Title: Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover
Series: TOS, A/U
Rating: PG for mentions of death
Summary: Spock and McCoy are terrible at saying goodbye. Three ways to leave your lover with a Spock/McCoy twist.
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 this anywhere.
Authors Note: The three ways are unrelated, and assume
for the purpose of reading that they are the products of their own, individual universes, rather than taking place in the
Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover
December 1, 2009
The problem is
all inside your head she said to me.
The answer is easy if you take it logically.
I'd like to help you in your struggle
to be free.
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover.
1. Slip Out the Back:
Society in the 23rd Century had moved
past the barbaric notions of capital punishment, if one ignored the consequence of traveling to Talos IV. Society thrived
on cooperation and benefitted from rehabilitation. Taking of life resulted in the loss of all potential benefits which might
have come to fruition in that life, had it not been snatched away prematurely. This was the secret of the Federation’s
Diseases never played by society’s rules.
Xenopolycethemia was a death sentence.
A year at most, probably less given the risks
of starship life. Leonard McCoy’s immune system was slowly shutting down. When the results of his physical came back,
he went sheet white and ordered everyone out of his office, threatening that if he was disturbed for anything less than a
red alert, he’d redo the schedules to give the offending personnel double shifts until the mission ended. It was beyond
the scope of his authority, but sickbay staff knew better than to correct him when he was in a mood. Besides, he had an in
with the Captain and the First Officer, and shift changes weren’t beyond the scope of THEIR authority, and every once
in a while, people caved in to McCoy’s demands to keep him from arguing further. That wasn’t a risk worth taking,
and thus McCoy was left alone with his thoughts.
A year. McCoy didn’t know whether to laugh
or to cry. He wasn’t morbid enough to make himself laugh, and he hadn’t shed a tear since the death of his father;
in the end, he did neither. He sat in his office with his head bowed, in a vain attempt to make his peace with this knowledge.
He could do nothing to change the diagnosis, and as there was no cure, he had no course of treatment. Painkillers and antibiotics
to assist with the fallout, as the disease progressed, but there was neither medication nor therapy to alleviate the underlying
He was only forty-one, far too young for a degenerative
illness. That thought brought him to a memory, his father lying in bed in that far too sterile hospital, delirious most hours
of the day, and in those few moments of clarity, begging for a release from the torment. No, he wouldn’t allow that
The rest of his shift was spent updating his living
will; he could send it to his attorney at the next mail drop.
That night, when Spock appeared at his quarters,
McCoy feigned a smile; the Vulcan didn’t fall for it.
“Is something wrong?” His voice was
outwardly devoid of emotion, as usual, but it was a caring question nonetheless.
An afternoon had not been enough time for McCoy
to make his peace with the diagnosis. The crew physicals weren’t due for another few days, and he hoped by that time
to be capable of discussing the matter aloud, if nothing else. In response to the question, he shook his head. “No,”
he lied, “I’m just tired.”
Spock had no reason to doubt him; dishonesty had
never been one of McCoy’s character traits. If anything, his problem was the opposite: unnecessary forthrightness when
it came to emotional matters. The Vulcan had lingering doubt, but he dismissed it; Leonard could be taken at his word, and
any doubt was illogical, the result of unsubstantiated “feelings.”
That pattern continued for the next several days,
and McCoy grew to accept the diagnosis. As a result, he became better at lying to Spock each night, and to Jim Kirk over breakfast.
Given a bit more time, he could have elevated those lies to an art form.
He was denied that opportunity when Nurse Chapel
came across the medical reports and called the Captain down to sickbay without his permission. He’d snapped at her,
which wasn’t new; he had done so before in times of stress. This time, the underlying emotion was fear, and they both
knew it. He dismissed her with a promise that he would tell everything to the Captain.
With only a moment’s time to decide how
best to do so, he had chosen the professional approach, which was also the roundabout approach.
“I've just completed the standard physical examinations for the entire crew.”
“Excellent,” Kirk replied, not fooled at all. “What's the emergency?”
“The crew is fit. I found nothing unusual, with one exception.” It was easier to say it in stages, rather
than to blurt it out.
“What is it?”
“Xenopolycythemia. It has no cure.” Saying it aloud made it all the more real, and it made bile rise in
“He has one year to live.” He couldn’t say it.
“Who is it?” Either Kirk knew or suspected it was the doctor, or he was worried it was himself.
McCoy swallowed the bile back down; here goes nothing. “The ship's Chief Medical Officer.” He didn’t
feel better for having said so.
“You.” There it was, the note of protective concern.
“I’ll be most effective on the job,
if you’ll keep this to yourself.” His expression was imploring; Kirk didn’t stand a chance. When was the
last time that McCoy had asked for something so important on his own behalf? Kirk felt he was entitled, and agreed. After
all, it was McCoy’s business, and he should be the one to tell Spock.
He should be the one, but the words never came.
He feigned ignorance around Spock, managing little excuses – he was tired, he was distracted, he would be fine.
McCoy was plagued by images of his father’s
slow burn, the degeneration of his illness, how he grew weaker each day, praying for death; how he had lost his life long
before the machines had been turned off. As much as McCoy wished to avoid that fate for himself, he desired even more to shield
Spock from taking on the role he had played for his father. He did not want Spock to watch him wither away. He would not let
it happen, even if he had to take an emergency leave near the end of it; they would make other arrangements.
A wrench was thrown into his plans when they encountered
the strange planet-shaped ship, Yonada. All had been fine until the landing party been attacked by the natives, brought before
a computer turned God – and McCoy had to wonder how many times this would happen in his life; he had already lost count
– and subsequently electrocuted. The three of them had lost consciousness. It was a miracle the regained it.
McCoy was last of all; he awoke to find Kirk beside
him and Spock leaning over him. For the sake of appearances, he began a cock and bull story about particular sensitivity to
their “magic spells,” when he realized that he was calmer than expected. He looked down, noticed for the first
time that Spock was holding his shoulder; that would explain it. The Vulcan’s expression held so many emotions: concern,
affection, mild chastisement, devotion. McCoy glanced at Kirk, who told him, “Spock knows.”
you, Jim Kirk. McCoy mentally sighed. It was for him to tell Spock, but he had done a damned poor job of it so far. The
Vulcan was reluctant to let him go now that the air had been cleared, and that solidified McCoy’s decision to spare
him this. The Vulcan’s expression told him that he would stay with him until the end, and McCoy simply couldn’t
let that happen.
The perfect opportunity presented itself when
the Princess Natira admitted to having feelings for him; he lied through his teeth when he said he returned them. He spoke
in the speculative sense, for he could grow fond of her, given the time. She asked
if he had a woman, and he spoke honestly that he did not. Moreover, in that instant, he ended his and Spock’s relationship,
because he couldn’t go back with him.
Better to stay here with her and slip away quietly.
2. Make a New Plan:
“What are you going to do when the mission
“I figure we’re going to finish up
those biochemistry papers we’ve been working on before publication, and then take some time off.” McCoy smiled
at the Vulcan beside him, before turning back to Uhura to discuss plans, great and small, for the end of their mission, which
loomed closer with each passing day.
McCoy had been doing that frequently, speaking
for them both, to discuss their plans. “Spock and I are going to go house
shopping,” or “I’m going to take Spock back to see what a real Georgian summer feels like,” or “Maybe
Spock and I will stop in on his parents and spend some time there, since they’ve reconciled.” That was only what
he said to other people.
When they were alone, it was “I found a
house that’s just perfect for us,” and “What do you think about teaching during the refit?” and “I
found a men’s group for hybrid couples; no, it’s a men’s group, so we won’t spend all of our time
sitting around discussing our feelings. I’m sure it’ll be educational, and we might meet some people who aren’t
in Starfleet. It’ll be good for us.”
McCoy was so talkative. It never ceased to astound Spock how he could have been aware of this for years, and yet was still
taken by surprise. The human never shut his mouth, and he was so full of plans, and ideas, when the mission would not end
for another month and a half.
Leonard McCoy was suffocating him.
It was perhaps an unfair thought in some respects;
after all, Vulcans were known for their consistency, and McCoy was hardly a dilettante. Their relationship had seemed stable
enough, and it was natural for McCoy to want to settle down. The doctor had plans for himself; he also desired to have Spock
beside him, and thus the two would overlap. In that regard, it was perfectly understandable.
However, Spock could not handle it. He had never
before understood the Captain’s casual attitude towards relationships before, not on a personal level. McCoy had explained
to him one night, after the disaster with Rayna, that Kirk was running from himself with each affair, that he was not naturally
promiscuous, and that in his younger days, he could have settled down and made a life with any of his girlfriends. When that
became impossible, he had settled for the comfort of a warm body and the affection that might come from a night or two or
three. Kirk used intimacy as a way of shielding himself from the feeling that something was missing.
When Spock had begun his relationship with McCoy,
he had never once considered it a casual fling. At the same time, he had been driven by the need which came from an attraction
of body and mind, and he had not taken the time to consider if, and how, it would end, or where it would lead. At the time,
it had seemed less important, since he had McCoy and that had been enough.
It was no longer enough; at the same time, it
was too much.
Just as the Captain was running from his sense
of incompletion, Spock felt that he might die from the overwhelming sense that he had a place in the universe, and it was
not in Leonard McCoy’s bed.
Coming to that conclusion was easier than expressing
it. He had yet to conceive of a way to tell McCoy that he needed to discover himself, that he required peace and solitude,
without the revelation offending the human, wounding him, or some combination of the two. He might want to leave, but he had
no desire to hurt the other man.
Instead, he spent each passing day solidifying
his plan; in the end, there was only one: Kohlinahr. It would help him evaluate this sense of longing, and he would either
come to understand, master, and obliterate it, or he would make a valiant effort. From there, his options were limitless.
He made arrangements without saying a word.
News had broken regardless of his silence; it
was difficult to hide that he had not taken another assignment and had planned to return to Vulcan. From there, McCoy had
made short work of contacting his mother –they had been close since the Babel conference, and she had given him enough
information to get him started; it appeared his human lover had researched the rest himself.
McCoy’s eyes blazed with anger when he entered
the human’s quarters as requested. “How could you?” There was the hurt he had hoped to avoid. By leaving
no room for discussion, he hoped that the
“I do not need to explain myself to you,
Leonard, nor do I need to justify my decisions or consult you when making them. We are grown men, and it is my life. It is
what I must do.”
McCoy frowned, his face hardened in disbelief.
“What about our other plans? What about us?”
“We no longer work.” It was a neutral,
honest response. It was the diplomatic response. Judging by McCoy’s expression, it was the wrong response.
“Thanks for telling me,” the sarcasm
in his voice was so thick that the most sheltered Vulcan would take notice. “How much sex were we having out of obligation?”
He paused, “Don’t answer that; I don’t want to know.”
“Don’t! If you want out of here so
bad, then just leave. Spare me Vulcan platitudes, and don’t you dare try to calm me because I’ve gotten too emotional.”
Spock considered what he could say and came up
short. He left the human’s quarters. A week later, he left the ship for Vulcan, keen to find what he needed and to put
the rest behind him.
3. Drop Off the Key:
Khan was a man driven by desperation and the strongest
desire for vengeance seen in the 23rd Century. He was also the pinnacle of human evolution – artificially
induced by 20th Century genetic engineering; rendering him one of Nietzsche’s much desired supermen. Years
of harsh life in the wilderness of Ceti Alpha V had served to further tone his muscles, his instincts, and his strong emotions.
If he put his mind to any particular task, success was inevitable. And he desired the destruction of the Enterprise and her
They were all going to die. The engines had broken;
they were dead in the water, and there was a potential radiation leak that would surely kill anyone who managed to survive
the onslaught Khan had planned for them. There was little that could be done, particularly now that their one and only miracle
worker Commander Scott was unconscious from physical trauma.
Leonard McCoy and James Kirk had spent too many
hours teaching Spock how to play poker for the Vulcan to give up that easily. The situation was hopeless as far as humans
were concerned; fortunately, Khan knew nothing about Vulcan physiology, Vulcan persistence, and the primal urge for a Vulcan
to protect his mate. Spock would save the ship, one way or another.
While Kirk was engaged in a last battle of wills
with the madman, the Vulcan slipped out the back of the bridge and made his way to engineering.
Just as Khan had underestimated the will and capabilities
of the Enterprise crew and the Vulcan race, Spock had underestimated the will and perceptive skills of Leonard McCoy. In retrospect,
it was foolish of him to think he could simply enter the chamber without protest; McCoy would hardly be McCoy if he allowed
that to happen. “Are you out of your Vulcan mind? No human can tolerate the radiation that’s in there!”
Spock belatedly realized that he had been preparing
for this argument his entire life. “As you are so fond of pointing out, Doctor, I am not human.” He owed McCoy
one appeal to his sense of reason.
“You’re not going in there!”
It was a final protest, the equivalent of him putting his foot down. In one way, it was endearing that he cared so deeply;
in a more pressing way, it was irritating, more than that, it was a liability. Spock had to change tactics.
“Perhaps you are right.” It was the
easiest way to set McCoy off-balance, by initially conceding the matter. All he had to do now was distract him. “What
is Mister Scott’s condition?”
“Well, I don’t think that he’ll-”
His mate, ever the concerned physician, had taken the bait. Spock did not let him finish the sentence; instead, he cut him
off with a nerve pinch.
As he eased McCoy’s body to the floor, the
human half-wakeful, he explained, “I apologize, Doctor, but I don’t have time to discuss this logically.”
It was the truth, in its entirety: he did apologize, both for the necessity and the action itself; and there was no other
option, and time was quickly running out; he had no time to discuss the matter, much as he would like to.
With McCoy safely out of harm’s way, he
grabbed Scott’s gloves from his hands; they would hardly save his life – and he knew he would have to give it
for the others to live –but it would provide minimal protection. As a Vulcan, his most prized physical attribute had
always been his hands.
Before he entered the chamber, he realized that
this might be the only goodbye he could give to McCoy; he likely would not see him again. Whether humans had the same afterlife
as Vulcans remained to be seen, as his mother would be the test subject there. He owed McCoy more than a nerve pinch as parting.
Kneeling beside the human’s unconscious form, he created the link, and placed that bit of himself in the other man’s
mind, “Remember.” When his body died, his katra would seek the home created in McCoy’s mind. That would
have to suffice, as there was nothing else that could be done. If he had to leave, best that he left some part of him behind
With that, he stepped into the chamber, prepared
for the task ahead and a hero’s death.