A/N: Thank you for all the encouraging reviews and comments. I do consider this to be a short story with three parts. Here is part 2! :)
McCoy went into the bathroom to check his wound in the very small mirror provided over the sink. While he didn't directly compliment Spock, he didn't entirely complain, which Spock perceived as a positive sign. McCoy reapplied some antibiotic and put the gauze back in place.
"I have never appreciated modern medicine more than I do at this moment," McCoy grumbled, coming out of the bathroom to sit beside Spock against the wall. McCoy was silent, waiting for Spock to join in the conversation he had begun; however, Spock sat silent, staring up at their little lightbulb with distracted interest. "Well," McCoy prompted, "aren't you gonna say something? Like why you think we're locked down here in this pit? Why we were 'adequate'?"
"I do not have enough information to reply to those questions," Spock stated.
McCoy smirked. "Well, just speculate. Give me an educated guess. You studied these people before we beamed down. What's their MO?"
"Uncertain," Spock said. He began to lay out the response papers in the order they had received them. "And I believe speculation to be highly illogical."
"I'm not saying I'm gonna take your uneducated opinion as gospel truth!" cried McCoy, his southern drawl thickening as he became heated. "I just want to have a conversation."
"I process information most effectively in silence, Doctor."
"Are you telling me to 'shut up,' Spock?" McCoy asked.
Spock frowned. "Of course not, Doctor. I am simply stating a truth."
"Oh, if that's all," McCoy muttered. "Well, you can have all the silence you want, 'cause I'm going to sleep!" With those final, triumphant words, McCoy slid down so that he was lying down, rolled over with his back to Spock, and folded his left arm under his head as a makeshift pillow.
"Goodnight, Doctor," Spock said.
"Oh, shut up, Spock."
"How long do you suppose we've been down here, Spock?" McCoy asked. He had just finished analyzing his wound. Thanks to the skillful suturing of Spock the skin was starting to fuse itself together naturally. McCoy was now letting the scar breathe, occasionally applying the antibiotic to be sure no infection crept in before it was entirely closed. Based on his scar alone, he could tell they had been imprisoned for over a week.
"Approximately 10 days, Doctor, based on my internal calculation of time. However, I fear that I am becoming impaired due to the circumstances at hand," Spock replied.
McCoy smiled. "That's about my estimate too, based on this little beauty." He pointed to his head. "It's my external clock."
Spock hummed his vague appreciation at McCoy's attempted humor and then continued rereading the notes they had received from the Neeloni scientists…or whatever they were.
"For heaven's sake, Spock!" McCoy cried. "You've been either sleeping or studying those darned papers. What do you think you're going to get out of those letters that you haven't gotten out of them the past 10 days?"
"Unknown, Doctor; however, as there seems little to be done otherwise, I do not understand why it vexes you that I do so."
"Aren't you bored out of your mind?" McCoy asked. "Don't you want to talk about something other than this pit? Don't you want to play a game?"
Now it was Spock's turn to frown. While he had spent his time pouring over their letters from the Neelonis, McCoy had spent a significant amount of time creating something like a board game. In one of the corners of the room, McCoy had taking handfuls of water from the bathroom sink and created a thick, muddy surface. Then, he drew what looked like a chessboard, with carefully measured, almost nearly perfect squares. Spock had pointed out that McCoy had left out one row if he meant for it to be an accurate depiction of such a board. The critique was not well received, and Spock had not ventured to the corner again. McCoy had then taken one of the parachutes and torn it into tiny pieces. Splitting them into two piles, the stained one pile a muddy brown and the other pile he left white.
Since the painstaking completion of his checker game, he had been trying to convince Spock to play a game with him, so far to no avail.
"I find that our time would best be spent finding a solution to our current dilemma," Spock said. They had not received any further correspondence from their captors except for an occasional parachute drop of a meal for each of them. These did not come at regular intervals, thereby attributing to Spock's impaired internal clock.
"Come now, Spock," McCoy said. "You can't try to think of solutions 24/7. You'll wear yourself out. You need to take your mind off the situation for awhile so that you'll come back to it with a fresh mind. It always works better that way."
"I regret to say that in our current circumstances, I do not agree with you," Spock said. "I receive adequate rest frequently, thereby improving my thought process considerably. I do not require an alternate activity to perform better mentally."
"Darn it, Spock! All I'm asking for is one game."
"I must again decline your offer," Spock said.
McCoy huffed and walked away from Spock, mid-sentence, to the far side of the pit. He started dragging the heel of his boot heavily across the ground, leaving a shallow rut trail as he walked backward. The line was mostly straight, with a few wiggles and curves here and there where McCoy almost lost his balance. However, he continued his course until he had completed it to the far side of the pit.
"Doctor?" Spock inquired.
McCoy smiled unhappily. "This is my side of the pit, and that," McCoy waved his arms in Spock's general direction, "is your side, Spock."
"The concept is highly juvenile," Spock said.
"Well, I don't care," McCoy snapped. "You keep your statistics and logic on your side of the pit, and I'll keep my sanity and self-pity on my side."
"Doctor, if you will allow me to…"
"Ah!" McCoy interrupted, "If I want your explanations, I will come to your side." McCoy raised an eyebrow of warning before going over to his wall and sitting down against it. He closed his eyes so he couldn't see Spock staring at him curiously.
"Your behavior is highly illogical," Spock said after several moments of silence. "One moment, you desire my company, the very next you refuse to be spoken to at all."
"It's called the silent treatment, Spock," McCoy said, not opening his eyes. "It means I'm mad as heck at you and I'm gonna prove it by keeping my mouth shut."
"You are failing considerably."
McCoy smirked. "And why would you care, Spock? I thought you processed information best when I kept my mouth shut. 'Sides, the only reason I'm talking is 'cause you're talking to me first."
Spock was quiet for a few seconds. "That is accurate. I will resume my investigation."
"Fine by me," McCoy muttered.
McCoy scowled down at his makeshift board. After their umpteenth round of checkers, he still hadn't won a single game. "You're cheating," he said decisively.
"Untrue, Doctor," Spock replied. "I am merely enlisting a simple algorithm to calculate your gameplay based on information gathered from previous matches."
"You make it sound so easy," McCoy grumbled sarcastically, sitting back. "Well, then, you're danged lucky!"
Spock tilted his head slightly. "Luck has nothing to do with it. I have just explained to you my method…"
"I know you did, Spock!" McCoy cried. "I was just teasing you."
Spock raised an eyebrow.
"So," McCoy said, "how about another round?"
"I believe we should return to the problem of our captivity," Spock said.
McCoy sighed. "There's nothing to return to, Spock! We've been locked up in this pit for almost two weeks with nothing to go on except those stupid little notes they sent us right in the beginning. We're their oversized lab rats. They're not gonna let us go until either they finish up their little experiment or Jim finally gets around to rescuing us."
"I'm sure the Captain is putting forward the utmost effort."
"So am I," McCoy agreed. "I only wish he'd hurry up about it. Do you know what it's like to be cooped up with a Vulcan for two weeks with nothing but slim reading material and a homemade board game? Oh, wait, of course, you don't."
Spock quietly accepted the jab before offering one of his own, "Just as I am sure you are not aware of the issues involved in being forcibly incarcerated with a human whose main purpose would seem to be that of preventing any feasible research from being done."
McCoy grinned. "Attaboy, Spock! That's the best comeback yet."
"Thank you, Doctor. You were correct in stating that it becomes easier with practice."
"But to be serious, Spock," McCoy said, "what have you gathered from those little notes? I mean, they're just simple to me…those Neelonis mean what they say and say what they mean."
Spock picked up the thin stack of papers and reread a line of the first one aloud, We seek to understand how humans adapt to new, unfamiliar, and even threatening scenarios. "Evidently, the Neelonis believe that by putting us in confinement together, they are witnessing how we adapt to 'new, unfamiliar,' and 'threatening scenarios'."
"We've worked together for years, Spock," McCoy said. "That doesn't fall under any one of those categories…except maybe 'threatening'."
"Agreed, Doctor," Spock said, and while his face remained placid, something of a smile shone in his eyes. "However, I believe that when they said 'threatening', they were referring to your injury."
"I guess giving us an old medkit was pretty unfamiliar and new," McCoy said. "However, why us? Why not Jim and you? Or Chekov and Scotty? Why were we chosen as candidates for the experiment?"
"While we have worked together for several years, it was always under the mediation of the Captain, who is, in short, our mutual friend. That dictates that we being in this scenario together would also be new and unfamiliar to us."
"Don't forget 'threatening'," McCoy said.
"I apologize, Doctor, but you must refrain from using that form of jest more than once. The more you utilize it, the less humorous it becomes."
McCoy was quiet for a couple of moments. "Noted," he finally muttered.
"But to continue our discourse," Spock said, "I believe that the answers to our inquiries lie within ourselves. Obviously, we were chosen as candidates for the experiment at hand because of our unique attributes."
"Go on then," McCoy said when Spock stopped short of explaining.
"That is all I have, Doctor," Spock said. "I hoped that you would expound on the matter, given your emotional understanding of the situation as the experiment appears to be entirely illogical. We have been here for almost two weeks with no further involvement from our captors other than to provide us with adequate food and water."
"So you want me to speculate…emotionally?" McCoy asked.
Spock raised an eyebrow. "Indeed, Doctor."
"Well," McCoy said with a grin, "Someone has had a change of heart."
"If you are referring to my previous comment about speculation being illogical," Spock said, "you are correct. However, I will further say that logic does not seem to be our captors' prime objective. They have placed us in a situation which requires a method other than the obvious."
"What you're saying is," McCoy mused, "is that this situation which the Neelonis have placed you specifically in, mentally, is 'new and unfamiliar' to you?"
Spock almost looked surprised. "That is true," he said.
"We've been thinking about this all wrong, Spock," McCoy said. "These crazy Neelonis haven't been testing us physically…they've been testing us mentally this entire time. Never once have we been hungry, too hot, too cold. Except for my head injury, which may have been an accident, we've been perfectly fine. We've been getting what we need when we need it. The only thing that has been 'new and unfamiliar' is dealing with the mental strain caused by each other!"
"Your theory does answer many of the questions we have been posing since our capture. Further, it identifies why we were specifically chosen."
McCoy smiled. "The two of us together, without Jim as our mediator, puts us in a unique situation which would be interesting to observe wouldn't it?"
"We do have a history of disagreeing with one another's methods," Spock said. "Placing the two of us together in such a way as to force us to accept one another's methods as valid sources of information would be a reasonable experiment."
"Too bad it took us almost two weeks to figure it out," McCoy said.
Spock shook his head. "All that we have just discussed is speculation, Doctor. We can not establish it as fact until we have evidence of it."
"What more evidence do you need?" McCoy asked.
"For the Neelonis to tell us that such is the case." Spock stood up and turned to address the darkness above them. "Have we completed your tests?"
McCoy waited with bated breath. He had full confidence in his conclusion, and he supposed, given the fact that Spock had again addressed the Neelonis with their verdict, that Spock also thought they had hit the nail on the head. As they stared up at the darkness above them, a door, which had been entirely invisible before, suddenly opened across the pit.
"You have indeed," the Neeloni said, entering the pit.
Spock simply turned to face the intruder while McCoy nearly jumped out of his skin.
"Gracious!" he cried.
The Neeloni smiled. "I apologize for frightening you, Doctor McCoy. I assure you, it was not intentional."
"I wasn't scared," McCoy said. "You just startled me, is all."
"Are we free to return to the Enterprise?" Spock asked.
"Almost," the Neeloni said. "First, allow us to debrief you on the details of these tests. We would like to help you understand our reasoning, and perhaps appreciate the effort we went to perform them."
"I do not believe that we are in any position to refuse your offer," Spock said blandly.
The Neeloni laughed. "Quite." He motioned for them to follow before he turned and disappeared through the doorway.
McCoy and Spock looked at each other briefly before they followed.