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Spock paced his quarters. The 11 months following the end of the Enterprise's last mission had been difficult for him. The years he'd spent aboard her had changed him profoundly, the last five under Kirk's command particularly. His friend Jim Kirk had been able to draw reserves out of him he hadn't known he'd possessed.

No one before him had been so completely accepting of who he was both inside and out. There had been others after, of course. McCoy with his ascerbic remarks and often pointed barbs, accepted him, 'flaws and all' as he would say. Then in the last days aboard the Enterprise Christine had come within the circle of those he called friend. That was the only place he had truly felt at home and at peace with himself. After they had stood down the Enterprise for refit, everyone on board had been given shore leave. Many groups had stayed together for that. Of course, he, Captain Kirk, and DR McCoy had spent the time together. They usually did when they all managed to get shore leave at the same time.

It was after that, the hard part came. Starfleet had decided to send them to far different posts. The captain remained on Earth, promoted to Admiral. The doctor had been sent out on the Corleone. They had needed a replacement for the CMO who was on an extended leave of absence. He had been posted to this research station. While the work here was quite fascinating, something was missing.

Sometimes it gnawed at him deep in the night. Of course meditation made it recede, but he was always aware of it to one degree or another. Logically, he should be satisfied with where he was and what he was doing. However, he couldn't seem to use logic to bring himself to that state.

It had all come to a head four weeks ago. He'd taken his first leave and used it to visit the admiral and Christine. He'd gone to see Jim first and had been surprised to see him so markedly aged in so short a time. That he was dissatisfied with his assignment was obvious. Kirk had looked at him with haunted eyes and informed him that command intended to keep him grounded as an admiral. They had no intention of giving him back his command. It had affected him just as much. He had to fight to control the pain that blossomed in his chest.

It was only then he'd fully realized just how much he'd been simply marking time until they were all brought back together on board the ship they had served so long. The missing piece fell into place. Now all he had to do was discover a way to work it into his suddenly altered circumstances.

Spock stopped pacing and sat down to meditate. This useless circle of thinking was getting him nowhere.

Next he'd visited Christine. They spent several enjoyable evenings with her as tour guide. Of course, with her heavy study load she did not have a lot of free time, but what time she did have they spent together. He'd come to Earth with the intention of initiating the betrothal bonding, and this visit had proven to both of them that they were compatible outside of the closed environment of ship life.

But something held him back. There had been several prime opportunities to ask if she was willing, but he hadn't been able to ask it of her. Ultimately his leave had ended without him saying word one about it.

Here, back on board the research station, he was still trying to puzzle out why he hadn't taken the next step. It was the logical one at this point in their relationship, so what stopped him?

Methodically Spock examined what he was experiencing and why. It was a difficult process as he didn't often examine the emotional aspects of himself. Usually he simply suppressed them. That's what Vulcans did. However this time, it refused to stay completely suppressed. He knew no one here could discern that he was...conflicted, but if he didn't sort this out he was also reasonably certain that eventually it would begin to affect his work. That was something he could not allow to even the smallest degree.

Two hours later the only solution he could come up with was resuming frequent contact with those he...missed. However that was not a viable option at the moment. Being posted at such great distance from one another would make that nearly impossible. Spock rose, unable to resolve the situation to his satisfaction. Perhaps time would be the answer. DR McCoy was fond of saying that time heals all.

TIME. He froze half way to the door. Humans did not have as much time as Vulcans. If simple absence affected him thusly, how would their eventual deaths? A tight, very physical pain constricted his chest. He gasped at its unexpected intensity, very glad his was alone. He shuddered before he could stop himself and wrestle the feeling under control. This would never do.

He did not truly understand its source. He'd always known, barring an unforeseen accident, they would die before him. Why would it suddenly affect him now? He was pulled from his contemplation as his comsystem beeped behind him. He turned, and answered the hail, now completely back under control. It was a prerecorded message from Admiral Kirk. "Computer play message."

"Spock, I thought you'd like to be informed immediately that the Acolyte that attacked you and Miss Chapel has been apprehended." Spock watched as Kirk hesitated. It was obvious he was unsure whether or not he wished to continue. "Christine's roommate walked in as he was attacking her and called campus security immediately. Christine was rushed to Emergency and was treated for her wounds. She's in Base Sickbay now and is expected to make a full recovery. I have to go now, but please let me know how you're doing."

Spock continued staring at the screen long after it went blank. Once again the assailant who wanted revenge on him had taken a secondary route and that route had been Christine. He controlled then picked apart the various emotions this evoked. Relief, that she would recover, that he had been apprehended: horror at what had almost happened: and guilt, this happened because of him.

He could not do this. He was Vulcan. He should not be feeling these things. He rose unsteadily, took a deep calming breath and returned to his meditation. His meal could wait.

Some time later he roused from his meditation, mildly surprised he didn't know exactly how long he'd been under. He rose and checked the chronometer. Four point three hours had passed. He suspected he was losing himself. He was no longer grounded as he had once been. He had always...prided himself on his ability to adjust to any situation with quiet Vulcan dignity and reserve. But this, lack of control; this need for others to complete himself, scared him.

There was only one thing he could do. It would be best for all concerned. He would regain that part of himself, he had lost and they would understand, in time, why he needed this. The decision made, he set the wheels of bureaucracy in motion. First he sent off his official resignation, effective immediately. He intended to turn control of the project over to Commander Harken. The man was adequate to the task.

He then made arrangements to travel out on the supply ship due in later today. That accomplished, he wrote two personal letters, one to Jim Kirk and one to Leonard McCoy. He paused then. He really should contact Christine personally. He should inform her of his decision in person. He owed her that much.Two hours later he was standing in Commander Harken's quarters.

"You're resigning? Why?"

Spock merely lifted an eyebrow at the question. "It is personal. My reasons are my own.""Certainly, sorry I didn't mean to pry."

"I will be leaving on today's supply ship." Spock handed the commander several computer chips. "Here is my written resignation and all my notes regarding this project. I'm sure you'll find them all in order."

Harken reached out and took them. "I'm sure I will. We will miss your abilities and your insight."

He was well on his way to Vulcan, having transferred to a vessel headed that direction, before transmitting three messages. Two addressed to Earth and one to the Starship Corleone. He would be within the walls of Gol, before any of these arrived. Not once did he stop long enough to think about the decision he'd made.


Kiristeen ke Alaya

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