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Insight

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Title: Insight
Author: JiM
Pairing: Spock/McCoy
Rating: G, preslash
Summary: McCoy has been injured and Spock is trying to get him back to the shuttle. Unfortunately, what he finds in the doctor’s mind is distracting him.

 

When McCoy comes to, he is being carried. He can feel arms beneath the crook of his knees, his torso is resting against a chest and his head is tucked against the side of someone’s neck. There is a strong arm like a bar of iron across his back and the fingers are bruising his upper arm as they press him closer.

It is humiliating, to be carried as if he were a small child, feet dangling and swinging with the motion. But his head swims with dizziness and he is blind and he can feel blood dripping from him, welling sluggishly from a dozen wounds.

When he takes a deeper breath, he sounds like a kid sniffling and the scent of copper blooms at the back of his throat. A droplet inches down to linger on his upper lip and it tickles; in the annoying way of minor inconveniences in the face of major pain, it becomes his most pressing complaint. It takes him two tries to get his left arm to work enough to clumsily brush his hand against his face to smear the moisture away.

The fingers that had been gripping that arm too tightly ease a fraction and a voice close to his ear and rumbling against his side says, “Please do not move, Doctor. I have had insufficient time to ascertain the majority of your injuries.”

Spock. It is Spock’s voice and something eases inside McCoy at the man’s brusque tenor. Spock routinely sounds pissy; when he is calm and even, that’s when the shit is really going down. It is perversely comforting that now he just sounds mildly put out even as he is carrying his shipmate at a brisk walk.

“Spock, ‘m blind,” he manages to croak. What the hell has he been swallowing, sand? He sounds like a Coridian salt miner.

“I am aware of that, Doctor McCoy. You have received several blows to your head, among other things, and the medical care on this world is somewhat lacking. The facility from which I have removed you had only the most rudimentary medical equipment and they were far more interested in examining you for demonic influences than in actually treating your injuries.”

“You ok? Not hurt?”

“I am fine, Doctor,” Spock answers. He is not wholly truthful, but his injuries are relatively minor and will not impede their evacuation from this backward and unstable planet.

Spock shifts his grip slightly on McCoy and his fingers slip through a rip in the man’s shirt to touch bare skin. He is surprised at the stream of information he begins receiving from McCoy’s mind. While he had always suspected the man’s thinking to be extremely disorganized and illogical, he is frankly taken aback by its rapidity and fluid nature. Thoughts are tangled with emotions and impressions; there are connections to memories and data sparked by nearly everything the man is experiencing. At another time, Spock might be intrigued by the sheer amount of informational synthesis McCoy’s brain exhibits, but he has no leisure for inspection and analysis.

Now that he is conscious again, McCoy is assessing his own injuries and, though he is somewhat muddled by pain and physical damage, he is surprisingly accurate in his diagnosis so far.

/concussion…possible bleeding in anterior lobe... blindness caused by?/

Here the steady stream of medical data is interrupted by a flood of emotional input.
/ohgodI’mblind…panicfearrage…get a’hold of yourself, len…hurtssodamnedmuch…blind…can’t be a doctor if I’m blind…fearpainmisery…be a doctor now!/

And the litany abruptly changes from the high-pitched screech of terror to the more orderly data stream he had been experiencing before as McCoy forcibly regains control of his emotions. It is an impressive demonstration of will power.

/no obvious spinal injury…orderly assessment of neurological data from all four limbs…only slight nausea, concussion can’t be that bad…raw throat…streaming eyes and nose... blood or tears and mucus? /

There, Spock can help.

“Your eyes are streaming with tears, Doctor, and there is only a small amount of blood coming from one nostril. I believe that the rest of the moisture you are feeling is mucus. You appear to be reacting to the silicates and extreme alkalinity in the dust of the cave in which you were found.”

McCoy huffs a laugh, which he regrets as bruised ribs make themselves known. “I must be a pretty sight.”

“I have seen you looking more aesthetically pleasing than you do at this moment,” Spock assures him drily.

“Wouldn’t be difficult. Probably look like Joanna’s Raggedy Andy after the dog got to it,” he gasps a little.

His mind provides Spock with a lightning fast glimpse of a small human girl, whom he recognizes as Doctor McCoy’s offspring, holding a stuffed cloth doll with floppy arms and legs in almost the exact same position as he is gripping the doctor. Spock feels a slight amusement at the human’s simile for himself; whatever else McCoy may be, it cannot be said that he is not as ruthlessly honest with himself as he is with everyone else. It is one of the things about the human doctor that Spock respects.

“I believe you have lost the little blue hat,” Spock informs him in the flattest tone he has, the one that never fails to make the doctor either grin or growl at him.

Odd. He can feel the doctor’s thoughts curve in precisely the manner as his lip does when he is amused. But his thoughts settle back immediately into a diagnostic mode.

/right ankle…compound fracture likely…cut the boot off…gonna go broke just replacing my damned boots at this rate…right wrist sprained or dislocated…jesus, that hurts/

There is another tremor and, although Spock has been expecting further seismic activity for 6 minutes now, it catches him by surprise and he stumbles heavily, nearly losing his grasp on the doctor.

McCoy’s mind voice splinters into white shards and Spock himself is almost blinded by the reflected pain before he remembers to shield himself, placing the other man’s mind at one remove. McCoy says nothing and has made no sound beyond a single gasp. His teeth are gritted and he has pressed his face hard against Spock’s throat. McCoy’s skin is cold and clammy and Spock cannot accurately judge if this is a sign of the human slipping into shock or merely the expected temperature differential between Vulcan and Human, exacerbated by the dampness caused by tears, blood and perspiration.

“Doctor?”

“’m here, Spock.”

“Obviously,” Spock says, momentarily confused by the doctor’s highly irregular flash of amusement at his tone of voice. “I apologize for the additional pain you just experienced. Are you ready to continue?”

“Hell, yes, Spock. Won’t get any better just standing around here.”

Spock can feel him brace for the unavoidable pain returning to motion will cause and begins to walk again.

McCoy has begun to shiver.

/fuck, going into shock…not much time left…/

A stream of fairly complex math whispers by as the doctor tries to determine how much longer he will be likely to remain conscious. He feels the gratitude the man has for Spock’s higher core temperature and the simultaneous irritation it causes him as he realizes that it will throw off his calculations.

The shuttle is concealed in a small copse approximately 4 minutes away at his current pace. There are adequate enough medical supplies stored in it that he feels reasonably certain that he will be able to stabilize the doctor’s condition for the 3.24 hours it will take them to rendezvous with the Enterprise. If she is within hailing distance, he might even be able to request the doctor be beamed off of the shuttle in no more than 2.876 hours.

His calculations are disturbed as he becomes aware that McCoy has ceased his own attempts at calculation and has lapsed into less ordered thought. There is a muffled quality to the thought stream that has Spock unconsciously shifting his fingers on McCoy’s skin, trying to reclaim that earlier clarity.

/strongarmswarm…hurt!...lyingvulcan…smellcopperblood… he’s bleeding!...need to see…stop…evaluate…be a doctor…starfleet officer…pulse is strongregularthrumming…soothing/

It amuses Spock as much as it impresses him that McCoy, in pain and disoriented as he is, has been taking Spock’s pulse with the tip of his nose pressed against one of the main arteries that runs up the front of Spock’s throat.

/cold …pain…scared…spockwarmstrong…smells good…clovehaysummerrain...hurt…spockwounded?...?/

If Spock were not in control of himself at all times, he might have dropped McCoy at the unlikely sense of security and affection that washes over him from the other man. The emotions are tied to a stream of visuals in which Spock sees himself at different times and from various angles. On the bridge, during a chess game with the captain, in Lab 3, transporting back from an away mission, laid out on a biobed in Sickbay, firing a phaser, calmly debating a point with the doctor, ‘lift doors closing between himself and Lt. Uhura. It is extremely strange to see himself through McCoy’s eyes.

Apparently, he has misunderstood the doctor’s attitude toward him almost entirely. For someone whose specialty includes careful and thorough observation before accepting a hypothesis, it is embarrassing, or it would be if he were given to such unproductive emotions.

“How badly are y’hurt, Spock?” McCoy asks, slurring a little. “And don’t tell me yer fine again,” he growls.

They are entering the small patch of trees where Spock has secreted the shuttle. He judges that he has the leisure to answer the doctor’s query at this time.

“I have sustained some minor cuts and bruises, doctor, that is all.”

“Then why do I smell blood? Your blood,” he clarifies. Spock is suddenly treated to a wave of

/sadness…irritation…memories of fear… anger/

all accompanied by a cascade of rapid visual memories of all the times McCoy has felt/seen/smelled Vulcan blood, his in particular. The sense of anger for, about and at Spock because of the sheer number of those events is also surprising.

“There is a twelve centimeter tear running across my chest, beginning just under my left arm. It is not deep nor is it impeding our progress at this time. It likely began bleeding again when I stumbled during the last temblor.”

/relief…coldpaindarkfear…need…stay awake, dammit!/

McCoy feels himself slipping deeper into shock and part of him wishes he could let go and drop into that cold, numbing space. Holding on to consciousness is exhausting and it’s pissing him off to have to work this hard to stay awake (alive, his medical mind whispers) and he has been tired for so long. But he is

/doctor…father…officer…friend…inlove/
and he cannot surrender like that, he will not let himself fail those he has pledged himself to, even those who will never know of his devotion.

Jim knows, although they don’t speak about the bond between them – it’s just there, unshakeable, a constant in the chaos that is his life after Jocelyn. Joanna knows he loves her, he tells her every time they speak and in every message he sends her.

Some of the crew might know, those who have seen him fight for every life that pulses beneath his hands; the rest do not. Spock does not know, would be appalled if he knew, does not need to know of the hopelessly tender feeling that has been growing within McCoy for the past year.

Wildly disconcerted when he first determined the nature of his feelings, he has grown at home with the situation. The psychiatrist within him tells him plainly that he has fixated on the least likely romantic object in order to avoid ever risking a true relationship again. The man within shrugs and dates a string of women and men who find him “emotionally remote” and “unable to commit”. The last one, Sherrill, had said plainly, “Whoever it is, Leonard, just tell them and stop letting the rest of us think we have a fair chance, because we don’t and we never will.”

Which may be truer now than she intended. There is likely internal bleeding, both in his brain and in his abdomen, which would explain the blindness and the rapid onset of shock. It felt like half the cave’s ceiling had fallen on him when the earthquake hit. He had been pinned in the rubble for only a short time before Spock and two others had dug him and their guide out.

Unfortunately, medical care on this ball of rock required that a patient be spiritually cleansed of all demons and spirits before physical ailments could be attended to. Such a cleansing could take up to an hour and, if a patient bled out or died from shock before actually medical care could begin, it was “the will of the gods”.

It had taken exactly one grimace from McCoy and one slight eyebrow twitch from Spock for the two men to decide to get McCoy out of there. When he tries to calculate the time from injury to now, he is forced to reassess and maybe shock isn’t setting in too rapidly. Maybe it’s right on damned time. Then he is being laid down on a padded bench in the rear of the shuttle and the pain whites him out again completely.

The murmur of Spock’s voice brings him back to awareness. There is a sharp pressure in the bend of his left elbow that tells him that intravenous fluids are being delivered. Spock has laid a warming blanket over him and is tucking it as close as he dares without knowing more of McCoy’s injuries.

“Doctor, I need you to tell me what drugs I may administer to ameliorate your condition.” From the slight emphasis Spock is giving his words, it is obvious that he has repeated this sentence several times.

“Damn Vulcan, sound like my textbooks,” McCoy murmurs, then gets down to the difficult task of trying to diagnose and treat himself with what feels like a head stuffed with dust and old rags.

Spock has a light grip on McCoy’s undamaged left wrist, checking his pulse. That it also allows him to skim the surface of McCoy’s mind as he struggles for coherent thought is unimportant. A list of medications stutters through his consciousness and Spock realizes that he has seen all of these in the well-supplied kit he found in the rear of the shuttle. Two painkillers are considered then regretfully dismissed before McCoy comes to the stumbling conclusion that Spock has done all that he can to stabilize him at this point.

“Nothin’ right now. I’m OK, go fly the shuttle.”

“Would it help if you were able to view the tricorder readings?”

“Of course it would damn well help,” McCoy rasps. His mouth and throat feel as if they have been tanned with acid but he cannot drink even a mouthful of water without knowing how badly his abdomen is injured. “But, seeing as how I’m blind just now, that isn’t likely, is it?”

He hears Spock give the tiniest sigh, an exasperated sound that would have had him grinning in triumph in other circumstances.

“Doctor, there may be a way. I require your permission for a mind meld.”

Curious. Spock had always thought that it was McCoy’s eyes that conveyed most of his emotional response (when his mouth wasn’t involved), but he had flushed the alkaline dust from the human’s eyes and covered them with moistened pads to prevent any further damage. Yet, without touching McCoy and without the man making a sound, Spock is able to clearly read his response to Spock’s suggestion. It is there in the tightening of his generous lips and the small lines that appear on each side of his nose. McCoy truly does not wish to do this, is rendered deeply uneasy, possibly even frightened by the implications of a mind meld. But his expression shifts again, a slight shadow deepening on his cheek as he makes the decision to allow it.

“Do it,” he grates out.

“I must tell you that it may not work. It is not a skill at which I am completely adept. And, of course, you are human.”

“Stop talking it to death and just do it, Spock.”

Spock wastes no more time. He doesn’t even bother with the mind mantra he had been taught as a child, believing it to be nothing more than a ritual formality from one telepath to another. His fingers spread across the human’s clammy face even as his other hand is holding the tricorder’s results up.

He closes his eyes as he enters McCoy’s thoughts actively. It is disorienting and he sinks into the colorful swirl of thoughts-emotions-data-memories that he had only brushed against earlier. There is a discordant throbbing underlying the whole that he recognizes as the pain McCoy is experiencing.

He reassesses the usefulness of the mind mantra he had eschewed; the formality might be closer to checking one’s harness before a jump. He will have to consider this later in meditation. Turning his mind to the task at hand, he gently reaches for McCoy’s consciousness to guide him to a calm inner space where the two can work together.

McCoy is strangely acquiescent and the task is far more easily accomplished than Spock had assumed it might be. McCoy is stubborn and argumentative and mainly negative in his social dealings. He had also frankly feared this very act, so there was no reason to believe that it might be this easy and yet, Spock moves through the human’s mind like a fish in water.

McCoy rests within Spock’s mental grasp, wondering, fearing what Spock might see and despise within him, yet completely and contrarily trusting in Spock himself. It is an intriguing paradox and Spock wishes he had more time to consider it. But the doctor’s condition, while stabilized, is far from good.

Spock opens his eyes and directs his gaze toward the tricorder’s readout. With a slight mental tug, he is able to direct McCoy’s attention to the visual data Spock is receiving. There is a moment of disorientation, then McCoy seems to catch his mental balance and is able to interpret what Spock sees through his own capacious medical knowledge and experience.

Here within McCoy’s mind, his thoughts flash by like lightning, blazing across the entire mental landscape. The physical pain McCoy’s body is experiencing registers here as a shrieking not-sound, sometimes louder, sometimes less striking. It is distasteful and Spock wonders if he can lessen it at all from his position within.

Meanwhile, the abdominal bleeding is assessed and, while worrisome, adjudged to be within control at this time due to the pressure bandage already applied to the ribs. The possibility of pneumothorax is noted and suggested emergency treatment concepts mist through Spock’s mind like spray thrown up by an errant ocean wave.

The tricorder’s report on the head injuries are of highest concern, and in this, McCoy behaves entirely as expected, leaving them to the last from sheer stubbornness. No, not obstinacy, Spock realizes; he is afraid of what he will learn. Absorbing the rest of the data is allowing him to brace himself emotionally for the possibilities inherent in his injuries.

It takes several moments for McCoy’s mind to interpret the medical information given and Spock cannot help but be washed by the flood of data and emotional reaction to it. He is fascinated by the parallel streams that McCoy’s mind seems to utilize – one stream is purely emotional in nature, hope, fear and resignation rising and ebbing with the information arriving. The other stream is coldly considering symptoms, damage, treatment options, possible therapies and long-term outcomes, circling back again and again to the data on the screen.

There is a vessel bleeding in the doctor’s brain. The swelling from the injury and the blood are placing pressure on the optic nerves, preventing visual data from being correctly interpreted. There is a 90% chance that, if that fluid is removed within five hours, his vision will return with little or no change. There are two hairline fractures to McCoy’s skull that concern him but the rush of relief at determining that there is currently no catastrophic damage to his sight has distracted him. After 1.7 seconds Spock firmly draws his attention back to the situation at hand.

McCoy chooses to speak aloud, although Spock has already understood.

“Nothing you can give me right now. Just get me back to the ship and I’ll be all right.”

/home/,

his mind-voice whispers longingly. Home is a place with no pain, where Jim is, where all that he loves awaits him and his care. He wants Spock there, too, safe and in a place of no pain, a place where McCoy can care for him. A place where he can occasionally day-dream about Spock caring for him, too, in his own undemonstrative way.

McCoy is exhausted; the pain and his injuries have sapped most of his strength and the unaccustomed mental exertions of the meld have taken the rest. It is quite easy for Spock to grasp at a wisp of McCoy’s complex emotional feelings for the Enterprise and her crew and his place among them

/home/

and draw it around the human’s consciousness just as he had wrapped his body in the blanket.

/Rest/

he instructs the wounded body and overwrought mind of his companion.

/The pain is distant and unimportant/
/When you wake, you will be home and safe/

/you/
McCoy sleepily queries, all the shades of meaning clear within their melded thoughts.

/I will be there with you-take you there-be safe-care for you until we arrive/

The burst of satisfaction this mental reassurance brings is like pushing his face into a warm fur on a cold night, as he used to do in childhood. There is still a note of longing, a pain that Spock’s mental command cannot banish even as the man slips into sleep.

Spock slowly removes his fingers from McCoy’s face and is somewhat surprised to find a frown on his own face. He finds that he has … reactions to the revelations of the doctor’s emotions toward him. While he would not claim an emotional response to the knowledge of McCoy’s feelings, his reactions are complex and he will require some time to examine and understand them before he can correctly identify and catalog them.

He places the tricorder on the floor beside the improvised bed, checks the straps holding McCoy in place, then rises and moves swiftly toward the front of the shuttle.

He has several hours of flight time in which to consider both the doctor’s feelings and his own options for responding to this new information. While he had not previously considered the doctor a candidate for an intimate companion, either as friend or lover, it is apparent that the human is more than capable of envisioning such a relationship with him. The sense of security, of trust that McCoy holds associated with Spock, that he had displayed unconsciously, was almost as intoxicating as his concern for Spock.

Waiting for the engines to come fully on-line and the pre-flight systems check to finish, Spock remembers the surprising complexity of the doctor’s mind, the gratifying ease with which he was welcomed within that mind and the odd sense of trepidation he had stumbled upon. That McCoy, brash, loud and self-assured, might fear any scorn Spock had to offer him was intriguing. Especially when compared to the courage the man had displayed when faced with controlling his own fear of blindness.

Spock looks back over his shoulder at his unconscious companion as his hands move to the controls. The doctor is sleeping soundly, a pained frown marring his otherwise pleasing features. Spock frowns again before turning back to the task of guiding the shuttle into the air.

It seems that he has a number of fascinating and puzzling elements to consider as he sorts out the parameters of this newly revealed situation. He will enjoy the challenge, he thinks, once he gets them both home.

If the word calls up any familiar sense of

/warmth-peace-no pain-love-care-McCoy/

within him, there is no one to comment upon it. Yet.