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Author's Chapter Notes:

This is a shorter piece for me than general so this is the last chapter of this story.  I hope htat you enjoy it.

“Call medical. Get them here immediately. Man down in a fall.”

“Don't worry. Help is coming.” A familiar face hovered over him, but he did not know who this Vulcan was.

Noises of running feet. “How did he fall?”

“I do not know. He screamed something and fell.”

“Screamed? He screamed?”

The hissing of hypos. Customary nausea. Pain, confusion. Everything hurt. “Critical condition. We have to get him to the medical center immediately.”

“Do you hear me? Spock, do you hear me?”

“Jim, Jim, Jim,” was all he could say.

Quiet. Dark. There was pain, but it was muted, distant. He opened his eyes and did not know where he was. Trying to rise from the bed he found himself on, Spock realized that he could not move. Panic hit him then and he tried again and again.

“Easy. Easy, Spock. You're all right.”

The voice was familiar. Slowly, his eyes focused and he realized that it was now Leonard McCoy who hovered over him, his eyes red and swollen. Perhaps the doctor was fatigued, Spock reasoned foggily. He tried unsuccessfully to speak, but his mouth was too dry. McCoy saw this and disappeared, returning with a glass of water that contained a straw which he presented to Spock's lips. After a long drink of water, the Vulcan released the straw and tried once more to orient himself.

“Am I in Sickbay?” he queried, still confused as to where he was or how he had come to be here.

“No, you're in the base hospital in San Francisco,” McCoy told him. “They transferred you here from the one at the yard because you required specialized care.”

Try as he may, Spock could not recall why he would have been at the yard. There was T'Poval and her staff to handle those details, and the only build he was supervising was already under construction. Those plans had been approved months ago so he would have had no reason to be there now. With no recollection of the accident, Spock finally said, “Why was I there?”

“I'm not surprised you don't remember,” McCoy said as he took a seat next to the bed where the Vulcan lay. “You have been badly disoriented. We got a good healer though and she seems to have you on the mend.”

“You did not answer my question, Doctor McCoy,” he pointed out gently. “Why was I at the yard?”

“T'Poval said that there had been some question about the measurements for the new science vessel hull whose building you have been supervising so the two of you had been double checking them before the piece was moved in for installation. You took quite a fall.”

None of this made any sense. Why would he have gone to the yard to do measurements that someone else could have done? Why did he feel so strange? Overwhelmed, he closed his eyes and tried to think but found that his thought processes were not the norm either.

“You had a skull fracture, Spock,” McCoy told him gently. “It is normal for you to be a bit confused. You were severely injured in the fall.”

“I do not remember,” he said slowly as he struggled to recall the trip there.

“Do you trust me, Spock?” McCoy asked softly.

The Vulcan looked into the face of his old friend. Yes, Leonard McCoy was his friend despite their long history of verbal battles. Spock had come to that knowledge slowly, but even that day decades ago on Vulcan when he thought his pon farr had brought his life to an end McCoy had been his friend as well as Jim's. All those years the physician had provided medical care for him, but he had also stood shoulder to shoulder with him through many adversities.

“Yes, Leonard, I do,” he admitted wearily, too fatigued to think further.

“Then trust me when I tell you that we are providing the best care possible. Your life is no longer at risk, but you're going to have an extended recovery time. When you are released here, you will need to go to a rehabilitation center for care, but eventually you should make a good recovery.”

Even as confused as he was, Spock noted that the physician did not say that he would make a complete recovery. But there was something else. Someone else who should be here. When he tried to remember, the memory seemed to slip through his grasp.

McCoy went to a table near the door of the room and picked up a hypo. “I think you've had enough talk now, Spock. It's time for you to rest. I'll be here when you wake up. When you're stronger, we need to have a talk.”

Before he could ask what they needed to discuss, McCoy injected him with the hypo and awareness began to fade. The closing of his eyes McCoy seemed to mistake for unconsciousness for the physician spoke to another being in the room.

“Well, that went better than I expected,” he said in little more than a whisper. “I was afraid that he would ask, but he didn't.”

“Yes, it appears that my work was successful,” a female voice responded. “Get some rest. I will remain with Spock while he sleeps.

Then the darkness took him, and he fell into oblivion.

In the intervening years, Spock recalled, when he thought of the accident or the days immediately afterward, the few memories he retained came to him as chaotic fragments of an image mosaic. Waking to screaming and realizing it was his own voice. Familiar and unknown faces hovering over him telling him things he did not understand. A hospital ceiling in a darkened room. The same ceiling in daylight. Murmured voices, silence except for the beep of machinery, shouts, and alarms.

Then one morning he awakened. The pain he had been experiencing was muted and distant. He could feel medications in his system like unwanted parasites. The sun was rising, he realized, and there was another person in the room.

He tried to move and felt a twinge of unexpected pain, grunting with its suddenness. The figure in the nearby chair moved at his utterance and rose to come stand beside the bed. Leonard McCoy, of course. Who else would it be?

The physician leaned over him. “Spock, do you know who I am?”

An acceptable query under the circumstances, Spock realized, given that he had been disoriented for some time. His mind was still confused and uncertain. “Yes, Doctor,” he responded, finding his voice rough and raspy, “I do.”

“Good. You've had a rough few days, but I think we have everything under control now,” the physician continued. “Do you know where you are?”

Closing his eyes in concentration, he recalled a previous conversation. “I believe you said that I am in a hospital in San Francisco, did you not?” he said, not entirely certain that he was correct.

“Yes, Spock, that's right. You had a bad fall and have been injured severely, but you are stable now,” the older man told him.

Lying there, he saw a familiar, beloved face behind his closed eyes. Jim. Scanning his fragments of memory, he could not recall having seen Jim since his injury. Opening them, he looked intently at McCoy. “Where is Jim?” he demanded.

McCoy could not entirely hid the wince that spread across his face. “We need to talk,” he said slowly.

“Jim is not here. He has not been here,” Spock persisted. “Why has he not come?”

Tears formed in the blue eyes that met his. “Do you remember that Jim was going to do publicity on the new Enterprise B's launch?” At his slight nod, Leonard McCoy continued, “That fool Harriman decided that they needed to take a little cruise with all the journalists on board. Something happened and the ship was damaged. Jim went below to help.” A single tear spilled from his eyes and flowed down the craggy planes of the physician's face, dropping like a bright crystal from his face. “He was killed, Spock. Jim is dead.”

“That is not possible. I still feel him.” Spock's tone was icy and left no room for question.

“He's gone, Spock. That energy ribbon they tangled up with took out the entire section. They haven't even been able to find his body.”

“No, no, McCoy, Jim is alive. I can feel him.” He tried to rise again, tried to make the physician understand that it was impossible that Jim could be dead. He only left home that morning so he could not be dead. His breath and heart rate began to spike, and McCoy reached for a hypo. “No, no more shots. I know he is not dead. Jim is not dead.”

“I'm sorry, Spock,” McCoy muttered. “I know how it was between the two of you, but Jim is gone.” He carefully injected the Vulcan once more, and as the darkness gathered around him once more the only certainty Spock had was that the physician was in error. As he fell into unconsciousness once more, Spock could hear McCoy say, “I am sorrier than I can ever express, Spock. I hope you believe that.”

After more days of chaos, disbelief, and emotional overload, there had finally come a morning when Spock woke, groggy from sedation, exhausted from resistance, and overwhelmed by injury and heartbreak. As he had done so many times, he went within seeking the link that would lead him to his beloved. It was not there. Somehow,
it had disappeared. He could not remember when that precious connection had gone, but it was no longer there. Jim was dead. There was no other explanation. He vaguely remembered McCoy's explanation of what had occurred but didn't really care. Nothing mattered if his t'hy'la no longer existed. He should have died, too, but he was not Vulcan enough for the bond to have taken him. With every fiber of his being, Spock wished he had died as well.

“I know you're awake,” he heard a soft voice say from nearby.

Opening his eyes, the Vulcan could see a weary and broken Leonard McCoy sitting in a chair nearby. As he stirred, the human rose and came to stand beside him while he did a thorough examination. For the first time, Spock understood that not only had his mind sustained an injury but that his body had also been badly injured as well.

For the first time, he really considered McCoy's condition. The physician appeared to have aged decades in days. His skin was gray with fatigue, his eyes red-rimmed and swollen. His friend was suffering as well.

“How long?” he rasped, his mouth and throat dry and uncomfortable.

McCoy said nothing until he completed his checkup. “You fell nineteen days ago, Spock. Since then, you have been pretty much out of it between the severance of the bond and your injuries.”

“You are not a mind healer,” he whispered, trying to avoid further straining his damaged voice.

“You don't remember T'Pasa being here?” McCoy raised an eyebrow in question. When Spock failed to respond, he shrugged. “That's entirely understandable. You have not been yourself, but between her mind healing techniques and my medicine you seem to be stabilizing.”

“Where is Jim?”

The words hit McCoy like a blow. “You don't remember our talk?”

“You said that Jim had been lost on the Enterprise-B and that his body had not been located. It has been...some period of time...since that talk, I believe. I thought there might have been a change in those circumstances.”

“Whatever that was that hit the B took everything in its path, Spock. The deck, mechanisms, Jim – it was like they had never existed.”

“That is illogical. There would have been debris, something.”

“It just disappeared.” McCoy put a gentle hand on his shoulder. “I know how hard this is for you, Spock, but all your questions have already been asked by a half dozen agencies within the Fleet. The Board of Inquiry couldn't answer the question of what happened to Jim. I don't know that we'll ever know.”

“Unacceptable.” That single word was a complete and utter rejection of what McCoy had said, but it was also a disavowal of any process that failed to explain clearly and concisely to Spock why Jim no longer existed. He thought for a long moment before asking, “What is my physical condition?”

“If you think you're going to get up out of this bed and find Jim yourself, Spock, you are wrong,” McCoy reasoned accurately. “First, you are not prepared to get up at all. You sustained several spinal fractures. There was no spinal cord damage, but it is taking time to regrow those bones.”

That explained why he could not move, Spock realized. To preserve the spinal cord function while the bone was replaced, he would have been immobilized.

“I assume there is more,” he responded, his tone cold and dreary.

“You have multiple fractures in your left shoulder, arm, and leg. That is the side that you impacted when you hit that completed deck. Had that not stopped your fall, it would have killed you. It damned near did as it was.”

“Any other injuries?”

“Damage to the liver, spleen ruptured, damage to the left lung. You were a mess.”

A dark eyebrow quirked on the otherwise expressionless face. “I take it that I shall survive.”

“Yes, you will live, but your recovery will take quite a while. When you are more stable, you will need to be transferred to a Vulcan rehabilitation center for extensive physical therapy and rehabilitation.”

“When will I be able to return to duty?” McCoy looked away but not before the Vulcan saw his expression tighten. The gesture made Spock's stomach churn with anxiety. “I take it there is significance to that expression,” he pointed out.

McCoy walked a few paces away and looked out of the window. It appeared to be morning and the physician suddenly seemed to have developed a fascination with something outside the window.

“Doctor McCoy, avoiding the subject will not deter me from my query. When will I be able to return to duty?”

The older man turned from his position at the window slowly, his expression miserable. “You won't,” he said simply. “You have already been ruled permanently disabled, Spock.”

“But I have been unconscious,” he objected. “It has been impossible to judge my condition.”

“Well, here's the thing,” McCoy said mournfully. “After that T'Pring issue came up in the first mission, a ruling was made that Vulcans could only serve in deep space with their bonded mate. Do you remember that?” He paused as though he knew what the effect of his next sentence would be. “Spock, you no longer have a mate.”

Logical, a part of his brain recorded, but cruel under the circumstances. In a moment, he had lost his home, his career, and his Jim. “Of course,” he agreed with an appearance of calm he did not feel, “eminently logical. I had not thought of that.”

“There's one more thing, too, Spock,” McCoy continued. “Admiral Sinclair really had a bug up his ass about your injury and pushed for the earliest possible hearing. He accused you of mismanaging the project, making errors that had not been caught until the construction began. I went to the hearing, but they wouldn't even let me testify on your behalf. Said I didn't have the technical knowledge necessary to have an opinion. Damned bastard,” he grumbled. “Damnedest thing I've ever heard of.”

That was why he had been at the yard Spock suddenly remembered. He also recalled the ugly accusations the senior officer had made during their last meeting. “Yes, he did discuss those accusations with me. I remember now that I went to the yard to check the measurements to assure accuracy.”

“The panel was split. Some sided with Sinclair, some with you. Since it looked likely that you would never be able to return to deep space duty anyway, they just decided to retire you with full benefits.” McCoy looked away as though he was shamed that he had been unable to change what had happened.

Spock closed his eyes. His entire world had changed in the wink of an eye. He felt very alone and adrift, more so than he had felt since he had left his home planet all those years ago to attend the academy. Worse, he had lost his Jim, a wound that would never heal.

“What will you do?” McCoy asked plaintively, knowing his circumstances as well as Spock himself understood them. No spouse, no career, no plans. It was certainly not the way to begin an extended convalescence.

For once, the Vulcan lacked the strength to pretend otherwise. “I have no idea,” he responded softly as he pondered how to live the balance of his life without Jim.

“Ambassador? Ambassador Spock? Are you all right, sir?”

Awareness returned to Spock as he realized he must have been standing in the buffet staring into space for some minutes. “Forgive me, Lieutenant,” he responded slowly as he returned to the current situation. “Something just occurred to me. I was deep in thought.”

“If you would like to be seated, sir,” the young security officer continued, “I would be glad to bring you a plate. They have blueberry pancakes. Why don't I bring you a plate of them?”

No, he thought, anything but that. In the decades since Jim disappeared, Spock had found himself incapable of eating the food that they had last shared together. Even after all these decades, he found just the smell of them disturbingly familiar.

“No, thank you, Lieutenant,” he countered. “I shall make a choice of my own, but if you would sit with me I would appreciate company this morning.”

In the weeks the lieutenant had commanded his security squad, they had never stepped out of their respective roles or boundaries before, and he could see the young officer flush with indecision. “You would be doing me a kindness, Lieutenant,” Spock continued gently. “I find that I do not wish to be alone this morning.”

“Of course, sir,” the young man said. He gestured to a table. “What about there?” At Spock's nod, he said, “I will get out of your way, sir, while you make your selection of foods.” As Spock turned, he added shyly, “Maybe while you eat you'll tell me something about your time aboard the Enterprise. I have heard that you served under Captain Kirk.”

Spock allowed a tiny smile to come to his face. Even after all this time, the Kirk mystique remained. He nodded. “Yes, Lieutenant, I served with Captain Kirk the entire time he captained the Enterprise. I would be glad to share some stories if you wish.”

When he approached the buffet table, Spock was faced with momentary indecision. The pancakes did smell good. Looking back at the young face which followed his every move, Spock decided that perhaps it was time that he tried blueberry pancakes again. There were always possibilities, and if he could inspire a new generation of officers who knew what could come of his sharing tales with this young man. Slowly he reached to put the pancakes on his empty plate.

Chapter End Notes:

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