It is early morning on Vulcan, the sun just beginning to rise over the mountains. Spock sits cross-legged on the edge of a rock and watches the colour of the sky change from deep purple to pink and then red. Far above him flies a rare silver bird, its wings outstretched as it soars through the air.
It is peaceful here, and as long as he doesn't move, he can almost convince himself that it is real.
He closes his eyes briefly, allowing himself to pretend for a moment that he can feel smooth rock beneath him, instead of carpet. Then he rises to his feet, ordering, "End program."
The vision of Vulcan disappears, leaving behind an empty storage cupboard. The ever-present pain in Spock's head surges for a moment, but he forces it back with effort. It is curious, he thinks, that he never truly considered Vulcan to be his home until it was gone.
Holotechnology is still in its infancy, and it has taken many months of effort for Spock to recreate even this tiny sliver of the world he once knew. He keeps working, though, knowing that, in this new reality, every fragment of Vulcan's past is a gift beyond price. Besides, when he is working he can forget the pain, the ache of loss. It retreats then, but it is always lying in wait, ready to assault him the moment he stops.
So he doesn't stop.
His life over the past months has become a ritual of working until he is exhausted, sleeping until the nightmares wake him, then coming here to meditate and work on his pet project until it is time to go on shift and start the whole process again.
Sometimes he thinks of giving up, leaving Starfleet and returning to the colony, but the thought always passes quickly. Here on the ship he can tell himself that the emptiness in his mind is merely the result of being alone, separated from other Vulcans. He is not sure he could bear it if he were to return to what is left of his people and find the feeling unchanged.
He glances around the room, then powers down the holo-emitter and leaves to start the day.
* * *
In retrospect, he should have realised that he could not hide his project from the rest of the crew forever.
He is working on the central district of Shikahr, specifically the Library of Surak which was one of his favourite places as a child, when he is interrupted by the sound of the door sliding open, followed by a familiar voice.
"So, this is where you keep disappearing off to."
Kirk's voice is soft, with a note of sympathy that makes Spock clench his fists. He takes in a breath of air that suddenly feels too thin and orders, "End program."
"You don't have to stop on my account," Kirk says, as Spock turns to face him.
Spock observes him tiredly, his head beginning to throb again. "Why are you here?" This is supposed to be his sanctuary, somewhere where he can grieve without interference from humans who don't understand.
"I followed you," Kirk admits, seemingly unregretful of his actions. "I wanted to make sure you were okay." He takes a step forwards and asks, "What are you working on?"
Spock suppresses a sigh, unsure whether to be gratified by Kirk's concern, or annoyed at his interference. "A program for the colony," he answers. "It depicts Vulcan-that-was." He neglects to mention that, by this point, the project is more for his own benefit than that of the colony.
Kirk nods slowly. "Can I see it?"
Spock considers refusing, but there is a small part of him that wants to share this with someone, and the captain is one of the few people he trusts enough to do so. He nods and orders, "Load program Spock 3.26."
Their surroundings change to that of a garden, plants of all shapes, sizes and colours around a cobbled path that leads off into the distance. "This was the garden to my parents' house on Vulcan."
"It's beautiful," Kirk says, then, "Are those sunflowers?"
Spock nods. "One of my mother's hobbies was attempting to cultivate Earth plants in Vulcan soil. The sunflowers were one of her few successes." He has to brace himself against a surge of pain, but the small part of him was right, it does help to share this. After all, wasn't that the point of his project? To give the memory of Vulcan to those who will never see it?
The breath he takes in is unsteady, but his voice is strong as he says, "There were sixty-eight varieties of plant in this garden. Would you like to see the rest?"
"I'd be honoured, Mr Spock," Kirk says, then gestures ahead of them. "Lead on."