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Spock searched the whole house, looking for Jim, after he got out of bed and showered, but there was no sign of him. He squelched down the sense of panic that threatened to take hold. It was, of course, ridiculous. Jim was probably outside or even had gone off to the store in the city as he had done before.

There was nothing at all unusual in his absence. Jim insisted on his independence even after being so grievously injured, something Spock had been forced to get used to and accept.

Prior to Jim’s near fatal injury, Spock had only been friends with Jim, but as the mission had turned so dangerous, Jim had confessed his love for Spock. It wasn’t until Jim was revived that Spock could share his own deeper feelings. The fact he even could was…remarkable.

Sure enough, as Spock approached the back covered porch, he could hear Jim softly singing to himself. Next the scent of Jim’s pumpkin spice coffee hit his nose. 

Spock pushed open the screen door. “Jim?” He didn’t immediately see him.

“Here, babe. On the ground.”

Spock looked down and noticed Jim sitting in the middle of the porch floor, knife in hand, tongue sticking out, with a giant pumpkin he had purchased at the pumpkin patch in between his spread legs.

“Ashaya? What are you doing?”

“Carving a Jack O Lantern. Didn’t your mom ever…never mind. She probably didn’t. But remember? I mentioned it at the pumpkin patch. Come sit down.”

Spock shrugged slightly and made his way over to the mess Jim was making. He had papers all spread out and gooey looking seeds all over the papers.

“You are killing it?”

“Already dead. I’m just pulling out its guts now.”

“A curious practice.” Spock watched as Jim finished gutting the pumpkin and then began to stab its flesh.

“I’m making a face for it,” Jim explained.

“I see. What is the purpose?”

“You put him out on your front porch all lit up for the harvest or whatever. Halloween. That kind of thing. I’ll just put him next to the uncarved ones. He’ll look cool.”

Spock thought, not for the first time, Earthlings were strange, and Jim, perhaps, stranger than many. And yet, Spock loved him. Almost obsessively so.

Jim looked at Spock and grinned. “What?”

“I am…” He cleared his throat. “I find myself very glad that I am sitting on your porch floor while you slaughter that member of the squash family.”

Jim laughed. It was an amazing sound. “Me too, babe.”

Spock doubted, really, that Jim actually got it. How much this almost didn’t happen. Couldn’t happen. Jim was there but he was out of it much of the time. And he didn’t think either him or McCoy, for that matter, could ever describe how horrible it had all been.

He reached his two fingers toward Jim. He paused in his cutting to extend his to Spock, and he felt the warm jolt that seemed to accompany their skin contact, their joining in any way. Spock suspected he knew the reason, yet he waited to know for sure.

“I am going in to get some tea, if you do not mind, then I will return.”

Jim grinned. “Sounds great. I’ll be here.”

And yes, Spock thought, he would, and Spock felt gratitude.

For Fun, Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes