THE SILENT STARS GO BY
"I am still looking forward to some shore leave on some lovely
little...planet." Kirk passed the padd back to the young
and sank back against the command chair. With the giant
dead and Spock's shuttle safely on the hangar deck, his body finally
gave in. He felt the quivering of exhaustion begin in his
and rise to his stomach, but squelched it for the moment. He
still the captain; he couldn't give in to this space effect until he
knew his ship, his people were all secure.
Just for a
moment, he let his
eyes hang. He slipped into blackness. The waking
returned with full horror. The stars were gone!
With a jolt, he
head back and opened his eyes. The starfield once again
across the viewscreen. Kirk looked around; his officers were
focused on their stations, carefully ignoring the center seat. That
included one officer Kirk had not noticed make his reappearance.
armrests of the
command chair he pushed himself up and over to the science
station. Resting one hand on the rim of Spock's chair, he
himself casually over the station, over his officer.
"Mr. Spock," he
said with a calculated smile, "welcome back."
Coordinating damage reports now. While shuttlecraft systems
require extensive repairs, Enterprise
proper is largely undamaged. No critical systems
Spock spun to face his dangerously close captain. Hands
his lap, his face betrayed nothing but consummate professional
With a twinkle in
his eye, Jim
let him have this round. The impassivity of Spock's public
demeanor gave him as much satisfaction as any wild reunion, maybe
more. The Spock of their intimate moments would remain for
eyes only. It would be their secret.
captain." The gruffness of McCoy's voice broke through the
moment. "You're late for your appointment, Jim."
Jim answered. "We're still cleaning up here. I have
things to do."
between the effects of that dammed zone and the drugs I've had to pump
into everyone, I'm a little busy myself. And number one on my
list is to see to the welfare of the commanding officer before those
stimulants either wear off or blow him to bits! You have five
minutes to get in here or I'll send the medics up to hog tie you and
carry you down. McCoy out!" The transmission cut
regarded him, his cool demeanor unruffled. "I have been
that I am next on the good doctor's agenda, and I do not believe that
his temperament will improve by being kept waiting."
On yellow alert,
quietly, "You all right?" His face spoke openly of the grief
had so very narrowly avoided this day in a way that his voice never
begin to explain
how the Vulcan facade shifted. Spock's face was as serene as
ever, and yet Jim knew with certainty that Spock too was most acutely
aware of what they had come so close to losing.
"Quite all right,
Captain." Spock inclined his head. "I am not in
medical attention, however I suspect I will find my next period of rest
For this he was
one of Jim's patented smiles. Was it only nineteen minutes
that he had known with finality that he had seen it for the last
time? Death was nothing, but to be parted from this man was
everything. He turned back to his station before the rest of
bridge could bear witness to his loss of control and wondered if even
Surak himself could have stood fast against this man.
Round II went to
captain. Jim smiled with perfect comprehension.
gesture that could have been casual but both knew was not, Jim trailed
his fingers lightly across Spock's shoulders as he turned and headed
for the lift.
He made it to
to reach a biobed before his overtaxed body gave out
Bones stopped him at the door with a hand against his chest.
"Hold on, Jim. I've got a full house in there. Have
at the desk." Gratefully, Jim slid in just in time.
"I don't know
what you were so
worried about," McCoy muttered as he passed the scanner over his
patient. "You can't kill a Vulcan--only short circuit
In fact he'll probably want to go back several more times-- run a
heuristic study on the metabolic effects of the zone or some such
nonsense." His voice held the usual familiar acerbity, but
hand he laid on Jim's shoulder for no particular medical reason did
The hypo hissed
deltoid. Jim started to rise. His knees buckled
made it halfway up and he crumpled back into the chair.
toward him out
of the corner of his eye. "You know, Dr. Kirk, you might want
sit still a few minutes to let your body detoxify and adjust to the
lower adrenaline levels." He tucked the hypospray away and
plopped down on the edge of the desk with a heavy sigh. "But
be it from me to tell you what to do. I'm just a simple
Jim tried to
energy for a glare, but his eyelids mutinied. He lowered his
to the desk, and took the doctor's advice by necessity if not by design.
"Jim," McCoy said
quietly after a minute, "it should have been me, you know."
mumbled. Lifting his head seemed like too much effort.
have gone. It was my idea, my area of specialty. It
have been me." He spoke the words gently and evenly, like a
doctor delivering a terminal diagnosis. No emotional tirade,
his usual distancing rancor, just the simple, painful facts.
he had died--"
"I thought you
Doctor, no one's dead." Jim's clipped tone indicated the
was closed. At least for him.
McCoy would not
silenced. He said very softly, "If there were no other
would have gone to keep you from having to send him."
For this, Jim
head. In the depths of exhaustion he pulled a small smile
somewhere. "I know. And I also know he'd never
it. That's why I love you both."
This time Kirk
did make it to
his feet. The fatigue seemed less heavy somehow.
his old friend on the shoulder, he straightened and returned to his
Minutes later Jim
stood on the
threshold surveying his domain. He took the moment to study
officers--his people. They had given them their trust, their
heart, their soul, their all. It was nothing less than
miraculous. How could he have ever thought anything
How could he take any of this for granted?
center seat. The central viewer was filled with the gentle
of the passing stars, reassuring the Bridge that all was again as it
should be. Lost in thought, he felt more than heard Spock
around to stand behind him.
asked, without turning from the viewer, "do you ever stop to look at
Astronomy observations are taken routinely; I provide direct
supervision at least once a day, other duties permitting."
"Not study them,
look at them. How they twinkle and shine against the cold
space. We see them everyday, take them as something so basic,
fundamental so much a part of our daily existence, that we don't ever
really look at them any more. But they are so very beautiful.
"Do you ever just
admire them? Or the brilliant colors of the planets as they
and turn against the black? Or the shifting beauty of the
cloaking and uncovering their world?"
"I have done so
The memory returned full force. He saw himself once again
with his head in her lap. She stroked his hair; the spores
stroked his mind. Violations of the body were standard issue
field personnel. Violation of the mind, of his Vulcan soul,
that was something else. It had taken him months to reconcile
alien influence with his concept of himself--who he was, who he would
be, who he could be.
"For the first
time in my
life, I was happy," he had told his captain then. What he did
say, was if he would have it be also the last time. At that
moment, he had not yet decided. All the teachings
all the tenets of modern day Vulcan argued against it. But he
also a scientist. The very nature of science was
previously unknown quantities, was it not? Would it not be
illogical to refuse to investigate these possibilities? At
that was what he told himself the day he turned his back on Vulcan and
on the regiments of non-emotion forever.
probed with a quirky smile.
"While there were
some redeeming features, I would not choose to repeat that exact
experience," Spock said enigmatically.
"Mr. Spock, I
don't think you
have a romantic bone in your whole body." Jim waited for the
inevitable playful rejoinder, but there was only silence.
around. Spock's face was unreadable, but uncharacteristically
hands rested not behind his back, but lightly on the top of the command
chair. Jim searched his face and saw nothing but fierce
control. Later, in private, thought Jim.
they had a starship to command.
Jim settled back
in the seat,
his shoulder pinning the fingertips, not accidentally. Lost
thought, Jim gazed at the screen, the shifting starfield, and the
glorious stars that had heralded their deliverance. In all
long days and months and years that he had spent in space he had had
occasion to think of them as friend, mother, challenger,
In all that time he had never seen them as deliverance--until
today. He had never been a religious man, not in the
sense. But there was something about those stars.
all of mans' history, the stars have been a focus of constancy.
stars to be the home of the gods, the root source of everything
important. Mariners trusted their lives to the stars--used
to steer the way to glory and adventure, then safely back home
again. It's even said that a star guided the first followers
across the desert to bring them to their savior.
"Can you imagine
what it would
be like? To cast your fate unto the stars--no turning back,
or nothing. To leave everything you have behind and to simply
trust that the stars will lead you to home, life, happiness, salvation?"
straight ahead at the starfield. Or perhaps at the man
in the foreground. "I can."