- Text Size +
Story Notes:
Originally published in 2011 in the print fanzine "T'hy'la" # 31.
+ -- 02:04 hrs – working -- +

“What can you say about a man who died? That he loved the stars, and music, and me?”


Where in all hell did that come from? It’s terrible.

But it does sound vaguely familiar...

Oh Lord, now I remember! It’s from that sentimental remake of an equally bad 20th century classic ‘movie’. Uhura recommended it – heaven knows why, I thought she had more taste – and he and I watched it one night, more out of a sense of duty than in any expectation of enjoyment. And we were right to be dubious. We both absolutely hated it. So why have I –?

Forget it. It doesn’t matter. Just take a deep breath and try again.

“We are gathered here today to show our deep respect for an excellent officer, a true friend, an admirable person.”

Christ, that’s even worse! It sounds like a recruitment ad. ‘Join Starfleet, become an excellent officer, make true friends….’ All artificial sentiment; nothing but platitudes.

I can’t do that to him. He’d never forgive me.

“Captain Spock was one of the best men I have ever known…”

Oh, let’s not get carried away here! Only “One of the best” ? He was always the very best of men. My best lover, my best friend, my helpmeet, my rock, my protection. He was my …

I’m already using the past tense. When did that happen?

“We are assembled here today…”

Today. It’s today already, which means that Time didn’t stop after all.

Which means that since he died, suns have continued to rise and set all over the universe. Worlds have kept on turning, new stars have been born and old ones have burned into dust. People throughout the galaxy have gone on breathing and moving, laughing and loving, every one of them blissfully unaware of the seismic shift that happened a few hours ago. For them, nothing has changed.

It doesn’t seem possible.

But then, “life goes on”, isn’t that what they say?

But how? That’s what I want to know. How does my life go on when my world has come to an end? When time has ceased to move forward, when all meaning has gone? How do I go on living when everything is grey? When the air I have breathed for the last ten years has fled from my lungs and all I can taste is ashes?

That’s appropriate.

Ashes to ashes...

“We are assembled here today...”

Okay. That’s good. That’s the first line settled. But then what? What comes next?

A very good question, JT. What exactly does come next? What are you going to do now? What are you going to do for the rest of your life?

“We are assembled here today...”

Come on, you need more than one line! You’ve only got a few hours and then you have to stand up in front of the crew and say something coherent to honour the love of your life, to honour the man who saved us all by some heroic, marvellous, dreadful act of sacrifice.

I will forever dream of glass.

I can’t get the memories out of my head. Spock in that chamber, silent and unmoving; the endless wait for the decontamination programme to end before I could touch him again; the sweet weight of him in my arms as I carried him from engineering, his head heavy on my shoulder, the fragrant musk of his hair almost masking the acrid scent of ruined flesh as I staggered to sickbay.

The grief in the ship weighed me down more than Spock’s body ever could. The crew came out of their quarters and their offices, up from the lower decks and the labs, and lined the corridors in long, silent rows. Some of them saluted as we passed, some covered their eyes, some wept, but I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other and looking straight ahead, focussing on getting him to sickbay, scared to catch anyone’s eye lest I stumbled and fell.

My legs may have faltered once or twice, but my arms were strong and my back was straight, and I carried him proudly, my head held high. At first, Bones and Scotty tried to help me, tried to take him from me, but I wouldn’t allow it. I couldn’t relinquish my precious burden to anyone else and, in the end, good friends that they are, they walked with me, one to each side, giving me emotional support but not touching me; just letting me do what they knew I had to do.

Even when we got to sickbay, I wouldn’t let him go, not until Bones, his face grey, came and sat down beside me, and held my hand and spoke softly to me. Only then could I force myself away.

I stayed while they washed and prepared him, unwilling to take my eyes from the still, pale form. Although the radiation had left terrible marks on him, destroying forever the lean perfection of his body, I kept expecting him to sit up, to raise an affronted eyebrow and demand to know what all the fuss was about. I stood by his bed and willed it to happen, pleaded with every deity I had never believed in to make him open his eyes, knowing all the time that they would never open again.

But I had to leave when they bought in the casket. I couldn’t bring myself to stay while they consigned him to the dark.

Bones came to me afterwards and offered me something to help me sleep. Maybe I should have taken him up on it, but I’m just so afraid of dreaming.

“We are assembled here today to pay our final respects…”

Screw it! I can’t do this. I don’t know what the hell I’m saying any more. I can’t even think straight.

Why the hell do I have to do this anyway? How can anyone expect a man’s bondmate to give the eulogy only hours after he’s gone, for God’s sake? It’s inhuman!

Why does it always have to be me? Why does it always have to be me at the front, me bearing the heaviest burden, me having to find the way home? Let someone else do it for once. Bones: he’d know what to say. Or Scotty or Uhura. Even Chekov could do it. They all knew him, all loved him. One of them – any of them – can do it while I curl up in a corner and pray for it all to go away. God knows I want it all to go away.

But what’s the use of wanting? It won’t go away. It will never go away.

And at least this suffering means I’m still alive, as he wanted me to be, and while I’m still alive, he’s with me. He’s with me now just as much as he’s been with me over the past ten years, even if I can’t feel the bond any more. It was never very strong in me, but its severing has left an open wound

And of course I have to give the eulogy. I couldn’t possibly let anyone else do that last service for him. I couldn’t allow anyone else to say that final goodbye. The last words he ever heard in life were mine and the last words he will hear in death must be mine also.

Words. Always fucking words. I don’t have the words for this.

I don’t have the heart for this...

+ -- 02:52 hrs – end -- +



+ -- 03: 17 hrs - working -- +


Right. That’s better. Got myself under control again, I think.

I can do this.

“We are assembled here today to pay our final respects to our honoured dead …”

The trouble is, I feel so angry. It’s almost as if the last ten years never happened, as if what he was and what we had was so unimportant that on a whim Fate just decided to wipe it all out as if it had never been. A whole decade gone, in the time it took one man to die in the sterile whiteness of a glass cubicle, in the space between one slow, agonising breath and the next, leaving me with nothing but memories and a towering rage at the injustice of it all.

We’ve been cheated, goddamn it. We should have had many more years together. We should have had a child together, we should have grown old together, we should have – we should have –

We should have, we could have, but we didn’t – and now we never will.

I thought we were invincible, Spock. You made me feel superhuman, as if I could conquer worlds, galaxies, with you at my side. I thought we could overcome anything together, even death.

How stupid was that? The first time I really face death it checkmates me in one move.

...

...I need to get a grip or I’ll break down all over again when I have to say it in public. What did Shakespeare call it? Unmanning yourself. Yes, that’s what’ll happen. I’ll unman myself, I’ll sink to my knees and sob like a child in front of them all. I’ll...

I’ll...

I’ll go for something more neutral, that’s what I’ll do.

“And yet it should be noted…”

Can I really use that? Our own very private joke? Well, why not? No-one would know what that phrase meant to us, but even so...

We were...well, I wouldn’t call it fighting, exactly, more “discussing energetically”. We had a lot of “energetic discussions” over the years, didn’t we, First Officer? I can’t even recall what this one was about, why we were both so steamed up. Something to do with a landing party, I think, and my log entry. We were in furious disagreement and eventually you said in that over-formal, supercilious tone you sometimes adopted when you were particularly annoyed with me, “Captain, I will note it in my log, so it should be noted in yours.” And then you turned away from me, but before you could take a step I grabbed your wrist to stop you leaving. To this day I have no idea what came over me, but my hand shot out before I knew what was happening and I held you fast.

You stared at my hand in silence for a long moment while I stood there like an idiot, not knowing quite what to do with you now I had you, and then you said – and I teased you about it for years afterwards – you said, “Unhand me, sir”, like some medieval damsel in fear for her virtue. I couldn’t help it. I burst out laughing, which just made you stare even more, and I kept laughing and holding on to you until eventually I managed to take a breath and say, “Do you really want me to?” Then I began pulling you towards me, gently, like reeling in a reluctant fish. Remember?

Of course you remember. You never forget anything.

Anyway, I kept pulling and you kept moving towards me, your eyes locked with mine, almost as if I had you spellbound. It surprised me a little that you made no attempt to pull away, and that made me increasingly confident; up to that point I had been more than half afraid I had taken hold of a tiger by the tail.

And then, at last, we were chest to chest and in your husky struggling-with-strong- emotion voice you said, “What exactly do you want of me, sir?”, and you swallowed hard. Mesmerised, I watched your throat move and then I said, “I think you know what I want, Spock. I want you to love me.”

At that, your whole body relaxed, your face cleared and you said, “But, Jim, I already do” and you leaned forward and kissed me. Very expertly, as I recall, which was also something of a surprise. In fact, I was so completely taken aback that I just stood there for a moment with your mouth on mine, and then... well, and then we moved into the sleeping area and into my bed and it all got started. Boy, did it get started! It turned out that I really had taken hold of a tiger.

And thereafter, every time sex between us was even more spectacularly good than usual, one of us would turn to the other and say, “That should be noted in the log!” It got so that neither of us ever dared say it, or anything like it, while we were on duty in case I cracked up. As it was, I disgraced myself a couple of times; Chekov still doesn’t have a clue what he said to start me off!

So. Even in the midst of all this grief I can still summon a smile. What does that make me, I wonder?

You would have said, “It merely makes you human”, and you would have smiled.

I’m going to miss that funny little smile of yours.

“And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow…”

Sorrow? What a gentle, mild, mealy- mouthed word for this bone-deep anguish. There are so many better words to use; agony, misery, heartache, suffering, wretchedness…

Desolation.

But the use of such strong words, the display of such strong emotions, can upset people; even humans, sometimes, even at funerals. I have to try and keep things calm.

But, oh, it hurts, T’hy’la. It hurts so much.

+ -- 03:43 hrs – end -- +



+ -- 03: 57 hrs - working -- +

“And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world-”


It’s just past dawn down there now. Just past dawn in that fresh new world where in a few short hours his body will come to rest.

As good a place as any other to spend eternity, I guess.

“– a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish”

Our beloved comrade. My beloved friend. My dearest spouse. My lover. My love.

Always mine, in every way.

You know, I was never once jealous of the fact that you’d had other lovers. What had happened before you and I became ‘we’ never seemed to matter very much. What did matter, and what was always so precious to me, was that I was the only one who had ever made you feel truly loved.

It was late one night, not long after we’d first got together, when you told me that. We were both still in that hazy, crazy, can’t-wait-to-get-back-to-bed honeymoon phase and we had just finished making love for the second time that evening. I was more than half asleep when you suddenly pulled my hot, sticky body close up against yours and wrapped your arms tightly around me. I was rather grumpy at first because you’d woken me up, until you started to tell me exactly how much I meant to you. We hadn’t said very much to each other about that sort of thing up till then, and hearing such an outpouring of emotion in your quiet, measured tones, with not a wasted word or excess syllable, made me feel –

Well, you know exactly how it made me feel.

You know how much I loved you, T’hy’la.

I loved every part of you, every hard angle, every flat plane, every hair, every spot and blemish, every line and wrinkle and freckle. And you did have freckles, although you insisted on denying it. They were on your back: a little cluster over the left hip. I used to kiss them – when you’d let me – and run my tongue over them while we were making love. It made you wriggle every single time, and that made me do it even more, of course. I adored it when you wriggled; so deliciously undignified.

I loved your grave courtesy to the crew, and the little flashes of dry humour that so many of them failed to notice. I loved your fierce intelligence, the way you tilted your head when presented with an intriguing puzzle and the satisfied gleam in your eye when you solved it.

I loved the way your long back curved over your console as your fingers raced across the instruments, and the way you swung round in your chair to look across at me.

I loved the way you made love to me: confidently but with a wonder that didn’t diminish over the years, a wonder that meant you never saw how age was changing me.

And of course I loved the fact that you were such a superb officer. We worked together so perfectly, didn’t we? Anticipating each other with a practised ease. I could trust you with my ship, as I could trust no other. I loved your laserlike focus, your uncompromising professionalism, your calm in a crisis. You pulled me out of trouble more times than I can count.

Next time I’m in trouble you won’t be there, will you?

What the hell am I going to do then? What the hell am I going to do without you?

+ -- 04:18 hrs – end -- +



+ -- 04:32 hrs - working -- +


Computer, replay last entry.

+ -– working --+

Jeez, I can’t use any of that! I couldn’t possibly say one word of it, not in public. It’s far too intimate, far too personal for anyone else to hear, and I wouldn’t get through half of it without breaking down completely.

I’m crying again now, Goddamnit. I can’t even see the screen any more….

+ -- 04:37 hours – end -- +



+ -- 04:53 hours – working -- +

He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one and we will not debate his profound wisdom in these proceedings”


Even at the end, Spock lived up to the Vulcan ideal, that analytical, ever pragmatic way of living and, as it turns out, of dying. The needs of the many, he said, and the needs of the few.

Do I think that a form of profound wisdom? Maybe. He certainly thought so.

But it was always everyone else’s needs, wasn’t it Spock? Never your own – and not mine, either, at the last. Because I have needs too, you know; quite where did they figure into your neat little plan to save us all? Just how were my needs met by your abandoning me on the bridge while you went about destroying yourself? How were my needs met by being left behind?

If you’d been thinking of my needs you’d have let me do it instead, because it shouldn’t have been you in there, Captain, it should have been me. Do you hear me, you bastard, it should have been me!

I could damn you to hell for the rest of time, Spock, because that’s where you’ve left me. Right down in the stinking depths of hell for the rest of my life. What possible right did you have to do that to me? How dare you? How dare you leave me alone, you shit! You fucking –

Oh God, I don’t mean it. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry....

+ -- 04:59 hours – end -- +




+ -- 05:11 hours – working -- +

“Of my friend…”


My friend….

I remember so clearly the day we first met. I knew of him, of course, although our paths had never crossed. He had one impressive reputation, even then: brilliant, dedicated, frighteningly efficient and severe. I was rather wary of him.

Ha! That’s an understatement if ever I heard one. In truth, I was cursing my luck in inheriting a Vulcan. It was an added very tough challenge to an already long and daunting list of very tough challenges: a new ship, youngest ever starship captain, with the weight of expectation lying heavily on my shoulders. Half the ‘Fleet was envious and bitter, wanting me to fail, the other half was merely expecting me to. Although I wanted the Enterprise more than anything I had ever wanted, sometimes it scared the living daylights out of me; it thrilled me but, by God, it also made me sweat.

I loved every single minute of it.

And the calm centre of it all was you.

I soon realised that you were as wary of me as I was of you, perhaps even more so. You never told me what you thought of me when I came aboard, but I can guess: a brash young man, over-confident, even arrogant, with something of a reputation as a maverick. That reputation was undeserved – I may be unpredictable, but I’ve never been a maverick – but much of the rest was fairly accurate. You must have wondered what Command was up to, giving the best ship in the fleet to me.

Especially as, in so many ways, the Enterprise was yours long before she was mine – and you might even have kept her for yourself, had you wanted to. I used to wonder why you hadn’t fought for her, as I would have done, but instead you handed her over into my safekeeping with your usual grace, and watched her settle herself around my shoulders like a mantle.

And with your help, with your support and friendship, I wore her proudly. I loved her, protected her and fought for her. It made me strong, and very soon, with you at my side, I became everything I had ever wanted to be; a mature, powerful and quietly confident man, a superb commander, a true leader of men. I stood astride my own little world like a colossus.

Now it feels as if all that maturity, all that power and confidence, has been ripped away from me, catapulting me back to where I was all those years ago, before we met. Suddenly I feel exposed, abandoned, unsure, with an uncertain future trembling before me.

God help me, I feel so young….

+ -- 05:22 hours – END -- +



+ -- 05:33 hours – working -- +


I’m so tired, love. So tired.

“Of my friend, I can only say this…”

How can I possibly say what Spock was in just a few words?

Our dearest blood…

“Of all the souls….”

I’m not religious, never have been, and I’ve never believed in an afterlife. Reality, the solid here and now, is what forms and roots me. I have no idea whether there is such a thing as an eternal soul or whether Spock had one, but somehow... somehow, a part of me is oddly comforted by the thought that he might have done. I think I’d feel better if some small part of him, his essence, his katra, his soul – call it what you will – still survived somewhere. Otherwise that immense store of knowledge, that life experience, that magnificent intellect, all that nobility and sweetness of character – all of it would be gone, dissolved forever into the tainted air of that chamber. That can’t be right. That can’t be fair.

But then, whoever said life – or death, for that matter – was fair?

“Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most human.”

It’s ironic that although Spock always described himself as Vulcan, in all the most important ways he represented the human ideal, the height of achievement to which all we deeply flawed human beings aspire but so rarely attain.

He was always painfully honest – even to himself – and honourable, and intensely loyal, with a soaring spirit of curiosity and adventure, and enough raw passion in his heart to set fire to the furthest corners of this cold universe.

He was insulted by injustice; always prepared to be awkward (and he could he be very awkward when he put his mind to it!) to achieve a fair result, to make things come out right. He was a difficult and stubborn, irritatingly, aggravatingly wonderful man who had more than enough warmth and joy in him to keep my heart aflame for ten years and who, on a daily basis, carried a blazing torch for all that the Federation stands for, for all that we in the ‘Fleet stand for, and live for, and sometimes even die for.

. . .

There, it’s done. My final gift to him.

There is no more in me.

Computer, isolate tagged words and print.

+-- working -- +

Of course, when I stand out there and recite these few meagre sentences over your casket noone will really understand what I’m saying. To them, it’ll sound too simple, too plain, too... too emotionally sparse. They may even think me unfeeling. But what do I care? The place will be full, honour guard and all – the very least you deserve, God knows – but in my mind, you and I will be the only people there. The two of us will be together for one last time as I say my final farewell and send your soul out into the night.

You will know what I mean; you always know what I mean, even when I’m not sure myself. Of course, if you were standing here right now, you’d pretend you disapproved. I can just see you raising an expressive eyebrow and saying ‘Really, Admiral, I fail to see what I have done to be insulted in this manner’, but you would have understood what was behind the words and I think... I think you would have liked it. In the end, what else matters?

Now there is no more to be said, except... sleep well, my dearest love. Sleep well.

05:51 hours -- end –



“We are assembled here today to pay our final respects to our honoured dead. And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world - a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish.

He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings.

Of my friend, I can only say this; of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most human.”
You must login (register) to review.