Salt in the Wound

                                              SALT IN THE WOUND

                                                By Mary Barnes

Series: TOS
Pairing: S/Mc, Mc/Nancy
Rating: PG-13/R-ish for nightmarish themes
Disclaimer: Star Trek, its characters and universe, all belong to Paramount/Viacom. I own only this story, and I haven’t made a cent for it.


McCoy pulled the sheet over the dead crewmember’s face and let out a deep sigh.  He had finished with the three autopsies of the ENTERPRISE crew, all died of complete sodium chloride depletion.  Medically impossible’, he had said, now those words had meaning and definition.  The cause of the deaths were intertwined with memories of his past and an encounter with a now extinct alien life form.   A piece of his heart was a victim of this macabre ordeal; Nancy had held that part of his heart.  Though they parted more than ten years ago, she had been a sweet memory after his turbulent divorce.  Nancy always gave without strings attached, an unconditional love.  The one area he could have returned this love was a permanent bond, marriage.  He had failed miserably in his first marriage and he could not fail Nancy.  One of the characteristics that made him an excellent physician and surgeon was the obsession not to fail and to achieve perfection.  It also was a one way door that excluded all other priorities in his life.

The ruins of his marriage and the broken ties with Nancy were testament to this. 

However, as Chief Medical Officer of the ENTERPRISE he was able to meet his high standards and still have the family that he needed.  Thank God he had Jim Kirk and Spock in his life or he would be drawn into the vortex of his grief and the horror of the events that had just transpired.    Suddenly his stomach churned at the haunting vision of Nancy sponging the life force from Jim.  The two people that he cared for were grotesquely twisted into opposing images.  If Spock had not intervened and released him from the spell that encompassed him like a suffocating cocoon, Jim would be one of the bodies that lay in the morgue.

McCoy rubbed his tired and burning eyes then rubbed the knotted neck muscles.

It had been two days after the deaths and then performing the post mortems on the young men he had served with had been agony.  Jim did not like to lose his crewmen for any reason and the deceptiveness of the alien and Crater added to Kirk’s anger and remorse. Thankfully M’Benga assisted him with the autopsies of the alien and Professor Crater. 

I’d better be finishin’ the final reports’; he thought and collected the small flat computer cassettes that represented  the medical and personal lives of the victims.  He hesitantly sat at his desk gingerly fingering the cassettes then vehemently slammed the first one in the recorder. 

“Crewman Green” He started and began to methodically dictate the termination of a short life.  When he came to the creature’s post mortem he had the most difficulty. 

What had Jim told him, Nancy died one or possibly two years ago?  She seemed so real, no ‘it’ seemed so real. When he saw her for the first time, she was so young, fresh and beautiful in contrast to the abandoned, decaying ruins around her.  Then as she was more age appropriate, she was still beautiful and time had aged her gracefully.  Probably how she looked when the creature killed her.  McCoy broke the thought by pounding on the desk top.  Crater, that damned bastard, how could he let that thing live after what it had done to Nancy?  To let it assume her image, let it touch him, live with him and love him.  The very idea of this made McCoy ill.  He lay his head down on his desk.  What would he have done?  Alone on a planet without anyone but it, Nancy dead and buried and now a bizarre chance to resurrect her?  Had Nancy appeared to Crater like she appeared to him?  McCoy recalled Nancy’s gentle touch, her warm embrace, the desire in her eyes and her eager lips.  McCoy gasped as his head snapped up in revulsion of the thought of what may have transpired.  There were conflicting scenarios playing in his mind as he had been alone with her and felt the familiar touch and heard her soothing voice.  She…it had drugged him and stayed with him while he was in a deep, vulnerable sleep.  Why was he spared?  Perhaps there was a remnant of Nancy still alive in that thing, an alien to the alien that saved him.  McCoy’s eyes squeezed shut and hot tears trailed down his face.

What had it said to him, ‘I prefer your feelings better…you have such strong memories of me’.  A strong memory, that’s what he had alright, did those memories buy him time or save his life? 

Stop it, McCoy!’ he shouted inside.  Trembling fingers attempted to massage his pounding temples, the pressure of his headache throbbed adding to his misery.  A sob escaped his lips and the tears increased.  He was so damned tired, sleep had been impossible especially in his quarters.  Nancy had died there and Jim almost died there.  He could still see her mouthing the words ‘No, Leonard,no…’.  Quickly he covered his eyes but her ghost remained, he could hear his pulse hissing warningly in his ears.  The scenario played over and over now mixed with the sound of Jim’s screams echoing in his quarters.  Worst of all, Spock sprawled on the floor against the book case, the bandage on his forehead reinforcing the truth of his words, ‘Is this Nancy, Doctor?’   He had seen Nancy effortlessly knock the strong Vulcan Commander across his quarters.  Before that Spock trying to wrestle the phaser away from McCoy, ordering him to shoot the creature as it was ‘killing the captain’.  McCoy rocked in his chair his head cradled in his hands, the headache increasing in intensity and his stomach burned from all of the coffee

on an empty stomach.  A feeling of nausea and the need to vomit over powered him and he leapt to rush to the restroom in Sickbay.  As he flew out of his office, he ran into Christine Chapel.  He mumbled his apologies as he pulled from her grasp and barely made it in time as he convulsed over a toilet.  Each heave into the toilet drove the headache into a higher agonizing level.  After his stomach had ceased its spasms, he was able to calm down.  He washed his face and hands not even bothering to look at his reflection in the mirror.  If it was a reflection of what his soul was going through, he did not need the physical image.  When he emerged from the restroom, Chapel was waiting for him.  Her expression of annoyance quickly changed to one of concern.

“Where you here all night?  Doctor, you have to sit down now…you are so pale.”

She said taking his arm and trying to guide him to a chair.  McCoy attempted to move around her but was too weak and allowed her to place him in a chair.

She brought over a cool cloth and bathed his face, the action helped to rally him back to his senses. 

“Thanks, Christine, I’m feeling better.”  He murmured not meeting her eyes, he was too embarrassed. 

“What have you been doing all night?”  She asked.

“Dictating the autopsies and going over the lab and pathology reports.”  Another wave of nausea hit him and he bent over, covering his face with the wet towel.

He felt her cool hand at the back of his neck.  “I’ll be alright, just too much of this coffee.” 

Christine hesitated a moment then removed her hand.  “I’ve made that mistake before.  Do you want any toast or crackers?” 

McCoy shook his head as he slowly sat up.  Chapel winced as she looked at his face.  “Do I look that bad?”  He asked.

“You look like a zombie…go to your quarters and sleep!”  Her order was emphasized by her hands placed on her hips.

His quarters… no not going there.  “I’ll get some breakfast then rest in my office.”

She started to say something but he could read in her face that she understood his hesitation to return to his quarters.

“I’ll make sure you are not disturbed when you return.”  She said with a sympathetic smile.  He nodded his thanks and headed for the officers lounge.

It was 0530, only a few officers were present.  Jim usually worked out before breakfast and Spock had his tea in his quarters.  McCoy ate some dry toast and drank some tea.  The comfort and warmth of the breakfast relaxed him; now he was bone-tired weary.  The walk back to Sickbay seemed a long way to go.   He pulled himself up and walked with his head down and his eyes half closed to the lift.  McCoy slept on the cot in his office until 0820, when he was awakened by Chapel notifying him he was late for the officer’s meeting. 

McCoy stumbled into the briefing room and sat down.  As he poured himself a cup of coffee, he spilled some of the coffee due to his hands trembling.  The cup shook in his hand as he lifted the cup to his mouth, his eyes met Spock’s.  He took several sips of coffee then attempted to place the cup back down on the table.  Spock’s dark eyes noticed the trembling and a quizzical eyebrow shot up, the rest of his expression was unreadable.  McCoy scowled and looked away from the piercing brown eyes.  A warm hand clamped down on his shoulder, McCoy looked into concerned hazel eyes. 

“How goes it, Bones?”  Kirk asked his friend.  “I’ve hardly seen you in a while.  You look exhausted.”

McCoy smiled wanly, “I’m okay, Jim.”

Kirk returned a dubious smile and stared into his friend’s eyes, he noticed the dark circles around the blue eyes were very pronounced.  He gave McCoy’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze and then continued with the meeting.

McCoy noticed Scotty was giving him a more cheerful than usual greeting and Uhura was giving him warm and sympathetic smiles.  Sulu smiled his usual bright smile.

As the meeting progressed, the cadence of Kirk’s voice lulled him into a relaxed state, until an imperative beckoning pierced its way into his subconscious.

“Medical report, Dr. McCoy!”  Kirk demanded.

McCoy’s head jerked up, he quickly glanced around the table.  Embarrassed that he had fallen asleep he looked sheepishly at Kirk. 

“I’m sorry, Captain.  What did you say?”  He asked, his voice was groggy from sleep.

Kirk looked at him with a mixture of annoyance and concern.

“Medical report.”  Kirk reiterated.

“Uh, the crewmembers died of the same cause, sodium chloride depletion…”

Kirk interrupted, “We were discussing our current mission, the epidemic on Delta  Sigma IV, Doctor.  What is the medical department’s status?”

  “Uh…”  McCoy closed his eyes to concentrate, “I believe we are to rendezvous with the AVENGER, where we will receive additional supplies.  Then we orbit

Delta Sigma IV to relieve the medical teams already stationed there.”

Kirk half smiled, “Very good, doctor McCoy.”  He turned to the others, “Meeting dismissed.”

McCoy started to leave but Kirk’s strong hand pulled him back into his chair.

“Bones, are you sure you’re alright?  You’ve never slept through a meeting before.  You look like you haven’t slept, you look like hell.  Have you gotten any sleep?”

McCoy looked down as he lied, “Yes, I got some sleep”, but as he looked back up at Jim he realized the captain knew better.

“Do you need to talk about it?”  Kirk asked as he laid his hand on McCoy’s arm.

“No” McCoy said almost too quickly, Kirk increased his grip on his arm.

“Bones, you have had a terrible shock.  It’s obvious you haven’t slept or for that matter changed your uniform.  Your hair isn’t combed and you haven’t shaved…”

Kirk realized he was practically squeezing the life out of his friend’s arm, he relaxed his grip.  A smile softened his face, “I’m sorry I have been taken out my frustration of the crewmen’s deaths out on you.  Come on, Bones, I’ll walk you to your quarters and we can have a glass of…” the smile vanished as he saw the color drain from McCoy’s face.  “What’s wrong, Bones?”

“I can’t go back there, Jim.  Nancy died there.”  McCoy hung his head, “I can’t go back there.”

Kirk looked over at Spock to see the concern in the dark eyes.  Spock was quietly assessing the situation.

“Bones, Nancy died almost two years ago on that planet.  It was the alien you killed who is dead.”  Kirk gently reminded him.

McCoy’s stomach spasmed again, he swallowed hard fighting the nausea.  “You almost died there, too, Jim.  If Spock hadn’t intervened….”  McCoy looked over at Spock.  The amount of pain and anxiety in the doctor’s eyes overwhelmed Spock.

McCoy’s eyes filled with tears, “I’ll be in my office, I almost let that creature kill both of you.  If you’ll excuse me…”  McCoy left the briefing room.  Kirk almost followed him but Spock stopped him.

“Captain, I think that it is wise to discuss how we will approach the doctor.  I believe that he is burdening himself with too much that happened.”  Spock said looking at the closed doors of the room where McCoy had exited.

Kirk sighed, “I may have compounded that burden. That’s Bones for you, Spock, he may not show it at times but he cares very much for the crew and the responsibilities of being the CMO.  It’s one of the reasons why I chose him.  I wouldn’t be here if McCoy hadn’t been my physician when I was wounded early in my career in Starfleet.” Kirk said.

“I am very concerned for him, Captain; did you notice that his hands were trembling?” Kirk shook his head.  “The importance of the Delta Sigma IV epidemic has been his priority for weeks and he had trouble recalling the details of his assignment.”  Spock said; the seriousness of Bones’ condition was very evident in Spock’s words and expression.

Kirk nodded at Spock, “As usual, you have made your observations clear.  I’ll look in on him.”

“I think both of us should, Jim.”  Spock said.  He did not have the deep level of friendship that Jim had with McCoy but he sensed that Jim was not taking the doctor’s condition as seriously as he should be.  The question was how to approach the problem without stepping beyond the duties of his rank and the boundaries of his friend’s relationship.



After leaving the briefing room, McCoy paused midway down the hall.  He felt foolish about his behavior in the meeting.  He had to return to his quarters sometime, delaying his return would only increase the pain and add to his feelings of guilt. When he stood in front of the doors to his quarters, a strong band around his midsection tightened and he almost turned away.  However, he was exhausted and he did not possess the strength to return to Sickbay.  He took a deep breath and entered his quarters, the automatic doors hissed eerily behind him.

Everything lay where he had left it, he didn’t straighten up his quarters after he killed that creature.  Getting Jim to Sickbay was his priority and he wanted to check out Spock as well.  He looked at his wrinkled bed where he been unconscious for hours.  Scattered on his bedpost were the red sleeping pills; ironically danger red.  The books still remained on the floor where Spock had been tossed and the chair that Jim had collapsed in was turned toward him.  The walls were beginning to close in on him, he felt nauseated, dizzy and disoriented.  Muscles in his neck and back were screaming for rest and his leg muscles felt dangerously close to collapsing.  Suddenly, the buzzer to his quarters broke the silence and he jumped spasmodically.  Gathering his breath and wits he yelled,

“Who is it?”

“It is I, Doctor, Spock” the calm voice came over the intercom.  “May I come in?”   

McCoy said nothing, he leaned against the wall.  The throbbing headache had returned.

“Doctor, are you able to respond?” Spock’s voice asked a little more emphatic.

“Come in, Spock.”  McCoy replied and he did not look at Spock as he entered his quarters.  “What do you need?”  When Spock did not reply, McCoy turned and looked at the First Officer who was staring at him questionably.

“Please excuse the intrusion, Doctor.  I realize that you have gone through a difficult ordeal.”  Spock shifted uncomfortably, “I have come by to inquire if there is anything I can do for you or if there is anything that you need.”

“No, I’m fine, Spock, thank you.”  McCoy replied as he dragged his sleeve across his sweaty forehead.  Spock stepped closer to him and McCoy nervously eyed the bandage over Spock’s left eye.  A sudden flash of the Vulcan being slammed into the bookcase played before his mind’s eye. McCoy had learned from Jim that the creature had attacked Spock in Sickbay before the encounter in his quarters.

“I do not want to disagree with you, Doctor, but you have never slept through a staff meeting before.  Judging from your personal appearance, I would estimate that you have not slept in more than forty hours.  I observed your hands shaking most notably in the briefing room.  That is also not characteristic of you.  You usually possess rather stable motor skills.”

McCoy did not know what to say, sarcastically he blurted out, “Too much coffee, I guess.”  Another wave of dizziness ran through him, “Is there anything else, Spock?”  McCoy asked as he stumbled over to his desk chair and sat down.  He stared at the floor as he took some deep breaths.

“What you have gone through has been difficult for you.  I trust that you will not push yourself any further; you appear to have gone past your level of endurance.  It is quite apparent that you have neglected your nutritional as well as rest requirements.  This is hardly fitting for a Chief Medical Officer.”  Spock said trying to get the Doctor’s attention.  McCoy did not answer or even acknowledge that he had spoken to him in a way that would usually have brought on one of McCoy’s infamous tirades.

McCoy had indeed heard him and he wished that Spock would leave.  His presence was a constant reminder of his inability to recognize that Nancy was not who she seemed to be and his reluctance to defend Jim.

“Doctor, do I have your attention?”  Spock asked.

McCoy sighed and raised his head and made a brief eye contact with the dark eyes, and then he looked back at the floor.

Spock studied the exhausted and pale man; he also noted that McCoy’s hands were shaking.

“Are you alright, Doctor?”  He asked. 

McCoy’s voice was soft, “I’m fine.”

“Whatever you say, Doctor.”  Spock replied patiently waiting for McCoy to look up at him.  Then McCoy’s brow furrowed and slowly he did look up Spock.

“Spock, there is something that I have to say to get off my chest.  I don’t know how to say this but I am very sorry for my behavior and the way I acted.  Every time I think of Jim paralyzed by that creature and me paralyzed by my selfish, unwillingness to believe my friends words…..Oh, God, Spock, if you had not intervened Jim would be dead.  If you had not come in….” McCoy could not continue.  The apology and confession relieved him but weakened him.  Like a worn, eroded support beam in a decaying house; his head fell forward and his shoulders sagged.

Spock’s reply was gentle, “Do not reprimand yourself so, Doctor.  You acted quickly and appropriately.  Had I not entered I do believe that you would not have let the creature kill the Captain, regardless of your past attachment to Nancy’s memory.  The alien was clever in its deception.  It knew whose form to assume to preserve or insure its survival.  From the accounts of the incident, you were not the only one completely fooled by its chameleonism. In fact, the creature assumed your form during a briefing and no one detected the deception except Professor Crater and myself.”

McCoy’s blue eyes widened, “How did you know it was not me?”  He asked.

“The creature was far more illogical that you have ever been.”  Spock said bringing in the familiar banter that they shared.

“Oh.”  McCoy said not taking the bait.  He took a deep breath and asked,

“Perhaps you are the only one who can answer this, Spock.  Why was I spared, why did it let me live?”

Spock shifted uneasily, “I can only speculate on the relationship of the creature and Professor Crater.  There may have been an emotional suggestion from Nancy’s memories of their relationship and the strong security of your memories and emotions.  I believe the creature to have been a telepath.  The creature used this ability to gain the images and behavior of the person it was impersonating.

It also used this ability to physically paralyze its victims.  As for your survival, it is fortunate for the ENTERPRISE that we did not lose our CMO.”

The pleading emptiness in McCoy’s eyes did not vanish and a haunted look was beginning to surface.  Spock was unsure how to proceed.  McCoy was difficult to approach under normal circumstances; there was no predicting which way the pendulum was going to swing as far his emotions were concerned.  The Doctor’s emotional well being was in a very fragile and unstable balance.  Spock could sense the psychological turmoil and physical exhaustion emanating from McCoy.

Spock had not worked with McCoy for very long but just long enough to know that he was one of the most complex and emotional humans he had ever known.

Even more disturbing, the Doctor made him look at his human half.  McCoy was a constant irritating mirror of that part of himself that he had learned to keep hidden and out of reach.  Yet this irascible, unpredictable human had predictability to his actions and the man before him was defenseless and broken by the latest casualty in his life.  However, Jim understood this unusual human and would be able to shed some light on the situation.

“Is there anything else, Doctor?”  Spock asked hoping McCoy would break the intense stare.  “I would recommend that you try a mild tranquilizer, this might assist you to sleep…”

“No drugs!”  McCoy yelled his voice cracking.  “No drugs” he repeated softly.

Then after an awkward moment of silence, McCoy straitened and gained some composure.  “I’m sorry, Spock, I’ll get some rest.”  He stood up and walked over to Spock, “Thank you for your concern and for coming by.”

“You are welcome, Dr. McCoy.  Again if there is something that you need or any other way that I can be of service…”  Spock said.

McCoy only nodded silently and Spock left him facing the closed doors.


Sleep seemed impossible for McCoy.  When he lay on his bed, he would wake up after only a few minutes, his skin tingling from a ghostly touch.  His mind kept replaying the moment that he was drugged and gently stroked to sleep by Nancy’s hand.  How long had he lain there while she/it sat at his bedside caressing him?  Numerous times he stumbled over to refill his empty glass with whiskey.  Each glass promised to be filled with forgetfulness, but each empty glass gave his dreams twisted and distorted dimensions.  A troublesome nightmare kept resurfacing and no matter how he tried to change the events, the dream continued on the same macabre course.  McCoy was down in the pathology lab watching the sheet wrapped corpses: the crewmen, Professor Crater and the alien.  He walked over to the alien’s body, its sheet wrapped form almost glowing in the stark light.  As he got closer, the form had a familiarity to it. Then from under the sheet a hand dropped, a small delicate hand.  Fear grips him as he reaches for the sheet and pulls it back.  Nancy!  Beautiful Nancy as she was years ago.  Remnants of tears were still on her pale cheeks.  Gently McCoy wipes one cheek, the skin is so cold.  Suddenly her eyes open, locking onto his eyes and her ice cold hand grabs his wrist.  A raspy comes from her dry mouth.

“Why, Leonard?”  She gasps.


McCoy’s head bolted upright from his desk where he had fallen asleep.  His heart was hammering violently in his chest and his respirations were harsh, rapid and burning in his throat.  He had to get out of his quarters immediately.

Wearily he trudged out of his quarters and headed to the security of his office, he was protected there.  The lift doors were his goal down the hallway, he concentrated on them as he made way down the seemingly longer corridor.  So intense was his concentration and his tunneled vision that he did not notice Rand and Sulu.  He did not notice them enter the lift with him for his eyes were closed.  He focused all of his energy on reaching Sickbay.  The only thing he heard was the sound of his heart beat and his breathing.  The lift doors opened and the hallway to Sickbay wavered and tilted.  The effects of the alcohol and lack of sleep were rapidly claiming him.  When he reached his office he breathed a sigh of relief.

He sat down in his desk chair and looked at the computer cassettes still waiting for him.  Angrily he knocked them across his desk and they scattered across the floor.

One of those cassettes could be Jim’s.  He buried his face in his hands.

“Someone help me!  Make the ghosts go away.” He cried.

A slight noise made him raise his head.  Janice Rand was picking up the cassettes off of the floor.  Carefully placing them on the desk, she looked at him with great concern.

“Can I get you something, sir?  You look like you could use some coffee or even some supper.”  She stepped closer to him.  “I’m sorry for what happened; it must be very painful for you.”  Her blue eyes were misting with the beginnings of tears.

It was then McCoy realized that he was crying.  Tears were flowing down his face; abruptly he wiped away the tears.  His voice was coarse from the alcohol and weariness.

“No thank you, Janice.  I don’t need anything right now.  I need to be alone.”

“Sometimes it helps to talk about it.  You loved her very much, didn’t you?”

She asked as she moved next to his chair.

“Yes, I still loved her…” He said as his head fell forward on to his hands.

He felt her gentle hand on his shoulder, “Let me know if you need anything, I will be on the bridge.”  She left quietly; the hiss of the doors whispered her departure.

McCoy lay down on the couch in his office and sobbed uncontrollably.

At some point he must have fallen asleep, he did not know how long he had slept.

A noise awakened him.  Wearily he stretched and stumbled out in to the main Sickbay.  There was no one there, staff or patients.  He went back into his office, it was dark, and the lights were off.  A rustling noise came from somewhere in his office.

“Who the blazes is in here?  Lights on!”  He commanded.   The light revealed nothing.  Aware that he was hyperventilating, McCoy slowed his breathing.

He looked around his office, there was no paper or material that had made the sound.

Damn it, McCoy, you’re slippin’, boy!”  He thought to himself.  He turned around to go back into Sickbay when an uncontrollable scream burst from his mouth.

Standing in front of the doors stood Nancy.   His heart pounded loudly in his ears and the room began to spin.  McCoy had never fainted in his life but as his vision began to darken, a fine film of sweat coated his skin and the engulfing numbness informed his that the first time was imminent.  Nancy had a sickly sweet smile on her lips and she headed for McCoy.

“Go away!” He screamed.  “You’re dead, I certified that.”

“Leonard don’t be afraid.  It’s Nancy, remember?” She said as she continued her slow stalk towards him.

“Go away!  You’re not Nancy, you killed her years ago.  This charade has got to stop.  You killed Professor Crater and my crewmates.”  The vehemence in his tone did not deter her march towards him.

She was inches away from him now, looking up at him pleadingly and harmless.

“I made you and M’Benga think you were doing an autopsy on me, my body has amazing regenerative powers.  Your emotions make me strong, Leonard; I have not felt such power before.”  She reached up a hand to touch his face but he grabbed her wrist.

“No! Don’t touch me!”  He commanded hoarsely, but the wrist in his grip was warm and soft.

“Leonard, darling, I will not harm you.  I love you and I can feel that you still love me.”  Her other hand was caressing his face gently and rhythmically.

McCoy could feel his tired muscles relaxing and his grip on her wrist loosening.

Nancy’s eyes were beckoning his full attention and her mouth was becoming more enticing.  Then he pulled her into his arms, she felt solid in his embrace.  He could not discount the fact that she was here.  McCoy had encountered more

bizarre life forms than this.  Rapid tissue regeneration was not uncommon in other alien life.  He had been cheated time with Nancy, cheated a chance to love her back and a chance to say ‘goodbye’.  McCoy bent down to kiss her lips and the kiss was tender and sweet.  As the kiss grew more passionate, he could feel her hands caressing his neck and chest.  She gently nipped his lip and laughed then kissed his neck as her hands slipped up under his shirt.  McCoy’s breath hitched and his desire for more contact increased.  They made their way to his couch and she gently pushed him down, she resumed her kissing.  One of her hands grabbed the back of his neck while the other stroked his face and he pulled her closer to him.

Her kiss was demanding and intoxicating, it was making him breathless.  He closed his eyes and groaned with pleasure.   Nancy gently broke his embrace and her hands moved down his shoulders and down to his wrists.  Suddenly the once delicate touch was now crushing in its intensity.  McCoy’s eyes snapped open

and he beheld a horror he could never have imagined.  He looked into sunken receded eyes, an almost nonexistent nose and sharp teeth were bared in a grotesque gaping mouth.  McCoy screamed and struggled against its grip, but he was no match for the creature’s strength.

“Don’t struggle so, Leonard.”  Nancy’s voice projected from the monstrous mouth.

Remembering Spock’s words that it could hypnotize its victims, he shut his eyes and still attempted to make the futile struggles against the iron grip.  McCoy was losing his strength and he was gasping for air.

“Relax, Leonard, don’t fight me.”  The creature said as it gathered his wrists together into one large hand and the other seized his face.  McCoy tried to shake the grip on his face but the digits of its hand dug into his skin.  “Open your eyes and look at me!”

“Stop it!  Stop it!”  McCoy yelled.  He took a deep breath he cried out with his remaining strength, “Jim! Spock!  Help me, help me!”  Then he started sobbing as the greedy contact was absorbing his life.  Weakness and hopelessness were engulfing him and darkness was flooding in his mind.

Then he heard the doors to his office open.

“Oh, Bones what is it?  Spock help him!”  Kirk cried out as he rushed to McCoy’s defense.  The creature released McCoy and he opened his eyes to see it turn and strike Jim hard.  The force of the blow sent Jim flying into McCoy’s desk.  The captain crumpled and lay motionless on the floor.  Spock bent down to check Kirk.

The creature rose from the couch pulling McCoy with him.

“Spock, watch out!” McCoy cried as the creature struck the back of Spock’s head and he fell unconscious on top of Kirk.

Then it turned back to McCoy, effortlessly pulling him up by his wrist and carrying him back to the couch.  Both huge hands clamped on his face and McCoy desperately clawed at the hands trying in vain to break the contact.

He heard a groan by his desk then Kirk yelled,

“McCoy, damn it!  McCoy, come on man wake up!”

Wake up?

“Doctor, you must concentrate, you are in danger.  Concentrate on my thoughts.”

Spock’s voice said inside his head.  McCoy could feel his strength returning and the once cold fingers of the creature’s were Spock’s very warm hands on his face.

McCoy opened his eyes and looked into Spock’s intensely dark eyes, then over Spock’s shoulder into Kirk’s face.

He was on his couch and Spock was seated next to him.  Spock’s hands moved from his face and down his arms.  McCoy scanned the room, there was no creature.

“The creature…where is it?  Are you and Jim okay?”  He asked Spock.

“There is no creature, Doctor; you were alone in your office.”  Spock said.

Kirk moved in closer.  “You had us scared, Bones.  Thank goodness Sulu and Rand saw you and contacted us.  They said you looked very ill.  We came to check on you and heard you screaming for help.  You were on the floor by your desk,

then you became unresponsive.”

“That’s when he called in the troops.”  Dr. M’Benga said.  He and Chapel were standing by his desk.

“I had a horrible dream; the creature had returned and attacked you and Spock.”

McCoy said falling back on the couch.  He covered his eyes with his arm then he felt his hair being brushed back from his forehead and a cool cloth applied.

Christine had brushed his hair back with her fingers and placed the cool cloth.

“Thanks, Christine.”  He said.

“You’re welcome.  You’re going to be okay, Boss.”  She whispered softly.

Embarrassed, McCoy closed his eyes and his pale skin became flushed.

Spock remained seated at his side, he kept one hand on the Doctor’s arm.  Kirk pulled up the desk chair and sat down. 

“Bones, I know that this has been hard for you, but Nancy died two years ago.  She was dead long before we set foot on that planet.”

McCoy removed that cloth from his forehead and sighed, “Jim, we’ve been through this topic before.”

“I think that we need to go over it again.  The events are obviously still bothering you.  You look awful.”  Kirk stopped and studied his friend’s face, the pallor had returned and McCoy’s eyes were sunken and rimmed with dark circles.  “Even Spock is worried about you.”

McCoy looked at Spock who nodded, “Indeed I am concerned.”

“Well, thank you both for your concerns and for rescuing me from my nightmares.”  McCoy said to his friends.

“Come on, Bones, we’ll take you to your quarters.”  Kirk said rising from the chair.

Spock rose from the couch and support McCoy to a sitting then a standing position.  McCoy stood wobbly for a moment and he leaned into Spock’s support.

Then he was accompanied by his friends to his quarters.  Kirk helped him with his shower and change into his lounge clothes.  When he lay down on his bed he fell asleep immediately.

During the night he felt the creature’s cold touch on his face again and bolted awake.  There was a soft light on in his quarters and Spock was seated at his desk looking at the computer screen.

“Spock, you’re still here?”  McCoy asked groggily.

“Yes, Doctor, the Captain and I thought you might need some company.”  Spock said as he approached McCoy’s bed.  “Jim went to get some sleep approximately two hours ago.”

McCoy lay back on his pillows.  His dark hair loose over his forehead, it framed his heavy lidded blue eyes well.  Spock adjusted his blanket then stood by his side.

“Thank you for helping me, Spock, there is no way I could have coped with this without your help.  I’m glad that you are spending the night with me.”  McCoy said, a faint blush colored his cheeks.  He felt like a scared kid, he couldn’t tell Spock that he needed his Vulcan strength to fight the boogey-man under his bed.

“You are quite welcome, Doctor.” Spock replied.

McCoy smiled up at him then his eyes closed and he fell back asleep.

Spock returned to the desk and watched McCoy for a while.  The images that he witnessed in McCoy’s mind had been worrisome.  However, what surprised him was the compassion the doctor had for him.  Such an enigma, this sleeping human was and how strong his endurance was.  Spock pondered on the feelings he encountered from McCoy.  How ironic that the Doctor would accuse him of keeping his own emotions hidden and yet McCoy was guilty of the very same thing.  Perhaps the cloaking of emotions and feelings was a way they could function on this ship, or with each other.   Fascinating, indeed.    



                                                              THE END

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