It’s late. The last few drinks of the last few minutes in the last bar of the shore leave Jim and the bridge crew have been enjoying. Jim’s pleasantly buzzed but not falling down drunk or anything. He’s been nursing the martini he’s been drinking for a while, just listening to the crew banter.

The shore leave wasn’t long enough but it never is. Jim suspects if it was three months, it would somehow seem too short, and this was a mere three days.

They met up here on the last night, having gone their separate ways until then.

Jim hasn’t seen any of them until a few hours ago and it feels good to see them, though he senses that some shore leaves were less than successful.    

Normally Jim would have probably spent his time with Bones, but this time, Jim thought it was best to spend it doing their own thing. All of them spent far too much time together really, and it could be…monotonous.

Bones looks like had a good time, though he hasn’t said what he did and Jim hasn’t asked.

Jim guesses everyone there probably thinks he spent the days getting laid by different people every hour or some such crap, but none of it’s true. He’d learned before shore leave that Sam and his wife, Aurelan, and their toddler son, Peter, would be on the same planet while Jim was there, so he’d spent his time with them, doing the family thing, and it had been good.

Sulu was meeting his husband Ben and their daughter and he seems in good spirits and yet Jim senses melancholy too. Probably because it’s over all too soon.

Chekov was Chekov of course and he’s been drinking a lot since they arrived.

Sitting beside Jim on his left is Spock. Bones is on the right chatting away with Scotty and Jaylah, who sits on Scotty’s other side.

Spock has been quiet as has Uhura who sits on the other side of him. Jim senses a lot of tension there and assumes they’ve been fighting during their shore leave.

It’s none of his business so he doesn’t ask.

“Have you ever been in love?” Chekov now asks loudly, drawing everyone’s attention. He raises his glass toward Sulu. “You obviously as you are vith Ben. And Mister Spock and Miss Uhura are together.”

Uhura makes a face, then looks at Spock who gives a curt nod. “Actually, Ensign, Spock and I have terminated our relationship.”

Chekov looks comically shocked. “You have?”

“Very recently,” she said coolly.

Jim clears his throat. “Chekov—”

“Vhat about you doctor?”

“I was married, remember?” Bones is snappish but that doesn’t seem to bother the young ensign who nods enthusiastically.

And the Chekov does the thing Jim’s been dreading and turns his big eyes on Jim.

“Vhat about you, Keptin?”

“I think it’s probably time to return to the ship,” Jim says, trying not to sound too harsh. But he sure as hell doesn’t want to get into that.

“But, the question?”

“I’m sorta interested in that myself,” Scotty piped in.

Jim sighs, pinches the bridge of his nose, and opens his mouth once more in an attempt to avoid the question. He’s aware everyone’s looking at him.

“Sure,” he says, finally. “And unrequited love sucks.”

“Unrequited?” Chekov repeats. “Vho doesn’t love you, Keptin?”

He rolls his eyes. “I’ve lost count, Mister Chekov. It’s time to go back to the ship. Shore leave is over.”

Everyone starts getting up, packing up their belongings they had with them on shore leave, souvenirs that sort of thing.  

Spock spots a stuffed dragon Jim has in his luggage.

“Captain?”

“Oh.” Jim grins. “My brother gave that to me yesterday. When we were kids we used to pretend we were dragons. Kind of a family joke. He saw this at a store and bought it for me.”

Bones frowns. “You saw Sam?”

“Uh-huh. And Aurelan and Peter. Spent the last three days together.”

“You didn’t tell me you were seeing your family.”

Jim shrugs and exits the bar with Bones and Spock trailing behind him.

As he approaches his quarters, Spock falls in step beside him as he often does. He can feel Spock’s glances.

“Something on your mind, Spock?”

“If you do not mind. There is a personal matter I would like to discuss.”

“Sure, come in.”

And Spock follows him into his quarters.   

Jim hopes he’s not about to say he wants to leave or transfer because of the end of his relationship with Uhura. How many times had they broken up anyway? She always managed to reel him back in. And maybe that was an unfair assessment but Jim doesn’t care. He’s tired and cranky and sorry he had to return to duty. He misses his family that he left behind mere hours ago and that’s weird as he never thought he would.

He turns to face Spock with an encouraging smile.

“What’s up?”

Spock exhales. “If I may be so bold, your love…it is not.”

“Not?”

“Unrequited.”

Jim feels himself lose color. “How did you…?”

“I am a telepath.” Spock steps forward and hold up his hand toward Jim’s.

After a moment, Jim raises his and they touch, palm to palm, fingers to fingers. And suddenly Jim doesn’t miss his family as much. He smiles and Spock…smiles back.