Lapses IV: Increbesco

Title: Lapses IV: Increbresco
Author: Shannon

Series: TOS
Pairing: S/Mc

Rating: PG/PG-13 (for hazards in Starfleet life)

Disclaimer: Star Trek, its characters and universe belong to Paramount/Viacom. I own only this story. I make no money from this story; this is only a creative outlet and hobby.

Author’s Note: Sequel to Lapses III, published in Spiced Peaches XXIV.  Can stand alone but the flow of the story is best seen in entirety.

Special thanks to my beta Stephanie, who despite family troubles, managed to squeeze betaing two different versions of this story in.  You are amazing!



Ever since they’d returned from Minara II Spock had been acting oddly.  McCoy had tried asking what the problem was, but as usual the Vulcan had denied anything was out of the ordinary.   Denial, McCoy knew from experience, was all the confirmation one needed that a Vulcan was having some kind of a problem.


A discreet medical scan, done with Scotty’s help during a beam out, had confirmed it was nothing medical and Jim hadn’t been able to weasel the information out of Spock either.  By now the entire bridge crew could tell something was the matter but the only ones brave enough to enquire had been answered with a raised eyebrow followed by a rigid Vulcan back.


McCoy hadn’t told Jim about the bond, and from the look of things neither had Spock, but it was clear as day that the captain had figured out there was some kind of a change in their relationship.  To his credit, the captain hadn’t asked about it, and without prompting had done a little juggling to the duty schedules so they could have more time together.  But as Spock’s mood continued to darken, illustrated most clearly by his increasing formality with the crew, Jim had started to manufacture reasons for his CMO and first officer to be alone together.  When this failed to produce a noticeable change, Jim had called him in for a private meeting.


“Bones,” Jim paced his quarters as the doctor sat seated at the small table, a cup of coffee clutched in front of him.  “What the hell is going on!”  Jim turned to look at him, running a hand through his hair standing it up on end.  “And don’t you dare tell me it’s nothing. I keep hearing that from Spock and we both know that’s as good as a yes.”


“Darned if I can tell you,” McCoy shrugged and took a sip of coffee.  “He’s tight lipped with me too.”

“Tight lipped and clingy,” Jim muttered dropping into his chair.  “He’s barely let you out of his sight in the last week.”


Bones paused, cup half way to his lips. “Clingy?”


“You mean you haven’t noticed?” Jim shook his head.  “All those meetings he’s been manufacturing, him following you down to that stupid conference last week, it’s highly unusual.”


“I thought you were behind the meetings, trying to get him and me alone so he’d spill the beans.” McCoy frowned.  “And I asked him to go to the conference so I could get Scotty to run a med scan on him during the transporter buffering.  Granted, I did think it was a bit odd he’d agreed so easily.”


Jim blinked.  “Wait a minute.  You mean you haven’t noticed that you have a Vulcan shadow?  He hasn’t annoyed the living hell out of you yet?”


“Why would his following me around annoy me?”


“Because,” Jim drew the word out slowly as if talking to a child, “he’s Spock and you are Bones.  Spock and Bones in a room equals...BOOM!”  Jim made a hand motion to illustrate the explosive combination.  “You’ve spent the majority of this five year mission using each other as verbal punching bags.  Granted, you’ve been as thick as thieves the last six months or so, but I can’t see all of that just disappearing.”


“We banter,” Bones conceded, “but we both enjoy it.”  McCoy narrowed his eyes.  “Are you trying to get information out of me now?  I know you asked Spock about us.”


“Us?  So there is an ‘us’?”


“Depends on how you define that,” Bones shrugged.  “There’s a Vulcan ‘us’ but by human standards we’re just friends.”


“With benefits?”


“Jim,” McCoy frowned, “why the sudden prurient interest in my love life?”


“I’ve got a manic depressive Vulcan on my hands and I need to know what’s going on so I can handle him.” Jim slapped the table in frustration.  “Ever since Gem and those ridiculous headed aliens torturing you he’s been insufferable.  And that’s saying something since he was already a real mess after Yonada. I figured if you two had a thing going it would sort of explain it all.  You left him for a younger woman and almost died twice.  Not good things in the relationship department.”


McCoy closed his eyes.  “Jim, there’s a problem with your logic.”

“See, now you’re talking like him. You must be sleeping with him.”


“Jim,” McCoy used a warning tone, “I am not having sex with Spock.  I’m bonded to him.”


“You MARRIED him!”


McCoy flinched and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “No.  It’s a friendship bond, like what he has with you, only it’s sort of mutated into this deeper thing because of that time we spent on Vulcan.  He had access to my mind for a prolonged time while he was recovering and it linked us.”


“But was does it mean?”


“It means,” McCoy opened his eyes and looked up.  “It means you have to deal with a cranky Vulcan, Jim, and that while I know he’s cranky I’m damned clueless about what to do about it.”


“I don’t like it,” Jim muttered, rubbing tiredly at his eyes.  “Bones, why did nobody warn me that of all the emotional problems a crew can face on a long term deep space mission it was the Vulcan you need watch out for?”


“Probably because they wrote the book on deep space exploration for us,” McCoy shrugged.  “Just look on the bright side.  He’s only your first office and friend.  You don’t have to worry about two thousand years of Vulcan mysticism landing on your head.  That’s my department.”


“Again, that’s not at all comforting.”




Not long after their conversation the Enterprise was called to deliver medical aid to a stranded freighter that had half her crew down with some sort of fever.  McCoy didn’t want to risk his medical team without knowing what the disease was, so he beamed over alone in a biohazard suit to take a few samples first.  Spock had objected, strongly, arguing that his Vulcan biology would make him immune to the majority of human illnesses that could be in play and that he should at minimum accompany the doctor.  Jim had finally had to make the call and ordered Spock to stand down.  


McCoy had returned with his samples, unharmed, to find a frowning Vulcan standing alone at the transporter controls.


“Your penchant for self sacrifice, doctor, is most distressing,” Spock stated, his arms crossed firmly in front of him as he eyed the doctor from across the computer terminal.


“Matched only by your own, Spock,” McCoy grinned as he pulled off the helmet. “We both volunteered. Jim just didn’t see a point in risking us both.”  McCoy sprinted to the wall and hit the comm button. “McCoy to sickbay - Christine, it’s just a simple case of strep.  You’ve got clearance to beam over and handle it.  No need for M’Benga or me.”  He unzipped the suit and stepped out of it, pushing it to the side for a crewman to clean and put away.


“Aye doctor.” Christine’s voice answered quickly.  “I’ll take Cheryl with me.  She could use a simple away mission after that disaster last month.  A couple of quick hypos and we can be on our way.  They should be recovered by the time they reach their base.”


“Sounds like a plan. Let me know if you run into anything more complicated.”


“Will do.”

The comm clicked off and McCoy turned around and started for the door only to end up running right into a solid Vulcan wall.


“I disagree,” Spock stated coldly, resuming their previous discussion.  “You take unnecessary risks far too often.” Spock glared.  “You were illogical.  You are far too willing to sacrifice yourself when there are other options.”


“Like when?”


Spock frowned, his eyes darkening.  “Minara II.”


“Is that what’s been bothering you?” McCoy shrugged.  “It was a choice of risking my death or your sanity. And you’d be hard pressed to find someone in here that would have done differently.  We all know what that kind of life would mean for a Vulcan.”


“You are incorrigible,” Spock sighed softly.  “I do not wish for you to make such a bargain again.  Three times in less than a month you have attempted to sacrifice yourself.”


“I hardly think marrying Natiria counts in the same category as death, Spock.  And I wasn’t sacrificing myself just now. I went over there in full biohazard gear to check on a freighter manned by an all human crew of four!  I suspected it was just a simple strep infection but I wasn’t going to take the chance, hence the suit.  There wasn’t any real danger.”


“I disagree,” Spock frowned ever so slightly.  “We have seen many virus strains that can penetrate biohazard suits.  And the idea of marriage to a woman one cannot love is repugnant.”  Spock made a sound in the back of his throat. “I should know.”


McCoy checked that the hallway was empty before starting out towards his quarters. “I thought you didn’t believe in love.”


“To not believe in an emotion would be illogical. Love exists, that is not debatable. The nature, meaning, or value in the emotion is another matter.”  Spock’s eyes darkened.  “Despite all Vulcan training, my race is not immune, doctor.  In fact, some level of emotion is necessary for a successful marriage bond. Without which the survival of the species would naturally be in jeopardy.”


“So you’re admitting you’re capable of love?”


Spock raised an eyebrow.  “We have yet to encounter a sentient species that is not.  I, however, do not intend to allow the emotion to rule my actions.”


“But you want to marry for love.” McCoy shook his head as they waited for the turbolift. “That, my friend, is illogical.”


“Considering the lack of options for ending a marriage on Vulcan, I consider it survival instinct.” Spock let out a slow breath.  “Mutual affection would be preferable to disdain, if for no other reason than it would reduce the likelihood of an inconvenient challenge.”


“That I have to give you,” McCoy smirked.  “By the way, since we’re discussing Minara II, what was that thing between you and Gem?”


“Thing?” Spock’s eyebrow quirked. “What ‘thing’, doctor?”


“You know.  That thing.”  McCoy waggled his eyebrows.  “Right before I hit you with that hypo, you and her shared this look.”


Spock’s ears tipped green.  “I do not recall any significant look.”


“Oh no, you can’t lie.  You two had a moment there,” McCoy grinned.  “Come on.  What’d she say?”


“She said nothing. She does not have vocal cords.”


McCoy rolled his eyes.  “She may be a mute, but she was communicating there, Spock.  You’re a touch telepath, she’s an empath.  There’s a lot of potential crossover.  I know you’re part empathic yourself. You can sense emotion easily.”


“Gem was not telepathic, doctor,” Spock hesitated. “However, she did attempt to connect empathically to me.  During her attempt, we did share a brief connection and my abilities naturally sought out her mind for communication.”




Spock fidgeted slightly.  “She learned of our connection.  She was distressed by my...” Spock hesitated.  “...concern,”  he finished softly.

“Your concern?” McCoy asked gently.  “That I would die if I went with them?”




“Oh, Spock,” McCoy shook his head. “I’m sorry.”


“Other than your failure to accept my decision to risk myself in your place, you did nothing wrong.”


McCoy didn’t say anything for a long time. By the time he got the words sorted in his head the turbolift had arrived and Spock had already called out their deck number.




“Yes, doctor?”


“You do have a damn fine bedside manner,”  McCoy said softly. “You tried to block some of my pain, when I was dying.  Just like you did when I was undergoing the Fabrini treatment.”


Spock didn’t say anything and McCoy risked a light hand on his elbow, conscious they were in semi-public.  “Thank you.”


“One does not thank logic, Leonard,” Spock stated softly, his voice slightly gruff.  “I would miss thee greatly, my friend, if you were to leave.”


McCoy squeezed his arm before letting go. “Feeling’s mutual, Spock.  Feeling’s mutual.”


The ship vibrated for a moment as they went back into warp. Presumably Christine was already back having delivered the medication and they were back on their way to finish up some star mapping in the outer sector.  McCoy smiled softly, glad that for once it wasn’t a medical emergency.


The lift dinged and the doors opened on their level and both stepped out.   They walked in silence for a few moments until McCoy noticed the slightly pinched expression on Spock’s face. “I know something’s got your goat, Spock.  You’ve been out of sorts for weeks.  Your reaction today’s proof.  What’s going on?”


Spock’s pace slowed for a moment before he seemed to shake himself and he increased his stride to return to the doctor’s side.  “Not at all, doctor.  I do not have a goat.”


“Spock,” McCoy whined.  “Come on.  After all we’ve been through, can’t you talk to me?”


Spock raised an eyebrow.  “We are talking.”

McCoy glared.  “Now see here, mister!  I enjoy our banter as much as the next person, but this is serious.”


Spock’s expression lightened.  “Did you know your nostrils flare dramatically when you are irritated?”


“Why you...” McCoy started but his tirade was cut short as the deck pitched alarmingly under them and both the doctor and the Vulcan were thrown violently into the wall.  Moments later the red warning lights flared to life and the red-alert klaxon started shrieking.  Without a word, Spock was on his feet and running for the turbolift to get back to the bridge, McCoy hot on his heels.


The lift doors were part way open, the emergency lighting blinking eerily in a haze of smoke.  “The lift controls are fused.” Spock noted grimly.  “We will have to take the Jefferies tube and climb.”


“Thank god it’s only four decks,” McCoy mumbled and as he followed Spock back down the corridor to the orange laddered emergency tube that led directly from the officers quarters to the bridge.  “It looks like main power’s out.  If we had ship wide communications Jim would have made an announcement by now.”


“If he is alive.” Spock started up the tube, his boots making a clicking sound on the metal rungs.  “We do not know what has damaged the ship.”


“That wasn’t a phaser or torpedo blast,” McCoy huffed trying to keep up with Spock’s rapid accent.  “Whatever it was, it’s a new one.  I’ve been hurled around by plenty of things hitting this ship and nothing’s ever felt like that.”


“It was an internal explosion,” Spock supplied grimly.  “But we are still in warp.  Power to the engines is intact.”


“Small blessings.”


“Possibly,” Spock answered softly.  “Or possibly we are out of control and about to crash into a star.”


“Remind me,” McCoy grumbled between pants for air, “why you misplaced your optimism?”


“I’ve always found pragmatism to be of better service.”


“Shut up and climb you pointed eared elf of negativity.”


When they reached the bridge it took several moments for Spock to get the access panel off.   They burst onto the command deck to find it filled with smoke and the stench of burnt flesh.  Sulu was frantically trying to regain helm control despite the fact that half the front console was melted into an unrecognizable black mass. The ensign that had relieved Chekov was dead, his entire chest burned black from whatever had melted the console, his hands curled into bony claws in front of him.


Spock moved quickly toward his science station, pushing the younger relief officer out of the way.  “Mr. Sulu, I am attempting to re-route helm through my science station.  Your controls are unlikely to be repaired quickly.”


“Aye, sir,” Sulu responded.  “You’d better make it quick.  We’re at Warp 4 and I have no control. If we hit anything...”


McCoy jumped out of the way as a second access panel crashed to the floor and Kirk bounded onto the bridge from the tube that led to the lower rec decks.  “Report!” he bellowed, leaning over to catch his breath. 


Uhura, her hair in disarray and missing an earring, responded. “I just managed to get the communication system back on line, Captain.  Reports are still coming in.  It started with helm control exploding.  Mr. Scott reports that several other ship’s systems had similar power fluctuations at the same time.  He believes it is related to the solar flare radiation we experienced last week. It seems to have weakened some of the insulation on the power grid.  When we went into warp it caused a ship wide cascade failure with large surges in power hitting randomly. The weakened insulation could not handle the overload and several fires have broken out.”


“Casualties?” McCoy asked grimly.


“Ensign Wert is dead,” Uhura supplied gruffly.  “Deck three reports a half dozen minor to moderate injuries from a fire in Science Lab 7 and there’s at least a hundred reporting smoke inhalation.  Engineering had a major fire but Scotty reports he’s already got it out and the injured were transported to sickbay using emergency protocols. M’Benga is working on them now.  We don’t have clear numbers yet or a list of personnel affected, but Scotty was on the comm so at least we know there’s someone manning the system down there who knows what he’s doing.”


“I’d better get down to sickbay,” McCoy started for the emergency tube.  “Jim, I’ll send someone up for Wert as soon as we can spare the personnel.  With the tubolifts out it’s going to be a while.”


Kirk waved him off.  The ship lurched suddenly again and Kirk grabbed the command chair to stay on his feet. “Spock!”


“We’ve regained helm control, captain,” Spock reported, his voice carefully controlled.  “I have taken us out of warp until Mr. Scott can ascertain the full damage.”


McCoy crawled into the tube and started his long climb down to sickbay and didn’t hear the rest.  By the time he made it down to the right deck, the corridor was lined with wounded and one of the first year medical students they had on board for training purposes was dispensing oxygen to those worst affected. 


“Doctor,” Christine called out as she caught sight of him. “Engineering was hit pretty hard.   We’ve got several critical burn cases.”  She hesitated and drew closer, dropping her voice to a whisper.  “Jones isn’t going to make it.  I sedated him, but his lungs are too damaged and there’s almost no skin left on him.” She shivered.  “Mercer is almost as bad, but M’Benga thinks he’s got a handle on the situation and if we can keep infection at bay she’ll have a chance - but she’s going to need extensive reconstructive surgery and he doubts she’ll have much function in her hands.” She grimaced. “Danielson’s in there, doctor. He’ bad shape.  M’Benga managed to get the worst of the internal bleeding stopped but there’s not much else he can do in the present circumstances.”


McCoy started, “Danielson?  Justin Danielson?”  He pushed past her and made for the intensive care ward.  Justin was laid out on the biobed and if it wasn’t for Christine telling him who it was he wouldn’t have recognized the young man.  His uniform had melted onto his skin and everything was black except for the harsh cracks of red that ran across his face and neck and a patch of shiny white skin on his shoulder. The burns easily covered seventy percent of his body.  McCoy pulled out his scanner and quickly double checked the biobed readings.  There was extensive lung damage from inhaling super heated air but worse than that was the crushing injury to his lower abdomen.


“A beam fell, Christine whispered behind him.  “Scotty said the main control panel went up like a roman candle. Jones was manning it, and Danielson was working next to it when it happened.  Mercer was hurt pulling them away. She got Danielson back from the panel and was going in for Jones when one of the support beams came loose, the heat melted the bolts.  It pinned Danielson to the floor and Mercer was struck from behind and fell face first into the fire.”


“My god,” McCoy closed his eyes for a long second before taking another look at the readings.  The beam had crushed Justin’s lower vertebrae, completely severing the spinal cord and breaking the pelvis into pieces.  The organ damage was massive.  He’d need to be put on advanced life support to make it long enough to get to a medical facility with the capabilities to do a multiple organ replacement. His stomach and intestines had been nearly flattened and had ruptured in several places.  Justin’s spleen was lacerated and he had renal failure. “There’s nothing I can do,” McCoy whispered, turning away.  Even without the other injuries to contend with the damage was more than the Enterprise sickbay could handle.  They didn’t have the equipment to grow that many organs fast enough. Hypovolemia had set in and was wreaking havoc on his system.  And they wouldn’t know how bad the rhabdomyolysis would be for hours yet. He felt his throat tightening.  “Do what you can to make him comfortable.  And point me where I need to be, where I can do something,” he managed to choke out, forcing his grief to the side. 


Christine nodded in understanding, her hand going to his shoulder in silent support. “I’ve got him in a chemical induced coma and M’Benga used that new blood additive you picked up last month at the conference.  It’s helping stop some of the hemorrhaging and we’re giving him transfusions and fluids as fast as we can.  We had to do an escharotamy to keep the blood flow from obstructing in his legs. If he can hold on until we can get him to Earth they might be able to repair some of the damage.”


McCoy closed his eyes.  “Christine, we both know there’s no way to surgically repair that much damage.  Assuming he survives the crushing injury, he’s going to need an intestinal transplant. If he survives that, he’s got the spinal injury and the burns.”  McCoy opened a cabinet and pulled out a second power cell for his scanner knowing he’d need it.  “If one thing doesn’t kill him, there’s another 10 things waiting to do so.”  McCoy tested the new cell and growled, “Now what’s our status?  We’ve got enough wounded out there it looks like a war zone.”


Christine took a slow breath.  “I know.  But there’s always a chance, doctor.  You know that.”  She shook herself and nodded towards the hall.  “I’ve started triage.  We were actually lucky.  Most of the fires were small.  It was only Engineering and Helm that had people working directly on the instruments when they went up.  Everything else is mostly smoke inhalation and less extensive burns.  We’ve got three people stuck in a turboshaft that may be in worse condition but we won’t know until Scotty’s people can cut them out. The power to the shaft’s compromised.”


McCoy nodded, “Not lucky enough, Christine.  Not lucky enough.”  He forced himself not to look behind him as he headed out to tend to the rest of the wounded.  “You keep up the triage.  Send me the ones I can help.  Make the others comfortable and keep the minor injuries out in the hall.”


“Done.  I’ve got that group from the Academy doing basic first aid out there.  M’Benga’s going to be busy with Mercer for a while.  You’ll have to handle the bulk of critical cases until he’s done.”


“Understood.” McCoy bent down to start assessing one of Spock’s science lab assistants.  Her whole left side was burned but it looked to be mostly second degree.  Her uniform had melted into the wounds and McCoy silently cursed Star Fleet for the poor choice in fabric.  They were going to have a lot of painful debriding ahead of them.   He gave her a hypo for the pain, asked one of the nurses to start a fluid IV, and moved on to another engineering kid with a mix of critical and surface burns on his back. 


“Get caught by the beam?” McCoy asked gently and the kid nodded.  McCoy waved the scanner over him and frowned. “Besides the burns you’ve got a broken rib that’s pretty close to your lung.  I want you to stay as still as possible.”


“Yes, doctor,” The kid grimaced.  “Lt. Danielson, he was worse than I am.  Can you do anything for him?”


McCoy shook his head, “I’m sorry.”  He pulled out another hypo and loaded it with a mild sedative to help with the smoke inhalation.


The young man closed his eyes.  “I am too, doctor.  He was a good officer.  Did you know him?”


“He’s my godson.”


The young man started.  “Oh god,” he began to apologize but McCoy pressed the hypo to his neck and he went unconscious. 


The next several hours were a blur of patients and panic as more and more cases came into sickbay.  Fires on board ship were always catastrophic and with so many spread out across the Enterprise the air filters couldn’t clean out the smoke and contaminates.  The tainted air was being circulated ship wide.  The burning insulation and plastics were causing widespread respiratory problems.  Christine had been right, considering what could have happened, there weren’t that many with burns, but the number presenting with smoke inhalation from the original fires was high and with the air recyclers spreading the fumes nearly the whole crew was affected.

Even Kirk was wheezing.


Scotty promised that he’d have the air scrubbed within fifteen hours.  The amounts weren’t lethal but they’d all be feeling it for days.  McCoy was already counting on epic numbers of respiratory infections, a few cases of pneumonia, and some allergic asthma reactions.


McCoy coughed and shook his head.  “Damn it,” he wheezed into his elbow as he pressed another hypospray into a coughing ensign’s neck.  He’d never handled bad smells well and he could feel a migraine starting to form.


M’Benga was finished with Mercer and had gone to help the med students dispense medication to the less affected and Christine was monitoring Jones and Danielson.  They were holding on still, barely, and McCoy wanted nothing more than to go check on his godson.  But Justin couldn’t be helped and the others could, so between shallow painful breaths he moved from patient to patient.


He didn’t notice when Spock entered the ward, not until the Vulcan neatly plucked the scanner out of his hand and forced him into a chair next to Justin’s biobed.  “Sit,” Spock insisted in a gruff voice, the smoke even causing the Vulcan problems.  “The rest of the injuries are minor and can be handled by the medical students on board. You are needed here.”


McCoy looked up.  “Spock,” his voice broke and he dipped his head, bringing one shaky hand up to run through his hair.  “I can’t.”


Spock didn’t say anything, only kept his hand firmly on McCoy’s shoulder as the rest of sickbay rushed around behind them.  Eventually, McCoy gave in and slumped into the chair to stare unseeing at the readouts.  He wasn’t surprised when he heard Christine offer Spock a chair and an update on his science lab crew.  Spock nodded at what the nurse said and left just long enough to personally check on his people before returning to the doctor’s side.  He was unaccountably grateful for the silent Vulcan’s company even if Spock did have a datapadd in his lap.  The ship was barely out of a crisis and while Spock wasn’t needed on the bridge, he was needed to keep track of repair timetables and casualty lists.  McCoy was just happy that the job was somewhat portable and that Spock could do it from a padd in sickbay as easily as he could from his own office.  For his part, McCoy had programmed his own padd to show each patient biobed readouts in case he was needed.


The minutes turned into hours and the hustle of sickbay turned into a hushed stillness that was so deep McCoy could feel it in his bones.  The air was still heavy with contaminates from the fire and if you looked just right you could see a slight haze floating about a foot from the ceiling.  Christine had muted the biobed signals so they didn’t chirp out each fluctuation in reading and dimmed the overhead lighting.  She and M’Benga had cleared out the last of the minor cases and those needing further attention were in the main ward. Only Justin, Mercer, and Jones remained in intensive care. 


The only person to come in or out for hours was Jim with quiet updates on ship’s status for Spock. The captain made a point to sit down for a few precious moments with each of the patients left in sickbay each time he visited.  Now that the ship was stable, he could afford the time to check on his people and Jim Kirk never let a crewman down when it came to seeing them in sickbay - even the unconscious ones were updated on the ship, told what good men they were, and Jim made a point to tell each and every crewman that when they’d recovered he’d see to them regaining their positions personally.  They were hollow words to the three in intensive care.  McCoy knew they’d never see duty again even if they lived.   Images of Chris Pike in his chair flashed before McCoy and he couldn’t meet Jim’s eyes over Justin’s bed. 


Mercer was stable, her body wrapped in layers of medicated bandages, and floating a few inches off the biobed with a modified force field that would keep her burns from having to rest on anything.  Kirk had already issued a mayday and another Constitution Class ship - McCoy couldn’t remember which one - was on the way to take the worst cases to the nearest Star Base.  Mercer would be on that ship.  In what had to be the ultimate irony, the freighter they’d helped just minutes before had also diverted course.  They were carrying a shipment of air scrubbers bound for one of the terraforming colonies.  With their help, Scott could have the contaminates out of the air in less than half his original estimate once they were installed.


Scotty had everything under control now, but it would be several days before Enterprise would be back up to full warp speed and there were too many injuries for the small medical crew to handle alone.  They needed to get those with the worst injuries back to civilization for treatment, especially the ones that were going to have long recoveries.  They could handle the smoke inhalation and trauma. They couldn’t handle fitting and training Mercer with the two prosthetic arms she’d end up with nor could they reconstruct her face.  And while he could do the necessary skin grafts on some of the others that had been caught in the Engineering and Science Lab fires, it would stretch his people pretty thin to keep up on the physical therapy they’d need and see to the everyday injuries of the rest of the crew.  Besides, nobody on the ship was a burn expert. They could get better care back at Star Fleet.  Be with their families.  Or at least that’s what he kept telling himself to try and convince his own mind that he wasn’t failing them, wasn’t abandoning them to strangers.


Jones died at 0200. 


Spock left his side long enough to help Christine transfer the body to a stretcher so it could be taken to the morgue.  McCoy couldn’t look away from the slow rise and fall of his godson’s chest to see which crewman came to do the grim task.  Justin was still holding on and he was afraid that if he looked away, if he blinked, when he looked back he’d be gone.



Ship’s night had given way to late morning when Spock broke the silence.  “He is strong.”


“Yeah,” McCoy rubbed tiredly at his face. “Justin’s never been one to give up.”


“He is your godson?”


McCoy nodded.  “His father and I grew up in the same town, went to school together.  Percy went into teaching and married this cute little thing he met in college.  They had Justin about four years before we found out we were going to have Joanna.  We raised the kids together.  Always thought, one day, that they might make a good couple.  Justin joined ‘Fleet a year before I did.  When the divorce happened he’s the one that suggested I sign up.  He thought it would be good for me to get out and about.  He asked me to help him transfer here last month.  He begged me.  I asked Jim for a personal favor.”  McCoy couldn’t stop a tear from breaking free and running down his cheek.  “God, Spock, if I hadn’t done that he’d be safe on that transport depot by Jupiter.”


“If you had not, he would have asked for another deep space assignment, if that was his calling,” Spock insisted quietly.  “You cannot hold yourself accountable for events outside your control. You have done your best by him, Leonard.  The rest will be up to a series of variables that even modern medicine cannot predict with certainty.”



“What’s the point of all this, Spock, if I can’t heal a few burns?  What’s the damn point!”  McCoy stood up quickly and started pacing, his chair falling over in the process.  Spock bent down and righted it without a word.  “He’s family, Spock.  And I’m reduced to a deathbed watch - again.” 


“He is not dead,” Spock reminded him softly.  “He is stable. M’Benga managed to stop the worst of the hemorrhaging.  The blood transfusions and fluids are starting to take effect and his blood volume, while low, is no longer life threatening.  The life support systems are functioning in place of the damaged organs and will be sufficient to maintain life until he can be transported to Earth and the medical facilities at Star Fleet headquarters.  He has at least a forty-five percent chance of survival.”


“Forty-five,” McCoy muttered.  “Forty-five percent chance he’ll end up like Christopher Pike - paralyzed, burned beyond recognition, and barely able to communicate.”


“Chris’ injuries were more severe and there was extensive neurological impairment,” Spock shook his head.  “Your own readings confirm that with the exception of the spinal injury and surface nerve damage, your godson is not thus impaired.  We may not be able to repair the spinal cord fully, but with time and effort he will likely regain the ability to walk.  Reconstructive surgery is advancing daily.  Given enough time his face can be repaired.”


“You make it sound like he’ll be up and around next year.”  McCoy sank back into his chair.  “It’ll take years.”


“Lt. Mercer will also take years to recover and while she can be fitted for prosthetics she will never be able to serve on another starship.  Star Fleet regulations do not allow for double amputees on deep space missions since the most effective prosthetics require recharging which may not be possible on away missions or during crises.  She will also have to endure years of surgeries and therapy.  Yet you would tell her she is lucky to be alive.  Does not your godson deserve the same sentiment?”


“Hell, Spock, of course I’m glad he’s alive!” McCoy tipped his head back and glared at the ceiling. “I just...I can’t fix it for him.”


“Some things must simply be endured, Leonard,” Spock said gently. “He is already strong or he would not still be alive. This will only serve to forge him into something greater.”


“What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger?”


“That has always been my mother’s philosophy and so far I believe it to be true,” Spock responded, a small smile lifting one corner of his mouth ever so slightly.  “The ship will be here momentarily.  Do you require assistance readying him for transport?  I believe Nurse Chapel has seen to the others that will be leaving.”


“I wish I could go with him,” McCoy admitted as he stood up to start preparations. “I feel like I’m abandoning him when he needs me most.  I wasn’t in sickbay when he came in and now I’m just pawning him off on another ship.”


“You are doing what is best for him even though it is difficult for you personally. Is that not a requirement for those we consider family?”  Spock came up behind him quietly and laid a hand gently on the doctor’s shoulder.


McCoy leaned back slightly into the touch and sighed.  “Yeah, yeah it is.”




In all, twenty-seven including Justin were transferred to the other ship for transport back to Earth.  McCoy also sent the medical students back with them to help during the week and half journey back to Starfleet Headquarters.  The CMO, one Doctor Nichols, of the Endeavour was a young thing, on her first deep space mission.  McCoy checked her credentials.  She was by all accounts a talented physician and top of her class.  She was young for a CMO, especially for a Constitution class ship, but she’d proven herself in more than one firefight and the fallout thereof.  But he couldn’t help the feeling of dread he had as he handed over Justin’s chart.


Nichols quickly reviewed it and nodded.  “I’ve got an ICU bed ready. He’ll have an around the clock watch, so will Mercer.  After the fight you and M’Benga had keeping them alive for the first ten hours I won’t let them go easily.  We were just damn lucky to be in the area. It’s not often two of the big ships are this close to one another and there’s not an invasion happening.”


McCoy sighed.  “I’ve seen plenty of other Constitution class ships, doctor.  Usually hanging dead in space.  Just take care you aren’t one of them.”


Doctor Nichols looked up, her eyes hard.  “I heard about the Exeter.”


“Don’t forget the Constellation, the Defiant, and the Excalibur.   The ranks are getting a little thin.”


“More reason for those of us left to take care of one another.”  She nodded once and looked back at her now full sickbay.  “We were supposed to be on the way to Troyius.  Rumor has it Kirk’s agreed to take over that mission for us.  You’ll have just enough time to limp to the starbase and get your repairs in before hitting high warp.”


“No rest for the wicked, madam.”


“You must have been very bad in a previous life, doctor.” 


“Who says it was a previous life?”


“Doctor?” Spock’s voice called softly from the corridor.  “Is the transfer complete?”


“Yeah, Spock,” McCoy called back.  “I’m on my way out.”  He turned back to the other CMO and shook her hand.  “Take care of them for me?”


“As if they were my own.”


McCoy nodded and turned on his heel, not letting himself look back at his unconscious godson.  Spock was waiting for him in the hall at parade rest, his dark eyes scanning over the doctor as if looking for an injury.


As McCoy walked past, Spock fell into step beside him as they made their way through the Endeavour’s corridors back to the transporter room.  “Are you alright?”


“Peachy,” McCoy forced a smile.  “Justin’s stable and Mercer’s vitals are improving.”


Spock nodded silently and McCoy sighed.  “I can’t fool you anymore can I? Not with this bond.  You know how upset I am.”


“Yes,” Spock admitted gently.  “But your control is admirable.”


“Just so you’re prepared, when we get back to the ship I’m going to have a complete and utter meltdown.  I may break some furniture or possibly hit a few things.  I can guarantee that I’m getting drunk - probably stay drunk until we reach our next assignment.”


“I am warned.”


“I wouldn’t blame you if you made yourself scarce for a while.”


“I know.”


“But you aren’t going to are you?”


“I will be there for you, Leonard, as you have been there for me.”


McCoy stopped in the corridor and turned to frown at his friend.  “Come hell or high water?”


Spock raised an eyebrow.  “Come hell certainly.  But is the high water negotiable?”


McCoy couldn’t keep his laughter back at that. But after a few moments he realized he couldn’t stop even though his lungs burned from the fumes and protested at the abuse.  The tears started and before he knew it he was half sobbing while laughing hysterically into a Vulcan’s chest in the middle of a strange ship’s corridor while its crew looked on in astonishment.


For his part, Spock said nothing, only held up his friend until the tears started to dry up and the laughter turned into pained gasps for air.  McCoy straightened himself and raised his head to meet Spock’s calm gaze.  “I want to go home, Spock.”


Spock’s grip on his arms tightened.  He said nothing but silently led the way down the last three hundred feet to the Endeavour’s transporter room.  The tech on duty stared at them but didn’t complain as they both climbed up onto the same transporter node.  The Enterprise’s transporter room was empty when they arrived with all the crew needed for various repairs.  It would be another few hours until the Enterprise’s transporters were repaired and at the moment they were a low priority.


Spock managed to get the doctor back to his room with a minimal amount of manhandling and McCoy quickly found himself with a cup of Vulcan tea and a sleeping pill in his hand.


“You require rest,” Spock insisted softly.  “I must see to the ship but I will be here when you wake.”


“I’m fine, Spock.  You don’t need to worry about me.” McCoy popped the pill and swallowed it along with a large swig of the tea.  “Just need a little time.”


“I will be here.” Spock took the cup from the doctor and set it on the desk.  “Our bond goes both ways, doctor.  You have looked after me long enough. It is time I returned the favor.”


McCoy nodded tiredly, the pill already starting to take effect.  “I’m too tired to argue with you.”


“Then I suggest you stop,” Spock gave an almost smile.  He pulled the covers over the doctor and gently ran a single finger over his temple.


McCoy shivered.  “What was that?”


“I will watch over you, even from the bridge.” Spock responded, his finger again tracing its former path over McCoy’s temple.  A light sensation of awareness flittered over McCoy’s mind.  “Rest, t’hy’la.” Spock murmured softly.  Qual se tu?”


“Spock?” McCoy mumbled as he drifted off.  “What was that?”


“Nothing, Leonard.” Spock repeated his movement over McCoy’s temple, the quiet repetition driving the doctor further into slumber.  Nar-tor pulaya s'au k'ka'es - k'el'rular tun-bosh.”


“Spock?” McCoy tried to hold onto wakefulness long enough to ask what Spock was saying but he couldn’t form the words.  He fell asleep with the light sound of Spock’s voice in ear.


Ma etek natyan teretuhr lau etek shetau weh-lo'uk do tum t'on.” Spock said softly, his finger still gently tracing the same path on the doctor’s temple.

Return to Main Page