Funny how things work out, Leonard McCoy thought as he watched the glider that was taking his daughter to Arilion IV depart. Almost exactly a year ago Joanna should have gone on this exact same flight but had then been taken hostage along with Spock and over 200 other people by a group of Cespian rebels who wanted to force the Federation to cease all ties with Andor.
Spock had been supposed to watch Joanna for a day until her flight departed. Instead, he had ended up keeping her safe throughout the hostage crisis and had eventually gotten her released, preventing her from being injured in the Federation forces’ botched rescue operation.
Against all odds, and in spite of initial faulty treatment by the Starbase doctors, Spock had woken up from his horrific injuries sustained both before and as a result of that operation, and had continued his unlikely friendship with Joanna to this day.
In fact, Joanna and Leonard McCoy had spent the better part of the day with Spock in the Starbase’s arboretum where Spock had patiently and expertly answered all of Joanna’s questions about plants, from their names (which McCoy for the most part did not know) to the process of photosynthesis (which McCoy did know but had to admit he would not have been able to explain in the child-friendly words Spock had found).
Spock was basically Joanna’s best friends and as the two of them had grown closer, so had McCoy and Spock. Not that they hadn’t been friends before all of this happened; they had been, but just that, friends. And now? Definitely more than friends. McCoy chuckled. Funny how things work out.
As McCoy watched the glider grow smaller in the distance, he thought about how, in the beginning, he had been a little jealous of Spock’s close relationship with Joanna. She seemed so comfortable talking to the Vulcan and called him more than she called her father. McCoy had witnessed some of these calls while Spock was still confined in sickbay for three weeks after Joanna’s departure from the Enterprise. McCoy had kept Spock under observation as the Vulcan had been unable to enter a healing trance due to the head injury he had sustained. When McCoy had finally allowed him to go back on light duty, he had still seen Spock every day for physical therapy. The damage one of the rebels had done to Spock’s arm had taken another four weeks to undo.
Surprisingly, throughout Spock’s time in sickbay, he and McCoy had talked a lot. About Joanna, abut their respective relationships with their parents, about everything and anything really. And, the two of them had continued to talk to Joanna, though never together. Eventually, McCoy had realized that he was actually a little jealous of Joanna’s close relationship with Spock. From what McCoy could glean from Joanna’s stories about her friendship with the Vulcan, he was just so attentive, so thoughtful and caring towards her, McCoy found himself wishing this would extend to him too.
Joanna seemed to easily bring out these qualities in Spock and, McCoy thought gratefully as he walked back towards the base's main hall, she had also brought him and Spock together. Literally. It had really been rather sweet, he reminisced. During Joanna’s eighth birthday party, which both he and Spock had attended, some three months after the events on the Starbase, she had taken each of them by the hand and led them outside into the garden where they were alone. She had pretty much rounded on them and addressed them in a serious tone.
“I think,” she had begun without prelude, “that you like each other like Mummy and Ben like each other.”
Ben was Jocelyn’s new boyfriend. McCoy had not been too keen on meeting him but once he did had to admit he was a nice guy.
“It’s not logical,” Joanna had continued, giving Spock a meaningful look, who in turn raised an eyebrow, “to deny what is plainly true.”
And with that she had left them standing together in the garden, dumbfounded, and that, as they say, had been that. Now, nine months later, they were long over the first awkward phase and McCoy suddenly realized how happy he was. Spock had not been able to accompany Joanna and him to the departure gate, but he and McCoy would have dinner together later tonight. The Enterprise’s First Officer had had to beam back to the ship to oversee a crucial part of the refit process, a five-day procedure which happened to coincide with the date of Joanna’s departure to Arilion, something McCoy suspected he had Jim to thank for, who, two days after McCoy had casually mentioned Joanna’s summer holiday plans, had informed him of the dates they would stop over at Starbase 10.
McCoy looked around the base’s main hall, ever busy, just like it had been on that fateful day last year. He cast his mind back to the death and destruction he had witnessed here and could almost not believe it was the same place. Everything had been rebuilt and the hall was now more modern and more beautiful than it had been. Joanna had hardly recognized it when they passed through. McCoy had been worried that coming here would cause his daughter to have flashbacks but nothing of the sort had happened. Joanna had chatted away with Spock as happily as ever and the Vulcan’s usual impassive face had not betrayed any feelings towards the place he was in, if there were any such feelings, which, of course, Spock would deny, McCoy thought. The doctor was nevertheless glad that he had been able to drop Joanna off himself this time.
With two more hours until dinner, McCoy was looking around, trying to decide where to spend that time. He had just decided that it was not too early for a drink and was walking towards one of the bars that advertised non-synthesised alcohol, when he suddenly felt someone standing too close to him. Just as he wanted to turn around, he felt something being pressed into his back and a deep voice whispered into his ear.
“Yes, that’s a phaser, and yes, I will use it if you don't do exactly what I say. Now, move. Upper levels. I don’t have all day.”
Thanks for the comments, everyone! Let's see who the bad guy is, shall we? ;)
On the Enterprise, Spock determined that he had 14.82 minutes until his presence would be required in Engineering for the refit procedures. To use this time efficiently, he went to his quarters and began replying to outstanding correspondence, when suddenly a new message marked URGENT popped up in his inbox.
I have Joanna McCoy in my power. Come alone to the base, level 17, room 301 immediately.
If you delay, she dies. If you tell anyone, she dies. If you bring a weapon or a communicator, she dies.
Spock froze. Was it possible? Could someone have abducted Joanna? She should have been with her father but he could have taken her only as far as the departure gate and the flight ought to have left by now. Was Leonard also in danger? Spock briefly considered contacting him down on the base but dismissed the thought. The warning was quite clear, the stakes too high. Hurriedly, he got up and headed for the transporter room, dread in the pit of his stomach. Not Joanna. Not again.
McCoy was unceremoniously pushed into a narrow room that looked dirty and disused. A thick layer of dust had accumulated on the surface of the room’s only piece of furniture, a small table that was strewn with the odd pad and even some old-fashioned paper files. The room’s only other feature was a large window looking in on another dirty room that held a similar, albeit empty, table, four chairs and some equipment McCoy did not recognize.
His captor had told him to walk straight ahead, to smile and nod, as if they knew each other so as not to arouse suspicion. His voice was strangely familiar to McCoy but he couldn’t quite place it. As their turbo lift had neared the upper levels, more and more people had gotten out until, on level 17, it had just been them.
McCoy had thought about trying to escape but even though he had not seen his captor yet, the man constantly walking a step behind him, he was fairly certain that such an attempt would be foolish, not least because the man was armed while McCoy was not. He didn’t even have his communicator anymore, which the man had taken from him down in the main hall and dropped into a rubbish bin.
I just need to survive this for two hours, McCoy thought, then Spock will realize I’m missing and will come looking for me.
And just how is he supposed to find you up here? a nagging voice in the doctor’s head asked. A Starbase was a big place. McCoy sighed. Spock would say it’s illogical to regret what cannot be changed. And he would be right.
“Ok, now,” the deep voice behind McCoy instructed. “Turn around.”
McCoy did as he was told and came face to face with a large Cespian with a sneer on his face. The doctor gasped.
“Remember me?” the Cespian asked smugly. It was the man who a year ago had threatened to hurt Joanna, tortured Spock, rampaged McCoy’s sickbay and had then threatened to kill Spock before McCoy had knocked him out with a hypo and security had taken him to the brig. McCoy had of course followed what had happened to the Cespian rebels. They had all been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, there was no way this man could be out already.
McCoy crossed his arms, glaring at the Cespian. What was his name again?
"Shouldn’t you be in prison?” he asked, sounding braver than he felt.
The Cespian snorted. “Sure, I should be. And I guess I will be again soon. Usually doesn’t take them too long to catch a guy after a breakout. But for now,” he grinned, “I figure I still have some time and I intend to use it wisely.”
“What do you want from me?” McCoy demanded, feeling more scared as the man’s insane grin grew wider and wider.
“From you? Oh, I don’t want anything from you at all. You’re just here to watch a little show I’m putting on.” The Cespian laughed. “The leading man should be here any minute.”
McCoy’s mind raced. What was he talking about? Oh.
“Spock,” the doctor whispered, his face turning pale.
“Yes, Spock.” The Cespian spat out the name. “You have very bad taste, McCoy,” he continued casually. “Shouldn’t have gotten involved with that Vulcan in the first place. Then you wouldn’t be here. I followed you today, watched you. Had to change my plans because of it. Realized you’d notice if he didn’t turn up for your little dinner date.” The Cespian laughed. “But then I suppose it’s fair,” he continued, eyes narrowing. “After all, you kept me from getting my revenge last time, so this time, you get to watch.”
The Cespian whipped around, leaving the room and locking the door behind him. McCoy ran after him and tried to prise it open, but to no avail. He looked around and through the window saw the Cespian appear in the adjacent room.
McCoy felt sick. So all day long while he, Spock and Joanna were having such a nice time, this creep had been following them, listening to their conversations and cooking up this crazy plan, which involved what exactly? McCoy wondered. He distinctly remembered what the Cespian had said about Spock in his sickbay last year. “If I get my hands on him, I will KILL him!” McCoy shuddered. He had to do something, had to somehow warn Spock. He went back to the door, shaking the handle, then he went over to the window, banging against it, but it did not even tremble.
He was just taking off his boot to try and use it to smash the window when he saw that it was too late. Spock walked into the room, his posture straight, hands behind his back, his face an emotionless mask. But McCoy knew him well enough by now to understand that the tiny lines around his mouth, the miniscule squint of his eyes betrayed the feelings that he hid so well from most people. Spock was scared, in fact, he was terrified.
McCoy took his boot into his hand and hammered against the window. They can’t see me, he realized. Must be one of these one-way mirrors.
“SPOCK!” he shouted. “SPOCK!”
Nothing. Or hear me. The window remained unimpressed by his efforts.
The Cespian laughed and McCoy could hear him loud and clear. He looked around and only now noticed a small loudspeaker next to the window.
“Welcome, Mr Spock,” he said gleefully. “I trust you remember me?”
Spock nodded. “Tengor,” he said. Yes, of course, that was his name, McCoy thought.
“Are you ready to play another little game of mine?” Tengor asked and without waiting for a reply he continued. “Of course you are. Because, I’m sure you guessed it! If you refuse, Joanna McCoy dies.”
“What?” McCoy blurted out, his stomach dropping. What had he just said? But Joanna was safe, wasn’t she? Far away from the base, on her way to Arilion IV. Could this madman somehow have gotten her out of the glider without McCoy noticing? Did he have some means to reach her there?
McCoy was trying to think clearly but a feeling of panic, all too familiar from last year, was threatening to overwhelm him. When he heard Spock’s voice, he forced himself to turn his attention back to the other room.
“Where is Joanna?” the Vulcan asked apparently calmly, but McCoy could hear the edge in his voice.
Tengor grinned. “Why, she’s just next door,” he said smugly, nodding in McCoy’s direction. Spock took a sharp breath, seeing only his own reflection in the mirror on the wall. On the other side, McCoy let out a deep breath. Oh God, he’s lying. Thank God, he’s lying, he thought, slumping against the wall in relief.
“I require proof,” Spock said hoarsely.
“Do you now?” Tengor grinned again and began to circle the Vulcan. “You didn’t require proof to come here, now did you? It’s like I told you. I have her and if you don’t do exactly as I say, she will die.”
McCoy felt a wave of anger rise inside him. “He’s lying!” he shouted, banging against the window again. “Spock, he’s lying to you!”
“I find it unlikely that you should have been able to bring her under your power,” Spock continued, but McCoy could see the doubt in his eyes. “Joanna was with her father up until her departure to Arilion IV and I do not see how you could have…”
“Posed as a steward aboard the glider and gotten her off again?” the Cespian interrupted him, grinning. “Look, I broke out of a high security prison, travelled here without being caught and have spent the day watching you without you notcing. Do you really think that kind of deception is beyond me?”
Spock was silent.
“Well,” Tengor said. “Maybe this will convince you.”
He reached inside his vest and pulled out a lock of brown curly hair. McCoy saw Spock go pale.
“This is the only thing I have cut off so far,” the Cespian said, playing with the strand of hair, “but if you’re going to be difficult much longer, I think I’ll have to cut of something else next. Maybe a finger? An ear? What do you think?”
“No!” Spock stepped towards him and Tengor immediately pointed his phaser at him.
“I will do as you say,” Spock said. “All I ask is that I may see her.”
“Oh no! You cannot see her. I won’t have any of your tricks, Vulcan. We had those last year and se where they landed you and that little brat. But perhaps you should know… she can see us,” he gave the mirror a meaningful look. “And hear us, too.”
McCoy’s heart broke at the look on Spock’s face as he glanced towards the mirror. Utter despair, mixed with concern and deep love. It was only there for a second, then it was gone.
“So, the game we’ll play,” Tengor announced, “is called ‘endure.’ I’m sure you remember?” He ran his fingers over Spock’s right arm, almost in a sort of caress. The Vulcan shuddered involuntarily.
“Step over here.”
He led Spock to one of the pieces of equipment strewn about the room. It consisted of a box connected to two wires, ending in to handles. Spock, face impassive, did as he was told.
“So the game works like this,” Tengor continued. “You stay conscious, she stays alive. Simple, really.” And with that, he placed the handles into Spock’s hands. “Oh, and don’t let go.” The Cespian laughed. “Not that you could. Ready?”
Spock gave him a stoic look. “Just one minute please.” He looked towards the mirror.
“Joanna,” he addressed his own reflection. “I asked this of you before and I hope you are able to comply and will do as I ask, just as you did last time. Please cover your ears and close your eyes and turn around if you can. You will likely have to stay this way for a long time, but please trust me and do it.”
McCoy felt tears well up inside his eyes. Spock really believed Joanna was in danger and protecting her was first and foremost on his mind. Though Spock’s advice had not been meant for him, McCoy realized he would probably do well to follow it. Instead, he stared through the window as if mesmerized.
“Let’s play,” Tengor said, clearly enjoying himself, as he turned a dial on the box and pressed a button.
Spock closed his eyes as 500 volts of electricity coursed through his body. While unpleasant, it was not exceedingly painful. He opened his eyes again to see Tengor watching him closely.
“Just a test run,” the Cespian sneered, turning the dial on the box to 1000 volts and pressing the button again. This time, Spock felt his muscles go rigid, locking in place. Intense pain ripped through his body, as if he was being burned from the inside. When Tengor finally let go of the button, Spock gasped as his muscles relaxed, his eyes watering and his heart fluttering in his side.
Behind the mirror, McCoy watched helplessly, going over the possible damage being caused to Spock’s body in his head. Severe burns, respiratory paralysis, cardiac arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, death. He pressed his face to the glass, willing Tengor to stop, but the Cespian was only just getting started.
“Very good,” Tengor said mockingly to Spock. “Still standing, still conscious. Shall we try 3000 volts?”
If the pain before had been intense, this time it was extreme. It seemed to tear at every fibre of Spock’s body and when he was finally released, the Vulcan was panting, his face contorted in an attempt to regain control. But Tengor was not about to give Spock a break. Another turn of the dial, a push of the button. 6000 volts.
McCoy watched Spock fall to his knees as the current released him, shaking and breathing heavily. The doctor was frantic, banging on the glass again.
“STOP!” he shouted. “For God’s sake, just stop it.”
“Amazing,” Tengor mused, “what you’re willing to take for that human child.”
He pressed the button again, leaving at he dial where it was this time, apparently satisfied with the current's effect on the Vulcan, as he watched Spock’s pain-filled eyes and trembling body.
“Finally, little Joanna can see how her friend is suffering. All alone behind that wall with no one to help her. I could have brought her daddy here, too but I thought it would be a more… formative experience for her to watch this alone. Are you having fun, sweetheart?" Tengor grinned towards the mirror and McCoy fumed with rage. That lying bastard, he thought. But unfortunately, the mind games seemed to be working. Spock closed his eyes, his shoulders sagging.
The next electric shock left Spock unable to draw a breath. He opened his mouth but his muscles just wouldn’t move. His vision began to blacken and he swayed dangerously, when suddenly his muscles unlocked and he drew a deep shuddering breath.
“That was close,” Tengor commented dispassionately. “Looks like I’ll have to kill the girl sooner than I expected. What do you think, Vulcan? Will 1000 volts be enough to make her little heart stop beating?”
Spock clenched his teeth. All that was on his mind as another surge of electricity coursed through his body was Don’t. Pass. Out.
“Scott to Captain Kirk.”
“Kirk here, what is it Scotty?”
“Sir, have you seen Mr Spock?”
Kirk frowned. “No, Scotty, I haven’t. Why?”
“Well, sir…” Scotty felt somewhat uncomfortable. He was not one to tattle on a crewman who was late for an assignment, but this was Spockthey were talking about. Spock was never late. “‘tis just that… Mr Spock was supposed to meet me in Engineering half an hour ago, but he never showed up. And I can’t seem to be able to raise him.”
“That’s not like Spock,” Kirk mused, putting down the book he was reading.
“Aye, sir, that’s what I thought.”
“Have you tried his communicator?”
“Aye. It registers in his quarters but he’s not answering and I’m just outside now but he’s not answering the door either.”
Kirk thought for a moment. “Wait there, Scotty. I’m coming.”
10000 volts, for the third time now. The pain was so excruciating, Spock wanted nothing more than to close his eyes and let it all go. But he could not. Joanna’s life depended on it. When the pain subsided, he fell down on his side, once again struggling to breathe. The room looked blurred, his head was spinning. Tengor was saying something but he couldn’t make out what it was. Don’t pass out. He could taste blood and wondered if he had bitten his own tongue or whether something inside him had just burst.
To distract himself, he thought about Joanna. Her smile, her intelligence, her sweetness and perceptiveness. She was like a daughter to him and he was not ashamed to admit he loved her dearly, just as he was not ashamed to say he loved Leonard. Leonard. Spock briefly closed his eyes. He could not imagine the horror Leonard would feel once he found out that Joanna’s life was once again in danger. Spock just hoped that he would be able to hold out long enough for her to be rescued.
How long had he been down here? he wondered. His usually precise sense of time seemed to have left him. It certainly felt like hours, but logically, it could not have been more than one hour. Mr Scott and the captain must have realized he was missing by now and if not, Leonard would surely realize once he did not turn up for dinner. Spock certainly hoped so, for Joanna’s sake, for if his friends looked for him, they might not find him alive, but there was still a chance they could rescue the girl.
Kirk had keyed in his override code to open the door to Spock’s quarters and stepped inside. Empty. On the one hand, he was somewhat relieved – somewhere at the back of his mind he had been afraid to catch Spock and Bones in a compromising position – he was still not quite used to the idea of them dating. Not that he wasn’t happy for them, it would just be awkward to barge in on them naked or whatever. He blushed. On the other hand, he probably would have preferred such awkwardness over having his First Officer just disappear.
“Let’s check the transporter log and try to contact McCoy,” Kirk suggested. “I know they were down at the base together today.”
He and Scotty walked towards the transporter room and Kirk took out his communicator. “Kirk to McCoy. Bones, come in, please.”
No answer. “Bones, this is Jim. Can you hear me?”
“Strange,” Kirk mumbled. “Maybe it’s broken?”
Scotty gave him a doubtful look. “Mr Spock beamed down to the base an hour ago,” Scotty reported, checking the log.
“What about McCoy?”
“The doctor’s communicator registers at the base alright,” the Chief Engineer answered.
“Can you just beam him up?” Kirk asked.
“Aye, that I can.” Scotty pulled down the lever for the transporter controls but instead of McCoy, a rubbish bin materialized in front of them.
“That is not Dr McCoy,” Kirk stated, almost amused but starting to get uneasy.
“No, sir,” Scotty agreed, but this” – he rummaged through the bin and held up a small device – “is his communicator.”
Kirk bit his lip. Something was definitely wrong here. “I’m contacting Starbase security,” he stated. “Assemble a search party, Scotty. I have a bad feeling about this.”
Kirk sat in the captain’s chair, impatiently drumming his fingers on the armrest. In the transporter room, Security Chief Giotto was standing by with a search party, all they were waiting for now was clearance from Starbase security.
“Uhura, what’s taking them so long?” Kirk asked impatiently.
“Sir,” Uhura’s eyes were wide. “I just got a message from Starbase security. We don’t have clearance to beam down. The station is on lockdown.”
“What?” Kirk jumped out of his seat and went over to the communications station.
“They say they’re performing a major search operation… for an escaped terrorist.” Uhura took out her earpiece and looked at the Captain. “Sir, it’s a Cespian. One of the Cespians who took hostages here last year.”
Kirk inhaled deeply. Coincidence? It didn’t seem likely.
“Contact Commodore Stocker. Explain the situation, tell him we’re happy to help and if his people find Spock and Bones, I want to know immediately.”
McCoy was crying. Fear, frustration and defeat mingled with one predominant emotion – grief. He was already grieving for Spock. Even though the Vulcan was still alive, it would most likely be only a matter of one or two more shocks and he would be gone. It tore at McCoy’s heart how Spock was fighting unconsciousness, which would at least have granted him some relief from the pain in his final moments, but the Vulcan, still believing that Joanna’s life depended on his endurance, refused to give into the darkness that threatened to swallow him.
Just as Tengor set the dial to 15000 volts, McCoy heard a loud crash and the door of his prison flew wide open, revealing a specialist security team of five, all pointing their weapons at him. McCoy’s heart skipped a beat. Perhaps it was not too late.
“He’s in there, you idiots,” he shouted at the five guards, pointing to the room next door. “Stun him, quickly!”
He turned to back to the window behind which Tengor, clearly aware of the commotion outside, had quickly placed his hand on the button. Spock writhed in agony until seconds later, a phaser beam caught Tengor in the back, causing him to fall to the floor and the flow of electricity to subside. Spock, too, fell to the floor like a rag doll, completely unmoving.
McCoy was out the door and inside the other room in seconds, kneeling down beside Spock. The air in the room smelled of burned flesh and as McCoy took Spock’s hand to check for a pulse, he could see that the insides of his hands were badly burned, the skin throwing angry blisters and beginning to peel off.
McCoy tore his eyes away from the gruesome sight and determined that there was a more immediate problem. No pulse, no sign of breathing. He turned Spock on his side and began CRP. He massaged the heart in Vulcan’s side and bent down to press his lips to Spock’s, praying this would not be the last time he’d get to kiss him.
Miraculously, during the second round of CPR, Spock took a shuddering breath and the heart under McCoy’s hands began beating again.
“Oh, thank God,” the doctor panted. “Spock? Spock, can you hear me?”
Spock slowly opened his eyes, looking up at the doctor, first confused, then with an expression of utter horror, his breathing quickening dangerously.
“Leonard, he whispered, “I’m sorry, Leonard, I couldn’t save her. Ni'droi'ik nar-tor…”
“Spock!” McCoy’s Vulcan was not great, but this phrase he understood – forgive me.
“Spock listen to me! Joanna is fine!”
But Spock did not seem to understand. He was still speaking in Vulcan with McCoy only understanding a couple of words.
“…thonau (anguish, McCoy translated)… pula'tusa (mourning?)… kafusik (ashamed)…”
“Spock, please, listen” McCoy tried again, but suddenly Spock eyes rolled back into his head and he lay motionlessly once again.
“Make contact with the Enterprise,” McCoy shouted to one of the security people. “I need to get him to sickbay.”
McCoy looked up and saw Jim standing in the doorway, fear and grief etched into his features. McCoy had just finished treating Spock’s internal injuries and the cardiac arrhythmia and was about to get to work on the burns on his hands. He had only taken a small break to call Joanna, just to make sure she was safe. It had been difficult not to let her see how shaken he was, but in front of Jim he didn’t have to pretend.
“How is he, Bones?” Kirk asked, taking a step into the room.
McCoy sighed. “He’ll live, Jim. But it’s taken a lot out of him and I’m not sure…” McCoy’s voice broke and he had to take a moment to compose himself. “I don’t know if there’s permanent damage to his brain. When he woke up on the base, he seemed… confused and not really able to communicate.”
“Bones, I’m so sorry.” Kirk came closer and pulled the doctor into a tight embrace. A sob escaped the doctor’s throat.
“Thanks, Jim,” he said, stepping back and wiping his eyes. “It’s been a tough day.”
Jim nodded. “I’ll leave you two alone,” he said. “Keep me updated.”
McCoy sat back down next to Spock and carefully took one of his injured hands into his own. The long, graceful fingers were still curled as though they were holding the paddles of the electric shock machine. McCoy released a muscle relaxant into each hand and watched the fingers uncurl. Then, he carefully began to clean the burns and finally wrapped Spock’s hands in bandages. He wouldn’t be able to use the dermal regenerator to treat the burns until Spock’s muscles stopped spasming uncontrollably – this would just tear open the newly regenerated skin.
McCoy carefully ran his hand through Spock’s hair and pressed a kiss on his forehead between his eyes.
“I love you,” he mumbled. “I love you so very much.”
Phew, almost done - there's only one more chapter after this! Thanks for sticking with the story so far:) By the way. the Vulcan in this chapter is taken from the fantastic Vulcan Language Dictionary at www.starbase-10.de/vld/ (yes, that's right, Starbase 10, haha)
Spock opened his eyes, blinking into the semi-darkness of the room. His body felt weak, drained. He couldn’t quite seem to remember where he was or what had happened. He raised his arms to look at his hands, which were wrapped in bandages. Suddenly, a spasm went through his left arm, the muscles cramping painfully before going slack again, making his arm fall back onto the blankets. Curious. It was almost like an electric…
Spock drew in a sharp breath as all of a sudden the memories came crashing back into his mind. The message, Tengor, electric shocks and– Joanna. No. He had lost consciousness. He had failed her. He was alive but she was… she was…
McCoy had left Spock’s room just for a minute to get some coffee from the replicator in the sickbay’s main treatment room when suddenly a biobed monitor went wild, alarm signals blaring in the next room – Spock’s room.
McCoy dropped the cup of coffee he was holding, spilling its contents all over the floor and hurried to Spock’s side. The Vulcan had half-raised himself up on his elbow and looked like he was about to be sick. Sweat coated his skin and his breathing was rapid. This, McCoy realized, was what had triggered the alarm. Spock was hyperventilating and now looked like he was about to pass out. Upon seeing the doctor, Spock’s face contorted in intense pain, tears beginning to run down his cheeks.
Shocked, McCoy grabbed Spock by the shoulders, trying to ease him back onto the bed. He had never seen the Vulcan cry before. Even when they were alone, Spock usually carefully controlled his emotions, sometimes offering McCoy little glimpses but nothing more. This was clearly a full-on breakdown, something McCoy had never expected to see from Spock and desperately wanted for him to never experience again.
“Spock!” McCoy said, “Spock, stop, it’s alright!”
“Joanna,” Spock managed between sobs. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
“Spock, listen to me!”
“Leonard, you don’t know…”
“No, listen to me, Spock!” McCoy slid his arm around Spock’s shoulders and sat down on the bed next to him, bringing his face close to Spock’s.“You don’t know. It was a trick, a ruse. Tengor was never anywhere near Joanna. She’s fine. She’s alright. She’s alive!”
Spock stared at him for a moment, his body still trembling, then the tension left his body and he fell back against McCoy, tears still coming. The doctor pulled him close, realizing that his own face was wet with tears.
Eventually, Spock quieted and McCoy carefully eased him down so that he lay on his left side, so as not to put pressure on his heart, which the doctor could feel beating as he slid his hand around Spock’s torso, cuddling up against him and pressing a kiss into the back of his neck.
“Leonard,” Spock half turned around. “I apologize for the emotional display. It seems when it comes to Joanna… or to yourself, I am not in control of my emotions.”
“Are you seriously apologizing to me about showing emotions?” McCoy almost laughed.
“On Vulcan such a display would be considered highly distasteful,” Spock said, swallowing hard.
“Even if it was because you thought your daughter had been killed and you were tortured trying to prevent it?” McCoy asked incredulously.
“Leonard… Joanna is not my daughter.”
“Of course she’s your daughter, Spock,” McCoy said earnestly. “Look what you were willing to do for her. You love her, she loves you. And I love you too by the way, so yeah, she is your daughter, alright?”
Spock took a deep breath but was otherwise silent for a moment. When he spoke again, his voice was tinged with emotion.
“In that case, I believe an emotional display might be considered understandable even on Vulcan.”
“Well, good,” McCoy commented. “I’m glad we talked about it. And now you should get some sleep.”
Spock nodded. “Logical,” he said, but suddenly drew in a sharp breath and stiffened beside McCoy.
“What’s wrong?” McCoy asked, alarmed.
“I’m experiencing some discomfort from muscle spasms,” Spock answered.
“Yeah,” McCoy sighed. “That’s an after effect of the shocks. I’m afraid there isn’t anything I can give you for it, we just have to wait for them to pass. Where does it hurt?”
“Currently, the cramping affects my abdominal muscles,” Spock stated, “however, the pain is manageable, please do not concern yourself.”
McCoy harrumphed. “I will concern myself when I damn well please.”
He slid his hands under Spock’s shirt and began to massage the rigid muscles by running his hand over the Vulcans stomach in circular motions. This seemed to help as after a while the muscles relaxed, but Spock did not.
“Spock,” McCoy tried again. “Please tell me what’s wrong. You really need to rest but you’re about as relaxed as a Klingon around a Tribble.”
Spock turned around, his eyes cast down. “This is not logical,” he began, “but in spite of your assurances that Joanna is alright, I wish I could see for myself this is true.”
Spock finally met the doctor’s gaze and McCoy’s heart seemed to melt.
“Say no more,” McCoy chuckled, planting a kiss on Spock’s cheek before getting up.
A few moments later, he returned carrying a pad.
“Daddy,” Joanna’s voice sounded through sickbay. “This is the second time you’re calling me in two days. The other kids will think I’m homesick,” she complained.
McCoy put the pad down on Spock’s bedside table.
“Hi Spock!” Joanna grinned happily upon seeing the Vulcan, then she cocked her head. “Why are you in sickbay?” she asked in a more serious tone.
“Spock has a… tummy ache, darling.” McCoy answered for him, registering the plainly visible relief on the Vulcan’s face. “I was wondering if you could sing him a lullaby to help him sleep?”
“Of course!” Joanna beamed. “Feel better, Spock!” Then she began:
In the tree top.
When the wind blows,
The cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks,
The cradle will fall,
And I will catch it,
Baby and all.”
“Thanks, sweetie,” McCoy whispered, looking at Spock’s closed eyes. I think it worked.”
“Ok, daddy. I gotta go now, we’re going on a hike!” Joanna smiled. “Love you both!”
McCoy put away the pad and got back into bed with Spock, continuing to stroke his abdomen.
“Thank you, Leonard,” Spock whispered before falling asleep. “I also love you both.”
That's it, folks, story complete! I know that at least one of you would have liked to see the plot go a bit differently - PrairieDawn had the lovely idea of making Joanna the hero - and I'm happy to say there will be another installment of this series where I will try to comply with that request :) For now, I hope you enjoyed the ending and I'll post more soon!