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I have swapped my hurt for healing

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The mission to Melkotia had left Scotty shaken in a way he didn’t care to admit. The phantom sensation of nonexistent bullets settling uncomfortably against his skin despite all of Spock’s Vulcan technique, but there had been duties to attend to and relationships to build and he’d pushed his worries aside. Deciding, perhaps irresponsibility, that he could find time to fall apart later.

This was, of course, the reason that Scotty was now off duty and well and truly on his way to getting terribly drunk, rather than sleeping as he should be, when he heard the telltale thud of someone falling against the bathroom tile. He looked up from his drink and chuckled, ah the dangers of having a washroom that doubled as the local liquor cabinet. 

“You okay in there laddie?” He called out, waiting for the tirade of Southern slander that usually occurred after such events. Heck, with a little luck McCoy would exit to Scotty’s room just for a chance to complain and perhaps bring a bit of whatever he was after to share with him. Drinking was, after all, always better with a friend. 

Instead, Scotty was greeted with an abnormal silence. He frowned.  

“Doc? Is everything okay?” 

No reply and Scotty fidgeted, trying to decide what to do. McCoy hadn’t been injured in their latest mission, nobody had been, except for the scare with Chekhov, there hadn’t been a single mark left by their Western themed debacle. Perhaps the good doctor just wasn’t in a chatty mood? He might’ve simply already left the bathroom. Still, Scotty reasoned, better safe than sorry, he put down his drink and got to his feet, pausing only for a second to allow the room to right itself, before stumbling his way to the door. 

“Doctor McCoy?” He knocked against the metal. “Ya alive in there?” 

More silence and a deep unease began to settle over him. It was one thing for McCoy to ignore him, or perhaps not even hear him, from across the room, but this? There was no excuse for ignoring a question this close to the door.

“Leonard, I’m comin’ in okay? If you want to maintain your dignity I suggest you speak up now.” 

Scotty carefully counted to ten, before attempting to open the door, the fact that it slid aside unlocked and unhindered was a cry for alarm. Doctor McCoy’s still body curled up against the wall was another. 

Scotty’s eyes widened, falling down next to the doctor and feeling all at once much too sober for this kind of situation. 

“Doctor McCoy?” 

The doctor didn’t move from where he sat, head resting against his knees. Scotty bit his lip and reached out slowly to touch McCoy’s shoulder and was completely unprepared for the way the doctor jolted up and away. A fist coming dangerously close to Scotty’s face.

“Easy!” Scotty yelled because that was more helpful than swearing. He cleared his throat and spoke softer, “Easy Leonard, it’s just me. Ya know, Scotty?”

McCoy eyes locked with his and for one brief, terrible moment, there was nothing there, but wild panic, before it vanished into anger. He scrambled to his feet and Scotty followed, partly out of an illogical fear that McCoy was going to come tumbling right back down again. He was certainly shaking enough for it to be a possibility. 

“I know who you are Scotty,” McCoy hissed. “What I’m wondering is why you’re in my bathroom.”

Our bathroom,” Scotty corrected out of habit.  “And I’m in here because it sounded like you fell and then you weren’t answering me.” 

“Well I’m fine, you can leave.” McCoy’s voice was harsh and angry, but Scotty noticed the way he steadied himself against the wall. The way his shoulders shook and his face paled. 

“Excuse me for saying so Doctor, but you don’t look fine.”

“Tell me Scotty, out of the two of us who has the medical degree?”

“I may not have a degree, but I’ve got eyes. You’re pale and you look like you’re about ready to shake out of your skin. Could you even walk out of the bathroom without the wall holding you up?”

McCoy scowled at him, pushed himself away from the wall, took two steps, stumbled, and caught himself on the sink. 

“Leonard, you’re not alright.” 

“I’m just dizzy, it’ll pass.”

“That doesn’t look like passing,” Scotty pointed out when McCoy didn’t move from his position against the sink. He reached towards the intercom, “Listen,  whatever’s going on ya don’t have to tell me about it, but maybe we can call the captain and—“

“No!” McCoy moved faster than Scotty thought possible in his condition. His hand whipping out to catch his wrist in an ironclad grip. “You can’t call Jim.”

Scotty froze, staring at McCoy with wide eyes and trying to figure out exactly what emotion was swimming across the man’s face. Anxiety maybe? Fear? 

“Scotty, you can’t call Jim, he can’t know.” 

Scotty lifted his free hand in surrender, “Alright, I won’t call the captain, but then you’ve got to tell me what’s going on. You can’t just say something like that and expect me to just go back to drinking scotch like nothing’s happened.” 

McCoy breathed deeply, hand still tight against his wrist, “Right.” He gulped, “Right. You have any of that scotch left?” 

“Half a bottle,” Scotty replied, because that was as good of an agreement as any. “Let’s settle down in my room and you can tell me why you’re falling apart in the bathroom.”

“I’m not falling apart,” McCoy insisted, but with the way he’s leaning against Scotty for support as they walk, Scotty wasn’t inclined to believe him. 

Scotty deposited McCoy in one of the extra chairs across from him, before pulling out an extra glass and offering it to the doctor as he took his own seat. He watched as McCoy poured a glass and downed it. Scotty frowned, suddenly worried that perhaps his usual form of self-medication would do more harm than good.

“Are you sure you’re okay to drink in your condition?”

McCoy snorted, “I don’t know, but I ain’t doing this sober.” 

“Fair enough,” Scotty conceded. 

For a while they just drank together and Scotty was okay with that, had wanted the company anyway, but just as the world started to get hazy McCoy spoke.

“They’re just a bit painful you know?”

Scotty blinked, frowning as his alcohol addled mind tried to piece together who “they” were.

“And they leave me dizzy for days afterwards,” McCoy continued. “I was trying to get something out of the medicine cabinet to help with that and the headache when you found me.” 

“I don’t follow,” Scotty admitted. “What’s painful?”

“Mind melds,” McCoy scowled, “all that Vulcan voodoo messing with your head and sifting through your thoughts. It ain’t worth the headache that follows. You know what I’m talking about right?” 

Scotty opened his mouth, closed it, frowned and thought. To be fair, before today’s mission, Scotty had never participated in a mind meld—and he briefly wondered where McCoy had managed to experience one before—but the experience hadn’t necessarily been a bad one. He’d felt nervous at first, but once Spock was in his mind the First Officer’s touch had been a calm and reassuring presence. Sure, he still thought that he could feel the bullets going through his skin, but that was probably the human mind dealing with trauma and not a result of the meld itself. 

“I’m not sure I do,” he admitted, watching McCoy carefully. “I’ve only ever experienced the one from today, but it wasn’t painful. It was kind of calming? Nice even.” 

“You thought that it was nice to have someone plowing through your mind,” McCoy deadpanned. “To shove their own thoughts in.”

“Shove?” Scotty felt thrown, trying to match McCoy’s words to his experience. “It didn’t feel like shoving? It was more like a suggestion that I followed?” 

“A suggestion?” 

“Yes.”

“And it didn’t hurt?” McCoy asked skeptically. 

“No?” 

“And you’re not dizzy at all? No headaches or pain?”

“Maybe I was a bit dizzy right after, but it passed before we even made it back to the Enterprise , and I’m definitely not dizzy or in any pain now.”

Whatever response Scotty had expected from the doctor the sudden string of laughter wasn’t it. 

“You, uh, okay there Doc?”

“So it’s just me?” McCoy laughed, his voice keying towards hysteria. “I just thought that was the way it was, but you’re telling me that I’m the only one with this problem?”

“Now wait a minute I didn’t say—“

“How messed up does my head have to be that when someone just taps against it erupts in pain?” 

“If you’re in pain Leonard, maybe we should get Spock I’m sure that—“

“No!” And there it was again, that guttural yell of protest, and McCoy’s hands were on his arms, and his glass was on the ground, and Scotty was at a total loss as to what brought it on. “You can’t tell Spock, that’s, that’s even worse than Jim.

Then McCoy’s actions seemed to catch up with him and he pulled back and his face was pale again, losing what little color the alcohol had revived in it, and then he was standing and swaying, “I should go. Sorry Scotty. Forget about it, I’ll figure it out.” 

And he was trying to move away, but something was wrong and all Scotty could think about was McCoy pale and still on the bathroom floor and the thought of leaving him to deal with that alone was unthinkable. 

“Leonard, wait,” Scotty caught him by the wrist, determined to keep him there, and McCoy froze.

There was none of the angry struggle or Southern swears that Scotty expected, just a cold silence and the quickening of a heartbeat beneath his fingertips. 

“Scotty,” McCoy sounded out of the breathe, “Let go of my wrist, please.” 

Scotty dropped the appendage like it burned and McCoy stumbled back to fall against the wall and slid down in a heap. His legs coming up to curl against his chest. 

Scotty stared at him and he stared at Scotty and nobody moved. Nobody spoke. They just watched each other while McCoy’s breathes came out in harsh gasps.

Finally Scotty swallowed, crouched down in front of McCoy and spoke calmly, “Leonard, I don’t think you’re okay.”

And McCoy looked at him, ran a hand over his face and laughed miserably, “Scotty I think you’re right.” 

Scotty breathed out a humorless chuckle of his own, “So what are we going to do about it?”

McCoy leaned his head back against the wall, eyes staring up at the ceiling, “I don’t know Scotty. I really was fine, I thought I’d handled everything from before and then this whole day just stirred it all back up.” 

“From before?” Scotty questioned, McCoy looked back at him tiredly.

“Do you remember the ion storm incident?” 

“Which one?” 

McCoy winced, “Yeah that’s fair. The, um, parallel universe one.”

Scotty felt his blood run cold, “Aye, I remember.” 

It wasn’t something one forgot. If Scotty let it, if he remembered it at just the wrong time, the deadly halls and vengeful people still haunted his dreams. 

“Do you remember Spock, their Spock?”

All at once Scotty had a terrible feeling of where this was going, “Aye.”

McCoy took a deep stuttering breath and whispered, “When I was left alone with him he woke up unexpectedly and he...he did something. He wanted information and he barely even asked before he just took hold of my mind and walked through it.” 

“Leonard…” Scotty froze, what did you say to something like that? “I’m sorry that happened to you.” 

McCoy snorted, “Yeah you and me both. Well I guess that it must’ve left a bigger scar than I thought, because today’s little incident brought all those headaches right back. Yay.” He waved his hands and then thudded his head back against the wall. “There’s something wrong with my head Scotty and I don’t think I know how to fix it.” 

Scotty wanted to give him answers, but what answers did he have to give? He didn’t know the first thing about telepathy, much less the use of it in an assault? 

“I think,” Scotty started slowly, took a breath, “I think that we should call Spock.” 

McCoy’s eyes widened and there it was again, that strange mixture of panic and horror, “You can’t. He can’t know.”

“Why not?”

“He, he just can’t. Especially since it’s been so long since the original incident! What am I supposed to say? Oh hey Spock remember that time we ended up in the wrong reality? I forgot to mention that while we were over there I got my mind turned inside out by you, but with a really ugly beard. Could you imagine what he’d say? How illogical it would all be to him?” 

“I imagine that he would ask to help you. Leonard, I don’t know enough about telepathy or mind melds to help you and I’m beginning to think that you don’t know enough about it to help yourself. So, unless you know another telepathic crew member that could help I don’t think you have much of a choice.”

Silence and Scotty held eye contact with McCoy as he glared at him. 

“Scotty….”

“Leonard.”

McCoy groaned and dropped his head against his knees. For a long time he didn’t say anything and Scotty didn’t dare speak, worried that McCoy would flee if he did anything other than sit there and listen to the doctor breathe.

“Fine,” McCoy hissed at last, “You win. Call Spock.” 

It didn’t really feel like a victory, but Scotty got up and tapped the intercom to call the Vulcan all the same. 

“Scotty to Spock,” he said, “Ya there sir?”

“Spock here.”

Bless Vulcans and their irregular sleep patterns.

“Sir, I’m afraid there’s been…” he searched for the right word, “an incident that requires your attention. Would you mind coming down to my quarters?”

“What sort of incident?” 

Scotty looked over at McCoy who seemed to be trying to merge into the wall.

“I think you’d best just come down and see for yourself, sir.”

“Very well, I’ll be there shortly. Spock out.” 

The line cut out and Scotty made his way back over to McCoy.

“You okay?”

“No, but help me up, there’s no way I’m facing that hobgoblin from down here on the floor.” 

Scotty grabbed a hold of McCoy’s hand and pulled him to his feet, steadying him slightly as he swayed. “You sure you don’t want to sit? Not on the ground, but the chair is—“

“I’ll stand.” 

“Right.” 

Never let it be said that their Chief Medical Officer wasn’t anything, but stubborn.

They stood there in uncomfortable silence and Scotty pretended not to notice the way McCoy jumped when the door buzzed a short while later.

Scotty walked over to open it, letting Spock in.

“Doctor McCoy, I wasn’t expecting you to be here as well,” Spock raised an eyebrow, “Am I to assume that this is some sort of medical emergency?” 

“In a sense,” Scotty answered when it became clear that the doctor wouldn’t. “Um, maybe we should all sit down.” He glanced over at McCoy who’d begun to sway.

Spock nodded and took a seat, and Scotty did likewise. 

“Doctor?” Spock questioned.

McCoy sat in the seat farthest away from Spock and once again Scotty pretended not to notice. 

Scotty worried his lip and looked over at McCoy, “Do you want me to explain or…?”

McCoy waved his hand in permission, “Go ahead, I’d rather not,” he looked tired. 

“Right, you see Mister Spock, Doctor McCoy has been experiencing pain ever since the mind meld incident on Melkotia.” 

Spock leaned forward looking at McCoy, “Fascinating and when did you notice that mind melds were painful? I assume it was during our encounter with the Melkotians?” 

“Uh, no, before,” McCoy coughed, leaning back. 

“Before?” Spock’s eyebrows furrowed minutely.

“It’s not important.”

“I’m afraid it is, in order to properly assess the situation I must have all the facts.”

McCoy pursed his lips, glared at Spock and Scotty cleared his throat. 

“There was another incident,” McCoy let out a sound of betrayal, “Doctor McCoy was attacked telepathically, forced into mind meld and—“

“By who?”

Scotty jumped at the unexpected interruption, “Sir?”

“Who attacked the doctor?”

“Oh, um…” Scotty trailed off, turning to look at McCoy who’d grown pale and was shaking his head. “It’s not important?” He tried.

“I’m afraid I must disagree,” Spock’s voice sounded far harsher than it had just moments before. “What you’re describing Mr. Scott is a serious offense. As I am the only Vulcan on this vessel and know that I was not the culprit I must assume this happened off the ship and that the person still roams free. If this is the case they must be tracked down and brought to stand trial.”

Scotty fidgeted, “I don’t know if it’s my place to say?”

Spock eyed him for a moment, before turning to face McCoy, “Doctor, I’m afraid I must insist that you tell me who attacked you.”

“I don’t have to tell you squat, Spock,” McCoy hissed angrily. “It happened, it’s over, we just need your help to fix it.”

“It isn’t over Doctor, the effects of forced mind melds can be disastrous. The fact that you experienced any sort of pain today on Melkot is concerning, but for you to continue to be in discomfort—as I can tell you are—hours later is disconcerting. You must tell me who attacked you so that I can have all the facts at my disposal.”

“No.”

“Doctor, now is not the time to be stubborn.”

“Now is the perfect time to be stubborn.” 

“You’re attitude is illogical. You gain nothing from hiding information about your attacker. I believe that you have become emotionally compromised given your closeness to the situation—“

“It’s my situation to be close to!”

“—and that your opinion on the matter is clouded. Starfleet clearly states that all assaults are to be reported so that the perpetrator may be caught and the victim may receive the proper care they need.” 

“I’m trying to get that care now, if you’d just listen to me!”

“Care should’ve been received immediately. If you continue to avoid the questions I’ll have to inform the captain of—“

“You can’t! ” McCoy was out of his chair now, swaying on his feet, but face red and angry, “I can file this as medical confidentiality!”

“Not if I believe you to be a danger to yourself.”

“A dan—a danger to myself?” McCoy spluttered. 

“You failed to seek proper medical care immediately and now are refusing to give information that would aid in that care. These both point to psychological trauma as well as physical.”

“Now Doctor,” Spock continued. “I must again ask who it was that attacked you.”

“And I must once again tell you it’s none of your business, you pointy-eared computer.” 

“Very well, Mr. Scott, if you could inform the captain that—“

“No! Wait, Scotty don’t you dare move.” 

Scotty froze, watching the argument with growing trepidation, as the McCoy’s voice grew louder and louder and Spock remained eerily calm. He was used to the two officers fighting, but this seemed different, uncontrolled. A volcano, on the verge of eruption. 

“That’s an order, Mr. Scott. The captain will want to know about—“

“No, don’t!”

“Mr. Scott, if you would please—“ 

“It was you!” The confession sounded desperate and panicked. 

Spock blinked. 

McCoy swallowed and fell back into his chair, his head coming to rest in his hands, “It was you and I didn’t want you to know.” 

“Doctor whatever it is that I’ve done to make you think this I swear to you that—“

“Not you you,” Scotty interrupted, as long as McCoy was sharing he might as well help fill in the gaps. “The parallel you, there was an...incident when we were making our way to the transporter room and Doctor McCoy stayed behind to keep him alive and was attacked when he woke up.” 

Five minutes, Scotty realized suddenly. They’d only left Doctor McCoy alone for five minutes and it had had devastating effects. Scotty felt sick at the thought.

“I see,” Spock said, voice even. “That is most...unfortunate.” 

McCoy snorted, “You’re telling me.”

The room lapsed into an uncomfortable silence and Scotty suddenly wished for more scotch.

“Doctor McCoy, what you experienced was horrific and intolerable, it isn’t normal and should not have happened.” 

“I know that Spock.” 

“But if you knew, then why did you not seek medical aid immediately? It is most—“

“If you say illogical I’m going to have to punch you,” McCoy growled, looking up. 

When Spock didn’t continue McCoy sighed, “It was stupid. I should never have been alone with him in the first place, it was my fault and I handled it.” 

“I must disagree with you on both accounts,” Spock replied. “This was neither your fault nor do I believe you’ve handled it. The fact that you are still operating after such an assault is remarkable. A lesser mind surely would’ve crumbled by now.” 

“Was that a compliment?”

“A fact.”

McCoy’s lip ticked upwards momentarily, before falling back into his scowl, “It never should’ve happened. I should’ve just left him.”

“Perhaps, it would’ve been the logical decision,” McCoy opened his mouth, but Spock surged forward, “but it would not have been the Doctor McCoy decision. To leave one to die when you are able to help is not in your nature Doctor and the fact that my counterpart took advantage of that is unfortunate and unforgivable, but again, it is not your fault. This compassion for all life is what makes you a good doctor.”

“Two compliments in one day. Are you sure you’re not ill?” 

“Just more facts Doctor. I also believe that I’ll be able to help you as you requested earlier.”

“You mean now that you’ve gotten what you wanted.”

“I mean that I can help now that I understand who has attacked you. To try and fix the damage done by a force mind meld without prior knowledge of the attacker is dangerous. Now that I know who has done it I’ll be able to help soothe some of your pain.” 

McCoy narrowed his eyes, “And you plan on helping how exactly?”

“By initiating another mind meld.” 

“Not a chance,” the refusal was immediate. 

“Doctor, it is only logical that—“

“They hurt Spock. Maybe in a few days when my mind doesn’t feel like it’s splashing around in my skull, but I can’t now, not so soon after the last one.”

Spock frowned, “Leonard, just how much pain are you in?” 

McCoy didn’t answer, but his lips pressed tight together and Scotty remembered his still form against the bathroom wall with a shiver.

“Doctor,” Spock spoke softly, “you’re suffering needlessly. Last time I was not aware of any injury, but this time I can ensure that I work around it. I will simply heal what pain I can in order to make you more comfortable before we begin our journey to Vulcan.” 

“Vulcan? Spock, there’s no reason to—“

“Doctor, just because you haven’t yet experienced more severe symptoms does not mean they won’t exist in the future. A mind is a delicate thing and the fact that you’re still in pain is alarming.”

“Jim will want to know why we’re changing course. He’ll find out. I—he— you weren’t there Spock, you didn’t see how hopeful he was that your counterpart could make a difference. I can’t take that hope away from him.”

“Your concern is illogical Doctor, the captain would want to know the truth,” he paused. “However, if this is the only thing stopping you from accompanying me to Vulcan I’m sure I can simply convince Jim that my mother wishes me to stop by and visit her.”

“I thought Vulcans couldn’t lie?”

“It’s not a lie, my mother always wishes such things, it is most illogical. I am, after all, more than able to communicate with her remotely, however, perhaps it’s for the best as I’m sure that she will also want to chat with the doctor who saved her husband’s life. And then, of course, it would do you good to inspect some of Vulcan’s hospitals as you are in charge of my medical care and if we happen to stop by a mind healer’s office during that time it would be most educational and beneficial.” 

“Your ability to manipulate situations to your liking is remarkable, Mister Spock.”

Spock hummed, “So we’re in agreement then?” 

“And this will help the pain?”

“The odds of a full recovery are 89.2.” 

“And Jim won’t find out?” McCoy confirmed.

“I will not tell him, however, I believe that you should, but that will be your decision.”

McCoy nodded, “Right and this mind meld you want to do now it won’t...hurt?” 

“No, now that I understand your situation I can ensure that the process will be no worse than a hypospray, if not entirely painless, and if it does begin to be uncomfortable then simply say so and I will halt immediately.” 

McCoy breathed in deep, let it out slowly, and nodded, “Okay, let’s do it.”

Spock stood, crossed to the doctor, and reached forward. McCoy flinched back, Spock froze, and Scotty began to rise from his seat.

“No, Scotty, sit down, I’m fine, it’s fine, go ahead Spock.” 

“Are you sure?” 

“Spock, my brain is on fire and if you’re telling me there’s something you can do about it then I’m more than willing to at least try.” 

Spock nodded, though he looked far more hesitant than he had before, then set his fingers against McCoy’s face.

“Our minds are merging Doctor,” Spock mumbled and then fell into silence. 

Scotty bounced his leg, torn between watching the meld with interest and feeling like he’d intruded upon a private moment. He settled upon getting up and picking up the nearly empty bottle of scotch and downing the rest of it as a distraction. 

This was, most certainly, not how he had imagined this night going. 

Still, he supposed it was better than how the doctor imagined his night going. Scotty winced, went to drink some more of his scotch, before remembering it was empty and set it down. He settled for running his hands down his face, what a night.

He turned his head to watch McCoy and Spock as they sat perfectly still, except for a small quirk of an eyebrow or the twitch of a lip here or there. It was eerie and Scotty wondered if this was how he had looked on Melkotia—eyes wide open, but unseeing. If it was, this was certainly taking far longer than it had before, the stillness was beginning to make him twitchy. 

Just when he thought that he better go and at least make sure both men still had a heartbeat, McCoy let out a gasp and Spock stepped away, his hands falling to his sides. He stood, stepped back, and asked,

“How do you feel Doctor?”

McCoy frowned, brow furrowing, “Better.” He said, sounding surprised in a way that made Scotty’s heart hurt. Then after a moment's hesitation got to his feet and smiled, “I actually feel better? Still a bit dizzy mind you, but not like—“ he trailed off. 

“You’re gonna pass out on the bathroom floor,” Scotty supplied, feeling drunk and brave. 

“You fainted?” Spock actually sounded concerned.

“No,” McCoy glared at Scotty, who shrugged. “I was just resting.”

“On the bathroom floor, I had to go and save him.” 

“No one saved me, because I was fine, ” McCoy countered with a snarl, then turned to point a finger at Spock. “And don’t you dare raise that eyebrow at me you green-blooded hypocrite, like I don’t have to drag you into the sickbay every other mission.” 

Spock eyed the doctor, nodded, and changed the subject, “I’ll inform the captain of our need to stop by Vulcan at the first convenience.”

McCoy’s nose scrunched up in distaste, “Do we have to? I feel fine now.”

“You feel fine because I’ve intervened, but what I’ve done isn’t a permanent solution,” he paused briefly then explained, “It’s like you’ve had a bone that has healed wrong and I’ve come along to reset and adjust it. However, I lack the abilities to permanently keep it aligned, and if left it’ll heal wrong again. Which will only cause more issues in the future.” 

“So we can’t just keep doing whatever this was?”

“No.”

“It’s never easy is it,” McCoy sighed and nodded, “Right. Let’s go to Vulcan then.”

“I’ll go and inform the captain at once,” Spock turned to leave, stopping only briefly when McCoy caught him by the arm.

“Spock, wait, if he’s asleep, don't...don’t wake him. He needs the rest.” 

For a moment, Scotty was sure that Spock was going to refuse, but the Vulcan simply nodded, “Very well.”

McCoy nodded, let go, and took a step back, his hand coming to the back of his neck, “And Spock?”

“Yes, Doctor?”

“Thanks for you know…” He trailed off and Scotty felt his eyebrows raise. Thanks from the doctor was rare, sincere thanks even rarer. 

“Thanks is unnecessary, it would’ve been illogical to leave you in pain, but—“ Spock continued when McCoy started to scowl, “I believe that the proper human response is, you’re welcome.”

McCoy snorted, seemed to accept the fact that this was as good as he was going to get and nodded. “Right, have a nice night then Spock.” 

“Likewise,” Spock replied, then turning to Scotty asked, “And you Mr. Scott, will you be needing anything before I depart?”

“I think I need another drink,” Scotty admitted, falling back into his chair and eying the empty bottle of scotch sadly. 

Spock raised an eyebrow, “Well, I’m sure there’s still some nonregulation bottles hidden behind that loose panel in the bathroom.” 

Scotty spluttered and if he didn’t know better he would’ve said the Vulcan looked smug as he nodded his good-bye and headed out the door.

“Eh, he won’t tell anyone,” McCoy waved away Scotty’s panic, then pursed his lips, “Probably. But we might wanna move things to that spot under the sink just in case.” 

“Or we could drink it?” Scotty ventured.

“That would be irresponsible,” McCoy deadpanned, “Then again, I am about to find myself on a planet full of the most logical people this side of anywhere and being a bit numb may prevent me from changing my mind about this whole ordeal.” 

“Right, one more bottle of the Enterprise’s finest coming right up,” he got to his feet, stumbled twice, and left for the bathroom. He removed the loose panel, grabbed a bottle of Antarean brandy, set it aside, and then relocated the other three hidden there to a small compartment under the sink.

Collecting the Antarean brandy, he replaced the panel, stood, and made his way back out to where McCoy was waiting.

He was sitting down now, glancing over when Scotty came back into the room.

“I got the Antarean brandy,” Scotty bent down to pick up McCoy’s glass from where it had fallen earlier and set it aside. Grabbing a new one he set it beside his own and poured each of them a healthy helping. He handed it to McCoy, who took it gratefully.

“Sorry to drag you into all this.”

Scotty blinked, “There’s nothing to be sorry about. You needed help and I was happy to oblige.”

McCoy’s lips twitched into a smile, “Thanks, Scotty.”

“Anytime, heaven knows you’ve picked me up off the bathroom floor enough times. Remember that time with the Kelvans? What a disaster.”

“This was a bit different though, wasn’t it? Probably not how you imagined the night going.” 

“Doc, tonight when I heard ya fall, I figured I was going to end up drunk with a friend and sure it took an unexpected detour, but you know what I eventually ended up with tonight?”

“Drunk with a friend?” McCoy smirked.

“Exactly.”

“To friends then,” McCoy raised his glass.

Scotty smiled and clinked his against it, “To friends.”

They both drank and somewhere in space the Enterprise changed course for Vulcan.