Actions

Work Header

Critical Factor

Chapter Text

“Damn…..” McCoy murmured under his breath as their alien shuttle made a hard, rocky landing on the surface. Mercifully, there was no smoke billowing out of anywhere yet. And oh, there was an annoying trickle of liquid along his right temple.

Great, he was injured. But for once, he was willing to simply be glad that he was alive. Having a flesh wound was definitely preferable to being made into Swiss cheese by a shuttle crash of such violent proportions.

“Spock, you okay?” he called out as he tried to clamber out of the top exit of the craft.

“Yes, doctor,” Spock said in a muffled voice. Obviously, he was pressed under something.

“Let me help you out,” McCoy said, taking a step closer to the Vulcan. But he stopped him.

“Doctor, you must divert your efforts to getting out of the craft,” he said.

Leonard shook his head. The hobgoblin was as stubborn as ever. Well, he definitely didn’t mind. He turned and tried to climb up the broken, jagged wall of the shuttle to get to the exit. It was difficult.

At the first try, he fell back spectacularly and shook the entire shuttle. He thought he heard a faint groan. But he couldn’t be certain.

“Unnnghh…” with sharper focus, he tried again. His back was already protesting. He was certainly not about to fall a second time. And after some huffing and puffing, he did manage to climb out.

“I can’t believe it,” he ground out as he took in his surroundings. Sure, Altamid was a class M planet, but what the hell, all rock and mountains with a suspiciously stormy sky, this place was not going to be easy to maneuver.

Besides, he was worried.

He and Spock had been thrown out of the ship in the midst of the gun battle. And Jim was probably still on it. McCoy could only hope that like always, the kid would come out on top even if by the skin of his teeth.

He couldn’t even begin thinking about the rest of the people on the ship. He was willing to bet anything that most people would have been ordered by the captain to leave the ship. But not Jim. It was surreal that it was only recently that they’d had a discussion about how he needed to start being Jim Kirk instead of his father.

Was history about to repeat itself? Was Jim destined to go down with the ship just like George Kirk had? He tried to halt his morbid, frantic thoughts as Spock finally stumbled out of the craft.

“About time…..” he told himself. But then his trained, clinical eye saw it. The large piece of metal sticking out of Spock’s bloodsoaked right side.

Fuck…. He didn’t need a clinical eye to see this. Spock was badly injured.

“God, Spock,” he gasped as he took in the younger man’s labored breathing, his usually impassive face scrunched up in absolute agony as if it was too much to suppress even for his Vulcan mind.

He rushed to Spock’s aid and helped him to the smoother part of the shuttle’s exterior.
“Sit up over here,” he said in a surprisingly gentle tone. “Easy, easy… okay, just try to relax, you will be okay…”

“The forced optimism in your voice suggests that you are trying to elicit a sense of calm in order to…..” Spock began through gritted teeth.

“Cut the horseshit,” McCoy interrupted him, less out of irritation but more out of his worry that even the minor effort of speaking would tire Spock out. And that wasn’t really an option in his current condition.

“Doctor, I fail to see how excrement of any kind bears relevance in our current situation….” Spock responded and tried to push himself to his feet once again. But the jarring pain forced a horrible, un-Vulcan shout of distress out of his lips.

“What the hell are you doing?” McCoy said angrily, pushing the commander back with his hand.” Hearing Spock’s sound of pain was a terrible, terrible thing to the doctor. He was used to Jim’s recklessness and the injuries that came with it. Seeing Spock so badly hurt was hard on his nerves, even more so because the injury was life-threatening and they had no idea if anyone other than themselves had survived or landed on this godforsaken space rock.

“We must keep moving, Doctor,” Spock said, pulling McCoy out of his reverie.

“Spock, this thing’s punctured your iliac region,” the older man grumbled.

“Time is a critical factor,” Spock said again though the rattling breath in his wheezing voice was enough to point that out. However, McCoy was sure that Spock’s reference to the time had nothing to do with his own precarious condition.

But he was not going to let the green-blooded robot forget that. Though, to be fair, the unhealthy flush to his paler-than-usual cheeks looked far more human (and fragile) than any robot ever could.

“That’s exactly what I’m trying to tell you,” McCoy said, frustrated with the situation. “Look if I can’t take this out, you’re gonna’ die. Okay? If I take it out and can’t stop the bleeding, you’re gonna’ die.”

“I can see no appeal in either option,” Spock said tiredly.

“Well, believe it or not, neither can I,” McCoy responded, tinkering with a side panel on the craft.

Spock took a moment before responding. Contrary to whatever was going through the doctor’s mind, he was no idiot. He knew better than even his companion that his injury was serious. But there was no point dwelling on it. They had no medical supplies and there was no point in slowing down for him because it was obvious that he would not make it without immediate intervention.

But the doctor was relatively unharmed. If he only had to worry about himself, he would probably find a way to survive.

“So, if I remember uh correctly… the uh Vulcans have their hearts uh… where humans have their livers,” McCoy was saying now, trying to power up an enemy phaser.

“That is correct, Doctor,” Spock answered, wondering if the CMO would be offended if he chose not to keep up the conversation. It was getting tougher and tougher to speak in a steady voice.

“That explains a thing or two… You know,” McCoy said, almost too casually. “you’re uh…lucky. An inch to the left and you’d be dead already. I just don’t get it, Spock. I mean what… what did they attack us for? I mean they do all this for some doo dad that the Teenaxi didn’t want?”

“It is unwise to trivialize that which one simply does not understand, Doctor,” Spock said, wondering what on Earth was the doctor pounding at. “We can safely assume it is more important than a doo dad,” he finished, irritated at his own weakness.

Unfazed, McCoy answered with his usual snarkiness, “I think you just managed to insult me twice, Spock,” he said, not taking his eyes of the piece of metal he was currently heating up with the broken phaser.

“Okay, Spock, what’s your favorite color?” he asked with a totally awkward nonchalance.

Spock’s surprise was reflected in his words.

“I fail to see the relevance…..AAAAARRRRRGGHHHH” Spock screamed loudly in absolute misery, as the doctor wrenched the metal shard out of his side and practically stabbed him again with the piece of metal he had just heated. A nasty smell of charring flesh filled the space between the two men. The Vulcan’s agonized howls resounded in the otherwise silent valley, drilling holes of terror and uncertainty through the good physician’s eardrums. But to his credit, he held it together admirably.

Panting slightly, he held up the shard of metal he had pulled out of Spock. “Yea… they say it hurts less if it’s a surprise.”
Spock, who was still swimming in a sea of pain could not respond with anything else but an equally sarcastic statement.

“If I may adopt a parlance with which you are familiar, I can confirm your theory to be… horseshit…” he choked out.

The doctor would have liked to respond to that, but suddenly, a mechanical buzz filled the otherwise quiet air. He would have also liked to give Spock a few more minutes to catch his breath after that ordeal, but that was not an option. Something was close and in all likelihood, it was hostile.

“We ‘ve got to get out of here,” he said decisively. Spock did not comment as McCoy pulled him to his feet. They had to keep moving and now that Spock was not in immediate danger of bleeding out or puncturing his heart, they could try and get to safety. The barbaric methods one only read about in bad novels, had bought them a fighting chance.

And while McCoy, the ultimate pessimist, was still worried, he refused to be the voice of pessimism in the absence of Jim Kirk. If the golden boy wasn’t here, then someone would have to fill his place for the sake of his wounded first officer.

-- Carmina

Chapter Text

The terrain on Altamid, especially around the site of their crash landing, wasn't as smooth and steady as McCoy would have liked.

He keeps a close eye on Spock as they move, making sure he doesn't stumble and he keeps an almost constant stream of conversation going, Spock only participating when it would be considered rude not to answer.
It seems like a waste of time, but McCoy knows that he can catch slurred speech or confusion quicker than it would take Spock to process and admit it, so he doesn't want to give him time to think, time to process. He wants him to be enduring, not suppressing.

They'd heard crafts in the distance, but nothing had come close to them, which was a relief.
They had put a little distance between the crash site and Spock had done well. Maybe a little more hunched over than normal as they walked, and he was leaning onto every available surface he could, but he had also naturally taken the point, leading the way and McCoy following behind.
He was grateful that Spock lead the way. He was certain Spock's navigational skills would be a lot sharper than his own and it gave him the chance to observe Spock as well.

“So you think there's life on this planet?” McCoy said. He was looking at his communicator, trying to ensure it was set to broadcast long range. Spock couldn't recall what had happened to his own communicator, or his phaser.
Considering the chaos of the ship, it was easy to assume that Spock had lost it before they'd left, but Spock's lack of clarity over it was worrying. He should have no problem recalling exactly what had happened.

“As the planet is able to support life, it is logical to assume that life does exist here. Therefore, we should proceed with caution.”

“Well, we can only be so cautious with you staggering all over the place,” McCoy muttered. If Spock heard him, he made no comment.

“It is just as well we still have the alien's phaser. It may be useful.”

“It's stopped you from bleeding to death. I'd say that was pretty useful.” McCoy replied. He wouldn't get into a debate with Spock about the ethics of weapons right now.
It was a war that had waged between them for a long time. They agreed on so much about the preciousness of life and the Vulcan race was known to be pacificist. But being in Starfleet didn't go well with that particular way of life, yet it was something that Spock would not be drawn into a debate about.
Whenever they had this particular argument, anytime McCoy went for the pacificist line, Spock shut down the argument and would not be drawn back in. Something about it touched a raw nerve, he guessed, but he never was able to delve any deeper into it.

“McCoy to Enterprise. Come in Enterprise.” There was no response and McCoy tried three more times before he put away the communicator. Spock was still struggling onwards and McCoy walked a little faster to close the gap between them.

Spock passed through an archway. It wasn't exactly a cave but there were some strangely shaped holes in the rocks that surrounded them, some areas were covered by rock, over lets in the brightness of the day.

“Shit,” McCoy said as he heard the sound of crafts. Thankfully, they were undercover when they flew over. “That was close,” he said to Spock who had taken to leaning against the rock. He'd been behind Spock so much that he hadn't seen his face in a while. He looked pale and his face was still pinched in pain. The exertion had obviously been too much as a light sheen of sweat was prominent across Spock's brow. “Let's rest here a while,” McCoy said.

“We don't have time to rest-”

“You need to rest. Look, as far as I'm concerned, the more determined you are to get up and go, the better, but when I say stop, I expect you to stop.”

Spock was about to protest but he closed his mouth and rested his head against the solid rock behind him. “It is wise to make sure the enemy craft has cleared the area,” Spock said.

Good enough, McCoy thought.

“We must put as much distance as possible between ourselves and the crashed vessel before nightfall, however.” Spock continued. “If a search on foot is carried out, we will easily be found.”

McCoy hadn't allowed that thought to fully blossom and having Spock say it aloud was making him confront it. Spock at full health would be a challenge for them, but walking around was a struggle for him. Besides that, the injury was obvious and one kick to the area could kill Spock.

Spock seemed to sense McCoy sombre mood and stood a little straighter. “Let us continue, Doctor. It will do us no good to remain here any longer.”

McCoy agreed reluctantly. “Let's just take it a little slower, okay?”

“I believe that is a wise suggestion, Doctor.”

-MisterSpock

Chapter Text

Even though he had asked Spock to take it easy, it was tough to actually get the boneheaded Vulcan to listen. Closer to the opening of a crevice in the otherwise solid, rocky terrain of the planet, they heard a sharp, buzzing sound.

To their absolute surprise, the sound was from bee-like creatures, indicating that the mountains were hollow inside.

“Fascinating,” Spock remarked. The awe in his voice masked his obvious discomfort.

McCoy could only roll his eyes. Of all the people he could have crashed with, it had to be the Vulcan on a death wish.

“Ominous, dark, dangerous,” he said, wondering if his passionate disapproval of what Spock was thinking would even be registered by the Vulcan.

Unfortunately, one look at Spock’s body language told the doctor everything he needed to know.

“Great…. We’re going in!” he grumbled.

With an exaggerated huff and another eye-roll, he followed the younger man into the thin, stony path around the crevice that would hopefully lead them to the other entrance of the cave.

The first few steps were easy. With an agility that belied his injury, Spock maintained a good pace for some time. Even McCoy had trouble keeping up with him.

And again, he had to warn him.

“That temporary fix won’t hold up, Spock,” he said sternly. “And we have no idea if or when we will get any help.”

“I am aware of that, Doctor,” Spock said. “Please focus your energies on ensuring our continued survival. The state of my health is unlikely to change as a result of your vocalizations of concern for me.”

Sufficiently miffed, McCoy decided to stay quiet and simply observe from that moment onwards. But that was also hard to do.

Nearly a mile into their trek, the climb started. While Spock had been doing well with the stony, brambly path, it was with the increasingly steep incline that his endurance was truly tested.

“Spock, we should stop for a little and rest,” McCoy said, taking in the wet, green stain spreading across the Vulcan’s shirt.

“No, doctor, we must keep moving,” Spock said yet again. It was unclear whether he wanted to get to the cave for safety purposes or simply to satisfy his curiosity over whatever had caused him to say “fascinating” at the bottom of the hill.

Just as McCoy opened his mouth to ask this question, a loud, metallic clanging filled the air for the second time that day.

“Hold on,” he whispered, becoming completely still. Taking his cue from him, Spock followed suit and halted his movements. A second later, the loud clanging stopped.

For a brief moment, the only sounds that pierced the tranquility of the atmosphere were those of their harsh breathing. No buzzing of insects, no chatter of forest critters, no crunch of dried vegetation and gravel….. Just two sets of breaths; one rapid and fearful, the other, labored and far too slow to be comforting.

Just then,  like bolt of lightning, green phaser fire tore through the stillness.

The first blast shook the ground barely two feet away from McCoy, almost making him lose his footing.

“AAAArrgghhh,” he shouted as he slipped and started to slide down the uneven, jagged mountainous path.

But with a panther-like swiftness, the Vulcan grabbed the older man’s wrist and pulled him up before he could slide any lower and out of his reach.

“Sshhhh,” Spock whispered through clenched teeth.

With an agonizing slowness, he and McCoy shuffled to the side, pressing themselves flat against a jagged curve, trying to shield themselves from the aircraft by hiding in the shadows of the rock formations above them.

Another phaser blast shattered a giant rock four feet below them. The shockwaves made their teeth rattle but admirably, they stayed silent.

It was clear to both of them that if multiple phaser blasts were fired on the mountain, they would be in a very sorry situation. Either they would die due to the blasts themselves or they would inevitably fall to their deaths with falling debris.

While they tried to focus their energies on keeping as still as they could, Spock’s sharp vision caught the direction of the alien craft’s external phaser bank. To his absolute horror, it was pointing right towards them. Even with a 5% margin of error, they would certainly get caught in the blast. If they wanted to survive, they had to do something now.

“Doctor, I need you to stay quiet and to trust me implicitly for the next ten minutes,” Spock said, steadying the alien phaser in his left hand.

“What are you going to do?” McCoy asked, his heart sinking at the determined expression on the first officer’s pale face.

“Leonard, trust me,” he said and shifted a few inches closer to the patch of light two feet away from their hiding spot. With his eyes constantly on the craft’s phaser bank, he lay flat on the ground and crawled towards the other edge of the dirt path.

“Spock, stop with this idiocy… you are completely exposed,” McCoy whispered, his heart beating so loudly as if it would burst out of the rib cage.

Spock didn’t respond.

He kept inching closer to the other edge. While he was still a few feet away from the shadows when a low, metallic screeching alerted Spock to the powering up of the phaser bank.

“Get out of there, Spock,” McCoy urged, ready to dash to the Vulcan’s aid.

“Stay where you are, doctor,” Spock ordered. He flattened himself against the ground and used the alien phaser to fire into the distance, making sure to keep the actual trajectory of the fire hidden behind the curved rocks between his position and the larger rock formations he was targeting. He needed to create a diversion at least 50 feet away from themselves without giving away the direction of the explosion’s causal agent.

It worked and a tiny explosion caused by Spock’s phaser fire sent up a mini cloud of dust and debris into the air.

After a few tense moments, to his great relief, the craft moved ahead, probably to inspect the blast more carefully.

But even then, they weren’t quite out of danger. This maneuver had opened up his already irritated injury even more. With a wet, little cough, Spock pushed himself into the shadows of the rocks opposite to McCoy’s position.

It took him a few minutes to catch his breath.

To his credit, the doctor stayed quiet and kept an eye on the movement of the craft which was still stationary above the site of Spock’s diversion.

Unsurprisingly, the craft extended its short-range phaser and pointed it towards what still remained of the giant rock, and fired three powerful shots in quick succession, creating thunderous pressure waves all around the valley. Spock’s head impacted with the protruding rock just above him as the ground shifted dangerously under them. He groaned in pain.

“Leonard,” he gasped. “Has the craft moved on?”

“No, Spock,” McCoy said, equally scared. “It is still there and I believe it is trying to figure out if whatever caused the explosion has moved its position or been destroyed by their firing.”

For several long moments, the two men stayed silent, waiting for the craft to move. Spock’s breathing grew increasingly shallow and McCoy’s worry for the commander started to show on his otherwise scowling face.

At long last, the alien craft moved on and Spock breathed a sigh of relief.

Without wasting a moment, McCoy scrambled to the injured man’s side.

“Jesus Christ, Spock,” He cursed. “You are bleeding again. We can’t go on any further.”

“We must keep moving,” Spock managed to say. The fading look in his eyes was enough to alert McCoy to his rapidly deteriorating condition. But even he had to admit, the odds were so bad that if they stopped for Spock to rest, they would either die of exposure or be killed by another patrolling craft.

Steeling his nerves, he helped the Vulcan to his feet. It was hard to ignore the man’s distressed whimper as his injury throbbed beneath his dirty and torn blue tunic. But he had no time to dwell on that.

They had to keep moving and get to the cave’s other entrance. And Spock needed to stay on his feet in order to do that. McCoy was normally not one for idle chatter unless he was actually enjoying it. And the green-blooded computer was hardly someone he could actually hold a conversation with. But if he needed to keep the man conscious, he would have to give him something to focus on. And because he could not sing to save his life, he began to talk.

“This terrain is so different from where I grew up, Spock,” he said. “This place is rocky, cold, miserable, and has all this amazing temperate greenery. But there is something lifeless about it, if you know what I mean. Now Georgia… that’s the place to be. Rows and rows of golden corn, fresh milk and cheese and cream from real cows, not some damn replicator. And dandy cowboy hats that are still fashionable. It was wonderful. I was meant to stay on Earth and practice somewhere in a small clinic in one of the tiny village towns of Georgia. But here I am with you and Jim, trekking through rock and mud, wondering if we’ll make it…..”

“And would that life have satisfied you?” Spock asked quietly.

McCoy was surprised that the Vulcan was actually listening.

“Well, yes,” he answered. “I mean, illness and suffering are illness and suffering. Though, I admit, professionally, I would have probably not been exposed to as many diseases and pathogens that I have seen during my period of service in Starfleet. But I think it would have been a tiny sacrifice for what I would have had. For one, I would have been able to fight for full custody of Joanna, my daughter. She is ten now. And like an idiot, I am here, in the backside of space, away from everything I want to give to her. You know something, Spock, as a young man, I never really realized the value of these relationships. But now, when all I see of Jo are holovids and pictures, I can never forgive myself for missing her formative years. She is passionate about gymnastics. Got selected last year for a competition for her school. And while her mother went with her new husband, I was here, wondering if my baby girl was mad at me for not being there…..”

Even though it was McCoy who kept up a constant stream of conversation going with almost no inputs from Spock, the uphill climb became easier to bear for both of them. The doctor’s gruff, familiar voice gave the Vulcan something other than the pain to focus on. And it allowed the older man to talk about things he had not even discussed with Jim.

“And Jocelyn won’t let her even stay with me for a few days…..” McCoy was saying when they finally entered a cavernous structure at the top of the hill.

“Intriguing, these symbols are the same as those depicted on the artifact taken in the attack,” Spock said when he saw the red writing on the textured walls of the cave.

“You think it came from here? The doctor asked, inspecting similar writing on the walls opposite to Spock.

“It would seem so…...” the younger man started, but suddenly, a sharp stab of pain shot through him, cutting him off mid-sentence.

“Aaaarghh,” a tortured scream ripped from his throat as he hit the ground hard.

“Dammit, Spock!” McCoy yelled as he rushed to the prone man’s aid. “Easy, easy,” he said gently as he rolled Spock onto his side. The Vulcan’s eyes were unfocused and his skin was deathly pale.

If help didn’t come soon, McCoy knew that the formidable first officer of the Enterprise would not make it.

--Carmina

Chapter Text

Spock fought against the overwhelming urge to close his eyes as blackness edged across his vision.

He closed his eyes briefly, tightly and took some calming breaths to steady himself.

Over him, he could hear McCoy trying to soothe him as he carefully moved his arms. Spock had instinctively moved his hand to his side as he was overcome with intense pain. McCoy moved it aside as he inspected Spock's wound. It bled a little, from the effort of diverting the craft, but Spock could have done a lot worse, considering, though McCoy certainly wasn't feeling lucky right now.

“Okay, just lie still for a bit,” McCoy said staying on his knees beside Spock.

It seemed the Vulcan was going to listen for once. He shivered involuntarily and McCoy couldn't help notice how pale he looked. His complexion was always a little 'off' to what McCoy would instinctively call healthy as he was so used to treating humans. But Spock's green copper based blood was partly the reason for his pale tone at the best of times. But right now, that paleness seemed almost sickly grey.
Spock's breathing had been laboured before but it was more controlled as he lay down, and McCoy suddenly realised that the reason Spock was so quiet and seemed so uncontrolled was that he was desperately trying to regain some composure.

“I wish we had been in one of our shuttles. I'd have had some supplies in there. A few basic medical supplies. Survival jacket. God knows you need that right now,” McCoy muttered, mostly to himself. He didn't need Spock to reply, he just wanted him to stay conscious, and as alert as possible.
He inspected Spock's wound again a little more carefully, trying to decide if he should attempt to stop the bleeding again. He'd prefer some sterile bandages right now, but he was out of luck and after observing the wound, he decided that the effort of finding more metal and pain it would cause Spock to stop a relatively small amount of blood loss was not worth it.

He wouldn't let himself think in terms of time. They didn't have enough of it, and they both knew that, so he'd have to stay focused on finding some of the crew. If he worked things out, estimated blood loss or the chance of an infection setting in, he'd be a dribbling mess and no use to anyone.
And he had to think about all possibilities. The chance that if they were rescued he might be the only one who could save Spock, that they may encounter other crew members who needed medical treatment. He needed to stay on his A game, and he needed to keep Spock in the best shape he could, so he could do what he needed to do.

“How long can Vulcan's go without water?” McCoy asked. It was partly to keep Spock talking to him and he wanted to make sure he was prepared.

“Water will not be an issue for me. You should concern yourself with a safe source of drinking water.”

“Just answer the question.” McCoy pressed.

“Doctor, the number of days it will take for water to be an issue is greater than the time it will take me to bleed out from my current injury. Water is not an issue.”

“Does Jim even like hanging out with you?”

“Why don't you simply ask him yourself. You have plenty of opportunities.”

“We don't spend as much time together as you seem to think we do.”

“I have no pre-conceived ideas about how much time you spend with the Captain.” Spock shifted slightly before attempting to sit up.

McCoy instantly tightened his grip on Spock and held him where he was. “What do you think you're doing?”

“I was attempting to sit up if you will remove your hands.”

“It'll be best if you stay still. Let your wound settle a little.”

“We do not have the time to waste.”

“Spock, just stop.”

“Doctor, have you considered that other members of the crew might need your medical assistance? The longer you remain here with me the more likely it is you could jeopardise other crewmembers.

“I said, stop,” McCoy repeated. “Look, if I'd seen a shuttle crash just over the next hill and I was sat here with you doing nothing, I'd be a dick. But I don't know where anyone else is. So you're my patient.”

“You should go and get some water, Doctor,” Spock said, giving up on the idea of sitting up.

“I don't like this sudden change in tactics. You going to try and run off while I'm gone?”

“You can not survive for long without water. And if the crew and ourselves are stranded here, they will rely on you to be able to give them care.”

“So will you,” McCoy corrected.

“Yes. Water, doctor. You should find some before it gets dark.”

McCoy sighs. He knows Spock's right but doesn't want to leave him alone and injured. “And what will you do when I'm gone?”

“If you will assist me, I will move over to the wall. I will be able to support myself from that position.”

“You need rest.”

“I will not move. But it is imperative I stay conscious why you are not present.”

McCoy helped Spock up and helped him until he was resting against the wall of the cave. "Don't leave this cave," McCoy warned him.

"I promise I will not leave this cave of my own accord, Doctor."

Chapter Text

McCoy was worried.

It was very odd that Spock had insisted on him going out and finding water. The Vulcan was getting sicker by the hour. That much was obvious. Delirium was sure to come next. And the good doctor wasn’t sure he wanted to see that side of the Vulcan.

“Water source…water source… damn,” He exclaimed under his breath, on realizing that he would have to cross the rocky terrain all over again. The idea of doing all that exertion wasn’t fun. But it was the thought of leaving Spock all alone in that cave that was eating away at him the most.

“All this vegetation, water must be nearby,” he said to himself as he walked a little further. Of course there was water back near the crash site but he had no intention of going there. For one, it was too exposed an area. Secondly, the leaking fuel from the aircraft would have contaminated the pool around the wreckage.

If he hadn’t been so worried, he would have taken the time to appreciate the natural beauty of Altamid. The rocks were all colored interestingly, in shades of steel grey, pristine white, and bronze. The vegetation on the other hand was colored brilliantly by shades of chartreuse and  cadmium, or at least that’s what Jocelyn what have called them. To him, it all looked green. Though some leaves did look distinctly like salsa verde. At that thought, his stomach growled loudly.

He was hungry. He was sure that even Spock would need some form of nutrition to keep his strength up. But with that dreadful wound in his side, there was no way of knowing if he would be able to eat anything.

Besides, he needed to complete his search as quickly as he could. It would get dark soon. He did not know what kind of creatures lurked in between the rocks and the brambles. In any case, he had no desire to find out.

For a man in his late thirties, McCoy was rather fit. He almost enjoyed his trek through the rocky paths but the niggling worry in the back of his mind kept him on edge.

At long last, he chanced upon a grassy little trail that seemed to lead towards a clearing. The lack of boulders in the distance and the smell of damp soil was promising. With a keen nose like a sniffer dog’s, the doctor sniffed the air just to make sure his exhausted mind wasn’t playing tricks on him.  

With a new spring in his step, he started following the trail.

A few minutes later, he reached the end of the trail. There was no water in sight yet but he could hear the gurgling of a stream somewhere nearby.

As a Starfleet officer, he had undergone the same survival training that all active personnel were required to undergo. But he had never thought he’d need it. Besides, with the brilliant idiot that Jim was, no survival training had ever done for him what the kid’s harebrained schemes often had.

Again, the errant thought crossed his mind that maybe Jim didn’t make it. Ruthlessly, he quashed it. This was no time to get blubbery over his best friend. But even the most professional part of him was starting to wonder if he and Spock were truly the only survivors. They had, after all, seen the capture of multiple escape pods in less than 30 seconds. He wasn’t sure what that meant. Had they been captured for information or blackmail? Or had they all been killed?

At the same time, if anyone could survive a carnage like that, it had to be James Tiberius Kirk, the kid who refused to believe in no-win scenarios. However, a little voice inside McCoy couldn’t help but wonder if this deep space mission had taken something of that gung-ho bravado away from Jim. Would the newfound maturity be George Kirk’s son’s undoing?

“What the actual fuck?”, He grumbled internally at the force of his own insecure ramblings. “I’m doing no good by being a sobbing idiot, but you hear me Jim…. Your hobgoblin’s gonna need you to come and get us soon. If you're dead, I'll make another serum, bring you back to life, then kill you myself all over again!”

He was furious with himself for all these doubts and questions. And… he was scared because to scream in frustration at plants and rocks was as dumb as it sounded. But he was in no mood for reason at this point. He had resolutely refused to think that Jim might not have made it. It had been relatively easy to hold that thought at bay in the first few hours after their crash. But now, almost a whole day had passed and they were no closer to locating any of the other crewmembers. Besides, like any other planet, Altamid was huge and without a functioning communicator, there was no way of knowing where anyone had landed and how far it was from their hideout. Fuck! Regardless of everything, this did seem like one of those terrible no-win scenarios. This was his fucking Kobayashi Maru. And the irony of it all… Of all the people he could have gotten stuck with, it was the injured Vulcan who had calmly lectured Jim about the inevitability of such a sacrifice all those years ago.

But if Spock were to actually die, it wouldn’t be a sacrifice at all. It would be a casualty. Nothing more. Nothing less. And there was no way in hell he was going to let Spock become a fucking statistic or worse, an unnamed corpse on this space rock of a planet. There wasn’t a damned thing he could do about Jim and any of the other crew members. But he still had a chance to save Spock's life.

Meanwhile, in the cave, the stores of optimism that the Enterprise crew relied on were dwindling. Spock was struggling to stay awake. Logically, he knew he needed to stay conscious. But the throbbing in his wound had gotten to an unmanageable level. He had tried to recall things from his memory to focus his thoughts on something other than the pain.

But the only thoughts he could truly focus on were of his mother.

And those…. Those, he never visited even when he had the full support of Vulcan mental disciplines and a healthy body. To be helpless against those memories while alone and in pain, while possibly dying—even Spock had his limits.

“Ko-Mekh..” he whispered brokenly, wondering for the first time, if a lost Katra could ever be found again. It was illogical. And it was heart wrenching. But the doctor had been gone for hours now. And Spock had no remedy nor distraction to shield himself from the agony that was coursing through him like lava.

Without meaning to, he allowed his mind to drift to images from his childhood. Amanda’s warm, honeyed voice humming a song, echoed in his ears as if she was still in the next room, folding freshly laundered clothes while humming absentmindedly.

He was an accomplished musician himself. Like his father, he had been taught the lyre as a child. But it been years since he had last played. It was too painful to pluck at the strings, knowing that the minor chords would never be harmonized by his mother’s melodious voice.

He had never even attempted to sing like her. But with the hum in his ears, he grieved for the lost opportunity. It bothered him greatly that he had never taken the time to really ask Amanda about the tunes she had hummed around the house but never to his lyre.

He breathed deeply, fighting to get a lungful of air in his slowly tightening thoracic cavity. True, his lungs and heart had been spared. But the blood loss was starting to cause problems. There was nearly not enough left for healthy circulation. He was stable for the moment. But he also knew that he was fast slipping.

In addition to the pain, there was a blurring darkness at the edge of his vision. And the sound of his mother’s voice was starting to fade away.

“No….” he whimpered as the darkness threatened to pull him under. But at this point, he wasn’t even sure what he was saying no to. Was he trying to hold on to the dying music? Or was he trying to pull himself away from the welcoming blackness that promised blessed relief?

“Weakling… ” The voice of Sefan, his childhood nemesis ghosted in his ears. With a start, he opened his eyes.

“Glad they are edible…” McCoy was saying. Spock hadn’t noticed the doctor enter.

“Did you just call me a weakling?” he asked softly.

“Of course not,” the older man said incredulously. But then, understanding washed over his eyes. “Vealtings, Spock… they are a kind of fake veal jerky they sell on all the star bases. I was just saying that I’m so hungry, I would even eat one of those even though they are as foul as any fake food can get.”

“I… I apologize,” the Vulcan said, his eyes downcast. “I must have misheard.”

“Don’t be sorry,” McCoy said in his usual gruff manner but there was an uncharacteristic softness to his words. “Happens to the best of us. Here, have some water,” he added as he raised the makeshift cup to Spock’s lips.

Spock looked gingerly at the tree bark and fiber canteen, wondering if it was clean enough to drink from.

“Beggars can’t be choosers,” the doctor said, clearly seeing the indecision on the younger man’s face. “It is either this or literally dying of thirst. Just drink it. I wouldn’t do this unless I was at least somewhat sure.”

“Your reasoning is sound,” Spock said. “I thank you for the water.” He tried to lift his right arm which had been bracing him to the ground, preventing him from toppling over to the side. His left arm was still curled protectively around his midsection. Even though neither of those actions had any real medical viability, he was far from such considerations by this point.

“No, Spock, it is okay,” McCoy said as Spock struggled to stay upright while also extending his arm to hold the cup.

“I can do it, doctor,” the Vulcan insisted in a strained whisper. But the CMO was not having it.

“This isn’t about a show of strength, you green-blooded computer,” he said. “If it is so important to you, I won’t breathe a word of this to anyone. You can count on doctor-patient confidentiality.”

Finally, Spock gave up trying and accepted the doctor’s help.

“That’s all I need for now,” he said only after two tiny sips. His breathing was raspy and there were tight lines of pain around his eyes.

“On a scale of one to ten, how much does it hurt?” McCoy asked worriedly.

“Seven… maybe eight,” Spock mumbled, closing his eyes.

This was bad. The doctor huffed in frustration. Clearly, the younger man was in worse shape than even a few hours before. Usually, Spock never admitted to his discomfort. The fact that he was even willing to assign an imprecise value to his levels of pain was a dangerous sign.

“They will find us soon,” McCoy said, hoping that even his exaggerated optimism would give the Vulcan something hopeful to focus on. “Don’t sleep. Let’s talk some.”

Spock only made a noncommittal grunt in response.

“Don’t feel like saying much? Okay, I’ll go first,” McCoy said. “It is really pretty out there. I mean, don’t get me wrong. It is still cold and nasty and well, alien… but there’s some colorful rocks that you would find interesting. And can you imagine, fancy berries and shit growing out from the crevices in between all the stone and mud. They looked tempting too. But I didn’t dare pick any. No way of knowing if they were poisonous…. Do you need more water?” he asked as he noticed that there was a tiny amount of sweat on Spock’s brow.

“No, doctor, I am adequate,” he answered listlessly.

“Okay….well, are you hungry?” McCoy asked.

“Did you not just say that you didn’t pick any of the berries fearing they might be poisonous?” Spock asked blankly.

“Er, yeah… but I do know how to identify edible fungi and like a good boy scout, I got us some of those,” McCoy said a little smugly. “But I am doctor, not a chef, so we’ll eat ‘em raw and if the taste is foul… let’s just say, I hope it is better than the vealtings.”

-- Carmina

Chapter Text

McCoy held out a small selection of mushrooms for Spock to take. “Here,”

“I am not in need of nourishment,” Spock stated flatly.

“What?” McCoy asked.

“Please, Doctor, there is nothing wrong with your hearing,” Spock says bluntly.

“You don't need food? When was the last time you ate?”

“Doctor-”

“No, fine, save the Vulcan metabolism stuff. I got it. You don't need food. Those two sips of water will keep you going, huh?”
McCoy got up and stalked across to the odd shaped central tower in the room. He sat down leaning back against it.
Spock irked him like no one else, especially when he wouldn't eat when his doctor damn well knew he needed the nourishment and if they'd been on the ship, he'd have either debated with him or left the room. Neither was an option so he opted for a little space.

“Doctor, I recommend that you not eat those,” Spock said. His voice sounded tired.

“Spock, I'm pretty certain these are safe.”

“We do not know the vegetation on this planet isn't toxic to humans. Even if it looks safe.”

McCoy's stomach growled at the food that was temptingly close. He couldn't risk it.
He put the mushrooms to one side and dusted his hands off. “You always have to be right, don't you?” he said with more spite than was necessary.
If he got sick, Spock would be helpless. While he'd moved a little under his own power, it hadn't gone unnoticed by McCoy how much he was having to rely on something to steady him. He doubted that Spock would be able to make much progress unaided when they got to morning.
He was frighteningly aware that come morning, Spock might be too sick to move at all. If that was the case, he'd have to choose between trying to encourage Spock to go on, or leaving him behind and trying to go for help. If he could get just one call through to someone else. He'd have to try and make higher ground, but he wasn't certain Spock would be able to do that.

He glanced up to check on Spock. He'd gone quiet but he was just sat where he'd been before, eyes taking in the surrounding of the cave. He probably thought it was noteworthy. McCoy thought that if Spock were in good health he'd be driving him crazy telling him boring facts about the rocks and what they might have used for the carvings. And McCoy thought, in that scenario, that he tells Spock he was boring him to tears and=-09wq that his brain was about to dribble out of his nose.
Instead, he got silence.
Spock didn't have the energy to converse and considering McCoy's last words to him, there was no reason Spock would want to speak to him. But Spock didn't hold a grudge. If he wasn't talking it wasn't because he was mad at McCoy, or hurt by his words, it was because there was nothing to say.
He probably couldn't study the carvings as he would want to, to make an analysis of them.

With Spock stable, for now, McCoy started thinking about this unique situation they were in. If they had managed to get into their own escape pod, then they'd have had survival suits and basic first aid. Spock needed much more than a basic first aid kit but he needed something. Something better than the barbaric treatment he'd received so far. The problem was, even with a first aid kit, unless it was specifically made for Spock, most of the standard items wouldn't be that much use.
He could think of half a dozen different hypos he could use for Jim or any of the human crew that would make Spock sick.
'You idiot', he thought to himself. 'You're planning how to try and make sure Spock doesn't get into a situation like this again instead of preventing it from happening in the first place,'. He sighed, wearily.
Would Jim ever forgive him if he couldn't save Spock?
He'd know he tried his best, but that wouldn't change the fact that Spock was gone.
His own hands were stained with red and green blood and he had that cliché line in his mind about how the blood wouldn't just wash away. He should have done more to make sure Spock was protected. He didn't even know that Spock had been injured until he'd climbed out of the craft and saw the blood.
What a damn mess this all was.

Spock made a strange throaty noise, it didn't sound exactly like a cry of pain, but it certainly wasn't a content sigh. “You okay?” he ventured anyway.

“I am adequate,” he stated. Spock mostly looked to be fine, but his brows were just drawn together enough to let McCoy know he wasn't okay as if the green stain on his shirt didn't tell him that already.
His breathing has eased up anyhow and he was clearly resting as comfortably as he could.

Outside the cave, the sun was beginning to disappear behind the mountains. The sky was darkening and McCoy suddenly realised that they had no light source. “I'm going to see if I can get us a small fire going. I won't be long.”

Spock nodded as McCoy headed out of the cave. He didn't need to travel far. There were piles of dried leaves in the nooks of the rocks, where the wind had trapped them. He grabbed as much as he could and made three return trips to get them enough to last through the night. He went back again and got some small rocks to contain a little fire pit. They had no idea how the temperature would be overnight and whether lighting a fire would frighten away any nocturnal creatures, or draw them in.
But McCoy knew above anything else that Spock was used to warmer climates and needed to be kept warm in his current condition.
McCoy had wanted to make it closer to the cave entrance, but there was still a steady wind blowing and he picked a more sheltered spot.
He quickly established the fire, and sat beside it, feeding a few of the dried leaves to keep it small and giving off a nice steady source of heat.

Spock groaned in pain, pitching sideways on the ground. The fire instantly forgotten, McCoy rushed beside him. “Come on,” he said, gently taking Spock's shoulder to roll him onto his back as he had done the first time he'd collapsed. This time, Spock grabbed his wrist and pushed him away with a surprisingly strong grip. He could see Spock's jaw clenched as he ground his teeth in pain.
Small gasps of pain emitted from him and he tried to steady his breathing, control the pain but he seemed to struggle to do anything to help. Spock had raised his legs, effectively curling himself up, an instinctive position when one was in pain.

McCoy felt utterly helpless. He was a doctor with no way to help a desperately injured man and any doctor would tell you, that was pretty much their worse case scenario.
Spock seemed to steady his breathing a little. It wasn't much better, but it wasn't as frantic as it had initially been. He was struggling.
“Let me help, Spock,” McCoy said.

“Doctor-”

“Just let me try.” McCoy decided Spock had nothing to lose. He could do nothing to ease Spock's pain, he could only offer him comfort, if Spock allowed him too. He moved round so that he was knelt beside Spock's head and gently lifted it up and lay his head on his thigh. “Got to feel better than cold rock, right?” McCoy said, trying to ease the stiff tension that emanated from Spock's pain ravaged body. He knew that Spock might not appreciate the move, but even through all that Vulcan logic, there was a human part who wanted to be comforted right now, whether he'd admit it or not.
Luckily for Spock, McCoy wasn't interested in Spock admitting anything right now. He just wanted the pain that was currently out of control within Spock to be eased.

“C'mon, I know you can control this.”

“I can not-”

“Of course you can.” McCoy encouraged. He grabbed one of Spock's wrists as he had both arms wrapped around his body. “You're too tense. Just trust me,” he said.

McCoy didn't realise, but there was a brief moment of skin to skin contact. Spock felt a rush of McCoy's emotions. Concern and fear were to be expected, but it was his belief that Jim had to be alive, that they would be reunited with the crew, that he would be able to keep Spock alive and that somehow, they'd get through all of this. Everything would be okay. McCoy truly believed it. Despite his pessimistic attitude in almost all situations, those grumblings he often made, he truly believed in the crew, in Jim. He even believed that somehow, Spock did have the strength to survive.

Bolstered by McCoy resolve, Spock took several deep breaths and forced his bodies tight muscles to relax. The pain in his side still throbbed, and an odd pressure inside himself was still there. He still felt weak and tired, but the pain became more manageable. He used his Vulcan control to repress some of the pain, to make it tolerable.
He breathed easier, his head nestled in McCoy's lap, the warmth the contact gave him, he found his eyes heavy and sleep came easily.

McCoy watched in fascination as Spock seemed to pull on some reserve of strength and his pained expression softened slightly. His tense rigid muscles relaxed and Spock's eyes slipped closed as his breathing evened out. McCoy barely dared to move an inch for at least five minutes, frightened he'd cause any discomfort.
Once Spock had made no movement for almost twenty minutes, McCoy gently and carefully, rolled Spock onto his back and lay him flat on the floor.

He needed to keep the fire lit. Needed to keep alert and ready to protect them both, should anything wander too close to them. And he couldn't do that from underneath Spock, no matter how much he wanted to give him that small comfort. Besides, Spock would only be embarrassed when he woke in such a situation.
He didn't acknowledge the coldness that lingered now Spock was no longer laid against him.

Chapter Text

McCoy was not really a religious man. And one couldn’t believe in a personal God after having seen so much of the galaxy. As the hobgoblin would say, it was not logical. But sometimes, he was envious of the people who had faith. Endless night vigils like these often became easier if one could dump their burden of worries on some higher power.

He watched Spock sleep. The man’s breathing was too shallow, the rise and fall of his chest was uneven, his brow was sweaty, his skin was cold… and then there was the sickly sweet coppery smell of a bleeding wound which would soon start getting infected.

The doctor swallowed roughly.

Spock was a fighter. But one could fight against one’s own body only for so long. They had still not managed to make contact with anyone from the ship. And they did not know if or when they would be found.

Even then, McCoy refused to let go of hope. He was older than both, Jim and Spock. Sure, he had been assigned to a real ship along with Jim and the rest of the senior year class. But he had been a doctor for more than a decade. Medical school had taught him to always begin prescriptions with the letters ‘Rx’ which in Latin, means “Take Thou,” recommending a patient to follow the treatment plan. However, his professor had always said that in addition to being a prescription-only symbol, the Rx was also the ancient symbol of Zeus, the Greek king of the Gods.

“We treat, he heals,” the old man had told every graduating class, making sure that they never forgot the limits of their abilities and the power of nature’s sometimes miraculous interventions.

Leonard McCoy would never let anyone call him a philosophical man. He was a gruff, practical country doctor whose first duty was towards his patients and whose only other talent was holding his liquor even as youngsters like Jim puked their guts out.

However, to be fair to the kid, Jim had not thrown up like that since the start of their five-year mission.

“Bonesy… You are the most adorable drunk I’ve ever seen,” he had said back in their second year at the academy after a long evening devoted to binge drinking.

“Bonesy…huh!” McCoy said to himself, smiling at the memory.

Needless to say, the terrible nickname had stayed around for a bit before dying a quiet death on its own. McCoy’s threats to lace Jim’s bourbon with Betapropol, a drug that would give him limp dick for weeks, also might have had something to do with said “quiet” death.

“Where are you, Jim?” he asked out loud, wondering again if help was on its way and soon this would all be over.

A few moments passed in silence. The doctor observed Spock’s sleeping form, marveling at how young the Vulcan looked while asleep. It was an endearing sight for McCoy’s eyes because somehow, the innocence of Spock’s face reminded him of his Joanna. For the first time, he realized that even though the commander was a brilliant scientist and officer, by Vulcan standards, he was still very young.

Just at that moment, a loud thud came from outside.

He almost jumped at the sound. But years of Starfleet training suppressed his natural instinct to panic.

A minute later, a strange scratching sound came from the same direction as the earlier noise.

Had they been on Earth, McCoy would have been inclined to say that it was nothing more than a cat. But on Altamid, they had no way of knowing what this was. He was reasonably sure that it wasn’t the enemy soldiers. They would have come in guns blazing. No, this scratching had to be some sort of animal.

However, was it a poisonous rodent? Or was it some kind of jungle cat? Could it be an alien form of hyena…? He shuddered to think about the possibilities.

“Spock…Spock,” he whispered to his sleeping companion.

“Mmmmm,” the Vulcan muttered something unintelligible without opening his eyes.

“Spock…there’s some kind of animal here,” the doctor whispered urgently. “Get up if you don’t want to be its midnight snack!”

The Vulcan didn’t respond.

A number of things happened just then.

The scratching sound stopped. And suddenly, the mud and foliage covering their cave was torn down by a large paw. Seconds later a dog-like creature barged in through the shredded brambles.

“AAAAArrrrrgghhhh” McCoy screamed loudly, terrified of the animal with the long canines. But to his utter shock, the animal’s eyes went wide and it growled even more loudly in a response to the doctor’s shout of fear.

“Doctor… What…” Spock’s voice came from behind. But before he could say anything more, the animal gave another frightened growl and dashed out of the cave.

For a long moment, no one said anything.

McCoy’s heart was beating so loudly, he could hear every individual beat in the fast, erratic pulse.

“Did you see that thing?” He asked Spock who was now awake and struggling to sit up.

“I.. I did,” the younger man said in a strained voice.

“Here, let me help,” McCoy said and placed his arm around the injured Vulcan’s shoulders. It took some doing but a few curse words and pained groans later, Spock was seated against the wall of the cave, panting slightly but alert.

“I am sorry you had to wake up like that,” the doctor said as he offered him some water. “No, drink it up. Medical orders.”

The young commander dutifully drank a few sips.

“Yeah… that’s good,” McCoy said before turning the conversation back to the creature they had just encountered. “So what do you think? What the hell was that? Some kind of saber-toothed wolf?”

“I believe you are referring to the extinct Terran creature, the saber-toothed tiger?” Spock said.

“No… No… this thing was definitely more of a large dog than a big cat,” McCoy murmured, still shaken up.

“Oddly enough, it reminded me of a pet I had as a young child,” Spock answered wistfully.

“You had a pet?” the older man’s tone reflected absolute disbelief.

“I did, Doctor,” the Vulcan said. “A pet sehlat named I-Chaya. He was a gentle, harmless canine with fangs not unlike those of this creature.”

“What happened to it?” McCoy asked, sensing that the ending of the story was probably sad.

“It died trying to protect me from a wild le-matya,” Spock said blankly. But the physician had spent enough time around Spock to know when he was actually unaffected and when he was actively suppressing. If the tightly controlled tremors in his voice were any indication, then Spock had never gotten over the death of his furry friend.

“You miss him,” McCoy said softly.

“Missing someone who has passed on is illogical,” Spock answered but the doctor could tell that it was half-hearted.

“Missing someone you love will not make you less Vulcan,” he said gently, wondering if there were other wounds that the first officer was hiding in his supposedly granite Vulcan heart. He already knew that Spock had not taken the time to grieve his mother’s passing even after all these years. “What was your childhood like?” he asked, not sure if Spock would even answer that question.

To his great surprise, he did.

“A Vulcan childhood is very different from a human one, Doctor,” he said. “While human children’s earliest memories are filled with songs, nonsensical rhymes, fantastic tales, and mythical creatures, Vulcan children’s minds are offered comfort in the form of steady, unshakable logic.”

“That sounds cozy,” McCoy interjected sarcastically.

“I do not expect you to fully comprehend this because you are human,” Spock continued. “However, a Vulcan child needs the anchor of logic from the very beginning in order to lead a successful life. We share telepathic bonds with our parents, siblings, close relatives, and our betrothed. To share one’s most intimate thoughts with one’s kin, the mind must be quiet and rational, free from the volatility of emotions. Otherwise, the strain on everyone’s minds would be great. Humans are psi-null. They cannot grasp what such stress can do to the mind.”

“I get that, but I asked you about your childhood,” the doctor reminded him.

“My childhood was spent in the study of Vulcan mind disciplines and the acquisition of material and scientific knowledge,” Spock said tonelessly.

“Yeah, you went to school and to some hipster yoga camp, but those are just facts,” McCoy insisted. He had the feeling that the Vulcan was trying to hide something. Withdraw and play dumb was a favorite trick of the guy when he wanted to avoid a conversation. “What was your childhood really like… I mean what did you do outside of school with your friends? What sort of games did you play? What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?”

Spock blinked at him owlishly, wondering if the CMO indeed wanted to know such irrelevant details of his life.

“You are attempting to make what humans call ‘small talk’ with me,” he said.

“No, Spock, I genuinely want to know… Geez, why is that so hard to believe?” McCoy asked, irritated that trying to get Spock to talk was like trying to pull teeth with a baby rattle.

“Very well…” Spock said, still not fully convinced. “I doubt you would find the details of my childhood engaging. But since we are not otherwise occupied at this moment, perhaps there is no harm in telling you. Outside of the time spent at the learning center, I studied the ancient Vulcan martial art, Suus Mahna, under my father’s tutelage. He also taught me to play the Vulcan lyre. And sometimes… I… I read my mother’s old books from Earth.”

“What kind of books? McCoy asked. “I bet they were all titles like Plato’s Republic and Darwin’s Origin of the Species.”

“I did read those titles, but my mother’s library was rather vast and well-stocked with books on a multitude of topics,” Spock answered.” It might come as a surprise to you but I was rather fond of the works of Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde. While On the Origin of Species remains one of my favorite works, I find myself re-reading Dickens' David Copperfield every few years.”

“Wow, kid, I never thought you’d be a literature nerd,” the older man remarked, amused and glad to know that Spock was in fact not as much of a computer as he often thought he was.

“What about friends? What were your friends like?” McCoy asked, enjoying this insight into the Vulcan’s mind.

For several moments, Spock didn’t say anything.

“We should conserve our energy, Doctor,” he said, at last, his voice once again blank and impassive. “Daybreak is 3.2 hours away. It would be wise to rest while we can. We must not forget that this planet is hostile and we must be prepared for any eventuality at all times.”

“Hey, Spock, you can’t just” McCoy started… But the Vulcan had already closed his eyes again.

--Carmina

Chapter Text

He hadn't slept at all.

Maybe he'd dozed lightly. But with his concern about how they'd get out of this mess coupled with his deep concern over Spock's health meant sleep wasn't his top priority.

He looked across at the Vulcan who had fallen back to sleep not long after he last woke, sitting up and leaning against the wall of the cave.
Not the most comfortable way to sleep, but he needed all the energy he could get.

It was light enough outside that they needed to start thinking about moving on. The cave gave them shelter but that didn't help them finding anyone else. At this point, McCoy would be happy to bump into anyone from their crew, just to know someone made it.

“Spock? C'mon, we should get moving,” he said. He'd never woke Spock up before. Even on the rare occasion, he'd been in sickbay, Spock was always awake it seemed. He imagined that waking him would be easy, but when he looked across, Spock hadn't moved an inch, his face still slack and relaxed.
“Spock?” He tried again to receive the same lack of reaction.
Panic flared in him. Maybe something was wrong? Maybe Spock wouldn't wake up. He forced himself to stay as calm as possible. Skin to skin contact wasn't something that he'd normally do but he knew that it was invasive to the Vulcan mind and right now, he needed something to jolt Spock out of whatever he was in.

“Spock?” He tried again before placing both hands on either side of Sock's face. “Spock, wake up dammit!”

It had the desired effect as Spock opened his eyes. McCoy was just in front of him, staring intently at his face. Spock's eyes were unfocused, simply staring at the man in front of him. The fear from before sparked again, And McCoy started to check Spock for any signs that he might be in a more precarious state than he's already considered.
As McCoy lowered his head to check, Spock's eyes followed him down, a good sign and there was a crease of concern now prevalent on Spock's brow. The recognition was back in his eyes and McCoy felt Spock's firm grip on his left arm pushing his hand away from Spock's face.

“I am entirely conscious, Doctor.” Spock started.

McCoy let his other hand slowly slip from the warm Vulcan skin, breaking any contact he made with the injured Vulcan. He couldn't keep the frown from his face as Spock continued speaking. At least he was coherent, even if McCoy didn't believe a word he said about how entirely conscious he had been.

“I was simply contemplating the nature of mortality.”

McCoy let it go. “Feeling philosophical, huh?” he said as he sat back down beside the Vulcan. He looked at his hands. The blood that was dried on them was going nowhere, but he could brush away the debris and dirt from the floor. “Massive blood loss will do that to ya.” He let out a deep sigh. He'd been worried. As worried as when he'd first seen the injury, but there was something different. Instinct kicked in then and he had no time to think, he just reacted. Now, all he could do was think. He could do so little to help Spock and he was clearly in so much pain that it hurt McCoy to think about it. Not just as a doctor, but as a friend too.
Tiredness seemed to sneak up on him suddenly and he wished he had time to sleep. They could afford a little more time before they had to leave. And it might help Spock if he wasn't freshly out of sleep before they moved on.

“You asked me why Lieutenant Uhura and I Parted ways,” Spock began. McCoy hadn't expected conversation. Spock wasn't really the conversational type, especially as he'd started talking about his relationship with Uhura. He lifted his head. He didn't want to discourage Spock from speaking by seeming uninterested or too tired to listen, although, it didn't seem to stop Spock from starting.
“I became concerned in the light of Vulcan's demise that I owed a debt of duty to my species.”

Well that made sense. And Spock isn't the type to rush into things. It seemed about right after all this time, Spock would come to that conclusion now. “You thought you should be off making little Vulcan's huh?” McCoy clarified, though not needing or expecting a response. “Yeah, I can see how that'd upset her.”

“I intended to discuss it with her further but I received some news that affected me unexpectedly.”

McCoy turned towards Spock at that. He didn't look at him, but it caught his attention. With Spock, he didn;t always say things the way a human would but the term he used was troubling. 'Affected him unexpectedly' seemed very worrying. He turned a little more towards Spock before looking at him. “What news?” he asked. If Spock wanted to mention it, he clearly wanted to talk about it.
He was surprised by how subdued Spock seemed.

It took a moment before Spock said anything. “Ambassador Spock has died.” he eventually admitted. Spock had turned to look at him and McCoy can't help but turn to look at the younger man surprised by the confession made. He made eye contact briefly but there's something about the way Spock is looking at him expectantly, awaiting what he's about to say, and McCoy has to look away. He can feel Spock's emotions and he doesn't want to see them as well.

“Oh,” is the first word that comes out of his mouth. “Spock I'm so sorry,” he says. It's not deep and comforting but then no words could be enough right now. He risks looking to the Vulcan and Spock is looking down. Maybe to avoid eye contact. He goes further by moving his head away, so McCoy can only see half of his face. Silence between them is brief before McCoy continues.
“I can't imagine what that must feel like.” He says. Because this isn't something that can be compared to anything else he's known. Finding out a different version of you has just died is weird and McCoy didn't know what he feels like if another version of himself had died. McCoy's eyes drift away from Spock as he speaks, but when Spock's silence drags on longer than he expects he see's something he didn't want to see.
Spock struggling.

Spock is holding back an emotional response. He can see it in every fibre of his being and McCoy's heart hurts at the emotion he can see. The muscles around Spock's mouth are twitching with the effort to stay passive looking, he was still trying to be Vulcan about it as he stares at some point on the ground in front of him. Spock draws in a deep, unsteady breath that tells McCoy how emotional Spock is without him having to say a word. The breath was an attempt to steady his overruling emotions, McCoy realises as Spock still says nothing. His head is raised though, as he remains looking blankly ahead but in his eyes, there are unshed tears. He looks away, hearing Spock breathing out, controlling as best he can. If those tears fall, he doesn't want to see them.

“When you've lived as many lives as he, fear of death is illogical.” Spock says. His voice is fraught with emotion and McCoy wishes he didn't hear it so plainly.

He doesn't really think about how to respond. It's natural, instinctive. “Fear of death is what keeps us alive.” And he believes it and he wants Spock to believe it. He wants Spock to be scared to die, not to embrace it as anything else would be illogical.
McCoy watches to see how Spock takes it. He doesn't argue the point and that's something. “I want to live as he did.” he starts, resuming eye contact with McCoy. “That is why I have decided to redirect my efforts and continue his work on New Vulcan.”

McCoy hadn't expected that. Because this was different to just wanting to help repopulate the planet. He could understand that. This was bigger, this would affect everything. And it seemed as though Spock had already made the decision. “You're leaving Starfleet?” Spock looks at him, briefly, and there must have been something in McCoy's tone or the look on his face because Spock looks away, face glum again.
“Well, what did Jim have to say about that?” He presses. He's already assumed that Spock hasn't talked to Jim about it, but it's a different thing admitting that aloud.

Spock shakes his head a little, looks almost regretful before saying “I could not find the time to tell him.” McCoy guesses he's imagining it, but Spock almost seems to be smiling, like the idea of not being able to tell Jim was ridiculous in itself.

“Well, I can tell you he's not going to like that. Hell, I don't know what he'd do without you.” McCoy says. If he'd been observing Spock right then, he'd have noticed that Spock could barely keep his eyes open. His struggle against pain a losing battle. “You know, me on the other hand, I'd throw a party.” He finishes.

He hears a sigh escape from Spock and he glances across to see a genuine smile gracing Spock's features.
McCoy can't help but smile too. The whole thing seems just crazy. He thinks about telling Jim all about this when a strange sound draws him back to Spock. The smile is bigger, teeth flashing through the smile as Spock's head gently tilts back in laughter. And McCoy can feel his own smile drain from his face with the realisation. “My God, you're getting delirious,” he says, as the back of Spock's head touches the wall and those bright teeth shine out from Spock's parted lips.
He can't believe a smile can look so wrong.
“Spock? Hey listen to me dammit,” McCoy says. Spock's head is still resting against the cave wall, his face still contorted into a smile and a deep chuckle escaping now and then. “We have to get out of here.”
Spock doesn't answer so he presses on, urgency creeping up on him again.
“Maybe you can't move,” McCoy mutters more to himself and starts thinking of what his next move should be. He moves over to the cave entrance and takes in their surroundings. There are a few peaks in the mountains, if he attempted to get to the highest ground he could, the chance of reaching any survivors would be greater. He'd have to leave Spock behind but if he left him the weapon, he wouldn't be defenceless.
He turned back to Spock, ready to tell him his plan. To his surprise, Spock looked the picture of his normal self. At least beside from the gaping bloody hole in his uniform.

“I apologise if anything I said was out of turn Doctor. You are correct, I am not myself. Please forgive any transgressions I may have.”

McCoy quickly moves back over beside the injured Vulcan. “You ready to travel?” he says.

Spock nods. He braces his hands against the ground and McCoy loops an arm underneath Spock's armpit, hoisting him up as much as he can. In a position like this, McCoy feels Spock's true heaviness and knows that there isn't a chance that if Spock couldn't get up with his own strength, McCoy wouldn't have a chance of moving him even slightly.
Unsteady on his feet now vertical, McCoy grabs Spock's arm and wraps it around his shoulders, taking some of the burdens of weight and give Spock the much-needed support he'd require to make any sort of progress. McCoy keeps one hand wrapped around Spock's waist and doesn't let go of Spock's wrist.
He's all to aware that it means Spock's injured side will be against him and he'll have to ensure he doesn't knock against Spock in order not to bring on any pain, but if he was to move around the other side, the injured side would be more open to any thing they may come across. Predators or enemies. At least this way, he's between Spock and anyone else getting to his injury. “Come on let's go,” McCoy says, directing them both towards the exit.

Spock doesn't move and despite being injured, if Spock doesn't move there's not a lot Mccoy can do to force him. “The weapon,” Spock says.

“Spock, I have no free hands. I can't take it and God knows I don't really want too. It's not like I'm going to use it.”

“Then I shall carry it,” Spock insists.

“The last thing you should be doing is getting into a fire fight.”

“Sometimes it is enough to distract or frighten, Doctor. I do not intend to kill or injure.”

McCoy relents, mostly because they don't have time to argue about it and he's also slightly terrified of Spock going into another delirious spell. “Fine fine,” he says struggling over to the weapon and wondering how he's going to balance Spock while he retrieves it. Spock makes it easier by releasing his grip and standing unaided. “I may not move well without assistance, Doctor, but I can stand.”

“You're reading my thoughts?” McCoy asks. He doesn't know a lot about Vulcan's but he knows that readings others minds without permission isn't a done thing.

Spock looks suitably distressed at the realisation of what he's done and shakes his head, not in denial but as though he is trying to clear it. “I apologise. I-”

“It's okay. I know you don't mean to. Just try and stay out of there. My thoughts aren't always pure and good, okay? I don't need you judging me.”

“If you can reserve judgement on my own behaviour currently Doctor, I will promise to do the same.”

McCoy smiles despite it all. “Let's get going.”

Chapter Text

“McCoy and Spock to Enterprise crew… come in, Enterprise… anyone?” The doctor had always projected himself as a realist but damn, right now, he would give an arm and a leg for a miracle.

It did not help that Spock had worsened in the early hours of the morning. Normally, in a situation like this, he would take charge and actively work towards a solution. But right now, he was sitting slumped against a rock, unable to do much of anything.

McCoy took the injured first officer’s arm and placed it around his own neck. Then, he helped him to his feet. Even the little bit of effort this action required, left Spock drained and shaking.

“C’mon, Spock,” he said. “C’mon, Spock. You can make it.”

Spock stumbled on his feet as he struggled to stay steady.

“Leaving me behind will significantly increase your chances of survival,” he said as the jarring pain in his side flared up again due to the sudden movement. As a Vulcan, he was capable of assessing the condition and prognosis of his injuries accurately. And this time, it was simply not in his favor. At this rate of deterioration, he was 89.4% sure that he would not make it.

Besides, they were still in hostile territory and needless to say, he was slowing the doctor down.

“Well, that’s damn chivalrous of you, but completely out of the question,” McCoy said.

Truth be told, Spock had not expected a different response from the CMO but he still had to try his best to make the man see logic.

“It is imperative that you locate any surviving crew,” he said, wondering if this argument would convince him.

Well, he was wrong again. McCoy would not budge. And certainly not based on anything that Spock had to say based on logic.

“Here I was thinking you cared….” The older man started to say, but he had to stop mid-sentence. Alien ships had appeared out of nowhere and surrounded them.

It seemed like today was just not their day.

But for Spock, who had seen death lurking around the corner for more than a day now, it was no surprise. However, it bothered him that McCoy did not know that he cared.

“Of course I care, Leonard,” he said. His use of the doctor’s first name was telling. “I always assumed my respect for you was clear. The dialogue we have had across the years has always…”

Well, that was rather sentimental, coming from the hobgoblin, thought McCoy. But it also sounded so very wrong. Besides, surrounded by alien ships that could fire any minute—nah, it felt too much like a farewell speech. And McCoy did not do goodbyes.

“It’s okay, Spock,” he said gruffly. “You don’t have to say it. Well, at least I won’t have to die alone…”

But just as he assumed a fighting stance, he felt something warm behind him. And when he looked to see, Spock had disappeared.

“Well, that’s just typical,” he ground out. “C’mon you bast…”

However, like numerous times in the past, he was completely unprepared for the golden shimmers that engulfed him a moment later.

“Good to see you in one piece, doctor,”

And there was the Scottish brogue that he had almost never expected to hear again. At this moment, this had to be the most beautiful sound he had ever heard in his life.

But McCoy was McCoy. And all he could comment on was how transporters made him feel. Now that he thought about it, the surging relief had come with the most peculiar sensation ever. And he was not afraid to say it.

“Oh, am I?” he said acerbically. “I feel like my innards have been to a barn dance.”

Scotty could also see that he was more bark than bite. The physician was obviously glad to be back. And if anything, his brusque sense of humor was proof of it.

“Aye, well these old transporters were only ever used for cargo, but a few modifications seemed to do the trick,” Scotty said. “I thought it was best to beam you one at a time though, in case you got… spliced.”

Right. It still annoyed McCoy that Scotty could talk about people getting spliced like he was talking about the weather.

“Ah… couldn’t imagine a worse scenario,” he said, unsure if he should even attempt to verbally spar with the chief engineer at a time like this. Besides, his favorite adversary was anyway Spock.

Speaking of whom, the man looked like hell. Right now, he was hunched over next to Kirk who was grinning like Christmas had come early. Despite his obvious worry, he was clearly glad to have found him and Spock.

“Good to have you back,” Kirk said. “You alright?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” McCoy answered. “He’s hurt,” he added, nodding towards Spock.

“I am functioning adequately, Captain,” Spock chipped in as if they were merely discussing a sprained ankle instead of a giant stab wound.

“In a pig’s eye you are,” McCoy said, his irritation with Spock getting the better of him again. He had not meant to be this curt. But the Vulcan could really annoy him!

And at this moment, he was also ignoring him.

“Captain, we have discovered that the stolen artifact appears to have come from this plan… AAAH!”

Before he could complete, his legs gave out and he would have fallen gracelessly to the floor but McCoy broke his fall.

“Dammit, Spock,” he cursed. “Are there any medical supplies on this ship?” he asked to no one in particular.

But the strange alien women with the chalk white skin and black markings answered immediately.

“This way,” she said and motioned them to follow her. Without a word, they propped Spock between them and made their way towards the door.

XXXXX

The old junk that Jaylah (he now knew her name. Scotty definitely had a thing for her) had brought him was largely useless. This technology was ancient. McCoy was proud of his prowess as a physician. But even he couldn’t do magic without a wand.

And while he was trying to find one useful piece of metal in that box of scrap, Kirk was finally voicing his fears out to his first officer. With the brief bonhomie of reunion now dissipated, the reality of the situation was stark. Everything seemed so bleak that even Jim with his limitless supply of craziness looked dejected and full of self-doubt.

“Alright, lie down, c’mon…,” he was saying to Spock while helping him place his head on a makeshift pillow made out of a folded towel. “There you go. How’re we gonna get out of this one, Spock? We got no ship, no crew. Not the best odds.”

McCoy tensed.

Sure, he was never exactly Mr. Sunshine and Daisies. But compared to Spock, he was the very soul of tactfulness. Jim did not need to hear that the odds of them not making it were 99% or some such bullshit, even if that was true.

But he had asked the hobgoblin. There would be no response other than this.

“We will do what we have always done, Jim,” Spock said in an strained but assertive tone .

McCoy looked up, surprised at that statement.

“We will find hope… in the impossible,” the Vulcan finished saying.

Okay, now it was official. Spock was definitely NOT himself.

“Well, let’s get you patched up first, okay?” Kirk said, trying to inject optimism into his voice.

But Spock had other ideas.

“Captain, you must focus your efforts on helping the crew,” he said, still thinking as the second-in-command of the Enterprise. Well, there was a reason why Kirk and Spock were seen as the best command team the fleet had seen in many, many years. It was this devotion to duty, to each other, and to the crew that made them so unstoppable.

Sometimes, McCoy wondered if they did indeed attract miracles. Somehow, it was easier to believe that everything would be alright now that Spock and Kirk were working together again.

“Well, that’s why I need you around, Spock,” Kirk said gently.

McCoy looked at Spock, communicating something with his eyes. Spock understood and braced himself. And while Jim saw the whole exchange, he seemed thoroughly confused. But there was no time for explanations.

“These things are from the dark ages,” the physician said as he rolled up the Vulcan officer’s shirt slightly to make sure he had at least some things in the junk to treat the patient with. The ugly wound was still seeping blood and infection was starting to set in around the cauterization site. The unexpected cool air against the injury caused Spock to gasp. His discomfort was obvious but there was no way to avoid the further barbaric treatment he was about to receive.

“Bones…” Kirk started to say something, not liking the look of the device in McCoy’s hands at all. But the doctor cut him off. Spock’s pained moans were agony to both men’s ears. But while Kirk could afford to give in to his worry, McCoy had a job to do.

“I’m pretty sure this is a protoplaser,” he said, looking over the device once more to make sure he was holding it correctly. “Should stop the internal hemorrhaging… at least that’s my hope.”

He lifted Spock’s shirt and switched on the ancient device.

“The miserable have no other medicine, but only hope,” Spock said, too far gone to protest or say anything particularly insightful.

Kirk looked extremely concerned. But McCoy had had enough time with Spock to not be shocked. If anything, he was only morbidly fascinated by how much this whole ordeal had told him about Spock. Well, the man was still a hobgoblin. But maybe "green-blooded computer" was not an appropriate nickname anymore.

“Death’s door and he’s quoting Shakespeare,” he said, trying to lighten the atmosphere. The protoplaser was about to touch Spock’s skin. And while there was no way they would be able to drown out the inevitable screams that would come with the application of uncalibrated high-heat laser to lacerated flesh, maybe, it would save Spock’s life and it all would be worth it.

--Carmina

Chapter Text

Things had improved greatly once Spock and McCoy had made it to the Franklin.

A plan quickly formulated leading to the rescue of the crew and they, together, defeated Krall.
It hadn't been easy, but it was done.
They'd lost numerous crew members along the way and the Enterprise herself. But ships could be rebuilt, the lives ruined by the death toll could not be so easily fixed. Spock knew of that burden only too well.

Spock's recovery had gone well. Being at a medical facility and getting real treatment was very beneficial. He was able to leave the medical facility after a two-day stay. He would remain very inactive, due to the fact that the whole crew was grounded on Yorktown until they had a ship. Spock had already considered requesting to assist in some way. There must be a role he could fill while recovering.

Then something changed. Spock had been in a communal dining area at the housing area Starfleet had provided them with. They had been split over six different buildings as there had been so many of the crew to accommodate, but everyone had somewhere to go.
Spock had been enjoying a light broth. Some of the other scientists from his department had joined him and were enjoying conversation. Spock would partake if he felt the need to, but mostly, he just listened. The crew who knew him well didn't expect him to participate.
And then suddenly, the sound of the chatter on the table lessened as he was drawn inwards. The whole noise of the room drowned out to be barely noticeable as he suddenly experienced a shortness of breath. He was able to maintain his composure and despite not being able to draw in a substantial breath, he did not allow it to show outwardly. He politely excused himself from the table and took his bowl to the disposal area before leaving the dining area.

The feeling of shortness of breath had not lessened since he'd left the room, and he was certain if he took the time to take real notice of other symptoms that might be present and that he'd blocked as insignificant, he'd have a better understanding of what was wrong.
His initial response was to go to the medical facility to seek assistance, but perhaps he was being hasty. He decided he could afford some time to assess the situation and see if he improved without any medical involvement. He'd had quite enough of that recently.

And that was how it started.
He hadn't really meant to dismiss it, but the shortness of breath did ease, though it didn't altogether go away and Spock's Vulcan physiology just allowed him to compensate and ignore it. As the completion of the Enterprise grew nearer, he became busier and tolls on his body were more often overlooked, rather than analyzed and by the time he took stock of his physical condition again after having a more severe bout of breathlessness, they were already back in deep space.
It was waking up in his quarters in the middle of the floor from having passed out that made him realize He needed to go and seek out McCoy's help.
Before he did anything, even gathering himself off of the floor, he truly allowed himself to acknowledge the ailments that plagued him.

Besides the breathing issues, and apparently fainting, he was aware of an irregular heartbeat and some lightheadedness. He careful stood, feeling a little dizzy as he got to his feet before he made his way to the bathroom. He quickly made sure his appearance was appropriate before he used the computer to locate Doctor McCoy's location.
Currently alone in his office, Spock was relieved he'd be able to easily speak to the doctor without drawing any attention to himself. When Spock reached McCoy's office, he waited for the Doctor to call him through. He took two steps inside the door before a wave of dizziness halted his progress.

McCoy was looking at a PADD on his desk and didn't notice Spock's halting steps. “What's up, Spock?” he asked, not sparing a glance upwards.

Spock felt like he'd made a mistake. The doctor was clearly too busy currently to be interrupted, but he would rather see McCoy than one of the other doctors on board.
He knew the doctor was not being difficult on purpose, he was just busy. That combined with the fact that Spock knew himself he had left this for far too long already pushed him to stay and talk to the doctor. “I am having an issue drawing adequate breaths, doctor,” Spock said.

The PADD was discarded almost immediately. “Well for God sake, don't just stand there, sit down,” McCoy exclaimed.
Spock complied while McCoy got out a scanner. “Is this the first time it's happened?”

“No. It has been present for some time. Although it became substantially more pronounced today.”

“Came on suddenly or did it happen gradually.”

“Suddenly.”

“Other side effects?”

“Yes.”

“What are they? Here, mark them off on here,” McCoy said, handing Spock a PADD. “I'll be back in a minute, I just need to check something.” McCoy left the room for a couple of minutes before returning and taking the PADD from Spock. He scanned through the symptoms. McCoy truthfully had nothing to leave the room for but hoped Spock might be a little more honest with symptoms if he wasn't having to admit to them out loud. It seemed to have worked as McCoy noticed several symptoms listed on the PADD and none of them lead to him feeling very confident about Spock's prognosis. At least, not good enough to prescribe a simple pill and send him on his way.
“Okay, looking at your symptoms and the scanners not exactly proving to be very informative, I want to do some more tests. I can see there's something wrong with your blood but it's going to take more than a quick scan to work out what.”

He could see a flicker of annoyance, or perhaps frustration in Spock's expression briefly before he schooled it and remained neutral. “I understand, Doctor.”

Chapter Text

It took more than just a blood sample to determine exactly what was wrong. While they were waiting for the blood reports to come back from the lab, McCoy did an echo, an EKG, and a chest X-Ray on Spock to be absolutely certain.

And while the investigation had been enlightening, it had also been depressing.

This was Spock and he wasn’t supposed to get sick, McCoy thought. Especially not after escaping death by the skin of his teeth on Altamid. However, a little voice in the back of his head reminded him that based on what he was seeing on his PADD, Spock had not truly escaped death. What hadn’t killed him then had hidden in his body all this time and was rearing its ugly head now.

He did not want to be the one to give Spock this news. But he knew it would have to be him. The Vulcan deserved nothing less. Besides, he still needed those lab results.

Quietly he went back to his office.

The first officer was still sitting on the recliner. His eyes were closed and he appeared to be asleep.

The doctor took a few moments to just observe the younger man. And now that he was looking closely, he was surprised that he had missed it.

Spock’s cheeks had sunken in somewhat, there were slight shadows under his eyes. And he had lost weight. Granted, the man had always been thin. But now that McCoy was looking at him carefully, it was obvious to him that Spock was losing weight at an unhealthy pace. And in all likelihood, he was losing muscle mass even without realizing it.

Leonard was still lost in thought when a ping on his PADD notified him that the lab had completed the blood work. He sat down to read the report and in the next two minutes, his worst suspicions were confirmed.

He swallowed roughly. He had been hoping he’d be wrong.

A part of him was tempted to go down to the lab and ask the technicians to rework the sample. But the professional in him knew it would be no use. In the 23rd century, there was no room for error in something as basic as blood work.

Spock’s reports were accurate. And it did not look good.

McCoy forced himself to get up.

“Spock,” he said gently, not happy to be rousing the Vulcan. He looked so tired. But it was important to have this conversation with him.

“Yes, doctor,” Spock said, waking up.

“I have the results of all the tests,” McCoy managed to say. “Come, sit.”

Spock sat down opposite from McCoy.

“Look, kid,” the doctor began, for once unable to say anything insulting to his favorite Vulcan. “There is no easy way of saying this…”

McCoy trailed away and took a deep breath.

“Doctor, please,” Spock said in his usual strong voice. “What needs to be said, must be said without hesitation.”

“Okay,” the physician said. “Here goes nothing. So remember your wound on Altamid ultimately got infected?”

“I am aware,” the Vulcan said. “And the facility at Yorktown was able to control the infection effectively.”

“Well, that’s not exactly what happened,” McCoy said, his voice heavy. “We don’t know enough about the microbes of Altamid but the infection was treated like any other antibacterial inflammation. And it seemed to work. However, I compared your earlier reports with today’s reports and found out that the bacteria simply mutated and mimicked the harmless cells of your body in order to fool the antibiotics and us. But now that you are not on any antibiotic, they are back to acting up. However, even in their dormant stage, they caused enough damage that at this point, our strongest antibiotics are powerless against them. The lab will continue their work on finding a way around this. But for now, I can only treat the symptoms.”

“You have not told me what these bacteria have to do with the shortness of breath I am experiencing,” Spock said, unfazed.

“Oh, right,” McCoy said. “Well, they affect your blood cells and cause severe clotting. According to your chest X-Ray, there are clots in both your lungs and in the right ventricle of your heart. I will put you on a blood thinner for now. That should help.”

“Are there any side-effects that I should be aware of?” Spock asked.

“Erm… no heavy activity for now and no beaming down for away missions,” the doctor answered. “Blood thinners increase the risk of bleeding. And in your case, that can be particularly dangerous since we don’t have enough of your blood to transfuse if we need to.”

“I understand,” Spock said.”

“You are taking this remarkably well, Spock,” McCoy said, a little worried by the lack of reaction from Spock. “I’m here to answer any other questions you may have. Or if you just need to… you know, talk to someone.”

The Vulcan looked at him pointedly.

“Can you keep my condition confidential?” he asked, aware that it probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do. But if the CMO told Jim, at best, Spock would find himself removed from his duties, and at worst, he’d be grounded for medical reasons.

It was illogical. But the Enterprise was the only home he had now. Where would he go if they asked him to leave? He knew he could attempt a healing trance. But he also knew that trances only worked when the body’s ills were internal. A healing trance would not have any effect on a foreign organism living inside him.

And McCoy seemed to understand that. But that didn’t mean he was entirely okay with the implications.

“I will keep it confidential for now, Spock,” he said gruffly. “But I’ll be monitoring you closely. And I’ll need a blood sample from you every 7-10 days to make sure the blood thinner isn’t causing problems. However, if things start getting out of hand, I will have no choice but to inform the captain. I can’t risk the safety of the ship. Ideally, as the first officer, you’ve gotta be on your A game at all times.”

That is all Spock could ask for. He knew the doctor was right. It was selfish and illogical of him to try and hide his condition when it could potentially affect his performance on the ship. Also, he could not make mistakes. As the CMO had implied, his mistakes could place the Enterprise in jeopardy.

He intended to listen to McCoy and be the model patient for once. If he wanted to stay on the Enterprise without compromising his duties, he would need the doctor’s help at every step.

--Carmina

Chapter Text

Spock's desire to keep his condition from anyone else meant compromising.

He wasn't allowed to beam down so he had to come up with a believable reason to not be involved. He always had plenty of work to keep him occupied in the science labs and he devoted more time to them, using research and upskilling to keep him off landing parties as well as a new desire to push some of the less experienced science officers into his place on the landing party.

If Kirk noticed, he didn't verbalise anything to Spock.

That was one issue, but unfortunately, his problems did not stop there. McCoy's weekly checks drew him to insist Spock adjust his diet to a new regime he would create. Spock needed less vitamin K and that was tough. The lack of variety in what Spock could have safely and his vegan diet gave Spock a very unvaried and bland diet with several supplements that McCoy needed to continually monitor and adjust.
Kirk noted Spock's lack of variety at meal times recently and Spock shrugged it off that food had little interest to Vulcans besides from nutrition. It may have worked had Spock not worked with Kirk for so long who knew he enjoyed certain dishes. But Kirk didn't push either.

Despite all the problems, Spock thought it could work. Sure, there were sacrifices to be made and it wasn't easy but it could work. At least, he believed that, to begin with.

The first incident was minor.
An accident in the labs when a glass shattered and showered the workers nearby with shards of glass.
Spock had been some distance away and had barely received more than a tiny cut across his hand. But it bled more than it should have and he dismissed himself until it stopped, unwilling to draw attention to it.

The next time it was in engineering when he was helping Mister Scott. This time, he sliced the palm of his hand on a piece of damaged metal. He clutched the wound tightly, wishing to stem the flow of blood.
When Mister Scott realised the injury had happened, he offered help. Spock withdrew, stating an injury to a Vulcan's hand was particularly painful and he would attend sickbay for treatment if Scott could continue without him.
Spock headed straight for McCoy's office, relieved to see the doctor present at his desk.

It took his medically trained eye a mere second to notice the injury and spring into action, grabbing bandages to press against the wound. He made Spock sit and apply pressure as he did all he could to stem the flow of blood. He considered trying something to thicken the blood a little but feared another clot could form. It took some time, but eventually, the bleeding stopped. McCoy applied another bandage and told Spock to stay off duty until the wound had healed.
But Spock didn't move from the seat when McCoy dismissed him to his quarters. He sat silently, concentrating until finally, he looked to McCoy.

“Please call the Captain down here. It is time he knew the truth.”

~

When Jim arrived at McCoy's office, he was surprised to see both Spock and McCoy present. That quickly gave way to concern as he saw McCoy's grim face. Spock's face gave nothing away to the situation.

Spock told Jim briefly the troubles he'd been having that lead him to seek out McCoy's help, where the doctor took over with the medical prognosis and treatment he'd so far carried out.

“I asked Doctor McCoy to keep this knowledge to himself for a period of time. I had hoped there would be a workable solution with some limitations on my part. However, in engineering, I received a minor injury that I was forced to seek the Doctors assistance due to the blood loss.”

“The injury on you or I would have required a couple of stitches. More serious than an everyday scratch but not incredibly serious. But it took a noticeable toll on Spock. He did the right thing coming straight to me.”

“I know that the next planet you had mentioned a scientific landing party due to the vastness of information our probe had discovered. I shall not be able to make that landing party, Jim.”

“Transporters are a no go and due to the thinning of his blood, I don't want him taking part in anything that's not paperwork. We simply don't have enough blood to save him should he suffer an injury with high blood loss. He can be on duty on the bridge, he can be in the labs but admin work only. I'm sorry,” McCoy added at the end.

“It is hardly your fault, Doctor. I shall inform two trusted members of the science department that I shall endeavour to have on shift when I am there, in case anything happens.”

“That's a good idea.” McCoy agreed.

“I shall attend to it now, if there is nothing else I can assist you with presently, Captain?”

“Go ahead, Spock.” Kirk dismissed.

Once Spock left the room, Jim went over and took a seat. McCoy poured him a glass of scotch without saying a word. He took a mouthful before he spoke. “He's not going to be able to stay on active duty. If you have a blood condition like that, Starfleet won't even send you into space.”

“If we can find out a way to deal with the infection, it might help. But there's isn't a guarantee that means that he won't still have issues with his blood being too thick and having to medicate him to stop it clotting.”

“And how long will Spock be happy doing paperwork? Unable to help out in engineering, or getting stuck in the labs for hours working on something?”

“He might be fine. He might be happy to just stay on the ship in any capacity. Even leaving the ship, he still faces the same issue. He still needs to be careful. He's not in greater danger here than he is if he were in Yorktown with the same condition.”

“I guess not, it's just there's no one like Spock on this ship. I like him in my landing parties. I like him by my side, Bones.”

“I know. He can be your eyes on the ship. Take advantage of technology. If we get one of those scanners down there, modified a bit, Spock could see what you're seeing. Get Scotty to work on it and Spock could be speaking to you through it. I bet Scotty could even make it so Spock was controlling it. I know it's not the same, but, it could work.”

Jim smiled. But it was hollow. Yes, it would be something, but it wouldn't be the same.
And he couldn't let that thought go.

~

When the ship was damaged by an old and defective defence mechanism near a planet they were heading towards, Spock had been off the bridge.
In fact, he'd been off duty.
He'd been about to sit down for lunch when the ship had lurched suddenly and unexpectedly. He heard several others around him falling and items clattering to the ground.
He felt a twinge of pain as his head connected with the table he was about to sit at, and seconds before the flash of the red alert filled the room, his vision was swamped in green.

He stayed down as he heard others around him get up and rush to their posts and he waited, hoping to be left alone to make his way to sickbay on his own accord.
Except someone ran towards him and pressed something against his head. “It's Lieutenant Kii, Commander.” said the quick thinking lady and one of the science officers Spock had trusted with his condition. “I'll assist you in going to sick bay.”

By the time they entered sickbay Spock's top had a large green stain across the front and the cloth held against the injury was completely wet through. Lt Kii wanted to stay, but with the red alert still sounding, she rushed off to help.
Spock felt light headed and weak as McCoy helped him onto the bio bed. Head wounds were notorious for bleeding heavily and Spock couldn't afford to pump out too much blood.
Deciding that he'd have to take the chance, McCoy gave Spock something to help thicken his blood slightly, hoping the tiny dose would be enough to help stop the bleeding. He started to stitch the wound and was disturbed by how even stitched, blood kept seeping from the small tear in the flesh.

Spock's colour was awful and he seemed content to just lay still, unmoving and silent.

A call came down that three injured personnel were on their way down and McCoy moved Spock's bed into a private room. He ordered Jackson to run things out there while he stayed with Spock and to call him if he was needed.

He stayed by Spock's bedside, with little he could do.

Jim came into the room eventually. Spock was sleeping by then. His colour was still off, he was cooler than usual to the touch and his heart was still beating faster than normal, though the wound had stopped bleeding, it seemed and his heartbeat was slowing.

Without looking at Jim, he provided him with an update. “It was a class 2 haemorrhage and at the high end too. About 25% blood loss. If he'd lost 40% he'd be dead, just so you know how significant this was.”

Jim looked at the cut on Spock's head. It was certainly no minor injury, but the idea that if it had been a bit deeper, or if there had been more than one cut, Spock could easily have died ran a chill through Jim.
From McCoy's almost silent and still posture, he knew the doctor had made a decision he wasn't going to like. “I'm signing him off as unfit for duty.”

It wasn't a surprise, not really. But it was apparent to both of them that Spock wasn't on duty when this had happened. He wasn't in a dangerous area of the ship. And it highlighted how vulnerable Spock was.
If Lt Kii hadn't known his condition, if she hadn't acted so fast to assist him....

“It's the right thing to do.” Kirk said. “I'll speak to him a little later and see if there's a preference with where he'd like to go before I contact Starfleet.”

Chapter Text

Over the next few days, Jim watched Spock closely. He had intended to tell the Vulcan on the day of the head injury itself that he could not serve on the ship actively anymore. As terrible as that was, certain things could not be overlooked. And a potentially terminal blood condition was one of them. No crew member could be allowed to serve on a starship with such a serious illness.

But Spock wasn’t just any crew member.

He was Jim’s best friend.

And he could not do this to him.

It was incredibly difficult to pretend that he wasn’t emotionally compromised. But he was.

Watching Spock struggle everyday was tough. Seeing his pale, worn out face as he grappled with his symptoms was tough.

Finding the courage to say something was tough.

It was after a particularly rough run-in with a group of rogue Klingon criminals, that Jim realized that he needed to get his act together. On Jim’s request, Dr. McCoy had allowed Spock a few more days before they could take a call on the best course of action. In order to keep things as normal as they could under the circumstances, Jim had allowed his first officer to continue with his light duties on the bridge.

Besides, this was a calm, quiet, pretty much empty part of the galaxy.

It had been unlikely that they would find trouble. That is, until they ran into the Khauru, a Klingon smuggling ship. In their shock at being intercepted by a Federation starship, they had panicked and opened fire.

Like too many times in the past, Jim automatically turned to Spock before giving orders to Mr. Sulu. However, shockingly, Spock’s reaction was neither fast enough nor accurate enough for the situation.

Mercifully, Chekhov had been shadowing Spock closely enough to know how the Vulcan worked. He was able to provide an accurate report within seconds, which allowed Jim to deflect the Khauru’s attack.

Unfortunately, they had not been able to capture the ship.

But at least, they were mostly undamaged.

And now, with the danger behind them, Jim was being forced to rethink his decision.

“Mr. Spock, please come down to briefing room six,” he said casually, as if he was simply taking his second-in-command downstairs for a private conference in order to discuss some classified Federation business.

And while everyone on the bridge pretended to be normal, they all thought they knew what this meeting was going to be.

Mr. Spock had messed up seriously, perhaps for the first time in his career. But it could have been a fatal mistake. And while humans were known to make such errors, for a Vulcan to do so, meant that something was very, very wrong.

They half wondered if Spock would be reprimanded.

But something in the captain’s voice told them otherwise.

“Yes, captain,” Spock said in response to Jim’s request. Unlike the rest of the crew, he knew exactly what was going to happen.

Wordlessly, he followed Jim to the turbolift.

Through the entire 30-second journey, neither man said anything.

But once inside, Jim’s emotions got the better of him.

“Spock, you can’t do this anymore,” he said desperately. “Look, I know you want to continue staying on the ship. But Bones is out of ideas and…”

“I know, Jim,” Spock cut him off gently.

“I…. But… Wait, what did you say?” the other man sputtered.

“I said, I know,” the Vulcan repeated. “I cannot continue to serve aboard the Enterprise. Neither as the first officer nor as the science officer. My efficiency ratings have dropped by a significant 12%. It is unpardonable.”

Jim let out a sound that was half laugh, half sob.

“You really think this is just about your efficiency ratings?” he chuckled darkly. “My God, Spock.”

“Then what is it about?” the Vulcan asked.

“I don’t want you to kill yourself,” Jim answered solemnly. “You should be somewhere looking after yourself, getting the care you need, a stress-free environment. Dodging Klingons and fighting rogue ships is hardly the way to do that.”

“I understand, captain,” Spock answered slowly. “I shall make the appropriate arrangements to return to Earth.”

“Earth? I thought you’d want to go to New Vulcan,” Jim said, genuinely surprised. “Who will look after you on Earth, Spock?”

“I simply require peace and quiet,” he replied. “I do not to be taken care of.”

“That’s bull,” Jim said dejectedly. “Remember what happened that day. 25%. That’s how much blood you lost with one tiny cut. One. Tiny. Cut.”

“Yes, and as you mentioned correctly, such occurrences are common on a starship,” Spock countered. “On Earth, I have no intentions of running into Klingons and “rogue” ships, as you put it so eloquently.”

“I’d still feel better if you went to New Vulcan,” Jim said. “At least your father is there. Even if you guys don’t talk all that much, you know he cares about you. Besides, it is closer than Earth. We will be able to drop you there without losing too much time.”

“No, Jim,” Spock said. “I am perfectly capable of piloting a shuttle to wherever I must go. If I decide to undertake a journey to Earth, I assure you that I will return the shuttle to a starbase and seek proper transportation from there.”

“I don’t like this, Spock,” Jim said, hating this newfound helplessness. “Besides, I think you need to tell…”

“Spock,” Uhura’s panicked voice came from behind them. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked, her eyes soaked with tears.

“I…” Spock began.

“Don’t you dare say it was logical,” she said, her voice choked with emotion.

“How did you find out?” he asked, wondering if Dr. McCoy had betrayed his confidentiality.

“I am a communications officer, Commander,” she answered angrily. “And I was one of your best students. I read body language… and I know how to access medical records.”

“That is unethical,” Spock said, his voice devoid of emotion and full of reproach.

“Yes it is,” she said, unfazed. “But isn’t it equally unethical to hide something so serious from your girlfriend.”

“I thought we had terminated our romantic engagement,” he asked, feigning ignorance to the moments he had shared with Uhura on Yorktown at Kirk’s birthday party.

“I would be so mad at you at any other time for saying that,” she all but spat. “But, oh Spock, I…” She let out a small, pained sound.

“Please, do not worry, Nyota,” Spock said, awkwardly trying to pat Uhura’s back even though he had no idea how to deal with her open display of such emotionalism.

And when he looked behind himself, Kirk looked every bit as uncomfortable as he felt.

“Erm… I’ll talk to you later, I guess,” he mumbled and started to leave. But Uhura stopped him.

“Wait,” she said. “I am sorry I interrupted you guys. I’m assuming you were planning what to do next.”

“Er, Spock?” Kirk looked towards the Vulcan uncertainly. “You want to continue our discussion?

“I have no objections to Nyota’s presence while we talk,” Spock gave his consent.

“Okay, good, so where was I? Oh yeah, how are you getting back…” Kirk started as he sat down on a chair. “Like I said, I think you should simply go to New Vulcan. Earth is too far. And I don’t want you to pilot a shuttle by yourself. What do you think, Uhura?” he asked.

She took several minutes before answering.

“I hate to say this, but I agree with Spock,” she said. “I do think Earth is a better option.”

“Seriously?” Kirk asked, unable to believe that Uhura was siding with Spock. “Why?”

“That is not for me to tell,” she whispered, lowering her eyes.

“Spock, are you hiding something from me that I should know?” the captain asked, worried that there was a lot about his first officer that he didn’t know.

“I would tell you, Jim,” Spock said. “But it is irrelevant. However, if it becomes necessary, I will share my reasons with you when the time is right.”

“And here I thought Vulcans could not be cryptic,” Jim grumbled under his breath. For once, Spock did not respond with a quick comeback.

For a few moments, no one said anything. But Jim knew they’d have to get Spock off the ship as soon as he could so that he could get back to Earth and start his treatment.

He commed Bones to tell him to prepare an official report to send to Starfleet on why he was removing the first officer of the Enterprise. For now, Spock would be grounded only temporarily. And he hoped that soon, a cure would be found for this unknown alien disease.

He could not even entertain the thought that this time, a miracle might not happen. After all, James T. Kirk had already used up his quota of miracles by coming back from the dead after the incident with Khan.

--Carmina

Chapter Text

Spock was packing his things up and clearing his quarters out when Uhura walked in.

“Let me help,” she said softly and without waiting for an answer, started folding his shirts.

“I am perfectly capable of packing my belongings,” he said but he was touched that she was here anyway.

“I know, Spock,” she said. “But the captain allowed me to leave my shift halfway. I’ll complete the rest of it in the gamma shift.”

For a few minutes, they worked in companionable silence. But it was obvious that they both had things to say to each other.

“Nyota…”

“Spock...”

They both said each other’s name at the same time. Nyota burst out laughing, finally causing Spock’s lips to twitch as he fought to control an amused smile.

Uhura laughed for a good two minutes before regaining her composure.

“Oh, Spock,” she said, wiping tears of mirth from her eyes. “That wasn’t even so funny. But…” and this time, she was unable to complete her sentence as real tears of grief rolled down her cheeks.

“Please, do not cry,” Spock said and led her to the bed.

“I am so scared,” she said as she pulled him into a tight embrace. At first, he stiffened. But then, he allowed himself to relax into her arms. “I can’t lose you,” she said softly. “I just can’t.”

It was on the tip of Spock’s tongue to say, ‘what is, is,” but he chose not to say it. Somehow, he felt she would not appreciate the comfort of logic. He knew she loved him. He knew how much he meant to her. No, logic would not comfort her at all. She needed him to pull through this. But it was the one thing he could not give to her.

“I know you don’t want to go to New Vulcan,” she said after several moments. Her arms were still around his neck and her head was resting softly against his chest. “But Kirk is right. Who will take care of you on Earth. You might get sicker. Is there really no cure?”

Spock closed his eyes in resignation.

“You have accessed my medical records,” he said. “You are aware there is no cure.”

“But we don’t give up, Spock,” she retorted. “We never give up. Maybe the Vulcan healers can do something…?”

“No,” he said a little too quickly.

“Why?” she asked, her voice wobbly and pleading. “Just because of what happened to you as a kid?  It is not logical, Spock. Surely, they understand too… There are so few Vulcans left.”

“It is indeed not logical,” Spock answered gently. “However, I spent the greater part of my childhood in laboratories and hospitals. Every single examination was humiliating, objectifying, and… sometimes, painful. As a child, my emotional control, my ability to suppress physical discomfort was inadequate… I do not believe I wish to subject myself to that when rationally, cure is improbable.”

“Oh, Spock,” Nyota said as she sobbed into his shoulder. It was odd that even though it was Spock who was sick, she was the one being comforted.

“We must resume packing,” he said. She nodded unhappily and pulled herself out of his embrace.

All too soon, they were done.

“Well, I’ll make sure your quarters are cleaned every week while you’re away,” she said.

Spock looked at her almost pityingly.

“You are aware that is unnecessary,” he said.

“You’re on temporary medical leave,” she said. “You will be back. And that’s why we are just storing all your stuff in the cargo room. Okay?”

Uhura’s normally confident voice was shaky and nervous, as if she was trying to reassure herself even though the truth hung heavy in the air.

Spock didn’t argue with her.

“Will you take your evening meal with me?” he asked her.

It was not quite a date.

But this would be their last time eating together.

“Do you want Dr. McCoy and the captain to join us?” she asked. Of course, she wanted Spock all to herself on his last night on the Enterprise. But she also knew how close he was to the two men.

“I would appreciate that,” Spock said, gratitude evident in his voice.

Four hours later, the four of them ate dinner together in the mess hall, talking, laughing, and joking like all was well.

“Tea, everyone?” Uhuru asked, getting up. She was going to replicate some oolong tea for herself and Spock. She mostly asked Jim and McCoy for the sake of politeness. They almost never drank tea. It was either coffee or whiskey; which was why she was very surprised when they agreed.

Uhuru smiled sadly at the mostly closed-off expression on Jim’s face. His sorrow, his unease, and his distress were obvious.

“To the Enterprise,” McCoy toasted with his teacup.

“To the Enterprise,” they all followed suit.

“And to friendship,” Jim said softly, fighting the onslaught of emotion.

And just like that, it was time for Spock to leave.

“Don’t forget to take your pills,” McCoy said almost affectionately. “Hobgoblin.”

“I fail to see the connection between myself and terran mythical creatures from…” the Vulcan started to say but the doctor cut him off.

“Shut up, Spock,” he said playfully. “If something looks like a hobgoblin, walks like a hobgoblin, then it is a damn hobgoblin.”

Spock look at Uhura for help. But she simply shrugged her shoulders in response.

“okay, guys, play nice,” Kirk said. And then, he turned to Spock. “Are you sure about this, Spock?” he asked for the third time that evening.

“Jim, it will be alright,” Spock said yet again. Normally, he would have questioned Jim’s illogic. But he knew all too well that his offering of rationality would not be received well.

They all hoped this would be a temporary farewell. But they also knew this could be the last time they were seeing Spock alive.

Prolonged, dramatic goodbyes would have made the tough situation all the more difficult. And so, they simply watched as his shuttle took off into the black void that was empty space.

XXXXX

There was a strange serenity about space.

The vastness was fearful to some.

But for Spock, there was peace to be found in the limitless nothingness of the sky. There was no day. No night. No time.

It was even a little disconcerting.

But here, in this little shuttle, it meant that the clock was not ticking. His body was not giving up on him. He was not running out of life.

It was a strange, weightless serenity.

Too weightless.

Foggily, he wondered if the cabin was experiencing decompression.

But he couldn’t really feel it. Somehow, he was unable to bring himself to investigate why everything was suddenly getting too hot and cold at the same time. It was indeed an odd sensation. But he was so tired. He just wanted to sleep some more. The star base was still far. He would wake up in a few hours.

But he needed to check if everything was alright.

“Computer, run a diagnostic of the shuttle…” he murmured.

“Manual decompression in progress. Manual decompression in progress,” came the cool, metallic voice of the computer.

But Spock was already miles away. His hand was still on the emergency decompression button.

--Carmina