Part Eleven was posted yesterday. Read it first if you have not!
This series broke my brain. TRUFACT.
For those of you who faithfully stuck with me as the story arc turned trilogy, you will understand me when I say this has been a long, intense, and often painful road. There were times when I was certain that I had created a monster that no one - including our beloved men - could defeat. Towards the last chapters of The Boy and the Sea Dragon, it became apparent to me that this story was moving beyond the scope of a creature fixated on Jim Kirk; in fact, there had been creatures plural and while Jim seemed to be at the heart of things, I kept wondering why they were drawn to McCoy. What made Bones so special? Then the finale happened and I was shocked at what I had written. I didn't think I would pursue the storyline further.
The Man and the Memory was born unexpectedly; in particular, in a POV that I have never before attempted in a ST fic. It was McCoy - and it was a McCoy that had no idea who he was or what had happened. I thought: oh God, how many times can you bring the hammer down on Leonard before he breaks?
Apparently a hell of a lot!
Soon after I began the middle piece, I realized again that something strange was happening. The creature was developing a particular attitude towards McCoy - and it often crossed the line from creepy to obsessive. Again, what was it that made our beloved doctor the focal point of such desire? And perhaps more importantly, would he survive?
I won't go on to bore you with details. Let's just say… Angst much?
At times I thought that if I kept going, the story would become too heavy to bear - or write. It was surprisingly Selek who helped calm me, as he established a solid and protective presence in the last part of the trilogy, The Elder and the Young (which, if it isn't obvious – alludes to the two Spocks). So if Spock!Prime was there, all hope had not been lost. I continued to write, the sea dragon continued to toss obstacles in my way, and low and behold… we come to the epilogue!
With that said, it's about time I wrapped up the last loose ends.
Leonard sprays his mouthful of coffee over his desk. Jim is safely out of range, smiling with one booted foot propped on the edge of another chair.
The doctor wipes his mouth on his sleeve and mutters a curse. Then, "God, Jim, you said what?"
"Well," muses the man, "it was either that Spock wasn't really Spock when he commandeered the ship—"
They both know that won't work on the Admiralty—and that the First Officer was very much in his right mind when he made his command decisions. Spock would be insulted if anyone insisted otherwise and announce that, yes, he disobeyed and, no, he hasn't an iota of regret (though Spock would be coldly formal with his phrasing and not an angry mess like McCoy). Vulcans are stubborn; enough so that McCoy often dreams of slapping a kit and caboodle of 'em upside their pointy-eared heads.
There is also little chance that they could convince the Vulcan to remain silent while someone concocted a story about the creature who stealing the ship in the guise of Acting Captain. Spock is too steeped in honor to let that pass. Alas, while Leonard appreciates an honest Vulcan, one of these days, the doctor is going to make Spock sit down and take lessons from Selek on subtle word play.
Jim is still talking, narrowing his eyes in memory. "—which wouldn't work, or our best option which is some tiny-print regulation that states an officer in command can disobey a direct order if he has sufficient evidence to prove that the order would make a hostile situation more hostile. I think. Selek explained it to me with much bigger words."
"Well, that's actually the truth, Jim. We had a power-hungry—" Hungry for other savory bits too. "—and dangerous creature hiding on the ship." Leonard purses his lips. "Spock is capable of arguin' that case until Command breaks down and folds just to make him shut up."
Jim's eyes twinkle. "Pike said nearly the same thing. It won't soothe everybody's tempers but we have enough eye-witnesses and injured parties on our side to prove the case."
Leonard stares at Captain Kirk for a minute. Then he chuckles in relief. "Can I lie and tell Spock we want him to act possessed like Sulu?"
"Bones, it's not nice to tease a Vulcan."
"'Cause they only pick up on half of the teasin'—a waste of good jokes, if you ask me," replies the doctor.
The two men share a grin.
McCoy sobers. "So you told Pike the whole story." He doesn't bother to make it a question.
Jim nods anyway. "Admiral Pike is one of the few men who would believe the tale—and approve of the actions taken, maybe reacted in the same way if it had been a member of his old crew. He also understands Spock's value to Starfleet—as an officer in both command and science." Then Kirk adds more softly, "And Christopher knows what would happen if Command tried to remove Spock as my First Officer."
Leonard says nothing, because that tone of Jim Kirk's voice alludes to a fierce side of the man that only comes to light when Kirk's family is threatened. It's rarely seen but deadly.
"So," Jim continues, "we will dock the Enterprise at the nearest starbase. Pike's already working on removing the bounty against us."
"Do you think those jack-asses in Command will agree to rescind it?"
"Yeah, I do. They want their ship back in one piece—and we can outmatch any other 'Fleet vessel in a battle."
Leonard finishes, "And the sooner we get to the base, the sooner they can flock over us like vultures waiting on a tasty piece of carrion."
Sighing, Jim rubs the back of his neck. "Yes, the ship may be on lockdown for some time."
While its crew is interrogated, prodded and poked for lies or any gaping holes in their story. McCoy doesn't look forward to that, not at all.
"The good news, Bones, is that you're going to have the medical breakthrough of the century when we're there."
He lifts an eyebrow and responds dryly, "I am?"
"I'm not taking all the credit, Jim. The Fabrini deserve the recognition."
"I know, Doctor," answers the Captain. "I wouldn't expect you to do otherwise."
"So how do we explain Yonada? 'Guess what, the Enterprise sort of ran into an asteroid ship while being chased across the galaxy!'" Sarcasm makes Leonard feel much better. He lifts his cup of coffee to take a satisfied swallow, only to realize that the liquid left in bottom is cold. With a grimace, he discards the mug and fixes his 'serious face' on the man seated across from him.
Jim meets his look with one of amusement. "That's not a bad idea. In fact, didn't the creature practically input the coordinates into the navigational system?"
"So we use the truth—slighted skewed, of course."
And consider it a bonus that they can prove their misadventure saved Daran V from obliteration. Command is going to have a lot of "good press" shoved down their throats. Leonard ought to make a few calls to colleagues—sneakily spread the word of his impending cure for xenopolycythemia. The more people excited about the miraculous things the Enterprise has done while out in space, the more heat Command will take if they decide in favoring of relieving an officer of duty.
Leonard's sharp eyes don't miss the way that Jim winces as he turns his head.
"Headaches any better?" he asks mildly, already scanning the top of his messy desk for a tricorder.
"Yes and no. They don't last as long as they used to but they hurt—Jesus, do they hurt."
"Don't take the Lord's name in vain, you heathen."
Jim rolls his eyes and points out that McCoy commits that sin more frequently than anyone else on the ship.
Leonard says, "For Christ's sake, most of the people on this ship aren't even religious."
Then he realizes what he just said, and Jim laughs in his face. In retaliation, he forgoes the medical tricorder in lieu of direct treatment. Jim's eyes widen when the doctor circles the desk with a hypospray in hand.
"Calm down, Bones!"
He gives Jim a quick shot to relieve the migraine. It is satisfying to know that by now Jim understands that running away is futile. Leonard has other, more cunning methods for medicating his captain if need be—and Jim's personal yeoman on his side.
"If your migraines don't ease off in the next month, I'm going to start treating you for tension headaches, Jim."
Kirk frowns. "I don't get tension headaches."
"Sure, kid. Keep telling yourself that."
Leonard won't mention the fact that in another universe, James T. Kirk did suffer them frequently and that Doctor McCoy had his captain on a regular prescription. Old Spock is full of such useful information.
He stills in the middle of laying down the half-empty hypospray on his desk. "Shit, I forgot! What about Spock?" At Jim's look, he hastily tacks on, "I mean, Old Spock. Doesn't that throw a wrench into things?"
"Why should it? Selek showed up for a visit with his friend Captain Kirk; it's no secret that we communicate regularly. How was he supposed to know that the Enterprise had been infiltrated?"
Jim's answer is so smooth that Leonard almost believes Selek did unknowingly walk into a danger zone. Since he cannot rebuff Jim, nor wants to, Leonard focuses on the only part that riles him. "'No secret,' huh, Jim?" the man remarks idly as he settles a hip against the desk and crosses his arms.
Jim squirms under his stare, suddenly no longer the smooth-talking Captain and more of Jim-boy, an idiot who forgot to mention a very relevant piece of information to his best friend.
"You wouldn't have believed me, Bones."
"About an alternate universe green-blooded hobgoblin that helped you save an entire planet? Jim," Leonard sighs. "we've seen a lot of crazy with a capital C over the years. I promise I would have believed you." He pauses. "Eventually. After your medical examination for dementia came back clean."
Jim pulls his Don't you pity this sad face? look. "I'm sorry."
"Apology accepted." McCoy leans forward into Kirk's personal space. "But think careful now, Jimmy. Are there any more—" At the look in Kirk's eyes, and knowing that it would be cruel to ask for all of a man's secrets, he says, "—Vulcan acquaintances of epic proportions that you're hidin' from me?"
Jim shakes his head with a smile. "Oh wait. There was this one hot Vulcan chick…"
"I hope she punched you."
"She was too polite to punch a starship Captain. She was very matter-of-fact about the concept of sexual relations with my person."
"Froze your balls off, then."
McCoy relaxes and notes that Jim does the same. After a moment of staring at his closed office door, he decides to push ahead with a half-formed idea.
"I was thinking… we ought to throw that party."
"Yeah. The celebratory one."
"We have plenty to celebrate," Jim concedes, serious.
He nods. "Yes, we do. Maybe…" Looking at his friend, he says, "We should hold it in honor of Spock. He deserves a hell of a lot of praise and thanks."
"Bones, he would say his actions were logical and he was bound by duty."
Leonard smiles. "And no one would believe a word of that bullshit. It'll be good for Spock—and show the crew that you support him, not only as a friend, but as a man who may, some day, replace you again as Captain of this ship." Lord forbid that ever happens, Jim, but it might. We came too close to losing you this time. Then he reaches down to take Jim's hand and squeeze it; Kirk squeezes back.
In his own quiet way, while people mingle and laugh, feel their world right itself again, McCoy will celebrate his freedom; he will celebrate these friends who are dear to his heart, to whom he owes his life; he will celebrate the end of two long traumatic months and the return of Jim Kirk.
But most of all, Leonard McCoy shall savor the knowledge of just how damned lucky he is to be right here, right now.
Jim rises from his chair and says, "See you after shift, Bones."
"Dinner in your quarters?"
"And a game of chess."
"You know I have no patience for chess."
"The chess is for Spock; the Saurian brandy will be for you." Jim winks and walks out of office of the ship's CMO.
Well, he decides as he turns on his computer console and pulls up the messaging system, Selek should be invited to their impromptu gathering. After all, Selek will be en route to New Vulcan soon enough, and the doctor is certain that the elder Vulcan still has unshared interesting tidbits on how to cope with a Captain named Kirk and a Vulcan First Officer. Leonard acknowledges a deeper purpose too as he taps out the message.
When Jim and Spock are distracted by their game, Leonard will whisper words of gratitude to Old Spock and remind him that in any universe, they must be destined to meet and know one another.
Selek, of course, shall reply, "Indeed, Leonard. I am, and always shall be, your friend."