Thanks go to Hypatia Kosh, who reviewed this fic and, in so doing, got me up off my ass to do a much-needed rewrite. And thanks too, of course, to Walt [Whitman] for the bitsies of "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd." I love you, man.
(P.S. I love feedback.)
They had wanted him to say something, and he had not wanted to--had even, for a moment, considered outright refusal. But as always, it was the doctor's piercing eyes, pale and blue and altogether too knowing, that had kept him to an obligation that he would otherwise have forsook.
When informed of Jim's death, Spock had discovered within himself a surprising vestige of that old Vulcan naivete. In the beginning, it had been this very naivete that hade made it so difficult for him to relate to humanity's open emotions, its wiles and wills. For Spock found that some small part of him had always assumed that even Jim's death--yes, even Jim's--could not break his even, contemplative stride through life.
And, of course, it had.
Leonard had called with the news. When the doctor spoke the words that for so many years they had both feared to hear, all the days seemed to melt away as if they had never been, and he saw Jim as he once was. He saw his captain, so young, etched there all along in memory: his scapegrace grin, his teasing, cajoling laughter, his resolve faces, those meant for the enemy--of whom there had been many. Spock saw also his vacant, withdrawn expressions--when he had been hurt, when he had stumbled, when he had been weary beyond the telling, when he had not known how to ask for help. And Ambassador Spock had sat in his study and remembered.
The room hushed as he mounted the stairs, and for a few brief seconds his heart beat madly against his side, and he did not believe that he would be able to continue. To speak of him. For losing him, at the very last, had been like losing a part of his self, and in such a case, how did one speak of it at all?
He faced all those assembled there and cleared his throat, a rather impersonal gesture, he thought somewhat wildly, for a day so personal. "I have never been a poet," he began. "But if there can be said to be one thing of principal importance, which Jim taught me in all the years that I knew him, it was that it is acceptable, good even, to acknowledge your weaknesses. In need, one must rely on others to do and say that which we cannot."
Pause. "He did not always follow this precept," quiet laughter from the listeners here, "but he certainly knew how to instill it in others."
He stopped, regaining some semblance of control. "When I was told of Jim's death, I found that I could not put into words what he meant to me." Here he had, at first, planned to add 'to many of us' but had realized that this was a lessening of what he had to say. This was about what Jim had been to Spock; there could be no compromises.
"In my grief, I turned to one more skilled in saying those things, which I wanted to say, one who had also lost a captain, a man whom he had loved."
He took out a sheet of paper and began reading slowly, praying his voice did not betray him:
When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,
I mourn'd, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.
Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
And thought of him I love…
In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash'd palings,
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle--and from this bush in the dooryard,
With delicate-color'd blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
In the swamp in secluded recesses,
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.
Solitary the thrush,
The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
Sings by himself a song.
Song of the bleeding throat,
Death's outlet song of life, (for well dear brother I know,
If thou wast not granted to sing thou would'st surely die.)
...O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved?
And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone?
And what shall my perfume be for the grave of him I love?
Sea-winds blown from east and west,
Blown from the Eastern sea and blown from the Western sea, till
there on the prairies meeting,
These and with these and the breath of my chant,
I'll perfume the grave of him I love...