Lapses V: No Man's Land

Lapses V: No Man’s Land
Author: Shannon

Series: TOS
Pairing: S/Mc, S/Zarabeth, Sa/Am

Rating: PG-13/R (for discussions of Vulcan biology and references to non-con)

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.

A/N: Last in the Lapses series.  Prior segments are necessary to the story. 

Some timeline clarification.  Lapses starts out in the first season of TOS and continues through the end of the first 5 year mission. I’ve never been a big fan of the animated series so rather then write around it, I sort of skipped it.  Pretend that instead of it playing out after the end of Season 3 the episodes were sort of spaced around in there.  For Lapses to work well as I envision it, I need the last two episodes of the regular TOS series to be at the very end of the 5 years.  Since “dates” are something of an estimation in Trek anyway, since good old trekdaddy himself made most of the stardates up in the beginning, I figure I can play around.   And, before anyone freaks out on me, I plan to continue this universe with another TWO series.  In fact, the longer work Allocations that is posted under Saavik13 on is also in the Lapses universe but since it details Sarek and Amanda’s relationship pre-Spock, well, it wasn’t meant for  Spiced Peaches...The next in the series will pick up after the Motion Picture and the third will be from Saavik’s POV after Wrath of Khan.  I’ll send in the LM/S post-Motion Picture to this zine, but I’m not sure how LM/S heavy the third will be.  If you want consistent updates, I suggest you set an alert on  This is a LONG term project.




“I can’t believe it’s over.”


Kirk’s words echoed in the empty cargo bay and McCoy sighed.  “You knew it was coming, Jim.  We all did.”


“Knowing, Bones, and feeling it are two different things.”  Kirk looked around him, a frown deepening on his brow.  “It just isn’t right. None of this is right.”


“Hell, what’s right?”  McCoy asked softly.  “Spock’s gone.  Chapel’s gone.  Rand’s gone.  So the supplies are gone?  Why is this making you so maudlin?  We’re only two days out from Earth, Jim.  We don’t need a stock pile.  It makes sense to leave our surplus supplies out here with the Excaliber.”


“I still can’t believe they rebuilt her that fast.”  Kirk grumbled.  “And it isn’t the supplies.  I know it doesn’t make sense to haul all that stuff back to Earth. Hell, there aren’t that many Constitution Class ships left.  There’s no reason for all the spare parts Scotty’s managed to collect to sit in spacedock on Earth for the next three-to-five years while they overhaul us.  Besides, by the time they’re done, even the nav dish probably won’t be the same.”


McCoy raised an eyebrow.  “So if it isn't’ the supplies, why are we standing in an empty cargo bay with you looking like someone killed your puppy?”


Kirk ran a hand through his hair and gracelessly took a seat on the floor.  He motioned for the doctor to join him and McCoy did so, but with far more care.  “Bones,” Jim started but stopped, the words not quite making it past his throat.  He bit his lip for a moment before sighing and looking away towards the closed space doors.  “I still can’t believe you let him leave.”


McCoy shook his head. “What was I supposed to do?  Spock has to figure these things out for himself, Jim.  You know that.  And he hasn’t had an easy time of it lately. Hell, if truth be told he hasn’t been himself since that thing with Pike.  Ever since then it’s just been one damn thing after another.  That stint we had back on Vulcan helped some, but Spock snapped out of it too soon.  And he’s not about to ask for more help - not even from me.  Sarpeidon was just too much for him.”


Kirk eyed him carefully.  “Bones, what happened back there?”


McCoy stiffened.  “You read our reports.”


“It was cold.  Spock ate meat.  There was some kind of strange effect on his personality from the time difference - which I don’t buy for a minute - and you came back.” Kirk summarized angrily.  “We both know that wasn’t the half of it.  And Spock just shut down after that.  Something wasn’t right, I tell you!  When he melded with me while I was in Janice’s body I could feel  something wasn’t right.  But he wouldn’t talk about it.  A week later I get his notice that he’s letting his commission go inactive, and he’s returning to Vulcan.  Five days later we drop him off at Starbase 3.  And the whole time you’re distant from him.  Not a word to stop him.”


“Sometimes,” McCoy said softly, “sometimes things happen, Jim, that just can’t be undone.  Spock’s got to grieve, and if this is his way of doing it, we have to respect that.”


“What the hell are you talking about?  What happened?!” Kirk demanded.  “Don’t make me order you to tell me the truth, Bones.”


“You can order all you like.”  McCoy countered angrily.  “It’s private, Jim, and it doesn’t affect anyone on this crew.”  He stood up and glared down at his friend and captain.  “I’m asking you, as our friend and as our captain, give Spock the space and the privacy he needs.”


“I don’t like this.  I don’t like these secrets, and I certainly don’t like this whole kolinahr insanity.” Jim insisted.  “Somebody has got to talk sense to him.”


“You can’t talk sense to a man when he’s in the place Spock is, Jim.” McCoy muttered.  “He can’t see sense for the darkness that’s clouded everything.  He’s hurting too damn much.  Nothing you or I or Lady Amanda can do about it.  He’s got to weather this storm any way he can, and if kolinahr is how he goes about keeping himself sane, then that’s what it’s got to be.  What he needs from us is to know that when it’s over and he comes out on the other side, we’ll be here for him no matter what.”


“You were only gone a few hours.”  Jim shook his head sadly.  “I just don’t get it.”


“One man’s hours are another man’s lifetime.”




“Isn’t there some way you can get through to him?”  Amanda pleaded, not for the first time.  McCoy had been back on Earth a total of less the 22 hours when she’d found him outside Starfleet headquarters and ushered him into a private conference room.


McCoy sighed and put his hand out to gently pat her arm.  “I don’t mean this to sound insensitive, Amanda, but have you thought that maybe Spock needs this?”


“Needs this!  He doesn’t need to purge half of himself!”  Amanda huffed indignantly.  “He doesn’t need to purge me!”


“He won’t.” McCoy insisted softly.  “He couldn’t.”


Amanda sniffed, her eyes bright.  “Sarek says I’m overreacting, and I think he arranged this trip to Earth just to get me off Vulcan, not because of that stupid trade negotiation with the Mek-lar-eshians.  He’s not sure about this purging either, but he’s supporting Spock and he doesn’t want me to make things any harder on Spock then they are.  I’m glad they are still talking, but I can’t help thinking there had to be a better way for it to happen.  And Spock’s so sad.  I don’t need to be psychic to feel that. My son is miserable.”


“He’s clinically depressed.” McCoy agreed. “If he was human, I’d have put him on meds.  But he’s not, and he doesn’t want me to help.  He doesn’t want me near him right now and I can’t blame him.”


“Why? You two are clearly t'hy'la.  If he’s depressed he should be seeking you out.  And if not you, then his other bond brother.  But he’s not even returning Jim’s holo messages.”


McCoy sighed sadly. “I’m afraid that I hurt him, Ma’am, for his own good and he knows it.  He’s not angry with me, but he needs time to heal from it.  And the best thing for me to do is give him the space.  When he’s ready, I’ll be here.  And he’s not talking to Jim because Jim can’t mind his own business.  Spock is tired of defending his choice.  So if we don’t want to end up getting the same silent treatment, I respectfully suggest we stay out of it.”


“Please,” Amanda begged, her small hand clutching at the doctor’s arm.  “Leonard, I came all the way from Vulcan to see you, hoping you would tell me what happened to my son.”


McCoy looked away. “If Spock doesn’t want you to know, then it’s not my place to tell you.”


“He’s already gone to the monastery.” Amanda argued softly.  “I can’t stop him now.  But I need to understand.  He said you knew. He said you could tell me and to ask you about Sarpeidon.  I looked it up.  The sun went supernova and the Enterprise was there to monitor it. Please, what happened on that mission?”


The desperation in her voice finally broke McCoy’s reluctance, that and if Spock hadn’t wanted her to know he wouldn’t have told her the name of the planet. 


“Her name was Zarabeth, and your son loved her.” he answered, his voice rough. “He loved her so deeply Ma’am, I could practically feel it myself.  And it happened so fast.  Love at first sight, I guess.”


Amanda swallowed. “She died on Sarpeidon didn’t she? When the sun went supernova and he couldn’t save her.”


“She died on Sarpeidon all right.  Five thousand years ago.” McCoy sighed.  “It’s a long story, and you have to understand that Spock was already having a rough time.  The Enterprise missions have always been complicated and dangerous, but the last year or so, things have been especially bad.  Starfleet just kept sending us into worse and worse spots.  With so many ships out of commission or destroyed, the Enterprise had to pick up the slack.  We saw things, did things, that would break a lot of men.” McCoy shook his head. “You saw what it did to him, all those missions, all those people we couldn’t save.  Even after the Comforting, he wasn’t himself.  He was so lonely, Amanda.  What he and I have helped him, I think, and so did his friendship with Jim and his work mentoring Chekov, but it wasn’t enough.  And then Zarabeth.  I don’t know what it was exactly. I lied to Starfleet, and to Spock, and told them that in my medical opinion it was all because of going so far back in time, but I think it was because something in him was broken, and he picked up on something in her that might heal that empty space.  The minute they connected the bond was there.  But if he’d stayed, he’d have died.  Maybe that was part of it too.  His mind is so much more sensitive than a human’s.  Maybe the effect from not being prepared was already showing.”


“I don’t understand.” Amanda eyed the doctor with concern.  “Are you telling me Spock was bonded to her?  And what do you mean you went back in time?”


“I suppose I should explain it from the beginning...”




Sarek of Vulcan was not someone Dr. Leonard McCoy had ever expected to have sitting in his utilitarian short-term Starfleet quarters.  The man was intimidating, the doctor would give him that, but somehow having your hands on a person’s heart, literally, had a way of making even the most austere of personalities more human.  Of course, the ambassador would find that insulting...McCoy had to fight back his smile.  “Sir, to what do I owe the pleasure?”


“My wife was here to see you.” Sarek’s voice was grave.  “I know she agreed to accompany me on this trip for the sole purpose of interrogating you.  I wish to know what you told her.”


McCoy shrugged. “She wanted to know why I wasn’t trying to stop Spock from attempting kolinahr.  Apparently Jim’s been calling your house incessantly since Spock left, and she wanted to know why I hadn’t. I told her. Not sure why she thought I’d know what was going on with him...”


“You are t'hy'la to my son, doctor.  You need not hide this fact.” Sarek stated, his mouth nearly turned down.  “I can sense your bond with my son even from here.  It pains you both to be apart, yet my son persists in this endeavor.  I do not understand his motivations, and he will not enlighten me. Amanda, who was quite vocally opposed to this path, has completely reversed her position after a discussion with you.  Yet she refused to tell me why. I find this continued silence from my family disturbing.  I also find my son’s current behavior incomprehensible, although I will admit this is often the case.  I find myself at a loss where my son is concerned a good majority of the time.”


“I have no doubt you do.”  McCoy agreed softly.  “I’m sure Amanda is just concerned about what you would do with the information.  She doesn’t want to damage your relationship with Spock, not so soon after you started to repair it.  Having lived with the two of you, she’s probably afraid of how you’ll take it.”


“It is not I that risks that relationship.” Sarek’s mouth made the final movement into what could only be described as a frown.  “Spock’s pursuit of kolinahr is highly illogical.  While most would consider their child entering the monastery to be an honor, I find the prospect daunting.  There is much of his mother in him, and I do not wish to see him disregard her contributions so lightly and for reasons he will not divulge.”


“Do you honestly think that’s what he’s doing?” McCoy asked.  “Spock would never do that, Ambassador.  His mother is probably the most important person in the universe to him. This isn’t about him trying to be more Vulcan or less human.  This is something he’s wanted to do for a very long time. Recent events have just been enough to push him in that direction.”


Sarek exhaled and slowly took a seat on one of the regulation chairs that made up the nondescript apartment.  “I sense a great sadness in him, doctor.  A sadness I do not know the cause of.  He has abandoned his bond brothers, his career, and his t'hy'la.  These actions speak to a highly disturbed state of mind, one which I do not understand.  I even consulted with our healers, believing perhaps there was a problem that warranted their attention. Salok met with Spock, but he would not tell me what he found, only that Spock had much to overcome.”


McCoy sat down opposite him.  “Spock will tell you the whole story himself, when he’s ready,” McCoy insisted.  “I only told Amanda because it was the only way she could accept this, and I didn’t tell her everything.  I think I’ve broken Spock’s trust enough.”


“I do not need to know exactly what happened to lead Spock to this course of action.” Sarek steepled his fingers and McCoy’s heart lurched at the sudden reminder of his friend.  “I have managed to ascertain enough. Spock requires more healing then Salok or you can provide, and the damage is not something I as his parent can remedy.  I have seen many Vulcans who could not weather a broken bond.  I know the signs.” Sarek gave a very human sigh.  “I did not know Spock had found a mate.  I had believed he and I were on speaking terms again, and I would have been informed of such news.  I need to know,” Sarek paused to met the doctor’s eyes.  “I need to know if Spock did not tell me because he thought I would disapprove?  Have I failed my son so greatly that he would think I would deny his mate?  I went against my clan matriarch to bond with Amanda.  It would be hypocritical of me to deny him his choice.”


“No.” McCoy insisted, his voice breaking on the word. “He didn’t tell you because there was nothing to tell.  They were only together for such a short time before I had to make him leave.”


“She is dead.” Sarek stated. “He did not simply leave her.  The edges of the bond are raw in his mind. I can sense this without even a meld.  Did she perish in the line of duty?”


“No.  Nothing is ever that simple with Spock.” McCoy muttered darkly.  “But Zarabeth is dead, long dead, and for Spock it didn’t matter if they had hours together or years.  No amount of Comforting can make up for that loss; and t'hy'la or not, I’m the person who had to pull him out of there - and he only left in the end because if he’d stayed we’d both have died. If it was his choice, he’d have remained there even though it meant his own certain death.”


Sarek’s eyes darkened. “I could not imagine the choice between bondmate and t'hy'la.  If he spontaneously bonded with the girl, then the bond was likely incredibly strong.  Such things can happen unpredictably with unbonded males and the affects are often staggering in strength.  His bond with you, McCoy, must be equally strong for him to have chosen you over her.  T'hy'la bonds are rumored to be of such strength, but I have never experienced one to say for sure.  But I did fixate on Amanda and when she accepted to bond with me, the intensity of the experience was unexpected and dwarfed that of my first marriage by vast proportions. If Spock fixated, and then bonded, with this woman so quickly...” Sarek trailed off, a far away look of pain on his face.


McCoy shook his head grimly.  “Sir, I couldn’t tell you since this is all alien to me and t’hy’la or not, from the human side I don’t experience much normally. All I know is, I could literally feel what he felt for her trickling over and I tell you, I don’t know if our places had been reversed if I could have done what he did. Your son is a remarkable man and the best friend I could ever ask for. And to tell you the truth, if he’d have survived staying behind, I might not have insisted we go back.  But something in that time and place was affecting him badly. I could feel his mind slipping away by the minute. Another few hours and there wouldn’t have been a Spock to come back from Sarpedion.”


“Then you did what you must, for both yourself and for Spock.  For this I thank thee.” Sarek bowed his head slightly.  “I believe I have a better understanding of why Spock has chosen this path, although I still do not believe it is in his best interest.  However,” Sarek looked up and McCoy noted the barely concealed pain in his eyes as he stared off into the distance.  “I too know what it is like to lose a bondmate. And while my first wife and I were not as close as Amanda and I have become, the pain was still great.  To have lost so much with so little time is a great tragedy.”


“Sir,”  McCoy cleared his throat.  “May I ask you a question?”


“I believe you just did.” Sarek’s eyes flickered back to the doctor and a hint of mirth twinkled in their depths.  “But you may ask another.”


McCoy shifted uncomfortably in his seat.  “From what you are saying, it sounds like you would support Spock choosing his own mate. If so, why did you bond him to T’Pring as a child?”


“Had I known what would transpire, I assure that I would not have.” Sarek gave a small frown.  “I do not know if you will understand it when I say I wished to protect him.  But that was my goal, doctor, as it has always been.  There are many things we as Vulcans do not discuss with outsiders. You have come to know much of it.  As t’hy’la to Spock, you have a right to know all, at least in my opinion, and as Head of the House of Surak, next to the Matriarch, mine is the only opinion that matters.”


Sarek shifted slightly in his seat as if to get comfortable.  “I know you are aware of the particulars of Vulcan mating cycles.  But I do not believe you are cognizant of the social ramifications therein.”

“No.” McCoy admitted.  “Spock’s never really been one to explain Vulcan things in detail.  I’ve had to pull strings to get a Vulcan healer to discuss even non-taboo subjects.  Spock just doesn't open up.” McCoy shook his head and muttered, “even when it’s important.”


“No.” Sarek agreed softly. “Spock is not one to openly discuss matters unless they are external to himself. He could speak for hours about quantum physics, but he will not tell you of his day.”  Sarek looked down at his hands.  “I am likely to blame for this habit.  Amanda encouraged him as a young boy to speak his mind.  For a time I agreed.  But there a turning point when his voice raised against a decision from the clan and for his own protection I forced his silence.  I do not believe he has ever recovered from that experience.”


“What exactly happened to you two?” McCoy asked gently.


Sarek shook his head and looked back up, his eyes a deeper black then normal.  “It is of no consequence, doctor.  The story is an old one, and the pain it caused my House and clan is still fresh, more so for Spock and I than for most.  But that is not what brings me here today and it does not answer the question you posed.”  Sarek drew himself back up to his full height and took on an air of lecturer.  “The majority of Vulcan children are bonded at the age of seven with a light link, what we call a base-bond.  I believe you are aware of this?” 


McCoy nodded. “Spock did mention that.”


“Good.” Sarek took a deep breath. “This bond is done for two purposes. The first is to insure that when a male reaches his Time, he will have a willing bondmate. Having spent their childhoods with one another, it is thought the two will grow close and the female will be less likely to challenge.  Obviously this is not always the case.”


“You can say that again.” McCoy grumbled.  “So what’s the second reason?”


“Safety.” Sarek shifted uncomfortably.  “The first Time for a male can come unexpectedly.  He may have a week’s notice at best, and only if he is self-aware enough to notice the changes.  Most do not.  As we age and gain experience, we can tell far in advance when the cycle approaches.  Young males are not so privileged.  If they are base linked at seven, then not only do they not have to face the difficult task of selecting a willing mate at short notice and when they are far from their best, but they also avoid the risk of spontaneously fixating on a female - often without her knowledge or her will.”


McCoy frowned. “I don’t understand.”


Sarek’s mouth turned down slightly.  “An unbonded Vulcan male is unstable.  As a species we are meant to have bonds with many others, to constantly share on a subconscious if not a conscious level with those we are close to.  As t’hy’la you have some experience with what a deeper bond is like.  For most, the deepest bond they will know is with their bondmate.  They yearn for that experience.  Even the very young know that there is something more that awaits them.  They strive for that link to another living soul.  Their minds and their very being cry out for it.”  Sarek shook his head and looked away again.  “To be unbonded is to be adrift.  It has always been worse for our males. We know the Time approaches, and we are leery of it.

“As the Time draws nearer the urgency to bond is intensified.  Even if one does not actively search for a female, the subconscious is always prowling, attempting to find someone it can bond with.” Sarek gave a small sigh.  “Therefore, Vulcan males if unbonded are in many ways like a wild animal.  No matter the personal control, the innate need to find a mate is ever present, even outside the Time.  When a male finds a female his katra finds suitable, he fixates.”


“Fixates?”  McCoy raised an eyebrow.  “You mean he becomes obsessed?”


“Greater.” Sarek corrected.  “To fixate is to close the mind to all others.  The male will pursue the female to the exclusion of all else. Her existence and the bond he wishes to share with her are the only priority.  Even if the Time is years away, the cycle will accelerate in order to make mating, and thus bonding, a necessity.”  Sarek shifted again.  “In the best of cases the female is unbonded and willing to agree to the match.  In the worst of cases she may already be taken and unable or unwilling to break her bond and take a new mate.  In the days before Surak many females were taken against their will.  The high priestess created the child base-link and the koon-ut-kal-if-fee to regulate these practices and to attempt to put order to what is inherently chaos.”


“You lot really got the clubbing a woman on the head and dragging her to a cave thing down, don’t you.”


Sarek winced slightly.  “That is essentially what transpires after the koon-ut-kal-if-fee. Although the women are typically led to the cave rather then being dragged.”


McCoy frowned.  “I’m not sure that sounds all that better.” 


“I have been informed that it is not.” Sarek agreed softly. “However, since my only experience with this particular custom involves my being nearly insensible, I do not believe it is my place to judge.”


“There has to be a way around all that.” McCoy grimaced. “I’m starting to feel sorry for all the woman on your world.”


Sarek raised an eyebrow.  “I assure you, the current structure of the ritual puts the control in their hands, doctor.  Vulcan is essentially a matriarchal society no matter outside appearances.  We consider our females to be quite valuable which is why they rarely travel off planet.  It has nothing to do with limiting them so much as a societal sense of protection.  As for the bonding,” Sarek paused to consider his wording. “As for the bonding, it is also primarily a point of protection. If a male is base-bonded as a child he can only fixate on his bonded.  Thus, the risk to others is diminished.  Only in extreme cases where the base-bond is unstable and the male is unable to reach the female will the fixation lag or change direction.”


“So, you bonded Spock as a boy so he’d have a guaranteed mate and so he wouldn’t be dangerous?”  McCoy sighed heavily.  “Even when he was clean out of his mind he never got too bad.”


“Because of the base-bond.” Sarek argued gently.  “Had he not been base-bonded to T’Pring it would not have been safe for him to leave Vulcan at all.  As it was, when his cycle presented, he was still dangerous. He hijacked the ship to return to Vulcan. But had he not been base-bonded, he would have fixated on a member of the crew, and he would not have been dissuaded. The same mind that turned to getting to Vulcan at any cost would have turned to having her. He would have raped that female, doctor.  He would have taken her for his own without question or qualm.  And by the time any of the rest of you knew it was happening it would have been too late to stop it.”


McCoy shivered.  “I’ll be sure tell Christine how stupid she was then...”


Sarek’s eyes softened slightly.  “Human women are less likely to notice the signs.  Amanda was repeatedly warned to stay away from me, and she ignored all the warnings.  It is fortunate that when the matter was finally discussed between us she was willing to pursue a bonding.  I do not know what I would have done had she denied me. I had fixated on her some time prior, and it was all I could do to keep my distance and my Time was not near.”


“You fixated on Amanda?”


Sarek nodded.  “My first wife died unexpectedly. The broken marriage bond was still raw and painful in my mind.  I was sent to Earth because the healers and my matriarch believed that it was impossible for a Vulcan to fixate on a human.  They thought it best to limit my contact to Vulcan females until they had found a suitable bondmate for me.  As an older adult I was more stable then a young untested Vulcan male, but most would still consider anyone in my position to be a dangerous risk, especially around unbonded females.  Amanda came to work for the Embassy, and everyone believed there was little risk since she was a different species.  When I started to show an interest in her, she was warned that there was a danger but she did not know the full story and, as is her nature, she did not wish to abandon a friend or a mystery.  By the time she realized the full reality of the situation, I had already completely fixated on her.  I could not bond another, even with the assistance of healers.”


McCoy shivered. “So, if she’d turned you down, what would have happened?”

“I would have died when the cycle returned and my Time came.” Sarek informed him emotionlessly.  “Or, I would have found a way to abduct her against her will.  In either case, my life would have been forfeit.”


“So you wanted to spare Spock that experience?” McCoy asked.


Sarek shook his head. “Not just Spock, doctor, but everyone.  He could not have left Vulcan unbonded and untried and he would have been extremely limited socially at home since no unbonded female would risk being in his company until he was bonded and most females outside of immediate family would also have limited their association out of concern for their safety.  While some Houses keep daughters  unbonded so that they may make more favorable matches later in life, it is exceedingly rare to find an unbonded son.  To leave a son unbonded is to condemn him to what could possibly be decades of isolation.”


“Well, when you put it that way....”




“How ya feeling, son?”  McCoy asked, forced cheerfulness in voice.


Justin Danielson would have raised his eyebrow to show his awareness of the forced tone, if he’d had an eyebrow left.  As it was, he made do with a shake of his head. “Uncle Len, you know that’s the stupidest question to ask a burn patient in rehab. I feel like hell.”


McCoy grinned back at him and plopped down in the visitor’s chair.  “I know that. But it would be impolite not to ask.”  McCoy scanned the man quickly, taking notice of the skin grafts that were nearly healed on his face and hands.  Justin was sitting up in bed, his wheelchair pulled up next to him.  “Looks like the grafts are coming along.  You’re probably through the worst of that.  Thank God they finally found a cream to stop the contracture.”


Justin snorted. “Right, that and the scaring.  They are supposed to start the hair transplants next week.  Still trying to figure out what to do about my right ear though.  Apparently there was some kind of problem with the cartilage regrowth or something so I’ll have to wait on that.  I’m just glad I have a nose again.  I looked like Voldemort.”


“I still can’t believe that picture you sent Joanna and I from Halloween.” McCoy chuckled.  “Only you, Justin, would organize a burn unit into the cast of Harry Potter.”

“I have to keep the kids busy somehow and you have to admit, Sara made a perfect house-elf.  All the nurses and I had to do was figure out to stick socks on her for the ears.” Justin answered with a small sad smile.  “Other then the handful of us still here from the Enterprise it’s mostly kids from the Beta Larson colony.  Apparently there was some kind of industrial accident and the school was right next to the factory.  Half of them died before the colonists could get them out.  The other half are worse off then I am.  I figure, if I can’t make them better, at least I can help them laugh.  And I’ve always been good at making fun of myself.  And come on, what else is a noseless guy gonna be for Halloween?”  


“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I’ll give you that.” McCoy shook his head, his grin nearly ear to ear.  “I’m glad to see you recovering so quickly.”


Justin frowned, the tighter skin of his reconstructed face pulling slightly at the movement.  “I was lucky.  Somehow my eyes escaped.  Mercer isn’t doing so well though.  She’s gotten another infection. Seems like very time they take her in for surgery she comes down with another drug resist something or other.  They’ve got her in isolation now hoping that if they can keep her in ultra sterile air maybe they can get her past it.”


“Never fails. Every time we find a new way to fight infection, some new bug pops up.” McCoy grimaced.  “Or an old one mutates.”


Seeing his godfather’s good mood evaporating, Justin changed the subject.  “The captain came by yesterday.  He seemed a little out of sorts.  Said Starfleet was planning on promoting him.”


“Admiral.” McCoy shrugged.  “We all knew they’d try it.  Standard procedure for a major Fleet captain after a five year.  Did it to Pike too.  All Jim can talk about is how he’s too young for a desk.”


“I figured they’d at least give him fleet command.” Justin muttered.  “But an Admiral position at headquarters? That’s like a death sentence for a lifer like him.”


“It’ll be temporary.”  McCoy grinned darkly. “Old Jim boy will find a way back out there, mark my words.  He’s a hell of a captain and I wouldn’t want to be in Nogura shoes.  Being between Jim Kirk and his starship is a dangerous position.” 


Justin’s eyes darkened. “At least he’ll get back out there eventually. What I wouldn’t give to go with him.”


“There’s always hope.” McCoy eyed his godson’s wheel chair.  “There are plenty of positions on starbases and colony posts that your spinal injury won’t matter.”


“But not a starship.” Justin sighed heavily.  “Fleet doesn’t allow anyone with that kind of a disability into active positions on starships.  I know all the reasons, and I agree with most of them, you can’t really build wheel chair friendly emergency tubes.  It doesn’t make it suck any less.”  Justin shook his head to stop McCoy from speaking.  “Yeah, yeah, they could figure out how to repair my kind of spinal damage any day now.  They’ve been saying that for 200 years.”


“And they have made great progress.” McCoy argued. “There was a new article just last month that showed a real improvement in function with the use of those healing crystals from Meroth 9.  And the Vulcans have all sorts of things cooking.  It may not happen this week or even in the next couple years, but you’ve got to admit there’s a chance.”


“We really thought that last surgery would work.” Justin muttered.  “Mum was so excited about it.  But nothing took.  Apparently I’ve got stubborn nerves or something.  It works perfectly in 89 percent of patients.” Justin forced a smile. “I guess I’m special.”


“Knew that first time I looked at your ugly bald baby head.” McCoy joked.  “So how is your mom?”


“Still mad at you for going off to ‘Fleet and leaving her alone to defend Georgia from the Yankees.”  Justin smirked.  “She said to tell you hello if you stopped by and that the next reenactment is going to be next Friday at the Fort.  If you give her a call she’ll have them set up the doctor’s tent for you and dust of your old uniform.”


“Yes, because five years in space means I just can’t wait to get back to my old Civil War reenactment group.”  McCoy shook his head. “Did I ever tell you about when I met Lincoln?”


“Do not remind me.”  Justin laid his head back on his pillow in aggravation.  “How many times do I have to hear that story!”


“But it was LINCOLN!”


“But it was a forged alien plot!” Justin fired back, grinning again.  “Say, what happened to Mr. Spock? Scotty stopped by this morning and said he’d left ‘Fleet?”


“Ah.” McCoy’s good mood evaporated.  “Spock’s got some things he needs to take care of at home.  We dropped him off at Starbase 3 before we came back to port.”


“Things?” Justin asked suspiciously.  “What kind of things?  And why do you look so guilty?” Justin glared. “Did you finally run that poor man off, Uncle Len?”


“Not intentionally.”  McCoy shook his head.  “Look, can we not talk about Spock right now?  I’ve spent all day talking to first his mother and then the Ambassador.  I don’t need my godson giving me the Spanish Inquisition.”


“How about your daughter?”  a voice said from behind him.


McCoy whirled around and gapped at the figure of his daughter Joanna where she stood in the doorway.  “Joanna?  What the devil!”


“Hey dad.” Joanna smiled and stepped in, a vase of flowers in her arms.  “When you wrote and said you’d be back on Earth for a while before you took off for Yonada, I took some vacation and hopped a shuttle back.  Plus, I wanted to see Justin.  I didn’t expect to see you here. I figured I’d stop in and say hello to accident prone over there and then track you down.” She set the vase down on a table next to the window before moving to hug her childhood friend, only hesitating slightly at the sight of the still healing grafts. “How’s it going, Justin?”


“Peachy.” Justin smirked back at her. “Long time no see, neighbor.”


“What can I say, life, space, research...keeps a girl busy.” Joanna shrugged.  “Besides, you left home first, mister. Then you talked dad into following you. Not my fault I couldn’t visit you two on that hunk of floating metal.”


“How’s the research colony thing?  Invent any new forms of wheat?” Justin asked slyly.


Joanna rolled her eyes. “Right, because wheat is the only thing that we research on Cerberus.  How many times  do I have to tell you, I work in a genetic diseases lab.  I study mental degradation due to aging.  Idiot.”


“That would be why you all nearly starved to death.”  Justin replied.


“Why you annoying prat!” Joanna started to argue but McCoy broke them up.


“Kids, no fighting in the burn ward. If you want to cause a scene, please let me leave first.”


“No way, dad.” Joanna rounded on him. “I want to know more about what happened with Spock.  All your letters were all ‘Spock this’ and ‘Spock that’ and all of a sudden last week you sent a whole letter with nothing but plans to retire from ‘Fleet and help that asteroid world get settled.  Not even a mention. And now I hear Justin say Spock went back to Vulcan?”  Joanna shook her head. “I really wanted to meet him and the others, especially Kirk.  I heard so much about them all.”


“No way am I letting you any where near Jim Kirk.” McCoy glared at Justin as he snickered.  “That walking hormone is a man-whore and I don’t want my little girl getting mixed up in his shenanigans.”


Joanna laughed until she turned red and sunk down onto the edge of Justin’s bed. “Man-whore?  What would he say if he heard you call him that?”


“What makes you think he hasn’t?” McCoy crossed his arms.  “Now Scotty isn’t half bad as long as he knows you’re off limits.  And I’d love to introduce you to Christine and Uhura. But Christine’s at med school, and Uhura already left to visit her folks so neither of them are still in Frisco.”  McCoy frowned slightly. “And Spock’s on Vulcan.”


Joanna and Justin shared a look.  “Dad, come on.  What’s going on with you two?”


Justin nodded.  “I’ve been wondering that too.  The whole crew could tell something was up with you both. Now he’s back on a world he hated, and you seem even more morose then usual.”


“I am not morose.” McCoy muttered glumly.  “I’m just a little at a loose end.  My tour is over and after I check in with the first contact group and the Yonada, I’m not sure what I’ll do.”


“And Spock not being here has nothing to do with it?” Joanna questioned gently. “Come on, dad. We both know you and I’m not exactly clueless.  I could tell you were more than a little interested in him.  Did he freak out or something when you talked to him about it?”


McCoy sighed.  “No.  Not that we ever really talked about that kind of thing, Joanna.  I wasn’t in love with him. He was just a good friend.”

“Riiiight.” Justin drew the word out.  “I had fifty credits riding on you two moving in together at the end of the mission.  Scotty will probably be around to collect soon, so I want to know why I lost my money.”


McCoy spluttered. “The crew was taking bets?”


“Did you think we were blind?”  Justin laughed.  “Honestly, a good group of people thought you were on your honeymoon during that trip to Vulcan.”

“Because escorting a dying Vulcan woman who’d been tortured until she lost her mind is a good start to a romantic getaway.” McCoy grumbled.  “Justin, I know rumors make up a good amount of entertainment on a starship, but I’d kindly suggest you use some common sense.”


“I didn’t say I believed it. I just said people talked about it.” Justin shook his head.  “The way you two argued, it was like an old married couple.  And apparently people saw you hugging when you dropped me off for the trip back here.”


Joanna nodded.  “I even figured that out in your letters.  I thought I’d pop over to Earth and meet my future step-dad. Or whatever you call him.” Joanna frowned. “Justin, what do you call your dad’s husband?”


“Sir?” Justin suggested with a grin.


“You two are incorrigible. I should have never let on to you I was pansexual.”


“Probably correct.” Joanna agreed.  “But you are still avoiding our question.  What the heck is going on with you both?”


“It’s rather complicated.” McCoy eyed the two younger people carefully.  “And the Vulcans don’t really want this bandied about.”


“But we’re family.” Joanna argued. “And it’s just Justin and I.  We wouldn’t gossip about you.”


“But you’ll take bets.” McCoy glared at his unrepentant godson. “Alright, not a word of this to anyone, and that includes your mother, Joanna.  I do not want a call from my ex-wife complaining about my peculiar life choices, got it?”


“Got it.” Joanna mimicked zippering her lips shut.

“Classified Intel.  Take it to my grave.” Justin agreed, his hand over his heart.


“Alright.  I guess I’d better start with the bond...” McCoy carefully explained the complex nature of his relationship to Spock, glossing over anything he knew Spock would be against anyone knowing, including the mating drive.  Justin and Joanna’s eyes grew larger as he continued to explain, ending with the story of what happened on Sarpedion with Zarabeth.


“That’s...”  Joanna started, tears in her eyes.  “That has to be the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard.”


Justin looked at her in shock.  “That bond thing or the fact that he freaking married some cavewoman he didn’t even know and almost got your father killed when he refused to leave her sorry ass behind?”


Joanna sniffed. “Both. I mean, can you imagine?” Joanna turned bright eyes to her father. “So what’s it like, having him in your head all the time?”


McCoy frowned. “Now don’t get any bright ideas about finding your own Vulcan, Joanna.  There’s a few things I left out. I’d rather see you hooked up with Jim. You’d be safer. Vulcan’s a strange place, kiddo.”


“I have no interest in finding out firsthand, thank you very much. I’m quite content to live vicariously.” Joanna pursed her lips.  “But really, what’s it like?”


“It’s not like anything really.” McCoy’s gaze lifted to stare off into the distance. “I don’t have any psi ability, so unless we’re touching I don’t pick up on much unless Spock intends for me to, or unless there’s something really unusual going on. I could feel him more on Sarpeidon, I think, because he wasn’t in emotional control like normal.” McCoy’s gaze dropped down. “But now that he’s so far away, it’s’s like a part of me is numb.  I don’t know how to explain it.  It’s not a feeling or a thought so much as a quiet.  That bone chilling quiet that you only notice after the noise stops, like how when you’re on a ship you don’t hear the engines or even notice the sounds they make until you pull into space doc and they shot off.  It makes you nervous and anxious to have the noise back. Only I had no idea it was even there.”


“Doesn’t the whole marring other people thing bother you two?” Justin asked gently.  “I mean, you had that woman on Yonada and Spock had this Zarabeth but you’re both thela.”


“T’hy’la.” McCoy corrected absentmindedly.  “It has complex meanings, most all of them non-sexual.  And it’s not like we’re together.  We are just really close friends.  Vulcans call it bond brothers, only with t’hy’la it’s a bit deeper then the typical familiar bond.  But we aren’t even interested in each other beyond what we have.”


Joanna and Justin shared another look. “Keep telling yourself that.” They both chorused and laughed.


“I mean it.” McCoy frowned. “Spock is not interested in that kind of thing.”


“But what about you?” Joanna asked softly. “It’s been a long time, dad.  You always sounded so lonely in your letters. Especially after that thing with Nancy.  But as soon as you started talking more about Spock, I could tell you were happier.”


“Spock doesn’t need that from me.” McCoy insisted.  “He’s got to figure himself out before he’s ready for a relationship.  Besides, we’re too good of friends to jeopardize that.”


“You have got it bad.” Justin informed him in a firm voice.  “I’d say it’s third stage denial.”


“I’d have to agree.” Joanna frowned.  “But Spock’s gone, so what does it matter?”


McCoy shook his head. “He’ll be back.”


“And you’ll be waiting?” Justin asked.  When McCoy didn’t answer Justin turned to look at his childhood friend. “Joanna, you’ve got to get this man some whiskey.  He’s gonna have a long wait.”


“I really hope not.” McCoy muttered under his breath as his daughter and his godson quietly argued about the best way to cheer up the doctor.  “I really really hope not.”




On Vulcan a lone figure sat in a cleft between two large rocks, his head bowed in meditation.  The empty places in his mind where two broken bonds twisted like banners caught in the wind sent shooting pains through his body and his katra.  The remaining links were extended and stretched tight, the distance between them and the negligible psi abilities of the others limiting his impressions of his bond brothers, even his t’hy’la was hard to feel anything concrete from.  But that is what he needed.  He needed the quiet to heal the broken pieces of himself that were twisting uselessly inside him. The first broken bond had plagued him since childhood and until now he’d been unwilling to address it. If he healed the damage, then he was admitting that the bond would never be repaired and a part of him still longed to find his brother...  But that bond was nothing compared to the new loss.  The place where she had been for so short a time.  How was it possible to have this much pain from the absence of something he’d only known for a few hours?  Spock did not know.  But painful it was, and painful it would stay until he found the strength to overcome it. 


He just hoped they would understand, that McCoy would understand.  He knew it hurt Jim and the others that he’d had to leave.  He knew that his terse goodbyes had confused them.  But it had taken all his strength to make it this far, to drag himself home to the sands of his youth and the monastery he’d contemplated for so long.  This was something he had to do. 


His t’hy’la would understand.  His t’hy’la had said he’d be there if Spock needed him and that he would always lend his support.  But this was something he had to do alone, and McCoy’s medicines would not fix the wounds he now sought healing for.  All he could hope for was that when it was over, when he’d managed his task, his friend would not have forgotten him.




The word burned in his meditations.  T’hy’la. His katra replied. 


A small frown flickered across Spock’s features. T’hy’la was a complicated thing.  A deep personal thing that few would know.  Sarek had never known such a bond, nor had any other Vulcan of Spock’s acquaintance.  The shimmery gossamer thread of the bond was still intact in his mind, a steady if silent presence next to the broken bonds and for the first time Spock wondered exactly what that meant for the future.

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