by K.V. Wylie

Here's the mirror,
Behind there is a screen
And with wings you can get in
Don't think twice.
"Gravity of Love," Enigma

After dropping Sarek, Amanda, and Sapok off at Vulcan, the Enterprise was ordered to a planet that Kirk had visited before. When the orders came through, a wistful look passed across Kirk's face as he said to McCoy, "We're going to the most peaceful place in the galaxy."

McCoy took the statement without comment. He'd been kicked by karma too many times to trust that anything could remain unchanged. It didn't surprise him in the least that it took less than half a day for Spock to be felled by a bullet fired from a flintlock that shouldn't have existed on Tyree's planet.

What did surprise him was Kirk's insistence that they return to the planet, leaving a gravely injured Spock on the ship.

"I can't leave Spock at this time," McCoy said. But the captain insisted.  They beamed down.

And Kirk was promptly felled by a mugato.

McCoy had an extensive vocabulary of curses, but sitting in the cave, waiting for Tyree's wife to bring her phantom, probably useless cure, and watching Kirk in the throes of a violent delirium, McCoy ran out of four-letter words.

Nona, Tyree's wife, did have a cure, a suspicious one. It was all that McCoy could do to keep an eye on Kirk with her around. His complaints and pleas fell on deaf ears. But then she died at the hands of some hill people and Tyree, in the deep, vengeful anger of the abruptly bereaved, demanded guns. McCoy silenced then. Tyree would fight and Kirk would supply the weapons and there was nothing McCoy could do about it.

The Enterprise returned to orbit. Security personnel beamed down with flintlocks and ammunition. McCoy heard Spock's voice through the communicator, but felt no need to beam up to check on the Vulcan. M'Benga was there. The doctor stayed planetside and tended to Tyree's wounded people.

Kirk found McCoy by the mouth of the cave where the captain had been taken with the mugato bite. Kirk sat down on the ground beside McCoy, his face drawn with exhaustion but a little less grim.

"They're learning," Kirk said. "They're learning well."

"And Tyree?"

Kirk breathed out, a harsh sigh. He'd turned his gentle friend into a warrior. It pained him, but there had been no alternative.

They sat quietly as a cold night settled around them. Someone had made a fire near the mouth of the cave which was why McCoy had chosen the spot. He threw some branches into the blaze and leaned into the warmth despite the ashes blowing on him.

"Bones, we have to talk," Kirk said. He had been looking up at the stars, but dropped his gaze when he spoke.

McCoy waited. He'd known this was coming, known Kirk had wanted to speak to him for weeks. The captain carried his guilt on his sleeve.

His face turned away towards the fire, Kirk said, "I slept with Spock."

"Jim, I know," McCoy said softly. No accusation. No anger. If anything, his tone was almost indulgent, the protective voice of a parent. "It's your business."

"It's over," Kirk said.

"I know that too," McCoy said. Kirk had to confess; McCoy was going to have to listen. He resigned himself to it.

Kirk looked at the doctor, his manner uncertain. "Did Spock tell you?"

"No. We don't talk about personal things." 

"How did you know?"

"I know him. And you. I know that it would have ended when Spock married me because you have a sense of honour and because he grew up in a home with a human marriage and a human marriage is about fidelity," McCoy said. "The sad thing is, after the ceremony, Spock told me that our marriage would not interfere with any intimate contacts that he or I might have. He was rather shocked at being tied to a human male. Out of hurt pride, he made it seem that the statement was to do with both of us, but he was really only talking about me."

McCoy's acceptance threw Kirk off-balance. The captain hadn't been sure what to expect, a proprietary retort perhaps. Or nonchalance covering hurt. Not this genuine tolerance.

"It was twice," Kirk said unsteadily, still going on with his confession. "Maybe it was just for relief. The ship had been through a bad time and he was there. After you and he came back from Vulcan, Spock told me that he would not go outside the bounds of his marriage. He didn't say he was married to you, just that…" Kirk hesitated. "I assumed there was a woman on Vulcan. When I found out it was you--god Bones, I'm so sorry."

"Jim, it's not my business."

"I couldn't be married to him, not like this where it doesn't really matter and you can do whatever you want."

McCoy brushed more ashes from his skin as he said gently, "That's why T'Pau didn't pick you."

They finished up on Tyree's planet. Kirk's gaseous vampire creature appeared. When it did, Spock came to Sickbay.

"I require an opinion on human irrationality," Spock said. McCoy would have found that statement amusing if he wasn't in the midst of autopsy reports.

Spock handed over the logs of the U.S.S. Farragut. He turned to leave, but McCoy stopped him.

"I'm going to be blunt, Spock, since you aren't inclined to speak to me much."

"I speak to you, doctor," Spock said.

"You know what I mean," McCoy said. "It's about our marriage contract and the bit about you carrying on the family line."

Spock stiffened. Immediately, McCoy said, "Don't get like that."

"There is nothing to discuss. I do not need psychological intervention or—"

"Shut up for two seconds, will you?" McCoy sighed. "You still have a responsibility to continue Surak's bloodline. T'Pau didn't put it in the contract because she knew I'd have no objection to it. I have a child; I can't deny you the same."

"So you say," Spock said.

"So Sapok says," McCoy said. "And you can take that as directly from the Matriarch's mouth." He couldn't resist adding, "So there."

The shoulders came down a tiny bit. McCoy managed a smile at the sight.

"Before you run off to do that, I'd appreciate your sticking around long enough to help me deal with Kirk and his Dracula cloud."

"Doctor, I will not be running off to—" Spock paused. McCoy's humour was inappropriate.

"I know," McCoy said. He grew serious again. "Don't get your back up when I say this, but your mother raised you. Because of her, I doubt you'll consider having a child unless you have feelings for the woman involved. When that happens, you need to know, I will be fine with it."

McCoy waited. He'd outed Spock on the emotions issue. He knew Spock had them. And now the Vulcan knew that he knew.

But Spock let it pass. After several, long moments, he said, "This marriage has affected you as well as myself. I have not enquired about your well-being."

"I had a hard time," the doctor admitted. "But I'm all right now." He pulled his viewer around. "I'll review the tape you gave me," McCoy said. He heard Spock leave as he turned to the viewer.

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