Once Gone, Never Again



Title: Once Gone, Never Again
Author: klmeri
Pairing: Kirk/Spock/McCoy (established)
Disclaimer: Not my characters, only my plot bunnies.
Summary: The breaking of a trio. Major angst warning.

Bones is so preoccupied staunching a flowing wound on an ensign that he misses Jim’s sharp voice demanding “Where’s Spock?” As it is, his head feels unaccountably stuffy (there might be needles of pain) but he ignores it all and focuses on keeping this young woman from bleeding out all over the floor of the transporter room.

“Chapel!” McCoy barks. “Comm M’Benga—have him prep the OR.” They successfully roll the limp body onto the gurney.

McCoy quells the need to make a last visual sweep—to check on Jim and Spock—but every second counts with this life fading out from under his hands.

They dash off to Sickbay.

When Leonard is wearily peeling off his surgical gloves, he finally notices his migraine. A quick hypospray of pain killer barely alleviates the constant ache. He expects to find Jim waiting on news of his injured crew, but Christine says that the Captain has not been in Sickbay at all.

He comms the Bridge. No, the Captain is not here. The Captain is with Mr. Scott.

In the transporter room.

This is when alarm spreads through Leonard’s chest, because suddenly his mind echoes a cry of Spock quite loudly. Jim wouldn’t still be in the transporter room unless—

There is no more time for thought, as Leonard makes his second dash through the corridors of the Enterprise. (Only this time, he thinks he might be too late.)

The Captain meets his skidding entrance with a pale face. Bones manages “Jim?” before Kirk is striding over to take his arms and say fervently “We’ll get him back, Bones.”

And then he knows what’s wrong, what’s missing. Spock. McCoy’s brain feels like a shorted circuit because there is no Spock.

“He’s still on the planet?” Bones wants to know (hopefully).

The eyes staring into his are full of pain. “No. No, Bones, Spock transported with the team. He should have returned with us but—”

There is horror, now, sitting heavy in Leonard’s guts. Jim means they’ve lost Spock in mid-transport. Oh God. He clutches the arms of his Captain and does not know what to say.

Jim assures him. “Scotty and I will get him back. I promise.”

He can only nod.

It’s been four hours and thirty-seven minutes since they lost Spock.

“Captain, I’m sorry. There’s naught else I can do!”

“No, Mr. Scott, that’s not acceptable. There must be something we’re overlooking!”

“She was in working condition. I cannae—” Scotty’s voice breaks because he’s trying to say that he has found nothing wrong with the transporter. Spock should be here. Instead, he says “Aye, I’ll keep looking.”

Jim merely drops back to his knees in front of the disassembled panel of the transporter and picks up a tool. “We’ve got to figure this out, Scotty. I—we need Spock back.”

There is little more to be said.

It’s been eleven hours since they lost Spock.

Doctor McCoy refuses the Captain a fourth stimulant shot. “You need rest, Jim. You’ll kill yourself at this rate!”

“Not until we—”

“Damn it, Jim! Just stop for an hour, please.” Bones rubs his hand up and down Jim’s arm, leans in a little so that Jim cannot look away from the concern on Bones’ face. “You can’t help recover Spock if you can’t think, okay?” He adds softly, “You know what he’d say if he were here.”

Jim’s face scrunches up for a moment before his muscles relax in resignation. “One hour.”

“Three hours and I’ll wake you myself.”

The exhausted man looks like he might argue. He doesn’t, in the end. “You win, Bones.”

It’s been two days and sixteen hours since they lost Spock.

Starfleet wants to know why they are still orbiting the sixth planet of the Zeta-ell solar system. Starfleet demands that if they are having engine trouble that the Enterprise should plot a course—at least on impulse—for the nearest starbase for repairs. Or the starbase will send out an extra engineering crew, if needed.

Uhura conveniently experiences communication failure for the next week.

It’s been ten days since they lost Spock.

All crew members have re-prioritized their duties to aid in the retrieval of the First Officer; the visits to Sickbay now mostly include those collapsed from dehydration and fatigue. After a particularly long day of little success, Leonard and Jim finally manage to rest on their bed at the same time, on the same shortened shift. Jim lies stiffly, so Leonard throws his arm around Jim’s middle and buries his face against an arm.

He wants to say It’ll be okay, Jimmy but the words won’t leave his mouth.

McCoy wakes up five hours later to an empty bed.

It’s been twenty-eight days since they lost Spock.

Jim is eating with habit, without care. Bones sits down, no tray for himself. Kirk says, “I’ve received orders to move on to the next mission.”

Bones’ heart thumps hard. “I thought the Enterprise was immobile for at least another week.”

There is a blank look in the Captain’s eyes. “The Enterprise is fit for duty.”

The doctor is silent for a minute. Then he offers, “We’re all depleted. I could push for leave for the crew. We can take that where we please.”

Jim places a hand on his arm in thanks and departs the mess hall.

Shore leave only buys them two more weeks.

It’s been forty-two days since they lost Spock.

Starfleet Command learns of where they spend shore leave too little too late, but they immediately redirect a vessel in the sector for investigation. Captain Kirk—and the rest of his crew—face a hoard of questions with red-rimmed, exhausted eyes and slack (hopeless) expressions.

The Enterprise is escorted from the solar system at once.

It’s been sixty days since they lost Spock.

The Enterprise has a rendezvous with the Gallagher to pick up their new First Officer. She is welcomed aboard with quiet hello’s and downcast eyes.

Bones does not greet her at all, merely requests that she sign up for her first physical as soon as possible.

It’s been eighty-three days since they lost Spock.

Spock’s side of the bed is no longer cold. Jim sleeps curled up there with his back to Leonard. Leonard remains on the left side. They disrobe, lay down for rest, and let the middle gape wide. (No touch can breach it.)

Then they rise on time and return to duty. The cycle repeats.

It’s been one hundred and thirty-one days since they lost Spock.

When Jim returns from the latest mission in respiratory distress, Leonard feels the icy band in his chest, one that has muted his world for far too long, snap in two.

He patches up his lover—his Jim—and settles in with growing rage to await the Captain’s return to the world.

(When they last made love, he hardly recalls… with Spock, and that shuts his thinking down.)

“—you God-damned reckless fool!” McCoy has been on this tirade for a very long time and Jim has not flinched once. Even as the doctor flags in his energy to spout venom, Jim never stirs—remains still like the dead. Just stares at McCoy’s pacing and flailing.

When Leonard pants, head down (and not trembling, he swears), Jim simply says “Are you done?”

We both are, aren’t we? That’s too sad of a thought for Len to pursue.

It’s been one hundred and eighty-nine days since they lost Spock.

Leonard packs up his belongings as soon as he finds his request of transfer signed on his desk. McCoy wants Jim to speak to him about Spock—the third part they’re both missing. (“Damn you, Jim, you’re not in this alone! Help me, help us.”) The form was a threat, a way to get Jim to confront him, but somehow Leonard has severely miscalculated. Or Jim has changed.

Now he realizes that he cannot heal either of them of such a grievous wound of the heart.

A healer who cannot heal.

There are tears dripping onto the backs of his hands as he shoves uniforms into a bag. This is the first time he has cried. He does so for himself, for Jim, and most of all, for Spock.

It’s been two hundred and fifty days since they lost Spock.

Leonard rocks quietly in an old wooden chair (McCoy-fashioned, ancient) on a shady porch in Georgia. In his hands rests a letter complete with the Starfleet crest and Uhura’s signature. She took the time to write him about Jim and his last few moments.

It was quick, she explained. I don’t think he suffered, Len.

Doctor McCoy knows well that a full-on phaser blast to the chest causes suffering. He also knows that Jim has been in pain long before he walked into a docking bar full of Klingons and only two red-shirts for backup. (Must have been mercy after all.)

The letter slides from his grip. It’s gone in the blink of an eye, as the wind comes tearing through. He’s not sad to see it go.

It’s been one year since they lost Spock. Today, Leonard accepts that neither of his lovers is coming back.


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About KLMeri

Owner of SpaceTrio. Co-mod of McSpirk Holiday Fest. Fanfiction author of stories about Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.


  1. romennim

    Oh. God. No words can tell how heart-breaking that was. It was beautiful. And the fact that I read it even if I knew about the angst – I can’t stand sad endings – shows how much I adore you and your writing :)

  2. lilbatfacedgirl

    Oh my God! You just stomped on my heart and kicked it (beautifully) to pieces. I demand now that you run off and write something happy, fluffy, and schoompy about them frolicking in a field of butterflies. I absolutely loved the motif of this, the endless count. It was just so sterile, and undeniable, and painful.

    • writer_klmeri

      Thank you. I suppose I was intentionally stomping on readers’ hearts. >_< The counting is an acknowledgement of a bereavement process--when one generally marks the passage of time with reference to the tragedy. It is undeniable, absolutely; you never forget that life continues (painfully) on.

  3. dark_kaomi

    Okay so I had to wait until I was no longer angry before I could write a reply (You killed him. You killed them. How could you?). This, was amazing. My heart was crying the entire time, begging for Spock to come back, to fix this. A tinny tiny part of me is glad that he didn’t because this kind of story? Rarely ever written. And you did it so well. Honestly, you’re amazing at serving me my own heart on a silver platter.

    • writer_klmeri

      Unfortunately, I remember a time when a majority of my endings were sad and painful; nowadays, not so much. … There’s even humor. <--mind-boggling for me, I swear. It's one thing to create drama and angst--and end with a comfortable resolution. To continue to drive the nail in the coffin, so to speak, until you've wedged these men apart for good... I'm amazed at my guts too. Especially in the face of such loyal (dangerous) fans! As a consolation to your misery, I started the sequel to The Right-Hand Man. It will involve a small adventure and lots of K/S/M/-heart-warming goodness. Can you forgive me now?

  4. stillwaters1

    And you were upset with *my* recent story? You left poor Bones all alone! :) Beautiful use of repetition and the grief cycle. My heart was aching for Bones at the end.

  5. gsyh

    Doctor McCoy knows well that a full-on phaser blast to the chest causes suffering. White lies doesn’t work on doctors. Well, when Len finally signs off, Spcok and Kirk can welcome him with a ghostly gang bang.

    • writer_klmeri

      LOL. I see you’ve discovered my ST fiction. Be warned – there is sap and action abound. The mirrorverse I mentioned is called Winner Takes All.

  6. evilgiraff

    This story is a perfect example of why I love to read angst. Although “angst” doesn’t even begin to cover it. “Tragedy” is more appropriate, as is “horrifying”. A fabulously grim, wide-eyed and terrible little tale, this. Thank you.

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