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“Gentlemen, please—”


“That’s my arm, damn it—”


Leonard swears under his breath, trying to step back, only to stumble into someone else, which he figures out is Spock based solely on the tone of their grunt. It’s incredibly difficult to balance on the surface they’re standing on, primarily because it’s pitch black—so dark that Leonard literally can’t see a thing. He has no idea where he’s going. Jim mutters, “There’s got to be a window around here, at least...”

“I am searching the perimeter, captain. If there is a window, it is either not at the level of my torso or is indistinguishable from the wall.”

“That’s a good idea. Bones, find the nearest wall—we’ll all search. Pat from the ground up, to as high as you can reach.”

Leonard can feel Jim moving—the flimsy ground dents off to his right, probably weighed down by Jim’s feet. He thinks Spock’s still behind him. He grumbles, “You want us to keep walking without being able to see? What if we fall into a pit?”

“It is doubtful that the Mrennenimians have open pits in their bedroom, Doctor.”

Leonard rolls his eyes, even though Spock can’t see it. “Don’t presume to know what these crazy aliens put anywhere, Spock. So far we’ve been led through one dark room after another, and this one doesn’t even have a proper floor!”

“Has anyone found any furniture?” Jim cuts in. “There’s got to be a bed around here somewhere...”

“Jim, you can’t seriously expect us to stay here overnight!”

“We said we would, Bones. It’s a show of good will.”

Leonard scowls. He doesn’t care if the Mrennenimians have been perfectly polite hosts—they’re weird. As in, more so than aliens usually are. He splutters, “If we have to stay here, let’s at least make them give us a better room!”

“Great idea,” Jim wryly quips. “Let me know when you find the door again. I’d just love to stumble through the Citadel at night without a guide until we bump into somebody to ask.”

Leonard groans. Someone’s wading back to him. A hand reaches out, brushing over his elbow, and then hurriedly withdraws. Spock asks, “Captain?”

“Over here. Give me a minute.”

A few seconds later, more arms are flailing around Leonard’s chest level. He slaps them down. He’s fairly confident that Jim and Spock are somewhere right in front of him. Somewhere.

Jim sighs, “No luck.”

“I do have a hypothesis, Captain,” Spock provides.

Jim asks, “About what?”

“Where the bed is.”

“Let’s hear it, then.”

“I believe we are standing on it.”

Leonard looks down. It’s a pointless gesture, but he does it anyway. He flexes his knees, testing the give of the floor. Then he realizes Spock might just be right—they might be standing on a giant mattress.

Jim slowly ventures, “The entire room is the bed?”

“If I am correct, yes.”

Leonard mutters, “They didn’t even have the decency to give us separate ones.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time we had to cozy up,” Jim laughs. Leonard glares somewhere in his general direction.

“There does not seem to be blankets.”

Leonard snorts, “Since when do you need creature comforts?”

“This planet is considerably colder than my native planet’s temperature, Doctor.”

“Just keep close to me; you can use my body heat.”


“For God’s sakes, Jim, I’m right here!”

“Jeez, Bones. I have two sides. You’re free to the other one.”

“This isn’t funny!”

Something’s moving. It makes the whole floor unsteady. Spock smoothly tells the darkness, “I am lying down. Please do not step on me.”

Leonard nudges his foot around until he finds Spock’s leg. He lightly punts it just because he can. Spock says, “I presume that is you, Dr. McCoy.” Then he breathes, “Captain?” Jim must be lying down too.

From somewhere below him, Jim’s voice calls, “Alright, Bones. Your turn. Come on down.”

Leonard hates this planet. He should never have agreed to come down.

But it’s too late, so he begrudgingly lowers to the floor. He feels around until he finds Jim’s warm body, and then he snuggles up to it, grumbling, “Maybe it’s better the lights are off so we can pretend this isn’t happening.”

Spock states, “I believe the Mrennenimians have not developed lights.”

“Just... go to sleep, Spock.”

Jim chuckles, “G’night, Bones. G’night, Spock. See you in the morning. ...Or, you know, not see you.”

“Good night, Captain. Good night, Doctor.”

Leonard rolls over and shuts his eyes.