Title: Untitled (7/?)
Summary Something has changed McCoy and he’s not sure how to explain it to his lovers.
Previous parts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
Jim stripped off his jacket and flung it over the nearest object. To an observer, his face was blank; anyone who truly understood James Tiberius Kirk would have already turned tail and started running. With the exception of a particular Vulcan, who calmly folded the discarded jacket and set it on a side table near the entrance. (The Captain is notorious for his inability to locate decent outerwear.)
“Captain, I do not sense—“
“Bones!” the man just increased his volume. “BONES!”
Had his nature been wholly human, Spock might have flinched. “Jim, raising your voice will not bring Leonard here. He is not in the vicinity.”
Kirk narrowed his eyes. “And where would he be, Spock?”
“Captain.” Just the way Spock bit out the word—you are lucky that I have (infinite) patience with you—warned his human. “It is illogical to assume that I would be more aware of Leonard’s schedule than yourself.”
After a deep (if somewhat ragged) breath, the hostility tightening Jim’s shoulders released its grip. “Spock, I’m sorry. Of course you don’t know any more than I do. I guess I am just a little… upset right now.”
“A natural response for a human.”
Jim gave a small chuckle. “It just might be.” He perched on a stool, crossed his arms (tried to raise an eyebrow). “And how do half-humans respond when their lover has been errant and getting in tremendous amounts of trouble?”
Like yourself, Jim-boy? Spock could almost hear McCoy’s dry interceding comment. He answered as only he could—with a magnificent uplift of his brow. Which earned him a true (though short) laugh.
“Okay!” Jim sprang from the stool and began pacing. “What do we know so far? Bones hasn’t been himself for several days.”
Spock found it fascinating that Jim could not stay still for long periods of time (unless Leonard had him strapped down in Sickbay). “Correct. After the third night, he displayed symptoms of disturbed sleep. Upon inquiry, Leonard assured me that he was ‘fine.’ His mannerisms have also been affected: reluctance to communicate, social withdrawal, periods of despondence, paranoia—”
That gave Jim pause. “Paranoia, Spock?”
“Yes. A psychological disturbance in which—“
“I know the definition, thank you. But I haven’t noticed Bones being overly paranoid. At least,” he muttered, “more than usual.”
“He has displayed several instances of—as human colloquium observes—‘looking over his shoulder.’ In particular, Leonard appears to anticipate an… altercation with the natives. Quite unexplainable, as the people of Shii’ret have proven to be largely accepting of and non-violent towards outworlders.”
“Alright, paranoid it is.” Running his fingers through his hair, Jim continued. “And we also know that at some point Bones did interact with the Shii’reti, without our presence.”
“I suspect this occurred before the end of the third day, when Leonard offered to prepare our evening meal but did not return until 2.3 hours past the agreed time.”
“He looked so tired, I thought… I know I was worried about him. He did say he had been held-up by a medical emergency in town.” Which, at Bones’s wording, had sounded like a hassle—he should have known better, Bones never treated a medical case like a burden—but a successful one. (And no more questions, okay!)
“Precisely. When Doctor McCoy physically assisted a native who is estranged from Shii’reti society.”
“But what does that—“ Jim swallowed, “you don’t think they hurt him, do you?” His face clouded over at the thought. “I swear…”
“I cannot speculate without knowledge of what transpired between the Doctor and this native. However,” he unfolded a hand from his back and reached out to his lover—who quickly touched fingers with him, for reassurance, “Jim, Leonard has no visible markings of abuse.”
“He has medical supplies.“
“The medikit is not equipped to handle serious injuries, and the Shii’reti have a limited knowledge of medicine.”
“This is Bones we talking about. The man denies exhaustion and ignores bullet wounds so he can take care of others.”
“Indeed, Doctor McCoy does have a predilection for such behavior.”
“If he wasn’t harmed, then what could have caused him to avoid us? Spock?” Jim felt his stomach drop at Spock’s silence.
“You do think he was harmed, don’t you? Not physically but mentally.”
“Yes. It is the logical conclusion. He has abnormal sleep patterns and headaches. Also—“ Spock drew a breath, “the bond I share with Leonard is somewhat impaired.”
“Spock! Impaired… how could you not have mentioned that?!” Jim almost looked angry again (only a quick moment).
“Jim, Leonard is not comfortable with a fully developed bond—you are aware of this fact. He has studied the technique of mental shielding quite well, and there are… occasions when the shields are strongly enforced. I accept such, for Leonard values the privacy of his mind.”
“You thought he was blocking you on purpose. Another part of his strange behavior.”
“Affirmative. I have great respect for Leonard. I would not cause him discomfort.”
“I admit that I am uncertain. The lack of feeling from the bond is unnatural.”
“We’ve got to get him to talk to us.”
“Yes. We must confront Leonard.”
Jim knew that—agreed with it, welcomed it. For Bones’ sake.
“Until Leonard’s return, I will research the data gathered by the Federation pertaining to this planet and its inhabitants.”
“Let me help, Spock.”
Note: The reference to McCoy’s bullet wound is from the TOS episode A Private Little War in which Bones is shot (a flesh wound), and everyone, including him, promptly forgets about it in order to save the day. In particular, Bones is too focused on Kirk to pay attention to himself. Kudos to anyone who catches the second reference to another episode of TOS!