SUMMARY: After the events of ST V, Kirk, Spock and McCoy resume their interrupted vacation in Yosemite National Park on horseback.
DISCLAIMER: I did not create the Star Trek universe or any of its characters. And I do not always put them in compromising positions; I just put them in romantic settings and leave temptation within their collective grasp. They always reach for it without any prompting from me. So there!
One late summer day in the year 2287, three men on horseback rode single-file on a riding trail in Yosemite National Park. The man at the head of the cavalcade rode on a pinto, singing an old cowboy song, the man riding behind him on a white horse was smiling tolerantly, while behind him a man with particularly sensitive pointed ears sat on the back of his black horse with a martyred look on his face, listening to his human companion caterwauling his way through a Roy Rogers classic.
"Some trails are happy ones, others are blue," warbled Doctor McCoy from atop his pinto, "It's the way you ride the trail that counts, here's a happy one for you." He paused to take a deep breath and sang out in a wobbly tenor, "Happy tra-a-a-ils to you, until we meet again. Happy tra-a-a-ils to you, keep smiling until then..."
"Bones, can you take five?" asked Captain Kirk from his white horse as he rode between McCoy and Spock. "It's mighty hard to keep smiling while listening to you."
"Et tu, Brutus?" McCoy demanded, looking over his shoulder at his captain and long-time friend. "I expected such lack of appreciation for my golden throat from Spock, but never from you!"
"Doctor," said Spock patiently, "the sounds emitting from your throat do not bear the slightest resemblance to gold. Unless it is fool's gold. One would have to have an ear of tin to appreciate them."
"Just for that, I'm singin' the whole thing!" With that, McCoy threw back his head and sang for all he was worth. "Happy tra-a-a-ails to yo-o-o-ou, until we meet again. Happy tra-a-a-ails to yo-o-o-ou, keep smiling until then. Who cares about the clouds when we're toge-e-e-ether? Just sing a song and bring the sunny we-e-e-e-eather. Happy tra-a-a-ails to you, until we meet again."
There were rustlings in the underbrush as small animals took to their heels at the sound of McCoy's voice. Birds stopped singing in the trees, unable to compete with the good doctor's cacophonous vocalizing. Even a young black bear who had been moseying along a little ways from the trail suddenly changed his mind about crossing it and ran in the other direction. The martyred look on Spock's face became more pronounced, while Kirk only chuckled, and the patient horses kept plodding along beneath them, accustomed to unusual behavior from their riders. When McCoy finally stopped for breath, Spock asked, "Jim, are there any coyotes in this vicinity?"
"A few, Spock. Why do you ask?"
"I was concerned that they might be attracted by the high-pitched ululations of our companion," Spock replied with a straight face. "Being canines, they would naturally be drawn towards a sound reminiscent of a feline in torment."
"Spock, are you suggesting that the good doctor's singing sounds like a cat being tortured?" Kirk asked with mock indignation. "If so, then I'm forced to disagree with you. He sounds more like one of the coyotes in heat. Better keep an eye out around the campfire tonight, Bones. Don't wander off or one of those critters might sneak up on you and give it to you doggy-style."
"You guys kill me," McCoy grumbled. "Why did I ever agree to come back here on vacation with you anyway?"
"You know how we get when we're alone, Bones. Somebody has to chaperone us." Kirk batted his eyelashes at him flirtatiously, a simpering smile on his face.
"Bull chips!" McCoy muttered. "I'm not here as a chaperone. More like a lookout."
"Indeed?" Spock commented. "Then you will not mind sitting outside by the fire, keeping the coyotes entertained with your singing, while Jim and I are inside the tent."
"Doing our best to drown you out," Kirk added, with a wicked grin.
"Yep, it's liable to get mighty steamy inside that tent tonight," McCoy drawled. "Good thing I don't mind sleeping under the stars. As far as the coyotes are concerned, they probably won't come near our camp while the two of you are going at it. Wouldn't be surprised if you scared the horses too."
Kirk laughed. "You'll be the one who scares the horses if you keep singing like that. Be careful you don't start a stampede, Bones!"
"Ah, stick it where the sun don't shine!" McCoy told him.
Eventually they reached the campsite marked on their map and dismounted, hitched their horses to a tree and set up camp. All the while McCoy kept singing "Happy Trails". By the time the sun had set they were seated around a campfire eating supper; fresh-made cornbread, fried Spam for the humans, fried soybean sausage for Spock, and McCoy's baked beans made with his secret ingredient. The good doctor had thoughtfully brought along a generous supply of his secret ingredient, in case of snake bite. He not only poured some into his coffee to ward off the evening's chill, he also poured shots for all three of them after dinner, insisting that they toast the success of their last mission. Kirk did so willingly, Spock held his breath and poured his drink down his throat as if it were nasty medicine and McCoy chugged his down like a true son of the South.
"Yep, you can't beat Kentucky sippin' whiskey!" McCoy told them as he regarded his empty tin cup fondly. He reached for the bottle and poured himself another drink. "How about another round?"
"Sure, Bones." Kirk held out his cup for a refill.
"No, thank you, Doctor," Spock said politely. "I regret that I have never developed the same appreciation for spirituous liquors that you have."
"You don't know what you're missin', Spock," McCoy said as he filled up Kirk's tin cup. He handed it back, held his up and said, "Here's to harmony between us and the Klingons!"
"To harmony between us and the Klingons," Kirk dutifully echoed him, remembering that he owed them for rescuing him from that planet behind the Great Barrier where the "God" entity had been imprisoned, before it could kill him. But as he drank, he couldn't help wondering whether it would have been so terrible if the Klingons had been forced to face the wrath of "God" while he and Spock escaped in their ship. Of course, he knew that Spock was much too compassionate to commandeer a ship and strand its crew on a hostile planet.
//But if it had been me, I wouldn't have hesitated to kick those Klingon bastards off after Spock was beamed aboard and let that entity chase them around for a while.// Of course he would have come back for them--eventually. After making sure that his bondmate was safely aboard the ENTERPRISE, in his quarters, and after going over every inch of his beloved body to make sure he wasn't injured. Just thinking of it made him look fondly at the taller man sitting next to him, eating a piece of dried fruit to take the taste of bourbon out of his mouth.
"Let's have another toast!" McCoy refilled his cup a third time. "To Sybok and the sacrifice he made. Damnedest Vulcan I ever met, but he sure knew what to do in a crisis."
"To Sybok," Kirk and Spock both said together, Spock hastily pulling a bottle of lemon-flavored water from the cooler so he could join in the toast without having to taste anymore of McCoy's secret ingredient.
After a few more toasts to Romulus and the Starfleet Diplomatic Corps and finally to the crew of the ENTERPRISE, which McCoy hailed as "the best damned ship in Starfleet!", Kirk was beginning to feel lightheaded. Spock, seeing how his bondmate was beginning to sway in his seat upon the fallen log where they were both sitting, became concerned.
"T'hy'la," he whispered in his bondmate's rounded ear, "perhaps it is time that we retired?"
"Yeah, I think you're right, Spock," Kirk muttered. "Guess I can't hold my liquor the way I used to." Out loud he said, "I think I'll turn in, Bones. Me and Spock need some quality time together."
"Yeah? Well, try to keep it down, will ya?" McCoy chuckled as he poured himself yet another drink. "I know you're anxious to get back in the saddle again, but remember that some of us ain't been ridin' as often as ya'll have been."
"I must disagree, Doctor," Spock politely pointed out. "All three of us have been in the saddle today for an extended period of time. Why would we wish to go riding again when we both have clearly stated our intention to retire?"
"Spock, he wasn't talking about riding horses," Kirk said gently to his too-literal bondmate. Spock gave him a puzzled look. "Think about it," Kirk urged him. "What do we do more often than Bones when we're together?" As Spock's slanted eyebrows knitted together thoughtfully on his brow, Kirk gave him a helpful hint. "It's something that only two people can do, with or without the matrimonial tie."
Spock only had to think for a few moments before the answer occurred to him. "Oh, I see. Was the good doctor using a colorful metaphor to describe the act of coitus?"
Hearing that made McCoy spit out a mouthful of bourbon to keep from choking on it, while Kirk laughed aloud. "Yes, my beloved Vulcan, that is exactly what he was doing," Kirk told him, patting his back affectionately. He then hooked his arm around Spock's shoulders and said, "Come on, help me up. After that last drink, I don't think I can stand up straight."
"Indeed," Spock remarked as he hauled him to his feet. "I noticed that your sense of balance appeared to have been affected by the amount of alcohol you had consumed. I was concerned lest you fall into the fire." He led Kirk away from the campfire towards their tent, which had a zippered partition in the middle dividing it into two "rooms", giving them a modicum of privacy from McCoy.
"Good night, Bones," Kirk called to him cheerfully as Spock led him towards their side of the tent on the left. "G'night, Jim, Spock. I think I'll stay up a mite longer." Pouring himself another drink to replace the one he'd spit out, McCoy said to himself in a whisper meant to be overheard, "Least until it gets completely quiet in there."
Spock heard him, of course, but graciously ignored him as he tenderly helped his inebriated bondmate through the tent flap. Once inside, they had just enough room to undress and stow their clothing inside their respective backpacks. Spock had thoughtfully packed a pair of Kirk's favorite pajamas and one of his own comfortable sleep shirts, but upon seeing each other shirtless in the light of the small electric lantern hanging from the ceiling, they decided to forgo their bedtime attire. After removing the rest of their clothing, they crawled inside their extra large sleeping bag, made by zipping two regular sleeping bags together, and proceeded to kiss each other good night. This wasn't the sort of kiss one exchanged with one's life partner before falling asleep; it was the sort of kiss intended to lead to other things. At least it would have led to other things, if McCoy hadn't chosen that moment to begin singing again.
"I'm ba-a-a-ack! I'm back in the saddle again!" came McCoy's bourbon-soaked tenor, disturbingly close to the tent wall on their left. "I'm ba-a-a-a-ck! I'm back in the saddle again! Ridin' into town alone by the light of the moon, I'm lookin' for old Sukie Jones, she Crazy Horse Saloon..." He proceeded to serenade the lovers as he fed and groomed the horses, washed the supper dishes and cleaned the cooking pans.
After he finished singing "Back In The Saddle" by Aerosmith, he put more wood on the fire and sat himself down by it to drink some more bourbon. He then segued into an older song by Tommy Dorsey. "Take me ba-a-a-a-ck to ma bo-o-o-ots and saddle," he warbled, pouring bourbon from the bottle into his tin cup. "Let me see that gen'ral store, let me ride that range once more, give me ma bo-o-o-ots and saddle." He then proceeded to whistle the chorus, so shrilly that Spock flinched as the high notes pierced his sensitive ears.
"Easy, love," Kirk soothed him, putting his hands over Spock's ears as he held him close.
"Jim," Spock said through gritted teeth, "how are we supposed to be intimate while he is making that racket?"
"We'll just have to wait until he falls asleep. Don't worry, Bones always falls asleep when he reaches the bottom of the bottle. He'll be crawling into his own side of the tent any time now."
But the good doctor stayed up drinking and singing long into the night, even after he'd drunk half of the second bottle. Evidently he wanted to give his friends as much "quality time" alone together as possible and thought that his singing would help to drown out the sounds of passion that would be sure to keep him awake if he decided to retire before they had finished. So he serenaded the patient horses, as much a captive audience as the two bondmates in the tent, with a ballad from America, another 20th Century band, "A Horse With No Name".
"On the first part of the journey, I was lookin' at all the life," McCoy warbled while he mixed his bourbon with lemon-flavored water to make it last. "There were plants and birds and rocks and things, there was sand and hills and rings. The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz and a sky with no clouds. The heat was hot and the ground was dry, but the air was full of sound. I've been through the desert on a horse with no name, it felt good to be out of the rain. In the desert, you can't remember your name, ‘cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain. La, la, la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la, la-la. La, la, la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la, la-la."
By now Spock was practically catatonic as he lay next to Jim staring up at the tent ceiling, trying to put himself into a meditative trance so he would be oblivious to the sounds outside. Every time he was on the verge of doing so, McCoy would hit a high note or start yodeling, which completely disrupted his concentration. Then he would start to shake all over, forcing his bondmate to caress him and whisper soothingly in his ear until he was quiet again. Spock would try again to put himself into a trance state, only to be summoned back to rude reality by McCoy's moonlight serenade.
By the time McCoy was halfway through The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses", James T. Kirk was wishing that wild horses would drag him away. "You know what, Spock?" he sighed as he lay with his head on his bondmate's fuzzy chest, "as much as I love Bones, at this moment I wish he would get on his horse and ride off into the sunset somewhere."
"I cannot help but agree with you, Jim," Spock said wearily. "I, too, would like to see Leonard ride off into the proverbial sunset. ‘Him and the horse he rode in on,' to use another old Terran _expression."
Kirk couldn't help but laugh. "You're getting better at using those colorful metaphors, love. I guess this evening's shot, so we might as well try to get some sleep. We can always make up for it tomorrow night."
"I believe it is already tomorrow, unless my internal time sense has been set askew along with my hearing by our resident songbird."
McCoy decided to use the miniature portapotty one last time before turning in. As he shuffled towards it, he raised his voice, by now as shaky as his legs, in melancholy lament. "I watched you suf-fe-e-e-e-r a dull, aching pain, now you've decided to show me the same."
"I wish!" Kirk muttered while Spock moaned beneath him, sounding as if he were in terrible pain, which was not the way his moans usually sounded when he was lying beneath him. "Bones, I swear to God Almighty--the real one--that you will pay for this." Petting Spock soothingly, he added, "Go to sleep, T'hy'la. I need you to be fresh tomorrow, so that you and I can up with a way to get even with Bones."
"That is the most logical suggestion I have heard all night, Jim." Kirk could hear an undertone of vicious satisfaction beneath the weariness in his bondmate's deep voice. "If you will kindly put the pillow over my head after I have turned on my right side, that should muffle the sound of his voice sufficiently to allow me to get some sleep."
"Of course, love. I just wish I could put it over Bones' face after he turns in." After Spock had turned over on his side, pressing his right ear into the small camp pillow beneath his head, Kirk took hold of his own little pillow and put it over Spock's left ear, pressing down on it carefully as he snuggled closer to Spock. It took a while, but eventually they both managed to fall asleep.
The morning sun rose upon the two bondmates going about their business around the campsite, using the mini portapotty, washing up at the little refillable water barrel with attached sink, making a fresh batch of cornbread for breakfast along with scrambled eggs, more Spam and soy sausage, and coffee. McCoy was still in the tent, sleeping off his late night serenade. By mutual agreement, neither Kirk nor Spock tried to wake him. They simply ate their breakfasts and left McCoy his share, along with a note attached to the tent flap, saddled up their horses and rode off to do some exploring.
After riding for a couple of hours, they came upon a peaceful little spot by a brook, surrounded by trees and grass. After watering the horses, they left them hitched to a tree where they could crop grass, while they sat upon a conveniently located boulder by the water. There Spock contemplated the running waters, along with the colorful trout that occasionally rose to the surface, while Kirk waded downstream with his fishing gear to try to catch a few of them for supper. After two hours of peaceful meditation, Spock felt mentally refreshed and hungry enough to eat his share of lunch. Kirk had brought along two of the many peanut butter and banana sandwiches McCoy had made, along with a couple of ham sandwiches, which he ate while Spock ate the Elvis Presley specials. They also shared some cheese and dried fruit and washed it all down with lemon-flavored bottled water, which Kirk had stuck into the creek to cool upon their arrival.
When they had finished eating, they moved away from the boulder by the creek, where the sun was now shining directly down, and spread a blanket in the shade beneath a big old tree. Here they sat in peaceful silence, leaning back against the tree with Spock's left arm wrapped around Jim's waist and Jim's right arm around Spock, his autumn-brown head resting on Spock's shoulder. Neither man made a sound, except for an occasional sigh from Jim, who snuggled happily against the broad shoulder of his bondmate as he sat looking at the brook flowing by.
Spock occasionally took his eyes off the peaceful sight before him to gaze fondly at the beloved human beside him. All the memories he had lost after the fal-tor-pan on Vulcan had come rushing back to him like these running waters after their adventure in the past, triggered by their forced evacuation of the Klingon bird of prey in San Francisco Bay upon their liberation of the whales. Diving into that salt water and emerging on the surface to see Jim waiting for him had brought back other water-related memories; him and Jim in the hot tub together in the ship's gym after their workout, the two of them in the shower together between their adjoining cabins, even the times they had gone swimming together in the lake by Jim's cabin, sans clothing, had all come flooding through his brain as rapidly as the sea water had leaked through the seams of that broken-down Klingon ship after they had crash-landed in the bay.
Had they not been so short of sleep, they would have done more than snuggle. But for now, they were content to just be together, doing nothing more than kiss and caress each other. After a while they lay down, stretched out upon their blanket in the shade and fell asleep, holding each other close.
When they woke up, it was a lot darker beneath the trees. But it was still daylight outside the leafy barricade, though the sun was a lot lower on the horizon than it had been before they fell asleep. They got up, stretched and groomed each other, combing leaves and grass out of one another's hair with their fingers, as well as brushing excess vegetation from each other's clothing. Spock had to reprimand Jim for brushing grass off his blue-jeaned behind a little too enthusiastically. They cleaned up after themselves, making sure not to leave any physical evidence of their sojourn here at this peaceful spot. Jim then retrieved the four fish he had caught, killed and left dangling in the water with fishing line threaded through their gills. After stowing them in his creel along with his fishing gear, he and Spock saddled up and rode back to camp.
"How are you feeling after your nap, love?" Kirk asked him affectionately as they rode along side by side at a slow pace. "Refreshed and mentally stimulated?"
"Yes, Jim. Unfortunately I have not yet cogitated a plan for avenging ourselves upon McCoy. He deprived us of our rightful physical intimacy last night and must be called to account."
"Damn right he must! And I've got a plan."
"Do you, Jim?" Spock looked at him hopefully. "I hope it involves silencing the good doctor before he begins serenading us again."
"Yes, it does. I'm getting sick of all those corny cowboy songs, and if I have to listen to him sing ‘em one more night, I'll tie him by the ankles to his horse's tail, slap that pinto on the butt and let it drag him over the hills and far away."
"I must urge you not to do so, Jim. Such an action smacks of cruelty, not just to McCoy, but to the horse."
Kirk laughed. "Yes, and as the owner of all three horses I'm reluctant to mistreat any of them that way, even to shut Bones up. But this plan doesn't involve any cruelty; it came to me when I woke up in your arms a while ago." He outlined his plan of action to Spock, who approved for the most part, though he was reluctant to use such duplicity on their mutual friend, especially when it involved using the doctor's own medications. Kirk assured him that it would not cause McCoy any permanent harm and would be a fitting revenge for the lost sleep he had caused them, along with their lost intimacy.
When they got back to camp, they found McCoy grooming his horse while a fresh pot of beans simmered on the fire. Sure enough, the doctor was singing yet another song about horses; this one was "Chestnut Mare" by Roger McGuinn. "Ah'm gonna get that horse if ah can, and when ah do, ah'll give her ma brand," McCoy crooned as he brushed the pinto's mane. "And we'll be friends for life, she'll be just like a wife. Ah'm gonna get that horse if ah can."
"You must be pretty hard up, Bones," Kirk teased him as they rode up, "if you're willing to settle for a horse for your wife."
"I'd rather be married to a horse than a horse's ass!" McCoy retorted. "Do I wanna know what ya'll have been up to all day?"
"Nothing that would scare the horses, Bones," Kirk assured him as he and Spock slid from their saddles. "Hope you've been keeping busy. Here's some fish for dinner." He handed him the creel full of brook trout.
"Thanks, Jim. Make a nice change from Spam. Your other half can make himself an omelet from the liquid eggs and dried mushrooms."
"Thank you, Doctor, I would also enjoy a change of fare." Spock looked over McCoy's pinto while he was grooming his black. "Your horse appears to have been ridden for some distance. Were you exploring as well?"
"Yep, after I crawled out of my sleeping bag with a hangover that felt like my head had exploded. Had me a little hair of the dog with the breakfast ya'll left for me, then I decided to take Shorty here for a ride..." McCoy went on to describe his day's activities, Spock appearing to pay rapt attention to him while Kirk led his horse further away, gave him a quick rubdown and left him tied up with a nosebag full of oats while he casually went around the campsite, first washing up, then getting out the necessary cooking equipment for grilling fish and making an omelet. While he was rooting around through their supplies, Kirk just happened to come across the doctor's medkit, which he always took with him in case of emergency. Unseen by McCoy, he rummaged through the bag for a few moments before finding what he was looking for. He stuck it in the back pocket of his jeans, closed the medkit and put it back with the other supplies, then went on preparing for supper. While McCoy was describing the beauty of the meadow where he had lain on his belly watching rabbits playing all day, Kirk found the latest bottle of bourbon McCoy had opened. It was still nearly full. Kirk picked it up, opened it, reached into his back pocket and added a little secret ingredient of his own before closing the bottle and putting it back.
Later, as the sun was setting in a glorious Technicolor display over the western horizon, the three friends sat around the campfire eating supper. McCoy liked the brook trout Kirk had caught, which went very well with the doctor's baked beans. Spock stuck to his mushroom omelet and politely refused to partake of the doctor's favorite secret ingredient tonight. So, surprisingly, did Kirk. He and his bondmate both stuck to lemon-flavored water, while McCoy enjoyed his bourbon neat. Before he had finished eating, McCoy started yawning his head off.
"I declare! Guess my day's catchin' up with me. Had no idea I could get so tired from watchin' rabbits."
"Guess it depends on what you're watching them do," said Kirk with a smirk. "Doesn't sound like they were doing anything that would keep you awake."
"Now, Jim, you know that even rabbits can't spend the whole day doing what you and Spock like to do. Little critters got lives, you know." McCoy yawned again. "Dang! Can't hardly keep my eyes open."
"Why don't you just turn in early, Bones?" Kirk suggested. "We'll clean up here."
"Thanks, Jim, reckon I will. G'night, ya'll." Laying aside his plate full of fish bones and a little bit of leftover beans, McCoy rose from his stump and walked wearily toward the tent, alternately singing and yawning. They could still hear him singing "Wild Horses" through the tent walls as he prepared for bed. But it didn't last very long. Soon the only sound they heard coming from the tent was snoring.
"Hear that, Spock?" Kirk said with a grin. "Music to our ears!"
"It is a relief not having to hear him sing tonight," Spock admitted. "But is it really ethical to send the doctor to bed early by giving him one of his own drugs?"
"Relax, Spock. I chose the mildest one possible, so he wouldn't suffer any side effects in the morning. Now we're finally alone together and we can do what we want to."
"A most intriguing prospect," Spock admitted softly, gazing on his bondmate with growing interest. "Would you object to cutting our mealtime short so that we can explore the possibilities?"
"I thought you'd never ask."
A short time later, the three horses were the only living things under the light of the moon, which shone upon the clearing where a Starfleet-issue tent stood beside a banked fire. The horses were quiet, sleeping on their feet as horses do; the black horse was leaning against a tree, the white horse was resting his head on the black's back, while the pinto was snuggled up to the two of them in front. From inside the tent came the unmistakable sounds of passionate lovemaking on the left side, while on the right side could be heard nothing but snores. Gradually the sounds of passion ceased, until nothing but snores could be heard.