Starfleet regulations required every active-duty crewperson to have a will.
It was a smart regulation. Space travel and service in Starfleet were less hazardous than they had once been—better technology, more knowledge of what dangers to avoid, no current wars with either the Klingons or Romulans—but people still died in the service, and it only made sense for their final wishes to be recorded well in advance. It was a good regulation.
Jim Kirk cursed it silently as he sat in the office of Starfleet’s “Duty Personnel Archivist”—or the Cryptkeeper, as he was jocularly known among young crewmen who planned to live forever. The Archivist, Commander Davis, looked the part, dressed in the black uniform that was regulation for officers stationed at Headquarters. Davis had a long, bony, gray face (like an old-fashioned tombstone, Jim thought sourly), with small eyes, a thin mouth, a long, hooked nose, a high, blank brow and thin gray hair combed back from a widow’s peak. Davis folded his hands on his desk and looked at Admiral Kirk, the hero, the legend.
“I was very sorry to hear of Captain Spock’s demise,” Davis said. “He was an outstanding officer…”
How the fuck would you know? You probably never even met him!
“…and his loss is a grievous one.”
Yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah. Jim knew that if Spock were here listening to this tripe, one eyebrow would be cocked in that endearing way as he listened to those mindless platitudes, and Spock’s eyes would have been brimming with that mirth that he hid so carefully from others—except for Jim, of course. If Spock were here…but he wasn’t.
Jim wrenched his attention back to the matter at hand. He’d been forced to do that a lot lately; his focus was gone. His reason for focus was gone.
“Thank you,” he made himself speak civilly. “Yes, it is a loss.”
Loss? Crushing, agonizing annihilation, yes. A heart ripped out and a bleeding hole left in its place, yes. A loss is what happened when a kitten died. This was the end of all things.
Davis looked down at the padd in front of him. “You are listed as Captain Spock’s executor, of course,” he made himself say dispassionately, carefully keeping his gaze away from the legend sitting across from him, the man with haunted eyes the color of old brandy and lines carved in his face that had nothing to do with age. Davis knew all about Kirk and Spock, of course—or at least as much as the rest of the public knew. For all of their—notoriety, the two had always been very private individuals.
“Captain Spock left a recorded will with a visual component,” Davis continued. He reached into a drawer and pulled out a small disc, which he slid across the desk towards Kirk. “Um….I’m sorry, sir, but you will have to sign for that. Regulations, you know.” He slid his padd across the desk at Kirk, who quickly scribbled his initials. Davis took the padd back and rose to his feet.
“If you wish to view it here, Admiral, I have a station set up for you to…”
“Is it required I view it here?”
“No, sir,” Davis said quickly, seeing the white line along Kirk’s jaw. “You are free to take it with you and view it in…in privacy, sir.”
“Thank you, Commander.” With that, Kirk was on his feet and gone before Davis could even offer any more conventional phrases.
Jim stepped through the door of their—his—San Francisco townhouse, wishing for at least the thousandth time that the goddamned door swung so he could slam it. Spock had never wanted a door that made noise. Maybe Jim should look into that, get a workman in here to change things, now that Spock was….gone. Oh God, Spock was gone.
Jim staggered into the living room, pausing just long enough to drop the data disc in a crystal bowl Spock had brought him from Ireland, teasing Jim that the laird of Kirk Manor needed Waterford…oh, God. Spock was gone.
Jim stumbled sightlessly across the room and sank down on the rug in front of the genuine stone fireplace that Spock had loved so much because he could bask in front of a wood fire, get toasty warm while Jim sat back and stayed cool….oh, God. Spock would never be warm again. He was lost in the unimaginable frigid expanses of space. I should have brought him home; I should have never left him alone in the cold….
Jim lay prone on the rug and let the sobs take him until he passed into unconsciousness, still thinking of Spock, dreaming of Spock, seeing the ruined face and body slumped behind the thick transparent barrier, knowing that he couldn’t touch, knowing that he had to touch, just one last time….
The memorial service at the Academy had just been one more duty, one more thankless task in the thousands that Jim Kirk had performed since the day he’d decided it was a good idea to sell his soul to Starfleet. He stood straight and steady in the dress uniform that was beginning to bag on his frame (how Spock would frown with his eyes to see that. Bones was always nagging Jim to lose weight, but as long as Jim was healthy and happy, Spock adored the ripe maturity of his figure, the firm yet yielding flesh of his thighs and buttocks, the way they overflowed Spock’s palms as he sought to contain them, the warm cushion they provided when Spock…).
“Admiral.” The voice was petal-soft and gentle, but Jim did not respond.
Kirk blinked and focused on the face of Uhura, standing in front of him. She actually reached out and took his hand, holding it in both of hers, those large, soft brown eyes (rather like Spock’s) looking up at him with concern and love.
“Sir, you have to know that…that he would want you to…he would not want you to be so….” Wordlessly, she pressed his hand and then let go. From somewhere, Jim found a reassuring smile.
“It’s all right, Uhura. I’ll be fine.”
Spock had been a very quiet housemate. Indeed, when he was reading or doing work in his office, hours could go by before Jim even noticed a whisper of sound from his office—the faint squeak of a chair, the slight click of a padd being set down. It was always so quiet when Spock was around—but not the dead, leaden silence of the house as it was now. Jim found himself staring at the shelves full of objects d’art, imagining the satisfying noise each would make when flung against the hearthstones. In two strides, Jim was standing next to the shelves, reaching for the carved crystal bowl that had the audacity to sparkle in the late-day sun when Spock was gone, gone, gone…
Jim stopped as his fingers closed around the bowl, seeing the disc lying in the bottom, where it had stayed for the past 91 hours, ignored. Jim let his fingers uncurl from the rim of the bowl he’d been about to shatter, and they crept to the bottom of the vessel, gently picking up the disc until it was cupped in Jim’s palm. Davis’ words came back to him. A visual component….a message, made when Spock was well and strong, not scorched and bleeding, his flesh melting before Jim’s eyes…maybe, just perhaps, the sight of Spock speaking to him would at least temporarily blot out the horrific images that had haunted Jim day and night since they’d fought Khan.
It took a moment or two for Jim to figure out which slot to stick the disc in; their house computer had been built by Spock, each component hand selected, and the final machine was a Ferrari, not a Ford. But finally, Jim fumbled around until he got the disc inserted. The screen lit up, Spock’s face appearing at once. He’d recorded the message at this desk, seated in the same chair Jim now occupied. The tape had obviously been made in the last few years.
“Jim,” the beloved baritone voice spoke softly. “T’hy’la. Since you are listening to this, the logical conclusion is that I am dead. I grieve with thee, beloved. I know your pain.”
Jim could feel his eyes flood with tears, as they had so often in the last weeks, but somehow, these tears did not sting. Yes, Spock did understand. Of all people in the universe, he understood the agony Jim had carried with him since that terrible day in Engineering.
“I cannot know the manner of my death, of course,” Spock’s voice continued, the forest-brown eyes looking out of the screen into Jim’s. “However, if it occurred in the course of my duties, I can postulate that you may blame yourself, ashaya. Do not, I beg thee. Whatever happened, the outcome was good if it means I saved the lives of my shipmates—and most especially, if I saved your most precious life, my Jim.”
And he had—he’d saved all those cadets, all those young lives that had so much potential. And he’d saved Bones, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov, all of Jim’s dear comrades. Most of all, he’d saved Jim, and Jim knew just what that knowledge had meant to Spock in those last terrible minutes. It had been a talisman that Spock could carry with him into the darkness.
Jim paused the recording and laid his head down on his folded hands. Spock was right—he was always right where Jim was concerned. Jim had been blaming himself—for not outsmarting Khan, for not finding another way to save the ship, Hell, for not stopping Khan 15 years before. He’d blamed himself for it all, carried the weight of that along with his grief. Spock had known he would—and it was obvious that he didn’t want Jim to carry that burden.
Jim raised his head and took a deep breath, feeling some of the crushing weight easing. “Computer, continue,” he said. The recording came to life once more.
“There is much I would say,” Spock said, “and perhaps much that does not need to be said between us. However, there is one grief I carry with me always, and at this time, I must admit it. T’hy’la, I am sorry I left you, sorry I went to Gol. I wasted time we might have spent together, and I hurt you deeply, all because I feared our love; I feared admitting just what you mean to me. I cannot undo that action, my dearest. I can only beg your forgiveness and tell you that my life ended when I left you, and it only began again when I stepped back into your life. I thank thee with all that I am that you accepted me back after I wounded you so deeply, and your courage to love again humbles me, even now.”
Spock paused for a moment, plainly mastering himself, and then he spoke again. “As to the distribution of my assets…”
It was a long list. Spock had left Jim his interest in their home here, of course, as well as the deed to the desert vacation home Jim had bought him in Arizona, and his Starfleet pension, as well as his share of his family income. He had left their home on Vulcan to Sarek and Amanda, along with much of the art he’d collected over the years from cultures all over the galaxy. He had left funds to Saavik, the daughter of his heart, and personal items to each of the Bridge crew, including a 100 year-old bottle of Saurian brandy for Scotty. Jim grinned briefly but genuinely for the first time in weeks as he imagined the Scotsman’s delight. He instructed that “my body be taken to Vulcan for cremation. If that is not possible, I desire to be buried in space.” Jim felt a sharp sense of relief. He’d done as Spock would have wished.
At the end of the recital, Spock fell silent yet again.
“T’hy’la,” he said at last. “Perhaps I should not say this, but it is the truth, and you and I have valued honesty in our relationship. The fact that you are hearing this means that I am dead, and you are not. That fact gives me great joy. I do not wish to die, although I do not fear it. However, I have long feared that I would survive you, that I would have to face life without you at my side. Apparently that event has not come to pass. Jim, beloved, I know you grieve. I know you miss me with everything in you, but you are strong, so much stronger than I. You will face this grief and defeat it. I could not have done so. Live long and prosper, t’hy’la, ashaya, my beloved. Know that if it is possible, I await thee. Someday, somehow, I believe we will be together again. Until that day, my Jim.”
The recording ended. Jim buried his face in his hands and wept, but it was not like before. Now, he could feel that strong love surrounding him again. Jim had never been certain what lay on the other side of death, but on this night, he somehow knew that someday, he would see Spock again. He was strong. He would wait for that day.
Four nights later, Sarek came to his home, and Jim learned about the Vulcan katra—and discovered where Spock’s was.