12: Symptomatic

Spock hastily prepared to return to duty, the majority of his efforts going to calm his tempestuous emotions.

“I will not be jealous over Leonard… I will not be jealous of any woman who captures his affections… I will not be upset by his pursuing a relationship with somebody else… I will not…” he repeated in his mind while combing his hair more than was necessary. He continued his mantra as he walked out of his quarters and his building, paused to take the site-to-site transporter, then rode the turbolift up to the offices shared by the quasi-marooned Enterprise crew. Though he tried to ignore extraneous thoughts, he had to admit relief over the fact that Uhura would be going to see her counselor now so their paths would not cross. At least until tomorrow.

Once at his desk, he attacked the reports submitted for his review as though intending to make up for his two lost hours in one. The captain’s summary that all of the reports were of normal progress was not entirely correct, but even at his furious pace, Spock was able to catch the problematic ones and follow them up with alternate orders. Half an hour in, he took a break to get some hot tea at the replicator station and looked out over the rows of desks while tasting his first few sips. Over half of the remaining crew had opted to take their leave time now, which made sense not only since they had no ship but also since they’d been in space for over three years. In addition, many wished to spend time with family and friends to recover from the trauma of their capture on Altamid. So it was a very small remnant indeed who occupied the large space. Each duty station had a sound-buffering shield around it to prevent any distractions, but the clear barriers allowed an unobstructed view of the entire room. Spock could name each of the officers present — as well as those who would never return.

“We are fortunate to still have our captain,” Spock thought as he saw Jim walking out of the turbolift, returning from somewhere. “And I am fortunate that Leonard made it out alive… despite having to fly in that ‘death trap’ again. I should be glad just to know he is safe. I must not desire any more. I will not ask for more.”

He returned to his desk with renewed resolve. The tea had also seemed to soothe his frayed nerves. He was not even startled when Jim clapped him on the shoulder.

“You okay to be back here?” Jim asked quietly, taking care to stay within the buffer around Spock’s desk.

“Perfectly,” Spock answered with confidence. “Please forgive me for any concern I may have caused.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Jim said, smiling and patting his back before going over to his own desk where a yeoman had just arrived with a stack of PADDS.

Spock glanced up to see him chatting with the pretty young woman, which was not surprising. However, it reminded Spock that the captain was still hoping to find a good match for Dr. McCoy. For a second it took all of Spock’s considerable self-discipline to keep his burst of jealousy under control. He pressed a hand to his temple, hiding his face behind a PADD with another.

“This is… unacceptable,” he scolded himself. “I should be happy for Leonard if he can find someone who can cure his loneliness! I must move past this illogical desire to possess that which I cannot have.”

Taking a deep breath, Spock schooled his face into a neutral expression and pretended to read the PADD.

“I should inform Leonard of my attraction to him at the earliest opportunity, then accept his dismissal with grace. Perhaps I could ask him to join me for dinner… but not at a restaurant — that would be too public. Possibly my quarters? I could prepare some simple Terran dishes… or would that seem too intimate? As though I am expecting him to requite my feelings? Then of course his quarters would be too presumptuous…. Perhaps his office? I could bring in a meal as I did last night. Yes, that would be perfect. I will call him sometime… tomorrow, possibly the day after, to set up a time that would be convenient for him.”

With the matter settled in his own mind, Spock returned his focus to the reports. There were few anomalies, so he skimmed through them swiftly and did not notice when the time had passed the top of the next hour. In fact he was so engrossed in his work that he did not hear the angry footsteps approaching outside his buffer.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” a familiar voice growled behind him, making him start. “First you skip two duty hours, then you think you can make them up all at once?”

“Doctor McCoy,” Spock replied thickly, his mouth as dry as a Vulcan desert, while his chair was turned around by none other. “I—I thought it might be permissible, since—”

“Well, that shows what thought did for you,” McCoy snapped. “You’re off of restricted duty starting tomorrow, but I’ve got half a mind to extend it for another week!”

“Surely that isn’t necessary,” Spock remonstrated, trying to sound reasonable and not petulant. “I only intended to be here two hours. The other hour I will make up tomorrow… after another hour break, if you insist.”

“What I insist on is that people take my directions seriously! It’s bad enough that Jim flouts my warnings; I sure as hell don’t need you to set a bad example as well.”

Spock might have bristled at McCoy’s words if he could not sense the powerful waves of WORRY-WORRY-CONCERN-CONCERN emanating from the doctor. He was also somewhat distracted to see McCoy wearing his hospital whites, which looked incongruous in the Starfleet office — and extremely dapper.

“I am… very sorry, Doctor, if I caused you any concern,” Spock began, his tone contrite, while McCoy began scanning him with his medical tricorder. “But I do believe I am well enough to review these reports.”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” was the gruff reply. “Your heartrate is higher than normal and even your blood pressure is elevated enough to register on this thing. I saw that Jim had authorized your leave earlier today, which is fine, but he didn’t answer my messages asking what had happened. And then I see that you logged in to work last hour, only to overstay! What the hell is going on?”

Finding himself the object of McCoy’s piercing gaze, Spock struggled to string some coherent words together.

“I, uh… I am fine, Doctor, just… somewhat… distracted,” he managed.

“‘Distracted’?” McCoy echoed. “Since when does that affect your logical Vulcan mind?”

“I… happen to have… a lot of things… issues… on my mind,” Spock answered, deliberately trying to be vague.

McCoy squinted at him, his scowl softening a little. “What kind of things? Like your future self dying?”

Spock considered this and nodded, adding, “Among others.”

“And this is causing enough stress to affect your heart and blood pressure?” he demanded, starting to run his tricorder again on different settings. “Spock… if it was bothering you so much, why didn’t you tell me last night? I know I was drunk off my ass, but I would’ve shut up and just listened if you needed to vent.”

“I had not… considered it… necessary,” Spock replied, eyeing the tricorder sensor as McCoy ran it all around his body. It helped to look at something other than the doctor’s face, which was now focused on the readouts.

“Well, I know you can’t get drunk, so it’s not a hangover,” he began, possibly choosing to use deduction since it was a logical method even Spock would approve of. “Your injuries have healed up fine, so they’re not causing any adverse effects. Have you had any heart palpitations?”

“No palpitations, although… my heartrate has been elevated for some time now.”

“Since when?”

“This afternoon… possibly this morning.”

Scowling again, McCoy did another pass with the tricorder. “Any shortness of breath?”

“Ah… some constriction of the chest,” Spock admitted.

“Any other symptoms?”

“Some… slight pain in the sinuses… and temples.”

“Sounds like a classic case of tension headache,” McCoy said thoughtfully. “How long does it last?”

“Just occasional flashes… not long at all.”

“Hmm. But it was bad enough that you took off two duty hours this morning?”

“Oh, no, that was… that was before…. That is, most of the symptoms appeared this afternoon, when I was attempting to meditate.”

McCoy scrunched his face in bewilderment. “Well, that’s not helpful! Meditation is exactly what you should be doing to relieve stress. But then, why did you take off this morning?”

“I, ah…” Spock started, then turned to his station and increased the power level of his sound buffer. A low hum crackled over the outer surface, indicating that anything they said inside would be virtually inaudible outside. “I was… distracted enough… that I lost track of the time. You see…” — he swallowed, wishing his throat were not so parched — “Lieutenant Uhura and I have… decided to part ways… again.”

“Dammit, Spock!” McCoy exclaimed, running a hand through his hair in agitation. “Why didn’t you say something yesterday?”

“It only happened this morning,” Spock explained.

“Well, I’m sorry to hear that. No wonder you’re so stressed. Do you think if I gave you some time off, you’d be able to pull your shit back together again? You don’t have to do it alone, though, if you think it might help to talk to a counselor.”

“I do not believe… that would be helpful. It would not change the facts of the matter at all.”

“No, but it might change your outlook on the facts. That’s the whole point, isn’t it?” McCoy said, adding, “You’re the one who talked me into going, weren’t you? Or was that just a figment of my drunken imagination?”

Spock opened his mouth to reply, then hesitated, reminded that the doctor believed much of what had happened last night — when they had been together — was a hallucination.

“No, Doctor, you did not imagine that,” he stated calmly, although his chest felt like it was being squeezed. “I certainly appreciate… the benefits to be gained from….”

“What is it?” McCoy asked, having noted the slight shadow of pain that had crossed Spock’s face. He switched the tricorder settings rapidly. “Are you feeling tightness in your chest again?”

“Yes,” Spock confessed, growing more concerned now that he noticed the frequency of the symptoms.

“Let’s get you to the hospital and run a full battery of tests, just in case it’s something other than stress,” McCoy said, putting his tools away in his satchel. “Call me biased, but I can’t believe a little thing like emotions could affect you this much.”

“I must concur,” Spock agreed, slowly standing up from the chair and straightening his uniform. Catching some movement out of the corner of his eye, he looked over to see Jim waving his hands wildly outside the barrier.

“Hey, guys — what’s going on?” he asked as soon as the buffer was shut off. “You two look too serious.”

“Dammit, Jim, you know that’s covered under doctor-patient confidentiality,” McCoy pointed out. “If I think it’s going to affect his work performance, I’ll let you know. For right now I need to take him with me to run some tests.”

“Oh, God! It’s not serious, is it?”

“I hope not, but I won’t know until I run those tests,” McCoy not-so-subtly hinted, then placed a hand on the small of Spock’s back to move him toward the turbolift.

The sudden influx of WORRY-WORRY-WORRY flooded Spock’s consciousness and overpowered him; the next moment he found his body held up by both of the other men and the volume of WORRY-WORRY-WORRY beating into his mind had doubled — perhaps even tripled.

“Spock! Can you hear me?” McCoy asked, pulling open the Vulcan’s eyelids to check his pupils.

Spock chuckled in response, since the doctor’s concern was about the only thing he could hear right now.

“Yes,” he gasped as he attempted to support himself. The ceiling seemed to be spinning. “I believe I am suffering from vertigo as well.”

“Fuck! He’s in bad shape,” McCoy spat out, directed at Jim. “I gotta get him to the hospital now! Order an emergency site-to-site transport for me.” So saying, he took Spock’s full weight and hoisted him over one shoulder while Jim barked the orders into the comm. A moment later the familiar swirl of energy enveloped them, and then they were deposited in an emergency bay. “I need a full diagnostic scan run on him! Vulcan male, presenting with vertigo, delirium, increased heartrate and blood pressure, some indication of tension headaches,” he announced to the room, setting off a whirlwind of activity.

As soon as McCoy had deposited him on the biobed and ceased touching him directly, Spock felt his sanity returning; however, he thought it best to have the tests run, as the doctor had said, to rule out any serious diseases. He could not help noticing that McCoy looked very handsome as he directed the emergency medical team — clearly in his element — with his whole attention focused on Spock and his mysterious malady. When Spock’s cheeks and ears involuntarily flushed, McCoy swore up a blue streak.

“Dammit! Now he’s fucking got a goddam fever,” he snarled to nobody in particular before picking up a hypospray.

Whatever he injected into Spock had the blessed effect of allowing him to sleep through the chaos.

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