Title: The Inscrutable Nature of Doctor Leonard H McCoy
Author: Simone Allen
Beta: Garry Owen
Rating: All Audiences
Relationship status: Established
Word count: 2994
Additional Pairings: None
Summary: Wherever Jim Kirk goes, he's flanked on either side and a half step behind by two taller figures in blue.
Doctor Leonard McCoy stretched his arms above his head and leaned back in his chair, yawning widely. “I dunno about you boys, but I’m pooped,” he announced.
Spock placed his hand of cards face down on the table and eyed the doctor suspiciously. “You did not seem unduly fatigued 6.4 minutes ago,” he observed. “When you were winning.”
The third occupant of the room gave a guffaw of laughter as McCoy sat back upright and glared at the Vulcan.
“He’s got a fair point, Bones,” Kirk shrugged.
“What makes you think I’m not still winning?” the doctor said huffily, looking from captain to first officer.
Spock glanced at Kirk, who’d long since folded and was sprawled in his chair cradling a glass of Saurian brandy. The captain smiled at him.
Spock raised an eyebrow as he turned his steady regard back to McCoy. “Your ‘poker face’, as I believe it is called, leaves much to be desired, he informed the doctor, then picked up his cards. “And it is considered bad manners to abandon a game part way through.”
McCoy snorted and picked up his own cards, only to glare at them as if they’d been personally offensive and put them straight back down on the table. “Oh, all right,” he grumpily admitted defeat. “I fold. Spock, you win. Again.”
Kirk chuckled and threw a grin at his friend. “Never mind, Bones. How about a rematch next time we’re all off shift?”
McCoy stood up and gestured at the still-seated first officer. “I would Jim, but who in hell has a chance against a poker face like that?”
Spock tilted his head to one side. “Thank you, Doctor,” he said.
The medic rolled his eyes. “It was not a compliment, Spock,” he said pointedly. He opened his mouth to continue then realised how shattered he felt and decided against it.
“Oh, never mind,” he conceded and yawned once more. “I’m too tired to be bothered arguing.”
He walked towards the door of the captain’s quarters. “Night, Jim.” The doors slid open at his approach. “Oh, and Spock?” he said over his shoulder.
“I’ll take you up on that rematch. I can be pretty darned inscrutable when I want to be y’know!”
The door slid shut behind him and Spock turned to Kirk, both eyebrows raised. “I find that most unlikely,” he said.
Kirk chuckled. “I don’t think you need to lose any sleep over it,” he agreed.
Spock chose not to comment on the likelihood of losing any rest in regard to the doctor’s statement, instead focussing on the man in front of him. “You look tired also, Jim,” he said, getting up out of his seat.
Kirk stood as well, stretching and smiling at the being who noticed everything. “I am,” he acknowledged. “I guess we’d all better get some rest if we want to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for talks with the Sendakans tomorrow.”
Spock made as if to look behind the captain then straightened and folded his arms behind his back as Kirk looked curiously at him. “Your tail could indeed be more abundantly luxuriant, Captain,” he said solemnly before moving towards the door into their shared bathroom.
Kirk’s delighted laughter echoed behind him as the door slid shut and he allowed himself a moment of satisfaction before he stripped and stepped into the sonic shower.
“I don’t believe it for one damned minute. You’re pulling my leg!”
Kirk and Spock could hear the distinctive southern tones of the chief medical officer before they even entered the transporter room.
“Calm yourself, Doctor,” Scotty was saying in his equally distinctive Scottish brogue as the captain and first officer walked through the door.
“Ah, good mornin’, gentlemen,” the engineer greeted them. “Perhaps ye could settle a little argument now yer here?”
“I’m sure we’ll give it a go, Scotty,” Kirk agreed genially.
“The good doctor here dinna believe yon Sendakans are descended from the same stock as the Vulcans.”
Kirk spared a sideways glance at his first officer, who looked as unruffled as ever.
“Over to you, Mr Spock.”
McCoy turned to Spock, bouncing on his toes with barely contained glee. “Well, Spock. Is it true?”
Spock ignored the question and moved to the transporter pad. “We are scheduled for arrival in 1.4 minutes, Captain.”
“Now hang on a minute,” McCoy was not to be distracted that easily. “Do you mean to tell me that the Sendakans, a people renowned for their,” he gave a discreet cough, “um, ‘emotional receptiveness’ and some pretty lavish parties to boot, are related to you? You, Spock, of all people?”
Spock looked at the doctor through narrowed eyes and Kirk barely restrained a snort of laughter as he stepped up onto the transporter pad beside his first officer. He’d bet every credit he had that his chief medical officer had most decidedly not neglected to read the mission briefing notes on the origins of the Sendakan people.
“Are you suggesting Spock doesn’t know how to have fun, Bones?” He couldn’t keep the amusement from his voice.
McCoy stepped up on Spock’s other side. “Well, that depends, Jim,” he offered. “If by fun, you mean do I think he might occasionally indulge himself in an extra page or two of the Mathematics ‘R’ Us Journal before he snuggles up in his thermal jammies, then yes, I’d say he’s the party animal of the century. Otherwise…”
“Doctor,” Spock finally rose to the bait. “A shared genetic lineage does not necessarily indicate similar proclivities will exist in two cultures centuries later. The presumption that it does would be illogical in the extreme.”
McCoy lifted his eyebrows and gave a self-satisfied smile as he folded his arms across his chest. “Why, thank you, Mr Spock,” he said.
Spock raised an eyebrow back at him. “It was not a compliment,” he said, echoing the doctor’s words of the previous evening.
Kirk was still chuckling as he materialised on Sendaka, flanked on either side by his two friends. He glanced at each in turn and gave a fond shake of the head at the innocent looks he got back from both. He honestly would not be able to say who got the most pleasure from their long running, good-natured bickering, them or him.
He plastered on his best ‘pleased to meet you’, diplomat’s smile and strode forward to greet the Sendakan high commissioner and his aides, McCoy and Spock a step behind him.
Commissioner Zelan was a tall, humanoid being with an almost turquoise cast to his skin that perfectly set off a pair of bright blue eyes. He gave off an air of serenity and calm that was emphasised by the silky, flowing robes that, by the looks of those in the welcoming party, were habitually worn by his people.
The garments somehow made the wearers look both modest and sensual at the same time, Kirk thought. He glanced towards his science officer. Perhaps there were more similarities between the Sendakans and the Vulcans than he’d thought.
Zelan raised his index and middle fingers to his forehead in a kind of salute and the three StarFleet officers returned the greeting before Kirk introduced them.
The commissioner acknowledged each with a nod and a slight smile, then turned to move towards a rather grand looking building just behind him.
“If you would please step this way, I would ask you to complete the necessary arrival documents,” he said.
“Well whaddya know,” McCoy muttered to himself. “They’re just like the Vulcans after all.”
Commissioner Zelan paused, turned to look at him, and nodded. “In matters of accurate record-keeping, Doctor McCoy, indeed we are,” he said.
McCoy blushed at the unexpected response and Spock threw a glance his way before turning back to address Zelan. “And also in matters of hearing, would it be correct to assume, Commissioner?” he asked, ignoring the pointed glare from the doctor.
The Sendakan’s smile widened in a distinctly un-Vulcan manner. “We are proud to share in the heritage of Vulcan,” he answered, “and we look forward to exploring our differences as well as our similarities.”
Spock nodded in acknowledgement as the group continued towards the building, which appeared to house some sort of official government office.
Once inside, Zelan gestured to a table that had been placed in the grand entrance hallway. Covering the table was a plush, red velvet cloth with gold edging, on which had been placed a large book, left open.
“This way please, gentlemen,” the Sendakan said, ushering them towards it. His entourage stood back, allowing the commissioner and their guests to move forward alone.
Kirk stopped in front of the book and looked down at it. The pages were blank except for a list of questions in a wide margin, the first being ‘name of honoured guest’.
It seemed to be a visitors’ book of sorts. It was of a type that could be found in historic buildings on planets across the galaxy, including his own. It seemed that on Sendaka, new arrivals on the planet were expected to record their presence in old-fashioned permanence.
Commissioner Zelan produced a gold pen and held it towards the captain, laid flat across both his palms in an almost reverent way. Kirk smiled as he reached out and carefully took it. As traditions went, this one was far less onerous than many, and cultures that revered books and writing were, in his experience, generally pretty easy to get on with.
So far, so good. If the rest of the meeting went as well, the Federation would soon be able to send in a negotiation team to barter to their hearts’ content with regard to setting up a trade agreement with this world. He turned to the book and set about filling in the answers to the questions.
It soon became apparent that the Sendakans required a little more detail than he’d expected. He filled in his name, home address, date and place of birth, then his height (he added a couple of centimetres), weight (he subtracted the odd pound or two), favourite foods (salad not hamburger), details of his allergies. The next question gave him more of a pause and he glanced towards the commissioner.
“Is there a problem, Captain?”
“Uh, no, not at all. I just wondered why you require this level of detail?”
“A fair question,” Zelan nodded. “You are aware that that ours is a world renowned as a pleasant and entertaining place to be?”
Zelan smiled in Spock’s direction. “It is true that we and the Vulcans are descended from similar stock. But while emotions run deeply through both our peoples, where Vulcans have chosen mastery, we have chosen,” he paused. “I suppose ‘to channel’ our feelings would be the best description.”
Kirk frowned. “I’m not sure I understand.”
Zelan pointed to the book. “This is a way in which we strive to make each guest feel at home and welcome on our world. It is typical of our way of life.
“As we find it logical that each member of our society should be free to channel their emotions into whatever endeavour suits their personality and leads to contentment, so we believe that that the more information we possess about our guests, the less likelihood there is of inadvertent misunderstandings or of offence being caused.”
He inclined his head towards the book over which the pen in the captain’s hand now hovered, and a slight look of worry crossed his face. “It is, of course, not required that you complete any question that makes you feel uncomfortable. That would entirely negate the purpose of this endeavour.”
Kirk couldn’t help but smile at words that he could almost hear his Vulcan first officer uttering. He glanced at Spock and McCoy then back at Zelan.
“I’m more than happy to answer the questions, Commissioner,” he assured him. “We’re very thankful for your efforts to make us feel welcome.”
Zelan bowed slightly. “If you will excuse us, Captain, we will leave you and your officers to your answers while we prepare to stand in your honour in the inner chamber room,” he indicated a doorway at the far end of the entrance hall.
Kirk nodded in acknowledgement. Unlike the matter of filling in a questionnaire, the custom of going on ahead of guests to form an honour guard for them as they entered a room was included in the information StarFleet already held on his world.
After Zelan and his party left, Kirk finished off the rest of the questions then held out the pen to Spock and McCoy.
“Who wants to go first?”
“After you, Mr Spock,” McCoy gestured magnanimously, and Spock reached to take the pen.
The Vulcan moved up to the table. Kirk’s details were on the left hand page, leaving the right for his first officer to complete.
McCoy went to stand next Spock, peering curiously down at the questions.
Kirk could have pinpointed the exact moment when Spock came to the same question that had caused his captain to pause, even without McCoy’s muffled snort of laughter.
Spock looked up and met Kirk’s twinkling eyes. The captain smiled at him and held out his hands to either side of his body. “When in Rome…?” he said, hoping the tone made his open-ended intention clear.
Spock looked back down at the page. The next question to be answered was multiple choice. He made the decision easily enough but permitted a slight sigh of resignation as he braced himself and ticked the appropriate box.
“You what?!” McCoy exploded, predictably, all the diplomatic decorum of a moment ago forgotten as he watched the science officer put his tick on the page.
Spock turned his attention to the doctor, putting on the ‘rather puzzled by Humans’ look that he knew served to drive McCoy to distraction.
“Is there a problem?”
McCoy looked from Spock’s calm to the tick on the page, to Spock, to the page again.
It was there in black and white, however many times he looked.
“You’re gay?!” he finally yelled at the Vulcan, his eyes wide with shock.
Spock folded his arms and tilted his head to one side, allowing his frown to deepen slightly.
“I have never previously been accused of being light-hearted or merry in temperament,” he offered.
McCoy started spluttering, for once lost for words.
Kirk moved to clap him on the back as though rescuing someone from choking, meeting Spock’s soft brown eyes as he did so.
‘Is this ok?’ he sent silently across their bond.
‘Yes, T’hy’la,’ came the fond reply, ‘we had already agreed our closest friend should be informed and,’ he nodded towards McCoy, ‘I have to admit his reaction is most amusing’.
McCoy stumbled under a particularly enthusiastic whack across the shoulder blades, and moved to grab the captain’s arm. “Jesus, Jim, will you stop that! You’re not even hitting me in the right place, goddammit.”
As the captain obediently stopped, McCoy stared at the Vulcan standing in front of him, the stern visage giving off its usual image of composure.
“Why the hell didn’t you tell me?” the doctor demanded, a little of his hurt feelings at being left in the dark seeping into the tone.
Spock turned to the captain, his outwardly well-hidden indecision on how to deal with the situation clear to Kirk through the newly forged link between them.
Kirk slung his arm companionably around the doctor’s shoulders.
“We were kind of waiting for the right moment, Bones,” he said, then paused to leave the words hanging in the air.
The doctor took a few seconds to connect the dots before he moved his head so he could stare at his best friend.
He gulped. “You?” he finally got out. “You and…,” he turned back to Spock. “You?”
Kirk nodded, his expression suddenly serious. “It’s new, Bones,” he said quickly. “We’ve barely gotten used to it ourselves.” He moved his hand to grip the doctor’s arm. “We’d already agreed to tell you as soon as we could.”
McCoy gaped from one to the other for several long moments, then fixed his eyes on Spock as he slowly shook his head.
“Well, good luck, Jim,” he said, letting in the southern drawl that he always used to reassure patients that everything was ok. “You’re sure gonna need it.”
Spock raised an eyebrow as he folded his arms across his chest and regarded the doctor.
He turned back to the captain. “Did our decision to inform the doctor of the new aspects of our relationship include enlightening him as to my lack of ‘jammies’ or mathematics journals while in bed?” he asked conversationally.
Kirk let out a surprised burst of laughter as McCoy turned a rather unusual shade of puce.
“No,” the doctor yelped. “It most certainly did not.”
He stalked off in the direction of the Sendakan chamber room, muttering indignantly under his breath.
Spock stared after him. “He is most assuredly not inscrutable,” he decided.
Kirk grinned at him. “No,” he agreed. “Leonard McCoy is many things, but inscrutable is not one of them.”
He nodded in the direction of the chamber. “After you, Mr Spock.”
Captain and first officer walked up to the door, where the chief medical officer was waiting, bouncing impatiently on his toes.
The three turned and straightened as one.
The Sendakans saluted in the finest tradition of their world as the man in gold walked through the door first, flanked as always on either side and half a step behind by two taller figures in blue.