But when Carol comes to find him, he isn’t in the med bay. Jim knows Joanna’s birthday by now, knows, and allows him a few days to recover afterwards, every year. He’s damn grateful for it, and it’s a silent understanding they have that doesn’t ever have to be discussed. Somehow, he has no idea how, really, he manages to at least shower. Dressing, however, is left to a pair of worn jeans and a plain white t-shirt. He doesn’t have the energy to shave, yet, and he keeps the room dark, trying to nurse his hangover best he can without leaving the room.

His gut churns whenever he thinks about his actions..partially for Joanna (that sting never really leaves,) but mostly for the things he said. Things he said to Chekov, and god, to Carol. The amount he revealed, how he acted-he’s ashamed and guilt-ridden and sick to his stomach about it. He’s sitting on his bed with a cool cloth over his eyes when he hears a metallic knock on his door. With a groan, he reluctantly forces his legs to move, so distracted by the blinding pain in his skull that he doesn’t think too much about at least opening it to see who it is.

But it’s her, and his heart leaps into his throat while his stomach drops.