American Tune (One Couple's Hymn to Glorious Failues and a Glorious Victory)

Title: American Tune (One Couple’s Hymn to Glorious Failures and a Glorious Victory)

Author: Liederlady

Series/Pairing: Star Trek TOS Spock/McCoy

Submission issue: Spiced Peaches 19

Summary: We’ve all experienced instances when a song gets stuck in our head. Well, our favorite country doctor is not immune. And as the tune plays on in his mind, Bones can’t help musing on past events detailing his obsession with his favorite sparring partner.

Notes: Song lyrics rendered in italics.

Rating: PG for strong language and sexually suggestive content.

Word count: 1905


American Tune

(One Couple’s Hymn to Glorious Failures and a Glorious Victory*)


Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken; And many times confused.



“Why you wouldn’t know what to do with a genuine warm, decent feeling.”


“Really, Doctor?”


I understood why you’d come to my rescue in the arena. But I wanted you to acknowledge that it was more than duty, more than simple camaraderie, more than friendship. But you wouldn’t. So I had to needle you. Had to say things that were so far from what I believed at that time.


When you finally conceded—well, as far as you could concede back then—you threw me. The truth threw me. The truth that Jim was the one. The one you could admit to caring about.



Jim. Dammit.


Yes and I’ve often felt forsaken; And certainly misused.


He looked like you. Except for that staggering goatee. Despite the fact I knew you’d never consider growing a beard, you’d never allow your slightly dangerous edge to surface, he did seem a lot like you.


If it meant saving the others, if it meant sending Jim back to you, perhaps I could find a way to live with the mirror you, to survive in that universe. Perhaps I could find even more with him. His brown eyes burned … hungered. What I saw in them gave me hope.

Until I discovered—painfully—that Jim was wrong. The mirror vulcan was nothing like you. The thoughts he violated, the memories he forced … of my life with Jocelyn, of my life with Jim, with you … they weren’t sufficient.


Oh, they gave him the answers he needed, but he wasn’t interested in answers alone. That hunger wasn’t sated so he took more.


Took what I would gratefully have given you.



Ah, but I’m alright; I’m alright. I’m just weary to my bones.



I knew you’d figure out the diagnosis eventually. Just as I figured out your damn pon farr secret. I considered telling you first. Before Jim. Knew you’d find a logical way of breaking the news to him.


Frankly, I was afraid to tell you, to face you. Not because I was dying. But because I was afraid I’d let my own control slip. Ironic, huh? Me worrying about losing emotional control? Guess familiarity breeds contamination after all.


By that time, I’d gotten over what the mirror vulcan had done. Gotten past the anger and fear. And the shame. You helped me get past it all once you realized why I kept avoiding you.


Although I cursed your so-called ethics at the time, you eventually made me understand why you couldn’t simply make me forget. Instead, you helped me deal with the memories, somehow smoothed away the fear and shame.


You left me the anger, though. That surprised me. You claimed it was justifiable.


I’ll never forget that you managed to help me without making me feel less than I was before it happened. I finally had to acknowledge your instinctive compassion rivaled your facility for rationalism.


Afterward, we actually began to forge something of a friendship. Oh, we still sparred. We’ll never give that up, will we? At least I hope the hell not. But we’d begun to find portions of our lives we felt safe sharing. We opened up. By degrees, of course. Shared slivers I called them, remember? That would almost make you smile.


I lived for those moments.


But I couldn’t open up about dying. Not if it meant we could never share more than those all-too-brief moments of innocent enjoyment. Despite treasuring them, I felt cheated. I wanted so much more than innocence, so much more than a shared ale or challenge-laden chess lesson. More than the occasional flirtatious poker game with the quadrant’s greatest poker face.


I wanted you. All of you. Every single day I had left. And denying reality was safer than admitting that to you and forcing you to gently reject me.


Still you don’t expect to be bright and bon vivant so far away from home,

so far away from home.


Mother raised me to be an honest boy. Honest and honorable. Somewhere along the line I forgot her lessons because I was neither with Natira. Or you.



The marriage was a lie. Natira knew I didn’t love her, knew we hadn’t much time. But she felt she could make me happy. And she was willing to hope she could win my heart. She couldn’t have known it belonged solely to you.


The girl was hurt when I couldn’t physically consummate the union, but assumed it was due to the disease. I allowed deception to heap upon deception.


I couldn’t even feign excitement when I brought Natira to her peak. And afterward, when she reached toward me, I had to turn away and return to the room where you and Jim and I recovered from the Oracle’s wrath—the room where I awoke to your concerned and slightly reproachful gaze. I couldn’t permit myself the hope there had been more emotion than that in your whiskey-colored eyes.


The only truth I could admit to myself as I watched you and Jim dematerialize was that the end would be easier to bear among strangers. And that I wouldn’t need to compete with Jim any longer.



And I dreamed I was dying.


Pain. Darkness. Burning. Loss. Sadness. Jim. Friendship. Love! Joy!


Sinking. Exhaustion. Cold. Regret.





I didn’t understand it. Why would I feel intense longing to touch Jim’s hand, regret that the glass separated us when I was on the same side of it as he was?


I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly. And looking back down at me smiled reassuringly. And I dreamed I was flying.


I don’t recall rising from my bed and moving to your quarters. I thought I was dreaming of you and, in the dream you were trying to tell me something. It might have been another blasted chess maneuver for all I knew. Except that you were smiling. Not the mere ghost of one that I’d try to milk from your lips with wisecracks and flirting and utter stupidity. Ad infinitum.


This smile was broad. Lots of straight, white teeth showing. Warm. Inviting. Loving. With nary a spore or space virus or spiteful Platonian in sight … And then Jim was growling at me and gripping my arms so hard he left bruises. I didn’t need any more bruises.



Fuck, why couldn’t he at least leave me my hopeless dreams?


And high up above, my eyes could clearly see the Statue of Liberty sailing away to sea.



In my confused haze, I could sense rather than see Jim and Scotty and Sulu and Pavel next to me. All of us gazed up at a vivid blaze in the waning sunset. She was still quite beautiful even during her final flight—her swan song into the planet’s atmosphere. Jim gasped an agonized question, breaking our silent vigil.


We answered—you and I both. I never thought I’d be so content to allow you to put words in my mouth.



You mused whether we should touch Jim in a sympathetic manner, but I knew better. He was fragile just then. More fragile than we’d ever known him to be. Normally, one of us would know what to say, what to do to help him through a crisis. You helped him when he lost Sam. When he lost Edith, Miramanee and Rayna.


You’re good at helping people. Always said you had a good bedside manner, you green-blooded elf.


You heeded my warning that this loss was different. Losing David was dangerous enough. Losing Enterprise—the reason Jim never got to know his son until it was far too late—might have tipped the scales. If we touched Jim then, all of his sharp edges might have cracked under the pressure. Now I can admit my fear we’d crack too. For all I knew, you might have left me for Jim.


As unsettling as it was to have you in my head, I knew I lacked the strength to survive being separate from you ever again.



There was only one thing that could help Jim heal. Only one thing that could help heal us all.


Years ago, I stopped believing in miracles or magic or even faith itself. When Mother died. When Dad died. When my marriage died. When Nancy died. Nothing could save them—least of all me.


Still. If some blasted doomsday device can deal both death and resurrection, if I can spar with you again and touch you again and have the chance to share slivers with you again, I’ll take any goddamn risk necessary.



Somehow, I found my faith. Faith that we can all be saved. Faith in Jim’s brash inability to accept defeat. Faith in your damned Vulcan mysticism. Faith that you’re here in my mind, that you’re real, that what you feel for me is more than I ever imagined.


Faith that perhaps, after all, love might conquer evil. And, more amazingly, fear.



We come in the age’s most uncertain hour and sing an American tune.

Whales? The fucking space turd wants to talk to whales? Whales are gonna sing a siren song and break us all outta the shit heap?


Okay, I’ll buy.


And so once again, the Enterprise crew saves the day. Gettin’ to be old hat, ain’t it darlin’? A shame the great lady couldn’t have brought us home.



But we’re sure’nuff lucky that she brought us together—you and me--solitary, lost, incomplete SOBs that we are.


Hell, I never fooled myself into thinking it would be easy to flirt with a dead man. Or even a resurrectee.


Turns out it’s just like old times.


No, that’s imprecise.


It’s better.


That’s right. Come on in the water, now, sugah. Yeah, the water in the bay is damn cold but I’ll warm you later. Warm your ugly long green toes until they curl up ‘cause you won’t be able to keep from comin’. You won’t know what hit your curvy vulcan ass when I finally get you alone and prone. And that, my pointy-eared friend, is a fact.



But it’s alright, it’s alright. You can be forever blessed.


“Leonard? Leonard, wake up. You’ve been singing in your sleep again.”




“Singing. You’ve been singing that ancient hymn** in your sleep again.”


“Aw Spock, ya shouldn’ta woke me. Was havin’ a helluva wet dream, sugah. ‘Bout the time I jumped ya in that Frisco hotel suite after the whale-lovin’ probe hit the road. Mmmm, was that a night to--”


“Leonard, you’re babbling. Go back to sleep.”


“Not ‘til ya tell me you remember that night.”


“Illogical. I possess an eidetic memory as you well know.”


“Stubborn hobgoblin. Tell me.”


“Of course I remember. It was our initial intimate interlude, t’hy’la.”


“S’better. I’m unforgettable in bed, right?”


“And unbearable in the morning when you fail to obtain sufficient rest.”


“Just ‘cause I don’t start the day doin’ calisthenics in the buff like ...”


“Good night, beloved.”


“Beloved mah foot. Yer hoggin’ all the covers again and mah bare ass is freezin’.”


“If you wish to facilitate my proven ability to rectify that situation, I suggest you position yourself accordingly. Perhaps afterward you will be sufficiently satiated to sleep without further talking or singing.”


“Now you’re talkin’ darlin’.”


Still tomorrow’s gonna be another working day and I’m trying to get some rest.

That’s all I’m trying to get some rest.




* Refer to Bones’ final scene in “Requiem for Methuselah,” Episode 74.


** The melody Paul Simon used for “American Tune” is quite ancient, having been written circa 1600. It is widely known as a Christian Passion hymn (in the Roman Catholic religion, the hymn is titled “O Sacred Head Surrounded“). The original music was written by Hans Leo Hassler for a secular German love song. Love song, folks. I guess some things never change.

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