Characters: Spock/Uhura, Amanda
Summary: How do Vulcans deal with grief?
Disclaimer: These characters aren't mine, but the story is.
Author's Note: Many thanks to oncetwiceforevr for the incredibly fast beta. :)
This is for Shay, who named the cat Ziyal. Miss you.
He walked down a darkened hall with his mother, holding her hand in his. The hall was lined with doors, old style Terran doors, all of them closed. As they walked, he knew that they were heading towards a destination, one that caused him distress and anxiety. He tightened his grip on his mother’s hand, and was grateful when she squeezed his back. He turned to look at her, trying to ignore the doors, trying to shut out the knowledge of where they were heading and what it meant.
As he watched her, some of the grey that had crept into her hair over the years began to fade away. Her face became softer, the creases of wrinkles smoothing away with every step they took together. He swallowed, wanting to speak to her, wanting to tell her words that he had kept hidden inside for so long, but knowing nothing that he said could alter the outcome. And so he remained quiet, ignored the lump in his throat and the strange twisting sensation in his stomach.
They walked in silence.
He saw a slight smile light up her face and he turned to look back down the hall. Far ahead, one of the doors had opened, flooding the darkness with a brilliant, golden light. He stopped, holding tight to her hand when she continued walking. He did not want to continue down this path, did not want her to go, but neither of them had a choice in the matter. She kept walking and did not stop until his grip on her hand caused their arms to stretch and she could go no further until he either moved or released her. She stopped then, turned back to face him, and smiled. It was the smile that she had always reserved for him when they were alone, the one that spoke of her wonder, pride, and delight in him. The one that said she loved him and accepted him just as he was. He swallowed again, his throat tight and his heart racing madly in his side.
He wanted to speak, but he knew that he could not trust his voice. But in this place, he did not need to speak. ‘Don’t go,’ he thought, aware that she knew what was in his mind, in his soul.
‘I must,’ she replied in kind. Her lips never altered from that smile. She crossed the distance between them and brought her other hand up to caress the side of his face, the way she so often had when he was in distress when he was younger. ‘I don’t want to, but I have no choice.’ He looked down at her and her face momentarily blurred. He blinked, felt the tears slide down his face, and did not try to stop her when she brushed them away.
‘Mother, I-’ he began, only to be stopped by her finger pressed against his lips.
‘I know, Spock, I know. You don’t need to say it. I have always known.’
For a moment, they simply stood together, hand in hand. But he knew that the moment could not last, and so when she took both of his hands in hers and squeezed them, he understood that they needed to move again. He let her take the lead, guiding them down the hall towards the light, every step like a dagger driven into his heart.
When they reached the door, she stopped and turned to face him again. Suddenly he realized that she appeared like his earliest memories of her, her long brunette hair softly framing her youthful face. They were the same age now, and the gilded light from the other side of the open door surrounded her. She let go of his hand, her fingers sliding from his grasp. He tried to tighten his grip, to keep her from slipping away, but all he could do was watch it happen, powerless to stop it.
She turned from him and looked back at the light coming from the other side of the door. For a moment, she stood quietly, bathed in the golden glow. Then she slowly started to walk forward, towards the light. The tightness in his chest increased with every step she took away from him, with every step she took towards the open door and what lay beyond. His vision blurred again and he wanted to scream, to shout, to beg and plead with her not to go, not to leave, to tell her how much he loved her, but he knew it would have no effect. Nothing could be done to stop what was happening.
She was almost in the doorway now, her hand resting lightly on the frame. One last time, she turned to look at him, that wonderful smile on her face yet again. He wanted to move forward, to try one more time to keep her here, or perhaps to follow after her, but his feet were like stone.
‘I’ll always love you, Spock.’
And then she turned away from him, turned back into the blinding light, and walked through the open door. When she did, the light faded and died, and the door quietly slipped shut.
She was gone.
“No,” he said aloud, his voice little more than a choked sob…
…and gasped as he came out of the dream and back into the waking world.
He lay panting in bed, realizing that the one word that he has spoken aloud in the dream he had also spoken aloud here and that was what had knocked him back into reality. His chest felt tight and constricted, his throat raw, the sensations from the dream manifest in the physical realm. Not surprising. He let his breath out in a ragged sigh and ran a hand over his face in an effort to regain his composure. When his fingers encountered trails of moisture on his cheeks, he rubbed them away with more effort than was required. Had he been entirely human, he would have cursed, or cried again.
He took a deep cleansing breath and looked beside him, hoping that he had not disturbed Nyota. She still slept soundly next to him, one leg over both of his and her hand resting on his shoulder. He had not disturbed her, for which he was grateful. But he found that lying there beside her, watching her while she slept, threatened what little control he had at the moment. Gently he slipped her leg off of his and moved her hand, settling it on his pillow. She made a small sound of distress in her sleep as he put her hand on the pillow and he froze, afraid that any movement on his part would wake her. But she did not repeat the noise and appeared to settle back into slumber. Carefully he eased himself from the bed and made his way to the lavatory.
He did not bother with the lights. He only needed the sink and the towel, and he knew well enough where they were in the dark. Besides, he did not want to see his reflection right now. He needed no visual confirmation of his lapse, he only needed to get it back under his control. But he could not put the images from the dream from his mind. He could still see himself walking beside his mother down that hall, still see the smile that lit up her face and the golden light that she become a part of. He sighed again, cupped his hands under the faucet, and splashed cold water on his face.
After a few minutes, he felt almost in control again. His heart rate had almost returned to normal, and the aches in his throat and chest had all but subsided. Were he alone, he would have meditated until his bodily functions had returned to normal, but Nyota’s welcome presence in his quarters precluded this. He needed solitude to meditate properly, and even though she was asleep, he was aware that she was there. He considered donning his uniform and heading to the bridge to start his duty shirt early. It wasn’t like it would be the first time he had showed up in the wee hours of the morning, but Nyota would be less than pleased if he did that again. She would want him to come back to bed. To be honest, that was his preference as well. He was tired, but he wasn’t certain he could go back to sleep. He might very well just lie there all night, unable to sleep at all… but she would be there beside him, and he could watch her as she slept, something he did as often as he could. Indeed, this was the best choice and he moved back to the bed.
He pulled the covers down and carefully slipped under them, moving slowly so as not to awaken her. He turned so that he faced her, and curled his body closer to hers as she slept. A soft moan escaped her lips as his arm slipped around her waist and he held still as she shifted and sighed in her sleep. In the near darkness, he saw her eyes open and focus on him.
He held still, hoping that she would simply close her eyes and drift back to sleep. Instead she gave him a drowsy smile as she stretched next to him. He reached out and stroked her hair as she sat up and made a motion for him to roll over on to his back. He obliged her and she lay back down, resting her head on his chest as his arms came around her.
“What are you doing awake?” she murmured sleepily. “You fell asleep right after we came to bed.”
“I..” he started, then paused, uncertain exactly what to say. He did not want to tell her that he had had another dream. He knew that she was already worried enough about him, but when the dreams began, she had refused to let him sleep alone, as though she could keep them at bay with her mere presence. It touched him in ways he could not properly express that she would do this for him. He swallowed and took a deep breath.
“I believe that I am beginning to process… grief,” he said softly, with as little inflection as possible. The words had been hard to say, but she deserved no less than honesty.
He watched as she pulled away from him slightly, moving out of his loose embrace and moving so that they were face to face.
“Tell me,” she said, her hand moving to caress the side of his face, so very like the way his mother had in his dream.
“I dreamed that I said goodbye to my mother,” he said as he looked away, his voice almost holding together. “It was… a very emotionally compromising experience.”
He looked back at her, seeing only love and concern in her eyes. There was no judgement for his failings, for his inability to hold up to the Vulcan ideal. She stroked his cheek again and he leaned into it, grateful for the contact with her. He realized that without her he would be utterly lost. There would have been no one there to help see him through this, and that it most likely would have destroyed him.
“I’m sorry,” she replied as she leaned down to place feather soft kisses on his cheek. “Do you want to tell me more about it?”
He turned his head so that her lips brushed against his. “No,” he murmured, feeling suddenly weary, “not right now. Perhaps in the morning.”
“Okay,” she said as she moved to kiss his other cheek. He knew that she would accept that for now, but in the morning she would ask him again, and this time he would tell her.
“You look tired,” she said softly.
“Then come here and sleep,” she said as she moved on the bed, lying down next to him and pulling him into her arms. He sighed as his head came to rest on her shoulder and he curled his body around hers. He let himself relax as her hands skimmed over his hair, listening to the beat of her heart. His last conscious thought was that he needed to find a way to tell Nyota his feelings for her, no matter the difficulty, because he could not bear to let the woman he loved slip away without telling her how he felt.