Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount Viacom. This story is copyright 2006 SterJulie. Rated PG.



Ster Julie


It was Spock who found the good doctor in Science Lab 4, "three sheets to the wind," as his mother would say.

"This 's a private wake," McCoy slurred.

Spock considered how to handle this situation. Abandoning a very inebriated officer just wouldn't be right, nor would it be prudent. SL4, although unoccupied at that moment, was a public place. The new doctor would not be able to command respect from the crew if he should be discovered in this state. In the end, the Vulcan walked further into the room and said quietly, "Computer, lock door."

McCoy bobbled his head up from its place on the doctor's arm.

"Wha' the bloody hell you think you're doin'?" McCoy raged.

Spock did not reply. Instead, he walked over to the replicator and ordered up several things. He placed the first two items -- a very large glass of water and two antitox pills -- in front of the doctor.

"Wha' zat?" McCoy grated. Spock didn't respond. He knew that the doctor would recognize the over-indulgence panacea, eventually. "Iff'n I di'n't want ta get drunk, I wouldn' have opened the bottle."

"A wake is a traditional gathering after the death of someone," Spock said, "a time to discuss the life of the deceased, is it not?"

"Yeah. So?" McCoy responded.

"You knew Mrs. Carter before?" Spock asked quietly.

"Yeah. So?" McCoy repeated, downing the pills and most of the water.

"Tell me about Nancy," Spock said gently.

McCoy's bleary eyes began to tear up. "I met Nancy when we were both in pre-med," he began as the miracle drug began to work. "We were -- very close, but we lost contact with each other when she changed her major to bio-research. We got on with our lives and married other people." McCoy paused as the tears fell. "If only I had kept in touch with her, I wouldn't have made the mistake of marrying Jocelyn!" the doctor wailed.

Spock's eyes grew gentle. "Did not that 'mistake' produce your daughter Joanna," he asked, "a daughter that you cherish?"

McCoy wiped his eyes on his sleeve. "Joanna's the only good thing that came out of that marriage," he sniffed.

Spock returned to the replicator and removed a few more items. He set a small brass bowl and a small tin of incense in front of McCoy.

"What's this?" the doctor asked.

Spock dipped his head to the side in a Vulcan shrug. "It is an invitation to ritualize your grief," he said quietly.

McCoy gave him a baleful glance. "That's what I was doing when you found me."

"This involves less self-destructive behavior," Spock instructed calmly.

McCoy considered. He was already sober, thanks to the antitox, but his emotional pain remained. He sighed, resigned. "What do I have to do?"

"Choose three grains of incense," Spock instructed as he lit the small briquette in the brass bowl.

"Why three?" McCoy queried as he made his selection.

"It is for the Sacred Three," Spock replied as he fanned the briquette to a bright orange glow.

McCoy shot a strange look at the Vulcan.

"'Sacred Three'?" he repeated. "Don't tell me Vulcan has a Father, Son and Holy Ghost, too!"

Spock listened carefully to the doctor's tone. He did not sense any sarcasm in McCoy's voice, so he continued to share Vulcan beliefs with this outworlder.

"The Sacred Three refer to the past, the present, and the future," Spock instructed. "It can also mean our ancestors, those now living, and our descendants. It reminds us that we are never separated from those who have gone before us, and that we will one day know and be known by those who come after us. We learn from the ancestors, and our lives are lessons for the descendants."

"That explains why Vulcans are such a contemplative people," McCoy observed.

"Yes," Spock said, nodding. "We do not want to return to the savage ways of the past. We have to keep strict custody of our present actions so that our children will know peace."

McCoy thought a while. "What does that have to do with me and Nancy?" he asked, blinking back tears.

Spock pointed to the three small grains of incense McCoy had chosen.

"The first grain represents your relationship with Nancy," Spock said quietly, "your memories, your joys." He pointed to the second grain. "This one acknowledges and honors your grief." Spock indicated the third grain. "This one is linked to the first. It is a promise to Nancy to remember her life, to remember your brief relationship, and by doing so, to carry her into the future."

"In other words," McCoy said through his tears, "she'll live in my memories."

Spock handed the grains to the doctor. "I do not need to tell you that you should mourn the Nancy you knew, not the creature that took her form."

McCoy nodded as he placed each grain on the ember separately, watching a small puff of fragrant smoke rise from the little bowl.

Spock gently took McCoy's hand, waved it over the smoke three times, then raised it to the doctor' forehead.

McCoy stood motionless with his hand covering his eyes. He was remembering Spock's instructions. He thought of the Nancy he once knew, young, beautiful and vibrant. He acknowledged his grief at losing her, not only now, but also long ago when he was too busy with school and too foolish to seek her out. McCoy promised Nancy that he would never forget her. He promised to call his sweet Joanna someday and tell her of Nancy. And he promised that he would never again allow himself to be too busy to pursue happiness.

Somehow, McCoy did not think that Spock would stand by him during his reflections, his promises and his tears. How could the Vulcan stand to be around anyone so emotional? But when McCoy eventually lowered his hand, he found Spock holding out a soft handkerchief to him. McCoy took it gratefully, wiping his eyes and his face.

"How are you, Doctor?" Spock asked gently.

McCoy responded with a wan, watery smile. "Now that was a proper wake," he responded. "Thank you, Spock."

Spock nodded in response.

McCoy cleared his throat and tried to reclaim some of his bluster. "One would think that a Vulcan would run from such blatant emotionalism," McCoy drawled.

"While Vulcans eschew emotions, Doctor," he explained, "we cannot avoid grief. It is the one emotion we acknowledge. To do otherwise..."

"Yeah, yeah," McCoy interrupted. "To do otherwise would be illogical."