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"Live long and prosper, Spock."

"I shall do neither, for I have killed my captain--and my friend."

"Where is he, Bones?" Captain James T. Kirk hissed at his friend the doctor from the room where he'd been hiding for the past half hour. He was waiting for Spock to come back from his horribly aborted wedding on Vulcan, so he could surprise him by being alive after all. But although the transporter team had called Sickbay thirty minutes ago to oblige McCoy's request to be notified of Spock's return, the Vulcan was nowhere to be seen.

"I don't know! It just doesn't make any sense." McCoy hunched against the wall near the doorway, arms folded over his chest. "He told me he would follow us up!"

"He's *here*, Bones, he's just not coming to Sickbay," said Kirk, thinking.

Nurse Chapel hovered nearby looking concerned.

"What could he be doing?" McCoy pondered.

"I don't know," said Kirk. "Try calling his room."

McCoy hit the device on the wall with a few fingers. "McCoy to Spock." He shot a look at Jim. "McCoy to Spock. Come in, Spock. Are you in there?"

"Doctor, it doesn't even sound like your transmission is going through," said Chapel. "The line sounds dead!"

"I don't like this," said Kirk, quickly crossing Sickbay to the exit. "Bones, if you don't hear from me in a half hour send a medical team to Spock's quarters."

McCoy furrowed his brow. "You think it's that bad?"

Kirk, almost out the door, turned to look at him. "There's no way he slept with that girl. And wasn't he supposed to die if he didn't?"

* * * * *

Kirk tried buzzing the door to announce his arrival at Spock's cabin, but as he expected he received no answer. He overrode the door lock and slipped quietly into the room. The lights were very dim and the room was completely silent, oscillating between soothing and ominous. "Spock?" Kirk called in a calm, even tone. No answer. Kirk's eyes darted all around the room, and then he saw him.

Spock lay across his bed flat on his back. He was wearing his black Vulcan robes and his arms rested at his sides. Kirk rushed to him. "Spock!" His eyes were closed. Kirk drew closer. He didn't appear to be breathing. "Spock!!" Kirk took him by the shoulders and shook him around a little, suddenly feeling like he was about to vomit up his own heart.

Almost dreading the result, Kirk tested Spock's pulse at his neck with two fingers. Relieved to find a slow, weak beat plodding along faintly, he temporarily left Spock's side to rush to the computer panels. "Get me Sickbay," he yelled, punching the controls. "Sickbay!!" It was no use; the computer wasn't working.

That was when he saw the note.

Dr. McCoy,

There can be no forgiveness for the crime of which I am guilty. I have therefore elected to end my life using the painless method of stopping my heart with a trance. It will be far more preferable to the death I would have undergone in the last stages of my Pon Farr. I regret damaging the computer equipment in my quarters, but I do not wish my fate to be interfered with. This is the only logical choice for me in this time; what I have destroyed was of greater value to me than anything I have ever known.Please see that my body is given to my parents on Vulcan, and that any property I possess be handed over to Peter Kirk, orphan nephew of the late Captain James T. Kirk.


Jim balled up the note in his hand and ran back to the bed. "Spock, you have to wake up! Spock, it's me! I'm not dead. You didn't kill me. Bones doped me up; I only *looked* dead. Please, Spock." He started shaking the limp form around again. Well, his heart was still going; that meant there was still hope, right? Spock!--

It occurred to Jim that if Spock's heart stopped altogether, he'd have to perform CPR. He lifted Spock off the sheets and peeled away his black robe down to his waist. Spock's bare skin was several degrees cooler than the Vulcan normal, further terrifying his frantic friend.

The heart was still going, and so was Jim's mouth. "Spock, Spock! Don't let me lose you! I won't let you die!" Jim squeezed Spock's hand, trying to work the circulation back into the long, slender fingers. Nothing was working. He began to grow more desperate, more violent. Lifting the Vulcan again off the bed, he shook him harder than he had before, then smacked him in the face. When that didn't appear to work right away, he pulled Spock completely into his arms, cuddling him against his chest, Spock's face nestled into his collarbone. He had to get him warm again. If he could only be warm...

Suddenly he felt the welcome humidity of a warm breath against his neck. "Jim," a very tiny voice rasped.

Still holding Spock as closely as he could, Jim eased him back slightly so that he could look into his face. He was too relieved to speak; he just wanted to see those big brown eyes open to him.

"I dare not ask forgiveness," Spock whispered.

"Spock. It's alright," Jim purred soothingly. "It's not your fault. You couldn't help it, and I understand."

"There was no life without you," Spock answered, still speaking in a half-voice. "I need you."

"I need you too," said Jim, suddenly feeling like he'd never loved anybody this much in his whole life.

"Even after--what I did?" Spock looked at him in wonder. "I cannot forget."

"Yes, Spock, but it's over now. It's all over. We have each other." Jim rubbed his back comfortingly.

"You have come for me," said Spock. "You forgive my crime, and I give myself to you completely."

"That's quite a gift," Jim murmured, nuzzling the space between Spock's neck and shoulders with his nose. Spock's body was beginning to warm up again, and weakly, Spock wrapped his arms completely around Jim.

"Take me away," Spock whispered in his ear. "Eternity with you is almost proof of cosmic grace."

"Almost?" Kirk smiled, amused. Still so very logical...! He was enjoying taking deep breaths of Spock's scent, inhaling and memorizing and loving.

"Even though I am no longer living, I am *still* a Vulcan," Spock replied.

Jim froze, pulled back slightly, and looked at him full in the face. "What?"

"I am surmising that logically, since our mortal forms are still with us, we--"

"No, no, not that. The part about you being dead." He couldn't believe what he was hearing.

Spock looked at him curiously. "We're dead, Jim. I killed you with my own hands, during the ritual combat. Don't you remember?"

Jim was flabbergasted. "Yes, but I wasn't really dead! Bones pumped me full of some kind of neural paralyzer so I'd look dead and T'Pau would get off your back!" Spock's mouth dropped open slightly and hung slack. "We were expecting you to go to Sickbay after you beamed up, and I was waiting for you there."

"You're alive?"

"Yes, Spock, and more importantly, you're alive. Why didn't you know that the minute you woke up?"

"Dr. McCoy tricked T'Pau?"

"I think she knew what he did. She's a smart woman. But I don't think she minded." Jim kept massaging warmth into Spock's back. "The situation was getting extremely out of hand."

"T'Pring was pregnant," Spock commented.

"Yes, I could tell," said Jim. "She's already starting to get defensive beyond all reason, like the mother bird who used to try and peck my eyes out back home in Iowa whenever I rode my horse past her nest."

Spock had lifted his hand and was running one finger lightly over Kirk's lips as the human talked, feeling the life within, wondering at the life within. "Jim," he said. "Thank you."

"I couldn't let you die," said Jim. "I can't imagine going back to a world that doesn't have you in it."

"No friend has ever done as much for me as you have," said Spock. "Do I--deserve--?"

"I'd say that you do, Spock," Kirk smiled. "Now, Spock, before the Sickbay team I told McCoy to send if they didn't hear from me gets here, I have to ask you one thing."

"Yes, Captain?"

Smirked the captain, "Now that we're not dead, do you still love me?"

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