DISCLAIMER: Do not nor will I ever own Star Trek, Paramount, CBS, Pocket Books or Desilu. I do not own the characters either. Which is good since I doubt I could afford to take careof them.

NOTE: Takes place before the beginning of Star Trek: Generations.

My 41 birthday is quickly approaching, 10th of Aug., and I find myself thinking more especially n the middle of the night about many things. Pondering much...life in general as well as larger things as most do when something within our own lives is coming up faster than we realize.

Even legends have those moments I truly believe if it's a world of reality were discussing. Sometimes as with reality and within those of us living in reality, those ponderings seem to be fated words for what would be the immediate future. And as with us and reality, even legends don't realize that fact and the truth of those quiet, tired haunting words.

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People never changed. Their core, no matter ho many layers one tried to conceal it with, always held tightly to their basic morals and emotions. A fundamental truth that most forgot or simply refused to accept. That is til you run face first into the stone wall and were forced to confront it head on.

That wall was now staring Captain James T. Kirk full in the face and he wasn't liking it for a number of reasons. His benefit of the doubt over the years had damaged more than he could grasp if he knew the truth. Perhaps that was the reason he had chosen the career path he had trodden and enjoyed. You were always moving on. Time was short from one area tot eh next. Generally a day or handful of day's at the most. Longer was the ultimate rarity.

Jumping from mission to mission. Taking focus from one crisis and applying it to the next made it easy not to look back at what you'd left behind.

Retrospect however, had an ugly way of plowing through. Clearing a lengthy and wide path from those faded memories straight to that core. It's then you realize everything you've done up to that point was to keep yourself from confronting what was living in your core.

Far from being the first and far from being the last to come to this uncomfortable conclusion. Kirk still disliked the idea hat he had been hiding from himself. Made to peer into that dark room of your own being you found two things bother you more than anything else. What and why.

An amazing amount of pain could be felt from simple words and thoughts. More so when you were the cause of the affliction. It only added to the pain and eager to rebury all of it once again back to its crypt.

Hearing, seeing, touching the malicious, cruel and sinister of others over the decades through out space had been a struggle alone. Rediscovering it within yourself, aware that it hadn't died in it's black pit was more disturbing and soul chilling. Even more when you have to accept that until that moment you finally release yourself to death you carry that demon seed within yourself. Wondering strangely in that last breath if some part of the darkness did linger somewhere along your beaten path, marking some spot or person with it permanently. Helping feed and encourage another black cold core. The apprehension and dread knowing of the damage that maybe left behind was a despondent notion. One that made you pray that it maybe for the best when you crossed that final threshold you dragged that darkness with you to keep it from dusting anyone else before it evaporated. Or worse, managed to absorb itself into another unknowing individual.

Was there anyone out there, at anytime who had managed to crawl though life without touching r knowing of that little pit in them that could damage o many if they did poke at it. Could there be the infinitesimal possibility of one individual who had found their way through the year's without owning a wretched malignant essence. Is there that chance?

'Not likely', he concluded before the words had faded in his head. 'Not likely', he again thought as he sipped at his bourbon. After year's of traveling from one end of the universe to the other, stumbling into places where no one had been before more times than he cared to recall, he ad never met such a creature.

If such an individual had emerged within the last two millennium, it's existence would be brief if al all.

Exasperation and anger did flare up in all of this as he continued to humor himself by attempting this psychological pondering. As he did so he realized the cutting emotions were for himself after admitting of his own ugly filled cavern. The vulgarity of his own ego rearing up only cemented the existence of his cruel core.

What disturbed him as well as causing a shot of dismay in this veins, was not finding the expected regret or sympathy. Doubly so when he found the lack was not only pointed toward himself but toward the rest of the universe population. A fact that easily explained why it had never died over the centuries.

A necessary evil. A set of words spawned from the first collection of soul's that had recognized it. The basis of an age old argument of peace and evil was the godchild of those.

Peace. Another word that sounded simple when spoken or thought. Once laid out before you however, it's even easier to decipher that the words was simple to pronounce but far from being so once it was put into some form of action.

When considered one had to find it hard to really believe it was a practical idea let alone possibility. Curiosity wasn't the property of feline's and for the sake of argument, wasn't classified as a sin of an caliber.

There would be someone who would finally begin to ask questions to those around him. Temptation in another form.

Was this really all there was to expect? Nothing more to expect or want in life? No, there would be one who would begin to push.

Peace was a grand scheme. With the flourished words and right tone it could be believed to be a feasible idea. The drawback was also as simple to hear albeit one that most shrank away from.

Enjoying and relishing peace meant nothing when you had no clue as to what it truly meant when you know nothing else.

It ran along the same principal of those who clawed their way out of their personal hell and discovered God. Only the broken and shattered would understand redemption and forgiveness.

Appreciation and hope were dying art forms. Ones that were too far gone to possibility be brought back. If they were still alive they were disguised well. Somehow he couldn't help but believe if they weren't disguised ran around naked under all their noses, no one would recognize it.

A bitter smile slipped on to Kirk's face as he sipped from his glass once more, while sinking a little farther into his chair.

In his younger days he barely thought of retirement and when he had he never would have seen himself sitting alone in his empty apartment, half tanked and contemplating life, the universe and that the more things changed the more they remained the same.

Nothing had made an effort to change through his career. Just as nothing had before that. Just as it wouldn't after he was gone.

Why bother allowing oneself to dive into deep contemplation over the old theories and idea's. Philosopher's had spoken and written volumes on these subjects for eon's for what gain. The same problems and issues existed only on the grander scale of now involving the universe. Sitting back and ruminating over such things was a benign exercise. However, it was easy to grasp that choosing to focus on the larger picture and troubles kept one from looking inward at your own scars.

Life was not funny as so many had said. With the heavy luggage everyone gathered as they made their way from birth to death the idea of looking back and referring to it as fun was ridiculous as well as gullible.

What life was, was a race. A race to the finish line of death to keep ahead of and eventually beat all that you were afraid of within yourself. Trying to keep it from clutching you completely that it was the final strands of thought tangling your mind. It would no only be your final act but would be carried over with you into eternity. So you run. Run as hard and as fast as you can. Before you realize it you broke through the finish line and wondered where the hell your time went.

You struggled with inner demons as everything around you forced itself to change only to remain as it was expanding on itself continually growing while you chased your own tail and running away from the ghosts you created until the first handful of dirt rained on your coffin lid.

What the hell was the point to all of this then? Why had any of them been created? God creates a creature in his image to do what? Go forth and multiple. From that point on what was expected by them? In all of this you would be given a place in heaven or paradise. Or the chance of a front row seat in Hell's theatre. A promise or a threat, to keep tucked in the corner of your mind to forget about until those last days when you panic. If you were unlucky enough to remain conscious at that time.

A long suffering painful trip of beating around the bush. A trip that seem unnecessary and cruel from a being that loved his children. Children that carried the souls he made then gave to them for the long exhausting ride.

An artist knew their work better than they knew themselves. Why it came out the way it did. Knowing the soul before letting it emerge into the world. Knowing the soul before you let it emerge into the world, why it wouldn't one choose then to send the individual to its appointed reward. Judged by that , there was no reason for the years one had to put in for the same reward.

He had heard more than once in his life that God had a sense of humor. Which some would say explained the creation of man to begin with. Amusement in their creation. Sarcastic wit was his goal and gravy once he let his children go on their way. Allowed to think about it a soul on the edge the word cruelty leaps to mind. Followed by the resounding snap of blasphemy from some obscure canyon in the back of ones mind.

Doubt was also a part of the higher powers gift's and far from one of the original sin's. A sibling to curiosity, that took less palatable path. The trip along that route as it descended into a heavily shadowed woods, wasn't the one intended though.

A peculiar cynical curve pulled at the corner of his lips as the hazel eyes followed the lights of a small shuttle as it prepared to land at Headquarters.

The moment that first hesitation with the uncertainty washing over it, must have been interesting for the guilty party. Not as interesting as it would've been for the creator. Bafflement and anger would also appear. Setting up a reaction that would have been something to view.

Disappointment no doubt lingered in that exalted space as well when one looked upon the eon and the trail of destruction and suffering that could be traced back to the apple tree. A strong indication that a manual should've been handed out before he shut the garden gate permanently. Doubtful it would have done much good but it would have been a sign of good faith.

Then again if the creator had wanted to take care of and do right his children, open temptation never would have been planted in the acre of paradise.

There had to be a reason for such an intentional act from a higher being who never committed itself without purpose.

It was an insane speculation even made in amusement. Allowing temptation as well as it's many siblings in the deadly sin's category to infest the universe. Was there that slim chance it was part of the scheme?

Looking into the future was it realized that peace was the not reasonable or realistic for his children. With nothing left to be preoccupied with or by routine the norm until boredom wrapped in dull banality began to wear too heavy. Slowly but steadily population drops until there was no one left for observation and play.

Handing them the wild array of feelings, hurt, anger, pain, need, want, war,….it was a twisted slick and shrouded design. A design that was meant to keep the race going forward.

A smile again found its way on to his face, the ruefulness even more emphasized before he took another sip from his glass.

The more one gave it thought, the more one could see the tragic comedy in this play. A force to enjoy by the one who brought it all together. To the player's it was a life and death struggled with nothing but hope, pain and question's that will never be answered.

Then again, what answer's that would be given were ones they wouldn't want to hear, he concluded sourly checking his wrist chronometer. With two thousand year's without answers, someone believed that at this point and time they couldn't handle the answer's yet. Besides it was too amusing to sit back and watch them second guess everything. Much like he was doing tonight out of boredom and depression instead of sleeping.

After tomorrow he would have plenty of time to ponder the many mysteries of all things great and small.

It wasn't the most constructive way to spend your days but when you're literally point blank told your time was done you found yourself dealing with abandonment and lost issues.

Finding that you finally have come to the end leaves you with little option's to preoccupy yourself with. Wallowing in regret and self-pity fit now.

Draining the rest of the bourbon, Kirk rose from his chair and stared grimly out the window.

Tomorrow would be the last time he would step on to the 'Enterprise'. She wasn't his 'Enterprise'. He could never look or feel the same as he did for the original. For his girl. For the one he had been forced to destroy.

Somehow he knew that in the end there was no other choice. When her time came he was the one, the only one to be forced to do the painful act. It was a decision that felt mutual for both of them. Even now when he let his mind relive that moment of anguish as he watched her streak across the sky, he could sense her telling him again it was all right and that she knew the reasoning that he struggled with in that final decision he had made on her part. No one else would be aware of it or believe it if he had mentioned it out loud. He knew and that was the comfort. Comfort for both of them.

When he stood on the bridge of the 'Enterprise' tomorrow he would have only his own disparaging soul to wrestle with. A fake smile and repugnance that he used as the energy to tolerate the publicity chaos that would be going on around him. A repugnance that he would camouflage as humble appreciation that would be tossed into a corner the moment he was stepped off the pale copy of his girl.

If he had been given his choice he would have loudly and blatantly declined which he did more than once, before packing his bags to leave the entire sector. Chagrin and resentment also had equal bitterness to them. Loyalty also shared the same space as guilt he had discovered. The malice of blind loyalty had been ebbing into him for the last handful of year's and it now laid at his threshold unapologetic.

He needed this, they had said. Right, he sourly cajoled himself gazing back into his empty glass. He didn't need this. They needed this. The frustration and humiliation would be his to carry not theirs.

It was odd and made a body tired when you came to the end, laid out all you had given and done, then looked at what was given in return only to be angrily disappointed.

In a less than twenty minutes meeting he realized very quickly that for them he had come around full circle in use.

Those words were not applied but the ones that had were blunt and quite clear as they echoed in counsel chambers. From that moment he had no clue what had gone on around him until only a few minutes ago.

He had found himself already sliding into the slot he had laughed about in his younger years. The philosopher on the steps of the ancient history wing telling the masses that moved y him not hearing a word of pitfalls and meanings of life. A life that he barely had a grasp of.

Jumping into starfleet as young as he had been the idea of living long enough to be pushed into retirement had never crossed his mind.

Among the stars he desired, loved and cared for in the middle of a mission or battle was what he had envisioned. His molecules merging with grand adventure for eternity was what he had expected. What he wanted.

Youth and overzealous had seen nothing wrong with a death in the middle of a crisis. Watching from the other side the glorification legend status that would be built up around his name.

Instead he outlived his worthiness. Or it seemed.

People never changed though. Bottom line, their core remained the same. Digging long and hard enough he would find his again.

Life was meant to be complicated and ugly that's why he embraced it. He wasn't a man to sit around contemplating shoulda, woulda, coulda and why. No that wasn't him.

And now he realized that this was the intention. To make himself look at himself. Remember what and who he was then give himself a swift kick in the ass for letting himself forget it.

He had come to believe he had needed something back for the last few years. Himself. In all of his meditation, psychoanalyzing and thinking drinking, he had always been in the possession of it. Right within his own skin. The need to brood then rattle himself to wake up and resurrect his own core had made it's strike.

Core's never changed. Never. And he was going to make damn sure that he didn't forget again. Nor would anyone else. James T. Kirk may no longer be needed by starfleet but he was far from walking away into obscurity. He had regained it and wasn't going to slip away.

It was his. It was his decision when to let it go. And he wasn't ready. Not by a long shot.

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