Intermission 8: Must I Leave Thee?
Disclaimer: Yep, Paramount is God. God does not own everything, including the original content of this story.
Summary: The transporter room scene from "This Side of Paradise," where Spock is saying goodbye to Leila
Rating: PG for angst, TOS, S, f,
"Must I leave thee, Paradise?"
---John Milton, Paradise Lost
I am almost finished with the subsonic transmitter when the incoming hail sounds. "Enterprise, Spock here," I say. I do not need to ask who it is. It is well past the time I said I would return and Leila must surely be worried.
Her voice, soft and feminine, drifts over the speakers. "It's Leila. I borrowed the doctor's communicator. I was worried something might have happened to you."
I breathe out once. "You are all right, aren't you?" she continues.
"Yes, yes, I'm…quite well." It is not the first lie I have told her. But that is her strength: to expect, in spite of all that passed between us six years ago, that I would be honest with her now.
"Can I come aboard?" she asks then. "I've never seen a starship before. I want to talk to you."
I have known, from the moment the spores left, that she would want this. Leila wants to talk to me about the life we were to share on the doomed planet below us, the life I led her to think we would share. And now I have to see her, to tell her that I am no more free now than I was six years ago. "Are you still at the beam-down point?" I ask. "And is the doctor there?"
I can almost see the slight smile on her face. "Yes, to both questions."
"Give your communicator to Doctor McCoy," I tell her. "You won't need it to beam up. It'll take a few moments, just wait there."
I close the channel. Jim comes up beside me. "Mr Spock," he says, "Miss Kalomi is strictly your concern, but should you talk to her while she's under the influence of the spores?" There is a slight hesitancy to his words, and a gentleness. My captain, my friend, is concerned for me.
I nod slightly. "I'll be back shortly, Captain." A look passes between us, and I know he sees the emotions I will not speak of openly, the sadness and the regret that I have once again hurt her. Six years ago on Earth, I told her I was not free. That the answer has not changed does not make this any easier. In fact, the situation is far more difficult. Six years ago, I had not encouraged her hopes, as I have done only recently.
In the transporter room, I beam her up. She smiles at me, and I feel a strange heaviness in the pit of my stomach.
Once again, I have wronged her.
Spock stands there, so still and unmoving, almost like a Vulcan statue. I think he must be playing, acting serious when all he really wants to do is smile. I used to sense that about him when we were on Earth together, that there was a part of him that only wanted to smile and laugh. Well, let's see about that. I wrap my arms around him, and then I know. Something has gone terribly wrong.
"You're no longer with us, are you?" I ask. I step back to stare into his face,
serious and yet not entirely emotionless. "I felt something was wrong."
"It was necessary."
"Come back to the planet with me," I plead. "You can belong again." His expression doesn't move at all. "Come back with me, please."
He shakes his head, and I see something in his eyes. Regret, sadness, some other Vulcan emotion that I don't understand? "I can't," he says simply.
It's the look in his eyes that undoes me, as it did six years ago. I turn away, I won't shame him with my human tears. "I love you," I say. "I said that six years ago and I can't seem to stop repeating myself." The tears are bitter, but I swallow them. It's all I will ever have of him. "On Earth, you couldn't give anything of yourself, couldn't even put your arms around me. We couldn't have anything together there, we couldn't have anything together any place else." I spin around, seeking what, I don't know. "But we're happy here. I can't lose you now, I can't."
But I have already lost him. The tears, thick in my throat, and the sadness in his eyes, are proof of that. "I have a responsibility," he says, with a gentleness I've never heard from him, "to this ship, to that man on the bridge. Spock swallows, the one tell-tale sign of his emotions. I saw him do it on Earth a few times when he felt something his Vulcan training told him he shouldn't feel. "I am what I am, Leila, and if there are self-made purgatories, we all have to live in them. Mine can be no worse than someone else's."
"I have lost you, haven't I?" I ask, though it's perfectly obvious. There's something else, the euphoria, the happiness I felt when the spores touched my mind, is gone. "Not only you, I've lost all of it. The spores, I've lost them too."
Spock nods slightly. "The captain discovered that strong emotions, needs, destroy the spore influence."
I look up to meet his eyes. The pain of losing him again to his duty and the ties that bind him hits me full force. "And this is for my good?" His eyes are haunted, and terribly alone. "Do you mind if I say I still love you?"
He doesn’t answer, though I can tell he'd like to. What proper Vulcan answer can there be for what I've told him? I hug him, and I know it's the last time I will ever do that. The walls between us will go up again as they did six years ago. All at once, something I never asked him crosses my mind. It's my last chance to know anything more about this man I have loved and lost. "You never told me if you had another name."
There is a look of such compassion, a gentling of his face, that I almost cry again. One hand brushes the tears from my cheek. "You couldn't pronounce it."
It's the sum of things unknown between us, that statement. There won't be another chance for us now. I don't look back as I return to the colony to prepare for evacuation.
I return to my cabin after we leave orbit. There is not, in truth, much else that can be done. The cargo holds are full of the colonists' belongings and equipment, and the colonists themselves are either resting or being treated for the injuries incurred by the numerous altercations from the subsonic transmitter.
I could seek out Leila; it would be easy to find her location among the colonists. But I do not. It would be a great wrong to find her now, a wrong greater than what I have already done to her. Instead of doing any of these things, I prepare for meditation. I am somehow not surprised when the door buzzes. "Come," I say.
I am equally not surprised to find it's Jim who stands there. "How are you doing?" he asks.
There are any number of responses I could make to that so-human question. Almost none of them would be accurate. The only words I can say are what is honest. "Unsettled. And you?"
Jim shrugs. "The same. A natural reaction, I'd say."
I raise one eyebrow. It is still difficult for me to conceive that any emotional reaction is natural, but I also have to concede the truth of what he says. He continues, "Did you mean what you said on the bridge?"
For the first time in my life, I was happy. "As I understood the emotion, yes."
Jim smiles then. It's not the professional captain's smile, but another one I have seen, one that he uses when bantering with the doctor or myself. "You know," he says, "when I was a child, I used to think if I could get out into space, I'd be happy. Then later, it was the thought of graduating from Starfleet Academy. Then it was commanding a ship. And finally, it was commanding the Enterprise." He folds his arms. "And I almost left her today for another type of happiness."
It occurs to me that we are much alike in this. I could not stay with the happiness I thought I had found, and he could not leave his. "Yet you stayed."
One hand rests on my shoulder. Not long, but enough for me to feel the reassurance there. "So did you. The point is, Spock, is that it's the journey that's important, not the destination."
After he leaves, I consider his words. Though Leila and I are on separate journeys now, it is perhaps better that way. It could not have been otherwise.
As I close my eyes for meditation, my eyes rest on the bell banner.