Sacrifices Part 3 by CatalenaMara
II. Admiral Kirk’s Residence
San Francisco, Earth
Spock contemplated his hands. Light poured through the glass walls of the solarium on the topmost floor of Admiral Kirk’s apartment. The hard white light illuminated the pattern of pores in his skin, highlighting imperfections, delineating with contrast and shadow the structure of his hands, the muscles and ligaments and bones beneath the skin. He spent long moments contemplating each individual finger, then turned his hands over in order to inspect his palms in equally attentive detail.
His living body was a miracle. He was a miracle; or so the humans said. The scientific details were quite fascinating. There was, of course, a logical explanation for everything. Even his own resurrection.
The heat in the solarium was most pleasant. He closed his eyes and turned his face to where the sunlight poured in. Its rays washed down around him; he savored their touch. The glass walls clarified Terra’s sun into an approximation of a Terran desert in summer. His body knew this heat, drew sustenance from it. It was a comfort, this familiarity, in an otherwise alien sea of sensation. Outside, though a bright day for San Francisco, it would be cold; he would have to wear a coat.
He spent a great deal of time in the solarium when the admiral was away.
A field of lupine and poppy marched to the corners of the chamber, their purple and brilliant red-orange splashes an incongruous contrast to the scene outside. All the windows displayed the San Francisco cityscape. Inside the solarium, he was surrounded by a perfect representation of the Northamerican Sonoran desert.
He could have chosen to have the windows display a desert scene to complete the illusion, but he had no need for such falsehoods. The heat and the scent from the plant life was sufficient for his requirements.
He inhaled. The earth smell of ferocactus wislizeni mingled with the Vulcan tang of Ka-ran-zhi in a pleasing combination. He felt the passage of the scented air down into his lungs; he inhaled deeply until his lungs were filled.
This chamber was a fine example of the holographic technology they had discovered on the shore leave planet. Spock recalled authoring a paper on the subject of this technology. Not surprisingly, the first applications humans had put it to were military uses, which he found dismaying, and then medical science purposes, of which he approved. After that, humans had taken great pleasure in using this technology for the same frivolous pursuits that the inhabitants of the shore leave planet did.
Kirk had derived much enjoyment from programming the scenario for this room, he recalled. The previous year they’d spent several days taking a "vacation" in the actual Sonoran desert. Later, Kirk surprised him with this facsimile as a gift. Spock had pointed out the illogic of mingling Vulcan and Terran plantlife together.
"It’s to remind you of home," Kirk said.
Puzzled, he replied, "But this is my home."
Kirk just grinned and kissed him.
The need for play.
He stopped breathing for a moment, savoring that sensation as well, and then exhaled.
From his position, kneeling on the stone pathway, he considered the interesting sensation of the uneven surface against his shins and feet.
He shivered suddenly. Kirk was thinking of him.
It passed, a momentary aberration. These moments were happening more frequently now. In the evenings, when Kirk returned from Starfleet Command, the sensations were more intense. Kirk yearned to cross the boundaries between them, and was frustrated and sorrowful that he could not. His new awareness of Kirk’s emotions left him helpless, uncertain how to proceed. Thus the hours of attempted meditation during Kirk’s absence, but while he had been successful in achieving the form, the substance had eluded him utterly.
He ran his hands along the fabric of his meditation robe. It was not, of course, the black robe with which he was most familiar. That garment, torn and ragged, had been recycled back on Vulcan.
This robe had been a gift from his mother. He had kept it in Kirk’s—in their—San Francisco apartment.
He remembered it clearly. It was made from a combination of Terran silk and Vulcan plaincloth. His hands recalled the texture. And his eyes recalled the color: matte black interwoven with a subtly shimmering blue.
Earlier today, after an unsuccessful attempt at meditation, he had decided he needed his robe. It was illogical, of course, to require a specific object as an aid to a mental discipline, but he concluded that, given his failure at achieving these mental disciplines, perhaps conforming to a familiar ritual would help.
He’d looked for it inside the guest room closet. After they returned to Earth, Kirk suggested Spock might feel more comfortable in that room, rather than in the room they shared before Genesis. He’d transferred all of Spock’s clothing into that room.
The robe wasn’t there. Odd. Every other item of clothing he currently possessed was there. Why was this one article missing?
There were times now when it seemed he did not think at all, merely acted. That instinct led him back to Kirk’s closet—their closet, in the time before….
Kirk’s closet door slid open. The robe was inside. He took it out.
It smelled of Kirk. Unusual. Kirk never wore this garment. It would not have fit him properly, and in any event, Kirk wasn’t given to this sort of contemplation.
He opened it fully, spreading the front panels as if they were wings. Then he crushed it to his face, burying his head in the fabric, and in that darkness, in the dry caress of cloth, he breathed in Kirk’s scent, infusing, as it did, every centimeter of the interior of the robe.
Moments later, he put it on, letting Kirk’s scent envelope him in an invisible embrace.
Now, he ran his hands down the robe’s side panels. The cold had entered him again, a chill of the spirit and not of the flesh. To combat it he threw off the robe, made it into a bed upon the hard pathway, and lay down naked, soaking in the intense rays of the magnified Terran sun.
He closed his eyes against the light, and allowed himself just to be. For endless, eternal moments he lay here, simply savoring the sun and the warmth. And then at last he gave thought to the process he was experiencing.
Something was happening to him: something inexorable, impossible to resist. He had no more perspective than a leaf being carried downstream to an unseen ocean. Yet, like a fetus already in the birth passage, he was becoming aware of the inevitability of change: of air and light and separate existence.
This process had been happening for some time. It had come into him slowly, spirit into new flesh, his cells yearning for and welcoming his soul like the desert thirsts for rain.
And as in the desert, the first few drops of rain seemed more than enough. Every morning he awoke, believing himself to be whole and complete, and every day came the fresh realization: Yes. This is who I am.
But as each day proceeded, he would catch glimpses of some further shore, some missing piece of himself, revealed by the surprise or dismay in Jim’s eyes. So much of who he had been remained unattached and separate from who he was now. This daily revelation—that he had yet to attain wholeness, that he was still fragmented, that he was still incomplete—caused emotion.
Before, he had not cared. Now, these revelations had begun to matter.
And so he had focused his attention on his lack of wholeness, seeking out each shattered, incomplete piece of himself, seeking the web of connections between these fragments. As they linked together they blazed flaming and bright, then their light softened and achieved a steady glow as each connection assumed its place in the pattern of the whole. Each resurrection brought pain, as this light only illuminated the darkness of what remained absent.
Despite the pain he pursued these visions, attempting to seize them and encompass them within himself. Elusive, they flashed bright colors, brief fragments of face, of touch, of taste. He reached for these images but his hands always passed through, the memories seemingly tangible until actually touched, impervious yet imperceptible, present in their absence, mocking him with what they revealed and what they concealed.
It was as if the glass that had separated him, blind and dying, from his friend were still present and solid and impassable, and his own self still lay somewhere beyond, lost in some further clarity of vision he had yet to attain.
His flesh had cooled again. Opening his eyes, he saw that the light outside had shifted perceptibly. Several hours had passed. Night was approaching. Kirk would be home soon.
He got up and wrapped the robe around himself, once again comforted by the way Kirk’s scent still clung to the fabric. That, too, was illogical. Why should he require comfort? Why receive comfort on such a basic, animal level? He must contemplate this phenomenon further.
Barefoot, he walked downstairs to the next level and went into Kirk’s room. Neutral carpeting covered the floor; he walked without making any sound. He focused on the feeling of the carpet beneath his feet, then on the gentle movement of the air through the ventilation system, analyzing each sensation.
He paused, surveying the room. He’d certainly seen it before, many times. He could accurately count the number of nights he had spent here, with Kirk, lying with him in that large bed. Why then did the room and all its furnishings now appear new? Only recently, all these objects had been devoid of all but intellectual meaning. And now…now….
A unit made from dark natural wood covered most of one wall. The vidscreen sprang to life at a simple command. Federation news highlights: the newest starship was heading out on its first five year mission. A long shot revealed the faces of the young crewmembers, all of them earnest, practically vibrating with pride and eagerness, ready for all the new discoveries, the adventures and renown that would await them.
None of them was ready for death, and yet he knew—they all knew—many would not return from this assignment.
He remembered mustering aboard Pike’s Enterprise; he remembered the anticipation he had felt, the certainty that he had put his past irrevocably behind him.
As it turned out, that had not been entirely true.
The vidscreen went quiet at his command, and he slowly turned, taking in the rest of the room.
The bed. The coverings were a deep dark blue, shot through with gold. Kirk had liked the symbolism. He recalled approving of the choice, though the emotion behind his statement was now lost to him.
He brushed his left index finger across the bed cover. Cool, deceptively smooth. The thread pattern rubbed against the ridges and whorls of his fingertip.
The bed was militarily precise. And yet—
—yet, disorder. The cover, flung to the floor in careless disregard. The sheet, a crumpled mess—
And the admiral—
and the captain—
—Jim had touched him—yes—
—had touched him, skin-to-skin, and Jim’s hands, and Jim’s mouth—
—damp, smooth human skin against his own, and need—sexual need—
Spock stared, astonished, at the bed, its pristine surface undisturbed by recent passion.
He had a sudden desire to lie upon that bed, to curl up into it and seek familiarity—
Illogical. He snatched his fingertip away from the cover; he clasped his hands behind his back.
"How do you feel?" his mother had asked.
"I do not know how," he whispered to the empty room.
But that statement was becoming less true. He had told his father, I feel fine, and he had meant it then, but had he fully understood his words? He had thought so, at the time.
He wrapped his arms around himself and stood motionless between the bed and the wall-unit. Information was demanding admittance to his mind.
Like an object that had been frozen and then suddenly experienced thaw, he felt bereft of support. He turned slowly, studying each object that the room contained, and the bed, and the wall-unit, the closet and the clothing it contained all clamored with more information than he was prepared to absorb.
Calm. Focus. He turned again, surveying the wall-unit.
There were objects of emotional significance placed on its shelves. He moved closer and studied various framed holographic images of himself, both alone and with the admiral.
There were other images, as well. In one, McCoy held his granddaughter in his arms, and the expression on the doctor’s face displayed even more emotion than usual. Another showed Sulu receiving a medal of commendation. There were objects of various kinds, made from glass or wood or ceramics. Each object held memories, perfectly encapsulated bits of data. He recalled when and where each item had been obtained, why it had been retained. Now the cold clear wall that lay between what he still owned—his memories—and what he no longer possessed—their significance—seemed thinner somehow, as if what lay beyond wished entrance.
He was afraid.
And that was…illogical.
"How do you feel?" his mother had asked.
He had no answer.
Finally, he picked up two small objects. Their cold weight filled his hands. He wished their simple touch could give him answers to all his unformed questions, but their mute presence seemed to somehow burn his skin. He held them tightly, for all that, and carried them downstairs into what seemed now safer territory: the main sitting room.
He arranged the objects before him and sank down into the meditation pose.
It was difficult to look at them. He could not analyze why. But it was important that he do so and, with effort, he focused his attention on the holographic model of the Enterprise.
The Enterprise, flamed to oblivion in the evolving atmosphere of Genesis.
The image shimmered in its perfection, trapped inside its frame, and yet it was as three dimensional, as real, as if he were viewing it through an observation window on a spaceport. Kirk’s Enterprise. Pike’s Enterprise.
He ran a finger along the frame.
His home. His home, for most of his adult life. Now utterly destroyed.
He could count the years he had spent aboard this ship to the second. He could describe in exacting detail the materials with which it had been constructed and then refurbished. None of these facts required any emotional component. Why, then, were his hands shaking?
He set the model down. He turned his attention to the other object.
This, unaccountably, was even more difficult to pick up, more difficult to gaze at. It was a simple portrait holo of a smiling young man.
Still on his knees, he gazed at the image, into the young man’s eyes. All attempts at meditation were useless. The shattered places inside him shifted, fractured again. Everything felt broken, useless, lost. There were no longer any guideposts of logic or rationality to guide him. The image promised eternity. The young man was dead.
After some unspecified period of time he realized two things: that Kirk had returned from the Admiralty and was standing before him, and that his own face was wet.
Kirk dropped to his knees before him. Odd, how his vision blurred, so that Kirk’s face seemed to waver and dance, like heat haze in the desert.
"Spock! Are you all right?" Cool human fingers touched his face and gently brushed away the moisture.
He touched the portrait. "You sacrificed so much. Was it worth it?"
Kirk’s hands dug into his shoulders. "Never doubt that. Never." Kirk’s face was so close that his every breath gusted over Spock’s skin.
"I am incomplete."
"You are everything you need to be."
"I am damaged," Spock persisted. "Your son—your ship—"
"My ship was lost to me anyway. David…." Kirk paused. "I don’t measure the value of one life against another."
"You sacrificed everything of importance to you—and yet you had no way of knowing if there would be anything to find on Genesis. What did you hope to achieve?"
"I had to do it."
"It was irrational."
"But your son—"
"None of that is your fault, Spock!"Continued in Part 4: