He is hollow.
The flesh and bone case which once held a half-Vulcan soul returns from the place of Koon-ut Kal-if-fee empty.
That which it had contained spilled painfully onto the sands of Vulcan, along with the treasured life-force of a human t'hy'la. One soul would not – could not – remain without the other, tied together as tightly as they are. And the ultimate agony of responsibility for the other's demise is enough to wrench a pained katra from its fleshy shell.
Had that part remained – the part that cared – he would never have been able to face her with such equanimity.
T'Pring. She who would have been his wife. She who challenged. She who forced him to face his best friend in mortal combat.
Had that part remained – the part that reasoned – he would have considered that someone other than he was to blame.
He returns to the ship or, rather, the shell returns, leaving everything of value behind, to be consumed by the oppressive heat that has nothing to do with Vulcan's climate.
"Mr Spock." The transporter chief greets him with the reverence due the executive officer.
A vacant nod is given for reply.
He walks into the bare corridor, mechanically taking the required number of steps until he arrives at his empty cabin. It would be easier to let it end here, to let the shell crack now, but even in this void state, he knows there is a duty to be performed. A final duty – before he can relinquish the little he now holds onto.
He hesitates at the door to sickbay; here is where the unfilled shell of his t'hy'la lies. Duty propels him forward.
An automaton, he begins what he believes will be the last conversation of his existence. It is a handing over of his last responsibilities, his final obligation.
There is a voice behind him.
//Impossible! He is dead.//
The shell turns to confront the ghost, grabs its arms....
But, even as he knows it can't be real, he feels its essence – Jim's essence – golden and complete and bubbling with life.
And, suddenly, he is filling; that which he believed lost is flowing back into him through the contact with his t'hy'la.
Very quickly, he is overflowing: joy and life and completeness. Those things that make him more than a shell have filled him and spilled over. The joy, more than he has ever known, is too much for the Vulcan shell to hold and leaks through to be seen so clearly on his face.
Vulcan propriety, aghast, quickly staunches the emotional flow and reasserts its dominance.
But he will live with the consequences of his public emotional display.
Because he is full.
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