9: Self-Diagnostic

Spock could not fall asleep easily after that. He had to force himself, with all of the willpower and concentration he’d been taught on Vulcan, to shut down his racing thoughts so he could sleep, and even then it was not restful. In the morning he muddled through his first hour of work, thankful that much of it was routine, then went to the rooftop of the building on his medically required break. The temporary offices that Starfleet had assigned to the Enterprise crew were in a high-rise near the intersection with another inhabited strip, so from his vantage point Spock had the dizzying view of a park with a pond directly in front of him rather than below. Still, he considered it a good place to relax and gather his thoughts.

He could not decide if what troubled him most about Uhura’s confrontation was the fact that he had been insensitive to her needs or her accusation that he might be in love with Dr. McCoy. For the former, he had already apologized but still felt deeply remorseful — he recalled how he had ignored the feelings of unease he had sensed in her, and he blamed himself for not bringing it up and at least getting her to explain why she had felt that way. He accused himself of not caring enough, of not paying enough attention to the subtle clues he had found, and thereby hurting Uhura deeply. As for the latter, he had not even considered such a possibility. Vulcan logic dictated that mating was for procreation, precluding any same-gender couples (even though they now had the technology to create offspring with the DNA from any pairing within their species) except for rare cases, such as in remote mining colonies where the gender distribution was unequal; due to the requirements of the pon farr, same-gender couplings in those situations were considered expedient, necessary, and even logical. Spock realized the irony that if he chose a Human mate, he would be almost incapable of procreation, anyway, so the logical demands that he choose a mate of the opposite gender did not apply to him.

Which left him with the obvious question: Am I in love with McCoy?

It was difficult for him to pinpoint love as an emotion, even when he was in physical contact with someone. With his mother, it had been expressed in his mind as CARE or WORRY or PRIDE. As a child he had concluded that the more she felt for him or about him, the more she loved him. It was the culmination and directionality of emotions that seemed to define this elusive phenomenon called love. Within himself, it was even more difficult to identify, but the duration of time spent dwelling on thoughts of McCoy — or with McCoy himself — seemed a logical place to start his analysis.

“Is what Nyota said true? Have I been obsessed with him?”

Spock had to admit that he might have been. While he had originally justified his attentions as being a natural result of their shared experience, he had been in dire situations with other members of the crew but had not remained focused on them once the incident had been resolved. Jim had also saved his life, risking his own career, and yet Spock had filed his accurate and contradictory report, which had led to Jim’s (thankfully only temporary) demotion.

“I was younger then and not aware of the full implications, for Humans, of saving another’s life, he considered. However, if it had been Jim who had kept me alive on Altamid — although it is doubtful he would have had the skills to do so — would I have felt compelled to give him a gift? Leonard had made several pointed remarks about Nyota’s pendant, forming the idea in my mind that he places a great deal of significance on items of jewelry. He often wears his Starfleet Academy class ring, too, so I knew he would be receptive of such a gift. He had called me an ingrate, and I sincerely wished to disabuse him of that misconception. But if Jim had done the same things and said the same things, would I have given him a gift as well? He had accused me of worse after I had filed my report, and yet… I did not even think of giving him a token of my regret or gratitude….

“Was my compulsion to give Leonard a gift… an emotional response?” Spock wondered with some apprehension. “I told him, truthfully, that I had wanted to do so…. What else have I been doing since the Altamid Incident that might have been based on sentiment rather than logic?”

He began counting them off in his head:

1. I wanted to give him the gift, when I had felt no such compulsion toward Jim after the volcano incident.
2. I was thinking about Leonard even when I was with Nyota, which upset her and made her jealous.
3. I went to see his surgery. While that might have been due to scientific curiosity, I had never heard of the Oyenusi Syndrome before then and have had no particular interest in other illnesses of its sort, so my only motivation was probably the fact that Dr. McCoy was the one performing the surgery.
4. I went to his office upon his invitation, ostensibly to receive the PADD with the courses on Human psychology he had recommended, but… I was sincerely delighted to see where he is now working. It could be labeled idle curiosity or happiness in a crewmate’s success… but it could also be the evidence of a more deep-seated, intimate interest… attraction.
5. I stayed there, talking with him, until Nyota called in concern. Had she not called, I would probably have stayed there much longer.
6. Then I invited him to dinner with Nyota and me, not realizing that it would be awkward and difficult for him in that type of situation. But my first thought was to ensure that he had companions for the meal… not, as Nyota would point out, my relationship with her, which I ought to have been strengthening.
7. Later that night, I was thinking of him again… perhaps “obsessing,” as Nyota would say, about his not receiving help from a counselor. This could have been merely out of concern for a crewmate… except I could have notified him via a simple message.
8. Then yesterday I chose to spend the entire evening with him, despite sensing worry and jealousy in Nyota. I should have made her my priority, but I dismissed my concerns. Did I do that deliberately? Did I turn a blind eye to her emotional needs and choose to spend my time with Leonard because… it was easy? Because it was more comfortable? Because I am more
attracted to Leonard than I am to Nyota?

Spock could not come up with a quick answer to that question, so he sighed and continued composing his list.

9. I wanted to take him a meal that he would enjoy, so I chose something from his home district on Earth. That would seem to be only logical and polite. However, it could also be construed as an attempt to gain his favor.
10. I acquired his promise to see his counselor. This was from a true concern for his wellbeing, but it might also be considered an obsessive interest in him as an individual.
11. Nyota asked why I did not leave him and come home at that point, but he had offered to tell me the true reason for his depression — as a friend, I could not have left him then in good conscience. However, since my curiosity might be considered excessive interest in him as well, this should be counted also.
12. Perhaps this is not of my doing, but I can sense his feelings more powerfully than any other Human I have ever met. Did we forge some kind of bond during our time together on Altamid? Or did I become attuned to his emotions due to some subconscious attraction to him? Or are his emotions simply more powerful than most?
13. I accompanied him back to his quarters out of concern for his intoxicated state. It may not have been necessary, but I
wanted to do so… for his safety and my own peace of mind. Was it above and beyond the care of a platonic friend? Perhaps not, since I can easily envision Jim doing the same for him in a similar situation. However, my strong desire to stay with him may be an indication of an inherent attraction.
14. Staying in his quarters with him until he fell asleep… was definitely beyond the purview of a friend. Even Jim would probably not do so, although he might have ensured that Leonard was safely settled in bed, depending on the degree of his inebriation.
15. Reciting an ancient Terran children’s story is no doubt beyond the normal functions of a friend as well. Though it seemed like the logical thing to do at the time, I may have been deluding myself. It appears to be yet another proof of my attraction to Leonard.
16. I shared some of my innermost thoughts about my mother with him… and it felt natural to do so. His personality resemblance to Mother and the fact that he had shared his own pain with me made it easy to trust him, even with such a difficult topic. But Nyota is correct in that I had not shared my thoughts with her on the same matter. Did I not trust her enough? Was I trying to protect her? But she had suffered her trauma quite recently — I could have spoken with her at any time during the previous five years, yet I had failed to do so. Why, then, did I feel no hesitation to speak with Leonard? Was it because of his innate compassion and warmth, or my attraction to him? Unclear.
Additional Note: The cause of that electric-like shock is still unknown.

Thus he concluded his list of possible proofs that he was attracted to McCoy. Analyzing it, Spock realized that his own definition of “attraction” was vague, which had caused some questions to be left unanswered.

“What is attraction, anyway? Although it seems many Humans determine attraction based on physical traits, I have always considered intellectual and moral compatibility to be more important criteria. Leonard is intelligent, obviously, having completed a regular medical course as well as the Starfleet Medical Academy; he can recall and treat a number of dissimilar humanoid species without referring to the computer; and he has also displayed a remarkable aptitude for piloting — in an alien craft with unfamiliar markings, no less. While he does not go about flaunting it, he is quite possibly one of the most intelligent Humans I have ever met.

“As for moral character, his profession speaks volumes. With his large physical build, he could have become an athlete or soldier or even a command officer with Starfleet, but instead he has chosen to be a healer to save lives rather than harming them. I had always recognized his passion and dedication to his vocation, but after sensing his emotions while caring for me, I know now that he is a healer by his very nature. And in spite of his occasional emotional outbursts, when Jim was being particularly illogical and insubordinate, Leonard tried to stop him and make him see reason — perhaps to protect both his friend and the crew, as is his duty. He may protest my un-emotional methodology at times, but he is still a man of science and reason. His level-headedness and resourcefulness in emergency situations are precisely what allowed him to save my life.

“Then is it gratitude that has drawn me to him? But if so, I should have become ‘obsessed’ with Jim as well, but that does not seem to have occurred. At least Nyota has not accused me of such… and I cannot remember spending as much time with Jim outside of work or thinking about him as extensively as I have with and about Leonard. So what else might be attracting me to Leonard? Had I sensed, long before I had realized it, that his nurturing spirit was reminiscent of Mother’s? In Human psychology, it is a respected belief that some are attracted to those who display similar traits as their own family members; was that, perhaps, making me gravitate toward him — even without realizing it?

“The only other criterion left is the physical. Leonard is healthy and physically fit, and I would judge him to be handsome for a Human male. Some Terran females seem to appreciate height, and he is certainly of a good height, with broad shoulders denoting his strength — indeed he was strong enough to help carry my weight when I was injured. Yet despite his strength, he was very gentle in handling me, trying his best not to make my injury any worse. He even insisted on my sleeping on his body to keep my core temperature from falling… perhaps also protecting me from the uncomfortable hardness of the floor. He is considerate and kind… and passionate about protecting his friends — all very admirable traits.”

Remembering how McCoy had held him that night, with the doctor’s strong feelings of PROTECT-PROTECT-PROTECT saturating him, Spock felt a glow of warmth. The tone of McCoy’s emotions had been as hot as the Vulcan sun, inexorably pouring life and energy into all who drew near. His hands had seemed to radiate healing into Spock’s weary frame. This was the most physically close Spock had been to another male in all of his life, and far from being awkward or uncomfortable, he had felt relaxed and… safe. Though his mind had known that the abandoned building offered scant protection against innumerable dangers, McCoy’s very presence and determination to protect him had lulled Spock into a restful, peaceful sleep.

“Perhaps that is the primary reason I was — and probably still am — drawn to him,” Spock pondered. “His strength of character… his compassion… his love, in a sense, for his patients. All very, very admirable traits.”

The final question in Spock’s mind, then, was: Do I desire to have an intimate, physical relationship with him?

“I find him intellectually compatible… his character is noble and admirable beyond a doubt,” Spock answered himself. “And although I had not considered a physical relationship with another male heretofore, there is no reason for me to avoid it. He is as physically attractive as anyone could possibly wish, even though that is not a priority for me. It seems there is no obstruction to forming such a relationship — at least on my part.”

Spock thought back to how he and Uhura had grown intimate. After she had finished taking all of the advanced Vulcan language courses he offered, she had approached him with an invitation to dinner, for which she had meticulously cooked traditional Vulcan dishes. Their first physical contact was when she had slipped her hand into his as they walked an easy hiking trail — her nervousness and excitement transmitting through his skin. Then one night when he had walked her back to her dormitory, she told him to wait, then stood on her tiptoes to place a tender kiss on his cheek.

Spock imagined walking that same hiking trail with McCoy while holding his hand, then allowed himself to feel his own response. He was a little nervous, embarrassed, and excited, but since he already knew the warmth and comfort McCoy usually exuded, he thought it would be a pleasant experience overall. Then he envisioned being kissed by the doctor — a simple, chaste kiss on his cheek with a half-teasing smile on McCoy’s lips as he drew near — and a surge of heat consumed his body. His male organ grew half-erect in just the space of that moment, startling him and making him lean closer against the wall to hide the bulge in his uniform.

“Well,” he thought, breathless and shocked at the revelation, “it seems Nyota was correct in her assessment: I am attracted to Leonard!”

He tried to focus on the trees in the park in front of his eyes, hoping that would calm his raging hormones, but all he could think was, “If being kissed by him is so desirable, what about a mutual kiss?”

His erection grew to its full extent as he considered opening his mouth to receive McCoy’s probing tongue, tasting him and feeling all of his emotions first-hand — they might sear him with their intensity, but Spock thought he could bear anything for the pleasure of basking in the Human’s undivided attention. McCoy would probably want to hold him, wrapping him in those strong arms and pulling him close; Spock knew he would gladly stay there forever, content and happy beyond anything he had ever experienced before. Without realizing it, he touched his lips with a finger, imagining the phantom heat of McCoy’s passionate kiss.

“Hey, Spock!” came a familiar voice from behind him. He turned to see Jim jogging up. “You all right? You’re usually back at your desk by 1100, but it’s already 1130.”

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