Title: Stirring in the Dark
Fandom: Star Trek TOS
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Drabble that defies description. Somewhat angsty.
What do you do when you’re gone? When life as you know it is over and you are but a memory of a man in those who knew you best—loved you best? Leonard isn’t sure if he can let go, though it’s the time for letting go. His body is cold and empty, and he has breached that point of no return.
Why should it hurt this much, to be dead? What makes a heart—of now congealing blood—feel pain when the body no longer functions?
It’s not his heart, then, he decides. It’s his spirit. His soul calls, cries, because he is lost. Separated from Jim, who is somewhere Bones used to be, rests his head on a still chest and weeps the broken pieces of his heart onto a thin white sheet over a naked body. Separated from Spock, who stands alone in his quarters—head bowed—and complacent to anguish as fragments of a torn bond scramble all thought in his head.
Len wants to go back. Please let me go back! he begs. It’s not the dark void that his spirit wakes into, with minute connections to lingering bodily sensation; no, not that looming void like space empty of stars (so frightening to Leonard, a nightmare). No, Leonard wants to return for those who need comfort: the red-eyed nurses; the silent ensigns walking the corridors without direction; the Bridge where no one talks of life; to the now-seated Vulcan who feels broken and aimlessly floating; to Jim, most of all, who holds a hard knot of blame inside (Len can see it, how strange—it’s pulsing red) that will drive the Captain to his own point of no return.
How he knows this, when he is but an essence, he is unsure; but he does, and it will come to pass.
Leonard feels it then, something so searing-ly terrifying, he cringes when he shouldn’t be able to cringe. There is a stirring of a presence in the Dark… but it’s cold, ancient, and Leonard’s soul balks at the wave of sheer wrongness. It’s a Thing that recognizes this part of Leonard McCoy adrift in a sea of Nothing.
A Thing that wakes and waits.
Let me go back! His plea has a new urgency.
Please let me go back! Can the call be heard after death?
Leonard quivers and sends out the two names he yearns for most: Spock! Jim!
Jim is still crying onto his dead body—cannot be removed from the morgue, and Spock is fairly comatose with grief—without support, without help.
The tears start, then, one for each name rolling down a cheek, in hot paths. Jim! It’s a whimper of suffering.
Jimmy says, voice thick, Len’s name—Bones. Why won’t the man stop crying?
Then it’s Spock, shivering in a cold room (his quarters aren’t cold!) and when Len tries to break from his isolation to Spock, he is stopped by the stare of that Thing from the void that is now part of the shadows in the First Officer’s quarters. Leonard pulls back but tries with a name (that once-strange but now endearing name). Spock.
The Vulcan lifts his left hand, fingers splayed out to seek touch and replies softly, “Leonard.” Len feels the heat pouring off the Vulcan even without his body. So hot.
He moans. Not just hot, but dry hot. Parching like under a desert sun.
His tongue is thick and swollen from lack of hydration.
And his spirit… His spirit?
The Thing shifts in the Dark as the word “McCoy” comes to him in a hazy drift. It says, this Thing, “McCoy, open your eyes.”
A soul has no eyes/the eyes are the window to the soul/where are my eyes? Each thought jumbles on top of the other until Len cannot tell them apart.
No. There is only the void of Nothing and this Thing which haunts him as he is forced to leave Jim, Spock, and the world.
“Bones, wake up.”
Has Jimmy stopped crying?
There is light pressure on his face, and a thought filters in like a streak of sunshine. Open your eyes. A second (different but mutually sweet) voiceless thought joins the first. Please, Bones. Open your eyes!
How can he open his eyes when there’s nothing but black and that Thing…
It’s the resounding unified call of his birthname that jerks him home: Leonard!
He opens his eyes—and the darkness (of dying alone) shatters into a million pieces of light. Through the light is Jim—no longer crying—and Spock, whole and not grief-stricken.
They are one on either side of him and waiting, though both are bleary and Len cannot focus his vision. A cold hand touches his face—a balm to the heat—and says “His fever is breaking.”
Fever. Oh, fever. Len’s eyes grow heavy, but he fights to keep them open (to the light). The dark is a cold place and nowhere he wants to return. There is a Thing haunting him…
What is it? What does it want?
Then he cannot fight anymore and falls away.
Later, when Leonard McCoy recuperates from a severe (almost fatal) illness, he thinks back to the nightmare of the Dark and what it means to lose his life all too soon to death. After on-and-off contemplation in the aftermath, that elusive, eerie Thing which waits, he suddenly knows, is regret. Up to this day, Leonard McCoy has never said “I love you” to either Jim or Spock—despite a long year of loving both. It is a regret to be reconciled; he does so immediately, repeatedly. (It might startle his lovers with its unexpected vocalization, but they smile and return the sentiment easily enough.)
It never comes back, the Thing, not even when—decades later—his body fails for the final time, cannot be brought back, and Leonard’s soul passes on.