Title: THE RUNES

Author: T'Prillah (previously posted on the S/Mc Haven under a different name)

Series: TOS

Chapter 1 pairing: S/Mc, Sc/f

Rating: M--explicit slash. (If you are under 18 please do not read. If you have a problem with m/m relationships or slash then you might want to head somewhere else.)

Summary: McCoy buys some cursed love runes while on shore leave. In order the break the curse he has to have sex. But with who? Horror, angst, h/c

Beta: Thanks to McCoySpockLove for the beta. All errors remain mine.

Acknowledgements: Again thank you to McCoySpockLove for the feedback and the suggestions during the early drafts of this story.

Author's note: The Vulcan culture comes straight from the Vulcan Language Institute. Also, acknowledgements to "Spock's World", and "The Vulcan Academy Murders" where much of the Vulcan language comes from. However I have made up a few Vulcan words here and there where it suits me. For this story Leonard McCoy was born in Conyers, Georgia. Written in First Person, McCoy's POV. Takes place about a month after the events of "Amok Time".

Feedback: yes please. All positive or negative concrit is welcomed.

Disclaimer: STAR TREK is owned by Paramount, CBS, the old Desilu studios, Viacom, CBS. I make absolutely no money from this story. I use the characters of the Original Series of Star Trek under the rules of 'fair use'. Story is written solely by me.

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THE RUNES (Chapter 1)

"How much?"

"For you, Doctor McCoy, since I like you so much, I'll sell them to you for twenty-five credits."

"That's it?" It seemed like a bargain. Too much of a bargain. "Why only twenty-five credits? What's the catch?"

"No catch," the proprietor assured me. "These are pretty, no?"

That, they were. Enchanting, almost. "Fine. I'll take 'em." I watched him place the unique find into an equally stunning box. He mumbled something I couldn't hear then gestured to me that he was headed into the back to find a suitable ribbon to tie it with. "I don't need a--" I tried to tell him, but he was already gone.

To pass the time till his return, I pulled out my communicator:

"Personal log. Stardate 3372.12. I am standing here in the Exotic Collectables' shop located on the lovely planet of Berengaria Seven, smack dab in the middle of the main bazaar in the center of town, enjoying a well deserved shore leave for a few days. Ensign Chekov had beamed down with me but he ran into old girlfriend of his and well, now I'm alone. However, in about an hour the captain will rendezvous with me for a nice relaxing drink. We had invited Scotty along, but he, of course, begged off, claiming that it would be much more relaxing for him to stay on board and catch up on his technical journals. Excuses. Excuses. If he keeps that up I think I might start taking it personally. I don't think Scotty's ever taken a leave; not since I've signed on board. One of these days, I'll have to make it a medical order. Well, I'm not one to skip a shore-leave; medical journals can wait; thank you very much. While here, I plan on stocking up on a few needed items for my…uh…medical stores, and more importantly, relax and enjoy the scenery. McCoy out."

I finished recording the entry; reached behind me to stick the communicator back on my hip and as I did so, I could swear I heard it beep. It was a little early for Jim to contact me. Probably just my imagination. I hope.

I strained my ears in this noisy shop and heard nothing more. It was just my imagination. Probably someone else's communicator. There were other Starfleet personnel on leave milling around down here. It had to be one of theirs. I hope.

"Maybe I should actually check it to see if it has a message light," I mumbled to myself. "Then, I'd know for certain. Oh…stop being so paranoid, McCoy. Nobody is contacting you. Just relax." Damn my constant worrying about the ship. If I'm not careful I'll end up talking to myself.

I pulled the communicator off once again to check it (just in case). There it was; the flashing red light. I groaned and flipped it open. "McCoy to Enterprise. Is somebody calling me?"

"Sickbay here. Doctor McCoy." It went straight through to sickbay to my head nurse. Dammit.

"Chapel, I told you to handle any incoming consults, unless it's a dire emergency."

"Doctor McCoy." Christine Chapel's voice took on a curt tone, cutting sharply though this din. She must be busy up there, or somebody's giving her trouble. "I have a patient standing here who wishes to speak only to you." I was correct.

"Who?" For some reason, I knew damn well who she meant.

"It's Mister Spock. Sir."

"Put him on."

"Spock here."

"This had damn well better be important, Mister Spock!" I snapped then stopped short when I realized that the Vulcan just might have a good reason for pestering me. "What is it I can do for you?"

"I appear to be slightly afflicted with… an upper respiratory ailment," Spock's voice actually admitted.

Spock did sound a little off. "I've noticed," I said. "I can hear it in your voice. Do you have a sore throat?"

"Affirmative."

"I'm willing to bet real money that you probably waited till it absolutely killing you before you decided to do anything about it." I breathed out slowly and closed my eyes. "Put Chapel back on."

"Here, sir."

"What does his bio-readout say?"

"Viral infection."

"For the moment, Christine, please dispense to him some antiviral tablets." I heard my head nurse's footsteps fade away over the communicator in response to my order. I waited a few more seconds till I was certain she was out of earshot. "Spock, I know damn well you didn't signal me because of a sore throat. Are there any other symptoms you are experiencing?" I knew Spock only too well. There had to be something that he was reticent to discuss in front of Nurse Chapel.

There was a few seconds of hesitation over the link. Then: "Affirmative."

"Yes," I said very patiently. "Care to tell your kindly doctor?"

"I appear… to also… have a seriously upset stomach."

"How serious?"

"I merely wished your opinion on a course of action to alleviate--"

"Spock? Are you vomiting?" I heard nothing from him so I assumed that to be the case and he just felt uncomfortable saying it. I sighed and noticed a pretty girl standing near me. A very pretty girl. My type. Brunette, blue eyes. Curvaceous. I made eye contact with her, gave her a classic McCoy smile as I continued: "Nice job, Spock. I wonder how you managed to contract this." I continued staring at her until her very large boyfriend turned up. Ah well.

"Perhaps I spend too much time in the company of humans," said Spock. This was apparently a feeble attempt of his at a joke. However, his voice sounded resigned, almost tired and definitely had a un-Spock like scratchy quality to it. Excellent timing.

Spock sounded downright awful in fact. "Spock," I just had to ask. "Have you had diarrhea?" I noticed another very pretty woman, a blond this time, filling out her red Starfleet operations uniform nicely. She walked past me just as I'd said that gem of a word; she gave me a disgusted look. I smiled sheepishly back at her, mouthed : I'm a doctor!', shrugged, then turned away from her for some privacy.

"I have," Spock was saying to me, very quietly.

With that, my brain immediately went back on duty. Vulcans did not normally develop diarrhea. It could be dangerous. "Drink lots of water! Lots! I'm certifying you unfit for duty for twenty-four hours. No arguments!" I knew even via the audio only that the Vulcan was preparing to open his mouth in protest. "I'll be back up to the ship in ten minutes to take a look at you. Thanks a lot, really Spock. I might have been with a pretty girl, you never know." There certainly were a lot of those down here.

"I did not intend to interrupt your leave."

"Oh yes you did," I joked. "You're just jealous that I'm down here and you're not."

"Doctor, I am incapable of jealously."

"Oh, right. Right," I snickered. "I forgot about that important little detail. God, I'll be so glad when Doctor MBenga signs on board next month. With your track record of illness upon injury upon sensitive dietary requirements taking up most of my precious time, Lord knows we needed him."

"Doctor, that statement regarding my physical health is a complete fabrication. It is unnecessary for you to beam back aboard."

"I can't have a good time on leave when I know I have a sick Vulcan stuck on board the Enterprise. You know that."

"The illness I am afflicted with is relatively minor. I merely wished for a medical opinion regarding care till you return from leave."

"Relatively minor? How the hell do you know? You got a medical degree somewhere that I don't know about? You have diarrhea. That can be dangerous for a Vulcan. It would be my luck your illness would progress into something worse. The captain would have my hide if that happened. No, Spock. You're feeling ill enough to have signaled me so I'm beaming back aboard." I picked up my purchase and walked out of the shop, out into the open air, away from the crowds so I could do just that. Oh, God, it was so beautiful out here. Why did I have to go back up?

"I assure you, Doctor, I am perfectly capable of performing my duties after Nurse Chapel dispenses the anti-viral tablets," he continued his protestations.

"Well, I need to confirm--" I was silenced by the footsteps of Nurse Chapel returning with the antiviral.

"Here, Mister Spock, take this," I heard her say. I heard him reply back but I couldn't discern it due to all the chirping noise of the little flying creatures down here on Berengaria Seven. God, were they ever lovely flying creatures. Why do I have to go back up?

"Spock," I interrupted. "Who do we have still on board who can relieve you on watch, temporarily?"

"Lieutenant Uhura."

"Perfect. She needs to log some conn experience. Nothing terrible will happen while we're in autonomous orbit this far into federation space anyway." I shuddered at the thought. "At least I hope so! Go to your quarters and stay there for twenty-four hours. Ill be right up."

"Sorry, Doctor McCoy," said Christine's sympathetic voice. I could just picture her glaring daggers at our illustrious first officer.

"Yeah, well, cant be helped. McCoy out." I switched over to Lieutenant Kyle in the transporter room. "Mister Kyle. One to beam up."

I stood rigid and waited for the tingle.

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The beam seemed to take unusually long this time out.

I could see the transporter room slowly fade into existence as soon as my optic nerve partially solidified. However I could feel that something was terribly wrong. The transporter room suddenly disappeared and was replaced with Berengaria Seven. Then, I was back on the Transporter pad, then back on Berengaria, then back on the Enterprise with Mister Kyle in my field of vision, now looking panicked at me. In fact he was worse than panicked, he was bearing an absolutely terrified expression. Oh oh. Then I was on the planet again, then back in the transporter room. Then, I was back on Berengaria.

This could go on forever. This is how I die. I knew it. See? Didn't I tell Spock, this is how I'll die? Please God. Just don't let me be turned inside out.

I was unable to move in this living hell of bouncing back and forth. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the transporter room solidified around me. The beam released it's hold and I stumbled off of the pads, pitching forward, ready to throw up.

"What in blazes was that all about, Mister Kyle?!" I screamed at him, even though I knew this couldn't possibly have been his fault, but it felt so good to vent on him.

"Sorry about the rough beam up sir, there was a bit of technical difficulty," Kyle gasped at me. Eyes wide. His Bristol accent a little thicker than usual. I could see the sweat flowing in rivers down his face.

"Mister...Kyle." I shakily rested my hands on my knees to collect myself and also in a feeble attempt to counteract the nausea. "If I almost died in that thing, just now, don't ever tell me the truth. EVER. Where the hell is Scotty?"

"Down here, Doctor McCoy," came the comforting mumble from underneath the console. "We're fixing it now. I canna understand what happened. It seemed that a circuit on it--"

I was already out of the transporter room before I had a chance to listen to a detailed explanation. I didn't want to know. Just fix the damn thing.

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"Hi Spock." I breezed into the Vulcan's quarters without signaling, as usual. "House call."

"Completely unnecessary." Spock looked up from his harp, momentarily startled by my rather sudden, stealthy entrance.

"Let me be the judge of that," I grumbled. I plonked myself down heavily into Spock's wooden Vulcan chair and tossed my medi-kit onto his desk. "Bet youre sorry you signaled me."

"I am," he agreed.

"You, be quiet. Next time Im on leave and you get sick, you'll have to learn how to describe your physical symptoms to Nurse Chapel. Then you dont have to deal with me fussing over you."

"I prefer to be treated only by you," he stated in his distant, flat tone that he normally used when he was uncomfortable.

"Look, Spock," I complained. "You're making it very difficult for me to have any time off. At the moment I am the only physician on staff, till we pick up the two new doctors at the next starbase. If I'm not around, Chapel is quite capable of looking after you. More than capable."

He did not reply but continued wearing a stony expression.

"Alright, alright," I said, backing down. This preference of his wasn't anything new. He and I had been going round and round on this issue since Id signed on board. My workload wasn't so bad before my ACMO was killed planet-side two months ago. Now I was swamped. However, Spock trusted few people. I was one of them. I realized that I should feel honored. However, I didn't think much of his aversion to my head nurse. It was an insult to her. Mentally filing it away to pursue that conversation later, I changed the subject. "Why aren't you resting?"

"I am resting," he replied. In situ, Spock's voice was even huskier than usual. I found myself smiling warmly at the vulnerable quality of it. This was definitely a rare occasion.

Then I wiped the goddamn smile off my face.

"You've got human influenza, Spock." As I reported this I gave him my best scowl and clucked my tongue disapprovingly, just in case he was oblivious to my annoyance.

"A human strain? Not Vulcan?" By his innocent expression and tone of voice, I could tell he was entirely oblivious.

"Yes it's definitely...human," I sniffed with an air of mock disgust. "Hence the diarrhea. The strain you've contracted is relatively minor, but it'll affect you for a couple of days." Then, I really let him have it. "Mister Spock, when are you going to get it through your thick Vulcan skull to take it easy for once? This illness is a warning to you. You're continually running your bodily defenses into the ground, then finally you fall apart and I'm the one who is stuck putting you back together! What's worse is that you've been pushing yourself to the limit even more so lately!"

"How do you know this?"

"Because I know everything that goes on aboard this ship," I insisted. "Everything you eat. The exact time you actually go to bed. Down to the second."

"Fascinating. I had not realized my private off-duty hours were so much of interest to you."

I narrowed my eyes at our first officer, and decided to keep on going as if hed listen to me for once. "Think because you're half-Vulcan, you're invincible, huh? Well you're not. When you're not in Jim's quarters playing chess all night long or tuning that damn harp for God knows however long, you're pulling double shifts or helping Scotty out. Just when are you going to start sleeping properly? A couple of hours meditation a night isn't cutting it. I've also noticed that you're not eating enough. You've lost weight, nor are you wearing a sweater on your off duty hours and--"

My lecture was interrupted by a loud sound coming from behind the harp. "Is that a sneeze? Did I just hear you sneeze?" I couldn't help but laugh out loud at the ridiculous sound of it.

"Your hearing is not defective, along with your obvious surveillance abilities. I fail to see what is so amusing about my sneezing." He sneezed once again.

I cocked my small Type II medi-scanner at his nose, glanced at it and gave a loud sigh. "I've never heard you sneeze before. I didn't think Vulcan's were capable of such a thing. They probably think it's beneath them."

"Don't be insulting, Doctor. Since I am half human, I am capable of doing so. Granted, it is a rare occurrence." His voice was getting scratchier.

I snickered and regarded him almost fondly. "You're lucky that at the moment you seem so...fragile...or I'd be really angry with you."

"You are always really angry with me," he said.

I jerked my head up at that. He raised his eyebrow at me. Was he teasing me? Never.

He got up from his desk and reached for another mug. "I am not in any way, fragile, Doctor McCoy."

"Is that why this is the second time in six months you've come down with an illness?"

He pointedly ignored that. "Herbal tea, Doctor?"

"Is that what you're drinking to settle your stomach? Is it safe for me to drink?"

"I would not offer it if it was not."

"Well," I laughed. "Might be an easy way of getting rid of me." Spock let out one of his famous long suffering: Lord save me from these humans sighs. I shrugged. "I suppose I'll have one too."

Spock nodded and programmed the food processor for hot water, then put in a tea bag in for me. He set it down on the desk in front of me but it was a little too far from my grasp.

"Spock," I sighed. "Will you please just hand over it to me?" He pulled that crap every time I visited his quarters. Whenever he offered me a drink, instead of handing it over like a normal person, he would just set it down in front of me. It drove me crazy.

"I cannot," he replied hesitantly.

"Is that a Vulcan thing?" I asked. He nodded at me and I sighed one of my own famous: Lord, save me from all Vulcans' sighs. I leaned all the way over to pick up the mug off of the desk and took a tentative sip. "Hey, this is good."

"It is non-reconstituted."

I smiled. He knew I wasnt a fan of the tea generated from our food processors. "Yes, thank you, Mister Spock. I can see the tea-bag. I can also taste the difference."

"Pla-savas fruit, Doctor?" He motioned by a red glass blown bowl and I peered into it.

"Is that the notorious fruit that stains your teeth blue? No thanks." I tilted my head. "God, your voice sounds horrible. Stop talking so much, you're straining it. I'd recommend you put some honey in that tea, but you're allergic to it." I got up, moved in closer to Spock, reached up with both hands and felt the Vulcans lymph nodes in the neck. "You're swollen. Want me to whip you up something for your throat in the sickbay?"

"Negative."

My hands slid down to feel the nodes in the underarm but Spock pulled out of my grasp. "Get back here." He reluctantly came back within reach and I felt the nodes at the underarm. Oooh boy, were they ever inflamed. I bet his body was aching him. But If I'd asked him, he'd tell me 'no'. "I'm the doctor around here, let me do my damned job..." I mumbled to remind him for the ten-millionth time since I signed on board the Enterprise.

"One might have thought you missed your calling as a Starfleet Intelligence Officer," he said. At my glare, he actually smirked at me. "I am, also, most certain that Captain Kirk and Mister Scott would appreciate your presence on their shore party," he said, as I continued to examine him.

He tried to pull from my grasp once again, but I held on to him tightly. He got the message. "I trust I won't have to examine the nodes in the groin and that you'll just fess up and tell me if they're inflamed or not," I said archly.

"One could use the scanner," he scoffed.

"Dammit!" I snapped. "Who's the doctor around here?! Me or--"

"They are also afflicted," he replied.

"Good, you're learning." Somehow I think he did that delibretly. He liked to see how pissed off I could get before I blew my stack. I finished with my examination and sat myself back down in Spock's favorite chair which was also my favorite and attempted some casual conversation. "So is Scotty really going on leave this time? I don't see how he can right now. I left him in the transporter room fixing the transporter. It was malfunctioning just about ten minutes ago. I should know. I was in the beam."

"The transporter is fully operational once more."

"What about those damn technical journals he's so fond of reading instead of taking leave like a normal person? He's worse than you are."

"He has decided to abandon them to join you on leave."

"Finally I get through to that thick skull of his!" I laughed. "But I'm still not leaving you."

"Doctor," said Spock. His eyes were unmistakably filled with genuine amusement. "You behave as if I have contracted Rigellian fever. My stomach symptoms have nearly cleared, thanks to your potions, beads and rattles."

"Nearly? Are you being honest?" Out came my type II med-scanner again to confirm Spock's claims. "Yes but...your sore throat."

"That symptom has been alleviated."

I cocked a disbelieving eyebrow at the Vulcan, however my scanner concurred: Strain X3456 of Terran Influenza, patient cycled though all symptoms and nearing recovery. Dammit. The poor half- Terran Spock who could obviously pick up our puny diseases, sounded horrible and obviously felt just as bad even if he refused to admit it, was right. He wasn't ill enough anymore to warrant my continued presence. I could indeed check in with Spock via communicator if need be. "Open your damned mouth," I ordered as I pulled a wooden tongue depressor out of my medi-kit. He obliged me, and sure enough, no green-ness. Alright. Fine.

And...it would be six more long dreary months before I would get to take another leave. And I had to admit, I desperately needed some more time off. I was exhausted.

But...Spock just might take a turn for the worse while I was away. "I don't like it," I protested. "Forget it."

"Doctor. While you were down on Berengaria, I am certain you noticed the abundant parkland, Earth-like green grass, trees and blue sky. Much like your home state of Georgia on Earth, I believe."

I slipped my scanner back into the medi-kit and narrowed my eyes. "How do you know what Georgia looks like?"

"I have visited there, Doctor, as a child."

"Have you really been to Georgia?" Suddenly, I felt very pleased about that. "With who?"

"My mother. The woods of Berengaria and Conyers, Georgia are nearly identical, are they not?"

"Why would your mother take you to visit Conyers?"

"I have relations on her side who reside there."

"Really?" I smiled at that. "In Conyers, huh? I was born there. Hey, Spock wouldn't it be funny if we were distantly related?"

"No," he replied.

I didnt even waste my time with a snappy retort. Instead my thoughts were of home. "Yes, Berengaria's very close to Georgia," I said wistfully, suddenly unleashing my Georgia drawl, and falling helplessly into Spocks trap. "Spock you don't know how much I miss walking on nice, lush green grass. Being on the family farm, at home. The woods. Walking on Berengaria beats having to be up here, treating annoying, stubborn Vulcans any day."

"If you find me so stubborn and annoying, Doctor, why would you wish to spend any more time up on the Enterprise with me than absolutely necessary?"

I knew what he was doing; I wasnt falling for it. This time. "I have to. Because I'm the only one on the medical staff you trust. That does mean a lot to me." I waited for the reaction…and there it was. I smirked. "I know you more than you think I do, and I know you'll just suffer in silence till you are desperately ill. Then if you suffer a relapse while I'm down there, I'll feel guilty that I wasn't up here for you and forever kick myself. So you see, Spock. Logically--" Ha, I knew I'd get a sharp look for that one. "I know it won't be worth the grief."

"I once spotted a dragon," he said, changing tack. He wasn't going to quit, was he?

"A dragon? Where? In Georgia?"

"On Berengaria Seven."

"A real dragon? Are you sure?" At his nod, I drank a gulp of tea and studied it, thinking and playing with the mug's handle. "I wouldn't mind studying a dragon. It really is too bad you couldn't have joined me down there, Spock. You and I could have had a nice little drink, maybe with fruit and an umbrella."

Spock shook his head. "One does not need to consume a beverage under an umbrella. The sun of Berengaria Seven is not hot enough to require shelter or sunscreen of any kind."

I stared at the Vulcan's comment dumbfounded for a few seconds, then gestured wildly. "No no Spock! It's not a real umbrella. It's a...little one that goes inside the drink. It's made from paper and a wooden toothpick. Its sort of something you do on vacation, or a cruise."

I could tell that he still did not comprehend this. This time he tilted his head like my old dog back in Conyers used to do.

"Forget it. It's takes too long to explain." I let my hands fall onto my lap and chuckled. While it was a little frustrating, I found myself enjoying this little conversation with Spock, immensely. Apart from my telling him off, and his comparing me to a witch doctor' as usual (with that beads and rattles crack) we weren't arguing much, for us. The light arguments we were having lately, actually seemed perfunctory. Lately it seemed that we were finally becoming relaxed with one another.

So, since we were being so unusually relaxed with one another these days, I decided to go out on a limb and venture something I never normally would dare. "Spock?"

"Yes, Doctor?"

"Would you of had a drink with me?"

"We are having one now."

"I meant, a real drink. Or, your preferred tipple, an Altair water. See? I remembered." I rubbed my sweaty hands on my trousers. "What I meant was. It'd be…nice to relax with you one of these days on a shore leave. I'd like to interact with you as a friend. Not always with the captain. Just us two." Oh, what the hell was I saying? Was I overstepping the line?

Spock just looked at me, but I could see him processing what I had to say. "That would be...acceptable."

Just, acceptable? Oh. Maybe that was a hint for me to knock it off. We were relaxed around each other but not too relaxed. The problem was I never knew where I stood with this Vulcan. Maybe he preferred it like that. I guess I did too. I cleared my throat and added in a harsher tone, "You could have beamed down too with me and Jim if your Vulcan hide hadn't been so ill."

"You, Doctor McCoy, are exceedingly paranoid about my health. I am not that ill."

Paranoid?! Oh... He was slipping us back into our familiar territory. Something safe like the usual arguing. Alright, fine. I'll bite. I grimaced and mustered up my best retort. "Spock! I said I will be the judge of that!"

The bosun's whistle cut me off. "Kirk to Spock."

He leaned over and flipped the switch. "Spock here."

"I heard youve been relieved of duty. I can't find McCoy. So then what's happening with the--"

"Dr. McCoy is with me, Captain," Spock said quickly.

"Bones?"

Glancing at Spock quizzically, I came up to the viewer so Jim could see me. "Here, Jim. Hey, Spock...uh...he has the flu."

"Flu?! How serious?"

"He's nearly over it. However, I do want to stay on board and monitor him to be on the safe side."

I thought I heard a cough from the captain but I wasn't sure. "Bones! Stop being such a mother hen. Chapel can take care of him, you'll wear your communicator in case of an emergency. It's been six months since you've taken a leave. Be here at the beamdown point in five minutes, or else. Kirk out."

The image of Jim's face down on Berengaria dissipated to a flat grey empty screen.

I immediately opened my mouth to snap at Spock but was interrupted by one word from the Vulcan: "Go."

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END OF CHAPTER 1, Continued in Chapter 2...