It seemed brighter out in the daylight then Jim had anticipated when he snuck out of the hospital. He wished he had swiped a pair of sunglasses along with the loose fitting scrubs he had borrowed. Really. He fully intended to bring them back once the memorial service had concluded.
He’d managed to escape his room after his brief, awkward visit with Number One. She’d thanked him for saving Pike, Jim was embarrassed, and then she left. Thankfully. He had nothing against her, but he didn’t feel like he deserved thanks for any of it. Not really. He could be all full of bravado in front of the admirals or a crowd of his peers. Sure. But faced with her, alone, thanking him with tears in her eyes? He couldn’t wait for her to leave.
It had been surprisingly easy to secure the scrubs to wear out of the hospital. And if luck was with him, Jim would be back in the hospital bed without Bones ever being the wiser.
As it happened, though, luck was seldom with Jim.
And as he approached the campus area where the memorial was to be held, he heard an exclamation.
Of course, it had to be Uhura.
Jim turned and plastered on a smile. “Hey, Lieutenant.”
“What are you wearing?”
“Scrubs, I think they’re called.”
She wore her dress uniform. She frowned at him. “I heard you were in the hospital.”
“Er. Well. I’m not right now. I didn’t want to miss this.”
Uhura pursed her lips. “I’ll go tell Spock you’re here.”
“What? Oh. No. No. Don’t do that.”
“But he’s just on the other side of the quad, Captain. I’m sure he wants to know you’re here.”
“Really. Don’t bother. I’m just here to observe and I’ll be gone in a flash. Thank you, Lieutenant.”
She opened her mouth to say something else, closed it, and then shrugged. “Okay. And can I say, you don’t look so good.” She paused at his raised eyebrows. “Sir.”
He watched her walk away to join other officers on the other side of the memorial, presumably close to Spock’s position. Jim stayed on the outskirts, not wanting to be seen or involved, but feeling as though it would be wrong not to be there.
He’d known most of the dead pretty well, though not all. And then there was Gaila. When he’d first shown up at the Academy, before Spock and all that, she had befriended him. They’d had a very brief fling, nothing serious to either of them, because shortly after Jim had met and become involved, very much so, with Spock.
He was sorry at the loss of so many of his fellow cadets, but he was especially sorry about her.
Jim stiffened and decided not to turn around. “Uh. Hi, Bones.”
“Don’t you hi me. What the hell are you doing?”
“Attending the memorial.” Jim glanced at his friend when Bones came to stand next to him. “I’m going right back, I promise.”
“You’re the biggest fool I’ve ever met. Did you know that?”
He smiled faintly. “Yeah.”
Bones sighed. “I’ll escort you back myself. You have no sense at all.”
“I’m going to be captain to a lot of those who are left, Bones. It’s important.”
Bones hooked an arm through Jim’s. “I’ll bring you closer. But then as soon as the last word is said, back you go.”
“Absolutely. Thank you.”
“Should have brought you in a wheelchair.”
Which of course Jim hadn’t wanted.
He allowed Bones to lead him closer though, deliberately not letting his gaze stray to the other side of the quad where Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov stood. He was pretty sure he’d see Spock. He did think he spotted Amanda and Sarek out of the corner of his eye.
Jim just didn’t know if he was yet strong enough to have the conversation with Spock where he likely would say his final goodbyes before going off to find a colony. Jim dreaded it. So much.
He hadn’t believed in forever until he met Spock. And when he had, when they’d become them, Jim had believed.
That was over.
He didn’t believe in anything now.
“He’s there, you know,” Bones said softly.
“I know. Uhura told me.”
“He keeps looking this way.”
Jim had nothing to say to that. “It’s starting.”
And then it did. The memorial went on for about an hour.
Jim turned to leave with Bones immediately.
“I think his parents are trying to get your attention, Jim.”
“Let’s just go.”
“Are you sure—?”
“Yeah. I’m tired. Really tired.”
Somehow Bones got him back to the hospital without any run-ins and into his bed. Out of the scrubs too and back in a hospital gown.
“I’ve a mind to make you stay here an additional night due to your reckless disregard for yourself,” Bones growled at him, tucking the blankets around him.
“The doctor is correct. You should have stayed in bed,” Spock spoke from the doorway of Jim’s room.
Both Jim and Bones stiffened. Jim felt his face heat and knew he was flushed. Bones squeezed his arm and turned toward Spock.
Spock showed no reaction and continued to stand where he was.
Bones looked at Jim. “Hungry?”
Jim nodded, his gaze on Bones instead of Spock.
“I’ll bring you something. You okay with…”
Jim sighed. “Yeah, it’s okay.”
Bones brushed by Spock as he exited the room. Jim didn’t look but he could still tell that Spock hadn’t come any further into the room.
He closed his eyes and laid his head back down on the pillow. Only a moment later he felt cool fingertips on his forehead.
He opened his eyes and gazed into dark chocolate brown ones.