Still wary even in the empty alleyways, Spock strode purposely over the sandy ground. He had never before been to this particular back-corner of ShiKahr, and he knew his way only by counting the buildings he passed. Naukuh, Lehkuh, Leh-weh, he counted to himself. Tiny insects ran in a curved line across the cracks of the foundations he passed. He stepped to the side to avoid getting his robe caught on the thorns of something similar to a cactus growing out of one of the cracks.
Finally he arrived at the dark, slim doorway that he sought. He had to duck slightly to enter, pushing aside a curtain of beaded strings. The dimly-lit room smelled of a mixture of various offword alkaloids being burned through a water-pipe, combined with sweat both Vulcan and alien. He could barely see because of the smoke, and he could tell the floor was crowded with gourds, large metal cylinders of questionable content, and shoeboxes. Not an altogether appealing place to come after a long day of work, but he would do anything to keep his bondmate happy.
"I am looking for T'Puz," he called into the empty room.
There was a rustling in a deeper room, and a voice called out, "Who are you?"
"I am the one seeking animal flesh from offworld," he called back, wrinking his nose as a lizard crawled over his foot.
A grizzled Vulcan woman with long, messy curls limped out of the back room. An alien reptile Spock could not identify sat perched on her shoulder, sniffing at her hair with a slender snout. "I have what you asked for," said T'Puz.
"I thank you," said Spock. T'Puz limped over to one of the metal cylinders on the floor and released its catch. It sprang with a hiss and Spock could smell the pungent aroma of slain pig rising from the open lid. He could also smell salt, and something sweet. "What do I owe you?"
"Hundred credits," the woman rasped. The thing on her shoulder nodded as if it understood, and agreed.
Spock picked up the metal cylinder and slid it into a pouch he was carrying inside his cloak. With his other hand, he fished around in his pocket and found the woman's money. "Thank you," he said to her as he paid her. He turned to leave.
"Thank you, Captain Spock." The woman smirked as he froze in his tracks. "Don't worry, I am not going to say anything about you coming here, just as you are not going to say anything to the authorities about this place."
Spock nodded. "That is logical." Then he high-tailed it out of the shop.
Upon returning home, Spock found Dr. McCoy in the same place he had left him in that morning, sitting on the sofa propped up by a whole mess of pillows. He had obviously been napping; his clear blue eyes seemed slightly dazed. "Hey, Spock, how was the library?"
"Productive, as usual. We were finally able to decipher the first five pictographs," said Spock. "How are you feeling?" He walked over to the sofa and stroked Leonard's hair.
"We're doing all right, Spock," Len grinned, patting the large bulge in his abdomen affectionately. "Or at least we would be if she'd stop kicking me in strange places."
"She is letting you know that she is alive," Spock pointed out.
"Alive and healthy, thank God."
"And thank science."
"I have something for you." The metal cylinder emerged from under Spock's robe, and he deposited it into his bondmate's swollen hands.
"Whas this--oh, Spock!!" Len's face broke into a twinkly grin as he opened the container and saw the contents. He took a deep, solemn whiff. "Real honeybaked ham. I knew you could do it."
"Although I do not understand completely what you are going through," said Spock, "I do see the logic in your human cravings. The salt, for example, makes you retain water."
"Logic's got nothing to do with it," said McCoy, his eyes closed as he inhaled the scent of the ham. "I keep saying that I missed real good Georgia homecooked food, that's all. And Abigail knows she's got real Georgia roots--."
"She has Vulcan heritage as well," teased Spock, deadpan. "Would she not also crave desert vegetables and cactus fruits?"
"Real Georgia roots, growing in the red clay," said Len in a sing-song voice, pretending to ignore Spock, patting his abdomen again.
Spock relented, and went to the kitchen to get McCoy a plate and silverware. He came back with these items and also a tall glass of a nutrient-enriched energy drink. "Drink this."
"Thank you, Spock."
"One does not thank logic. It is only logical that I do everything I can to ensure the health and comfort of my--"
McCoy took his hand. "No, really, Spock, thank you. I mean it. Everything you've been doin' has been really great, and I--I wanted you to know how much I 'ppreciate it."
There was silence, and a brief, tender kiss.
Then McCoy started to eat his precious ham. Spock sat down on the armchair across from him and watched him eat. "This is great! How did you even find this?"
"From questionable sources."
"You bought me ham on the black market??" Len chuckled.
Spock just sat there, satisfied with himself.
"Hey, you think you could find me a copy of 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil'?" Len asked through a mouthful.
"I believe you have that volume on disk," said Spock, gesturing at the computer screen on the other side of the room.
"Yes, I do, Spock, but there's nothing like a real old-fashioned book to curl up with. I like being able to feel pages under my fingers, and that way, I can stay here on the sofa..."
"I will endeavor to make it more comfortable for you to sit at the computer," said Spock. He loved his bondmate with every fibre of his being, but frankly, the thought of returning to T'Puz's shop for something so illogical made him incredibly unenthusiastic.
"Hey, Spock," said Len, looking up from his ham again, "y'ever had real pecan pie?"