Lunch was a short, ten minute affair between patients. He ate cool things to ward away the summer heat. McCoy took his lunch standing near the waiting room, devouring little krei’la biscuits in quick, disinterested bites. He was surprised when Spock appeared halfway through bearing fruit. They shared the segments of a little yellow fruit and McCoy let Spock do all the talking before he returned, exhausted, to making the rounds with Seref. For such an old Vulcan Seref was surprisingly quick on his feet. He learned the physiology of eight new species that day.
He shared this with Spock, later, when Spock picked him up from work and walked him home. Spock listened with rapt attention and McCoy considered for a moment how good it felt to have someone who cared about what he did. McCoy was still tired, and so when the stood in front of his door he didn’t invite Spock in that night. Instead, they kissed and Spock said his goodbyes and then McCoy went straight to sleep.
Their days continued like this. Sometimes, Spock would come to have lunch with him. After the first day they coordinated better, and McCoy sent him a message over his comm. Then Spock would walk him home and give him a finger-kiss. McCoy would watch him go and then retire to his room to sleep the sleep of exhausted med students.
On fourth day, Spock took him to a basin just outside the city that had astonishing acoustics.
“I’m not sure this is going to work,” McCoy said as he tried, once more in vain, to tune his fiddle to Spock’s lyre. He plucked at a string and Spock winced.
“It does appear that these instruments were not made to be played together.” Spock rubbed at his ear, no doubt to dislodge the ringing sour note.
“Well, that much is obvious. Here, play that note again.” Spock played and McCoy listened closely and fiddled with the peg. This time the harmony only sounded awful as opposed to horrendous. “That might be as good as we’re going to get.”
“Only three strings remain,” Spock said grimly.
McCoy laughed at his defeated look. He leaned over and planted a kiss on Spock’s cheek before settling back against the side of the shuttlecar. “Maybe we should just play separately?”
Spock sighed and ran his hands over this lyre, playing a scale. It sounded oddly alien, yet familiar as well. McCoy had heard him play precisely that scale dozens of times. He just hadn’t realized there were four extra notes in a Vulcan scale before. “Perhaps if you begin I will be able to decipher the notes and follow.”
“Couldn’t hurt.” McCoy sat up on his folded legs and raised the fiddle to his chin. He thought a moment before drawing the bow across the string and beginning to play Over the Rainbow.
Spock’s eyebrow took to the sky and he listened through the entire song. At the end, McCoy picked it up from the beginning and Spock raised his lyre up, plucking at the strings as he watched McCoy play.
The lyre made the song eerie, almost discordant, as if it were almost-but-not-quite played in a minor key. It enticed McCoy to play more slowly as Spock delivered a counter-rhythm that left him breathless. He usually preferred to play quickly, rushing to the end. He’d never been one to obey a time signature. But playing with Spock made him slow down. He got distracted by Spock’s long, fine fingers dancing over the strings and buttons. He thought about kissing him.
The end of the song snuck up on him, and he held his fiddle still as the last note reverberated across the basin and back again. Somewhere, a rock slipped from its purchase and tumbled into the soft, warm sand. Spock was looking at him heatedly, and McCoy shifted in discomfort.
“That was pretty good,” he managed.
Spock inclined his head. “I have always enjoyed adapting music.”
“I can see that. You’re good at it.” He smiled and leaned in to give Spock another kiss on the cheek. Spock turned into the contact, brushing his lips against McCoy’s and sighing.
There were too many instruments in the way, and so McCoy placed his fiddle back into its case. Spock watched him do it with open curiosity, hands relaxed on his own lyre.
“You appear to have a particular goal in mind, Leonard.”
“Damn right, I do.” He tugged at Spock’s lyre and Spock gripped it more tightly before relaxing again. He let McCoy take the lyre and set it aside. “Do you know what it is?”
“I am beginning to form a hypothesis.”
McCoy chuckled and cupped Spock’s cheek, kissing him again. “You’re quite beautiful, Spock. You could drive a man mad. Tell me, is making out common practice on Vulcan?”
Spock mouthed the words making out , a frown of confusion forming at his brow. “I do not believe so.”
“Well then, we’ll see if we can make it catch on.”
He kissed Spock again, holding his head gently as his other hand found Spock’s. He let his fingers run over the back of Spock’s hand, drawing out minute shivers from him. He swallowed Spock’s sigh of pleasure as he touched the pads of their fingers, and then Spock seemed to get the hint. He lifted his hands to curl around the back of McCoy’s neck, trailing through the short hairs there, tugging him closer.
Spock leaned back and McCoy followed, shifting so that he was straddling Spock’s legs and could get a good angle to bracket Spock against the side of the shuttlecar. He cupped Spock’s chin to hold him still, encouraging Spock to open his mouth with soft little flicks of his tongue, and then practically moaned when Spock finally understood and let him in. He felt like he could drown in Spock, and there was a funny idea. Drowning on Vulcan. Drowning in a pit of sand. He chuckled to himself and dropped his hand from Spock’s chin to his body, marveling at how good Spock felt to touch.
He trailed his thumbs up, feeling the shallow bumps of Spock’s ribs through the thin fabric of his shirt. Spock had a few too many bones there, a shield of protection around his heart. It pleased McCoy to count them, to feel Spock shifting pleasantly beneath his hands.
Spock twisted and wrapped his arms around McCoy’s shoulders, tugging him so that their bodies were pressed together, flush from chest to hip. Spock’s mouth was curious and searching, a bit inexperienced, but eager and willing to learn. He tasted sweet. Like Vulcan tea. The way roses smelled.
McCoy hadn’t felt like this in years. He felt like a teenager again, utterly able to just kiss and be held. There was no hurry towards sex, no awkward fumbling of clothing. He touched Spock’s body just to touch, just to feel him shift and strain upwards, just to map him, just to learn how Spock responded to pleasure. Gradually, he began to kiss his way along Spock’s soft jawline, up the swoop of bone towards his ear. He nosed against the soft skin there and Spock twitched in surprise, body yearning towards McCoy as if it were possible for them to be closer. Gently, McCoy kissed just above the condylar process and Spock made an encouraging noise, so he worked his way higher, taking to point of Spock’s ear lightly between his teeth.
“Leonard!” Spock twisted, shivered, and his strong arms tugged McCoy so flush against him that for a moment McCoy thought he might break apart. Then Spock relaxed. He turned his face towards McCoy and looked up at him, both hands flying quickly to grasp McCoy by the neck and pull him into a sloppy, hurried kiss.
Their teeth clashed and McCoy chuckled, easing back. He drew Spock’s lip against his teeth, rolled it, tasted Spock’s gasp, and then released him. He whispered, low and throaty, “Easy, darlin’. We’ve got plenty of time.”
Indeed, they did, and time seemed to stand still even as the sun danced across the sky. They kissed and held close until sweat beaded on McCoy’s brow and he had to pull away, annoyed that the heat made it impossible to hold Spock against him any longer.
He swiped at his brow. “Sorry,” he said, reaching into the shuttle and drawing out a bottle of water. He downed half of it in one go, surprised he was so dehydrated. He hadn’t even noticed. Spock’s lips had been too refreshing. He realized he was tingling, half aroused, his mind humming with distraction, hazy with want but also vaguely detached.
Spock gazed at him with his eyes blown, half-lidded in contentment. “You requested that I talk with you more often.”
McCoy shifted so that he was protected by the shade of the shuttlecar. He reached and carded his hand through Spock’s hair as if he were straightening it. It only grew messier. “I could be amenable to talking,” he said.
Spock’s mouth twitched and then flattened. He reached up and took McCoy’s hand, interlacing their fingers in a gesture whose intimacy was not lost on McCoy. “I enjoy your playing.”
“You are quite technically skilled.” Spock held his hand tighter as he tried to pull away. “It is clear to me that your abilities extend beyond the confines of the operating room, although you are of course an exceptional surgeon as well.”
“Spock…” He trailed off, uncomfortable but remembering that Spock had asked him not to argue with his praise.
Spock pulled him in and nosed his way up McCoy’s neck, soft and gentle, and McCoy tried not to think about how sweaty he was. “You are so worthy of praise, Leonard.”
McCoy gulped as Spock kissed the soft, sensitive skin on the side of his neck. “Spock,” he tried again.
“You are intelligent.” Another kiss. “Warm, and pleasant.” His hands came up, sprinkling delicate finger-kisses over McCoy’s bare arms. “You are a joy to be around.”
McCoy twitched and took Spock’s face into his hands, kissing him harshly to silence him. He thought he could feel a smile at Spock’s lips, playful and amused. “Let’s not talk about that,” he muttered.
“Very well.” Spock’s eyes were definitely lit by a smile, although his mouth was as flat as ever. “Then I shall merely think it.”
And he did. McCoy got a...a feeling. Like someone was breathing down the back of his neck. Goosebumps pebbled his skin. He got the impression of warmth, admiration, amusement and he realized that all of those were Spock’s feelings for him. Spock’s hands on his body suddenly felt sticky, like their skin was melting together, like Spock was sliding into him and the thin barrier between bodies was dissolving, dissolving, and then he was proud of himself.
McCoy jerked away.
“Leonard?” Now Spock looked only concerned.
His heart was beating too fast and loud in his ear. What was that? “Nothing--I, I just remembered there’s some work I have to get to. I think we should head back.” He rose, dusting sand from his legs, and gathered up his fiddle. He hustled into the shuttlecar.
Spock rose as well, looking confused. “Very well.”
Twitching, McCoy sat in the chair and stared ahead at the console. He could hear Spock packing away his lyre and he internally cursed himself for being so jumpy. Really, it hadn’t been that big of a deal. He’d felt Spock’s emotions through the bond before, hadn't he? Hell, he’d gotten a heck of a lot more than just emotions when he’d been hallucinating in the desert. He’d asked for this. He’d asked for Spock to stay with him, to be with him, to let the bond grow and mature between them.
But it had been different when he hadn’t known so clearly--no, that wasn’t quite right. It had been different when he had been arguing with Spock. When it had been more about winning he had felt confident that he could handle the bond. He wasn’t so sure now. He vaguely knew how to deal with physical intimacy, but mental intimacy was something else altogether.
Beside him, Spock powered on the shuttlecar and lifted them into the air. He wasn’t saying anything, but he also didn’t look upset. He didn’t look much of anything, and it was the flat, expressionless profile of his face that disturbed McCoy the most.
“I did enjoy playing with you,” McCoy muttered.
Some of the tension left Spock’s shoulders. “And I with you.”
“What are you going to do now?” McCoy asked. “I mean, now that you can no longer play in the market every week?”
Spock seemed introspective. After a moment, he said, “For some time now I have been… contemplating how I shall proceed with my life. I have found great comfort in devoting myself to the lyre, and have considered furthering my studies at the Tenaran Music Academy. Originally, I wished to carry out the terms of my contract with here on Vulcan before applying, but now that I am no longer gainfully employed the matter is somewhat more pressing...” Spock trailed off and glanced over, looking at McCoy with his soft brown eyes that saw far too much.
McCoy looked down at his hands. “That’s on Trill, isn’t it?”
“You should apply,” he said suddenly, surprising himself. “If that’s still what you want to do.”
“I believe it would be a rewarding experience,” Spock said quietly. “But it is quite far...from Vulcan.”
And even further from Earth, McCoy didn’t say. Instead, he said, “Well, even if you get accepted you don’t necessarily have to go. It may be good just to have options.”
Spock said nothing more. McCoy wrestled with himself for the rest of the ride, wondering if it were selfish or selfless to push Spock to go to Trill.