Captain Jean-Luc Picard stood in the transporter room of the U.S.S. Titan in anticipation. Shortly, he would have a guest on board. It was someone who normally was always a rare pleasure to see. But this time, his guest's arrival was not to be a joyous reunion. He stood with a heavy heart for what lay ahead.
The badge on his uniform beeped. “Picard here,” he spoke as he tapped it.
“Captain Picard, Ambassador Spock is ready for beam up.”
“Understood. Picard out.”
Picard turned to the ensign standing at the transporter station. “Beam up Ambassador Spock.”
Picard watched as a beam appeared on the transporter pad and Spock materialized into existence. He stood regal in his robes that showed his status, dignified as Picard had always remembered him. But his eyes had a hint of sadness and pain that Picard could barely detect, but there none the less.
“Welcome aboard Ambassador. I regret the circumstances which has brought you here. We should reach our destination in three days.”
Spock stepped off of the pad. “Thank you Captain Picard. Is there a place which we may speak in private?”
“Yes. My temporary quarters. Do you wish to see yours first?”
“No. I wish to talk now.”
“Very well. This way.”
Picard and Spock walked in silence through the corridors of the Titan until they reached Picard's quarters. The Enterprise had been destroyed only a week before, so the Titan was being used to transport Spock and Picard to their destination. The door parted and both stepped inside. Picard gestured for Spock to have a seat, which Spock took.
“Would you like a drink Ambassador?”
“No Captain. Please, I need to know what transpired on Veridian III. Your message was brief and offered little explanation. I do not wish to wait any longer.”
Picard sat down on a chair next to Spock. “The Enterprise received a distress call from the Amargosa solar observatory. We got there to find everyone dead. All were killed by Romulans, except for a scientist named Dr. Tolian Soran. Dr. Soran had been rescued seventy eight years ago from an energy ribbon called the Nexus by the Enterprise-B.”
Spock's expression changed to one of slight surprise. “The Enterprise-B was damaged when it was hit by an energy source. Part of the hull was torn away. Captain Kirk was in that section and was lost. He was presumed dead Captain Picard, even though his body was never recovered.”
“No he wasn't Ambassador.”
Spock was obviously shocked, but his facial expression changed little except for the slight widening of his eyes and the intense stare he now gave to Picard. “Explain.”
“This Nexus, somehow when one enters it, they will live in it forever. The Nexus will create whatever one desires once in it. It is a world of endless fantasy; it mesmerisms and entraps the people in it. They forget who they were, and never want to leave. Somehow, I was able to enter it and still remember who I was. I found Captain Kirk while in it and was able to break through to him, to show him what he was seeing wasn't real. I convinced him to leave the Nexus with me, that I needed his help.”
“What did you need his help for?”
“Dr. Soran wanted to return to the Nexus so that it would recreate his dead family, but he was willing to destroy a world to do it. Captain Kirk and I succeeded in stopping him, but it cost Kirk's life.”
Spock sat in silence, the points of his two index fingers together under his chin. “How did it happen?” he finally said.
“He jumped to a partially collapsed bridge to retrieve the device that was cloaking Soran's rocket launcher. I was able to disrupt the launch. The rocket exploded and killed Soran. Afterwards, I went to find Kirk and saw that the bridge had completely collapsed, and discovered Kirk was still on it. I went to him down in the chasm. He was still alive, but barely. I told him he helped to make a difference. He told me it was...fun. Then he died.”
“And that is where his body is currently?”
“Yes. I buried him there. The Enterprise was severely damaged and crashed into the planet. We were finally picked up by the Titan. I immediately requested to Starfleet to notify you. I felt you should be the first to know and see the grave.”
“I greatly appreciate that Captain. However I do not wish to see his body stay on Veridian III. He must be returned home.”
“I realize that Ambassador. Starfleet has given me permission to retrieve his body and transport it back to Earth for burial.”
“No. He will not return to Earth.”
“What do you mean, not return to Earth?” Picard asked incredulously. “Where else would he go?”
“With me to Vulcan.”
“Vulcan? Why? He was from Earth. Why would you want to see him buried on Vulcan? “
Spock got up to walk over to a window and stared out into space, hands behind his back. “Because he has family there.”
Picard got up and walked over to Spock. “Who?”
Picard looked at Spock dumbfounded. “Have you gone daft Ambassador? I know the both of you were close friends, but that doesn't automatically make you family.”
Spock turned around to look at Picard. He knew that he must tell him.“Captain, there is something I need to explain to you that only a few others knew. Captain Kirk and I were bondmates.”
Shock reverberated on Picard's face. ”Bondmates!? Why...why didn't anyone know except for a few people?”
“Initially he was worried that certain officials at Starfleet would try to post me to another ship. I was his first officer then. Many in Starfleet felt that the ability of a Starship commander would be compromised if they were too involved with another member of the crew, especially a high ranking one as me. Another reason was for our safety. Captain Kirk had made many enemies over the years, and he became concerned that if our relationship was known, an enemy could use that knowledge against one or the other.”
“Such as kidnapping one, and using him to try and extort for his safe return."
“Essentially correct. Captain Kirk risked his career for me, even sacrificed his ship. Many never understood why, except for the ones who knew and risked their lives as well. It was best that only our closest friends and family knew about it...Dr. Leonard McCoy, Captain Montgomery Scott, Captain Hikaru Sulu, Commander Pavel Chekov, Commander Nyota Uhura, Winona Kirk, and my parents Sarek and Amanda were the only ones present at our bonding ceremony.”
“Was anyone in Starfleet ever aware?”
“Eventually it became known to a few. They were ones who we knew would keep our secret. They were aware that Jim's command never wavered throughout the rest of his career, even with me there.”
Picard noted that Spock now called Kirk 'Jim' instead of captain. “I see.” My god. He thought his bondmate was dead for seventy eight years, only to discover he was alive the whole time and couldn't remember who he was. Now he's been taken away for good. “You realize that Starfleet will need to be made aware of your relationship now.”
“I am quite aware of that Captain, and I need your help with this also. The public is not to be made aware of our relationship until I am gone. I have written a memoir of our lives, but it is not to be made known till then. I have my reasons for this also.”
“You do realize that Earth's citizens will want an explanation as to why one of their greatest heroes is to be buried on Vulcan.”
“Jim was a very private man despite his very public image. Humans tend to make gods of out men. If he were to be buried on Earth, his grave would become a shrine to many. Jim was never one to put himself on a pedestal. On Vulcan, no one will disturb or disrespect his resting place. His grave will be on my property. It is what he wanted.”
“When will you notify them?”
“After I have seen the place where you buried him. I wish my closure first, something I was denied before. These next few days are for us alone.”
Walking back over to stand in front of Picard, Spock spoke with genuine gratitude in his voice, a still rare display of emotion form the Vulcan. “One more thing Captain. I regret not being there when he died, and it pains me greatly. But I want to thank you for what you did. If I wished for anyone else to be with him, it would have been you.”
Picard felt a small amount of moisture well up behind his eyes. “You're welcome. I'm sorry it turned out the way it did. He didn't deserve to die like that.”
“Nothing would have stopped him Captain. You and I know that all too well.”
A smile crept up on Picard's face. “No. I suppose you're right. I would have done the same thing. Come and let me show you to your quarters. I am acting as temporary Captain on the Titan for this mission to return Kirk to his final resting place. So if there is anything you need, do not hesitate to call for me.”
“That is much appreciated Captain. You may show me now to my quarters.”
Picard and Spock left Picard's cabin and walked together to the guest quarters assigned to Spock. When they got there, Spock nodded once to Picard, and then went inside. Picard stood at the closed door for a moment, staring at it with sadness. Then he turned and walked back to his own quarters.
Three days later, the Titan arrived at Veridain III. Picard went to search for the Ambassador after discovering he wasn't in his cabin. He knew there would be only one other place he would be. Picard went to the observation deck and found Spock sitting on one of the chairs that looked out into space, with Data's cat Spot on his lap.
Picard walked over to Spock and smiled. “Spot seems to have taken a liking to you. He is usually never far from Data.”
“A remarkable animal,” Spock said as he absentmindedly stroked Spot's back, which brought a loud purr from the cat. “I have always been fond of the Terran felis catus species.”
“I'm sure you're aware that we have arrived at Veridain III. Whenever you are ready, we can beam down.”
“I am ready Captain.”
Spock stood up and placed the now slightly perturbed cat on the vacated seat. Spot meowed his protest in losing the warm lap he had been resting so comfortably on. Spock reached down and gave the cat one last stroke, then left the deck with Picard.
A brief time later, the two were on the planet's surface. Picard and Spock walked a short distance until a pile of rocks came into view. “There.” Picard pointed at it. “I'm sorry it's so crude, but I couldn't leave him exposed.”
“You did what you could. There is nothing to apologize for.”
Together they walked up to the makeshift grave. Both looked down at it in silence.
“Captain?” Spock spoke first.
“I wish to have privacy now.” Spock's face betrayed nothing, but his voice quivered.
“Of course. I will beam back up to the ship. Signal me when you are ready. Take all the time you need.” With that Picard signaled the Titan and faded away in the beam.
Spock let out a sob, abandoning his last shard of control, then dropped down to his knees. He stretched his hands out and laid his head on the rocks, not caring if his face was scratched. He wept, long and hard. The tears fell from his face and traveled down between the rocks under him. If only his tears could reach Kirk and somehow bring him back to life. It was a silly, illogical thought, but that did not matter to him now. His soul was bleeding out from him.
“Jim, my t'hy'la,” he spoke through the rocks. “I am sorry. I cannot find you. Your katra is gone; it is too late to reach it. If I had been here, held you as it left your body, I could have brought it into me. But now even that has been denied me. Oh, why Jim, why?” Spock sobbed louder. “I had always hoped, for the link had never been truly severed, but it was so thin and faint. But now it truly is broken, and I am so empty inside. At least I can bring part of you home. We will be together again; I know you will be waiting for me.”
He stayed there, not moving, for a long time, trying to remember happier times to counter the pain echoing through him. Finally, he dried his tears and stood up, then signaled the Titan to beam him up.
“I love you t'hy'la,” Spock said as he faded out.
The U.S.S. Titan made its way to Vulcan with its precious cargo. Starfleet was not happy, but could not deny Spock the right to bury his bondmate on Vulcan instead of Earth. The ceremony was small and private, as their bonding ceremony had been. The immediate crew of the Enterprise attended, including Picard, Will Riker, Data, Geordi La Forge, Worf, Deanni Troi, and Beverly Crusher. And two others that he was grateful for more than anything were with him also...Dr. Leonard McCoy and Montgomery Scott. McCoy was over a hundred and fifty years old now, practically unheard of for humans. McCoy's exposure to alien technology during one of their missions was the cause of his longevity. His advanced age did little to curtail his sharp and ornery nature. Scott had been trapped on a crashed ship on a Dyson sphere, and had rigged the transporter and placed himself in it in a sort of suspended state until he was rescued. Chronologically, he was still a human of seventy years.
Scott and McCoy stood in silent support, their faces tired and weary. It still did not seem real to them, to lose Kirk twice, and grieve all over again. But they all knew it was much worse for Spock. He seemed so very fragile as he stood and watched Kirk's coffin, draped in a cloth with the emblem of his beloved Enterprise on it, be put into the tomb carved directly into the hillside. There it would be specially sealed, and away from curious eyes.
McCoy and Scott walked over to their old friend and give their last condolences. Picard and the other crew members followed. All walked back to Spock's house, the home of his childhood. Soon it was time to go, for they knew Spock needed to grieve in private; it was the Vulcan way. They left with heavy hearts. Picard was the last to go.
“Ambassador Spock, please if there is anything you need, do not hesitate to contact me.”
“Thank you Captain. Your offer is most kind. I must now meditate and go through the grieving ritual.”
“Where will you go from here?”
“I will continue my work on Romulus, there is no reason for me not to.”
Picard was relieved that Spock would continue on as he had always done, focusing on what was so important to him. “Good. I'm glad to hear that. Goodbye for now Ambassador.”
“Live long and proper Captain.”
One year later
“Arin. Are you sure it is here?” the Romulan said to his companion.
“Yes Rhoman. We were given the coordinates of the Ambassador's property. The tomb has to be on the land somewhere,” the older Romulan replied with growing annoyance at the younger man.
“Why the hell would someone want a dead body for anyway?”
“I don't know and I don't care. All I know is that we're getting paid big bucks to do this job. They can do whatever they want with it.”
“I bet it's some new cult that's obsessed with Kirk. They're popping up everywhere since his death.”
“Maybe. If it is, they have some rich members. The fake Vulcan ID's they gave us are the best I've ever seen. After this job, I think I'll be able to retire, maybe go to that little pleasure planet I was at so many years ago.”
“I'm still curious to know though what they plan on doing with Kirk's body, after all its gotta be pretty ripe by now. Maybe I'll ask once we deliver it.”
“Rhoman, let me give you some advice.” Arin was now clearly perturbed. “I've been doing this for forty years, been hired by some of the worst sort of lot in the galaxy. One thing you never do is ask questions or try to get more involved except for what you were hired to do. You live longer that way. A buddy of mine didn't follow that advice, and his molecules are now scattered in space. So I'd suggest you keep your mouth shut. Got it?”
“Yeah I got it,” the younger Romulan replied with downcast eyes. Being a hired criminal wasn't as glamorous as he had first thought, his childhood dreams of exciting adventures not quite going the way he had planned.
“Good, now keep looking for the tomb.”
The two Romulans continued to search the property. It was night and the Vulcan sky was moonless, but the two had on special night vision goggles. This night was no coincidence. They were informed before they set out by their temporary boss that the Vulcan Ambassador was away on Romulus.
Rhoman spoke up again, getting tired of the searching. “Why can't they just beam up the coffin once we find it? Why do we have to lug it back to the aircar and transfer it to the ship?”
Arin made a mental note to only work on solo assignments if he decided to continue his life of a paid for hire. “How the hell did you ever make to adulthood anyway? Transporter beams are traceable. The coffin should have an anti-gravity system built in it. It's not going to be that bad moving it. Now, will you just shut up and keep looking before I kick your ass?”
The younger Romulan fell silent, but cursed under his breath. He would never challenge Arin out loud, for he was scared of him, and the other knew it.
After a long search on the property, they found the tomb, knowing it was the correct one by Kirk's name on the door.
Arin scrutinized the seal on the door. “Standard Vulcan technology.”
“This doesn't look very standard to me Arin,” said Rhoman after looking at the seal himself. “This is specially made. How will we break it?”
“Ah, yea of little faith Rhoman. When they hired me, they hired the best. My reputation as being the best lock picker in this part of the galaxy has obviously gotten around. Now stand back and watch a master of his craft.”
Arin retrieved a small device from his cloak, about the size of a writing instrument. He set it and placed it up against the seal. A brief hum was heard, followed by a sharp clicking noise. The seal fell open.
“You see, child's play,” Arin spoke with unhidden smugness.
They walked into the chamber and up to the coffin. Arin found the anti-gravity controls and switched them on. Very carefully, the two guided the coffin outside.
“Alright, let's get this baby to the aircar and take it to the delivery point. The sooner we get this done and get our money the better,” Arin said with a small amount of disdain in his voice. He'd done a lot of crazy things over the years, but this was his first grave robbing, and he noted to himself, probably the last.
The two Romulans loaded the coffin into their hidden aircar. Arin got into the passenger side while Rhoman took the controls. All went well, they thought. No one had seen them. They flew off and reached their destination within a half an hour...a small Vulcan luxury ship. Only they knew its owner wasn't really a Vulcan, and the ship was a clever cover up.
They stopped and signaled to the ship of their arrival. The door came open and a human walked out. At least he appeared human in every way. Only he didn't act like a typical human. It didn't really matter to Arin or Rhoman. They had done their job and expected their pay.
“Here you go, the coffin containing the body of James T. Kirk just as you requested. Go knock yourself out with it,” Arin said as he and Rhoman pushed the coffin through the opening of the ship.
“No one saw you?” asked the strange human.
“Of course not. No one is better than breaking and entering than me.”
“Very good. Come inside, I have your payment waiting for your excellent work.”
The two Romulans followed the man inside, eyes starting to glaze with greed in anticipation.
The man hit a control on a panel which suddenly closed the door behind them. “I'm sorry for this but, “ he spun around to face the Romulans, now pointing a phaser at them. "You must die now."
“What the hell is this?” said Arin, outraged. “We did our job and didn't ask questions. I know how to keep my mouth shut."
“Please don't shoot us!” cried Rhoman, eyes wide as soon as he saw the weapon.
“I can't leave any witnesses. Goodbye.” The man pulled the trigger and both of the criminals were vaporized into nonexistence.
Finishing his task, the man turned back to the coffin and placed his hand on the top of it. “My dear Captain Kirk, it has been too long. I would sooner see you stay dead, but I have a greater need for you now. All I had to do was wait until the time was right. And now it is time.”
The man got into the pilot's seat of the ship and took off into the Vulcan night.
Captain Picard walked through the corridor of the newly finished Enterprise-E. It felt good to be home, he thought, only it was a tad bittersweet. Most of the crew would be returning except for two...Captain Riker and Deanni Troi. Captain Riker was now in command of the U.S.S. Titan, plus he and Deanni were also newly married and she had transferred to the Titan to follow her husband. He would miss them, but was happy for them both.
He went to his new cabin and took in the view. It was similar to the Enterprise-D, and he couldn't wait to take her out on her maiden voyage. He poured himself a glass of wine and sat down in a cozy chair. He was able to get one swallow of the wine when a communication signal went off on the console near his chair. He reached over and turned it on. “Picard here.”
“Captain Picard,” a communication ensign responded. “We have an emergency message coming in from Vulcan.”
“Pipe it in here.”
“Captain Picard, this is Ambassador Spock.” Picard sat up alarmed as he heard the distressed voice coming through.
“Ambassador. Is everything alright?”
“No Captain. I have just returned to Vulcan from Romulus a few hours ago. I was taking a walk on my property when I came upon Jim's tomb. The tomb has been broken into and the coffin has been stolen. Please Jean-Luc, I need your help.”