Title: Without Fanfare
Fandom: Star Trek AOS
Summary: Fic in which relationships fall apart.
This is what happens when you complete a slew of WIPS at once and then realize you have a blank document with a blinking cursor and no more must's or have-to's. I'd disown my brain if I weren't so attached to it. :D
So, here we are.
A man often wonders what that means. Is he at this place for a particular reason? Should he be somewhere else? What comes next?
With a lazy motion, a young man leans against old, rotting railing and stares out onto a lake. He muses on these questions, one after the other, until the sun has disappeared below the skyline, leaving behind trails of deep purple on the cusp of night.
Someone's boots scrape against gravel, an ungentle noise in the dark. Another man, whose face is hollowed in the poor light, steps onto the dock. Two sets of white-plumed breath mingle as that person comes to rest beside him with a back to the railing and arms crossed.
They both shiver, almost simultaneously. The cold air is not the cause.
"He's sorry, you know," states the newcomer.
There are few appropriate answers to that—none which will turn aside hard feelings or smooth jagged edges. Instead, silence can be the only response.
The two men stand as such: one facing water now reflected in odd splotches of moonlight; the other staring opposite at a lingering memory that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
Words are spoken softly, framed with regret. "Don't stay out here too long, kid."
We'll wait for you remains unsaid.
The man leaves then, knowing that something has broken that might be beyond repair.
Once the night is deep with shadows, the young man zips his jacket up to his chin and decides that now is the time to move. Careful steps—careful, planned and heavy steps—lead him past the small solitary cabin (what once was a retreat and is now a prison), down a lonely lane and into the dark. He never looks back.
They met again—this young man that walked away, this other one who could not reach him, and lastly he who seems at the heart of the break between them all; their names, respectively, are Jim, Leonard, and Spock. The place is the starship Enterprise, where they must come together, must work in tandem despite a breach of relationship.
When they greet one another, Jim uses formal titles and cool sentiment. Leonard may say once, despairingly, "Jim" but it will drop like a stone at Captain Kirk's feet, who casually steps over it as if the familiarity does not exist.
Minutes turn into hours, hours into days, days into weeks; bonds unravel, nights spent alone, and almost unbearably, love is replaced with something too painful and cold.
Jim goes on to meet a woman named Carol Marcus. It won't last, this brief fling with Carol, but of it will come a child that Kirk, on a whim, asks his ex-girlfriend to name David.
(Bones had once said, "If Joce had had a boy, he woulda been named after my old man. David—it's a good name, don't you think, Jim?")
David is six when his father dies on a routine escort of some Federation socialite with a pretty face and a string of jealous lovers. Jim takes a phaser blast to the chest not meant for him and, sadly, had the spectators around him included a doctor with common sense, the Captain would not have died on a marble floor surrounded by unfamiliar faces. But lives are often built on regret.
The missing doctor doesn't finish out the first five year mission aboard the Enterprise. He has his fill of death and disaster and too few sources of comfort. One of McCoy's colleagues from 'Fleet Medical sends out a notification of an administrative opening dirt-side, and Leonard doesn't think twice about applying—or later, as he sends a transfer request to his captain. The request is approved almost instantly, and Leonard McCoy catches a ride home to Earth.
He is working over a desk littered with research, not bothering to complain about the 15%-patient care and 85%-paperwork aspects of his job, when a fresh-faced man raps on his open office door.
"Hey, McCoy, you were on Kirk's Enterprise for a while, right?"
He glances up, startled, and swallows against the sudden tightness of his throat. "Yeah. For a time" is the slow, if quiet, answer. Head down again, Leonard does not dare show the memories in his eyes to another soul.
Someone is talking loudly further along the hallway, and the man says in haste, "Damn, the Surgeon General's on the prowl today. Need to return to my office." Then, "I just thought you'd like to know… the Enterprise is heading out for another five-year mission—so if you've got anyone you want to tell goodbye—"
No one, thinks McCoy.
The man talks even as his eyes continue to dart into the hallway for the mysterious Surgeon General. "Can you believe it? I swear they just docked and 'Fleet was parading them all into the Academy with trumpets. But hey, if Captain Kirk is antsy for the stars, who is going to gainsay a man like him? Ah Hell. He's coming this way. See you later, McCoy. Try to make it home before the night staff, won't you?"
Leonard doesn't, of course. There is nothing waiting for him in his small apartment but a bottle of bourbon and several boxes of memories he plans to never unpack.
Some weeks later on a Sunday, he decides to get drunk instead of going to work. Once it is feasible to argue (with himself) that he isn't in his right mind, Leonard pulls up the profile for Commander Spock.
It takes one line to sober the man.
McCoy puts aside his empty glass, takes a shower, and goes into work after all.
Spock is not one for dwelling; he was taught from an early age to always move forward, keep moving, and never look back unless to learn from the past. He makes precise decisions and abides by them until something—or someone—changes his mind.
"Not an easy task, changing a hobgoblin's mind," Doctor McCoy would say.
However, the ability to make a snap decision does not preclude an error in judgment.
Spock makes a devastating error in judgment; and worse yet, he does not understand that he has done so. Only Leonard's shocked face is indicative that Spock's "truth" to Jim should not have been voiced. Minutes after, once Jim is gone in a silent fury (all the more deadly, that fury, because it is driven by pain) and Leonard is torn between two lovers, Spock re-assesses his words but finds no fault with them. That night he rests, uneasy, knowing that Jim has not returned to the cabin—and in all likelihood, shall not come back.
Little changes in one respect: he follows his Captain's orders as always, questions them only when necessary. Yet Jim's flat responses pound out a distance between them. The truth is that Spock isn't aware of a choice, Leonard cannot choose, and Jim has chosen neither Leonard nor Spock.
The First Officer walks into the medical bay one day only to discover that Doctor McCoy is simply gone. He ignores a young nurse's question, then, of why he has come to Sickbay ("Are you unwell, Mr. Spock?") and exits in a single pivot. Emotion, if any is acknowledged, only scratches mutely at the walls of his self control.
The missions continue. Sometimes Spock saves his captain but never with Jim's thanks; sometimes Jim saves the First Officer but always in silence. The atmosphere grows so fragile that it eventually shatters—in such a understated, nondescript way that no one notices, not even Spock.
So it is as much of a surprise to the Vulcan as everyone else that, when the Enterprise journeys to Earth after a long five years, he signs his name to a letter of resignation which lists too many proper and irrefutable reasons why he must leave Starfleet. While other crewmen are being congratulated for surviving, cheered by crowds of people, Spock arranges to have his belongings sent to New Vulcan.
No one asks, "Why are you leaving us, Spock?"
He arrives at the colony harboring a diminished race without fanfare. His father does not question his presence, simply accepts it and provides a direction for his son to take. It is the voice of one particular Vulcan calling softly "Spock?" which gives him pause in his mindless trek.
Nothing else is said, because the sound of his name says it all: Why are you not where you belong, where you are destined to be?
Spock turns to the Vulcan with a familiar face (a face that may be his some day, but carved with harsher lines and from less life). He merely nods in acknowledgment of what was—and what shall not be in this universe—and walks away.
Whatever Spock said, not even the author knows - only that it had bad consequences.