Chapter Notes: A Final Resolution...by Ln X
A Final Resolution
Craddock and Elizabeth walked hand-in-hand down the dirt path back to their house. The last time Craddock had been in this construct, he didn't have the chance to see his house up close. It was white coloured, with a duranium construction for it's frame, while the outside was covered with classic wooden panels so typical of 20th/21st century suburban American homes.
They arrived by the wooden gate, that reached no higher than Craddock's waist, and he opened it. As he went past the perimeter of the simple wooden fence, of the same height as the gate, he looked all around at the front garden. Most of it was covered with short cropped grass but the soil beds clinging to the outside had all sorts of flowers and bushes growing in them.
Finally Craddock sat down on the wooden sofa, held up by two sturdy chains attached to the wall of the house. When Elizabeth had sat down, Craddock extended his arm over her shoulders and he felt her rest against his side, her head resting against the top of his chest.
For some minutes he simply sat there, holding Elizabeth, feeling the gentle, pleasant breeze blow against his face, and looking out at the fields and woodland that surrounded their home.
"It's so beautiful this place," he said after a lengthy silence, "like you..."
"Some time in the future we'll be living in this house," said Elizabeth happily.
Craddock though didn't see what so was great about that. "But it's not real... All of this is just a construction of your mind."
Elizabeth moved away from him, and removed Craddock's arm from her shoulders, she sat quite rigidly looking at the garden. "In this place you cannot define real. The breeze blowing against us, does that feel real? Does the ground you walk upon feel real to you?"
"My senses tell me this is real, but my head is telling me that this is an illusion."
"So am I an illusion?" asked Elizabeth a little coldly.
"I don't know..." murmured Craddock, for some reason talking to Elizabeth right now only seemed to make him sad and sorrowful. "But when I look at the fields, this house, and you, it reminds me of what I lost and it makes me wish you hadn't died..."
Tears spilled from his eyes, as he felt his guilt and sorrow intensify.
Elizabeth then wrapped her arm around Craddock's shoulders and pulled him in close to her chest. "Ssssh..." she soothed, "I don't blame you for what you did, even if it did get me killed."
Craddock cried even harder, her words only seemed to inflame his pain. "It's still my fault," he choked, "because of me you and our baby died!"
"What baby?" asked Elizabeth.
Looking up, Craddock gazed at the confused look on his wife's face. "You were pregnant when you died, possibly a few weeks pregnant."
"I if had been pregnant I would have given birth to our child in this realm."
"How is that possible?" said a stunned Craddock. "You can procreate in here?"
"Yes. But where did you get the idea that I was pregnant?"
Craddock felt both his shame and embarrassment grow. "It was the coil of spirits masquerading as you, she told me you were pregnant."
"I've told you before she lied to," said Elizabeth, softly reprimanding Craddock. "I bet she would have done or said anything to keep you in this realm."
"She made a fool of me!" exclaimed Craddock, as his self-anger reached a crescendo. "Because of her I was momentarily unfaithful to you."
"What do you mean?"
Craddock literally winced at Elizabeth's question, he wasn't going to hide the truth from her, but he knew Elizabeth would probably hate him for it. "Well she kissed me, and then I kissed back..." Craddock paused, he had done a lot more than kiss that alien. "We had sex basically," he added in tortured tones, "but afterwards I regretted it when I realized I wasn't kissing you, I was kissing that coil of spirits! I didn't know you existed in this place, but I swear to you that if I had known, I would never have kissed her!"
"Stop punishing yourself!" exclaimed Elizabeth, who sounded deeply pitiful.
This was the last reaction he had expected from Elizabeth, and he felt a little hope as he realized he wasn't in the dog house.
"I would probably have done the same thing if I were in your shoes," she said. "Besides she kissed you first, she was manipulating you all the time!"
"That doesn't make it right what I did..." he moaned.
Elizabeth though appeared to ignore this, and she moved her arm off Craddock, and gently pushed him back against the sofa. She then placed her hands against both sides of Craddock's face, and she turned his head so that he was facing her. "Listen we have a few hours left, I don't want to leave on a sad note, I want to leave feeling like I had the best time of my life."
"Your right..." agreed Craddock, as he forced himself to look into those brown eyes. "But you do forgive me?"
"I forgive you," said Elizabeth softly.
"Thank you..." replied Craddock, and he felt a little of his guilt lift.
All of a sudden Elizabeth got onto her feet, and she suddenly grabbed onto his hand. "Come on," she said, as she gave Craddock's hand a tug, forcing him to stand up. "There's a place I want to go to."
"Where are you taking me?" asked Craddock, as he willingly let Elizabeth guide him.
"You'll see," she replied smiling, and she gave a playful tug and ran around the house, with Craddock following from behind.
Craddock's guilt and sorrow further eased as he wondered where Elizabeth was taking him. But at this moment he didn't really care, running with Elizabeth, while holding hands, made him unbelievably young and vibrant. It didn't matter that he had less than six hours left to spend with her, for he was certain that this next hour with Elizabeth would be truly magical.
As Craddock walked back, holding hands with Elizabeth, to find Spock, he thought about the last six hours. They had been truly wonderful, first walking over to the river, and seeing the beautiful scenery. He smiled a little as he remembered himself and Elizabeth behaving like children when they splashed around fully clothed in the river. Then, soaked to the skin, they walked back to their home.
In there, they went straight to their bedroom and had sex, afterwards he made Elizabeth dinner, and after dinner they went in the living room and snuggled up on the sofa. There he read Elizabeth a book, one of their favorite activities, and read for quite some time. The last two hours they just simply talked about their lives.
But as Craddock knew the time he spent with his wife wasn't go to last forever, and so with a heavy heart, he asked her to return to the place where Spock was. Throughout all this time, a little something constantly niggled inside his head. The coil of spirits masquerading as Elizabeth told him that his wife could return to his universe. At first he thought she had been lying, but what if she hadn't been?
This question constantly bothered him and as the time of departure came nigh, he wanted this question to be resolved.
"Mr Craddock," said Spock who was still wearing the amulet. "I take it you are ready to leave?"
Craddock shook his head. "There's one more thing I have to do and that is to speak with Zofadetterian."
"What about?" asked Elizabeth, her brow slightly contorted in confusion.
"To bring you back with me," explained Craddock as he looked into his wife's eyes.
"I'm afraid that can't be done," said Zofadetterian who had suddenly appeared, and once more in the guise of captain Kirk.
"Why?" asked Craddock desperately.
"Because it would violate our laws regarding the tampering of your universe. Bringing your wife back from the dead would definitely break those laws."
Craddock didn't give a damn if this being broke his precious laws, all Craddock wanted was his wife back. "But one of the coil of spirits told me that you had the power to bring back the dead to life!"
Zofadetterian smiled a sad smile at Craddock. "I'm afraid that the being you spoke to lied to you. Your wife is dead, and the person you see standing before you is simply an echo of her consciousness, that is her pyschonic energy. This place is where the pyschonic energy goes to."
Despair gripped Craddock, and he looked from Elizabeth, who looked so real to him, and then back to Zofadetterian. "But how can she be dead if she exists here then?"
"The truth is that even we don't know what happens when someone dies..." answered Zofadetterian in very gentle tones. "Though your pyschonic energy goes to this place, where your true essence, your consciousness, or soul, whatever you want to call it. Where that goes to could be somewhere completely different..."
"But could you return her back to where I live?" asked Craddock, desperate to know the answer.
"We could but-"
"Well I'm asking you," said Craddock forcibly, "as a personal favour, after helping you to settle your war. To let Elizabeth come back with me, to make her flesh and blood again! I did you a favour so why can't you return it?"
"Rob..." said Elizabeth softly.
"What?" said Craddock impatiently, wondering why his wife sounded so sad.
"I can't come back with you to your universe," she said sadly.
"No..." said Craddock, and he trembled with dread. "You don't mean that!" he added shakily.
Elizabeth walked up to him, and there was a longing in her eyes, as if she wanted to go with Craddock. "As much as I would like to go with you, I know that my existence resides in this place. One day when you die your pyschonic energy will arrive here and we'll be together, but it is not this day."
"I'm sorry but my decision is final..." said Zofadetterian. "And I will not force your wife to come back with you."
Zofadetterian left, and so did Craddock's last chance of living with Elizabeth again in his universe. He felt truly terrible, and he couldn't look at Elizabeth anymore, she seemed dead to him. Walking away from Elizabeth, he shut his eyes to stem the tears. It was like he had lost her all over again, and he couldn't bare to live with that feeling anymore.
He heard her walk over against the grass, and he felt her hand rest upon his shoulder.
"One day we will be together again in a manner of speaking," she told him.
Craddock though turned around and slapped her hand away. "I don't want to wait that long!" he said angrily. "Perhaps if I return back with Spock and then kill myself-"
"No!" exclaimed Elizabeth in terrible anguish and desperation. "Please don't kill yourself!"
"But I want to be with you!" said Craddock in a tortured voice. "In this place right now!"
"You heard Zofadetterian," said Elizabeth firmly, "for all you know when you die, your soul, your true essence may not go to this place!" She then glared at Craddock. "Don't you get it? If you die you may not find yourself in this realm with me!"
"But this pyschonic energy, it is your consciousness," said Craddock miserably, his mouth trembling from the sorrow. "I'm talking to you!"
Elizabeth looked just as hurt as Craddock, and tears had now welled up in her eyes. "I know it doesn't make much sense, but please don't kill yourself just to exist with me!"
She then grabbed Craddock, and her eyes seemed to be begging him to change his mind. "Please Rob I want you to live your life, and live it in all of it's entirety like every other humanoid being!"
Seeing Elizabeth prostrate herself against him, managed to inject some rationality into Craddock's head. He didn't want to upset her, and he didn't want to see her like this, but still he didn't want to leave her either. "If I leave here it'll be like losing you again!"
"Maybe it's better that way," said Elizabeth softly, and she moved a little away from Craddock but still lightly held on to his shoulders. "Every human faces loss, death of loved ones and bereavement. That is life, but to somehow cheat those things, to cheat death is not natural. You have so many years ahead of you and for all you know you could find another women that you will love, or perhaps in that time you could help thousands of people and make those lives better and happier! How could you so readily pass up those things?"
"Your right..." replied Craddock quietly, and he finally admitted defeat. If he was going to lose this argument then he wanted to do so gracefully. "I'm being selfish, wanting you this badly will only torment and hurt me further. I have to let get go, and..." He hesitated, as it was hard for him to say. "And life my live."
"Thank you..." whispered Elizabeth softly.
"And I suppose one day when I die, one part of me will return here, and in a way we'll always be together..." He tried to sound cheerful but didn't quiet manage it. He then dropped the figurine out of his hand, so that he could better hug Elizabeth. "I'm going to miss you..."
"Same here..." said Elizabeth.
"But how many people are lucky enough to say a proper goodbye to their departed loved ones?" he told her.
Finally Craddock partially let go of her, before kissing her. It was a very tight embrace, and one long passionate kiss. Finally he ended the kiss and picked up the figurine.
"Goodbye Elizabeth, I'll never forget you."
"Neither will I…" she replied, her voice almost breaking in sorrow, while her eyes showed a pain far deeper.
In a sad gesture Craddock raised the figurine, and Spock came over placing his hand upon it. He would always remember that kiss and he felt that he had left Elizabeth in the best way possible. Without even knowing, or understanding how, Craddock activated the figurine's power and just like that he saw no more of his wife. He had now well and truly lost her.
When Craddock saw the shuttle again, he felt a surge of disappointment and loss. For sometime in the pyschonic realm he thought that Elizabeth could be brought back into this universe. To hear Zofadetterian refuse his request was hurtful enough, but to hear Elizabeth, of all people, say to him that she didn't want go back simply stunned Craddock.
In a way he sort of understood her reasons why, but it didn't make the separation anymore easier. And then to further compound his misery, he realized he wasn't holding the figurine; it had somehow disappeared as he travelled from the pyschonic realm back to the shuttle. Looking around he saw that the amulet Spock was wearing had disappeared as well.
"We're back," said Spock.
"We are..." said Craddock a little sadly.
"For starters may I suggest that we tie up Vormarl and head back to the Enterprise?" suggested Spock.
"Yeah sure," said Craddock.
While his hands tied plastic cords around Vormarl, his mind wasn't really paying any attention, in some ways it seemed to be still stuck in the pyschonic realm. Once Vormarl was tied up, and unceremoniously placed beneath the underside of a console. Spock and Vormarl returned to the front of the cockpit.
As Spock piloted the vessel back to the Enterprise, Craddock used this opportunity to let himself think in peace. He had so many questions about death, losing friends and family, and even about the existence of one's soul. In the pyschonic realm Craddock had come seriously close to accepting the idea that human's had a soul, something invisible not even physical, but something which was always there.
He now wondered if when he died, he would wake up and find himself in the pyschonic realm. One part of his consciousness would, but would he be aware of it and be part of it? Or would he go somewhere else to a place beyond this world? There were no answers to these questions, and the more he thought about them the more confused he got.
One thing was blindingly obvious and that was Elizabeth's death, she had died and for a second time, in the space of a few days, he had to find a way to live with that, to accept it. More than anything he wanted to talk to someone about what it was like to lose a friend, or family member. But he had no close friends, he had no family. There was no one to talk to, however…
Craddock looked at Spock, out of all the people perhaps Spock had the answers or some hints… So summoning up his courage, Craddock decided to ask Spock a rather personal question. "Spock do you have family?"
"I have a father and a mother," replied Spock, who kept staring at the front and not looking at Craddock. "Why do you ask?"
"Well I was just thinking about losing loved ones...You have a mother; will you miss her when she dies?"
Spock seemed sufficiently intrigued that he turned around in his chair to face Craddock. "If you mean in an emotional sense then no, but I will add that just because Vulcans suppress their feelings, doesn't mean they won't briefly experience loss. However if she did die I would miss the bond I share between myself and my mother, and talking with her and being with her. The relationship she and I share gives a sense of contentment that can't precisely be defined."
"So is that the Vulcan way of saying you love your mother?"
"You could say that..." said Spock somewhat cautiously, he then gave Craddock that challenging Vulcan stare. "Is there a point to this discussion Mr Craddock?"
Craddock bit his lip as he wondered what sort of questions he could get away with without Spock refusing to answer them. "I was just wondering how Vulcans, or more exactly people in general cope with losing family?"
"May I presume that you still have not got over the loss of your wife?"
"I'm not sure," said Craddock, and he looked away from Spock's eyes, a slight lump had formed in his throat as thinking about Elizabeth became a little painful. "It all feels so strange, knowing that a part of her lives in this pyschonic realm and that when I die, a part of me will join her there. My point is how can Elizabeth be lost if I'm going to meet her again?"
Spock raised his eyebrows slightly at the question. "I would not care to answer that question as even logic breaks down when it comes to the matter of death. Death is that one unknown thing that cannot be explained by logic. Countless people have spent years determining what happens after death and seeking explanations, scientific and spiritual, about death." There seemed to be something harsh in Spock's voice, as if it was a matter that seemed pointless to discuss. "Though I recognize the humanoid curiosity about death, I think it is more important to focus on the time we have then think about what cannot be explained."
At this Craddock couldn't help but smile. "That's funny because Elizabeth said almost the exact same thing. After all that has happened in these past few days I just don't know how to resume my life from where I left it."
"Well perhaps a good place to start is to think about how you are going to explain yourself to captain Kirk when he asks why your ship was so deep in Klingon territory?"
Craddock inwardly groaned when Spock mentioned this, he was going to get in a lot of trouble about why he had sent the Draco so far into Klingon territory. He couldn't believe what a reckless decision that had been on his part, a decision made by a man far different to the one he was now. Some people had called him a maverick, but Craddock now knew that his recklessness was simply a twisted desire to tempt death.
Now though he wanted to live, despite losing Elizabeth again, he never wanted to let his grief and despair control him in such a manner ever again. Once he had settled the matter with Kirk, and Starfleet, about the Draco, he realized that he wanted to return home back to Earth, Nebraska. He could take a couple month's leave of absence, and work out what to do with his life.
But what else could he do? He was a freighter captain, mind you soon-to-be-stricken off freighter captain. To many times had he crossed the line, and finally with the Draco, he had managed to land himself in a lot of trouble with Starfleet. No matter what decision Starfleet would make on his actions, he knew that he would somehow get through this as he was determined to rebuild his life.
Many years would pass, and Robert Craddock would go on to experience many more life changing events. He would end up starting fresh with a new ship and a new crew, and would knock on death's proverbial door many more times. Death would come to him in a meaningless way, after illegally entering, and then fleeing Klingon territory, as freighters often do, and trying to find refuge inside of an asteroid field. The Draco II would be smashed into oblivion by a stray asteroid, and Robert Craddock would die instantly…
STARFLEET ACADEMY…(a month before the events of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
As Captain Spock watched his new class of cadets prepare for yet another simulation inside of the bridge simulator, Dr. McCoy, who was eager to see how the new medical cadets would perform, walked over to his long time friend.
"Here," McCoy said, as he handed Spock a data pad, "this came for you a moment ago."
McCoy, knowing that it was some sort of death notification, left Spock alone of a moment of solitude.
Spock read the data. It was the death announcement of Captain Robert Craddock, civilian freighter pilot. Craddock had included Spock on a short list of those who he had wanted to be notified upon his death. Spock thought back to the time he had shared with Robert Craddock, in the other realm, and Spock could only wonder; did Craddock's pyschonic energy reunite with Elizabeth's and did they at last go home? Spock's left eyebrow arched up.
"There are always possibilities," Spock said to himself. And then he pressed the delete button…