McCoy and a Lieutenant Garrovick are tortured and killed by Romulans in an attempt to induce Kirk to return to them Kerl, the inventor of the cloaking device, who has sought asylum. Kirk could not accede to their demands, so he could not save the men.
Spock takes Kirk back to his quarters to comfort him. Kirk will not accept a mind meld to ease the pain, so instead Spock strips him, bathes him, and redresses him. Finally, the two cry together, and Spock puts Kirk in his bed and "[crawls] in beside him, too spent to bother with undressing. As he let sleep take him, he permitted himself the venial luxury of throwing one protective arm across Jim's chest."