Title: The Elder and the Young (1/?)
Fandom: Star Trek AOS
Characters: Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Spock!Prime
Summary: Final part of a trilogy; follows The Boy and the Sea Dragon and The Man and the Memory. Jim's soul is caged, McCoy is dying without a cure, and Spock has hijacked the Enterprise in an attempt to save them both.
A/N: Not sure if it's canon or fanon, but Spock!Prime takes the name Selek to keep his identity a secret. I'm following that, plus the assumption that Jim never told McCoy who Selek really is, as hinted in The Boy and the Sea Dragon.
Acting Captain Spock greets the newcomer with a traditional Vulcan salutation. The older Vulcan returns the greeting with a lift of properly splayed fingers and a soft look in his eyes.
McCoy waits his turn before saying, "Welcome aboard, Sir."
"I would be most pleased if you address me as… Selek, Doctor McCoy."
The doctor nods his acceptance although he notes that Selek's eyes meet Spock's once in passing. McCoy has the feeling he just missed something vital. He looks between the faces of the Vulcans—which are uncannily similar and the question pops out of his mouth, "Are y'all related?"
Selek and Spock both lift their eyebrows simultaneously and that freaks Leonard out on a small scale.
"My house does share a common ancestry with Spock's," answers the elder when Spock is not forthcoming.
McCoy decides to let that line of questioning go and he steps back to make room for the Vulcan to exit the shuttle bay. "Well, we best get this show on the road before we're waylaid by troopers." He thinks off-handedly it's rather tickling that he now has two Vulcans to annoy with his turns of phrase.
Spock excuses himself when Leonard offers to show Selek to his quarters. The Acting Captain, no doubt, takes Leonard's statement at face value and is in a hurry to have the Enterprise on course again—and away from any other 'Fleet-manned ships scouring for the flagship.
Trying his best not to follow that dismal train of thought, Leonard focuses on the new arrival and, as Spock had quipped mysteriously, the key to finding a cure for xenopolycythemia. Selek and the doctor walk together, neither in a hurry, and chat amicably.
All too soon, Leonard shows Selek into the prepared guest's quarters and they stand awkwardly in parting at the entrance. At least, Leonard feels unsettled and awkward. The Vulcan is the face of calm.
Leonard clears his throat, "If you need directions, any of us will be glad to help. I'm usually in Sickbay unless duty calls me elsewhere."
"Your hospitality is gracious, indeed. However, I imagine that I will manage quite well without a guide."
Damn, he's doing that smiling bit with his eyes, like Leonard amuses the Vulcan by assuming that Selek is hapless on a constitution-class starship.
An old Vulcan without a stick up his ass, McCoy thinks wryly. He had thought them to be non-existent. Spock, with his half-Vulcan heritage, could be prodded into a tame humor once and a while. This one is similar—and if McCoy admits it, easier to talk to than the Vulcan he's known for several years.
And it's along that reasoning that makes Selek too familiar—and too strange in his relaxed state. Is it unique to him or a behavior that Selek developed with age? He doesn't realize that he has voiced that thought aloud until the Vulcan responds, "Fascinating."
McCoy stares. "Excuse me?"
Selek remains unperturbed. "Doctor, you are… as I anticipated."
"I hope that's a compliment."
"Then you won't mind me sayin' you're not quite how I pictured you."
Selek tilts his head. "Might I inquire why?"
Leonard is inspired to use a little tact. "When Spock said he had a Vulcan friend that knew—well, suspected—the myth about the Fabrini might be true… I thought you'd be a bit cuckoo for a Vulcan." Leonard winces, realizing it's probably not best to insult the person here to help save his life as well as discover one of the biggest medical breakthroughs of the century. "Sorry, I meant, ah, meant that it's kinda rare for a Vulcan to theorize solely from lore."
"I assure you that my theory is based in fact." Selek doesn't seem offended at McCoy's bluthering, foot-in-mouth syndrome, thank God. The Vulcan pauses, adds, "—Fact, as I have experienced it."
That's interesting. "What do you mean?"
"Perhaps that discussion is best left for another time, Doctor."
Leonard shrugs. "Okay." Then he remembers what he wanted to say all along. "Thank you."
Selek does not pretend ignorance. "While I appreciate your words, gratitude is unnecessary between us."
"I think it's rather necessary," McCoy says without heat. "After all, you're givin' me hope when I had none. I'm more thankful than you'll ever know."
Selek's gaze is heavy upon him and that signals an end of the conversation for McCoy. He tells Selek that it's best if he rest after the long journey to meet with the Enterprise, and Selek agrees. When Leonard turns to leave, Selek's words stop him.
"Live long and prosper, Leonard McCoy."
He looks back at Selek and answers, "I hope so."
Yet on the way back to his own quarters, McCoy thinks, But I fear not.
They—not just him and Jim but Spock too—are in deep trouble. While Leonard can handle the fear of dying, he can't survive the guilt of it, knowing that if he isn't cured, Jim dies. And Spock… Spock has trashed his career on the slim chance that the Fabrini can be found, a cure concocted, and McCoy saved.
Leonard hasn't told him yet about the deal with the sea dragon.
Perhaps Spock has made a grave error by believing in him. After all, when everything is said and done and no matter how Leonard pictures the outcome, one of them must lose in order for the others to win.
Two weeks earlier…
Spock stood alone in the Ready Room; McCoy found him there, silent and lost in thought.
"Spock," interrupted the doctor quietly.
The First Officer—now Acting Captain—half-turned at the sound of Leonard's voice. "Yes, Doctor?"
"We're ready to leave orbit."
Spock faced him fully then and McCoy got a good look at his eyes. Despite the Vulcan's resolute "Then we must proceed," Leonard stopped him with a hand held out, close enough to touch Spock's chest but not going so far as to breach the simple trust built between them.
"Are you sure?" McCoy told him, "No one will think less of you if you want to turn back. I won't, I swear it, Spock."
Spock stared at him in a strange way. "The choice is not easy, as it should never be, but I do not doubt that I have made the right one."
Leonard weighed those words. "I know you—and I know how selfless you can be, but sometimes, Spock, the stakes are too high. You and I and everyone on this ship know what Starfleet has ordered you to do. And it won't be on us when those orders are disobeyed." Leonard swallowed and said, "They'll declare you rogue."
He wanted positive proof that the Vulcan truly knew what he'd be giving up. "When Command catches up to us, the years you've invested in your career will be stripped away like they meant nothing."
"Doctor," Spock continued to say, "I am aware of this."
"Then how can you agree, Spock!" he cried. "I wasn't even in my right mind when I said let's do this—and, if I had been, I would have never said okay. It's not right that you have to sacrifice what you worked so hard to build—"
Spock stopped him with a firm "Leonard" and an insistence to speak. "I see no other way to convince you of my decision if you do not wish to be convinced. I will merely say that you assume incorrectly when you say I am selfless."
"I am not selfless," the Vulcan told him gently. "On the contrary, I am selfish in my actions. I desire only that which will set right a wrong… and I intend to pursue such a course until you, and Jim, are delivered from harm's way."
Leonard bowed his head. "I can't help but see how this is going to end badly for us, Spock."
Spock said nothing, then, only brushed shoulders with the doctor as he walked past. Silhouetted in the doorway, ready to enter the Bridge and send the Enterprise on a new and personal mission, Spock paused once.
Still he said nothing, the proud curve of his stature speaking for him. The moment passed. Leonard lingered in the Ready Room, only the slightest, brief hum of the ship signaling their jump into warp-speed. He stayed there, thinking of the man who should be in the Captain's chair but was not, thinking of Spock who now sat there, with steely determination and without regret.
Then he remembered the enemy who coveted that place of power, desired a destiny not rightfully his, and decided that the consequences of their present course could not match those of the alternative. Were they to give in to Starfleet and abandon their lost captain, in essence they would give in to the monster who stole James Kirk's soul. That burden would be too painful to bear.
As it stood, saving McCoy's life was the linchpin for saving Jim's. He knew this crew had no choice but to go on—and that he had to let them.