Title: In His Father’s Footsteps
Summary: After the events of Star Trek: The Final Frontier, McCoy isn’t in the mood for camping.
He can’t help but think about his father.
Disclaimer: Star Trek and all of its relations are property of Paramount and Viacom. I only own this story. Problems with
male homosexuality? Please stay away. Flames and feedback are welcome. For archiving, please ask author permission first.
In His Father’s Footsteps
February 29, 2008
Over. Finally over. Sybok was dead. There was no God. Maybe there was, but not in
the center of the galaxy. There was no ShaKahree. It was one huge disappointment.
And with that mission ended, Leonard
McCoy sat with his back against a rock, dirt underneath him, and the sounds of a semi-inebriated James Kirk singing the boat
song, while Spock accompanied on the ka'athaira. It would have been enjoyable, had the mission they had just finished not
taken its toll on him. And worse than everything else, it was Flag Day, the most depressing of former American national holidays.
Although there was no way to explain why, Flag Day invariably was a bad day for him. And considering their near death experience
at the hands of Spock's brother, 2287 was living up to the same set of standards as every other year he could remember.
With a tap on the kneecap, Kirk
encouraged him to join in. Remembering a bit of advice from his father, "Smile and nod, Leonard, just smile and nod," he began
to sing softly, earning a smile from Kirk and a somewhat curious glance from Spock.
After singing for a few moments,
McCoy's thoughts once more turned dismal, as they had been since they had embarked upon the mission days ago, and had not
recovered since then. A glance at the chronometer on his wrist, coupled with the experience from the previous trip, told him
that they would soon turn in, so that they could be well rested for Kirk's idea of fun for the next day: bacon and rock climbing.
The former he had given up the day of his marriage; the latter was plain stupid. He sighed softly to himself. Oh joy and rapture.
Sure enough, within the next twenty
minutes, Kirk smiled and stopped singing. "Gentlemen, I think it's time to turn in. Remember what Ben Franklin said, 'early
to bed, early to rise.' And he did so very much with his life, just like us. And he saved his people and went down in history
McCoy could not help but add mentally,
*He also had the tendency to court young girls half his age. Another similarity between he and you, Jim,* but said nothing.
He was a little crabby today, he knew. Kirk didn’t seem to notice, and he tried to hug McCoy good night; he was always
more touchy-feely when he was drunk. McCoy wasn’t in the mood. And he was silently relieved when Kirk missed twice trying
to hug him and eventually gave up.
The Captain crawled into his tent,
zipping it shut behind him. It left McCoy alone with his thoughts. And a concerned Vulcan. Spock set down his ka’athaira
and crossed the short distance between them, before taking a seat at McCoy’s side. “Leonard?”
McCoy looked at Spock and his lip
twitched apologetically; he knew he was somber, and he knew how it affected the other man. “Sorry. I don’t mean
to worry you.”
Spock ignored the apology and went
straight to the heart of the matter. If McCoy had been worried about his personality surviving the fal-tor-pan and everything
afterward, this moment alone could assuage those concerns. Spock was himself, with the same infuriating Vulcan characteristics
disguising his human tendencies. “What is distressing you?”
“I’m not distressed,”
McCoy replied, but it sounded hollow to his own ears, and he knew Spock would see right through it.
“If you would like me to go
through the list of every associated emotional term, I will. However, you and I would both find that a wasted endeavor.”
McCoy hated it when Spock was right,
particularly when he was right and emotions were involved. Sighing softly in frustration, he decided to spare them both the
time involved. “I’ve been thinking about the mission.”
There were several elements to the
mission that could have captured McCoy’s attention, and Spock quickly went through them mentally. One in particular
stood out to him. “Your father’s death?”
“Just my father,” McCoy
corrected him. It had been Hell to relive his father’s death, and the fact that a cure for his pain had been found so
soon after his act of mercy. But what was the point of mourning a death if you couldn’t think about the life associated
Spock shifted closer to the human,
pressing his knee up against McCoy’s. It was light contact, yet comforting; McCoy was grateful. There was no reason
for the Vulcan to speak. McCoy knew what he would say; “you rarely spoke about your father, Leonard. In all of the years
I’ve known you, he has only been mentioned within the context of something you inherited.”
McCoy sighed softly, blinked as
though that small action would clear away his sour mood. “He and I were alike in more ways than I can count. Anyone
who saw me knew I had to be David McCoy’s son, and anyone who heard me talk or spent more than five minutes with me
was doubly sure of it. My likeness to him was uncanny.”
Spock had heard similar remarks
regarding himself and Ambassador Sarek. However, he himself had never seen the similarities, and most assuredly had not taken
them as compliments. McCoy was proud, however, and that only further demonstrated why the pain Sybok had shown ran so deep
within his memory.
“He was the best doctor I’ve
ever seen, even after two decades in Starfleet. He saved countless lives, perfected his own procedures, and still managed
to remain true to his roots.”
At that Spock could see yet again
why McCoy would always argue that he was nothing more than an “old country doctor.” He let McCoy continue, prepared
to listen as long as was needed before interjecting any comments.
“And I know I’ve spent
my life trying to live up to his memory. I even know that sort of hero worship is unhealthy, but there’s nothing I can
do about it. I’ve spent sixty years looking up to him and I’m not going to stop now. But do you know what he was
proudest of, Spock? Out of everything he’d done in his entire life?”
Spock shook his head slightly. “Having
never met your father, Leonard, I could not venture an educated guess.”
McCoy shook his own head, at himself
and at the memories, at the feelings they evoked and at his own interpretations of them. “He was proudest of me. Of
all his titles: doctor, husband, scientist, gentleman...‘father’ was the title that mattered most to him. And
I’ve managed to follow in his footsteps with every hat he wore, except for that one.”
Spock refrained from commenting
on the logistics of wearing multiple hats, and from pointing out that McCoy, in all their time together, had worn a hat on
exactly three occasions. He understood what the human’s meaning was, behind his peculiar idiom. “Do you regret
the choices you have made in life?”
McCoy’s expression shifted
between contemplation and surprise, before settling on a combination of emotions that Spock could not easily read; it was
as though he suddenly realized hidden implications in the question. He reached out to take Spock’s hand. “No,
Spock, I love you, and the two best days in my life were winning you over and getting you back. It’s just that being
a father made him so happy, and it suited him well. I feel like I’ve been hurting his memory by not having kids; the
line’s going to die with me, you know.”
Spock squeezed McCoy’s fingers
gently. As a Vulcan, he understood better than most the necessity of lineage and the powerful call of one’s blood. He
and McCoy had often spoken of his own duties to his family, but had often neglected McCoy’s, taking the subject for
granted. And with their current ages...
“And I’m old, Spock.
I blew my chance at it. I guess it’s just weighing a little heavier on my shoulders tonight.” The admission was
accompanied by another soft sigh.
Before his death and the refusion,
Spock would have responded in a typically Vulcan way, proposing either a solution or suggesting that acceptance of the situation
was the only alternative. He would have ignored his human side, and even with their bondlink, would have been unaware of some
of McCoy’s emotions. The refusion had changed this. He could notice the signs of the human’s thoughts and feelings
he never would have seen before. He could feel his resignation and regret as though it were his very own. He knew there was
little that could be done, and that McCoy simply felt the weight of that face, and needed to share. Responding to this, he
squeezed the human’s fingers again, and pressed their knees tighter.
They remained that way, with the
contact and the heavy feelings between them, understood by both with no need to comment further on it, for a long time. They
were eventually disturbed by the sound of a tent unzipping, followed by heavy footsteps and Kirk stumbling out into the woods.
The whiskey had taken its toll on his bladder. The sound of running water cut through the otherwise serene night, followed
by the sound of a two-hundred-pound man falling into the dirt. He’d lost his balance.
Mood shattered, McCoy sighed again
and released Spock’s hand. “Should we go help him up?”
Spock agreed. It was the proper
thing to do, and the Captain was their friend. Rising, he accompanied McCoy deeper into the woods to search for Kirk. Each
man took one of Kirk’s arms, and helped him to his feet.
McCoy reflected on that, while he
helped the Captain to dust himself off and found himself swept up into a drunken hug of gratitude. He wasn’t a father,
but he was loved and needed. And if Jim Kirk wasn’t just a big kid at heart, who needed to be looked after by a set
of parents like he and Spock...
Looking at it that way, he thought
David McCoy would be proud.