McCoy ran his fingers over the two small forget-me-nots tattooed on Spock’s shoulder blade. Slow, light touches caressed the skin, as he remembered the days he had put them there. One, almost ten years ago, when he had been stationed on Starbase 17 and helped his friend at his tattoo parlor once or twice a week. The other one, he had done on the Enterprise during the first year of their mission.
“Do you still remember?” McCoy whispered into Spock’s ear, his lips brushing the outer rim. “The day you came to the shop?”
Spock nodded, pressing his back against McCoy’s chest.
McCoy smiled. Spock preferring to stay in bed and maintaining the contact after they had sex, was a fairly recent development. It didn’t last long, not more than five minutes, some days even less, but during those minutes Spock was almost clingy. Not that McCoy would ever tell him.
He stroked Spock’s arm and found the back of his hand. He waited, hovering above, just a hair’s breadth from touching. Spock took a deep breath, then slowly turned his hand palm up, and McCoy laced their fingers together.
“Will you tell me what they mean?” McCoy asked.
The silence stretched. McCoy laced and unlaced their fingers, his thumb drawing little eights on the inside of Spock’s palm. Spock let out a tiny sound, and he squeezed McCoy’s fingers to make him stop. McCoy chuckled and buried his face into Spock’s neck. A familiar bitter scent mixed with incense and the smell of sex surrounded him. It started to feel like home, and that thought disturbed him.
Spock stiffened and McCoy knew the cuddling part, as he liked to call it in his mind, was over. Spock disentangled himself and got up from the bed. McCoy turned his face into the pillow, sighing.
“I want to get a third one,” Spock finally said.
McCoy sat up, seeking Spock’s eyes. “You do?”
“I would not say it otherwise.” Spock presented his arm and pressed two of his fingers on the inside of his wrist. “Here.”
McCoy reached out and touched the soft skin there. “Why here?”
Spock closed his eyes. “Leonard.”
Hearing his name sent a shiver down McCoy’s spine. No one used his given name. No one but Spock and it was still so rare that every time felt heavy. And it shouldn’t. They weren’t in a relationship. It was just sex. Just a simple arrangement that shouldn’t mean anything.
“I will tell you, but not today.”
It sounded like a promise.
“I don’t understand, but have it your way,” McCoy said and got up. “Now, I need a shower.”
“Yes, you do.”
McCoy rolled his eyes. “Are you coming?”
After the fal-tor-pan, Spock sought McCoy out and requested the three tattoos to be done again. Two on his shoulder blade, one on the inner side of his wrist.
When it was done, and Spock touched his tattooed wrist with a soft expression, the warmth spread through McCoy’s body.
Spock asked for another two forget-me-nots to be added on his shoulder blade not long after Jim’s death. McCoy told him that he was too old, and his hand wasn’t as steady as it had been, but Spock insisted.
A few months later, when Spock’s mother died, he wanted another one done the day after her funeral.
McCoy started to see a pattern.
When the news about Sarek’s death had come, McCoy knew it was just a matter of time before Spock would ask again.
When he did, McCoy ran his shaking fingertips over the five little blue flowers.
“So, Spock, who is the first one for?” he asked. There was no point in beating around the bush anymore.
Spock’s shoulders tensed. McCoy pressed his palm against the shoulder blade, his heart calm. Spock relaxed.
“Michael, my sister.”
“Sister?” McCoy smiled widely. “Was she as cute as you?”
“She was human,” Spock replied curtly.
“Are you saying humans aren’t cute?”
“Leonard,” Spock sighed. McCoy could feel the exasperation over their bond and chuckled.
“You can tell me about her later. So who’s the second one for?”
McCoy nodded. He assumed as much.
“And this one?” He touched the next one.
McCoy hummed. “And Jim and your mother,” he said, touching the fourth and fifth.
“Yes,” Spock breathed out.
“Are you going to get one for me too when I die?”
Spock turned around. Fast. His eyes were wide. The confusion and hurt flowing through the bond were perplexing.
Spock rolled up the sleeve of his dark brown tunic, exposing his wrist with the small blue flower.
McCoy’s breath caught. He didn’t think—
At that time, back on the Enterprise, during their first five-year mission, it had been just sex. They had never given it a name. Not then. Not during their second five-year mission either. Only after Spock had died, and they had gotten together for the third time, after McCoy had renewed the tattoos, had they voiced their feelings aloud.
McCoy’s knees felt weak. He grabbed Spock’s shoulder for support. Spock stood up from the chair and put his hand around McCoy’s waist, pulling him closer.
“After the xenopolycythemia… and the Vians, I…” Spock’s grip on McCoy’s waist tightened.
McCoy swallowed. He vaguely remembered the change in their relationship around the time he tattooed Spock’s wrist for the first time, but it had been so long, almost like a different lifetime.
“It’s fine, Spock.” He cupped Spock’s face, thumb brushing his cheek. “It’s fine.” He kissed him. Just a short brush against Spock’s lips. The warmth of their bond was overwhelming.
Spock kissed McCoy’s forehead and guided him toward the sofa.
“You can do the tattoo tomorrow.”
McCoy hummed and reached for Spock’s left hand. He rolled up the sleeve again and brushed his fingers over the flower.
“Why here?” he asked.
Spock’s fingers joined McCoy’s over the tattoo. He didn’t say anything.
McCoy closed his eyes. “Tell me about your sister,” he said, leaning against Spock.
And Spock did.