pallanwen: (TOS - Kirk laurels)
pallanwen ([personal profile] pallanwen) wrote2011-05-27 02:54 pm

Fic: The Unreal City 5/6

Title: The Unreal City
Part: 5/6
Fandom: Star Trek TOS
Pairing: Kirk/Spock, Kirk/OMC
Genre: slash, adventure
Rating: PG for this part
Warnings: none for this part
Summary: When the landing party gets lost in the fog of a hostile planet, Kirk and Spock are struggling to get back together in many respects. Contains sea-monsters, mythological allusions, a space version of Venice and epic angst - see for yourself.
A/N: Story is set mid-season 2 with references to Amok Time and Who mourns for Adonais. Also many thanks to my lovely beta Shiny!

5. Fear Death by Water

Being back with the others made everything much easier. The foggy labyrinth of La Città had lost its menace and transformed into just another location on another planet, still a landing party astray and a mission gone wrong – but nothing that couldn’t be fixed.

Besides, Spock was there. Kirk could still feel the touch of the Vulcan’s hand on his. His skin had been so hot – sometimes Kirk thought he would never get used to the Vulcan’s higher body temperature. There had been a reaction when he had looked into Spock’s dark eyes, but it was still difficult to read the emotions behind the stoic façade. He is glad to see me, glad that I’m still alive. But what if he finds out what I’ve been up to?

Kirk shook his head and tried to push back the unpleasant thought. Right now he had no time for speculation. He was the captain, he had to lead his men out of here – everything else was secondary.

“Do you know where we can get a boat?” he asked Julia Bellini.

She nodded. “Unfortunately, I can’t give you one of our family’s gondole, you wouldn’t be able to steer them, but there must be another boat you can use somewhere around here…”

However, a lengthy discussion and half an hour later their plans had been altered and Kirk found himself together with Spock, crouching in the moldy darkness of a boat shed waiting for McCoy and Julia to return.

As their first priority was the repair of the communicator, they had agreed on McCoy and Julia to obtain the spare parts. It was too dangerous to have Spock running around due to his distinctively alien complexion. Kirk himself had volunteered to go, of course, but he had been overruled. Dionysus himself was searching for him, which meant it was better to stay undercover. Which left only McCoy as the least conspicuous member of their party. Plus, he was already wearing local dress, it should be fairly easy for him to blend in.

McCoy and Julia had left several minutes ago. Since then, Kirk and Spock hadn’t spoken much. It was only when the silence was becoming oppressive that the Vulcan cleared his throat and spoke up.

“If Doctor McCoy can get hold of an adequate lens and the necessary copper wires, I will be able to finish my alterations of the circuits,” he said. “Thus the communicator will be capable of receiving signals, which would otherwise be blocked by the particles within the atmosphere. There is a seventy-six percent probability that we…”

“Stop it, Mr. Spock, please!”

The very second Spock closed his mouth, Kirk was already regretting his words. He hadn’t wanted to snap at his friend like this. “I’m sorry, Spock. I…”

“It’s alright, Captain.”

Once again they lapsed into silence. For a long time, the chortling sound of the water against the gondolas in front of them was the only thing to be heard. Kirk turned around to look at Spock. The Vulcan was sitting only an arm’s length away, but it might as well have been another planet. He was not looking at Kirk, but staring straight ahead towards the opening of the shed, where a rectangular expanse of brackish water was the only source of light in the semi-darkness.

I’m sure he knows what happened with Dionysus. He probably found it out telepathically when he was touching me. Otherwise he wouldn’t act so strange. Guilt crept up like bile in Kirk’s throat. It was stupid of me, I should have known better.

In the greenish light that permeated the room, Spock’s feature’s appeared even more alien than usual. And even though Kirk had known him for years, he still marveled at the sight of the Vulcan’s pointed ears, the sharp angles of his eyebrows, the elegant cheekbones and the pale olive skin. He wanted nothing more than to reach out and touch him, let his fingers run along the firm muscles of his arm, reach up and stroke his cheek, his lips, his ears, his neck, draw him closer and kiss him, kiss him in that messy human way the Vulcan still had to get used to.

Of course, Kirk did none of these things. Instead, he was sitting here, staring like a love-sick schoolboy. He was a Starship Captain, for God’s sake. He had mastered worse situations, why couldn’t he bring up the courage and talk to Spock, explain himself and finally end this misery?

“You are watching me, Captain.” The words hung in the air, not really a question. They had remained silent for so long that Spock’s deep voice was almost tangible, vibrating close to Kirk’s skin.

He didn’t know what to say. And now – finally – Spock turned his head and looked back. Transfixed, Kirk couldn’t help but stare back, mesmerized by the Vulcan’s dark dark eyes.

“Spock,” he murmured and reached out. And just as his fingers touched Spock’s shoulder, there was a knock at the door. McCoy and Julia had returned. Kirk froze in the middle of his movement and somewhat awkwardly lowered his hand. Spock’s face remained unreadable.

Oblivious to what had been going on, McCoy entered the shed, his face brightened by a broad smile when he lifted the small bag he was holding. “Look, Spock, we got all the supplies you need! Now let’s repair that damn comm and leave this place!”

He handed the bag to Spock, who didn’t answer, staring at the object in his hand as if it was a dangerous insect.


The Vulcan flinched visibly. Kirk knew him well enough to see how much he was struggling to pull himself together. And all Kirk could feel was relief. He is not indifferent – on the contrary, he is most definitively feeling something – damnit Bones, you have the worst timing ever!

“Thank you, Doctor” Spock’s voice was cool and controlled as he unpacked the bundle and started to tinker with the communicator. “I should be able to complete the design now.”

Julia had watched the exchange with apparent impatience. “You have to hurry up,” she said. “Whatever you’re planning to do with this device, there’s not much time left before the Wind sets in.”

“The wind?” Kirk remembered his conversation with the merchants on St Mark’s Square. “What kind of wind? I’ve already heard people talking about it yesterday!”

Julia’s eyes went wide. “Don’t tell me you do not know about the Wind? Il Vento?”

“I’m sorry, but none of us seems to have heard about it.” This was McCoy, looking every bit as confused as Kirk.

“You must be coming from very far away if you don’t know about the Wind.”

“Well, it would be very helpful if you could explain it to us,” said Kirk.

Il Vento rises in the evening, when the fog clears for an hour or two,” Julia began. “We don’t know exactly what is causing it, but it has been blowing from the swamplands in the west for more than a hundred years. Neither the Signoria nor the Liberator have been able to do anything against it, although they sent out a number of expeditions to find out what’s causing it. But the swamps are dangerous, full of mist, boggy ground and poisonous insects, so the source has never been found.”

But what does this wind do?” McCoy wanted to know.

It makes us see things. If we breathe in the air, whatever happens to be in our heads manifests right in front of our eyes. Most of the time it makes us encounter our worst fears. Every year people die of fright because of Il Vento. We’ve learned to remain at home, whenever the fog lifts and the wind sets in. I strongly suggest that you do so as well.”

That makes sense Kirk thought. This is why I saw Spock, even if he wasn’t present. Hardly surprising, I haven’t been thinking about anything else these days.

“The sea-creature!” McCoy’s face had grown pale. “I saw one of them in the middle of the city, it could have impossibly appeared there on its own.”

Spock looked up from his work with the communicator. “It is only logical,” he said. “You were attacked by the creature when we arrived and the wind brought up the obvious fears from the upper levels of your sub-consciousness.”

The most obvious fears… Does this mean I’m afraid of Spock?

“Well, I’m not terribly keen on facing that thing again, but I’d say that we should be able to remain outside during the wind, now that we know what we have to expect,” said McCoy.

“Doctor McCoy is right,” said Spock. “We cannot risk waiting for the wind to cease. We have to return to the spot, where we beamed down as soon as I have finished my repairs.”

“And why is that?” asked Kirk. “Why can’t we simply ask Scotty to beam us from where we are now, once you’ve established contact?”

The atmospheric disturbances render our signal very weak, Captain. There is not much time to transmit our coordinates – if the Enterprise will be able to hear us at all. If we head back to the location where we arrived it might be easier for them, as the coordinates will still be saved within the computer.”

“This sounds very logical, Mr. Spock,” said Kirk, struggling to keep his voice normal as he addressed the Vulcan. “Continue with your repairs, while we prepare for leaving.”

He turned towards Miss Bellini. “You spoke about getting us a boat,” he said, looking around in the shed, which was, of course, full of boats.

She nodded, but her face grew worried. “You should be able to take one of these rowing boats here – but I won’t be able to come with you to guide you.”

“Oh yes of course the wind!”

“I’ll have to remain inside and wear this.“ Julia rummaged in a pocket of her coat and took put a piece of cloth and a small glass bottle. “We all do – filtering the air and staying inside reliefs the effect of the wind. Otherwise... Well, I told you about it, I for myself don’t want to die of heart failure.”

“The Thalassians’ metabolism differs from humans and Vulcans,” Spock explained. “Their respiratory passages seems to be adapted to the high air humidity, thus they absorb airborne substances much faster than we do.”

“Well, it’s a shame Miss Bellini cannot come with us.” Kirk’s regret was sincere, since he had come to like the courageous young woman. “But in the end, these circumstance will be very convenient for our escape, don’t you think so, gentlemen? There will be no guards to pursue us.”

“Well, I hope so,” said McCoy.

Julia did not appear very convinced. “The guards won’t pursue you; you’re right about that, Capitano. But you’ve mentioned that you had a … disagreement with the Liberator. No one knows what powers he is capable to unleash on you.”

“Wait a moment,” McCoy interrupted her. “You’ve all been talking about this Liberator, who rules this city. Who is he, and what have you” he looked at Kirk “done to annoy him so much?”

Once again, Kirk squirmed. “Let’s keep it short: I’ve… visited him and there has been a … disagreement, which isn’t very important right now. I’ll explain it to you once we’re back on the ship, Bones. What is far more relevant is the fact that the Liberator claims to be the Greek god Dionysus – does this remind you of anything?”

“Another Greek god? Like Apollo, back on Pollux IV?”


Oh shit. And of course, you just had to upset him. Great, Jim, thanks for making our stay here so much easier!”

“I’m sorry Bones, I didn’t mean to and I…”

“Captain, it would be far more important if you could inform us about this so-called god’s specific powers.” Spock’s voice was as cool and distanced as usual when discussing scientific phenomena, but Kirk was sure there had been a muscle twitching in his face, betraying Spock’s emotions, which were, however, still unreadable to him.

“Go on, Jim, tell us, what Dionysus is going to do to us!” said McCoy “Will he crush us beneath his feet or does he prefer to have us torn apart by a bunch of satyrs?”

A brief vision of Apollo’s thirty-feet figure manifested in Kirk’s head. But so far, Dionysus had refrained from displaying the god-like powers of his brother.

“I don’t know,” he answered. “Until now, Dionysus hasn’t done anything, but trying to keep me imprisoned in the palace. Maybe it takes up all his resources to sustain his power over the city’s inhabitants as it is and he is not able to perform any more stunts to keep us here?”

Julia Bellini, who had been silent for a while, shook her head. “God-like powers you say? The Liberator is many things, but we’ve never considered him a god – and he has never done anything god-like in all those years.”

This was further proof to the theory that Dionysus used his powers differently from Apollo. Somewhere in the city a power plant similar to the one they had discovered below Apollo’s temple must be hidden – too bad that there was no time left to seek it out. Controlling the source of Dionysus’ power would have made things a lot easier.

Kirk’s thoughts were interrupted by a sound he would have thought never to hear again – the familiar chitter of the communicator.

“It’s working!” A broad smile spread across McCoy’s face.

“Indeed it is,” said Spock and flicked his elegant Vulcan fingers across the controls. “But I must switch it off again until we reach the shore – I had to improvise the new circuits and they are still extremely unstable. We cannot risk damaging them by using the communicator unnecessarily.”

Well then, let’s take that damn boat and leave,” said McCoy, already halfway on his way to the water. “What are you waiting for?”

Kirk was quite glad that the discussion about Dionysus and the events within the Palazzo Ducale had been postponed and he quickly followed the others as they entered the boat. After a quick instruction from Julia, Kirk and Spock took hold of the oars.

Try to start slowly,” Julia said, “and pay attention to keep up a consistent rhythm. Otherwise it should not be too difficult. After all, this is just a simple rowing boat, not a gondola, which would take years to learn to steer properly.”

“But what about you?” Kirk asked when Julia made no move to leave the shed or take a boat on her own. “Isn’t it too dangerous for you to stay here, with all the guards after you? Aren’t they still hunting you and your brother?”

“Don’t worry about me,” she said, lifting her chin and flashing him a valiant smile. “This isn’t the first time the Vivarini have intrigued against my family. I’ll go and take care of my brother and then we’ll hide with relatives on one of the islands in the northern parts of the lagoon. In a few weeks, things should have calmed down and it will be the Vivarini who are pursued by the Signoria – it’s always the same.”

Kirk was not convinced, but he had no chance to express his doubts, because Julia reached out with her foot and gave the boat a hearty kick, pushing it several feet towards the open water.

Leave now,” she said, lifting the veil, which was supposed to protect her against the fog, and started to wrap it around her head. Her voice sounded muffled once her mouth had disappeared behind a layer of cloth. “I am glad I got to know you. Maybe we’ll meet again one day! Arriverderci!”

The boat was gliding backwards and Spock had started rowing. Kirk had no choice but to grip the other oar.

Julia waved them goodbye. All that remained of her face was the pair of dark eyes visible above her veil. “Arrividerci,” she repeated.

Then the boat left the shed and they were surrounded by the muddy green water of the open canal.

“Time to get back home,” Kirk said as he and Spock began to row in earnest.


* * *


The wind was approaching fast. They could feel it, a cool breeze on their faces as the fog was slowly lifting. And while the stately façades of the buildings at the canal sides were steadily emerging from the mist, the city and the waterways grew more and more deserted.

McCoy was sitting at the boat’s rear, nervously watching Kirk and Spock pull the oars. He felt somewhat redundant, even if he knew perfectly well that only two people could do the rowing. Instead, he was looking around, ready to cry out at every moment, should their persecutors appear on top of a bridge or within a canal mouth. But so far, no guards were to be seen. On the contrary, La Città was quickly transforming into a ghost town. Soon enough, not a single person was to be seen, neither on land nor on the water.

“I don’t like this,” McCoy said to no one in particular. “Gives me the creeps.”

Kirk turned his head and cast him a sympathetic glance. “It’s not far,” he said. “Look, over there, we’ve almost reached the end of the big canal, you can already see the open water.”

It was good to have Jim back. McCoy hadn’t even realized how much he had missed him. But still, even now that their trio was reunited, he was unable to shake off the fear that crept up in his throat as soon as he caught sight of the sea.

The water was deep out here; deep enough to hide lots of the dark tentacled creatures with their uncanny orange eyes and slick black skin. McCoy shivered. He hadn’t believed a word of Julia’s assertions that the maenads were harmless. His unease grew stronger when he realized that the wind had freshened.

I mustn’t think of them. Otherwise they’ll be all upon me within seconds. He tried hard to focus on something else, but the images wouldn’t leave his head.

He shook his head, forced himself to look away from the water and focused his gaze on his friends instead. Even if he could only see their backs, their sight calmed him down a bit. Jim’s broad shoulders and Spock’s lanky Vulcan frame had become fix points, familiar sights of his daily life since he had boarded the Enterprise. Planets, patients and missions changed – but those two, they remained the same. They… God, what am I thinking? But still, this sappy stuff was better than the sea-creatures. ‘Maenads’, the Bellinis had called them… Vague memories crept up in his head. The name sounded familiar. Maenad… this was definitively not an Italian word. Wait… no, it sounded Greek instead. Greek… the Bellinis and Jim had both mentioned Greek names – The Liberator, who claimed that he was the god Dionysus. Dionysus… the god of wine with his entourage of satyrs and…

“Oh shit!”

“Bones? What is it?” Kirk nearly dropped his oar when he span around and saw the look of panic on McCoy’s face.

“The maenads,” McCoy gasped, “They are under Dionysus’ control! The guards from La Città won’t follow us, because of the wind. But the maenads, they…”

Too late. The water was already boiling.

He saw the shock in Jim’s eyes, when the tentacles shot out of the water. Dozens of them, no hundreds as the sea became a maelstrom of foam, huge black groaning bodies and swirling tentacles as thick as a human thigh.

Row,” Kirk screamed. “We have to get out of here!”

Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit! We’ll never make it!

Their boat seemed fragile as a kid’s toy, jumping up and down between the waves. Foam was splashing high and within seconds they were all drenched to the bone. A large tentacle shot through the air, missing their heads by millimeters.

But still, they were moving forwards, meter for meter. Why haven’t they pulled us down? For creatures of this size it must be a piece of cake to grab the boat and simply pull it underwater.

Instead, they were maneuvering through a forest of swarming tentacles; foul stench filled the air as slimy water was dripping from the monsters’ writhing limbs. Icy wind penetrating their clothes, McCoy was barely able to grip the boat’s low railing, let alone make any move to defend himself. He was wondering how Jim and Spock managed to hold their oars at all.

The darn wind will make us freeze to death if the maenads don’t get to drown us!

Wait a second… The Wind…

Of course!

They’re not real!” McCoy shouted against the storm and the roar of the waves. “It’s the wind! We’re seeing them, because we’re expecting them to be here! They’re not real!”

Unfortunately the revelation didn’t make the creatures vanish. And it was still a tricky to navigate between their splashing bodies, cowering beneath the whipping tentacles. For a hallucination the creatures felt extraordinarily solid.

But they didn’t attack. And after what seemed like an eternity filled with icy foam, burning salt and reeking monsters, the boat was finally approaching the shore.

“Five meters to go,” yelled Spock “Beware of the…” Too late. With a crunching sound the boat collided with a rock. The sharp edge pierced directly through the hull and within seconds the vessel was filling up with water.

The communicator!” shouted Kirk, “Spock! Watch out for the comm!”

They were all treading water by now. The Vulcan answered something unintelligible and awkwardly lifted the device above his head as he was trying to swim with one arm.

Wave after wave hit the boat and only seconds could have passed until they had to abandon the vessel completely. The shore was not far away, but the surf was brutal and treacherous rocks were lurking beneath the surface. One of them hit McCoy’s already damaged ankle and he bellowed a curse, only to be silenced abruptly as a sudden wave washed across his head and filled his mouth with salt water.

If I’ll ever make it out of here alive, I will…

There was no time for wishful thinking, because the next wave was already approaching, right after he had resurfaced and managed to clear his eyes and throat of the stinging water.

“Bones!” That was Jim. “Are you alright?” His voice seemed to be coming from several yards above, but right now the waves were too high for McCoy to see him. He could be glad that he hadn’t completely lost orientation.

“Hurry up Bones, we’re over here! It’s nothing more than a few meters until the shore!”

“I’m a doctor, not a dolphin,” McCoy grumbled into the waves. He held his breath, closed his eyes and headed straight into the direction where he had last heard his friend’s voice.

And suddenly, he could feel the ground beneath his feet again.

The water had become shallow, there were solid rocks scraping his knees and then two pairs of strong arms were lifting him out of the water and helped him to climb the piles of rocks that made up the shoreline.

“Thanks Jim, thanks Spock,” McCoy mumbled before he sank down on the floor, because his knees were shaking badly and his ankle hurt like hell. “I… I think this means we made it, doesn’t it?”

“I wish this was the case,” said Spock, “but I am afraid we cannot be sure until we test the communicator.”

“Well, we should trust Mr. Spock in this case, don’t you think so, Jim?” McCoy struggled to get back on his legs.




Jim’s face was sickly pale and he was staring onto the sea, an expression of utmost horror on his face. “It’s not over yet,” he said. “He is coming for me!”

McCoy followed his gaze and froze. At first he couldn’t make out details with the foam of the surf and the mist still omnipresent in the air, but as soon as his eyes adapted to the situation, he just stared in disbelief.

Someone was coming from the city, drawing closer by the second – someone who was driving a chariot pulled by four goddamn maenads!

“It is him, Dionysus,” Jim said, his voice still weak. He was visibly fighting to suppress his shock.

After looking at his friend McCoy had to turn his head to the sea again, he couldn’t help but stare in terror as well.

The chariot was fast approaching; four maenads were parting the waves with quick movements, white foam roaring around their large black bodies, their tentacles weaving a writhing maze in front of the vehicle. The chariot itself seemed to be constructed after historical Terran patterns; it closely resembled antique models, McCoy had once seen in one of those books Jim collected. Behind the chariot’s golden railing stood a man, apparently the one, who claimed to be the Greek god. In contrast to the Apollo, this “god” at least did not exhibit superhuman size. The expression in his face, however…, and his eyes, oh dear god his eyes!

“Bones!” McCoy heard Jim’s voice, but he was unable to answer, he could do nothing, but stare into these glowing golden eyes.

Bones!” There was a hand on his arm, someone was shaking him, but he couldn’t move. His whole field of vision was filled with gold. He thought he could hear the sound of drums and pipes above the roaring of the waves and there was a strange smell in his nose, reminiscent of pines and olives – not that far away from the cedars and pines he recalled from his youth in Georgia.

Bones! Leonard!” Fingers clamped down hard on his wrist. “Goddamn it, Bones, listen to me!”

The golden eyes were drawing closer, everything was drowning in gold, the pipes were growing louder and everything…

Then there was a different pair of eyes within his field of vision, something disrupting his eye contact to Dionysus. It took him a while until he recognized Jim’s face. At first he wanted to push him away, wanted to return into the golden dream and sink into the rhythm of the ancient music. Someone touched his face, warm fingers on his foam-wetted skin.

Bones! Come back to us!”

Kirk’s eyes burned into his – they were golden as well, a different hue, darker, but warmer and without the overwhelming power of the god – human eyes – human…

And then he felt something break and he was himself again.

“Jim!” He shook his head, trying to clear away the fog that had been clouding his mind.

“Bones – I thought he’d got you!” Kirk said, once again looking over his shoulder where the chariot was still fast approaching. All in all, McCoy could only have been absent for seconds.

“Now hurry up!” Kirk grabbed his arm. “Spock’s almost done with the comm, we’re close to establishing contact.”

They took a few steps across the rocky shoreline and reached the Vulcan who was still working at the communicator.

“He’s almost there, Mr. Spock, we’ve only got seconds!”

“I’m doing my best, Captain,” the Vulcan said, but even his voice was shaky as his fingers scurried across the communicator’s controls.

They were all holding their breath. And there it was, the faint chitter as the device was coming to live.

The roar of the maenads was coming closer by the second – nobody dared to turn around, fearing that the maenads’ tentacles might grab them any second – McCoy could almost feel their slimy grip around his ankles.

And then, suddenly, there was Scotty’s voice. “Enterprise here, Captain, is that you?”

“Scotty!” Jim’s voice was flat and breathless. “We are alive and well, but in a hurry! Three to beam up at the very coordinates we arrived yesterday! - Kirk out.”

Aye, Captain.” The communicator made a strange clicking sound when Scotty had finished. Let’s hope this doesn’t mean it’s broken again.

Stop!” A voice rang out from the sea and with a sudden heavy roar the maenads’ tentacles smacked onto the rocks, only inches from where Kirk had stood seconds ago.

Dionysus had arrived.

I forbid you to leave my city!” The god was dressed in a leopard skin, waving a large scepter, his eyes flaming.

Kirk turned around and was just opening his mouth to reply when the golden glitter of the transporter beam engulfed his frame. McCoy felt it as well, the familiar cool tingle set in, running through his body, once he had stopped moving and assumed standard transport position. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Spock, similarly preparing for transportation.

And finally everything dissolved into gold and within the blink of an eye they were back on the Enterprise.


* * *


When Kirk opened his eyes again, he was back on the ship. His ship. The sound of the engine, the soft hum of the air-conditioning, the familiar smell – relief hit him with full force. We’re back – we’re back home. Finally.

“It’s good to have you back, Captain.” Scotty appeared from behind the transporter console, where he had waited with Lieutenant Kyle, relief visible on his broad face. “And you two as well, Mr. Spock and Doctor McCoy!”

Kirk’s legs were shaking when he stepped down from the transporter platform. He straightened his back and tried to regain his composure, but when he looked at Spock and McCoy he realized that they were both as shaken as him.

All three of them weren’t cutting the best figure, dripping wet as they were in their ragged mixture of the torn remains of their Starfleet uniform thrown together with clothes from La Città (not to speak of the ridiculous outfit he himself was still wearing)

“Well, Mr. Scott, I will resume command in a minute, keep the ship in orbit until then.”

He knew that the story wasn’t over – he only had to look at Spock and see the expression on his face to realize that the aftermath of their sojourn on Thalassus was yet to come. But for now it was best to carry on with the usual routine; the familiar mechanisms of command kept him from thinking too much.

“Jim, don’t you think…”

“Not now, Bones. I’ll just get rid of these rags and then I’ll return to the bridge immediately.”

McCoy had no chance to answer; Kirk was already hurrying into the direction of his quarters.

Ten minutes later, he was ready to resume command. It was good to be wearing his Starfleet uniform again. When he took a quick look into the mirror, Kirk felt like himself again for the first time in over twenty-four hours.

When he left his quarters and headed towards the turbolift, McCoy was waiting for him.

“Jim,” he said and stepped in the way when Kirk tried to enter the lift. “Wait.”

“What is it, Bones? Don’t you want to come to the bridge with me?”

McCoy frowned and shook his head. “I don’t think that’s a good idea, Jim,” he said. “Don’t you think we should sit down and talk for a while before you get back into the command chair?”

“But the ship…”

The Enterprise will get along fine without you for another half hour. You know that Scotty takes good care of her.” He put a hand on Kirk’s arm. “Come with me to sickbay, Jim. I think we both need a drink.”

There was no point in refusing. “You know me too well,” he grumbled into McCoy’s direction. The doctor gave him a wry smile as he led him towards sickbay.

After they had sat down and McCoy had fetched the bottle of Saurian brandy he was hiding ‘for emergencies’ inside one of the medical cabinets, there was no escape.

“Well Jim, I think you should tell me about what happened in the city,” said McCoy and poured him a glass. “Also, there is something about Spock, I don’t really understand. Do you think you could help me with that?”

Kirk sighed, downed his brandy and began to talk.