Title: Asclepius Revisited
Author: Still Waters
Fandom: Star Trek TOS
Disclaimer: Not mine. Just playing, with love and respect to those who brought these characters to life.
Summary: 76 McCoy episodes. 76 McCoy-centric reflections, codas, and missing scenes.
Notes: It took a few viewings of "Court Martial" to find something that grabbed my attention. I noticed that McCoy seemed a bit subdued in his interaction with Spock and the chessboard later in the episode. The usual routine of their back and forth was there, but McCoy wasn't as animated as I've seen him before. I also noticed how quickly McCoy understood what Spock was implying when he said he had won four games in a row. Going back to Spock's statement about human characteristics earlier in the episode, I decided to explore Spock and McCoy's scene through the lens of their own characteristics, both in their interactions with each other and their friendship with Kirk. As always, I hope I did the characters justice. Dialogue quoted from the episode does not belong to me. Thank you for reading and thank you to all who have continued to follow this series over the years. I truly appreciate your support.
Spock: "If I let go of a hammer on a planet that has a positive gravity, I need not see it fall to know that it has, in fact, fallen. Human beings have characteristics, just as inanimate objects do. It is impossible for Captain Kirk to act out of panic or malice. It is not his nature."
It was as certain as a hammer fall.
McCoy strode into the room, simmering anger barely visible under a shroud of helplessness; a heaviness that muted the expected opening of an aghast, "Well I had to see it to believe it."
Spock's reply was as just as expectedly succinct. "Explain."
"They're about to lop off the Captain's professional head and you're sitting here playing chess with the computer."
Spock verified the obvious. "That is true." He was indeed playing chess with the computer at that moment.
"Mr. Spock, you're the most cold-blooded man I've ever known." The core of the insult was nothing new. But there was no real vehemence, no barely suppressed shaking. It was a rote behavior that left Spock open for an equally rote response.
Spock took the insult as the compliment they both knew he would. "Why, thank you, doctor."
McCoy turned to leave, helpless worry smothering any further fire for the game.
It was time to spark that flame. Spock got to the point. "I've just won my fourth game."
McCoy turned back around, the rote response of wearily demanding an explanation for such a seemingly pointless non-sequitur eliminated by the immediate, logical understanding of what that statement implied. "That's impossible."
Spock invited McCoy to verify the statement, scientist to scientist. "Observe for yourself," he stated, narrating both his and the computer's chess moves.
McCoy's focus was absolute. When Spock finished, the physician's eyes moved back and forth from the chessboard to Spock, rapidly processing and understanding.
Spock held his glance pointedly for a moment before turning back to the chessboard. "Mechanically, the computer is flawless. Therefore, logically, its report of the Captain's guilt is infallible. I could not accept that, however." He looked back up at McCoy.
Whether pure, Vulcan logic or a deeply human refusal to abandon all that he knew of a friend, McCoy saw his own very human devotion and determination mirrored in Spock's calm eye contact.
Spock didn't have to elaborate any further. McCoy may have been prone to fits of wild emotion, but his scientific mind was quite astute. He understood what Spock had done.
McCoy's words were almost tentative around the hope they could offer. "So, you tested the program bank."
"Exactly," Spock confirmed. "I programmed it myself for chess some months ago. The best I should've been able to obtain was a draw."
McCoy straightened, shoulders set as he shed the heavy shroud of helplessness that had muted the start of their familiar routine. His voice softened, warming with Southern vowels as hope was restored. "Well, why are you just sitting there?" he gestured expectantly.
Spock followed the gesture to the comm. "Transporter room, stand by. We're beaming down."
There was no need to clarify the "we." Because, as Spock had testified, human beings had characteristics. And so, apparently, did friendships between humans and half-humans. Predictable characteristics such as disgusted statements of the obvious, curt responses of logic, and insults taken as compliments, all building to a crescendo of two scientific and devoted minds working together toward a mutual goal: the preservation of their triumvirate. For just as it would be against Kirk's nature to act out of panic or malice, it would be against both Spock's and McCoy's natures to do anything but support and defend their friend. When it came to countering threats to Jim, it would always be Spock and McCoy.
It was as certain a characteristic as gravity.