Fortune's Favoured Child
Sickbay always made Spock acutely uncomfortable and 
McCoy's private office was worse but, on this occasion, he 
could see no alternative. He steepled his fingers, looked over 
them at the Doctor and sought the information he required. 
"I have become increasingly concerned about the Captain's 
health, particularly since we left Deneva," he said. "I am 
unfamiliar with the human experience of grief, however the 
Captain's response does not resemble those few examples
of the phenomenon I have observed. I would, therefore, be
grateful if you could inform me whether it still falls within the 
range of the normal."

McCoy stared at him, open-mouthed and for a second felt a
familiar tide of anger well up inside him. The thought "of all 
the cold-blooded, inhuman..." formed and then died in the 
face of a sudden insight. Spockwasn't unfeeling at all, he was 
asking about his friend and, if thelanguage wasn't what McCoy 
was used to hearing, it only went to prove that Spock wasn't 
the usual kind of friend. He looked at the figure sitting stiffly 
at the other side of his desk and felt something perilously akin 
to affection. And you'd rather be anywhere than here, asking 
anyone but me, he realised, a touch sadly. 

Hurriedly he marshalled his thoughts, determined to be as factual
and unemotional as possible. "No, Spock, the Captain's response
isn't normal at all. Grief in humans isn't just an emotion, it's a...
a... a process, a journey with recognised stages and stopping
points. What Jim is doing is refusing to start the journey at all."
He swallowed painfully, wishing vainly for a stiff drink. "He isn't
coping with his grief, Spock, he's refusing to acknowledge its
existence and the only way he can do that is to shut his emotions
down altogether. Now maybe that's a good idea for Vulcans -
I don't know - but it's a real bad idea for him. He has to prevent
himself thinking and feeling and the only way he can do that is to
cut himself off from all personal contact and fill every second of
his waking hours with constant activity, no matter how useless."

He shrugged tiredly. "The Enterprise must have the most up-to-
date paperwork in the Fleet and if I have to do another emergency 
drill I think I'll scream. God knows what he does with his off-
duty hours, he sure as hell isn't spending them with any of us 
and I don't reckon he does much sleeping either."

"He plays chess."

"With you?" Hopefully.

"No, against the computer. Three or four timed, speed games
every night." Spock looked at McCoy who thought he detected a
certain uneasiness. "You understand Doctor, I was not spying on
him, the use logs are displayed automatically." McCoy flapped a
hand at him and Spock, recognising the acceptance in the gesture,
continued. "The logs also show he is winning 37.3% of the games,
which argues for a level of concentration rarely achievable on
board a ship on active service."

There was a moment's silence as each contemplated the picture
of their friend, alone in his cabin, night after night, fighting his
demons with paperwork and chess.

Spock summoned his fortitude. He was finding this conversation
even more difficult than he had anticipated; involving as it did a
discussion of emotions of which he knew little and understood
less with a man whose rampant emotionalism he found disturbing
at the best of times, which this was not. However, something had
to be done, and McCoy was the only person on board with whom
he could discuss the matter. He looked at the Human warily.
"Doctor, we both know that he needs help, we also know that he
will not ask for it."

McCoy clamped down hard on the instinctive anger. "I know
that, Spock. I just don't know what to do about it. He's avoiding
me. He won't talk to me and I have no medical grounds for
ordering him to." He spread his hands in a gesture of helplessness.
"There's nothing wrong with him professionally, look at the way
he ran the Deneva operation until the relief ships arrived and this
ship couldn't be more efficient if the C in C were aboard. He even
started eating again as soon as he realised all that weight loss was
giving me an excuse to haul his ass in here."

He looked down at his hands. "And besides, I'm not sure what I
could say to him," he looked up to see an eyebrow arch and felt
irritation rise again. "Oh come on Spock, think about it! This
didn't start on Deneva - this isn't just about Sam. He's been like 
this since we all got back from 1930, it just got buried while we
dealt withthose blasted cell-things. I can't blame him for not 
wanting to talkto me after what I did to him and I've no idea 
what I'd say to him if he did. How the hell do you apologise 
for something like that?"

"Doctor, your involvement was entirely accidental," said Spock,
attempting to subdue his exasperation at yet another example of
the human tendency to personalise problems.

"Spock, if one of my staff was that careless with a hypo I'd
kick his or her ass all the way to Rigel and back. Anyway it's 
not just that," he felt himself flush. "There's what I said to him 
in the Transporter Room when we got back."

He had been trembling with rage, angered beyond all hope of
control by what he had thought he had seen and, as soon as the
three of them were alone, he had shouted his anger in words 
that still kept him awake nights, sweating. Kirk had looked 
through him, his face white and expressionless and then left 
the room without speaking,leaving Spock to explain to an 
appalled and incredulous Doctor the truth about the death of 
Edith Keeler. "I tried to see him next day. All I got was a 
computer memo, 'I don't need to see you, I know what you 
want to say and it isn't necessary. I don't blame you, you 
shouldn't blame yourself. Kirk.' He hasn't gotten any closer to 
talking about it since."

Spock was uncomprehending. "If he does not blame you, I do
not understand why your self-blame is of any relevance. Surely 
all that matters is that he needs help."

Anger flared suddenly. "I don't see you doing s'damn much!"

"I do not have your skill in these matters. I do my best to
understand intellectually but I cannot empathise as you do. Put 
simply, Doctor, I do not know what to do and I fear that 
anything I attempt may make things worse." Gripped by his 
own troubles, McCoy entirely failed to hear the pain in the 
even voice.

"It isn't easy for me either, Spock. How the hell do I help him
when I'm half the reason he needs help in the first place?" 
He looked at the Vulcan and felt again the gulf between them. 
"Oh what's the use? I don't suppose you even know what guilt

Spock looked at him gravely. "Doctor," he said quietly, "I
persuaded him of the necessity of Miss Keeler's death, I know 
only too well."

McCoy's indignation collapsed and he nodded, honoured by the
confidence. Maybe the gulf wasn't that big after all. "Ironic isn't
it? We're his two best friends - and don't bother to deny it,
Spock, I know what he means to you - and we can't help him. 
You because you don't know how and me because I'm part of 
the problem."

He gave into temptation and, opening a drawer of his desk,
pulled out a bottle of bourbon. Discussing emotional matters 
with Spock (of all people) was thirsty work. He looked at the 
Vulcan and was unsurprised but unoffended by his refusal. 
He poured himself a hefty slug. "If he's not willing to talk 
about it we're just going to have to give him time to cope with 
it on his own. I just wish we hadn't been called to Starbase 11. 
The last thing he needs is another excuse to postpone dealing 
with it. Any idea what's going on?"

Spock shook his head. "I have no direct information, however
the fact that the entire Guardian world landing party, including
security, is ordered to report to Commodore Stone's office would
seem significant." McCoy nodded as Spock got to his feet, his
expression pensive. "Thank you Doctor. This conversation has
been most instructive."

"Any time, Spock, any time."

Spock paused in the doorway. "And by the way Doctor," he said,
"I had no intention of denying it," and he went out, leaving
McCoy with his first smile in what felt like weeks.

Three days later they all gathered in the Transporter Room and,
as they took up position on the pads, it was obvious to McCoy
that, while nobody knew exactly why they were there, he wasn't
the only one reacting to the summons with deep foreboding.

They rematerialised on Starbase 11 and, in the brief dizziness that
followed, McCoy could see Kirk glancing round the Transporter
Hall, an automatic reflex after so many landings on potentially
hostile planets. Then McCoy saw him freeze, his eyes widening in
startled horror.

"Oh no!"

Then Captain's whispered words were loaded with so much
exhausted dismay that Spock, the only person whose hearing
was acute enough to pick them up, looked round the room, trying 
to discover what had triggered the reaction. Apart from the 
operating personnel, the only other beings present were a group
of perhaps twenty humanoids of a type he did not recognise who 
were queuing patiently, heads bowed, for their turn to step onto 
the pads.

He examined them quickly, apart from their entirely hairless
heads and the lack of external ears, they appeared wholly 
earth-human. Indeed their robes, resembling those of medieval 
monks, even gave them a faintly benevolent air. He looked 
back at Kirk in time to see him visibly bracing himself to face 
something, although he realised from the slump of the gold-
clad shoulders that, whatever the Captain expected to happen, 
it wasn't going to be dangerous.

Then one of the humanoids raised his head and caught sight of
the party from the Enterprise. His mouth fell open in an 
expression of startled, transfigured joy and he dropped to his 
knees with a cry of something that sounded like "Ma'atahai!"

The rest of the group, alerted by the cry, looked up and then
they too dropped to their knees, stretching out their hands in 
a gesture of unmistakable reverence, the same word on their 
lips repeated over and over in a deep, bass chant which after 
a few seconds seemed to reverberate with subharmonics and 
overtones which the humans found troubling and Spock found 
positively painful.

The chant stopped abruptly as Kirk stepped forward and
extended his hands, palms downwards, over their heads. He 
addressed thembriefly in a musical language, rich in vowels, 
which he appeared to speak fluently, then he glanced 
backwards, gathering his crew back under his command and 
led them off the platform, threading his way between the 
kneeling figures, pausing to press the thumb of his left hand 
against each raised forehead as he passed.

Spock, walking as ever at Kirk's shoulder, saw them drop back
to sit on to their heels as they were touched, seeming to collapse 
under the gentle gesture as though beneath a heavy weight.

They left the Transporter Hall and, once in the ugly grey corridor
outside, Kirk turned abruptly and walked away from them to
stand apart, leaning against the wall with his head bent, 
supporting himself on one outstretched arm, the other hand 
over his eyes.

Everybody looked at him and then, as one, at the doctor, expecting
him to take up his usual role as the only member of the crew who
could and would intervene in the Captain's troubles. McCoy shook
his head, he was the last person Kirk would want to talk to and,
catching a significant glance from Spock, he gathered up the two
red shirts Hendricks and Schneider and took them off towards the
Commodore's office.

In the end it was Mr Scott who, with a snort of exasperation,
started towards the Captain, followed uneasily by Uhura and i
mpassively by Spock - the Bridge crew, rallying round.

Scott put a hand on his Captain's shoulder. "Are ye all right?" he
asked gently, conscious that the only possible honest answer was
'no'. Kirk, however, nodded and pushed himself off the wall to
stand upright and face them.

"Yeah, I'm all right," he said wearily. "It's just...," he waved a
hand towards the Transporter Hall. "They think ingratitude is 
the basest of all sins and ritual acceptance is the only way to 
stop them doing it." Then with sudden heat."I hate it, the medal 
was bad enough but this..." He shook his head.

"Captain, who are they?" Without more information Spock
knew he had no chance of understanding, let alone helping.

Kirk smiled tiredly, acknowledging the unsatisfactory nature of
his 'report'. "They are the Karagai, Spock, and after all these 
years they still think they ought to be grateful. There's fifteen 
million of them altogether. You can't imagine what that's like - 
unearned gratitude from fifteen million people." The last phrase 
was spoken very softly.

"You appear to speak their language with remarkable fluency."

"Hypno-tutor - cost me a month's pay and I saw double for a
week. Worth it though, it once took me two days to get them 
to leave me alone." He shivered slightly. "How long before 
we're due in Commodore Stone's office?"

"4.7 minutes."

"Right, wait here a minute." He walked a few paces away and
turned his back on them. They watched curiously as he 
consciously relaxed his shoulders and neck, circling slightly to 
release the tension. Then he dropped his head, breathed in 
deeply through his nose and exhaledthrough his mouth, 
expelling his breath forcefully. After two or three such breaths, 
he suddenly flung back his head and drew himself bolt 
upright. As he walked back to them, he seemed to have become
somehow larger, brighter, more impressive; the tired, vulnerable
human being had been replaced by The Captain, confident,
commanding, untouched.

Uhura at least was faintly appalled; she had never seen anyone just
switch on charisma before. She was also, she was forced to admit
to herself, flattered that he had allowed her to see it. Kirk must
have read something of her confusion in her face because his lips
twitched slightly.

"No need to look like that, Lieutenant," he said briskly, "I don't do
it on board. Some situations just require... a little extra, that's

They headed for the Commodore's office and she found herself
wondering if the change she had just been permitted to witness
was not merely an aid to command but also a shield against the
outside world. She felt again the curious sensation she had last
felt as an adolescent, that she was finally being allowed a glimpse
of the adult world. Now as then she felt the slight sting of fear
beneath the pleasure of inclusion.
The Commodore's news was wholly unwelcome. The reports on
the Guardian incident had finally reached Starfleet Command and
the entire landing party was ordered to Memory Alpha for
deep-level de-briefing. Experts from all over the Federation in
the fields of intelligence, temporal physics, history and ethics were
gathering to examine them and their experiences.

Spock who, had he consulted only his own inclinations, might have
appreciated an opportunity to discuss the phenomena he had
witnessed, realised that for his shipmates the experience was likely
to prove a huge ordeal.

Kirk, although he had gone shockingly pale, was still wearing the
shield he had constructed in the corridor outside and as such was
impossible to read, at least without physical contact. However, Spock
had seen too much, both in 1930 and on Deneva, to doubt the
existence of what Vulcans called La'saran, the pain that defies

McCoy was much easier to interpret. His guilt was almost tangible
to Spock who regretted it, not only as a fact, but also because it
prevented two friends receiving the help that each could only
accept from the other.

Uhura and Scott were uneasy too. Although neither knew precisely
what had happened once the other three had passed through the
Guardian, both had seen enough of the effect on their
fellow-officers and friends to be concerned.

Fortunately perhaps, everybody else's reaction to their new
assignment was drowned in the noisy uproar from Mr Scott
when he heard that he was not to be present while the Enterprise
was undergoing the repairs which were to be the ostensible
reason for the call to Starbase 11. For five entire minutes he
fulminated, threatened, pleaded, badgered and cajoled, all to no
avail. It was a measure of his value to Starfleet that he was not
arrested on the spot for insubordination.

Kirk let him wind down and then asked, "How do we get there?"

"We'll go in my cutter - it's warp-capable and there's just about
room for all of us and before you ask, I've been ordered there as
well. This all happened in my sector - I'm supposed to know what's
going on."

Kirk rose to his feet. "In that case there seems little else to be
said, what time do you want to leave?"

If Stone was irritated by Kirk taking command of the meeting he
did not show it. "0800 tomorrow," he said and with that the meeting

The little cutter left promptly the next morning. It was a small,
elderly but still speedy craft with a crew of two under a middle-aged
Lieutenant-Commander called Calcroft, who was not at all pleased
to be ordered to share her cabin with Uhura. However, since they
were all doubling up, there was no choice.

It was years since any of the Enterprise's command crew had been
obliged to share cabins and McCoy at least found, somewhat to his
surprise, that he was glad of it. At least sharing a cabin with Scotty
meant he wasn't left alone with his own thoughts which were
becoming increasingly painful. If only he hadn't been so horribly
careless with that hypo, if only he hadn't beamed down to the
planet, if only he'd kept his big mouth shut in the Transporter
Room, if only, if only, if only ...

He knew that the longer they left it, the harder it was getting to
recapture their old relationship, and he hadn't realised just how
important that relationship was until now, when he seemed likely
to lose it altogether.

He also soon realised that, away from the ship that was both his
work and his home, Kirk was finding it impossible not to give in to
full-blown depression. McCoy had de-briefed the Captain after
Psi 2000 and knew all about his friend's perception of his
relationship with the Enterprise as one in which the ship was
parasitic on his life, a drain on his strength, a barrier to his
forming other relationships. Now and for the first time McCoy
realised the mistake they had both made; the relationship was not
parasitic but symbiotic. Kirk drew as much from the ship as the
ship drew from him and, without the ship to draw on, he was
frighteningly vulnerable to the griefs of the last two months.

Everybody else was keeping busy, Scotty had met a soul mate in
Engineer Riccordi and they had both settled down to
reconfiguring the cutter's impulse engines, using Hendricks and
Schneider as labourers, Uhura was teaching the cutter's young
Ensign how to get the best out of his antiquated commsboard and
Spock and McCoy himself both had Denevan data to work up.

But there are few people more surplus to requirements than
a captain on someone else's ship and, with nothing to occupy his
mind or body, Jim must now be prey to all the thoughts and feelings
he had worked so hard and so successfully to suppress aboard the
Enterprise. And now he did not even have the prospect of privacy
in which to release his grief, Kirk and Spock were sharing a cabin,
and McCoy knew it would be a cold day in hell before Kirk
subjected his friend to the sort of emotional outpouring that such
a release would entail.

He watched in dismay as Kirk grew increasingly silent and
withdrawn, spending much of his time reading and re-reading the
last few letters from his brother and staring out of the tiny
observation window in the Mess, watching the stars go by. Judging
by his appearance, what little sleep he got did him no good.

McCoy had resolved to speak once they were aboard the cutter
but somehow the time never seemed quite right; the ship was too
cramped, they were never alone and after a few days of hesitation
he began to wonder if, subconsciously, he hadn't been avoiding
the confrontation all along, accepting his friend's reticence without
protest because he himself was unwilling to face up to it all.

He was finding it increasingly difficult to think clearly about what
had happened. Somehow his own contribution to his friend's
anguish was clouding his instincts, the enormity of what he had
done stood in his way, a roadblock on the way back to what they
both were. Soon the very sight of his friend became a reproach to
him, and he avoided Kirk as much as he could in such a small ship
and hated himself for doing so.

The journey itself was dull and uneventful, although the
atmosphere aboard the little cutter was distinctly uneasy as the
Enterprise crew contemplated whatever awaited them at Memory

The monotony was broken one night, six days out from Starbase
Eleven. Calcroft and Uhura had soon struck up a friendship founded
on a common passion for music. Calcroft had a warm, creamy
contralto and the two women's voices blended sweetly as they sang
duets to an entranced audience of whoever could cram into the
tiny Mess.

Kirk sitting with his back to a bulkhead, a glass of brandy in his
hand, seemed content to listen, his shoulders relaxed gradually and
the look of hard-held control faded until only the exhaustion
showed on his face. McCoy, watching while trying to look as
though he wasn't, hoped that the relaxation might at least give his
friend a night of real sleep.

The change occurred after about an hour of music. Calcroft was a
collector of popular songs from the 19th and 20th Centuries and
had programmed a little music unit to provide accompaniment.
Singing alone for once, she began a simple song, the words
repeating, the tune gentle and insinuating. Quite suddenly and for
no apparent reason Kirk slammed his glass onto the table, lurched
to his feet and shouldered his way roughly out of the room, his fists
clenched, his whole body wound tight. As he passed McCoy, the
doctor caught a glimpse of his pale face. The expression on it was
so bleak and spoke of so much bitter knowledge McCoy had
to cover his own eyes with his hand.

When he eventually looked up, he saw Spock watching him gravely
as Ensign Malik hurried to wipe up the spilled liquor. Riccordi liked
"his" ship kept spotless.

Just then the ship's intercom spoke, "Commander Calcroft to the
Bridge please, we are receiving a Mayday." There was a bustle of
movement as those on duty, and the off-duty but curious, left for
the Bridge.

As the room emptied, Spock came over and sat opposite McCoy,
folding his hands on the table between them. McCoy looked
down, unable to meet his eyes.

"Doctor, how much longer do you intend to allow this to

McCoy opened his mouth to bluster and then found that
the words wouldn't come, he shrugged helplessly and Spock
continued, "I do not underestimate the difficulty of your
position, however, you cannot let that stand in your way."

McCoy slammed his fist on the table, remorse fuelling his anger.
"So that's your advice is it? 'Get over it'. Listen to me, you green
blooded..." He stopped, his concentration broken, as Spock flung
up a hand to silence him and tilted his head, as though listening hard.

Spock held the position for several seconds, motionless and intent,
his concentration almost palpable, then he leapt to his feet and left
the Mess at a run.

McCoy started after him unaccountably worried but, before he
too could leave the room, there was a huge, hollow BOOM and
the whole ship shuddered and lurched to one side, sweeping people
off their feet and setting the red alert sounding. He struggled back
back up and out into the corridor, and was almost bowled over by
Stone as the commodore headed for the Bridge closely followed by
Kirk. McCoy managed to tuck himself into a corner and watched.

Calcroft scanned the sensors. "The Mayday was a fake, we're
caught in a tractor beam."

"Can we break free?" This from Stone.

Spock had taken over the Science Station to the relief of the young
ensign who normally manned it. "Negative, all ship's systems
except life support have been seized and we have no weapons or
communications. We are being taken in tow by a much larger
vessel of unknown origin presently off our port bow."

Calcroft punched her console and brought the other ship up on
screen, a long, thin, needle-shape of oddly malevolent appearance.

"If they were going to blast us they'd have done it by now." The
quiet voice was Kirk's. "They want prisoners, we'd better dump the
data cores before they beam us off."

Spock looked at Calcroft, it was after all her ship, but she nodded
and swiftly she and Spock initiated the manual wipe of all the
classified data stored on the ship's computers. McCoy left the
Bridge to get his medical kit (somebody was bound to get hurt)
and as he came back out of his cabin he saw Kirk and Spock
standing in the corridor, heads bent together in earnest conversation.

Suddenly, and to McCoy's absolute horror, Kirk did the
unthinkable. With a yell of something McCoy couldn't quite hear,
Kirk hit Spock, a brutal, short-armed right to the face that took
the Vulcan entirely by surprise, snapping his head back against the
bulkhead. Although McCoy could not hear the words, the venom
in Kirk's voice was unmistakable and he started forward, guilt
forgotten, desperate to help, when suddenly the familiar tingling
swept over him and he was gathered up by a transporter beam.
Fortune's Favoured Child - Part Two