"Please be seated, Doctor."
"On the floor, right. Why is that again?"
"A position on the floor is not essential to the meditative effort. However, the—"
"Why is that all you ever see, then?"
A brief pause.
"Doctor, it would be best if you would allow me to complete my sentences before asking additional questions. You may find yourself in possession of the desired answers without the need to expend further effort on inquiry."
"Huh. Right, sorry."
"There is no need. However, I—"
"But why is it all you ever see?"
A faint sigh. Almost.
"Such positioning is often the only way to ensure both comfort of the body throughout the meditation period and proper opening of the diaphragm in order to facilitate the ease of deep breathing."
"How do you mean?"
"You are, unless I am entirely mistaken, a doctor, Doctor. Surely you retain at least some small vestige of anatomical knowledge which may be—"
"Now wait a minute. I—"
"—put to some use other than the torture of unsuspecting patients."
"Look. You may be the expert here, but—"
"Thank you, Doctor. To continue—as you surely recall, not only will a slumped posture or other insufficient back support collapse the diaphragm and lead to an inadequate oxygen supply, but it will also lead to discomfort of the body itself during a prolonged course of meditation. This is a circumstance to be avoided if at all possible."
"Well what does the floor have to do with any of that?"
"Have you seen any furniture aboard a starship which would provide an adequate amount of comfortable spinal support and also allow for an optimum ease of breathing?"
"Okay, you've got a point."
"I am honored, Doct—"
"Stuff it, hobgoblin."
"Name-calling is detrimental to the—"
"So is trying to get this old body down onto the floor."
"It is not my fault that the human body is—"
"Don't even get started."
"I only wish to observe that—"
"Let's just get on with this."
Another long pause.
"As you wish, Doctor."
Blue eyes open, hesitant.
"I don't think I'm doing it right. Nothing's happening"
A long sigh disguised as a deep, full breath.
"Doctor, your eyes have been closed for a total of twenty-five point seven seconds. I do not believe that enough time has passed to make such a judgment."
"Close your eyes. Even if nothing appears to be 'happening', as you say, familiarize yourself with the silence."
A soft snort.
"Not that crazy about silence."
One dark eyebrow creeps up.
"Indeed, it has been my observation that most humans are not. Silence itself seems to be, in fact, a rare commodity in primarily human settings."
"How do you stand the noise, then?"
"Doctor, we are not here to—"
"Learning to successfully banish intrusive outer noise into the realm of what humans would call 'white noise' was the long process of many years for me."
"Huh. So, it wasn't easy for you either."
"Indeed not, Doctor. The meditative process requires patience and repetition, and may at times seem difficult or unfruitful even to those well-versed in its processes."
"Right. Okay, then."
Blue eyes close again.
Brief silence, then another snicker.
"I know, I know. Sorry, Spock, I'm trying …"
"A focus word, once properly integrated into the meditative experience, will serve as an unconscious 'reminder' of this state. It will come to be an aid in the meditation itself, and it will also serve to assist in any necessary refocusing the mind during non-meditative periods."
"You mean, thinking about this 'focus word' will help redirect my attention when things start to … you know, get bad?"
"Precisely. Your mind will associate that word with the meditative state, and will draw upon the calm provided during said state."
"Assuming I ever manage to find any calm."
"Patience, Doctor. We are barely begun."
"Sure. So, what kind of word are we talking, here?"
"The word itself will be unique to you—there is no list of required or suggested words. However, it is usually best to choose a short word of one or two syllables if possible, one which will remind you in the beginning of your goals and help on a conscious level to draw you toward a deeper state."
"I don't … I'm just supposed to pick something?"
"Indeed." A brief pause. "If I might make a suggestion, perhaps words such as 'focus' or 'calm' or 'peace' would be appropriate to your situation."
A long, deep breath.
"Peace. I … yeah, I like that."
"So what now?"
"Combine the focus word with your breathing. Hear it in your mind as you breathe in, then silence as you breathe out. 'Peace' as you breathe in, silence as you breathe out."
"Are you prepared to begin, then?"
"I guess so." Brief silence. "Spock?"
"Are focus words a secret?"
"What's yours, then?"
"I do not have a focus word, Doctor."
"I am … beyond the need for such an exercise."
"What do you mean, 'beyond the need'?"
"This type of meditation is very basic. It is generally used by … Vulcan children, in the beginning of their training."
"Now, you wait just a cotton-pickin' minute. You're telling me that you're treating me like a ten-year-old, here?"
"This exercise is generally practiced by four to five-year-olds."
Long, dangerous silence, then furious muttering as the blue eyes close.
The chuckles increase.
"Doctor, attempt to focus. Remember your word, repeat it as you—"
A bark of laughter.
"Blast it, sorry Spock, but you weren't there. It was—"
"It matters very little at this time how Ensign Danell and Lieutenant Kramer came to be covered in replicated bread pudding, Doctor, or what they looked like. It is not at this time—"
"If you'd been there, even you would have been laughing, half the Engineering department was working on the—"
"I very much doubt it, Doctor."
"This wasn't … too bad today, right?"
"Your efforts are assuredly more focused than were those of your first attempts. Have you noted effects of any significance upon your repetitive symptoms?"
"The memories? I don't … I don't know. I mean, I think about all of this when they pop up, about the focus word, but I don't know if it's been making any real difference. Knowing that it's all an expected result of … well, you know… and that I'm not actually going crazy has made just as much of a difference, I think." Pause. "That's probably not what you want to hear, right? I don't—"
"Doctor, the point is to control and diminish your symptoms. All of these combined factors—our meditation sessions, Dr. M'Benga's treatments, your knowledge of the facts surrounding such an assault—will work in conjunction with each other. It is not a failure to admit that one factor out of the several is providing the most obvious relief at this time. It is probable that such will often be the case throughout this therapy, and indeed throughout your lifetime."
"Oh. Well … good."
"My focus word is distracting me."
"In what way?"
"I can't seem to get past it. It's just … drowning everything else out."
"I am breathing!"
"Doctor, I was not—"
"It's this darned focus word. It's in my way today."
Long, deep breath.
"Very well. We will start our session over. Perhaps a fresh beginning will assist you to … get past this block."
"Maybe. But I'm telling you, the word is just too loud today."
"Perhaps that is just you, Doctor."
"Why, you pointy-eared …"
Laughter rebounds off the walls.
A long, deep, silent Vulcan sigh, and a retreat into meditation of his own.
"It's not working today, and I don't want to do it."
"Look, I know you're trying to help, but not today."
"Doctor McCoy. Do you know of any reason that might be causing your meditation to be particularly unsuccessful at this time?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
"This type of reaction is, you understand, not an uncommon one, or unexpected. As we have previously discussed, even those seasoned in meditation may find difficulty during certain—"
"Well, good for them. I don't really care right now, and I don't—"
"You failed to answer my question, Doctor. Do you know of some reason why—"
"It's been a long day, a lot of casualties from that landslide down on the planet. I've only been back on duty three days, I've just barely gotten my feet wet, and now this. We've been going since 0400, we lost two of them—young ones—and it's just … I'm stressed, and I'm tired, and all of those blasted memories are just loud today."
"Strong. It's all I've been seeing all day, blood and death both outside my head and inside, and I don't want to—"
"Doctor. Please sit."
"You're not listening to me! I don't want to try to go in there after it, I don't want to look at it or face it right now, I just want to go back to my room and—"
"Doctor McCoy. Sit. I will—"
"—I will lead you in a guided meditation today. Its purpose—"
"Its purpose will be to draw you away from the strongest of those memories. To calm your unconscious mind, and in doing so calm your symptoms."
"You can … you think that will work? You can actually do something like that?"
"Indeed Doctor, it is a well-known technique. I can of course offer no guarantees as to its success during this particular attempt, but we can only try."
A visible wince, and tightening of the eyes.
"Doctor, please be seated."
The deep Vulcan voice is gentle.
McCoy lowers himself reluctantly to the floor.
"Am I perhaps boring you today, Doctor?"
"You have yawned seven times since beginning our exercises. I do not—"
"Human physiology, Spock. Sometimes when we open our diaphragm and breathe deeply, it just sets us off yawning. Nothing to do with you."
"Not this time, anyway."
Two pairs of eyes open—one blue, one dark.
"Well done, Doctor. How do you feel?"
"Not bad. Things in general have been calmer over the past few days, though, so I think that's probably helping."
"And likely 'vice versa', as you would say."
"Ha. Probably. It's … it's nice, I don't … I haven't been feeling so anxious about it all lately."
"And have the memories diminished, in either number or strength?"
"Maybe a little of both—sometimes I can't tell at all, but sometimes it seems like definitely yes."
"That is excellent."
"What you wanted to hear?"
"It is exactly what is to be hoped for, Doctor."
"Well … good, then." A brief silence. "What've you got going on this evening?"
"I am joining Captain Kirk for chess. We have not played in some time."
"Huh. Well, have fun. I'm off to get a drink and catch up on my personal correspondence. I've had a letter from Joanna sitting there for a week waiting for a reply."
McCoy leverages himself off the floor, and drifts toward the door.
"Very well. Will your shifts over the next week allow for our sessions to continue without alteration?"
"Good. I'll see you here tomorrow, then." A faint grin. "Same Bat time, same Bat channel?"
A gentle snicker.
"Never mind, Spock. Good night."