Title: Untitled (9/?)
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 | Part 7 | Part 8
Leonard stops just outside the door, paying no mind as it slides shut behind him. Jim stares at him but says nothing, and Spock looks as serene as only Vulcans can in the face of a show-down.
“Can I at least change my clothes first?”
Jim shrugs. “Sure,” he says.
As Leonard turns for the bedroom (and an escape), Jim adds at his back, “Oh and Bones? We’ll be waiting.” Leonard lingers on their faces (Jim’s, hard, determined; Spock’s, eyes gentle and dark). Once safely away, he swallows.
It’s. Gonna. Be. Okay.
When he reappears in the kitchen, Spock and Jim are standing companionably side-by-side, each with a cup of tea in hand. Jim meets his eyes, and inclines his head towards a third cup on the counter. Leonard gratefully inhales the steam of the hot (sweet, as he likes it) tea.
“We should be seated,” Spock announces.
He leads them into a tastefully decorated area (look at this paraphernalia! Jim had disapproved on first sight). It does not escape Leonard’s attention that Jim—on his left—is within barricade distance of a front door departure; nor that Spock positions himself an arm’s length away to the right (in front of the deck doors, the direction quickest to the water’s edge).
“I’m not—” “Bones, we know—”
Both Jim and Leonard jump in head-first. When Spock quirks his eyebrow at them, they look a little sheepishly at each other.
“Leonard, please, begin.”
“Well, Spock, now I’m curious about what Jim has to say. Might be more enlightenin’ than this old doctor’s woes.” He turns to Jim. Passes the ball on.
“Bones, this involves all of us—” Jim glances over at Spock, who nods affirmatively, “—whether or not you seem to want to include us.”
Leonard sighs. “I know that. I do.” He shuts his eyes briefly and pinches the bridge of his nose. “It’s serious.”
No one says much for a moment. Jim’s face has lost a little color. Spock is very still.
He refuses to look at either of them. “Tonight, I walked into the ocean and…I could have stayed there.”
A quiet “Why?” (A smaller, whispered incredulous “what?”)
“Because I’m not myself anymore.” He suddenly does not want to sit, but cannot move to get up. “Hell, I don’t know! It’s complicated.”
This gets Jim to his feet. “Complicated! Complicated, Bones, does not cover it! You just said you wanted to drown yourself!”
“I—No! For Christ’s sake, Jim. That’s not what I meant! I mean,” he stutters for a second. Damn my big mouth!
When Jim hitches forward, Spock calmly slowly lets his hand come to rest on Leonard’s arm—which seems to make Jim check his momentum and pull back (collect himself).
“There are only three feasible explanations for your statement ‘I could have stayed there.’ Logic dictates to discard the possibility that you were referring to a positive event …”
“Correct, Spock, as always. I certainly didn’t mean that I was havin’ a rompin’ good time!” Leonard bites down on a corner of his mouth.
“If you will allow me to proceed, Doctor? Then are two more direct variations: either you could physically stay in the ocean—” Jim coughs a little; Spock and Leonard meet eyes, “or it is as Jim interprets it.”
“I don’t want to kill myself. That’s just plain crazy.” He looks at them both. “I’m not leaving you two like that, I swear it.”
“In a sense you have left us, Leonard, for the past several days.”
“I know that, I’m sorry.” God, how much could he repeat himself? “I’m in a mess of trouble, and I thought I could fix it—get over it—myself.” He does rise with those words, pacing in the small confinement between Jim, the couch, and chairs.
He turns on Jim. “Shore leave is supposed to be relaxing, Jim! How can we do that with every Tom, Dick, and Harry messing up our plans all the God-damned time!”
A wry smile. “Since when have we ever been so lucky?”
“Not with you around,” he mumbles half-heartedly. A (wobbly) sigh. “Sorry, Jim, I don’t mean that. It’s my fault, truly. I got screwed with, and it’s no one’s fault but my own.”
Jim makes a grab for his shoulders, says earnestly, “Listen, Bones. You’re not at fault—No!” he bowls over Leonard’s denial. “You are not. You help, not harm—anyone who takes advantage of that is…” His hands tighten with the all of the unsaid vulgar words.
“You know what I’m saying, Bones. How many times have you said it to me?”
That earns a little smile from Leonard. “Okay, Jim. I hear ya.”
“Good. Then you know that, no matter what is going on, Spock and I only want to help you. Tell us what’s wrong. What’s happened?” He presses a hand to the doctor’s cheek.
“Jim—” the name trails off uncertainly.
“Please, Bones.” (It breaks him, a little, inside.)
“Leonard.” Long fingers touch his back, the curve of his neck. “Today, we learned of your encounter with a Shii’reti.” Spock’s voice is quiet. “Is this the cause of your distress?”
And he’s almost blown wide open.
“Yes. Yes, it’s about that, about her. She—” his throat is contracted (so damned tight) “she’s not normal.” As far from normal as it gets (like me now).
“She’s changed me,” he whispers and drops his head on Jim’s shoulder. (Breathes in that scent of Jim and wants to cry.) Two pairs of arms secure him to the earth.
“I’m scared.” A second admission to weakness, to need.
There are cool fingers trailing through his hair.
“We’re all scared, Bones. But that’s okay because we are all here, and no one—no one—is going to leave.” His face is in loving hands. “We promised, Bones, remember? No leaving allowed.”
His mouth trembles yes, a hand automatically seeks to find Spock (grasp and hold on).
But he’s still scared—afraid that there won’t be a choice for any of them.
When they maneuver him onto the couch, Jim on his knees holding Leonard’s hands and Spock’s got him against his chest, Leonard gives in.
He tells them about Ceri’a and the nightmarish ‘prophecies’ but not the how or when. He skims over the incident at the northern dock, and just says he feels different somehow (not that he knows he is). He does not mention the (building) urge to return to the sea.
They all take a moment to touch each other reassuringly.
Then Jim and Spock tell him about the story of the first Shii’reti and the strict attitude of the people. Together, they ponder the implications of this unnerving situation (as shore leave becomes officially irrelevant).
What is it about the ocean on this planet that makes the consumption of its organisms dangerous?
How does it affect the Shii’reti? Are those effects mental, physical, or both?
And (Lord, Bones says aloud) if it’s a disease, what is the contagion? (Not accounting for inter-species transference…)
It is Spock who appeals to the scientist in McCoy, suggests researching the components of the sea-water and sea-specimens. Jim decides to call in a few favors to get a laboratory set up. And unsurprisingly both of these men (he loves dearly) are in silent agreement about handling the natives (and Ceri’a) on McCoy’s behalf. He doesn’t bother asking them exactly what it is they plan to do. He is just grateful.
Yet no one voices the question Is there a cure?—which is foremost on Leonard’s mind.
Note: Sorry, I didn’t have the heart to write an angry confrontation… not with this established K/S/M!