by J. Rosemary Moss
Spock entered sickbay with no visible emotion on his face, but internally he was dreading the visit. Such dread was illogical—but it would be even more so to lie to himself.
This would be the first time since his failed marriage ceremony that he would face a physical. And McCoy was no longer ignorant of the Pon Farr. The doctor would be checking and double-checking to make certain that Spock was no longer suffering any ill effects from the blood fever. Spock had to fight to keep his cheeks from flushing in embarrassment.
Worse, the doctor would have quite a bit to say about Spock's prior secrecy on the subject. And Spock could think of no argument in his own defense.
"Hey Spock," McCoy said, looking up at him from the desk in his office. "Grab a chair—I'd like to talk to you for a bit before we get started."
Spock nodded, knowing that this 'talk' would be a thinly disguised lecture. A glance around sick bay confirmed his fears. Apart from the doctor and himself, it was empty. McCoy, apparently, wanted the freedom to express his quite justified anger.
Spock seated himself uncertainly, but made sure to give every outward appearance of composure. "We seem to be alone, Doctor," he ventured.
McCoy nodded. "Yeah. Spock, from now on, I'm going to make sure we have as much privacy as possible when you come for examinations. That way—well, it'll be easier for you if there's anything you need to tell me in confidence."
This time Spock did blush—and he was sure that the sudden green tint to his face was not lost on McCoy. He looked away in embarrassment, but then forced himself to meet the human's eyes.
"You are upset, Doctor, that I did not explain the blood fever to you."
McCoy regarded him steadily, but took his time about answering. At length he sighed. "Spock, I'm your physician. Your health and well being are my responsibility. Now you left me entirely in the dark. I knew that the chemicals your body was pumping into your system were killing you—but I couldn't figure out what was causing them."
"You did eventually figure it out, Doctor."
"Yeah—no thanks to you. Spock, why didn't you tell me what was going on?"
"The blood fever is not discussed with non-Vulcans—"
But McCoy shook his head. "That's not an excuse. First of all, when you accepted a position aboard the Enterprise, you knew damn well that there was no Vulcan healer at hand. You knew you'd have to trust yourself to a human doctor."
The human paused and sighed. "Secondly, Spock, you know that whatever we discuss about your medical condition is strictly between us. Do you honestly think I'd violate our doctor-patient confidentiality?"
Spock felt himself swallowing. "Doctor, I—I," he broke off and looked away again.
"Do you?" McCoy pressed.
Spock shut his eyes and shook his head. He knew full well that the human was trustworthy.
There was a long moment of silence. "All right," McCoy said at last. "I can only think of one other reason that would make you refuse to confide in me. Did you think—did you think that I would tease you unmercifully? That I would try to embarrass you?"
Spock opened his eyes as he forced himself to turn back to the doctor. "The thought had crossed my mind," he said dryly, "But—"
McCoy let out a string of curses, cutting him off. "Spock...oh, God damn it. Spock, listen to me. I know that I—that I poke fun of your logic and your green blood and your pointed ears. But I never meant any of that seriously." He paused, reconsidering that. "Well, maybe the logic," he owned, "but not the rest. Look, I respect you, I admire you and I'd never insult you in earnest. I've always meant it affectionately."
The human paused again and sighed. "If my idiot remarks made you think that I'd be looking to embarrass you—"
"Doctor, you did not allow me to finish," Spock interrupted. Then he paused, collecting his thoughts. He had not expected a heartfelt apology from McCoy. If he were human, he would have been oddly touched by it.
"I did fear that you would make some 'idiot' remarks," Spock explained at last, "but that is not the reason that I neglected to confide in you. I have always recognized the affection in your insults—and therefore your remarks have never troubled me. On the contrary, I find our sparring stimulating."
McCoy stared at him. "Are you certain?"
Spock nodded. "Yes, Doctor."
The human was visibly relieved. "Well, thank God for that. But if you knew I wouldn't violate your confidence, and if you knew I wouldn't try to embarrass you, then why wouldn't you tell me what was going on?"
"Because of my own ill-judged stubbornness," Spock confessed. "It was no fault of yours, Doctor. Vulcans have traditionally shrouded the blood fever in secrecy; I took that to an extreme—a life-threatening extreme. I regret that I did not display better judgment."
McCoy stared at him. "Are you sure that it had nothing to do with the way I've been treating you?"
Spock felt his eyes soften. "I could not ask for better treatment from any physician, Vulcan or otherwise. You are highly emotional, Doctor—and both too gruff and too sentimental—but you are astonishingly competent despite these shortcomings."
The human grinned, clearly mollified. "Thank you. I'll take that as high praise. Now, will you promise to confide in me from now on? No matter how embarrassing you might find your condition—and even if you violate some Vulcan taboo by describing it?"
"I promise, Doctor."
"Good," McCoy said, satisfied. "Now get your green-blooded ass on the examination table. Let's make certain that your body has healed itself from all the strain it's been under."
Spock opened his mouth at the reference to his 'green-blooded ass,' but somehow he managed to bite back a sharp retort. "Yes, Doctor," he said at last.
Both men rose to their feet and Spock meekly followed McCoy to the table. The sharp retort was still on his tongue, but he let it die there.
Under the circumstances, McCoy deserved to have the last word.