Notes in a Bottle

Title: Notes in a Bottle
Author: jonk <>
Series: TOS
Part: 1/1 (vignette)
Rating: [PG-13]
Codes: S/Mc, a/u, h/c
copyright 1999 author
DISCLAIMER: This is a Star Trek fan fiction story, and the characters and
the settings belong to thems what owns 'em; Paramount and Viacom. All
other content belongs to the author.

Summary: "Notes In A Bottle" is a vignette that I list as A/U because it
doesn't fall easily into the canon timeline. Spock has his katra back, but
McCoy has been left to deal with the aftermath on his own, as best he can.

Note: This was written in 1997 primarily as a character and background
concept sketch for a story posted later that year, and was sent untitled
only to a few good friends off-line. At Jungle Kitty's kind prodding, I
dusted it off, gave it a light edit and a title, and she read it publicly
for the first time at Shore Leave 1999. This is the version she read.
Thanks, Jungle Kitty, and thanks to all who have boldly gone with
this story.


Spock walked into sickbay and abruptly stopped, surprised. The computer
had indicated McCoy was here, but he found the place unexpectedly dark.

"Doctor McCoy?"

No answer. Spock cocked his eyebrow, turned to leave, and stopped again
just outside the doorway.   Something was amiss.

"Computer, please locate Dr. McCoy."

"Dr. McCoy is in sickbay."

Spock's eyebrow flicked up again. Without hesitation he stepped back
into sickbay, let the doors slide shut behind him. The darkness was not
total; the dim standby lights showed enough to permit him to navigate.
He took another step deeper into the room. Someone was here, of that
he was certain. Why no answer?

"Doctor McCoy?"

"Did you really have to ask the computer where I was?" The voice was
soft, full of pain. Spock moved to the door of McCoy's office, saw him
sitting at his desk. It was bare save for a bottle, an empty glass and
his folded hands.

"Doctor? Are you ill?"

"Am I ill." McCoy snorted mirthlessly. "Don't you know? Can't you tell?"

Spock was silent for a moment. The life support filters on the
Enterprise were very effective, but as he took another step into the
office, he could smell the alcohol and the sharp, bitter scent of human
stress and fear.

"You are drunk."

"Very good, Mr. Spock! Your powers of observation haven't failed you
completely. Yes, I am drunk. I am not just drunk, I am very, very
drunk.  You know something else?" McCoy leaned forward, into a faint
pool of light. His eyes glittered softly. "I'm not near drunk enough."

"Why would you poison yourself like this? It is not logical." Spock
studied him, genuinely puzzled. McCoy straightened, his posture
suddenly stiff, his face hidden now by shadow.

"Why would...You really don't know, do you? My god. What a joke."

"Doctor, perhaps you should seek rest."

"And that will make things all better, is that it? Is that it?" The
anger in his voice cut through the fear, the grief. "Dammit, Spock,
what is wrong with you?"

Spock involuntarily took a step back, then stopped. "Are you angry
with me?"

"He asks if I'm angry with him. After all that's happened." McCoy
shook his head, leaned slowly forward, braced his elbows on the table
and buried his face in his hands. Spock watched him for a moment, then
moved fully into the room, pulled up a chair and sat down opposite
the doctor.

"Perhaps you should tell me."

"My god, Spock, do I even have to? Why the hell don't you know? You
stuck your damned katra in me without so much as a by your leave, and
now...Damn you, you green-blooded son of a bitch!" McCoy grabbed the
bottle, unsteadily poured himself another drink, kicked it back. Spock
noted the glass was empty again.

"Doctor, that is unwise." Even as he said it, Spock knew it was the
wrong thing to say. McCoy reached out, poured another glass, emptied
it as well.

"Well why don't y'all go and be noble for both of us?" The Southern
drawl was thick. He moved to pour yet another drink, and Spock caught
his wrist. The human's pain made him gasp, and the Vulcan let go as
if burned. McCoy watched him bitterly.

"Too much for you, huh? Think of what it's been like for me."

Spock pensively rubbed his hand. McCoy grabbed the bottle, upended
it. Nothing came out. "Damn." He flung it into the corner, where it
clinked against more glass.

"How much have you drunk?" The voice was quiet, and McCoy looked up
sharply. The tone of it had not been neutral.

"Why don't you go and look, Mr. Spock, if you're so damned
interested?" McCoy rose unsteadily with the intention of finding
another bottle. His legs could not support him. Spock leaped up, reached
out quickly to steady him, and McCoy lashed out, staggered, fought him off.

"Keep your hands off me! I'm sick and tired of you, do you hear me?"

The two stared at eachother, and McCoy slowly sank back into his chair.

"My god, Spock. My god." Dully he stared at the wall. Slowly Spock sat
down as well.

"Do you want me to leave?"

"Yes! No. No! Don't go. Oh god, Spock, I don't know what I want." A
silence, then he bowed his head. "No, that's not true."

Spock watched him. "I am sorry to have caused you pain. It was not
my intention."

"No, Spock. You haven't done a damned thing. It's me. It's me."

"Then what..."

"Will you shut up for two minutes?" Anger sparked again, subsided.
"Hell, I might as well tell you." He reached again for a bottle, but
of course none was there. "I've been drinking alone all evening, and
I pick now to run out of whisky. It figures." He picked up the empty
glass, turned it around in his hands. "I can't stand it anymore,
Spock.  It was bad enough, thinkin' you were dead.  It was worse,
carryin' your katra and not knowin' what the hell was happening. But
that was nothing. I had no idea. No bloody damned idea." He shook
his head.


McCoy looked up, his eyes shining. "Dammit, Spock, I couldn't deny it
any more. All the time, right there in my face. Every dodge I tried,
every drink I took, every... dammit. Dammit. What the hell." His
voice caught, and Spock jumped as he sharply jammed the glass down on
the table. "What the hell. I thought I just missed you, and that was
bad enough, but no, the problem is I love you,  I'm in love with you,
and I had to sit there with you inside me, day after day, hour after
hour, minute after minute, it just got deeper and deeper and now I
don't know if there's any floor to this ocean, any shore, not knowing
if you'd ever come back, and dammit, damn you, you walked right past
me and turned to Jim, and now I have this hole in me where you used to
be and I'm just bleeding my life out here, Spock! You won't even talk
to me, you're not even aware of me! Oh god, oh god."

For a moment they stared at one another, McCoy's eyes bright with tears.

"I am aware of you, Leonard."

"Then why the hell won't you talk to me? How can you sit there and
not fall to pieces?" He heard his voice breaking, and for once he
didn't care.

Spock said nothing. McCoy's eyes widened.

"Leonard. You called me Leonard."  Barely more than a whisper.


"Spock...Oh hell."

"Leonard, let me help."

Hope blazed up in McCoy's eyes, veiled then by distrust. "Oh, no. You're
going to make me forget, after telling me to remember. Can't you leave
well enough alone?"

Spock was silent. McCoy was right.  The Vulcan sat woodenly, not knowing
what to do. With a curse, McCoy rose to his feet, and made it as far as
the door before his legs gave out. Spock was out of his chair and caught
him as he fell, unmindful of the pain.

"Let go of me, Spock. Just go." McCoy's voice was faint.


A silence. "Then hold me. Talk to me. Tell me what it was like for you.
I've got to know, Spock. I need..."

Spock shifted his grip on McCoy's arms, cradled the doctor in his lap,
just held him there. A memory came to him then, of his mother singing
in the darkness, an ancient Terran lullaby. Gently he reached out,
brushed a sweat-dampened lock of McCoy's hair from the doctor's
forehead, smoothed it back in a gesture he remembered from his mother.
He cupped his long fingers alongside McCoy's cheek, just held him there.

"Spock." The voice was just above a breath. "Oh god, Spock, don't...
don't touch me like this, you don't know how much I want...
damn you." McCoy reached up, gripped Spock's wrist tightly, fighting to
keep control even as he almost involuntarily moved to hold the Vulcan,
shifted to get closer.

"Leonard..." Spock's voice was soft. His fingers spread across McCoy's
face,  paused as McCoy looked up in panic.

"God. Spock, don't do this, don't take this away from me!"

"No. I will not."

McCoy held him tighter. Spock was surprised at the strength in the
human's hands.

"For the last time, Spock, go. I know you don't feel for me...Look, I'll be
better in the morning. Just go."

"Leonard. You know that is not true."

"If you don't go I'm going to start crying, and I can't stand that."

Spock stilled, did not move. "Then weep. I will not leave you."

"Damn you, you pointy eared bastard! Damn you, why did it have to be you,
of all the..." McCoy's voice hitched, the tears began to stream steadily
down his cheeks, and still he did not cry. Spock said nothing, just smoothed

McCoy's hair once again and held him still.  McCoy's grip on his wrist
tightened further, almost painfully, until with a sudden choked cry he
struggled out of Spock's arms, rolled onto his knees. Spock cried out at
the broken contact, reached out and fell. McCoy scrambled away, panting,
glaring at him.

"I see. You're going to take care of me, is that it? Poor Leonard, he needs
help, I'll be noble..."

Spock shook his head, confused. "Doctor, that is not my intention..."

"Oh isn't it?" A pause. "Look at me, Spock."

The dark eyes lifted, steady.

"Get. Out."

Spock's eyes narrowed. Slowly he rose to his feet, stared down at McCoy.

"I do not understand."

"No. Of course you don't. I'll tell you one thing, Spock. I don't think
I'll ever feel differently about you, but I'll be damned if I'll let you
treat me if I'll let you treat me as if I'm broken."

Spock's eyes glittered coldly. "Then perhaps you should treat yourself
more gently."

McCoy sat back, shocked, as the Vulcan strode past him. "Spock..."

Swish. The doors opened and shut. Spock was gone.

*I deserved that.* The thought was out before he could suppress it. He
sank down, curled his arms around himself, around the gnawing heartpain
inside, and still he could not cry. The fear was too great.


The snow leopard looked him directly in the eye. "Len," she said,
adjusting her tiara. "Len, speak. Before it is too late."

McCoy only stared at her as she yawned, her jaws gaped, and gaped wider,
filled with gleaming fangs and blood-red tongues; in utter silence she
sprang at him. He screamed, tumbled back away from her, the terrible
jaws filling his sight, drowning the world in fear. His hands closed on
something hard and solid, and suddenly he realized he was awake, gripping
tightly to the leg of his desk, frantic with terror.  He caught himself
reaching out, his lips already beginning to form Spock's name, but no,
he was alone.

Of course.

With a shuddering sigh, McCoy stood up and leaned heavily on the table,
trembling,  gasping for air as his heartrate slowly returned to normal.
The comm unit startled him when it unexpectedly pinged an alert. He jammed
his thumb as he fumbled to answer.

"McCoy here!"

"Bones, shake a leg. You're late." Kirk's voice was painfully healthy.


"0700 staff meeting, remember? "

"Oh...right. Uh...Start without me, ok? I'll be right there."

"Bones, we're discussing the lab refit, remember? We can't start
without you."

"Right. Yes, I knew that, I'm just, ah...just stopped by sick bay...I'm on
my way. McCoy out."

Nothing for it. Quickly he pitched the empty bottles in the recycle
chamber; no point in giving the staff something more to talk about. Stopped
long enough to administer a hypo of alcohol neutralizer, changed his shirt
as he waited a moment to allow the drug to take effect. The physical pain
The physical pain seemed to flow down out of him like water, but the pain
in his heart seemed only that much clearer. What had he been thinking, to
get so drunk, to tell Spock how he felt? The leopard's words came back to
him, and finally he managed a rueful chuckle. Maybe there was a part of him
smarter than he gave himself credit for, a part that needed to shut him
up long enough to get a word in edgewise. What was it that the ancient poet
Sappho had once said? If you're squeamish, don't prod the beach rubble.
Well, he'd gone and given it a good kick, what did he expect?

McCoy shook his head, ran a tired hand through his hair, took a deep breath
and all but dived out of sickbay.