Fandom: Star Trek
SLASH unless otherwise indicated.
Characters/Pairing: Leonard McCoy/Spock and hints of Leonard McCoy/Spock/James T. Kirk
Word Count: 10,000 ish
Warnings: Character Death.
Summary: “We have made an application on behalf of Spock to exercise his conjugal rights ...” Learning that the Vulcan he's tried to forget has spent the past 6 months imprisoned on Betazoid and needs him to visit is the last thing Leonard McCoy wants. But he will play his part in exchange for Spock's e-signature on the confession! Except he hasn't bargained on their mind-blowing connection being as undeniable as ever. Last time it led usually sensible Len to leaving Jim alone on shore leave. This time the consequence of giving in to their chemistry will bind him to Spock forever …
Disclaimer: All proceeds go to the ‘I Believe in Sherlock Holmes’ fund.
Author's Notes: For Unconventional Courtship AO3
Prompt from: Playing the Dutiful Wife by Carol Marinelli
The security impressed Bones, but as it wasn’t his field that didn’t mean much. He was sure Spock and Jim could get out, or would have if Jim was still alive. He had to go through six gates and two mind readers before he was lead to the sex hut. Technically, a conjugal visit encampment, but sex hut was closer to the truth. After admittance to the prison compound, Len had to change into a flowing robe thing that didn’t help him forget why he was here. In fact, it made him feel like a sacrificial virgin, though that last bit at least wasn’t true, even if it had been a while.
Once in the sex hut, Len got a good look around before his companion arrived. The bed was large and comfortable looking, for all that it was covered in easily cleaned sheets. A shelf was built into the wall beside the bed, and Len didn’t need to read Betazoid to know there were sex supplies at hand. There was a small table on the other side of the room, with two chairs bolted to the floor so their users would be shoulder to shoulder. Still, better than the bed, so Len sat, drumming his fingers on the tabletop.
A beep, and the far door opened, so Spock could be ushered in. Len didn’t see the guard, as Spock took all his attention. His hair growth suppressors had worn off, and he hadn’t bothered to request more from the prison medical, Len could tell that. Spock’s bowl cut had lengthened to highlight his cheekbones and ears, even as it softened those features. His human half had to fight his Vulcan half to produce facial hair, so he managed that scraggly, rugged, “fuck me please” look without trying.
The desire pooling in Len’s stomach reminded him of where he was, so he refocused on his anger. He didn’t stand, knowing that would give away his reaction to unkempt Spock. He sat and waited, while Spock calmly took the seat next to him. Len leaned back, crossed his arms, and glared, determine to wait Spock out. As he waited, Len noticed the long hair was hiding the tiny emotional ticks he’d learned to look for on Spock’s face.
“The hell, man? You couldn’t just request a visit like anybody else? Did you do tell these people we were married just to piss me off enough to get me to visit instead of telling you no? And just how did you convince a bunch of fucking telepaths that we were fucking?”
“It depended on an understanding of Betazoid culture. The …”
“No,” Len interrupted. “Next you’ll be telling me Vulcan’s don’t lie or some such bullshit that I don’t want to hear because I know better. I’d know if we were married, we’re not, never were, and so you lied to a bunch of telepaths. Probably invented lying for these nice people. Nice, but clueless if they think I could be with the man who killed Jim, my best friend.”
Spock slammed his palm on the table, making Len jump.
“Perhaps you could hold your questions until after I have explained.”
Len leaned back again, unsure of when he’d leaned in, though it was probably to make a point. Now he glared, even though he knew he was defenseless against a pissed Vulcan.
“There is a low level empath watching our life signs, and they will remove you if they believe you to be in emotional or physical danger.”
Len relaxed a little hearing this, and tried not to be impressed that Spock read his concern and was looking out for his physical security.
“Other than that concession to safety, this is the only way I could speak to you without it being monitored and recorded.”
Len bit back his words, but hoped ‘why the fuck would I want to spend time in private with you’ showed up clearly on his face.
“Many of my fellow inmates have a remarkably similar story to mine. I do not have access to the entire prison, naturally, but I estimate 42% are here for murders they do not feel emotionally invested in.”
Len frowned, confused by the odds of a prison with that many people with one crime, and concerned about hearing Spock say “emotionally invested”.
“They recount having memories of committing their crimes, as do I, but do not have a visceral, emotional reaction to reliving that crime. I did not have a logical reason to kill Jim.”
“That twisty logic of yours could talk anybody into anything, but I’m on to you.”
“Doctor, my logic is irrelevant in this instance. It has clearly failed me and I will die soon.”
“Betazoid doesn’t have a death penalty.”
Spock talked over Len’s outburst. “If my supposition is correct, 2,896 murders have taken place with the real culprit going undetected.”
“Or you could be leading me on a wild goose chase.”
Spock looked as if he was about to ask, but he moved on. “I have no purpose but to open an investigation into this quadrant before they are admitted to the Federation. I am requesting an investigation. Not for my sake, as I have broken your trust in me, but to prevent further loss of life.”
“Damn. Kill Jim, get bored in jail and decide to get your jollies by yanking my chain. ‘Prevent further loss of life,’ honestly, like you think you can talk me into anything by throwing that out at me. Amateur psychology doesn’t work on somebody with training in it, Spock.”
“Perhaps it’s that, but it’s also the truth, Doctor.”
Len stared and thought about it. He didn’t know what Spock would be getting out of making him visit. Saving lives did sound like something Spock would be worried about, the Spock he thought he knew anyway. Reliable witnesses had found Spock standing over Jim’s dead body, the body Jim had spent six hours trying to coax back to life. After calling time of death, Len had also been in charge of the autopsy. None of the telepaths of Betazoid had found any anomalies in Spock’s memory, so he was guilty. Realizing he’d been thinking for a while, Len glared at Spock.
“If you think I’m joining you on that bed over there, you’ve got another think coming.”
Spock blinked. “Do you mean I have another thought coming?”
“In my neck of the woods, it’s think. But I’m not conjugaling your visit.”
“I did not expect conjugation beyond the needs of speaking during this visit.”
“Then why are you staring at me?”
“I would rather attempt to fathom your thought processes than return to the routine of life here.”
Trying to decide if that was an insult or not, Len had a sudden mental image of what the dull routine of prison could do to an intellect such as Spock’s. The wave of sympathy had him on his feet and moving, cursing at his need to fix everything as he fought to ignore it.
Hand paused above the call button; he glared at Spock to speak. “You getting enough meditation?”
That got an eyebrow out of him at least, as Spock seemed surprised by the question about his health.
“As this facility is run by telepaths, a considerable effort is given toward meditation and emotional support.”
Len slammed at the button, needing not to care about his best friend’s killer. He also didn’t dare look back as the guard let him out of the sex hut.
“Dr. McCoy, how did your trip to the surface go?”
Returning to the Enterprise, Len wasn’t expecting to be questioned the moment he beamed up. Yet, Captain Langshott was there in the transporter room, Scotty at the controls. Scotty had two years of command school under his belt, a story Len had yet to hear, before he’d transferred to engineering. As such, he’d been put in command when the First Officer was accused of killing the Captain.
As the Enterprise was opening diplomatic relations with Betazoid, Langshott had been put on the vessel of diplomats and sent in to take over. He’d even brought a senior medical officer with him, though Len had no idea why he was being replaced. It might be because he’d recorded Jim’s time of death, hauled ass down to the brig and punched Spock in the nose, but nobody said anything.
“I didn’t get a chance to punch Spock again,” Len offered as an answer, not sure what Captain Lanshott wanted from him.
“Didn’t get close enough during a conjugal visit?” Lanshott asked, both his eyebrows moving upward. It wasn’t intimidating; in fact it was odd to see someone who couldn’t limit themselves to one eyebrow.
“He wanted to talk, and I wanted to find out why he’d lied to them about us, Captain.”
“And what did you discover?”
“Spock would like a transfer to a Federation prison, eventually.” The lie was out before Len could plan it. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust this Captain, it was simply that he didn’t know him. “He doesn’t like all the ‘getting in touch with your emotions’ stuff that they do here.”
Scotty lifted an eyebrow at him, though he was pretending to be entranced by his transporter controls. Scotty knew Spock wouldn’t be concerned about his comfort, especially if he had to admit to emotions. Lanshott didn’t know this about Spock, or know much at all about Vulcans, as he seemed to believe it.
“Since you and Spock are both officers, it wouldn’t be inappropriate for you to fraternize, but a formal relationship would need to be a matter of record.”
Len almost laughed, and Scotty felt the need to hide his mouth behind his hand. That’s what this was about then, the possibility he hadn’t filed the paperwork on his fake relationship with Spock.
“Captain, it was a tactical maneuver on Spock’s part, nothing more. He knew the lie would make me mad enough to go see him.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Lanshott said, as if he didn’t really believe it, but he nodded and left.
“Maybe you should show him the vids of you punching Spock,” Scotty offered, at last looking up. “It was a grand throw, but Spock’s tougher than a hobbit’s foot.”
“True, but now I’m wondering if he really did murder Jim.”
“Doc, who else could have?” Scotty answered, understanding at once at least part of what was going on. “Cupcake and I turned into that alley less than two minutes after Jim and Spock had. Spock was covered in blood, hands inside Jim’s chest cavity. I dinnae like it either and reviewed what video footage we could find; it had to be Spock.”
“Thanks, I think I needed to be reminded of that.” With a nod to Scotty, Len headed for his quarters. As Spock would say, the simplest explanation had the greatest probability of being true. Len wanted things to be the way they were before they found the Betazoid system, and getting Spock back on board would get him halfway there, so he was pretending Spock was innocent. It didn’t help that if Spock was innocent, then Len would be innocent as well.
The shore leave was supposed to be getting to know a new culture, but the native wine went right to human heads. As such, Spock was supporting Jim and Len toward the next bar when a call came through. Another shore leave party had partied hard enough to crack Crewman Marinelli’s skull. Jim had refused to return to the ship, so Spock had assured Len that he would take care of Jim. Len beamed up, hypoed some sober-up potion in his arm, and started treating Crewman Marinelli before the call came. Marinelli had needed some drugs and monitoring, so Len had been able to divert his full attention to Jim when he arrived in sick bay fifteen minutes later. For eight hours he tried to force life into that body, but there was nothing he could do. Len was sure, that if he’d only remained with Jim and Spock, there to prevent whatever had set Spock off, Jim would still be alive.
Diplomatic missions could be boring, even for demoted doctors who liked the chance to study and experiment without being shot at or beamed around space. Fortunately, Len had a project to keep him occupied. Betazoid only had one prison, which took in criminals from all areas of controlled space. Few people sentenced there returned, though Betazoid had very low crime rates anyway. Murders had been up in the last two standard years, which Len didn’t like the look of. Murders that seemed to have a great deal in common, such as a handy murderer standing over the corpse and screaming “what did I do?”
Len hated it, but it looked like Spock was right, as fucking usual, and he’d have to arrange another private visit. Len prepped the message, but sat staring at the send button. Words of wisdom filled his head, which Len spoke before pushing the button.
“As my grandpappy Ol’ Reliable McCoy used to say, shit or get off the pot.”
When Spock entered the sex hut, he still had that rugged look going for him, but he no longer looked healthy. His eyes looked sunken in, his collar bones prominent under the tear-away robe, and Dr. McCoy knew malnutrition when he saw it. Instead of sitting next to Len, Spock paced across the small distance between the bed and table. Len stood, determined to physically examine the husk of Spock before him, but Spock turned in his pacing to glare at him.
“If you touch me I will not be held responsible for my actions.”
“Is that what got Jim killed? Touching your precious hide while drunk?” Len snarled right back.
“Maybe he was killed because I was under the influence of something, and you, Doctor, didn’t even bother to check.”
There was heat in the words, enough anger that Len should have known something was wrong, but the words hit too close to home. Instead, he decided to try that punch again. Spock caught it easily, turning Len’s momentum against him, propelling his face to the wall. Trying to curtail his anger enough to think and figure out what to do, Len paused long enough to realize Spock was sniffing his neck.
“Under the cleaning products, does it smell like sex in here, or is that just you?”
Len tried to laugh and breath in at the same time, resulting in an embarrassing noise and some phlegm. Something about Spock, violence, and bad pick-up lines was short-circuiting his brain. His arm was released, but Len kept it where it was, not wanting to set Spock off. Life in a Betazoid prison must not agree with a Vulcan. There was no other reason that Spock would be, yes, sniffing at Len’s neck, slotting a hardness into the v of Len’s thighs. His hands where pulling away the paper robe, leaving trails of heat behind, heat that made Len shiver.
Len knew he should think “help me” thoughts at the empath on guard duty, but there were skilled hands ripping paper cloth away from an embarrassing erection that didn’t match “help me” thoughts. Old Reliable’s advice flashed through Len’s mind, so he decided to go he wasn’t ready to get off the pot. Spinning around got him shoved even closer to the wall, but now Len could kiss Spock, see that he was naked as well.
A finger slid into their kiss, until it was wet, but Len didn’t worry about where that finger was going until it got there. Spock’s long finger reached further than anything else ever had, slowly breaching Len until it was as far as it would go. When it was sliding in and out easily, some part of Len’s training kicked in.
“Bed, Spock. There has to be lube by the sex hut bed.”
Spock only seemed to register his name, yet he did pull his hand out to guide Len to the bed. The shelf by the bed held several containers, and the reinsertion of a finger in his ass convinced Len to hurry up and find one that would work. Hoping he could communicate “help, I’m having an allergic reaction to lube” to the empath on duty if he needed to, Len grabbed a container of stuff that seemed the most lubricating. Spock didn’t want to take his finger out, so Len scooped some out, reached down and smeared it over the parts of Spock’s hand he could reach.
Spock moaned, a deep sound that was almost below the range of human hearing. Len remembered the touch telepathy and figured sensitive hands were important, but then there was a second finger and Len’s brain took a backseat. Len was moved onto the bed, back down, so he sat up on his elbows and watched as he was stretched. When the hand inside of him was pulled out, gently replaced by a perfect-sized cock, Len’s shoulder’s gave out.
Now flat on his back, legs up around Spock’s neck, Len was available for kissing. A hand in his hair was nice, but then it slid down to his face. The gentleness was distracting, and then Spock was in his mind. That was amazing, and had Len coming soon enough to be embarrassing. But Spock didn’t mind, he simply kept up the thrusting and the mental connection. Len vaguely wondered how long Spock could go, but then Len was getting hard again, and lost in what Spock was doing to him.
Waking up, Len decided, was always a terrible decision. He ached, and could smell the distinctive aroma of sponge bath disinfectant. He knew why he hurt; he was exhausted, not stupid, but he still wasn’t sure why he’d just had a sex marathon with Spock. Not just with emotionally unavailable Spock, but the guy serving twenty years in prison for killing his best friend. Didn’t even have the excuse of being drunk since he hadn’t eaten or drunk anything from Betazoid before entering the sex hut.
Forcing his eyes open, Len took in the room around him. It wasn’t sick bay, or any kind of hospital room he’d ever seen, though there was an I.V. beside him. The markings were in standard, so it was a nutrition and rehydration I.V. from the Enterprise. There was also a screen beside him, small red light blinking, letting him know he had a message. Not wanting to sit up just yet, Len poked at it until it played the message. A Betazoid, identifiable by his black irises, with Captain Langshott twitching beside showed up on the screen.
“Dr. McCoy,” the Betazoid began. “I’m Dr. Zendak. I’ve arranged for you to be a guest lecturer and receive training at the University where I am Chancellor. You will also stay in my house for the duration of your visit. I’m sure you have questions, but you needed rest after your, shall we say, enthusiastic reunion with Spock.”
Captain Langshott’s eye twitched violently, and Len made a mental note to check the man for neurological disorders. That spasm seemed a bit much for annoyance at the thought of Len lying to him, or “enthusiastic” gay sex.
“When you feel rested, my manservant is at your service; simply ring for Mr. Holm,” Dr. Zendak said. “I will check in on you when I return this evening.”
With a nod to Captain Langshott, Dr. Zendak turned the message over to him.
“Since you are no longer Senior Medical Officer, I am allowing this planetside assignment. Certain Betazoid officials are under the impression that your presence has been some sort of benefit to Mr. Spock.” Langshott’s voice asked why Len would want to help Spock, even if his words didn’t. “I have already filled a report that includes your relationship status, and other things that will be handled when you return to the Enterprise. Langshott out.”
The screen went to black, and Len shoved a pillow over his face. Langshott had put in his file that he was married to Spock, and that he’d lied about it, a clear violation of Starfleet regulations. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t, as everything he said was now suspect. He could make a fuss, but then he might never learn if there was a serial killer out there framing people for crimes they didn’t commit.
For now, pretending to be married might be the only way to find out about the serial killer. As that was more important than his feelings, Len could force himself to do what was needed. But once it was over, he was divorcing Spock and taking everything he could get.
Len sat down with the list of things he was supposed to do, and squeezed couple’s counseling in after lunch, when he was most ready to take a nap. In the mornings, Len taught xenobiology and his students asked questions throughout his lunch. After therapy, Len threw his concentration into learning about Betazoids. Evenings were spent being wined and dined by the people he’d met during the day, letting him fall asleep as soon as he found his bed.
Carefully, he made sure the only time he thought about Spock was now, as he changed into the paper visitor’s robe and made his way to the therapy tube. He was very glad they weren’t meeting in the sex hut, although he still had to change clothes for no reason he could determine. The tube was annoying. The therapist explained the cylinder design and construction materials would keep their thoughts and feelings free from outside interference. Len didn’t know about that, not knowing the physics of telepathy, but when he raised his voice the cylinder made it echo back at him, painfully. Forced to keep his voice low, his tone calm, Len was learning to emote at Spock through the wall in his brain.
That wall Spock had put in his brain without a damn bit of an explanation. He’d noticed it after he stopped feeling the physical effects of their coupling, the presence of something cool and soothing behind a mental blockade. Mind melding was part of couple’s counseling, so Len had asked during that first one. With their minds joined, Spock told him it was important and not to mess with it, but nothing else. Fine, the sex hut was the only place they could get even a minimum of mental privacy, but Len’s curiosity wasn’t strong enough to request a meeting with Spock there.
“Leonard McCoy, what a pleasure to see you again,” Manine called as Len entered the torture tube.
Since she was a telepath, Len didn’t try to fake enthusiasm. There must have been a class, hidden from medical doctors and spanning the universe, that taught shrinks how to act and what tone to use to annoy the most people. “Manine.”
“Leonard, while we wait for your Spock, I have something to discuss with you.”
Len tensed, time spent with Jim and Spock making his body gear up for a fight. He tried to look only curious as he sat in his chair.
“Today begins the second week of couple's therapy, though Spock has been working with other counselors within the prison system for much longer. All of his therapists met this morning, for a strategy session. Without sharing confidential information, we were able to come to a consensus that Spock is not making any progress towards his rehabilitation. Perhaps, if you participated more in these sessions, it would encourage Spock to work with us.”
“If you think I can talk Spock into doing anything, you’ve not been paying attention in these sessions,” Len groused, annoyed that his adrenaline had started pumping for something as predictable as Spock’s lack of emotional growth. More than once, Len had told Spock he needed to eat more, but the man brushed off his concern.
“I have been paying attention, Leonard, which is how I knew I could approach you with this. Perhaps, during today’s mind kiss, you should ask Spock for the Vulcan equivalent of our word Imzadi.”
The opening of the connecting door between the therapy tube and the prison kept Len from having to think of a witty rejoinder. Rugged Spock had been tamed by a haircut and shave, as if he now had a reason to care about his grooming. Len did wonder if their little physical therapy session had anything to do with that, but that was marked in the list of things he wasn’t supposed to think about around the telepaths. Now, fuckable Spock was relegated to dreams Len wouldn’t admit to, and Spock managed to look dignified in the prison paper robes.
“Good afternoon, Spock,” Manine said as she gestured to his chair. “Have a seat, and we can begin with your assignments.”
“Assignments?” Len asked even as he started to get a vague recollection of something he was supposed to do.
“You were each to make a list of ten things about your spouse that make you happy.”
“I forgot.” Len remembered, and felt a physical stab of frustration from the shrink. Oddly, he was irritated by her frustration, considering he was the one faking a relationship for some unknown reason, Len focused on the cause of all the frustration in the universe, but kept his tone calm as he spoke to Spock. “I’m sorry, I was very busy at a medical lecture last night. I can spot a nerd at fifty feet, so Spock, darling, tell me one time you didn’t do your homework.”
“Dr. McCoy,” Spock replied emotionlessly, though both Len and Manine knew he became formal when irritated. “I have seen into your mind. In this instance, I believe the term ‘it takes one to know one’ would apply.”
“When I was young, had to prove myself to the world? Sure, it did all my homework then, but I grew out of it. I was busy last night, while you were here, with hours of time to kill. So, you did your homework, and we want ten reasons: why me?” Len threw it out as a challenge, but he did want an answer. Why had Spock picked him for the sex hut and not someone he’s actually had sex with, like Uhura?
Manine interrupted, as was apparently her job description. “The exercise is only able to build a foundation for communication if you both participate. Spock, I can feel you burying emotions quicker than you can recognize them. Only when you allow yourself to feel them, determine if they are valid and seek out the root cause, only then will you find peace.”
Spock looked at Manine, not even raising an eyebrow, and Len felt like the worst kind of bastard.
“Leonard,” Manine said, as she turned to face him. “You want to help Spock, encouraging him to participate in his rehabilitation program, so why do you feel you have betrayed him?”
A glance at Spock showed his eyebrow had joined the conversation, so Len spoke, hoping to teach by example.
“As intrigued as I am by Spock’s passionate side, and all the things he thinks he needs to hide, sharing those emotions is not something he does. Spock, and Vulcans, have been socially conditioned to subjugate their emotions to their logic. Betazoid rehabilitation works for Betazoids, as evidenced by your low recidivism rates. As a supposed expert in xenobiology, I should have taken the time to explain what I know of Vulcan society to you. This would allow you to alter your methods to the subject, allowing Spock to make progress. Instead, I followed the human way and let my emotions cloud my judgment.”
Looking back to Spock, Len saw him tilt his head, as if in a question.
“I got a degree in psychology to figure out why my first marriage wasn’t working.”
“An intriguing notion, Leonard.” Manine seemed exited by the prospect. “I will call a meeting of Spock’s advisory committee to discuss the notion before we get much further. We may need to meet with you, Leonard, to ask for further advice.”
“You could do that, but I’d also suggest someone from the psychology community could attend my morning xenobiology lectures.”
“An excellent idea. I will have to give this some thought before determining how we are to progress.”
Len dared hope she’d just let them leave, but he tried to hide it.
“I will leave you the remainder of our scheduled time to mind kiss.”
Spock’s eyes tightened until lines were visible on the sides every time she called it that, but he no longer tried to correct her. He stood and turned his chair to where it would be the most comfortable for the mind meld. After a week of shrink mandated melds, they were familiar with the process. Spock still said the words, my mind to your mind, but he didn’t need them. His long fingers pressed against Len’s skull, and then they were together.
Spock had put up a basic shield for Len, which he was supposed to meditate and mentally reinforce every night. That was other homework that Len wasn’t doing, even though the shields made him feel safer on a planet of mindreaders. Spock breezed through them, but it made sense, as he’d made the shields. Deep in Len’s brain, as he understood it, was a place with extra shields. He couldn’t breach these shields and checking them was Spock’s first activity after entering the meld. He seemed satisfied that they were holding, as he mentally called Len to him.
“Spock,” Len replied, getting used to the echoes in his head. “I’m sorry. I should have made sure the system was treating you and not another Betazoid.”
Spock effectively dismissed it as unimportant. “It has given us both insights into a culture that embraced their telepathic gifts without losing their individuality. You should mediate more to strengthen your shields, but they are holding up well. As such, today I would like to teach you how to detect a mental intruder, so it may be repelled.”
“Right. To business.”
Spock taught him what an intrusion would feel like, and then began sneak attacks to see how long it would take Len to detect the type of attack. Manine interrupted their practice with a soft mental call, and Spock repaired any weaknesses in the shields before separating. As he was being left alone in his mind, Len felt pride, but knew he wasn’t the source of the emotion. Deciding it must have been Manine, Len opened his eyes. He felt rejuvenated, ready to learn all about Betazoid biology. Spock seemed tired, but Len figured it was because he was going back to prison. Len almost ran to his afternoon classes.
Len smirked a little as he left the prison. A standard week after his outburst of professionalism and the sessions had seen a change. Apparently Spock was now only required to attend one group therapy session, for those convicted of murder, and the rest of the group was faring better. His three other individual sessions were conversations as the shrinks tried to learn about Vulcan society and telepathic practices. Spock was learning about Betazoids, instead of being hostile.
Spock looked tired to Len’s eyes, but he brushed off Len’s concern. Without the authority of his med-bay behind him, Len couldn’t force the issue, so he let it go. Their sessions stuck with traditional couple's counseling, and Len made sure he did his homework now, which at least got Manine off his back. The mind melds that closed each session left him centered and energetic, even as he learned to build up his own shields. Not being a telepathic species, or even of empathic human stock, the things Spock was teaching him made him more comfortable around other mindreaders. His brain might not be much, but it was Len’s and he was used to being alone in it. With his shields up, only his surface emotions were easy to read, and as they showed up on his face, it was fair that telepaths would know what he was thinking.
“Hello, Dr. McCoy.”
Len smiled back as he entered the lab for his afternoon lessons. “Dr. Zendak, what’s on the agenda for today?”
“I wanted to show you the chrimalin virus. It’s no longer a threat, but it is of historical significance. Once, it was a terrible disease that rendered adults infertile and physically scarred. Children had a better survival rate and remained fertile, so efforts were made to infect children before puberty. The disease was eradicated by vaccination more than five hundred years ago, but politics of the day means that everyone still gets vaccinated.”
“So the disease only exists in vaccination form? If it’s a live culture vaccine, it could mutate and cause an epidemic.”
“About a hundred years ago, they tried to do away with the law, for that reason. Instead, they came up with a synthetic vaccine.”
“Sounds a lot like an Earth disease called Chicken Pox.”
“Really? That might explain what I found when I was looking through the Earth database we were given.” Dr. Zendak waved Len over to a station in the lab, where a blood sample was already being projected on the monitor. “A symbol for the movement to vaccinate everybody, all those years ago, the shape of the antibody has since become a symbol of luck, wealth, and health.”
“Looks like a four leaf clover.” Len wanted to laugh, amazed at this bit of convergent evolution, or whatever it was that allowed two similar things to develop without any relationship between them. “The plant normally has three leaves, so if you found a mutated one with four leaves, it was supposed to be lucky.”
“It is amazing, isn’t it? I had to show it to you.”
“I’m glad you did,” Len had more to say, he really did, about searches for four leaf clovers as a child and so forth, but his brain had found something more interesting to grab his attention. “Wait. A synthetic antivirus, that all Betazoids are still given? It should show up in all their bloodwork.”
“It does, but most doctors ignore it and look for the real cause of problems.” Dr. Zendak frowned at Len, wondering why his amusing antidote was making Len so serious.
“In that case, I need to see the autopsies for a year's worth of murder victims.”
Dr. Zendak was startled by the request, but he could easily read the determination Len was feeling. An accepting nod, and Dr. Zendak started pulling up those records.
Coffee and a hypo of vitamins got Len through to lunch, but he was dragging by the time he got to the therapy tube. The sleepless night of research had been productive, and he wanted nothing more than to discuss it with Spock. Manine was already waiting in the therapy tube, though, and Len knew he’d have to wait for her permission to mind meld with Spock.
“Leonard, are you well?” Manine asked as Len sat and Spock entered.
“Just didn’t get much sleep last night,” Len said, only to get an idea. “I don’t suppose we could hold off on the therapy today? The mind meld with Spock always revives me.”
“Spock has told us that channeling his energy into you is safe for him, but it is good that you believe so as well,” Manine replied, and Len carefully kept his face blank. “Very well, a break might assist our future sessions and allow you some much needed alone time.”
The rearranging of the furniture seemed to take longer today, as if Spock was reluctant to talk about what he’d done. Len couldn’t fault him for that, since as soon as they were safe in his mind, Len let him have it.
“What the ever loving fuck? I thought you looked like crap because you weren’t taking care of yourself, too bored to sleep or something, and now I find it’s my fault?”
“Leonard, all is well.”
“Is it? You got some nice, scientific studies to back that up? Are you sure you’re not driving yourself to exhaustion for shits and giggles? I’m a grown ass man; if I’m tired, I’ll take a day off. How do you know I’m not going to get addicted to your energy? I already look forward to the time we spend in here.”
Len shut up, but he could feel Spock studying him, taking in the words he hadn’t meant to say. Finally, he responded, although not to all of Len’s concerns.
“Leonard, my mother never became addicted to mind melding with my father, although she did enjoy the experience. Admittedly, this is anecdotal evidence and scientifically worthless, but there has not been any solid studies of human and Vulcan mental interactions.”
Len would have cleared his throat if he had one in his mind. Fortunately, Spock seemed to sense this.
“What made you want this mind meld enough to ask for it?”
“Right, I made some progress.” Len mentally shoved away his irritation, knowing nothing he could say would convince Spock to take care of himself. “The murder victims, at least the Betazoid ones, were quick clones.”
“I am not familiar with that terminology.”
“Well, on most planets we’ve come across, cloning has been an important step in learning how to grow new organs or fight certain diseases. Most places worry about playing God, or the ethics of growing people in a lab. Betazoid, and some other places, figured out how to clone a body without a functioning brain, to avoid the ethical implications. Don’t raise your mental eyebrow at me; ethics is a whole different conversation.”
Len waited, and continued when Spock didn’t seem likely to interrupt. “The murder victims don’t show the antibodies that all Betazoid children are inoculated with; a level of medical care the quick clones don’t need.”
“The victims are alive, replaced with clones. The murdered body and arrested perpetrator keeps anybody from looking for the real victim,” Spock mused.
“Right? That’s what I thought, but couldn’t figure out why somebody would go to all that effort, and so many times.” Spock was already thinking, Len could feel the thoughts buzzing around him. There was only one thought Len had, one he felt he had to share or explode. “Spock?”
“Whatever reasons they had for abducting Betazoids, I don’t know if those reasons included taking Jim.”
“He might have been an experiment, to see if they could expand their operations to taking humans. Or, indeed, influencing Vulcan minds. Either way, also taking into account Jim’s personality, it is unlikely that he is alive. I would offer the odds, but you have expressed distaste for them before.”
“Numbers make things seem so finite, and final.” Len shook off the maudlin thoughts, the persistent hope to see Spock and Jim on the bridge again. “So, why take people and go to such efforts to make sure no one is looking for them?”
Len dropped by his quarters with an excuse about changing before joining Dr. Zendak for supper. As he changed shirts, Len called the Enterprise, hoping Uhura would answer so he wouldn’t have to wait to be transferred to her.
“Lovely lady, you’re just the person I wanted to talk to.”
“How are you?” she replied, the smile in her voice audible even as she lowered her voice to where only the equipment would pick up her voice, and not the rest of the bridge. This was how she usually worked, so that she could get stuff done without having everybody hear it.
“Better. I’ve got some information I’d like your expertise on.”
“Go on, you charmer. I doubt you need it encoded and transmitted, so what do you really want me to do with it?”
Len laughed, mentally blessing whoever had assigned Uhura to the Enterprise. He gave her the rundown of his theory, about clones and vaccinations, including Spock’s suspicions about slave labor or experiments on telepaths. He paused to send up the autopsies and other files he’d collected, and to figure out how to ask for his favor. Uhura beat him to it, and he was very happy about that.
“You want me to find out where the victims are, suspecting that they’re not on-planet anymore, and then figure out a rescue?”
“Ah, darling, it sounds like too much to ask when you say it like that.”
“I’m not doing much else at the moment, but you’ll still owe me when you get back.”
“Absolutely,” Len agreed easily, knowing there were worse people to be beholden to.
Uhura always looked busy, even if most of the crew didn’t know what she did, other than monitoring and hailing. As such, it was easy enough to work on Len’s project in between her official duties. Most of the ship’s comms were being used for personal reasons, as people called to see who would join them for lunch or a visit to the rec room. There simply wasn’t that much communication needed between the departments as they shuttled around the system and attended diplomatic functions.
As such, it only took Uhura two shifts to find a mining asteroid that didn’t seem to have as much communication as Uhura expected. A few shifts monitoring that asteroid, and Uhura had a plan. The trouble was she needed more power than she could command from her station without it being recorded in the logs. Before the change in regime, she would have just told Kirk they needed to check out the asteroid. Before Kirk left, Scotty was easy to find, somewhere in the vast expanse of the Enterprise’s engines.
Now, she had to track Scotty down to the observation lounge, with engine schematics spread out all around him. He was officially off duty, and supposed to take a daily rest period for his mental well-being. His response to that had involved the Scottish phrase ‘auld scunner’ which Uhura needed to ask about, and some creative, accent-less Klingon cursing. Uhura had been impressed and wondered if Scotty’s tongue was more talented than it seemed. He smiled when he looked up to see her now, and waited for her to speak.
“I’ve a bottle of twenty-year-old Talisker.” It’d been a gift, one she’d held on to for just such an occasion. Not necessarily to bribe Scotty, but he’d appreciate the Scotch more than most.
“Aye, and which limb of mine do you need for whatever daft illegal thing you’re about to do?”
Uhura smiled, pleased at how quickly he’d caught on to what she’d meant. “I need to fake a distress call from a mining asteroid so that we can go in and look for illegal activity.”
“Which you cannae do without access to the transmitter array, but you don’t want the sensors to record it as being transmitted from the Enterprise. Is there a planetoid nearby we can bounce the signal off of?”
“Yes, and I’ve already created the signal.”
“Your best chance would be if I took the sensors entirely offline for a moment.”
“That seemed a bit much to ask. If this works out, or even if it doesn’t, I’ll take the consequences, but we’ve got to look at that asteroid.”
“I’ll do it, if you’ll help me drink that whiskey,” Scotty offered calmly, but with a shy smile.
“You’ve got a deal.” Uhura’s smile was much more self-assured.
The distress call had talked about strut failure, where they were mining the asteroid from the inside out, so Scotty had been added to the away team. Uhura had talked with him more, working out the details, but he still wasn’t sure what to expect. So he carried his tools and an emergency respirator, when they beamed over, knowing they wouldn’t need them. They surprised the workers, and there was a great deal of confusion for both sides as they tried to figure out what was going on. Scotty had his tricorder out, recording everything in case it would help Uhura with her top secret, illegal project. This also made him the first to see the commotion at the top of the scaffolding, and he got it all recorded for posterity.
It was a fight, that was easy to see. A couple of workers in safety gear were trying to stop a man without the bulky equipment. Everybody should have been wearing the safety stuff while here, but most of the people weren’t, almost as if the ones with it were guards and the lack of air kept anybody from trying to escape. The lack of equipment helped the worker though, as he was able to slide between the other workers that the guards had to fling aside. The worker came to sudden stop, seeing guards closing in on him from the other side of the scaffold. The worker bent for a moment, stood, let the guards get closer, and jumped off the scaffolding at the last possible moment.
Scotty would have recognized the style even if he hadn’t seen the filthy face that hung before them before being pulled back up, and dropped again. Upside down, legs haphazardly tied to an elastic cord, James T. Kirk grinned.
“Scotty, Cupcake! I guess you finally decided you missed me?”
Scotty’s laugh seemed to release the chaos around them, as the slavers tried to flee or fight. Scotty cut Jim down and dragged him to safety. The daft git had managed to break his leg, but figured it was worth it for getting off this rock. Reinforcements arrived from the ship, and Scotty made stun grenades from mining equipment. All in all, a productive afternoon.
Sometimes being planetside and out of the loop really sucked. Len hadn’t heard back from Uhura, and it was driving him slowly mad. He hoped it was because she was busy and trying to hide her involvement, but a quick note wouldn’t have killed her. Dr. Zendak had run out of things to teach McCoy, and Len was lecturing about various species he’d encountered in space. Yes, planetside was nice, and he’d never admit it to anyone, but nice could get kind of boring after a while. Packing all this down inside his mind where he hoped Spock wouldn’t look, Len went to their therapy session.
Manine wasn’t there when Len entered the therapy tube, for the first time. Spock entered, and she still wasn’t there, earning a pinched look on Spock’s face. They sit, and wait, until Len starts drumming his fingertips on the armrest, just to irritate Spock. It doesn’t seem to be working, but then Spock breaks the silence first and Len counts that as a victory.
“We could be productive while we wait for Manine, and begin the mind meld.”
“Okay.” Len’s surprised at his easy acceptance, though he shouldn’t be. He knows that he’s come to enjoy these sessions, the challenge of learning what Spock’s willing to teach, and the friendly bickering that goes on between lessons. Well, at least it’s friendly on Len’s side, when Spock isn’t killing anybody and pointing out how stupid emotions are. Len knows emotions are stupid, but they come in handy for humans. “Wait.”
Spock stops his hand, millimeters from Len’s face, eyebrow the only question he offers.
“This is stupid, but a while back, Manine told me to ask you the Vulcan equivalent of something.” Len wished he had a modicum of Uhura’s skill with languages as he tried to hear what word she’d used, and how to say it to Spock. “Im-zod, Imzodie.”
Spock knew, of course he knew and could pronounce it correctly. Len rolled his eyes.
“Vocabulary is not relevant to reinforcing your mental controls.”
Len leaned away from Spock, crossing his arms over his chest. “Don’t bullshit a bullshitter.”
“Doctor, it is irrelevant.”
“Not if you’re that constipated about sharing.”
“Uhura would be the one to ask about specific meanings, but I would translate the word to the English ‘beloved’ and the Vulcan ‘T’hy’la.’ This is a translation and not an equivalency, as I know of no words in any Earth language to properly define T’hy’la. Imzadi requires a certain amount of speculation to define, though the therapists here bring it up often.” Spock had settled into his lecturer tone, which meant he’d be able to talk for hours without saying what he needed to.
“Define T’hy’la, using as many English words as you need, even if you’ve got to break down into poetry.”
Spock was thrown out of his lecture by the loud command and he fixed Len with his stare. “T’hy’la is friend, shield-brother, more important than any other, chosen family. Lover, if needed.”
“So that’s what you told them I was, your Imzadi equivalent?”
“Essentially. It allowed me to claim a relationship that wasn’t documented in official Star Fleet records.”
“Yeah, thanks for that, since the new captain put it in my permanent record.” Len signed heavily, forestalling Spock’s comeback. “Now I want to know something I’ve wanted to know since I first got that formal request for sex. Why me?”
“Telepaths,” Spock said, as if that was all the answer needed.
“No, I’m going to need a little more than that.”
“I was ill and unable to hide enough of my emotions to completely lie to the telepaths.”
Len paused, let that sink in, and prodded it a little to make sure the words were saying what he thought they were saying. “You couldn’t lie convincingly, so you built your lie on true feelings that you had. Feelings about me.”
“I see the time spent attempting to train your mind has not been a complete waste of time.” Spock said, looking as Vulcan as he could in the face of Len’s sudden laughter.
“You could’ve just asked me out for drinks.” A sobering sigh. “But you only feel this way since Jim’s gone.”
“Jim held a fascination for me, and I was open to the possibility of that relationship developing into more. There were times when I found Jim to be a trying individual, but you were a constant, a soothing counterpoint even in your emotional extremes.”
Len laughed again. “I can’t believe we both thought Jim needed to grow up.”
Oh, that was a punch in the gut, and Len had to fight to get air into his lungs. This little planetside bubble had protected them from the truth, the routine helping them to sleep at night. Jim would never mature, and Spock was in jail for it. If Spock did get out, what then?
“If you got out today and we returned to the ship, we could hang on for a little while. Then I’d get angry, throw Jim’s death in your face, bringing real pain into a stupid domestic squabble. I don’t know why you came on to me, but any relationship now would be toxic.”
“Consider the sex as a symptom of a disease, one that will be forgotten in times of good health.”
“Right, your mysterious disease that you wouldn’t let me or any other doctor treat, so we don’t even know what you had.”
“It is a Vulcan condition, known as the Pon Farr, and something to discuss at a later date.” Spock shifted, almost a squirm of embarrassment. “You need to return to the Enterprise and contact my father. Tell him about this and that you need the mating bond severed. He will see that it is done swiftly.”
Len wasn’t sure he heard all of that, his mind getting stuck around the words ‘mating bond’. “Is that what’s behind that wall in my head you won’t talk about? A fucking mating bond? God, are we really Vulcan married now?”
“Is this the point where you begin to use Jim’s death against me?” Spock asked, conversationally.
Len had jumped to his feet, but now he paused somewhere between shaking a finger in Spock’s face and pacing the room. “No, but close.”
Dropping back into his chair, Len stared at Spock, mentally cursing his life. He’d thought his little crush was impossible, that Jim and Spock were everything to each other. Even now, Jim separated them, when Jim, as Len knew from being the man’s roommate at the Academy, would have loved to be between them in a sexy way.
“Damn it, Spock. I’d love to be Vulcan married to you, but even if Jim were alive, I don’t think we could be a couple. We’ve always worked best as a trinity, you know?”
The door opened, and both men jumped up to look at it, expecting Janine with a terrible excuse. Len sat back down as he took in the sight of Jim in his gold uniform, flanked by Betazoids.
“Nobody gets to bitch-slap me for complaining about your bickering ever again.” Jim lectured, finger pointing between them. “I was gone for a few weeks and you convinced an entire star system you needed counseling.”
There was a long silence before Spock turned to Len and raised an eyebrow.
“With some training, I believe a trinity is sustainable.”
Knowing his face was contorting as he sorted that out, Len let it. He had settled on smirking when at last he spoke. “Perfectly logical.”
“What’d I miss?” Jim asked. “I came all this way to tell Spock he was free to go, and now you’re just going to ignore me?”
“Once we’re home, we’ll explain it to you.” A spike of lust reached Len through the shielded wall in the back of his mind, his mating bond with Spock. It increased when Len spoke again. “Thoroughly.”