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Kirk found the email on his personal computer at the end of shift.

 

“Captain, a moment of your time, please.  My quarters, at your convenience.

“Spock.”

 

No clue as to what was brewing in that Vulcan brain.  And curiosity would always be one of Kirk’s biggest assets, as well as his most damning quality.

 

At the sound of the door chime, Spock announced, “Enter.”

 

Kirk stumbled over the gravity shelf.  Then he gasped at the heat level, and tried to focus in the dim light.  Opposite the doorway, Spock rose from his position on the floor, dipped his chin to his chest, and scowled at Kirk through his bangs.

 

He wore a long robe, with deep sleeves, and he held his hands with fingertips steepled in front of his chest.  The heat, the darkness, the absence of any standard furnishings, and the barely-restrained fury on Spock’s face made Kirk feel like he had dropped to the lowest recesses of Hell itself.

 

He tried to make himself comfortable with his humor.  “You wanted to see me?”

 

“No.”

 

The humor died a dreadful death.  “I’m sorry, I thought you’d sent me a message…”

 

“I did.”  The disgust was apparent in Spock’s near whisper.

 

“Well, then, Mister Spock, what do you want?”  Kirk desperately tried to revive the humor, but it stayed dead.

 

“I do not want anything.  I especially do not want anything from YOU.”

 

Spock took two, slow, gliding steps towards Kirk, and stood uncomfortably within Kirk’s personal space.  Kirk wanted to step backward, even lean back, but he felt that this situation, whatever was going on, needed him to stand his ground.

 

“Understand something, Captain.  I do NOT want this.  I do not even LIKE you.  I do NOT want THIS.”

 

The heat and gravity were affecting Kirk.  That must be it.  But as he was forced to stare into the Vulcan’s eyes, he saw the anger, yes, but he also saw a deeper sadness.  And that curiosity overcame any apprehension.

 

He uttered, “What is it that you don’t want, Spock?  Tell me.”

 

It felt like a staring contest.

 

Finally, after long moments had passed, Spock moved his right hand from the steepled position, and held it palm facing Kirk.  Gradually, the fingers separated, and he exhaled, “Touch me.”

 

Ah, that curiosity!

 

Kirk mirrored the gesture, and eased his left hand towards Spock’s right hand.  At a hairsbreadth distance, a spark jumped from Spock to Kirk.

 

Kirk jerked his hand away.  “Ouch, goddamn, what was that?”

 

An infinitesimal headshake from Spock as he kept his hand extended.  “Touch me,” he said, as a groan of pain.

 

Kirk extended his left hand again, as though he was approaching a hot stove.  The fingertips met, and then…

 

Kirk didn’t know if he fell, or if he floated.  Spock was still in front of him, still staring with that anger and that sadness, but the two of them had somehow transported to someplace.  Deep space?  Another universe?

 

“No, we are in our minds.  Our minds are touching.”  Nobody had spoken, yet Spock had answered Kirk’s inquiry.

 

The question, “Why?” had barely started to form in Kirk’s brain when it evaporated.  He saw a towheaded little boy, withdrawn from a group of children, and the ache of that loneliness tore at his heart.  He could hear the taunts, the teasing, the jeers, and the pain was piercing.  The zoom lens of his mind’s eye closed in on the boy, and he saw himself.  The memories stung more than the bruises and scrapes that colored the boy’s features.  The view revolved around the child, and his hair darkened and his complexion changed, and Kirk realized he was seeing a young Spock.  There were no injuries, but the isolation was just as excruciating.

 

The strange movie continued to play, and the two boys grew to adulthood.  While the circumstances changed for each one, the feeling of being so soul-shatteringly alone prevailed as the thread through each life.

 

And each man had learned how to adapt, how to grow, how to excel, yet neither one had learned how to overcome that black hole in his soul of being alone.

 

Kirk felt like he had been holding his breath through the entire encounter.  When he exhaled, the memories withdrew and he once again saw Spock staring at him.  Their hands gradually eased apart.

 

There were tear tracks on both men’s faces.  Kirk quickly brushed his away.  Spock stood motionless.

 

Neither spoke.  There was nothing to say.

 

Kirk turned towards the door.  He paused, and said softly, “Spock, what does thyla mean in Vulcan?”

 

Spock’s voice was barely a whisper.  “It’s pronounced t’hy’la.  It means,” he paused, with a shuddering breath, “friend.”

Chapter End Notes:

To my readers: first, let me thank you from the very bottom of my heart for reading my work!

Then I need to explain.  When I first began here at the K/S Archives, I had no idea what my direction would take.  I wrote my first little story, and received wonderful encouragement here!  So I wrote another little story.  And another.  And another.  They were all linked.  I DID go back and put the stories in series, but it is still difficult for many to follow just what in the Hell is going on!

Not only have I gotten carried away, I’ve taken a lot of people with me!  So here is the sequence:

Friend—Team—Spark—Interplay—Gotcha—Newbies—Remedy—History—Addedum—Green—Pledge—Alliance—Consortium (series Provenance)

Favorites—Abysm—Misery—Details—Reprise—Faces—Scroll—Entwine—Answer (series Paramount)

Rose—Three—Curls—Kiss—Goal—Toll—Conclusion (series Progression)

For anyone wishing to read the whole mess in one shot, contact me.  I’ll send it to you in an email.

And once again, I thank every single person who has read my stories here.  I love you al!  ~AKO

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