RATING: PG for explicit descriptions of some superficial disease symptoms;
if you are easily grossed out, you might want to pass this one by.
CODES: K&S, Mc, hurt/comfort
SUMMARY: Sequel to "The Immunity Syndrome" in which Spock is found to
contracted an alien disease from the giant ameba. He and McCoy spend their
leave on Starbase 6 caring for Spock and trying to find a cure.
DISCLAIMER: For lo, the Deity Paramount doth own these characters; I
frolic briefly with them in their playground.
McCoy sat at his desk, staring into his empty
coffee mug. He had just
spent a full day giving crew physicals after the Enterprise's encounter
with the giant ameba; the last one--Spock's--had been completed a few
minutes ago, and McCoy was relaxing in his office as he waited for Kirk to
arrive. He had asked to see Kirk because of the results of Spock's
examination--of all the crew, only Spock was not quickly regaining his
normal strength and health as the ship moved further and further from their
last contact point with the ameba before it was destroyed.
Oddly, McCoy had not been aware before this
that the ameba had had
*any* effect on the Vulcan, and Kirk had not mentioned noticing any
evidence in him while on the Bridge of the same strength-draining effect
that had afflicted the Enterprise's Human crew complement. Perhaps, McCoy
reflected, "relaxing" might be too positive a word for what he was doing
and feeling, now. "Anticipating" might be more accurate--or "worrying".
Finally, Kirk arrived and approached McCoy's
desk. "I take it from
your request to see me that you've finished all the crew physicals," he
McCoy nodded. "It's a good thing we're
en route to Starbase 6, Jim.
After living on stimulants for three days, I'm prescribing rest for the
entire crew--you and me included--and Starbase 6 is a good place to get in
some R-and-R," he told Kirk.
"I know," Kirk replied understandingly.
"I've cleared two weeks for
shore leave and arranged for the base to provide back-up personnel to man
the ship shile we recuperate--it'll be a good chance to get some
maintenance work done on the ship, too," he informed McCoy. Then he waited
for the Doctor to say something else. "Well? Is that all you found--that
we're all tired and need rest?" he demanded finally, adding to himself,
//*I* could've told you that.//
"That, and we're gradually regaining our strength
as time passes and
we move further away from the ameba's last location. With one exception."
McCoy hesitated. "Jim--after Spock came back from the ameba, you *did* run
decontamination on him, didn't you?"
"Yes, of course, I ordered decon--for him and
the shuttle, both. You
know that's standard procedure," Kirk asserted, returning McCoy's gaze in
instinctive concern. "What are you getting at, Bones? Is something wrong
"It could be nothing--something about his hybrid
anatomy causing a
delayed reaction to the ameba, maybe; I haven't pinned down the cause yet,"
McCoy hedged. "But whatever the reason is, Spock's starting to show the
same symptoms the rest of us were showing when we were still inside the
ameba--weakness, lack of energy and so forth. I'm releasing him, for now,
but I want him to stay under surveillance--in case he hs to come back."
"Where is he?" Kirk asked.
"Still in the examination room," McCoy replied.
"I told him to just
lie still and rest for a few minutes. He had enough energy to argue with
me about it, do he's not *too* bad off." //Not yet,// McCoy added
silently, not wanting to let Kirk know the true depth of his concern. So
far, there was no need to worry him unnecessarily. "Go on in and see him.
Tell him he can go," he said aloud.
Kirk nodded, turning for the examination room door.
Kirk glanced back at him questioningly.
"...you're off-duty now, aren't you?"
Kirk nodded again.
"Keep an eye on him. Try to convince
him to go on leave with you,"
McCoy advised. "I tried to discuss it with him--he's talking about
spending his leave alone doing research, staying on the ship. I want him
to go on leave, and I want somebody around to make sure he actually rests."
"He'll go on leave, all right," Kirk assured
him. "I'll talk to him
about it." Then he turned away and stepped through the door.
Spock was just starting to sit up on the examination
table when Kirk
approached him, and Kirk could tell from the relieved expression on
Christine Chapel's face that she'd been having a hard time keeping the
Vulcan where he was. "It's all right, Nurse--Dr. McCoy says he can go,
now," Kirk told her.
"Thank goodness," Christine intoned softly,
sighing. "He's being
impossible, as usual."
Spock directed a raised eyebrow at her, appearing
"I was merely expressing my objections to remaining here when my
examination is obviously concluded," he countered innocently.
Christine did not bother to respond beyond
waving him off as she
turned to go.
Kirk waited until she had left the room before
speaking again. "How
are you feeling?" he asked.
"Somewhat tired," Spock admitted reluctantly.
"But it has been less
that two days since we left the ameba, and I was more directly exposed to
it than anyone else."
"*And* you haven't had any sleep since then,"
Kirk pointed out, as
Spock slid off the table. "Come on, I want you to go to your quarters and
get some rest."
"It is not necessary for you to escort me,"
Spock informed him coolly,
noticing that Kirk was following him as he headed for the door.
"I just want to make sure you actually lie
down in your bed and *stay*
there," Kirk explained wryly. "I know how you are about getting around
orders to rest, and I want to make sure you follow McCoy's instructions,
Spock decided there was no point in arguing
the matter with Kirk, who
became positively unmovable when he was worried about his Vulcan friend and
determined to help him.
Spock remained silent until they reached his
cabin and went inside.
"Captain, surely you have more important matters to attend to than
preventing me from leaving my bed," he objected then, even as he moved
through his bed chamber and prepared to lie down, not really expecting to
Kirk continued to follow him determinedly.
"Look--we're both off-
duty, and I don't have anything to do that can't wait until I have more
energy," he told Spock honestly. "As soon as I'm sure you're going to stay
put, I plan to go next door and get some sleep, myself."
"I see." Spock gave in finally, sitting
down on his bed. As he
lifted his legs onto the bed, he noticed a heaviness in his limbs that had
not been there before. Perhaps Kirk was right; perhaps Spock was more
tired than he himself had thought.
Kirk sat beside the Vulcan on his bed as Spock
lay down; there was no
time for further discussion, since Spock was asleep within minutes. Kirk
stayed long enough to be sure that Spock was going to stay asleep--then
went to his own cabin and followed Spock's example.
END PART 1
Kirk overslept the next day and was late reporting
on duty, which was
bothersome enough in itself, but Spock was even later--it was nearly 1000
hours when he walked onto the Bridge. Having watched the rather sluggish
performance of all the Bridge crew since leaving the ameba, however, and
still being worried about Spock, Kirk determined not to reprimand him as he
sidled guiltily up to the command chair immediately after entering the
"I must apologize, Captain. I...only
awoke half an hour ago," Spock
murmured contritely, his eyes lowered in shame, hoping fervently that no
one else could hear him.
"Fortunately, we're en route to Starbase 6
and aren't likely to be
dealing with anything important until after we leave, so your absence
didn't interfere with anything," Kirk pointed out understandingly.
Spock's head remained bowed, and he said nothing.
"Spock--you needed the sleep," Kirk added softly.
"It's all right,
this time--no harm done. Besides..." he lowered his voice even further.
"...I was an hour late, myself."
Spock looked up doubtfully to find Kirk smiling reassuringly at him.
"An occasional late start isn't going to hurt
after what we've all just been through," Kirk concluded kindly. "Go on to
your station, Spock."
Spock nodded gratefully in response and turned
away to comply,
realizing that Kirk wasn't going to give him--or himself--a formal
reprimand. At least, not this time.
Kirk kept an eye on Spock for the duration
of their duty shift, noting
that he performed his duties with his usual efficency...but somewhat more
slowly than usual. Everyone seemed to be working in slow motion, obviously
still exhausted, but it was far more noticeable in Spock--whose Vulcan
stamina usually kept him from succumbing to the tiredness and other Human
physical shortcomings that the rest of them were subject to. Kirk began to
consider the possibility that McCoy had hinted at earlier--that Spock might
have somehow been exposed to something while out in the shuttle conducting
a closer investigation of the ameba.
After their shift was over and Spock left the
Bridge, Kirk lingered
before following him, turning to Uhura. "Contact the Science section. I
want some biotechs to go to the hangar bay and go over Spock's shuttle from
bow to stern--full medical and biological scans," he instructed.
"Yes, Captain." Uhura hurriedly complied.
Kirk had barely walked into his quarters when
his communicator beeped.
He was surprised to find McCoy on the other end of the line, having half-
expected to hear from the biotechs first. "I just got off-duty, Bones.
What's up?" he asked curiously.
"Jim, can you come to Sickbay?" McCoy questioned.
"Sure--I want to check on Spock as I go.
He still seems pretty
tired," Kirk replied.
"*Now*, Jim. I have something I want
to show you first," McCoy
Something about his tone made Kirk decide to
comply. "I'll be right
down. Kirk out."
Kirk found McCoy in the lab with Christine,
who was sitting at a table
bearing a biocomputer and medscanner with a full-sized viewer. McCoy
directed Kirk's attention to the viewer. "Spock definitely picked up
*something* when he was out in that shuttle," he told Kirk. "This is the
latest scan of Spock's blood, taken during his last examination," McCoy
Kirk studied the screen, noting the black,
worm-like things floating
in Spock's blood, some wrapping themselves around healthy, green blood
cells, sending out web-like tendrils of black thread that encased the cells
with increasing density until the cells turned black and stopped their
activity. "Disease bacteria?" Kirk deduced.
McCoy nodded. "Though what kind and what
symptoms they're likely to
produce, I can only guess at," he confirmed, shaking his head. "It looks
like some kind of blood disorder, but I'll be damned if I can tell how it
progresses. I don't know if those strands form some kind of cocoon and
*that* destroys the cells, or if it's something in the bacteria themselves
that makes the cell turn black and stop functioning. At this stage, I
don't even know if not knowing the difference even matters."
"Is it fatal?" Kirk asked bluntly.
McCoy and Christine regarded each other uncertainly
answered. "It could be, if I can't find something to counteract it in
time...or it could be something that runs its course after a certain amount
of time and disappears. With something this alien and outside my
experience, all I really know at this stage is that Spock has it."
Kirk considered this silently for a moment.
"All right, tell me what
you know so far about the symptoms," he directed.
"At first, increasing tiredness, inability
to concentrate, occasional
breathing difficulty...there'll be more symptoms later, but I can't predict
what kind yet, because it's not sticking to standard progression patterns
for a blood disorder," McCoy explained worriedly. "In all of our studies
of that ameba, none of us thought to check what kind of bacterial diseases
it might be carrying that we could be susceptible to before sending Spock
out into it," he added regretfully.
Kirk began pacing. "But Spock *and* the
shuttle were both
decontaminated when he returned!" he protested, in frustration.
"Decon only works on external surfaces, Jim.
Apparently, the bacteria
had already infiltrated his body," McCoy reminded him. "All he had to do
was touch a contaminated surface--and he *wasn't* exactly working at peak
efficiency for the last couple of hours he was in that shuttle. He could
have gotten just careless enough toward the end to expose himself to it."
Kirk continued to pace. "But he was inside
the shuttle at all times.
How could that have happened?"
McCoy shrugged elaborately. "You'll find
out. The point is, it *has*
happened, and we're just going to have to watch Spock for symptoms," he
As Kirk stopped pacing and nodded finaly in
"Medical lab. McCoy here," McCoy answered,
the viewer to comm mode as he sat down next to Christine.
Spock's face appeared on the screen, pale and
bearing a somewhat
confused and worried expression. "Doctor...would it be possible for you to
come to my quarters for a moment?" he requested.
"What's wrong, Spock?" McCoy asked anxiously.
"I would rather discuss it with you in person,"
"Be right there. McCoy out." AS
McCoy cut off the frequency and got
up, he spoke to Christine. "Continue with the tests. I should be right
back." Then he grabbed his medikit and headed for the door, followed by
Kirk (who wasn't about to be left behind).
END PART 2
When they arrived at Spock's quarters, they
found the Vulcan sitting
on his bed, apparently examining his hands. McCoy approached him first.
"What's wrong, Spock?" he asked, as he reached Spock's bedside.
Spock showed McCoy his hands. "I was
about to lie down and rest for a
time...when I noticed my hands," he explained. "I seem to have acquired...
some kind of rash."
McCoy sat down next to him on the bed and took
out his medscanner,
running it over Spock's hands as Kirk, too, came curiously to Spock's side.
"Surely this can't have anything to do with
the ameba," Kirk opined
dubiously, studying Spock's hands in concern.
McCoy appeared, for the moment, to ignore him,
still focusing on
Spock. "Does it burn or itch?" the Doctor asked him, then.
Spock shook his head. "Not so far."
"You'll have to watch it and see if that changes,"
McCoy told him.
"At the moment, it doesn't seem like dermatitis or an allergic reaction.
But I'm not sure what else would cause it."
He glanced over at Kirk, who returned his gaze
leave a lot of possibilities, does it?"
Before McCoy could decide whether or not to
respond, Spock spoke
again. "Do either of you know what is causing this?"
"It looks like you've caught something from
that ameba," McCoy
revealed hesitantly. "We don't know exactly what it is, yet--right now, it
resembles some kind of bateria-based blood disorder, but I have no idea
what kind of symptoms to expect as it progresses. I *am* sure it's
responsible for your recent tiredness."
Spock took some time to digest this information. "Is it contagious?"
McCoy shook his head. "I doubt it.
You're the only one so far to
start showing these symptoms; Jim and I are clear, and so is Christine," he
responded, glancing back at Kirk. "It might be a good idea to isolate him
from the rest of the Bridge crew, though, until we're completely sure, and
watch the rest of them for symptoms."
Kirk nodded understandingly. "Want to
confine him to Sickbay, or is
he all right here?"
"For now, his quarters are fine."
Kirk turned back to Spock. "Since we
don't know exactly what we're
dealing with, you're going to have to stay under medical surveillance until
further notice," he told the Vulcan. "You'll need to tell one of us
immediately if you start having any new symptoms."
"Understood," Spock replied, still uncertain what to make of all this.
Before Kirk could say anything else, Spock's
beeped and Spock reached to answer it.
"This is Lieutenant Richards, Mr. Spock.
I was told I could reach the
"One moment, Lieutenant..." Spock turned the
viewer around to face
"Kirk here, Richards. Did you find anything?"
"Yes, sir," Richards replied, nodding.
"Just traces, mainly in and
around the seams of the shuttle's outer hull--we're just now starting to
scan the inside."
"All right, keep me informed--I'll be staying
here for a while, then
you should be able to reach me in my quarters. Kirk out."
As the screen wnt dark and Spock turned off
the communicator, Kirk
communicated silently with McCoy, who then got up and headed for the door.
When the Doctor was gone, Spock looked up at
his Captain expectantly.
"Something else, Jim?"
"Yes--I need to talk to you about something,"
Kirk began, finally
sitting down beside Spock on the latter's bed. "You know we're going to
reach Starbase 6 within the week. What are your plans for shore leave?"
"You are about to suggest that I accompany
you on your leave," Spock
Kirk nodded. "You and McCoy. Under
the circumstances, he'll have to
stay close by."
"Then perhaps *I* should ask *you* that question,"
Kirk almost laughed. "Don't worry, I'm
not planning anything
strenuous--none of us are up to that," he assured Spock understandingly.
"We'll make specific plans once McCoy contacts the Base Hospital and makes
sure they're satisfied that you're not contagious and we're not carrying
whatever-it-is. The point is, you *are* going on leave, not staying here
Spock nodded agreeably. "I do seem increasingly
unfit for duty. As
long as you plan something restful, I see no reason to object," he decided,
laying down finally with a sigh.
Kirk worriedly recalled a time not too long
ago, just before their
encounter with the giant ameba, when Spock had stoically boasted of being
the only crewmember aboard *not* on the verge of exhaustion; to hear him
admit to similar tiredness now was a clear indication of the seriousness of
his condition. "You get some rest," he admonished kindly, getting up.
"I'm going back to my quarters to wait for Richards' final report--I'll be
there if you need me."
Spock just nodded again in acknowledgement as Kirk turned to go.
END PART 3
An hour or so later, Kirk was again contacted
by Lieutenant Richards
after the latter had finished scanning the inside of Spock's shuttle; Kirk
instructed Richards to meet him in Sickbay with his tricorder and make his
report to McCoy. Then he himself left for Sickbay.
Soon, he, Richards, and McCoy were gathered
in the medical lab,
looking at Richards' tricorder playback on McCoy's desk viewer. It showed
an extreme close-up of one of the shuttle's interior bulkhead seams,
panning down to what was eventually revealed to be a corner of the
helm/navigation console, and Richards pointed out something that looked
like white stipple allong the seam and spreading across the console. "This
was before we ran decon on the inside of the shuttle--the preliminary
bioscan," he told Kirk and McCoy. "As you can see, there was considerable
contamination; our medscans turned up this same microscopic bacteria
scattered over various interior surfaces--bulkheads, chairs, the control
Kirk shook his head as the scene on the viewer
panned across the
console, showing more white stipple, noting how it seemed more concentrated
in certain areas toward the front of the console--in hand- or finger-print-
shaped blotches. "That must be how he contracted it," Kirk concluded. "he
would've had his hands all over that console."
Richards just nodded in agreement.
"All right, so we know how he got it," McCoy
observed. "By the time
Spock himself went through decon, the disease had already been absorbed
into his body."
Kirk looked hard at Richards. "You're
sure the interior
decontamination got all of it?"
Richards nodded again. "We ran it three
times, with three separate
medscans, to check for any remaining bacteria. That shuttle is clean,
inside and out," he asserted.
"All right. Before you dismiss your men,
better go over the rest of
the hangar bay again--make sure that bacteria hasn't spread elsewhere."
"Yes, sir." Richards turned to go.
Once he had left, Kirk turned his attention to McCoy. "*Now* what?"
As McCoy opened his mouth to answer, Christine
summoned him from
across the room. "Doctor, come look at this!"
Kirk and McCoy went to join her at another
medscan viewer on a table
some distance away. "This scan was taken in Spock's quarters, when you
examined his rash," she told McCoy.
The viewer showed a cross-section of Spock's
skin, shot through with a
webbing of green blood vessels, enlarged for easier viewing. Many of the
previously-seen diseased blood cells had bonded into chains of swollen
platelets that had accumulated along the vessel walls nearest the epdermis.
As they watched, these platelets grew bigger in groups of two and three at
a time, eventually erupting through the vessel wall and pushing their way
up through the skin to the surface.
"What the hell--?" Kirk demanded, in alarm.
"That makes it definite--this alien disease,
whatever it is, is
responsible for the skin discoloration," McCoy concluded. "But it's not a
rash, nor is it any kind of normal blood disorder."
Kirk looked at him expectantly as McCoy met his eyes.
"The closest analogy I can draw is the plague
last year on Belaris--
the symptomology is starting to go along the same lines: looks like a
standard blood disorder at first, then evolves into something else
The Enterprise had not been involved in responding
to that medical
emergency, but there had been subspace chatter about it for several months
after ships began carrying news of it across Federation space--plus McCoy
knew one of the doctors who had been on the medical team sent by Starfleet
to stop the plague's spread. The symptoms' description had been among the
most sensational bits of information to come out of the incident. There
just weren't that many diseases still enountered in the 23rd century that
produced such things as blood-boils all over the bodies of their victims,
and Kirk couldn't help making a face at the memory of it. "That's an awful
messy disease, Bones--and it tends to be fatal, if I remember right," he
"Yes, but at least this gives me a starting
place to look for an
antidote." McCoy glanced at the viewer once more, still worried. "I just
hope I have time--this thing's progressing a little faster than Belarian
plague," he noted, looking over at Christine as he turned to go. "Keep on
top of this, Christine. I'm going to go back to my office and do some more
"Keep me posted, Bones," Kirk called after him.
"Will do, Jim," McCoy responded, just as he
stepped through the door
to his lab office. Kirk, meanwhile, headed for the lab's outer door.
Four days passed, during which Spock's condition
continued to worsen
incrementally, while that of the rest of the crew continued to improve at
approximately the same rate. With Spock now confined to his quarters, Kirk
checked on him whenever he could during the day and tried to spend as much
time as possible with the Vulcan when he was off-duty. That seemed to be
the most he could do for Spock--keep an eye on him and offer him his
company. McCoy, meanwhile, verified the disease's resemblance to Belarian
plague and checked Spock regularly in order to keep track of its progress,
even as he and Christine began work on what they hoped would be the
antidote--increasing his contact with the Base Hospital at Starbase 6 as
the ship drew nearer.
By the night before the Enterprise was due
to arrive, even Spock
himself could no longer deny the disease's effects. The pseudo-rash had
spread over much of his upper body, and he seldom found the energy now for
anything more strenuous than three-dimensional chess with Kirk, who had
decided to spend the evening with him. He and McCoy had concluded that
Spock would have to be told about the disease's resemblence to Belarian
plague, even if the symptoms varied slightly; at least, Spock would have
*some* idea of what to expect as the disease progressed. But so far, Kirk
had procrastinated, talking Spock into the chess game and watching him
carefully as the evening passed. It came as no surprise to either of them
when Spock lost, since he was too tired to concentrate on the game.
After the chess set had been put away, Spock
went back to sit down on
his bed as Kirk followed him and pulled a chair over close to the bed
before sitting down, himself. "I must apologize, Captain. I do not think
I presented much of a challenge, in my present condition," Spock told him
Kirk dismissed the matter with a wave of his
hand. "I don't care
about that. I'm just here for the company," he assured Spock, smiling
"Do you still wish me to go on leave with you?"
Kirk nodded. "First, there's something
you need to know about this
disease. Do you remember the plague on Belaris?"
"Yes...does Dr. McCoy think it resembles that disease, then?"
Kirk nodded again. "And you know what
that means. McCoy and Nurse
Chapel are working on finding the antidote now, but you should be prepared
for the symptoms to worsen while you're onleave," he warned the Vulcan.
"He's already in touch with the medical authorities on Starbase 6, and
they're arranging an out-of-the-way spot where we can take you and keep you
"Not at the Base Hospital?" Spock questioned doubtfully.
"No, Bones talked them out of that," Kirk asserted.
"He'll have to
check in regularly with somebody at the Hospital and keep them apprised of
your condition, but we'll be pretty much on our own."
They both fell silent or a time, lost in thoughts
of Starbase 6--known
throughout Starfleet for the Earth-like setting of the planet it was
situated on. The base was surrounded by parklands built around woods and
meadows with cabins at their outermost boundaries; even the base itself was
dotted with more than the usual number of parks. Kirk had even heard the
sky was blue. It would be a perfect place for his crew and him to rest up-
-and for Spock to hopefully recuperate.
Another thought occurred to Spock as his attention
returned to Kirk.
"Jim...Belarian plague is fatal if the antidote is not received in time.
And what if the antidote does not work on this disease?"
"McCoy will have access to the Hospital's labs--he
plans to put the
antidote together there," Kirk explained, trying to sound encouraging.
"Right now, all we can do is hope it *will* work on any disease with the
same symptoms. Having never dealt with this disease before, that's the
only lead we've got." He watched worriedly as Spock stretched out on the
bed, clearly too tired to stay awake much longer. "Spock...do you hurt
"No, Jim...I only seem to need sleep," Spock responded faintly.
Kirk got up. "I'll get the lights on
the way out," he told Spock
Spock glanced up at him once in acknowledgement,
having no energy for
any further response, though he silently hoped that Kirk would, for once,
really let him *relax* while they were on leave.
END PART 4
Leaves for most of the crew began at 0700 the
next morning, and, after
Kirk had coaxed Spock into donning civilian clothes, he escorted the Vulcan
to the Transporter Room, where McCoy was already waiting to beam down with
The three of them materialized just inside
the gates of the starbase
and were met by a woman in a medical uniform bearing the same rank stripes
as McCoy, standing alongside an aircar being driven by a young man Spock
and Kirk assumed to be an orderly. "You must be from the Enterprise," she
deduced, studying their faces--especially Spock's. "Which of you is Dr.
McCoy raised a hand in response.
"I'm Dr. Lilah DuBois--your liaison with the
Base Hospital while
you're here," she told him, in a business-like manner, running her medical
tricorder over Spock. "My superiors wanted me to take along a ouple of
Security people, but I didn't want to risk exposing any more people than
"You mentioned having a spot set up for us
to stay," McCoy put in,
wanting to distract her from the instinctive medical curiosity that he knew
must be embarrassing Spock.
DuBois nodded. "Yes, it's all ready for
you, and I've been instructed
to take you there--after a few hours of initial quarantine for Commander
Spock, of course."
"Nobody said anything about any quarantine,"
immediately. He had hoped to spare Spock any more discomfort than
necessary--since there would be plenty of that for him later on, if this
disease did indeed continue to follow the symptom pattern of Belarian
plague. "I understood the Hospital's C.O. was satisfied that Spock's
illness was noncommunicable!"
"Yes, I know all about its similarity to Belarian
plague, which isn't
contagious until the final stages, but I also read enough of your report on
that ameba to know that this disease is of completely alien origin--which
means we can't be sure," DuBois countered, moving aside quickly so that
Spock could enter the aircar.
"Dr. DuBois, Captain Kirk and I have already
had extensive exposure,
and we haven't shown any symptoms," McCoy persisted, even as Spock--in no
mood to argue--climbed reluctantly into the aircar's back seat.
"We still have to check you over--as you ought
to know, Doctor--to
make sure neither of you are carrying it before you spend any length of
time outside the medical facility," DuBois reminded him, as Kirk climbed in
McCoy, giving up, followed them into the aircar
as DuBois sat down in
Minutes later, they were at the Base Hospital.
McCoy and Kirk were
re-examined, tested and declared disease-free within a couple of hours, but
when they checked out of the Hospital, they were told by Dr. DuBois (who
had apparently been put in charge of Spock's case) that Spock had to remain
in quarantine. While McCoy lingered behind to discuss the matter with
DuBois, Kirk got directions to Spock's room and went to check on him.
He found Spock in an isolation room whose doorway
was barred by a
force field. There were no guards, but that was the *only* real difference
Kirk saw between Spock's room and a cell in his own ship's Brig--and he saw
also from the control panel for the force field that he would not be able
to de-activate it without authorization. The room was virtually bare
except for a bed, a desk, and some surrounding medical equipment.
Spock, curled up on the bed and seeming half-asleep,
become aware of Kirk's presence and got up when he saw the Human through
the force field, going to meet his Captain as quickly as he was able.
"Jim...I take it you and the Doctor have been released," he greeted Kirk
"Yes, Dr. DuBois says we're all right.
But it looks like she wants to
hang onto you a little longer," Kirk told him regretfully.
"I know--for further observation and tests.
She told me," Spock
returned neutrally, but with a faint edge of some emotion that Kirk could
not identify to his voice. "Although what 'tests' she or her staff could
perform that Dr. McCoy has not run already, I find difficult to fathom."
"Don't worry, Spock--we won't let you stay
in here any longer than
necessary," Kirk promised him. "And we'll stay on base, for now, until you
can join us."
Spock nodded again gratefully in understanding.
"We'll be back later to see you," Kirk added,
turning reluctantly to
Spock, too, turned away in resignation and
went back to bed, still
tired and dismayed at having to remain in isolation longer than he had
planned, even though McCoy had warned him it might be necessary.
When Kirk returned to the check-out desk, McCoy
informed him that
DuBois intended to keep Spock in quarantine for at least another twenty-
four hours. Left with no other alternative, Kirk grudgingly accepted the
situation, and he and McCoy immediately set about finding themselves
quarters for the night. On DuBois' recommendation, they took advantage of
Visiting Officers' Quarters adjacent to the Hospital, upon learning that
there were some vacancies in the former. However, neither really slept
that night--McCoy only sporadically and Kirk not at all.
Spock's next day started early; he was awakened
at 0600 and offered
the Hospital's version of breakfast, which he only nibbled at before
declining. This was followed by a dizzying series of tests and observation
periods, during which he was allowed no visitors except Dr. DuBois and a
limited number of other medical personnel. They poked and prodded him,
asked him personal (and sometimes embarrassing) questions, and in general
made him feel like a zoo specimen, though Spock bore it all as stoically as
possible, knowing it was unavoidable.
By the time Kirk and McCoy were allowed to
visit him, it was afternoon
and Spock was starting to wonder if his twenty-four-hour quarantine were
going to be extended. he hadn't realized it could be possible for him to
have missed his friends so much in such a short time...perhaps it was just
the relief of seeing someone familiar, whose interest in him was more than
scientific, Spock reflected. But that, too, left something to be desired
as a logical explanation of the emotions that filled Spock as Kirk
approached the doorway of his room, McCoy lagging behind.
"We've been here most of the day, but they
wouldn't let us see you
until now," Kirk explained apologetically.
"I was not expecting you before now.
It does not matter," Spock
assured him, also approaching the door.
"How do you feel?" Kirk asked worriedly.
"From what DuBois told us,
I expected to find you in bed."
Spock came as close to the force field barring
the door as he dared.
"She would prefer it, but I am...restless," he admitted slowly.
"Besides...I have only 3.243 hours of my quarantine left. If she does not
order it extended."
"I'll get you out before then, if I can," Kirk assured him.
Spock just nodded appreciatively.
Kirk glanced back at McCoy as the latter moved
up to join him; their
eyes met, each man thinking the same thing--Spock looked exhausted. DuBois
and her staff must have kept him awake for most of the tests. Kirk turned
back finally to Spock. "In the mean time, you try to get some rest. Bones
and I will be back for you as soon as we can."
But Spock found himself oddly reluctant to
leave, and consequently,
Kirk and McCoy, too, lingered, thinking the Vulcan meant to say something
else. In the awkwardness of the moment, for reasons that eluded Spock, he
forgot about the presence of the force field before him and reached out
absently toward Kirk.
"Spock!" Kirk cried instinctively, in
warning, as Spock's fingers hit
the force field and a small shower of sparks sprayed up around his hand.
Spock, however, seemed unaffected, turning
as if nothing had happened
and retreating to his bed.
As Kirk and McCoy finally turned to go, McCoy
couldn't help intoning
to Kirk as they stepped though the door, "He really *is* tired."
Kirk just nodded. He would be glad when
Spock was released and could
go to their cabin and sleep in peace.
END PART 5
Spock slept intermittently for the rest of
the day, unable to get much
rest because of the constant interruptions of various nurses and others as
they continued to study his condition. When Kirk and McCoy, meanwhile,
talked to Dr. DuBois and learned that still more tests were scheduled, it
was McCoy who pointed out that this was not the time to conduct a
symposium; despite her staff's inevotable curiosity about Spock's hybrid
anatomy and he degree to which that might influence this new disease's
effects on him, McCoy and Kirk expected the Vulcan to be released on
schedule, since he hadn't been found to be contagious. They made this
abundantly clear to DuBois.
Still, it was almost the night of the second
day before Spock was
finally released to their care and the three of them were rejoined by Dr.
DuBois, who took them back to her aircar and drove them to their assigned
cabin on the edge of one section of the parklands. It was modern in
appearance with a small front yard leading directly onto the parklands,
only a low wooden fence dividing them, and a back yard bordering an
uncultivated forest. It was quiet and green--just the sort of setting they
had hoped for.
DuBois took them in and showed them around--Kirk
and Spock caught a
distinct impression of throw rugs, a confortable-looking sofa and a
fireplace before she directed their attention to the comm terminal on one
side of the room, pointing out a large, blue button near the middle of the
control console. "If you have any kind of medical emergency, just hit that
big, blue button--it connects with my office comm terminal as well as my
personal one, and I can be here with a med team in five minutes," she told
While she and McCoy continued to talk medicine,
Kirk and Spock
continued to look around the cabin; there was a fireplace at one end of the
living room, a separate dining room and kitchen, three bedrooms (one of
which was obviously meant for Spock, equipped with medical monitors and
other devices), and they even saw a deck and a pool through a back window.
When DuBois was gone, they each went to their
rooms and unpacked, then
Kirk decided to go back to the base for groceries. It was within walking
distance, but Kirk decided he'd better rent an aircar once he got there, in
order to more easily get the groceries back to the cabin. When he
returned, he found Spock in his room, looking around and trying to
familiarize himself with everything in it as McCoy watched him from the
doorway. He turned to look back into the hallway, hearing Kirk's approach.
"I put up the groceries," Kirk annonced quietly. "How's Spock doing?"
"About the same," McCoy replied, in a similar
tone. "I think he's
still feeling a little embarrassed about that quarantine at the Hospital."
Kirk nodded understandingly. "He'll get
over that as soon as he gets
his mind on something else," he opined. "Come on, let's leave him alone
for a while."
McCoy closed the door to Spock's room and followed
Kirk back out to
the living room, where they sat down and talked for a while before deciding
to go to bed early. Kirk checked on Spock as he went back to his own room
and found the Vulcan already asleep.
When Kirk woke up the next morning, rather
late, he found a note from
McCoy on his night table indicating that the Doctor had gone to the
Hospital to meet Christine Chapel and finish getting the antidote ready.
Knowing that meant that Spock had been left alone, Kirk got up and dressed
hurriedly before going to look for him.
He found Spock outside, sitting on a bench
near the deck railing,
looking out at the back yard, and went to join him. As Kirk approached, he
realized that the Vulcan seemed to be having trouble catching his breath.
"Spock, come inside and lie down," he admonished worriedly.
Spock responded by stopping Kirk with an upraised
hand as the Human
neared him. "The skin discoloration...has reached the next stage," he told
Kirk slowly, when he was able to speak. "If the symptomology continues to
follow the pattern of Belarian plague, I should now be contagious."
Kirk realized that Spock was trying to call
his attention to the
series of bumps on the back of the Vulcan's hand. Kirk paused
instinctively, studying them warily. "Blood-boils?" he deduced.
Spock just nodded.
"Do you have them anywhere else?" Kirk asked.
"Not so far, that I have observed. I
only just found these on my hand
when I awoke," Spock explained neutrally, keeping his eyes averted. "I
remember Dr. McCoy's description of the plague. These...boils...will grow
and spread until my whole body is covered. You will not be able to touch
me, or...even look at me."
"Don't worry about that," Kirk advised kindly,
moving toward him
again. "Just...rest and try to take care of yourself. What are you doing
out here, anyway?"
"It is warmer. And the surroundings--it
has been a long time since I
saw so much greenery," Spock explained reasonably.
"It *is* lovely, isn't it?" Kirk agreed,
looking around. "So much
like Earth..." For a long time, they were silent, both looking out over
the green lawn and the woods bordering its outermost edges.
Finally, Spock turned toward him. "I
think perhaps you would enjoy it
more if I were not here," he opined.
Kirk shook his head in negation. "We
all need the rest, you included.
Besides, somebody needs to keep an eye on you," he pointed out, grinning
Spock silently accepted the logic of this as
Kirk left his side to
examine the pool, kneeling at its edge and reaching in to test the water.
To Kirk, it seemed pleasantly warm. "I
think I'll get my swimsuit on
and go for a swim," he announced, standing up.
"I trust you will not object if I decline to
join you," Spock
responded, still watching him.
Under other circumstances, Kirk would have
at least *tried* to get
Spock to go in with him--but obviously, with his skin in this condition,
they couldn't risk contaminating the pool. "No," Kirk assured him,
"but...you can stay out here and watch, if you like."
Spock could think of nothing about watching
Kirk swim that would be
likely to hold his attention for long, but his Captain *had* said he wanted
to "keep an eye on" him. In answer, Spock looked around, noticing
something resembling a chaise lounge, got up and went over to it, pulling
it as close to the shallow end of the pool as he dared, and sat down, while
Kirk went inside to put on his swimsuit.
END PART 6
Twenty minutes later, Kirk was relaxing in
the pool, keeping close
watch on Spock as the Vulcan sat and eventually lay down on the chaise
lounge. After an hour or so of alternately floating and swimming at a very
leisurely pace, Kirk got out briefly and went to check on Spock. He found
his friend nearly asleep. "Getting tired?" Kirk guessed.
"Yes," Spock admitted, with a sigh, looking
up at him uncertainly.
"Do you think it would be permissible for me to sleep here for a time?"
Kirk realized that if Spock were already this
close to falling
asleep,he was probably enjoying the sun and fresh air and had become too
comfortable to want to move. "Sure, Spock--just get some rest, now," he
replied, moving back a bit when he noticed himself dripping water on the
"Are you going to remain, also?" Spock asked, then.
Kirk nodded. "It's nice out here, especially
in the pool. I'm going
back in," he asserted.
He had just gotten himself fully immersed in
the water again, and
Spock was already sleeping, when McCoy came out of the cabin's back door,
brandishing a hypo in one hand and his medikit in another. "I thought you
two would be out here when I didn't find you inside. Look, Jim--I've got
Kirk had reacted immediately, almost throwing
himself over the top
edge of the pool nearest McCoy, and now stood before him, motioning him to
silence. "Spock just got to sleep. I'd rather not wake him," he
McCoy gave him a critical look. "Do you
really think this can *wait*?
We still don't know all there is to know all there is to know about what
this disease will do to him or how fast it will progress."
"No," Kirk admitted reluctantly. "He's
already starting to show the
boils--and he was having breathing trouble earlier."
McCoy reached out to squeeze his Captain's
arm reassuringly. "We
won't have to wake him--I can give him the injection while he's asleep," he
told Kirk. "Go on and get back into the pool, if you want."
Kirk obliged, but only to cut across to Spock's
side of the pool and
watch worriedly as McCoy knelt next to the chaise lounge to give Spock the
shot. He examined the Vulcan silently for a time before turning back
briefly to Kirk. "Where are the boils?" he asked, just loud enough for
his voice to carry the few feet from him to Kirk.
"Look at his right hand," Kirk whispered back, pointing.
McCoy picked up the indicated hand from where
it lay on Spock's chest
and examined it carefully, both visually and with his medscanner, focusing
on the new raised areas on the hand's back and sides. Then he replaced
Spock's hand where it had previously been and got up to go sit on his knees
next to Kirk. "I hope this antidote works, and soon, because I'm not sure
yet what to do about these boils," he confessed quietly.
"If they're anything like the Belarian plague's
blood-boils, I can't
lance them until they reach maximum growth, anyway. If they're not, they
maye start erupting on their own as soon as they stop spreading. Either
way, as you said, it's going to be messy. //Assuming Spock lives that
long--it could still go terminal before then, for all I know,// McCoy
added, to himself. "I still have some more research to do--some more
things to check on--so I'm still hoping to find some effective treatment
for the boils."
"We have another problem, too," Kirk put in.
"With the boils showing
up now, he's worried about becoming contagious."
"That didn't happen with Belarian plague victims
until the boils were
lanced, and they had to be lanced before they would heal," McCoy reminded
him cautiously. "We'll play that by ear--as long as you and I remain free
of the symptoms, I don't see any reason for Spock to worry."
"That's basically what I told him," Kirk acknowledged.
McCoy nodded in acceptance of this. "Well,
I'm glad he's getting some
fresh air--it may be his last chance before these boils start to spread,"
he commented. "When he wakes up, though, I want him to go back inside.
We'll need to monitor him carefully, now. And he'll be in pain when those
boils start to grow."
Kirk looked over at Spock again, noting that
he was still asleep, and
just shook his head anxiously.
McCoy followed his gaze. "I'll have to
check in with the Hospital and
report these new readings, and the boils, to Dr. DuBois--we were granted
access to the medical facilities on the condition that we shared all the
information we got on Spock and kept her updated," he explained. "I should
be through before he wakes up." With that, McCoy got up and headed for the
Kirk watched him leave, then tried to relax
in the water--but it
didn't last. His mind was too full now of concerns for Spock to enjoy the
pool for long; every few minutes, he would glance over at Spock, sometimes
going to the Vulcan's side of the pool for a closer look and watching him
uncertainly for any signs of worsening of his condition. Eventually, he
gave up and abandoned the water entirely, still towel-drying himself as he
The Vulcan had been stirring restlessly throughout
seemingly unable to stay comfortable for long in any one position, but Kirk
was still startled when he happened to wake just as his Captain was again
leaning over him. "Jim...is something wrong?" he questioned groggily.
Kirk put his hands on his hips and looked at
Spock in silent
"You are not enjoying your swim," Spock noted, sitting up slowly.
"Well, *you* weren't sleeping very well," Kirk countered evasively.
Spock's gaze continued to hold Kirk's.
"Are you really so concerned
for me?" he asked, curiosity and uncertainty reflected within the brown
depths of his eyes.
Kirk sat down beside him on the edge of the
chaise lounge. "There's
an awful lot about this disease we don't know," he pointed out hesitantly,
echoing McCoy's earlier observation. "Its origins, for instance--where did
the ameba pick it up? We *assume* it's going to continue following the
progression pattern of Belarian plague, but that's all it is--an
Spock lowered his eyes for a moment before
looking back up at Kirk.
"You also 'assume' the disease is fatal," he reminded the Human.
"With these kinds of symptoms and its resemblance
to Belarian plague,
McCoy seems to feel we have no choice," Kirk acknowledged. "However, he
gave you the antidote while you were asleep. That's another assumption--
that the antidote for that plague will work on this disease." He got up
carefully. "McCoy said you should go back inside to your room."
Spock stood up also, silently following Kirk
back inside. "I trust
that this antidote will work," Spock admitted neutrally, sitting down on
the edge of his bed.
"I know. All we can do is hope the disease's
similarity to Belarian
plague extends to its cure," Kirk concurred sympathetically.
Spock looked around at the monitoring equipment--diagnostic
portable medicomputers and other medical supplies. "Am I going to be
confined to this room for the duration of our leave?" he wondered aloud.
"Hopefully not. We've given you the antidote;
it should kick in soon-
-hopefully you got it in time to forestall any further symptoms," Kirk
tried to assure him. "Do you feel any different?"
Spock turned slowly back to him, shaking his
head. "Still tired. My
'nap' seems to have had little effect."
"I'll talk to Bones once we see that the antidote
is going to work.
We'll try not to keep you cooped up in here any longer than necessary,"
Kirk promised him understandingly.
Spock nodded appreciatively in acknowledgement,
pulling his legs up
onto the bed and stretching out.
Kirk could tell his friend was getting ready
to go to sleep again. He
glanced up at the diagnostic panel over Spock's head, noting its
persistently low readings, before speaking to his First Officer one last
time. "Try to get some more rest, now. I'll check on you later," he
"As you wish, Jim," Spock replied faintly, suppressing a yawn.
Satisfied, Kirk turned to go, deciding to see
if McCoy were still
talking to Dr. DuBois.
END PART 7
On the morning of the fifth day, therefore,
McCoy allowed Kirk into
Spock's room with him when he went to change the Vulcan's dressings. Kirk
sat in silence in a chair across the room, watching McCoy remove the blood-
stained bandages and replace them with clean ones, but Spock kept his eyes
averted during the process, clearly embarrassed by the idea of anyone who
didn't have to seeing him with the blood-boils (some of which still tended
to erupt at inopportune times) and "skin discoloration" covering--by
McCoy's estimate--some 80% of his body.
Then, too, there was the pain, which Spock
maintained enough control
over not to react visibly to it in front of McCoy, but which still caused
him considerable discomfort--he didn't really care to have more of an
audience for his efforts at control. In some ways, Kirk was the worst
audience possible; his presence distracted Spock and weakened the latter's
resolve to maintain that control, because of his unsettling ability to read
through Spock's logical pretenses, and his equally unsettling emotional
McCoy finished finally and glanced briefly
over at Kirk before
addressing Spock again, wrapping Spock's blanket back around him, as he'd
had to do regularly for the last few days. It hadn't seemed advisable to
let Spock continue wearing clothes over the bandages, but they alone did
not keep him warm enough all the time. "I--uh--assume you won't mind if
Jim stays a while, now that you don't have to worry about infecting him."
Spock hesitated, drawing the blanket more tightly
around himself and
shaking his head finally in a rather vague manner, and McCoy got up quietly
When he was gone, Kirk got up slowly and moved
to Spock's bedside,
sitting down cautiously at the far end of the bed. "I've been awfully
worried about you," Kirk ventured hesitantly.
"I know," Spock replied neutrally, keeping
his head bowed and curling
himself up as much as he was able.
"Won't you at least look at me?" Kirk
requested finally, almost
plaintively, when Spock fell silent again and refused to move.
Still, Spock did not respond.
"Spock, the boils won't bother me," Kirk assured
him gently, knowing
that was part of the problem: boils on Spock's face and other visually
"They are bigger now," Spock reminded him uncertainly,
yet that Kirk didn't--wouldn't--find his appearance disturbing. "It has
been several days since you last saw me."
"McCoy told me what to expect," Kirk continued
Spock glanced up at him warily from beneath
the edge of his blanket,
which he had kept drawn over his head, then quickly lowered his eyes again
before Kirk had a chance to see anything else.
"How do you feel? Is McCoy still giving
you pain-killers?" Kirk
Spock shook his head. "They have no effect.
I can control without
them, but it *is* somewhat...uncomfortable."
That, Kirk knew, was as close as Spock would
ever normally come to
admitting that he was in pain.
"When the Doctor was 'telling you what to expect'
did he happen to
mention when *I* might expect these boils to fade?" Spock questioned, a
note of impatience touching his voice.
"That should start happening any time," Kirk
tried to assure him. "He
doesn't think it would be adviseable to increase the antidote's dosage any
further, so we'll just have to wait it out."
Spock had been hard-pressed to find something
to do to take his mind
off his condition that would not result in his bleeding all over something
when the boils periodically erupted, and now he decided to test Kirk's
resolve. How badly, he wondered, did his Captain really want to be around
him? "I brought my chess set," he revealed hesitantly. "Would you like to
"Sure you feel up to it?" Kirk counter-questioned worriedly.
Spock nodded evasively.
"All right," Kirk acceded. "On one condition:
I want you to look at
me. Otherwise, I'll feel like I'm playing chess with an apparition," he
admonished. "With that dark blanket around you and your head down, you
look like old drawings I've seen of the Grim Reaper--without the scythe."
Spock lifted his head reluctantly, unable to
avoid raising an eyebrow
at the humor touching Kirk's voice, and cautiously pushed the blanket back
from his face. "Very well...if you are certain you would rather look at
Kirk tried not to stare or show any signs of
knowing it would not help Spock to sense such a negative reaction in him,
but the Vulcan's normally pale-yellowish features were now covered with
green blotches, and most of both sides of his face were riddled with boils
of various sizes (some of which already had pads or bandages on them to
cover previous eruptions). Spock anxiously searched Kirk's face and the
latter held his gaze, managing not to avert his eyes.
Seeming satisfied, Spock uncurled himself awkwardly
and reached to
move his chess set off the nearby night table, looking around as he tried
to decide where to set it. He couldn't set it on his lap because his legs,
too, were mostly covered with boils, and McCoy had determined that it was
best to let them reach maximum size and erupt on their own--thus no undue
pressure could be placed against them that might make them erupt
Realizing his problem, Kirk began to look around,
also. "Where's that
raised tray they gave you to eat on?" he asked, just as he found it
sitting folded up next to him at the end of the bed. He set it up between
them over Spock's lap, and together they began to set up the three-
dimensional chess board, placing the pieces in starting position. Kirk
could not help watching Spock's bandaged hands as he helped his Captain
move the pieces into place; the fingers, a least, were free of boils,
though dappled with the green, blotchy discoloration--clearly the spread of
the boils had been stopped just in time to avoid Spock being virtually
unable to use his hands at all.
"Do you wish to go first?" Spock asked,
trying to ignore the
attention Kirk seemed to be paying to his friend's hands.
"No--you go ahead," Kirk replied.
As Spock reached to move a chess piece, Kirk
heard a low "pop" and a
sharp intake of breath from Spock before the latter turned away suddenly--
not soon enough, unfortunately, to keep a brief trickle of green blood from
falling onto his hand and dripping onto a corner of the chessboard--and
reached for the stack of sterile pads sitting next to him on the night
table, grabbing one and pressing it against the newly-erupted boil on his
Kirk silently reached across Spock to get another
pad to wipe up the
blood on the chessboard. Spock's face was still averted when he finished.
Determinedly, Kirk moved the tray holding the chessboard out of the way and
scooted closer to Spock, reaching to touch his shoulder.
"I am sorry," Spock murmured, still not looking
at him. "I knew this
would happen...I tried to warn you that you would not wish to stay and
"Shh," Kirk interrupted, reaching for Spock's
hand--the one that blood
had dripped onto--and gently cleaning it with another pad. When he was
through, he held the hand cautiosuly in his own, avoiding the boils as much
as possible. "It's all right, Spock...don't be embarrassed."
Feeling somewhat encouraged, Spock slowly turned
back toward him, his
other hand still holding a pad against his face. "It...takes a while to
finish draining, he admitted ruefully, keeping his eyes lowered. "Are you
"Here, let me see..." Kirk reached up to the
Vulcan's face, causing
him to lift it involuntarily, and touched the pad Spock had been holding
against his cheek; it was fairly well-soaked. "Get me another one of
these--this one's about had it."
Spock silently picked up another pad and gave
it to Kirk, who promptly
removed the stained pad and replaced it with the fresh one, holding it
against the same area of Spock's cheek. They both knew Spock was perfectly
capable of doing this himself, but Kirk wanted to make sure his friend
understood that he was not repulsed or embarrassed by the sight of the
boils--that he could even touch them--and Spock was willing to accept the
gesture in that spirit. "Is it still hurting?" Kirk asked worriedly.
"Yes, a little...but not as much as when Dr.
McCoy would try to lance
them prematurely," Spock replied faintly.
When it was clear that the pad was going to
stay in place by itself,
Kirk withdrew his hand. Spock, with one hand still held gently in one of
Kirk's, reached awkwardly with his other hand for the hand Kirk had just
lowered, scarcely able to believe that the Human would be willing to even
touch his fingers while this condition persisted.
"If you remain, it will probably happen again,"
Spock warned him
"I know--it's all right," Kirk assured him kindly.
Spock studied their hands as his fingers tentatively
and Kirk let them intertwine, drawing reassurance from his Human friend's
touch and the acceptance it conveyed. "You do not wish to leave?" he
"Not unless you want me to," Kirk returned
honestly, leaving it up to
"I..." Spock searched for the right words.
"...I think...I missed
you, Jim. I was...concerned...that you would prefer to continue avoiding
my presence if you saw me now."
Kirk dismissed this with a shake of his head.
"I'm just so glad to
find you're not going to die, Spock--the rest of it doesn't mean that much
to me," he explained. "I just want you to get well so we can enjoy some of
"Do you still wish to play chess with me?" Spock asked dubiously.
As an answer, Kirk withdrew his hands from
Spock's and moved the tray
and chessboard back up to their previous position. "I believe you were
going to go first," he reminded Spock, speaking as much as possible as if
things were perfectly normal.
"I have had some difficulty moving...even my
fingers," Spock pointed
out hesitantly, though by now, Kirk had probably already noticed that.
"Pain?" Kirk guessed.
"Not so much pain as...difficulty in moving
without causing the boils
to erupt," Spock elaborated, lowering his eyes. "I must do it...very
slowly...or I get blood on anything I touch."
"There's no hurry. I'm not going anywhere,"
Kirk assured him
Satisfied, Spock returned his attention to
the chessboard, and they
proceeded to play a rather awkward game that was frequently interrupted by
Spock's pauses to deal with newly-erupting boils. Kirk moved to help him
when Spock seemed to need it, then they went back to the game without
comment, as if nothing had happened. When the Vulcan lost, as both had
expected, again, nothing was said; Spock had not been able to keep his mind
on the game--the pain, dull but persistent, and the shame of the blood-
boils had preoccupied him too much.
END PART 9
As they were putting away the chess set, Christine
stuck her head
through the door. "May I come in?" she asked hesitantly.
Spock hurriedly pulled his blanket up over
his head, again hiding his
face and turning away from the door. "What is it, Nurse?" he asked
Christine entered cautiously, carrying a large,
"Dr. McCoy picked this up at the Base Hospital this morning--it's an
ointment he and Dr. DuBois put together that should help dissolve the
blood-boils," she told him, as she approached.
"If such a thing existed, why the hell didn't
he give it to Spock
sooner?" Kirk demanded, before Spock could respond.
"Because it *didn't* exist before last night,"
a voice put in from
behind Christine as McCoy stepped into the room.
They all looked around at him.
"Why do you think I've spent so much time at
the Hospital since we've
been here? It's not because I love being around DuBois," McCoy continued,
sauntering over to join them. "There was some mention of an ointment being
used in the reports on Belarian plague, but the ingredients didn't test out
as being effective on this illness, so we had to make some substitutions."
"How long will it take to work?" Spok
asked, still trying to avoid
"Assuming you don't have allergic reactions
to any of the ingredients,
ten to fifteen minutes. Just rub it in wherever you have green areas,"
McCoy told him.
"Doctor, I cannot 'rub' anything into these
boils. They will erupt,"
Spock reminded him impatiently.
"Trust me, Spock--it won't matter, this time,"
McCoy assured him. "Go
ahead and give it to him, Christine." As Christine complied, McCoy added
reluctantly, "I hate to be the one to point this out, but you won't be able
to put it on entirely by yourself because the boils cover so much of your
body. I'll leave it to you to choose who helps you--let me know if you
want me to do it."
He turned then to go, but Christine--not having
seen Spock for five
days--did not move. Spock's eyes were now on the ointment tube as he tried
to decide who he could turn to for assistance in this delicate procedure,
so Kirk addressed himself to the matter of Christine's presence. "Uh,
Spock...I think Nurse Chapel wants to...observe you for a while," he told
She tried to move into Spock's line of view.
"I could...help you with
the ointment, if you want," she offered hopefully.
"Most generous of you," Spock responded coolly.
"However, I doubt you
would care to spend that much time looking at and touching my blood-boils."
"If that's what you're worried about, I've
seen diseases with
epidermal symptoms before--you know that," Christine reminded him, matching
Spock still did not look at her. "Yes,
but...this is somewhat
different, is it not?" he countered awkwardly. "I am...you have said you
have...feelings for me. Could you view such 'symptoms' in *me* with
Christine appeared insulted. "I know
I make you uncomfortable, but
have I *ever* treated any of your injuries or illnesses in a less-than-
professional manner?" she demanded.
"No...but I have never had blood-boils before,"
looking up at her pleadingly. "They are all over me, Christine--79.98% of
my body has been affected. It is most unpleasant to look at."
Christine sat down determinedly next to him.
"If Captain Kirk can
stand it, so can I," she insisted.
While Spock was trying to decide how to respond
to this, Kirk got up
"Where are you going?" Spock asked him, puzzled.
"You don't need me around to watch Nurse Chapel
ointment," Kirk pointed out.
"It has not been decided yet that *she* will
be the one to do it,"
Spock countered evenly.
Kirk studied him for a moment, trying to figure
out what Spock was
leading up to. "All right, I'll tell McCoy you want him to do it," he
offered finally, turning to go.
Spock watched him indecisively, too busy considering
the matter to
protest, and lowered his eyes again, ignoring Christine as she continued to
sit beside him.
"You're not going to let me help you, are you?"
disappointed but not surprised.
Spock strove to ignore the unhappiness in her
voice. "I think it
would be better for both of us if I did not," he asserted carefully.
"All right..." Christine paused as she was
about to get up, still
wanting to prove herself and her willingness to accept Spock's condition to
him. She reached tentatively to push one side of the blanket back away
from Spock's face; he pulled away from her apprehensively, but froze when
he felt her hand touch his face, cupping lightly around one cheek.
"See? I told you so," she intoned softly.
"I could look at you all
day if you'd ever let me."
Spock averted his eyes from her as she got
up to go, again uncertain
of how to respond, listening as she retreated to the door and went through
it. He had sensed sincerity in her voice and no pity or revulsion in her
touch, but it seemed unlikely that she could maintain such compassion for
the period of time that would be required to finish applying his ointment.
Human women, as he had by now learned, judged men by physical appearance--
even men they professed to love--and he did not want to leave a lasting
image in her mind of his body covered with green splotches and blood-boils.
Until recently, of course, it would not have
occurred to Spock to even
*care* what Christine thought of him--but since the dissolution of his bond
with T'Pring, he had decided he needed to maintain her good will, now that
the idea of bonding with her at some point in the future had been fixed in
the back of his mind. Provided, of course, that he survived this disease.
He still could not help wondering why it was taking the antidote so long to
Spock looked around the room. Perhaps
with the help of some mirrors,
he could apply the ointment without *anyone's* help. There was a full-
length mirror near the closet, but he could find no evidence of anything
similar that was small enough to hold in his hand. With difficulty, he got
up from the bed and moved awkwardly across the room to the full-length
mirror, trying to see if he would be able to put the ointment everywhere he
needed it without using an additional mirror; it quickly became apparent
that he would not be able to do so. Some areas were simply impossible to
reach with his limited mobility, even when they fell within his mirror-
enhanced field of vision.
As a frustrated sigh escaped him, McCoy stuck
his head through the
door and looked around at the Vulcan. "Spock--? Oh, there you are. Jim
said you wanted me to help you with the ointment. Are you ready?"
Spock turned toward him hesitantly. "I
had another idea about that,
END PART 10
McCoy emerged from Spock's room a few minutes
later and went to the
kitchen, where Kirk was looking around for soemthing to eat, and got his
"Bones?" Kirk responded questioningly.
"Spock's made a request, Jim," McCoy began
uneasily, averting his eyes
and scratching his head. "I advised against it, and he knows you'd
"Refuse to do *what*, Bones? Spit it
out," Kirk interrupted
McCoy finally met his eyes. "Well, he's
in there standing in front of
a mirror, trying to put that ointment on wherever he can reach--but you and
I both know he's just being stubborn. There are a lot of places he *can't*
reach," he elaborated slowly. "I offered to help, but...he says he'd
rather *you* do it, if you're willing."
Kirk's first instinct was to agree unquestioningly,
but his memory of
McCoy's earlier discussion with Spock of the ointment's application gave
him pause. Still, after all, there was no danger of being contaminated by
the blood from the erupting boils...and perhaps his earlier compassionate
response to a sight he might have normally found repulsive had encouraged
Spock to trust him with this. He couldn't very well throw that trust back
in Spock's face--however distasteful the job might be. "Whatever I can do
to help him," Kirk agreed finally.
"As you pointed out a while back, this is a
messy disease with a messy
treatment," McCoy reminded him, still somewhat apprehensively. "But this
should help that antidote work faster, and you should see immediate results
--before you finish the application, possibly."
Kirk nodded in acceptance. "Anything else I should know?"
"Yes. I'll tell you how to apply it before
you go in there--because
of the likelihood of eruptions, you'll have to be prepared to re-cover them
as soon as you finish with the ointment on each wound, and I'll tell you
about a short-cut on that. You'll have to re-wrap the dressings, too,"
McCoy informed him, watching Kirk's reaction as he spoke to insure that
Kirk remained willing and interested. Kirk, however, was clearly hanging
on every word, so McCoy continued with a more detailed explanation of what
the Captain would have to do.
"You're right--that *does* sound messy," Kirk
admitted, once McCoy had
"I can tell him I'm going to do it, instead," McCoy offered again.
Kirk shook his head firmly. "He doesn't
ask for my help that often,
Bones. If he wants me to do this, I'm not going to back out on him," he
"I'll go check on him--he should have done
all he can do by himself by
now," McCoy decided, turning to go.
Kirk followed him back to Spock's room.
They found Spock still standing in front of
the mirror, his bandages
now half-unwrapped and hanging from his upper body as he struggled to apply
ointment to a spot near his shoulder-blade--looking for all the world like
a child tangled up in a roll of toilet paper. He looked around at them in
embarrassment as McCoy approached first.
"Let's see what you've done so far, Spock,"
McCoy greeted him
hopefully, looking him over. Most of the front two-thirds of Spock's body-
-torso, arms and upper legs--was now covered with partially rubbed-in
ointment and fresh sterile pads where boils had erupted; McCoy tried not to
pay too much attention to the inevitable blood-and-ointment smears in some
"I assumed you did not want the bandages changed
until the ointment
application was completed," Spock explained.
McCoy nodded, satisfied. "Right..."
He glanced back at Kirk.
"...and I guess you can take it from here, Jim. If you need any help, give
me a yell--I'll be in the kitchen."
"Doctor, will we have enough ointment?" Spock asked doubtfully.
"I've got another tube I can bring in," McCoy
"Fortunately, this stuff only has to be applied once a day, so I can pick
up some more tomorrow at the Hospital." With that, he withdrew to the door
and stepped back out, leaving Kirk and Spock alone.
Spock abruptly turned back to the mirror as
Kirk approached him
hesitantly, watching in the mirror as Kirk moved closer. "You do not
object to assisting me in this?" he questioned uncertainly.
Kirk shook his head, shrugging slightly.
"It's the first time since
the disease started affecting you that you've *wanted* my help," he pointed
out kindly. "It's all right, Spock--Bones told me what to do. Just tell
me where you want me to start."
"I had thought perhaps...my back first, then
my legs?" Spock
suggested reluctantly. "I had thought I would be able to tend to them
myself, but...it is more difficult to bend than I had expected."
"All right..." Kirk looked around and began
assembling what he would
need in a place where he would have easy access--a portable table already
holding the fresh bandages, which he pulled over next to him. "Now, give
me the ointment and those pads," Kirk instructed, then.
Spock complied, wondering as he did so if Kirk
would really be abe to
stand physical contact with his skin in this state long enough to complete
the task requested of him.
"I'll start up here with your shoulders," Kirk
told him, noting the
location of the spot that Spock had been trying to reach, carefully
unwrapping the bandages from the Vulcan's back and removing stained pads
from some of that boils. He piled them on a separate covered section of
the portable table--noting with relief that some of the covered boils had
scabbed over and begun to recede beneath the pads. "Thank goodness these
things are finally beginning to heal," he commented feelingly.
"It is possible that my Vulcan physiology has
delayed the antidote's
effects--at least, thet seems to be the Doctor's most likely theory
regarding its slowness in affecting me," Spock returned coolly.
"I suppose," Kirk responded faintly, now concentrating
out some ointment onto his hand. When he spoke again, he made sure Spock
would be able to hear him. "I want you to speak up if I hurt you, Spock
...I'm going to do my best not to, but you'll have to help me out a
END PART 11
"Please do not concern yourself, Captain.
I am quite capable of
controlling--" Spock stopped in response to the look Kirk gave him over the
Vulcan's shoulder as they met each other's gaze in the mirror's reflection.
He reminded himself that Kirk surely would not be here unless he truly
*meant* to help. And besides, Kirk always saw through his Vulcan facades,
anyway; expending great amounts of energy on them when he and Kirk were
alone had proven, over the years they had known each other, to be...
illogical. "Very well," he acceded finally. "But I do not think you will
"Hmm. Hopefully not," Kirk mumured, turning
his attention quickly to
Spock's back and beginning to gently rub in the ointment as McCoy had
instructed him. He quickly learned to stand a little further away shen a
boil erupted pracically in his face, forcing a small, involuntary sound of
revulsion from him; Spock barely flinched, and it was more a response to
Kirk's reaction than to the sudden throb of pain.
"I am sorry. I wish this were not necessary,"
Spock apologized, his
voice muted with shame. "If you would prefer Dr. McCoy to do it--"
"It's all right," Kirk interrupted reassuringly,
covering the eruption
with an ointment-covered pad. "*I'm* sorry I reacted like that. Just
stand still, and I'll try to finish this as quickly and painlessly as
Spock fell silent and stood quietly, if somewhat
uneasily, as Kirk
continued applying the ointment to his back, rubbing it in a cirular
pattern into the green, blotchy areas of Spock's skin, avoiding eruptions
whenever he could. Spock, meanwhile, strove to suppress his reactions to
the pain while keeping his previous promise to Kirk, finding it
increasingly difficult to balance the two; the boils throbbed with each
exertion of pressure--however light--by Kirk, contrasting strangely with
the undeniable gentleness of his touch and the emotions conveyed by it.
And Kirk, sensing Spock's increasing discomfort,
paused as he reached
the Vulcan's waist. "How're you doing, Spock?" he asked worriedly.
"As well as can be expected," Spock responded,
as neutrally as
"Well, I'm about through with your back.
If it's all right with you,
I'll do the backs of your legs next," Kirk ventured carefully.
"As you wish," Spock acceded, still in the
same tone. Mercifully,
there were no boils anywhere on his bottom--only some green splotches
circling his hips--and he had been able to wear his underpants.
Kirk cautiously pulled them down on one side
and applied the ointment
to the green area, then pulled them back up and repeated the procedure on
the other side, trying to avoid any more embarrassment for his friend than
necessary. "I'm going to have to unwrap the rest of these bandages," he
warned Spock, then.
"I know. Please continue."
Kirk complied, gingerly beginning to unwrap
a bandage at the top of
Spock's right thigh and continuing until he could let it all fall to the
floor in a swirled pile, then doing the same for his friend's left leg.
Beneath the bandages, like his back, both legs were revealed to be covered
with splotches and boils. "Dear God...how did you tolerate lying on
these?" he wondered, not having meant to speak the thought aloud.
"I assure you, if I could have found a way
to rest while standing up,
I would have done so," Spock returned coolly.
"Sorry," Kirk mumbled ruefully, beginning to
rub more ointment onto
fresh pads as he applied them to the boils. He finished off the tube and
noticed another one now on the table next to him; clearly, McCoy had
slipped in sometime within the last few minutes, placed it there, and
slipped back out without either of them noticing. Kirk picked it up,
putting the empty tube in the discard pile with the dirty bandages, then
resumed applying it to Spock's legs.
As Kirk gently removed a series of stained
pads from boils on the back
of Spock's thigh, the Vulcan began to flinch noticeably and repeatedly.
"Jim," he said abruptly, fighting to reinforce his pain controls.
"Spock?" Kirk prompted anxiously, pausing in his efforts.
"You asked me to tell you, Jim. It is
Spock admitted, almost inaudibly.
Fighting instincts to do otherwise, Kirk examined
the boils more
closely as he slowly placed an ointment-coated pad on each one. Several
had immediately erupted again. "Just a minute," he responded, allowing
himself to finish re-covering the weepy blood-boils. Then he simply rested
his hands briefly against each pad-covered surface, his fingers lightly
touching Spock's skin around the pads. "Better?" he questioned, in
Spock nodded slowly in some surprise as his
pain suddenly lessened and
came back under his control. How or why seemed unimportant--but he still
ould not help marvelling that Kirk could stand this physical contact
without reacting with complete revulsion. Spock realized that he had been
holding his breath as he tried to control the pain and now released it
gradually. "That is helpful," he observed hesitantly. "That...covering
touch...it feels almost...soothing. If I asked, would you...do it again?
could you bear it?"
"Of course," Kirk promised kindly. "Just
say the word." He left his
hands in place a bit longer before withdrawing them. "I'm going to get the
rest of these dirty pads off you, then finish putting the ointment on the
Kirk continued the procedure of removing stained
pads and replacing
them with fresh pads where necessary. Twice more--as seldom as Spock could
bear--he asked Kirk to repeat his odd version of touch therapy before the
Captain finally finished applying the ointment everywhere it was needed and
turned his attention to replacing the bandages. He was careful as he did
so not to wrap them too tightly, in accordance with McCoy's instructions to
allow Spock room enough to move without bursting the boils, and kept
Spock's attention diverted with light conversation as he worked. They
talked mainly about plans for the rest of their leave and what Spock might
want for his next meal--anything but the disease and the boils.
"I would appreciate it if you would hurry,
Jim. I am getting cold,"
Spock told him, at length.
"I know--don't worry, I'm almost finished,"
Kirk consoled him, as he
fastened the last bandage's velcro closure. Then he disposed of the dirty
dressings, picking Spock's blanket up off the bed as he went back across
the room toward his friend. As he reached Spock's side again, Kirk draped
the blanket around his friend's shoulders. "There you go--all done," he
Gratedully, Spock went back to his bed and
carefully sat down,
thinking how fortunate it was that he would not have to go through this
experience multiple times a day.
"Ready for breakfast?" Kirk asked, once Spock was settled.
"'Breakfast'?" Spock repeated doubtfully. "It is almost noon."
"Lunch, then. Are you ready?" Kirk tried again.
"I am not very hungry," Spock hedged reluctantly.
That was understandable; Kirk could see how
having one's body covered
with boils might kill one's appetite. Still, Spock had scarcely eaten
*anything* since he had been here..."I know, Spock, but you need to eat,"
he pointed out.
Spock still hesitated. "Do I have to go--?"
"No, one of us can bring it to you," Kirk interrupted understandingly.
"Very well. Under those circumstances,
I suppose...I could eat
something," Spock acceded, still unenthusiastic about the prospect.
Kirk nodded in satisfaction, turning to go.
Kirk turned back briefly and found Spock's head bowed. "Yes?"
"...I appreciete your...patience with me," he told Kirk awkwardly.
"That's all right," Kirk returned softly, reaching
out to gently pat
Spock's shoulder in an unaffected spot. "Somebody'll be back in a few
minutes with your food."
END PART 12
McCoy's ointment worked exactly as advertised,
and by that evening,
Spock's boils had faded noticeably; within two days of consistent
application with Kirk's help, it had worked with the antidote well enough
to reverse the remaining symptoms of Spock's disease. All that was left of
it were a few green splotches on Spock's hands and arms, and he was able to
again dress normally without worrying about bandages, pads or boils.
Finally, Kirk, McCoy and Christine could get on with enjoying what was left
of their leave--and Spock, in their eyes, no longer had a legitimate excuse
for refusing to join them.
After Spock had gone back to the Base Hospital
for a follow-up
examination and Dr. DuBois verified that he was free of the disease (except
for the blotches, which she assured Spock would now fade quickly on their
own), Kirk and McCoy immediately began a conspiracy aimed at getting Spock
out of the cabin and out *into* the gorgeous, Earth-summer-like weather.
They settled on the idea of a picnic to celebrate Spock's recovery and
scouted out the parklands and surrounding area for the best location prior
to making the rest of the arrangements. Eventually, they located a tree-
dotted area on the outer edge of the surrounding parklands that seemed
ideal and quickly turned their attention to what to fix for the picnic.
By the next day, plans were finalized and Spock
was being led out of
the cabin to the area Kirk and McCoy had picked. Spock knew they were
going on a picnic, since Kirk and McCoy were carrying a blanket and baskets
of food and drink--but that was *all* he knew. He had no idea, for
instance, that Kirk had reserved a whole section of the parklands for the
day for all his crew to enjoy, though he, Spock and McCoy would have their
area to themselves. When he began to notice other Enterprise crewmembers
wandering by and sometimes waving if they were close enough, however, Spock
began to suspect the true extent to which this outing had been planned in
advance by Kirk.
He ignored them all, watching curiously as
Kirk and McCoy spread out
the blanket on the ground beneath a tree and then set the two baskets down
on top of the blanket, beginning to remove containers of food from each
basket. Then they sat down on the blanket, encouraging Spock to sit, also.
"I'm sorry you've had to spend so much leave time confined to a sickbed,"
Kirk told the Vulcan sincerely, handing him a sandwich. "But you're over
that now, and we still have several days left."
Spock took the sandwich, examining the filling
daring to take a bite, and was relieved to find it was a cucumber sandwich-
-one of his favorites. "Perhaps *I* should be the one to apologize," he
countered regretfully, pausing between bites. "You and Dr. McCoy have
sacrificed half your leave because of my illness. Time that you could have
spent catching up on rest was spent trying to find a cure for me...caring
"Don't worry about that, now," Kirk interrupted
kindly. "We've still
got tiem to rest up before we have to go back to the ship."
"And that includes you, Spock," McCoy put in
firmly. "Now that you're
no longer sick, I want you to devote the rest of your leave to some actual
"What did you have in mind?" Spock asked warily.
"You name it, we'll do it," Kirk promised.
Spock turned back to him doubtfully.
"What if I just want to sleep?"
"Works for me," Kirk replied agreeably.
"After we eat, we could
stretch out in the grass and take a nap. How does that sound?"
Spock nodded approvingly. "I trust neither
you nor the Doctor will
attempt to disturb me," he returned dryly.
"No chance of that. Once I lie down,
I don't plan to *move* until it
gets dark," McCoy assured him.
"I don't think it'll be a problem," Kirk added.
"Spock, this illness of yours would make a
great presentation for the
next Federation Medical Conference," McCoy pointed out, then. "Mind if I
write it up?"
"Not at all--I would like to read such a paper,
myself," Spock agreed.
"With the stipulation that *I* have some input."
"Wouldn't want to write it without that," McCoy asserted.
Spock bowed his head briefly in satisfaction.
They finished their meal in silence, too hungry
to let themselves get
further distracted by more conversation--even *Spock's* appetite had
returned, now that the disease was no longer affecting him. Afterwards,
once they had re-packed the remains of their picnic and disposed of the
trash, each of them picked out a spot for a nap; Kirk and McCoy opted for
shade on opposite sides of the same tree, and Spock chose a spot in the sun
a few feet away from Kirk, then they all stretched out on the ground.
McCoy, who had labored the hardest and kept
the longest hours on
Spock's behalf during his illness, was asleep in minutes, while Kirk dozed,
staying somewhere between sleep and wakefulness. Spock, for his part,
slept intermittently, too conscious of the strange feeling of soft grass
beneath him and concentrated sunlight above him to maintain his customary
sleep-trance. It was not an unpleasant feeling, but it *was* distracting.
At length, Spock woke up long enough to look
around and suppress a
sigh of relief; Kirk had apparently instructed the rest of the crew to
leave them alone, for there was no one in evidence anywhere near their area
of the parklands. He looked over at Kirk and McCoy. McCoy was deeply
asleep--Spock could hear him snoring--but Kirk appeared rather restless.
"Jim? Are you awake?" he called softly, becoming concerned.
"No, of course not. This is a log recording,"
sardonically, rolling over to face him.
Spock greeted him with a raised eyebrow, and
Kirk responded with a
"Sorry, Spock--it's nothing. I'm just
a little stiff, I guess," Kirk
Spock propped himself up on his elbows.
"I suppose I could..rub your
back...if you wish," he offered reluctantly. It was something he had
occasionally done for Kirk before...but never in a park setting.
Kirk sensed the potential for embarrassment
in Spock's suggestion and
sought to spare the Vulcan. "Maybe I should just wake Bones up and have
him give me something," he countered doubtfully, sitting up and starting to
move toward McCoy.
"A drug might make you oversleep," Spock protested,
now sitting up,
"You got any better ideas?" Kirk demanded, in response.
"Dr. McCoy needs sleep--you both do," Spock responded evasively.
Coming to a decision, Spock got up and moved
quietly to his Captain's
side, glancing around surreptitiously as he did so; there was still no one
near them, and none of the more distant crewmembers seemed to be within
eyeshot. Upon reaching Kirk, Spock sat down next to him. "Lie down, Jim,"
he instructed quietly.
Kirk replied warily. "Are you sure--?"
Spock nodded. "For now," he returned neutrally. "Where do you hurt?"
"Neck and shoulders, mainly," Kirk admitted
faintly, lying down again
and rolling onto his stomach.
Spock reached out to touch Kirk's shoulder
and began to knead it
cautiously and gently, eventually moving on to the sides of Kirk's neck and
other shoulder, finally using both hands on both shoulders at once.
Occasionally, he still glanced around to be sure they weren't being
observed, but mostly, he focused on Kirk--watching his body language and
feeling the Human relax beneath his touch. Sometimes Kirk would coach him
on spots that were still sore, but generally, he just lay still in the
grass and enjoyed Spock's massage.
"Mmm...thanks, Spock. I should sleep
just fine, now," he told Spock
finally, his voice almost inaudible.
Spock withdrew his hands but stayed where he
was, waiting and watching
for a time until he saw that Kirk was sleeping peacefully. Then, after a
quick check to see that McCoy was still asleep, Spock got up and went back
to his spot in the sun, stretching out on the ground again. He turned his
attention to re-establishing his sleep-trance, concentrating on the warmth
and tranquility of the setting rather than its unfamiliarity. This time,
he found himself comfortable enough to realize how tired he was and drifted
quickly off to oblivion.
Spock awoke to the sound of Kirk's voice and
sat up slowly, noting
that it seemed to be late afternoon. "Jim?" he questioned curiously,
meeting his Captain's eyes as Kirk knelt beside him. "How do you feel?"
he asked, remembering Kirk's earlier stiffness and difficulty in sleeping.
"I was just about to ask *you* that," Kirk
responded. "Do you feel
Spock nodded. "You?"
"I feel great," Kirk assured him. "I
know you prefer to actually
*rest* when you're on leave, but...I was hoping you'd maybe want to..." he
trailed off, looking down in embarrassment at the object in his hands. If
there was anything more likely than frisbee-tossing to strike Spock as
illogical, he couldn't presently think of what it could be.
Spock studied the frisbee briefly before returning
his gaze to Kirk's
face and favoring him with a raised eyebrow. "You have never
satisfactorily explained to me the purpose of tossing an inverted plastic
disk back and forth," he reminded Kirk evenly. "I do not understand the
attraction for this 'game'."
Before Kirk could respond, McCoy appeared behind
him. "Don't knock it
if you haven't tried it," he snapped critically, dropping a hand onto
Kirk's shoulder. "Come on, Jim--I'll toss it around with you. Spock's a
Kirk hesitated, his eyes still on Spock.
He had really wanted the
Vulcan to join them...but perhaps McCoy was right; Spock hardly ever wanted
to take part in their leave activities. Even when Kirk was alone with him,
it took a major effort to get his First Officer to participate in
activities that his Captain considered relaxing and enjoyable. And Kirk
could tell from the puzzled expression in his friend's eyes that today was
going to be no different. He got up with a disappointed sigh and followed
McCoy out into a clear area, indicating with hand gestures how far away
McCoy should position himself.
Spock watched them curiously for a while, noting
how each of them
would periodically overthrow the frisbee, causing the other to scramble
back, forward or sideways to catch it. Something about this necessity
seemed to amuse them, since every time it happened, they would laughingly
tease each other; Spock, however, saw no cause for amusement and eventually
gave up trying to understand why they enjoyed this activity. He turned his
attention inward and tried to meditate for a time, but found that Kirk and
McCoy were causing too much of a distraction.
Spock finally gave up and resumed watching
them, beginning to analyze
their "frisbee-tossing" activity. Certainly, there were more efficient
ways to get the exercise than this, if that was their intent...but they did
seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves. For Humans on leave, Spock
reflected, perhaps that was all that mattered; part of him wished he could
share their enjoyment. There was hardly anyone left in the parklands now,
and he was alone except for them--if he chose to behave in such an un-
Vulcan manner, no one else would know. Since it was too late to take
another nap and risk sleeping past dark, Spock forestalled any further
speculation on the matter by getting up finally and heading for their
cabin, trusting that Kirk and McCoy would know where he was going.
At that moment, Kirk--who had just caught the
frisbee again--paused in
the act of throwing it back to McCoy, noting Spock's departure in renewed
McCoy, knowing Kirk had still hoped to lure
Spock into joining them,
strove to reassure him. "He's probably just still tired, Jim. He's been
sick for three weeks, you know--this is the first time he's tried to do
anything other than lie in bed for some time."
Kirk wasn't convinced, but he shrugged resignedly,
in no mood to
argue. "Well, I guess we may as well head back, too," he decided. "Come
END PART 13
The next day was spent mostly by the three
of them sleeping, while
Christine--now that Spock had recovered--returned to her own cabin. By the
day after that, the last of Spock's green blotches were gone, a discovery
that put him somewhat more in the mood to go out in the scenery and
sunshine than he had been before. When Kirk awoke that morning and
announced that he and McCoy were going back to the parklands, Spock
therefore found himself noticeably less reticent about going with them. In
fact, he surprised them both by *asking* to go with them.
"I thought you just wanted to sleep," Kirk
"Have you changed your mind?"
"We have established that I *can* sleep *there*,"
Kirk wanted to ask him again to join them in
a frisbee-toss, but he
thought better of it. It didn't really matter, after all--as long as they
all enjoyed themselves. "All right, then--let's go," he decided.
Kirk and McCoy took him back to the same area
of he parklands where
they had previously picnicked, and Spock surprised them again by deciding
to participate in their frisbee-toss--in his own way; they soon discovered
that he would not go after it if it was thrown too long or too wide but
would simply stand there, favoring the thrower with a raised eyebrow and an
artificially affrinted expression until the frustrated thrower would go
after the frisbee himself and throw it again.
They also discovered that, because of this,
Kirk had to be the one to
toss it to Spock--he was the only one with the patience to put up with the
Vulcan's peculiar form of participation. He alone understood that this was
one of Spock's typically subtle expressions of playfulness; McCoy had no
reason to know it, for he had never seen that side of Spock before. It
usually peeked through only when he and Kirk were alone.
For all that, when Spock had to throw the frisbee
himself, he did so--
predictably--with deadly accuracy, nearly knocking McCoy off his feet
several times. Finally, McCoy decided he'd had enough. "What the hell's
the matter with you, Spock?" he demanded. "You saw us throwing the
frisbee last time we were here, yet you just stand there when Jim throws it
to you and make him go get it again, then you practically cut *me* in half
throwing it to me--I have surgical lasers in Sickbay that aren't that
precise! Either do it right, or I'm out of here--for my own safety."
"Bones--" Kirk began warningly, trailing off
into a dangerous look
with which he favored McCoy. He didn't want Spock immediately discouraged
from his first attempt at this by unnecessarily harsh criticism of his
McCoy saw his expression and met it with one
of entreaty. "You saw
what he did, Jim!"
Spock's expression was unreadable as he looked
from McCoy to Kirk.
"What did I do wrong?" he asked, his tone clearly puzzled.
"Spock, half the fun of frisbee-tossing *is*
having to chase it down,
occasionally," Kirk explained patiently.
"Oh." Spock was still skeptical and confused.
"What is the *other*
half of the fun?"
While McCoy rolled his eyes in exasperation,
Kirk responded with a
grin, amused without being offended by his friend's honest but awkward
effort to share their enjoyment of the activity. "Just don't aim so
accurately all the time--it's *all right* to be a little off," he advised.
"Keep throwing it that hard and you'll injure McCoy. And it wouldn't hurt
you to have to chase it down *yourself* sometimes, either."
"Very well--I have no desire to injure anyone.
I will try to be less
accurate," Spock acceded, noting how strange it sounded for him to be
promising someone *not* to be accurate. It was a difficult idea to adjust
to as he again threw the frisbee to McCoy, but from the relieved expression
on the Doctor's face as he hopped slightly to one side to catch it, Spock
gathered he was having some success.
They continued with the frisbee for another
half hour or so, then Kirk
and McCoy collapsed in the grass; Spock just sat down quietly and watched
them, eventually following their example and stretching out on his back.
He looked around and listened carefully. If there were anyone else there
within earshot or eyeshot, Spock could not detect them. Satisfied, Spock
returned his attention to his friends. "I still do not understand your
attraction for this activity," he told Kirk quietly.
Kirk glanced over at him. "So what made
you decide to try it?" he
This time, Spock answered him directly.
"You and Dr. McCoy seem to
enjoy it. And perhaps there is, in this instance, some validity to the
Doctor's suggestion that I should not criticize it without attempting to
understand the experience," he explained, ignoring McCoy's surprised
reaction. "Besides...I have had enough sleep."
Kirk rolled over onto his stomach, studying
the Vulcan intently. "You
said you still don't understand it," he observed.
"No," Spock admitted thoughtfully. "But it was...not unpleasant."
"You might enjoy it once you got used to it," Kirk opined cautiously.
"Possibly." Spock met his eyes.
"Are you offering to *teach* me to
'get used to it'?" he questioned, a glint of playful anticipation in his
Kirk responded with a small grin. "Sure, if you like."
Spock bowed his head slightly in acceptance
as they both slowly sat
Then their eyes met again. "Nice to have
you back, Spock," Kirk told
him, softly and sincerely.
Spock blushed a faint green, but maintained
eye contact with his
Captain. "I am...gratified to *be* 'back', Jim," he confessed calmly.
Just then, his mind made a connection and he suddenly realized what it was
that made it possible to enjoy this frisbee-tossing and why he had, until
now, missed it; it wasn't the exercise or the skill requirements--it was
Kirk seemed to sense this revelation.
"Want to try it again?" he
Spock nodded readily. "If you are not too tired."
Kirk got up, reaching out to Spock with one
hand. "Come on, let's
Spock took Kirk's hand cautiously and let the
Human help him up,
feeling warm emotions through Kirk's touch as they pressed against and
began to filter through his mental shields.
Kirk glanced at McCoy. "Want to join us?" he invited.
McCoy waved them off. "You two go ahead.
I think I'll wait 'til Spok
gets the hang of it," he declined dryly. "I'll just lie here out of the
line of fire and watch you."
Spock spared him a raised eyebrow before he
and Kirk turned away from
him, going back to the area where they had been playing with the frisbee
before. As they tossed it back and forth, Spock found himself less and
less concerned about the illogic of the activity; he still did not fully
understand it--but perhaps, at least for Jim's and his purposes, he
understood enough. In the waning days of their leave--for Spock's long
illness had left them only four full days now to really enjoy it--that
"enjoyment" seemed, however illogical, to be all that mattered. There was
no reason that their preferences couldn't be accomodated as well as his.
After all, Jim and McCoy had sacrificed most
of their leaves for the
sake of his well-being--and Spock had gained a new respect for Jim since
the latter's unexpectedly compassionate response to his disease's external
symptoms; for them--for Jim--Spock could perhaps indulge his Human half
long enough to share their idea of relaxation for the period of time they
had left here.
Presently, Kirk overthrew the frisbee again
and it sailed past Spock,
well off to the side. Spock this time made a quick lateral dash to
intercept it and tossed the frisbee bak to Kirk without bothering to aim
it. Unexpectedly, a sudden breeze caught it, taking it on a steep angle up
into the air, and it caught a glint of morning sunlight before falling
almost straight back down. Kirk and Spock both went after it; Kirk caught
it, but not before colliding with Spock, who was paying more attention to
the frisbee than where he was going, and they both collapsed to the ground.
Spock's initial concern that he might have hurt Kirk was immediately
allayed when Kirk, still lying on his back as Spock sat up, broke into
laughter. "McCoy's right--you're a menace, Spock. But you're *our*
Spock favored him with a raised eyebrow and
a small smile, the only
outward sign of his awareness of the illogic of Kirk's statement, and they
stayed there on the grass for an indefinite period of time, enjoying the
day and each other's presence. Then, finally, Spock got up, determined to
try again. If it was necessary for him to engage in this Human silliness,
he intended to master it to Kirk's (and his own) satisfaction. Hesitantly,
he mimicked Kirk's previous action, reaching down to help his Human friend
up, his eyes issuing an invitation: //Shall we continue?//
Kirk let Spock pull him to his feet, and they
quickly picked up where
they had left off, with McCoy still watching them. Gradually, Spock began
to feel a little more comfortable with the activity as he watched Kirk. It
struck him then that even if he never fully mastered the frisbee, it
probably would not matter to Jim; all he'd ever wanted was Spock's company
and participation. If Spock was destined to continue being "a menace" to
his friend and Captain, he could only hope to be "menacing" Jim for a very
long time to come.
END OF STORY
(And now, I throw myself upon the mercy of the court.)