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The Wake

Title: The Wake
Author: triskellion
Pairing(s): gen
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: It belongs to Gene Roddenberry first, Paramount second, and me not at all.
Word Count: 1200
Summary: When the war is over and everyone has returned to Earth, there are still difficulties to face, and mourning to be done.
Notes/Warnings: I've been trying to finish this since the movie came out, to get the perfect effect. I doubt I've succeeded, but hopefully it's close enough.



Callahan's isn't the best bar in San Fransisco, not the cleanest, nor does it have the best drinks, but the owner is willing to put up with the side effects of letting overstressed Star Fleet cadets drink to excess. Over time, this has made it one of the favored watering holes of the Academy.

As there are far more students at the Academy than there is space in Callahan's, it's tradition that seniors have priority and the right to toss out anyone in a younger year that gets in the way of their drinking. Most plebes learn their lesson quickly, but there are exceptions. Cadet James T. Kirk set the record for most times tossed out on his ass before completing his first year at the Academy. The previous record had been in place for a decade without anyone coming close in less than full four years.

On the whole, Callahan's is a boisterous place, excellent for blowing off stress built up in the Academy pressure cooker. Bar fights are fairly common for every reason under the sun (Cadet Kirk had also started a record number of these within his first two years) and everyone exclaims loudly what a grand time they are having through the night.

Tonight is an exception. There is no noisy music within the walls of Callahan's, no raised voices, no fights breaking out despite the the more than adequate volume of alcohol sold. The crowd is small, increasing slowly as additional cadets drift in. They say not a word, make no calls to friends within, just order with a look or a gesture and join the cluster around the large heavy table in the middle of the room.

These are the remains of the graduating class of the Academy, the few lucky enough to be assigned to the Enterprise, pride of the Fleet.

Lucky twice over because the Enterprise was the only ship to survive the confrontation with the Romulans over the skies of Vulcan. Then they were whittled down further by the damage the Enterprise had taken in the two engagements with the Romulan mining ship from the future and when the Enterprise had barely escaped the black hole that destroyed their enemy. They are the strongest, the smartest, the luckiest, and the guiltiest.

Survivor's guilt radiates through the room, though the town of San Francisco itself, and draws the others to the table. Guilt for having been so pleased to be assigned to the flagship of the fleet. Guilt for surviving where their classmates had not. Guilt for not being in time to stop the destruction of an entire planet, of most of a race.

They had saved Earth, the rest of their school mates, the rest of the Federation, and yet somehow it seems tonight that there is more cause for guilt than for pride.

The Academy campus is haunted. The dorms are too empty, the survivors too grateful. Rooms that had been full of bickering and laughter echo emptily. Classes are tiny, consisting of these few in this room. Every empty dorm, every half empty lecture hall, leaves a feeling of gaping hollowness that no congratulations or compliments can fill. And no one can understand. Except maybe these few here.

At the back of the table, facing the door, Cadet Kirk slouches in gloom, glowering at nothing, at everything he could not stop, everyone he could not save. And yet, despite his dower disposition, the rest of the cadets gather around him like a pack waiting to learn the intention of their leader. For it was he who did lead them to victory over the Romulan vessel from the future that had thinned their ranks so horrifically, and now they turn to him to lead them again.

The survivors of the senior class and and some of the most recent graduates who had sailed with them, have gathered. They are the ones who know the faces of each and every classmate lost.

Jim Kirk rouses from his desolation to become aware of those gathered around him, waiting. He stands, raises his glass high and proclaims, “To Vulcan,” All about him echo the toast and drink.

Bones McCoy, standing at his right shoulder speaks next, “May the madness that destroyed her never be forgotten.”

Now others joined in:

“To her people. Their contributions to the galaxy will never be undone.”

“May those who are left grow and thrive.”

“To the Farragut. To her crew, young and old.”

“To the Hood, may her folk rest in peace.”

“To the Antares. A grand old lady.”

“May the Truman sail on through eternity in our memories.”

~o0o~


“To the Enterprise and her crew, those who died and those who live.”

~o0o~


The toasts continue down the roll call of the missing until Cadet Scott with a twinkle in his eyes pronounces, “To Admiral Archer's prize beagle, who made our victory possible.”

People begin demanding the story behind that one.

~o0o~


“... it was just a quiet discussion, but he wouldn't listen, wouldn't even look at my equations, so of course I had to prove it.”

“But what happened to the beagle?”

“When it shows up again, I'll let you know ...”

~o0o~


Smaller groups form, remembering and mourning.

~o0o~


“... Where is Jason?”

“The Hood.”

“Damn ...”

“... 10,000 feet! I about choked when Nokumura went out after him, chute in hand.”

“You did choke ...”

“... then Kirk said, “You and what army?...”

“... I've never seen anything quite like it.”

“You never will again. The only man who knew how to do it died on the Centurion ...”

“...So they're just kissing, standing there on the transporter pad, going ...”

“...then that quack stabbed me again ...”

“... He damn near throttled Kirk. Seems clear to me he's got emotions in there somewhere ...”

“... should have known it was stupid to say it was impossible. He never accepts that. So of course, the next time I see him I'm patching him up because he just had to try, but damned if he didn't succeed ... for the most part ...”

~o0o~


The stories and boasts and memories continue until dawn is coloring the horizon in the east, but not yet reflecting off the sea to the west. Callahan's is finally closing by throwing the cadets out the door. The staff had started watering the drinks early, then cut off the alcohol entirely, serving only juice and water for the last three hours. No one would take the hint. The cadets have rediscovered the ancient Earth maxim that sorrow shared is sorrow halved, and joy shared is joy doubled.

The street is filled with laughter as the cadets spill through the doorway of Callahan's. Arms about each other's shoulders, people who had barely spoken before continue to trade stories of those who were lost and those who remain as they journey back to the Academy campus. The sorrow is not gone, but perhaps, shared, it is easier faced. Empty dorms and half empty lecture halls will still echo the loss, but memories of stories and laughter will ease the pain.

Comments

( 19 spoke — Speak )
mariakatsu
Aug. 27th, 2009 09:26 pm (UTC)
Wonderful! You really captured a melancholy mood leading to catharsis.
triskellion
Aug. 28th, 2009 04:17 am (UTC)
Thank you. That was exactly what I was aiming for.
shoe_bug
Aug. 27th, 2009 11:37 pm (UTC)
I love this! You did a great job of conveying the mixed emotions they surely felt afterwards.
triskellion
Aug. 28th, 2009 04:18 am (UTC)
*grin* Oh, excellent. I'm so glad it hit a chord.
redangel618
Aug. 28th, 2009 12:58 am (UTC)
oh you gave them to Callahan's. best thing for them. who's running the place? mike wouldn't have watered the drinks.
triskellion
Aug. 28th, 2009 04:20 am (UTC)
*blinks* I did? What was I thinking when I did that? I guess think of it more as an homage because I envisioned it more grubby with more expensive glassware. Now if I could just remember what I was thinking when I wrote the beginning all those months ago. Oh well, I think Mike would have approved the experience.
vicki_rae
Aug. 28th, 2009 06:43 am (UTC)
This is lovely and haunting, and hopeful for the future. You really captured the mood of a proper wake. And you set it at Callahans! Perfect.

triskellion
Aug. 28th, 2009 10:43 am (UTC)
Thank you. That was what I hoped for.
sakka
Aug. 29th, 2009 02:10 am (UTC)
Really poignant and I like the dialogue a lot... great piece :)
triskellion
Sep. 6th, 2009 04:38 am (UTC)
Thank you.
supasass
Sep. 1st, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
Beautiful; elegant and cathartic *mems*
triskellion
Sep. 6th, 2009 04:38 am (UTC)
*grin* Thank you.
sparrowhawk17
Sep. 9th, 2009 07:26 pm (UTC)
Beautiful and absolutely wonderful. Thank you.
triskellion
Sep. 13th, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you. It's good to know this labor of love is appreciated.
talietha
Nov. 9th, 2009 10:34 am (UTC)
Beautiful. The feeling of mourning & melancholy is well captured and i love the way you transformed it to joy & hope. Beautiful.
triskellion
Jan. 4th, 2010 12:41 am (UTC)
Thank you. This one was really a labor of love. I wanted to write this as soon as the movie ended.
nekoii_desu
Aug. 27th, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
empty dorms, and half empty lecture halls... that kept echoing the loss of all those cadets.
Their loss was never really felt in the movie, despite the scene of debris the Enterprise wrapped into. Debris of their lost souls.
But you never really got to feel it.

Now i do, with the empty dorms, and half empty lecture halls...

Nicely done ;)
triskellion
Aug. 29th, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I felt it's an important aspect of the film and the character's motivations, but is only hinted at when you see the debris over Vulcan. I'm glad you felt the same.
isla_verdad
Dec. 8th, 2011 12:43 am (UTC)
Aw, ouch. But very real.
( 19 spoke — Speak )