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Literature
Rain Dance - Chapter 1
Failure was not an uncommon word to Captain Kirk. It was one to be avoided, yes, but not uncommon. He had several. Members of his crew had been lost thus far on this mission, and not every situation could be solved in his favor. Not that it made it any easier to tell with anyway.
Commodore Barstow stood before him on his viewscreen, his hands folded. "You understand what this loss spells for a situation this delicate, let alone for the Federation overall? Diplomat Hedford will be greatly missed."
"My condolences to her family."
"That is not enough, Kirk. This situation must be rectified, and it will be in your hands." He reached into his desk and pulled out a PADD. "You and your crew will pick up the replacement diplomat, Yen Tien Phan, at Starbase Ten. You will be responsible for her until the end of the end of the negotiations."
Kirk tapped the side of his hand against his desk. "With all due respect, if we lost Diplomat Hedford, why would we be trusted with Diplomat Phan?"
"This is
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New Bookshelf, New Row by nightchildmoonchild New Bookshelf, New Row :iconnightchildmoonchild:nightchildmoonchild 2 7
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The Riverperson by nightchildmoonchild The Riverperson :iconnightchildmoonchild:nightchildmoonchild 1 5

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Of all people, Newton had never expected to Drift with Hermann.

The Drift, previously, had been alien, and somewhat cold, combining his mind with that of a kaiju. It was fascinating, allowing him to fully experience an inhuman mind. But this was different. He'd been excited, when Gottlieb had posited the idea of protecting him from the negative effects of the Drift. Humanity could be saved.

However, the sheer intimacy of it hit him. Hermann's thoughts were racing, as were his emotions. He could feel his nerves and fear. He could also feel his embarrassment at his thoughts being opened to Newton. Newton attempted to comfort him with reassurances and a sense of friendliness, beckoning him in. However, his concentration was slipping quickly as a result of the sheer information overload of another's thoughts and emotions twisting inside of him. How the Jaeger pilots could successfully do this, he had no clue.

Somewhere in the middle of it, he felt Hermann beginning to detach from him. Overwhelmed by his memories, he fell away to be stuck somewhere in the distance.

No!

His mind reached for Hermann's. He couldn't lose him now, not when they were so close. More importantly, he wasn't sure what could happen. The kaiju had damaged him enough the first time, and Hermann had forcibly disconnected him. If Gottlieb was lost, he feared the worst.

"Come on," he muttered, barely being able to keep up with the influx of information. It was difficult to make his way through it. The positivity was there, of achievements and excitements, but the negativity continued to overwhelm it. Newt braced himself against all of it. Pain from two peoples' lifetimes became a heavier and heavier burden to bear. He buckled under it.

Gottlieb flashed past him in visions, as if he was in a hall of mirrors. He was writing a letter to Newton in one of them. Newt watched his pen dance along the page. In another, he spoke adamantly before a class, tone shaking somewhat in his excitement of his subject. In yet another, he smiled warmly to himself as he watched the first Jaegers complete test runs. Beside him, Newt, as he was in the past, nudged him. "Nice work, dude!"

"Where are you?" Newt asked, his breath quick in his concern.

There was one other memory.

The tide of the North Sea dragged along the shore. Hermann was tapping away furiously at his laptop, while Newton, knee-deep in the sea water, and covered in spray, was studying the fish. The sea life, he noticed, had continued to alter. Migratory patterns of fish had strayed, with Pacific several strains appearing in these waters. Several dead strains, he noted, giving the next fish he had discarded.

The worship of the kaiju interested and annoyed him. Kaiju were naturally-occurring creatures, and not gods, creatures that were also interfering with the world's ecosystem. Earth had lasted for billions of years, and would continue to do so, if it was able to stabilize itself. What scared the hell out of him, though, was what that would mean for those who dwelled upon its surface.

Newt found the quietness of the sea to be too much so. Man was born from the ocean, and still knew too little about his mother. As a child, he'd fantasized about diving into the ocean, with his limbs transforming into fins, and his skin being replaced by scales. Of course, he'd gotten older, and realized that his soft human flesh wasn't going to change. Nevertheless, he couldn't let go of that desire to return home.

But he'd turned back, then, to look at Hermann for a moment, the thought of home dissipating. Watching himself, he felt foolish for indulging what seemed to him like a schoolboy affection.

"Is there something you want, Newton?" Hermann asked, glancing up at him.

Newt recalled the many different things he had considered doing, such as telling Hermann that he was taking a break, and sitting with him, or provoking him with some mildly entertaining conversation. But he had merely turned back to look at the sea, brushing his arm against his nose from the salt. "It's nothing, don't worry about it."

Newt, in the present day, paused as he watched Hermann slowly raise his eyes once more, his hand on his laptop. He hadn't seen this, in the past, the tightening of Gottlieb's fingers, and the slight tilt of his head. He glanced away from Newt's figure, and over at the shore, watching a gull take flight. He closed his eyes, adjusted his glasses, and returned his attention to the screen. Newton would have thought nothing of it, but the focus of the scene had shifted. It became grayer, and the sound became higher, the sea roaring in his ears. Gottlieb felt colder within, as if he had lost something.

It felt too close and personal. Newt pushed away from it. Hermann would see it, and Newton had seen too much. It had felt like an encroachment. Still, he wanted to find him, more so now, that man on the beach.

There he was.

Newt paused before the memory, catching his breath. He hadn't realized that he'd been panting. What threw him, however, was how Gottlieb appeared to him. The hallway was shadowed, with a light casting him in a sickly yellow. There was not a grown man, however, but a child, curled into a ball and hugging his knees.

Newton knelt before the little, sobbing boy. He was about to say something like "hey kid," but it didn't seem appropriate. "Hermann," he greeted gently. A lump was gathering in his throat from the sheer loneliness, and he swallowed it back down.

The child slowly glanced up, and Newt's fist clenched at his side. On his right cheek was a purple bruise. Someone had scribbled black marker all along his mouth and throat. Laughter and jeers sounded off in the distance, and Gottlieb drew back from them, curling further in on himself.

Newt placed his hand about his shoulder, gathering the boy close to himself. Deciding to adhere to the setting, he comforted, "It's okay, they won't touch you. I won't let them."

Hermann's head swung about, and his gaze changed. The fear and innocence, all short-sighted by a young age, fell away to be replaced by an older, more knowing expression. There was recognition, as well as shame at being caught like this. Newt's grasp tightened once to indicate no judgment. "We have to go," he whispered.

Hermann swallowed, gathering himself, and nodded, slowly reaching out to grasp his hand. The grip became less tentative, and stronger as he tugged him back into the onslaught of memories, headed straight for the alien form of the kaiju, past fears, doubts, and regrets, until at last human thought was broken and warped.

Geiszler sighed as he watched Gottlieb rush over to the open toilet and become sick into it. Pulling a handkerchief from his pocket, he placed it into Hermann's outstretched hand. Was that how afraid Hermann had felt, when unplugging him after his first Drift? He didn't like it and didn't want to think about it. With the fear and loneliness that had coiled around them both, in their Drift, it was better not to acknowledge it. There wasn't time, anyway.

XXXXXX

"It doesn't matter," Hermann muttered gruffly, erasing numbers and letters off his blackboard with a harder arm than he had previously, "It's the past."

Newt put his hands in his pockets and shook his head at the scientist's turned back. With a slight smirk, he knew that Gottlieb couldn't have lied worse to him, if he had tried. By the time he had turned back, however, Newt's smirk was gone. Instead, he shrugged. "Okay, I'll drop it."

"Good," sliding off the ladder, he caught himself, reaching for his cane, "Now, as much as I've enjoyed our little heart to heart, we are at work."

As Gottlieb limped over to his desk, and meaningfully sat down, Newt turned away, and walked back from the yellow dividing line. He wasn't expecting an immediate closeness, anyway. That aside, if he didn't want to talk about it, then fine. Kids were cruel. Nothing was new there, and it wasn't his job to be Hermann's unneeded white knight.

XXXXXX

"They were thinking of privatizing the Jaegers," Gottlieb commented bitterly as he limped beside him.

Newton, rain hitting off his umbrella, glanced over at him. "Why?"

Pausing, he lowered his scarf to explain, "The rich and powerful want the most beautiful toys. I doubt little that your friend Hannibal Chau is among them."

"Dude, he is not my friend!" Newton exclaimed, swinging about in annoyance. Gottlieb's smirk was backlit by the lights of a passing ship.

"My mistake, then," he relented, continuing along, "Naturally, I gave my opinion of the m—" Gasping, he stumbled over an overturned trash can, only to be caught by Geiszler.

"You okay?" He asked, helping him to stand.

"It's not very easy to see out of this hood," Gottlieb grumbled.

"Personally, I think you just wanna be a turtle," Newt said.

"That's adorable," Hermann replied sarcastically.

"You can always come under here. There's room," he offered, invitingly holding out his umbrella.

Hermann glanced between him and pavement, and sighed in acquiescence, moving under it, and lowering his hood. It was impossible to keep arms' length from Newton under such closeness, and he had to acquiesce to brushing and bumping, though it annoyed him.

"So, what was your opinion?" Newton asked, bringing the conversation back on topic.

"I stated that the Jaeger units were too dangerous to keep running. Humanity has only just united. With the kaiju threat gone, the only threat we pose seems to be ourselves. Frankly, I don't want us to destroy what we have just managed to find." He glanced out at the sea as he said that, thinking of his calculations as a little boy of eventually going to the stars.

"Yeah, about that…" Newton began, and stopped with a sigh.

Hermann glanced back over at him. "What's wrong?"

"I've been getting some weird messages lately. Apparently, some fanatics think I'm a second coming, or something, since the Drift." Hermann felt a chill run down a spine and glanced over his shoulder. Newton waved a hand. "Then I get others saying I belonged in a lab, and even offers for me to give myself up. I don't think I'm gonna be answering those. You get any?"

"A few," he admitted quietly, making a mental note to ask Tendo to place a block on their messaging system. Looking back at Newton, he stated, "You should be careful. We aren't sure how many people are aware of that."

Newton was quiet at that, and Hermann knew that he had caught him. When he spoke, however, the mask slid back into place. "I'll be all right. We're government employees."

"We are, but you aren't naïve," Hermann replied pointedly, "Others within might have conflicting interests."

"You worried?" Newton asked.

"I wouldn't have brought this up otherwise."

Geiszler groaned. "Come on, you really think the others would let that happen to us? You and I have known Mako since she was a kid. Tendo would be willing to go to bat for us. Don't think that's immediately going to end because the Breach is closed."

"I don't, but," he stopped himself, and realized it was too late, "I don't want to lose my partner."

Newton felt a joke rising in his throat, but let it go. "You won't. We've had ten years between us, unless you wanted to go somewhere?"

"Not likely," he replied curtly, "I'm needed here."

An awning loomed, and Gottlieb gratefully walked out from under the umbrella to stand beneath it. Advertisements for food glowed off his skin in red. Newton, his face framed by darkness, stood before him under that umbrella. The bluish glow of the natural moonlight made him appear somewhat childish, and delicate. Multiple times in their shared past, Newton had warned him against straying too close to the military out of a sense of protectiveness. Perhaps he had a point, especially now that humanity was free, for the moment.

"I'll be one of the leads on the project to dismantle the Jaegers," he explained.

Newton's face fell. "Oh Hermann, I'm so sorry! That was your life's work!"

"It's fine," he reassured with a slight smile, "If it means that humanity is safe, then it's worth dismantling them."

Newt smiled back. "Then, doctor, where are we headed?"

He chuckled, glancing out over the clouded horizon. "Anywhere."

Opportunity never knocked twice, but perhaps now, an exception could be made.

Newt moved forward, his arm brushing against Hermann's. Hermann's eyes immediately flicked up to catch Newt's. A breath escaped the physicist's lips. Newton immediately felt as if he'd overstepped his bounds. "Oh, sorry about that. Here, I'll—" He paused upon feeling Gottlieb's fingers tightening about his. He could only ask, in all his eloquence, "Huh?"

The taller man tugged him under the awning. The front lapels of his winter coat brushed against Newton's. Steam stirred from their shared breaths. Newt felt his glasses fogging up at the proximity. A hand came up on the back of his neck. He could feel it moving over the hair that was plastered to it. Feeling completely caught, Newton could only ask, "So, now what?"

That earned a smirk from Hermann. Newt saw it for a moment, and the next he was up against the side of his neck. Newt smelled rainwater on him, as well as ink and chalk. Beneath it, however, was a sweet-smelling cologne he wore. Newt lifted his arms to wrap around him, and Hermann possessively tugged him closer, their breaths continuing to mingle.

"You are an insufferable man, Newton," Gottlieb grumbled.

"Thanks."

Rain continued to fall as they snuggled in their embrace.

XXXXXX

The dissected bodies and remains of kaiju were spread about the room in large amounts. Despite himself, Newton found that he wanted more interactions with these other-worldly beings to truly understand them. They were now myths, nightmares of a previous age. He didn't think politically on it, as he dug his hands into the remains of the female kaiju. He was a scientist, and that was his only concern.

Hermann continued to kick and shove aside entrails in annoyance, exclaiming, "I did not give you permission to move your rubbish on my side, Newton!"

"What?" He asked, holding his hands up, which were currently covered in kaiju fluid. "My tables are on my side! I can't help if things fall off!"

"You're doing it on purpose!" Herman exclaimed in annoyance, jabbing a thumb at him, "The moment I let my guard down, you start encroaching on my territory!"

Newton shrugged. "Yeah, that's nice, honey. You do have more than just this spot of room to work with."

His cheeks red, Hermann exclaimed, "Don't you call me 'honey!' Keep your trash on your side of the room!"

"You could've just asked nicely," Newton said.

Gottlieb's shoulders rose at that, but he decided against replying to him.

As time passed, however, and he began weighing and measuring the baby kaiju's corpse, Newt found he pitied the little creature, lost without its mother, and not even ready to enter the world yet. In some ways, he found that he wasn't ready to rejoin civilization, as well, having spliced his consciousness with a kaiju alone. He wondered if he could be considered mad by society's standards and pushed it away.

Newton fell back heavily onto his chair, dozing slightly from the day. A sigh sounded near him, and he watched Hermann settle into a nearby chair. Cracking an eye open, he commented, "You're on my side."

"Oh, shut it, we aren't working," Hermann shot back.

Newton shrugged, cracking his other eye open. "Guess I was mistaken." With a yawn, he stretched backward over his chair, and pulled himself up to sit straight. A surprised expression passed over Hermann's face, and he rose.

"Stay still," Gottlieb instructed, reaching toward him.

"What for?" Geiszler asked, "Something on my face?"

Hermann sighed in annoyance. "Humor me for once, please."

Newton swallowed upon realizing that his levity wasn't working. He gave a slight nod, and relaxed. Gottlieb's spider-like fingers fell upon his face. The pads, he realized, were quite soft. He allowed Hermann to tilt his face and examine him, feeling over the lines and imperfections on his face. A chair squealed, and Gottlieb's cane thumped against it. After he braced himself on the chair, Hermann's other hand slowly came up and tugged off Newt's glasses to place to the side, his dark gaze not leaving Newt's. Newt breathed softly and wanted to play it off with a snide comment. The words didn't come, and instead he asked, "What do you see?"

Gottlieb found little on the surface of Geiszler's face. There was paleness, which was understandable, given that they had spent several days underground. There were bags from lack of sleep. There was acne near his jawline and hairline due to the humidity of the area, and the natural oils from his body. There were scars and imperfections Gottlieb now knew, a scar from banging his head off the corner of a table as an over-excited child here, and another from an apartment fire there.

He needed more information, he had decided, and the removal of the glasses had given it to him. Newton's green eyes were bloodshot, his irises rimmed with red. Staring deeper into them, he saw his reflection clearly in the lenses. The pupils remained somewhat large, not retracting at his presence. Newton's eyes were on him, but they looked glassy, and lost. Gottlieb became unsettled at the visual of himself, framed in this perpetual mirror. "It's gotten worse," he murmured, the words feeling hollow in his throat.

"What do you mean?" He asked, reaching blindly to the side for his glasses.

Gottlieb gratefully broke their eye contact to press Newt's glasses into his hand. He put them on quickly, and visibly relaxed. "You aren't registering my presence. You seem detached from your environment. Your eyes are also still red."

"I mean, that could be from anything. We barely get out enough, as it is," Newt replied skeptically with a slight shrug. His heart, however, beat quickly.

"Newton, you're the biologist here. Does that sound correct?" Gottlieb asked, tugging his cane off the chair to stand fully, his weight braced upon it.

Newt smiled at the fact that Gottlieb was deferring to his judgement, but it fell. Spreading his legs, he sat back. "No, I guess not."

"He guesses," Gottlieb muttered, waving one hand about, and staring up at the ceiling in annoyance, "He lampoons my method of prediction, and yet he guesses now."

"So, what do you mean?" Newt asked, glancing over at the tanks.

"What I mean is someone should look after you, to keep this from going too far," Hermann explained. At the other scientist's shake of the head, he implored, "You're getting sick, Newton. It will only become worse, if you're left on your own."

Newton challenged, "What, you think I can't take care of myself?"

"Of course, I don't. You're an adult," Gottlieb scoffed. Holding up a finger, he added, "However, knowing you, you certainly won't."

"Oh gee, thanks, Mom," Newt muttered, putting his fingers into his pockets, "So, who would you suggest?"

Hermann shrugged. "I can put up with you, I suppose."

Newt's breath caught, and his eyes widened. "You'd do that for me?"

Gottlieb's fingers fell under Geiszler's chin, and he tilted it up. He gave a solemn nod. Newt stood quickly, and, not wanting to give himself time to think, threw his arm about Hermann. Hermann's gasp was caught in the kiss Newt gave him. The cane wobbled for one moment, and the next, he grasped Newt's shirt tightly. Hermann's back hit the desk behind him, and he braced his legs against it, the cane clattering to the floor. Newton's hands paused on his hips, and, at his lover's grunt of approval, hoisted him onto the desk. Paperwork and pens slid off under Hermann's fingers.

His breath caught, and he half spun about to grasp them. Newt stopped him with a stroke of his cheek. "It's okay, I'll clean it up."

Hermann snorted. "You'd only make it worse. I've had to spend most of my time moving your messes to your side of the room!"

Newt glanced up under the hair that had fallen over his forehead. With a smirk, he asked, "Still wanna put up with me?"

Gottlieb rolled his eyes at him. Grasping him by his tie, he tugged him in close, his voice becoming low-pitched in its intensity. "Do you honestly think I would let you go, after that?"

Newton, caught off-guard, could only give a cheeky grin before Hermann tugged him back for a hard kiss.

XXXXXX

The first few weeks after the apocalypse had been cancelled, Newton lay, with Hermann's arms protectively around him, under an old blanket. The laboratory bunks were sparse, as were others in the shatter dome. Cocooned alongside him, Newt enjoyed the feeling of his lover's warmth, and his breath on his hair. Hermann's cane was propped against a nearby locker. The room felt still around them.

Hermann tended to fell asleep sooner, while Newt's thoughts wandered as he stared at their arms, Hermann's bare, and his covered with intricate kaiju markings. He'd miss the kaiju, as it felt as if the fantasy was ended. Leaning forward, he kissed the back of Hermann's wrist. Scientists were still needed now, more than ever, to investigate all that had remained.

Base human instincts, such as the one that was making his stomach growl, still took center stage. He had a little trouble wriggling out of Gottlieb's arms, prompting the other scientist to partially wake up. "What's wrong?" Hermann mumbled, his voice muffled from where it was half-buried in the pillow.

"Breakfast time," Newt replied.

"Ah," he muttered, his speech slurring, and loosening his arms, "Well, you can always have that rice cake."

"Hermann, you ate the rice cake yesterday at lunch."

"I did? I don't remember lunch," he muttered. His voice trailed off into sleepy, unintelligible mumbles, though Newton caught something about a unicorn getting its horn stuck in the side of a tree. Newt stifled a laugh.

"That's because you had it one hand, and a pen in the other while you were scribbling down notes," Newt reminded him, kissing the back of his neck.

"Oh, I'm sorry, dear," Hermann mumbled.

"It's okay," Newt allowed, "I'll let it slide."

"That's nice of you," Hermann replied drowsily, rolling back over. A soft snoring droned from him.

Newt covered his sleeping lover carefully with the blanket and leaned down to kiss his cheek. He'd learned a few things about Hermann, lately. Hermann's lips tasted of cinnamon, the sensation being as sharp as his words. His belt made a good tie when he was fed up with Newton's arms flailing about. He tended to speak into Newton's ear when making love or during foreplay, whispering endearments in their native language.

Now, however, Gottlieb was cute as he lay, curled up under the blanket, continuing to mumble about his dreams. He'd keep him safe, vulnerable as he was.

XXXXXX

Pity, however, was one thing Hermann couldn't abide, and Newt was careful about it.

Nevertheless, Gottlieb felt the other man's embrace from behind, and pushed off his desk to lean backward into it. Newt's chin pressed into his shoulder, content. Slowly, he lowered his own head to lay against his.

"Hey, sweetheart," Newton murmured fondly.

A small smile tugged at the corner of Hermann's mouth at the endearment. It broadened as he felt Newton give him a slight squeeze, his fingers sliding over the buttons on his shirt once before falling onto the fabric. Previously, he would have pulled away, and found his friend's touch a nuisance, but he understood it, now.

Newt, it seemed, was all too willing to prove himself, and Hermann appreciated that. Nevertheless, Newt was a groupie. But that was fine, he decided, stopping his lover's hand. Picking it up, he kissed the palm. Newton didn't need a tattoo for him, when he was already under his skin.
Compass
I apologize in advance. I haven't seen Pacific Rim ever since five years ago. This fic ignores Pacific Rim: Uprising, as to me, the story of Pacific Rim felt finished at the end of the first film. The line about Newt protecting Hermann from the military is due to a deleted scene from the film, where Newt tells Hermann not to salute Raleigh, as Hermann isn't an officer. This fic was an experiment with linearity of time. According to his character profile, Gottlieb worked on creating the Jaegers. Additional note: Gottlieb is referring to any inactive Jaegers, such as those that were physically at reportedly closed shatterdomes.
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McCoy wasn't sure what time it was, exactly, or whether he had truly awoken. Hands gently maneuvered him against the pillows to rest more comfortably. A sheet was tugged to rest in place over his legs. He felt lips on the side of his face. "Spock…?" He groaned, clumsily feeling about for him.

"Rest, Ashayam, there are still a few hours," he whispered, his weight disappearing off the bed, and his footsteps padding across the room.

Cracking his eye open, McCoy registered the wobbly outline of Spock sitting down on the other side of the mesh to meditate. Turning his head back to the surface of the pillow, he drifted into darkness once more.

He woke to the sound of running water. McCoy groggily sat up, throwing the sheet from him. He glanced about his surroundings, attempting to register them. He smelled of a faint musk, and the dried stains on the sheets tipped him off. A weight on his shoulders released as he realized that another bridge had been rebuilt between himself and his lover.

He grasped his clothing, which was piled at the foot of the bed, and tugged his undershirt and boxers back on. Footsteps whispered in the adjacent room, and Spock entered, clad in full uniform. "Morning, darling," McCoy greeted.

Spock nodded, and folded his hands behind his back. "Forgive me."

McCoy paused, his tunic hanging between his hands. "For…?"

"Having relations with you last night."

McCoy smirked. "You don't see me complaining."

"It was a reckless decision," Spock argued quietly, "It could have worsened matters than they already were. You were unsure if you were ready."

McCoy dropped the garment to the side in annoyance. "Don't you think that I was maybe tired of waiting, and that I wanted things to get better?" He shook his head. "I didn't want to keep walking around you on this. Eventually, it would have come between us."

"You recall what I told you, when I had walked you back to your quarters? It did not matter to me, whether our relationship would return to the physical sense, or not, so long as we were together. You should know me well enough by now to understand that that was not said for your comfort. I wished to be truthful in my stance."

McCoy was silent, and Spock felt a sense, in the long gaze he gave him, of being talked down to. Spock disliked it. McCoy was older than him, yes, but his emotional maturity was something to be desired. He was not as much a veteran of life experience as he thought himself to be. And that arrogance was very unflattering on him. His posture became stiff, any slight relaxation of expression Spock had vanishing.

McCoy's expression hardened. Spock certainly was one to talk when it came to arrogance, with his holier-than-thou view of humanity. However, he let out a breath, and decided against barbing him this time. "When I didn't address a problem in my past relationship, it didn't just go away," he snapped his fingers, "like that. It only festered and ended up poisoning both people. I don't want that to happen to us."

"Is that why you forced the issue?" Spock inquired.

"if you want to be so blunt about it, yes," he replied.

"I am not Jocelyn," Spock stated flatly.

McCoy put his head in his hands and felt completely embarrassed. Footsteps crossed over to him, and a hand was placed on his shoulder. Sighing, McCoy lowered his hands to his lap. "I assume you find it pathetic."

Spock's hand tightened on his shoulder. "Leonard, stop. I am concerned for you."

"Yeah, well, ever since I got back from that other universe, you've handled me like I was nitroglycerin," he growled.

"That is partly out of honor for my captain," Spock answered.

McCoy glanced up. "What's Jim got to do with this?"

"He advised me to allow you the space to heal," Spock explained, lowering his hand, "Perhaps you do not approve of my using a conduit to further understand you, but you were not well at the time. Never mind the fact that my observations about humanity tend to annoy you."

McCoy cracked his knuckles. "That's because, half the time, you don't give humanity a chance. I do the same with Vulcan philosophy, and that's an ugliness I'll eventually work on. Well," he shrugged, "either that or replace my brain with a motherboard, whichever comes first." Dropping his hands, he asked, "But why didn't you tell me that you talked to Jim?"

"You do not inform me of all private conversations you have with the captain," Spock replied.

"Yes, but it was about me," McCoy muttered in embarrassment. Spock raised his eyebrow at him, and he caught himself. "Oh."

"Perhaps I should not have kept this from you, but I was unsure, exactly, what to do."

McCoy smirked. "Well, I'll be. There must be a blue moon rising tonight."

"I find your statement illogical. There are no nearby moons of that color," he replied as McCoy guided him to sit down beside him. Spock complied, moving McCoy's uniform shirt aside.

"Figure of speech," he replied, "Sorry I haven't been the easiest person to live with lately."

"Lately?" Spock inquired. At his lover's annoyed expression, he laid the point aside. "It is understandable. I resemble him. You have also apologized multiple times for this. Further recriminations are not needed, nor were they to begin with. This was not your fault."

McCoy folded his arms and turned away from him. Through their bodily contact, Spock felt a sense of self-loathing that Leonard felt. While the physical component was certainly there, it was also due to years of regrets that Spock's counterpart had dug into and judged him for. Every intimacy and fantasy McCoy had had been ripped from his grasp and used to humiliate him. The healing mind meld he had initiated with the primary universe's Spock had been a start, but it would take longer to truly heal. It wasn't logical at all, and it wasn't a healthy course of action, but he found that he could understand it. For as slipshod as McCoy claimed him to be in handling relations with his crewmates, Spock knew that telling him he was acting irrational would wound him grievously.

Embracing McCoy from behind, Spock buried his head in his shoulder. Humans were amusing, in their own way, though more so frustrating. But to say that they were worthless was utterly wrong. Spock, in his own way, spat upon humanity, as his classmates had upon him for his mixed heritage. And that was not to say that humans weren't exempt from this. The man he was currently embracing, for example, made cutting remarks, though they had been easy to put down. The ease, however, signified to him that they were harmless. Any ill intentions were dropped when their lives were on the line. It didn't matter now, however. It would be foolish for him to walk away from something he had invested his time into, much less something that provided healing to him. There were aspects of their relationship that he did not give words to, as it would go against his disciplines.

And more often, he found, words were simply not needed.

McCoy shut his eyes, his arm falling across his lap. He leaned backward into his lover's embrace. He didn't expect things to suddenly make sense again, after last night, but he did feel disappointment, nonetheless. One of the main issues he had was that it was difficult for him to move into the future, being anachronistic in comparison to his crewmates. But this was different, and it unnerved him to realize it. For as many times as he had turned over that memory, unable to stay away from it, it was hard to truly come to terms with his own personal violation. He hadn't thought it would happen to him, much less like this.

And yet, there was this peace he did have with Spock now. It was, in a way, a sense of whiplash. He had merely confronted a fragment of his past in the meld he had shared with Spock. No, there would not be closure on this incident, and perhaps that was what he found most disturbing of all. There were these gentle reassurances, though, that Spock was whispering through their bodily contact. They were nice for now, but they were not permanent.

Spock had wanted to remain by his side, even in the aftermath of this. He was willing to do this. McCoy felt a sense of relief at that, but nevertheless, drew back in on himself. He wasn't an invalid. However, he stopped himself just as soon. Spock was showing him his weak point. He could only repay him in kind. McCoy settled himself back against his lover, and felt his embrace tighten. A grin slowly spread across the doctor's face. "Next shore leave, let's go somewhere dry. We'll count the stars."

"That would be satisfactory," Spock agreed. A few relaxed minutes, punctuated by their breathing, passed until Spock whispered in his ear, "Finish getting dressed, Ashayam. Our captain is waiting for us."

XXXXXX

During Phan's departure, Kirk wore his dress uniform. The diplomat appeared to be quite tired as she walked at his side down the hallway, the rucksack back over her shoulder. "That wasn't easy," she commented quietly.

Kirk smiled at that. "That's saying little."

Phan tilted her head, glancing at him sidelong. "Captain, I must apologize for misjudging you and your crew. I had thought you careless after the death of Diplomat Hedford, but that was incorrect."

"To be fair, you were worried about your own life. I apologize for putting you ill at ease," he replied, "Nonetheless, it's been a pleasure."

The doors to the transport room opened, and Phan stepped onto the pad. Turning back, she inquired, "I assume you will continue to explore, now?"

Kirk nodded. "That's right."

"Then I wish you well in your endeavors, Captain."

Kirk's smile widened to a grin as he glanced over at Lieutenant Kyle. "Mr. Kyle?"

"Energizing." Phan folded her arms at Kirk and vanished.

XXXXXX

McCoy puzzled over the star map that lay on the PADD before them. "That one's Betelgeuse, I think."

Spock nodded his head. "The dying star." He tapped the map, which was zoomed in upon their current world, bearing the human moniker Ixchel. On the map, as he expanded it, markers intermittently glowed. Spock placed a marker upon Betelgeuse and glanced over a few of the others. Vulcan was signified, as was T'Khut. Earth glowed with it distantly. Far off to the side was the lonely planet that bore the botched first contact with the Iklosians, and the discovery of the defunct transhuman hub.

Spread out below them was a local village, set off in the rural districts of the planet. Lights burned from the windows beneath them. The region was a stepped plateau, with the locals irrigating their crops. In the distance a city stood, nestled against the side of a mountain. Roaring sounded in the distance as ships landed at, and departed from, the spaceport.

McCoy sat back upon his palms. "It's easy to feel lost, out there."

"Perhaps, but nevertheless, if one uses reason, the path is less difficult to find."

McCoy raised his eyebrow. "You do realize what ship we're on, right? We've been making it up as we've gone for the last two years."

"Incorrect. Our reasoning has been based upon practicality. We merely shift ourselves about in order to integrate to the situation." He broke off when McCoy shivered. "Are you cold, Len?"

"Night air's getting to me," he replied.

Spock rose, and unfolded the blanket they had brought with them to drape over his lover's shoulders. McCoy glanced up at him. "Get under here."

"I am fine," he replied, folding his arms behind his back.

"If I'm cold, you are, too," McCoy argued, holding the blanket open for him. When Spock still didn't budge, he added, "Doctor's orders, I'm warming you up."

Relenting, Spock sat down, and allowed him to draw the blanket over his shoulders. McCoy cuddled up against him, his hand falling beside him. Spock covered it with his own and felt a sense of tentative peace from his lover. It was a more animalistic type of fear, now. Spock's counterpart was long gone but the memory of him still hovered, just out of his periphery. It would take a very long time for it to disappear, if at all. Reality had been altered. But they were still here tonight. He would be willing to protect McCoy from anything.

McCoy, however, stopped him. "Don't think about it, we're on shore leave." Spock glanced over at him. McCoy continued, "If you live your life with regrets, you'll miss what's in front of you."

"You have regrets," Spock commented.

McCoy nodded. "Many, but," he put a hand to his cheek, "you're not one of them."

Spock tugged him closer and kissed him. He could feel McCoy's unhappiness from his lingering memories. He wished to tug his lover free, for a moment, but he forced his human side to submit. McCoy had his own experiences that made up who he was, and he had to find his own personal truth, his human form of c'thia, within himself.

Leonard drew out, rested his head against the side of Spock's shoulder, and closed his eyes. Spock gently tugged him closer inward, the blanket slipping on his shoulders, until he was upon the Vulcan's lap. Grasping it, Spock tugged it back up, slightly mussing McCoy's hair. He was warm, as humans were. He found comfort in the closeness. He liked seeing the doctor like this, relaxed, and at peace. By the time McCoy would wake up again, he would find himself in bed, wrapped in sheets, and his head resting against the pillows.

The lights of the buildings slowly went out, and the stars hung above them in an alien sky.

"Where have you been all my life?" McCoy had joked to him, and Spock, not understanding, had replied Vulcan. He ran a finger through the strands of McCoy's hair. The probability of him being here with this man, as they were, was quite low, and admittedly contrived based upon circumstance. Yet, it was something that transcended reality, for even in that alternate universe, their counterparts were together.

Regardless, this was their time alone together. The night sky was filled with endless possibilities, but he tempered them with concern for his lover. Spock lowered his eyes to look contemplatively at McCoy and realized that he had to let go. It would not be the last time that McCoy would come to harm, given their professions. He had chosen this. He knew the risks.

And yet…He didn't want to. McCoy was his responsibility, anyway, being his subordinate, but he couldn't restrain the doctor from performing his function. He kissed the top of McCoy's head, and the doctor stirred slightly against him in his sleep. It was impossible for him to always be there to protect his lover, but whether he would make every attempt to do so was not even a question. He admired Leonard's bravery, as well as his compassion, however what concerned him was that McCoy's instinct was to care about him, as opposed to himself, in the wake of all of this.

He broke off the kiss. They would still have time on shore leave to enjoy one another's company. He planned to make efficient use of it.

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McCoy felt frozen to the spot, his clenched fists shaking in barely contained anger as he stood, just behind the four queens, with Phan at his side, watching the viewscreen. Policemen and women overran the crowd of protestors, arresting and dragging off many.

Jim's head had poked up in one of the shots, and he hadn't found himself surprised at that, though he did want to give the fool a piece of his mind. "I need to be there," he muttered to Phan.

She turned her head, her dark eyes meeting his. Her gaze was sympathetic, and she slowly nodded. Before them, the queens bickered with each other, Ziza waving a hand and exclaiming at Yi, "Is this how you run a city, old fool?! Look at your people!"

"This can't stand, Yi!" Noreen chimed in, drawing herself as far as she could to her own height on her bad leg, "If this is how you treat your own people, then these peace talks are over!"

Meylu added, much to McCoy's surprise, in an accusatory tone, "Mark me, this will be the instigating action, if it is not contained!"

Holding up her hands, Yi yelled, "Enough, all of you!"

"I should say not!" Ziza hollered back, "We aren't your kowtowing citizenry!" Pointing at the viewscreen, she demanded, "There's your problem, now fix it!"

"Excuse me?" Yi growled, placing a hand to her breast, and leaning forward, "You are one to talk!"

"Pardon!" Phan's shoe meaningfully hit against the floor beneath her as she started forward.

The four of them turned to look at her. "What is it?" Meylu asked in annoyance.

"Dr. McCoy has expressed the desire to assist these people. Surely that might help to alleviate the issue?" She inquired.

"Him?" Meylu asked, glancing over at McCoy, who had let his fists go for her inspection. "He is already occupied."

"Yes, and he's being patently useless," Ziza replied, glancing over at Phan, "Keeping this little one alive is not necessarily difficult."

"You seem to be having a change of heart, Ziza," Noreen commented, "Is there a reason as to why?"

Ziza shrugged. "Simple. I don't like him. I want him to leave, and now there is a reason."

"Agreed," Noreen turned to look at him full on. "Doctor, your departure might bode well for us, in this situation. Have you a replacement?"

"I do," he replied, pulling out his communicator, "Nurse Chapel is more than qualified to oversee Diplomat Phan's health, provided that I have her permission to do so."

"I would prefer for you to remain, actually," Meylu argued, "You are a doctor, and she is a nurse."

McCoy raised an eyebrow at that, and Noreen asked, "Have you any other reason than that, Meylu?"

"My vote stands," she replied, resolutely folding her arms, "I am a queen. I need not state a reason further."

"On that note, then, I will also give the doctor permission to leave. I need no justification," Yi added, a note of humor in her voice. Meylu spun to look at her, only to meet with a contemptuous smirk.

"Good, I'll get a hold of her," McCoy decided.

"Outside, please," Yi gestured flippantly.

"McCoy, Phan, with me, now," Ziza ordered, stepping out from the small group. Caught off-guard, they followed her through the capital building, which was now abuzz with workers running to and fro, communication devices constantly beeping, and paperwork flying everywhere.

Ziza's goggles reflected the headlights of the trucks that moved by as she stood at the top of the steps of the capital building. Reporters were held at bay by military officials, with cameras snapping, and recording devices humming. Ziza's name was called by them. McCoy slowly raised his hood against the rain, while Phan remained beneath the overhang.

Ziza reached into her pocket, and pulled out a round black object, similar in size to a woman's compact, or a clamshell. It was smooth, much like a stone, and lit up in a yellow glow when she pressed her thumb down on its surface. "Captain Dira, report in."

"How may I be of assistance, Your Highness?" A woman's voice, bearing a raspy undertone, inquired.

"I have a passenger for you to carry on board the Harpoon, a Lieutenant Commander Leonard McCoy of the Federation. You are hereby instructed bring him to the closest port, within reason, to the incident that has recently occurred at the square. Do not allow harm to come to him."

"Aye, Your Majesty," Dira replied. One of the waiting ships in the harbor flashed its lights multiple times, McCoy realizing immediately that it was transmitting a message through Morse code. A smaller ship signaled back and made its way for shore. "Lieutenant Zann is now on his way to collect this officer. Have you further need of my assistance?"

"Not at this time. Good sailing to you."

"As to you, Your Highness."

Ziza pressed her palm down once again upon the communicator, extinguishing the yellow light. Putting it away, she turned to McCoy. "You may call your nurse, if you have not done so already, doctor."

McCoy nodded, and flipped open his communicator. "McCoy to Enterprise."

"Chapel here," a wary voice answered him.

Noticing her tone, he inquired, "Anything happen up there?"

"The away team has returned with a few minor injuries. I'm more concerned as to what this means for the planet," she commented.

McCoy's eyes moved to Phan for a moment. Her eyes narrowed at him, and he replied, "Nothing's happened yet. I have a task for you, nurse."

"Go ahead."

"I'm going to assist the wounded here. In the meantime, I need you to fill in for me with Diplomat Phan."

"Are any others allowed to help, doctor?" Chapel asked.

McCoy raised his mouth from his communicator as he more fully looked at Ziza. She shook her head. "You should have asked Yi that question."

"I will do so," Phan offered.

"Yi should transport the others," Ziza decided, "I am not a taxi service. I would just prefer to be rid of you as soon as I can be, McCoy."

"Thank you," he replied, the sarcasm settling into his tone before turning back to his communicator, "Undetermined now, nurse. Be ready to transport in five minutes."

"Understood."

Flipping the communicator closed, he watched a truck pull to a stop, and a driver's side door open to allow a husky figure in a diving suit out. Following behind him were two guards bearing rifles. The reporters slowly parted to allow them through the gates. "There is my lieutenant," Ziza announced, turning on her heel to walk back inside the building. "We'll be waiting for you, diplomat," she said over her shoulder.

"She's scared," Phan commented in sotto voce after Ziza was out of earshot.

McCoy folded his hands behind in his back to knead at them. "She has every right to be. Personally, I can't help but wonder how the four of them get anything done."

She shrugged. "Alone, they aren't so bad. Oh, and one thing about Dira," she glanced over at him, "Let her scan you when you get on board."

He stopped kneading his hands. "Is that customary?"

"In Ziza's fleet, yes. Too many incidents happened in close quarters, in the past. Each queen keeps the peace here, in her own way." He didn't feel the need or desire to ask about Noreen and Meylu's methods, and the sudden appearance of Nurse Chapel stopped their conversation.

"Good afternoon, doctor," Chapel greeted, and turning to her attention to Phan, added, "Diplomat."

Phan politely folded her arms at her, and McCoy commanded, "As soon as Yi gives permission for anyone else to beam down, let me know. I'll transmit my location to the Enterprise."

"Absolutely," turning to Phan, she stated, "I'm ready when you are."

"Take care of yourself," McCoy said to Phan. She nodded her head at him, her body silhouetted from where she was framed in the doorway. She turned and went inside, Chapel following her, rain whipping off her long hair and cloak.

McCoy hurried down the stairs. He was greeted at the foot by the large figure, his voice amplified by the speaker in his suit. In his hands was an object, covered by a thick cloth. "Lieutenant Commander McCoy, I gather?"

"Doctor," he corrected immediately, glancing with suspicion at the covered object.

Zann removed the cloth, and held out a gas mask, similar in design to the one Spock wore. "A precaution for the journey. We're not used to air breathers."

"Thank you." After taking it, McCoy was herded on by a clap to his back. Flanked by the two guards, with Zann bringing up the rear, he was led through the gate, and past the reporters, several of whom shouted questions, or "Doctor!" Flashes went off, causing him to grit his teeth and raise his arm in annoyance.

"The back of the truck, doctor. There isn't room in the cab," Zann directed him.

Climbing into it past a heavy curtain, McCoy gasped, falling and nearly bashing his head off a metal crate. "Damn planet," he mumbled, propping his hand upon the crate to keep himself from slipping as the truck rumbled off. It would be just his luck, he figured, if he was killed by a falling crate.

Surprisingly, this proved not to be the case. He was ushered into the previously seen small craft, which, after Zann had settled in behind him, took off. "Keep your legs close together, doctor!" He called from the rear, "Wouldn't want you falling out!" The Norsican gave a deep-throated laugh, slapping his knee from his little joke.

Squinting his eyes against the spray, McCoy wondered if he was going to be stuck with this insufferable man throughout the entirety of the journey. The craft stopped beside a hulking ship, with white letters McCoy could not read emblazoned on the side. A massive crane lowered, clamped onto the craft, and raised it. McCoy's stomach turned over at the sensation of weightlessness. Turning his head to the side, he watched the shadows of the ship's passengers move against yellow and red lights. A metal door dropped open, and Zann swung a leg to the side. With a grunt, he hauled himself over, causing the craft to swing out slightly. McCoy gritted his teeth and held tightly to the bench he was sitting on.

A gloved hand seized his shoulder. "Up we go!"

Brushing his hand off, McCoy drew up his cloak with one hand, and used the other to clamber over past the doorframe. The door closed behind the two, sealing them in a massive area well-lit by white lights. Ground vehicles stood in the area, with maintenance crews in gray jumpsuits moving about and performing repairs.

"The mask," Zann reminded him.

McCoy placed it on over his nose and mouth, and immediately found it uncomfortable. His breaths were amplified in his own ears, and he began to tug at it.

"It's recommended for your own safety, doctor, that you keep the mask on," Zann stopped him sharply, pausing to stand directly before him. McCoy's hands fell to his sides. He felt somewhat naked without his phaser and felt lucky that his communicator hadn't been taken. "We will not harm you, doctor, but it is recommended that you keep your findings and your sentiments to yourself," Zann explained, "Captain Dira prefers a steady voyage, and we tolerate the Federation, at the moment."

"Glad to know I'm welcomed," McCoy muttered.

"This way." He was led down a service ladder, and through a few sets of narrow corridors. Workers with yellow striped jackets brushed by him.

"Out of the way, human," one of them muttered in annoyance after her clipboard caught on his arm by mistake.

The hallways slowly opened, allowing him to hear more voices echoing about. The Norsicans on board drew his interest, and he carefully glanced about at each of them. Several of them, he noticed, bore scars and healed abrasions, notably from the rubbing of the breathing apparatuses around the neck. Others, having removed the top armor they wore on shore, revealed longer and deeper scars, as well as casts and bandages. He immediately felt sympathy for them and wished to attend to them. He wandered away from Zann, toward the nearest Norsican, only to be drawn backward by an arm. "Let go of me!" McCoy exclaimed in annoyance, tugging at his arm, "I'm only trying to help!" The Norsicans in the room paused to mutter among themselves before briskly vacating the area.

"You have not been given permission to go wherever you please on this ship," Zann replied in a firm tone, "Now, come with me, or I will deposit you back on that dock." McCoy glared at him but made no further sign of protest.

Zann led him through a circular doorway, illuminated in a mustard yellow. Through it, the ship's bridge was lit in dark reds and oranges. The stations hummed with activity, and a woman's voice was heard. "Environmental awareness is the key to overcoming our disadvantage. Nox, make a note of this. I want a greater contingent granted to disembarkation." The speaker was currently sitting slightly forward in a chair, her head tilted forward as she looked toward the glass that framed the ship's nose. Her one hand was spinning an orange disk-like interface on her chair's right arm, while the left tapped upon blue and green buttons.

"Noted, captain," replied a male who stood beside the chair as he scrawled upon a PADD.

"Captain," Zann called.

The woman, without releasing her grip on the controls, turned her head, revealing, much to McCoy's surprise, a mechanical eye on the left side of her face, which glowed a muted red. "Ah, Lieutenant, there you are. And you've brought our passenger along safely. Lieutenant Commander, is it?"

"He stated that he prefers to be called 'doctor,'" Zann rumbled.

"That's fine. Come here, please, doctor," Dira entreated.

Zann moved out of the way, allowing McCoy to step forward. Dira stared back at him, her mechanical eye lighting up for a moment as she cast her gaze fully over him. McCoy quietly allowed her to scan him, having no other choice. "Harmless," she declared. Turning her gaze back to Zann, she declared, "The guest quarters."

McCoy held up a hand. "Wait a moment. Could I make a request, Captain?"

She paused, and at last replied, "I suppose, if it isn't anything outlandish."

"I'd like to work in the infirmary, for as long as I'm here. Something in return for ferrying me," he offered. Dira leaned back, considering his offer. Her gaze flicked to the bridge crew in contemplation.

A great grinding came, and the craft descended. Bubbles drifted by the main viewer as the craft descended further into a dark, industrial network. Spotlights beamed sideways, catching and illuminating the hulking T-shaped apparatuses of support struts. Local fauna, those being a school of large, razor-backed fish, swam off into the distance. McCoy felt very small, staring out at it.

"Very well, but only for the time being. If I catch you harming any of our patients, you'll be spending this journey in the brig. Dismissed." Dira swung her head away, and Zann motioned for McCoy to follow him.

The halls slowly widened after they descended a set of stairs, ending in a porthole leading to a white lit room. A female Norsican in a lab coat, currently bent over a bed, glanced up. "Yes?" Her face looked surprisingly blank without a pair of goggles, displaying cat-like red irises. Age lined her face, and a scar carved out the right side of her mouth. Her bald head was wrapped in a blue bandana.

Zann ushered for McCoy step through the hatch. "A Federation doctor here to assist you, Lystra."

She shrugged. "If he loses the cloak, I'll take him."

McCoy grinned behind his mask, and promptly shucked it off before stepping through the porthole. "Dr. Leonard McCoy at your service, ma'am," he greeted.

"I'd give you the customary greeting, but I'm a little busy now," Lystra replied. Craning her neck past him, she asked Zann, "I assume he's a rental?"

"Correct, ma'am," he rumbled.

"And it's not time to take him back, right? Then why are you still here?" Lystra asked, her tone conveying annoyance.

"Say no more. McCoy, where your time is up, you're gone," Zann called over his shoulder as he walked off.

Lystra shrugged and gestured for McCoy to follow her into the room proper. "He's a good kid. Wish he'd get the mud out of his head half the time, though. Anyway, enough rambling." Sticking one hand in the pocket of her lab coat, she used the other to gesture about. "Most of our patients are having issues with their breathing apparatuses." McCoy nodded as he watched two other aides in lab coats carefully prying loose the apparatuses from sedated patients to clean under them. "Being able to take these off serves as a relief." Off-handedly, she adjusted her own. "However, I would prefer, actually, if you would focus upon arm and leg injuries." They paused before two beds, with each of the occupants having recently-bound limbs. "Accidents," she commented. McCoy nodded. "Good, now pay attention," Lystra leaned over the bodies, and began to pull instruments to carefully clean the wounds.

McCoy reached down and took off his medical bag to place on the table beside the beds. He glanced up, and found Lystra staring back at him, her red eyes gleaming. "You called me a rental," he stated, "meaning that you've spoken with non-members of your race before, am I correct?"

"Yes, you are," she replied, keeping her tone civil, "I don't doubt your qualifications, doctor, but this is my sick bay. You'll do as I tell you."

McCoy nodded, bowing to her authority. "But with one exception: only I can use the medical tools in my bag. If that leaves us at a stalemate, then I'm sorry."

"Fair," she agreed shortly, abruptly terminating the conversation to stride away.

McCoy swallowed back his frustration and moved toward his first patient on the bed. The male Norsican's goggles were also off, and he squinted up at him. His arms and legs were bound tightly with bandages. "Hello, human," he greeted drily.

"Hello to you, too," McCoy greeted in the same dry tone, pulling his tricorder from his bag, "What're you in for?"

He gave a pained smile. "Crush injury. I was welding a few parts in engineering when the machine toppled about a week ago."

"You're lucky to be alive," McCoy commented, his eyes flicking back up at him.

"Don't I know it," he mumbled. His eyes followed McCoy's hands as the doctor gently ran his hands over his leg to test the integrity of the splints.

"Does Lystra have you on physical therapy yet?" He inquired.

He sighed. "Nope, not yet. It drives me crazy, being in here. I can't even see outside. Must say being treated by a human is most entertaining thing that's happened, as of now. What's your name, by the way?"

"McCoy," he replied, reaching to the side to pull a pair of surgical scissors off the tray. The bandages needed cleaned and changed. He could attempt to administer a painkiller, but it wasn't needed at this point. Lystra, according to the medical scanner, already had begun re-growing the patient's bones at an accelerated rate, with similar technology to the Federation.

However, he thought to himself as he cut through the bandages, it was possible that Ziza's clan could have had contact with Klingon medical technology. For as interesting as he found the prospect, his patients came first.

Time moved quickly in the medical bay, though it seemed as if Lystra was more focused upon keeping him involved with cleanup work. He kept a careful eye on his medical scanner and was careful to put his findings on Ziza's clan away. Spock, hopefully, would be able to fill in some of the holes on his own time.

The door groaned, and the hatch opened. McCoy turned to see Zann re-entering the room, McCoy's cloak in his webbed hands. "Come, doctor." McCoy nodded, swallowing back his tiredness at being led around on this world as he departed the area.

XXXXXX

Kirk had the feeling that he should have already known what was to happen, when McCoy told him via communicator that he was not with Diplomat Phan, but instead treating patients at the city square. "That's well and good, Bones, but that's not what I ordered you to do."

"You can discipline me later, Jim. These people needed assistance," McCoy replied, his short tone indicating that he had not much time to speak.

Spock met Kirk's eyes on that. They were currently clad in new robes and were standing on a street corner on the opposite side of the city from their previous location. Norsicans were watching viewscreens displaying the riot and pointing at them with shocked expressions and exclamations.

"Doctor, that is inappropriate of you to say," Spock chided him, "That was a direct order, issued by your commanding officer. We have the authority to recall you."

"Go ahead, then, Mr. Spock. Order me back," his voice sounded gritted, as if he was holding something between his teeth while speaking, "But before you do so, Queen Ziza herself stated, more than once, that she didn't want me there, to point where she had me ferried away."

"I fail to see how a change in medical practitioners could sway the entire mood of a diplomatic meeting. Nevertheless, we can adhere to her sentiment, illogical though it is." Kirk thought he heard a note of resignation in that, and understood Spock's weariness, particularly given the violence of the day.

"Agreed. Bones, report in at 1700 hours for beam up," Kirk decided.

McCoy grumbled at the lack of time that gave him, but acquiesced, off-lining his commlink.

"I would recommend not making ourselves well-known at the moment, Captain," Spock commented.

Kirk nodded at that. Uhura had left the group and was standing across the street to take recordings of the chatter of the gatherings. Pitcairn shadowed her a short distance away.

Spock glanced over the diversified crowd and nodded as he found his quarry. A pair of Norsicans in heavy diving armor, one of whom was drinking from a hip flask, stood on the edge of the crowd. "I will return momentarily, captain," he stated, moving away from Kirk, and threading his way backward through the crowd. Tugging at a side pack he had thrown over his robe, he pulled out his tricorder, the voices of the two growing louder as he drew closer.

"Damn idiots," one of them muttered, "Got what they deserved."

"That's a little harsh, though," the other replied as the flask was passed to him. Stepping behind them, Spock quietly scanned over it. As the other bent his head backward to take a drink, he ran the tricorder up, and quickly stepped back into the shadow of a few crates.

Kirk watched his friend's movements and shook his head. Epsilon Canaris III, despite its being under the Federation's banner, was teetering move towards losing that status, now. He would be sure to put that in his report at the conclusion of the mission. As to how long it would take for the mission to end, it was up to the diplomatic table. He found he heavily disliked that control being wrested from him, and desired not to be on another escort mission in the future. Nevertheless, given the fire he saw in Phan, he was optimistic.

The viewscreen switched over quickly, startling the crowd. Kirk had his communicator out before the news ran the ticker line, his other hand clenched into a fist at his side. It relaxed when the ticker stated that an agreement had been reached between the queens.

Snapping the communicator shut, he spotted the three forms of his crewmates joining him in order to avoid the crowd. It was not yet over, but it felt as if a weight had been taken from his shoulders.

XXXXXX

While his objective was focused upon the diplomat, Spock noted that he would prefer to be away from this planet, the sooner the better. The capital building's doors were opened, allowing Yi and Meylu to step forward. Pausing between them were two cloaked figures, one of which nodded at the words and gestures before both queens as they turned their backs on them to walk away.

Uhura tiredly closed her eyes and gave a relaxed sigh. Pitcairn was at her side with a hand over his holstered phaser. Kirk smiled as he watched Phan, with Nurse Chapel at her side, walk past the reporters, her cloak billowing. Lowering her hood, she declared into an upheld microphone, "War has been averted on this day, however it is up to the judgment of the queens from hereon to keep this peace. That will be all."

The reporters continued to shout questions at the diplomat as she moved past them, and attempted to follow, calling out more questions. The military held them back. Pausing before the landing party, Phan stated, her hair becoming damp from the rain, "I believe that will be all, captain."

With a smile, Kirk flipped open his communicator. "Enterprise, six to beam up. Energize."

Near the city square, McCoy washed blue blood from his gloved hands. The hospital was makeshift, being a converted transport terminal with a tent thrown over it for the more critically wounded. Those who could be transported were taken to the closest hospital.

Nurse Valentine appeared beside him, her hair thrown up in a bun. Blood was crusted on her cheek and stuck under her fingernails. Her words were quick from excitement, and her hands were loaded with medical equipment. "Doctor, the debates are over. The queens have decided on peace!"

McCoy's smile was reflected for a moment in the tilted mirror before him. The next, he glanced over his shoulder, and asked pointedly, "Shouldn't you be somewhere, nurse?"

Valentine left quickly at his gruff tone, though there was a spring in her step. He sighed, however, as he attempted to scrub the clotted blood off his arms. "Should never have gotten this bad to begin with," he muttered under his breath.

XXXXXX

"Captain Kirk, on behalf of my planet, I wish extend my thanks to you and your crew for conveying Diplomat Phan to us safely," Yi stated, her hands folded from where she sat upon her throne. Ziza and Noreen had already descended beneath the waves, and Meylu had left for the forests.

Phan once again stood behind the rail, McCoy beside her. The bridge crew continued to man their posts.

"Gratitude is not needed. It was our mission," Kirk replied. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Spock's hands moving considerably more slowly over his controls. Kirk himself looked toward leaving this planet behind for quite a while.

"Regardless, your services have been rendered," Yi replied, "However I do," she folded her hands in her lap, "wish that your crew had not taken the liberty of placing their noses in our intimate affairs. It is not becoming of a friendly alliance."

Kirk nodded. "Then forgive us our behavior. Nevertheless, I would like to make a point before we leave."

"You may," she replied, though Kirk noted that she was tapping her fingers against her skirt.

"The Federation considers Epsilon Canaris III to be a client state. While we respect your culture, Your Highness, we also consider the rights of all sentients to be important. Genocide formed the ashes from which the Federation grew, and we do not condone it. Take this into account."

"We will take your words under consideration, captain," Yi replied cordially, "Farewell."

The screen went to black, and Kirk turned slightly in his chair. "Mr. Sulu, set course for Starbase Ten, warp four."

"Aye, sir," he replied, keying in the command.

Kirk turned at the rustle of Phan's skirt to see the diplomat disappearing into the lift. Turning back away, he focused his gaze upon the stars. Whatever future Epsilon Canaris III wanted, it was in the hands of the Norsicans. Nevertheless, he swallowed back a sense of bitterness at the possibilities, and could not shake the image of the riot.

XXXXXX

McCoy looked over the information Spock had sent him on the PADD and nodded his head. It wasn't a complete picture, but it was enough to start.

"Nurse, come look at this, please."

Chapel glanced up from where she was setting multiple samples in an incubator. Glancing over it, she commented,"I see. Most of the cells seem to be impacted by the complex industrial chemicals from the city area."

Placing the PADD down on the table, he decided, "We're headed for Starbase Ten now, and we'll have time. Best we start working on a treatment."

Chapel smiled warmly. "Agreed, doctor."

XXXXXX

"Good evening, doctor," Spock greeted upon the opening of the door to his quarters.

McCoy lifted the flask to show him. "Figured if I did something stupid, you'd want to know."

Spock raised an eyebrow and gestured for him to enter. "I suppose it is good that you have enough sense to come to me."

McCoy uncorked the flask and sniffed at it. "Pity you don't find the stuff as appetizing as I do. We could enjoy it together."

"I derive enjoyment without needing to drug myself," he replied.

McCoy smirked at him before taking a shot from the flask. "Ah, yes, that's why you have a love of chocolate."

Spock paused at that before gesturing McCoy to a chair. Leonard sat down upon it, setting the flask on the floor.

McCoy leaned his chair back against the wall. Spock sat quietly before him. He was free of the mask, at last. "Does something about me interest you, doctor?" Spock inquired quietly.

McCoy set the flask down. He hesitated, and gathered his thoughts before replying, "C'mere."

Spock's eyes flicked to the flask. McCoy's fingers slipped from it as he replied, "Leonard, I cannot."

"I'm not even close to drunk, Spock," he replied with a slight edge to his voice. In a gentler tone, he continued, "I'm just relaxing, is all."

Spock remained firm. "I do not wish to take advantage of you."

"You're not," he replied, "I want you."

"There is likely a chance that your desire is based upon a certain euphoria. A war has been averted, for the moment," Spock commented.

"Then I wanna celebrate," he pushed.

"Are we not, already?" He inquired, "We are spending our time together."

"It's not enough," McCoy answered, "Not tonight. C'mere."

Spock got up, and, much to his lover's surprise, covered his hands with his own. "If you are not ready for this, we will not continue. I do not wish for you to be hurt."

"I've waited long enough for this," McCoy argued.

"T'hy'la," Spock's grasp on his hands became tight.

McCoy held up their hands and rubbed the side of his cheek against them. "Please."

Spock lowered his gaze and took a breath. Glancing up, he commanded the room's door to lock. McCoy smirked, glad to have been given his way. He let go of Spock's hands, and grasped the back of his head to pull him in. McCoy ran his tongue over his partner's lips, and Spock, albeit with slight hesitation, parted them to allow him in. He groaned and grasped the back of McCoy's head, rising with the doctor.

Spock allowed McCoy to guide him, backward, to his bedroom."C'mon, love," McCoy murmured against his lips, "It's not fun if you can't enjoy it, as well."

"I am enjoying it. I do not need to exaggerate such," he replied.

McCoy raised an eyebrow. "What're you afraid of?"

"I do not fear," he responded.

"Could've fooled me," Leonard replied sarcastically, drawing his thumb over his cheek, "Spock, I need you to trust me."

"If I had not, I would not have allowed you this control," he replied, placing his hands upon the bed behind him, and looking down.

McCoy caressed the side of his face, coaxing him to look up. For a moment, irrational fear jolted through the human at his closeness to the man. The next, however, McCoy rubbed his cheek against Spock's, and shifted his weight to push him down on the bed. McCoy sat up, splaying his hands on either side of him. This wasn't his dark twin that stared back at him, he realized, but nevertheless he was concerned. Spock raised his hand to him. "Clasp your hand to mine. I will know, then, if it becomes too intense for you."

McCoy grasped it and kissed his wrist. "Here's to hoping my grip doesn't slip, then."

"I will not let go," he reassured.

McCoy leaned down and kissed under his jaw. "Love you," McCoy whispered as he moved his head up to look at him, "so much."

Spock made no verbal reply, but he instead grasped McCoy's hand tightly.
Rain Dance- Chapter 6
So this took longer to write than I thought. While I had fun designing the Harpoon, I also wanted to use this chapter to confront the elephant in the room I had made while constructing Norsica. Please note that this is only my second throw at wordbuilding in Star Trek fanfiction. As an aside, Nurse Valentine is my character. Captain Dira's name is a shout-out to the character Adira from Babylon 5.

The uncut version of this is on AO3. 
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"Bones, it wasn't your fault."

As if that was any comfort. The hum of the heart rate monitors provided more an irritation than a sense of normalcy as he hovered about Spock's biobed.

"Doctor, you will not change anything by standing here," Spock quietly admonished, tilting his head toward the sound of McCoy's feet as he shifted from side to side, "regardless, I am otherwise—"

"You aren't getting out of that bed until I tell you to!" McCoy hissed, placing a hand on Spock's arm as the Vulcan attempted to rise, "You may feel fine for now, but I don't want to take any chances."

"You are being overly protective," Spock commented, "It is not assisting this situation."

Chapel was going to kill him. "You're going to have to get used to me. I'm going to watch over you, whether you like it or not. You can do what you want otherwise. We'll go anywhere you want," McCoy reassured, gesturing through the air, and aborting the gesture upon realizing that Spock couldn't see it, "Hell, I'll even live on Vulcan for you."

"I appreciate your sentiment, doctor, but I would rather decline it," Spock replied quietly.

"Excuse me?" McCoy's hand dropped to smack off his side. "That was a direct order from the captain to take care of you. You can't exactly refuse that."

"That is the point," Spock adjusted himself on the biobed, "You would be caring for me only out of duty. It would, ultimately, divide us."

Silence passed between them, with McCoy trying to hold in his irritation. Quietly, he asked, "You don't think I'd want to watch over you?"

"Ultimately, it would be overridden by that human emotion, guilt," Spock replied.

McCoy's hand moved over the bed to cover his. Sarcastically, he replied, "Boy, I'm sure happy that you have human behavior all figured out."

"You have not contradicted me," Spock replied.

"Don't jump to conclusions so quickly. I'm trying to—" McCoy broke off, his eyes widening at a flicker of movement on Spock's face. His hand slid off Spock's, and he braced both on the edge of the biobed to lean forward.

"Doctor, what were you saying?" Spock asked.

McCoy's eyes narrowed. There it was, that flicker of movement again. "Spock," his voice was lower than it typically was, "Are you looking at me?"

"Yes, or rather," Spock's gaze wavered as if he was attempting to lock onto him, "I am trying to do so."

"How?" He continued, his voice nearing monotone.

"It is a redundant eyelid Vulcans have. I had forgotten its use, due to a lack of need. It allows for the prevention of blindness within the desert biome," he replied matter-of-factly. Though he couldn't quite register McCoy's expression yet, he lifted a hand, "I have only recently regained awareness of it. Frankly, I find it odd, how my concentration was diverted."

McCoy felt his skin slowly flushing a shade of red. "Oh, I'm sure that's exactly what happened."

Spock blinked, adjusting his vision. "This is preferable, however, as you will not have to care for me. Now," he moved to the side, and swung his legs over the biobed, "I must return to the bridge."

McCoy's hand clamped down on his shoulder, and before the Vulcan could comment, he growled, "Don't you ever do that again."

"To order me off the frontlines is foolish."

McCoy's hand tightened, and Spock batted him off. "Don't try to sidestep the point. I heavily doubt that you just forgot about your second eyelid. You worried me. I thought I had blinded you for good."

"It did not happen. We may move on from it now."

"Look," he folded his arms, "Let's get two things straight. One: that was not goddamn funny, and two: I don't much appreciate what you said about me towards you. I understand well enough that you have a low opinion of how I act, but to think that of me is insulting."

Spock braced both of his hands on the bed, in anticipation to stand. "I did not say that you would be unwilling to look after me. However, I did say that you would grow tired of it. That is not the same thing," standing, he surmised, "Perhaps you should also consider my own concerns for your future."

McCoy took a step back from him. "Funny, you seem not to show it without getting one over on me."

"Doctor, I may say the same about you," Spock replied, his tone indicating that it was in passing.

Miffed, McCoy muttered, "Well, I'm glad we settled that. Now, get out of my sickbay. I need that bed for a patient."

Spock nodded, and walked away. McCoy glared after him and waited for the exterior door to close. In frustration, he drove his fist into the surface of the biobed. Leaning over it, he breathed heavily before straightening up to follow him out. He'd fill out the medical log later.

Spock held the turbolift for him, and McCoy stepped on board without saying anything. He leaned against the side wall. At least Jim would be happy.

"Have I disappointed you, Leonard?" Spock inquired.

After a moment's silence, McCoy glanced over at him, and replied, "Disappointed me, no. I've come to expect this out of you."

Spock said no more, and Leonard watched the lift's numbers count to the bridge's level.

XXXXXX

Outside of purely operational need, that had been the last conversation Spock had had with McCoy, the human retreating to blow off steam, as it were. Spock had at first welcomed that, as it afforded more time for intellectual pursuits. However, he later found the lack of interaction with him disappointing. He lacked the routine he had once had with Leonard, such as sitting with him for meals, as well as intimacy, such as seeing the doctor grooming himself from a disheveled appearance in the early morning to what was typical of him. The last kiss they had had was Vulcan, and that had been days before the mission to Deneva.

McCoy had learned his lesson, though he was, as humans put it in less refined terms, licking his wounds over it. Spock afforded him the space, though it was not only that. He found that, occasionally, McCoy's remark to him about his lack of disappointment played itself over again, in his mind. He found the contempt in it unsavory, but that was par for several of his comments.

After thinking further on it, he found it was due to the dismissiveness of it. Spock was cognizant of the emotions he had contained tightly within himself and found that his attachment to Leonard had grown closer. That would also need to be addressed soon, if he wished to lay the matter to rest. It continued to disturb his meditations.

That was when the transfer request appeared on his desk, for a Dr. Jabilo M'Benga, signed by Dr. McCoy. Spock found that he read over it one more time than was necessary.

However, his opinion of it was ultimately different as he spoke to Kirk on it. "I understand the necessity for a doctor who has worked with Vulcans, but this seems to carry a hint of favoritism," he commented, glancing over the PADD as he spoke with his captain.

Kirk folded his hands on his desk and smiled. "Favoritism, Mr. Spock?"

"Dr. M'Benga is not as versed in other species than Vulcans. As I am Vulcan, it would seem that Dr. McCoy is only concerned for me, in this case. I find this unnecessary."

"You are also our commander, and frankly, after the incident, this would appear warranted," he replied. Kirk had been referring to the mission as "the incident," and Spock found his stoicism regarding the deaths of his brother and sister-in-law to be rather out of the norm. He was, however, also aware that Kirk tended to also, these days, be spending his time more often with McCoy, and understood why. "That aside, the crew has been majority human during this first year, but you have also seen the roster for this second year."

Spock nodded. "It is more varied, due to our positioning in space. Replacing human crew members with other humans is simply not feasible."

"Exactly. This is a step in that direction, from how I see it."

"Perhaps," he agreed, "however I do not like the implications of this."

"What implications?" Kirk asked, although Spock could see his face slowly falling. Humans were too easy to read.

"I would prefer not be considered an invalid on this ship."

Kirk shook his head. "No, I can assure you, you're the farthest thing from that."

Spock gave a passing thought to whether Kirk's opinion would change, when he would experience pon farr, but said nothing on it. "I will take you at your word for the moment, captain, but I would prefer for your actions, as well as those of the doctor, to be presented as proof in the future. I will also provide my signature for the transfer."

Kirk smiled as Spock set down his PADD next to his on the desk.

Reconciliation with Leonard was still needed, and Spock did not think that McCoy would provide it. It was not common for Leonard to offer an apology for a transgression, and Spock admittedly did look down upon that aspect of his lover. However, that was not to say that he was trying to correct that misbehavior, as evidenced by his immediate apology after the eradication by light had gone wrong. And that effort was what turned Spock toward him. He would present him with a choice.

Tugging open a drawer in his quarters, he brought out a square of black scrap cloth. On the rare occasion that he would need to, or prefer to, make manual adjustments to, or fix, his clothing, he kept it. A cutting tool was in the drawer of his desk, and he quietly carved thin strip of it loose. Spock ran the cloth over his hands contemplatively. He was taking a risk with this, but nevertheless it would allow him to make his decision.

His relationship with McCoy bore a difference to the bond he had with T'Pring, with the latter being continually cool. Her mind was often closed to him, and they barely wrote any communication to each other. Their first meeting had been awkward, as it often was between children, but he had sensed a greater distance in her body language. T'Pring had tended to step away from him, or stare, similarly to a timid animal. He'd gotten used to the staring at that point and had found that he had not liked the idea of spending the rest of his life with her.

It had crossed his mind before to call it off, but he decided against it for a few reasons. Most principally, it would not be looked upon well, as it was his duty to tradition, and to her, as well. They could also divorce later.

Pon farr was coming, sooner than he wanted to think on it, and he refused to force McCoy's hand on that. He could sense the doctor's understandable reservations about sharing a mind, and he did not trust himself with bringing this upon him yet. He heavily disliked the prospect of harming him and did not want to think on what he could do, when not fully himself, to him. Nevertheless, his bond with T'Pring would, in theory, override that, and with the closer it came, the more he distrusted his mind in sleep. Erotic thoughts of T'Pring would either vanish, or be replaced by, thoughts detailing McCoy. On a stranger occasion still, he'd encountered both at once, caressing, fondling, and kissing him. After that vision, he had preferred meditation to sleep for a week.

Someone else was there, as well, from T'Pring's end, and he had a suspicion about it. That was yet to come, however, the matter not being as pressing. As to the implications of what that were for McCoy and himself, he was not sure. Nevertheless, he was careful in keeping his affair with McCoy private, within reason, lest he shame his house. It didn't matter if his fiancé was also seeking another mate, but it did matter as to who would be caught first. He wasn't about to challenge another aristocrat and be branded as nothing more than primitive human spawn for the rest of his days.

There was a concern he had, occasionally, for if they did bear children, but he dismissed it. Likely, she would not wish to do so, and branded as less than by having a partially human child. Also, with his consistently being away, it would not be feasible. She could easily utilize contraception.

Spock was careful in approaching McCoy about the prospect, as precarious as things were.

Blue eyes raised to look at him. "Yeah?" Spock found Leonard's gaze held a different quality to it, from where he sat on the observation deck, dappled in shadow as space passed over them.

"May I sit here?" He asked, indicating the width of the bench that McCoy sat upon. The doctor had been alone in the room, its low lighting indicating that it was past the ship's "sunset," the night shift having already taken over.

"It's not taken," he replied, and Spock sat down beside him. McCoy turned his head at that, as there had been ample room, but said nothing on it.

"You do not typically venture here," Spock commented.

"Headache from earlier," he rubbed at his eyes, "The penicillin was mislabeled in sickbay. Had to dump it out, create a new batch from scratch, and yell at someone. How was your day?"

"The details of it would not interest you, but it was typical," he replied, "My apologies to you."

McCoy lowered his hands to his lap. "Thanks."

Spock stared out at the stars in silence, having seen this view multiple times before, preferring the quiet of the area, but not finding it the "same," as some humans had claimed. There were multiple complexities in it, depending upon position. Stars died, and planets aged, the universe continuing to change. A hand brushed against his, and he felt rooted once more.

"You and I have a few items to discuss," Spock commented.

McCoy sighed. "Look, I'll admit what I said was not right."

"That is not the only thing." McCoy glanced up at him at that, and Spock saw his lover's throat move. "I would like to extend to you an invitation."

The corner of McCoy's mouth curled up at that. "Never talk you for the partying kind."

"It would be a convalescence between us, within two nights' time. If you wish, after you are off-duty, you may report to my quarters."

He nodded his head. "All right, I'll be there. I must say I'm interested."

"I have heard that relationships, in human culture, are bettered by a sense of newness between partners," Spock replied.

McCoy leaned back on his hands. "They are, and they aren't. Eventually, it all gets stale, after a while, as you grow older." He pointedly ignored Spock's raised eyebrow, as Spock had dutifully informed him, more than once, in the past that Leonard was not old by Vulcan standards. "What seems to work, more so, is stability, but," he shrugged, and lowered his head, "that bores some people, and the cycle begins over again."

"What is your preference?" Spock asked, choosing to skirt a subject that was troubling McCoy.

McCoy reached out, and touched his arm, wrapping his fingers around it. Spock felt satisfied with his answer.

XXXXXX

Spock's quarters were lower lit than usual, McCoy noted, and he could smell the remains of incense burning, indicating that Spock had meditated recently. There had been a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach about this, in relation to their spat.

He'd been utterly careless and found that he had disliked himself more than much else, given what he had nearly done. Thinking more about it, McCoy realized that he had mishandled his unhappiness about what had transpired, in that he had ultimately taken it out upon Spock. As to Spock's theorizing about how he would have come to think of the Vulcan in the future, in his blind state, he wasn't sure, but it had angered him. He had defended himself against it, but ultimately had found himself to blame.

That wasn't to say Spock hadn't wounded him with his words, and McCoy had been thoroughly annoyed by him, but in retrospect, he realized that he'd been poorly equipped for the situation. Perhaps Spock had not been aware of that second eyelid, since he had dwelled in the more settled areas of Vulcan, and upon starships. McCoy couldn't place the blame entirely on him, especially given how he was his physician. He needed further information on Vulcan anatomy, that was to be certain.

During the days in which he had not seen Spock, he had begun to consult the databanks about possible staff members to assist him in this. There was a Dr. Jabilo M'Benga, who had caught his attention, given his time serving on Vulcan. He had composed a transfer request, and run it by Kirk and Spock, who had both approved it shortly after receiving it. Starfleet's response, however, had been lukewarm. Due to M'Benga being needed elsewhere, the transfer would not go through for another year. McCoy, meanwhile, dug through any recorded information he could find on Vulcans, and hoped that his ill-equipment would not cause an issue until then.

Spock's uniform top was gone, leaving him in his black undershirt. His hands were folded behind his back, prompting McCoy to inquire, "So, what's the occasion?"

"This is an informal meeting," Spock answered.

"I suppose that makes me overdressed, then."

"You may remain as you are, if you wish," he reassured.

McCoy folded his arms, and asked, "What's the topic?"

"Our performances a few weeks ago were not exceptional. I wish to address that," he responded.

McCoy chuckled at his words. "And what would you regard as exceptional?"

Spock lifted his chin. "That should go without saying, Leonard. Nevertheless," he lifted a hand to indicate a PADD upon his desk, "I saw your request for the transfer of Dr. M'Benga."

"Of course, you would, commander. Is he suitable?" He asked, angling himself sideways, his voice taking on a slightly sarcastic tone.

"Yes. I find Dr. M'Benga's record commendable. However, my question is to why you have made the request."

McCoy dropped his arms, caught a little off-guard by the question. "That should be obvious to you. Because I didn't entirely know how your body worked, I nearly blinded you. I won't allow myself to run the risk of having that happen again."

Spock tilted his head to the side. "Do you intend for him to take over my care?"

McCoy shook his head. "No, and that's in the report, as well. What're you getting at?"

"You admit your fault, that you didn't know?"

"Yes," he muttered, taking his glance from him.

"That is a satisfactory answer."

McCoy looked back at him, and he felt as if a heaviness had descended upon him. "You didn't expect me to." Anger coiled in his gut at that.

Spock nodded once, and, much to McCoy's own surprise, his own anger dissipated. "It seems our opinions of each other need work."

McCoy shrugged. "In some respects."

"Another question, then," Spock paced a few steps toward him, "Had the captain not ordered you to care for me, for the remainder of my existence, would you have done so?"

McCoy felt sweat trickling down the back of his neck at that, and his mouth was dry. He licked at the inside of it, all the while that dark gaze bored into him. Finding his voice, he replied, "You bet."

Something flickered through Spock's eyes, and McCoy wasn't quick enough to catch it. He figured that he had said the wrong thing, until the Vulcan withdrew his hands from behind his back to present a piece of cloth.

"What's this?" McCoy asked at the sight of the item.

"It is a common black cloth," at McCoy's annoyed expression, Spock added, "But to be more to the point, I intend for you to blind me with it."

He blinked slowly and tilted his head. "Come again?"

"You are capable of hearing me correctly."

"But why?" McCoy asked, questioning whether he was awake, or this was some sort of wet dream.

"You mentioned to me before that I had insulted you. I wish to rectify that."

McCoy's eyebrow was threatening to disappear into his hairline. "And this is how you want to do it? To be frank, I hadn't expected this out of you."

"I thought it would also be interesting to try." Spock held out the black cloth to him. "The rules of this engagement are simple. You may do whatever you want, as I also am allowed. However, this cloth must stay in place. Once removed, the engagement is concluded. You may not interact with me sexually until the cloth is secured. Do you wish to proceed?"

"Are you sure?" McCoy asked, refusing to look at the cloth, and keeping his gaze locked on Spock.

"Yes."

The doctor still hesitated, and Spock found it oddly endearing. At last, however, he relented, shucking off his uniform shirt to hang over the back of Spock's chair. McCoy slowly moved toward him, and Spock tipped his hand sideways to drop the cloth into his palm. "Computer, lock door."

McCoy didn't move as the lock clicked and continued to stare at him head on. Whether he was waiting for Spock to change his mind, or if it was something else, he wasn't quite sure. The ship quietly hummed around them. Spock however, didn't move, and continued to stare back resolutely at him.

Walking around him, McCoy brought his hands up, and placed the makeshift blindfold over his eyes. He smoothed it into place, his hands moving back slowly over Spock's skin and hair. He was careful not to tie it too tightly, and though he was tempted to kiss the back of Spock's neck, he would be breaking the rules of the game in doing so.

"There, that ought to do it," McCoy stepped back around him. He waved a hand before Spock's face experimentally, and when the Vulcan did not acknowledge the motion, he fully took in the sight before him. He found himself without a word to say, for a moment. Spock's features, to him, had appeared elegant, with him always being composed, and poised. He had that composure now, though the covering of his eyes rendered him somewhat helpless. No, not helpless, he corrected himself. Spock trusted him, otherwise he would not have agreed to this. Nevertheless, it still weighed on him. "If you want out, tell me right away," McCoy demanded.

"Certainly," he replied, "Have you any other stipulations?"

McCoy lowered his forehead to Spock's and sighed. "I don't want to harm you."

After a pause, Spock replied, "If this truly does bother you, Leonard, we may stop now."

"No," he gave a pained grin that he was relieved Spock couldn't see, "I'm just getting it out there."

"Ah, yes," Spock commented, "Your sensibilities need to be addressed."

McCoy snapped his head back. "Spock!"

Spock folded his hands behind his back and tilted his head to the side. His typically interested expression looked off with his eyes covered. McCoy felt his irritation slowly fall away at the rather outlandish scenario.

McCoy 's boots thumped on the floor. He ultimately decided to keep them on, as it would allow Spock to know where he was. He raised an index finger and traced slowly under Spock's jaw as he moved about him. Spock didn't react to it, and McCoy felt awkward. There wasn't a role he had to play, rather it was just him, as he was. Spock could move freely about, touching him back, and catching his hand if he so wished. He could also walk away from him. It bore little difference to before.

Unless that was the point.

Spock wasn't acquainted with role playing, to McCoy's knowledge, much less other games. That left a sincerity to this, and that unnerved him. He stopped, standing just before Spock, and half ready to call this all off. He glanced over at Spock's door, and sighed, feeling stuck.

"Leonard?"

He turned his head at Spock's voice. It was quiet and searching. It wasn't searching for a physical placement, however, as he hadn't moved, but intention.

"Yeah, I'm here," he muttered, raising his hand, and placing his palm against the base of Spock's neck.

Spock's hand slowly rose to rest on top of it, and McCoy smiled at the motion. "C'mere, love," he instructed quietly, winding his arm possessively about him, and drawing him in close. Spock let out a breath, and McCoy smiled at having caught him off-guard. He kissed his temple, and placed his lips to his ear, running his teeth along it.

Spock squirmed at the nip, and McCoy grinned, nibbling further on it. Lowering his fingers to his ribs, McCoy stroked them, gently, and the Vulcan slowly relaxed in his hands. "You feel soft, you know," McCoy said in his ear, "I might not wanna let go of you."

Spock took a few moments to gather his words. Swallowing, he replied, "If that is what you wish."

McCoy 's one hand moved up to the back of his shoulders, rocking him slightly. His other hand lay flat against Spock's ribs. He let go of his ear and leaned up against his head. He could feel that Spock was still walking a thin line between slipping fully into him, and strictly adhering to discipline. However, he was against bringing him over the edge. It was wrong to push him too far, psychologically and ethically. He tightened his grip upon his shoulders before letting go and drawing out. Spock did value him, more so than he had previously thought.

Spock raised his hand slowly, the fingers slightly curled. "Th'y'la."

Grasping them, the doctor kissed them, groaning as Spock's free hand latched onto him. As Spock's nails drew over his back, McCoy, wanting more, kissed down his wrist. Spock buried his head in his shoulder and groaned.

McCoy decided against pressing Spock against his desk, as it would only serve to physically trap Spock. However, he did carefully walk him to stand beside his chair. Leonard also stuck his foot out too far, and purposely bumped it to indicate its placement. Spock indicated his recognition with a slight tilt of the head.

Spock found McCoy's actions, thus far, rather interesting. He had not taken advantage of him but was also not overly delicate. If he had any suspicion that McCoy had thought him weak, or easy to manipulate, it was unfounded. What remained was the sentiment, and while he understood why McCoy valued it, there needed to be concrete fact. He found that strange about the doctor, as the medical field was founded on data.

But then again, McCoy injected sentiment into it, arguing for a patient's life, or quietly comforting a wounded individual. He wasn't the only one to do so, with Chapel being firm with her patients, but similarly caring, as well. It was a sentiment that didn't need to be there, but it was expressed in differing forms. Vulcan healers, for example, devoted their entire lives to helping diseased minds, despite the very real danger it would bring to them. Leonard's volatility was quite dangerous to himself, but nevertheless, it drew Spock to him, due to the cause. Healers were rather complicated.

McCoy slowly slid his fingers under the fabric of Spock's shirt. Spock groaned, and arched, the movement reminding Leonard of a cat. He tugged it slightly upward and pressed his fingers against Spock's skin. Spock's breath caught as he felt his lover's fingers brushing against the hair on his chest. Reaching out with one hand, he grasped McCoy behind the neck, and tugged him into himself.

McCoy's eyes widened at that. He tilted his head up. Spock's other hand was balancing his weight upon the nearby chair, his fingers kneading absent-mindedly at the uniform shirt McCoy had left draped over it.

McCoy's knees bent, and his hands slid slowly down. As he descended, he pressed kisses against Spock's chest, ending at his navel, which he licked. Spock's hand seized his hair at that, and McCoy tilted his head away to mutter, "Easy, Spock, you're hurting me."

He released his hand immediately. "I am sorry."

"No harm done," McCoy replied. Keeping his hand raised, he fastened it against Spock's hip. Turning his head, he pressed the side of his face against his lover's thigh. He relaxed, shutting his eyes, and allowed for Spock to gather himself again. A hand stroked along his back and shoulder. McCoy pressed his weight against Spock's leg, his other hand trailing at his side. Spock's hand squeezed his shoulder, and McCoy could feel the affection through it. He glanced up, and found that he did not wish to rise, merely to remain resting against Spock as he was. However, his knees were beginning to hurt.

McCoy slowly rose, Spock gripping onto his shoulder to steady him, and reached out to the waistband of Spock's pants. However, he stopped, dropping his hand and taking a step back. "No."

Spock raised an eyebrow. "What is your intention?"

"That should be plainly obvious."

"Why do you hesitate?"

"You can't see me. I won't do it if you can't," McCoy responded flatly.

Spock shook his head. "It will bring me no discomfort."

"Doesn't matter," McCoy disagreed, "It feels like I'm taking advantage."

"Strange," Spock commented.

McCoy's voice took on a defensive note. "Yeah, well, we all have our boundaries."

Spock shook his head. "That was not my point. You would not have resisted, otherwise. I find that to be interesting."

"What?!" Leonard exclaimed in annoyance, and grumbled, "If you are testing a new pet theory on me, Spock—"

"No, I am not," he replied firmly, cutting him off. McCoy felt as if, behind that blindfold, Spock's eyes were boring into him. Spock held out his arms, and McCoy tentatively grasped them, squeezing them lightly. "Rather, you have done as I have come to expect of you."

Irritation built in McCoy at that, but he slowly relaxed at Spock's calmness. He trusted him and found it to be placed correctly. Lowering his hands, he took one of Spock's in his own. "I think this game's gone on long enough. Let's end it well," he commented. At Spock's nod, he began to lead him toward the bedroom.

"Come on," he whispered, stepping backwards, and checking over his shoulder. Led by their clasped hands, Spock moved slowly over the floor. "This way, careful." Grasping the frame of the doorway to the bedroom, McCoy swung himself slightly about to position himself before Spock. He doubted heavily that Spock didn't know where he was, as he was familiar with the room's layout. Still, however, he waited for McCoy to instruct him, either verbally, or by pulling him.

McCoy let go. Moving backward, he sat down upon Spock's bed, and taking off his boots and socks. Spock turned his head at the soft thumps. Lifting his hand, McCoy entwined his fingers with Spock's before tugging him forward. McCoy slid backward on the bed, spreading his legs, and allowing Spock to kneel before him. He could smell the incense on Spock's body, and inhaled its other-worldliness deeply.

McCoy reached forward and loosened the blindfold before dropping it away. Brown eyes blinked slowly to adjust to the light, and McCoy swallowed as they registered him sitting there. Spock reached out, and McCoy allowed him to touch him, his fingers sliding down over his face, as if he was attempting to memorize it. His hands landed on his shoulders, squeezing them, and holding him in place.

The Vulcan's lips found McCoy again as he kissed him, his arms wrapping about him. Spock's leg slid along the bed as he slowly flipped them on their sides, with McCoy bringing his wrists up. Spock's hands moved over them, and brought them about his neck, allowing the doctor to cling to him as he kissed down his face. Nuzzling up against his neck, Spock breathed into his lover's skin. He lay up against him and adjusted himself to allow McCoy to bend his arms. He wrapped one arm possessively about the doctor and raised up on his elbow. "Spock, I…" His voice trailed off as he felt his lover's thumb trace over his jaw and lips. Whatever he had been planning to say next died in his throat, and he ran his tongue over Spock's thumb. A muted groan rose in the Vulcan's throat, and he gently pushed his thumb further, in that soft wetness. Leonard was grateful for the thumb in his mouth, as he did not have to say anything. He chided himself against it. The last time he'd done so, he was betrayed.

Spock didn't push him on what he hid in that moment. Nevertheless, he sated his curiosity about him, feeling about the inside of his mouth with one hand, while the other, behind McCoy, traced his vertebrae through his undershirt. The doctor groaned at the former and slid over the bed at the latter.

McCoy's hand found his wrist and squeezed. Spock took his signal to let go, and withdrew his hand, moving his fingers together to dry his lover's saliva from them.

McCoy let go to place his hand to Spock's cheek. It was all right. Spock could see, and they were merely playing. No one was hurt. When had this come up, though, Spock wanting to play with him?

Their first night together, Spock had been akin to a coiled spring in his stiffness, wishing to, move than anything, get it right. McCoy had been coaxing, and gentle, though it had worried him, more than much else, whether he would hurt the man. And today, he very nearly had, but this, he couldn't understand fully.

He was stumbling, about to fall, and Spock remained there. Couldn't he see the strain? Couldn't he feel it? It was burning within him, to the point of where it felt as if he was being consumed alive by it.

Spock could sense it now, through their touch, that which McCoy refused to tell him, as it would allow him to let his guard down.

"Leonard."

And McCoy realized, in the moments that passed in silence, that he should have noticed it sooner. Spock's voice had been soft, quiet, and, for once, it faltered. Just over the first note of his name, which was more common, these days, with Spock occasionally short-handing his name as "Len."

This was real, this was safe. It was never even, but he'd come to expect that from him. And that was the most difficult to go back to, a feeling of normalcy. He'd turned it down, before, when Nancy had offered it to him, and had regretted it.

Spock looked as if he was collecting himself to say something else. Damn Vulcans, they never did say what they truly needed to. McCoy had come to know of, over recent times, the emotions that Spock kept chained within himself.

His eyes searched Spock's, and he hesitated. He considered heavily the amount of damage he could do to him by unlocking them, with just a few words. But Spock…He was laying it bare before him. He could feel it burning, as well, just beneath the surface. Ever since that day on Earth Two, when he'd collapsed from the injection of the prototype cure, Spock had been aware of his growing affection for McCoy. And before that, McCoy wasn't sure either man knew where it had begun.

He saw himself as Spock saw him that day, in a glimpse between their touching skin, devoid of life, passed out on the floor, with Spock folding his hands over his chest. Vulcan hands were so sensitive, yet he had gripped onto McCoy longer than he should have. And it made the kiss he gave him, after returning from the mission, make more sense. How human of him, to indulge his fear of McCoy's life being fleeting.

"I—," his eyes searched over Spock's face, "I love you, too."

Spock grasped him, and tugged him into himself, holding the doctor tightly against him. Leonard shut his eyes and buried his face in the Vulcan's shoulder. "Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere," he muttered, his voice muffled as Spock's arms tightened about him. Spock didn't loosen his grip, and McCoy found less that he cared. For all that Spock claimed to be rational, it seemed that he, too, was trying to process reality.

The kiss was lazy, and rather sloppy, with McCoy's tongue sliding over his lips. Tugging his lover closer, he deepened the kiss. Spock leaned into his touch, his eyes closed, and a muffled groan escaping through the kiss. "Th'y'la..."

McCoy paused to comment, "My, my, you're lovely, and I have you all to myself. Lucky me."

McCoy was utterly entranced by him, he could feel it, the drool sliding past his jaw. There was care, but so much more, longing most principal, and protectiveness. He found, just for a moment, that he coveted it, and McCoy willingly gave it to him.

McCoy drew out, his hand stroking along Spock's cheek. "You are nervous," Spock commented.

He shrugged. "Got every right to be. You're uneasy, too."

Spock said nothing on that matter, but instead commented, "You seem willing to allow this to continue."

"What else am I going to do with my time?" He joked. The humor fell as he added, "But you don't have to rush this, Spock. We can keep things as they are, for now."

"I did not intend to do so, Leonard," he replied, "Otherwise, it would be an emotional overindulgence."

McCoy wondered why Spock revealed his hand to him, this soon. Not that he was complaining about what had happened between them, tonight, but he hadn't expected the Vulcan to admit it to him. Spock twisted about to lay upon him, and McCoy scratched his scalp absent-mindedly. Placing a kiss to it, he muttered, "We'll talk in the morning." Spock said nothing, snuggling into McCoy's warmth, and drifting off.
Shadow Play

Author's Notes: This fanfic was to serve as a bit of course correction, as I noticed that I occasionally tend to side with McCoy on things too often. Originally, McCoy was going to be blindfolded in this, but I thought that route would be too obvious. McCoy has been involved with a Trill before, as was made canon the DS9 episode, "Trials and Tribble-ations." I read Spock as having been a virgin before being involved with McCoy. Inspired by "Devotion" by Hurts.

This was originally posted in AO3 uncut last summer, however due to the sheer amount of content rewrites I've had to do, this has taken a while to post the cut version.

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nightchildmoonchild
Ariana
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
Current Residence: Atlantis
Favourite genre of music: Symphonic Metal, Industrial Metal, Gothic Metal
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I've meant to update this journal earlier this year, but haven't had much to say. 

This year proved more difficult than I thought. The new job I was excited to have turned out to be rather poisonous due to a managerial issue. The reason I hadn't written much in terms of fanfiction this year is due to stress from my job negatively affecting and draining me. There were actually weeks at a time where I had trouble eating, and months at a time where I had trouble sleeping. I won't launch too far into details, but, quite frankly, I was treated poorly, and I even told the district manager such during my exit interview in September after nine months of being employed at the company. I had intended to stay longer, but I had a better job offer elsewhere, and climbed my escape ladder.

It ended up being beneficial. The position I currently have has proved much healthier for me. I'm eating and sleeping correctly again, and am writing more. I must apologize, however, for my writing being a bit off the rails, as I've careened into differing fandoms from what I've intended to write this year. I will explain.

I had someone I cared deeply for walk out of my life this year. As such, mentally I've been thrown off. I'm using my written work to channel my anguish, however. Therefore, the story ideas will be drawn whenever I think of them. I also have drafts to continue my chapter fics on file on my computer, as well. I have one rule when I write a chapter fanfic: even if it takes me years to continue, I will finish it. The reason long breaks tend to occur is that I don't feel my writing is strong enough yet to continue, and I write other work to strengthen my skill (hence why I haven't posted another chapter of White Feather and Red Poppy in four years, as I had no idea what I was getting myself into). Then again, for those of you that have watched me for a while, this tends to be the norm, as I write what I want. 

On the positive side, I've been published. I've written a few articles for my city's newspaper that were published this year. I have also finished the first edited version of my book. I'll do a second edit, then have someone else look at it. Hopefully then I'll be able to work on getting it published. I've also been submitting to literary journals, as well.

I suppose, then, that the resolution for next year is the same as this year: write more.
  • Listening to: Hero by Lissie
  • Reading: HHhH by Laurent Binet
  • Watching: RahXephon
  • Playing: Final Fantasy VI
  • Eating: Nothing
  • Drinking: Nothing

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:iconretrospriteresources:
RetroSpriteResources Featured By Owner May 1, 2018
How old are you?
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:iconnightchildmoonchild:
nightchildmoonchild Featured By Owner May 1, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Why are you asking?
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:iconretrospriteresources:
RetroSpriteResources Featured By Owner May 1, 2018
I wanted to ask you for a vore roleplay, but I'll only ask if you're 18+.
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:iconnightchildmoonchild:
nightchildmoonchild Featured By Owner May 1, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
I appreciate the invitation, and the respect for legal age, but I must decline. I apologize, but I am not into vore.
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(1 Reply)
:iconecwecwecw1:
ecwecwecw1 Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2017
Merry Christmas :party: . I hope you are having a wonderful time.
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:iconnightchildmoonchild:
nightchildmoonchild Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Merry Christmas!:hug: The same to you!
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:iconecwecwecw1:
ecwecwecw1 Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2017
I hope you have a good New Year.
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:iconnightchildmoonchild:
nightchildmoonchild Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
You too!
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:icon14081986:
14081986 Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2017
Hello.
Do you take fanfic requests?
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:iconnightchildmoonchild:
nightchildmoonchild Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Hello there. 

I apologize, but at the moment, I do not. I have a few upcoming works that are in production at the moment, so I have not the time.
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