by K.V. Wylie

It must be strangely exciting to watch the stoic squirm.
--Alannis Morissette, Uninvited

Spock woke in the sweating shadow of a mountain. The air was hot and still, and he was lying on sharp stones.

He lifted his head. He knew this place. It was one of several ancient challenge grounds belonging to his family, the only one with the capability to confine a male in the throes of madness and, consequently, the place least used. Most males had a betrothed partner now, and challenges were rare.

But he did not have a partner. And he didn't remember being brought here.

He struggled to rise, but his head throbbed and he was dizzy.

Beside him was a cup containing warm water. As he raised it to his lips, he noticed that the metal door used to enclose males in the mountain's crevice stood ajar. Smears of blood ran up one side.

He looked at his hands. Jellied tissue covered his fingertips.

Though he couldn't remember it, he knew all the same. They'd locked him away.

Spock closed his eyes as he tried to steady himself. He recalled presenting himself to T'Laak at her house, head bowed as he admitted that it was his time. T'Laak had informed him that the family had chosen a third bride. Spock grimaced as he tried to think of her name. What was it?

He also remembered being in T'Laak's garden, and her attendants telling him over and over that he must wait. He'd raised his voice at someone.


What had happened after that? There was a dim memory of being restrained and carried somewhere, and trying to fight his way free. Then darkness.

More must have happened, but the pain in his head made thinking difficult. He rubbed his forehead with the back of a hand.

The woman must have been here and accepted him, otherwise he would be dead by now. He had no sense of having taking her though. A fuzzy image of him screaming at someone was there instead.

It came clearer. He had been on his knees, tearing at the ground. Someone had been in the way, trying to stop him, telling him that he would hurt himself. He'd lashed out at that person. Had that been her?

No. The voice of the other person had been wrong for a female. It had been too low and harsh. And there was no trace of a woman in his mind. If he'd taken her, he'd done so without a meld, and he doubted he would have done that.

He squeezed his eyes tightly, trying to think back, and frustrated that he couldn't. The voice had been familiar. Whose was it?

The dizziness grew worse, forcing him to open his eyes and reach for the water again. He drank slowly, though everything inside him was telling him to rush. This moment of grace wouldn't last.

Wondering who had brought him the water, and if had been the foretold bride, Spock called out, "It is I."

No answer returned to him. She should answer, even if she were currently attending to personal needs. The male must be answered.

"It is I!" he shouted again.

A small sound came from behind him. Spock looked around.

Leonard McCoy was across the arena from Spock, curled up on his side, his head resting on the edge of the large central stone that served as the arena floor. The noise had been him, shifting in his sleep.

Spock stared at him, dumbfounded. It had been years since they'd last spoken. Who had called him?

The events of the previous night rushed back at him. T'Laak had clearly said that the family had chosen a Vulcan woman.
So where was this female? And why had it been McCoy with him instead? McCoy, imploring him to calm down, speaking to him, holding him as he raged and threatened.

Spock's felt his chest squeeze in fear. Had he hurt the doctor?

Several large piles of loose shale and gravel were between the two of them, no doubt put there by McCoy as a crude means of alerting him should the Vulcan come near. There was a way around them, near to the edge of a precipice, but Spock would not have attempted it in his condition. Instead, he took several pebbles and, throwing them, tried to dislodge one of the heaps.

Three stones went wide. The fourth barely hit, but it was enough to cause a small tumble of shale.

Instantly, McCoy was awake. He rolled to his knees, grabbed a rock that had been beside him, and got on his feet in one quick motion. He eyed Spock.

McCoy had aged. His hair was fully gray, and his skin looked fragile and thin, but the blue eyes were clear and sharp. They gave him a strength he otherwise would not seem to have.

His shirt was in tatters and Spock thought he could see welts across McCoy's chest.

"Where did you come from? Are you real?" Spock asked in a strained voice.

"T'Laak sent for me," McCoy replied.

Spock shook his head. "No. There was a woman. She told me."

"There was a woman," McCoy said. "She left."

"And you stayed?" Spock was horrified. "I do not have much time, McCoy. How badly have I hurt you?"

"I'll heal."

Spock closed his eyes. "Run."

"Yell and scream all you want. I'm staying."

"You cannot do this. It is impossible."

"You said something similar last night, yet here we are. Though I am, unfortunately, downwind of you."

"I don't want you to see me this way. I can't bear it!'

"Spock, it's ok. I saw you like this when we served on the Enterprise. I've seen you injured and sick and happy and overwhelmed, and God knows a dozen other ways."

"You had no right."

"To look at you?"

"You touched me. You had no right, and you shouldn't. McCoy get away from me!" Spock knew he sounded hysterical. He knew, but couldn't stop. McCoy, instead of looking surprised, merely shrugged.

Spock turned away, afraid of the anger and resentment he felt. "McCoy. Bones. This is not for you. I won't have you near me."

"If I leave, you'll die. No one else will come," McCoy said quietly.

"But I may . . . I will . . ."

"Will what? Yell at me?" McCoy asked, still in that soft tone. "That's what you did all last night. I can put up with a bit of yelling."

Spock looked back around. "Did I?" Though it explained why the doctor was unimpressed by Spock's current lack of control.

"Apparently those gazillion hours I spent patching you up in Sickbay after you and Jim did some stupid thing, all those touches on your person I had to make to save your life, have royally pissed you off."

Spock had trouble following the words. "Did I do anything else last night?"

"No," McCoy said.

Spock knew he was lying. Why else would the doctor be holding a rock? Why was his shirt damaged? For what other reason would he have put those piles of stones between them?

As if reading Spock's mind, McCoy set down the rock.

"If I--" Spock almost said kill you, and caught himself. "I will not be able to live with that. Please go!"

"Spock, if I leave you here alone, I will not be able to live with that."

Spock clutched his head with both hands. "Why won't it stop?"

He heard the gravel shift as McCoy came over. Spock put all his strength into one enormous shove. He connected hard, and the sound of McCoy hitting the ground was satisfying, so much so that Spock shivered in pleasure.

When he woke the second time, it was to the sounds of McCoy and another male voice. He kept his eyes shut so that they wouldn't know he could hear them.

"It's cruel."

"She considers it an unneeded branch."

"Does Sarek know the Matriarch holds that opinion?"

Someone wiped his face with a cool cloth.

"Will you take a message for me? I have some friends."

"You have friends at the Vulcan Consulate?"

"Well, I have a few favours owed to me. Also, could you get me a bolt wrench?"

The voices moved away.

"Don't!" Spock shouted in sudden fright, not wishing to be left alone.

"Don't what?" came a tired, but sardonic voice.

Spock opened his eyes. McCoy was several feet away, eating a piece of fruit, his back against the side of the mountain, and his manner too casual for the circumstances.

Spock knew it was a façade. He could feel the doctor's tension buzzing in his head.

"Who was here?" he demanded.

"Sivar," McCoy said. "Your five hundredth cousin on your father's mother's sister's sehlat's side, or something like that."

"I know who Sivar is to me."

"You didn't an hour ago when you were trying to bash my head against the side of the cliff wall. Tea?" McCoy held out a cup.

Spock didn't trust himself to take it without trying to take the doctor's arm with it. McCoy finally set it on the ground between them.

"I'd offer you something to eat, but the only reflex of yours we haven't explored yet is the vomiting one, and I'd hate to set that off too," McCoy said.

The doctor was wearing a robe that covered him from neck to foot. "What did I do to you?" Spock asked.

"Don't you remember?" McCoy asked. "Apparently, you should be able to. I didn't know that, and when I mentioned it to Sivar, he was surprised. Maybe it's your human part kicking in a little traumatic amnesia." The doctor finished eating and put the core in a container beside him. "Spock, haven't you been through this before? I mean, at your age . . ."

"I have not been through anything like this before." Spock lowered his head. It was his humanness, no doubt, not only making him less than a Vulcan, but also delaying and discoloring the Vulcan traits he had.

They were silent for a few moments. McCoy broke it by saying, "Sivar told me that if you step over the edge of this mountain, you are taken to some mythical place."


"What is that? Heaven?"

"It would be more equivalent to purgatory." Spock looked back up. "McCoy, why don't you go?"

"Where? Over the edge?"

"Down the stairs. I am fighting you because I cannot join with you. Joining is essential to complete the cycle."

The doctor's humour disappeared. "By joining, do you mean sex? Spock, we've had that ride too. Why aren't you remembering any of this?"

Was the doctor lying? He did not appear to be.

"We joined? Did I orgasm?"

McCoy made a noise.

"Are you unfamiliar with the word, McCoy?"

"I just never expected to hear a Vulcan say it."

"If the sexual stress is not released, it returns."

"Spock, I don't need to read Pon Farr for Dummies to know that. And, yes, you did. On me, not in me, if you're worried about that sort of thing." McCoy frowned. "Is more of that all it would take to get you through this?"

"It should not be you."

"Yeah, well, I'm the only person here and I'm willing to take one for the team."

"That you should see me so . . ." Spock swallowed and turned his eyes away.

"Is that what this is about? You're ashamed to have me see you come down off your pedestal and be Vulcan? I wish you'd trust me. I don't know what I've ever done that you would not." McCoy paused. "Unless it was because I failed with your Katra. Spock, tell me what you need. I'd do anything."

Embarrassed, Spock said, "Get the woman."

"She won't come, and you've tried that twice already."

"Who told you? Sivar?"

"T'Laak," McCoy said. "Isn't she a sweetheart? She had someone open the door so that you could come out at me. I was her choice for you from the get-go."

"She chose a human?" Spock's throat seemed to close. "The humiliation of it."

"Spock, we've had enough of that. Besides, I'm apparently the logical choice. The women in your family sure play hell with the rules of critical thinking."

"Logical? You?"

"In some twisted way. I'll tell you why later, and there will be a later because you are not committing hara-kiri on my watch."

"A human," Spock repeated. "They have brought a human for me."

"Spock, this isn't actually about you. Now tell me what to do because, if you die this way, your Katra will not go to the Hall of Ancient Thought. Is that preferable to, ah, having another you-know on top of me?"

Spock silenced.

"Is physical union enough?" McCoy persisted.

"Your stubbornness shall be your end. Completion requires both mental and physical joining."

"Shazam, we're already mentally joined. You did that when Khan was trying to blow us all to kingdom come."

"It is important that you do not orgasm."

"You're hardly attractive when you're screaming foul obscenities at me."

"You must not lose control!" Spock wanted to grab the doctor and shake him until he understood. "If we were melded, you would know that already! Why do I have to tell you?"

He turned and found McCoy beside him. He hadn't heard the doctor move.

"We are melded, Spock, but you're holding back from me."

Spock closed his eyes. He was drawn. "It is madness," he

"Madness because they've given you a human, or because they've given you me?"

"Your humanity has no place on Vulcan."

"So, it's not me personally," McCoy said, sounding amused again. "Is this done with touch?"

"All things on Vulcan are done with touch," Spock managed, his eyes squeezed so tightly he could see flashing colours - green, red, then blue when he felt the doctor's hand on his.

"You've aged well," McCoy said. "Maybe it's more appropriate to say you haven't aged since we left the Enterprise. I, on the other hand, now look like my father."

"Only your body has aged. Not you inside," Spock said. McCoy was making little circles across Spock's arm. It felt unexpectedly soothing.

Spock put his hand over McCoy's, though not to stop him. The back of McCoy's hand was warm. "How do you live?"

The doctor's voice sounded close to his ear. "I have a house just outside Atlanta. I've been learning how to cook and made pies last summer with raspberries from my garden."

"What are raspberries?" Spock asked, his voice getting raw as McCoy stroked up to one shoulder.

"Small fruit that's sweet as hell. They're best if you wait until they're so ripe they're nearly dropping off the bush. I like to eat them outside on a sunny day with a little vodka and ice."

McCoy's touches went up Spock's throat. As he was still holding the back of the doctor's hand, their fingertips trailed together over his chin and mouth. McCoy, in an instinctive, intimate motion, stroked his forefinger along the inside of Spock's lower lip.

Spock crushed McCoy's hand, pushing it hard against his mouth. He ran his tongue over McCoy's palm and tasted the juice of the fruit the doctor had been eating.

"Close your eyes," Spock said. He pulled McCoy's hand away and, when he looked, the doctor had complied.

Spock pressed his open lips on McCoy's. More of the fruit's lingering, sugary tang hit his tongue. His mouth watered.

"Don't look at me," Spock pleaded as he lay the doctor down on the stone and lifted McCoy's robe. McCoy kept his eyes shut though his body was taut with nervousness.

Spock had hurt him. Long, deep scratches went over McCoy's chest and down his sides. The red lines both appalled and stimulated Spock.

He bent down and licked the length of one of the marks, the abrasion of the skin rough against his tongue. He licked another end to end, starting just under McCoy's armpit and going down until the scratch disappeared under a buttock. He continued doing this until McCoy's fists were clenched so tightly, his knuckles turned bony white.

Spock raised up. McCoy's chest and abdomen glistened wetly. Spock had even licked down into the pubic mound, and small bubbles of saliva sparkled in the dark hair.

He'd avoided touching the doctor's penis. It lay limp and small in the cleft between the thighs. Spock put his hand near, but not on it.

If McCoy wondered what Spock was doing, he didn't say anything. He kept his eyes closed and his arms at his sides. He remained exposed, flaccid, and vulnerable.

The vulnerability excited Spock until he thought his genitals would burst. He lowered his body against McCoy's. As he did, he remembered that this was what he had done before, put the doctor underneath him and held him pinned on the rocky ground while he wracked his groin over and over McCoy, thrusting at him so harshly that it felt as if he was sloughing off his skin. McCoy had taken it without making a sound.

As he was doing now.

"Forgive me!" Spock begged, delirious and craving release. He pushed hard against McCoy, cried out, and climaxed. His ejaculate felt like needles and glass, and his next cries were those of pain.

He stilled, eyes closed, barely able to breathe. McCoy shifted and freed himself. He heard some steps, then McCoy returned, kissed Spock on the side of his face, and cleaned him with a wet towel.

"You . . . .did this . . . before," Spock said between gasps for air. "You kissed . . . me."

"Yes," the doctor confirmed. "Does it always hurt like that?"

"No. Just . . ."

"Just during this time?" McCoy asked. "I may have mentioned this before, but I'm glad I'm not a Vulcan." He held a cup to Spock's lips.

It was the tea he'd been offered earlier. Spock took a cautious sip.

"McCoy, it will--"

"Return," the doctor cut in. "I know. I can sense it in you. Can you sense me?"

"Yes," Spock said, startled and curiously alarmed by it.

"I told you so about that meld. Lie down."

Spock collapsed. "I am the unneeded branch."

"You heard that?"

Spock opened his eyes. McCoy had pulled his robe back down and was sitting cross-legged beside him.

"I heard Sivar."

"You didn't hear enough. He wasn't talking about you," McCoy

"Why else would T'Laak not allow me a wife?"

"Because the unneeded branch is your father."

Spock shook his head. "He was allowed a wife. Three times."

"Your family has come to this oh-so-lovely conclusion in hindsight. T'Laak hasn't said anything about Perrin because Perrin can't have children," McCoy said. "You're not the 'inadequate' one, Spock, but T'Laak doesn't want you to have kids anyway. To spite her, you should."

"Explain, McCoy."

"Your father had two children. Your brother was banished and you are half-human. It's Sarek's seed that the Matriarch doesn't want continued." McCoy glanced at Spock. "I get the feeling Sarek may not know this. You should go out of your way to inform him."

"He will know soon enough when he learns you were brought to me."

"I suppose." McCoy drank some of the tea. "T'Ning was a ruse and perhaps a back-up in case the meld between you and me wasn't viable. T'Laak did check first to make sure you and I were linked, but it hardly forgives her for the rest of it. And this takes us to the last point, why I am the logical choice."

"We are already melded and a physical joining cannot produce children."

"It's nice to hear you've got some of your logics back. At least T'Laak didn't leave you to die."

"The Matriarch may do almost anything, but not that," Spock said.

"I only met T'Pau once, but I miss her. From what I heard, she didn't deal dirty," McCoy said.

Spock turned his eyes away. Above him, clouds moved overhead in the yellow sky and a blistery breeze was stirring up.

He felt McCoy's hand cover his. "Let me take care of it this time, Spock."

Spock knew what he meant. Though there was no outward sign, a heaviness had begun settling again at his groin.

"Do you know how?"

McCoy didn't immediately answer. Spock glanced up to see the doctor smiling in amusement.

"Spock, I'm not going to grace that with an answer."

The doctor touched Spock's cheek, lightly caressing with his fingertips the place he'd kissed earlier. Despite the burning in his body, Spock felt himself relax under the slow movements.

McCoy stroked down over Spock's collarbone, his caresses tugging the hair over Spock's chest.

"How many times had I seen you in Sickbay? I've never really looked at you before," McCoy said.

The doctor's exploration went lower. Spock arched his back and held his breath, waiting. His anticipation of the next touch caused prickles to run and dance ahead of where McCoy's hand actually was.

"Hurry!" Spock said through gritted teeth, but McCoy stopped just at the junction between belly and groin. Spock dug his heels into the ground and arched himself up even more.

"Ssh," McCoy whispered in his ear at the same time that he swooped down and gripped him.

In one jolt, Spock's penis stiffened. When the doctor began pulling at him, he groaned.

McCoy's touch was skilled, firm at the base and light where the foreskin was unraveling from the tip. With his other hand, he covered Spock's swollen testicles.

Spock closed his eyes, self-disgust and desire making him unable to bear the sight. It seemed too private to watch, though it was his genitalia being provoked. Was this how the doctor touched himself in his own bed under the covers?

The thought echoed through to McCoy. He chuckled in response.

"I'm not telling."

"Do you make noise . . . when you lose your seed?"

McCoy's grip tightened and Spock gasped sharply.

"Always," he said softly, his lips against Spock's ear.

The thought of McCoy writhing in sexual pleasure sent Spock plummeting into another release. His seed felt hot as it ran past the doctor's hold on him and between his legs.

When it was over, he said, "McCoy, never tell what you have seen."

"My name's Leonard."

When Spock woke the next time, McCoy was asleep beside him and the piles of gravel had been scattered.

He put his fingers just above McCoy's lips, almost, but not touching. "Live long and prosper, Leonard," he said quietly, then withdrew his hand, got up, slipped on a robe, and walked to the precipice of the mountain.

The desert sand far below was awash with heat shimmers that jumped in front of his eyes until he could no longer focus.

"Thinking of going to purgatory, Mr. Spock?"

McCoy's voice startled him and he nearly fell.

Spock turned and clasped his hands behind his back. "I have not seen the desert from this height since I was seven."

"You don't have to be quite that close to the edge to see it," McCoy said.

Spock knew that, but didn't move. "I apologize for hurting you."

"I have a scrape or two, but I get worse in the endless battle with my eavestrough." McCoy eyed him. "Is this about that unneeded branch remark?"

"If my father has been declared such, I have no status."

"Why don't you actually confirm it before you take that killer of a first step? Besides, once Sarek finds out, I tend to think he'll be raising one hell of a ruckus."

"With the Matriarch?" Spock asked dubiously.

"Your father's hardly a little sheep that does everything he's told to. He married two human women and asked T'Lar to put your Katra back in you. That takes nerve." McCoy sighed. "If you're planning on going to Al'annhu, rest assured, you are not going without me."

"You would jump to your death after me?"

"No, you idiot. We're tied together." McCoy pointed at Spock's feet. The Vulcan looked down.

A metal wire was looped around his ankle. The other end of it was fastened to the doctor's leg. The wire was so thin that Spock hadn't noticed it.

"It's titanium. I'm told that's unbreakable," McCoy said.

The doctor had used a bolt to fasten it to Spock. Spock tried, but was unable to dislodge the screw.

"Don't bother," McCoy added. "You'd need a wrench to get it off."

"You must have had a wrench to get it on," Spock said.

"Yes, but, unfortunately, something did go over the side of the mountain this morning."

Spock returned to the doctor's side and sat down. "Leonard, you are foolish and I was not planning to jump."

"You were tempted."

"I was not prepared for what has happened. I must put things into perspective."

McCoy nodded. "I hear you. The highlight of my weekend was supposed to be grouting my bathroom sink."

Spock's mouth twitched. "You cope with change quite well, for a human."

"Better than you," McCoy commented.

"Yes." Spock conceded.

McCoy handed him a plate. "Will you eat something now? Fasting has its purpose sometimes, but you've taken it to its limit."

Spock took the food. He wasn't hungry, but he knew the doctor would not let him be until he had taken some sustenance.

They were quiet for a while. McCoy got up and walked as far as he could with the tether between them, an aimless stroll that Spock noted avoided the edge of the cliff.

At last, McCoy asked, "Is it over?"

"No." Spock put down the plate and folded his hands in his lap. "I believe it is safe for you, should you wish me to reciprocate some of the assistance you rendered earlier to me."

He felt the doctor's laugh before he heard it.

"That's ok, Spock. I'm fine as I am." McCoy returned to where Spock was and sat down again. His face sobered. "I had a message sent out yesterday to Jim. I told him," he paused. "I told him to prepare for your funeral. It would be the second one, if you're counting."

"You sent a message to the Admiral?"

"Not me directly. Through someone who owed me one. I did it because I wasn't sure I could see you through," McCoy said. "You're inordinately prudish when it comes to Vulcan biology. And you were determined on having a woman here instead."

"It is the usual way," Spock said.

McCoy tapped his forehead, giving Spock a spasm of déjà vu.

"Whatever you've put in our heads is damnwell entrenched in there. I don't think someone you don't know could break it. What's going to happen during your next cycle?"

Spock didn't have an answer.

"If you're not fighting me, would it be easier?"

"I do not know."

McCoy took a breath. "If it's like this next time, I don't think I can do it."

"We may find a way to separate ourselves before the next cycle," Spock said. "What reason did you give to the admiral for my impending demise?"


Startled, Spock asked, "Would that be believable?"

"Would it be easier for him to believe that you died because I failed you as a sexual partner? Besides, I figured you'd want to keep the circumstances private. If that's possible. Jim's fairly astute when it comes to you." He frowned before adding, "Perhaps you could try melding with him. That might break what we've got."

"I do not desire him. Leonard, perhaps I have not been fighting you. Perhaps I have been fighting myself."

McCoy sighed tiredly. "Spock, please don't get theoretical right now. Give it a rest."

Spock bowed his head. "Do you prefer a female?"

"I prefer someone who's not trying to kill me."

"I am deeply sorry, Leonard. On all levels, you . . . free me. I am unaccustomed to it. I wish I could return the favour."

"Was that a joke?" McCoy asked. "It's a sad one."

"I do not mean I wish you to experience the madness directly." Spock lifted his hands, palms up. They were shaking.

McCoy knelt between Spock's legs and took the Vulcan's hands in his. "It's as if your race is suffering under a curse. I wish I could take it away from you."

"I wish--" Spock started. He lifted his head, and was taken aback by the sight.

McCoy was giving him a tender, affectionate smile. It made Spock feel - he reached inward - it made him feel safe.

The trembling in Spock's hands quieted. "Leonard, you astonish me."

The smile didn't waver. "Yeah, yeah. Ssh."

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