The Katra's Legacy
by J. Rosemary Moss
Spock stepped into the hotel, almost grateful for a haven from the bleak, oppressive rain outside. He did not waste time in the lobby, however, but went directly to the concierge for the number of Dr. McCoy's room. Then he made his way to the proper floor.
He found the room immediately, but he paused before pressing the button that would inform Dr. McCoy that a caller stood without. There was no need, he realized. The doctor would have left the door unlocked for him.
Spock entered without incident and glanced around the room. There were two separate beds, a large sitting area and a window that would provide, in clear weather, an impressive view of the San Francisco Bay. The room would be more than adequate, he decided.
And there was more evidence that Dr. McCoy had known he was coming. The temperature was higher than the doctor generally found comfortable—it was almost high enough to suit a Vulcan. And there was a tray of what appeared to be vegan snacks set out.
The doctor himself was not present, but Spock seated himself in a chair without any fear of invading McCoy's sanctum. He knew that McCoy would return soon enough from whatever errand had called him away—and that the doctor would expect him to make himself comfortable while he waited.
Fifteen point three minutes passed before Spock heard Dr. McCoy's footfall. He stood up, waiting for his friend to enter the room. As McCoy did so the eyes of the two men met—and Spock could see relief mingled with sorrow in the doctor's.
"Spock," he said. "I was hoping you'd get here today."
"I arrived as quickly as I could, Doctor."
"I know," McCoy said. "This place is booked—you'll have to bunk with me. I'll even let you pick which of the two beds you want."
Spock nodded. "That is satisfactory."
McCoy nodded back, but then stood there uncertainly for a moment. At length he moved toward Spock with one arm outstretched. Spock grasped it—but he understood that, under the circumstances, the human required more than this mere clasp of arms. And perhaps he did as well.
And so he pulled McCoy to him. The doctor returned his hug whole-heartedly—he did not even seem surprised by it. For a long moment both men just stood there, each trying, without words, to comfort the other. McCoy finally broke off from Spock, but not before grasping his shoulders and giving him a look that was both weary and affectionate.
"I missed you," he said. "And God, I miss Jim."
"I know, Doctor," Spock returned.
McCoy nodded and released him. "I still can't bring myself to believe that he's gone," he continued. "I can't stand to think that the three of us will never be together again. Starfleet has a memorial planned here—it starts the day after tomorrow—and then we might need to go to Iowa…"
He continued to rattle off the schedule of the various rites that would mark Jim's passing. Spock made a mental note of each as he sat down again.
McCoy took a seat opposite him. "Those snacks are vegan," he said, nodding at the tray.
Spock nodded. "My thanks, Doctor." Then he paused and gave his friend a critical look. "You have not been eating," he said. It wasn't a question.
McCoy gave him a wry grin. "You're not the physician here, remember? I'll eat when I'm damn good and ready."
"I have no wish to lose you through starvation, Bones," Spock said pointedly.
McCoy's eyes widened at that. He was moved—as Spock had intended—by the Vulcan's use of the nickname that Jim had bestowed on him. Spock had called him 'Bones' on only one other occasion: years earlier, when both he and the doctor had mistakenly believed their captain dead. Spock had quoted what he believed their captain would have said.
McCoy rolled his eyes and grinned again. "All right," he said. "Pass me one of those god-awful things."
Spock did so and watched the doctor make a face at it. But he ate it regardless.
"I'll eat tonight too," McCoy promised as he finished the snack. "I found a good restaurant for us—it's a kosher-Indian-Thai place with plenty of vegan selections. They say they can even make Vulcan dishes. Will that do?"
"Yes," Spock assured him.
McCoy nodded. "Good. I made reservations for 21:30—I know that's a little late, but I wasn't sure exactly when you'd get here."
"But you knew I would be here today," Spock said. Again, it was not a question.
The doctor shrugged. "I guessed you would."
Spock narrowed his eyes at him. "Doctor, I have been told that…that the act of mourning often enables humans to discuss what they would otherwise leave unsaid."
"That's true," McCoy owned, suddenly looking away. Then he turned back to Spock with a half-joking expression. "What's wrong, Spock? Do you finally want to tell me how much you care?"
Spock cocked his head at him, ignoring the joke. "I have never thanked you for…for carrying my katra. Nor have I apologized for forcing it on you. I wish there had been time for me to ask your permission and explain the risks that you would undergo."
To his surprised, McCoy flashed him a rueful grin. "That was the second time you forced a mind-meld on me," he said.
Spock raised an eyebrow at that. "Specify, Doctor," he ordered.
"No—I'm wrong," he answered, looking down. "It wasn't precisely you that first time—and it wasn't precisely forced."
"You speak of the Mirror Universe?" Spock knew that his 'counterpart' had mind-melded with McCoy, although the doctor had spoke little of the matter except to confirm that it had happened. "I was under the impression that my counterpart did, indeed, force you."
"He didn't," McCoy said quietly, still looking down. "I didn't exactly invite him in, mind, but I didn't fight him. I couldn't, Spock. He was—well, he was too damn much like you. So I—I trusted him."
Spock considered that. "That trust, it seems, was justified."
"Yes, it was," Bones agreed, his voice surprisingly flat. Then he turned back to Spock. "And you were justified to trust me to carry your katra—even if you had to knock me out and leave me without any instructions."
"What I did to you, Doctor," the Vulcan said carefully, remembering the precise moment that he had rendered the human unconscious and inflicted his katra on him, "violated your person, your privacy and put you at risk. It could be construed as a type of rape."
McCoy's eyebrows shot up at that. "Is that how you thought of it? My God, Spock, I never did. I just thought it was your revenge for all those arguments you lost."
Spock almost smiled at that. But his face quickly grew serious again. "And after the fal-tor-pan we were both left with a legacy from the fact that you housed my katra. There is still a bond between us, Doctor."
"I know," he said with a shrug. "They warned us about that back on Vulcan, remember? Well, maybe you don't. You were pretty out of it at the time."
"I remember," Spock corrected him. "The priestesses hoped that it would fade with time. It has not. I believe it has grown stronger. And it may grow stronger yet now that—" he broke off.
"Now that Jim's death has drawn us closer?" McCoy finished.
"Yes," Spock said.
McCoy considered that. "So what are you saying?" he asked. "That you wish to remedy this situation?"
"It may or may not be possible to remedy this," Spock explained. He paused, studying the doctor intensely. He could feel McCoy's agitation—but the doctor was not upset by the presence of the bond. He was upset at the thought of its removal.
Spock raised both eyebrows at that. "You…you want this bond to remain. Am I correct?"
"You're correct," McCoy admitted, leaning forward in his chair. "Spock—look, don't misunderstand me. I'm glad that your katra is back where it belongs. I'd have gone crazy if both of us were still stuck inside my head. But—during the fal-tor-pan…I felt like someone tore out half of my soul."
He paused and gave Spock a wan smile. "The better half."
Spock did not trust himself to answer that.
At length, McCoy shrugged again. "If it's a problem for you, Spock, then I'll do whatever you think best to try to get rid of the bond. But…hell, you're my best friend. I don't mind having an inkling of where you are and what you're thinking at any given time."
Spock took a deep breath. "Very well, Doctor. I am satisfied to leave the bond in tact. I do not even know if it would have been possible to destroy it."
McCoy looked relieved. "Good," he said. Then he spoke quickly, as if anxious to turn the subject. "I'm going to rest up for a bit. Wake me up in about two hours, all right?"
"I will, Leonard."
McCoy grinned. "First Bones, now Leonard—I'm not sure I can stand all this intimacy, Mr. Spock."
"I will not keep it up, Doctor," Spock assured him.
McCoy laughed appreciatively and then consulted with Spock over the beds. Once the necessary decisions were made, he got up, kicked off his shoes and began to stretch out on his.
"Before you rest, I will issue you an invitation," Spock said, watching him closely. "I believe your latest research into alien physiology would be improved by use of the facilities at the Vulcan Science Academy. I can offer you both access to the facilities and the hospitality of my home."
The doctor sat up. "Why, thank you Spock. I'll take you up on that, on one condition."
Spock cocked his head at him. "What condition?"
"That you come to Georgia with me first for a vacation. You'll like it down there—it gets almost as hot as Vulcan."
"Vulcans do not take vacations," Spock pointed out.
"Think of it as a meditative retreat then," Bones said with a wink. "Come on, Spock—don't you think I want to show off the ancestral home too?"
Spock frowned. He recognized the teasing note in the doctor's voice, for surely McCoy understood that a Vulcan had no need to 'show off'? However, it was clearly important to the doctor that Spock make the journey to Georgia, even though Spock could think of no logical reason to do so.
"Very well, Doctor," he said.
McCoy grinned. "Thanks, Spock." Then he rolled over onto his side, away from the Vulcan. A few minutes later his breaths became deep and even.
Spock waited until he was certain that the doctor was sleeping and then exhaled slowly.
The doctor did not understand the depth of the bond between them. He did not understand that Spock could not seek a mate while he was so deeply bonded with him. It was not, Spock thought, that he had intended to seek a mate. But he had not ruled out the possibility.
Since Dr. McCoy did not understand the bond as a marriage bond, it should not prevent him from seeking a mate—so long as he did not seek a Vulcan mate, of course. But in Spock's judgment, the chances of Bones seeking a Vulcan mate were…well, so negligible that he did not calculate them precisely.
So the bond held only comfort for Dr. McCoy. There was no disadvantage for the human.
Spock sighed. If he had explained what the bond meant, McCoy would have insisted on finding some way to break it. Spock knew that with absolute certainty. McCoy would be crushed if he thought that he was preventing his friend from marriage and a family.
It was well, then, that the doctor did not understand the true nature of the bond. For this, Spock realized, was something he could do for his friend: he could leave him with the comfort of their bond, without explaining the price of it.
At length Spock stood up and walked over to McCoy's bed. He sat down on the edge of it and placed a hand on the doctor's shoulder.
"Parted from me and never parted," he said softly. As the vow indicated, he and McCoy might choose to go their separate ways in the future, but no amount of distance between them would ever separate them again.
And, although it was illogical, Spock found that he was glad for it.