Take Care of Those You Call Your Own

Title: Take Care of Those You Call Your Own

Author: Tempest

Series: TOS

Paring: S/Mc, Mc/M'Benga

Rating: PG-13

Summary: The Enterprise's Annual Secret Santa only helps to accentuate the trouble Spock and McCoy are having in their relationship. M'Benga sees the window of opportunity and makes his move on McCoy.

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.


Take Care of Those You Call Your Own

By Tempest

February 16, 2005



The holiday season was upon the ship and it was time for the ship-wide "Secret Santa." Most of the crew enjoyed this. The "Secret Santa" had long since lost any religious ties to it and had simply become a reason to give gifts to each other and a way to increase crew morale. With Scotty's help, a random name generator had been constructed that would send a different name to each crewmember's computer, and would void in case it was their own name, so all could enjoy.


However, not everyone was looking forward to this particular exchange. Spock, as always, found this exercise, like most other human celebratory endeavors, to be an illogical waste of time and wanted no part in it. Only as part of a bargain, that he would not be forced to participate in the Valentine's Day raffle, did Spock finally agree to participate.


McCoy, too, was not looking forward to the game, not because he did not believe in the idea, but because his own personal life was nothing short of depressing. He was bonded to the Vulcan First Officer; he should be the happiest man in the galaxy, but Spock truly was more Vulcan than McCoy had originally realized. Although he was aware that Spock had deep feelings for him, there was no romance in the relationship, and passion often came second to duty. Judging from Spock's disdain for the holiday season, he knew he would probably end up spending the time alone. He knew his mate, and when Spock wanted to avoid human illogic, he buried himself with his computer. Not the best way to spend the holiday season.


As a result, despite the festive decorations around the ship, and especially in sickbay, he spent most of his time in his office.


M'Benga, his old friend from their first medical station assignment, and his assistant medical officer, found it all to be a shame. McCoy could be the most jovial man on the ship, and were it not for his relationship, probably would be. Without knocking, he barged into McCoy's office to see him reading the same padd he had been reading two hours ago. This was not the Leonard McCoy he knew and respected. "Cheer up, Len. Nyota plans to do her holiday snow dance in the rec room tonight."


That failed to even get a slight reaction from McCoy. M'Benga stroked his own chin and tried again. "All right, you don't want to look at other people, fine. How about a poker game? You, me, the Captain, Mr. Scott, Mr. Sulu and Mr. Chekov?"


McCoy signed and placed his padd down. "I don't want to gamble, Geoff. I just want the holidays to be over."


"Where's your Christmas spirit, Len?"


"Ask Spock, the Wonder-Elf."


"Len, they're doing the Secret Santa drawings today, just try to be excited. You don't want to disappoint whoever you get, do you?"


McCoy glared at him in response. "Geoff, you know that whomever I draw, I'll be sure to make their holidays happy and healthy. Apart from that, I don't want to have to deal with any of this."


      M'Benga waved his hand in the universal symbol of defeat. "Fine, Len. But I'll save you a seat tonight at the rec room just in case. Is it Spock's turn to cook?"


      "No. He's working late with the Captain on the bridge tonight."


      "Then there's no reason for you to miss the show. I'll see you then." M'Benga, in a long practiced exercise, gave a wave and left McCoy's office before the latter could respond.




      A blinking light greeted McCoy when he returned to his quarters after his shift. He sat down at the computer terminal and accessed the message. His personal code failed to open it. Obviously, that was for Spock. Thumbing through the message coding, he found a second one. He opened it, and in Scotty's voice, the message played. "Congratulations, Lad, your Secret Santa Draw is Lieutenant Joseph Miranda from Geology. Happy Holidays."


      Miranda...McCoy had only met the man three times, for his initial physical, for the following quarterly physical, and the time he had returned from the geology mission with a broken arm from slipping off a quarry ledge. He was fairly young, but a competent man. This was the genius of the exercise; it forced the entire crew to learn new things about each other. If he recalled, Miranda had dated Cho a while back. He would track her down tomorrow during his mid-shift break and see what the man might enjoy.


      He removed his uniform boots and sat down on the edge of the bed for a while. Maybe, Spock would be his Secret Santa and for once would tolerate a human tradition because his spouse desired it. He rolled his eyes at the thought. As if Spock would ever break his Vulcan tradition for that.


      As long as Kirk didn't get him again. He remembered the first year they had done this when Kirk had drawn his Chief Medical Officer and had arranged the surprise celebration to go along with the gift, which was completely inappropriate to begin with. McCoy shuddered at the memory. As long as Kirk wasn't his Secret Santa, he could live with Spock not being his either.


      He decided to call Scotty and invite him over for dinner. The Engineer was always granted a 24-hour break period after finishing the database. That would get his mind onto a more pleasant train of thought. He might even hop over to see Uhura dance. And just maybe, when he got back, Spock would be in the mood for loving.



      M'Benga had headed straight to the mess hall for dinner with Uhura and Chapel, after his shift. The three shared pleasant conversation and friendly attempts to make Uhura nervous before her performance. The two ladies parted ways with him to help Uhura into her costume, and he went to the rec room to save him and Chapel front row seats.


      He found Scotty and McCoy sitting at a back table, a bottle of scotch between them. A look of weariness was on Scotty's features, as was to be expected; he was often overworked. But the look on McCoy's face was different, not physical weariness, but emotional. He smiled back at Scotty as the engineer told another joke and passed the bottle.


      M'Benga talked to Riley, also sitting in the front row and asked him to save to seats. After a nod from the tactician, he made his way over to Scott and McCoy's table. "Mind if I join you gentlemen for a few minutes?"


      Scotty turned around, a grin spreading across his face. "Not at all, Doctor. Len, it seems we have company."


      McCoy nodded, not turning around to face M'Benga. He wanted to avoid having a sequel to their earlier conversation.


      M'Benga sat down and tried to ignore McCoy's lack of conversation. "You both come here to see Uhura's snow dance? I was there in rehearsal, and I guarantee you'll enjoy it."


      "Aye, she's a bonnie lass, Doctor." Scotty was still smiling; it was obvious the scotch was beginning to take its effect. McCoy, however, remained rather morose.


      "You know, she's volunteered to teach anybody who wants to learn how to do that dance; it's a real crowd pleaser." M'Benga hinted to McCoy, trying to cheer him up. It was no use. It seemed his attempt to leave his quarters was all in vain.


Chapel walked in right as the lights in the room began to dim. She tapped M'Benga on the shoulder and with a farewell bow; they went to their seats by Riley to watch the show.



      M'Benga returned to his quarters somewhat later than he had expected, three encores and then the after-show drinks certainly took the time away. The blinking of his comm. unit caught his eye, and he immediately activated it, knowing it had to be his Secret Santa draw. The sound of Scotty's thick brogue filled his quarters. "Congratulations, Lad, your Secret Santa Draw is Lieutenant Commander Leonard McCoy from Life Sciences. Happy Holidays."


      So he had drawn McCoy, the one person who possibly hated the holidays more than Spock himself. A holiday exchange was probably the last thing he wanted right now. M'Benga shook his head, as he paced the room in thought. What McCoy needed was good love, something Spock was still not giving, and he seriously doubted that a toaster oven would change that.


      Suddenly, a thought occurred to him. He rushed himself over to his library and pulled out the appropriate text, scanning it for what he needed. Yes...it was listed in the behavior section after all. A plan formulated in M'Benga's mind. It could just work.



      The next morning, M'Benga was dressed and focused, as he appeared at the door of McCoy and Spock's shared quarters. He rang for entry.


      After a few minutes, McCoy came to the door, his trousers and tee shirt on, the rest of his uniform missing. "Geoff, there's forty minutes left until shift change and you're the one on call."


      "I know. I thought you might like some company for breakfast this morning."


      McCoy shook his head. As much as he liked M'Benga, the man could confuse him like almost nobody else. "Hold on a minute." McCoy went back inside to check on Spock. "Everyone's decent, come on in, Geoff."


      M'Benga entered their quarters and nodded at Spock, who sat at the desk reading a padd, no doubt connected with their newest orders from Starfleet. He then turned back around to face McCoy. "Len, get the rest of your uniform on. The longer you take, the less time we have for a leisurely breakfast."


      "Give me a minute, Geoff. You're too damned impatient." McCoy reached for his uniform shirt and slid it on. "Spock, would you care to join us this morning?"


      "Negative, I have an early meeting with Mister Chekov regarding the scientific procedure." Spock did not look up from his reading.


      McCoy shrugged, trying to mask his disappointment and ran a comb through his hair. He stroked his chin, deciding his stubble would be acceptable for a day and then turned to M'Benga. "I'm ready when you are."


      M'Benga waited for a split second, checking to make sure Spock could read and watch at the same time. He then clasped McCoy on the shoulder firmly, before letting it slide into more of an embrace. "Let's go."


      The two men exited the quarters, McCoy not quite awake enough to question M'Benga's actions. Spock thought for a moment, decided that the behavior, although strange, was within normal Terran parameters, and once more returned his attention to his work.



      At the mess hall, the two sat down with their trays and cups of coffee for a friendly breakfast. "Are you feeling better than last night, Len?"


      "Remind me never to do drinking with Scotty in the rec room again; he refused to take a soberal, and I ended up having to drag him back to his quarters." McCoy rolled his eyes and took a sip of his coffee.


      "And when Spock got back from his meeting?"


      McCoy sighed into his eggs. "What do you think happened? He spent an hour in meditation and told me to remember I had alpha shift, so I needed to retire early, or I would not 'receive the necessary amount of sleep for me to function.'"


      M'Benga took a bite of his pancakes and tried to smile. "He's trying to let you know he cares about you, by looking after your habits."


      McCoy continued to eat. He knew that already; it just was not what he needed from the relationship.


      M'Benga finished his pancakes and pushed his plate away. "What if I were to tell you that I want to rip your clothes off and push you against this table right now, before driving you wild with passion, Len?"


      McCoy's eyes bulged, and he looked at his friend incredulously. "What?!?!"


      M'Benga shrugged, looking down at his coffee cup with a small smile. "Just curious."


      "Geoff, you know I'm a happily married man." McCoy was trying to figure out where that thought had come from.


      "Are you, Len? Just think about it." M'Benga's first step of the plan was ready.


      "Isn't it time for shift change?" McCoy finished with his eggs and grabbed his coffee cup, checking a wall chronometer. "We should get to sickbay."


      "If that's what you want." M'Benga rose from the table. *By this evening, it should all fall into place.* He thought to himself, as he took care of their trays.



      McCoy came back to his quarters after the shift and flopped down on the bed, his thoughts still processing M'Benga's words to him from earlier. Spock had returned mere moments before and was working on geological classifications at the desk. "You are tired. I did tell you last evening that you should have rested one point seven two hours earlier than you did."


      McCoy ignored the chastising tone. "It was just a long shift, Spock. It was good, though." He chuckled slightly. "Hell, someone even hit on me. Isn't that funny?"


      Spock's eyebrow rose, as he turned around to face McCoy. "And your response?"


      "I rebuffed, Spock, but I have to admit I was pretty damned flattered."


      "You are bonded. The entire ship knows this. Who would be so bold as to make a romantic gesture towards a bonded individual?"


      "Does it matter, Spock? I told you, I said 'no.'" McCoy lifted his head from the pillow to look at the Vulcan, trying to read his expression. "Now, how about you show me what a wonderful thing it is to be a married man?"


      Spock rose from his chair and put his padd down. Emotions were rising in his mind, and he was ill prepared to deal with them. "I must meditate."


      McCoy sighed and closed his eyes, listening to the sounds of Spock readying himself for meditation. Perhaps the romance that comes from marriage was simply an illusion, something he had deluded himself into believing. One thing was for certain; he really was tired.



      The next morning, just as he was putting his boots on, the door chimed. Spock was writing a report on the geological classifications from last night, so McCoy answered the door. He was caught slightly off guard by M'Benga's presence. "Geoff! What are you doing here?"


      "Breakfast again, Len?" M'Benga's expression seemed hopeful.


      McCoy turned around to look at Spock. "You want to join us, Spock?"


      "No, thank you, I lack an appetite."


      McCoy shrugged slightly and headed for the door. "I'm ready, then."


      M'Benga smiled and clasped his arm around McCoy's shoulders, helping to lead him away. This time, Spock watched the actions critically; the way the other doctor touched McCoy, he did not like it.



      McCoy had talked to Cho during the shift break but still found that he could not think of a gift to get for Miranda. The man liked to read, apparently. McCoy though to himself of how he could try to do something with that. Perhaps going through the inventory of his father's library to find something worthwhile, or talking to Kirk. The Captain was a bibliophile if ever there was one.


      He reentered sickbay just in time to run into M'Benga, who held out a padd of cases in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. "Since one of these is necessary, I thought you might enjoy the other one."


      McCoy nodded and took the coffee. "It's nice to have something to read while taking the afternoon medicine." After a sip, he reached out for the padd and began to read it over, shaking his head as he did. When he reached the last of the cases, he lifted his head. "You're kidding me, right? How did Miranda end up with a broken leg?"


      "Exercise routines with Sulu, what else?" M'Benga gestured to the back of the sickbay. "Do you want to see him? I have it set, but he needs to remain immobile for a few days before we can let him loose. He seems to be allergic to the normal medication given with the bone knitter, so I had to give him a slower acting one."


      "You did the right procedure. Did you take your break, Geoff?" McCoy finished with the coffee and placed the empty mug down on a nearby table, beside the case padd.


      "I don't need one, Len. As long as I'm not on call tonight." M'Benga talked over his shoulder as he began to run an inventory on the medications.


      "No, you've been working too hard. I'll put myself on call. McCoy finished with his coffee and placed it down on the counter. "I'll be in my office, Geoff. Tell me if you need anything."


      M'Benga nodded with a smile. "Of course, Len. Want to join me for dinner tonight, or are you spending it with Spock?"


      McCoy turned around halfway to this office. "Spock's got a double shift tonight. What're you planning on having?"


      M'Benga couldn't help the smile. "Hopefully, meat."


      "Then count me in." McCoy disappeared into his office and the doors slid shut.



      McCoy arrived back in his quarters later that day to take a shower and change before dinner. Spock was on a short break to collect the new data records. When Spock saw McCoy go into the shower, his curiosity was piqued. McCoy only showered at this time of day when returning back to duty. Otherwise, he showered in the morning before the beginning of a shift. The Vulcan followed him into the bathroom and stood outside the shower stall. "Is there a gathering that you will be attending this evening?"


      "Geoff invited me over for dinner tonight. I knew you wouldn't be available, and I didn't want to spend the evening alone."


      M'Benga. Spock could feel an unfamiliar feeling swell within him, but he squelched it. "Indeed?"


      McCoy finished with the sonic shower and came out, grabbing a towel. "Yeah, it'll be good to have dinner with somebody on the same side of the food chain," McCoy made a small joke about Spock's vegetarianism.


      "I see." Spock watched McCoy's motions carefully. Thus far he could not detect the scent of the other doctor, but he would continue to monitor.


      McCoy tossed the towel aside and put his uniform back on, before turning around to face the Vulcan. "You know I love you, right Spock? And I wouldn't do anything to hurt you?"


      Spock's thoughts began to race. Was this simply a cry for affection, or was this an indirect admission of guilt? He would analyze further on the bridge with the Captain. "I am aware, Leonard."


      McCoy gave a half-smile and picked up a bottle of brandy from his liquor cabinet before heading out the door. "Hope you have as much fun with Jim as I do tonight." And then he was gone.


      Spock stood in the juncture between the bathroom and living quarters, staring at the door. McCoy was mated; he would not do anything. And M'Benga...certainly he knew better as a doctor and as one who had studied Vulcan culture.


      But even with these thoughts, Spock could not completely stifle the thoughts running through his mind. He bent down to pick up the towel McCoy had dropped and hung it up. His inner clock told him he was due on the bridge soon. He would ask the Captain about the behavior later.



      M'Benga finished cleaning up his quarters just as the door chime rang. *Right on time.* Lighting the candles on the table, he called for the door to open.


      In stepped McCoy, the bottle of brandy in hand. "Geoff, I brought this for after dinner..." His voice trailed off, as he took in the décor of M'Benga's quarters. The lights were dimmed, soft music played in the background, candles were on the table, and from the looks of it M'Benga was using his mother's china. This was not what he had expected.


      M'Benga looked up, a soft smile on his face, and reached out to greet McCoy with a hug. "That looks great, Len. I'm sure it'll go with the dessert."


      McCoy was never one to turn down a hug and returned it, although still confused, and he handed over the bottle. "You having a lady friend over, Geoff?"


      M'Benga shook his head, setting the bottle aside on the table. "No, just us, Len. Why do you ask?"


      "You seem to have gone out of your way for a dinner with just us, Geoff." McCoy moved to take one of the chairs. But M'Benga stopped him.


      "What kind of gentleman would I be if I made you take care of your own chair?" M'Benga managed to evade the subject while he held the chair out as McCoy had done for countless women. A bit surprised, but too hungry and admittedly too flattered to refuse, McCoy took it and did not object when the other doctor helped him get settled. Any thoughts of M'Benga's strange behavior immediately disappeared when the dinner was brought out, sirloin steak.


      As they ate, talked, and drank, M'Benga kept careful notice of McCoy. The doctor would take care to not get drunk while on call, but he might just loosen his lips a tad for when Spock came home. The plan was falling into place perfectly.


      "You look a bit morose, Spock. Trouble in paradise?"


      The nightshift on the bridge was quiet and lacked interest. While Kirk and Spock manned the bridge, the pilot was down in auxiliary control, and the on duty engineer was down with the warp core. The communications officer had left, as Spock had said he could take her duties. Kirk was going out of his mind with boredom, but that was the price of captaincy.


      Spock looked up, having hoped to mask his emotions in an effective manner. "I am not morose, Captain."


      "That's the answer to one question. What about the other?" Kirk flashed an encouraging smile at his friend.


      "I find myself, as always, perplexed by Leonard's behavior." Spock turned around from his console.


      "What's he doing this time? Is he still trying to get you to take him on a honeymoon?"


      "He told me he loved me and would not do anything to hurt me." Spock's voice was flat.


      Kirk stopped for a moment, now confused. The times he had longed to hear that from a variety of different people over the years... "And that's bothering you?"


      "He said that before going off to join another crewmember for dinner."


      "Spock, I'm sure he was just trying to make you feel loved before spending the night up here, the long, long night."


      "He has been unusually close to this particular crewmember as of late." Spock hoped that this would be enough information to ease his suspicions.


      "Look, I know Bones and Scotty can be a little strange when they get together, but I can guarantee you that there's nothing besides friendship with them." If anybody could make that promise, it was Kirk.


      "It is not Mister Scott."


      "Spock, Bones is a good man. He's not going to do something that stupid. He loves you too much to try it. But if it'll make you feel better, I'll talk to him, all right?"


      "Thank you, Captain."


      "Good, now, is it just me, or have we passed that planet three or four times before?"


      Spock arrived back from the bridge while McCoy was getting ready for his shift. McCoy appeared decent enough. "How was your shift, Spock?" He asked politely.


      "It presented no difficulties. And your dinner engagement?" Spock sat down on the side of the bed. He was in need of meditation.


      "It went really well. Geoff made fudge cake. He's one hell of a cook." McCoy was easing his shirt on.


      "What time did you return?"


      "I don't know...maybe 2330 hours or so, I wasn't really looking at the chrono." McCoy sat down at the table and began to put his boots on.


      Before Spock could respond, the door chime rang. Spock rose to answer it. M'Benga stood outside with a rose he had taken from the arboretum. "Good morning, Mister Spock. Is Doctor McCoy ready for our little breakfast date?"


      The glimmer of fury that M'Benga would dare come to his residence and attempt to seduce his mate away appeared and disappeared from Spock's eyes so quickly that M'Benga was not entirely certain it had been there in the first place. "He had not informed me that he had plans for breakfast this morning."


      M'Benga hoped he would not be struck for what followed. "No offense, Sir, but you're not his keeper."


      Spock remained calm at that, although M'Benga's attitude was infuriating. He turned around to call out to McCoy. "Doctor M'Benga is here to meet you for breakfast."


      "Oh, good. Spock, do you want me to bring you back anything from the mess?" McCoy straightened his boots and walked to the door.


      "As I will accompany you, there is no need. Unless you believe me to be intruding." Spock's glare was icy and directed entirely at M'Benga.


      McCoy's expression visibly turned to one of delight. "Of course not, Spock. I'd love to have you for breakfast. Geoff, you don't mind, do you?" M'Benga remained unfazed by Spock's reaction and shook his head. The Vulcan was beginning to succumb just as he hoped he would.


      McCoy smiled. "Wonderful. Let me just get the sickbay roster out of here and we can go." McCoy rifled around the drawer of the desk. After a few minutes of searching, he found the disk and dropped it in his pocket.


      Spock had noticed the action, and as he took his mate by the arm to lead him to the door, said aloud, "You would not have such difficulty if you would label your disks as I have often suggested."


      McCoy simply mumbled something in response that M'Benga could not hear.


      Spock quirked his eyebrow up slightly and left the quarters. "Really, Leonard, there is no need to bring my mother into this situation."


      A strategically placed hand over his mouth was the only thing that kept either man from hearing M'Benga's chuckle. "Sir, although you may not approve of Leonard's filing system, it's still the best thing that Starfleet medical has ever seen."


      McCoy smiled at him, appreciative of the support in the matter.


      Spock did not like the fact that M'Benga appeared to be attempting to wedge himself between him and his bondmate. He said nothing as the three of them walked to the mess hall.


      As they entered, the Captain's shout got their attention. He was waving them over to the table he was sharing with Scotty. Kirk was almost surprised to see McCoy and Spock out at the same time for breakfast, especially in public. It rarely happened. "Gentlemen, how about joining us?"


      Spock took a chair and McCoy took the other. There were only four at the table. Not discouraged in the slightest, M'Benga grinned and plopped himself down squarely in McCoy's lap. He exaggeratedly shifted his hips against McCoy's. "Hold on, this chair's a bit stiff...there we go, much better." He leaned himself back, McCoy's laughter in his ear.


      The other humans were chuckling as well. Spock's face remained hard and impassive, although a dark glimmer in his eyes told M'Benga that he did not approve. The doctor was not discouraged. He wiggled off McCoy's lap and moved over to a nearby table, grabbing one of the chairs and placing it at their table, at the side between McCoy and Spock. The looks the Vulcan was giving him told him that it would be a very long breakfast.



      The chiming of the ship's bell told the officers where they had to be. As Scotty, Spock, and Kirk cleared up for a trip to the bridge, Spock needed to pick up the data from an earlier experiment before taking a break, and Kirk had the second half of a double shift, McCoy and M'Benga gave their goodbyes and headed for the bridge. Scotty and Kirk had been turned away and did not see as M'Benga gave McCoy a lighthearted spank. They did hear the surprised, "Geoff!" and turned back around. The two doctors seemed to simply be enjoying one another's company. Spock was glaring at them. On all levels, that action was highly inappropriate.


      Kirk saw how Spock was staring and tried to draw his attention back to them. "Spock, come on, you have an experiment to log and then you need to sleep."


      "You promised to talk to him," was the only response he got, as Spock took his tray over to the replicator.


      "I will, now come on."


      After the morning rounds, McCoy finally found a few spare moments for himself and made his way over to Miranda's bed. He would pick out a Secret Santa gift for this man if it killed him. Then he would have M'Benga deliver it for him. The Secret Santa party was the next day and since Spock had given no evidence he was going, McCoy decided not to go either. There was no point.


      Sitting down at the chair beside the biobed, he grinned at the Lieutenant. "How're you feeling?"


      Miranda looked up from the copy of Federation Life Magazine he had been reading. "Not too bad. I learned never play anything with Sulu without a witness."


      McCoy nodded in agreement. “Didn’t you get that notice with the welcome package when you signed aboard? We’ve been trying to warn the crew ever since that incident with Riley.”


      “I forgot. He’s a nice guy, and he desperately wanted a partner for the exercise. He said nobody else would do it.”


      “For good reason,” McCoy replied.


      Miranda nodded, “Yeah, I realize that. How long am I going to be stuck here?”


      “Another few days. Your allergy isn’t helping us do our job, you know.”


      “It’s not like I asked for it. Besides, I want to get out of here. No offense, but this is hardly the place I went to spend the holidays. Besides, we’d been in the middle of sample analyses...” Miranda’s protest was short-lived, as McCoy simply shook his head.


      “Standard Medical procedure. You’re stuck here until it heels. I’m sorry to say that. But you’re not on any dietary restrictions, and you can have all the visitors you want.” McCoy rose from his chair, about to leave, when an idea struck him. He could use the opportunity to take care of the Secret Santa. “What’s your favorite book?”


      Miranda began to chuckle, “You don’t want to know.”


      McCoy smiled gently at him, “Try me. It can’t be that bad.”


      “The Polar Express,” was the quiet reply.


      McCoy’s eyebrow rose, in an expression he could only have learned from constant exposure to the first officer. “The Polar Express?”

      Miranda nodded, looking a bit embarrassed. “I know it’s sad because it’s a kid’s book, but I grew up on it. I once read it so many times that I needed to replace the data disk.”


      “It’s certainly fitting for the occasion,” McCoy gave the man an encouraging pat on the arm, an idea for the gift exchange in mind. “Rest up.”



      McCoy had just stepped onto the turbolift at the end of his shift when he heard his name. Kirk was jogging towards the elevator and the doctor reached out his hand to keep the lift doors from closing.


      “Thanks,” Kirk said, as he entered and the doors slid shut.


      “Where are you in such a hurry to?” McCoy smiled at him.


      “That depends, where are you headed?”


      “Back to my quarters, I guess.”


      “Then in that case, I’m going to the observation deck, and you’re coming with me.” Kirk’s tone, despite the relaxed situation, was his bridge voice. It had the power to evoke responsiveness in the greenest of crewmembers. With McCoy, however, it only made him curious.


      “Why are we going to the observation deck? Don’t you have work to do?”


      Kirk took control of the turbolift, instructing it to take them to said observation deck. “We have to talk, and I’d prefer to do it there.”


      “And if you’re doing it there, I’m assuming it’s unofficial business?”


      The turbolift stopped and the doors opened, Kirk started out the door. “Not official, but very important. Come on, Bones.”


      McCoy sighed softly, but followed Kirk into the observation deck, sitting down in one of the chairs while Kirk leaned against the table, his arms crossed over his chest. The two simply stared at one another in silence.


      “Well?” McCoy prompted, desiring to simply hear it and be done.


      “I’m acting on behalf of Spock here Bones, so don’t chew my head off. But he...” Kirk paused in thought, trying to find a way to phrase this delicately. “Well, he thinks you’re having an affair and wants you to call it off, immediately.”


      McCoy’s eyes went wide. “Affair? What the Hell are you talking about? What’s he mean by that?”


      Kirk shrugged, allowing his arms to drop from his chest and dangle at his sides. “I told him it was ridiculous. He asked me to talk to you. I’m talking to you. You’re not having an affair, are you?”


      “Of course not. You remember what I was like between his proposal and the bonding. How could he even think that?” McCoy’s expression was a cross between bewilderment and exasperation.


      “No clue. I’ll tell him you’re not having an affair, but I think you two should talk this out. It puts me in an awkward position, being stuck between the two of you. It’s bad enough when it’s about missions, but when it’s about the bedroom, I could really do without it.”


      “I’ll bet.” Silence followed, as McCoy attempted to process this bit of information. “We’ll work it out. Thanks, Jim.” The doctor pushed the chair away from the table and started for the turbolift. “I’ll talk to you later. You coming?”


      “No, I’ve got some stuff to do, but I’m going to clear my head with the view for a few minutes. Man must take pleasure where he can.” Kirk replied, an ironic smile on his face.


      “Catch you later, then.” McCoy stepped into the turbolift. The doors closed but he hardly noticed.


      It didn’t make sense. It just didn’t make any sense. Spock was unwilling to make any form of concession to his human side, or his human bondmate. He had an inability to communicate and everytime they had an argument, Spock simply put his shields up. Half the time, it seemed like he didn’t care what McCoy did. And then there were times like this, that he could dream up a phony affair and fear for losing McCoy to this imaginary lover. And yet even with this, he couldn’t bring himself to open up to McCoy in a human way, preferring to send messages through Kirk. It was a strange form of love they shared.


      Idly, McCoy wondered why the turbo lift ride was taking so long. Then he realized he’d forgotten to give it an order. He reached out, taking the controller and spoke his deck number, slipping back into thought for the remainder of the ride.


      When the door opened, he exited, but stopped to lean against the wall, still in thought. Obviously, what he and Spock had was a failure to communicate. And since spilling his emotions over had never worked in the past, he desired to just try to act calmer, so perhaps Spock would be able to come to him for a change. These thoughts in order, he resumed his walk to his quarters.




      It was a few days later, and at least one meeting with a mail ship, and the night before the winter party had arrived. Spock had just been forcibly relieved of duty by the Gamma Shift leader. On the turbo lift to the officer’s deck, he’d had a quick conversation with Kirk during which the Captain assured him of McCoy’s fidelity and insisted upon a grand romantic gesture.


      Spock had decided that he couldn’t pull that off and would simply settle for McCoy transferring M’Benga to a different medical department, on a different ship, somewhere in the Gamma Quadrant. Knowing he could not ask that, he simply decided that the next time M’Benga made an inappropriate gesture regarding McCoy; he would kill first and deal with the consequences later. He knew that attitude was far from logical, but recently, the passions he had been experiencing lately were close to forcing him over the edge. He had taken to a drastic increase in his meditation, but he was uncertain how long that would sustain him.


      When he entered the quarters, he was greeted by McCoy. Or rather, by McCoy’s voice and back. The doctor was sitting at his desk, wrapping a package in overly festive paper; although he managed to ask how Spock’s shift had been, he did not bother to turn around.


      Spock crossed to the desk, looking over the box somewhat curiously. He chose not to answer McCoy’s question and instead ask one of his own. “What is that?”


      “Secret Santa present. It’s for the party tomorrow.”


      “I gathered. Mine is not wrapped so festively.”


      “You just don’t have the spirit of Christmas. You at least took into account personality this year, instead of assuming all human women have the same interest in apparel?”


      “I did take that into account.”


      McCoy finished making the bow and placed it near the back of the desk, then turned around to face Spock for the first time. “Did you take size into account too? The last thing we need is for you to give Yeoman Rand another piece of clothing three sizes too big, making her think you think she’s fat and giving half the crew the impression she was pregnant with Jim’s love child...again.”


      Spock resisted the urge to roll his eyes. He very clearly remembered the events from the previous Secret Santa, including the actions taken by Yeoman Rand, specifically the slap, and the resulting disciplinary meeting between he, her, and Captain Kirk the next morning. It was one of reasons he had no desire to participate in the ritual again.


      McCoy pushed his chair away from the desk and rose, reaching out to lay a hand on Spock face, moving in a gentle stroke from his temple downward, to finally cup his chin, as he leaned in for a brief kiss. “And now that I’m done, maybe we can find something constructive to do? Involving a bed, or maybe a sonic shower?”


      Spock closed his eyes. It would be too easy to give into his passions. And he was Vulcan. He could not allow it. With effort, he shook his head, covering McCoy’s hand with his own and moving it. “I must meditate tonight. It was a taxing day. Perhaps tomorrow, Leonard.”


      A frustrated sigh escaped McCoy’s lips. He acquiesced of course, but he wasn’t above letting Spock know he was unhappy. When Spock went to change into his meditation robe, McCoy excused himself to the mess hall to look for Scotty. He just didn’t understand Spock sometimes. And at times he wondered why it was M’Benga had so much faith.



      The party had been in full swing for about an hour. McCoy had been in a corner with Uhura and Chekov for a good portion of that time, with Kirk dropping by every so often as he went around chatting with the crew.


      Spock was nowhere in sight. McCoy didn’t know whether to be surprised or not. He would have thought Spock wanted to get the whole ordeal over with. Then again, since Spock was fairly certain McCoy would want to stay the whole time, there was no reason to get there early. His head was beginning to hurt. He turned his attention back to Chekov’s story of his Christmases back in Moscow.


      Then he felt a hand on his shoulder and he jumped. Turning around quickly with a scowl on his face, it fell away when he took in the form. “Geoff. What the Hell do you think you’re doing sneaking up on me like that?”


      “I didn’t want to interrupt the Ensign. So I thought you should do it for me.” M’Benga smiled and then pulled on McCoy’s arm, excusing them both from the conversation.


      “Well, now that you’re here, have you seen Spock? You’re the one who’s been telling me to get in the holiday spirit. I don’t see my elf.”


      M’Benga shrugged, although the grin on his face had yet to dissolve. “He’ll be here, and I’ll guarantee you a great party, and a very Merry Christmas.”


      “Yeah, right.” McCoy looked around, and then sighed softly. “You seen Miranda? I need to give him his gift,” McCoy gestured at the box on the table behind them.


      “That I can help you with now. He’s over talking with DeSalle about shore leave plans. I still think letting him out of sickbay for the party was a bad idea.”


      “It wasn’t my idea. Jim demanded it. I’ll catch you when I’m done.” McCoy handed M’Benga his punch glass and then made his way towards Miranda, grabbing his gift on the way there.


      Miranda had been absorbed in some story of former escapades, but when he noticed McCoy, he quickly dropped the conversation. The story must have been a doozie, the boy was blushing something fierce. “What can I do for you, Doctor? Do I have to go back to sickbay?”


      McCoy shook his head, “No, I’m just here to say Ho Ho Ho.”


      Miranda looked at him curiously. “What?”


      McCoy handed the gift over, a flat package, wrapped in red and silver paper and a golden bow. “Merry Christmas, Joseph Miranda.”


      Miranda smiled gently, taking the offered gift and holding it in his hands. He simply held it in his hands for a moment, before ripping the paper off. When it lay in his hands, bare, Miranda’s eyes lit up. He was quiet for a few long moments, and then spoke softly. “Thank you, Doctor. I don’t know what to say.”


      In his hands lay an original copy of The Polar Express, printed on carefully preserved paper, each page illustrated with touching artwork.


      McCoy simply nodded, reaching out to clasp him on the shoulder. “Just enjoy it; sometimes Christmas miracles can come true.” Not really, but why not let somebody else believe it?


      “You’re a good man, Doctor McCoy. And you’ve a heart of gold.” Miranda began to leaf through the book, and then closed it, seemingly coming out of a spell. “Would you like some punch? That’s the least I could do to repay you for this.”


      McCoy shook his head. “I’m fine. I’m just glad you enjoyed your gift. And now please, enjoy the party and keep the load easy on your leg. I don’t want to see you in sickbay again until your next physical. Understood?”


      “Yes Sir,” Miranda gave a mock salute, but the broad smile on his face was pure delight. McCoy took some comfort in the knowledge that at least somebody was going to have a happy holiday as he took his leave and returned to M’Benga.


      M’Benga handed him the same punch glass, refilled. “How’d he like his present?”


      “Loved it. I hope it’s motivation to keep him from doing something stupid like what hurt him in the first place.”


      “You make a positively depressing Santa Claus, Len.”


      “And you do wonders for a man’s self esteem. Why do you think I’m not filled with the spirit? Spock’s still not warming up. I think he might regret our bonding.”


      “It’s all going to work itself out, Len. Just trust me on that.”


      A soft sigh escaped McCoy’s lips. “You keep saying that. How do you know?”


      “Just have faith and believe, Len.” McCoy expected him to elaborate, but M’Benga made quick work of shifting the conversation to the next medical training day, and what McCoy’s expectations of the performance would be.


      Another half hour passed in conversation, and McCoy looked bored. He answered all of the questions posed to him, but it was obvious he’d rather be somewhere else, doing something else. Or rather, someone.


      He’d currently been involved in his explanation of a perfect week. “And Jim, Spock, and Scotty would manage to keep themselves the Hell out of sickbay, because by this point in time, I think they’re held together entirely by the patchwork I’ve done on them over the years, and on the subject of Spock-“


      On the subject of Spock, the Vulcan had entered the lounge, a plain wrapped, small box, in his hands. M’Benga had kept his eyes on the door the entire night, and when he saw Spock enter, he grabbed hold of McCoy’s shoulders, tilted him, and pressed his lips to those of the other Doctor, drawing him into a long kiss. From his particular angle, he managed to keep his eyes on Spock, and more importantly, his reactions.


      McCoy was struggling against the kiss, but the surprise was what kept him from being able to fully pull back. M’Benga parted McCoy’s lips with his tongue, while allowing his hand to slip down and cup McCoy’s backside in his hands, squeezing.


      Spock was coming over now; his face flushed an angry green. With more emotion than he would have preferred, he grabbed M’Benga and pulled him off McCoy, drawing the latter into his arms while simultaneously pushing the other doctor back against the wall. His eyes burned deep in possessive anger.


      M’Benga exhibited no fear, however. He simply stared back at Spock in challenge, reaching a hand out for McCoy. Spock pushed it away, drawing McCoy further into his arms. He looked down at his mate, and then blinked. The emotions he had felt when he had seen M’Benga kissing him had been intense, and he was filled with need. Need to claim McCoy for his own, need to make certain he knew to whom he was bonded. He took hold of McCoy and started towards the door, forgetting all about his present. As he exited, his arm fell to rest on McCoy’s backside and he gave it a firm squeeze, making his intentions clear. Despite the shock of the events, McCoy’s face broke out into a wide smile.


      It wasn’t until after Spock and McCoy had left that anybody seemed to react. Kirk walked over to M’Benga, who was brushing himself off, and simply stared at him, speechless from shock.


      After a minute, he managed to find the words. “What was that?”


      “Len’s Secret Santa present.” M’Benga reached for the punch cup which had been placed down at the nearby low table.


      “The kiss,” Kirk mumbled, shaking his head. “Spock was right, Bones was having an affair.”


      The doctor simply took a sip, savoring the taste in his mouth before swallowing. “Let me tell you, the kiss was just the beginning. And no, Len’s a good man, he’d never have an affair. I just...released the passion within is all. Trust me, he’s going to have a very Merry Christmas, both of them. And a Happy New Life.”


      And before Kirk could answer, M’Benga started for the exit. Although nobody realized it, he was probably the best Secret Santa who had ever lived. It was one thing to buy somebody a present. It was another to teach a Vulcan how to be passionate without ever touching him.


      And as he walked by Spock and McCoy’s quarters on his way to his own, he could have sworn he heard a southern accent groan, “If you’re a good boy, Santa will bring you anything you want. Oh, you’re a good boy for sure!”


      And M’Benga couldn’t help but smile. Although it was the 23rd Century, Christmas miracles still happened.




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