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Mission Impossible

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Title: Mission Impossible

Author: Amanda Warrington

Pairing: Spock/McCoy

Rating: NC-17

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek or the characters, I just like to play with them sometimes.

This story is unbeta'd - all mistakes and typos are my own!

 

“I don’t know, but I like him.”

McCoy’s response to Kirk’s query regarding the identity of the Vulcan at the inquiry earned him a dirty look, which he pointedly ignored.  He didn’t care how Jim tried to dress up his justification, he was with the board on this one; Jim cheated on the Kobayashi Maru test.

The doctor found himself reassessing his first impression of Spock after he marooned Kirk on Delta Vega.  The Vulcan, he decided, was a cold-hearted, arrogant bastard, who wouldn’t know a decent feeling if it came up and bit him on his ass.

Later that same, long day, a further re-evaluation was needed when McCoy watched on, appalled, as Spock completely lost it on the bridge and tried to strangle the life out of Jim.  The pointy-eared hobgoblin did have feelings after all, it’s just he clearly had no idea how to express them appropriately.

These strangely contrary views of the Vulcan came to typify McCoy’s feelings towards Spock, depending on the situation the two of them found themselves at odds with – disagreement being an all too common occurrence between them.

-=-=-

Stardate 2258.64, CMO’s personal log, Leonard McCoy recording.  I’m feeling proud of my team today.  We carried out our third Medical Emergency Drill since leaving Earth three months ago and it went almost to clockwork with one of the highest efficiency ratings recorded.  After our first drill which was an unmitigated disaster with glaring holes in some of the procedures, we worked as a team to figure out how we could improve and I sent my findings to StarFleet’s Surgeon General, providing suggestions on how to improve the StarFleet Medical syllabus to make it more practical.  Theory’s all very well, but up here in the black, I’m all too aware it’s how you apply it that matters.  We’ve worked hard to get to this level and with the new high-tech equipment installed after med-bay’s part destruction in the Narada conflict, for the first time I really feel we’re ready to deal with anything Jim throws at us.  Though god knows, I probably shouldn’t tempt fate.

“How did it go, Bones?” Kirk asked as the doctor put his tray down before sliding onto a seat next to his friend.  McCoy glanced across the table at Spock sitting opposite the captain, realizing it was the first time he’d seen the Vulcan in the mess for at least a couple of weeks.  On the other side of the large room, he could see Uhura eating with Nurse Chapel.

“Good.  We’re up to 94% efficiency.”

“Good?  That’s awesome!”  Kirk beamed.  “In fact, that betters most other Constitution Class starships and your team are pretty much all fresh out of the Academy."

McCoy allowed a smile as he swirled spaghetti around his fork.

“Did you ever hear back from the Surgeon General on your report?” Kirk asked.

“Not yet.  To be honest, StarFleet Academy is run by a bunch of egotistical assholes, so I’m not expecting them to read it and see the light.  God forbid they should teach something that’s actually useful in the field.”

“The Academy,” Spock interjected, “is considered to be one of the foremost learning institutions in the Federation.  The results speak for themselves.”

“Well now Spock,” McCoy drawled, “you would say that given you were part of that institution.”

“I say it without bias, Doctor.  StarFleet has been a highly successful organization, without your input, for almost a century.”

McCoy noticed the not-so-subtle dig.  “Doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.  Look at the mistakes made at the Battle of Vulcan.  We lost half the fleet.  Talk about fools rush in.”  He saw Kirk tense out of the corner of his eye, but carried on.  “If it wasn’t for Boy Wonder here, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.  Thanks to you, Jim was supposed to have been left behind.”

McCoy felt an inner sense of triumph.  He’d been wanting to say that for a while and had bided his time, waiting for a suitable opportunity.

“While it was most fortuitous that the captain was present and able to present certain information, I cannot condone your action itself.  Rules are there for a purpose, Doctor.  If everyone behaved with such cavalier disregard, bending them to their purpose, anarchy would ensue.”

McCoy felt a bubble of happiness rise in him that Spock had fallen so neatly into his trap.  “Is that so, Spock?  So tell me you weren’t bending any rules when you switched Uhura from the Farragut to the Enterprise right before we departed.”

McCoy saw Kirk glance up sharply first at him and then at Spock.  And to McCoy’s satisfaction, he actually saw the Vulcan shift in his seat.

“Is that true, Spock?”  Kirk asked, an incredulous look on his face.

“I—” Spock began and fell silent.

“Spock?” Kirk prodded.

It wasn’t often the first officer could be ruffled and McCoy enjoyed basking in that moment.  He knew he shouldn’t have used the information Chapel had shared with him in that way – although she hadn’t expressly said it was confidential.  He was aware it was likely to get back, but he’d deal with that as and when.  Right now, he preened happily and scooped up a fork-full of ragu sauce.

“Yes, Captain,” Spock said quietly.  “It is true.”

Kirk opened his mouth to say something, and then apparently thought better of it, and focused back on his meal, while Spock sat rigidly upright, his mouth a thin line.

“Talking of Uhura,” McCoy broke the tense silence, enjoying himself immensely.  “Why are you sitting here instead of with her like you normally do?”

At the same time as McCoy felt a sharp kick against his shin, Spock abruptly pushed his half-eaten plate away and stood up.  “If you will excuse me, Captain,” he said, pointedly ignoring the doctor.

“Sure,” Kirk said looking up.  As soon as the Vulcan had stepped away, McCoy found himself the recipient of his friend’s angry glare.

“What the fuck was that for?” McCoy asked, rubbing his leg.  There’d be a bruise there by morning.

“Are you fucking dense, or is it just spite?” Kirk half-whispered.

Having crashed from his earlier high, it took less than a second for him to put all the clues together.  “What?  They’ve broken up?”

Kirk threw him a disbelieving look.  “Have you been living under a goddamn rock for the last few weeks?”

“I don’t pay attention to gossip, you know that.  If I did, it would drive me insane.  Did you know there’s a sizeable proportion of your crew think I got my CMO position because we’ve been fucking for years?”

Kirk looked outraged.  “Who’s been saying that?  I want names.”

McCoy was honestly quite unconcerned.  “You can’t transfer that many people, Jim.  When they get injured or sick and find themselves in my sickbay, they’ll learn quickly enough that I know my job and earned the position.”

Kirk grunted around a mouthful of food.

“So what’s the story with Spock and Uhura?” He put his hand up.  “I’m only asking so I don’t put my foot in it again.  Thank god I said it to Spock – if it’d been Uhura, I’d be looking to M’Benga to reattach my family jewels.”

Kirk shook his head and grinned.  “If she didn’t kill you first!”  His smile faded.  “They decided to call it a day.  Spock let me know and asked to schedule himself on beta-shift for a couple of weeks while they both adjusted, so there wouldn’t be a weird atmosphere on the bridge.  He’s only just resumed his normal shift pattern.”

“That’ll be why I’ve not seen much of him lately.”

“Yeah, he’s kept himself to himself even more than usual.  I got him to come to my quarters last night for a game of chess.”

McCoy took in his friend’s rueful expression.  “Beat the pants off you, huh?”

“And some.”  A look of steely determination appeared, one McCoy recognized all too well; the very same as the one he’d worn right before his third Kobayashi Maru test.  “But I’ll figure a way to beat him,” Kirk promised.  “I just hope your dig hasn’t sent him back into his shell again.”

McCoy felt a pang at his friend’s accusing words.

“I gotta go down to engineering.  Catch you later, Bones.”

As he watched Kirk leave, McCoy knew what he had to do.  He knew from his own experience that break-ups were painful and while the Vulcan might not profess to having feelings, he had clearly been affected by whatever had happened.  He might not like Spock much, but he knew how to separate his personal feelings from his behavior.

It didn’t take him long to run down Spock in one of the science labs.  Standing at the door, his presence was briefly noted by the Vulcan, before his attention was turned back to the electron microscope in front of him.

“I owe you an apology, Spock,” he said quietly.  “Jim told me about…  Well, anyway, I’m sorry it didn’t work out.”

Spock glanced up and held him with an unfathomable gaze.  “Apology accepted, Doctor.”

There was a tense silence.  “Right, well I’ll leave you to it.”

McCoy felt Spock’s intense gaze on his back as left.

-=-=-

Stardate 2258.84, CMO’s personal log, Leonard McCoy recording.  We’re on one of those text-book away missions that I learned about at the Academy, which should have been a cake-walk and instead is rapidly heading south.  We’re currently stranded on a Class M planet, one of only three in orbit around a star designated NGC 5385, which has been briefly visited twice by StarFleet scientific vessels.  Our brief was to collect samples of the local flora which are believed to have some interesting scientific and medicinal properties that have been deemed worthy of further investigation.  The beginnings of a severe storm has knocked out our communications and of the three teams, one led by Spock, one by Sulu and one by me, only mine and Spock’s have reached the rendezvous point.

McCoy switched his medical tricorder from record to scan mode.  “Any luck yet?” McCoy shouted over the wail of the wind.

“Luck, Doctor?  I am utilizing a systematic approach in order to regain communications with both the ship and Lieutenant Sulu.”

McCoy rolled his eyes and took that as a ‘no’.  He looked up at the darkening sky, flashes of lightening evident on the horizon.  Having lived most of his life on the Georgia coast, he had experienced more than enough hurricanes to know the winds were definitely still picking up.

“We need to find shelter, Spock.  This storm’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

“Doctor, might I remind you that this is the rendezvous point.  Without communication we cannot leave this place before the last team returns.”

McCoy glanced at the four ensigns huddled together, one looking on the verge of tears.  “If we stay here, we risk all of us getting killed.  We’ve got to find shelter now.”

“May I remind you that I am in command of the landing party, Doctor.  We will remain here until the outstanding team has located us.”

McCoy wanted to strangle Spock.  Instead, he walked over until he was almost nose to nose with the Vulcan so the others wouldn’t hear him.  “How many fucking storms like this have you actually experienced?”

“Vulcan was prone to severe sandstorms,” Spock responded.

That wasn’t an answer and he was getting to know the Vulcan well enough to recognize an evasion when he saw it.  “How many, Spock?”

Spock looked down.  “None, directly.”  He glanced up.  “However I have studied meteorology and am more than aware—”

He should have guessed.  “Fuck the theory, Spock,” he interrupted.  “I lived in a hurricane zone and I’m telling you that this is going to be one hell of a gale, and we won’t stand a chance if we don’t get out of it now.  There may be caves or hollows in those hills,” he said pointing to the east of where they stood.

Spock’s shoulders almost slumped.  “Then you leave. I will remain here for the others.”

“We can see for at least a mile in every direction – they’re not coming any time soon.  For all we know, Sulu’s got them hunkered down someplace, just like we should be.  It’d be suicide if you stayed here.”

“I cannot leave them,” Spock insisted.

McCoy cast his eyes around for inspiration and then his eyes lit up.  Picking up a small rock, he walked over to the huddled ensigns and leaned down.  “I need your help.  Find as many small rocks this size or slightly larger and bring them here.”

Spock walked over.  “What are you proposing?”

“You’re staying here over my dead body.”  That earned him a raised eyebrow.  “We’ll leave Sulu a nice big visual clue where we are if he makes it back here after we’ve gone.  All we need is to use these rocks to form the shape of an arrow pointing at those hills.”

Spock nodded and began to assist collecting rocks.  McCoy was relieved he wasn’t going to have to fight Vulcan stoicism.  Within minutes they had made a sizeable and prominent indicator.

“Now, let’s get the fuck out of here!” McCoy shouted.

It was a struggle as the winds continued to strengthen in ferocity.  The flashes of lightening were increasing in number and intensity, but at least there was no rain yet.  It would have been easier if they had been walking into a headwind, but it was actually at their backs and the two women, being lighter, were particularly prone to being blown over.  They were all having to shield their eyes from dust and debris being thrown up, as McCoy led the small group and Spock took the rear.

The accident was a freak.  They weren’t even close to the tree when it happened, but suddenly out of nowhere a large branch flew through the air and hit one of the female ensigns in the back of the neck.  He knew, before he’d got out his medical tricorder, from the angle of her head that she was dead, her neck snapped by the force of the branch.  There was nothing he could do – no amount of resuscitation would bring her back without the advanced equipment in his medical bay.

“She’s dead, Spock,” he shouted over the wind as he sat back on his haunches.  Beside him, the other female choked off a sob.

The Vulcan’s expression didn’t change.  “The severity of the storm is increasing, Doctor.  We must find shelter.”

McCoy stood up and began to pull the body up to carry it.

“It is illogical to burden yourself.  We must save ourselves.”

McCoy stared at Spock in horror.  “We can’t leave her here!”

“She is dead.  It is illogical to risk your life when hers is already lost.”

McCoy felt himself fill with rage.  “She’s a member of this crew you cold-blooded bastard!  We’re not leaving her here.”

“My blood is, in point of fact, four point—”

McCoy wanted to scream.  “Fuck you!”  he shouted and bent down.  This time, one of the other men stepped forward to help him hoist the body into a fireman’s lift.

“Your insubordination is noted, Doctor, and will be dealt with upon our return to the Enterprise.”

“Fine.  Just fucking ace.”

There was no way he was going to leave the body there, but his decision to carry it did severely hamper his progress and, he was all too aware, the progress of everyone else.  He knew, though, that Spock wouldn’t accept the suggestion that he be allowed to follow them at his own pace.  His back and legs ached and he occasionally stumbled as he battled staying upright against the increasing intensity of the wind.  Large drops of water began to fall intermittently as the sky darkened ominously, lit by ever frequent bouts of lightening.  The thunder which had been distant, was getting closer too.

When he dropped to his knee after stumbling again, he felt Spock grapple him to a standing position.  “Doctor, allow me,” he said, offering to take the burden from him.  McCoy’s pride demanded he hold onto her, but his pragmatism told him he’d get them all killed if they didn’t speed up.

His relief at being able to walk unhampered was heartfelt and suddenly, with the constant wind pushing at them, they made good progress, the hills looming up just ahead.  At this distance, he could see how rocky and craggy they were and his hopes of finding some form of shelter looked promising.

To try to keep together, McCoy got the three ensigns to hold hands.  McCoy took Spock’s and while at first, the Vulcan jerked his hand away, he finally allowed the doctor to take it.  In truth the measure was more for the doctor’s benefit as the Vulcan’s strength and body mass left him less vulnerable in these conditions, not that he’d ever admit that out loud.

One of the men ahead of them pointed and shouted something but the words were entirely lost.  McCoy followed the line of sight and could see it – a dark shadow in the craggy rock-face ahead.  They scrambled over loose scree and small rocks and as they neared, what had looked like a narrow fissure, turned out to be big enough and deep enough for them to squeeze into.

It was half a day before they regained communications with the Enterprise.  Sulu’s team were safe and well, having found their own hideaway.

McCoy sat in his office completing the report and the death certificate for Ensign Namita Perjab, as he now knew her name.  The first lost in the line of duty since the start of the mission.

“Doctor.”

McCoy almost jumped.  “For crying out loud, Spock, you nearly gave me a heart attack,” he scowled.  He guessed he was about to be formally informed he was on charges of insubordination.

The Vulcan stood stiffly just within the door.  “I have come to offer my apology.”

McCoy’s head snapped up.  “What?”  It was truly the last thing he expected to hear.

“My conduct on the away mission was unsatisfactory.  I am Vulcan and driven by logic and therefore do not always understand the nuances of Human emotionalism.  However, I do recognize the need for rituals, such as an appropriate funeral.  Your decision to countermand my order was a just one and as such, the charge of insubordination is dropped.”

McCoy realized his mouth was open and closed it, then opened it again, this time to speak.  This was not the time to wallow in victory, with Ensign Perjab’s death certificate half-completed on his padd.  Although he knew Spock would deny it, he knew him to be a proud man and the admission of a mistake, while logical, was not likely easy.  “Apology accepted, Spock,” he said quietly.

The two men looked at each other in silent understanding, broken only by the arrival of Kirk carrying a bottle of whiskey.

“Thought you could use a drink, Bones.”

“If you’ll excuse me, Captain, Doctor, I have reports to complete.”

Kirk watched him leave before turning back to McCoy.  “Everything alright?”

“Yeah, fine Jim.  Let me find us some glasses.”

-=-=-

Stardate 2258.93, CMO’s personal log, Leonard McCoy recording.  Answering a distress signal on an uncharted planet, sensor readings showed the remains of a small spacecraft, but no immediate sign of any life in the vicinity.  The planet’s twelve million humanoid inhabitants are primitive – equivalent to Earth in the Middle Ages – and so fall under the Prime Directive.  Because the crash site is close to a small community, we can’t go down to investigate.  In the forty eight hours since we took up orbit, awaiting orders from StarFleet on what to do with the craft, scanners have shown that a quarter of the community has died.  We’ve sent out probes to see if we can figure out the cause.  Results should be in any time now.

Spock entered McCoy’s office and stood just inside the door in what he’d come to think of as the Vulcan’s at ease stance, hands clasped behind his back.  “Telemetry from the probes have confirmed that a virus alien to this planet is responsible for the deaths and the infection is spreading rapidly.  I estimate it will have reached all but the most remote communities within ten days.”

McCoy stood up, alarmed.  “Have you ID’d the virus?  We can make up an antidote and have it ready—”

“Might I remind you, Doctor, that the Prime Directive precludes Starfleet personnel from interfering.”

The comment, despite its predictability, especially delivered in Spock’s monotone voice, incensed McCoy.  Walking around his desk, he stood directly in front of the Vulcan, well within his personal space.  “I don’t give a rat’s ass about the fucking Prime Directive.  There are millions of people who’ll needlessly die down there.  We can’t just sit here and let it happen when we have the means to prevent it.”

He watched as Spock inhaled slightly more deeply than usual, probably the Vulcan’s equivalent of a sigh.  “Nevertheless, the Prime Directive is a General Order and as such—”

“For god’s sake, the population’s being decimated, Spock!”

“It is unlikely the pandemic will kill off the entire population.  Natural selection will result in—”

“Don’t you even care?”  It was like talking to a robot, his anger going up another notch.  “By the time this virus has taken its toll, there’ll be so goddamn few of them left, it’ll be another species on the endangered list.  How can you cold-bloodedly stand back and let this happen after you watched billions of your own people—”

“Bones!” Kirk shouted as rounded the door and almost collided with his first officer in the doorway.  “You will apologize to Commander Spock, right now.”

Spock stepped to one side to allow Kirk to properly enter and McCoy fixed him with a glare.  “But—”

“I said now, Doctor!”  Kirk’s own anger was palpable as he stood rigidly, hands clenched in fists at his side.

McCoy didn’t need to be told he’d stepped over the mark.  Way over.  He’d wanted to get a reaction from that impassive façade, and he had.  Spock had visibly flinched at his words.  He swallowed hard and turned back to Spock.  Unable to look the Vulcan in the eye, he focused on a point over his shoulder.  “I’m sorry.”

“Apology accepted, Doctor.”

“Why can’t you two stand in a room together for once and not argue?  Don’t either of you recognize a stalemate when you see it?  Neither of you is going to convince the other he’s right, so let it go before it escalates into pettiness and spite.”

Already wound up, Kirk’s comment angered McCoy further because he knew the last part was solely aimed at him, but he managed to keep his voice down.  “This isn’t a fucking game of chess, Jim.  Millions of people – innocent children, are going to die.”

Kirk grasped the doctor’s upper arm in understanding.  “I know, Bones,” he said quietly.  “Don’t think I’m not frustrated as hell by this.  But you know as well as I do, we can’t interfere, no matter how much we want to.”

McCoy jerked angrily out of Kirk’s clasp.  “The Prime Directive’s already been violated – that’s why they’re in this situation.  This shouldn’t be about blindly following rules; it’s about doing what’s right.  Don’t you think we owe it to these people to help them?”

“StarFleet would argue that two wrongs don’t make a right.  Believe me, Bones, I’m not any happier about this than you are, but our hands are tied.  Rightly or wrongly, breaking General Order One is a felony offence that carries an automatic court-martial and jail sentence for anyone attempting to go down to the planet’s surface.  No-one on my crew is stepping foot down there.”

“But—”

“Bones.  Enough.”  Kirk was clearly exasperated as he turned to the first officer.  “Spock, Scotty and I need your help.  Can you come with me down to engineering?”

Kirk and Spock exited, leaving McCoy angry and embittered.  What kind of organization was StarFleet, if it thought it was okay to let this happen?  To see an innocent population almost wiped out of existence when they could easily stop it.  They were only three months into their five year mission and he was ready to quit.

“Goddamnit!” he shouted, hitting the wall.  The pain from the impact shot up his arm, but even that hurt couldn’t distract him from his feeling of utter helplessness in the face of such moronic and senseless bureaucracy.

With nothing better to do, McCoy returned to his desk and hooking up to the computer, studied the telemetry data for himself.  The bug, it turned out, was a harmless one to most, and already catalogued in the system as having its point of origin on Delta Aurigiae, although it was now fairly common Federation-wide causing little more than flu symptoms in those who were affected by it.

 

+++


“Doctor.”

Spock’s voice nearly made McCoy jump.  He had no idea how long had passed since the first officer had left his office with the captain, but it had to have been several hours.

McCoy’s eyes were tired from sitting in front of the console for too long and looking up, he pinched the bridge of his nose as his eyes slowly focused on the Vulcan.  “Yes?”

“As you are aware, the site of the crash, being in a sub-tropical zone, is prone to regular storms.  It is our intention to use the cover of one such storm to vaporize the craft using the ship’s phasers.  We will remain in orbit until such a time presents itself.”

“How long do you think?”

“I created an algorithm to predict the weather patterns in the region.  There is a forty three point two percent probability the next storm will occur within twenty four hours, rising to one hundred percent within the next five planetary rotations.”

By which time, McCoy thought bitterly, half the population will have been exposed to the virus.  His sense of defeat was overwhelming.  He ran his hand through his hair distractedly.  “Thanks for letting me know.”

“I have discussed a proposal with the captain and Mr. Scott that will allow you an intervention.”

McCoy abruptly stood, his heart racing.  “What intervention?”

“Through the detonation of biological warheads high in the atmosphere under cover of an electric storm, we will disperse the antidote to the virus.  By aiming them at the areas of densest population, the greatest number of inhabitants will be immunized.  Mr. Scott and his team are currently working to produce five devices.”

McCoy beamed at Spock, squelching any sarcastic comments about Vulcans maybe having hearts after all.  His earlier lethargy gone, he left his office, quickly heading in the direction of the path labs.  “We’ll need an antidote that works via the pulmonary system through inhalation.  How much of it do we need to manufacture?” he asked over his shoulder, as the Vulcan followed in his wake.

-=-=-

Stardate 2259.42, CMO’s personal log, Leonard McCoy recording.  Thanks to some great planning on StarFleet’s behalf, we’re in the middle of bumfuck nowhere on the first anniversary of the Battle of Vulcan.  Every other ship has managed to make port somewhere, but not us.  We’ve been here for a week studying the Swan Nebula and its thirty five host stars.  It truly is an awesome sight, but really, I think pretty much everyone wanted to be someplace else for this date.  Uhura worked with Jim to come up with a suitable way to commemorate this day and it went off well.  With the exception of the few seasoned hands who came from other ships or ground placements, everyone lost friends and fellow students.  It was the day I lost my CMO, Dr. Puri, and found myself with a battlefield promotion that was never rescinded.  At the event, Jim showed a maturity and a real command presence as he solemnly spoke, that took my breath away, and I could tell that Spock, who was standing beside me, was impressed.  Jim’s come so damn far from the beaten-up youth I met that fateful day on a StarFleet shuttle, though I guess he could say the same of me.  The ceremony was followed by a reception, after which everyone went their separate ways to spend time with their own thoughts and memories.  I’ve come back to my cabin, but I’m feeling too restless to stay here.

McCoy approached Spock standing silently at the great observation window, the colors of the nebula that fell through the transparent tritanium reflecting off his face.  “It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it?”

Spock didn’t turn.  “Indeed.”

A year ago he couldn’t have imagined wanting to be alone in the same place as Spock.  In that time, they’d grown more comfortable with each other and had learned to respect one another and the skills they brought to their respective roles.

McCoy walked to stand next to Spock.  “I’m sorry about your mother.”  He was sorry for the whole goddamn planet, but he couldn’t get his head around those kind of numbers.  It was easier to bring it down to the individual.  Kirk had described to him the look on Spock’s face as he’d materialized on the transporter, his arm held out trying to hold onto her.

Spock nodded at the words but remained silent.

McCoy looked out at the stark beauty of the nebula and wondered how he’d ever feared space when it held such sights as this.  “I killed my father,” he said quietly.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Spock’s head snap round.  “Doctor?”

“Leonard.  I’m not telling you this as a StarFleet officer.”

“Leonard,” Spock repeated, the first time he’d ever used the name.

“He had an untreatable disease and was wracked with pain.  I worked night and day to find a cure.  He begged me to allow him to die, to give him the means to take his own life.  I couldn’t help his pain – any treatment left him like a vegetable so he refused it.  In the end, I gave him what he wanted.”

McCoy swallowed hard at the memory.  How the expression on his dad’s face, lined with pain, gave way to peace in his final release.

“You granted him his wish, Leonard.  You did not kill him.”

McCoy almost choked.  “Three months later, a cure was found.”

Spock moved his hand and gently touched McCoy’s arm in an uncharacteristic gesture.  “I grieve with thee.”

“I didn’t tell you this for your sympathy, though I appreciate the sentiment.  I just wanted you to know that sometimes we try our best to do what’s right; but our best isn’t always enough to save the people we love.”

Spock nodded in apparent understanding.  “Would you care for a drink, Leonard?  I have a small selection in my quarters.”

The invitation surprised McCoy; he’d never been inside the Vulcan’s cabin before.  Even the chess matches Spock had with Jim always took place in the captain’s cabin.

Where Spock had managed to procure the bottle of Saurian brandy, McCoy didn’t like to ask.  They sat in silence as the Vulcan sipped tea and he steadily worked his way down the bottle.

The following morning, McCoy found himself in his own bed, clothed apart from his boots, the blankets thrown over him.  He wondered why he didn’t feel hungover until he saw the hypospray on the nightstand, evidently administered before Spock had left.  He’d forgive the Vulcan this once for practicing without a license.

As he lay on his bed, he contemplated the previous evening with Spock.  Despite the fact that the Vulcan could drive him up the wall, he couldn’t deny he enjoyed his companionship even when they weren’t talking.  The previous night, they’d been almost completely silent, apparently content just with the company of the other.

-=-=-

Stardate 2259.68, CMO’s personal log, Leonard McCoy recording.  Things have finally calmed down after the most intense two weeks we’ve had since the start of the mission.  The population of Beta Canaris, locally known as Lageni, had been threatened by a plague brought in by smugglers operating illegally out of a remote spaceport close to one of the planetary poles.  As the nearest spaceship, Enterprise had been sent to assist.  Spock and I headed a cross-departmental team to find a cure and faster than I would have believed, we had a breakthrough that saved literally millions of lives.  Unlike that last time on a primitive planet where our intervention never made it on any official report, Spock and I were lauded as heroes and Jim recommended us for citations which Admiral Pike endorsed.  While I get the whole public recognition thing, I hate that kind attention and Jim knows it, which is why I think he agreed to do a quiet presentation with just the senior crew present.  Once done, I couldn’t escape fast enough.

McCoy realized the observation deck wasn’t empty as the door slid open and a familiar silhouette faced the sparkling darkness beyond.  After hesitating a moment, he made his way over to stand beside Spock.

“I grieve with thee,” McCoy said after a pause, remembering the ritual words.

Spock nodded in acknowledgement.

“Didn’t Jim realize the date?”  To be fair, McCoy hadn’t, at first, either.  He’d been trying to figure out when would be the first anniversary of the destruction of Vulcan based on the length of a Vulcan year, knowing the former planet’s orbit about Eridani was longer than Earth’s about Sol.  After doing the calculations and translating it to a stardate, he had realized it coincided with the date of their presentation.  He’d thought about saying something to Jim but figured that was for Spock to do and so remained silent.

“The captain did, but only after Nyota informed him.  He approached me and asked if I wished to reschedule, but I saw no reason for it.”

Silence fell between them as each one contemplated the universe and their lives within it.

-=-=-

Stardate 2259.83, CMO’s personal log, Leonard McCoy recording.  On a routine mission, Jim and Federation Ambassador Hoxan – sent to Catullus to negotiate for mining rights to their pergium reserves – have been taken hostage.  It seems the Catullans weren’t entirely honest when they opened negotiations and the political system is far more unstable than that let on.  Open mining is the only way pergium can be retrieved, which leaves ugly scars across the surface, and the opposing faction are fighting the agreement on ecological grounds.  While I can understand their ideology, the taking of hostages and threatening their lives is utterly deplorable.  I know what StarFleet and the Federation’s stance on hostages is – a zero tolerance policy.  If we don’t get Jim out ourselves, he’s dead.

It was McCoy’s fifth visit to the bridge, but he couldn’t stay away.  He was driving his staff up the wall restlessly pacing up and down sickbay as they waited for the reaction to the news that there would be no negotiating for the hostages’ release.

“Any word, yet?” McCoy asked as he burst out of the turbolift.

Spock was at his station and swung his chair around.  “We are continuing to scan for the captain and ambassador’s life-readings, but have yet to locate them.  Your constant interruptions are distracting the bridge crew from their work.  Might I suggest you return to sickbay and I will contact you when we have any new information.”  His voice was quiet and calm and McCoy wanted to shake him, hit him, somehow get a reaction from him.

He managed to refrain himself and spinning around, left for his office.  He’d barely gotten there when Spock called him back.  McCoy ran down the corridor and wished the lift would go faster, almost exploding onto the bridge the moment the doors opened.

“We have been informed that one of the hostages will die in one tenth of a planetary cycle – two point six hours – unless the negotiations are permanently called off.”

McCoy felt an adrenaline rush at the news.  Jim may have only a few hours to live, he realized with a sense of foreboding.  “What’s the government doing to track Jim and the ambassador down?”

“At present, unknown, Doctor.  In addition to the message, ship's sensors show there have been explosions in two conurbations in the last twenty minutes although the ministers involved in the negotiation process are denying anything has taken place.  We are uncertain if the events are linked.”

“Probably are.  Standard terrorist tactics.”

“Indeed,” Spock concurred.  “If you will excuse me, Doctor.  I must continue scanning.”

McCoy sighed.  He was like a fifth wheel on the bridge, but hated to be away from the action.  He forced himself to leave to allow the crew to do their job.

Two point five hours later, he returned as the deadline neared.  The terrorists were refusing to give up their hostages.  The government were refusing to negotiate, backed officially by StarFleet.  It wasn’t looking good.

Please don’t let it be Jim.  Please don’t let it be Jim.

McCoy was unaware of the mantra going round and round in his head.  As the time neared, the atmosphere on the bridge seemed to thicken as tension mounted.  McCoy couldn’t stand it.

“For god’s sake Spock, isn’t there any more we can do?” he almost shouted.  Jim was too young to die.  He’d been abandoned by everyone except his loyal crew.

“Doctor.  You bring emotion to an already emotionally charged situation.  If you cannot desist from these outbursts I will have no further option but to remove you from the bridge.”

McCoy stared wide-eyed at Spock, not having heard that tone since the day he ejected Jim to Delta Vega.

“You’re not serious.”  He wanted to believe the Vulcan was bluffing.

“I can assure you I am.”  His face and voice were placidly calm.

“Jim’s life is depending on us.”  He glanced at the bridge chronometer and realized the deadline had passed.  “He may be dead for all we know.  We need to do something – think outside the box.  What would Jim do in this situation?”

“Commander Spock,” Chekov spoke up.  “I have an idea.”

It was another half an hour before the Enterprise was informed that Ambassador Hoxan was dead and that Jim would be next.  No deadline had been set.

By the time the rebels had communicated their statement, two shuttles had taken up orbit, and between the three craft, they triangulated the source of the communication.  Scotty temporarily diverted extra power to the scanner array, increasing the sensitivity and there it was, a single human lifesign only a few kilometers from the source of the terrorists’ communication.

Wherever Kirk was being held, was protected from transporters.  The rescue, Spock explained, would have to be done on the ground with a taskforce from the Enterprise.  He had no intention of informing the government of the discovery.

“I’m not staying here!” McCoy protested when Spock named the taskforce.  “What if Jim’s injured and needs immediate medical attention?”

“You are not sufficiently trained in combat to deal with the likely battle.  You are better served remaining here.”

“The fuck I am.  I’m coming with you.”  His fear made him more belligerent than usual.

“Very well.”

McCoy led the way into the turbolift and regained consciousness in sickbay.  “The fucking bastard nerve pinched me!  How long was I out?”  As he started to sit up, a wave of dizziness crashed over him.

Chapel glanced at the chrono.  “About twenty minutes.  And no, we’ve not heard anything.”

“If they don’t do it first, I’ll kill that fucking hobgoblin myself when I see him.”

Chapel held out a hypospray.  Moments later, his dizziness faded enough for him to swing his legs over the edge of the biobed.  “I’m going up to the bridge.”

“Shouldn’t you wait in the transporter room?” she asked mildly.

“No, but you can.  Take a crash team with you and a couple of antigrav gurneys just in case.”

“Anything?” he asked as soon as the doors opened.

Uhura swung round in her chair, a sympathetic look on her face.  Goddamnit, he wondered, did everyone know Spock had put him out?

“No, Sir.  They’re maintaining radio silence.”

“Shit.”  He felt totally strung out.

“Doctor, the High Minister is hailing us.”

For the first time, McCoy noticed Chekov had the conn.  Fuck.  “Budge over, kid, and watch some serious acting.”

Chekov returned to his seat.  Sulu’s was taken by someone McCoy vaguely knew normally covered the graveyard shift.

McCoy sat in the seat and realized it was his first time in the captain’s chair.  With the situation critical, he couldn’t have enjoyed the moment even if he’d wanted to.  “Patch him through, Lieutenant.”

“High Minster,” the doctor nodded sternly.  “I’m Commander McCoy.”  He couldn’t smile on order like Jim.

“Where is Commander Spock?” the man asked suspiciously.  It was McCoy’s first sight of this species.  He was very tall and thin, with a long gaunt face and wispy orange hair.

“He’s left the bridge to do some research.  Can I help you?”

“The ambassador’s body has been delivered to us.  You may retrieve him.”

“Can you have your people provide our communications officer with the coordinates.”

They were very efficient.  “Coordinates received, Commander,” Uhura said softly behind him.

McCoy swiveled in the chair.  “Send them down to Scotty.  There’s a medical team standing by in the transporter room.”

McCoy turned back to the screen.  “Thank you, High Minister.  Was there anything else?”  He thought it would at least be polite if they expressed regret for their greed leading to this clusterfuck.  Or was that too much to ask?

“That is all,” the High Minister said and his image faded from the screen, to be replaced by the green globe of their planet.

“Scotty,” Uhura said behind him through the comms channel direct to the transporter room.  “Spock’s requesting emergency beam-out, STAT.”  McCoy sprinted to the lift and made it to the transporter room in under thirty seconds.  He arrived to find bedlam.

Two security personnel and the captain injured critically, Spock and several others had more superficial wounds.

Spock was in a meld with Kirk, keeping him alive, McCoy guessed.  He’d been stabbed, the blade passing through his aorta and into a lung, collapsing it.  Severe internal bleeding, a transfusion was needed.

The doctor was in surgery for eight hours.  Kirk crashed once and McCoy thought he’d lost him when he didn’t immediately respond to the de-fib.  For the entire time, Spock stood in a corner of the theater observing, his attention swinging directly from what McCoy was doing, to a feed of it on a console next to him.  Ordinarily McCoy didn’t allow observers, but Spock had kept him alive long enough to get to sickbay, so he deserved to see the outcome of his actions.

When the surgery was finally done and Kirk was in ICU, rigged up to half the hardware in sickbay, McCoy sank exhausted onto his chair in his office.  Using the heels of his hands, he rubbed his tired eyes.  A few minutes later Spock entered.

“I have brought you coffee, Doctor.”  He placed the steaming mug in front of McCoy.

“Is this your way of apologizing for nerve-pinching me?”

Spock’s right eyebrow rose.  “Indeed not.  The action was a logical one.  Given the battle we faced upon our arrival, I was entirely justified in my decision that you remain on board.”

McCoy was too tired to argue.  Putting his hands around the mug he lifted it and inhaled the heady aroma before taking a sip.  It tasted damn good.  He was going to need it if he was going to stay up all night, sitting with Jim.

“I’m going to let it go for now.  But that doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven you, because I haven’t,” he scowled.  “And thanks for the coffee.  You’re a lifesaver.”

Spock’s lips quirked and McCoy held his breath wondering if the Vulcan was actually going to smile, but it didn’t widen any further.  “Apparently,” he quipped and left McCoy to it.

-=-=-

Stardate 2259.93, CMO’s personal log, Leonard McCoy recording.  I’ve decided that ferrying ambassadors and their entourages to conferences is top of my list of most hated duties, eclipsing even report writing and general bullshit bureaucracy.  The dress uniforms are uncomfortable and Jim’s told me I’ve got to watch my mouth.  I swear he’s told Spock to keep an eye on me, either that or the Vulcan’s taken a weird shine to my aftershave.  I’m told the mission could have been worse.  StarFleet carefully segregated any groups where potential conflict might occur across the three starships in attendance, so at least we didn’t have any diplomatic wars on our hands.  After three formal receptions on board with the kind of finger food that looks pretty but you have no idea what it is, and teases the palette but never satisfies the appetite, I’m glad we’re at least getting a full-on banquet on our arrival at Babel.  Spock mentioned his father will be there representing the Vulcan people, having been transported aboard the Lexington.

When McCoy walked into the transporter room, Kirk and Spock were already there and he stopped short and openly gaped, although fortunately they were too caught up in their own conversation to notice.  The two of them looked eye-catching in their dress uniforms.  He was used to Jim looking pretty, but Spock cut a positively dashing figure – albeit an exotic one – as he stood relaxed next to his captain.

Fuck, he thought. The last person he needed to be attracted to was an uptight Vulcan.  Talk about a hiding to nothing.

“Well, don’t you two scrub up well,” he drawled with a smirk.  “I predict you’ll be fighting off the ladies all night.”

Kirk grinned.  “I don’t think I’ll be fighting them all off – it’d be nice to score at least one.”

“How about you, Spock?” McCoy asked, amused by the not-quite non-expression on the first officer’s face indicating what he imagined to be mild horror at the thought.

“Since this is a diplomatic function, I do not anticipate any need for combat.  However I will reject any advances should the need arise.”

“Ah, you’ll be breaking hearts, m’boy, and don’t start giving me lectures on the likelihood of cardiac rupture,” McCoy quickly added with a scowl, “because you damn well know what I mean.”

Spock closed his mouth on the words he’d been about to utter as Kirk laughed and clapped him on the back.  Any further teasing would have to wait as Scotty and Uhura entered, with Chekov to work the transporter.

Opulent was the word that sprung to mind when McCoy first laid eyes on the banqueting hall.  Lamps threw off a subtle illumination from walls and the high ceiling, their clear crystal mounts refracting the light, casting sparkling rainbows onto the surfaces around them.  Huge pairs of glass doors lined one wall, framed by heavy, ornate drapes, each leading onto its own balcony.  Beyond them lay an elaborately designed garden filled with plants from around the Federation, their scent filling the warm evening air.

The meal had been sumptuous and McCoy had relished eating the freshly prepared food as he made polite conversation with his dinner companions.  For the most part, he was content to listen to their conversations.  Every now and again his eyes were drawn to Spock who was sitting further down the same long table as he was.  The Vulcan was striking at the best of times, but there was something about him this evening that McCoy couldn’t put his finger on.  Occasionally their eyes met and McCoy would immediately look away and engage one of his dinner partners in conversation.

After the meal was the ball and McCoy took up his usual position hugging a wall to watch.  He’d never seen so many different aliens in one place and was pleased to realize he recognized every species, having had to study xeno-anatomy and physiology as part of his course.

Of the three starship crews, theirs was by far the youngest.  Uhura seemed to be permanently surrounded by men and Kirk by women, flirting shamelessly as always.  McCoy could see he was in his element.  Spock had spent some time conversing with his father but now as he cast his eyes around the room, he was unable to locate the first officer.

“Doctor.”

McCoy spun around and scowled at Spock.  “Will you quit creeping up on me like that.  One day you’ll give me a heart-attack.”

Spock’s expression remained neutral yet McCoy could tell he was amused.  “While I would deny creeping anywhere, I would suggest that given the level of noise in this hall and the quality of the Human aural sensory modality, I believe I could have approached you in hob-nailed boots and you would have failed to hear me.”

McCoy barked out a laugh, too amused to pick up on the slur on his hearing.  He cocked his head in the direction of their captain.  “I told you he’d be fighting ‘em off.”

“The captain…appears to appreciate female companionship,” Spock agreed.

McCoy noticed the slight hesitation and looked at him.  “Not appears, Spock.  He does.  Despite rumors you may have heard on the ship to the contrary, he’s most definitely a ‘ladies man’.”

McCoy knew it wasn’t necessary to elaborate, given Spock’s oh-so-superior Vulcan hearing, as he would no doubt at some point have overheard the ship-board rumors concerning him and Jim, but he did, anyway.  “Jim and I have been best friends all through the Academy and we shared a room in our final year.  But there’s never been anything between us…and never will be,” he added emphatically.

“Indeed?”

McCoy felt Spock’s intense gaze on him as he uttered the one word.

“Hello Commander, would you care for a dance?”  A Centauran woman in a golden diaphanous gown had suddenly appeared in front of Spock.

“Thank you madam, but I must decline,” he responded with a slight bow.  “If you will excuse me,” he added to dismiss her. “Doctor?”  With that, he stepped out onto one of the balconies and McCoy obediently followed.

He took in a deep breath of the balmy air, the smell of the fragrant flowers in the garden below assaulting his senses.  “You don’t dance?” McCoy asked.

“I prefer to avoid it, especially as the style at these events requires physical contact.”

McCoy hadn’t really considered it before but it made sense that Spock wouldn’t want that kind of contact with strangers.

“I apologize for the erroneous conclusion I had drawn regarding you and the captain.”

McCoy shrugged.  “Don’t worry about it, I’m pretty used to it now.  Though I am surprised, as you don’t normally jump to conclusions without adequate data.”

Spock’s lipped quirked slightly.  “I had data; it was merely incorrectly interpreted.”

“My god, are you actually admitting to making a mistake?” McCoy grinned  “Wait, wait, what data?”

“You and the captain spend a great deal of your free time in each other’s company.”

“So do you and Jim,” McCoy pointed out.

Spock inclined his head in acknowledgement.  “You are highly emotional when he is in danger or injured.”

McCoy couldn’t argue with that.  “I do love him, Spock, just not in a sexual way.”  Something he didn’t care to analyze prompted him to add, “It’s not that I couldn’t love him that way too; I could.  But even if Jim felt that way about me, he’s young and not even close to being ready to settle down, and I wouldn’t want an open relationship.  I’m too old-fashioned for that.”

“You were married.”

“Right.  See?  Old-fashioned.  And when Joss decided to open up the relationship, I walked out.”  As soon as the words had left his lips, he felt himself flush with embarrassment and stared at his feet, hoping Spock wouldn’t notice.  It was a subject he never spoke of, especially sober.  Until now, Jim was the only person he’d shared his pain with.  “Sorry, you didn’t need to know that.”

“An apology is unnecessary, Leonard.”

The tone of Spock’s voice and the rare use of his given name made him look up.  There was understanding in the dark eyes that quietly regarded him, but the intensity of the moment became too much for McCoy and he turned to face the gardens.

“I bet you could name every one of those plants.”

Spock’s eyes lingered on him a few moments longer and then he, too, turned to follow the doctor’s gaze.  “Perhaps not every variety, but most likely the genus and planet of origin,” he agreed.

There was a comfortable silence between them.

-=-=-

Stardate 2260.24, CMO’s personal log, Leonard McCoy recording.  During a routine physical, M’Benga discovered that I’ve contracted xenopolycythemia, for which there’s not only no known cure, but it’s always fatal.  Since the pathogen affects its host differently, I have no idea how long I have.  I’ve sworn M’Benga to keep this confidential for the time-being.  While I’ve been feeling more tired than usual, lately, I’ve not had any other symptoms, for which I’m grateful.

McCoy filled his glass for the sixth time, his actions becoming increasingly uncoordinated.  It was the way he always dealt with bad news – just drink himself into a forgetful stupor, although he hadn’t done it since the start of their mission.

“Doctor.”

Spock stood in his doorway and even through his bleary vision, he could see disapproval in the dark gaze, which he pointedly ignored.

“Drinking alcohol until you lose consciousness is illogical.”

“Fuck off, Spock.”

The Vulcan ignored him.  “Should you wish to lose consciousness, you have a number of sedatives at your disposal.”

“Yeah, but they don’t taste as good as this.  Now piss off before I offend you with an emotional display.”

McCoy lifted the full glass but it never made it to his lips.  Faster than the doctor would have thought possible, Spock was at his side, holding his wrist in an iron grip and causing the amber liquid to slosh onto his desk.  Suddenly with a gasp the Vulcan released McCoy.

“You are unwell,” he said quietly, “and you grieve for yourself.”

“How dare you fucking read my mind without my permission, you pointy-eared bastard,” McCoy shouted in righteous indignation as he slammed the glass onto his desk, spilling the contents further.  The last thing he needed was for this to get out.  M’Benga had no choice but to maintain patient confidentiality under his Hippocratic Oath, but Spock was under no such restriction.

“Leonard,” Spock said quietly and that was all it took, his name spoken with such concern from a being who professed not to feel, and tears filled the wide, hazel eyes and spilled over to flow down his cheeks.  Embarrassed, the doctor buried his face in his hands.

“Fuck,” he finally said once he’d gotten the tears under control and reached to a box of tissues he kept on his desk, usually for distraught crew who’d just been diagnosed with an STD, or those occasions he played counselor, though he’d never understood why anyone would want to come and spill their guts to a grumpy bastard like himself.  After blowing his nose, he turned bloodshot eyes back to Spock.

“I’ve got xenopolycythemia.”

“I am unfamiliar with the disease.”

“It affects the blood, causing a slow loss of erythrocyte replacement.  Since there’s no known cure, I'll eventually die from organ failure due to oxygen starvation.”

“There may be no cure at present, but that does not preclude us from finding one.”

McCoy laughed without humor.  “Forget it, Spock.  Don’t you think the brightest and the best haven’t already tried?”

“Your argument is illogical.  Your supposition is based on a belief there is no cure, yet you know yourself that even in the face of impossible odds, cures have been found for what was previously considered incurable.”

McCoy was angered by the not-too-subtle reference to his father.  If Spock had wanted to provoke an emotional reaction, he was certainly going to get one.

“How dare you throw that in my face, you bastard.”

“I am merely pointing out the error of…giving up hope.  It would appear that the universe provides an antidote to every disease.  It is simply a matter of applying the correct, rigorous research to identify it.”

The words were enough to pull McCoy from his despondent mood.  If he thought Spock would accept it, he would have got up and hugged him.  Instead he rummaged around in a desk draw and pulled out a hypo.

“I need to get me sober before we go on,” he said and jabbed it hard against his neck.  The sting wore off, seemingly taking with it the fuzziness and standing up, he found his limbs responding correctly to the commands from his brain.

M’Benga worked with them, keeping their research a secret and largely conducting it in their spare time or the occasional quiet periods as they traversed the vast distances of space between destinations.  It took three months for them to find the cure, or rather for Spock to finally figure it out.  Before the slow and painful treatment began, he finally informed Jim.

“Bones, why didn’t you tell me sooner?”  His friend looked genuinely hurt as he sat across from him in his office.

“What was I supposed to say, Jim?  Oh by the way, just to let you know I’m dying?”

“You told Spock,” he said, almost as an accusation.

“No I didn’t.  The sneaky bastard picked it up – read my mind – and then the fucker wouldn’t let it go.”

“What?  Whoa – when did he read your mind?”

McCoy related the event.  “Green-blooded asshole wouldn’t let me wallow,” he concluded.

“It’s not like you to give up,” Kirk said, concerned.

“You know, after that time, I thought about that.  When it’s other people, you’re right, I can be a tenacious bastard.  But I’ve got a history of it when it comes to me.  Look at how I let Joss fleece me in the divorce.  And when I did my med degree, I was offered a full scholarship at Harvard – the best med school on Earth – but my old dad was a Mississippi alumni and wanted me to go there.  I never even told him about the Harvard offer.”

“Yeah well I was like that when I grew up.  Then one day something inside me snapped when I realized the only person who needed to run my life was me.  I didn’t make some great choices early on but luckily Pike found me before I completely self-destructed.”

The words resonated for McCoy.  Even getting on that shuttle, Pike had recruited him, too, and he’d just gone with the flow.  In fact, even up to this point nearly two years into their mission, he still let life take him without making conscious decisions.  He hadn’t even asked for his promotion and his job on the Enterprise.  Perhaps he should consider what it was he wanted from life and start to proactively reach for it.

“And the rest, as they say, is history,” he said grinning at Jim.  “I’m not allowed any alcohol while I’m going through the treatment, so what do you say to a session tonight in my quarters?  I’ve got a bottle of Tennessee whiskey I’ve been keeping back for a special occasion.”

“You sly old dog!” Jim grinned.  “You realize next time you say you’re clean out of decent liquor I’m not gonna believe you?”

McCoy beamed back.  “That’s fine.  But I bet you never find out where I keep my stash.”

The two men left sickbay, hips bumping, as Jim slung an arm around his shoulder.

The day before the treatment began, McCoy gathered his medical team together in sickbay and informed them of his condition and the research he, M’Benga and Spock had undertaken to discover a cure.  A few minutes later Chapel came into his office, an odd look on her face.

“Christine?” he said looking up as she approached his desk.

“I didn’t put two and two together until now,” she said as she stood behind the guest chair.  “Pretty much every time I’ve been scheduled onto gamma shift, Spock’s been working in the path lab.  I guess he really wanted to find that cure.”

McCoy swallowed hard.  “Yeah, I guess.  I owe Spock and M’Benga big time.”

Chapel smiled.  “It’s nice to know you’re loved.”

With that enigmatic comment, she left.

McCoy’s thoughts were all over the place.  Part of him felt enormous gratitude that Spock had put so much effort into finding the cure, and part of him was angry that he’d neglected his own welfare to do it.  Because he’d always been so contrary, it was this latter point that dominated his thoughts and caused him to track the Vulcan down.

“What the hell were you thinking working every night on the research and tests?” McCoy demanded when he found Spock in his office adjacent to the science labs.

The Vulcan regarded him placidly  “Good afternoon, Doctor,” came the laconic response.

“Don’t you get evasive with me, I want to know what you were thinking.”

“That was hardly evasion.  I merely greeted you, as is normal practice among both our species when first seeing another.  As for what I was thinking, you will have to be more specific.  Vulcans are capable of processing in excess of forty thousand thoughts in a solar day, over four times as many as Humans.”

“You know damn well what I’m talking about, asshole.”

Spock didn’t flinch at the epithet.  McCoy had expanded his repertoire of names for the Vulcan one night when he’d thought they’d had a breakthrough in their research, but then it turned out they hadn’t because the formula didn’t add up.  He’d turned to a bottle of whiskey to drown his sorrows and when Spock had tried to prevent him, he’d lashed out in frustration.  When he’d realized his words had actually affected Spock, he’d explained that he didn’t mean the names he used, they were terms of endearment, just as he called Jim jackass and moron on frequent occasions.  Spock seemed to accept the explanation and it had not been an issue in their frequent bickering since.

“You deprived yourself of adequate rest,” McCoy continued, his voice raised, “and you didn’t tell me because you knew I’d be pissed.”

“As you are aware, Vulcans require far less sleep than Humans and can go for long periods without a break.  I chose not to inform you because I expected exactly the illogical outburst that I find myself faced with.  Your propensity for over-emotionalism is quite predictable.”

“Don’t you presume to lecture me about emotions since your own actions are highly questionable.”

Spock’s eyebrow rose.  “How so, Doctor?”

“Where’s the logic in working yourself into the ground?  It’s not like I was at death’s door, so it wouldn’t have mattered if it had taken a month or two longer.”

“I did not, as you say, ‘work myself into the ground’.  I found the challenge to be intellectually stimulating and frequently found myself absorbed by the research I was conducting.”

McCoy shook his head.  “So you did it because it was like a mental masturbation?”

“I did not—”

McCoy raised his hand to cut the Vulcan off.  “Spare me the indignation, Spock.  You’re saying the effort was purely for the research and nothing to do with me?”

Spock stared at him and McCoy knew he’d won because the Vulcan would never outright lie.

“Yeah, well, I love you too.”

With those words, he strolled out of Spock’s office, grinning to himself.

-=-=-

Stardate 2260.52, CMO’s personal log, Leonard McCoy recording.  I’m kinda glad the anniversaries of the Battle of Vulcan and the start of the five year mission are so close together.  It means people don’t stay morose too long because for the second year running, Jim’s made sure we celebrate surviving another year in space.  Last year it was a big party in the mess.  This year, it’s shoreleave on Wrigley’s and man is the excitement almost tangible.  I can’t say I’m too excited myself.  I’ve never been one for meaningless sex like Jim.  But it’ll be good to stock up on some decent booze.  More privately for Jim, this is also the time for him to celebrate getting his captaincy, which he did last night with Spock and me in his cabin.  As usual, the hobgoblin and I had a difference of opinion over something or other and Jim accused us of behaving like an old married couple.  It sure shut Spock up and I found myself thinking, ‘I wish’.  En route to Wrigley’s, we’re stopping off at a Federation outpost to check all is well, as nothing’s been heard from them in the last three weeks.

“Scans show no sign of life, Captain,” Spock said from the science station.

“No sign of life – what?  They’re dead or not there?”

“They are not there.”

McCoy stood at the back of the bridge out of the way, wondering what the hell had happened to over thirty people.  He felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise.

“That’s impossible,” Kirk said, swinging his seat around to face the first officer.  “I mean, not your observation, Spock, just…how?  Any signs of a struggle?”

“Negative Captain.  No indication of phaser or photorp fire on the planet’s surface.  Typically the scorch marks remain for a minimum of months and longer dependant on atmosphere and meteorological patterns.”

“Speculation?”

McCoy automatically looked at Spock to see his reaction to being asked to guess, and suppressed a grin since this was a serious situation, even if he was inwardly amused.  Spock’s slow blink said it all.

“There are two probable grounds for their disappearance.  The first, that they chose to leave without informing anyone.”

“Unlikely,” Kirk cut in.

Spock nodded.  “As you say.  The second is they were abducted.”

“Nothing else?”

“The odds of a theoretical space-time-displacement appearing such as a worm hall, is statistically unlikely.”

Kirk smiled and nodded.  “Fair enough.  So abducted, by who?”

McCoy wondered if Spock would pick up on Kirk’s bad grammar, but he appeared to let it go, perhaps because of the public nature of the discussion.

“Unknown.  We are well within Federation space – it is unlikely either the Orion syndicate or the Klingons would perpetrate such an act, since there is insufficient justification.”

“Unlikely but not impossible.  We need clues.”  Kirk stood up.  “Right, Spock and Bones with me to the transporter room.”

“Sir, I cannot allow you to go to the planet’s surface,” Spock said, physically placing himself between the captain and the turbolift.

Kirk stopped, standing almost nose to nose with Spock, his hands on his hips and a belligerent look on his face.  “My ready room, now.”

Although McCoy wasn’t invited, he followed anyway.  As soon as the door shut, Kirk rounded on Spock.

“How many times do we need to have this fucking argument, Spock.  You can’t wrap me in cotton wool.  I want to see for myself what the hell happened.”

“I am not wrapping you in cotton wool.  I am following landing party protocol in which it is stated—”

Kirk’s face reddened as his anger grew.  “Don’t start quoting fucking regulations.  I know them off by heart – it doesn’t mean they’re right.”

“I am aware that some appear non-sensical, however in this instance I believe there is a sound basis for them.”

McCoy agreed and was about to say so when Kirk pointed a finger at him.  “Don’t you fucking dare back him up, Bones.  You’ve broken more rules than you’ve followed.”

“Spock’s right, Jim.”

Kirk laughed, half in amusement, half in frustration.  “Great, just great.  The first time you two actually agree with each other is in an argument with me.”

McCoy had to agree that the timing wasn’t great from Jim’s perspective and smiled.  “Don’t you think that if the two most important people in your life are trying to tell you something, that maybe, just maybe, we might be right?”

Kirk looked at him and then at Spock.

“Jim, if the outpost staff were abducted by hostile aliens, it is not beyond the realms of possibility there may be another attack, particularly if there is something on this planet that they want.  In which case, you must remain here to protect your ship and crew.”

McCoy knew it for the trump card that it was and watched as Kirk’s shoulders slumped.  “Then no-one’s going down.”

“That is illogical.  We have been ordered to investigate.  The landing party should consist of the doctor, to investigate any signs of disease, a forensic scientist from my team will accompany me, together with three security staff.”

“I don’t like this,” Kirk admitted and left for the bridge.  As he sat down in his chair, he glanced towards the turbolift which Spock and McCoy were about to enter.  “I want you in continuous communication.  Just…just humor me, okay?”

“Very well, Captain.”

“I gotta say,” McCoy said as soon as the doors had closed.  “I’m with Jim on this.  The hackles on my neck…” He touched his nape as he said it and shook his head, a shiver running through him.

“While the situation is perplexing, there is no evidence to suggest—”

“This isn’t about evidence.  It’s intuition.  Don’t you ever get a feeling—” McCoy trailed off, looking at Spock.  “No, I don’t suppose you do.”

The base where the staff had been housed was located at the foot of a series of natural terraces, each step marked by a curved cliff, that continued up several thousand meters.  A stream that ran close by had carved out a deep ‘v’ into the rocks as it cascaded down from a point of origin high up.  The place was entirely deserted, with no sign that any conflict had taken place.  McCoy wandered around with his medical tricorder while Spock and Lieutenant Wang tried to ascertain how long it was since the outpost personnel had gone missing, each of them trailed by a member of security.  Ensign Jeffers, who was looking after him, looked bored and sullen.

“Anything, Bones?” Kirk’s impatient voice came across the open channel.  “No Jim.  No microbes or pathogens that I can find beyond what’s recorded for this planet.”

“Spock?”

“Evidence suggests a hurried evacuation took place approximately twenty three point seven planetary cycles ago.”

“Approximately?”  Kirk’s amused tone was clear.  “I can always…shit!”  The red alert klaxon could clearly be heard through their communicators.  “We’re under attack!  Protect yourselves.”

Spock came running out of a building into the center of the compound, Ensign Wang and two security men in his wake.  A moment later, the building behind them exploded, metal and rubble flying in all directions.  Spock leapt forward, throwing McCoy to the ground and landing on top of him.  McCoy pushed him off.  “We can’t stay here.”  As the dust settled, he realized the blast had caught all but the two of them.  Just as he started to get up to go check on the others, another explosion rocked the ground, throwing him back down.

“We need to find shelter, Spock.  Spock!”  McCoy looked in horror to see a piece of metal sticking out of the Vulcan’s back, as a large green stain spread across his uniform shirt.  More blood seeped from a wound to his head.  Beside him, Ensign Jeffers came to.

“Thank god,” said McCoy in relief, willing to acknowledge any deity at this point.  “Help me – Spock’s injured and we—”

Another explosion sent more rubble raining down on them.  Jeffers didn’t need to be asked a second time and with McCoy’s help, got Spock into a fireman’s lift.  McCoy winced, remembering the last time he’d carried someone like this had been an ensign’s dead body.  He prayed to those same deities that Spock would be okay.

Staggering under the weight of Spock, his unnaturally high body temperature seeping into him at every point of contact, McCoy headed towards the face of the cliffs.  “Are there any overhangs or caves we can take shelter in?”

“I’ll do a scout, Sir,” Jeffers said and ran off ahead.  Another bombardment took out the last building standing, this time further away.  Whoever was doing target practice, McCoy decided, was a lousy shot.  That or Jim was keeping them too busy to be more accurate.

“Sir, over here!” Jeffers shouted from behind a small clump of trees close to the bank of the stream.  McCoy focused on getting there, ignoring his aching muscles.

Jeffers had found a small cave that was barely high enough to stand in, and no more than three meters wide and five deep.  McCoy carefully lowered Spock to the ground, keeping him on his stomach and immediately got out his tricorder to check his vitals.  The flow of blood from the wound seemed to have slowed, as the stain wasn’t getting wider.  A check and he realized with relief it had narrowly missed puncturing either a lung or a kidney, somehow wedged between the two.

Using the contents of his medkit, he pulled up Spock’s shirt to under his armpits and did his best to create a sterile field around the wound.  After a short consideration, he decided quick would be better and yanked out the small metal plate.  Immediately the wound bled, but he quickly stemmed the flow using a portable regenerator.  That done, he pulled the tunic down and turned to the head-wound.  His read-out told him there was a small hairline fracture of the skull, but no bone pressing into the meninges.

“Sir, permission to go check on the others?” Jeffers asked quietly.  He’d been sitting on his haunches at the cave entrance for several minutes.  There hadn’t been any explosions for a while, but the battlefield wasn’t his area of expertise.

“What’s your assessment of the situation?” McCoy asked.

Jeffers looked up at the sky, as if it would provide answers.  “I don’t know what’s going on up there, but they’ve stopped firing on us.  I think we should see if any of the others are alive.”

He was right.  It was McCoy’s job to preserve life, but that also meant protecting those who were uninjured, too.  Maybe one or more of the others had non-life threatening wounds like Spock, but untreated would perish.

“Is it safe?”  It was the only question he could ask in the end.

“Hard to say, Sir.  But by my reckoning, I would say yes.”

“Okay.”

Less than thirty seconds later another explosion erupted, filling the cave with dust and debris, followed seconds later by an ominous rumbling.  Before McCoy could react, daylight was blotted out by falling rocks until only a few small chinks were visible.

“Fuck.”

McCoy rummaged in the field kit Spock still had strapped around his waist and found a flashlight, small for portability, but one that was capable of giving out a surprisingly bright, wide-dispersal beam.  It took him only a minute to realize he didn’t have the strength to move the rocks on his own.

He tried his communicator and then Spock’s.  Neither of them were functioning, or maybe there was a reason the Enterprise wasn’t answering.  With nothing else to do, he focused on Spock, taking only minutes to fix his head wound.  Aside from the obvious fact that he was unconscious, McCoy had no idea how Vulcans reacted to concussion, but to be on the safe side, he pulled him into a three-quarter prone position just in case he vomited.  Sitting beside him, he took Spock’s hand, as much a gesture of comfort as affection.

As Spock lay beside him, unmoving, not for the first time, he wondered how on Earth he could have fallen in love with a Vulcan.  Was it the universe’s way of having a laugh?  Mocking him and his emotionality by having him be drawn to a member of the most non-emotional race in the Federation.  A thought struck him, then, that that wasn’t strictly true.  Vulcans did have emotions, they just controlled them and didn’t act on them.  Often.  Given their relative strength, McCoy didn’t think that was a bad thing.

This was no platonic love, he felt; intermingled with his feelings was desire.  He was no stranger to homosexual sex from his younger, pre-Joss days, when wild experimentation was encouraged among the young medical students, especially as they were all such experts on Human anatomy.  He had no idea, though, what Vulcan mores were, but supposed that since the union of a pair of the same sex would produce no progeny, that it would be considered illogical.  Still, he’d had a relationship with Uhura, not necessarily with the goal of procreation, so maybe there was some illogic to them after all, not that they’d admit it, of course.

“Are you aware, Leonard—”

McCoy was so shocked by the unexpectedness of Spock’s voice that he dropped the hand he’d been stroking.

“Goddamn.  Fuck.  You asshole!  You trying to scare the shit out of me?”  McCoy’s heart was hammering in his chest.

“I can assure you I would not deliberately provoke such an unhygienic reaction.”

“Damnfool Vulcan.  How’s your head?”  Just the fact Spock hadn’t tried to sit up already told him much.

“I am experiencing some pain and dizziness.”

“I’ve got something for that,” he said rummaging around in his medkit.  Unlike Jim who flinched even before the hypospray made contact, Spock lay inert while he pressed it to the Vulcan equivalent of the carotid artery.

“What is our current status?” Spock asked as he gingerly sat up, wincing as he did so.

McCoy described what had happened and gave Spock a rundown of the wounds he’d treated.  The Vulcan slowly pushed himself to his feet.

“What the hell are you doing?” McCoy asked angrily.

"Since I am now able to move without the risk of losing consciousness, it is logical that we attempt escape from our prison. I wish to determine if I have the strength to move the rocks blocking our exit."

Spock pushed at the two rocks highest up, but neither of them budged, and McCoy saw him wince in pain. Spock turned at the sound of the tricorder and pushed the instrument away from him. "I'm quite all right, Doctor."

McCoy scowled. "You'd say that if you were at death's door. You're almost as bad as Jim."

Spock picked up the tricorder and, after a few adjustments, aimed it at the rock, activating it. After glancing at the read-out, he slowly sat back down, his back to the cave wall. "I am capable of dealing with more pain than a Human and have the facility to heal my own body."

McCoy sat next to him, crossing his legs.  “Oh so you’re saying you don’t need me, then?”

“I did not say that,” Spock corrected, his voice soft.  Leaning sideways, he took one of McCoy’s hands.  It felt hot and dry surrounding his and he forced himself not to jerk it away.  Wasn’t greater intimacy what he wanted?

“As I began to say when I regained consciousness,” Spock almost whispered, “are you aware that not only is the hand one of the most sensitive areas on the Vulcan body, and the conduit of telepathic thought, but among Vulcans, the touching of hands is considered intimate?”

McCoy passed a calloused thumb over Spock’s knuckles and heard the Vulcan’s slightly indrawn breath in response.  Of course he knew they had far more nerve bundles in that area than Humans, but had always assumed it was to do with their telepathy in some way.

“Over the two years we have worked together, we have grown close, have we not, Leonard?” Spock said, his gaze intense.

“Well, I knew I had, but I wasn’t sure about you,” McCoy said honestly.  He’d always wanted to think so.  There had been special moments of closeness that he’d suspected Spock shared with him and no other.

“It is mutual,” Spock confirmed.  “I am uncertain why I am drawn to the most emotional being on the ship, but I find you fascinating.”

McCoy’s heart skipped a beat at those words.  “Opposites attract?”

Spock tilted his head to one side.  “Are we so opposite?  We are both private individuals, not always understood.”

“Not easy to love?”  McCoy grinned.

“Perhaps.”

McCoy watched entranced as Spock brushed two fingers up and over his own, repeatedly, his face a picture of peace.  “How long have you been attracted to me?” McCoy was curious.

“From the beginning of the mission.  However, I believed at the time you were involved with Jim.  It was not until Babel that I understood my erroneous assumption.”

McCoy looked down at his crossed legs, shyly, unable to say what he wanted to Spock’s face.  “When we stood alone on that balcony, I wanted to kiss you.”

Spock moved his free hand to cup the back of McCoy’s neck and pulled him closer, leaning forward himself until their noses were only a few centimeters apart.  McCoy unconsciously wet his lips with his tongue as, with a soft sigh, the Vulcan tilted his head and closed the gap.

The kiss, when it came was soft, and hot in every sense of the word.  Their mouths seemed to mold together, tongues touching, tasting, mapping.  McCoy had kissed a few people since Joss, though it had gone no further than that, but nothing matched what he experienced now, as the kiss alternated between playful and erotic, with nibbles, bites and sucks, tongues curling and sliding against each other, all in the furnace of Spock’s mouth.  It was as though he was transported to another world, as he temporarily forget their dire circumstances and the fact that, against all odds, they’d survived, at least for now.  It was his eventual need for more air than the light gasps he’d managed, that finally ended the kiss.

McCoy kept their foreheads in contact, unwilling to move further away from the mesmerizing mouth than that.  “Fuck Spock, if I’d known you were that good, I’ve have suggested this ages ago.”

“I might say the same,” Spock admitted wryly.

“This isn’t the most auspicious of occasions to be finding this out.  Part of me wants to take this further, but the good sense in me says you’re injured and now wouldn’t be a good time.”

“I am not made of glass, Leonard.  My injuries are largely superficial.”

McCoy grinned at the inference.  “Are you saying you want to have rampant horny sex with me here?”

“I would not have used precisely those words, nevertheless, I would not be averse to exploring further.”

The words, we may never get out of here, remained unspoken between them.  It prompted McCoy to pull out his communicator and attempt to hail the ship, but all he got was static.

McCoy didn’t want to think about the possibility the Enterprise hadn’t made it.  Jim was the best captain in the fleet.  Hell, he’d saved the Earth.  He had faith.

McCoy grinned.  “Can you imagine if we were fucking when Scotty decided to beam us up?”

“You are aware our communicators are not functional.  Unfortunately, according to the tricorder reading, neither the ship’s sensors nor the transporter can penetrate this rock.”

“So they’re not going to know we’re alive.”

“Jim is very thorough.  When he is able, he will order a visual search, and without either of us cautioning him to remain on the ship, I am certain he will undertake the task himself.”  There was a small smile on Spock’s lips.

“Yeah, he will,” McCoy agreed and had every faith in their friend and captain.

“I believe a horizontal position would be most efficacious for what I desire to experience with you,” Spock said quietly.  “With you on top.”

McCoy tipped out the contents of his medikit so Spock had something to rest his head on, rather than hard rock.  When the Vulcan was prone, he lay down on top of him, feeling the heat of him seep through his uniform as he rested his legs between Spock’s.

With a hand on the back of his neck, he was encouraged to close the gap, pulled into a twisting kiss that ignited his whole body.  His hips automatically responded, pushing rhythmically against Spock, his cock stiffening and feeling an answering hardness.  He forced a hand between them, wanting to feel more, to get the measure of the Vulcan’s arousal.  Spock groaned into his mouth as he palmed the hard shaft.

McCoy pulled away from the kiss and slid his tongue along the line of Spock’s jaw to his ear and then licked a swathe to the tip.  “I don’t know what I want more – to fuck you or have you fuck me.”

Spock was licking and sucking at his neck.  “Fuck me,” he whispered.

The words ignited McCoy who moved back to crush his mouth against Spock’s, desire and passion ricocheting back and forth between them.

Forcing himself up, he looked at the emptied contents of his medkit lying beside them on the ground and found what he was looking for – old-fashioned petroleum jelly, but it would work.

Pushing himself off, he removed his trousers and boots, his hands shaky as he worked the various clasps, as Spock sat up and did the same.  Folding his uniform pants, he made Spock lift his hips to lie on them, to avoid abrasions that he’d have to treat later.

His eyes were drawn to the stiff, pale-green cock, only before seen in its flaccid state, the head gleaming in the artificial light.  Glancing up, he realized Spock’s eyes were riveted on his own cock, dusky pink and reaching out.  Dipping his fingers into the jelly, he wrapping them around it and slid them up and down along the length, smiling in anticipation.  “Like what you see, Spock?”

“Indeed,” came the quiet response.

McCoy knelt between his legs, and dipping his fingers into the jelly again, he watched as Spock widened his legs.  “Can’t wait to feel this inside you, huh?” he asked, as his fingers slipped down Spock’s perineum until they found the tight knot of muscle.  He slipped one finger in and heard the sharp intake of breath.

“How does that feel, Spock?  Feel good?”

Spock’s eyes had closed.  “Yes,” the last consonant a hiss.

McCoy found what he was looking for, and pressed his finger against the small nub, causing Spock’s hips to buck.  “I wondered if you had one of those.  Do all Vulcans, or just you?”  He pressed a second finger in.

“All Vulcans.  Our reproductive systems…are not…dissimilar.  You need not…prepare me the way…you would a Human.”

McCoy grinned.  “Are you trying to tell me to get on with it?”

“In essence.”

McCoy lifted Spock’s legs and paused at the erotic sight of the Vulcan unselfconscious rubbing his pre-cum along the length of his own shaft.  Seeing Spock touch himself so intimately was one of the hottest things he’d ever seen.  McCoy was caught between wanting to take the swollen cock into his mouth and filling Spock’s ass.

Spock must have realized his dilemma, and lifting the now glistening erection, gently flicked his hips upward in invitation.  McCoy growled and sliding back a little, bent down and took the hot flesh into his mouth.  As his mouth engulfed the head and his tongue curled around it, his tastebuds were assaulted by a salty, slightly bitter taste.  Spock gasped and arched upwards.  McCoy sank down the length and sucking in his cheeks, moved agonizingly slowly, inch by inch up the length as he gently palmed the Vulcan’s balls and then moved two fingers lower to slide inside.

His fingers reminded him how desperate he was for penetration, and pulling off the beautiful shaft and giving it a parting kiss, he placed himself against the entrance to Spock’s body and slowly sank into the searing heat.

McCoy had dreamed of this moment for so long, he wondered if the sensation overload, coupled with the realization of his greatest fantasy would give him more than a few seconds of pleasure before his body gave over to blissful release.  He paused, trying to regain control, sweat running in rivulets from his temple, down his face as he gazed into the dark depths of Spock’s desire-filled eyes.  He looked like a fallen god, alien and exotic, come to provide succor and sanctuary for this needful Human.

Instinct took over and, almost without conscious volition, his hips began to undulate, slowly and provocatively, of their own accord.  The feeling of filling Spock, aware of the banked strength held in check, was just sheer eroticism, and his body responded, increasing in urgency.  Each thrust caused Spock to arch in wild response, lifting his hips so that they slammed together, writhing together as one.  He felt the start of it, like a serpent uncoiling in the small of his back, travelling down to the base of his cock, pausing, ready to strike.  With the last ounce of his self-control, he wrapped his hand around Spock’s fist that held his straining erection, running fingers over tightened knuckles and causing the Vulcan to gasp.

“Come with me, Spock,” he growled through gritted teeth.  Sliding deeply, once, twice, he felt the channel around him constrict rhythmically.  Plunging a final time into Spock’s heated core, for a moment and forever he teetered on the brink of oblivion, before finally soaring over its edge.

He wasn’t sure if he actually lost consciousness for a moment, but he came to awareness to feel Spock’s slightly rough tongue slide up his neck.

“Your sweat is intriguing.”

McCoy licked the fingers of his right hand, tasting Spock’s semen, less bitter than the his pre-ejaculate.  “So is your cum.”

He pushed himself up on weak arms and kissed Spock thoroughly, before rolling off.  “Guess we should clean ourselves up before they come and rescue us.”

He was glad Spock didn’t contradict him or tell him he was being illogical in the face of no evidence whatsoever, that it was going to happen.  The steri-wipes were handy for not only mopping up, but also for semen stains on their blue tunics.  Spock allowed him to gently clean him thoroughly before they put on their pants and boots.

Once again, they sat side by side, leaning against the cave wall, their hands intertwined.  McCoy twisted and ran his free hand up the curve of Spock’s ear and then through the soft silky strands of his hair.  The Vulcan leaned into the touch, almost like a cat.

“How is it you can be one fucking scary bastard and at the same time, like this?”

“Neither are you all that you seem.”

McCoy considered that and thought, yeah, the outward image he frequently projected didn’t always match what was going on inside.  He’d always presented a slightly scary façade to the world to keep others out.  But his directness, his cynicism and his pragmatism were all part of who he was.

“I kind of like that you’re letting me in, allowing me to see a Spock no-one else does.”

Spock looked slightly puzzled.  “This is not new, Leonard.  I ‘let you in’ some time ago.”

McCoy considered those words and realized it was true.  How often had they stood in silence together on the observation deck, on occasion in difficult times, but more often than not, just in shared companionship?  It had been a revelation to have someone who could enjoy silence as much as he did.  Jim couldn’t stand it for more than a few minutes, always having to fill it with words or actions, as though he were afraid of the silence.  He never begrudged Jim his need, but it allowed him to appreciate being able to have that with Spock.

Their arguments were sometimes over personal subjects, ones that in retrospect were possibly taboo with others on the crew, like the future of the Vulcan people, Vulcan politics, Vulcan emotionalism, the latter having had McCoy in laughter when Spock tried to convince him that Vulcan emotions were logical.

Then there were all the times Spock had sustained injuries – not as many as Jim, but enough to have kept him busy.  Despite M’Benga’s far greater knowledge of the ways of Vulcan healing, Spock had always insisted McCoy treat him.  ‘Logically it is the only way you will gain the knowledge Dr. M’Benga possesses,’ Spock had explained to him the first time McCoy had tried to tell him that it was illogical – he’d even stooped to using that word – to give preference to someone with inferior knowledge.

Spock suddenly sat upright and made McCoy jump.

“What?

“I hear something outside.”

McCoy strained but all he could hear was the deafening silence of the cave.  Spock stood and moved to one of the chinks of natural light that shone through fallen rocks.

McCoy was behind him, almost plastered to his back.  “Do you see anything?” he whispered.  He heard a muffled noise not far from the cave.

He felt Spock sag.  “I see a member of the security team – not one that beamed down with us.”

McCoy felt utter relief and then remembered what Spock had said – that scanners were ineffective against the rock.  The Vulcan was ahead of him, turning back into the cave and finding a large pebble, he began to bang it against the boulders.  McCoy found one too.  Together they tapped out an ancient rhythm.

“They have heard us,” Spock said after several minutes.

When McCoy finally saw Kirk’s face, he could have kissed him.  It had taken six men and some fancy piece of engineering equipment to make a space large enough for them to crawl out.

When they finally emerged, Kirk looked them up and down and then grinned before moving between them and putting his arm around each of their shoulders.

“Glad to see you two kept each other suitably occupied while you waited,” he said, keeping his voice low.

“Jim!”  McCoy tried to sound all indignation.

Kirk stopped and turned to the doctor.  “Oh come on, don’t you think I can’t tell when my two best friends looked thoroughly…fucked?  Don’t worry, it’s not that obvious.  Not to anyone who doesn’t know you as well as I do.”

McCoy helped his med team stabilize Lieutenant Wang and Ensign Jeffers before beaming them up to the ship where M’Benga was waiting to receive them.  The two others on the security team had perished in the attack.

The security team eventually found the bodies of the outpost personnel in another, larger cave, the rock properties preventing their remains being read by the scanners.

It was over an hour from the time of their rescue before they were finally able to beam up.  McCoy was desperate for a shower and a clean uniform and had a feeling Spock was feeling the same way, though they hadn’t been able to talk privately since their rescue.

McCoy ordered Spock to sickbay to properly check over his injuries and was amazed the Vulcan complied without a murmur.  Having taken him off to a private room, he whispered, “I’ll have to fuck you more often if it makes you this compliant.”

“I assure you, you need not have a reason to engage in that particular activity.”

McCoy groaned as he felt his cock twitch at the thought.  Satisfied both wounds were clean, he left Spock to put his shirt backon and checked up on M’Benga to ascertain he had everything under control.  After that, the two of them reported to Kirk’s quarters as ordered.

“You were right,” Kirk said to them without preamble.  Although they were seated, he remained standing pacing the room, as if the nervous energy of the earlier adrenaline rush had yet to dissipate.

“A Klingon Bird-of-Prey decloaked right in front of us.  I didn’t know how he did it at the time, but Sulu got the shields up before I’d even issued the order.  He told me afterwards that he saw the way that space kind of rippled just before it appeared and realized from other visual accounts what it was.  He’s the reason we’re still here.  The fucker fired on us at point blank range and took nearly took out the number two and six shields completely.”

“Lieutenant Sulu is to be commended.”

“Yeah,” Kirk agreed.  “I’m recommending him for a citation for valor.  Anyway, to cut a long story and a protracted battle short, we finally scored a direct hit.  I asked for their surrender and the bastards went and hit the self-destruct button.  We couldn’t come down until we were certain there weren’t any more of them in the vicinity.  Once Scotty got a pattern of their ion trail, he confirmed there were none at least within two parsecs of us.  Shit, when we got down and I saw the state of the place and couldn’t find you, I thought maybe you’d been abducted too.  And who’s idea was it to tap out S-O-S in morse code?”

“His,” McCoy said, indicating Spock with his head.

“It was logical.”

Kirk smirked slyly and seeing the look, McCoy felt his face flush.  “To think I was worried sick about you two when—”

“Jim,” Spock said sternly.

Kirk smiled, apparently reveling in their discomfort.  “I can be happy for you two, can’t I?” he asked, and McCoy could tell he was being completely sincere.  “Was today—?”

“Yes,” McCoy ground out.  “Drop it, Jim.  If I’m finding this embarrassing, god knows…” he glanced at the first officer who was glaring back at him, making McCoy grin.  “…well Spock would say he doesn’t feel embarrassment but…”  he left it hanging in the air.  “So what the hell were the Klingons doing here?” the doctor asked, changing the subject before Spock killed him.

“I’m guessing they were guarding the planet until they could get a mining vessel there.  Rocks with that particular set of properties would be very valuable on the market.  Imagine a ship covered in a layer of that rock dust would be impervious to the scans of other ships.  It could give one side a huge tactical advantage.”

McCoy whistled and then had a horrible thought.  “Please don’t tell me we’ve got to stay here and miss our shoreleave on Wrigley’s.”

Kirk’s gaze slid from McCoy to Spock.  “Yeah, wouldn’t want to miss out on the ‘Pleasure Planet’, huh?”  He grinned.  “No, we’ve sustained some damage so I’ve convinced them we can only hang around until reinforcements arrive, which is…” he glanced over at his office chrono, “…in six point three hours.”

McCoy let out the breath he didn’t know he’d been holding.  Now that he and Spock were intimate, the thought of them being able to spend quality time together away from the ship was enormously appealing.  He knew Spock didn’t ordinarily take shore leave, but figured he’d be able to persuade him this time.

Dinner with Kirk and Spock had been a nice, but agonizing affair, as McCoy wanted desperately to get the Vulcan alone.  It was with a huge sigh of relief they finally found themselves in McCoy’s cabin, after Kirk had practically leered a goodnight at them and left them to it.

McCoy was desperate to kiss but Spock was having none of it, easily holding the doctor at arm’s length, an amused expression on his face.

“Did you know,” McCoy ground out through gritted teeth, “that one of my earliest impressions of you was that you were a cold-hearted bastard.”

“And have you had cause to reassess your initial impression?”

“No.”

Spock’s lips quirked, and then releasing his hold, kissed his lover fiercely.

END

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