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. This story is Rated PG-13.
Suffer The Death of Thy Brother
Leonard McCoy plopped the case of Altair water down on the counter. Out of the entire grocery list, Spock's simple request had doubled the end total. The Vulcan regarded the item with an upswept brow and began taking bottles out of the case to be placed in the wine cooler that was built in next to the refrigerator. McCoy fumed, "Wait a minute. Don't fill up all the slots with that stuff. I've got actual wine that goes there."
"Then make room in your refrigerator for them, I prefer my water chilled," Spock intoned with impatience. Jim Kirk listened to the mild bickering that was beginning to sound like a full blown argument. The three had been together far too long this time.
With a peer over his glasses, he leaned forward to take the kitchen into his view. "Hey." Both looked up like a couple of guilty kids. They might be Jim Kirk's elders but in their minds, he was the boss. "Okay, how about we rearrange it so that you can have say two in at a time and the rest hot?"
Spock nodded, that was acceptable. Taking out a couple of the bottles of Kirk's imported beer he objected, "Wait a minute...not my beer."
"See, it's not so great when you have to compromise. So, here's the deal. We each get to pick two beverages to put in at one time, or you can each buy your own little chest coolers and keep it filled with what you like."
The two men considered the alternative. It was a viable solution. But, the house they had rented was already filled to capacity between the fishing gear, the climbing gear, and the scientific equipment. Still, if they used them for end tables on the porch... "Okay, we can compromise for a while," Kirk decided.
Lake Tippecanoe was an out of the way dive of a lake. The cottages were little more than rundown cabins, but there was great fishing, great views, and great opportunities for research on aquatic life forms. It was also cheap so they didn't have to worry about their length of stay or how well they kept their digs.
"So, what are we gonna do for the afternoon?" Kirk was asking when one of the piles of clothes beeped.
"Answer the phone," McCoy grumbled. Stepping over to the portable comm unit, McCoy threw the dirty shirt and pair of pants off and responded. "Cabin 4"
"There's a priority call for Dr. Leonard McCoy at the lodge. Do you wish to accept it?" came the voice at the main building. There was no actual way to call out from the cabin, so any incoming calls came via the main lodge.
"Yeah, I can be there in say five minutes. They can either hang on or call back," he replied. With a sigh, McCoy started out the door. "I'll be back. Probably someone wanting my professional skills."
Before he stepped off the porch, he returned to the screen door. "And you two clowns better not rearrange that fridge." Kirk hadn't even considered it until it was suggested and neither had Spock.
* * *
It took five minutes to walk to the lodge, twenty minutes to take the call, and a dismal ten minutes to make it back. Kirk and Spock had redone the fridge in that time and were now sitting as far as possible away from the kitchen as they could get in the cramped quarters. They could hear McCoy step onto the porch, but he didn't come in. Kirk put down his book. "Who was it?"
No answer. "Bones, who was it?"
Again, no answer. Finally the two friends went out to see what was wrong. Leonard McCoy stood hanging onto the porch post looking over the rail. He didn't look very well. Kirk instinctively knew something was wrong.
"What is it?"
"Huh, oh, that was Chris."
Spock appeared soon after Kirk on the porch. McCoy didn't seem to want to say much else. He waited till the others were beside him at the rail.
"Her brother was in a bad accident. He's alive but not for long. She isn't doing too well."
"Her brother, the one she left the ship to raise?" Kirk asked.
"Yeah, that one. He was racing his cycle, wiped out. He's basically gone from the neck down and the injuries are so bad they don't expect him to live through the weekend. I want to go," he said resolutely.
That tone would not be trifled with. Kirk knew that he'd have to go too. He hadn't been her captain in nearly twenty years, but she was still a friend who was in need. Beside him, Spock said, "When do we leave?"
The two men turned to look at him. He hadn't really had much to do with Christine since he'd been reborn, and they had doubted he even knew about her. "You want to go?" McCoy asked incredulously.
"She is a friend, and she needs support, does she not? I believe she has been there for all of us at one time or another in our past."
"Yeah, like you said, she needs support."
The three packed enough of their clean clothes to get them through a few days and stuffed the dirty things into a duffel bag. Christine had washing units they could use for free. It would be a whole day trip just to get to Ohio from Alaska.
* * *
Rain poured down the hospital windows in sheets so thick she couldn't see out. But she really wasn't seeing anything anyway. Her mind was a million miles away in the next room where her little brother, that she had raised as a son, lay dying. She was tired, numb, and too tight to relax at all. Coffee only aggravated her sick stomach and she hadn't eaten since the accident three days ago. She was remembering all the little things, what Mike liked for breakfast, his favorite shirt, the goofball smile on the 6'5" youth. He was only 20, he didn't deserve a fate that he was getting. Christine suddenly felt much older than her 50 years showed. She could almost feel the brown hair turning white, and she really didn't care. It had been such a weird ride for the boy. He had been born a fluke. Their mother had daughters both old enough to be mothers and at the age of 59 had been surprised to learn she was pregnant again. When she died at the age of 65, Christine had retired from deep space duty at the age of 36 to raise him. Their father had died shortly before he was born. So he never even knew the son who was to carry on the family name. She'd gladly taken him in, became a CO at Starfleet and now was the Assistant Surgeon General. She was standing, eyes closed to the world, ears closed to all sounds when she felt a hand at her shoulder. She didn't have to turn to know who it was. "How ya doin'?"
She shook her head, let it rest on the cold glass window. She could see the reflection of the three of them in the pane but really didn't acknowledge they were there. It was a few minutes before she spoke, "They're changing some of the dressings and cleaning the trach tube. I'm supposed to be resting."
"And you aren't. Come on, come sit down with us," McCoy said gently and led her away from the window. Her face was worn, exhausted, the eyes didn't seem to focus or care anymore. With a sigh, she sat in the uncomfortable lounge chairs. She'd not been able to sleep or find any solace from any of it. She nodded at Spock and Kirk. "Thanks for bringing him."
Kirk shook his head. "We came together. Do you need anything? I can get some coffee, tea, anything?"
"No, thanks. The coffee is lousy, and I can't keep anything down," she sniffed. Her eyes were not puffy from crying. She'd vowed after she'd heard the prognosis that she would not cry in front of him. He was conscious, he could see her, hear her, know her expressions.
Spock sat opposite her. He had no words or even acts that could possibly help, but he offered one. A hand rested on her knee, and their eyes met. She smiled. Tears started to form in her eyes, but activity at her brother's door made her dry them quickly. A nurse appeared, "We're done if you want to go back in. Hello."
"These are friends of mine. They just got here. Can you give Dr. McCoy the details and charts please? It's okay if he sees them." With a weary push she stood, straightened, and allowed her eyes to close in concentration for a few moments. She'd be the professional for her brother.
The duty nurse handed McCoy the readouts and charts on Mike Chapel. His spinal cord had been snapped and he had no feeling from the shoulders down. Massive trauma to the spleen, kidneys, liver, and lungs created a strain on his heart, and it was giving out. There was simply too much damage to be able to fix.
* * *
"Hey, you..." Christine smiled as she caught her brother's eye. "You smell all clean and soapy. Remember when I used to have to make you take a bath?"
Mike closed his eyes a little, that was their signal for yes. "You remember Leonard McCoy? He's here, he stopped by to visit. Would you like to see him?" Again the eyes closed.
She stepped into the hall. "Mike wants to see you."
"He's conscious," Kirk said incredulous.
"Yeah, he doesn't know how bad he is. We've told him he can't move because of the restraints and the medication. I don't want him to spend what little time he has left..." She trailed off.
McCoy hugged her hard. "You stay out here. I'll go talk to him, don't worry, I'll put on my best bedside manner."
She nodded and he stepped into the room. There was only one visitor at a time allowed in so she couldn't be with him. Kirk led her back to the lounges. "You need to sleep. You're not doing him any good wearing yourself out."
"I'm not going to do him any good sleeping, either. I can't do anything for him no matter what I do," she said. The situation was utterly hopeless, and she hated it. "I'm sorry you had to come all the way from Alaska. I didn't realize that when I called you'd come."
"Why?" Spock asked. The simple question held a million answers. Their eyes met again. She shrugged. "I wanted McCoy to know. He's been in my shoes. I'm going to have to make a decision soon and I don't want to do it."
"You mean about his father?" Kirk surmised. Since learning of the way McCoy's father had died by the meld with Sybok, Kirk no longer thought of his friend as a crusty old doctor but a man in infinite pain over a decision that he hadn't wanted to make.
"Yeah, he told me about it a long time ago. I couldn't imagine what was going on in his mind and heart. Now I can," she answered and put her head in her hands. "I'm tired."
There was nothing to do but wait. Waiting was something Kirk was not good at but Spock excelled in. McCoy spent a good ten minutes with him before returning. He sniffed back a tear. "God dammit. Christine, Mike wants you to go home and go to bed."
She laughed, "Yeah, like I'm really gonna go. You know me better than that."
"Sure do, she should have an award named after her ... Miss Bedside Manner," McCoy said, trying to instill some levity as he sat next to her on the seat. It didn't work.
Her bottom lip trembled, "I don't feel like having any awards."
Tears poured down her face, and she openly cried into his shoulder. She was tired of trying to be strong to face her little brother, but she couldn't, wouldn't let him see her cry. Raising up and taking the tissues that Kirk offered blew her nose. "Okay, okay, I'm okay."
She kept the mantra in her head as she reentered the room. "Did he talk your socks off? McCoy was always real windy. He's such a comfort."
Mike's eyes were getting heavy and the drip of sedatives were beginning to take effect. He was kept in a stupor so that he wouldn't struggle against the trach tube or other equipment hooked up to him. It also deadened every sense he had. The blue eyes stayed open, though. Christine nodded, "I know what you're trying to do, mister. Well, it won't work. Wouldn't when you were a kid, won't now. I want you to get some rest."
An almost imperceptible nod toward her made her smile. "Okay, if you go to sleep, I'll promise I'll get some rest."
The blue eyes that matched her own so well appeared wary. She sat down next to him and took the hand that could not grasp hers. She stroked it. "I'll sing you a song. Would that help?"
Eyes closing tiredly, she began. Her voice was not anything to write home about, but she could hold her own in a group setting. "Stars shining bright above you ... night breezes seem to whisper, I love you, birds singing in a sycamore tree. Dream a little dream of me..." That was as far as she could go. Luckily, he had drifted off easily. "Oh, Mikey ... why you, why not me," she whispered. Laying her head on the rail of the bed, she fell into an uneasy slumber.
* * *
Hospital furniture was not comfortable. McCoy stared at the ceiling. "You know, I think I'm gonna design a chair that is actually suitable for sitting in for long periods of time."
The other two looked up from the checkers table. They had set up a chess game while they waited. Through the evening, they had sat waiting. McCoy had looked in long enough to see that Christine was at least resting while she held Mikey's hand. He didn't want to leave her alone here.
In the bleak still air, a shrill beeping made him jump. He knew the meaning of it and without caring about regulations ran into the room. Christine had furiously worked to bring his reading up, but nothing was working and as his heart gave out again, she stopped trying. Life support automatically took over, but he was gone. With all the strength she could still muster, she went over to the bed, took the boy's face in her hands and placed her forehead on his, "Mikey, you know I love you. I love you so much..."
Kirk and Spock stood in the doorway. This was the first they'd seen of the youth. He was so young... Nurses came and just watched the proceedings. They'd already been consulted about this. There would be no life prolonging. She kissed his forehead, brushed the locks of dark brown hair like she had when she'd put him to bed at night after a hard day's play, and turned to the panel beside him. First, the sedatives, then the air pump, then the heart pump. She clicked all the buttons and tried not to hyper-ventilate from the stress. Her brother was dead, the only person left to connect her life with the living. McCoy's head was bowed, and he shook it, "Damn."
Christine turned toward the nurses. "Time of death: 1935. Age: 20 years 8 months and three days."
They noted the data on the chart, murmured words in her ear, began the process of taking him off all the paraphanalia, and readied his body to be taken down to the morgue. No autopsy would be necessary, and at the prognosis he'd received, she'd arranged for his cremation and funeral. She didn't have to be bothered with that now.
McCoy led her out. "Come on, baby."
"I'm sorry," she said. Turning to her brother's body, she repeated, "I'm sorry."
"You couldn't do anything. There is nothing you could have done," McCoy kept whispering to her. She had to know it was not her fault.
"I know. He never would listen to me, always had to do what he wanted. He was so like Leigh. I've lost them all."
"Let's go home," Leonard McCoy said softly.
Her collapse was imminent and expected. Spock easily scooped her into his arms. "Lead the way, Doctor."
* * *
She woke in her own bed. She'd been dressed in nightwear and her head felt funny. She was probably given a sedative to keep her out. It did nothing to lessen the pain of her losses. Beside her was her favorite picture of Mike. He was eight and riding the go-cart he and Uncle Monty Scott helped build out of junk parts. She didn't know what Scotty would do when he found out. He had taken to the boy as if he were his own son.
It was dark, the house was quiet. She assumed that her three old friends had stayed over. She really didn't see McCoy letting her go home unsupervised. She had to go to the bathroom and swerved a little as she got up. The bathroom mirror didn't lie. She looked awful. She was also hungry but had no appetite. Heading out to the hall and down the stairs of the old cottage, she rummaged through the fridge trying to come up with a glass of milk.
The deep Vulcan baritone sounded concerned. She straightened with the bottle of milk. "Spock. Want milk?"
He shook his head. He had heard her get up, he hadn't been asleep. He'd been trying to meditate the night away. He had found the day's events to be greatly unsettling. He was discovering how strong humans were. If he'd been asked to describe her personality before this time, he'd have said efficient, a little flighty, but quite the usual human female. Now, he would say that he had seen a side that rivaled every Vulcan matriarch that he had known. Her emotions that she displayed had been perfectly normal, but the calm and control she had presented had been more than worthy.
"You should be asleep," he noted as she poured a glass.
"Had to pee. But, I am better, more rested. I think my face needs a whole week of beauty rest. I look awful."
"No, you look fine. In fact, considering what you have been through, I would say you looked beautiful."
She smiled at that attempt to make her feel better. "Must be really bad if a Vulcan is trying to cheer me up. I don't mean to say I'm not grateful you're here. I guess I'm a little shocked, that's all."
Spock moved to stand nearer to the kitchen counter. "Why?"
"You're not precisely my close bosom companion. I mean, Leonard, well, I can see why he came. Kirk, he came to be with Leonard. But you..."
She steered out into the living area. It was filled with trophies, plaques, awards, pictures of Mike. He had loved to race and compete. Spock followed her. He really didn't know why he was there. Perhaps it was because McCoy had come as well as Kirk. Perhaps he had tagged along. But, he was there, it must be for some reason.
"God, I can't stand this room. I'm gonna go out to the yard. You can come along if you want. I promise I'll be good," she assured as if he would have objected in the first place.
Spock followed after a moment. She had already gone out toward a summer house that was sitting next to the little pond that came with the property. "Luckily the mosquitos aren't biting or we'd be covered by now," Christine said in the streaming moonlight. She was bathed in an eerie white glow. The moon was full and loomed close in the night. Mentally Spock calculated how far it was to be seen at this vantage at this close a view. He did not voice it, however. It would be inappropriate to mention it.
Spock found he really had nothing to say to her. Turning to take in the house and grounds while the moon illuminated them, he found it strangely peaceful amidst the gloom. Christine made no sound, simply stood looking out at the pond, beyond it, beyond everything that was on Earth. A breeze rustled the leaves, crinkled the dead ones and released those that were ready to be shorn. She watched as they played and flitted along the ground. She'd had enough of death and dying. She wanted to be among the living again, but to do so meant to endure the dying once again.
The swing that hung from the ceiling of the summer house was comfortable, old, tangible. She sat down and curled her legs under her. She seemed to remember that Spock was there with her. "Sit down. I won't bite you."
Spock did as she requested, found the swing soothing in its movement as it swayed back and forth. For a long time they sat, each taking in the night air and letting their thoughts wander. Spock's strayed to a time when he was younger, just after joining Starfleet and sitting on a porch swing at his roommates' parents home on a night such as this. They had spent the evening watching the cars go by, as Greg Blackford had said. It was an exercise in doing nothing while enjoying the passage of time.
"What are you thinking?" Christine asked. Her voice was soft, needy, almost hungry for something else to think about than what was there.
"When I was younger, some forty years younger. We have no porch swings on Vulcan, but I believe they would be a welcome addition. They offer peace, solitude, calming," he replied.
"Yes they do. They have been known to do such miraculous things as cure colicky babies, bring two shy people together, and lull the restless to sleep. They are a comfort in times of pain and pleasure," she answered. She spoke of it as if she'd be in all those situations.
A long drawn out sigh escaped her. There was no rest tonight. It was simply movement to keep her sedated. She wanted to run, to run so fast she could change time and bring her brother back. But, she'd always believed that whatever the circumstances, it was your time to go when it came. There was a purpose to all life, all death, and all accidents of luck or fate. Bowing her head and allowing a hand to run through the chin length curls, she closed her eyes, "I'm tired."
Spock looked over at her in the moonlight. She really didn't even know he was there. "Perhaps you should go back in and lie down."
Her head shook from side to side. "No, no, not that kind of tired."
She hesitated to go on. He was Vulcan, he would think her silly. But, she could pummel him with emotion when he used that blasted logic on her just as McCoy did as a release. The tears poured down her cheeks, and she continued with a strong voice, "I'm a jinx."
At the last statement Spock prompted her, "How so?'
"Everyone I have ever touched has been ripped away from me. I guess I've been such a bad person sometime in my life that I'm not supposed to have anyone."
That statement was enough to make Spock rest a hand on her arm. "You have done nothing to warrant such thinking. You love too deeply."
She met his eyes in the dark, chuckled, "I know no other way. I can't be the dallier, I can't play with people's affections, and I can't shut people out. I envy you."
"You are trained to shut things out. You can exist without others to be there for you. I don't seem to be able to do that. I am weak. You are strong," she answered.
Spock shook his head. "You once told me that you saw the emotions I had hidden. I have found that with my association with humans that it is perhaps I who am the weaker of the two. You are grieving, yet you are able to continue. I do not know if I could in your situation."
"Oh, yes, you would, you'd meditate on it until you found a way to deal with it," she answered a little haughtily.
"But is that more viable than to release the pain. I can only be what I am. You can only be who you are. Do not try to be Vulcan when for you it would do immense damage to your psyche."
She puckered up. "So what good does it do me? The pain gets so bad at times. If I could just control it..."
"It would be harder to deal with and even more painful. I must control my pain or it consumes me and damages my mind."
"So we're opposites."
Spock nodded. They sat again in silence. In the night, Spock could see the lights of a skimmer coming up the road. He wondered who it could be, probably Uhura. Christine sighed, steeled herself for whoever it was and walked out to the drive. Before she got there, Montgomery Scott climbed out. "Scotty..." she ran to him, buried her head in his shoulder.
He was overcome with the act. Spock watched a second before going over to them. He could hear his Scots accent tinged with grief and age, "Och, lass ... the wee bonnie lad."
"I tried to get here as soon as I could." He stroked her hair, giving comfort, and the love that Spock could only wonder at. "Leonard and Jim are inside," she sniffed and stepped away from him. In the night, he could see the all consuming pain in her heart.
"Spock, it is good to see you ... but not here," Scotty said and kept Christine close to him as he addressed his former superior. Spock nodded.
Christine had tried to be strong with everyone else, had shown very little weakness except tears and the moment she apologized to her brother's body. With Scotty, she was the vulnerable, defenseless human. With remorse she cried, "I didn't do a very good job, did I?"
He hugged her hard, so hard he wanted to have her pain melt into his body. He could handle the pain, but not seeing it in others. "Lassie, ye'll no talk that way. You raised the lad to be a healthy strong man. You couldna ask for a better mother."
She shook her head, totally in disagreement. To her, she'd been an utter failure. There was no brother to love anymore. Spock too had a difficult time watching her distress. She was fragile now when before she had been strong. He stepped closer, allowed a hand to take a course of tears that she had flowing down her cheek. Instinctively, she turned to Scotty for comfort. Scotty's eyes met his. "She'll be all right wi' me."
After all these years, Spock felt alone amongst the only friends he had known. Someone he had regarded as foolish for loving him no longer cared to be comforted by him. She preferred another. Now, he wanted to make her want him again. But, she was better off with Scott. He had always treated her as a lady should be treated, with respect, admiration, affection. Spock could take lessons. Perhaps his own disastrous attempts at romantic adventures could be helped by the lessons. Spock turned and walked back to the house alone.
He returned to the house and retreated to the small room he had chosen to meditate in. It was apparently her den. Assuming the traditional position, he had no flame pot to concentrate on, but she did have an odd lamp with hypnotic tendencies. It bubbled and rolled while it provided little illumination. He was drawn into himself. Why did it bother him so that she turned to Scott for comfort and not him? He sought deep into his consciousness and found his mirror half waiting. He had always had two likenesses. One the austere Vulcan, the other the jovial human. His heritage had squelched the human one almost entirely except here in his meditations and at rare times with his companions. Now, he found he would need that human half of him to understand and analyze what was happening. "So, she does not need you."
The Vulcan side looked at himself. "No, apparently she does not."
"You're surprised, but you shouldn't be. She's not dumb, you know."
"I do not understand."
"How long have you hurt her, not intentionally, but she's going on with her life. She isn't going to stay hanging around for you any longer. Secretly, you wanted her to be there, didn't you?" Strange how his human half sounded much like Leonard McCoy at times.
The Vulcan nodded. It was true. He had come, for what purpose, to be the hero to her that he always was. He came not to provide comfort for her but to stroke his own ego. He felt sickened. The human continued, "You have kept her at a distance giving her that idiotic excuse of the inability to love as a stopgap. You can love, you have loved, you do love. You just won't admit it. That's the difference between you and I. I can say to people I love them, rely on them, want them to love me in return. It's not that hard to do. You have to give up that mask you've hidden behind all these years. I've tried to get you to see. It had to be this tragedy that made you finally give in to it. Now, you've lost the one person you wished to always have with you, even at a distance and at a grave disgrace to herself. You've twisted, contorted, and shoved to keep out of her grasp. Now, she will not touch you. You'll have to find someone else, someone who's feelings will not scratch this prison you keep me in. I am the one who will pay for your mistakes."
The Vulcan stared into his own eyes. The void in them was an emptiness almost unfathomable. The loneliness would always be there, it would not matter if he found someone or not, it would always be there.