Title: The Dangling Conversation
Series: TOS, post-movies
Disclaimer: I own nothing but this story. The characters belong to Paramount/Viacom.
It's a still life water color,
Of a now late afternoon,
As the sun shines through the curtained lace
And shadows wash the room.
And we sit and drink our coffee
Couched in our indifference,
Like shells upon the shore
You can hear the ocean roar
In the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs,
The borders of our lives.
And you read your Emily Dickinson,
And I my Robert Frost,
And we note our place with bookmarkers
That measure what we've lost.
Like a poem poorly written
We are verses out of rhythm,
Couplets out of rhyme,
In syncopated time
Lost in the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs,
Are the borders of our lives.
Yes, we speak of things that matter,
With words that must be said,
"Can analysis be worthwhile?"
"Is the theater really dead?"
And how the room is softly faded
And I only kiss your shadow,
I cannot feel your hand,
You're a stranger now unto me
Lost in the dangling conversation.
And the superficial sighs,
In the borders of our lives.
Spock hesitated just outside the door. She was in there,
waiting for him, as usual. It took more resolve to walk into that room and face
the small human woman than it took to negotiate a treaty with the Klingons. They only wanted to kill you, after all, not rip out your soul.
Of course Joanna would never admit that was what she wanted. She
was always unfailingly polite.
Spock had spent too many years among humans to be fooled.
She hated him with a passion. Like her father, the woman
wasn’t capable of anything less. They hated passionately, loved passionately,
lived passionately. McCoys didn’t know how else to be. It was what had first irritated Spock so many years ago on the Enterprise.
It was what first drew him in and made him really see his lover for the wonderfully complex man he was.
Drawing himself up to his full height, Spock swept into the room exuding his usual aura of calm. It was a trick Sarek had taught him and it generally worked. Act like you own the place and everyone else will believe it. Joanna
looked up from her book and scowled at him. Everyone but a McCoy. To her he’d always be an invader in her family home.
Leonard had wanted to die in Georgia, where he’d grown up, in the house he’d raised Joanna. So Spock had taken a leave from the diplomatic service and taken him home. Joanna had been living alone in the house for years. She’d
greeted her father warmly. For Spock, she’d had only contempt.
Spock took his place by the fire silently and reached out for his own book. They’d begun this odd hostility laden ritual nearly two months ago, at Leonard’s insistence. He wanted them to ‘get along’. Joanna
would bank the fire for him, he’d leave tea out in the kitchen for her, and for one hour they’d sit in the same
room and silently read. They didn’t talk.
They didn’t actively acknowledge one another. They let the conversation
She blamed him. Spock didn’t need to be a telepath
to know that. She blamed him for everything. She blamed him for her father working
until he couldn’t anymore, never retiring until the end. She blamed him
for the illness that now plagued her father. She blamed him for her own bitterness.
It had been hard, back in the beginning, back in those early heady days when they’d both been serving
with Jim and the others. He’d been unsure of himself, of their relationship,
of what everyone would think. Would they think him less Vulcan for this? For
giving in to his desires with Leonard? Would they tease the doctor, make it
more difficult on him because he was involved with a Vulcan? It had happened
to Spock’s mother and father, he knew. They’d been ridiculed and
harassed, but that was years ago. Would it be the same now? So when Leonard had asked that he meet Joanna, Spock had hesitated.
What did one say to their lover’s grown daughter? Would she approve
Leonard had laughed at him. “She’s a good kid, Spock.
Look at it this way, you don’t even have to raise her! All the works already done. I just...I want you to be friends.”
So he’d agreed to meet them for dinner. He’d
brought her flowers, a mix of Vulcan and Earth colors that his mother had always preferred.
He’d even asked her advice ahead of time. They’d thought it
would be an appropriate gift. He’d wanted to make a good impression.
Perhaps his mother had been on Vulcan so long she’d lost her humanity because Joanna was not impressed. Anything but.
The restaurant had been packed when Spock arrived. He was 15 minutes late because one of his cadets had
gotten into a fist fight with another recruit about some unintentional insult. He’d spent a good hour trying to calm
both parties down. At the time they’d all been instructors at the Academy
and delays were expected.
Leonard understood that the students came first.
Joanna did not.
Spock had noticed her unhappy expression from across the room.
Leonard seemed oblivious and as soon as Spock was within hearing distance
he’d launched into introductions. Joanna accepted the bouquet with ill
grace and Spock nearly flinched at the hostility he felt when their hands accidently brushed as he passed the flowers to her.
He’d tried so hard that day. He’d wanted Leonard
happy and if that meant putting up with the scowling creature across the table he’d do it. Joanna thankfully caught
on and for Leonard’s sake they’d spent the dinner in polite if somewhat stilted conversation.
It had taken a while for Spock to understand exactly why his lover’s daughter hated him.
At first he thought it might be due to his species, but then he’d found out that she’d dabbled
in extra-species affairs herself. Amanda had suggested it was his gender. Spock had debated this possibility but Joanna did not strike him as prejudiced, especially
not in such an old fashioned outmoded way. This was a personal dislike of some
kind. Finally it was his father that made the most probable suggestion. Spock wasn’t her mother.
His experiences with Sybok and Amanda had leant the Ambassador some understanding of the situation. Sarek had calmly explained that it was likely Joanna would resent anyone being with
her father who was not also her mother. Thankfully, her behavior at the dinner
had indicated that while she didn’t like Spock, she also did not want to hurt her father. She had not attempted to drive them apart as Sybok had Amanda and Sarek.
During the following holiday, when Leonard had insisted they get together for another dinner, Spock and
Joanna had come to an understanding. They did not like each other. She thought
Spock wasn’t right for her father. Spock thought she was a shallow uncaring harpy.
In an odd way she remained him of T’Pring. But they both loved the
same man, if differently, and for his sake they’d never mention their mutual dislike again. This was admittedly somewhat easier for Spock than for Joanna.
Now Leonard was dying and for his sake they’d both taken up residence in the same house. They’d assumed it would be temporary; the doctors had only given Leonard a month or so. They should
have known how stubborn the man was. He was clinging onto life with both hands
and had already proven all of his doctors wrong and outlived their predictions by a good 6 months. It was starting to look like they’d all be under the same roof for a year or more. Spock wasn’t
about to complain. Having Leonard for a few more hours was worth putting up with weeks of Joanna.
Joanna was retired now, her own age advancing. Spock had
made the mistake of trying to assist her one day with the household chores. She’d
been in pain, trying to lift a basket of laundry that was too heavy for her, and he’d tried to take it from her. She’d lost her temper and yelled at him, even striking him on the shoulder. She could handle taking care of her father. She didn’t need some cold unfeeling
alien to help her.
Spock knew she was lashing out in grief and fear of her impending loss.
She did not mean her words. It did not make them wound any less.
Leonard had heard her, of course. His eyes had been accusatory
when Spock had returned to their room. “What the hell did you do?”
“I offered to assist with the laundry.” Spock had sighed and sat down next to his lover. “Her back is hurting her and she could not lift the hamper.”
Leonard had leaned back heavily into the pillows. “I’m dying and you’re trying to help
out my mouthy decrepit daughter with house work. This wasn’t exactly what you signed on for was it?”
Spock pulled himself back to the present with some force and flipped a page in his book. Joanna was by no means decrepit, but she was 96 years old. Leonard
was a 124. Spock was starting to feel his own 123 years, but he could not imagine
what it was like for the two humans. It hurt to even watch Leonard move. It hurt for him to move. Spock could feel it through the bond.
It would not be long now and they would both lose him. Not long after that, Joanna would leave as well.
There would be no more McCoys in Spock’s life. No more
harsh banter. No more of their special brand of humor. No one left to call him
a “pointy eared hobgoblin”.
Joanna turned a page in her book and looked up at him quickly.
Her eyes were red. She’d been crying. Spock nodded at her and looked
back down at his own pages. He didn’t ask why. They may not like each other, but they understood one another all too well.
And neither was about to start that conversation.