3: Flashbacks

“Nyota, there is something I must tell you,” Spock said, pulling back to extricate himself from her arms. Uhura had dragged him into her quarters while kissing him when he arrived exactly one hour after the party. He had dutifully worked on his report for the maximum time allowed by his attending physician before permitting himself to enjoy the benefits of their unplanned shore leave.

“What is it?” she demanded breathlessly, her hands still holding his head and throbbing LUST-LUST-WANT-WANT-LUST-LUST-NOW into his mind. He grabbed her wrists to remove them so he could think more clearly.

“The pendant… has a mild radioactive signature,” he managed. “While the radiation is not strong enough to be harmful to you in any way, it is still identifiable because of its unique properties.”

“Oh? And why are you telling me this now?” she asked, confused but unconcerned.

“Dr. McCoy put it in terms of a ‘tracking device’ and indicated that… perhaps it might be distasteful for you to realize that it could function as such.”

“I don’t care, Spock,” she declared, grabbing his Vulcan tunic by the sleeves. “All I care about right now is that you are functioning at peak efficiency.”

“I believe I am,” he began, thinking to add some acknowledgement of the doctor’s expert care, but Uhura had started kissing him again and rendered verbal speech impossible.

 


 

One of the benefits of dating a Vulcan, Uhura insisted, was that it took him a very long time to climax, even though this meant that they had to plan their nights together carefully and try to get the same days off-duty. Tonight it had taken an especially long time, during which she had experienced no fewer than five orgasms. She now lay sleeping, exhausted but thoroughly sated. Spock held her naked body close, both his hands pressed to her skin, but could feel only a faint sense of satisfaction. This was to be expected — it was usual for him to lose almost all empathic communication with her when she slept — so it did not trouble him; however, it raised a point of interest, since he had been able to sense McCoy’s emotions even while he had been asleep, not to mention through the barrier of his uniform. It was a matter of scientific interest for Spock.

He would at times catch brief flashes of emotion from Uhura when she was dreaming, but nothing more. He wondered if McCoy had not been asleep, then dismissed that notion since he distinctly remembered hearing the doctor snore. “So then, do different Humans feel emotions with different degrees of intensity?” This seemed to be the most logical answer. The raw power of McCoy’s emotions while he was awake had surprised Spock, so it seemed reasonable to assume that the same level of intensity was carried over into his sleep. “If he is genetically predisposed to feel with such intensity at all times, it must be difficult to act rationally at all.”

And yet Spock knew from experience that the doctor was quite capable of dealing with medical emergencies in a calm, rational manner. Despite his brusque attitude and harsh words, his treatments were always appropriate and professional. Most patients and nurses were willing to bear his crusty bedside manner precisely because he was so skilled in the art of medicine.

“Which means he has had to overcome a greater handicap than most to become so adept,” Spock surmised. “A significant accomplishment indeed.”

In light of this conclusion, Spock was doubly glad that he had decided to present the doctor with his gift. The fleeting contact he had had with McCoy when affixing the pendant to his neck had flooded him with SURPRISED-AMAZED-CONFUSED-EMBARRASSED-GLAD-HAPPY-AMAZED-EMBARRASSED. While it had not been his intent to embarrass him, Spock hoped that, after the initial moment, gladness would be the strongest emotion.

“Dr. McCoy often treats patients during combat or other emergency situations,” he mused. “Perhaps because of that, or because he is perceived to be merely fulfilling his duties, he is not thanked much… although his own reception of such gestures may inhibit others from expressing their gratitude.”

The thought made Spock smile. He had found himself irrepressibly amused — when exhausted and in pain, causing his emotions to get the better of him — by the doctor’s comment about throwing a celebratory party at the news of Spock leaving Starfleet, since it had been diametrically opposed to McCoy’s feelings of WORRY-WORRY-DISLIKE-DISLIKE-SAD-SAD-DISTRACT that had been conveyed very clearly across the short space between them. Combined with his earlier feelings of PROTECT-PROTECT-WORRY-PROTECT-PROTECT-PRECIOUS, Spock knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that McCoy’s preceding remark of “I don’t know what he’d do without you” was in fact a reflection of his own response, not Jim’s alone.

Spock wondered how many of the other Humans realized that McCoy’s gruff words were deceiving, or at least a disguise of his deeply-felt emotions, and to what extent. “Many are quite intuitive,” he thought, looking over at Uhura where she lay sleeping, “and being controlled by emotions themselves, perhaps they understand the need to deflect scrutiny from their true feelings. But without the benefit of empathic communication, not all can possibly comprehend the depths of Leonard’s compassion… as well as the lengths to which he goes in his attempts to hide it.”

Uhura stirred and Spock felt a slight surge of contentment emanate from her as she settled into a more comfortable position.

“Jim must understand the complexities of Leonard’s discordant verbal communication better than anyone else, having been his friend for so long,” he continued to ponder. “As do perhaps the nurses who have worked alongside him. I believe Mr. Sulu has smiled at his comments on multiple occasions, and even Nyota seemed amused by his recommendations for improving the uniforms rather than appreciative. It is possible that I am one of the few who had not realized his surly attitude is more… bombastic than substantial.”

And yet Spock also knew McCoy could be brutally honest when voicing his opinions. In their very first private conversation, Spock had welcomed his candid comments and McCoy had made a passionate (if not particularly logical) case for not marooning Jim, which had later been proven out. His objection to Spock’s coldblooded handling of the situation had also taught the Vulcan — in hindsight — much about Human emotional responses. And during the incident with Khan, while the doctor’s emotional outburst against Spock’s logic had initially seemed irresponsible, his gut instinct that Khan could not be trusted had also been proven correct.

“Both Leonard and Jim seem capable of making intuitive judgments which are surprisingly accurate despite the limited amount of information. While it would be illogical to rely on such unfounded methods on a regular basis, in crisis situations their decision-making processes have served them well. Perhaps their intuition is based on subtle empathic or even telepathic impressions — they must be gathering data, possibly without being aware of it themselves, through non-verbal communication also.”

Spock had been impressed with how quickly McCoy had figured out how to fly the alien craft, especially considering that the last time the doctor had piloted anything must have been years ago at the Academy. Remembering his indignation at being taken on a “joyride” in the “alien death-trap” made Spock chuckle, which in turn roused Uhura, who opened her eyes with something like suspicion growing in her mind.

“Did you just laugh?” she asked.

“I’m sorry — I did not mean to wake you.”

“Can’t you sleep?”

“I was… thinking.”

“About what?”

Spock paused to stroke her back with one hand. “About… Dr. McCoy. Something droll he had said.”

Uhura sat up with waves of displeasure emanating from her. Spock did not need to be touching her to sense it.

“Why are you upset?”

She stood and pulled on her Vulcan sleeping robe — Spock’s gift for her last birthday — before answering.

“We finally get to spend the night together after… how many weeks apart? And you’re thinking about Dr. McCoy?”

Spock tried to ignore the sinking feeling in his stomach that occurred any time he offended Uhura without understanding exactly why.

“He has been on my mind much lately, which should come as no surprise after the time we spent together.”

“I get it — I do, really — the two of you went through some… awful times together,” Uhura said, then sighed and sat on the edge of the bed. “But I thought you were the one with the mental discipline here. Why would you bring that up now? When we’re together?”

“I… I was not dredging up the trauma of our experience, Nyota… simply recalling an amusing comment Leonard had made about it. He was being… overly dramatic, as usual. I had thought you found his hyperbole to be humorous as well?”

“Oh, sure, but… is that more ‘fascinating’ than us? Can’t we even have one night where it’s not about our work and our mission and everything else?”

Spock considered this for a moment before answering, “Since we are both involved in the same work with the same mission, I believe any reference to it is, by definition, part of ‘us.’”

Uhura made an exasperated sound. “Spock, we’re supposed to be having a romantic night together! How would you feel if I started talking about other crew members? Like how Sulu almost died but Ensign Syl saved him, only to be killed herself? Or how Krall sucked the life out of the others and started looking like them?”

“Nyota,” he responded, placing his hands on her shoulders in what he had learned was a soothing gesture, “I am sorry if my reflections seem to be a distraction from our time together. I had allowed my attention to wander, but only because you were asleep. However, if you would like to discuss your experiences with me, I would consider it an honor. I only wish to help you find serenity and happiness, T’hy’la.”

The sadness, confusion, distress, and regret she projected was almost overwhelming. Spock embraced her as she began to cry.

“I’m so sorry… it’s not fair to you,” she sobbed, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. “I just… I can’t even explain it….”

“Shhh,” Spock whispered. “It’s all right. You’ve been through a terrible experience; you must allow yourself more time to heal. And I am glad that you feel safe enough with me to share this.”

While he continued to calm her as best he could, Spock remembered that McCoy had mentioned courses he could recommend for exactly this purpose. He made a mental note to ask the doctor about them at the next opportunity.

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