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Jean-Luc Picard had never been a meddler in the lives of others. Oh, as a starship captain, he had certainly been involved in many beings’ lives, but he had never tried to make certain events happen or tried to change certain people’s fates. He always believed that the universe knew what it was doing when it came to the big issues.

 

He believed that until the day he watched James T. Kirk die.

 

 

 

It was four months after Kirk’s death, four months since Kirk had left the Nexus and helped Picard defeat Soran. Jean-Luc had taken leave and traveled back to Earth. He had a call to make, and he had to make it in person.

 

 

 

“I see.” The tall, austere figure sitting across from Picard in the comfortable living room of his Arizona home looked down at his clasped hands.

 

Picard looked at Ambassador Spock, saddened that he had been forced to bring this news to a man who had done so much for the Federation in the last century. “I am very sorry,” he said quietly, “but I felt you would wish to personally know Captain Kirk’s fate. I know that the two of you were the best of friends…” He broke off as a choked sound came from the figure sitting across from him. Spock raised his head, and to his utter astonishment, Picard saw tears in the lustrous dark eyes.

 

“We…we were much more than friends,” Spock managed to say. He drew a deep breath, obviously trying to get himself under control. “We…for almost thirty-five years, we were…t’hy’la.” His voice fell to a whisper as he said the last word.

 

Picard leaned forward. “I’m sorry; I do not know that word.”

 

Spock’s breathing was ragged. “It is Old High Vulcan,” he managed to say. It means…friend, brother….” His tortured eyes met Picard’s. “Lover.”

 

Picard stared at him, shocked. Oh, not by the idea—this was the 24th century, after all, and same-sex unions had been commonplace for more than 300 years. He had simply never heard any gossip or rumors about the former captain of the Enterprise and his Vulcan First Officer. But then, he supposed, there would be no reason why he would have known. It was a long time ago.

 

“I am sorry,” he said, feeling just how inadequate those words were. “I did not know.”

 

Spock seemed slightly calmer. He nodded. “Most people did not,” he observed. “We did not hide it, but—largely in deference to my wish for privacy—we did not publicize it. Those closest to us knew, but…” his throat worked for a moment, “they are all dead.”

 

Picard’s mind ran through the list: Lady Amanda, Leonard McCoy, Montgomery Scott, Nyota Uhura, Hiraku Sulu…He nodded again.

 

“I understand.” He hesitated, uncertain of his next move. “Again, I am sorry, Ambassador. Perhaps…perhaps I should not have come here.”

 

No.” Spock looked at him. “No,” he said more softly. “I…I want to know. Please.” He rose and crossed to the sofa where Picard sat, settling himself next to the other man. He raised one long-fingered hand towards Picard’s temple.

 

“This is a most…personal request,” he said quietly, “but, if you would permit?”

 

Picard nodded, understanding completely. “Of course,” he replied softly. “Of course.”

 

Spock’s eyes closed as the fingers reached Picard’s meld points. “My mind to your mind…”

 

 

 

A long time later, Picard came back to himself. Spock was still seated next to him, no longer touching, staring straight ahead. The silent tears ran down the dark face, a waterfall of grief. Picard sat helpless, unable to think of a single word to say in the face of this overwhelming agony.

 

“If I had known…” he heard Spock whisper.

 

“If you had known?”

 

Spock’s tortured eyes turned to him. “I would have found the Nexus,” he said with simple finality. “I would have found a way to join him. We could have been together—forever, or we could have died together when you battled Soran.” He bowed his head, his whole body shaking under the force of long-unfelt emotions. Even when facing the Borg, Picard had never felt as totally inadequate as he did in this moment.

 

Finally, Spock raised his head. “I must apologize,” he said. “Your kindness in coming here is greatly appreciated, and…” Spock fought, and won, his battle for control. “Thank you for being with him at the end. I am in your debt. Because of you, he did not die alone.”

 

Because of me, he did not stay safely in the Nexus, Picard thought sadly, but he did not say it.  He rose, as did Spock.

 

“Ambassador, if there is anything I can do…” Spock shook his head.

 

“I thank you, but it is not necessary,” he replied with quiet dignity. “Thank you again for coming and for what you did for Jim.”

 

Picard hesitated for another moment. “He…he died saving billions of lives,” he finally said softly. “That counts for something.”

 

For a long moment, Spock was silent. “It should count for much, Captain.” His gaze was desolate as his eyes rested on Picard. “I am afraid it does not, not to me.”

 

 

 

In the months to come, Jean-Luc used his contacts within the Federation to keep himself informed about Ambassador Spock. He could not get the Vulcan out of his mind. During their meld, he had felt such overwhelming love, such utter desolation, such heart-breaking loneliness within Spock that he could not imagine how any being could bear up under the burden. It soon became obvious, based on what he was hearing, that Spock was not bearing up at all. The Ambassador had taken a leave of absence, both from his diplomatic duties and from the seminars he still taught at Starfleet Academy. He was seldom seen in public. As far as Picard could discover, Spock was living like a hermit, mourning his dead love.

 

 

 

Spock knelt on the flagstone patio behind his home. This house had had been chosen by Jim long ago, purchased as a surprise for Spock so the Vulcan would have somewhere to “bake his old bones,” as Jim had teasingly told him the first time he had brought Spock here and handed him the deed. Jim had loved it because it was close to the museums and culture of Tucson, as well as having barns for his beloved horses; Spock had loved it for the dry heat and the magnificent, severe scenery, so like parts of Vulcan.

 

The sun beat down on Spock’s head, but he still felt cold. He always felt cold now, cold inside and out. He had tried to go on, tried to use meditation and Vulcan discipline, as well as the memories of a lifetime of love, to nourish him, to heal him, to give him the strength to do what he knew Jim would have wanted. They had always faced the fact that this day would come; Jim’s human lifespan would never match Spock’s Vulcan one. When Jim had been lost on that ridiculous mission aboard the Enterprise-B, Spock had mourned deeply and fiercely, but somehow, this was worse, so much worse.

 

He was alive all these years. I could have found him. I could have been with him. Even if Picard had found us and brought us out of the Nexus, I could have held him in my arms once more, said good-bye as we should have been able to, lay down beside him and let myself die with him, let our katras mingle in the dust of the universe. Spock shuddered, burying his face in his hands. He could not rid himself of the picture he had seen in Picard’s mind—Jim Kirk, lying twisted and broken on that mangled bridge, the victim of yet another madman, looking up at Picard with that brave, cocky grin.

 

“It was fun.” How like Jim to say that, how like him to meet death with such courage and humor. Spock knew he was not honoring Jim’s memory with his excessive grief, but he simply did not care. He could no longer pretend.

 

His ears heard the rattle. He looked up, seeing the snake coiled nearby.

 

“Go ahead,” he said quietly, even as he knew that he was immune to rattlesnake venom. Even the wildlife here conspired against him, denied him what he craved. “If you strike, at least I will feel something.”

 

Spock buried his face in his hands again and mourned, only the snake keeping him company.

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of yet another shift, Jean-Luc sat in his ready room, sipping Earl Grey and reading the latest e-message from one of his friends on Earth, an old classmate who still taught at the Academy. There was no news. Ambassador Spock was still walled up in his Arizona home, still cut off from the world.

 

Jean-Luc set down his cup. Even his favorite tea had no flavor tonight. If there was only something I could do, he thought, as he had thought so many times in the past months. If only…

 

“Ah, but there is, mon capitaine!”

 

Suddenly, Jean-Luc was not alone. Standing in front of his desk, dressed (as he often was) in a Starfleet uniform, stood Q, the being who had wrecked havoc on Picard and his crew more than once. The dark eyes were sparkling, and there was a huge, self-satisfied grin on the smug face.

 

Picard shot to his feet, ready to call Worf and the rest of his Security team. But Q’s upraised hand stopped him.

 

“Oh, really, Jean-Luc, calm yourself. I am not here to damage your precious ship or your precious crew.” Q shook his head. “As many times as we’ve met, have I ever done you any permanent harm? I will admit, the first time we encountered each other I really did want to kill you. But you’ve grown on me, Jean-Luc. I almost consider you a friend—or at least a favorite pet.”

 

Picard sat down slowly; Q seated himself in the chair on the other side of the desk. For a moment, the two regarded each other in silence.

 

“All right, Q, I’ll bite,” Picard said.

 

Q drew back in affected horror. “Well, I would hope not,” he sniffed. “Really, you humans and your violent tendencies.”

 

Picard had to snort; Q was a trickster, a capricious would-be deity, and a galaxy-class pain in the ass, but he was occasionally amusing.

 

“Let me rephrase that,” Picard noted. “Why are you here?”

 

“I am here to grant your wish,” Q announced. “I am here to help you to help the valiant, heartbroken Ambassador Spock.”

 

“And just what do you propose to do?” Picard asked.

 

Q flapped a careless hand. “Why, bring his t’hy’la back to life, of course.”

 

For a long moment, Picard just stared at him. “You are completely insane.”

 

“Oh, now really, Jean-Luc; you know me better than that.” Q rolled his eyes dramatically. “I may have delusions of godhood, but other than that, I’m quite mentally sound.” He shrugged. “I am completely serious. If you want me to help Starfleet’s brave Achilles and Patroclus—that would be the nearest classical parallel, I think—then I can do it.” He smiled. “Of course, there is a price.”

 

Picard smiled. Now they were on familiar ground. “Of course.” He leaned back in his chair. “All right,” he continued. “What can you do, and what is your price?”

 

Q told him. Picard’s jaw dropped.

 

“You’re what?”

 

“You heard me,” Q said, looking suddenly uncomfortable, almost shy. Q, shy? “I am…attracted to, infatuated with…all right, crazy mad in love with Lt. Moira O’Killian, your xenobiologist. At least, I think I am. I don’t understand anything about humans and their romantic traditions. I’ve read some of the literature, but frankly it makes no sense at all. I can’t even figure out if I’m supposed to pay for dinner. I don’t even eat dinner. I don’t even eat!”

 

“And you expect me to act as your…”

 

“Panderer?” Q smirked. “Oh, heaven forbid, Jean-Luc. You’d be the wrong one to ask, that’s for sure. You’re as sexless as a neutered tribble. If all I wanted was a quick…” he made a very obscene finger gesture… “I’d ask your Klingon for help. He could knock her out and tie her up in a second, not to mention giving me ideas for positions and techniques that would short-circuit her entire nervous system. I don’t know if you know this, but Klingons are kinky. That’s not what I’m looking for.” Q suddenly looked very serious. “I want you to help me…woo her.”

 

Picard was intrigued but wary. “And what if she turns you down? Do you punish her? Punish me? Kill Kirk again?”

 

Another smirk fluttered across Q’s lips. “Well, I’d like to do all three.” He looked crestfallen. “However, I spoke to the Continuum about my…interest…in the lovely Moira. They would only accept a human into the clan, so to speak, if she came willingly, so they told me that if I want to win her, I have to behave…”Q all but gagged on the word “honorably.”

 

“I see.” Picard sat deep in thought for a moment. “Of course, regarding your other condition…Ambassador Spock would have to agree freely to that. I cannot make that choice for him.”

 

Q simply looked at him. “Do you think he will decline?”

 

Picard remembered the tortured individual he had seen. “No. I’m sure he will agree. I just want it understood that if he does not, you cannot hurt him, either. Once again, you will have to be honorable.”

 

Q sighed. “You humans are no damned fun at all. But yes, I agree. As long as I’m behaving myself, I might as well go all the way.”

 

Picard stood. “Very well.” He looked at Q. “I’ll need to talk to my command crew—and to Lt. O’Killian.”

 

 

 

Picard’s people thought he was taking a terrible risk, but he managed to persuade Guinan, who had ‘connections’ within the Q Continuum, to verify Q’s claims about his motives and the restrictions placed on him by the Continuum. Picard also talked to Lt. O’Killian and found, much to his surprise, that she was genuinely interested in ‘dating’ Q. But then, Moira was a law unto herself. As one of only a handful of Deltan/human hybrids, she had telepathic powers as strong as any Vulcan (inherited, she never failed to inform people, from her Celtic, human father), as well as the almost irresistible charisma and appeal of her Deltan mother. Half the crew, male and female, were in love with her.

 

“Captain, I am an anthropologist and sociologist as well as a xenobiologist,” the striking auburn-haired woman noted. “This is an opportunity the likes of which I never dreamed.”

 

“But there is some danger,” Picard warned her.

 

The green eyes sparkled. “Yes. I’ve read the briefings on Q and his ilk. But if Guinan says he has to behave, I believe her.” She grinned. “And I’ll be able to ‘read’ him well enough to know if his intentions are honorable. And if they’re not, well, he’d better not try anything, or my grandmother will send the haunts after him.”

 

Picard had to smile at that. He’d once met Lt. O’Killian’s grandmother at a Starfleet function, and he’d threatened his life if he didn’t watch out for her “wee one.” Somehow, he wasn’t sure that even Q was a match for her.

 

“Very well, Moira,” he said. “Q is coming with us to Veridian III. You’ll have plenty of time to get acquainted.”

 

 

 

Getting Kirk’s body was easy. Picard simply persuaded Starfleet brass that the hero of the Nexus deserved burial on Earth. He’d also privately contacted the Vulcan High Council, and they had added their own pressure. It turned out that legally, James T. Kirk, by virtue of his (long-ago and very private) bonding to a Vulcan, was also a Vulcan citizen, and the powers that be on Vulcan felt he deserved more than a lonely grave on an isolated planet.

 

The latest incarnation of the Enterprise arrived at Veridian III, and an away team beamed down and retrieved Kirk’s body. Picard was privately thankful that when he’d buried Kirk, he had placed him in one of the few available stasis coffins on board the old Enterprise. At the time, Picard had thought it was a gesture of respect worthy of such a hero. Now, however, he was simply glad that Kirk’s body had been preserved.

 

“Oh, come now, Jean-Luc,” Q observed as they sat in Picard’s ready room, preparing to warp out of orbit. “You humans worry about the silliest issues. If I can raise him from the dead, I could certainly repair a bit of cellular damage.”

 

“I still don’t believe you can raise him from the dead,” Picard snapped back, suddenly concerned again. What had he gotten himself into?

 

Q just sighed. “I already explained that to you. For thousands of year, the Continuum has been the guardian of Vulcan katras. There was some kind of treaty between us, so long ago that frankly, I’m not sure either side remembers why we decided to play nice with each other. But the fact remains, I already located Kirk’s katra; he’s lucky he was bonded to a Vulcan, or he wouldn’t have one. Getting my hands on a soul is a whole different set of paperwork. In any event, I can put his katra back where it belongs.” He threw Picard an arch look. “Assuming, of course, that Spock is willing to pay my fee.”

 

That was the one part of the deal Picard had no doubts about. So he simply moved on to the next subject. “Since my part of the bargain involves your, shall we say, social life, how are you and Lt. O’Killian getting along? Any problems?”

 

Q made a face. “I don’t understand her.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “Do you know what she did last night?”

 

Picard wasn’t totally sure he wanted to know, but he’d agreed to help, so he leaned forward as well. “What?”

 

“She…she put her mouth on mine!” Q was indignant. “Yuck! What if I came down with some human disease? Of course, I’m not susceptible to any human diseases, but still…”

 

Picard chuckled. “Q. She kissed you. Haven’t you read anything about kissing?”

 

That’s kissing?” Q was incredulous. “That’s what you humans spend all your time doing, or trying to do, or wishing you could do?”

 

“Well, there’s more involved than just kissing, but it is usually considered the first step.” Picard considered matters for a moment. “Q, have you ever…kissed anyone before?”

 

“No!”

 

“Well, then take it from me, like many human activities, it improves with practice.” Picard winked. “Try it again.”

 

Q left, shaking his head over the oddities of human social rituals.

 

 

 

Later that very evening, Q and Moira were on the holo-deck together, having a picnic in what looked like a flower-strewn meadow (Q had been reading the Twilight series again). Q sighed, frustrated.

 

“I sense you are unhappy,” Moira said calmly, eating another grape.

 

Q sighed. “I never should have gotten involved with a telepath, or empath, or whatever you are,” he grumped. “It’s not fair. You’re always rummaging through my mind. I like to be mysterious.”

 

Moira shrugged. “Even an ordinary human female would be able to read your mood.” She looked at the being next to her. “What do you really want?” she asked gently.

 

“I…I don’t know,” Q admitted. “I thought I was in love with you, but I guess I don’t know the meaning of the word.”

 

Moira nodded. “I agree with that.” She thought for a moment. “Do you enjoy my company?”

 

“You’re quite interesting…for a limited species, of course,” he added hastily. No need to let the girl get an ego.

 

Moira’s lips twitched. “I am gratified that you find me so,” she answered gravely. She was silent for a few moments.

 

“May I ask you a question?” she finally said. At Q’s nod, she continued, “Why did you come to Captain Picard about Ambassador Spock and Captain Kirk? What attracts you to their story?”

 

Q was silent for a long time. When he finally spoke, his voice was very quiet, almost subdued. “I guess…I guess I find them both so interesting—and so courageous. Their relationship was considered rather odd by you humans…”

 

“I am not a human,” Moira said with a twinge of amusement.

 

“All right, their relationship was considered odd by humans, but they never let that stop them. Kirk sacrificed everything for that stoic Vulcan of his, and I suspect Spock will do the same for Kirk if needed.” Q actually looked sad. “No one really understands me either, you know. Humans hate me; Guinan and her people loathe me, and even the Continuum thinks I’m sort of a throwback, what with my craving for sensation, my interest in emotions…” He shrugged.

 

“But you are attracted to the love between Spock and Kirk,” Moira noted.

 

“Yes. So?”

 

She smiled at him. “Did it ever occur to you that I may be the wrong…gender?”

 

Q looked at her for a long moment, and then he slowly nodded.

 

Moira leaned back, mischief in her gaze. “Q, did I ever tell you about my twin brother?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lying on his bed, staring at nothing, as he had night after night, Spock heard something, a vibration too faint to be called a noise. Old warriors—especially Starfleet warriors—never lose their skills. Spock was out of bed and in the living room, fully armed, before the vibrations had faded.

 

He dropped the phaser at the sight which met his eyes when the motion-activated lights came on.

 

There in his living room, stood Captain Jean-Luc Picard, accompanied by a humanoid with a faint smirk on his face and mischief in his dark eyes. With them was—a stasis coffin.

 

“Ambassador,” Picard said quietly, “I apologize for the late and—unorthodox—call.” He indicated Q. “This—gentleman—has a proposition for you.”

 

Spock scarcely heard him, his entire attention fixed on the shiny, dark oval box. “Jim.”

 

“Precisely,” Q said smugly.

 

Spock walked over to the box and placed one gentle hand on the cover. Of their own volition, his fingers unerringly found the controls, and the lid slid back to reveal James T. Kirk, his body wrapped in the faint blue glow of the stasis field.

 

Spock reached out with one shaking hand. His fingers pushed through the field and gently stroked the cold, waxen cheek of his beloved. “Jim,” he whispered. He raised tearless eyes to the two men. “Why did you bring him here?” he asked Picard. “Why did you remove him from his grave? So I could see him once more?”

 

“Not exactly,” Picard said gently. He took Spock’s arm and guided him to the couch. “I think you should sit down and hear this.”

 

Spock sank onto the couch, his eyes never leaving Jim’s body. He finally looked at Q, somehow sensing that this being was the key to the puzzle. “Explain,” he said.

 

Q did so. He explained who he was and how the Continuum had custody of Vulcan katras. Spock simply nodded; to his surprise, Picard realized that this was not news to the Vulcan.

 

“I have his katra, Spock,” Q told him. “I’m carrying it within myself right now.” Picard jerked; this was news to him.

 

Spock’s hand shot out and grasped Q’s chin. The being looked at him eagerly.

 

“You’re not going to kiss me, are you?” He sounded frankly hopeful.

 

Spock ignored him, staring into his face, ‘listening’ for something no one in the room could hear. After a moment, he dropped his hand, plainly shaken to his very core.

 

“You…you are telling the truth.”

 

Q sniffed. “Like I’d try to lie to a Vulcan. Yes; I have his katra; his body’s right there, and we can fuse the two.” He threw Spock a sudden teasing glance. “You should know that, Spock; your people once did it for you.”

 

Spock seemed dazed. “You…you will bring him back.”

 

“On one condition,” Q replied.

 

Spock’s eyes went to him, bitterness in their depths. “Of course. What condition?” The dazed lover was gone. The steel-sharp mind of a very experienced Vulcan was bearing down on Q.

 

Q sighed dramatically. “Why does everyone always think the worst of me? Don’t answer,” he snapped at Picard, who snorted. “My price is simple, Mr. Spock.” He looked thoughtfully at the Vulcan. “Your statistical remaining lifespan is approximately 110 years,” he informed the Spock. “I do not know if you will live that long, longer, or not quite so long. I’m not a god; I can’t predict the day you’ll die. But you should have around 110 years left to play with.”

 

“Go on.” Spock was wary.

 

“As you know from when it happened to you, putting a katra back in the host body is very involved, and takes great energy. Even I can’t do it with my powers alone, and I doubt if the Vulcan priesthood will want to let me in on their secrets.” Q took a deep breath. “If I do this, I must draw from your life force and give that to Kirk. It will bind you two together, even more closely than your precious Vulcan bond of t’hy’la. It will slice your remaining life span in half; instead of 110 years, you’ll have about 55. Kirk will live exactly as long as you do. The two of you will die at the same time. If you get sick and die, he dies again. If you get yourself eaten by a le-matya or shot by a Romulan, he dies. If you just die from old age, it will be 55 years from now instead of more than a century, and Kirk will die with you then.” Q arched one eyebrow, looking almost Vulcan for a moment. “Are you ready to give up half your remaining years to your dead love?”

 

Spock never hesitated. Picard had known he would not.

 

“Yes,” Spock breathed, joy lighting his face. “Oh, yes.”

 

 

 

By dawn, it was done. James T. Kirk, dead hero, lay on the bed he had shared with his t’hy’la so long ago, breathing peacefully in sleep. Spock lay at his side, drained but joyous. He could feel Kirk’s bond within him; he knew that the man at his side was no trick, no mirage. He looked at the foot of the bed, where Q and Picard stood.

 

“There are no words,” he said.

 

Picard shook his head. “None are needed,” he assured Spock. He looked at the two men, side by side again, as they were meant to be. “After all that you, both of you, have done for the Federation, you deserve this chance.”

 

Spock nodded, accepting that. His eyes went to Q. The being shrugged.

 

“I’ve had my fun,” he said. “Wait until I tell the Continuum I performed a fal tor pan, on a human, no less. I’ll be a legend among the Q, the one who brought James T. Kirk back to life.” He raised a hand in farewell; for once, his eyes held no mockery.

 

“Use your years well, Spock,” he said quietly. “They are truly a gift.”

 

He turned to Picard, the grin returning. “Let’s go, Jean-Luc. I’ve got a hot date waiting at Starbase Three. Moira is setting me up with her brother.”

 

Q and Picard winked out of sight. Spock, exhausted, curled up next to his love and fell into a deep sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Kirk woke gradually from the best dream he’d had in a long, long time. He was home, home in Arizona, lying in the bed he’d shared with his bond mate, his t’hy’la, the other half of his soul. He could feel the cool early morning breeze blowing across his skin; he could hear the cheerful chatter of the native birds as they settled into their roosts. There was a long, warm body lying next to his, one arm secure around him, and it carried the scents of green tea and Vulcan incense—Spock’s scent. If he lived to be a thousand, Jim would never forget that scent, for it meant “love.”

 

If he lived…

 

But…but I’m dead, he thought, suddenly bewildered. He remembered it all—Picard’s plea for help, the escape from the Nexus, the frantic pitched battle with Soran, the fall, the pain, Picard’s hand warm on his as he felt his life seeping away, the final thought, Spock, I’m sorry love. I hope I’ll find you somewhere…then the darkness.

 

Slowly, unwillingly, Kirk opened his eyes and looked around. He was not in a grave; he was not in the Nexus, either. He knew that at once, because Spock was with him, but an older Spock, a Spock he had never known. The Spock who had visited the Nexus, the one he had occasionally conjured up from his imagination when the loneliness became too great, had been the exact age Spock was on the day Jim had left for the Enterprise B’s maiden voyage. The man lying next to him was older, his face marked with great pain, his hair frosted at the temples. But it was still Spock. It…was…Spock.

 

“Spock?” The whisper was almost inaudible, but the ears of love heard it at once. The dark eyes opened and met Jim’s amber gaze.

 

“Jim,” Spock breathed. “My Jim.”

 

“Spock?” Kirk whispered again. He reached out with one shaking hand and laid it against the warm cheek. The touch convinced him. “Spock. Ashaya!”

 

Jim found himself in Spock’s arms, being showered with frantic kisses. Jim wrapped his arms around Spock and matched him kiss for kiss, letting his hungry lips gorge on the feeling of Spock’s skin beneath them. Jim could taste tears, but he didn’t know if they were his or Spock’s. All he knew was the strength of Spock’s arms, the warmth of his lips, the ecstasy of his love once again flooding Jim’s being.

 

At last, the two drew apart long enough for Jim to gasp, “Spock, what happened? I don’t understand.” He shivered with the sudden memory. “I…I died, Spock. I was dead; I’m sure of it.” He buried his face in Spock’s warm shoulder, once again afraid that this was all some crazy, Nexus-induced dream. Or perhaps this was Heaven, to dream of Spock again, to see him, feel him, taste him so plainly. Jim had never been sure that Heaven was real, but if Spock was with him now, it must exist. He felt a soothing hand stroke his hair.

 

“It is all right, t’hy’la,” he heard the tender voice whisper in his ear. “I understand. It is all very confusing, but believe me, my dearest love. It is real. You have come back to me.” The voice broke, and Spock’s arms tightened around him. “You have come back.”

 

For a long time, they simply lay together. It was as if neither could get enough of the feel of their bodies pressed together, the sound of their soft breathing filling the room. Finally, Spock drew back slightly, raising Jim’s face to his.

 

“I have much to tell you, t’hy’la,” he said tenderly, “but I must care for you first. Your body is drained from the fal tor pan.”

 

Jim shivered. “It’s real? You brought me back, back to life?” Spock shook his head.

 

“Not me, t’hy’la, not alone. I had help.” He kissed Jim once more, very gently, and then rose from the bed. “Rest, ashaya. I am going to get us both some food.”

 

Over a very large breakfast in bed (consumed with difficulty, since both men stopped frequently to hold each other, to exchange tender kisses, to caress each other’s features), Spock explained what had happened, who Q was and how he and Picard had brought Jim’s body and katra here, to be reunited. By the end of the story, Jim was almost speechless.

 

“You…gave up half the rest of your life?” he asked. “Spock. How could you do that to yourself?” He looked almost angry for a moment. “Did you think I’d want that?”

 

In a flash, he found himself pressed into the mattress, Spock holding him so tightly he could scarcely breathe, the Vulcan’s body shaking with the storm of emotion he tried to control.

 

“You cannot imagine it,” Spock whispered into Jim’s neck. “Oh, t’hy’la, there was nothing for me. You were gone; I was so alone. I would have given anything to see you again, to hold you like this. If Q had offered me only one hour with you, I would have paid his price with joy. To have more years with you, to know that I will never have to live without you again—it is worth any price, my t’hy’la. It is worth the galaxy.”

 

Moved almost to tears, Kirk held his mate, softly caressing the body he so loved, feeling Spock’s thinness, the fragility brought on by long grief and pain. “Hush,” he whispered tenderly. “I understand. I’m sorry, so sorry, love. I never wanted to leave you, and you’re right. This is worth almost any price.” He kissed Spock, letting him feel Jim’s love, feeling the arousal beginning to rise between them. Spock pulled back slightly, looking deep into Jim’s eyes.

 

“Ashaya, you are exhausted, and…” Kirk chuckled.

 

“Never too tired for that, love,” he said, pressing himself closer, letting Spock feel the proof of his words as his hard erection nestled into Spock’s thigh. “Are you going to tell me that after—my god, Spock. How long has it been?”

 

“78 years, seven months, two weeks, four days, three hours, and 40 minutes,” Spock said promptly, leaving Jim torn between laughter and tears.

 

“Oh, love, only you would know down to the minute,” he said fondly. “Are you going to tell me that after that long, you don’t want to feel me again?” He deliberately rubbed his hardness against Spock, loving the gasp his action produced. He pretended to pout. “I mean, I know I’m just a fat old man…” His words were cut off by Spock’s mouth descending on his, Spock’s hands filling themselves with Jim’s hot, aching flesh. Jim moaned as Spock’s fingers worked their magic, bringing him to steel-hardness in just a few strokes. Jim’s own hands were busy, caressing Spock’s arms and shoulders, sliding across his chest and seeking those tender copper nipples, bringing them erect with careful, teasing pinches, letting his mouth wander until first one nub, then the other, was suckled lovingly, Jim’s tongue dancing around those tiny peaks as Spock arched and gasped, his entire body on fire for the first time in so many years. Jim could hear his lover’s moans, hear Spock’s voice as he begged.

 

“Oh, Jim, my Jim, please. Love me, do not stop. Ohhh…”

 

Jim had no intention of stopping. He resumed his journey down Spock’s body, letting his fingers and mouth find every tender spot they knew so well, feasting on Spock like a starving man at a banquet. He gently kissed Spock’s ridged stomach, feeling the muscles quiver beneath his mouth. Then he let his lips go where they wished, let them close over the tip of Spock’s erect cock.

 

“Ahhhh!” Spock gasped, writhing under the tender assault of that mouth. “Oh, t’hy’la…so good….I have dreamed of this…ohh, please, please.”

 

Kirk didn’t tease him; it had been too long for them both. He pleasured Spock with lips and tongue and hands, letting his actions show his love, craving the feel of Spock throbbing in his mouth, the taste and feel of that beloved organ filling Kirk’s senses, Jim coming with a cry of quiet joy as Spock erupted in his mouth, the hot juices flooding Kirk as he rode the Vulcan’s orgasm as if it were his own, and in truth, there was no difference. Each felt the other’s joy.

 

 

 

Hours later, they lay in each other’s arms. The sun was nearly set; the warm western light flooded the room, turning Spock’s skin to bronze and rivaling—but not outdoing—the glow in Jim’s amber eyes.

 

“So,” Jim murmured sleepily, “55 years, huh?”

 

“That is the estimate Q gave,” Spock replied, kissing Jim’s brow yet again. He could not keep his lips off his t’hy’la, even to carry on a conversation.

 

Jim yawned. “Well, a man can do a lot in 55 years.” He yawned again and nestled closer to Spock, craving every inch of contact he could get. “We’ll…go conquer something…later.” He slept. Spock soon followed him into slumber as the full moon rose. For the first time in a very long time, all was right with the universe. All was as it should always be.

 

 

 

Far away, on Starbase Three, another extraordinary story was beginning. But that is a tale for another time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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