DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of T'Kuht and is copyright (c) 2001 by T'Kuht.
Sitting Up With the Dead
"Ambassador, may I speak to you a moment," Dr. Jobin requested and stepped to the side of the large conference room with the Vulcan ambassador.
Spock gave the man his full attention. Since the disaster, Jobin had been in charge of the medical facilities in the capital city. "Yes, Doctor?"
"I hate to ask you to perform a grim task, but if you could assist in identifying some of the bodies we just received in the morgue."
Spock's eyebrow lifted slightly. "Why me?"
"These were members of the Federation rescue squad that were killed when the school was bombed and collapsed. We were informed that several were former Starfleet officers. We thought you might be able to confirm our identifications," Jobin said somberly. He was not doing this well, but he was tired and worn down to the ground. He needed help and Spock was the only one they could think of.
"I will come to see if I can assist, but I cannot guarantee I knew any of these people," Spock pointed out.
"Fair enough. Follow me."
They went out the conference room, down the jammed hospital corridor to the lift and down to the morgue. Body bags were lined up along the hall waiting to be filled or shipped out to other locations. Spock did a mental count of how many there were and wished he had not. The room was filled with small doors and two examining tables that were full but draped. Jobin stepped over to the first of the drawers, pulled it out, read the toe tag. Spock did not know the body. It was that way with all of them until the last. Jobin sighed, "Well, it was worth a try. This is the last of them."
He stepped over to the table, pulled the sheet back to reveal the perfectly composed face. She had died without facial blemish. All her injuries had been internal when she'd been crushed under the debris. Spock's face contorted for a moment. One word slipped out, "Christine..."
"You knew her?" Jobin asked a little happily. It was not because he was pleased he knew a corpse, but that at least one person was positively identified so the family could be notified.
"Yes. She is ... was Dr. Christine Chapel, former CEMO of Starfleet. Why was she here? She was retired," Spock mused aloud.
"She was in the first wave of volunteers. That's all I know," Jobin replied realizing that Spock knew her well. The pain was written clearly in his eyes. "But, you are certain that she is Christine Chapel?"
"Yes," Spock replied, the husky tone betraying the tears that would not fall. He was glued to her face. Her 80 years had been kind to her. She was as he had remembered seeing her decades earlier. It would only be appropriate that she died trying to help others. That's all she'd ever tried to do was help.
"Well, she was the last of them. We can go now so you can get back to the conference."
The two began to go to the door, but Spock turned, didn't want to leave her there alone. "I shall be back presently. I wish to remain for a time," he said.
Jobin didn't study the Vulcan's features too long, just accepted the fact that he wished to stay. He added before he left, "She'll be shipped back to Earth to her family."
Spock replied, "She has no family. All her relatives are dead. I shall make her arrangements."
"All right, I'll send down some paperwork in a little while," Jobin said surprised and headed out the security doors. The room was cold, even colder than the storage units kept it. Spock found himself alone in a room of dead people and feeling just as dead as they. Why did he have to be the one to identify her? Maybe it was fate. Maybe it was cosmic irony that after all these years he would be the one person she had left to claim her as kin. Kin, it was a human word, but that's what he was. He was kin to many and almost all of them were dead now. He had lost the two people who meant more to him than anyone else in the universe, Jim Kirk and his mother. Why did Christine's death hit him almost harder than theirs had? Deciding to lock the morgue door so that he would not be disturbed, Spock walked back slowly to the table as if he dreaded seeing what was there.
Pulling the sheet back slowly, he took in her form on the table. It was still in the volunteer uniform she'd worn. She looked strangely asleep, only with a slightly blue pallor. Leaving the sheet piled down by her feet, he went to sit on the lab stool at the desk and faced her. His mind was not comprehending well. With Jim Kirk he had no body, no corpse to look at, gaze upon. With his mother, he had watched her fade and die and had not wished to see her dead. But with Christine, it was all he had of her. It had been so long since they'd seen each other that he could not remember the sound of her voice, her laugh. He did remember the blue of her eyes as they smiled at him. It was a sky blue that could match any clear winter sky on Earth. On Vulcan that color sky would mean a storm was approaching. He wished he could see them again. But, wishes for Vulcans do not come true. Wishes only come true for people who have enough faith to take illogical risks to make them happen.
In the cold room, the sound of the ticking clock was like a drum. Closing his eyes, he tried to make the sound stop. Opening them, she was still there as well as the sound. Questions that he had began forming in his head, he had to ask them even if he knew there were no answers. Oddly, the sound of his voice did not seem strange in this mortuary. "Did you still love me?"
The Vulcan was startled at the pain that statement created. He sucked in air for a second, afraid he was going to suffocate. A tear began falling. "Did you still love me when you died? I need to know I was loved. It is illogical and not even human, but you were the last of them..."
His voice trailed off. He would receive no satisfaction from his questioning, but he had to go on to get it out to be able to control what he felt. "When Jim was lost, I was in such grief. Jim and I, he was my brother, a partner, our souls were and are still intertwined. But I did not feel this so deeply. I did not think I could hurt any worse than when my mother's heart stopped beating, and yet I did not feel this..."
His devastation only grew worse. "Christine, you were the last of the people in my life who loved me without judgment. You told me that you loved me just as I was, the Vulcan Mr. Spock, the human Mr. Spock. I now find myself so empty ... so..." A sob escaped him. He clenched his fists. "I am in control of my emotions."
But her words echoed through him to the point that he could almost hear them in the room. "No, the others think that, I don't. You have feelings, you hide them."
He nodded in defeat. "Yes, I have emotions. You saw that so easily. Was I that readable or were you that perceptive? I had fooled all the others."
He gazed at the corpse a moment, watched it as if it would rise up and argue or agree with him. It did neither. "I had fooled all the others..." he repeated quietly. "I have fooled no one but myself."
Rising from the stool and going to stare down at her, he rearranged the frame of curls. "They should be like that. You are pretty. No, you are beautiful. I never told you that. I have always thought so. But, you must understand, it would not be proper for me to tell you so, not even in private. Perhaps now, if you are listening to this, you will know. I know what I believe will occur when I die, but I do not know what you believed or what has occurred.
"You offered so much to me. I offered nothing to you. It is not fair, but I had no choice. I had no choice," he repeated trying to make himself believe it. "I had a choice. I chose not to take it. I chose to remain safe and alone instead of taking a chance and admitting that I could love to someone. If I had chosen you, my life would be different. There is no doubt of that. If I had chosen anyone, my life would have been different. I am selfish. I wanted you to love me, needed you to love me but did not wish to risk loving you back. I still want you to love me, and you are dead. If there were a way to change things, would I? I have lived a satisfactory life so far. It has been filled with loneliness and togetherness. Would I be smart enough to accept you and your love? But, you have not answered my question, did you still love me?"
There was silence from the table. Spock laughed a sarcastic laugh for a second. "Perhaps it is only appropriate that you do not answer me now when I would not answer you all those years ago."
Noticing that she had a necklace on, but it was tangled in her collar, he began to straighten it, ended up tugging loose the charm that had dangled from it. It was an oddly shaped thing, and he looked more closely at it. Gleaming platinum in the morgue lights revealed a symbol. The tears poured down his cheeks. Her charm was his name in Old High Vulcan. It looked old but well cared for as if she kept it polished and paid attention to it. She had loved him till her death. Leaning over to place his lips on her cold forehead, he whispered, "Thank you."
Something in him lifted and he was able to maintain control of his inner turmoil. It was bittersweet, but he had been loved till the end. A knock at the morgue door made him wipe the tear streaked face and compose himself before he opened it. Dr. Jobin stood with a datapadd to fill out. "You said you would make the arrangements?"
"Yes," Spock said and took the padd. It requested names, relationships, where to be interred. "I wish her to be sent to Vulcan. She will be placed in my family's vault."
"Yes, list her as ... my wife," Spock decided. Jobin was visibly shocked, searched the ambassador's face, but could find nothing to say to him. Shrugging, he nodded, "Okay. When do you wish her to be sent?"
"I shall accompany her back. Please have her body ready for transport when the Vulcan delegation leaves."
"All right. Sign here please."
Spock signed and was left alone again. He turned back to the body of the woman he would forever call his wife. "It is of no comfort to you now, but perhaps it can be to me. Forgive me for being such a fool, Christine. I shall be back for you when the time comes."
With that, he pulled the sheet over her, making certain to display the charm correctly on her blouse. Two fingers caressed the frigid features. She would never know the warmth of his touch, but he had known hers. Completely composed, he left the room a far more empty man than he had entered but filled with the knowledge that he had been loved until the end.