In the Course of Time
Summary: When the timeline is touched again, Spock must see someone die again who did not die so soon before. Introspection, based on 'Yesteryear'.
Originally posted on fanfiction.net
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
"This did not happen before. My life decision was made without the sacrifice of yours, old friend. I know there is pain. I can help a little." He gently applied the necessary pressure to the juncture of I-Chaya's neck. "Sleep now."
As a boy, Spock had snuck out to face the desert alone a month before his kahs-wan and his distant cousin Selek had saved him from the la-matya. But taking Selek's role to restore his own place in time, Spock had followed too late. I-Chaya had faced the predator first and now lay dying as Spock's younger self raced across the desert to find a healer.
Although injured, the sehlat was at ease with the adult Spock, having recognized him by his scent. Unlike other Vulcans, this supposedly less intelligent creature had not used 'logic' to brush that recognition aside as a striking family resemblance.
Spock continued to stroke the sehlat, long gone in his present just as Vulcan itself was gone. Since returning through the Guardian of Forever to preserve his younger self, every detail of the lost world that had been his home had pulled at Spock, threatening to overwhelm his hard-won control. Yet the fading of this one life somehow struck harder than the rest, even more than seeing his mother again, young and alive.
He considered his old friend. I-Chaya had been his one true childhood friend, the one being in whom he could confide without risk of judgment or causing offense. More than that; when nearly every other Vulcan refused to recognize him as a true Vulcan, this almost iconically Vulcan creature had accepted him without reservation. Indeed, the sehlat had left his father's side and become so attached to Spock that his mother had joked about him being his 'teddy bear'. But young Spock had not dragged I-Chaya with him like the stuffed comfort object of a human child. I-Chaya had chosen to follow him - a devotion that might now cost his life years ahead of when it should have ended.
At this point in time, I-Chaya was already beyond his prime, but Spock's last memories of him were of a sehlat so far advanced in years that his senses were failing, his limbs stiff and slow. Still, he had lain on the hot stones of the patio, an expression of content in every line when Spock returned from school and sat beside him to read. At the end, there had been seizures and he had lost the use of his hind legs which caused him great distress. There had been no logical (or compassionate) choice but to call the healer to let him go.
There might now be no other choice. I-Chaya would be saved that long decline, but denied those afternoons in the sun. And Spock, who had found the loss hard to bear even as an adolescent with more firm control (and found it hard to contemplate even now as an adult), would face it as a child. He would have to find a way to provide his young self with the guidance he would need.
"It will not be long, old friend." Spock leaned against I-Chaya, feeling again the sehlat's solid warmth as he tried to meditate.
As the healer tended to I-Chaya, Spock drew his younger self aside. "You made the desert crossing most efficiently. You will not disappoint Sarek in your kahs-wan."
"I wanted only to help I-Chaya. He was my father's before he was mine. To lose him... "
Moisture glistened in the boy's eyes and Spock knew his discomfort would only be compounded by the shame of giving in to emotional display. "A Vulcan would face such a loss without tears."
"I try, but I am still so human." The boy looked away.
"There is some human blood in my family line as well. It is not fatal." Spock knelt down beside his younger self. "What you do not yet understand, Spock, is that Vulcans do not lack emotion. It is only that ours is controlled. Logic offers a serenity humans seldom experience in full. We have emotions but we deal with them and do not let them control us."
"How do I maintain control when my friend is dying in this way?"
"By understanding every life comes to an end when time demands it. Loss of life is to be mourned but only if the life was wasted. I-Chaya's was not." It was the answer his mother had given him when the time had come in what should be years hence.
"Spock." The healer beckoned. "It has been too long. No antidote known will save his life."
I-Chaya stirred and the boy gently placed a hand on his head. "Is there nothing you can do?"
"I can prolong his life, but he will be in pain," the healer responded simply. "Or I can release him from life. I will need your decision. He is your pet."
Spock watched as his younger self gathered his control. The sehlat seemed to ease as the child he had become attuned to calmed, giving his master one last gift: a way to the composure he needed to meet the healer's eyes. "Release him. It is fitting that he dies with peace and dignity."
When Spock stepped again through the mists of the Guardian of Forever, the Captain was waiting anxiously. "How did it go Spock?"
"One small thing was changed this time." Spock straightened, carefully suppressing the emotion that suddenly assailed him. "A pet died."
Jim's brow creased a moment in concern, but his own worry was so focused on Spock being restored in this time line that he mistook his friend's discomfort. "A pet? Well, that shouldn't mean much in the course of time."
Spock followed him quietly to the beam up site. "It might, to some."
AN: Based on the TAS episode 'Yesteryear' and written in loving memory of our 14-yr-old greyhound, Aster, who we finally had to put to sleep when there was no more we could do for her.