A/N: This is my muddled attempt at a tribute to Anton Yelchin. I can't put my thoughts into words with any sort of meaning, so I won't. We are all in tears. And I like to think the characters of our beloved Star Trek universe cry with us at times like these.
Everyone reacts to tragedy in different ways. Leonard McCoy usually reacted with a quick dose of colorful sarcasm followed by a nose-to-the-grindstone sort of work ethic meant to bury anything else he might have been feeling. It worked for him. Other people liked to contemplate, talk out their feelings. Most of the time, Leonard would have been the first to snap at the weeping to "get over it."
Not today. Today was different, and he didn't know why.
Maybe because it should have been a day just like any other, but it wasn't. In so many ways, it wasn't.
Leonard sat on the bench next to the young Russian and surveyed the destruction. Leonard's silence obviously perturbed him, as it might have put anyone who knew him on edge. After a minute, he settled back into a slouch as he stared at their devastated city.
"I feel like… I lost a piece of myself."
Leonard glanced toward Pavel with an arched eyebrow. "That's normal." You're a doctor not a psychologist. Besides, what did any of them know about normal anymore? "I think." He cleared his throat and reached into his jacket for his flask.
This stuff worked just as well as his nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic.
Pavel shook his head. "I don't know." He leaned forward, resting his head in his hands. He blinked at the rubble, but tears came anyway. Leonard offered him the flask in response, and he took it. "Classes were in session." He sighed and took a drink. "They will never fly a starship. They will never explore strange, new worlds. They will never be captains."
Leonard nodded, frowning. "Damnit, kid."
It wasn't his fault, of course, but Pavel apologized, anyway. "Sorry," he said in his funny, clipped Russian accent, and handed the flask back.
Leonard waved that away and tried to focus beyond his blurry vision. Pavel had hit on the thing that disturbed him the most. He'd lived, yes, not a bad life. Pretty damn good, if he was honest about it. It wasn't right that some bright, shining future be snatched away before the dazzled eyes of people so young.
Kids. Just kids. Like Chekov.
He'd lived long enough to know that life wasn't fair. And it wasn't fair that kids, kids like Chekov, had to endure that difficult truth so soon. And there was no way around it. Leonard's flask wasn't big enough for this sobering truth. They'd never fly a starship. They'd never explore. They'd never be captains.
And Leonard never thought that would hurt so much.
Pavel leaned back on the bench and pursed his lips. "They tell me not to be sad they're gone. But to be happy they lived. But…" He gestured weakly at the broken buildings, perhaps about to continue. He didn't. He sobbed instead.
Leonard took a deep breath and slowly, awkwardly, patted the boy's shoulder. That was a load of crap if Leonard ever heard one, but he had the decorum to not say that right now. "But it's still sad," he finished for him. Worse than sad, but he was not a thesaurus. He was just a doctor. And this couldn't be healed.
It would take time, but that was mostly a lie, too. It would never go away, not really. The lost futures and the bittersweet pasts would be with them forever. But maybe that was okay, because, even if in no other way, they'd be with them.
Maybe not. Tragedy was different for everyone. "I think," Leonard finally sighed, "we all lost a piece of ourselves."