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A/N: I know the chat format isn't the greatest, but I am working on how to change that in the future. Enjoy! Thanks to Peachly for being a great beta!


Thank you to Plutobaby494, jumpmybones, Tonati, and Saharra Shadow for reviewing!


Disclaimer: I own nothing recognizable from Star Trek.


Chapter 2: Sick


Jim woke up with a coughing fit to find his face in the dirt and the sun high in the sky. He was late for school! He scrambled to his feet, then bent over as he was again overcome with coughs. He hesitated. He was already late for school. His mom wouldn't drive him, and he didn't know anyone else that would. He briefly thought of Spock, but quickly disregarded that idea. He'd have to explain the situation, and there was no way he was doing that! Jim sneezed. Well, since there was no way he was getting to school, it looked like he would just have to play hooky today. It would raise his chances of finding Spock's book anyway.


Jim methodically continued his search, interrupted every few minutes by a coughing fit. His parents apparently hadn't noticed he was gone or didn't care, or didn't want to bother to look themselves.


After a while, overcome with exhaustion and the occasional shiver, he sat down in the dirt and gazed at all the ground he still had to cover. He was so caught up in his musing that he never noticed the figure approaching him from behind.


"Jim," said a familiar voice.


Jim whipped his head around to face him. Spock sat down next to him. "Your mother noticed you were missing, and searched and called for you. When you did not respond, she called the neighbors, including me, to help with the search. What brings you out here?"


Jim dropped his gaze, searching his mind for a good story. He felt Spock's hand rest lightly on his shoulder. He coughed violently.


Spock frowned lightly in concern. "Are you well? Have you been out here all night?"


Jim sniffled a bit. "I seem to have a bit of a cold," he said, hoping the Vulcan would drop the other questions.


There was a brief silence. Then Spock said, "Jim. I know I am a stranger to you and you do not yet trust me. Nonetheless, I would be honored if you would confide in me why you have been out here all night, despite getting a cold in the process and missing school."


Jim wilted a bit in shame. He hadn't wanted to lose the Vulcan's regard for him so soon, as he surely would once he told him, but it had been inevitable anyway. Maybe it was better this way. "I lost the book you gave me and I've been trying to find it before the farming machines come through," he mumbled, not looking Spock in the eye. Before he could stop it, he was overcome with another coughing fit.


Spock's hand tightened on his shoulder. His voice somewhat hesitant, he replied, "I know it was not you who lost the book. You treasure them. It is not in your nature. Who are you protecting?"


Jim did not reply.


After a minute, Spock removed his hand from his shoulder. "Jim, I am not offended or angry. Those are illogical emotions. I would get you another book, but logic dictates that Frank would destroy that one as well."


Jim shrank a bit further into himself, humiliated that Spock had figured out how Frank treated him.


"If you feel well enough to go to school, I will take you. Otherwise, allow me to check you over to make sure you are all right."


Jim still did not respond.


"Come with me," said Spock, grabbing him by the shoulder and pulling him upwards. Jim allowed him to do so and followed him back to the house. The easy strength he could feel from the old man made him a little nervous. His intuition told him that Spock would never hurt him, yet he could tell he was a lot stronger than Frank. Displeasing him would be a lot more painful. Jim knew Spock just wasn't the type, but still. He could not entirely push the thought out of his mind.


"You found him!" said Winona as they entered the house. "Thanks for going to the trouble, it is typical of him! Now he's missed school - "


Jim interrupted with a terrible coughing fit.


"And gotten himself sick too! Jim, you're grounded until further notice!"


Jim did not react, forgetting his nervousness about Spock. He practically lived a grounded life anyway. He was never allowed to have friends over, and rarely was allowed to go to anyone else's house. His parents rarely did anything fun and hardly ever took him along. So what really was the difference?


"I do not like the sound of his cough," said Spock. "With your permission, at home I have a medical scanner. While I am not a doctor, I am confident I will be able to tell if his condition necessitates one. If you will allow me, I would like to take him home and scan him."


"He'll be fine," Winona shrugged. "It'll teach him not to go missing."


Spock frowned as Jim sneezed. "I insist." His grip tightened protectively on Jim's shoulder.


Winona sighed. "Fine. But bring him back in time to make dinner."


Jim was surprised that she'd given in so easily and wasn't sure how he felt about going. He had such a mix of feelings - curiosity, shame, eagerness, dread, and nervousness. What would Spock's house be like? Would Spock finally come out and say what he really thought of him? Spock, so far, had been great, so he hoped it would stay that way. Or would he change his mind, if he hadn't already? What then? He was no match for Vulcan strength. Yet, looking at Spock, he could still not believe he would hurt him. The air of security and belonging around him was strong. He was torn between that and his insecurities. It just seemed too good to be true.


Spock immediately pulled Jim out the front door. "Have you eaten?" he asked.


"No," said Jim quietly.


"Unfortunately, all I have is replicated food. I hope that will suffice."


"Thank you," said Jim. He was really hungry.


Jim climbed in the back of Spock's speeder and held on tight as the Vulcan sped towards his new home. He followed the Vulcan into his house, still curious despite his current sombre mood. The crater still loomed unfinished in the backyard.


The moment Jim stepped through the door, he was overcome with an oppressive heat. It had to be at least 100 degrees in there! He had to have his solar power on maximum. The interior of the house was less interesting than he expected. It was spacious but did not have many decorations or personal affects. In the living room, Jim recognized a meditation mat and candles.


"Please wait here, Jim," requested Spock. "I will return shortly."


Jim nodded and sat down on the couch. He felt something hard press against his hip. His comm! It was turned off. He forgot about his inner conflict and switched it on to check his messages, oldest first.


WKirk: Where are you??? (repeated 10 times)


Frank: You little son of a bitch, get back to your mom! (repeated in increasingly more vulgar forms five times)


GMitch: Playing hooky to spend time with that Vulcan?


BenFin: Are you okay? You rarely miss school. I've got notes and your homework for you.


He even got a few from his neighbors. He deleted all messages from his parents, replied to his neighbors, then thanked and reassured Ben that he was all right, just a stuffy nose. He made it sound like he didn't come in because he was sick. He was just about to think of what to say to Gary (that was always harder, he was so perceptive it was hard to think of what to say to hide the nasty things at home), when Spock came in, carrying a tray of food in one hand and a medical scanner in the other.


"Thanks," said Jim, accepting the food. He smiled with pleasure as he realized it was his favorite. There was no way the old man could have known, though, so he continued without comment. Spock got right down to business with the scanner, frowning as he waved it over him. He looked more and more intense as he continued. It seemed that he was picking up on an awful lot, and Jim grew nervous. Was he getting all his injuries too, from when Frank pummeled him from time to time? He hoped not. Jim didn't want to be seen as a damaged weakling. Finally he couldn't stand the silence any longer. "Does everything check out?"


"You are a very active young boy," Spock commented, a trace of suspicion in his voice.


Jim winced internally. So he HAD seen all that stuff. Great.


"As for your cold, it is progressive in its severity. You will need to be monitored to ensure it does not become pneumonia."


That didn't sound too good. Frank did not ease up on him at all when he was sick. In fact, he was almost worse, insisting that he not become a sissy and just suck it up. Even if it made him sicker in the process.


Spock seemed to be cottoning on to this fact, somehow, because he said, "As your parents do not seem to know what is serious and what is not, logic dictates that I offer my services to care for you until you get better."


Suddenly being sick didn't seem so bad. Despite Jim's resignation to the fact that things wouldn't stay good, it was still much better than being with Frank. Just then, his comm buzzed with an incoming message.


"Go ahead," said Spock.


Jim read it.


GMitch: Still with Spock?


He felt his face flush slightly. He wrote him back quickly.


JKirk: Yes. I'll talk to you when I'm well enough to come to school. Spock thinks I might be coming down with pneumonia. See you soon.


"It's just Gary, wondering why I'm not at school," explained Jim evasively.


"Indeed," commented Spock.


Jim resumed eating, a hacking cough overcoming him every once in a while. Spock sat next to him, apparently deep in thought. Jim could practically hear that brilliant mind whirring. The Vulcan practically reeked intelligence. Jim looked out the window towards the crater. He would just love to know what it was for. Hopefully he wouldn't mind. "Can I ask you a question?"


"You may ask me anything, Jim," invited Spock.


"Why are you digging such a large hole in your backyard?"


Spock raised an eyebrow slightly and turned towards him. "I'm afraid I cannot tell you."


"Oh," said Jim, suddenly feeling a bit rejected. It really was none of his business. He shouldn't mind so much. Of course Spock would think he was just a stupid kid.


"Jim, I promise you will know sometime in the future. However, it is not beneficial for you to know at the present time. It is not because I do not wish to tell you, merely that I am waiting for the best time," Spock explained.


"I understand," said Jim, mystified but feeling better. What sort of thing could the old man be hiding that would need to wait until the 'best time' to reveal it? He finished his food, taking time to revel in that wonderful feeling of belonging. It was strange - despite having a horrible cold and feeling so conflicted, he felt better than he had in a while.


Spock stood abruptly. "If you would like to rest here, Jim, I will talk with your mother and make other calls I need to make."


Jim nodded his agreement, noting for the first time how much Spock said his name. He seemed to really like it for some reason.


Spock, meanwhile, was in his room with his private video comm, debating his next move. A part of him would dearly love to use this excuse to call Dr. Leonard McCoy, who would have just earned the title by now. However, how would he explain seeking him out when there were perfectly acceptable doctors nearby? Perhaps, as a new doctor, he would be seeing patients at a discounted rate. Still, that would not be enough. There were other new doctors much nearer to him, as well. A sudden plan formed in Spock's mind. It would be perfect. No one would suspect him of anything - not Jim, not Winona, not even the irritable McCoy. He double checked the whereabouts of McCoy's practice, then made some comm calls which were very fruitful. Now, if he could just get Winona to agree, his plan would work.


He dialed Winona's number and waited. She answered, looking a bit less irritable than usual. This was promising. "Good afternoon, Winona," he said politely.


"Hello, Spock. Thanks for taking Jim, it's been nice to actually have a peaceful house."


Spock decided not to point out that he would have been at school the majority of the time anyway. "It has been my pleasure, Winona. Unfortunately, I believe that Jim needs to be checked out by a doctor soon. I am running some errands in Georgia tomorrow, and I am getting there by transporter. If it is agreeable to you, I can take Jim with me and have him checked out by a local doctor there."


Winona looked torn. Spock decided to press further.


"It truly is a pleasure to have him with me. I am a lonely old man and the company is a privilege. Permit me to indulge myself a little longer. I am sure you could use another peaceful day in the house."'


"Very well," she agreed reluctantly. "Just make sure he doesn't fall behind on his schoolwork with all these days off."


Spock was a bit taken aback that she did not seem to care that Jim was sick. But his Vulcan mask did not falter. "It will not be a problem. I have a doctorate in many subjects, especially Math and Science. If he needs to be brought up to speed, I can tutor him."


Winona looked impressed despite herself. For a moment, he could see a kind, loving, confident woman who had made an excellent Starfleet officer. It made her resemblance to Jim more pronounced. Then it disappeared. "I should have known. Vulcan." She smiled a bit.


"Shall I return Jim to you, then pick him up tomorrow?" asked Spock.


She pursed her lips together. "Don't bother, if it's more hassle for you," she said.


"Very well," agreed Spock. "I will keep him with me, and he will go with me to Georgia tomorrow. I will tell you the doctor's prognosis and you can then decide your next move. Please send your electronic approval for a doctor's appointment to the address I just sent to your comm. Have a pleasant evening."


"Will do. Goodbye, Spock," she said. Then they cut the connection.


Spock quickly set up the appointment with Dr. McCoy's receptionist, a blond woman named Jocelyn - who, Spock believed, was going to be McCoy's wife, if she wasn't already. His eyes glimmered with satisfaction. Perhaps he would not be able to see McCoy on a regular basis, but it seemed if he was clever enough he'd be able to see him every once in a while.


It was of no consequence, however. He was quite satisfied with his situation here, with Jim. Who was going to be in his company at least another 24 hours. He slowly approached the living room, illogically wondering how Jim was going to react to the news. Surely Jim would prefer to be with humans his own age, not with an aged alien he barely knew. Would he be upset that he wasn't going to school, despite being sick?


Jim, meanwhile, had amused himself with all the possibilities of why Spock was digging the crater. He did not like mysteries. It was strange, and he just wanted to know! His theories ranged from a secret laboratory to some unknown Vulcan traditions. Maybe Vulcans hibernated during the winter. Who knew? They were so secretive. It could be, their planet was so hot, maybe he needed to hide from the snow? Why so BIG, though? Kind of ridiculous, but anything was possible. Speaking of the Vulcan heat, Jim was beginning to sweat in earnest. At first it had felt somewhat good, but now it was making him feel worse.


Spock walked in, and noticed Jim's feverish face. "My apologies, Jim, I should have adjusted the temperature immediately," he said, striding over to the thermostat. Jim watched him lower it to eighty degrees. Still a bit high, but much more tolerable.


He went back to the couch and sat down next to the young boy. "I have finished talking with your mother and making all the arrangements," Spock informed him. "You are to stay with me. Tomorrow, I am running errands in Georgia. There are some people requiring my high level of expertise with computers. You will accompany me by transporter, and I will take you to a doctor. After we hear his prognosis, we will decide our next move."


Jim's head began to throb a bit, but he ignored it. He could hardly believe his good fortune. Not only would he get to go somewhere cool, like Georgia, but he'd get to spend lots of time with Spock. He wouldn't have to see Frank for at least another day. "Thank you, Spock," he said with a large grin.


Spock's eyes glimmered a bit in response. "In that case, I will make up a bed and your other needed arrangements. Make yourself at home."


Jim already felt more at home there than he had anywhere else. He settled deeper into the cushions and started messaging on his comm. Ben had sent him his work electronically, but he disregarded it. He was way too excited for schoolwork.


JKirk: Ben, Gary... are you up for messaging?


GMitch: Bet you haven't left that Vulcan yet.


Jim wanted to roll his eyes. As much as he liked his friend Gary, he could be a bit much sometimes.


JKirk: No, I haven't. He's taking me to Georgia with him tomorrow. He has errands to run, and he'll take me to a doctor while he's there.


GMitch: Sounds like a great guy. Way too secretive and weird though, you know? There's something really strange about him.


JKirk: Hey, you haven't even met him! He's fine.


Jim wanted to believe it, anyway.


GMitch: Has he told you about his crater yet?


JKirk: Well, no.


GMitch: See?


JKirk: He promised he will, though.


GMitch: Get better soon, Jim. I'm glad you have Spock as a neighbor. Frank would probably be too busy as usual to take you to the doctor, right?


Luckily Ben interjected onto their chat then. It was set so all three could see each other's writing.


BenFin: Jim! How are you doing? Will you be going to school tomorrow?


GMitch: No, his Vulcan neighbor is taking him to a doctor in Georgia.


BenFin: Why doesn't he just take him to Riverside Regional?


GMitch: Good question. I'm not buying the errands thing.


JKirk: Gary, you are way too suspicious. I'm thrilled with what he has planned. Don't spoil it for me!


GMitch: Hey, I'm not saying it's not cool. It's just weird that he has so many secrets.


Spock passed by just then, his eyes smiling at the sight of the young James T. Kirk texting on his couch. This was something he could get used to.


Meanwhile, Jim frowned a bit to himself. He did not like the implied criticism of Spock, who had been nothing but kind to him so far.


JKirk: So, did Farting Finnegan leave you alone today?


BenFin: ROTFL that's great Jim!


GMitch: Yes. But I suspect it's only to plan better for tomorrow.


Jim suddenly felt playful, remembering Spock's earlier comment.


JKirk: What would you do if I started a brawl with him in your defense?


BenFin: You wouldn't!


GMitch: I'm not a damsel in distress, Jim.


JKirk: LOL You don't have to be. There has to be some way to make him stop messing with you!


Spock, meanwhile, entered the room he had for Jim and started his preparations. He had made it the way his own Jim had preferred. This was not in expectation that Jim would be staying there. That had come as a surprise. No, the reason had been since coming through the black hole, he had felt...stressed. Very stressed. He couldn't meditate properly, but he found that when he was in this room, and felt close to his old t'hy'la, he could concentrate better and was calmer. The young Jim had much the same effect. He did not feel as devastated about the loss of his entire life as he knew it when he was around him. He was not in love with Jim or have any kind of romantic inclinations towards him, even though he was the same person as his t'hy'la. Rather, it was his unwavering belief that Jim would make it all right, as he always had, that was such a comfort. His endearing familiarity made his world seem like it was in less chaos.


Yet, it did not seem to be all right for Jim. For certain, his parents were mistreating him. Although the extent was unclear to him, circumstances logically led to that as the most probable conclusion. Decades of knowing Jim had made him suspect it the first day, and he had decided that it was necessary to keep a close eye on him and investigate.


Keeping a close eye on him was important, regardless. Nero was out there somewhere. Nero, who knew that Jim was more important than anyone else in the universe to him. The troubled Romulan seemed set on revenge when he chased him through the black hole, and the transmissions he'd been sent had cemented that. Spock knew from experience how single-minded Romulans could be about those things. It was highly unlikely that he would give up on the idea. If he knew that Spock was here, he would hunt Jim down to make him suffer, so that Spock would suffer. Then he would kill Jim. That was completely unacceptable. As soon as Spock ascertained what year it was, and calculated all the risks, he realized it was necessary to protect Jim personally. No one else would have the technology to stand up to Nero, or even know Jim was in danger. He would have to do it. Not that it was a chore by any means. There was nothing he'd prefer to do.


So he had come up with a plan. He would move down the road from Jim. He'd deck his house out with all the technology he knew. He'd hide the Jellyfish in the back yard. He'd try to subtly as possible give Jim his contact information, and make him feel that he could use it in the event he starting seeing things that scared him and could be connected to Nero. He hid phasers in places where he knew he could get them easily. His speeder had a full arsenal of things he could use in an emergency at a moment's notice. He kept a low profile, not wanting to attract attention, but at the same time he tried to keep connected to everything that was going on so he could be forewarned, if possible, if Nero came. He could never be too cautious. This morning had just been an example of his need to keep a close eye on things. What if Jim decided to run away from home, made the national or even galactic news in their search for him, and it came to Nero's attention? The odds were not low enough to be comfortable. Right now, Jim was out of sight, out of mind, as far as Spock knew. That could change any moment.


Even so, even if Jim had not needed his protection from Nero, and possible intervention with his home life, Spock would still want to be around. He would not have perhaps been so forward about it, without the pressing need to be aware of everything, but he would still want Jim in his life, very much. The years after Jim went into the Nexus, then died, had been very hard. He had never loved anyone so much as he had loved Jim. Meeting his younger, alternate self seemed like a precious second chance to be in his life and give back to him what was given him, and make up for his lapse with the whole Nexus situation. He'd like nothing better than to save Jim from the more horrible experiences of his life, like Tarsus IV. Now he could do that. He could watch over him, care for him, and protect him. Then everything would be all right.


He could not, of course, tell Jim or anyone any of this. Therefore, it required much exaggerating and truth stretching to accomplish everything he needed to do. It was not something he preferred, but it was necessary.


Spock finished his preparations for Jim in the room, altering it a bit so that it was more to Jim's preferences as a child, and went back out to the living room. Seeing Jim engrossed with his comm, Spock gently interrupted him. "Jim, I have prepared a room for you, first door on the right down the hall. It has its own bathroom. I have also replicated everything you need - bathroom supplies, clothes, and later when you feel like it, your dinner. I will not impose a bedtime upon you. However, in light of your illness, I suggest you take this time to rest."


"Thank you, Spock. I'll be right there," said Jim. He felt a bit strange and awkward. He was not used to being waited on like this, and felt like he was being a nuisance. "Is there anything I can do for you?"


"There is no need to thank me, Jim. As I am well and you are not, it is only logical that I take care of things in your stead. There is nothing you need to do. One of the perks of being a scientist, is having the most advanced technology at my disposal and being licensed to use it. Will you keep a secret?"


Jim swelled a bit with pride at the thought of Spock trusting him with a secret. "Yes," he promised.


"My grasp of the sciences is so advanced that I am I licensed to have my own transporter. It is installed in the far corner of my house. I find it inadvisable for this to be common knowledge, however."


Jim nodded, finding that he really was not all that surprised. He was beginning to feel that Spock literally knew everything. Advanced transporter mechanics was probably the equivalent to kindergarten to him. He probably mumbled pi in his sleep. Jim fought back a smile at the thought.


"I know it is early, but I will take my leave of you at this time. It is my habit to meditate. Do not hesitate to interrupt me for any reason. Goodnight, Jim." Spock allowed himself a tiny smile. He would be able to meditate better with Jim around.


"Goodnight, Spock," said Jim. He smiled to himself for a moment, then returned to his messaging.


A while later, when Ben and Gary both had to sign off, he decided to go to his room. First one on the right, he'd said. Jim opened the door and turned on the light.


The sight before him stopped in his tracks. He'd expected the rather sterile, impersonal decor of the rest of the house. Not so with his room. In fact, it was so much to his liking it seemed custom-made to his desires. For the first time, Jim seriously considered the idea that the older man had the ability to read his mind.


The walls were blue. The ceiling had the glow in the dark stars that he'd always wanted but Frank would never let him have. There were shelves and shelves lining the walls with antiques - mostly books - that must have cost a fortune and been very difficult to find. He scanned the titles. Some were unfamiliar, but most were ones he'd been dying to have. There was a huge window on one side. Posters were on the wall with his favorite sports teams and fictional characters. He even had his own gaming terminal in the corner. Then he noticed the door to the bathroom. He went in, noting it was done up in all his favorite colors - blue, black, and gold. There were starships on the shower curtain. Jim stepped back, overcome with emotion. It seemed that this was a huge coincidence, or Spock had somehow guessed correctly what he'd like and went through much time and expense to make sure this was to his liking in the event he would ever stay there. He wandered over to the bed and sat down, still stunned. Either he was dreaming, or Gary was right - there was something a bit too weird about Spock. But Jim had no wish to complain. However he knew what he knew, he obviously cared a great deal about him. That in itself was a real treasure. He just wished he knew how he'd earned all this from him. That was a real mystery.


He changed into his pajamas, shorts and a shirt that said, "Go Climb a Rock." He grinned to himself. He'd always wanted to go rock climbing. Especially free climbing.


As he sank into his pillows, he wished this could last forever. At the same time, he was excited for tomorrow. He'd only been outside of Iowa a few times, and never so far as Georgia. Jim slept surprisingly well for someone coughing and sneezing so often. The security of being in Spock's house overrode much of his agitation with his cold.


He woke up the next morning with a coughing fit but feeling rather boneless and relaxed all the same. He stared at the starry ceiling, momentarily confused. Then he remembered, and smiled to himself.


A few minutes later, he heard a knock at the door. "Jim," Spock called.


"Yes, Mr. Spock? Come in," said Jim, gratified at the respect Spock was showing by asking permission.


Spock came in, looking pleased to see him as usual. "I merely wished to ascertain that you were awake. We will need to leave in 45 minutes if we are to make your appointment on time. I have replicated breakfast for the both of us."


Jim nodded happily. He got out of bed and followed him to the dining room, which lacked personality as much as the rest of the house did, with the exception of his room. The wonder of last night came back to him, and he sat down absentmindedly, picking at his food. He felt too excited and rather too sick to eat.


"Would something else be more to your preference?" asked Spock, a slightly confused tone slipping in his voice.


Jim met his gaze thoughtfully. Spock had, once again, somehow figured out his favorite breakfast, pancakes with chocolate chips with whipped cream on top, made in his favorite recipe. How he'd managed that with the replicator he didn't know. "No, it's my favorite."


Spock looked as relieved as an emotionally suppressed Vulcan could look.


"It's just, I'm not feeling so good so I don't feel like eating as much," Jim explained. He decided to change the subject. "My room..." he started, not sure how to phrase his question. His voice cracked in an embarrassing fashion. He hoped Spock didn't see how much it had meant to him. He would probably think it was pathetic.


"Is it not to your preference?" asked Spock, his tone suggesting he thought it doubtful that it wasn't.


"No, it definitely is! It's great. I just wanted to know...." his voice trailed off, unsure how to finish the sentence.


"How I knew everything you liked?"


"Yes," confirmed Jim, relieved that Spock had figured it out. He also wanted to know how he'd gotten it all there on such short notice, but didn't want to seem rude.


Spock shifted a bit and frowned. Jim suddenly got the feeling that the Vulcan was about to bullshit him a bit. As to why, he had no idea.


"Much of the room was already that way, by happy coincidence," he explained. "I also ascertained some of your preferences with your mother. I had hoped you would spend time here in the future, so I put the antiques in your room, which had previously been in storage, knowing you would like them. It was no trouble, Jim," he said, correctly guessing what Jim had opened his mouth to say. "I merely wished to make you comfortable here. I have extensive assets and no one to share them with. Permit me to indulge myself in this."


Jim did not know what to say. His heart warmed, though. It was obvious that the old man genuinely wanted him here, as strange as that was. "I really like it, thanks," said Jim shyly.


Spock's eyes glimmered as he finished his breakfast of reddish leaves Jim did not recognize but assumed were Vulcan. Jim forced himself to finish, not wanting to disappoint Spock. When he finished, he put his dishes in the dishwasher and then went to his bathroom.


When he was ready, he could not find Spock anywhere. So he knocked on random doors, calling out for him until he found the correct one.


"Yes, Jim?" he heard.


"I'm ready to go," he said, holding back a cough.


"I will be out shortly. Go in the last door on the right and wait for me."


"Okay," said Jim. He followed the directions and pushed the door open. True to Spock's word, there was a small transporter platform that took up much of the room. It could take maybe three people. Jim looked it over without touching anything. He hadn't seen very many, but it sure looked much more advanced than anything he'd seen before.


Spock arrived a few minutes later, looking pleased at Jim's interest in the transporter. "I can explain it to you later, if you are interested. However, we must go now."


He gestured for Jim to step on the transporter. He'd never traveled by one before so he was a little nervous and excited about it. Spock pressed several buttons, then took his place by Jim's side. Jim waited in high anticipation. He was going to Georgia!


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