The Great Beyond
Summary: My take on what happened when Kirk died in "Generations"
Beta Thanks: To Saavant
Disclaimer: All things Trek belong to Paramount. I'm just playing with them. No infringement intended.
His mouth opened but the agonizing gasp never made it past his pale, trembling lips.
Convulsed in painful spasms so intense that he immediately doubled-over, Spock was unable to either breathe or move. Melting into gloomy shadows, the simple furnishings of his room faded into obscurity and he was no longer conscious of their function or form, or even of time itself.
His lungs ached for breath, constricted by a vice-grip of overwhelming emotion that threaten to drop him to the cold, stone floor. He clenched his eyes shut, not to block the feelings, but to desperately lock on to them—embrace them with his mind. And yet, his rational, pragmatic Vulcan restraint still protested against the assault.
//Not possible! Not logical!//
Suddenly, from some profound well of subconscious awareness, a strange warmth began to flow directly into to core of his being. His strained muscles eased, the cramps diminished, and on a deeper level, the emotional pain lessened as well. The heat became a ribbon of energy, pure and absolute, and like a dry, brittle leaf, he had no choice but to allow it to carry him into the unknown on its steadfast current…
Without warning, a white shaft penetrated his thoughts, and the shaft exploded into a name that consumed him entirely. A name that pounded in his brain to the rhythm of his hammering heartbeat—
And the name became a memory…then the memory became a river that flowed in reverse; taking him back in time to a swirling ocean of stars and distant places, of foreign and familiar landscapes, of a dozen vanished races and a thousand forgotten faces. And yet within it all, like an island rising out of the turbulent water—a single, defining moment became so clear, so real that he reached hungrily for it, and was suddenly back on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise.
Once again, he felt the low, lulling vibration of the engines under his feet, the familiar chill against his skin, even the smell of the slightly antiseptic sanitized-air filling his lungs. He could feel the smooth glide of the Star Fleet uniform against his lean, strong frame, the vigor and strength in firm muscles, the vitality of youth that once more coursed through his veins.
As he lifted his gaze from the blue light of the viewer, as if in slow motion, they were all there—those long lost friends and compatriots: Uhura, young and lovely, bright with the promise of many years to come. Chekov and Sulu, so confident in their abilities that their fingers seemly danced over the controls like exuberant children at play. Janice Rand, shy and nervous, ever ready to please. Doctor McCoy, dear nemeses, once more in his prime, grinning and chatting happily with a robust Mr. Scott.
All gone now. Dead; taken by old age, disease or accident. But these were not forgotten phantoms on a ghost ship. In his mind’s eye, they were vibrant and alive, bonded by duty, linked forever in friendship. Here they still lived on…
On the main screen, only the endless vista of space stretched out, beckoning them to explore its vast mysteries—an invitation, a challenge that they all eagerly accepted on a five year mission to go where no one had gone before.
Then, Spock gaze came to rest on the man at the center of his world.
The command chair slowly, very slowly, swiveled around. The human’s chin lifted, the lips arched in a soft smile, the pale lashes rose…and their eyes met.
No words were spoken. None were needed. For in that very moment, Spock had curiously moved to look out through those warm hazel eyes, and see himself as Jim saw him. The long fingered, graceful hands, the shape and line of his face, the vulnerability of his loneliness and the pain of self-imposed separation that even his rigid shields could not truly hide. The dark eyes, complex and subtle, spoke silently of loyalty, trust, friendship…and of something deeper…more intimate.
And he knew in that instant, in that one rare and precious second of contact, that the feelings he had denied for so long, were returned. He loved and was loved. It was so simple, so natural, that he didn’t need logic to prove or refute it. He did not find it strange. Somehow, he had anticipated it. For the man in the chair was ‘Spock’ and the Vulcan that stood motionless was ‘Kirk’. They had become one complete being, a single kindred soul inhabiting two bodies, joined forever in mind and spirit. And the knowledge filled him with such joy, that nothing in his life would ever be the same.
But suddenly, the moment vanished and he was back in the cold harsh reality of the present-day, once more on the Romulan planet—alone.
// No! // It was an embittered cry that that welled up from the deepest part of his soul.
After eighty long years of emptiness—that he would feel the presence of Jim in his mind again, flooding it with bittersweet memories, was staggering. Spock sank painfully to his knees, pressing his trembling fingers against his temples, urgently trying to make contact with the part of himself he had thought was lost forever.
Jim was back in this reality. He was not dead, had not died in the Nexus. He was alive, but in great danger. Disjointed images and thoughts flooded his mind in rapid secession. Malevolence. Insanity. The destruction of millions of innocent people. A violent struggle. Three men fighting to the death.
It all became clear.
//The danger...!// Spock sought desperately to warn, but it was drowned out in the dizzying wave of sensation.
Somewhere, someplace—Kirk was clinging to the collapsed metal bridge, frantically trying to hold on. Fingers ached from the incredible strain, muscles trembled uncontrollably, their strength no longer able prevent the long drop to the rocks below.
The grip slips, grabs again, slips once more grasping at air…
Spock jolted upright, transfix by shock. A long, terrible spiral down in a dizzy freefall, then impact - the horrendous shattering of bone, the tearing of flesh, the flow of blood seeping into the earth.
Flashes of light exploded beside him, through him, but the thoughts they represented were confused, in agony…and he felt every horrible second.
Spock grimaced, trying to shield against the waves of pain flooding Kirk’s body and mind. Spock could hear the shadow of the words forming, like the ripples on a pond that were drifting farther away.
“It was fun...”
//Jim!// Spock forced himself to follow the thread of thought deeper, farther then he had ever gone into the meld before. His resounding cry was but a murmur in Kirk’s mind, distorted and thin, and yet somehow Kirk heard it.
//Spock! Is that you?//
//Yes, I am here.//
//What the hell’s happening? I feel…so strange…//
Spock could hardly accept the truth himself—he had found Jim after endless years only to lose him again. The cruelty of the situation, the callous irony was excruciating. His voice was so shaken that it came out barely above a whisper. //You are dying…//
And on a planet a half-million light years away, Captain Picard leaned forward. His heart clutched in his chest as Kirk gaze slipped from his face and stared passed him, into the vast canopy of sky—his glazed eyes searching for something, someone…
And then, time and space had no meaning.
//Everything’s gone black…the pain is gone. Spock...Where are you? I can hear you, but I can’t see you.//
//Here. I am here. We are one thought, one mind. Visualize I am here through the meld between us.//
A long, tense moment passed.
//You must try harder...// Spock’s voice was loud and clear now, edged with unshielded emotion.
Kirk concentrated, focused—then Spock’s outline slowly began to take shape in his thoughts. The Vulcan’s image was elusive, a vision that hovered in a nether world without pattern or structure.
//Spock! I can see you now!//
//And I you.//
//So this is death?//
//No…This is the process of dying, Jim.//
//I’m really dying?//
//Your heart has ceased beating, the blood pools…lack of oxygen to the brain has begun…//
//You felt this happening to me?//
//And now here you are. I always said I would always die alone, but I knew in my heart that somehow you’d be with me at the end. But where is here?//
//In the deepest reassesses of your mind, what I believe is the last vestige of the essence, the spirit of James Kirk. And yet, it is a state of being not of time or space, not of form as we know it.//
//But I thought it was forbidden and heinous crime to mind meld with someone who was dying. The risk, Spock, to you...//
//The risk is immeasurable and it is true that I have violated Vulcan’s strictest taboo. It is illogical, irrational and imprudent. I am gratified to be here.//
//Break the link. It is too dangerous.//
//I am far beyond the point of concerning myself with danger when it comes to you.//
//Damn it. Stubborn to the last, Spock?//
//Indeed. Is this not a case of...what did McCoy used to say—of the pot calling the kettle black?//
Jim laughed, the familiar warmth of his voice filling Spock with bittersweet emotion, knowing that too soon the sound would cease forever.
//Bones once told me that he liked to think that when a person died, they just went back to the place they came from before they were born. That it is either something wonderful or nothing - as if a person never existed at all.//
//You existed, Jim. I am proof of that. Without James Kirk, there would be no Spock, at least not the Spock I am, the Spock I became by knowing you.//
Jim laughed again. True to form, Kirk always found a grain of humor in the most dire situations. //Don’t blame me for what you are. I’ll not take that responsibility to the grave. I’ve got enough amends to make to my maker. Remember we did kill ‘God’ once...//
Spock couldn’t help the flicker of amusement that touched him.
//Indeed. Killing ‘God’ would be difficult for one to forget.//
//Is this what you experienced when you died saving the Enterprise from Khan?//
//No as I did not die in the literal sense. I had placed my katra in Dr. McCoy, so it was not true death that I experienced. But eventually, even on Vulcan, a katra must move beyond this plane of existence. Nothing lasts forever, Jim. In time, even the universe will cease to exist.//
//So what happens now?//
Spock was silent for a moment, then said softly, //I do not know.//
//If you will not break the meld, will you stay with me a while, until I go…?//
//Until the last possible moment.//
Perhaps the timing was incongruous, but Jim felt compelled to ask just the same, //Why do we exist, Spock? What’s it all about anyway?//
Spock hesitated. What answer could he give to comfort a dying man?
//The question “why do we exist” implies that there is a singular purpose for all of life. Perhaps you lived because God wanted you to.//
//Spock, you astound me. Do you believe in a divinity? Is there life-after-death?//
//The universe is filled with infinite possibilities.//
//Well, if there is a supreme being, I got about million questions I want to ask.//
//I hope you will find the answers that you seek.//
//What would you ask your maker, Spock?//
//Perhaps the need for answers ends when the need for the questions does. I would be content with the knowledge that everything unfolded as it should.//
//Then you believe in fate? Or are we free to choose our own destiny?//
//I believe in Kaiidth: what is - is. Whether fate or free choice places our feet upon the path we follow, the end result will enviably be the same. Be it long or short, life is a precious gift. Whether by design or by accident, one does not ask why a gift is given, but accepts it with appreciation. If there is also purpose to our existence, then this too, shall be made clear in the end.//
Jim was silent for a moment.
//We had a good run—you and I. We both lived long and prospered. Who could ask for more. We did a hell of a lot for one lifetime.//
//It was a life well spent, even by the highest Vulcan standards.//
//By Vulcan standards, Ah! I wish McCoy was here to hear that. I remember so much Spock, the times we three spent together. Not just the battles, the thrill of victory, the near escapes, but so many of the little things we shared. Like how you and McCoy were always bickering. That damn squabbling drove me crazy. I should have kicked both of you out the space hatch without environmental suites!//
//I remember all too well. Although my health is declining, my memory is still excellent. I recall the Doctor had a way of - what is the Terran phrase...a way of “pushing my buttons”. Although it is illogical to state the obvious, I do miss his company and think of him often.//
//I miss them all…the original Enterprise crew. Each in their own way was remarkable. In our day, we were the best. We did what no one had done before. My one regret is I didn’t really get the chance to tell them how I felt…//
They were both silent for a moment.
//How long before—how long do you think we have here together?//
//Time is relative in this state. What may be a but a fraction of a second in the world we know, has no significance here.//
//Make use of time, let not advantage slip,
Beauty within itself should not be wasted,
Fair flowers that are not gathered in their prime,
Rot, and consume themselves in little time.//
Spock recalled the words with ease. //Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis, verse 130//
//Yes. His writings were a favorite of mine.//
//And mine. Even Shakespeare passed this way once towards death, as all living things must do. From the greatest to the most obscure, each eventually walk this path. This journey has been tread by the billions upon billions that came before, and those that will come after. There is comfort in this fact. All are equal in this passage from what was to what will be—male, female, old, young, rich, poor, the strong and the weak, all races and species. Life itself, and eventual death, join us all together as brothers.//
//Yes, but men such as Shakespeare left us with some of the greatest words ever written. What will we leave behind Spock, how will we be remembered, if at all?//
//That, Jim, we must entrust to future generations to decide.//
//To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more...//
Suddenly, both Kirk and Spock were aware of a radical and undeniable shift around them.
//Spock, something is happening...? It’s a feeling I’ve never had before...//
In the near distance, a swirling vortex of brilliant light appeared - stretching to infinity. Its brightness did not blind, but beckoned. Its power could not be denied.
Kirk stared at it, mesmerized. Whether this was only the final discharge of the last remnants of the visual cortex or a gateway to another dimension, neither could be sure…
//Something compels me to move towards it, Spock... all I know is I can’t stay here any longer.//
Kirk took a few steps forward, then swung around.
//Spock, are you still here?//
//I don’t want to leave, and yet, I have to...//
//I know. It’s time. I will accompany you as far as I am able.//
They walked slowly towards the vortex, side-by-side as they had always done.
Spock finally stopped. He was so deep into the meld that the link between his physical body and his mental state was stretched perilously thin.
//I can go no further...the depth of the meld is becoming too deep even for me to sustain. If I continue...//
//Then you must go back.//
Kirk’s gave his best heartfelt smile and brightened for a moment.
//You were my best friend and I’m grateful for that. It hardly seems enough but all I can say is thanks. Thanks for always being there through thick and thin, for sharing in the triumphs, the joys, the sorrows and the defeats. We weathered them all, didn’t we?//
//Yes.// Spock was too filled with emotion to say more.
//Perhaps we were meant to be together all those years, in those roles we’ve played out. We’re both very lucky, Spock. Lucky to have lived the lives we have, and lucky to have had each other. Maybe there was some reason why James Kirk and Mr. Spock ended up on the bridge of the Enterprise in this crazy universe. Or maybe in the larger scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. I only know that I would be less of the man I am…I was…without you. If you remember anything of me when your own end comes, if we never meet again - remember that I loved you.//
//I know. I have always known. If I failed to express my deepest emotions for you as often as I should have, I never failed to always feel them.//
Jim smiled for the last time, and Spock knew that he would never see the light that shone from his face again. Kirk slowly turned and walked, without fear, towards the vortex. To the last, he would be the man he always wanted to be, strong and proud, prepared meet his end with dignity. He had been the Captain of a starship, the finest in the fleet. To do less, would be to deny all that he had been.
Than that which was James. T. Kirk began to dissipate, fade, evaporate. The last vestige of his spirit—all his hopes, dreams, desires, all that he was, had been— was disappearing. Never again would such a man grace the world.
The wrenching grief that overwhelmed Spock was too great to bear. //Jim…// Spock cried out.
Summoning up all his remaining strength, the last of his mental and physical energy - Spock quickly moved forward.
Kirk turned to look back. //No Spock!//
//The time remaining in my own physical body is almost concluded. My present form is exhausted, finished. By remaining behind, I only postpone the inevitable. I no longer desire to place my katra on Vulcan for my purpose is now clear. If there *is* something beyond this existence, then we will explore it together, as we have always done. The Nexus took you from me. Nothing shall part us again.//
Jim’s eyes glistened as Spock took his place beside him. How many countless times, had Spock been there at his side, and now, he was here again, even in the face of certain death.
//Whatever did I do to deserve you, Spock?//
Jim put his arm around the lean and frail shoulder, pulling his soul mate closer. Spock’s dark eyes met his for the last time, mirroring the unbreakable bond of devotion and love that they shared.
//As one of your greatest Earth philosophers once wrote, “Yea though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”//
Then together, the essence of what was - Captain and First Officer, Admiral and Ambassador, James T. Kirk of Earth and Spock of Vulcan, dissolve into whatever awaited them beyond death, perhaps the greatest adventure of all.
The Great Beyond