Fandom: Interludes in and a sequel to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Disclaimers: Paramount et cetera et cetera.
Summary: Kirk founds out exactly what Spock remembers after the fal-tor-pan. Originally published in the print fanzine Legacy Volume 1, July 2007, edited by Jenna Sinclair.
Beta & Thanks: With thanks to my editor, Jenna Sinclair, and my betas J S Cavalcante and Muriel Perun. Thanks also to Lyrastar for the inspiration.
Cool air drifted across Kirk’s skin. The contrast between the ferocious heat less than a meter away and the oasis where he now stood was like a knife-slice, shocking in its sudden delineation of boundary.
A breeze rustled through the waneti bush, separating some of the tiny white blossoms from their stems and strewing them on the ground. From where Kirk stood in the gazebo, which was nestled in the furthest curve of Amanda’s enclosed garden, he could see the thin branches ripple in the hot wind. He remained safe in the shadows, protected from the fierceness of the late morning Vulcan sun. The cool air soothing his skin wasn’t simply the result of the shade the arched ceiling provided. Rather, the ceiling contained a cooling unit, providing a welcome respite from the heat that had voraciously sucked moisture from his skin, his lips, his eyes.
The unrelenting heat had stolen his tears as well.
His past, destroyed. His future, sacrificed.
He had always lived in the present. It was habit to continue doing so, since all other options were gone.
Dry-eyed, he kept his gaze focused on the doorway to Amanda’s private office. A mosaic pathway, gleaming crystals embedded in the grey and sand-beige flagstones, snaked its way from that doorway to where he stood. The path wound its way artfully close to carefully-placed native plants, yet it remained a thing separate from the expanse of red bare earth surrounding it, as careful in its definition of what it was as what it was not. Artificial, built to dissipate heat, it contained its own cooling unit to allow the comfortable passage of humans, able to almost completely dispel the furnace-blast of Vulcan summer air. Here, in the cool and shade of the gazebo, he could have been standing in a garden on Earth.
Amanda, her trim form gleaming in the whiteness of her veil and robes, walked toward him, her small hands carrying a laden tray. She’d refused his earlier offer of help with the tray; she’d sent him ahead when the comm bell rang.
He had paused at the tutelage room on his way to the outer door, had listened as the computer quizzed Spock, had heard Spock’s dispassionate answers.
He had watched for long moments, but Spock had never acknowledged his presence, and, finally, he’d remembered his original goal and gone outside.
Amanda joined him in the shade. Another gust of wind scattered white waneti blossoms across the gazebo’s floor. They sifted and moved around Amanda’s feet as she walked toward the table. She glanced down, then over to the parent plant. "Lovely, aren’t they? I’m glad to be here at home while they’re in bloom. I wasn’t here the last time. They won’t blossom again for another decade."
She settled the tray on the white faux-stone table. Her hands efficiently opened the carrier box and removed an old-fashioned pitcher and two tall thick glasses.
She poured, and the clink of real ice rattled real glass. She smiled—a gesture as rare as rain on Vulcan, but it was forgivable here, alone, with him. "Have a seat, Jim, please."
"Thank you." Sitting down on the bench, he accepted the glass she handed him. He felt the ghost of some emotion as his hand closed around the cool solid glass. His mother had had a set of glasses like this, all those years ago on Earth. She had served lemonade then, in those long summer days. Usually, he’d gulped it down. He’d always been impatient in those days, eager to head right back into explorations and adventures, or even chores or tasks. He always wanted to be doing things, making plans or just running free for a few precious moments.
He’d always been impatient for the future.
Amanda’s glasses held iced tea, Bones’ favorite non-alcoholic drink. He wished, for a passing second, that the doctor was with them.
"I asked Spock to come see you. He didn’t see the logic of interrupting his studies. He will join us as soon as he completes the hyperdimensional physics module." Her voice was calm. Her eyes betrayed pain.
"Do you think there’s anything left? Of the Spock we knew before?"
One small fingertip traced an abstract pattern on the tabletop. "I want to believe there is."
"I watched him, at his studies. His memory seems excellent."
"Yes. He remembers everything he learns. He spent some time last night discussing mathematical progressions and music theory. He’s studying Varese, Schoenburg, Cage, T’zerik, Sortel. He remembers the tiniest details—" Her voice broke; sudden tears appeared in her eyes. "But he has shown no interest in actually playing music. He hasn’t touched an instrument yet. I brought out his old lyre, and all he did was comment on where and how it was manufactured. He said that he’d chosen those specific Terran composers for further study because of their conscious attempt to remove subjectivity and emotional elements from music."
"They tried to take emotion out of music? You’re joking."
"No. I’m afraid not. There is a long tradition here, of course, of analyzing music in strictly mathematical terms. Before…Spock preferred other composers. He would never have admitted it, but all his favorite music was, frankly…filled with emotion. Now…even with music, he’s focused on logic, mathematics, facts, figures…but no feeling. T’Lar, of course, approved his study choices."
He covered her hand with his own. Her fingers went still.
She drew in a deep breath. "What a miracle this all is." She withdrew her hand from Kirk’s touch and offered him a tentative smile. "Thank you for giving me back my son."
"I wish…." He stopped. I wish I had been able to give you all of him back….
"I know." She closed her eyes briefly. "I’m angry with myself, for feeling ungrateful. For being greedy. He’s alive. But I want more. I want my son back. All of him. Not this perfect Vulcan shell. Master T’Lar expressed her pleasure with his progress. She believes he will be able to remember everything about his life…before." Her lips twisted in a bitter smile. "She said they were most careful to search for all his memories. But it wouldn’t have been logical for them to search for his emotions, would it?"
"Do you think she would—deliberately—have ignored that part of him?"
"I don’t know, Jim." She stared at the table’s surface. "You do have to know what you’re looking for in order to find it. But it was their opportunity to turn him into a perfect Vulcan." She blinked, then brushed her fingertips against the back of his hand. "I’ll go see if he’s finished with his study module." She didn’t bother disguising the roughness in her voice.
After she walked away, after she disappeared back inside the main house, last night’s dream settled around him again. He didn’t usually remember his dreams. When he did they were disconnected wisps of image that dissolved as soon as his day began. But this one…. He did not have to close his eyes to see its reality. It was as if the dream images dragged at his footsteps, embracing him in their own reality.
It was as if some part of him were still dwelling in that dream.
He heard the door open and realized he’d slumped over the table, as if ready to embrace sleep, embrace that dream and its glimpse of a better reality again. He lifted his head and saw that Spock had stepped out onto the pathway. Kirk stood as he approached, but Spock hesitated at the edge of the shade, hands behind his back. As he stood in full sunlight, his face haggard and pale, his expression revealed nothing more than polite disinterest and a mechanical recognition of Kirk’s presence.
Kirk felt he had been catalogued, along with the table, the chairs, the pitcher and glasses on the table, along with Amanda’s carefully tended plants lining the terracotta-colored wall beyond, living out their brief hours in the fierceness of the Vulcan sun, their precise placement a reproach to the disordered petals drifting across the gazebo’s floor.
Without Amanda’s presence, alone with Spock for the first time since before he…died…. Suddenly the heat shimmer in the air seemed to affect his vision. He blinked away tears and strove against the sense of unreality. And yet the vision that had gripped him only hours before seized him again.
What was real? What was not? This man, standing before him, the embodiment of every miracle he could ever have desired, and yet….
"It’s good to see you," Kirk said.
Spock continued to stare at him, apparently concluding that no response was required of him.
"Spock, I know you remember me. You called me ‘Jim.’ But do you remember anything else?"
"My recollection of past events appears to be intact, if not always accessible. T’Lar and the other healers have melded with me and have assured me that my memories, logic functions and reasoning capacity are intact. I must now master the process of relearning how to access all the data."
The gazebo seemed suddenly much colder than it had before. Kirk’s mouth went dry. He poured a fresh glass of tea and pushed it toward the opposite side of the table.
"Please." He gestured to the table, the inviting glass of tea, the waiting chair. Spock continued to watch him, no expression disturbing the lines of his face. And then it was as if Kirk were back on the Enterprise, the ship whole again, and yet incomplete, ready for her new mission against V’ger. Then, as now, a familiar stranger stood before him. Then, the stranger had recently been an acolyte of Gol, divided from him by a space of years and pain. Refusing to take a seat. Even then.
"Please. Have a seat."
Spock sat with robotic precision. Kirk took his glass of tea and sipped it and Spock copied his actions.
"How are your lessons coming along?"
"They are progressing quite well. I reviewed Teppleton’s Theories of Hyperdimensional physics this morning, and noted and cataloged, compared and contrasted the botanical specimens of Kuttman’s World with those of Terra." Spock droned on, detailing one scientific paper after another. Kirk watched him in silence, fascinated by the movement of Spock’s lips, the barely discernible traces of interest and curiosity in those brown eyes, which had once regarded him with such warmth. Such love.
Spock’s hands were steepled before him in a familiar gesture; so little a thing, and yet so much. If his body remembered that, then perhaps….
Spock stopped speaking and waited in unmoving silence. Only his watchful eyes and the tiny motions of his body as he breathed betrayed the fact that he was alive and not some wonderfully lifelike statue made to amaze Kirk with its close resemblance to the man who had once been his lover. An android would be more convincing.
Tell him…. A voice echoed in his ears; he blinked, then squeezed his eyes tightly shut against pain. But the image—the man from his dream was with him, healthy, whole, smiling. Tell him. He needs to know.
"I dreamed about a starship captain last night…."
He hadn’t intended to speak. It had just been a dream, that’s all; no reason to disturb his daylight hours. And yet, wasn’t Spock’s presence seated across the table from him also its own sort of dream? A dream a madman might conceive? But hadn’t he witnessed miracles lesser and greater than this in all those years on the Enterprise? All the energy beings, gods and illusions, all the mysteries of each new world, and the truths which lay obscured beyond.
I. Ambassador Sarek’s Residence