Title: The Boy and the Sea Dragon (2/?)
Fandom: Star Trek AOS
Characters: Kirk, Spock, McCoy
Summary: On an away mission, Captain Kirk encounters an old friend he hasn’t thought of in years. Unfortunately, their meeting is less than fortuitous and bodes ill for the rest of Jim’s crew.
Previous Part: 1
Eighteen years later…
“If you go about sticking your nose into every God-damn unsavory or dark place, you’re liable to lose it. I’m a doctor, not a plastic surgeon!”
Jim grins and immediately winces thereafter. “Bones, that makes no sense. You’re trained in reconstruction—you can use a bone regenerator to—”
McCoy presses a little too indelicately on the side of his busted nose. Kirk yelps.
“Quit yappin’, kid, or I’ll sew your mouth shut too.”
Jim eyes his CMO, then sees the amused Nurse Chapel in the background—knows that she’d be willing to help McCoy out with the procedure—and decides that he’d better play it safe this time. Bones is always pissed when Jim manages to get his face punched in by a big angry male—or whatever the race on that planet considers their male-ish counterparts to be.
But it isn’t Jim’s fault that the female was attracted to him and then made a pass. It’s natural, he believes, considering that he is a very good-looking Starfleet Captain.
A very, very good-looking one, if Bones will fix his face back to its natural state.
Jim closes his eyes, letting the pain medication do its work. They lost no one on the away mission, which means that he can relax and chalk it up to a success. His First Officer has the Bridge at the moment, and Captain Kirk plans to go back to his quarters and sleep off the leftover tension in his shoulders. It most certainly has nothing to do with resting being McCoy’s suggestion—or the fact that Bones will probably continue to drug him so that he does sleep.
Some time after that, Kirk isn’t sure because he must have dozed off, Jim comes back to the world and levers himself out of the biobed. McCoy automatically appears from the CMO’s office (as if on cue or by a sixth sense), takes Jim’s elbow and steers him to the exit of Sickbay.
“If you go to the Bridge,” Bones tells him, “Spock will personally escort you back to your quarters.”
“Are you working against me with my First Officer?”
“Damn hobgoblin and I both have the same clause in our contract; something about ‘preserving the Captain of the ship,'” Jim is reminded dryly. “Now go on.”
He is given a gentle shove out the door.
Jim lingers in the corridor for just a moment; his blue eyes are remarkably warm. Then Captain James Tiberius Kirk goes back to his quarters as ordered.
“Explain to me again why you need the CMO?”
The Captain straps a phaser to his belt and then offers McCoy one. The doctor takes it with obvious reluctance and a frown.
“Would you rather stay here?”
“Hell no. Who knows what moron is operating the transporter?”
McCoy’s back is to the transporter console. The poor ensign behind the controls is open-mouthed. Jim truly hopes that the man has learned by now that arguing with the ship’s CMO is a very dangerous thing to do and that only the experienced are likely to come out unscathed.
“Damn thing is liable to scatter your molecules instead of beaming you back for medical attention.”
Funny, how Bones assumes that Kirk is going to need medical attention. McCoy keeps talking.
“So when you end up with a hole in your chest that I can stick my hand through, at least I’ll be there to yell at you in person before you die!”
“Doctor, there are currently no circumstances on which to base your assumptions.”
Spock’s taking his Captain’s side. Maybe they are becoming a pretty good team, Jim decides.
McCoy pursues his lips and says, “Yet, Spock. There are no circumstances yet.”
The First Officer looks at the CMO for a moment before turning his attention to the Captain. Then Spock inclines his head just a fraction and replies, “Agreed.”
Scratch that. Jim is a man alone.
Bones looks smug as he takes his place on the transporter between Spock and Jim. “Let’s get this over with,” says the man in a drawl.
The Captain tells the transporter operator, “Energize.”
All goes rather well for the first three hours. Then Leonard and Spock lose sight of the Captain, and things go, predictably, to shit. No one panics right away because a missing Jim is generally par for the course. However, Spock’s orders to the other pair of searchers (two young security lieutenants) are growing more sharp with every check-in without good news. McCoy suppresses the urge to take the communicator away from the Vulcan, tell Spock to sit on a rock and meditate. Leonard opens his medikit instead and tries counting its contents to ease the unsettling feeling he has in the pit of his stomach.
When McCoy and Spock circle back around to their starting point, Leonard turns on his partner. “God-damn it, Spock! Now do you see why I wanted you to approve the installation of a tracking chip in that wayward idiot?”
“It is unethical and illegal without the Captain’s consent.”
McCoy jabs a finger at the Vulcan. “It’s damn necessary and you know it.”
“Doctor McCoy, this is an inappropriate time—”
The communicator in Spock’s hand comes to life. “Commander, we’ve found the Captain!”
Leonard fairly snatches it from the Vulcan’s hands. “Is he hurt?”
“Negative, Doctor McCoy.”
“Then tell Jim—”
Spock repossesses the communicator. “This is Commander Spock. Please relay your coordinates, Lieutenant. Hold your position.”
The security officer gives them a set of coordinates, which immediately sets Spock in motion and causes McCoy to have to catch up to him. Meanwhile, they assess the situation.
Jim has been found, alright, and not alone. The security officers are trying to find a way down a cliff face—a fool stunt that McCoy can’t decide if he should laud them for or berate about—to their Captain, who is ignoring their calls and talking with the stranger.
Damn it. For once, why can’t the uninhabited planet be honest-to-God uninhabited? Leonard sets his jaw in irritation at Fate and a certain trouble-attracting Captain. He does not complain about the quick pace that the Vulcan sets.
“What the Hell is that thing?” Leonard is lying on his stomach at the edge of the cliff. He tries not to look straight down while simultaneously ignoring the queasiness of his stomach. He calls again, “JIM! UP HERE!”
The security officer next to the doctor says, “There must be some kind of shield, Doctor. We tried to fire off a shot but—”
Leonard cranes his head around to glare at the other, who shrinks away just a tiny bit. “You can’t just go around phaser-blasting, Lieutenant!”
“It was just to get the Captain’s attention and we didn’t aim anywhere near him. I swear, Doctor!”
McCoy grunts and turns back to survey the view. Jim is cross-legged on a beach and there is something dark and huddled in front of Kirk. It looks friendly enough, but Leonard wants a face-to-face assessment of it before he makes that sort of decision.
He’s going to kick the kid’s ass once he is in range.
No, forget that. First he’ll sedate the kid and THEN kick his ass once Jim is safely on the Enterprise.
The sound of rocks cascading breaks into his short daydream. McCoy makes one quick glance to his left before he exclaims, “Shit!”
Spock is already ten feet down the cliff face, clinging to the rock like a Tiberian bat. Leonard scrambles over to the other security officer who is watching the First Officer and Science Officer of the Enterprise descend, eyes wide. The doctor pushes the idiot out of the way.
He leans over of the edge as far as he dares. “Are you out of your God-damn Vulcan mind?” he yells.
“Negative, Doctor” is the reply which can barely be heard over the pounding of Leonard’s heart.
“Spock, come back! We can get Scotty or someone to beam us down there!”
A security officer says “But there’s a shield” at the same time the other remarks “Mr. Spock already tried that.”
Damn and blast.
Leonard feels helpless as he watches the Vulcan continue, so sure that at any moment a handhold will give away or Spock’s foot will slip. When the First Officer reaches the bottom, McCoy is dizzy with relief. He releases the breath that he didn’t realize that he had been holding.
Spock looks up at them, slowly and clearly raising his communicator as a signal of intent. Leonard hastily frees his own from his belt. “Spock?”
“You owe me for the decade you just took off my life, you hobgoblin.”
“Indeed. Doctor, there appears to be an invisible barrier which begins thirty-two point seven feet from the base of the cliff. I will attempt to find its end.”
“It’d be better if you dance around like a deranged, pointy-eared monkey. There’s no way Jim can miss seeing that.”
The response is delayed, even by McCoy’s standards. “The barrier extends to the waterline.”
Oh, that’s definitely unease he can hear in Spock’s voice. The Vulcan is like a cat; he hates getting wet.
“Spock, don’t even think about it. Whatever this… thing is, it can probably make the shield go as far as it wants. You’d drown from exhaustion before you’d find the end.”
He sees the Vulcan retreat back toward the cliffs. Then Spock stands in one spot for a few minutes, facing in Jim’s direction. Leonard would give a whole hell of a lot to know what is going on in that Vulcan’s brain. He sees Spock place his hands in front of him, as if against glass. Something bright shimmers and McCoy blinks to clear his vision.
At first, he thinks that maybe Spock has found a way through the shield, but then a minute passes and nothing happens. That is, nothing happens until the dark figure in the distance slowly turns from Kirk and looks at them.
Looks directly at them.
McCoy can feel its stare; the sensation is unnerving.
Another moment passes before Spock drops his hands and waits. Something inside Leonard says now and he shouts, “Jim!”
He could almost cry when that blond head swivels in their direction. Kirk gets to his feet. He waves.
He fucking waves.
It’s possible that Leonard makes a noise between a whimper and a curse. A security officer says from behind the doctor, “The Captain doesn’t look worried.”
“Make no assumptions,” snaps McCoy, “until we speak with Captain Kirk face-to-face.”
The “Yes, Sir” is said quietly by the two young men. McCoy can see them adjusting their phasers from the corner of his eye.
Jim says something at the creature before he starts to walk to Spock. The dark thing does not move from its watchful position.
“Spock,” McCoy says into his communicator, “does Jim look alright?”
“The Captain appears unharmed. I will not have a read on his… behavior until we are in closer proximity.”
McCoy tells the First Officer grimly, “I’m not gonna tell you what to do, Spock, but you know the kind of situations we’ve landed in before. I trust your judgment.” And I won’t gainsay your actions if you decide to nerve pinch the Captain.
“Understood” is the short reply.
Leonard watches with bated breath as Jim finally comes within an arm’s length of Spock. They speak for an agonizing four minutes. During the course of that conversation, Spock gazes past Kirk to the creature a total of three times; somehow that doesn’t make McCoy feel any better. He wishes that he could see Spock’s face—the Vulcan may not have much expression, but Leonard can generally tell whether or not the Vulcan senses something amiss. Spock acquires a sharp, speculative look in his eyes.
McCoy calls into his communicator. “Jim?”
Kirk’s head cranes, looking up, as he takes Spock’s offered communicator.
“Jim.” The name is heavy with relief. “What’s going on, Captain?”
“Bones, you won’t believe me.”
“Try me, kid.” Jim doesn’t sound like he is under a foreign influence, but after the missions McCoy has been privy to, that means nothing. Then he quickly adds, “I’m going to suggest that we have this discussion on the ship, Captain.” There is no way that Jim can miss that cue.
“I hear you, McCoy.”
Leonard watches as Jim switches channels on the communicator and, he hopes, contacts Scotty. Leonard is almost to the point of feeling less tense when Spock’s body visibly stiffens, a sight that cannot be missed even from McCoy’s lofty vantage point. That sends alarms rattling off terribly loudly inside his head.
Then there is the distinct tingling of the transport effect and Leonard has no more room for thought or dread in the next split second.
The ensign is surprised when Mr. Scott relays the Captain’s orders. Nevertheless, he configures the console properly and the away team beams onto the transporter pad. Once everyone is fully formed (and he can breathe a sigh of relief that he did his job without incident), his eyes immediately fix on a hunched figure. It is motionless on the platform while the others move, startled. At first he thinks that someone is hurt, that he should contact Sickbay, but then the ensign realizes that he is deeply mistaken. It is no humanoid or species he has seen before.
He almost agrees aloud when Doctor McCoy’s voice rings out, “What the Hell did you do, Jim?”