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It's been a lifetime
Since I found someone
Since I found someone
Who would stay...

© Judas Priest: “Before the Dawn”/ Killing Machine, 1978

ON VULCAN.

It was chilly on Vulcan, and Spock rested on the sofa by the fireplace, watching the flickering flames lick the logs he had piled up only moments before. It was almost like meditating, watching the wood as the fire ate it slowly. Spock sighed and shifted in his seat. He was comfortable enough, physically, wrapped in one of his mother's old blankets as he was, but still something nagged at the edges of his mind.

He had not enjoyed saying farewell to his friends on Earth. They had been through so much together and they were close to him. Still, he had felt the need to go back to Vulcan. Now, the logic of going here escaped him. There was nothing left for him on his birth-planet, and yet, if he were to be completely honest with himself, he could not have stayed on Earth. It would soon have become intolerable.

Again, he shifted and let his mind take him where it might. Memories. He had many of them now. The ones he had lost in the fal-tor-pan were back completely, or at least very nearly so. He still sensed gaps from time to time, but essentially he was the same man that he used to be before...

Spock sighed and rose from his position on the sofa. There was no use in dwelling in the past. It was behind him and there was nothing he could do about the events that had unfolded. But the longing, the loneliness and the ache would not disappear.

The memories pressed on like a dam that would no longer be contained, and even Vulcan mind-disciplines could not keep them at bay. Was his mind trying to tell him something? Spock had learned through the years that at those times when he could not control his own thoughts, his subconscious had worked something out, and the only thing he could do was allow the thoughts to surface, deal with them and then put them into order.

Spock sighed and allowed scenes from the past to flood his mind freely as he watched T’Kuht in the distance. Vulcan’s sister planet was blocking the rays from Eridani still, but in approximately an hour her rays would bathe his home planet in their orange light. Dawn was coming.

Spock closed his eyes and another world appeared in his mind’s eye. Earth with its blue skies and abundance of water meant much to him. Born on a desert planet, Spock had never thought that water would become so dear to him. But memories of swimming in the ocean with Jim were among his most cherished moments. Or the walks they had taken in the light rain of San Francisco. Jim had enjoyed the rain, as though the water itself gave him energy and life.

Yes, memories. Good ones and bad ones - mostly good ones, Spock admitted to himself and sighed again. They all involved Jim in one way or another. Why had he never truly acknowledged that before? It wasn’t as though he didn’t know the truth about himself, but he had kept it buried.

Spock prided himself of being a relatively intelligent Vulcan, and he had experienced enough emotions to recognize what he felt. A twinge of irritation at his own illogical actions coursed through him. Why had he left Earth? Why had he tried to convince himself that he was still a son of Vulcan, that it was here that he belonged, when he knew deep down in his heart that it had not been true for a very long time. Perhaps not since the first moment he had laid eyes on Jim Kirk? Home had then become the place where Jim was.

And he was not afraid of what Jim would say or do, should he tell the human this very old truth. When Spock thought about it, really allowed himself to examine what had gone on between them, the truth was there plain as day. He was not alone in this.

Jim had gone against Starfleet regulations to bring him back from Genesis. Spock remembered now how Jim’s arms had held his body close as the dying planet crumbled around them. Spock had felt the desperate grip and heard Jim’s trembling voice as he asked for them to be beamed up to the Klingon vessel. Jim had held him tightly, as though he had found the most precious thing in the Universe. Spock had seen the joy in Jim’s eyes when the human's name had spilled over his lips for the first time after the Refusion. Jim had sacrificed the Enterprise for him. Other memories contained little words that Spock had taken for friendship at the time, but which in truth were declarations of ...

Spock swallowed, and some of those words echoed in his mind now, as clear as the day they had been spoken: I lost a brother once, but I was lucky. I got him back.

Brother? Yes, the word Jim had used was brother, but the brightness in his eyes had spoken of feelings no blood brothers should ever share.

A FEW DAYS LATER ON EARTH.

Admirals were demanding his attention and presence everywhere. Kirk was busy and yet... nothing was the same. He had a schedule that kept him going from early morning to late evening. Meetings, social obligations and friends were pulling at him from every possible angle, but it just wasn't the same.

"Oh god, I miss the Enterprise," he mumbled and rose from the kitchen table. The coffee had turned cold and the sun had set long ago. He shook his head. What he had said wasn’t right either, and he finally admitted aloud to himself the truth of the matter. "I miss Spock."

Pouring the coffee out of his cup, rinsing it absentmindedly, he then moved into the living room, bringing a book with him. Despite the late hour, he knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep. His mind was not going to rest.

On the Enterprise, he had never had trouble sleeping. As the captain, he needed to be able to rest whenever the opportunity was given and he had been able to shut himself off as though there had been a switch. Since he left the ship however, it seemed that ability had left him.

Kirk sat in the comfortable sofa and poured a drink of Aldebran Whiskey: a bottle that Bones brought him from some medical conference on the Aldebran home world. Sitting quietly, he sipped at the liquor, noting that it tasted dull and gave him no pleasure. He had hoped the alcohol would make him relax and bring sleep to him, but even that seemed impossible this night.

Flipping the pages of the book back and forth mindlessly, he realized he’d been reading the same page for the umpteenth time. He sighed and put the book away. It wasn’t very interesting anyway. Admiral Hannigan had recommended it to him, but she obviously didn't know him well enough.

Spock would have known what kind of book to recommend. Kirk’s eyes fell on the bookshelf at the opposite wall. There were many books on that shelf that Spock had given to him. Many of them had been read more than just a couple of times. He pondered rereading one again, but decided against it. Instead, he closed his hand around the glass of whiskey and took another sip, leaning back in the sofa, allowing the strong liquid to flow down his throat. It tasted better this time.

What was Spock doing now? He'd left for Vulcan rather suddenly a couple of weeks ago and Kirk hadn't even had the opportunity to say goodbye even though Spock seemed to have taken the time to bid farewell to both Bones and Uhura. Subsequent questions via subspace didn’t make Spock more forthcoming and hadn't really told Kirk why his friend had left so suddenly without even saying goodbye.

"Look at me," he groaned aloud. "What a pathetic old geezer I am, moping like a three-year-old who lost his best friend."

Sad as it might be, it was true. Bones was a good friend, but not like Spock. Kirk shifted in his chair and frowned at his own thoughts. Why was that really? What was so different about Spock?

Bones was the mother hen, the drinking buddy who would lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on. A brother, a friend he would trust with his life without second thought. Someone he could turn to with his troubles.

Spock.... Spock was different. Kirk rubbed his face and leaned back in the sofa again, reminiscing.

He saw Spock before his eyes, leaning over the science console. Long-fingered hands gripped the scanner, or moved over the settings without hesitation, making sure that the Enterprise scanned and recorded anything of scientific value within parsecs. Kirk admitted to himself that he’d always enjoyed Spock’s keen intellect and admired his way of always being able to provide accurate information in any given situation. But that really didn’t make him different from Bones. Bones was very intelligent, and knew more about medicine than anyone else Kirk had ever known. And it wasn’t that he admired Spock’s intelligence any more than he did McCoy’s....

It wasn’t the obvious answer either, the fact that Spock was alien. Through the years, he and Spock had grown as close and familiar with each other as Kirk ever was with McCoy. Kirk knew Spock and seldom thought of him as alien anymore. That wasn’t it...

Kirk rose from the sofa and started pacing. This line of thought caught his attention. Spock had always been there, and he had taken for granted that they would always work together in some fashion. Now, Spock had left and he felt as though he’d lost ... his right arm.

Was that all of it? That he felt inadequate without Spock at his side? Did he need the Vulcan to be able to perform his duties?

Kirk frowned irritably. No, that wasn’t it either. He had worked without Spock for almost two years now, and he performed his duties better than any other admiral in the damn ‘fleet. But still... Spock had been there. Their work had seldom been with each other, since Spock was teaching at the Academy, but they met for dinners and chess-games. They exercised together, and took vacations with each other and now – Spock was just gone. He had left for Vulcan without so much as a single word of explanation. Kirk stopped pacing, with a feeling of déjà vu. Was Spock going to Gol again? An unexpected jolt of fear coursed through Kirk at the thought. No, that couldn’t be it. Spock wasn’t that stupid. He’d come to terms with his humanity years ago, after V’Ger. He wouldn’t try that stunt again.

Kirk frowned. So what was going on, and why did he care so much? He looked out the window, allowing himself to examine that question thoroughly.

The night air was clear and the silver moonlight bathed his garden, casting intricate shadows across the land. The darkness and the light playing there reminded him of Spock and his heart shrank in his chest. The sensation felt like tears, like longing, like...he was broken somehow.

He knew what that feeling was, he suddenly realized. Always had known somewhere inside, but duty and obligation had taken precedence, and perhaps he’d even been afraid to admit the truth to himself? And of course, to Spock.

Kirk rubbed at his eyes. Perhaps he was getting tired after all. And besides, it was too late now...much too late to even try. A lifetime of fighting a desire he didn't really want...

Didn’t you? Wasn’t it the best feeling you’ve ever had?

Kirk pushed the thought away. This desire was what left him alone. Perhaps it was even guilty of separating him from Spock? Had the Vulcan seen what Kirk barely admitted to himself, and been frightened by it?

“Oh no,” he sighed aloud. “Spock wouldn’t fear me. No matter what.”

Saying the words aloud felt like a small consolation, because he knew they were true. He was glad for that, because he knew he couldn’t do anything about his feelings. They were part of him and had been for a long time, even if he just now acknowledged it. The indisputable truth was that no one else had ever measured up. Spock was the only one he ever truly had wanted, and the truth finally dawned on him, that Spock didn’t leave because of Kirk’s feelings. He left because...

Kirk was suddenly not tired at all. Could it be that Spock returned his feelings? And if that was true, why hadn’t they ever talked about it?

Starfleet would not have looked kindly upon them if they had been together when they were on the Enterprise, but neither of them had served in space for a while now and yet – after all these years – they were still apart.

Truth be told, nothing really meant as much to Kirk as living his last few years in happiness, and there was only one person who could give him that, but he was light-years away, in another part of the quadrant.

"God, Spock. Why didn't we ever take the chance?"

Regrets, the worst part of life. There was nothing apart from this, that Kirk truly regretted.

"What would it have been like, Spock, to be truly loved by you?"

As the words died on Kirk’s lips, the first rays of the sun crept over the horizon. It was dawn.

*  *  *

Something woke Kirk much later. He felt disoriented at first, but the determined knock on his door would not allow him to slip back into slumber. He slipped out of bed and put on his bathrobe, trudging toward the door. The sun was high in the sky, and Kirk realized he’d finally fallen asleep at dawn. Now it was well past mid-day.

“Who is it?” he said, but there was no reply.

As the door opened and revealed his guest, Kirk could feel his face break into a smile.

“Spock!”

“Jim.”

As their eyes met, Kirk knew that somehow, somewhere, the truth had dawned on Spock as well, and he felt as though life had just begun.

END

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