This is ultimately the fifth in the Conversation series.
The title for this come from a line in an old Waylon Jennings song, that has been running through my head for months, beggin' for some type of story to go with it. So here it is, and I hope ya like it.
And nope, don't have any claim to Star Trek or Paramount, they still refuse to see me or my Mother. And how can you refuse some sweet old lady, I ask ya?
SOMETHING ABOUT WINNING THAT DOESN'T LAST FOREVER
The morning sun finally broke through the gray clouds that had been hanging overhead for the last week, when Doctor Leonard 'Bones' McCoy slowly made the walk along the incline, blinking at the stray ray of sunlight that cut across his face. Raising a hand to shield his blue eyes, he paused to refocus his gaze before going on when he spotted a figure ahead of him already at the crest of the small hill.
Taking another step, he hesitated again letting his eyes linger for a moment on the figure that had bent down and was in the motion of swiping at something at his feet. Part of him said to turn around and leave before he was spotted feeling awkward and truthfully, slightly foolish. While on the other hand, there was a need to be here for himself and for Jim.
Even with the sudden sun the morning air was still cool and the Doctor shoved his hands into his jacket pockets as he started on again. Reaching the top of the knoll, he cast a glance up at the enormous blue spruce that had been planted a few yards away from the small plot of land he had come to visit. Sucking in a somber damp breath of air, he shifted his gaze over to the younger man who had straightened up from his task to greet McCoy.
"Doctor, I wasn't sure you would come, but I'm glad you did." Smiling faintly, he wiped the wet grass blades from his hand on the back of his jeans before offering it to McCoy.
Returning the smile with a weak attempt of his own, McCoy met the navy blue eyes of Peter Kirk. "I wasn't sure I was gonna make it out here before you had to leave again."
"I still have a few days before heading out for the new colony. Besides, if I hadn't been here I seriously don't think he would've minded if you had come out here on your own." Replied the younger man as the two solemnly shook hands for a few moments, the dark eyes reflecting his gratitude that McCoy had come.
An eyebrow twitched along the Doctor's forehead, as he slipped his hand back into his jacket pocket, becoming aware of that uneasy tingling sensation running up and down his spine at the last comment made by Peter.
He had come to a hair's breadth of balking at this whole idea when Peter had contacted him a few days after his arrival on earth after receiving the 'official' message of sympathy from Star Fleet on the death of his Uncle. Within the same breath however, he knew he couldn't turn the man down even if it meant dealing with his own internal irrationality for the rest of his life. By the hopeful tone of the younger Kirk's voice, he knew that his presence would mean a great deal to him if he did come out if just for a few minutes.
Although he couldn't blame Peter for wanting some kind of a place and time for a memorial, since he wasn't able to get back to earth in time for the one that had been scheduled and put together by Star Fleet. They had all needed that closure, no matter where or when it came from, once they had received word of Jim's death aboard the 'Enterprise-B'. In some ways he was looking for that closure yet, unable to really feel or believe that Jim was dead. He had dreams of his friend during those first nights after he had received the news of the accident. Waking up bolt upright in bed drenched in cold sweat, he would sit for over an hour in the darkness convincing himself once again that Jim was really dead. Somehow, as he would force himself back into a fitful sleep, McCoy couldn't shake the feeling that Jim was, in a sense, out there yet.
He had kept the rumination to himself, not mentioning it even to Spock when they left the chapel at Star Fleet Headquarters in San Francisco. The whole neat, clean way it had ended for Jim, wasn't what any of them had expected for him as the last adventure of his life.
The short christening tour of the 'Enterprise-B' had had been a disaster in the making, even before the ship had left the docking bay. No tractor beam, no photon torpedo's and worse, no medical staff what so ever. Not that it would've helped Jim in the end. He had never had a chance when death did come for him. Perhaps that was the only way death could finally beat Jim. Either way, it had ended a long glorious winning streak for James Tiberius Kirk.
A winning streak that saved him, his ship, crew and the universe more times than any dare to count, or for that matter could possibly begin to count. There had only been two blemishes to his nearly perfect record. Losing Spock had been one of the most crushing moments in Jim's life, as it would with anyone who had to stand by hopelessly watching one of their closest and truest friends die. In the end he had Spock back with him after venturing back to Genesis, but he hadn't truly won that match. He was forced to make an exchange, the life of one of his best friends for that of his only son.
Afterwards, he publicly refrained from looking back at that one grievous stigma in his life. While personally, it had eaten him for nearly ten years before having to deal with it in the open after Chancellor Gorkon's assassination. It had been a loss in his life as well as his career that would haunt him forever, no matter what had happened on Khitomer. But one that he kept internal from then on, never mentioning it again to only the few who were truly close to him.
Something told the Doctor that Peter, along with himself and Spock had also been one of Jim's witnesses to his repentance. Especially in the last years, when the two had reestablished a family connection when Peter abruptly appeared on Vulcan in the midst of Spock's fal-tor-pan, and reeducation, while the crew sweated out the idea of the upcoming court martial trial. In time, Jim had even spent a few of his shoreleaves with his nephew, as well as the younger Kirk venturing aboard the 'Enterprise' for a 'free' trip to one side of the universe or the other. They had developed a relationship that was as close to an actual father and son attachment as either had ever had in their lives. So, McCoy was far from surprised when he had heard from Peter Kirk the night before, but had been taken back slightly when he asked him to come out to Riverside, Iowa.
Peter had taken up temporary residence at his Uncle's apartment to start going through everything, dividing the belongings up between things to be put in storage and others that he knew a few people close to the Captain would appreciate. In the process he had come across several things that had belonged to his father George Samuel, as well as a few that had been his grandparents and great grandparents. That had been a sign in the man's opinion and he had set to work on a final act of bringing some closure for himself and in a fashion bringing the family together in the end.
Staring down at the blue marble gravestone that matched those nestled to the right of it, McCoy's mouth quirked in a slightly uneasy manner. "It's odd standing here mourning a man over his empty grave."
Peter gazed at the Doctor for second before looking down at the marble marker than he had just wiped clean. "Well Doctor, it's not exactly empty."
McCoy's eyes widen a fraction when he jerked his gaze back to Peter's face. "Do I want to know exactly what that means?"
The corner of Peter's mouth tugged upwards in a small smile that was quite familiar to the Doctor. "While I was still going through the Uncle Jim's things I had a small strongbox constructed to be placed here. His favorite book, a pair of shattered eyeglasses, a bottle of Romulan ale, a picture of David, a captain's insignia pin and a few other items' are resting in his stead. He would've like the notion that a drink and a good book were still here waiting for him when he got back. Moreover, part of him is here then atleast, with Dad. In the end the needed to be together."
Remaining quiet McCoy gazed down at the stone again, trying to read the inscription that had been meticulously cut into the marble through eyes that were blurring from the tears that he had thought used up over his friends death. With a minor struggle, he blinked them back and coughed slightly to clear his throat, trying to regain his thoughtful perspective.
"Yea, Jim would've wanted that drink when he got back from that trip." McCoy managed between coughs and let his smile come through again.
The two men fell silent again as they both thought about that last trip that James Kirk had taken, until Peter glanced over at the Doctor again.
"You don't mind if I asked what you're thinking?" He asked, sensing that McCoy was in the middle of a thick amount of emotions again.
"Oh, just that even the best men and winning streaks all have to come an end at some point in this universe. That and the fact that Jim Kirk won't be roaming the galaxies forever like we all thought he would. The devil finally beat him in the end." Sighing in both weariness and sorrow, McCoy's smile dimmed again.
Staring back at the stone, that was marked simple with dates, rank and name, Peter cocked an eyebrow in contemplation then shot a look heavenward at the dark clouds that were still breaking up, letting his smile grow several degrees.
"I don't know, Doctor." He mused shooting a look over at McCoy again, a glint appearing in the deep blue gaze that had the attributes of his Uncles spirit. "I can't help but think that streak is unbroken yet. In truth, Uncle Jim is where he always wanted to be all his life. Running through the stars. In that sense, he finally won that eternal battle over the devil. He might be the only man who ever has."
Absorbing that, McCoy slowly nodded the corners of his mouth twitching again. "Wouldn't expect anything less from a man like Jim Kirk."