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Grief: seven signals, seven stages

Chapter Text

Officially Starfleet’s latest mass casualties are listed as being victims a massive radiation anomaly that killed over ninety percent of the active duty members bordering the edge of the Klingon empire and the beta quadrant.

Unofficially Spock can vividly recall the entity that was Control methodically picking off every organic being it came across. It is one of many memories he wished to forget but not the chief among them. That would be reserved for her and the moment he was left behind. He does not wish to dwell on it but that particular memory plays in his mind on an endless loop.

Michael

—-

The rush recruitments had given new life and weight to the fleet. New officer positions become available and Spock had a prime choice of assignments. With Number One off scouting, he was quick to take her place under Pike’s command as new XO. Spock was pleased with the development. However he did not appreciate going in for medical eval.

Even now he sat stiffly on the bio-bed with his back rigid and his eyes fixed to the door. His tunic sat on the chair next to him in an inviting temptation of folded, blue warmth. The room was far too cold for him to be in nothing more than his undershirt and underwear.

Thankfully the doctor arrives none too soon with his results as he strode in through the door. Dr. M’Benga was a man who wore his thoughts clearly across his face. As he gazed over his data PADD at Spock his mouth spread into a bright, toothy smile. His skin was lighter than Michael’s but not by much, more yellow in its hue than the red undertone his sister bore.

He crossed the room and pulled a stylus from the tablet’s back to sign his orders.“ You’ll be happy to know you are fit for duty, Lieutenant Commander.”

Spock couldn’t say for sure what he felt about the news. Relief? Numb? The new title derived a small measure of pride. He was glad to have obtained the new grade but he did not plan on traditionally celebrating the achievement.

Spock nodded and moved to retrieve his tunic when the doctor hummed in disapproval. “ Not so fast. I’m worried about this.”

His thin finger tapped on the tablet twice and the information was projected on the view screen on the wall behind the biobed. An image of Spock’s body interior was projected before them in a burst of buzzing color. The heat escaping his skin gives his image a hazy aura of white. Everything was shades of red and orange with the exception of an ugly gash of blue. It hung over his side, right above his heart like a bruise. Small blots along the back of his skull mirror the gash in a twin image.

The doctor held his hand in front of himself and slowly widened his fingers to enlarge the image. “ Last we scanned you, these weren’t present.” M’Benga twisted his wrist and highlighted the oblong spots onscreen. Spock swallowed. “ Any idea what may have happened here?”

Thoughts of his bond with Michael immediately came to mind but he was reluctant to divulge anything. It could lead to more questions and questions could lead to attention towards Discovery. And for the record, Discovery no longer existed. Off the record, it was still very much serving its last and final mission.

“ I could only speculate as to what they could be.” Spock answered finally. His throat felt uncomfortably tight.

M’Benga frowned and skipped to the next section over his heart. “ The soft tissues in these areas have depressed circulation and nerve activity. Do you have any family history of something like this happening? I don’t want to let something go undiagnosed and end up having whatever this is spread and you crashing in our OR for something I could have prevented.”

Spock pursed his lips and pulled his tunic over his head. He spoke again to the doctor as he put his arms through his sleeve. “ You cannot prevent heartbreak, Dr.M’Benga.”

The doctor blinked at the answer, unsure of how he should reply. A Vulcan speaking of emotions, let alone heartache, was peculiar. To conclude that his emotional distress had physically manifested itself as wounds within him was another matter the doctor looked to be chewing over. “ Well, if that’s all it is, I’m sure it will work itself out.”

When he caught Spock’s unconvinced face and added. “ With some counseling and or therapy of course. Your choice.”

He set the stylus to the PADD and signed off. Spock’s comm chimes with the set of doctor’s orders officially transcribing themselves onto his dossier. “ This will help. We need everyone at their best. After the anomaly we have a lot of rebuilding to do.”

Spock nodded in agreement but still remained uncertain. How was there ever getting over what had to happen to her.

Later in his quarters Spock sat at his personal comm. His tea sat beside it, now too cool to find appealing. He had been searching for a counselor so he could complete the doctors posthaste. The sooner he meet with them, the sooner he could finish. Doctors were never Spock’s favorite to interact with. The thought of such a person whose job it was to pry and unlock private, emotional matters made finding a psychiatrist all the more taxing.

He soon found himself wavering and slipping over into his data files. The red crystal in his hand glinted in the light between his fingers, tempting him. He saw no need to resist it any longer. He loaded it in and tapped his comm’s screen to play the last action.

Michael’s face stared back at him from the screen’s projection. Her full mouth was a show of Vulcan while her eyes smiled brightly at the camera. Her hair moved as she tilted her head and sighed thoughtfully through her nose.

“ I miss you so much.”

Her voice. It had been months since he had heard it outside of his head.

Spock paused the message to look at her. He hasn’t found it any easier to reconcile what he feels with what he knows. The woman on the view screen isn’t alive on the other side. She isn’t alive anywhere in this world; at this time. She’s just gone. But her he’s the same. He’s past her time, beyond her reach.

His eyes traces the fine lines around her face and wonder if anything has changed about her. Does she have more wrinkles now in response to passing through the future? Does she still smile as she does here on the recording?

Spock grit his teeth and swallowed the best he could as he held fast to kolinar and repressed the urge to grieve openly. He wondered if she has had to do the same, fighting back tears and wailing and beating her fists against the wall because she wants so badly what she can’t have. What they never had.

His knuckles cracked as his fist tighten and he takes a slow breath to relax. Being this tense wouldn’t do anyone any good but it’s something he fights, whether passively or aggressively, to see managed.

Just the thought of a shuttle makes his adrenaline release until he’s pale and dry mouthed with hidden panic. If he closes his eyes, he’s back aboard the Galileo trying everything to make it operable. He had given the task his all and was found lacking.

At night he can see Michael returning on top of the ruined ships they perched upon in a shock of bright red.  Her wings are still extended as she beckons him to follow her but-

He coughed. “ Computer, resume message.” he said hoarsely.

Resuming message 10849

Michael stared back at the camera, still beaming brightly. Her happiness almost seemed smug as he gazed over her features. He could hardly blame her then and still won’t now. She had just been informed of her promotion from Lieutenant Commander to Commander. The message was performed to pass along the news as well as to invite Spock to her wedding down. Cadets weren’t normally in attendance of such activities but with her new rank and familial position she thought he might be able to go.

“ If your CO grants you permission to travel I plan to hold the ceremony on the lunar colony’s nexus complex. Otherwise I don’t mind having it at an establishment nearby the academy grounds.” she told him with a slight incline of her head. Such a subtle movement for her.

Spock was use to her body language holding a conversation at the same time as her mouth. Maybe her body’s language was quiet because for once it actually agreed with her. She had done well for herself at Starfleet, despite her worry. He had told her as much. Michael gave another tilt of her head, unaware of his observations and gave a muted smile at the comm screen. “ I am flexible on location so long as it gains your attendance.”

His heart stuttered over the multiple meanings she wove into her words. All the things they longed for and grew hungry with. Afternoon naps under unmade sheets, walks along the Bay Bridge and prolonged dinners off campus with no one to suspect anything was amiss. Even if she had craved something different, the events described were what they did with frequent repetition.

“ Please notify me as soon as possible to let me know of your travel status.” she pressed. Spock could feel his neck tick with the motion to nod affirmatively as she formed a ta’al with her hands in front of the screen. She never could perform it with ease and he can see her discomfort with having to form it without his hand to guide hers. “ Live long and prosper, brother.”

End Message

Chapter Text

“ How are you holding up?”

Spock looked up from his drink and blinked over towards his Captain’s face. Pike gazed back at him steadily despite the glossy shine to his eye. The alcohol they were drinking was exceptionally strong. ‘ Could even get an android smashed’ the bartender had said as he passed the tumblers over. Spock looked back down towards the matte green liquid with a slight tilt of his head. His lips felt numb from it and his thoughts lighter than usual. He did not frequently become inebriated but when he did, he enjoyed the sleepy relaxation of it. He didn’t want to ruin the sensation with having to talk about their shared past.

“ I am as well as can be expected.”

Pike’s twisted his lips in a slight scowl and swirled the emerald-colored liquor in its glass. “ That’s about the most vague answer you could give me short of saying nothing.”

Spock tried to deflect again and cupped his drink between his hands. “ Our commissions do not guarantee our safety.”

“ Bullshit.”

Spock was stunned silent from the way the older man spat out the curse. It was like he had been chewing it and came across something evidently disgusting. “ You mean to tell me you lost your sister and you don’t feel anyway about? I’ve only known you for so long but I call bullshit, Spock.”

Pain welled in Spock’s throat as his whole body went into a slight constriction. His eyes blinked harder, his lung drew poorly at the air and his hands tighten on his tumbler until he hears it squeak with a protest to stop before shattering. “ I have been keeping busy. Meditating daily.”

Pike sighed loudly and looked away from him. He appeared the same but his energy felt so much older to Spock than when they first met. Some of the lightness he used to have was gone after the rescue and subsequent disappearance of Discovery.

Spock couldn’t help but wonder if the Captain sensed the same change from him now. Spock would agree, he wasn’t the same young officer he meet aboard the Enterprise. And he’s certainly not the same Vulcan he was when he returned. They were both broken and neither one liked it.

Pike reeled around on him now with a tired but determined look across his face. “ Spock. I’m not asking you this for my health, I am literally doing it for yours. No matter what you say, Vulcan discipline or not, you are not okay.”

When Spock remained silent something hard flashed over Pike’s gaze. “ Look. You can either talk it out with me or somebody else that’s actually licensed and certified to do this back planet-side. You don’t have to talk to me but I don’t have to fly with someone I don’t think is okay- not anymore at least.”

Spock’s eye tick in the face of the ultimatum. Where he was once an enigmatic mask, his facade of orderly control is breaking. He closed his eyes and reopened them to gaze away from his drinking companion.

“ There are times I find myself unable to reconcile my knowledge of her absence and my need for her to be there. It is not at all something I have dealt with before. Michael has always been there for me, in her own way.”

Pike nodded, leaning away. He seemed happy to finally have the ball rolling on their conversation. He took a hearty sip of his drink and gesture towards Spock’s. Once Spock had a sip of his own, Pike answered. “ Grief is different for everyone, every time you encounter it.”

Spock sipped again and bit the inside of his mouth. “ I never truly entertained the possibility that she would not be here. She is alive but she may as well have passed for how accessible she is.”

Pike took a deep breath as he mulled over his word. “ Well, we can’t very well know what her condition is. She may be alive and well, trying to find a way to shake Control. She may have done that already but died trying to-“

“ She is alive, Captain. I know this like I know my mother is alive and my father is well.”

Pike’s expression wrinkled in confusion. “ How could you? We can’t even talk with her?”

Spock shook his head but answered all the same. “ I know this because Michael is-“

He stopped, shocked. He almost said it, almost told. The alcohol was making him loose with his words and he was about slip.

His abrupt stop must have signaled his distress because Pike sat up straighter and leaned back in. “ She’s what, Spock?”

The alcohol sours on his stomach as Spock shook his head. “ I-I cannot say what she is.”

Pike lifted a brow and twisted his lips, unmoved. “ Can’t or won’t? Just tell me how you know before I’m forced to ask another Vulcan.”

The last part is a tease but it chilled Spock all the same. He didn’t want or need Pike going to anyone else with anything he had to say. M’Benga, the fleet’s admirals, his parents. None would approve and that was why no one knew.

He looked up at his Captain and felt a twinge at his side. Since Michael had left, Christopher was his closest companion. If he couldn’t confide in him, then who? And then there was the awful alternative of having to confess to someone else who didn’t know him beyond his file and accommodations.

He took another draw from his drink and finished it. He should not trust Pike but he wanted to. “ It is my own inability to say because I do not know if I should. I worry about how wise that decision would be.”

Pike shrugged and tried to stir a causal air between them. “ If you need to say something off the record, Spock, you have my confidence that whatever it is won’t leave this bar.”

Spock cast his gaze away and stared into the empty bottom of his glass. “ Michael was- fostered by my parents and raised as a daughter.”

Pike nodded as Spock moved on. “ But Michael was more than a sister to me. She was my best friend, my-“ He worked to keep voice composed. Everything within him screamed to stop but he couldn’t. “ She became my everything.”

The older man froze for a moment unsure of what conclusion to draw. “ What exactly do you mean by your everything?”

Spock’s face grew solemn as he defined it. “ Michael and I would have gone together into the future with Discovery. We wished to see where such a new, uncharted reality would have led us.”

“ Led you?” The Captain’s voice was faint. Spock rushed on less he lost his nerve. As it was his grief was threatening to choke him quiet.

“ I was hers. I vowed this to Michael and then my shuttle became inoperable. I was unable to go- I was left behind but I am not alone.”

A blind sighed expression crossed Pike’s face as he took his words. In six, garbled sentences Spock had rendered him speechless. It was clear Pike didn’t know where he should start but he regained his composure as he always did under duress. “ Okay, Spock. Tell me very base of this as simply as you can.”

“We were bonded.” he croaked. His throat burned. He wished he hadn’t finished the whole drink when he had. He desperately wanted to swallow but his mouth was dry and he didn’t want the bartender to linger nearby as he made him something.

Pike quirked his jaw to the side as he thought, oblivious of Spock’s internal struggle. “ Bonded? Like- engaged or-“ He asked, holding up his hands as if weighing something on a scale.

“ I do not wish to define it any other way than how I have presented it. We were bonded, are bonded but she is gone. With time the way it is, I feel Michael’s presence like a memory that’s about to happen. A tomorrow that was yesterday.”

Pike leaned back and shook his head with a pale look of shock to his face. The bartender walked by and he signaled him with a weak snap of his fingers and a point to their glass. “ A double of what you gave us.”

The Bartender, a Bolian, gave a surprised scoff. “ I wouldn’t advise it unless you all don’t have work tomorrow?”

Pike smiled with his mouth while he keeping his gaze steely. “ We’ve worked under worse conditions, in less comfort.”

Bolian topped them off with a quiet your funeral under his breath and wandered off to the other side at Spock’s heavy stare.

Pike raised his glass and clicked it against Spock’s with a wry smile. “ To you.”

Spock raised his glass and took a long sip. Relief flooded him as the liquid both burned and wet his throat. “ To me?”

Pike shrugged and swirled the alcohol in his tumbler. “ Yeah. I don’t know what to do with you, Spock. I want to congratulate you for your bonding but - you have to understand I just. I don’t know.”

He blew out a breath and shook his head. “ And that you know Michael is alive but beyond you? It sounds like some sort of ring of hell from Dante’s Inferno. Not that I’m saying Michael or you are deviant. You’re not related, not like that. It’s just, not a good look, Spock.”

Spock watched him as Pike turned his drink this way and that and pondered over the new information. “ So yeah, this drink is for you so I can forget everything you me.”

He smiled and took another sip.  “ And it’s also to remember how much you trusted yourself me. I don’t take things like that likely.”

“ Neither do I, Captain. You have been a good friend.”

Pike chuckled and leveled a finger at him. “ You’ve been a good friend too so I think you can stop with Captain and just call me Christopher.”

“ As you wish, Christopher.”

They drank in silence, letting the sounds of the bar wash over their drunken senses. When Spock was halfway through his drink Pike spoke again. “ I’m not going to lie that this is weird for me, you and Michael but you can talk to me. I won’t tell anyone. I promise. You have to talk about grief though, Spock. It festers if you don’t.”

“ Thank you.” is all he said in response but Spock had planned on it. But that was before they went to Talos IV. Pike had kept his word by not saying anymore at all. And for the man that he was, Spock honored him with mutiny under his latest Captain to save him. To say his and Kirk’s start was rocky was an understatement but Spock was in denial.

Chapter Text

“ He’s dead, Spock.”

Spock frowned and glanced over at the biobed. Nurse Chapel had already covered the body of the Lieutenant Junior grade officer. She was still at his side finishing his death certificate in a solemn refrain. Tormolen had been so young.

Spock had heard of his scuffle within the galley, been told of how the young man had turned a knife on himself after first threatening others with it.

His subsequent wound should not have killed him. The successful surgery and immediate recovery should have seen to that. Yet he was dead.

Spock linked his hands behind him. It was a nervous habit. He hadn’t been able to stop himself from doing it since Michael’s departure and was no resigned to embrace it. “ Any speculations on possible causes of death?”

Enterprise’s latest Chief Medical officer shook his head and scowled. McCoy was a near polar opposite to M’Benga. The pale southern gent was known for his bedside manner or lack thereof. His drawling accent would also become thicker the more agitated he grew.

He puzzled over the PADD in his hands and looked Spock square in the eye. “ I tell you, Spock, there was no reason for that boy to die. He was fit as a fiddle and he just suddenly keeled over.”

Spock gave him a chance to finish before reiterating his query. “ Your speculation, Doctor?”

McCoy tucked the PADD under one of his arms and crossed them against his chest. “ If I had to bet  maybe he picked up something planet side on Psi 2000’s science station. I won’t know for sure until I run some more pathology.”

Spock nodded and straightened. “ Please keep me appraised of your findings.”

The doctor scoffed and turned towards the biobed. “ Like I’d keep it to myself.”

Spock glanced back at the bed and found the nurse’s eyes fixed on his face.

He often times found her gaze resting on him but when he caught her she would quickly look away. This time, however, she did not. When they locked eyes, she stood and started towards him. Her pupils were tiny, black pinpoints within the pale blue of her irises. And though she looked to want to talk, the nurse, usually so intent, seemed unfocused. “ Spock?”

Curious. She phrased his name like a question.

Spock paused and regarded her to continue but she didn’t. Chapel stood there staring at him as if the mere sight of him had transfixed her. After a moment he cleared his throat and excused himself. “ I have to return to the bridge. Contact me later at your convenience if you need to speak with me.”

She blinked hard, the spell laced over her temporarily broken. “ Yes, of course. Thank you, sir.”

He left for the lift before she tried again to speak with him. He needed to inform the Captain that something more might have been at play with Lt. Jr. grade Tormolen’s demise. He would tell Jim of his findings and suggest a quarantine for anyone exhibiting symptoms in line with the late officer.

He was young and still naive of the perils of space but his behavior today was not in line with what Spock knew of him. He was inclined to side with the doctor’s thoughts about a possible virus or bacterium.

The lift stopped and opened to the bridge. Once the doors fully parted Spock was greeted to a scene he had not been prepared to enter.

He sidestepped to the left to keep the couple backing into the direction of the turbo lift from running into him. Sulu? Their newest helmsman was shirtless and armed with a rapier. Held against his side was a straining Lieutenant Uhura. Her neatly styled hair had been knocked askew by the other lieutenant’s brazen handling.  The pair of them fancying an ancient terran romance novel in their posturing.

As Spock and others worked to resolve the strange situation, the Vulcan moved for the Captain to signal a yellow alert. Jim did not come against it. He was being sensible about the matter with one officer dead. Kirk was much younger than Pike and while they gave way to bouts of reckless behavior, Spock had grown attached to him.

Where he could have looked to Pike as a father figure, James T. Kirk had welcomed Spock with open, eager arms. Spock never encountered any other person like him. He was brave where he should have been cautious and passionate to a fault. ‘Call me Jim, Spock. We’re friends now aren’t we?’ he had said after the Talos IV incident. ‘ But I’ll still address you as Mr. Spock if you’d prefer?’

And it occurred to Spock then that they truly were friends. In the face of his mutinous actions, Kirk had rallied to see Spock cleared of all charges and save Captain Pike because Spock was dear to him. He had not abandon Spock to the consequence but rather helped him.

Something about their friendship made Spock think he could divulge more than he ought to with him. If he knew about Discovery, about Michael, would he stand against him? Spock was more inclined to think he’d try to understand him.

As it was, Kirk was endlessly in love. His metaphorical heart was dogged in its pursuit of mutual affection and it did not matter what form it came in. Love was love and Kirk was its devotee.

These thoughts keep Spock busy as he made his way back into his quarters. In case of a quarantine he did not wish to be without sufficient provisions. He was in the middle of pondering the Captain and logging his cabin’s rations when his door chimed.

He rose still musing when he was greeted by the teary-eyed face of Nurse Chapel.

“ Spock!” she shouted in a near wail. He stood assessing her from the doorway. Her eyes were like before, pale and unfocused. A light sheen of sweat coated her face and neck. She hands were clasped in front of her chest, pushed firmly against her bust. She looked as if she were about to beg benediction. What had happened?

“ Nurse Chapel? Are you well?”

“ Perfectly fine.” she said evenly. He was slow to see her hands moving; still rerouting his mind from thinking of Jim when she snagged his between hers.

Spock went stiff with panic as the whole of Chapel’s mind exploded against his. He gasped at the onslaught, unable to pull away. Her affection beat at him like an endless torrent, roaring and pushing at him.

“ I love you, Mr. Spock. I always have.” she whispered. In his stricken silence she grew hopefully. She came closer with a smile spreading across her face. “ You have to know you have been-“

“ I am Vulcan. I cannot reciprocate your affections.”

Her face grew puzzled as he worked his hands free from her grip. They trembled and shook as he held them at his side. “ If you would excuse me.”

He closed the door before she could refute him and leaned against it. Five minutes past but his heart was still racing. He needed to move to the comm to report Nurse Chapel’s signs of infection but it felt like too much effort.

The trembling in his hands grew worst as time past. His breathing soon joined in with its own revolt. Spock stood against the doorframe and shut his eyes. While his heart rate and breathing were elevated his energy had yet to fatigue as it normal would with a fever. What was this?

He opened his eyes again and found his gaze resting on the holocube Michael had given him from his graduation. In some sort of strange torture, Michael’s eyes found his. They smiled at him warmly from her place beside him as a newly minted officer. She had foregone her uniform and worn a traditional formal robe. Because it was an occasion that should be honored accordingly she answered him when he had asked after her attire. 

And though the holovid had not recorded the moment Spock remembered her fingers brushing his in a Vulcan kiss of pride. She had been so proud of him, she had been, had been. She is gone. Gone. She is gone. Michael is no more. She is- no, cannot be mentioned- she is-

The bond within him stretched for her, reaching. The unmet tendrils recoiled in rejection. Gone. She really was gone?

“ No.” he groaned, clutching his head. “No, no, no, NO!”

A sudden squall of emotion swelled inside his chest. Spock parted his lips to breath but his lungs were frozen mid exhale. His eyes teared and he fought to break the hold over his chest. His throat began to burn as his lung stung from lack of oxygen. Breathe he demanded his body, breathe!

Just as spots began to dance before him, his body jerked and had him crashing to his knees with a gasp.

His hands balled to fist against his cheeks before he slammed against the floor. “ NO! Michael!”

A sound he didn’t know either human or Vulcan could make cracked from his throat. Where was she?“ Michael!”

The silence that followed clawed at his mind as he bowed onto the floor. He knew that whatever had infected Tormolen was fast act work inside him. It didn’t make the anguish he felt any less painful. The condition might have been caused by a pathogen but the emotions it used to fuel his delirium were real.

Spock pawed at his head, knotting his hair between his fingers. He held it still and curled in on himself. Despite the pressure it still felt as if his head would burst at any moment. Michael…

Her face came to him, easily, smiling and open. She mouthed his name but no sound came. He had to stop. He couldn’t think of her right now. If he did, he wasn’t sure of what would be left of him. As it was, something hot and sharp was eating at his sternum. Michael said within his mind’s eye. Her eyes continued to pierce him as she mouthed his name again.

“ I…am in control.” he rasped. “ I am in control…of my emotions.”

He repeated the manta until he could regain his footing. Standing once again Spock stumbled out of the door and down the hallway. He had to report his infection to the medbay…had to…why hadn’t he done so from his quarters?

Spock

Michael? He spun around and faced the corridor behind him. Nothing. There was no one there but he had heard her? It came from just a meter behind him if he had to guess. He tilted his head to see if he could spot a shadow or catch a scent when he heard her voice again. It was still behind him but much closer this time.

Spock

“ Michael.” he called aloud. He turned but was yet again greeted to an empty hallway. He started again towards the lift and resumed reciting his mantra. “ I am…in control.”he panted.

Spock

“ I am in control.” Spock.  He closed his eyes to center himself. “ I-“

The sensation of breath brushed against his left ear. A familiar scent mixed with coconut oil and rosemary filled his nose. Spock

His eyes snapped open. No one was there. Spock let an anguished snarl out of his mouth as he shouted into the corridor. “ I am Vulcan!”

This time her voice did not follow his. He found himself just as grieved as he was relieved that it had stop. He sobbed louder as the pain to his forehead increased. The unyielding throb was nearly blinding. Spock uncurled his fist and held his hand over his face. He sobbed again. Each passing moment under the Psi bacterium’s thrall his shame fought to consume him. He sniffed as the epiphany hit him. That ache, it was guilt. That pain that had simultaneously been dull and sharp. He was guilty.

Spock swallowed thickly as the pain welled inside his throat. He had let Michael take the weight of the known universe onto her slight shoulders alone. He could have done more, couldn’t he have? He had promised, told her he loved her. He said he would go and he was here.

He had failed her in so many ways. When she had first saved him he had been so cruel to her. How could she have ever loved him? “ I-“ his voice cracked as emotion threatened to choke him. He leaned against the wall and stiffened his trembling mouth. “ I- I am in control.”

What if she had never loved him? What if he had some how coerced her into something that she saw no way out of? He failed. There should have been some way that he could have stayed with her. .

I let her go. She left after I promised to go with her! I couldn’t do anything. I failed. I failed. I failed- her.

Spock shut his eyes again and stumbled into the nearest room. Upon entering he recognizes it as meeting room 2 with its stenographer desk and long table. He ambled towards the small desk, still fighting the infection.

“ I am an officer. My duty-“

Michael’s face came to him in beatific splendor. A memory. It was the first shore leave she had been granted and she wanted to see him. She had been so eager to show him her latest stripes that he had nearly forgotten how much he had missed her and wanted to meld. Maybe sensing his need she paused in her display and looked at him.

“ I miss you too.” she whispered softly.

He heard it as much as he recalled it. He cried in lament and fell into the chair. He reached out to the comm before him and braced himself. “ My duty…” he started snagging against the comm. “ My duty is to-“

I love you brother.

Spock sobbed again and tightened his grip on the comm monitor. “ My duty…I’m so sorry…I…I’m sorry.”

The feel of her palm pressed against his own pressed against his right hand, soft and cool. Tears flowed freely from his eyes as he struggled to regain his composure. Michael was not here, it was the virus. Yet the guilt was there before him.

I love you.

“ To…two…two, four, six….six times…” he broke his calculation with a jagged cry. The pain of her separation was near physical. Even when they served apart it had never felt so unbearable. The guilt only amplified it, making her image in his mind all the more awe-inspired. Even as she projected her fear and longing through the bond he had never witnessed a more beautiful being in his life. “ Michael.”

He had to break this madness less he succumb to it.

His guilt-ridden bawling had left him teary on the desktop with his arms folded beneath him. Spock didn’t wish the action that he chose but he saw no way out. Perhaps it was some sort of karmic irony that he should do what he did now.

You disgusting half breed. Don’t you get it? I don’t want you to come with me. I’m leaving.

He replayed his sister’s childish voice as it lanced him with blow after emotional blow. Rejection gave way to sadness which eventually moved into bitter coolness.

“ I am Vulcan.” he repeated. His voice was firm this time, steady in its deep bass. He rose again much more in control of himself. Disgusting half breed.

“ I am Vulcan. I am in control of my emotions.”

You’re lying.

“ Vulcans cannot lie.” he snapped.

You’re not Vulcan. You’re more, Spock. I love you.

He was no longer listening. He was an officer. His duty was to Starfleet. He was Vulcan. He was in control of his emotions. He was here and she was gone and that was his fault. Spock left the meeting room and aided in getting the ship back under control as he had himself. There was no room for anything else. Guilt takes up so much space.