DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Ster Julie and is copyright (c) 2004 by Ster Julie. Rated PG.



CATALYST

Ster Julie



Suddenly there was the sound of a ground car approaching. Kirk looked up from the progress reports on the Klingon Bird of Prey the crew had filed the night before. The Admiral enjoyed coming to the landing site in the cool of the Vulcan dawn before any of the others were even awake. It gave him a chance to clear his mind before starting the task of understanding their purloined ship. Perhaps a thorough report would encourage Starfleet to go easy on his crew when the court martial was held.

Kirk scarcely recognized the elderly Vulcan who approached him.

"Admiral. I would speak with you." Sarek! Kirk's eyes took in Sarek's appearance. He looked wrung out, not his usual stately self. He noted the Vulcan's too-rigid stance, the hollow eyes set in the impassive face. Something was terribly wrong.

"Mr. Ambassador." Kirk thought it better not to push. Sarek would deliver his message when he could.

Sarek opened and closed his mouth several times without uttering a word. Shaking himself, he swallowed and tried to speak again.

"My wife informs me that Spock is 'going through a rough patch' in his recovery," the elderly Vulcan rasped. Kirk cocked his head.

"'A rough patch'?" he repeated. "What do you mean?" Sarek looked away, as if searching for the right words.

"Spock has been trying to relearn the disciplines from the adepts, but his disordered memories are proving this to be difficult. He has had..." Sarek turned farther away, as if he feared the words. "Amanda has called it a `nervous breakdown,'" he whispered. Sarek looked down at his tightly clenched hands. Kirk saw that they were trembling. He whipped out his communicator.

"Kirk to McCoy!" he shouted.

"McCoy here," came the sleepy answer. Kirk pulled the communicator closer.

"Get over to the ship now!" he barked. "Use a transporter. Spock's in trouble."

"Understood. McCoy out." Kirk turned back to Sarek.

"Please wait for Dr. McCoy to arrive," he said, escorting Sarek over to a shaded bench. The Vulcan allowed himself to be led. He sat down heavily, wearily.

In a few minutes, the whine of a transporter could be heard. McCoy looked around until he found the two men seated near the ship.

"Sarek? Jim, what's wrong?" When Sarek didn't respond at first, Kirk spoke up.

"Spock's had a nervous breakdown, Bones." Sarek's shoulders sagged. McCoy put a hand out to him, barely touching his robes.

"I'm so sorry, Sarek. How can we help?" Sarek began to nod, then shook his head.

"I do not know. All of Spock's classes have been canceled until this crisis passes." If it passes, Sarek thought. He took in a deep breath. "He just sits on the floor and rocks himself. He cannot see clearly because he has locked his inner eyelids into place." Sarek heaved a great sigh. "It is most distressing," he said, passing a hand over his face. "Amanda discovered something that brought Spock some comfort," he murmured. "She said that she just sat quietly with him for a length of time. Then he seemed to remember phrases and bits of conversation that he had with her in his lifetime. Eventually, he opened his inner eyelids and called her by name. There was recognition in his voice." Sarek looked at his hands clasped in his lap. "But it was short lived. Eventually, Amanda convinced me to do as she had done." Sarek grew very quiet and didn't speak for several moments. "It seems," he began in a very small voice, "that he is relating to us only on a very emotional level, and there has been much pain connecting my son and me. He only remembers the animosity between us. It is a bitter thing to bear."

Kirk leaned his forearms on his knees as he thought. "Do you think we should each go to him and try this process. Would that help?" Kirk turned to McCoy. "Bones, do you think that will help?" McCoy looked to Sarek before replying. The Vulcan nodded.

"Yes, Jim," he answered, "I think it would be a very good idea, as long as there are medical personnel there to assist." Sarek nodded.

"There is a healer there with him at all times." Kirk rubbed his hands together and stood up.

"Bones, you notify the crew. I'll go first."

* * *

Kirk did not recognize his friend at first. Spock was prone on the floor. His robe was dirty and stained, his mane of hair was mussed. He was hugging himself and rocking from side to side.

Kirk drew near and put out a hand to touch Spock's shoulder. A strong hand shot out and prevented the touch. The healer gently pulled Kirk's hand away and shook his head.

"He is unable to shield his thoughts," he whispered. Kirk nodded in understanding.

"Spock," he crooned, trying to caress his friend with his voice, since he was prevented from using his hands. "Spock, it's Jim." Spock turned his face away from Kirk and scooted closer to the wall.

Kirk waited. Twenty minutes passed, and nothing was forthcoming. Kirk rose stiffly from his place on the floor and moved away.

"The creature attacked me," Spock said, curling into a tight ball. Kirk stopped in his tracks. "When I feel friendship for you, I am ashamed," the Vulcan whispered. "I am a Vulcan. I must master my emotions. I must control." Spock clutched a hand to his chest. "No, Captain. I can travel." He looked up at Kirk, a wide grin on his face. "JIM!"

Kirk flew back to Spock's side.

"Yes, Spock," he breathed, a matching smile on his own face. Spock's face crumpled, his gaze dimmed, and he turned back on his side.

"Healer," he whimpered. The healer took Kirk's arm and ushered him from the room.

"What is it? What happened?"

"That is how Spock signals the end of the session," Amanda said. Kirk turned to her.

"Have you been here the whole time?" She nodded, studying his face carefully.

"It didn't go well?" she asked. Kirk shrugged.

"I don't know. He remembered a few more things." Kirk shoved his hands into his pockets as he looked back into the room. Amanda saw Kirk's eyes stray back to the healer.

"He's there for protection," she said softly.

"For us or for Spock?" Kirk asked. Amanda shrugged.

"Both. If Spock gets too agitated, the healer will calm him down. If one of Spock's visitors gets too excited, or won't leave, the healer will clear the room." She lowered her head. "I found that out first hand," she said quietly.

The sound of footsteps interrupted them.

"I brought everybody, Jim," McCoy announced as he led Scott, Sulu, Chekhov and Uhura down the hall. Kirk looked around.

"Where's Saavik?" he asked.

"Saavik's been assigned to the base in Shikahr," McCoy answered. "She says she visits whenever she can."

"Yes," Amanda stated. "Saavik was here with us yesterday." Kirk nodded. He addressed his crew.

"I'm sure that Dr. McCoy has apprized you all of Spock's condition." Kirk looked around and saw them all nod their heads. "I am thanking you all for trying this. Here's what you do. Just sit with Spock. Tell him who you are, and that's all. Be sure not to touch him. He may repeat bits of conversations he has had with you in the past. If so, try to respond in kind. If you feel uncomfortable in any way, let the Healer know. The Healer will bring you back out here when the session is over. Any questions?" Scott raised a finger.

"If it's all the same to you, Admiral, I'd like to get back to work. Anyone mind if I go first?" Kirk grinned at Scott's devotion to his new bairns.

"Go right ahead, Scotty."

Scott remembered the day he first beamed the Vulcan onto the Enterprise. His first impression was how young Spock seemed. Like a race horse out the gate, he thought. There was an air of intensity, power, and wide-eyed wonder about him.

Scott looked at the disheveled, dirty, crumpled rag of a man on the floor before him, hugging his knees to his chest and rocking, rocking, rocking before him. He saw none of the kid fresh out of the Academy on his first deep-space mission. Scott sighed and sat on the only chair in the room.

"Hullo, lad," he said gently. "It's Montgomery Scott." Spock flashed the briefest of glances up at him, then resumed rocking.

"Cross circuiting to B," Spock said in a hoarse voice. Spock's face ticked to the side painfully. "You will beam me down to the planet surface. One of the creatures needs to be captured. We were unable earlier when I was attacked." Spock's body held still as he looked into Scott's eyes. "Scotty," he breathed. Scott smiled.

"Aye, lad," he breathed. Spock's eyes moved to the floor.

"Healer!" he moaned softly.

Scott found himself escorted to the hallway where the others were waiting. He stood quietly, then dragged a hand over his face.

"I'll be getting back to the ship noo," he muttered, moving quickly down the corridor.

Uhura peered anxiously into the darkened room. She had seen the grim faces of Kirk and Scott as they exited and wondered what kind of help she could possibly offer Spock. Any and all that I can, she thought. Taking a deep breath, Uhura squared her shoulders and strode into the room, trying to exude a confidence she didn't feel. Uhura found Spock sitting in the corner, palms on the wall, rocking back and forth. She sat on the floor next to Spock slowly, so that she would not frighten him.

"Hi, Sugar," she said softly. "It's Nyota Uhura."

Spock stopped rocking at the sound of her voice. He spun around to her suddenly and looked her squarely in the eyes. Uhura struggled to keep from flinching at that intent gaze. The fierce look faded, and Spock brought his fingers up to his chest and started plucking, as if his ka'athyra were propped in his lap. Spock looked to her expectantly.

Uhura didn't know what he expected of her. Just then, a weak, strangled sound came from Spock's throat.

"Where my heart is," he croaked. Uhura began to recognize the song Spock was trying to sing. "Beyond the stars," he continued.

"Beyond Antares," Uhura finished in wonder. Spock gave her a pleading look and reached his hands towards her dark face. Uhura tensed. They had been told not to touch Spock, but she didn't know if she was allowed to let him touch her.

Two strong hands gently clasped Spock's wrists centimeters from Uhura's cheeks. Spock looked with bewilderment at the healer. The healer spoke quietly but insistently. Spock yanked his hands free of the healer's grasp. Uhura watched sadly as his gaze drew inward again. Pulling away from them, Spock began to rock again, strumming his fingers over his ears.

"Healer!" he whined.

Uhura found herself experiencing the healer's strength as he pulled her to her feet and out the door. It was a good thing that he propelled her, because tears dimmed her vision and she didn't know where she was going.

Warm arms enveloped her as she reached the hallway.

"Thank you, Uhura." It was Admiral Kirk who held her. She should have known that he would still be there. "I know it was hard." Uhura squeezed the warm shoulders as tears streamed down her cheeks. "Are we doing any good?" She wiped her cheeks dry and Kirk released her. "Is any of this? How do we know if this is even helping?" Kirk rubbed her arms.

"Amanda says that we are to go 'on faith.' I think she is going to will Spock to get better."

There was an awkward silence. Sulu caught Chekhov's eye. The Russian was fidgeting nervously.

"Pav, do you want to go next, or shall I?" he asked quietly. Chekhov shrugged.

"I jest vant to get this over vith," he whispered. Kirk clapped him on the back in support.

Pavel Chekhov tiptoed into Spock's cell. He edged closer to his former mentor, wound as tight as a spring, ready to jump at first threat. This is silly, he thought. Spock took me under his wing. He taught me so much. Hell, he *died* for me, for all of us. I can *do* this! Chekhov cleared his throat, several times, before he could even speak. Spock threw him a disdainful glance from his place on the floor.

"Mr. Chekhov, your readings are totally unacceptable!" he bellowed. The Russian did jump then and moved quickly to the door.

Kirk and Sulu met him there.

"Mr. Chekhov?" Kirk began ominously.

"Oh please, Admiral, don't ask me to do this!" Chekhov begged.

"Don't tell me you're scared because Spock yelled at you," Kirk warned. "I'll order you, if I have to, you know." Chekhov shook his head.

"I am not frightened, sair. It's jest, it's jest that he was my teacher, and to see him this way..." Kirk put his hands on Chekhov's shoulders.

"Just try, Pavel," he soothed. "Spock gave everything for us. Helping him this way is the least we can do." Chekhov nodded and reentered the room. For the next half-hour, Chekhov watched as Spock sat on the floor, rocking and humming. Precisely thirty minutes into the Russian's visit, Spock announced, "Dismissed!"

Chekhov rose stiffly from the chair in which he had been seated and walked slowly to the door. Sulu met him at the doorway.

"I said, dismissed!" Spock ordered. Giving Sulu a quick look, he added, "Take D'Artagnan to Sickbay!"

Sulu exchanged glances with Admiral Kirk.

"Should I go in or not, Admiral?" Sulu asked quietly. Kirk looked over at Spock. The Vulcan had stretched out on the cot and was covering himself with a thin blanket. The healer had the last word.

"Spock has indicated that he wishes to rest," he said as he ushered the men out of the doorway. "You may return in the morning." Sulu eyed Chekhov as Kirk lingered behind, watching Spock sleep.

"Pav?" Sulu whispered. "Are you going to try again tomorrow?" Chekhov shook his head.

"Spock didn't have anything more to say to me today," he said sadly. "He won't tomorrow, I'm sure." Chekhov studied Sulu. "Are you coming back?" Sulu shrugged.

"I used to work with Spock a long time ago when I was assigned to Botany," he said softly. "It was interesting work, but not exciting. Since Spock is relating to us on an emotional level, there won't be much for him to say to me that he didn't say just now." Sulu crossed his arms and sighed. "No, I probably won't be back, either. I need to get back to work on that ship." Chekhov nodded and the two men walked pensively out of the monastery.

The next morning, Doctor McCoy entered Spock's cell. The Vulcan was on his knees, facing away from the door. His hands were pressed against the stone wall, and he traveled back and forth on his knees as if to seek another egress. The doctor gave a brief nod to the healer standing in the shadows. In the dim light, McCoy could see that there were green smears on the floor where Spock had been moving along the wall. Obviously, his knees were torn up from moving along on the stones. McCoy silently pointed it out to the healer who merely shrugged in response. Indeed, what could the healer do if Spock was uncooperative?

McCoy pulled the single chair closer to Spock, softly clearing his throat, trying to sound casual.

"Hello, Spock," he began quietly. "It's Leonard McCoy."

Spock turned his head to the doctor and held his gaze a moment as if to appraise him. He turned his head back to the wall.

"Such emotions are foreign to me, Doctor," he rasped. "I am a Vulcan." Suddenly, Spock's movements became more frantic. "It's killing the Captain!" he shouted. "Shoot! Shoot it, quickly!" McCoy lowered his head as he remembered Nancy Carter. Kirk had said that Spock's words would be from past conversations, but the doctor hadn't realized that those words would be so painful.

Spock drew himself up. "I have my own will, Doctor. I can control the pain." Then his face took on an almost bitter look. "Like all of your potions, Doctor, it is turning my stomach." Spock put his hands on his hips. "Being split in half is no theory with me, Doctor! I have a Human half, you see, as well as an alien half. Submerged. Constantly at war with one another!"

Spock picked up an imaginary item and held it out to McCoy. "Rigellian physiology is similar to Vulcan." Then he pulled his hands behind his back and said, "On what grounds, Doctor?"

McCoy was fascinated by the emotional roller coaster that Spock's words evoked. Spock was not done, it seemed.

"Doctor, I am seeking a means of escape. Will you please be brief?" The next words made McCoy jump.

"What are you doing to her?" Spock barked. He launched himself at the doctor and grabbed the front of his tunic, "I don't like that," Spock sneered. "I don't think I ever did, and now I'm sure." The healer came quickly from across the room and pulled Spock's hands away from McCoy.

"Remember," Spock said as the healer hauled him back to the wall. McCoy's eyes misted over. To see his friend so broken...

"Healer!" Spock cried, writhing on the stone floor. "Healer!" The healer led McCoy to the door before turning back towards Spock. "Are there no more?" Spock croaked.

"No more what, Spock?" the healer whispered. Spock stretched his arms to the doorway.

"Healer!" he moaned piteously. The healer leaned closer to Spock.

"I am here," he said simply. Spock thrashed about, shaking his head back and forth.

"Not you," he spat. The healer was puzzled.

"Then who...?"

"The fair healer," Spock whimpered. "I want the fair healer." Spock's arms were stretched towards McCoy. "He knows, he knows."

McCoy found himself on the receiving end of Spock's pleas. It didn't take long for him to figure out whom it was that Spock wanted. The healer turned towards the doctor.

"Do you know of whom he speaks?" he asked. McCoy nodded.

"I think so," he responded, "but we will have to call in a lot of favors and pull a lot of strings to bring her here." The healer eased Spock back to the floor.

"Do whatever to must to bring this 'fair healer' here quickly, Doctor McCoy. Spock's sanity is depending on you."

* * *

Christine Chapel stood outside monastery gates that had seen more action in the past few days than they had in the last ten years. As she waited for the door chime to be answered, Christine wondered why Spock would be asking for her. He scarcely gave her the time of day while they served on board the Enterprise. And she did not want to even think of the debacle of Psi 2000 or Platonius.

The large door of the monastery opened and one of the monks gestured silently for the doctor to enter and follow.

Christine was led to a darkened room at the end of a long side corridor. She heard a rustling beside her and turned to find Amanda stepping out of the shadows. "Doctor Chapel, it is so good of you to come," she whispered. Christine took the woman's outstretched hands and squeezed then gently.

"Lady Amanda, it is good to see you again." She turned her head to peek at Spock, huddled on the far wall of the room. His hands clutched at his ears as he rocked back and forth. Turning back to the older woman, she asked, "How is he?"

Amanda put her hands to her mouth to hide her quivering chin. She tried, unsuccessfully, to blink back tears.

"It has been so very difficult for Spock," she began quietly. "The stress that he has been under to sort through his jumbled memories has been his undoing." Amanda turned to wipe an escaping tear from her cheek. Christine stirred uncomfortably.

"Amanda, why am I here?" she asked in a low voice. "I was not on the ship when Spock died. We haven't served together for years."

"Your crewmates have each been coming to Spock and that has helped him with some of the memories, but he has indicated that it has not been enough." Amanda met the doctor's gaze. "We think he has been asking for you." Christine's eyebrows flew up.

"You think?" Amanda shrugged.

"He keeps asking 'Is there no more?' When we ask him who is missing, all he says is, 'The fair healer'. And he tells us that McCoy knows." Christine was quiet a moment.

"So, he is fairly talkative. That's a good sign, isn't it?" Amanda shrugged, then shook her head. "Who knows, really?" Amanda pulled herself to her full height, and patted Christine's hand. "We'll just go on faith." Amanda led Christine closer to Spock. "Don't touch Spock or speak to him unless he addresses you first. He might pull out a bit of conversation he once had with you. If you remember the occasion, try to respond as you did then. If you find that you are uncomfortable with whatever is occurring, let the healer know. He will stay with you the whole time, and will stop the session whenever you ask."

Christine quietly absorbed all that Amanda was telling her. She found herself fighting back fear as she looked at the pitiful creature Spock had become. Taking a deep breath she stepped even closer and crouched near him. She was vaguely aware of Amanda withdrawing from the room.

"Spock?" Christine called quietly. "It's Christine Chapel." Spock paused briefly in his rocking and flashed a glance at her. He withdrew his hands slowly from his ears and clasped them at his waist.

"Welcome to the Enterprise, Lieutenant Chapel," he said. Then he shook his head. "Nurse? ... I'm sorry. I am sorry." Christine watched as Spock's face screwed up in anger. "What is this?" he shouted. "If I wanted anything from you I would ask for it!" Then Spock's face looked tired, bewildered. "I had the most startling dream. You were trying to tell me something but I couldn't hear you ... It would be illogical for us to protest against our natures, don't you think?" Spock stretched out his hand to remembered tears on Christine's cheek. "Your face is wet." She had nearly forgotten the tenderness of his touch that day. Fresh tears filled her eyes. Spock clasped his hands together. "Christine ... would you make me some of that plomeek soup?" Then Spock's face showed a deep struggle. "We have tried ... I haven't the power. I am deeply sorry. I have failed you."

Suddenly, Christine noticed that Spock was leaning forward to kiss her, as the Platonians had forced him to that awful day years ago. She pulled back from Spock, but he put a gentle hand behind her head and drew her near. Christine closed her eyes as his lips touched hers gently, sweetly. That wasn't how she remembered it happening!

"Christine." She opened her eyes to Spock's clear, steady gaze.

"Spock?" she breathed. He smiled gently and fingered the hair at the back of her neck. "You are here!" he whispered in delight. She nodded.

"I heard that you were asking for me," she said, suddenly shy. Spock's eyes twinkled.

"It is good that you are here." Christine was puzzled.

"Why me, Spock? We haven't served together for years. You had all the Bridge officers here. Why weren't they enough?" Spock stroked her cheek with his thumb. "Christine, who was it that stood by my side whenever I was sick or injured? Who always nursed me back to health?" Christine drew her head back.

"Well, Dr. McCoy would want to claim credit for some of that," she smiled. The corners of Spock's eyes crinkled with mischief.

"That he would!" Christine caressed Spock's cheek as she chuckled. She looked deeply into his eyes.

"Are you better now?" Spock nodded.

"Thanks to you," he murmured. Christine shook her head.

"So quickly?" she asked, puzzled. Spock took her head in his hands.

"You were my catalyst, Christine," he breathed. "All the others brought me closer, but it took you, our memories to lead me back." A confused look passed over her face.

"So, then, are you healed? Are you your old self?" Spock shook his head.

"I doubt that I will ever be my 'old self,'" he said sadly. "But, now that I am more settled, and more open to retraining, I can concentrate on building a new self." Spock pulled her even closer. "And I want you to be part of that new self."

Christine pulled back. Oh, how easy it would be to throw herself into Spock's arms and cry, "Yes! Yes, a thousand times, yes!" like some sappy melodrama. Disengaging herself from Spock's embrace, she stood and paced away from him. Christine knew that she had to choose her words carefully. She did not want to throw Spock into a relapse. She turned to meet his expectant gaze.

"Will you be returning to Earth once your training is complete?" Spock nodded.

"Yes," he replied. "I must give witness at the court-martial." Christine nodded.

"Well then, you need to concentrate on your classes now, Spock," she answered, "and on getting well. I must return to my duties on Earth. I will see you at the trial. We can talk more about us then." Spock's face fell. After a moment, he nodded.

"I remember the demands of duty," he replied. "I understand." Then he turned miserable eyes up to Christine. "But I don't have to like it," he said in a small voice. Christine gasped softly in response. She chuckled softly as she moved closer and took Spock's face in her hands.

"No, Spock, you don't have to like it one bit!"

Amanda looked up as Christine left the room and noticed the pleased look on the doctor's face.

"I take it that everything went well." Christine smiled.

"It did indeed." She squeezed Amanda's outstretched hands. "He is asking to see Sarek again." Amanda frantically fished for her communicator.

"Oh, dear. I hope he hasn't left for Earth yet," she said, flipping the device open and initiating the link.

"Sarek here," came the reply.

"Sarek, are you able to return to the monastery, or have you already left?" she asked.

"I was about to board the shuttle. What has happened?" Amanda smiled.

"Our son is asking for you." There was a long pause. "Sarek?"

"No doubt he has remembered other painful events between us," the Vulcan said quietly. Amanda's heart ached for her husband.

"Not at all, Sarek," she said gently. "Spock's crisis seems to have passed. He is doing so much better. Come and see for yourself." Another long moment elapsed. Amanda heard footsteps, quiet orders, and the rustle of heavy fabric.

"Very well. I will be there shortly. Sarek out."

* * *

Amanda met her husband at the gates and touched hands with him briefly. Sarek held his breath at the hopeful look in her eyes.

"Come and see for yourself," she repeated, her smile lighting up the dim entrance to the monastery. Sarek strode purposely down the corridor to Spock's cell. He stopped abruptly at the doorway.

Spock stood in the center of the room. He had taken the time between Christine's exit and Sarek's arrival to bathe, shave, trim and groom his hair. The clean cream robe he wore gave him an ethereal look in the torchlight. Sarek slowly drew near.

"Cha'i?"

Spock took a shaky breath and gradually closed the distance between them. "I remember," he began quietly, "when I was small, you would hold me whenever I was sick until I got better." Sarek's eyes grew bright. "There was one time when you held me for three straight days." Spock stopped at arm's distance to his father and waited.

Sarek unclasped his hands and stepped forward, drawing his son gently into his arms. Spock leaned forward and rested his head on his father's shoulder.

"I'm sorry, A'Nirih," he whispered. Sarek blinked.

"For what, Cha'i?" he replied.

"For the hurtful things I said earlier," Spock answered in a small voice. "I know that we are more than the sum of our arguments." Sarek shook his head.

"There is nothing to forgive. You were not yourself." Sarek pulled back so that he could look into Spock's eyes. "Are you recovered?" Spock looked deeply into his father's eyes.

"No. But I am better." Sarek gestured toward the door with his head.

"Thanks to your friends?" Spock shook his head.

"Thanks to my family and my friends. I shall resume my training now." Sarek pressed his forehead to Spock's own.

"Success, Cha'i, and much peace."

"Mene sakkhet ur-sevah, A'Nirih!"

FIN

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