DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 2006 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG.

THE DEADLY YEARS: GROW OLD WITH ME

Cheree Cargill

Stardate: 3479.5, Personal Log, First Officer Spock recording.

As Nurse Chapel leans across me to tighten the straps holding me to the treatment bed, I am suddenly reminded of my mother. Not, of course, that she is at all like Mother or that Mother was ever forced to strap me into bed, but Nurse Chapel is Human and has blue eyes and soft yet strong hands. But I abruptly reflect on our vast age difference.

No, that is not quite correct either. I will begin again. It is difficult to think. My mind is aging more rapidly than my body, which is also failing as the disease progresses. The "older" I become, the quicker deterioration occurs. I must be over 200 now... That is old even for a Vulcan and my Human half must be making me age far faster than I ... um ...

What was I saying...? Oh, yes. I thought about the age difference between Mother and Father. Father is 45 years older than Mother. He has just turned ... what is it ... 102, I believe. And she is ... 59? 60? No, she is 59. I remember when I was eight, she ...

Concentrate, Spock!

I take a deep breath and focus hard on my train of thought. It is difficult now.

Mother is at the end of middle age, as Humans call it, and will soon be considered elderly. Father is still young and vigorous, a Vulcan in his prime. When Mother is truly old, he will still be that way and, barring disease or accident, Mother will surely die long before he does. Perhaps his early retirement was because he wished to spend as much time as possible with her in her remaining years. Sarek could live for another hundred years or more after my mother dies. Did they consider this when they married? The discrepancy in the life spans of Vulcans and Humans?

I think of it now as Christine ... Nurse Chapel bends over me, fitting the head restraints into place. Chronologically, I am only five years older than she, but because of this aging disease, that has stretched to the equivalent of nearly two centuries. Did I say that I am over 200 now? I am frail, losing muscle mass, my hair nearly white, and my strength fading fast. If this adrenalin treatment does not work, I will die here on this table, an old man ... a very old man ...

She smiles down at me, her eyes soft and reassuring, but I can see fear in them, too. She loves me and, somewhere deep in her soul, a battle is waging -- hope versus farewell. I cannot keep my own fear from showing. I'm going to die!

Quickly Christine lays her hand atop mine, no longer caring about proprieties, and grips my withered fingers in hers. I grip back with all the strength I can muster.

"Ready, Spock?" asks Dr. McCoy from the other side of the table.

I nod slightly and close my eyes, my heart beating faster.

I feel the sting of the hypospray against my shoulder and tense for the reaction.

It is not long in coming. A flush of heat rushes through my veins and my heart begins to pound even faster as the adrenalin surges through my body. I suck in breath reflexively, but it doesn't help. Every muscle cramps, bringing with it searing pain.

I cry out, buck up against the straps -- to no avail. Heat -- no, fire consumes me! Heart thrashes wildly against ribs! Can't breathe -- muscles knot -- convulsions! Hearing filled with thunder of racing blood! Vision goes black!

I fight insanely to free myself from the straps! Screaming! Tearing! Is it fabric or flesh? Blazing pain!

Heart goes from furious beat to quavering seizure!

Faintly I hear a voice, far away. "He's arresting!"

"Crash cart!!"

I can no longer hear. Someone or something is shrieking like an animal being butchered, I feel my body ripping to shreds, my heart exploding inside me -- blackness, silence, peace...

I am dead...

* * *

Vulcans don't dream, they say, therefore this must be real. I am standing on the terrace of my home in ShiKahr. It is dawn and the sun has turned the sky above to apricot as it spreads its rays above the mountains.

It is cold and I shiver, but the fresh desert air and sounds of kiq birds fluttering in the spiky plants bring back to me the serenity of childhood. A rustling brings my attention to the hedges and a huge beloved head appears. I cannot stop myself from smiling in delight as I-Chaya pushes through and lumbers toward me. I have not seen him in so long--

No, wait. He is dead. He died when I was seven, during my kahswan. Then I remember. I am dead as well. We are together at last. Putting my arms around his neck, I bury my face in his dusty fur and drink in his well-remembered scent.

I hear a light step on the flagstones and look up. Mother is standing there. She is young again, dressed in house robes, braiding her long brown hair so that it drapes over her shoulder. This does not make sense. Mother is very much alive ... unless ...

"No, Spock, I haven't died," she assures me. "I am alive in your memories this way. It is how you remember me best."

I stand and walk toward her. "How can this be then?" I ask. "I do not understand."

"You had a question for me," she replies in a seeming non-sequitur. "About your father and me."

I evidently look perplexed, for she smiles and reaches up to caress my cheek. "You wondered if we thought about our ages when we married."

"Yes. That he would outlive you."

She slips her hands into the pockets of her robes and moves away, examining her roses which are in full bloom. "Of course we did. We thoroughly discussed every aspect of the consequences of a Human marrying a Vulcan. We went over our families' objections to the union, whether or not we would or could have children, the role of a Vulcan wife and what would be expected of me, giving up my career as opposed to flaunting tradition and continuing to teach, everything we could think of. We knew from the very start that Sarek would likely live long past my death."

She turns back and her face is serene. "But no one -- Human or Vulcan -- knows how long they will live, Spock. Couples have died on their wedding day. Couples have lived into vast old age and died together because they could not live without each other. Women have died in childbirth. Men have died in wars. Both have died from disease or accident or murder." Her eyes become intent as they bore into me. "No one, Spock, no one knows how long they've got. But one thing transcends it all -- love! Your father and I loved each other when we married and we love each other even more today. That's what makes it possible and worthwhile to endure that uncertainty.

"There is an old Earth poem, Spock, by Robert Browning. It says, 'Come, grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.'" Mother smiles wistfully now. "I hope your father and I have many more years together. I am beginning to get old, but I firmly believe that the best is yet to be for us. I hope the best is yet to be for you, too, son."

She reaches up and strokes her fingers down my cheek. "Now, it's time for you to wake up, Spock. Wake up ... wake up ..."

* * *

I snap my eyes open and find Nurse Chapel gently running a cool cloth across my forehead and down my cheek. Darting my gaze to the other side of the bed, I see Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy and Dr. Wallace all watching me anxiously. They are all grinning insanely.

I clear my throat experimentally and am surprised to find my voice restored to its usual timbre. "By the expressions of relief on your faces, it is logical to assume that the serum worked," I say.

All break into laughter. "You assume correctly, Spock," answers the Captain. "But you scared the holy beejeezus out of us! We thought we'd lost you there! But you're back to normal now!"

I feel strangely numb from the chest down. As I am covered with a blanket, I cannot see the reason. "In that case, why can I not move?"

"You're in a regeneration field," Dr. McCoy answers. "I gave you a particularly potent shot of the adrenalin mixture and you tore loose several muscles and broke a couple of bones in the process. You'll be confined to sickbay until you heal."

"I see." I raise one eyebrow and ponder my predicament. "And how long will that take?"

"About four days ... if you're a good boy," McCoy responds, crossing his arms. "Jim, ladies ... let's let Spock get some rest now so those bones will knit. Christine will be just around the corner, Spock. Holler if you need her."

"Thank you, Doctor. I shall ... um ... holler."

I watch them walk away, though Chapel remains for a moment, the damp cloth still in her hand. "Can I get you anything, Mr. Spock?"

"Thank you, Nurse. I am comfortable."

She nods and retreats to her office. As she walks away, I watch her go and hear a voice seem to whisper in my mind, "Come, grow old with me..."

THE END