DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Ster Julie and is copyright (c) 2004 by Ster Julie. Rated G.


Ster Julie


Dr. Christine Chapel couldn't help it. No matter how hard she tried, she wasn't strong enough. The minute she saw the lost look in the eyes of Admiral James T. Kirk as he answered her signal, she burst into tears and launched herself into his arms.

"I'm so sorry for your loss, Admiral," she blubbered. "Spock was a good, good man!"

Kirk responded stiffly. Yes, the doctor had been their colleague, but the admiral needed some professional guidance.

"Dr. Chapel," he began.

"Call me Christine," she interrupted. Kirk pulled away from her.

"No," he stated firmly, keeping her at arm's length. "I don't need sympathy now. I need some professionalism." Chapel wiped her eyes and snapped to.

"Of course, Admiral," she said coolly. Kirk dropped his head, chagrined.

"Call me Jim." Chapel was puzzled.

"If I'm to call you Jim, why can't you call me Christine?" she asked in confusion.

"Because Kirk the Admiral doesn't need counseling," he explained, "but Jim the man does."

"Why me?" Chapel asked. Kirk took her hands.

"I can't talk to Spock," he explained, chin quivering, "and McCoy is ill. I know you loved him, too." They both blinked back tears. "And I trust you."

Chapel blushed in embarrassment over the praise.

"Thank you, Adm Jim," she corrected. He squeezed the doctor's hands.

"Besides, it had to be you," he said. "You have to see what I found." Kirk released her hands and put Spock's treasure box on the counter. Chapel delicately touched the worn carton.

"What's in it?" she queried.

"You'll see," Kirk replied, picking up the box and leading her to the sofa.

"Before the cleaning crew came to pack Spock's effects," Kirk began, "I went and sorted through his belongings. I found this box." He paused, caressing the frayed lid. "You won't believe what's in here," Kirk said through tears as he removed the lid.

Chapel looked at the formal portrait with a sad smile. Spock was so young, so solemn, so cute. Next Kirk held up the shell.

"Dr. Chapel," he said with difficulty, "when I hold each item, it tells me its story." He handed her the shell. "This was from the first time Spock ever saw an ocean. He was two years old." Chapel took the shell and held it to her ear. "What do you hear?" Kirk asked.

"The ocean," she replied. "Why? What do you hear?"

"I hear a baby laughing with delight," he answered. Chapel blinked back tears as she put down the shell.

"Spock once got so mad that he smashed his harp," Kirk said, holding the bit of wood, wire, and feather. "I don't know the particulars. The silvered birds of dawn woke him up and calmed him down." Chapel stirred.

"Seeing the silvered birds is a rare thing," she observed. "It must have been a healing moment for Spock." Kirk didn't respond. He pulled out the ribbon next.

"His mother gave him this when he left home for Starfleet Academy," Kirk explained. "Tore it right off her robe." He next picked up the glass bubble. Chapel stiffened.

"Is that what I think it is in there?" she asked. Kirk nodded.

"An Omicron Ceti III spore lily," Kirk replied. Chapel didn't ever want to remember that day, the day she saw Spock in the arms of Leila Kalomi. Brushing aside angry tears, she pointed to a brown patch of fur.

"Is that an ear?" she asked in distaste.

"Yes," Kirk answered, "from his pet sehlat. This animal saved Spock's life when he was a boy by sacrificing its own." Chapel fastidiously put the ear aside.

"Some children have security blankets," she said. "I guess Spock preferred an ear." Kirk picked up the leaf.

"This is from the singing vines of Talos IV," he stated coolly. Chapel caught Kirk's mood shift.

"What's wrong, Jim?" she asked with concern. Kirk straightened his shoulders.

"I'm not finished," he said as he pulled out the book.

"Hey," Chapel said, "I read that book as a kid." Kirk pushed it to her.

"Open it," he ordered. The tone of his voice shook Chapel, and she was suddenly afraid to obey. "Do it!" Chapel jumped and opened the book. She started to read the inscription, but Kirk turned to another page.

A fragile piece of lace fell out. Chapel recognized it immediately and teared up again.

"Yours?" Kirk demanded. Chapel nodded.

"I was on shore leave, and I was going to get my hair done," she explained. "An old woman asked for a few strands of hair. She had amazing samples of her work all around her. I was game, so she combed through my hair with her fingers, removing just a little. By the time I came out of the beauty parlor, she had produced this bookmark." Chapel caressed the lacy bit and her lip trembled. "I gave it to him on a whim, after Platonius. I never dreamt he would keep it." Kirk covered Chapel's hand with his own.

"Of course he would keep it, Doctor," Kirk responded. "You were special to him." Chapel's head snapped up.

"Special?" she echoed. Kirk nodded.

"Yes, special," he replied. "Whenever he was sick or injured, he came looking for you. If he was unconscious, yours was the first face he'd look for when he came to. He trusted you more than McCoy because he knew you had actually studied on Vulcan. He couldn't relax when you weren't on shift." Chapel started to cry angry tears.

"Don't you dare tell me he loved me," she grated, "not after he's lost to us!" Kirk took her by the shoulders.

"I can't say that because I don't know how he felt," he began.

"Yes, you do," Chapel interrupted. "Spock's feelings are all in this box. This shell showed he took delight in creation. This ribbon showed he was loved by his mother, and he loved her enough to keep it. This book was perfect for the problems of childhood, and we know Spock's childhood was difficult. This wood showed his anger and the feather showed his consolation. This ear showed gratitude for a pet's devotion. This leaf showed his loyalty to Christopher Pike, who was a father figure to a lonely Vulcan youth far from home." Kirk stiffened again. Chapel looked from him to the box and back again.

"There's nothing from me," Kirk whispered, miserable, "not a thing." Chapel looked into the box. There was a nondescript rock that she had cause to remember. She held it out to Kirk.

"This represents you," she stated with conviction.

"Me?" Kirk said. "I don't recognize it." Chapel smiled gently.

"You wouldn't." She placed the rock firmly in his hands. "Your first mission as captain of the Enterprise was to Janus V."

"The horta?" Kirk said. "That mission came later."

"We encountered the horta on our second trip to Janus V," she explained. "Our first trip was to render aid after the cave-in at the mines. You and Spock were pulling miners out left and right. Spock passed the last one to you just as the roof collapsed.

"You were knocked in the head. Spock was pinned under all that rock. You pulled every bit of it off of Spock and carried him to safety." Chapel held up the rock. "I removed this from his boot. It had slipped inside in the cave-in.

"Spock's injuries were easy to patch up," she continued, "but you slipped into a coma. Spock wouldn't leave your side for three days, not that he could go far with three broken ribs and a fractured leg. That's when his loyalty passed from Pike," she held up the leaf, "to James T. Kirk." Chapel squeezed the rock into his hand. "Your friendship grew to be as solid as this rock."

Tears flowed freely down Kirk's cheeks.

"How could I ever have doubted that?" he asked.

"You just didn't remember," Chapel said gently as she placed the other items back into the box. Kirk placed the rock atop the lid and sat back. Wiping his face, he said, "I could use a drink. How about you, Doctor?" Chapel checked her chrono.

"It's too early for drinks," she hinted. "It's barely halfway through Alpha shift, and I go on duty in a few hours." She rose from her seat on the sofa. "Have you seen any of the other senior officers?" Kirk stood and walked her to the door.

"They are coming over tonight for drinks," he said. Chapel nodded.

"Good," she said. "Give them my regards." Chapel's eyes were drawn back to the box. "What are you going to do with it?" she whispered. Kirk lowered his head.

"I don't know," he answered. "I think Amanda would appreciate it, but Sarek might toss it out as so much garbage." He looked up at Chapel. "Do you want your ?"

"My hair?" she thought. "No, keep it in the book. Just the thought that he kept it all these years was enough." She gathered the admiral into her arms. "Thank you for sharing this with me," she said. "Call me anytime."

"Absolutely," Kirk smiled gently. "Thanks for stopping by."

On her way out the door, Chapel pointed to Kirk's bar.

"No drinking alone!" she ordered. "Wait until the guys come over tonight.

"Yes, Doctor," Kirk replied with a mock salute.

(Much later that night, after the mindmeld with Sarek.)

As Kirk moved to leave his apartment with Spock's father, the Vulcan ambassador espied the Vulcan's family portrait. His hand shot out and snared the photo.

"How did you get this?" Sarek demanded. Kirk blinked. He thought everything was back inside the box,. "You have it, do you not?" Sarek asked hopefully. "The box? Spock's box?"

Kirk moved slowly back to the counter and pulled out the worn carton. Sarek lifted the lid and stared inside.

"He added to it, I see," Sarek stated quietly. He touched each item with reverence, his eyes misting. "Thank you for retrieving this, Kirk," he said, replacing the lid and moving as if to take it.

"Wait!" Kirk pleaded. "Could I have one thing from it?" Sarek was incredulous.

"It must be kept intact," he stated firmly. Kirk was confused.

"What is the purpose of this box, Sarek?" he asked. "Why is it so important?" Sarek caressed the frayed carton. He had to collect himself, to pause at length, before he could speak.

"When I gave Spock his first lesson in emotional control," Sarek began softly, "I gave him this box. I told him to place into it anything that represented his emotions." Sarek had to pause and take several deep breaths. "A Vulcan feels, Admiral. Vulcan emotions are very strong. If we do not master them, then they will master us." His hands idly stroked the box. "I told Spock that he could have any emotion, as long as it was kept inside himself, just as these items are kept inside this box." Kirk silently contemplated this.

"Do you know which item is yours?" he asked Sarek gently. The ambassador popped the lid and extracted the polished rock. His fingers rubbed the marred surface before handing it to Kirk.

"When Spock was a year old," he said in a tiny voice, "his mother and I formally presented him to the family. Spock was fussy that day because he was teething. He decided that my jewelry soothed his sore gums." Kirk examined the scratches on the stone.

"Teething marks?" he said in amazement. "Spock teethed on a stone?" Sarek shook his head.

"No, he teethed on my formal jewels," he corrected. "I replaced the stone and gave this one to Spock. Eventually he put it in his box." Sarek met Kirk's gaze levelly. "We weren't always at odds, Admiral."

Remembering his manners, Kirk brought Sarek a glass of water, which he graciously accepted and downed in one gulp. "We should get over to Starfleet Command if we want to go over those ship's logs, Mr. Ambassador," he said gently. Sarek handed back the drained glass, picked up the box and turned toward the door.

On the walk to the transport station, Sarek turned to Kirk.

"Which item is yours, Admiral?" he asked gently.

"It was the gray rock," Kirk answered. "We were trying to evacuate trapped miners when there was another cave-in. I was hit in the head, but Spock was buried under rock. Somehow I was still able to pull Spock out. It was our first real mission together. A rock was later found in his boot," Kirk grew quiet. "Because of the nature of my injuries, I didn't remember the incident, nor did I recognize the rock." Sarek stirred.

"How do you know of these occurrences, then?" he asked.

"Then-Nurse Chapel found the rock and gave it to Spock as a souvenir," he said. "She just told me of this today. She said that Spock, despite his own injuries, kept vigil at my side until I recovered. He considered this the beginning of our friendship."

Sarek was quiet a long time. As they approached the transport center, he asked, "Do you wish to have the rock?" Kirk thought a bit, then shook his head.

"No," he answered. "Just knowing that he saved it means a lot."

They were met at Starfleet Command with the news, "Commander Spock's burial tube has been found intact on Genesis." Sarek turned to Kirk.

"They have found my son's body," he said, "and we have his heart, his treasured box. Let us find who has his katra."

(And the rest, as they say, is history.)