The Most Difficult Task

Title: The Most Difficult Task
Author: Tempest
Pairing: S/Mc, character death
Series: TOS
Rating: PG-16 for certain descriptive scenes pertaining to memory
Summary: Rura Penthe caused more problems than anybody had previously thought, and it cost McCoy his life. Now in the aftermath, Spock must struggle with his memories and the greatest obstacle he has ever faced: McCoy's eulogy.
I don't own the characters; Paramount does. I own this story; there is a difference. Any very young children please stay away. The same goes for anybody offended by the idea that two men could deeply and completely love each other. Please ask author's permission archiving or linking anywhere. Flames and feedback welcomed.
Author's Note: This is a long overdue tribute to DeForest Kelley. The idea has been in my head for as long as I have been a coyote. This is also an a/u, as I am aware that McCoy not only lived to be at least 137, but also probably outlived every character in the Star Trek canon universe.
The Most Difficult Task
By Tempest
December 2, 2003

A cool autumn day in San Francisco, clear skies. The city was as busy as ever, crowded. But there was one place that in the city where it might as well have been pouring. And this was the Starfleet Medical Center. 

For inside the hospital could be found Leonard McCoy, respected doctor, honored officer, and beloved friend. Sick, tired, and on the verge of death, he lay in his room. He had developed an infection from the Klingon prison camp that had gotten out of hand. And this was the result.

 In and out came friends, colleagues, and admirers, all trying to make sure his last days alive were comfortable. Oddly enough, he was the only one who was completely rational and accepting of the fact he was dying. 

A knock on the door awakened him from his nap. He opened weary eyes to see Captain Kirk standing over him. He smiled weakly up at him. "Hi, Jim," he said, "It's great to see you."

Kirk moved a chair to the edge of the bed, sitting down and lifting McCoy's hand, squeezing it gently. "Bones," he smiled back, "I'm glad you're having visitors. How're you feeling?" 

McCoy tried to rise up to meet his eyes, but couldn't, and fell back to the bed, "Not too bad, considering that I'm dying."

Kirk shook his head. "Don't say that, Bones. You don't know that." 

McCoy nodded, "I do, Jim. I can tell. But I don't want to talk about that. I have something for you."

Kirk looked mildly confused, "What?" 

McCoy nodded to a set of drawers next to his bed, "In the top one, I have something for you. Take a look."

Kirk let go of McCoy's hand for a moment; so he could open the drawers, inside were a box, and a vid-tape.  

"The tape's yours, Jim. The box is for Spock, but I want you to hold on to it for me."

Kirk took the disk, held it in his hands for a moment, and then put it in his pocket. He picked up the package and put it in his lap, then moved back to McCoy's side. "Do you want me to give it to him for you?" 

McCoy nodded, "After I'm gone, Jim. He won't be able to accept it from me, knowing him, and when the time comes for me to go, he'll have other things on his mind."

Kirk sighed softly, "Please, Bones, don't talk like that." 

 McCoy reached out a hand, and Kirk took it, twining his fingers with the thin, cool ones. "Please, just take care of yourself, and take care of him, too." He yawned, weariness taking over. His eyes closed.

      Kirk smiled down at him, "I will, and you take care of yourself, Doctor, that's an order." But McCoy had already fallen asleep. With one last look at the bed, Kirk rose, taking the package with him, and leaving the room.


It was a few days later; the sky was raging with storm, and inside the Starfleet Medical Center it was no better.

Spock walked with stride, intent on getting to the room on time. The bond was weakening by the minute, he could feel it, and he needed to be with him. 

The Vulcan entered the hospital room, walking straight ahead to the bed and sitting in the chair at his side. Without hesitation, he picked up the human's hand and grasped it firmly. "Leonard," he said softly, "I am here.

The human opened his eyes, clouded with sleep and the beginnings of death, and a small spark entered them, seeing the Vulcan, feeling him, there with him. "Spock," his voice was barely a whisper, had Spock not been a Vulcan, he could not have heard him. "It's so damn good to see you. I was afraid-" 

Spock interrupted him by reaching out, laying a finger on his lips. "Always, Leonard, would I be here for you, with you." The Vulcan's fingers on McCoy, he could feel the life pulses, so slow, so few and far-between. He knew it would be soon.

McCoy smiled, a small smile, one that barely lifted the corners of his mouth. He tried to push himself into more of a sitting position, so he could see Spock more easily, but he did not have the strength. Weak and shamed, he fell back to the bed.  

The Vulcan reached out for him, took him in his arms, and held him steady, maneuvering the human, for he could not do it on his own. He held him tightly, something Vulcans did not do. He kissed the top of the human's head, and ran a hand through the hair, tangled and longer than he had ever kept it, from being in the hospital so long. "I have you, my Leonard," he told McCoy.

The human's eyes wet, grateful for the contact. He knew it was coming. He closed his eyes and leaned against the Vulcan. His spoke, his voice scratchy and low, "Spock, I'm so sorry to do this," 

Spock shook his head, putting a hand on McCoy's shoulder. "You have done nothing, Leonard. This..." The Vulcan stopped for a moment, collecting his own bearings, "This could not be helped." He could feel the strand of their bond, growing weaker by the second.

"Spock, there's so much I want to say, now. There's never enough time, no matter how much you have, there's never enough. I've taken so much for granted," McCoy's words were coming out more quickly than they should have, and he began to cough. 

Spock's hand went to the back of his head, holding him steady as the coughs wracked his body, thin from illness and the impending death. The Vulcan could feel the life that once sprung so true and strong in this man ebbing away, leaving behind weakness, and it hurt him to see it.

The coughs stopped after a few minutes and McCoy looked up into Spock's eyes, "You know I love you like no other, don't you, Spock?" Quiet desperation was in his voice.  

The Vulcan nodded, as he pulled McCoy even more tightly to him, an attempt to give the human some of his own, painfully healthy life force. "I know, Leonard, I know. And you know that the reverse has always been true."

McCoy closed his eyes, fighting back the waves of sadness that were threatening to break through. *Not now,* he thought, *I need to be strong for him.* 

Spock shook his head, knowing McCoy's thoughts for he was so open. "Leonard, now of all times, you have the right."

A shiver passed through McCoy's body, his temperature dropping as his life force ebbed. Spock felt it and eased McCoy back down onto the covers of the bed, tucking the coverings around him. The human looked up at him, his face revealing need. "Spock, please." 

The Vulcan then moved from his chair, standing quickly and laid himself out over the coverings, beside his bondmate. His arms once more circled around the human, and his hands brought the dark head to his chest. "Do not speak, Leonard, we need no words between us." Spock moved his fingers slowly over McCoy's cheek, in a long, knowing caress, before he moved them into configuration on the human's meld points. Without a further sound, he opened his mind to McCoy's, allowing them to spend one more time together in the union of their thoughts.

In their shared mind, McCoy was the same as he had always been, virile, impish, and so full of life. Between the two men, thoughts, emotions, and the overwhelming love they held for each other flowed freely and uninhibited.  

With their outward bodies, Spock held McCoy close, trying to shelter him from what was coming. The strong arms rubbed over the human's back. His mind whispering soothing things to McCoy's, showing him how much they had shared had meant to him.

Memories exchanged back and forth, the smiles Spock had never shown anybody, the trust McCoy had always put in him. They both fell forward into the mind touch, into the comfort they found there. And then everything went black.


      "Captain Spock," the soft voice insisted. Spock's eyes were closed, as he lay on the bed, beside his mate, curious as to why the formalities were being used. Without opening his eyes, he replied in a whisper, "Leonard, we are off duty."

      The voice insisted again, "Captain Spock, please, get up."  

      Spock willed his eyes open, as he reached to caress his mate's hair. The coldness of the body beside him caused awareness to set in quickly. Turning, he found himself face-to-face with a young woman, no more than 30, probably much less than that. Shrouded in the normal uniform of attending physicians, she watched him with concern. "Leonard," he whispered, as he turned quickly to look down at the human beside him.

      McCoy was still. His coloring was pale. But the look on his face was peaceful. Spock felt a swelling of terror within him as he stared at the human. 

      The woman reached out, laying a hand on his shoulder. "Captain, he's gone. Please, we have a counselor you can speak with if you'd like."

      The Vulcan shook his head. After another long moment, he pulled himself up and off the bed, rising to his feet. He steadied his control, forcing his face to remain impassive. His voice tight, he said, "That will not be necessary, Doctor." 

      The young woman stared at him, not familiar with Vulcans, although she could sense this was somewhat abnormal. "Do you have any requests, Captain Spock? I know this must be hard for you."

      Spock already was walking towards the exit of the room, not allowing himself to stare at the lifeless body of his bondmate. "His requests are on file, Doctor. Carry them out." With that, the Vulcan walked briskly from the room.  


      Captain Kirk sat at his desk at Starfleet Operations. With a glance at the chronometer, he decided that he would call it a day in about forty minutes, and then he could go over to the hospital and visit McCoy.

      His comm. unit chirped, and the voice of his secretary could be heard, "Captain Kirk, there's a call for you." 

      Somewhat surprised, he cleared away the little clutter on his desk. "Anya, send it through, please."

      On the comm. screen appeared the face of a young woman, trying to stay emotionally detached and not quite succeeding. "Captain Kirk, this is Doctor Haverford, from Starfleet Medical Center." 

      Panic gripped him, he sized her up, her expression and his voice shakier than he would have liked it to be, asked "Yes, Doctor?"

      "I regret to inform you that Doctor Leonard H. McCoy passed away today, about an hour ago." 

      Kirk steeled himself, closing his eyes as he attempted to get a grip on himself. One of the two best friends he had ever had in his entire life was dead. "Was he peaceful?"

      She nodded, "He went in his sleep." 

      Kirk kept his eyes closed, blinking back the tears that threatened to fall. He had always thought this would get easier the older he became, but that was obviously not true. "It was painless, then?"

      The doctor nodded again, trying not to notice that Captain Kirk, galactic hero, was on the verge of tears. "There was no pain, Captain, you can be glad of that." 

      Suddenly, Kirk remembered, Spock had a class an hour ago; he must have...Kirk's eyes flew open. "Have you informed Captain Spock?"

      Doctor Haverford's expression changed to one of more concern. "He was here when it happened, Captain." 

       *Dear God,* Kirk thought, not wanting to even think about what Spock must be going through. "He's there, then? Can I talk to him? If he's with the counselor, I can come down there and wait."

      Haverford gave a shake of her head. "He left, Captain. He didn't say where he was going and he refused to talk to the counselor." 

      Kirk sighed softly. He knew Spock better than...his eyes clamped shut at the revelation, any man alive. In an attempt to mimic the Vulcan way, Spock would no doubt spend the next several hours drawing himself within to his mind to cope with his loss.

      "Thank you for informing me, Doctor Haverford." 

      "Of course, Captain Kirk. And the counselor is here if you want to talk as well."

      "Thanks, but no thanks, Doctor." 

      "The offer stands." Then she cut the comm. unit, leaving Kirk alone with his grief.

      Now alone, Kirk need not put on appearances, and he folded his arms on his desk, lowering his head down onto them. And then, the legendary Captain Kirk of the Enterprise began to weep for the death of one of the two closest friends he had ever had. 


      Two days had gone by since McCoy's death and it was now Thursday; the funeral was scheduled for Sunday, as was the specific custom of McCoy's family. Nobody had seen Spock since he had stormed out of the hospital, and although a steady stream of messages had been sent to him, he had yet to respond to even one of them. Kirk's own attempts at leaving a heartfelt message with his friend had only proved frustrating. 

      Sitting in front of the fireplace in his apartment, he stared at the disk McCoy had given him. He still had not played it, and although it was tempting, could not bring himself to even try. The box for Spock sat atop the bureau in his room, untouched.

      The comm. unit beeped, startling him from his reverie, and with a sigh, he rose from this armchair, pulling his bathrobe closed. Sitting down at the desk, he turned on the visual. 

      The faces of Ambassador Sarek and Lady Amanda appeared on the screen. Amanda was visibly shaken, and although Sarek strove to remain impassive, concern was in his eyes. "Kirk," Sarek began, "have you spoken with Spock since Leonard's demise?"

      Kirk sighed again, shaking his head. "No, Ambassador. He hasn't been talking to anybody. Did you try calling him?" 

      "We did." Amanda cut in over her husband. "Jim, could you talk to him for us, please?"

      "There's not really anything I can do; he's been ignoring me, too. I'm sure if you mark your message as urgent, he'll get back to you. You're his parents." 

      "Jim, do it for Leonard, please."

      *Damn those words,* Kirk thought to himself. "I'll go talk to him, somehow." 

      Amanda smiled at him, and Sarek gave a slight nod of his head. "We will be there for the funeral." Then, the frequency was cut, and the screen went blank.

      "Great," Kirk said into the darkness. He rose and showered, then changed out of his robe and into his camping clothes. Grabbing his disk and Spock's box, he locked his apartment and started up his air car. 

      Kirk arrived at the house Spock and McCoy had shared since the end of the V'ger mission sometime in the late evening and knocked loudly on the door. He waited two minutes and there was no response whatsoever. He knocked again and waited. After another three minutes, Kirk reached into his pocket and removed the key card he had been given.

      Sliding it into the slot, he waited for the door to click and open, allowing him entrance. The entire house was shrouded in blackness, and not a sound could be heard. He checked through the rooms on the bottom floor, but could not find Spock anywhere. 

      Climbing up the stairs, Kirk called into the darkness. "Hello? Is there anybody in there?" There was no answer. Kirk walked through each room, stopping before the bedroom to knock. When there was no reply, he opened the door. Nobody was there.

      Kirk was beginning to get frustrated and started to jog back down the hallway and down the stairs. "Spock?" he called, "Spock, dammit, you have to be somewhere in here." Then Kirk stopped. How did that Vulcan legend go, about the Vulcan who willed himself to die after his bondmate had died... 

      *Oh, dear God!* Kirk started running through the house, checking the bottom floors again and finding nothing. Finally, he rushed out into the yard. There, in the middle of McCoy's flower garden, sat Spock in the loshiraq position. His eyes were closed, and he wore the white robe he had been given after the fal-tor-pan.

      Kirk breathed a sigh of relief. At least he was alive. Carefully, he walked over to him, not certain if the Vulcan was in meditation. He queried softly, "Spock?" 

      The Vulcan did not turn around, or even acknowledge his presence. Kirk crept closer and placed his hand on his shoulder, shaking lightly. "Spock, can you hear me?"

      Suddenly, a hand was on his arm, gripping it tightly. The sudden pain almost made him drop the box. "Spock!" he hissed, trying to make the Vulcan release him. 

      After a long moment, the hand on his arm eased its grip and fell slack. Spock's head turned to look at him, then he dropped his eyes. "How did you get back here?"

      "Bones gave me a key, remember?" As soon as the words left his lips, Kirk instantly regretted saying it. He watched as Spock's face, although there was no way to put his finger on how, took on an expression of pain. "And I was worried about you. You've been in hiding for two days. Have you been here the whole time?" 

      "No. I spend my nights here."

      That was not quite the answer Kirk had expected. He extended a hand to the Vulcan. "Come on, let's get you inside, I can make some tea and we can talk a little." 

      Spock rose to his feet, but he refused to take Kirk's hand, placing his own behind his back and following him silently back into the house. On the way inside, he had the house computer turn the lights on, and Kirk saw the clutter inside. The entirety of both the living and dining rooms were filled with flower bouquets, fruit baskets, and small Vulcan statues. Obviously, he had at least been opening the door.

      Kirk tried not to stare at the bounty and rushed himself into the kitchen. Spock had not followed. Sighing, he stuck his head out the door back into the living room, where Spock stood caressing one of the statues. "Come on, Spock." 

      The Vulcan took the statue with him and entered the kitchen, sitting down at the table and keeping his eyes down.

      The human placed the box down and then began to search through the cabinets for where the tea was kept. Finding it, he poured it into the tea maker, which would heat it and mix it with the water. Silence followed, until the beeping of the machine pierced it.  

      Pouring two cups, Kirk then walked over to the table and placed one down in front of Spock. Taking the chair across from him, he tried to strike up conversation. "How're you holding up?"

      "There is nothing to hold." The response spoke volumes.

      *Oh boy.* Kirk took a sip of his tea, noticing Spock had not let go of the statue. Kirk had yet to come to terms with his own grief, and knew he was not on top of his game with Spock. "Who's all of the stuff from?" 

      "Colleagues, friends, my parents and Leonard's family, the entire graduating class of Starfleet's medical branch."

      Kirk could not help himself; his interest was piqued. "Really?" 

      "Leonard was very popular among the young doctors..." Spock's voice trailed off and he began to caress the statue again.

      This was getting nowhere. Kirk pulled on a fake smile and looked at the Vulcan. "Take your tea inside. We can listen to that music tape of classical Vulcan operetta I got you for your birthday." 

      Spock was in no condition to argue, and he rose, leaving his tea on the table.

      Kirk left his, but remembered to grab the box, and walked with the Vulcan into the living room. He had the computer key up the music and the soft sounds of Vulcan voices filled the room. He sat beside Spock on the couch and waited for the Vulcan to say something.  

      After ten minutes of silence combined with the fact that Spock was broken by grief and entranced by a small doll and Kirk found himself stuck in the middle of grief for the loss of his friend, concern for Spock, and frustration with his behavior, Kirk could take it no longer. "Spock, take a look at this." He held up the box.

      The Vulcan looked at it for a moment, recognizing it as something McCoy had asked him to pack when he had brought his things down to the hospital. 

      Kirk pressed on. "Bones asked me to give this to you."

      Spock looked slightly surprised. "When?" 

      "Before he..." It was Kirk's turn to trail off.

      Spock looked down once more at the statue, then placed it at his side, reaching out for the box. "May I have it?" 

      Before handing it over, Kirk asked, "Spock, can I ask you a question? I mean, I know Bones wanted you to do his eulogy, and well, how's that coming?"

      Spock's determination on having the box did not falter at the question. "It is not. May I have it?" 

      Kirk handed it over, watching as Spock carefully removed the lid, placing it his lap, and then looking through the contents. He pulled out two disks and a book.

      The Vulcan stared at the contents. One disk was labeled "Watch this first." The second said simply, "For you." The book had the words "Ha'kiv Teretuhr," Vulcan for "life together," engraved in it. He ran his hand over the cover of the book; it was real leather. He cracked the book open to look at the first page, then shut it. He was surprised his bondmate had had the time to do what he had always promised. 

      Kirk cleared his throat, catching Spock's attention. "He gave me a tape, too. What's the book?"

      Spock, for a moment, did not want to show it. But then he reflected on what McCoy would have said. "Spock, life is for sharing." And is that not what the book was called? He took the book in his hands and gave it to Kirk. 

      The human took it in his hands, relishing for a moment the sensation of real leather, before opening it to the first page. His eyes widened and surprise was evident in his voice. "It's a photo album!"

      Just as McCoy had always said he would, the photo album sat in his friend's hands. The small negative from the holocamera was placed on the page, so when the album was opened, a projection would come up above it. The current projection was one of the crew, taken as a publicity shot after the V'ger mission. "I wonder why that's in there," Kirk mused. 

      "That was the mission where Leonard and I declared our devotion to each other." Spock's voice was off.

      "Oh." Kirk knew his friend had had a sentimental side, but this was beginning to get incredible. He turned the page. Another image popped up into the air. This one of Spock and McCoy in front of a sunrise, somewhere he could not identify, their hands clasped between them. He gave a look to Spock. "Where was this?" 

      "Leonard and I took shore leave to Beta Thamaru Six. He had...managed to disrupt our normal sleep patterns to the point we found ourselves on the boardwalk at Standard time 0539 hours, when the sun had begun to rise. Leonard grabbed a random passerby and thrust our holocamera in her hands. He then grabbed me and had me pose. It was one of his favorite trips." Spock was actively and intently staring at the photo album. He reached for it, and Kirk handed it over.

      Spock turned the next page. This was a single image of Spock leaning back in a chair. His hands on his legs and his eyes closed. He looked asleep. "Fell asleep on the job and Bones wanted to keep it for blackmail?"     

      "No, Leonard had convinced me to go to a show with him."

      "Boring much?" 

      "It was a traveling hypnotist."

      Kirk looked at him incredulously. "You went to a hypnosis show? I thought Vulcans didn't believe in that." 

      "We do not, and I did not when it happened. He had sat us at the front table and had been enjoying every minute of it. I had not wanted to explain that is was not much more than simple confusion, although I am certain that Leonard was aware."

      "So, how'd you get in the chair, then?" 

      Spock's voice became softer, fonder, as he found himself caught up in the memory. "He asked me. I initially refused, but in the end...I was never able to refuse him something like that."

      Kirk smiled a little, touched by this glimpse into his friend's too-often hidden emotions. "What happened?" 

      "I cooperated and found myself under the effects." Spock paused for a moment. "I did not recall doing what they said I had done, and I did not until after the fal-tor-pan, when Leonard's memories were integrated with mine. But he said I was 'quite the stud,' that night. The hypnotist spoke to Leonard on the side, and told him what to do at home. And he was not always above using it."

      That was enough for Kirk. He did not want to know further. "Turn the page." 

      Spock complied. The next picture was one that Kirk recognized. He, himself, had taken it. McCoy and Spock stood wearing identical suits with shirts with Vulcan symbols, in the middle of the red sand of Vulcan. Kirk remembered that day well. The day of Spock and McCoy's bonding ceremony. "I don't think I'd ever seen him happier." Kirk said.

      "I had." 

      The page was turned. A picture of McCoy lying in Spock's arms, his buried in the Vulcan's neck. They were in uniform. "When was this?"

      Spock's voice and featured hardened slightly. "After the encounter with Sybok. Leonard was in need of recovery and reassurance. Much pain had arisen. What had been done to him was inexcusable." 

      Kirk remembered that mission with just as much displeasure. Sybok and Spock may have had the same father, but they had been nothing alike. "I'm glad you were there for him."

      "How could I not have been?" There was no way to answer that. The page was once again turned. 

      Kirk, despite himself, began to smile. "Is that what I think it is?"

      Spock gave a slight nod of his head, enjoying the picture as well. "Indeed it is, Leonard after Mr. Scott's Scotchtober fest. He made a very good Highlander, if I recall Mr. Scott saying so." 

      "He looked so happy in that." Kirk said, surprising himself with how easily he referred to McCoy in the past tense.

      "It had been a night of celebration. And I could not resist taking a picture for posterity. The kilt so suited him." 

      Kirk continued to smile and nodded. "Turn it again."

      The next picture to appear was incredible. Kirk could not help but stare for a long moment, before averting his eyes. It was of Spock. He lay back on their large bed, satin sheets crumpled around his waist, leaving his chest exposed. His chest hair was mussed, his nipples hard, and a light sheen of sweat covered his body and neck. His head was back, his eyes closed, his mouth opened slightly and his lips wet. Contentment was plain in his features. The lines in his face were eased. His arms were behind his head, propping it up, his hair twined in his fingers and his ears exposed, his entire body tinted green.  

      Spock seemed completely unaware of his friend's discomfort with the situation. He ran his fingers over the book. "Leonard took this one night. When I realized, I attempted to take the negative away from him, which resulted in a chase from the bedroom to this very sofa. He hid it up his shirt and I was unable to recover it. I finally let him win and he more than 'made it up' to me." Spock paused, as he saw Kirk staring at him, rather than at the picture. And he began to feel somewhat embarrassed at this personal revelation. He quickly shut the book and placed it back in the box.

      Kirk could tell Spock was embarrassed, and truth be told, he was a little bit as well. But the Vulcan was getting things out that he needed to in order to cope with the loss, and Kirk was intent on helping him. He reached over to pat his friend on the shoulder. "He was a very special man." 

      Spock gave a nod. "I know."

      Kirk took a look at the chronometer. The Vulcan operetta had stopped and it was almost morning. He would take the day off tomorrow. "Spock, I'm going to go get back to my apartment now." 

      "You can stay. You know that, Jim."

      Kirk smiled gently at his friend. "I will then. The guest room still where it was last time?" 

      Spock nodded his head. He was staring at the small statue again.

      Kirk sighed softly. *It's going to take him a long time to recover from this.* "Goodnight, Spock." 

      "Goodnight." Spock stared down at the statue, not paying Kirk much more mind.

      Kirk climbed up the staircase and found his way into the guestroom. He sat down in front of the comm. unit and sent a message to Head Quarters that he would be taking a long weekend and would not be in. Then he patted his pocket, finding the disk that McCoy had given him. He looked at it; now would be as good a time as any to view it. And he needed to find some semblance of closure.  

      Sitting back in his chair, he placed the disk in the comm. unit. After a minute of whirring, the tape began to play.

      McCoy's face appeared, before he became ill, but still very much recently. The face was serious. "Jim, if you're playing this, it means that I'm dead, not that we didn't expect that to happen, and you've probably waited two or three days to even consider looking at this tape. After all this time, you still don't take to death well, at all. And that means I've failed in my mission to make you face reality. Maybe my death helped with that. I don't know. But, Jim, know you've been a good captain and a good friend. Hell, you even got us through Klingon Peace. How's that for amazing?" McCoy's features turned into a smile. "Don't bury yourself too deep in that command persona of yours. It won't do you any good at all. Remember, you're only human. And for God's sake, stop taking those risks. You should make every day count, but you really take it too far. And keep after the crew, all of them. They need you. Take care of yourself, Jim." McCoy gave a smile and a mock salute, and then the screen went blank.  

      Kirk sat for a long time in front of the screen. He felt a little more at peace. Even after death, McCoy could still play ship's psychiatrist. He was the captain, he had always known that, but he resolved to act just like a man, sometimes. He stretched and yawned. He had been up some twenty hours and just needed to sleep. He could make sure the eulogy got written in the morning. He collapsed on the bed of the guestroom and within minutes, was fast asleep.


      When the light of dawn began to shine through the windows of his house, Spock finally decided he should retire as well. He picked up the box he had been given and slowly ascended the stairs. Entering the room, he placed the box on his desk. He removed the two disks and looked at them. Setting up the large-screen comm. unit McCoy had insisted on installing in the bedroom, he slid the one marked "Watch this first" into the slot. He sat down on the edge of his side of the bed, and waited for it to begin. 

      After a few minutes, McCoy's face appeared. He was healthy, and looked as he had not too long before his illness. His features were affectionate, although they had their doctor look about them. "Spock," McCoy started, and then stopped, taking in a deep breath. "Spock, if I know you, and I'd like to think that, after 25 years of marriage, and another 5 of being around you every day, I do, you're not handling this well at all. We both knew I'd die first; we decided to ignore it. And I like to think we've had one hell of a life together. It's been better than I could have imagined, and I know you feel that way too. And it's not like we haven't dealt with death before. But I'm going to bet credits to navy beans I didn't leave you with a katra for company, and I'm sorry about that. If I could have, I would. But listen to me. You know, death isn't always a bad thing. It's simply an inevitability, and it's what you make of it. Isn't that what they teach you in basic training one of both Starfleet and Surakian philosophy?" McCoy paused on tape and Spock, despite himself, nodded in response.

      McCoy began again. "I'm not telling you not to mourn, or grieve, or miss me. I'm not telling you to rush out and start over like nothing's happened. I'm not asking you to forget, and I know you never will. If death couldn't make you forget, I know nothing will. But I know that right now, you're acting like this is the absolute end of the known universe, and that's not good for you." On tape, McCoy sighed softly; it was obvious he was actually becoming exasperated. "Have you even started working on my eulogy?" There was another pause. 

      Spock was somewhat surprised by the contents of this tape, and found himself responding with a "No, Leonard."

      The tape went on. "You're going to have to work on it sooner or later, Spock, and there's nothing to fear about writing it. Just think of all the good times we've had. Think of the love, but think of the sorrow too. That's what a life is all about." There was another pause, as McCoy's face stopped trying to be expressional. "Just in case, I have a copy of my preferred funeral arrangements on this tape, so if you need them, you can take a look at them." McCoy's hand moved into the familiar configuration. "Peace and long life, Spock." Then the information on McCoy's particular culture and dealing with death came on screen. Spock walked over to the comm. unit and ejected the tape. He looked at it for a long moment, before placing it back in the box. He picked up the second one labeled "For You" and placed it in the slot.  

      Sitting back on the bed, he watched as McCoy appeared. The human was years younger, the lines on his face were lessened, his smile was wide, but nervous. The gray in his hair had not even made itself apparent. This had obviously been recorded only a couple of years after their relationship started. He was wearing his leather jacket, a tee shirt and a pair of black slacks. On screen, McCoy chuckled nervously. "I can't believe I'm actually doing this."

      McCoy waved at the camera, giving Spock the sensation McCoy was waving at him. "Spock, if you're watching this, it means the worst has happened, and I've passed on without you. We both knew this would happen, but trust me, that doesn't make it any easier." McCoy leaned back in his chair, his smile widening somewhat. "That's why I decided to make this. Loneliness is an awful thing, and I don't want you to suffer in my absence. But knowing you, you're going to be stubborn and single. I just know. So, this is my last gift to you." 

      With that, McCoy, on screen, slowly removed his leather jacket, allowing it to fall from his shoulders and reveal his muscular arms, usually hidden by the unflattering medical uniforms. With another smile, he removed his tee shirt, revealing his chest, covered in its furry layer of hair and the dark nipples. McCoy deliberately began to stroke his chest, pinching one nipple as he continued to talk. "I love you, Spock, it was true when we first met, and it's true now. And it will always be true."

      Spock, surprised by the contents of the video, moved closer to the screen, watching intensely. 

      McCoy's eyes slipped closed as he moved his fingers to the other nipple, giving it a light tweak. His hands roved over his chest, playing with the hair. "Imagine that I'm right there with you, Spock. My hands are yours." The image of McCoy began to stroke over his belly and his sides, caressing gently and knowledgeably.

      Spock forced his eyes open as he continued to watch, trying not to allow the stirring of emotion to cause him to miss a second of the tape.

      McCoy's hand slipped to the clasp of his pants. He slid down in the chair to give a better view to the camera, and then he slowly unclasped them, sliding them down inch by inch. He wore no underwear. "Spock, I feel your hands on me." His hands moved lower, doing what Spock himself wished he could do at that very moment.  

      Spock could take it no longer, and slid his own hand under his robe, imitating on himself what he saw McCoy do on the video.

      The sounds McCoy made on screen were so much like what often took place in that very bedroom, his face melting into pure bliss. Spock responded in kind, resting his hand on his thighs. 

      After a few minutes, McCoy's breathing eased on the video and he cocked a grin at Spock, the affection plain in his features. "Whenever you get lonely, Spock, or miss me, remember, you can still share this with me."

      Spock found himself nodding. He could not express in words what this last gift meant to him. 

      McCoy brought his other hand to his lips, kissing his fingers and reaching out to touch the camera. "Ashaya nash-veh du, Spock." The sounds of the door opening in the back of the tape could be heard. The human grinned again. "There you are now." McCoy tapped his temple once, "I'm here with you," and then went about gathering his clothes, giving Spock a shot of his full form from behind. After another minute, the tape stopped.

      Spock suddenly felt drained. Seeing his bondmate so alive was an emotional experience the label of the tape had given him no reason to expect. He shrugged himself out of his robe and lay down on the bed. His mind was whirling with new thoughts and possibilities. Perhaps he would be able to cope. He closed his eyes and with thoughts on the photos from the album, eventually slipped into sleep. 


      When Spock awoke, it was evening on the next day. Spock was surprised; it had been a long time since he had had 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep. His dreams had been pleasant. Rather than the replay of the loss of his bondmate and his katra, he instead relived memories of their life together in sleep, inspired, no doubt, by the album McCoy had so thoughtfully made for him.

      Climbing out of bed, he went to his desk, running his hand over the leather of the album cover. He would find a way to cope with this event. He walked down the stairs and into the kitchen. A note was on the counter. "Spock, I'll see you at the funeral. Remember, eulogy. -Jim." 

      Spock put the note in the kitchen recylcler. He did not need a reminder to fulfill that particular duty. He knew that he would finally do justice to his bondmate's life. But first, he had another duty to perform.

      After preparing a cup of tea and making certain he was presentable, he went to the living room and activated the comm. unit. He entered the number and waited. Finally, the connection was made. "Mother? Father?" 


      Spock had a long discussion with his parents, which finished with a promise to see each other on Sunday, only two days away, now. When the conversation ended, Spock spent the rest of the evening and well into the night returning each and every message left in sympathy and support.

Once that rather lengthy task was finished, he began to arrange the tokens of mourning he had received, placing the flowers in vases to help them live and arranging the statues in accordance with Vulcan custom.

      The house in some better semblance of neatness, he filled McCoy's favorite watering can and went into the garden, watering the plants to help them thrive. This task, as he had done ever since McCoy had first entered the hospital, had taken on a new meaning. It had always felt as though he could strengthen McCoy's own life force by caring for his plants, but now it became more than that. McCoy's garden was a part of him left behind, and Spock swore to himself he would keep this part alive. 

      Placing the can beside the flowerbed, he knelt on the ground, pulling his robe around his form. As he had done every night since McCoy's death, he settled himself for meditation in the openness of the yard. He steadied his breathing, calming himself and focusing on the image he used in lieu of his firepot beast, McCoy's eyes.


      Spock slipped from his meditative state as the sun began to rise. He stretched himself to his full form and rose from the garden, taking with him the can and bringing it into the kitchen. He brewed another pot of tea, and knowing that, had McCoy been here, he would nag him about his failure to eat, he made a bowl of cereal to eat before his last remaining duty.

      The Vulcan sat down at the small table, at which he had spent countless mornings. It had never before felt as isolated and lonely as it did now. He attempted to not dwell on it, as he sipped his tea, but the thought that never again would he share a meal with McCoy began to nag at his thoughts.

      Finishing his breakfast, he pushed the thoughts away forcibly. But as he settled down in the living room to begin writing the eulogy, he found himself still unable to let the words flow out in the way he needed.  

      Giving into temptation, he took the padd with him upstairs and put in the second tape. In the aftermath, he lay down on the bed, purposefully on McCoy's side, trying to get some sense of the spirit of his lost bondmate.

      He closed his eyes, placing his head purposefully right under the pillow, the way McCoy used to sleep. was almost as though he felt something, intangible as it may be. 

      A gust of morning wind blew in from the window, knocking the photo album to the ground. The sound forced Spock to open his eyes. The album lay open on the very last page, the last picture coming into full view, projected above the bed. It was a moment Spock had never had the pleasure of seeing, or being present for. McCoy was in his early twenties, obviously, he had just graduated. Spock turned slightly to get a better view. McCoy was so young, but his eyes and smile were the same. The podium behind him indicated he had just graduated Starfleet medical and he wore a uniform jacket over his gown.

      The sheer pride and pleasure radiated from the projection of McCoy, and it was then that Spock found his inspiration. He picked up his padd and began to write furiously. 


      The next morning was the second hardest day of Spock's life, the day of McCoy's funeral. He awoke from McCoy's side of the bed, and stretched himself.

      Taking care of the necessary things, he dressed himself in the robe he wore the day of their bonding, as was the custom for a bondmate's funeral. He quickly put everything back where it belonged in their bedroom, and then he grabbed his padd, going hurriedly down the stairs.  

      Making a brief stop in the living room, he grabbed the statuette his mother and father had sent him, one that was different than the rest. It was in the shape of two bondmates, joined at the fingertips. It had been crafted to look like he and McCoy, and he placed this in the pocket of his robe before leaving the house.

      He climbed into the air car that he and McCoy had purchased only three years previously, after their retirement. It had a large backseat. He remembered the conversation he had had with McCoy where the necessity had been explained. Placing the pad on the seat beside him, he started up the car and took it from the garage, keying in the location of the cemetery and settled himself for what would be a long ride. 


      Spock turned the air car into the parking area behind the cemetery and parked, climbing out and grabbing the padd before leaving it for the front of the area.

      It had always amazed him that despite the advanced technological capabilities of their era, this cemetery had remained so old-fashioned. Although the gravestones were made of metal instead of stone, the grounds were still well kept grass-covered knolls, and the area lacked the mechanized feeling that San Francisco always had. 

      "Spock!" his named was called across the field.

      The Vulcan looked up, and met the eyes of Kirk, who was clad in his Starfleet dress uniform. The human was jogging over to him. "Spock, none of us were sure if you were going to get here on time, and your father was threatening to come to your house and bash the door in." 

      Spock stared at him blankly with no more recognition than a raised eyebrow.

      Kirk sighed and gave a slight smile. "Did you get the eulogy done?" 

      Spock gave a slight nod of his head, holding up the padd. "It is here."

      "Mind if I take a look?" 

      "You will hear it when it is time." The Vulcan's voice sounded slightly off.

      Kirk was taken aback. He had not expected Spock to be so defensive. "It's going to start in a few minutes. And the rest of the crew wants to say 'hi,' first." 

      Following behind Kirk, Spock made his way over to where many familiar faces waited around on a hilled plot. Scotty was there, wearing the kilt of his people, Uhura at his side, his arm around her in comfort. Sulu was there with Rand, and their daughter Demora, back from school. Chekov stood, his boyish features, which had never really grown, tinged with sorrow. Chapel and M'Benga stood near the back, beside a group of about a dozen medical students. Peter Kirk, a full-grown man now, stood off by himself, where, obviously, his uncle had been. The Surgeon General of Starfleet had come to officiate, and with a nod at Spock, left the area to ready the coffin to be lowered in. Sarek and Amanda stood off to the side, and as they saw Spock come over, went to him.

      Amanda spoke first, forgetting Vulcan custom; she reached out and clasped Spock to her in a fierce and protective hug. "I'm glad you got here in one piece." 

      Since McCoy's death, Spock had found himself not quite up to the task of pretending to be so Vulcan that he did not understand human phrases, so no "how many pieces did you expect me to be in?" followed her statement. He simply nodded his head and whispered, "It is good to see you, Mother."

      Amanda held onto him for many minutes, doing what mothers do best, helping her child cope with loss. When she finally released him, she flashed a small smile of encouragement to him and stepped back.  

      Sarek came forward, his eyes meeting those of his son as he spoke. "Tushau t'nash-veh du, Spock."

      Spock replied with a nod of his head. "Thank you, Father." 

      The Starfleet Honor Guard began its procession then, led by the Surgeon General of Starfleet. McCoy's casket was draped with the Flag of the Federation, but in the middle of the flag was the caduceus, reminding everybody that he was, above all else, a doctor.

      The casket was gently placed down over the grave sight, attached to the necessary pulleys. The Surgeon General stepped forward, and delivered a short speech, which served mostly to list McCoy's many accomplishments, both in the medical field as well as in Starfleet. When it came time for him to mention McCoy's exoneration from Rura Penthe, the crowd grew restless. They all knew what had caused him to fall ill. 

      "Captain Spock will now deliver the eulogy to this great man." The Surgeon General turned. "Captain?"

      The podium was relinquished, and the Vulcan solemnly made his way behind it. Placing the padd atop it, he took a deep breath. His hand dove into the pocket of his robe, caressing the small statue. And then he began.  

      "I first met Leonard McCoy thirty-one years ago when he was assigned to the Enterprise as Chief Medical Officer. The first words I said to him were 'I shall have a security guard escort you to your quarters.' The first words he spoke to me were 'I'll find my own damned quarters, thank you very much, Mister Vulcan.' This first exchange set the tone for the next five years of our lives. It is a well-known fact that during that first Five Year Mission of the Enterprise, Leonard McCoy and I argued. We argued over planetary politics. We argued over medical procedures. We argued over scientific ethics. We argued over philosophy, over history, over the needs of personnel. Even when we had the same goal in mind, such as taking the Captain off-duty for his own health, we would argue. I used to pride myself, because I won most of these arguments with Leonard. He would become flustered and emotional and walk away, and I would stand in the aftermath, priding myself on another win for logic and reason. Little did I know at that time, that Leonard left not because he felt he had lost, but because he had accomplished the goal he set out to do. He had forced me to see the other side of the argument. And more times than not, I would incorporate the two sides before implementing a plan, even though I did not realize I was doing so. And through this method of communication, we became friends. We grew closer than we realized, even more quickly than we realized. Usually, he and I would announce that the official change in our relationship, which occurred twice for the record, took place in 2271. As I sat writing this summary of Leonard's life, I realized it had not. The change occurred in 2268, when I first viewed wholly and completely the depth of his compassion for others. Neither of us would admit it, but we had been friends since after the first confrontation of wills between us. But it took a mission gone awry to show me his inner beauty."

      Spock paused for a moment to catch his breath. He paid no mind to the audience as he gave the statuette in his pocket one more caress.  

      "I admitted nothing to him, and likewise, I would not admit it to myself. But my affection had grown beyond that of mere friendship or respect of a coworker. When the mission ended, I found myself unable to admit to him these feelings, but I also could not imagine staying in Starfleet with him while not admitting them. I foolishly and naively chose to run to Gol, where for the next 1.5 years I attempted to cleanse myself of all emotions, attempting to master Kolinahr. I believe Leonard suspected my feelings, reciprocated them, and was more mature about the process. He had been willing to talk about them. When I left, so did he, deciding that staying in Starfleet was simply more than he wanted. He reopened the practice he had once had in Georgia. It took V'ger to bring us together once more. For the record, it has been stated that I left Kolinahr because I heard the call from V'ger and knew my place was in Starfleet. This is untrue. I felt Leonard's unhappiness at being reinstated into Starfleet against his will, at having to leave his life for a mission he may not live through, and at having to shave off the beard he had spent more than a year growing. Even then, I could through a friendship link feel him. And I knew my place was at his side. I left Gol and returned to the Enterprise, and to him."

      "Although he was less than pleased to see me at first, when the mission ended, we talked. We argued to let our feelings out, using V'ger to disguise our words to those around us. But we both knew what we said to each other. And when that particular debate was over, he kissed me. Although I would like to say that was the best kiss I had ever experienced, it was not, although I can honestly say the best one I had ever been given had also been a gift of his. We bonded shortly thereafter. And we still argued; we still debated. And much of this was because it was simply how we communicated best. Part of this was because I treated him like a child. While he tried to make me accept reality for what it was, I would attempt to shield him from it. I would protect him, even when it was I who needed the protecting. When I died, I could not tell him. I knew what had happened in engineering. I had heard his cry of 'no more death' through our link. At that moment, I knew I would need to make the sacrifice I did. And I did not tell him. I protected him the only way I could. But I broke the rules. When I saw I could not win the argument, I nerve pinched him. I had hoped giving him my katra would be enough in reparations. But when I was brought back the life in the fal-tor-pan, I found myself closer to him than ever before. Although I did not speak his name first, the moment I looked into his eyes, I recognized his spirit, and my katra told me 'Ashaya.' And I stood beside him. He was the reason I left Vulcan and returned to Earth. He was the reason I faced the hearing. And he was the reason I stayed with the Enterprise. I would have followed him anywhere, and that is why he stayed with the Enterprise. When we retired, he was all ready ill, although there was a streak of vitality within him, and he made certain that everyday we spent together was special, memorable. Leonard told me one night that he had ceased to fear death. He had ceased to fear suffering. He was ready whenever it would happen. He told me that he feared leaving me behind, and he feared hurting others with his death. I told him that it would not be his fault. But I realized last night as I wrote this eulogy that I had been acting as though it was his fault for leaving me. This was inappropriate and I ask forgiveness from my friends, from my family, and I ask forgiveness from Leonard. He lived for others, be it through his position, his Oath, his friends, or his family. He lived only to see others live better. And now..." There was a pause, although Spock would not cry, he could feel the tension in his heart. "And now that he is gone, he is free to see all that he brought to others without having to worry. He is free of the pain and suffering, the illness he spent his entire life fighting for others. He is at peace. And he will want us all to remember him with joy, not with sorrow. Remember his life, his vitality, not his illness, for that is the only thing that could still disturb him. And Leonard deserves to finally be at peace."  

      Spock bowed his head. Members of the mourners were crying, including his mother. There was some applause. It was right to do, to celebrate rather than to mourn. Spock left the podium, walking to the casket and placing his hand over the medical embalm. "Ashaya nash-veh du, Leonard. Vokau nash-veh ek'wak."

      Spock stepped back, as the casket was lowered into the ground. He stayed as McCoy was buried and made at home to his new surroundings. And as he walked away, he gazed at McCoy's headstone. It was made of stone, a rare thing in cemeteries now. On one side was engraved McCoy's rank of Commander, and beneath it the medical emblem. On the other side was the carving of the symbol of the House of Sarek. In the middle was an epitaph, written in script. "Here Lies Leonard Horatio McCoy. January 20, 2227-October 19, 2296. A Simple Country Doctor." 

      Spock bent down to place the statuette next to the headstone, and then walked away with his parents. One thought in his mind. *Indeed, Leonard, indeed.*


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