Disclaimer: Star Trek and characters are Paramount's property.  I'm only playing with them and will return them unharmed.  Copyright 2004 by Lou Ellen Gooding.   Rated PG.

 

Spock's Death

Lou Ellen Gooding

 

 

The year 2481

 

Spock had his hands steepled in front of him as he tried to meditate.  He contemplated his last voyage on a star ship.  But this ship wasn't named the Enterprise; it was named the James T. Kirk.  He chuckled in amusement that his last voyage, and his voyage to find his friends, was on a starship named the James T. Kirk.  The name of the captain of this ship escaped him at the moment.  At the age of 250, Spock was facing his death and finding that his memory was failing him more and more often.  Achieving a meditative state had become a challenge of late.  Finally, he gave up and remembered his old friends and his days as the second in command of the original star ship Enterprise.  He could feel the engines and he listened to the sounds that were distinctive to any starship he had ever been on.  A smile crossed his face with ease; smiling was something he did with ease as he grew older. 

Spock needed to reach the Guardian of Forever as soon as possible.  Many months passed before he came up with a research project that gained him approval for a visit to the planet of the Guardian of Forever.  He needed to return to the past and it was the only way he saw of accomplishing the task at hand.

Spock wanted to die with his two closest friends, Jim Kirk and Leonard McCoy.  He had researched and determined the best time to return to the past was shortly after their encounter with his half-brother Sybok and the trip into the Great Barrier.  When they returned to Earth, the Enterprise required several weeks of repair.  Jim and Leonard stayed on Earth and he went on an ambassadorial mission for his father.  Spock had wanted to stay on Earth but his father rarely asked for his help so he had agreed.  Sarek's duties on Earth required his attendance, so he sent Spock to handle a mission offworld.  He had been pleased his father had obviously trusted his abilities in this matter.  It would be the perfect time to return to Earth.  There would be no chance of his running into himself and Jim and Leonard would be free for several weeks.

Spock leaned back in his chair.  'Am I being selfish? I am leaving my family so I can die with my friends in the past.  Am I being cruel to Jim and Leonard? Should I make them live through my death again?' He sighed which was a very human habit he had picked up.  'I can always give them the choice.' Spock and his wife Saavik had discussed his decision many times.  Saavik had served on the Enterprise and had worked with Jim's son David.  She understood his friendship and his need to see them and to end his life with them.  Their only argument occurred when he refused to allow anyone to accompany him.  But, he finally convinced Saavik that he must take this journey alone.  He had said his goodbyes to his children and grandchildren.  'Now, I have one task left.  Convince the Guardian to let me travel to the past.'

Spock was pulled out of his thoughts when the door chimed.  "Come," he answered and the door opened to Captain Nichols.  'Nichols, that was his name.' "How may I help you, Captain Nichols?"

"Ambassador Spock, would you be interested in taking a tour of the ship? It is the first of the new design.  And, I believe my crew would be honored to meet you." The Captain looked at Spock expectantly.

Spock was incredibly tired but hated to disappoint this crew of young people.  They wanted to see a living legend.  Spock laughed to himself.  Jim had hated that term.  "I would be honored to meet your crew, Captain." As they toured, Spock made an effort to tell stories of his adventures on the USS Enterprise and of its Captain, James T. Kirk.  The crew hung onto his every word.  He required a long rest to recover from the tour but he did not regret seeing this new ship and its crew.  Spock rested as much as he could on the trip.  He would need all his strength for the task to come.

When they arrived at the Guardian of Forever, Spock was the only one allowed to transport to the surface.  The Guardian and the planet it resided on were closely guarded.  There were force fields around the planet and unless you knew the codes you would never make it to the planet.  No actual security personnel resided on the planet.  Very few people even knew of its existence.  Spock tried to say his good-byes without letting Captain Nichols realize he did not plan to return to this ship alive.  The James T. Kirk would continue on its patrol and come back in a few weeks to pick him up.

When the shimmering ceased, Spock stood in front of several barracks that housed the scientists who studied the Guardian.  Charles Murray stepped forward.  "Ambassador Spock, we are honored to have you here.  To have one of the persons who discovered the Guardian of Forever actually here is more than an honor.  We are excited to discuss your proposal for researching the Guardian." Mr. Murray continued to gush as he led Spock into the barracks.  Spock found he simply had to respond with a yes or no occasionally to keep Mr. Murray happy.  Spock joined them for dinner and retired early stating tiredness from the trip.

Spock lay on the bed and went over his plan to gain access to the Guardian.  He would not get a second chance.  The plan was basically very simple.  He would wait until night and disable anybody who was awake and approach the Guardian with his request.  Mr. Murray had given him a tour and had pointed out the alarms and security measures.  It would be relatively easy to disable the alarms.  His internal clock told him it was time to make his move.  Grabbing his bag, he crept to the other room and disabled the alarms.  He headed out the front door and started toward the Guardian.  Only one scientist was on duty at the Guardian.  The ruins were perfect for hiding his presence, and he easily worked his way behind the scientist.  Moving up behind the man, he easily used the nerve pinch and eased the man to the ground.

The past was within his reach.  Now his plan depended on the Guardian agreeing to his request.  "Guardian, can you help me return to the past?"

"A question.  I can help you in your journey.  You have returned to the past through my portal before.  You are from two worlds.  Which world do you wish to return to?"

"I wish to return to the world of my mother's people in the area known as San Francisco.  But, I have one question?"

"A question, proceed."

"I will die soon.  If I go into the past, can you retrieve me upon my death?"  Spock waited hoping the Guardian would give him the answer he sought.

The Guardian finally responded, "Yes, what you request is possible."

"Is there a certain location I will need to be in to be retrieved?"

"I can find you.  No matter where you are in the past, I can retrieve you."

The Guardian began to replay the Earth's past.  Spock used his tricorder to determine the right time to step through.  Fortunately, over the past two centuries the technology had improved.  He was confident he could step through within a day or possibly within hours of the time he wanted to arrive in San Francisco.  Grabbing his bag, he counted down.  "Five, four, three, two and one." And, Spock jumped through the gate.

* * *

 

The year 2289

 

When Spock arrived on the other side, he was pleased he had arrived at night and in a park.  No one seemed to be around.  He had purposely worn clothing that would not be noticed in this era.  After pulling a Vulcan robe out of his bag and putting it on; he headed to the park entrance.  From past visits, he was very familiar with San Francisco.  Once he reached the entrance, he got his bearings and started walking toward Jim Kirk's apartment.  Spotting a public news booth, he stopped and checked the date.  He had arrived on the date he had sought.  The Spock of this era had been gone for over a week and Jim should be at home.

He was becoming weary from the long trek to Jim's apartment.  Accessing his credits and hiring transportation was out of question, as he did not want to leave a trail of his presence on Earth when he was suppose to be off world. 'Finally.' Spock stood in front of the building and paused to catch his breath. 'Have I made a mistake? Will Jim and Leonard resent my intrusion in their lives? Too late to second guess myself.' Spock headed up the elevator.  His steps slowed as he approached the door.

* * *

 

"Well, Bones, how was your day? Did the repair crews mess up your sickbay?" Jim knew that would push Bones' buttons.

"Those idiot engineers, just because we are in spacedock, they think they can come in and redesign everything.  You just get everything working the way it should and they come in and change it.  They should try and work with this equipment when it changes every other week." Bones was interrupted in his tirade by the door chime.

"I wonder who that is? Hold that thought," Jim said as he headed for the door. He opened the door and saw a figure that looked like Spock but with the hood up he couldn't tell.  "Spock?" 'It couldn't be Spock as he is offworld.'  "Sarek?"

Spock pulled the hood down.  "Jim!"

"Spock! When did you get back? … What happened to you?  Bones!" It was obvious something was wrong with Spock as he looked older than his father.  His face was lined with age, his hair was solid white and his shoulders were slightly bent.

"My God, Spock, what happened to you?" Bones came forward with a look of great concern.  He often tormented Spock, and to others it might appear he disliked Spock.  But he cared very much about his comrade and friend.

Spock swayed and Jim and Leonard rushed toward him.  "Let me sit down and I will explain."  Jim and Bones each grabbed an arm and helped him toward a chair.

Jim suddenly let go of Spock like he had been burned.  Bones looked at him in surprise.  "What's wrong, Jim? You look like you've seen a ghost.  Get over here and help me."

"It's not our Spock.  Who are you?"  Jim backed up a couple more steps.

"Jim, what are you talking about? Spock? What is going on?" Bones was totally confused as he helped Spock to a chair.

"I can explain, Jim, if you give me a chance." Spock suspected he knew why Jim had reacted to touching him.

"This isn't Spock.  When Spock is near, I feel our t'hy'la link.  If I touch him, the link is much stronger.  I felt nothing when I touched you.  Who are you?"  Jim was becoming angry that someone might be impersonating his friend.  Bones was astounded and looked at Spock suspiciously.

"Let me explain, Jim.  I am Spock but I have come to you from the year 2481.  You do not feel the link because it was broken at your ... death?  I am 250 years old and the last of the original Enterprise crew still alive."  He did not want to talk about their deaths as he could not give them any clues about their future.  He noticed Bones pulling out a medical scanner and stepping behind him. "Leonard, it is not necessary to scan me.  I can tell you what it will say.  But, the bottom line is I will die soon."

"Jim, from what I can read with the scanner this is Spock.  And, I would agree he is about 250 years old and ... dying."

"Spock?  Is this true?  Why have you come here?" Jim's voice expressed his concern as he sat in a chair across from Spock.

"I have come to die with my friends.  I have lived a full life and I am ready to die but I wish to die here with you and Leonard."  Bones looked surprised by that speech.  "Are you surprised to hear me speak of friendship, Leonard?  I have learned a few things in my 250 years." Spock smiled, causing Bones and Jim to look at each other in disbelief.

Spock leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes.  The meeting with his friends was more tiring than he had anticipated.  Exhaustion overwhelmed him and he was barely able to continue.  He heard Leonard's medical scanner again.

"Jim, this conversation is going to have to wait.  Spock needs to rest." Bones looked up from his scanner with worry etched on his face.

"Bones, let's help him to the guest room." This time Jim was prepared and did not pull away from touching Spock.  They helped Spock on the bed and he appeared to be asleep the minute his head hit the pillow.  Bones checked him with the medical scanner one more time and pulled a blanket over Spock's still form.  Jim walked over to the room's environmental controls and turned the temperature up.  They left him to rest and returned to the main room.

"Jim, do you still have some of that Romulan ale left? I think I could use a drink." Bones sat down trying to sort out what was going on.

"I think so, Bones." Jim rummaged through his liquor cabinet and finally pulled out a bottle of blue liquid.  "Here it is.  I think I could use a belt, too." He pulled out two glasses and poured the liquid in the glasses.  "Do you believe this story?," Jim said as he handed Bones a glass.  Sitting down across from Bones, he asked, "Is it really Spock?"

"I don't know about the story but the scanner indicates some human factors.  How many half human Vulcans do you know?"

Jim swirled the liquid in his glass and stared at it as he thought over Bones' comments.  "If his story is true, then, he is dying." Jim had lived through Spock's death and rebirth once before.  Could he do this for his friend? How would it be to outlive all your friends to be the last one? Did Spock have a family? He had so many questions for Spock.

Bones could see the wheels turning in Jim's head.  "C'mon, Jim, tell me what you are thinking." Bones was worried about his friend.  He, Spock and a few of the other original Enterprise crew members were the only family Jim had except for his nephew, Peter Kirk.  But, he did not get to see Peter very often.  In fact, those with family often felt closer to their shipmates.

"I can't let Spock down.  If he is here wanting to die close to friends then we need to help him." Jim and Bones continued to talk until late in the night.  Jim offered Bones his bed and said he would take the couch but in the end they both fell to sleep where they were.

In Jim's dream, he was back on the Enterprise.  Khan had just activated the Genesis wave.  The warp drive was not working and suddenly it was fixed.  Everything would be okay.  Bones called him to Engineering.  He turned and noticed that Spock was missing.  'Oh God, not Spock, it couldn't be Spock.' His heart was in his throat as he ran to Engineering.  When he arrived and saw Spock, he stopped thinking and only reacted.  His first impulse was to rush into the room and pull Spock out.  Bones and Scotty stopped him and he realized there was nothing he could do.  Spock was dying! Spock was dead! Spock had been my friend and always would be my friend.

Jim and Bones were wakened by the com unit beeping insistently.  Jim stirred and tried to figure out where the noise was coming from.  The dream unnerved him more than he cared to admit.  He hadn't had a dream about Spock's death in many years.

"Are you going to answer that? I'm trying to sleep over here." With Bones' comments, Jim was able to shake off the dream and clear the fog out of his head.

"Give me a second.  I'm getting it." Jim pushed himself out of his chair and headed to his com unit.  He saw he had an incoming call from Spock.  "Bones, it's Spock!"

Bones quickly got up and came over to the desk.  He stayed out of visual range of the Com unit.  "You had better take the call, Jim.  Be careful what you say."

Jim nodded and switched on the unit and accepted the call.  "Spock, what's up? Is there something wrong?" Jim decided the best defense was a good offense.

"Jim, I called to check to see if there was anything wrong with you.  I sensed something was amiss.  Are you ill? Has something happened?" For Spock, he looked concerned.  Only a Vulcan or Jim would notice the lapse of control Spock was exhibiting.

Jim hated to lie to his friend, but couldn't tell him the truth.  "I'm fine."

Spock gave him the look he usually gave his friend when he knew he was lying. Bones realized Spock wasn't believing Jim and decided to jump in.  "Hey, Spock, isn't this a very expensive call?"

Spock raised his eyebrow upon seeing Dr. McCoy.  "Dr. McCoy, isn't it rather late by Earth standard time?"

"Yes, Mother, but I'll go to bed soon.  Nothing's wrong Spock.  Jim and I just had a late evening of reminiscing."

Jim picked up on this train of thought.  "Bones is right and I guess we both fell asleep."

"Are you sure nothing is wrong? I picked up an impression of deep upset coming from you, Jim." Spock was not going to be put off so easily.

"Well, I had a dream I hadn't had in a long time.  ... I was dreaming about your death.  That must have been what you picked up on.  I think Bones and I did a little too much reminiscing tonight with Romulan ale on top of it." Jim looked at Bones and tried not to look guilty.  Jim hated to tell Spock about his dream but it wasn't likely he would believe anything else.

Spock's face again betrayed his feelings.  When Spock had found out about Jim's nightmares, he had encouraged Jim to let himself or a Vulcan Healer stop the nightmares all together.  But, Jim had refused and the dreams had eventually stopped.  "My apologies for being the cause of your discomfort."

"Spock, it is just a dream.  Don't worry about it.  It fades as soon as you wake up.  I know you offered to stop the dreams but this is the first time I've had this nightmare in a long time." Time to change the subject.  "How's your mission going?"

"As anticipated, it will take many weeks of negotiations to get both sides to agree to a treaty.  Dr. McCoy, if I am needed on Earth, you will let me know."

Bones understood that Spock still did not fully believe their story and he was not making a request but issuing an order.  "Don't worry, Spock, everything is okay.  You better hang up or you'll have to hawk that Vulcan harp of yours to pay for this call."

"Very well, good night, Jim, Dr. McCoy.  I will talk to you, soon.  Call if you need anything." Bones and Jim watched Spock's face fade.

"I'm already changing the past.  I should not have come here.  I am a foolish old man.  I'll leave here and I will not interact with anyone I know until my death." Bones and Jim turned to see Spock leaning on the door frame.  He obviously had been listening to the conversation.

"Spock, you need to be in bed." Bones rushed to Spock's side and found it very easy to move him back to the bed.  He was shocked at how frail Spock seemed.

Jim pulled a chair up to the bed.  "What do you mean you will go off until your death? Can't the Guardian take you back to your time?"

Bones was using his medical scanner again.  "Jim, Spock needs to rest.  This can wait until tomorrow."

Spock waved Bones off.  "Leonard, I need to explain, now.  I made arrangements with the Guardian to be pulled back when I die.  If I go off on my own, I will not change history.  And, when I die, the Guardian will pull me back to my time." Spock closed his eyes in exhaustion.

"Spock, there is no way we are going to let you die by yourself.  This is not the time for recriminations.  So, your younger self thinks there is something wrong. We won't be telling you, him anything.  Well, you know what I mean.  Worrying that I'm up to something was your full time job when you were younger.  This doesn't mean you have changed history." Spock nodded but didn't open his eyes.  Jim was not about to let Spock go off on his own and would help him anyway he could.  He would just have to deal with watching Spock die again.

"Let's go, Jim.  He's asleep again.  Besides, it's too bloody hot in here and I'm starting to sweat buckets." Bones and Jim left the room and decided to call it a night.  Finally, the apartment was quiet except for the snores of Bones.

* * *

 

Spock sat at his desk on Alpha IV.  He should be reviewing the latest reports from the negotiations but he couldn't concentrate.  Something was going on with Jim.  He sensed extreme emotions from him, almost as if some major trauma had occurred.  'But, Dr. McCoy had been there and he didn't act as if there was a problem.  Jim did appear to be physically okay, but still looked uncomfortable about something.  Was he telling the truth? Was it just the nightmare he had?' Spock needed to know what was happening back on Earth.  Making a decision, he touched a button on the communication unit.  "T'Val, please come in." Waiting impatiently for T'Val to arrive, he tried to calm any outward signs of impatience.

T'Val entered the office and waited for orders.  "T'Val, I want you to contact Ambassador Sarek when it is 0600 Earth standard time.  I need to speak to him as soon as possible."

"Captain Spock, we are scheduled to communicate with the Vulcan embassy after our last meeting today." T'Val was confused by his orders.

"This is a family matter.  Place the call as instructed and notify me when it is ready." Spock waited for T'Val's response.

"Of course, Captain Spock." T'Val answered and left the room.

Spock knew he had a couple of hours before the call would be made.  He forced himself to concentrate on his work, but the sense that Jim was troubled about something continued to nag at him.  Time dragged as Spock waited.  Finally, T'Val informed him the call had come through and Ambassador Sarek was on the link.

"Greetings, Father." Spock was worried his Father would refuse his request, but successfully hid his concern.

"Spock, is there a problem with the negotiations that I'm not aware of? We were scheduled to communicate later today." Sarek looked at Spock and tried to determine why he had called.

"Father, I am calling to ask a favor of a personal nature.  You are aware of the t'hy'la link I share with Jim Kirk." Sarek nodded.  "I sensed distress through the link.  I have contacted Jim and he denies any problems.  Nevertheless, I am convinced something is wrong with him."

"Such a link never lies.  I would agree with your assessment.  What do you require of me, Spock?" Sarek was aware of how rare a t'hy'la link was, and especially between a Vulcan and a human.  Vulcans honored such links, and Sarek held a deep respect for Kirk.  Since Jim Kirk had put his career on the line to save Spock, Sarek would do as much for Kirk as he would his own son.

"If you could fit it into your schedule, I would ask that you pay a visit to Jim and check to see if he is in trouble and let me know." Spock was pleasantly surprised that his father took his concerns seriously without a lecture on human emotions.

"I will visit James Kirk at my earliest opportunity and let you know if all is well.  Is there anything else I can do for you at this time, my son?"

"Give my greetings to Mother.  And, Father, it is most kind of you to help me in this matter." Spock was relieved that Sarek would be checking on Jim for him.

"You are my son.  It is my duty to assist you in this situation.  I will pass on your greetings to your Mother.  We will talk later.  Goodbye, Spock."

"Goodbye, Father." Spock leaned back in his chair after the link was severed and relaxed knowing his Father would follow through in this matter.

"Sarek, is something wrong?" Amanda entered Sarek's office in her dressing gown.

"Spock needs my assistance in a matter involving James Kirk." Sarek looked as concerned as any Vulcan could look.

Amanda had lived with Vulcans long enough to see his distress.  "Is something wrong with Jim?" Over the years Amanda and Sarek had come to know Spock's friends extremely well.  They both had developed a fondness for them.  Amanda had been pleased that Spock had such friends to depend on.

"Spock is sensing a problem with James Kirk through his t'hy'la link.  Spock contacted him last night but he denies any problem.  But the link never lies.  I will make a visit this morning to determine if Spock's assessment of the situation is correct." Sarek moved around the desk and touched fingers with Amanda.

"I am glad you and Spock are able to communicate more easily.  This pleases me more than you know, my husband." Amanda leaned in and Sarek hugged her.

"My wife, it is my duty to our son." Sarek held Amanda and enjoyed their closeness.

"Of course, my husband." Amanda tried to control her emotions around other Vulcans but she gave Sarek a stunning smile.

Sarek returned a hint of a smile and leaned down and gave Amanda a passionate kiss followed by a whispered, "I love you." This was not a normal activity for a Vulcan male but Amanda preferred the outward show of affection and Sarek had come to enjoy the closeness as well.  They never displayed such intimacy when others were present.  Sarek found that hugging and kissing Amanda only increased the feelings of love and passion he felt from her and for her.  All Vulcans have those feelings but they simply chose to suppress those emotions.  Sarek had chosen to allow these emotions with Amanda.  Amanda wished that Sarek could display a fraction of these emotions with Spock.  She often thought about telling Spock but knew she could not interfere in Sarek and Spock's relationship.  That was not the Vulcan way.

* * *

 

Bones and Jim sat at the table eating a late breakfast.  Spock still had not emerged from the guest room.  Jim had checked on him earlier to make sure he had not left in the night.  "Bones, how much time do you think Spock has left?"

"It's hard to tell without a full diagnostic but I'm sure Spock knows and can tell us." Bones look at Jim over his cup of coffee and gave him a penetrating look.  "Can you handle this, Jim?"

Jim shrugged.  "We'll find out.  Won't we?"

"Did you really have a nightmare about Spock's death last night? Or, was that just a story for Spock?" Bones was concerned as he remembered the violent nightmares Jim had in the past about Spock and David's deaths.

Jim knew that Bones was getting into his psychiatrist mode.  Jim had been troubled with nightmares about Spock's death for weeks after the event.  At times, the dreams of Spock's death were mixed in with David's death.  During their weeks on Vulcan, waiting for Spock to recover, Jim had reached a crisis with the nightmares.  He couldn't sleep, eat or function.  Bones did not have access to his sickbay to treat him and had resorted to asking the Vulcan Healers to help.  They had determined the dreams were caused by a problem with the t'hy'la link.  Upon Spock's death, the link had not been properly severed.  And, with Spock's katra being returned to his body the link had caused Jim to receive mental images from Spock, with his death being the most vivid image he received. Jim had no mental shields to stop the memories and was in danger of a mental breakdown.  Once the link was fixed, they were able to help Jim deal with the nightmares and after that, they only occurred occasionally.

"I had a nightmare that is all.  And, remember the Healers said I had so many problems because the t'hy'la link had been affected by Spock's death and rebirth.  The Healers took care of the problem and fixed the link.  Don't worry, Bones, I'm fine." Jim gave Bones his trademark smile which he used to convince people to follow him to the end of the universe, if necessary.

Bones was not convinced but dropped the subject.  "I think I'll go check on Spock and see if he's awake." Bones got up and headed to the other room.

Jim sat and drank his coffee and thought about everything Spock had told them last night.  The door chimed and he got up slowly and headed across the room. Much to his surprise, Sarek stood in front of him.  "Sarek! ... Good morning." Jim was frozen into speechlessness trying to figure out how to get rid of Sarek.

"May I come in, James?"

There was nothing Jim could do but let Sarek in.  "Of course, come in, Sarek." Jim continued to worry about how he was going to warn Bones and Spock about Sarek's visit.

"My apologies for arriving unannounced.  Spock asked me to check on you.  He is concerned you are in trouble.  You appear to be in good health.  Are you in some other type of difficulty?" If nothing else, Vulcans are direct.

Before, he could answer, Bones walked out of the guest room looking at his medical scanner as he talked.  "Jim, Spock's awake and he seems to be somewhat recovered from the ordeal of getting here." Bones stopped in his tracks as he saw Sarek standing in front of him.  "Oh, shit."

"What do you mean, Spock is here? Spock is on Alpha IV.  I just talked to him this morning.  Captain Kirk!" He looked at Jim who tried to avoid his eyes.  He turned and said, "Dr. McCoy!" McCoy avoided his eyes as well.  "Gentlemen, I require an answer." Jim and Bones looked at each other in consternation.  The look on Sarek's face was something they hoped they would never see again.  You don't want to deal with an angry Vulcan, especially an angry Vulcan father.

Before Bones or Jim could answer, Spock came out of the guest room.  "They are talking about me, Father."

Sarek turned at the sound of Spock's voice.  When he took in the reality of Spock's obvious age, he grabbed a hold of a chair for support.  Jim went to Spock and helped him to couch.  Bones went to Sarek, he didn't want to touch him, but was worried Sarek might collapse.  "Sarek, are you okay? Can I do anything to help you?"

Sarek sat down heavily in the chair and waved Bones off.  "Spock, explain ...?"

Jim and Bones sat on each side of Spock to provide emotional support as he briefly went over his journey from the future and the events of the last couple of days.  "I never intended to contact you or to cause you discomfort.  My apologies, Father." Spock waited for his father's admonishment on his poor judgment.  He remembered a human telling him that no matter how old you become, your parents can still make you feel five years old.  Spock decided it was not just a human trait.

"Spock, for once I am not sure what to say.  You could have died on Vulcan and your katra would be preserved.  But, you choose to die here on Earth, far from your home and your katra will be loss forever." Sarek did not understand Spock's decision.

"Father, I have never been accepted completely on Vulcan.  I have had to find my own path in life.  Jim and Leonard have accepted my differences from the minute I met them.  Leonard encouraged me to explore my human side, albeit in very strange ways at times." Spock gave Bones a half smile.  This time Bones raised an eyebrow.  "I have long since resolved my conflicts and I value the human characteristics that all of Vulcan would like me to deny.  For all of the discussion of IDIC, I have never felt Vulcan accepted and valued my differences. Even in my day, I am honored for my accomplishments but I find these to be empty honors.  I would rather be honored for who I am, not what I have done." Spock paused for a moment and closed his eyes.  Jim looked at Bones, who ran a scanner over Spock, but he motioned Bones off and continued with his story.

"I thought about this for a long time, and it may not be logical, but I spent a good portion of my life trying to live up to Vulcan standards.  I choose to die among the people who valued my differences.  I do not want my katra to return to Vulcan.  I choose the way of my Mother's people and my soul will go wherever souls go.  I can't ask you to agree with my decision but I hope you can try to understand." Spock, Jim and Bones looked at Sarek waiting for a response.

'If Sarek rejects Spock again, I swear I will lecture him with a few words that he has never heard before.' Jim waited and worried about Sarek's reaction.

Sarek bowed his head for a moment.  "I am one of those who did not accept your differences."

"Father, I do not intend my statement as a rejection of you.  As any Father, you did your best and raised me in the Vulcan way as your father had and his father before him.  As I said, I hope you can understand." Spock truly had forgiven his father.  As he raised his own children, he began to understand the challenges of being a father and allowing children to make decisions he did not agree with.

"Spock, I will try to understand.  I hope you will allow me to be present at the end." Sarek looked at Spock expectantly.

Spock searched Sarek's face for any signs of rejection, finding none he nodded his head.  "I regret you will have to hide the knowledge of my presence from Mother.  I would like to see her one more time but sadly that will not be possible."

"I agree.  Amanda must never know.  If she knew you were here, there would be nothing I could do to keep her away." Spock raised both eyes at Sarek's admission that there was something he couldn't deny Amanda.

Looking at Jim, Sarek asked, "What do I tell Spock? He will be expecting a report from me."

"Well, I told him I was having dreams about his death, again.  I think we need to stick to that story." Jim looked at Bones who nodded in agreement.

Sarek recalled the problems Jim had on Vulcan during Spock's recuperation.  "That sounds like a plausible explanation.  I will relate the same story." Sarek paused for a moment before offering his next suggestion.  "I can offer assistance to prevent Spock from sensing any emotions from you.  But, if you choose not to accept I will understand." Sarek waited for Jim's response.

"I'm willing to consider anything you have to offer."

"I could use a mind-meld that would temporarily block any strong emotions from being projected to Spock.  He will not sense any difference in your link."

Jim didn't want to refuse Sarek.  But, his last meld with Sarek, when he had relived Spock's death, had been traumatic.  Still, if it would protect Spock from his emotions he would agree.  He gave Spock a questioning look and Spock nodded. "I do not think I have the strength to set up such a mental shield, and if you are willing, I would advise you to let my Father mind-meld with you."

"Go ahead, Sarek," Jim said.  Sarek faced him and placed his fingers on the mind meld points.  Sarek entered Jim's mind as gently as possible.  Jim could feel the difference and appreciated the care Sarek was using in setting up the mental block to prevent strong emotions.

When Sarek pulled away, Jim swayed a little but regained his balance.  "I will take my leave of you and communicate with your younger self," Sarek said as he turned to Spock.  "James and Leonard, I thank you for taking care of my son. Contact my aide, T'Lar, if you need anything or need to communicate with me. Please keep me informed." Sarek again turned toward Spock.  "Spock, I will visit with you again, soon."

"I will look forward to the visit, Father." Spock seemed to brighten up in anticipation of that future conversation.

"We will keep you posted, Sarek." He bowed slightly at Jim's comments and left.

"Well, Spock, I think you need to rest for a while." Spock nodded and Bones and Jim helped him to the bedroom.

Spock returned to his office and had T'Lar make the call to Spock.  As he waited for the call to go through, Sarek went over the story he planned to tell Spock. The future Spock must be protected and they must prevent any changes that could affect the future.

T'Lar entered, "Spock is waiting to speak to you, Ambassador."

Sarek nodded to dismiss his aide.  "Spock, I have made the visit to see James as I promised.  He seems to be in excellent health and denies any other problems. Also, I have made discreet inquiries and there are no concerns that I am aware of." Sarek used his best Ambassadorial face to hide his lies.

"Did Jim give you any reason for the problems I sensed?" Spock was relieved that Jim was okay, but he was still concerned over the strong emotions he had sensed from Jim, which had faded during the morning.

"He stated that he had dreamed about your death, again.  Considering his past problems, I would assume you were sensing his strong emotions from that dream." Sarek regretted lying to Spock but he did not see any other alternative.

"Do you think a Vulcan Healer needs to see him?" Spock wasn't ready to let this go yet.

"I am confident Dr. McCoy would recommend a Healer if he felt it was required." Sarek was doing his best to convince Spock that James was not in trouble.  "Do you sense any strong emotions at this time?"

"No, the emotions ceased three point four hours ago.  I will check with Jim again in a few days.  My gratitude to you for checking into this matter, Father." Spock was grateful that his Father had helped him.  'Maybe we are finally developing a relationship where we can communicate more easily.'

"Contact me if you need any other assistance in this matter." Sarek was relieved Spock believed his story.

"Thank you, Father." Spock signed off and forced himself to return to his duties instead of worrying about Jim.

Sarek meditated briefly as he tried to resolve all of his conflicting thoughts and the emotions that threatened to surface.  He could not afford for Amanda to pick up any stray impressions.  When his troubled thoughts were sufficiently under control, he returned to work.

* * *

 

The rest of the day was uneventful at Jim's apartment.  Bones had made excuses to stay away from the Enterprise so he could take care of the older Spock.  After Sarek's visit, Spock rested most of the day.  Jim was anxious to talk to Spock but allowed him to sleep.

The next day, Bones was in the bedroom checking on Spock when the buzzer announced another visitor.  This time, Jim checked his monitor and saw it was Dr. Christine Chapel.  Jim headed to the bedroom.  "Spock, Christine is here so stay quiet.  I'll get rid of her.  Bones, if I need help come on out." Jim looked around the apartment and saw Spock's cloak.  He grabbed it and threw it in a closet.  He went to the door and opened it.  "Christine, I'm surprised to see you. Is there something wrong?" Jim was trying his best to calm any signs of nervousness.

"Hi, Captain, I'm trying to track down Dr. McCoy.  Is he here?"

Bones was at the door of the bedroom listening.  Suddenly, he felt Spock at his back.  "Spock, you can't go out there," Bones whispered.  He looked at Spock and saw a flicker of emotion.  He wondered what that meant.

Spock, held his breath.  'Christine, my wife, I never anticipated seeing you, again.  I loved you for years and denied that love until the day we were stranded on the away mission.  And, later when the Pon Farr occurred, you were there.  I chose you freely and we bonded and married.  Our daughter, Amanda, was born and she was so beautiful.  She had my dark hair and the slanted eyebrows and pointed eyes but they were more delicately pointed than the average Vulcans.  We raised her in both Earth and Vulcan traditions.  She learned to control her emotions when necessary but also could express them freely.  She smiled so easily. Christine, I learned so much about love from you.  I thought I would never survive your death.' Spock leaned against the wall and tears ran down his face.

Bones saw how deeply affected Spock was by Christine's arrival.  He felt a wave of sympathy for Spock.  "Stay here.  I'll get rid of Christine.  Don't come out, please!" Spock nodded and Bones left the room.

Bones emerged from the bedroom as Jim was telling Christine he would get Bones for her.  "Christine, what are you doing here? How did you track me down?"

"Leonard, when you are on Earth, if you aren't at your home you're usually with the captain.  And the engineers have questions for you about the renovations of the sickbay." Christine pulled out a data pad for Bones to examine.

"Damn engineers, can't they even screw up the sickbay without bugging me?" As Christine pulled up the specs for Bones to review, he looked over her shoulder at Jim.  He pointed to the bedroom and tried to indicate for Jim to go check on Spock.  He stopped when Christine looked up and tried to act as if nothing was going on.  She gave him a questioning look but didn't say anything.

"I'll let you two talk.  Good to see you, Christine." Jim left the room and hurried to the bedroom.  He found Spock sitting on the floor with tears in his eyes.  Jim closed the door.  "Spock, let me help you up." He reached down and Spock looked up.  He had such a look of grief on his face that Jim felt a wave of understanding.  Spock grabbed Jim's arm and he was surprised at how easily he was able to pull Spock up.  He began to realize how frail Spock had become.  "Come on, Spock, let me help you to the chair." Spock allowed Jim to ease him into a comfortable chair.  Jim pulled up his own chair and examined that familiar face. "You probably can't tell me much but did you have a ... history with Christine? I mean more than I already know about."

Spock wished he could talk about Christine's death with his closest friend but knew he couldn't do it.  "I can't talk about it, Jim." He was quiet for a moment and then spoke again.  "It's a good thing Vulcans live so long, as it took me a long time to figure out the important things in life are friends and family. Everything else is nothing without those relationships." Spock grabbed Jim's hand.  Jim felt some of Spock's emotions even though he couldn't feel the t'hy'la link.

Almost from the first time he met Spock, he felt like they had a relationship closer to brothers than captain and first officer.  When his brother died, he and Spock grew closer than he and Sam had ever been.  "Spock, just tell me what you can, don't worry, I'll accept whatever you can tell me.  But, I think we need to get out of here before, Chekov, Sulu, Uhura, and Scotty show up."

Spock gave Jim a small smile and let go of his hand.  "I think you are right, Jim.  Where do you suggest we go?" Spock had regained control of his emotions and leaned back in the chair.

"How about Iowa? I haven't been to the farm in a long time.  I have been meaning to go there and get some financial matters settled for a long time.  But it's just one of those things that is easier to put off." Jim hoped that Spock would have some peace and quiet at his farm without the chance of running into old acquaintances.

"Excellent idea, Jim.  What is the temperature in Iowa at this time of the year?" Spock had become more cold sensitive as he grew older.

Jim laughed, "Don't worry, July in Iowa will be hot."

Bones entered at that moment.  "Who's going to Iowa?" Jim looked at Bones with a questioning look.  "Don't worry, Christine is gone.  Who's going to Iowa?"

We are, the three of us.  I say we get out of here before someone else shows up. We can call Sarek and let him know where we are and it would be a short ride for him to see you, my friend." Jim said this as he looked at Spock.

"I'll put Christine in charge of the sickbay renovations and we can take off tomorrow." Bones regretted mentioning Christine when he saw a look of sadness briefly cloud Spock's face.  The three of them began to plan their trip to Jim's farm.  They agreed to leave early the next morning.

"Jim, while you pack, I'm going to go back to the Enterprise and gather a few things I need.  I'll be back by evening." Bones was determined to get a few medical supplies.  He didn't intend to try and prolong Spock's life but he planned to make sure he had everything he needed to ensure Spock's death was as comfortable as possible.

Bones returned in the early evening with several large cases.  Jim ribbed him about traveling light but Bones ignored him.  After an early supper they retired for the evening.

* * *

 

The next morning, Jim grumbled about having to load all of Bones' cases.  Soon, they were ready to leave and Jim took the controls.  They had an uneventful flight to his farm and arrived midmorning.  It was a beautiful, hot, summer day in Iowa.  Jim landed the craft and started unloading the luggage and Bones' cases.  Spock wandered around the lawn to the side of the house.  The last time he had visited was shortly before Winona Kirk's death.  He wasn't sure if Jim had visited since that time.  The lawn furniture under a huge oak tree looked inviting and he pulled a chair out into the sun so he could bask in the warmth. The Amish farmers worked in the distance as he relaxed.  When he had first visited the farm, he had been fascinated by the farmers and had read as much as he could about their way of life.

Jim and Bones came out the side door of the house and joined Spock but chose chairs in the shade.  They were dressed in jeans and short sleeve shirts.  Bones set down a tray of ice tea, sandwiches, salad and a cup of hot tea for Spock. "Well, Spock what will it be -- ice tea or hot tea?"

"I think I will take hot tea as the air is still a bit on the cool side." Spock accepted the tea and warmed his fingers around the cup.

"The air is cool! You've got to be kidding.  It is at least 95 degrees.  I checked the weather and they are predicting it will top 100 degrees today.  You need a little more red blood in your system and then you wouldn't be so cold."

Spock merely smiled at Leonard's usual comments about the color of his blood. While he had always enjoyed these verbal sparring sessions, he let this comment slide.  Jim chuckled as he ate his sandwich and sipped his ice tea.

Spock continued to watch the farmers with curiosity.  "Jim, are your Amish neighbors still farming your land? I believe you told me their name is Yoder."

"Yes, they are and I need to go thank Jacob and Sarah for getting the house ready for us."

"I thought it looked like someone had been here recently." Bones was enjoying this time of relaxing with friends.

"Sarah cleans the house once a month and anytime I come for a visit.  They are wonderful people.  Do you two want to walk over to their farm with me? It's not far."

"Jim, I'm going to sweat right here.  I don't need a long walk to do that." Bones had no intentions of sweating any more than he already was.

"I would be delighted to join you," Spock said.  They got out of their chairs and started across the lawn.

"Wait, Spock.  I have something for you." Bones ran into the house and came out with a cane.  "Spock, I want you to take this in case you need it.  You have some rough ground to walk across and you've been unsteady since your arrival."

Spock examined the cane closely.  He noticed the handle was carved out of ivory with the initial's J.M. on it.  "Leonard, I appreciate the gesture, but I am sure I will be fine.  Besides, this looks like an antique."

"Humor me, Spock.  It was my great-great-grandfather's cane, and I would be honored if you would use it."

Spock nodded his agreement and walked beside Jim.  He did find the cane useful in providing support.  "Jim, you never told me how you met the Yoders."

"They have lived here as long as I can remember.  When I was a child, Jacob and I became close friends.  We roamed the fields and woods when he wasn't working. Jacob was not allowed to stay at my home, so I spent a lot of time at theirs. When I was there, I was expected to work as one of the family.  They have a hard life-but they find it fulfilling." Jim and Spock were crossing the hay field which had been recently cut.  They could see the Yoder family putting hay in the barn.  "Mostly, they do not accept outsiders into their families, but I was around all the time and gradually they accepted me.  During my childhood, my father was away much of the time, and Isaac Yoder was like a second father to me.  When I got back from Tarsus, I was a mess.  I withdrew from everyone, and Isaac helped me to connect with people again.  Then, when my father died, I took it hard and became very difficult.  Isaac helped me to understand what it meant to take responsibility and helped me to grow up.  Isaac died several weeks ago and this is my first chance to offer my condolences."

"It seems we both had difficult childhoods." Spock had never heard Jim talk about this part of his childhood.

"Spock, I should be letting you do the talking instead of rambling on about my childhood." Jim looked at Spock, apologetic.

"No, Jim, this is just what I wanted: a chance for us to spend time together, to talk about old times or just take a walk.  Now tell me more about the Yoders.  Do they farm all of your land?"

Jim adjusted his stride to accommodate Spock's slower pace.  "Yes, they do.  My mother hated the corporate farms coming in and buying up all the land, so she started talking to people and buying as much land as she could.  We have a very large farm at this point.  The Yoders farm all of the land.  I have invested money to pay for the upkeep on the farm for the foreseeable future.  I hope Peter or one of his children will want to live here some day.  At least, if they visit Earth, they will have somewhere to stay.  Did you visit Earth as a child?"

"Not too frequently, and it was no better than being on Vulcan.  I was never accepted as a member of my Mother's family.  She was rejected by most of her family.  She made several attempts of reconciliation but it didn't work.  I never felt I belonged here on Earth or on Vulcan.  I began to learn to fit in with the crew of the Enterprise under Captain Pike.  But, when you became our Captain, and accepted me as no different from any other crew member, I finally found the place I belonged.  The Enterprise was my first real home." Jim had suspected that Spock felt this way about the Enterprise but this was the first time he had ever openly voiced this to his friend.  They continued on their walk across the hay field with each caught up in their own childhood memories.

As they reached the Yoder farm, Jacob came forward to greet them.  "Jimmy, how are you doing? It has been a long time."

Spock's eyes twinkled at James Kirk being called Jimmy.  Jim gave him a look that said he better not say anything.  He shook hands with Jacob.  "Hi, Jacob, how is your family?"

"Fine, but did you hear that father died several weeks ago?"

"Yes, I did.  I wanted to come over and express my condolences.  I wasn't close enough to Earth to come at the time.  I'm sorry I couldn't come, as your father meant a lot to me." Jim leaned against the hay wagon as he talked to Jacob.  He wiped his forehead, as their walk had really made him sweat.  "Let me introduce my friend, Mr. Spock.  Mr. Spock this is Jacob Yoder."

"Mr. Yoder, my pleasure." Spock leaned more heavily on the cane as the walk had tired him.

"It looks like your friend could use a rest, Jimmy.  Why don't you go to the house, and Sara will make you some lemonade? I'll come join you when I am done here." Jim nodded and he and Spock headed to the porch.  Sarah was waiting for them and greeted Jim with a smile.  She brought them lemonade, and they sat in the rocking chairs and watched the men put the hay in the barn.

"What would Leonard say if he heard Mr. Yoder called you Jimmy?" Jim could hear the teasing in Spock's voice.

"He better not hear it from you, and that's an order." Jim smiled.

"I have not been under your command for years.  But I'll keep your secret." They spent the afternoon visiting with Jacob and Sarah.  As they knew Bones would be waiting for them, they declined the invitation to supper.  At Spock's request, Sarah had given them a tour of her herb garden.  He had asked for some mint which Sarah had happily provided.  When Jim asked what he planned to use it for, he mentioned a gift for Leonard.

Spock was quiet on the walk back to Jim's house.  "What are you thinking, Spock?"

"I was thinking that their simple life certainly holds a certain charm.  But I would not trade our adventures for anything in the Universe." Spock was in an introspective mood.

"We did have some wonderful adventures.  I think it is more fun remembering them than it was living some of them.  When I think about the trouble, we got into and out of, I can't believe we survived." They followed the smell of food and joined Bones in the back yard.

"About time you decided to come back." Bones was grilling two steaks and had the table set with a variety of vegetable dishes.

Spock found the smell of the steaks nauseating and sat in a chair up wind of the grill.  Jim moved over by Bones to check out the steaks.  "You've been busy.  I'll take mine medium rare.  "

"Well, I rarely get a chance to cook and I found a refrigerator full of food."

"Most of it is right off the farm and out of Sarah's vegetable garden." Jim moved to the table to sample a carrot.  He offered one to Spock who declined.

"That reminds me, Leonard, I have a present for you." Spock picked up a bag and opened it.

"What's that, Spock?"

Bones turned from the grill and Spock handed him a handful of mint leaves. "Courtesy of Sarah's herb garden.  I assumed you will want to make your mint juleps."

"Thanks, Spock.  Guess what we're having for desert," Bones said with a big grin. Jim groaned and Bones shot him a disgusted look.

They enjoyed their meal but both Jim and Bones noticed that Spock didn't eat much.  They sat and watched the sunset.

"We have seen sunsets on more planets than I can count, but the sunset on Earth will always be my first choice.  What about you, Spock? Which sunset do you prefer?" Jim looked at Spock.  He was being too quiet and Jim hoped to draw Spock into the conversation.

"Earth sunsets are most colorful but Vulcan sunsets against the red sand are spectacular." Bones and Jim were amazed that Spock was able to comment on sunsets, something he had never done in the past.  They continued to watch the explosion of color in silence.  Spock grieved for all of the old friends he had outlived.  Jim and Bones grieved for their friend who was dying in front of their eyes.

* * *

 

The days at the farm went by quietly.  They spent time walking the fields and woods when Spock was up to the effort.  Sometimes it was just Jim and Spock, and sometimes all three of them.

Bones had pulled out much of the medical equipment and set it up in Spock's room.  The bedroom soon looked like his sickbay.  Spock had raised his eyebrows at the amount of equipment that Bones had brought.  Bones reassured him that the equipment was to ease his breathing and pain.  "Thank you, Leonard, I appreciate your efforts to make my death as pain free as possible," he said after Bones' explanation.

Two weeks into their time on the farm, Sarek visited.  Spock was spending the day in bed as he was beginning to feel weaker every day.  Jim met Sarek outside so he could forewarn him about Spock's condition.  "Sarek, Spock will be pleased to see you.  Before you go in, I wanted to prepare you, as he is weaker than when you last saw him."

"Does Leonard know how much time he has left?" To Jim, it seemed as if he could hear the sorrow in Sarek's voice.

"Perhaps another week or so.  He said the stress of the trip probably sped up the process." Jim tried to be as kind as he could in telling Sarek.

Sarek bowed his head and tried to calm his emotions.  "Watching Spock die cannot be easy for you, James."

"Or for you, Sarek."

"Again, I thank you for taking care of my son." Two sad men, one who loved his son and one who loved Spock as his brother, went into the house.

Sarek and Jim entered the room.  Sarek successfully hid any signs that he noticed a difference in Spock.  "Jim, Leonard, could you leave us alone for a while?" Spock requested.  With a nod they left the room.

Spock and Sarek talked about Spock's childhood and events over the years.  Spock was able to explain more about the process that had allowed him to blend the best of his Vulcan heritage with the best of his Earth heritage.  Sarek began to understand Spock a little more, but he still couldn't totally fathom what Spock had been through.  It was enough for Spock that Sarek tried to accept him with his emotions.  After charging Leonard and James to call him every day with an update, Sarek left.

Jim joined Spock and sat at his side.  "How did that go?"

"Better than I expected.  My Father made more of an effort to understand me than he ever had in the past.  It helped to reconcile many unresolved conflicts we had in the past."

"I'm glad you have been able to have time with your father.  Many people never get that chance."

"Thanks to you, I gained a second chance at life when you rescued me from the Genesis planet.  For that I thank you, Jim."

"Spock, you do realize it wasn't just me.  Without a lot of help, we would never have pulled it off."

Bones entered at that point.  "Pulled off what?" He had a seat next to Jim.

"Bringing Spock back from Genesis.  I told him there were a lot of people involved in the rescue.  I don't think anyone believed I would follow orders and stay away from the Genesis planet.  Spock, did I ever tell you that First Officer Stiles contacted me and offered us the use of his ship, the Endeavor?"

Spock was exceedingly surprised by that revelation.  "The Stiles who served with us during our first encounter with the Romulans?" Spock had never been certain Stiles would make it in Starfleet.  At that time, Starfleet was becoming more diverse every day with the races they were pulling into the Academy, and the crews were having to adapt quickly.  When Stiles transferred off the Enterprise, he had seemed less xenophobic.  But Spock had never been genuinely convinced, he had changed.

"Yes, that Stiles.  He wasn't the only officer who contacted me.  But I couldn't let them jeopardize their careers.  I turned them all down.  But some of them ran interference for us and gave us time to get to Genesis.  Those offers of assistance were for you, Spock.  Do you realize the high regard your former crew mates had for you? Every ship that looked for a science officer vied for the officers you trained.  Between the two of us, we probably served with or trained half the fleet."

Bones decided this was the time to tell what he knew about that incident. "Didn't you ever wonder why we weren't drummed out of the service after stealing and destroying the Enterprise? It wasn't just because we brought a couple of whales back."

Jim looked at him quizzically.  "What do you know that we don't know, Bones?"

"Well, a few weeks ago, I just happen to run across this report that Admiral Miller, the head of the Starfleet Medical, wrote during the time we were waiting for Spock to recover on Vulcan.  The project was to study the impact of our court martial on the moral of all of Starfleet.  They used three scenarios, which were: putting us in a Starfleet rehabilitation center, forcing us to resign our commissions with no brig time or the scenario they chose-your reduction in rank."

"Bones, you never told me about that report." Bones smiled and it didn't take a telepath to tell he was pleased with himself.  "Don't stop, tell us the rest," Jim said.  Bones could tell he had piqued Spock's interest as well.

"There was not a ship in the fleet without a large group of our former shipmates.  Starfleet reviewed some of the communications back and forth from the ships.  Starfleet brass was very concerned about an uprising, if not an out right mutiny, if they came down too hard on us.  Those Starfleet bureaucrats were scared to death and they buried every report on this subject they could find." Bones hated tin-plated bureaucrats, as he called them, with a passion, and always had.  "But I have a few friends who thought I would like to see the report." He sat back with a smug look on his face.

"Why didn't you tell me about this before now, Bones?" Jim was surprised and shocked by what Bones had told him.

"Oh, I guess I was waiting for the right moment, and now seemed like a good time."

"If we are going to make confessions, I have one about my father.  He had prepared a plan to rescue you if the outcome of the court martial was not favorable.  He had obtained permission from Vulcan leaders to offer all of you asylum.  You had gained the respect of Vulcan which is a difficult thing to obtain."

"Does everybody know more about what happened than I do?" Jim questioned in exasperation?

"That's what you get for missing the meetings." Bones was delighted with himself, as he had been waiting for a long time to get even with Jim for that comment.

Jim rolled his eyes.  He noticed Spock had closed his eyes and was looking paler. "Spock, are you okay?"

Spock opened his eyes and smiled at Jim.  "I am just very tired."

Bones ran his scanner over Spock, pulled a hypo out, and pressed it against his neck.  "We should let you rest.  Let's go Jim."

"No, Leonard!" Spock grabbed Leonard's arm as well as Jim's.  "Stay - I would prefer to have you close.  I will try to rest." Bones looked at Jim and nodded his head, so they both sat back down.  From that point on, one of them was with Spock at all times.  He seemed to rest better with their presence.  Jim did not ask, but he wondered if Spock was picking up their feelings of - concern and yes, love - which comforted him and allowed him to rest easier.  Jim contacted Sarek daily and as Spock's time grew short, Sarek joined them and took his turn sitting with Spock.  Sarek was able to ease some of Spock's discomfort by using Vulcan healing mind melds.

* * *

 

Late one night, Sarek's healing meld and Bones' pain medicine did not seem to be helping Spock.  Jim supported Spock as he sat up in the bed and then propped him up with pillows.  He did his best not to show his shock at how weak and thin Spock had become.  "How about a game of chess? I don't have a 3D board here, but I do have a regular board we could use."

"A regular board would be fine, as I am not sure I could handle 3D chess at this point." Spock's breathing was becoming labored and he found it difficult to talk.

Jim set up the board and they began to play.  "Did I ever tell you that Sam taught me how to play chess?"

"I have always wondered who taught you those erratic moves." Jim's illogical moves had always irritated Spock.

Jim laughed, "Actually, I developed those moves on my own.  It always exasperated Sam, as well."

They continued to play in silence for a while.  "Spock, do you remember when Sam died on Deneva?"

"Of course, Jim.  I remember every mission we were on as if it was yesterday."

"I'm not sure I ever told you how much you helped me.  Once we left the planet and the mission was over, I was devastated by Sam's death.  You didn't say much, but your presence was especially comforting to me.  I know Bones was worried, too.  Neither of you left me alone to brood.  Between the two of you keeping me busy and listening when I needed to talk, you kept me from dying inside.  I thank you, Spock.  And I do consider you a brother."

Spock remembered that time well.  Bones had recommended they take turns staying with Jim, much as they were doing for him now.  Spock didn't know how to comfort a human who was grieving, but soon learned his presence was all that was required.  When Jim couldn't sleep, he had used the mind meld to offer him a chance to relax and forget momentarily.  By the next mission, Jim had worked through his grief, enough to function normally.

"And I consider you the only brother I ever had.  Sybok was gone before I had a chance to know him.  He was my brother in name only.  I should have told you about him."

Jim brushed aside the apology with a wave of his hand.  "There is much about my family that I have never told anyone.  That lapse was forgiven long ago."

"Jim, would you let me mind-meld with you again? I would like to try and stop the dreams about my death on the Enterprise.  You should not have to relive two deaths."

"Are you sure you are up to the mind-meld? It won't weaken you, will it?"

"I can manage it, and I don't think it will harm me."

Jim moved the chess board out of the way.  After Jim moved closer, Spock placed his fingers on the mind meld points.  Due to the many years of melds, their link was almost instantaneous.

'Spock, I do not want to forget your death on the Enterprise.'

'I will not erase your memory--only ease the hurt it causes.  Relax.  It will take a moment to find that memory.' Spock searched until he found the memory he was looking for.  Watching his death from Jim's point of view was uncomfortable and he understood why Jim continued to have nightmares.  He eased the hurt caused by the memory until it was just a dull throb.

'The memory will be there, but you should not have any more nightmares.'

Jim could feel the sharp edges of his memory soften, and it was no longer as painful.  'Thank you, Spock.'

'You are welcome, Jim. ... Have you ever wondered why we are able to mind-meld so easily?'

'You mean that isn't normal?'

'Not between a Vulcan and a human.  Perhaps the fact our first mind-meld was a healing trance was a factor.  Do you recall much about that first meld, Jim?'

'No, only the comfort of your presence.'

Spock pulled up the memory of the healing trance.  Kirk, Spock and McCoy were evaluating a planet for contact by Federation representatives.  During a riot, Kirk was severely injured.  When they were in danger of being discovered, they fled to the hills to hide in caves, as the Enterprise was not due for several days.

Jim was surprised to see the memory from Spock's point of view.  Bones and Spock carried him on a stretcher up a steep hill.  Spock continued to look down at Jim as they climbed further up the mountain.  After a long, steep, climb; they entered a cave and placed the stretcher on the ground.  'Spock, he's running a fever and he's bleeding internally.  There isn't much I can do.  I don't have the equipment and ...' Bones’ voice broke as he continued.  'He won't last long enough for the ship to save us.' Jim cringed at the grief he saw in Bones' face. He was shocked by how pale he appeared lying on the stretcher, but it was in a detached, unemotional way.

Jim could feel the mix of emotions which Spock attempted to control.  'Dr.  McCoy, I may be able to help the captain.  You have witnessed my mind-meld before.  There is a deeper meld, which places me in a healing trance.  All Vulcans are able to preform such a healing trance in times of illness or injury.  In times of severe injury, a Healer will blend with the patient and add his healing powers to encourage recovery.'

'Spock, are you able to do this type of healing trance?'

'My teachers said I had the gift to become a Healer, but my Father would not agree.  I have not been fully trained and I might not be able to bring us out of the trance.  But, if there is no other hope, I can try.'

'Spock, please try; there is no other choice.  What can I do to help you out of the trance?'

'When I ask, you must hit me as hard as you can and continue until I stop you.'

'You've got to be kidding.'

'No, I'm not.  You must follow my instructions.'

'Okay, Spock, I'll do it.  Now, what else can I do to help?'

'We must move Jim closer to the wall, and then help me position him, so I can reach his face.' Spock leaned against the wall and prepared himself for the meld.  Carefully he positioned his hands on Jim's face.  Jim remembered Spock entering his mind and the feeling of peace and comfort he felt.  After a period of time, his pain eased.  He floated in peace until he felt pain in his face -- no, Spock's face.

'Wake up, Spock, damn you, wake up!' Jim saw Bones concerned face through Spock's eyes.  'You almost didn't make it back, Spock.'

'I didn't realize how dangerous the healing trance was for both of us, Spock,' Jim said after watching the scene from Spock's point of view.

'It was dangerous but our minds melded together more smoothly than any meld I had ever performed up to that point or after that time.  I should not have been surprised we developed a t'hy'la link.'

'Spock, I have never asked before-but why did you go to Vulcan after the end of our first five-year mission?'

'Jim...  Our last mind-meld, before I went to Vulcan ... scared me.  I thought I would loose my identity.  Your emotions overwhelmed me and I was terrified.'

'But Spock, I was injured, as were you.  The chance of that happening again was very slim.'

'I was not thinking clearly at that time.  I thought I had to run away and deny our t'hy'la link.  But even when I was on Vulcan, I sensed the hurt and anger you felt.'

Jim could sense Spock's deep regret over his actions.  Not wanting to dwell on that incident too long, Jim decided to change the subject.  'Let's not talk about that anymore.  I can feel you getting weaker, and it's time to break the meld.'

It had been easier for Spock to talk to Jim through the mind-meld, but he also realized he needed to end the meld.  Spock sunk back into the pillows in exhaustion.

"Spock, are you okay?"

"Don't worry, I needed to meld with you, one last time..." Exhaustion overcame him and he drifted off to sleep.  Jim held Spock's hand and watched the slow rise and fall of his chest.  Not wanting him to suffer did not prevent him from trying to will his friend to live one more day.

* * *

 

Spock did survive one more day.  And Jim was the one watching over Spock late the next evening.  His thoughts jumped from memory to memory as he watched over Spock.  The sounds in the room were a combination of machines humming and Spock wheezing for breath.  He knew Spock had a matter of hours before the end would come.  Chaotic thoughts and grief threatened to consume him.  Knowing he had to be strong for Spock kept his anguish in control.

Overcome by fatigue, he almost dozed off, when Spock called out.  "Jim ... help me ... can not breathe ... need ... outside.  Jim!"

Jim was out of the chair kneeling beside the bed.  "Bones," he screamed! "Sarek!"

"No ... Jim ... outside ... need go ... outside.  Need ... see ... stars!"

Bones and Sarek showed up as Spock begged to be taken outside.  It was obvious Spock wanted to die under the stars.  Spock’s eyes pleaded with Jim and Jim looked to Bones.  Bones shrugged his shoulders as he realized it would make no difference.  "Do as he asked, James.  You must grant him his request," Sarek declared.

With a nod, Jim picked Spock up blankets and all.  Again he was shocked at how much weight Spock had lost.  Jim choked back tears as he carried Spock out the front door.  Bones and Sarek followed as Jim moved out into a pasture so no trees would block Spock's view of the stars.  Easing Spock down on the ground, he sat with Spock leaning against his chest.  "Jim, ... thank ... you.  Stars ... so many.  Our ... life ... among ... stars ... magnificent!" Spock's face broke into a huge smile.

"Yes, Spock, our life was spectacular.  You have been and always will be my ..."

"Friend!" Spock finished Jim's sentence and his life passed from his body.  Jim pulled him even closer and sobbed as he had not done since he was a child.  Tears ran down Bones' face freely.  No one noticed the moistness around Sarek's eyes. As they grieved, Spock's body disappeared and all Jim held was the blanket.  They sat in the pasture, nobody speaking, until the sky turned pink with first light.

* * *

 

The Year 2841

 

The Guardian of Forever returned Spock to the Guardian planet a few hours after he left.  "All is as it was.  Time is unchanged." They carefully carried Spock's body to the buildings and called the James T. Kirk to return and pick up his body.  The scientists had tried to determine if Spock had changed the past but hadn't been able to find any problems.  Despite many questions the Guardian revealed nothing of Spock's journey to the past.  They speculated for years about where Spock had gone.  An autopsy had shown he died of illnesses he had been fighting for years.

As per his will, Spock was buried on Earth next to James T. Kirk.  After the death of Spock, Starfleet went ahead with plans to erect a statue of the most famous trio in Starfleet history.  James T. Kirk, Leonard McCoy, and Mr. Spock had all refused to allow a statue of themselves to be erected during their lifetimes.  Starfleet had been planning this honor for years.  They wanted to show their respect for the most decorated team in Starfleet.  The charmed three had their detractors, but often they were people who were resentful of the trio's success and popularity.  Many pointed out the number of times Jim Kirk had broken the Prime Directive.

Starfleet realized the Prime Directive was the ideal but in reality it did not cover all circumstances.  In the early years of Starfleet, Jim Kirk and his crew had to be the diplomats, scientists, defenders of the Federation, and goodwill ambassadors.  As the years passed, every decision the crew of the Enterprise made was analyzed and critiqued.  And, most often their decisions were upheld as the most logical judgment they could have made at the time.  Jim Kirk's inherent sense of honor, dignity, courage and nobleness had helped him through many difficult situations.  An integral part of that magic was Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy.  They helped Jim Kirk stay centered and were the counter balance of his conscience.  The ensemble had been the cause of thousands of individuals joining Starfleet.  Dozens of planets had heaped honors on the team.

Finally, the day for the dedication of the statue arrived.  Starfleet decided the best place to erect the statue was on the grounds of Starfleet Academy. Descendants of Jim Kirk's nephew, Peter, and Leonard McCoy's daughter, Joanna, and Mr. Spock's daughter, Amanda, were present for the ceremony.  When the tarp was removed it displayed the famous three, with James Kirk in the center and Leonard McCoy and Mr. Spock flanking him.  Jim had a communicator in his hand, Dr. McCoy with his medical tricorder, and Mr. Spock had his tricorder slung over his shoulder.  All three were wearing their uniforms from their first five-year mission.

Family members were seated in the front rows with representatives of numerous Federation planets behind them.  All of Starfleet Academy was present with members of Starfleet command scattered throughout the assembly.  The Chancellor of the Klingon High Council of the Klingon Empire expounded on the legend that was James Kirk.  The Romulan Praetor proclaimed the saga of Mr. Spock.  The leader of Yonada, a direct descendant of Natira, spoke of the chronicle of Dr. Leonard McCoy.  Finally, the President of the Federation recited the accomplishments of the legends of Starfleet.

No one saw the three beings who floated near the statues.  They were dressed very much like their statues.  "Can you believe that dribble, Jim? I thought we squelched that statue nonsense ages ago."

"Bones, we should have known once we all died, they would proceed with their plans for the statue."

"Then it's your fault, Spock, if you had lived forever like you were supposed to, this would never have happened."

"Leonard, it must have been that red blood that did me in."

"That's the only part of you I liked." Spock raised his eyebrows at that comment.

"Gentlemen, let's not fight, we are finally together again."

"Jim, have you noticed those three boys over there.  The ones who look like they are eight or nine years old.  They seem to be watching us," Spock said.

"That can't be -- we are on a different plane of existence; no one can see us."

"Nevertheless, I think Spock is right.  They are pointing right at us," Bones said.

"I think the one with the light red hair is one of my great-great-great nephews. I can never remember how many greats."

"You're right, Jim, and the one with the dark hair is a great-great-great ... whatever, a grandchild of mine.  He's Joanna's descendant."

"And, the obvious Vulcan child is my great-grandchild.  He is my daughter Amanda's grandchild."

The children ran to their parents to tell them what they saw by the statues. Their parents shooed them off to play.  The children quickly returned to their games and seemed to become fast friends.

"Well, my friends, I think the next generation is in good hands from what I have seen.  I say we return to some of the worlds we visited and see how they are doing." They turned to leave and Jim had a hand on each of his friends' shoulders as he said, "Let's head to the star on the right; it looks like an interesting one." The boys stopped playing and watched the image of their famous relatives fade into the distance, knowing they would always remember this day even if no one ever believed their story.

The End