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Encounters with Bigfoot

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“Knock knock, hey, Spoooock,” McCoy said, tapping his boot against the front of the counter.

“Commander Spock isn’t here just now, Doctor,” said one of the little ensigns worriedly as he bustled out. Kid had bushy blue hair and a perpetual frown in between those eyebrows. Looked about twelve, at least by Earth standards, but maybe McCoy was just getting old. What was his name? X’sana?

“Not here?” McCoy made a face, and let his armful of padds clatter down on the counter. He actually didn’t mind particularly much. This could wait. “Well, that’s just typical. Never around when I want him. Probably off somewhere figuring out how to climb further up his own ass.”

“D-Doctor! The Captain and Commander Scott requested his presence for a consultation on the new warp field emitters.”

He grinned, feeling immeasurably better. If he couldn’t tease Spock, at least he could tease his little ducklings. “Uh huh, sure. What’s he really like to work for? Does he make you guys eat nothing but Vulcan soup and work eighteen hours a day? Did he take all the padding off the lab stools? Do you even HAVE lab stools?”

“No, Commander Spock is very kind!”

“You should come work in Medical, son. We work hard, but every now and then people’re allowed to smile. Not like here, where you gotta file an application in triplicate five days ahead of your chosen date.”

X’sana’s lower lip wobbled, just a smidge. “Is there something I can help you with, Doctor?”

“It’s okay,” McCoy said gently, still smiling. “The calibration’s off by zero point zero five three in the muon band and Scotty couldn’t figure it out. Spock said he’d take a look. If you can just give these to Spock that’d be great. He knows what it’s about. Hey, I vaguely recall you like chocolate, right?”

X’sana paused in gathering up the padds, and blinked at him with huge eyes. “Y-yes?”

“I got a package from Earth the other day. There’s rum and raisin chocolate in there, and it’s not my favorite, but it’s much better than the replicated stuff. Next time you swing by Sickbay, pop in to see me.”

“Thank you!”

McCoy whistled as he headed back out, and considered trying an evil snicker. He enjoyed teasing Spock’s ducklings. Sometimes he enjoyed luring them over to the light side even more. (And yeah, yeah, yeah, he also genuinely wanted to show care to the kid and give him another adult in authority to talk to. The kid was probably just nervy, and he knew damn well that Spock wouldn’t mistreat him. But no one had to know McCoy was being nice.)

Now, what was next on his agenda… oh yeah. Snnanagfashtalli’s physical. One of his favorite security officers.

***

Some time later, Spock returned to his quarters. He brought up a particular file on his viewscreen.

He settled back in his chair, and steepled his fingers thoughtfully. He watched as his computer auto-scrolled through the shore leave schedule, with all considerations made for those who were visiting family on Earth, exploring Andor, briefly taking up other posts on other ships, or teaching at Starfleet Academy.

They were fortunate with this particular endeavour. The Enterprise being due for a refit, not too far from Earth, meant that most leave requests could be honored. The Captain had informed him with sparkling eyes that it was his turn to take leave, and he would be entirely capable of managing this with help from Mr Scott, and two of Spock’s assistants from Science.

Well. More precisely, it had been something like, ”I can handle a nursery run and HQ will have my ass if you bank up any more leave, so disappear for a week, Spock. It’ll be fine. Take two if you want. Have I ever lied to you?”

The answer to that was, of course, yes. Rarely, perhaps. But he had, just as Spock had… deceived him. (Vulcans never lied.)

But Spock was too well versed in humanity, and in one particular form of it, to give anything more than a bland, ”Yes, Captain,” in response to that.

***

Jim pushed the bowl to the center of the table in the rec room, and McCoy took another couple chips. Some weird Russian flavor, courtesy of Chekov. Borscht and added salt, or something? Terrible for the blood pressure, and the last time he’d had some, he’d tasted that weird taste on his breath for days. But they were really addictive.

This’d be the last time the three of them would be together for a week or so, since Jim was taking the Enterprise to oversee a refit, and Spock was going on long overdue shore leave. McCoy was due, too, but he didn’t have any particular place to be. Joanna was out of the system so he didn’t have her to visit.

Was planning on catching up on his reading, while Dyson got a turn at being CMO for a while. She’d told him with relish about how she and Christine were going to reorganise his filing system, so he was expecting with gloomy delight to not be able to find a damn thing when he returned to his office.

 

“Do you have all your clearances in place for this dig, Spock?”

“Certainly. It should be quite interesting.”

McCoy raised an eyebrow. It wasn’t a perfect Spock imitation, but he was getting better at it. “Dig?”

“There is a place ten kilometers from ShiKahr, Doctor, only recently identified as of historical import. There are deposits of shintanium in the area, and they block scanning beams. Vulcan artifacts have been discovered, and while they suspect the site is exhausted, I wish to explore it further. I have requested to assist.” He inspected a chip, and sniffed it doubtfully. “I had intended to go with Sar- Father. However, he is currently unwell.”

Jim frowned. “Is it anything serious, Spock? Do you need to take more than a week off?”

There was a softening around Spock’s eyes. McCoy thought to himself, why the hell do people think Vulcans are as emotionless as they say they are. Jim always meant a lot to Spock. Always had. It was nice.

“No. He is simply ageing, and finding the heat of Vulcan’s summers more taxing than they once were, and Mother has forbidden him to leave the coolness of the house for anything other than medical purposes. Mother has invited me to stay at their house, and to make daily trips from there. In that way, I can share my findings with Father, and he may still participate.”

And Spock could then check in on his father in the universe’s most obvious way, of course, but McCoy wasn’t unkind enough to point that out. Not at this moment, anyways. Maybe later, if Spock was ticking him off enough.

He scanned through his cards again. Ace of spades, two of clubs, five of clubs… he had nothing.

Wait.

“Can I come with you?” McCoy piped up, surprising himself, and apparently surprising Spock, too, judging by the way that left eyebrow rose at least 0.75 of a millimetre.

“Archaeology seems hardly your ceramic container of a desiccated infusion.”

McCoy blinked as Jim laughed. McCoy managed to parse this, and then managed to parse that Spock had fallen back on teasing, in his own way. “No, it’s not my cup of tea. But I’m up for learning, I kinda want to see any cave paintings of teddy bears with fangs that I can find, and Vulcan could be a good kind of peaceful for a while.”

Thing was, the two of them were actually friends. And Spock – and Jim – had even accepted that, some time ago. There hadn’t really been any doubt that McCoy would say yes, when Spock’d asked him to be present at the wedding that hadn’t turned out to be a wedding. But Spock obviously didn’t expect McCoy to want to go with him on something like this, something that was just a working holiday.

It was kinda nice to surprise Spock.

It was also really stupid of McCoy to tempt fate by saying this would be peaceful, and he should’ve known better.

(But he was also glad to be able to offer Spock his medical expertise, in case Spock was genuinely concerned about his dad.)

“I will check with my parents. I am certain that will be acceptable.”

“Do you mind, though? I won’t be pissed if you’d prefer to see your parents alone. I don’t want you to just put up with me because of some stupid Vulcan rules about how you treat guests, blah blah blah.” He didn’t say, we’ve known each other too long to go through that crap.

Jim met McCoy’s eyes, then looked down at his cards, a small smile playing around the corners of his mouth. Doing his whole captain-best friend-annoyingly empathetic pain in the ass routine. (McCoy loved him.)

McCoy wasn’t expecting anything like Spock being overwhelmingly effusive. He wasn’t that stupid, nor was he fishing for compliments. He just wanted confirmation that Spock wasn’t just tolerating him.

He got it.

“I will not simply endure your presence.”

Well, it was close enough.

Spock put down his hand. “Gin.”

“Dammit!”

***

They took a commercial shuttle from the starbase to Vulcan. It was always weird as hell to ride commercial, to see all these tired businesspeople, and families with little kids who were excited as hell to look out the ports and yelled when Vulcan approached. Imagine being excited about visiting Vulcan.

(McCoy wasn’t about to admit he felt the same way. Vulcan wasn’t a resort, but it was something different from everyday life on the Enterprise, and Spock’s company was surprisingly restful.)

Spock hired a skimmer at the spaceport, which had the same new car smell that all these things seemed to have no matter what planet you were on. “Sure you know how to drive this?” McCoy asked when they were in midair, just to be ornery, and Spock promptly flipped a switch.

“You are in control now, Doctor, if you care to-?”

McCoy yelped, and reached past him to flip it back again. “No, no, that’s fine!”

They reached Spock’s house on the outskirts of ShiKahr, within fifteen minutes or so.

Spock triggered the door sensor, and McCoy heard a chime sound somewhere inside the building. It was a nice place. All impeccably maintained. A small pebble garden graced either side of the door, with the local equivalent of cacti. The house was all whites and creams and light browns on the outside. Lighter colors to help guard against the heat, he figured.

The door became translucent and slid back, and two figures greeted them. Sarek was dressed in his usual robes. Mrs Sarek wore a blouse and pants, with house slippers.

“Hello, Ambassador, Mrs Sarek,” McCoy said, on his best behaviour.

“Doctor.”

Spock’s mother stepped around her husband and took McCoy’s hands, smiling up at him. She was so petite. “Leonard. Call me Amanda. Let me show you to the guest room, then I can give you the tour.”

“This isn’t heavy. I can carry it a while?” he suggested, hefting his bag, trying not to be too obnoxiously eager. He hadn’t really seen inside any Vulcan places before, and he was keen to see just how Spock had grown up. He was fairly sure it wouldn’t be all mathematical formulae and crap like that, but who knew. Maybe there’d be baby photos!

“Certainly. This way.”

McCoy stared around him with great polite interest as Mrs- as Amanda gave him a brief tour.

“This is the kitchen, obviously. Everything works manually - my husband wanted voice activation, but this is one area where I got my own way. But if you have any difficulty finding something, address ‘kitchen’ and it’ll tell you.”

“I greatly prefer manual utilities, too, ma’am,” McCoy said with some relief. He’d briefly entertained visions of trying to get himself a glass of water during the night and accidentally starting a soup - also the smoke alarm.

He was an old country doctor. He used tools where he needed to, and he could begrudgingly admit that some tools made his life much easier - biobeds, tricorders, sterile fields, all kinds of medication advancements, hyposprays instead of those horrific old hypodermic needles that had to be inserted into the skin. Same as he made toast with an appliance instead of starting a fire. He wasn’t an idiot; of course he kept up with medical advancements, because medical advancements saved lives. But nothing could truly replace hands and eyes and knowledge. Nothing could truly replace touch.

It was interesting how Amanda’d said this was one place that she’d gotten her own way. As she showed him the sitting room, the parlour, the bathroom, and indicated the door to the outside, he could see a charming mixture of Vulcan asceticism and elegance, and human warmth.

The place was carefully designed with low, broad windows to allow natural ventilation and light, but he could also see discreet little airconditioning units hidden here and there. A concession to human vulnerability to heat. McCoy was from Georgia, and wasn’t a fainting flower when the temperature got up above ninety or so, but he knew it could get far worse here. Ah, and it probably got down to freezing at night, too. Maybe Sarek was more vulnerable to that than Amanda was.

The floors were largely wood, or tiles in the kitchen.

Two long, low bookcases took up most of the sitting room. Amanda encouraged him with a gesture to look closer. A quick glance showed philosophy, a couple language primers - oh that’s right, Amanda was a linguist, yeah? - some kids’ books, a few in what he thought was probably Vulcan, and a couple classics from Earth.

“My mama loved von Delaware’s books,” he said with pleasure. “The romances, particularly.”

She smiled back. “They are excellent escapism.”

There was a single Vulcan character in a simple frame over the rosewood piano, which obviously saw a great deal of use. It was recently polished, and there was music laid out on the stand. Beethoven, he thought. Beethoven did the Moonlight Sonata, right?

“Peace,” Amanda told him. He could hear Spock and Sarek rumbling at each other somewhere in the background, so he wasn’t focusing as much as he could. He made a polite huh face, and she elaborated. “The character. Sarek felt it important, especially as Spock was something of a rebellious child at times.”

They kept walking, and it took McCoy a few delighted seconds to process that. They were at the doorway to a bedroom before he managed to speak. “Spock? Do tell. Please!”

“Perhaps later,” she laughed, pushing open the door. “Here. Please treat our home as yours while you stay here, Leonard. There’s a private bathroom for you through here, and of course help yourself to food and drink at any time. Spock’s room is here.”

Across the hall.

“Thank you.”

“Please rest. Freshen up as you wish. Dinner is at eighteen hundred.”

***

She left, and he nodded appreciatively at his room. A soft, creamy carpet was underfoot, which’d be real pleasant on bare feet. The walls were white, hung with a couple prints of Earth flowers in burgundies and reds.

The bed was huge. He blinked at it, then went to investigate the bathroom.

***

McCoy emerged promptly at seventeen fifty-five, and Spock inclined his head slightly in appreciation. McCoy was very human in many ways, some of which could be considered assets, and some… perhaps not. But he was always respectful of other people’s families, and he was always on time.

Spock also could not help but appreciate the other man aesthetically, too. He had changed into a soft blue shirt over grey pants, and while it was a simple outfit, it draped pleasingly over his lean form and complimented the blue of his eyes.

He did not want to acknowledge that it was useful to have McCoy’s presence regarding his father, but he also did not want to be anything less than truthful with himself (for all that this was a complicated matter, frequently). He and Sarek had planned this excursion for a little while, but he was still not entirely comfortable with his father one on one, and…

And on seeing the hollows beneath his father’s eyes, he was also not entirely comfortable with his father’s health.

Dinner was a simple preparation of vegetable stew, with meat-substitute for McCoy. He pronounced himself very satisfied with it, then he raised his eyebrows.

“I’d like to sing for my supper now, if that’s okay?”

“Doctor?”

“He means, husband, that he would like to examine you.”

Sarek sighed, but there was acceptance in his dark eyes. He nodded. “I do not think it necessary, as I merely tire easily. However, I appreciate your care, Doctor.”

***

McCoy emerged from Sarek and Amanda’s bedroom half an hour later with a frown. “He told me to tell you. He’s not deathly sick or anything, but it’s more than exhaustion. There’s something weird going on with the soft tissues. Nothing to worry about just now, but I’ll send some tests to the closest lab and I want to keep him under observation.”

***

The expedition to the dig site went well enough, right up until Spock fell down a hole and McCoy toppled after him.

Spock looked kinda cute in his little gloves wielding his little brush. His tricorder hung at the customary place at his waist, but he also had an old fashioned camera for when they reached the worst of the shintanium deposits and all the modern equipment stopped working. There was some hope that perhaps their equipment would still work locally, but no promises. Those at the other dig site today had laughed and said no one knows.

There were indeed cave paintings, and they were absolutely wonderful. Teddy bears with fangs. “You really had one of these as a pet?”

“Indeed, Doctor.”

Then Spock found paintings of some being with three arms, maybe fifteen feet tall if the relative sizes of the sehlats and le-matya next to them meant anything. Covered with fur, with some kind of stinger in the tail.

“Let me guess, you had one of these as an elementary school teacher?”

“Not quite,” Spock said dryly. “They are cryptids, of a sort. Legends, shapeshifters, using mental abilities that we have since lost. No actual artifacts or fossils have ever been discovered.”

He took conscientious photographs from various angles.

Then the earth shook underneath them, and McCoy heard a shout go up from the other dig site a kilometer or so from them.

“Hold on!” McCoy shouted. There was the oddest vortex forming around them. He reached for Spock, but Spock’s handhold crumbled just as McCoy’s fingertips brushed Spock’s other hand. He lurched forward reflexively, and tumbled in after him -

***

He woke up with Spock’s hand on his wrist and hard sand under his hip and shoulder. Spock was shaking, and McCoy immediately sat up to grab his medical tricorder.

...he had it in one hand just as he clapped the other to his head. Pain. Must’ve hit his head, bad. He managed not to retch, but he went cross-eyed for longer’n he really wanted to.

“I’m okay,” he murmured. “Only hit my head. Not something I actually use. Let me see how you’re doing.”

The medical tricorder fizzed and sputtered, then finally told him something he really didn’t want to know. Something that made too much sense.

“Soft tissue damage? Same as your dad. But worse.”

Spock frowned at him, and kept trembling. “We appear to have travelled in time, also. Doctor. Your head.”

McCoy dug an ampoule out of his pouch for pain, slotted it into his hypospray, then injected himself in the side of the throat. He winced, then felt the pain begin to ease.

“Travelled in time?”

“Judging by the stars visible above, and by the lack of damage to the rocks that slid and caused us to fall. My tricorder cannot be trusted. We need to move to a place further from the shintanium. Can you travel?”

“Try me,” McCoy said bravely, stupidly. Spock got an arm around him and eased him to his feet, and he again managed not to throw up. Really should be some kind of medal for that. The Lack of Puke Medal. The No Vomit For Me Medal.

After what felt like about twelve kilometers and was probably more like three hundred meters, they were able to settle, and both checked their instrumentation.

“Approximately fourteen hundred Earth years,” Spock said with what had to be dismay, even for him. That wasn’t just a case of hey, let’s wait around a few days and the Enterprise’ll pick us up.

McCoy met his eyes, then looked back down at his own display.

“There’s a high level of muon particles in your bloodstream,” McCoy said, grimacing. “It’s wrecking the soft tissues. Vulcans must be more susceptible.”

Spock met his eyes, with the elegant eyebrows drawing down over his nose. “My father.”

“Yes. Must be the same cause. Your parents are in danger. We gotta get back there. Someh-”

“I won’t let you discover my people!”

McCoy cried out as a searing pain shot through his head, and he sank to the ground. He was vaguely aware of Spock catching him and dragging him around a corner, and wanted to tell Spock that he’d been telepathily blasted before or whatever the hell you called it on top of a probable concussion, he’d be just fiiiiiine, shoot BACK, don’t hurt yourself, you pointy-eared genius idiot, but blackness overtook him.

***

The light shimmered. Their assailant was gone, once again. Spock repressed a bone deep shudder as the muon particles vibrated within his flesh.

McCoy’s medical kit had a medical tricorder, and various ampoules. The tricorder was, of course, nonfunctional, but was not necessary for the identification of the blankness in the doctor’s eyes.

The doctor was fading. Swiftly, far too swiftly. His pulse was thready, and Spock’s psychic sense of McCoy’s mind was vanishing rapidly. Spock was too restrained to curse, but a number of times that Jim, or Leonard himself, had done so, immediately shot through his mind.

McCoy was a fighter, in various fashions. He was rarely physical about it, but Spock had seen him pull off feats of great physical endurance when needed by patients. He had seen him work in surgery for thirty-six hours straight, never wavering, then literally collapse after closing the final incision. He had to be brought back. He had to be made to fight.

Spock…

Spock couldn’t lose him.

The sand was hard under his knees, and McCoy was a barely felt weight in his lap. He spread his fingers across the neural pathways of the Doctor’s face.

Voice harsh, he began. “My mind to your mind. Our thoughts are one.”

There was blackness inside McCoy’s mind, and Spock quickly suppressed terror. He had to throw himself after the spark of McCoy’s consciousness, which would be considerably easier if he could actually find it. He cast about, aware of the timeframe, aware that with every passing second he made it more and more difficult to return to his own mind.

...there.

He latched on and dove faster, until he finally caught McCoy in his arms and was subsumed by a memory.

His own face! With a beard. Advancing on McCoy, holding McCoy’s wrist in a grip tight enough to wrench, or break, should McCoy fight. The hardness of the wall against McCoy’s shoulders and back. The way that he himself had previously forced his presence into the doctor’s mind, without trying to hurt but with no consideration for care or lack of harm…!

It was not him.

He gasped a shuddery breath of regret and guilt for something he had never done. He – not himself, but still himself - had caused this man significant pain, and now he understood more of the nuance of McCoy’s reaction to being returned to his home universe. All of them had been changed by their experiences. Uhura seemed more sure of herself, and Jim less so.

But none of the others had been mind-attacked by Spock.

“mhere, Spock. I’m here.”

A murmur against his chest. Wasn’t that entirely absurd. He had sought to find, to save the doctor, and instead the doctor was attempting to comfort him.

“Stay here,” he said with worry. “I must find our assailant.”

***
…no. It couldn’t be.

Of course it was. Vulcans did not doubt the evidence of their eyes.

***

“Vulcans have changed,” Spock said carefully. “Please. Doctor McCoy needs medical help.”

“I won’t let you go back. You know too much!” said the man with blue hair. He kept shimmering, changing in size to… enormous. With three arms, and a stinger which waved in the air menacingly behind him. There were four others behind him, watching.

“X’sana. If that is your name. Your time travel device is causing harm. You know me. You know Doctor McCoy. You know that we will not hurt you, unless in self-defence. You know that you have not harmed the people at the other site, though you could have. You do not wish to cause harm. Please.”

X’sana paused, arrested in thought, and sat down in front of Spock. He still dwarfed him. The air from the vent in the uneven rock ceiling moved his fur briefly.

“You. You were kind to me, Commander Spock,” he said slowly. “Doctor McCoy teased me -”

Spock couldn’t help but sigh, and it surprised a laugh out of X’sana. “-and he gave me chocolate. I was supposed to kill both of you on the Enterprise, and then at your parents’ house, but I - I couldn’t. Perhaps I can talk to them.”

He moved back to the group, and Spock let himself sag in exhaustion. He could only hope that McCoy was actually safe where he’d left him. He’d brought the doctor back to some semblance of control over his own mind and body, certainly, but McCoy was still weak. He was also open to attack.

X’sana returned, with a larger, silent being behind. Possibly a parent? “Can you guarantee safety?”

“I cannot, as harm is still possible,” Spock said softly. “I can guarantee representation on the Vulcan Council, and that my father, who is an esteemed diplomat, will speak for you. There are various preserves on Vulcan, where the inhabitants are left alone. That could be arranged for this place.”

He could see that this was not enough. X’sana moved restlessly, and the being behind him gripped his shoulder.

“If you stay here, we could care for you,” the other being rumbled. “Wouldn’t leave you to die.”

Spock inhaled, feeling the muon particles shiver further into his blood. It was an attractive proposition, in a way, as it meant not needing to travel by that particular method once more. However, it was clearly not going to work.

“I am grateful. However, Vulcans are a curious people, and evidence of your kind would lead to discovery of you, here, in time. Time travel is not entirely unknown to my species. It would be better for you to have control of how and when that information is disseminated.”

There was also the issue of one James T Kirk, who was not very likely to leave the mystery of his first officer and chief medical officer’s disappearance as it stood.

X’sana nodded. “We’ll take you home.”

***

McCoy ran his tricorder over Sarek, and smiled in approval. “It’s improving, sir. You should be feeling much more normal within the next few days. Just keep taking the supplements and getting enough water.”

“And you?”

McCoy blinked at him, and Spock made a small, utterly exasperated sound. McCoy shot him an apologetic look, but he could feel the laughter dancing in his own eyes. They’d been through some shit together, and Spock was incredibly dear to him.

“I’m much better,” he assured Sarek. “I’ve been attacked by experts before, and that was totally nothing. The knock to the head was nothing worse than I get on a regular day on the Enterprise.”

“Excellent news.” Sarek turned to Amanda. “And you will note, my wife, that I am not ageing to quite as dire an extent as you had supposed. I was instead in the presence of a malfunctioning time travel device.”

She snorted. “Of course. How foolish of me, husband.“

Why did that little exchange feel familiar?

***

The rest of their week was uneventful. They caught Jim up by comm, then returned to the Enterprise.

McCoy noted Spock’s quiet on the shuttle trip, and left him to it. He did not. Hm. He did not wish to push. They’d nearly gotten each other killed, after all.

(And if he also did not wish to push himself to be honest with himself, then he did not admit that to himself. Self-knowledge was totally for the weak.)

***

“Spock. Wait.”

A skinny arm snaked out and dragged Spock into McCoy’s quarters. He stumbled, then clasped his hands behind himself, blinking at the doctor. This was not expected. He had assumed they would return to the Enterprise, check in with Jim, and visit with him later this evening as intended. Not that he would be hauled into McCoy’s sparse but clean quarters with no warning.

“Is there a problem, Doctor?”

McCoy threw up his hands, and turned away, rubbing his face. “You don’t need to go all super Vulcan on me again, okay? We’ve been through too much. I want to. Uh. I want to say something.”

“If you need to have nothing more to do with me outside of Enterprise business, then I understand,” Spock offered cautiously. He very much hoped that it would not be a relief for McCoy to hear that offer, but honor compelled him to make the offer.

“No. Don’t you fucking dare,” McCoy said, rounding on him. His nostrils flared. “Look, if you hate this idea then that’s okay. I, uh, I felt when you brought me back.”

“Yes. And I must apologize for the actions of my other self for forcing that on you without your consent. I also apologize for my own actions, but I felt it necessary as your life was fading.”

To Spock’s utter horror, his own voice cracked on the final word. McCoy’s eyes widened.

McCoy waved his hands like some kind of apoplectic marionette. “No! That’s not what I’m trying to say! I’m, uh, I’m saying I felt your fondness for me. And I figure you probably felt mine for you.”

Spock inclined his head cautiously.

McCoy continued, “So I’m gonna say this once, and if you don’t feel that way any more, or if you do but you don’t wanna act on it, that’s fine, I totally understand. Look, I’m in love with you, you great big green pain in the ass, and I have been for years.”

His face was red. It was even warm to Spock’s touch, when he cupped McCoy’s cheek.

McCoy’s lips were soft under his own.

***

It was damn good to be back aboard the Enterprise, and even better to be back in the rec room together with a bowl of chips, a bowl of peanuts, and decent whiskey over ice. It was late, nearly midnight, and there was no one else in the small room. Light jazz music played from the speakers, but McCoy decided to let that go for now. He could go blackmail Scotty into changing that to something less obnoxious another time.

They took turns filling him in, and McCoy noticed a couple sharp looks as Jim clearly realized they were leaving some details out.

To be fair, they were leaving some details out, and McCoy had every intention of telling Jim all about his new understanding with Spock. But not in front of Spock. That’d be weird. It’d also be better if Spock got to talk to Jim by himself, too. So both of them could ask questions about the other, questions that’d probably boil down to ‘why do humans…’ and ‘why do Vulcans…’.

Wasn’t like they were trying to leave Jim out, after all – Jim was still just as important as he’d always been, and McCoy knew he’d need Jim’s advice here and there.

“So what you’re saying is that the two of you got menaced by a time travelling Bigfoot,” Jim said with incredulity. He took a sip of his whiskey, clearly reconsidered, then took a big mouthful of it.

McCoy grinned at him. “Yup. Who you employed on this ship. And we got saved by rum and raisin chocolate. Who would’ve thought it?”

“Yes, for once your powers to irritate were used for good,” Spock said solemnly.

McCoy threw a peanut at him, and it bounced off his forehead.