27: Illogical

Spock could sense the temptation in McCoy’s mind to order a whiskey or join Scotty with a scotch, but the doctor stuck to his beer while Scotty plied Spock as to what some of McCoy’s “finer qualities” might be.

“His unwavering dedication to his profession, for one,” Spock said, allowing a small smile to form on his lips. “Being the recipient of his medical care, I can attest to it with greater surety now. In fact he refuses to even entertain the possibility of becoming intoxicated the night before he must perform surgery.”

“That’s just self-defense, you know,” McCoy protested. “I can’t afford to lose my license.”

“That may be, but I also know how deeply you care for your patients — even the ones you have never met before. Your compassion and desire to heal lie at the core of your personality.”

McCoy blushed under Spock’s frank gaze. “I wouldn’t have put myself through all those years of med school if I didn’t think it was the right career choice.”

“Of course. And then you subjected yourself to the rigors of Starfleet Academy as well,” Spock noted. “It was no mean feat to complete your courses in only three years.”

“I already had my practicum finished,” McCoy pointed out. “Plus I had to make sure I got out at the same time as Jim — I couldn’t let him run loose without supervision.”

Scotty laughed at that and raised his glass. “You’re a true friend, Dr. McCoy!”

“Yeah, well, a shitload of good that did.” He took a pull of his beer before expanding, “He managed to get himself kicked off the ship almost as soon as I got him on.”

You?” Spock said, startled. “You smuggled him on board the Enterprise?”

“Um… yeah,” McCoy admitted, sheepishly playing with his glass. “I couldn’t just leave him there in the hangar, looking like a sad-eyed, abandoned puppy….”

“I had always assumed that he had smuggled himself aboard,” Spock reflected. “I should have suspected he’d had some assistance.”

“Well… just a little.” The emotions emanating from McCoy grew agitated, conflicted. Spock focused on them, without meaning to pry, and felt them fluctuate between CONFESS-WORRY-FEAR-HIDE-WORRY-ADMIT.

“Leonard,” Spock began, hoping he was not being intrusive, “how did you manage to get Jim on board?”

“I… might have told the guy loading the shuttle that he was… suffering from a viral infection… and needed to be with his primary physician.”

“A viral infection?” Spock raised one eyebrow. “Did he, in fact, have a viral infection?”

“Well, yeah!” McCoy retorted. “I gave it to him.”

It was Scotty’s turn to choke on his drink. “You what, now?”

“Only a mild case! At least it was supposed to be. How was I to know he’d have a bad allergic reaction to the vaccine?” McCoy grumbled. Conversely, his feelings were more settled now that he had come clean.

“So you gave him a vaccine which would cause the symptoms of an infection… just to get him aboard the Enterprise?” Spock asked for clarification. He was not sure whether he was more impressed at McCoy’s ingenuity or exasperated by the lengths he had gone to circumvent the rules.

“Yeah.” McCoy glanced up at Spock as though expecting his censure. Finding Spock’s expression blank and unreadable, he grew defensive. “Look, Jim didn’t ask me to get him on the ship — he was going to stay back as ordered, where he would’ve been of no use to anybody, and God only knows what would’ve happened to the Enterprise if we’d gone up against the Narada unsuspecting with our shields down!”

I know,” Scotty put in darkly. “She would’ve been so much space debris, along with the rest of the armada, and I might still be stranded on Delta Vega with no hope of gettin’ a decent meal.” At the recollection, he picked up the menu and ordered another sandwich.

“Exactly — a lot of things would’ve gone worse without him, as it turned out,” McCoy said with relief.

“We have the benefit of hindsight now,” Spock conceded, “but if things had not played out as they did, you would have jeopardized your standing with Starfleet… solely for your friendship with Jim.” His intonation betrayed both vexation at and fondness for his lover.

“Have you ever seen Jim when he’s disappointed and trying to keep a stiff upper lip?” Bones asked, shaking his head. “It’s the worst! Because he really is trying not to let on that he’s upset — he’s doing his damnedest to make you believe he’s okay — but you just know he’s not okay, and the fact that he’s trying so hard to keep his shit together only makes it that much worse….”

“Aye. I’ve seen that look.” Scotty heaved a sigh. “You’d have to have a heart o’ stone to ignore him when he’s like that.”

“I suspect your own amity causes such strong feelings of commiseration,” Spock stated. “It is curious that in this one area the Captain fails to achieve his goals — and yet, fortuitously, it causes his friends to take actions which benefit him in the end.”

“And it works better than when he’s actually trying to persuade you,” McCoy added. “Then he’s just annoying.”

“Now, now, gentlemen!” Scotty protested. “We must’nae speak ill of a man who isn’t here to defend himself — even if he is with his bonnie lassie.” He was distracted for a moment when his sandwich was delivered by an attractive Denobulan female, but he picked right back up with, “Besides, I believe there must be some other fine qualities of Dr. McCoy that Mr. Spock can extol?”

“Indeed there are,” Spock agreed while McCoy blushed again. “His ingenuity, which as we have just heard knows no bounds. I had started to mention his intelligence. Although his judgment may not always be logical or sound, in the field of medicine he has certainly displayed a brilliance that borders on genius.”

McCoy stared into his beer, desperately wishing he could have something stronger. “That’s just… ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

“Which you do not spare if there is any hope of saving your patients.” Spock placed a hand on McCoy’s arm where it rested on the table. “You possess many admirable traits, Leonard. I wish you would not deemphasize them as you do.”

“Right,” Scotty said, eyeing the two of them with some perplexity. “But Mr. Spock, so far all you’ve given me is a list of reasons why anyone should hire him as a doctor. What I was hopin’ for is… well, you know… something a wee bit more personal?” Ignoring McCoy’s groan, Scotty persisted, “After all, Lieutenant Uhura is just as good at her job as the doctor is at his!”

Spock tilted his head to consider this. “You are correct in that assessment. As far as their skillsets are concerned, they are both proficient in their tasks. If you wish to know the reason why I decided to pursue Leonard instead of Nyo—Lieutenant Uhura,” he corrected himself, “it is simply… because I could not stop thinking about him.”

“No kiddin’!” Scotty exclaimed, surprised. “So you just… fell for him?”

“I believe that is the most accurate way to describe the phenomenon.” Spock smiled at his lover, catching his gaze. “It is not logical in the least, but I could not deny the powerful attraction I felt for him.”

“All right, if you don’t stop that right now, I really will have to order another drink,” McCoy declared, beet-red to the tips of his ears.

“I will cease if you insist,” Spock said, then continued with a twinkle in his eye, “but I have not even begun to describe how calming and comfortable it is to be in your presence.”

“‘Calming’?” Scotty echoed in disbelief.

“Yes; even soothing,” Spock replied. “But perhaps that is because I can sense his emotions — which, contrary to what he may be saying, are more often than not overflowing with concern for others.” Spock’s smile was genuine as he slipped his hand under McCoy’s. “When I am the focus of your attention, regardless of the circumstances, I find I feel safe. Possibly because I know that you would do anything in your power to protect the ones you love.”

McCoy could not have been more embarrassed if he had tried to be, but he did not break their eye contact as he affirmed, “You’re damn right I will.”

“Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” Scotty said, grinning. “That’s some real sweet talk, Mr. Spock, and if I had’nae heard it with my own ears, I would’nae believed you capable of it.”

“Ordinarily I find it difficult to be effusive in my praise,” Spock confessed. “However, with Leonard I find there is no lack of admirable qualities on which to expound.”

“But now, what about, y’know… physically?” Scotty probed, his curiosity palpable. “You said you could’nae stop thinking about him — were you attracted to his physical assets at all?”

“Scotty!” McCoy protested, but Spock was already nodding.

“Yes, of course. Although for a Vulcan, physical attractiveness is a minor concern compared to others, it is quite gratifying to be with an individual who is aesthetically pleasing. And Leonard is well-built and beautiful in every inch of his anatomy.” Spock had a knowing smile on his lips as he said this, causing all of the blood in McCoy’s face to rush south.

“Whew! Well, now…” Scotty hemmed and hawed, toying with his half-eaten sandwich. “Ah… I guess there’s no doubt about that point, now, is there? And, being a doctor, I would assume his technique is, uh… a good deal better than average?”

“S—Scotty!” McCoy interjected, spluttering.

“I have very few points of reference for comparison, but yes,” Spock coolly answered, “I believe so.”

“Well, then….” Scotty waved the air in front of his face. “Is it just me or has it gotten hotter in this joint?”

“You did ask, Scotty,” McCoy pointed out. “But don’t let us chase you out of here; we’ll go get a room.” When he stood up, Spock followed suit almost simultaneously. “I’ll have that bourbon for you as soon as I can lay my hands on it.”

“No worries! I’m just glad to hear all this from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, otherwise I would’nae believed it,” Scotty said. “Bloody ’ell… even if you had’nae sworn me to secrecy, nobody else would believe it!”

“Goodnight, Scotty,” McCoy said with a lopsided grin. Spock inclined his head to echo his parting.

“Aye, goodnight indeed!” Scotty raised his sandwich to toast the couple. “Don’t let the bed-bugs bite!”

***

Their walk home was unusually quiet since McCoy was still steeped in his feelings of EMBARRASSED-SHY-UNBELIEVABLE. Spock broke the silence first.

“Leonard… would you prefer if I returned to my own quarters tonight?”

“Huh? Why?”

“You have surgery tomorrow, so I do not want to interfere with your rest in any way.”

“Spock… hell, no! You wouldn’t ‘interfere’ with my rest, to start with, and… God, you can’t be serious, can you? After leading me on like that?”

“I beg your pardon?” Spock asked, honestly puzzled.

“Well, I mean… the way you looked at me while ago…” McCoy explained with a frustrated wave of his hand. “As if you wanted to eat me whole! You can’t just do that to a guy and leave him hanging… unless you’re too tired? Oh, God! I’ve done nothing but wear your ass out since last night, haven’t I? I’m sorry, Spock — if you need to rest, of course, you do whatever you have to. I understand.”

Spock felt a dizzying flurry of emotions from his lover, happiness turning to worry and then devolving into self-recrimination, while the louder words in McCoy’s mind transmitted themselves clearly into his consciousness.

“No, Leonard! That is not my motive for asking at all,” Spock protested when McCoy paused for a breath. “I am not tired, you have not been making ‘excessive’ demands of me, and I am not ‘bored’ with our relationship in the slightest.” He stepped in front of McCoy to face him, forcing him into an abrupt halt. “You must not jump to such negative conclusions without first ascertaining whether there is any truth to them! My only concern in this instance is your readiness to perform at the peak of your abilities tomorrow. If you do not think my presence will hamper you from acquiring the rest you require, then of course I prefer to stay with you.”

“You… you do?” McCoy asked, still uncertain.

“I would not have said so if I did not mean it.” Spock frowned. “Vulcans do not lie — I had hoped you would have found me to be trustworthy by now.”

“I… I’m sorry.” McCoy sighed, reaching out as though to grab Spock’s hands, then withdrawing, having thought better of it since they were in public. “I just… keep expecting you to get tired… of me.”

“Leonard!” Spock felt pain — both McCoy’s and his own — at the implications of the admission. He did not know how to remedy the matter but wished with all his heart to try. “I am not. And the probability of my ever becoming uninterested is… 1.034 percent.”

McCoy eyed him suspiciously. “You just made that number up.”

“I have sufficient evidence that the likelihood is at least that low,” Spock insisted with a straight face. “And if you will allow me to accompany you back to your room, I will prove it to you.”

“Yeah?” A faint smile was finally growing on his face. “How?”

“You will have to invite me in if you wish to find out,” Spock retorted with an upraised brow.

“Deal,” McCoy agreed. The feelings he projected as they resumed walking were distinctly more positive.

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