"I can't stay long, will you let me in?" Her ice-blue eyes widened at his abruptness, but she stepped back to allow his entrance into the room.
"I thought you were on Vulcan..."
"Yeah, so does ninety-eight percent of the world."
"There's been no news. I can't even get an appointment with any of the lower brass. Genesis..."
"Genesis is gone."
The words staggered her. She walked blindly to the couch and sat--hard. "Gone?" she whispered.
"Yes. You'll be briefed in full very shortly I imagine. I wanted to come first because..." He couldn't say it. He'd been on Earth for only an hour, and was due to return to Vulcan via the diplomatic shuttle in less time than that. He was risking nearly everything, but he had only one thought in mind: Tell Carol!
He had to be the one to tell her. And now he was here, and she obviously didn't know, and his words were gone. All of his high sounding, moralistic, duty-filled words--gone. Like Genesis. Like David.
"What happened?" Carol was very composed now, hands folded in her lap, eyes attentive to his every expression and gesture.
She sighed deeply, a shuddering sound that he had learned to associate only with the dying. "It's not just Genesis, is it? It's David, too, isn't it?"
He nodded, mute.
"Tell me!" Her voice was steel, blade on blade, flashing sparks.
"The bare essentials then. Somehow, the Klingons got word of Genesis--thought it was a super weapon. They beamed down to the planet. David and Saavik were there. They had found Spock, regenerated by the effect. Before I could get there, the Klingons...the Klingons killed David."
Carol's face did not change, only grew white, but suddenly her eyes were no longer visible, but hidden behind a film of liquid silver. Kirk watched, fascinated as it shimmered and quivered, but didn't break. No, she would never break. Then it was gone.
"But--how? All the equations were worked and re-worked--for years! It was a solid go. How, Jim?"
He sighed and perched himself on the edge of the couch, ready for instant flight, if necessary. "According to Saavik, David had discovered an anomaly. Between the time you did the Genesis cave on Regula and Genesis itself, he introduced protomatter into the matrix."
Carol stiffened, then surged to her feet, pacing raggedly about the room. "He wouldn't--he knew how dangerous it was! I don't believe it."
"He admitted it to Saavik himself, Carol," Kirk said gently. "Somehow, Spock's new form and the planet were linked. He went from infant to adult in just hours, and barely survived. Genesis was aging epochs in seconds, but it couldn't withstand the stress."
Carol nodded. "What could?" she asked dully.
She was looking at him, and he couldn't meet her eyes. "He changed the rules. He wanted to win, so he changed the rules. How did you manage to do it all these years and never get caught, damn you?!"
"I don't know. But I'm caught now." He wanted to tell her how he ached, how scared he was, how he had never been a fugitive before, how much he wanted to know David after all the years apart, but he couldn't. He didn't deserve the luxury of unburdening himself to her. He'd have to carry the weight alone, a while longer. He'd return to Vulcan and perhaps Spock could see him then...
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, Carol, that it would be for the absolute best if I was never here tonight."
"I see." She walked over to the window, her back to him, perhaps trying to see if, even now, he was being pursued. She closed the curtains and turned back to face him. "I keep remembering his eighth birthday. I gave him a microscope. After that, all he wanted to do was look at the 'wigglies.' He even gave up on baseball."
She held up her hand to stop him. "He is--was, damn it, was!--so open--like a sponge. He always wanted to know more, to do more. Like you. So much like you. And now I've lost you both." Finally her voice broke, and she dropped her head in her hands, her body quivering with sobs.
Kirk crossed to hold her, to give her what comfort he could, but before he touched her, she straightened and stepped back, just slightly, but enough. She knuckled her eyes. "I guess they're after you hard?"
He nodded and made a decision. Swiftly, he closed the last distance between them and took her in his arms. She didn't resist, but lay lightly against him for support. He stroked her hair, still soft, so soft. Slowly, her arms crept around him, and they stood, frozen, for just a moment.
"Carol, if they question you, do what you have to, say what you have to say."
"I won't fink on you, Jim, don't worry. I know you too well. You may have broken all the rules and gotten everyone at Starfleet mad enough to spit nails, but I'll lay ten to one odds that the situation's better now because of something you've done, than if you hadn't done anything."
"Carol..." She stopped his words with her fingers.
"No time now. You go. I won't look. And David. I carried him, Jim. And bore him, and raised him, and taught him. I'll always have that. In a way, you lost more than I did. You lost your chance." She sighed. The tears were very near. "Just be careful. Please?"
He leaned forward and placed an achingly soft kiss on her lips. "I'll be back."
Then the door was closing, and it was like he had never been there, except for the wound in her soul.
"I know you will," Carol breathed to the empty room. "I know you will."
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