“Have you ever been in love before, Spock?”

Spock was surprised by the question and he lifted his gaze from concentrating on the chess game before them.

He had been somewhat surprised by the invitation, too. Jim had assured him that they used to play chess all the time back on the Enterprise. Prior to Spocks’ demise.

Jim smiled faintly and he wasn’t actually looking at Spock.

They were on Vulcan, after the events as had been explained to Spock where Spock was revived after being found on Genesis, and his Katra returned to him. There was still many things Spock could not recall.

“I mean really in love. Not just…infatuation.”

“I am uncertain,” Spock replied, noncommittedly. Because he was unsure where this conversation was going, what Jim’s point was.

“There were times I was sure it was love,” Jim said musingly. “Do you remember Edith Keeler?”

He started to shake his head, but then stopped, as he thought about it. “Yes, I believe that I do recall her.”

At that Jim’s gaze rose. There was a twinkle in those hazel eyes but also sorrow. An interesting enigma.

“In the time I knew her I had convinced myself I was in love with her.”

“Were you not?”

Jim shook his head. “Not as I know it now. She was a remarkable woman, but I now recognize my feelings as infatuation. And Miramanee.”

“What about her?”

“Perhaps my feelings for her were more like love, I don’t know.”

Spock only had a very faint recollection of her, so he did not pursue it, he shrugged and moved his piece.

“I guess my point here, Spock, is…I thought I knew what love was or was supposed to be, anyway, but none of what I felt for any of those women compared or compares to what I feel for you.” Jim shook his head. “To lose you. And then lose my son—”

“I am sorry.”  

“That was not you. Then to find you almost barely alive again where you were discarded by the Klingons. I thought-I thought everything was for nothing.”

Spock realized Jim’s eyes were filled with unshed tears.

“Love is willing to give up everything for that other person. Your life, even. To give up everything so that they can live, so that they can find happiness, even if all you can spend with them is ten minutes, it is worth it.”

“Jim—”

Jim shook his head and wiped at his eyes. “I just thought. I thought you should know.”

Spock said nothing as the room fell silent and Jim, eventually, moved his chess piece.

Then Spock said, “Yes, Jim. I have been in love.” His gaze met Jim’s. “I still am.”

Jim smiled.

“And, Jim, checkmate.”