Captain Kirk turned as Spock entered the bridge in his anti-grav chair. “Welcome back, Mr. Spock,” he said. “It hasn’t been the same without you.”
“Thank you, Captain,” he said as he directed his chair toward the science station. He glanced at McCoy where he stood next to the captain, but only raised an eyebrow at him. Kirk looked at the doctor curiously.
“I had to slip him a mickey last night,” McCoy said quietly. “I don’t think he’s forgiven me yet.”
Kirk stared at him with a small grin. “Was he misbehaving again?” he asked.
“You could say that,” McCoy answered as he glanced back to make sure Spock wasn’t listening. “You don’t think his katra was damaged somehow while it rattled around inside my head, do you?”
“What do you mean?” Kirk asked as he stole a glance at Spock. “He seems the same.”
McCoy rubbed a hand across his mouth. “I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe it’s like Amanda says and he’s just embracing his human half after all these years...and there’s the whole joining thing that would drive anyone mad...”
“What are you getting at?” Kirk prompted.
McCoy turned to watch Spock working quietly at his station. “I don’t know,” he said again. “Maybe I’m imagining it, but he seems different.”
“Different good or different bad?” Kirk asked after a long look at Spock.
McCoy pursed his lips. “Just different,” he said, as he turned to leave the bridge. As the turbolift doors opened, he nearly collided into Saavik who was stepping out of the lift. He excused himself and watched her proceed to the science station and sit next to Spock. Then changing his mind about leaving, he turned to lean on the center rail and watch the Vulcans.
“Coming up on Elaanus now, Captain,” Spock announced. “Beginning detailed sensor scan.”
Spock and Saavik began sorting and analyzing the raw data as it was received. They worked efficiently together with very little need for verbal communication. Spock appeared to be in complete control at the moment, and had acknowledged Saavik’s arrival with only a look. McCoy shook his head. Just about when you got used to one type of Vulcan, they’d go and change again!
“Class M environment,” Spock was saying. “With a great variety of flora and fauna, exceeding that of Derilia and its other moons together.”
“Mineral deposits also show a great variety,” Saavik said. “However I am not reading any trausium at all.”
Spock raised an eyebrow at that and made an adjustment on his scanner. “There are many large bodies of salt water, located mainly around the equator,” he continued. “The land masses are situated at the poles.”
Saavik suddenly stood and bent over the scanner hood. “Captain, there was a brief energy reading on the southern land mass, but now it’s gone.”
“Natural?” he asked.
“Unknown,” she answered, as she angled the hood down so Spock could look into it.
Kirk stared at the moon on the viewscreen. Another mystery. He turned back to the Vulcans.
“What’s the weather like down there?” he asked.
“It’s a temperate climate,” Saavik answered. “currently in the warm season.”
“Captain,” Spock said, “there are now multiple energy readings in the northern hemisphere.”
“Confirmed,” Saavik said as her hands flew over the controls, “And more still...beneath the oceans.”
Kirk turned back to the viewscreen as he rubbed a hand across his face. Finally he turned back to the Vulcans.
“Saavik,” he said, “take a team down to investigate. Avoid any contact with sentient life.” He glanced back at the moon hanging peacefully in space. “And maintain constant contact with the ship.”
Suddenly Spock turned his chair to face the center of the bridge. “No!” he practically shouted.
Everyone turned to look at him as Kirk approached the center rail to study his first officer.
“Why not?” Kirk asked sharply. He was not used to his commands being questioned so openly and certainly not by his first officer.
“The risk is too great,” Spock said in a somewhat quieter voice.
Kirk stared hard at his friend. “Saavik is a Starfleet officer,” he said, “she understands risk.”
“I will go,” Spock answered evenly.
Kirk stepped around the rail to move closer. “Spock,” he said, “you’re in no condition...”
“Then send someone else,” Spock insisted as he met Saavik’s confused stare.
Kirk’s gaze hardened as he turned his attention to Saavik. “Gather your team,” he said. “I want reports every fifteen minutes.”
As Saavik stood to comply, Spock suddenly grabbed her wrist and held her there. She stood awkwardly, glancing between him and the captain, as Spock’s irrational fear flooded the link.
“Doctor,” Kirk said hotly, “get your patient off my bridge!”
McCoy went to Spock, reaching out to the hand that held Saavik. “Let her go, Spock,” he said gently.
Spock stared at him silently but slowly he released his hand and dropped it to his lap. He glanced once more at Saavik before bowing his head in defeat. McCoy activated the chair and walked with him to the turbolift. As the doors closed, McCoy looked at the suddenly passive man beside him.
“What’s going on, Spock?” he asked with concern.
Spock kept his head down, his hands folded together. He was silent a long time.
“I do not know,” he finally said. “As the desire of the joining begins to fade, I am left with intense feelings of protection toward Saavik.” He sighed deeply and looked up at the doctor. “You should not underestimate my capacity for illogical behavior when presented with real or perceived threats to her safety.”
McCoy laid a firm hand on his shoulder as the lift doors opened. “Come on, old friend,” he said. “I’m giving you a complete workup and you’re giving me a complete education in anything remotely connected to Vulcan reproduction and relationships.”
Spock nodded slowly. His friend had certainly earned the right to an open discussion about such matters. Whether that would yield any answers was another matter entirely.
McCoy took Spock to the privacy of rehab and helped him on to the bed. The indicators immediately registered a baseline of his metabolic processes. McCoy pursed his lips and nodded as he took further readings with his hand-held scanner.
“So you said the joining is beginning to fade?” he asked. “It sure didn’t look like it last night.”
“Indeed it is,” Spock said. “However, being unable to act on the impulses, renders the desire cumulative.” He gave the doctor a wry smile. “It has been, as you humans say, a rather long dry spell.”
The doctor returned the smile. “Tell ya what,” he said, “when you can walk out of here, all restrictions are off.”
Spock raised an eyebrow with interest. McCoy reached out a hand to help him sit up.
“We may as well get you out of that uniform,” he said. “Jim’s not likely to let you on the bridge anytime soon.”
He helped Spock to strip down to his under garments and raised the head of the bed so he could sit up comfortably. Then pulling up a chair next to the bed, he sat down to observe his patient.
“Spock,” he began. “Your pon farr during our first five year mission...was your first?”
“Yes,” Spock answered. “There is some variation in the cycle even among full Vulcans. But when I experienced none at all during early adulthood, I began to believe that my human genes had somehow rendered me immune to that biological imperative.”
“I take it you don’t have a regular seven year cycle...”
“No,” Spock answered. “My cycle is neither regular in frequency nor intensity.”
“And the one you just had?”
”Was particularly intense,” Spock finished with a sigh.
McCoy nodded slowly. “Do Romulans have a pon farr?”
Spock considered the question. “I do not know,” he said. “Since they are free to experience their passions, I do not think it would be necessary. It is possible that they evolved out of that biological need.”
McCoy thought that over. “Do you know if Saavik has ever had a pon farr?”
Spock looked suddenly very thoughtful. “No,” he answered. “I must admit I never considered the question. I just assumed...”
“Well,” McCoy said, “you should ask her when she gets back. In the meantime, let’s figure out your current dilemma. When did the protective feeling start exactly?”
Spock sighed deeply. “It was an immediate instinctive reaction,” he said. “I did not make a conscious decision to interfere with the captain’s commands.”
McCoy nodded. “Spock, I think all those pregnancy hormones floating around are activating a primal need to defend your mate.” He smiled a little. “I’m not sure I can help with that.”
Spock gave him a pensive look. “Perhaps you would like to sedate me again?” he asked.
McCoy smiled. “Don’t tempt me,” he said. “Now come on and lay back. We may as well do your exercises while we’re chewing the fat.”
He adjusted the bed so Spock could lie down and began the range of motion exercises on his legs while they talked.
“So what’s it like having the mental link?” the doctor asked. “Can you communicate with one another?”
Spock closed his eyes as he considered the question. “Yes, communication is possible,” he said, “but generally only at short distances. However, the other can be sensed over great distances, particularly when strong emotions are involved.”
“Can you sense her now?” McCoy asked.
“Yes,” Spock answered, “she is well.”
McCoy shook his head. “I thought human love was special but you Vulcans take the cake.” He walked around the bed to exercise the other leg. “So how do you establish this link? Is it done through a meld or something?”
“The marital bond is established through a mind meld,” Spock explained. “An image of each is left in the other’s mind to act as a conduit for thoughts and emotions. It is possible when in the vicinity of one another, to have a conversation in thought only.”
McCoy shook his head. “I’m not sure I’d want someone in my head like that,” he said.
Spock smiled a little. “It is not an invasion,” he said, “but more an embrace.”
McCoy released his leg and looked at Spock. “Do you love her?” he asked bluntly.
“Yes,” Spock answered without hesitation, drawing a raised eyebrow from the doctor.
“I thought Vulcans didn’t speak of such things.”
“Vulcans are reticent to speak of many things that are nonetheless true,” Spock answered. “Besides, as you are fond of pointing out, I am half human.”
McCoy smiled as he covered Spock’s legs with the sheet. “Well,” he said, “It’s your Vulcan half that’s causing all the current trouble. How are we going to fix this?”
Spock sat up as the doctor adjusted the bed again. “ If the captain will permit it,” he said, “I can work from here as easily as I can on the bridge.”
McCoy nodded slowly. “He may allow it,” he said as he picked up Spock’s arm to take a blood sample. “If you don’t go all white knight again.”
Spock acknowledged the comment with a bow of his head. McCoy released his arm and glanced at the biometrics once more before moving to begin the massages on his legs. Spock watched him a moment before speaking.
“Leonard,” he said, drawing a surprise look from the doctor, “I want to thank you for your attention during my pon farr. I believe it was instrumental in its successful completion.”
McCoy smiled awkwardly. “We’ve been through a lot together,” he said. “Might as well go whole hog.”
Spock raised an eyebrow but didn’t comment on the idiom. McCoy continued to massage his legs as Spock closed his eyes in thought.
“If it is possible,” Spock finally said, “will you be present at the birth of my child?”
McCoy smiled widely. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he said. As he finished the massages, he covered Spock’s legs again and ran the scanner over him one more time.
“Have you been doing your exercises on the equipment?” he asked.
“Of course,” Spock answered.
“Well,” McCoy said. “Everything is looking really good. You’ll be walking soon, I promise.”
Spock nodded slowly. “I will look forward to that eventuality,” he said.
They both looked up as Sarek entered the room. His dark eyes assessed his son as he walked to the foot of the bed. “What is your condition, my son?” he asked.
“He’s doing well,” McCoy interjected. “Everything is progressing on schedule.”
Sarek turned to regard him silently then turned back to Spock. “And what is your assessment, Spock?” he asked.
“My strength is returning,” Spock answered, “and the pain is negligible.”
Sarek considered that. “And what of your joining?” he continued.
Spock sighed deeply. “My joining is waning,” he said, “slowly.”
Sarek studied him a moment. “You are troubled,” he observed.
Spock met his father’s intense gaze. “Yes,” he admitted.
Sarek waited patiently for his son to elaborate. When he didn’t continue, Sarek walked around the bed to stand beside him. “And what troubles you, Spock?” he prompted.
Spock closed his eyes in silent reflection before turning again to his father. “My lack of logic concerning my bondsmate,” he answered.
Sarek gave the smallest smile before composing his face again. “Logic with one’s bondsmate...and children... is often uncertain,” he said.
Spock raised an eyebrow in surprise at the statement. “Then it is not a temporary affliction?” he asked.
“Indeed, it is not,” Sarek answered. McCoy could almost believe he saw laughter in the dark eyes.
Spock sighed deeply as he raised both eyebrows. “Fascinating,” he said.
Sarek turned to the doctor. “Is he well enough to resume his duties?” he asked.
McCoy rubbed at his mouth as his eyes shifted away from Sarek’s intense look. “Well, technically, yes,” he said, “on a limited basis.”
Sarek turned to Spock with a questioning look. Spock met his gaze.
“The aforementioned lack of logic is an issue,” he said.
Sarek studied Spock a moment. “Doctor McCoy,” he finally said, “I would like for Spock to collaborate with me concerning the Derilian issue. Would this be permitted?”
“I’m sure it can be arranged,” McCoy answered. “I can have another computer brought in...”
“My stateroom will suffice as a work area,” Sarek interjected, “if Spock is permitted to leave sickbay.”
“Of course,” McCoy answered. “We have an anti-grav chair...”
“He will walk,” Sarek interrupted, drawing a surprised look from both Spock and McCoy. Sarek’s eyes assessed them both.
“If there is a medical reason why he cannot walk, then state it,” he said.
McCoy looked from one to the other. “Well, there’s still marked weakness..” he began.
“The remedy for weakness is exercise, is it not?” Sarek stated bluntly.
“Yes, of course,” McCoy answered. “He’s on a full exercise program as it is. But you can’t just will a man to walk before he’s ready!”
Sarek studied Spock a long moment. “He is ready,” he said simply.
“He is correct,” Spock said before McCoy could protest, “I must walk.”
McCoy moved closer to hover protectively over his patient. “Of course you will walk,” he said, “but you can’t just go traipsing all over the ship right out of the gate! It’s too far!”
“A short distance will suffice,” Sarek said. “Perhaps from the turbolift?”
McCoy rubbed his hand across his mouth again. “Yeah,” he said. “I suppose that would be ok.” He looked at Spock closely. “But you haven’t even stood unassisted yet,” he argued.
Spock slowly raised an eyebrow. “Actually, I have,” he said. McCoy shot him a shocked look.
“And?” the doctor prompted.
“And I was successful,” Spock answered.
“In not falling,” Spock said with a hint of amusement.
McCoy slowly shook his head. “Vulcans are the worst patients,” he grumbled, giving in to the inevitable. “Ok, but I’m going with you the first time or two, and you’ll need to use a cane for awhile.”
Both Vulcans bowed their heads in acceptance of his terms. McCoy muttered to himself before turning to Sarek again. “We’ll need to make arrangements for his work schedule,” he said.
“Of course,” Sarek answered. “Please advise me when you have the necessary permissions. If I am on the planet, my aids will attend you.”
McCoy nodded as Sarek turned his attention to Spock again. “Be well, my son,” he said, inclining his head . Spock bowed his head in acknowledgment as Sarek left the room.