Thank you to EdorasLass, Hypatia, and Mina for beta-reading.
Summary: In the depths of his despair at having 'killed' Jim, Spock meets someone who has walked this path before.
Note: For those readers who are completely uninterested in The Lord of the Rings, skip ahead to the triple asterisks, where the part set in the TOSiverse begins.

HOPE LIVES IN MANY UNIVERSES

A KIRK/SPOCK MEETS DENETHOR CROSSOVER
Written by Farfalla, who looks like Rosie Cotton & eats like Denethor
Rated PG for suicidal thoughts and superb amounts of angst
blueberrysnail (at) yahoo dot com

I won't be made useless
I won't be idle with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear
--"Hands", Jewel Kilcher
Heat gave way to a curious peace.

He saw light, and for a moment imagined that all the recent days had been a dream. Perhaps there was still hope, still time--and certainly, the emptiness in his hands implied to him that he had not just lain upon a bed of flames clutching a palantir. Indeed, as he looked around him, he realized that no palantir lay in sight, nor table, nor broken staff of stewardship. So perhaps hope remained. But for how much longer?

And how many days had he dreamed?

Then he realized he wasn't breathing.

He had awoken as if from the deepest of sleeps--but then, what deeper sleep was there than death? So the pyre had been real, and his mortal body burned away. What, then, was this? And where was he?

He was in the process of examining his unscarred hands when he realized that a scrap of parchment lay across his stomach. He quickly sat up and read the words upon it.

Denethor, son of Ecthelion,
Welcome to Eternity. No doubt there is someone with whom you long to share it.

Finduilas! He sprang from the table onto the solid surface of--wherever this was. If he was dead, then he would soon be with his wife. And he would see the face of his beloved son Boromir again, that face he had thought lost forever.

But he could see nothing in any direction. Walls of white met floors of white with such smooth grace that their corners could not be seen. Even the table, now that he had quit it, seemed to shrink away into the whiteness.

He continued reading.

She reaches for you from the shore, in a tower of her own making.

She always had yearned for the sea...

But you are not yet ready for paradise. You have allowed yourself to collapse into despair, and paradise cannot be poisoned by the hopeless. Yet I will not turn you away, for you are a valiant man and served your city in life as best you could.

He spoke aloud. "What hope is there in Gondor? I saw only ruin."

Pictures, moving pictures as real as life, appeared on the parchment before him. Pictures of Faramir--alive! Alive and well! He watched his son caress the hands of Théoden King's niece, the cares of the wars completely gone from their eyes. Had it all passed so quickly, then? What of Gondor?

Now he saw Thorongil upon the throne of the great City, with an Elf-woman at his side. His eye fell upon the reconstructed blade of Narsil and the knowledge came to him that Thorongil was, indeed, Isildur's heir and the rightful king. And Minas Tirith shone, resplendent as ever, silver on the world. Of the eye he saw nothing, and somehow he knew there was nothing to see.

He hung his head, for he would never live in this new world. But at least he had a son in it.

You are already on the path to knowing hope. To prove this education, a task must be undertaken. Only then can you find repose with your lady.

"What is required?"

You must teach hope to others.

The moving pictures changed. A Man, with his hair cut short and his tunic made of gold. An Elf, also with short hair, his tunic in blue. In what strange army did they fight where hair was shorn and elves fought alongside men with regularity?

Looking into the determined hazel eyes of the Man, Denethor knew that this Man already knew hope. It was the Elf, then, that needed his guidance.

An Elf among Men. Had his own people cast him out?

Denethor paced for many hours, watching the parchment--watching, and learning.

***

The old woman raised her hand with great dignity. "Live long and prosper, Spock."

"I shall do neither. I have killed my captain--and my friend."

Spock stepped away from T'Pau so that the Enterprise's transporter beam would have a clear shot at him. His feet sank into the sand of his homeworld as he walked, but he didn't mind. In fact, he would have preferred the sand of Vulcan to have engulfed him and choked the life from him, as the blood of Vulcan had just now done to his dearest companion, but he wasn't heavy enough to sink into the sand.

He called the Enterprise with his communicator. "Energize," he said, prepared to have this banal command be his final utterance.

He did not intend to reappear on the other end of the beam. In the joyless moments following Kirk's death, Spock had quickly decided on what he deemed to be the most appropriate course of action. Jim had, in these past few years, somehow become so important to him that he would have gladly given his life to save Jim's. It was now his fault that Jim was no more, so he would give his life in repentance. And loneliness--a small part of him was willing to admit that. Selfish loneliness. He could not imagine a bearable existence without Jim.

This was how he had arrived at the logical conclusion that to destroy himself in the transporter beam would be the most painless, scandal-free method of suicide. It had the convenience of looking like an accident, and he would also save himself from the slow, agonizing death that his unfulfilled pon farr was sure to bring him.

His atoms would scatter across the galaxy, into energy. Perhaps someday, tiny particles of him would become bits of a star, and he would know light once again.

He let the whirring gold surround his essence and swallow his world.

Against his expectations, however, the whirring suddenly ceased. Spock hung in empty space, bodiless, formless, a soul without material. This had never happened in any beam-up he had ever experienced. A tiny measure of scientific curiosity crept into his gnawing sorrow.

"Spock, son of Sarek."

He answered the strange voice with the voice of his mind, having no lips to move or larynx to vibrate. "Who's there?"

"I am Denethor, son of Ecthelion. I was the Steward of Gondor in times of old, before the return of the kings."

"I am unfamiliar with these names," Spock replied. "Am I correct in surmising that you were a regent?"

"Precisely. I come to you with counsel, though you may find it uninvited. I insist that you not end your days in this hopeless manner."

Spock's mind was racing. Who was this being, and how did this Denethor know his innermost thoughts? "What hope is left for me? I would be returning to a friendless universe, and to a body that will shortly end my life in flames."

A sinister chuckle marked the darkness. "Do not speak to me of ending your life in flames."

Spock saw images of a man grown prematurely old, his face hardened with despair, disappearing behind a ravenous bonfire. "Why?"

"My country seemed on the brink of disaster. My son was lost, my wife long dead. I thought my only remaining son had gone to join them. Evil threatened to consume my lands and I believed every nightmarish apparition that it sent forth to torture me. I saw no way out. But even as I lay in ashes, our people triumphed against the darkness. With my actions, I proved that I had lost all hope, so I am sent to prevent you from making the same mistake."

"Do you know what awaits me should I return to my ship?" Spock inquired.

"Do you?" Denethor countered.

Spock hesitated, puzzled. He had imagined his death through pon farr many times these past few days, a death that would most likely now occur in the brig rather than the privacy and solitude of his quarters. He'd pictured it so many times, over and over, that it seemed more like a memory than an apprehension at this point.

"Imagining a thing does not make it true," Denethor pointed out. "Such images of woe killed my last hope, while there was still hope to be had."

"How will I escape? I see no other alternative than the fate my biology has decreed for me."

Denethor growled with frustration. "If you are determined to gorge yourself with nightmares, then I shall not stand in your way. But since I have had more experience than you with them, let me show what mine would be, were I in your place."

Spock's mind filled with new images. No longer were his thoughts self-centered and focused on his pon farr.

He saw Dr. McCoy, drinking himself into a stupor within his Sickbay office. The bottle dropped to the floor and crashed, spilling blue across the deck.

He saw Mr. Kyle, the man at the other end of the transporter, bow under the weight of first his own guilt and then under the weight of Starfleet's wrath. Kyle was blamed for the death of the finest first officer in the 'fleet, and eventually, it would cost him his place on a starship.

He saw Nurse Chapel moving about in Sickbay like a ghost, her eyes so full of tears that she accidentally read a chart wrong. A patient died while under her care, from receiving the wrong dose of a drug. She resigned from Starfleet in shame at her error and retreated to serving the indigent in a colony clinic.

He saw his father's thoughts, angry at the memory of his errant son. In his mind, Spock would have done better to die as a Vulcan, consumed by the plak tow, than to take the coward's way out into the void.

"I remind you--I cannot see what is to come. These are not images of what will be," said Denethor. "They are only suggestions of what might pass, should you fail to return to your ship. Are they not every bit as loathsome as the personal nightmares you face?"

"I must force myself not to be selfish." Spock would have glared, if he'd had eyes with which to glare.

"The Man would not have wanted it of you."

Spock knew Denethor referred to Jim. "You are correct. He would not have approved of my actions. Jim always was a man of hope."

"Hope lives." Those were Denethor's last words. His invisible presence blinked away as soon as Spock's mind had made the conscious decision to continue beaming back to the ship.

Spock hurried to Sickbay as soon as he was on board, barely noticing anyone he passed along the way. He burst into the room, joining McCoy and Chapel--who looked remarkably blasé for members of a crew that had just lost its captain. "Doctor, I will be resigning my commission immediately." McCoy tried to interrupt him, but he pressed onwards, After all that, he wasn't about to let anything get in the way of his decision to take the honorable road. "So I would appreciate your making the final arrangements."

"Spock, I--"

"Doctor, please, let me finish. There can be no excuse for my crime. I intend to offer no defense." Perhaps, he speculated, they would humanely execute him before the pon farr ate him alive. That would be preferable. "I shall order Mr. Scott to take command."

"Don't you think you'd better check with me first?" said Jim Kirk, stepping out of the next room with a big grin across his face.

Spock nearly launched himself at the captain like a rocket. "Jim!!"

Within hours, they lay in each other's arms, Jim's very living presence soothing Spock more than anything in the galaxy ever could. Spock had been undeniably touched by Jim's grace and forgiveness, and slept against him comforted as he had never been in all his life.

In his dreams, he saw the image of an old man in noble robes ascend to the top of a tower by a celestial sea, to embrace the russet-haired consort who awaited him there. Another happiness had been restored; of that he was certain, and indeed, hope lived--in any universe.