“Those bastards starved him, Spock,” Kirk snarled. “McCoy’s in a helluva shape. He wouldn't have lived much longer. We‘re just lucky that we got to him in time.“
“Can he survive, Captain?”
“They’re trying to get nourishment down him, but he doesn‘t have much of an appetite.”
“I will have some plomeek soup made for him.”
“He needs familiar things. He has no interest or willpower and can‘t sleep. The staff’s keeping sickbay business from him.”
Spock frowned. “Is that wise?”
“Just don’t frustrate him. Okay?”
McCoy glanced at Spock‘s container. “Well, what do you have for me to eat, Vulcan?” he snapped. “If steak won’t tempt me, what do you have that I’ll gobble right up?”
McCoy’s face was shrunken and his cheeks were hollow. Near him sat uneaten soup and pudding. Kirk doubted that the calm Spock had the miracle that McCoy needed.
“What’s in your container? Something brimming with vitamins to make me healthy again?”
“On the contrary, Doctor. I have brought something to gladden your heart.”
“Gladden my heart?”
“That is correct, Doctor.”
“This oughta be good, Jim,” McCoy muttered. “Maybe there’s a goldfish swimming around in some fish chowder. That would gladden my heart, alright. I’d probably die laughing. And the fish would be right behind me because it couldn‘t suck chowder into its gills. You could have a joint funeral for me and the fish. It‘d be efficient. Just flush us away together.”
“Let’s see first what Spock has brought. It might cheer you up.”
“It can’t hurt, Bones.”
McCoy sighed in boredom or defeat. Kirk didn’t know which. It didn’t matter which, because both were bad news.
Kirk felt sorry for Spock’s humble offering. Spock looked so earnest with his small container. It was almost a pathetic picture.
“Well, don’t just stand there. Let’s see this miracle that will cure me.”
“I did not claim that it would cure you, just that it will gladden your heart.”
“Yeah, yeah, you said that before.”
Spock held the opened container toward McCoy.
McCoy glanced inside. “Pie?! You brought me pie?!”
Kirk cringed in sympathy for Spock’s good heart. He was soon to be disappointed, too.
“Yes, Doctor. Lemon meringue pie. Bright like the yellow sun. A frothy top like the ocean crest or fluffy clouds in the sky. A filling that is tart and sweet at once. Truly, a gift from the gods. Something to be appreciated for its uniqueness.”
“I don’t even like lemon meringue pie!”
“How long has it been since you have even tasted it?”
“Spock,” Kirk started softly. “He can’t eat that. Even if he liked it, it’s too rich and tart for his fragile system to handle right now. Your plomeek soup would’ve been better.”
“I’ll be the judge of that!” McCoy thundered.
“Bring it here, Vulcan!” McCoy struggled to sit up.
“Lie still, Doctor.” He offered McCoy a spoonful of pie.
“You’re gonna feed me?!”
“Until you are strong enough to feed yourself.”
“That‘ll be damn quick!”
“Next you can eat the soup and pudding.”
“The soup and pudding?! You think that I’ll be eating those, too?! You’ll have to get the pie in me first!”
“Well, we are ready for your third bite of pie, so we are well on our way toward the soup and the pudding.”
“Third bite?! How am I ready for the third bite?!”
“See the pie? Two bites are missing.”
“I’ll be damned!” McCoy grinned. “The little green-assed bastard got food inside me! He must be some sort of charlatan!”
“Seems that way, Bones.” No, Kirk thought, the little green-assed bastard is some sort of miracle worker. Whatever he was, though, and whatever the color of his ass, he had gotten McCoy to eat, which was more than anyone else had done.
“Well, where’s that third bite of the pie I hate?!”
“Sit down. You’re gonna hurt your back. I’m still your doctor, and somebody better be remembering that! So sit!”
“Yes, Doctor.” Spock roosted near McCoy‘s waist.
“Well, get closer than that. I can scoot over if you’re afraid of me.”
“I did not want to crowd you, Doctor.”
“You aren’t crowding! You know, lots of times I missed all of you so much that I would’ve welcomed some crowding. Any kind of company. Even your piss-ant ideas, Spock. Sometimes I even had arguments with you, just to keep in practice. I knew I was getting bad when I started seeing your side of it. You were making more sense to me than I was.” McCoy looked serious. “You kept me sane, Spock, and hopeful. Thanks.”
“I am grateful that I could help, Doctor. Eat your pie.”
“Think you’re saving my life now, don’t you? Damn smug about it, too, aren‘t you?”
“I am only glad that you are not concerned about sickbay. It is running smoothly without you.”
“Getting along just fine, you say?”
“Spock, maybe you shouldn’t--”
“He can rest better knowing that everything is fine.”
“Yeah,” McCoy snipped. “It’s a load off my mind, that’s for sure.”
“They may even rearrange the lab.”
“Lab?! Rearranged?! They couldn’t wait until I was flat on my back, could they?!”
“They probably thought that you would not mind.”
“Mind?! I’ll show them how much I mind!”
“Finish your soup first.”
“What soup?! Where’s the rest of it?”
“Inside you. Well, most of it. I had to wipe your chin when you were ranting.”
“Yes. You. Now eat this pudding.”
“That’s sick people’s food. I want steak.”
“Bones. Maybe you should take it a little easy--”
“Easy?! Easy?! I gotta get out of this bed before they change this sickbay around so I won’t even recognize it!”
“Rest, Doctor.” Spock tucked the blanket around McCoy.
“I still don’t like lemon meringue pie,” McCoy grumbled.
“You may have whatever you want when you awaken.”
“Will you be here?”
“If you wish.”
“Your ass is still green, you know, and you’re still smug.”
“Yes, Doctor. Sleep.”