The Boxer

The Boxer

 

Author: Ellen Smock

Disclaimers:  the usual

Rating: G

Genre:  Friendship, Academy Fic.

 

 

 

 

(Stardate 4040.7 Planet 4, system 892, Spock and McCoy are each fighting opponents using swords, apparently in a soundstage designed to look like an arena.)

 

SPOCK: Need any help, Doctor?
MCCOY: Whatever gave you that idea?
ACHILLES: Fight, you pointed-ear freak!
MCCOY: You tell him, buster. Of all the completely ridiculous, illogical questions I ever heard in my life!

 

*********

I was no more than a boy 
In the company of strangers

 

********* 

 

Stardate 942, StarFleet Academy

 

Cadet Spock looked at his schedule for the upcoming term in evident confusion.  He knew that he had let his confusion show on his face because another Cadet, a Miss Abraham, enquired if he was in need of assistance.  Pulling himself together, Cadet Spock politely declined the offer and made his way to the Counselors’ Offices.

 

Counselor Breen had been Spock’s Counselor since his first day at the academy.  Spock had come to count on Breen’s insight into Vulcan culture in choosing classes.  Spock did not doubt that the schedule in his hand was a mistake and Breen would be able to rectify it.  Certainly no one who understood anything about Vulcans would schedule him for a class as barbaric as “Boxing”.

 

Fortunately for Spock, Counselor Breen was just finishing up with another Cadet when he arrived.  Breen nodded at Spock through the glass and indicated it would just be a moment.  Spock waited patiently for the other Cadet to finish and completely exit the waiting area before stepping into Counselor Breen’s office.

 

Before Spock could speak, Counselor Breen said “You’re here about the boxing, aren’t you?”

 

Spock blinked in surprise.  The fact that Breen knew what was on his schedule meant it was far less likely to be a clerical error.

 

“Yes, sir.  I do not understand why I have been scheduled for this activity.”

 

“It’s the rules, Spock.  Each Cadet is required to study and display skill in one on one combat.”

 

“But, sir, as you are aware, the standard education of Vulcan youth includes extensive training in multiple forms of physical combat.”

 

“Yes, Spock, I do know that, thank you.  However, we’ve used the “standard education of Vulcan youth” to get you out of any class you’ve found less than desirable for over 3 years now and the higher ups aren’t going to stand for it anymore.  The word has been handed down, Spock:  Either you take, and pass, a class in hand to hand combat or you don’t graduate.”

 

Spock swallowed hard, quickly searching his mind for other options.

 

“If that is the case, sir, there is a Tai Chi Chuan class on the schedule for this semester.  I am sure that would be more suitable.”

 

“Yes, and if you’d signed up for it when registration slips were first handed out, you might have gotten into Tai Chi Chuan.  But, you didn’t.  And, I was told to put you in a class this semester or else.  Boxing is the only thing open Spock, you’re just going to have to accept it.”

 

Spock looked down, hiding his disappointment.  “Yes, sir” he finally managed to mutter.

 

Breen reached over and gave Spock a quick tap on the arm. “Besides Spock, it won’t be that bad, I swear.  Why are you so against boxing anyway?  It’s a great sport.  In fact, I used to coach it before I got tied down to this counseling office.”

 

Spock looked into his Counselor’s eyes, processing this new information.  Counselor Breen had always been supportive of Spock. In the 3.48 years Spock had been at the academy, Breen had never given him bad advice.  If Breen was a fan of the boxing, then there must be more to it than Spock’s experience suggested.

 

Spock decided his best option was to share his experience with Breen.  Perhaps the older man could help him find an alternate perceptive.

 

“Sir.  I mean no disrespect for a sport you value.  I have only had one experience with boxing and I found it most disquieting.  On the thirteenth day of my first semester here, my roommate, Cadet Jenkins, encouraged me to join him at an amateur boxing match being held in the gymnasium.” 

 

Spock seemed to consider whether he should impart the next piece of information.

 

“I gathered it was not an academy sanctioned event as I was requested to “keep my mouth shut”.  While reluctant to engage, even as a spectator, in what was likely a violation of academy rules, I recalled your advice to “loosen up” and “behave like one of the crowd” so I went along….”

 

Breen snorted quietly.  Of course Spock would only violate rules because Breen had told him to “loosen up”.

 

Spock paused, ashamed as he recalled the disgust he’d felt as his fellow students cheered on one particularly large Cadet leveling punch after punch on a smaller man. The smaller man wore a shirt identifying him as from another school.  Eventually the smaller man’s nose had been broken and red blood—something Spock still found disturbing—covered the floor.  The cheers this sight brought from his fellow cadets had sickened him.

 

Spock tried to keep his voice from betraying his feelings.  “It was unpleasant sir.  There was a great deal of noise and a man was seriously injured.”

 

Breen had listened patiently to Spock’s story.  He’d seen the disgust and shame flitting across the boy’s face before the mask of Vulcan stoicism settled into place.

 

“I trust the man recovered?”

 

“Affirmative sir.  I contacted his school’s infirmary the following day. He was already preparing to be discharged.”

 

Breen doubted anyone but Spock had been concerned enough to check on the condition of that young man.  He was once again struck by the many contradictions between the fašade presented by Vulcans and the reality embodied by this boy.  While Vulcans were perceived as cold and uncaring, Spock was perhaps the most empathetic Cadet to come through his door.

 

“Spock, I’m sorry you had to see that.  While injuries do happen, they are not the goal of the participants and they shouldn’t be the goal of the observers.  Did you know that boxing used to be called The Sport of Gentlemen?”

 

Skepticism flashed briefly in Spock’s eyes.  “No, sir, I did not.”

 

“Well, it’s true.  Why don’t you read up on it?  Coach Dorian is pretty old fashioned in his approach to boxing.  I’m sure you will find it tolerable, or at least, not entirely without merit.”

 

Spock nodded.  “Yes, sir, I will research it.  Thank you sir.”

 

As Spock left, Breen chuckled softly.  He had no doubt Coach Dorian would be faced with a Cadet who was fully educated on the subtleties and history of all aspects of boxing.  He punched up Coach Dorian’s line to tell him just that and to give the good Coach some insight into the character of the young man who would be a reluctant participant in his class.

 

 

Spock immediately found a computer terminal for his research.  He was pleased to discover that Commander Breen was being truthful (not that he had serious doubts, but Spock knew humans often saw truth in a much broader spectrum than he did).  Boxing was considered a pursuit for Gentlemen.  Properly done, and judged, it was possible for the participants to complete a competition while escaping injury.  Much as points in fencing are awarded for “hits” which would have caused serious injury under other conditions, points in boxing were awarded as much for the fact that contact was made, as for the strength of the blow.  A punch need only display some strength, not cause injury to earn the boxer points. The automatic award of a win based on having knocked one’s opponent out could be viewed as protecting the injured party from further abuse.

 

Considerably heartened, Spock returned to his classes convinced he would find Boxing, as Breen had said, at least not entirely without merit.

 

**********

Still a man hears what he wants to hear 
And disregards the rest 

**********

 

Initially, Boxing was very much as Counselor Breen had suggested.  Spock and his classmates spent most of their time in physical conditioning and fake combat with things called “punching bags”.  The smaller bag recorded speed of punches while the larger bag recorded the force behind the punch.  Spock was free to exert all his strength without fear of causing injury to a classmate.  Being both naturally agile and significantly stronger than his classmates, Spock quickly set academy records on both bags.  When Coach Dorian gave him this news, Spock asked that it not be made public.  He was sure his classmates would take it as more evidence of his alien nature.  While it would be illogical to be ashamed of not being fully human, Spock had found that emphasizing the fact often resulted in discomfort among the other Cadets.

 

On the seventh day Coach Dorian announced that they would begin “sparring” with each other.  Spock’s research had told him sparring was a kind of practice fight where neither party attempted to harm the other.  Spock felt he would be able to restrain his punches sufficiently; something he was compelled to assure Coach Dorian of in light of his record breaking results with the punching bags.

 

Sparring was more interesting than Spock had supposed it would be.  Indeed, the need to evade his opponent while attempting to score points required a great deal of concentration.  Far from the “brutal fighting” Spock had anticipated, these matches were both physically and mentally challenging. 

 

Coach Dorian noticed that while Spock sparred well, he never got support from his classmates.  In all other matches, there seemed to be an equal number cheering for each fighter.  No one cheered for Spock. 

 

Dorian was not pleased.  He had hoped the Cadets would be above petty prejudices, but it seemed that Spock was not regarded as one of the group.

 

Dorian asked Counselor Breen to observe when Spock was scheduled to spar next.  Afterwards, Breen called Spock over.

 

“You boxed well.”

 

“Thank you, sir.  May I say I have found boxing to be very different from my expectations.”

 

“I’m glad, Spock.  But, I noticed something…..Coach Dorian has noticed it too.  Um..”

 

Now that he had Spock’s attention, Breen was unsure how to broach the topic. 

 

“Does it seem to you that your classmates are giving you the same support they give each other?”

 

Spock looked genuinely confused for a moment.  “I would not expect such a thing, sir.  Do you find something unusual in their responses?”.

 

Breen wondered—as he had in the past—at how this young man could miss slights which would have sent most cadets running to his office.

 

“Well, it is a bit unusual.” He offered.

 

“I respectfully disagree, sir.  I have noted humans have a tendency to identify most closely with those with common traits and experiences.  When such a person is pitted against someone whose experiences are vastly different, someone whose very appearance is different, it is not unusual for a feeling of camaraderie to develop among those witnessing the event.  The “us against them” effect is very common.”

 

Breen suppressed a sigh. Of course, Spock would have an educated, logical explanation.   But the fact that he’d researched it told Breen Spock had, at least at some point, been hurt by the phenomenon.

 

“But, you’re their classmate too, Spock.”

 

“I am Vulcan.”

 

“Okay, Spock.  I get it.  I’ll let you get back to the gym.  I’m glad you’ve found boxing to be a pleasant surprise.”

 

“Thank you, sir” Spock said before obeying the implicit order to return to the gym.

 

Breen watched Spock join the rest of the class who were discussing that day’s matches.

 

“What we need” Breen thought “is someone else to fill the role of “them” in the minds of the Cadets.   Someone who will make them embrace Spock as having common experiences and traits.” 

 

**********

 

A pocket full of mumbles such are promises 

 

**********

 

Three days later Coach Dorian made a surprising announcement: a boxing team from a nearby medical school would be traveling to the Academy next week to box with the Cadets.

 

“While there won’t be any prizes or anything, these matches will be refereed and scored. So, let’s all make the academy proud.”

 

Dorian tried to keep his eyes moving over the cadets, but found it impossible not to watch Spock’s reaction.  First the same moment of surprise shown by everyone, followed by a quick flash of what looked like suspicion then possibly humor before returning to his normal, emotionless pose.

 

“Ah, well….” Dorian thought “I guess it won’t hurt that he’s seen through the plan.”

 

Monday found the gym packed.  Crowded against one wall, huddled together, were 23 people wearing shirts that identified them as coming from the University of California at San Francisco Medical School. Spock noted that only 1 was a woman while 7 members of the Academy Boxing class were female.   

 

The groups joined together for some basic warm up exercises before Coach Dorian announced the planned schedule.  The guests were being housed in the as yet unopened new student dorms, a fact which initially caused some grumbling from the Cadets living in the old dorms. Once word spread that the plumbing was definitely incomplete and all 23 guests were sharing 2 bathrooms the grumbling stopped.  They would be here through the week.   In addition to time spent in the gym, the future doctors would be learning about alien life forms and given experience working with Star Fleet medical equipment.  Someone, apparently, had made the case that “doctors who box” were more likely to consider a career in Star Fleet.

 

The first day would be general work outs and the distribution of opponents.  Actual matches would begin the next day with at least 4 matches planned per session.

 

Spock noticed that the Cadets seemed excited by the prospect of getting to take on opponents from another school.  Several even approached him to say how “great” the experience would be.  Spock thought Coach Dorian would be pleased his plan seemed to be working.

 

When it was Spock’s turn to discover whom his opponent would be he was reluctant to take the paper.  The enthusiasm he sensed from some of his classmates was close to what he would have called “bloodlust”.  There seemed to be a desire not just to box with these future doctors, but to beat them as badly as possible.  This went against Spock’s Vulcan upbringing.  He knew he should refuse to participate.  However, Spock also knew that this event had, at least in part, been put together to help him assimilate better and it would be ungrateful—and possibly unwise—to risk angering his Coach and his Counselor by refusing.

 

**********

 

I have squandered my resistance

 

**********

Spock had made peace with the fact that serving in Star Fleet would, at times, go against the traditions of Vulcan. While he would try to minimize it, he knew he would—at times—have to engage in battles, even hand to hand fighting if the stories told by the upper classmen were true.  He understood that this was part of being in Star Fleet and grudgingly accepted it.  These matches, then, could be endured.

 

Spock took the piece of paper from his coach and read:  “Leonard McCoy”.  Spock was momentarily—and somewhat ashamedly—relieved that he hadn’t been pared with the one female from the Medical School.  But, other than that, the name told him nothing.  Casting his eyes around the room he realized the name gave him no clues.  Humans had long since ceased being isolated by geography and skin tone.  McCoy was as likely to be the very tall dark skinned man leaning against the wall as it was the smaller blue eyed man now walking in his direction.  Spock’s curiosity was put to rest when the blue eyed man spoke. 

 

“Are you Cadet Spock?”

 

“Affirmative.”

 

“You’re Vulcan, aren’t you.”

 

“Affirmative.  And, you are?”

 

“Oh, sorry.  Leonard McCoy.  It seems like we’re going to be fighting each other.”

 

Spock looked the medical student up and down, determined that while he was slim, he also appeared healthy.

 

“I prefer not to use the term “fight”.  We are scheduled to engage in a boxing match.”

 

McCoy covered a small laugh.  “Okay, we’re scheduled to engage in a boxing match.  I guess you can call it whatever you like since you’re going to wipe the floor with me.”

 

Spock understood the term “wipe the floor”, but had learned that pretending ignorance of Earth colloquialisms was a way of engaging in what humans called “small talk”.  The deception was perhaps only a minor step off the true Vulcan path and it had served Spock well. He cocked an eyebrow and enquired “wipe the floor with you?”

 

“Beat me.  Badly.  You’re going to win the match, Cadet Spock.  No question about it.  According to this we’re the last match on the day after tomorrow…you’ll be an Academy hero before you know it.”

 

“Are you without any skill?”

 

McCoy laughed outright at this.  “Oh, I have skill.  I can dance around with the best of ‘em.  When it’s me and the punching bags I do just fine…but when it comes to taking a swing at a live person, I can’t do it.  And, I hate watching it.  It turns my stomach to see people trying to hurt each other this way.”

 

Spock was genuinely surprised.  He had assumed that all humans enjoyed a certain amount of violence.  Clearly his classmates at the academy were not an adequate sampling. 

 

However, it did not appear that McCoy was representative of his own classmates.  When the first of the boxing matches began, Spock noticed that they cheered as enthusiastically as the Academy Cadets.  Indeed, only Spock and McCoy did not crowd around the ring for a better view.

 

“Mr. McCoy, I admit to some surprise.  May I ask why you are here if you find the sport so distasteful?”

 

McCoy’s laugh sounded ironic, even to Spock’s untrained ear. “I guess I did it to myself.  I hate that medical school has a physical education requirement.  Just seems stupid if you ask me.  So, I didn’t sign up.  I thought I could talk my way out of the class.  Who was I fooling?  Not only did they force me to take physical education, they stuck me in the worst, most inhumane physical education class there is:  Boxing.”

 

McCoy’s tale sounded very much like Spock’s. Spock was surprised that no one had suggested McCoy do the same research Counselor Breen had told him to do.  Spock was sure the information he’d discovered would have comforted McCoy.

 

“Rest assured that I have no intention of causing you pain if it can be avoided.  I, too, was reticent to take part; however, a study of the history of the sport convinced me that there is no need to inflict deliberate harm on the other.”

 

With that, McCoy and Spock settled into an amicable conversation in which Spock shared his research on the sport of boxing and how he felt it could be made to fit reasonably well within the philosophy of Surak.  Spock was surprised to find McCoy was familiar with Surak.  He took this as another sign that McCoy was atypical. 

 

McCoy shared his reasons for wanting to go into medicine, his conviction that he could never knowingly bring harm to another.

 

Spock realized that he and McCoy had a great deal in common, despite their disparate backgrounds and very different physical appearances. McCoy was interested in space and had considered signing on with Star Fleet, but felt constrained by his engagement to a young woman.  From McCoy’s comments, Spock determined the woman was not of his own choosing, but someone his parents expected him to marry.  Spock could certainly sympathize.  However, he also felt a twinge of shame as he realized McCoy had no intention of dishonoring his family by running away from the promise he had made.  McCoy was obviously a man of great honor and Spock found he was oddly grateful to boxing--a sport neither man wished to participate in—for bringing them together.

 

**********

 

All lies and jests 

 

**********

 

Spock had meditated longer than normal last night.  He knew that the plan he had devised went against the most basic of Vulcan beliefs.  It was dishonest.  It was a lie.  But, try as he might, Spock was unable to come up with a plan which had the potential to do as much good as this one lie.  If successful, McCoy would gain stature among his classmates and Coach Dorian would not have wasted time and Academy resources setting up the interschool boxing event.  Spock was going to lose the fight against McCoy.

 

In Spock’s research he’d learned that he was far from the first person to set out to deliberately lose a fight.  There was even a term for it: “throw the fight”. 

 

However, Spock hoped for more than just a loss.  He had read about highly skilled, physically strong fighters being defeated with one punch to a vulnerable spot.  He learned the phenomenon was known as “having a glass jaw”.  Spock hoped to give the impression that he had a “glass jaw”.  His overall standing as a skilled fighter should remain untarnished but—if he was correct in his analysis of human behavior—the “flaw” of a glass jaw should cause his classmates to regard him with sympathy and possibly even affection.

 

Spock would have no difficulty giving the impression of being “knocked out”.  A simple alteration to his blood pressure at the correct time would cause him to lose consciousness.  Even someone with a medical scanner would be convinced.

 

There was a small possibility that Counselor Breen, with his knowledge of Vulcans, would suspect, however, Spock trusted him to be discreet and hoped that if that conversation was necessary, Spock could persuade Breen of the logic in his decision.

 

The only concern Spock had was McCoy.    While McCoy had been receptive to the idea of boxing without inflicting injury, for Spock’s plan to work, McCoy was going to have to land at least one fairly strong punch to his face.  Spock doubted he could convince anyone that Vulcans could be brought down by a blow to the body.  Their reputation for physical strength was too ingrained.  However, Spock was sure that few, if any, humans had seen a Vulcan hit in the face. 

 

McCoy could not know of the plan.  Spock was sure that the highly moral doctor could not be convinced to go along.  But, without knowing the plan, would McCoy aim for his face?  Spock himself found it more difficult to aim for his opponents’ faces.

 

The day of the scheduled fight arrived.  As had become habit, Spock and McCoy stayed back from the ring during the early matches, conversing quietly about anything but boxing.  However, as the match before theirs began to wind down, Spock turned to McCoy and said:  “You shall have to hit my face.”

 

McCoy looked up sharply.  “What did you say?”

 

“When we box.  You shall have to hit my face.”

 

“Why would I have to do that?  I don’t think I can.”

 

Spock tried not to let his nervousness show.  This was the critical moment.  If he could convince McCoy to punch him in the face, his plan would work.

 

“I have been monitoring the judging of the earlier matches.  The judges have not been adhering to a strict interpretation of the rules.  They are withholding points from boxers who make no strikes to their opponents’ faces.” 

 

There.  Spock had done it.  He had lied.  In fact, he’d lied multiple times.  It was true that he had been monitoring the judging of the earlier matches.  However, the judges had been above reproach in their interpretation of the rules.  Not only would it be within their discretion to consider facial blows superior to body blows, they didn’t seem to be doing that.  One match had been won by a fighter who’d made no punches to the face.  Spock was confident that McCoy had not noticed as he seemed to consciously avoid looking at the ring.

 

McCoy rolled his eyes.  “Well, it’s not like I was going to win, Spock.  Why do I have to hit you in the face if I’m just going to lose?”

 

“Is it not preferable that you appear to try to win?  I assure you, you cannot hurt me.  Vulcans are much stronger than humans.  The possibility of you injuring me is less than 2.743%”

 

“Less than 2.743%, you say!”  McCoy chuckled.  “I ought to pop you one just to let some of the air out of that big head of yours.”

 

**********

But the fighter still remains 

 

**********

Spock felt almost confident as he and McCoy were called to the ring.  McCoy seemed to want to prove that Spock was over confident.  To do that, he would have to score points and, as far as McCoy knew, to score points he was going to have to punch Spock in the face.

 

Spock thought his first attempt at deception was going surprisingly well.

 

As Spock and McCoy began to dance around each other in the ring, Spock heard something completely unprecedented.  The Cadets around the ring were cheering him on. 

 

“Come on Spock!”

 

“Let him have it, Spock!”

 

“Show him how Star Fleet does it!”

 

 

In 3.48 years no one other than Counselor Breen and the occasional teacher had encouraged Spock.  He had been challenged.  He had been derided.  He had most often been ignored.  But he had never been “cheered”.  Spock found it was a somewhat heady experience.    

 

McCoy and Spock continued to circle, each making the occasional contact with a shoulder or bicep.  Spock wondered if he could provoke McCoy into taking a punch at his face.  He reached out and deftly tapped McCoy on the forehead.  McCoy jerked back, unhurt but obviously surprised.  Still, he made no move toward Spock’s face.  Spock tried again, delivering a quick, soft blow to the side of McCoy’s face, enough to redden it, but hopefully not leave a bruise.

 

The sight of Spock landing punches on McCoy’s face drove the Cadets to more emphatic cheering.  Obviously they thought the fight was coming to a head.

 

Spock seemed to have the majority of the crowd support.  McCoy’s fellow medical students sounded more concerned about McCoy’s welfare than that he should take a more active role in the fight. 

 

“Watch it there Len!”

 

“Just hang in there, McCoy!”

 

This, more than Spock’s assumed 2.743% chance of injury seemed to spur McCoy forward.  Seeing McCoy positioned himself to send a right straight to his nose, Spock turned to take the punch on the jaw and triggered the drop in blood pressure that would send him to the canvas.  Spock was completely oblivious to the fist already making its way from the other side. The punch hit Spock square in the nose.  Unable to stop the drop in blood pressure, Spock crumpled to the floor, green blood flowing freely down his face.

 

**********

In the clearing stands a boxer 

**********

Spock was vaguely surprised to find himself in a bed.  His plan had been to quickly regain his feet and walk from the ring.  Something unforeseen must have happened.  As his senses cleared, Spock became aware of considerable pain.  Reaching up, he touched his nose only to find it bandaged. 

 

“Hey, there…none of that.  Leave the bandages alone.” 

 

McCoy.  Spock recognized the voice.  And, with that recognition came the memory of a gloved fist slamming into his nose with considerable force.  Spock had the impression he’d heard a crunching noise as his nose caved in. 

 

Carefully opening his eyes, Spock looked in the direction of the voice.

 

McCoy’s expression was difficult to read.  Concern, obviously, but perhaps some guilt?  and something else…. satisfaction?

 

“Hey, Spock.  Do you remember what happened?”

 

“You broke my nose.”  Spock said…though, he was quite sure he heard “Doo bwoke by noze.”

 

“Yeah, Spock, I did…sorry about that.”

 

“I was under the impression you were unable to hit another being in the face.”  Spock wondered if McCoy would even understand that given the ridiculous sounds he was making.

 

Apparently, he didn’t.  McCoy’s response was a laugh.  “Listen, why don’t you stay quiet for a bit?  I’m sure you don’t want anyone else hearing you sound like a three year old with a cold.  Your nose has been surgically repaired.  The bandages need to stay on at least a day.  After that you should be back to normal.”

 

“Tak Doo”….Spock decided to heed McCoy’s advise immediately.

 

He raised an eyebrow and cocked his head at McCoy, hoping the man would understand his implied question.

 

“What happened?”

 

Spock nodded.

 

“Well…the doctors don’t really know.  I hit you and you went down.  Your blood pressure was extremely low, even allowing for the blood loss.”

 

Spock must have given McCoy a clue that he wasn’t surprised by that information because he stopped talking and glared at Spock.

 

“What?  Did you do something?  Do you know why you passed out?”

 

Spock was glad of McCoy’s suggestion to remain quiet.  He raised both eyebrows in a gesture his mother had called “puppy dog eyes” and gave a small shake of his head.

 

McCoy did not seem convinced.

 

“Right…sure you don’t know.”  McCoy reached for the bed controls. “I’m going to raise your head very slowly, if it causes you any discomfort, just lift a hand and I’ll stop, okay?” 

 

Spock nodded.  He found himself clutching the blanket as his head began to rise.  Willing himself to relax, Spock breathed slowly.  While his head felt odd, it was not what he would call painful.

 

McCoy continued with his story while he adjusted Spock’s pillows. “Well, like I was saying: one great thing about a boxing team from medical school is our coach is a surgeon.  He took one look at your readings and had you carried to the infirmary.  Like I said, they repaired your nose and we’ve been monitoring you for the last half hour.”

 

A half hour since the surgery?  How much time had Spock lost?

 

Spock tipped his gaze at McCoy and tapped on his wrist.  It was something Spock had seen other cadets do to ask the time when they were otherwise engaged and unable to ask a question.  As humans did not now wear timepieces on their wrists, Spock assumed the gesture was historical.

 

McCoy understood.  “It’s 17:30 hours.  You’ve been out for an hour and a half.”

 

Spock nodded his thanks.

 

“Listen, I gotta go tell your team you’re awake.  I’m gonna tell them you can’t talk yet, okay?  Though…If you want them to think you sound cute???”

 

Spock furrowed a brow at McCoy as he stepped out of the room.  His team?  He could understand if Coach Dorian were awaiting news.  He would not be surprised to find Counselor Breen had asked to be notified.  But McCoy had said he was going to tell his team.

 

Spock’s thoughts were interrupted by Coach Dorian followed by three members of the Academy boxing team.  Spock recognized them as Cadet Gonzales, Cadet Bereket and Cadet Gao.  He blinked in surprise.  These were the Cadets who had expressed excitement over the matches with the Medical school and Spock recalled them being among the most vocal of those cheering him on in the ring.

 

Could it be they considered Spock a friend?  How could he not have been aware of that?

 

Spock realized he must still be dazed by the afternoon’s events.  He had clearly missed a question from Coach Dorian.

 

“You in there Spock?  You seem a little out of it.”

 

Spock nodded carefully.

 

“Good.  You just take it easy.  I don’t mind telling you, you gave us quite a scare there.  I guess we all forgot about that green blood of yours.”

 

Cadet Gonzales pushed her hair back, leaned toward Spock conspiratorially and whispered:  “Johnson threw up! You should have seen it!”

 

Cadet Johnson was near the top of the class.  Tall and blonde, Spock was aware she had many admirers.  Apparently there were some who did not, however, wish her well.  Spock did not know what benefit he would have gotten from witnessing her distress, but offered an eyebrow lift and cock of the head to suggest he appreciated Gonzales’s thought.

 

Spock was having difficulty following the multiple conversations.  Clearly he had not fully recovered from whatever medication the surgeon had given him.  Just as Spock was considering how he could ask for quiet, Counselor Breen and McCoy joined the now crowded room.    Breen gave McCoy a pat on the shoulder and Spock heard him mutter “Thanks Len” before coming to Spock’s side and giving his arm a quick squeeze.

 

“How are you, Spock?”

 

Spock merely nodded then turned his eyes to McCoy who seemed to take the hint.

 

“He’s not supposed to talk yet.”

 

Breen looked between the two men then chuckled.  “Sure, whatever you say.  Listen, Len.  I really want to thank you.  It was great of you to stay with Spock.  I know your team wanted to take you out for a celebration dinner.”

 

McCoy looked like he might follow Cadet Johnson’s lead and lose his lunch.  “Celebrate?  What’s there to celebrate?  A man gets his nose broken and loses consciousness and we celebrate?”

 

“Whoa….don’t get worked up.  They just want to congratulate you for winning the match, that’s all.  Maybe you should see if you can catch up with them.  It’s not too late to let them buy you a drink.”

 

“Well, that sounds alright.”

 

McCoy surprised everyone, including Spock, by reaching over and pulling Spock’s chin up to examine the bandages.  “You’ll be okay.” Letting Spock’s chin come down, McCoy gave it a little tap.  “Stay safe, Spock.  Maybe I’ll see you around the galaxy sometime.”

 

“Tak Doo Mgoy” Spock said, forgetting he “wasn’t supposed to talk”.

 

Cadet Gonzales let out a quiet giggle.  “Oh, listen how cute he sounds!”

 

Spock’s eyebrows shot up in alarm.  McCoy laughed and with a parting wave, shut the door leaving Spock feeling oddly alone in his crowded recovery room.

 

**********

Lie la lie....

 

….finis

**********

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