Author: K.V. Wylie
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgRating: PG
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Paramount and probably
some others. This is non-profit fanfic, and no harm is meant.
Summary: Janet's challenge - McCoy and Spock's first time
together. This story takes place at the end of the first Star
"I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again
Vejur, Decker, and Ilia burned in their thermonuclear island
over Earth. A normal person would have thought it impossible
to put timelines onto the first of any earth-shattering event,
but a few intrepid scientists had declared that the new
life-form's 'imminent' birth would occur in exactly two
hundred thousand years. Accordingly, McCoy felt he could take
time for a personal leave and not miss anything.
He'd meant to return to his daughter's home, but he'd been
thinking about Spock since the latter's episode of laughter in
Sickbay. McCoy knew more about the discipline of Kolinahr
than he let on. Two and a half years ago, when Spock first
disappeared into the mountain of Gol, McCoy decided the
dictionary explanation of Kolinahr as "mastery of emotion" was
unconvincing. The doctor decided to look for a few answers
Cultural brick walls had no chance against Leonard McCoy. His
quest left bewildered Vulcans and troubled Human diplomats in
his wake. At last a bemused T'Pau let him into her personal
library, after a not-so-subtle warning that she'd let rabid
Sehlats loose on him if he breathed a word of what he found to
McCoy knew a smattering of Vulcan, and he had a universal
translator. It wasn't enough. After watching him struggle
for a few weeks, T'Pau provided him with a Vulcan teacher,
Sanah. That was when McCoy realized that she, like Sarek and
Amanda, wasn't pleased with the Gol thing. The idea that
McCoy, of all people, could talk Spock out of the mountain was
a long shot, but it looked to be the only shot T'Pau had.
What McCoy learned about Kolinahr unnerved him. Kolinahr was
not mastery, but elimination. McCoy's Vulcan teacher put it
on the same level as taking laxatives. The process was base;
you went for the result.
The Vulcan equivalent of Nirvana.
He understood now why family members buried those who went to
Gol as if they were dead.
"Why do some Vulcans choose Kolinahr?" McCoy had asked.
"Why did you become a doctor?" Sanah replied.
"To ease suffering,' McCoy said, and blinked in surprise.
He'd thought Spock's disappearance into the mountain a selfish
Then he began to wonder what was hurting Spock so badly.
Kirk was no help. McCoy suspected the Captain as the cause,
though he didn't dare lay that notion on the line. James Kirk
didn't take kindly to being blamed (ironic from a man who was
harder on himself than anyone.) McCoy had to bring up the
subject of Spock almost casually.
This was before Vejur's cataclysmic return, before Decker
ascended so briefly into the Captain's chair, and during those
years when Kirk's attention was on Admiralty functions and a
woman named Lori, (not always in that order).
Kirk's response to Spock's decision was, "Isn't Kolinahr like
being a monk?"
"Uh, no," McCoy said.
"He always hated being half-Human," Kirk said. "It's got to
be something to do with that. It was his decision, Bones. I
didn't want him to go either."
End of conversation because Lori was waiting and Kirk's aide
was beeping him.
McCoy's last act was to go to Gol himself. T'Pau's influence
could get him to the gates, but the Adepts, either forewarned
or disliking McCoy on sight, would not let him in. They
wouldn't even open the door.
When night fell and le'cheyas began howling in hunger and
McCoy was up to his ankles in cold desert sand, he finally
He returned to earth and took up gardening.
Finally, Vejur came and McCoy was not-so-quaintly drafted.
The Enterprise crew reunited. Sulu discovered what it was
like trying to work in close proximity to a Deltan. Scotty
happily and dramatically returned to his engines. Uhura
discovered what the noise of a wormhole could do to
And Spock came out of the mountain.
Rather, the sheared-off Vulcan half came. The part that was
Human had pretty well disappeared.
Until one moment in Sickbay. The Vulcan grabbed Kirk's arm,
laughed, and said, "This simple feeling!"
That was the moment McCoy fell into a numb haze.
Now Vejur burned. Kirk was (politely) not referring to
Spock's outburst in Sickbay. Sulu was planning a trip to
Delta. Scotty and Uhura were going on a
And Spock was returning to Gol.
"What the hell for?" McCoy demanded.
"It is personal, doctor," Spock said.
"Too bad," McCoy said. "I'm going with you. Let them try to
keep the door closed on *me* a second time!"
"A second time?" Spock asked.
"Shut up. I've had an awful two and a half years," McCoy
The Vulcan eyed the doctor. "I thought you visited your
grandchildren and tended a garden."
"Ok, but other than that..." McCoy said.
"Why did you have an 'awful' time?"
"Because I studied Kolinahr too."
"Ask your parents. They'll tell you it's true."
A surprised Vulcan fell into a chair, a sight McCoy relished.
They left in Spock's shuttlecraft, neither of them able to
resist a last glimpse at the new life form over earth.
"We could get ourselves cryogenically frozen, and wakened when
the baby's born," McCoy said.
Spock frowned, unsure if the doctor was making a joke or not.
"I am content to wait."
"Well, some of us don't get put into Katra-balls. I'm never
going to know what comes out of this one."
Spock gave McCoy another surprised look. McCoy said, "I told
you I've been studying."
"The receptacles are not called Katra-balls," Spock said.
"Well, that's what they look like." McCoy tried to curl up
into a comfortable position in the co-pilot's chair. When
he'd found the most comfy-posture possible (which was not much
different from the least-comfy), he closed his eyes.
Spock's voice interrupted him a few minutes later. "Doctor,
why did you study Kolinahr?"
"Because you did," came the simple and sleepy answer.
"But you were not at Gol..?"
"I promised to keep the location, and teacher, secret."
Spock turned the shuttle over to auto-pilot, then swiveled in
his chair and regarded McCoy. He could tell from the doctor's
rhythmic breathing that he was nearly asleep. Another
peculiarity - Spock could not recall any other time the doctor
had fallen asleep in a shuttle without first complaining about
being at the mercy of a machine and making dire predictions of
waking up in twisted wreckage.
He supposed anyone could change in two point nine years, but
he hadn't believed the doctor would. Jim Kirk's moods were
mutable, and the Enterprise seemed destined to travel at the
whims of the universe, but the doctor had always been a
Spock had relied on that constancy. In the midst of battles,
plagues, bewildering Humans, and confrontations with unknown
entities, the doctor became, to Spock, home. McCoy's
familiarity was comfort.
The realization bothered Spock. It was inconsistent with his
Vulcan teaching. It tainted him with a Human need for
harborage, and no amount of discipline could get rid of the
weakness. The end of the five year mission, and the prospect
of losing the doctor's presence, gave Spock an almost
overwhelmingly hollow feeling.
It was unthinkable that a Vulcan should succumb to such a
mental deficiency. Unthinkable and shameful. Spock could not
admit the deficiency to his parents. He had no Vulcan
associate to turn to. Alone, he tried to find a solution.
Kolinahr, the most austere branch of Surakism, seemed the
answer. The Kolinahr Masters were unsure of him though. His
Human half made him an unlikely candidate. In the end, they
took him on as a kind of experiment, and, expecting him to
fail, worked him harder than any of the other students.
Spock got through it. He met every challenge, did everything
he was supposed to do and did it as hard as he could.
Looking now at the man in the chair beside him, that hollow
feeling cut through all his work and sacrifice, and mocked
Solar wind buffeted the shuttle. McCoy stirred just long
enough to murmur, "Damn machines. Don't crash us into
anything, Spock," before falling back to sleep.
Spock raised an eyebrow. *That* was the Human he knew.
"There is no logic," he whispered.
"What do you mean, on foot?" McCoy stared at the horizon of
unforgiving, baking, Vulcan desert before him.
"We walk," Spock said, putting on a backpack.
"All the way to Gol?"
"Yes," Spock said. "If we use mechanical conveyance, we will
not be let in."
"That's the reason no one would let me in before? And no one
bothered to tell me?" McCoy sighed. "What if we don't make
"Then we were not meant to make it there."
"It's Gol or death. Annoying prospect." McCoy got into his
supply pack, then put on the head covering Spock handed him.
"We will rest during midday, when the suns are closest to the
planet, and after nightfall, when there is risk of le'cheya
attack. If our progress is steady, we will reach Gol the
morning after tomorrow."
"And then?" McCoy asked.
"What I mean is, why are you going there?"
Spock paused. "I will tell you later. The more pertinent
question is why you insist on coming with me."
"When you tell me yours, I'll tell you mine," McCoy replied,
wiping sweat off his forehead with a corner of his headdress.
"It's hot already," he added.
"Yes," Spock agreed. "I have purchased the service of a
sandwal to walk with us." He rapped his walking stick on a
boulder. The ground rumbled in response, and a large circle
of sand ahead of them began to swirl.
McCoy jumped backwards as the sandwal rose in a whoosh out of
the desert. It was a massive creature, with a whale-shaped
body and legs that looked like tentacles. It's dusky-blue
bulk loomed like a wall between the men and the sun.
"We walk in its shadow," Spock said, gesturing for the doctor
to come closer.
McCoy took a few steps and found himself close to one of the
leviathan's enormous eyes. "Um...hello."
The eye blinked, then closed. The sandwal began shuffling
They traveled in silence until Vulcan's two suns were almost
completely overhead. Then the sandwal went underground and
Spock pitched a tent.
The tent had sides that could be pinned up, which McCoy did in
order to take advantage of the few pathetic breezes blowing
by. Then the two men crawled underneath the canvas roof and
opened their water bottles.
"Are you hungry?" Spock asked as he took some fruit out of his
McCoy shook his head. He watched the Vulcan slice a pear
before saying, "Your parents buried you."
"That is the tradition when a family member goes to Gol."
"If you change your mind, are you allowed to go back home?"
"Home," Spock repeated quietly. "My home is not my father's
house. Vulcans do not need a home."
McCoy considered, then decided not to pursue that comment.
Changing tactics, he said, "Forgive me, Spock, but it strikes
me that Kolinahr didn't do a lot for you."
"Do you think I failed?"
"In Sickbay, after you stupidly tried to mindmeld with Vejur,
you changed course rather abruptly. You came from Gol all
Vulcan. You came from Vejur laughing. You said, 'this simple
Spock contemplated a wedge of pear. "A simple feeling was
more than Vejur could comprehend. For all its seemingly
infinite knowledge and logic, Vejur was sterile and bare. It
knew no hunger."
McCoy quieted. Spock waited for some comment, some retort,
something. (Isn't that what I said for five years? Live a
little more according to your nerve endings!)
Sand blew into Spock's lunch. He brushed it off, then set
down his fruit and said, "Doctor."
"Call me Leonard," McCoy said. "Outside of the Enterprise, no
one calls me doctor. I'm retired, you know."
"I didn't know," Spock said. "Why did you retire? You're too
"Young," McCoy half-smiled. "Perhaps by Vulcan standards."
"If you follow a normal Human pattern, you have not lived half
of your life span yet. Why did you retire...Leonard?"
"I retired because I had nothing else to do."
McCoy took a slice of pear. "I was no longer needed. I
missed the life I had. I didn't want a fake job, such as
those wonderful paper-pushing positions available at any
starbase near you. I decided to do something different."
"Gardening," Spock said dubiously.
"I grew cantaloupes and those aren't easy. They tend to rot
on the vine. I even entered cantaloupe contests."
"Did you win?"
McCoy scowled. "It's not whether you win or lose, Spock.
It's the joy of accomplishment."
"Your cantaloupes lost," Spock surmised.
"Those people cheat," McCoy said. "They use illegal
fertilizers, hydroponics, and I swear one man was injecting
his melons with cellulose."
Spock abruptly turned his gaze out towards the desert. The
doctor's words had flooded his mind with five years' worth of
other conversations, and memories that felt as if they were
They finished their lunch in silence. A little while later,
the sandwal came back to the surface and they resumed their
Night descended with a cartoon like rapidity. The suns
bounced off the horizon and disappeared, stars emerged as if
shot out of cannons, and the sandwal came to a sudden, dead
McCoy rubbed his eyes as they tried to adjust to the darkness.
"Nothing like a romantic, lingering sunset to end the day."
Then he coughed. "I meant--"
"I understand," Spock said. "I have read Human romantic
novels and noted the overabundant use of sunsets to set mood.
If two beings need an external event to facilitate their
approach to each other, I do not place much stability on their
McCoy decided he wasn't going to touch that comment. "Isn't
our companion going under the sand again?"
"No, she will remain in order to provide warmth and protection
for us. The desert is cold at night. As well, there are
McCoy hadn't realized the sandwal was female. He nodded at
the eye he could see and said, "Thanks, ma'am."
They put their sleeping bags against the sandwal's flank. As
McCoy set out some rations and vegetable roots, he noticed
Spock sit down with his back against the creature. The doctor
copied the action. The sandwal's skin was rough but
pleasantly warm, and her easy draws of breath were relaxing.
As he got comfortable, he asked, "Are we allowed a light?"
"Yes," Spock replied. "A small one so as to not draw
attention to ourselves." He turned on a battery lamp and
placed it between them. Then he picked up one of the roots
the doctor had given him and eyed it warily before taking a
"It's kosher," McCoy said.
"I thought it was a vegetable," Spock said.
"I mean, it's ok under both Vulcan and Kolinahr disciplines,"
McCoy told him.
"I see," Spock said, a little amused. "But I was not
concerned you would bring unacceptable food. I was
considering the amount of sand on it."
"It's in everything, isn't it?" McCoy sighed. "I'd hate to
know what it's doing to our digestive tracts." He pulled off
his head covering, wiped the grit out from underneath, then
noticed that Spock was still looking at him. "What is it?"
"You were wrong. You said you were no longer needed," Spock
said. "A doctor's skills are always needed."
"Spock, I didn't say my skills were unneeded. I said *I*
"Well, everyone's allowed a little," McCoy said.
Spock returned to his picky eating. McCoy eyed his profile
surreptitiously in the dim light. He'd seen those angles and
planes and the tips of those ears a thousand times, yet they
always fascinated him. Spock's face never held light the same
way twice. The expression was rigid, but the complexity of
the man shone through.
"I've known you for seven and a half years," McCoy said
softly, "and you're as much a mystery as the day we met."
Startled, Spock looked over. "Why do you say that?"
"I can peg most people, Vulcans included, but I can't peg you.
Spock, why the hell are you returning to Gol? I know what
Kolinahr is, and I can't understand what you think it'll do
Spock put down his dinner. "Some might call your claim of
understanding Kolinahr arrogant."
"The goal is to end all desire, craving, and suffering. The
way to achieve that is to completely eradicate your individual
consciousness. Spock, you're not going to make it. No one
can. It goes against every nerve fiber and blood cell in your
"Leonard, if you were to take that line with any of the
"Bring them on," McCoy said, "because I would be able to look
them in the eyes and tell them they hadn't made it either.
I'm not saying Kolinahr's goals aren't good ones, and I'm not
belittling it, but the reality is, Spock, that you are not a
being of pure logic, and you will never be able to erase
whatever it is that's hurting you. You could go back into
that mountain and live there for the rest for your days and do
everything they tell you to do, but you will never lose the
capacity to suffer. So...please don't go."
"Why should my decision affect you?"
"I have no idea," McCoy said. His hands were trembling. He
pushed them into his lap, hoping the darkness would hide them.
"You're wrong about something else too. You claimed Vulcans
don't need a home - ask your father where his home is. It's
"Vulcans do not--."
"Ask your father," McCoy repeated. "Spock, is there something
I can do to keep you from Gol?"
"Did my parents ask you to speak to me?"
"No, they didn't," McCoy said. "Whatever it is, even if all I
can do is listen, I promise to. I can listen. I can keep
Spock turned to look across the desert.
"Earlier today, when I asked you why you were going to Gol,
you said you'd tell me later," McCoy reminded him. "Is it
something to do with Jim?"
The Vulcan mentally signed in frustration. McCoy was
incredibly stubborn. Part of him was angry about it.
And part of him was relieved.
"Illogical," he whispered.
"You've said that about me before," McCoy agreed.
Spock glanced back at the doctor. In a raw voice, he said, "I
have five degrees. I served with Humans for over twenty-five
standard years and I have had some...personal experiences with
them. Yet, with you, it is as if I know nothing. You are
Startled, McCoy managed, "Sorry. If you prefer, I'll sleep on
the other side of the sandwal."
"*I* am the illogical one," Spock admitted.
The Vulcan took a few minutes. McCoy waited.
At last, Spock said, "I found myself...wanting someone."
McCoy thought, so this *is* about Jim.
The thought hurt.
Out loud, he asked, "Why do you think Vulcan parents betroth
their children to mates?"
"Without mates, Vulcan males die during Pon Farr."
"But Vulcan couples stay together between the cycles. Vulcan
marriages are about more than keeping one of the partners from
dying every seven years," McCoy said. "Marriage is the normal
state on Vulcan, not solitude."
"Are you, a Human, telling me, a Vulcan, about my people?"
Spock asked, a tinge of sternness in his tone.
"I sure am," McCoy said, unimpressed by the tone. "I don't
know how you got this way, but you're caught in some delusion
that needing someone weakens you. T'Pau would disagree with
you. Your father would disagree with you. Look at your
parents' marriage. Amanda is Sarek's second wife. He chose
her, specifically her, and I'm sure, with his position, he had
lots of women to choose from. He married her because he
wanted her." McCoy paused, then continued quietly, "Wanting
someone is subjective. It's not objective; it's not logical.
God knows how it happens. I have no idea. But it does
happen, even on Vulcan."
"Is this how you listen? By lecturing?" However, Spock's
voice was no longer cold.
"I do have good intentions, Spock, but every time I try to
listen to you, I end up telling you off. I admit it." McCoy
picked up a root, then dropped it back in the cooler. "I
think we're attracted to people who will complete us, who have
qualities that we lack, and who will support us when we're
vulnerable. To want someone, to need them, to choose that one
person out of the billions and billions of people in the
galaxy, well, it makes that person special. Whoever it is you
want, maybe...you could tell her or him. Maybe...hell, I'm
sure, whoever she or he is would be open to...being with you.
I think it would be hard to resist someone who is choosing you
out of billions." He shrugged. "End of lecture." He met
Spock's eyes. "Now, after all that, for Godsakes, please
don't tell me you're still going to Gol."
"The destination was irrelevant," Spock said. "The important
part was the journey."
McCoy frowned. "Pardon?"
"I suspected you would come with me. Actually, we could have
just taken a shuttle. There is no protocol about having to
walk to the mountain."
The doctor stared at him.
The words didn't come easily. Spock took a breath and said in
a rush, "Leonard, I want you. I hope, by your vehement
opposition to my returning to Gol, that you have a specific
reason for your opposition."
McCoy thought he was hyperventilating. "Y-you want me? I
thought it was Jim."
"No, Leonard. You."
"But I'm just a...an unexceptional human. You're out of my
"Out of your reach?"
"It just about killed me when you were in that mountain and I
couldn't get to you. I stood outside the gates for hours."
A cold wind blew by. Spock tried to hide a shiver. "I'm
sorry. I didn't know. No one told me you'd come."
McCoy stared at him in shock. "You want *me*?"
"You are not unexceptional," Spock said. "No one who meets
you could say that. But I am neither Vulcan nor Human. I do
not fit in. I did not think I had anything to offer you." He
pressed against the warmth of the sandwal. "Before you accept
or reject me, I need to tell you of something I have done."
"Reject you?" McCoy asked. "I would never--"
"Ssh," Spock interrupted. "You have a right to know before
He lowered his head. In the bleak light, McCoy could hardly
"Tell me, then," McCoy said, the only words he could manage
without his voice breaking. He hugged his arms to his chest,
feeling himself quaking and unsure if it was the shock or the
cold. He wanted to turn the light up, reach over, and touch
And he wanted to smash the light completely and escape into
the night. He was afraid that something terrifying was going
to happen when Spock spoke.
"On Beta Niobe, after I lay with Zarabeth, I wanted to kill
her. I was almost overcome with rage. I...do not understand
"You were acting as a Vulcan of that time would," McCoy said.
Spock was shaking his head. "You were unconscious in an
adjoining cavern, an easy target. My anger was directed
against her. I had my hands around her throat, but
she...opened her legs again and I spent myself in that
Softly, almost too soft to hear, McCoy said, "Spock, I have
been that angry."
"Angry enough to take a life? I cannot believe that."
"It was two weeks after my father died. Oh, Spock, how he
died." McCoy swallowed. "There was no cure. There was
nothing, just relentless pain. He begged me, over and over,
day after day, to let him die. And so I...did. I turned off
the oxygen, the alarm, and the respirator. And he..."
McCoy had to stop. He looked away. "They suspended my
medical license. I didn't care. What did I care? But then,
two weeks after my father died, some goddamned group of
scientists came out with a cure! Two fucking weeks! So I
went to my father's house and shut myself in my old room
and..." He took a breath. "A neighbor saw me go in the house
and got concerned. They told me that she came over, saw the
blood, and called an ambulance. I still have the scars."
McCoy looked over. "See what you'd be getting? You couldn't
"Leonard, I need you." Spock moved over beside McCoy.
"Perhaps I could be whom you need as well."
"You are." McCoy tentatively touched the Vulcan's cheek.
Spock began caressing him in return until he ached from head
"It's too cold," McCoy said, his teeth chattering. "I'm
covered in sand and sweat. And there's her."
"The sandwal is asleep," Spock reassured him. "And we are
both covered in sand and perspiration." He tucked their
sleeping bags together under one of the sandwal's huge legs,
then brought the doctor and the lamp into the nook with him.
"This is warm," McCoy said.
"Yes," Spock said. He was on his side, just barely in contact
with the doctor's cooler body. "Your eyes blaze," he added in
"I can't believe I'm allowed to touch you," McCoy whispered.
Delight coursed through him when the Vulcan smiled.
They didn't have much room, and desert grit was literally
everywhere. As well, the sandwal's breathing was a reminder
that they were not alone. McCoy was hesitant, but he finally
pushed Spock's shirt up and stroked his palms over the
Vulcan's fiery skin. He felt the Vulcan pulling at his
clothing with more gentle motions.
McCoy hadn't suspected that Spock would enjoy caressing so
much. He thought the Vulcan would be restrained while
lovemaking, perhaps even unwilling to admit to desire. But
this Vulcan was enjoying him.
"Spock, it's...been a long time since I..."
"Leonard, I told you, with you it is as if I do not know
anything. If you're feeling unsure, it is all right. It is
the same for me. Teach me how to give you pleasure."
The Vulcan's words left McCoy breathless with arousal. Do
Vulcans kiss? he wondered. He pulled Spock back to him, to
kiss him, and there was no resistance. When their mouths
opened to each other, they both moaned.
All they could do was touch each other. There was no room for
anything else. But it was enough. McCoy found himself crying
when Spock reached down between his thighs and took hold of
They stroked each other, murmuring indistinguishable words,
until they simultaneously and awkwardly sent their seed
spilling and tumbling between them.
When he caught his breath, Spock said, "I have quarters in
Vulcana Regar. The apartment is not big, but there is running
"It sounds like heaven," McCoy replied, shimmying until he was
lying across the Vulcan's chest. "May I kiss you again?"
"Leonard, the answer is always yes."
"I like the sound of yes," McCoy whispered happily. "Say it
Spock pulled McCoy's lips to his and murmured, "Yes, yes, yes,
yes," until he wasn't able to speak anymore.