your CMO commed me about the creatures and I…” Jim groped for a chair and sat as Spock walked back to his previous seat and bent down to pick up the dog’s harness.

“You were consulted as your team on the Farragut had encountered something similar on another colony, only without the level of devastation on Deneva,” Spock said, his voice low and a little rough.

Four years ago. It was four years ago when Jim got that call. He’d been in the middle of a really nice REM cycle when his comm beeped, and it had taken him exactly one minute to recall what they’d done and to tell the CMO on the Enterprise, “Throw light at it. That’s what worked for us.”

The CMO had done it, and then commed back not long after sounding a little disoriented as he talked about the risk of blindness as a side effect which had been Jim’s concern too so he had said simply, “We isolated the creatures and experimented with the light waves until we found the one that was fatal. It shouldn’t take long if you have any living specimens onboard. I’ll forward you my research.” Then he’d done so and had received a quick message of thanks.

He hadn’t talked to that CMO again.

He’d heard a few people had died—it was by sheer luck Sam had only just left Deneva before the outbreak. He heard the ship requested a new Science Officer, but Jim hadn’t really considered what that meant.

Until now.

“Did you know it was me? That I was the one who…”

“I was aware,” Spock said shortly. He urged his dog—his guide dog—forward with a short command in Golic.

It was no wonder the Vulcan hated him. Jim was responsible for his blindness.

He said nothing as he watched Spock take his things, and leave the archives.

~*~

In truth, Jim didn’t expect Spock to show up the following evening. In all honesty, he’d spent most of his day between research and experiments hoping that Spock would send a comm message letting Jim know that he’d decided that whatever debt he owed to Dr. Grayson was paid, and that it was over. Jim’s guilt was a palpable thing, and every time he blinked he could see himself and the flippant way he’d just said, “Throw light at it,” without considering what the CMO might have been throwing light at.

Jim hadn’t even asked if they were using a person, or a trapped specimen in the lab. The thought hadn’t crossed his mind. No, just… “Throw light at it,” and only after the word blindness did Jim amend his suggestion.

He had destroyed Spock’s entire Starfleet career simply because he’d been tired.

Jim wasn’t sure he could handle the guilt when Spock arrived.

He was uncharacteristically quiet as he let the Vulcan into his space, and he was startled to find Spock holding a long, thin cane instead of a dog’s harness. Spock seemed just as hesitant as Jim when he was let in, and stood carefully a few feet away from his host without saying a word.

“What do I need to…uh. I mean, how can I make you comfortable?” Jim asked, rubbing the back of his neck.

“A simple description of where we will be working will suffice,” Spock said, and though he was Vulcan, Jim could hear the tension in his voice.

Jim still did his best to give a verbal layout of the place, and he was grateful for maybe the first time ever that he was kind of a neat-freak. “Can I get you some tea or…anything? I don’t think I have anything Vulcan programmed into my replicator, but I’ve heard that chamomile is a pretty good substitute?”

Spock nodded once. “That will be sufficient, thank you.” Then he put his cane out in front of him and Jim did his best not to stare as Spock made his way—flawlessly though not effortlessly—from the center of the room to the couch.

Jim hurried into the kitchen to grab himself coffee, and the tea for Spock, and he hesitated at the idea of food but his stomach was in knots and he was fairly sure Spock would refuse anything he offered. He carried both mugs to the living room, and set Spock’s down in front of him on the low table. “It’s uh…right in front of you?”

“Thank you, Mr. Kirk.” Spock’s hand carefully reached out, found the handle, and lifted the mug though he didn’t drink from it. “I confess I can feel your tension and I have come to the conclusion that until we deal with your emotions regarding the origins of my blindness, we will not make any progress in your lesson.”

Jim flushed. “Sorry. I…I just…when you find out that your thoughtlessness led someone to…you know…lose their career…”

“My career was not lost, Mr. Kirk,” Spock said evenly. He took a sip of his tea, then carefully eased it back onto the table. “It was a choice, as was the treatment on Deneva.”

Jim blinked. “But I was the one who told your CMO to throw light at it. I was the one who said…”

“I am aware the initial suggestion was yours,” Spock interrupted. “But it was Dr. McCoy and myself who weighed the options presented to us—wait longer which could have ended my life, or allow me to participate as a test-subject. It was unfortunate that your second suggestion would have provided the solution to my blindness, but it did save the sight of all the remaining colonists on Deneva, and although I lost my sight, I was relieved of a pain so great, I would have sacrificed much more if given the choice.” Spock hesitated and then said, “You are also harboring a delusion that my blindness cost me my career. I willingly left the ship on a permanent basis after returning to earth for rehabilitation.”

Jim reached for his tea and took a sip, just to give himself something to do as he processed. “So they didn’t kick you off?”

“Quite the contrary, my captain was most displeased with my choice. He had spent the six months I remained in occupational therapy upgrading the ship to accommodate my needs. However, I found the offer of teaching at the academy a reprieve from the mission, and when given the choice to resign, I took it.”

Jim clutched his mug so tight his knuckles hurt. From everything he knew about Vulcans, he knew they didn’t lie—they could, but there was no logic behind it and it was against the nature of any Vulcan to act against logic. However, he couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that he was to blame, yet Spock seemed unwilling to allow Jim to assume the blame.

If it was true, though, and if Spock’s disdain for Jim wasn’t because of his part in the Deneva incident, then what was it about? If he’d been braver, he would have asked, but he wasn’t. Not with Spock sitting next to him on the couch, close enough to strangle him if he chose to do so. If Jim pissed him off enough.

“Okay well…thank you for telling me all of that,” Jim said from behind a sigh.

“Thanks are illogical and therefore unnecessary,” Spock said shortly. “I merely wish to move past a fixation—a disturbing habit of many humans which I find to be unproductive and pointless. You wish to ensure your Vulcan is passable, and so I am here providing that service. Might we begin?”

Jim winced, but nodded—remembered Spock couldn’t see him, and cleared his throat. “Yeah. Yes.” Then he switched to Golic and tried to keep his mind focused on the lesson at hand. ‘Let’s begin.’

~*~

Jim should have let it go. Only he was a master of never letting anything go until the dead horse he was beating was nothing more than dust. When he got the following day’s comm message from Spock postponing their daily tutoring session owing to cadet exams, Jim took the opportunity to hole himself up in his office and go over the Enterprise’s report from Deneva.

He immediately recognized the entry from Dr. Leonard McCoy, and found himself standing in a Federation designated Transporter Office filling out paperwork to be allowed a cross-continental beam to Covington, Georgia where the doctor had set up a general practice—at least according to the last records Starfleet had on him.

Jim knew he was probably committing at least a dozen privacy violations, but as much as Spock had assured him he didn’t blame Jim for his blindness, Jim couldn’t wrap his head around how the Vulcan didn’t hate him beyond all reason. Though then again, assuming a Vulcan could hate seemed to be stretching his understanding of them.

All the same, Jim had made up his mind, and grabbed an aircar to the little office McCoy had set up just after resigning his post. The clinic’s parking lot looked empty, and when Jim stepped into the lobby, it was occupied by a lone man who looked just shy of his hundreds, hunched over an old-school paper magazine. Jim quirked an eyebrow at him, then approached the little patient window and gave his most winning smile to the receptionist.

“Hi there, I was wondering if Dr. McCoy might spare a moment to meet with me? My name is Jim Kirk, I’m…”

“Do you have an appointment,” she said, sounding vaguely bored and only giving Jim’s grin a passing glance.

Jim rubbed the back of his neck and offered a sheepish grin. “Uh. Well you see, I’m a friend visiting from San Francisco, so I didn’t think to…”

“If you don’t have an appointment, then I’m afraid you’ll have to come back another time,” she said.

Jim groaned, but his eyes snapped over to a man who looked to be mid-forties walking through and laying down a PADD. Jim hadn’t ever met McCoy—had only spoken to him those two times during the Incident—but he had a gut feeling, and those were usually right.

“Dr. McCoy?” Jim asked.

The man’s arched brows lifted. “Do I know you?”

“Jim Kirk. We spoke twice uh…during Deneva?”

McCoy’s face went pale and his eyes widened. “You’re the science officer who…”

“Yeah,” Jim said, a little breathy. “Look, we probably shouldn’t talk about this here, but I’m working with Professor Spock and uh…”

McCoy’s sharp head nod toward the side door cut Jim off, and he quickly walked over, listening for the little click to indicate the door was unlocked. McCoy was on the other side waiting, and quickly led Jim around the corner to a small office. The place looked absolutely archaic—nothing like the stark white of Starfleet Medical. The walls were painted in earth tones, and there were physical books and paper certificates hanging in frames.

The chairs looked leather, though Jim hoped they were faux as he sat down, easing back and hooking his ankle up on his knee. McCoy took his own seat behind the desk and gave Jim a careful look. “I take it Spock doesn’t know you’re here.”

Jim couldn’t help his laugh. “Uh, no. And I don’t really plan on telling him either. I do value my life.”

“Not enough, apparently. If he catches wind of this…”

“I know,” Jim said, then huffed out a breath. “I know I just…I didn’t expect…” Jim swallowed thickly as he gathered his thoughts. “I’m a botanist and I’m heading to Vulcan to work with Dr. Grayson for a few months. She put me in touch with the Professor to work on my Golic before I head over and I didn’t know…I wasn’t aware of what happened. After Deneva. I just found out the details a few days ago.”

McCoy’s cheeks were mottled pink, and instead of answering, he rose and went to his bookshelf, coming away with a crystal decanter and two matching whiskey tumblers. He filled them both, two fingers each, and passed one over to Jim. “I haven’t spoken to Mr. Spock since my resignation. I put in my notice when the Captain received word he wasn’t coming back to the ship.”

Jim licked his lips, then took a sip of the liquor which burned fiercely as it went down. “He said he found a better opportunity on earth. Said his blindness didn’t influence his decision not to return.”

“I…” McCoy hesitated, then shook his head. “To be honest, Mr. Kirk…”

“Jim, please,” he begged. “After all this, I think Jim will do.”

McCoy nodded. “Alright, Jim. I can’t say Mr. Spock and I were ever close, but he was the best damn science officer Starfleet had. I told him that before he walked into that chamber and ordered me to throw everything I had at that thing in his body.” McCoy’s eyes dropped to his whiskey, but he didn’t drink it. “I can’t tell you what happened after that. Spock and the Captain spent some time on leave after we left Deneva’s Orbit. I saw him a few times for examinations. The first few days, Spock’s Vulcan healing did what it could on his ocular nerves. He regained some light perception and visual field—just motion, and blurry shapes. But it became clear after some time that his body would only regenerate so much. I consulted with a Vulcan physician who confirmed that Spock’s healing had plateaued and he must begin adjusting to his current level of sight. Next thing I knew we were being rerouted to Earth so Spock could catch a shuttle and we were informed he would be back within six standard months. Pike ordered an upgrade of all decks to accommodate an officer with a visual impairment. Before the upgrades were completed, Pike received the termination request for Spock’s command, and…that was that.”

Jim bit his lower lip in thought. “It doesn’t seem like blindness didn’t play a part.”

“Spock’s not the kind of guy who would beat around the bush, Jim. Doesn’t have it in him. That green blood of his sees to that. If he says the opportunities were better on earth, I have to believe him.” Now McCoy did take a sip. “Between you and me, I believe it had something to do with Pike. Whatever transpired between the two of them was likely the influencing decision.”

“So he doesn’t hate me?” Jim asked.

McCoy laughed quietly. “He probably does. The only fondness toward any human he’s ever shown was toward Captain Pike, and even that had a limit. But if you mean because of the information you provided…”

“It was my fault,” Jim blurted.

McCoy shook his head. “It wasn’t your fault, Jim. You gave me the information based on the circumstances I provided. I would have done the same thing. Spock was dying, willingly so by that point because even his Vulcan physiology couldn’t control the pain any longer. Neither one of us felt like we really had the time to test it before he put himself in the chamber. He knew what he was risking.”

Jim dragged a hand down his face, then set the cup on the edge of the desk. “So I should just trust him when he says it doesn’t matter.”

“Kaiidith,” McCoy said, and shrugged. “One of the few useful phrases I picked up from the point-eared bastard. What is, is, and there’s nothing you can do to change it. You saved his life, even if he lost his sight, and whatever way he’s capable of it, he’s probably grateful.”

Jim shook his head, unable to suspend belief enough to accept that Spock was grateful for what Jim had done. Saving his life or no. “Well, thanks for seeing me. It was kind of eating me up, and I know Spock doesn’t lie, but I guess I just had to hear it from someone else that I didn’t totally ruin his life.”

McCoy didn’t have an answer to that, merely raised his glass in a quiet salute, and Jim returned it.

~*~

‘I feel comfortable in determining this to be our last tutoring session, Mr. Kirk,’ Spock said as he packed away his PADD. ‘I do not believe I have anything left to offer.’

It was two days short of the proposed sessions, and Jim felt a sudden, almost desperate need to beg for more, to stay in Spock’s orbit just a little longer. When it was over, when Spock walked out the door, Jim would have no reason to contact him again. They weren’t friends, but Jim felt something there, between them in a way he wasn’t used to.

Almost two weeks of working together, of having something almost amicable between them. Spock had gotten to know Jim’s place well enough that he could navigate from the living room to the kitchen for his own tea without asking. And they’d even indulged in chess together as a way of practicing polite, casual conversation—Spock winning all but three games, which made Jim’s three triumphs feel even more victorious.

He was just starting to think the Vulcan didn’t hate him.

“Hey, I was wondering,” Jim began, and when Spock raised a brow in his direction, Jim quickly amended and switched to Golic. ‘Would you uh…you know, before I leave, would you be interested in having dinner with me?’ It was a stretch, and he knew it, but he would regret it forever if he didn’t ask.

At the question, Spock’s shoulders went tight and stiff, and his jaw clenched for a long moment. “I do not believe,” he said in Standard, “that is a wise idea, Mr. Kirk.”

Jim felt his heart sink, but he tried for a smile even if Spock couldn’t see it. “Yeah. Yeah I figured you’d…but you know. Couldn’t hurt to ask.”

There was a tension between them now that hadn’t been there since their first days working together, and Jim hated himself a little for creating it.

‘You will be leaving for Vulcan in six standard days, yes?’ Spock asked, once again in Golic.

‘Yes,’ JIm replied. ‘My shuttle leaves, and I’m taking a supply ship over with most of the contents of my lab. Actually,’ Jim said and stood up, “I wanted to show you something before you go. I’ve been working on this hybrid plant—a masu’kastik cross-bred with an earth aloe. It’s my first experiment—seeing if I can get it to grow both here and on Vulcan. I’m attempting to breed several different new species that can be cultivated in multiple environments, hardy enough that it won’t require much interference to get it to reproduce.”

Spock seemed hesitant, but then rose from the couch. “You have this plant here?”

“Yeah,” Jim said, and shifted closer to Spock. “You uh…you’d better take my arm though, okay? My lab is a hot mess and I don’t think I could warn you sufficiently without spending at least a few days letting you get to know the place. Is that…okay?”

Spock merely stepped closer to Jim, his fingers out and careful as they grabbed the back of his arm, just above the elbow. Jim had been several places with Spock over the course of the two weeks they’d worked together, but Spock always either relied on his cane or Ee-Chiya, so this was a first. Jim said a silent prayer that he wasn’t fucking anything up as he led Spock down the hall, and into his little make-shift lab.

The first thing that hit them was the heat, and at the sharp intake of Spock’s breath, Jim laughed. “Sorry. Sorry, I usually warn people about the heat. Right now I’m trying to acclimate the specimens I plan to transport to Vulcan.”

Spock’s hand, which had tightened on Jim’s arm, loosened just a little. “I am not unfamiliar with the conditions.”

Jim closed the door, then walked up to the table where the hybrid plants sat. They were similar to both native species he had been cross-breeding—thick and triangular like the aloe, but larger and covered in a faint, orange-red fuzz like the masu’kastik. The insides were also more like the Vulcan plant, with small villi just under the skin which produced an abundance of water-like liquid which was digestible by both human and Vulcan alike.

“It’s here,” Jim said, and curled his hand around the small pot. “You can follow my arm and then touch it.”

Spock did so, carefully trailing the tips of his fingers from Jim’s arms, down to the pot. Jim stepped aside, and with both hands, Spock began a careful inspection of the pot, the small rocks it was planted in, then the leaves.

“See, most succulent and cactus plants on earth produce liquid, but it’s toxic to humans more often than not. I discovered the masu’kastik was similar to aloe, only more hydrating, which I thought would be a necessity when terraforming new worlds. One of our biggest issues tends to be water-sources. In places like Vulcan where water isn’t as necessary for the plant-life, it’s more difficult to find. This would ensure a higher rate of survival should someone get lost.”

Spock’s fingers brushed gently over the edges, and through the thick fuzz. “It feels…unfamiliar, and yet familiar at the same time.”

“It has the shape of aloe, but more characteristics of masu’kastik,” Jim said. “Go head, break one of the leaves open. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had juice from the masu’kastik but…”

“My mother preferred it during summers,” Spock said softly, then carefully broke one of the leaves in half. The villi immediately reacted, and a rush of liquid poured over the Vulcan’s hand. Jim realized his faux-pas there—he knew Vulcans never ate with their hands, but instead of recoiling, Spock brought the edge of the broken leaf to his mouth and tasted it. “It is…familiar.”

Jim grinned, unable to help himself. “That’s just the start. Dr. Grayson has some ideas, too, that will help me. I’m…sorry god, she’s just so brilliant and I can’t wait to work with her. I’m glad she knew you.”

Spock’s jaw tensed again as he reached to feel for an empty space on the table before placing the leaf down. When his face tilted back up toward Jim the tension was gone. “I am pleased to note that your work with me was beneficial.”

Jim shifted from one foot to the other. “I know I’m leaving soon, but if that’s the only reason you don’t want to grab dinner…”

“It is not, and I will thank you to accept my answer without further explanation. I am not interested in partaking in a social meal with you. I understand the implications—and understand a more friendship modification you would make to the meal should I find discomfort in romance, and I will still decline.”

“Yeah,” Jim said, his throat tight and rejection stinging like a physical blow. “I get it. I didn’t mean to be an asshole. Come on, you can take my arm again and we can get out of here.”

Spock said nothing, showed no emotion on his face as he took Jim’s arm and let the botanist lead him out. They went back to the living room where Spock gathered his cane and his bag, and then paused at the door before taking his leave. “Live long and prosper, Mr. Kirk.” He offered the ta’al, and though he couldn’t see it, Jim offered one back. Spock gave a nod, and then he was gone, leaving Jim’s apartment feeling strangely more empty than it had ever felt before.