Vulcan Vacation

Spock/McCoy by K'Chaps
justblackchaps @ yahoo.com
rated NC-17

Note: This is the sequel to Transporter Transformation, but they do stand alone.

McCoy looked around the red desert and sighed softly. It was awfully dry here. A vacation somewhere with a beach was one thing, but this was another.

"You are unhappy."

"I dislike being poked and prodded even more than you do." McCoy didn't look at him. "I'm also certain that your father is appalled."

"He showed no emotion." Spock put a gentle hand on him. "You are a fine choice."

"Right." McCoy laughed at himself. "You did get a nice place to live while we're here." It was true. The house was large and comfortable. "But where's the rest of the town?"

"I thought you might prefer to be isolated. This is my family's vacation home. I believe that's what you would call it. We came here often when I was a child." Spock squeezed McCoy's shoulder.

McCoy smiled. He should have guessed. "Let's get out of our uniforms. This is a vacation, after all."

"We have our first appointment in the morning."

McCoy went to find the bedroom with Spock right behind him. He peeled off his blue shirt and tossed it. Spock caught it effortlessly. McCoy grinned. "Is this that important to you?"

"Yes." Spock folded the shirt and stowed it away. "Are you getting completely nude?"

"I want a tan." McCoy couldn't resist teasing him. "Are we having company?"

"Not that I'm aware of."

McCoy hit Spock in the chest with his trousers. Spock's eyebrows came down and he moved fast--very fast. McCoy hit the bed hard, but it was a soft bed. The Vulcan on top of him growled softly. He did that occasionally. McCoy picked a spot and bit it. "You look angry."

Spock pinned him down and ripped off his shirts. "Vulcans do not get angry."

"Pissy, then." McCoy grabbed Spock's nipples and yanked them hard. "Very pissy."

"Irritating me is a thrill for you." Spock held McCoy's hands with one of his hands and moved his hips. "I am beginning to believe that you desire me to dominate you, even though you deny it."

McCoy glared up at him. "Think again. I'm having what's called 'a bit of fun teasing you' and nothing more."

Spock raised his eyebrow. "And you feel I'm incapable of teasing?"

McCoy realized that he'd been had, and he laughed. He struggled to free himself and managed it only because Spock allowed it, but that was fine. "Get your trousers off."

"Agreed. I prefer loose robes here. They are perfectly suited to the environment."

"I'm wearing shorts and a t-shirt." McCoy tugged and pulled. "I haven't seen you nekkid in days."

"Why do you persist in speaking in that manner?" Spock stretched out on the bed and looked perfectly composed. McCoy took the time to stare, even drool. He started at the bottom and worked his way up, with his tongue, but Spock didn't make a sound and that took some of the fun out of it.

McCoy sat back on his heels. "Why don't you humor me by groaning or something?"

Spock laced his hands behind his head. "If we were bonded, you would know whether I was enjoying myself."

"If you'd groan, I'd know, and no one would have to probe my brain!" McCoy got off the bed and went to the fresher. His cock was too hard to piss, but he could take a shower. He wanted sex--badly, but he wanted his partner to try to see this from his point of view. They'd talked, argued, and talked again. Spock wasn't budging on this point. He wanted a damn mind link between them--some type of bond. Stubborn Vulcan.

"Leonard, my mate, please do not pout."

McCoy bared his teeth at Spock. Some men would have called it a smile, but Spock was a Vulcan, and he knew the difference. "Please don't be an arrogant bastard."

"If you are going to curse at me, please use words that are appropriate." Spock turned on the sonic. "And do not insult my mother."

"Fine. I'm sorry." McCoy wished for water, but this was a desert world. He had a feeling that he was pouting now. It took only moments to scrape off the dirt under the sonic, and he left Spock in the fresher. The bed was comfortable, but this was a vacation, and he ordered a drink with an umbrella and went out onto the deck. The view was breathtaking, the drink was delicious, and his chair was perfect. He wanted to grumble.

Spock joined him, but he'd taken the time to don a robe. "There are numerous satellites that cross over this location."

"Do you think the sight of a naked human will cause chaos in the capital?" McCoy sipped his drink and tried to relax. Even though they were seeing at least three doctors, this was a vacation. Captain Kirk had given them two weeks, and every minute was to be savored.

"We have reached an agreement. After we speak to the doctors, we will make up our minds to the best course of action." Spock folded his hands and looked serene.

McCoy wanted to smack him. "You say that, but you've made up your mind already. My wishes don't matter."

"Your mind is also made up, and you have no consideration for my point of view. You are a very stubborn human." Spock took a deep breath. "The air here is pleasing to my lungs."

"It's dry as old bones." McCoy smiled. "So we're both stubborn. Did Jim tell you his opinion? He hedged with me."

"His one concern is the pon farr that I'm scheduled to have in approximately five years." Spock put his hand on McCoy's. "That's all he would say."

McCoy sighed and enjoyed the simple touch. They were rare and appreciated more because of it. "That's why I'm here, and we'll decide after we find out the facts. I'm just being cranky."

"Apparently." Spock shut his eyes. "I was beginning to think you had forgotten your Vulcan biology."

"Not for one damn minute." McCoy twirled his tiny umbrella and was glad he was in the shade. It was hot enough out here, and the air was decidedly thinner. He wouldn't be running anywhere. "Have you even worried that my constant demands for sex will trigger your pon farr?"

"No. That is illogical. The pon farr has nothing to do with sex," Spock said calmly. McCoy began laughing immediately, and it echoed out into the desert. Spock didn't laugh, of course. He looked like he was enjoying the weather. McCoy concentrated all his meager mind power on the hand covering his own.

//I always hear you//

McCoy bit his lip. This was hard. //You deserve a mate that is more than I am// The effort made a tiny bead of sweat roll down to his neck, or that could have been the heat. If Spock answered, McCoy didn't hear it. It was frustrating. McCoy knew he sounded like a whiner, but he honestly believed that when pon farr came, he wouldn't be enough to fulfill his side of the bargain. Spock's life would hang in the balance, and he would fail. The risk seemed too great to take, and yet, here he was. "I should have said no from the beginning."

Spock parted his robes and spread his legs. McCoy's eyes flicked right there. Was Spock trying to distract him? McCoy groaned softly as Spock's cock filled with blood. Spock controlled that, so he was changing the subject, and McCoy discovered that he didn't mind at all. They'd been ordered to relax, between appointments, and he was determined to do just that. "Let's give those satellites something to see."

********

McCoy woke up early the next morning, but not early enough. Spock was gone from the bed, and his side was cold. Was he nervous? Could Spock be nervous? McCoy went ahead and stretched. He could hear a strange noise, and he padded into the living room. "What's going on, Spock?"

"You will require clothes for our appointment today." Spock didn't turn from the computer.

"What's that noise?" McCoy smiled. He did need some clothes today.

"Vulcan is a planet that experiences sandstorms. One is currently over our location." Spock swiveled the chair to face him. "It will not impede us."

McCoy wondered about that, looking out the window into the chaos. "You drive."

Spock nodded. "I had intended to."

"You have no sense of humor." McCoy went to get dressed without listening for the answer. His uniform seemed the best choice. It would give him a sense of security. Vulcan doctors were nothing like Federation doctors, and he would admit to a lack of confidence. Not to Spock, but he probably knew already. McCoy tugged his blue tunic down and stiffened his spine. He would do this--for Spock, and for them.

********

Spock stood at the window and stared out at the sandstorm. It was disorder, and yet, it was beautifully arrayed pandemonium. It was also home. His mate was nervous, but it would pass. This was the right course of actions.

"Are we ready?"

Spock turned and smiled in his way. Someday, perhaps, his mate would see it. "I am. Are you?"

"Nothing could stop me." McCoy grinned. "So stop smiling, and let's go."

"Affirmative." Spock led the way towards the air car. It was possible that his mate understood more than was logical.

********

McCoy stared out the car window at the sandstorm. "You sure you can get us there?"

"That is illogical." Spock programmed in the coordinates. "And this is a mild storm."

"A mild one?" McCoy asked before thinking. He smiled ruefully. "Are you pulling this southern doctor's leg again?"

"No." Spock engaged the engines. McCoy made sure he was belted, not that he was anxious; Spock was the best pilot in the Federation. "There is no way to know that."

"You heard me?"

"I do occasionally." Spock paid strict attention to the controls, and McCoy thought that was a good idea. The wind buffeted them, the sand scoured them, and visibility was less than zero. The speed at which they traveled was more than fast enough for McCoy, but Spock commented, "I apologize for the slowness, but we have time to be cautious."

"This seems fast enough." McCoy put his hand on Spock's knee. It would give him something to hang onto if needed. There was no indication of where they were until suddenly they were out of it and approaching a city. McCoy loosened his grip. "That's a relief."

Spock gave him a look that told him that his doubts had been illogical, maybe even stupid. McCoy chuckled softly and enjoyed the sights. Spock delivered them, not to a hospital, but to what looked like a private residence. It was built low to the ground, all white, and it was big, but definitely not a hospital. When the engines were off, they got out and went inside together.

********

The mind healer concentrated. He didn't understand the desire for a Vulcan to bond with a human, but he would discover whether or not it was possible. The human's mind was unique, and it had dips and crevices that were unexpected. This one would find his own path through any sets of problems. The son of Sarek had a mind that was stronger than expected and more rigid. Choosing a human male for a mate was the act of a rebel, but his mind said otherwise. He would conform, in all ways.

********

Spock didn't react to the gentle touches he felt on his neural pathways. He had nothing to hide from this healer. Today was the beginning.

********

McCoy felt a trickle of sweat trace its way down his face. The healer was kind, polite, self-assured, and able to see everything. It was unnerving, to say the least.

********

The healer served tea to his guests. "Tell me again your desires."

Spock spoke first. "We wish to know if bonding is possible."

McCoy wouldn't argue with that. "Before there's trouble."

The healer nodded and sat precisely between the two men. "Spock, Vulcan men do not bond with other men. The bond is reserved for the mother of your children. Do you intend to abandon your blood line?"

McCoy thought that hit Spock right in the gut, but it was his question to answer. Spock didn't do any of the things a human would do--fidget, for instance. He spoke quietly. "I wish to bond with Leonard McCoy."

That was definitely avoiding the question. The healer turned his attention to McCoy. "I have had contact with several human minds, but yours is unique from the others. You will make a path where there is none, and yet, you do not desire this."

Spock's lips thinned and McCoy wanted to sink through the floor. "We are here to discover if it is possible, not discuss the motivations."

The healer kept his eyes on Spock. "I do not recommend it, but you will discover why on your own."

McCoy thought that was damn unhelpful. "Tell us why, and I want something more than mumbo jumbo."

Spock stood up. "Thank you for your efforts on our behalf. We are indebted to you." He gave a small bow. "Leonard, we are leaving."

"You are welcome, Spock, son of Sarek, and Leonard McCoy." The healer remained sitting. McCoy got up and kept his mouth shut. Spock was kissing ass, but McCoy was going to pass on it. He nodded and followed Spock out to the air car. Spock betrayed no emotion.

McCoy waited until the belt was around his mid-section before saying, "He insulted you."

"No, he didn't." Spock took the car out smartly.

"Sure sounded that way to me." McCoy shut up. He wanted to think about what the healer had said again. Vulcan society was a shuttered one. They simply had never allowed the Federation to publish papers about the inner workings of their way of life, and they had the muscle to back it up. "Wait a minute. Wait."

Spock glanced at him. "You wish me to stop?"

"Yes. Find us a place to eat. I'm starved." McCoy smiled. "Please."

"You should have eaten before we left, but I will do so." Spock maneuvered through the city easily. McCoy didn't answer the mild rebuke. Spock was upset--in his own way. He would say that hope was an emotion, but McCoy knew Spock had hoped for an affirmation that would lead to bonding over the next two weeks.

The cafŽ was open air, but in the shade, and McCoy took a breath and let it out slowly. He wasn't having trouble breathing, not yet. "Will you order for us both? You know what I like."

"The menu can be switched to Federation Standard." Spock was more intent on the computer than was necessary--his way of avoiding his disappointment. "But yes, I will."

"Thank you." McCoy watched the people in their long robes. Conversation was muted, and the music was soft. "Nice place."

"This is a popular spot. I apologize for the noise."

McCoy smiled. Spock was completely serious. "Spock, this place is quiet. Remember that place in New Orleans that I took you to?"

Spock nodded. "Perhaps you are correct. I feared for my hearing that evening. For us, this place is noisy."

"Can we discuss what he said here, or would you rather wait until we get home?" McCoy was glad to see their drinks materialize. He was thirsty.

"There is nothing to discuss, as of yet. We have two more appointments." Spock took his drink. "The replicator on the ship never gets the flavor correct on this drink."

Classic avoidance behavior and McCoy was tempted to allow it, but he was curious about one thing in particular, and it wasn't personal. "Is there no homosexual population among your people?"

Spock put his drink down. His face was calm. "Not as such."

"In other words, you're not going to tell me."

"Correct. Not here."

McCoy quit trying. They'd talk at home--at length. Right now, he was hungry.

********

Spock controlled his emotions tightly. They were in public. The healer had said almost the exact same words as his father had upon their arrival here. To abandon his bloodline was to abandon his life. It wasn't possible. The rigors of their society demanded he take a wife, and he was willing to do that, but there must be a place, a bond, that he could share with McCoy. There had to be. Logic dictated that there were several answers to this problem, not just one. Some answers were more correct than others were, but each one was valid in its own way.

"What do Vulcans do for fun?"

Spock raised his eyebrow at the question. "Meditate."

McCoy laughed, and several heads turned to watch. Spock saw the disdain clearly, but they didn't understand. McCoy leaned closer. "Yep, great crowd."

"Humans usually stay at the Federation Center." Spock always enjoyed McCoy's quick perception and insight. "You are an anomaly."

"I always wanted to be one." McCoy grinned and picked up his drink. His blue eyes seemed to shine today. The food arrived, and he began to eat. Spock ate sparingly. He noticed again the stiff backs of the people around them. This 'vacation' would not be.

********

McCoy liked Vulcan food. It did lack certain proteins that he needed, but overall the flavors and textures were pleasing. Spock was like that. He was pleasing, but he lacked the ability to give McCoy a straight answer on any number of topics. There had always been a lack of communication between them, and some days it was worse than others. Oh, they had lots to say, well, he did, but the words didn't convey the meanings. It was frustrating.

"On to our next stop?"

"Yes." Spock paid the bill with his Federation card. They went back to the air car, and McCoy drew up a plan for their next encounter. He was done being passive. There were answers here that he needed, and he was going to get them.

********

The healer raised his hand and laid it gently on the human's face. The texture of the skin wasn't familiar and the cacophony of emotions was nearly overwhelming.

"You look nauseous. I've seen it before on a Vulcan," the human said. "Why don't you take a minute and breathe deeply?"

"That is logical." The healer pulled his hand away slowly, as not to insult. He didn't understand why he was doing this. "May we speak a moment?"

"You tell me." The human laughed softly. "My name is Leonard McCoy, and you?"

The healer realized that McCoy was uncomfortable with the absence of introductions. It wasn't necessary because he would know all as soon as a meld was formed, but it would not hurt. "My name is Karak."

"Nice to meet you." McCoy took a deep breath. "I'm a physician."

Karak showed no hint of his surprise. "If you are a physician, why are you and the son of Sarek here?"

"The risk of forming an emotional bond between two people isn't my specialty." McCoy moved his body away, but not all that much. It was an insult, but he was human. "If only males and females form bonds on Vulcan, why am I here?"

"Because Spock asked it." Karak saw the keen mind behind the question. "Logically, there is no reason for males to form bonds. There is no offspring. A bonded pair is more likely to have healthy children that survive to adulthood. Males that form attachments know this."

"Does Spock?"

"It is the only assumption that is logical. The human brain should be able to form the bond, but I am uncertain of the long-term results." Karak moved to his computer, retrieved a report, and handed it to the human. "Study this. It will help you choose."

"Finally, a Vulcan who will talk to me." McCoy smiled. "I believe, from all my research, that when Spock enters pon farr, he will seek a wife."

Karak sat back down and poured a cool beverage for each of them. "It is the most logical scenario. Any bond he forms with you will remain in place."

"Or be broken instantly."

"That is probable." Karak rubbed his fingertips with his thumb. "May I? For a brief moment?"

McCoy nodded. "Don't rummage."

Karak didn't understand that, and he placed his fingers on the meld points again. This time, he was prepared, and he slipped in and out quickly. He picked up his drink and sipped it, focusing only on the flavor. It helped him clear away the emotions.

"Well?"

"You are extremely strong-willed." Karak allowed himself another moment.

"You don't advise it?"

"Vulcans form many different type of attachments." Karak watched McCoy drink his tea. The human didn't like it, but was too polite not to drink. Interesting. "Let me get you another report to look over. It details bonds now and historically, unless Spock has told you this."

"Spock? He's as quiet as a clam." McCoy took the report and cradled it reverently. "I am in your debt."

The honest emotion was easy to read. Karak bowed his head. "As such, I'm certain you will allow the bloodline of the house of Sarek to continue."

********

McCoy tucked the two reports in his pocket and waited for Spock. This meeting had actually gone well. Information would give him the ability to make the right choice. Spock was too close-mouthed.

The door opened, and Spock emerged. "I am ready to depart."

"What did he say to you?"

"Nothing that I hadn't heard before." Spock began walking, and McCoy fell into step besides him. "It is possible that I made a mistake coming here."

"You never make mistakes," McCoy said lightly. He reached with two fingers and tapped the back of Spock's hand. It was as intimate as a kiss. "Let's go to our vacation hideaway. We can talk."

"There is another healer."

"Cancel." McCoy looked Spock right in the eye to make sure he understood. "I've had enough for one day."

Spock nodded and opened the door to the air car. "It can be taxing. We will go home."

McCoy liked it when they didn't argue, but arguing could be fun too. "Let's fuck when we get there."

"Your language doesn't shock me."

"Not any longer." McCoy squeezed Spock's knee. "I meant it."

"Good."

********

Karak made his report to T'Pau. She wanted to know the details, and as family was entitled. "I don't believe they will bond as mates do. The human won't allow it."

"I have met him. He has courage and acts on it." T'Pau nodded. "Spock is young. He will make different choices when he has matured."

"Perhaps. He is determined to find a way to have both." Karak didn't understand why.

"Impossible and he knows it in his blood. It will tell." T'Pau nodded. "If they ask for you, be available."

"Of course." Karak gave a small bow to his aunt. Her image was gone, and he went back to his meditations.

********

Spock disliked his emotions. And of all of them, he disliked frustration the most. Vulcans did not pace, fidget, or complain. He watched his mate place two reports on the desk.

"Karak gave me some reading material. I'll get to it as soon as I'm through with you." McCoy pulled his shirt off. "I know you're upset, but let's take this one step at a time."

"Vulcans don't get upset."

"You're Spock. You get upset. It's okay." McCoy grinned. "Hypothetical question: if you were going to dominate me, how would you do it?"

"I have given the matter no thought." Spock opened his robe and allowed his genitalia to fill with blood. "Should it involve restraints?"

"Yes, and gags." McCoy was nude, and he stretched. "You could finally get some quiet."

"That is an attractive offer." Spock refused to throw his robe down, so he went to their bedroom to hang it up. "But I don't require a gag to ensure your silence. I can accomplish it easily."

McCoy sat on the edge of the bed. "I'm hooked. How?"

Spock felt his frustration drain away.

********

McCoy chuckled softly into the silence of the room. Spock had gone elsewhere, claiming he had things to do. McCoy groaned softly and cupped himself. The method for shutting him up had been fun for both of them. Reluctantly, he slipped on a pair of shorts and went out to the computer. He did want to start reading.

"Excuse me, those are mine."

Spock raised his head. "No off-worlder has ever been privy to this information."

McCoy bristled. "Karak told me to read them. He has faith in my discretion."

"I don't believe this information is relevant to our decision." Spock crossed his arms and swiveled in the chair. "Perhaps you shouldn't bother."

"That's not going to work, mister. If Karak thought it was relevant, it is." McCoy was more curious than ever. If Spock didn't want him to read it, it must be good. "Shall I call him and ask?"

Spock stood up. "I was merely attempting to save you time."

"I bet. Go mow the lawn. I'm going to go through this stuff." McCoy claimed the chair and gave Spock a nudge. He could sense Spock's irritation, but didn't care. "Or build us a swimming pool."

"Your humor falls on deaf ears."

"Right." McCoy started at the beginning and began to read. He ignored Spock, and he was aware that his mouth fell open immediately. No wonder they never let this stuff out for public knowledge. "I gotta get something to drink--something with alcohol."

There was no answer. McCoy didn't worry. He got his drink and went back to reading.

********

Spock swept the sand from the deck. There was a machine to do it, but this was more satisfying. It had been his chore as a child. The knowledge on those discs would change all his plans. Karak would not have given them out without the permission of T'Pau. She wanted McCoy to know the truth. It was regrettable, but coming here had contained that risk. She always got her way.

********

McCoy didn't come up for air until hours later. He pulled out the disc and tossed it in his hand.

"Are you finished?"

"I may have to look it over again." McCoy put it down and stood up to stretch. "Where's the pool?"

"Let's have dinner before you overlook the construction site." Spock crossed his arms, and McCoy grinned at him. "What is your initial reaction?"

McCoy tried to find one word that would sum it all up. "Wow!" He laughed and went to Spock. "Let me think about it. Did you cook?"

"Yes." Spock almost touched him, and then his hand fell away. "Are you angry?"

"I haven't decided yet, but you'll be the first to know." McCoy scrubbed a quick hand through his hair. He and Spock walked together to the kitchen, but they didn't touch. McCoy could smell the food, and his stomach grumbled. "Your father was the first to take a human for a mate?"

"As a mate, yes." Spock handed McCoy a plate. "The b'kow is spicy."

"Which one is that?"

"Information is critical, isn't it?"

McCoy laughed at Spock's smug expression. "I'm not angry with you. If you had told me all that stuff, I probably wouldn't have believed you, and anyway, I'm sure some of it was new to you."

"You are correct. My studies never veered into that particular area of our history." Spock took his plate to the table, and McCoy studied the choices a bit longer before giving up and taking a sample of everything. He liked spicy food. They sat together and ate in companionable silence. McCoy had plenty to think about, and Spock was never a talker.

"You did promise to tell me about homosexuality in your culture. That information wasn't on the discs." McCoy swallowed his next bite quickly. It burned up his esophagus on the way down. He took a deep breath, felt tears break out, and he grabbed some bread. "Spicy is an understatement," he choked.

"The taste is mild compared to some dishes." Spock looked pleased. "Because of the pon farr, homosexuality, as you know it, doesn't exist here. A Vulcan male can do as he likes until the pon farr comes. At that point, he will find a mate. Some males continue to have relationships with other males. I have even known cases of three living together."

"In harmony?"

"Apparently." Spock scooped up a small bit of b'kow and held it out for McCoy. "This time, hold it in your mouth."

"Until the top of my head blows off?" McCoy shook his head, but opened his mouth. The flavor was intense, and then separated, becoming hot and mild. With a burst, the flavors were gone, and he swallowed. The entire experience made his eyes water, and he gasped, "That was just like you."

"I knew you would understand." Spock smiled in his way. "Men do not form bonds, but that doesn't mean they can't. It only means they don't. My life is not here."

McCoy didn't answer. He ate his food and enjoyed his b'kow. He was grateful for the bread. Spock finally laid two fingers upon him. McCoy looked at him. "It's not that simple. You know it."

Spock bowed his head. McCoy gave him a pat on the hand, cleared the table, and put the dishes in the washer. Spock began to help. "Do you truly desire to go swimming?"

"Yes." McCoy smiled. "Did you build a pool?"

"No, but there is an underground cavern not far from here that is a popular place."

"Now that's a vacation!" McCoy wrapped his arm around Spock and squeezed. "Will it be noisy?"

"Yes, but I will suffer for you."

"There is absolutely nothing worse than a martyr." McCoy pointed at the leftovers. There wasn't much. "Save or throw?"

Spock put the leftovers in a container and stored them away. "You should wear a robe to the cavern."

"And my swimsuit?"

"That's not necessary."

McCoy understood, after a minute. "I like this planet."

********

Spock watched his mate attempt not to stare. Mostly, he was succeeding, but occasionally, he failed miserably. "It is beautiful."

"Gorgeous. Why don't you all live down in these places?" McCoy felt the moisture hit his lungs. It felt good.

"We choose not to. These places are rare, and as such, must be protected." Spock hung his robe on one of the hooks provided. McCoy gave him a long look before removing his own robe. Spock helped him out of his. "Please try not to have an erection."

McCoy laughed. "No guarantees. I'm an anomaly. I can get away with it."

Spock decided the best course was to get him in the water sooner rather than later. He led the way to a pool and sat on the edge. McCoy jumped right in and ducked under. Spock slid down into the water. It was cool, but not cold.

"This is great." McCoy came up and sputtered. "Can we stay here?"

"There are no lodgings." Spock refused to wet his head. "When your erection is down, I will show you the waterfall."

"How'd you know?" McCoy lay back in the water. "Give me a minute."

Spock waited until McCoy was in control and then got out. "Follow me." McCoy nodded and scrambled out. He let out of gasp of appreciation when they stepped out into the largest cavern. Spock nodded. It was impressive. "Throughout history, much blood was shed in an effort to control this place."

"I can well imagine." McCoy glanced around. Spock surveyed the crowd. There were more males here than females. Vulcans never stared, and yet there were many assessing looks. McCoy went to the water's edge. "Crocodiles?"

Spock raised his eyebrow. "It is safe." And McCoy dived in, gone from sight. There was no reason to worry. McCoy was an expert swimmer, and Spock went to get a beverage. He'd sit on the edge and watch.

********

McCoy explored the caverns completely. The water was dark, but in spots, there were shelves to sit or lay on. There also were plenty of young Vulcans lounging about, and a few meditating. At one point, an entire horde of Vulcan children swam past him, racing. He hated to admit it, but they were adorable, and there was no way he would ever deny Spock that joy. It was Spock's genetic destiny. His Joanna was grown and a successful woman and Spock deserved to have children also. And if all the research he'd read today was true, there was no way to stop it from happening. He pushed himself up on a shelf and sat quietly, watching.

Spock swam effortlessly through the water and joined him. "What are you thinking?"

McCoy smiled. "That those children are cute as buttons."

"Most offspring is."

"Klingons aren't." McCoy put a wet hand on Spock's thigh. "Do you still have a bond with your mother?"

Spock lowered his head. "We are in public."

"No one is around." McCoy double-checked. "But we can swim some place more isolated, if you want."

"Follow me." Spock slipped into the water, and McCoy dived after him. They swam to the far reaches of the cavern, where the light was dim and the water very dark. Spock pulled up onto a shelf and sat. McCoy joined him. "Are you fatigued?"

"You think so little of my human muscles." McCoy grinned and shook the water from his hair. "Is this private enough?"

"Sound carries well over water." Spock slicked some water off his face. "Yes. There are the remnants of a bond. I lay under her heart for seven months. How could there not be?"

"Interesting question. Close your eyes." McCoy waited while Spock did it. "Tell me where she is."

Spock grew very still. His breathing deepened, and he spoke softly. "She's sitting down to a meal with Father."

"Is she happy?"

"Yes." Spock opened his eyes. "Why is this of interest to you?"

"Spock, you know what you want is impossible. I can't give you children." McCoy shrugged. "I would if I could, but I can't, so forget it. You will find a mate. It's what Vulcans do."

"I'm half-Vulcan." Spock gave him a weak glare.

"That half isn't going to have a say in this." McCoy hated this conversation, but he'd always known what they had was fleeting. "You can argue with your hormones all you like, but it won't make any difference. If you want to bond with me, you will have to make another choice. I know that now."

"We will not discuss this here." Spock dropped off the ledge and swam away.

McCoy sighed and sat a while longer. He wasn't completely sure how he felt about this either, and he wanted to read everything again. But they were going to have to talk, whether Spock liked it or not. McCoy eased into the water and leisurely began the trip back. On the way, he saw a young Vulcan sitting on a ledge and paused because of the creature sitting next to the boy.

"Hello, young man. What sort of animal is that?"

The Vulcan lad sat up straight. "He's my che'nay. My first bonded pet. He likes to swim."

"I can see that. I bet you're proud of him." McCoy smiled.

"You're human. I haven't ever met a human." The boy was so very serious.

"Well, you have now. My name is Dr. Leonard McCoy. I'm the Chief Medical Officer of the starship Enterprise." McCoy knew the lad wouldn't shake hands, but he held out his palm. "It's nice to meet you."

The boy looked at the hand. "My name is K'Dar. I am pleased to make your acquaintance. No one at school is going to believe this. You're stationed on the Enterprise?"

"Indeed I am. Captain Kirk is my friend." McCoy grinned.

"Commander Spock is a legend here. He's saved the Enterprise ten times!" The boy's face was bright with enthusiasm, if not emotion. "We study him at school."

"He's a great commander and a friend of mine." McCoy blinked in astonishment, but it was true, maybe not ten times, but more than once. "Tell me about your che'nay and the bond, please."

********

Spock knew that merely abandoning the topic wouldn't make it go away. McCoy had the information and now the bargaining would begin. Spock dived down deep and held his breath as long as possible before erupting up. He would accept nothing less than a full bond. Anything else was an insult.

********

McCoy didn't quit the water until he was feeling like a prune. He managed to get a drink and find a place to sit, with a towel over his lap. It seemed prudent. Spock was speaking with a number of people across the cavern. McCoy had absolutely no desire to walk over there and ruin his day. It was almost over, and it had been a mixed bag of fun and problems. The young boy, K'Dar, was someone to remember.

"Are you ready to return home?"

McCoy stayed where he was. "Join me. I'm enjoying the people."

"If that is your desire." Spock sounded like a robot. He was pissy again. McCoy controlled his laughter and sipped his drink. It was good--fruity. Spock wouldn't look at him. "The towel was a good idea."

"I thought so." McCoy smiled. "Tell me, is it annoying to be a legend?"

"Extremely." Spock sighed softly.

"You're a good role model, and I'm sure there are Vulcan cadets at Star Fleet Academy because of you."

"Yes, and the Elders would prefer they return home." Spock left him and returned with a drink and a towel. "The way of the warrior is not the way of the Vulcan."

"Star Fleet is about discovery and inclusion, not violence." McCoy smiled. "That's a hard sell, isn't it?"

"Indeed. Are you ready to return?" Spock toweled his hair dry. McCoy nodded. He was ready. This had been a busy day, and he needed some time to let it all settle out. The trip to Spock's home was quick, and they fixed a few snacks. Swimming always made a person hungry. The sun was dropping below the horizon, and McCoy went out on the deck to watch the sunset. Spock didn't join him, but he was sulking as only a Vulcan can. And that was no reason to miss a beautiful end to the day.

********

Spock sat in front of the computer and read the information more thoroughly. He'd only flipped through it this morning, and McCoy had interrupted him before the end. All this information was accurate, and the report was thorough. Karak had cautioned him strongly against attempting a full mating bond. If the pon farr shattered it, McCoy could be left with very little intellect. Was it worth the risk?

********

McCoy snuggled back under the covers. "I'm not going to any more doctors."

"Leonard, please be reasonable."

"No." McCoy refused to leave the warmth of the bed for no good reason. "Karak is the best. Forget it."

Spock's weight made the bed dip. "You know I want this."

McCoy gave up. No more dozing, he'd start the morning with a headache. He sat up and growled, "You want the impossible."

"I refuse to quit searching for the answer." Spock reached and touched him gently on the arm. "Leonard."

"I'll get up. We'll discuss it some more." McCoy yawned and went to piss. Spock was relentless, and it was pointless. Couldn't he just enjoy the time they had? "What's the weather like?"

There was no answer. McCoy hoped Spock wasn't starting the air car, because they weren't going. He dressed in shorts and a casual shirt and wandered around the house until he found Spock in the garage. "What are you doing?"

"Making sure the air car is ready." Spock shut and sealed the metal hood. "Are you ready?"

"Spock, God help me, I love you, but I'm not going. It's embarrassing, demeaning, and pointless. We need to talk instead of avoid each other, and you need to face facts!" McCoy regretted raising his voice instantly. Spock would never listen now.

"Leonard--"

"No!" McCoy went ahead and lost his temper. "You kept the truth from me, I jumped through your hoops yesterday, but I am finished! You should be damn grateful for what we have and not aching for some bond that could destroy us!"

Spock stood very straight. "Gratitude is an emotion, and I ache for nothing."

McCoy threw up his hands. Stubborn Vulcan. "Good! Because you aren't getting it! Not from this southern boy!" And he stormed off towards the kitchen to find some breakfast. His blood sugar was low and it always made him cranky. Pointy-eared computer needed a reality check, and who'd have ever guessed that could happen? It was ridiculous.

********

Spock found he had no words for the man he wanted to call his mate, so he did the only logical thing. He went home to his mother. She would have answers.

"Spock!"

"Mother." Spock allowed her to hug him, and he felt their bond respond to the contact. "I seem to have made Leonard very angry."

"Hiding out and hoping for breakfast?" Amanda smiled at him. "You can be very annoying."

"All great Vulcans are annoying, or so my father once said to you." Spock found a seat at the kitchen table. "Where is Father?"

"City Council. It consumes his time when he's home." Amanda poured him a cool beverage and brought it to him. "Leonard is at our desert home?"

"Yes." Spock watched her cook. The rhythms were soothing.

"Did you go to the healers?"

"Two of them. He refuses to see another." Spock frowned. "I don't understand his anger."

Amanda brought him a plate of food and joined him. "When your father wanted to bond with me, I saw six. It didn't make any difference after two. They didn't recommend it. I was too fragile. Pon farr would kill me." Amanda rolled her eyes. "Leonard may be correct."

"Karak had concerns that were valid." Spock ate efficiently. It was good, of course.

"I know you hoped that you wouldn't pon farr. Your father knew better, that's why he bonded you to T'Pring." Amanda shrugged. "I was against it."

Spock wondered what his father would think of this candid conversation. Illogical, to say the least. "I don't want a wife."

Amanda sighed and put her hand on his. "I know, but you will seek a mate to procreate your species. It's who you are. A man won't satisfy you. Leonard is one of the best physicians in the galaxy. He has to know that."

"He does." Spock shut his eyes for a moment. His mother spoke candidly. "I thought to honor him, but he pushes it away."

"Spock, I'm surprised at this." Amanda's eyes flashed. "You're endangering him for your pride. Your pride. Do you love him so little?"

Spock shut his mouth firmly.

"I know these are harsh words from your mother, but Leonard has a life also. You must honor it, not try to change him." Amanda patted his hand. "I have ice cream."

"Thank you." Spock thought about her words on three different levels while she dipped the ice cream. "Most humans don't have ice cream for breakfast."

"Isn't that ridiculous? Breakfast is the best time." Amanda laughed. "That way, I can work off the calories."

Spock smiled in his way. His mother was a logical woman, and she was right about many things.

********

McCoy ate his breakfast and watched the news. He also scrolled through the information on bonds one more time. There were three basic ones: parents, pet, and wife, and each was covered in detail, but historically there had a fourth--a darker one. It was from the time before Surak, when warriors took what they wanted. It was called the slave bond. Apparently, it cut down on escapes. McCoy didn't pretend to understand it, but the warrior would establish it with a slave of his choice and have someone at his beck and call, except that he never had to talk. The slave got the message from the link. It was awful, but interesting. The pet bond was nothing more than emotions and simple desires. K'Dar had trained his pet to do several tasks. The important thing was--these links survived pon farr and the taking of a mate.

Spock had to talk to him. This wasn't a time for pride. If Spock wanted a bond, he had two to choose from, assuming he could do it. McCoy had no doubt that Spock could. His mind was like a steel trap. And anyway, no one had to know, except Jim Kirk, and he'd never tell.

McCoy took care of his dishes and sighed. He shouldn't have lost his temper, and it wouldn't have killed him to see one more doctor. Damn. He meandered out to the garage and blinked in surprise. Spock was gone. McCoy groaned and went back inside and out on the deck to enjoy the morning. Now, he was in real trouble, and there was no telling what he'd have to do to get back in Spock's good graces.

"Dr. McCoy?"

McCoy whipped around. "Sarek! You gave me a fright."

"I rang, but there was no answer." Sarek moved onto the deck, shutting the door behind him. "I apologize."

"No reason. It's your house." McCoy smiled. "Thank you for letting us stay here. It's lovely."

"You are welcome to my home." Sarek nodded. "Have you been to the cavern yet?"

"Yesterday. That's the best kept secret in the galaxy."

"Yes, and we'd prefer it remain that way." Sarek spoke firmly, and McCoy got the message. No blabbing about it when they got back to the Enterprise. Sarek made a gesture. "The desert is lovely also."

"The sunset last night was gorgeous." McCoy wondered if Sarek was going to come to the point, or if that was the point. "Spock's not here."

"No. He is with his mother. No doubt they are having ice cream for breakfast again." Sarek raised his eyebrow. "What will your decision be?"

McCoy looked out at the red desert. Sarek was a diplomat, but this was his bloodline--his life, and he was blunt. McCoy shrugged. "I met a young boy yesterday. His name was K'Dar."

"Did he remind you of a young Spock?"

"No." McCoy licked his lips. It was almost time for another drink. "He had a pet che'nay. Spock and I do have choices that will allow him to fulfill his promise to his people."

Sarek made a noise that was indescribable. "That path is beneath you."

"Are some bonds worth more than others? Is the bond Spock has with his mother more valuable than the one he will have with a wife?" McCoy turned and faced Sarek squarely. "You have nothing to worry about here."

Sarek narrowed his eyes. "My concern was that you would die from the psychic backlash from Spock's pon farr when his body cries out to mate and pass on his genetic heritage."

McCoy felt a drip of shame trace down his neck. It was sweat, but it was shame. "I apologize."

"Whichever path Spock chooses, he must ask permission from T'Pau first." Sarek's dark eyes smoldered. "She will decide what is best."

"Best? Or easiest?" McCoy had dealt with her before and had his doubts about her motives. "Is pon farr about sex?"

Sarek shook his head vigorously. "That is an insult of the highest order. Pon farr is when we fulfill our commitment to our planet and our people."

"I must apologize again." McCoy smiled. "If you guys would publish a paper or two, we humans might know these things."

"That will never happen. I must leave. I have business in town." Sarek raised his hand. "Live long and prosper. And help my son make the wisest choice."

"I'll do my best." McCoy watched him leave, stared out at the desert for a few minutes, and then went to get a drink in the coolness of the house. Ice cream for breakfast?

********

"How was your ice cream, Wife?"

"Delicious, as always. Your son is much like his father."

"Except in his choice of a mate." Sarek sat down and folded his robes precisely. "It is illogical to choose a male."

"Your choice was also deemed illogical. The heart doesn't always follow the dictates of logic." Amanda wiped her hands on a towel. "He has lived among humans for so long that he thinks he has their choices. It's very sad."

Sarek made a small gesture. "Is there any ice cream left for your mate?"

"Always." Amanda laughed softly.

*********

McCoy heard the soft footfall of his Vulcan friend. "Hey, Spock."

Spock stood over him. "You have my apology."

"What for? I figured I'd be the one apologizing. It wouldn't have killed me to see another doctor or two." McCoy smiled. "Sit down with me."

"Thank you." Spock sat down on the sofa right next to him. "I went to see my mother."

"I heard." McCoy put two careful fingers on his Spock. "Sarek was here. He's concerned, to say the least."

"If I didn't believe in random occurrences, I would think my parents had a plan."

"Divide and conquer?" McCoy shrugged. "Are you ready to talk?"

"We have done little else, but it has been remarkably unproductive." Spock sighed softly.

McCoy could only agree with that. "Any bond would be better than none." It was a large concession for him. He didn't see the need for any bond at all, but it was important to Spock.

"You are not a sehlat," Spock said softly. "Won't you feel the insult?"

"Spock, how can I be insulted by you wanting to be with me always? No matter how we get it done. If I were a Vulcan male, this risk might be worth taking, but I'm not, and we shouldn't." McCoy smiled and kissed him gently. "It's your decision. I'm happy with no bond."

Spock stood up. McCoy thought for an instant that Spock might pace, but he didn't. He took off his robe, and McCoy's cock was hard moments later. Spock pulled him up and took him to bed.

********

Spock wanted to go slow and be gentle, but he also wanted to possess. He could feel McCoy's passion, and he wasn't afraid. Spock captured, thrust, and let down his barriers. He had to have something of this man to carry with him through the dark times when he would be forced to take a wife. Something. Anything.

********

T'Pau analyzed the trends. Spock was causing ripples in the fabric of their society. Already, enrollment was up at Star Fleet, and now, young men would begin to question the mating bond. This must come to an end.

"Do you think they will attempt it?"

"No." T'Pau didn't glance at her first daughter and successor. "The human won't take the risk. He is a physician. Our population can not afford the renewal of male bonding."

First daughter bowed her head in agreement.

"Summon them. I will know their decision." T'Pau clapped her hands twice. "The son of Sarek has caused enough rebellion for one generation."

********

McCoy sprawled across Spock's chest and relaxed. "I should make you angry more often."

"I was never angry." Spock ran his hand down McCoy's body and made him gasp. "Did you think I was dominating you?"

"You were forceful. I enjoyed it. Get over it." McCoy found a nipple and twisted it. "You were like b'kow."

Spock felt a small sense of relief. "Good. Which bond would you choose with the knowledge you have?"

"Honestly, what the report called 'the slave bond' is interesting. I don't think the pet bond would be enough to satisfy you." McCoy found some green skin to kiss and fondle.

"The report was incomplete in regards to that. The bond may be nothing more than a way to send messages."

McCoy kissed down lower. He loved the skin along Spock's hipbones. "It may be just the thing for us. You love ordering me around, and I love saying no." He laughed and licked some more.

"We need information to make an informed choice." Spock sat up, and McCoy glared at him. "I will begin--"

"Lie down and shut up. I'm not finished here!" McCoy gave him an ineffectual push. "Now!"

Spock lay back down and mumbled something in Vulcan. McCoy didn't care as long as he got his way.

********

"We have been invited to dinner at T'Pau's."

"Let's skip it." McCoy looked over his shoulder. "Meddling old woman."

Spock's silence was more condemning than harsh words.

"Oh, okay. You have no sense of humor." McCoy smiled. "What should I wear?"

"Exactly what I tell you to." Spock put a gentle hand on McCoy's face. //You are trying my patience//

//I'm on vacation// McCoy managed before dropping out. He stood up and laughed. "Alright, I'm game."

Spock caressed his lover's face before kissing him. This relationship had always been fraught with difficulties, but tonight they would face the worst of it. T'Pau would have her way. She always did.

********

McCoy smoothed his hair and licked his lips nervously. All jokes aside, dinner was going to be awful. T'Pau had the power to order Spock to abandon him, and she might do it for fun.

"Are you ready?"

"No." McCoy tugged his collar. "But the sooner we get in, the sooner we get back to our vacation."

"Interesting way to view this." Spock rang for entrance. "I won't insult you by asking you to measure your words."

McCoy loved the way Spock managed to tell him what to do without asking. "I'll be quiet as a mouse." He doubted it, but it might happen. Spock looked skeptical, and the door opened. They went inside together, and McCoy sincerely hoped they came out the same way.

********

T'Pau followed the traditions strictly and was cautiously pleased that Spock knew them. The human did not, but he managed not to offend. She wanted to hear their words before she told them what they would do.

********

McCoy thought the evening wasn't going as badly as it could have been. Spock could have been carved from stone, but that was no surprise.

"McCoy of Earth, what is your desire in this matter of bonding?"

The talk had been of family, weather, and politics, and T'Pau changed it without warning. McCoy chose his words carefully. "A mating bond isn't possible."

"You are wise. Males may not bond in that manner." T'Pau nodded and turned her attention to Spock. "Son of Sarek, what will you do?"

"I would ask your counsel. What is a slave bond, and can I achieve it with him?"

T'Pau said nothing, and McCoy figured she was speechless with shock. Spock merely waited, sipping his tea. McCoy wanted to tap his fingers, but it was rude. He counted his breaths instead. When he reached fifteen, she spoke. "McCoy is not of a malleable mind. He would find it harsh."

McCoy wondered how she knew, and if she'd spoken to Karak. "Is it so stifling?"

"Some find it as one would a blanket against the cold. Others find it bitter and painful as chains in the winter." T'Pau stared at him. "It is not spoken of, but it is still in use."

Spock's astonishment was easy to see. He spoke rapidly in Vulcan, and she answered him. McCoy watched their faces and decided he was well out of this. It wasn't his planet. When the conversation switched back to English, she said, "I can place my hand on your face and tell you if the bond will hurt you."

Spock stood up. "It is not an option. We will not bond in any manner."

McCoy regretted missing the conversation now. T'Pau folded her hands. "Are you leaving, McCoy?"

"No. Spock, please sit down." McCoy sipped his coffee as if he had no concerns. "You are serving her purpose."

Spock pursed his lips and sat. She nodded. "Has Spock ever told you what your name means in our language?"

"No." McCoy smiled at her. She was too comfortable in her power. "Let me guess--lizard spit?"

T'Pau's wrinkles deepened. "Mah koy means 'one with the sand.' It is an uncommon name."

"I was right." McCoy chuckled. He was gritty and irritating like sand. Spock must have found that amusing over the years. T'Pau was waiting. She had them. She knew it. McCoy stood and went over to her. He squeezed Spock's shoulder in passing. She was small, even in her chair, and McCoy knelt. She would never rise for him. The stone was cold against his knees, and he could hear every breath Spock took. Impulsively, McCoy fumbled for Spock's hand. When their hands clasped, he felt much better about this. T'Pau didn't rush. She loved the drama. Her hand paused and finally molded itself to his face.

********

//He gave me permission//

//Do not injure him//

//You insult//

Spock lowered his head in apology. He could feel McCoy's frustration at the conversation going on in his head.

//The bond points are here, here, and here//

//I will not//

//The harshness or gentleness of the bond is in your power// T'Pau's eyes bored into him. //He will not fight it//

//I find that hard to believe//

//Look//

Spock followed her, and he saw it all.

********

McCoy got up off his knees the instant T'Pau's hand left his face. His face burned hot with embarrassment. Of all the things he'd done for this relationship, this was the worse. He felt violated, and he'd agreed to it. Spock still had hold of him, and he wrenched his hand away. There were no words. He considered his chair, but it was impossible, and he left them there at the table.

"Leonard!"

McCoy slammed the door and went out into the dark. He knew where the air car was, but he wasn't riding back with Spock.

********

Spock followed the traditions before taking his leave. "Thank you."

"You have my blessing in that bond, but only that one." T'Pau nodded. "Do not insult our culture--not again."

"Thank you." Spock bowed and went out into the night. He had never insulted, but he accepted the reprimand. The air car was empty, and Spock immediately engaged the engines and turned on the on-board sensors. The desert was dangerous at night.

********

McCoy walked until he noticed that he was too far away. He wasn't worried. Spock would show up and scold him soon. There was a large flat rock, and McCoy sank down on it. Walking off was foolish and childish, but his anger had forced him out here. So, he'd sit for a minute. He scuffed the sand with his boots and growled, "One with the sand, huh?" A small creature skittered away, and McCoy hoped it wasn't poisonous. He heard the engine of the air car, and he took a deep breath. His temper got him trouble every other day, and he had to decide how angry he really was.

"Leonard?"

"Here, Spock." McCoy stood up and waited.

Spock strode over. "This isn't prudent. There are many creatures toxic to you out at night."

"Like T'Pau?" McCoy hoped Spock wouldn't touch him. That always made things harder. "I needed to think."

"Did you?"

"No. I fumed." McCoy shrugged. "Take me to the Federation Center."

Spock edged closer. "Leonard, I was hoping--"

"Whatever you were hoping, you can forget." McCoy left him and climbed in the air car. Spock joined him. "Don't talk to me."

Spock bowed his head. McCoy refused to feel guilty. He put his hands in his lap and didn't speak. When the air car set down, he got out immediately. Spock remained in the car, and his eyes were dark. McCoy ignored it and went to the front desk. They found him a room and were extremely kind. He nodded, signed, and talked nonsense. When the room was quiet, he lay on the bed in his clothes. They'd been together eight months--not all that long, and there were no children to make things difficult. This could end and no one would be hurt.

"Except me and Spock."

McCoy blamed himself. He had allowed it, damn it! After shoving off his boots, he found a therma-blanket and pulled it over himself. "Lights off." The dark was comforting, but the lack of a tall, warm, Vulcan wasn't.

********

Spock didn't return to the house. He went to the cavern. It was illogical, but when he was immersed in the dark water, he was able to formulate his theories. McCoy's anger was logical. His embarrassment had been easy to read, and it had turned to horror when he'd realized what he'd always railed against was the truth. McCoy was submissive to Spock, enough to form this bond. It wasn't true submission as a human might think of it, it was more of a willingness to obey. It was eminently logical. Spock had commanded McCoy before, and while he never liked it, he obeyed because of the command structure that they all lived by. They were Star Fleet, but McCoy had not considered that fact.

"Spock?"

Spock nodded and swam over to hold on to the edge of a shelf. "Greetings, Sadel."

"Where is your human friend?" Sadel looked over Spock's shoulder.

"He has returned to the Federation Center." Spock gave no indication of how hurtful the words were to say. "Are you here alone?"

"I am meeting a friend." Sadel raised his eyebrow. "Vulcans do not gossip, but it is common knowledge that you planned to mate with the human."

Spock refused to lie. "It is too dangerous."

Sadel crossed his legs. "Join me."

"Thank you." Spock pulled up and sat across from him. "I would never risk Dr. McCoy."

"I understand." Sadel nodded. "I, and others, had hoped the son of Sarek would show us the way."

"I do not understand." Spock heard a splash of water behind him and turned. "Your friend?"

"Yes. Kalar." Sadel made room and Kalar sat close. Spock formed a greeting, but it fell from his mind when he saw Sadel extend two fingers and Kalar accept them. They were mates, but they were not. Males did not. Spock thought furiously fast. T'Pau was the key, and their conversation held clues. Vulcans don't lie, but their word choice was often misleading.

"Kalar," Spock said. "I am Spock."

"We have spoken of you often." Kalar gave a small bow of respect. "I would meet your human mate, if it is permissible."

"He has . . ." Spock took a small breath. "Left me."

Kalar and Sadel exchanged a look. "You have our condolences."

Spock nodded his thanks. "It is difficult, when there can be no bond."

Sadel answered slowly, "You are correct. Kalar and I have formed the only bond open to us, but we had thought if you were successful, than we might explore other avenues."

Spock looked from one to the other. "May I enquire?"

"I am submissive," Kalar said softly. "It is natural for me." Sadel touched him gently on the hand.

"Dr. McCoy is one of the finest physicians in the galaxy." Spock paused to choose his next words carefully and to emphasize. "He was willing to take the risk, if we both had been Vulcan."

"Fascinating," Sadel said. "So there is hope."

"Hope is illogical. I would place your trust in research." Spock stood up. "Good evening. I must return home."

They nodded, and Spock swam away from them. He looked back only once, and they were gone. He toweled off, dressed, and headed for the Federation Center. There were words unspoken.

********

McCoy managed to doze. True sleep was impossible. His emotions had roiled his body into a fine state. He heard a noise, but didn't identify it at first. What was it? It repeated, and he realized it was the communications system. He threw the blanket off and crossed to the small desk. "McCoy here."

"There's a Vulcan at the front desk asking to see you. It's after hours."

"That Vulcan is Commander Spock from the Enterprise. He outranks you, and I suggest you move on it!" McCoy poured out a wealth of irritation. He sat down, rubbed his face, and waited for the door to chime. When it did, he opened it immediately. "Come on in, Spock."

"You sound highly annoyed." Spock stepped inside. "This is spartan by any standards."

"Not the Taj Mahal, no. I am annoyed. Security is one thing, but stupidity is another!" McCoy stood up. "This is no way to spend a vacation."

"I concur." Spock extended his hand. "I do apologize. I understand your position. I wasn't sure if your coming here meant we are at an end, but if we are, I will not blame you in the least."

"I came here because I didn't want to yell at you." McCoy sat down on the bed. "I have never been so humiliated, and I did it to myself."

"It was brave. I would never have had the courage. T'Pau is formidable."

"Easy with the butter." McCoy smiled. "This trip has highlighted the fact that you will have a wife. Perhaps, it is better that you wait for her."

Spock made no reply at first. McCoy watched his Vulcan's back straighten. "Leonard, there is so much I will miss if that is your decision."

McCoy lowered his face into his hands. "And the bond?"

"We will never mention it again." Spock folded his hands neatly. "You are worth more to me."

McCoy sighed. He'd won, but he felt as if he'd lost. "Let's get out of here. We have eleven days left."

"Logical." Spock opened the door, and McCoy slipped on his boots and went out behind him. When they were wrapped around each other on the big bed at the vacation house, Spock whispered, "Thank you."

"We'll talk more tomorrow." McCoy shut his eyes and relaxed. He could sleep now.

********

T'Pau allowed her lips to lift in satisfaction. Spock had come here for his own purposes, but he had served hers. The movement among certain young males would cease. And life would continue its slow pace.

********

Kalar eased away from his mate. Sadel kissed him on the back. "Someone will have to take the risk first."

"We have the least time among our group. Do you think we can trust the word of Spock?"

"There is no one I trust more, but in the time remaining, we will do research. Perhaps there are records." Sadel kissed him again. "Pass the word and quietly. No one else must know. No one!"

Kalar nodded. "Agreed. If T'Pau moves against us, we will fail."

"She has moved against Spock, and he has lost, but in her moment of victory, we can prevail." Sadel handed his mate a towel. "We must act now."

********

McCoy woke up slow and easy, taking his time to kiss Spock up and down. Spock was so rarely in bed when McCoy woke up, that he couldn't resist. The kissing led to licking and that ended in thrusting. McCoy took Spock deep inside and reveled in it. He panted and shoved back. His body tingled with pleasure, and he thought of nothing but that. It spiraled up and abruptly dropped back down. Spock always gave more than he took, and McCoy relaxed into the satiation.

"I'll cook breakfast."

"Wake me when it's ready," McCoy mumbled. He shut his eyes and dropped back off to sleep. It was the smell of meat that woke him up. Was that bacon? He stumbled from bed and staggered to the kitchen. "Are you teasing me?"

"You require animal protein." Spock pointed with the spatula. "I hope we have no guests this morning."

"Me too." McCoy got some coffee and sat down. "I feel like I've been through the wringer."

"That is the appropriate reaction. T'Pau's touch is powerful."

"Don't remind me," McCoy growled. "It is bacon?"

"Vulcans do not lie." Spock served up a plate to McCoy. "You will like it."

"I'm sure I will. Thank you." McCoy smiled. "Are you tired?"

"Yes." Spock filled his plate and sat down. The fact that he ate no bacon was cheering. It was some type of animal protein, probably lizard. McCoy took a big bite and smiled. It was good. Spock sliced some fruit and held it out. "Eat as much as you can."

"And then a nap in the shade." McCoy ate heartily. He was hungry and tired. "Talk to me."

Spock raised his eyebrow. "What would you have me say?"

"Tell me everything I missed. Pretend you're reporting to a senior officer. I want details and your opinion." McCoy added some sugar to his coffee. "Commander."

********

Spock organized the events and gave his report. McCoy didn't interrupt or ask questions. He listened, and Spock was thorough. "And then I came to Starfleet Center. You are aware of the rest."

"Yes, sir. I am." McCoy pushed his plate away. "Spock, do you realize what Kalar and Sadel are planning?"

"Of course, and you heard T'Pau. Vulcans do not lie. Her exact words, 'two males may not bond.'"

"May not, instead of can not? Pretty skimpy evidence." McCoy began to clean the kitchen. It was only fair. "One of those young men could die."

"I informed them of the risk. I told them to do the research. They are aware." Spock remained sitting and handed McCoy his plate. "Vulcan society changes very slowly. T'Pau facilitates this."

McCoy dried his hands on a towel. "Would you like some ice cream?"

"Yes, thank you." Spock was careful not to raise his lips.

"I'll get you some." McCoy laughed. "But you're crazy." He dipped it out and sat down to watch Spock eat it. "If you're right, T'Pau has worked against us from the beginning."

"Probable. I am a legend, and my purpose here was no secret." Spock calculated the coldness of the ice cream. He preferred it at a certain temperature.

McCoy put his chin in his hand. "She humiliated me on purpose--to drive me away from you."

"I refuse to speculate on that." Spock could only go so far. She was family. "Your humiliation was a result of your realization of the truth between us."

"Damn right." McCoy gave the cabinet a final wipe and left him. Spock ate his ice cream and remembered that too many words were as bad as too few when it came to dealing with his doctor.

********

McCoy found some shade and stretched out. He was warm, full, and unable to relax. T'Pau had won the battle to keep them from bonding, and it rankled. Why should she get to make their decisions? Those two young men had established the type of bond that required submission. He wanted to growl. Just because he was willing to follow orders didn't make him a doormat. They were Star Fleet. Following orders could mean life or death!

"Are you fuming again?"

"Yes. I want you to give those boys some time to make up their mind." McCoy made his mind up quickly. "Inform your parents that I have left Vulcan."

Spock shook his head instantly. "I will not lie."

"I'm not asking you to. Inform them that I left you and went to the Federation Center after meeting with T'Pau, nothing else. It is a truth." McCoy almost pointed his finger at Spock and then remembered it was very rude. "Do it. You got them into this."

"You will not be able to sight see or return to the caverns."

"I don't care. I may get on a shuttle for Earth yet." McCoy didn't smile. He wasn't joking.

Spock stared at him for longer than was polite. "I will do it."

"Good." McCoy sank back down flat. He had two decisions to make, and he needed to think. The heat finally drove him indoors, and he found Spock in the computer room. He had three computers going at once, and apparently, he was reading them all at the same time. McCoy found a chair and sat down next to him. "Well?"

"If there is anything, it will be in databanks that are encrypted." Spock didn't stop.

"I'm sure that slowed you down for about three minutes."

"Three minutes twenty seconds." Spock called up a new screen. "There are hints that such practices were considered normal before the time of Surak, but the language is open to several interpretations."

"That's a problem." McCoy put his hand on Spock. "Do you enjoy this type of research?"

"Completely, and yes, enjoyment is an emotion. I will, once I am finished, suggest several of these systems receive upgrades along Federation guidelines." Spock's fingers were a blur. "May I be candid with you?"

"Have you ever not been?" McCoy was curious as to that answer.

"On occasion." Spock turned completely away. "I regret my course of action, but I still desire a closeness with you."

McCoy had known Spock was a master at avoiding questions, but he'd admitted it. It was nearly amazing. "I respect that." McCoy stood up. "Have fun. I'm going to shower and take a nap."

Spock nodded, his dark head bent in concentration again. McCoy watched him for a moment before going to the shower. Their years would be limited, was it wrong to want the most of those years, no matter the consequences? He didn't think so. What he needed was to talk to Kalar, but that would be risky.

McCoy took a quick shower and dressed casually. He should have been able to sleep, but his mind refused to quiet down. Finally, he gave up and went to find Spock.

"Why aren't you sleeping?"

"For some reason, I can't." McCoy paused. "I want to talk to Kalar. Arrange it for me. Please."

Spock sighed softly. "Illogical."

"I know, but my mind doesn't work like yours. Get the young man here. I don't care how." McCoy wasn't giving up on this. "Please."

Spock turned from the computers. "I will invite them to dinner. Sadel is my fourth cousin."

"Twice removed and on your mother's side?" McCoy couldn't help but laugh. "Sorry, it's a southern joke."

"I will send the message." Spock steepled his hands. "And you will do something for me."

"Okay. Name your price." McCoy meant it, but was still surprised. Spock rarely traded favors.

"You will sit and read this from start to finish. I have translated it exactly. I fear that my ability to interpret the text is flawed." Spock pointed at the far right screen. "Don't read it as a human. Read it as a physician, nothing more."

"I'll do my best. Let me get something to drink." McCoy indulged in a carbonated beverage and returned to the computer. He sank down into the chair and began to read. After two paragraphs, he wouldn't have noticed if Spock left the room.

********

Spock received an affirmative from their dinner guests, and he catered the meal. It would be delivered in four hours. He didn't have time to cook an elaborate meal today. There was much more to read. He glanced over at his mate and was pleased to note the rapt attention.

********

"Is it wise to go?"

"Indeed." Sadel nodded. "Spock has access to records that we don't. He could very well have the answer for us. We will go separately."

"I should take a bottle of spring water."

"That is an excellent idea." Sadel looked about and made sure they were alone before touching Kalar on the hand. "If Spock supports us, we can't fail."

********

McCoy leaned back and drank the rest of his beverage. It was good, and he was thirsty. He glanced over but Spock's chair was empty. He checked the time and blinked. That had been a good story.

"Assessment?" Spock came in the room quietly.

"Those two men were bonded as mates. None of this slave crap that we've been hearing about." McCoy was sure of it. "Is this a work of fiction?"

"No. It is a historical document. How can you be certain?" Spock didn't sit down. He stood near the door in his robe.

McCoy had his answer ready. "The injuries. I spoke to your mother in detail before and after Sarek's operation. She knew what was hanging in the balance for her. Those two men prevailed because of their bond."

"I agree, but I am a romantic."

"What?" McCoy laughed heartily. "Now I've heard everything. This document only proves that those Vulcans in that time could do it. It means little for the here and now. Genetic shifts have occurred."

"Indeed." Spock nodded. "Please go dress for our guests."

"It did get late on me. I'll go put on something that won't embarrass you." McCoy laughed some more. "I love romance."

"I did suspect." Spock pulled him into an embrace and a long kiss. "Leonard."

McCoy smiled and slipped away. He'd put on that matching robe he'd noticed. It wouldn't kill him.

********

Amanda sighed softly. Her heart was sore for her son. T'Pau had taken the situation and twisted it for her own desires. Amanda didn't know what those desires were, but she knew T'Pau--very well. Her son should have choices. He'd struggled so much to find his own path, and now this.

She sank back into her chair and shut her eyes. If she focused. If she breathed correctly. If she pushed. Her mind cleared. Yes. There it was. Blood ran to her face, and she gasped. Her eyes popped open, and she began to laugh. Spock had lied. Well, perhaps not, but he was giving T'Pau the slip, and that was all to the good. She rubbed her cheeks and decided on some celebratory ice cream.

********

Kalar watched the human as much as possible without being rude. McCoy was fascinating, and when he smiled, it was beautiful. Kalar wished to see Sadel smile like that. Just once, of course.

"Kalar, would you walk out on the deck with me while Spock and Sadel look over a few old records?" McCoy stood up.

"I'd be pleased to." Kalar caught the eye of Sadel. It was fine. He followed the human out into the night air. "Do you like our planet?"

"I've been to many worlds, but Vulcan is unique." McCoy stared up at the sky.

"That is evasive, but I understand." Kalar did. This was his home, but elsewhere might be better. "Can I help you in some way?"

"I'm glad you asked. Tell me about your bond, please." McCoy shuffled his feet and hid his hands. Kalar wondered why, but made sure to listen. "Are you truly submissive? If he tells you to jump, do you ask how high?"

"Why would he do such a thing?" Kalar cocked his head to the side. "He and I have respect for each other. This bond was our only alternative. If he truly desires something, I know it and give it. He is aware of my heart and desires also."

"But he's in command." McCoy was a curious human. Were they all so curious?

"I don't wish to command him. If he makes decisions for us, he has our best interests in his mind." Kalar folded his hands and indulged in staring at this brave human. "What are you concerned about?"

"Could he force you? Could he make you follow his orders?"

Kalar nodded. "He could. The bond makes it possible. He could also kill me without a fight or beat me with a whip. I would never flinch."

McCoy sighed. "I thought so. It just sounds wrong."

"He loves me. He wouldn't do those things, and if he did, I would take action."

"Not if you're dead." McCoy sat down in a chair. Kalar wasn't sure whether to sit close or not, but he wanted to, so he did. McCoy made an odd noise. "I just don't think I could trust it."

"It's not the bond you trust." Kalar wanted to touch him. He wasn't sure why. "May I touch you?"

"Isn't that considered rude?"

"Yes." Kalar was glad for the dark.

McCoy reached out and took Kalar by the hand. Kalar tried to control his gasp of shock. The human's mind was completely vulnerable and undisciplined. Any bond would be difficult amidst this chaos. McCoy released him. Kalar struggled to filter away the stronger emotions. "I understand now, but hear these words. You already trust him with your life. The bond will be difficult at first. Your mind will be overwhelmed with the intensity, but as you gain control, your life will entwine with his in a new way."

"And will I like it?"

"Unknown, but this partial pet bond you have with him needs to be cleansed." Kalar stood up and moved away. He needed to gain complete control. "It is unhealthy."

"What?" McCoy spoke loudly and stood up fast. It was alarming. "A pet bond? Kalar, are you a mindhealer?"

"Not for another fifty years, but I have learned much from my grandfather." Kalar gazed up at the stars. His place was here. He knew it. "He might have done it in a moment of extreme stress--to find you or comfort you or even protect you. It happens."

"The neutral zone," McCoy whispered. It made no sense. "Please, go tell him."

Kalar straightened his robes. "I will do so." It was his responsibility.

********

McCoy watched him leave and didn't curse until the door was shut. "God damn those Romulans!" The universe didn't listen, but he felt much better. Why hadn't the other healers said anything? Because he was human. They assumed it was intentional! Damn it! He rubbed his face and leaned against the railing. If they bonded, it would be work on his part. Spock would help him. And trust? He trusted Spock every day not to kill them in any number of ways. Blowing up the ship while he was working on the matter/antimatter systems came to mind. He groaned and went inside. This wasn't much of a vacation.

********

"You touched him?" Spock couldn't believe it. Kalar was young, but that was a grave insult.

"I asked permission first. I sensed something was wrong with him." Kalar lowered his eyes. "You have my apology."

Spock controlled his growl. Sadel said, "I'm sure you meant well. Is he ill?"

"Kalar, give me all the facts," Spock said brusquely. It was a good thing that McCoy wasn't here to call him angry.

********

McCoy waited another moment to compose himself before tracking down the pointy-eared mischief maker who'd turned him into a pet--on accident. Spock looked pissy. Kalar looked apologetic, and Sadel looked anxious, so McCoy threw his two cents right into the conversation. "A pet bond? You turned me into your pet!"

Spock growled softly, "It was unintentional."

"That's how you always knew where I was, and that's why I liked pleasing you so much lately. I thought I was losing my edge!" McCoy wanted to throw something at the Vulcan. "Kalar, take it out. Now."

"I agree." Spock stood up straight. "It must be removed."

Sadel spoke up. "Can you do it, Kalar? If they go to a mind healer, T'Pau will know within a sun length."

Kalar nodded. "It is simple, but Spock, if you decide on the partner bond, you will have to work with him. It will be difficult."

"Partner bond?" Spock glanced at McCoy. "Those words are pleasing."

"Take it out," McCoy said. "I want a day or two of being my grouchy self before I make any decisions."

"Agreed." Spock nodded. "Where is best?"

Kalar pointed to two chairs that were close. "Sit. I will touch you both. McCoy, you may need to rest when I am finished."

"I'm willing to take that chance." McCoy smiled. "Spock, I should schedule you for monthly physicals for doing this to me."

Spock raised his eyebrow and sat down. Sadel moved to across the room from them, and Kalar stood behind them. McCoy braced himself for anything. The ceiling spun, he gasped, and then nothing.

********

Spock caught McCoy before he hit the carpet. "Kalar, is he injured?"

"No. His mind refused to give it up easily. The shock forced him unconscious." Kalar stepped close and touched McCoy again. "His mind is cleansed. He will awaken naturally."

"I will take him to bed." Spock scooped up his mate and took him back to their room. He covered him lightly and kissed him. "Rest." There was no answer, and he returned to his guests. "Am I free of the bond?"

"Yes. It was below your conscious mind." Kalar folded his hands precisely. "If you partner bond with him, he will never give that up."

"I understand. With him, it is all or nothing." Spock sat down. "This has been a fascinating evening."

Sadel stood. "We are in your debt, Spock, son of Sarek."

"That is illogical." Spock stood. "We are family. It is my duty to help you. Kalar, I thank you."

"I know now why you are a legend." Kalar looked at his hand. "It was a privilege to be of assistance. Would you like my advice?"

"Please." Spock waited.

"Bond with him or let him go. You will do this again, unknowingly. Your urge to protect him is very strong." Kalar held up his hand. "Thank you for honoring us."

Spock returned the salute. "Live long and prosper, Kalar and Sadel."

"We intend to, Spock. Live long and prosper." With those words, they were gone out the front door, and Spock went to check on McCoy.

********

McCoy woke up fast and furious. He ripped the blanket away and tore off his robe. Quickly, he dressed in his uniform.

"Leonard?"

"I'm fine. Don't touch me." McCoy packed his bag. "I'm going to Earth."

Spock's silence was eloquent.

McCoy snapped the bag shut. "Take me to the shuttle port."

Spock nodded and followed him through the house. McCoy stiffened his will and tossed his bag in the back. Spock engaged the engines. "You are angry."

"Of course I am." McCoy threw up his hands. "I've rarely been insulted in such a grand manner."

"You are in no frame of mind to listen to my protestations of innocence." Spock took them out, and the trip was a short one.

McCoy didn't look at Spock, bought a ticket, and sat down to wait. Spock was still close, and his worry was palpable. McCoy relented, a little. "I'm going to my house in Georgia. You can meet me there. We have ten days. Give me three."

"Affirmative. Will your temper resolve this issue by then?"

McCoy shrugged. "I doubt it. But I need some time to think before you touch me."

Spock nodded. "I will leave you then."

"Tell your mother hello." McCoy wasn't backing down. He needed some distance from this problem.

"Live long and prosper." Spock spoke softly, and then he was gone.

McCoy refused to feel guilty. He hadn't done this. His head began to ache, and he opened his bag to find a painkiller. None. He groaned and heard his shuttle number. It was time to go.

*********

Spock joined his mother for breakfast. It was imminently logical. She smiled brilliantly at him. "Tell me what's going on?"

"Leonard has gone to Earth." Spock sat down. "He said he needed some distance."

"Ouch." Amanda groaned and busied herself. "What did you do? Everything was fine yesterday."

"Mother, how could you know that?" Spock straightened the eating utensils.

"I peeked." Amanda handed him a plate of food. "I'm sorry, but I was worried. What did you do?"

"Why do you assume I was at fault?" Spock didn't pick up his fork. "Several months ago, Leonard and I had a small conflict with the Romulans."

"On that space station, yes. It was all over the news." Amanda smiled. "Sorry. You're interesting."

"Unbeknownst to myself, I initiated a bond with him." Spock stared at his food.

Amanda gasped. "You didn't give him a pet bond? Never mind, I can see from your face that you did. Oh, Spock. I'm sure Leonard is furious."

Spock picked up his fork and began to eat. It was illogical to go hungry. "Furious is an accurate description."

"I'm sorry." Amanda touched his hand. "We'll skip the ice cream."

********

"The human has left the planet--alone."

T'Pau nodded in satisfaction at her eldest daughter. "Excellent. There will be no more trouble from the son of Sarek."

********

Sarek returned home and extended his hand to his wife. She took it. "A hug?" He nodded and folded her into his embrace. Her upset was easy to read, and the cause was the usual one.

"Do you wish that I speak with him?"

"I can't advise that. He's ashamed." His wife sighed. "You know how he is when he makes mistakes."

Sarek did know. She had often called them two peas in a pod, and that had made no sense until she had shown him on Earth. "T'Pau is pleased."

"Of course she is. That, in itself, should tell you that this isn't right!" Amanda pushed away and crossed her arms. "Will you sacrifice your son's happiness for our bloodline?"

"That is not a question that is easily answered."

"Spock knows he can't initiate a full mating bond with McCoy. He's accepted it, but is he to have nothing of happiness?" His wife whirled away and left the room. Sarek examined his choices before going after her. He would comfort her, and then speak with his son.

********

McCoy breathed in the fresh pine smell of his home and let it out in a rush. His house looked the same. An A-Frame set back into a patch of woods that he called home. Sure, it was rustic, and no, it didn't have a built-in transporter pad, but it was his. The road had disappeared a mile back, and hiking in was part of coming home. Joanna always understood. He'd spent the first day with her, but now it was time to figure this out. Spock would be punctual, and McCoy wanted to have an answer or two. He opened the door and smiled as he stowed his clothes. Finished, he went to check the fridge. He'd ordered it stocked yesterday, and everything had survived the beam-in. He wouldn't starve. Grabbing a beer, he went out on the loft deck and pulled the deck chairs up from the floor.

"Well, Spock. What now?"

********

Spock meditated deeply. Now that the small bond was gone, he could feel its lack. It had been wrong, but it had been right. He was insulted that none of the healers had mentioned it. They had thought it was consensual, but it hadn't been, and he was ashamed.

"Spock?"

"In here, Father." Spock stood and straightened his robe. "May I help you?"

"Your mother is concerned that you are in a severe state of unhappiness." Sarek raised his eyebrow.

Spock understood again the gift of language that was his father. "I am rebuked."

"You are my son." Sarek put his hands behind his back. "T'Pau is pleased."

"I was certain she would be." Spock chose his next words carefully. "I will honor our bloodline, and you knew this."

"I did. I was never concerned in the least." Sarek made a small gesture. "I would like tea."

"My apologies. Apparently, my faculties have lapsed." Spock made sure his father was comfortable before going for tea. When they both had a cup, he said, "I renewed my acquaintance with Sadel. He is a promising young man."

"Slightly misguided, but yes. He is a credit to the family. T'Pau watches that one with a keen eye." Sarek agreed, and yet he didn't. It was his diplomacy. "What research have you been doing during your stay? These computers back up to the computer at our main residence, and I observed you were blocking the transmission of data."

"It is private." Spock refused to discuss this with his father.

"If there were written evidence of male bonding, I would have seen it." Sarek waited for a reaction, but Spock wasn't going to give him the one he desired.

"There are several subsystems within the archives that need a security upgrade." Spock sipped his tea. He'd said enough.

Sarek put his cup down. "I will make a note of it. If you did find evidence, I would hope that you would send the information to your father, who has allies on the council. T'Pau always achieves her goals."

Spock heard the hidden message clearly. Sarek disagreed with T'Pau on the subject, but had to walk softly. Spock bowed his head in agreement. "I would do so. The subject does not concern me however. Leonard is human."

"There are some people that are a catalyst for change." Sarek held himself in perfect stillness. "We have disagreed about your choices, but you are my son."

"I am." Spock abandoned the dance of diplomacy and told his truth. "I am going to ask Leonard to join with me in a partner bond."

"Is that how they're referring to it in this century?" Sarek refilled his tea. It was a good sign. "If you succeed, you will have proven yourself as a master negotiator and diplomat."

Spock knew a human would laugh at that, and he raised his eyebrow. "You are correct."

"I am your father." Sarek stood and put his cup down. "Thank you for the tea. Live long and prosper, my son."

"Live long and prosper, Father." Spock nodded. "Tell Mother I will be over for breakfast tomorrow."

"I will make sure there is ice cream." Sarek left with all his customary grace and poise. Spock shut the door and evaluated their relationship again. He would send Sarek the document that he'd discovered, and then go swimming in the cavern. If he saw his cousin, he would diplomatically inform him that the ranks of the elders were split on this subject.

********

"Bones!"

McCoy flew out of his deck chair and went to the rail. "Jim!" He waved. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"Getting a beer!" Kirk laughed. McCoy joined in and went downstairs to get him one. Kirk gave him a quick hug and grabbed the beer. "You need a road."

"Keeps out lazy people." McCoy smiled and led the way back to the deck. "Sit. Tell me why you're snooping around my woods."

Kirk took a big drink. "Good beer. I knew I could trust you to have some."

"Just go ahead and be nosy. I don't mind."

"I know what happened. Amanda sent me a message." Kirk grinned. "She's a mother hen."

McCoy put his head in his hands. "Spock never talks, unless you don't want him to!"

Kirk shrugged and worked on his beer. McCoy joined him. "Bones, I'm not here to give you advice or anything stupid like that. I just wanted to make sure you made the trip safely. Shuttles? You could have called me!"

"What could possibly have happened?" McCoy couldn't believe his ears. "I was in more danger on Vulcan."

"There is crime in this century. Not much, but some, and with your luck, your shuttle might have been hijacked by space pirates." Kirk grinned at him. "We're spending this week in dry dock--minor repairs, but Scotty is pleased. I'm headed to Iowa later today."

"Good," McCoy growled. "Did she tell you why?"

"No, just that Spock was a numbskull. Oh, that's my interpretation." Kirk stood and looked out into the woods. "Are you going to forgive him?"

"I have to. He didn't do it on purpose. Well, so he says." McCoy shrugged and changed the subject fast. "There's a social movement afoot on Vulcan. Things are changing."

"Not possible." Kirk drained his beer. "I'm getting another one."

McCoy waved him away and thought about it. Some of his dignity was preserved. Spock needed to stop having ice cream with his mother. McCoy chuckled softly. He wasn't angry anymore. These last two days he'd noticed the lack of something. A presence was gone from his life, and as much as he hated to admit it, he missed knowing.

"So, did you do anything fun before storming out?" Kirk sat back down, burped, and lifted his beer. "To good beer."

McCoy clicked with him and nearly told him about the cavern, but Sarek had asked him not. "Not really. There was a sandstorm."

"Vulcan will never be a tourist stop, not that they'd allow that." Kirk smiled. "Did Spock get the answer he hoped for?"

Kirk was nosy, even if he denied it. McCoy groaned. "No. Spock is going to have to face the facts about his biology."

"Yeah." Kirk reached and patted him on the arm. "Are you really upset about that?"

"No." McCoy went to the rail and looked out at the trees. This was very far from Spock's home. "I never wanted it. It wouldn't be right."

"I agree. Spock will have responsibilities in a future that we won't see." Kirk nodded.

McCoy smiled. Kirk had a way with words. "Jim, you're not cheering me up."

"I didn't come here to do that." Kirk laughed. "You don't need cheering up. Grouchy is your style."

McCoy hefted a pinecone. Kirk just grinned. He had never lacked confidence. McCoy laughed. "Tell me one thing--am I nuts?"

"If I were you, and I'm not, and I don't want to be, and Spock wanted to be with me for fifty-odd years, I'd nod and smile. You know occasionally he's going to go off and do things that we don't understand, but you're not someone to mind."

"I can't decide if I've been complimented or insulted." McCoy tried to sort all that out. "Do you ever wish . . .?"

"No. I was an idiot to ask him." Kirk didn't hesitate. "He needs more than I could ever give him."

McCoy tossed the pinecone over the railing. "Want some dinner?"

Kirk nodded. "That's why I'm here." He would assume, and McCoy didn't mind. "Steaks?"

"Big ones." McCoy nodded. "You get the grill started."

********

Spock boarded the shuttle for Earth. He had never been to McCoy's home in Georgia, and it was a compliment to be asked. There was only one problem, he had no idea where it was. Captain Kirk knew the location, and so, Spock would call him as soon as he reached Earth.

The trip would be short, and he went up to the observation deck. As they passed the dry dock, he pondered what a human's reaction would be to the sight of the Enterprise. Elation? Surprise? Both? He would admit to a sense of pride. If the Enterprise was in dry dock, where was Captain Kirk? Iowa? Georgia? Spock clasped his hands behind him. This had become more difficult.

When the shuttle docked, he went straight to the nearest communication system. "Spock to Enterprise."

"Enterprise here. This is Sulu."

Spock got right to the point. "Does Captain Kirk have his communicator?"

"Yes." Sulu paused. "I think so. Do you want me to try?"

"Yes, please." Spock waited. He wasn't impatient. The wait was a short one. "Sorry, Mr. Spock. He's unavailable. He is scheduled to go to Iowa this evening."

"Mr. Sulu, please beam me up." Spock would have to find the information. He materialized in the transporter room and walked to his quarters. Researching the problem wouldn't take long, and he settled down in front of his computer.

********

McCoy cleaned up after dinner. Kirk had skipped out on him, of course. McCoy chuckled softly. It was Kirk's way, and that was fine. When everything was clean enough, he went around turning down the lights and considered a fire. It was cool on these Georgia nights, and he went to work. When he had a nice fire crackling, he was satisfied. He grabbed another drink and sat down to enjoy it.

********

"These are the coordinates, Mr. Scott."

Scotty used the sensors to verify them. "That's in the middle of a forest. I'd feel better about beaming you onto the road. It's about a mile, but I'd hate to put you in a tree."

Spock nodded. "That will be adequate."

"It's dark there. You have the appropriate equipment?"

"A tricorder should be sufficient." Spock got on the platform. "Energize."

Scotty shook his head. "Good luck." He energized and then muttered, "You're going to need it." He considered the matter and used the communication system. "Enterprise to Dr. McCoy."

There was a long silence, and then, "I'm on vacation, Scotty."

"Lucky you." Scotty laughed. "I just sent a Vulcan yer direction. I put him down on the road."

"Did he bring a flashlight?"

"No, just a tricorder." Scotty sighed. "He may need yer help."

McCoy laughed softly. "Thanks, Scotty."

"Yer welcome. Scott out." He clicked off and went back to his engines. They were reasonable.

********

McCoy turned on the outside light, took a flashlight, and started for the road. It was colder out than usual, and he was glad he'd worn a coat. Spock would use the tricorder to get the right direction, but there was no way he could find the path. When McCoy was within shouting distance, he started doing just that. "Spock! Spock!" And he stopped to listen. He turned completely around, shining his flashlight. No moon tonight, it was dark. "Spock!"

"Leonard!"

McCoy felt a rush of relief. "Keep talking!" He went towards where he thought the sound was.

"Is there no light on this planet?" There was a pause, and McCoy kept moving. "Did you bring a medikit? I fear I have injured myself. It is very dark."

McCoy flashed the light across Spock's paler than usual face. "Spock!"

"Accurate." Spock was down in the branches and leaves.

McCoy moved fast, but didn't touch. "Where?"

"My leg." Spock pulled his hand away, and McCoy flashed the light there. "I was just getting up when I heard you."

"Stay down until I get a good look." McCoy put the flashlight down, tore off his coat, and put it over him. "Cold?"

"Yes." Spock's green blood was easy to see in the light, and McCoy made a quick analysis of the wound. Spock picked up the light and held it for him. "Analysis?"

"A hospital wouldn't be a bad idea." McCoy put a gentle hand on Spock's thigh. "Do you have your communicator?"

"Yes." Spock reached for his bag, but McCoy stopped him and went to get it. He pulled out the communicator quickly. Spock took him by the hand. "The Enterprise."

"We're going." McCoy flipped it over. "Scotty, two to beam up!"

"Aye, Dr. McCoy," Scotty answered immediately.

McCoy intended to ask a medical team to meet them, but he had no time. They were on the transporter pad in three seconds. He blinked in the sudden light. "I need a stretcher, Scotty."

"Aye!"

McCoy didn't listen. He held Spock's leg still and kept pressure on the wound. The stick pulsed in time with Spock's heartbeat. "Spock, the nights in Georgia can be dangerous."

"I concur." Spock put his hand on McCoy's hand. The medic team came through the door, and McCoy put away his emotions and went to work.

*********

"I don't wish to spend the rest of our leave on the Enterprise." Spock lowered his voice to emphasize. "My leg is well. We should return to the surface."

McCoy frowned. "You're not completely well. There's more healing to be done."

Spock swung his legs over and stood up. "You are being over-protective. Am I discharged?"

"Yes." McCoy threw up his hands. "You can't manage a mile walk from the road."

"I am a Vulcan." Spock wanted to see McCoy's house, and he was going. "I can manage it, if you go with me."

McCoy groaned. "Can I talk you out of this? We'll hide in your quarters for a few days."

Spock refused to give in. "I am going. Are you accompanying me?"

"Okay. Let me pack a few things that you might need when you stumble into another tree." McCoy began packing a medikit. "You go change."

"I will meet you in Transporter Room Three." Spock was satisfied.

"Bring a coat."

*********

McCoy made sure to collect his flashlight. It had been three hours since they had beamed aboard. The touch of his Vulcan had been the same, and yet, it had been different. The lack of even a small, insulting bond was keenly missed. He sighed and moved in the direction of the transporter. Spock would need help, and he was waiting. This time, he had a flashlight.

"Ready?"

"Affirmative. Ensign, energize."

McCoy got his bearings easily. "The trail is this way."

"Leonard, why is your home so isolated?"

"It suits me." McCoy watched, walked slow, and made sure Spock was on the path. "I still can't believe you didn't get a flashlight. Fool ass thing to do. If Scotty hadn't given me a call, you might have died."

"Why didn't you tell me where your home was? And why isn't there a transporter pad?"

McCoy smiled. "You never asked, and I like my privacy!" He snapped. "Did you have to tell your mother everything?"

Spock stopped and turned. "She extrapolated the information. I told her you were angry."

"You sound about five years old. You're such a momma's boy!" McCoy wished he could stop smiling. "Keep moving. I had a fire going."

Spock went back to walking. "Insults are below you."

"That's 'beneath you,' and it's interesting that you would say that." McCoy watched his step and Spock's steps also.

"How often must I apologize?"

"I'm thinking forty or fifty years." McCoy checked where they were, about halfway. "You can slow down."

Spock slowed, and McCoy caught up with him. They walked in silence the rest of the way. McCoy threw open the door and forced Spock to sit in the front of the fireplace. Spock looked cold, and McCoy built the fire back up.

"Doesn't the house have a heater?"

"You're sitting in front of it." McCoy put a blanket around him. "I did warn you."

"Not strenuously enough." Spock looked about. "What type of architecture is this?"

"It's called an A-Frame. There's a loft where I sleep." McCoy started tea. "Does your leg hurt?"

"No." Spock shivered.

McCoy went to him and sat with him. "Let them beam us up. Please."

"You experienced my home. I want to do the same. I didn't calculate the odds of the blood and cold, but I would stay." Spock sounded serious.

"I'll get tea. Stay under the blanket." McCoy made the tea, took Spock a large mug, and put more wood on the fire. It was getting warmer in here. They might have to sleep in front of the fire, but Spock would live. He'd be miserable, but this was his choice. "Drink it. You need the fluids."

Spock wrapped his cold hands around it. "Will you ever forgive me?"

"I already have." McCoy sat down and wrapped his arm around him. "It was life or death. You acted instinctively."

"Thank you." Spock sipped the tea. "I want to ask you a question."

"Can it wait until your lips are their normal color?" McCoy hugged him. "I'll just say yes. That'll save time."

Spock drank some more tea. "You were more congenial after I bonded you."

"Don't remind me. Will this bond have that effect?"

"Unknown. It is a risk you must take." Spock allowed the blanket to fall to his hips. "I am warmer."

"Good." McCoy got up long enough to get some tea. "Can I get you anything?"

"No."

They sat together in silence, and McCoy tended the fire when it needed it.

*********

"You want some bacon?" McCoy grinned. The kitchen peninsula had two barstools, and Spock was perched on one of them.

"Your sense of humor has been restored." Spock ate his toast. "Captain Kirk was here?"

"Yep. He stopped in for steak and beer, told me I was an idiot, and left." McCoy put some scrambled eggs on Spock's plate. "Eat them. They're good for you, and no animal died."

Spock put some on his fork. "I have had these before. I am not certain of the ethics behind eating eggs. They could have been chicks, but weren't."

"Eat." McCoy plunked down on the other barstool. "It's not normally this cool. Weather should warm up."

"As long as we don't swim, my temperature will be adequate." Spock drank some tea. "I find this A-Frame intriguing. Why did you choose it?"

"I like it." McCoy shrugged. "The electricity is solar, fireplace for heat, water from recycled rainwater, and it's small--easy to clean. My only concession was a communications unit, but the number is classified."

Spock raised his eyebrow. "How did you manage that?"

"Friends in high places." McCoy got up and refilled Spock's tea. "Do you like this raspberry tea?"

"It's different, but acceptable." Spock finished eating and began again on his tea. "My leg is fine."

"Glad to hear it. I'll look at it later. Are we going to talk about the slave bond?"

"Partner bond, please. And yes." Spock stood up. "If you are finished, I'd like to go upstairs."

McCoy nodded and cleaned up quickly. They'd slept on the sofa last night. "Call it what you want, the power will be yours."

Spock picked up his tea and headed for the stairs. McCoy let him go and wiped down the cabinet. He picked up his tea and followed him. Spock was at the rail, looking out at the forest. McCoy took a chair and sat. It had warmed up. It was going to be a nice day. Spock turned. "It is your choice. Kalar recommended that we bond or never see each other again."

"Kinda hard on a ship with four hundred people." McCoy watched Spock analyze a pinecone. "You want this, don't you?"

"Yes. I do. I have felt the lack of our partial bond." Spock didn't look at him. McCoy knew Spock was ashamed of himself. "If you don't wish it, I will transfer off the Enterprise."

"Oh, shut up." McCoy rubbed his eyes. He hadn't had anywhere near enough sleep last night to hear this crap. "I am willing, but I want your promise on two things."

"Specify."

"First, we will never tell anyone, not a soul, and not even your mother over ice cream. If she figures it out, fine, but you won't discuss it. Secondly, when events in your life take you away from me, I want you to go." McCoy took a deep breath. He couldn't tell what Spock was thinking. "You will have obligations on Vulcan. You will go without making me feel awful."

"Do I have the power to make you feel awful?"

"You certainly do. Part of the problem I had with my first wife was that I needed time alone. I like my solitude. I like it here. Our paths may take us in separate directions now and again. That's fine. Right?"

"Parted and never parted. Touching and never touched." Spock picked up a leaf and stared at it. McCoy would have been irritated, but he knew Spock could think about three things at once. "Leonard, I agree, but I have two requests of my own."

"Spill it."

"I want you to have a transporter pad built here." Spock raised his eyes. "And I never want to hear one word of complaint about the bond. You may complain about me until your tongue turns black, but not the bond."

"Complaining is my way of saying, I love you." McCoy laughed. "How can I be sure I won't slip up?"

Spock came over and sat down next to him. He sipped his tea, and it became apparent he wasn't going to answer that question.

McCoy groaned. "I'll be careful. It won't kill me." He drank the rest of his tea in one gulp. "Want to go for a hike later?"

"Yes. I would enjoy it." Spock reached over and put a gentle hand on McCoy's arm. "We should do it as soon as possible. There will be an adjustment period."

McCoy agreed, and he wanted this, but it would be scary, at first. "Something we agree on. How about we take this to the bed?"

"Agreeable." Spock stood up, and they went inside together. He began to remove his clothes, and McCoy stared for a minute before joining him. Did they have to do this naked? McCoy pushed off his boots and licked his lips. He wanted this. He did. Spock stretched out on the bed, and McCoy retrieved his Feinberger and ran it over Spock's leg before sitting down. Spock waited. "I used a light healing trance last night."

"I can tell. You're good for a hike." McCoy put it on the side table and finished undressing. Spock reached and pulled him down on top. McCoy smiled. "On top? This is new."

"You should be more assertive during our sessions." Spock raised his eyebrow. "Are you ready?"

"No, but go ahead." McCoy didn't shy away, and he put his hand over the top of Spock's hand. "I give my consent."

//The words I must use are ritualized. They mean nothing to us//

//Go ahead// McCoy knew he trembled.

//You are mine//

McCoy felt his back arch.

//You are nothing but what I give you//

McCoy wished he could take a breath.

//You will bow to all my needs//

McCoy gasped, he saw nothing but a blue haze, and then nothing at all.

********

Spock caught his partner's body and eased him down to the bed, but maintained the bond link. The points had been triggered, and it was done, but the longer they were in contact, the easier it would be when McCoy woke up. The bond was much stronger than a pet bond. It wasn't a mating bond, but it was enough for them, and as much as McCoy could handle. Spock made sure there were no injuries to McCoy's brain. The pathways were well built, and he would have to erect a shield to filter some of these emotions away.

"Leonard?"

"Hey, Spock." McCoy opened his eyes. "I don't feel any different."

Spock focused easily. He was thirsty, and he was.

"I'll get you some tea." McCoy sat up, put a hand to his head, and said, "I'll be damned!"

Spock pulled him back down. "It can wait. I have other needs that outweigh my thirst."

********

McCoy smiled. He managed to reach the bedside drawer and find the lubricant he'd stashed there upon arrival. He was having a hard time thinking of anything but Spock--hands, legs, groin, and face, all of it--the whole package. Groaning softly, he ran his hands all over and one thought banged its way through him. Spock wanted him.

"Leonard, what do you want?"

"To please you." McCoy licked and sucked. "You."

"Concentrate. Think." Spock grasped him by the head. "You can do it."

McCoy furrowed his brow. "You ache with need. That's all I know."

"Think of yourself." Spock pulled him away. McCoy didn't like that at all. He couldn't think. Spock held him away, and McCoy wanted to fight, but he couldn't. "Leonard, focus."

"I want you," McCoy said slowly. He licked his lips. "I can't think."

Spock frowned and brought his hand up. McCoy moved greedily for the touch.

//This is too tight//

//Fuck me//

//You must think//

//Please, fuck me// McCoy moved his head and sucked on Spock's finger. He had to have him. "Please?"

Spock sighed. "Hold still."

"Yes." McCoy held completely still. Spock's hands clasped him again. McCoy shook and cried out. He wanted more. "No!"

Spock held him tighter. McCoy couldn't resist, and something within him became much less. He ached for it back and more. His arms quivered and the ceiling spun. When he found Spock again, he gasped, "I want it back."

"No. It was too much." Spock pulled him close and held him. "Can you think now?"

"If I have to." McCoy groaned. It had been wrong, but it had felt so good. He tried to relax, but Spock's needs nagged at him. "You must teach me to push you away."

"I will." Spock caressed him. "What do you need?"

"Some sex would be nice." McCoy shook a little. "This bond could be a terrible thing."

"Like all things, it can be good or evil." Spock moved down, and McCoy lost his ability to think again. Hot mouth pulling, sucking, and licking; making it impossible to talk. His orgasm built so fast that it left him gasping for air. Spock licked his way up and kissed him. Their bodies thrust together roughly, and McCoy lost himself in Spock's needs.

********

The shower was big enough for two, and McCoy enjoyed Spock's hands all over him. "How are you feeling, Leonard?"

"You know." McCoy leaned into his hands. He felt overwhelmed, embarrassed, and just tired. "Thanks for pulling some of it out."

"Not an accurate description. You grasped it more fiercely than I had anticipated." Spock turned off the water. "We should sleep."

"Good idea." McCoy dried off some of his body and staggered to the bed. "Go get yourself something to drink. You're making me thirsty."

Spock dropped a kiss on McCoy's forehead. "Go to sleep."

********

Spock investigated the A-Frame and inventoried the items. He admitted to surprise when he found a computer. Taking it to the kitchen peninsula, he opened it up. It didn't work. Now that wasn't a surprise. There was a toolbox, and he went to get it. He fixed himself some tea and sat down to affect repairs.

*********

McCoy found his way downstairs and opened the fridge. He grabbed a beer, popped it, and took a big drink. "I'll feed you in a minute."

"It's my turn to cook." Spock didn't look up, and McCoy noticed what the Vulcan was doing.

McCoy found a stool and sat down. "I broke that."

"I had ascertained that fact." Spock picked up another tool. "Total isolation isn't healthy."

"I have a vid." McCoy could feel Spock's dislike of the beer, but he took another drink out of stubbornness. The beer was good, well, not bad. He put it down, rummaged through a drawer, and found a remote. He clicked it. "See?"

Spock turned and watched the unit come down from the ceiling directly over the fireplace. McCoy turned on the news. Spock raised his eyebrow. "Clever."

"I'm not a complete hermit." McCoy muted the vid and felt Spock's answer. "And I heard that."

"Good." Spock continued to tinker, and McCoy tried to figure out what he was supposed to do. He could feel Spock's hunger, and he could feel Spock's curiosity. Spock said, "After initiating this bond, I am curious to go back and research it more thoroughly. It would seem disadvantageous to the warrior."

"To have someone desperate to please you?" McCoy sat back down. "Or in a mild form, know when to bring food and drink?"

"I agree with that. But your presence is large in my mind." Spock began to reassemble the computer. "Perhaps it is the newness."

McCoy didn't think so. "I know what it is. I'm human. A Vulcan's mind would be so disciplined that contact would be less. Kalar said it would be intense."

"He is correct." Spock pushed the on button and waited. McCoy wasn't surprised to see the screen light up. "Leonard, thank you for this gift."

McCoy felt his face turn red. "You're welcome. Now, please, cook something, before I starve to death for both of us."

"Agreed. Please check the uplinks." Spock left the computer and went to the fridge.

"Deal" McCoy took another small sip of beer, grimaced, and went to pour it out. Sighing regretfully, he went to the computer and started a diagnostic. He glanced over at the news and grabbed for the remote.

"This is NewsBlock. We're here with Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise." The newsman paused dramatically. "What is the status of the flagship?"

"We're here for minor repairs. We've logged a few miles." Kirk grinned. "I had also hoped to attend a wedding while we're dry-docked, but we'll see."

McCoy groaned. Kirk wouldn't. He couldn't!

"Who on your ship is getting married?" the newsman asked breathlessly. He was hoping for the scoop of the year.

McCoy held his breath, and he felt Spock's anxiety. Kirk's grin never dimmed. "Captains love weddings. We get to kiss the bride." He smiled and walked away from the camera, going back up the road towards the farmhouse. McCoy let out a sigh of relief. He felt the echo.

"This is NewsBlock, reporting from Iowa. Is there marriage in the air among the senior officers on the Enterprise? Stay tuned." And the newsman was gone.

McCoy muted it again. "Well, the captain made his wishes crystal clear."

"Indeed." Spock sighed softly. "Do you wish an Earth wedding?"

"Hell no! People would start asking questions about bonds, and then you have to tell them I was your slave, because well, you never lie!" McCoy turned off the vid and stood up angrily. He was going to leave the room and go upstairs, but Spock's words stopped him.

"Leonard. You are not my slave. We are partners. And I will show you the difference, so you know it." Spock paused. "If you were my slave, I would do this, frequently."

McCoy felt the pull--the compulsion. He had to obey. He couldn't argue, and he was there, on his knees in front of Spock. "Spock-" His words bit off as the command to shut his mouth tore through him. The horror of his position rippled--he'd consented to this. Spock bent his knees, and they were face to face. "We are partners. I will never--again. Just as you could make my existence miserable in several thousand ways, by drinking beer, for instance, I could force you to do most anything. But we won't."

McCoy slowly nodded. He did see it. Spock released McCoy's speech. McCoy said softly, "Spock."

Spock kissed him. "I'm going to cook."

McCoy got up at the same time as Spock. They worked together in the kitchen, preparing the meal, and McCoy had plenty to think about while they ate. When the meal and the cleanup were finished, he went upstairs and out on the deck. Spock was puttering with the computer, and McCoy needed a moment alone. He smiled ruefully. He'd never really be alone again. He sat in a chair, shut his eyes, and tried to think only of himself. It was damn hard. Spock was everywhere. McCoy evened out his breathing and folded his hands. He had to master himself or work would be difficult. He'd be up on the bridge all the time, delivering ice cream.

//You are on the right path// Spock's word were loud and clear, not muffled as in the past.

//You're not touching me//

//It's not necessary//

McCoy felt Spock's contentment. //So get out and let me focus//

Spock was gone instantly, except that he was still there, and McCoy began again. Kalar had told him to work at it, so he would.

********

Spock turned off the computer, satisfied with the repairs. He had accessed his terminal on the Enterprise and found two messages from Vulcan. The one from his mother he'd answered, but the other was simply a declaration. He walked over to the fireplace and took a good look.

"I'll get a fire started."

"I will do it." Spock began the process. "I received a message from Kalar."

McCoy groaned. "It's bad news."

"T'Pau ordered Sadel into isolation to await the mate chosen for him. He is almost pon farr." Spock surveyed the results. It should burn.

"I bet Kalar is half-crazy." McCoy stepped over and added some small sticks. "First start the kindling, and then add the logs."

Spock found the fire starter and lit it. "Sadel will attempt to force T'Pau's hand."

"She may let him die." McCoy sat down on the sofa. "Does your father know?"

"It is certain that he does." Spock sat on the hearth and watched the flames. "What would you like to do this evening?"

McCoy groaned and cupped himself. Spock added some more wood to the fire. He felt the same. The bond had heightened his sexual awareness of his partner. McCoy smiled. "I feel like a horny teenager again."

"It is curious. Tell me what you want." Spock put up his strongest shield. "What you want."

"What I'd really like is for you to come over here and tell me what you want me to do." McCoy groaned again. "This isn't going to be easy."

Spock nodded. It was true. It wasn't 'easy' for him either. He wanted to take and take and take, but that would be wrong. Shoving it all away, he clasped his hands and refocused. He was Vulcan. He was in control. "You are correct."

"I want to thrust inside you," McCoy whispered. "For hours."

Spock could feel the raw need. They had never, but things were very different now. "I will allow it."

********

McCoy gasped. He nearly orgasmed from the simple words. "You're sure?"

"Go get the lubricant." Spock didn't have to say it twice. McCoy stripped his clothes off along the way, and when he returned, Spock had put a blanket down in front of the fire. He was wonderfully naked, and McCoy wanted to maul him. Spock pulled him down. "Go ahead. You can't hurt me."

McCoy hoped that were true. He sank into the raw need that pulsed through his body. Sucking, biting, rubbing, kissing, and moaning his way up and down Spock's body. When Spock rolled over, McCoy knew he had little time left. He tried to be gentle, but he was afraid he failed miserably, though he felt no pain from his partner. "Oh, Spock. You feel so good."

Spock didn't groan, but McCoy could feel the intense pleasure. They moved, and McCoy should have orgasmed, but Spock didn't let him. Their hearts, minds, and bodies rocked together until McCoy shoved Spock's wishes aside and released everything.

"Leonard?"

"Let me breathe a minute," McCoy gasped softly. He collapsed down on Spock and continued to move his hips. "Thank you for that."

"It was pleasurable." Spock rolled them to the side. "How many hours will you be thrusting?"

"Six or seven." McCoy laughed softly. He kissed and hugged. "T'hy'la."

Spock replied softly, "T'hy'la mine, you are beloved."

McCoy relaxed against his Vulcan. The fire burned down, and when he felt Spock grow cold, he rose to tend it. Spock watched him with dark eyes. McCoy shivered, and he knew what Spock wanted. "Stand up."

Spock eased up and sat on the hearth, being careful of the rocks. McCoy wasted no time; he knelt between long legs and lowered his mouth. Spock's pleasure swelled and swept McCoy away.

*********

McCoy heard the communication system give off its emergency call. It might be four in the morning, but he got out of bed and ran for it. Someone was hurt. "McCoy here." His voice was scratchy, and he felt Spock behind him.

"Is Spock there?" Kirk asked.

"Right behind me," McCoy said. "What do you need?"

"He needs to get to Vulcan. Right now. His father has asked for him, and him alone."

"Affirmative." Spock went to dress, and McCoy hesitated.

"McCoy, I expect you to stay at the Federation Center. Their sickbay needs an inspection, and they're expecting you. The Enterprise is standing by. Move on it."

"Aye, Captain." McCoy clicked it off and shut down his house faster than he ever had before. He dressed, threw everything in his bag, and found Spock. "Ready?"

"Yes." Spock led the way out to the new clearing not fifty feet from the house where the transporter pad would be. "Mr. Scott, two to beam up."

McCoy took a deep breath, and they were standing in the transporter room. Spock moved to the comm system. "Mr. Scott, we are aboard."

"Aye, sir."

Spock didn't slow down. He headed out the door, and McCoy followed him as far as the turbolift. "Where are you headed?"

"My quarters and then the bridge." Spock gave the command to the turbolift, and it took off. "This is about Sadel. I will come to you at the Federation Center as soon as I am able."

"I know." McCoy didn't worry about that. "Save him, if you can."

"I will try my utmost." The turbolift doors opened, and Spock strode away. McCoy leaned against the wall as he was taken to the deck where his quarters lay, and he went more slowly. He could feel Spock's concern, and it weighed heavily. McCoy threw down his bag and took a long shower, and then he packed a new bag. The Enterprise would be at Vulcan very quickly, and he scarcely had time to check in with Nurse Chapel before Scotty called them. "Dr. McCoy, report to the transporter. Mr. Spock, report to the transporter."

McCoy went and didn't take a breath until he dashed in the transporter room door. Spock was already gone, and it was McCoy's turn. He stepped up on the pad.

********

"Father." Spock bowed his head slightly. "You summoned me?"

"Yes." Sarek stood up from his workstation. "I will have to thank Captain Kirk for acting so quickly."

"He is a man of action." Spock waited. He would not be rude.

"As I'm sure you're realized, it is Sadel. He has refused the mate chosen for him." Sarek folded his hands. "And he is asking for you."

"I refuse to believe he wishes to mate with me." Spock was careful not to send this information to McCoy. "How much longer does he have?"

"Two days, at the most." Sarek lowered his head. "I will speak candidly. T'Pau made the incorrect assumption that Sadel would mate with any woman pushed through the door."

Spock had never heard his father speak so crudely, and he controlled his gasp. "He has extreme control."

"Apparently." Sarek turned away. "Go to him. Do what you can to salvage this situation. T'Pau has lost sight of her family."

"I will go right now." Spock thought that was the worst insult he had ever heard. "Where?"

"Here are the coordinates. Take our air car." Sarek nodded. "Go."

Spock went with alacrity. Sadel had little time left, and tomorrow, he might be incoherent. Where was Kalar? Spock pushed the air car to its limits and parked it inside a natural cave at the proper location. He got out and stopped. Something was not right, and he focused inside himself. //Leonard//

//Kalar is here. I had to sedate him--again//

//I may call you both to me. Be ready// Spock dampened it and went to find Sadel, and T'Pau. His father had thrown him into the path of a sandstorm, and he would have to find a way through it. Spock could challenge T'Pau and lose very little. His father had more to lose, maybe too much.

"Spock, son of Sarek."

"I am here to see Sadel--as requested." Spock bowed his head respectfully.

"He has asked for you, but I am reluctant to allow it," T'Pau snapped. "He has lost his faculties."

"Are you afraid?" Spock put his hands behind his back.

"You are insolent." T'Pau scowled at him, or McCoy would call it that. "He is defective."

"He is determined to have a choice, which you have taken from him." Spock refused to look away in weakness. "We are a civilized planet, and yet, you hold him against his will. As an officer of Star Fleet, I am bound by duty to report this to my captain."

"The Federation has no stake in this!"

"Perhaps not, but we are a member of the Federation and must follow its bylaws. I am duty bound. We are family. I would never shame you by shirking my duty." Spock took a step forward. "Your decision, please."

"My eldest daughter will take you to him. He may stay or go to his death." T'Pau turned away. "Your time will come, Spock of Vulcan."

"Indeed it will." Spock waited as T'Pau clapped her hands. Her daughter appeared and they walked together through the labyrinth to a locked door. Neither spoke, but Spock sensed disapproval. "You would have him die?"

"To preserve our traditions--yes." The daughter unlocked the door. "Would you have no children born to this planet?"

"You are short sighted and misinformed. I expected more from one of my blood." Spock pushed inside the door and made sure his shields were high and tight. Sadel was prone on a stone slab, and he was in agony. "Sadel?"

Sadel struggled to sit up, and Spock could not touch him. "Spock! Please! Take mercy on one of your family. Kill me."

"Tal-Shaya is not the answer. You are free to go." Spock pushed the door open and watched as Sadel hit the floor. "I know where Kalar is."

"So do I." Sadel staggered towards him. "I will walk if I have to, but I will not die alone."

Spock saw a robe and forced Sadel in it. "Come. I have an air car."

Sadel panted, but managed to walk out the door. Spock didn't help. He led the way back towards the cave. Sadel fell one time, but got up. He groaned and clutched his chest. Spock waited. They turned a corner, and Spock saw T'Pau's final move in this game. Sadel cried out as he passed woman after woman. He fell again and crawled. Spock would not dishonor him by touching him. The women moved closer, and Sadel cried, "I will not! I will die!"

Spock shut his eyes for a moment at the raw agony of his cousin. He stepped past and away to the air car and waited. Sadel fell inside and made a noise as if he were dying now. Spock drove faster than was prudent or legal and opened his link to McCoy. //We are coming. Kalar must be ready//

//I'll take care of it// McCoy paused. //I feel your hurt//

//Life is harsh in the desert// Spock focused on getting Sadel there. They landed, and Spock waved away a medic team. "He must do this on his own, or not at all."

The team backed away slowly. Spock looked for McCoy. //Where?//

//Lead him to me//

Spock nodded, but Sadel needed no assistance. He went straight for Kalar as if he were a lodestone. Spock followed closely but didn't interfere, and he met McCoy in a hallway. Sadel threw back his head and screamed, "Kalar!"

And Kalar was there. They clasped each other tightly, and McCoy shut the door behind them. "He still may die."

"He knows that. He chose this path, and we must honor it." Spock wouldn't pull McCoy to him. It was McCoy who put a gentle hand in Spock's hand. "Is this room monitored?"

"Yes. You can go with me, if you want, but I must." McCoy took a step, and Spock followed him.

********

McCoy thought this might be the worst thing he'd ever done--throw two men in a room and hope they didn't kill each other with sex. He initiated all the sensors and waited. Kalar was easy to read. He was fine, except for the hysteria. Sadel was in sad condition. His body was in the throes of killing him for denying his biology. "You will never do this to me."

"No." Spock sat down. McCoy could feel Spock's needs sharply. They took a breath together, and McCoy saw the increased heartbeat of both men. Spock did also. "We will know soon."

"Yes." McCoy shook his head regretfully. "T'Pau is responsible for his death."

"It has not occurred yet. If my research was flawed, he will die, and I will bear part of the responsibility." Spock spoke softly.

McCoy felt a tear track down his face. "Is it all about babies?"

"I don't believe so. I believe our minds crave the mating bond as much as our bodies. Do you know what happens to Vulcan children that don't bond with their mother?"

"They die." McCoy watched the screen intently. "Is it possible that the suppression of all emotion intensifies this mating urge?"

"Unknown, but worth researching." Spock pointed. "Kalar has orgasmed."

McCoy nodded. He'd seen it, but it didn't matter. Sadel's life signs weakened further, and it was a bad sign. McCoy groaned softly. "It's not working."

"Wait. Sadel was near death when he arrived." Spock pointed at a screen. "May I activate this?"

"You probably should." McCoy didn't want to see it, but it would be part of his job to fill out the death certificate. Star Fleet would question closely the death of a Vulcan here at the center. Spock's finger pushed, and McCoy locked down his visceral reaction. Sweat covered every inch of Sadel's body. Kalar held him tightly. Their faces locked together; their hands wrapped, and their bodies molded into one. McCoy checked Sadel's life signs again. They were low, but not dropping any further. Kalar was normal, for a man having tremendous sex, but suddenly, it spiked, and he passed out--his body going limp. McCoy stood up. His instincts overriding his good sense.

Spock took a hold of him. "Do not!"

McCoy managed to stay, but he couldn't sit any longer. He pointed. "Kalar is dying!"

"No, he is going into a healing trance." Spock squeezed McCoy's hand.

"You may be right." McCoy forced himself to sit, and he checked on Sadel again. Sadel was the same, and McCoy glanced at the screen. "I'll be damned."

"Sadel has orgasmed. That is very good news." Spock nodded. "And again."

"If he doesn't stop, that will kill him." McCoy watched Kalar's signs closely. "Kalar is definitely in a healing trance. Why?"

"He's healing Sadel." Spock clicked off the screen and sat back. "They will survive as mates."

"I wish I had your confidence." McCoy didn't need the visual anyway. "When can I send in a team of medics?"

"When Kalar begins to wake, he will need help. Sadel is in no condition. Make sure no one touches them with bare hands. Their mental pathways will be scoured."

McCoy winced at the description. "You stay here and watch. I'll go organize a few people."

"Leonard, thank you."

"Spock of Vulcan, you're welcome. Hell of a vacation."

"You have a gift for understatement."

********

Sarek bowed his head. "T'Pau."

"Your son is worthy of our name."

"He is." Sarek had always known that. Spock's unfortunate decision to participate in Star Fleet hadn't changed it. "What of Sadel?"

"Unknown. It is probable that he will die." T'Pau gestured for tea. "Males may not mate with other males."

"We shall see. May not isn't can not, and the mind is a powerful tool for achieving what one desires." Sarek sipped his tea. "My son will continue the bloodline."

"Yes. He will do great things with his life, and he will pass on that greatness." T'Pau sounded certain.

Sarek calculated the odds that she was correct. They were good odds. "You will no longer stand in the way of these few young men and their desires."

"I will do what is right for our family and our world."

"And I will inform the Elders that you would rather have our males die than have freedom of choice." Sarek spoke calmly. The tea was excellent. He should ask for the blend. "Spock is a voice among our people. He has done this, and if he succeeds, there will be no stopping it."

"Does it make you small to have sired a legend?"

Sarek faced the criticism squarely. "Great men sire great men."

T'Pau put down her tea. "You are dismissed."

"I believe I will finish my tea. It is excellent." Sarek refused to move even a centimeter. This was his day.

"Pride is an emotion." T'Pau stood up. "Drink it with your tea."

Sarek nodded. "Pride is what I feel for my son this day. You shall not take it from me."

********

"Captain Kirk to Spock."

"Spock here." Spock reached to the nightstand and flipped open his communicator. McCoy watched lazily from his side of the bed. He could feel Spock's alertness, and he didn't share it.

"Shore leave is over. We're headed to the neutral zone."

McCoy grinned and stretched. It was definitely time to go home to the Enterprise. "We thought you'd never call."

"Affirmative. We'll be ready momentarily," Spock said.

"Get home. Kirk out."

Spock snapped it shut. "Our vacation is over."

"Frankly, I'm relieved. I've had enough of bonds, blood, and T'Pau for a decade or so." McCoy rolled off the bed, tossed his bag on it, and began to get organized. He could nap in Spock's cabin on the way to the Neutral Zone. It was time to go. "Let's get out of here before something bites me or you trip over a rock!"

Spock raised his eyebrow. "Logical."

McCoy laughed. It was logical.

********

Sadel opened his eyes. //Where are we, mate?//

//The Federation Center//

//Spock?//

//They have returned to their ship//

Sadel struggled up and rejoiced in his mate. "Kalar."

Kalar reached out his hand, extending two fingers. "Sadel."

"We owe Spock our very lives," Sadel said. "Only he could have freed me from T'Pau."

"Change does not come easily to our planet." Kalar nodded. "We must face the possibility that we will become outcast."

Sadel pulled him close. "Spock was on Terra. Who called him? Logic dictates that it was Sarek, and so we are not without allies." He caressed his mate's arm. "We are together."

Kalar smiled. He would, just this once. "It is enough."

********

Kirk was glad to see his two best friends and favorite officers in the rec room sharing lunch. Things were back to normal, and he could have a game of chess later. He stood over them and managed to capture a hand from each. McCoy looked confused, and Spock raised his eyebrow. Kirk blurted the words out before he lost his grip, "By the power vested in me as captain of this fine vessel, I hereby declare you man and mate. Live long and prosper." He grinned unrepentantly and claimed his reward. "Kiss me, Bones."

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