|THE HILLS OF TIME
by K.V. Wylie
His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely
I am my beloved's and his desire is toward me
I raised thee up under the apple tree
From "Song of Solomon"
The day was brilliantly bright, but cool. Leonard McCoy walked to the market to get food for whatever mysterious (perhaps inedible) concoction that Spock wanted to cook for their company that evening. The Vulcan had a meeting. They arrived home together after lunch, then Spock had to go back to the market for there was nothing in the universe that would induce McCoy to buy parsnips, no matter what promises Spock made about them.
Uhura and Scotty arrived. Uhura was younger than them all and looked it. Scotty looked every one of his one hundred and fifteen years, that was, until Uhura kissed him. Then he was the same Scott of old and as energetic as when he had first stepped onto the engineering deck of their Enterprise.
The Enterprise was long gone, decommissioned years ago, some parts recycled and some hidden in the secret vaults of collectors. The ship they were going to see launch today was the U.S.S. Enterprise-C under Captain Garrett whom none of them had met.
It was a subdued send-off. Memories of the Enterprise-B and Jim Kirk's death were too close and would always be too close now that another Enterprise was in flight.
"They should have retired her name," Scott whispered to McCoy during the post-launch party at Starfleet Headquarters.
McCoy didn't have an answer. The thought hadn't occurred to him until Scott mentioned it.
"You're right," he said finally, angry with himself for not thinking of it when he'd received the invitation. He would have had time to say something to someone. Or else Spock's connections might have been able to interfere.
McCoy's drink was bitter. He set it down. "Let's find the others and get out of here."
They returned to Spock and McCoy's house. The stew Spock had put together was just coming to fruition in the slow cooker and they took it out to the porch overlooking the back garden.
Scotty and McCoy picked the parsnips out of their stew. Uhura had brought bootleg music, smuggled from somewhere she wouldn't admit to. Spock dusted off his Vulcan harp and Scotty remembered a few Gaelic tunes, including one exceptionally dirty one that Uhura laughingly refused to sing harmony to (though Spock eventually did.) McCoy opened his secret hoard of Deltan wine and they drank while the sun set, heaters on the floor between them.
Uhura looked across the porch to where McCoy and Spock sat, two of them in a bench so closely together, their shadows intertwined. McCoy looked relaxed, far better than he had when they'd returned from the launch, but Spock was alert and protective, tucking McCoy's sweater around his neck and nudging the heater so that the doctor was in its direct line.
She gave Scotty a sudden kiss on the cheek and smiled. "Funny how life goes."
"Ah lass," Scotty murmured. He was never sure of these philosophical moods of hers.
McCoy looked across at her. "Deep thoughts?"
"I was just thinking about when we first met on the Enterprise and how we are now," she said.
"It seems like centuries ago," McCoy mused.
"Aye, there will never be another ship like her," Scotty added.
Uhura sighed. Both men had missed the point.
"What do you think of the latest version?" McCoy asked Scotty.
"She'll sail," Scotty said, "but she dinna fit the name."
"No," McCoy agreed.
"Give her a chance," Uhura said.
"I did," McCoy said. "I took the long tour while you and Spock were oohing and aahing over the bridge."
"I trust I did neither," Spock said. "What is missing, Leonard?"
"Some spark, some of the old feeling. She is called Enterprise," McCoy replied.
"She is not our Enterprise," Spock said.
Which seemed to be the final word. They finished the wine and retired.
"I hope there are enough blankets in the guest room," McCoy said, as he and Spock got into bed.
"I put in a quilt this afternoon," Spock said. He pulled Leonard to him. The latter felt particularly cold. "We have stayed up too late."
"At my age, I'm allowed to break curfew," McCoy retorted as he snuggled against the Vulcan warmth.
"The launch has upset you," Spock said softly.
"It wasn't just that," McCoy said.
"I have been thinking about him," McCoy admitted. "But it's more. The house I grew up in is gone. Sarek sold your family home after he married Perrin. I feel," he paused. "Adrift, I
"Perhaps where you and I are together is home," Spock suggested.
"Don't get sentimental on me, old darling."
Humored, Spock said nothing.
Spock woke very early the next morning, but McCoy wasn't beside him. He couldn't hear any movement in the house and didn't want to call and disturb their guests.
He padded silently on bare feet from room to room and at last saw McCoy in the back garden. Spock went outside, careful of the squeal in the screen door hinges, but he paused at the sight before him.
The doctor was bent over a vine in the lattice, his hair gold in the rising sunlight. It had rained in the night and drops glistened on roses and lilies that Spock was sure hadn't been in bloom yesterday. Pink blossoms covered the apple trees. No trace of winter snow remained in the yard and McCoy had turned on the fountain. Trickles of water ran sparklingly under bushes and around grape leaves hanging near the ground. Sweet and flowery smells blew in the morning breeze.
McCoy saw him and straightened. "What is it?" he asked. The expression on Spock's face was puzzling and not Vulcan at all.
Spock walked across the grass and onto the wet dirt, took McCoy's hand, and led him into the midst of the trees. Then he ran his fingertips slowly over the doctor's lips.
"Uhura and Scotty might see," McCoy said even as he was leaning into the touch.
"They will not," Spock said in a voice he used only when they were alone. "Kiss me and don't stop even when you can't breathe anymore."
A little while later, when he could speak again, McCoy said, "You have a point." He felt movement of Spock's cheek beside his, the smile the Vulcan reserved only for him. He didn't need to open his eyes to know it was there.
The cheekbones moved again. "Yes."
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