Disclaimers: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. All other characters are mine. Copyright © 1980 by Toni Cardinal-Price. This story was written for the pure enjoyment of the ST genre and no profit was earned or expected from its creation. Rated PG.



The Wasted Time

Toni Cardinal-Price



All the time

All the wasted time

All the years

Waiting for a sign

To think I had it all

All the time

(Barry Manilow - Marty Panzer)



He stood in the doorway of his room, staring into the darkness for a moment before entering. He had hoped never again to see this place, for his presence here now meant he had failed in his quest to alter his life ... failed to achieve the goal he'd so rigidly set upon himself more than two and a half years ago. Failed to find that elusive inner peace he so desperately sought.

It was not to be. As he crossed the small room to stand before the flickering firepot near the wall, he felt the full force of defeat sweep him and he slumped to his knees and lowered his head in anguish.

He did not cry -- he was too much a Vulcan for that. Yet, the Human blood within him brought him to the brink of tears and left him trembling as he knelt.

Two point eight years. At times it had felt like centuries. Two point eight years of studying, training, self-discipline. Controlling his mind in a manner so rigid that even most pure Vulcans were incapable. Overlong periods of fasting, of total withdrawal, or self-denial ... of pain ... of loneliness.

Two point eight years of trying to forget; the ship ... his life ... Jim. And he had almost succeeded.

Almost.

Spock of Vulcan shuddered once then wearily stood. He looked down at the necklace he still clutched in his hand, and let his fingers trace the pattern on the ornament once more. Symbols in ancient Vulcan spelled out his name, acknowledged his achievement of Kolinahr -- announced his mastery of the most difficult of all Vulcan disciplines. A necklace he would never wear.

Walking to the firepot, Spock held the necklace over the glowing coals and very slowly lowered it into the heat. He stood back and gazed into the firepot pensively.

Until this morning he had deemed himself worthy of the award of total logic. He had finally been able to erase all emotion from his heart, to banish all thoughts of Kirk from his mind. To quell the painful ache of loneliness he had felt since leaving the Enterprise. Until this morning, he actually believed he had eradicated all that was Human within him. Then his life was altered in an instant by a force he still did not understand.

Looking away from the firepot, Spock let his gaze roam idly around the small room. Everything was the same as it had been two years ago. His clothes remained in a clean neat pile on the bed, his sandals on the floor next to a chair. The room had been untouched, as was Vulcan tradition, and indeed only few Vulcans had even seen such a place. In all of its history, only forty-three Vulcans had attempted the achievement of Kolinahr. This room had served as lodging for each of them; those who succeeded, and those who failed, And yet, once training began, the desert of ShiKahr was the only home each student knew until decision from the Masters was given. An empty room, cut into the stone mountain which served as home for the Masters on this plateau of Gol. A lonely empty room, save the bed, chair and firepot.

Spock moved to the chair, picking up his clothes and retrieving his sandals from the floor. Then he walked out the door, crossing to another dark chamber which contained the natural spring used for bathing. Steam from the water clung to his dusty skin and he pulled his tattered garment over his head and dropped it onto the stone floor. He stepped into the water, letting the heat soothe the aches of his body and feed the ache of his soul. He closed his eyes tightly against a sudden surge of grief and remained motionless until he had the emotion safely under control. Then he picked up a bar of crude soap and began to wash.

He stayed in the water for a long while, washing the dust from every crevice of his body ... slowly, meticulously, knowing he was procrastinating. He was reluctant to leave, for he knew he could never return to this place, never attempt Kolinahr again. The confusion and loss he felt was almost overwhelming.

Once out of the water, he stood naked for a long moment before finally dressing in the clothes he had last worn two point eight years ago. The soft Vulcan garment clung to his damp skin as he bent to fasten his sandals.

Footsteps from behind drew his attention. He stood and turned around.

T'Sai stood before him and Spock immediately knelt before the leader of the Vulcan Masters. There was silence for a moment, then she said quietly, "You may rise, Spock of Vulcan. Your obedience to me is no longer an obligation."

Spock felt a small painful twist inside at her words. Since he was no longer a student of Kolinahr, he was no longer obligated to kneel before her. He stood slowly but kept his eyes downcast, intensely ill-at-ease.

"I come to you now because, having been your instructor for these past years, it is my duty to say what must now be said," the Vulcan Master informed him.

Spock acknowledged her right with a nod of his head. His eyes remained downcast.

"When you first came here to begin instruction in Kolinahr," T'Sai continued, "there was great discussion as to whether you had chosen the logical course for your life to follow. Being of Vulcan and Human blood, you set a precedent among two races; you were an enigma, with a personality entirely your own. Yet, in our first mind-meld then, I learned the extreme conflicts you felt because of your dual heritage. Your constant dissatisfaction with yourself, your over-critical attitude towards the emotions you felt, and your guilt at feeling them."

Spock winced slightly at her words, turning his head in shame.

"You were desperate to find yourself, to grasp that inner peace you had searched for so long. You chose the most strict of Vulcan lifestyles as your quest: Kolinahr. Yet, in doing so, you had to deny half of your heritage, half of what makes you a living, functioning intelligent being. Still, your determination to succeed was fierce -- your devotion strong. Throughout your training, you remained an obedient student, and I came to see that you approached your training with an intensity that was almost self-destructive. Yet, it was not my place to intervene -- I was here only to instruct you."

Spock's shame encompassed his entire body. He turned fully away.

"Kolinahr became a life or death conquest for you; the last remaining chance for you to find sanity ... lest you be consumed by the madness your dual heritage seemed to destine you to. And very slowly, painstakingly, you began to win your private battle. You showed mind discipline that would honour any Vulcan. Your willingness, devotion, surpassed that of any of the others who have attempted Kolinahr. Myself included. Finally, you achieved that level of discipline which made you worthy of Kolinahr. You conquered that half of you which you had spent a lifetime dreading. Or so you thought, until today."

Spock shuddered and closed his eyes. A moment of silence passed before T'Sai spoke again.

"Today, this consciousness from space which contacted your mind, once again altered your future, changed your destiny. Today you discovered that your Human half is an unconquerable, undeniable part of your being. And another consciousness touched your mind today -- called to your Human half and stirred emotions you had tried to submerge. Your bond with your captain proves ultimately that Kolinahr is not the logical choice for you, Spock. His presence in your memory is too strong to be denied. Your feelings for him run too deeply."

Spock could not answer. T'Sai's mention of Jim's name had frozen him into position, constricted his throat, nearly choking him. The Vulcan Master had touched his mind during the ceremony earlier and Spock had no choice but to open all his thoughts to her. She knew everything. She knew that the consciousness that had called to him from space had broken through his self-instilled barriers and had allowed his mind to be flooded with memories of Jim.

Jim. Yes ... Jim could not be denied. Jim was his t'hy'la -- even T'Sai knew that as fact now. His mind was irrefutably linked with Jim's. The fact that he had felt Kirk's thoughts today, even after nearly three years of separation and across light years in space, proved that. Spock turned to the Vulcan Master now, not even attempting to mask the confusion and desperation in his eyes. "T'Sai," he began, in a voice gruff with emotion. "I have spent my life searching ... for myself ... for a place

where I belong. I am no closer now to finding myself." His voice cracked in a final tribute to the shame he felt.

The woman before him remained silent for a moment but when she finally spoke, her voice held a note of understanding. "No, Spock," she said quietly, her eyes steadily holding his. "You have spent a lifetime denying half of your heritage. You tried to base your life on Vulcan standards, yet you are not Vulcan. You are a combination of two worlds. For you to continually deny your Human half is illogical. You must accept those positive qualities your dual heritage permit you to have and learn to temper the negative qualities. Most of all, you must learn to recognize that which you seek, and accept it once you find it. Perhaps you will find that what you searched for, was within your grasp all along. Perhaps your destiny was meant to be among those who have accepted you, even when you refused to accept yourself. Perhaps with your t'hy'la, you will find out what destiny the 'power' from space holds for you."

Spock's eyes darkened as he looked at the woman. Was it possible that she believed this consciousness ... this 'force' was somehow destined to draw him and Kirk together again? When he had sensed Jim's thoughts earlier, he had the distinct impression that his captain needed his help ... needed him. T'Sai must have received that impression also.

Failing at Kolinahr, Spock had no choice now but to act upon the emotions re-awakened within him. He would go to Jim ... to his t'hy'la. And perhaps this 'force' would hold his answers ... would provide his destiny. There was no future for him here on Vulcan. There never would be.

Spock found himself suddenly trembling. For the first time since returning to Vulcan, he let emotion sweep through him and take hold. A myriad of feelings flooded him, above all, a deep anxious yearning to return to the Enterprise ... to Jim. Somehow, he knew Jim would be back on the ship, in command once again. And Spock wanted to be there -- to help Kirk. Three years seemed suddenly too long to have stayed away.

A peculiar excitement filled him. If this unknown force did hold the answers he'd been looking for, then his lifelong search would soon be over. He would finally know who he was -- what he wanted from life -- where he belonged.

T'Sai cleared her throat and Spock's thoughts were abruptly terminated as his attention was brought back to the Vulcan Master. She raised her hand in the familiar salute. Spock did likewise. "Live long and prosper, Spock," she said quietly, her gaze holding him. "May you soon find the peace and tranquility of self-knowledge. May you recognize it once it is found."

She left silently and Spock stared into empty space for a long while after she was gone. Finally, he roused himself and looked one more time around the room.

Another chapter in his life was closing -- another attempt to find his place, to secure his future, had failed. He was once again a product of two heritages -- belonging to both and neither. An enigma.

He walked out of the room and out of the great stone mountain. He stood on the plateau of Gol, looking down over the vast desert of ShiKahr. Far in distance, he could see the outline of the city of his birth, his boyhood ... where his parents still resided. He would return to them now, make his preparations to leave Vulcan -- to enter space once more. To seek his future, his elusive destiny, and to return to Jim.

Spock of Vulcan and of Earth, stepped down from the plateau of Gol, and strode purposefully onto the hot desert sand.

THE END