beatrice_otter: Zachary Quinto's Spock (Spock)
[personal profile] beatrice_otter
Title: All the Difference
Author:[personal profile] beatrice_otter 
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Characters: McCoy, Spock
Beta:[personal profile] tielan 
Word Count: 2,130
Summary: “We like to think we’re so much better than our ancestors, that we’ve got all these problems of bigotry and intolerance licked, and we go out into space to spread our enlightened ways, and end up making the same mistakes.”

Leonard McCoy hesitated, his hand over the door chime. This was the first day they’d had time to breathe, after the last few months. He hadn’t seen Spock on Vulcan; his friend had been kept cloistered for the retraining of his mind. Of all the former Enterprise crewmates, Leonard was the only one allowed even short visits, out of the fear that there might be repercussions from the fal-tor-pan that separated their consciousnesses. Then had come the mission to save Earth by finding whales, of all things. The court-martial for stealing Enterprise had been over relatively quickly, all things considered, but the debriefings with Starfleet over the destruction of the Genesis planet and the newly-formed Department of Temporal Investigations over the journey to Earth’s past had taken much longer.

There had been enough excuses to put this damn thing off. He wasn’t going to do it any longer. Squaring his shoulders, he pushed the button.

The door slid open. Bracing himself against the blast of heat, McCoy stepped in.

Spock stood in the dimly lit room, as stiff and straight as always, hands clasped behind his back. If it weren’t for the beginnings of lines around his eyes and the red uniform, it could have been the day they met, on board the first Enterprise, when McCoy had come aboard to replace Doctor Piper.

They hadn’t exactly hit it off.

“Doctor. It is agreeable to see you.”

“Likewise, Spock,” McCoy said. He looked around the room. The soothing browns of the IDIC wall-hanging that had dominated his quarters on Enterprise were missing. “How long till your stuff gets shipped here?”

“My personal effects should arrive from Vulcan within a few days,” Spock said.

“Bet you can’t wait,” McCoy said. Nowhere on Vulcan had he seen anything resembling the cool whites and beiges of Starfleet-bland. What would it be like to live your life, always cold, always surrounded by aliens?

“It will be appreciated,” Spock said. He cocked his head. “Doctor, may I enquire as to your purpose here?”

Right. It wasn’t as if McCoy was in the habit of dropping by Spock’s quarters, at least not without Jim or a specific reason. He sighed. “I just wanted … I wanted to say, I’m sorry.”

Spock frowned. “I am unaware of any transgression on your part that would require forgiveness.”

“It’s not exactly a new offense,” McCoy said. “Having you in my head all those weeks, I found myself thinking back, and not always knowing whose memories I was seeing. And once I was relieved of duty, I had a lot of time to think.” He sat down on the couch, just as bland and anonymous and human as the rest of the room.

Spock sat on the chair opposite from him, perching on the edge, spine straight as always. “Doctor, I regret that there was no time to ask permission from you, before I gave you my katra, and any discomfort you may have had resulting from it.”

McCoy waved that off. “Hell, it wasn’t that bad. And there wasn’t time, anyway, and it’s much better than having you die for good.” He paused. “Remember all the times we compared your behavior to human behavior, and you’d say there was no need to be insulting?” McCoy, in particular, had been prone to that; Jim less so. Exchanges like that had tapered off during their five-year mission, but the thoughts behind them hadn’t changed.

“Yes,” Spock said.

“I always used to think you said that because you thought Vulcans were so superior, that Humans were somehow lesser. It drove me crazy. But that’s not what you meant at all, was it? We were being insulting, thinking that the Human way of thinking, of feeling, was better than the Vulcan way, that it was a compliment to tell you you were losing your own way of living and becoming more like us.” He shook his head. “How much do you remember of the time you spent in my head? Do you remember your funeral?”

“I retain very little conscious memory of the time between my death and the refusion,” Spock said. “Certainly less than I would have had my katra been given to a fellow Vulcan. Much of what I do remember is fragmentary and out of context. Human minds are not designed to carry such things, and I was attempting to refrain from imposing on you any further than was necessary.”

“Thank you for that. It was weird enough as it was. Kinda like some strange dream—I wasn’t always quite sure what was real and what wasn’t, even who I was or what I was doing, especially before they told me what was happening to me.” McCoy shuddered, remembering moments when the temperature, gravity, light spectrum, sounds, smells, even the air pressure on his skin had felt subtly wrong. It had been worst on Enterprise, a ship he’d known like the back of his hand, his home for years, and yet it had become uncomfortable in the most basic of ways. A stranger in a strange land. What would it be like to live that constantly, not just in flashes?

Spock broke the silence. “I am somewhat curious regarding my funeral, but I must confess it makes me … uneasy. I have not accessed any information regarding it.”

“Can’t blame you,” McCoy replied. “Jim gave the eulogy, of course. He broke down and cried—first time I remember that happening in public. It was very touching. He said that of all the people he’d known, you were the most human.” He snorted, a bitter sound. He remembered hearing it well. That was, looking back, the first time he’d truly felt Spock’s presence, in that moment—a kind of resigned distaste mixed with fondness, at his friend’s words.

“Jim meant no offense,” Spock said. McCoy looked up and met his eyes, seeing a compassion, an understanding, that he’d never really seen before. Had it been absent, or had he just not been willing to see? Or was it some combination of both? “It is a common component of virtually every culture known to the Federation to consider one’s own people and way of life better than all others, regardless of whether or not one considers cultural diversity to be acceptable or positive. This is one trait that Humans and Vulcans share, although both would attempt to deny it.”

“You’ve been caught in between the two your whole life, haven’t you? And we didn’t exactly make it easy.” He stood up, half-turned away, staring out the window at the fog. “We like to think we’re so much better than our ancestors, that we’ve got all these problems of bigotry and intolerance licked, and we go out into space to spread our enlightened ways, and end up making the same mistakes.” He turned back to Spock. “Damn it, man, that kind of prejudice is supposed to belong in the twentieth century, not the twenty-third! And we were throwing it in your face—you, Spock, our friend and shipmate!—all the time. Even at your God-damned funeral.”

“And yet there were moments of great understanding and comradeship, as well,” Spock said. “There was a great deal of friction at first; but we came to know and appreciate each other, and the insults became a form of affectionate banter.” He steepled his hands in front of him, an old familiar gesture. “I believe I once told you, Doctor, that inside every civilized person is a barbarian; the test of character is how well that barbarian is leashed and brought to serve civilized goals. You overcame your prejudices well, and you were not entirely incorrect in your previous assumption that I believed Humans to be lesser, and was arrogant in my Vulcan-ness. It has taken me a long time to be whole, to accept myself as who I am, a child of two worlds, two cultures, two species. Though I have chosen the Vulcan way, I can also appreciate and value the Human way, but that has not always been the case. How can I condemn you for a fault I myself have shared?”

“That doesn’t make it right,” McCoy insisted, although something in him loosened at Spock’s words.

“No,” Spock said. “It does not. But I forgave you for your prejudices many years ago, Doctor. I hope you will do the same for mine.”

“Of course,” McCoy said, a bit surprised. “Be kind of hypocritical not to, wouldn’t it?”

“Unfortunately, Doctor, the universe possesses a great many hypocrites.”

“No kidding.” McCoy flopped down in his chair.

“I have never spoken of my childhood,” Spock said.

McCoy raised his eyebrows. “No, you haven’t,” he said, studying his friend.

“I faced a great deal of prejudice because of my Human heritage,” Spock said. “For all that Vulcans profess to believe in IDIC, the reality falls far short of the ideal. Such prejudice came to me from all sides—my classmates, my elders, even occasionally my father. All expected me to fail, all expected me to be crippled by my mother, in either genetics or upbringing. The adults were generally subtle. The children were not. That contributed, in large part, to my decision to join Starfleet. The prejudices were reversed, in that Humanness was praised and Vulcanness denigrated, both overtly and subtly; that was, at least, a change. And there were few who knew enough about Vulcans to see my … lapses, or to understand that that was what they were. I did not realize until much later, that I had simply internalized the prejudices I had faced as a child and was projecting them on my Human shipmates.”

“Understandable,” McCoy said. “When you hear something long enough, you start to believe it, even if you don’t want to.”

“Indeed,” Spock said. “In addition, it was a way of coping, of asserting my identity as a Vulcan. I did not know how to do that in any way besides denying anything that might be a legacy of my Human mother, regardless of the strength of my respect and affection for her.”

“That must have been painful for her,” McCoy said, remembering some of the things Joanna had said to him, the rare occasions he’d been there for her after being assigned to Enterprise.

“Yes,” Spock said. “And yet, my mother is the one person who has never judged me unfairly, nor attempted to pressure me into the mold of her expectations.”

“She’s quite a lady,” McCoy said.

“I know,” Spock said. “In many ways, she was the only true friend I had for much of my early life. I had not realized that I desired close friends, until well into our time together on Enterprise. I learned much, from you and from Jim, and from the others as well. Not about being Human, but about being more truly myself. There were times that your prejudices were given too much reign. There were times that my own were. Despite those unfortunate moments, we learned to appreciate one another, first as colleagues, then as friends, and now I believe we are close enough that we might be considered family—for on Vulcan, such a thing as you did for me would be enough for a formal adoption-alliance.”

“Hell, yes, we’re family,” McCoy said, blinking his eyes. Damn his eyes, watering like this. Must be something in the air.

“I thank you for your apology, and I am glad for the revelation that prompted it, however it was attained. Such self-knowledge is not easy; nor is the scrutiny of one’s prior actions. Know that I would not trade one moment of our time together, as shipmates and as friends, for it has brought us where we are, and that is a place I would not sacrifice for anything.”

“Neither would I, Spock,” McCoy said, nodding firmly. “Neither would I.” He drew a deep breath—the emotion in here was getting a bit too thick for his taste. “Jim and I are going out to a bar, tonight. You’re welcome to come along, of course, though I don’t think it’s really up your alley.”

“You are correct in your assessment, Leonard.” Spock tilted his head. “In any case, I have a prior engagement for this evening. Nyota will be arriving shortly to return my lyre to me, and also to play and sing together. It has been some time since our last duet, and she informs me that A’Shenre has published several new works in the last two months.”

“That’s right, you left it to her,” McCoy said, nodding, vague after-impressions of memories from Spock’s katra of long sessions with lyre and drum and voice between the two of them. “Have fun.”

“You and Jim should endeavor to entertain yourselves, as well.”

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-27 10:09 pm (UTC)
lastscorpion: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lastscorpion
What a terrific little scene! I like to think that those characters could totally do this.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-28 01:20 am (UTC)
revdorothyl: missmurchsion made this (Default)
From: [personal profile] revdorothyl
Love the insights in this, as well as the acceptance and genuine, deep, FAMILIAL affection on both sides. Well done!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-28 05:03 am (UTC)
wendelah1: (I like this ship)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
I enjoyed this very much.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-28 06:18 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
That was rather lovely; the sort of IC moment that really fits them rather well.

prejudice

Date: 2010-02-28 11:09 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thank you, thank you, thank you. May many fans red this. You expressed what I have felt for many years. Just last week I wrote on the Kirk Spock livejournal:

[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<coming [...] "i>') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

Thank you, thank you, thank you. May many fans red this. You expressed what I have felt for many years. Just last week I wrote on the Kirk Spock livejournal:

<Coming out of deep lurk because this topic touches on so much that I both love and dislike in fanfiction. I'm an original 80s zine ST TOS reader and I'm loving the new incarnation of fiction online. I love writers who try to truly delve into what it means to be vulcan, human and alien - be it TOS, AOS, or AU. Everyone struggles, no one is perfect - be they vulcan, human,or both.

But I truly hate fiction that portrays bigotry in our beloved characters - be it TV, film, or fanfiction. I choose to not believe that the future found in Trek will condone this type of behavior. It may occur but it will not be the ideal that our future characters strive towards. Starfleet, like our military, will not allow it in the chain of command or among its members. I think Abrahms did a pretty good job of this in ST XI.

Nothing makes me click close faster than a portrayal of McCoy using offensive language towards Spock. If I read the word hobgoblin one more time I may scream. McCoy is a xeno-medical physician and his compassion and ethics would not allow this, be his patient human or alien. Post-AOS the film, will find McCoy, Kirk, and crew caring about Spock's trauma at the loss of his mother and planet - not harassing him. Yes, friendly name calling is realistic among friends, but the true friendship needs to come through. In the film, McCoy says "I like him" and supports him on the bridge. Yes, personally they disagree (Spock, Kirk and McCoy) but professionally they work pretty well together.>

Thank you for expressing this in your fic!

Re: prejudice

Date: 2012-10-17 08:25 pm (UTC)
realpestilence: m&s by lit_gal (Default)
From: [personal profile] realpestilence
What gets me is that Kirk is the one who first called Spock a "pointy-eared hobgoblin"; and McCoy just referenced that. He did get a good first impression of Spock; and Spock returned the compliment, respecting McCoy's difficult position between friendship and duty. Spock was the one who got sharp and flounced off, after McCoy pointed out that maybe it was a bit precipitous to just shoot Jim into space, given how gifted the guy is, maybe, ya think? And his attitude is what brought attitude out in McCoy, after (and really, "roam the halls weeping", snotty much? Tho funny!).

There's no reason to write McCoy and "hobgoblin" or various cracks every other sentence. They had a better start than Kirk and Spock did-no cheating, no tribunals, no attempted choking to death, etc. They are both scientists, as well, so there's at least some common ground. So there's no reason they can't at least be respectful working ship mates, to start with.

I see the same thing happening sometimes in regards to Chekov, because McCoy questioned his input due to his age. And really, just because we saw him post-extremely bitter divorce, in a tipsy, disheveled state getting ready to enlist, doesn't mean he's a DRUNK, thanks.

I just think too many people don't know how to characterize him, so they fall back on what's easy, not what's likely, or what's possible.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-26 06:40 pm (UTC)
sharpest_asp: A painted picture of Bones McCoy (Star Trek: Bones McCoy)
From: [personal profile] sharpest_asp
Oh I am having a field day finding so many new-to-me fics from people stopping by my own journal. This? Is the fic I've needed for years!

Thank you for sharing it.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-10-17 08:15 pm (UTC)
realpestilence: m&s by lit_gal (Default)
From: [personal profile] realpestilence
This is kind of the flip side to a fic someone wrote because of a discussion we had about how Vulcans saying somebody is illogical is the same as any other -ist insult, because that's what it means to ~them.

I do think your fic makes a good point. I understood Roddenberry's point in having the constant banter about Vulcan vs Human, logic vs emotion, with Kirk the concience or id that balances them; but it did get heavy-handed, after a while. Especially since they picked McCoy to deliver the worst of the lines-and don't think it was by chance they chose the white Southern man to do that, not given the time period, and the prejudices against Southern hicks/crackers/white trash/hillbillies, etc. Hell, in "Enterprise" they chose another white Southern man to, gosh, have a problem with the Vulcan (aka symbolic minority character). Can we drop that plot anvil just a little bit harder, please?

I wish this discussion had happened in the series, and that it had happened not long after they met. It's more fair to the characters, especially these two. McCoy is a kind man, and he wouldn't have intentionally hurt Spock, if he'd realized this; and it wouldn't have taken him DECADES to do so, anyways. He's not stupid, and he never had any problem treating Uhura, Sulu, or Chekov nicely, despite the fact that their nationalities or races would have been of note, not comparatively long before; and he usually reacted with no more than a "cranky doctor-ish" grumble about the various warlike aliens they had to deal with.

However, he does sometimes make good points about Spock being part Human, both biologically and culturally. Not acknowledging that in any way is very insulting to Amanda, in particular; and to humans and Earth. He didn't even tell anyone he was part Human until "Journey to Babel", and he had to. Choosing one side of a heritage is perfectly fine; but Spock tries to deny it's there at all.

It's a more complex issue than just "Dr McCoy is a bigot", which is what it gets boiled down to all too often in fandom; and it's worse since the Reboot movie. D:

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