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Star Trek (reboot) fic: Better Left Unsaid

December 18th, 2016 (05:37 pm)
indescribable

feeling: indescribable

Title: Better Left Unsaid

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

A/N: For sockie1000. I hope your Christmas is merry! And quiet! Unbeta’ed. Written after Beyond. Fills my trapped together square for hc_bingo.

Summary: The best things, the truest things, were the things you didn’t have to say.



-o-

There were few things that Leonard McCoy actively disliked more than space travel.

A meeting with his ex-wife was up there, and not even months in space at a time could make such reunions more palatable. Beaming down to unexplored planets, while everyone insisted was very exciting, was pretty low on his list of fun activities as well. He also disliked diplomatic missions, combat excursions, and regular senior staff meetings.

In short, Leonard McCoy disliked a lot of things.

Because space travel was inherently dangerous, and diplomatic mission were never simple, and they often turned into combat excursions and every time he brought up this point at senior staff meetings, they all thought he was crazy.

As for his ex-wife, well, she was the reason he’d seen fit to leave Earth’s atmosphere in the first place, so this was all really her fault.

And what made it all worse? What was the miserable cherry on top of the horrific cake?

Doing all of it, trapped in a confined space, with a Vulcan.

-o-

“While I do not think our presence was fully incidental, I do not believe we were the intended targets,” Spock said.

McCoy grimaced, shifting in his spot while holding his ribs gingerly. “Is that supposed to make me feel better?”

Spock gave a nonplussed look. He was such a Vulcan jackass. “In a manner of speaking, yes,” Spock said, as though it was obvious. “Our current situation, though unfortunate, is no fault of our own, nor does it impede the intent of our mission.”

McCoy gave a sharp, bitter laugh, ignoring the way the movement lanced pain up and down his body. “You’re still worried about the mission?”

“Our diplomatic ties with the Aurellian people could have a dramatic impact on Starfleet’s alliance throughout this sector,” Spock explained. “If we can assure them that we are still interested in moving forward--”

“Moving forward?” McCoy interjected in disbelief. “How the hell are we supposed to move forward when we’re literally trapped? Our negotiations can’t go anywhere until they manage to find us under the meeting house the opposition group literally dropped through the ground.”

“More reason to think of ourselves as fortunate,” Spock told him. “The magnitude of the blast, the distance we feel, the scope of the destruction -- there is every reason to suspect that we should have died in the blast.”

McCoy leveled the science officer with a glare. “Gee, that makes me feel much better.”

Spock noted the sarcasm with an incline of his head. “Your negativity is counterproductive.”

“My negativity?” McCoy asked, aghast. “I didn’t even want to be on this mission in the first place! Why send a medical doctor, I said. And you all fawned and insisted that we could make it a half-diplomatic mission, half-humanitarian mission. Pair the two together, you said. It will help our cause.”

“It did indeed make an impression on the Aurellian public,” Spock said.

“And the Aurellian resistance,” McCoy snapped. “Who literally tried to blow us out of the sky.”

“More apt, they tried to blow us into the ground,” Spock corrected.

McCoy didn’t trust himself to speak.

Spock drew a breath and sighed. As if he had the audacity to be exasperated. “If being trapped is so offensive, then maybe we should try to devise a way out?”

“Oh, really? You think?”

Spock gave him a stern look. “Your sarcasm is not helpful, Doctor.”

“And your logic does,” McCoy muttered. He huffed, trying to get to his feet. “Now shut up and help me up. Because if I have to be stuck down here another second with you, I might try to blow myself up this time.”

-o-

McCoy wasn’t about to admit it, but Spock was right. They were lucky. Granted, McCoy didn’t know anything about structural engineering or amunitions, but given the small pocket they were stuck in, it was pretty obvious that their survival had been against the odds. Poking around at all made this even more apparent, since the rubble revealed very little left intact and virtually no possible escape.

“I believe that we were spared by the weight of the columns,” Spock said, nodding to the crumbling metal structures girding the debris above their heads. “Although the walls and ceiling were destroyed in the blast, these columns were undamaged. Since they were not merely decorative, they provided substantial protection when we fell.”

Squinting up through the debris in the dimness, McCoy winced. “That’s good for now,” he said. “But how do we get out?”

Spock exhaled heavily, stepping back. “I don’t believe we do.”

McCoy stopped. “Excuse me?”

Spock lifted his shoulders to shrug. “I’m afraid that too much additional shifting of the debris could prove catastrophic.”

“As opposed to our current situation?” McCoy snapped.

“Doctor, we are currently alive and decently protected. We have no idea how much debris is on top of us, nor do we know exactly how deep we have fallen into the tunnels beneath the Aurellian capital,” he said. “What we do know is that moving this debris without an accurate understanding of how it is stacked on top of us could upset the entire balance. One wrong move and our good fortune may be over.”

McCoy stared at him, wishing that the logic didn’t make sense. “You’re saying that the options are be crushed or be trapped?”

“Crude, but apt,” Spock said.

Groaning, McCoy sank back down to the ground, letting his head drop back. “Well, this keeps getting better and better.”

-o-

Although McCoy was prone to complaining, he was still more than willing to do his part in this whole starship exploration deal. He didn’t shy away from responsibility, and, in a crisis, he was always willing to serve and help. Just because he didn’t always do it with a smile on his face didn’t mean he was unwilling.

That was why he’d ultimately come on this mission. Jim could have ordered him, but McCoy didn’t need to make him. Protest as he might, he’d come ready to work.

Because, despite the odds, he liked making a difference. It made all the undesirable parts a little bit more worth it.

It was a balance, after all. Why did no one else see that? Why was everyone else so sold on the good that they neglected the bad? Why did a blind sense of adventure make everyone else in uniform forget that sometimes -- a lot of the time -- it was just plain annoying.

“Are you sure you’re feeling well, Doctor?” Spock asked.

McCoy wrinkled his nose. They’d sat down again, across from each other in the small space, and though there was no source of light, he could still see Spock’s face in the haze. “Are you a doctor now, too, in addition to a diplomat?”

“I am neither, I’m afraid,” Spock said. “However, I do have good observational skills and the ability to logically deduce under most circumstances.”

McCoy huffed, letting his eyes close again as he tipped his head back. “Wonderful. I feel much better.”

“Actually, the evidence contradicts you on that point.”

McCoy opened his eyes to slits again, just enough to glare.

“You have been favoring your ribs substantially since we woke up, and you have neglected to tend to the wound that is still bleeding along your hairline.”

“I felt it,” McCoy muttered. “It didn’t break the bone, so there’s a hairline fracture at best.”

“Have you considered the possibility of a concussion?” Spock asked.

“Of course I have,” McCoy snapped. “Dizziness, nausea, pounding headache. I got a building dropped on me; if all I have is a concussion, then I actually am lucky.”

“To my point,” Spock said. He inclined his head toward McCoy. “Your ribs.”

At this, McCoy scowled. He wasn’t sure if he didn’t like the idea of Spock playing doctor or if he just didn’t like the idea of Spock expressing actual concern about him. Either way, he didn’t much have the patience for it now. “My breathing is uncompromised,” he said. “Abdomen is soft. I’m fine.”

They lapsed into silence for a moment, and McCoy let himself relax, thinking possibly, maybe Spock had taken pity on him.

The Vulcan cleared his throat.

McCoy suppressed a groan. So much for that.

“I have no reason to doubt your abilities as a doctor,” Spock said.

“Then don’t,” McCoy muttered.

“However, if our positions were reversed,” Spock started. “I believe you would take more proactive measures.”

Proactive measures. That was the Vulcan way of saying immediate care. They hadn’t forgotten, after all, what had happened before. They didn’t talk about it, though. They didn’t talk about McCoy’s extreme surgery; they didn’t talk about McCoy carrying Spock around. They didn’t talk about the things they said, the things they almost said.

The fact that they didn’t have to was what made things work between them.

“I’m fine,” McCoy said, quieter this time. He met Spock’s gaze through the dark. “Keeping still, really is the best thing for me.”

“If you’re sure,” Spock replied.

McCoy managed a faint smile. “I’m sure.”

About that, yes.

About everything else?

That was another story.

-o-

Their communication devices didn’t work. Buried under the ground, there was no guarantee their life signatures would be picked up on sensors. Even if they were, the Enterprise probably would be unable to obtain a strong enough lock to beam them out, which meant they would have to wait for more traditional rescue measures.

In other words, they would have to wait.

For all that getting trapped underground in a massive explosion was climactic, the waiting was anything but. It was long; it was uncomfortable; it was boring.

Worse, it was interminable.

“While I do understand Nyota’s hesitation, I have to admit that I find it somewhat spurious,” Spock was saying, completely unprovoked. “Her reasons are valid, but have obvious counterarguments that I know she has considered and would have to yield if pushed. Which makes me conclude that the problem is not that starting a family would be inconvenient given our lifestyle, but that she is simply uncertain whether or not she wants to be a mother.”

McCoy inhaled, holding his breath against the stiffness in his ribs. His stomach churned uncomfortably, and he held in a grimace.

“The tension is, of course, understandable,” Spock continued. “Because she would be a dedicated mother, which would make her commitment to Starfleet problematic. I would not want her to sacrifice her career, and yet I would also want to ensure that we were giving the best to any child we may bring into this world. That is why I have considered the possibility of stepping away myself.”

He had been on like this for nearly an hour now. He knew, because he’d asked, and Spock had told him the time without missing a beat and starting up his monologue again.

“Naturally, the chance to raise one’s child is singular, and it would be a privilege,” Spock said. “But I would hesitate to leave my place on the crew. I feel as though I have made a commitment that I do not wish to shirk.”

McCoy moved, trying to find a more comfortable position. It didn’t help; new waves of pain simmered in his gut and pounded in his head. “You know,” McCoy said. “You could stay on duty; Nyota could stay on duty; and I’ll stay home with the baby.”

Pausing, Spock gave him a genuinely quizzical look. “Why would you do that?”

“Because I don’t even like space travel to begin with!” he exclaimed. He made a face, keeping his pain levels in check. “Besides, I’m great with kids.”

Spock raised his eyebrow. “Somehow I find that curious.”

McCoy scoffed. “I find you curious,” he said. “Now shut up and let me rest.”

Closing his eyes, there was a second of reprieve.

“Despite the fact that I know you are jesting, I am quite flattered,” Spock said. “That you would even think to spend time with my child.”

McCoy resisted the urge to cry as it started up again.

-o-

One hour, two hours, three hours, four. Spock had a billion reasons why such a wait was normal, even to be expected. He could rationalize it in the most logical way possible, but that didn’t change the fact that this whole damn mission felt like it was never going to end.

His head ached. His chest hurts. His stomach groaned. And all he wanted to do was sleep.

Of all the times for the Vulcan to feel chatty.

“This is why I think the captain made a good choice in waiting for the Enterprise to be recommissioned,” Spock said. “While it seems a bit sentimental at first, I have found that the sense of solidarity has a positive impact on the crew. I may not appease my own emotions, but I have seen the value in acknowledging them with a largely human crew.”

“Acknowledging emotions?” McCoy asked, looking at Spock lazily. He didn’t have the energy to lift his head, much less muster a tone of annoyance. “You?”

“I will admit, it seems illogical,” Spock conceded. “But Vulcans do not ignore emotion, as you often perceive. We simply do not let it control us.”

“Huh,” McCoy said. “You know, for a species that doesn’t let emotion control you, you sure do use it to control others.”

Spock tilted his head. “I do not understand your inference, doctor.”

“You’ve annoyed me into submission,” he said, too tired to snap now. “I surrender, okay? You win.”

“I do not believe it was a contest,” Spock ventured.

“Whatever,” McCoy said with a miserable shake of his head. “You win anyway.”

-o-

Then, McCoy got cold. The hour got later, and the temperature seemed to drop by ten degrees. Worse, he was hungry, and his mouth was parched. Without any type of rations, though, all he had to go on was Spock logical promise that help was surely on its way.

“The captain will not leave us until he has definitive proof of our deaths,” Spock said.

McCoy let out a long breath, which left him feeling nauseated. He breathed in through his nose.

“I am quite certain he has every member of the crew searching for us as we speak,” Spock said. “All we have to do is wait.”

Spock made it sound so easy.

Spock, however, was a bastard.

-o-

“Doctor.”

McCoy didn’t open his eyes.

“Doctor.”

Contrarily, McCoy squeezed them shut tighter. He’d just now fallen asleep, and he wasn’t about to let Spock ruin that.

“Doctor McCoy.”

Not that Spock wasn’t trying. For the love of all that was good and holy, he was a stubborn Vulcan.

“Leonard.”

It was his name; it was the inflection.

McCoy opened his eyes, just a crack. He was surprised to find Spock in front of him now, eyes peering at him intently, hands on his shoulders.

“You were falling asleep,” Spock said, matter of fact.

“That’s because I’m tired,” McCoy grumbled, trying to pull away again.

That was a mistake, though. Pain erupted so intensely that he blacked out for a moment. Before he could protest, Spock had eased him back, lifting up his shirt. Logical, Vulcan hands were against his stomach, pressing down.

“Hey!” McCoy protested.

Spock sat back, his expression almost grim. “Your abdomen,” he said. “Please, check it.”


Brow furrowed, McCoy was shaking his head.

“Doctor,” Spock said, more forcefully now. “Check your abdomen.”

Reaching down, his fingers felt numb, but he could feel the cold flesh of his exposed stomach. Pressing down, the familiar give was gone. The skin was tense, the muscles beneath it rigid.

“Oh,” McCoy said, the diagnosis coalescing in his head. “Rigid abdomen.”

“Internal bleeding?” Spock asked.

“Yeah,” McCoy concluded, the numbness spreading throughout his body. “Yeah.”

“Tell me what I can do,” Spock said.

McCoy swallowed hard against a sudden lump in his throat. He didn’t have his supplies; they’d gotten lost in the explosion. Even if he did have his bag, there was only so much he could do without comprehensive measures. Makeshift surgery for an abdominal internal bleed was suicide, even assuming he could perform it on himself.

Which meant.

McCoy let his eyes lock on Spock’s. “Nothing,” he said, licking dry lips. “There’s nothing you can do.”

-o-

You would think, given the grim diagnosis, that Spock might be quiet about things finally.

If anything, the opposite was true.

As the hours stretched on, Spock kept talking. He talked about family planning with Nyota. He talked about sword fighting with Sulu. He talked about the warp drive with Scotty. He talked about Russian history with Chekov.

And he talked a lot about missions with the captain.

He talked about the balance of the three of them, about how it worked when it probably shouldn’t. He talked about the family he’d lost on Vulcan and the one he’d found on the Enterprise.

He talked about the absence of fear and the power of it. He talked about how logic and emotion could bring you to the same conclusion more often than you think.

And when there was nothing left to say, he propped McCoy up and held him close, easing away the pain as the hours dwindled away and the only logical thing left to do was let go.

-o-

The rest happened in blurs, snatches of time. McCoy remembered the rescue, sort of. He remembered a blinding light and a rush of air. He remembered voices and sounds and movement and pain.

But mostly, he remembered Spock, right next to him, hand on his shoulder.

“Almost there, Leonard,” he said, voice surprisingly soft. “We’re almost there.”

-o-

When he really woke up, however, he was back on Enterprise in sickbay. Craning his neck, he got a good look at his vital and then promptly picked at the bandage over his stomach and examined it with a frown.

“I am fairly confident that you are not supposed to touch that,” Spock said.

McCoy looked up, somehow not surprised to see the Vulcan waiting not far away. “I’m a doctor,” he said, covering his healing healing back up. “I know what I’m doing.”

“Seeing as you have been unconscious for nearly 24 hours, I’m not sure you do,” Spock said with a pointed look.

McCoy understood the implications. This had been a near thing, nearer than he’d thought. No doubt, he’d required surgery and probably a blood transfusion. Infection would remain a lingering possibility, which meant he was looking at several days in bed, a week more in his quarters recovering.

More to the point, he looked at Spock. That meant the Vulcan had been with him through the worst of it. He’d seen McCoy’s deteriorating condition and kept him warm and awake.

Hell, those two factors alone had probably saved his life.

Spock had saved his life.

“Spock,” he began, hedging a little bit as he felt chagrined. “Back on the planet, what you did for me while we were trapped--”

“It was nothing you would not have done for me,” Spock said with a plaintive nod.

“Still,” McCoy said. “All that time you spent with me, and you didn’t give up. And the things you were telling me, I was so busy being annoyed, I didn’t even realize--”

Spock hadn’t wanted to tell McCoy those things, not really. He’d found something, anything to talk about to keep him awake. The fact that he’d bared his soul in the most intimate ways possible was just a side point. The fact that he’d been willing to be that vulnerable, that was what mattered.

“I know I give you a hard time, but I should say it more often--”

“Leonard,” Spock said, stepping closer now. “I do not require you to say it.”

That was how it was between them. That was how it was.

The best things, the truest things, were the things you didn’t have to say.

They were the things you knew.

Spock knew.

McCoy knew.

Nodding his head, Spock stepped back once more. “You have quite a bit of recovery,” he said. “I believe what you need now is rest.”

“I don’t know,” McCoy said, shrugging just slightly. “I wouldn’t mind a little company. If you’re not in a hurry, that is.”

Spock tilted his head. He didn’t smile, because Vulcan’s didn’t smile, but he found a seat on the bed next to McCoy. “If that is the case,” he said, getting himself settled. “I may have a few minutes.”