Title: A Haunting Error (1/3)
Characters: Kirk, Spock, McCoy
Disclaimer: My mind is weird—sort of like ST. But I didn’t come up with it.
Summary: Kirk and Spock are receiving visitations… from McCoy?
Note: Inspired by lilbatfacedgirl‘s comment that the trio must be together. What happens if they aren’t? How can this grievous error be corrected? Unfortunately, this plot is not sane; it’s crack-tastic.
Spock is haunted by McCoy’s ghost. He cannot concentrate on his meditation because someone—something—starts trailing cold fingertips down the length of his spine, which he feels quite keenly despite the heavy robes. Being a touch telepath, one would assume that he could not be contacted so easily by a spirit; they’d be wrong. He feels the wind (there should not be wind on a starship—it isn’t a cooling unit draft) tingling his senses and an almost-pressure against his palms, like skin touching skin.
Then the whispering begins.
It says things like Vulcan-robot and pointy-eared menace that he has not-quite heard from a certain Doctor in the past. Only the words won’t fit into the pattern snugly; they bend at the edges. It unnerves him, as much as Vulcan austerity can be breached.
In practice, Spock sleeps lightly and for short periods of time. During those hours when he is off-duty but not in need of rest, he utilizes his time either in research or meditation. Since his meditation cannot continue on in the face of such an illogical disturbance, he skims the computer data banks for a new occupation. The console beeps consistently and softly, which almost relaxes his mind. It mimics a steady drip of sound, like a voice.
Like a voice repeating harmlessly spock-spock-spock every four heartbeats.
The Vulcan snaps from his concentration to find his computer going wild. It scrolls through data at too fast a speed for reading, blinks harshly in the dim lighting of his quarters.
Spock attempts to recall the screen into an orderly fashion. It does not respond so he manually disconnects the wires in the back.
It’s still running.
Now, no sane person needs Vulcan logic to explain this situation. No power supply equates non-functional machinery. (Unless it’s a piece of possessed machinery that wants Spock’s attention.)
He puzzles over the matter for some minutes until he can take the crazy beeping no more. “Please desist,” he says.
The fingers are back, touching around his shoulders and side of his neck. Spock goes rigid with indignation because no person, especially a non-entity, has the right to invade his personal space in such an indecent manner.
He orders, “You will stop at once.”
Spock calmly rises from his desk chair and exits the room. When he reaches the Captain’s quarters, he buzzes for entrance.
Kirk is at the door with a towel wrapped his shoulders. He motions for Spock to enter. “Ship business or personal business, Mr. Spock?”
Spock answers, “I am uncertain.”
This gets Kirk’s attention because Spock rarely admits hesitation over any subject (except Human rituals). “Explain.”
“I believe that Doctor McCoy’s spirit resides in my quarters.”
There is a brief ensuing silence while these words ripen in Jim’s brain. He drops his arms to his sides and stares at his First Officer. “Spock, that’s insane.”
“Improbable, Captain, but given the Enterprise’s encounters of a spectral nature, still possible.”
“Doctor McCoy—you are referring to the CMO that lasted… what, eight weeks?”
“And how can you be certain that the man is even dead?”
“I do not know this fact. I am merely stating an obvious connection. The… entity’s and the Doctor’s behavior—while aboard this ship—are significantly similar.”
“Spock! Are you telling me that you have a ghost that swears and name-calls living in your room?“
“Indeed. It is highly illogical.” He means I can barely believe it myself.
Kirk mutters something that Spock pretends he does not hear. By now, the Captain is pulling on a uniform shirt and his boots with sharp, quick movements. Then he says, “Let’s go.”
They are off to investigate.
Spock’s quarters are in proper order when they arrive. Jim prowls around the room, randomly tapping on consoles and panels—as if he knows how ghost-hunting is done. Spock merely watches this display with a raised eyebrow. After five minutes of unsuccessful communication with the spirit, they decide it must be an unusual sensory reception on Spock’s part. The Vulcan does not necessarily agree with this assessment but is desirous of routing the Captain from his quarters—and his inquisitive questioning.
Luckily, there is no return of the ghost for one week—in which time the crew learns of the eerie visit and become jittery when alone, always checking over their shoulders but never admitting to uneasiness.
Spock’s second unlucky encounter is in the sonic shower. This time the fingers are much too probing for his liking and he accidentally dents a wall from a barely restrained reaction. Spock is once again seeking out the Captain but refuses to give him details of the incident—only says that he is quite sure it is the unknown presence and would the Captain give him permission for a detailed electro-magnetic scan of his living area.
“Sure, Spock. You have the proper equipment in one of the science labs, don’t you?”
“The Enterprise does maintain the standard devices for detecting—”
“Yes, all right. By all means, get rid of that ghost!”
“Captain.” Spock turns on his heel and makes a beeline for the Science Department. He tells no one why he picks up the tools that he does—and they do not have the gall to ask—only gathers them and retreats to his quarters again.
He attaches several devices to his PADD for instant readings and turns on a voice recorder.
“This is Commander Spock, First Officer and science officer of the Enterprise—” He goes into some detail of his rank, the hauntings, and his scientific hypotheses.
“—if the entity is indeed who I presume it to be, I must determine a method of direct communication between us.”
Suddenly the instrument in his hands goes wild. He does not start—as any untrained being would—but simply adjusts the frequency of the tuner.
A garbled, computerized voice comes out. “Ssspppock.”
If his eyebrow could climb any higher, it would vacate his face altogether. “Fascinating.”
He depresses a button on the side. “Spock here.”
“Greeeen-blooooded—” The sound is filled with too much static to be understandable, but Spock would not estimate that “hobgoblin” is at the end. He makes notes.
Entity imitates expressions of former CMO of Enterprise but is not consistent with phrasing. Must clarify.
“Is this Doctor McCoy?” he questions.
The PADD burst into flames. He drops it unceremoniously and puts out the fire by slamming his boot down, successfully cracking it into pieces.
Spock’s human-half might curse. Instead, he draws on his reserve of Vulcan calm.
There is little more insight to be gained throughout the remainder of the shift. He returns to the Bridge, with a quick “Negative” when the Captain inquiries after his success.
Two days later, Kirk comes to Spock, wide-eyed. “It’s haunting me!”
“Your McCoy ghost! It’s haunting me in the bathroom, Spock!”
Kirk looks a bit jumpy—it’s obvious he’s had phantom hands on places no other should touch uninvited. Spock refrains from expressing his deepest sympathies.
“We’ve got to do something about this—this thing. I won’t have haunts on my ship, Spock!” Kirk paces around in a circle, shoulders tight. “And damn, we can’t alert Security either…”
“Might I make a suggestion, Captain?”
“I order you to, Mr. Spock.”
“Unnecessary, though I will comply. We should inform Lieutenant Uhura of the situation.”
“I thought I just said we can’t tell anybody!”
“You said Security. Uhura is Communications.”
“I doubt she speaks Ghost.”
“If you are attempting humor, Captain, I do not understand the necessity. We must establish Doctor McCoy’s whereabouts.”
“You mean, if he’s actually alive, and not wandering the halls of the Enterprise at night.”
Spock does not address this ridiculous Human turn of phrase. He only says, “Indeed.”
That’s exactly what they do.
Uhura is nonplussed about tracking down a wayward grumpy doctor because she distinctly remembers the man’s attitude. Who could forget, when so many female friends cried on her shoulder over his sharp, ungentlemanly words? But it’s her job to do as the Captain commands, and frankly, the Captain looks a little agitated, not to mention frightened, so she does as she’s told.
It takes three days to find the Southern backwoods-bred doctor. He is serving on a distant outpost that starships only visit if in dire need; it’s almost vacated of Humans and attracts the more gruesome Federation members.
After multiple comm-jostling, Uhura patches through to the medical sector. A harried nurse with an old-fashioned cigarette between her fingers answers the call. Uhura tries not to stare at the smoke curling in the background.
“Whadd’ya want, sugar?”
“I am Head of Communications on the Enterprise. I need to speak with Doctor McCoy.”
“That grumpy old bastard? You ain’t his type.”
Uhura narrows her eyes. “Put me through to Doctor McCoy now… please.” She tries for a sweet smile. It fails halfway up.
“Fine. LEONARD!” The woman turns around and bellows the name down the hall. “He’ll get here. Don’t get your panties in a twist.” She disappears off screen.
As soon as a man in a dirty white lab coat comes into view, Uhura says, “Of all the NERVE! Doctor McCoy, you ought—”
There is a sharp laugh, and the man with merry blue eyes drawls, “Helen’s as bitchy as they come, darlin’—just like every other soul on this hunk of metal.” He grins at her, narrowing his eyes. “Do I know you?”
“We met briefly during my physical. I’m with communications on the Enterprise.”
At the mention of the Starfleet flagship, the smile drops from his face. “Forgive me for forgetting your pretty face then, ma’am. I wasn’t on her long enough to take lasting impressions.”
She ignores that, and proceeds with her script. “Doctor McCoy, I am not contacting you to discuss the past. Captain Kirk—you do remember him, don’t you?”
There’s some dark cloud coming over McCoy’s face. “Hell, I do! Man couldn’t go a day without damaging something or other! Always fixing him up—”
“Doctor,” she warns. “Captain Kirk asked me to obtain your location. I am sending you our current coordinates and a transmission frequency to tap into. Please contact the Captain immediately. He wishes to speak with you.”
“What the Hell am I supposed to do from here? Diagnose a mole? Jesus! Can’t he get that—Vulcan—”
“Mr. Spock. Right, well… Spock to do whatever it is? If I recall, Spock was always harping on about his superiority to us mere Humans—”
“He’ll be awaiting your comm, Doctor. Good day.” She cuts the line and leans back in her chair with a deep sigh. Sometimes being the intermediary is quite the job. Uhura wants a pay raise or a commendation or both.
When McCoy finally gets around to contacting the Captain of the Enterprise, it’s much too late for Kirk. He can tell by Kirk’s thunderous expression that he did not appreciate the wait.
Well, too damn bad. If Kirk wants to talk, so he can damn well wait until Leonard has a minute. There so many unnecessary brawls on this God-forsaken outpost, he spends most of his days shoving innards back into place. Kirk would never survive my job, he thinks. That satisfies him enough to be slightly cordial to the man.
“What’s so God-damned important that you had to look me up, Kirk?”
If anything, Kirk is all the more thunderous. “Doctor McCoy, I suggest you remember your position.”
“Now, don’t pull that card with me, Jimmy.” Kirk looks surprised that McCoy remembers his name—then realizes that Jimmy is not something he wants to be called, especially by a doctor with a down-hill Starfleet career.
“Call me Jim.” He says it in such a sharp tone that McCoy snorts.
“Right, like you called me Bones?”
Oh shit. Shouldn’t have brought that up. Kirk’s eyes are lit now, but not in anger, in amusement. “Bones.” He says the name like he’s testing it for just the right amount of annoyance.
Damn it! “What do you want, Jim?”
“Well, one of my big questions is answered. You aren’t dead.”
“And I don’t feel dead, either. Does that help?”
Kirk laughs. “Oh, Bones. You wouldn’t believe the kind of nights I’ve been having.”
Oh Lord, he mutters. Exactly how insane is this Captain? He doesn’t remember Kirk being a lunatic. In fact, if he really thinks about it, he might admit that he had the impression Kirk was good at his job. A shame he didn’t get to stay long enough to really organize his thoughts on the subject.
“If this is a social call, you won’t mind if I have a drink.” Leonard pulls out a bottle of bourbon from his desk, forgoes the glass, and takes a swig right from the bottle.
Kirk looks impressed. “That outpost must be awful.”
“You don’t know the half of it.” Now that Leonard has an audience to whom he can vent his frustrations, he isn’t about to shut his mouth. Damned Starfleet brass—can’t take him any lower, can they, for his opinions? Kirk doesn’t look like a tattle-tell. “Not only are we stuck out on the damned edge of the galaxy, but I have to put up with every miscreant, diseased rogue, and backward ass that passes through the joint. Ought to let ’em patch their own damned wounds as they please.” He’s slouched in the chair now, grumbling.
“Now I remember you, Bones! Your bed-side manner is lacking.”
McCoy snaps, “Then I suppose I’m in the right place, Jim. We’re all lacking in manners ’round here!”
Kirk holds up his hands as if to say sorry, calm down, buddy. There is a moment of awkward silence between them. Finally, Kirk speaks.
“Have you had any strange… encounters in the last few weeks, Bones?”
McCoy’s eyebrow shoots up. “Define strange.”
Kirk looks almost pained. What he says is so low that McCoy has to cock his ear to the speaker to make it out. When he does understand the words, his brain fizzles. Leonard cannot help himself; he bursts into laughter. “G-ghosts-ss! Good Lord!”
Kirk waits impatiently for McCoy to finish. When McCoy doesn’t stop… “BONES!”
“All right, all right! I’m s-sorry— You just don’t know how much I needed that laugh, Jim.” McCoy takes in his expression and immediately sobers. “You’re serious.”
“C’mon, you can’t really believe that there’s a boogey-man haunting your quarters impersonating me!” He is honestly astonished. It makes no sense.
“I know how crazy it sounds, but I’m not the only one. Spock—”
“That green-blooded computer! You can’t mean he’s getting ’em too!”
“Spock was first, actually. He came to me. I ignored his concerns when I shouldn’t have—”
McCoy waves his hand to stop Kirk mid-self-recrimination. “Enough of that, Jim-boy. If Spock’s been visited—then there has to be something going on. He’s too damned logical—” emotionless he doesn’t add, “—to be making up stories like that.” Hell, I don’t think he has an imagination!
Kirk agrees. They settle in to discuss the weird possibilities. The easy conversation is almost familiar and right. Leonard’s mind doesn’t want to go there, so he focuses on listening to Jim—and damn, now he’s calling Kirk by his first name in his thoughts!—explain some of the Enterprise’s more creepy experiences with specters.
An hour passes by so quickly and smoothly that both men are surprised at the interruption of Kirk’s desk comm. It’s Uhura, calling him to the Bridge. Jim’s promise to comm Leonard again is swift and sure; Leonard almost reluctantly says goodbye.
When he is alone—in this terribly shabby office for the Senior Medical Officer—he caps his bourbon already half-forgotten on the edge of his desk and stretches out on the couch for a short rest. If there is a smile on his face as he drifts off, he won’t remember it on the next round of dreary medical cases.
During Alpha shift on the Enterprise, Spock wakes up to warm breath on the point of his ear. His senses are alert enough to recognize this familiar presence, so he calms down the rapid beating of his heart and relaxes his breathing. He thinks at it, What are you?
The weight of intangible hand presses on the center of Spock’s chest. The spot cools enough to border on uncomfortable for a Vulcan. When Spock touches the place, his fingertips meet nothing but his own skin.
And just like that, there is an image in his head as the spirit makes contact. It shows him a Human with blue eyes and a bright grin; a face he’s seen before—one that mostly scowled but could (possibly) look so pleased. The response is the same.
Jim has a different experience. He’s on the Bridge, half-asleep in his chair because of his inability to rest in his own quarters. His eyes shoot open as something heavy drops into his lap.
Only, his lap is empty.
Jim gets up from the Captain’s seat (quelling his alarm—not that well) and nonchalantly (he hopes) strolls around the Bridge with one eye on the center. As he comes abreast, the chair looks inconspicuous enough, so he sits down.
Whoever—whatever—it is sits in his lap again.
If the Captain looks somewhat wild-eyed during the rest of his shift, none of the crew will mention it—to the Captain. Amongst themselves, the gossip flies. What’s the matter with Captain Kirk?
Kirk himself wonders something similar. He wants to know: Why him and why Spock?