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The whisper of that beloved touch makes him tremble, makes him want to reach out and return the ghostly caress. But there is nothing but emptiness as his hands reach out for his lover. Spock draws a deep breath and closes his eyes. The tears are not far away this night, but Spock fights them. They give him headaches, and his eyes no longer fare so well after shedding that precious moisture. There is nothing but cool air as he continuously recapture vivid memories of love, friendship and comfort. These are memories that haunt him in the early hours of the morning more often now than ever before. Spock does not fight the pain that follows in the footsteps of the memories. Pain is his constant companion and has been for many years.

Eidetic memory can be both a blessing and a curse. This time of morning, they are his comfort--and his curse. Yet he cannot make himself let those memories go. No matter how deeply they cut into his weary soul, at the winter of his life, when he will soon leave this existence, they are the only consolation he has. And sometimes, on the rare occasion, they give comfort where nothing and no one else can.

Jim is long since lost, the whispers of his splendid being gone from most people's memories, but inside Spock's mind, the image of the human is as vivid and as brilliant as the man himself ever was when he was alive, even five years after his passing on Veridian III. Even after having been dead for more than eighty years in most people's minds.

Spock often curses whatever force of the universe conjured up that cruel scheme. Who in this world decided to tear them apart at the peak of their existence, the time when they were finally putting life in Starfleet behind them? Who wanted them to lose each other when they had finally decided to give their love free reign and see where life would take them next? If that had been life on Terra, life on Vulcan--or life on some distant planet they had not yet visited, it would not have mattered to Spock. He would have followed Jim Kirk to the edges of Hell if the human had asked it of him.

But he was never given that chance.

One-hundred-and-forty-eight years of life, a mere thirty of them spent in this human's presence, and yet they stand out, starkly against the rest of his life. They remain the best years of all, the most valuable time in all that have passed before and since. A century and a half of living--it is not so much for a Vulcan. But it is enough, Spock decides as he lifts his head and gazes out through the window. Romulus is going to be all right and her people no longer need him. It is all right to leave now.

Dawn is still hours away when the mist rises above the river turned crimson by the winter moon, and Spock knows he will not see another day birth on Romulus. He does not fear what is to come.

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