Grief Management, Vulcan Style

(With Human Assistance)

by Farfalla the Butterfly-Kitten

Kirk and Spock promenaded through the corridors of the Enterprise after they were through eating dinner. Kirk had nearly managed to wipe the terror of being stranded in another dimension all afternoon from his mind, with the gallant assistance of four slices of pepperoni pizza and two nut-laden brownies. Under normal circumstances, McCoy would have had his head on a platter and the rest of him on a steamed broccoli diet--but it wasn't every day one was declared dead and found alive again. Kirk's gastronomic indiscretions were to be forgiven--McCoy, like every other member of the crew, was just relieved that the captain had been retrieved alive after all.

Kirk studied his Vulcan companion out of the corner of his eye as they walked. Spock's usual cool reserve hadn't wavered since his return, but he could sense that something was amiss. He wondered how Spock had dealt with the prospect of his death. He knew Spock had his own ways of processing emotion--something he knew the Vulcan possessed, despite his assertions to the contrary--and he was curious about what had gone through Spock's mind that day, if not worried as well.

They arrived at the door to Spock's quarters. "I shall see you in the morning, Captain," Spock informed him as the door slid open.

"Can I come in for a bit?" Kirk asked. Since Spock didn't stop him right away, he began to follow his friend inside. "I wanted to ask you about today--"

Then he stopped.

It took him a few moments to take in the sight of the shambles the room had become. All around the floor, from his feet all the way over to the bed, lay several dozen wads of used tissue. They were balled up and tossed this way and that, looking for all they were worth like a flock of albino tribbles.

The trail of tissues led his eyes naturally to the bed, which was a tangle of twisted and disturbed bedding. Part of the sheet was pulled off the mattress, and another bit trailed across the floor. The pillow was wadded up into a compact mass as if it'd had the stuffing hugged out of it. Part of it looked wet.

On the little folding table where they'd often played friendly games of 3-D chess, there was a half-eaten bowl of soup that Kirk assumed was plomeek. A skin had begun to form and nothing in the world would have convinced Kirk to sample it.

Kirk's eyes next fell upon the desk, where he blushed to see a small hologram of himself--an official one, taken in dress uniform last year--set up, surrounded by various 2-D photographs. Some of them were both him and Spock, and in others he was alone. A burned-out stick of incense reposed in the mouth of a clay beast nearby, the spent ashes at its feet.

Simultaneously touched and shocked, Kirk turned to Spock, whose face betrayed--somehow--absolutely nothing. "Spock?" he asked in a concerned voice, furrowing his brow slightly. "Are you... all right?"

Spock's eyes swept across the pile of tissues. It was a few moments before he replied, "I am in perfect condition. I merely suffered an... allergic response to the..." His eyes rose to meet Kirk's. "...loss..."

"...of me?" Kirk smiled, his heart melting. He stepped toward Spock, kicking aside tissues with every step. "I didn't like being lost. Being found feels much better."

Spock, still trying to pretend nothing was wrong, studied him as he drew nearer. Not a hair on that ever-Vulcan head was out of place.

Kirk had reached him, and laid a hand on his arm gently. "Got any energy left for a hug, after all that, uh, allergic reacting?"

Then Spock hugged him very, very tightly indeed. Kirk decided he was probably enjoying it much more than the tearstained pillow had.

And he could hug back.