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The lighting aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise had been dimmed to early evening levels to accommodate the Circadian rhythms of her mostly humanoid crew. Spock prowled the darkened corridors, lost in thought. He was too agitated to meditate, so he walked. He had made three circuits of the halls around the officers’ quarters, and was still no closer to an answer to the question that plagued him.

Illogical. Why did he do it?

He almost sighed. Leonard McCoy was the most emotional, illogical, and (one might say) irrational Human being Spock had ever met. McCoy had done many things that had baffled the Vulcan during their time of service aboard the Enterprise, but the episode today with the Vians had been the most inexplicable of all.

Why? What could possibly have possessed McCoy to do such a thing?

McCoy had nearly died in the underground chamber on Minara II, tortured by the Vians as a test to see if the empath he had named Gem would heal his mortal injuries. The physician should not have been in jeopardy to begin with; he, Spock, would have been the logical choice. The Vians had forced Jim Kirk to choose which of his two friends he would send to what most likely would be a certain death, and he had chosen his Vulcan first officer. McCoy had then taken matters into his own hands, ambushing Kirk and Spock with a hypospray, rendering them unconscious. He had fully intended to sacrifice himself.

Why did he do that?

He needed to know, almost desperately so. He told himself it was merely intellectual curiosity, the desire to know why a sentient being would behave in such an illogical fashion. But deep down in his human half, even though he would never admit it aloud, he knew it was more than that— much more.

Spock had, in his own way, grown fond of the Enterprise’s curmudgeonly chief medical officer. When he had entered the pon farr, the amok time, he had chosen Kirk and McCoy to accompany him to Vulcan because he was entitled to be accompanied by his "closest friends." He and McCoy had both grown to enjoy their now-legendary verbal jousts, the arguments that, to the uninitiated, seemed like the bitter quarreling of two sworn enemies. When McCoy had been returned from the Vians’ torture chamber, battered and bloody and moments from death, Spock had felt an unaccustomed, icy fist of grief and fear clenching in the pit of his stomach, even though he kept his unemotional, implacable Vulcan mask in place.

He started suddenly when he realized what he was thinking. He paused in his wanderings. His jaw clenched; he would not admit to emotion. It was unworthy of a Vulcan.

It is not...logical.

Still, the facts were difficult to ignore.

Why did he do that?

Spock glanced offhandedly at the cabin door to his left, and did another double-take when he read the nameplate.

Interesting. Had he somehow intended to come here?

Spock’s hand reached for the door chime button, then froze. He wavered. He hesitated. Finally, the need to know overcame his uncertainty. He pressed the button.

No answer.

He pushed again. Still no response. Sweeping the alarm he felt to the back of his mind, Spock leaned on the buzzer. Now he also needed to know that Leonard McCoy was alive and well. The speaker finally crackled into life, and the Vulcan exhaled, realizing he had been unconsciously holding his breath.

"Keep your shirt on, damn it! Come in!"

The voice, while as irascible as ever, was husky and thick, and tinged with fatigue. The weariness exacerbated his Southern drawl. Spock instantly regretted his decision to request entry. McCoy had been through a harrowing ordeal today, and was likely exhausted.

Still, he strode in when the doors slid aside. The cabin was dim, but not completely dark. McCoy lay stretched on the bed, still in his uniform. The stimulants he had been given had obviously worn off, and he was paying the price. He looked as though he had collapsed there, pausing only long enough to slide off his boots.

"Spock." There was a note of surprise in the CMO’s weary voice. "You’ll excuse me if I don’t get up. I’m plumb tuckered out."

Spock noticed how pale and tired the physician looked, and his guilt flared up anew. "I can return later if it is more convenient for you, Doctor."

"No, no. You seemed pretty insistent," McCoy returned. "Actually, I could use a little company right now. Every time I drift off to sleep I have nightmares about that damned planet and those box-headed aliens. What the hell were you doin’ just now anyway—standin’ on the doorbell?" When he didn’t receive a reply, McCoy continued, "So what’s the nature of your visit? Come to chew me out about slippin’ you and Jim a mickey?’

Spock’s puzzlement was genuine. "‘Slipping a...mickey?’ I regret that I am unfamiliar with that idiom."

"For givin’ you the hypo," the doctor grumbled. "You green-blooded, literal..."

"Negative, Doctor," Spock replied. "While your action was treacherous in the extreme and highly unethical, what is done, is done. I am here in my capacity as First Officer of the Enterprise to inquire about your well-being. I was...concerned about you."

"Really?!" McCoy’s eyes widened. "I’m touched, Spock. Didn’t know you had it in you."

"Merely a logical concern about the condition of the ship’s chief medical officer—I am capable of no other feelings in the matter. The Enterprise’s efficiency is hampered if you are at less than your best."

"Well, I’m at less than my best right now," McCoy rasped. "I feel like I’ve been trampled by a herd of Vegan titanosaurs. I ache all over and my head’s poundin’—but it sure beats the alternative."

The Vulcan’s eyes narrowed. "Do you require further medical attention?"

"No, I’m fine. Gem and the Vians repaired all the damage. Still, they put me through the wringer. I’m gonna be sore for a few days." His face clouded. "Not to mention that I’ll be seein’ those Vians in my dreams for a while."

Spock nodded imperceptibly. "The cause is sufficient. Doctor, I..." He turned and fixed McCoy with a piercing stare. "Why did you do it, Doctor? You could have been spared your ordeal. I was the logical choice. My Vulcan physiology..."

"...would’ve been beat to Hell an’ back just like I was anyway," McCoy said. "It just would’ve taken longer, that’s all." He was silent for a long time, and Spock was startled to see tears brimming in McCoy’s intense blue eyes. When he spoke again, his voice was choked with barely suppressed emotion. "As to...why, Spock...I saw what they did to Jim. I wasn’t gonna let that happen to either one of you." The tears were flowing now. "Damn it, man, don’t you see? You’re my friends!"

Spock nodded as understanding dawned. "Indeed. I should have known. ‘Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for his friend.’" The corners of the Vulcan’s mouth quirked in an almost-smile, but his dark eyes fairly shone with warmth. "Thank you...Leonard."

McCoy scrubbed at his eyes. "God, Spock, I..."

Suddenly uncomfortable, Spock straightened and tugged at his blue tunic. "You need your rest, Doctor. I should go now." He moved toward the door, but McCoy’s ragged voice stopped him short.

"Spock—you’re welcome."

The first officer turned back to face the man he called his friend, raising his hand in the Vulcan salute. "Live Long and Prosper, Leonard McCoy," he intoned.

"Thanks, Spock—same to you." He sighed. "I’m too tired t’ raise my arm. Besides, I have to spread my fingers apart with my other hand anyway. ‘Night, Spock."

"Good night, Doctor."

Spock strode back out into the corridor. His pace was more relaxed now; his mind was at ease. He had gotten his answer. He would return to his own cabin now to meditate.

There was much to consider.

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