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How long had he been sitting there? Fingertips pressed together, eyes closed and lost in thought. In the bed he was sitting on lay his partner, James Kirk. He was old and weak and soon Jim would have to leave him, for ever. The years they had shared with each other, had been wonderful but also difficult and everything that he had done and everything that he ... they had decided on – he would not want change a thing. It had been a happy and fulfilled life because of Jim. Because he had not been alone. But now the time had come to say goodbye. He would go. It would not be long now. A couple of hours if they were lucky. Sorrow and the impending loss rendered him helpless.

"Spock", he heard the strained voice next to him and looked over at the old man gazing back at him with dull eyes.

"Yes, Jim? What is it?" he asked and heard his voice falter.

"I'm afraid, Spock," whispered Jim.

"You don't have to be, I'm here."

Jim reached out hectically for Spock's wrist, grasped it tightly and Spock was surprised how much strength he still had. Jim's eyes were full of panic. He was afraid of dying. Spock could feel his fear, the fear of having to go and having to leave his partner behind, alone. Jim was squeezing so tightly that his wrist began to hurt but he said nothing. He accepted this pain and was prepared to bear it, to help relieve Jim. Spock leaned toward him and with his free hand wiped away the tear that had slipped from one of the human's eyes. Was it a tear of sorrow, one of fear or simply one of old age? He did not know. Jim looked at him and Spock tried to smile. All he managed was a grimace because his eyes filled with tears. Attempting to hide his feelings from the human was something he had given up years ago, because Jim always saw through him. There was no point any more.

Jim's grip loosened and he felt the old man's soft skin on his face, as Jim too wiped away his tears.

"Why are you crying, Spock?"

"I'm not crying," he lied, although he knew it was pointless.

"Of course not," Kirk smiled as best he could although it was very exerting for him.

"Jim", said Spock quietly "what am I going to do without you?"

"Go out and live. Find yourself a new partner, Spock. You still have half your life before you. Enjoy it. Do not grieve for me. As long you do not forget me, I will always be with you."

Spock began to cry. He could no longer hold back the tears. He lowered his head. Jim ran his hand over his hair, making it even harder for Spock to regain his composure.

"Don't cry, T'hy'la." Jim breathed heavily and his words were hardly audible.

Spock looked up, wiped away his tears and gently kissed the human's dry lips. As he did so, images from the past flooded in on him. Their first meeting, when Jim took over the 'Enterprise', their first shore leave together, at that time still as friends together with McCoy, who had sadly long since departed – Spock still missed the sparring matches with the doctor – then the first shy touch, the first kiss ... the first time. If Jim had gone to Rigel IV back then as planned, Jim would now be alone. Spock had just recovered from a serious illness that had almost cost him his life. As often as his time allowed, Jim had been with him. His weakened immune system had resulted in his Pon Farr coming on earlier than expected and it had been Jim's decision to stay with him. He had so much to thank him for, thought Spock, he owed him his life. And now he was sitting here, having to watch Jim die, powerless to help. He could only be with him.

Over and over again he had thought of why he had denied his feelings for Jim at the beginning. In search of an answer, his mind's eye repeatedly presented the image of Sarek. The rejection, almost hate that Sarek had shown him when he had mentioned a possible union with this human. It still hurt today, after all these years. His mother had supported him. She only ever wanted to see her son happy and she was glad that he had found someone. As a human herself, Spock's choice presented her with no problem. But as an obedient son, he had given in to Sarek, had distanced himself from Kirk, had left Starfleet and had returned to Vulcan to complete his Kolinahr.

The years of separation after their second 5 year mission and his time of meditation while on Vulcan had made him realise that he could not live without Jim and that he did not want to live without him. Spock had then returned to Starfleet and to Jim. He had not been sure of Jim's reaction but as he had walked onto the bridge of the 'Enterprise' after so many years and looked into Jim's eyes, he saw there so much love, longing and joy on seeing him again that he knew that it had been the right decision.

Spock felt the figure next to him relax and was alarmed. He jumped up, thinking Jim had gone and wanted to ring for the medical personnel. But Jim had simply dozed off.

"Where are you going?" Spock heard him say and breathed a sigh of relief.

"I thought ... you were ..." he swallowed with difficulty.

"Without saying goodbye? Spock, you should know me better ..."

"You're right." Relieved, he sat back down.

"What are you thinking?" Jim asked and Spock gave him a pained smile, because that was one of those questions with which Spock had regularly annoyed the human in the past, albeit unwittingly.

"About us ..." Spock answered truthfully and barely audibly, "... about how it all began with us ... about the past ..."

"Vulcans can be nostalgic?" Jim joked and then had to cough.

Spock picked up a glass of water and offered it his partner. He supported Jim's head with his arm so that he could drink. Exhausted, Jim sank back into his pillow.

"I would like to sleep now, Spock." The Vulcan nodded. "But please wake me before I die" Jim grinned and Spock could only give him a pained smile in return. Jim reached for Spock's hand, lifted it to his lips and kissed it. He then closed his eyes and his grip relaxed. Spock looked down at the old man next to him in alarm. "Jim!" he implored. Kirk opened his eyes and whispered to him "Not yet, my love ..." then closed his eyes again and fell asleep.

Lost in thought Spock watched him and caressed Jim's hand. And once again he saw those images from the past and his eyes were again flooded with tears.

Spock was startled out of his reverie as the pressure of Jim's grip on his hand increased. How much time had passed? Spock looked down at Jim who whispered to him so quietly that he could hardly hear, "... I love you, Spock, always have and always will, in every life ..." With his eyes closed, he smiled one last time and slipped away. Spock sat on the edge of the bed, numb and incapable of speech. It was like a stab in the heart – that is how he experienced the moment when he felt their mutual bond cease to be.

Spock broke down and sobbed uncontrollably. He was glad that he was on his own and could surrender completely to his grief. Everyone who had ever been close to him was now gone. They had left him behind. And with every thought he became more painfully aware of this.

He was alone.

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