Reliquary: The Letters

by KayCee1951

Once, he had a most startling dream. She was trying to tell him something but he could not hear her…until there came a time when he began listening….

From a place and time far away, he felt a tug on his sleeve.

Earth

San Francisco

Friday, February 23, 2345…

1530 Hours

At the Federation Council Complex, the morning had been a constant stream of reviews and consultations in preparation for upcoming treaty negotiations between two minor planets vying for a place within the safety of the Federation. These days, the tensions between the Klingons and the Romulans made strange bedfellows. Systems that had remained staunchly against any association with what was considered Federation arrogance and interference were nowadays lining up to hitch their rigs to the Federation wagon train. The small systems in the sectors sandwiched between both Imperial domains occupied much of the time and energies of the council.

It was amidst the bureaucratic entanglements of the embassy office to which Spock was assigned that Admiral Leonard McCoy inserted himself. When Spock was given a message from the doctor to meet him for a drink, he immediately began to steel himself and briefly entertained the thought of begging off. He had been looking forward to a visit with his oldest living friend but had not intended that it be mid point in a particularly long and tedious day. The situation between them being what it was, he decided not to shun the invitation.

McCoy was waiting for him at a table well to the back of the bar. For a Human of 118, the doctor was in remarkably good condition. His habit of sinking deeper into that Georgia accent with each passing year was what made him seem ancient. The doctor excelled at being curmudgeonly, an admiral's rank affording him the excuse to be more so, and he visited it upon the Vulcan at every opportunity and with particular relish for the past twenty years.

Giving full attention to the amber colored drink on the table, McCoy looked up from the still-full glass only after Spock settled himself in the chair on the other side of the table.

"Spock. How's the red tape these days?"

"The status remains unchanged." Spock studied McCoy's face and understood the meeting was unlikely to be just a 'Hi! How are ya?' call.

"I'm sorry to call you away from your diplomatic duties Spock…but when I found out you planned on making a night of it at the office…and I have to leave on this damnable inspection tour in the morning…"

"No need to explain, Doctor." The waiter passed by, and noticing the new arrival at the table, asked for his drink order. "Altair water, please."

When the waiter left, Spock entwined the fingers of both hands and placed them ceremoniously on the table, waiting for McCoy.

The doctor peered at him without moving his head from its bent position over the drink glass. He took a sip and said, "I, um, have something that belongs to you."

With great deliberation, McCoy pulled a box from under his chair. Its surface was coated plainly with ruddy enamel and trimmed in brass. He placed it on the table, and pushed it gingerly toward his old friend as if not wanting to let it go.

Atop the box and bound to it with a shank of azure ribbon was a small card that read, "For Spock."

Tuesday, February 27, 2345...

2330 Hours

Nearly five days passed before Spock took the box back to his apartment. It had set on the credenza behind his desk long enough to become an object of curiosity to anyone who frequented the office. The definitely Earthly, deco art thing stood out among the spartan Vulcan relics.

Alone, in the darkened apartment, as an ancient melody he had selected softly filled the air around him, Spock watched through the window as the rain nearly obscured the view of San Francisco. He could see only the lights from other windows that seemed to flicker between the drops.

Taking the pin from the antique latch he lifted the lid, releasing a distinct odor of age from inside the trinket box where he found a variety of envelopes neatly stacked.

While the music found its way inside him, he turned over the envelope on top to find a broken seal of wax which had been embossed with a familiar symbol. Unfolding the pages within, he heard his mother's voice in the delicately hand scribed words:

{April 9, 2272

Dear Lauren,

I apologize for the time between our meeting and this letter. The life of an ambassador's wife is not always a tranquil one, especially when we are on Earth. It is a wonder I managed the trip to New Orleans with my cousin Sara at all. However, that is not an excuse.

That I have been remiss in thanking you for your hospitality during our visit is unforgivable. But now, the arrival of the rose bushes makes me even more remorseful that I have not responded to your kindness.

I have begun this letter many times. With each attempt I struggled with what to say and how to say it. I have finally decided just to say what is in my heart and hope it is enough…

When Sara and I planned our outing to your beautiful city, I had no intention of intruding upon your life. I 'am' writing a journal on derivations of the French language and thought it both logical and prudent when Sara suggested we make a trip to New Orleans to study the origins of Creole French. Oh, I know I could do that with the voluminous research compiled over several centuries. But nothing substantive has been added in the last hundred years or so; and I wanted to get a sense of how the language is viewed in the 23rd century…and Sara, the force of nature she is, had made arrangements before I could form second thoughts.

The plan was to spend three days talking to residents in the area whose family lineage dated back to the time when Creole French would have still been in use. On very short notice, a linguistics professor from Tulane assisted us in choosing the families we would visit and interview.

So we set off for New Orleans, with my husband's blessing. At the time, he and his staff were embroiled in diplomatic negotiations and not inclined to protest when Sara came to steal me away.

When I saw Ducheaux House on the list, I did not know who resided there until the day of our visit. I suppose I should have known.

I am grateful for your kindness and understanding. Your daughter is obviously a reflection of her mother's grace and dignity.

I am so sorry that I was the one who enlightened you about her emotional ties to my son. It was unintentional, for I assumed you knew. Poor Sara, she was taken quite by surprise, a thing not easily accomplished. But then, I should have remembered how carefully guarded Christine is on the subject. I fear the awareness of others causes her distress but she cannot shield it from me – I know both the joys and the burdens. When I saw her a few months ago at an official function, I knew her feelings for Spock had not diminished. If I could offer her solace, I would; I don't think anyone can.

We do not know what prompted Spock to decide the mastery of Kolinahr was the answer for him. I begged him not to go. His father was against it. I think Christine feels some responsibility. I don't pretend to know all that transpired between them during the time they served together on the Enterprise. Most of the mission is classified and the crew, being a very tight-knit family, would not share with outsiders. So, be patient with her.

It has been more than a year since he left; and I fear that when I see my son again, he will be drastically, and forever, changed. I believe Christine fears this as well. But she is true to what I saw in her that first time we met - strong, resilient, capable, and determined. She will survive, my dear; I think she will be the stronger for it.

Sarek and I return to Vulcan within the week. I always enjoy my time on Earth but miss my home and will be happy to return to my garden. The rose bushes you sent will be a beautiful addition to it. I will be happy to report to you on their progress. Although I am quite illogically proud of my own garden amid the arid landscape of Vulcan, it is dwarfed by the beauty adorning the grounds of your home. Along with the fascinating collection of Creole language volumes in your library, the peace and tranquility of your garden walk is something I will remember for a very long time.

I hope to be able to visit again, if the opportunity arises, the next time we travel to Earth.

With that, I thank you again and bid you 'adieu.'}

Little would have astounded the Vulcan in Spock more than the very personal nature of his mother's words to a stranger after an accidental meeting.

The letter was signed, 'With the hope of continued friendship, Amanda Grayson.'

McCoy had followed his presentation of the trinket box with a short tale of how he came to be in possession of it. "The Corp of Engineers has been working on Galadriel III..."

Spock studied the workmanship. The lid was inlaid with pink mother of pearl, faux jade, and abalone in an architectural design distinctive to early 20th century Earth. He had seen a similar box in the display window where he had purchased the rudimentary makings of a mnemonic memory circuit around the corner from the 21st Street Mission, in 1930's New York City.

"I am aware of the activity on Galadriel III."

"I know that, Spock," McCoy grumbled. "What you don't know and what I'm trying to tell you is – while they were working on what was left of the medical compound, they found Christine's foot locker under the rubble of what used to be her quarters."

On the surface, the relationship between Spock and McCoy would have appeared to be the same as always to the casual observer. McCoy's genuine agitation and the edge in his voice was evidence that things had not been right between them for a long time.

When McCoy was satisfied he had shut the Vulcan up, he continued. "She would have known she only had a short time…her affairs were in order, the locker was addressed to me…she didn't have time to take it with her when the relief team bugged out..."

There had been no logical reason for McCoy to elaborate on the seven days that followed the relief team's hasty retreat from Galadriel III…Christine's collapse into a coma and her death a few days later. But elaborate he did, and for the next five minutes.

Hoping to have elicited even a small measure of personal investiture from Spock, McCoy had left the bar sullen, disappointed, and wondering why he had expected anything more.

Gone was the Spock he knew, replaced by a Vulcan he wasn't certain he wanted to know. Believing he had no one to blame but himself, McCoy was not sure what else he could do.

The two following letters were tucked inside the pages of a small clothbound book; its binder was tattered at the spine and corners, the pages barely held together with glue that had not been manufactured on Earth for three centuries.

{April 11, 2272

Dearest Amanda,

You need not have been concerned about your visit, or the delay in writing the letter I received today.

Please do not chide yourself for telling me how Christine feels about your son. I was taken by surprise, as you say Sara was; but I have had time for reflection. I can't say that I understand it but, at least, now I know what Christine is 'not' saying. I suppose she didn't think I would have a proper frame of reference. Looking back, she may have been right. In the future I will know which subjects are the ones composed of eggshells.

Although I am not sure how in so short a time you were able to understand my daughter better than I did, you are right about her. When she went out into the blackness of space looking for Roger Korby, I cursed him. When she stayed on the Enterprise, I cursed the ship. I cursed the ship as I had cursed Roger because I thought they changed her, derailed her from the life she should have had.

I realize now that Christine simply grew up into a strong independent woman while I wasn't there. My husband has been trying to tell me that for a while now; and he was right. If he knew, he might never let me live it down.

The little volume of Creole proverbs accompanying this letter is a gift for you. If you remember, I had wanted to show it to you when you were here. I finally located it sandwiched between two larger books and wedged into the back of the bookcase. I must remember to dust there more often. You will find page 10 marked. When we were discussing the proverbs, I told you most of them don't make sense, but I think you will find this one does. You will know why when you read it. If the proverb is true, and I believe it is, your son must be someone very special, as I have finally realized Roger was special.

It is probably a good thing that parents do not choose their children's mates. I fear we would bollox the job.

I hope, with all my heart, your son returns to you. But you will have to forgive me if I hope that he does not return to my daughter's life.

Thank you for sharing with me. You will never know how much it has helped me become close to my daughter again. For that, I will be forever grateful. I too wish we could meet again.

Your new friend,

Lauren Ducheaux-Chapel

P.S. I would very much like to read the journal when it is complete. If there is anything else I can add, please don't hesitate to let me know. I will be happy to contribute what I can.

The proverb marked in the small book would have made little sense to the Spock of decades past. He had learned much in what was still the first third of his life – lost much and gained more in the losing.

How he did long to hear Amanda's voice again and tell her what he had learned.

{November 18, 2272

My Dear Lauren,

"Di moin qui vous laimein, ma di cous qui vous ye." Tell me whom you love, and I will tell you who you are.

Merci. Vousavezplus de compréhension quevousle savez,cher ami. Maintenantc'est moiquiserai éternellement reconnaissant.

The rose bushes are thriving. I have enclosed a chip with images of my garden, and the view from the veranda at sunset; so very different from Earth, it is still quite serene and beautiful.

You will also find in this package the first chapter of my journal. I have not completed the portion on the Creole language as yet, but will send that as soon as it is finished. I would be grateful for your opinion.

I am truly happy you have been able to come to terms with your daughter's choices. Heaven knows, I am still trying to come to terms with my son's.

I will be traveling with Sarek to a conference in two weeks; then we will be on Earth for a month. It will be Christmastime. I would love to see the foyer of Ducheaux House adorned the way you described it but our schedule is grueling and I will not be able to get away. I thought if you were going to be in San Francisco we might lunch, somewhere away from the official scene.

And yes, you are forgiven. I understand your wish to shield Christine. No matter their age or independent lives, we are still their mothers. I wish it was as simple as wishing. If it were, we would neither of us wonder about what might have been.

Amanda}

Spock remembered the roses – intense color and a light, memorable scent. In answer to his query about the new addition to her garden, his mother had replied, "Experimental – from a lovely garden I once visited on Earth."

The roses bloomed in the garden still, tended by the third wife of Sarek.

The next few days would be crucial in the affairs of the Federation Council. In spite of his ability to go days without sleep, his duties required him to be at peak performance.

However, he would make time for one more letter before retiring. Setting aside the book of Creole proverbs, he opened the next envelope.

{November 25, 2272

Amanda,

The first chapter of the journal is wonderful, very rich in the flavor of the French language. Your comparison to the romance languages of Rigelian and Midosian antiquity is one I had not considered. Bravo! I found myself wanting to learn more about the two languages that are so similar to French in many ways. Even in this, the 23rd century, I am astounded by the similarities in our cultures and those found on other worlds. I begin to understand the allure of galactic travel.

I think Christine misses that and the Enterprise. I don't know if it's the excitement, the camaraderie, or just being on a starship.

Patterson and I went to space dock to watch the ship come in almost two years ago now. The scars on her hull, the blast marks from God only knows what. I don't think I want to know the details. I know Christine received commendations and as much as I'm ashamed to say it, I'm afraid to ask how she earned them.

But she is a doctor now, settled in her residency. We have no idea what her plans are beyond that. We hope she does and that they include staying Earthbound for some time.

My teaching duties are calling me, so I will end this letter with a thank you for the first chapter of your journal. Teaching music and taking care of this wonderful old anachronism of a house doesn't make for a tranquil life either. But I would not trade my life for that of anyone else.

I look forward to lunch, Lauren}

Sunday, March 4, 2345...

0325 Hours

Four days passed before Spock was able to justify the appropriate amount of time to sit again in his chair by the window. The rain had stopped mid day on Thursday but the damp cold remained. Spock barely tolerated the cold but welcomed the rain.

The box sat on the table next to the chair, just as he had left it. He read the correspondence in succession, just as they had been arranged in the chest.

Over the years, Amanda wrote of her travels through the galaxy and of Vulcan philosophy. Lauren wrote of her family history and provided insight for Amanda's journal. Always, the letters made reference to a mutual interest in horticulture and on rare occasions, made mention of their children. Mixed here and there through the years, short notes enhanced the colors of the portrait of three women, who, on the surface, seemed to have a fragile commonality, but who met regularly for luncheon or coffee, whenever Amanda was on Earth.

Sara's notes, the fascinating Bohemian that she was, were rife with intrigue, cryptic notes with times and places on Earth – small villages, out of the way garden cafes.

Lauren's note to Amanda upon hearing of Spock's death read simply, 'I grieve with thee;' and, upon his rebirth, "I rejoice with thee.'

There were no notes or letters in the trinket box that corresponded with the date of Sara's death, leaving Spock to wonder about how the two remaining friends honored the one who was gone, something with which Spock was personally familiar.

Having formed a bond that transcended distance, culture, and logic over the remainder of a lifetime, his mother had another full, rich life, outside the sphere of being the wife of a Vulcan, outside of being his mother.

One envelope was left in the red box.

His mind knew exactly how long he'd been sitting there but he resisted the urge to calculate it precisely. Dawn would come soon enough and he did not want to mark the time before the spell would be broken and he would, yielding to logic and reality, return to the world beyond his memories.

Spock had hoped the last letter would have been from Amanda. But Christine, whose wisdom and insight he had come to respect and appreciate had left this one, out of chronological sequence, for him to read last – one letter from her mother to his.

{December 9, 2293

Amanda,

Much has happened since I saw you only two days ago when we shared the sadness of Jim Kirk's death. He was so prominent in both our children's lives – so important to them. The memorial was a fitting tribute to a life devoted to space exploration, to his crew, and to his ship.

I would not have understood it half so well had it not been for Christine's service and my friendship with you.

But I digress. First, I have to tell you that I have finally met Spock.

I can only imagine the shocked expression that must have been on my face when I opened the kitchen door and found your son standing on my back porch, my daughter at his side as if it was the most natural thing in the world. He looked so completely Vulcan out of uniform. I suppose that may have unnerved me more than finding him there.

True to his nature, Patterson took it all in stride and filled the vacuum left by my initial reaction – one of the many reasons I married him.

Spock was formal and all that I expected of a son of Sarek in his manner, in the preciseness and diplomacy of his words.

Just as I attempted to deliver the Vulcan greeting as you taught me, he extended his hand. As I took it, Amanda, I looked into his eyes and saw, not the son of Sarek, but my dearest friend looking back at me.

Lauren}

Thursday, April 27, 2345...

1410 Hours

When Spock met with McCoy after his return from the inspection tour nearly two months later, it was he who showed up at the doctor's door.

"Spock..?" McCoy's surprise at this unheralded visit was unmistakably etched in every wrinkle on his face, but he recovered enough to say, "Come in."

"Thank you, Leonard."

McCoy went rigid, reeling from the further shock at the Vulcan's use of his given name for only the third or fourth time in nearly eighty years. "How about a drink, and I don't mean Altair water. I brought back a case of Capellan liqueur…was just about to pour myself a snifter. It has to breathe, like brandy."

"I will have a small glass, thank you."

The Vulcan was full of surprises tonight. The doctor managed a broad grin until he noticed the object cradled under his Vulcan friend's arm. The grin disintegrated into a question mark.

Pouring the thick liquid into two glasses, McCoy's mood changed to the solemnity he read on Spock's face. For all his protestations about not understanding the pointy-eared hobgoblin, he understood Spock's facial expressions as clearly as he understood his own – sometimes better.

"So, Spock, what brings you here in the middle of a workday?" His eyes remained transfixed on the box as Spock pulled it from under his arm and presented it to him.

"I have something that belongs to you."

"Spock, I can't take this…she left it for you."

Without additional comment, Spock pushed the thing at McCoy.

Opening the box, McCoy stared at the object inside, seconds elapsing before he spoke.

"I gave this to her..." He cradled the ancient artifact, a sculptured representation of a caduceus, in his hand, rubbing across its distressed surface with his thumb. "It was the subject of some fierce debates…" His smile was one of fond remembrance.

"I know."

"Yes…of course you do…this was what was in the box?"

"Yes." Spock resisted making a point of McCoy's predilection for stating the obvious.

"Then she clearly meant it for you." With a measurable reluctance, he offered the artifact to Spock.

His hand raised to reject the offering, Spock softened his tone. "I have removed that which was left for me. What remains was meant for you."

"Why…why didn't she just leave it in the foot locker with my name on it?" he pondered, the question posed to himself as much as to the sober Vulcan standing in front of him.

"I know only that she wished it to be returned to you."

Turning away from his old sparring partner, McCoy walked to the window. Fixing his attention not on the view of the city but on the object he held in his hand, he reflected, "You think I'm angry with you for letting her go."

There was no response from Spock.

McCoy forged on, not wanting to let the opportunity to make amends pass again. "I was never angry with you…I've been angry with them, all of them – Jim for disappearing without a trace and not even a body to cry over, at Pavel for dying on my table…at Christine for being able to leave you to go traipsing off to Galadriel III even though she knew her time was running out…"

Spock was suddenly next to him at the window. Outside, it was raining again, the raindrops on the trans-alum panes making soft thumping sounds.

"A common Human ailment, Spock. Anger at the ones who left…left us alone to carry on. But more than anger at them, I've been mad at myself for not being able to save them." He wrapped his fingers around the caduceus and clutched it tightly in his fist.

"You had no means of saving them. Their lives…and their deaths were out of your control."

"I know. I know. But knowing and believing are two different animals…it's something I've never been able to shake. And, maybe I have been angry at you, all these years. You loved them all in your own Vulcan way…but you've found a way to go on without them."

"It is not the Vulcan way to mourn the dead unless the life was wa…"

"Damnit Spock! Forget the Vulcan way! What about your way? I've always been afraid to ask…because I can't even imagine she would have agreed…" McCoy looked into Spock's eyes, as if trying to locate his soul. "She is in there…somewhere…isn't she? You couldn't get to Jim or Pavel, but you were with her when she…when her body died."

His stare demanded a response but the Vulcan's silence was answer enough and provided the doctor a tenuous solace.

Staying just long enough to finish the drink McCoy had poured for him, Spock announced his intent to leave and turned to egress the apartment.

Before he reached the door, McCoy called out after him, "Thank you Spock, for bringing this to me. It means a lot."

Spock's simple nod in the affirmative was accompanied by an invitation to dinner on Tuesday.

"Sure, Spock, I'd like that."

And not to let the perfect opportunity go by to settle back into a familiar but not recently used repertoire, he added, "But don't think that when I am on my deathbed you can visit me. I've been inside your head, Spock, and it's not the place I intend to spend eternity."

With only the slightest hint of a clandestine smile, Spock replied, "Doctor, that chilling thought never entered my mind."

In another time and place….

Sector 3, Alpha Quadrant

Spock the Elder stood on a rocky hillside overlooking the construction of a new Vulcan home world when he felt a second tug on his sleeve. Looking up at him was the beaming bright smile of a Human child that had set him remembering.

When she tugged on his sleeve a third time, Spock the Elder gently asked, "Angelique, class has been dismissed; should you not be on your way home? Your parents will be concerned."

Angelique flashed him another innocent smile and, with a conspiratorial look, said, "Sir, we want to know more about Miri and the other children. What happened to them after the Enterprise left the planet?"

Looking over at the group of Vulcan children of varying ages he noted their unsuccessful attempts to appear disinterested.

Taking the child's hand, and heading down the hillside with the group of Vulcan boys and girls following closely behind, Spock the Elder told Angelique the rest of the story.

Once, he had a most disturbing dream. They were trying to tell him something but he could not hear them…until there came a time when he began listening.

He was listening still.

Third Place Winner – STARFLEET Writing Contest 2011