Weeks passed. Eventually, all of the mandatory physicals were complete, and several more people had been initiated into the agonizer-free zone. McCoy encountered less contented commentary as he made his way up the ranks. Most of the officers who'd made Lieutenant - especially those who did regular bridge rotations - were angry that they'd been "cheated" out of advancement. This was unheard of, and they didn't understand why not having agonizers should also mean that they couldn't move up in the ranks now that a "space" had been opened. Most of them were personally affronted that Spock had yet to choose a First Officer.
Leonard could tell that the officers weren't being as open with him as other members of the crew had been. Ensigns had less to lose than Lieutenant Commanders, should "doctor-patient confidentiality" turn out to be bullshit. And it had certainly not passed anyone's notice that Dr. McCoy spent upwards of two hours each evening in the new captain's private chambers.
Despite the growing not-quite-hostility from the ranking crew members, Spock stayed true to his word and never punished anyone based on the doctor's reports. That, coupled with the fact that he had managed to become the "ear" of two captains in the course of one career, served to elevate his status even higher than it already was as the man aboard who had ultimate control over the ship's biological weapons and pain killers. The crew treated McCoy with as much respect as they treated Spock, and he was sure he could have told anyone to do anything, and they would have done it, no questions asked. In the spirit of Spock's new "command without bloodshed" agenda, Leonard exercised discretion and tried not to abuse his power.
The doctor thought about Jim often. At first, he only felt near-blinding rage. Bull-head bastard! If Jim wanted to rot in Third Level for the rest of his life, then, dammit, let him rot.
After about a month, though, when the heat of his anger abated, and only hurt remained, he began to miss Jim, and wonder how he was doing. He tried to ask Spock about him, but Spock would only say that Jim was not ill, and therefore was not his concern. Leonard dropped the subject for a while, but he grew to miss Jim even more. Knowing Kirk was aboard the ship, but that he couldn't see him saddened McCoy tremendously. He found himself longing to visit Jim again. He wanted to talk to him and be held by him, and to wipe away the horrible ending of their last meeting.
The subject of visiting Jim didn't come up again until after the first revolt. McCoy wasn't aware of it at first - not until four of Spock's men burst into Sickbay, two of them supporting Spock between them.
"Christ!" McCoy rushed to them, wincing at the dark green splotch spreading from Spock's lower back. "Take him to ten," he ordered. "Chapel, get that room prepped! Dawson, clear my appointments for today, Green take over with Ech'ter in fifteen, my notes are in the second file."
McCoy listened only peripherally to the choruses of "yes sirs" from his staff. He was in full alert mode, focused on Spock's wound and how lucky they were that Spock's physiology was different from both humans and full-blooded Vulcans. They'd have hit a kidney if he were human and his liver if it had been where Vulcan livers were. Spock's men laid him swiftly but gently on the biobed and cut his tunic away without being asked. They hurried out of McCoy's way, while still managing to look like dignified Vulcans.
The doctor inspected the wound and his jaw clenched. Deep. Deep, and wide, and still bleeding profusely. The biobed bleeped with dire warnings about Spock's imminent decline into shock and his erratic heartbeat. Behind him, Chapel was already preparing an anti-shock hypo. He reached for it, and quickly administered the dose. While he worked on stemming the flow of blood and decontaminating the area so he could prepare for surgery, Leonard spoke to the guards. "Who did this?"
"Sulu, Chekov and three others," Selek replied.
Damn! "Are we secure?"
Selek glanced at one of his fellow guards, Sokan. "They are in the brig, Doctor," the other man replied.
McCoy looked up sharply. "The brig, are you insane? Why are they still alive?"
"Those are Captain Spock's orders, sir," Selek answered, looking very much as if he didn't agree with that particular command.
McCoy gaped in open shock, looking from Selek to Sokan to the prostrate Vulcan whose life's blood was still trailing down onto the biobed. Green-blooded, idealistic stupid, amazing, idiotic, brave- "Clear the room," he said. "I want two of you outside this door - nobody comes in, understand?"
They left, and McCoy got to work. He administered an anesthetic to be sure Spock didn't regain consciousness before he was done, and worked on repairing the damage. Blood flow remained an issue, and he instructed Chapel to monitor his pressure and report every thirty seconds. She reported on his vitals religiously as instructed, and assisted him with that almost uncanny ability to sense exactly what he needed and precisely when he needed it that had gotten her to the position of Head Nurse. It was for this reason, and of course, for her long-standing unrequited crush on their captain, that he had chosen her for this surgery. McCoy knew he could trust her to do her damnedest to save Spock's life, even though she knew her feelings would never be returned.
When, at last, the wound was closed, and Spock was stabilized, McCoy allowed himself a sigh of relief. There had been moments when he wasn't sure Spock would live through the surgery, and just the thought of what might happen if Spock died with the ship in this limbo-like state threatened to make him sick to his stomach. Chapel dabbed at Leonard's forehead again, startling him since his hands were technically free now. He grasped her hand instinctively, but smiled when she gasped. "Thank you, Christine." He nodded toward the door abd released her. "You're dismissed."
"Yes, sir." She pulled the instrument tray a few feet, looking down worriedly at Spock the entire time. "Will he live, Doctor?"
McCoy checked the readings and looked at his nurse. "It's up to the captain now," he replied.
She looked sharply at him, clearly not happy with that answer. She looked at Spock once more before looking at Leonard, eyes narrowed, jaw tight. "If he dies, I'll kill Sulu myself," she hissed.
Leonard knew he should reprimand her for threatening to defy the captain's orders, but at the moment her feelings mirrored his own. He wanted to offer to hold them all down while she cut them to pieces. "Our captain's a fighter," he said after a moment. "I wouldn't start sharpening my blade just yet."
She smiled and left the room. Selek stepped in at the same time. "His status, Doctor?"
"Stable," McCoy replied. He tactfully pretended not to notice the Vulcan's shoulders losing some of their tension. "I want someone stationed outside this door until further notice," Leonard said. "Get someone on the surveillance records - find out if anyone else was involved. The last thing we need is another attack. He's lost a lot of blood, and it'll be a while before he's back to full strength."
"It will be done."
Selek turned away, but McCoy stopped him. "Wait." He frowned nervously at the man on the biobed. "Look, don't let on that the wound was as bad as it is, or we'll have every opportunistic backstabber on the ship trying to take a crack at him. He was up and alert by the time the surgery was over, all right? Tell Chapel the same thing."
Selek nodded. "Understood, sir."
Once the guard left, McCoy pulled up a low seat and set it beside Spock's bed. As an afterthought, he pulled out his dagger and tested the blade against his thumb. Satisfied, he sat down, blade in hand, and waited for Spock to wake up.
"Out of the question."
"Spock, I've given this a lot of thought, and I really-"
"No!" Spock winced and shifted slightly.
Leonard glanced at the bio-readings. "Do you need pain relief?"
"Negative. Your plan is foolhardy, if not actually suicidal, and I will not entertain it."
"Why do you defy me?" Spock winced again. "I have said-"
"I'm not defying you, Spock, I'm trying to help you!" McCoy measured out a dose of analgesic and shot Spock with it before he could protest. "I'm trying to help all of us. Your ideas are excellent, but you need help to implement them. I just think if you talked to J-"
Leonard cringed. "Sorry. But... if you spoke to him, you could convince him to work with you, and-"
"And he would kill me the moment he was free," Spock said, his voice sounding tired, but still firm. "Or, alternately, he would pretend to ally with me and kill me later. No, Doctor, I will not risk it."
McCoy sighed. "Dammit, Spock, listen to yourself! You're trying to change the core values of an entire empire, and here you are, already knifed in the back before you've managed to convince the crew of one ship that this might be a good idea. Obviously, you're taking a huge risk as it is!" Spock frowned, but didn't speak. "Look, you know how charismatic he is. He could settle the crew down, and maybe even speak to the other starship captains. If he did, they would definitely listen. All you have to do is-"
"Put my life in the hands of the man whose rank, command and freedom I have stripped from him?" Spock shook his head. "You are not being logical, Doctor."
"Not logical? You're as bull-headed as he is! When you worked together, there was nothing the two of you couldn't do! If you convince him to see the benefit of this new way, what makes you think it will be different?"
"The balance of power has changed! If I seek his help, he will wrest power away from me, and I will be at his mercy. What makes you think that he will not simply incite the crew to mutiny against me?" Spock gestured toward the bandages swathed around his torso. "As you can see, there is clearly precedence for the successful outcome of such a plot."
"All right, I'll grant you that, but Spock, just think about it. Even the fact that he's alive will show the crew that you're serious about making real change. It's an act of good faith! You could-"
"No, Doctor! I will not entertain this discussion further. I-"
"Enough, McCoy," Spock shouted, sitting up suddenly. He groaned a second later, and pressed a hand to his wound. He let out a whispered oath in Vulcan, clenching his fists, and squeezing his eyes shut.
"All right, sir," the doctor said quietly. "All right. Come on, Spock, lay back." He did so without argument - a testament to the amount pain he must be in. The wound was still fresh - barely twenty-four hours old. McCoy checked his readings. "The hypo I gave you will start working soon."
Spock nodded, and looked at him seriously - even for a Vulcan. "You have served me well, Doctor. Selek told me of your instruction for managing reports of my injury. It was a wise decision, and one which I am certain has served to allow me a relatively peaceful recovery. I have not yet had occasion to regret allowing you your freedom, McCoy. Please do not give me cause to regret that decision now."
The doctor nodded slowly. "I understand, Captain," he said.
"Good. Dismissed." McCoy saluted and left the room, after taking a last look at Spock's readings.
Dr. McCoy decided that it would be wise to let the subject of Jim drop for a while, but the idea far from died. In fact, he became practically obsessed with the thought of Spock and Jim working together to bring about change for the fleet and the empire. He envisioned Spock giving a logical explanation of why it would be beneficial for everyone concerned if they were to preempt the Halkan Resistance, and begin to run the Empire in a different way. He imagined Jim resisting at first, then seeing the beauty of it - the possibilities. He could be brought around - he would come around. He would learn to accept serving under Spock. Eventually. Or... maybe not, but after the changes were made, maybe Jim could take control of another ship. Hah. The idea of Jim willingly leaving the Enterprise was laughable. Maybe Spock would decide to take over another ship. But the thought of Spock leaving bothered Leonard for some reason - a reason that he flatly refused to examine. Whatever, dammit! The two of them would get together, their special brand of magic would ensue, and all would be more right with the world.
Now if only Leonard could get them to talk to each other.
Spock grew stronger at a steady rate. He was able to return to duty within three days of the incident. McCoy wanted him to wait at least two more days, but he was overruled. "If the crew is to believe that I was not grievously wounded in Sulu's attack, then I must return to duty as quickly as possible. Do you not agree with the logic of this?" And of course, McCoy couldn't argue against that logic, though he did insist on keeping close eye on Spock, scanning him as often as was reasonable, and watching him for signs of fatigue.
Sulu and his accomplices, (Ensign Chekov, two members of the security team and an engineer), were tried for mutiny, and causing bodily harm to a fellow officer. Everyone at the trial was stunned by the second charge - bodily harm was now a crime? Certainly, a subordinate officer who had attacked a superior and failed had committed a crime, but Fleet discipline was based on pain as punishment. Or, at least, it had been.
It was during the announcement of the mutineers' sentencing that Spock made the entire crew aware of his new method of punishment and reward. Those who wished to remain enthralled by the old system were welcome to identify themselves, and they would be dropped off at the nearest starbase. Needless to say, no one volunteered to be shunted off the ship and out of their positions. Spock seemed to count this a gain, but McCoy was pretty sure that the crew actually thought they'd be killed if they "chose" to stick to the old ways.
The actual sentencing of Sulu and the others was the most shocking thing of all. All of the mutineers were reduced one level in rank. As the confessed mastermind of the plot, Sulu was removed from his position as Security Chief, in addition to being sentenced to three months in the Second Level brig. Chekov, Daxon, Loakis and K'Thel were sentenced to three month's imprisonment in First Level. Leonard was shocked. Even the mutineers themselves thought Spock's sentence was madness. They sputtered in disbelief, but one raised eyebrow, and a soft-spoken, "Would you rather die?" shut them up immediately.
McCoy wasn't nearly as satisfied with that answer. During Spock's checkup that evening, he made his objections known. "Are you absolutely insane?"
Spock sighed. "Doctor, I would think the answer to that question is obvious."
"Well, I would have thought that, too, before today!" Leonard scanned Spock's lower back, noting the steady healing and lack of infection. "Three months in the brig? You must be out of your damned mind!"
"That was not their only consequence," Spock said calmly, lifting his shirt so that McCoy could visually inspect the wound.
"Dammit, Spock, you-"
"Was it not you, Doctor, who indicated that an act of good faith would be beneficial to my cause?"
The doctor glared, while gently replacing Spock's bandage with a fresh one. "I was talking about J- him, not those assassins!"
"Doctor," Spock said calmly. "The men who attacked me have been indoctrinated in a method of behavior that has been successful in the past, and that is used by the vast majority of the conquered galaxy. It is necessary to make certain allowances during this period of adjustment."
"Allowa- ... you... Spo-..."
"Are you quite finished, Doctor? I have reports to complete."
"You are infuriating!" he cried, raising his hands in disgust. "Yes, I'm done! I just hope you know what you're doing, Captain."
Spock pulled his shirt back down over the fresh dressing and stood up from the bio-bed. He headed for the door, but turned at the threshold and looked at Leonard. "So do I, Doctor."