Spock was dying. At his age he supposed there was nothing that was remarkable about that. Doing so in a Universe that was not one's own, utterly alone because every friend one had ever known was long dead, was. He caught himself; he was being maudlin again. He gave himself some lassitude. It was to be expected that his Vulcan control would slip as his mental faculties declined with the approach of death. His mind was weakening. He had to accept that. There was no use "beating himself up for it" as the good doctor would have put it. Never the less, he noted it as his 7th maudlin thought of the morning and did so, somewhat grumpily.
"No friends, my ass," said one of his ever present ghosts.
"I know. I don't know whether to be more offended on their behalf or ours!"
Spock closed his eyes momentarily and allowed himself the luxury of a hint of a smile at the dialogue taking place in his head. Was it in his head? These two were ever with him; his Captain, James T Kirk and Doctor Leonard H McCoy. Long dead. Ever loved. Inseparable from him even in death. One, a lifelong friend and one his ... his what? "Better half," Jim replied.
Parted from me and never parted, never and always touching and touched.
"Aw, ain't he sweet when he's being Romantic!"
"Bones, if you only knew!"
Spock gave his ghosts 'the look'.
"You're forgetting the other two."
Spock looked blank for a moment then Bones continued.
"You say you haven't any friends in this Universe; well you're forgetting the other two 'you'."
Indeed he was, but that was 'complicated'.
He thought back to the day where all the complications began, when he'd got his computations wrong, when the planet Romulus was destroyed by the Black Hole he had created to swallow the Supernova that had been threatening its existence. Of how the Romulan Nero's mining vessel, The Naruda, had then got caught by the event horizon and sucked through the Black Hole, and then his ship too. At that point he had not cared if he if he lived or died. He had thought the day could not get worse.
To say the rest the 'day' hadn't gone well for him either would be an understatement; he was captured by Nero then marooned on the ice planet Delta Vega so that he could watch the revenge destruction of his home planet Vulcan at Nero's hands, using the same black hole technology with which he'd hoped to save but had inadvertently destroyed Romulus.
But it wasn't his home planet. Not really. This was an alternative reality. A different Universe created when The Naruda had travelled through the Black Hole. There'd been a temporal incursion. It had been 2387 when they'd entered the Black Hole. As they emerged from the other side it was the year 2233. Nero's ship encountered USS Kelvin and fired on it, destroying it and killing many of its crew - including George Kirk, James Kirk's father. And the timeline was irrevocably altered and a new alternate reality, a new wholly disparate Universe began to branch off from that which Spock had known.
Spock's ship emerged through the Black Hole in 2258 into this new reality and everything was different. It was not as straight forward as simply manifesting 129 years earlier in one's own timeline would have been.
Spock almost smiled at the thought.
"That would've been a hoot compared to this, right?"
"So, whatchya going to do about 'them'? Are you going to invite them to the wake or arenchya?"
"Good Question, Bones. Keep him on point."
He thought of the ice caves on Delta Vega. He thought of the death cries of 6 Billion Vulcans. He thought of feeling every one of them cry out in horror and surprise and of the shattering grasp of glass ribs around his chest as he tried to will himself to continue to breathe. And he thought of a miracle. A man long dead. Standing there, in the ice, wrapped in skins, emanating "Jim". A reason to breathe. A reason to not breathe. He held his breath.
"James T Kirk"
His heart thudded in his side. His breath hitched in his throat. His Katra? His Katra was doing a very un-Vulcan hoedown when it wasn't staring like a slack-jawed yokel. His face betrayed no emotion.
"Excuse me?" The not-Jim with the impossibly blue eyes had said.
"How did you find me?"
(I crossed 129 years and several realities, T'hy'la)
"How do you know my name?"
(It was the first thing I remembered after I died)
"I have been, and always shall be, your friend."
"Wha...? Oh look... Uh, I don't know you!"
"I am Spock."
So had begun his first encounter with his not-Jim in this timeline. The not-Jim who emanated 'Jim-ness' from the centre of his being and sang it to him like a siren's song. So like his Jim and yet so not like, too; so emotionally vulnerable in a way his Jim had never been, at least, not so openly and on the surface. Such an upstart too. But this Jim had had a hard life, his father dying when he was just a baby and his mother ... He'd allow him 'brash' and 'upstart'.
He'd wanted to cling to him like a life raft. Truth be told he was broken by the events of the 'day' but he was an old man. How could he cling to a boy? He couldn't. But he could show him everything he had to come with the younger version of himself and hope that he wouldn't make the same pig's ear out of it that he and Jim had made of much of their lives; skating around each other when they could have had so much. And then of course the missing, wasted years. It must be different for these two.
He showed the boy, in a mind meld. Not too much. Not everything! He didn't want to blow his mind. He chuckled, remembering, as he'd chuckled mentally then. Just show him enough to make him see that a relationship with the Spock from his own timeline might be worth pursuing after all. Because at the moment they seemed to hate and despise each other. And that simply wouldn't do. There was too much at stake; too much to be lost to enmity and dislike. Even if friendship and brotherhood was all they ever had, it was a big 'all'. It was an all that had defined Spock for many years. And if it grew into something more, as it had done with he and his Jim, well all the better and richer for it. But a universe without Spock and Kirk in it as two halves of one whole, even a platonic one, was unimaginable.
Trouble was, he actually understood why the Jim Kirk of this timeline didn't think too much of the Spock of this timeline. Truth of the matter be told, he was a bit of a jerk. He was petulant, moody as fuck, and somewhat volatile to boot. Spock wasn't sure where his Vulcan upbringing had gone wrong but he knew for certain that if he'd ever behaved like this Spock when he was at school he was certain he would not have got out of there alive! As it was, he had been bullied remorselessly by the Vulcan children for being "not of full Vulcan heritage" and for being "half human" and for the slightest slip in the Vulcan mask of stoicism. How his highly emotional other self had got through school was, frankly, a mystery to him. Things were obviously different in this timeline. That much had become obvious when he had met Spock's father - his father - Sarek. His relationship with his own father could be said to be 'complicated' at best. He had disowned Spock for a period of 18 years when he joined Starfleet Academy instead of entering the Vulcan Science Institute and their relationship remained difficult long after that. This new Sarek seemed to approve of his son being in Star Fleet and appeared almost to have warm regards towards him. It was most puzzling. He could not think for the life of him how Nero's firing upon the Kelvin 25 years earlier could have effected such a change, but it had. This universe was a strange place.
"I have taken my leave of Sarek. He knows that I depart to die and that when left his compound on New Vulcan it was for the last time. Although he is not my Father he has given me a Father's farewell and we have shared our minds. He has let me know that he regrets that matters between my own father and I were not .. warmer."
"It is customary to take ones last goodbyes without emotional shields, Doctor."
"OK, so no Sarek. What about Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb?"
"I have not told Tweedle Dum. I surmised he would find news of his own demise .. disturbing. Tweedle Dee will meet us as the Rendezvous Point."
"I knew it! Didn't I tell ya you'd both be there when he dies?"
"You did, Bones."
As mausoleums go, an ice cave on Delta Vega doesn't have a lot going for it but it was where he'd come in and it was where he wanted to go out. Spock had erected a thermal barrier across the far end of it and the internal temperature had reached a balmy 18 °C. He lay on a simple camp bed covered in the furs he had been wearing. He wore a star fleet uniform that he'd had replicated to his own specifications, "circa 2153". Science Officer, naturally. He has around his neck a Vulcan IDIC pendant and in his hand as he lay prone was a holo-emitter. He played the hologram intermittently as he waited. He knew every beat and nuance of the message on it. It was a middle aged James T Kirk from his own timeline, brash, wry, confident and SINGING to him:
"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you…
I know I know, it’s illogical to celebrate something you had nothing to do with, but I haven’t had the chance to congratulate you on your appointment to the ambassadorship so I thought I’d seize the occasion… Bravo, Spock — they tell me your first mission may take you away for awhile, so I’ll be the first to wish you luck… and to say…
I miss you, old friend.
I suppose I’d always imagined us…outgrowing Starfleet together. Watching life swing us into our Emeritus years… "
Spock closed his hand on the emitter and called out somewhat weakly.
"Sorry my young friend; a joke with an old friend. Over here! I regret I can no longer rise."
"I knew he'd come!"
"Shush! You'll spoil the ending."
Jim, not his Jim, but the Jim with the impossibly blue eyes, was kneeling besides his bed. Everything was going to be alright. He wasn't going to be alone.
"It's okay. I've got you. I'm here now."
Yes, it was okay.
He was taking off his furs. Jim was standing there in his golden Captain's Uniform. And here he was, in Science Blue. Everything was good.
He knelt beside his cot and took his hand in his and smiled into his eyes.
Jim stepped forward and stepped into Jim.
Jim's eyes turned Hazel Green.
"Yes Spock, I'm here."
"Oh Jim, Ashaya. How I've missed you!"
"Shhh, Silly. I've never left you. Not for one moment."
Spock felt his heart tremble in his side, an arrhythmia that signalled the end was starting.
"Yes. Just relax. Doctor says you're going to be fine. He's here too by the way. But you already know that, don't you."
"We crossed worlds enough and Time to find you, Spock."
"Nothing can keep us apart. When I said forever I meant it, Mister!"
"Oh Jim, Ashaya!"
A tear rolled down Spock's cheek.
"Parted but never parted."
Another tear rolled down Spock's cheek and he realised they were not his own.
Jim with the impossibly blue eyes was holding his lifeless body in his arms and sobbing as if his heart would break into a thousand tiny pieces.
"I told you it didn't hurt!" said the Jim with the right colour eyes.
A grin split Spock's face like that which split the Cheshire Cat and he whirled Jim around, taking delight in the physicality of him before clasping him tight to his chest as if to never let go.
There was a clearing of a throat and forward stepped Leonard H McCoy.
"H-h-h-hhhhm. Speaking of KLINGONS... Put him down before I get jealous, will ya?"
The Doctor was rewarded with a bear hug of his own.
"Always touching and forever getting felt up, more like. Well if that's what Eternity's got in store for us, bring it on, I say. It's been long enough in coming."
"I'll say Amen to that, Doc!"
"Halleluiah, here we come!"