We’re running with the shadows of the night,
So baby take my hand, it’ll be alright.
Surrender all your dreams to me tonight;
They’ll come true in the end.—Shadows of the Night, Pat Benatar
Jim woke in the arms of his new bond mate. He could feel the strength and warmth of Spock’s body pressed so close to his, no distance between them, no echoing vastness of space separating them. Jim smiled and drowsily rubbed his cheek against Spock’s chest, loving the contrast of the soft, almost velvety texture of the Vulcan’s skin and the crisp black hair that sprinkled his chest.
“You’re furry,” he murmured sleepily. “I like that about you.”
“As near as I can determine, you like everything about me.” Spock’s voice was tender and amused. It was funny, how when they’d first met, Jim couldn’t hear any emotion in Spock’s voice at all. The emotion was there, both in his voice and in his eyes. Jim could see the love in his eyes; it almost had tangible properties, like Jim could take it and hold it in his hand.
“I still can’t believe you defied the High Council for me,” Jim said, shivering slightly as he thought how close they’d come to being separated. He felt Spock’s arms tightened around him, felt Spock’s lips on his hair.
“I could do as they wished,” Spock whispered. “I could not be T’Pring’s bond mate as they required. You are my t’hy’la, the other half of my soul. I could not leave you.” Spock gently tilted Jim’s head up to that their eyes met and Jim could once again bathe himself in that warm, dark flood of love. “I could never leave you.” Spock bent and claimed his mate’s mouth in a long, deep kiss that went from tender to passionate in a heartbeat. They had made love only hours before, but Jim felt his arousal once again burning through him; he knew that Spock felt it too. They explored each other’s bodies with aching tenderness and wild desire, stroking the flames until they both exploded into ecstasy again. Jim knew he’d never want anyone else to touch him, ever again.
“No one ever will,” the dark chocolate voice promised him. He felt Spock’s lips moving against his flesh. “You are mine, beloved, mine for now and for all eternity.”
Jim smiled and fell back asleep, knowing that when he woke, he would awaken in Spock’s arms. Spock would be there. He would always be there.
McCoy walked into Sickbay. His head nurse, Christine Chapel, rose from her desk.
“Any change in the patient’s condition?” he asked.
She shook her head. “No, sir,” she replied quietly. “He seemed to wake up briefly, but he didn’t respond to me or the orderly, and he’s unconscious again.” She laid a gentle hand on his arm, knowing just how much McCoy was suffering. Christine Chapel knew all about unrequited love and blighted hopes. “He’s not the least bit…agitated,” she said softly. “He’s not in any pain. He seems…happy.”
McCoy sighed. “I know. I’ll check on him later.” He turned and walked into his office, sitting down at his desk and making the call he knew he had to make. In minutes, he was connected with Chris Pike at Starfleet Command.
“Doctor.” Pike nodded to him. “Thank you for calling.” He indicated the folder on his desk. “I’ve read your report, but I still have questions.” He looked across the vastness of space at McCoy, thinking the doctor looked much older than his thirty-four years. “What happened, Len?” Pike asked quietly yet urgently. “How did this happen?”
McCoy sighed. “I’m not sure,” he admitted. He looked down at his desk. “I guess it really started six months ago, when Commander Spock resigned his commission and went home to Vulcan.”
“I remember,” Chris replied, his own face somber. “He wanted to return to the new colony and marry, do his part to re-build his race.”
McCoy nodded. “Yes. As I understand it, he and his mate, T’Pring, had been betrothed as children. Most Vulcans are, I guess. Once he turned thirty, he decided it was time to marry, and of course, with the new laws regarding the re-establishment of the Vulcan race, Command had to let him resign.”
Pike nodded. “But what did that have to do with Jim Kirk? I know he and Spock worked well together; I gather from the occasional conversation that I had with Jim that they were even becoming friends.”
“It was…more than friendship,” McCoy admitted, “at least on Jim’s part.” He swallowed back his own pain. Leonard McCoy had been quietly, hopelessly in love with Jim Kirk for years, almost from the day they’d met. Jim loved him, too, but as a friend, a brother, a rock to lean on, not as McCoy wanted to be loved. He’d buried that pain, but occasionally, as now, it resurfaced, threatening to choke him.
Pike looked through the screen at the CMO. “So what happened?” he asked again.
McCoy sighed. “Jim was…in love with Spock, or at least he thought he was,” he said. “When Spock left, it…it hurt Jim deeply. Oh, he did his job, but it was obvious to me and to anyone he was close to that he was depressed. He lost interest in friends and activities, lost weight, the whole pathology. I prescribed an anti-depressant and set him up with a counselor. He was making progress, or at least I thought he was.” McCoy sighed again and rubbed his aching forehead. “Then…then we got the news from New Vulcan.”
“Yes.” Pike’s own face wore a look of sadness; he had admired Spock and worked closely with him. “That was a punch in the gut.”
One month earlier, an outbreak of a rare lung fever had swept across New Vulcan, brought by a Rigellian freighter with a sick crew. More than nine hundred Vulcans had died, among them, the former Commander Spock of Starfleet and his new wife, T’Pring. The losses had devastated the fledging colony, which had already endured so much.
“When Jim got the news,” McCoy continued quietly, “it…it tore him apart. He reacted as anyone would upon learning of the death of a close friend. He was…very upset.” McCoy didn’t describe the wild, almost hysterical weeping, the deep, anguished sobs that had shook Jim for hours. He’d stayed with Jim in his cabin, holding him close all night long, feeling Jim’s tears soak through his shirt, hearing Jim call Spock’s name over and over as McCoy tried to soothe him.
“And you didn’t think the grief was…excessive?” Pike asked.
McCoy looked at his superior, pain in his eyes. “Who’s to say what’s excessive?” He shook his head. “It was obviously a serious blow, but I thought Jim would mourn and then gradually accept it, like we all accept losses in our lives.”
“But he didn’t.”
“No,” McCoy replied, face grim. “He didn’t. He started talking to Spock, everywhere, all the time, on duty, off duty, it didn’t matter. He asked him his opinions on command decisions, told him what movie was playing in Main Rec, played chess against himself and then laughed and scolded Spock for beating him.”
“And that’s when you relieved him of command,” Pike said quietly.
McCoy spread his hands. “What else could I do?” he asked. “He was plainly in no condition to command a starship. But that…losing his command caused a complete mental break.” McCoy straightened in his chair and continued in formal clinical tones. “Patient lapsed into a semi-conscious state, where he has remained. He does not respond to medication or attempts at therapeutic intervention. He no longer feeds or cares for himself, necessitating IVs and personal hygiene care from an orderly. He continues to carry on long conversations with Commander Spock and apparently believes that Spock is ‘here’ with him. I am keeping him in a private room in Sickbay, under constant observation. As per Command’s orders, the Enterprise is proceeding back to Earth so that Captain Kirk can be committed to a psychiatric hospital and the Enterprise can receive a new commanding officer.”
“Oh, God,” Chris Pike said softly. “Len, how did it come to this?”
“I don’t know, Chris,” McCoy said, equally quiet. “But I’m all out of ideas, and every day that passes, Jim Kirk is moving further away from us all.”
“I was so afraid,” Jim whispered in the shelter of Spock’s arms.
”Why, t’hy’la?” Spock’s hand gently moved across his hair.
“When you…when you left,” Jim said, pushing the words past the lump in his throat. “I was sure I’d never see you again. Old Spock had told me that we were destined to be together, that you’d come back to me, but I didn’t believe him; I thought he was wrong.”
“I am so sorry,” Spock murmured. “I never should have left you, ashaya. I am grieved that I caused you such pain. But I did not understand. I did not realize we were t’hy’la. Now, however, I do understand.” His warm, agile fingers massaged Jim’s neck, stroked down his back as Jim arched into his touch. “I understand that we are one,” Spock murmured, “and we will never be parted again. No one and nothing will take you from me now.”
“I love you,” Jim whispered against Spock’s lips as they began to rouse each other yet again.
McCoy stepped into Jim’s room just as the orderly was placing the limp body, clothed in a clean sleep shirt, back onto the freshly-made bunk.
“Was he sick?” McCoy asked. The orderly shook his head.
“No; he had another nocturnal emission.”
McCoy nodded without further comment; these unconscious orgasms were a daily occurrence, often twice a day.
“Why don’t you take a break?” he suggested. “I’ll sit with the captain for a time.
The orderly nodded and gathered up the soiled laundry, leaving the room as McCoy sat down in the chair by Jim’s bed. He reached out and took the limp hand in his, looking at the face on the pillow. Jim’s eyes were closed, but McCoy could see the rapid movement beneath the eyelids. There was a slight smile on Jim’s face, and he was whispering again. McCoy couldn’t catch all of it, but it didn’t matter. He heard the word ‘Spock,’ and he knew what Jim was seeing.
“Oh, Jim,” Bones whispered, caressing the unresponsive hand he held. He had to keep trying, had to make the attempt to reach his friend’s mind, to make him understand.
“Jim,” he said softly. “Spock’s gone. He’s not here. He’s not here.” Bones squeezed the hand he held. “I know you still believe, but it’s just not so. You’ve got to let him go. Whether you’re dreaming or grieving, you’ve got to accept that he’s gone. I know that somewhere inside you know. He’s not here.”
Jim only smiled and murmured Spock’s name.
“Spock, I don’t know why Bones is so upset,” Jim said, observing his friend sitting by his side, tears in the deep blue eyes.
“He does not understand,” Spock replied gently. “He does not know what we have.” He looked lovingly into Jim’s eyes. “And he loves you, you know,” Spock continued softly.
“No! Really?” Jim said. He looked at McCoy again. “Poor Bones,” he said quietly. “No wonder he’s so upset” He hugged Spock close. “I do love him; he’s like a brother to me. But you’re the only one I want.” He sighed, laying his head on Spock’s shoulder. “Bones will have to learn to accept that.”
“Why are we diverting to Starbase Twenty-Three?” McCoy asked Pike when he called the next day.
“Because you need to pick up a passenger,” Pike replied. “His name is Selik; he’s some kind of Vulcan mind healer. He insists that he can help Jim.”
“Look,” McCoy retorted, “I want Jim to be well, but resorting to Vulcan voodoo…”
“Do you have a better suggestion?” Pike asked, anger coloring his voice. He lowered his voice. “If you make it back to Earth with Jim in this condition, he’ll disappear into some comfortable institution for the rest of his life. Is that what you want for him, Len? Is that what he would want?”
McCoy sighed, shoulders slumping. “No,” he replied. “Of course that’s not what I want. But I don’t know anything about this Selik. How do we know he can be trusted?”
“Both High Councilor T’Pau and Sarek, Spock’s father, vouched for this Selik to me,” Pike replied. “It can’t hurt to try, Len. I don’t want to be flippant, but if Jim’s got a Vulcan on the brain, maybe another Vulcan can do something we can’t.”
“T’hy’la, I need you to be brave.” Spock’s hand stroked Jim’s forehead.
“What’s wrong?” Jim asked.
“Selik is coming,” Spock replied gently. “He is going to try to separate us. He will try to persuade you that I am not here, that you are imagining my presence.”
“But why?” Jim asked plaintively, winding his arms around Spock’s neck, feeling the solid warmth of his beloved’s chest and thighs pressed against his flesh, the sure strength of Spock’s arms clasping him.
“You must be strong,” Spock insisted, kissing Jim’s cheek. “Do not let them tear us apart.”
“I won’t, beloved.” Jim kissed him, caressed him, felt the reality of Spock all through his own body. “I won’t let them take you away from me.”
McCoy looked at the elderly Vulcan who had beamed aboard and arrived in his Sickbay. Dressed in a fawn traveling robe and cloak, the old man looked around the Sickbay as if he were seeing a home he had visited frequently, many years ago. “Is Jim here?” he asked, his voice, for some reason, sounding vaguely familiar to McCoy’s ears.
“He’s in a private room. I’ll take you,” McCoy replied.
“I will need to be alone with him,” Selik said calmly. “Mind healing is very delicate work.”
“Don’t I know it?” McCoy muttered. He examined the old Vulcan with a jaundiced eye. “I Hope you know what the Hell you’re doing,” he said.
“I promise you, I will do everything I can for Jim, to the upmost of my strength,” the Vulcan elder replied.
Selik of New Vulcan, Spock of Vulcan in another time, looked at the young man lying on the bed, his eyes closed, a slight smile on his thin, white face. Selik quickly crossed the room to Jim’s side, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
“Oh, Jim,” he whispered. “How came we here? This was not supposed to be, none of it. How did it go wrong?” Selik shook his head at the self-evident foolishness of asking how things could go so wrong when he had ample evidence of just how wrong they could be—his world destroyed, most of his people dead, his younger counterpart first happily bonded to T’Pring and now dead only months after his 30th birthday, while Selik went on and on, old and tired and yet not able to lay down his burdens because so many needed him. As Jim, this Jim, needed him now, Selik reminded himself. He took a deep breath and settled himself on the bed, reaching out to touch Jim’s face with tired old hands that shook, thin, worn fingers that were always cold now.
“My mind to your mind,” he murmured. “My thoughts to your thoughts.”
It was a long battle; Jim Kirk had a most dynamic mind, and a will of steel. But Selik’s mind was equally dynamic, and his will was titanium-strong. Slowly, painfully, Selik gathered the threads of Jim Kirk’s being and wove them into the pattern they had once possessed, picking apart Jim’s delusions, destroying the fabric of the world Jim had inhabited ever since Spock had left.
Finally, Jim’s eyes opened, and he looked up into the kind, wise, worn old face, tears streaming from his eyes. “Why?” Jim gasped hoarsely, brokenly. “Why did you bring me back? Why didn’t you leave us together?”
Selik had not wept when his world had exploded, but there were tears in his eyes now. “I had to, Jim,” he whispered. “I had to bring you back. I could not leave you to madness. I am sorry, so sorry.” He gathered Jim into his arms. The human clung to him, still weeping.
“Oh, God,” Jim sobbed. “He’s gone! You promised me; you swore that one day he’d realize we were t’hy’la, that he’d come back to me. You promised!”
“I know,” Selik whispered. “He would have, Jim. I swear. He would have realized. I think he was already beginning to feel the pull of the bond between you. But he did not have time. The fever took him before he could understand. He would have loved you; he would have come back. But he cannot now. It is too late.”
“He…he would have loved me,” Jim whispered. “He would have…” He sobbed himself to sleep in the old Vulcan’s embrace.
Jim and McCoy stood in the Transporter Room, bidding Selik farewell. Jim stepped forward and gave the old Vulcan a quick, hard hug.
“Thank you,” he whispered into the pointed ear. “Thank you for helping me.”
Selik hugged him back. “I am only sorry I could not do more,” he murmured. He took a step back, looking into the calm, crystal blue eyes. “Are you sure you will be all right, Jim?”
Jim nodded. “I will,” he replied gently. “I understand now; I can’t live in a dream.”
“Jim, are you sure you want to be alone tonight?” McCoy asked.
Jim nodded. “I’m sure, Bones,” he replied. “I can’t spend the rest of my life in Sickbay.” He gave his friend a reassuring smile, the first real smile Bones had seen in months. “I’ll be fine,” he said. “You can come pick me up for breakfast in the morning.” He grinned, and for one instant, McCoy saw the brash young Jim Kirk he’d fallen in love with. “I’ve lost enough weight that you can’t complain if I have waffles and bacon for breakfast, now can you?”
Bones grinned back, clapping Jim on the shoulder. “Nope; you can even have seconds. Good night, Jim.”
“Good night, Bones.” Jim turned to go into his cabin. “Oh, Bones?”
McCoy turned back. “Yes, Jim?”
“Thanks,” Jim said softly. “Thanks for always being there for me. You’ve been…more than a friend to me, and I appreciate it.”
McCoy felt warmth spread through him. Maybe, just maybe, Jim would someday heal enough to give McCoy a chance with his heart. It wouldn’t happen overnight, but he’d wait. He was good at waiting. “You’re very welcome, Jim,” he replied gently. “Good night.”
Jim woke from the best, soundest sleep he’d had in months. He looked up as the door to his quarters opened and Spock walked in, swiftly moving across the room to meet Jim halfway as the human threw himself into his love’s arms.
“It worked!” Jim was jubilant. “You were right, love. It worked.”
“T’hy’la.” Spock buried his face in Jim’s neck. “I am so relieved we are together again.”
“It’s all right,” Jim whispered, holding Spock close. “You said it, and it’s true; they can’t separate us, never again.”
Spock shifted in Jim’s embrace and took his hand, bringing it to his mouth, letting his lips caress the lines that were already fading from Jim’s wrist. “Thanks to your bravery, t’hy’la,” he said softly, “we will always be together now.”
Tears in his eyes, Leonard McCoy stood over the body of his captain, his friend, his secret love. Of course, Jim’s quarters had been thoroughly searched before McCoy allowed him back into them, but no one had missed the laser scalpel Jim had stolen from the medical supplies in McCoy’s office—not until it was too late. The blood was everywhere, but the white, thin face on the pillow was unmarked and peaceful, a slight smile on its lips. Jim Kirk was dead.
“Bones is so sad,” Jim observed. He and Spock were seated on a sun-warmed rock on Vulcan, the original Vulcan, watching the sehlat cubs playing in the valley below. The very best part of being dead, Jim had decided, was that you could go anywhere you wished, any time you wished, with no delay or restrictions. He and Spock spent a great deal of time on Vulcan, because Spock liked to visit his mother. That was another great thing about being dead; you could see whoever you wanted to see. Jim had finally met his father, and they were becoming great friends. But Jim hadn’t forgotten his friends. He frequently checked in on the Enterprise and its crew.
“He does not understand, t’hy’la,” Spock replied, speaking about McCoy. “He believes that death is an ending, not a beginning. He believes that you are gone from him forever, and that your sacrifice was the decision of an unbalanced mind, not a way for us to be as one.” Spock gently kissed the glossy head that lay so trustingly on his shoulder. “He will learn,” Spock assured Jim. “He will learn—and very soon.”
Two months later:
News Alert, Federation News Network
“It is with sorrow that Starfleet Command reports the destruction of the Federation Starship the USS Enterprise, which was destroyed during a battle with the Klingon Imperial Fleet near the planet of Organia. Starfleet Command confirms the ship’s destruction. There were no survivors.”