An Easy Life

Isilarma

I've been a Trekkie for years, but this is the first time I've tried to write anything for it so I really hope it's all in character. I hope you all enjoy it.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.


"Now listen here you pig-headed hobgoblin-"

"Insulting me will not alter the fact that you are in the wrong, Doctor."

"Why you-"

"That's enough," said Kirk loudly.

McCoy continued to glare at Spock but he fell silent at the audible exasperation in Kirk's voice. Spock did that thing where he pretended he wasn't glaring right back even as he placed his hands behind his back and straightened up. "I apologise for disturbing you, Captain."

Kirk folded his arms. "You weren't. You were disturbing the entire deck."

"Don't exaggerate, Jim; it doesn't suit you," McCoy muttered.

Kirk ignored him. "Can we not have one mission where the two of you don't spend the entire time sniping at each other?"

McCoy had to bite back the urge to say 'he started it.' Despite what some people might think, he wasn't that reckless. "It's not every mission."

"Indeed," said Spock. "We successfully negotiated the trade agreement without any, as you say, sniping."

"Only because I made sure you were seated at opposite ends of the table." He ran a hand through his hair, his blue eyes flashing with exasperation. "This is supposed to be a party, not a warzone."

McCoy folded his arms, steadfastly refusing to look at either of them. Spock continued to stare at the opposite wall, his face once again unreadable. Kirk looked at the two of them and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Here's what we're going to do," he growled. "We are going to go down there and we are going to play nicely. No shouting, no snide remarks. We are going to be professional. Is that understood?"

"Perfectly, Captain."

"Fine by me," McCoy muttered.

Some of the tension seemed to drain from Kirk's shoulders. "Good." He turned to continue down to the transporter room, only to pause with a sharp hiss. Spock's gaze immediately flashed to McCoy.

"I was under the impression that the captain was cleared for duty."

McCoy scowled. "Barely. Knew I should have strapped him to the bed."

"I am right here, you know," Kirk growled.

"Damn it, Jim-"

"I said I'm fine, Bones."

McCoy folded his arms. "Tell me that without having to stop for breath."

"The doctor is correct," said Spock. "You do not appear to be in acceptable physical condition."

"And now the two of you are getting along," Kirk muttered under his breath. "For crying out loud, it's just a few broken ribs, and you already fixed them."

"Yes, and you're supposed to be taking it easy for the next day or so," McCoy pointed out. "Not running around undoing all my hard work."

"It's a celebratory dinner! How much running around is there going to be?"

McCoy just looked at him. "You really want me to answer that?"

"Indeed, based on previous experience-"

"All right, that's enough," said Kirk loudly.

"So you'll reconsider coming with us?"

Even as he said it, McCoy knew that it was useless. The gleam in Kirk's eyes only confirmed that suspicion. "I am the captain. It's my duty to be there. Isn't that right, Spock?"

McCoy shot a warning glare at the Vulcan, but though Spock hesitated a moment he did nod. "According to regulations, the commanding officer should be present."

"Will you please make up your mind whose side you're on?" McCoy muttered. "Jim, seriously, this is a bad idea."

Kirk rolled his eyes. "Look, I'll stay out of trouble. Happy now?"

"You said that last time. And the time before that. And that time-"

"Well, this time'll be different." He clapped McCoy on the back, and the slight wince that crossed his face at the movement did nothing to ease McCoy's dismay. He glanced over at Spock, and for a moment thought he saw concern in the Vulcan's dark eyes before the professional mask shot up again.

"Will you at least agree to a security detail, Captain?"

Kirk snorted. "I thought the idea was to avoid offending these people." Spock's eyes narrowed and he sighed. "We'll all have communicators. If anything does happen, we can beam straight back up. Now can we please get going?"

Spock gave an almost imperceptible sigh and dipped his head. "I will tell Mr. Scott to be ready for a rapid extraction." He stalked off up the corridor before either of them could say anything. Kirk scowled at his retreating back.

"He's being ridiculous." The glare switched to McCoy. "And you're even worse."

"Well excuse me for being concerned," McCoy growled. "Jim, you only got out of sickbay a few hours ago."

Kirk folded his arms. "You're worse than my mom."

McCoy bit back a few choice words with all the willpower gained from three years of dealing with James T. Kirk. "Let's just get this over with."

Kirk's lips twitched slightly as he nodded. "Yeah." After a moment he added more quietly, "Thanks, Bones."

McCoy hated how incapable he was of staying mad at Kirk when he did that face. "Just stay out of trouble. After dealing with you and the Vulcan I deserve a vacation."

Kirk's grin widened. "I'll do my best. Oh, and speaking of Spock would you do me a favour?"

McCoy eyed him. Doing a favour from Jim could be an interesting experience. "That depends. Will it involve talking to him?"

"Oh come on, he's not that bad," Kirk pointed out. "You managed to negotiate the agreement with him, didn't you?"

"That was only for a day," McCoy pointed out. "And we were mostly talking to the Karthulians." Although he had to admit that the experience hadn't been quite as excruciating as he had expected. When they had an actual goal, the two of them could actually work reasonably well together. It was when the rest of the delegates had left that the two of them descended to their typical bickering.

Kirk rolled his eyes. "Right. You know you're really going to need to get over this if we do get the five year mission."

"I'm not the only one with the problem," McCoy muttered. "Anyway, what did you want?"

"Just...you know this mission is important, right?"

"Why do you think I spent four hours helping Spock talk sense into a bunch of bickering warlords?"

Kirk coughed. "Yeah. Right. Anyway I need the pair of you to not do that thing you do."

McCoy frowned. "What thing?"

"The thing where you insult the hell out of each other all evening," said Kirk flatly.

Oh. That thing. "We wouldn't do that at a time like this." They were Starfleet officers after all.

"I know," said Kirk quietly. "But I thought I'd remind you anyway."

As much as he hated to admit it, McCoy could see why he felt that need. Even in the few months they had served together, he had heard the crew whispering about his discussions with Spock. Most seemed to find them amusing, to his disgust and Spock's bemusement. "All right, we'll be good."

Kirk beamed and clapped him on the back. "What are we waiting for then?"

McCoy waited until Kirk's back was turned before he rolled his eyes. This was going to be so much fun.


McCoy was bored.

This was in no way an unusual occurrence. He had never had much patience for diplomatic time-wasting sessions like this, though he did appreciate the availability of the free drinks. The fact that the Karthulians were far more interested in warfare than any form of science was doing little to improve his mood. McCoy was perfectly capable of playing nice when he had to, but it was a hell of a lot easier when he had something in common with the other party.

It didn't help that both of his commanding officers had wandered off. McCoy wasn't particularly worried about Spock, the Vulcan was more than capable of taking care of himself, but Kirk could find trouble in a room full of vegan pacifists. He had in fact, something McCoy had no intention of letting him forget any time in the next decade. McCoy grimaced. He had already had to deal with keeping the captain in Sickbay once this week. He did not want a repeat experience.

McCoy scanned the crowd again, and allowed his mouth to twist into a scowl as he finally caught sight of Kirk.

"Oh for God's sake, Jim."

He really shouldn't be surprised. Not even being drugged and barely coherent was enough to keep Kirk from hitting on the ladies. McCoy tried to stay out of it; after all, it was none of his business who his friend hooked up with. However, when the young lady in question was the eldest daughter of the planet's new Preceptor...

With an enormous effort, McCoy resisted the urge to interrupt. Jim liked attention, especially attention from beautiful girls, but he knew better than to jeopardise the arrangement they had just set in place. They had all studied Karthulian culture, and a little flirting was nothing to worry about. McCoy shook his head and began to make his way back towards the drinks. With his captain, he needed all the help he could get.

"I've never met a Vulcan before."

McCoy paused and looked round to see Spock standing a few metres away. The Vulcan didn't seem to have registered his presence; he was slightly turned away from the doctor and was deep in conversation with a young Karthulian, though what the two of them could be talking about was beyond McCoy. They seemed happy enough though so he decided to move on.

"So your mother's human."

McCoy paused. Maybe it was the overbright gleam to the Karthulian's eyes that warned McCoy that he might have had a little too much to drink. Or maybe it was because McCoy fancied he had learned to read Spock's body language pretty well over the past few weeks. He had had to; while he liked needling the Vulcan he had no desire to cross any lines. He had learned the difference between mild exasperation and genuine irritation.

This was neither.

The Karthulian, unsurprisingly, didn't notice a thing. "How did that even happen?"

McCoy winced at the mocking edge to his voice. Spock's reply was too low for him to make out, but he didn't miss the tension that was building in the set of Spock's shoulders. Even as he watched, Spock's hands clenched into fists behind his back.

McCoy didn't hesitate. Kirk had told him to avoid Spock if necessary, an order McCoy was more than happy to follow, but this was different. He might not like the hobgoblin but he never wanted to see him like that. Besides, they had been told to avoid any incidents and McCoy could remember all too clearly the insults Kirk had used to provoke Spock during their first mission.

He knew he was overreacting. The situations were completely different, and Spock was the last person in the world to do something like that here. But that didn't mean he needed to hear it.

The overly opinionated Kathulian was just opening his mouth yet again when McCoy inserted himself between them, a well-practiced smirk on his face.

"So sorry to interrupt, but I need to borrow Commander Spock."

The Karthulian frowned at him. "We have not finished our discussion."

"I know," said McCoy sincerely. "And I'm sure it was very important, but I've just received word of an outbreak of Alterran flu and I need to consult with our Science Officer immediately." Out of the corner of his eye he could see Spock staring at him and knew he had made the right call. The Vulcan appeared to be his usual unflappable self, but the signs of stress were there if you knew what to look for. "It really is quite urgent."

"But-"

McCoy allowed a hint of his displeasure to leak into his voice. "Son, do you have any idea what Alterran flu can do to a patient? Nausea and diarrhoea set in rapidly, closely followed by fever and delirium. The condition worsens in less than three days, the body begins to shut down as the internal organs liquefy-"

"I understand, sir," the Karthulian interrupted. His face had gone an interesting shade of blue. "I will leave you to it. Good luck to you."

McCoy grinned. "Thanks."

The Karthulian bowed to the two of them and almost sprinted away. McCoy shook his head and turned to Spock. "C'mon," he muttered. "Let's get out of here." He was tempted to grip the Vulcan's arm, but knew better than to initiate physical contact with a touch telepath and so settled for glaring at the Karthulian's retreating back. His attention was abruptly drawn back when Spock coughed.

"Doctor," he said quietly. "Alterran flu was cured over sixty years ago."

"So it was."

"And it never caused the symptoms you described."

McCoy rubbed the back of his neck. "Missed quite a bit of sleep trying to keep Jim in Sickbay. Must have gotten things muddled."

Spock continued to study him. McCoy had to resist the urge to fidget; all traces of anger had disappeared from the Vulcan's face as if they had never been there and the change was a little disconcerting. "Nevertheless, your assistance was unnecessary. The situation was under control."

"Under control my ass," McCoy growled. Should have known better than to think the ice-blooded hobgoblin would ever appreciate his efforts.

"You misunderstand."

McCoy looked up. Spock's expression was still unreadable but there was a warmth in his eyes that McCoy had never seen before. Well, he had, but only when looking at Uhura, or occasionally Jim. McCoy had never thought Spock would ever look at him like that. "I'm sorry?"

"Your assistance was unnecessary. I never said that it was unwelcome."

McCoy's mouth opened then closed. Did Spock of all people just... "Er..." Spock raised an eyebrow and McCoy forced his mind to start working. "Jim did tell us to stay out of trouble."

"Indeed." His brow creased ever so slightly. "Have you seen the captain recently?"

McCoy looked round, relieved that Spock had let the matter drop. "Last I saw he was chatting to Preceptor Tarn's daughter."

The eyebrow climbed higher. "I see. Might I suggest we ascertain whether or not the captain is following his own advice?"

"You know, I was thinking the exact same thing." He craned his neck, and his apprehension rose when he failed to find any trace of Kirk. "It'll be faster if we split up."

Something that looked suspiciously like approval flickered in Spock's face. "Agreed." He paused for a moment, then added more quietly, "Be careful, Doctor."

McCoy just nodded. "You too."

McCoy knew he shouldn't be worrying. It was only a formal reception after all. Kirk would be fine.

"I asked you what you thought you were doing."

Who was he kidding? The kid was a nightmare. McCoy closed his eyes for a moment before turning around.

Kirk was standing, to his complete lack of surprise, in the middle of a ring of guests. The Preceptor's daughter was still clinging to Jim's arm, and with a sinking heart McCoy recognised the angry Karthulian who had spoken as said Perceptor's only son. McCoy began to push his way through the gathering crowd. Jim wore his usual confident smirk, and McCoy knew from experience how people tended to respond to that.

"We were merely talking."

The Karthulian, Sarrul McCoy remembered his name was, snorted. "Is that what you call it?"

Kirk turned deliberately innocent blue eyes to him. "I really don't know what you mean." McCoy finally succeeded in pushing through the crowd and Kirk turned to grin at him. "Hey, Bones. Having fun?"

"Jim, what are you doing?" McCoy hissed.

"I wasn't doing anything," Kirk protested. "We really were just talking."

McCoy snorted, but Sarrul had evidently reached the limit of his patience. He let an incoherent snarl and drew his fist back.

McCoy didn't mean to get in the way. He liked being punched about as much as he liked having to conduct physicals, and being slightly tipsy was never the best condition in which to try to stop someone. And yet somehow he had moved just enough that Sarrul's flying fist caught him solidly on the cheek.

The next thing he knew hands were grabbing at his arm to keep him upright and Kirk's frantic voice was ringing in his ears. "Bones!"

McCoy shook his head, forcing the stars from his eyes so that he could concentrate on his friend. "'m all right," he mumbled, but Kirk wasn't paying attention. He was gripping McCoy's arm hard enough to leave bruises, and his blue eyes were blazing with anger.

"He's going to regret that."

"Jim, don't do anything stupid," McCoy hissed.

"He hit you!" McCoy paused, unable to deny that, and Kirk drew himself up. "Really, really bad idea."

"Captain."

McCoy had never thought he would ever be glad to see Spock, but it was impossible to suppress the relief that rushed through him at the sound of the Vulcan's calm voice, particularly when Spock prudently positioned himself directly between Kirk and Sarrul.

"Spock," Kirk growled. "Out of the way."

"I do not think that wise at this time, Captain," said Spock evenly. "Might I suggest you take a moment to calm yourself?"

"I am calm!"

Spock raised an eyebrow, but McCoy's attention was caught by movement behind them. "Er, you might want to follow them."

Kirk and Spock followed his gaze. Preceptor Tarn had taken Sarrul to one side, and from the younger Karthulian's gesticulations he was deep in a retelling of the events that had taken place. The original source of the dispute had long since disappeared. Spock's eyes narrowed. "It is likely that he will try to place the blame on you."

"We'll see about that," Kirk growled. "Keep an eye on him, will you?" He jerked his head at McCoy before storming after the Preceptor and his son. Spock seemed to sigh before turning to McCoy.

"Doctor?"

"I'm fine," McCoy repeated. "I've had patients that hit harder than that."

"Considering your bedside manner that does not surprise me in the slightest."

"Very funny," McCoy muttered. He rubbed his face tentatively and nodded to himself. His face would be rather colourful by the time he got back to Sickbay but a few minutes with a dermal regenerator would fix that. He'd had far worse.

So why was Spock still studying him?

"What?"

Spock folded his arms. "What exactly did you think you would accomplish by doing that?"

McCoy stared at him. "It's not like I did it deliberately," he growled. "I tripped."

Spock raised that ever so annoying eyebrow. "You have never before displayed a tendency to trip into the path of oncoming punches."

McCoy glared at him. "It was an accident. Just leave it alone." Bad enough that he'd done it at all; he certainly didn't need to be explaining himself to the Vulcan.

Spock just looked at him. "Certainly. I merely wished to determine the extent to which you have assimilated the captain's proclivity for recklessness."

McCoy pinched the bridge of his nose. "Spock, can you just talk like a normal person for once in your life?" He was in no mood for Vulcan formality; his head was starting to throb and he was worried about Jim. Spock looked at him, and the expression on his face was definitely the Vulcan equivalent of a frown.

"You deliberately took a blow for the captain, Doctor," said Spock quietly.

McCoy considered protesting, but they had all learned the futility of lying to the Vulcan. Instead he gave a half-hearted shrug. "Kid didn't need any more injuries," he muttered. "And he sure as hell couldn't afford to start an interplanetary incident. Wasn't actually planning on getting hit either," he added in an undertone. He really should start listening to Chapel.

"Indeed."

McCoy waited, fully expecting a lecture on how his behaviour had been unbefitting of a Starfleet officer. After all, he had technically been in a fight, and even if he had only been on the receiving end Spock was a stickler for regulations. To his surprise though, Spock didn't continue, seemingly more interested in studying him, and McCoy couldn't help shifting under the intensity of his gaze. "What?"

Spock shook his head slowly. "It is of no consequence."

McCoy glared at him. "Now you listen here," he began, but the words died on his lips at the sight of Kirk returning. "Captain?"

Kirk had one arm wrapped lightly round his torso, but he was smirking as he rejoined them. "I don't think we'll have any more trouble."

Spock raised an eyebrow. "I was under the impression that the Preceptor's son was rather certain of his own position."

Kirk's grin turned predatory. "I convinced him otherwise."

McCoy sighed pinched the bridge of his nose. "So all in all not the most successful of celebrations."

Kirk scowled, all traces of humour disappearing from his face. "We didn't do anything wrong," he snapped.

"Indeed," said Spock. "And since the treaty has not been affected, it is unlikely that the events of this evening will have any impact on the Enterprise, or the Federation."

Kirk nodded and straightened up. "We're fine. It's the Preceptor whose reputation would suffer were this to get out." He glanced at McCoy and his stony expression softened. "Thank you, by the way."

McCoy shrugged. "No problem."

"That doesn't mean you should have done it."

"I quite agree, Captain," said Spock.

"It was reckless and unnecessary."

McCoy folded his arms and glared at the pair of them before Spock could chip in again. "Let's just remind ourselves exactly which of us managed to not get into trouble on their own tonight."

Kirk began whistling. Spock stared straight at the opposite wall. McCoy rolled his eyes. Some things would never change.

And they wondered why he stuck around.


Any feedback would be very much appreciated.