Kirk took a last pull from his glass, grimaced at the burn in his throat. He rummaged in his desk, found pen and paper. He began to write.
When I came to your suite after fal-tor-pan, I couldn't get your attention. I bet I have your attention now. I know you'll read this all the way through--you won't be able to resist examining all the evidence. So at last I can make you think about our life together, our careers, what we gave up. I can make you see what we should have kept, even if I can't make you feel it.
Since we spoke in your rooms on Vulcan, I haven't been able to decide whether you don't remember, or don't want to remember, or can't remember. I wish I knew. It would make a big difference. Most of the time it seems to me that you can't remember--I saw you struggle with the calculations when we were returning with the humpbacks. But then I think of how you read part of our past in my mind, knew it for the truth, and refused--well, no, you didn't exactly refuse to remember, or refuse to do anything about it. You did offer to move in with me again. I thought that was exquisitely cruel, offering me your body, but not your mind, not the thing that matters to you.
What you've refused to do is to return to your old self, to reincorporate Amanda's character and beliefs, her human weaknesses and strengths, your own human half. I think Amanda has realized that: she urged me to leave you long before Sarek did. I've given up trying to figure out what's going on in your head. I used to be able to, but not any more.
I'm guessing you don't or won't remember how we came together, our walk that fine San Francisco evening after we returned from our mission to stop Veejur. I have to admit that if you don't remember it now, then I don't want you to remember it at all. I'd rather have it exist as it really was, without Vulcan interference. Leave the emotion alone, let it dwell in the past--don't clutter it up and cover it with Vulcan analysis.
However, you probably ought to review our fight with the Fleet administration, since like it or not it'll still have consequences for your career. You should pull your personnel file, and ask Chekov, and Uhura, and Saavik about their testimony in the hearings. The brass didn't like it, you know--they didn't like two command-level officers on the same ship forming a personal attachment, and they fought damned hard to split us up. In the end it was a letter from T'Pau that did the trick, or so Sarek implied. Apparently she informed the disciplinary board that when a Vulcan bonds with a Terran or another nontelepath, both suffer if they're separated for long periods or by great distance.
You owe thanks to your parents, among others, for sharing that intimate information with T'Pau, but I very much doubt you'll muster the common courtesy to thank them. I'm sure you'd regard that as unnecessary emotionalism.
At the time I was overjoyed by the board's decision to let us stay together. More recently I've concluded I didn't like being portrayed as weak, as needing to be near someone in order to be healthy and sane.
I didn't much consider what it was I was giving up for you. Future advancement, the ability to move to a different class of ship--oh yes, the Fleet extracted its price. Something for us, something for them. They couldn't appear to be rewarding officers who were violating regulations. How naive we were when we thought we were safe if you approached me, rather than the other way around. I laugh to think of it now. I laugh thinking of a lot of the agony we went through--I went through--to keep us together. All for nothing, all just playacting in a script written by Admiral Katossian, meant to keep Starfleet's nose clean.
Well, Spock, here we are. I tried so hard to create a world for us, a world that you threw away when you decided all on your own to reset the engines. What gave you the right? I always wanted to ask you that. But it wasn't permitted to question the decision of a sacrificial victim. De mortuis nil nisi bonum, and all that crap. I'll ask you now. What gave you the right? It wasn't your ship to save, it wasn't your decision to make. Maybe the brass were right when they said that a relationship between a commanding officer and a subordinate would corrode the chain of command. Certainly you took a lot on yourself, sacrificing yourself for your shipmates. The Great Captain Spock. Dying in the line of duty, dying to save his comrades in arms. That was my job, Spock, my role. I was the admiral, the ranking officer. And I'll always be the captain of the Enterprise. The captain goes down with the ship, he doesn't delegate someone to go down in his place. I'd rather have died on the Enterprise a hundred times over, rather than go through the last months. It kills me to admit it. To say that another person meant more to me, in the end, than that beautiful ship. To say that I *needed* someone else that much. That the Enterprise wasn't enough.
And it *will* kill me. I've given up too much, Spock, far too much. If I keep going I'll lose what remains of my dignity, too, and I refuse to do that. Things have reached a ridiculous point--I can't go forward, I can't go back.
I've drawn diagrams of my choices, I've made lists as McCoy suggested, and all I see around me are dead ends and brick walls that I can't get through. What's left is this, a choice where *I* say what happens, where *I* choose my fate. I understand Rayna now in a way I never did before. And I admire her decision.
You know, I've argued with myself, I've presented cases for and against. I remember how much you worship logical arguments--you're more a devotee now than you ever were. Do you remember the erotic "holy sonnet" on our k'lin?Reason, thy viceroy in me, me should defend
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
I'd just about say that's you, right now. You think that reason is guiding you, you have always thought that, and yet reason is leading you astray. And it's destroying me. I'm sure you'll find a way to explain that logically, however. I have no fear on that point.
Maybe you remember these lines too:Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again. . .
For except thou enthrall me, I never shall be free,
nor ever chaste, unless thou ravish me.
That's what I've learned from your Vulcan philosophy, Spock. Opposites. Contradictory opposites. So here's one for you. Alive, I can never again have you, it seems. But dead--no one will ever forget the legendary James T. Kirk, who killed himself for a Vulcan. In death, we'll be joined forever.
Chew on that, *t'hy'la.*
He put down his pen and folded the paper in two. He wrote Spock's name on the outside with firm strokes. Briefly he rested his head on his folded hands.
Kirk rose and headed for the bathroom. He took up his razor, foamed his face with precision, and with minute attention removed the day's growth of beard. He washed his razor, shook it, and hung it to dry.
He reached into the shower and set the water dial to hot. Methodically he stripped and stepped into the pounding stream. Turning his mind deliberately away from memories of what they'd done together in that cubicle, he lathered himself up and washed his whole body in minute detail. Careful soap, careful scrubbing, clean head to toe.
He stepped out and dried himself off with a large towel. Smoothly he combed his damp hair back from his forehead. He stared at himself for a moment in the oval mirror, but saw nothing he recognized in the eyes that looked back.
Still nude, he walked through to the bedroom that they had shared, the one green-lit with the glow from the enormous k'lin. He stood in the middle of the room, looking upward at the shimmering sky that the silk made overhead. Green hills and valleys draped across the ceiling and around the room, with rivulets and streams of silver and gold paint where the words of the poems stood out.
What joy he'd felt, the first time he'd seen it, the first time he'd seen the written record of his vows to Spock and Spock's to him. Yards and yards of shimmering emotion, of heartfelt passion, no matter its Vulcan name. The echo of Spock murmuring words in the harsh alien tongue that was his birthright, arms wrapped tightly around his lover.
Sharply he turned on his back on the k'lin and the huge bed it protected--he stalked out of the room.
Heading for the balcony, he stopped briefly and tapped a few buttons on the music console. The words of the dirge McCoy had played began to slide out of the speakers, and he rapidly keyed up the volume. The lighted bar reached five, then ten, then fifteen, as the cups in the cabinet below began to rattle.
DESPERADO, WHY DON'T YOU COME TO
YOU'VE BEEN OUT RIDING FENCES FOR SO LONG NOW
Kirk drew himself upright, closed his eyes briefly. The floor beneath his feet groaned with the weight of the bass line.
OH YOU'RE A HARD ONE, BUT I KNOW THAT YOU GOT YOUR REASONS
THESE THINGS THAT ARE PLEASING YOU CAN HURT YOU SOMEHOW
The words washed laboriously over him, draining him of thought.
DON'T YOU DRAW THE QUEEN OF DIAMONDS BOY
SHE'LL BEAT YOU IF SHE'S ABLE.
NOW THE QUEEN OF HEARTS IS ALWAYS YOUR BEST FRIEND
Slowly he turned. Gazed out beyond the terrace, at the bay distantly glittering in the last evening light. The calm waters seemed almost to wink at him.
NOW IT SEEMS TO ME SOME FINE THINGS HAVE BEEN LAID UPON YOUR TABLE
BUT YOU ONLY WANT THE ONES THAT YOU CAN'T GET
DESPERADO, OH YOU AIN'T GETTING NO YOUNGER
YOUR PAIN AND YOUR HUNGER THEY'RE DRIVING YOU HOME
He stepped onto the balcony. A hand drifted across the back of the chair McCoy had used, smoothing a nonexistent wrinkle. "G'bye, Bones," Kirk whispered.
Then he pulled out a chair from the table against the railing. Shoulders squared, Kirk stepped onto the seat. And onto the table. He lifted his arms level with his shoulders. For a moment he stood, gazing at the Promenade. They had begun their journey as a bonded pair just there at the breakwater.
He could almost touch it.
FREEDOM, O FREEDOM, WELL
THAT'S JUST SOME PEOPLE TALKING
YOUR PRISON IS WALKING THROUGH
THIS WORLD ALL ALONE
He closed his eyes, then leaned forward into the soft evening breeze. It greeted him like a lover. He leapt out, soaring in a graceful swan-dive, seeking the pavement twenty-three floors below.