"Let me go; I can walk." McCoy struggled to regain his
feet. His head felt like he'd won first prize at the
Romulan Ale chugging contest.
"Illogical," T'Lar observed from her litter.
He made it almost to the head of the steps before he
crumpled. An adept caught him and carried him down the
McCoy awoke in soft, clean sheets that smelt of jasmine in bloom and a
woman's touch. His head felt modestly better--as long as he
stayed lying down, that is. He found that out the hard way.
But--mercy of mercies--the room was climate controlled for what felt
like 22 or 23, and so he was quite content to remain right where he was.
"How are you feeling?"
The voice was vaguely familiar, and yet something echoed in him that he
should know it better than he did.
He focused: Amanda. He crinkled his forehead--another mistake--and
peered inward. "A little sick, a splitting headache,
exhausted, but all right." And very alone. For the
time in fifteen years or more, he was really alone. "For the
part, a lot better than before."
"Hmm. The most part." She moved better
into his line of view and studied him critically.
Time for a new subject--one that he actually wanted to discuss would be
nice. "How is he?"
She drew up her shoulders and tugged her wrap more tightly about
herself. "Alive. Intact--mostly. Whether
or not the
death changed him--" She shook her head. "I guess
know in time. "
"We all change all the time." He'd meant it to sound
reassuring, but somehow it fell flat.
"You know what I mean."
Through his mind rolled a memory of Biancus IV, a moonlit seashore,
the two of them just sitting--sometimes talking, more often not--for
hours while the tricorders ran recording the nocturnal life.
dawn they had stayed put to watch a brilliant sun come bursting through
the wispy clouds. If he were forced to give away
memories through all the planets and all the ships and all the years,
that stolen hour between dark and day spent holding hands--barely
brushing minds--and watching the sky perform its glories just for them
would probably be the last one he would allow to go.
"Yes," he said. "I know."
The catch in his voice was tiny, but she must have heard it all the
same. Years of reading Vulcans would do that--as he knew so
"You must be thirsty." From the bedside table, she poured a
from a pitcher, but he waved it away. Nothing in there could
possibly be worth the consequences of raising his head.
"Sweet tea," she cajoled. "With lemon and fresh
mint. I grow them here."
McCoy propped himself up and drained half the glass.
The bedding sighed as she sat down beside him. She refilled
glass and poured one for herself. "When people ask me if I
Earth, I have to honestly answer 'no'. I'm very happy here; I
don't 'miss' a thing. But sometimes little details like this
me back to an earlier me in a way that nothing on my new planet
can...no matter how long I've called it home."
"I know what you mean," he said. "It sort of brings back
everything from that time and place. The feelings, the
people. It makes it all real and alive again. The
were; the people we've lost."
"It's nice to have someone to share that feeling with. The
lives on when someone else validates our memories and makes them
real." The glasses made a crisp tinkle as Amanda touched hers
his, and they drank.
He leaned back on the pillow and closed his eyes.
oddest feeling nagged him that something happening was wrong.
realized what it was: nothing. The bed hadn't quivered;
hadn't moved. He opened his eyes to find her face intently
"What was my son like?" she asked.
How could he answer that in a few minutes? An hour? A
day? How could he convey Spock's sense of wonder,
to unravel the mysteries of everything--not to prove he could, but
because every drop of knowledge gleaned was precious to the collective
civilized mind? What words would do
Spock's silently borne burden of Vulcan, or his splendid, treasured
failures in private when it finally broke under the strain?
Spock want her to know the years of loneliness he had suffered, and if
not, how could one make clear the joy inherent upon discovering it to
be utterly and irrevocably gone?
Was there a way to explain these things to someone else? As
only person with the unfettered ability to get under Spock's skin at
will, he had seen things from the inside in a way that no one else in
the universe ever could.
Did he even want to try to share the best of it? What was the
proper way to describe to the man's own mother the thousands
wonderful times they had bedded to make love or the thousands of more
wonderful times they had bedded yet had not? And what of pon
farr? Once every 2500 days when Spock had permission to be
when they could be as free and giddily, goofily, madly illogical as
they wanted--was that a flash of insanity, or was that a flash of the
It didn't matter; they were all Spock, and none of it could be squeezed
into any words he knew.
"He was...phenomenal," he tried. "He was everything I would
liked to have been to better myself, if I weren't so selfish as to want
to keep the crazy emotions in my heart." He tapped at his
"We're you in love?" Her voice was earnest.
McCoy looked away. "Amanda--"
"Leonard, you have a daughter, don't you?"
"Is she happy? What does she like? Has she been in
love? Has she been hurt? Was it all worth
she have a good life? Please don't be reticent over any
ideas of decency. I want to know my son." Her voice was quiet
almost unnaturally even, but she never let her eyes leave his
He swallowed once. "We were lovers. I loved him,
but as for
being in love, I don't know. We were--" He thought of the
happy, but put it aside for now. "Content. We fit
well together, very well. Maybe even a bit too well for our
good upon occasion--you know how a close fit can sometimes chafe--but
whatever it was, it worked for us. We never talked about
or looked into it too hard. I think that once we fell in step
together, neither of us was eager to go overturning any rocks."
"You must have loved him very much to risk the fal tor pan for
Sarek had compared the separation of one katra layered over another to
the peeling of a vegetable. With a sharp instrument, it is
to do: simply scrape off the skin in flakes and leave the fruit
unscathed. But to separate the two and leave each whole--to
remove the peel in one single, undamaged sheet without once gouging the
flesh--now that is an improbable act. The stronger one is
to emerge better off at the expense of the softer.
"And you," Sarek had said, "are the softer of the two."
Kirk had made a face, but said nothing.
"Don't bet the farm on that," McCoy had said.
The twitch of Sarek's eyebrow had been almost as painful in its weak
recollection of a more familiar one, as was the thunderous silence in
the place where the obvious straight-line should have been.
"I did love him very much, but--" McCoy dropped his eyes.
"Yes, I did. I do."
"But...? Please tell me what you were about to
clutched his hand with a strength that took him by surprise.
"It doesn't matter; it wasn't anything about him."
"If it is about the man he loves," The last word was phonated
carefully. It was not a casual choice. "Then it is
Spock, and it matters very much to me."
McCoy looked down at the hand he held. He stroked its
hard-earned through the circumstances of many years. They
the hands that had bathed Spock, held him, nursed him, fed him, cleaned
his bottom, wiped his tears, brushed his hair and--at age seven--given
him ritually away unto the world of men. If anyone anywhere
understand, it would be her.
He took a breath and swallowed hard. "Amanda, I didn't do it