Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom. This story is the property of Sterjulie and is copyright 2008 by Sterjulie. Rated PG13. A/N: Thanks for Dru for her tribble story that kick started my Muse into working again! Setting: After "The Apple".

 

Dedication: To My baby sis, and to Lady Montague, the Chihuahua that soothes and heals her wounds. (I know. ICK! But it's the only thing that is working!)

 

Nary a Lick of Tribble

Ster Julie

 

"Dr. McCoy, this new salve you have provided is as ineffectual as all the previous concoctions."

 

            Doctor McCoy grabbed the tube from the First Officer and tossed over his shoulder and--swish!--unerringly into the disposal chute.

 

            "Spock!" he barked, as frustrated as McCoy thought the Vulcan would be if he'd admit to having emotions, "I'm running out of options here. You've been suffering from that thorn toxin since," he paused to check his chart, "stardate 3715, I know, but I've gone through the pharmacopeia of the whole Starfleet Medical database as well as the healing folklore of Earth, Vulcan, Rigel, and, well, half the galaxy. I can't find a cure from your skin rash. All I can say is be grateful that you're still alive. Remember what happened to Hendorff."

 

            Spock lowered his head. How could he forget Security Guard Hendorff? The man had been cut down by the same type of plant that had attacked Spock moments later. In fact, Spock was reminded of Hendorff's fate every time he scratched his itchy, weepy, irritated skin. Hendorff had paid the ultimate price. Spock was merely inconvenienced.

 

            "You know," McCoy mused, "too bad we don't have a dog onboard."

 

            "A dog?" Spock repeated.

 

            "Yeah, a dog," McCoy reiterated. "I once had a skin rash on my legs so bad that nothing would heal it or ease it up. My grandpappy brought me the runt of this litter of bluetick coonhounds and told me to let it lick my sores. I was only 8 years old, but I was certain that he was just a crazy old man. Grandpappy told me that the enzymes in the puppy's saliva were better than any medicine for healing some things." The doctor looked back at Spock's afflicted chest. "Yeah, I wish we had a puppy on board."

 

* * *

            A few days later, the Enterprise was inundated with--not puppies-- tribbles.

 

            A sleek, black tribble had somehow found its way into the air duct of Mr. Spock's cabin. As Spock was sitting at his desk, ineffectually dealing with the oozing sores on his chest, the vent grating gave way and the dark tribble landed--plop!--on his bare chest.

 

            Spock was hard pressed not to bat the furry thing away. Earlier, he had found that holding a tribble was very soothing, and he gently started rubbing the animal's fur. He sensed something from the tribble, not sentience but perhaps some low-level empathy. Spock was sure that the tribble knew he was experiencing discomfort from the rash on his chest because it was burrowing itself closer to the wounds.

 

            Spock tried to pull the tribble away from his sores, but the creature had other things in mind. It placed its orifice over the wounds and gently began to lick and suck them. Spock was alarmed at first, but then he remembered what McCoy had said about puppy saliva. He also remembered the bioscans done on the creatures and knew that tribbles posed no threat with their chemical makeup, just their reproductive proclivities.

 

            Spock sat back and soon fell asleep in his chair with a sleek dark tribble adhered to his chest. He woke hours later to find that his chest was not as irritated as it was previously. Perhaps there was something to Grandpappy McCoy's advice after all. He carefully stowed the tribble so that it would neither get out of his cabin, find something in his cabin worth eating (thereby breeding), or be removed by some well-meaning cleaning crew.

 

            Spock spent the remainder of the day and night on the problems at Station K-7, on the Klingons, and on the tribbles. He kept careful watch over one tribble in particular through the use of the ship's scanners. Spock was not about to let anything happen to his therapy pet.

 

* * *

 

            It had been a long two days dealing with the Mr. Baris, with the Klingons, with the tribbles, and with the usual day-to-day occurrences on a ship the size of Enterprise. Spock was more than ready for a meal, an hour of meditation, a shower, and a session with his tribble, not necessarily in that order. He first went to check on his tribble.

 

            Spock found a limp ball of fur instead of the vibrant tribble that licked his wounds clean the night before. Spock ran his tricorder over the creature and found that it was dying from ingesting the thorn toxin. The Vulcan held the tribble close to himself as the animal trilled its last.

 

            If Spock was more honest with himself, he would say that he felt like crying at that point. Not only had this beautiful creature died while serving him, Spock had lost the only source of relief for his rash. And he knew that it would not be possible to have another tribble brought aboard this ship without being brought up on mutiny charges, if he knew James T. Kirk as well as he thought he did. Spock sighed in resignation, disposed of the creature's remains, and went to clean up the nest he had made for it in the back of his closet.

 

            When Spock reached his hand in to remove the towel he had provided for the tribble's comfort, he was greeted by a small, trilling ball of fur. He gently scooped out the little being and found that it was nearly a carbon copy of the elder tribble. Spock knew he hadn't fed the previous tribble. Did it find enough nutrients in what it had sucked out of Spock's wound to reproduce? The Vulcan grew queasy at that thought. Holding the new tribble up to the light, he saw that the sable fur of this tribble had highlights of green and rust. Fascinating! The copper and iron in his blood had somehow caused this effect on the tribble. Spock was certain of it.

 

            Spock quickly bared his chest and placed the tribble above the wounds. This baby tribble didn't know what to do at first, but soon Spock felt the gentle lapping of its tiny tongue. The Vulcan then started to have second thoughts. The first tribble died as a direct result of ingesting the remaining thorn toxin. He couldn't knowingly allow that to happen to this newborn tribble. Perhaps if he had two tribbles, then they could share the task and not ingest so much toxin at a time…

 

            Spock looked for his mother's latest care package. He took out one of his favorite cookies and fed the tribble a few of the seeds imbedded into it. He'd start with three sunflower seeds (for the Sacred Three) and then see what happened.

 

            Sure enough, the next morning the young tribble had two babies of its own, each a carbon copy of itself. He set the new tribbles on his wounds and decided to keep the parent tribble for observation. They had not had the opportunity to study one of these remarkable creatures for very long. For one thing, Spock did not know how long a tribble's lifespan was. He planned to find out with the parent tribble.

 

            As for the other two tribbles, Spock only allowed them to attend to his wounds for five minute intervals. He checked each tribble thoroughly for the toxins and found low levels in each tribble. Although Spock's chest demanded more treatment, he let the babies rest for the day. There would be more time after shift when they were older.

 

            After the shift, Spock hurried to his cabin. The young tribbles were fine and had even doubled in size. He stripped off his uniform and put a robe over his shoulders. He placed the tribbles on his bare chest and allowed their parent to rest on his lap.

 

            Soon the gentle little sucks, the warm weight, and the sweet trilling lulled Spock into a deep sleep. The tribbles followed the Vulcan into his dreams and soon they grew larger and larger, sprouting faces, arms, legs and shapely torsos. The two tribble-women on his chest moved to his nipples, while the one in his lap gave attention to his genitalia. The stimulation was most enjoyable, and since Spock somehow knew this was a dream, he allowed it to come to its logical conclusion.

 

            Spock awoke with a great cry and a shudder that nearly dislodged the tribbles from his body. The creatures had other thoughts. They turned away from the wounds on his chest and busily licked Spock clean and dry. Spock shook his head at what had just happened, scanned the tribbles for any distress (There was none), put them in their nest and put himself to bed.

 

            The next morning, Spock found each of the tribbles curled around a single baby each. The elder tribble had given birth to another dark baby, but the younger tribbles had produced verdigris tribbles with rust highlights. The colors were alarming. He scanned the animals and found that the elder tribble was close to death, not from toxins but from producing two litters on such meager nutrients. The other tribbles were not faring well either. He dared not give them even one seed apiece. His chest was now fully healed, and, what would he do with more tribbles? However, he could not allow the creature to starve to death because of him.

 

            Spock dared to let Dr. McCoy in on his secret. He called the physician to his quarters and showed him his healed chest and his undisclosed method of treatment.

 

            "If Jim knew you were harboring a tribble, Spock, he'd skin you alive!" McCoy declared.

 

            "Not 'a' tribble, Doctor," Spock declared, "four. One died a short while ago. And if you did that, Doctor, I would have to implicate you in this manner."

 

            "Me?!" McCoy thundered. "Why?"

 

            "It was you who gave me the idea to use the enzymes in tribble saliva to heal my wounds," he explained.

 

            McCoy shook his head and looked in on the tribbles. He jumped back at the sight of the green and copper fur.

 

            "What the blazes?" he began.

 

            "The only sustenance the tribbles received was from what they extracted from my body," Spock lectured, not daring to tell McCoy everything the tribbles had received from him. "I find higher traces of copper and iron in this generation of tribbles. It has obviously had an effect on the creatures' make-up."

 

            "Well, Spock," McCoy said bouncing on his toes, "I guess you really are what you eat!"

 

            FIN