5: Green-Eyed Monster

Spock internally acknowledged the wisdom of McCoy’s statements when he entered Uhura’s quarters and found her cooking an elaborate meal. Though they usually went out to one of the many restaurants available in Yorktown — since their choices were limited while on board the Enterprise — it seemed Uhura had developed a sudden craving for chapatis and sukuma wiki.

“It smells delicious in here,” he said as he set the PADD on the edge of the counter and bent to kiss her forehead. “How can I help?”

“The chapatis are almost ready to be flipped,” she answered with a warm smile. “I found a shop here that sells piri piri, so I just had to have some!”

Spock washed his hands and watched in alarm as she put a generous amount of the ground hot peppers into a pot of rice. Picante spices did not always agree with him. However, he refrained from commenting and flipped the chapatis as requested.

“So… how was Dr. McCoy?”

Though her tone was nonchalant, Spock knew her well enough by now to realize it was a studied indifference. He was startled to discover that she was actually, to some degree, jealous of his spending time with the doctor.

“He is fine… and keeping quite busy,” Spock carefully replied. “I saw that he was performing a teaching surgery and thought it would be interesting to observe. I had not realized it would take two full hours.”

“Oh, that is a long time! Was it a complicated surgery?”

“More tedious than complicated. I was impressed with the doctor’s ability to concentrate for the entire duration. When he was finished, he invited me to his new office, where we discussed the plans for the Enterprise A.”

“Anything exciting?”

“Not particularly.” Spock paused before adding, “I had also asked the doctor for some courses in Human psychology to learn how to be more supportive of your recovery.”

Uhura fumbled with a lid, nearly dropping it, but managed to settle it on the pot of ugali. “You… you did that for me?”

“Of course.”

Spock was stifled when Uhura leapt up to kiss him with a fervor she had never displayed before. The direct contact also flooded him with her emotions — wild and chaotic, which was so uncharacteristic of her as to be shocking. Despite her effusive feelings, though, he noted with relief that all traces of jealousy had disappeared.

They did not make love that night since Uhura had to work the next day, but Spock felt that simply lying next to her and stroking her back while she slept was just as intimate as the physical act of sex. It was gratifying to know she enjoyed his company — enjoyed waking up next to him and going through their morning routines together. So much so, he reflected, that she jealously guarded her time with him.

“‘Beware of jealousy, the green-eyed monster, which mocks the meat upon which it feeds,’” he vaguely recalled. “I would not have thought my spending time with Dr. McCoy would give her any cause for alarm… but perhaps even small things seem like greater issues since she is in a more vulnerable state right now. Her sudden mood swings and excessive displays are obvious signs that her psyche has not regained its normal balance.” He observed her body slowly rising and falling with her breaths and sensed the contentment that simmered in her subconscious. “There is no reason for her to feel threatened by Leonard, after all… even if my friendship with him has deepened from going through that harrowing experience together, I am perfectly content in my relationship with her. Have I not expressed it enough lately? Perhaps because I had mentioned going to New Vulcan before, she feels I am not satisfied with our arrangement…. I must find some ways to reassure her. Now that I am committed to remaining with Starfleet, she should have no need to worry about my leaving. But perhaps jealousy is one of the side effects of prolonged trauma for Humans.”

Spock’s hand froze for a moment as he remembered something, causing him to withdraw it from Uhura’s bare back.

“Leonard had feelings of jealousy and envy as well… before we parted. When I invited him, he was adamant about not wanting to be a ‘third wheel’ and felt… sad, lonely, and upset. Is he also experiencing the after-effects of trauma? He has been back on full duty from the day after our return, but he could be burying himself in work to avoid dealing with his emotional issues. With as deeply as he feels any emotion, surely some counseling would have been in order… but of course, since he is the ship’s chief medical officer, if he chooses not to, nobody would have the authority to force him. Except the captain…. Perhaps I should speak to Jim about it; he would not want his friend to struggle alone.”

However, Spock knew that going above someone’s head to talk to a higher-ranking officer was, while logical, often counterproductive to helping said person. He was still haunted by the way Jim had looked at him when he’d found out about Spock’s report to Admiral Pike. In hindsight Spock had realized that it was tantamount to a betrayal of trust — a most ungrateful way to repay the man who had risked his career to save Spock’s life.

“No, I should not speak to Jim before confronting Leonard first. Despite his attempts at duplicity, Leonard has always been honest about matters of importance. And if he truly needs help, perhaps I will be able to encourage him to seek it. Only if that fails should I go to Jim for assistance.”

Thus resolved on how to handle the issue, Spock willed himself to sleep.

“Nyota, I may not be available this evening,” Spock remarked over breakfast. “Depending on Dr. McCoy’s schedule, I hope to discuss some matters with him tonight.”

“Oh!” Uhura responded. “Is it… work-related?”

Spock mentally winced as he felt a wave of searing jealousy from her. He had not meant to awaken that beast again.

“Yes, of course,” he answered. “It is a… personnel issue. It has come to my attention that one of the crew is refusing to see the counselor.”

“I see.” She took a bite of her warmed-over ugali. “But if it’s work-related, can’t you see him during the day?”

“His working hours are filled with surgeries and lectures at the hospital, so I believe it will be more conducive to our conversation if we meet after… especially since it is unclear how much time will be required.”

“Once you inform the doctor, wouldn’t it be his responsibility to follow through?”

“Ordinarily, that would be true… but this crew member may require some… persuasion. If, however, the two of us cannot resolve the situation, I will take the matter to the captain.”

“It sounds serious.”

“It may be.” Spock set down his spoon before asking, “Nyota, would you say that your sessions with Counselor Hathaway have been helpful to you?”

“Oh, yes! I would recommend her to anybody.”

Spock nodded. “Perhaps your personal recommendation, added to all the reasons why it is advisable, will help this crew member realize that it is the logical course of action.” He reached out to place his hand over hers on the table. “I am glad that you are strong enough to seek help when you need it. I have observed that for many Humans, it is a difficult thing to do.”

There was a burst of WORRY-WORRY-FEAR-PAIN-JEALOUSY before Uhura withdrew her hand, but her voice was steady and calm as she said, “Yes. It can be.”

Although concerned, Spock decided not to pursue the matter since Uhura soon busied herself to leave for duty.

The computer informed him that the doctor was in surgery yet again, so Spock sent him a message. Over an hour later, right after he had started reviewing one of McCoy’s recommended courses on Human psychology, his comm beeped.

“Spock here.”

“It’s McCoy. What’s this about dinner tonight?”

“I thought you might enjoy some company since the captain seems to be otherwise engaged. Just the two of us, of course — I would not want you to feel like an extraneous ‘third wheel.’”

There was an audible sigh. “I know you’re trying to be nice, Spock, but it makes me damn uncomfortable.”

“That was not my intent at all… but there is also something I wished to speak with you about.”


“Yes… a personal matter. In fact, it may be best to meet somewhere private. I can bring our meal to your quarters or mine, whichever you prefer.”

McCoy paused before replying, “Let’s use my office. There are a couple of patients I want to keep an eye on.”

“Understood. What type of cuisine would you like?”

“Oh… surprise me. I’m not picky.”

When Spock arrived with containers of cornbread and fried chicken, McCoy was thrilled almost beyond words.

“Ahhh, comfort food! Nothing better,” he declared after taking a few bites. “And sweet tea too! Although I think it can be even better with a little nip….”

While McCoy got up to retrieve his bottle of bourbon, Spock savored the fried okra with appreciation. He usually avoided fried foods but this batter was light and crisp, leaving the okra cooked but still recognizable. The collard greens were similar to Uhura’s sukuma wiki and he also liked the texture of the mashed potatoes, though he had them plain without gravy.

“Care for a drop?” McCoy offered, holding up the bottle.

“Ah… just a little,” Spock answered, opening his tea container. He hoped the alcohol might cut the overpowering sugar of the drink.

“So, what did you want to talk about?” McCoy asked, sitting down to resume his dinner with relish.

“Perhaps we should wait until after.”

“Oh, God — I’m not gonna like this, am I?”

Spock considered it for a moment. “Not necessarily.”

“I knew it. You’re just softening me up with all this,” the doctor said, though surprisingly without ire. Even the curiosity Spock felt from him was muted, superseded by his genuine pleasure over the food. “Here, ya gotta try some of these baked beans.”

When they had both eaten as much as they could (McCoy polishing off the macaroni-and-cheese as a point of honor), they sat sipping their tea, by now heavily laced with bourbon.

“All right, so what is this big, mysterious Thing you wanted to talk about?” McCoy asked anew.

Spock chose his words carefully. “It has come to my attention that one of the crew has not been seeing a counselor, as is recommended and required by protocol.”

“Ah! You mean Jim. I know, he keeps putting it off, but the mucky-mucks keep wanting to debrief him about every little detail — so much that I hardly have the heart to nag him anymore.”

“I was… not aware of that,” Spock said, filing away this bit of information. “Actually, Doctor, the crewman I meant to bring to your attention is… yourself.”

“Me?” McCoy exclaimed, both eyebrows shooting up. “Why the hell would I need to see a counselor?”

“You were in a traumatic situation for an extended period of time, as were the rest of the crew. And yet, here you are, working full-time in a new setting with little or no leave taken to mitigate the effects of the ordeal.”

The doctor snorted indelicately. “Now, Spock, I appreciate your concern — I really do — but that wasn’t a traumatic experience for me… maybe trying, but not traumatic. Sure, do I wish I hadn’t had to fly around in that death-trap? Absolutely. But traumatic would be if we hadn’t made it in time to snatch Jim from being sucked out into space or if you’d actually managed to bleed to death before I got my hands on some decent medical supplies.” He took another gulp of tea before adding, with a smirk, “You may be sad company to be marooned on an alien planet with, but you’re not that bad.”

Spock could appreciate the humor of his comment since McCoy was exuding powerful waves of CONTENT-CONTENT-HAPPY-FUNNY-GRATEFUL-TOUCHED. He thought he was beginning to understand the crusty Human much better, so he tried to reply in kind.

“I am pleased to know that your tolerance for my company is increasing,” he said blandly. “However, how can you be certain of your own diagnosis? By definition, a self-diagnosis cannot be impartial.”

“I think I know enough about myself to realize if I’ve got a problem. And if I do, I’m in a hospital — there’s practically a counselor around every corner!”

“But would you avail yourself of one if you did not feel the need?” Spock pointed out. “My concern is that if you are deep enough in denial, you would not see the warning signs.”

McCoy leaned back and sighed noisily. “So… what? If I go see a shrink, will that make you happy? Scratch that — will that satisfy you?”

Spock inclined his head. “Yes, I believe it would. If their analysis shows that you are not suffering any after-effects from the Altamid Incident, I will not insist on your following the full regimen of counseling treatments recommended by regulations.”

“Well, that’s a relief!” Though the words were delivered with sarcasm, Spock sensed none behind them. “All right, if that’s what it takes, I’ll set up an appointment with one of them. But they’re not gonna find any evidence of trauma. I’m as mentally and physically fit as I’ve ever been.”

“Then I shall look forward to hearing so from your evaluating counselor.” Spock took another sip of his tea.

“Why the sudden interest?” McCoy blurted out. Spock had been sensing his increasing curiosity so it came as no surprise. “I mean, why do you care whether I see a counselor or not?”

“Leonard… you seem to have forgotten… I am a touch empath,” Spock cautiously began. “I can sense your emotions when I am in contact with you. Sometimes, if your emotions are intense, I can feel them even without any tactile support.”

A long moment passed in stunned silence while McCoy tried to decipher the implications of this statement.

“So… you’re sensing… that I need counseling? That I’ve been traumatized by what happened?”

“It would seem so.” Spock set down his tea and held his palms open toward McCoy in a conciliatory attitude. “I am sorry if I intruded upon your privacy, but please believe me, it was unintentional. I did not deliberately try to read your feelings — I had no reason to. However, once I felt your pain… that deep well of sadness you try so hard to keep hidden, I could not stand idly by while you suffered in silence.”

McCoy cursed under his breath, then astonished Spock by laughing.

“Oh, God! Spock… you have no idea.” He poured some more bourbon into his tea before taking another swig of it. “That deep pit of depression you felt? That’s not from the Altamid debacle. No, I’ve been acquainted with it for years now. We’re old friends, really.”

“Please explain,” Spock urged. “That is, if you are comfortable telling me. I assure you I will keep any information you reveal strictly confidential.”

McCoy laughed again, a hard edge to his tone. Spock was worried by the pain and sardonic bitterness he sensed from the Human, but there was something else in his emotions too: hope. It was faint and elusive, but Spock could tell that it was definitely there — and growing.

“You sure you want to go down this rabbit hole?” McCoy asked. “It’s a long, sad story with no happy ending.”

“I am sure, Leonard,” Spock told him. “I’m listening.”

◄ Previous ♦ ♦ ♦ Next ►

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 316 other followers

%d bloggers like this: