This was a dream. There was no way around it. There was no other way to explain what Spock was seeing. The creatures, dressed in the red tunics of engineering and security, were dancing around a large pool of water. The pool was the same shape as the one on the Enterprise but in no way the same. It was massive, easily several miles across, and he had just been pulled from that pool.
The day had started with complete normalcy. An away mission, him keeping an eye on the captain, waiting patiently to be beamed back on board the ship along with the rest. Just before they dematerialized, however, Spock saw something strange. A large, white rabbit was sitting in the bushes wearing a blue medical tunic and looking down at his tricorder. Spock was about to say something to the captain, but they started dematerializing and Spock found himself plummeting into the giant pool.
A strange looking bird, the Earth's extinct Dodo, dressed in a red tunic with a security insignia, approached him cautiously.
“You almost died,” it said in the same voice as Hendorff, the lieutenant who Kirk fondly called 'Cupcake' at every chance. “Drowned.”
“I am aware,” Spock said as he straightened his wet tunic. “Where did all this water come from?”
The Dodo narrowed his eyes in confusion at Spock, pulling his head back a little in surprise. “Why, these are all the tears shed for your planet. For your people. All the sorrow for them gathered into one place and everything you can't show.”
Spock turned and glanced at the pool again. That was impossible. The sheer amount of water, to be tears, would be more than the amount a thousand trillion people could cry in a year. Looking back at the bird, he narrowed his own eyes.
“You should not lie to me,” he warned. “Where am I? How did I get here?”
“I believe the proper question would be 'Who am I?'” the Dodo provided helpfully. He gave a nod. “Yes, that's it. Now come with me. We can't stand here all day drenched in sadness. Let us run, and we shall soon be dry.”
The bird started off around the pool, and Spock had no choice but to follow. Since the other animals seemed less than helpful, he kept a careful eye on the Dodo, not wanting to be trapped here, where ever here was. As Spock followed, however, the shape of the Enterprise started to change. They were in the hall, then in the medbay. Spock frowned. This was not normal by any means.
He took the first opportunity to slip away from the Dodo, not wanting anything more to do with the mad creature. The infirmary provided sufficient space to hide in, and as Spock passed the CMO's office, the same white rabbit, the one he saw earlier, came out and spotted him.
“Selik!” it said in the same voice as McCoy. Spock froze and turned, staring wide eyed at the rabbit. “Selik, whatever are you doing outside my quarters? Go back this instant! I need you to find a spare badge and communicator! Or the queen will be upset.” As Spock stared, the rabbit waved him off. “Go! I need to get going myself or I'll be late. I keep telling them, I'm a doctor, not a time keeper, but will they ever listen?” With one last shoo, the rabbit successfully sent a very bewildered Spock back out into the hall.
The Vulcan gave a small growl in the direction of the Infirmary, but decided to hold his tongue for the moment. Instead he headed off in the direction of the crew quarters, not intending to search for the rabbit's missing badge or communicator, but instead trying to find a communicator for himself. He needed to get out of this crazy place, and in order to do that he needed to find where the rest of the away team had been beamed to.
And since Kirk had been a member of that team, another pang went through Spock. Was Jim similiarly trapped in a place of madness?
Before he realized where he was, Spock was already opening the door to McCoy's quarters. At least they would have been the doctor's were the doctor not currently a rabbit. Giving up, Spock decided it would just be better to go with it rather than fight it anymore. He needed a way out, and this seemed to be the only way.
A small yellow lizard was curled up on the bed, in a blue science dress, and Spock paused, watching it sleep for a moment. He needed to find that communicator and get out of here. Turning away from the bed, he saw the desk and moved over to it, opening the drawer. Like most Starfleet personal, McCoy was most likely to keep any of his extra things in the drawer. And to his immense relief, the communicator was sitting in the drawer alongside the badge.
Spock snatched it quickly and flipped it open, hearing the familiar beep that signaled it was working. “Spock to Enterprise,” he said clearly. “Come in Enterprise.”
After a moment, when there was no answer, Spock sighed and sat back in the chair, his mind racing. What now? He had no idea where he was, was surrounded by complete insanity, and he was certain that if it wasn't the result of a head injury, he was going completely mad. Plus he was having this feeling inside about what the Dodo had said before. All those tears he had been unable to express despite his human side.
The lizard gave a hiss and woke up, her head looking straight at Spock. “Ah! Human!” she cried, moving to hide under the pillow.
“I am Vulcan,” Spock said carefully. He stood, not knowing what this lizard would do now that she was awake.
“No,” it said from under the pillow. “You have emotions on your face and show them. You are human. Chris the Lizard knows a human when she sees one.”
Spock resisted the urge to glare at the lizard. “I am Vulcan,” he insisted again. “Born on the planet Vulcan, raised as a Vulcan, and nothing will ever change that.” Even as he said it, Spock knew the falsehood he spoke. Of course he was part human. But he had spent so long fight that side, he didn't want to face it now. Putting the communicator firmly in his pocket, he looked at the lizard. Without another word, he turned and left, not wanting anything more to do with Chris the Lizard.
Back in the hallway, Spock found himself at an impasse. He had no idea where to go, but he decided that trying to find the bridge would be a good idea. Turning in that direction, he walked to the lift and waited for the doors to open. If he could just find someone, whoever was in charge, then they could get him out.
When he entered the lift, it immediately closed and started down. Spock froze and looked around, only his eyes moving. This was quickly getting out of hand, but wherever this strange dream was leading him to, he had no choice but to follow.
The doors opened to the hangar bay and Spock left the lift, reluctant to go much further. There was a ship sitting directly in front of him, looking small in the much too large hangar bay. Approaching it slowly, Spock paused and looked up.
The vessel was familiar and an ache formed in Spock's chest. Even if he never said it, any memories of those days of Vulcan's destruction left him feeling winded. But he would never show it. Sitting on the bubble of the Jellyfish, another figure watched him. Dressed in formal Vulcan robes, the green faced creature was lighting incense and placing it carefully around himself.
“Who are you?” it asked, it's voice faded from centuries of use but still holding an air of command.
Spock stood straighter, only a slight shiver going through him. “I am Commander Spock of the USS Enterprise.”
“Are you indeed?” the creature asked. “Fascinating.” The creature peered down at him, pointed eyebrows arching over brown eyes. “But is that truly who you are meant to be?”
“What do you mean?” Spock asked, uncertain as to where this dream was going. He didn't dream often, but when he did, they were never so strange. “I am Commander Spock.”
The creature only nodded, his eyes locked on Spock. “If you keep saying that, perhaps it will be true.”
“It is truth!” Spock almost shouted up at the creature. He was starting to feel angry at this male for provoking him thus. What did this creature know of him?
“You may be Commander Spock, but, my young one, you seem somewhat...less than yourself.” He waved his hand, creating swirls of incense and smoke, causing it to waft in Spock's direction. “As if you are missing something important. Your...you-ness.”
“Forgive me, but I do not recognize this word,” Spock said, attempting to control himself. It was difficult, with the anger simmering just under the surface.
“You-ness,” the creature said again. “That which makes you you.” He shook his head at Spock. “Again I ask, who are you?”
“I am Spock of Vulcan!” Spock said defiantly. He knew who he was and didn't need some strange older version of himself telling him he didn't.
“Only of Vulcan?” The creature said this as if it was a scientific anomaly. “Fascinating.”
“No!” Spock replied hurriedly. “Not only-”
“Yet this is the only planet you claim. And the only species you wish to be part of.”
“No.” This time he said it much calmer, realizing that the creature spoke truth. “I do wish to honor both my parents.” He blinked a few times and looked down at the floor, suddenly ashamed of his dismissal of his mother's side. “However human sentiments and emotions are harder to control.”
The creature closed his eyes and inclined his head in understanding. “Yes, they are. But with help you can find the right balance.” He stood slowly and started moving away from Spock, towards the back of the ship. “If you can find those who are willing to help.”
As the creature disappeared into the ship, Spock stood there, confused for a moment. He had never reached out for help before, and if that thing knew him at all, he would know that it was hard to do so. Feeling that there was nothing left here, Spock turned and started walking again, past the lift, and into another hall.
The science labs loomed ahead of him, looking more inviting than the entire rest of the ship. This was someplace he felt more at home, and Spock headed in that direction. He heard a commotion from inside one of the greenhouses and walked in, stepping straight into chaos.
A dark skinned woman dressed in a long red shaded gown was sitting on a bench, holding a red colored tabby cat and watching another woman, this one completely green with a riot of red hair, as she was picking plants in the corner. The dark skinned one looked up as Spock entered and stood, rushing over to him.
“Oh, you must be the escort. Are you going to wear that to the Queen's gathering? Shall I dress to match?”
A sudden pair of sheers was thrown at the dark skinned woman and she barely managed to duck in time as the green skinned one ran over. Spock knew in his mind instantly who these people were meant to be, and as Gaila threw another item at Uhura, he could only stand and watch.
“You promised that I would be able to go with the escort!”
“I am the Duchess, you are the servant! What I say goes because I'm higher than you!”
The cat, who seemed to be forgotten in the mess, walked over to Spock and sat down next to his feet. “Interesting day, ain't it?” he asked in a Scottish accent. “I wouldn't suggest staying here much longer, as all they ever do is argue about the room and men.”
Spock could only nod as he backed out of the room and looked at the cat. “So where do you suggest I go?”
“If you take the lift upwards, it'll take you to the bridge. But be warned, some mad people call that home.” He grinned suddenly as he started leading Spock towards the lift. “But don't let that fool you. They are geniuses.” Suddenly the creature started disappearing into particles. Spock recognized that he was being beamed somewhere, but he had never seen anything like this. Only the grin remained, and it finally said, “Maybe I can find some sandwiches somewhere,” before finally vanishing as well.
“Fascinating,” Spock said before he took the lift. This one did indeed go up, which Spock was grateful for. At last he was going to make it to the bridge. An unsettling feeling rested in the pit of his stomach that this wasn't going to go at all as he expected, and Spock was completely correct.
The lift opened and Spock stepped out to the craziest scene ever. The red alert was flashing, and James Kirk, dressed in his finest dress tunic and wearing the most ridiculous top hat Spock had ever seen, sat in the captain's chair. At the navigation console, Chekov was asleep, and sitting in the helm's man chair Sulu was frantically pounding on buttons. Chekov had on a pair of mouse ears, which Spock thought made the youth look even younger, and Sulu had rabbit ears. On the viewscreen was a sight that caused Spock to forget the ridiculousness of the scene.
His planet, imploding. Kirk was shouting orders, but neither of the other men were answering. Then just as suddenly as it disappeared, Vulcan reappeared. Spock stared for a moment, swallowing his agony at the sight, and walked over to Kirk.
“What is this?” he asked, his voice wavering slightly. “Why are you watching this.”
“I'm being punished,” Kirk replied, taking off his hat for a moment so he could brush his golden hair from his forehead. “Because I wasn't fast enough, I couldn't save them. I failed, so I am trapped in this moment.”
The breath left Spock. He knew that it wasn't Kirk's fault, but the human had taken the blame and accepted the punishment. “You could just leave,” he suggested.
“And abandon everyone who needs me?” Kirk said harshly. “As if I didn't feel for them? Love them? Come on, Spock! I know you can't love, but that doesn't mean you can tell me what I should be doing!”
“I can and do love,” Spock said quietly.
“No, you don't. You're Vulcan remember? Vulcans don't feel.” Kirk turned back to the viewscreen, his blue eyes filming over with tears. “You can't feel. Emotionless. Cold. Even when people try to befriend you.”
“That is inaccurate.” Spock couldn't come up with a logical argument to Kirk's accusations, mainly because everything he had told the captain in the past was exactly what he was now repeating.
Kirk's eyes traveled over to Spock's face. “I must endure this because I am the only one who will face it,” he said, looking back at the screen.
“It is wholly foolish to face such a painful experience forever,” Spock stated, backing away from the captain. “To force yourself to relive it.”
“Because we can feel the pain that others don't, we mourn for them,” came the quiet voice of Chekov from the navigator's console. “We hurt because we feel.”
“And we feel because we hurt,” Sulu finished for him.
Spock turned and fled from the bridge, no longer able to face the destruction. He ran down the hall, pushing past people in red, blue, and gold indiscriminately as he hurried along. Spock came to a set of double doors and, in his grief, did not realize that they didn't belong on the Enterprise. He pushed them open and ran right onto the floor of the academy's court room. The full council was seated upon the desks, and Spock came to a halt, looking up at them. In the center was his father, and at his side, his mother, looking down at him with disappointment and shame. Spock walked forward slowly, pain radiating throughout his body as his emotional torment turned into physical torture.
“The accused has arrived,” Sarek said, waving at Spock. “Please take your place.”
Moving stiffly towards the podium, Spock couldn't take his eyes off his mother. He heard others coming in behind him, and someone took the other podium, but he couldn't tear his eyes away from the woman he had lost.
It was more than even Spock could tolerate. But his emotional response was cut off by Sarek speaking.
“Spock, you are accused of refusing half your heritage, placing blame of the tragedy of your planet at the feet of your captain, and generally leaving the sadness to those not of our people.” He looked over at the man standing at the other podium. “Is that it?”
“No,” came the voice of Kirk. Spock looked over and frowned at the captain. “He has also refused friendship that he knows will change his life forever.”
Sarek stared down at Spock, disappointment in his eyes. “How do you plead?”
The air caught in Spock's chest. He couldn't argue the charges, but he could defend himself. “I am Vulcan. We must not give into emotions, must rely on logic.”
“My son,” came Amanda's voice, “you are of two worlds, and you must accept that. Accept your human side. We will always be proud of you.”
“Mother,” Spock said, feeling the pain ripping at his chest. “I cannot. If I give in, if I-”
“What is so bad about being part human?” she asked. He saw the expression in her eyes and something inside him broke. “Are you ashamed of me?”
“No, I love you.”
“Ah, at last he says it!” Kirk said from next to him. “But can he admit more?”
Sarek reached over and took his wife's hand, watching his son. “Spock, until you can properly accept what is there, the love that I know you feel, you will never be truly whole. There is logic in allowing yourself to feel, to grieve, to love.”
“Who is it you love, my son?” Amanda asked, gentleness in her voice.
“I do not-”
“You do,” she said with a smile. “And you must admit it to yourself and then go to him.”
The courtroom started fading, but Spock didn't want to leave his mother. “No! Mother! Please, let me stay!”
Her voice was fading, but he heard her message even as the world faded into grey. “You can't stay here, son. But remember, I love you, and I always will. Just accept it and you'll be happy again. You must let go.”
“How is he?” Jim asked, looking down at his first officer. After the disaster that was the beam back, the captain was shaking with panic. Bones put a hand on the captain's shoulder.
“It'll take time for him to wake up. Just wait patiently.”
Jim sat down and nodded, his eyes locked on Spock. “Bones, I feel horrible. It was my idea to go down there in the first place. If it weren't for me, he wouldn't have touched that stupid plant.”
“Jim, you didn't know,” McCoy said, carefully enunciating every word. “Just give it time. I'm going to finish the paperwork. Let me know if he wakes up.”
The captain nodded and sat there, feeling miserable. Spock didn't even like him and he still insisted that his science officer went along with him. He was an idiot.
Burying his head in his hands, Jim gave into the urge to just feel sad. He had once again let Spock down, and nothing he could do would fix that. Keeping his head down, he let his arms fall straight out, his depression settling full force.
“I'm so sorry, Spock,” he whispered. “I can't do it. I really can't. Not by myself.”
A cooler hand gripped Jim's, and the captain opened his eyes in shock. He looked up and saw Spock watching him, his eyes soft and his expression sad.
“You should not have to,” the Vulcan said quietly. “It is not your guilt to carry.” His deep brown eyes caught Jim's and the human saw something he would have never expected. Spock had tears swimming in his eyes.
“It's my fault, though-”
“No,” Spock said, his voice weak but his tone strong. Jim watched him, unsure of what Spock was meaning. “I know you blame yourself, but you cannot. You must let go of that blame. Allow yourself to feel something other than guilt.”
Jim shook his head. He knew that the only thing he wanted to feel was his growing attachment to his first officer, but it would never be returned. “I'm responsible for my crew.”
Spock's hand squeezed his and Jim took a deep breath as Spock let out a sigh. “Captain...Jim...you are responsible for us, but I am responsible for you.”
The breath in Jim's chest froze as he stared down at Spock. “What...Spock?”
“Jim, I do not want to face my grief and guilt alone, and I know you do not. We can do this together.”
The captain just stared for a moment before his face softened and he nodded. “I...would like that.”