The assistant adjutant whatever escorted Kirk to Ambassador Sarek’s office on Vulcan. It was only one day ago that Sarek and a Healer had given Kirk the prognosis for Spock’s recovery. One day. One eon. One second. Kirk had little sensation of time any more.
Sarek was doing paperwork, when Kirk stood at attention across the desk from him. “Ambassador.” When Sarek looked up, he jerked just a tiny, tiny bit, to see Kirk in full uniform. And then his eyes widened when he noticed the rank.
“Well. I see it is now Admiral Kirk.”
Sarek also noted the shadows, the deepened facial lines, and the accented tendons indicative of a tightly-clenched jaw. Kirk was gritting his teeth so hard, his chin was slightly off center.
“Has been transferred to Gol.”
Kirk whipped his head to the side, as if to look out the window. Sarek could see the struggle for control in his irregular breathing and his exaggerated swallowing. He assumed the jaw-clenching had increased, as well, for he could hear the grinding of Kirk’s back molars. After several long moments, Kirk faced Sarek again. “I had …hoped to see him before the transfer.”
“I am sorry. Scans indicated that his prescient center was becoming more and more friable. You could not be reached and so I authorized it.”
Deep sigh. “I have been in holoconferences with Starfleet Command for almost twelve hours.” He looked toward the window again. “I have new orders.”
He faced Sarek again. “A shuttle is picking me up in forty-five minutes. I have been appointed the head of an advisory committee.” Distaste washed Kirk’s face.
“Deep space, out by the Gamma Quadrant. Little place called Bajor.”
Sarek slapped his hands hard on the desktop and practically leaped to his feet. “BAJOR?”
“Scuttlebutt is coming in that the Cardassians have invited themselves to a massacre. Bajor isn’t even a member of the Federation, and our policy of non-interference means we can’t stop it if that’s true. Look, don’t touch. Hence the advisor position.”
Sarek tried to keep himself from shaking visibly. “Kirk, Bajor is three weeks’ travel time from here!”
Misery met misery as they both stared at each other for long seconds.
“I was chosen for the job because of my,” and here, Kirk sighed, “first-hand experience with the holocaust on Tarsus IV.”
A stab of psychic pain lanced through Sarek, but it was quickly shut down. He studied Kirk, and saw the increased tightening of his jaw. “He must be blocking,” thought Sarek to himself, “but at what horrible cost?”
Kirk had glanced at the ceiling, and the gaze that he brought back to meet with Sarek’s was controlled and icy. “Subspace communication has quite a lag time between here and Bajor, but I would greatly appreciate you keeping me apprised of Spock’s…health.”
“I don’t know how long the assignment will last. Three months, six months, a year…no one can say.”
“I do understand, James.”
The brittle control finally snapped, and Kirk sagged back into the chair behind him. “I don’t want to leave him!” Sarek mirrored the action by sitting down heavily in his desk chair. “I feel so helpless here on New Vulcan. Yet by following orders, I’m essentially abandoning him.”
Pain-filled eyes looked up.
“Do you have a sense of Spock through the bond?”
Kirk’s voice cracked. “Barely.”
Sarek steepled his hands in front of himself and the gesture was so reminiscent of Spock that Kirk swore his heart was shredding in his chest.
“It is imperative that you stay connected through the bond. Encourage the sense of Spock, reach out to him, coax him to yourself.”
“I’m going to be halfway across the galaxy from him!”
Sarek gave an infinitesimal head shake. “No. Think of the bond transcending our concept of space and time. There is no distance, there is no dimension. This is the one thing you can do for Spock that no one else can. And this is the one thing that can truly help him heal.”
Kirk’s chronometer pinged. “I have to be at the transport center now.” They both stood.
Sarek offered the ta’al. “Live long and prosper, my son.”
Kirk began to offer the ta’al in return, but instead dropped his arm, turned, and left the room.