Title: The Right-Hand Man (7/10)
Fandom: Star Trek TOS
Pairing: Kirk/Spock/McCoy (eventually)
Summary: Bones uncovers a deadly experiment which is killing a colony of innocents; it’s his mission to save them, so that’s what he’ll do… despite those out to stop him—permanently.
Previous Parts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
“Doctor McCoy, open this door! As your superior—”
“I do not believe that is a wise course of action.”
“Well, you’ve refused to do your share!”
“The amount of force necessary to ‘bend it a little’ would severely damage Starfleet property—”
“Screw that argument, Spock. How many times have we ‘had an incident’ with Starfleet property?”
“Too many, Admiral.”
“It’s Jim. Call—me—Jim!”
“Venting your dissatisfaction, due to Doctor McCoy’s refusal to comply, on other persons is not becoming of an Admiral. Jim.”
A muffled voice through the door yells, “For God’s sake, can’t I have a little peace and quiet! I can’t stitch with—” There’s a curse and some banging noises inside the bathroom.
“Bones! Bones? Are you hurt? Open this door, NOW!” Jim goes back to pounding his fist on metal.
Spock would sigh if Vulcans did such things. He’s saved from the urge by the beep that indicates a visitor. He turns, raises his eyebrow. Jim pauses with his fist mid-air, and looks in the direction of Mr. Spock’s gaze.
“Answer it,” he says.
Spock is already moving. The door to his quarters slides back to reveal Christine Chapel. She gives him a sweet smile and says (quite enthusiastically), “Why, Mr. Spock!” She grabs his shoulder, bends his upper body into the hallway and pats his cheek with her other hand. “Sorry I’m so late, darling. You know how busy things get at the clinic.”
Spock is unable to respond—which becomes unnecessary because Chapel quickly pushes him back inside and thumbs the door closed with a jab. (Jim’s left the bathroom door in lieu of the drama.) Then she releases Spock and steps out of his personal space.
“I’m truly sorry about that, Spock. I’ve been hounded by Security all day.” She explains as she unstraps a bag and sets it down on the table. “I can’t believe my luck—that you opened that door! If it’d been Len…” she trails off, glances around with a frown growing between her eyes.
“Leonard?” she calls.
“Here!” The bathroom door unlocks and McCoy pokes his head out. “You got the supplies?”
“Of course.” She pats her bag. “You owe me for this, Dr. McCoy, you really do.”
“Well, Dr. Chapel, I’ll see to it that you get paid for your efforts. Now get in here! I need your help!”
Jim is following in such close proximity to Christine that they both have to practically squeeze through the threshold together. “Captain, please! I need some room to work.”
“Sorry,” he apologizes somewhat sheepishly before his expression transforms into a grim visage at the sight of McCoy. “Bones—” He breaks off his next words, instead reaches out to support McCoy who is leaning precariously against the sink. “My God, Bones, what happened to you?”
“Would you believe me if I said space pirates?” He lets Jim manhandle him onto the toilet seat. (McCoy looks too haggard and grey.)
“Are you joking?” Kirk asks almost hopefully.
“No, Jim. Wish I was.”
“Gentlemen, the chit-chat can wait,” Dr. Chapel says in her you’d better not give me trouble, I’ve got a large hypospray voice. “I need to take a look at Leonard’s injuries.”
Jim reluctantly releases McCoy and steps away. Spock is close at his back, watchful.
“Christine, I can tell ya what’s the matter. Sweep the tricorder over here,” he gestures to an area on his left side, “and around my back. Should be a couple of bruised ribs, healing dermal lacerations. No infection—I had some antibiotics with me—”
Chapel’s sharp intake of breath when she gets to his back speaks volumes. McCoy meets her eyes, shakes his head with later. For a moment, she doesn’t look like she will accept that—until she turns around to place the tricorder back into its case, snaps it closed (with a bit of force).
She looks at Jim and Spock (it’s always them, when Leonard’s hurt) and says, “Please wait for us in the other room.”
Jim might have spoken, but Spock simply seems to agree and gives Kirk an unreadable look (except between them). They exit without protest. They have learned when to bend to Chapel’s requests—and when to fight. (Today is not one of those times.)
An half-hour later, McCoy comes out into the living area, shirt on (all evidence covered) and gently takes a seat in the nearest chair. Jim looks torn between questioning McCoy and questioning Christine. He relents in neither case, but tosses out, “Which one of you wants to begin?”
McCoy coughs lightly into his hand. “I doubt either of us has much to say.”
“Speak for yourself, Leonard.” Christine’s voice is sharper than usual. “Captain—Admiral,” Jim waves off her correction, “here are the medications Leonard needs to take twice daily.” She hands a surprised Jim a case of hyposprays. “If he’s in pain—and when Leonard says he’s fine, you can be rest assured that he hurts—you may up the dose to three.”
She smiles at both Spock and Jim. “I think you two have dealt with Doctor McCoy enough to know how to handle his responses properly.”
She ignores McCoy’s “Christine!” and heads for the door. “He’s in your hands now.” She stops, looks over her shoulder at them, her face almost grave. “Take good care of him.” To McCoy, “Leonard, lie down and get some rest. You’ve been on those stimulants much too long. Comm me if you need me.”
And with those parting words, she leaves the trio alone. One injured—harried for time, against danger; two newly heart-healed but still lost; all three stubbornly incomplete.
Kirk sits on the armrest of another chair, arms folded across his chest. “First Scotty; now Christine. Who else is in on your plans? Sulu?”
McCoy hmphs. “Why, actually yes, Admiral. Sulu and Chekov are running an errand for me as we speak.”
“Damn you, McCoy, this isn’t a game!”
“Not a game, Jim?” McCoy’s voice is strangled with something (budding anger). “Not a game? I think I know better than you—than EITHER of you—that this is NOT a game!” McCoy grabs the arm of his chair to rise, when Spock steps forward—places a hand on his shoulder (not quite pressing). McCoy sits back. His face goes blank (unnerving for Bones). He drawls almost carelessly, “Well, I certainly didn’t bring ’em into this mess ’cause I felt like sharing the misery, Jim-boy. I needed their help.”
“But not mine, not Spock’s obviously. Why, Bones?”
He breathes in-out, says nothing.
“Are we not worth a call?” Jim gets up, paces two steps and turns about with the words, “Are we no longer a concern to you, Doctor McCoy?”
“You’re not reliable enough,” McCoy bites out and it’s like a slap to the face.
Jim’s anger is pushed aside by a hard punch of hurt. (He doesn’t quite stagger.) It’s Spock who no longer remains still, as he has been since McCoy and Kirk began raking into each other; it’s Spock who says, “Enough.”
He turns hard eyes on the doctor. “Leonard,” his voice is flat (it makes Bones shiver). “You will explain that statement.”
McCoy gets up, unaided, and walks stiffly from them. Minutes pass, his back—stooped shoulders half in shadow—rigid. Finally, he speaks.
“You left me.”
He turns around, and it is Leonard they see—the man with too much heart, too vulnerable in his caring. Jim realizes, then, that there is pain in Bones. An old (but new) pain and—
How come I’ve never noticed? How could I not see it?
There is regret in the “Bones” that leaves his mouth. What did I do to you?
“You left me, Jim, for a new life, for the wonder of the Admiralty.” Leonard faces the Vulcan (who watches out of those dark, dark eyes). “You left me, Spock, for your Vulcan convention. ” McCoy laughs, roughly. “Imagine, my emotion a detriment to your well-being.”
“I stated that I believed Kolinhar to be a solution to my search for wisdom.”
“A wisdom we mere Humans do not possess, huh? Did we mean nothing to you, after all those years?”
Spock’s consideration is serious. He then shifts forward, unclasps his hands and offers them, palm-up, to McCoy. Leonard only stares at them, taken aback. Spock says, “I made an error. My destiny lies on this path—the one that I have been walking since the Enterprise gained you and the Captain.”
He takes a step forward; Bones takes a step back.
“I will value any wisdom that you grant, Leonard. Will you accept my offer in return?”
The doctor chokes out, “Spock—I don’t—I don’t understand what you’re saying. Please, please just put your hands down, okay!” (I don’t know if I can hope again.)
Spock acquiesces but when keeps his intense gaze on Leonard. His eyes say For you, freely given. The doctor brings a hand to his face. (He is weary now.)
Jim assesses the two people he knows better than himself. “We made a mistake, Bones—a mistake we regret dearly. But you wouldn’t even stay in the same room to talk to us after V’Ger…”
Leonard replies with a clinical detachment. “I hurt you that way, didn’t I? I wanted to. And it was the only means to protect myself too.” From falling into the same old trap, he doesn’t need to voice that aloud. Jim and Spock understand his meaning.
“How can we fix this if you won’t give us a chance? Don’t you want what we had!” Jim half-turns to Spock who nods his agreement.
McCoy leans against the wall. “I am not sure that we can be fixed, Jim, my boy. And don’t give me that spiel about no-win scenarios. We both know what this is—” he gestures between the three of them. “As far from ‘a win’ as could be.”
Kirk lowers his brows at that statement. “You’re wrong—”
The doctor cuts him off. “Look, rehashing our mistakes isn’t going to help. It’s done—you made your choices.” McCoy tightens his jaw. “You got your freedom. Now give me mine.”
Jim does not see the hard-lines in McCoy’s face but rather the trembling in his hands. And Jim Kirk knows instinctively how to succeed. He never gives Leonard time to retreat, but takes him by the shoulders with an iron-gentle grip.
“Bones, you’ll never get away from us. Don’t you understand?” He shakes the man (Stop, Jim!). “WE WON’T LET YOU GO.”
Leonard deflates (he’s just too tired to continue on) with a terrible grace; he slumps into Jim’s arms, who pulls the man against his chest, winds a hand into his hair. Whispering, “I am sorry, Bones. I’m so sorry, and I promise. We promise.“
Leonard says into his uniform, “Don’t make promises you can’t live up to, Jimmy.”
“I only make the ones I plan to do my best to keep.”
Leonard knows that well. (It’s one of the things he loves.) But fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…
He makes little complaint when Jim gently suggests that he rest as Chapel instructed. “It’s okay, Bones. Take the bed, we won’t bother you.”
“You’re not the doctor, here, Jim,” Leonard says almost absently as he lets himself be tucked under a blanket. (His eyes are heavy.) “When I need sleep, I’ll sleep…” his voice barely finishes that sentence. He wants to say Don’t go and It hurts so bad. You hurt me so bad.
But there will be time later to build up those walls. He needs strong defenses, after all, if he is going to survive.