Jim woke to the sound of a crash and then yelling. For a moment he lay there, his heart pounding so hard his chest hurt. Had they come for him?

But no.

This wasn’t Tarsus. It was Eldred. And it wasn’t Kodos’ men coming for victims. It was his mother and her husband fighting. Again.

He reached for his earphones and stuck them in his ears but he could hear them shouting right through the supposedly noise canceling buds. Jim pulled them out of his ears, sat up and went to where had left his discarded jeans before going to bed. He pulled them on and then went to the window.

The night was warm so he’d left it open earlier. Now he crawled through it, jumping down and landing in the dirt. He hadn’t bothered with shoes. If he could get away without shoes and socks every day, he would. No doubt why he had a million calluses on his feet already.

The further he got away from the house, the less he could hear them shouting. Frank was probably drunk. He hadn’t ever been physically abusive to her that Jim knew but the emotional and mental abuse took its toll on both his mother and Jim. Back when Jim used to pray, he prayed his mother would kick Frank to the curb once and for all. But instead she gave him another chance. Every single time.

Before he even knew where he was going, Jim realized he had made his way to Spock’s house. It was dark, of course. It was the middle of the night. Spock and his mom would be asleep.

Even still Jim made his way over to the window for Spock’s room. There were small lights flickering within so Jim tapped lightly on the window.

A moment later, Spock appeared and lifted it up. “Jim?”

“Hey,” Jim whispered. “There were lights. I’m kind of surprised you were up.”

“I am meditating.” Spock hesitated. “Would you like to come inside?”

Jim shook his head. “I don’t want to bother your mom.”

“She is sleeping. Come inside.”

Spock moved away from the window and Jim climbed through and into the room.

Jim’s gaze flicked around at all the lit candles. “I didn’t mean to interrupt anything.”

“It is no matter. You appeared upset.”

“My mother and stepfather were fighting,” Jim admitted. “They woke me.”

“I am sorry. It must be difficult.” Spock gestured to a chair in his room. “Sit. Would you like me to bring you tea? Water?”

Jim sat in the chair and pulled his knees up. “No, I…just wanted to see you again. Sorry for leaving so abruptly earlier today.”

“I took no offense. Would you like to see Butterscotch?”

He smiled a little. “If I could…I mean is she sleeping?”

“I believe so but I can wake her.”

“No. Don’t. I can come back another day.” Jim bit his lip. “Gives me an excuse to come back.”

“You need no excuse, Jim. I enjoy your company.”

“Yeah?” Jim felt himself blush. “I don’t really make friends easily.”

“Nor do I.”

Jim glanced at Spock in surprise. “Really?”

“Quite true.”

“But why? You’re so cute.” Fuck. “I mean smart. So smart.”

“Jim.”

“Yeah?”

“I find you…cute also.”

Jim sucked in a breath. “Spock. I, uh, wow.”

Spock’s lip curved upward just slightly. “I, too, am gratified. Jim, why do you not spend the night? That chair pulls out to a lounger. You can return home in the morning with no one the wiser.”

“You don’t mind?”

“I do not.”

“How old are you, Spock? If I may ask.”

“I will be one and twenty very soon. And you, Jim?”

“I turned eighteen a month ago.” He sighed. “Didn’t finish school though. Because of…circumstances.”

Spock nodded. “That is unfortunate. But perhaps I could assist you in catching up on your education.”

Jim grinned. “In between lyre lessons?”

Spock’s lips twitched. “Indeed. Go to sleep, Jim. We will talk more tomorrow.”

****

Spock was awakened later by Jim whimpering and crying out in his sleep. At first Spock was not sure what to do but eventually he rose from his bed to where Jim thrashed about as he was unable to allow the younger man to be in so much distress.

“Jim.”

Spock knelt next to the chair, his hand outstretching toward Jim’s face.

“Jim.”

He shook Jim slightly. To enter Jim’s mind, even for good, without his permission would not be right. He needed to find another method of waking Jim. He dropped his hand to his side and shook Jim again, more persistently this time.

Jim gasped and came awake instantly, eyes wide and frightened. “Where—”

“You are here with me, Jim. You are safe.”

Jim grabbed Spock’s arms. “Spock?”

“Yes, Jim.”

“Fuck, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you. Guess you should have made me go home.”

Spock shook his head. “It is fine.”

“It’s not fine,” Jim insisted. “I have nightmares. A lot. And you certainly didn’t bargain for those.”

“I did not,” Spock admitted. “But I suspect you find it no bargain either.”

Jim smiled. “No. No, I don’t.”

Spock glanced toward his bed and then back to Jim. “May I make the suggestion that you sleep in the bed with me? Perhaps being close to someone will ease your nightmares.”

Jim bit his lip. “I don’t want to be any trouble.”

“If I found the idea troublesome, I would not have suggested it.”

The smile returned. “Yeah? Okay. I-I’d like that.”

Spock rose from next to the chair to allow Jim to get up and walk over to Spock’s bed.

For a moment, Jim simply stared at the bed. Then he got in without looking at Spock and then Spock got in without looking at Jim. He pulled the sheet and blanket up over them.

“Goodnight, Jim.”

“Goodnight.”

When Spock woke in the morning, Jim had already gone, but there lingered there in his bedroom a hint of Jim and Spock liked it.