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) 2005 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG.



METAMORPHOSIS: THE RIDDLE OF LOVE

Cheree Cargill



Stardate: 3230.2, Personal Log, First Officer Spock recording.

The Epsilon Canaris war is now officially over. For the past month we have been shuttling diplomats back and forth between that world - where civil war broke out not long after Assistant Federation Commissioner Nancy Hedford had to be taken off for medical reasons -- and various outposts and shuttle rendezvous. Now hostilities have ceased and Federation negotiators are in place once more, where peace talks have produced a truce between the warring parties.

The ship is settling back into its own peace of day-to-day activities and we are on our way to a much deserved R&R on Risa. I now have time to rest in my own way, to meditate, and to reflect on what I have observed and learned following all that has happened. I find my thoughts turning again and again to the conclusion of the incident that diverted us from our emergency retrieval mission in the first place.

We have told no one about finding Zephrem Cochrane. He is correct in his wish to be left alone. But he is not alone any longer and indeed has not been for the past one hundred and fifty years. The Companion has sustained him, nursed him ... loved him for all that time. We are no closer to understanding this being than when we - or indeed Cochrane - first encountered it. She says that the planetoid is her 'place of beginning.' Is she the last of her kind? Did the planet's breakup millennia ago wipe out all the rest? Is she the only one left? How lonely she must have been after all that time to seek out one so alien for her own companion.

I find it difficult to fathom that this incorporeal entity could be so steeped in the emotion that humans call love. I have never felt this emotion. I do not know love, except perhaps for my mother when I was very young -- before I was trained to deny and defeat such aberrations of the Vulcan soul.

It is a complex emotion, with many facets. I have often observed its many visages in my encounters around the ship. Once I came upon Lt. Uhura holding and comforting Lt. Palmer in a nook of the observation lounge. For a second I thought I had stumbled upon a sexual tryst, but then I realized that Palmer was crying, her face buried in Uhura's neck and Uhura was holding her as a mother would, rocking and soothing her.

"He didn't even say goodbye," Palmer was sobbing. "He just left without a word! I thought he loved me!"

"Shhhh,"Uhura was cooing as she patted the other communications officer's back as one would a child. "I know it hurts, sweetheart. I know..."

I hurried away before they could see me, intensely uncomfortable.

Another time I went searching for the Captain and found him in Dr. McCoy's cabin. McCoy had obviously been drinking heavily and was mechanically downing yet another glass of amber liquid. Captain Kirk, however, was stone cold sober and motioned me outside into the corridor, where he signed the report I had brought him.

"Is the doctor quite all right?" I asked for I had never seen him practically unconscious with drink.

"He'll be all right tomorrow," the Captain answered, his brows bunched together as he scribbled his name on the padd. "It's the anniversary of his divorce. He gets this way every year." Kirk sighed and handed the report back to me. "All these years and he still loves her." He shook his head and disappeared back to sit with his friend and care for him.

I remember a landing party in which Ensign Meriwether willingly gave his life protecting a fellow security guard. It was a conscious sacrifice, for the circumstances dictated that one must die so that the other might live. Warman lay wounded and we could not reach him to pull him to the point where he could be transported up. Before any of us could act, Meriwether leaped forward and shielded his comrade with his body, taking the Sicans' poison darts so that Warman could be rescued. As he died, I heard him gasp to Warman, "I love you, brother. I love you."

I think of Nurse Chapel and her determined quest to find Dr. Korby. The only reason she undertook such a seemingly impossible task was because she loved him with all her heart. I observed the grief she experienced when we found that he was dead and replaced by an android copy of himself. I know that she mourned him and then resumed her life, beginning over here on the Enterprise. And I know that she has declared love for me.

The fact distresses me considerably because I am incapable of returning the emotion, even if I wished to do so. It does not seem to deter her. And yet I have also seen her display caring and affection for anyone who comes under her charge. She goes out of her way to minister to them, whether it is taking food to crewmembers confined to their cabins or unflinchingly cleaning wounds and broken bodies or cheering patients who have succumbed to depression and hopelessness.

So many types of love, so endlessly and effortlessly expressed by humans. I cannot comprehend what it must be like to give or receive such a complex and enigmatic emotion. It is impossible. Vulcans do not love.

And yet I have looked upon my father and mother and know that it exists between them. I have a memory of peeking into their bedroom once before they had awakened. They lay together, entwined in sleep, my father's arms wrapped around my mother's body, holding her close and protectively. It was something I had never seen them display before, either in public or in private, for Sarek was the paradigm of Vulcan logic and control and rigid in his practice of the Disciplines.

But I have never forgotten it. Never.

It makes me wonder, now ... if love is something that might be learned? And if I shall ever hold T'Pring that way, caressing her face and sharing our secret in the privacy of the night? And I wonder, too, if she will embrace me in return and whisper my name in the dark?

I wonder ... will she love me?

THE END