DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Joanne Seward and is copyright (c) 1993 by Joanne Seward. Rated PG. Originally published in Lone Star Trek #5.
Joanne K. Seward
The old man's eyelids fluttered then lifted ever so slightly, revealing the rheumy eyes beneath. "Spock..."
The Vulcan placed a gentle hand on the thin arm. "Here, Jim."
"I guess... this is the end... old friend."
"Dr. McCoy does not take so gloomy a view of your condition."
The man in the bed smiled faintly and despite his pallor, despite the stertorous breathing, each inhalation painfully drawn, it was easy to discern the boyish,'devil may care' good looks that had been as much a part of his success as his innate ability to command. "Bones always was...an optimist... in pessimist's... clothing."
Hearing the familiar nickname, Leonard McCoy stepped to the bedside, fiddled with the life support controls, adjusting the respirator, scanning the monitors. "Better watch what you say about me," he admonished. "I can have that nurse sticking those medlines back in you faster than you can say 'beam me up.'" The doctor's voice held an unwonted huskiness and he forced the comers of his lips upward, trusting in the dim lighting to hide the tears that lurked in the comers of his eyes.
Again Spock stepped in, attempting to ease emotions that threatened to overwhelm. "If memory serves, I seem to recall you telling us that you knew you would die alone. Doctor McCoy and I are both with you, ergo, you cannot die."
"That's... what I thought..." Kirk drew a careful breath then gave another one of those feeble smiles. "It seems I was wrong."
"Jim--" Spock began.
"Jim," McCoy butted in, determined to have his say. "If you'd just let me--" There were a few dozen things he could do; none would change the inevitable, but...
"I'm tired, Bones... Let me go in my own way."
"Your way isn't in a hospital bed--" McCoy insisted.
Spock stepped closer, automatically rubbing his fingertips. He, too, had abilities to offer. "If you would allow me to help--"
The man in the bed shook his head. "No, Spock. Not that. Not this time... I do have a ... job... for you, though."
"You have only to name it," the Vulcan replied, willing his voice to remain even.
"Saavik was here."
It seemed as though Kirk had begun to ramble, but neither Spock nor McCoy interrupted.
"She reminded me..." Kirk turned his eyes toward the bedside table. "In the drawer... the
Spock frowned slightly, but he did as those eyes commanded, opening the drawer and taking out a small box.
He did so, one eyebrow rising as recognition dawned. He lifted the item out of the box and held it to the light. "Your Academy ring," he murmured, taking in the Starfleet insignia, the asteroid-mined stone in the traditional 'school ring' setting. "I have never seen you wear it."
Not even, he recalled, when Kirk had first taken command of the Enterprise. At the time, he had speculated that Kirk was perhaps overly conscious of the numerals flanking the stone, indicating, as they did, Kirk's relative youth. In time, Spock had come to realize that jewelry of any sort was not Kirk's style.
Kirk gave an infinitesimal nod. "I... sent it to Carol, to give to David when she decided to tell him about me. When he died--" Even on his own deathbed, mention of his son's death seemed more than Kirk was capable of.
Spock inclined his head, compreh~nsion written in his dark eyes. Carol Marcus held Kirk responsible for her son's death. She had done everything in her limited power to show Kirk her belief, to hurt him as she had been hurt. Apparently returning the ring was among the list of petty retribution's at which he could only guess.
"I have no other children, no one to pass it on to. No heir--"
So that was where Saavik came into this. "You have touched many lives, Jim," the Vulcan said soothingly.
Kirk moved irritably, and McCoy leaning against the far wall where he'd silently drifted, gave an admonitory glance at the monitors over the bed. Intercepting that glance, Spock too looked up. Though McCoy had disengaged the audible devices, long experience told the Vulcan the end was very near.
Kirk was speaking again, forcing the words out. "Peter didn't want any part of what I am-- David either... Want Jen to have it... Captain Jen. She'll know... know what to... do with it."
Spock racked his brain, Vulcan memory failing him now, of all times.
McCoy came to his aid. "He's talking about Jen Mcintosh, Spock."
The name clicked, bringing images of the child, then the young woman and her half-Romulan cohort, PakTau, whose careers Kirk had carefully nursed from afar. "Of course, Captain." Unnoticed, Spock fell back into his old pattern of speech. "I shall see that she gets it."
Kirk nodded, the sudden intensity gone from his features. His eyes drifted shut, and again Spock followed McCoy's gaze to the monitors, watched as knowing fingers were laid ever so gently over the brachial pulse.
"He'll sleep now..."
Spock said nothing, knowing as McCoy did, that it would be a sleep without end. Pain clenched at his heart, and he recognized it as sorrow. He drew a chair up to the bedside and seated himself in it, lightly clasping Kirk's hand in his. There had been a time when he would have shied away from the contact, but that time was long past.
On the other side of the bed, McCoy did the same. Insofar as they could, they would be with James Kirk, protecting him from the one fear he had ever voiced. He would not die alone. His self-appointed guardian angels would remain with him until he had gone where every man must go alone.