Two Faces, One Love

 Title: Two Faces One Love

Author: K'Chaps

Pairing: S/Mc

Rating: Adult

Summary: After returning from the Mirror universe, McCoy has difficulties.

Note: This is the first of two Mirror stories, but they do stand alone.




McCoy recognized the symptoms of neurological shock all too well, but since he was the patient, he postponed treatment while he pretended that he was fine. He even managed to crack a joke or two, but he trembled on his way to sickbay, and he knew he was almost out of time. He'd make it though and no one would ever know.


"Dr. McCoy? May I have a moment of your time?"


McCoy paused, put his shaking hands behind his back, and nodded. "What is it, Spock?" He didn't really look at him. It just wasn't possible.


"I would like the members of the away team to make a comprehensive report of every detail of the mirror universe." Spock was speaking so slowly. "Each moment and each encounter."


McCoy heard the words from far away, but he managed an answer. "Yes, sir." Two words were enough, right?


"You have rarely answered an order with such brevity."


"I have business in sickbay," McCoy slurred. He went for the door. He wasn't sure he'd make it now, but the door swished open, and he stumbled through.


"Dr. McCoy?"


McCoy ignored that, forced his shaking legs across the sickbay, and fumbled open the drawer that had what he needed. Everything was slowing down. His fingertips were very far away. Vision would be next, and it did darken for a brief moment.


"This one?" Spock's voice was hard, implacable, and ruthless.


"Don't touch me again!" McCoy hissed. He barely heard himself. Where was he? Spock's face wavered and his hand came up. McCoy watched it in slow motion. Never. Ever. Again.


"Spock!" Nurse Chapel's voice was loud and strident, and McCoy sank to his knees. He couldn't fight two of them.


"Dr. McCoy is ill." Spock and his logic scored again. McCoy's vision flickered. A beard appeared and was gone.


McCoy lurched up to struggle with him this time. This time. He heard the hiss, tried to whirl on the traitorous nurse, and fell. The hands that caught him felt like branding irons. His mind seized in panic and then nothing. Nothing at all.




"Dr. McCoy?"


McCoy checked his vitals before opening his eyes. Heartbeat steady, breathing normal, no trembling, and he was hungry. He was fine, and he sat up to prove up. His head twisted around backwards for a split second and then the world settled. "Don't you have things to do on the bridge, Jim?"


Kirk smiled at him. "He's fine. I'm not sure why I was worried!"


Spock came into McCoy's vision. "He does appear healthy."


McCoy ignored him, completely. It was for the best. "Nurse! I want to see the report on myself."


Kirk looked at Spock. "Let's go hide on the bridge."


"Affirmative." Spock paced in his measured way to McCoy's side. "Are you well, Doctor?"


"Perfectly fine!" McCoy spat. He knew he was shrinking away, and he clasped his hands tightly on the side of the bio bed. Nurse Chapel bustled up, and McCoy took the report. He didn't look up from it until both of his commanding officers were gone. "I'm not signing off on this!"


"It's accurate," Nurse Chapel said softly. "What's wrong?"


"It makes me sound like some kind of weakling! I did not collapse because of the effect of the transporter!" McCoy slid off the bio bed and hefted the report. He was tempted to throw it.


"What is your diagnosis then?"


McCoy glared at her. That was not a topic he would discuss with anyone! Not today, and not ever. He choked off a curse word and looked it over again. Shock. Simple. It could happen when people transported from one dimension to another. He nodded brusquely. "Fine. I'm sure you're right."


"Why don't you go to your quarters and rest? I could keep you here another shift, but-"


McCoy snorted. "You and what security officers?" He handed the report back. "Call me if anything comes up."


"I promise," she said soothingly.


She was lying, and McCoy knew it but didn't much care. He took a deep breath and headed for the door. His stomach gave a mighty complaint, and he took a detour to the rec room for some food. He had to eat. The door swished open, and Spock was there. Spock. His dark eyes seemed to pierce through him. McCoy took a healthy step back and the doors shut. He turned quickly and headed back to the turbolift. His stomach churned, and he didn't stop moving until he'd emptied it. He leaned against the wall of his bathroom and breathed heavily through his mouth. Several thousand southern curses lazed their way through his mind. He heard the knock on the door, but he ignored it. They could go away. If it were an emergency, they'd beep him.


"Dr. McCoy?"


Someone with pointed ears had used his command override, and McCoy flashed to furious. He grabbed up a towel and stepped into the small bedroom. "Get out!"


"Are you ill?"


"I'm fine. I want you out, and I mean now!" McCoy had never yelled so much in his life. He was certain that he looked unbalanced, and he didn't give a tinker's damn. The Vulcan had to stop. Stop. Stop!


"I merely wanted to remind you of the report we discussed before you collapsed. Do you recall the conversation?" It didn't seem to matter how much McCoy yelled, Spock was just going to keep talking. "Doctor?"


McCoy felt his lungs quiver. He scrubbed his mouth with the towel and told himself not to scream curse words three times. This was Spock. Yes. It certainly was. "You'll get it. Don't worry."


"Vulcans do not worry." Spock's eyebrow seemed to taunt him.


"Do they know when to get out of another man's quarters?" McCoy dropped the towel and stripped off his filthy shirt. He ached inside and out.


Spock turned immediately. "We do." And the door shut behind him. McCoy leaned against the wall and felt his stomach flutter. He should have stayed in sickbay. Holding his stomach, he sank down to the floor. The tendrils of Spock's mind whispered inside him. No hypospray could fix that! They'd say he was crazy. Mind melds ended. It was over, and yet, a trace, a flicker, a scar remained. It wasn't possible, but it was true. It wasn't a matter of forgetting it and moving on. Spock was inside him, but it wasn't Spock. McCoy groaned softly. He needed help, and there was no one.




"I am concerned that Dr. McCoy is still ill," Spock said.


Kirk moved his pawn. "He was cleared by Nurse Chapel. She says he's in good health."


"He spoke to me in a manner that was extremely discourteous." Spock moved his bishop.


"He's fine then." Kirk laughed softly. "Perhaps he's still angry about what happened on the other side."


"He has not turned in his report." Spock sat up very straight. "What did occur?"


"I'm not certain. The other Spock delivered him to us. He was groggy, at best, but he seemed to snap right out of it." Kirk smoothed his hair back quickly and moved his queen up two levels. "I'm sure the other you didn't hurt him."


"A Vulcan with no morals would be a ruthless enemy." Spock laced his hands together. "I will speak to him again."


Kirk shrugged. "Good luck."




McCoy turned in his report fast. It was the only way to avoid a face-to-face meeting with Spock. The report was nowhere near complete, but no one knew that except him, and that was enough knowledge for any man. McCoy scheduled his day carefully to avoid Spock and managed it. Kirk was glad to see him back at work, and Nurse Chapel looked relieved as well. And if lunch didn't stay down, it didn't matter one damn bit. There was always dinner. He pressed his shoulders into his bunk and shut his eyes. Sleeping was near impossible, but he'd taken a sleep aid. It would happen in a few minutes.


Your mind is impossibly chaotic.


Get out!


McCoy let out a long breath, curled to his side, and refused to listen to his inner demon. There was no one there. It was nothing more than imprints on his brain pathways. It was nothing. He could still feel the pressure of steel fingers grinding into his face. A shudder worked its way through him.


His computer clicked on and said softly, "Dr. McCoy is sleeping. Do you wish to leave a message?" He always left the audio on, even though it was stupid.


"I will speak with you tomorrow, Dr. McCoy." Spock. Spock. Spock.


McCoy considered transporting himself to another dimension, quickly. There had to be one with lots of women in skimpy outfits and plenty of mint juleps, and the sleep aid kicked in.




Being sneaky wasn't something McCoy excelled at, so he was going to have to choose his battleground carefully. He stayed in sickbay and near his office his entire shift. Nurse Chapel was happy to get him lunch, and he managed to keep it down. Spock would show up. It was merely a matter of time, and McCoy refused to be caught somewhere vulnerable. He winced away from the memory. Calm. He was calm. Nothing was going to happen. He was safe on this Enterprise.


Terror can taste sweet.


"Get out, you bastard," McCoy mumbled.


"Were you speaking to me, Doctor?"


McCoy clasped his hands behind his back. "No. Not you." It was the truth and such a lie. "Let's go to my office."


Spock didn't argue. He followed, and McCoy sat down with the desk between them and felt a measure of safety. Spock sat down after a brief hesitation. "I read your report."


McCoy waited for the rest of it. Vulcans never left sentences hanging. They talked and talked until people begged them to quit. Spock's eyebrow went up. McCoy sighed. "And?"


"I appreciate your thoroughness."


McCoy didn't care one way or the other. "Good. Are we finished?" He didn't stand, nor would he.


Spock pursed his lips. "Have I done something to offend you?"


"No." McCoy made sure his eyes were steady and fixed on Spock's face, but not those dark eyes. "I'm a little shaky from the transporter is all."


Spock nodded slowly. "Have you read Captain Kirk's report?"


"I haven't, and I'd like to forget it ever happened," McCoy said fiercely. That was the damn truth, and there was no sense sitting here talking about it.


"The other Spock helped you to the transporter room?"


McCoy swallowed twice. "I guess he did. I was a little out of it." He felt his teeth grind and sweat break out across his forehead. His hands were planted on the desk. He had to stay in control. This life in this universe depended on it. "He didn't want me hanging around in his universe."


"Were you injured?" Spock went right at the missing time in McCoy's report.


"Some bully with an agonizer attacked me. The other Spock picked me up and helped me back to the away team." McCoy's words were carefully prepared. "I was unconscious for a short time. This is in my report. Do you need me to read it to you?"


Spock managed to look mildly offended. "I am curious as to the actions of my counterpart and wish to obtain all possible information."


"I told you everything." McCoy pressed a hand into his stomach, but behind the desk where Spock couldn't see. "Anything else?"


Spock stood and put his hands behind his back. "It is our custom to have breakfast together."


McCoy knew that. It had pushed at him the last two mornings. "When I feel more like my old self, I'll give you a buzz."


"Excellent." Spock gave him a long, lingering look, and McCoy did his best to appear fine. "Thank you, Doctor."


"You're welcome, Spock." McCoy opened a desk drawer and pulled out a padd. He turned it on and listened to Spock walk away. There was nothing on it, but he stared at it anyway. He'd give himself a brain scan. That was the place to start. He'd fix any damage and go on with his life. His body was healed, now he'd deal with his brain.


"Are you working another shift, Doctor?" Nurse Chapel stuck her head in the door.


"Yes." McCoy managed to smile at her. She was doing her best, and he was being very difficult. "Thank you. Go take it easy for a shift or two. I'll be fine."


"You look half-sick." The nurse shook her head. "Take your sleep aid again if you need it."


She never missed much. McCoy nodded. "I will. Go on." She smiled and went. McCoy went to get the test ready. He found distractions that sent all the nurses to other parts of the ship and ran the scan. When the data was ready, he purged the test from the system. Spock was canny enough to rummage through the day's records, not that McCoy worried about it. He bit his lip, but his hands were steady on the report, and he went over everything three times. His brain was normal - right as rain. He read it all again. There was nothing, not even a bruise.


I won't hurt you - much.




McCoy pulled his lips off his gums and breathed. This was nothing but trauma. No permanent injuries. All he needed was some therapy. Out here. He was the closest thing they had to a psychiatrist. Well, then, he'd schedule an appointment with himself. He laughed weakly.


"What's so funny, Bones?"


McCoy tossed the report in his desk and slammed the drawer. "Absolutely nothing." He smiled. "Did you stop by for a brandy?"


"You know me too well." Kirk grinned boyishly. He always did. "I'll get it. You look tired."


"I'm tired of Spock following me around." McCoy went ahead and aired his complaint. Kirk might tell the Vulcan to back off. "How was your day?"


Kirk sat down and poured the brandy into the glasses that McCoy pulled from his desk drawer. They clicked them together, and Kirk said, "To this universe."


"Let's stay here." McCoy drank it all, and Kirk followed suit. Kirk refilled his, but McCoy waved it away. He had enough troubles. "You doing okay?"


"It's been an adjustment. The first day, I didn't know what to think."


"I understand that perfectly." McCoy nodded. He did, and he was surprised to hear Kirk admit to it. "Better today?"


"Yes. Everything is, as they say, on an even keel." Kirk sipped his brandy. "You look like hell."


"Thanks." McCoy considered another brandy, but it wouldn't react well with the sleep aid.


Kirk nodded. "It's true. I think Spock is honestly worried about you."


"He just needs to give me a chance to bounce back." McCoy stared into Kirk's hazel eyes and tried to push the message home. "I'm going to be fine."


"Soon?" Kirk was too perceptive.


"I hope." McCoy smiled ruefully. He knew he was an idiot.


"You can tell me what happened," Kirk said softly. His eyes were on the floor.


McCoy appreciated the goodwill, but didn't consider it for one moment. "Read my report. It's all there." It was a good lie, a great lie even.


"I did. I will again." Kirk drained his brandy and stood. "You're off-duty. I expect you to be in your quarters resting."

"Or?" McCoy put the glasses away and brandy in his desk.


"It's the brig for you." Kirk laughed and strutted out. He was something, and often, McCoy wasn't sure what. McCoy made sure to wipe the report on his scan from the computer before leaving his office and heading to his quarters.


The turbolift opened, and McCoy lifted his eyes from the floor that he'd been studying in a futile attempt to discover a solution to his problem. Spock said, "Are you going to your quarters?"


"Yes," McCoy ground out. He stepped on the turbolift because running the other direction wasn't an option. Edging away was rude, but he did it anyway. He kept his eyes on Spock's boots at first, but that was a bad idea, and he focused on the door, nothing but the door. Spock gave the command for the proper deck. He had hesitated long enough! McCoy tried to relax. He was fine. Tired, but fine.


"Did you and the captain share your customary brandy?" Spock had olfactory abilities somewhere in the range of a Terran dog.


"And I'm stinking drunk as usual," McCoy snapped. He had to get out of this box. It was moving at least. Spock raised his hand, and McCoy put his shoulders to a wall. "Don't!"


Spock stared at him. Their eyes shoved at each other, and McCoy felt a trickle of sweat go down his tense shoulders. He had to get out of here. The door opened, and he bolted. He didn't run, but it was a near thing. His quarters were dark. He locked the door, coded it to Captain Only, and clasped his arms across his chest. The game was up now. Spock would know something was wrong. No more pretending. McCoy caught a harsh breath and tried to think coherently.


I see that you've wanted this.


You see nothing!


I see, feel, taste, and touch everything inside you. You're mine, and later, you'll be his.


McCoy darted to the bathroom and threw up. He went ahead and lay on the floor to shake. This was gut-wrenching, mind-numbing trauma, and there was only one person on board that could possibly help him, but his mind shied violently away from the thought. It would strip him bare. There would be no more hidden truths. No more subtle looks or questions. He shook harder and held himself tightly. His fist clenched the sleep aid, and he took it. It would work quickly. He trembled and hated himself for it. What advice would he give himself? Seek professional help - now. He crawled to his bunk and managed to get on it. Shoving his hands between his thighs, he waited for sleep.






Spock turned. "Yes, Captain?"


Kirk continued walking, and Spock fell in alongside him. "I spoke to Bones."


"As did I."


"He wants you to give him some time. I don't think it's an unreasonable request, given the circumstances." Kirk paused. "You, the other one, weren't exactly nice."


Spock stopped walking. "That is an understatement. I encountered Dr. McCoy in the turbolift, after you had spoken to him. He was irrational. There is more here than he is telling us."


"McCoy? Irrational? Grouchy, yes, but I've never seen him lose control." Kirk pulled his tunic down. "Did you check on him?"


"His door is locked to Captain Only." Spock lowered his head and voice. "He is afraid of me."


"Not you. I'm certain of that." Kirk turned around completely. "Let's go make sure he's okay."


"That is logical."


"I know you're worried." They walked quickly.




You are quite accommodating, Doctor.


Get out of me!




"Out!" McCoy lurched up and moved. His shoulders slammed into a wall. "Out! Damn you! "


"Grab him, Spock."


McCoy clenched his fists. This time he'd fight until Spock had to kill him. Where was Spock's beard? "Don't touch me!"


Kirk moved closer and raised his hands. "It's okay, Bones. We're here to help."


Spock was too close, too close. "We can assist you."


"You've done enough!" McCoy wiped the sweat from his eyes and heard himself sob. "Am I here or there?"


Kirk took another step. "You're safe. Everything is going to be fine."


McCoy recognized the soothing tones. That's how Kirk talked when he was faced with someone that was out of control. Spock edged around to block McCoy's path to the bathroom. "I can help you."


"Why?" McCoy could hear himself breathe. He shook his head. He was awake. His heart was in his throat, and he wished he could sedate himself. Slowly, he forced his brain to work. He was in no danger. None. Spock took another step. McCoy jerked his head back and managed to bang it into the wall. "No!"


"Spock, use the nerve pinch. We'll get him to sickbay," Kirk said.


"I regret this action," Spock said and moved so very fast. McCoy lashed out. He'd go down fighting, and then, nothing swept over him.




It all came into focus slowly, and he refused to open his eyes for a long minute. He knew where he was from the smell, and he could hear them talking.


"I can't recommend any course of treatment. The scans all say he's fine," Nurse Chapel said.


"He is not fine," Spock said. "He requires a mind healer."


"I ran a brain scan. It's normal." Nurse Chapel again.


"Well, I know he's going to be angry about all this." Kirk was wise.


McCoy waited to hear the rest of it, but there was only silence, so he opened his eyes and growled, "You fellas finished?"


"That is unlikely," Spock said. "You have suffered a trauma to your mind."


"Are you certain of your diagnosis?" McCoy managed to sit up. He was calm, but he knew it was drug induced. Just looking at Spock gave him the quivers, but his body refused to react. "Captain?"


Kirk put his hand on McCoy's shoulder. "I'm not sure of anything. You were very upset."


"I took a sleep aid. I wasn't completely awake." McCoy rubbed his eyes. "I just need some rest."


No one challenged that lie. Nurse Chapel gave Kirk a look. "My recommendation is three days rest and plenty to eat. I'll give him something so it stays down."


Kirk and Spock exchanged a long look. McCoy nearly groaned. "I agree. Three days, but would everyone leave me alone?" He stared at Spock.


"Three days," Kirk agreed, "and then I want you back here for another checkup."


"Fine." McCoy was glad the drug kept him so composed. "I expect all reports sent to my computer in my quarters."


She nodded, but she was lying, again. Kirk smiled, but it was a weak one. Spock said nothing, made no promises. McCoy pushed himself off the bio bed and stood up. His knees held. Kirk nodded. "I'll be on the bridge. Bones, send me a report on yourself every day."


"Yes, Captain." McCoy watched him leave.


Spock made no move to follow him. "You may avoid the topic, if you wish, but it will not change the facts."


"Really?" McCoy would not discuss the facts, such as they were, with him. "What is your recommended course of treatment?"


"If you will allow me to-"


"Absolutely not!" McCoy interrupted. He knew very well what Spock was going to say, and he didn't want to hear it or think about it. "You're not a trained mind healer."


Spock put his hands behind his back; he was backing off. "If you rest, you will be able to face the situation logically."


"I'm not a creature of logic." McCoy tugged his shirt down. "Excuse me. I need a shower. Nurse, I'll be in my quarters."


"I'll bring you the proper medications." She smiled, more at Spock than him. McCoy had had enough, and he left them there. They could discuss him until hell froze over, but he wasn't going to stay to listen. He went straight to his shower, stripping off his uniform angrily. Yes, he was traumatized, but they shouldn't have barged in on a man trying to sleep! He was sure it had been Spock's idea. Spock was worried. He knew, well, he sensed that McCoy couldn't stand the sight of him.


McCoy turned on the sonic spray and leaned back against the wall. He swallowed hard and wanted to give in to the sadness. Things could have been different; they should have been different. Damn transporter! The sonic shut off automatically, but he remained. He sat down, wrapped his arms around his knees, and tried to think while he could. When the drug wore off, his ability to cope would be impaired.


It's a shame that I must release you, but your counterpart will be here.


Don't touch him - me!




He was safe, but his mirror self wasn't. That Vulcan would take what he wanted. It hadn't been Spock. It hadn't. McCoy put his forehead on his knees. Three days wouldn't make a difference. Who was he fooling? Trauma like this lasted a lifetime, and Spock wasn't a mind healer. McCoy thought back over the other times he had melded with Spock. Gentle fingers and a brush of something like affection, nothing to compare to what had happened over there. There was no similarity. None. This Spock wasn't to blame. McCoy told himself that several times. Hopefully, it would last. He struggled up, dressed in casual, comfortable clothes, and sat on his bunk. The drug was wearing off. Should he take another?


The knock on the door made him sigh. He toggled it open and said, "Come in, Nurse."


"Thank you," Spock said. He marched over to McCoy's desk and put the tray down. "I have the required medications and food. You will ingest both."


"You just can't leave me alone, can you?" McCoy rubbed his face. The sedative was nearly gone, and he had to stay calm. Trauma was one thing; acting crazy was another.


Spock stayed over by the desk. "Do you require assistance?"


McCoy groaned and put his face in his hands. There was only one conclusion to draw, and it hurt like hell. "How much do you know?"


"Enough," Spock said softly. "When I touched you, you pushed many images into my mind. I nearly collapsed. Captain Kirk helped us both to sickbay."


"I hurt you?" McCoy involuntarily shuddered and guilt stabbed at him. "You have my apology. What happened to me should stay in a dark corner, somewhere out of sight."


Spock didn't answer until McCoy looked at him. "I also apologize."


McCoy rubbed his chest. Was his heart still beating or had it fallen out? He sighed and tried to think of what to say next. Spock moved to him, and McCoy flinched. "Please, please, don't touch me again. I feel polluted."


"Eat and take your meds. We will talk." Spock didn't reach. McCoy nodded and stood up slowly. He moved to the desk, ignoring the shaking of his legs. Spock pulled the other chair within a distance that made McCoy's nostrils flare and sat down. The silence from the Vulcan was more eloquent than words, and McCoy gave himself a hypospray first. It would prevent him from vomiting, and the food looked good. Spock knew McCoy's favorites.


"Thank you."


"You're welcome." Spock didn't move. "You can not defeat this level of trauma by yourself."


"I'm very aware of that." McCoy said. "And there is no one within shouting distance that can help. There is no damage."


"That can be perceived by a machine," Spock said calmly, as if they weren't discussing rape.


McCoy tried to take a bite. He couldn't chew. He did try. "Spock."


"Eat. I will be quiet." Spock folded his hands neatly. McCoy tried again and succeeded when he looked only at his plate. He had to eat. When his stomach refused another morsel, he quit and took the sedative quickly, before Spock could protest, if he would. It would postpone the inevitable fear.


"Would you even consider leaving so I can rest?" McCoy didn't hold out much hope.


Spock shook his head firmly. "You won't sleep or I would. We must face this trauma together."


"Why?" McCoy stayed behind his desk. If he moved to the bed, it would seem an invitation to touch him.


"I bear a portion of the blame for the problem." Spock stood and moved to the desk. He picked up the tray. "I will return."


"I might bar the door." McCoy couldn't smile, even though he tried. Spock didn't look worried, and he went out. McCoy stretched and went to the bed. Did he have to face this? Yes, he did, and he might as well do it medicated. It would make it easier.


Spock wasn't gone near long enough, and he stopped to lock the door after entering. McCoy sighed and braced himself. The memories were bad enough, sharing them would be worse. "Spock, I don't want you to hurt yourself."


"I can erect shields. Can you?"


"No." McCoy wished he could. "What are you suggesting?"


"A mindmeld. I can mitigate the trauma."


"You hope." McCoy shook his head. "I can muddle through on meds until we reach a qualified mind healer. It's the best solution. And what was between us will stay in the past."


Spock didn't look convinced. "If I can't help, I won't attempt to, but we should try."


McCoy looked sharply at him. "I have your word?"




McCoy took another minute. The sedative had pushed everything to a comfortable distance. He could try this, and it wouldn't hurt, but Spock? "I - I - never want you hurt with this."


Spock sat on the bed, close enough to touch. "Your pain hurts me. I must try to help."


That made sense. "How long were you going to wait?" McCoy wanted to touch him, but wouldn't. It could hurt him. He watched Spock's eyebrow go up.


"Was there an imperative need?"


McCoy laughed softly. They were very different. What connected them had been tenuous, but growing, and now it seemed to be in pieces. "He wasn't you."


"And yet, he was. Correct?"


"Yes." McCoy couldn't deny it. He clasped his hands together to make sure they didn't shake and pushed futilely at a memory.


You are enjoying this!


No! No!


McCoy quivered and shut his eyes. He hated all of this, but most of all, he hated the fact he had drawn Spock into it. Spock didn't deserve this. No one did.


"Will you allow me to touch you?"


"You shouldn't dirty yourself with him." McCoy opened his eyes and if it weren't for the drug, he'd have run. Spock's eyes were dark, his look intense, and he was too close. McCoy waited to be invaded again, but the touch never came, and he realized that Spock would wait for permission. This Spock would wait forever. McCoy heaved out a sigh of relief, laced with pain. "Yes, but please, get out, if you can't stand it."


"Unlikely." Spock surprised the hell out of McCoy at that moment. McCoy's jaw dropped as he was pulled into Spock's lap and cradled. The surprise kept him from shoving, and the sedative kept his reactions slow. In the end, he put his head on Spock's shoulder and tried to start breathing again. Spock held him. "You will sleep."


"I'd rather not." McCoy wasn't sure what to do with his hands, but it didn't matter the instant that Spock's hand moved toward his face. "Damn." He half-expected it to hurt.


"My mind to your mind," Spock said softly. "Do not be afraid."


McCoy choked down a huge ball of fear and held onto Spock for dear life. His back arched when contact was made, and he thrashed, but Spock held him tightly.


Get out!


I am not he.


Not again. I can't bear it again.


Sleep. You are tired.


McCoy quit fighting. He was so tired. Warmth spread over him, and he stopped.




McCoy jolted awake. His legs were moving before his mind, and he crashed into a Vulcan's chest. He looked up slowly. "Spock? My Spock?"


"Yes." Spock lifted him too easily and took him back to the bed. "Breathe. Do not think."


Well, that was easy. McCoy concentrated on breathing. When he was calm, he said, "You can let go now."


Spock didn't do that. "Leonard, do you require another sedative?"


McCoy didn't think so. "Not yet." He wanted to push Spock away, but he merely placed his hands on Spock's chest. "You're too close."


"My apologies." Spock stood up. "I will get you food. Please rest."


McCoy remembered that he was basically confined to quarters. "If you want. Are we going to talk about what you did?"


"After we eat."


McCoy headed to the bathroom, instead of watching Spock leave to get whatever meal it was time for. He washed his hands when he was finished and looked at his face in the mirror. Stubble and old eyes stared back at him. What had happened? He remembered nothing but sleeping.


You're mine.


McCoy clenched his jaw and struggled with his fear. It was over. It wasn't now. He would cope with this. The outer door opened again, but he didn't go look until he was ready.


"Did you sleep?" Kirk asked.


"I did. Thanks to Spock." McCoy smiled grimly at his captain. "Doesn't he belong on the bridge or something?"


"I assigned him to you for three days." Kirk sat down in the chair. "He didn't argue."


"Damn unusual." McCoy drifted to the bed and sat down. "I suppose you want a report?"


"Spock gave me one this morning, early." Kirk shrugged. "I'm worried about you."


McCoy huffed. He was still in the dark, just like Spock to do that to him. "How are you going to explain all this to Star Fleet?"


"I'm not going to bother trying. There was bound to be a casualty from our encounter. You need Spock to heal, and all we're doing is traveling." Kirk stretched in his chair.


Casualty. He was one of the fallen. It was true, and it hurt. "Do you think the other Spock will save the Halkans?"


"I wouldn't hazard a guess." Kirk rubbed his face and sighed. "If anyone could do it, it would be him. Have you viewed our Spock's report on our alternate selves?"


"I haven't." And he didn't want to.


"That Kirk is a savage. It frightens me that somewhere inside me is that man." Kirk stood up. "Rest and eat. There's no rush. Listen to Spock. He can help you. I'm sure of it."


"Aye, Captain," McCoy said lightly to cover the twisting of his guts. He never wanted to see his savage self that had been sent back to face a twisted Spock. "Thank you."


Kirk waved it away and went out the door. He'd be back. McCoy happened to glance at the clothes he'd slept in. He was rumpled, but it didn't matter. Since he was going to be here all day, he might as well get comfortable. He went back to the bathroom and took everything off. Another shower couldn't hurt, and he finished quickly. He slipped into his bathrobe and went out to find something to wear.


"Please come eat," Spock said from his chair near the desk.


McCoy watched him calmly sip his tea and regretted the bathrobe. Angry words were on the tip of his tongue, but he pushed them away. He was Spock's assignment for two more days. "Are you a licensed day care provider?"


Spock raised his eyebrow. "I'm not certain as to your meaning."


"Day care. Parents leave their children there and go to work." McCoy smiled. How could Spock not know about it?


"Is it common on Earth?" Spock sounded curious now.


McCoy made sure his robe was closed and went to the desk to look at the food. "Yes." He sat down and picked up the hypospray. Did he need it? His stomach grumbled, and he took two bites before looking at Spock. "Tell me what you did."


"Nothing. You were exhausted. I helped you sleep and monitored you for most of the night." Spock drank his tea. "I do not want to injure you further."


McCoy gave himself the spray, just in case. He ate some fruit and didn't talk. Spock seemed content with his tea. When the food was gone, McCoy considered the sedative. Would he panic without it? Spock stood abruptly, and McCoy felt his mouth go dry. Quickly, he fumbled for the hypo. The hiss against his skin was reassuring.


"A wise decision."


"Why do you think that?" McCoy would sit here until it took effect. It wouldn't be long.


"I have seen what lies inside you." Spock put his cup on the tray. "I must ask you a difficult question."


McCoy felt a sense of ease slip through him, and he relaxed. It was good to be this way. He abandoned the desk and got comfortable on the bed. "I can answer it now."


Spock moved his chair directly beside the bed. "Did he have intercourse with you, or did he use his mind to make you think that he had?"


"Huh?" McCoy went over that again. Spock didn't repeat himself. It was a good question, in a bad way. McCoy made sure his pillow was right where he wanted it. "I don't know."


"Your medical report showed no signs of physical trauma. There were no bruises and no bleeding. You were in shock, but nothing else." Spock looked so serious.


McCoy couldn't help but smile at him. "I don't want to remember." Spock nodded as if he understood, and McCoy hesitated before getting off the bed. He went to his medical drawer, pulled out his Feinberger, and ran it over the part in question. "Well." That was interesting. "Nope. Nothing."


"It confirms my suspicions," Spock said.


"Well, damn." McCoy put it away. "I'm a tad embarrassed. Here, I'm a doctor and all, and I forgot to check!"


"That sedative has an interesting side effect on your language pattern." Spock pointed. "Your robe is open."


McCoy looked down and sighed. "Sorry about that." He closed his robe again. "I should dress."


"I am not offended." Spock gestured at the bed. "Why don't you lie down?"


McCoy padded back to the bed. No reason to make a fuss now. He lay down, shut his eyes, and, this time, tried to remember. It all swept over him so fast that he heard his own gasp. It was all real again, but the drug kept him at a distance. He was safe through the horror.


It is not real.


Looks bad though, don't it?


Terror can taste sweet.




McCoy could see both faces inside him. One loomed over him, and the other stood to the side, watching. Both impassive, but one was subtlety cruel. He slumped in the arms of the other Spock again, but his Spock was suddenly there, taking him away.


He will not hurt you again.


Spock. I did want you. I did. It hurts so badly.




McCoy grumbled, but he was too tired to put up much of a fuss. His sleep was dreamless, and when he awoke, Spock was still there. "You have got to be bored."


Spock raised his eyes from his padd. "I am never bored. How do you feel?"


"Like I was trampled." McCoy checked the chronometer. He'd slept through another meal and most of the day. "I think I've slept enough."


"I disagree." Spock leaned forward and put his hand out. McCoy watched it come towards him with trepidation. It gently alighted on his face, and he took a long breath. "My mind to your mind."


McCoy didn't argue about it. He felt scoured, filthy, and trapped, but Spock knew all that. There were no words between them this time. This time, Spock showed him what had really happened. He'd been assaulted, but only mentally. His body had been pushed and held, but not touched any place other than the face. It had been enough to inflict lasting harm. McCoy reached blindly for someone, and his hand was held. He sighed and thought he heard a song. It was soothing and rippled over him, full of colors, and he slowed down.


His stomach rumbled and woke him decisively. He had to eat, and he could smell it. Pushing up, he took in the scene. Spock was eating, and there was food for him. McCoy stumbled, stretched, and went to eat. Talking wasn't something Spock required, and right now, it was a relief. Ignoring the meds, McCoy began to eat. He had to try to keep it down on his own at some point. Relying on meds the rest of his life wasn't what he wanted. The eggs, bacon, and pancakes were lovely, and they meant it was breakfast without checking the chronometer. Spock always followed the rules.


"I've lost track of the days," McCoy admitted reluctantly.


"Tomorrow morning you will report for another physical." Spock wiped his mouth with his napkin. "Take your medications."


"I'm the doctor, not you," McCoy muttered. He finished his plate and wished for more. "I need to get out of here. I'm getting dressed."


"The captain won't be pleased." Spock crossed his arms. "And he will be here soon."


"Damn." McCoy went to get dressed. He wasn't facing his captain in an old bathrobe that had an annoying tendency to fall open. "Thanks for breakfast!" he yelled from the bathroom. Another shower, a quick shave, some clothes, and he would be ready to face the day. Spock said nothing during the process. McCoy thought his naked body might get a glance or two, but Spock didn't turn around. "Is there any hope for us?"


Spock turned now and faced him squarely. "Hope is not something I understand. Can you be more specific?"


McCoy rolled his eyes and shrugged into a loose shirt. He went to brush his hair instead of answering right away. Spock would wait for an answer, and he did. He never pushed. It would be up to McCoy to do any pushing, and he wasn't sure he could, now. It had been real, even if it wasn't.


"Good morning, Spock. How's our patient?" Kirk asked as the door shut behind him.


McCoy stepped into the main room and waited for the answer. Spock looked at him and said, "He is progressing. The trauma, I believe, is manageable now, but he will suffer flashbacks, and his sleeping habits may be affected in a negative way. He has eaten and kept it down without medication."


"That's a good sign," Kirk said and smiled at McCoy. "What's your opinion, Doctor?"


"I'm highly irritated at being discussed as if I weren't the doctor! And I need out of here." McCoy narrowed his eyes. "I can manage a few hours in my office."


"I agree, but keep your sedative close. No more screaming and scaring the ensigns!" Kirk pointed to emphasize the command. "Spock, you're still in charge of him."


"Yes, Captain," Spock said. "I will monitor him closely."


McCoy rubbed his face and sat on the bed. "Why, me?" It was a good question, but it would remain a mystery. He'd been easy prey, but any man would have been.


Kirk stepped close. "I'm sorry, Bones."


"Me too." McCoy stood up. "I'll get through it, with help." He appreciated Spock's care, and he smiled weakly at him. "I'm going." He left the two of them in his quarters because he couldn't stay one minute more. He tried to sneak into sickbay and failed miserably. Nurse Chapel dashed towards him, but he gave her a look that sent her back to her patient. He should've taken the time to put on his uniform, but it was too late now, and he wasn't going back.




"He'll be okay?"


"It will take time. The damage was extensive," Spock said as he put the dishes on the tray.


"The scan said there was no damage." Kirk put his hands on his hips. "Which is it?"


"There is more to consciousness than blood vessels and brain tissue." Spock lifted the tray. "My counterpart was neither kind nor gentle."


"We could have let him die. It was McCoy that insisted we save him." Kirk went out the door and waited.


Spock went towards the turbolift and Kirk paced him. "Dr. McCoy was in shock - his mind trying to function at two levels. And he is a doctor first."


"A damn good one." Kirk gave the order for the rec room to the turbolift. "You will be watching him?"


"I will." Spock looked down. "Always."


"I feel better already."




McCoy did keep the sedative close. He was calmer than he had been since he'd returned from the mirror universe, and it was a good sign. Nurse Chapel insisted on taking his vitals, and he allowed it. His blood pressure was up, but that was to be expected. It'd go down naturally. It was soothing to sit at his desk and catch up on reports. He didn't think about anything but other people, and it was a relief.


"Are you ready for another meal?"


McCoy glanced up at Spock, calm and cool, as always. "I'm not hungry."


"You lost six pounds in three days. You did not have it to lose."


"It was water weight," McCoy scoffed. Six pounds? This was a diet that no one should go on.


"Eleven pounds if I add the water weight." Spock shook his head. "You should try to eat."


McCoy decided to go ahead and give in gracefully. At least Spock's mere presence wasn't making him jittery. "Okay. I'll try."


Spock's eyebrow went up. "Fascinating."


"I'm too tired to argue." McCoy stood, grabbed his hypospray, and went out behind Spock. Nurse Chapel looked a question at him. "I'm going to go grab a bite to eat."


"You need it. You're scrawny!" She nodded fiercely.


McCoy frowned and followed Spock to the turbolift. "I'm not scrawny."


"I would say thin and drawn." Spock gave the order for the proper deck.


That wasn't exactly a compliment either. McCoy watched the door shut. He stared at the hypospray and listened to his own breath. His respiration was up, and his palms felt sweaty. He shut his eyes. It would help.


You'll be his.


It wasn't real. Well, that part was. Mirror Spock had said that.


"Please take the sedative."


"I have to learn to get through this." McCoy shook his head and refused to open his eyes. He was trapped. The door had to open.


"It will not happen in four days." Spock's voice was soft.


McCoy gripped the hypo tightly. He could feel his hand shaking. The turbolift stopped, and he got off quickly. Leaning against the wall, he tried to get hold of himself. Spock waited patiently. McCoy gasped, "Go on. I'll get there."


Spock nodded and walked away. McCoy put his hand on his heart and groaned. He should take the sedative. This kind of stress wasn't healthy, not over the long term, and he might be this way awhile. The sedative wasn't addictive. He straightened his back, brushed his hair back, and forced himself to walk to the rec room. A few people glanced his way and smiled. He returned it as best he could. Spock had a table and food ready for them. McCoy dropped into the chair, put the hypospray down, and clasped his hands together under the table.


"Take deep breaths. Think of nothing."


McCoy did that, or he tried, but one thought kept at him. "If I don't get better quickly, Captain Kirk will send me planetside."


Spock didn't answer. He didn't need to. They both knew it was the truth. The Enterprise needed a surgeon and a CMO, not a man with severe trauma issues. McCoy glared at the hypospray, managed to pick up his coffee, and took a sip. The smell of the food was nauseating. "Spock, take the food away, or I'm going to lose my breakfast. Please."


"Affirmative." Spock removed everything but his salad and their drinks. McCoy breathed through his mouth until everything settled. Spock ate quietly, without speaking. McCoy didn't try to look at him. When the salad was finished, Spock asked, "Doctor, would you prefer another day care provider?"


McCoy blinked at the joke. He should have laughed, but all he managed was a small chuckle. "It would be easier on you. I know this hurts you."


"I must help, since my counterpart injured you." Spock put his hand on the table near McCoy. "And there are other logical reasons."


"You're the only one that can help me. It's you or quit the fleet, head home, and get professional help." McCoy laid it all out to look at. "What should I do?"


Spock began to eat again. "It must be your decision."


McCoy groaned softly. He'd known Spock would say that, but it wasn't what he wanted to hear. Spock finished quickly and cleaned up after himself. McCoy drank his coffee. He'd try to eat again at dinnertime. To take his mind off his troubles, he watched everyone else.


"I will leave you." Spock stood.


McCoy looked up, swallowed hard, and nodded. "Thank you."


"I will check on you soon." He left quickly. McCoy hated the fact that he was glad. The door opened again, and in came Uhura and Scotty. They smiled to see him and joined him with their selections. It was good to see them, and the light conversation made him smile. They knew he had been sick, but didn't press for answers. Scotty boasted that McCoy would make a fine engineer someday, and they all laughed. Uhura admitted that she still wasn't talking to a confused Chekov, and the table grew quiet.


"We'll forget all this soon," McCoy said. "It wasn't our Chekov."


Uhura shrugged. "You're right. And it was Sulu that really scared me."


"It was their Spock that gave me the willies," Scotty said softly. "He was verra cruel."


McCoy nodded at this and looked at his sedative. "It was the ears."


They stared at him for a moment, and then they all chuckled. Uhura smiled. "Everyone is back where they belong."


"I wonder if they're glad also," McCoy said.


Scotty shook his head. "Puir bastards."


They all stared into their drinks. That was the hard truth. It was Scotty that left first, to care for his bairns, and Uhura admitted that she was due on the bridge. McCoy finished his coffee alone, recycled the cup, grabbed his hypospray, and headed for his quarters. He wasn't going to fool himself that he was up for more work.


The ride in the turbolift was too long, but he made it. He sank down in the chair by his desk, tossed the hypospray, and scrubbed his face. Tomorrow, he had to be at the top of his game again, and that was never going to happen without extreme measures. What could he do? He couldn't think of a thing with his blood pressure through the roof, so he took the sedative. It was the logical thing to do. He glared at the damn thing, threw it at the door, and it hit Spock in the chest.


"Damn! Spock!" McCoy jumped up and went to him. "I'm sorry. You weren't supposed-"


"I am not injured." Spock interrupted, and his dark eyes swept over McCoy.


McCoy seemed rooted to the ground as the door shut behind them. Spock wasn't glowering, was he? Was he angry? McCoy bit his lip and couldn't move to save himself. Pain and humiliation rippled through him. He lowered his head. "I'm sorry."


Spock moved slowly, wrapping his long arms around McCoy in a loose embrace. "Do not. Your scrawny arms couldn't throw anything hard enough to damage me."


McCoy struggled not to fight his way free. He wrapped his hands in Spock's shirt and searched desperately for a joke or an insult. "I'm not scrawny." It was weak.


"You are a scrawny human." Spock nestled his head on top of McCoy's. McCoy gasped and felt bombarded with the smell, touch, sight, and sense. The smell. The smell. It wasn't the same. It wasn't. The sight was also different. This wasn't the same! With a drawn out groan, everything oozed through him. Spock nudged him. "You utilized the hypospray, didn't you?"


"I had to." McCoy wasn't particularly proud of it. "Make me forget. I know you can do it."


"If I could, I would, but he was too strong. The imprint he left was too powerful. If you hadn't come home, you would be his completely."


The terrible words tore through McCoy, and he collapsed. Spock picked him up as if he weighed nothing and put him on the bed. McCoy held on tightly, instead of pushing him away. This wasn't the same. Horrible laughter nibbled at the back of his mind, and he whispered, "Don't leave me alone with him."


Spock held him, and it was enough of an answer. McCoy shut his eyes. When sleep rolled over him, it was a welcome friend.




McCoy woke up by inches. There was something wrong with this whole situation, but he had no idea what it could be until his gummy eyes managed to open. "You're in my bed."


"An astute observation. You have wanted me here." Spock traced a finger around McCoy's face. "Did you sleep well?"


"You know the answer to that." McCoy stretched, ignoring the body that he was bumping into here and there. "Sometimes I miss showers with water."


Spock put a hand on McCoy's chest. "The captain and I share a bathroom. It has a water shower."


McCoy just stared at him for a moment. "You don't rate your own bathroom?"


"I will show you." Spock didn't get up though. "Are you agitated?"


"Not yet." McCoy glared. "Do you want me to be?"


Spock brushed a hand over McCoy's eyes. "Do not glare at me."


"Well, okay." McCoy laughed. He hadn't lately, not with Spock. "Are you ever going to the bridge?"


"I went while you were sleeping, and I will return there." Spock didn't find the humor in that. "Come to my quarters. You need to see me, not him."


McCoy shrugged. That sounded reasonable to him. He didn't want to leave this ship and Spock. Drastic times call for drastic measures. "Aren't we rushing?"


"There are times when haste is called for." Spock sat up and slipped on his boots. McCoy did the same and didn't wonder who'd taken his boots off. They went through the ship together. "Will you desire an evening meal?"


"I should eat. I even feel scrawny." McCoy laughed at his own joke, since Spock never would. "I promise not to throw things at you in the future."


"Do not make promises you can't honor." Spock opened his door. "Come inside."


McCoy paused. He had never been inside Spock's quarters, and it felt like a big step. Spock was making a bold move, for a Vulcan. McCoy went inside and was glad for the sedative. His stomach was flip-flopping. Spock sat down and seemed to be waiting for McCoy to look everything over. The rich colors were the first surprise. The second was some kind of pot in the corner that was giving off an interesting smell.


"This isn't what I expected." The quarters felt almost rich and decadent - the exact opposite of Spock. "At all."


Spock made no move. It was possible that he was trying to be reassuring. McCoy wasn't sure. He hated to poke in corners, but he was curious what was behind the bathroom door. He pointed as a question, and Spock nodded. McCoy went through it and stopped in shock. This was standard on starships? Did anyone else know?


"It is a luxury that could induce a certain amount of guilt, if a being was inclined to feel guilt," Spock said.


McCoy nodded. He'd feel guilty. Did the captain? No. He'd think he'd earned it, and to be honest, he had. Spock had also, but McCoy imagined the Vulcan got in and out quickly. McCoy took his time and looked everything over.


"Hey, Bones, since you're not doing anything but standing there, can I use the facilities?"


McCoy turned the deepest shade of red that his face could produce. "I'm gone." He went back to Spock's side.


"Glad you're feeling better." Kirk smiled.


McCoy ignored it, the door shut, and he heard the lock. "Don't, um, you two bump into each other?"


Spock looked slightly amused, if that were possible. "We don't. My needs are much less than the captain's."


McCoy believed that. He wasn't sure what to do with his body. Should he sit? "I like it here." He did like it, and he still was trying to juxtapose Spock in this setting. "Does all this remind you of home?"


Spock raised his eyebrow. "This vessel is my home."


McCoy sat down. "How many years?" It did appear there was a lot that he didn't know about the man that - fascinated him. He hated to use that word, but it fit.


"Fourteen years, three months, and six days."


"No minutes?"


"Humans find it annoying when I am precise, especially you."


McCoy laughed suddenly. It popped out of him. Spock watched him laugh, and then silence fell. McCoy took a quick peek at the bed. He had avoided it until now. It was a bed, and it was Spock's bed. Did he sleep naked? McCoy squirmed slightly, and his breath came faster.


"Why are you agitated?"


McCoy cast his eye the length of Spock's relaxed form. "I was thinking of you naked." He went for the truth. They were rushing things today, after all.


Spock stood. "I will get us dinner. Please attempt to relax."


McCoy didn't have time to reply. Spock was out the door. He hadn't been ready for that truth, and McCoy hadn't been either.


"I'm out, Bones," Kirk said from the doorway of the bathroom.


McCoy jumped. He still couldn't quite believe the bathroom arrangements. "You two practically live in each other's pockets!"


"That's why we're such good friends." Kirk shrugged. "I'll tell you a secret." He leaned against the doorjamb and smiled. "Spock has sensitive skin. He can't use the sonic."


McCoy had missed that in all his scans of the Vulcan's body. "He hasn't always been first officer."


"I had Scotty add the door. I felt guilty!" Kirk laughed. "I'm due on the bridge."


"Wait. How long do I have? Before-" He broke off. He couldn't say it, but his captain would understand.


"I trust you to relieve yourself, if you can't function competently." Kirk frowned. "You didn't think I'd push you off at the first starbase, did you?"


"Of course not!" McCoy had wondered, but that was his insecurity, not the reality of the situation. He managed a smile. "Thanks."


"You should eat something." Kirk was moving towards his room, and his voice fell away behind shutting doors, but McCoy thought he heard the word 'puny.' It wasn't much better than scrawny. He took a deep breath and looked around again. Was it the incense that gave him a sense of calm, or the sedative? He rubbed his arms and hoped he would get to try out the shower after dinner, and he wouldn't feel guilty.


Spock came in the door with full hands, and McCoy got up to help. When they were settled at the small table, which had to be tucked into the space where the old bathroom had been, McCoy ventured a question. "Are you sure you want to pursue this? We argue frequently."


"That is not your primary fear." Spock put a napkin in his lap. He was always tidy, even exact.


McCoy had to eat, and he wasn't sure he could. He gingerly took a bite of the chicken. His stomach grumbled, and he took that as encouragement. "I bet you'll be glad to go back to your day job."


Spock ate. McCoy took that as a hint and cleaned his plate. He had to admit, he felt better afterwards. Sipping his coffee, he wished Spock would say something.


"You may take a shower, if you wish. I must return to the bridge." Spock didn't stand up though. "Do you require medications of any sort?"


"I'm strong enough to go get them myself," McCoy grumbled and glanced at the clock. "My third day is almost up. Thanks for your help."


Spock nodded. "I will check in with you when I may."


McCoy didn't argue. It wouldn't do any good, and he could always avoid obvious locations, if he couldn't face him. Spock removed the tray again, and McCoy did nothing but watch him leave. This courtship had always been hesitant, even strange, but now it was beyond both of those things. McCoy went to shower, making sure to lock both doors. The water was decadent. He watched it roll off his body and sighed deeply. He'd pay for this privilege.


You'll be his.


"Go away." McCoy didn't want to hear it. He wouldn't fear this Spock. He wouldn't. He hoped. "Shit." It was a long time before the guilt got to him, and he stepped from the shower feeling as if he could face the world, and even Spock. He dressed and went out to the main room. It was late, but sleeping here seemed - just wrong. Spock surely hadn't intended that. McCoy straightened his hair and decided to go to sickbay before he turned in for the night.


Red Alert! All hands to battle stations! Red Alert!


The message repeated itself, but he was no longer listening. He was running.




The only thing that mattered was steady hands, and he had them. He also had to keep moving, and he did. His nurses buzzed around him like bees, and he never hesitated. There was too much at stake.




"He's exhausted."


"It is the logical conclusion."


McCoy lifted his weary head from his desk. "Fellas, I can hear you." He yawned and leaned back to stretch. Sleeping at his desk was nothing new. During his internship, he'd learned to sleep anywhere. Kirk and Spock looked at each other and then him.


"I want you in your quarters," Kirk said. "Spock will see you there."


"I have too many patients. Are either of you injured?" McCoy scooped up his Feinberger and ran it over Kirk and then Spock. "Captain, you're right forearm is cracked."


"Damn," Kirk said softly. "I thought it ached."


"Out to the bio bed. Now." McCoy pointed. "Spock, you're fine."


"Of course I am." Spock got out of McCoy's way as he escorted Kirk to the bed and began treatment. "Captain?"


McCoy didn't worry about what they were discussing. He healed the arm and made sure the captain's endocrine system was handling the overload of adrenaline correctly. "I'm finished here. Take it easy for a day or two. No gym."


"I can promise you that." Kirk grinned. "Spock, he's fine, and we're needed elsewhere."


"Affirmative." Spock didn't follow his captain immediately though. McCoy waited to hear what else was coming. "Meet me in my quarters when you give in to your fatigue."


McCoy hadn't expected that. "Is that an order?"


Spock raised his eyebrow and hurried after Kirk. McCoy shrugged and went back to work. He'd sleep on his desk later, and it was hours later, when Nurse Chapel put a kind hand on him. "Go sleep for eight hours."




"That bio bed has your name on it." She hefted a hypospray menacingly.


McCoy chuckled. She meant it. He nodded. "I'll go. We're under control here, but keep a close eye on Ensign Gomez."


"As if I wouldn't." She glared at him. "Go."


He plucked the hypospray from her hand and went. He was past exhausted, and a bearded Vulcan was lurking, waiting for him to shut his eyes. It didn't make sense, but traumatic events were like that. They waited until the victim was weak and then pounced. He rubbed his head and tried shove the melodrama aside. Walking down a long hallway, he suddenly realized he was going to Spock's quarters, not his own. Damn. Well. Okay. He'd go, but he stood in front of the door with more misgivings than ever.


"Are you going inside?"


McCoy gasped and whirled around. "Spock!"


"These are my quarters." Spock opened the door. "I had Nurse Chapel alert me when you left sickbay."


"Traitorous nurse." McCoy listened to his heart thump. He didn't go inside. "Why did you want me here?"


Spock walked past him. "This is not a topic for the hallway."


McCoy swallowed hard and took the five steps necessary for the door to shut behind him. He clenched the hypospray. "Well?"


"You had no difficulties in sickbay. The captain was pleased." Spock peeled off his blue shirt, leaving the black behind.


"So was I." McCoy refused to listen to the demon inside him, whispering, whispering. There was nothing to fear here. Nothing. He forced his hand to loosen and nearly dropped the hypospray.




"A sleeping agent." McCoy blushed. He stayed by the door. "My bearded nightmare is making noise."


Spock nodded. "Come to the bed. I can help."


McCoy wanted to do that. He did, but he was too far gone. Too much was pushing at him from all sides. He'd made it through the crisis, but the letdown wasn't going well. "Is this ship out of danger?" He was stalling, and Spock would know it.


"I am here." Spock pushed off his boots and waited on the bed. "I won't hurt you, Leonard."


"On one level, I know that." McCoy stared down at the hypospray. It would guarantee him eight hours of sleep. Making his decision quickly, he pressed it into his arm. "I'm sorry."


Spock moved fast and caught him as his knees gave out. McCoy heard something about apologies and then, nothing else.




"Did he collapse?" Kirk asked softly from the connecting doorway.


Spock nodded. "He injected himself with a sleeping agent. He apologized for doing so."


"He's tough, but exhaustion made it all worse." Kirk rubbed a towel through his hair. "I'm glad he's here, instead of halfway across the ship."


"I concur." Spock pulled McCoy's boots off and placed them near the bed. "There is no question as to whether he can fulfill his duties."


"No. None." Kirk put the towel back around his hips. "We'll have some time at Starbase Four while we get a few repairs and take on supplies. He'll beat this."


"I believe so." Spock stood.


Kirk sighed. "He should watch the report. My counterpart was an animal."


"It would do nothing to help him. He feels guilt for the mirror doctor, who was sent back to face brutalities beyond what we can imagine." Spock sat McCoy up and peeled the shirt off him.


"Is there any chance the mirror doctor can stand up for himself?"


"None." Spock shook his head. "Our doctor will heal. Theirs is lost."


"Damn. I understood he was a drunkard and a wretch, but it's still a crime." Kirk sighed again. "I've got to sleep for five or six hours."


"I'll monitor the bridge from here." Spock put his hands on McCoy's trousers.


"Spock, don't. Trust me." Kirk took two steps inside the room. "He'll panic if he thinks . . ."


Spock removed his hands quickly, pulled the blanket back, and covered the sleeping doctor. "Thank you. I will shower now."


Kirk turned on his heel and gave a brief wave. Spock ran his hand over McCoy's forehead and said, "Sleep. Heal."




McCoy stretched and rubbed his sticky eyes. He'd slept hard, and he still felt tired. A hand swept over him, and he realized he had no idea where he was. Air brushed against his chest, but his trousers were still on, and he sat up fast.


"You're safe, Leonard."


He looked back down. Spock. He was in Spock's quarters, and it all came back to him. "I have patients." Spock didn't answer. His hand alighted gently on McCoy's thigh. McCoy stared at it and waited for a surge of panic, but it didn't come. "Have you been tinkering around in my brain again?"


"I believe the proper answer is yes." Spock didn't remove his hand. "You are more receptive when you are asleep."


"You mean drugged to the gills." McCoy snorted. "Well, I won't fuss about the results."


Spock brought his other hand over and rested it on the small of McCoy's back. "Am I going too quickly?"


McCoy nearly laughed at the question. By human sexuality standards, Spock wasn't moving at all. McCoy felt his heart speed up, but he wasn't certain if it were fear or anticipation. "If you do, I'll tell you."


"That is the response I hoped for. Injuring you further would make any further contact impossible."


McCoy put his hand on top of Spock's, and if his hand shook, he ignored it. "I need to report to sickbay."


"I will obtain a clean uniform for you during your shower." Spock was agreeing, in his own way. "Shall we have breakfast together?"


"I'd like that." McCoy kept the darkness at bay without the benefit of medication. It was a victory, of sorts. Neither of them seemed inclined to move, and McCoy took a heady breath. He did still want Spock, this Spock. There was time enough to heal. "Do you mind waiting?"


Spock's raised his eyebrow. "Moments ago, we were rushing."


McCoy laughed softly. Spock was going to drive him crazy, and he gave Spock's hand a gentle squeeze. "I'll be in the shower." He disengaged slowly. He'd be back for more, but later, after breakfast.




Return to Main Page