Title: Untitled (11/?)
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 | Part 9 | Part 10
Bones is alone in the condo for ten agonizing minutes before he grabs the medikit from the bathroom and bolts after Jim and Spock.
Of course, the first place Jim and Spock approach is the little tavern that seems to be the center of the drama unfolding on the Square.
They both have been here several times since Bones finally opened up to them (though much too sparsely for either’s liking). That following morning, they had left him in their bed, with less worry lines around his eyes, in a placid (trouble-less) sleep. Jim made quite the scene at the tavern: demanding to speak to the old man, intimidating the poor hostess with sharp questions. Only Spock had occasionally intervened when Jim was close to losing his control; otherwise, he too had tired of waiting for answers (not when Leonard needed them).
That first time had impressed upon these people that the two lovers of Leonard McCoy were not going to stand idly by and watch their third lose himself. They would be relentless.
After Jim managed to have more than a few supplies beamed down for a temporary (but competent—Spock insisted) laboratory, he went directly to the tavern again (alone) and stated in no uncertain terms that they would cooperate with any procedures necessary to the ongoing investigation. As a representative of the Federation, I am here to give you fair warning. We do NOT tolerate harm against any member of our organization. You will comply, and we will not prosecute you. Am I understood?
Okay, maybe Jim had stretched a little beyond the rights granted to a captain, but he knew in his heart the risk was worth it.
He was given immediate (slightly fearful) assurance from those present. Word spread quickly elsewhere.
The third time, Spock needed a volunteer for testing purposes.
Spock entered, stopped, and observed that more than half of the usual amount of patrons were absent from the tavern. When Jim became visible behind him, those that were there almost seemed to shrink into their chairs. Spock made no comment, though he did raise his eyebrow at Jim (Captain?). An answering twinkle in Jim’s eyes was the only reply.
The hostess was wide-eyed and clutched a rag (the same old one) in her hands. She said the equivalent of “We will cooperate!”
Spock found the statement odd, given that he had made no request. “We require a willing participant in our studies.“
“Yes, we will cooperate!” She pointed at herself and the others around her.
Spock said nothing for a full minute, then simply detached a case from his belt and gestured to a nearby stool. “Please sit down.”
She looked at the stool, at Spock, then at the Captain (who simply stared back) and hurried to do as they bade her.
Spock donned gloves, and proceeded to gather a wealth of non-invasive samples (skin, salvia, blood, etc.) from his test subjects as Jim herded all of the rest into line. (McCoy made no comment—when Spock handed him the full case—other than “We certainly won’t need seconds, will we?”)
When they swing open the doors, the tavern is deserted. No one hangs about in the shadows, by the bar; there is no hostess nor an old man gently murmuring to himself.
Jim looks at Spock and says, “What’s Plan B?”
Leonard has no intention of catching up with Jim and Spock. He plans to get to Ceri’a before they do. And luckily for him, Leonard’s got a damned good idea where she’ll be. (After all, he wants to be there too, doesn’t he?)
So he follows that gut instinct (that annoying buzz calling him onward) past the city outskirts, past the docks. Practically on the edge of nowhere, it seems, where a tall cliff hangs out over the sea in foreboding fashion. She’s at its base, perched on a rock arranging strange little shells in a line. McCoy stops at the edge of the shore where sand meets sea and a long, long wall of cliff.
Ceri’a, he thinks loudly. Her head turns in his direction, the wind whipping it into snarls and tangles. He knows she’s looking at him now, though he cannot see her face, because he feels dreadfully cold and the hairs on the back of his neck are standing up.
McCoy makes a show of circling in the sand until he plops down in one spot a good many feet from the water.
If he waits long enough, she will come to him. Of that, he is absolutely sure.
Jim finally manages to catch one of the Shii’reti. He corners the young man between the walls of an alley, with Spock looming (disapprovingly) in the background.
“Where is she?” he asks ominously. Jim is not angry or off-his-rocker, as Bones would say, but he knows from experience that the only way to get a response from these people is to wrangle it out of them with power. (They respect, and acquiesce to, power.)
The man’s face is white with a tint of blue, which makes him look like a corpse (a sight Jim is intimately acquainted with because of Tarsus). Jim swallows the bile rising in his throat, shoves away those memories.
Captain Kirk leans in a little, ‘unhappy’ written all over his face.
The man squeaks, points in a direction.
“Uh-uh. That’s not how this works,” Jim says. “Take us there.”
“Captain,” Spock comes up behind them both. “Perhaps it is unwise…”
Their captive takes that interlude to lurch out of Kirk’s grip and attempt to run. Jim latches onto him, swings him around (no, Jim, don’t punch the fellow), and tries not to topple over with the dead weight against him once Spock nerve-pinches the man.
“Jesus, Spock! A little warning next time!” he pants out.
“If you agree to inform me when your ‘Plan B’ involves taking prisoners, Captain.”
She slithers onto the sand. McCoy resists the urge to help her up. It’s obvious her legs are not working right, because they drag behind her uselessly. (Paralysis, his mind displays a list of conditions with this symptom.)
By the time Ceri’a reaches him, she has spit out the seawater from her lungs and regards him with a cool eye. “McCoy has come back.”
Yes, McCoy is a fool—with two foolish lovers.
He plays along, even with churning insides. “Yes, darling,” his voice gives the word a sweet edge, “McCoy comes back to Ceri’a.”
Her smile is full of shark-like teeth. Leonard wills his heart to pump a little slower. (Never give the scent of fear.)
Suddenly, lowering his shields seems like a wonderful idea. Spock… Spock?
“Spock. Spock!” Ceri’a mimics the call, and McCoy is on her in an instant. His vision is too dark, too angry. Those words… out of her mouth, he’ll be damned if he lets her take that intimacy away from him! Not Spock, not Jim!
She mauls his arms and scratches long nails on his face. When she sinks her teeth in his shoulder, Bones throws them both down, forces her head back, and jabs a hypospray full of sedatives right into her neck.
When she finally, finally goes limp on top of him, Leonard rolls her off and closes his eyes against the water splashing at the sand on his face. He realizes, with a heart wrench, that she has managed to drag him to the edge of the sea, like dinner.
He takes his time collecting samples from the beast.
It is little effort to convince the young man, after he wakes up from oblivion, to lead them. They come upon a small cottage (weeds in the cracks of laid mud and stones) with its door ajar. When their guide will get no closer than a hundred yards, they abandon him and approach the cottage with phasers drawn. (Jim made the weapons an order along with the science materials.)
The smell is atrocious. Spock sways at the first wind that hurls the scent in their faces. It’s rank decay. Jim (unfortunately) knows this smell too.
A brisk “Hello?” but only the sound is the waves breaking far off in the distance.
There is no one inside this place either. The cottage is one large room, separated into quarters—for eating, sleeping—and it is automatically the mess on the kitchen floor that catches their attention.
Spock squats down to examine the contents with his tricorder. (Jim thinks he is holding his breath—God knows, that’s what Kirk is attempting to do.) A moment later, Spock tells him, “Captain, this matches one of the specimens McCoy and I have tested.”
“You mean, it’s the seafood that woman ate?”
“Yes, it appears so. The state of decay indicates a time frame of at least sixteen days prior.”
Jim nods his head to show that he has heard Spock. He is walking around the room, nudging items with his boot (not touching with his hands—McCoy would be proud). There is a bundle on the cot in the corner. When Jim lifts the edge of it with his phaser, he makes a terrible strangled noise and is across the room before Spock can blink.
Spock touches Jim, who (is not trembling) gives him an “I’m okay” smile.
After studying the bundle in question, Spock says in a hushed voice, “The infant is deceased.”
Spock drops the shroud back into place. “No. I am unable—if the Doctor were here—I believe approximately two weeks.”
With a forced breath (through his mouth), Jim’s voice comes out sharp. “Wrap up the… fish or whatever it is. I’ll, I will take care of the rest.”
“Jim, if you prefer…”
“No, Spock, I said I’ll do it.”
By the time Spock has collected the remnants of a long-ago meal, Jim has laid the dead child to rest.
Note: McCoy seems to be tired of the victim role… Oh well. *fiddles with an imaginary set of eyeglasses* If you had to categorize this story, would you say it was… a) morbid, b) crack-tastic, or c) just plain creepy? (Spock would say I’m full of crack—even though I swear I’m not; Bones would go for ‘demented’ which isn’t a choice… and I’m not entirely sure Jim’s response would be appropriate, in lieu of his affinity for mermaid tails.