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Some kind of sign

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It was easy to notice things when you lived aboard a starship. Being in a confined space with 400-odd people meant that you could tell when someone was tired or scared or sick. This was particularly true if you were a doctor, and trained to be observant.

McCoy couldn’t place it and he was pretty sure no one else had noticed a difference, but Spock just wasn’t himself. It wasn’t that he was irritable, but he seemed to be just a fraction closer to snapping. There was a weariness in the way he moved, and McCoy picked up a tinge more restraint in his voice.

The first two days he wondered whether the time they’d spent together on Altamid had maybe just made him more observant. Maybe because he almost lost Spock, and because those two days had imprinted a fear on him that no amount of seeing Spock alive and well would dissuade.

He knew that something happened down there, something more than two people stranded and trying to survive. They changed. McCoy was softer now when no one else was around, and Spock was slightly less infuriating. He tried to make Spock smile every now and again and Spock indulged him sometimes, when no one else was around. He even made Spock laugh once, genuinely, while he wasn’t bleeding out. Spock blushed and looked away and McCoy swallowed his drink really fast. Everything changed down there.

On the third day personal and professional concern got the better of him, and he found ways to be around Spock the entire day. Most of it was spent questioning whether or not he was just trying to spend more time around Spock. Maybe he was imagining that something was wrong.

He was about to give up on the idea when they were walking out the turbolift after their shifts, and Spock let him go first with a lingering touch to his arm. That was new.

On the fourth day Spock walked into his office and closed the door behind him, and told McCoy that something was wrong.

---

“Spock I don’t know what’s wrong with you,” McCoy said, putting his scanner down on the biobed next to Spock. “I mean your readings are slightly off, but I can’t find what’s causing it.”

“I see.”

“How do you feel?”

“Restless, and I find myself struggling to concentrate.”

“Do you want me to take you off duty?”

“No. I believe I can still perform my duties with close to my usual efficiency.”

“Spock if that changes you’ve gotta tell me.”

“I will.”

McCoy flinched only slightly when he felt Spock’s hand on his forearm.

“You uh…” Concentrate, “you sleeping okay?” His voice was unsteady, but if Spock noticed he didn’t say. He also didn’t take his hand away.

“Not for the last three nights.”

“Want me to give you something for that?” It took all his willpower to pretend the feeling of Spock’s hot skin through his uniform wasn’t distracting. This was very new.

“I do not believe it is necessary yet.”

“Okay, but come back tomorrow Spock. I’d like to keep checking on you until we figure this out.”

“Thank you Doctor.” There was the lightest squeeze on his arm before Spock let go and stood up.

McCoy watched him walk out the door before going back to his desk. He couldn’t remember what he had planned but it would have to wait, because right now he was going to sit up all night researching anything he might have missed about Vulcan biology. And definitely not trying to remember whether he’d ever seen Spock voluntarily touching anyone.

---

He didn’t find anything, of course. Damn Vulcans. He didn’t have too long to dwell on it though, because the next morning Spock walked into his office and asked him to perform a neural scan.

“How did you know your readings would be off? These are all over the place.” McCoy walked over to where Spock was just getting up, placing his PADD down and dismissing how warm the bed felt where Spock had been lying. “Do you know what this is?”

“I believe I do.” Spock remained seated on the bed, legs hanging off the side.

“Think you can tell me?”

“I am unsure how to speak of this.” Spock did the Vulcan equivalent of a deep sigh. “It is a difficult matter for me to discuss, as it is something Vulcans rarely even discuss amongst themselves.”

“Spock I’ve seen a lot of weird stuff, you’re not gonna surprise me.”

“There is a condition that affects Vulcans every seven years. It disrupts our brain chemistry and we lose control over our emotions, which is what you see on the scan.”

“Okay so what is it? How do we fix it?”

“There are certain biological requirements—” Spock looked away and his hands tightened on the edge of the bed. “—that must be fulfilled.”

“What kind of requirements Spock?” McCoy wanted to sound calm and reassuring but his voice sounded low and unsteady, because he knew there weren’t too many things that would make Spock this uncomfortable.

“The underlying need, Doctor, is to mate.” Spock looked mortified and McCoy tried to keep up a stoic expression. “At this point one would usually return to Vulcan to join with their betrothed, which would end the unpleasant side effects of the affliction. I hoped my human heritage would spare me from experiencing this, but it seems I was not so fortunate. In addition it happened earlier than expected. I should not have been affected until after the end of our five-year mission, when I would have been better equipped to handle it.”

McCoy steadied himself on the bed. He was a professional and this was far from the strangest thing he’d encountered, but this was Spock. Who apparently needed to have sex.

“How—” Breathe, “How do you know when it’s supposed to happen?”

“Ambassador Spock shared this information with me. He felt I should know, in light of Vulcan’s demise and the death of my betrothed.”

“Your—?” McCoy had too many questions, and maybe one day he would ask Spock all of them, but right now there were priorities. “Can you— I mean, what if we took you to New Vulcan?”

“Ignoring the fact that we are a month away at maximum warp and currently engaged in a mission, it would not help. I would not be able to simply find someone to… engage in intercourse with me. Vulcans do not trivialise sexual congress.” Spock’s shoulders slumped and he took a deep breath. “I do not have the option of resolving this in the conventional manner.”

McCoy tried to not think about what it meant or why he did it, but he inched his hands towards Spock’s until they were almost touching.

“So what can you do?” This time he didn’t flinch at all when Spock’s hand closed over his.

“I plan to engage in intense meditation which should stop the condition from progressing.”

“Progressing to what?”

“I do not think it will go that far.”

“Spock…”

“I would appreciate if you could keep this matter confidential.”

“Of course, I’m your doctor and this is private.”

“I believe that Jim has noticed a change in my behaviour. So far I have avoided questioning but I am unsure how much longer I can keep that up.”

“Don’t worry about Jim, I’ll handle him.”

“Thank you Leonard.”

McCoy watched Spock leave and wondered how many drinks would dull the memory of the way ‘sexual’ sounded on his lips.

---

Drawing on his professionalism, McCoy managed to spend the rest of the day thinking about Spock’s issue in a scientific light. If only those damn Vulcans weren’t so withholding he could have been working on developing a way to help Spock. He understood though, sort of. People who prided themselves on logic and restraint, losing it all every few years until they satisfied the most primal of urges. Hell, he’d be embarrassed as a human.

He couldn’t help thinking about the touching though. That was three times in as many days, probably in as many years. It’s not like Spock had never touched him before, but it had never been like this. Not gratuitously, not for comfort. It made sense of course — if sex could fix Spock’s brain chemistry, then touching could at least go some way in alleviating the symptoms.

Not that he minded, he’d let Spock touch him for no good reason at all. Jesus, when did that happen?

He packed up for the night — cursing himself and Vulcans and their secrecy — before reluctantly making his way to Jim’s quarters. He usually looked forward to their weekly catch up, but it usually didn’t involve hiding important information from Jim about his first officer.

They were on their third drink, McCoy still figuring out exactly what he should say, when Jim broached the subject himself.

“Hey is um… is Spock okay? He hasn’t said anything, but he looks a bit off I guess. I know you guys have been spending more time together, just wondering if you know what’s wrong.”

“Yeah, he’s just… overworked himself. Hasn’t been meditating enough so he’s a bit distracted.” McCoy waved his hand dismissively and hoped Jim would fall for his nonchalance. “He’ll be fine.”

“Overworked himself? Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I might write him off for a few days though, he just needs some time to rest.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

Something unpleasant shot through McCoy at those words. Maybe it was the alcohol, he hoped it was, but the thought of Jim helping Spock filled him with something dark.

“No,” McCoy answered, gripping his glass a little tighter. “I’ve got it.”

He tried to pay attention to the conversation but his mind was flooded with images of how he could be the one helping Spock. Definitely the alcohol.

---

It was a very bad idea. He wasn’t quite drunk but he was far from sober and he wasn’t quite sure of his motives. But Spock’s door opened and it was too late to turn back, so he walked inside. Had he been sober, he might have given more thought to the fact that it was his first time in Spock’s quarters.

Spock was getting up from a corner of the room that looked like it was used for meditation. There was a small mat and a candle, which McCoy soon realised was the only source of light in the room. He swallowed, overcome with how intimate this was — a feeling that intensified when Spock approached him wearing an unbuttoned sleep shirt and pants that sat impractically low on his hips.

Fuck.

“Leonard?”

“Hey, I uh…” This was such a bad idea.

“Why are you here?”

“I—” He was too brave for his own good, and Spock was vulnerable and this was every kind of wrong. “—I just came to check on you.”

“I do not believe you are in an appropriate state to be practicing medicine.”

“I know, I’m not. I just wanted to make sure you were okay, not as your doctor.”

“My condition is manageable.”

“Okay… Okay, I’m glad. Jim was worried, and I told him I’d make sure you were okay.” McCoy reached out and put his hand on Spock’s forearm. His heart was still pounding from the words he wanted to say, and he knew Spock could probably feel it. He needed to stop touching Spock like this. Or touching him at all.

“Leonard, why did you come?” Something in Spock’s voice sounded menacing and McCoy felt the wrong kind of shiver run through his body. It should have frightened him, he should have been scared and not excited.

McCoy shook his head and trailed his fingers down Spock’s wrist and over the back of his hand. He was making everything worse. This wasn’t helping, it was confusing him. And confusing Spock.

“Does it feel good when I touch you?” Jesus fuck.

Spock didn’t answer and McCoy froze, half expecting a punch in the face or a hand to close around his throat. But instead Spock reached out and put his hands on McCoy’s waist. It was the lightest touch, and McCoy could see Spock’s hesitation. He stepped forward, put his hands on Spock’s shoulders and pressed his lips to Spock’s ear.

“You can touch me Spock.”

He felt lightheaded from the pounding in his chest so he rested his forehead on Spock’s shoulder and tried to breathe. Spock tightened his grip on McCoy’s sides and his breathing turn ragged. He slipped his hands down and then back up, under McCoy’s uniform, and fuck it felt good. Hot and firm and thrilling. Another minute of Spock kneading his flesh and he would be rock hard, and he hadn’t quite thought that far ahead.

Spock let go like he’d been burned and stepped back, not looking McCoy in the eye.

“You should go Leonard.”

“Yeah, I should.”

Dammit.

 

Chapter Text

McCoy stuck to medbay for most of the next day. His concern for Spock was overshadowed only by embarrassment. Not that anything had happened, not really. Not until afterwards in his quarters when he had his eyes shut tight, gasping for air, one hand around his cock and the other on his hip. Pretending it was still Spock bruising his skin.

He gave up trying to get any work done as the end of his shift neared. Spock was going to come for a check-up, at least McCoy hoped that he would, and he needed to think of what to say. He needed to apologise to Spock, because he was taking advantage. Or something.

Spock walked in to his office a few minutes after their shifts ended. He looked tired, far more than the day before, and McCoy felt a stab of guilt at the thought that he may be the reason.

“Spock, I’m sorry about last night.” McCoy said, standing up and walking around to the front of his desk.

“No Leonard, I am the one who should apologise.” Spock stopped a few steps in front of him. “I have taken advantage of your willingness to help me.”

“No Spock, you haven’t…”

“Leonard I—” Spock looked like he wanted to take a step closer, but he linked his hands behind his back instead. “—I feel better in your presence. I find… relief in our physical contact. However, I do not wish to make you uncomfortable.”

“You don’t Spock, I—” Careful now, “I want to help you any way I can.”

Before he could say any more, McCoy motioned to the biobed, and Spock walked over and sat down.

“This doesn’t look any better than yesterday,” McCoy said once he’d finished his scan.

“The results are unfortunate but expected.”

There was a measure of defeat in Spock’s voice that McCoy wasn’t used to hearing. He didn’t really know what to say, but he moved his hand over to cover Spock’s. If it made Spock feel better, then it was okay. And it did, because he relaxed at the contact, picking up McCoy’s hand and holding it in his lap. McCoy poked aimlessly at his PADD with his other hand, not letting himself think about what they were actually doing. And how good it felt. He tried to focus on anything but.

“I could not sleep last night, and my meditation has suffered as a result.”

“Again, I’m sorry if I caused that.”

“You did not. I have already told you that I find your presence comforting.” Spock started stroking his thumb across the back of McCoy’s hand, and it very quickly became the only thing he could feel.

Focus.

“Want me to give you a sedative?”

“I do not believe it will help me.” Spock looked down at their joined hands and his thumb stilled. “It is difficult for me to do this, to have so little control over my mind and my body. It is unthinkable for a Vulcan to involve someone else in such a personal matter.”

“Spock… If I can’t help you as your doctor then at least let me help you as a friend. We’ll figure this out somehow, I promise.”

This was the part where Spock was supposed to point out how he shouldn’t be making promises regarding things he has no control over, but instead he just squeezed McCoy’s hand.

---

Walking to Spock’s quarters that evening, McCoy wished he had a few drinks in his system. There was a good chance he would do something stupid again, but at least his hands wouldn’t be clammy and his stomach wouldn’t be flipping. His hand tightened around the medkit that he was carrying as an excuse. Not that he needed one, there was nothing wrong with being worried about Spock. Nothing wrong with going to his quarters at night to check up on him. Nothing wrong with touching him.

Stepping inside, McCoy was greeted by almost the same scene as the night before. Almost because Spock looked even less like himself.

Spock approached him with a scowl on his face, and this time McCoy was nervous. “What are you doing here Leonard?”

“I came to check on you,” McCoy replied calmly, holding up his medkit in defence. “Like I promised earlier.”

Spock’s expression relaxed into something more neutral, and he made his way over to sit on the edge of the bed.

“Can I?” McCoy motioned to his medkit again.

Spock nodded, and McCoy cautiously made his way over. He feigned an air of calm and hoped Spock was not in the right state of mind to sense fear or discomfort. McCoy had stood up to far worse, he’d looked death head-on without flinching — but somehow this was more dangerous. Because this was Spock, and Spock could do worse than hurt him physically.

He didn’t need fancy equipment to see that things had deteriorated. This brief exchange was more than enough. Spock seemed to get worse when left alone for long, and whatever flashed through McCoy at that thought left a strong aftertaste of guilt. Spock was sick, dammit.

He was halfway done with his scan when Spock spoke again.

“I apologise Leonard. I feel less and less in control of my reactions.”

McCoy put his scanner away and sat down next to Spock. Medicine as he knew it was useless here anyway.

“How are you feeling?” he asked, cautiously moving his hand over the bed towards Spock’s.

“Tired,” Spock replied. “Restless.”

And then, as if they’d done it a million times before instead of just once, he picked up McCoy’s hand and laced their fingers together. McCoy swallowed down his trepidation and squeezed Spock’s hand.

“Can I try something?” Spock looked at him with uncertainty and a trace of what McCoy hoped was trust. “It might help you sleep.”

Spock nodded and McCoy gently pulled his hand away.

“Lie down.”

Spock hesitated but obeyed, moving up the bed and lying on his side. McCoy crawled up after him, settling in behind him and wrapping an arm around his middle.

Spock tensed up immediately, and McCoy though he might have stopped breathing altogether. So he moved his hand to Spock’s arm, stroking up and down and whispering for Spock to relax until he finally did.

And then it was McCoy who needed to work on his breathing, because he’d somehow landed up in Spock’s bed, cuddling. And he needed desperately to not think about it. He went through medical procedures in his head until he could almost ignore the intoxicating heat of Spock’s body and how close the soft naked skin of his neck was.

---

McCoy wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but he figured Spock had been asleep for at least an hour. He carefully unwrapped his arm from around Spock and rolled over on the bed before getting up. He could leave now, go back to his quarters and get some sleep himself. He should. Spock would probably stay asleep for a while — a few more hours would be enough for him anyway.

McCoy turned towards the door and hesitated. He didn’t want to leave. He wanted to get back into bed and wrap himself around Spock and do all those things he never ever let himself think about.

That was exactly why he should leave.

“Leonard?” McCoy turned around to see Spock sitting up.

He wanted to laugh, because he was mad for thinking he was going to walk out and leave all this and go back to his cold and empty bed. “I’m here, just getting comfortable.”

He took off his shoes while Spock climbed under the covers and lay on his back, making no effort to hide his intention of watching McCoy undress. McCoy in turn made no effort to discourage him, peeling off each item of clothing slowly until he was down to his briefs and undershirt. Far too brave.

Thankfully Spock rolled onto his side when McCoy climbed in, and they resumed their earlier position. Spock didn’t tense up at all this time.

“Thank you for staying,” Spock whispered.

“I don’t want to go anywhere.” Ever. “Try get some sleep.”

McCoy closed his eyes and toyed with the buttons of Spock’s pyjama top until Spock took his hand and pressed it to his chest.

---

For most of the night McCoy slept lightly, in doctor mode, like he’d done so many times before by Jim’s bedside and less frequently by Spock’s. So he was aware of every time Spock shifted and pulled him closer, every time he buried his face in McCoy’s neck, and especially every time he pressed himself into McCoy and groaned in his sleep.

McCoy woke up only slightly confused after finally falling into a deep sleep in the early hours of the morning. Everything came back to him when he felt Spock curled into his side. It was still early, and he could go back to his quarters and get an hour’s sleep before getting ready for the day.

Or he could stay right where he was for a little while longer, savouring the heat and the feeling of Spock.

---

McCoy spent the better part of the morning wondering whether he was going to spend the night with Spock again. He didn’t know how to feel anymore — the fact that everything he was doing with Spock made him feel good didn’t change the fact that Spock needed it. The only option was to go along with it, do whatever Spock needed and not indulge. Do it to help Spock and nothing else.

He tried to busy himself with work, mostly successfully, until Spock walked into medbay a few hours into McCoy’s shift. They exchanged glances before McCoy handed over to his assistant and led Spock into his office.

Spock waited until the door closed behind him to speak.

“It seems my proximity to you last night, our—” Spock looked away and McCoy could swear his face had more colour, “—our touching, has made my affliction more severe.”

“Shit… Spock, dammit I’m sorry, I thought I was helping.” McCoy took a step back. “What does that mean?”

“I am beginning to experience a fever. If left untreated, it will gradually become more severe.”

Fuck. “How bad is severe?”

“It can result in death if appro—.”

“Jesus Christ Spock!” The words knocked the air out of McCoy’s lungs. He ran his fingers through his hair and took another step back, as if distancing himself would make a difference now. “You didn’t tell me you could die!”

“That is a worst case scenario and I do not believe it is likely.”

“That’s not exactly reassuring! Fuck! Spock, you should have told me how serious this was!”

“I still believe that I will be able to overcome this with meditation.”

“How sure? How sure are you that you’re not going to die?”

“Leonard, please, I trusted you with this in the hope that you would support the manner in which I am choosing to deal with it.”

McCoy sat down on the edge of his desk. He wasn’t reassured at all, but visibly doubting Spock was not going to do either of them any good. “Spock, can you deal with this?”

“Yes, I believe so. But I will require immediate medical leave as I can no longer perform my duties.”

“Yeah of course.” McCoy sighed and shook his head. “I’ll tell Jim.”

“I would appreciate that.”

“Dammit, there has to be something more we can do.”

“Doctor, I realise your profession compels you to treat this, but in this case there is nothing that you can do. Do not try to shoulder the responsibility for this.” Spock took a step back and his expression hardened. “If you will excuse me, I need to return to my quarters.”

He turned around and started walking towards the door, and McCoy took a deep breath.

“Spock wait.” McCoy took a few steps forward, stopping a measured distance away when Spock turned around.

Spock looked at him expectedly and McCoy was pretty sure his heart rate doubled.

“I can help you,” he said, so softly that he wondered if Spock heard it at all.

“How?”

“I can—” Jesus, “We can—”

“Leonard that is out of the question, you are my doctor.”

“Spock dammit I’m more than that! Let me help you, this is your life for god’s sake!”

“Would you offer the same to your other patients?”

“What? No, of course not!” Wrong answer.

Spock didn’t speak, looking at him with unease instead. McCoy wanted to reach out, persuade him with touch because words and logic were clearly not enough anymore. He wanted to drop to his knees and convince Spock with his mouth. Dammit.

“Spock I’m asking you to think about it, please. I want to help you. I would do anything to help you.”

“Leonard, this is humiliating enough without you offering to violate personal and professional conduct for my sake.”

“Dammit do you know how many rules I’ve broken for Jim? Some things are more important than rules Spock. Like your life!” McCoy took a deep breath. “You’ve trusted me with this, so trust me to help you. Please think about it.”

---

After Spock left, wordlessly, McCoy sent a message off to Jim. He made it convincing but intentionally vague, and hoped that Jim would trust his medical expertise and leave it at that.

Ten minutes later Jim burst into his office, and McCoy realised he would have been disappointed had Jim satisfied himself with the explanation that his friend and first officer was ‘overworked’.

“What’s wrong with Spock?” Jim was more than just curious now.

“Jim, you know I can’t—”

“Dammit Bones!” He leaned down, bracing his arms on the desk and glaring at McCoy.

“Jim.” McCoy tried to keep his voice calm despite the panic slowly creeping in at the thought that Spock was slowly dying, and he couldn’t say a word to anyone. “I’m his doctor, and it’s confidential.”

“I’m not just his captain and you’re not just his doctor Bones, I need to know what’s wrong with him!”

“Jim, you know I could lie to you and make up an illness to get you off my back. I don’t want to do that.”

“What are you saying?”

“There is something wrong, but I can’t tell you what it is. You have to accept that. It’s not just about breaking rules Jim, it’s about trust.”

“Is he in danger?”

“He could be.”

“Can you treat what’s wrong with him?”

Maybe. “Yes.”

Jim dropped his head and let out a long sigh. “Fine, I won’t ask. Just promise me you’re going to make him better. I can’t lose Spock.”

“I promise.”

“Where is he? Can I see him?”

“No.” Once again McCoy fought off images of Jim walking into Spock’s quarters, offering himself to Spock. Jim wouldn’t hesitate, Spock’s life was at stake after all. And who could say no to that? “He’s not himself, I don’t know how well he’ll react to anyone right now.”

“Okay.” Jim reached out and put a hand on his shoulder. “Sorry Bones. I’m just worried.”

McCoy covered Jim’s hand with his own, squeezing it in silent apology for his thoughts. “I’ll make sure he’s okay.”

---

McCoy was on his way to get some lunch when he received a message.

Spock: I wish to speak to you in person at your earliest convenience.

He turned around and hurried in the other direction. He wasn’t really hungry anyway.

Spock didn’t get up after opening the door. He was sitting in the corner he used for meditation, but McCoy could see the battle was lost. Spock’s shirt was off and his torso was covered in a sheen of sweat.

McCoy walked up behind him and kneeled down, pressing himself against Spock’s back and wrapping his arms around him like it was second nature. Spock leaned back into the contact, his fevered body seeking the coolness of McCoy’s.

“I am no longer confident in my ability to successfully overcome this,” Spock said after a few minutes. “While I do not fear death, I have no desire to die in this manner. I am afraid that you will not withdraw your offer, and that I will accept when I am no longer of sound mind. I do not know what to expect, but I do not wish to wait so long that I lose all control and hurt you. I will accept your help, Leonard.”

McCoy dropped his head onto Spock’s shoulder, sighing in relief. “I just need to—”

“I can wait a few more hours. It is best if you finish your shift, to ensure we do not arouse suspicion.”

“Okay.” As much as he wanted to disagree it was probably for the best. He needed some time to let it sink in. Or something.

McCoy tightened his arms around Spock, intending to stay for a few more minutes, but he felt a distinct shift as soon as he did. Spock’s breathing quickened and his hands found their way to McCoy’s thighs. McCoy moved one hand across Spock’s chest and Spock arched into it. Jesus. He really should go. Spock said he could wait a few more hours. And if Spock could, then so could he.

But the sound of Spock’s breathing was stirring up something McCoy couldn’t ignore. He slid his hand further down, feeling the way Spock’s muscles tightened underneath it, smoothing it over Spock’s hip and further down to the inside of his thigh. Spock’s breath was coming out in gasps now, and his fingers dug painfully into McCoy’s legs.

McCoy grounded himself with his other arm across Spock’s chest and his lips pressed to Spock’s neck, and dragged his hand up over Spock’s fully hard cock. Spock arched even further, dropping his head back onto McCoy’s shoulder with a loud groan. McCoy stroked a few times over the fabric before tugging down Spock’s pants just enough to free his cock and wrap a hand around it.

Spock groaned again, louder, and started thrusting up wantonly into McCoy’s hand.

“I got you Spock,” McCoy whispered, stroking faster and faster until Spock finally leaned back against him. He ignored his own ache, letting Spock overwhelm all of his senses.

Well, almost all. He still desperately needed to taste.

What if this was enough for Spock? What if this is all it took for everything to go away?

Spock barely had time to register what was happening before he was on his back on the floor with McCoy’s lips around his cock. McCoy was pretty sure Spock made some sort of noise, but it was drowned out by his own satisfied moan. He barely managed to slide his lips up and down a few times before Spock was crying out and coming in his mouth.

McCoy moved up to rest his head on Spock’s stomach while Spock shuddered and stroked his hair.

Once they’d both recovered their breath McCoy lifted himself up, kneeling between Spock’s legs and pulling his pants back up. Spock caught his hand and pressed their palms together, making a point of slowly intertwining their fingers while they looked at each other in silence. McCoy knew it was every kind of wrong but he hoped that this wasn’t the end. He wondered if Spock could tell. Wondered if maybe he didn’t have the strength to keep his shields up in this state.

McCoy really needed to get going, maybe with a stop in his quarters so he wouldn’t have to spend the rest of the day with a hard-on.

He slowly pulled his hand away and stood up. “I’ll see you later Spock.” He meant for it to be a question but instead it sounded unmistakably like a promise.

 

Chapter Text

McCoy was about to turn into his quarters when he saw Jim approaching. He felt a surge of panic, wondering whether his hair was still messed up from where Spock’s fingers were running through it minutes earlier.

“You didn’t answer your comm, I was getting worried.”

“Sorry.” He didn’t remember it going off, but between the pounding of his own heart and Spock’s moans and cries, he probably wouldn’t have heard it anyway. “What’s up?”

“Wanted to grab some lunch, but we can do it tomorrow.” Jim turned around and walked alongside him back to the turbolift. “Were you with Spock? How is he?”

“I think he might be on the mend.” It wasn’t exactly a lie. “He needs to rest though.”

Jim waited until the doors of the turbolift closed before speaking. “Is he okay? Is he in pain?”

“He’s got a fever, so nothing he can’t handle.”

“I know I promised not to ask, but is it like a Vulcan thing?”

“Something like that.”

“Explains all the secrecy.”

“Yeah,” McCoy smiled, relieved at the change in tone from their last conversation a few hours before. “You know how they are.”

And suddenly he was overcome by an intense need to tell Jim about everything. Because Jim was his best friend. Because they didn’t keep things from each other, and because he always imagined Jim would be the one he’d tell if he ever—

Stop.

“Thanks Bones.” Jim patted him on the shoulder before getting out the turbolift at his floor. “Keep me updated.”

After walking through half the ship and all of medbay, McCoy finally caught sight of his reflection as he was walking into his office. His hair was fine.

He slumped in his chair and lay his head on the desk, only half questioning the relief pleasantly numbing his body.

Spock was going to be okay.

---

There was a whirlwind in McCoy’s stomach by the time his shift ended. He mumbled some goodbyes and avoided eye contact as he walked out through medbay. He knew it was ridiculous but it felt like everyone would see it on his face. All the things he was so desperate to do.

Back in his quarters, he packed a bag before jumping in the shower. He worked himself open, just in case, wishing it was Spock’s fingers instead of his own. And then he made rules in his head to make sure he stopped thinking like that after this was over. Rules to keep himself from falling any deeper into whatever fascination he had with Spock.

Things needed to go back to the way they were before all of this. Back to when their arguments ended as arguments instead of discussions late into the night. Back to when their bickering left McCoy angry instead of imagining ways to shut Spock up with his mouth. Hell, he couldn’t remember the last time he got off picturing someone other than Spock.

He’d get it out of his system tonight. All of it. He knew enough about the human mind to understand why he wanted Spock. It made sense. It was logical, he laughed. Fuck.

Dressed in full uniform, lest anyone suspect his intentions were anything other than professional, he stepped out into the corridor and he didn’t know whether he wanted to run or crawl. The anticipation was making his head spin and he couldn’t wait to touch Spock, let Spock touch him, do whatever he wanted to him. But he wasn’t sure he was ready for it to be over.

He opened the door using his override after waiting outside for far too long. He heard the sound of the shower as he walked in, and combined with the unusually low temperature McCoy imagined that Spock must be worse than he was earlier.

He wasn’t sure what to do with himself while waiting for Spock. He thought of undressing, but maybe that was too presumptuous. Or inappropriate. Dammit, he was too old for this. Too old to be nervous and not know what to do or say. It was just sex, it was supposed to be easy.

He settled for taking off his shoes and uniform shirt and sitting back down on the bed, ignoring thoughts about how Spock was naked and wet a few meters away.

Spock walked out a few minutes later with a towel around his waist, looking unsurprised at the intrusion. For a second the look he gave McCoy was almost predatory, but it turned back into something unsure and nervous and uncomfortable. He stopped a few paces short of the bed and it looked like he was holding his breath.

McCoy held his hand out, and a second later Spock was standing between McCoy’s open legs. The towel came off soon after that, and then McCoy’s mouth was on Spock’s skin and Spock’s hands in his hair. He stood up when Spock tugged at his shirt, pulling it off and turning his head just in time to avoid Spock’s lips on his own.

No kissing. It was the only one of his stupid rules that he could remember.

If Spock minded, he didn’t let it show, nuzzling into McCoy’s neck instead. It felt like Spock’s skin was on fire. It should have hurt and burned but it was perfect. Fitting. McCoy only tried to hold on, take in the feeling and the heat, the scent of soap and the sound of Spock’s mouth and hands sliding all over his body. He was in a daze, everything was happening all at once and it wasn’t the way he imagined, the way it was supposed to be, but he wanted more all the same.

“What do you want Spock?” McCoy asked finally, when he was so hard it hurt. “We can do whatever you want…”

Spock shuddered and his hands slid down to McCoy’s ass, grabbing and pulling him almost off his feet. He wanted closer. McCoy pulled back again to unfasten his pants, hurriedly pushing them down together with his briefs. The hungry look on Spock’s face stayed longer this time, all the way until they were naked and pressed together. And then he just looked unsure again.

He’s done this before, right?

There was too much space between them somehow. It was in Spock’s eyes and the way his hands still weren’t sure and McCoy really really needed to close it. He needed to let Spock know he wanted to do do this. That is was okay for Spock to need this.

Just one kiss.

He pressed his mouth to Spock’s, chastely, pulling away as soon as Spock’s lips parted with a gasp. McCoy knew what lay just beyond and he wanted to taste it more than he wanted to live. But he also knew that he’d get lost in the scorching wet heat of it. So he kissed Spock’s jaw instead, his cheek, his neck. He pressed his hips into Spock’s and rocked against him until Spock’s hands regained their confidence and grabbed at him, pulling him closer.

“Want to be inside me?” McCoy panted out.

Spock whimpered and dug his nails into McCoy’s skin. Yes.

He led Spock onto the bed, slicking them both up before turning around and pulling Spock against his back. It’s better this way, he thought, dropping onto his hands and knees. Less intimate. He was pretty sure that was another rule. He wished it was different. He wished he didn’t have to think about how to make this impersonal, how to not let Spock under his skin.

There was little finesse when Spock pushed into him. It was slow and careful but Spock’s hands shook where they held McCoy’s hips. McCoy could still feel restraint in every one of Spock’s movements. He trembled with it. McCoy wanted to tell him to let go, do what he needed to get better, but he also knew that Spock could rip him apart.

So it shouldn’t have felt as good as it did. It was awkward and almost clinical, with McCoy staring at his hands, at the way the sheets folded around his fingers. Anything to not think about how it was Spock inside him. Spock. Fucking him. He couldn’t let himself think about that. Not when the was a chance he could turn around and claim Spock’s mouth and tell him he wanted this to be forever and that Spock was everything to him.

Jesus, what if Spock could hear him now? Maybe that’s why he was restrained, why he couldn’t let go. Because of the fucking mess inside McCoy’s head.

He picked up one hand and placed it over Spock’s one on his hip, squeezing it in reassurance or maybe apology. And then Spock’s movements became more confident, better, deeper — and McCoy dropped his head and closed his eyes and thought it might be the best he’s ever felt. He was getting close, and if Spock’s increasingly ragged breathing was anything to go by, so was he.

McCoy was on the edge when he felt Spock’s arms wrapping around him, dragging him upright and pulling him close. Spock held him so tight it almost hurt, and his thrusts became shallow and fast but it was so good. The angle was better and Spock’s arms around him felt so good and, god, he was so close now.

And then Spock’s hand was on his cheek, turning his head. And Spock’s mouth was on his, their lips and tongues sliding against each other and it was all too much. McCoy came, breaking away from Spock’s mouth to breathe in heavy gasps. He wanted to curse but he didn’t have enough air in his lungs.

McCoy couldn’t feel anything besides his own blinding pleasure, but he knew Spock was still inside him, moving and groaning and then coming too, crying out and tightening his arms.

They stayed like that for probably too long, Spock holding them both up and McCoy dreading the moment they would have to separate.

McCoy eventually got up and made his way to the bathroom, his legs unsteady for more reasons than he wanted to think about. Back in the bedroom he ripped the stained blanket off and threw it on the floor, regretting it when he realised how damn cold it was. He lay down on his back and wondered whether he should stay at all. Maybe Spock was good now. Cured.

But when Spock climbed in beside him he pulled McCoy close and tangled their legs together.

“Are you warm enough, Leonard?” Spock asked, the first words he’d spoken in a long time.

“Yeah,” McCoy replied, turning his face into Spock’s shoulder. “I’m good now.”

Spock still needed him close. Still needed to touch him to feel better. And McCoy was cold.

It wasn’t cuddling.

---

McCoy was aware of something pulling him out of the blissful depth of sleep and it felt so good, wet against his neck and hot against his ear.

“Leonard…”

Spock.

McCoy opened his eyes, resisting the urge to jolt as everything came back to him. Spock was pressed up behind him, kissing his neck and whispering his name. His skin was so hot now it was just short of painful.

“I am sorry Leonard.”

“No no no Spock,” McCoy pleaded, turning over and pressing his face into Spock’s neck. “Don’t be. Please don’t be.”

He mouthed reassurances into Spock’s skin until everything was heat and want, and he was wide awake and desperate for friction or fullness or anything Spock would give him.

He reached around behind him and grabbed lube only to have Spock wrap a hand around his wrist before he could open it. And then Spock rolled onto his front, spreading his legs slightly in invitation.

“Jesus…”

McCoy ran a nervous hand down Spock’s back and then further still, watching as Spock’s muscles tensed under his touch. He tried not to think about whether anyone had done this to Spock before, touched him like this. The way Spock’s fingers tightened on the sheets made him think that maybe they hadn’t. God if he was the first then he owed Spock so much more than this. So much more than impersonal and clinical.

He leaned down, kissed the back of Spock’s neck and whispered, “Turn over.”

One more kiss.

To put Spock at ease, make him feel wanted and worshipped and like this wasn’t just a chore or a favour. McCoy cupped his cheek and pressed their lips together, licking into Spock’s mouth while his hand trailed down Spock’s body, gently nudging his thighs apart and draping one leg over his own. And Spock opened up beautifully for McCoy’s careful fingers, his shyness waning until he was lifting off the bed and wordlessly begging for more and deeper.

God he was perfect.

McCoy wanted to make him come like this. With his fingers alone just because he could. Because he knew no one had ever done this to Spock before. But all the times he imagined how hot and welcoming Spock would feel around him…

He moved in between Spock’s legs, slipping his fingers out and slicking up his own cock. Just one more kiss. Because Spock shouldn’t look nervous.

Spock moaned at the press of lips and then gasped as McCoy pushed inside him. And McCoy wanted to be so gentle, pulling out just slightly before pushing in a little deeper, because no one had ever done this to Spock before and McCoy owed him everything.

He kissed Spock’s shoulder messily while wondering just how far he was straying from impersonal. Just how long it would take for his body to forget what Spock’s felt like under it.

He let Spock guide his pace, building it around the urgency of the hands digging into his back and his sides. It was frantic and hurried and desperate and Spock was getting loud. McCoy meant to ask if he was good, but instead he lifted himself up until he could see Spock’s face and then he couldn’t look away. Not when Spock’s lips were pursed like that and his eyes first half-lidded and then shutting tight as his gasps became louder. And louder still as his head fell back and he clenched around McCoy and came.

McCoy didn’t stop moving, couldn’t, because Spock was pulling him, urging him until he was coming too. Again too loud and too honest.

One last kiss. Because it might be the end and he’d never wanted anything so desperately in his life. He made is soft and chaste, just like the first one. No need to be greedy now at the end of things.

He got up reluctantly once Spock loosened his grip just enough, and dragged himself to the shower. He wished he could pull Spock in there with him, press his back to the cool tiles and kiss more.

Stop.

Spock was half asleep by the time he got back to the bed, and McCoy helped him up and into the bathroom. He pulled on a t-shirt and briefs and changed the sheets, and then sat on the bed and waited again, wondered again, whether he should stay and what he was doing with his life.

Spock stumbled back into the room, dripping wet, towel held loosely around his waist. He looked shattered and broken and it was a jarring reminder of the invisible strain his body was under. McCoy walked over and dried him off, Spock weakly clinging to his shoulders and barely keeping upright.

“Come on Spock,” McCoy whispered, steering him towards the bed. Spock’s skin felt cooler, if only slightly, so McCoy dressed him in pyjamas and turned the temperature up. He pulled the blanket over Spock and moved to get up when he felt a hand around his wrist. There was a plea in Spock’s eyes and McCoy hoped he read it right. Stay.

“Just getting some water. I’m not going anywhere.”

Spock let go and closed his eyes and was asleep by the time McCoy got into bed.

And McCoy kissed the corner of Spock’s mouth and fell asleep with his nose buried in Spock’s shoulder because he could no longer help himself.

---

McCoy woke up what felt like a few hours later. Spock was still on his back, his breathing even and his expression soft. McCoy thought of getting up and getting his scanner, but waking Spock was unthinkable. Being away from Spock for even a minute was unthinkable. He pushed himself up onto one elbow and brushed the hair off Spock’s face before pressing his lips to Spock’s forehead. It seemed like his fever was gone, but he let his lips linger, just to be sure.

Spock stirred, and when McCoy pulled back Spock was looking at him.

“Spock your fe—”

He didn’t finish because Spock pulled him down and kissed him, and McCoy let him. He opened his mouth for Spock’s tongue and moaned. Moaned again when the warm hand on the back of his neck slid down to caress his cheek, and again when Spock rolled them over and straddled him, never once letting their lips part.

They kissed lazily at first, still tired and spent and half-asleep. But McCoy’s stomach was in freefall, and his heart felt like it would burst from how close they were. They were clothed, with barely any skin touching, but this was so intimate and it was everything this whole night wasn’t supposed to be.

“What do you want Spock?” It didn’t matter because he would do anything, everything.

“Just this,” Spock murmured back.

And he meant it, he must have, but soon enough they were both hard again. For the longest time they didn’t move against each other, and McCoy was happy to live with the ache forever if it meant Spock would carry on kissing him. But Spock did move, barely a touch, but that first hint of friction sent a shockwave through McCoy. He held Spock tighter, because he would rather die than have this end, and Spock understood. He moved so slowly it hurt, barely-there undulations brushing their cocks together through layers of fabric, and it was still too much.

They forgot about their lips and tongues for a moment, distracted, and McCoy held Spock’s face in his hands and watched as he struggled to keep his eyes open. And then he let Spock kiss him again, so sweetly…

This wasn’t about helping anymore, this was about coming apart and breaking open under Spock’s mouth and letting his touch seep into all the cracks. Letting Spock ruin him. Nothing would ever feel like this again.

His head was spinning and he was drowning in Spock and holding on tight. Goddammit what was happening to him? Spock was supposed to be the one losing all control. Maybe he had though. Maybe that was what it looked like for Spock. Not hard and rough and fast — but open, fragile, vulnerable for once. And feeling.

“Leonard,” Spock whispered against his lips, and it was all McCoy needed to finally let go.

He arched his back, pushing his body further into Spock’s and crying out into his shoulder as he came. He slumped back into the bed and rode out the waves, rhythmically pulling Spock into himself like he could make them one.

Too soon Spock started moving again, not as slowly as before, grinding into McCoy’s hip until his moans turned into something more desperate and frustrated. McCoy worked a hand in between their bodies, into Spock’s pants and around his cock.

“Come on Spock, I’ve got you.” He stroked firmly, feeling as Spock relaxed slightly above him, letting McCoy take care of him. “Come for me Spock.”

And Spock did, moaning against McCoy’s lips and kissing him all the way through like he needed it to live. He pulled away only once his body had shuddered one last time, resting his head on the pillow and breathing into McCoy’s shoulder. McCoy stroked Spock’s back until the muscles in his arms burned. And then he held him until Spock’s weight became too much. He wanted to stay there forever, surrounded by Spock, evidence of what they’d done warm and wet between them.

“Spock, I should go.”

Spock lifted himself up and they looked at each other, and it seemed that Spock wanted to say something.

Please don’t say thank you.

He didn’t. He climbed off McCoy and lay back down, pulling the covers over himself.

“I think you’re going to be okay now,” McCoy said as he got up, “but you need more rest.” Spock only nodded in response.

McCoy dressed quickly, wincing as he fastened his pants over the mess in his briefs. He muttered a goodbye before walking out the door and hurrying back to his quarters.

He ripped off his clothes and stumbled into the shower. He looked down at his body and wished that Spock had been rougher, and god he knew that was messed up, but at least he’d have something to run his fingers over. Some evidence of what had happened. Jesus Christ he was messed up.

Maybe in another 7 years—

Stop.

---

He’d barely sat down at his desk when Jim walked into his office.

“Thanks for fixing him up Bones.”

“It’s my job.”

“Will you clear him?” Jim asked, sitting down across from McCoy. “For duty? He’s pretty keen to get back to work.”

“You saw him?”

“Yeah, he came to see me this morning.” It shouldn’t have felt like anything but it did. It hurt and McCoy couldn’t even tell where. Jim was Spock’s friend. Why shouldn’t Spock go see him? Why shouldn’t he want to get back on the bridge? He’d never taken so much as day off, so why should he now? So he could lie in bed and marvel at what a great time McCoy had shown him? Fuck.

“Yeah, he can go back if he checks out.”

“Great, he said he’d stop by.” McCoy was a doctor so he knew how hearts worked, but he was still pretty sure his stopped beating for a few seconds. “Lunch later?”

“Yeah uh… sure Jim.”

---

McCoy felt tempted to forgo his morning coffee in lieu of something stronger, but he’d already been barely functional at work the last few days. He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes and tried to focus on his breathing. He was halfway to calm when the door chime sounded, and all his efforts went to hell.

Seeing Spock walking in felt like a stab in the chest. His hair was perfect and his uniform was neat and his expression the same as it had been every other time he’d walked into McCoy’s office. It was like nothing had ever happened. Like they hadn’t fucked each other senseless a few hours ago. Like Spock hadn’t—

“Spock.” McCoy went into doctor mode. Like he would do if it was anyone else. It was normal self-preservation, he had to do it every single day and this was no different. “Jim says you’re ready to go back to the bridge.”

“Yes, I believe I am Doctor.” Doctor.

“Grab a seat, this won’t take long.” McCoy knew he was overcompensating, being overly ordinary about everything. Like this was a routine medical and nothing special had happened between them.

He wanted to ask how Spock felt but that seemed too intimate somehow. Somehow, after everything.

Spock sat on the biobed and McCoy stood in front of him, like he’d done so many times over the past few days. Except this time there wouldn’t be any touching or hand holding or subtle hints and promises of what could be. This time there was only Spock’s eyes boring into him.

Spock didn’t look away and McCoy felt a flush rising up his body. He stared even more resolutely at his scanner, feeling that if he looked up, caught Spock’s gaze for even a second, he might falter and unravel and collapse under the weight of how Spock had changed his entire existence.

Fuck.

He was hyper aware of every one of Spock’s movements. Every time he swallowed, every time he blinked and every time his thumb moved nervously over the edge of the bed. McCoy stood as far back as he could without being obvious, but the heat of Spock’s body was still twisting up all his insides. Spock wasn’t supposed to be able to fuck with this. He wasn’t supposed to be able to shake him up while he was doing his job. McCoy had done it under far worse circumstances than having a Vulcan stare at him.

Maybe he should look up. Maybe this was a childish fucking way to behave. They were adults, they could acknowledge the adult thing they did and move past it.

“You’re perfect,” McCoy said, a spilt second before the scan had even finished. Great fucking choice of words. “Good to go.”

He was aware of Spock nodding, but he didn’t look up, shifting his focus to the clearance document on his PADD instead.

“Thank you Leonard,” Spock said. Leonard. And the words felt heavy somehow, loaded, like they carried more than gratitude for a scan and a sign-off.

McCoy looked up at Spock, finally, because that’s what you did when someone thanked you. His heart may have been breaking but it was no reason to forget his manners.

“Yeah, sure Spock.” He even managed a smile. Anytime.

---

Work being the best distraction was probably true if you could actually work. If you weren’t emotionally compromised and completely unable to focus. McCoy sighed heavily and booked himself off for the rest of the day. Jim approved it in record time, no questions, no rushing into his office and demanding answers. Maybe Jim knew something, maybe everyone did. Maybe it was written on his face.

McCoy went back to his quarters, fell on the bed, and slept.

---

He woke up warm and comfortable, and he felt good for all of a second before the mess in his head returned, reminding him of the reason he’d spent the afternoon sleeping.  

It wasn’t right, leaving things like this. He wanted to be able to think about Spock and all the things they’d done without the bitter aftertaste. He wanted to wake up and pretend the warmth of the blanket was Spock’s body wrapped around his own. He wanted to lie awake at night and revel in the memory of the way Spock felt inside him, the softness of his lips and the way he kissed. He wanted to wrap himself in all the things they had done and he didn’t want it to hurt.

They needed to talk about it. To acknowledge what happened and move on and go back to the way they were before McCoy knew how Spock’s mouth felt on his skin. Maybe they could pretend that nothing ever happened. That Spock—

That Spock hadn’t ruined him.

---

McCoy shaved and put on nice clothes, unsure whether he wanted to look good for Spock or to show him that he was fine and just as unfazed. Like he hadn’t spent the day in bed with his heart breaking.

Spock’s quarters were warm, like McCoy imagined they usually were. His eyes were instantly drawn to the infuriatingly neat bed, the sheets smooth and pressed and obviously changed so they didn’t smell of McCoy and what they’d done. His throat felt tight and he looked away, back at Spock standing in front of him.

“How are you feeling?”

“I am recovered.”

“I uh… I think we need to talk about some things Spock. I...”

“Leonard, there is something I need to say. I owe you an apology.”

McCoy’s heart clenched. “No Spock—”

“Please, Leonard, it is important that I say this. Last night—” Spock looked away and there was an slight blush at his recollection of the previous night. McCoy found the sight of it oddly satisfying, comforting even. “The last time that we… I— I knew that I had recovered.”

McCoy’s mouth opened but he had no idea what to say.

“I did not need it, but I still wanted you.”

“Spock…”

“I apologise, Leonard, for taking advantage. I could not control myself even once my fever had passed.”

“Spock I wanted all of this. I wanted you.”

“Why did you not say anything?”

“I don’t know Spock. You know our history, it’s not exactly…” He was tempted to smile at how ridiculous this was. “Anyway, I thought you’d figure it out when I said I wouldn’t do this for anyone else.”

“I was not in a position to be making assumptions regarding your feelings. I thought… I believed you wanted to help me.”

“I did, but I was selfish too.”

“As was I. I was afraid that if I told you of my feelings it would ruin our friendship.”

“We’re idiots.” McCoy shook his head and breathed in deeply, because it finally felt like he could. “So what do we do now?”

“I believe the Terran custom is for us to have dinner together.”

McCoy smiled. “We can do that. Dinner is… good.”

Spock stepped closer until there was barely any space between them. He brushed his fingertips down McCoy’s arms and looked down again, his cheeks unmistakeably flushed.

“I would like to do all of those things again.”

“I’d like that too,” McCoy laughed, “maybe with more talking though.”

“Yes,” Spock smiled, finally looking up before leaning forward to press his lips to McCoy’s. “And more kissing.”

Definitely more kissing.