McCoy's choice McCoy's Choice

McCoy continued, "It's supposed to be a fine survey of the northern part of Old California at the turn of the millennium."

"The inventors of the innernets, do you mean?" said Kirk.

"Yeah, the silly idiots who wanted wearable technology, and technology that was surgically implanted. Damned shortsighted . . . Well, no, I shouldn't be so hard on them, I suppose. Their advances did lead to our biobeds and hand-held scanners. But people paid a pretty high price."

The two had rounded a corner and now faced an illustrated timeline of local history. McCoy gestured with a finger among the bunch of names. "Here we go, 'Silicon Valley, San Mateo, Bay Area Rapid Technology'."

But Kirk had noted a different section of the screen. "Mmmm, let's look at this stuff on the 2010 earthquake. Pretty spectacular, that one."

With a hand Kirk steered his chief medical officer toward the left.

//a day off and we're looking at earthquake wreckage?// McCoy fretted to himself.

A circular case stood before them, filled with flotsam and jetsam of the San Francisco that had stood on that spot two and a half centuries earlier, or more. Dishes and plates, a fountain pen, a paperweight with a crude hologram of a rose in it, a child's plastic cup with a large purple dinosaur on it, smiling. McCoy shuddered at the eerie expression.

Then he pointed to a more intimate item. "A teddy bear," he quietly murmured in the captain's ear. Kirk, however, was engrossed in the text on McCoy's padd.

" 'These are selected items from the home of Diane Panayotis and Valerie Stettis, and their children'," he read. " 'Panayotis and Stettis, both gravitational engineers, incorporated their "Pan-Stet" floaters in the foundations of their house, located on the San Andreas Fault. Impressed by how the house survived the catastrophic quake, Starfleet began building their gravitational floaters into all star ships.'"

"Hey," said McCoy. "I knew about the engineers and the floaters, but I didn't realize we still had some of their personal stuff. Boy, that plastic really lasts, doesn't it?"

Kirk smiled. He studied the bear carefully. "Some child must have really loved that," he said. "Look at how the whiskers are bent and folded. And the ribbon is all ragged."

//we're gettin' there, Jim,// rejoiced McCoy inwardly. //don't you give up.//

The two walked through the group of rooms in thoughtful conversation, remarking on an item here and there. Only a few times did the doctor note that his companion seemed preoccupied. Once, as they passed a household software suite that had been a common joining gift in the late 2100s, McCoy saw Kirk absently rubbing the skin on his left forefinger, where the laissah had long shone. The laissah that Spock had given Jim at their joining, to match his own. McCoy knew that James Kirk had finally returned his wedding band to Spock's family, since it was ancestral property.

Amanda had tried to persuade him to keep it, saying that no one really knew whether Spock's memory damage was permanent, and that Jim should be optimistic. The captain of the Enterprise, however, took a darker view. He didn't tell Amanda why he was so certain Spock had really left him--he couldn't bring himself to put his experience in words. Not yet, anyhow. If he didn't think about it, and kept moving, he could stay one step ahead of the pain.

"What say we call it a day, Jim?"

With a seemingly relaxed grin, Kirk replied, "Thought you'd never ask. How about having a snort at my apartment? Great view of the bay this time of day."

The apartment

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