22: Memory Meld 2

Spock reconnected with McCoy’s mind and started to relive his childhood again, flitting through his memories like a bird flying through a changing landscape but seeing everything through McCoy’s eyes and feeling his emotions also.

Leonard refused to play in Little League the next year, and his mother did not force the issue. It was simply too hard for him to watch the other kids’ fathers come to cheer them on when he knew his own would never show up. In fact he saw less and less of his father even at home; on the rare occasions when he did get home from the hospital before Leonard’s bedtime, it seemed he was always too tired or too grumpy to pay attention to him. Then one day Leonard came home from school to find several things missing from the house — little, inconspicuous things like his dad’s reading glasses that had always been on the side table in the living room and his running shoes that had been tucked under the mudroom bench. His mom was baking cookies and had talked cheerfully as he’d walked through the kitchen, but after noticing the missing items, Leonard looked closer to see that his mom’s face was puffy and red like she’d been crying. He didn’t ask her what had happened; he thought he knew but didn’t want to know for sure.
He did find out soon enough, though. His mom explained that his dad had gone to live with Nana because Nana was getting older and needed somebody to help around her house. Leonard fought with himself to keep from pointing out that his dad was always at the hospital and so couldn’t possibly be of any help to Nana. He did, however, offer to help Nana in any way he could. His mom beamed at him and said he could go over on the weekends and help Nana in her garden. Leonard accepted this arrangement without comment; he knew this was what happened when parents got divorced — something he’d heard about from several of his classmates. He didn’t like it, of course, but since his dad had started staying at Nana’s from the day Leonard had said he wanted his dad’s patient to die, Leonard felt like this was all his fault. He didn’t say anything to his mom because he knew she would try to make him feel better and he was pretty sure it wouldn’t work.

A tear slowly made its way down Spock’s cheek but he did not break the meld.

Leonard hardly ever saw his dad at Nana’s place and he never asked where he was. Sometimes he caught a glimpse of Nana looking at him with a sad expression and would pretend to not notice. If he could, he would do something silly or say something funny to cheer her up. He didn’t want her to feel sad on his account. It wasn’t her fault that he’d been a bad boy — so bad that his dad didn’t want to be around him anymore.
One Friday he got off the bus at Nana’s but she wasn’t standing in the doorway like she usually was. He ran up to the house but the door was locked. At least he knew the lock code and could let himself in. He went through the rooms, calling for her, and finally went down into the basement to see if she was in the pantry. She was — on the cement floor, lying in an unnatural position, not moving. Leonard quickly checked her pulse, then fumbled with his communicator to call Emergency.
“My Nana’s on the basement floor, unresponsive, with a weak pulse,” he told the operator. “Her breathing is shallow and her hands are cold. Please send a medical team, quick!”
The response team beamed over to the front door and followed his frantic cries into the basement, where they assessed the situation and pulled up Nana’s medical file. While a woman tried to lead Leonard away to give the others enough room in the pantry to work on her, Leonard overheard one technician say, “She has a DNR order on file.” The other responded, “She’s still breathing, dammit! We have to do everything we can.”
Leonard watched as they gently moved her onto a biobed. When the woman suggested to Leonard that they go upstairs, he shook his head. “My dad’s a doctor. I’m used to seeing medical procedures,” he lied. In fact he had watched one surgery out of curiosity and had felt sick to his stomach at the sight of blood and exposed internal organs; however, he was compelled to stay and observe everything, though he could not explain why. He saw one medic heal the hematoma on her brain, but he also saw that there was a large dark area of the brain where its activity had been disrupted by the injury. He heard the other medic say her blood levels were off and needed several medicines to be corrected. He watched as they called her name in an attempt to rouse her back to consciousness. He listened to her heartrate gradually weaken, stutter, then fail altogether….
“We’ve lost her,” the lead medic sighed. The man turned and saw Leonard standing there, wide-eyed, and came to kneel in front of him. “I’m sorry, kid,” he said with a sober expression. “We did what we could, but with a Do Not Resuscitate order, we can’t do anything once her heart stops beating. Do you understand?”
Leonard nodded. He knew what a DNR order was — he just didn’t understand why Nana had one.
“Do you have any other family?” the doctor was asking him. “Or is it just the two of you here?”
“My dad… he should have gotten the alert when I called,” Leonard said, “but if he’s in surgery, he wouldn’t be able to leave in the middle of it.”
“Your dad’s a doctor?”
Leonard nodded again. “David McCoy.”
“Oh, God! Best damn surgeon around. And I gotta tell him we couldn’t save his mother,” the man muttered.
“Why did Nana have a DNR?” Leonard asked. “She wasn’t sick.”
“I don’t know, kid… I’d have to take a closer look at her chart. Your dad could tell you better than I could.”
Leonard bit his lip and scuffed his toe on the cement floor. “He’s never home before I go to bed.”
The doctor exchanged glances with the woman. “Hey, kid… you got any other family?”
“Yeah, my mom. I’ll call her… let her know.” Leonard realized only then that he was still gripping his communicator and that the call was still on with the dispatcher. “Hi… um, thank you,” he told her before hanging up. When he called his mom and heard her voice, he burst out crying at last. The doctor pried the communicator from his hands and briefly explained the situation to his mom, then passed the comm back to Leonard so he could hear his mom assure him that she was coming right away. The rest of the day was a blur, although he was vaguely aware of his father arriving, still wearing surgical scrubs.

Spock was weeping when he slipped out of the meld. He was surprised to find McCoy dry-eyed and stoic.

“Why did she have a DNR?” Spock asked.

“She’d had a bout with Calstan’s Syndrome, a genetic type of brain tumor that has a high risk of recurring, back before I was born,” McCoy answered. “But what knocked her out that day was a simple imbalance in her blood sugar — she hadn’t eaten anything that morning. I don’t know if she just forgot or what…. Then when she fell, she hit her head pretty badly…. I didn’t find her until it was too late. She’d been lying there for hours. Even if they’d kept her alive, so much of her brain was already damaged… she would have needed months of therapy, and even then she might never have recovered completely.”

Spock kissed McCoy’s face all over, not knowing how else he might express his sympathy. McCoy did not meet his gaze but slipped his arms around him, pulling him closer, so perhaps it was helping in a small way.

“Do you wish to continue?” Spock asked, pressing their cheeks together.

“Sure… yeah,” McCoy answered. “If you want to.”

Spock continued to hold him with one arm while connecting to his psi points with his free hand. By now he was confident that the link between them was strong enough to be sustained by only a few fingers.

After Nana died, Leonard didn’t go to her house on the weekends anymore. He knew it would be pointless since his dad was never there, anyway, but it still came as a shock when he found out that his dad had moved into an apartment near the hospital and sold the house. His mom was working now, while he was at school, and seemed to be enjoying it. They swapped stories over dinner every weekday and on weekends they went to visit Grandma and Grandpa — his mom’s parents — who had moved back Earthside when Grandpa retired. Then one weekend his mom took him to his grandparents’ place but didn’t stay. She blushed and avoided answering his questions before leaving, but Grandpa was more forthright.
“He’s old enough to know,” he told Grandma before addressing Leonard directly: “She’s going out on a date.”
The statement left Leonard feeling numb. He was still at an age where he considered girls to be infested with cooties, so the thought of his mom kissing and making out with someone turned his stomach. He didn’t have an appetite at all for dinner but, knowing Grandma had made his favorite fried chicken and mashed potatoes just for him, he forced himself to eat and even smile. He stayed awake long after his bedtime, propped against the window by his bed, wondering why she had to date anybody at all — why he wasn’t enough to make her happy. He fell asleep on the window as he waited, only to be woken by Grandpa moving him back into bed.
“You need someone to tuck you in?” Grandpa asked, teasing.
“No! I’m not a baby,” Leonard protested hotly, his face flushed.
He slept fitfully the rest of the night, stirring at every sound, but his mom didn’t come back until close to noon. They had gone rather far on their date, she explained with chagrin once she found that the proverbial cat was out of the bag.
She introduced him to Leonard not long after, and they continued to date for a while — almost every weekend, leaving Leonard at his grandparents. He saw how happy his mom was and knew it would be selfish to not want her to be happy, but he couldn’t pretend to be happy about it. The best he could do was act nonchalant, like it was no big deal since he wasn’t a little kid anymore. The guy (his name was Arthur) sometimes brought him books and toys, which Leonard accepted with mediocre enthusiasm. He even suggested that Leonard come along with them, and the first time Leonard agreed since they were going to a science museum that sounded interesting. But when Leonard turned back to point something out at one of the exhibits, he saw his mom and Arthur giggling and making eyes at each other and thought he might literally throw up. He declined their invitations after that, no matter how hard his mom tried to persuade him.
He wasn’t surprised when she announced that they were getting married, showing him the diamond ring Arthur had given her on bended knee. It still made him gag but he wasn’t about to make a fuss. However, when she asked him if he would let Arthur adopt him — change his last name and everything — Leonard had to draw the line.
“You’re the one getting married to him, not me!” he declared, and that was the end of that discussion.
The wedding was planned for the summer, and until then Leonard was bombarded by wedding preparations that his mom wanted to tell him about. He tried to bear it with good grace as much as possible but had to remind her on more than one occasion that since it wasn’t
his wedding, he had no opinion on what colors the flowers should be. He was actually relieved when the day arrived, even more relieved when he was able to shuck off the tuxedo that he’d had to wear for the ceremony and reception, and then he told himself that he was relieved when his mom left with Arthur on a two-week honeymoon.
“I’m never getting married,” he confided to Grandpa.
“That’s what I said too,” Grandpa replied before downing his bourbon.
It took Leonard a while to get used to living with Arthur, although he had to admit the guy was nice enough. He even tried to help Leonard with his homework. He was an engineer so he did know a thing or two about math. Then Arthur got a big promotion — one that required him to move. Leonard’s mom carefully explained it all to him and offered him a choice: move with them to Iceland or stay with his grandparents. Leonard chose to stay since he didn’t want to leave his friends and change schools in the middle of the year. He was also playing soccer in a junior league now and had just made the starting lineup. So technically, Leonard knew
he was the one breaking away from his mom; but it still felt like he had lost her to Arthur. He helped her pack and also packed his own things to move in with his grandparents. When she kept grabbing him and hugging him out of the blue, he protested — after all, he was almost a teenager — but he didn’t struggle too much to get out of her grip. Arthur moved first to get their apartment ready; she followed a few days after. When her transport shuttle actually left the airport, the reality hit Leonard, but it was too late. Plus he was not about to cry in front of his grandparents.

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