Apr – May 1991
Remember, remember, remember,….the word echoed throughout his mind, meaning yet unmeaning. Spock? Spock was gone. Unconsciousness weighed him down, but he fought, he had to get to Spock. Spock? Only echoes answered. He tore the sheets of blackness from his mind and light flooded into his eyes.
Red and white light. He was in the engine room, red alert lights flashing and someone screaming. He also found he was leaning against a bulkhead, his head and shoulder ached. Shoulder? Spock! Oh, no, damn you, Spock! He shoved himself to his feet. He knew where Spock was, he just didn't want to believe it, for the screaming was intelligible words.
"Spock, don't! Don't!" Scotty.
Leonard McCoy joined Montgomery Scott at the clearsteel shield, pounding the impervious material, in hopeless pleading.
"Spock, get out of there! Please, Spock, no!"
But it was too late. The staggering figure in the reactor was completing his task, slicks of green staining the reactor casing. McCoy heard the great engines around him power up as the reactor breathed life back into them. Life. Oh, damn you, damn you, Spock.
The ship shuddered as she was swept into warp drive abruptly and Spock slipped and slid down the back wall of the reactor room. McCoy moved, making for the door release in the clearsteel panel, but was suddenly grabbed from behind.
"Have to get him out, the radiation…"
"You'll contaminate the whole engine room."
"But…" But he knew Scotty was right. Damn you, Spock. McCoy's muscles trembled in their helplessness as Scott let him go. He stood, staring through the solid emptiness.
A voice sounded over the intercom.
"Well done, Scotty!" Jim, oh, dear god, Jim!
He groped for the intercom.
"Jim!" His voice was harsh and intense with the news he could not carry. "I think you better get down here."
The silence at the other end of the intercom told McCoy that Jim already partially knew. The channel closed.
McCoy turned back to the transparent screen looking away from the horror and the pain on the chief engineer's face, to the huddled form on the other side of the reactor room.
He suddenly saw the ghost of a quirking eyebrow on a smooth youthfully mature face. It said, "Really, Doctor, you must learn to govern your passions, they will be your undoing." Oh, Spock, look who's talking.
Scuffling feet drew him back to reality, he spun on his heels. Admiral James T. Kirk stood bracing himself on a console, upmost shock, denial and disbelief on his face. McCoy read the look and prepared himself for what he knew was coming.
Jim Kirk shoved between McCoy and Scott, reaching for the hatch control. The Doctor and Engineer grabbed him just as a crewman flung himself in the Admiral's path.
"No, you'll flood the whole compartment!" McCoy managed to shout out between struggles.
"Sir! He's dead already!" With Scotty's declaration of the inevitable fact, Jim flung a tortured look in McCoy's direction.
"It's too late."
The body in McCoy's grasp went limp, almost collapsing, but taking it's own weight at the last moment. McCoy let the arm go, know that Jim would not do anything, not now, not in the last, precious minutes of his dearest friend's life. Jim stumbled to the panel, to the intercom and called out Spock's name. The tortured Vulcan staggered to his feet and stumbled blindly towards his friend's voice, meeting the panel abruptly without the forewarning of sight.
Leonard McCoy watched as Spock said his last words to his Captain.
"I have been and always shall be….your friend."
His hand came up in the salute his heritage demanded and as Jim Kirk reached to mimic it, McCoy found his hand struggling to return it also. Didn't know you could do it, said the black humour at the back of his mind.
"Live long….and prosper." And Spock gave himself to the pain, sliding down the panel, leaving trails of green as the Vulcan salute joined him, collapsing to the floor of the reactor room.
McCoy watched as Jim followed the collapsing form in his own form of collapse and through his own shock and denial he heard the Admiral emit one word.
McCoy did not know for how long he stood there. It may have been five minutes, ten minutes, but it seemed like years. The whole section of the engine room was still except for the throb of the recently rejuvenated warp engines. Shock, denial and disbelief hung in the air like potent paralysers stunning everybody into immobilization. Spock was dead.
The silence was broken by a trainee engineer.
"Mr Scott, we need your help over here, sir." Pause. "Mr Scott?"
Scott and McCoy simultaneously snapped out of it.
"Er….yes, Mr Dimitri. I'll be there directly."
McCoy seeing Kirk's still stunned and totally disbelieving face staring at nothing, grabbed Scotty on his way out.
"Scotty, I want all the corridors and lifts cleared between here and Jim's quarters."
Scott glanced at the Admiral, still crouched next to Spock, he nodded.
"Yes, Doctor." He rounded up the repair crews and left McCoy and Kirk alone.
"Jim?" No response. "Jim?" McCoy touched Kirk's shoulder.
Jim seemed to shake himself. "Uh…Bones?"
McCoy helped his friend to his feet, watching for the inevitable reaction when realization set in.
"Are you okay, Jim?"
Kirk lifted his hand to his head and shook it as if to shake something off.
"I don't know, Bones, I really don't know….I'm so empty."
It was then Jim happened to glance in the direction of the reactor.
"My god, Spock! Bones, Spock is hurt." He dashed to the panel, reaching again for the hatch control. McCoy realizing Jim's mind had, in total shock, blocked the truth, flung himself between Kirk and the hatch.
"Bones, are you out of your mind? We must help Spock, he could be dying."
"Jim, he's already dead."
"No, he can't be, not Spock."
"He's dead, Jim."
"No……..NO!" Kirk flung himself at the panel where Spock lay. "Spock!" He bashed his fists on the barrier. "Spock! Spock!"
Through the vibrations in the panel caused by Jim's pounding, Spock's body slipped and slumped over. Jim's eyes widened as realization finally set in. His screaming was reduced to a tear filled voice. "Spock?"
When the slumped over body failed to respond, Jim Kirk dissolved into pain-filled tears, collapsing once again in parody to Spock.
Leonard McCoy, whose eyes and cheeks were far from dry, knelt by his friend, clasping his shoulders in wordless embrace. They both needed it.
McCoy managed to guide the devastated Kirk to his quarters, hushing his resistant accusations, questions and regrets until they were hidden from prying eyes. Once the door was closed behind them, Kirk spun on his heels to face McCoy.
"Why?! Why, Bones, why?!" The tortured eyes were holding more pain than McCoy could deflect, red-rimmed and soaked with tears. "I should've….I could've…."
"It should be me in there…I…could've done it…and…and…S-Spock…would…"
"It's my fault! If I hadn't l-let Khan go…f-fifteen years ago…oh, god."
"JIM!" Kirk started at McCoy's outburst. "I won't have this. I won't have you taking the blame for this. It can't be changed, what happened."
"But, Bones, it's…"
"Jim, it was Spock's choice. He did it for you, for all of us. He wanted it that way, he let his death have some meaning. His loss…to him,…was worth it." McCoy again was on the verge of tears. Kirk, looking up, noticed it.
"Oh, god, Bones, I'm sorry." He put his hand on the Doctor's shoulder.
McCoy, not trusting himself to speak, placed his hand on his friend's arm and gently turned towards his bed. Making an effort he said, "D-Don't you worry 'bout me, just go get some sleep." At Kirk's worried look he added, "Doctor's orders."
Jim lay down on his bed. McCoy produced a hypo and pressed it to his friend's arm. The Admiral looked up at him.
"Thanks, Bones." He whispered, as he drifted off to sleep.
The lack of Kirk's consciousness left McCoy alone in the room, with his own grief. Hardly holding back the tears, he looked at the hypo in his hand.
"Damn you, Spock." He sat down in a chair next to Kirk's bed. "Oh, what the hell." He broke his own rule and pressed the hypo to his own arm. "Thanks, Spock." He drifted into oblivion.
Dr Leonard H. McCoy stood at attention and everything ached. That's what you get for sleeping in a chair he told himself. He hadn't slept well despite the sedative. His dreams bore mixed images of Spock and his life, images, some of which he swore he had never seen. For example, that pouncing le-matya and the dying Ee-chiya – who the hell was Ee-chiya? He had spent part of the night internally grieving over a sabre-toothed teddy bear he had never met – or had he? He felt confused. Spock's death cut him deeply and yet while his heart told him he was dead, his head refused to acknowledge. Then again, Spock always managed to ruffle me up no matter what I did anyway, no reason for him to stop just because he is dead. McCoy examined that thought and shook his head. I always knew you would send me batty one day, Spock.
"We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honoured dead."
McCoy snapped back to reality at the sound of Kirk's voice. The Admiral had regained his composure this morning and now walked the thin line between collapsing in grief and control. So far he had not wandered from his path, but McCoy knew how thin that line was.
"…this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world, a world our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not see his sacrifice a vain or empty one…"
McCoy's eyes drifted to the flag-draped photontube and grief welled up in him again.
"Of my friend, I can only say this…of all the souls I have encountered…in my travels…his was the most…" Kirk's eyes glistened and his mouth trembled. "…Human."
It was too much for Leonard McCoy and the tears spilled over and ran down his cheeks. He gave no care to the people around him as Scotty's bagpipe dirge accompanied the coffin out the torpedo hatch. Doctor, this is most illogical. Shut up, Spock. The torpedo hatch slid shut and the ship trembled as the coffin was shot into space, to its disintegration around the newborn planet. The grief-torn doctor whispered through his tears.