Kirk was on the bridge of the Enterprise playing an awful game of cat and mouse with an enemy vessel. In front of him sat Sulu and Chekov. Both skilled at their stations, Chekov was barely out of Starfleet Academy.
The enemy vessel uncloaked and fired directly at the Enterprise. “Hard to starboard Mr. Sulu,” he commanded.
The ship turned violently to the right however the missile sought the ship causing a jolt upon impact that threw the entire crew out of their seats. Kirk pulled himself back up into his chair, jammed his finger into the comm button and stammered, “Scotty, damage report.”
“The shields cannot take another hit like that captain,” Scotty replied.
Just then the enemy ship fired again and the torpedo was aimed clearly at the center of the ship. When it hit, part of the bridge exploded, a piece of shrapnel striking Kirk in the head. As the rest of the crew darted to the turbolift he ordered Scotty to switch to auxiliary control as he struggled from his chair.
A cut on his forehead bled profusely, obscuring his vision. His head pounded as he struggled toward the lift. He was unsure if he’d make it until strong hands grabbed him, slipping Kirk’s arm over his shoulder and raising him to his feet. He gripped the blue velour of the science tunic as he was led to safety. The deep voice assured him, “You will be all right.”
As his head felt like it was exploding he was encircled by familiar arms. He buried his face in the warm shoulder and muttered, “Spock, I need you. Don’t leave me.”
“I need you too,” Spock replied and held him tighter as parts of the ship ruptured around them. “I will not leave you.”
Kirk woke in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, his heart pounding. Shaken from the nightmare he rolled over and grasped for Spock only to find he was alone. For just a moment he was confused but then he remembered the battle with Khan, the U.S.S. Reliant and worst of all, the radiation chamber. His heart sank and tears came to his eyes.
After a brief trip to the bathroom he returned to bed and looked at Spock’s pillow. The pillow still smelled heavily of the scent of Vulcan soap and shampoo. Kirk grabbed the pillow and held it close breathing deeply of the essence of his lost love. He wasn’t sure how he’d ever done without Spock, nor was he sure he ever could.
Barely six hours earlier, Kirk stood in the engine room.
“Admiral, the decontamination process is complete,” Mr. Scott explained.
Kirk drew in a deep breath, “Then open the door. Let’s get him out of there.”
Admiral Kirk had ordered the engineering department be cleared. The only people who remained were a handful of engineers along with Dr. McCoy and Dr. Chapel who stood by with a sickbay cart ready.
Grimly Montgomery Scott approached the door to the radiation chamber. Behind the clear revolving door lay the lifeless body of the man Admiral Kirk had vowed many years ago to spend his life with. Scotty took in a deep breath and pressed the button to open the door. As the door opened the lifeless form fell to the deck with a thud.
Dr. McCoy looked up at Dr. Chapel. “Help me get him on the cart.”
Kirk stepped up to the radiation chamber, his eyes full of tears. “Please, allow me.”
Dr. McCoy and Dr. Chapel looked at each other before Dr. McCoy agreed, “All right.”
Kirk bent down to the lifeless body of his love. Kirk slipped his arms around Spock’s shoulders while Dr. McCoy grabbed his legs. As the pair lifted him onto the cart Kirk whispered into a pointed ear, “It’s okay Spock, I’ve got you.”
Once Spock was placed on the cart Kirk stroked his bangs briefly before Dr. Chapel covered him with a sickbay sheet. Grimly he walked alongside the cart as it was wheeled to sickbay. It was no secret who was being taken to sickbay for the last time. Several crewmembers who passed by did what they could to hide their grief and distress. Hands were wrung together, bottom lips were bit, and faces turned away.
After their arrival in sickbay Dr. McCoy removed the sickbay sheet before he and Dr. Chapel hoisted Spock from the cart to the exam table. McCoy looked up at Jim sadly and explained, “I’m sorry Jim but you know Starfleet requires a full autopsy and pathology report.”
“I understand,” he nodded. “Bones, if you don’t mind, would you give me a few minutes.”
“Of course, take all the time you need.” He quietly stepped out of the room.
In the privacy of the empty room Kirk gazed over Spock’s lifeless form. His face and hands covered in radiation burns that must have been excruciating. Given that Spock had walked into the glass and had clearly feigned eye contact the radiation must have blinded him as well.
“I should have climbed into that radiation chamber and died with you,” Kirk whispered. He ran his fingers over Spock’s upswept eyebrows and pointed ears. He carefully picked up Spock’s burned hand and held it to his face before he dropped his head on his motionless chest. With no one else around he started crying uncontrollably.
Outside the room in the corridor Dr. McCoy paced nervously by the door. It wasn’t until Scotty came by nearly an hour later to ask about Kirk that Dr. McCoy grumbled, “I’ve got to get him out of there.”
With a lot of compassion and convincing, Dr. McCoy and Scotty managed to get Kirk to leave the sickbay. With an effort Kirk reluctantly covered Spock’s face with the sickbay sheet and walked away from what remained of the man he’d pledged to spend his life with.