I was shaken awake, not very gently. I blinked rapidly at my aggressor. A shuttle crewman who now gazed at me rather sheepishly.
“Sorry, Admiral. But we’ve reached our destination.”
I blinked again and shook my head to get my bearings. “New Vulcan?”
“Didn’t we just leave?”
But of course he gave me a sympathetic look. One of those ‘poor old people’ looks.
“No, sir. You fell asleep shortly after take-off. If you need a wheelchair or other assistance disembarking, I’ll-”
“Forget it. I don’t need help,” I snapped at him.
“Sorry, sir.” And he moved off.
I supposed I should feel bad for snapping at him. But, hell, I wasn’t that old. Or was I?
My bones and limbs told me otherwise as I stiffly struggled out of the seat. I had to hold onto a bar as I did so and my muscles cried out in protest. I winced at the pain and took several deep breaths before I could will myself to move toward the exit.
Everyone else seemed to have departed already, judging by the crew members hovering by the door, both the one who had awakened me and a female wearing an ensign uniform.
“Business or pleasure, Admiral?” she asked politely. There was something about the ears, slightly pointed, and the eyebrows. I suspected she had some Vulcan in her, though I did not know her.
“Not pleasure,” I replied. “Nor business. A death. I’m here for a funeral.”
“I’m sorry, sir.” She hesitated. “Ambassador Sarek’s?”
“Yes.” I searched her face once more but no, I could not place it. Her. Where she came from. “Thanks for the smooth ride.”
I made my way down the ramp, slower than I used to be able to do, but I didn’t need to stop to rest on the way, so I considered that a win. I was in pretty good shape, really. But all those old injuries Bones healed had a way of creeping up on you eventually. They’d crept up on me anyway.
A young Vulcan male stood to the side and when I reached the end of the ramp, he approached me. “Admiral Kirk.” He made it a statement rather than a question.
“I am Saulvek, son of Spock.”
I nodded. “Sarek was your grandfather. I grieve with thee.” I remembered him as a boy, small, and intense, even then.
“I have been asked to escort you to accommodations, sir.”
He looked a little like Spock but also like Spock’s wife, T’Lure, the Vulcan female he had bonded with after our second five year mission. Saulvek had been the result of their union. I had been at their bonding ceremony together with Bones, Scotty, Uhura, and Sulu. Scotty and Uhura would marry shortly after that.
During that five year mission, Spock and Uhura had ended their romantic relationship for good and then later, Spock had arranged, through his father, the bond with T’Lure so that he could finally help with the repopulation efforts of their species.
I had not seen Spock for a number of years. Not since T’Lure’s funeral ten years earlier. Then was when I’d last seen Spock’s son, too.
Saulvek reached out a hand as though to help me but I batted him away. “I am capable of walking.”
“I thought only of the excessive heat.”
“Lead the way.”
It was strange being back here. The old hollow pain in my chest was almost immediate when I stepped off the shuttle. Or perhaps it had started when I got the missive about Sarek.
We went down several roads and pathways before he finally stopped in front of a modest dwelling. I recognized it. Spock had been living there for quite a while.
“How old are you now, Saulvek?”
God, I could barely remember that age. That boy I was.
Saulvek opened the door with a wave of his hand and gestured for me to go inside. It was much cooler inside though still significantly warmer than I was used to back home.
“Sa-mekh?” he called. “Admiral Kirk is here.”
I braced myself for the sight of the man, the Vulcan, I had loved almost my whole life, and never had. Loving someone who did not love you back was the worst torture.
Spock appeared only a moment later, dressed in the traditional Vulcan robes he always wore now, I supposed. His glance rested on me for only a moment before he turned to his son.
“Thank you, I will see you later.”
Saulvek bowed, taking this as his dismissal, and he turned and went out the door again to the outside.
For a moment we merely stared at each other. I broke first.
“I grieve with thee.”
He nodded. “That is appreciated. I have your room ready here, if you’d like to come with your bag.”
I made my way across the floor to where he stood. Or I almost did. My knee decided to be a bitch and give out just as I reached him.
“Oomph.” I crashed right into Spock, who, as usual was steady and prevented me from going down. I breathed out and winced at the pain.
“Are you all right?”
“Obviously not.” I reached down and rubbed the offending knee. “God, that hurt.”
He hesitated. Still held on to me too. “What is the nature of the ailment?”
“Old injuries from when were young. Arthritis.” For some reason, I felt myself flushing at the admitted weakness. It got worse when I sat for a long time, as I had on the shuttle.
“I will help you.” He did, too, refusing to let go of my arm as he led me down a short hallway to a room.
“You know, I really didn’t expect you to put me up at your house. A hotel would have been fine.”
“To have you stay at a hotel would have been scandalous. My father would have felt the same.” He picked up my bag and brought it to the bed. “There is an attached bathroom, as well.”
He hesitated in the doorway rather than leaving right away.
“Was there something else?”
“You-you look well.”
I shrugged. “Khan’s blood. Made the aging process slow down a bit. Except for these damn aches and pains, anyway.” I smiled. “And tell that to the shuttle crew.”
“The shuttle crew?”
“I think they thought I was an octogenarian or something.” I paused, looking him over. Though he was older than me by a few years, at this point he looked younger. Damn Vulcans. Handsome and fit. Hair without even a little gray, unlike mine. I wasn’t fully gray, no, but it was there. I felt like an old fool compared to Spock. In my early sixties or not. “You look amazing.”
At that he inclined his head. “When you are settled, come out for refreshments.”
As soon as he left, I sagged down upon the bed, exhausted. I didn’t travel all that way these days. The doctors assured me I was quite healthy and for the most part I did feel that way. I had injections for the arthritis pain but I resisted using them whenever I could. I didn’t want to become reliant on them.
On the other hand I didn’t want to appear feeble in front of Spock. I dug into my bag and pulled out one of the injection shots.
I smiled faintly as I thought of Bones saying, “Don’t be such an infant.”
I readied the injection, lowered my pants and pressed it into my thigh. It fucking hurt, no doubt about it, but it would be a brief pain whereas I would get relief from rest. Soon enough anyway. I refastened my pants, discarded the shot and moved about the room putting my things away. Spock had made this room cooler than the rest of the house and I appreciated that.
I wouldn’t be there long. Only a few days. But I hated living out of a suitcase. I’d done enough of that over the last few years.
Finished unpacking, I decided it was time to face Spock and his idea of refreshments.