2: Respect and Gratitude

Once the threat to Yorktown had been neutralized and Jim rescued, McCoy still had to figure out how to land the alien craft.

“Y’know what, find me another pool and I’ll splash down,” he finally decided. “We may drown if we can’t get to the surface, but at least we won’t damage anything else or kill innocent civilians in the process.”

“The closest available reservoir is 1.5 kilometers away at approximately 9 o’clock,” Spock told him, calling up the schematic map on McCoy’s viewscreen. He refrained from informing the doctor that when he had grabbed Jim to pull him into the craft, he had torn his injury again. He could feel the blood seeping through his uniform but he knew there was nothing to be done for it at the moment.

“All right, here we go…. Hang on!”

The impact with the water was not as rough as expected — McCoy managed to decelerate and approach it at a low altitude, keeping the nose slightly elevated to allow them to glide for a while. He eased the craft into a turn that brought them to the walkway along the pool just before the nose dipped under.

“Great job, Bones!” Jim said with an exhilarated laugh. “Let’s get outta here.”

“Couldn’t agree more,” McCoy said as he opened the hatch. All three of them exited the craft and swam the short distance to shore. Spock, however, could not lift himself out of the water. McCoy, coming up beside him, noticed his distress.

“Jim! We gotta help him,” he called, quickly putting an arm round the Vulcan to help keep him afloat.

“I fear I may have reopened my injury,” Spock told him at last.

“Dammit, Spock! You might’ve said something sooner!”

With Jim pulling and the doctor pushing, they got Spock up onto the pavement where he rolled over, exhausted, to lie on his back.

“Get me a med-pack!” McCoy yelled as he hauled himself out of the water; Jim was already sprinting to the nearest service post. The doctor raised Spock’s shirt and grimaced. “Dammit, you’re bleeding again. At least now I’ll have some decent tools to patch you up with.”

“I am certain… I could not be in better hands, Doctor,” Spock said, trying without success to regulate his breathing. He did not flinch when one of those hands touched the side of his face, conveying what McCoy could not express in words: HEAL-HEAL-FIX-HEAL-HEAL-HELP. Over the course of their ordeal, Spock had grown accustomed to the doctor’s intense emotions, which seemed to flow into his own consciousness more freely the more time they spent in close proximity. Now he did not even need to be in direct physical contact to know what the Human was feeling — it was as though an empathic link had been forged between them, although Spock assumed he had merely learned to anticipate McCoy’s responses. He closed his eyes and rested in the confidence that the doctor could and would heal him in the best manner possible.

“Here,” Jim panted out while thrusting the med-pack to McCoy, who immediately grabbed the regenerator. Several Starfleet officers came running up, having transported to their location, and offered their assistance.

“Just give me a minute to stanch the bleeding,” McCoy told them. “Once he’s stabilized, we need to get him to the closest hospital.”

“Can you get a hover-bed?” Jim asked, sending a lieutenant dashing back to the transporter. By the time it materialized and she brought it over, Spock was feeling no pain from his injury.

“I believe I can walk now if you will assist me to stand up,” he began but was quickly cut off.

“Like hell you will! I’m ordering you to complete bed rest for 24 hours and restricted duty for a week!” McCoy growled.

“Doctor, that seems excessive—”

“Spock, listen to him,” Jim interrupted. “It’s not like we’ve got a ship to get back to right away, so just… take it easy for a while, all right?”

Spock nodded, realizing he was outranked and outnumbered. “Understood.”

Two of the larger officers carefully picked him up and set him on the lowered hover-bed under the doctor’s watchful eye, then escorted them to the nearest hospital. Since Jim was hailed by Commodore Paris and requested to meet her for a debriefing, he left Spock in McCoy’s care and hurried off in the other direction.

“It’s been a hell of a ride,” McCoy muttered as he walked alongside the hover-bed, “but at least we made it out alive… and more or less in one piece.”

“Agreed,” Spock said. He reached out to grab McCoy’s hand, which flooded him with RELIEF-RELIEF-GLAD-RELIEF-RELIEF-SAFE. “Thank you, Doctor… for keeping me in ‘one piece.’”

“Just doing my job,” McCoy responded gruffly before pulling out the medical tricorder with his free hand. “Although the next time you decide to get impaled on a hostile planet, wander around with no emergency supplies, then take a joyride in an alien death-trap, I’d appreciate it if you dragged someone else along with you.”

Spock smiled. All of McCoy’s words were a deflection of his embarrassment, he now knew — especially when he could feel the Human’s powerful emotions directly through his skin: SAFE-SAFE-ALIVE-ALIVE-GLAD-GLAD-HAPPY-WORRY.

“Spock, are you feeling all right?” the doctor asked. “I don’t mean to insult an injured man, but you just looked like you were smiling.”

Spock laughed, sending more shockwaves of concern through McCoy. “I am fine, Leonard. You could say I am almost feeling… halfway Human.”

“Dear God, we need to get your blood count up!” McCoy exclaimed, pulling his hand away to work the tricorder. “Tell the hospital to have a liter of universal plasma ready in a rapid infuser and a hypospray with anti-microbial solution. He’s also going to need an infusion of nutrients high in amino acids, then I’ll need a dermal regenerator….”

Spock closed his eyes and decided to let the good doctor do all of the worrying for both of them.

“How are you feeling?”

Nyota’s gentle touches were filled with concern and tenderness. Spock clasped her hand in his and smiled.

“I am feeling fine… and well rested. How are you feeling?”

The pause before she spoke communicated volumes through their skin. “I’m all right.”

“I sense that this has been a traumatic experience for you.” Spock stroked the back of her hand with his thumb. “I am sorry you had to witness the deaths of so many crew members. Have you seen the ship’s counselor yet?”

“He’s… He was killed in the initial attack,” she told him. “They’ve assigned several counselors from Yorktown to the crew, though. I’ll be seeing someone this afternoon… a Dr. Hathaway.”

The door opened and McCoy, white-clad in the official hospital uniform, walked in.

“Ah! There’s the best medicine I can’t prescribe. How are you doing, Lieutenant?”

“Fine, and you?”

“Better than expected after drinking unfiltered water on that godforsaken planet. I’m putting in a request to Starfleet to incorporate a panel of microbial filtration fabric on every uniform, just for such a contingency. And that they equip every pair of boots with a hypospray and some basic medication. That’s the last time I want to be caught so unprepared!”

Uhura chuckled at the doctor’s usual ire and moved to the head of the bed so he could read the monitor.

“Thank you for keeping Spock safe,” she said with heartfelt sincerity after catching his eye. “If you hadn’t been with him… I don’t even want to think about what might have happened.”

“Well, it didn’t,” he reminded her, “so you needn’t worry your pretty head over it. And since he’s fit as a fiddle now, I’m going to release him into your care. I’m counting on you to make sure he doesn’t overexert himself.”

“Yes, Doctor,” she happily replied.

“Thank you, Doctor,” Spock said, sitting up slowly. “It is my belief that no other chief medical officer could have sustained my health, under those difficult circumstances, as admirably as you did. Also, should you ever wish to consider a change in your career, I believe you would make an excellent helmsman.”

McCoy snorted. “Just don’t volunteer me to pilot any more alien spacecraft on suicide missions, all right? Now get out of here!”

He turned to leave, then stopped and looked back at them.

“Oh, I almost forgot — tomorrow is Jim’s birthday. Can you both make it to the party? I sent everyone a message with the details about an hour ago.”

“Oh! Yes, I saw it. I’ll be there,” Uhura answered.

“I must write my report,” Spock said hesitantly. “But perhaps I will stop by to wish the captain well.”

“No more than one hour of work at a time, Spock!” McCoy said. “Doctor’s orders.”

“Of course. I will comply.”

“Good. I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

When Uhura left his quarters for her appointment with the counselor, Spock looked up the Yorktown directory for jewelers. After reviewing pictures of the wares sold at several of them, he decided to visit three. At the second one he found what he considered the perfect choice, but he went to the third just to be sure. Having found nothing there that surpassed his earlier selection, he returned to make the purchase, then asked the computer for McCoy’s current location. Informed that the doctor was at the venue where Jim’s party was planned for the next day, Spock moved at a brisk pace to catch him there.

“…and let’s have some of these esca-rolls too,” McCoy was telling an attendant. “I think we could use as many fresh vitamins as we can get.”

“Doctor,” Spock called to announce his presence.

“Spock! What’re you doing here?”

“Looking for you. But please, I did not intend to interrupt your preparations.”

“Well, I think this will about do it. You see anything else on this menu you want?”

Spock quickly scanned the PADD, noting the prices on the items already highlighted. “There seem to be enough alcoholic beverages to inebriate the entire crew. I was under the impression that only senior staff were invited?”

“Yeah, but don’t forget how much Jim and Scotty can put away on their own, let alone Chekov! More to the point, do you think we have enough food?”

Spock reviewed the hors d’oeuvres selections. “May I suggest a platter of brown rice and cucumber rolls? The complex carbohydrate should help offset the effects of alcohol.”

“Good idea. And let’s add a platter of pasta-wrapped meatballs. They’re actually made from soybeans,” he added to Spock. “This place is completely vegan. But don’t tell Jim — what he doesn’t know won’t hurt his triglycerides.”

“My lips are sealed,” Spock replied with some amusement.

“Okay, that should do it,” McCoy told the attendant, authorizing payment from his account on the PADD. “We’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Leonard,” Spock said in an undertone as they turned to walk out of the establishment, “by my calculations, the total cost of this party will be—”

Not an object,” McCoy finished. “This is a… special one for Jim. Plus I was just offered a temporary position at the teaching hospital here. Technically I’m going to be ‘on loan’ from Starfleet, so I’ll be getting a handsome stipend in addition to my Starfleet salary. Although I’m touched by your concern, there’s no need to worry — I won’t be reduced to doing backyard surgeries to make ends meet.”

“I’m pleased to hear that your talents will be put to good use while the Enterprise is being built.”

“Thanks. But what did you want to see me for, anyway? I thought you’d be… you know, spending time with your girlfriend.”

“The Lieutenant is currently at an appointment with her trauma counselor. I suspect, even from what little she has told me of her experience on Altamid, that her recovery process will be a long and possibly arduous one.”

“Well, that’s understandable. If you want to know how you can help her along, there are a couple of courses I can recommend.”

“You misunderstand me, Doctor,” Spock said, coming to a halt in the middle of the walkway. McCoy followed suit and faced him. “I came to see you regarding another matter entirely.”


“While I realize that sometimes your remarks are meant to be hyperbolic or spurious, I did not wish you to truly think I am ungrateful of your actions. And I hoped to find a tangible way to express my respect and gratitude.” Spock brought out a small box that he had been holding behind his back. “I can assure you, it is not radioactive in any way.”

McCoy stared, dumbfounded, at the box Spock held out to him.

“Please, Leonard. It is only a small token.”

After looking back and forth between Spock’s face and the box a few times, McCoy finally reached up to open it. There was a simple charm pendant inside.

“You’re giving me jewelry?”

“It is a plain piece, but I chose it for two reasons: its flatness, which would allow you to wear it under your uniform if you so choose, and its color.” Spock met McCoy’s astounded gaze with an uplifted eyebrow. “You did ask me what my favorite color is.”

“I did?” McCoy asked. “Oh! Yeah, I guess I did.”

“While you may not have been interested in the answer itself, I hope you might find it… interesting. This pale blue is… was… the color of the Vulcan sky in the early morning. My mother used to say it was bright with the promise of a new day — of new beginnings. And since I am fortunate enough to have more mornings to enjoy, I thought it would be appropriate for my gift to you, to whom I owe my very life.”

“Spock, I… I don’t know what to say…” McCoy stammered.

“I do believe that is a first,” Spock returned blithely. “Will you do me the honor of accepting it?”

“Of course! I… Well, I… um….” He cleared his throat and started afresh. “Thank you. It means a lot to me.”

“I am glad to hear it.”

When McCoy gingerly took the piece by the chain and held it up, Spock noticed that the renowned surgeon’s hand was trembling.

“Leonard… if you will allow me….”

“Huh? Oh….”

Spock took the pendant and walked around McCoy to clasp it behind his neck. The pale blue disc fell just above his shirt and below the freckle at the bottom of his throat.

“Thanks. It’s… beautiful. You didn’t have to, you know.”

Spock allowed a faint smile to curve his lips. “I am aware. But I wanted to.”

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