*Gone. He's gone. Oh Lord, how will I live through this day? And, after that,

another. Then another. Years without him. Will it always hurt like this?*

James T. Kirk sat on the edge of his bunk, utterly defeated. Although it was

just after midnight, ship's time, and he knew that he should try to get some

sleep, he was still wearing his uniform. He just didn't have the strength, or

the will, to do anything, not even the simplest task.

Finally, he pulled off his boots and stretched out on his bed. That was just the

best he could manage, and it would have to do. The bed was mussed, having not

been made today, but that didn't matter. Nothing mattered anymore. Besides, if

he didn't make the bed, then he didn't have to unmake the bed. Two less things

to deal with.

Cursing himself for being maudlin but unable to resist the impulse, Jim bunched

the covers up in his hands and brought them to his face. He closed his eyes and

inhaled, deeply. With a sudden convulsion, he buried his face in the bundle of

soft fabric, fighting back the tears.

*It still smells like him. God help me, we said goodbye to him today, sent his

body off into space and then I entered my final commendation into his record,

closing that chapter for eternity, but the traces of him linger on. I will never

touch him again, but will I see him, smell him, hear him, forever?*

Dropping his arms to his chest, he lay there and stared at the ceiling until

finally, exhausted, he fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. The rumpled sheets

were still clutched in his hands when he awoke the next morning.

* * * * * * * *

Nearby, Leonard McCoy was also having a bad night. He'd guzzled down a couple of

bourbons too quickly, earlier, and that, combined with the stress of the past two

days, had left him dizzy and disoriented. He had excused himself from the dismal

gathering in the officers' lounge and returned to his quarters, flopping down on

his bed, still in uniform, just like Jim.

Unlike Jim, though, he fell asleep almost immediately. He'd awakened less than

an hour later, sweating and breathing heavily, his heart hammering in his chest,

and bolted upright in his bed from the force of the images that had been running

through his mind.

*It's just a bad dream, that same dream again, Len, calm down.*

He ran a hand over his face and gingerly stretched back out on his bed. What had

frightened him? After a moment's reflection, he realized that he hadn't been so

much frightened as just shaken. Like he was trying to do something really

important, but had been unable to. He concentrated, and was able to recapture a

few hazy impressions.

He'd been walking, quickly, down an endless hallway. He must have been on the

ship, yes, that's it, he was walking down one of the corridors, but he couldn't

see the end of it ahead of him, and somehow he knew that if he turned around, he

wouldn't see the end of it behind him, either. Although he was calm, and in

control, he felt a sense of urgency.

Suddenly, with the vivid disorientation of dreams, he was at his destination, the

engine room door. Slowly, so slowly, the door slid open, and he saw not the

familiar scene that he had expected, but a bedroom. He tried to make it to the

bed, but he couldn't. It was right in front of him, and there was someone in the

bed, but, no matter how far he walked, he couldn't get any closer. Finally, in

his dream, he had called out in frustration, but only succeeded in waking himself


How odd. McCoy couldn't make sense of it. Last night, in this dream, he'd just

walked and walked, and never reached a destination. He'd awakened exhausted this

morning, as if he had truly been walking all night. This one was different. Why

the engine room? Groaning, he wondered if it had something to do with the

unthinkable events that had taken place there recently.

His chest tight, he could not keep his thoughts from returning to Engineering.

He remembered again how awful it had been when he was finally allowed to enter

the radiation chamber. Spock had been dead for over an hour by then, and Scotty

had called McCoy from sickbay, where he was tending to the injured. He would

never forget the look on Jim's face when those doors opened, and he and Jim were

finally able to gently reach out to their friend, his solemn face and elegant

hands horribly burned but his soul beyond caring.

McCoy closed his eyes and forcibly emptied his mind. Soon, he found himself back

in the corridor.

Again, he was walking. He concentrated on putting one foot in front of the

other, again and again, but the end of the corridor never appeared. It didn't

bother him, though, because this time he knew that he would get there,

eventually. Sure enough, the engine room door appeared abruptly in front of him.

When he stepped through the door, he expected to already know what he would see.

This time, though, it was subtly different. The bedroom was not quite as dark,

lit instead with a strange reddish hue. It was warmer, too, but the heat was not

uncomfortable. It actually felt good. His eyes moved to the figure on the bed.

With a start, he realized that the person on the bed was not sleeping, but was

waiting. For him. He tried to go to the bed, but he couldn't. He wanted to move

his feet, more than anything he'd ever wanted before, but it was as if they were

attached to the floor. He reached out with his arms, but the figure on the bed

was too far away. Nothing he did would bring him and the other person together.

He was crying, now, sobbing, calling out as if his heart were breaking, but,

somehow, he also knew that his cheeks were dry and that he had not uttered a


When he thought that he could not stand it a moment longer, the shadowy figure

rose and came to him. Yes, yes, come to me, join with me, I need you, I want

you. The figure was almost within his grasp...

With a start, he woke. His cheeks were wet, his pillow soaked. The tears had

been real.

He did not try to sleep again that night.

* * * * * * * *

The next day was a long one. Admiral Kirk sat on the bridge and thought about

what he would do next, but he couldn't visualize tomorrow, much less next week or

next month. He had always thought of the Enterprise as his life and his home,

but it wasn't the same anymore. It might still be his home, but it was empty,

now. Just like his life.

As for McCoy, he went through the day as if in a trance. His mind kept running

over those dreams, but he couldn't understand them. Maybe he just needed a good,

long rest. Sadness and desolation seemed to leach from this ship and everyone

aboard, and he needed to get away. They would be back in spacedock in two days,

and he'd ask for leave, then.

* * * * * * * *

Bedtime again. McCoy settled himself on his bunk, dreading sleep.

He thought about his options. He could stay up all night, but that was only a

temporary measure, because, eventually, he'd have to sleep. He could get drunk,

but that had only made things worse yesterday. He could medicate himself, but

his emotional state was so fragile that he couldn't trust himself to take the

right amount. No, he'd have to take his chances and just hope that the dream

wouldn't recur.

He closed his eyes and made himself relax. It did not take long for him to fall

asleep. The dream began again.

The corridor went on forever. Before, he had been walking, but, this time, he

was jogging. He ran and ran, amazed at his own endurance. When he reached the

engine room door, he wasn't even winded. The door opened and he entered the dim


He saw the shadowy figure on the bed, and, once again couldn't move. He was

paralyzed. Mentally, he struggled, but physically, he was motionless. He wanted

to reach out, but he couldn't. He wanted to cry, but he couldn't. He was

frozen. He couldn't even look closely at the other person. With joy, he saw the

person stir, then move toward him.

Suddenly, he felt cool hands on his face, brushing back his hair. As if that

touch had freed him, he found that he could move again. The unknown person took

him by the hand and led him over to the bed, gently pushing him down. With the

disconnectedness of dreams, his clothes fell off, one garment at a time, and he

gasped as he felt the brush of cool fingers against his skin.

He was lying on the bed now, breathing heavily, his eyes closed. He could feel

his penis stirring, growing hard. Gentle lips kissed his eyelids, his ear, his

chin, his chest. Ghostly fingers brushed against his erection, vanished to

stroke his belly, returned to caress his scrotum.

His head was thrown back, now, and he felt moistness enclosing his penis. *Ah*,

he wanted to gasp, but the sound was stopped before it escaped his throat. He

writhed, overcome with the sensation of hands and lips on his skin. It seemed

like his phantom lover was everywhere, kissing him all over his body, impossibly

moving from nipple to thigh to glans without pausing for a second. His entire

being was rising, rising, and, just when he could not contain himself, strong

fingers grasped his erection and stroked it. His body tensed and he came,

soaring, losing himself, and in the midst of his orgasm, he found his voice.


McCoy's eyes flew open. Horrified, his heart pounding, he was sickened by the

knowledge that his erotic dream had been about his commanding officer. Jim. Oh

my God, how could he dream like that about his friend? He realized with disgust

that his pajamas and sheets were soaked and sticky. A wet dream. He closed his

eyes for a moment, groaned, then rousted himself to his feet and staggered into

the shower.

After he had cleaned himself and changed his sheets, he reached into his cabinet

and found some sleeping pills. He'd get through this night, and he'd be damn

sure he didn't dream anymore.

* * * * * * * *

Another night. He'd avoided Jim all day, unable to face him with the guilty

knowledge that he'd blown his wad in his sleep like some sort of adolescent,

dreaming that his friend had jacked him off.

He lay on his bed. He'd taken some more sleeping pills, but they didn't seem to

be working tonight. Several times, he drifted off, but, each time, he woke

again, unable to relax enough to allow himself to sleep.

Enough. He didn't have any sort of sexual attraction to Jim. What was the

problem? He decided to force himself to confront these strange feelings, and go

talk to his friend, proving in the process that it was all just his imagination.

Knowing in the back of his mind that he wasn't thinking clearly, and that this

was probably a bad idea, he rose nevertheless, pulled on his robe, and slipped

out the door.

* * * * * * * *

Jim sat dully at his desk, trying to finish some reports that he had neglected

since before... before Spock had died. Those words weren't getting any easier.

The Enterprise would be coming into spacedock tomorrow, and his paperwork had to

be completed. He put down the padd and buried his face in his hands when he

thought about what kind of reception they might receive when they arrived. Would

they be heroes? Would he then have to face the admiralty staff and recount the

entire horrific episode, one detail at a time? He was afraid that he wouldn't be

able to do it. Spock had retained his dignity and privacy, always, in life, but

Jim would confess everything after his death, without even needing any words to

do so. Just his grief-stricken demeanor would say it all.

He looked up when his door buzzed. "Come."

McCoy staggered through the door. He looked so awful that Kirk jumped to his

feet and rushed over to help him find a seat.

"What is it, Bones? Are you okay?"

McCoy shook his head. At first, he seemed unable to speak, but, once he started,

the words rushed from him in a torrent.

"I don't know, Jim. I don't even know why I'm here. I was trying to sleep, but

I've had... bad dreams, weird dreams. Oh Lord, I think I'm losing my mind, and I

just knew that I had to see you, to talk to you. It was a bad idea. Never mind,

go back to what you were doing before I interrupted."

Antsy now, McCoy rose to his feet and headed for the door, but Kirk stepped in

front of him before he could leave.

McCoy stopped dead in his tracks. Kirk was very close to him, and could hear his

ragged breathing. Their eyes met, and Jim could not look away. He had never seen

McCoy so intense, almost as if he were possessed, and Kirk shivered at the

expression on his face.

Without any warning, McCoy placed a strong hand behind Jim's head and kissed him.

Kissed him *hard*, forcing his tongue into the other man's mouth, bruising his

lips, digging his fingers into Jim's scalp.

Shocked, Jim pushed him away. "What the Hell are you doing, Bones?"

McCoy did not answer, just looked at him with glittering eyes.

Suddenly angry, Jim clenched his fists and took a step back. "How could you?

He's only been dead for three days, and you're doing this to me? *How could you?*

Did you think... did you think..."

Jim was shaking, inexplicably furious, and couldn't continue. He noticed vaguely

that McCoy suddenly looked befuddled, as if unable to comprehend what he had just

done, but Jim had been so unstrung by the events of the past few days that he

wasn't thinking rationally, and didn't allow it to fully register. He shouted at


"Get out, get out, get away from me!" To his horror, he realized that his voice

was breaking. "Go away."

He turned away from McCoy, and soon heard the door open and close. He was alone


What had just happened? Did McCoy think that he was looking for someone to

replace Spock? With despair, he understood that he had not only lost his best

friend and soulmate, he was in danger of losing McCoy, too. He knew that they

should try to talk it over, but it was more than he could contend with right now.

He decided to wait until tomorrow.

Before he found a minute alone with McCoy the next day, however, he received a

message that someone had broken into Spock's quarters. His heart pounding, he

had walked through that familiar door to find the doctor, out of his mind,

talking nonsense about Vulcan.

McCoy had collapsed in his arms, and Kirk had frantically called for the medics.

Clutching his friend, he wondered if McCoy had lost his sanity, and thought that

he, Kirk, might, too.

Copyright ?1998 by SIC

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