Lapses III

A/N: Story starts two minutes after the ending of Lapses II and just prior to the start of TOS episode, “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky.”  Story continues through the episode and picks up after the final scene.  If you haven’t watched the episode in a while I highly suggest at least reading the synopsis prior to this story.  Lapses I and Lapses II are integral to the plot, so this does not stand alone.  These were published in previous Spiced Peaches issues and I have them archived on my account under saavik13. 


Special thanks to my beta Stephanie for all her hard work correcting my horrible punctuation and grammar mistakes. 


-------------------Lapses II Ending ----------------------


"Sample analyzation complete. Xenopolycythemia confirmed."

The computer's mechanical voice echoed in the empty medical bay and McCoy's blood ran cold.

-------------------Two minutes later ----------------------


“Are you quite alright, doctor?”


Spock’s calm voice shook McCoy out of his thoughts.  Out of habit, he waved the Vulcan into his office.  “Have a seat, Spock.  What can I do for you?”


Spock’s eyebrow raised as he lowered himself into the offered chair.  “Do for me?” Spock paused before a look of concern settled over his features.  “Forgive me, Leonard, but...” Spock trailed off then dipped his head, his eyes leaving the doctor and settling on the floor.  “I thought I detected a change in your mood indicative of distress.  I must have been mistaken.”


McCoy frowned, the use of his first name- such a rare occurrence-  revealing how serious Spock thought the situation was and without even knowing the cause.  “You felt that, felt me, all the way on the bridge?”


Spock shifted slightly in his chair, his face falling back into the ultra Vulcan lines that indicated he was stressed.  “Since your participation in the Comforting I have been more aware of you than I would consider normal, even given our previously, by Vulcan standards, close relationship.  I have attempted to keep my trespasses to a minimum, but the strength of your reaction was enough that I did not think it wise to ignore.  I did not mean to intrude.”


“Heck, Spock, you can’t intrude.  Not on me,” McCoy shook his head and grimaced.  “I’m sorry I disturbed you!  I’m still getting used to the idea that your abilities are so much more than the mind meld alone and what few conversations we’ve had since the whole Comforting situation, well, I’m just sorry you’re so psychically attuned to me.  It can’t be easy for you but you’re not invading my privacy at all so stop worrying about it.  I’m an emotional roller coaster on the best of days and today,” McCoy sighed.  “It’s...” he swallowed heavily.  “I had a bit of bad news just now.”


Spock’s eyebrow ascended back into his hair line. “I thought you were finishing the routine crew examinations prior to our rotation at Starbase 11?”


“I am.”  McCoy stood up abruptly and poured himself a large shot of whiskey, knocking it back in one go.  “That’s the problem.”


“There is an issue with a crewmen?” Spock asked softly then shook his head.  “You cannot tell me. It would violate your medical oath.” Spock frowned slightly.  “You have not had a chance to inform the crew member in question or the captain, have you?”


“Only finished the analysis about two minutes before you walked in,  McCoy took another shot before collapsing back in his chair.  “It’s not good.”


“Indeed. That much is obvious,” Spock hesitated.  “You seem to be taking this news especially hard.”


“It’s,” McCoy swallowed.  “It’s close to home, Spock.”


“You would tell me if it was the captain or I.”  Spock jerked slightly, his eyes widening in realization.  “What is wrong, Leonard?”


“Figured out that much?”  McCoy sighed.  “I’m not ready just yet, Spock. Can I,” McCoy closed his eyes for a moment. “Can you give me a little time to process before I actually have to say it out loud?”


“Your behavior is highly concerning.” Spock moved closer, his hand hesitantly moving to cover the doctor’s.  “I do not wish to press you, my friend, but whatever is wrong, I ask you not to attempt to carry the burden alone.  I do not know how much you understand or have been told, but you are as a brother to me.  I feel your pain.”


“Spock,” McCoy’s voice cracked.  “I just can’t...not yet.”  McCoy turned his hand until it rested palm up under Spock’s, his fingers unconsciously grabbing onto the Vulcan’s for support.  “I’ve got to finish the official paperwork and Christine is going to see it and I have to tell Jim.  I just,” McCoy turned his face away.  “This is going to be so hard, Spock.  Telling them will be bad enough but...”  McCoy cursed as his eyes started to water and he blinked hard to clear them. “I know I’m going to hurt you and I don’t want to think about it.  You don’t deserve this.  Hell, I promised your mother I wouldn’t abandon you and...”  He trailed off again, his eyes closed to keep his emotions at least somewhat in check.


Spock’s breath hitched.  “You speak as though...”  Spock trailed off, his hand gripping tightly.  “You have been unwell of late.  The cause is not something that can be cured on the Enterprise,” Spock stated, his voice carefully controlled.




“You will have to leave.”


McCoy’s voice faltered. “Yes.”


“Against your will.”




Spock moved closer again until this time their knee’s brushed.  “You are worried that I will not fare well in your absence.”


“You already said it would be hard on you, when the mission ends.” McCoy looked up and into the dark eyes of his friend. “And I’m going to have to end mine early.”


“Your health is most important.” Spock released a slow breath.  “You must see to it.  Do not concern yourself with my reaction, Leonard.”


“It’s my job to worry about you.  Who’ll do it if I’m not here?”


“I will have to see to myself.” Spock gave a small shrug.  “It will not be the first time.”  His mouth quirked ever so slightly.  “For now I must return to the bridge.  We detected several slow moving objects headed in our direction.  I must be at my station when they reach our position.  Will we discuss this after my shift?”


“You deserve an explanation.”  McCoy hesitated, still clutching Spock’s hand.  “Christine is going to find out before the end of shift - she’s already entering the official crew results into record.  I wanted to tell you first but,” he looked away.  “I just can’t say it yet and it’s going to take longer than we have for me to get it out.”


Spock’s hand gave a twitch.  “I believe you are frightening me, Leonard.”


“Because I’m scared myself, Spock.”


“Leonard,” Spock began but the sharp shrill of the intercom cut him off.


“Mr. Spock to the bridge.  Unidentified objects entering visual range.”


“I must go.”


“I know.”  McCoy let go of his hand, noticing that Spock seemed to reach back for him ever so slightly.  “My mother always said that bad news can wait.”


Spock frowned. “My mother always says that it is good news that can wait and that bad will insist on being heard.”


“Go on, Spock.  I promise I’ll still be here after shift.”


“I have your word?”


“That at least I can promise you,” McCoy smiled softly. “Assuming those unidentified objects don’t kill us that is.”


“Then I will endeavor to see that they do not.”


-------------  Later, back on the Enterprise after leaving Yonada ----------


They beamed back to the ship with the medical records in tow.  Spock had found something, perhaps a cure, and was busy making calculations.  He hurried out of the transporter room without a word to either the doctor or the captain. 


Jim turned to Bones and shrugged.  “You know him. He’s on the trail of something. We’d better just stay out of his way or he’ll run us over.”


“Yeah,” McCoy sighed wearily.  “I think I’m going to go grab some shut eye, Jim.  I,” McCoy shook his head. “I need a little time, Jim.”


The captain frowned.  “I’d think you might.  Do you need some company?  I can rustle up a bottle of the good stuff and meet you in your quarters.”


“I think I’d prefer to drink alone.” McCoy forced a smile for his friend’s sake.  “Go on, Jim.  I know you’ve got to call Star Fleet and try to explain this mess.  Better make it quick. They probably already dispatched another ship to blow the Yonada to bits.  We don’t want all our hard work being for nothing if those paper pushers get trigger happy.”


“Bones,” Jim started but faltered at the weary set to the doctor’s shoulders.  “Alright.  But you set one foot in sickbay as anything other than a patient and I’m personally strapping you to your own exam table, mister.”


“Aye, Captain.” McCoy gave a half-hearted salute.  Jim beamed back at him and McCoy took that as his cue to escape.  He made it to the turbolift before his exhaustion caught up to him and he slumped into the wall, barely able to turn the handle and call out his deck. 


Somehow he dragged himself back to his quarters and into his bed before the last 24 hours came crashing down on him.  He was dying. He was getting married.  He was dying again, only more quickly.  Spock was saving him.  Natira was divorcing him.  Spock was possibly finding the cure.  Even without the terminal disease it was enough to make his head spin.


He was just starting to drift off when his comm blared at him.  He stumbled to the table, knocking over a stack of datacards in the process.  “What!?” he growled as he slammed his hand into the red “on” button.


Spock’s image appeared, eyebrow raised.  “What is a cure, doctor.  At least I believe it to be.”


“Already?” McCoy rubbed tiredly at his eyes.  “Can’t you at least pretend to have to think about it?  Take a while to translate it or something?  It’s in a dead language for chrissake!”


“You wish to retain a terminal illness?” Spock asked, his tone indicating he clearly thought his friend had lost his mind.


“Only long enough to get some sleep!” McCoy bellowed.  “Damn it, Spock, I’ve been electrocuted, stuck in the head with some kind of mind control thingy, electrocuted again, and then almost cooked to death.  Can I at least grab a power nap before you start in on me?”


“No,” Spock’s voice was hard and McCoy’s head snapped up.  “Nurse Chapel is currently synthesizing the first dose.  It will remain viable for only a few minutes. It must be administered quickly.  Unfortunately, it is only the first of many.  The treatment course is grueling and will be painful.” Spock paused, his eyes softening and his tone losing the harsh edge.  “It is best if we begin as soon as possible, doctor.  The Fabrini files indicate that the longer the disease is present, the more difficult the cure and your internal organs will sustain increased damage. The cure only stops the spread of the xenopolycythemia, it cannot undo damage already caused.”


“Fine,” McCoy ran a shaky hand through his hair.  “I’ll meet you in my office.  We can go over the details there and I’ll be on hand for when she’s done.  No point in delaying the inevitable, I suppose.”


McCoy flipped the viewer off and took a moment to pull on a clean set of rec clothes.  He rarely wore anything other than his medical science uniform, but at the thought of a long, drawn out, course of painful injections, he figured the softer material of the workout clothes would be a benefit.


When he finally made it to his office, Spock was waiting, his back turned to the door.


McCoy sighed,  “I’m sorry.”


Spock stiffened, his back still turned.  “For what, doctor?”


McCoy cringed.  “For everything.  You’re my friend, Spock.  What happened, it wasn’t how I wanted you to find out.  And then everything went crazy and I made that bargain with Natira to get you two back to the ship.  I mean, I only had a year.  My life for yours wasn’t a bad deal but we didn’t have time to even say goodbye.”


“Doctor, there is no need for apologies.  Your actions were logical once it became clear why you accepted her offer.”  Spock still hadn’t turned around.  “You saved our lives.”


“Damn it, Spock!  Look at me when I’m talkin’ to you!” McCoy snapped.  “This ain’t about logic, you green blooded hobgoblin!  What the hell happened to the concerned friend you were yesterday?  Summon that man back so I can have a decent conversation!”


Spock turned, his eyes downcast.  He slowly sank into the office chair, his hands coming to rest clasped in his lap.  “My apologies.”


“Damn it!” McCoy muttered as he lowered himself into the opposite chair.  “Christine is going to finish synthesizing that compound you cooked up from the Fabrini databanks and I’ll be out of commission for the couple of weeks it takes to finish the treatments.  If we don’t talk about this now, by the time I’m capable of having another discussion like this, we’ll pretend it didn’t happen and that it doesn’t matter.  I know it matters, Spock. I saw the look on your face after Jim told you.  I saw your eyes when you left me on the surface.  Hell, I saw them when I woke up after you took that damn obedience chip out of my brain.  I know I hurt you.  I don’t need to be a telepath to have picked up that much.”


“It is of no concern,” Spock replied softly.  “My ways are not your ways.”


“Exactly my point!”  McCoy pounded his fist on the table and flinched when he saw Spock give a small jump at the noise.  “Jesus boy, you’re wound tighter than a spring.  I’m more of a bastard than I thought.”


“Leonard,” Spock finally looked up.  “Why did you not tell me?”


“Because I couldn’t,” McCoy sighed.  “Look, I don’t know what’s going on with us, Spock.  I just know something is.  It’s been building for a while now and it was pretty obvious on Vulcan.  You kept seeking me out.  Even the healers were commenting on it and your mother has her own theories. But the long and short of it was pretty obvious.  Whatever you call it, you’re attached to me.  And goddamn it, next to my daughter you’re the person I’m closest to in the universe.  I didn’t want to hurt you.”


McCoy moved his chair closer to Spock’s and put a hand softly on his arm.  Spock shivered and quickly covered it with his own.  “I’d just found out I was dying, Spock.  Not two minutes later you burst in here and tell me you felt my distress.  Do you know the first thing I thought of when that computer spit out the test results?”  Spock shook his head. “I’d promised your mother that if you ever needed me, really needed me like you did during the Comforting, or even just to talk, or anything else within my power, that I’d be there.  I promised I wouldn’t abandon you.  That computer’s mechanical voice said one word and it all crashed.  And I thought, I’m breaking my promise.” McCoy caught Spock’s eye and held his gaze firm.  “I didn’t think about the fact that I was dying. I didn’t think about Joanna or Jim or the Enterprise.  My one thought was that I was leaving you and that while Jim’s a good friend to you, he’s never been there for you the way you need.  I was going to die and you’d be without the closest thing you’ve ever known to the kind of bond most Vulcans see as integral to life. And while I know it’s not the same, I know that right now, whatever it is I do for you, it’s all you’ve got.”




“Let me finish.” McCoy grimaced.  “I couldn’t put that in words, not that quickly.   I’m sorry.  I didn’t want you to find out from someone else.”


“I know.”  Spock shifted until he was holding McCoy’s hand firmly, palm to palm.  “I knew the moment Jim said the words that you’d been trying to tell me.  You are correct, there was not enough time.” Spock hesitated.  “What I did not understand was why you remained on Yonada.  Your bargain with Natira could have been easily broken once we were on the surface.”


McCoy cringed and moved to pull away but Spock kept a firm grip and the doctor finally went limp and let his hand stay clutched in the Vulcan’s.  “You would have insisted on staying with me, through the pain and the loss of function.  Once you knew what was going on, that I was dying, you’d have insisted on taking a leave of absence and being with me. I know you, Spock.  You’d never let a friend die alone – hell, you won’t let a stranger die alone.  And Jim wasn’t going to let me stay on the Enterprise.  He’d already informed Star Fleet and asked for my replacement.  He knew how much pain I was going to be in and he wanted me to take it easy with the time I had left.  So in order to stay with me you’d have had to leave the ship. And...” McCoy swallowed heavily.  “Spock, it would have killed you to be in contact with me as I slowly and painfully lost my life.  Don’t even try and deny it.”


“I would not have let you die alone.”


“I believe I said that,” McCoy smiled softly.  “But I couldn’t let you put yourself through that.  It’d be bad enough if you were human, but for you to touch me like this during it, with your abilities? God, Spock, I can't imagine that.  You’d have lost your mind too.”


Spock’s face hardened. “It was not your choice to make.  You took my options from me, Doctor. It is my right to see to my,” Spock’s voice shook “my friend. My t'hai'lu.


“Your brother.” McCoy translated in a soft voice.  “But it’s not just that, is it?”


“No,” Spock acknowledged in a small voice.  “I am not sure what it is.”


“What do you want from me, Spock?”


“This.” Spock raised their joined hands. “This is what I require. You sought to rob me of it when it would have been my last chance to experience it.”


McCoy started to respond but the quiet sound of Christine clearing her throat behind him stopped the words from coming. Spock, surprisingly, didn’t let go of his hand, instead using his grip to pull the doctor to his feet.


“It is time,” Spock said softly.


McCoy nodded and allowed himself to be led to one of the biobeds.  He shook his head at Christine’s questioning look.  If Spock wanted to hold his hand then he wasn’t about to tell the man no.  Not after all that had happened.


-------two weeks later -------


The treatment worked.  McCoy grunted to himself as he entered his quarters.  Of course it worked.  Spock had found it, altered it, and calculated the dosages. 


Which meant he was going to live. 


McCoy looked around his quarters and sighed.  He was going to live and that meant he was going to have to finish that conversation with Spock.  They’d only just gotten to the part that really needed saying when Christine had interrupted with the first dose.  The next few days were a blur of pain and fever as the cure wound through his system.  He knew Spock had stayed by his side the entire time.  When the pain had reached the point where he’d wished for death just to make it stop, Spock had touched him and things had just sort of calmed.  Spock had blocked a great deal of it from the doctor’s mind. 


Christine had noticed.  So had Jim.  They both had looked questioningly back and forth between the doctor and the Vulcan, but McCoy hadn’t had any answers for them.  He still didn’t know what it was exactly, what they were to each other.  Neither did Spock, or at least that was the impression he’d left during their brief conversation in the time between returning from the Yonada and Christine synthesizing the cure.


Spock had acknowledged the brother bond, something he’d never done before. 


McCoy sat down heavily on his bed.  He was still drained from the entire experience and had taken himself off duty for the next couple days to try and get some rest.  The cure might have worked but it had been exhausting.  He closed his eyes and laid back.


“You do not look well, Leonard.”


McCoy jumped and turned to find Spock standing next to the metal divider between the bedroom and the small sitting area.  “What the hell!  Spock, when did you come in?”


“I was waiting for you.” Spock gestured to the chair that was half hidden behind the divider and the stack of books McCoy had piled on the shelf.  “I am sorry to intrude but I wished to make sure you were alright after you checked yourself out of sickbay.”  Spock quirked his eyebrow.  “You are always insisting that the captain and I remain in your care in sickbay during convalesces, however unnecessary.  Since you do not appear capable of following your own advice, I thought it best if I were to monitor you.”


“I can damn well take care of myself.  I’m a doctor.”


“There are moments where I question both,” Spock shot back, moving the chair next to the bed.  “You are cured but you are not recovered.”


“I’m just tired, Spock.  If I stayed in sickbay I’d end up working.  Christine and M'Benga can do a damn fine job without me, but if I’m there I’m going to be looking over their shoulders and end up dragged into surgery or something.” McCoy sighed. “Don’t you have better things to do? You spent the last two weeks babysitting me. I can’t imagine how much paperwork you’ve got backed up.”


“It is taken care of.” Spock relaxed back into the chair.  “Sulu has been handling much of ship’s business for me and Chekov has been seeing to the Sciences.  I have more than enough personal time.  Since the captain is constantly complaining that I need to use it, I took the opportunity.” Spock’s mouth quirked. “You are doing me a favor, Leonard.  The longer you take to recover, the more time I use up and thus there is less chance that Jim will drag me on some unnecessarily risky shoreleave.”


McCoy snorted.  “Drag us, you mean.  That last trip was just ridiculous!  He didn’t even bother asking if we wanted to go diving with those shark things!”


“They were not sharks, doctor, but articulated hump finned vetrocularisx.”


“Well they looked like orange sharks.” McCoy muttered darkly.  “And they had teeth like sharks.”


“I was more concerned about being weighted down and forced to breathe air through a tube while under several meters of water.”  Spock gave a small nearly invisible shudder.  “I do not like water.”


McCoy chuckled. “Yeah, I figured as much.  Tried to talk him out of it.”


“Jim is at times a child.  He enjoys his amusements.”  Spock’s expression turned serious. “He questioned me about what is taking place here.”


“What did you tell him?”


“The truth.  I do not know.” Spock stood up quickly, turning around to face away from the bed, his hands clasped behind his back.  “There is a bond.  That much I believe neither of us can deny.”


“I’d say that’s pretty clear,” McCoy agreed.  “But from what I was told, it can mean a lot of different things.”


“My mother talks too much.”


“She’s worried.”  McCoy sat up and moved to lean against the headboard.  “Look, Spock, I’m trying to keep an open mind and to understand what’s going on.  But you’re gonna have to walk the human through this.  I can’t feel this bond, wouldn’t even know it’s there unless you told me or did something.  This is your doing and I need you to talk about it.”


“Yes, it is my fault.” Spock’s head dropped.  “I am sorry.”


“Oh hell,”  McCoy frowned.  “I wasn’t blamin’ you!  I’m not mad at you, you godforsaken idiot.”


Spock’s hand twitched.  “You are yelling.”


“Damn right I’m yelling!”  McCoy made to stand up but a wave of dizziness forced him back down onto the bed.  “Spock, sit your Vulcan ass down. I’m in no condition to go over there to slap you.  I need you within reach.”


Spock obediently sat down. “It is your right.”


“Stop it.” McCoy half heartedly slapped his friend’s knee.  “This isn’t something you need to feel guilty about.  Just explain it to me. I’m an old country doctor, Spock.  Telepathic bonds are sort of uncharted territory.”


Spock hesitated.  “There is no human equivalent for this.”


“So you’re gonna have to be patient,” McCoy shrugged.  “Explain as best you can.  I’ll listen and ask questions.  Then, I’ll try and state it back, just to be sure.”


“They use this method of instruction at the academy.”


McCoy smirked.  “Hell, Spock, I did go to school, too.  Bound to have picked up something.”


Spock sighed, “Very well.”  He lowered his eyes, his fingers steepled in front of him.  “There are several forms of telepathic bond that are commonplace on Vulcan.  The most familiar to you would be the semi-bond I had with T-Pring, which, had matters progressed as planned, would have led to a marriage bond.  These mating bonds have varying levels but the most notable distinction is that they are normally forged in childhood by outside intervention and then mature after the consummation of the marriage.”


Spock shifted slightly in his seat.  “There are also bonds between family members.  Parents share slight bonds with their children, the purpose of which is to insure their safety and well being.  As the child ages these bonds weaken.  By adulthood, they are almost nonexistent.  In my case, this process was greatly accelerated.  Father damped my bond to mother when I was an infant.  My bond with father had weakened to the point where he no longer could locate me by the time I was seven.”


McCoy frowned. “So you didn’t have either parental bond growing up?”


“Affirmative.” Spock dropped his hands into his lap.  “There was a,” Spock frowned slightly, searching for the right word.  “There was a traumatic family event shortly after my Kahs-wan.  I did not agree with the decisions of my elders and the force of my conviction was enough that I managed to sever the parental bond with my father in retaliation. It was not my proudest moment,” Spock’s voice grew quiet.  “I hurt him greatly by my childish action.  The healer could not repair the bond; in my untrained anger I would not allow it.  Even then my abilities were significant.”


“I didn’t know the rift between you went that far back.” 


“We eventually compromised.” Spock gave a small shrug.  “But things were never the same.  The only familial bond I retained was a light link to T-Larna. I believe the human word for her would be nanny?”  At McCoy’s nod Spock continued.  “An artificial bond had been created between us to help her in her role. To this day, I maintain a light link with her, but it was never as strong as a child/parent bond.”


Spock moved again, this time seeming to pull more into himself.  “The last kind of bond are the chosen bonds.  We do not conceive of friendship the same way as humans.” Spock frowned slightly. “To be a friend is to be, in essence, family.  When someone is considered such, a willing bond is forged.  I had not intended this to take place with you and Jim.  The fact that my grasp of mind arts extends beyond touch telepathy is likely to blame.  Since I have no other bonds to fall back on, I instinctually formed bonds of friendship with you.  During the last few weeks, I have examined these bonds carefully during meditation.  It would appear that I have a particularly strong bond with you, a slightly less developed bond with Jim, and smaller, almost insignificant in comparison, bonds with Chekov and Uhura.”


McCoy nodded.  “It would make sense. You went to the academy with Uhura and Chekov’s been like a protegee.  You’ve spend the most time with them both.   So these willing bonds are just how you lot express friendship?”


“Yes.” Spock stood up abruptly.  “And no.  As I said, it is not only a matter of friendship.  By Vulcan rite and law anyone with whom I forge such a bond is considered part of my family and clan.  Pre-reform such bonds were commonly created on purpose between allies to cement loyalty.”


“Like an oath of homage, only with a mental connection.”  McCoy shrugged. “But that’s the lightest kind, right?  Not what we’re talking about here.”


“No.”  Spock kept his back turned, his arms once again falling into parade rest behind him.  “No, we are not.  The deeper form, the brother bond called t'hai'lu, is what I share with you and the captain.  It is, as the name would imply, equivalent to the bond between biological siblings - strong and painful to break.”


“Who said anything about breaking it?”


Spock waved a hand in dismissal.  “An observation, doctor.  Unless you or the captain object I have no intention of trying to dissolve the bonds.  I do not know what it would do to either of you, but I do not relish the thought of experiencing such a thing again.”


“You’re still leaving something out.”


“There is a chance,” Spock put one hand out to the wall, as if he could somehow draw strength from the bulkhead. “Or rather, there is a good possibility, that what you and I share is even deeper than t'hai'lu.”


“Your mother called it something like a thela or something like that?”


“T’hy’la,” Spock corrected quietly.  “A rare bond.”


McCoy made another move to stand up, but Spock caught the movement and quickly sprang to push him back down. McCoy glared, but accepted the restraint only when Spock again resumed his seat.  “Do I need to ask your intentions, Spock?”


“Only to have you healthy, Leonard,”  Spock sighed.  “I assume my mother told you that t’hy’la bonds can take many forms.”  McCoy nodded.  “I assure you I have no sexual intentions towards you at this time.”


“At this time?”  McCoy frowned.  “Does that mean what it sounds like?”


“It means I do not know what will happen in the future.” Spock’s eyes darkened.  “T’hy’la bonds in and of themselves do not require a physical aspect, but my biology does require at least one bond with such provisions.  Since I do not have a marriage bond, that leaves only those forged in friendship.  If I still do not have a marriage bond when my next Time arrives I will likely be drawn to the bond of the greatest strength.”


“The one you have with me.”


“You are correct.”


McCoy shifted.  “So, ah, what do you want to do about this?”


Spock’s eyebrow rose. “You are being remarkably calm about this.”


“Hell, it’s mildly flattering, to tell you the truth,” McCoy smirked.  “But I’d rather you get to experience the real deal rather than the runner up.”


“I do not understand your meaning.”


“You’re missing out on something by not having a marriage bond, am I correct?”  Spock nodded yes and McCoy smiled softly.  “I hate to have you miss out on something so important to a Vulcan.  I’m glad you’ve got Jim and me as your friends, bond or not, but we can’t replace that in your life.  If it comes down to it, I’m here for you if you need me, but I’d hate you to have to settle for that.”


“The prospect of sexual intercourse does not disturb you?”


McCoy choked out a laugh. “Hell Spock, I’m more flexible than I look.”


“You were just married.  To a woman.  I had assumed that you and the captain were both...” Spock trailed off.


“Jim’s as straight as an arrow, I’ll give you that.  I’ve never thought it was a one or the other proposition myself.”  McCoy shrugged.  “I tend to shy towards women for relationships just because it’s easier.  Get two men together long term and there’s more to work out - too much testosterone in one place or something - I always end up fighting with them constantly until the relationship explodes.  Plus ‘fleet’s still not all that welcoming to those of us equal opportunity folks.”


Spock’s frowned deepened.  “But you still wish for me to find a female?”


“I still wish for you to be happy, or whatever the hell passes for that in your green blooded brain,” McCoy snapped.  “If I thought you’d honestly wanted something with me we could discuss it.  But you don’t want that kind of relationship, not right now.  I’m human, Spock.  There’s a lot of stuff that goes along with a romantic relationship with a human.  Stuff you don’t want to deal with.  And I can’t just fuck you once every seven years and go my way - not unless it was only about your survival.  And if we did that we’d be cheating both of us out of the chance at more.”


Spock regarded him silently for a long moment.  “For once I find you have reached a logical conclusion.”


“Damn right,”  McCoy muttered and fumbled with the hard regulation pillow on the bed trying to get more comfortable as he leaned against the wall.  “Now, since we both actually agree on something, what do we plan on doing about it?”


“Doing?” Spock quirked an eyebrow.  “Elaborate.”


McCoy rolled his eyes.  “Finding you a happily ever after you can live with.”


Spock’s eyebrow slowly descended.  “That is quite possibly a task of monumental proportions.”  He looked away again, staring at the picture of Joanna that was sitting on the shelf above the bed.  “You have been married twice.”


“Hell, the second one doesn’t really count.  Natira was a good kid but the entire thing was more about her wanting to know about other worlds than a marriage.”


Spock frowned slightly.  “But you plan to be there when Yonada lands.”


McCoy snorted.  “Yes, because she’s going to need help.  All those people are going to need to adjust to the reality that they’ve lived on a space ship and now they have a new world to colonize.  Plus, they’re going to be in Federation space and the world is currently a prospect for colonization by a joint venture group.  The Yonada is likely going to have to share their new home-world and petition for Federation acknowledgement.  Natira isn’t going to be able to handle the entire Federation machine that’s gonna land on her head all by herself.  I know they’ll send an ambassador and first contact team, but we both know that as far as first contact teams go, the actual first contact person better be there or you’re starting from scratch.”


“I see.”  Spock’s frowned deepened.  “So you do not intend to remain her husband?”


“No.  She and I did discuss this, you know.  I warned her she was making too fast a decision and she realized that by the time we left.  She’s not ready to try and lead her people and negotiate the cultural chasm that we’d have as a couple.  Besides, I committed the ultimate sacrilege and even if she knows it was necessary, and ended up doing it herself, the entire thing made her realize how different we are.  Plus, the marriage was annulled as soon as you took that thing out of my head.”


“Humans are so,” Spock shook his head.  “You are so quick to go from mate to mate.  How do you manage this?”


“I didn’t ‘mate’ with her, Spock.  She stuck that thing in my head, I figured out what the Oracle was, I called you guys, and that was the end of it.  Ran out of time for the hanky panky.  Shame really,”  McCoy smirked.  “I’ve been on a bit of a dry run lately.”


“That is not the point.  You formed a relationship with her and then discarded her.”


McCoy let out a slow breath.  “I didn’t have a relationship with her, that’s the point.  If I had I probably wouldn’t be here at the moment.”


“But you had another wife, before Star Fleet. Did you not have a relationship with her?”


McCoy pinched the bridge of his nose, “Spock, where are you going with this?”


Spock regarded him with open curiosity.  “I am half-human.  There were very few Vulcan families that would consent to a match with me when I was a child. I doubt this has changed now that I am an adult.  My options, therefore, for a Vulcan wife are limited.  Logically, that would leave me the option of a human mate.  As you have stated, there are emotional considerations in such a mating that I am not prepared for.  I will not be prepared unless someone educates me.”


“Talk to your mother.”


“My mother,” Spock’s mouth quirked slightly, “is surprising Vulcan at times, Doctor.  There is a reason she married my father.  She prefers the simplicity of the Vulcan way when it comes to relationships of this nature.”


McCoy snorted.  “She's in love with your father, Spock.  Simplicity was not on her mind.”  The doctor shook his head.  “And how does my failed marriage play into this anyway?”


“There is no divorce on Vulcan.”  Spock’s eyes hardened.  “The only equivalent you have witnessed already.  I do not relish the thought of entering a relationship with a human only to find myself ‘divorced’ in either the human or the Vulcan fashion.  Either would be highly painful.”


“That’s an understatement.  There were times when I wished my ex had killed me, it would have been less painful than watching her take our daughter and run.”  McCoy reached for his daughter’s picture and held it out to Spock. “That’s my little girl.  Her name’s Joanna.”


“I had assumed she was a relation.” Spock took the picture slowly.  “I did not know if it was your daughter or your ex-wife.”


McCoy snorted.  “My ex never smiled like that. Should have been my first clue she was a succubus.”  McCoy took the photo back.  “This was Joanna’s graduation picture, right before she left for her field work.”


“You were married young?”


“Not really.”  McCoy smiled at the picture before placing it back on the shelf behind him.  “I’m just old, Spock.  That’s not just a line.  I lived an entire life before I put on this uniform.  After the divorce, Joanna went with her mother and I didn’t have anything left to tie me to Earth.  I couldn’t take being so alone.  ‘Fleet gave me a way out.”


Spock nodded.  “Your daughter was already grown then?”


“She was in high school when I shipped out.  I took leave to go back for her college graduation and took that photo.  We talk, now and then, but she’s always been more her mother’s daughter than mine.  She blames me for the divorce and she’s probably right. I’ve always had my head more in my work than in my personal life.”


“It makes you a good doctor,” Spock admitted quietly.  “I am sorry for your loss.”


McCoy waved off the concern.  “Not a loss, Spock.  Not really.  Joanna was well on her way to being her own woman before I left.  She was leaving for school anyway and she didn’t want me ‘smothering’ her anymore.  I may have been a might overprotective now and then.”


“Really?” Spock raised an eyebrow.  “One would never have imagined.”


“Funny. Real funny,” McCoy glared. “We should never have taught you about humor.”


“Too late now.” Spock let a tiny smirk fleet across his expression.  “What is done cannot be undone.”


“Cute.” McCoy smacked his knee soundly.  “So, are we alright?  You and me?”


“Of course,” Spock tilted his head in question.  “Why would we not be?”


“I ran off with a woman in a skimpy dress the first chance I got after hearing about this bond thing from your mother?”


Spock frowned slightly.  “You thought you were dying and attempted to spare me pain.  How is this a negative?”


“For a second there I forgot you’re Vulcan.” McCoy muttered.  At Spock’s questioning look McCoy reached out and squeezed his knee. “If you were human you’d be mighty angry with me right now.”

“We are not in a committed relationship.  Even with the bond we are both free to procure sexual relationships with outside parties.” Spock stated, his eyebrow raised. 


“I know.”  McCoy shifted on the bed, lying down on his side facing Spock.  “But I still left, without an explainatin.”


“Do you plan to so again?”




Spock nodded. “Then no apology is required.  The situation is not likely to be repeated. The circumstances were too unusual.”  He stood up and retrieved an extra pillow from the supply closet in the fall wall and handed it to the doctor who gratefully accepted it as he laid back down.  “Unless you feel the need for further discussion this evening, I suggest you rest.” Spock sat back down in his chair.


McCoy frowned.  “What about you?  You can’t plan to spend the night in that chair?”


“I require meditation.” Spock reached over and hit the switch for the main lights leaving only a small red illumination from the security panel above the bed.  “I can do so must comfortably here.” 


“Where you can keep an eye on me.”  McCoy muttered.  “Did anyone ever tell you that you have abandonment issues?”


“I wonder why that could be, doctor.”  Spock stated dryly. 


McCoy flinched. “Thought you weren’t mad?”


Spock shifted slightly and McCoy had trouble making out his expression in the dim lighting.  “I am not angry with you, Leonard.” Spock hesitated. “But I am unsettled.  I would prefer to meditate on matters further before I can elaborate on my emotional state.”


“Promise you’ll get back to me on it?”


“If I do not you will undoubtedly press the matter until I reveal some lapse in control.”  Spock’s tone indicated he was more than a little irritated.


“Only because I care, Spock.” McCoy reached out blindly towards Spock and the Vulcan quickly took his hand.  “You do know I care, right?”

“That is quite clear, my friend.”  Spock shifted the chair closer to the bed and only let go of McCoy’s hand so he could pull the covers up over the doctor.  “As do I.”


“Good.” McCoy rolled onto his other side so his back was facing Spock.  “Dare say with both might need a little caring for now and then.”


“Indeed, Leonard.”  Spock paused before letting out a long controlled breath.  “Goodnight, t’hy’la.”


“Happy meditations, or whatever.” McCoy mumbled, already half asleep.


Spock settled back into the chair and tried to reach a state fit for meditation but the image of McCoy unconscious and in pain kept him from reaching his normal calm state.  Instead, he spent the night watching his friend sleep and wondering when and how they would be parted.  If nothing else, the recent events had driven home that inevitability and Spock found himself greatly troubled by the implication. 

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