Memories Born of Fire
(as published in the zine SOMETHING TO REMEMBER, c. 1990)

by Gamin Davis

( TOS K&S, hurt/comfort, angst)  [PG] for pon farr discussion

An "Amok Time" sequel in which Spock's attempts to deal with
his shame and fear after nearly killing Kirk force him to face the
unsettling depths of his feelings of friendship for Kirk--especially
after the Captain's life is again endangered on Altair VI.

DISCLAIMER: For lo, the Deity Paramount doth own these characters; I
do but pay tribute to them.

    Serenity.  Calm.  A sense of peace and contentment filled Spock
as he called to mind the memories and images, normally bureid deep
within him, that often kept his life from being the self-made
purgatory he had once called it; he knew it was no coincidence that
the majority of them involved Jim Kirk.  But Spock's solace was short-
lived, his serenity shattered as thoughts of Jim were clouded by a
hot, red haze and replaced abruptly with different memories--
shameful, frightening memories of his near-murder of the only man in
the universe he had ever allowed himself to feel friendship for.

    And for the third time since their departure from Vulcan,
Spock's attempt to meditate disintegrated hopelessly into chaos.  He
sat silently on his bed for some time after that, allowing his normal
emotional controls to take over again, fighting down his
disappointment; surely there was some logical solution to this
problem--some way to deal with the matter that he just had not found

    Obviously, he needed to find it soon.  It was bad enough that he
was afflicted with nightmares every time he tried to sleep; now, he
couldn't even meditate.  He was vaguely aware that the situation was
affecting him physically--slowing his recovery from the pon farr--but
it did not seem to matter.  What *did* matter was that Jim had nearly
died at his hands, and the knowledge that he had not been rational at
the time had done nothing to quell the illogical fears and
uncertainties stirred suddenly to life within him by the incident. 
It occurred to him that perhaps Kirk's presence would somehow help.

    Spock had been confined to his quarters by his own request since
not long after the Enterprise had left Vulcan's orbit, an action
which had prompted Dr. McCoy to put him under medical surveillance
again and Kirk to extend his leave, and he had only seen Kirk once
since then.  He contacted the Bridge and was told that Kirk was in
his quarters--presently in communication with Admiral Komack. 
Curious and somewhat concerned, Spock got up and took the short-cut
to Kirk's cabin, through their shared bathroom.


    When he arrived, he found what looked from his angle like Kirk
arguing with his desk viewer--Komack, obviously, though Spock could
not see him, and Kirk, his back to Spock, trying to keep the
discussion from degenerating into a shouting match.

    "Yes, we know all about the approval of T'Pau's request for the
Enterprise's diversion to Vulcan, Captain," Komack was saying
impatiently.  "That's the *only* reason you're not facing a court-
martial right now."

    "I know that, Admiral, but--"

    "And isn't it an interesting coincidence that you and T'Pau
happened to make the same request?  In any case, it doesn't alter the
fact that you went to Vulcan despite my direct orders to the contrary-
-and you couldn't even give me an explanation of *why* it was so
imperative that you go there in the first place!"

    "I told you as much as I could," Kirk returned quietly.

    "Which amounted to nothing," Komack retorted.  "My point is
this: you owe me, Captain."

    Kirk had half-expected this.  "What do you want me to do?"  he
asked warily.

    "I assume you're back on course for Altair VI."

    "Yes, sir--we're about three days away."

    "All right, you may be late, but you won't miss anything
important," Komack concluded.  "The Excalibur and the Lexington are
each sending three representatives, so I expect you to do the same. 
The selection of two people will be left to your discretion, but you
can plan on accompanying them yourself.  You will stay for the
duration of the fesitivities," he informed Kirk snappishly.  "And,
Captain--if you value your command, I suggest you be sure that
*these* orders are obeyed."

    "Understood, Admiral."

    "Komack out."

    "Great," Kirk muttered to himself, after the screen had gone
dark.  "That's all I need, now."  He had no particular problem with
diplomatic missions under normal circumstances, but just now, he
would have preferred the peace and quiet of normal shipboard
routine.  As much as he tried not to dwell on it, the truth of the
matter was inescapeable; it just wasn't every day that his First
Oficer and best friend tried to kill him.

    Kirk sighed in resignation, turning off the communicator and
turning away from the viewer--and it was then that he saw Spock, who
was still waiting quietly just his side of the bathroom door.  He had
been watching Kirk in silence untiul now, when Kirk's eyes met his
and he bowed his head abruptly.

    Kirk turned slightly red.  No one had ever explained to Spock
*how* his Captain was able to get him to Vulcan; he had simply
accepted Kirk's promise that he *would* do it somehow, and Kirk and
McCoy had decided it would be better if their friend remained unaware
of the details.  And so he had--until now.  Kirk approached him
cautiously.  " long have you been standing there?"

    Spock spoke without looking up.  "Long enough to know
were ordered not to go to Vulcan, yet you went, anyway."

    "I couldn't let you die.  I had to."

    Spock was silent as embarrassment filled him; Kirk had risked so
much for him--and how had Spock repaid him?

    Kirk sensed the Vulcan's self-recrimination.  "I'm sorry--I
didn't mean for you to find out," he admitted hesitantly.

    Spock shook his head in negation.  "It is I who should
apologize, Captain," he returned faintly.  "I..." Somehow, he could
not find the words to finish.

    Kirk regarded him worriedly.  "Why are you here, anyway?  It was
your idea to be confined to quarters.  Have you changed your mind?" 
he asked then, deciding to change the subject.

    "No."  Spock looked up at him finally, his manner and facial
expression tightly controlled.  "I...did not mean to intrude.  I only
thought that perhaps, if you were not occupied this evening, you
might join me for chess."

    "Are you sure you feel up to it?"

    Spock raised an eyebrow at him calmly, but his response was
deliberately evasive: "It *was* my suggestion."

    Kirk was happy to oblige him.  "As a matter of fact, I could use
the relaxation.  Just let me know when."

    "Would now be convenient?"  Spock inquired uncertainly.

    "Of course.  After you."


    The game was enjoyable but brief; Spock's mind simply was not on
it, and he knew that Kirk was as aware of that as he was. 
Afterwards, Spock took an unnecessarily long time to put up the chess
set, not really wanting Kirk to leave, but realizing finally that he
had no logical reason to expect his Captain to stay any longer.  Kirk
knew something was bothering his friend, but knew also that Spock
seemed to need to deal with whatever it was--presumably it had
something to do with what had happened on Vulcan--in his own way and
his own time; he therefore chose not to impose his presence on Spock
and departed, albeit somewhat reluctantly, leaving the Vulcan alone
again with his inner turmoil.

Spock spent the rest of the night in a futile attempt to sleep,
his efforts repeatedly thwarted by a nightmare--it always seemed to
be the same one, or portions thereof--that defied his usual logic and
emotional control, straining them to the limit.  By around 0400, he
had given up trying to sleep and just lay quietly on his bed as he
tried to sort through the confusion of his won emotions.

    That was how Nurse Christine Chapel found him later that morning
when she went to check on him at McCoy's request.  Spock allowed her
to enter mainly because she had gone to the trouble of bringing him
food, even though he was not particularly hungry.  Neither was he in
any mood for conversation; this was obvious to Christine, and she did
not linger or try to force her presence upon him--having not been
entirely comfortable herself in his presence, despite her concern for
him, since the discovery that he apparently had a wife.

    When she returned to pick up the tray an hour or so later,
however, and discovered that Spock had barely touched his food, she
felt compelled to comment on it.

    "I am not hungry, Miss Chapel," Spock informed her evasively,
deciding it was not necessary for her to know the real reason he was
unable to eat.

    "Dr. McCoy wants you to get some food in you," Christine pointed

    "I am quite aware of that, Nurse," Spock returned, his voice
edged with impatience.

    "Then perhaps I could bring you something later," she suggested
cautiously.  "I'd prefer not to have to tell Dr. McCoy that you're
still not eating."

    Spock got up from his desk with a disinterested sigh, aware of
her concern, despite her restraint, but choosing for the time being
to ignore it.  "You may return, if you wish, but I cannot promise to
eat," he told her finally, as he headed back into his bed chamber.

    "But, Spock, why can't you--?"

    "Miss Chapel, please," Spock interrupted, a little more abruptly
than he'd meant to, cutting her off.  "I realize that my physical
condition must be of prime importance to you as the Enterprise's Head
Nurse, but if I seem unable to eat, I also cannot explain why."  His
manner softened a little as he turned back toward her and sat down on
the bed.  "I ask you--as someone whom you respect, and for whom you
have held...certain emotions--not to inquire further."

    It was not a request Christine could refuse, though the fact
that Spock had made it only made her even more worried.  She nodded
understandingly.  "If you haven't eaten by tonight, I'll have to tell
Dr. McCoy--and he may ask about you before then.  I'm not going to
lie to him," she cautioned him.

    Spock appeared unperturbed.  He knew that if McCoy had been able
to piece together the symptoms well enough to deduce the nature of
the pon farr without any hints from Kirk (who had obviously kept his
word and kept his friend's revelations to himself--as if Spock had
ever had any doubt that he would), it was entirely possible that he
already knew something other than his efforts to recover from pon
farr was still amiss within the Vulcan; Kirk certainly knew, and had
probably alerted McCoy.  "*That* I would not ask of you," Spock
assured Christine.

    Their eyes met for a moment in mutual understanding and
acceptance, then Christine wen back to Spock's desk, gathered up his
tray, and quietly left his cabin.


    Spock never did eat anything else that day, and Christine was
eventually forced to report it to McCoy, who passed it on to Kirk;
Kirk went to see Spock in hopes of finding out what it was that was
still troubling the Vulcan so, but Spock could tell him no more than
he had told Christine.  Although he was slowly beginning to realize
that his most likely source of help in this situation was Kirk, he
somehow could not bring himself to discuss it with him; it would
force Spock to reveal too much of the emotions he had kept so
carefully controlled since their departure from Vulcan.  Worse still,
it would force Spock to admit something he was not yet ready to
admit, even to himself: the importance to him of Kirk and his


    Kirk left Spock to himself for the rest of their trip to Altair
VI, despite his growing concern for his friend, since his few visits
seemed to accomplish nothing except making the Vulcan uncomfortable. 
Odd, Kirk reflected; Spock seemed willing enough to accept his
company when offered, yet was always somehow tongue-tied in his
presence--whether by choice or not, Kirk still didn't know.  He made
sure that McCoy and Christine continued to keep as close a watch as
possible on Spock's condition.  Spock continued to eat very little,
and McCoy evidenced a strong suspicion that he hadn't slept, either;
for his part, Spock said nothing of the nightmares that still plagued
him whenever he tried to sleep--seldom though that was now.

Finally, they arrived at Altair VI.  Hirk went to see McCoy
before preparing to beam down, having been informed that the Doctor
had finally convinced Spock to come to Sickbay for a follow-up
examination; he found both of them still in the examination room,
Spock still lying on one of the diagnostic tables as McCoy continued
to study the instrument readings on the panel above.  Christine was
there, also, standing at Spock's other side and ready to assist,
though Kirk suspected she was there more out of concern for Spock
than out of necessity or sense of duty.

    Kirk, now in dress uniform, waited silently just inside the door
and eventually managed to catch McCoy's eye; Kirk headed toward him
as he left Spock's side, handing his electronic notepad to Christine,
and they met in the middle of the room.  "How is he?"  Kirk asked.

    McCoy appeared both uncertain and worried.  "The physical and
emotional pressures that were building up inside him before we beamed
down to Vulcan are gone, but *something* is definitely going on with
him; what he's eaten since then wouldn't add up to one decent meal--
and the indications are that he hasn't slept, either."

    Kirk knew that Spock had slept only sporadically since the pon
farr had begun to affect him; that had been at least a week and a
half ago--probably longer, since no one but Spock knew when the
symptoms had actually begun to appear--and the possibility that he
was still losing sleep did not bode well.  Even a Vulcan could not
continue indefinitely without either it or food--and after all,
however much Spock might prefer to deny it, he *was* only half-
Vulcan.  "And you don't know why," Kirk concluded.

    McCoy shook his head.  "Whatever it is, he's not talking about
it--not to Christine, though she's tried to get him to, and certainly
not to me," he admitted, concerned.  "I take it he hasn't said
anything to you, either."

    Kirk looked as helpless as McCoy felt.  "I've tried to get him
to discuss it, Bones, but he just gives me that look he always gives
me when I'm getting too close to finding out something he's trying to
hide from me and says nothing," he told McCoy, in
frustration.  "After what he's just been through...after what I've
already made him admit to me...I don't *want* to pressure him to tell
me what's wrong.  But if his condition is unchanged by the time I
beam back up, I may *have* to.  I can't very well let him starve or
tire himself to death."

    "And that seems to be the only thing that might help, short of
sedatives or force-feeding--which, in Spock's case, we wouldn't have
to worry about for a few weeks.  But I wouldn't recommend letting him
go on wrestling with it for that long, and I don't think either of us
intend to."  McCoy regarded him gravely.  "I usually resist
diagnosing Spock as I would a Human, but in this instance, it seems
appropriate; he *did* nearly kill you, Jim, and the shock of that may
still be somehow affecting him.  I really wish Admiral Komack hadn't
insisted on you beaming down yourself; Spock needs you right now--
it's not a good time for you to be away from the ship for a week."

    "Don't I know it?  If I thought there was a snowball's chance in
Hell of talking him out of it, I would have already," Kirk returned,
somewhat guiltily.  "Unfortunately, he's well within his rights and
I'm treading on thin ice; I've already ignored his orders once."

    McCoy nodded understandingly, and they both turned back toward
Spock, going quickly to his side; he was trying to ignore Christine
as she stood next to him, trying to divide her attention between the
diagnostic panel and his face, obviously wanting more than anything
to hold his hand but knowing she didn't dare.  She moved aside to
make room for Kirk as he drew near.

    Spock looked up at him from behind a granite wall of emotional
control, but pleasure and relief shone behind the dark eyes at his
Captain's appearance, and Kirk noticed some of the tension leaving
his muscles.  "Captain," he greeted Kirk quietly.

    "Spock," Kirk responded in the same tone.  "I'm about to beam
down.  I wanted to see you once more before I left--the entire
Inaugural celebration lasts a week, you know, and I'm under orders to
be there for all of it."

    "Yes, I remember.  I was present when you and Admiral Komack
discussed the matter," Spock reminded him, managing to keep his inner
turmoil hidden from Kirk as he wondered what kind of state his friend
would find him in after having endured the nightmares and the
emotions that seemed to accompany them for another week.

    "And when I get back, you and I are going to have a talk," Kirk
informed him decidedly.

    Spock started to protest.  "I cannot promise--"

    "Spock, listen to me.  You're not're not sleeping. 
I don't know what it is that's bothering you--but surely, whatever it
is, you know by now that you can trust me with it."  Kirk's eyes
pleaded for acquiescence.

    Spock looked back at him in embarrassment, lowering his eyes as
he realized he didn't really want to fight Kirk's concern for him any
longer.  "It will be...most difficult," he admitted faintly.

    "I know that; you just do your best to tell me, and I'll do my
best to understand."

    Spock nodded in acceptance, sighing resignedly.  "Very well,
I...will await your return."

    "Good."  Kirk turned to McCoy and Christine.  "Take care of him,
you two--and keep me posted," he directed.

    "We'll try, Jim, but he's *not* exactly our most cooperative
patient," McCoy returned dryly.

    "So I see," Kirk observed homorously, smiling slightly as he
turned back to Spock.

    Spock directed a raised eyebrow at both of them in a mildly
affronted expression, until his eyes came to rest on Kirk and he
realized they were just teasing him.  He was used to that from McCoy,
but for some reason, it made him more uncomfortable when Kirk did it;
now, however--as usual--he bore it without complaint.  Kirk's way of
teasing was different from McCoy's, always gentle, cautious--and only
occasionally demonstrated.

    The amusement left Kirk's face, but his smile remained; he
reached out to briefly cover Spock's hands, which lay folded on his
chest, with a hand of his own.  "See you in a week, Spock."

    And a moment later, he turned and left.


    During the ensuing days, Spock's recovery from the pon farr
slowed to a standstill; Kirk's inaccessability seemed only to
intensify the fear and shame within the Vulcan.  The nightmares
continued, and Spock soon found himself spending as much time just
trying to stay awake as trying to deal with his emotions.  His
appetite did not improve, either, though he did try periodically to
eat--mainly to humor McCoy and Christine, who continued to visit him
occasionally, bringing him food, checking on his physical condition,
and still sometimes trying to get him to talk.

    Spock, however, withdrew into himself, his thoughts--as always--
centering on Kirk and the ceremony at Koon-ut-kal-if-fee.  He could
not drive from his mind the image of Kirk's unconscious form and his
own hands holding the ahn woon twisted around his Captain's neck, nor
could he forget the nightmares that had inexplicably begun to assail
him the night after he had beamed back up (and he had found--much to
his joy and relief--that Kirk was still alive).  The twenty-or-so
minutes during which he had thought Kirk was dead had given Spock
more of an idea of what Kirk's death would have been like for him
than he ever wanted to have--and the fact that he himself had been
responsible only made it worse.

    It had been too close, Spock reflected.  And he knew now that he
had to face some difficult facts about the depth of his emotions
toward Kirk.  Acceptance did not come easily, however; as was the
case with any emotion he discovere within himself, he had always been
ashamed of his friendship with Kirk--something else he had to keep
buried deep inside, since it was worsened by the knowledge that Kirk
had been aware of this shame ever since the Psi 2000 mission and the
virus that had induced Spock to reveal it to him.  Paradoxically,
there was no denying the value of their friendship, and Spock had
tried to overcome his embarrassment, but so far, it had been a losing

    Now, Spock found that battle starting anew as he tried to deal
with the possibility that he might well not be able to exist without
Kirk or his friendship.  He remembered all too clearly his final
words to T'Pau and knew that he had been even then preparing himself
to pay for Kirk's murder with his own life.  It seemed illogical to
him, even irrational, for a Vulcan to be so emotionally dependent on
one person; loyalty to Kirk as his Captain was one thing, perfectly
permissible and, in fact, his duty...but to feel affection for him as
a friend and even a brother was another matter entirely and
completely unthinkable.

    And, unfortunately, just as unavoidable.  Spock searched himself
for the reason why and found his answer in other emotions buried deep
within him--the sense of isolation and desire for acceptance that had
made him vulnerable to the friendship Kirk had offered him in the
first place.

Inevitably, there came a point in time when Spock fell asleep
again, was again assaulted by the nightmares--and was still trying to
recover when his door buzzer sounded; it was Christine again, as
usual, bearing food.  Spock admitted her only with extreme reluctance
and because, despite his questionable emotional state, he welcomed
the company.

    It was obvious to Christine even as she set the tray down on his
desk that something was wrong with him, even moreso than she had
noticed before.  His eyes were haunted and his muscles stiff with
tension.  She abandoned the matter of food for the moment, going to
him as he stood shakily and started out of his bed chamber toward
her.  "No, it's all right--stay where you are," she said gently.

    Spock gratefully retreated to his bed and sat back down as
Christine watched him in alarm.  She followed him cautiously, and,
when he did not seem inclined to object, sat down on the bed beside

    "Spock, what is it?"  she asked anxiously.

    Spock remained evasive as he struggled to regain his usual mask
of control.  "I am merely...fatigued.  I have not had a full night's
sleep in approximately three weeks."  He turned to face her
hesitantly.  "Perhaps Dr. McCoy could prescribe a sedative of some
sort...I seem to have no other alternative."

    "I'll ask him as soon as I get back to Sickbay," Christine
promised, still studying him uncertainly.  "I could just leave the
tray if you'd rather be alone," she offered, then.

    "You may leave if you wish, but I...have no objection to your
presence," Spock responded, trying to keep his voice as nearly
emotionless as possible.

    Nothing could have been a clearer indication to Christine of the
seriousness of his condition, since Spock seldom demonstrated any
particular affinity for her company, but McCoy had by now discussed
his diagnosis of Spock's condition with her, and she knew that it was
unlikely that he would be willing to discuss whatever was bothering
him with anyone but Kirk.  The situation called for patience and
unquestioning acquiescence; for the time being, it was enough for
Christine that the Vulcan *was* disturbed and *did* want her company,
whatever the reason.  "Then I'll stay," she told him finally.  "On
the condition that you try to eat something."

    Spock nodded in agreement, bowing his head in acceptance of her

    "Don't move.  I'll get your tray."

    She stayed with Spock as he sat with the tray in his lap,
picking at his food--actually eating very little of it, as usual;
finally, he gave the tray back to Christine, who took it back to his
desk and returned quickly to Spock's side.  They studied each other
for a time in silence, and Spock saw her anxiety and frustration as
she was compelled--both by her emotions for him and by his usual
reserve about discussing personal matters--to endore his turmoil
without knowing how to help him.

    Spock met her gaze with a momentary expression of helplessness
in his eyes, then dropped them abruptly, embarrassed by what he had

    Christine sat back down beside him, and when Spock finally
looked back up at her, met his eyes entreatingly, suddenly unable to
stand his silence any longer.  "Spock, please...please talk to me. 
Tell me what it is that's hurting you so much," she pleaded.

    Spock's face was emotionless as he responded, except for a
certain emptiness and longing within the dark eyes.  "I...cannot.  It
is...something that must remain between the Captain and myself," he
explained, with difficulty.  "Can you understand that, Christine?"

    She nodded, and Spock lay down again on the bed, his hands
folded loosely on his chest.  "You *have* decided to talk to him,
then," Christine concluded, slightly relieved.

    "It does seem necessary," Spock admitted reluctantly.

    "He won't be back for four more days," she pointed out dubiously.

    "I know.  I will manage until then."

    Christine was not convinced, but she was increasingly aware that
questioning Spock was only making him more uncomfortable--and she
wanted more than anything for him to be at ease in his presence.  She
therefore fell silent again, watching his obvious efforts to relax,
her mind racing as she speculated on what it was that had caused his
sudden relapse after their departure from Vulcan and his subsequent
ongoing inner torment.

    McCoy had told her very little about the ceremony on Vulcan--no
more than what had been necessary for her to understand why she was
having to work frantically with him to revive Kirk from the near-coma
induced by the neural paralyzer McCoy had been forced to give him. 
She knew only that Spock, while still in the irrational state which
none of them had so far been willing to explain to her, had attacked
and nearly killed Kirk during the ceremony.  Obviously, it had
something to do with that--but she could only guess at the thoughts
and emotions that the incident must have aroused within him to cause
him such distress.

    She noticed Spock looking up at her with understanding and
appreciation in his eyes, belying his otherwise controlled facial
expression, and realized in embarrassment that she had taken one of
his hands in hers and was holding it; as she started to release it,
however, Spock squeezed her hand gently and reassuringly.  "I realize
I do not express it well, but I *am* grateful for your concern," he
told her softly.

    Christine smiled slightly in response, retaining her hold on his
hand, and sat beside him for another hour or so in silence before
finally leaving to return the tray and go back to Sickbay.


    Spock's request for a sedative did nothing to alleviate McCoy's
growing concern for him; he was always hesitant to give Spock drugs,
since their effects on him were rather unpredictable because of his
Vulcan anatomy--which often seemed a law unto itself in that it was
influenced by just enough Human elements to cause it to deviate
somewhat from what McCoy understood to be the Vulcan norm.  Spock
knew this as well as he did and usually preferred to rely on Vulcan
mental techniques, which normally accomplished the same things as the
drugs, without the unpleasant side-effects.

    Now, however, McCoy knew from Christine's observations (and his
own medical intuition) that Spock had been unable even to meditate
and had turned to this as his last hope of getting some sleep.  He
went himself back to Spock's quarters to administer the sedative,
carefully instructing Christine to stay with Spock and keep an eye on
him, contacting McCoy immediately if any untoward side-effects
appeared.  Spock tolerated the attention being lavished upon him in
silence, aware and appreciative of their emotions toward him, but
still able to think only of Kirk.

    Within him now was a growing and illogical (from Spock's point
of view) need for Kirk's company, which he strove to keep controlled
and suppressed.  Assuming Jim *could* put him at ease enough to
discuss the nightmares and emotions that had been at war with him
since they had left Vulcan, what would he think of his First Officer
afterwards?  Spock realized abruptly that Kirk had conveyed nothing
of *his* emotions in the matter.  Though that had probably been done
out of consideration for him, Spock could not help wondering about

    It was all too easy for him to look at the incident from Kirk's
point of view: as a blatant and unjustified murder attempt against
him by a man he considered his best friend.  Spock did not consider
the irrationality of the blood-fever to be a sufficient excuse, and
he the terrible feeling that Kirk would not, either--though he might
say otherwise.  Spock found himself wondering if Kirk would ever
completely trust him again--particularly in any situation in which
the Captain's life was at stake.

    And the worst part of it was that, in Spock's view, there was
not a thing he could say in his own defense if Kirk actually
confronted him with the question of how he could be trusted now.  As
illogical as it seemed, however, the Human part of him still trusted
enough in Kirk's affection and compassion for him that he still hoped
with all his being that Kirk could forgive him.

McCoy had barely gotten back to Sickbay when Sulu contacted him
from the Bridge.  The landing party had a medical emergency, and all
three of the Enterprise's representatives at the Inauguration
Ceremonies were beaming back up.  He lingered just long enough to
arrange for a gurney and a nurse to accompany him, deciding for the
moment not to disturb Christine or Spock until he had found out how
serious this was, then hurried off to the Transporter Room.

    They were still on the transporter platform when McCoy arrived:
one Security guard and Scott--supporting an apparently unconscious
Kirk.  McCoy just stared at him in shock for a moment.  "Jim--! 
Scotty, what happened?"  he managed finally.

    "We'd all just sat down to a formal dinner, Doctor--all of us,
the President's guests, and the people from the Lexington and the
Excalibur, too--and it happened just as we started to eat," Scott
explained quickly, as he helped McCoy get Kirk onto the
gurney.  "Everybody who started on the appetizers collapsed as soon
as they took their first bite--maybe five or six people in all. 
Unfortunately, the Captain was among them."

    McCoy was already running his medscanner over Kirk's body as
Scott hurriedly dismissed the Security man.  "Sounds like...yes, it
is.  Some kind of poison," he muttered, half to himself.

    "I was afraid of that.  I brought back the rest of the appetizer
he was eating," Scott informed him, producing something wrapped in a
silk napkin.  "Admiral Komack's already been informed, and the
Lexington and the Excalibur have recalled their representatives.  And
if you'll not be needin' me further, I'd best get on to the Bridge."

    McCoy nodded in acknowledgement, taking the wrapped appetizer
from him.  "I'll let you know, Scotty.  Come on, Nurse, let's get him
back to Sickbay."


    A few minutes later, McCoy had Kirk confined to a doagnostic bed
in Sickbay.  And, while the appetizer was being analyzed in the lab,
McCoy realized reluctantly that he had bettre notify Christine; he
contacted Spock's quarters from a wall communicator near Kirk's
bed.  "How's he doing, Christine?" 

    "He fell asleeep, finally, about half an hour after you left,"
she replied.

    "Under the circumstances, it's just as well that he's going to
be asleep for a while."  McCoy drew a deep breath.  "You'd better get
back down here, Christine.  We've got an emergency and I'm going to
need you."

    "An emergency?"  Christine repeated, instinctively alerted.

    "The landing party.  I'll explain when you get here."

    "I'm on my way."

    By the time she had arrived, McCoy had received the lab analysis
of the poison, and he quickly filled Christine in on what had
happened as they went to Kirk's bedside.  "Analysis shows that the
food was laced with droxium--which isn't fatal if we can get him the
antidote within eight hours," he told her.

    Christine looked relieved.  "That's no problem--we already have
most of the necessary ingredients."

    "Right, so get to the lab and get started on the antidote, and
I'll keep an eye on him.  With any luck, it will already have taken
effect by the time Spock wakes up and he won't even have to know what
happened to Jim."

    Christine nodded once and hurried off to the lab, while McCoy
returned his attention to Kirk and the diagnostic panel above his
bed; the indicators were still fluctuating erratically.  McCoy
searched his mind for information on the particular poison that Kirk
had been exposed to.  Droxium--a drug recently approved for use as a
stimulant among certain non-Human races and produced on a number of
Federation and neutral planets, some of which lay very close to the
Klingon Neutral Zone.  Among Humans, however, even small amounts of
it could be fatal unless the antidote was administered immediately.

    Symptoms ranged from nausea, headaches and cramps in the early
stages to high fever, delirium, convulsions, and finally death. 
Without the antidote, droxium and its effects lingered unabated in
the body like any debilitave disease until the victim either died, or-
-in a few cases McCoy had heard about--forced himself to disgorge the
entire contents of his stomach before the terminal stage was
reached.  It was a form of relief usually unavailable, however, since
another of the drug's effects was that vomiting was usually

    McCoy contacted the Bridge to pass along what he had learned to
Scott and was told it would be passed along to the Captain of the
Excalibur, whom Admiral Komack--anticipating foul play--had assigned
to assist the President's staff with any investigation that might be
necessary.  Upon learning that McCoy's staff was already working on
the antidote, Komack immediately put him in charge of the treatment,
and McCoy agreed to make it available to the Medical Officers of the
Excalibur and Lexington--as well as the President's staff physician--
as soon as it was ready.

    The minutes crept by as McCoy continued to monitor Kirk's
condition.  Over an hour had passed when Christine contacted him from
the lab.  "How's that antidote coming?"  he asked anxiously.

    "We're working on it.  But it's going to take a while; we're
going to have to synthesize a few of the ingredients," Christine
informed him.

    That, McCoy knew, would make the process even more time-
consuming--but if it had to be, it had to be.  "Do you have all the
materials and equipment you need for that?"

    "Yes, we're doing fine.  We'll hopefully have it ready within
another couple of hours," she assured him, then hesitated before
speaking again.  "Doctor...I think Spock should know about this."

    McCoy sighed in resignation, knowing she was right; there was
still a small but very real possibility that the time factor might
prove fatal for Kirk.  "I suppose so, though this isn't exactly the
kind of news I'd have wanted to wake him up for," he admitted, at
last.  "I think I'd better stick close to Jim.  Can you be spared?"

    "I don't see why not--for a few minutes, anyway," Christine

    "Good luck.  McCoy out.

Christine found Spock as she had left him, asleep on his bed,
lying on his side.  She drew hesitantly closer to him, hating herself
as she studied his face, knowing this was probably the first time he
had slept peacefully since the madness had begun to affect him, and
finally sat down beside him on the bed.  After a moment, she touched
his shoulder; when he didn't move, she shook it gently.

    Spock slowly rolled over onto his back, rasing a startled
eyebrow at her as he realized she would surely not have awakened him
unless it was imperative that she do so.  "Miss Chapel?  How long
have I been asleep?"

    "Only a couple of hours.  I'm sorry, Spock--I wouldn't have
disturbed you if it had been anything else," she apologized sincerely.

    Spock sat up now, regarding her warily.  "What is it?"

    "A medical emergency--the landing party.  They were at a dinner,
and somebody poisoned the food...Spock, it's the Captain," Christine
revealed finally, watching him anxiously for a reaction.

    Any emotion that might have been evident on Spock's face was
lost in the whir of action that followed Christine's words as he
quickly pulled on his uniform shirt and bounded out of bed, already
headed for the door.

    "Wait!  Where are you going?"

    "To Sickbay."

    "But Spock, you can't!"  Christine protested.  "You need sleep,

    Spock whirled toward her one last time.  "I am aware of that,
but this is not the time...nor would I now be able to, as you mush
surely have known when you woke me."

    Christine's eyes conveyed understanding and she raised no
further objections; together, they left Spock's cabin and went back
to Sickbay.


    McCoy had not moved from Kirk's side when they arrived.  He
looked around in surprise at Spock's approach.  "Spock--!"

    "What is the Captain's condition?"  Spock demanded coolly,
cutting him off.  His eyes were fixed on Kirk as he spoke, his hands
clasped tightly behind his back.

    "Sleeping.  Just getting him stabilized.  They're working on the
antidote to the poison in the lab right now," McCoy replied, studying
Spock briefly.  "Spock, you're *supposed* to be asleep."

    Spock ignored him.  "Type of poison?"

    "Droxium.  It's a stimulant, but never meant to be taken by
Humans--certainly not orally," McCoy informed him.

    Spock nodded slightly.  "I have heard of it, though I am not
familiar with the symptoms of droxium poisoning."

    McCoy looked straight at him.  "For starters, it's fatal if not
treated within eight hours--but I don't foresee any problems with
that.  Christine says the antidote will be ready in two."

    Christine interrupted them.  "Which reminds me--I'd better get
back down to the lab."

    McCoy watched her leave in silence, then returned his attention
to the still-sleeping Kirk.  "Spock, look--I'm going to be watching
him constantly.  I really think you ought to--"

    "Doctor, you yourself have declared me unfit for duty.  I
therefore cannot assume command for him.  At least allow me to stay
with him, however illogical it might seem," Spock interrupted
quietly, his manner softening somewhat.  "Perhaps I...can help; if
not, I will endeavor to keep out of your way."  There was a pleading,
almost desperate expression within the dark eyes, despite his
controlled facial expression.

    McCoy met his gaze understandingly, aching inside for
Spock.  "All right, I don't guess I really expected to be able to
talk you into it," he admitted finally.  "But you're going to play by
*my* rules.  You *will* eat and get some sleep from time to time."

    "I am not leaving Sickbay until the Captain has recovered,"
Spock told him, a note of challenge entering his voice.

    McCoy nodded in acceptance.  "I thought you'd say something like
that.  It shouldn't be any problem, as long as we don't get too
busy," he returned agreeably, jerking a thumb toward the bed behind
him.  "There's an empty bed right next to Jim, and I'm sure Christine
would be only too glad to bring your food to you when she has the
time."  He cracked a smile at Spock.

    "No doubt."  Spock regarded him with a raised eyebrow before
returning his attention to Kirk.


    More time passed, during which Kirk continued to sleep fitfully
and Spock and McCoy remained at his side, McCoy dividing his
attention evenly between Kirk and the diagnostic panel above his bed;
Spock's eyes, however, remained fastened on Kirk, only occasionally
glancing up at the diagnostic panel.  Behind his mask of logic and
control, Spock could think only of the fact that Kirk's life was
again in danger when it should not have been.  He listened in silence
as McCoy filled him in on the symptoms and what was being done about
investigating the poisoning, reminding himself that so far, the
treatment--or preparation thereof--was progressing as expected;
logically, there was not yet any serious cause for concern.

    Finally, Kirk awoke and looked around.  "Bones..." he began,
then noticed Spock and evidenced some distress at his
presence.  "...Spock, you should be in bed..."

    Spock lowered his eyes in discomfort and remained silent.

    "It's all right, Jim--I told him he could stay," McCoy
interjected reassuringly.  "How do you feel?"

    "Stomach hurts," Kirk replied faintly.  "What the hell was in
that appetizer?"

    "Droxium.  Don't worry--the antidote's on the way," McCoy
hastened to reassure him.  "You're going to be all right, Jim.  Just
lie quietly and don't exert yourself."

    Kirk nodded slightly in response and turned to study spock in
concern.  "Are you sleeping all right?"

    Spock did not look up.  "I...have tried, Captain.  Dr. McCoy
even gave me a sedative," he returned carefully.

    "You *look* almost as bad as I feel," Kirk noted anxiously.

    Spock nodded in acknowledgement of this fact, looking up at Kirk
finally.  "I am somewhat fatigued.  I will try to sleep again after
Dr. McCoy gives you the antidote," he assured Kirk at last.

    As Kirk was about to respond, he felt an air hypo against his
arm.  "Bones--?"

    "This should help your stomach ache," McCoy told him.

    The three of them fell silent for a time, McCoy again trying to
watch both Kirk and the diagnostic panel, Kirk watching Spock, and
Spock struggling to maintain eye contat with Kitk.  Within him was
growing a very Human and seemingly irrational fear for Kirk's life, a
fear that Vulcan logic seemed to have no power over, and it
embarrassed him that Kirk might see it.

The diagnostic panel's indicators had by now settled down to
stable readings--all unfortunately low enough to cause McCoy
continued uneasiness.  Tension was filling the air like a noxious gas
by the time Christine finally returned.

    "Here it is," she announced unnecessarily, hurrying to join the
other two at Kirk's bedside.

    McCoy took the hypo from her.  "Great--now, if there aren't any
complications, he should fully recover after a week or two of bed
rest," he opined, administering the antidote.

    Before the contents of the hypo had even been completely
discharged into Kirk's body, Kirk began wheezing and went suddenly
into a convulsion.

    "Jim!"  Spock cried, too alarmed to think of suppressing the
emotion; he shot an unintentionally accusing look at McCoy.  "Doctor,
what's happening to him?"

    "It's an allergic reaction to something in the antidote," McCoy
explained hurriedly, glancing over his shoulder at Christine.  "Get
me an anti-convulsant , Christine--stat!"

    Christine was already on the move, and in seconds had re-
appeared at McCoy's side.  They hastily exchanged hypos, but Kirk was
still shaking too violently for McCoy to administer the shot.

    "For God's sake, Spock, *do* something!"  he ordered frantically.

    Spock complied quickly, taking Kirk by the hands, folding his
arms down over his chest, and holding them there as gently as
possible.  This restricted his movements enough for McCoy to give him
the injection.

    The latter watched Kirk's body quiet gradually, glancing up once
more at the diagnostic panel before turning back to Christine.  "Pull
Jim's medical history and take this antidote back to the lab.  We'll
have to isolate whatever ingredients he's allergic to, then see about
making him up a new batch of antidote with substitute ingredients."

    "That's going to take a lot of time," Christine pointed out

    "I know, so let's not waste any," McCoy returned, somewhat

    Christine's eyes met his understandingly, and she turned then
and left without another word.

    McCoy turned back to Kirk and found Spock studying him with an
expression of unguarded anxiety in his eyes, though he lowered them
abruptly when he realized that McCoy had seen him.  McCoy watched
silently as the Vulcan again focused his attention on Kirk, wanting
to console him, but no longer certain of what to say.


    Minutes passed and became hours as Kirk's condition began to
slowly worsen.  McCoy left his side only occasionally to check
personally on progress in the lab; Spock, of course, remained rooted
to his spot next to Kirk.  His mask of emotional control was still
firmly in place, but behind it, he was in agony--and that agony
seemed to increase as time passed and he continued to watch Kirk
sleep sporadically.  Vulcan mental disciplines could not alter the
one thought that ran endlessly through his mind: Jim could not--
*must* not--die.

    But there seemed very little Spock could do now, except continue
his protective vigil over Kirk, provide whatever comfort he could
(ignoring his own exhaustion), wait, and--as illogical as it seemed
to him--hope.  He always despised having to stand by helplessly when
Kirk's life was hanging in the balance.

     Spock tried at various points to sleep, but ended up lying on
the empty bed, wide awake, unable to take his eyes or his attention
off Kirk long enough to get to sleep.  Christine periodically came
back to update McCoy on the lab's progress and bring Spock food, but
he now found it equally impossible to eat.

    Eventually, Kirk awoke to find Spock--obviously too deeply in
thought to realize he had noticed--holding his hand as it lay on his
chest.  Kirk watched him in silence for a time, then squeezed Spock's
hand weakly.

    Startled out of his reverie, Spock met his eyes with an
expression of embarrassment; it passed quickly, however, before the
gratitude in Kirk's eyes.  "Jim..." he began, but stopped when he
realized he did not know what to say.

    Kirk tried to smile reassuringly at him.  "You look so tired,
Spock," he observed faintly.

    "That is not important, now.  *Your* condition *is*," Spock
insisted gently.

    Kirk was hardly in any condition to argue the point
further.  "I'm cold..."

    Spock realized then that Kirk was trembling.  Chills--according
to McCoy, the first of the more advanced symptoms that would signal
the approach of the poison's terminal stage; it had now been five
hours since Kirk had beamed back aboard.  Spock pulled the covers up
over Kirk's shoulders, resting a hand briefly on his Captain's
forehead.  It was already very warm.  "I know, Jim.  Just lie still
and try to relax," he replied, trying to soothe his friend.

    As Spock withdrew his hand, Kirk's hand snaked out from under
the covers to again take the Vulcan's hand in his.  "Spock...thanks
for staying with me.  You didn't...have to, you know."

    Spock lowered his eyes.  "In fact, I did.  You are the Captain,
and your well-being is of paramount importance to the Enterprise; it duty as your second-in-command to do whatever I can to
preserve that well-being, and a duty I have...failed to carry out
recently," he stated formally, but in a voice edged with self-

    For reasons he didn't understand, Spock allowed Kirk to retain
his hold on his friend's hand--for the moment, content to
unquestioningly accept Kirk's need for his emotional support--and
that was how McCoy found them upon his return from one of his trips
to the lab.  He watched them in silence for a moment from across the
room before going finally to join them.

    Spock looked up at him expectantly as he approached, quickly
releasing Kirk's hand.  "Well, Doctor?"

    "They've narrowed it down to one of the three synthetic
ingredients," McCoy reported.  "Normally, I'd have them make three
different batches of the antidote--each without one of the
ingredients--to test on Jim."

    "But he *must* receive the correct antidote within three hours,
or he will die," Spock reminded him unnecessarily.

    "I know that.  I said that's what I'd *normally* do," McCoy
reiterated kindly.  "We'll have to take a short-cut this time and
just make one batch without all three ingredients.  Don't worry,
Spock; he'll make it."

    Spock silently returned his attention to Kirk, who had again
fallen asleep, and took his hand again, squeezing it gently.

An hour later, Kirk awoke in a sweat and trembling slightly. 
MCoy reached quickly to activte a nearby wall communicator.  "McCoy
to lab."

    "Lab.  Nurse Chapel here."

    "Christine, put a rush order on that antidote.  Jim's
temperature is over 103 now," he told her urgently.

    "I already have, Doctor.  Believe me, they're doing the best
they can," she tried to reassure him.

    McCoy hesitated, sighing in resignation.  "I know; I'm sorry. 
It's just that we're running out of time."

    "I know, two hours.  We'll get it done in time," she
reiterated.  "Lab out."

    McCoy once again studied Spock; as usual, the Vulcan ignored
him, his attention focused on Kirk.  McCoy could see the effects
wrought on him by the long, anxious hours of watching and waiting and
knew that his mask of logic and control was far from being fully
intact, though there was little evidence of this on Spock's face. 
McCoy walked around Kirk's bed to stand next to him.  "Spock, there's
really nothing more either of us can do for him now, until he gets
the antidote," he pointed out gently.  "You may as well go on back to
your cabin and get some sleep."

    Spock turned to him finally, raising an eyebrow at
him.  "Perhaps I did not make myself clear earlier, Doctor.  I
specifically told you--"

    "I know what you told me," McCoy interrupted gravely.  "I also
know you have a *serious* need for sleep, not to mention food."

    "But I cannot--"

    "Spock, you know good and well that if you lie down here, you
won't sleep; you'll just watch Jim," McCoy interrupted again.  "Go
on.  Don't force me to make it a medical order."

    As Spock was about to respond, Kirk--who had naturally been
listening--got into the conversation.  "Will you two for God's
sake...stop arguing?  You're aggravating my headache," he told them,
speaking with difficulty.

    Spock and McCoy turned to him in surprise and concern, McCoy
faintly amused for some reason his mind was too preoccupied to search

    "Spock...just do as he says," Kirk finished finally.

    A hurt expression flitted across Spock's face before he was able
to suppress it.  "I was under the impression, Captain, that my
presence...was important to you."

    Kirk shook his head, never guessing what Spock would infer from
such a response.  "It's about gave some thought to *your
own* health."

    Spock found he had no further desire to argue the matter with
Kirk.  To him, this was a clear indication that his Captain had
neither forgotten nor forgiven Spock for what he had done on Vulcan--
though Spock was still sure that Kirk, if asked about it, would have
denied it emphatically.  He sighed in resignation, fighting down his
inner pain and embarrassment.  "Very well, I will go, if you insist,"
he acquiesced reluctantly, turning finally and heading for the door;
halfway across the room, he paused and turned back briefly.  "Jim...I
only wanted to be certain you were going to be all right," he
explained, just loud enough for Kirk to hear him, before turning
again and continuing on through the door.

    Kirk stared after him worriedly for a moment, then turned back
to McCoy.  "Doesn't he know I know that?"

    "Right now, all he knows is that his desire for you to be with
him at his wedding nearly cost you your life.  He needs to know that
you can forgive him," McCoy told him.

    Kirk began to tremble again.  "Ridiculous.  He's my best
friend.  Doesn't he know...I could never *blame* him for
anything...especially when it wasn't really...his fault?"  he managed

    "There'll be time enough for you to worry about Spock later. 
Right now, I want you to stop talking and try to get some rest,"
McCoy returned gently.

    It was the last rational conversation Kirk would have with
anyone before the antidote arrived; he tried to sleep, and half an
hour later awoke in a convulsion, soon followed by the first stages
of delirium.


    Spock, meanwhile, was having his own trouble sleeping after
having returned to his cabin.  In his despondency, he had forgotten
to ask McCoy for a sedative and now fought his usual battle with the
nightmare--suddenly, perhaps because Kirk's nearness to death had
aggravated Spock's feelings of shame, self-loathing and fear, more
intense and detailed than it had ever been before.

                     *   *   *   *   *   *


    Spock froze over Kirk's body, staring down first at Kirk's
colorless face, then at the garrote-like ahn woon twisted tightly
around his Captain's neck, and finally at his own hands, which still
firmly gripped the ahn woon.  Rationality and shock simultaneously
filtered into Spock's mind, followed closely by shame.

    He was given no time to dwell on it, however, for McCoy appeared
suddenly near him and pushed him rather roughly aside.  "Take your
hands off him, Spock!"  the Doctor ordered sharply, kneeling to check
Kirk's pulse.  "It's finished.  He's dead," he announced to T'Pau
after a moment, unwrapping the ahn woon from around Kirk's neck.

    "I grieve with thee," T'Pau told him, though her voice and
facial expression were so unreadable that it was impossible for McCoy
to tell whether she was sincere or just being polite.

    Spock, retreating to the side of the arena-like area that was
Koon-ut-kal-if-fee, paid no attention to her.  He became aware that
McCoy was speaking to him again and looked up to find the Doctor
beside him.  "As strange as it may seem, Mr. Spock, you're in
command, now.  Any orders?"

    Spock strove to ignore the slightly sarcastic edge to McCoy's
voice; he sighed in resignation.  "Yes.  I'll follow you up in a few
moments.  In the mean time, you will instruct Mr. Chekov to plot a
course to the nearest starbase, where I must...surrender myself to
the authorities."

    McCoy returned to stand beside Kirk's body and arranged for
their beam-up, glaring at Spock as he did so; Spock, who had been
watching him, dropped his eyes abruptly in shame and turned away.

    When McCoy was gone, he drew T'Pring aside and questioned her,
then listened in silence to her very logical explanation of why she
had chosen Kirk as her champion and surrendered her promptly to
Stonn.  As a Vulcan, Spock knew that T'Pring had never felt any
emotion for him--none that he cared to dwell on, anyway.  He had
always known it, but had agreed to their childhood bonding to please
Sarek and assumed that she had likewise agreed because her parents
wished it.  Spock had been innocent and trusting enough at the time
to believe she at least accepted him as he was.

    It was painful enough to know that his own bond-mate had
rejected him in favor of the rather immature but full-blooded VUlcan
Stonn; now she had taken advantage of his vulnerability in the blood-
fever and caused him to kill the only friend he had ever known--
something for which Spock knew he would never be able to forgive
her.  So went the thoughts rooted in his Human half, at least, and
somewhere within that part of himself, he hoped that T'Pring would do
for Stonn what she had done for him.

    Spock turned at last to T'Pau, and they exchanged a final Vulcan
salute.  "Live long and prosper, Spock," she said quietly, and
somewhat reluctantly.

    Spock shook his head in negation.  "I shall do neither," he
stated factually.  "I have killed my Captain--and my friend."

Their eyes met for a moment in understanding; even T'Pau knew
what he was implying, since they both also knew that Starfleet would
not demand the death penalty for this offense.  Then Spock, too, was
caught by the transporter beam.

Once back aboard, Spock went to Sickbay, arriving in time to see
McCoy's frantic final attempts to save Kirk.  Standing in the doorway
to the examination room as McCoy and Christine fussed over Spock's
body, Spock could just make out his muttered "Damn--if I'd only
gotten back with him a few minutes soooner" just before he finally
released the body to the ship's morgue.

    Spock moved aside a few moments later to allow them to come
through the door, then faced both McCoy and Christine as if already
standing before a court-martial board.  "I will be resigning my
commission immediately; I would therefore appreciate your making the
final arrangements for...the Captain."

    McCoy had overcome his initial resentment and wanted to console
Spock as he began to realize for the first time what the Vulcan must
be going through.  "Spock--"

    "Doctor, please--allow me to finish," Spock interrupted,
continuing with fatalistic determination.  "There can be no excuse
for the crime of which I am guilty; I intend to offer no defense.  I
will order Mr. Scott to take immediate command of this vessel and
surrender myself to him for arrest."

    McCoy and Christine exchanged worried looks as Spock headed for
the outer door of McCoy's office, and McCoy started after him.  "But,
Spock, you can't just--" he stopped, realizing he was wasting his
breath.  Spock was already gone.


    Spock went back to his cabin long enough to record his
resignation and take care of a few other personal matters, then went
back to the Bridge.  As Scott started to vacate the command chair,
Spock stopped him with an uplifted hand.  "One moment, Mr. Scott.  I
assume my last orders have been received and carried out."

    "Aye, Dr. McCoy relayed them," Scott asserted, still bewildered,
and turned to the Navgation station.  "Chekov?"

    Chekov spoke without looking up from his instruments.  "Course
plotted to Starbase 15--ETA seven days."

    "Lay in and execute, Mr. Chekov," Spock instructed, then turned
back to Scott.

    "What's this all about?"  Scott asked suspiciously.  "We're
supposed to be en route to Altair VI."

    "Admiral Komack will be informed of our change in plans," Spock
informed him.

    Several pairs of startled and confused eyes had by now focused
their attention on Spock and Scott.

    Spock faced him in controlled tension, his hands clasped tightly
behind his back.  "As senior line officer present, I present myself
to you for arrest."

    "On what charge?"  Scott demanded, not believing it.

    "Assault of a superior officer.  The Captain is dead; I killed

    Except for one or two muffled gasps, the shocked silence that
followed was such that one could have heard a pin drop.  It was Scott
who finally, reluctantly, and still in shock, broke it by activating
the communicator control on the arm of his chair.  "Security, to the

    Ten minutes later, Spock found himself in a cell in the Brig,
his door barred by a force field and two guards flanking it.


    Admiral Komack was duly informed of the incident--and of Spock's
refusal to explain it--and the Enterprise proceeded to Starbase 15
under Scott's command.  Spock, meanwhile, remained in the Brig,
feeling more totally alone than he hever had in his life; as if it
were not enough that Jim had died by *his* hand, this final disgrace
would make it impossible for him to ever return to Vulcan again--and
he did not care to speculate on the degree of shame it would bring
upon his family, particularly his father, who had as good as disowned
Spock when he enrolled in Starfleet Academy.

    Worse for Spock even than this was the knowledge that the only
other two people who had ever even tried to be friends with him--
McCoy and Christine Chapel--would not be able to provide him much
support now without implicating themselves in some way as accomplices
to Kirk's murder.  Logically, Spock chided himself, he should not
expect them to--but the Human part of him had been left as little
more than an open wound and ached for comfort and solace.

    He was somewhat ambivalent, therefore, when McCoy and Christine
both showed up for a visit on the second day of his six-day
incarceration period before they reached Starbase 15.  "Doctor, why
have you come?"

    "Why do you *think* I've come?  We want to help,"  McCoy
returned, taken aback somewhat; he had expected Spock to be pleased
to see him.

    Spock looked up slowly, suddenly suspicious.  "'We'?"

    McCoy nodded, inching a little closer to where Spock sat on his
bed.  "I've told Christine everything; under the circumstances, I
thought she ought to know," he explained cautiously.  "We've agreed
we can't just let you run up a white flag at your court-martial next

    Spock lowered his eyes again in shame, though he had rather
expected McCoy to tell her.  "You were there, Doctor; you saw what

    "Which is exactly why I have to help you, now."

    Spock faced him again, raising an eyebrow at him.  "Indeed?  And
what sort of defense did you have in mind?  Would you have me present
a twenty-minute speech on Vulcan mating customs?"  he demanded, his
voice calm but edged with sarcasm.  "I...cannot...discuss pon farr in
court.  What *can* be said without doing so?"

    McCoy was equally stymied, but it would not help things any to
let Spock know that.  "We've got to think of *something*, dammit!"

    Spock ignored his outburst.  "I am open to suggestions."

    McCoy was silent for a time as he considered the matter,
realizing reluctantly that Spock might be right; how could he explain
the circumstances surrounding Kirk's death without having to reveal
painful and humiliating details about the pon farr?

    "Doctor...there *is* no defense for what I have done.  You must
accept that," Spock reiterated, when McCoy failed to continue.

    "I can't."  McCoy decided to try a different approach.  "Jim
wouldn't want you to just give up like this," he pointed out
quietly.  "He understood that you weren't rational at the time; I'm
sure that if he were here now, he'd say he didn't hold you

    Spock had turned away at the mention of Kirk's name, but now he
turned back to McCoy curiously.  "Do you?"  he asked, without knowing
why he had done so; it was clearly not a logical question.

    McCoy cracked a smile at him.  "No, Spock, I don't," he told the
Vulcan reassuringly.  "I'll admit I was angry with you at first, but
that's just because, at the time, I needed something tangible to
attach blame to, and you were convenient.  Then I started thinking of
what Jim would want for you now, and...well, I know you've never
considered me much of a friend, but I'd like to try to be one to you--
now, of all times."

    Spock's facial expression remained controlled, but there was
gratitude in his eyes as they met McCoy's.  "I...would appreciate any
sort of help you could offer," he admitted cautiously, then looked
past McCoy to Christine, who had, until now, remained silent and in
the background.  She came forward slowly when she saw Spock looking
at her, and they regarded each other uncertainly.  "And you, your emotion for me still intact?  Can you love a

    The shame and emptiness in Spock's eyes drew Christine
immediately to his side; she sat beside him, taking his hands in
hers, shaking her head in negation.  "You're no murderer, Spock--I
could never believe that of you," she assured him gently.

    Spock bowed his head in acceptance and appreciation as McCoy
came to join them, squeezing Christine's hands once before releasing

    "Spock, *please* think about this," McCoy entreated.  "Christine
and I want to help you in whatever way we can."

    Spock nodded understandingly, looking up at them again.  "I
thank you...both of you...and I will consider the matter further, if
you wish it," he promised reluctantly.

    McCoy looked satisfied.  "We'll be back," he assured Spock
kindly.  "Come on, Christine."

    She got up, and they started for the door.

    "Doctor," Spock said suddenly.

    They turned back toward him, startled.  "Yes?"  McCoy responded.

    "You are both aware, are you not, that by offering me
assistance, you may be presumed guilty by association?"

    McCoy met the dark, anxious eyes with an encouraging
expression.  "You let *us* worry about that, Spock."

    Spock fought to suppress the relief that filled him as the
guards briefly de-activated the force field to allow McCoy and
Christine through the door.  He *had* their support, despite whatever
the cost might be to their own careers and reputations, and his Human
half took comfort in that; to the Vulcan within him, however, it
somehow only added to his embarrassment, despite his awareness of
their sincerity.

McCoy and Christine kept their promise and visited him regularly
during the ensuing days, mainly providing moral and emotional
support, since it became increasingly obvious to both of them that
Spock's inability to discuss pon farr in public made any defense
almost impossible.  Spock could plead temporary insanity, skirting
the issue of whys and wherefores, and McCoy could provide proof that
this insanity was the result of a medically verified physical and
emotional condition--but if the court-martial board pressed them for
details, Spock would really be backed into a corner.

    The more they discussed it, the more his impending court-martial
for the murder of his Captain hurt and humiliated Spock.  The grief
was becoming harder and harder to suppress as he was forced to
relieve various parts of the ceremony on Vulcan--including the
terrible moment when he first realized what he had done to Kirk;
Spock grew increasingly aware of the fact that even McCoy's and
Christine's affection and concern for him would never compensate for
this loss or his sense of guilt in bringing it about himself.

    Jim had been one of the few people in Spock's life to accept him
as he was, Vulcan and Human both, not asking him to change--though
wanting desperately for him to finally be happy and at peace with
himself--caring about him unconditionally, offering patience and
perceptiveness just when Spock needed it most, and in general being
just as much a friend to Spock as he had been to McCoy or any Human. 
And Spock, however much he tried to deny or suppress the emotions,
had learned to accept and value that friendship; perhaps because of
the loneliness of being a perpetual outsider--whether on Vulcan or on
the Enterprise, among Humans--Spock had become accustomed to it and
even dependent on it, in many ways.  Only now was he beginning to
realize *how* dependent on it he had become.

    He continued to permit McCoy's and Christine's visits without
being certain why, since they seemed pointless, but resisted their
efforts to get him to eat and sleep again, withdrawing into himself
more and more and showing less and less interest in the approaching
court-martial.  McCoy took it upon himself, therefore, to begin
preparing what defense Spock had for him, leaving the responsibility
of keeping an eye on the Vulcan largely to Christine.


    On the day before the Enterprise was due to arrive at Starbase
15, Spock awoke resigned to his fate, having reached a decision
during the night; he had dreamed of Jim again, and now the weight of
the loss hit him with full force.  He knew he could have borne any
disgrace, if only Jim had been there for him.  Any disgrace but this--
to have killed Jim Kirk, a man whome the Vulcan part of him had
learned to respect above all others, and whome the Human part of him
had loved (yes, he told himself firmly, *loved*) as a brother. 
Illogical though it might be, Vulcan and Human both felt the void
left within him by Kirk's death.

    Spock knew also that his usual Vulcan emotional controls were
having an increasingly limited effect on the tangled emotions within
him.  His shame and self-loathing had already grown beyond the
restraining power of the mental techniques he had spent so much of
his childhood trying to master; now the grief and loneliness
threatened to engulf him even more quickly, since in his disgrace, he
found no incentive to resist it.  His professional life was over, and
life alone in a penal colony somewhere would be no more than

    When Christine arrived to make her first attempt to get him to
eat breakfast, she found him sitting at his desk with his head buried
in his folded arms.  She set the tray down immediately and went to
him, instinctively reaching out to cautiously stroke his
hair.  "Spock..."

    Spock sat up slowly, keeping his head bowed, and she very
hesitantly put her arms around him, knowing the cause of his agony
and knowing of no other way to respnd to it.  "Christine," he greeted
her faintly, permitting the brief embrace for reasons he was too
tired and dejected to question.

    "I brought you some breakfast," Christine told him, holding him
for a moment and taking the time to empathize with his lack of
resistance before finally releasing him.

    "If I eat it, would you be willing to discuss something with me
other than the court-martial?"

    "Of course.  What do you want to talk about?"  she asked,
touched by the Vulcan's apparent need to share what was within him
with her.  She sat down next to the desk and waited for him to

    Spock folded his hands on the desk before him.  "I have not
spoken of this before; I had hoped it would not be necessary," he
began hesitantly.  "But...perhaps it will somehow help.  I need to
discuss...the Captain."

    "Would you be more comfortable talking to Dr. McCoy?"  Christine
asked anxiously.

    Spock shook his head.  "No, you...and I do not wish to
wait," he assured her.

    "All right, I'm listening."

    Spock realized abruptly that he was unsure of how to
begin.  "Doubtless you are by now aware that...the Captian considered
me a friend; I have even heard him say...that he thought of me as his
*best* friend," he managed finally.

    "I know.  You two were very close," Christine asserted.

    "I was always...honored...that he found it possible to feel so
deeply for me, yet...ashamed that I might feel the same emotions
toward him," Spock continued, with difficulty.  "And he knew,
Christine.  I...accidentally told him when I was infected with the
Psi 2000 virus.  Yet he still wanted to be my friend--as illogical as
it must have seemed to him to feel for someone who could not return
the emotion without being ashamed."

    Christine smiled encouragingly at him.  "He knew how much you
wanted and needed his friendship, Spock, however much you denied it
to yourself."

    Spock remained uncomforted.  "But I was never a friend to him; I
did not know how to be.  I had never had one before," he returned,
sadness edging his voice.  "I could never even tell much
his friendship meant to me, or how...deeply...I felt toward him."

    Christine reached out to cover his hands with hers.  "You didn't
have to.  He knew," she assured him gently.

    Spock looked up at her finally, his grief evident in the dark,
sad eyes that met hers.  "When I explained the pon farr to him, he
seemed...most perceptive and understanding.  I only asked him to
stand with me at the ceremony in order to show my appreciation of
this, and...for once, to acknowledge our friendship," he finished, at
last.  "I...never meant to hurt him; I can only hope that...wherever
he is now, he can understand that...and forgive me."

    Christine got up again and went back around the desk to his
side, taking him briefly in her arms again.  "Of course he does," she
told him soothingly.  For the moment, Spock permitted the
embrace.  "However, I don't think he's too pleased about the way
you're handling this court-martial," she continued, in concern.

    "Perhaps not, but he *would* understand...just as he always
seemed to understand everything that was within me," Spock countered
quietly.  "The court-martial is of little consequence to me, since
there is only one way it can end; it is enough that you and Dr. McCoy
have chosen to stand by me."

    Christine sat back down and allowed him to finish eating.  "Can
I get you something else?"  she asked, after he had finished.

    Spock pushed the tray aside.  "Yes, if you would.  I left a
small bundle of clothes and other personal items on my bed.  If you
would go to my cabin and get it for me, I would be most appreciative."

    "All right.  I'll be right back."

Christine left and returned some twenty minutes later with the
bundle.  Spock asked to be left alone and slowly began unwrapping it,
removing things one at a time: a few articles of clothing, a computer
tape--actually, his will--his IDIC pendant, and something he would
not have removed if he had thought Christine was still there--a relic
from Vulcan's past in the form of a small ceremonial dagger that had
been mounted on his wall.

    He had planned it all out days ago, just after recording his
resignation.  Vulcans did not normally condone suicide--except under
certain circumstances, when there was a sound, logical reason for it--
and Spock doubted that even his full-blooded Vulcan father, Sarek,
could have found fault with hit motivations, now.  The disgrace of a
murder charge and knowledge of the shame it would bring to his family
was unbearable enough, but Spock had known at the outset--or at least
suspected--that he would not be able to tolerate the loss of his
Captain for long.

    Christine paused at the door, turning back to him one last time
with the intention of saying something encouraging, and saw Spock
withdrawing the dagger from the bundle.  "Spock!"

    Spock froze.  "I asked you to leave, Christine.  Go!"  he
reiterated, more harshly than he had meant to.

    "I will not!"  Christine retorted, in alarm, rushing back to his
side.  "Spock, drop that dagger!"

    Spock shook his head, turning the dagger toward what appeared
externally to be the right side of his stomach.  "Try to understand,
Christine," he pleaded softly.  "Jim has become too much a part of me
and my life.  Something of me...died with him on Vulcan; I am only
completing a task I should have completed then.  I am not
irrational.  Vulcans consider suicide preferable to living in the
degree of disgrace I would have to endure."

    In fact, he *was* rational; his voice and expression were as
calm as ever.  Only his eyes gave him away--the heart-broken
expression reflected within them and the wetness of tears that
threatened to fill them to overflow capacity.  And Christine was
shocked into the realization that he had every intention of doing
it.  "No--please, God, don't!  We care about you!"  she cried
frantically, lunging at him in an effort to grab the dagger away.

    But Spock was too quick for her, and in a moment, green blood
was spraying everywhere.

    "Oh, God..."  She shouted quickly toward the door: "Guards, get

    As they cpmlied, Christine returned her attention to Spock,
helping him up from the floor where he had fallen and over to his
bed; there she sat beside him, tears filling her own eyes as she
examined the still-bleeding wound and realized McCoy would never get
there in time to save him.

    Spock reached up with difficulty to touch her face.  "
sorry.  I choice," he managed to whisper.  "
love me.  That's why...I want so much...for you and Dr. McCoy to...
understand why I did this."

    Christine took his trembling hand in hers and squeezed it
gently.  "Shh, Spock...just lie still.  Dr. McCoy will be here soon,"
she tried to reassure him, through her tears.

    "But promise will both try to understand," Spock
persisted, his voice becoming raspy.  "I have no more...wish to hurt
either of you than...I ever had to hurt Jim.  I need to know..."

    "We'll try," Christine promised, mostly out of desperation to
calm him.

    Spock fell silent for a time as Christine continued to hold his
hand.  "I will not see...Dr. McCoy again," he informed her just
audibly, at length.  "Tell him...I valued his friendship."

    "I will," she assured him.

    "And know also that you..." his voice failed him.  With the last
of his strength, he pulled slightly on Christine's hand, drawing her
gradually close enough that her face was near his--then raised his
head a bit and brushed his lips against her cheek.  It was his last
conscious act.  Christine gathered him into her arms, then sat
holding him and crying silently as she waited for McCoy to arrive.

    Spock awoke trembling violently.  When he became conscious of
his surroundings, he felt something gripping his shoulders--and saw
Kirk, miraculously and beyond hope, sitting beside him on his bed and
staring at him in alarm.  "Jim--?  How--?"

    McCoy gave me the antidote about an hour after you left and
released me as soon as it took effect; I came straight here--I've
been right here by your side ever since then," he explained
hurriedly.  "What about you?"

    Still trembling, Spock bowed his head and was silent for a
moment.  Then he spoke again.  "If I asked you to do something for me
without any questions, you would do it, would you not--no matter how
illogical it seemed to you?"

    "You know I would," Kirk returned gently.  "Just tell me what
you want me to do."

    "Hold me."  Kirk could barely hear him, but already Spock was
inching just noticeably toward him, fighting down his embarrassment.

    Kirk drew the Vulcan into his arms and held him silently as
Spock, ignoring the protests of his own Vulcan half against this
undignified lapse into emotionalism, curled up tightly against Kirk,
taking comfort in the physical contact and the necessary reassurance
it provided of Kirk's presence and existence.  Kirk sensed this need
within his friend and tried to console him.  "Shh, Spock--I'm here,
I'm's all right," he whispered soothingly.

    "Jim, please...please forgive me," Spock entreated, his voice
somewhat muffled, since he was speaking into Kirk's shoulder.  "I
would never have invited you to the ceremony if I had known what
T'Pring intended.  When you were so patient and willing to tolerate
my company, even in my madness, I knew only that I wanted you to be
with me; it was your right as my friend to be there, and my right to
ask you, so I did.  But I never *meant* for you to be harmed."

    "I know that.  You weren't responsible, my friend," Kirk assured
him.  "I think we all understand that.  And just for the record, I'm
*glad* you invited me."

    Spock fell silent again, allowing Kirk to continue holding him
and feeling his trembling body gradually calm itself.  Kirk, too, was
silent, still not wanting to force Spock to talk before he was ready
(knowing now that that time would not be long in coming), and they
sat quietly in the darkness of Spock's bed chamber for a long time
afterwards.  Kirk periodically rubbed Spock's back as he held him,
feeling the Vulcan slowly relax against him, and realized that Spock
was falling asleep again; relieved, Kirk let him sleep.

    Sometime later, Christine came to check on them and was
gratified by what she found: Spock quite soundly asleep in Kirk's
arms, his head still resting on Kirk's shoulder.  "Dr. McCoy sent
me," she whispered.  "I won't stay long enough to disturb him.  I
just wanted to see how he was."

    Kirk nodded understandingly.  "He's all right, now, Nurse," he
assured her, whispering back.  "Look around in here and see if you
can find a blanket or something."

    Christine complied, actually glad to have an excuse to stay; her
love and concern for Spock had at last conquered her discomfort in
his presence, though she wondered if that would still hold true after
he had recovered.  Finally, she found a heavy, woven coverlet in one
of his dresser drawers.  She brought it to Kirk, and together they
drew it around Spock.  Then Christine lingered for a moment, studying
Spock's tranqiuil-seeming face and reaching out to cautiously touch
the silky, black hair; at last, she reached a decision.  "This may be
the only chance I'll ever have to do this," she whispered--and, as
Kirk was about to ask her to explain, she leaned forward and kissed
Spock softly on the cheek.

    Then she got up carefully from the bed and addressed Kirk.  "You
won't tell him I did that, will you?  I think it would just embarrass

    Kirk shook his head, unable to keep the smile entirely off his
face.  "Your secret's safe with me," he promised her.

    Satisfied, Christine turned and left as quietly as she had


    McCoy was waiting for her in Sickbay when she returned a short
time later.  "How're they doing?"  he asked anxiously.

    Christine greeted him with a pleased expression.  "Spock's
asleep, Doctor--sleeping like a baby in the Captain's arms."

    McCoy allowed himself a relieved sigh.  "Thank God.  At least
now I know he won't be needing any more sedatives."  As he turned to
leave, he saw a suddenly troubled look cloud her eyes.  "Christine?" 
he prompted, puzzled.

    "Doctor, what is he going to do if...something ever really
*does* happen to the Captain?"  she asked hesitantly.

    The question hung ominously in the air between them for a time
before McCoy finally managed to answer her.  "I don't know,
Christine.  I have my theories...but I'm in no rush to check them
out.  It's a question Jim and I don't ask, especially when something
like this happens; we're afraid to find out the answer."

    He turned then and left the office.

It was several hours later before Spock awoke, drawing the
coverlet more tightly about him as he sat up, and at once relieved
and embarrassed to find Kirk still there.  "Jim...I am sorry."

    Kirk smiled at him reassuringly.  "No need for apologies.  Just
*tell* me what it is that's been disturbing you so much lately."

    Spock nodded resignedly, speaking with his eyes lowered.  "It
is...what Humans would call a nightmare.  A series of mental images
that seem to occur only when I sleep--images that begin with the
ceremony, only..."  He stopped, and Kirk waited patiently for him to
resume speaking; finally, he did.  "...In this nightmare, you do not
survive the ceremony."

    Kirk had hoped Spock would elaborate further, but there seemed
no need to press him for details; he had said enough.  "That explains
your lack of sleep.  What about the rest of it?"

    Spock still did not look up.  "The nightmare made me realize
that there were...uncertainties...within me, both about myself and
about you," he continued hesitantly.  "You are as aware as I that I
am...not facing my emotions, but...that is what I
have been trying to do."

    "Sometimes that's easier if someone else helps you," Kirk
pointed out carefully.

    "So it seems--particiularly if one is half-Vulcan.  But that is
why you are here."  Spock looked up, facing Kirk finally.  "My
memories of what happened that day vivid, even if they are
not entirely complete.  They...return so often during the day that I
cannot even meditate--memories conceived in madness and born of the
fire of plak tow," he revealed slowly, his eyes troubled.  "Almost
killing you has made me important you are to me."  His
eyes grew quiet again, and he regarded Kirk uncertainly.  "When I
thought you were dead, I wanted--" he stopped abruptly, lowering his
eyes again in shame.

    "It's all right, Spock--go ahead," Kirk urged gently.

    Spock shook his head, refusing.  "You will think me irrational."

    "You know me better than that," Kirk countered, not changing his

    Spock reluctantly began again.  "When I thought you were dead,
I...I wanted to die, also.  Jim, I think...that my life would be
meaningless without you."  His voice was full of embarrassment.

    Kirk again took the bowed head on his shoulder.  "That may be
unusual, but it's not irrational," he consoled Spock.

    "For a Human, no...but a Vulcan should not attach such value to
emotional satisfaction," Spock insisted, still obviously
embarrassed.  He permitted the physical contact, still eager for any
sign of acceptance and forgiveness from Kirk.  "Perhaps
my...need...for what you have given me is so great because I have
never had it before," he opined faintly.  "You are the first...
friend...I have ever had, Jim; if only I were Human enough to know
how to be a friend to you."

    "You *have* been a friend to me," Kirk assured him sincerely.

    Spock lifted his head briefly and regarded his Captain
apprehensively.  "But now?  Can you ever again completely trust a
First Officer who has tried to kill you?"  he questioned.  "If you
believe you cannot, willing to transfer to the Intrepid; life is here, with you."

    "No, Spock, there's no reason for you to transfer; you're my
best officer--there's no reason I shouldn't trust you," Kirk assured

    Spock's eyes searched his, found only affection and sincerity
there, and bowed his head in acceptance, resting it lightly on Kirk's
shoulder again.

    Kirk again drew him close and hugged him.  "My're
very special to me, too," he said softly.  "That's why I want you to
let me--and McCoy and Nurse Chapel, too--help you recover from the
pon farr."

    "I will try," Spock promised uncertainly.

    "Good enough.  Now, what else can I do for you?"

    "For now, I need only...your presence," Spock replied, his voice
just above a whisper.

    And again, they fell silent, Kirk gently holding the Vulcan in
his arms once more.  Spock tried to concentrate on the mental
impressions which the physical contact allowed him to receive from
Kirk, since it had become increasingly important to him to know
Kirk's true thoughts on this situation; unfortunately, the
impressions he received were not conclusive enough to satisfy him. 
That left him with one option, as reluctant as he was to resort to
it; he would have to have Kirk's permission first, of course, and
couold only hope that his friend would not be insulted that he found
it necessary.

    Spock sat up slowly, making himself meet Kirk's eyes.  "Jim, I
must ask...something else of you," he began hesitantly.  "I will, of
course, understand if you do not wish to give concent, but...I must
at least ask."

    "Go ahead."

    Spock drew a deep breath.  "You are familiar, I believe, with
the Vulcan mind-meld."

    Kirk nodded warily; Spock had demonstrated it once or twice, but
seldom on Humans.

    "If you would not object, I...would like to mind-meld with you,"
Spock continued, watching Kirk with controlled anxiety in his eyes
for a reaction.  "The contact would be brief--only long enough for me
to see your thoughts."

    "You think I've been lying about forgiving you and trusting
you," Kirk concluded, somewhat hurt.

    "No," Spock assured him softly, squeezing Kirk's amr gently.  "I
believe you and trust you, as always...more than I would anyone
else.  But I need...verification.  Can you udnerstand that, Jim?"

    Kirk nodded again.  "Under the circumstances, I think I can." 
He studied Spock worriedly.  "Your thoughts wuld be exposed, too,
Spock--and your emotions.  Are you sure you want to put *yourself*
through that?"

    Spock bowed his head slightly.  "You already seem to understand
so much of what is within me that willing to do so.  Would you
perhaps object to sharing your thoughts and emotions with me?"

    "No, of course not, if you think it'll help you," Kirk acceded

    Spock drew nearer to him again, beginning to prepare himself.

    "Is it going to hurt?"  Kirk asked, more out of curiosity than

    Spock shook his head.  "It should be painless.  The only danger
lies in my...rather unpredictable mental control, since I have little
experience in mind-melding with Humans; however, as you are probably
aware, I would not ask it of you if I did not think it would be
reasonably safe."

    Kirk closed his eyes and waited as Spock positioned his fingers
gently on his Captain's face.

    "Our minds are merging, Jim," Spock whispered.  "Our minds are
one.  I know what you know...I feel what you feel..."

Kirk gradually became aware of Spock's presence within his mind
and slowly opened his thoughts to him.  Spock explored them
cautiously, gently touching and examining Kirk's memories of the
ceremony, paying particular attention to his emotions: initially,
only concern for Spock and pleasure at being asked to join him at his
wedding...a mild but noticeably distaste for T'Pau...surprise at
T'Pring's choice of him as her champion...horror at the discovery
that he would have to fight Spock to the death...and fear and pain as
the realization set in that Spock *was* really going to kill him if
he didn't act first.  Spock saw his own face--bearing an expression
of irrational determination, his eyes burning with the blood-fever--
his own hands, and the ahn woon...then, blackness.

    Spock continued to examine Kirk's more recent thoughts and
emotions.  The remembered fear still hung in the shadows deep within
Kirk, but the more dominant emotions he held for Spock remained
unchanged: concern, affection, compassion, exasperation--and yes,
trust.  //It is true, then.  You do not fear me enough to distrust
me,// Spock's mind observed, allowing Kirk to feel his relief.

    //No, Spock.  It just shook me up a little, that's all,// Kirk's
mind responded gently.

    Spock slowly began lowering his remaining mental shields,
allowing Kirk to examine *his* thoughts, memories and emotions.  Kirk
explored them cautiously as Spock opened them to him, one by one.  He
saw Spock's image of him, normally buried deep within himself yet
secretly nurtured--friend, brother, hero, and even savior (for
Spock's view was that Kirk had saved him from himself by reaching out
to him and offering him friendship when Spock was unable to ask it
for himself).  He saw the depth of Spock's affection, appreciation
and fierce loyalty to him--and his relatively new but startlingly
intense fear of losing that friendship.

    Then Kirk was allowed to see a glimpse of the reason behind both
the friendship and the fear of its loss as Spock--with noticeable
difficulty--revealed to him a deeply-repressed memory fragment.  Kirk
saw a group of Vulcan children, one of whom was being teased
mercilessly by the others--Spock, obviously, trying to maintain
control of his emotions and stand up to them, but finally fleeing
home, retreating to an isolated corner and crying silently.  The rest
of the memory was drowned in emotions--anger, pain, self-
recrimination, humiliation, and a loneliness and longing for
acceptance that had persisted within him throughout his life--and
Kirk felt moved and honored that Spock was willing to share them with

    He showed these feelings to Spock.

    //I trusted you with the knowledge of the pon farr; I can trust
you with anything else within me,// Spock's mind answered simply. 
With his emotions laid bare as they now were, Spock immediately but
unintentionally revealed another thought to him--a desperate plea for
reassurance, devoid of his usual logic because it, too, came from
that part of him which he so seldom allowed expression: //I could not
bear to be so...alone...again.  Not after having known the sense of
belonging that you have given me.  I am still isolated, but now, at
least, I have...a friend...when I need one.  I do not wish to lose
that friend, ever.  Please, Jim, promise me.//  Spock himself was
uncertain *what* promise he expected Kirk to make, and Kirk perceived
this uncertainty.

    He hesitated, knowing full well he could not promise Spock that
nothing would ever happen to him...but knowing alse that he needed
some kind of encouragement.  //I'll promise you this, Spock: you will
be loved and cared for, no matter what happens to me,// Kirk's mind
assured him finally.  //And I'll promise to be careful, also; I have
no plans to die any time soon.//

    Spock's mind conveyed satisfaction and relief as he continued to
touch and explore Kirk's thoughts, still allowing Kirk to gently
examine his.  Then, gradually, Spock withdrew from his mind, finally
breaking the meld.

    Once freed from the meld, Kirk watched in worried silence as
Spock sat with his head bowed, waiting to recover; it seemed to take
longer than usual.  "Are you all right?"  Kirk asked anxiously, after
several minutes.

    Spock nodded slowly, realizing for the first time just how far
below normal his physical condition had fallen; a mind-meld of
perhaps five minutes had thoroughly exhausted him.  "I...regret the
necessity of the mind-meld.  I...hope...that you did not find the
experience too distasteful," he managed to respond ruefully.

    "No, certainly not--but *you* did," Kirk observed carefully.

    "Not because of anything revealed by you," Spock tried to
reassure him.  "I simply find it difficult to adjust to...someone
else having such intimate knowledge of my emotions.  It was a
necessary risk, since I had to be certain...but I would never have
dared ask it of anyone else."

    "Did it help you?"  Kirk asked, then.

    "I think you know that it did--and I thank you for giving

    Kirk smiled encouragingly at Spock as the Vulcan looked up at
him finally.  "Think nothing of it, Spock--I found it very
enlightening.  I feel as if I know and understand you so much better,

    "Then the mind-meld *was* mutually beneficial, after all," Spock
concluded, a relieved expression playing about his eyes.  Then he
bowed his head again.  "I am very tired, Jim..."

    "I know.  You have a lot of lost sleep to catch up on," Kirk
replied understandingly.

    "If it would not interfere with your duties, I...would still
appreciate your company," Spock admited hesitantly, obviously
embarrassed.  "I should not ask it of you, I know, but...if the
nightmare should return..."

    "It's all right; I don't mind," Kirk told him gently.  "I'm not
going to be back on the Bridge for a while, anyway--and neither are
you.  McCoy's assigned both of us medical rest leave for two weeks."

    Spock nodded silently in acceptance of this, stretched out on
his bed next to Kirk and tried to relax, his eyes remaining fastened
on Kirk as time passed and he gradually drifted off to sleep.  He was
still sleeping abnormally, with his eyes closed, so Kirk kept a close
watch on him, calming the Vulcan when he grew restless, keeping one
of Spock's hands held between his own and sometimes squeezing it. 
And somehow, Kirk's presence seemed to disspel the nightmare each
time it began; as he had before in Kirk's arms, Spock slept
peacefully for several hours.


    During the next couple of weeks, Kirk and Spock both recovered,
though Spock did so more slowly than Kirk.  Scott relayed to them the
findings of the Excalibur's investigation team and the President's
staff on Altiar VI: the poisoning had been perpetrated by a
surgically-disguised Klingon in an apparent effort to ruin the
Inauguration; however, only two of the six people poisoned had not
lived to get the antidote, and the Inauguration itself went on as
planned--minus one other of its designated guests, since Kirk had no
intention of returning.  Fortunately, Admiral Komack excused Kirk--
very grudgingly--from attending when he found out Kirk was on medical

    Meanwhile, Kirk and Spock spent most of their convalescense
together, since Kirk made himself available to Spock whenever the
Vulcan seemed to want his company--talking to him, sharing meals,
nursing him through the still-recurring nightmares, or sometimes just
holding Spock and allowing him to feel his Captain's closeness and
mental presence.  It was McCoy who finally suggested to Kirk that he
should set up a cot in Spock's cabin, since he would undoubtedly get
more sleep that way and it would be far more convenient for them to
keep each other company.

    McCoy and Christine divided the responsibility of bringing them
food.  Spock found that his appetite increased as the frequency of
the nightmares decreased--which it did only very slowly.  As the
final few days of their leave approached, Kirk still was not
completely comfortable leaving Spock alone for the entire night and
still tended to sit up with him until he was sure the nightmares were
not going to bother his friend.  However, Spock's condition *was*
improving; McCoy had verified that.  He had gained back some weight
and looked noticeably more rested.

Kirk was fully recovered by the time their leave was over (which
McCoy considered a minor miracle, since, in his view, Kirk had still
not gotten sufficient sleep), but McCoy was unwilling to certify
Spock fit for duty yet.  His recovery was still incomplete, the
Doctor told Kirk; the Vulcan still tired easily, was weak from the
lack of food, and his reaction time was still down noticeably.  On
the Bridge, that could be critical.  Kirk reluctantly agreed with
McCoy's recommendation that Spock remain confined to his quarters for
another week, but managed to talk McCoy into letting him assign Spock
some work he could do in his cabin--knowing Spock might consider it
helpful now to immerse himself in his duties.

    After Kirk reluctantly took down his cot and moved out of
Spock's cabin, Spock willingly accepted whatever jobs Kirk offered
him, even thought he was fully aware that most of them were little
more than busy-work.  It was simply not logical to expect Kirk to
shirk his command responsibilities in order to spend the amount of
time he *had* been spending with a sick First Officer--even if that
officer was a friend; Spock accepted that--or at least told himself
that he did--but there were still times when it was difficult, and it
helped to have something to do.

    Kirk still visted him, of course, whenever he could during his
off-duty hours, but Spock never *requested* his presence except after
the nightmares--and even then, he still felt very guilty about doing

    At last, however, the nightmares stopped.  Spock found himself
able to eat regularly again, and even beginning to be able to
meditate.  He found also that he was able to reflect back oin the
ceremony, avoiding any inordinate amount of pain by concentrating on
aspects he had not so far considered--such as T'Pring's part in it. 
That, unfortunately, was one part of the nightmare that was true;
T'Pring, like him, had agreed to their bonding out of a sense of
filial responsibillity.  She had no interest in Spock--as she had
effectively proven at the ceremony--and even their mental bond had
deteriorated enough over time and distance (and, no doubt, aided by
the lack of emotional attachment) that Spock had never known that she
and Stonn were plotting against him.

    Not long before he was due to report to Sickbay for a final
examination, Christine came to him with what she knew would probably
be the last meal she would ever be allowed to bring to him.  Spock
regarded her thoughtfully as he ate and she waited, as usual, near
the door--again uncertain about inflicting her presence on him, now
that he was nearly back to normal, and still confused in her own
mind, Spock knew, about what had happened on Vulcan and why it had
been so imperative that Spock go there in the first place.  It had 
not lessened her concern and devotion to him, he noted.

    Spock studied her with renewed respect and appreciation,
remembering her part--one of the few pleasant parts--in his
nightmare.  His own bond-mate, pre-selected for him by his father in
accordance with Vulcan custom, had coldly rejected him in favor of a
full-blooded Vulcan; here was a woman who loved him as he was, and
tried to understand him--a Human woman, yes, but one who would have
given herself to him freely and completely, forever, as bond-mate and
wife.  If only Spock had been free to ask her.  She deserved to know
the truth; might prove useful to her in another seven
years or so, when the pon farr came again.

    "Christine, please--come sit down," Spock requested finally,
pushing his tray aside.  She complied hesitantly as he rested his
elbows on his desk, folding his hands and steepling his fingers
before him.  "I should like to explain to you...what happened to me."

    Christine shook her head resignedly.  "You don't owe me any
explanation, Spock..." she paused, directing a hurt look at
him.  "...though you might have at least told me you had a wife."

    Spock nodded understandingly.  "That is part of what I must
explain.  T'Pring and I were mentally joined as children...a brief
ceremony involving a mind-meld, such as I have had to use on occasion
during the course of my duties here...after being selected for each
other by our parents.  As I told the Captain, less than a marriage
but more than a betrothal.  The ceremony on Vulcan was supposed to
have been our wedding..."  For the next hour or so, Spock spoke to
her hesitantly and with much embarrassment of the pon farr and its
accompanying madness, the ceremony, the challenge, the blood-fever,
the act that had freed him of it...and the terrible, if mercifully
brief, time that he had spent with Kirk's death on his conscience.

    Christine listened without interrupting until he was
finished.  "Oh, you mean to say that all this anguish
you've had to endure was caused by T'Pring *not* wanting to marry

    "That is somewhat of an oversimplification, but essentially
correct," Spock confirmed quietly, his head now bowed.  "It is also
true that T'Pau might have at least warned the Captain at the outset
that the challenge was a fight to the death."  He forced himself to
look up at her again.  "And I never told you, Christine, because...I
had hoped that my Human blood would protect me from pon farr.  In
that event, my bond with T'Pring would have dissolved--freeing both
of us, her to marry Stonn and me to choose my own bond-mate in
preparation for my next pon farr...or perhaps even to court and marry
as a Human would.

    "As it stands now, I *am* free of her and unbonded, but sometime
within the next seven years, I will have to choose another bond-
mate.  I have chosen to tell you about this now because you...have
treated me with with more consideration than T'Pring ever did,
and...I wish you to know that I have appreciated it."

    Christine, moved deeply by Spock's willingness to share this
with her, reached out cautiously to touch his hand--but then stopped
herself, afraid he would pull away.  "I'm glad you told me.  I know
it must have been difficult for you, and I promise it won't go any
further--I know that's what Captain Kirk promised," she told him

    Spock nodded once in acceptance of her promise.  "The knowledge
I have just entrusted to you is forbidden and virtually unknown to
Humans, but I knew your respect for my dignity as a Vulcan...and your
emotion for me...would guide you in this matter."

    Their eyes met for a moment in understanding, and Spock bowed
his head, reaching awkwardly for Christine's half-offered hand and
surreptitiously touching it to his lips.

    From him, it was a gesture bound to melt the coldest heart--and
it was all Christine could do to keep from embracing him.  "Spock...
you *did* say you would have to choose another bond-mate, didn't
you?"  she inquired cautiously, instead.

    Spock looked back up at her, already knowing what she was
thinking.  "Yes, sometime before my next pon farr comes."

    "Do you think there's any possibility--?"  But, no.  Christine
could not bring herself to ask the question that was already eating
away at her--not now, with Spock just recovering from the traumatic
experience that one pon farr had turned into.  She had waited this
long for him to even show any signs of willingness to *tolerate* her
feelings for him; she could wait as long as she had to for an answer
to this question.  At least, now she knew he was unbonded--and he
would *have* to choose another bond-mate eventually, or die in his
next pon farr.

    Spock, still seeming aware of her thoughts, raised a quizzical
eyebrow at her.  "There are always possibilities, Christine.  At the
moment, I can promise you nothing; I do not even know if I could
satisfy the emotional needs of a Human say nothing of many
other factors that would have to be considered.  However, much can
happen in seven years.  Ask me again in approximately six; perhaps
then I will know how to answer you."

    Christine nodded in silent understanding, gathering up Spock's
tray and heading for the door.  Although she couldn't help wondering
if Spock would have been so reluctant if she were Vulcan, she was
grateful to him for giving her at least a glimmer of hope.  He
definitely had not said "yes"--but he hadn't really said "no", either.

    And whatever the next seven years brought for Spock, Christine
could be sure of two things: she would still be waiting for his
answer--and Jim Kirk would stand with him at his wedding.

                  *   *   *   *   *   *

    "You know, Jim, some one of these days, these ceremonies will be
the death of you."

    "In which case, Bones, remember--you have standing orders to
bring me back to life."

                           McCoy and Kirk
                           "Amok Time", STAR TREK 3
                           by James Blish