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Kirk smiled despite himself and closed his eyes.



"Spock," he said.



"Do you want another drink?" Spock said.



"No," Kirk said, opening his eyes. "And you needn't look at me like I'm in immanent danger of collapse."



"How should I look at you?"



"Like you are. But I get to tell you not to." He looked at his empty glass. "You know, come to think of it . . ."



Spock poured, neatly. Kirk turned the glass around in his hands.



"When we lost the Enterprise," he said after a while, "it was the last thing. There wasn't anything else to lose." He looked up from his drink. "I was ready to die."



"Do you regret having lived instead?" Spock asked.



"No," Kirk said, and knew it was true. "But I don't feel entirely real. Like I've used up my time, and I'm not sure what this is."



"Possibly the eternal reward we deserve," Spock suggested.



"I'm not sure whether that suggests I've been very good or very bad," Kirk said. "Wait, don't answer that."



"I wasn't aware you had asked a question."



"At least there's Starfleet," Kirk said. "Whatever part of it they stick me in. And there's . . ." He looked at Spock, suddenly awkward.



"The company of other ghosts," Spock said. "Yes."



"With my luck they'll give me Excelsior," Kirk said. "And I'll have to listen to Scotty complain for another two decades."



"There are worse fates," Spock said.



"Hear, hear," Kirk said, and raised his glass.
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