Kirk stirred on the bed and opened his eyes, the room was dimly lit but he could see T’Kar lying asleep on the other bed. Sighing in relief he closed his eyes. He had scattered memories of the last treatment session and something about another mind-meld, except that he was sure that Spock had been there this time. T’Kar shifted in her sleep and he stiffened, not wanting to wake her. She settled almost immediately and he lay back down on the bed. The door opened and a shaft of light entered the room followed by the figure of Dr. McCoy.
“Bones!” Kirk whispered, trying to sit up.
McCoy was across the room and gently pushing him down onto the bed, “Lie down, you need to rest.”
“Is she all right?” Kirk whispered, gesturing across to the woman asleep on the other bed.
“When she’s had a good night’s sleep,” McCoy replied, “I’m surprised that you ask about her – we’ve been rather worried about you.”
Kirk managed a wan smile, “Why? What happened?”
“We almost lost you this time, Jim,” McCoy sat down on the bed, “you had a bad reaction to the feromazone.”
“I don’t remember much,” Kirk replied, “she was in my mind again – she and Spock. Some other memories too – you injecting yourself with cordrazine and jumping through that Time Gate – Guardian of Forever wasn’t it?”
“Should have taken more care with the cordrazine,” McCoy admitted, “I don’t remember jumping through the Guardian of Forever – sorry Jim.”
“We got you back,” Kirk replied, his hand resting on McCoy’s arm, “Safe and well. There was no real harm done.”
“Try to get some more rest,” McCoy replied changing the subject.
“Good idea,” Jim smiled at his friend and closed his eyes. McCoy watched until he was sure his friend was asleep and then checking to see that their conversation hadn’t disturbed T’Kar quietly slipped from the room.
He remembered what he’d said about retiring to his room with a bottle of Romulan Ale and attempting to get drunk but decided that he wanted to feel human in the morning. For the first time he wished that he hadn’t persuaded T’Kar to get some sleep, he needed someone to talk to. An idea crept into his mind and getting up he turned the light off in his office and quietly left the room.
T’kuht was still a bright, shining balloon above them when he left the hospital. Running a hand through his dark hair he began to walk towards Sarek and Amanda’s house. To his surprise Amanda opened the door to him before he had a chance to knock.
“I wondered when you’d come,” she said quietly at his perturbed look, “would you like a coffee?”
Struck dumb, McCoy nodded and then sank gratefully into a chair. Amanda returned ten minutes later carrying two mugs. She handed one to Dr. McCoy and sat down herself, “How did you know I’d come here?” he asked.
“T’Kar,” Amanda said quietly, “she said that she thought you needed someone to talk to about what happened on your last mission.”
“Smart lady,” McCoy dredged a smile from somewhere, “It was all my fault what happened. A defective hypospray went off in my hand, gave me an overdose of cordrazine. I don’t remember much about what happened next – apparently I beamed down to the planet’s surface and jumped through a time portal called The Guardian of Forever. Managed to change history in one fell swoop.”
“Was that such a bad thing?” Amanda asked gently.
“I saved a young woman’s life –” McCoy said brokenly, “and because I saved her life the Captain had to come through to the same time period and let this woman die to restore the timeline. He fell in love with her. He had to let her die –” McCoy broke off and realised that tears were sliding down his cheeks. Finally taking a sip of the coffee and gathering his thoughts, he continued, “And then the Captain was injured.” He blinked back tears and looked up to see Amanda holding a tissue out to him.
“And you feel that the whole episode was your fault?”
McCoy looked up at her and nodded, “If I had checked that hypospray then the whole incident would never have happened.” He took a mouthful of the coffee, “It’s my fault that Jim almost died – twice!”
Amanda laid a cool hand on his arm, “I don’t think everything was your fault, Doctor, in fact I don’t even think that the defective hypospray can be levelled at your door.”
“It doesn’t really help the guilt,” McCoy replied sadly.
“I know,” Amanda smiled, “whatever happened out there James Kirk will not blame you for it.”
“How do I stop blaming myself?” McCoy asked, “because that’s all I can think of at the moment. And Jim has remembered Edith and the fact that he had to perform a terrible act. Sooner or later he will remember her surname and what he had to do to preserve the universe as it is.”
“And he will remember what you did.” Amanda’s voice was cool and soft.
“Yes,” McCoy swallowed the remainder of his coffee, “and I do not know if I can live with that.”
“Is my son experiencing this?” Amanda asked quickly.
“He knows that choice that Jim had to make and regrets it as much, although-” McCoy managed a half-hearted smile, “he would probably say that regret is a human emotion.”
“My son, who has to be the consummate Vulcan.” Amanda replied, she shook her head. “Do you feel better?”
“How did T’Kar know that I’d come to see you?” McCoy asked.
“My daughter has a sixth sense for such things,” Amanda replied, “she knew how you were feeling and must have sensed some of it within the pon farr. She must have suggested that you talk to someone about your feelings.”
“She did,” McCoy agreed, “I just wasn’t sure who to go to-” he paused and then swallowed, “I’m sorry to dump all this on you, Amanda.”
“That’s all right,” Amanda smiled, “it gives me an insight as to why three of the bravest men I’ve met turn up on my doorstep looking like death warmed up. Did it help you to talk to me?”
McCoy nodded, “A bit. I still don’t know what I’m going to say to Jim though.”
“It’ll come,” Amanda said compassionately, “and you’ll find the words to say.”
McCoy nodded and as they stood up and although it wasn’t the Vulcan way he grasped Amanda’s hands, “Thank you for listening.”
“Anytime, Doctor,” Amanda replied, “think you’ll be able to sleep now?”
“Yes, I think so,” McCoy managed a half-smile. Wandering back to the hospital he found his thoughts seemed to be a little calmer. He was still thinking when he wandered into the hospital and nearly bumped into Dr. M’Benga.
“Leonard!” M’Benga said in surprise, “where have you been, I was becoming concerned.”
“Sorry, Jabilo,” McCoy gave him a rueful smile, “I went to speak with a friend. I should have left word with Reception.”
Jabilo sighed and then said, “All right. I would like to speak with you about T’Kar though. She saved our bacon today – I’ve never seen anything like that technique that she and Spock used-”
“Me neither,” McCoy replied, “Come through to my office, Jabilo, we can at least share a glass of Romulan Ale.”
Jabilo turned the glass of blue liquor in his hand for a few moments and then he looked up at McCoy, “She’s a Shatry’a?”
“She calls herself Shatry’u,” Bones qualified, “says that she hasn’t ascended yet whatever that means. Even so she’s performed some astonishing feats.”
“It was she who brought Captain Kirk back the first time, wasn’t it?” M’Benga said suddenly.
“Yes,” McCoy said embarrassed and then at M’Benga’s reproachful look he shook his head, “I didn’t know what had happened the first time either. I thought it was a miracle-”
“It was in a sense,” M’Benga replied, “you have to admit that none of our techniques would have saved him. Yesterday I don’t know that we could have done anything if she and Spock had not stepped in.”
“Are there many like her?” Jabilo asked curiously, taking a sip of the blue liquour.
“One every ten thousand years according to Spock,” McCoy replied.
“So if none of us knew what had happened the night that Captain Kirk was healed the first time, how did you discover her identity?”
“I got a bit annoyed,” McCoy admitted, “We were having supper at Sarek and Amanda’s and they were talking about some sort of ceremony that T’Kar would have to undergo with the family lawyer when she reached the age of twenty-one. Sarek admonished her for showing too much emotion at the supper table and she excused herself. Sometimes the Vulcans emotionless attitude gets on my nerves so I went out for a walk – got myself lost in the deep desert. T’Kar found me. That’s when I realised that she wasn’t just a simple nurse.”
“That’s an understatement,” Jabilo replied, “but what do we do with her?”
“Do we need to do anything with her?” McCoy asked, “can’t we wait and see what happens?”
Jabilo nodded, “Just a bit of a surprise that’s all. Still it would explain the odd things that have happened when she’s been around.” He smiled at McCoy, “oh nothing as spectacular as this – but things seem to run more smoothly. People were less prone to panic when she was there, funny I never thought it was because of what she was.”
“Perhaps it wasn’t,” McCoy replied thoughtfully, “after all it’s never been explicitly stated that she would become the next Shatry’a.”
“I think with everything that’s happened that’s probably inevitable now,” M’Benga said, he took a sip of the drink and then sighed.
“I don’t know,” McCoy replied, “I would like to reserve judgement.”
M’Benga smiled and drained his glass, “I’ll see you tomorrow, Leonard. Things may be clearer then.”
McCoy raised his glass to his colleague and took a sip of his drink, Perhaps he thought, Perhaps.
T’Kar woke slowly and blinked up at the ceiling for a few moments. Then she remembered she was in the hospital and sat up slowly. It was still night and she wondered for a couple of minutes what the time was and then her stomach rumbled. Sighing she swung her legs over the side of the bed. She looked across at the other bed and a half-smile touched her lips, Was that your last mission, is that what’s caused all these problems? You had to let my ancestor die, She thought. Did you love her – she loved you – or at least she had feelings for you. Shaking her head she stood upand walked across to the food replicator on the wall. She ordered a bowl of porridge and a soft voice said, “Coffee would be nice.”
She jumped and then turned to see Kirk sitting up and smiling at her.
“Don’t do that!” she hissed. “Scared me half to death!”
He looked marginally sheepish and murmured, “Sorry.”
T’Kar turned away and then she was carrying her bowl and the mug across to his bed. She placed them on the table and he said, “Sit with me?”
Easing herself down onto the bed she managed a wan smile, “How are you feeling?”
“Washed out,” he said, “did the procedure work?”
T’Kar eyed him thoughtfully, “I’m not sure. We nearly lost you a second time. If I didn’t know better I’d say that these memories don’t want to be unearthed.”
“And if I can’t face them-” he sighed and took a mouthful of his coffee, “then I’m back to where I started.”
“It’s only been four days,” T’Kar said slowly, “I think you have a little time.”
“I know enough about time,” he scowled, “and I don’t think I have as much of it as you might think. All I can remember is that her name was Edith and that something terrible happened to her.” He sighed again, “I wish I could feel happier about the whole situation – I mean maybe if I knew what had happened I could face it.”
Privately T’Kar thought that it was more serious than that but she didn’t want to tell him so. All she said was, “Drink your coffee.”
“That bad, huh?” Kirk smiled and for a moment looked like his old boyish self.
“Does it show?” T’Kar raised an eyebrow and Kirk laughed, “you have the same look that Spock does when he’s concerned about me.”
“Well technically we are second cousins,” T’Kar smiled, “although I would hardly expect you to know that.”
Kirk laughed, “Did you say that you and Spock were going to be joined at one point?”
T’Kar nodded, “Our Fathers felt that it would be a good match.”
“But you didn’t agree,” Kirk replied.
“Actually both of us came to that conclusion,” T’Kar said slowly, her dark eyes thoughtful, “I wanted more than a husband who served in Starfleet – I wanted to serve in Starfleet myself and I couldn’t do that if I was to marry Spock – so we met and decided that it would not suffice.”
“Sounds an awfully clinical way of doing it,” Kirk muttered.
“I know that we seem that way to you,” T’Kar finished her porridge and set the bowl and spoon on the table, “but it is the Vulcan way. I have seen how Terrans finish relationships and marriages. I’d rather not scream insults at someone because a relationship did not work out or was not quite right. The Vulcan way is better.”
Suddenly Jim found himself yawning and to his surprise the corners of T’Kar’s mouth curved upwards in a slight smile, “Go back to sleep,” she said, “you need the rest. We’ll talk later.”
Kirk nodded drowsily and then he said, “Are you going to stay?”
T’Kar looked down at the pyjamas she was wearing and caught his eyes, “It is unlikely that I could get out of the hospital dressed as I am.” She said slowly.
“Is that an attempt at Vulcan humour?” Kirk yawned again.
“Statement of fact, Jim,” T’Kar replied. “Get some sleep, all right? Things will look different in daylight.”
He nodded and closed his eyes. When she was sure he was fast asleep again she took the mug and bowl and placed them back in the food replicator. Then washing her hands at the basin she slipped back to bed. Sleep came easier the second time she vaguely remembered turning over and snuggling under the sheet before sleep closed over her like a cloud.
She woke slowly and noticed that it was broad daylight outside. Looking around she noticed that the Captain’s bed was empty, just as the door opened and Dr. McCoy entered the room.
“You look better,” McCoy said gently, sitting on the chair beside the bed.
T’Kar nodded, “What time is it?”
“Mid-afternoon,” he replied.
“I slept that long,” she bit her lip, “I must have been tired.”
“I’m not surprised,” McCoy replied, “I suspect you’ve been subsisting on what I’ve been pumping into you and adrenalin.”
“Don’t forget the one or two hours of sleep I’ve been managing per night,” T’Kar replied. “That won’t have helped matters.”
McCoy nodded, “Come and have some lunch, Jim’s been asking about you. He was concerned.”
T’Kar nodded and then said, “Would you mind leaving the room so I can get dressed? I don’t think that I can go to lunch in pyjamas.”
McCoy smiled and then she was alone. Her uniform was lying draped over a chair and they were the only clothes of hers in the room. Dressing quickly she found a brush in the bathroom and pulled it through her dark hair, wincing as she pulled out the knots. Eventually she looked at herself in the mirror and despite not being happy with her appearance decided it was the best she could do.
Both men were waiting for her when she stepped outside into the hot Vulcan day. “T’Kar!” Jim’s voice was sharp and she found herself regarding him quickly, he seemed stretched, taut like a bowstring and she wondered if he was as stable as he was pretending to be.
“Jim,” she said softly.
“Come and sit down,” he said gently, “I’ll treat you to a Vulcan Coffee.”
“I think I’d prefer the equivalent of tea,” T’Kar replied.
They sat at one of the small cafe tables and she sat quietly while Bones ordered the drinks, while they were waiting she turned to Kirk and said, “Are you feeling any better?”
“As I said earlier this morning, just washed out.” He managed a wry smile and she thought Charmer and another thought poked its way into her head and she wondered if this is what her ancestor had seen when she looked at him.
“You ought to rest,” T’Kar said, biting her lip, “in fact I’m not even sure you should be outside.”
“I couldn’t stay in the hospital – I was beginning to go stir crazy.”
“After one day?” She raised an eyebrow and McCoy had to suppress a laugh, “I don’t think it’s a prison, Jim.”
“I just wanted to get out and feel the air, do something that was more enjoyable than having drugs pumped into me-”
“And as we know,” McCoy interjected, “what James Kirk wants-”
“James Kirk gets!” T’Kar completed the sentence.
McCoy rolled his eyes, “I think you know him too well.”
“I’ve touched his mind twice,” T’Kar replied, “and that definitely gives one special knowledge.”
Their drinks arrived and T’Kar picked up her teaspoon, stirring the dark liquid. “I have to go and speak with my lawyer and sort out the last of the paperwork to do with my mother’s estate and then – well who knows?”
“It still worries you doesn’t it,” McCoy said slowly and then held up his hands, “I know, I know, worry is a human emotion. Perhaps I should say that it preys upon your mind.”
“Perhaps,” T’Kar admitted, “but I do not know. It is just my mother’s actions which concern me. Perhaps I will find more answers in the remainder of the boxes – perhaps I will just find more questions.”
“We said that you could always come to us and tell us your fears,” Kirk said.
“You’ve already extracted one promise from me,” T’Kar replied, “I am not willing to give you two.”
“One promise?” Kirk frowned, “I don’t understand.”
“To me,” McCoy said, smiling at her, “I asked her not to go running off into the desert if she discovered something upsetting.”
“And have you?” Kirk asked, suddenly intrigued.
“I don’t know. I’ve discovered something mystifying, but that may not be the same thing.” T’Kar took a sip of her tea. “I have so much to think about and consider and sometimes I think my head might just explode.”
“I’d never let that happen,” McCoy replied extending his fingers out to her. Slowly, aware of Kirk’s eyes on her, she did the same to McCoy and their fingers touched. A soft blush crept up her cheeks and McCoy smiled devilishly.
For some reason Jim felt as though he was intruding on something very private and very personal and he looked away, suddenly uncomfortable. When he looked back they were no longer touching although he still had the same uncomfortable sense that he’d walked into a very private and personal moment.
T’Kar looked up and if possible her blush deepened, “I apologise, Captain, that was unforgivable.”
Kirk shook his head, “No, not unforgivable, unexpected.” He looked at Bones and smiled, “Good to see.”
T’Kar took another sip of her tea wondering what to say next, to her surprise it was Leonard who broke the silence, “What now, Jim? I believe that T’Kar told you that we can no longer use the feromazone treatment. Your reaction to it-”
“Almost killed me,” Jim finished, “but what other treatment is there, Bones? Remembering part of our last mission is no help when I should be able to remember all of it and be able to deal with it.”
“Jabilo and I need to discuss some other strategies,” McCoy explained, “I’d like you to stay in the hospital for the next couple of days so that the remainder of the feromazone can go through your system. If any more memories surface we’ll be on hand to talk you through them.”
“I’d better get going,” T’Kar said quickly, “if I’m to see S’Jenes.”
“I’m sure that whatever the problem is it can be worked out, T’Kar,” Jim said slowly, “and you do have friends.”
T’Kar nodded, “I know that, Captain, but I still need time to think about it.”
Kirk nodded, “All right, since you’ve promised McCoy you won’t run away I suppose it’s the least I can do. Just be careful – all right.”
T’Kar nodded and finished the last of her tea. She stood up and said, “I’d better get going – S’Jenes will be expecting me.”
She looked down into McCoy’s face, and for a moment something else seemed to pass between them, he looked up at her face, “I’ll see you at the hospital afterwards, all right?”
“Yes,” she replied and then she nodded quickly and was gone, slipping through the city and disappearing into the crowd until eventually she was lost among all the pedestrians.
“You’re worried about her aren’t you?” Kirk asked softly.
“A bit, yes,” McCoy replied, “I know she’s strong but there’s only so much pressure someone can take before they crack.”
“You think that she’s going to crack?”
“I think that too much pressure and she’ll break – I mean she’s only twenty-one for God’s sake and suddenly she’s faced with a situation that would break a human, let alone a Vulcan. Jim – I don’t know what her mother’s lawyer has told her but that’s affecting her too.”
“You can feel that?” Jim looked astonished.
McCoy frowned, “I can feel a few things from her. Concern mostly. But something’s troubling her, something that she doesn’t feel comfortable discussing.”
“She doesn’t really want to be here does she?” Jim replied thoughtfully.
“I don’t think that’s it. She’s not had the time to assimilate everything that’s happened to her. I think her plan would have been to heal you and then assume that you would just leave Vulcan, leaving her to get on with her life.”
“And that didn’t happen,” Jim sighed and ran a hand over his face, “she’s been plunged into something totally unexpected, all because of me.”
“I don’t think you’re the lynchpin,” McCoy shook his head, “I think that all this might have happened whether you were here or not. I think that it all revolves around the prospective Shatry’a’s and their becoming twenty-one.”
“Poor kid,” Jim said suddenly, “I think I’d be gibbering in a corner right about now.”
“Well you know Vulcans,” McCoy said, “their whole lives are bound up tight in this ritual of non-emotion.”
“No I don’t believe it’s that,” Kirk replied, thinking back to the conversation he’d had with T’Kar when they’d had breakfast in her apartment, “there’s more to it.”
McCoy smiled and took his friend’s arm, “Come on, Jim, let’s get you back to your room.”
S’Jenes stood up as she entered his office, “T’Kar! Good to see you. I assume that you’ve had a look through the first chest?”
“Yes, S’Jenes,” T’Kar cleared her throat, “It seems to have raised more questions than answers though.”
“Perhaps you will find more answers when I play the rest of the hologram.” S’Jenes replied, “there are at least another 3 boxes of journals that you may wish to see later. But I will set up the next part of your mother’s last Will and Testament and then leave you in peace. I’ll also leave the control with you this time so that you can ‘pause’ and ‘play’ when you wish.”
T’Kar nodded, swallowing suddenly and realising that she was suddenly more nervous than she was willing to admit. “Why don’t you sit down,” S’Jenes suggested.
T’Kar nodded and then S’Jenes had activated the device and she was sitting down behind his desk.
There was a crackle and then the figure of her mother appeared, she still appeared to be holding the same journal.
“My darling,” the voice began, “I suppose that having read the very first journal you are even more confused than you were. You probably want to know why we never told him of our history – the simple truth is that we did not know when and how this encounter took place in our time. Edith Keeler’s family looked for a Captain Kirk but with no success – but you probably know that. It is only in the last twenty years that we have discovered who he is. If you’ve followed any Starfleet news reports you will know that he commands the best starship in the fleet, the USS Enterprise. I have considered many times sending a message through Starfleet to ask him for a meeting, but one thing has always stopped me – what if we were never meant to be? What if Edith Keeler was never meant to meet Captain James Kirk and we weren’t meant to exist?
If we stood up and declared ourselves then someone might return to the Guardian of Forever and change the timeline back. I decided that keeping us secret was the best way of keeping us safe. Perhaps it is the wrong way, I do not know. No doubt you will have your own thoughts, if there is someone you can talk to about this, I urge you to do so. I could not and therefore found myself very lonely. Goodbye, my darling.”
The image winked and fizzled out, T’Kar sat watching it for a while and then wondered Now what the hell do I do? She pressed a buzzer on the desk and S’Jenes openedthe door and entered the room.
“Have you found out what you need to?” he asked.
“In a way.” T’Kar replied, standing up, “How many more boxes are there?”
“About ten,” S’Jenes nodded at her stunned look, “Three in my office, and the other seven in storage, your family have been most prolific in their writing.”
“Then I guess if you can help me with the first box, I can start with that tonight.” T’Kar replied.
S’Jenes nodded, “Very well. You must not push yourself too much though; the journals as I understand them are not a historic record. They are merely journals.”
“I know, but it should be interesting to read them.” T’Kar replied, “perhaps I may find that my human ancestors and I felt much the same way.”
“It may be so,” S’Jenes replied, “but I leave that to your judgement.”
T’Kar nodded slowly. She looked up at S’Jenes, “Did my mother say anything of the contents of these journals?”
“I am afraid not,” he replied, “she was most insistent that the boxes remain sealed and that the holographic recording be not touched until you came to see me. But if you do wish to talk I am quite prepared to extend the privilege of lawyer’s confidence to you also.”
T’Kar raised her eyes to meet his and thanked him. “You will see that the chest is delivered to my apartment?”
S’Jenes nodded, “I will. Where do you go now?”
“Back to the hospital for the nonce,” T’Kar replied, “and I will see if Dr. M’Benga needs me for anything else.”
S’Jenes nodded again and opened the door as T’Kar stepped out into the city. She was deep in thought as she wandered back to the hospital, Now what the hell did she do? Certainly there was now no chance of being able toshare the contents of the journal with anyone she knew. For one fleeting instant she was filled with the desire to leave the city’s environs, to run into the deep desert, seek out the Shatry’a and take up the mantle of her Destiny.
Except....except that you gave your word to Leonard that you would not do so. And..and I don’t think that you can take up such a Destiny if you’re running away from something else. She ran a hand through her dark hair.
“Are you all right, T’Kar?” she looked up into the face of Deborah, the ward receptionist.
“I am fine,” T’Kar replied, “I was just wondering if either Dr. M’Benga or Dr. McCoy needed me for anything?”
Deborah frowned and shook her head, “No, I don’t think so. Hang on-” She looked up at T’Kar and then smiled, “No, sorry. Want to know when you’re back on duty?”
“That’d be great,” T’Kar forced down her disappointment.
Deborah turned back to her screen and tapped on her keys for a few moments, then she smiled, “Tomorrow morning. Operating Room duty.”
“Fine,” T’Kar nodded and then she had turned away and was walking out of the hospital. Her car was waiting in the parking lot and sighing she threw her purse onto the passenger seat and climbed in. She set the controls to take her home, her mind was in turmoil.