He had meant to go back ever since leaving the place, and after all these years, it was strange to finally feel the ground of Planet Genesis under his feet. He had lost count of how many times he had imagined it now, but if he concentrated, he could at least say how long – four years, five months, thirteen days, more or less. Spock would have been able to tell him exactly.
As if to test if the ground was really solid and not another fantasy, he took a single step. The gravitation was much like that of earth, perhaps a little lower, he noticed as his foot connected with the soil. The atmosphere was completely breathable. He wished he had received the readings of all these things before beaming down; it was strange to be on an alien planet where he did not know these things. Still, there were no sounds of tricorders around him and no security guards following their tail. There was only him, a man with an aged mind and jaded memories, dressed in civilian clothing standing in the middle of a forest on an uninhabited planet, and above him there was no star-ship, but only a small shuttle he had hired to an extortionate price. His initial wish to be in control subsided with every breath of the alien air. The sun which was just as old as the planet shone through the leaves above him, and he savoured the silence. At last, he thought, trying to reach a bit of him which did no longer exist. At last I’m here.
He started to walk, careful in the terrain. As he passed through the forest, he let his hands slide over the tree-trunks, trying to sense life in them. It was a romantic notion, but he imagined that within every one of these plants, Spock resided. This planet and his decision to return to it one day had been the only thing which had kept Kirk sane the past few years. He would imagine the breeze on his face, the sound of the forest and the majestic mountains, making and remaking the landscapes in his mind. Genesis seemed a formable mass as it was almost man-made, and making up different versions of it seemed easier than with other places.
In some sense, his near-obsession with this planet was curious. The events leading up to its making had cost him everything he held dear. The greatest loss had come first, when Spock had sacrificed himself to let them survive the detonation of the Genesis device. His death had seemed all-encompassing, and it was not until they returned to Earth he realised there was much more to lose.
First Bones had gone mad. Even if Chapel had explained that it was a complicated form of psychosis triggered by exhaustion, Kirk could not think of it in any way other than pure madness, because his friend was completely changed by the condition, as if he were possessed. There was something unsettling with everything about him, who had always been so stable and safe. The way he pronounced Kirk’s name made him feel a strange tug in the severed bond. At last they had interned him, and it seemed that he would have to spend the rest of his life in a drug-induced comatose state. Kirk had not visited him for over a year; every time he had, he had thought he had thought he saw something hauntingly familiar in the doctor’s eyes, and it only served to scare him.
As if it had not been enough, Command took the Enterprise away from him again. It would almost have been bearable if they had given her to someone else, whom he could begrudge the honour, but instead they had decommissioned her. He had watched as they had taken her into dry-dock and started to disassemble her, something which rather seemed like dismemberment in his eyes. When they started ripping off the tritanium shell, he had ordered the navigator to leave the scene. As they sped away from her, his hands had been shaking and there was little he could do to hide his tears. Upon coming back to his apartment, he had out of habit gone into kitchen and, in an attempt to calm himself, made one cup of coffee and one cup of Vulcan spice tea. It was not until he came into the living room and spotted the framed photograph of his bondmate, which he carried between home and the office every day, that he realised that there was no one to give the tea to. He was completely alone.
Now he could not see how he survived the subsequent months or indeed years. Left with only acquaintances he drew into himself, not wanting to discuss what had happened. All the time a scream seemed to go on inside him, emanating from the bond and shattering his thoughts. Command gave him a pure desk-job and a promotion, as if it would comfort him. Half a year later, they had him put on medical leave for four months. The doctors claimed it was post-traumatic stress, depression or pure inability to accept change. He did not heed them, because they could not understand how deeply the wound which had been inflicted went. When he was cleared for duty again, he came back grudgingly. It seemed like the stars shone less brightly and space was a hostile place, and he would rather not have part in sending anyone out into it. Even happy news, like when Saavik announced that she was planning to marry his son, did not affect him. All that seemed to keep his sanity, or what was left of it, was the thought of Planet Genesis, the world which had cost him all this, the place which was founded on his t’hy’la’s death.
Now when he walked in it and found that it was not a figment of his imagination, he seemed at peace for the first time since he had lost Spock. That peace was alike to oblivion, as if something had lifted his worries and left nothing in their stead. He still felt the bond, but the pain it gave him seemed strangely welcome, because it reminded him of the reason why he was here. As he descended into a valley, noticing that the vegetation was changing in character, he watched the sky. It was empty apart from the huge sun, which vaguely reminded him of T’Kuht. Following the edge of the forest, he felt the climate turn more tropical even as he walked. With every step, he imagined that some part of Spock which existed in the ground could feel him. He started speaking to him in his mind, something which had been natural four years ago but since then had only become a bad habit, as continuing to speak when the only other person in the room present has left. I wonder if you can hear me here – if some part of your essence exists in this place. You would enjoy it, I’m sure. Perhaps you are somewhere entirely different – perhaps you don’t even exist. I would like you to be here, though. It would be comforting to know you have such a beautiful resting-place.
As he passed through one of the valleys, he thought he saw something which resembled bones a little way away. He decided not to investigate it, as the notion was laughable; there was no animal life on Genesis. It was a strange thought that he was the only creature to breathe this atmosphere and walk this soil. Completely alone – everywhere but here. Are you with me, t’hy’la? There was no answer, but the memory of another’s mind against his was suddenly so strong it could have been real. For what felt like the first time since Spock’s death, he smiled. This world made him feel young, because it reminded him of the majesty of the universe. He had outlived Spock, but still Spock had been the one who had achieved the most in aiding the birth of this world, even by his death.
Kirk had not decided whether he would leave or not. He continued walking, not yet ready to make the decision. He wanted to see as much of this world as he could first. All he sought was forgetfulness, where Spock’s radiation-burnt face did not overshadow the memory of his beautiful features and where the thought of McCoy’s maddened look did not make him feel that there was something crucial he had missed – something important he had not done, as if there was someone he had left behind. This was the closest to the serenity he had found in Spock’s arms he had felt since he had lost him. Turning his mind to the silence, he spoke.
T’hy’la, are you with me?