Title: An Expression of Grief
Parings: S/Mc (temporarily one-sided)
Summary: In the immediate aftermath of the Salt Vampire attack
from “The Man Trap” McCoy is brooding; Spock expresses his sympathies.
Disclaimer: I don't own TOS. I never have, and I never will. Star Trek and all of its relations
are property of Paramount and Viacom. I only own this story. Anybody who has a problem with the thought of
men in homosexual relationships with each other, please stay away. Flames and feedback are welcome. Please ask before putting
An Expression of Grief
September 1, 2009
In the wake of the Salt vampire
attacks, the crew was understandably shaken. After all, when shape-shifters were involved, nobody could be trusted. Even after
they had received the all clear – that the vampire had been destroyed, and that all hands were accounted for, tension
remained in the air. It wasn’t easy to come down from such a high level of suspicion.
The senior staff had been doing
a marginally better job than the general crew members, and while the Captain was somewhat ruffled from his close encounter
with the Grim Reaper in the form of the ugliest creature he’d yet seen, and had been forced to remain in sickbay overnight
for observation, he had seen it die and trusted his senses. He, Spock, and Doctor McCoy were the only people with such assurances;
everyone else had to trust their word. Fortunately, on a vessel with as loyal a crew and strong a reputation as the Enterprise,
that trust was better situated than if they had been the miners from two missions prior. And the crew trusted the Captain
again, after his evil self, the so-called imposter, had been subdued. It had been a rough couple of weeks.
With the crew slowly coming
off red alert – keyword slowly – and the Captain recovering from his brush with death, the only two people who
were theoretically in a better mental space were Spock and Doctor McCoy. However, McCoy was coping with the weight of several
matters: the death of Nancy, that he had been deceived by this creature several times, the loss of efficiency to his work,
seeing her – not her he had to remind himself, but a creature – so doting on Crater, that he had almost let the
Captain die, and that he had taken a life. And when Leonard McCoy was so affected, Spock was as well, although he would hardly
The Vulcan had finished his
shift; Scott had the con, and with no desire to remain on the bridge with the slowly
- far too slow for his taste – ebbing tension, he had left. Unfortunately, the mess hall and recreation rooms
were no better; the entire crew remained out of sorts. Emotional creatures that they were, they could accept his word as a
Vulcan at face value and still experience this anxiety. It was on its way to giving Spock a headache. With such an atmosphere
surrounding him, he doubted that meditation would be successful. Thus he did what he always did when deprived of all other
entertainment; he went to sickbay.
Doctor McCoy was in his office,
brooding, according to Nurse Chapel. Spock entered without announcing his presence. The Doctor looked up when he heard someone
enter, but quickly looked away, returning to his thoughts. When it was clear that the Vulcan wouldn’t simply leave,
he asked, “Is there something you need?”
Spock studied the other man
for a moment, before replying, “I grieve with thee.”
“I beg your pardon?”
McCoy looked up again at the unexpected words – or the sentiment, perhaps, although that seemed ill-fitting the Vulcan.
“I grieve with thee,”
Spock repeated. Realizing that the other man had heard him clearly, but was in an apparent state of disbelief, he explained,
“Those are the traditional words when another mourns in my culture.”
McCoy asked, and then he shook his head to himself and asked a different question. “No comments about how illogical
it is to mourn the passing of a woman who died years ago?”
“Every loss has two components:
the material loss and the knowledge of that loss. Your grief is no less legitimate, as you have just gained knowledge of Missus
Crater’s passing. To borrow a human phrase, the wound is fresh.”
“Been picking up terms
from Jim?” McCoy’s voice betrayed far less interest than usual, despite the rare glimpse past Spock’s usually
wholly Vulcan demeanor.
Spock did not rise to the bait
as expected; he had no greater interest in their verbal sparring than McCoy did at the moment. “As you are so fond of
noting, my mother is human.”
McCoy said nothing in response,
and a moment passed in silence, before he offered the other man a chair, realizing he had forgotten his manners. Then again,
the Vulcan had never been one for traditional manners, or human customs as it were. So it was today, as Spock declined to
sit, but also made no attempt to take his leave.
Another moment of silence passed,
before a thought occurred to McCoy, and he said, “I didn’t think anyone up on the bridge noticed I was out of
sorts. Hell, if Jim weren’t cooped up in here, I think he’d be too distracted to notice. As it is…”
McCoy shook his head to himself.
“I notice, Doctor,”
Spock told him. “Perhaps more than you may realize.”
If there were implications
in the statement, McCoy didn’t detect them. He simply absorbed the statement at face value. Then, making a connection,
asked, “Jim said you were the one who realized Nancy…I mean the creature was posing as me. Before it attacked
you, I mean.”
“That is true.”
Spock might be a keen observer of behavior, but he had yet to master the art of implied questions.
When McCoy realized that Spock
had not taken the hint, he pressed further, giving another opportunity. “So…how did you know? What tipped you
off?” The creature had been convincing in its performance; after all, he had not realized anything was amiss with Nancy,
and that could not all have been pinned on distraction.
“As I said, Doctor, I
Despite the Vulcan’s
reputation for candor, McCoy couldn’t shake the feeling that Spock had left something out this time. Simply noticing
was hardly enough, considering how cunning the creature was, how close it could become to the genuine article. The Real McCoy
as it were. He managed a chuckle, devoid of any mirth. “I suppose I should be flattered.”
McCoy expected Spock to rise
to the bait; he expected an insult, or a reassurance that Vulcan intelligence would allow him such advanced observation skills.
He did not expect Spock’s reply. “You should be.”
McCoy looked at him incredulously.
There was no hint of smugness or superiority in the Vulcan’s tone, merely a statement of fact. He asked, “Are
you trying to tell me something, Spock?”
“Merely that I grieve
with you, Doctor, as I know what it is to watch a person you care for with another person, unable to intervene.” That
was not what the Vulcan had told him he grieved for earlier; nor was it the aspect of what had occurred that McCoy had told
anyone after the situation had unfolded. It had been Nancy’s death, not her relationship with Robert, that had received
precedence; despite the fact that both took their toll.
If it were another time, when
the human felt better, he might pry into the cryptic confession, or tease about how caring was an emotion. Instead, he let
it go, simply saying, “Well…thank you.”
The Vulcan nodded and turned
to leave. When the other man was in better control of his emotions – the Vulcan resolved – he would explain just
how he had felt when he had seen McCoy doting on Nancy Crater, and why he had been unable to hit the other man to wrestle
the phaser away. How McCoy’s indecision was only a factor in the Captain’s injuries, as Spock had been as equally
unwilling to harm the human as the human had been to harm the creature. How the Vulcan understood caring, and did so, for
the Doctor, more deeply than any might know.