23/01/07: My first fanfiction ever. Chapters 1-4 were written before I took a hiatus from fanfiction due to ill-health. After three years away from this story, I've decided to clean up what has been written before writing the rest.
Prologue: Coming Home
"I must go down to the sea again,
To the lonely sea and the sky.
And all I ask is a tall ship,
And a star to steer her by."
Maesfield's famous poem echoed inside the head of the Captain of the U.S.S Enterprise, as he sat on the edge of his command chair, eyes fixed firmly on the view screen ahead. One spot on the view screen. One star. The same star all eyes on the bridge were fixed on.
It wasn't even a star, it was a planet. The planet. Earth. Home.
God, how long had it been? Five years? The time had flown by and, at the same time, it had been an eternity. An eternity of exploration, excitement and comradeship. Kirk had been uncertain when he first took command from Captain Pike, a little in awe of the shoes he would have to fill. He had hidden it well behind the brashness of youth, an easy manner, and arrogant confidence. But in his secret heart, he had been nervous, even fearful, that he would not live up to what was required of him, what this ship required of him, what Starfleet - what Earth - expected of him. And there had been times when he had despaired of ever achieving this, of ever reaching the goals he had set himself.
Had he ever regretted his decision to take this command, to enter the unknown, to go where no man had gone before?
This was who he was and, if ever he had questioned that when leaving Earth at the start of his five year mission, now, as they approached Earth at the end of it, no such doubts lingered."Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars."
"What was that, Lieutenant?" Kirk roused himself from his reverie as he heard the Communications Officer mumble.
There was silence for a moment. He swivelled around in his seat to look at her, noting absently there wasn't a dry eye on the Bridge. Well, not a dry Human eye, he amended quickly; his Science Officer was the only one not staring at that tiny pinprick of light Sulu had somehow identified as their destination from all the other tiny pinpricks of light.
There was an ephemeral glow to Uhura's cheeks as the Captain's eye fell on her, and she cleared her throat, not meeting his gaze. "Just a quote, Captain," she murmured, embarrassed she had spoken aloud.
Kirk grinned sympathetically at her. It was good to be coming home at last. "Understood, Lieutenant."
"Yeah. You don't get shot for expressing feelings," McCoy drawled from where he was leaning on the rails between Uhura and Spock. He flicked a glance at the Vulcan, who barely shifted position. Not even a raised eyebrow - it was as if he hadn't heard the Doctor's dig.
McCoy frowned and looked at Kirk, who met his gaze with weary resignation. It had taken a long time to build up the rapport for which the command crew, and three in particular, had become famous but in the last two years of the mission, that rapport had splintered slightly. The First Officer of the Enterprise had withdrawn slowly behind a rigid mask of Vulcan control and not even Kirk had been able to break it down. Occasionally, there were glimpses of the old Spock behind the mask, but that had become rarer as time progressed.
Kirk knew what McCoy's theory was. Spock's anti-social behaviour had started shortly after leaving Sarpeidon, towards the end of their third year into the mission. McCoy was convinced he had never dealt with the loss of Zarabeth. Spock had denied it, emphatically explaining to McCoy and Kirk when confronted, that extensive meditation on the matter had proven satisfactory and the events of that tragic time had been consigned to his past. The subject had never been raised again but Spock's isolation had continued. Now it was normal, accepted reluctantly. For the majority of the crew it changed little but for the command crew, those who knew him best and considered him a friend, the worry had become an unwelcome, but now familiar, companion.
"0900 hours." Sulu's voice brought Kirk's attention back to the viewscreen.
"What? Everyday?" Chekov sounded slightly dismayed.
Sulu laughed. "That's hardly early, Pavel!"
Chekov looked mortified. "I was planning a lie-in for at least a couple of days!"
"We'll be starting the second week, you've got time," Sulu's grin was almost catlike.
"You're going ahead with the fencing lessons?" Uhura asked curiously.
Sulu twisted slightly and winked at her. "Three months of shore leave while they refit the Enterprise. He's going to hate me by the time I'm done with him."
She grinned. "You're going to be in 'Sisco for this?"
"It is a travesty," Chekov shook his head. "America is not the place to learn fencing. The best schools are in Russia!"
A ripple of laughter around the bridge cut him off. "Didn't we kick you out of that habit, Pavel?" McCoy chuckled.
"But it's true, sir!" Chekov couldn't quite hide his grin.
"Ensign. Man your station."
Spock's flat, inflectionless voice stopped the merriment with more force than if he had shouted. Flushing, Chekov swung back to his station, correcting the navigation controls he had, for a moment, taken his attention off, muttering an apology only sharp Vulcan hearing could detect. Immediately, everyone was back to duty, heads down, barely breathing as they became aware of the speed at which Kirk and McCoy turned to stare at the First Officer. But the Vulcan had already turned back to his console, once more staring into the depths of his scanner as if oblivious to the effects his terse words had on the crew.
Eyes narrowed, McCoy bounced on the balls of his feet and, for a moment, Kirk expected him to direct some kind of comment towards Spock. Instead the doctor walked around the railings. Glancing at him, he moved towards the turbolift doors. Kirk rose and joined him, guessing his CMO didn't want Spock to overhear whatever he wanted to say.
"Officers meeting, informal. My quarters, twenty hundred hours. Without You Know Who," McCoy's voice was terse and so quiet the Captain had to strain to hear him at all. For a moment, the doctor's blue eyes met his, a gaze of steel. Then he turned away and stepped into the waiting turbolift, leaving Kirk staring in consternation at a pair of closed doors.
To say there was silence would be inaccurate. The gentle hum of the engines that one could hear when there was quiet, was an ever constant presence in the background and the floor reverberated softly in time with this mechanical music. There was no silence - but there was no Human activity. No voices. No chaos.
Was there peace?
His meditation almost ended there and then. Was there peace? There had been no peace in 1.93 years. If he was honest with himself; which was less often than others might suppose. He wondered what the good doctor would say if he realised just how difficult Spock found it to meditate these days.
When was the last time meditation had been successful?
For a moment, the Vulcan could not even remember and his eyes flew open to stare at the softly glowing flame before him, his only visible sign of distress to the walls who were his witness. 8.4 months. He should not have this difficulty in recalling precisely the order of events that touched his life. He was without balance, his centre was lost and, for a moment, there was a flutter of something in his stomach. Panic?
Spock closed his eyes, determined to achieve balance but though he slipped into superficial calm, his heart beat restlessly, a little more erratically than normal, and his breathing refused to drop. Once more he attempted to analyse the sense of loss he was facing, a sense of something missing that he only truly became aware of when he attempted to meditate, the ... emotion that had thwarted his Vulcan peace for so long.
He did not truly understand it and this lack of understanding affected him in ways he was only peripherally aware of. He knew what it reminded him of; he had felt unsettling loss after Omicron Ceti III and again after Sarpeidon. Both times, extensive meditation had brought him understanding; the lessons he had learned from these two planets were the same - the two women he had shared his time with had manipulated his emotions. While Vulcan instinct and Human need meant such emotions existed deep within his soul, it had not been his choice - or his desire - to experience them. He had learned something about himself each time, something valuable. And while he found the manipulation of both women abhorrent, he also valued their actions - his actions - for helping him to better understand himself.
So, if he was not unfamiliar with this sensation of loss, why then was he unable to come to terms with it? To acknowledge it existed, to accept it as part of him and who he was, and therefore to move on? What was different now compared to Omicron Ceti III and Sarpeidon? He did not understand.
But he knew one thing. The closer to Earth and the end of their mission they had come, the stronger grew his disquiet and the more difficult it was to meditate.
Many times he had tried to find a link between the end of the mission and this ... unease he was experiencing. Was it the sense of things ending that had made him uneasy? He discarded that idea immediately. 57 per cent of the surviving crew had already declared their intent to sign up for the Enterprise's second tour, including the command crew. He himself had not yet decided to rejoin but there was no sense of ending among the crew of the Enterprise, more a sense of ... renewal.
His disquiet confused him and created unusual indecision. His eyes opened again, this time to stare at the wall, the weapons gracing it and the deep red shades that reminded him of the Vulcan sunset. For a moment he almost felt homesick and, not for the first time, his thoughts turned to Gol. An emotional imbalance within him had brought him to an impasse Vulcan discipline was completely unable to resolve. His logic had failed. Because of emotion. This was not right. This was not Vulcan. It needed to be redressed.
But was Gol the answer? The disciplines would strip him of emotion; it would not find the cause of what was wrong, it would ignore the problem completely. That bothered him more than he cared to admit. He found himself contemplating Doctor McCoy and wondered briefly what his sparring partner would say to such an idea. He knew the answer: to McCoy - to any doctor - it would be comparable to a surgeon that had decided curing gangrene was unimportant as long as severing a damaged leg would stop the wound from getting worse. It defied the pursuit of knowledge by refusing to address why the wound had become infected in the first place. To purge emotion without understanding its source would deny self-knowledge.
Was not the pursuit of self-knowledge a worthwhile endeavour?
Was that not the point of Vulcan meditation?
He allowed himself to indulge in a moment of weary amusement. When he had first mentioned Gol to his parents 4.32 months ago, his mother had reacted with typical Human dismay but his father's reaction had been so unexpected that Spock had frozen in his tracks. His father had said very little, neither support nor protest, and had instead asked a single question. One Spock had not immediately been able to answer
"Our people know suppression and discipline is necessary but if its absence was logical would emotion have evolved on Vulcan?"
It was an almost heretical thing for the Ambassador to have even thought. But he had not just thought it, he had spoken it. Then left it hanging in the air for Spock to answer.
Spock's amusement now, no matter how briefly felt, was his acknowledgement of the irony that his father's question finally made sense; Gol would remove the emotions without granting understanding of the situation that had created the imbalance in the first place. Logic dictated his emotional imbalance was telling him something wrong had occurred that had not been resolved. All he was required to do was identify what that something was. Once identified, he could ensure the situation never arose again. Exorcising his emotions would deny him the value of a learning curve. It was not the solution.
Therefore, he would return to the Enterprise for a second tour, instead of journeying to Gol.
Decision made, and with it a sense of ... relief. Spock accepted that relief, recognising it for what it was, and then ruthlessly put it aside.
But it was almost with frustration that he realised his sense of unease remained.
Kirk wasn't late to the doctor's quarters that night. Not really. Three minutes past time, something Spock might have commented on but nothing a Human would raise an eyebrow at. He was therefore surprised to find himself the last person to arrive, McCoy's room already overflowing with everyone - Scott, Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, and, of course, the CMO himself. They were already discussing the subject for which Kirk knew McCoy had convened this meeting.
"Well, Bones?" he slumped wearily onto the Doctor's bunk as McCoy slid over to give him room.
McCoy's gimlet stare raked over everyone but it was Scott who spoke. "Aye, Captain. We're at our wits end with Spock. The damn Vulcan's got a bee in his bonnet about something and he sure won't budge on what. He's had maintenance stripping down Engineering for two weeks because of a misalignment in the coils that even I cannot detect! Claims he can hear it! My engines!" The engineer looked flushed and harried as he finished his outburst.
"And Science is walking on eggshells, Captain. They're working themselves to the bone for fear of his disapproval," Uhura glanced solemnly at Chekov who was looking at his feet. The ensign had always been incredibly loyal to Spock and was obviously feeling guilty about being present.
Kirk sighed. He didn't want to hear it but he knew that Spock often had to be pushed into admitting when something was wrong. "I can't deny that the Bridge has been a rather tense place for the past few weeks," he confessed slowly. "The minute Spock steps out of the turbolift, I can feel everyone's stress level rise," he leaned forward. "But Spock's insisting everything is fine and, honestly, gentlemen - ladies," he nodded to Uhura. "Has Spock actually done anything to endanger this ship or the crew?"
There were reluctant shakes of the head.
"Has he done anything that is not regulation or against the principles of Starfleet?"
There were a few sighs. McCoy opened his mouth but Kirk raised a hand to stall him. "And has he made anyone do anything they did not sign up to Starfleet to do?"
"Dammit, Jim, that's not the point and you know it!" McCoy's face turned purple.
"Bones. He's acting like a Vulcan. Are you going to try him for that?"
"Jim, open your eyes! Spock acts like Spock, and whoever the hell is up there doing your First Officer's job, it damn well isn't Spock!"
For a moment Kirk and McCoy glared at each other while the others watched in uncomfortable silence. "Bones, you know I can get Spock to tell me what's going on, eventually. It usually ends up with me threatening him in his quarters, but he does come round. I've spent months asking him if anything's wrong. He keeps insisting everything is fine. Let's say you're right and he is bottling something up. It's not like him to not confide in me what's wrong - and you know it."
"And if I'm right about it being Sarpeidon?" there was a challenge in McCoy's voice.
Kirk shifted uncomfortably, knowing the others in the room didn't know the full story of what had happened to McCoy and Spock there. "Bones, he was willing to talk about Omicrom Ceti III. And he seemed willing enough to discuss Sarpeidon."
McCoy flung up his hands in disgust. "There's talk and then there's discussion. Vulcans don't talk and they're damn good at discussing around the subjects they should be talking about."
Kirk's eyes narrowed. "You think he's not really faced what happened to him there?"
McCoy shrugged. "All I know is something's got him ill as a hornet. And it started just after we left Sarpeidon's system. So you tell me. What else could it be?"
The others listened to the pair debate in silence. They all knew from the reports that Sarpeidon had broken down the years of discipline and logic, making Spock emotional, aggressive and even barbaric. But aside from knowing that McCoy had been the one to snap Spock out of it and get him safely back to the Enterprise, little else was known.
"What do you suggest, Bones?" Kirk sounded tired.
"Well, we're on this ship for another two days. Then we've got three months shore leave. We can probably put up with him for that long. But Jim, you better tell him to see someone he can talk to before the next tour, before I have to make a psychological evaluation about his fitness to remain in Starfleet!"
Kirk stared at him. "You can't be serious, Bones!"
"Jim, at this point I'll wager he's not even meditating, and for a Vulcan that's serious!" McCoy took a deep breath, visibly restraining himself.
"But a psychological evaluation? Bones, you can't even get Spock in for a physical without a fight. You won't get him to speak to a counsellor."
"I was thinking of the Vulcan Embassy," McCoy said soberly. "They have Vulcan Healers there. I don't hold with all that brain poking that goes on, but Spock does. And if he won't talk to you, maybe he'll talk to one of them."
Kirk considered it. Then glanced at the others. Scott nodded gravely at his look. It was clear they agreed with McCoy. "Alright," he agreed reluctantly. "I'll talk to Spock one last time."
Uhura sighed. "You know, this might sound weird but it's a pity Chris isn't here."
They all looked at her in surprise. "You're right, Nyota, that does sound weird," McCoy rubbed his chin wearily, feeling the five o'clock shadow.
"I was just thinking that she used to be able to tell at a glance what was going on inside his head. Even when you and Jim had to bully it out of him, she'd always know. Or guess. I'm not sure which, but she was spot on every time."
"How is Chris doing, anyway?" Kirk asked, glad of the subject change.
Uhura glanced at McCoy, who grinned. "The girl's finished her M.D. She said she's got it, won't tell me the grade. Said she wanted to talk to me in person," he glanced at Uhura to see if she had anything to add.
Uhura nodded. "Same thing she told me," she smiled. "I think Chris likes stretching this out, which makes me think she did quite well. Bones, wasn't she on Vulcan until recently?"
He nodded. "Follow up on her thesis and dissertation. The Vulcan Science Academy was impressed with her papers. She was cited by their best minds as ... let me remember what she quoted ..."
"...'For a Human, Doctor Chapel has a most logical argument and her debate shows method and organisation,'" Uhura finished, eyes twinkling.
There were chuckles all round. "High praise, coming from Vulcans," Chekov sighed enviously.
"What was her thesis on?" The minute Kirk said it he knew he was going to regret it, but McCoy was already responding.
"'Cognitive neuroscience, a neurological study of extraterrestrial environmental acclimatisation.' She concentrated on Vulcans, Humans, Andorians and Trill who had lived for extensive periods of time on other planets," McCoy rattled off easily. "I believe she also took advantage of the situation to do a comparative study of the stress factors affecting metahypothalmic development in extraterrestrial environments too. It's this last paper that has the Vulcans buzzing. Her work is only preliminary, but it's setting the groundwork for further studies that could impact space travel."
Kirk's eyes were starting to glaze over slightly, but he could see McCoy had almost puffed up with fatherly pride and couldn't help smiling. "So, what's that in English, Bones?"
"Space travel and alien worlds might affect telepathic development, Captain," Chekov grinned.
Kirk looked heavenward. "What, and countless reports by overworked, downtrodden Starfleet captains isn't good enough that they've got to send scientists out to confirm it?" His words were harsh, but his grin was growing.
"Aye, Captain, and if they did it more of the time, it might keep some of them too busy to strip out my engines!" Scott shook his head mournfully.
"Scotty, anyone tell you that you have a one track mind?" Kirk glanced at the affronted expression on his Second Officer's face and laughed.
"Are you planning on taking shore leave, Mr. Scott, or are you going to make sure Starfleet doesn't damage Engineering too badly during the refit?" Uhura grinned.
A steel-eyed glint came into Scott's dark eyes at that. "They've banned me from stepping foot on the Enterprise while they refit her. Banned me! I'll be having words with what ever paper pushing bureaucrat decided that, you mark my words, lass."
Sulu laughed. "They know you too well, Scotty. What are you going to do for shore leave, then?"
"Och, there's a three week conference on a new shuttle design for the Constitution class, and then seminars on potential warp engine modifications and nacelle bracings," Scott seemed to be cheering up even as he thought about it.
McCoy shook his head and eyed Scott suspiciously. "If I wasn't your physician, Mr. Scott, I'd swear there was green blood in your veins."
"What about you, Captain?" Sulu asked.
Kirk grinned. "There's a mountain in Yellowstone with my name on it. Decided whether you're coming yet, Bones?"
McCoy shook his head in disgust. "I'm planning on waiting for Chris and finding out what she's got in mind for her new M.D. I'm hoping she'll take our xenology post in Science for the next tour since we're losing Matthews after this mission. I could use a doctor with a good knowledge of non-Human anatomy to back me up."
"What about M'Benga?"
"He isn't sure if he's joining us next tour."
"I'll help you convince Chris to sign up next tour, Bones," Uhura grinned evilly at McCoy, who winked rakishly back.
Kirk chuckled. "Well, if that's this little get together sorted out, I've got an early day on the Bridge tomorrow, and an anti-social Vulcan to track down beforehand." He rose and, to a chorus of "good night" and "good luck," exited McCoy's quarters.
Kirk's cheerful mood evaporated the moment McCoy's doors shut behind him. He moved off, making a beeline for Spock's quarters. This would not be pleasant. It might not even be fruitful. But his friends were right - it needed to be done. He took a deep breath and palmed the door chime.
Spock's response was immediate and restrained. In a word, normal. Holding his breath, hoping that response meant things really were normal, Kirk stepped into the hot, dimly lit quarters.
As he entered, the Vulcan turned away from his computer desk, dressed in robes rather than his uniform. Kirk stopped in consternation. "I'm sorry Spock, I didn't mean to disturb your meditation."
"You did not."
Kirk studied Spock closely. The Vulcan did not elaborate, nor did he initiate further conversation. He placed his hands behind his back, canted his head very slightly, and watched his Captain with patience and quiet dignity. Kirk couldn't make out the existence of a single emotion on that austere face. It unsettled him. He used to be able to read Spock so well.
"Spock ... I was wondering if you were up for a game of chess tonight," he began, suddenly a little unsure of how to approach the subject.
"I am not."
Again, no more words than necessary, no explanation forthcoming. Kirk felt his temper fray.
"Dammit, Spock, it's me! Jim! Your friend! You remember what that is? What the hell is going on with you these days!" he regretted the words the moment they were said, but he could not, would not, take them back.
Spock didn't move. He didn't even raise an eyebrow. "Is there something you require of me, Captain?"
"I require your honesty!"
"Captain, Vulcans do no--"
"Cut it out, Spock. Something's chewing you up and spitting you out all over this ship. The lower decks are scrambling to avoid you and command is worried sick about you. Bones is calling you 'more Vulcan than Vulcan' but I don't agree." He took a step closer and Spock's head lifted slightly, as if unsettled by the approach, but he did not back away. "If you were behaving like a Vulcan, you would be unaffected by emotion. But if I had to describe you right now, I'd say you were ... " he paused. How would he describe the Vulcan's behaviour, anyway? "Irritable!"
"You ascribe emotions where none exist."
Kirk stabbed a finger at Spock's chest, although he didn't actually touch the Vulcan. "You are irritable, Mr Spock. You're using the differences that exist between Vulcan and Human lifestyles to vent your frustration. Some people might scream and shout when they become emotional. Others become ... picky. They nit-pick everything. They complain constantly. You, Mr. Spock, are doing the latter. If you are not being motivated by emotion as you claim, why have you recently become so intolerant of the differences between Vulcans and Humans?"
Spock's eyes flickered. It was only a brief reaction but Kirk didn't miss it. He didn't recognise the emotion, however. It was gone too fast. "Spock, talk to me," he said more softly. "You know full well anything you say won't leave this room."
The Vulcan's head bowed slightly, so Kirk pressed on. "Is Bones right, Spock? Does Sarpeidon still bother you? Or is it something else?"
"I am unable to meditate," the Vulcan's voice was barely audible to Kirk and it took a moment for the words to sink in. Kirk watched Spock gravely, not speaking. So McCoy had been right about the meditation. Did that mean he was right about Zarabeth as well?
"How long?" Kirk asked softly.
Kirk frowned. "What happened 8.4 months ago?"
Spock lifted his head and regarded Kirk with a steady gaze. "Nothing of note, Captain. I had been ... " he trailed off. "I had been finding meditation was not resolving my ... questions adequately for some time before then."
"So how long in total?"
Kirk felt a surge of irritation flood through him. "Spock! You lied to me. All this time you stood there saying to my face that everything was fine!"
"I believe I told you that my questions concerning Sarpeidon were answered. That meditation had brought me resolution on that matter." Spock's tone was patient.
"Then what the hell is bothering you so much that you cannot meditate!"
Spock took a step back in the face of Kirk's outburst. Kirk reigned in his temper. Spock, like all Vulcans, claimed to be merely a touch telepath but Kirk sometimes wondered how accurate that really was. He had seen so many occasions where Spock had communicated telepathically without using touch that he often wondered whether Vulcans had some kind of law dictating acceptable use of telepathy and, if so, whether those constraints masked the true extent of Vulcan abilities. Certainly the times Spock had been involved in telepathic contact without touch, it had been against his will - either through orders, or through initiation by another party. But sometimes, like now, when he stepped away from those who were not in contact with him but emotionally stressed, Kirk's curiosity would rise again. He would never ask. He doubted he would ever be given an answer if he did.
"I do not know." Spock's confession was soft, almost beyond hearing again.
Kirk stared. "What do you mean you don't know?"
The Vulcan looked up again, the gaze steady but with a faint hint of reproach in those dark eyes. "Nothing of significance happened 2.01 years ago yet I have experienced ... unease ... since that time that has made it difficult for me to meditate for 1.93 years. Meditation has failed for 8.4 months."
Kirk's eyes glazed over. 2.01 years ago, what had been the stardate then? He glanced at Spock's console, about to ask the computer when Spock spoke again.
"Fifteen days after our rendezvous with the Potemkin and Starbase 2 regarding the actions of Doctors Lester and Coleman." The Vulcan's voice was almost gentle.
Kirk stiffened slightly at the memories that evoked, still finding the subject of what had happened then between himself and Lester difficult to talk about. Spock seemed to understand because he was silent again, watching his Captain with that familiar, patient gaze that Kirk hadn't seen for months. Kirk pushed the thoughts away and frowned. "Spock, we had quiet for three months after that. We were mapping binary systems and doing geological surveys. Nothing happened."
Kirk stared at Spock. "Did anything happen to you while we were engaged with the Potemkin or docked at the starbase?"
"No, Captain. I had only peripheral contact with the Potemkin and I did not beam down to the starbase. Experiments in biolab 2 were at a critical phase and required hourly monitoring."
"So, in short, nothing out of the ordinary happened?"
Kirk gave Spock a sharp look. It had been a long time since Spock had called him anything other than 'Captain' but he didn't take it as a good sign. The usually placid expression was ruffled by a mild consternation. In a Vulcan that indicated deep distress.
He leaned forward. "Spock. Bones is worried that if he has to do a psychological evaluation of you, your fitness for duty might be called into question. When we're on Earth he wants you to visit the Vulcan Embassy and speak to a Healer. I agree with him. I don't know what's wrong with you, my friend, but this can't continue."
Spock studied Kirk silently for a few minutes. "Understood, Captain," he said quietly.
Kirk nodded. "Alright, Spock," he sighed heavily. "I'll see you on the Bridge tomorrow."
The Vulcan nodded once, and Kirk left.
It was only later that night, as the Captain was drifting off to sleep, that he realised Spock hadn't necessarily agreed to speak to a Vulcan Healer after all.