TWO WORLDS IN WHICH WE DWELL

Chapter Twelve

   

Dr. Leonard McCoy was rummaging beneath the counter in the tavern owned by Cincinnatus Jones.  It was late and he was alone.  For some reason – and it was something other than the fact that his head still felt as if a hammer had been taken to it – he couldn’t sleep.  His host had kindly given him a lovely primitive room overlooking the grassy common in Boonesborough.  It was even supplied with a bed with a thick feather ticking.  Laying on it should have been a welcome comfort.  Instead, it had been comparable to trying to sleep on a bed of needles.

He was worried about his friends.  All of them.  The ones on the planet’s surface and the ones on the Enterprise.  So far he had not found anyone with any information concerning Spock, Uhura or Deevers.  While Deevers could have fit into the frontier town easily, both Spock and Uhura would be hard to explain.  There weren’t too many black women as educated or – he smiled – sure of themselves as Nyota.  And Spock….  Well, Spock had an almost childlike quality that somehow always landed him in trouble.  The old 20th century quote must be true, McCoy mused as he went back to searching, ‘genius sees with the eyes of a child’.

The doctor’s lips twisted in a rueful smile as he laid his hand on what he was looking for.  “And this old southern boy does not suffer the loss of geniuses gladly.”

Lifting the bottle from its hiding place and cradling it in his hands, McCoy rose to his feet only to find that he was being watched – by a very small boy with blue eyes round as the planet and a mop of white blond hair.  McCoy scowled.  The child had appeared as if by magic.  He sat on the counter, his face screwed up with disapproval.

“Well, hello,” McCoy said.  Then he added in a fatherly tone, “Isn’t it past your bedtime, son?”

The boy didn’t argue.  “Yep.”

The surgeon paused.  “Well, then, shouldn’t you get back to bed?”

“What’re you doin’?” the boy asked, his nose scrunched up and the freckles fleeing

over his pink cheeks.  “What’s in the bottle? 

Reverently clutching it to his chest, McCoy answered, “Medicine.  I have need of it

for – ”

“There’s plenty on the shelf,” the youngster commented with a nod, indicating the brown and green glass bottles that flanked the star traveler like a row of soldiers sworn to silence.  “What’s wrong with them?”

The doctor licked his lips.  What he held in his hands was the oldest, the finest bottle of Kentucky bourbon a man could hope to possess.  He had seen it earlier when Cincinnatus took a sip before bedding down for the night.  Once, on Rigel Seven, a bottle of this stuff had gone at auction for more credits that it would have taken to rent a starship for a joyride to Alpha Centauri. 

“They haven’t the same properties.”

The boy looked skeptical.  “Ma says they all make you sick.”  He frowned mightily.  “I thought you was a doctor”

“I am!” McCoy insisted, a little bit too loudly.  Placing the bottle on the counter, he leaned toward the boy and asked, hopefully, “Where’s your ma now?”

The white-blond head shook and the boy let out one of the longest, saddest sighs the surgeon had ever heard.  “I ain’t seen her since last night.  I’m powerful worried about her.”

McCoy hesitated, and then placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder.  “I’m sure she’s all right, son.  Where did she go?”

The boy slipped off the counter and began to pace.  “Back to the cabin.  She should’a been here before dark.”  He stopped then and the resolution that filled his face put McCoy in mind of that Vulcan he had been thinking of before.  Signal flags flared and waved.  “I mean to go get her!” the boy proclaimed loudly.

“Son, no….”  McCoy spun around the counter.  “You can’t….”  At the child’s look, he hesitated.  Pleading never did any good with Spock either – or Jim Kirk for that matter.  Better to let him come to the conclusion himself.  McCoy crossed to where the boy stood and knelt beside him.  “What’s your name, son?”

The boy’s perpetual scowl deepened.  “Why do you want to know?”

“I can’t just keep calling you ‘son’, now can I?”

He thought about it a moment.  “S’pose not.”  The boy wiped his hand on his shirt and held it out to him.  “Israel.  Israel Boone.”

He took it.  “Dr. Leonard – ”

“McCoy,” the boy announced.  “I know.”

“How do you know?”

Israel shrugged as he released the surgeon’s hand.  “Yad told me.”  A grin broke on his sober face.  “He told me he trussed you up good yesterday.”

“Well, yes, I suppose he did.”  McCoy rose to his feet.  “Tell me, Israel, have you thought this through?”

“What?  Goin’ after Ma?  Sure have.”

“What if she’s on her way here?”

The boy frowned.  “I’ll meet her comin’ then.”

“What if she enters the fort from the other direction?”

“Why’d she do that?  I know which way we live.”

“Of course, you do.”  McCoy thought furiously.  He had taken this tack with his daughter, Joanna, when she had decided to run away at age 7.  He’d given her permission and then – Spock would have been proud of him – logically shown her how impossible it would be.   “Never doubt it.  Still, if your ma comes in the back and you go out the front….”

“You could keep watch for me.”  The boy’s resolve was beginning to weaken.  “Couldn’t you?”

He shook his head.  “Sorry, I have patients to look after.”

“Oh.”  Israel hesitated.  “I could leave her a note.”

“Can you write?”

He shook his head.  “No.  Ain’t learned yet, though Pa tells me I gotta soon.”

McCoy fought a smile.  The boy was wearing down.  “Where is your pa, Israel?”

“He’s lookin’ for Mingo.  I was with Mingo afore I came here.”  There was real longing in the child’s tone.  “I sure wish I was with him still.”

“Mingo’s a friend of yours?”

“The best!”  The boy looked up at him.  There was a look of pure adoration in his young eyes.  “You got any friends, mister?”

He nodded.  “Sure do.  That’s why I’m here.  I’m looking for two of them.”

“Maybe I seen ‘em.  What’a they look like?”

At least the boy seemed to have been distracted from his intended expedition.  “Oh,

you’d have known them if you had seen them,” McCoy replied absently.

Israel did a good imitation of a man becoming alert.  “You skeered to tell me?  Why?  What’a they done?”

“I ain’t…I’m not scared to tell you anything.”  McCoy shrugged.  “The man is thin and tall, with hair black as a bear’s.  The woman is black as well, what you would call a negress.”

“Is the man an Injun like Mingo?”

“No.  No.”  McCoy glanced toward the door.  “But he is different from you and me.”

“There’s slavers around, and Shawnee on the warpath.”  Israel shook his head solemnly.  “Ain’t a good time to be wanderin’ around.”

McCoy smiled.  “Isn’t that what I was telling you just a little bit ago?”

“Israel Boone!  What are you doing downstairs?”  The voice was young, female, and highly displeased.  “You get back to bed right now.”

The surgeon turned toward the inn’s staircase, which was the source of the voice.  In the dim light he could make out a female shape, but little more.  “That your ma?”

“Gosh, no,” the small boy whined dejectedly.  “It’s my sister!

A slight brown-haired form moved down the stair, the skirts of its white nightgown swishing as they brushed the wooden posts lining it.  “Israel Boone, I declare, you are more trouble than you’re worth.  You answer me.  What are you doing down here?”

“I was talking to the doc,” he alibied.  “Ain’t that right, Doc?”

McCoy had been a young boy once, with older female relatives.  He turned his best smile on the young woman.  “He certainly was.  Neither of us could sleep and so we were keeping each other company.”

She looked from one to the other.  “Poppycock!  You men are all alike.  Ain’t…isn’t one of you can be trusted to tell the truth when he’s caught with a frog in his pocket.”

 McCoy swallowed a smile.  He’d been there too.  Stepping forward, he held out a hand.  “I don’t believe we’ve met, Miss….”

“Boone.  Jemima Boone,” she answered, her look still wary.

“Miss Boone.  I am Doctor Leonard McCoy and I am pleased to meet you.  May I mention that you look quite lovely.”  With that, he took her offered hand and gave it a gentlemanly kiss.  And while he might not move them like the Vulcan did with his cool demeanor and enigmatic inaccessibility, he had not lost that old southern charm.  The girl’s face lit with a beautiful smile and she blushed.

 “Thank you,” Jemima stuttered.  “Yadkin told us you were here.  You’re looking for someone?”

He nodded.  “A man and woman.”

“They’re your friends?”

He swallowed.  “Yes.”

Jemima took a step toward him.  She placed a hand on his.  “I’m sure you’ll find them.  Or, if you don’t, you just wait until my pa gets here, and he’ll find them for you.”

“Your pa?”  Suddenly her name registered.  “Boone?  Daniel Boone?”

The smile returned.  Brighter this time.  “That’s him!”

While they spoke, Jemima’s little brother had dropped to sit on the floor.  Though he pretended to listen, Israel’s head bobbed with the effort to remain awake.  McCoy indicated him with a nod.  As the young woman rolled her eyes, he called to him softly.   When the boy looked up, McCoy added, “You know, it’s awfully dark on that landing.  You wouldn’t want your sister to stumble.  Now would you?”

It wasn’t quite a pout.  “No, sir.”

“Good.  Then why don’t you escort her up the stairs?  After that, if you are still awake in say – a half hour – you can come back down and join me.”

“Do I haft ‘a?” the boy protested, but his heart was no longer in it.

McCoy grinned.  “It’s the gentlemanly thing to do.”

As Israel rose and began the grudging trek back up the stairs, Jemima smiled at the amused surgeon.  “Thanks,” she whispered and then followed her brother.

“You’re welcome,” McCoy replied before turning back to the counter where he had left the bottle of bourbon.

“Yes, thank you,” a new voice said, startling him.

McCoy whirled in the direction of the door.  He hadn’t noticed that it had opened.  A woman stood just inside.  She wore a dress of a light fabric he thought was called calico along with a light cloak, the hood of which was pulled up to cover her hair.  Thick locks of the copper stuff spilled out and over her shoulders anyway.  As she spoke, she lowered the hood to reveal a beautiful face and a pair of wide, honest, deep blue eyes. 

“Madame,” McCoy said with a nod.  “How long have you been standing there?”

The woman approached him.  “Long enough.”

Her figure matched her face.  She was truly lovely.  McCoy smiled appreciatively as he watched her remove her cloak and drop it familiarly on a nearby chair.  “‘There is too much beauty upon this earth for lonely men to bear,’” he muttered almost to himself.

“I beg your pardon?” the woman asked as she approached him.

The surgeon held out his hand.  “Dr. Leonard McCoy, Madame.  And you might be?”

“Rebecca,” she answered as she took it, her voice as lovely as her face.  “Oh!  Forgive me,” she said, stiffening in his grasp.  “I’ve been…busy.  I need to clean up.”  Growing suddenly nervous, she tried to pull her hand away.  “Thank you for what you did for my children.  Now I must go to them….”

McCoy couldn’t imagine what had upset her.  Then he saw it – a dark smear running up her right arm.  As soon as he saw that, the surgeon realized as well that part of the pattern on her calico dress was not sewn or dyed.  It was, in fact, blood.

Green blood.

 

Outside Cincinnatus’ tavern Carolina Yadkin was yawning mightily.  He was considering his options, of which there were two.  Start out now and head back to his own cabin where he could be free of the confounded interference of women and tavern-keepers, or stay the night on the old coot’s floor and spare himself the long trek to his place.  Both had their plusses and minuses.  He’d just tipped his hat to Rebecca Boone.  That meant breakfast in the morning would be a real feast.  Becky never could sit back and let a man cook when she was around.  On the other hand, that meant sitting at the table with Daniel’s wife while she pretended not to, but asked him questions concerning – among other things – his fiancé, Donna.  And then putting up with Israel and Cincinnatus’ snickers when he blushed right up to his pale blond eyebrows as she did. 

Danged if life didn’t hand a man a fistful of hard choices!

Shifting his weight to the other foot, Yad glanced back at the tavern.  He knew his friend Daniel would never have traded a day with Becky, but sometimes – when they came back from an extended trip to one of her tongue-lashings – he wondered how the man did abide it.  A woman just didn’t understand what it was to be a man.  Men was made to be like the animals roaming the wild woods – free, without no female to tell them when to be home or to scold them when they chose to stay out all night, or all week for that matter!  Why, once a man tied the knot, he couldn’t even smoke a cigar in his own cabin, or put his muddy boots where he wanted to.  He weren’t free no more, but caged like one of those circus animals.  Caged and castra –

Yad pursed his lips.

Weren’t no one ever gonna accuse Daniel Boone of that.  So there had to be a way.  There had to be a way to be with the woman who made your knees weak and your palms sweat, the one you thought about night and day, without losing the man you were.

Maybe he’d just go and ask Daniel how he done it.

Yad glanced back at the tavern, thinking of that breakfast, and then headed for the gate.

 

 

“Where did you get this?” McCoy demanded, his fingers closing on the woman’s arm with fearful strength.  He indicated the greenish-black smear with a nod.  “Where?”

Becky gasped.  “It’s just dye…,” she alibied.

The surgeon’s spine stiffened and his blue eyes grew intense.  “Madame, in case you don’t remember, I introduced myself as Doctor McCoy.  I have more than a passing familiarity with what it looks like when a man bleeds.  This is blood.”

“How can it be?” the woman snapped as she finally succeeded in pulling her arm free.  “It’s green, or hadn’t you noticed?”

Yes, he had.  That was what had made his stomach sink to his toes. 

Obviously this woman had been in contact with Spock – or some other Vulcanoid.  And just as obviously, whoever it was, they had been severely injured.  There was a lot of blood.

“Dear lady,” McCoy began, keeping his voice as neutral as possible and thinking fast, “I have studied at the finest universities in Europe – Edinburgh, being one of them – and I can assure you that green blood is possible.”  He drew a breath and lied.  “In the body, copper is critical in the formation and metabolism of red blood cells and connective tissue formation.  In certain…races…that copper comes to dominate over the iron that normally makes our blood red.  It is an aberration, a freak of nature, but it can occur.”

She blinked, somewhat stunned.  “Really?”

Thank God scientific methodology and easily available information were centuries away!  “Of course.”

Rebecca Boone was eyeing him, as if trying to determine whether or not he was trustworthy.  “Do you have…experience of this?” she asked.

“One of my patients has such blood,” McCoy said, deliberately meeting her wary gaze.  “One of my friends,” he added quietly.

“Oh?”

He nodded.  “His name is – ”

Unexpectedly the door to the tavern flew open.  “Consarn it!” Carolina Yadkin declared as he stormed in.  After a glance at the two of them, he moved past McCoy to the counter.  To the surgeon’s chagrin, the blond man picked up the bottle of extra fine Kentucky bourbon and lifted it to his lips.  He downed a fifth of it in one gulp. “What’s this settlement comin’ too?” Yad asked as he wiped his mouth on his buckskin sleeve.  “A man can’t even go for a walk if’n he wants to!”

“Yad, what’s wrong?” Rebecca Boone asked, seemingly glad for the interruption.

“They’ve closed the gate!  Ain’t no one goin’ in or out tonight.”

McCoy scowled.  For more than one reason.  “Why?”

“Injuns.  Shawnee on the warpath.”  Yad took another swig.  “Ain’t nothin’ new.  Those weak-kneed, lily-livered soldiers at the gate ain’t got nothin between their – ”

“Yad, keep your voice down.  The children,” the redhead said.

He nodded.  “Sorry, Becky.”

She smiled at the blond man, though the gesture was forced.  Then she turned to McCoy.  “I really should get upstairs.”

“But you never answered my question.”  He was growing desperate.  The amount of blood on her dress and skin indicated some sort of substantial loss.  There was no one in this century to give Spock a transfusion.  No one but him.  “Do you know where my friend is?”

She opened her mouth.  Almost spoke.  But then shook her head.  “No.”

As Yadkin took another swig, his eyes flicked from one to the other.  “The doc botherin’ you, Becky?”

She had started for the stair.  Now she turned back.  “You know him, Yad?”

“I should!” the frontiersman snorted.  “I caught him easy as a jackrabbit without no sense and brung him in.  Didn’t I, Doc?”

Yadkin’s words were beginning to slur.  McCoy eyed the bottle miserably, and then dismissed it.  “I was on my way to the settlement in search of my friend when I stepped into one of Mr. Yadkin’s traps.  I had the misfortune to strike my head when I was…released.”

“Me and ‘Natus brung him here,” Yad agreed with a lazy nod and a hiccup.

The surgeon could see the war going on within Rebecca Boone.  The struggle showed in her handsome face and was mirrored in her intelligent eyes.  Becky bit her lip and then asked something he had not expected.  “What is his mother’s name?”      

The question took him so off guard, that for a moment McCoy was at a loss.  “I beg your pardon?”

The uncertainty shown in her eyes.  “Your friend with the unusual blood….  What is his mother’s name?”

McCoy couldn’t imagine any possible scenario where Spock would have shared that kind of personal information with a total stranger.  But then he had found, on occasion, that the Vulcan was beyond his imagining.  He cleared his throat before replying.  “Amanda.”

 Rebecca Boone relaxed and nearly tumbled to the floor.  McCoy caught her as she swayed. 

“Here now!” Yad protested, sounding ever more sloshed.  “That’s my best friend’s wife you’re handlin’ there – ”

“Shut up, Yad!” both McCoy and Becky Boone shouted.

“Where is he?  Where’s Spock?” the surgeon demanded as he turned back to her.  “How badly is he hurt?”

“It was bad,” she answered, her voice hushed.  “He almost died.  He went into some sort of trance.  I tried, but Dan brought him out of it.”

“So he’s all right now?”

She shook her head.  “No.  There was this other man.  He’s evil.  He wouldn’t let Spock mend.  He woke him too soon.  He wanted him to die!”

“Other man?”

“Tume.  A black man.  He looks like a slaver, but there’s something else….”  The redhead hesitated.  “I think he’s a…traveler…like Spock and you.”

He wondered exactly what she meant by that, but there was no time to pursue it farther.  “And this man wanted Spock dead?”

She nodded.  “Very much so.”

McCoy’s mind flew back through the things Willow had said before sending him here.  This Tume must be one of the time travelers; one of the ones engaged in the war.  But since Spock and Uhura’s crash landing in this time had been an accident, why would one of the combatants have a special dislike for the Vulcan?

Unless their landing here was not an accident.

“Good God,” he whispered.  “Where is he now?”

“He wasn’t very well, but he was well enough to get up and move.  My husband Dan went with him.  Spock said he had to find his companion.  A woman named Nyota?”

McCoy nodded.  “Uhura.”

“Also, our friend Mingo had helped him.  He’s looking for him as well.”

Well, at least Spock wasn’t alone.  Still, the Vulcan should have been in bed and not on his feet.  From the look of the woman’s dress, he had a serious wound and had probably lost a great deal of blood before getting any sort of treatment.  And unless Uhura had managed to hang on to the kit he had given her through a crash landing, the only store of Vulcan blood on this entire planet was in his 19th century medicine bag upstairs.

“I have to find him,” McCoy declared.

Becky shook her head.  “He’s gone into the wilderness.  I don’t know where.  They were tracking the men who took Mingo.”  She paused and asked hopefully, “Can you read sign?”

“If it’s written clearly and posted above the highway,” McCoy answered with a sigh.  He raised a hand to still her question.  “I take it you mean footprints and such?  No, I can’t do that.”

The redhead’s eyes shot to Yadkin who was just down slipping behind the counter, the empty bourbon bottle in hand.

“Yad can, but he’s in no condition….”

“Not to worry, fair lady,” McCoy countered with a dangerous grin.

He’d packed the sobriety drug.  Just in case.