This ship's in my blood.
The Nineteenth Dreamby Farfalla
blueberrysnail @ yahoo.com
Beta-read by Hypatia Kosh, to whom this was originally told as a bedtime story.
Summary: Kirk explains why Generations got it all wrong.
When she bleeds, I bleed. When I destroyed her eight years ago I couldn't destroy that tie. I've awoken from countless dreams in which her world still existed, and I was back in my captain's chair or my cabin or even just in the hallway of the original Enterprise. I loved her shiny younger sister, of course, 1701-A, but it was my silver lady that I saw in my dreams.
Spock loved her too, but of course it was not the same. He did not love her floor, walls, and ceiling as I did, her hum and rhythm, her pulse. He loved the original Enterprise because she was where he found his first home, his first pride in himself, and his first friend. He still has a home, and reasons to be proud of himself, and of course he still has me, so he has no logical reason to long for his chrysalis to be restored. He understands and appreciates my nostalgia, but he does not share it.
I must have died in that accident on the Enterprise-B, because this is no dream. I am home. I am with her. She is the original, and this is my heaven.
I feel no distress at my death. I have come so close far too many times to be surprised now, and I feel no pain. I had a good run, and a lucky life. I carry with me a vague awareness that I have saved Starfleet personnel by my sacrifice, and that pleases me. I smile at an empty bridge.
We are alone, me and my silver goddess. It is a strange and unfamiliar silence, and after an indefinite period of communion, I begin to populate the bridge with my departed crew.
Watkins, a technician killed in Engineering during my first mission as captain. Galway, the young lieutenant. Yeoman Fusco. Crewman Green. One by one they take their places as I remember how well they did their duties, right up to the end. Starfleet's finest.
My eyes land on the empty science station. I cannot invent him here. The pain of touching a paper Spock and feeling nothing, no reassuring hush of love, through my fingertips--no. I cannot bring him here unless he is to be real, as real as I am. He is not mere atmosphere, as I have made of these others. I hope he will come, in time. He may be only one man, but in this peaceful fantasy he is the only reality that I need.
My eyes wash over the glittering array of colors that comprise the many control panels of the Enterprise bridge, not focusing on anything. They blur together as I let the hum of the ship wash over me again.
Out of the corner of my eye I notice that suddenly Galway's short hair has grown darker. Ah, yes--I had remembered her more blonde. What has suddenly corrected my errant memory? And that control panel over there--those buttons have changed color. They are correct now, precisely the old shade of cobalt blue.
As all around me the decorations of the bridge right themselves, I realize that only Spock's photographic memory and precise aesthetic would create such exacting, perfect detail. He is here. He is coming to me. Why I suddenly feel that it has been a very long time, I cannot say...
I rise from my chair and turn to meet him as he comes through the turbolift doors. "Spock!"
We rush to each other and I know beyond any doubt that he is real, as real as I am. Yet he is older than I left him, that morning when I rose into the sky with the Enterprise-B and never came back. His hair has streaks of white and his face is lined.
"How long have I been dead?" I whisper.
"Eighty years," he tells me quietly. My eyes widen. "But you are not dead."
"Then--what is this place?"
"They call it the Nexus," Spock says, rubbing my hand with a gentle but steady hunger. "Time does not exist here."
"How did you find me?"
"I have researched the phenomenon and was able to track its movements. I resolved to join you once my work with various endeavors was finished."
"Anything I'd be interested in hearing about?"
"Among other things, I was working to reunite Romulus and Vulcan," Spock tells me.
I nod, smiling, too happy to see him to say any more. Then I ask--"Can we leave? Can we go back?"
"If we truly wish to," says Spock, "but..." He hesitates. "If we stay here, together, we shall live forever. This is a place that exists outside of the universe."
"We deserve a cushy retirement," I quip.
"It creates whatever I want it to," I tell him.
"So I surmised. That is how I was able to find you. I simply looked for the original Enterprise."
I grin. "I'm pretty predictable."
"Logic dictated that the starship Enterprise would be the most likely place you would create as your personal heaven. My human half observes that it would be ludicrous to assume you would be anywhere else. I have not forgotten your eighteen dreams."
"Looks like the nineteenth one's for real."
"There are some fancies I would love to explore with you once you have drank your fill of the ship," says Spock.
"Can we sleep here?" I ask impulsively.
"Yes, we can sleep here," he reassures me. "Every night. Although," he adds, "I hope you do not mean on the bridge."
Eons later, we lie on the grass with our bare feet dangling in a paved fountain. This is a tropical paradise, with pandanus hanging over the water and flocks of ibis walking in tandem at the far edge of the canal. "So, apparently, all the characters in the opera were based on real individuals after all," Spock was telling me.
I am wide-eyed. "My God, I had no idea." His idea of heaven is learning everything there is to learn, and I suppose mine is letting him teach it all to me.
Something dives into the fountain and retrieves a water bug.
Just then, I sense the presence of another real being. "Who is that?" I clutch at Spock's shoulder with alarm.
We are sitting up now, reaching out with our minds. "It is Captain Picard," says Spock.
"Jean-Luc Picard was the captain of the Enterprise-D."
"Ah, the one from Romulus." I know the story. "Why is he here?" My brow is furrowed.
"I do not know," Spock answers, "but he is looking for you and will try to draw you out of the Nexus."
I shake my head slowly. "He can't have me. I'm dead!"
"You are not dead."
"Does anyone back there know that?"
"See?" I stand up, wiping dew and dirt from my pants. "I'm not going anywhere. Except with you. And you and I are retired. We're having our own adventures this time."
"What are you going to do? If he wants to find you badly enough, he will be able to do so. That's the nature of this place." Spock stands up and takes my hand. I can tell that he is momentarily frightened, behind his calm expression.
"Then he'll find me," I tell him with determination, "just as he wants to find me." I close my eyes and concentrate.
Spock comprehends through his telepathic contact with my hand and helps me with my work. Together, we create a decoy Captain James T. Kirk, a man made of fantasy and history and legend. When Captain Picard meets him, this new Kirk will take on whatever traits Picard projects onto him, whatever expectations Picard may have for someone so long dead and so long celebrated. It shall live up to every rumor ever told and every hope ever felt about the life I lived. And it shall distract him from a truth that is none of his business.
Spock and I set him free, and he goes away to greet the stranger. Presently, I feel their departure, and it is a relief. I have felt the echo of Picard's supreme loneliness through my connection to the decoy, and it makes me hold Spock tighter.
Not that he minds.