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The first officer was in Sickbay. The prognosis was grim.



"Why did you do it if you knew it was going to make you this sick?"



"Unfortunately, Doctor, the situation afforded me little choice. I

would gladly have avoided it given an acceptable alternative."



"Damn poor judgment, if you ask me."



"I did not ask your opinion." Spock rubbed the bridge of his nose,

wincing. "Now, if you would care to do your job."



"I'm sorry, Spock. I don't understand your immune system pathways very

well. You can't rely on Medical to make up for your indiscretions like

the others can."



Two Vulcan hands abruptly balled into fists. "Had I known," Spock

enunciated icily, "of their custom in advance, other arrangements

could and would have been made."



"Lie back. The histamine blocker doesn't appear to be working. I'm

going to try something else."



McCoy walked over to his office. Christine Chapel was carefully

entering some test sample results into the database.



"Nurse, I've got a Vulcan with a migraine in--"



"Oh no," she said with a particular dread, and jumped up.



"I've already tried bencopamine . . ."



Chapel brushed past him and walked briskly over to the patient files

library, pulling out Spock's with expert ease. "What is the headache

in reaction to, Doctor?"



"Nicotine. He inhaled nicotine as part of the final negotiations on

the trade agreement with the Valdostians."



"A peace pipe?"



"I guess you could call it that. Utterly barbaric. What's this galaxy

coming to?"



"Perhaps we could look up what we used last time Spock had an allergic

reaction? Remember that neutronic radiation?"



"That wasn't an allergy, not according to the literature. Exposure to

neutronic radiation for Vulcans is akin to an inner-ear disturbance in

a human."



"Oh." Chapel pored over the charts. "There are some anti-

inflammatories that he seems to respond to without serious side

effects."



"Good idea. It might be better than taking a stab in the dark with

migraine medication. He's in a mood right now."



"He can also hear everything we're saying."



"I'm counting on that. This way we won't get any backtalk when it's

time to administer his medication."



"Eutrammel hydrochloride looks promising."



"That's a pill, isn't it? Find something injectable and prepare a

hypo."



"Yes, sir."



McCoy walked back into his office and wrote "20cc Versoma" into a text

file and extracted it on a blank tape. He plunked it wordlessly into

Chapel's hands as she prepared the hypo. Guessing what was on the

tape, she gave the CMO a conspiratorial look before popping the tape

into the reader and confirming the contents. McCoy returned to his

office nonchalantly. Versoma would knock Spock out for several hours

and restore peace to his sickbay.



--//--



"Spock? Oh, he's asleep." Kirk's hand hovered over Spock's shoulder.

Spock looked so sweet, so still in sleep on the biobed. Kirk turned.

"Bones? Bones, where are you?"



The doctor appeared. "Most intolerable, ungrateful patient I've had

all day. But he does look kind of angelic like that, doesn't he?"



Kirk's mouth quirked in a half-smile, not willing to join in the

sentiment but unable to dismiss the humor in the situation. "You

knocked him out."



"You bet I did. He seems to think that if he's miserable, it's his job

to make five other people miserable while he's at it."



"It's better this way. He'll sleep it off."



"I hope so. The anti-histamine didn't work. Of course, you may be

wondering why I'd give a Vulcan an anti-histamine. Which would be a

good question." McCoy bounced on the balls of his feet. "Turns out the

human factors in his blood are mainly immunological. It's a wonder his

own immune system doesn't turn on him."



Kirk's jaw dropped a bit. He had never known. "You don't say." Then,

"I thought you said when his father was here that his blood was T-

negative. Isn't that an immune profile designation?"



"We filtered the human factors out using a special matrix. Not as

difficult as it sounds."



"Hmm."



"It is amazing, isn't it? His immune system should have turned on

itself when he was a fetus. Heck, his mother's immune system should

have rejected him. It has happened to hybrid fetuses before."



"It's . . . a . . . wonder he survived at all."



McCoy cocked a grin. "As Spock might say, 'Fascinating.'"



"I'll leave you to look after him, Doctor. Let me know when he wakes

up."



"Sure thing."



"Oh, and Bones? Don't rag him about getting sick. There was nothing in

the Anthro reports about drug use. It was a complete surprise when

they sprang that on us--and they were quite adamant about Spock

participating. Of course, if I had known he would react as badly as he

did, I would have forbidden it, but he insisted he could handle it."



"Stubborn. Not to mention foolish."



"Well, he did make it back to the ship without any trouble."



"He saved all his griping for us. I should have taped it."



"Later, Bones."



--//--



"Jim," Spock said, announcing himself as the sliding door shut behind

him.



"Spock! Are you feeling better?"



"Marginally. I was released from sickbay, with these." Spock held up a

packet of pain pills.



"Pain is in the mind?" Kirk frowned to see Spock grimace at the joke.

"Come in and lie down. I'll get something for your head."



"I am not certain what you can do for me." But, nevertheless, he went

to Kirk's bunk and lay down.



Kirk rummaged in his dresser for a hot pack and a washcloth. Spock

heard the hum of the food unit and water running. Then Kirk appeared

holding a steaming bundle which he laid on Spock's forehead.



Spock closed his eyes. "This does feel better."



Kirk sighed in relief. "Maybe you should take one of those pills. I'll

bring you some water."



"I am certain that will be unnecessary."



Kirk returned with the cup. "Take the pill. Don't you know how those

painkillers work?"



"They don't work . . . in general."



"It has something to do with dilating the blood vessels . . . or maybe

the opposite. Actually, I hardly know anything beyond basic first aid.

But I'm sure you won't be able to accomplish that with biofeedback if

the pain disrupts your concentration."



Spock sighed. "You are correct." He accepted the pill and the water.

He sank back down on the pillow after swallowing.



"Hm, what else?" Kirk looked Spock over, arms akimbo. "Lights." Kirk

set the light settings down low. "Quiet. I haven't left anything on .

. ." Kirk left a message that he and Commander Spock were not to be

disturbed for the next six hours except in case of emergency. He also

sent a personal note to McCoy to that effect.



Poor Spock, Kirk thought. You're going to get awfully bored lying

there with nothing to do. "I want you to get comfortable. Do you want

me to read anything to you? Take your mind off things?"



"How does that work?"



"Simple . . . distraction."



"Ah. Worth the attempt."



"Any preferences?" Kirk began to undo the seals of Spock's boots.



"Perhaps . . ."



"Yes?"



"The Whitman?"



Kirk smiled to himself as he pulled each boot off in turn. "I think I

can oblige." He pulled his collected Whitman out of his bookshelf.

"Sensual human poetry. Who knew?"



"Given a choice between love poetry and pirates--"



"Arrr! What, my good Vulcan, is wrong with piiiirates?"



"They are neither glamourous nor noble but rather the most abject

breed of criminal and they do not interest me in the slightest."



"Oh." Kirk pulled up a chair to sit next to Spock. "If you really want

love poetry, I can read some Pablo Neruda."



"No, thank you."



"Unlovable/ for the very first time,/ like two crusty old/ firemen,

firemen/ unworthy/ of that embroidered/ fire," Kirk quoted.



"That," Spock declared, "is completely illogical."



"You just don't appreciate great art."



"If that is what is considered great art, I shall be content not to."



Kirk placed a hand on Spock's chest. "Can't you . . . try to

appreciate it on . . . some . . . . level?" He leaned over so he was

looking directly into Spock's eyes.



"This cloth is becoming cold."



"Oh. I'll take care of that." Kirk bustled. He noticed the room

thermostat. "Might as well up the temperature as well." He came back

in a hurry, and kissed Spock on the cheek. "Whitman it is. Stubborn."



"I will not impose--"



"It's quite all right. Besides," he said, leaning towards Spock's ear,

"I can think of a 'brother' I'd like to embrace and kiss on the lips

and roll around in the freshly mown grass with . . . and he isn't even

from Kanada . . . with a 'K'."



"I'm at a loss to conceive of a dignified response."



"I know I'm silly. You're just going to have to live with me."



"Indeed."



"Is it really so hard?"



"Perhaps you might read something out of the book in your hand?"



"Who, what, this book?" Kirk laughed gleefully. "Okay. You get your

wish. Hmm, to tease or not to tease . . ." Ordinarily Kirk would go

with tease, but in Spock's current condition it would only make the

poor dear more irritable. Something safe. Ah, *Drum Taps*.



Kirk read "The Wound-Dresser." It seemed appropriate.



"'But in silence, in dreams' projections,/ While the world of gain and

appearance and mirth goes on,/ So soon what is over forgotten, and

waves wash the imprints off the sand.'"



He read: "'Bearing the bandages, water and sponge,/ Straight and swift

to my wounded I go,/ Where they lie on the ground after the battle

brought in,/ Where their priceless blood reddens the grass the

ground.'"



And then: "'Thus in silence in dreams' projections,/ Returning,

resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals,/ The hurt and wounded

I pacify with soothing hand."



He reached over to take Spock's hand, and read the next few lines.

"'Many a soldier's kiss dwells on these bearded lips.' Oh gosh, I

don't remember this being in there. I'm amazed that they actually

published this . . . back then." Kirk flipped to the title page, but

the compilation had been printed and bound the 21st century--no quick

way to see if that line had been printed in Whitman's lifetime.



"Is that all?"



"Of the poem? Uh-huh. I told you no tease, but this is Whitman. Oh,

well. Want a kiss?"



"I would never refuse such an offer, coming from you."



"Why Spock, you say the sweetest things." Kirk leaned over to kiss

Spock, but Spock stopped him. He took the hot pack from his forehead

and sat up.



"Is that okay?" Kirk asked.



"For now," Spock answered, reaching for Kirk.



Kirk nuzzled Spock's neck as they embraced. He laid in a trail of

kisses up the neck and below the ear and across the cheek until he

reached Spock's mouth. He probed with his tongue and felt the

slightest upward curve of Spock's mouth. Then Spock yielded to the

kiss, sucking Kirk's tongue into his mouth, holding Kirk close to him.



Kirk was panting when they finally broke apart. "That makes me feel

better; I don't know about you."



"The analgesic appears to have taken affect, but it will be some time

before the pain is entirely gone. However, your attention has been

most appreciated."



"I'm appreciated," Kirk said, half-tackling Spock with another hug and

kissing him on every available surface.



"You are," Spock said softly, bringing up a hand and gently stroking

Kirk's arm. He sighed. "And my head . . . hurts."



"Lie down. I'll take care of this." He ran back to the sink with the

washcloth and threw the hot pack in the food unit for another dose of

microwave radiation.



Once he had Spock ensconced in his bunk with hot pack and restful

darkness, Kirk could finally relax. He flipped on his terminal and

composed an email to Starfleet Command urging in future greater

thoroughness in anthropological surveys.





Fin.
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