Treatment Parameters


Title:  Treatment Parameters
:  A three-part coda to “For the World is Hollow, and I have Touched the Sky”, which is one of my favourite episodes.  Consider this my Spock/McCoy apologia version of that ep.

Spoilers:  Does this still apply?  This is a post “For the World is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky” piece, so you may assume that episode is thoroughly spoiled.
Nothing specific, I don’t think. 
I do not own these characters, or this universe.  However, I am clearly not above using them for my own nefarious purposes.  I am writing this for fun and not profit, and will go home when I’m done.  Maybe.

Thanks:  Thanks to Janet for looking this one over for me and for all her hard work and encouragement to all the newcomers to the Haven.  And a huge thanks also to angelascats, who answered my last-minute plea for beta assistance and then tolerantly and patiently put up with technical incompatibilities.   Thanks so, so much!

A/N:  This is pure cheesy angsty fluff, but I’m not ashamed.  Um.  And I know this post-ep has been done before, but I could not help myself.  Because really, did you see how Spock looked at him?  Especially when he woke up after being zapped by the Oracle?  Did you???  And yes, I wrote it when I was up too late at night, having read too much fic and craving even more.  And yes, you are right again—the stardates *are* all messed up, because I could never figure them out.  Numbers and me never quite did get along.

Comments, positive or negative, are always very much appreciated.  You can e-mail me at, or message me at my livejournal (under ivorysilk).  Thanks for reading.





Treatment Parameters




Part I:  Recovery




Stardate:  5487.4


Pain was the first clear thought in his mind.  This was soon followed by the need to escape.  He forced his eyes open, but the light was too bright, hurting him, and he couldn’t keep them open.  He tried, then, to get up, despite the pain, struggling against his own weakness.  From a distance he heard sounds of movement, coming closer, before a firm hand pressed against his chest, holding him down.  Struggling against it, he soon realized, was pointless. 


He struggled anyway.


“Doctor, you must rest.”


No, he needed to get up.  There was danger …  Jim and Spock were going to be killed, he couldn’t …


“You are on the Enterprise.  You are safe.  Open your eyes, and you will see that I speak the truth.”


There was something about that voice … He knew that voice.  He recognized the deep tones.  “Spock?”


“Yes, Leonard.  You are safe aboard the Enterprise, as are Jim and myself.” 


Spock’s voice was patient, controlled.  Comfortingly familiar in its even, calm tone.  McCoy relaxed a fraction more.  Yet there was something …


“Open your eyes, Leonard.”


McCoy opened his eyes again, blinking against the strange, red-tinged light.  Everything was dim and hazy now, far from the glaring brightness before.  He turned his head. 


He was on the Enterprise--in his own quarters, he realized with relief. 


No.  Not his own.   Spock’s.  He was in Spock’s quarters.  In Spock’s bed.


He shivered, painfully.  It was cold.  He needed a blanket.  He should get up and …


A firm hand pushed him back down.  “Doctor, if you do not comply, I will be forced to medicate you.”  There was a trace of annoyance, conveyed by only the barest hint of inflection, in that beautifully rich voice.


McCoy considered the threat.  He wasn’t sure that would be good.  He hated drugs—well, okay, he loved drugs, as long as they were administered to *other* people..  But …


 “I … I need to get up?”  Spock usually had a mostly well-reasoned—logical, even—answer when necessary.  For the most part, McCoy trusted his judgment.  He was prepared to do so now.  Maybe.


“No.”  Spock’s voice was decisive and firm.  “You are in need of sleep.  The Fabrini treatment was hard on your body, as was the original disease.  You are febrile, and your body needs time to recuperate.” 


McCoy frowned.  That wasn’t the answer he was looking for.  “I’m the doctor, how would you know anything about …”  Uneducated people dispensing medical advice had always irritated McCoy.  Not that Spock was uneducated, but he was scarcely a doctor.  On the other hand, everything ached, and it was very hard to think …


“Yes,” interrupted Spock’s voice, now with a trace of impatience.  “You are the doctor.  However, I can read a basic bio-scan almost as easily as you.  You must rest.”


Okay.  He could buy that.  If Spock would just let him get up for a second.  “Can I just go to --”


Spock cut him off.  “I think you may anticipate that the answer to any of your next questions will be in the negative.  You may, however, tell me what you require, and I will endeavour to obtain it.”


McCoy thought and then, suppressing a smile, said, “I want a glass of brandy … can you …”


“Negative.”  Spock’s pedantic voice was clipped.  “Alcohol will compromise the treatment.  Treatment parameters specify another seventy-two hours complete rest period in order to be effective.  Alcohol may not be consumed for another two point five weeks after that, until the course of medication is complete.  For now, you will rest.” 


Damn.  Spock wasn’t responding at all to the teasing—over the years, the subtle tones of the Vulcan’s voice were something McCoy had learnt to differentiate, even before he’d had the link to confirm it.  But right now, all McCoy could tell was that Spock was dead serious.   Spock had to have known that McCoy was kidding, that he didn’t really want a drink.  What he did want, though, was to get out of this bed, go to the bathroom, wash his face, maybe have a shower.  He felt like manure.  Sticky sweaty cow manure.  Also, there was something else-- something important …


But Spock was being obstinate.


“Look, Spock …”


“I refuse to debate this with you.  It is an unnecessary use of your strained resources, and of mine.  I trust you will accede to what logic dictates, and what you yourself consider ‘common sense’.”  Spock’s voice was growing increasingly annoyed.  McCoy had been a fool, once, to have ever thought this man emotionless. 


But emotional or not, he needed to convince Spock, because he had to get out of this bed, he had …“I just want to go to the bathroom.”  McCoy blurted the words somewhat desperately.


“You require to urinate?”  Spock’s voice was dispassionate.


“No, you ridiculous excuse for a pixie!”  He yelled in frustration.  “I just … I just want to wash my face,” he finished lamely.  He could feel himself blushing.  He hadn’t wanted to raise his voice, didn’t want to argue. He just wanted …


Spock’s unruffled voice calmed him.  “I can facilitate this.”  He felt himself being raised—when had he closed his eyes?—and a cool cloth began bathing his face.  McCoy gasped.  It was almost too cold.  But it felt … good.  Not as good as water, but better by far than a sonic shower. 


Then something was being held to his lips, and McCoy drank.  The liquid was cold and sweet and welcome.  Juice of some sort.  When he’d finished, Spock removed the glass, and spoke again, but this time his voice was almost--hesitant.  “Is that … better?”


“Yeah.  Thanks Spock.”  McCoy was grinning, and he felt more relaxed, that terrible sense of restlessness and urgency gone.  The odd tone of Spock’s voice didn’t even phase him.  He drifted, for a time, content to let time pass, wondering why he had been so frantic earlier.  It was almost as if …


The thought occurred to him with sudden clarity, almost but not quite jolting him out of that false sense of security.  “Did you drug me?”  McCoy tried to force a note of anger into the demand, but the words slurred despite himself.


“Yes, Leonard.  I regret the necessity.  But you must sleep.”  Spock’s voice seemed softer.  McCoy reached his hand out, encountering air.  He was trying to fight the drugs, but he knew he was losing.


“I … please …”  His hand was caught in a much warmer one, and lifted to be placed against his chest.  He felt the bed shift and move, and then there were long arms around him, and his entire body was being pulled back against something very warm.  His shivering body appreciated it, and McCoy reveled in the feelings of warmth and safety, comfort and affection that were being projected.  He let himself, finally, relax.


“Thank you.”  He tried to say the words, but wasn’t sure if he managed it aloud.


Lips brushed against his forehead.  “Thanks are not necessary.  Optimal recovery is.  Sleep.  Let me care for you, Leonard.”


McCoy sighed, and slept.  He would do as Spock suggested, just this once.  Whatever it was he had needed to do could wait. 


He hoped.




Stardate:  5488.3


“How are you doing, Bones?”  Kirk’s eyes on him were assessing.


McCoy paused, wondering what Spock had told their Captain.  He had been “cured”  three days ago, and had been feverish and confined to quarters for two days after that.  Spock had watched him like a hawk that entire time, managing to remain close at hand despite whatever other duties he may have had.  Spock had even used McCoy’s own medical knowledge against him—because as a physician, even McCoy had to admit that having suffered from a disease as debilitating as xenopolycythemia, no cure could be completely effective in a day.  Such things required weeks of rest and care to recover completely, and even with modern medicine, there was simply no getting around that.  Had the patient not been himself, Spock had accused, he knew exactly what McCoy himself would have prescribed, and returning to duty after three days would not have been permitted.


But McCoy always had been impatient.  Spock called it illogical.  McCoy called it the lesser of two evils--not giving himself any time to brood—or any time to try to explain his actions of the last few weeks:  actions that had hurt Spock, actions that he himself could not explain.  Especially now that they both knew that he had ended his relationship with Spock—a relationship that had only been a few months old, but had been longer in the making than it had since its acknowledgement—under false pretences.


Especially because even when Spock had found out, McCoy had still not allowed him back in.  No, McCoy had then taken up with Natira—and that had hurt him worst of all.


McCoy was aware that Spock had been hurt and confused by his behaviour, and that Spock wished for an explanation.  Spock had even said as much, painstakingly expressing that he was, essentially, worried and upset, although he couched it in that damned formal logical lingo he knew drove McCoy nuts (mostly because it was impossible to argue around).  It was par for the course, though.  McCoy didn’t understand Spock’s behaviour most of the time either.


It was for the best, McCoy told himself, but what he still couldn’t figure was--why the hell had he bothered with McCoy, after all that had happened?  If anyone was the injured party, here, it was surely Spock.  McCoy had been unnecessarily cruel to Spock when ending their short-lived relationship, and Spock certainly hadn’t deserved half of what McCoy had said.  Nor had he deserved to think, as he had for a time, that McCoy had complained to Jim about the end of their relationship. 


Even if McCoy knew that it had been necessary—because however hurt Spock might have been at the time, it was a momentary pain, and he knew Spock would move on.  It would have been more cruel for him to have allowed Spock to be tied to a dead man.  He knew what that was like—he’d watched his father suffer, and die, and had been the one to listen, night after night, to his father’s pleas for peace.  He was the one that listened to that voice, even now, on particular bad nights, in odd unexpected moments that left him breathless and cold, in moments of failure and disaster.  He was the one who knew how such things could rob you of all the pleasant memories, how such images and words could overshadow everything strong and beautiful and good about the person you loved.  His father had been strong, stronger than he would ever be—but in the end, even he had begged.  McCoy had learnt from that—his father really had taught him everything he knew, for which Leonard would always, always be grateful--and he would not allow himself to do that to another person.  He especially would not do that to Spock.


Yet the fact remained that he’d undoubtedly hurt Spock anyway, in the end   As McCoy had learned over the years he’d come to know Spock, and as Spock himself had clarified on numerous occasions:  controlling one’s emotions did not mean that they were not deeply felt. 


And now, thanks to Spock, McCoy hadn’t even had the grace to die. 


Oh, he hadn’t wanted to die, not at all— but it wasn't really fair, was it?


And it wasn’t even Natira that had been the issue, so much, although she may have been a complicating factor.  McCoy had only done what was required, what was both ordered and necessary.  Kirk, master of manipulation that he was, had initially encouraged him to flirt with Natira, and Spock had supported his Captain.  Oh, McCoy knew that all that they were doing was trying to get him to rest—and, of course, in his condition he would have been a liability running around (Jim, he noted privately, was an overly trusting fool for letting him beam down to the Fabrini ship in the first place).  He’d recognized, too, that he would be far better used as a decoy and a distraction, given his condition.  His failing health left him feeling blurry and confused, much of the time, not to mention the strain of constantly shielding against Spock.  Once on the surface, the Oracle’s rough treatment had quite nicely exacerbated the pain and weakness.  He had been a liability, really, and Jim had been right-- McCoy had really had no business beaming down in the first place.


But it had all worked out quite well—given the events that had transpired, it had allowed him to save Jim and Spock from certain death.  They hadn’t needed to know about the  bargain he’d struck with Natira—because they’d have immediately seen through it, and because it didn’t matter.  He’d been prepared to do whatever it took to ensure their safety.  In addition, it wouldn’t have been fair to Natira—she’d always been honest with him.  It would have been dishonourable of him to leave her, after Spock and Jim were safe.  He couldn’t do it, even if he’d felt trapped at the time.  It wasn’t supposed to have been long, anyway—and besides, being consort to a pretty young thing was infinitely better than a number of fates.  It might not have been the end he’d have willingly chosen, but he hadn’t many choices at the time.  Had Jim known, of course, he wouldn’t have let McCoy make the sacrifice—but Jim didn’t always play fair, and his sense of honour was not quite the same as McCoy’s.  And Spock … well, Spock’s sense of honour was, in McCoy’s opinion, ridiculously overdeveloped—but he would not have allowed McCoy to make the choice he had, either.


What Leonard hadn’t anticipated was, later, falling for Natira too.  Because Natira was young, and beautiful, and fancied herself in love with him.  She was also intelligent and strong, principled and practical.  Plus, there had been few secrets between them, in the end—she’d known, and accepted, the circumstance of his illness and imminent death.  Moreover, she was a stranger—she hadn’t become attached to him, not really, despite what she might have thought.  And leaving her, unlike leaving Spock, whom he knew better than he knew himself—would have been in many ways far less painful.  The timing was right, too, he’d figured—they were to reach the promised land in just over a year, by which time she have been busy enough to not mind his passing.  Yeah, once he’d gotten used to the idea, living on the peaceful Yonada with a beautiful young woman for his last few months of life hadn’t seemed like a bad deal at all.  Besides, he’d ended his relationship with Spock well before they’d gone down to Yonada.  In his logical way, Spock would have been very clear that he had no claim on McCoy at that time.  


He knew it was possible Spock might have figured much of that out by now--who knows what McCoy had said in his delirium over the last few days.  The rest, he’d have chalked up to illness and despair, causing McCoy to behave even more irrationally than usual.  But the thing was--Spock still loved him.  Spock’s actions over the last few days had said as much.  Spock had tended him as carefully and as gently as if he’d been made of fine bone china.  And even though he wasn’t exactly sure where he stood now with Spock, nothing in Spock’s ministrations had spoken of any recriminations or suggestion that he harboured any anger or resentment towards McCoy.  McCoy supposed that Spock would consider such emotions illogical. 


But all McCoy knew was that had the situation been reversed, he would not—could not--have been so forgiving. 


He was being ridiculous.  Never look a gift horse in the mouth, his mother had always told him.  And he was allowing his own anger with himself to do exactly that.  If Spock had forgiven him, he needed to get over this.


Besides, he still loved Spock too.


McCoy sighed.  No doubt he was being as over-emotional as Spock had always accused him of being.  He had to get past this.


“Quite fine, Captain,” Bones answered.  “I believe think that the Fabrini treatment has completely restored me.”


“You’re sure?  No lingering side-effects?  You were pretty sick.”  Jim sounded skeptical.


“No, I’m fit as a fiddle.  Thanks to Spock, but don’t tell that pointy-eared nuisance that I said so.”  A little white lie never hurt anyone, McCoy told himself.


“I’m glad to hear it, and I won’t say a word.  Have you been cleared for duty?”  Kirk had an air of feigned casualness that made McCoy suspicious, but he played along.


“Completely.  I’ve been away from sickbay long enough already.  No doubt Nurse Chapel has already completely rearranged my files in the brief … “


“Excellent.”  Kirk nodded, pleased. 


Good old Jim.  So trusting, but also focused, more than anything, on the end result.  It might get Kirk into trouble, one day, his wiliness to sacrifice anyone and everything for the mission—but for now, it served McCoy’s purposes as well as Kirk’s own, so McCoy was sure as hell not going to raise it today.


“Report to the transporter room in half an hour.”  Kirk’s order had a distinctly self-satisfied air.


McCoy, on the other hand, was surprised.  “The transporter room?”


“Yes, there’s a crisis on Betazine Five.  Some kind of natural disaster.  I’m sure there will be wounded; I need you with me.”  As usual, Kirk’s explanation was brief and to the point.


“Transporter room.”  McCoy sighed.  He’d have to go get some things, and pull some research.  Quickly.  And, ugh, the transporter.  “I don’t suppose you are simply listing my options?”


Kirk grinned.  “Half an hour, Bones.  And …” Kirk clapped a hand on his back.  “It’s good to have you back.”



Stardate:  5487.6


It was hours later when he woke.  He felt better.  Hot.  It was too hot.  He threw off the covers. 


“No, Leonard.  You must lie still.”  The bedclothes were tucked back around him.  They confined him, trapped him.


He tried reasoning, pleading, struggling against the confinement.  “It’s so hot … please … “


“You are overheated due to a fever.  The ambient temperature of this room has not changed.”  That made no sense, and why did Spock sound like he was talking to a child?  Why didn’t he understand?   They were in a desert; he could feel the flames nearby.


“I don’t …”  He tried, begged Spock to understand.


“Please, Leonard.  Trust me.  Do as I say.”  Spock’s voice sounded sad, and worried.  And McCoy  wanted to obey.  Didn’t Spock understand that?  But Spock was wrong … no, Spock was going to be killed!  The priestess … she was coming … she wanted him to … there was pain … “Natira!” 


“She is not here.  I am.”  Spock’s voice was cool, comforting, solid.  He clung to it.


“That’s … good.  Didn’t want her.  Wanted you.  Couldn’t have you.  Spock?  Thought I’d lost you.  Thought I could make do … thought …”  He didn’t understand what he thought.  He was hot.  He pushed at the covers again. 


“You have not lost me, and I am here.  Rest now.  All is well.”  A cool, wet cloth was placed against his forehead.  He shivered against it, pushing it away.  It too did not budge.


“I never told you …”  Did Spock understand?  Did he *know*?


“There was never any need, t’hy’la.  I know.  Rest.”


It took him a while, it seemed, a long while.  He felt restless and confused; he wasn’t sure if he wanted to lie down or get up.  Someone was with him, though, and he wasn’t always sure he knew who it was—he wasn’t sure he knew he he was.  Sometimes, he struggled, needing to get up, needing to go … other times, he was content to lie as still as Spock urged him to do, listening to the still and the quiet.  Once, he heard Spock playing his harp, and smiled, recognizing the melody as an old Earth song, and one of his favorites.


After some time, he slept.



Stardate:  5488.4


Spock’s reaction to seeing McCoy, when he arrived at the transporter room, was somewhat different than Kirk’s enthusiastic one.  Spock raised an eyebrow, clearly surprised and not at all pleased to see him.


“Captain, I’m not sure that the doctor …”  Spock’s voice was careful, almost tentative.


“He’s been cleared for duty, Mr. Spock.  And we’ve been over this.”  Kirk’s voice held a note of forced patience.  And annoyance—Kirk never was one to have his orders questioned, not even by his valued First Officer.


“I’m fine, Spock,” McCoy interjected cheerfully, trying to diffuse the tension.


Spock addressed only Kirk, ignoring McCoy and his words as completely as if he did not exist.  “Captain, the doctor has only just been treated for xenopolycithemia.  As you are aware, the treatment parameters specify that …”


“Has he or has he not been cleared for duty?”  interrupted Kirk, exasperated.


“I have, Jim.”  McCoy’s voice was firm and quiet, brooking no contradiction.  Shut up, Spock, he thought hard at the contrary Vulcan.  He knew that sometimes in the past few weeks, Spock had been able to pick up his thoughts, but he wasn’t sure what the status of all that bond stuff was anymore.


In the meantime, Kirk was already on the transporter pad, ready to go.  “Then, can we get a move on, gentleman?”  While Kirk enjoyed witnessing their disagreements during long dull stretches of space travel, Kirk in full mission-mode had little patience for the foibles of his officers.


Spock had no arguments left, and little available evidence to back up his claim.  He sighed, stood on his own pad, and gave in to the inevitable.  “Certainly, Captain.” 



Stardate:  5488.1


It was morning.  McCoy had never quite gotten used to the feeling of morning on a starship—in deep space, there was no morning light to greet you, or darkening of the sky outside to signal the time for sleep.  But the clock indicated the hour, and Spock was nowhere to be seen, clearly having already left for his shift. 


McCoy sat up.  He felt better.  The fever had abated.  He wondered, guiltily, if Spock had gotten any sleep during the night at all. 


McCoy got up and showered, and dressed, and felt distinctly more human than he had in a long time.  Had Spock not chosen a career as a research scientist, McCoy reflected, and not for the first time, he’d have had a fine career in medicine.


But before leaving the cabin, he called up his own personal medical logs.  He was fine now, no need to have this permanently etched anywhere.  He made a few minor adjustments, feeling a momentary flash of annoyance towards his nurse.  If Chapel hadn’t told Jim, he might have been able to confine all mention of the fact that he had ever been ill to a single locked file, with no one on the ship the wiser.


He ignored the fact that it was only *because* he’d told Jim, who’d told Spock, that he’d ended up alive.


As it was, he’d have to settle for the edited account that he had been diagnosed early, and having suffered no ill effects, was cured immediately and completely on his return from Yonada, except for one difficult night.  It wasn’t altering, exactly—more like fudging things, a little. 


He cleared his status as being fit for duty, and satisfied, headed directly for the sick bay, ignoring a lingering headache, slight dizziness, and feeling that even the room—usually kept slightly warmer than the rest of the ship for Spock’s comfort—had become unduly chilly.


Spock had probably turned down the heat in the night, McCoy reasoned.  Given McCoy’s fever, it would have been the logical thing to do.






Part 2:  Betazine Five



Beaming down to the planet’s surface brought them into the middle of chaos.  Although a diplomatic party had been arranged to meet them, it was clear that the gathered officials consisted of little more than the few who had survived and could be spared to show them where the need was greatest.


Of course, the need seemed to be greatest everywhere.


McCoy was certainly needed, in spades.  He busied himself trying to organize the medical relief:  identifying needed supplies, assisting to coordinate the triage effort, providing any expertise he could to the frazzled and ill-equipped staff.  There were few doctors here—most had been killed.  He had to make do with a single visiting doctor—not of this world, and unfamiliar with human physiology—and a handful of nurses and lab technicians.  They were all skilled, dedicated professionals, making do with what they could—but they were clearly disheartened and overwhelmed.


But McCoy wasn’t up to his full physical strength, and eventually, after only a few hours, he was forced to admit he needed to find someplace to rest.  The government had organized transportation and quarters for each of them; he made use of the provided car and headed back to where they were being lodged.  He longed for Spock, even while knowing that Spock would have continued to work, since the half-Vulcan’s endurance far outlasted his even when he wasn’t under par, and every minute mattered.  The science team had joined with the local scientists in a frantic attempt to isolate whatever it was that was making the planet’s surface unstable, and then to stabilize it.  In the meantime, Kirk would be driving himself to exhaustion lending himself to the full-planetary evacuation effort:  an effort no one acknowledged was largely futile.  For a planet of this size, a full-scale evacuation was a Herculean task, even assuming that they’d had the appropriate time and resources, which they most certainly did not. 


McCoy lay on the provided bed.  It was soft and comfortable, far better than the bunk he shared with Spock on the Enterprise.  The sheets were cool against his overheated skin.  Somewhat belatedly, he realized he should have taken something for the fever before he lay down, but getting up to do so now appeared impossible.  Maybe he should have called for Spock, he thought—but he knew his green-blooded Vulcan.  He knew that Spock would be annoyed -- such a human emotion, but applicable nonetheless—but also worried, and would come immediately, dropping anything else he might have to do unless absolutely critical.  He also knew that despite his annoyance at what he would undoubtedly consider McCoy’s failure to heed his earlier advice, Spock would appreciate that McCoy had called him when he needed.  But despite all that, McCoy refrained from making the call.  Spock was needed far more where he was, and he could not selfishly pull him away just because it would make him feel a little better. 


He set the alarm for five hours later, and fell into sleep.




He awoke to voices arguing over his head.


“I thought you said he was fine!”  Kirk.


“I did not provide any such assessment of the doctor’s condition, Captain.  He did.”  Spock, McCoy’s tired brain provided.


“Spock, if you knew better …”


“I … he is the Chief Medical Officer.  The decision is his to make.  Whether or not I agree.”  Spock sounded almost … unsure.


“But if you have information that is necessary …”  Kirk was starting to get testy.  Or well past testy, and moving well into anger.


McCoy cracked his eyes open.  They watered in the light, but he could make out the figures beside the bed.  Just.


“I only was privy to such information by reason of our personal relationship Captain, and as such, was sworn to honour that privacy.  The assessment was the doctor’s to make.”  Spock’s voice held the tone of one who had rationalized something for hours.


“By which you mean to say you’d have been sleeping on the couch if you said anything.”  The words were said humourously enough, but Kirk’s tone was bitterly furious.


Spock raised an eyebrow.  “I do not understand what my sleeping arrangements have to do with the issue, Captain.”


Kirk’s voice was hard.  “Spock, you’re aware that if I feel that the relationship between you and Bones in any way infringes on the safety of my crew, I will no longer be able to permit it?”  Kirk’s eyes were narrowed, as if he had a headache coming on.  McCoy had served with the man long enough to recognize the signs.


“It has not, and I do not see, Captain, how you would prevent it.”  There was answering steel in Spock’s tone, and Kirk glanced up.  Spock had apparently taken the words as a threat.


Kirk placed a hand on Spock’s shoulder.  “I don’t mean to say I’d prevent it, Spock.  I mean that I’d have to transfer one of …”


McCoy groaned, and both men looked toward the place where he lay.  “Not his fault, Jim.  I … fudged … the results … he was surprised, but had no proof.”  He knew he’d have hell to pay.  Spock hadn’t liked his behaviour through this whole thing, but there was no use denying it now.  Not when Spock was about to be unfairly reprimanded for McCoy’s own foolishness.




“I …” he started coughing, and couldn’t stop.  Spock placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, and he felt the pinch of a hypo against his arm.


He startled, flinching away.  “What’s that?”


“Don’t speak.”  Kirk.  Worried, but unable to stop ordering everyone around, even so.  A hand on his shoulder kept him still. 


“Merely a relaxant, doctor.  To assist your breathing, and your rest.  Also, a mild analgesic.  You should not have come here, Leonard.”  Spock’s voice was reproving as he replaced the hypospray in McCoy’s own kit.


“How …” he started coughing again.  Spock offered him water, holding his head while he drank.


“To answer whatever questions you might have, Bones, I needed to rest, and Spock tried to call you to let you know I was going back, suggesting you do the same.  He was told you’d left already, which is unlike you.  He became worried.”


“Spock?  Worried?”  McCoy lips curved slightly.  “Vulcans don’t worry, do they, Spock?” he murmured.


“It is a fruitless emotion.  I was, however, concerned.”  Spock’s tone remained calm.


McCoy grinned harder.  Only Spock would debate pointless semantics.  Through the link, McCoy felt a touch of irritation from Spock, possibly anger, overlaid with what could only be considered … not just worry, but fear.


McCoy stopped smiling.  Spock was scared.  And that wasn’t right.


“I’m fine, Spock,” he said, with as much conviction as he could muster.


“Of course, Doctor,” said Spock, and his tone as much said that he wished McCoy would shut up and quit lying as if he had said it aloud.


Kirk looked from one to the other.  He was not a stupid man, nor was he entirely oblivious.  “Well, then, gentleman, perhaps I shall get some rest myself.  We’ll be here another day or so, until the emergency shuttles arrive with supplies and disaster personnel.  Get some rest, you two.  That’s an order.”


“Yes, Captain,” said Spock, and then Kirk left the room.


Leaving McCoy and Spock alone.




There was a long silence after the Captain left.  Spock, a challenging look in his eyes, busied himself by locating and running McCoy’s own medical tricorder over him.  McCoy, realizing he was in the proverbial doghouse, did not protest.


When the silence stretched, and Spock did not even speak to scold him, McCoy caved.  “All right, let’s have it.  How much trouble am I in right now?”


“Trouble, doctor?”  Spock raised one negligent eyebrow.   “None, obviously.  You are resting, having done precisely what duty required of you.  Tomorrow, you shall do the same.”


“Stop it, Spock.  I can tell you are pissed as hell at me.”  McCoy was getting pissed himself.  He was feeling guilty and ashamed—aside from feeling like crap.  He wished, yet again, that the past several weeks had never happened.


“I do not see what would be gained by such pointless emotion.   You have made it clear that my opinions on any matter shall not affect your behaviour in the least.”  Spock’s words were deliberate and precise.


Oh, yeah.  He was pissed.


“I … Spock, this isn’t about you.”


“Indeed, doctor?  How foolish of me to think that something that affects my spouse—correction, my former spouse--would also affect me.”  Spock turned to face him, his face as an expressionless a mask as he could make it.


McCoy winced.  “Would it help if I said I was sorry?”


“Ah.  I once had someone—I believe it was yourself, doctor--explain this idiom to me.  And I believe, as you had stated at the time, that it would only be of assistance if you ‘meant it’.  However, I do not believe you would mean it, nor have I any reason to believe that you would alter your actions, had events to repeat themselves.”


“Dammit, Spock, I thought I was dying!  We always knew you’d outlive me, but I thought we’d have a few decades yet!  I wasn’t prepared to –“  Guilt was replaced by anger, and McCoy was suddenly furious.


“You were not prepared to tell me the truth, as you thought it would be preferable for me if I heard you were dying from the Captain.  While you were unconscious.  Having earlier terminated our relationship—a relationship that I had assumed to be permanent and not so easily terminated—on entirely false and flimsy pretenses.  And correct me if I am wrong, but it appears that had the Captain not told me, you would have been entirely prepared to go on lying to me further, compounding the situation.  Quite understandable.”  Spock’s voice was absolutely emotionless.


“You think I don’t trust you.”  McCoy’s words were flat.  His statement hung in the air as the truth it was.  He was coming to realize that he’d messed up big time.  He’d never really thought about it. 


Hell, the last little while, he hadn’t really been thinking at all.  He’d thought—and now, he wasn’t sure if he’d believed, but he really had thought—he was protecting Spock.  He didn’t want Spock to go through the breaking of another bond.  But had it all been about that, or had he been, as Spock clearly thought, mistrustful and selfish?


Spock was still speaking, though.  McCoy stopped his jumbled thoughts to listen.


“No, doctor.  I don’t think any such thing.  I am only now beginning to understand how little you trust me, and how little regard you have for me.  For now, I believe I shall take my leave and return to my own quarters.  Should you –“


“Spock—“  McCoy said desperately.  This was bad.


“—require anything during the night, you need only call the Captain.  I am sure he would be pleased to assist you.”


“Please, Spock—“  This was worse than he thought.  He tried to get up, but the room was spinning.


It didn’t matter anyway.  Spock had already left, and the door was snicking shut behind him.





Part 3:  Back to the Enterprise




In the morning, McCoy felt mostly recovered, and he returned to the makeshift hospital and another long day of doing what he could to stem the disaster.  In the evening, the relief arrived, and the next morning, the entire landing party beamed back to the Enterprise.


And everything was pretty much back to normal.  Physically, that was, although the unnecessary activity had prolonged his recovery a few days.  The fever had passed, and all that remained was some fatigue and a little weakness; easy to shake off for the most part.


But Spock was not speaking to him unless necessary, and McCoy hadn’t so much as seen a trace of him since.  Not even in the mess.  McCoy had no idea if he was sleeping, if he was eating—and he hadn’t any business to ask, except possibly as the CMO, if it began to affect Spock’s work.  McCoy already knew Spock would not allow that to happen.  And having already used his rank in a somewhat questionably ethical manner in recent days, McCoy wasn’t willing to compound the error by using it to check on the Vulcan. 


And Kirk was avoiding both of them.


This was worse than Jocelyn.  This was bad.  He felt despair setting in.  He had recovered, by now, albeit slower than he would have had he listened to Spock and rested for a couple of days—but how could he refuse aid when needed?  How could he have stayed behind? 


And even then, he knew Spock would not have made him.  Knew Spock would have found a way.  A logical way.  Knew that he should have … he should have trusted the half-Vulcan.


He didn’t understand why he didn’t.  He just didn’t understand.  Spock was right.  He’d fucked up, again.  Another relationship, destroyed.  And it was all his fault.


He started drinking more—although in deference to Spock’s admonishments, he waited almost until treatment parameters allowed it, and because the medication messed him up enough—and sleeping less.  He refused Jim’s invitations to join him for a drink, preferring to partake alone.  He avoided eating in public places, and then he just avoided eating.  He knew it was wrong; knew that with his recent illness, he could scarce afford to be skipping meals, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. 


He wondered if he should resign.


Until one day, when he returned to his quarters after his shift, and found Spock.  Calmly sitting at his desk.


He was an idiot.  He hadn’t changed the security codes.


Of course, he hadn’t actually planned to keep Spock out.  But … he looked around.  There were empty liquor bottles on the table, and his laundry was overflowing.  He hadn’t really wanted Spock to see him like this, either.


“Dr. McCoy.  Nurse Chapel is worried about your health.”


McCoy tamped down on the irrational anger.  “Christine should learn to mind her own business.”


“Her business is the crew’s health, doctor.”

“I’m fine.”


“You’ve lost weight.”


“As if you care.”  He could not hide the bitterness in his tone.


“Now you wish that I should care?  I find your reactions contradictory, doctor.  Perhaps you should draw me a chart of when I am permitted to care about your well-being, and when I am not.  I know how fond you doctors are of your charts. ”


“Please, Spock.  I don’t want to fight with you.  Why are you here?”  He knew why Spock was here; he just wanted to hear it said.  Spock was an excellent first officer.  No doubt Kirk had sent him.  But McCoy was prepared.  He would gracefully resign.  No need to forcibly remove him from duty.  It would all go smoothly, and whatever replacement they had planned would undoubtedly arrive within the month.


“I … I miss you, Leonard.”  McCoy could feel the surprise both ways through the link.  Spock hadn’t meant to say that.  It wasn’t the answer McCoy expected.


It disarmed him completely. 


In an instant, he was on his knees in front of Spock.  “I’m sorry, Spock.  I’m so, so sorry.  Please, tell me what I have to do to fix it.  Please.”


Spock laid a hand on his head.  Cupped McCoy’s skull in one long-fingered hand, and drew a thumb down his cheek, before tilting his face up and forcing McCoy to meet his eyes.  “I am your mate.  It … hurt me that you chose to exclude me at your time of need.  It hurt that you felt I could not assist you, but that … a strange young female could.  It …”  Spock’s eyes were filled with pain.


“I couldn’t tell you.”  McCoy’s words were a whisper. 


 “Why not?”


“I … I … “ he opened the link.  For the first time in over a month, he opened the mental  link that had been formed between them.


And Spock finally understood.  Understood McCoy’s terror, and understood how in his irrational grief and panic, running away had somehow seemed to be the right answer.  Understood that it hadn’t occurred to him that there was any other course but one that must separate them immediately.  Controlling his own emotional response, Spock allowed himself to understand McCoy’s conviction that he was weak and damaged, and being so, could have no place in Spock’s life, a life consisting of service and duty.  More than that, that he would not allow Spock to see him like that—not after what he’d been through with his own father.  Understood that when Natira had offered, McCoy could not force himself to turn her away and be completely alone, even as he mourned Spock’s absence.  How he had missed Spock, and dreamed of him.


And then McCoy’s horror when he realized that even though he had recovered, and was now well—that he had somehow ruined things so absolutely that he had lost Spock anyway.


And through all that, somehow—McCoy would never really understand or remember how—he ended up cradled in Spock’s arms, on the bed.  His face was wet with tears, and Spock was kissing them away.


“T’hy’la … beloved … shhhh.  I am not leaving you.  Do not fear.  I am here.  I am staying.  I am … I regret all that you have suffered.  Quiet.  All is well.  Do not weep.”


But McCoy could not stop, all the pain and sorrow and anguish of the past month sweeping down on him.  And most of all, fear that he was losing Spock.  Both when he was first diagnosed, and afterwards. 


And over these past few weeks.


McCoy cried for a long while—and he wasn’t even sure why he was crying, and knew that Spock must be repulsed by it, by the excess of emotion, except that Spock kept sending him such soothing thoughts through the bond that he was simply unable to worry about it too much--until he had no more tears left and simply lay in Spock’s embrace, spent.


“I feel,” said Spock after a time.


“You feel?” asked McCoy, teasingly as expected, even though it was half-hearted.  He felt raw, wrung out.  Exhausted.


And a little nervous.  Where would they go from here?


“I feel that we have both been remarkably … silly, as my mother would say.”

“Would she?”  McCoy wanted to laugh, knew he did, except that he knew he would not be able to stop if he started.  Also, he was falling asleep.  He could not help it.  For the first time in weeks--in months, really, ever since he’d seen the tricorder screen impersonally flashing the results of his physical exam--he felt safe and warm and …. He blinked hard to force himself awake.


“No,” said Spock, covering his eyes with a hand.  “You should sleep, t’hy’la.  You require it.”


There was so much left to be said.  There had been too much misunderstanding, and McCoy feared that if he fell asleep now, none of it would be clarified.  And worse:  that he would wake to a cold and empty bed, and everything would be as it was the day before. 


So he desperately tried to force himself awake, even though he couldn’t remember what he was saying anymore and sleep was overwhelming him.  He said the most important thing instead.


“I am sorry.”  And McCoy was.  He really was.


“Do not be.”  Spock’s deep voice was gentle.  “Although when you wake, you shall discuss the flaws in your reasoning with me, so that you shall not repeat them.  And you shall eat.  Something more than you have been, I think.”  Gentle, so gentle, but like everything about Spock, the gentleness merely masked the tritanium beneath.


McCoy grimaced.  He wasn’t in a position to argue, right now, with anything Spock demanded—but he wasn’t exactly looking forward to either prospect.  Spock’s idea of food was high on sustenance, but low on taste—and the discussion, well.  The discussion was not going to be comfortable.  And describing it as uncomfortable was sheer Southern understatement.  His mother would have been proud.  Well, maybe he could distract him, and make him forget.


Spock was stubborn, though, and unlikely to forget. 


But while two could play at the stubbornness game—and frequently did--McCoy wasn’t really inclined to be difficult.  He was too happy, too grateful to have his Vulcan back.  He had been wrong, and was now willing to do whatever Spock wanted—even have an agonizing discussion where all his reasons would be ripped to shreds--to make amends. 


Spock was stroking his hair, and the touch was lulling him despite himself.  “Sure Spock,” McCoy began, no longer even sure what he was saying but feeling it was important to say it, “whatever you …”


Falling into sleep, McCoy never did finish his sentence.  And never did realize that on this occasion it was Spock who, whispering quietly, got the last word.



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