I could save this for August, but well, I didn’t. Once in a while, I like to practice TOS. And warning, no happy ending.

Jim didn’t come here a lot. Not anymore, anyway. There was a time, when he first took command of the Enterprise, after Pike, that he came to this particular area of the observation deck to reflect on the day, his own performance, his crew. How they were taking him. Did they like him, hate him, did it matter?

Those days had long since passed and Jim was confident in his command abilities. He had proven himself often enough. And he’d found that those times he needed reflection, he could count on a conversation with Spock or Bones.

But now? Not so much.

For Spock was what or rather who he reflected on, and Bones, well, he didn’t feel like being judged or being given country doctor advise.

But despite his best intentions of keeping his location a secret, Jim really wasn’t that surprised when the door swished open behind him.

“Jim?”

“Over here, Bones.”

He waited for his CMO to come up beside him. He glanced briefly at him.

“Need me for something?”

“No.” Bones paused. “You hiding in here, Jim?”

“And if I am?”

“Suppose it’s all right. You’re not currently on shift.” He leaned up and then dropped down on to his heels. “I think you ought to think about rest at some point, though.”

Jim smiled faintly. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

“What’s eating you, Jim?” Bones put his hand on Jim’s arm. “There’s something. Was it something about Sarpeidon?”

That Bones had zeroed in on it so quickly shouldn’t surprise him. McCoy had been by his side for a long time and had a way of figuring Jim out.

“Maybe.”

“You have been quiet since we returned to the Enterprise. I thought you were all right, after, but there’s something.”

“Don’t think you’d really understand, Bones.”

For a long time, Bones remained silent, but he continued to stare at Jim as though he was seeing directly into him. Maybe he was.

“It’s not your experience on Sarpeidon that’s got you thinking.” Bones grimaced. “Spock?”

Jim’s mouth thinned. Damn McCoy and his ability to read him. “Am I so transparent?”

“Not to everyone, no. But to me? What is it, Jim?”

“He was going to…” Jim stopped. “I don’t blame him for becoming involved.”

“He was under the influence of—”

“I know,” Jim cut in. “I don’t blame him. Not really.”

“Then what?”

Jim shrugged. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me.”

“If not for you, if you hadn’t talked him out of it, well…Spock would have stayed there.” Jim swallowed painfully. “With…” And he couldn’t bring himself to say the name. “Her.”

“But I did, Jim. Spock came out of it and returned here. To the ship. And her captain.”

Jim nodded. “I told you that you wouldn’t understand.”

Bones sighed. “I think I understand more than you realize, Jim.” He squeezed his shoulder. “Want a drink?”

“Better not. I think I’m going to do what you suggested earlier. Get some rest. Go to sleep.”

“Okay, Jim.”

And he would have lingered there still, but Bones stood waiting by the exit door, clearly waiting to escort him, so with a barely repressed sigh, Jim went with McCoy, and was mildly annoyed when Bones made as though to actually drop him off at his quarters.

“Don’t you have something better to do other than babysit me?”

“All right, suit yourself. I do have some things in sickbay to see to. Goodnight, Jim. Try to remember that ultimately, Spock came back to himself and the ship. He didn’t stay with her.”

But he wanted to. Or he wanted her to come with him. But that hadn’t been possible.

Jim read the reports. McCoy’s was far more detailed. Spock had left out much, which was very unlike him, and when Jim had questioned the discrepancies, Spock had implied that he didn’t quite remember everything given that he was not himself.

As he approached his quarters, Jim paused outside Spock’s. For a moment, he raised his hand to ask for admittance. Then he lowered it, turning away. Spock would not want to see him, not at this time, it was late, and Spock had—

He sighed and accessed his own quarters, letting the door close and lock behind him. He eyed his desk and his terminal and all the work he needed to do. But he undressed instead and got into his night clothes, going to bed, but staring up at the dark ceiling for a long time, sleep not claiming him.