They take longer to say goodnight

It took them a quick moment to reach their bedroom doors. James Kirk turned toward his companion and studied the familiar face with a new appreciation. Those lines, the bags under his eyes--probably the result of losing sleep over his patients. // lot of compassion in that man, // he reflected.

"Bones?" His voice sounded embarrassingly tentative, even to his own ears. "Were you trying to tell me something? 'Sthere something I should know?"

The physician stood up a little straighter, worked to find the right answer. "Ah, Jim, I'm not quite sure. It's just--sometimes--well, sometimes I feel--you seem--you seem very familiar. As if I know you better than I think I do. I can't really describe it."

Both laughed a little nervously. "Anything in particular I'm supposed to do about it?"

"Nah, just follow the doctor's orders. Get more sleep, relax more. Same old story--you know the ending." He began to bring his hand up to wave a vague goodnight.

But suddenly Kirk could see a shadowy outline around his friend, taller, even thinner, with a hand raised in a very familiar gesture. Without thinking he stepped forward, cupped McCoy's chin in his hand, and gently kissed him. His free hand found the doctor's fingers, half in a Vulcan salute.

A spark leapt instantly between them. It went out as suddenly. Both men jumped a little and stepped clumsily back. McCoy rubbed his mouth with the back of his hand absently. They said nothing, just stared.

"Bones, I'm really sorry. For a moment, it was like ... when ... like Spock..." But he couldn't complete the sentence.

Gently the doctor said, "Goodnight, Jim. Sleep well." He squeezed his friend's shoulder in a firm grip, then turned carefully away and shut the door between them.



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