Summary: When Captain Kirk disappeared into the Nexus, he left behind a legend. As for Spock...well, he left behind a mystery, when he vanished soon thereafter. AU-ish.

A/N: This kind of ignores Generations, because it's a lot more dramatic if no one knows for certain what goes on in the Nexus and if Picard doesn't rescue Kirk from it. Or I guess it could take place before Generations, since Kirk was presumed dead for several decades. But Spock's fate in this is definitely AU. Also I am a fairly new Trekkie so if I get some detail screwed up it's just because I don't know that much about the Trek universe yet.

Also this story was meant to focus more on Kirk and Spock, but the narrator really wanted to look forward and speculate on how the fates of people like Kirk and Spock affect the futures of people like the narrator's grandson. Silly stories, taking on lives of their own.

Shadows of Gods Departed

When Captain James T. Kirk disappeared into the Nexus, he left behind a legend. We all knew the stories; we tell them to our children now, and my own little grandson has a model of a starship that he flies around the house while imitating phaser noises and yelling things like "Divert all power to thrust!" and "Beam me up, Scotty!" Sometimes when I play with him I pretend I'm a Gorn or a Romulan, and we 'wrestle' until I let him pin me and then he jumps around going "Granda', let's do it again, be the Horta this time!" while waving his plastic phaser crazily in the air.

I was a cadet in Starfleet when Kirk's Enterprise was roaming the galaxy; I guess the Enterprise really belongs to Starfleet, but in my mind she'll always be Kirk's, regardless of who captains her now. Oftentimes I would be eating in the dining hall and cramming for tests, only to be distracted by Verne Nazdirk flinging himself onto the seat beside me and excitedly asking "Have you heard the latest on the Enterprise?" while helping himself to my too-dry mashed potatoes. Verne always knew what was going on everywhere- hearing sharper than an owl's, Verne had- and the stories he heard were always supposed to be top-secret, which meant that everyone knew them anyway.

I positively idolized Kirk. I paid the strictest attention in class and finished all of my homework in time, and when the month of my Kobayashi Maru came around I couldn't sleep for a week because I was so nervous and ended up doing abysmally on the test because I couldn't focus due to my exhaustion. I had to retake it, but I did so gladly because I wanted so badly to captain my own starship someday, to explore that final frontier the way my hero was doing.

It was a cold, blustery day, that day I found out that Captain Kirk had been lost to the Nexus. I was an officer by then- not very high up in the chain of command, but I was doing well enough to get by and I had just married my girl, herself a freshly-graduated cadet. I don't remember who first mentioned it, because about fifteen people independently brought it up before I'd even had a chance to finish my morning coffee. It was the talk of Starfleet for weeks. Not only was Kirk gone, but none of us even knew for sure what the Nexus was. Some of the higher-ups knew, I guess; the astrophysicists and scientists, but I was just a communications officer who knew about the Nexus only through bits of overhead conversation and speculation. As I understand it, the Nexus is some sort of extradimensional realm, and being trapped inside the Nexus is a different experience for each individual, since the realm shapes reality according to the individual's thoughts. I suppose one could live in the Nexus for years- decades or centuries, even- and not even know any time has passed. It could be paradise for them, for all I know.

But we don't know for sure. Kirk could be living a dandy life filled with sunshine and beautiful women or whatever, or he could be dead, or maybe he was transported to an alternate dimension. It's the not knowing that drives everyone nuts, the possibility that maybe he's alive out there and we can't help him. Maybe he's alive and he doesn't even want us to help him because it's wonderful there.

The uncertainty about the Captain's fate isn't the worst part about it, though. The worst part is that he's gone, and he left behind all these friends that he never got to say goodbye to. He left behind his best friend, his first officer of many years, and though I've never really had a chance to get chummy with a Vulcan I've heard that once you've befriended one you've got a friend for life. Spock always was a prominent figure in the stories I heard about the Enterprise, lurking there with the characteristically Vulcan pointed ears and swooped eyebrows. He and Kirk were glued together at the hip- or, if you believe certain rumours, they were bonded and had a literal psychic connection. They saved each other's lives loads of times, spilled gallons of their own blood, faced down incredible odds together. I can't imagine what it would be like to be that close to a person and then suddenly have them disappear altogether from your life.

If Kirk left behind a legend, then Spock left behind a mystery. Not a year after Kirk had been swallowed by the Nexus, Spock disappeared too. Just up and vanished, not leaving even a footprint behind. The Vulcans balked a bit at searching for him; the probability of finding one specific person in the entire galaxy rendered it illogical to even bother, but it was Spock so eventually they looked anyway, and found nothing. Starships were sent out, Spock's relatives and friends were questioned, search parties combed the city where Spock had lived...and again, found nothing. But Vulcan's a large planet and a good portion of it is desert, and when, after weeks of searching it was concluded that no ship had taken Spock off-world and he wasn't hiding in the cities, people began speculating that Spock had gone out into either the Vulcanian deserts or the Fire Plains. Some say he left to pursue the Kolinahr, purging himself of the human scourge of emotion. Others insist that he travelled to Kir to seek a haven with the monks that reside there, or that he stole away to die in solitude.

I hope that Spock's hiding place is nothing more than the white-hooded robes of the silent monks, and I hope that Kirk is living in a wondrous, timeless realm. I hope that they are not simply two more names to add to the list of the legions of heroes who have died among the distant stars and planets, many of whom were Starfleet personnel who were killed back when the Federation was new and when space travel was still a risky endeavor- back before humanity understood the power of space, the vastness of it.

My father before me was an engineer in Starfleet, and his father was a navigator who frequently went on years-long away missions. My own daughter is a scientist for the 'fleet, and her husband is an instructor at the academy. My grandson wants to carry on the tradition, to tread the paths Kirk has previously carved out and the new trails that Captain Picard is currently forging. Sometimes I look at him playing with his toy starships and aliens, and I think of all those brave people who have given their lives and their blood for Starfleet and the Federation. It worries me, the thought that someday he'll rocket out of this cozy home and into unexplored star fields flowered with nebulae, where he could easily slip into a black hole or be shot by hostile natives.

But I think he'll be okay. He's a bright boy, an adventurous kid, and he won't be journeying alone. He'll have his crewmates, his captain, and he'll be guided by the tales of those who have journeyed before him- people like Kirk and Spock and Picard, and even ordinary folks like my father.

He will be walking in the shadows of giants.