Weakened Links

Weakened Links

Disclaimer: The usual. Paramount owns these folks; they just let me
play with them.
Rating: NC 17 (well the last part anyway)
Summary: Immediately after the events of Star Trek VI: The
Undiscovered Country. The events of STVI leave McCoy and Spock
shaken and facing an uncertain future.
Author's note: I borrow Ainfern's terms of endearment because I like
them. Thanks Ainz. / Indicate internal thoughts. // Indicate
thoughts shared through link. With thanks to Elizabeth Barrett
Browning and Lord Byron. Special thanks to Janet for her excellent
Feedback: Yes, please.


Though still in meditation, he sensed his friend at the door. "Come"
Spock called over his steepled fingers automatically as the chime

"Hi, Spock." Jim Kirk stood just inside the doorway, relaxed but
still in uniform. "I was looking for Bones and thought he might be

"No Captain, I have not seen him since he left the bridge after we
got underway. He did mutter something about needing to finish some
reports in Sickbay." The two shared a knowing glance.

"I tried there first. The head nurse said he hadn't seen him, but
that Bones left a message to page him if he was needed." Jim entered
more and walked over to peer down into the smoldering fire pot. He
had seen it enough through the years to recognize that Spock was near
the end of his meditation when he had entered. "That's why I tried
here." Leonard and Spock had learned that sharing modified adjoining
quarters allowed them to spend desired time together, but afforded
Spock space and peace for his meditation and Leonard a place for an
occasional friendly crew poker game.

"Perhaps he is in Engineering. I know he and Mr. Scott were working
on a sub-dermal transmitter before . . . the situation with the
Gorkon's attack occurred. Shall I page him for you?"

"No, that's okay. I'll catch him later," Jim waved off his friend,
and headed back toward the door grabbing a lemon drop out of the
candy dish on the counter as he did. "I was just curious. I saw him
walking with Chancellor Azetbur before we left the conference hall
and I wondered what that was all about. Tell him I was looking for
him when you see him?"

"Of course. Would you be interested in a chess game, Jim?"

"Tomorrow, okay?"

"I shall look forward to it."

"What shift do you have tomorrow?"

"I am off duty tomorrow."

"That's what I get for letting you approve the duty roster," Kirk
grinned. "I'll let you know." Kirk nodded his farewell and stepped
back out of the door.

Spock knitted his brows in frustration. It was not like Leonard to
say he was going to Sickbay and then not go. And their link had been
suspiciously quiet since the "surgery" on the torpedo. Spock stood
up from his meditation mat and allowed himself to pace. Come to
think of it, it was only during the modification of the torpedo that
Spock had felt the full force of the link. Their link had been
consistently subtle for some days before that. This was not
surprising given Leonard's trial and incarceration. It was very
possible that Leonard and the Captain might have been put to death.
A thought that Spock had refused to linger on. But Leonard would
have shut himself off completely to make it easier for Spock to sever
the bond had the death sentence been rendered. But his mate had not
really opened the link fully while on that frozen wasteland either.
Just the occasional hesitant touch of Spock's mind to let him know
that Jim was still safe. Not that Leonard was safe or conversely in
trouble, but only brief mental flutters that conjured up the feeling
that Jim was safe.

Rura Penthe was one of the coldest places in the quadrant. Leonard
might have been trying to shield Spock's warmer Vulcan blood from the
effects that he was feeling in the freezing temperatures. And by
letting Spock know that Jim was fine through their link, Leonard was
in essence telling Spock that he was holding up as well. Still . . .
there had been two distinct moments before the rescue that Leonard
had plainly and forcefully shut the link off. Spock vowed mentally
to speak to his mate about those instances. He lowered his own
shields to search for his mate. He could find Leonard's presence; it
was close by, but he could not feel any emotion with the
presence. "Over the years, t'hy'la, you have become extremely
proficient at shielding. You exceeded my expectations greatly."
Spock whispered to his empty sitting area. With that, Spock relied
on the technology. "Computer, exact location of Dr. McCoy."

"Dr. McCoy is in crew quarters: Lt. Valeris."

Valeris? Perplexed more than ever, Spock hung up his meditation robe
and grabbed his uniform jacket. Dressed appropriately, he left his
quarters to find his mate.

He arrived at his destination a short time later to find a low-level
security guard standing outside Valeris' quarters, but the door was
open. He acknowledged the guard and stepped in. "Doctor?"

"In here, Spock." Spock walked passed two space crates and around
the partition to the sleeping area. "Doctor, may I inquire what
you're doing here?"

"I would think it fairly obvious, Spock." McCoy responded
flatly. "I'm packing."

"Yes, but why?" Controlled, but with an undertone that a few would
recognize as impatience.

"Because Valeris is a Vulcan and Vulcans don't like just anybody
prying into their things. Because Valeris was yourwas impor--
because I didn't think you'd want just anyone going through her
things either. And I figured you had enough to deal with right now.
Besides, I cleared it with her."

Spock raised one eyebrow. "When?"

"When do you think?" The impatience was by now mutual. "Before we
left her in custody on Khitomer. I arranged to have a moment with
her. I told her that if she were agreeable I would see to her things
personally. I told her I would put them in storage when we reached
space dock, and then when she was sentenced to a rehab facility I
would arrange to send her whatever they would permit. She could then
tell me what she wanted done with anything else, including just
leaving it in storage." He watched as Spock went from his 'at ease'
stance to crossing his arms over his chest.

Leonard met the dark eyes and managed to quell his growing
annoyance. He was doing this because he didn't want his mate to have
to relive Valeris' betrayal again. He tried for an easy, matter of
fact tone. "She's a Vulcan; she travels light, and I suspect there
won't be much more in her storage locker at Starfleet."

Spock was finding it increasingly difficult to speak of Valeris
despite his having just come from an arduous session of meditation on
her actions. "You should not have manhandled her belongings."

"Manhandled? Manhandled, Mr. Spock." Leonard dropped his voice to a
rough and decidedly dangerous whisper. "When, in all the years
you've known me, have you ever seen me 'manhandle' anything?"

"An unfortunate choice of words, Doctor. I apologize." Indeed he
noted that Leonard had carefully folded her meditation robe and was
packing it according to the custom in a light layer of sand. "I
merely refer to the fact that you could be interfering with trial

"Oh please. Despite her misguided loyalties and prejudices, you
don't really believe she would be stupid enough to leave
incriminating evidence lying around do you? And given that we have a
full confession, what more evidence is needed?"

"You may be right, Doctor. I thank you for your consideration of
Valeris... Do you wish assistance, Adun?"

"No, I'm almost done here. I just need to get the guard to witness
the sealing, and then I'll have the stuff sent to one of the holding
bays until we dock."

Spock had no reason to stay; yet he hesitated. Illogical he knew. He
turned to his previous conversation with Jim for an excuse. "The
Captain was looking for you earlier."

Leonard sat down on the bunk and began to go through the
nightstand. "Do you know why?"

"He indicated being curious as to your walk with Chancellor Azetbur."

"Oh for heaven's sake," Leonard stopped going through the top drawer
to scowl at Spock. "Since when do I have to account for all of my
actions? I'm beginning to feel like I'm on trial again. I offered
her my condolences. I apologized for not being able to do more for
her father. I suggested that even if agreements couldn't be reached
to Klingon satisfaction that perhaps she would consider an exchange
of medical knowledge so that we could at least be better prepared to
treat her people."

Spock's gaze softened and he let the corner of one side of his mouth
raise slightly. Regardless of anything else in the galaxy, he had
found one constant time and time again. Leonard McCoy was a
physician first, last, and always. "And was she open to your

"I think so; one of her escorts was close by, so she didn't exactly
agree. But she indicated my 'idea had merit'. She even thanked me
for my condolences and expressed her regrets at the events of the
trial and my being sent to Rura Penthe. Pretty unbelievable if you
ask me."

Spock was long adept at reading his mate. He heard the self-
recrimination over Gorkon's death and Chang's claims of incompetence
in the tone. "You were not to blame for the attack, nor were you to
blame for not being able to save Gorkon." Spock wandered around the
almost bare cabin. "We have not had a chance to discuss your

"You've heard the phrase 'when hell freezes over'? That's a perfect
description of Rura Penthe."

Spock managed to stifle the sigh that threatened to escape him. "You
do not wish to discuss it now?"

"No, I do not wish to discuss this, period." Leonard punctuated his
remark with a slammed drawer.

"Well, I'll leave you to finish here. Do you wish to dine in the
mess or in our cabin this evening?"

There was no answer. And he turned back to see Leonard looking into
the bottom drawer of the nightstand. "Leonard? Leonard is something
wrong?" He felt Leonard's shields drop and anger flared at him.
Anger and crushing pain. So much so that despite his desire to rush
to his mate, he found himself paralyzed. And then there was nothing
but a void. As if watching through water, he saw Leonard reach into
the drawer and pull out a volume. /No! How could I have
forgotten?/ The volume of poetry that he had collected and copied
over the years, love poems of various worlds he had visited. Poems
he had recited to his mate during their intimate moments. //Oh,
Beloved, I am sorry.// He had lent them to Valeris, simply lent them
to her when she had questioned . . . but there was no doubt they were
as damning as if it had been a holo of he and Valeris with their
index and second fingers caressing each other.

//How could you, Spock?// //There is a logical explanation.// //I
don't doubt there is.// Their thoughts ran over each other.

"I need to finish this, Mr. Spock. Shall I include this with her
things as a gift from you?" Scathing sarcasm was something with which
Leonard had always excelled.

"I would like its return." Spock caught the clumsily flung volume.

"Then take it and leave me be."

Time. Spock knew Leonard needed time to calm down. He needed time
to prepare his explanation. It was logical, but it was sensitive,
and he had no desire to hurt his mate more than this oversight
already had. When Leonard refused to meet his gaze, he tucked the
volume inside his tunic placket and left.


Spock waited for his mate to return. But Leonard did not. He did
not return to their cabin for evening meal, and he had not been in
the mess hall either when Spock checked. He had discovered that
Leonard was locked in his office in Sickbay with instructions not to
be disturbed unless there was a medical emergency that no one else
could handle. His head nurse had expressed a curiosity tinged with
concern, but Spock had said he was sure it was some official report
of the incident at Camp Khitomer that the good doctor just needed to
complete. He heard Valeris question him again: A lie? An error, he
had reasoned.

He had returned to their cabin. Alone and worried. He knew what
time it was, but he found himself looking at the chronometer anyway.
He thought about going to the bridge, then realized he had no logical
reason to do so. To do so just to force Leonard into waiting in
their cabin would speak of a childishness he would not permit. So he
waited. He had prepared his reasons and his apologies hours ago.
All he wanted was a chance to express them. It was now 23:30. He
wondered when he would get his chance.

This was hardly their first argument. It was a rare week that they
did not engage in a verbal battle of some sort, usually philosophical
in nature. Their battles on the Enterprise were almost as legendary
as the Enterprise herself--at least among the crew. But those
battles were a game. True, sometimes one or the other had gone too
far and had disregarded the unspoken rules of the game. The game had
been hurtful from time to time as well, especially in the early years
of the first mission. But for a long time, any anger that had been
felt was anger on one another's behalf. His sensitive Vulcan ears
had once overheard Chekov speculate that he and Leonard fought so
much simply so that they could have "make up" sex. Spock could not
admit causation, but there was no doubt about correlation.

Valeris had once breeched Vulcan etiquette to ask why Spock had
bonded to one who disagreed with him so frequently. "A fire burns
hotter when stoked, Valeris." "Does it not also burn itself out?"
She had wondered with genuine innocence. "Only if the fuel is in
limited supply." She had persisted: "Fuel is a resource. Are not all
resources limited?" "Yes, but many things can serve as fuel,
Valeris. And even a Vulcan's lifespan is not indefinite."

However, this was very different in their experience. This spoke of
betrayal of trust and of an invasion of privacy. Spock had felt
Leonard's emotions being ripped. He had felt the sensation of
Leonard's blood draining and his throat constricting. He had never
felt such sensations from Leonard before, even when they had relived
his father's death in Sybok's vision. Spock was not sure he could
not ever forgive himself for being the cause of such turmoil, nor did
he really understand the reason for its intensity. Still, his
immediate concern was garnering Leonard's forgiveness.

Leonard suspected Spock would be waiting for him, so he made sure his
shields were up when he approached and sounded the chime to their
cabin. He hoped to gain some element of surprise. Later he would be
surprised that it actually worked.

He entered when Spock called "Come."

Spock started to rise from his chair, but Leonard held up his hand
halting his progress. When Spock sat down again, Leonard moved to
take the chair across from him. "I know you have things to say to
me, Spock. You said there was a logical explanation for Valeris
having that particular book, and I believe you. But I've had a lot
of time to think. In fact I've had a lot of time to think over the
last several days. I'd appreciate it if you'd let me do this my way."

Spock looked at his mate intently. The familiar and much adored blue
eyes were not the cold blue of anger, nor the watery blue of worry.
What Spock saw almost shook his Vulcan control; he saw dull
resignation. "Tell me what you wish, Leonard."

"I have something I want to say. It'll be lengthy because I'm still
struggling with the best way to say it, but I'd like you to let me
get through it without interruption. I'll probably sound illogical
to you, though I assure you that I am being honest with you and with
myself. I have my reasons. I may have some questions to ask. All I
want is answers from you. No explanations, no context, just a good
old Vulcan straightforward answer. And when my questions are
answered and I've had my say, then we'll see where we are. Okay?"

Spock permitted himself a deep breath. "Of course."

"When we first started out in this, our relationship I mean, I
couldn't imagine that you loved me, that you wanted me." Leonard
looked at the floor and shook his head in negation. "What could you,
with your intelligence, your eloquence, your potential, want with
me? 'Beautiful' isn't just a term of endearment I use. I believe
that." He looked back and questioned the striking features he loved
watching. "You do know that, don't you?"

"Yes, Beloved."

"I can tell ya it was the greatest feeling I've ever known. To know
that you felt that way ... well it's a great source of pride. And
then when I began to believe that it could be true, I figured it
wouldn't last. And that had nothing to do with feeling inferior to
others, well not much anyway. I just figured you'd feel the pressure
from your family or you'd feel the need to have a child to carry on
the line. Or that something or someone would just one day look
better to you than I did. I guess that's why I handled your leaving
for Gol as well as I did. Which is not to say that it didn't hurt,
or that I didn't have some rough spots during those months between
the end of the first mission and V'Ger. But I did okay. Besides,
this is old news to you."

Spock was grateful that there was no longer any hurt associated with
his attempt to achieve Kolinahru status. He knew from their bond
that Leonard saw that time as a period of transition and growth for

"But then we were back together as if we had never not been together,
and that was amazing, but the thought that it would end some day has
always been there in the back of mind. Good Lord when I think of all
the things that could have killed us between then and now, that I got
not just another chance with you after V'Ger, but after the fal-tor-
pan ...We've had as many lives as cat, Spock.

"And we have survived this mission, as well." /Did we not?/ Spock
added to himself.

"But we both know that just because of Vulcan physiology, I'll likely
be gone long before you. I don't want you to be alone. I don't want
you to go through that the way I did. I want you to find another
bondmate. You know that don't you?"

"Yes." He did know. That Leonard was that compassionate was not a

Leonard couldn't suppress a hint of a grin. "Did you know that I've
even picked bondmates out for you?"

This sent both eyebrows skyward. "I did not."

"Yep, oh I don't know their names. But I know exactly who I want for
you. I also know what I don't want for you, Spock. I don't want you
to have to deal with a frail and feeble old man. I don't want you to
feel obligated to stick around; I don't want you to have to take care
of me when I can no longer take care of myself. Can you understand

"Yes, but it is hardly an obligation if I wish to remain at your
side. Notwithstanding, that is many years ahead of us, Leonard."

"Maybe, maybe not. But let's assume you're right. That still leaves
other problems. What's ahead of us when we reach space dock?"

"I do not understand."

"What is our future looking like, Spock?"

"The ship is to be decommissioned. We'll spend the remaining months
until retirement 'riding a desk' as you put it. Then we assume
teaching positions. I'll be at the academy in sciences, and you will
be at the hospital."

"And what about the diplomatic corps? You're a budding Ambassador if
there ever was one. What about that?"

"I am honored to assist my father or others as they feel I can, but I
am retiring from active mission duty to teach. We have discussed

"We've discussed teaching, true. But even I didn't know anything
about your efforts on behalf of the Klingons. Spock, you're good,
too good to not keep doing what you started here. And I don't fit in
that world. I know why you didn't tell Jim anything before the
mission, but why didn't you tell me? For over a month you were
working on this, and I knew nothing, why?"

"I was not at liberty to divulge any information."

Leonard made no attempt to hide his accusatory tone. "Any information
with me a human, or any information to say another Vulcan?"

"What are you implying, Leonard?"

"Not a thing really. Hell, Spock. I know I'm a PR nightmare for
Starfleet, you really think I'm cut out to be the spouse of an
Ambassador? And the Vulcan Ambassador at that?"

"I am not an Ambassador, but you are 'cut out' as you say to be my
mate regardless. You have proven that. Furthermore, I would remind
you that my father holds you in the highest esteem."

"Thank you, Spock. I wasn't fishin' for a compliment. But I see
where you're headed, even if you don't. And I don't fit there. So I
see our future, too, even if you don't. Damn it all, no one will
ever love you more than I do, but I'll just be holding you back one
way or the other. It's time I let someone else love you for the
better. Here, you'll be needing this."

Spock reached hesitantly towards the data chip in the outstretched
hand. "What is this?"

"Two letters. One to the High Council on Vulcan, one to our lawyer
at home. Both indicate that I will not contest the dissolution of
our mental or legal bond. My only request is that you keep this
quiet until after we reach space dock. Our friends are facing enough
with the decommission of the ship, I don't want to add to their mood."

"I do not want these. Not now, not after we dock. I see no reason
to end our bond unless that is what you desire. Is it?"

"You were willing to let Valeris shoot you."


"You were willing to let Valeris shoot you. Why?"

"I knew she would not."

"You don't know that. 'You' told her it was logical to do so!"

"She would not have fired. She did not wish to shoot."

"Yeah, and we both know why. I also know that her betrayal ran so
deep that you didn't care. I was standing right there, Jim was right
there, and-- you--didn't--care. You challenged, hell practically
demanded, that she fire her phaser."

"She is a Vulcan. She would not have needlessly taken a life."

"My God, man, listen to yourself." Leonard rose and stalked a path
around the sitting area. "I have never heard you grasp at straws
before. She helped to arrange the taking of Klingon lives, Spock.
She killed the assassins so she wouldn't be caught. Perhaps that was
logical, but it was hardly Vulcan. And if what you're saying is true,
then why tell her to shoot you? Why put yourself right in her line of
fire? You're the one who was being illogical, it seems to me."

"I was attempting to shake her nerve to break her."

"Hmpf. You can rationalize this all you want."

"This still does not answer why you are offering to break our bond--"

"Because I want to remember what we've had without seeing your pity
or frustration at my limitations as I grow old. Because I want to
remember what we've had without my feeling resentment at the fact
that you're making a contribution without me or your feeling
uncomfortable because I don't fit in your plans." He stopped to stand
beside the one he adored above all others. "Because I want
desperately to remember what we've had without watching us grow
farther apart every day, because we don't have Starfleet to keep us
together anymore and because you have some pretty strong feelings for
Valeris. I felt them in Sickbay and I sure as hell felt them on the

"In the order of your objections: I won't. You do make contributions.
You do fit as you put it. We do not need Starfleet now and we never
have. And Valeris has nothing to do with this."

*Sickbay to Dr. McCoy,* came the untimely call.

"Damn. McCoy here. What the hell is it?!"

*Doctor there was an accident in Maintenance. We've got a multiple
compound fracture, two skull fractures, a probable ruptured spleen,
and some burns headed for us. And at least one of the burn victims
is Tharei'n.*

"On my way. McCoy Out...Because you have to decide if you can
forgive Valeris for her betrayal. You love her, whether you realize
it or not. And she's gonna need you. I think a part of you needs
her, too. You can't wait to make decisions regarding Valeris. She
doesn't have the time. I love you Spock. But I'm not sure that is
enough anymore."

And with that, Leonard McCoy rushed out of their cabin.


Spock sat for a long time, neither seeing that which was before him
nor hearing the soft whisper of the circulation vents. He was numb.
An unusual experience in his life. He had heard others claim that
feeling before, but other than the few times he had been rendered
numb physically by medication, he had not realized it was possible to
feel nothing, neither warm nor cold, neither alert nor asleep. Even
in his deepest meditations, even in a healing trance, he held some
awareness. But he suddenly realized he had no idea how long he had
been sitting in his chair. Had he truly not had any thoughts? This,
then, was emptiness.

Finally he stood and went to get a cup of tea. As he reached for the
wall unit to request hot water he noted that he was still holding on
to the data chip that Leonard had given him. He smiled, a full
blown, both sides of his mouth smile. But there was no humor or
mirth in his eyes as he wrapped his hand around the disk and heard a
distinctly satisfying sound of the plastic alloy being
crushed. /Forgive me Surak. I am loath to admit that sometimes
violence for violence sake is useful. Especially, as I cannot take a
certain Human and slam him up against a bulkhead./ He dropped the
unrecognizable pieces down the recycler and made his cup of tea.

He sipped his tea cautiously and went to stand before the nightstand
at the side of their bed. There, prominently displayed, was a holo
of he and Leonard on the bridge of the old Enterprise. He was at the
science station and Leonard was looking over his shoulder. Little
did they know that Uhura was checking out a new digi-cam she had
purchased at their last space station stopover. The blue uniforms
they wore made it seem a lifetime ago. /Well, in my case it was my
last lifetime./ Spoke thought ironically. He raised his cup to the
holo in a silent toast. /You are partially right, my mate. I do have
feelings for Valeris. But not in the manner you have presumed. I
can do nothing for her now. I will choose to be selfish in this and
save us, if I can./ "The question is how." "Tell me" he asked of
the holo "how do I fix this?"

At 0600, after having read the report on the accident in Maintenance
and having visited the sight himself, Spock made his way to Sickbay.
Logic dictated that Mohammed go to the mountain, but Spock realized
that a mountain might actually be easier to move than his Human. He
knew that in any language the name Leonard McCoy translated
to 'singularly obstinate when he wants to be.' He was greeted by the
duty nurse upon entering and learned that Drs. McCoy and Watson had
finished up with the last of the injured crew a short time earlier
but that both were taking watch over one critical crewman. As she
finished her report to him she confirmed the rumor he had heard in
Maintenance, one life could not be saved.

"Is Dr. McCoy in his office?"

"Last I looked, Captain, he was holding Dr. Watson's head over the
toilet, while she lost everything she ate yesterday. But he may have
gotten her on a bio bed by now."

"Is this the first time she has lost a patient?" he asked evenly.

"No, but it's the first time she's lost a Tharei'n."

The Tharei'n had been the severe burn victim. Spock recalled a
comment of Leonard's from several years before about hating the smell
of burning flesh but that the smell of burning fur was even worse.
He considered leaving, but he realized that there would be no harm in
letting his presence be known. He nodded as the nurse excused
herself and he went through the short passageway to the critical care
area. He quickly noted the crewman in the stasis tent and then
looked to the beds on the opposite wall. His mate was in the first
bed, apparently sleeping. But Dr. PhilAnn Watson, who was in the
second bed, was on her side with her head propped in her hand
watching Leonard. She caught Spock's eye, held it without qualm for
a long moment, and then rose from the bed. He had not meant to
disturb her but did not object, as it would allow him to approach
Leonard in greater privacy.

She ran her hand through her dark mahogany tresses as she came
through the transparent door and closed it behind her. "Good
morning, Capt. Spock," she offered with lowered voice. "May I help
you, sir?"

"I am sorry, Doctor. I did not mean to disturb you. I just stopped
by to see Dr. McCoy.

"You can go on in, Captain." She slanted her head in the direction of
the room.

He hesitated briefly. "Doctor, may I inquire ...?"

"What I was just thinking?"

"If it is not too personal?"

She sighed softly. "I was wondering how he can be so good and hoping
that someday I might be half as good. I know he knows he's good, but
I don't think he realizes just 'how' good. I don't think anyone
outside of Fleet Medical truly knows either." She stood with her arms
crossed over her chest and bounced on the balls of her feet in a
disconcertingly familiar manner.

"What do you mean, Dr. Watson?"

"I mean, Capt. Spock, that the medical brass lift him up as the model
Starfleet doctor in terms of knowledge, skill, and intuition. And us
folks on the line see him as the model anti-Starfleet doctor--one who
puts his patients above the regs and tells the brass where to so.
Sir." She added without bothering to hide her disdain at said
brass. "His research is in the texts at every level of med school;
his techniques in the training vids on several worlds, and his legend
is in the stories passed from one class to the next." She looked back
at the sleeping form. "I used every favor I had coming to me and
promised a life-time of favors on my own just to get the last three
missions with him. And do you know what I found, Captain?" Her
peridot eyes dared his obsidian ones.

He met the dare. "What, Doctor?

"He's everything I want to be when I grow up," she grinned.

"Hero worship, Doctor?"

"Damn straight, Captain." She offered him a lax salute. "Besides,
he's such a cute little flirt. Wouldn't you agree?"

Spock tilted his head to one side as she disappeared into the outer
room. /Not aloud, I would not./

He entered the room quietly and giving a cursory glance to the
monitor in use, walked to the side of the bed that held Leonard. He
took his time examining the sleeping form. /I imagine you will need
to begin the caloric enhancers again, Beloved. This mission has left
you close to underweight again. But I see you have resumed the beard
suppressor./ Spock reached out and gently ran the back of his hand
along the temple, down the cheek, to the slightly slack jaw. There
was a time when he never would have permitted himself such a blatant
public display of affection. Giving his katra to Leonard had left
its mark on Spock as well. He continued down the neck with his first
two fingers and had just reached the hollow of the throat when one
eyelid cautiously opened. Spock stopped his trail and waited.

Both eyes opened and focused. //Hi.//

//Good Morning.//

//What brings you here?//

//You. However what I wish to say can wait until you have had more

//I'm rested; what do you have to say?//

Spock resumed letting his fingers roam back along the shoulder and
down the sleeve. Giving no thought to who might enter or who might
hear, he held the much-loved blue eyes with his and began softly.

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,--I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!--and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death."

He placed his two fingers lightly against Leonard's hand. "I lent
the volume to Valeris, Beloved. I should have consulted with you and
for that I ask your forgiveness. But I am guilty only of
insensitivity not indiscretion."

Leonard knew what such a declaration cost Spock. He could not remain
unmoved for anything. He took a deep breath and touched his fingers
to Spock's. They both were gladdened by the embrace. But this was
not the time nor place for further understanding, he knew. "Did you
get the medical report?"

"Yes. I have also looked over the one from Maintenance. An
unfortunate, highly avoidable accident."

"Dammit." Leonard pushed himself up to sit leaning against the
headboard. "Do they know who or what caused it?"

"Yes, the Tharei'n."

"Well I suppose the others can take cold comfort in knowing they
didn't cause the death of their fellow crewman."

"What about Ensign Ten Feathers?" Spock asked as he looked back over
his shoulder to the comatose figure in the tent.

"Too soon to tell, except that if he makes it he'll feel more like
Six Feathers for quite some time. Phil and I did what we could, but
it's up to him now."

"Which is exactly why both of us don't need to be here," Dr. Watson
announced as she returned carrying a tray with a large mug and a
plate of cookies. "This is my shift, Len; so skeedaddle." She put
the tray on the stand between the two beds, climbed onto the vacant
one and opened a data pad.

"What about the autopsy, Phil?" Leonard looked at her with concern.

"Once I'm sure this unholy, unhealthy breakfast is gonna stay down,
I'll get started on it."

"You sure?"

She studied the hands in her lap. "I've never done one on a Tharei'n
except on a simulator. I need to do this." Turning to look at the
two gentlemen she cocked an eyebrow. "Go on, Blue Eyes. Take Tall,
Green, and Handsome over there with you, and get out."

"Okay." Leonard swung off the bed, took a large gulp of her tea and
grabbed two cookies.

"Hey! Those are mine," she cried in mock indignation.

"Get over it." Stopping just outside the open door, Leonard turned
back to his colleague. "Phil, call if you need to."

She nodded her agreement.

Leonard handed Spock one of the cookies, took a bite out of the
second, and left Sickbay to the care of others. They walked
unhurriedly back to their cabin exchanging nods or salutations with
those they encountered. It was after they received the third stare
from a Lieutenant that Leonard commented: "Are you gonna eat that
thing? You're confusing people just carrying it around like that."

Spock seemed surprised that he was still carrying it and took a
tentative bite. "This is quite good. What is it called?"

Leonard resisted the urge to say "it's a cookie" and instead opted
for "Phil calls 'em 'snickerdoodles.'"

"We should get the recipe," he broke off a second bite "and you
should have changed your shirt. It is the two colors of blood and
other fluid spatters that are drawing the stares."

"Oh." Leonard looked down at himself. "I guess I should have."

"On the other hand, perhaps seeing it will encourage those we pass to
be more careful in their duties." He studied the appearance of the
cookie before taking the remaining bites.

As they neared their cabin entrance, they were halted by the sound of
a long familiar voice. "Good morning, Gentlemen. On your way to

"No, Jim." Leonard stifled a yawn. "I'm on my way to the shower."

"Yes. Well, Spock, how about you?"

"Go ahead, Spock. Eat." //We'll talk when I'm clean and coherent.
And you're not gonna get many more chances at breakfast with Jim

Spock did not want to delay talking with Leonard, but given the
doctor's weariness considered the reprieve in order. "Thank you,
Jim. I will join you."

"Good. Uh, Bones...I heard you had a rough night."

"One of many of late it seems, Jim."

"I know, me too." Spock noted the change in Jim's eyes as Leonard
retreated into their cabin. "But do you think you could have changed
your shirt before you left Sickbay?"
He pointed and teased, "that's a little tacky even for you."

"Tacky? Tacky he says, Spock." Leonard challenged with a light in his
own eyes. "This from a man who was making out with a changeling in
an over-crowded, frozen barracks. And he calls ME tacky."

Jim responded indignantly. "We weren't making out. She kissed me."

"No, Jim. 'IT' kissed you."

"All right, all right, don't remind me. Go have your shower."

"And I'd have sworn there was some tongue involved, too." The whoosh
of the door closing permitted Leonard the last word.

"Jim, you should know better than to bait him like that when he has
spent the night in Sickbay," Spock chided mildly as the two headed
for the mess hall.

"I know. There's no telling what he'll say," Jim laughed.

"It appears," mused the Vulcan, "to be a quality shared by his
assistant." /Tall, green, and handsome, indeed./


Breakfast included a discussion of the accident, speculation about
the on-going peace conference, and an invitation to an informal
dinner with the captain, Uhura, and Misters Scott and Chekov. With
arrangements made to play chess later in the ship's day, Spock
returned to his cabin to continue the healing he and his mate had
seem to begun in Sickbay. He knew, however, that matter was not
behind them yet.

Leonard was sitting on the small sofa, feet propped up on the table
before him, leather volume of poetry in his lap. He was wearing
clean scrubs as he often did when lounging, though he had left the
shirt open. Spock hung his jacket by the door and engaged the
privacy lock. Finally he moved to sit in one of the swivel chairs
next to the sofa. "Did you have any breakfast?"

"Yeah, I had some biscuits and jam. Do you want some tea?" he asked
while sipping his own.

Spock merely shook his head "no."

"I left this out, didn't I?" He gestured to the book in his lap but
did not wait for a response. "We read from it the night before the
briefing, and I left it on the coffee table when we went to bed. I
think I remember seeing it still here the next morning."

"Yes. Neither one of us was in the mood to see that it was put away
that evening, if I recall correctly." Spock made no attempt to hide
the smile from his eyes as he recalled that particular evening. "The
call for the briefing had not been made yet, but I suspected it was
coming. I must admit that my mind was on that the next morning. I
did not put it away either."

Leonard placed the book to his side. "Then how?"

The unspoken words were 'did Valeris get it' but the tone was
clearly, 'why did you give it to her.' "Valeris brought me the
updated reports on the store supplies and weaponry that morning. You
had already left for Sickbay. While I was reviewing the reports, she
saw the book and asked about it. At first she seemed curious that it
was on paper and written by hand. I explained that I had been
collecting poetry for some time, that it was a habit I learned from
my mother. I thought that would end the matter. But it did not.
She seemed...confused by its content. I steered her to a discussion
of poetry and literature in general and discovered that her knowledge
was woefully inadequate of some of the literary arts. She asked if
she could read some of the works. I referred her to the original
sources, but she asked if she could borrow the volume to read
instead. She even asked if we might discuss some of the works at a
future point. To deny her..."

"Would have piqued her curiosity more. Typical Vulcan in that

"I did not tell her why I have included those particular poems. Nor
would I. That is our history. But I realized that she had no
understanding of what you have always called and I have come to
call 'love.'"

"You told me once that her intended bond mate and his family withdrew
the offer when she decided to enter Starfleet. She has no one, and
little to no experience. Is that what you're telling me."

"That is correct. No understanding and no experience. While her
family might have made suggestions, she is of the age where the
choice will be hers. I would have liked her to better understand her
options. I did think highly enough of her that I would wish her

"And so you lent her our book of love poems in hopes that she might
come to understand. What we have is pretty unique, I think. But I
see why you would have used the poems to help you help her. It's
easier than sharing your own experiences. I'm sorry I jumped to the
wrong conclusion where you were concerned. But I still believe
Valeris had other ideas. I believe that while she may not have had
experience or understanding, she was still feeling something pretty
strong for you."

"My bond is with you, Leonard. I am not interested in any other.
Whatever ideas Valeris may have had are of no consequence to me and I
would hope of are no consequence to you."

"I don't see the data chip that I gave you yesterday laying about
anywhere. Did you file it?"

"In a manner of speaking. I rendered it into five pieces and filed
it down the recycler."

"Now just a damn minute. I didn't give you those letters lightly or
as some threat. I meant what I said."

"If you want to sever our bond Leonard than you shall have to go to
Vulcan, and you shall have to speak with our attorney on Earth. I
have no intention of doing either."

"Spock, this isn't a matter of what I want. It's a matter of what
looks to be best."

Spock knelt in front of his mate. "You must forgive me, Beloved, for
borrowing one of your colorful phrases, but that is a crock of shit."

"Spock! You're---"

Spock grabbed Leonard's open shirt and pulled him forcefully to the
floor. Pushing the table out of the way and rolling him to his back
in one swift move. "Quiet. I am still having my say, remember?"
Spock placed one leg over Leonard's to hold him in place and began to
nibble at Leonard's neck and caress his thighs and flank. For all
his vehemence of a moment ago, Spock notice Leonard seemed to be
acquiescing nicely. "I am content to teach. If the time comes that
I wish to do otherwise, 'we' will discuss 'our' options. We have
spent all of our lives together putting each other and our union
second to Starfleet. Duty has always come first. The only duty that
I intend to put first in our retirement is our duty to each other.
Do I make myself clear, Doctor?" Spock let his hands roam to more
intimate areas and licked a rounded ear.

"Spock, it is gonna happen. We can't ignore the fact that one day
our bond is gonna have to be broken." Leonard tried to argue his
point, but his reserve was waning even as another part of him was
getting firmer.

"It is inevitable; I do not deny that. But that is not cause to
break it prematurely." He reached beneath the waistband of the
scrubs. "We have many years ahead of us before you are, as you put
it, frail and feeble."

"And can't get it up?" came the wry response.

"The day you cannot 'get it up' will be a first indeed. However, if
that unlikely event does ever occur, I shall prop you up in a chair
and let you watch me pleasure myself."

Leonard let out with a laugh pleasing to his lover's pointed ears,
then teasingly chided, "Cruel, Spock, Cruel."

Spock took his mate's jaw and turned it toward his own. Lightly
brushing his lips against the cooler ones, he asked. "This
discussion is over?"

"Yes, Beautiful. I do believe it is." The cooler lips whispered to
the warmer ones before seeking them further.

But the warmer lips pulled back. "Completely over, Beloved. Not
just over for now. Agreed?" Spock was long practiced in the art
arguing with Leonard. But he did not move as the head was raised off
the floor and Leonard's lips found his own. Between lips and teeth
and tongues, Spock pressed the issue. "Leonard, agreed? It is over."

Leonard took the opportunity to roll them over so that he was on top,
and Spock wrapped his arms around him to caress Leonard's back.
Leonard in turn traced Spock's eyebrows and began:
" He walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in his aspect and his eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er his face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

Over and forgotten, Beautiful." Leonard ran his hand through the
raven hair and noted, "You know, Spock, I'm not complaining about
this as this is the first time I've been really warm since before
being sent to Rura Penthe. And I wouldn't object if we were at home
on the rug in front of the hearth. But this stuff were stretched out
on is Starfleet issue. One or both of us is apt to end up with some
nasty rug burns."

"Then logic would dictate we move to a location less likely to
inflict damage."

"And who am I to argue against logic?" Leonard wondered as he stood
and letting his scrubs fall to the floor."

Spock eyed his lover's naked form. "Something tells me that I would
benefit more by not answering that question."

Sometime later Spock relaxed in the circle of Leonard's arms and
legs, feeling him spent but still buried in his most private of
places. He loved loving Leonard in any number of ways, but this
particular position permitted him to ignore his need for control,
because it defaulted to Leonard. He could truly relax and enjoy
himself and his mate. He squeezed his muscles gently relishing the
sensation it caused in him and the low growl it elicited from

"Was that a hint you'd like me to pull out?" came a soft drawl.

"Not at all. My preference would be the opposite in fact."

"'Oh I see." Leonard teased, pushing himself in as much as the
inevitable softening permitted. "Testing my recovery time, are we?"

"Purely in scientific interest, Beloved. So that I can keep track of
your feebleness." A remark that earned him a not so soft slap to his
bare behind. Followed immediately by the same hand that delivered
the slap rubbing and soothing any sting.


Alas. There was that tone. The one that bespoke of wickedness--
there was no other word for it. "Yes, Blue Eyes?"

A kiss to Spock's neck, a lick to the underside of his ear. "Wondered
when you were gonna bring that up. How many places are there on this
ship that you think two people could get really friendly?" He ran one
hand up Spock's thigh and traced the curve of the hip down to the
juncture between ass and thigh.

/Do not encourage him/ Spock thought. "That would depend on the
spatial necessity of any number of given friendly activities and the
combination of the people involved. I could not say with any

"But given that the Enterprise has carried anywhere from 200 to 500
personnel, not counting guests, you think there is any place that it
hasn't been tried?" His hand moved up Spock's side to trace around
nipples and navel.

"Given the propensity for some people to disregard the privacy of
others, not many I assume. What is your point?"

"My point" which Leonard punctuated with a thrust of his hips "is
that we don't have too many days left if we wish to boldly go where
no one has gone before." Leonard began to stroke Spock's erection
and move gently behind him.

"Leonard, we have in the past been less discreet than we should have
been. Are you suggesting we be so again?"

"Well, your cabin, my cabin, and now our cabin does seem a bit run of
the mill, doesn't it?"

"Do I need to remind you of the times in your office in Sickbay and
of those in the Science Lab?" Spock covered Leonard's hand with his
own and increased the pressure.

"No, I remember those fondly. But that was some time ago. And of
course there was the shuttle."

"Technically, that was not on the ship; we were en route to shore

/Gotcha/ Leonard thought. "That's right. So that doesn't count.
What do you say each of us think of some place we might like to visit
before this old girl is decommissioned? Could we do that? Maybe back
to the torpedo bay. Hmmm?"

"Leonard, think later. Move now."

Much later while at the dinner gathering with their friends, Scotty
asked, "Did you find the blueprints ye was lookin' fer, Spock?"

"Yes. Thank you. They were most helpful."

"Blueprints, Spock? Find anything interesting?" Leonard wondered with
only a marginally suppressed grin.

"Yes. I was curious about the configuration of the Jeffries tube
that runs directly under the bridge. Appetizer, Gentlemen?" he held
the tray for both but locked eyes with his mate.

Leonard bit into the stuffed mushroom suggestively and licked the
juice off the side of the half that remained. //I chose gymshower//

//That seems a trifle seedy, Beloved.// Spock returned the tray to
the buffet taking a morsel for himself.

//Uh? Oh. No Beautiful, not the gym shower. Jim's shower. I want
to get naked and hard and wet with you in the Captain's shower

And for the first time in anyone's memory, Spock choked on his food.
But when he recovered and apologized saying that "the mushroom must
have gone done the wrong way," he turned and asked the
Captain, "Jim, you are on Alpha shift tomorrow are you not?"