Title: The Odds Are Better Together
Fandom: Star Trek TOS and AOS
Characters: Kirk, Spock, McCoy
Disclaimer: I humbly disavow any rights to Star Trek.
Summary: A collection of short drabbles about our favorite three! Mostly gen, some K/S/M.
Previous Parts: 1-4 | 5-8
It’s all lies, McCoy knows. From Jocelyn’s “it’s just a late meeting, dear, don’t wait up” to the lawyer’s “Doctor McCoy is a busy man—he has no time for a child!” to the Starfleet recruitment poster with Be a Hero, Serve in Starfleet stamped in heavy bold letters.
Doesn’t matter, though, in the end. Leonard accepts the lies that bear him down and trudges on. He’s lost so much faith, he wonders if he will ever get it back. Even when he is trying to keep a man’s guts from slipping out onto the table, there is no room for faith and little time for prayer. It’s the work of his own two hands that bind the wound and save a life.
Trust no one but yourself, he repeats often.
Despite that he falls for an exuberant (alive) man named Jim Kirk, trails devotedly in the wake of Jim’s glory, he keeps his heart to himself with an iron, shaking grip and says no—no, Jim, love you too, but I won’t.
When he meets an extraordinary non-human—a Vulcan—that makes his temper boil and his empathy swell, Leonard never takes that step to the foreground and admits that he might feel more. He buries the denial in a slew of insults and brash arguments. (He thinks that Spock sees through his blustering. Vulcans are perceptive.)
Leonard—Bones—Doctor McCoy—is a man with a cracked heart and thick walls of fear.
It takes years of hard work, to trust openly and without thought. It takes almost an entire five-year mission to bring Leonard out from behind those walls, to allow Jim and Spock on the other side. But when it happens, it’s glorious, right, and perfect. Jim says “Never going to leave you, Bones” and he accepts that Jim won’t lie. Spock touches his face, the corners of his eyes, and Leonard has found a little faith on which to cling.
Then the world crumbles again as Admiral Kirk takes the place of Jim, and Spock just goes away. They steal off into the night carrying the fragile remnants of Bones’ broken heart.
(He never finds all the pieces.)
Mr. Spock can recite the textbook meaning of the word change. As a Vulcan, however, he finds its application somewhat difficult (though he would claim unnecessary). Spock has routine and protocol. Lines are easy to follow—simple, logical.
Captain Kirk is the first zigzag to cross his path. The Vulcan stops, considers this new phenomenon, but proceeds on without a backwards glance. Then the cross-paths become more frequent—and distracting from his line. (Tempting.) The first time Mr. Spock takes a detour, he learns a valuable lesson. Kirk’s path ends at the same destination, despite its non-linear approach. Spock goes back to trekking along down his path—the same old line—just a little wiser, a little more experienced in change.
Then he meets the curve that is Doctor McCoy. It’s not sharp, like mathematical syntax, and a series of angles. The curve is almost wild in its gentle slope and, if he could admit so, daunting. Spock does not step onto the path of the circle for a very long time. In fact, he rails against it at first—pretends offense at the intrusion of his logical course. Eventually, however, a Vulcan with a fascination for all things new cannot resist a small (short/compact/terminating) experiment.
As it turns out, circular thoughts make Spock a little dizzy.
When Spock is much, much older and a lot more sage than the budding young Vulcan who only traveled by straight lines, he recalls his paths through life. He paints it on a canvas. The final piece blossoms into an artwork of beauty—with its sharp juts, twirls, stops and starts. It’s a tale of his growth from one to three.
He presents this wisdom to those who are just beginning the journey. They listen to his words, ask questions like “were you afraid?” and “did it cost you your Vulcan principles?”
He answers, quite simply, that he outgrew his fear and that it cost little, yet gave him much in return.
Kirk takes a last, hard look at the man in the agonizer booth and says a (very beautiful) phrase to his CMO: “I don’t care what you do with him.”
For Doctor Leonard McCoy, CMO of the ISS Enterprise, this is the best part of his job. He has the man strapped down to a long steel table—limbs, head, and middle. He pats the pale cheek and says with a kindness not inherent in the lines of his face, “Don’t want you making too much fuss, son.” Then he slides a long needle through the soft flesh of the man’s throat and injects a paralytic straight into the vocal cords with a precision that speaks of experience.
Leonard pauses, after that moment, to observe the stark terror in the man’s eyes and the cold gleaming of his exposed white skin. Then he unrolls the tools of his trade, touching each scalpel, hook, and saw lovingly. (Always honed, always prepped.) Next comes tight-fitting gloves and a small mask to protect his nose and mouth from blood-spray. (To hide a soft smile.) McCoy picks up the first instrument from the long line.
“Such a foolish man, to go after the Captain.” He runs the blade across the sternum—ignoring the tremble of the body beneath—not breaking skin, just caressing. “But I’ll tell you a secret…” The doctor leans in with bright blue eyes. “I’m sorry ya didn’t succeed, my friend.”
Leonard may love this job, but he knows that his skills will get him a fine position anywhere in the Empire. Men like the Doctor always have plenty of (live) toys because of schemes and plots gone awry. McCoy doesn’t like to be beholden to one man for too lengthy a time—especially not James T. Kirk. (Such a ruthless bastard.)
“The Captain takes too many risks for my tastes,” he confides in a whisper as he makes the first cut through the epidermis. “I like quiet—” The ensign’s mouth gapes wide but silent. “—honest work.”
Later, First Officer Spock comes to Sickbay and Leonard hands him the recording of the night’s procedure without fuss. Kirk has his entertainment for dinner—and a ship-wide warning for those crewmen unwise enough to speak of sharp blades deep in Captains’ hearts.
Leonard grins at the Vulcan, who remains untouched (and untouchable). Yes, just those who thoughtlessly open their mouths and seal their fate. The silent plan, however, is another matter entirely.
“We look ridiculous, Jim.”
“I must agree with Doctor McCoy.” Spock adjusts the helmet that tries to slide down his face.
Kirk’s not laughing with his mouth, though he shows signs of wanting to very much. McCoy scowls. “Don’t strain yourself on our account. Go ahead. Laugh it up.”
Jim grins at them both, but he’s not so stupid as to give McCoy another reason (in a long, long list of reasons) to make his Sickbay physicals Hell. He merely says, “The costume department ran out of robes and smocks.”
McCoy flaps the sleeve of his gown. “So I had to go as the princess! You—”
“Bones, you’re skinny enough to wear it.”
This just makes McCoy’s face redder. “Yeah, well, in case you haven’t noticed—” He plucks at the front of his pale blue dress. “—I’m lacking something here!”
Kirk’s grin just grows and his eyes twinkle. “Oh, I noticed.”
Luckily, Spock is out of range of the flying spittle. “Captain, I find that my movements are impaired in this… uniform.” The metal pieces grate together and clank-clank-clank as the Vulcan tests his joint movements. “If I could—”
“No can do, Spock. Besides, Princess McCoy here needs a champion.”
McCoy screeches so loud it offends Spock’s ears. “Just wait, Captain, until I get you alone without witnesses—I’ll jam a hypospray so far up—”
Spock says, “Doctor McCoy lacks the etiquette of royalty. Perhaps—”
This swings McCoy’s attention from direly threatening the Captain’s nether regions to a hopeful possibility. “Yeah, I’m just an old country doctor. Spock is certainly more genteel.” He draws out the word. “Let him wear the dress, Jim!”
“No,” Spock says a little too quickly for Vulcan posterity. “I find this attire suitable. Shall we proceed to the planet, Captain?”
Jim leads the way to the transporter room with a (lovely) McCoy swooshing behind him and Spock awkwardly not-waddling down the corridor at a much sedater pace. If Jim licks his lips in anticipation of the coming adventure, neither McCoy nor Spock can see him do so.