by Shirley Maiewski
"Captain Kirk to the bridge!"
The urgency in Uhura's voice cut through James Kirk's concentration. Lieutenant Rhetor's grip changed to a throw, and the Captain of the Enterprise wound up flat on his back with a grunt of expelled breath.
Rhetor quickly extended his hand and pulled the Captain to his feet. "Sorry, sir. You were distracted. I should have...."
"No, no, quite all right, Hanos," Kirk laughed. Reaching for a towel, he stepped to the intercom.
"Captain. Top Priority message for you, with the notation 'Captain's Eyes Only, Personal', sir."
"Thank you, Lieutenant. I'll take it in my quarters. Kirk out."
As he snapped off the intercom a slight frown grew on James Kirk's face. A notation like that on a Top Priority message -- uncommon, to say the least.
"We'll try it again another time, Hanos. You'll have to show me how you did that."
With a wave of his hand, Kirk strode rapidly out of the gym -- still in his exercise clothes, the damp towel draped around his neck. Entering the lift, he found Leonard McCoy already aboard.
"Hi, Jim." McCoy said cheerfully. "Why the frown?"
"Don't really know, Bones. I have a kind of -- premonition.... Er, don't tell Spock what I said. You know how he looks at me when I say something like that." Kirk smiled at his old friend briefly, then he told McCoy about the message, awaiting him in his quarters.
"Well now, Captain Kirk." McCoy drawled with a twinkle in his eyes. "Been romancing any Premiers' daughters lately?" Then he stepped out of the lift quickly as the doors opened on his floor -- leaving Kirk glaring after him. The glare turned into a smile. McCoy was obviously trying to lighten his mood and had almost succeeded. Still, a heaviness of worry hung over Kirk as he proceeded to his quarters.
The light flashing on his desk viewer informed him the message was waiting. He activated the small screen even as he sat down in the chair before it.
The face on the screen and the voice accompanying that face caused him to stiffen in surprise. It was Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan, Mr. Spock's father.
The calm, unemotional features appearing before him; the quiet words, in their calm, unemotional tone, made the message they conveyed unbelievable. No! He was not hearing correctly -- there was some mistake. His mind would not accept the message. He switched off the viewer and sank back in his chair, staring unseeingly at the blank screen before him.
Something stirred within him -- acceptance. There was no mistake. Sarek of Vulcan would never send him such a message unless it were true. He had to accept it - had to get the facts straight....
With a strong feeling of reluctance he reactivated the viewer. Once more the dignified face of the Vulcan Ambassador filled the screen and the quiet voice spoke:
"Captain Kirk, I greet you. There is a message I request that you convey to my son, Commander Spock. As his commanding officer, you will be able to find the proper time to deliver the message, and insure that it will in no way interfere with the press of his duties. The message will follow, in High Vulcan -- as is our custom and way.
"However, Captain Kirk, it is only proper that you should know the contents of the message. It concerns she-who-was-my-wife. The Lady Amanda has succumbed to an unknown virus. All that could be done for her was done, but in vain, for the effects of the virus could not be reversed.
"I regret that I have been the conveyor of information which may cause you sorrow. I am aware of the friendship that existed between you and the Lady Amanda. She spoke of you often -- I believe that she felt a great affection for you, in the human way. It gave her pleasure knowing that you and our son Spock were friends. For the happiness that this gave her, I thank you, Captain Kirk."
There was a pause, then Sarek's voice continued: "The message for my son follows."
Kirk switched off the viewer. He lowered his head into his hands, elbows resting on the desk as he tried to comprehend what he had been told.
The gentle Amanda was gone. Sarek had lost his human wife whom, despite the so-called lack of emotion for which Vulcans were noted, James Kirk knew the Ambassador loved very much. His close friend Spock had lost his mother. That fact in itself was enough for any man or being, but with Spock.... Kirk didn't know -- he honestly didn't know how Spock would feel. He did know how Spock felt about being part human ... at least, the way Spock professed to feel -- his human half was his weaker half. Spock claimed to be Vulcan above all. Did he resent his mother because she was -- had been -- human?
Kirk didn't know -- he only knew he himself had lost someone who meant much to him. There in the privacy of his quarters he wept for her.
In time he rose from his chair and prepared to tell Spock that his mother had died. He dressed carefully. It seemed very important that he have a fresh uniform, a close shave, that every hair be in place. Then he realized he was stalling and finished dressing quickly. He considered telling McCoy but realized he was looking for help -- for someone to comfort him. No, he couldn't delay any longer so he moved quickly to the intercom.
"Mr. Spock, this is the Captain. Will you report to my quarters --please?"
"Yes, sir. Spock out."
Kirk moved slowly around his quarters awaiting Spock's arrival, found himself straightening chairs, moving things around on his desk.... Busy work, keeping his mind off what lay ahead of him. The buzzer at the door, even though expected, made him start.
Kirk fought his facial muscles, which turned his attempted smile into a grimace as the tall figure of the Vulcan appeared in the opening doorway. Turning quickly, Kirk moved to his desk.
"You wanted to see me, sir?"
For a moment James Kirk thought he couldn't answer -- then, drawing a deep breath, he turned to look at his friend.
"Is something wrong, sir?" Spock, always quick to read his Captain's moods, moved closer to the desk.
"Yes... there is, Spock.... Something is -- very wrong. There's a message -- I've been asked to give you.... It's about your mother. Amanda...." Kirk's voice broke and he stopped -- whirled and moved away from Spock. He couldn't say it flat out while looking into his friend's eyes.
"My mother is dead." The flat, calm statement reached Kirk through his grief. He turned. Spock was standing quietly where he had left him, his hands clasped behind him, his usual calm expression concealing anything he might be feeling.
"How did you know?"
"Logic, Captain. Nothing else would cause you such pain to tell me. The grief you are experiencing proves that what I have said is true."
"And you, Spock? What do you feel?" Kirk felt anger and disbelief start to build within him and he fought both feelings, even as he searched Spock's face for -- what? Something, anything. Some sign of grief? Compassion? Sadness? Some feeling!
"What do you want me to say, Captain?" Spock said simply. "Do you want me to cry out -- to rail against whatever has taken my mother's life?"
"Spock. I'm sorry -- I don't want anything. It's just...." He stopped in confusion. Was he waiting to see if the news of his mother's death would finally break Spock's iron control?
God -- NO. What kind of a monster would wish that? He cleared his throat noisily and, indicating the viewer on his desk, said hoarsely, "There is a message from your father there, Mr. Spock. I'll leave so you can...."
"Will you remain, please -- Jim?"
The request was as unexpected as Spock's earlier statements, and Kirk could only nod in response. He stood quietly while Spock activated the viewer and the message from Sarek began. He found it too painful to watch Spock's face, knew he'd be looking for signs of emotion, so he turned away. He thought of Amanda, of her gentleness, her humanness -- her soft beauty. He thought of her compassion for him when he had been injured. Worried as she had been about her husband and her son, she still had taken time to sit with him and talk of home while he recuperated. They had become good friends -- at least in Kirk's mind -- and he was quite sure she felt it, too. He thought of their parting -- of how, in front of her husband and her son, she had stood on tiptoe and had kissed him lightly on the cheek, then she had whispered: "Take care of my son for me, James Kirk." Now, that lovely woman was dead.
He realized with a start that the viewer was dark, the message had ended. Spock was standing rigidly in place, staring at the darkened screen as Kirk himself had done earlier, his face set in its usual lines of non-emotion. But James Kirk knew this man. He could now sense the battle for control that was going on within him.
"Take care of my son, James Kirk."
Yes, I will, he thought and moved to Spock's side.
"I'm sorry, Spock," he said quietly. "Your mother was a fine woman. Everyone who knew her will grieve with you."
Spock turned to face him. For an instant the sharp lines of his face softened, a mist filmed his eyes -- a blink, and it was gone.
"Yes," he said. "I know...."
Kirk didn't say any more, he just stood beside his friend -- not touching him. With a fellow human he might have put his hand or arm on a shoulder, but not with Spock. He only stood there, knowing somehow now that Spock was, in his own way, grieving for his mother. At last Kirk spoke:
"You will want to go home.... I'll arrange it."
"There is no need, Jim. If my mother were still alive I would wish to go, but now, there is no reason to leave." Spock's voice was as even as ever.
"But -- your father, Spock. Don't you want to be with him? To try to --to...." Kirk paused -- what could Spock do for Sarek? Comfort him? Even his limited knowledge of Vulcan customs told him that that 'wasn't done'. "Well, I just thought...," he finished lamely.
"No, Jim, my father does not need me now. He will go into a period of seclusion and meditation. That is the Vulcan way. In time he will send for me and together we will observe the traditional Vulcan farewell to a member of the family -- a time of ritual and of rededication. But for now -- request permission to return to my duties, sir."
"Yes -- of course, I understand, Spock," Kirk said hurriedly. "But remember, if you want...if there's anything I can do...."
"I know, you will be here. I shall remember." And Spock was gone.
James Kirk stood looking after him. Again he heard that gentle voice:
"Take care of my son."
"I will, Amanda, I will," he whispered, "for both of us."
...So Captain Kirk continued to mourn for Amanda and to "take care" of her son -- both as unnoticeably as possible.
Eventually, although he was unable to obtain solace in seclusion and in meditation as had Ambassador Sarek, Jim Kirk's sorrow was eased by the passage of time and by the demands of his Captaincy.
After a time, the Enterprise assumed standard orbit over Vulcan. She was to pick up a consignment of scientific records which she was to add to the other data that she was transporting to Memory Alpha.
During that layover, Mr. Spock requested -- and immediately received --permission to beam down to visit his father. When the First Officer returned, he was more aloof than usual for a short while.
More time passed, then Star Fleet Command transmitted special orders to Captain Kirk:
He was to choose two members of the crew, then the three of them were to go through the "Guardian of Forever" to the Earth of 1969, where they would conduct a vital mission.
There was no way that the Captain could have foreseen the difficulties that would materialize when he completed that mission....
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